I honor Jesus with my lips,

but my heart is far from Him, when I’m leaning on my own understanding, wise in my own eyes, confident I know what’s best for me and others, pursuing my agenda, asking Him to bless my agenda, so I reach my goals, feel worthy.  When I function as an independent/shepherd/CEO, I have the name of Jesus, but not the benefit of Jesus.  Only Jesus-dependents experience the joy and peace that has nothing to do with circumstances, is contagious to others.

Jesus-dependency is impossible for me to generate from within, is not a fruit of discipline, is a work of the Spirit, a fruit of fresh conviction of the sin of independence.  I get zero credit for any dependency anyone might ever see in me.

–DumbSheepDave, baby steppin in more-dependent directions because folks have been praying, hoping the prebelievers around him are noticing the difference Jesus is making

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All believers who work hard at being good,

who live under the constant burden of performing well, are invited by Jesus to a delightfully-easy way of living, where we no longer need to prove ourselves to God, others, self, as independents, carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, facing life struggles alone.  Jesus modeled for us a dependent lifestyle, which is restful, easy, fun.  No problems, no jobs to fix.  ShepherdJesus’ problems, and His jobs to fix.  Ahhh.

A dependent does have one job.  To be curious and expectant to see what Jesus does next, in me, others, circumstances.  And to ask Him and thank Him about everything.  And if I forget?  CONFESS.  Satan wants me berating myself, not confessing.

Problem is, I need fresh humility to wear the yoke of Jesus, the yoke of dependency, and fresh humility is impossible, apart from fresh conviction of the sin of independence.  But I can ASK to be convicted afresh.  Ahhh.

–DumbSheepDave, baby steppin in more dependent directions, because folks have been praying, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference

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“Follow me,” said Jesus.

Stop following yourself, stop your independence, and depend on Me.  Do I follow, in the power of me?  No, that’s independence.  Dependence is a work of the Spirit, a gift from Above, as a result of fresh conviction of the sin of independence/self-confidence/self-reliance.  The fruit of dependency, is amazing humility and amazing love, joy, peace.  Dependency is priceless — the pearl of great price, worth selling all to get.  A dependent cares nothing for his own performance/worthiness/reputation.  Doesn’t care if he’s pitied, or rejected.  A dependent has fun regardless of circumstances.

–DumbSheepDave, having more fun than ever, because folks have been praying, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference

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Young doctor/team-leader of missionaries in rural Uganda,

just diagnosed with colon cancer.   All of World Harvest is in shock.  I’m copying his letter to his Pray-ers below, because it will point you to Jesus.  This is for your benefit, not his.  He has plenty of folks praying for him.

–WeakDave, trying to promote the Jesus-dependency this friend is requesting

 

This past Friday I was diagnosed with adenomcarcinoma of the colon- colon cancer.  When the GI specialist told us he found a suspicious mass on a colonoscopy, tears fell down my face.  I was hoping he was going to show me a 12 foot long tapeworm that he pulled out of my gut.   I feared maybe some sort of inflammatory bowel disease.  I did not expect cancer.

I am thankful for how Africa has given me a chance to walk closer with Jesus. There are three things that I have learned these past three years that He has reminded me over the past several days.

First, suffering is a part of this life.  It is not an anomaly.  We all suffer.  Most of the world suffers much everyday.  If you have not read “Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken, please do.   We live in a broken world in which suffering is as assured as the sunrise.  So, my reaction is not “why me” but more “why now?”

Secondly, Jesus is in the depths of suffering.  He purposely does not prevent suffering.  He purposely draws near to us in our suffering.  The believers I know who have suffered much, know Jesus deeply.  Instead of praying daily, they converse with Jesus continually.  I have learned this from some of my dear Uganda friends.

Jesus is in the midst of this newest trial/adventure/curveball/scare. It is amazing to me that we are near my family with a caring church and some of our closest friends.  This was planned before I had symptoms.  We have already been showered by these dear friends and family with prayers, help, words of truth and ministry of presence.  I am in the US and not in the jungles of Africa.  I am near a fantastic medical center. We have a place to stay, a job that allows me to be available for appointments, and a mission that is praying for me from all over the world.  I had a colonoscopy because of symptoms similar to amebiasis.  The symptoms are not necessarily related to the mass I have, especially given the smaller size of the mass.  These symptoms have largely resolved over the past week since my colonoscopy.  It could be that my symptoms are from an infection or the strange fever I had last fall and only related to the mass by the hand of God, who wanted the mass to be found.

Sometimes I find myself stuck on a passage and meditate on it for days or weeks. This month, I have been camping out on Psalms 16.  I wasn’t sure why Jesus had me there, until after the diagnosis.  I re-read it that afternoon and the words seem to jump off the page as if the Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me.  In all of these I am thankful to say that we have seen and felt profoundly Jesus’s presence and His tender care to go before us.  I have another chance to walk with Him grasping His hand tightly.

Thirdly, prayer moves the heart and hand of God.  Over and over again in Uganda we saw how your prayers seemed to change outcomes, overcome fears and open up doors for Jesus to be worshiped.

So, once again, I ask you to pray.  I know God hears.  I know He cares.  I know He acts when His people ask.

Please pray for the following:

Pray that we can listen- that we may be able to take the time to see how Jesus is present and working around and through us.  We do not want to be so rushed in “fixing” the problem to miss an opportunity to walk with Him and hear what He is saying.

Pray that we will know the right treatment plan of cure for me.  There are a couple of surgical options and chemotherapy options that are available.  We want to be wise and correctly treat the cancer I have.  We want to be aggressive.  We do not want to walk in fear and take an approach based on fear of what might happen down the road and could lead to unneeded side effects or outcomes.  I don’t know what is best at this time.

Pray that God will protect our minds in Christ Jesus with a peace that passes all understanding.  Today I can honestly say I do not fear the cancer. I do see this as a chance to walk with Jesus.  I also know this will change daily as news causes me to vacillate from confidence to being disheartened.

Pray for Amy and I as we walk this together.  She will be bearing the brunt of the changes and consequences.  Pray for encouragement for her. Pray that we can communicate well.

Pray for our children.  As always, my prayer is that they will know and love Jesus more because of my life.  Pray that we go to Jesus together constantly and I know how to include them in this chapter of our life.

Pray for our team, friends, and ministry in Bundibugyo.  We will certainly be delayed in our return which will impact a lot of people.  Pray for wisdom as we try to sort out what the plan forward should be.

Thanks so much for your friendship and love.  Thanks for your prayers and words of encouragement.  Keep them coming.  We are desperate for these.

Thankful for you,

Travis

Chaplain leads resident to Jesus.

For the past twenty years I’ve mentored this former pastor, now chaplain of a large nursing home.  Jesus is growing him wonderfully as an example of what GospelFriendships is attempting.

–WeakDave, trying to get us believers to do the impossible, operate with Jesus-power — Jesus-humility and Jesus-love, so we will fruitfully love pre-believers into the Kingdom

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I received paperwork on a new resident who went to church when young, but with an alcoholic father.  Never went as an adult.  I picked up my Bible and song book and started down the hall to “bring her to Christ”.  Half way down the hall, I had a strong sense something was wrong.   I sat down on a chair in the hall, repented of being in the flesh, and asked God the Spirit what He wanted me to do.  A song came to my heart from a popular movie, not a church song!  I left my Bible and song book on the chair and went to this 86-year-old lady’s room — with no “righteousness” of my own, and no agenda but to love her.  I knocked, she answered and I told her who I was and she rolled her eyes in disgust.  “Are you going to read the Bible and pray?”  “No,” I replied.  And after a moment of awkwardness, I said, “Where did you get all these wonderful paintings?”   She said, “I painted them!”  And proceeded to tell me about all her paintings over the next half hour.  “I have to go,” I said.  Then she asked, “Are you going to read the Bible and pray?”   “No,” I replied, “But I think God wants me to sing you a song.”   I proceeded to sing If I Were a Rich Man, from Fiddler on the Roof, with blushing gusto.   I obeyed but I did not understand.   She laughed and said, “You are an odd minister, but I like you.”  Two weeks later we had a heart-to-heart talk about family pain, God, etc., and she gave her life to Christ right there.  She still comes to my services today, three years later.

Paul Tripp show us,

the power of a preacher being the chief confessor.  For those of you who didn’t see this on my Facebook page.

http://vimeo.com/61121978#  

Evangelical delusion.  Grace is for failures.
--WeakDave, trying to promote the impossibility of following Jesus in the power of me

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Tormented by bad decisions.

My flesh demands that I be perfect in every decision I make.  Sometimes I’m tormented by bad decisions, even tiny ones, but I always get LIFE from good ones, big or small.  It’s easy to extend grace to someone I like who makes a bad decision, but I struggle to extend that same grace to myself.  My joy is robbed.  Why?  Pride.  A humble believer is not tormented by a bad decision, and easily extends grace to himself as he experiences failure.

Fresh humility is impossible without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the soul of a proud man.

–DumbSheepDave, taking baby steps in enjoying others, himself, ShepherdJesus, and circumstances, just as they are, because folks have been praying, hoping pre-believers are noticing

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Why always talk about sin, Dave?

Why not be more positive?  Fair question.  Seems to me the Church has dumbed down the law and dumbed down sin, like the Pharisees did, so the Christian life seems doable, possible, the commands keepable.  We believers seem to have the impression that sin is something we occasionally do, when in fact, we never stop sinning: there’s a dark side, self-serving side, to our most-noble, seeeemingly-selfless deeds.  We think of sin in outside-the-cup ways, and spend little time talking about inside-the-cup sin/idolatry, and I think Satan could not be more pleased, at snookering us into believing that the really-bad sin is the technicolor sin, that we believers with our acts together, are pretty good folks.  Pharisee thinking.

I never set out to talk about my sin all the time, but I did begin to ask Pray-ers to pray for my faith life, my dependency on Jesus.  And the way He has answered those prayers over time, is to open my eyes and enable me to see many sins/idols that I never saw previously.  Getting new large glimpses of how much worse I am than I ever dreamed, would be depressing, were it not for the ever-growing foundation of grace in my life, that began in 1984 when Janet and I went through World Harvest’s Sonship Course, which was life-changing for both us.  Today I’m convinced that the nicest, sweetest, kindest, most-loving thing He ever does for me, is to freshly convict me of my sin of independence/self-reliance: my passion for worthiness of my own, unsatisfied with Jesus and His worthiness imputed to me.

When I have a sense of having been forgiven little, I love only a little: Jesus, others, myself.  When I love only a little, I’m critical, judgmental, competitive, rejoicing in the failure of others, both believer and pre-believer, and self-contemptful at my own failure.  I don’t enjoy others just as they are, me just as I am, Jesus and His plan for my life, just as it is.  Circumstance-dependent for my joy and peace.  Having the name of Jesus, but not the benefit of Jesus.  Living as joylessly and peacelessly as the pre-believers around me, because I’m so confident I know what would be best for me and those I love.  Independent not dependent.  ShepherdDave, not DumbSheepDave.

–DumbSheepDave, having an even better year than last year, which was the best year of his life, because folks have been praying

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