In the upside-down Kingdom of Jesus,

shepherds are losers and sheep are winners.   Why?  Because He created us humans to be dependents, not independents.   Pride is only a problem of shepherds.   And self-righteousness.   And feeling superior to others.   And irritation, impatience.   And control-freakness.  And fear.   And discouragement.  Why?   In the right-side-up kingdom of this world, we shepherds think we know what’s best for us and those we love.

Lowly, humble, clueless sheep don’t know what’s best, are not wise in their own eyes, do not lean on their own understanding, so they look to their Shepherd for direction: they ask about everything.   And because they don’t know what’s best, they thank Him for everything, even the harrrd.   But.   Clueless sheep have fun in this world, while shepherds have misery, unless things momentarily go their way.   And when things go their way, they become even stronger shepherds.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer to have more fun as DumbSheepDave, so the other shepherd-wannabes will want what he has, want his Shepherd, and the fun of being shepherded by Him (please pray now)

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Jesus delivers happiness,

but only to clueless sheep.   Jesus has nothing to offer other shepherds/independents, those who are wise in their own eyes, leaning on their own understanding.  In fact, Jesus frequently thwarts the attempts of His sheep who are shepherd-wannabes, trying to make their lives work, trying to find happiness, on their own.  Jesus created us to be happy as humble, clueless, lowly sheep, and to be miserable as shepherd-wannabes.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he returns to being DumbSheepDave, asking His Shepherd about everything, thanking Him for everything, especially the harrrd, so he’ll be happy as a clam, no matter the circumstances, so the other sheep will want His Shepherd too (please pray now)

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The quest for independency,

is the curse of the human condition since Adam and Eve.   Humans live in denial of how consumed we are with human accomplishment, somebodiness.  Not just pre-believers, but we believers too.  Materialism is only one facet of the problem.  Believers of modest means are also eaten up with feeling good about self, having some performance of my own, or noting the poor performance of others.

Who will deliver us from this prison, this curse, of being so circumstance-dependent for our joy and peace, and the stress of trying to live as an independent?   Jesus.   He’s in the business of reversing the effects of The Curse in the lives of His kids, by lovingly bringing suffering into our lives to painfully retrain us in a better way to live: as childlikes, created-dependent sheep, looking to the Good Shepherd to take care of the details of life, so we can just have fun, being directed by Him.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer to return to being a contented clueless sheep, with no need for somebodiness/performance of his own, so the other sheep will be wowed and want what he has (please pray now)

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Loving pre-believers is fruitful.

Excerpt pasted below, from the prayer letter of a missionary couple I’ve been praying for, who spend lots of time building intimate friendships with pre-believers in an edgy section of London.

–WeakDave, trying to encourage believers to spend time with pre-believers

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“Someone knocked on Oli’s door.  It was a guy our team had met on the streets several weeks before. He had prayed with Constance and Oli, and for the first time in his life had acknowledged that Jesus was Lord and the only way to come to the Father.  That day he was drunk.  Last night he was completely sober.  He had a crumpled flyer for the Jesus study in his hand, and a question for Oli burning in his mind.  He has been sober since Constance prayed for him, and he has felt alive and eager to tell people about Jesus – and he wanted to know: `What has happened to me?!’  Oli explained that when we put our trust in Jesus as Lord, he comes and lives in us – what he was experiencing was the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in his life!  He now wants to become part of the church and be baptized.  How awesome is that?!  Rejoice with us and with the angels that one of God’s lost children has been found – and also pray for Oli and all of us in Lysan as we welcome this guy and grow together as disciples of Jesus.”

The yoke of a created-dependent sheep,

trying to be an independent/CEO/orphan/shepherd, is extremely heavy, burdensome.  A Curse, weighing down the sheep: we get stressed, exhausted, from having the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Why do we sheep do this?  We believe a lie, that we’ll be happier functioning as shepherds/somebodies, rather than lowly sheep.  Common.  Ordinary.  Nobodies.  Losers, by comparison.  Unable to direct myself, captain my soul, master my fate.  No glory to me, because all glory goes to shepherds/somebodies.

But the Good Shepherd offers His own yoke to His sheep, and it’s as light as a feather.  Easy as pie.  And for those who are humbled by the Spirit, into wearing it, LIFE-giving.  Effortless existence when I function as DumbSheepDave, because my joy and peace have nothing to do with my circumstances.  Ahhh.  Tis so sweet to freshly trust in Jesus: freshly dead to being something I was never designed to be.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he experiences LIFE as DumbSheepDave, enticing the pre-believers around him to want what he has (please pray now)

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He’s weaning me off artificial life,

and wooing me onto LIFE in Jesus.  How?  By lovingly thwarting my attempts at independence.  It’s harrrd when my plans/agenda are thwarted, but it’s good harrrd, needful harrrd, because the biggest deal in town, is being retrained to live and work out of communion with Jesus.  DependentDave.  DumbSheepDave.  Ahhh.  Whatever it takes, Lord.  I want You to matter so much, that nothing else hardly does.

–IndependentDave, ShepherdDave, needing fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he can experience afresh the ecstasy of His unconditional love and the benefit of His shepherding, so he’ll have LIFE that’s compelling to the pre-believers around him (please pray now)

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It feels like I’m alone,

a lot of the time, because the world, flesh, devil want me feeling alone, that it’s up to me to make my life work, leaning on my own understanding, being wise in my own eyes, as I attempt to engineer happiness for myself and others, solve the problems before me, make decisions, captain my soul, master my fate, as ShepherdDave.

But when the Spirit of Jesus graciously, lovingly, tenderly, convicts me of the sin of independence/shepherdness, I confess my sin and am restored to the bliss of created-dependency as DumbSheepDave. Ahhh. Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. Tis so stressful to trust in Dave.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of sin, so his joy and peace wow those around him, especially pre-believers, so they want what he has (please pray now)

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Following Jesus is impossible,

but it’s possible to try and follow His principles/teaching. There’s a vast, night-and-day difference between following Jesus, and trying to follow His principles. All earnest Christians I know, myself included, work hard at following His principles. And some nonChristians I know, really like some of His principles and try to follow them. But neither Christian or nonChristian trying to follow His principles, experience the abundant LIFE He promises to those who follow Him.

In order for me to follow Him, He must do a supernatural work in my life. A miracle. Each time His Spirit freshly convicts me of my sin of independence, of me trying to be lord/shepherd/CEO of my own life, it feels easy and natural to follow Him. The miracle of fresh conviction of the sin of independence, is what enables me, empowers me, motivates me, to follow Him. But it doesn’t last long usually, because the world, the flesh and the devil want me independent, leaning on my own understanding, being wise in my own eyes, as I attempt to captain my own soul, master my own fate. And I’m easily snookered into believing a lie, that happiness, abundant LIFE, can be found by my controlling/managing my life circumstances. I only experience abundant LIFE, when following Jesus.

How can I tell when I’m following Jesus, or trying to follow His principles? I know I’m following Jesus when I have a healthy indifference to all the things that charm me most, especially my primary areas of idolatry: relationships, ministry, investments, health, hobbies. I know I’m following Jesus, when my joy and peace have nothing to do with my circumstances, and this is easier to see, when my circumstances are really harrrd: when my idols are threatened. I know I’m following Jesus when I am asking Him about everything, and thanking Him about everything, because I don’t know what’s best for me and those I love, and so I don’t know what’s thankable and what’s not. I know I’m following Jesus when I’m freshly wowed by Him and His amazing love for such a failure as I, to the point where I hardly care about anything else.

What do I do when I realize I’m trying to follow His principles instead of following Him? I ask folks to pray for the Spirit to freshly convict me of my sin of independence, and I pray that way for myself.

–ShepherdDave, always needing prayer to be DumbSheepDave, freshly wowed by his Shepherd, curious and expectant to see what his Shepherd will do next, how his Shepherd will provide the abundant LIFE that deeply satisfies, so the pre-believers around him will be wowed by the Shepherd of DumbSheepDave, and want this same LIFE (please pray now)

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