How does Jesus retrain me,

in a better way to live — more Jesus-dependent?   By thwarting my agenda.

My agenda for sleep, optimal health, controlling my circumstances, reaching goals, fixing things, getting places rapidly and efficiently.  Independence/self-reliance.  Lovingly thwarting my agenda.  ShepherdDave thinks a loving God should bless his agenda.  Just the opposite, oftentimes.   Jesus made me for dependency, and I’m happiest when I’m DumbSheepDave, asking, thanking, curious, expectant, to see what my ShepherdJesus does next.   Kinda like playing a video game where I respond to whatever comes next, instead of feeling the need to design the video game.   Ahhhh, tis so sweet to be DumbSheepDave, trusting in his Sheperd’s perfect plan for him.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for the Spirit to freshly convict him of the sin of independence — being unsatisfied with Jesus and His performance, so he comes running back to Jesus, and dependency, so the pre-believers around him are wowed by the difference his ShepherdJesus makes in his life (please pray now)

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Jesus offers to join me in every opportunity,

challenge, problem, I face.   My typical response?  I don’t even consider Him.   Why?  World, flesh, devil want me to believe I can find happiness through human achievement.  Independence, not dependence.  Dependence is repulsive to a grown man.   So instead of the peace that passes understanding, and joy unspeakable, as DumbSheepDave, asking and thanking my ShepherdJesus about everything, curious and expectant to see what my ShepherdJesus will do next, I experience unnecessary intensity, stress, misery, as I attempt to deal with my opportunities, challenges, problems, on my own, with the weight of the world on the shoulders of ShepherdDave, who is to be pitied above all men, for though he has the name of Jesus, he has not the benefit of Jesus: Jesus-dependency.   ShepherdDave has no advantage over pre-believers, except for the promise of Heaven.   And pre-believers are not wowed by the Jesus in ShepherdDave, because there is so little of Jesus in him.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he experiences abundant LIFE as DumbSheepDave, having something pre-believers want (please pray now)

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Y director has a Gospel buddy.

Excerpts from the former-pastor-now-Y-director’s recent prayer update.  He loves his Y job, hanging out with so many pre-believers.

“The convert from last year I wrote about has become a sorta tag-team Gospel buddy with me.  He befriends people and starts the conversations toward God things, then directs them to me to answer harder questions about life, relationships, and theology.  Here’s part of his conversion story:”

‘As I grew into my thirties, I attempted to fill an empty void in my life with self-glorification, greed and vanity.  At one point I thought I was God.  I was making a lot of money, I had ever material possession I could ever want or need, and was living a self-absorbed-but-self-destructive lifestyle.   I was becoming like my dad, who has been filled with anger and rage for as long as I can remember.   I did not want to be him and knew I desperately needed help.

‘In early 2010 after realizing that I was failing miserably in every aspect of my life, having nowhere else to turn, I prayed to God for guidance and help.   He delivered that to me in the form of a spiritual mentor and someone I now have the distinct privilege to call a friend.   I walked into this person’s office at our local YMCA in March 2010, loaded with questions about Christianity.  Over the months that followed I gradually learned who Jesus is and in the summer of 2010, accepted Him as my Savior, and my life is so much better.  I’m no longer alone in this world!  I don’t have to bear the burdens of life on my shoulders alone.  My wife has since joined me on this journey, and we are now raising our children ages seven and five, in a Jesus-centered home.’

The Y director also added, “I started another outreach class at our Y.  It is called ‘The Silver Screen & Pearly Gates.’ I’m showing movie clips and trying to draw out discussions regarding religious themes in the movies.   I happen to think there are a number of movies that scream for the real Gospel.  I’m following a course of thought that Lewis and Tolkein shared when they purposed to create myths to stir people’s hearts toward the ‘true myth.’ I think Hollywood does that without being conscious of it.”

–ShepherdDave, thanking Jesus for the many who pray for him to return to being DumbSheepDave, and who pray for the ministry of GospelFriendships (please pray now)

To read past email updates, or free subscribe: gospelfriendships.icontact.com or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

Independence is just as contagious as dependence/faith.

If I am surrounded by independents — pre-believers or believers, their independence subtly undermines my Jesus-dependence, and I begin to see independence as normal, natural.   News, movies, books, periodicals, all whisper, “Independence is normal: humans are supposed to be in charge of their own lives.”  Then prayer becomes an after-thought for me, something I do when nothing else works.   And my prayer is likely to be, “Jesus bless my agenda.”  Because I know what’s best for me and those I love, and my job is to get Jesus to see the need, and act: do my bidding.

And when I function as an independent, I have what independents have: human power.  Jesus makes little difference in my daily life: I’m just as stressed, hurried, intense, as the pre-believers around me.   They are not wowed by the Jesus in me, because there is so little of Him in me.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so others are wowed by the difference ShepherdJesus makes in the life of DumbSheepDave (please pray now)

Financial update on GospelFriendships:

Each year about this time I update folks on the financial health of GospelFriendships.   We’ve been running a $5k deficit and I’m guessing we’ll end up that way by year end.   I took a pay cut last year, and will need to take another, if we end up short.   Some have surprised me in the past with additional year-end gifts, and some have made first-time gifts, and some have begun sending monthly support, and some have increased their monthly support, and many are simply unable to help.   I never know what to expect, but Jesus has always provided wonderfully for Janet and me, and I have no good reason to doubt Him this year.   I sensed He wanted me to let folks know.

To read past email updates, or free subscribe: gospelfriendships.icontact.com or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

I love feeling superior to Penn State,

and Jerry Sandusky, love seeing others as evil/wicked, love feeling outraged at the failings/weaknesses/sins of others, so I feel superior, so I feel good about myself.   At least my flesh loves it.   ShepherdDave loves it.   CompetitiveDave loves it.   JudgeDave loves it.

But when the Spirit freshly opens my eyes to the ways I’m just like Jerry Sandusky, and other losers — not on the surface, but down deep on a root level — independent at my core, willful, agendified, leaning on my own understanding so I think I know what’s best for me, so I can engineer my circumstances toward happiness/LIFE, I’m freshly convicted of my sin of independence.   Jerry is more independent/evil/wicked than I am, but this doesn’t excuse my independence/evil/wickedness, which motivates me to pray, “God bless my agenda.”  Because I know what’s best for me, and don’t trust that Jesus does.  He’s my MagicGenieInTheSky.   And IndependentDave/ShepherdDave is never satisfied with Jesus and His performance imputed to Dave: he wants something more: some of his own.

In my Bible, as I’ve read through it in recent years, whenever I come to the words “evil” or “wicked”, I scratch them out and write in “independent”.   It’s changed the way I look at myself, God, others, and my circumstances.   He who has little sense of having been forgiven, Jesus said, has little love for Jesus, and others, especially those hardest to love: those with values most different from his own.   And only feels loved by God when things go his way.  Feels unloved by God when they don’t.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he’s freshly undone, and his undoneness is contagious, enabling him to love the pre-believers around him in ways that melt their hearts and cause them to want a ShepherdJesus for themselves (please pray now)

To read past email updates or free subscribe: gospelfriendships.icontact.com or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

I’m never wowed by Jesus,

when I’m JudgeDave, clear-sighted about the weaknesses/failings of others — especially the opponents of my favorite sports teams.  JudgeDave is always blind to his own sin, always leaning on his own understanding, always wise in his own eyes.   Only when the Spirit of Jesus freshly convicts me of my sin of judgeship/independence/orphanhood, am I freshly wowed by Jesus and His love for one of His sheep who is unsatisfied with his Shepherd and His performance, wanting some performance of his own, wanting to shepherd his own life, so he can feel good about himself.

And only when I’m freshly wowed by Jesus, are the pre-believers around me wowed by the Jesus in me, because of the supernatural-humility and supernatural-love they experience being in relationship with me.

–JudgeDave, needing prayer today and everyday, for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he no longer needs to prove himself to himself or others, because he’s freshly overwhelmed by Jesus’  amazing love for an ungrateful, runaway sheep (please pray now)

To read past email updates from WeakDave, or free subscribe: gospelfriendships.icontact.com or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

Am I hopeful that Jesus will surprise me,

by making a bigger, deeper difference in my life, that wows those around me, and wows me?  Or have I believed the lie of the devil that what is, will always be; or worse?  Is there way more unbelief in me than I’ve realized?  Do I need to confess my unbelief in the possibility of Jesus surprising me by changing my circumstances, or changing me, or maybe both?

–ShepherdDave, who is typically resigned to what is, or scared, trying to avoid worse, except when he’s been freshly convicted of his unbelief, so he confesses and is temporarily returned to being DumbSheepDave, feeling cherished by his ShepherdJesus, and hardly caring about anything else in his life, curious and expectant to see what ShepherdJesus will do next, hopeful of being surprised by Him, so the pre-believers around him are wowed and want Jesus to do this for them (please pray now for fresh conviction of unbelief in ShepherdDave)

To read past email updates from WeakDave, or free subscribe: gospelfriendships.icontact.com or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

Satan’s most damaging strategy,

is to get me to believe that my life is mine to live, and that all humans have our own lives to live.   But I’m no longer a free man.  Freedom is a lie and an illusion, to keep believers in the prison of human accomplishment, the prison of feel-good-about-self-based-on-my-performance.

I’ve been bought with a price, and my life is no longer mine to live.  I belong to ShepherdJesus, and today I have no problems and no jobs.  All the problems and jobs before me, are Jesus’ problems, and Jesus’ jobs.  Except one.  My job, is to ask and thankHim about everything, and be curious and expectant to see what He will do next, in me, in others, in my circumstances: what Hewill empower me to accomplish.   And when I fail/struggle to do my job — to believe, the enemy wants me full of self-contempt.  ShepherdJesus, on the other hand, tells me to simply confess.   Ahhh, tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he temporarily gives up his prideful ways, and returns to being a happy, clueless, dependent sheep, so the pre-believers around him are wowed by the difference his Shepherd makes in his life, and want his Shepherd too (please pray now)

To read past email updates from WeakDave, or free subscribe: gospelfriendships.icontact.com or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com