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

Pastor recruiting prayer for his own heart.

The paragraph below was written in September by one of the pastors I mentor, doing a great job of recruiting prayer, weekly, from outside his congregation, for revival in his own heart, and in the dwindling, revival-resistant congregation he began pastoring 18 months ago, with little progress to report.  And below that, an October report.

–WeakDave, recruiting prayer for himself and those he influences, that Jesus might be making such a difference in our lives right now, that believers and pre-believers around us are wowed and want Jesus to do the same in them

Early September:

“I’ve been reading through Nehemiah and one thing has struck me very clearly.  Nehemiah was a man of prayer, and he prayed because the assignment he had was impossible.  He was a very talented guy and he had abundant resources.  Yet, he was about the task of building more than simply a wall.  He was attempting to bring spiritual renewal to a people who had not learned their lessons from their previous captivity.  He was also opposed by enemies of God’s people.  His task was WAY beyond him.  So, he prayed, and then he worked hard.  He prayed while he worked.  He prayed after.  I am a man of gifts and resources.  They may not be much, but they are enough for me to trust in all too quickly.  I am assigned a task that is impossible.  I am involved in leading a church into renewal and into bringing the Kingdom of God to a dark, desolate world.  It will require MUCH work.  In light of this, why do I not pray more?  I know it sounds spiritually mature for me to ask people to pray that I would pray more.  I need more than that.  I need you to pray for repentance.  I think I am more capable than I am.  I think I am smarter than I am.  I think I am good enough with people, much more than I actually am.  I am enough in myself.  Give me a little ministry success and a little encouragement from church folks, and those ideas sink even deeper into my heart.  That is scary.  In reality, I am the deluded fool.”

Early October:

“I am thankful today for what my Father has been doing lately, and I know your prayers have contributed to this.  Let me fill you in.  Our church is no longer on the brink of bankruptcy.  Last year at this time we are wondering if we would have to sell our property.  That is no longer in the conversation.  We finished the year in the black (income vs. expenses), and we were closer to budget than we have been in YEARS!  Our attendance is trending upward.  People are not leaving any more like they were for the first 1 ½ years I was here.  There is a positive atmosphere in the church that was not here when we got here.  People’s lives are being changed by the Spirit.  One of my deacons is giving a testimony during worship this Sunday of the Spirit’s work in his life.  I don’t think this is what you would call a ‘Holy Ghost Revival’…yet.  I think the Spirit is at work, and I am very encouraged.”

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

I’m not addicted to computer games,

but I am addicted to ministry, relationships, investments, health management, and toys (cars/motorcycles).   A missionary friend wrote in his prayer letter about a new addiction to a computer game.  “I found myself thinking about the game continuously — when I first woke up, in quiet moments throughout my day, and when I went to sleep at night.  The game was filling the empty spaces between activities, dominating my thought life.”

AHA, I do the very same thing, with thoughts about ministry, relationships, investments, health management, and toys.  Looking to these areas, instead of Jesus, to provide me with LIFE: this gives me something to look forward to, gives me reasons for living.  Satan could not be more pleased, that I place good things like these, on a par with Jesus, or worse, above Jesus at times, gauged by the intensity with which I ponder, research, explore in my areas of idolatry.   Not bad things; all good things; but competing with Jesus for my affections.

Only shepherds have idolatry problems.  Sheep are too stupid for such things, and are happy enough just to be cared for by their shepherd, and experience a joy and peace that ought to make stressed-out shepherds envious.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer to embrace being DumbSheepDave, enjoying his ShepherdJesus more than he enjoys feeling good about himself through other strategies, so the pre-believers around him will be wowed and want his ShepherdJesus for themselves

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