Proclaiming the Gospel – Today

Proclaiming the Gospel today, requires a different

approach than in Paul’s day.  Seems to me.  Why?  Two thousand years of people all over the world, hearing about Christians and Christianity, with many negative opinions formed about us, most with justification.  What worked for Paul, doesn’t work today, with most audiences.  If Paul were here today, I think he would understand his audience, just like he did in Athens.

(Announcement: I’ve begun posting these weekly updates on a new Facebook Page.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/GospelFriendships-WeakDave/151549114904487?sk=wall  Or search on FB for GospelFriendships – one word, and you’ll find it.  This update today is taken from the “Info” section.  If you’re on FB you might prefer to read and pray for me on FB: all you need to do is “like” the Page.)

Proclaiming the Gospel today in a skeptical world, needs to be done in the context of individual relationships, so pre-believers can hear from a believer they have come to know and trust, how the Jesus is impacting the life of the believer, setting the believer free, from the worst aspect of the human condition: the notion that independency is desirable, and dependency, anathema.

But if believers are not experiencing Jesus-dependency, what do we really have to say to pre-believers? What hope can we give them?  We are resounding gongs, clanging cymbals.  So our biggest need, is a changed us.  Our message will flow naturally, effortlessly, from a changed us.  The hindrance to pre-believers embracing Jesus, has more to do with us, than them.  And most pre-believers don’t know us that well: don’t know our struggles to rest in Jesus, our failures in following Him.  And frequently, it’s because we don’t know ourselves very well, living in denial of how pathetic we really are, ashamed to admit to ourselves, less other believers, much less pre-believers, the truth about ourselves.  He who has a sense of having been forgiven only a little, loves Jesus and others, only a little.

The nicest, sweetest, kindest thing He ever does for us, is to freshly convict us of our sin, especially the sin of independence, so we are undone afresh, dead to our idols/agendas afresh, in love with Jesus afresh, experiencing afresh the peace that is superior to understanding, and a joy unspeakable, so we are in a position to love others, especially the hard to love: those with values most different from our own.

–IndependentDave, needing prayer to function as a Jesus-dependent, so the pre-believers around him will be wowed and want what he has (please pray now)

Agendaless Living

I’ve hardly ever experienced it.   Intellectually, I know that I’m supposed to follow Jesus, because He is supposedly Lord of my life, but in my typical day, it’s all about my agenda, my will, and this causes me to be intense, driven, joyless and peaceless unless things momentarily go my way, but even then, I still live with tension in my body.   A Jesus-dependent has no agenda of his/her own, except, to follow Jesus.   So a Jesus-dependent asks about everything, and thanks about everything.   A Jesus-dependent is childlike, clueless about what would be best for self and those s/he loves.  The body of a Jesus-dependent needs no medication to relieve tension, stress, because a Jesus-dependent experiences stress-free living.  Stress is a fruit of agenda.   A Jesus-dependent listens to his body to determine if stress is creeping in.   Jesus uses our bodies to help us recognize agenda/willfulness/self-reliance, and our bodies react, rebel, tell us to stoppit, or the stress symptoms will get worse.

–IndependentDave, needing prayer to function as DependentDave, with a peace that blows others away, especially pre-believers, so they will want what he has (please pray now)

What I Want More Than Anything in the World

is Jesus-dependency.  Whatever it takes, DaddyJesusSpirit, to get me from Dave-dependency to Jesus-dependency, that’s what I want: I offer up to you my health, my ministry, my savings, my reputation: do with them whatever is best, for me and for Your Kingdom.  I do not know what is best, though my flesh wants me to believe I do, and the devil wants me to believe I do, and the world around me would have me believe they do, and that I should.  I want to be changed so that I live and work out of communion with You, every day, all day.  So whatever it takes, Lord, please do it, that You might be glorified in me and through me, that pre-believers who know me well, would be wowed by the difference You make in my life, and want also, a peace and joy that is vastly superior to the peace and joy that come from human-understanding/human-wisdom/independence.

–IndependentDave, needing prayer to be a Jesus-dependent (please pray now)

Not curious and expectant

When I’m not curious and expectant, to see what God will do next, in my circumstances, I’m living by flesh, not by faith: functioning as an independent/orphan/adultlike, wise in my own eyes, leaning on my own understanding, and my biggest need at that moment, is fresh conviction of the sin of independence/unbelief, so I can confess, and be delivered from The Curse, the hell, the prison, of a created-dependent trying to live as an independent: captain of my soul, master of my fate, circumstance-dependent for my joy and peace, addicted to feeling good about self, unsatisfied with Jesus and His righteousness.

–StrongDave, needing prayer to embrace weakness/dependency so he’ll return to asking about everything and thanking about everything, so the pre-believers around him will be wowed by his joy and freedom and want what he has (please pray now)

God-thing in Chile


Chip Jones is a blue-collar-kinda-guy World Harvest Missionary I spent a lot of time mentoring while he and wife Meredith were raising support several years ago.  Unlikely candidate to be a missionary.  Not a seminary grad.   Not even a college grad. But they were sponges for being trained in Jesus-dependency, and they have been modeling ministry from weakness, to both believer and nonbeliever.   While in language school in Costa Rica, Chip befriended a street beggar/druggie, who over time, prayed to receive to Jesus, quit drugs, got a job, because Chip was like no other Christian this street beggar had ever come across.  Though untrained, Chip is a gifted communicator of biblical truth, and the chief repenter/failure/mess when he opens his mouth to teach/share.  His faith is contagious.  Here’s the latest prayer update from Chip and  Meredith, where Chip was one of several speakers at a ten-day retreat.

–WeakDave, recruiting prayer for the Church to be transformed in our day


Have you ever seen something happen that was impossible?

Well we just have.  We just got back from 10 days at a Christian camp in Linares, Chile.  About 200 folks camped among the eucalyptus along the river.  I knew about many of the struggles in that particular church and had heard the squabbling of God’s children.  As they came to camp, many seemed to have someone else that they wanted God to touch and change…perhaps those teens who were doing things that they shouldn’t, or that hypocritical leader, or ……. well, typical church sentiments.  You know what I am talking about…that we always want God to change others

 

As the word was taught, many began to find that they had been living like modern-day Pharisees: living up to laws/traditions/customs but lacking love, a real love for others. Having all the right outward appearances and vocabulary but with their hearts so far away.  And yet there they were judging others for not following suit.  Like the Pharisees, Jesus had no real present value because they had become quite good at saving themselves as well as teaching others how to do the same.  But just as the tiny moon can block something as big as the sun, so we can block others from seeing God when we think that we are ok and that its only others who need to repent and change.  When our works are motivated by a love of self, not love for others, we have done what God said in Jeremiah when He said “they have abandoned me, the spring of living water and have dug for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”  After all, God in all of His essence is love.  When “love” is more of a word, maybe a set of actions and no longer something from the heart, we are not walking in line with the Gospel, for in that one tiny word hang all of the law and the prophets.

So what did I see that I never thought I would?  People who thought that they had nothing to repent of, repenting!  Pastors, elders as well as ordinary folks who were not caught in adultery or doing anything wrong on the surface.  Yet they were weeping, confessing, repenting at Jesus’ feet.  Mourning over their over-abundance of love for themselves and lack of love for others.  The lack of love which causes factions, bitterness, jealousy and causes us to push others away as we pretend that we are better than “they” are.  The stuff that makes the average Christian so dull and un-appetizing to the unbeliever.  Kinda like a birthday cake that has no sugar and salt.  Looks great!  But unless you are trying to flatter the cook, you really won’t want much.

So God has begun to refresh the church here and the result has been people returning to those they have hurt, then un-ashamedly asking for forgiveness.  Teen cliques melting in a stream of tears as they pray for each other.  Another thing that really caught my attention was that the kids groups were not present to hear any of what was being taught in the adult sessions, yet the Holy Spirit caused those little kids to begin weeping and asking for prayers and forgiveness as well!  The last day of camp, about 70 of us went to a pool in Linares and I was moved as I saw God’s kids playing with each other and genuinely enjoying each others’ company.  I even saw a 3 tiered chicken fight!  (I’d never seen that before either).  This is the stuff that refreshes the weary, the broken, the un-churched and de-churched.  It did my heart good!

One of the results of this camp is that I have been invited by two pastors to help teach in their churches.  I have also been invited to moderate as well as share how the Gospel applies to two opposing church groups as they begin the process of healing and forgiveness.

I just wanted you to know that you are making a difference here and I cannot thank you enough for sending us and being there for us.  Please pray for the work and the beautiful people here when you can.

For the work left undone,

Chip

The Source of Discouragement

I can never remember a time when I was discouraged, that I wasn’t also concerned about my own righteousness/performance/reputation/somebodiness: my passion to feel good about myself based on my performance. Same is true for every time I’ve been fearful, or frustrated/angry. My unhappiness, lack of joy/peace, always has to do with me and my performance, or my inability to fix someone I love, which is another example of my performance, or lack thereof. Whenever I’m fearful, frustrated, discouraged or bored, Jesus means very little to me, and His righteousness is definitely unsatisfying: I want something more: some righteousness of my own: I want more than anything in the world, to be able to feel good about self, and I don’t.


So the next time I’m stuck there, what can I do? Confess my sin of unbelief, my sin of dissatisfaction with Jesus and His righteousness.


–IndependentDave, needing prayer to be so freshly captivated by Jesus, that nothing else hardly matters, and the nonbelievers around him are wowed and want what he has (please pray now)

Not My Will Be Done, But Yours!

When I’m struggling to believe, how do I believe better/more?  How do I get more faith for my situation?  Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled: believe in God.  Believe also in Me.”

Okay, but how do I believe, when I know I need to believe better, but I’m struggling?  Is faith like a muscle that I exercise?  No, faith/repentance is something that is granted to us.  Jack Miller once told Rose Marie that the starting place for faith, is conviction of sin.  I’ve never forgotten that.  Has been enormously helpful in dealing with my flesh, the devil, and the worldly worship of strength/confidence/somebodiness.  Fresh faith (repentance) comes from fresh conviction of sin, and conviction of sin comes from the Holy Spirit, not something I can generate within me, make happen on my own.  Reading Scripture, listening to a sermon, might be used of the Spirit to freshly convict me of my sin, leading to repentance, but might not.  But one thing I can do, is to ask for the Spirit, to come afresh and convict me of my sin of independence, so I can confess, and be temporarily set free to enjoy Jesus, and have a healthy indifference to all the other things vying for my focus, my worship, in my daily life.  Ahhh, Jesus-dependency.

“No, Dave, you’re wrong: I don’t need any more conviction of sin: I see what a big sinner I am: my sin is everywhere before me.”  Well, if you’re struggling to believe, the enemy has snookered you into believing a lie about something.  I’d venture to guess that there is some area of your life that you are holding onto too tightly, that you are unwilling to turn loose of, some idol/agenda no matter how noble or seemingly selfless, that you are unwilling to die to, unwilling to offer up to God and say, “Not my will be done, but Yours.”  Most likely it has to do with your own righteousness/performance/somebodiness, or the righteousness/performance/somebodiness of one of your kids: your confidence that you know best, how He should be ordering your life, and your being bummed, frustrated, or fearful, that He’s not listening to your prayers.  You are not willing to fail, not willing to have your precious righteousness/reputation stripped from you.  Jesus is not enough for you.  Like He’s not enough for me, in my many less-sane moments.

–WeakDave, having the time of his life, with more healthy indifference to his areas of idolatry, because folks have been praying for fresh conviction of sin in his life (please pray now)

Sanity!

I know I’m sane when, I hardly care about anything or anyone but Jesus.   He’s not merely one of the big deals in my life: He’s everything, and everything else, as good as it might be, simply pales in comparison to Jesus.

So how do I get there, when I’m not there?   Impossible.   I cannot change myself.  I need intervention from on High: fresh conviction of the sin of independence: the sin of being unsatisfied with Jesus and His righteousness, wanting something more: some of my own, that comes from my performance, my agenda for me and those I love, or noticing the poor performance of others.

–StrongDave, needing prayer to embrace his weakness/neediness/dependency so he’ll be freshly in love with Jesus, and others, especially the nonbelievers around him who are also addicted to being strong, but don’t see the bondage, the hell, of this addiction