Fifty years ago, today,

I married my high-school sweetheart, who was by then, my college sweetheart, and today, she’s my senior sweetheart.  I was twenty; she was almost twenty.  Neither of us knew who we were.  But we were in love, and we have stayed in love, for fifty years, plus the two and a half years we dated.  We have many common interests, and over the years, we have developed many separate interests.  Early in our marriage, Jesus moved into our lives and captured our attention, and has been the centerpiece in our marriage, the glue that has held it together over these many years, enabling us to forebear with one another, enjoy one another, enjoy common areas of interest, and different areas of interest.

Jesus has formed a foundation in our lives that has enabled us to grow in self-awareness and self-acceptance, and perhaps the biggest difference this has made, is our understanding and embracing our newly-discovered introversion.   We always thought we were extraverts, and all our lives up until ten years ago, we lived like extraverts.   Today, we are reclusive compared to the old days, but we’ve never been so happy, knowing who we are, how He’s made us — our limitations, our likes, our dislikes.  And enjoying ourselves and one another.   We love our lives, just as they are, and we love each other, just as we are.   This is amazing, and a fruit of the work of Jesus, who is in the business of growing people to enjoy Him, others, self, circumstances.   We feel utterly unworthy of any credit for this amazing grace, and are grateful beyond words.

–DaveLovesJan

Engineering easy circumstances,

and avoiding the hard ones, is my passion when I’m ShepherdDave, wise in my own eyes, leaning on my own understanding, confident I know what’s best for me and those I love.   But easy never grows me more Jesus-dependent, more DumbSheepDave.  Only the hard.   So why do I obsess over engineering easy, and not embrace the hard?   World, flesh, devil.   The right-side-up kingdom of this world has convinced me that the values of the Upside-down Kingdom of Jesus are undesirable.   I don’t want hard, weakness, dependency, to be pitied above all men: I wanna feel good about myself.   I wannabe admired, envied, not pitied.  I want easy.

The sanity prayer.   “Whatever it takes, Lord, to grow me more Jesus-dependent, no matter how hard, that’s what I want more than anything else in this world.  Thank You that suffering produces perseverance, and then character, and then hope/faith/dependency.”

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he’s lowly and beloved DumbSheepDave, so the pre-believers around him are wowed and want Jesus too (please pray now)

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Ministry idolatry exposed.

My flesh loves to get LIFE from ministry success, and so Jesus frequently thwarts my plans/efforts so the pain of the failure snaps me back to reality, where freshly convicted of my sin, I also realize that He is lovingly retraining me in a better way to live: dependent on Him, not needing any performance of my own, hardly caring about anything else in my life, but Him.  The Jesus in me is only contagious to others, when I’ve been freshly convicted of my sin, so I’m freshly humble, freshly enjoying Him, others, myself, and my circumstances, just as they are.  Miracle.  Priceless.

–ShepherdDave, always needing thwarting, and convicting, so he’s returned to being DumbSheepDave, without a care in the world, compelling to the pre-believers around him (please pray now)

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Inviting Jesus into my idolatry areas,

has been a huge blessing, a wunnerful answer to your prayers.  ShepherdDave is so used to confidently/pridefully taking charge of ministry, investments, health management, hobbies, bargains, purchasing decisions, though he is easily irritated with others, himself, circumstances, when things don’t go his way.   But DumbSheepDave doesn’t know what to do with any of it, is easily overwhelmed by it all, so he asks his ShepherdJesus about everything, and thanks Him about everything, and is curious and expectant to see what his ShepherdJesus does next, in him, in others, in his circumstances, and instead of wishing he were different — had no idols, he’s enabled to actually enjoy Jesus, others, himself, his circumstances, and even his areas of idolatry!   Ahhhh.   Life is so much easier as DumbSheepDave.

–DumbSheepDave, so thankful for those who pray, that pre-believers will be wowed by the difference Jesus makes in his life (please pray now)

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I am powerless over my idols/addictions.

I cannot live w/o them.  I become tense and frustrated until I can return to them to get some relief from my pain — my suppressed feelings of worthlessness.  How do I know they’re suppressed?  Because I want to forget/deny/erase my feelings of worthlessness, by doing something to feel good about myself in one or more areas of my idolatry: ministry, investments, health improvements, shrewd purchasing decisions, automobiles.  Ahhh.  Now I don’t need Jesus.

But my goal is not to change myself, for only Jesus can change me.  My need is to begin to understand and accept myself, just as I am, just as my DaddyJesusSpirit understands and accepts me, just as I am.  Whenever I get impatient with myself, with the transformation/sanctification process, self-contempt has become the issue.  Pride.  A humble sheep gladly submits to his Shepherd’s timetable, does not need to feel good about himself based on his own performance, and enjoys his Shepherd, others, himself, and his circumstances, just as the are.

–IdolatorDave, more self-accepting than ever, enjoying life more than ever, because folks have been praying, which gives him hope for the pre-believers around him (please pray now)

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Looking for perfection

in the automotive experience: both in the purchasing and in the owning.  Finding the best used car in my price range — at a bargain price, that can deliver the closest thing to perfection in the driving experience: seating, handling, acceleration, ride, sound isolation, manual transmission, with minimal depreciation on the investment and minimal maintenance/repair expense.  A driver’s car for the frugal perfectionist.

And striving to maintain this automotive-perfection experience, as long as I own the car.  Everything in the car, operating as it should: no noises, wheels perfect, tires perfectly balanced so there’s no vibration in the steering wheel, or in the driver’s seat.  Tires perfectly in alignment so the steering wheel doesn’t pull, so the tires don’t wear unevenly.  Performance tires to avoid hydroplaning in a hard rain, and impressive cornering in dry or wet conditions.  Ahhh.

The only problem, is that Jesus seems intent on thwarting my plans for this idolatrous quest of trying to find LIFE somewhere other than in a relationship with Him.  There’s always some little or big annoyance.  I’m amazed, actually, that the enemy is so adept at snookering me into forgetting humiliatingly-painful lessons I’ve learned in the past, and that I need to relearn all over again.  Conclusion: hope springs eternal, for idolators/addicts.

–CarNutDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so he’s freshly overwhelmed with Jesus, so others are wowed by the difference He makes in his life (please pray now)

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Compassion for those who irritate and disgust me?

Where do I get that?   Why would I even want it?  Because Jesus says to love my enemies — those most different from myself, doing things I would never ever do, because I’m better than they.

So how do I get compassion for them, forgive them, extend grace to them, enjoy them?   I find it really helpful to ask Jesus to show me ways that I’m just like them, probably not on the surface, but deep down on a root level.   And as His Spirit works in me, convicting me of how I’m guilty of the same root motivation as they, I have instant compassion, love, acceptance for them, and I begin to enjoy them, just as they are, not demanding that they change one bit to be loved by me.

–ShepherdDave, who loves feeling superior to others, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence/pride, so he is momentarily transformed into being DumbSheepDave, with compassion for all, enjoyment for all, even the worst (please pray now)

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Why do I want to be different?

Typically for both good and bad reasons.  Good reason: for the glory of Jesus, especially with pre-believers.   Bad reason: so I can feel better about myself, have some righteousness/performance of my own.

–ShepherdDave, unsatisfied with himself for the wrong reason, needing prayer for fresh conviction of sin, so he’ll be momentarily transformed into DumbSheepDave, who enjoys himself just as he is enjoyed by his ShepherdJesus, while curious and expectant to see if and when his ShepherdJesus will use suffering to change him more (please pray now)

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