Imagine how it would feel,

to lose everything.  I mean e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  Health.  Savings.  Job.  Home.  Reputation.  Spouse.  Kids, adult kids, grandkids.  Various means could do it, but imagine the worst.  Living under a bridge, homeless, alone.  Or in prison for life.  Or a padded cell in an institution.  Immediate family and extended family all dead, or say, hopelessly estranged, somehow, just or unjust.  The how/way is not the point.  Imagine it.

Would Jesus be enough for me?  Or would I be so devastated, so crushed, I would be tempted to take my life — no more reason to live?  A shepherd-believer could not continue.  But a dumb-sheep-believer, while seriously grieving the unfathomable loss…would still be enjoying his Shepherd, probably more than ever, probably more dependent than ever, probably with more-singular focus than ever.  This is the kind of contagious faith/dependency we hear about among persecuted believers under oppressive governments around the world.  Dumb-sheep-believers.  Jesus-dependents.  We don’t envy them, but we envy their dependency/faith/contentment.  They pray for us, the pitiable, here in the States.  We imagine them miserable, but we shepherd-believers are the miserable.

Impossible to be a dumb-sheep-believer, unless the Shepherd’s Spirit freshly convicts me of the sin of independence.  And it doesn’t last long.  So natural to be a shepherd-believer, living by the values of the right-side-up kingdom of this world – outside the Church, and inside the Church, joyless and peaceless unless things go my way, momentarily.  We shepherd-believers knows what’s best — wise in our own eyes, leaning on our own understanding.  Fruitless.  Uncontagious.

–DumbSheepDave, astonished at the difference Jesus is making in 2014, at times, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference

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Impossible to be intense,

unless I’m confident I know what’s best, for me/others.  Also impossible to be frustrated, fearful, discouraged, unless I’m confident I know what’s best for me/others.  Ditto for analyzing/critiquing.

A dumb-sheep-believer is never intense.  Only shepherd-believers have this problem.  Dumb-sheep believers trust their Shepherd to know what’s best, so they have amazing peace and amazing joy.  But it doesn’t last long.  Because of the world, flesh, devil.

How can shepherd-believers become dumb-sheep-believers?  Impossible.  Except through the convicting work of the Shepherd’s Spirit.  Ahhh.  Bliss.   

Only problem with being a dumb-sheep-believer is that you get no credit/glory for it.  The reward is the experience.

–DumbSheepDave, without intensity, sometimes, which are always the best of times, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference his ShepherdJesus is making in 2014

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How exactly do I make this happen?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”   I don’t want to be independent/self-confident/willful/agendafied/proud/self-reliant, but how do I not be that way?  How can I renew my mind, so I’m not that way?

By reading Scripture?  Maybe.  By praying?  Maybe.  By hearing the Gospel proclaimed over and over.  Maybe.  By laying down my life for others?  Maybe.  By being in community?  Maybe.

But maybe not.

Maybe there is no power in Scripture, in prayer, in the Gospel, in sacrificial service, in community, but Jesus may use these means, to powerfully renew my mind.  So the power is in Jesus, not these other good things.  But how does a believer get this power?

Through fresh conviction of sin, especially the sin of independence/worldliness.  Sadly, I cannot convict myself of sin, make myself repent/believe, but one thing I can do, is to ask for the Spirit, claiming the promise of Luke 11.  And He promises to give me His Spirit afresh, but He doesn’t promise the timetable.  So I keep asking for the Spirit afresh.  Every morning, especially when I feel such distance from Jesus upon wakening, and throughout my day, when I’m overwhelmed with facing challenges/problems.  Asking for the Spirit to convict me afresh, of the sin of independence/worldliness.   Ahhh.  The nicest, kindest, sweetest thing He ever does for us kids of His, is to freshly convict us of sin, so we are temporarily unconcerned about our own performance/worthiness, and are perfectly content with His, even liberated about losing everything, becoming nobodies, being pitied by the people we admire the most.  Ahhh.  The benefit of Jesus.  Priceless.

–DumbSheepDave, welcoming his Shepherd’s Spirit convicting work, more and more, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference in 2014

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We are not called to be faithful,

but commanded to be perfect.  Cheap grace challenges us, calls us to be faithful.  Grace commands us to be perfect, and has the perfect solution for our failure.  The Cross.  The Gospel is not merely about salvation, but also about sanctification – how we live as followers of Jesus.

Challenges to be faithful, appeal to our flesh, our independency.  This is possible.  I can do this.  I will do this.  I will try harder to do the right thing, be more Gospel-centered, believe better, do better.  The Gospel, grace, requires perfection.  Otherwise, we get the credit, the glory.

And when the Spirit opens my eyes to my failure, my imperfection?  Confess, instead of playing into the enemy’s trap of self-contempt, which is pride, and/or trying harder, which is also pride.  Confession leads to sanity/joy/peace.  And when it doesn’t?  More to confess that I don’t yet see.  Good to ask for the Spirit afresh, claiming the promise of Luke 11.

–DumbSheepDave, thankful for the impossibility of following his Shepherd, needing to be rescued from himself 24/7, hoping the pre-believers are noticing the difference his ShepherdJesus is making in 2014

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The way we dumb down law/sin,

is by comparing ourselves to others, instead of to Jesus, the Standard, the Perfect One.  “Be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect,” commanded Jesus.  Wait, that’s impossible!  Bingo.  Impossible to enter the Christian life, and impossible to live the Christian life.  I need the convicting work of Jesus’ Spirit 24/7, not just for Sunday morning, not just for the big decisions in my life.  I need dependency on Him in every detail of my life, all day long, asking Him and thanking Him about evathang.  His life, lived through me, so I’m amazingly joyful and peaceful, wowing those around me, as I operate by His power, not my puny power.  No credit/glory to me.  All to Jesus.

Dependency is impossible, except when the Spirit freshly convicts me of my sin of independence, and even then, my temporary dependency is a pseudo-dependency, farrr from perfect.  There’s a dark side, a sinful side, to my motivation for even the most-noble, most-seemingly-selfless things I’ve ever done in my life.  Only as the Spirit freshly convicts me, opening my eyes to my failure at perfect dependency, does the imputed worthiness of Jesus become something precious to me.  As long as I’m deceived about my failure, my pseudo-obedience, pseudo-following Jesus, pseudo-dependency, I will cherish my own worthiness/performance and find the imputed worthiness of Jesus unsatisfying to me.  How can I tell?  When I’m frustrated, discouraged, fearful, or bored.  Hurried, intense.  Jesus and His worthiness are something to me, but not everything, until I see clearly my failure at perfect dependency.  Confession brings sanity, peace, joy unspeakable.  And when it doesn’t, there’s more to confess I don’t yet see.

–DumbSheepDave, blissfully dependent, on occasion, as the Shepherd’s Spirit freshly convicts him of the sin of independence, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference in 2014

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What is worldliness?

Intensity about my performance, reputation, somebodiness.  Only shepherd-believers experience this, are passionate about failure-avoidance, excellence at all costs.  Dumb-sheep-believers are completely liberated about losing all they have, becoming nobodies, losers, being pitied by all.

Only shepherd-believers are competitive, passionate about their favorite sports teams, need to feel good about themselves based on performance, are critical/judgmental of others, noting others’ failures, poor performance.  Worldly.  Leaven of the Pharisees.

Dumb-sheep-believers just have fun.  Operate with reckless abandon, and interestingly, are able to perform to the limit because they are so free, so uninhibited, so unafraid of failure.

How does a shepherd-believer change and become a dumb-sheep-believer?  Impossible.  Except by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.  A temporary thing.

–DumbSheepDave, experiencing times of sanity and freedom like never before, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference over the past year

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A dumb sheep never feels alone,

never feels the weight of the world on its shoulders.  But a dumb sheep trying to be a shepherd, feels very alone facing a to-do list.  Up to me.  Pressure to succeed.  Agenda.  Striver.  Suppressed fear of failure, humiliation, being pitied, maybe ridiculed.  A dumb sheep content to be a dumb sheep, never experiences fear, frustration, discouragement.  All problems are the Shepherd’s problems.  A dumb sheep just has fun.  Amazing peace and joy.

What can a dumb sheep do when it realizes it’s feeling alone with a to-do list?  CONFESS.  Confession returns the dumb sheep to its Shepherd.

–DumbSheepDave, freshly grateful for the convicting work of his Shepherd’s Spirit, returning him to fresh sanity, hoping the pre-believers around him have been noticing the difference Jesus has been making in 2013

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A dumb sheep always lives in the present.

A dumb sheep never wonders where he will eat tomorrow, next week, next year. That’s his shepherd’s problem/job.  A dumb sheep just eats the grass in front of him.  Ahhh.

But when a dumb sheep tries to be something he’s not – a shepherd/independent, concerned about the future, the dumb sheep experiences The Curse: stress, fear, frustration, discouragement.  Planning/scheming lead to misery, not happiness.  And a dumb sheep never thinks about the past, his failures, how he can obsessively avoid the pain of failure going forward.  A dumb sheep always lives in the present, eating the grass in front of him.  Ahhh.  Amazing peace.

–DumbSheepDave, thankful for more of the convicting work of his Shepherd’s Spirit, bringing him back to sanity/dependency, from his adventures into independence/pride, hoping the pre-believers around him have been noticing the difference Jesus has been making in 2013

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