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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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.

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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)

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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)

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If I’m not fruitful with pre-believers,

it’s because I’m self-dependent way more than I’m Jesus-dependent.   Prove it, Dave.   Well, Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”   Follow Jesus, rather than following self.   Jesus-dependency verses self-dependency, i.e. leaning on my own understanding, being wise in my own eyes — human power verses Jesus-power.

Okay, Dave, so I’m a failure at following Jesus, as evidenced by my unfruitfulness with pre-believers, not to mention how circumstance-dependent I am for my joy and peace.   So how do I improve at following Jesus?   Not by trying harder — reforming myself, but by confessing my unbelief, my self-dependency, my willfulness/agenda, my dissatisfaction with Him, my using Him to get my way: “Jesus, bless my agenda.”   Ahhh, tis so sweet to be freshly convicted of my sin of independence, freshly dead to my own performance/righteousness, and freshly in love with Jesus, and others, especially those most different from myself, like turned-off-to-the-Church pre-believers, and even the antagonistic.

–IndependentDave, needing prayer to be way more Jesus-dependent, so the pre-believers around him will be wowed and want his Savior  (please pray now)

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Do I have a contagious love for Jesus?

That causes other believers and pre-believers around me, to want what I have, because He’s so awesome that nothing else hardly matters to me?  So I have an other-worldly humility, and an other-worldly love for others, especially those whose values are opposite of mine?  So I operate in out-of-character-for-Dave kinda ways?  Self-forgetting/uninhibited?

Or is my faith saltless, impotent, my love lukewarm?

How does one get fresh faith: that contagious-kinda love for Jesus?   I don’t see it starting as a cognitive/intellectual thing: not something I will into being: not something for which I get glory.   Faith is something granted.   A God-thing.  From the Spirit via fresh conviction of sin, especially the sin of indifference/dissatisfaction with Jesus and His righteousness imputed to me, wanting some of my own: wanting to feel good about Dave’s performance, as a believer, hubby, father, friend, Gospel-centric discipler, writer, lover-of-pre-believers, investor, manager-of-his-health-issues.  All good things.   But usually distractions for me.  From being captivated by the Lover of my soul.  So my love for Him is contagious.

–LukeWarmDave, needing prayer so he’s freshly wowed by Jesus, head-over-heels in love with Jesus, can’t stop thinking about Jesus, so the pre-believers around him are wowed and want what he has (please pray now)

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Relax and enjoy the ride.

I sit behind the steering wheel, like God Himself, assuming I know the way, know good turns from bad.  Is it any wonder that life is so hard for me?  Boy this driving job seemed like a fairly easy one, but now I’m feeling pressure: like someone completely out of his element.  Sometimes fearful, sometimes frustrated, and sometimes discouraged.  ShepherdJesus is sitting in the back seat telling me it certainly doesn’t have to be this way.  I can crawl over the seat and sit in the back anytime I want.  ShepherdJesus is more than ready to switch with me and take the wheel.

But can I relax and enjoy the ride from the back seat?  Do I trust Him to make the right turns?  Am I sure He knows the right route to get me the happiness/LIFE I’m wanting?  Whoa, why is He turning down this street?  This doesn’t seem right to me at all.  What is He doing?  Is He worthy of my trust, or is He in fact the nincompoop, ne’r-do-well that I am beginning to suspect?  Uh-oh, another turn up a street that seems equally bad.  I think I’d better jump back into the front seat and take control of this car.  I’m just sure I know a better way.  This is out of the way, we’re taking some roads that could be very dangerous/hazardous…especially to my comfort, reputation, self-esteem.

“Okay, ShepherdJesus, that’s it; get out from behind the wheel; I’m taking over.  I may not have the self-confidence I’d like in all areas of my life, but I doggone sure know good turns from bad turns, good roads from bad ones, and this is not a good route You’ve taken me on.  Stop the car: either I want the wheel, or I want out.”

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer to embrace being childlike, dependent, riding-in-the-back-seat DumbSheepDave, so the pre-believers around him will be wowed by the difference his Shepherd makes in his life, and want Him 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