Enjoying my work, life,

is a gift from Jesus, not something I can engineer on my own.  In fact, He frequently thwarts my plans to control my life.  Jesus is in the business of retraining me in a better way to live.  Dependently on Him.  And He uses suffering to that end.  Suffering comes from His loving hand and produces hope/faith/dependency.

My flesh thinks achievement will produce happiness, but my flesh is a bottomless pit of need, never satisfied, so I am never able to achieve enough.  My soul is also a bottomless pit of need, but its need is love.  Only unconditional love will satisfy my soul.  Only place to get unconditional love is from Jesus.  Only as I experience unconditional love from Jesus, am I able to extend unconditional love to others, and to myself.   Ahhh.

What do I do when I struggle to unconditionally love others/self, when I’m indifferent to Jesus?  CONFESS, not try harder to love better, believe better, and not berate myself for my unlove, indifference, unbelief.  Satan loves to nurture me toward self-contempt, which is always pride, never humility.

–DumbSheepDave, enjoying others, himself, and his ShepherdJesus,  more than ever before, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference Jesus is making in 2013

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When I say no to my flesh’s desire,

for a cool, fast car, I’m not denying myself happiness. I’m denying I will FIND happiness that way. The flesh, ShepherdDave, used to have me convinced that its pathway to happiness worked. It does not. Lie. Leads to addictive behavior for a wounded soul, and I still have an open, festering wound on my soul from childhood. Until I am completely healed, with no need to prove myself to others or self, I am better off abstaining from cool, fast cars, or even an interest in them, because like a drug, my obsession with cars, does not lead to happiness, but to more addiction. What’s so bad about a hobby for Dave? Distracts from Jesus. Which undermines happiness. And power to love enemies.

I’m still not sure about my addictions to ministry, investments, bargains, health, great decisions, sports teams, but I’m moving in those areas much-more cautiously than ever before, looking for intensity, obsessing — red flags for addiction. ShepherdDave flags.

My flesh wants accomplishment, but my soul wants love. Accomplishment provides a conditional love, but my soul needs unconditional love. The only two sources of unconditional love I’ve been able to find, are Jesus, and myself. I need both to experience LIFE/Jesus-dependency/happiness. And I first need to experience unconditional love from Jesus, to experience unconditional love from myself to myself. Ahhh. Addicted to Jesus. Deeply satisfying.

–DumbSheepDave, happiest ever, hoping the pre-believers around him see the difference Jesus is making in 2013

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What about obedience, Dave?

What about obedience, Dave?

A friend emailed me after last week’s email about a) obey, b) believe, c) confess, and wanted me to address obedience.  I did address obedience, but it’s not real clear, I admit.  Here’s what I think about obedience:

When we try to obey, follow Jesus, live the Christian life, in our own strength, we have to dumb down the law and dumb down sin in order to do that.  Like the Pharisees did.  Jesus had such harsh words to say to them, because theythought they were the most religious of their day, but were clueless to what enormous failures they were, at obeying God.  We do the same thing in the Church today: when we think of sin, we think of outside-the-cup stuff.  When we think of bad sinners, we never think of ourselves, but people who murder, steal, cheat, are drunks, adulterers, use pornography.  The requirement for obedience, is perfection.  “Be perfect as I am perfect.”  We dumb that down.  Like God grades on a curve.  So we’re always comparing ourselves to others, who are worse, so we feel good about ourselves, feel like we have some righteousness/worthiness of our own.

We believers know our performance doesn’t earn us entrance to Heaven, but we think it causes God to be pleased with us.  Wrong.  God is only pleased with us, because of Jesus and His imputed righteousness, not ever because of our performance/righteousness, because there is a dark side, sinful side, to the most-noble, most-selfless, most-loving deeds we ever do.  We never ever do anything perfectly, sinlessly.  You never hear believers confessing their sin of independence/willfulness/agenda, dissatisfaction with the imputed righteousness of Jesus.  Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we are clueless about how bad we really are, and even nonbelievers can spot the lack of supernatural humility in our lives, and supernatural love.  We are a joke to the watching world.  Fundies are the worst, because they imagine that “don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t chew, and don’t associate with those who do,” earns them favor with God, because they are walking the walk.  They have no clue now proud, willful, agendafied, arrogant, self-righteous, unloving, they are.  There will be a ho-lotta humiliation when we all get to Heaven and discover we were so much worse than we ever dreamed.  But we won’t be depressed by our egregious failures because we will no longer be proud believers.  I expect we’ll be tearfully, joyfully overwhelmed by how much we’ve been forgiven.

–DumbSheepDave, enjoying the unconditional love of his Shepherd more than ever, hoping pre-believers are noticing the difference

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What if the Bible isn’t true,

that Jewish people invented the concept of God to make life easier?  And Jesus is a hoax?  That no God exists who is great enough to control every tiny decision of trillions and trillions of living creatures on land and sea of Planet Earth, along with all the thinking of all humans all the time?  Hurts my head imagining such a God, as the Bible claims.

Atheists need great faith to imagine the origin of all this, but so do followers of Jesus, and so do agnostics who don’t even want to think about the origin and maintenance of everything.

If the Jewish people had such a need to invent a Creator/Sustainer of the Universe for their sanity, because they were so pathetically fragile and insecure, I can understand that, because I’m just as pathetically fragile and insecure.  I neeeed to believe in a sovereign, loving Creator, and the message of Jesus, for me to have the amazing peace and I joy I have at times, regardless of circumstances.  I am weak and needy.  I am happiest when I’m a dumb sheep, and most miserable when I’m trying to be my own shepherd, captain my soul, master my fate.  I’m sticking with Jesus.  If that causes skeptics to pity me, oh well.  Bring on the pity.  I am so pathetically weak, that I need a Crutch, to get through my day.

–DumbSheepDave, small-brained barnyard animal who desperately needs a Shepherd to keep rescuing him from himself

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The worst thing about being DumbSheepDave,

is being humble.  My flesh hates the lowly place, clueless place, weak place, childlike place.  So it’s initially painful when the Spirit freshly convicts me of my independence, and I’m moved from being confident, competitive JudgeDave/ShepherdDave, analyzer/critic of all, down, down, down, to lowly DumbSheepDave, pitied by the strong, but indifferent to their pity.  Enabled to love them.

Once I’ve been freshly convicted/humbled, ahhhh, life is beautiful, peaceful, joyful.  Again.  Nomatter the circumstances.  I’ve concluded that the normal life of a believer, is moving back and forth between between sheep and shepherd.  Or trying to be shepherd.  Nicest, sweetest, kindest thing He ever does for me, is to freshly convict me of my sin of independence.  Ahhh.  Priceless.

–DumbSheepDave, having the best year of his life, hoping the pre-believers are noticing the difference Jesus is making

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My flesh thinks I will find love,

from performance/somebodiness, which is a conditional form of love, but my soul wants something better — unconditional love.  The flesh’s strategy for happiness depends on conditional love from others and self, a strategy that leaves me empty, unsatisfied.  By contrast, the Jesus-dependent’s strategy for happiness is to experience unconditional love from Jesus, and from self.   Ahhh.

Example.  All my adult life I have been captivated by cool, fast cars, and currently own one.  But my flesh is a bottomless pit of need, never satisfied, always thinking about the next one.  I’m an expert on them all.  I’ve finally concluded this hobby is dangerous to my soul.  Distracts me from Jesus.  So I’ve decided to end the hobby — stop looking for happiness in cool, fast cars, in automotive perfection, because this pursuit strokes me in a dangerous direction.  Independence.  Strong.  Winner.  ShepherdDave.  This decision is a death to my flesh, and painful, but the vacuum motivates me do what I can to experience unconditional love from Jesus and self.  Ahhh.  Priceless.  Incomparable.  Ultimate selfishness.

Interestingly, as I experience unconditional love from Jesus and myself, I find it so easy to extend unconditional love to others, even enemies.   Surprising.  Amazing.

–DumbSheepDave, enabled more than ever to ignore his flesh’s desire to be ShepherdDave, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference Jesus is making in 2013

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I love to judge everything,

and everyone, including myself.  Excellent, poor, mediocre.  I love having and articulating opinions on many issues.  Makes me feel strong.  ShepherdDave.  Winner.

I do not love being a dumb sheep, feeling weak, clueless, helpless, powerless.  Always needing to be rescued.  Loser.  I continue to be surprised at the strength of my hungry, needy flesh, and how much it gravitates to the right-side-up kingdom of this world.  Winner.

–DumbSheepDave, happiest when embracing the lowly place, hoping pre-believers are noticing the difference Jesus is making in 2013

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Impossible for me to love enemies.

I don’t have that kind of power.  I need Jesus working in my life, to do the impossible — love/enjoy/cherish those whose values are so opposite.  

So what can I do?  CONFESS my sin of unlove/contempt/ superiority/self-righteousness.  Jack Miller said the starting place for faith, is conviction of sin.  True for me.  The more the Spirit convicts me of my sin of independence/pride, the more faith/dependency I have, and the more dependent I am, the more the fruit of the Spirit oozes from my life — love, joy, peace.  And I get zero credit.

Instead of confessing, Satan wants me trying hard to obey Jesus, because there is so little power in human effort.  The watching world yawns at the difference Jesus makes in my life when I try hard to obey Him.  Self-reliant, independent, human power.

–DumbSheepDave, happiest when he’s depending on his ShepherdJesus, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing a difference

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