Tormented by bad decisions.

My flesh demands that I be perfect in every decision I make.  Sometimes I’m tormented by bad decisions, even tiny ones, but I always get LIFE from good ones, big or small.  It’s easy to extend grace to someone I like who makes a bad decision, but I struggle to extend that same grace to myself.  My joy is robbed.  Why?  Pride.  A humble believer is not tormented by a bad decision, and easily extends grace to himself as he experiences failure.

Fresh humility is impossible without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the soul of a proud man.

–DumbSheepDave, taking baby steps in enjoying others, himself, ShepherdJesus, and circumstances, just as they are, because folks have been praying, hoping pre-believers are noticing

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Butch, the town drunk.

This is a email prayer update I received last Thursday from a pastor I’ve mentored for twenty-five years, has an inner-city church in a store front, and lives next door.
–WeakDave, trying to get Jesus to be so contagious in us believers that we love pre-believers into the Kingdom
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Praying Friends, I am writing to ask prayer for an unusual opportunity that the Lord has literally put right on our doorstep.  There is a guy — he goes by “Butch,” who is a fixture in town.  He is the town drunk.  He has been for years, long before we arrived here over twenty years ago.  He is always on the street – and always intoxicated.

In recent weeks, a couple of things have happened.

First, Butch began to “camp out” on our doorstep.  He literally spends hours there, sitting, taking in the sun.  Each morning as I come out to walk over to the church, I greet him and he returns the courtesy.  We have had a couple of more lengthy conversations as well.  I began to open the door to finding out how Butch became Butch (please pray for that right now if you would!).  A couple of times, Butch left his trash on our step, and my wife said, “If he does that again I’m gonna kick him in the teeth!”  (Oh.. my Tina!)

So one day I went out, and told Butch, “My wife says, you leave your garbage on our step, she’s gonna kick you in the teeth!”  He chuckled.  But he hasn’t left any trash out there since!  I told him that we expected him to show us the same respect that we show him — and he has.  He even moves away from our door when he smokes so that the smoke doesn’t end up in our house.

The follow up to this has been that Butch started to come to church.  He showed up one cold Sunday a couple of weeks ago, and we all kind of thought that he was just coming in to get warm.  But he stayed for the entire service.  Not only did he stay – but he stayed awake, even attentive!  There are people in our congregation that don’t do that! J  I went up to him afterward and thanked him for being there.  Last Sunday, he came again – with a friend.  My wife noticed that he had showered before he came (his hair was still wet, and the fragrance that we had come to know was missing!). That may seem incidental, but it’s huge for Butch to show that kind of consideration.

When I talked with him yesterday, he said that he and his friend really want to get their lives on track.  They want to sober up…they want to LIVE.  Now – we all know that without the Lord that just ain’t gonna happen.  So – that’s where you all come in.  Please pray for Butch!  Pray that the Lord will change his heart from stone to flesh and bring him into His family.  Pray that the Lord would give me the right words to speak – especially that I would be sloooowwww to speak and quick to listen – pray that our congregation would show the love of Jesus to him.

In Mark 5, Jesus encounters a man with a legion of demons – this guy had been this way as long as anyone could remember.  Everyone stayed away from him.  Jesus delivers him, and we read in vs. 14, “..people came to see what it was that had happened.  And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.”

I cannot imagine what the impact of seeing Butch “clothed and in his right mind” would be on our community of Phillipsburg.  But I am going to keep praying, looking to our God Who does abundantly beyond all we can ask or imagine, to do just that.  Will you join me?

Thanks!  By His Grace, Pastor Bill Slack

These are not Dave’s circumstances,

but Jesus’ circumstances.  Designed by Him to perfectly meet my needs, His plan, His glory, and my good.  Dave is not sovereign over his life; Jesus is.  My flesh doesn’t agree, nor the devil, nor the world, and prefers me thinking of them as my circumstances, for Dave to encounter by himself, as an orphan/shepherd/CEO/arrogant/self-reliant.  Why?  So I am robbed of the joy and peace that’s mine in Jesus, and run around acting like one who doesn’t follow Jesus, doesn’t depend on Jesus.  Why?  To neutralize me, so the Jesus in me is not contagious to the pre-believers around me.  Or believers.  He who underestimates his enemy is a fool.

These are not my circumstances, but His.  Ahhh.

–DumbSheepDave, having the time of his life, because folks have been praying

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Paul Tripp’s story.

I mentor lots of pastors, and Paul Tripp’s story is not an unusual one, though many pastors are as clueless as Paul was.   I have not mentored Paul — just read his story.  We have come to expect/demand that our pastors be the together ones, and they had better not disappoint us, and this encourages them to — want to believe the lie, live in denial.  Everyone loses, especially the family.   Just because churches are growing, doesn’t mean they are growing by conversion growth.  Kingdom re-arrangement doesn’t require supernatural power, supernatural humility.  Human power will do.  Christian leaders are the weakest links in the Church being the Church — the ones most needy of further overhaul by Jesus, no matter how much He’s overhauled us to date.  Seems to me.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2013/january-online-only/calling-killers.html?start=1

–DumbSheepDave, taking baby steps in Jesus-dependency, because folks have been praying, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference

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Whenever I’m trying to prove myself,

to myself or others, that’s an indication that I’m ashamed of who I am, don’t feel good enough as a human being, or believer, or hubby, or dad.  Prove myself?  Winning, achieving, noticing the failure of others as a strategy to feel better about myself, and if the others are successful, any little chink in the armor I can find, will suffice, will fill me up with a sense of being more worthy than they.  Opposing team, politicians, somebodies, nobodies, Christian jerks, whomever.  Ahhh.  My hungry-needy flesh loves feeling superior.

Jesus has compassion on me, just as I am, because I belong to Him, but when I don’t have compassion on myself, just as I am, my pride is exposed.  A humble believer confesses his pride, but is not bummed by it.  A humble believer has wonderful compassion on himself, just as he is, just like Jesus has wonderful compassion on him.  A humble believer is completely satisfied with the imputed worthiness of Jesus, and is liberated about having none of his own, or some, or a lot: makes no difference whatsoever.  And because a humble believer is completely satisfied with Jesus, he has wonderful compassion on others, even enemies.

–DumbSheepDave, having more fun than ever, because folks have been praying, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference Jesus is making

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The idol nobody confesses.

The idol of different.  Huh?  Wanting a change of scenery, different clothes, different car, different motorcycle, different home, different location or vacation, different/newer technology, different job, or more success or different twist to my present job, different experience, different arrangement of furniture, different wall color, different church, different self.  Be somewhere else, doing something else, that could bring me joy, even for a bit.  Why?  I must not like myself just as I am.  And I must be bored with Jesus.  So I keep trying, hoping something different will sooth the hidden pain in my soul from childhood, that energizes my idol/addiction.  Never does, but hope springs eternal for the insane/independent/confident/adultlike/shepherd/idolator/addicted, who don’t like themselves just as they are.

Satan has been successful for years, in keeping me from seeing how dysfunctional I am.  I’m naturally self-deceived.  Just like the Pharisees.  I used to think I was superior to them.

–DumbSheepDave, beneficiary of the prayers of others, freshly convicted of the sin of independence, freshly aware of the wiles of the devil to keep the addicted from admitting their addiction, and freshly hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing in him a surprising contentment with everything just as it is, sometimes

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An agendified driver

knows what’s best for himself, and others, and gets irritated with a little old lady in a Buick ahead of him on a two-lane road with no-passing lines, driving five miles an hour under the speed limit.  So they both have to wait at the next traffic light.  Grrrr.

AgendifiedDave/JudgeDave/ShepherdDave ain’t got a humble bone in his body.  He knows what’s best.  Wants Jesus to bless his agenda.  Knows what’s thankable and what’s not, so he never thanks for the harrrd in his life.  And forgets to thank for the easy.  It’s all about Dave and his agenda.

–DumbSheepDave, taking baby steps in healthier-and-more-clueless directions, because folks have been praying, hoping the pre-believers around him are noticing the difference Jesus is making

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Satan doesn’t want me to see,

the sickness of the Church, but once I see it, he changes his strategy, tempting me to feel good about myself for my insight, smug in my superior and radical commitment, tempting me to self-righteously go about trying to make a difference as a radical, in the power of me.  Like the Pharisees: so confident, so right, so strong.  My flesh loves this confidence.  I am no threat to the enemy’s kingdom when I operate by human power, self-confidence, independence, even though I use the name of Jesus while doing so.  I can proclaim the Gospel in radical fashion all I want, and live in radical fashion all I want, but there will be tiny conversion fruit as an independent/adultlike operating by human power.   Pre-believers are not wowed, convicted, when I operate by human power, like them.  They don’t say to me, “Surely God is with you and there is no other; there is no other God.”  Isa 45:14

But by human power I can gather other human-powered believers to follow me.  Way easier to influence believers than to see pre-believers converted, especially the turned-off.  Humility, childlikeness, fruitfulness, is a product of the Spirit, not something I generate.  No credit to me.  Only to Jesus.

–DumbSheepDave, freshly contrite for the moment, because folks have been praying, but no predictions for an hour from now

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