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)

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

Why am I unfruitful with pre-believers?

I have many pre-believing friends, that I hang out with, but no one’s asking me yet, about how they can know Jesus like I do.  None of them appear to be seekers, most are turned-off, some antagonistic, some atheist, but they all know what Jesus does for me, they enjoy me, and they feel my enjoyment of them.  Is there something missing?   I think so.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus says that “the cares of this world” keep the believer from being fruitful, reproducing.  The biggest “care of this world” for any human — Dave included, is feeling good about self based on performance.  This is the human condition, rooted in puny human power, from leaning on my own understanding.  Conversion — contagious faith, requires a miracle: supernatural power.  Until I have been more retrained in Jesus-dependency, so there is more of Him living His life in me and through me, making more of a wow difference in my life, I don’t see why God would use me fruitfully, among my pre-believing friends.

The nicest, kindest, sweetest, most-loving thing He ever does for me, is to freshly convict me of my sin of independence/pride — leaning on my own understanding, trying to feel good about myself based on my performance.  He typically needs to thwart my plans and then open my eyes to my disappointment, before I’m able to even recognize my independency.  When I’m Jesus-dependent — experience Jesus living His life in me, I have a healthy indifference to the things humans care about most: performance.  Whyzat?  Because we humans assume that performance will fill the love-vacuum in our lives, enabling us to feel love from others and self, but it doesn’t, because it’s conditional love, on the condition of performance.  We humans have an unconditionallove-vacuum, and only Jesus delivers that.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of the sin of independence, so the pre-believers around him will be wowed by the difference Jesus makes in the life of DumbSheepDave, and want what he has (please pray now)

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

To whom do I feel superior?

Politicians, bigots, the sanctimonious, lovers of big government, abusers of the poor, corrupt executives, mainstream journalists, child molesters, drug dealers, murders, criminals, gangsters, deceivers in high places, mobsters, terrorists, abusers of power, elderly abusers, child abusers, women abusers, animal abusers, environmental abusers, litterbugs, texting drivers, oblivious drivers, loud cell-phone talkers.  To name a few.

When I feel contempt for others, I’m seeing more and more how that indicates an unconscious contempt for myself.  And interestingly, the more I extend grace to myself, the easier it is to extend grace to others, even those my flesh loves to despise, so it can feel good about itself at their expense.   “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  By yourself.  When I’m in the mood to judge others, I’m also unwittingly in the mood to judge myself, and this is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad way to live, with self-contempt always hovering over me, waiting to strike.

Extending grace, unconditional love, to myself and others, just as I have received grace, unconditional love, from my DaddyJesusSpirit, is a fruit of the Spirit’s work in my life, freshly convicting me of the sin of self-contempt and others-contempt, returning me to sanity, joy, peace as I am enabled to enjoy myself and others and my ShepherdJesus.  Only shepherds judge others.  Dumb sheep leave judging to their shepherd, and just have fun.

–ShepherdDave, needing prayer for fresh conviction of sin, so he’s momentarily transformed into blissful and beloved DumbSheepDave, with amazing humility, amazing love, amazing joy, and amazing peace, so the pre-believers around him will want what he has (please pray now)

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

Teacher needs prayer.

Here’s what she wrote to her Pray-ers: “Dear Friends, I have the exciting opportunity to substitute in a k4 classroom this week.  However, the classroom is very needy with lots of difficult kids.  It is totally of Jesus how this all came up.  Anyhoo, please pray for peace to come over this classroom as I’m teaching.  For me to bring the atmosphere of the Kingdom to this small little place.  I will be teaching Tuesday through Friday and will need your prayers for strength and to be able to love these little ones.  There are 3 that are super difficult.  Thanks for praying.  I’ll let you know how it goes…”

Here’s what I wrote back.  Love for any reading this to join me in praying for her this week:

“Excited to pray.  You’re a miracle-needy lady, Nancy [not her real name], so it makes sense you would be recruiting prayer for a string of miracles this week, and the BIGgest miracle of all, would be if Jesus so captures your heart and imagination throughout the week, that you are aware of Him living His life within you, instead of Nancy trying desperately to live the Jesus life.  So each time you feel stress, pressure, you will know that this is Nancy trying to live the Jesus life, but each time you feel a peace that makes no sense, because of a curiosity and expectancy to see what Jesus does next, in you and through you, you’ll know a miracle is happening.  Now, pay attention: if you are ever irritated with yourself when you catch yourself trying to live the Jesus life, you are not loving/accepting yourself unconditionally, but are filled with self-contempt for your failure to perform like you willfully wanted.  Jesus is never ever contemptful/irritated/angry about your failure: only ProudNancy.  Count on me to be praying daily for a string of miracles, and especially that Nancy will be extending grace to herself when she fails.  Now this is LIFE, Nancy.  This is FUN.  No pressure on Nancy.  Nancy’s performance in the classroom is not Nancy’s problem, or Nancy’s job.  Jesus’ problem, and Jesus’ job.  :)”

–DumbSheepDave, having the time of his life because folks pray

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

All my life I’ve been living in denial,

of how worthless I’ve felt, of how much I’ve hated myself.   Wow.  I would never have guessed or believed it.  But now I am learning that suppressed feelings of shame/worthlessness from childhood, lead adults to the kind of drivenness, intensity, competitiveness, trying to prove myself worthy, to myself and others, that has characterized my life.  I mean, I’ve had glimpses of this, but never saw its root as self-hate.  Wow.

Performance-based conditional self-love/self-acceptance, is the opposite of the unconditional love/acceptance of Jesus for me.  Performance-based conditional love, is what Satan offers, and what the world offers, and what the flesh offers, and this is not “love” but conditional-hatred, the opposite of the unconditional love/acceptance Jesus gives me, and I’m beginning to give myself.   Amazing difference it’s making in my daily life, even though my default mode is still failure-avoidance.   It’s always seemed so natural for me to be in a hurry, efficient, intense, that I’ve seldom given it much thought.  And now I find myself more self-aware when I’m hurrying, or intense, realizing that this intensity is rooted in self-hate, not self-love.   I have nothing to prove to myself or others, because I have the performance of Jesus imputed to me.  I’m more and more loving me just as I am, just as Jesus loves me.  Amazing.  My body is beginning to relax inside.   Ahhhh.  Peace that surpasses understanding: surpasses leaning on one’s own understanding, trying to feel good about self, based on performance as ShepherdDave.   I think there’s been a fear-based unease about my life, a hyper-vigilance, a hyper-conscientiousness, to avoid failure of any kind, at all costs.   Day and night.   Ahhhh.  The idol/addiction of failure-avoidance has lessening grip on my life.  ShepherdDave is dying and DumbSheepDave is coming to life.  I’m on a pathway of healing for the open festering wound on my soul.  I’m smiling at myself more, enjoying myself more.  And this enables me to smile at others more, and enjoy them more, rather than being critical of them, especially the inconsiderate and the uncool.  Judge not that you not be judged.  By yourself.

–DumbSheepDave, not knowing how to adequately thank folks for praying (please keep praying and please pray now)

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

Big, surprising answer to prayer.

God has led me to an amazing discovery in the past week, about my throbbing gut, that is blowing my mind: it’s emotionally rooted, due to a lack of self-love.  That’s right, self-love.   Whenever I don’t love myself unconditionally as Jesus loves me, my gut throbs.  As I confess my sin of performance-based conditional self-love, trying to prove myself to myself and others, my throbbing gut subsides, because then I am accepting myself, enjoying myself, cherishing myself, just as I am, warts and all, just as Jesus loves, accepts, enjoys, cherishes me, warts and all.   Amazing.

How did I miss this before?  I guess, because self-love seeeems so selfish, and self-centered.  But what’s interesting, is that it’s just the opposite: self-hatred is at the root of idolatry, not self-love.  When I love myself, I have nothing to prove, am not insecure, don’t neeeed to perform.

But then when my gut begins to throb again, I know that I’ve stopped loving myself well, that my love for me has turned conditional, based on my performance, and I need to confess my sin of self-hatred/independence/shepherdness/idolatry, so I can return to the inner peace and joy that flow from the Spirit and have nothing to do with my circumstances.   Priceless.  While I’ve hated my throbbing gut historically, I now love my throbbing gut, that tells me when I’ve slipped back into independent/shepherdlike behavior.   I have a ShepherdDave meter!  When I listen to it.

And there’s more.  Think about it.  It’s impossible to love others as Jesus loves, when I’m not loving myself as Jesus loves.   And.  Self-love = humility: not defensive, not needing to prove self, not competitive, not intense, not agendified.   And.  When I forget that whatever I’m facing is not my problem, not my job, my gut starts throbbing again, reminding me that it’s Jesus’ problem, and Jesus’ job.  Amazing.

–DumbSheepDave, experiencing more peace like a river, and great sleep, because folks have been praying (please keep praying and please pray now)

To receive my weekly updates, email me, or search for GospelFriendships (one word) on Facebook, and “like” the page, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com

I’d rate my circumstances a two,

on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being tops.  Okay, maybe a one.  In the past, I have rated my circumstances a 3 or 3.5 in my monthly report to GospelFriendships boardmembers, and to the folks at WHM on my monthly report as supportcoach to new missionaries.   So, why the downgrade?  Not due to finances: God’s been moving folks to give extra at year-end, and finances are looking up.

For a long time now, I think I’ve been living in denial of how harrrd my circumstances are.  I tend to suck it up and keep going, making the best of things.   What’s so hard about my circumstances?

I have chronic sensitivities to many foods (garlic, onion, pepper, to name a few), mold, wireless signals, auto exhaust, and most chemicals.  And we live off of a busy intersection.  These sensitivities affect my digestive tract, which produces insomnia, and/or leaves me feeling lousy.  I’ve lived with this for 45 years, and been to every kind of medical specialist and alternative practitioner in many locales, tried multitudes of various therapies, drugs, supplements, sleep-clinics.  Nada.

My sleep/energy the past two years is the best it’s been over the past forty years, but I go to extreme measures each day just to get eight hours of sleep at night, and even then, my sleep is interrupted three times on a good night, and I’m up for several hours on a bad night, going through the following day sleep-deprived, feeling awful, wanting to die and be with Jesus.  My extremely restricted diet of certain organic-only foods, combined with exercise, sauna, keeping our windows closed all year, multiple air cleaners, anti-wireless strategies, not eating out, and a bunch of other strategies, have contributed to this improved sleep.   But my gut never ever stops throbbing.  Most humans would be depressed at the thought of having to modify their lifestyle in such drastic ways, and feel entitled to extreme-hardship pay.   It’s just what I have to do to get half-decent sleep, feel decently, so I’ve not usually dwelled on the hardships, tended to look at more positive things.   This denial has resulted in my unwittingly giving believers and pre-believers around me a false impression of normalcy, when in fact, my life is extremely challenging, complicated, and at times downright depressing.  Poor Janet has had to live with all this most of her married life.  Our oldest daughter strongly suspects that I’m mildly bipolar, and after reading up on the diagnosis, it makes sense to me.

I can tell you this.  It’s really hard to believe/trust/rest in Jesus, when you feel awful.  The times I feel good, are incredibly awesome, and life seems incredibly easy, with my mind razor sharp, reflexes quick, and with oodles of energy.   When I feel awful, I’m learning to thank Jesus for my feeling miserable, telling Him, “Whatever it takes to get me more dependent on You, that’s what I want, Lord, because that’s when I’m the happiest.  Thank You for these perfect circumstances, custom designed for me, exactly what I need, to be retrained in a better way to live.”  I’m convinced that my suffering, combined with the prayers of GospelFriendships Pray-ers for my faith life, have resulted in an amazing difference in my life, a remarkable Jesus-dependency at times, that I’ve long-dreamed of having.  I’m still a toddler in Jesus-dependency, but praise God I’m not where I usedtabe, and life is good, because of Him, and the Pray-ers who’ve prayed for more Jesus-dependency in my life.  I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.  If Jesus can provide this for me, He can do it for anyone.   I am not special.   He is special, and able to change anyone, even someone as stiff-necked, thick-headed, and spiritually-learned-disabled as I.

–WeakDave, having the best years of his life, and thankful for friends who have prayed for him

To read past email updates, 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

Answered prayer for one of my heroes.

When this pastor began asking folks outside his church to pray for Jesus to change him, and the church he had months earlier begun to pastor, and to open doors to friendships with pre-believers, he had no pre-believing friends, the church was going downhill and unresponsive to his preaching, and he battled daily discouragement, freely admitting that Jesus wasn’t enough for him.   Today, the church is beginning to turn around, and he now has a number of pre-believing friends outside the church, including this couple mentioned below in his weekly prayer update from Saturday.
–WeakDave, trying to get believers to hang out with pre-believers, and pastors to recruit prayer for themselves

Praying friends,

This is a quick call to prayer.  This morning I am meeting with the young unbelieving (for the moment) couple who are coming for pre-marital counseling.  Pray for the Spirit to come powerfully in our time together.  Pray that the openness that they have displayed so far will grow.  Pray that I would be sensitive to know when to push and when to simply step back and wait.  Pray that through this process that this couple would embrace Jesus, and that this would start a faith movement throughout their families.  You might also pray for me that I would believe that the Spirit could/would do such a thing.  I’m not very believing in that regard.

Also, I am playing golf with the prospective bride’s father Monday morning, just the two of us.  He basically thinks he is good enough for God’s acceptance, and I’ll have to admit he is a pretty good guy in most ways.  Yet, it is all up to him.  He is master of his own world.  Pray for good conversations.  Pray for boldness on my part to testify to what Jesus is doing in me, and pray that what Jesus is doing in me will naturally come out without me having to force it.  So, pray for the Spirit’s work in me, and also pray that the Spirit would open his heart to something much greater than what he can achieve on his own.

Thanks for your prayers.  I love knowing that when I go into battle for men’s/women’s hearts, I don’t go alone.

To read past email updates, 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