When I have harrrrd circumstances,

it’s so helpful to THANK Him for them, instead of asking Him to remove them, change them, because THANKing is commanded in Scripture, and because THANKing Him for the harrrd reminds me that He’s totally sovereign over them, and I am not, which helps me be curious/expectant to see what He does NEXT, in me, others, circumstances.  This kind of passivity, this waiting on Jesus, seems so weird, so other-worldly, to ActivistDave/WorldlyDave.  The knee-jerk reaction of ActivistDave is to jump right in and try and fix my harrrd circumstances, or maaaaybe ask Him to remove/change them, instead of THANKing Him for them.  Even asking Jesus for something demonstrates confidence-I-know-what’s-best, which is pride/INdependence, the opposite of Jesus-dependency.  Sometimes after I THANK Him for the harrrd, He gives me a great idea to try this or that, to alleviate things, but sometimes the harrrd remains, though I’m greatly comforted by seeing a purpose in the harrrd/suffering — I’m reminded that Romans 5 says suffering produces perseverance, then character, then hope/faith/dependency, and there is NOTHing I need in life nearly as much as Jesus-dependency.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, championing Gospel-awareness, self-awareness and sovereignty-awareness, hoping the Spirit transforms us Christians so much that the seculars around us want something we have

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Thank You, Jesus, that I don’t have

the power to change myself into a thanker-for-the-harrrd, nor do I have the power to change others, though you know how much I wish I could.  Thank You for convincing me that what revival looks like in our day, is Christians so full of You that we are contagious thankers-for-the-harrrd.  Thank You that it seems-to-me impossible for any believer to become a thanker-for-the-harrrd unless s/he has sovereignty-awareness going through the day.  Thank You that today we believers are seed sown on thorny soil that does not reproduce.  Thank You that we struggle bigtime in being curious/expectant to see what You do NEXT, in us, others, circumstances, to change us for our good, Your glory, and the expansion of the Kingdom.  Thank You for Your genius plan, Your Grand Story, that You created from before the beginning of time.  And thank You for the other-worldly peace we experience when Your Spirit freshly convicts us of the sin of INdependence/confidence-we-know-what’s-thankable-and-what’s-not.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships

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The Thanksgiving holiday is very-dangerous

for followers of Jesus, seems to me, because thanking Him for the easily-thankable, obviously-thankable, reinforces control addiction, and surprisingly leads us into an INdependency that encourages God-bless-my-agenda kinda praying by believers, confident-we-know-what’s-best, confident we know how to direct the CreatorSustainer of the Universe.

Thanking Jesus for the harrrd is commanded in Scripture.  Thanking Him for the easy, is also commanded, but way-more dangerous.  When I ONLY thank Him for the obviously-thankable — when things go my way, when my flesh APPROVES of the outcome, CHEERS the outcome, I’m being lured into a destructive INdependency/control-addiction — an attempt to control my circumstances based on my confidence-I-know-what’s-best.  INdependency, not Jesus-dependency.

Impossible to have an agenda unless I’m confident-I-know-what’s-best.  Pride, not humility.  The unhappiest Christians are confident-they-know-what’s-thankable-and-what’s-not, and they ONLY thank Him for the easily-thankable — things going their way.  It’s sooo tempting to thank Jesus when things go your way.  Beware.  It’s a subtle trap.  Instead, in all circumstances, it helps me to thank Him for His genius plan.

I’m not at-all opposed to the Thanksgiving holiday, just pointing out what seems to me its danger.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, championing Gospel-awareness, self-awareness, and sovereignty-awareness, that believers might be compelling to the seculars around us

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Jesus is not ENOUGH for me.

I want something MORE than what He offers.  Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for what He offers, but it’s not ENOUGH.   Unsatisfying.  I ALSO want to feel good about myself based on MY performance, MY worthiness, MY reputation.  This role He’s scripted for me, of being a great example of a bad example, is too lowly, too humiliating, for my flesh to embrace.  My flesh HATES being down here.  Instead, it longs to be admired by others, not pitied or despised. Or better yet, ENVIED by others.  Or best yet, WORSHIPED by others.  I know, embarrassing.  I suspect that being worshiped would satisfy my flesh.  But not just worshiped by some.  Worshiped by ALL.  Ahhh.  The hungriest-neediest flesh of any human, imagining himself finally satisfied.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, always needing fresh conviction of the sin of INdependence, and always needing to be reminded that grace is for sinners, that it flows downhill to those at the bottom whose eyes have been freshly opened to see their sin, and always needing to be reminded that Jesus is only helpful to sinners, has nothing to offer non-sinners, is boring to non-sinners

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Alone time is priceless.

Whyzat?  Because it’s easiest for me to be sovereignty-aware when I’m all alone.  When I’m online, on the phone, or with others, I’m not alone, don’t FEEL alone.  Being alone gives me the opportunity to FEEL alone, FEEL the pressures on me, the disappointments, frustrations, the sense of my life being UP TO ME, the UNBELIEF in His total reign over every detail of my life.  So then.  I can CONFESS my independency — that I’m not curious/expectant to see what Jesus does NEXT in me, others, circumstances.  Ahhh, communion with Jesus.  So amazingly helpful when I realize afresh that I’m not in CHARGE, that my life is not up to ME.  Ahhh.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, who treasures Jesus-dependency above all else, whenever the Spirit freshly convicts him of his independence, hoping the seculars around him are noticing the difference Jesus sometimes makes

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The Gospel is BAD news

to the accomplished Christian, in business, ministry, politics, amateur sports, academia, whatever.  It’s BAD news to the Christian good at a hobby.  At parenting.  At leadership in the Church.  At whatever makes you feel good about yourself, worthy.  The Gospel is BAD news to you, because it says your worthiness/somebodiness is filthy rags.  The Gospel is BAD news to believers with something to LOSE.

The Spirit uses the Gospel to EXPOSE you to yourself, for the fraud you are.  You claim to treasure Jesus and His imputed worthiness, but what you REALLY treasure, is your own worthiness.  You find Jesus and His imputed worthiness UNsatisfying, and that’s why you have idols in your life, and the biggest idol of them all, is your own worthiness.  Pride, not humility.

But.  Once you are EXPOSED for the fraud you are, there is HOPE.  Jesus came for frauds, for failures, for losers.  You QUALIFY for grace, because of your failure to find contentment in Jesus and His imputed worthiness, needing NOTHing else.  All else is sinking sand.  This problem you have, is the leaven of the Pharisees that Jesus EXPOSED.  The Pharisees imagined themselves followers of God, but they were frauds, just like you.  And I.

Think I’m being extreme?  Consider how you would feel about yourself, if tonight you lost EVERYthing.  Job, health, relationships, home, cars, savings, bank cards, your precious reputation, and you became a single homeless person with zero friends, under a bridge.  Would Jesus be enough for you?  If He would, then you are no fraud.  Dave and so many others are frauds.  Thankfully, Jesus’ love extends to frauds.

Accomplishment/somebodiness/reputation/success is not bad, but it’s very dangerous.  “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” said Jesus.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, championing Gospel-awareness, self-awareness, and sovereignty-awareness, in hopes that the Spirit transforms us Christians to become such undone, contrite, humble, lovers of Jesus and others, that the seculars around us want what we have

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Bargains are a curse too.

Just like judging is a curse, and getting-or-wanting-my-way is a curse.  A bargain seems so noble, so frugal, so worthy.  Problem is, bargains are ADDICTIVE.  Like other addictions, you become obsessive, and they become all-consuming, where you spend inordinate amounts of time researching to find the very-best purchase: price, condition, quality, whatever.  A purchasing regret is anathema — a purchasing success, exacerbates the addiction. Addictions are irrational.

“Hello, my name is Dave, and I’m addicted to finding bargains when I need to make a purchase.  I frequently spend as much time online researching a five-dollar purchase as a five-hundred-dollar purchase.  Irrational.  I stand before you tonight, not to help YOU folks, but to help ME.  I need to be confessing to you that I’m an addict.  Confessing reminds me of reality, and I need reality.  I need to come here every Tuesday night and stand up here and tell you about me, so I don’t live in denial.  I’ve come to conclude that I have an addictive personality.  It’s a good thing I’m not addicted to alcohol, or drugs, but perhaps those would be easier to manage.  I dunno.  I can tell you this. I feel powerless to conquer my bargain-addiction.  You fellow bargain-addicts won’t laugh, but others who do not have this addiction, may find it amusing.  They have no clue how hard it is for a bargain-addict to pay list price, average price. Probably because they are healthier emotionally/spiritually than I am.  Not proving-addicts like I am.”

Well, I’ve never been to a 12-step meeting, but that’s how I imagine my participation.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, championing Gospel-awareness, self-awareness, and sovereignty-awareness, so we Christians might have integrity with seculars, so we might have something they want

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Judging is a curse too.

Just like getting-or-wanting-my-way is a curse, that I discussed last week.

Analyzing/critiquing/judging is a failed strategy for happiness — a horrible way to live, but it’s so natural for all of us humans, nonChristian AND Christian.  We do it unconsciously as we go through our day, looking at this or that, online, TV, people watching….analyzing/critiquing/judging. It’s ADDICTIVE. Easier to get off opiod’s than to get off judging.  Judging is mostly internal, not outside-the-cup like gossip, so it’s a respectable sin inside the organized Church, but not inside the Bible. “Judge not and you will not be judged.” You will not be judged BY YOURSELF.  YOU are the harshest judge of yourself. Nobody judges others without unmercifully judging self.

So what’s the payoff from judging?  Why the buzz? It feels so good to have an opinion about others, to feel superior to another, by noticing any weakness.  Dun get much better’n being a professional movie critic, sports critic, political critic. Expert. Ahhh, artificial LIFE.  That is…until I need another fix. And I always need another fix.

Miserable way to live, being the harshest judge of myself.  Too painful to feel the judgment I have for myself, so the temptation is strong to live in denial of what my harshest critic thinks of me, because I can’t stand being judged a failure along any line.

Judging is a curse.  Half the solution is recognizing the problem.  Judge, judge, judge, judge all day long. Until I see the impossibility of me NOT judging, I won’t be humble enough to run to Jesus for my identity, forsaking my own feeble attempts at reform, forsaking my need to feel good about myself, forsaking my quest for worthiness of my own.  Jesus has been painfully, humiliatingly, growing me by baby steps, at accepting/enjoying myself just as I am — a great example of a bad example. S’wunnerful. I’ve never known such peace, patience, enjoyment of others just as they are. But I’m still a toddler so far. My flesh is a monster.

Confessing helps when I’m aware of judging, and so does repeating over and over throughout my day, “Judging is a curse, but enjoying is a blessing.”  Thankfully Gospel-awareness has become foundational to my life over the years, as part of His genius plan. “Grace is for sinners” is woven into the fabric of my soul.  I QUALIFY for grace!

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, championing Gospel-awareness, self-awareness, and sovereignty-awareness, that we Christians might have something the seculars around us want

To receive my Tuesday posts, email me, or subscribe to my blog: dumbsheepdave.com