When you face rugged, brutal circumstances,

you don’t have the luxury of a healthy devotional life — you need extraordinary devotional life.  If the total sovereignty of Jesus is not central to your devotional life, to your experience as you go through your day, you will be angry, or living in denial, or hopelessly depressed — the least challenges will feel overwhelming.  Sovereignty-awareness won’t change your circumstances, but you will see the PURPOSE for your suffering — for Jesus to grow you yet-more dependent on Him, and less dependent on your human-wisdom, and the human-wisdom of others. 

Suffering produces perseverance, then character, then hope/faith/Jesus-dependency.  And there is nothing in this life that compares with Jesus-dependency.  Jesus uses suffering to disillusion us about trusting our human-wisdom, and this gift is precious beyond words.  By far our biggest need as believers, is to be yet-more disillusioned about human-wisdom.  Costly, but a BARGAIN.

Only Jesus makes sense of suffering.  Only extreme sufferers need Jesus to get through the day.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, voice of experience speaking

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My biggest need is not a plan,

but a Savior.  I don’t have a one-year plan, or a five-year plan.  JESUS is my plan.  Being curious/expectant to see what He does NEXT, in me, others, circumstances, is DAVE’S biggest need.  All my life I’ve had plans, and what good have they done me?  They made me a control-freak perfectionist, obsessing over the execution of my plans.  What a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad way to live.  Ruined my body with unnecessary stress.  

I have resigned as the CEO of my life and ministry, and asked Jesus to take charge, direct me.  I do so much better when HE is the Boss, and Dave is the go-fer.  Go fer this, and go fer that.  Go-fers are not paid to THINK, but to follow directions.  Go-fers are not INdependent, but DEpendent.  When a go-fer runs up against a problem, he whips out his cell phone and calls the Boss.  Go-fers do NOTHing on their own.

So what happens when I forget who’s the Boss, and take charge of my life?  I lose the peace that surpasses human-understanding — I lose the benefit of Jesus in THIS life.  Including His POWER.  And His humility.  So I lose with seculars.  When the Spirit opens my eyes afresh to see my INdependence, I CONFESS.  Ahhh, back to being GoFerDave.  The starting place for fresh faith, fresh dependency, is fresh conviction of sin.

Problem with being a go-fer, is that I get no credit for anything.  No glory.  All the glory goes to the Boss.  I give up my worthiness to experience a joy and a peace that have NOTHING to do with my circumstances.  BARGAIN.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, being Your dependent, Jesus.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships

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When I’m encouraged

by encouraging circumstances, I’m depending on my flesh — human-wisdom-dependency, not Jesus-dependency.  Same for discouraging circumstances.  How do I KNOW what’s best or worst for me, and those I love?  My human-wisdom tells me.

Scripture, however, commands me to NOT lean on my own understanding, NOT be wise in my own eyes, but rather fix my eyes and thoughts on Jesus, to see what He does NEXT, in me, others, circumstances.  Jesus knows what’s best or worst.  My human-wisdom does NOT know, nor does the human-wisdom of others — especially experts. 

Only Jesus-dependency delivers happiness — joy and peace that are NOT circumstance-dependent.  Human-wisdom-dependency delivers bondage, addiction, misery, unless my circumstances momentarily go the way my human-wisdom deems best.  No wonder the Church has so little influence on our society today.  We Christians are way-more human-wisdom-dependent than Jesus-dependent.  So we operate with human-power, not Jesus-power.

So whadda I do when I suddenly realize I’m human-wisdom-reliant — feeling the challenges of my day are UP TO ME?  CONFESS my unbelief in His sovereign reign over every detail of my life.  Ahhh.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships 

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We Christians are the most-competitive humans,

in my experience.  Wait, Dave, I’m not competitive.  Really?  Not all competitives are sports fans.  Competitive means judging others and their creations — thumbs up, down, or just okay.  Competitives who are unusually self-aware secretly ENJOY seeing others fail, mess up like we do, or worse than us — especially opponents, enemies.  So we feel superior by comparison.  Or inferior.  It feels good when we spot weaknesses in others, because it makes us feel better about ourselves.  Pride, not humility.  A turnoff to discerning seculars around us who smell our pride.

Okay, Dave, so why do you think Christians are worse than other humans?  Because even in grace-centered churches, we all wannabe good Christians — good examples, not [shudder] bad examples.  So our personal performance is a big deal to us, when actually, it oughtabe no big deal.  Our personal performance is filthy rags.  Only Jesus’ performance counts for anything.  Except my human-wisdom/flesh, doesn’t agree, and wants me to avoid failure, deliver success.  Causes me to be defensive, hate criticism.  Pride, not humility.  

So what’s the opposite of being competitive?  Being an observer/enjoyer of everyone just as we are, and everything just as it is, all according to Jesus’ genius plan.  Contented.  Observing — not performing, proving, judging, competing.  Curious/expectant to see what Jesus does NEXT, in us, others, circumstances.  And when we fail?  CONFESS, instead of trying harder to enjoy everyone and everything.  CONFESSion under-rated, striving OVERrated in the Church today.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, great example of a bad example, but baby-steppin at times in a healthier direction, because of the convicting work of Jesus’ Spirit — no credit to DAVE

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When I worry about our adult kids

and their income, or our OWN income, in the midst of this pandemic, I might as well be accusing Jesus of not knowing what He’s doing in their lives, or ours, of Him not having a genius plan for each of us that He’s right now executing, of Him being untrustworthy in the process.  Oh me of little faith.  Oh me of great confidence my human-wisdom knows best how He needs to be orchestrating their lives, and ours.  How am I any different in my worrying, than some atheist parent?  Uncurious and unexpectant about what Jesus is going to do NEXT, in me, them, others, circumstances.  

Grace is for parents of adult children, or any-age children, and also for non-parents, who are worriers — failures at trusting Jesus.  Grace flows downhill to us Christians at the bottom who KNOW we are failures, and KNOW we have fresh need of a Savior, to rescue us from our Christian atheism.  The kindest thing Jesus ever does for us kids of His, is to freshly open our eyes, convict us of the sin to which we’re currently blind, so we can freshly CONFESS and be momentarily unburdened.  Ahhh.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships

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What is MY responsibility to God?

To obey.  Perfectly.  When I fail?  CONFESS.  Only the fool imagines him/herself ABLE to obey.  Well, unless the fool so dumbs down the law/sin to outside-the-cup stuff that’s easy to obey superficially, so s/he imagines acceptable obedience.  No such thing as acceptable obedience.  Perfect.  Or failure.  All have failed, and all Christians continue to fail. 

Faith is not like a muscle that I exercise in order to believe.   Faith is a GIFT from Above.  Fresh faith comes from fresh conviction of sin by the Spirit of Jesus.  Little faith comes from little conviction, little CONFESSion.  Much faith comes from much conviction, much CONFESSion.  

The nicest, kindest, most-loving thing Jesus ever does for us kids of His, is to freshly convict us of the sin/idolatry to which we are currently blind.  Ahhh.  Only the freshly convicted experience fresh faith, fresh other-worldly peace, fresh contentment with everything just as it is, and everyone just as we are, for now.  Grace is for fresh failures who KNOW they are fresh failures.  What’s missing more than anything in the Church today, is unusual-self-awareness.  We Christians imagine ourselves followers of Jesus, instead of the failures we are.  In God’s eyes, we are superior to NO one.  In our human-wisdom, we imagine ourselves superior to many.  Self-deception, not self-awareness.

Our human-wisdom has an agenda — wants Jesus to give us what our human-wisdom thinks is best for us and those we love.  Pride, not humility.  Self-reliance, not Jesus-dependency.  Only Jesus knows best.  Jesus-dependents have no agenda of their own, no wisdom worth leaning on.  Jesus-dependents are curious/expectant to see what Jesus does NEXT in us, others, circumstances.  

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, easily self-deceived, always needing fresh conviction by Jesus’ Spirit 

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The Gospel oughtabe ENOUGH

for us Christians, but it’s not.  The Gospel oughta set us Christians FREE to live and love with reckless abandon, but it doesn’t.  Look around you.  Do you see Christians who are seed cast on fertile soil that reproduce a hundredfold, even thirtyfold, even a few?  Are we Christians contagious to the seculars around us?  Do seculars want what we have?  No.  Whyzat?  

Unbelief in us Christians.  Jesus and His imputed performance are not everything to us.  OUR performance is everything to us.  Our human-wisdom-reliance feeds our obsession with our performance as Christians, spouses, parents, at work, in ministry.  Jesus isn’t the biggest deal in our lives.  WE are.

But unless Jesus grows us unusually-self-aware, we’ll be blind to the problem, imagining ourselves the good guys — good examples of Christians, instead of the great examples of bad examples we are.  Pride, not humility.  Self-deception, not self-awareness.  And we won’t really understand Scripture unless we’re unusually-self-aware.  Think Pharisees, who thought they understood Scripture.  He who has a sense of having been forgiven little, today, loves little, today.  Is not freshly undone, contrite, utterly in awe of Jesus.

What can we do?  CONFESS.  Instead of trying harder to do better, believe better.  Don’t ask Jesus for more faith.  That sounds so spiritual.  CONFESS your unbelief in His sovereign reign, each time His Spirit opens your eyes to your unbelief, to your feeling ALONE with the problems you face, to see how unsatisfied you are with Jesus and His worthiness, wanting some of your own.  And over time, I predict you’ll obsess less and less over the outside of your cup — working hard to project humility and graciousness to those around you, and you will become less and less the fraud you are.  WE are.  And Jesus will make us attractive to the seculars around us — other-worldly humble and other-worldly loving.  We’ll have the authenticity of the early followers of Jesus who were contagious to their neighbors, relatives, work associates, enemies.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, not a great practicer of what he preaches, but baby steppin in a better direction because of the humbling, convicting work of Jesus’ Spirit in his life, that his human-wisdom HATES

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The silver lining of feeling lousy.

I need Jesus more.  I don’t seem to need Jesus nearly as much when I feel great.  I don’t have the luxury of INdependency — of ignoring Jesus, when I feel lousy.  Or, I CAN ignore Him, but I’m utterly miserable, because any difficulty feels overwhelming, so life is unbearably harrrd.  I just wanna go to bed and pull the covers over my head.  When I feel lousy, I’m more desperate —  more MOTIVATED to turn to Jesus, to CONFESS my unbelief in His sovereign reign over my life, my unbelief in His using my suffering to produce perseverance, then character, then hope/faith/dependency/humility.  And more motivated to CONFESS my lack of curiosity/expectancy to what He will do NEXT, in me, others, circumstances.  Ahhh.

— Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships

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