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GandalfTheWise last won the day on April 17 2018

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  1. In Genesis, the first bad thing God sees is Adam being alone in spite of Adam walking with God. He creates Eve as the crowning point of creation as a complementary partner. Jesus refers to this exclusive one-flesh relationship as something God intended and that God did not intend for it to be broken. In much of western culture, fewer and fewer people are able to see firsthand healthy thriving first marriages and families. More and more children are only seeing split families and single parent households. I'm seeing more and more glorification of single-motherhood as being a noble sacrificial thing that is empowering and good for kids rather than as an undesirable last resort in spite of reams of studies proving kids in such households are in more physical and emotional danger and at risk for future problems than kids in stable two parent homes. More and more people have made it impossible for themselves and others to ever have an exclusive one-flesh relationship because of their choices and a culture that to a large degree encourages this as being a "healthy" thing. This in spite of studies that clearly show that more and more relationships in one's life reduce the chance of a good marriage later. It saddens me when I see this becoming a norm rather than an aberration. Indeed, culturally speaking, marriage is starting to be denigrated as an oppressive terrible thing best avoided by enlightened people. A few months ago, I ran across a YouTube recommended video with a title I thought was a joke and decided to watch it for humor. This introduced me to a new world I'd never heard of called red-pill and MGTOW (men going their own way). It's basically the male equivalent of the current wave of feminism. I researched this more and frankly started to be shocked at the huge cultural shift that was happening under my nose for decades that I'd never really paid that much attention to. Women are being told marriage is an oppressive part of the patriarchy that has suppressed women from achieving their full potential as human beings and men are being told only a desperate simp would legally sign on the dotted line to be married to a desperate woman who likely views him as a last resort and a bank account to draw on. It sometimes seems no one is looking to people who have been married for 30, 40, or 50 or more years for marriage and relationship advice but rather to their peers who are frankly as clueless how to make a relationship work as they are. How does a Christian deal with this? I could quote a few Bible verses and throw out some trite answers, but there is no simple answer. We're caught up in the cultural equivalent of a landslide or avalanche or tidal wave that is to a large extent carrying us along with it. Fewer and fewer Christians are in a situation where they can start from scratch and do it right. More and more Christians already have baggage they are dragging along with them. A higher and higher percentage of children and adults have never experienced a healthy family or marriage. I'll be blunt. This is starting to affect what I hear Christians saying about marriage, family, and relationships. Off the soapbox for now. It's a gorgeous day. My bride of a number of decades and the sole person I've ever had a relationship with wants to go spend the afternoon with me hiking on some rocks by a waterfall now that the water's lower for the season. We might even sneak in a few non-public PDAs out in the breeze and under a tree. There've been ups and downs and times we've slept on far sides of the bed or even on the couch and not talked much. There've been times I've been so frustrated with her I couldn't sleep well. But when I was in the ER with a severe panic attack thinking it might be a heart attack or something serious, there was no one else in the world I wanted at my side at that point in time. Our lives have been better being partners and sharing the load of life together. She picked a young naive but Christian man of solid character to spend her life with. I did likewise (except swap man for woman in the sentence). It took work and had it's share of frustrations and problems, but it's been worth it. [EDIT: FYI for my generation PDA = kissing and smooching]
  2. Well said. In one sense however, the sabbath discussion is a poignant clarification of which "Jesus" we indeed follow. The following is what I best understand various posts to have been saying. Some choose to follow one named Yashua. This Yashua does not send the person of the Holy Spirit to transform and change us to grow fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness) in our lives, but rather came to set an example for holy living that we must strive for. This Yashua has very few followers because few if any churches today believe in Him. This Yashua rejects any who fail to proclaim that he was resurrected on a particular day of the week. In two millennia, this Yashua still only has a handful of followers while the false Jesus has millions upon millions of followers. The devil has so successfully stamped out his name that a web site containing Bibles (biblegateway) has not a mention of his name Yashua in 60 English Bibles or 19 Spanish Bibles. The only thing close is 3 English Bibles which have Yeshua. Those 400 million native Spanish speakers in the world do not appear to have a Bible with Yashua's name instead all using Jesucristo which is a form of the name Jesus. Indeed, hardly anyone in the world has available a Bible to them properly proclaiming Yashua as the real name of the Son of God. Yashua calls us to obey God's commands properly. If we have done so, we will reap the reward of our efforts and be born-again in the resurrection to eternal life. As near as I can tell, a true follower of Yashua is not deceived or distracted by testimonies of spiritual experiences and miracles which occur through a false Jesus. As far as I can tell, the only fruit of which can be believed of a follower of Yashua are obvious things such as Sabbath keeping, rejection of the false Jesus, denouncing all false churches, keeping God's commands to the best of one's ability, and proclaiming to others that to love Yashua is to keep God's commands to the best of one's ability. In contrast, followers of Jesus testify that there was a point in their life that the Holy Spirit touched them in a spiritually tangible way that they could feel. They testify that they then had a sense of God's presence that they had never had before. They testify that their lives started changing. They testify of answered prayers and God's providence in their life. Those who've followed this Jesus for decades testify of assurance and peace that they are in God's hands. They have a trust and confidence in Him because of all they've seen Him do in their lives and others. They see spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control emerge and flow from their hearts outward into their lives. These followers of Jesus testify of being set free from addictions and healed from spiritual and emotional bondage. These followers of Jesus know many other followers of Jesus and regularly meet together for fellowship and worship. These followers of Jesus have proclaimed this name of Jesus in all parts of the world. These followers of Jesus see the fruit of a transformed life as the primary evidence one is a follower of Jesus. The biggest difference I can see is that followers of Jesus testify to what God has done as the most important thing in their lives whereas followers of Yashua proclaim keeping God's commands as the important thing in their lives.
  3. Here is what I am understanding these posts to be saying: That most people on this site are not Christians. That this is proven by a few different things. First, they use the wrong name for the Son of God which is not Jesus but Yashua. The second is that anyone who worships on Sunday instead of Saturday is not a Christian. The third is that real Christians should have few if any disagreements on anything. I just spent some time skimming many of your other posts to try to understand what you believe. I am trying to represent this as honestly and accurately as I can based on piecing together hundreds of posts. The first point is that the RCC started a sequence of false teachings and that the protestant reformation did not escape it. Hence virtually all denominations in existence today are wrong and proclaiming another Jesus. Anyone wanting to be a Christian must correctly identify these false teachings and reject them. I won't bother to get into specific points and details related to the Trinity, personhood of the Holy Spirit, eternal judgement, etc. which seem to be viewed as RCC false teachings. As near as I can tell, a simplified overview of the gospel you are preaching is this. That through Yashua's atoning work, we are forgiven. Repentance and conversion then means we obey God's commands in the Bible to the best of our abilities. If we do so adequately in this life, that we will be born-again through the resurrection into eternal life. The most notable thing to me is a general absence of the testimony of God's presence in the heart of Christians as being a normal part of being a Christian. Indeed, some posts almost seemed to deny the possibility of this. As I understand some of your posts, Christians who testify to a conversion experience in which they suddenly became aware of God's presence are actually being deceived by the devil unless it results in them actively obeying God's commands including observing the Sabbath.
  4. Exodus 3 has the story of Moses and the burning bush. Verse 2 clearly says it was an angel of the Lord appearing to Moses. As he approached, then God spoke to him from the bush including telling him not to come closer because the ground was holy and to take off his sandals. In this case, we have both the appearance of an angel and the presence of God after the angel piqued Moses' curiosity to come closer. It was also interesting that Moses didn't know God was there God until God told him so. It could be a similar situation in Joshua 5:13-15 that the man (or angel) Joshua saw brought his attention to the fact God was there even though Joshua wasn't aware of it and was relaying God's words to him. Are some of the OT passages Jesus appearing in pre-incarnate form? Perhaps. I don't have a strong opinion either way though I find those Christians scholars who reject this to have done solid research from a hermeneutical standpoint. As far as I can tell, the NT makes no specific reference to Christ being manifested on earth prior to his birth and incarnation so this belief seems to have arisen some time later. In some ways this is an amazing absence in that Peter or Paul could have pointed to those scriptures saying how Jesus had appeared to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and others while they were proclaiming Christ to the Jews. John when combatting gnosticism could have clearly portrayed the contrast between appearances of Christ (which is basically what some gnostics were teaching) versus his full incarnation but doesn't. The lack of any NT record of any of the original apostles explicitly quoting an OT passage and saying it was Jesus who appeared is interesting. This does not mean this idea is wrong as it took the church centuries to clarify various things such as the Trinity, but just that perhaps it was not clearly taught or understood by the first Christians. The concept goes back at least as far as the church father Justin Martyr (2nd century) who associated the "Angel of the Lord" with the second person of the Trinity, the Son or Word or Logos, in pre-incarnate form. Though note that Justin Martyr took this to the point of attributing much of human wisdom in unbelievers to the actions of the pre-incarnate Christ. In addition many of the early church fathers held this view though it was also held by some with heretical views who used it to bolster their positions. As far as I can tell, this seems to be a view that got passed on among many Christians through the ages without serious examination by a number of commentators who just basically repeated what they had been taught. A book in 1852 seems to have ushered in a revival of this belief. Here's a link. https://archive.org/details/doctrinemanifes00dobbgoog/page/n7 In 1978, James Borland published Christ in the Old Testament: Old Testament Appearances of Christ in Human Form which seems to have lead to a widespread modern day popularity of this belief among evangelicals. I think that the most important thing is to emphasize a clear cut difference between some type of appearances and the actual incarnation of Jesus as fully God also becoming fully human.
  5. The theological terms are theophany (appearance of God), christophany (appearance of Christ), and angelophany (appearance of an angel). There is debate over which of these three apply to various verses in the OT. There is debate over which appearances are God, a pre-incarnate Christ, or an angel. Some Christians do believe Jesus appeared in pre-incarnate form at various times in the OT. Some passages which might involve this are Genesis 12 (The Lord appearing to Abraham), Genesis 18 (one of 3 visitors to Abraham), Genesis 32 (Jacob wrestling with someone), Exodus 3 (burning bush), Exodus 24 (God appearing to Moses and the elders), and Judges 13(Samson's parents seeing an angel of the Lord). There are other passages as well. One thing to note in the OT is that falling down on one's knees was not reserved solely for worship of God and was used as a show of respect. The term "lord" was often used in normal human interaction as a show of respect. I've not formed a strong opinion in any direction. There really aren't any essential Christian beliefs and practices which hinge on this. I see this as something that one can spend a lot of time debating without really resolving anything.
  6. The early Greek speaking Christians used the Greek form Ιησους for the name of the Son of God. If it was critical that Christians use some variation of the Hebrew or Aramaic name Yeshua or Yehoshuah (anglicized as Joshua), it's likely Paul would have mentioned that somewhere along the line in one of the epistles to Greek speaking believers. If the form of the name being used by Christians was critical, Paul probably would have included some explanation in II Cor 11:4 about which variations of the name of the Son of God in different languages were acceptable. Instead, he was talking about the context of the Gospel and most likely meant what someone was preaching *about* the Son of God being different rather than the form of the name they were using. The early Greek speaking Christians used the Greek form of His name. As near as I can tell, the early Syriac NT used Yeshu (a shortened form of Yeshua). The Gothic NT (4th century translation in eastern Europe) used Iesus (more or less straight from Greek). Going through various translations on Biblegateway on verse Matthew 1:1 shows the name of the Son of God used by Christians throughout the world. As far as I can tell, there are two basic forms. In some languages, Christians use a transliteration of His name from the Greek NT which is some variation of Iesus Christos. In other languages, Christians use a transliteration of His name from Aramaic or Hebrew which is some variation of Yeshua Messiah. For example, in Hindi, they use something like Yisu Masiya. As a practical matter, countless solid mature faithful Christians for about two millennia and around the world have used the common transliterated form of either Iesus Christos from Greek or Yeshu Messiah from Aramaic or Hebrew in their native language. This is the name they use in prayers. This is the name they use to proclaim the gospel. This is the name that miracles are done in. This is the name they have lived and died proclaiming. This is the name by which they've addressed their Lord and Savior. I simply follow the example of those believers who've lived and died for their Lord and Savior. In English, I use Jesus Christ; in Spanish, Jesucristo; in Greek, Iesus Christos; in ASL, pointing to alternate palms of my hands; and (if my Hebrew studies progress well) eventually, Yeshua Hamashiah. I don't believe that using a historically more accurate form in another language that I don't know is going to give me more spiritual authority or make me a better Christian. I don't see the point in second guessing generations of believers from all around the world.
  7. I've been a Christian for over 40 years now. This means that I have been living with an expectancy of the Lord's return for close to half a century. At this point in life, I am glad I made decisions and planned for the long run rather than the possible imminent tomorrow. I recall when I was 15 or 16 arguing with my mom that I didn't need braces for my teeth because the Lord would be returning before they'd be straight anyway. In hindsight, decades of straightened teeth has been nice. I recall in college of being among the Christian guys who were determined to be part of Beta Tau Rho (BTR) bachelors 'til rapture. Three children and three grandchildren later I am glad I am married and have kids. My retirement fund will soon be enabling me to be free to spend full time in ministry or other activities without worrying about employment. Should the Lord tarry and I live to comparable ages to my ancestors, I should have about 2 to 3 decades more with a fair amount of financial liberty and health and mental function to have time to build a legacy for my kids, grandkids, and eventually grandkids and more. My advice is be spiritually prepared if the Lord returns tomorrow, but plan ahead as if His return will be a century or two from now. I've been now hearing the very same types of things I heard decades ago about the Lord's imminent return and how terrible things are getting, etc. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, we were completely convinced this world wouldn't be here today approaching the year 2020 that way it is, but it is. Life goes on as it has for millennia and will keep doing so until the Lord's return which might be tomorrow or a long time from now. Living solely as though the Lord will return tomorrow shortchanges the depth and quality of the ministry we can carry out in our lives. If the Lord is returning tomorrow, why bother reading the bible today? discipling someone today? why prepare to go to the missions field? The only two things to focus on would be last ditch evangelism where we are and making sure we are spiritually ready. What would my life have looked like had I done this? I'd have shortchanged those things that bring longterm spiritual health and maturity and form a solid basis for ministry in favor of being as busy as possible getting results in the next 24 hours. I'd never have bothered learning Greek. I'd probably not have read the Bible through as many times as I have. I would probably have shortchanged my devotional life in favor of being busy. I wouldn't have studied biblical history and theology nearly as much as I have. I wouldn't have been involved in as many ministries as I have. With regard to raising kids, the important thing is following God's leading. In what rates as one of the more insane parenting moves recorded in the Bible, following God's guidance in her heart, Hannah left Samuel as a young child solely in the care of Eli along with his two sons who did evil in the sight of the Lord. If you are not familiar with her, you might want to read about Susanna Wesley. In the long run, the example you set will have a strong influence. I've known Christians kids that did great in public school and some that didn't, some that did good in private Christian schools and some that did not, and some that did good with homeschooling and some that did not. It is about seeking God's guidance and direction for each child (which might be different from his or her siblings).
  8. I've been married for over 30 years and have observed the development of many marriages over decades. I've seen those that have thrived, survived, and ended. I'm seeing red flags in this post. The biggest is that any single Christian woman who is asking anything other than "how do I know if God is guiding me to this great Christian man with all these great qualities" is probably not in a good situation. Anytime I hear anything close to already being in love with someone and having to pray they will become a better person, I cringe because I've heard way too many sad testimonies of what happens 10 years down the line. I've heard a few where things do work out but more often than not it turns into a mess especially once children come into the picture. I'm not hearing any positive reasons why this relationship is good. There is no list of all the great things about this man and why he is so special that he is good marriage material. All I read is flaws. If a man is not good marriage material right now, you shouldn't be dating him let alone having him as a boyfriend or considering him as a husband. Would I be correct in guessing that you have some special memories or feelings associated with him calling you "baby"? And now you realize that he uses that term with other women? Hopefully he is not just a charismatic seductive smooth talker who has learned how to charm women off their feet without them realizing it. If you are a Christian and having to pray for someone to become a godly man, you probably should not have been in that relationship to begin with. Here's a solid piece of age-old wisdom (that is backed up by research) about looking for a good marriage partner. The fewer relationships in their past, the better. Every relationship adds baggage to a person and lessens how special a relationship is for them. Every person you kiss lessens how special a kiss is with your eventual marriage partner. Every special memory you have with someone from your past will compete with the person you eventually marry. There are single people today who regularly have intimate relations with a series of people. They are destroying their ability to form a special pair bond which is the basis of a good marriage. Of course, two virgins in their first and only relationship getting married is no guarantee of a happy lifelong marriage. But, odds are more in their favor of a happy lifelong marriage than those with many prior relationships. Here's another solid piece of age-old wisdom about a marriage partner. What you see now in their character is more than likely what you'll see later. The usual exception to this is a person who is putting on a good front to cover bad things and they end up worse than you expected. It is more common to discover bad things about a person later than to discover good things. If someone is hopping around from relationship to relationship now, they will likely continue to do so. If someone is manipulative now, they likely will be later. If you are not seeing a consistent pattern of integrity, being a hard worker, personal growth, honesty, and good character now, they probably don't have it and won't have it later. If you are having to make excuses for someone now, you will have to continue to do so later. Don't marry for potential and hope for change. Sometimes people change for the better, but many times they don't. A final piece of advice. Relationships and marriages are not a rescue mission to save someone. If you want to help people, become a counselor or do volunteer work. If someone has a bunch of emotional and spiritual baggage and bondage from the past, it's unlikely you're going to help them heal within the context of a relationship or marriage. It's more likely you'll become an enabler and let them continue on doing the same thing and they will drag you down with them.
  9. Very good questions and many good answers already. Here is what I would add. I am going to try to give a big picture view. It is often easy to get caught up into the nuts and bolts of arguing over a single word in a single bible verse or discussing at length many details. There are times we need to step back and see the forest for the trees rather than debating the bark patterns on a couple particular trees. ***What is Christian and what is not?******* 1. There are the essentials of the faith that all Christians believe and practice. 2. There are non-essentials of the faith where Christians have differing beliefs and practices. 3. There are beliefs and practices which oppose and contradict Christianity. Speaking for myself, those Christians I respect most as teachers make this threefold distinction very clear. There are many Christians and teachers who basically operate on a two-fold system: essentials of the faith and heresy. In theory, all Christians point to the authority of the Bible as to why they are right and other Christians are wrong on particular issues. The problem I see is that many Christians fail to see that there is a huge difference between their *opinion* of what God says in the Bible and what God indeed says in the Bible. This leads us to the point where we must observe the fruit and lives and practices of those who claim to be Christians as evidence of God's work in their lives. For many Christians, this proceeds in two steps. The first step is finding a fellowship or church where people actively testify about what God is doing in their lives and take such things as personal Bible reading and prayer seriously. This usually leads to indoctrination where a new Christian makes no distinction between essential and non-essential and just believes it all in contrast to unChristian beliefs and practices. The second step is meeting a range of similar Christians from a range of fellowships and churches. This usually leads to a better sense of what is essential and what is non-essential. The challenge is that it seems like every Christian has a different list of things that are essential and non-essential. Some Christians have huge lists of essentials and accuse any Christian that disagrees at any point with teaching and practicing heresy. In some places, you can literally walk into two churches across the street from each other, each full of solid mature Christians, who cannot in good conscience fellowship and minister with the other church because of disagreement over a few things. The path in life God has taken me on is that I've been a participant and member of many churches and ministries with differing views. Based on everything I heard from the pulpit in various churches, there is probably not a one of these churches and ministries that some other Christian has not called heretical and spiritually unhealthy over some disagreement. In the past two churches I've been in (with differing views on a number of issues), I've heard from the pulpit why Christians in the other church cannot serve God as well because of their spiritual errors. A simple perusal of many threads on this site will illustrate this quite clearly. I think that the healthiest approach to identifying what teachings are Christian or not is to see where something fits within the three categories of essential, non-essential, or outright heresy. My view is that there is a huge gulf between essential/non-essential versus heresy. The view I've seen in many Christians is that there is a huge gulf between essential versus heresy with little room for non-essentials. All Christians hold to the authority of the Bible. They agree on some points and disagree on many points. Those points of general agreement are usually essentials. Those points of general disagreement are usually non-essentials. One good way to distinguish essential from non-essential is simply to get to know many many Christians, listen to their testimonies, and just listen to what things they agree on and what things they disagree on. One example: Two Christians believe in the authority of scripture. One believes it is essential to use a particular version. The other believes it is non-essential as to what version is used. They'll debate this issue and perhaps split in fellowship over it. However, the huge difference is really from an atheist who sees the Bible as a collection of millennia old middle eastern fairly tales and fiction. This is why I seen the three-fold distinction between essential, non-essential, and unchristian as a more helpful way of categorizing beliefs than simply essential versus unchristian. Christians can fight and split over essential and non-essential but they can remain Christians in each others' eyes. ******What will you find taught in churches?************ Here is the big picture as I see it in terms of what you'll find in "Christian" teaching in churches which is from sincere people (in contrast to hucksters who are trying to cheat or manipulate people). There are 3 general categories of teaching you'll find. The first is what I'll just refer to as evangelical. This consists of Christians who have had a clear conversion experiences (usually referred to by terms such as being born-again, saved, coming to Christ, accepting Christ, having a personal relationship with God). The second is what I'll call traditional. This consists of people who have attended church their entire lives but have not had a clear conversion experience. The third is what I'll call non-Christian. This consists of people who are essentially agnostics and atheists. This is a movement over a past number of decades in which people like the symbolism, rituals, and other parts of Christianity for their warm emotional content and organizing people together. Evangelicals take their doctrinal beliefs way too seriously. It is unspoken dogma among evangelicals that one cannot be a good Christian unless you believe all the right things. They then argue excessively over such things and cannot in good conscience work with another Christian who disagrees on various issues. Some evangelicals (in my opinion) foolishly label each other wolves and heretics over these disagreements. Many evangelicals become heavily indoctrinated by their church or a few teachers and do not realize it. Read some threads on this site and you will find Christians whose lives are equally God honoring and displaying spiritual fruit who probably could not in good conscience minister together. While all evangelicals properly assert the essentials of the faith (which includes a real working of God's Holy Spirit to actually make us new creations in Christ), most elevate non-essential things to the level of essential and then fight about it. An evangelical faith is in essence a trust and confidence in God based on firsthand observation of His working in one's life and the testimonies of those around them. Traditionals usually hold the core essential beliefs that evangelicals do. However, there is a tendency to treat any real working of God in people's lives as exceptional miracles rather than what should be expected on a daily basis. My sense of church history is that most traditional denominations and churches are what remains of an evangelical group centuries and generations later. There is a holding to the past of what God has done rather than a present expectation of what God can do now. My observation is that there are indeed some Christians who are in essence evangelicals (with a direct working of God in their lives) who are part of traditional churches and denominations. In some sense, those are the Christians who are keeping traditional groups spiritually alive. A traditional faith often tends in essence to be a hope that God exists and everything believed is true. The modernists and rationalists hold no real core beliefs except that some form of spirituality is a good thing. This is basically the outlook that we cannot know anything beyond this world and any type of psychological or spiritual phenomena that helps us make it through life more comfortably is a good thing. They will adopt the symbols, words, and rituals of any religion with the hope it will bring comfort during the hard times of life and bring some type of good purpose to our lives. They will adopt any psychological or spiritual practices that produce emotional or psychological effects in people. In its core, this is basically an agnosticism or atheism searching for purpose and meaning in a physical universe in which the only certain thing is our death. These are the ministers who will deny any historical basis for Christianity or would consider the important thing to be Jesus' example to us and that such rituals as communion are not a celebration of a real resurrection from the dead but a meaningful symbol of community. The modernist/rationalist faith is basically using rituals, words, and symbols (whether Christian or not) to cause warm feelings and community and bring comfort and purpose in life. I will add a fourth group that is sort of developing recently which is postmodern. This is a group for which feelings are the only thing that is important. Notice that this is *very different* from evangelicals (including pentecostals and charismatics) who testify to God's actual working in their lives. This is a group that values people expressing their opinions and feelings. To some extent, this is the present day equivalent of the modernist/rationalist except that they don't even bother with a common expression of "faith" via rituals or symbols or statements of faith. Transparency of life and sharing opinions are a dominant currency of fellowship and belief. My best guess is that a postmodern faith is basically that our purpose and meaning in life comes from being true to ourselves and expressing that in belief and life. ******What is important?********* The important thing is growing spiritually and walking with God on a daily basis. To a large degree, what we know and believe about God comes from what He does in our lives. We can learn *about* God from various Christian teachers. However, we can only learn to know God by walking with Him ourselves. Our faith (which is really trust and confidence in God Himself) does not consist of a series of intellectual opinions where we try to remove doubt. Our faith is trust and confidence that comes from seeing God's hand in our lives and in others around us. Over months, and years, and decades, our knowledge and trust and confidence in God grows. Being a Christian is primarily about being a new creation in Christ. The changes that occur in us are due to God's Spirit changing us. ****** Specific Advice ************ Learn to identify other evangelical Christians by their testimonies and lives. Saying the right words and putting on a good front is not a 100% thing. There are the agnostic/atheist modernists using Christian words for their connotation and positive psychological effects. But over time and after hearing more and more testimonies of various kinds, you'll start to have a solid sense of how God works in people's lives. You will find those who talk about answered prayer, Bible reading, personal transformation, hearing God speak in various ways, and who in general use everyday terms to talk about what God is doing in their lives. This will start to be in stark contrast to those who talk primarily about "faith" or other fixed words who rarely talk about God doing real things in their lives. There too will be the hucksters and manipulators who've learned to talk the talk and to fake the walk to some extent. The bottom line is to only cautiously follow an individual teacher or group that claims to have a special anointing or truth or revelation that makes them unique and better than other groups. Some of those are hucksters and others are sincere but mislead. Recognize what other Christians believe will be a mixture of essentials and non-essentials. When you run across another Christian that disagrees at some point, it is often a non-essential. Learn that when any Christians says "The Bible clearly teaches..." what they really mean is "I think that the Bible teaches...". One sign of essentials of Christian belief are the points of agreement of many Christians and many churches who disagree on many other points. Some of the essentials I've seen are these. God exists. God created the world (though Christians may disagree on the particulars of how). Jesus Christ's atoning work is the only way of salvation. Christ will return (though Christians disagree on the timetable and particulars). There will be eternal life and eternal judgement (though Christians may disagree on the particular details of what these entail). Christ's atoning work will produce tangible changes in our lives in which holiness grows. Many historical creeds contain items that most Christians consider to be essentials. Find the big things that the vast majority of Christians agree on. There is usually safety in holding to those things as true teachings.
  10. 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court.And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matt 5:21-22 NIV 22 ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ· Ῥακά, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ· Μωρέ, ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός. Matt 5:22 SBLGNT Raka is basically a run of the mill daily insult. It seemed to be an insult of one's intelligence. I.e., Perhaps something like the old "Hey blockhead" or the more modern "Hey dumb-<expletive>". In contrast, More, seems to have an implication about one's morals or value as a human and some uses of it and related words pertain to the ungodly. It is perhaps more related to our more theologically based insults telling someone where to go or referencing their status with regard to spiritual condemnation. As far as I can tell, Raka is an insult and More is potentially a curse depending on the tone and intention of the speaker. There seem to be two general approaches to this passage by different comentators. The first is that Jesus is giving three escalating things which are all subject to judgement to death. Being angry, being angry enough to insult (Raka), and being angry enough to call down judgement on someone (More), are all capital offenses spiritually speaking. The second is that Jesus is pointing out that anger itself can bring similar consequences to murder. Merely insult someone and you'll face legal consequences. However, call down judgement from heaven on them and you'll face that yourself. I tend to fit within the 2nd group. My best guess at the general meaning is this. It contrasts annoyance with deep intentional anger. Calling someone a blockhead or the like can set you up for a lawsuit for slander in the eyes of man. Intentionally telling someone to go to <theological term deleted in this context> puts you in danger of it yourself in the eyes of God. I think the comparison Jesus is setting up is being angry enough to murder with being angry enough to curse someone. It's one thing to be annoyed with someone. It's by far another to be so angry that we see someone as subhuman, worthless, and worthy of God's judgement. Anyway, that's a short and quick set of thoughts. There's potentially more to be considered by the context of the surrounding passages and the potential use of the same word "brother" in this passage as is used later in the NT for believers.
  11. As I read this post in the context of a number of posts over the past months, I'm not sure if I'm reading confusion or conviction. Sometimes conflicting feelings like this are symptoms of things that God needs to work on and heal in our lives. There is a huge difference between God putting a desire for singleness in our hearts versus avoiding marriage because of pain, betrayal, or bitterness from past relationships. The one is pursuing what God meant us to be while the other is fleeing the past without looking to God for healing and needed change. Singleness due to God's direction will be a blessing. Singleness due to trying to escape pain and bad memories won't be a blessing. Bad relationships create baggage that we carry forward into all future relationships. We usually get into bad relationships because something was wrong in our hearts and lives that got us into those situations. Those bad relationships cause more problems inside of us. Unless we let God do work in our hearts and lives and heal us of both what caused us to pursue bad relationships as well the damage from the bad relationships, we'll be carrying both things going forward. This will affect all future relationships we have including how we raise and treat our children. If there was something that caused us to get into bad relationships to begin with that God does not deal with and heal, that thing will be around to affect us and our children. If there are unforgiven and unhealed things from bad relationships, those will affect all of our future relationships including with our children. It's easy to believe that our good intentions will cause us to rise above the past; but good intentions rarely overpower emotional and spiritual bondage we have in our hearts. Anyone with bad relationships in their past really needs to seek God's guidance and direction for healing, forgiveness, and working through whatever negative things are still clinging to us. Unless God deals with it, chances are that those things that drove us into bad relationships will remain to negatively affect future relationships including how we raise our children.
  12. Knowledge is knowing facts about things. Understanding is knowing the relationships between facts. Wisdom is being able to consistently use and apply knowledge and understanding to actual situations in life in a godly way. In Jesus's day, the Jews had the knowledge of the Law about the Sabbath and specific things that could or could not be done. Jewish scholars over the centuries arrived at an understanding of what it meant to keep the Sabbath and derived principles and rules which extended beyond those things specifically mentioned in the Law. They addressed situations not specifically mentioned in the Law. Then Jesus came along and simply pointed out God created the Sabbath as a blessing for man and not as a heavy weight to be carried. The Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath. Many Christians mistake knowledge and understanding for wisdom. Christians who have knowledge will quote bible verses. Christians who have some degree of understanding will debate theological points and enforce rules based on knowledge and theology. Christians who have wisdom will encourage and inspire people and speak God's guidance to particular situations in a way that drives positive spiritual change. For those who have wisdom, knowledge and understanding are merely tools and not ends in themselves. Many Christians take James 1:5 as meaning that wisdom is something like a light switch where you either have it or you don't and that it suddenly arrives all at once in answer to prayer. I think there is situational wisdom in which God gives guidance for a particular situation. However, I also think there is a general fruit of wisdom wherein wisdom starts to characterize our very thoughts and attitudes toward people and situations. As far as I can tell, that is something which we need to desire and seek after which God causes to grow in our lives over time. Often wisdom seems to come from asking Why? and not being satisfied with the first answer but learning how to find answers. Asking Why? without knowing how to find answers often leads to a cynical skepticism masquerading as something virtuous. Learning how to ask good questions and learning how to find good answers is a first step toward gaining wisdom. So is figuring out who are wise people to learn from. There is no shortage of people who can dispense knowledge and understanding, but those who dispense wisdom are rarer. There is no shortage of people who give the impression of being wise through fancy talk and sheer confidence and will spout advice at every situation, but there are fewer who can consistently give wise counsel that bears spiritual fruit in the long run. EDIT: I too should add that everything I've written here presupposes that one is walking with God on a consistent basis and growing spiritually. It is the atoning work of Jesus Christ that makes us a new creation and transforms us. To some degree wisdom is a natural result of walking with God. But to some degree, some Christians just seem to be satisfied with knowledge and understanding and never press on to wisdom.
  13. In another thread, you mention that you are 13. Girls can wait. Do yourself a favor and develop some skills and hobbies and work on bettering yourself. Find things that are fun and enjoy doing them and that you might get something out of. For example, learn a musical instrument and start a band, learn to work on old cars, start a lawn care business, learn a foreign language, learn carpentry. Don't get addicted to time-wasters (e.g. video games or TV) to the point where you are spending hours per day doing those things. There's plenty of girls out there. Become an attractive man (meaning being in shape, having many skills, confident, having a good personality, and good job prospects) and work on your relationship with Jesus Christ to grow spiritually. Then when you starting hitting your early to mid 20s, you will have become good marriage material and God will bring the right woman into your life. I didn't have a serious relationship until I was in college and it was with the woman I've now been married to for over 30 years. To some degree I felt left out in HS not having a girlfriend, but in hindsight, I'm glad I didn't.
  14. The main point is this. He has had no interest in Christianity in 6 years and sees himself as Muslim. At "best", putting an ultimatum to him will likely result in a superficial conversion to make you happy in order to get married. This would likely make him some combination of apostate or pariah among muslims including his family which they would be angry at you for or you'd find he didn't really mean it. The reality is that people change in marriage. Those deep burning feelings of passion slowly disappear over time and need to be replaced by common purpose, comfort, compatibility, and a sense of security and familiarity with each other. It frankly sounds to me like you are still in the passion/infatuation stage. What happens if he has a superficial conversion to please you now and ten years from now he blames you for loss of family relations? I've heard many testimonies over the years and have heard many more "forced" romantic conversions that were not sincere and did not last than I have such conversions being long lasting. I've heard a few, but they are rare. The majority of testimonies I've heard from Christian women later in life who were in your situation either regretted staying in such a relationship for years or decades or expressed temporary pain at breaking it off but were happy they did so. I can only recall a few where the husband did indeed become a practicing Christian. If you decide to break this off, make the decision to move out and set the plans to do so. Have family or friends ready to help you move out and into a place where you will have some support from friends or family. As to what to say, I think the most important thing is honesty and integrity. Your relationship with Christ is more important to you than a romantic relationship with anyone so you must end this relationship. Don't turn it into an ultimatum to convert. Just present it as a fact and leave. In the long run, if he becomes a Christian, it cannot be for the motive of being with you. It must be because he comes to follow Christ on his own and determines that Jesus Christ is the focus of his life. He must be willing to face the inevitable pressure and repercussions from family and other Muslims because he loves Jesus Christ and not for a romantic relationship.
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