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GandalfTheWise

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About GandalfTheWise

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  1. A friend of ours (Christian family in another part of the state) contacted us today. Her husband collapsed a few days ago, ended up in the hospital, and the prognosis is a permanent impairment of mental faculties requiring 24 hour care for the rest of his life. He'd had various lapses and symptoms for some time (now diagnosed as some type of degenerative disorder), but they'd been mostly chalking that up to lack of sleep and stress from working a few jobs as it would come and go. They've got some kids (teens), a lot of debt, and no income now. Fortunately, they've got a good network in that area with many friends and acquaintances, but it's a rough situation.
  2. I've wondered if it was God's way of getting their attention that it was time to part ways and have separate ministries. Scripture fairly clearly lays out Paul's main calling as being preaching the gospel through the Roman empire and not mostly sticking around Antioch as an elder. In contrast, Barnabas seems to have had much more of a pastoral and leadership type of ministry, perhaps more suited as primarily being a pastor in Antioch. Most of Barnabas' actions recorded in Acts seemed based around building up and encouraging individuals (including Paul) and the church rather than in outreach. Paul spend quite a bit of time in Barnabas' sphere of influence and encouragement. Perhaps, this was now the time God was pushing Paul to move out of his comfort zone and strike out without the support of Barnabas.
  3. I've been learning much about better methods of learning over the past decade. Much of what we think we know about rote memorization is within the context of how to better pass tests in classes rather than for lifelong learning. Frankly, most Christians approach Bible memorization in a time-intensive inefficient manner of learning similar to how we learned to cram for tests. As an example, compare how many abbreviations for elements in the periodic table a typical person remembers versus how many lyrics to songs a typical person remembers. Most of us can sing the Happy Birthday Song without thinking, yet we never intentionally set out to learn it. Most Christians know the lyrics to many songs without having tried to memorize them. My recommendation for longterm learning would be this. Pick a handful of verses or passages you want to memorize and record yourself (or find a friend with a pleasant voice to listen to) reading them and print them out. For a first time around, having about 1 minute worth of verses might be a good starting point. Just relax and listen to the recording a few times at various times during the day, perhaps morning, lunch, and before bed. Maybe some combination of only listening, listening and following along, listening and reading out loud along, or just reading. You need to determine what combination of those things works best for you. After some length of time, perhaps a week or so, chances are that this will become fairly familiar to the point where you just know them. You can determine when and how many times you listen per day, but you *cannot* determine how fast your brain internalizes it. It might take one week, or it might take two or more. Don't feel guilty or push yourself. This is a matter of learning *how you best learn*. When the verses in the first recording become mostly familiar, then it's time to make a second recording. This is about relaxing and enjoying the repetition and letting your brain slowly absorb it. Don't set goals about how many verses to memorize per week. You need to learn what rate your brain internalizes the verses for the effort you are putting in and just work with that. Don't get frustrated and start trying to cram to meet self-imposed goals. When you are working on the second (and eventually 3rd, 4th, etc), you'll want to review the first recording, perhaps maybe just once per day or a few times per week. You will need to learn what works best for you. Over time, you might find that 2 minute or 3 minute recordings work best for you. You need to determine what verses have meaning for you and what you want to do with them. Is your primary interest in having verses to meditate on and encourage yourself? Is your primary interest doctrinal? Is your primary interest evangelical? You need to have verses that you want to learn for some reason. Perhaps recording complete passages (e.g. a short Psalm, the beatitudes, the love chapter I Col 13, or something like that is a better fit for you). Perhaps picking a handful of meaningful verses that you have read is a good fit. At first, it would be best if you have a strong emotional and spiritual interest in the verses you are listening to and learning. 1. I think the one very important thing is determining how much time per day you can put in on an ongoing basis. Be realistic. I'd guess for many people that perhaps 5 to 10 minutes a few regular times per day could become a habit. 2. You can determine how much time and effort you put in, but you cannot determine what the results will be. You need to learn what type of results you can expect. It might be a 1 minute recording per week or a 1 minute recording per month. 3. You need to make sure this is always relaxing and enjoyable. Stress and frustration changes our body chemistry and reduces our ability (and motivation) to learn. If anything becomes frustrating, figure out what that is and address it. Don't just force yourself to keep going when you are frustrated and stressed; fix the issue. 4. Experiment and adjust what you are doing to figure out what works best. There are many different ways to use a recording and print out of your verses. You can listen only, listen and follow along, listen and speak along, read out loud, read silently. Some combination of those things at various times will give you different levels of results. Also, doing different activities strengthens the connections in your brain to what you are learning. 5. The operative word is familiarity. It is possible to rote memorize something perfectly this week through sheer time and effort, and then it's gone next week. That's the way most of learned how to memorize things. This approach is different. Each time you go through the recording, your brain will become slightly more familiar with it. This is a gradual process that occurs over time. There is no "Now I know it!!!" moment. There is just an ever increasing familiarity that occurs each time you go through it. By exposure through various means over time (listening, reading, speaking, following along, reciting to yourself alone, etc.), the verses on each recording will gradually become something that you can actually use.
  4. Leave it to us Christians in western culture to essentially equate Biblical "learning" with learning information and holding the correct intellectual opinions. Our common background in a formal education system has indoctrinated us to think of such verbs as learn, teach, and study in terms of taking courses and passing exams. We've come to equate learning doctrine, etc. with taking classes (from the right teacher of course) or self-study, knowing the facts and information, and holding the right opinions. Whether we can actually do anything practical or not with this information and correct opinion is ultimately less important than actually holding the correct opinions. A good teacher is thus one who can encourage and inspire their students to master a curriculum (the correct!!! one) with its materials and get good grades. How different do many verses in scripture look if we were to think of "learning" in a more vocational manner such as learning plumbing, carpentry, welding, driving, playing a musical instrument, being an artist, or in terms of things we learn how to do. It's pretty obvious who's a pretender and who's a master when they sit down to practice their craft. A good teacher is one who sets an example and shows their followers how to do things in a way that they can become good examples themselves. The fruit is obvious. If I show someone how to whittle wood, I can come back in a year and simply by looking at what whittled objects they have sitting around be able to determine what they've done with what I've shown them. Both the quality and quantity of what they produce makes it obvious whether what I showed them became a part of their life or not. In a curriculum driven system, teaching and learning becomes about mastering and propagating the system. We spend our time arguing about which curriculum is correct, the best way to teach it, and figuring out tests to determine how well we and others have mastered our favorite curriculum. In a vocational driven system, teaching and learning becomes about individuals mastering and propagating skills and actions. We spend our time working on improving our skills and encouraging others to improve their skills.
  5. In case anyone is interested in learning a bit of Hebrew, here are a few links to material I've been using as part of my Hebrew studies. https://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt00.htm This contains links to audio of the Hebrew OT. Note that the beginning of the Genesis 1 MP3 contains a few words (which as closely as I can follow) are basically saying this is the first book of the torah. The first part of Genesis 1:1 sounds roughly like: Bar eh sheet baa rah elohim et ha shah mime ve et ha erat. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008734255 This is a link to an interlinear version of Genesis and Exodus. Click on the "full view" link to see it. There are several pages of introduction and descriptions before the text of Genesis. I have this interlinear (as an old book) and have downloaded the MP3s to my computer so I can play and replay them through my computer. At first, I just repeatedly listened to the first 30 to 60 seconds and tried to follow along. I used Audacity (audio editing software) to listen to make it easy to select particular words or phrases to play over and over. At first, it was gibberish to me, then certain words (e.g. elohim) started to jump out at me each time I heard them. After awhile, I found more and more words started to make sense as I heard them and saw them. The interlinear is basically like training wheels on a bicycle. I have a regular Hebrew OT (no English anywhere) that I can now enjoyably read Gen 1 with decent comprehension as well as understand much of it while listening without looking at the text. I'm now slowing working into chapter 2. In the upcoming months, I'll do some work on details of grammar to get a better sense of some things. But for now, I'm just working at internalizing the sights and sounds of Hebrew so that it starts to become familiar to me.
  6. Sorry I can't help. Quality ones are a challenge to find. I've got a leather bound one with good quality printing that my wife found for me about 30 years ago at a small Christian bookstore. It was my main Bible for many years. It's still my favorite English version for the OT.
  7. It was a century or so ago so we can look at the results of it. It was a part of the budding pentecostal movement which has now had a world wide impact. A number of years ago when talking with some LDS missionaries, I did some research on the growth rate of a few uniquely American started groups, LDS, JW, SDA, and pentecostals. My premise was that a man-made group would only show growth along lines of natural birth rates whereas a move of God would show a growth rate much larger due to people being saved. What I found was that the growth of the LDS and JWs was at an annual rate that approximated natural birth and growth. In other words, most LDS and JWs are born into it. In contrast, the pentecostal movement in a shorter time showed a growth rate that came primarily from evangelism and converts. LDS started close to two centuries ago with about 15 million today. There are between 8 and 9 million active JWs today. Interestingly, there about about 20 million SDAs (spread around the world) and showing a growth rate somewhat faster than LDS and JW. In contrast, the AoG have about 70 million members worldwide and they are just one of many pentecostal groups. Doing a quick search, it looks like there are estimated to be another 20 to 30 million members of similar pentecostal groups. There are then perhaps 250 million pentecostals and charismatics in independent types of churches and groups. In addition, about another 250 million or so charismatics still in mainline denominations. Overall, pentecostals and charismatics are estimated to be about 1/4 of the total of Christians in the world. Here's a link to an interesting article from the Pew Research Foundation about pentecostals and charismatics around the world http://www.pewforum.org/2006/10/05/spirit-and-power/ It's interesting to note the rapid growth of numbers of pentecostal and charismatic Christians in Latin America and Africa. In 1970 pentecostals and charismatics were between 4% and 5% of the total population of Latin America whereas in 2005 they were about 28% of the total population. As of 2005 or so, about 3/4 of protestants in Latin America were pentecostal. Bottom line is in about 200 years, 15 million LDS (mostly in the US) in a monolithic group; in about 150 years, 9 million active JWs (with another 11 million that attend a service) in a monolithic group; in about 150 years 20 million SDA; and in a bit over a century, between 500 and 600 million pentecostals and charismatics across a range of denominations, churches, and ministries and regions of the world. LDS point to Joseph Smith and hold to his writings. JWs point to CT Russel and point to his writings. Many SDAs point to Ellen White and her writings. Most pentecostals and charismatics have never heard of Azusa street and those who have probably couldn't name a single person who was there. It is a movement that rapidly spread beyond particular individuals. In many places in the world, pentecostals are the fastest growing Christian group. One can either choose to decide that this is a move of God, or a huge deceit of the devil that has become what would probably be the fastest growing false religion in history. Personally, I've known many Christians who came to Christ through pentecostal and charismatic churches and ministries and spent their entire Christian life there. I've observed many of them for decades and have no reason to doubt that they are indeed Christians. With regard to whether we are going to have another such movement, in one sense this movement has not really stopped since it started.
  8. My parents moved a few times when I was young before I could remember much. We moved once between states about halfway through first grade. I cannot recall much about it so it must not have been too traumatic. I was then in the same rural school district until I graduated HS. Overall, I was heavily involved in activities, however, I really didn't like the social dynamics in school from about 6th grade on. I'd have probably done better home schooling or unschooling with access to various activities but that really didn't exist much in that era. I didn't fit into any of the social groups but got along reasonably well with most people. I wasn't a loner but really didn't have any close friends I spent much time with. Went to a state university (where I met and married my wife who also graduated from there). Went to grad school at a state university in another state. Worked there for a few years after graduation. Moved back to a small town and worked at one company for about 20 years which was a roller coaster. The main reason I stayed so long was it was a 10 minute walk to work and I had flex time opportunities for family stuff. Worked at a non-profit for a year or so. Quit due to high stress. Decided to move to a new town for family reasons after 20 years in that town. Kids were grown and had moved out. I've been unemployed/semi-retired since then living off savings and a few consulting jobs. Now working on writing and creating material for a consulting business in the education and training arena.
  9. Speaking as a white Christian male married for 30+ years in his 50s (which is just about every category being despised in some circles), I truly appreciate it when my sisters in Christ speak up. It's encouraging and is more likely to be listened to in some circles. It was very discouraging to me this past week when I saw many Christian women celebrating the Gillette ad on toxic masculinity. I expected that from the more liberal side of things, but I didn't from so many Christian women. I'm normally fairly low key and think before reacting but that one was visually about most men and boys behaving like lecherous violent apathetic boors and the only good men were the very few exceptions who stood up to that vast majority of bad men and boys. My sense was that it was basically a hit piece on men (especially white men) masquerading as a public service ad about bullying and sexism. Instead of hearing "most men I know aren't like that" it was comments celebrating it like "I started crying when I saw it." Seriously, are most Christian men really that bad? Maybe it's the circles I've spent most of my life in, but little of that ad looked like most of the men I've known my life.
  10. Just lots of patches of ice on the ground. We moved north this year (and hoped to get more snow for our dog to roll around in). All we've gotten are a few inches of snow followed by rain that melts and freezes so it's mostly brown with ice and patchy snow now. I haven't bothered taking a picture of it. There've been a couple pretty days where the trees were frosted over in the morning. That being said, we had a long and gorgeous fall with colorful trees that lasted a long time. Our old house (about 3 hours south) has already had probably close to a foot and a half of snow this season.
  11. Sorry for the slow response. I had meant to respond earlier this week. One of the challenges is that Christians are describing how they subjectively feel when God does something in words that we cannot really reference objectively to one another. Some groups of Christians use different words to describe the same thing and others use the same word to describe different things. In addition, we are all different as you noted. Some Christians feel emotions deeply and can have high highs and low lows. Other Christians tend to be fairly steady most of the time. We can get caught up and deceived by emotions. But by the same token we can get caught up in trying to convince ourselves of intellectual opinions we hold. One thing that can be helpful is having a small group of Christian friends, a prayer group, or a small Bible study, so we can be around Christians to share about how our spiritual walks are going. Over the years, I've learned a lot about the Christian life from testimonies of Christians around me who I interact with. As you interact with other Christians, you can see their actual life, and you can understand more what they talk about and what they mean. I've had times in my life where online interactions were my primary source of interaction with Christians; I've had times in my life where real life interactions were my primary source of interaction. God has blessed both. I think the key is having a group of Christians you interact with regularly who can get to know you (and vice versa) to the point where you have a good sense of how they are really doing in their lives. It's as we share life with other Christians that we can better see how God works in various peoples' lives.
  12. Here's a few books and resources I've found helpful over the years on various life topics. Mark Gungors' Laugh your way to a better marriage DVD set. I've not read any of his books, but my wife and I attended one of his seminars. When I got home my stomach and chest were literally aching because I had been laughing so hard. This is the only set of DVDs we have ever bought from a teacher of any type. There are some clips from his videos on YouTube. Shanti Feldhahn: The "For Women Only" and "For Men Only". She started doing research for writing a fiction book. She wanted to accurately include what men were really thinking. After talking to a few Christian men in her life (her husband and dad as I recall), she was rather shocked at how much she didn't know about how men thought and ended up doing research which led to the material for a non-fiction book. Lynn Clark's SOS Help for Emotions was the book the counselor I saw recommended that I read. While some Christians decry anything having to do with psychology, I found this book well rooted in common sense and practice rather than in wild guesses about human nature. The basic premise is that our negative emotions (falling into 1 of 3 broad categories of fear, depression, or anger) are *triggered* by certain things rather than *caused* by them. We would usually say "my mother drives me crazy", put the blame on her, and avoid her. In contrast, we should be saying "my mother does things that I react to badly; I cannot change my mother but I can figure out why I react this way to her and I should change how I react." John Eldredge's Waking the Dead was the book God used to start showing me that being a good Christian was not being a cookie cutter copy of what a good Christian is supposed to be. I started to realize we each are unique creations and works of art of God meant to reflect His glory in a way unique to each of us. I had spent decades as a Christian carrying burdens God never meant for me to carry. For me, this book was one of the first times I realized that the work of Christ in my life was not meant to make me more productive and successful spiritually but rather make me into the person God has created me to be to walk with Him more closely. I spent years soaking in many of the Christian classics. I've got several shelves full of such books. Tozer, Andew Murray, Watchman Nee, Richard Baxter, E.M. Bounds, David Brainerd, and a host of others. These have had a deep influence on who I am today. While I found these inspiring and helpful, I had also unintentionally started to burden myself with the secular western mindset of being productive. Instead of seeing a closer walk with God as the goal as I read, I started to see being a productive Christian as the goal. Over the years, I lost myself in my gifts, talents, passions, callings, and a zeal to see God do things in my life and others. I saw my purpose in life as being a Christian who accomplished great things for God. I started to see the purpose of my Christian life as wracking up as much treasure in heaven (in the form of changed lives) as I possibly could. I had come to see my Christian life as what God would do through me to reach and change the world rather than simply becoming the person He created me to be. I've found that working on becoming who He created me to be has made me much more productive than when that was my main focus. I've also found that life is simply much more enjoyable. Sadly, it took me decades to reach this point. I testify about what God has done in my life so that hopefully others can shave a few decades off this process.
  13. @naominash I think at some point pretty much every Christian goes through some dark valleys. The details vary, but I think more than one of us has wondered why is it worth hanging around on earth. Sometimes this can be brief and other times last for a long time. Things that bother one person don't bother another. Things that don't bother one person can devastate another. Sometimes there are situations that are indeed toxic and unhealthy that require us to take action for our wellbeing. Sometimes there are situations that we make toxic by our own reaction. I used to pooh-pooh Christian counseling until I started to hear testimonies from an increasing number of Christians I knew about how God often used such things to help show them things about themselves and generate positive changes. After I physically collapsed at work due to stress, God put me in the path of a Christian counselor. I had one meeting with him (which was an initial consultation) where he recommended a book, which I got and read, and saw him once again a few weeks later. God used that book to clearly point out the big problem in my life was deep anger. I wasn't mad at people (or I would have immediately recognized it as a problem). I was mad at things I had no control over. I was angry at situations at work, the world around me, and various things. It was not so much a petty anger of being slighted but seeing unjust, unhealthy, and frustrating situations and systems that simply needed to change for the better. I was emotionally carrying around burdens God never intended for me to carry. My biggest problem was that I had confused carrying unnecessary burdens with being passionate, caring, helpful, and being a force for good in the world. It took several months and a lifestyle change from decades-long patterns of thinking to reach a point where I really felt and reacted differently to things. When I became most aware of it was several months later when I realized I had slept through the night two nights in a row. It had become normal for me to sleep for a few hours at a shot, wake up and read until exhausted and then fall asleep again. My mind had constantly been racing about all those things I needed to do. It took awhile for that to change. One of the best teachings and sermons I've heard on this general topic comes from Ed Smith (who started the transformation prayer ministry at transformationprayer.org). There's a video on their site of a sermon where he talks much about what causes much of our emotional burdens as Christians. He sets up one situation, which many of us know well. Someone asks us to do something (usually important) that we don't want to. We emotionally feel like we are stuck with two options: say yes and then get mad at them as we do it or say no and feel guilty. He asks why do we feel like we only have two options, get mad or feel bad? His answer is that our reactions are based on what we really believe about something. Our negative reactions to situations are often rooted in lies we believe. There a quote on their site that I like. "Emotional pain is not something to manage or overcome, but is a God-designed warning system that something is wrong. To pay attention to this warning is to benefit and grow in truth, to dismiss it is to remain in a perpetual cycle of lie-based thinking." The biggest insight I picked up from this sermon is to be aware of when I have a strong negative reaction to something and to ask myself Why am I reacting that way? and then deal with the real root cause. The sermon video is the 50 minute one on this page: https://www.transformationprayer.org/preparing-journey-introduction/ In a nutshell, he talks about the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. (He uses the terms intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge.) Head knowledge is when we lose a job and repeat a verse such as (Phil 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus) over and over to try to convince ourselves not to be anxious or scared while we are laying awake in bed worrying about it. Heart knowledge is when we sleep well the night we lose a job because we are convinced that it is because God's going to do something very cool in our lives. Why do we lay awake worrying? Because deep down we believe some type of lie such that God is either unable to care for us or unwilling to care for us or is punishing us. The main point he addresses is that frequently our emotions and reactions to things reflect our true beliefs about something. Often, we need God to do something in our heart to show His truth to overcome those lies.
  14. We all have cases of foot in mouth disease at times. It's our response to it that is important.
  15. As a steward of my time, it's the reason I'm not going to get bogged down in a series of back and forth one or two line posts without a clear understanding of what the real intent is. The striking resemblance of posts on this thread to some in threads on other sites make me wonder how many of the views expressed on those sites will eventually be expressed here. Before I go further, here are the concerns I have. 1. Am I in Christ? What does it take to prove to another that I am in Christ? 2. Can I reference, quote, and discuss scripture in this thread? or am I outside of Christ and not permitted to do so? 3. What modern day teachers other than Gene Scott (and perhaps a few of those who learned from him) are true teachers from God who should be listened to? 4. Is it possible for a person to be in Christ and disagree about the need to correct virtually every English Bible translation to eliminate the words believe, believing, and believer (in favor of faithe, faithing, and faither or phrases from Vine's or Strong's)? The bottom line is this. I have concerns that this thread is going to become about proselytizing people to a convoluted complicated view of salvation that consists of dozens of steps and becomes so exclusionary that most Christians (in the sense of those who are forgiven, are justified, are new creations in Christ, have the Holy Spirit in them, and truly are in the body of Christ) are viewed as not being in Christ. People who adopt this view are probably going to start isolating themselves from other Christians. The above issues seemed to be those which ultimately drove the direction of threads on the other sites. I will emphasize that I do not know for sure what direction this thread is heading nor the intent of the OP. It's simply that a number of other threads on other sides started in much this same way with a similar viewpoint and using some of the same jargon and phrasing. I have concerns that this thread might be motivated by the same viewpoint I saw in other threads on other sites which is essentially that one particular teacher (Gene Scott) was the best teacher since the apostle Paul and that only a few of those who learned at his feet (so to speak) are true teachers today. The posters on the other sites of this viewpoint shared things across many years and many posts and a handful of sites. They were born again and God touched their life. They found a church and a teacher (Gene Scott) who was the first they'd heard who actually taught about the need to be born again, and they grew and were blessed under his ministry for a few decades. At some point, they became convinced (and that the spiritual sense they felt inside was infallible) that Gene Scott was the only true teacher today (or perhaps one of a very small number of true teachers). After his death, they became convinced that God granted them special insight to continue that ministry and teaching and that most other teachers and churches were in error and needed to be corrected because they are not in Christ. I of course do not know if this was a single person or a few with similar views on things. Sadly, I believe that they are sincere, passionate, and caring Christians whose gifts, talents, experience, and passion have been distracted away from effectively reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ and building up the body of Christ. Instead of focusing on Christ, His death and resurrection, and the proclamation of the Gospel, it seems like they've become obsessed with one particular issue of Bible translation. Even more sadly, it seems to me that they fail to see that most Christians do agree with their main points about faith being more than holding an opinion about something and faith being trust and confidence in God Himself which leads to tangible action and decisions in both conversion and as an ongoing part of the Christian life. They're basically saying much the same things as other Christians but are convinced that their quirky way of saying it is the only correct way and that anyone disagreeing is not in Christ. As a result of this, they've distanced themselves from most other Christians. That's my opinion of what I saw in a plethora of posts across a time span of about 6 or 7 years on a handful of sites.
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