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GandalfTheWise last won the day on April 17 2018

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  1. I've mostly left off interacting on this site (as a positive move away for spending time on other things and not as a bad reaction to something) but check back on occasion. I just happened to see this post. I'm not sure I have much to add to what's already been said. Over my adult life, my wife and I have been in about 10 different churches with about half of the transitions being caused by moving to a new location and half from just being called to be somewhere different. We've averaged probably about 3 to 5 years in each. The reality is that community tends to occur in groups small enough so people can spend some meaningful time interacting. In a smaller church, this can occur with the main services and associated things such as Sunday school or studies. To some degree, you can just show up on Sunday morning and community will just happen. It tends to happen more easily simply because most people are acquainted with most other people. Just showing up allows you to invest in community building. However, in a larger church, community mainly occurs in focused ministries and small groups. This usually means meeting people and doing things outside of the main services at different times of the week. It has to be done more intentionally. After a lifetime of being in smaller churches (where most people knew most people), we've now been in two large churches in a row. At first, I didn't like the idea of a large church, but have found that there is much more opportunity for community outside the main services. We found that getting involved in small groups and focused ministries is where we've met the most people and gotten to know them. We've then found that the larger services feel more personal given that we usually know a number of people from the smaller groups. We just moved to a new town a bit over a year ago and have been taking my wife's mom to her large church (where she's been for probably 20 years or more) and by default that's become our church. I really don't feel like I fit in that much, but found a men's small group there that is okay. I probably don't know more than a few dozen people at this point, but the number is slowly increasing. My most regular attendance is now in the small groups rather than the main services. The reality is that we don't know most people in the large churches (though many faces become familiar). A large church will never have that same feel where you can look around and know most people. There will be times of being surrounded by a crowd you don't know. However, if it is a healthy church, there will be ample opportunities for community in the various ministries and groups. In a smaller church (especially one you've been in for many years), you can just show up and interact. Many people find community in both large and small churches. It does take getting used to to switch from one to the other.
  2. I think God's calling me to move on from here and put my time and energy into other things. I'll probably take a few more days or so to perhaps interact and do a few "see you laters". I'll probably stop in now and then and try to keep a sense of what's up. Perhaps at sometime in the future God will bring me back here for a lengthy time again. But for now, I know my writing time is meant to be doing other things. Tigger56's post on veils seemed like a good place to make a final thoughtful big post. https://www.worthychristianforums.com/topic/241638-veil-upon-the-heart/?do=findComment&comment=3053197 I'll also leave three last video songs. https://www.worthychristianforums.com/topic/241671-the-blessing/ https://www.worthychristianforums.com/topic/241672-when-its-all-been-said-and-done/ https://www.worthychristianforums.com/topic/241673-omega/ [EDIT: Got busy adding videos and forgot to finish] This place has been a blessing and many of you have blessed me through your prayers and encouragement and debate. For clarity, I'm not leaving due to any negative reasons, but simply because in the past few days God has been convicting me I need to make a transition. I'd been feeling it for a time, but today just seemed like it was time. Many an hour of meditation and thought I've spent here have been a good time of growth for me. May God's richest blessings be on you all.
  3. Sometimes our greatest shame is not over our shortcomings, sins, and failures. Sometimes our greatest shame is revealing to others who we truly believe God created us to be. Sometimes the greatest attack of the enemy is not aimed at our weakest spots, but those points meant to be our greatest strengths so that we will be too ashamed of who we are meant to be. We'll often freely tell others and ask for prayer for our failings and sins and problems. But we are often terrified of telling others those dreams and hopes God has placed within in us. We'll share plans and goals, but we're scared and ashamed to describe who we are. We often more ashamed of becoming who God created us to be more than we are ashamed of sin. We've come to embrace the masks we put on for family, church, friends, colleagues, and wherever we go until we often can no longer see our own face in the mirror. Perhaps the enemy's greatest attack is having distracted us to the point where we've lost sight of who God created us to be. But there are those times that unique work of art, that treasure of the Almighty Creator, that person meant to reflect His glory in a way no one else can flickers and shines out at times. In those unguarded moments when a particular song, picture, scene in a movie, passage in a book, a part of a hymn, a couple lines in a sermon, or something else sneaks past the moat and walls and barriers and we feel something we cannot explain. The Holy Spirit takes something we don't expect and pushes it past our defenses and touches that unique creation within us of who we are meant to be. That sudden sense of tears, wonder, joy, courage, resolve, purpose, and sheer power that starts to emerge is often the Holy Spirit gently blowing on the embers and coals we've kept hidden to fan them into a flame. We often fear that as sin, pride, or emotionalism and try to keep it bottled up and be a good well-behaved Christian. We go back to the normal day to day routine of who we are supposed to be as good Christians, friends, church members, children, parents, workers, and so forth. We go back to the list of do's and don'ts that define our lives. But the Holy Spirit keeps gently prodding and reminding us of who we are created to be and encouraging us to come out of our shell. Who did God create you to be? Not what roles, or talents, or gifts, or what God's giant to-do list of goals and plans for your life is. But who are you? Not the biographical information of age, education, marital status, and other things write a history, but who are you? As God gave Abram, Sarai, Jacob, Peter, James, and John new names reflecting who He saw them to be, what is our new name? Who did God create us to be? We spend our time and concerns trying to figure out what God wants us to do, but we rarely spend time asking *who* He created us to be. Those times the Holy Spirit touches our hearts in those unguarded moments we do not expect in ways we do not expect are often God's way of trying to show us who we really are. Through out our lives, those times we suddenly feel like life and power and spiritual strength are just naturally flowing out from us are often when the Holy Spirit is simply starting to flow through us as the person God created us to be. Those times we simply feel free and empowered where fruit such as love and joy and peace are in abundance and we simply find ourselves ministering and living as if life and love and peace and power are naturally flowing through us are when we are starting to live as the person God created us to be. But then we go back to the grind where we labor and work at everything to be the good person we think we are supposed to be. If I had one wish for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, and those yet to become brothers and sisters in Christ, it would be to be surrounded by believers who would rejoice and encourage them to no longer be ashamed of who God created them to be. About a decade ago, one of the hardest things I ever did was switch my username on a Christian site from διδασκαλος (greek for teacher) to GandalfTheWise. It took me close to three weeks to work myself up to it. Why? because it was a huge symbolic step of leaving over 30 years of the comfortable world of Christian do's and don'ts and to-do lists for an adventure that I had no idea of what it would entail. It was comfortable to tell people my ministry gifts, what I was involved with, and confess my shortcomings. But it was terrifying to tell anyone who I thought God had created me to be. To say I was meant to be a wise counselor for leaders, to fight battles no one else could or would, to be a protector of those who walk alone, and to walk a very non-traditional path subject to suspicion and hostility was not easy. I changed my sig line to something like Seeker of Lost and Undreamt Dreams and Fighter of Hopeless Battles. On that site, I was immediately flooded with encouraging comments and some spiritually insightful comments rather than many buckets of cold water. In the years since, I've simply found my life and ministry have completely changed. I used to labor and toil. Now, His yoke is truly easy and most things just naturally flow in my life. I wish for all my brothers and sisters than they could find a few people around them that would spring up with encouragement and insight as they discover who God meant them to be. If there is one more thing I could wish for in the body of Christ, it is to see past the masks and see that work of art, that unique treasure, the special person who reflects God's glory in a way He meant to be unique to them. Now that I know what I am looking for, I catch glimpses of the gold and precious gems that are the person God created. It's often hidden by sins, failings, duties, expectations, activities, and masks. But it's there and it peeks out at times. Last week, I was talking with our new pastor and he just let it slip that he is often moved to tears attending cross country meets. He said it was something about people training, working, and completely spending themselves to do the best they can as they crossed their finish line that moved him to tears. In that instant, I saw a pastor's heart so clearly that no resume' or credentials or list of spiritual gifts could convey. It is those things I try to look for and find in people because that is who they are meant to be as a new creation in Christ. It is those things I try to encourage because the sheer beauty of seeing Christians emerge from their shells and become the work of art and unique person God created them to be is beyond compare.
  4. A week or so ago there was a DOS (denial of service) type of attack that took the site down to a crawl where it might take 30 to 60 seconds to load a page. Everyone was affected. It's possible the remedy to resolve that may have affected various ranges of IP addresses or incoming connections.
  5. I chuckled a bit when I read this. A fair generalization of some people's reactions to paradigm shifts.
  6. Much of the complaining I read about individual ministries and congregations is about judging by appearances and preferences. The music's too loud or too boring or too whatever. The worship is either too frozen or too wild. The preaching and teaching is not to my taste; it's either irrelevant to my life or doesn't dig deep enough. There are either too many new believers who are not maturing fast enough or seekers making them look bad or there are not enough new believers showing they don't preach the gospel enough. They are either too involved with social causes or too aloof or unconcerned to help those in physical need. They either have too much sin (showing they aren't preaching the real gospel) or they're too legalistic with too many rules. The congregation doesn't have enough kids because they've failed to reach the next generation, or they have too many kids being a distraction, or they've segregated the kids away from the adults too much to not be a distraction. They don't hold the correct doctrinal beliefs on non-essentials. They are too large which means that they are compromising the gospel for numbers or they are too small which means they are too legalistic and spiritually dead to grow. Threads like this seem to bring out a number of pet peeves and one size fits all solutions. If only congregations or ministries would do X, Y or Z, then they'd really be preaching the gospel and living the Christian life and would start growing (or start shrinking to a God-pleasing holy remnant). Many Christians inadvertently idolize particular aspects of Christian practice such as how worship is done, how the Bible is taught, how the gospel should be shared, what particular ministries should be active in a congregation, what standards for behavior or dress a ministry or congregations should have, or what doctrinal beliefs are essential and which are not. Over my life, there've been about two dozen different congregations and ministries (covering about 15 to 20 denominations) I've been involved with for periods of months or longer that I've gotten to see up close. I've seen thriving ministries, struggling ministries, and dying ministries for myself firsthand. At this point in my life, here are the three things I tend to judge a ministry by. First, is there a core of solid mature praying believers that are the real heart of the ministry? Second, is there solid spiritual growth occurring in many of the people associated with and being reached out to by the ministry? Third, do they really tangibly love each other? In my opinion, everything else is secondary to these three things. These three things always seem to be present when God's Spirit is present and active in a ministry.
  7. I'd be curious to see the references for this. The apparatus in the Nestle-Aland (NA) version is usually pretty good about indicating when there is conflicting older evidence for various readings. It is interesting in the NA apparatus that both Luke 11:2 and 11:4 have extensive variations across manuscripts associated with them whereas Luke 11:3 has minimal variation. This suggests that the textual tradition of 11:3 was much more stable than the verses on either side of it. I typically use the NA apparatus (mainly because it's what I have access to) but am aware that the big critical apparatus publications (usually quite expensive and only owned by libraries) might have more. As far as I can tell, manuscript P75 (commonly dated at late 2nd or early 3rd century) is one of the earliest existing manuscripts with that part of Luke. It's a bit hard to read, but in this link http://www.csntm.org/manuscript/View/GA_P75?filter=1, the entire phrase τον αρτον ημων τον επιουσιον appears. It starts at the end of the 8th line and continues into the 9th line. The word ημων is split across the lines and 1 letter is missing/obscured in the lacuna (missing section) at the left end of line 9. As an aside, wow!!!!! it is so cool to be able to go online and see an image of something that was likely physically written around 1800 years ago and see the actual words and handwriting rather than a transcription. The scribe who wrote it (or more likely his parents or grandparents) potentially could have met an old person who as a child heard one of the original apostles speak. Fifty years ago, this manuscript was sitting in a private collection where only a few scholars could see it and now it's digitized and online for all of us to see.
  8. The Greek readings of both Matt 6:11 and Luke 11:3 are both well attested in antiquity. The various modern edited Greek texts including TR, WH, NA, UBS, and others are all essentially identical for each verse. τον αρτον ημων τον επιουσιον δος ημιν σημερον (Matt 6:11 TR1550) τον αρτον ημων τον επιουσιον διδου ημιν το καθ ημεραν (Luke 11:3 TR1550) Note that αρτος (bread) directly appears in each of them. The phrase "give us daily" or "give us each day" is slightly different the end of each phrase. The phrase τον επιουσιον is an adjective associated with τον αρτον ημων (our bread). The entire phrase τον αρτον ημων τον επιουσιον clearly means "our epiousion bread" where we unfortunately do not have a clear definition of what this means. Overall, translators are in agreement both verses basically mean "give us our epiousion bread each day" however there is no known definitive meaning for επιουσιος. The word επιουσιος seems to be unique to the NT and does not appear anywhere else in ancient Greek writings except quotations and paraphrases in early Christian writings. As far as I can tell, the best guess is that someone in the early church coined a Greek work to translate an Aramaic word. Without the use of the word in other contexts in other writings, it is difficult to directly ascertain what it meant. This means that scholars and translators must take their best guess as to the intended meaning. There seem to be two different ways translators approach the phrase τον επιουσιον. The first goes back at least as far as the Latin Vulgate which basically treats it as a synonym for daily as do some of the church fathers. This seems to have influenced translations for centuries as well as the memorized form of the Lord's Prayer. The other is to use its most apparent literal meaning which is probably something like necessary or essential or sufficient. As far as I can tell, translational inertia and the common usage of "give us this day our daily bread" in the Lord's Prayer seems to drive the choice of most English translators. A more literal reading of "give us our necessary bread every day" seems to be becoming more common among translators. The translation notes in the NetBible summarize this (https://netbible.org/bible/Matthew+6): Matt 6:11 in the NetBible is "Give us today our daily bread" Or “Give us bread today for the coming day,” or “Give us today the bread we need for today.” and the translation note is: the term ἐπιούσιος (epiousios) does not occur outside of early Christian literature (other occurrences are in Luke 11:3 and Didache 8:2), so its meaning is difficult to determine. Various suggestions include “daily,” “the coming day,” and “for existence.” See BDAG 376-77 s.v.; L&N 67:183, 206.
  9. These observations and questions strike at a few issues many Christians have wrestled with for a long time. If sin is defined exclusively as breaking rules, then it perhaps does seem extreme that eating a fruit caused all this and merited capital punishment. However, if sin is seen too as a contagion of a lethal virus with a 100% mortality rate and 100% infection rate upon contact, it is different. The virus infects all of us, mutates, gets worse and shows up in different forms, and affects some more than others. Death is a consequence of sin. One thing worse than the evil in our temporal world is the same evil unleashed in eternity with immortality. The primary issue is the coming into existence of a sin nature in humans which corrupts us, makes it impossible for us to be in complete control of ourselves, and causes us to be corrupted broken versions of the individuals God intends for us to be. Individual acts of sin flow out of the sin nature. We cannot fix this on our own but require the atoning work of Christ to become new creations in Christ. I'm going to stop with that and not get into the unending debate over freewill and divine sovereignty about the potential inevitability of original sin, etc. The question of what passages in scripture to take literally and which to take figuratively has led to much debate among Christians. There are many nuances but I'm going to risk an oversimplification of what I see as the main points. There are actually two questions involved with this. The first is whether or not the Bible is reliable and can be trusted on vital matters such as the person of Jesus Christ, His atoning work, resurrection, and the work of the Holy Spirit. The second is which passages are to be taken literally and which figuratively or symbolically. Some Christians treat these questions as essentially one and the same and others treat them separately. This can turn into debates over if a "real" Christian has to believe the earth is 6000 years old or what the shape of the earth is. Some Christians make literalness on all issues an all or nothing proposition that one either believes all of the Bible or none of the Bible. Other Christians do not. My observation is that the majority of evangelicals take Adam and Eve to be actual individuals. This includes Christians who believe the earth is 6000 years old and those who think it could be much older. Most evangelicals look at the NT treating Adam and Eve as actual individuals and go with that.
  10. The term illeism is sometimes used to describe referring to oneself in the 3rd person. It's been long noted in scripture. In the OT, God often referred to Himself in the 3rd person. Jesus referred to himself as the "son of man". Paul's discourse in II Corinthians 12 about a man caught up into heaven is considered by a number of scholars to be self-referential. Outside of the Bible, it is a somewhat common rhetorical and literary method. Some writers choose 3rd person to avoid constantly interjecting I and me everywhere. It takes the reader's attention to what is being talked about rather than the author's direct involvement. I've read and heard various personal testimonies where someone wrote or talked about a topic in the 3rd person and then revealed it was about themselves at the end. One example is a speaker I heard who was talking about bullying in school. He started off talking about the out of place kid and the various things others did to that kid. Then at the end, he revealed he was talking about himself. He didn't want people focused on feeling sorry for him. He wanted them focused on the acts and tragedy of bullying which he described in the 3rd person and then by shifting to 1st person at the end, he added much more authority to his presentation. The author of John's Gospel likely didn't want to draw attention to himself but rather to what he'd seen Jesus do only bringing himself in at the end to point out everything prior was directly witnessed rather than hearsay. My understanding is that the scholarly debate over the authorship of the Johannine books (Gospel of John, 3 epistles of John, and Revelation) is usually focused on the testimony of early church fathers and other such historical evidence as well as internal information in the book rather than the overall choice of 1st or 3rd person for the majority of the book. If someone is looking for complete and absolute proof of authorship, it doesn't exist. However, as far as I can tell, the evidence seems consistent with John the son of Zebedee being either the direct author or the source of the material.
  11. A part of this debate seems to be that some people like art and some people do not like art. Some people look at a picture and only see what it is. Other people look at a picture and see what it can represent. Some people comfortably communicate via imagery and symbols whereas others prefer clearly stated words. Write a poem or hymn expressing your feelings toward God using symbolism of any sort and there will probably be someone who condemns it for not being theologically accurate enough. There will be some who are moved and inspired by the beauty of such expression and others who are appalled at the lack of precision and ambiguity. Some people enjoy reading fantasy books and see ideas and concepts which give them things to meditate on and learn from. Other people dislike reading fantasy books because they are not realistic and it seems pointless to read such things. From what I can tell, that is much of what I'm seeing on this thread. Some Christians look at Harry Potter and see something that is not literally real expressing such themes as friendship and courage so they have little problem with it. Some Christians look at Harry Potter and see a concrete promotion of the occult and have great concern over it.
  12. The vast majority of dreams are just our brain restoring chemical balance while we sleep. They can sometimes reflect our mental state. For example, for a time I was much too concerned with my job and under much stress. My dreams during this time almost always consisted of images from my day at work. After I stopped worrying about work so much, my dreams went back to typical randomness. One thing to note about spiritual or prophetic dreams is that they were rare occurrences in an individual's life. Joseph (OT) had 2 such dreams, not hundreds. Abimelech had one. Joseph (NT) only had a few and at times when he needed to make an important decision and those were quite explicit and impossible to miss. Most of our dreams are relatively random and perhaps reflect something going on in our lives. Dreams of direction from God are relatively rare and those receiving them know there is something very different about those dreams. I don't think there is much to understand in dreams except that recurring patterns or dreams might give some insight into things that deeply worry us. The rare dreams from God will also in some manner include God's guidance for understanding them. Both Joseph (OT) and Daniel when interpreting dreams for rulers said that the interpretations come from God.
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