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About GandalfTheWise

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  1. Boldness

    Sometimes those things we struggle with are mainly symptoms of some deeper root problem we have. I think the important thing is to focus on what God's priorities are for you. For example, (long story in a few words), I used to have major anxiety going to the dentist to the point of almost passing out at times. Prayed about it and tried to do something about it for years. Then one day (of a dentist appointment), God made it clear to me that I did not trust people to help me. When God dealt with that and I realized that I really did trust most people in my life, that anxiety just vanished. As it turned out, that change had a big impact on other parts of my life as well. It turns out that this one thing had been affecting many parts of my life for decades, but I had not realized it. It was something I was in bondage to but did not realize it until God set me free from it. Now, I'm not saying that is for sure what's affecting you, but just that for some people things like this are sometimes symptoms of something God wants to work on to free us from more than just the few symptoms we are most concerned about. God has His priorities for the things He wants to work on and change in our lives. Sometimes it's not that obvious to us at first.
  2. fishing for men

    I think that it is about showing people one of two things. The first is that God has indeed changed our lives and we are different because of that. The second is that God is indeed real and is reaching out to them. Many testimonies I've heard over the years contain one or both of these elements. They saw someone whose life was truly different, or they saw something miraculous that opened their eyes that God is indeed there and loves them. People who've heard and rejected the gospel (often for years) have been affected by seeing real Christian lives and God doing real things. That neighbor or family member or coworker whose life was consistently different over months and years often has a big impact on people. Then, those times we pray for someone, or God does something out of the ordinary in someone's life will make them aware that He is indeed there. I've of course heard some testimonies where the starting point was preaching or evangelism, but the starting point in many is what they've seen with their own eyes.
  3. How effective are Gospel tracts?

    I'd point out a number of typos here. Capitalize Jesus. Holy Spirit in us, not Holy Spritin us. fear of the Lord, not fear othe lord and many others. Something is just striking me as off-kilter here. The graphic above does not appear anywhere on the gospeltracts.org site. I had to do a Bing search to find out more about Go! Evangelism and get to their main site. From what I could tell, they seem to be an evangelical group committed to spreading the gospel through tracts. I wish that they would put an online copy of their tracts to it was possible to see what is inside of them all. There is only one shown (unless they are all the same with different titles and covers). I don't know what the Sacrament of Confirmation has to do with gospeltracts.org (which seems to be an older web site for goevangelism.com). Overall, I'm not a big tract person myself, but I know people who are and I've met people who became Christians through a tract ministry.
  4. How effective are Gospel tracts?

    I have a friend who has now been a Christian for over 30 years. He was walking across campus, some group was handing out tracts, he took one just to be polite. Later that day, he got to a class early, was bored, read it, and got saved on the the spot.
  5. Your Best Advice To New Christians...

    Many good things mentioned here I fully agree with. I'll mention two more. One. Each of us needs to learn to walk with God as the unique person He created us to be. We need to each learn how prayer, Bible reading, being with other Christians, and other such things is best done at a particular time in our lives. One of the quickest ways to frustration and burnout is simply copying what another Christian does without learning how it works best for us. Two. Remember that the gospel has two key components. The first is the forgiveness of sins and the establishment of a relationship with God. The second is that God has made us a new creation that reflects the individual uniqueness He created us with. It is not about trying hard to change through willpower and discipline. In other words, it is not about doing something any unsaved person can do like new year's resolutions and 5 steps to accomplishing behavioral change. It is about being transformed from the inside out by the power of God. Good deeds and freedom from sin are something that are meant to flow naturally from us as we are changed. They are not things we force ourselves to do so as to behave properly. Those passages in scripture which describe the Christian life are describing what we will become as we spiritual grow and mature; they are not a checklist to achieve or fail at based solely on our own ability to use our willpower, discipline, strength, and resolve. There are some things we can trivially change in our lives by making better choices. However, there are some things that can only be changed through God's power and working in our lives.
  6. Frantic Weeks and Month(s)

    As an update, things were slow over Palm Sunday and Easter weeks since schools had spring vacation and many people were busy. We're having the 4th house showing of the week tomorrow and have an offer that we're going to counter-offer on Monday as well as a couple more that are "very interested". Now that we know what we're doing, our relationship with our realtor is going very smoothly. The family is doing well. Our middle daughter is doing well with the due date approaching. She's been happy with the midwives she's met and is planning on a home birth like her older sister just did. Your prayers have been appreciated.
  7. Who are You? Round 2

    We're all different. The way we like to communicate (be it factually, metaphorically, or artistically) varies. For some, the epic language and imagery of stories is a powerful way of communicating. For others, it is a more down to earth reflection of life that communicates most powerfully.
  8. Corruption of the Bible

    If I'm reading this and understanding this as intended, here is how I would re-word what was being asked in order to answer this. 1. Is the beginning (and eventual end and the path taken to get there) of this world unique? Or is it one of many? Or is it one in a long line of them? 2. Is God transcendent and outside of the world, or is He subject to time in some manner? Or in other words, is God the ultimate basis of being or is there some basis of existence that God is subject to? With regard to 2, I would say God is transcendent and not subject to time as is creation. God is the basis of all existence and not subject to the limitations that finite beings are. There is no need for God to develop or change as He is self-existent. A "God" that is subject to time and change would speak of some power or level of existence beyond "God". To my understanding, this is similar to the view of God held by LDS groups as well as many eastern religions that believe in "Gods" that are subject to the similar rules and limitations of existence as humans. I think that question 2 is really about whether God is self-existent or if He is subject to a higher level of existence that He is part of. To talk about what God was doing "before" the beginning of this world is to say that God is subject to time in the same way we are. I think it's somewhat better to ask something "what is God doing outside of the space/time world we live in?" and the answer I would give is something like "the same as He always does." To say that His creation sees Him differently through our time-based eyes as we travel through time is a very different thing than saying God Himself is changing. The bottom line is that our very language is rooted in communicating about our time-based world. Our language falls short at describing eternity and transcendence. With regard to 1, it is possible to speculate about what may have happened before or after this earth or in different space/time creations separate from ours. However, the time and development of the world we are in seems to be a "linear" one having a beginning, in-process time, and end. Unless one has a view (such as LDS or some eastern religions) of our souls passing across various realms and worlds in some manner, the point is largely a moot one. The Bible speaks of God's revelation to us in this world about this world and the new earth that will replace it. I am extremely hesitant to seriously consider anyone who claims to have a revelation from God about other worlds and universes outside this one. Scripturally speaking, God's revelation has been primarily about revealing Himself to His creation, not about answering every question we have about everything in this world or others. The main thing that is of importance is that the Almighty Creator wants to have a relationship with His creation. There's nothing being said in these posts that hasn't been said and asked before in some form or another. I understand asking questions and wondering "what if" and "why" scenarios and speculation. I've pondered similar questions at various times. Some Christians are more open to asking questions than others and are simply more curious. However, at some point, the bottom line is that we are living in the world we are living in. Ultimately, our existence is about becoming who God created us and intends us to be in this world and the new earth eternally. I'm a physicist so I've spent a career postulating hypothetical situations and analyzing them. At times it's a fun diversion to consider such things and can give one practice at analysis of things, but at some point, I need to return to analyzing the real world.
  9. Who are You? Round 2

    All I can say is I'm amazed by all of you. The glimpses of both the experiences of walking with God and what He has placed within you sometimes seems beyond words. In spite of being a mathematician and physicist by training and engineer and analyst by vocation, I'm much more an expressive artist at heart. The picture in my mind as I've been going through this thread is something akin to an epic LOTR (Lord of the Rings) or Narnia type of setting where we're all in a world that's at war, and we each have our special role to play in seeing people freed from darkness. In this thread, I feel like I'm catching glimpses of epic heroes and heroines of all sorts. A few years ago when my father-in-law passed away, I saw a side of my wife I'd never seen before. She was at his side for the last few days watching over him, at once a tender mother bird taking care of a wounded chick, a source of strength for her family, taking care of 101 details at once, and doing this on too little sleep. I remember her once coming out of his room, clinging to me and crying, then she took a deep breath, wiped her eyes and nose, I saw resolve come back into her eyes, and she went back in. Frankly, I felt like I was in the presence of some epic heroine out of an epic mythical story. It was like, wow... and I'm married to her. That side of her is not always out in the open, but it's there when it needs to be. @Hidden In Him I loved chemistry in HS and almost majored in it. I then had a couple classes I couldn't stand and went into physics instead. I laughed a bit at your encouragement answer, but if I hadn't done this before, it would have taken me awhile to come up with people. In hindsight, I did have some good people around me, but for whatever reason, I seemed unable to accept encouragement for much of my life. @Heart2Soul I think I see a theme here between Black Beauty, motorcycles, and horses. You seem like an interesting person. @GregoryB It seems like you've had a unique and challenging path through life. It sounds like your dad was a special man. (I never quite know whether to say "was" reflecting time on earth or "is" reflecting presence in heaven.) That a son describes his father as "Dad encouraged me with love, lessons, patience, tolerance, friendship, respect, kindness, honour and faith" I think speaks volumes about both of you. @IainL I walked to work for about 20 years. I got to know some of the people who lived along that route and often got to stop and chat with them. I've also wondered a bit about Luke as well. His writings provide us the most continuous history of Jesus and the early church. I liked your observations on LOTR and about Samwise. @Blue Lulu One of my daughters likes to Kill a Mockingbird as well. It's one of those books I've meant to read but just never seem to get around to it. It's cool you've got a friend like that. It's amazing what one person can do for another. @Sojourner414 I thought Wrath of Khan was one of the better ones. "Here it comes..." @Road Warrior A lot of stuff there. I'm going to limit myself so as not to sidetrack things. Interesting insights on Joseph. At first I thought you meant the OT Joseph. I've at times wondered what kind of man he must have been for God to entrust him the role of "step" father to His son. It's funny how some stories just jump out at us and grab us. God wires some of us differently to walk in places and ways other people do not. I'm somewhat the same myself, I always seem to end up in situations where things are falling apart, because I'm just wired in a way to work best during paradigm shifts and when the established order is inadequate for things. @shiloh357 I've heard of that movie but it never sounded interesting. I think I'll have to watch it sometime. I'm similar myself in terms of finding encouragement and learning from books. There's something about being able to learn from people who are so far separated in time and space yet are so like us in many ways. @pg4Him Skates!! That's another unique answer I hadn't heard before. From a few of your comments and other posts, I'm guessing you like literature and reading now? @enoob57 I get a kick out of some of your graphics. I was kind of the same way with the hard sciences and then the liberal arts. I started to have more appreciation for those later in life. I was always big Star Trek fan too. When I was a teen, I liked Spock. Something about being very smart and not feeling anything appealed to me at the time. @wingnut- I almost majored in music in college. Then a physics prof advised me that music could make a good hobby but the sciences could make a good career. As it turns out, that was what I needed to hear. I've enjoyed being a musician but I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed being a HS band teacher. A couple hours ago, my wife and I were at a center for adults with developmental disabilities with our therapy dog. She handles the dog and talks, I sit at the piano and just improvise some blues and hymns.
  10. How do you see / identify yourself?

    Over my life, I've been a member or had associations with the following denominations (in alphabetical order), Assemblies of God, Baptist-like (non-denoninational), Evangelical Free Church, Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, Great Lakes Baptist, Lutheran (Missouri Synod), Moravian, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and a couple of independent groups. (I did this in alphabetical order so as to intentionally not become stereotyped with the current denomination I am associated with.) The longer I've been a Christian, the less attached I've become to particular distinctive beliefs and practices of various denominations. I used to worry about dotting the Is and crossing the Ts and finding which denomination was the most correct. I also used to spend much time and effort debating the point. Right now, the two biggest things that determine how well I can fit into a particular congregation or ministry are these. 1. How serious are the people there about walking with God? and 2. Are they going to insist on knowing and making sure that I agree and wholeheartedly support their distinctive beliefs and practices? Last night, I was re-reading some stuff I wrote a number of years ago and ran across this paragraph that more or less describes the shift in outlook I've gone through over decades. One of the saddest things in the modern church is the idea that truth is more important than life. Many members of many churches spend more effort debating, defending, and serving "The Truth" than they do instilling life in themselves and others. Indoctrination has taken the place of education. The letter of the law has become more important than the spirit. Statements of faith have become litmus tests to separate outsiders from insiders. Being "Right" is more important than being "Alive".
  11. Evolution

    In my mind, the biggest question is not "how" the present world came to be, but rather "why". "How" talks about how the nuts and bolts went together. "Why" talks about if there is a greater purpose and meaning than existence and survival.
  12. Who are You? Round 2

    Transportation: I enjoy walking. I walked about 3/4 mile to work for about 20 years in all types of weather (other than lightning storms). At times, dressing up for walking through a blizzard or -30F to -40F wind chills seemed like a little adventure and diversion from sitting at a desk. I also think that auto-gyros would be cool to travel in. A sense of flying out in the open. Classes: I enjoyed most classes but my favorites were math and science. The ones I couldn't stand were the ones that were mostly rote memory or learning arbitrary rules. One subject I couldn't stand was English grammar because it seemed like the worst combination of rote memory and arbitrary rules. It's ironic that years later when I found that grammar is supposed to be a description (like science) of how languages work, I started enjoying it a lot. Yep, the big pattern here is that I am curious about everything, like to understand stuff, and apply it, and I despise busywork and regimented thinking. Bible Person: I'd have to say Barnabas. He was instrumental in encouraging and moving Paul into ministry roles. If Mark (mentioned in Acts is the same Mark as wrote the gospel), Barnabas had a role in encouraging two authors of the NT in ministry. He seemed to be one of those people whose influence seemed to extend far beyond his formal role. He was also known as a good man who seemed to have the respect of those around him. In one sense, Paul paid him a huge compliment when talking about the encroachment of legalism when he said "and even Barnabas got caught up in it..." as if he was the last person expected to fall into error. Fiction: I'd have to go with Tolkien's middle earth stories and CS Lewis' Narnia stories though I also enjoyed reading Louis L'Amour's stories. For me, there is just something about the epic good versus evil stories that draws me in. I also enjoyed the general sense of morality in the L'Amour books, there was a sense of a real man (who may be rough around the edges and sketchy) will ultimately hang in there and do the right thing no matter the cost. Encouraging Person: There are two people I'd say. My dad taught me a lot in life. I learned the value of hard work and honesty. He also (though busy as a farmer) gave me many opportunities to just step out and do new things. The second person is my major professor in grad school. He taught me much about success. He was also the person from whom I most deeply learned the lesson that thinking is a learned skill.
  13. Who are You? Round 2

    As of Friday afternoon (US Central Time), here are the word clouds for each set of responses.
  14. Who are You? Round 2

    Here is another set of questions. Please feel free to start responding and engaging. It was a blessing to see all the responses (and responses to responses) with the first set. In one sense, it was just some simple answers, but in another sense, it was a celebration of seeing God's children through eyes that are perhaps a bit more childlike than we usually are in our typical serious adult lives. Question Set #2 1. What is your favorite means of transportation? Why? (e.g. walking, driving, motorcycle, flying) 2. What was your favorite class and your least favorite class in school? Why? (Feel free to extend this to things outside of school such as guitar lessons or at church or work or something. Basically, what was fun to learn? and what drove you up the wall?) 3. Who do you find to be the most interesting person mentioned in the Bible (other than Jesus)? Why? 4. What is your favorite fictional book, story, or movie? Why? 5. Who is the person who gave you the most encouragement in life? What did they do for you?