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GandalfTheWise

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About GandalfTheWise

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  1. GandalfTheWise

    When was the last time you changed your mind?

    A long time ago I adopted the view that truth is about accurately understanding what is really going on. What is really happening around me is independent of what I think about it. It's much better for me if I adapt my thinking to a more accurate understanding of the spiritual and physical reality around me. For me, it's not so much about being "right" but improving my understanding of things. Of course, I am wrong on some things. The quicker I can find and correct those things the better.
  2. GandalfTheWise

    ARE YOU EASILY OFFENDED?

    I think we need to distinguish different general types of offense. The first is when we are directly and actually hurt, injured, or wronged by someone. Something is inflicted on us. In this case, very real physical, emotional, and spiritual pain is the result. In this case, anger and offense is a symptom of our reaction to the injury, wound, and pain. This is a part of evil and sin in the world that affects us all. Ultimately, forgiveness is needed here. (Noting too that actual restoration and reconciliation might not always be possible. Some people don't change and remain dangers to us and others.) We all at times hurt others ourselves. God's way is forgiveness and healing of the injury. Depending on the person and situation, this can be a quick decision and change, or it can be a process that takes a long time depending on the depth of the injury and how much healing is needed. My sense is that most Christians are aware of things like this and do work on it. The second is when in our arrogance and pride we become angry and frustrated at someone for who they are, what they do, what they think, what they say, etc. whether they actually did anything to us or not. This type of anger is rooted in pride, impatience, arrogance, ignorance, and blindness to the sin-nature inside of us. This type of offense is self-inflicted and self-caused because the reason for the offense is inside of us. We are often blind to it because we attribute it to good motives. God's way in this case is a change inside of us to see and treat others differently. Some Christians can go for a long time being angry, frustrated, and condescending toward particular people and groups because they think it is the right thing to do and don't see a need for change. Of course, sometimes the two can be mixed together.
  3. GandalfTheWise

    Protecting One's Heart, Our Speech

    FWIW, here's a link to a post I made awhile ago about our hearts. https://www.christianforums.com/blogs/our-hearts-are-important.54605/ It's on another forum site. A few related posts including that one are linked to from here. https://www.christianforums.com/blogs/blog/finding-your-heart.3401/
  4. GandalfTheWise

    Contemplative Prayer- What is it?

    My intent was to point out Christians have different views on things, not to convince someone which side was correct. In my opinion, there seemed to be three issues being brought out in this thread. 1. occult influences (which all Christian agree are to be avoided), 2. Whether or not the RCC is Christian to any degree, and 3. Does God give guidance in any way today other than reading scripture. I've been watching Christians argue over 2 of those 3 things for decades. A good friend was saved while in the RCC through a charismatic Catholic ministry about 40 years ago. He's been serving God ever since. He's no longer in the RCC. While I was in college, there was an active RCC campus ministry lead by a charismatic Catholic nun. I met a handful of people who were born again through her ministry including a few with life changing results. I have many disagreements with RCC theology, but I am not going to deny God did things in some people's lives there. Where I grew up, there was not much of an evangelical presence. The majority of Christians I knew growing up were saved while in mainline denominations. I was myself. Many later joined more evangelical churches, but some stayed to minister where they were at. With regard to spiritual listening, I am referring to any time a Christian gets direction of any type from God on a personal level. I've heard countless testimonies over the years of "God lead me to do this" or "God warned me away from that". The Christian who just felt a sense they should change their normal routine and testified to how that lead to protection of some sort or an opportunity for ministry. Many Christians testify about how God led them to join a particular church or to a new (and biblical and correct) doctrinal view. God confirmed it in their heart and they are now convinced it's what the Bible teaches. I've known many Christians who will testify about how God made certain scriptures jump out at them while reading to give guidance. I've heard Christians give testimonies over the years of different ways God gave direction, comfort, and correction in their lives. Over the years, I've watched Christians describe things like this with different words and argue about to what extent God does this or not and how much of it is really God and how much is self-deception. Ultimately, any leading, direction, or guidance from God will be consistent with scripture. It will lead to spiritual growth and health.
  5. GandalfTheWise

    Kindness

    Sadly, it took me many years to realize the tone and form of my words was every bit as important as the content. You never know when an ill-spoken truth can crush a hurting soul when that same truth when kindly and gently spoken can uplift that same soul.
  6. GandalfTheWise

    Contemplative Prayer- What is it?

    Some Christians are opposed to anything related to the Roman Catholic church. Hence, they reject any resource that has any RCC associations as not being Christian. Some Christians believe that the only way God speaks to Christians today is through the Bible. Hence, they believe any type of spiritual listening is opening oneself up to occult influences. Not all Christians agree with these two viewpoints.
  7. GandalfTheWise

    Things you wish they had taught you in church

    The biggest thing in my life was finally learning that God created us each as unique individuals meant to walk with Him in a way unique to each of us. I spent over 30 years as a Christian defining myself by gifts, talents, ministry roles, Christian obligations, and in general viewing my value in life as how much fruit I was bearing, how holy I was or was not living, and of what use I was to God and other Christians. I failed to see that God loves us each as the unique treasures and works of art that He has made to be to reflect His glory in some way unique to each of us and that He wants us to walk with Him as that unique person. We are a new creation in Christ meant to be a unique person walking in freedom and liberty from our old lives to be able to walk with God in our new lives. It's too long to discuss in detail, but I've observed that the majority of evangelical churches and most Christians unintentionally teach and practice a cookie cutter method of being a Christian that views our value and success as Christians as believing the right list of things, behaving the right way, and effectively being busy enough to produce results. We start with defining ourselves as some biblical definition of what a Christian is supposed to be, conforming ourselves to that as much as possible, and then trying to figure out what God wants us to do. Rather than seeing all of this is as the natural result of being a new creation in Christ, we see it as an obligation to be lived up to as best we can. It's become about being busy doing the right stuff the right way rather than becoming the unique person God created us to be in Christ. Most of us are taught to ask "God, what do you want me to do (or not do)?" rather than "God, who did you create me to be in Christ?"
  8. GandalfTheWise

    General Prayer

    As part of a bigger picture, we all need to learn how various spiritual disciplines (prayer, meditation, bible reading and study, being with other Christians, ministry, etc.) should look in our lives. God made us each to be unique individuals. What works well for one person may not work well for another. Some people need focused lists and a consistent routine; that is completely stifling to others. Some people do best with a consistent prayer time each day; others do best fitting in various times throughout the day. Depending on how we grow spiritually and how situations in our life change; our patterns may need to change as well. At different times, we might have different emphases on different things spending more time on one discipline than others for a time. If our spiritual disciplines are draining us instead of refreshing us, it usually means something is amiss. We might be copying somebody else instead of figuring out what is best for us. We might by doing things out of guilt rather than because it is something helping us grow. We might have been letting life dictate our schedule to us rather than setting our own schedule. We might be creating a giant to-do list out of a sense of obligation rather than learning what we most need to do in order to grow. God created us each to be unique individuals. The exact details and form of our walk with Him will look different from other Christians. We can learn from other people how they walk with God on a daily basis, but we need to figure out how God created us to walk with Him rather than copy each and every thing that other Christians do. Some Christians are simply natural good intercessors. They have a deep concern for individuals and it is natural for them to simply want to spend a lot of time praying for those individuals. I've known Christians whose natural gifts, talents, and inclinations lead them to be able naturally do some things that other Christians simply cannot do to that extent without burning out. I spent years trying to live up to Christians who were specially gifted in some areas. It ended up being a pattern of throwing a lot of time and effort into something and then burning out and feeling guilty. Once I figured out how the patterns, routines, and changing routines of spiritual disciplines worked in my life, they simply were much easier, more natural, and left me empowered and refreshed.
  9. GandalfTheWise

    Do You Really Love The Sinner Hate The Sin

    Over decades, I've seen a lot of sloppy usage of "repentance" among Christians. FWIW, here's a quick take on my understanding of what it is and where it fits into things. From Acts, it is clear that Paul taught repentance and belief both as being important. For example, I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. Acts 20:21 NIV First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. Acts 26:20 NIV. The disciples in Jerusalem seemed to have a similar view as expressed in Acts 11:18, When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” From these, it appears to some degree that repentance precedes or accompanies belief and salvation. In addition, there seems to be a secondary usage whereby Christians who become aware of something wrong do something to address it (such as Paul addressing the Corinthian believers to deal with a situation in the church there). In both cases, the primary greek word which describes a shift in one's thinking about something (which could represent either a huge paradigm shift in world outlook or a simple change of opinion on a matter) are used. My observation is that Christians often define repentance exclusively as something like "turning from sin", "acknowledging our sins", "being grieved enough by sin to quit doing it", or similar such notions. What is lacking in these definitions is that we don't acknowledge our powerlessness to completely change and our inability to completely stop sinning and our need for God to change us and put a new nature inside of us. Repentance is not only fessing up to sinful acts but seeing our sinful nature for what it is. It is seeing ourselves as having a sin nature that we cannot change and that requires God's intervention to do something about. It is moving from the position of thinking "if I try hard enough I can clean up enough to please God" to thinking "I cannot possibly get rid of sin in my life and need God to do it". Over the years, I've lost track of the number of Christians who believe and teach that it is up to Christians to clean up their own lives. They give lip service to being a new creation and being transformed and being saved by faith, but they turn holiness into having enough willpower and discipline and desire to follow every command in the Bible that they can find. They often teach and counsel people that living a Christian life is much like learning to keep a series of New Year's resolutions. I'm not talking false teachers here. I am talking sincere believers in Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit inside of them that see giving up sin as the result of their choices and self-control. They believe and teach that any sin in our life is due to our failure to change or repent or because we love sin more than God. They give lip service to sin being a consequence of having a sin nature, but when push comes to shove they blame themselves (and others) for not trying hard enough to change. Repentance thus become defined as something like "trying hard to stop sinning" or "trying hard enough to successfully stop sinning". Many Christians no longer see repentance as a change in outlook to see ourselves as God sees us but as related to our ability to feel strongly enough about sin to change ourselves. Over the years, I've come to see repentance (which accompanies salvation) as this. Repenting is seeing the reality that we are sinful beings (who commit sinful acts) and who are unable to change ourselves (have a sin nature). We can try to stop sinning with limited success, but we cannot eliminate sin from our lives. We finally see ourselves as needing God not only to forgive our sins but to change our very nature so that sin no longer rules over us. We undergo a paradigm shift where we move from seeing ourselves in the wrong way to the right way. We are infected with sin to our very core and slave to it. We need God both to forgive us and to change us so that we are free from sin. The Christian life is about our new nature overcoming the old nature. There are some things we can simply change by deciding to do so. However, there are some things in our lives that are rooted in our old nature than can only be overcome as our new nature grows and matures and comes to rule in our lives. There is the "minor" change of opinion where we recognize something needs to change and we simply do so. Then there is the life-changing paradigm shift where we realize that we are deeply infected and bound by sin and require a Savior both to forgive us and give a us new perfect nature. The way I see the salvation-accompanying repentance is that it is the paradigm shift that occurs with the horror and shame and fear and guilt of realizing that we are infected with sin to our very core and have committed heinous acts against others and God along with the realization that we cannot do anything about it and that we are doomed to be cast out with all the other evil in the world. We are then in a position to put our trust and confidence in God through Christ's atoning work and a new birth through the Holy Spirit whereby we are forgiven and adopted as children and a new creation and nature is put within us. I see repentance as more about having a change of mind where we stop seeing things through our eyes and start seeing things through God's eyes. It can be a world-changing paradigm shift of seeing the need for a Savior or the realization that something needs to change in our life. When we truly see something through God's eyes, it will change how we see things and the decisions we make. Repentance alone does not give us the power to stop sinning, it is the new creation and new nature inside of us that does that. Repentance helps us see things at we ought to. It is the transforming work of God inside of us that empowers us to then walk as we ought to.
  10. GandalfTheWise

    Shocked by a sermon today

    There is a spiritual battle going on in many (probably all) mainline denominations. There are pastors in those denominations that indeed know God and believe in God. For them, the resurrection of Jesus is a real historical event; that there is indeed a spiritual world as described in the Bible; and that God (as understood in the traditional sense) exists. Then there are those pastors that are essentially agnostic or atheist in outlook that view Christianity as one religion among many that only has value because it helps give us meaning in life and comforts us during painful times. For them, "God" is a unknowable or psychological concept to be defined by each individual in some way that gives meaning to them and helps them deal with the pain of life. They've become "Christians" because it seems a helpful way to have a better life; though any other religion might have done just as well for them. The big challenge when listening is that each view uses the same words. For one pastor, the word "faith" means trust and confidence in God Himself. For another pastor, "faith" means believing whatever gives you peace of mind. For one pastor, the resurrection of Christ is a real historical event through which God reconciled humans to Himself. For another pastor, the resurrection of Christ is a fairy tale that teaches us hope in some manner. Often, it is only when they explicitly describe what they really believe that you can tell if they actually believe in a real God or just as some psychological need for comfort to deal with mortality. My observation in mainline churches in the US is that you never know what you're going to get with a particular pastor. A good friend of mine is a pastor in a mainline denomination in a small town so I've been getting the inside scoop of the battle going on. Some Christians take the view that they are going to stand their ground and testify of what God has done in their life in those churches. Other Christians wash their hands of it and join churches where the pastors and members believe in God and Jesus Christ (as an actual historical person who was God in the flesh). I know people I consider solid Christians that have done both. Here is the main advice I'd give a young believer on what to learn from other Christians. Learn how they walk with God themselves. My opinion is to find those mature believers who've spent years and decades walking with God and cheerfully and naturally will tell you about what He had done in their lives. Find those for whom fruit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control are defining characteristics of who they naturally are (Galatians 5:22-23) Find those who will freely share what they have seen God do and how He has changed them and how He is currently working in their lives. Find out how they pray, read the Bible, get together with other Christians, and in general how they live their lives. Find as many mature Christians as you can to learn from preferably with a range of views on various things that Christians argue about. There is simply something different about those believers who've spent decades focused on knowing God more and more and walking with Him on a consistent basis. Not every person with gray hair who has been in a church for decades is mature; nor is everyone who can eloquently talk and teach about God actually walking closely with Him. But there are those who've spend decades slowly and consistently growing and have a greater intimate knowledge of God than most. God made each of us a unique individual. Those ways of doing things that work best for one Christian probably won't be best for another. Some pray best in the morning, others at night, and others during the day. Some pray best sitting in a quiet room, others out on a walk, and others while driving to work. At different times in our lives, our best Bible reading might be focusing on a few verses per day, or reading a passage per day, or reading and re-reading a particular book, or reading a number of pages per day while reading the Bible through. In the long run, being a Christian is about walking with God and becoming the unique person who He created us to become in Christ.
  11. GandalfTheWise

    The State of the Church

    My previous post was meant to be informative of the range of opinions I've seen expressed at various times so you wouldn't be blindsided later. The article contains various statements as well as quotations from groups and people that I've heard some here explicitly denounce with quite strong conviction. I just wanted to give you a heads up that there are some for whom you are defending an indefensible practice and why they believe that.
  12. GandalfTheWise

    Pub Theology

    There are two types of ministries where there is no immediate visible fruit. Those that have no spiritual basis, no anointing, and God has nothing to do with, and are producing no fruit. Then there are those that are patiently spiritually toiling under God's direction to lay a foundation and plant seeds. I've met missionaries in places where people flock to the gospel and in places where converts are few and far between. I know one missionary couple that changed locations (due to health reasons) and saw completely different things in the two locations. In the one location, there was active visible growth. In the other location, there was little interest in the gospel. Same couple, very different levels of visible fruit. Those who are fooling themselves will have nothing to show for it. For those who are patiently laboring at God's direction, there will eventually be a harvest. Time will tell which are which.
  13. GandalfTheWise

    The State of the Church

    I skimmed the article. This is precisely what some Christians would call new-age, occult, and eastern-influenced practice that is part of the coming satanic one-world religion (which is being lead by the roman catholic church). They seem to see everything as either being part of the small holy remnant of Christians to be raptured or part of the satanic one-world religion to be shunned. There is nothing in between. If it doesn't directly repudiate any and all catholic, orthodox, or related practices, it isn't of God. The thing I see with regard to it is this. Most mainline churches are in a fight for their soul. There are those pastors in them who are indeed Christians believing in Jesus Christ and knowing Him; and there are those pastors in them who are essentially agnostics or atheists who see religious symbolism and rites as merely emotional things that help us deal with life. For the believer, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a real historical event that has objective meaning. For the agnostic, it's merely a subjective symbol of the possibility of having a new and better life; it's meaning is how much comfort and peace it might bring someone. For those who are believers, what is called contemplative prayer is basically what most believers do when they sit quietly in God's presence and think on spiritual things and listen to God. For those who are agnostic, it can become just about anything including eastern meditation. For the believer, it is about resting in God's presence and listening to Him. For the agnostic, it's about trying to find emotional peace and some type of emotional experience to give meaning to life. This also gets into the realm of the question: How does God speak to Christians today? Some Christians hold the position that the *only* way God speaks today is though the Bible; anything else is unbiblical and potentially occult or satanic in nature. Other Christians hold the position that God speaks to us in many ways (which must then be evaluated to see if it is consistent with scripture). Because contemplative prayer involves listening (which some would call a further revelation beyond scripture), some would reject it as unscriptural.
  14. GandalfTheWise

    Am I cursed/hexed?

    There can definitely be patterns in our lives that have various causes. Sometimes they are most definitely spiritual; sometimes not; and sometimes a combination of things. Sometimes we feel like we become magnets for things and sometimes we have for various reasons. We need God's guidance and wisdom for how to appropriately deal with each of those things. I've seen long term patterns like these change and vanish in my life in different ways. Here are a few of them. I'd spent much of my life being run over by people (especially professionally). In spite of often, being the most competent one in the room, I'd often be ignored. I'd watch things fall apart and then eventually see people come back to my view. As I found out later, most of that was self-inflicted. I had a couple lies buried deep within my heart ("you're not a real man" and "you don't know what you are doing") that frankly were attacks of the enemy on me from the time I was a child. In hindsight, I was probably unconsciously acting like I was uncertain and tentative and unintentionally encouraging people to question me. At one point in my life, God simply shined His light in my heart, I saw those things as lies, and literally overnight my behavior changed. Within a few weeks, my wife and daughters were wondering what happened. I found at work (and in life in general) that I simply became more assertive and confident without even trying. Those lies had kept me in bondage for decades. I had a few phobias and compulsive behaviors in my life. One Sunday, I was at a typical morning service with a guest speaker. After the service, I just knew I was supposed to go forward for prayer (though I had no idea for what). He prayed briefly for me (with a relatively nondescript prayer that I cannot remember). I just remember something changed inside and those things simply vanished. This was an instant and unexpected healing of a sort that gave me a freedom I hadn't expected. One company I worked for just simply had a bad atmosphere about it with a lot of problems. The facility was next to a small woods with a little creek so I'd often take my lunch outside on nice days. One day during lunch, I just simply felt a sense I was supposed to not just pray for improvement but to actively rebuke a spiritual presence of some type. In one "okay God I'll do it but boy do I feel stupid" part of this, I prayed over the dumpsters. Over the next few months, tangible changes started occurring and I found myself in the middle of a few of them. One thing was that I did some analysis on one assembly line which led to a maintenance tech adjusting one part by one hundredth of an inch that completely changed how that line ran. Our quality guy came up to me a month later and mentioned what a change had occurred. He casually mentioned that the recycling company now only had to come empty the dumpsters once every couple weeks. It had been to the point where there was so much production scrap that the dumpsters were being filled every 2 to 3 days. There were also other things that simply changed with the general culture in some places. It's not like it became a dream place by any stretch of the imagination, but there was definitely something spiritual going on that lifted and it felt different when I came to work. There've been times in my life where I needed others' prayers, intercession, and spiritual warfare. There've been times God did healing that changed me. There've been times I've actively prayed and taken spiritual authority over things and seen them change. The key in all of this is following God's guidance as to what is needed and what His timing is.
  15. GandalfTheWise

    inspirational/helpful books

    There are many classic Christian books at https://www.ccel.org .
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