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GandalfTheWise

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About GandalfTheWise

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  1. GandalfTheWise

    Flat Earth Causing Issues

    These can be challenging situations. Hang in there. I think the first thing is to discern the real root of their conviction on this. My sense of things is that there are two general reasons a Christian believes FE materials, one primarily intellectual and the other primarily spiritual, and it might be both. I'm going to focus this post assuming that there is a strong spiritual component to this. The first is that they are buying in on an intellectual level of being convinced by the scientific sounding information being presented and the idea the government is hiding something. I would describe these Christians as believing FE as some type of theory to be believed based on facts and evidence. In this case, they would probably be open to discussing various evidence and having a discussion about what best fits the facts. They might see the Bible as possibly teaching either so they would be more open to considering evidence about the actual shape of the earth. If this is the case, a calm discussion of various Bible verses would probably be fruitful. The second is that they are buying in on a spiritual level where they've become convinced that is what the Bible teaches. In this case, it's potentially become a matter of the authority and accuracy of scripture for them. Any attempt to point out fallacies or errors in FE materials then essentially becomes an attack on what scripture teaches. When I first started trying to deal with Christians who believe that the Bible teaches a flat earth, I found that approaching things from a scientific standpoint was ineffective. As far as I can tell, they have rejected standard science and any evidence of a globular world as fabricated and deceptive. The more you mention it, the more they become convinced you are deceived and untrustworthy. Such verses as And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. Rev 7:1 KJV quite plainly state and thus prove that the earth must have 4 literal corners or it would not be possible for an angel to be standing on them. It thus becomes an issue that God said in scripture that the earth has 4 corners, therefore anyone, any science, anything, that contradicts that is calling God a liar. Try to suggest that a verse like this might be allegorical or reflect common language usage in some manner and not be literal and you will potentially be dismissed as disbelieving scripture. Over the years, I noticed that some Christians seem to have an unhealthy all or nothing approach to the authority of scripture *based on what they believe*. They seem to have a view something like everything I have been taught and convinced that scripture says must be correct or I cannot trust any of it. They'll usually acknowledge their beliefs aren't perfect, but they usually have an extensive list of things they are not willing to compromise on. They have put themselves into a position where they cannot allow any doubt or challenge about those things they are convinced that the Bible teaches. If any one of those things is wrong, their entire faith in scripture is shaken because they honestly are then not sure of what else in the Bible might be wrong. If the earth does not have 4 corners as it clearly says, then what else might be wrong in scripture? My observation is that they often can get quite hostile whenever anyone brings up anything that contradicts something on their list of no-compromise beliefs. Such discussions all too frequently end up with with them pointing out how the other person has rejected scripture and is calling God a liar. Keep pushing too hard and you'll potentially start to be viewed as the enemy and not a Christian. I suppose the main advice I'd give is to be patient and keep focused on the main thing which is that their trust and confidence needs to be in God Himself, not in being right about each and every little detail of belief (such as what shape the earth is). I'd pray for discernment of what to share and when and that God would shine His light into this situation. Sometimes less is more and a single well-timed comment or observation from God's guidance is what it takes.
  2. GandalfTheWise

    A Sense of Urgency

    I did that for a long time (and still do to some extent). When things fizzle out, burn us out, tire us out, and just in general waver as soon as we lose our resolve and will-power, it's sometimes indicative we were doing it in the flesh. I did this for close to 3 decades without knowing any better. I would just double down, try to work harder, and try to get more serious about serving God. I'd find times where things would go well and I'd be fully occupied in them. But, then something would falter and I'd find myself trying to find another activity to do to replace that one. I was spending my life looking for what God wanted me to do so I could accomplish it. What I was really doing was defining myself by tasks, calling, gifts, talents, and measuring my value by the results. In the midst of finally crashing and burning, God took me out into a quiet desert place (that I at first detested) to get away from it all. The real question I found that needed answering was who had God created me to be? Not the standard responses that apply to all Christians, but rather who did God intend for me to individually to be. Over a period of a year or so, God slowly lead me on a journey of starting to see this. Since then, I've found that ministry (and pretty much everything else in my life) just more naturally flows outward and is much less affected by the world around me. I find that my focus is on those things I'm meant to do and not distracted by those things I'm not meant to do. Jesus' words that his yoke is easy and burden light took on a real meaning for me. By no means is everything perfect, but in general I'm finding that more things that I'm doing simply feel much more natural and easy than being things I have to work at to make happen. I find my focus is much more on who God created me to be and letting that flow outward rather than on a list of things to do that I work hard at accomplishing. I'm finding life is becoming much more about walking with God and doing what I'm naturally good at as opportunity arises.
  3. GandalfTheWise

    Flat Earth Causing Issues

    My observation is that Christians holding FE beliefs are usually a subset of young earth creationists. For those with those firm beliefs, God explicitly told us facts about the earth in the Bible. To question those facts is to actively question God and to cast away the authority of scripture. My observation is that some of them are convinced that anyone who disagrees with them in any of those matters has cast aside scripture and at best is deceived and at worst is not a Christian. They have a carefully constructed set of details, facts, and explanations proving why those who disagree are wrong. The challenge I see is that many of these people have made believing in these things a part of their cornerstone of faith. Any doubt or question whatsoever on any of the details, facts, and explanations about what they are convinced scripture says about the earth is an attack on their faith. They often cannot let a single question or doubt or disagreement go, because a single error means the very authority of scripture is being called into doubt and as a result their faith in God is cast into doubt. In many of their eyes, any Christian who has a view such as "I believe God created the world and the details don't matter to me" has potentially rejected the authority of scripture and must be brought into line. So in answer to your question, yes. I see divisions occurring because for some Christians this is a critical matter of faith for which disagreement cannot be allowed. For some Christians, those who disagree on these matters have cast aside the Bible and likely God Himself.
  4. GandalfTheWise

    His Coming

    @Chrisy This does not sound dumb at all. I think most (and probably all) Christians have felt this way at times. I know I did early in my Christian walk. I think one starting point is to realize what the gospel is and what it isn't. Many Christians seem to think and act like the gospel is this: 1. God forgives us, and 2. We then try as hard as possible to stop sinning and live the right way. However, the gospel is really this. 1. God forgives us (and adopts us as children and puts us in a right relationship with Him) and 2. We are a new creation in Christ. This means that God starts a new spiritual work inside of us so that over time we are changed and transformed. God has created us to be unique individuals meant to reflect His glory in some way. The issue is that unique person is trapped in an old sinful nature that is corrupted and will be destroyed with the rest of the world when God finally decides to rid the universe of evil and suffering once and for all. With the new birth (or being born again or being saved or whatever word we use), God puts a new nature inside of us. We become new creations in Christ. We are His workmanship created for good deeds in Christ. That unique person God made each of us to be is now being freed from the old corrupt nature and being brought into being in a new spiritual nature in Christ. The Christian life is about watching that unique person God created you to be slowly emerge in a new spiritual nature from the rubble heap of the old corrupt nature. It is not about trying hard to clean up and fix the old nature. The point is that it is impossible to fix the old nature. It is a dead end that will go out onto the garbage heap at the end of the world. It is about learning to live as that new creation that flows through the Holy Spirit that is life everlasting. The bible (in Galatians 5:22-23) describes such things as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control as *fruit* of the Holy Spirit. Fruit is something that naturally emerges and grows in our lives. It is not a goal or a new year's resolution that we work hard at achieving. It is not about taking anger management classes to cover up the anger inside; it is about being transformed so that we don't have anger inside. It is something that naturally emerges in our lives over time as our new nature emerges more and more. My observation (from over 40 years as a Christian) is that sins seem to fit into 3 general categories. First, there are sins that we can trivially address by just stopping doing them. We realize that something is not spiritually healthy for us and we just stop. Second, there are sins that will just disappear as we grow spiritually. Those are the things where fruit in our lives just grows and causes some things to change over time. Third, there are those besetting sins and bondages that require God's healing and deliverance to be free of. Addictions, compulsive behaviors, overpowering emotional reactions, and similar things often disappear because God does something, not because we stoke up enough sincerity and discipline and willpower to change ourselves. My observation is that these types of besetting sins often have their roots in spiritual and emotional trauma, injury, and bondage from before we were Christians. The outward behaviors we see are often symptoms of something deep inside that God needs to heal or deliver us from in some way. Over the years, I've heard many testimonies of various ways God healed or delivered people from such things. Often Christians fall into the trap of treating each and every sin and failure as being a result of not trying hard enough or being sincere enough and beat themselves up over it. The reality is that there are some things in our lives we cannot fix. This is indeed the gospel or the Good News. God is slowly remaking that unique person He intends each of us to be out of a new nature that is incorruptible and good. He is doing what is impossible for us to do. One of the things that grows over time is our trust and confidence in God Himself. Our trust and confidence (which is what faith in God really is) comes about from knowing God more and more. Over months and years and decades as we see His hand in our lives and others, our trust and confidence simply grows in response to Him. Trust and confidence is not something we convince ourselves of by repeating Bible verses over and over to ourselves to try to eliminate doubt. Trust and confidence is something that emerges deep in our hearts as we simply know that our heavenly Father is holding us in His arms and won't let us go. We simply trust that God's heart toward us is good and that He is not holding out on us or trying to catch us in mistakes. This is something that emerges more and more over time as we know Him more and more. One of the things I've noted that many Christians do (been there, done that myself) is we try to eliminate doubt thinking that lack of doubt is equivalent to faith. We might strike off looking for miracles or works of God that we think will prove to us God is really there. We might spend time repeating certain Bible verses to ourselves over and over to try to convince ourselves not to doubt. We might dive deep into apologetics thinking that we can learn enough facts about the historical factualness of the Bible to eliminate our doubts. We might throw ourselves into a flurry of ministries and Christian activities so as not to even give ourselves time to think about doubt. We basically end up trying to grow our faith in those types of things hoping it will cause us to have more faith in God. The problem is, none of those things are trust and confidence in God Himself. Ultimately, trust and confidence in God Himself comes from walking consistently with Him over months, years, and decades. Faith in God comes as a response to Him; it's not something we stoke up by trying hard to have more faith and less doubt. I just had to quote these lines (I've met a lot of highly spiritual Christians who when compared to me make me look like a rash. They know all the words, verses, stories and everything) and comment on them. In my Christian walk, I've had the opportunity to observe a lot of Christians over a long time span. I've seen who has become fruitful over the long haul, who continued to grow and mature, and who basically stayed the same year after year as well as those who God has consistently uses to touch other people's lives in deep and meaningful ways. I've observed that there is a huge difference between those who put on a good front (with sincere intentions and motives) because that is what they think being a Christian is about and those who have an actual spiritual maturity and depth to them that has come from years and decades of walking ever more closely with God and spiritually maturing. The people I look for to learn from are those whose words come from a deep intimate relationship with God and who God regularly uses to touch other people's lives. I've seen all too many people who could rattle off a string of stories, bible quotations, doctrinal positions, theological words, pray eloquent prayers, etc., but whose spiritual walk hasn't significantly changed over the years. The main thing I look for is if characteristics such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control are apparent in their lives and if their words consistently reflect a deep knowledge of God that has come from walking with Him for a long time and if they consistently minister life to people they interact with.
  5. GandalfTheWise

    Examples of ways you've grown in your faith

    @naominash Short version: When God's truth finally broke through (after decades as a Christian) and I finally deep in my heart understood that I was a new creation in Christ and stopped spending most of my efforts trying to fix up the old nature. I went from a laborious performance-focused *doing* measured by success and failure to do things to a much more peaceful and fruitful *being* where new life just naturally flows out. I started to see other people the same way as God's purpose for them to become new creations rising from the rubble heap of the old nature. This radically changed how I felt about people and treated them. Long version: I used to see people's value in being what they could accomplish and how they lived up to their God given potential. I saw myself and other Christians as needing to behave better and becoming contributing members to the body of Christ. Now I simply value people because they are God's unique creation. God did much work in my life to start seeing myself through His eyes; as a consequence, I started seeing others the same way. Now, one of the biggest things for me is having a true desire deep in my heart to see people through God's eyes as the unique wonderful beautiful person He intends for them to become in Christ. When I meet someone, I wonder who God created them to be, and what treasure is buried under piles of garbage or hidden behind carefully constructed walls and curtained windows or masks or hidden behind a flurry of activity. It's a glorious thing when you can see those little flashes of God's unique creation peaking out at times from behind the masks. It's a bit like seeing the first hints of green emerging from a gray and brown landscape following winter. Whenever I find myself looking at the gray and brown, I realize I need to take a step back until I once again am focusing on looking for the green; that's where the new shoots of life that God is creating are. I now look for opportunities to carefully pull rocks and other obstructions out of the way of those precious little shoots without damaging them. Years ago I used to have a much more passive-aggressive attitude toward people. God did much healing in my life to eliminate that. Now, I usually have a sense of calm and peace toward people and long suffering with them and a sense of wanting to help encourage and pull them forward. I've come to realize that Christians are new creations in Christ. It is not about focusing on problems and helping keep new year's resolutions to sin less with combinations of carrots and sticks and correction and discipline, but rather doing what God wants to me to do to help with the growth and emergence of the transformation from that new creation. It's amazing how much easier it is to deal with people when you see God's purpose for them as being a wondrous new creation emerging from the rubble of a sinful old nature. When I stopped trying to fix people's old natures and started encouraging the new ones to emerge, other people looked and felt a whole lot different to me. That's not to say I don't have to set some boundaries to protect myself and others at times. <Yoda voice on> Hmm... strong with the old nature that one is....
  6. GandalfTheWise

    Answering Prayers?

    The yes/no/later response strikes me as one-dimensional. It's like the only element involved in prayer is putting in an impersonal request form and God pulling out one of 3 stampers to put a response on our request form. The issue of unanswered prayers is one that has vexed Christians for millennia to some extent. There is sometimes an element of us thinking we know best in what we ask for. We can pray to win the lottery; but perhaps what we should be praying for wisdom and guidance for how to support ourselves. There is also sometimes an element that we really don't trust God and think He is holding out on us for some reason if we don't get the response we expect when we expect it. I think our view of unanswered prayers ultimately comes down to how we think of God's heart toward us. Does He have our best interest at heart as a loving Father? Or is He just waiting for us to fall short so He can smite us or play games with us? Do we trust Him to do what's best in that we don't see the big picture? or do we assume that He should do things the way we expect? There is also the issue that prayer is much more than just asking things of God; it is meant to be communion with God as well. It is a time to reflect, meditate, and rest in His presence, and not just rattle off a list of prayer requests. As a bigger part of our spiritual life, prayer is a time of getting away from the world and just being with God. When prayer becomes primarily about asking for things, I think we are missing the biggest part of it.
  7. GandalfTheWise

    God wakes my wife up with reminders

    Now that we're completely self-employed, we need to worry about doing our own tax filings, etc. which includes quarterly payments. Those were due on September 15 (last Saturday). My wife woke up in the middle of the night suddenly realizing it was tax time. I heard her get up and after awhile wondered what was up. I went downstairs and there she was rummaging through our new file cabinet. Fortunately I went down because the envelopes with our tax information were too large to fit in the file cabinet and were sitting next to my desk. She found what she needed, went online to get the forms, and found that they needed to be postmarked by September 17 (today) since the 15th fell on a weekend. This morning, we both agreed God was watching out for us on that one.
  8. GandalfTheWise

    need proper guidance before the jump?

    There are times where God will put something on our heart that we need to do, and He'll keep reminding us. My opinion is that He will at times start to force the issue for us if it is something important to us to deal with, but it is more of a "c'mon my child, you really need to do this for your own good..." rather than a "Do this or else!!!" type of thing. With regard to unresolved things involving other people, I try to follow God's leading. Sometimes, it's best to leave the past in the past; and other times it is best to resolve things. One important thing (if we have wronged someone) is to not put any pressure on them for a particular response. We just apologize, make good, (or whatever is appropriate), and not expect them to immediately forgive us, be happy or whatever response we are hoping for. Sometimes it may take them time to process our apology and restitution. There is a book I've found insightful with regard to apologies. The 5 Languages of Apology by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. They basically note that different people expect to receive apologies in different ways. Some people just want to hear "I'm sorry." Other people want you to clearly confess what was wrong to make sure you know what you did. Other people want restitution. Other people want to make sure that you have changed so it won't happen again. And some people want you to ask for forgiveness. The challenge is that apologizing in a way that doesn't mean something to someone can potentially just make someone more angry. I found the book helpful because I'm very much a "I don't care what you say or do, just make sure you've changed so it doesn't happen again" type. My middle daughter is very much a "I'm sorry" (and now everything is fine) type. In hindsight, this led to some head butting between us because she'd say "I'm sorry" to me and then get frustrated when I didn't let it go but want to see tangible signs of change. I also realized that there were times she simply needed to hear me say the words "I'm sorry" regardless of what I was doing to make sure I didn't do it again. I've got no clue how to figure out what the best way is to apologize to someone ahead of time. I'll try to hit all 5 forms in some way. I'll explicitly say I'm sorry, do a quick summary of what I did wrong, do a quick summary of what I'm doing to stop it from happening again, and offer to make it good in some way. I tread very very carefully on asking them to forgive me because some people react badly to that. I usually reserve asking for forgiveness until I have a clear sense that that would provide meaningful closure to an apology rather than ruining a meaningful apology by putting pressure on them to instantly respond and accept it.
  9. GandalfTheWise

    need proper guidance before the jump?

    I'm always happy to PM with people. My sense here though is that there are a lot of legal and medical details and perhaps other things that are far beyond my experience and capabilities. I've been able to toss out a few general spiritual insights that are perhaps of some help, but I just sense like there is too much here for us to adequately help remotely. My general sense is that someone (perhaps a local pastor? or local Christian counselor?) who has much more familiarity and experience with the various NZ systems as well as various medical things would be a far better fit. Someone who through experience knows little things like what to wear to a court hearing, what to say or not to say, how to navigate the system, who has familiarity with the healthcare system, etc. could probably provide much practical help and guidance. I think an appropriate prayer request here would be that God brings the right person (or persons or perhaps local church or support ministry or informal Christian small group) to walk alongside in real life.
  10. GandalfTheWise

    need proper guidance before the jump?

    Our relationship with God is based on Jesus' atoning work, not on our ability to perfect ourselves. Areas of sin, weakness, and other problems in our life are things that God is working on to change us. Having said that, those things can often hinder our ongoing relationship with God, not because of His disgust or anger with us, but rather that they distract us, discourage us, make us feel unworthy, so that we feel guilty and want to hide from God. With regard to God not answering prayers, Christians have been asking about this, pondering this, and trying to fully understand this for millennia. With regard to "unanswered" prayers, here are a few things I've observed. Sometimes God is working in our lives (and others' lives) in ways we don't understand and so we complain and ask Him to do it differently. Sometimes we are simply asking for things out of convenience or immaturity. Sometimes we are completely losing focus on God Himself and starting to only see what He can do for us. In the middle of trials, we sometimes need to ask ourselves a few things. One thing is "what is this trial revealing about me?" When things are going well, we can easily keep on the masks and smoothly keep on going like we normally do. When things start to go badly, it can reveal what's inside. Maybe our temper starts to snap, maybe we become afraid, maybe we start to act out what we normally keep hidden. Often trials reveal parts of ourselves we've not admitted or even realized are there. A few years ago, I had a job situation that kept getting more and more stressful until I physically collapsed one day at work and almost passed out. I left that job and took many months to recover. During that time, God used it to point out that I had way too much anger in my life. It was not anger directed at people (or I would have immediately recognized that as a problem), but it was anger directed at situations and things I could not control. In hindsight, I had always viewed this as a positive thing that I "cared" a lot or that I was "showing concern" for things and that this misdirected emotion and passion was somehow useful. It was not. It was only eating me up inside over things I could do nothing about and distracting me away from the things God really wanted me to focus on. I would have certainly preferred God to have instantaneously healed me of the stress issues, and that once I'd learned my lesson that things would immediately start going better. But it took a several month process to learn to live, think, and feel and to simply relearn to live life without a ton of self-induced anger and stress. I had to reestablish habits of living that were healthier and more productive. At times, our greatest struggles come when we start to feel inside that God is holding out on us. It boils down to us not trusting that He has our best interests at heart. At times, trials and struggles are a refining furnace that God is using to reveal the dross inside of us from the pure gold and silver that He is refining. At times, we are in a process of growth and change that takes time.
  11. GandalfTheWise

    catch 22

    @Equippers Wow. That is way outside the range of anything I have any experience with. The only possible advice I'd have is to document things. Maybe keep a notebook and write down dates and times when things happen for a record as well as keeping any paper records you receive in a folder. It might also be helpful to document when and where you go to places before and after various appointments. Perhaps organizing your research as well including the actual drug description inserts would be useful to have copies of as well. My *very minimal* experience with the court system in the US is that written documentation seems to carry some weight compared to purely oral comments. Hopefully someone here has more experience and can give better input. Some of the worst situations we find ourselves in often seem to be the ones God uses to prepare us for ministry to others in the future. Decades ago, I always thought ministry came from a position of authority, knowledge, and completely having your own act together. I now realize that often those ministries we are each most suited for are often a result of the darkest places we went through.
  12. GandalfTheWise

    Wife fell out of love

    One of the things that is hardest for men to deal with is lack of respect, and lack of a physical relationship is not too far behind that. When the one you've pledged yourself to for life does not enthusiastically give those things, it's draining, demoralizing, and discouraging. My guess is that a lot of Christian men are in that boat or have been in it, some for temporary periods of time, and others for longer period of times. Most of them quietly keep it to themselves and just bear under the burden. The majority soldier on maintaining their integrity. Some slowly crack without realizing it. That nice (and I mean a sincerely nice) female colleague or friend who gives honest compliments and an occasional pat on the back or hug serves as a stark reminder of what it is like to have someone respect you and how wonderful sincere spontaneous physical contact is. Many Christian men can slowly fall into an emotional affair where that nice person sincerely gives them something their wife is not. Many don't realize it's happening and I'd guess many affairs and potentially subsequent divorces among Christians are caused by this type of scenario. The reality is that the church is often not really there for those men and often unintentionally adds to the burden by making it their fault that they are not spiritual enough so that it doesn't bother them. Most Christian men are loath to bad mouth their wives or tell anyone around them what is happening because they respect their wives too much to air dirty laundry to those who personally know her. At a time when they most need support of Christian men around them, they are absolutely *not* going to tell anyone who knows their wife what is going on other than a perhaps vague "things aren't going so well right now" and probably most of the men around them pretty much know what they mean, but won't say anything out of respect. Spiritual maturity does lessen the impact of such things on a man, but it does not remove the sadness over a sense of loss of what might have been nor does it create that sense of joy and wonder at being with someone who freely gives things that make life so much more enjoyable. Hang in there.
  13. GandalfTheWise

    Chuck Colson

    He ended up involved with prison ministries. www.prisonfellowship.org My in-laws spent many years involved with prison ministry and as I vaguely recall got their newsletter or other materials.
  14. GandalfTheWise

    As I am without one plea and no mirror to deceive me

    And then there is But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. I Sam 16:7 KJV One of the most blessed things in life is to be able to start to see ourselves (and others) as God sees us as the unique person He intends for us to become and to stop seeing ourselves (and others) through the masks, expectations, and burdens we've carried around much of our lives.
  15. GandalfTheWise

    Scripture Songs

    It's more of a recognition thing that I recall them when I run across them. It's some of the old scripture in song types of songs from the 70s and 80s that I haven't heard in ages but they come to mind when I read various passages.
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