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GandalfTheWise last won the day on April 17 2018

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  1. GandalfTheWise

    American culture hates men

    Speaking as a white Christian male married for 30+ years in his 50s (which is just about every category being despised in some circles), I truly appreciate it when my sisters in Christ speak up. It's encouraging and is more likely to be listened to in some circles. It was very discouraging to me this past week when I saw many Christian women celebrating the Gillette ad on toxic masculinity. I expected that from the more liberal side of things, but I didn't from so many Christian women. I'm normally fairly low key and think before reacting but that one was visually about most men and boys behaving like lecherous violent apathetic boors and the only good men were the very few exceptions who stood up to that vast majority of bad men and boys. My sense was that it was basically a hit piece on men (especially white men) masquerading as a public service ad about bullying and sexism. Instead of hearing "most men I know aren't like that" it was comments celebrating it like "I started crying when I saw it." Seriously, are most Christian men really that bad? Maybe it's the circles I've spent most of my life in, but little of that ad looked like most of the men I've known my life.
  2. GandalfTheWise

    Winter pictures from where you live 2018/2019

    Just lots of patches of ice on the ground. We moved north this year (and hoped to get more snow for our dog to roll around in). All we've gotten are a few inches of snow followed by rain that melts and freezes so it's mostly brown with ice and patchy snow now. I haven't bothered taking a picture of it. There've been a couple pretty days where the trees were frosted over in the morning. That being said, we had a long and gorgeous fall with colorful trees that lasted a long time. Our old house (about 3 hours south) has already had probably close to a foot and a half of snow this season.
  3. GandalfTheWise

    Question about asking questions

    As a working definition, I define truth or Truth to ultimately be any statement or belief that accurately reflects reality. For me, it's not so much planting a flag in the ground and saying I have arrived, it is an ongoing process of learning more and more and refining what I think I know. It is a matter of shedding those things I believe which do not match reality. It is a matter of finding things that are important that I never thought about before. My questions about God and spiritual things changed over time as I grew. As an example, here's an analogy about questions kids may ask their grandfather. Why is your hair gray? Why do you make funny noises when you sleep? Why does your leg pop when you stand up? Why do you fall asleep watching TV? Why do you smell funny? Why do you wear glasses to read? Why does your jelly bean jar only have white and pink ones left? How did you know Gramma was the person to marry? What was it like growing up 50 years ago? What do you think would be a good career for me? What do you think about .... ? What do you want to talk about? I think there tends to be a general progression that we start asking questions about anything and everything that we are curious about and what we are most concerned about. Later, we slowly move toward to being more concerned about what things God is most concerned about.
  4. GandalfTheWise

    Sometimes wonder if I'm saved...

    Sorry for the slow response. I had meant to respond earlier this week. One of the challenges is that Christians are describing how they subjectively feel when God does something in words that we cannot really reference objectively to one another. Some groups of Christians use different words to describe the same thing and others use the same word to describe different things. In addition, we are all different as you noted. Some Christians feel emotions deeply and can have high highs and low lows. Other Christians tend to be fairly steady most of the time. We can get caught up and deceived by emotions. But by the same token we can get caught up in trying to convince ourselves of intellectual opinions we hold. One thing that can be helpful is having a small group of Christian friends, a prayer group, or a small Bible study, so we can be around Christians to share about how our spiritual walks are going. Over the years, I've learned a lot about the Christian life from testimonies of Christians around me who I interact with. As you interact with other Christians, you can see their actual life, and you can understand more what they talk about and what they mean. I've had times in my life where online interactions were my primary source of interaction with Christians; I've had times in my life where real life interactions were my primary source of interaction. God has blessed both. I think the key is having a group of Christians you interact with regularly who can get to know you (and vice versa) to the point where you have a good sense of how they are really doing in their lives. It's as we share life with other Christians that we can better see how God works in various peoples' lives.
  5. Here's a few books and resources I've found helpful over the years on various life topics. Mark Gungors' Laugh your way to a better marriage DVD set. I've not read any of his books, but my wife and I attended one of his seminars. When I got home my stomach and chest were literally aching because I had been laughing so hard. This is the only set of DVDs we have ever bought from a teacher of any type. There are some clips from his videos on YouTube. Shanti Feldhahn: The "For Women Only" and "For Men Only". She started doing research for writing a fiction book. She wanted to accurately include what men were really thinking. After talking to a few Christian men in her life (her husband and dad as I recall), she was rather shocked at how much she didn't know about how men thought and ended up doing research which led to the material for a non-fiction book. Lynn Clark's SOS Help for Emotions was the book the counselor I saw recommended that I read. While some Christians decry anything having to do with psychology, I found this book well rooted in common sense and practice rather than in wild guesses about human nature. The basic premise is that our negative emotions (falling into 1 of 3 broad categories of fear, depression, or anger) are *triggered* by certain things rather than *caused* by them. We would usually say "my mother drives me crazy", put the blame on her, and avoid her. In contrast, we should be saying "my mother does things that I react to badly; I cannot change my mother but I can figure out why I react this way to her and I should change how I react." John Eldredge's Waking the Dead was the book God used to start showing me that being a good Christian was not being a cookie cutter copy of what a good Christian is supposed to be. I started to realize we each are unique creations and works of art of God meant to reflect His glory in a way unique to each of us. I had spent decades as a Christian carrying burdens God never meant for me to carry. For me, this book was one of the first times I realized that the work of Christ in my life was not meant to make me more productive and successful spiritually but rather make me into the person God has created me to be to walk with Him more closely. I spent years soaking in many of the Christian classics. I've got several shelves full of such books. Tozer, Andew Murray, Watchman Nee, Richard Baxter, E.M. Bounds, David Brainerd, and a host of others. These have had a deep influence on who I am today. While I found these inspiring and helpful, I had also unintentionally started to burden myself with the secular western mindset of being productive. Instead of seeing a closer walk with God as the goal as I read, I started to see being a productive Christian as the goal. Over the years, I lost myself in my gifts, talents, passions, callings, and a zeal to see God do things in my life and others. I saw my purpose in life as being a Christian who accomplished great things for God. I started to see the purpose of my Christian life as wracking up as much treasure in heaven (in the form of changed lives) as I possibly could. I had come to see my Christian life as what God would do through me to reach and change the world rather than simply becoming the person He created me to be. I've found that working on becoming who He created me to be has made me much more productive than when that was my main focus. I've also found that life is simply much more enjoyable. Sadly, it took me decades to reach this point. I testify about what God has done in my life so that hopefully others can shave a few decades off this process.
  6. @naominash I think at some point pretty much every Christian goes through some dark valleys. The details vary, but I think more than one of us has wondered why is it worth hanging around on earth. Sometimes this can be brief and other times last for a long time. Things that bother one person don't bother another. Things that don't bother one person can devastate another. Sometimes there are situations that are indeed toxic and unhealthy that require us to take action for our wellbeing. Sometimes there are situations that we make toxic by our own reaction. I used to pooh-pooh Christian counseling until I started to hear testimonies from an increasing number of Christians I knew about how God often used such things to help show them things about themselves and generate positive changes. After I physically collapsed at work due to stress, God put me in the path of a Christian counselor. I had one meeting with him (which was an initial consultation) where he recommended a book, which I got and read, and saw him once again a few weeks later. God used that book to clearly point out the big problem in my life was deep anger. I wasn't mad at people (or I would have immediately recognized it as a problem). I was mad at things I had no control over. I was angry at situations at work, the world around me, and various things. It was not so much a petty anger of being slighted but seeing unjust, unhealthy, and frustrating situations and systems that simply needed to change for the better. I was emotionally carrying around burdens God never intended for me to carry. My biggest problem was that I had confused carrying unnecessary burdens with being passionate, caring, helpful, and being a force for good in the world. It took several months and a lifestyle change from decades-long patterns of thinking to reach a point where I really felt and reacted differently to things. When I became most aware of it was several months later when I realized I had slept through the night two nights in a row. It had become normal for me to sleep for a few hours at a shot, wake up and read until exhausted and then fall asleep again. My mind had constantly been racing about all those things I needed to do. It took awhile for that to change. One of the best teachings and sermons I've heard on this general topic comes from Ed Smith (who started the transformation prayer ministry at transformationprayer.org). There's a video on their site of a sermon where he talks much about what causes much of our emotional burdens as Christians. He sets up one situation, which many of us know well. Someone asks us to do something (usually important) that we don't want to. We emotionally feel like we are stuck with two options: say yes and then get mad at them as we do it or say no and feel guilty. He asks why do we feel like we only have two options, get mad or feel bad? His answer is that our reactions are based on what we really believe about something. Our negative reactions to situations are often rooted in lies we believe. There a quote on their site that I like. "Emotional pain is not something to manage or overcome, but is a God-designed warning system that something is wrong. To pay attention to this warning is to benefit and grow in truth, to dismiss it is to remain in a perpetual cycle of lie-based thinking." The biggest insight I picked up from this sermon is to be aware of when I have a strong negative reaction to something and to ask myself Why am I reacting that way? and then deal with the real root cause. The sermon video is the 50 minute one on this page: https://www.transformationprayer.org/preparing-journey-introduction/ In a nutshell, he talks about the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. (He uses the terms intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge.) Head knowledge is when we lose a job and repeat a verse such as (Phil 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus) over and over to try to convince ourselves not to be anxious or scared while we are laying awake in bed worrying about it. Heart knowledge is when we sleep well the night we lose a job because we are convinced that it is because God's going to do something very cool in our lives. Why do we lay awake worrying? Because deep down we believe some type of lie such that God is either unable to care for us or unwilling to care for us or is punishing us. The main point he addresses is that frequently our emotions and reactions to things reflect our true beliefs about something. Often, we need God to do something in our heart to show His truth to overcome those lies.
  7. GandalfTheWise

    I would like to apologize

    We all have cases of foot in mouth disease at times. It's our response to it that is important.
  8. GandalfTheWise

    What is your understanding of Faith?

    As a steward of my time, it's the reason I'm not going to get bogged down in a series of back and forth one or two line posts without a clear understanding of what the real intent is. The striking resemblance of posts on this thread to some in threads on other sites make me wonder how many of the views expressed on those sites will eventually be expressed here. Before I go further, here are the concerns I have. 1. Am I in Christ? What does it take to prove to another that I am in Christ? 2. Can I reference, quote, and discuss scripture in this thread? or am I outside of Christ and not permitted to do so? 3. What modern day teachers other than Gene Scott (and perhaps a few of those who learned from him) are true teachers from God who should be listened to? 4. Is it possible for a person to be in Christ and disagree about the need to correct virtually every English Bible translation to eliminate the words believe, believing, and believer (in favor of faithe, faithing, and faither or phrases from Vine's or Strong's)? The bottom line is this. I have concerns that this thread is going to become about proselytizing people to a convoluted complicated view of salvation that consists of dozens of steps and becomes so exclusionary that most Christians (in the sense of those who are forgiven, are justified, are new creations in Christ, have the Holy Spirit in them, and truly are in the body of Christ) are viewed as not being in Christ. People who adopt this view are probably going to start isolating themselves from other Christians. The above issues seemed to be those which ultimately drove the direction of threads on the other sites. I will emphasize that I do not know for sure what direction this thread is heading nor the intent of the OP. It's simply that a number of other threads on other sides started in much this same way with a similar viewpoint and using some of the same jargon and phrasing. I have concerns that this thread might be motivated by the same viewpoint I saw in other threads on other sites which is essentially that one particular teacher (Gene Scott) was the best teacher since the apostle Paul and that only a few of those who learned at his feet (so to speak) are true teachers today. The posters on the other sites of this viewpoint shared things across many years and many posts and a handful of sites. They were born again and God touched their life. They found a church and a teacher (Gene Scott) who was the first they'd heard who actually taught about the need to be born again, and they grew and were blessed under his ministry for a few decades. At some point, they became convinced (and that the spiritual sense they felt inside was infallible) that Gene Scott was the only true teacher today (or perhaps one of a very small number of true teachers). After his death, they became convinced that God granted them special insight to continue that ministry and teaching and that most other teachers and churches were in error and needed to be corrected because they are not in Christ. I of course do not know if this was a single person or a few with similar views on things. Sadly, I believe that they are sincere, passionate, and caring Christians whose gifts, talents, experience, and passion have been distracted away from effectively reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ and building up the body of Christ. Instead of focusing on Christ, His death and resurrection, and the proclamation of the Gospel, it seems like they've become obsessed with one particular issue of Bible translation. Even more sadly, it seems to me that they fail to see that most Christians do agree with their main points about faith being more than holding an opinion about something and faith being trust and confidence in God Himself which leads to tangible action and decisions in both conversion and as an ongoing part of the Christian life. They're basically saying much the same things as other Christians but are convinced that their quirky way of saying it is the only correct way and that anyone disagreeing is not in Christ. As a result of this, they've distanced themselves from most other Christians. That's my opinion of what I saw in a plethora of posts across a time span of about 6 or 7 years on a handful of sites.
  9. GandalfTheWise

    Describe your first apartment

    Small. We had to have our bed in the living room because the bedroom was too small for it.
  10. GandalfTheWise

    What is your understanding of Faith?

    I address this simply for people reading this thread who don't have the Greek background to evaluate this. The idea that a particular dialect of ancient Greek was the most precise on the planet is not generally believed by Greek scholars. Greek and English both have concepts for believing what someone says, trusting them, having confidence in them, and having faith in them. The particular use of nouns, verbs, and participles can vary but the concepts carry over. To imply Greek cannot express the concept of believe, believer, and believing is not accurate. I'll further comment that few (if any) Christian scholars take Vine's dictionary seriously as a sole basis for translation work. Vine's is a great resource for the layman, but it is a summary and overview of the more complete and nuanced lexicons and references used by translators. I had been going to engage on this thread, but I found this 100+ page thread on another forum directly about this topic. http://theologyonline.com/showthread.php?116722-quot-PISTEUO-quot-the-secret-of-the-universe The poster there seemed to have similar viewpoints and a similar approach to things as is happening in this thread. Here are some comments from the main poster of that thread: post 984: I don't discuss Scripture until i'm sure the one i'm talking with is "in Christ". post 981: Because "in Christ" i judge all things and am under no mans judgement . What that means is , because i have the Spirit of Christ in me and i am in Him , anything i see or hear is automatically discerned not by me but the Spirit in me . It's not even something that is under the control of someone in this state . Now , that is specifically a temporary judgement "NOT" an eternal judgement . That is why i always end my statements with the word "yet". Because you do not know the correct way to Faithe into Christ , you more than likely can't have His Spirit "yet". Temporary , something that can be changed if you can find a way to humble yourself , instead of trying to kill the messenger . The Spirit of Christ can be put into a faither without them knowing they are fulfilling pisteuo correctly , i'm one of those . Because i've already told you the truth about pisteuo , it will probably be more difficult in some ways , but easier in others . But your so pissed at me , i think you'll probably just self destruct . I'm making an extra effort with you here , a watchman should always do that . post 41: Would I be wasting our time to try and persuade you? Not using Scripture to go back and forth, we haven't even established that either of us has the Spirit of Christ, that would make Gods Word ours to talk about. post 50 seems to give a clear explanation of that poster's view on salvation. post 67: With that said, you are completely right! Having a Salvation experience can't be taught. It happened to me by accident, at least from my perspective. And I've tried to find others that are in the same state of being as I was, and just give them the same thing I was given, but I've never seen the same result. After 25 years of that, I now simply try and shine a light on the true meaning of one word, Pisteuo! Maybe that's even to much, but I simply just can't do nothing. I've heard it said, that the hardest thing to do in Christ, is to do nothing and just be in awe of Him, "the better part". Anyway, you should know, I don't highlight this word as if were all in Christ. I highlight this word outside of Christ as people are being drawn by the Father. The reason being that most drawn out ones I think, feel the drawing of the Father and say, "i'm here", "and this is where I'm going to make my stand with Christ." But Christ and His Word are not for those who are still in the drawing stage. What solidifies this stand their making, is the mistranslated word, " believe". So you not only have most Christians camped outside Christ claiming Gods Word is theres, you have many of them starting churches and all kinds of other things, all built on the mistranslated word "believe," in a place that was only meant for people to be drawn through. The only thing that can make those ones uncomfortable is the true meaning of the word pisteuo. So that's the least I feel I can do. I'm not only responsible for being accountable of the things I say, i'm also accountable for the things I do, or don't do. [highlights added by me] post 83: If I were trying to warn people about this mistranslation of the words believe, believer , and believing without first having the experience to support it, all your conclusions ( not knowing what I'm talking about) could be and most likely would be warranted. The problem for me and you is, I had the experiences talked about in the Word before I learned it. Life altering experiences, that no one could ignore. I don't see myself as anything special, i'm just having a by the book Salvation journey. These things should be happening to everyone here. I'm busting at the seams wanting to talk about Gods Word, but I know if this first piece of the puzzle isn't understood, nothing will happen. As far as I can tell, the starter of that thread seemed to seriously believe it was not possible to have any serious spiritual discussion with anyone until they accepted that replacing "believe" with "surrender your life" in most Bible verses was correcting the Bible translation. I have the distinct impression that poster did not think most other posters on that thread were in Christ. I have the very sad and sinking feeling of a dear and sincere brother (or sister?) that God miraculously saved, and over the years became convinced that complete agreement on the use and meaning and translation of a single Greek word was the key to evangelism and reaching the lost as well as a reliable test for who was or was not in Christ. They grabbed a Vine's dictionary, pulled one phrase from it (surrender your life), and seem to have built their life around correctly substituting that phrase into most Bible verses where "believe" occurs. Their entire reason for being seems to be to enlighten people to that use of that single word so that they can be in Christ. It's sad. Pretty much every Christian I know is convinced that our faith in God includes the elements of trust, confidence, and believing what He says and surrendering our lives to Him. I think that's what that poster was saying but is unwilling to accept other Christians unless they would use that particular Greek word that exact way the poster was convinced they should be using it. From what I can see in that thread, neither my testimony of what Christ did in my heart over 40 years ago, nor the things God has done in the decades of my life since, nor the dozens of times I've read the Bible, nor reading the Bible in Greek and now learning Hebrew, nor anything in my life would have counted for anything in that thread unless I acknowledged that πιστευω has been consistently mistranslated and misused for centuries by multitudes of Christians. I'm hoping I'm wrong since I didn't have the fortitude to read all 100+ pages, but in the few dozen I skimmed and read, that's what appears to have been happening.
  11. GandalfTheWise

    Is is what it is, sometimes, unless it isn't

    I've written enough big posts on here to encounter that problem somewhat commonly. There's some glitch in the editor. I usually use my mouse to highlight my post, copy and paste the post to a new window (as backup), and refresh the page. Clicking in the editor window usually brings back what I was working on. If not, I just copy and paste what I saved back in.
  12. GandalfTheWise

    Sometimes wonder if I'm saved...

    @Figure of eighty , there are the things we can do, and there are the things that only God can do. When we try to approach God purely from our own actions, we can do good and noble things, but it does not produce a spiritual change inside of us. We can join a church, give to the poor, do good deeds, read the Bible, pray, be baptized, and do many other things, but those actions in themselves do not produce the spiritual change. When God does make a spiritual change in us, we are aware of it because it changes us. I've heard hundreds of testimonies from a wide range of Christians over the years. One thing that most of them emphasized is that there was a time that God reached out and touched them in a way that they were aware of. Now, the details, emotions, feelings, and reactions were of course unique to the individual. Some testimonies give the impression that the heavens opened and others were more subdued and related to a sudden sense of peace and comfort. In a few sentences, I first encountered God when I was 11. We had a guest speaker at a Wednesday Lent service in our mainline protestant church. I forget most of what he talked about. I just remember at the end that he stopped and asked a question, "how do you know you're going to heaven?" I remember suddenly being aware of the difference that I *hoped* God was there, and that heaven existed, and that I was going there, but I really didn't have a good reason for that. Afterwards, I went up and he lead me in a brief prayer. It was just something like "God please forgive me and come into my life." In that moment, I suddenly felt different. There had been no big emotional push ahead of this, I was just going along, repeating words, in one sense wondering why I was doing it, and just suddenly things changed. The best words I can use are that I just felt a warm peaceful comforting presence inside of me. I went from hoping God was there as a distant powerful figure I couldn't see to just having this strong sense He was now inside me. It was a "wow, what was that?!?" type of moment I was not expecting. Now, in the years before that, I'm sure I'd prayed similar prayers as part of liturgies or other services, but this time was different. It was because God was drawing me toward Him, I responded, and He came into my life. Over the years, I've heard many similar testimonies. Again, the exact details are unique to the individual, but the general pattern of feeling somehow drawn toward God and spiritual things followed by a sudden sense of God's spiritual working in their life is common. Over the years, I've observed that when people talk about *not* having a sense of God's presence, it usually fits into two categories. The first is when people have not yet had that life-changing encounter yet. They follow all the recipes someone tells them to follow, but God has not yet actually done anything that they are aware of. The second is when people have had that life-changing encounter and it does not continue to feel the same as time goes on. They go through spiritual peaks and valleys. On a day by day basis, what is happening around them can distract them and make their spiritual feelings feel different, but over months and years, there is a consistent sense of God's presence that is there though on a day by day basis it maybe sometimes doesn't feel like it. Using standard Christian jargon, when God saves us, two things happen. The first is that we are forgiven. God doesn't take into account anything we'd done and what we are like and hold that against us anymore. The second is that He causes us to become a new creation; His Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us and change us. Being a Christian is primarily about this spiritual transformation that God does within us. It is not simply about trying harder, making more new year's resolutions to be a better person, hoping the good we do outweighs the bad, and being forgiven if it doesn't. It is primarily that as humans, we are simply incapable of doing everything we think is good. We can do part of what we think is good, but there remains things that we are in bondage and addicted to, and things that we cannot change no matter what we try. If being a Christian was simply about following some rules, anyone could do it if they tried hard enough. However, the issue is that all of us as humans have a fallen nature. There are some parts of ourselves we simply cannot control. This is why God puts a new nature inside of us that takes us beyond that bondage to a place of freedom and liberty. My sense of things is that most testimonies are about people's unique reactions and awareness of when God's Holy Spirit comes within and starts to change us. Those things that characterize Christian behavior such as fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, etc. See Galatians 5:22-23) are things that then start to naturally grow inside of us.
  13. GandalfTheWise

    Do We only want older Theologians here?

    I once made an observation at work about some long term colleagues. There are some people with 20 years of experience who've done nothing more than repeat their first year 20 times. Then there are those who've spent most of those 20 years learning, growing, and improving. When I hear someone has 20 years of experience at something, what runs through my head is wondering if that means they merely avoided being fired for 20 years or if they have a vast wealth of knowledge and experience and are actual experts. I've observed something similar in Christians. There are those who are constantly growing, learning, and maturing and striving ever onward. Then there are those relatively satisfied with where they are with minor improvements over time. There are those Christians for whom theology is a living breathing discipline of learning more and more about God. They see questions and challenges as opportunities for re-examining what they believe and coming to a deeper understanding of things. Then there are those Christians who find a "doctrinally correct" church and spend year after year honing their arguments and counter arguments about why their brand of Christianity is the best one. They see questions and challenges as opportunities to correct people and debate which brand of Christianity is correct. I think much of the frustration with "older theologians" is with those Christians who've fossilized and spent years honing their knowledge of arguments and counter-arguments over why their particular sect is the most correct one. It's not to say they are not good Christians and not growing spiritually. They are usually growing personally and walking with God. But their ability to teach and help younger Christians grow is heavily limited to indoctrination (rather than education), giving them recipes and directions to follow, trying to get them to become part of the correct denomination and church, and making sure that they have the right opinion on various debated issues among Christians. It's often mostly about telling younger Christians how they should act and what they should believe. There are then those "older theologians" who've been constantly pushing forward both in their spiritual lives and their theological understanding of various things for decades. For them, it is practicing the process of spiritual growth and walking with God that is most important. They trust God to shape and form young Christians' lives over time so they focus on teaching them how to learn and grow and walk with God. Theological dialogues among the fossilized old theologians often end up as arguments with curmudgeonly gray haired saints trying to keep the young whippersnappers in line and making sure everyone has the correct beliefs. Theological dialogues among the striving old theologians often become treasure troves of shared experiences and spiritual insights focused on how to better spiritually grow. Of course, few fit neatly into these categories of fossil or striver. There is a continuum between the two to some degree. However, I have observed a number of Christian teachers over the years that do tend towards one end or the other. To the extent a teacher is fossilized, their main focus is often on helping new Christians better fit into particular churches and denominations. To the extent a teacher is striving and growing, their main focus is often on helping new Christians learn how to spiritually grow.
  14. GandalfTheWise

    Christian advice

    The main thing is prayerfully consider what God wants you and your older sister to do. If you have an experienced pastor or Christian counselor you could talk to for advice, that might be helpful. The only caveat I'd give is that depending on your church and your parents relationships there, some caution might be needed about your parent's reaction to a pastor finding out about their problems behind their back. Perhaps if you have some friends in another church that you visit, or if your older sister goes to a different church, perhaps getting advice from a pastor or counselor in a different church might be the way to go. Speaking as one married for 30+ years, there are times when long term things just build up over time. Long term stress at work, unresolved frustrations with a spouse, pressure from various things, can just build up if unresolved. On top of that, add in the very real reality that there spiritual forces in the world that want to attack Christian marriages. Often Christian couples simply don't know where to go, who to talk to, or how to deal with things. Sadly, many Christians feel pressure to be forgiving, patient, tolerant, etc. and just let things keep building up and feeling guilty and an obligation to just make things work by being a good Christian. At some point, the load can become too much to bear alone. In addition, I'm assuming your parents are in their 40s or so. That's also an age where some people start to seriously look at their lives and wonder what they've gotten themselves into. Based on your description of a fairly normal family life previously (with no issues of drug abuse, violence, or anything like that mentioned), I doubt that personal safety seems to be an issue. For example, if your mom or dad were an alcoholic with a history of violent outbursts of temper, bringing up various issues could trigger a bad reaction. Based on how you've described your family, chances are that you and your older sister doing or saying something is unlikely to make things worse. There are already major problems that have probably been building for years that you were unaware of. Your parents are already hurting in some ways. If they get angry with you saying something, it's very likely a response of hurt and pain, not of anger toward you. Don't let an initial negative reaction affect you too much, if you were trying to clean and tend a deep and painful wound on one of their hands, chances are you'd get a few "Ouch!!!" comments and grimaces and groans because it hurts. When someone is injured, we take it for granted that not all their responses will be positive ones when we try to help and that we have to be patient and maybe weather some negative reactions. I note that you expressed yourself well in the OP. Writing a letter to them might be a possibility. It would give them a chance to process what you say a bit more than immediately reacting if you say it in person. Just make sure to phrase things carefully because without body language accompanying written things, it can sometimes be easy to misread the tone and miss a few meanings. Just express your concern, fears, and love for them. Also clearly express your desire that they do something to be healed and whole so that your family and home could be a place of peace, love, and tranquility. Sometimes a couple can work through things on their own, sometimes not. An experienced pastor or Christian counselor can often help a couple work through common problems. Chances are that what your parents are going through is similar to what many other Christian couples have struggled with. Be sure to express optimism and encouragement that they are capable of moving forward. To repeat the first line, the main thing is prayerfully consider what God wants you and your older sister to do.
  15. GandalfTheWise

    Ed Welch's take on Boundaries

    Up to this point, this thread is largely theoretical. Are there some particular situations (hypothetical or real) that could be discussed? I'd guess that many might find it easier to give feedback on particular concrete situations. There are healthy ways of setting up boundaries and there are unhealthy ways of setting up boundaries. Without setting up real or hypothetical situations to discuss, it's hard to give feedback about when boundaries are good and when they are not.