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About bryan

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  1. From other discussions and groups, I hear great things about Avast and Malawarebytes. If you're using Windows 10, some say the built in firewall and antivirus is as good as anything else. Using good blocking extensions on your web browser is also helpful. Ublock on Chrome or Firefox works well. While this may not apply to your situation, a few years ago I started using a Chromebook for 95% of my internet browsing. Chromebooks are relatively cheap compared to Windows laptops and since Google controls and updates the ChromeOS, there are no virus concerns and it basically takes care of itself. This won't work if you need to constantly use Windows specific applications, of course, but it's a nice option if it works for you.
  2. OneLight states this well and I believe it needs emphasis. In the past few months, I've seen one church dissolve, another split, community events organized by local pastors collapse due to in-fighting among the churches, and young families driven from churches by stances and interpretations of scripture that were both hypocritical and selective. One of the best ways for Satan to gain what he wants is to influence pastors and elders in churches, or key stakeholders in Christian communities online.
  3. Given what I've seen in corporate America across the past couple decades, and especially in the last ten, I'd say arphaxad is being appropriately cautious. Perception of anything wrong is what matters here, and what he's doing makes sense.
  4. There are some great stories and comments here with many good points. There also seems to be an underlying sentiment that if you haven't found fellowship at the churches you've tried out, the problem is likely with you. Picture someone 18 to 25 looking for answers about Christianity. They come to church with hard questions. Do we expect them to spend a year attending services, donating tithes, and volunteering before they are viewed as 'full members' and worthy of having someone actually listen? They don't wait, of course, and write off church as not useful. This sounds extreme, but I've heard specific cases of this with several friends. It concerns me here that there seems to be a view that while many churches have older congregations with fewer members each year, they generally aren't willing to look at their practices and see if anything needs adjustment or if new approaches might help. All need to be based on scripture, but looking at how far we've gone from home churches in the first few hundred years after Christ to the model of churches now, we've already created so many artificial processes and social dynamics that someone from 100AD would likely think we're not Christian at all. What could churches do better to foster fellowship? What do they do that makes it harder for that to happen?
  5. Tried allergy shots for many years until a nice ENT doctor told me it looks like I was in the 30% of the population where they don't do any good. Zyrtec does help, though, and there's a Costco generic version that sells for about $20 for a year supply. There's a lot of pharma company money pushing flu vaccines and the news seem to go in cycles about how 'now' is the most dangerous time ever for flu.
  6. I agree with Gary, but there seem to be at least two separate topics here. On one side, pastors running churches frequently are stressed and trying to much with very little. It's up to the elders and other members of each church to build fellowship and community within each church. Some do that well, others leave all that to the pastor who doesn't have the time and money to accomplish that, and even others have elders that resist the pastor and want to keep their church as a private club. Regardless of the social dynamics in the church, the pastor can still relay a good message and get new members saved. What happens after these people are saved is the other big topic. If new and mature Christians don't find a way to obtain answers to their questions and take the next steps, they leave. Are the pastor's messages repeating the same, simple concepts you are familiar with in the bible? Are most sermons about getting saved? Is the pastor extremely busy and hard to reach? Is the bible study structured like public school where you read some versed, answer some scripted answers about those verses to verify you actually read them, and that's it? If people already saved visit a church, how long do they need to quietly attend and volunteer for groups before they're allowed to ask tough questions and receive serious answers? In most, the answer seems to be 'too long'. Younger people are looking for answers about topics rarely mentioned in sermons and look elsewhere. Older people looking for the next steps as a Christian are more and more doing the same.
  7. Yes. You are definitely not alone. What you describe is one reason I gave up on organized religion until I got married and had a family. Even then, it took investigation of many churches to find one where we could feel like a part of it instead of something we happened to visit once a week. What did we end up with? A home church made up of people that had all given up on organized religion for various reasons. That worked well for several years, but some people moved away and others left because they decided their biblical views didn't match, so our fellowship is gone since January. We now attend a church where people are friendly, the pastor provides good messages, and all is based on biblical foundations. That said, I don't consider it a fellowship. Nobody knows us personally, we don't discuss anything beyond church and what you'd discuss with a colleague at work. Even at bible study, the discussion is very scripted and more like a public school than a discussion to find true intent and meaning in scripture. Hard topics that aren't easily resolved are avoided. Church, family, and friends are all separate things kept carefully in each silo. I'm trying to find a Christian fellowship. There are boys clubs around and many bible studies seem a bit like those with little actual caring and only a facade with nothing inside. Are most Christian based churches only facades and nothing like what churches as they are described in the bible? How does one find a Christian fellowship? Does one need to find a group of people inside a JW, Catholic, or other church and gain their confidence? Does one need to be willing to ignore seemingly non-biblical practices in order to be part of these fellowships? How about if they're obsessed with things they view as non-Christian and spend 50% of their time discussing how bad they are? A balance is needed, but to what point?
  8. I'd say no. Accepting Christ and being 'born again' is the first step. They're saved at that point, but they have just stepped onto a long path of learning about Christ. As with a young child, there's a lot to learn.
  9. There are good recommendations here already in ways to use biblical principals in how to live your life and have a closer relationship to Jesus. Practicing those principals in your community can provide external feedback to help you out as well. You could find a local Christian volunteer group that works together to help people in need in your community. For example, local groups in churches, Habitat for Humanity, and others do home repairs for people. This can be a good way to meet other Christians living a humble, thankful life. Work with groups like these is very rewarding and can be a good way to find fellow Christians trying to do the same things you're describing. Finding and working with these people can help you become accountable to implementing change. Some may become good friends, some mentors, and others een examples of what you should avoid doing. The important part is that is gives you a social group outside your family and job to grow how you implement the changes to your life you're seeing in scripture.
  10. Based on what you write here and not knowing any history or context, my first thought is to ask about your options right now for life and career. Are you in college and tied to a physical location for a while? Feel free to message me privately if you'd like to talk about mechanical keyboards (model M) or IT and telecom topics.
  11. Not at all. I find it interesting the church decided his wife and children should be banned from the church as well as himself.
  12. Does your church have open or 'soft' rules stating certain types of people may not attend your church? I've encountered some of this recently and would like to hear your thoughts. Here are a few specific examples I've experienced in the past year. Please note I'm not judging these practices, simply describing them to see what you think. In a small, home-based fellowship consisting of six families, some friends asked if they could attend as well. Some of the elders (aka fathers of the families) said one woman could not attend since she had remarried. It didn't matter that her previous husband was abusive and in jail for violent crimes. Remarrying was judged as wrong and thus she could not be with us. In that same home-based fellowship, another family was considered and it was rejected because their political views were judged to be too progressive. The existing members stated they could not tolerate such views in their fellowship. I'll note that fellowship dissolved earlier this year when some views on marriage, women, and homosexuality divided the group and several families decided to leave instead if using biblical discussion to reach a rational consensus. In exploring some local churches, I've attended a couple bible studies to get to know some of the members in a smaller group setting. The first one was from a large church and looked promising as they were using a Gruden apologetics book and just starting. In the first meeting, they reviewed the chapter topics, restated the key concepts, and asked for questions. One person asked for some detail about a concept and was rebuked with the group leader saying "We believe this concept in our church" and made it clear no discussion was welcome. Further questions were treated similarly, so after a few meetings I stopped attending since they apparently only wanted people who repeated the phrases from the book. Another local church had a board meeting to deal with a current member. This member had been there for several years and ran all the audio for their services. Last year, he had been convicted of viewing child pornography online, spent some time in jail, lost is job, and was now applying to be a night janitor at the church to clean things when nobody else was there. While he had not committed any crimes other than online viewing, they banned him and his family from the church. In the past few months, I've seen several churches make it clear people aren't welcome if they ask the wrong questions, are from the wrong social class, have remarried, and more. It is all frankly quite disturbing. Biblical examples constantly show we should help people in need, yet what I'm seeing lately is rejection of people searching for help.
  13. Preaching directly from the bible can be great if the pastor connects ideas you may not have noticed, adds cultural and custom info to clarify concepts, and shows how the scripture all can be tied together to provide a message. Afterward, you should be able to verify the message yourself through scripture and possibly some outside research. That seems to be done by a very small percent of pastors. A good pastor is like a good teacher. They connect ideas and verses to build a message you can understand and later verify yourself. Unfortunately, most sermons seem to be much like public school. They assume you don't read scripture so they pick a small set of verses to read, skip the context and back story, and then tell you what the words in those verses say. They then repeat what they say two or three times so a simple message takes ten or fifteen minutes. Surround that thirty minutes of hymns, a five minute speech about tithes, and then closing prayer and that's it. The end result is a 60 to 90 minute church service containing a three minute message. How do you find good pastors like the ones described above? I wish I knew.
  14. No, Dr. Mercola doesn't sell snake oil. I've been reading his articles for several years now and have never seen any sort of herbal 'cure all'. In fact, when I asked my co-workers (many who have PhDs in biochemistry and genetics) what they though of some of the articles, they generally agreed with his conclusions. After reading hundreds of his articles, I find that 95% of them to be quite informative. He generally starts with articles from other articles, comments on their conclusions, then gives references and places to read more. This is hardly what I would call 'snake oil'. Perhaps you're referring to the 5% of the articles he writes about various supplements, juicers, and other health practices. He reviewed juicers quite nicely and spoke highly of the nutritional value of fresh juices, then gave a link to what he thought was the best model to buy. He didn't sell the juicer, but he probably got a small referral fee from the link. I don't have a problem with this, personally. There are a few supplements he recommends that I don't think are worth their cost. Since the percentage of articles with good research and information is easily over 95%, I don't have a problem screening a few articles that sell something. I'm not related to his practice or get anything for writing this. I simply dislike seeing slander against what I find to be a good medical web site. There aren't many sites like Mercola where the opinion is backed up with facts and verifiable resources.
  15. After eight years in an interracial marriage, we still haven't noticed anything different in how people treat us. We're in the midwest of the US, though. It's not common in the midwest, but nobody seems to notice, which is nice. I did hear a special on NPR about discrimination and other issues with racial marriages in Virginia, so there may be local culture issues to consider in your area.