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Saturday, May 6, 2023

White Noise... reconsidered.

Years ago, I wrote a novel, or, a lot of one. I got to 60,000 words +/- but it never felt right. The beginning felt right, the middle felt empty, the end forced. It never really became much except a seed of an idea. 

Scene One:

Then my wife died, and I shelved the whole project. I'm fact, I shelved writing in general, creatively. 

It's been stirring again, but I don't feel good inside moving on yet. I feel I owed it to myself, and my late wife, to finish the first novel. Even if it's just a cathartic exercise. 

My new wife, a fellow widow, has been encourime to tap into my creative fun side, so, today, on a whim, I thought, maybe I can use ChatGPT as a sounding board to workshop the novel and start it over, with a better, more comprehensive, and more ties together story structure. 

It was a great chat, I have a ton of new ideas, and it helped me see how the whole story could fit together more naturally and coherently. 

The chat from today:


Chat Title:
Three-Act Story Structure.

Using the classic three act structure taught by km wyland at helping writers become what is a story structure

The classic three-act structure, as taught by K.M. Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors, is a common framework used in storytelling. It is a basic formula that helps writers organize their stories into a beginning, middle, and end.

Act 1: The Setup

The first act sets up the story and introduces the main character. This is where you establish the world of the story, the character's goals, and the conflict they will face. This act usually ends with the "inciting incident," which is the event that sets the story in motion.

Act 2: The Confrontation

The second act is the longest and most complicated part of the story. This is where the character confronts the main conflict, faces challenges, and experiences setbacks. The character must overcome obstacles and work towards achieving their goal. This act ends with the "climax," which is the moment of maximum tension or conflict in the story.

Act 3: The Resolution

The final act is where the story resolves. The character confronts the final conflict and achieves their goal, or they fail and must deal with the consequences. This act ends with the "resolution," which is the conclusion of the story.

Overall, the three-act structure is a useful tool for organizing a story and keeping it on track. By following this structure, writers can create a cohesive and satisfying narrative that engages readers from beginning to end.

I know that my story story starts with a disabled veteran who had gone through some experiments and is seeing things what he doesn't realize at first is that the things he's seeing are actually real spirits of the spirit world. He is eventually attacked by the people who did the experiments in attempt to keep them quiet. I think the story ultimately resolves when he meets the doctor in charge of the experiment and he is able to make peace with the spirit world whereas the doctor is not. The doctor ends up in an insane asylum and the veteran ends up working with other experimentes to help them unlock their powers. What would a story structure look like around this concept and what kinds of things might be missing from The Middle.

Based on the concept you have provided, here is a possible structure for your story, using the classic three-act structure:

Act 1: The Setup

Introduction of the disabled veteran and his experiences with the experiments
Establishment of the spirit world and the veteran's interactions with it
The inciting incident: the veteran is attacked by the people who conducted the experiments
Act 2: The Confrontation

The veteran is on the run, trying to uncover the truth about the experiments and why he was targeted
He meets other people who have undergone similar experiments and discovers their unique abilities
The veteran's powers grow stronger as he becomes more in tune with the spirit world
The climax: the veteran confronts the doctor in charge of the experiments and must make a choice about his own destiny and the fate of the other experimentees
Act 3: The Resolution

The veteran comes to terms with his powers and makes peace with the spirit world
The doctor is committed to an insane asylum, unable to cope with the consequences of his actions
The veteran begins to work with the other experimentees, helping them to control their abilities and navigate the spirit world
In terms of what might be missing from the middle, it could be helpful to consider specific obstacles and challenges that the veteran faces as he tries to uncover the truth and gain control of his powers. These could include encounters with other entities in the spirit world, conflicts with other experimentees who have different goals or motivations, and further attempts by the people who conducted the experiments to stop him. Additionally, the middle could benefit from moments of reflection and character development, as the veteran comes to terms with his experiences and learns to trust himself and his powers.

Exploring Act 1. A female reporter, Destiny, has been tracking down the edges of the story for a few years. She may even be the reason it's become dangerous to leave the experimentees alive? Maybe. She meets our veteran, Ash, in a small town under the pretense of doing a story on small towns in America, but she's actually there because he and one other man, a homeless man named Chester, were experimentees. But Ash doesn't remember being a test subject. He remembers volunteering for a military program, that led to his medical discharge, but his memory of the actual events is fuzzy, and he thinks it's resulted in hallucinations and nightmares. All he wants is to be "normal". What he doesn't realize yet, is that the hallucinations are actually beings from another dimension, that some religious people call spirits, and the dreams are actually memories trying to surface from the experiment. He uses prescription drugs to dull these affects, ineffectively. 
Brainstorming with me, What types of events could take place in the first act?

Here are some possible events that could take place in the first act of your story:

Destiny's investigation: We see Destiny doing research, interviewing people, and gathering information about the experiments and their participants. She may uncover clues that point her in Ash's direction.
Ash's daily life: We get a glimpse of Ash's current life, which is characterized by isolation, fear, and a desire to be "normal". We see how his experiences with the experiments have affected him, and how he copes with his symptoms.
Ash and Destiny's initial meeting: They meet in the small town where Ash lives, and strike up a conversation. Ash is initially guarded, but something about Destiny intrigues him. Destiny is friendly and curious, but is also hiding her true motives for being there.
Chester's appearance: Chester, the other experimentee, makes an appearance. He may be homeless, but he's streetwise and perceptive. He recognizes something in Ash that suggests they have a connection, and he starts asking questions.
The first encounter with the spirit world: Ash has a vivid hallucination or dream that involves a spirit. At first he dismisses it as a hallucination, but the experience lingers with him and starts to raise questions.
Ash's memories start to resurface: Ash starts to have brief flashes of memory, which are disorienting and confusing. He may try to ignore them at first, but they become more persistent and troubling.

Typically, the inciting event takes place early, something that shakes the protagonist from his current world and begins foreshadowing the story world. The first plot point takes place at the end of Act 1, forcing the protagonist beyond the point of no return. I'm my original draft, I toyed with an assassination attempt on Ash's life that forces him to find out what's happening. However, while the scene was fascinating, it left me stuck for "but now what"? in Act 2. 

What kinds of inciting events and plot points could we consider for Act 1 with Ash as a primary protagonist?

Here are some potential inciting events and plot points for Act 1 with Ash as the primary protagonist:

The discovery of Chester's death: Ash discovers that Chester has been killed, and starts to realize that there may be people trying to cover up their involvement in the experiments. This could spur him to take action and start investigating what happened to him and Chester.
Ash's first encounter with the people who did the experiments: Ash is confronted by the people who conducted the experiments, who may be trying to silence him or intimidate him into keeping quiet. This could be a scary and disorienting experience for him, and could motivate him to seek answers.
A breakthrough in Ash's memories: Ash has a vivid dream or flashback that gives him a significant piece of information about what happened to him during the experiments. This could be a turning point for him, as he realizes that his memories may be the key to understanding what's going on.
Destiny reveals her true intentions: Ash discovers that Destiny is actually a reporter investigating the experiments, and that she's been keeping her true intentions hidden from him. This could create a sense of betrayal and mistrust between them, while also pushing Ash to take action and help her uncover the truth.
The emergence of a new spirit: Ash has a powerful encounter with a spirit that seems different from any he's seen before. This could be a sign that something has changed, and that the spirit world may be more dangerous or unpredictable than he initially thought.
Ash is forced to make a choice: Ash is presented with a difficult decision, such as whether to trust Destiny or go it alone, whether to confront the people behind the experiments or keep his head down, or whether to continue using drugs to dull his symptoms or try to confront them head-on. This choice could have significant consequences for the rest of the story.

All but the last point were included in my original draft, which tells me I was going in the right direction, but your nuances gave me new ideas for those scenes. 

On the last bullet point, that could give me the middle Act 2 you suggested further back in this dialogue. What kind of decision could he be facing? It sounds like maybe the drugs dulling things may be a key factor. What if Destiny replaced his drugs with placebos to force him awake, out of desperation both to get her story, and the truth, but also because she's falling for him and she wants to save him?

That's an interesting idea! Here are a few possible decisions that Ash could be facing in Act 1 or Act 2:

Whether to continue using the drugs or try to face his symptoms without them. This could be a difficult decision for Ash, as the drugs may be the only way he can function in his day-to-day life, but they're also preventing him from fully understanding what's happening to him. Destiny's decision to replace his drugs with placebos could be the catalyst that forces Ash to confront this choice head-on.
Whether to trust Destiny or go it alone. As Ash begins to work with Destiny to uncover the truth about the experiments, he may start to develop feelings for her. But if he finds out that she's been deceiving him by replacing his drugs with placebos, he may begin to question her motives and wonder if he can trust her. This could lead him to choose between working with her to uncover the truth or going it alone.
Whether to confront the people behind the experiments or keep his head down. As Ash gets closer to the truth, he may start to feel like he's in over his head. He may be torn between trying to take down the people who did the experiments, and trying to protect himself and his loved ones from their retribution. This could be a difficult decision for Ash, as it may require him to put himself in danger in order to do the right thing.
Whether to confront his memories or try to suppress them. As Ash starts to remember more about the experiments, he may begin to feel overwhelmed by the traumatic memories. He may have to decide whether to try to suppress these memories in order to preserve his mental health, or whether to confront them head-on in order to uncover the truth. This could be a difficult decision for Ash, as it may require him to confront painful and uncomfortable memories in order to get to the bottom of what happened to him.

Being former special forces, USAF, he has both the former drive to stare down this challenge, but also the defeated ego from years of what he thinks is PTSD to doubt his ability to even live a life... If he realizes it may not be PTSD, and he's not actually going crazy, this may force him to take the plunge into the adventure!

Yes, that could be a powerful motivator for Ash to finally take action and confront the truth about his experiences. If he realizes that what he's been experiencing is not just PTSD, but something much more complex and sinister, it could give him the push he needs to take on this new challenge.

Additionally, the fact that Ash is a former special forces member could give him a unique set of skills and resources that he can use to his advantage in the story. Perhaps he has contacts in the military or the intelligence community that could help him uncover information about the experiments, or maybe he has specialized training that will come in handy as he faces off against the people responsible for the experiments.

Ultimately, the decision to confront his past and seek the truth could be a turning point for Ash's character. It could force him to reevaluate his entire identity and what he thought he knew about himself, and it could be the key to unlocking his true potential as a protagonist.

Now. What if Destiny had her own POV in the story , with her own three act structure... What would her inciting event and first plot point be, that coincide but either nuance or contrast Ash's?

That's an interesting idea! If Destiny had her own POV and three act structure, her inciting event could be when she first learns about the experiments and becomes intrigued by them. Maybe she comes across a small mention of the experiments in a news article or hears about them from a source, and she becomes determined to uncover the truth.

Her first plot point could be when she meets Ash and realizes that he is a key piece of the puzzle. Maybe she initially approaches him under the guise of doing a story on small towns in America, but she quickly realizes that he has a deeper connection to the experiments. This realization could force her to make a choice: continue down the safe path of doing a standard human interest story or pursue the risky path of investigating the experiments and potentially putting herself in danger.

Alternatively, her first plot point could be when she faces pushback from her editor or her colleagues for pursuing the story. Maybe they think it's too risky or too niche, and they want her to focus on more mainstream topics. This pushback could force her to make a choice: abandon the story and stick to safer topics, or continue pursuing the story at all costs.

By having Destiny's own POV and three act structure, you could create a rich, layered story that explores the experiences of both protagonists in depth. It could also allow for interesting contrasts and comparisons between their perspectives and motivations.


Free Research Preview. ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. ChatGPT May 3 Version


Sunday, March 26, 2023

Reconstructing #Deconstruction is a bitter sweet endeavor...

Reconstructing #Deconstruction is a bitter sweet endeavor...

If you've grown up under modern western American Christianity, or get introduced to it in your late teens/early twenties and only get exposed to a few similar traditions; and then you begin to suspect that just about everyone you've met is missing something vitally important... It's unsettling. 

Cognitive dissonance grows as you hear claims that don't seem to align with the texts they claim to be based upon. 

So if you were wise, you dug into the texts yourself. 

But an even smaller group moved passed deconstruction... To reconstruction. 

We did not abandon everything.

We crushed it all into it's core essences, washed away two millennia of dust, rust, and accumulated impurities...

I'm among those who have looked to find the essentials left to us by the biblical narratives, and through the Holy Spirit, began search for anything he's done in his body world-wide since those early days, and see Him at work in them, despite our imperfect understandings. 

If you did, you found the biblical narratives simply do not support the claims of Augustine, Calvin, Luther, or almost anything modern western Christianity claims, at least not the way it's usually presented.

You found out that it's nearly impossible to align the biblical narratives to a Left or Right narrative. Being a Republican isn't better than being a Democrat, or vs vsa. 

You found out that the biblical narrative does NOT teach a "young earth creationism".

You found out that Yeshua (Jesus) AND Sha'ul (Paul) were both Torah Observant Jewish Rabbis to their last day, neither "abolished the law", and yet the work of Rabbi Sha'ul based on the life mission of Yeshua did invite gentiles into the family of Yahweh without having them become Jewish by identity markers such as circumcision or Kosher lifestyles.

You found out that Baptism and The Lord's Supper have to do with corporate acknowledgement of this new mission, and not (mostly, firstly) about personal sin. 

You find out that Yeshua isn't trying to get humans off earth to a place called heaven, but he's working to being the Kingdom of Heaven TO earth, both now in this reality and eventually fully when he brings Kingdom of God TO earth at new creation. 

You found out that he's not coming in a "rapture" to take people away from earth but we're going to meet him in the air to welcome the returning King TO earth, to join us HERE as the King, and we get new physical bodies and renewed physical earth.

The writers of Second Temple Judaism called this hope: New Creation and The Day of the Lord.

So you begin #Deconatructing the truth claims you were given. 

And you take Yeshua seriously when he said the Holy Spirit (not me, you, or any other human leader) would lead his people into all truth after he left us...

And then if you take that seriously, you appreciate His work in history.


As I type this, I'm in a modern American church, listening to music played with excellence as people undergo a baptism as they understand it. 

Sure, they're probably over estimating the individual importance of this ancient Jewish purity ritual, and under estimating it's group collective corporate importance... 

They don't likely understand the ritual for what it actually meant to the first JEWISH followers of Rabbi Yeshua, or later to the gentile members of the early Jewish sect called The Way, or what Rabbi Sha'ul (Paul) told his gentile converts that it meant... 

They think it's about guilt rather than about purity. 

They think it's about making them guilt free, vs what it actually is, a way to become purified to enter The Presence in sacred space.

But they sort of get it... they basically understand, mostly, that:

1. God's got a Kingdom 

2  The nation's are invited into that Kingdom. It's no longer JUST for Israel, though it remains "to the Jew first, and THEN the gentile".

3. Anything that would keep a people or person from entering The Presence is now removed as an obstacle. We have been purified for the Divine Presence.

4. Baptism represents the declaration of joining the family of God. 

5. Baptism represents a death to the world's ways and a being made alive to The Kingdom of God, and hope of the Return of the King, and a New Creation.

There are many nuances in those that require a reorientation and redefining for a true biblical understanding, over the more common ways those themes are told. 

But the core exists. 

Here 2,000 years after the birth of this family of God, people all over the world are celebrating this family and demonstrating the addition of new family members by this Jewish symbol of purity rights... A symbol from a small Palestinian town called Jerusalem is now being repeated world wide... That's worth celebrating, even if it's not well understood by many (most) of the practitioners of the symbol. 

They sing to the King, and celebrate the ability to enter The Presence without having to travel to the Temple in Yerusalay'im (Jerusalem).

These things cannot be easily dismissed, even if they are imperfectly understood or articulated by the participants. 

And maybe it's time to take my personal reconstruction, and begin to work it out publicly.

Maybe it's time to walk people through it, especially those who can't spend the equivalent of a Master's degree in Bible working it out. 

Maybe it's time for me to use my gift of making complicated things simple, and help people who feel that tension walk through deconstruction AND reconstruction. 


But at the very least, it's time to stop criticism of these people who are doing the best they can with their imperfect understanding. It's time to embrace what's good about this expression of The Kingdom, and not focus on what's broken about it.

Darrell Wolfe, storyteller.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Inerrancy... !?


Inerrancy is a dead end road, that has no purpose or benefit. That is a summary of Tom's (NT Wright) response to the topic in this podcast. It was a concept born illegitatemly from the enlightment rationalism movements of the 1700-1800s. 

That got me thinking, is the American Church good for anything? Like, the longer I deconstruct modern western American Christianity, look into the Bible for what it is and not what we tried to make it, and connect with the living-breathing-vibrant history of the Bible and various worldwide Christian mvoements for 2,000 +/- years... 

The more I wonder if we're the ones who need to be "saved", from ourselves.


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Wolfe Bible Institute (?)

My new wife, Jen, is constantly proding me to envision a school of sorts, called (working title):

Wolfe Bible Institute
~ Institute for biblical studies and Jesus Communities ~

I'm thinking more along the lines of:

The Community Center
Coffee & Community 

But maybe the second funds the first? 

While I'm not sure about the name, the general vision is something I've carried for decades, at least since 2003, probably earlier. 

In 2003, my friend James and I walked the campus of the church I grew up in, and prayed revival over that space. We both had visions of a multi campus facility there that would impact not just the area but the world... 

In 2022, I'm less inclined to believe that specific campus is the home for the facility, nor even that I'll ever see such a facility in my lifetime... But if I could plant a seed for it, if I could start a community and maybe someone from that community will go on to do it... Or maybe even if I just faithfully served 10-20 people, that would be enough? I don't know. I've really scaled down my expectations since life took a lot of turns since those early days. 

Throughout the years, the vision has grown with me, matured with me, scaled way back from grandiose visions of greatness (multi million square feet of buildings on multiple acres) to something more possible (maybe renting space in a small meeting room in the back of some business or even local library once a month). 

But the highlights are pretty consistent. 

* Teach people to read and study the Bible in ways traditional American church usually doesn't. Think: Dr Michael Heiser, NT Wright, Tim Mackie.

* Teach people life skills (balancing their budget or bank accounts, cooking healthy food, basic vehicle maintenance). 

* Teach people basic human skills (communicate with spouse, kids, and coworkers, resolve conflict, establish healthy boundaries, clarify thinking, break stronghold cycles, integrated emotions...). Referring people to professional licensed counseling as needed. 

* Provide community in ways that matter. 
-Not just events for people to attend, but spaces made and purposefully created to forge lifelong friendships, where people come alongside one another to do life together, where men mentor men, women mentor women, where we all come together to celebrate a marriage or mourn a passing. 
-NOT the artificial "community/home groups where people meet to have mini church services but never actually connect with one another in meaningful ways. 
- One way of seeing this is having meetings that envite real sharing, like Al-Anon did for me. 
- Another thought is just making space for this by having different spaces (multiple types of seating for different preferences, pool tables library knooks, etc.). 

In part because of the need for spaces that look nothing like traditional church, and in part because I strongly feel it should be a source of giving TO the community and not taking from it, I don't want donations at all. 

We'll fund raise donations for local non-profits but only those that provide definite and specific services to the community. No churches or para churches. But food banks, shelters, scholarships, education, etc. Any group giving must meet a specific need felt by the secular (non church going) community at large. The organizations can be religious/Christian in nature, but must meet a specific need. 

Funding comes from providing actual products and services to the local (external and internal) community. Coffee Shop, Cafe, (?)... Something tied to the community that simultaneously offers the types of spaces talked about in the community section above. 

If it grew into the larger older vision, it would include mechanic services where student mechanics do the work. Simultaneously training people for a profession while offering the community a discounted service. 

Or a culinary school with students operating a restaurant... 

And similar training=new funding opportunities types of endeavors. 


But that's the vision I felt I had to write down since I couldn't sleep. 

Shalom! ,שׁלוֹם 


What do we teach? 

What IS the Bible anyway?
How was it constructed?
How was it used/read?
How was it copied and kept?
Introduction to OT & NT

Old Testament Survey
Pentateuch (Gen-Deut) Books of Moses 
Genesis 1-11
Genesis 12-end
Major v Minor is size not importance

The wisdom writings that reflect on the history of Israel.

New Testament Survey
The Gospels
Ancient Biographies 
The Life of Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus) HaMeshiach (The Anointed One, The Christ). 
The Life of Rabbinic Disciples (The Twelve, the 170, and others Jesus touched).
The Jewish and Roman backdrop to these stories
Rabbinic Traditions (Sewing Pearls) and the role of Parables

Second Writings
Epistles – Working out what it meant to be a Jewish Messianich movement in the Roman empire with Mixed Jewish/Gentile followers. 
The Jewish and Roman backdrop to these stories

Intro to the Apocalypse 
The Apocalypse as a Genre and other examples of the genre
The literary structure and story arch of The Revelation of Jesus to John
The Seven Letters
The Apocalypse Arch – Rev 3-22
Intro to the "Old Testament" (Hebrew Scripture) backgrounds and allusions to John's writing
The Message of Revelation (regardless of one's view of eschatology)
Daniel and Ezekiel in Revelation
The possible impacts of good exegesis on Eschatology 

What is a Worldview?
What is your Worldview in the modern era?
What was the Worldview of the Ancient Near East (ANE), Atiquity, Rome, and the Biblical Authors? How are they similar and different? 
What does it mean to think like the biblical authors, how might that differ from the traditions imposed on them by modern western Christianity?
In what ways do historical Christians like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Tyndale, Wesley, Graham, C.S. Lewis, and others share a common worldview and in what ways do each differ as a result of their unique background, experiences, time and place in history? 

How do we interpret the Bible? 
What is Exegesis and Hermeneutics? 
Various approaches that have been applied historically? 
How do various approaches color or tint the way we see the text? 
Are some approaches more valid than others (wrong, right, or just different)?

Judeo-Christian History
Jewish History 
Adam to Abraham, Abraham to Exile, Exile to 1A.D., 1-200 A.D., 200-1800 A.D., 1800-2022 A.D.

Jewish Messianic Movements - 
1-200 A.D., 200-1800 A.D., 1800-2022 A.D.

Non-Jewish/Gentile Jesus Movements
Jesus Movement 1-100 A.D. 
Jesus Movement 100-400 A.D. 
Catholic Christianity, Greek Orthodox Christianity, and Other movements 300-1500 A.D. Tertulian, Augustine, Jerome, Constantine, etc.
Protestant Christianity 1500-1800 – Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Gutenberg, Tyndale, 
Protestant Christianity 1800-1900 - 

American Centric Christianity
Protestant Christianity 1900-2022 – Pentecostal & Charismatic Movements
Protestant Christianity 1900-2022 – Mainline Denominations
Protestant Christianity 1900-2022 – Non-Denominational Movements

Non-American Centric Christianity
Protestant Christianity 1900-2022 – Non-American Movements

Theology – Theos (God) ology (study) - The Study of God
Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, "Christian", Messianic, theological studies
The various ways different traditions have viewed God and the Bible
To the Jew First / Mixed Jewish/Gentile Family of God

Practical Application – Life Transformation
How people change
Two Trees
Parable of the Acrobat
How the Bible changes us, and how it doesn't. 
Human Needs
Stronghold Cycles
Human Communication Emotional/Fact Over/Covert
Behavior vs Identity
Get Curious about That

Practical Application - Study of specific books and groupings of Books 

Pentateuch (Gen-Deut) Books of Moses 
Genesis 1-11
Genesis 12-end
Major v Minor is size not importance

The wisdom writings that reflect on the history of Israel.

The Gospels
Ancient Biographies 
The Life of Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus) HaMeshiach (The Anointed One, The Christ). 
The Life of Rabbinic Disciples (The Twelve, the 170, and others Jesus touched).
The Jewish and Roman backdrop to these stories
Rabbinic Traditions (Sewing Pearls) and the role of Parables

Second Writings
Epistles – Working out what it meant to be a Jewish Messianich movement in the Roman empire with Mixed Jewish/Gentile followers. 
The Jewish and Roman backdrop to these stories

Going deeper Apocalypse 
The Apocalypse as a Genre and other examples of the genre
The literary structure and story arch of The Revelation of Jesus to John
The Seven Letters
The Apocalypse Arch – Rev 3-22
The "Old Testament" (Hebrew Scripture) backgrounds and allusions to John's writing
The Message of Revelation (regardless of one's view of eschatology)
Daniel and Ezekiel in Revelation
The possible impacts of good exegesis on Eschatology 

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Should I take that opportunity?

What does it mean to follow God? 

I've only ever heard one thing from God clearly, and it took me thirteen years to figure out I ran the wrong way with it. 

Most of what I've felt strongly about from God was just that.... A feeling. An inlikling. An unction. A gut check. 

One of the best phrases I learned in counseling was "get curious about that". 

One of the best things I've learned from my new wife, Jen, is that God's more interested in who I am becoming not what I can do for him; therefore, I should do whatever I feel less to do, it's for me. 

Go to school, or don't.

Take the job, or don't.

Start the business, or don't.

Take the opportunity, or don't. 

Just follow the joy and the curiosity. 

It's not about accomplishments or mission. It's about becoming more genuinely you, in Him. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Class Assignment: Final Paper - LEADERSHIP: LOVE – CHARACTER – STRENGTHS


 Table of Contents
THESIS 2 LEADERSHIP IS LOVING OTHERS TO FULLNESS 3 The problems with “leadership” as usually presented 3 Character 4 Love 6 Strengths-Focus 7 LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT 9 LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES & GROWTH STRATEGY 11 Strategic Position of Opportunity and Influence 11 CONCLUSION 13 BIBLIOGRAPHY 14 ADDENDUM | LEADERSHIP ASSESSMENT SUMMARIES 15 Vales Clarification: 15 Northouse Assessments: 15 ADDENDUM | PHILOSPHY OF MINISTRY 16 Darrell’s LIFE Mission Statement 16 Ministry is Imaging Yahweh to others at all times 16 Being an Image Bearer for God: 16 Being an Image Bearer to the de-churched and disenfranchised (irreligious Christianity): 16 My Ministry Philosophies: What and why I do what I do. 17 Transformational Teaching: I teach them to think differently and seek freedom. 17 Transformational Community: Building community through relationship (doing life together) 17 Wolfe Rules (Gibb's Style Rules) – My curated truisms to living well. 17

How one defines leadership tends to direct how they systematize, categorize, and discuss the topic. I find that many of the topics authors use to discuss “leadership” have to do more with charisma and capacity than character. While discussing the ways one takes up physical or experiential space, uses their organizational skills, has some “it factor”, creates a vision, establishes tasks and accomplishes goals have some value, they make up together a sub-set of issues in regards to leadership. Essentially, these types of investigations are the results of leadership (secondary); but not the primary drivers of leadership. As Scazzero observed, good leadership requires an emotionally healthy leader.1
As I reflect on 41 years of serving leaders (and leading teams) and a stack of leadership texts (including the texts for this course), I find that three primary drivers are the ones I use to evaluate myself and any leader who seeks to earn my loyalty. In my experience, Character, Love, and Strengths-Focus are the core elements of leadership that will determine the success the organization will experience under that leader. The three primary drivers that get my attention are defined as:
 Character – The unseen realm of the heart (usually worked out {or not} in the development stages).
 Love – The seen realm of the heart in action.
 Strengths – The intersection of passion and talent (both in the leader and the team) that
create the “Sweet Spot” for synthesis and fusion of teamwork and productivity.
My key-theme to drive the entire discussion is: “Loving Others to Fullness”.2 This paper will
also define (as a result of these three core drivers and key theme) the topics of leadership development, and my competencies and growth strategies.
 1 Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World (Zondervan, 2015), Leader-Transforming-Transform/dp/0310525365/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=.
2 Jennifer V. Nelson, n.d., Credit to Jen for this phrase.

The problems with “leadership” as usually presented
In my experience, good leadership has been harder to identify, define, and quantify than bad leadership. It’s much easier to bring to mind examples of bad leadership at a moment’s notice than what examples of what leadership should be. Still, there are diamonds in the rough (to quote Disney’s Aladdin) which we can each conjure to mind as examples of doing it right. The most recent example of “doing it right” came to me recently. As my girlfriend told the local pastor about a young woman who needed assistance, he immediately agreed to help. Without ever having met her or qualifying her through official forms, he gathered two men and met us at her home to clean it in preparing for her coming home from the emergency room. This was love in action.
Morse identified my struggle with the subject of leadership in the punchline of her opening story; “He stopped right in front of me, leaned in close and carefully said, "I am the speaker. You are a workshop presenter." With that, he walked away.”3 In that example, she showed a so-called “leader” who lacked character and love, which are the primary hallmarks of a good leader. Too often, we promote men and women to these positions because they have skills that the “organization” can use to be “successful” which is usually defined as growing the membership and increasing the giving (money). Morse takes it further, observing that in some organizations gender may play a role in pastoral placement above “leadership ability or preaching skills”.4 In highlighting one error, she inadvertently highlights another. The idea that leadership ability or preaching skills would play any role (primary or secondary) in the placement of a pastor is itself an issue with the way the modern church is structured. Leadership ability or preaching skills have no direct correlation with one’s heart to shepherd individual hearts. I have served under countless “pastors” with high degrees of leadership ability and preaching skills that I would never choose to serve again. I have served others who seemed clumsy or inept but won my loyalty.
3 MaryKate Morse, Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2008), Kindle Locations 143-144.
4 Morse, Kindle Location 868.
 Morse also captured the essence of what I think marks a good leader in her statement; “power used well is redemptive”.5 In order to use one’s power redemptively, they must be operating within their wheelhouse and doing so within a developed character and action-oriented love walk. When a leader is ill-suited for the position, even with character and love in place, their impact will be minimal.
In “Good to Great”, Collins observes that Level Four leaders are often seen as having charisma and vision, with ability to lead a team toward the vision and accomplish big results.6 Images of Steve Jobs and his whirlwind of power come to mind. He started a company and made bold decisions that lead them to the top of the marketplace. After being ousted from his own company, the company sagged under the bean-counters left behind to “lead”. In a last-ditch effort, Jobs was brought back to rescue the company, and the iPhone was born revolutionizing the tech industry a second time. But in the wake of his death, Apple is again on uncertain terms. Organizations lead by Level Four leaders were identified by Collins as having unstained success for the simple fact they relied on this single charismatic leader. My friend Brent calls churches led by these types of individuals “Personality Lead Ministries”. In contrast, Level Five leaders take up almost no space in the public eye. Very few ever know their name, even within the organization. They quietly work behind the scenes, taking all blame to themselves, deflecting all credit to their “team”. Without exception, every company studied by Collins that operated with sustained success had a Level Five leader at the helm.
Time and again, examples of lack of character fill the headlines and diminish Christian reputation in the modern west. Priests covering up child abuse, yet another celebrity pastor retires early (or dies) as sex-scandals come to light, money motives taint the community discussion, and arrogant leaders are fired (with podcasts made to discuss the matter)7 but then promoted back to leadership in another state by yet
5 Morse, Kindle Location 512.
6 James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap--and Others Don’t., 1st ed (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2001).
7 Christianity Today, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill,” accessed February 8, 2022,
 more celebrity pastors.
My CEO, at Wells Fargo, was warned by me and countless others about the mishandling of customers for years before the news broke in 2016. We worked to make the company what it was meant to be on paper (the written vision) while he ignored our cries for help. Then, when the news finally broke, and the company plummeted, the man who lead the ship into disaster jumped with his golden parachute. In a similar fashion, an acquaintance from the local coffee shop tells me the story of how McDonald Douglas took over Boeing and changed all the safety protocols. They went from having a 5-year, 10-year, 20-year, and 40-year vision for new innovation and safety to having a quarterly profit motive and cost- cutting initiatives. In less than a generation, they managed to produce an atmosphere in which design flaws went from being investigated and aggressively repaired to tucked away and hidden, leading the deaths of over 400 people as planes they knew were unsafe kept flying.
Meanwhile, employees, customers, church members, community members, and the “least of these” go on being taken advantage of by these so-called leaders because they were “talented”, “skilled”, had “charisma”, were “such a good preacher”, and other excuses for perpetuating the system. Character has become the most valuable and least available asset in modern western leadership (inside and outside the church). But character will only be developed when the motivation is God-Driven (rather than Self- Driven). Character is often a hidden aspect of the heart, but it is seen or demonstrated through the second component: Love.

Dunn observes that “In different ways, the (all three) Synoptic evangelists stress the importance of both commandments (Deut 6:7; Lev 19:18)”.8
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength’. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mk 12:29–319
Matthew the gospel author follows this observation by stating that “on these two hang all the law and prophets” (Mat 22:40). In other words, there is essentially no act of human will on earth that is not affected by either the practice of or lacking the practice of these two commands.
In many ways, Northouse hits on the theme of love as a core element of good leadership without ever quite identifying the word “love”. An overview of the Table of Contents shows examples such as “establishing a constructive climate”, “embracing diversity”, “listening to out-group members”, “managing conflict”, and “addressing ethics in leadership”.10 The thematic link for each of these chapters was “Love God, Love Folks, Don’t be a Donkey’s Butt”.11 Morse identifies this love component when she talks about Second Impressions, in which she shares that she made a snap judgment about a conference attendee and fellow leader that turned out to be wrong upon speaking with her.12 They are friends today because she allowed room for her first impression to be challenged.
8 Nicholas Perrin, Jeannine K. Brown, and Joel B. Green, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (DJG), IVP Bible Dictionary Series (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2013), Pg 511-J. D. G. Dunn, “Law,”- & off=22,
9 The Lexham English Bible (LEB), Fourth Edition, Logo Bible Software, Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.) (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), Mk 12:29–31,
10 Peter Guy Northouse, Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice, Fifth edition (Los Angeles: SAGE, 2021).
11 Nelson, interview, (paraphrase of a friend’s way of stating the divine commands). 12 Morse, Making Room for Leadership, Chapter 7 Second Impressions.
 Morse identifies an example of Loving God first as a way to Love Folks when she discusses her friend Tom who “takes every Monday off and allows no interruptions. This is his Sabbath”.13 Loving God always comes before Loving Folks. We must come to our interactions with other humans full; and this fullness overflows into the lives of those around us. If we do not make this priority in our lives, we find ourselves empty and unable to give what we no longer have to those around us. Building boundaries (as defined by Drs. Cloud & Townsend) into our lives carves out space for putting on our own oxygen masks first, before helping others.14 By loving God first (filling ourselves with His love for us) we then go into the world with our “cup overflowing” so we can love others into fullness with that overflow (Psalms 23).
If we have developed the character to undergird our leadership and the love-walk (vertical and horizontal) to sustain our leadership, then we finally come to a place of understanding how and where our leadership can be best utilized. Tom Rath, in Strength’s Finder 2.0, discussed the results of 40-years of strengths studies. They found that if individuals who were not gifted at something were given extra training, they could improve at a new skill marginally. Meanwhile, individuals who were already gifted for a particular skill set who were given the same amount of extra training began to increase their skill set exponentially. Upon this foundation, they make the claim that “you cannot be whatever you want to be, but you can be a lot more of who you already are”.15 By studying one’s strengths, personality preferences, and motivations, an individual can learn to spend their time focusing on the areas in which they will provide the most value for their team or organization. Strengths-Based leaders will use a variety of assessments and observations to ascertain the God-given gifts in their team and love them to fullness, bringing out the very best of what God has put in them to do.
It is from this place we find that Clinton provides a valuable insight: “God is quietly, often in unusual ways, trying to get the leader to see that one ministers out of what one is. God is concerned with
13 Morse, Kindle Locations 1071-1073.
14 Henry Cloud and John Sims Townsend, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Updated and expanded [edition], Boundaries (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017).
15 Tom Rath and Don Clifton, Strengths Finder 2.0 (New York: Gallup Press, 2007).
 what we are” and he defines this as “Phase IV will have this “you-minister-from-what-you-are” emphasis.”16 Primarily, God is forming the character of Yeshua in each of us, and he is far more interested in that process than in anything we can “do” for Him. Carmen Imes added insights into this process by showing us that when we were made “in God’s image” he calls us to be “Image Bearers”, which is the real emphasis in the second commandment “you shall not bear the image of Yahweh in vain” (Deut 5:11).17
Going beyond this universal call to Image Yahweh to his good world, we each have individual talents, gifts, abilities, and passions. God forms these in us through a combination of nature and nurture, and they converge to become a unique fingerprint of Yahweh inside each of us. Rath states in the Strengths’ Finder 2.0 introduction that the likelihood of anyone on earth having the exact same 34- Strengths in the exact same order is so astronomical that it’s possible that nobody who has ever lived has had the same order as you. That’s just one assessment. There are many ways of seeing the unique fingerprint of God in a person. When I work with individuals, I will start with the 16Personalities and Strength’s Finder 2.0 as a baseline and begin the process of helping them see the things God has put inside of them.18 I did find Northouse’s inclusion of Strengths Finder 2.0 plus some new assessments I did not know about helpful, I will be trying these other two to see if I would add them to my arsenal.19 Although, I find it ironic that he uses Steve Jobs as an example of a good leader (Northouse, 140). Jobs was a Level Four leader (in Collins’s paradigm) and as such a cautionary example, not an example to emulate. Jobs is an example of the types of leaders we need to stop promoting to leadership (both in secular and ministry settings). He is an example of someone who’s Character and Love-Walk were underdeveloped so that his Strength’s (while temporarily successful) ultimately caused burnout in his
16 J. Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development, Rev. ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2012), 27.
17 Carmen Joy Imes, Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2019).
18 Rath and Clifton, Strengths Finder 2.0; 16Personalities (NERIS® Model Based on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) (©2011-2022 NERIS Analytics Limited), accessed February 26, 2022,
19 Northouse, Introduction to Leadership, 127–43.
 personal and professional life, and lead to his own death. Nobody should look to Jobs as an example of a Leader. Mother-Theresa would be a much better fit.
After reviewing the key themes of leadership (Character, Love, and Strengths), we move on to the leadership development process. While I find Clinton’s timeline structure/definitions somewhat arbitrary, I do see its usefulness in describing a generalized flow of life-events as one matures in their walk with Yahweh.20
In the Sovereign Foundations stage, God is working through a variety of experiences to shape the image of Yeshua into the heart of the leader. These experiences may not seem like training to the individual as they are being experienced. While school may be involved, it is often through character tests, interactions with other people, early jobs and hobbies, and other unconventional “training” interactions that Yahweh works his heart into the heart of emerging leaders. Clinton tells us that “Leadership is a lifetime of lessons. It is not a set of do-it-yourself correspondence courses that can be worked through in a few months or years.”21
As a look back at my life at 41-years old, I see experiences in a variety of different jobs training me to see the bigger picture, accept that the only constant is change, see that people matter more than productivity, see that giving one’s life to any entity (corporate or ministry) is a fool’s errand and instead one should seek to Love God, Love Folks, Don’t be Rude, and look for ways to keep those in balance. After almost loosing my marriage, kids, and even my life to a nervous breakdown in 2016, I refuse to allow undue stress to entre my life. I will do my best between 8:00-5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. I will not take on burdens my shoulders were not meant to bear. I will look for ways to add value to my environment and put loving my coworker into fullness over “getting things done”.
20 Clinton, The Making of a Leader. 21 Clinton, 33–34.
 Using the definitions provided by Clinton in “The Generalized Timeline”, I see a mixture of Ministry Maturing, Life Maturing, and Convergence in my current state.22 Under Phase III, Ministry Maturing, I have become aware of my gift sets and learned the hard way how people matter more than tasks or feelings of inadequacy. During these years I learned about self-deception and the need to be “out of the box” towards people.23 I learned that “how something happens is more important to God than what happens” and an emphasis on “identity” over “behavior”.24
In many ways, I feel at the end-stage of this phase. Under Phase IV, Life Maturing, I believe I am far down the path of learning is more important to be “with God” than work for him.25 I have a strong sense of who am I am in Him as I have experienced more isolation and crises than I ever thought possible, which drove me to seek Him and only Him. The sense that “ministry flows out of being” is well engrained in me.26 The one thing that is still underdeveloped from this category as he defined it us “using spiritual gifts in a ministry that is satisfying”. In some ways, this has started. After many years of resistance, I am finally in Bible school. As I have pivoted further and further into His will regarding my studies, I feel portions of my inner life that were long dormant coming alive for what feels like the first time. However, professionally I still work for a job a don’t enjoy as much (although its better than any previously). I am not working vocationally or publicly in anything resembling “a ministry that is satisfying”. Behind the scenes, however, I am beginning to see the fruit of the studies and investment in my dialogues with folks one-on-one. I see the lightbulb go off for them as I use the particular gifts I have for shedding light on seemingly difficult spiritual topics. As Clinton defines the term, I suppose I am not in “Convergence” practically. However, internally, I have begun to reach a sense of convergence. It is as though the seemingly disparate and chaotic lessons of my life have begun to congeal into a singular focus and life-message. So in that sense, the Convergence process has started its early roots.
22 Clinton, 37.
23 Arbinger Institute, ed., Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box, 2nd ed, A BK Life Book (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2010).
24 Bob Hamp, Think Differently Lead Differently: Bringing Reformation in Your Heart, Your Home and Your Organization, 2014, 12; 92.
25 Skye Jethani, With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011). 26 Clinton, The Making of a Leader, 39.
Strategic Position of Opportunity and Influence
As I’ve learned the ancient biblical languages, I’ve found that this may have been overstating the data. However, I once heard someone define the Greek word “τόπος (topos)” as “a strategic position of opportunity and influence” and it stuck with me ever since.27 I even named a business after this concept. One of my life-themes is to help others find their own strategic position of opportunity and influence. I have coached many people through finding their path (either in life as a whole or through a particular decision). With that concept in mind, I now consider what the coming season(s) look like for me as a Leader.
As a Widower, I am leading two teenage boys who lost their mom (my late-wife) four years ago. We are navigating their transition to adulthood with one of their key champions missing. But, God has given us a surrogate champion (my fellow widow and girlfriend, Jen). I’m learning what it means to lead them through their struggles by not letting them fend for themselves alone but also not doing everything for them. I must come along side of them to help them make decisions (rather than making it for them) so that they can learn to become successful adult men.
I am learning how to lead a new relationship (with Jen) in which both partners have had extensive life experiences and counseling and Boundaries training. What does it mean to walk together without codependency? It was one thing on paper, now I am walking it out.
Regarding “church” or “modern western American Christianity”, I am learning how to see what I see but maybe not burn down the past to build the future. Maybe there is beauty in what is that can be preserved as I fight for the people’s hearts I see hurting in our current “modern western American Christianity” models, systems, and culture.
27 William D. Mounce, ed., Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2006), 187.
 During my dark night(s) of the soul, I learned that I am responsible for getting my own needs met in healthy, safe, nonromantic communities. While I have consistently met with my mentor for over a year now, I have yet to take seriously the need to build authentic lasting relationships with other men who will come along side of me and “do life together”. I had a group of men I left behind in Texas (2017) and I always intended to forge new groups in North Idaho (someday) but I have yet to find such a group until recently. I believe I have but it will require I make them a priority (as their meeting times and available are inconvenient for me). Growth comes at a cost, and I must decide its time to pay that price.
All that being said, the following are the competencies I will be focusing on developing for the remainder of 2022 and the strategic plans to implement them.
1. Love God – Practice His Presence. While I find all forms of “spiritual disciplines” to be anathema to my spiritual health, I do find I have let go of being cognizant of his presence as things have gone “better” for me. I will begin doing using my automated calendar reminders to do frequently daily check-ins with HaRuach Elohim, specifically asking “Is there anything you want to talk about right now?”
2. Love Others – Community Building – Groups. It is long passed time to stop isolating and begin re-engaging the world. During the 2020-2021 pandemic, I was among those who quipped “when you find out your normal everyday life is called a quarantine”. For myself, my girlfriend, and our kids, it is time to start getting plugged into community groups (inside and outside of “church”). So, we will attend at least two functions a month that are not a “Sunday” event. Having come from zero in four years, that is a start.
3. Develop Character – Mentorship – Level Up. I have my mentor (a spiritual father). I have begun to develop relationships with spiritual brothers. I have two biological sons and two semi- adopted kids. I will begin looking for ways to deepen the relationships with my spiritual brothers, and in so doing be looking for ways to reach down and pull up someone coming in behind me. Practically, I will begin meeting “the guys” on Monday mornings (way too early in the morning).

4. Develop Strengths – Stretch Thyself. While I can make excuses for the things I haven’t done (legitimately too busy), the fact remains that I feel the nudge to begin building my ministry (early steps). So I will begin to write and publish articles (at least six this year) on my ministry website (NoHiding.Faith). I will also record and publish at least six pilot podcast episodes.
The scariest part of this entire paper, was the last bullet of the last section. Working in corporate America, I learned about the concept of doing “concrete and specific” interviews. We aren’t looking for “I usually” as an answer to an interview question. We ask “tell me about a time when” because we are looking for as specific and concrete of an example as you can provide. Taking this same tact, I forced myself to provide concrete and specific answers to the competency and strategy questions. Once I hit send on this to TKU (and cross-post this paper on my personal blog), it will be forever out there that I made these declarations. I am committing to concrete and specific steps toward accepting the next level of my calling and ministry. Even saying “my ministry” without wanting to throw up or punch something is a huge sign of progress since I started this journey back to sanity. While there are many little tips, tricks, techniques, tools, and trends that can be observed in this topic of leadership, it is my experience that learning to Love God, Love Folks, Develop Character, and focus on utilizing your Strengths are the core- thematic elements to good leadership. These are the areas I will be focusing on in 2022. May we all live .)שלום( long and prosper, Shalom
16Personalities (NERIS® Model Based on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). ©2011-2022 NERIS Analytics Limited. Accessed February 26, 2022.
Arbinger Institute, ed. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box. 2nd ed. A BK Life Book. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2010.
 Christianity Today. “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.” Accessed February 8, 2022.
Clinton, J. Robert. The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development. Rev. ed. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2012.
Cloud, Henry, and John Sims Townsend. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. Updated and Expanded [edition]. Boundaries. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017.
Collins, James C. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap--and Others Don’t. 1st ed. New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2001.
Hamp, Bob. Think Differently Lead Differently: Bringing Reformation in Your Heart, Your Home and Your Organization, 2014.
Imes, Carmen Joy. Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2019.
Jethani, Skye. With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Morse, MaryKate. Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP
Books, 2008.
Mounce, William D., ed. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words.
Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2006. Nelson, Jennifer V., n.d.
Northouse, Peter Guy. Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice. Fifth edition. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2021.
Perrin, Nicholas, Jeannine K. Brown, and Joel B. Green. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (DJG). IVP Bible Dictionary Series. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2013.
Rath, Tom, and Don Clifton. Strengths Finder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press, 2007.
Scazzero, Peter. The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply
Transform Your Church, Team, and the World. Zondervan, 2015. Transform/dp/0310525365/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=.
The Lexham English Bible (LEB), Fourth Edition. Logo Bible Software. Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010.

Vales Clarification:
After reviewing the assessment for the “reasons” I answered the way I did and adjusting for the most authentic answers, I found the following is a fairly accurate rate.
1. CREATIVITY (being imaginative, innovative, coming up with ideas)
2. INTELLECTUAL STATUS (be regarded as an expert in your field, thought of as smart)
3. AUTONOMY (work independently, determine the nature of your work without significant
direction from others)
4. CHALLENGE (stimulates full use of your potential)
5. TIME FREEDOM (flexible work schedule, no specific work hours required)
6. WISDOM (accumulation of knowledge)
7. KNOWLEDGE (understanding gained through study and experience)
8. ACHIEVEMENT (sense of accomplishment by means of skills, practice, perseverance, or
9. HELP OTHERS (be involved in helping people in a direct way, individually or in a group)
10. LOCATION (live somewhere that will fit your lifestyle and allow you to do the things you
enjoy most)
Northouse Assessments:
2.3 – While the final total scores matched perfectly (14/14), there were areas in which others rated me higher than myself and where I rated myself higher. Also interesting was that my children who’ve seen me for decades rated me differently than my girlfriend who’s seen me only since my healing journey was well underway. The largest discrepancy was “Self-Confident” and “Determined”. In both cases, I rated myself a 2 and everyone else rated me a 4.
3.3 – Final rating showed Very High for Democratic, High for Laissez-Faire, and Moderate for Authoritarian.
4.3 – I am evenly divided between Task/Relationship and score Moderately High for both.
6.3 – While I don’t completely understand what to do with these results, I can say I tested High-Very High in each category. While taking the test; however, I can feel intuitively which skills were learned out of necessity draining my energy and which came naturally with an increase to my energy. Any skills
  Leadership Style Sum Score Range
  Authoritarian 18 Moderate
 Democratic 28 Very High
  Laissez-Faire 21 High
      Type Score
 related to working with others is learned and draining for me. Any skill related to being left alone with a problem to think about it creatively until I find a solution is exhilarating and energizing for me.
  Leadership Style Sum Score Range
  Implementer 25 High
 Innovator 30 Very High
  Encourager 26 Very High
 Analyzer 30 Very High
  Mediator 25 High
   7.3 – My score of 48 is considered Very High. The only two items that scored a 4 instead of a 5 were both group-oriented items (which are within my developed skillsets but not my naturally (or enjoyable) skillsets.
9.3 – My score of 126 is considered high; however, my answers are all over the map. For some items I am a solid 5, for others I roll my eyes and sigh heavily with a solid 1. This is an area in which the cultural dialog and accepted vocabulary has been dominated by non-biblical worldviews and pseudo-science with which I take strong exception. I believe we should strongly advocate for the other. Where I disagree with the cultural dialog is areas in which we are supposed to “accept” without “confronting”. While I take a strong stand against modern western Christianity’s tendency to make a big deal of LGBT members of the community (and I would happily bake the cake); I also have had very candid conversations with my LGBT friends letting them know it’s not the perfect will of God for their life and offered to walk along side of them while they submit this area to the Holy Spirit to see what he would do in their heart regarding the matter. This type of mentality flows into other areas, but this is the clearest example in our culture.
11.3 – For the Conflict Style Questionnaire I chose an older conflict (pre-counseling) and a more recent conflict (post-counseling) to see if that had any bearing on my test results. For both conflicts, I scored fairly evenly (Strong and Very-Strong) on Competition, Compromise, Accommodation, and Collaboration. However, on the older conflict, I scored Weak (9) on the Avoidance while I scored Very High (22) for the more recent conflict. So I suppose this means I learned something.
Darrell’s LIFE Mission Statement
NO HIDING: Finding Faith & Freedom to walk out an authentic relationship with God, His Family, and His Word; through Biblical Studies, Stories, and Scholarship
Ministry is Imaging Yahweh to others at all times
Being an Image Bearer for God:
Key Concept: “Think of the “image” of God as a verb, and you’ll get the idea. We were created to image God, to be his imagers—to represent him or be his proxy to each other and to all the earth.” Michael Heiser
Being an Image Bearer to the de-churched and disenfranchised (irreligious Christianity):

 Key Concept: I am called to the de-churched and disenfranchised, to love them into fullness and to teach them to think differently so they can find freedom. This means I will sometimes look and act in ways that make religious people uncomfortable, which is just fine with me.
My Ministry Philosophies: What and why I do what I do.
Transformational Teaching: I teach them to think differently and seek freedom. Key Concepts:
 By knowing Truth, we are freed from bondage to lies (strongholds).
 Freedom from Psychological bondage - by thinking differently, we can be freed from unhealthy
behaviors and relationship patterns that came through stronghold patterns induced and perpetuated by
 Freedom from Religious bondage - by thinking differently, we can see where old religious traditions
have held us captive to unhealthy ideologies. It is seeing what the biblical authors really meant that
brings us the truth of God’s inspired revelation and the freedom that comes from that truth.
 Freedom from Tradition’s bondage- by studying the Bible in its own Ancient Near East (ANE) and
Second Temple period contexts, we can attempt to rid ourselves of all religious traditions and get back to the inspired narratives God wanted to communicate. By doing so, we find the freedom brought by His truth. There is no tradition too sacred too question.
Transformational Community: Building community through relationship (doing life together) Key Concepts:
 Need for community: By developing relationships with others, in healthy, safe, nonromantic community we can find our needs for intimacy (to know and be known) and find freedom from lies that breed in isolation as people mirror God’s Image back to us.
 Forming life-long community by doing life together. For me, community means real, life-long, deep relationship building. While some relationships can be seasonal, the hope-goal is that we (the community) will do life together, and one of us will be at the other’s funeral (should the Lord tarry).
 Forming real community outside of the modern event-culture. Community is much harder to form by merely attending a weekly spectator event involving a concert and a public speaker, then quickly leaving afterwards. While that event (some people call “church”) can be one avenue of meeting people, it is the activities that bring us into Koinonia (doing life together) that will ultimately create these life-long bonds of community. The event can be a component of that community, but it must not be the only tool one uses to develop community.
Wolfe Rules (Gibb's Style Rules) – My curated truisms to living well.
My highest priority: NO HIDING – Radical authenticity in healthy community is the key to freedom
(getting and staying free). -Darrell Wolfe
Doing Life:
 Plans Fail. Live by Principles. -Unknown
 When Overwhelmed: Take the next indicated step. -Alcoholics Anonymous/Al-Anon
 “What you compromise to keep, you will eventually lose.” -Jesse Duplantis
 “Do what’s right because it’s right, do it right, and do it right away.” -Art Aragon
 “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” -Albert Einstein

  “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” -Albert Einstein
 “To admit that you were wrong is to declare that you are wiser now than you were before.” -
Albert Einstein.
 “Stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution.” -Albert Einstein
 “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Ben Franklin
 “People who believe in the resurrection, in God making a whole new world in which everything
will be set right at last, are unstoppably motivated to work for that new world in the present.” -NT
 “Prayer is for hearing God’s agenda not for bringing Him yours. Don’t tell Him what you want to
see happen. When praying, ask Him what He’s doing and how you can participate.” -Darrell
 “When in doubt: Shift into ‘Low Slow’, listen for His voice.” -Kenneth Copeland
Finding Freedom:
 “Freedom is not the absence of something, it is the presence of someone.” -Bob Hamp
 “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets through.” -Ernest Hemingway
 “It’s OKAY to be not okay” -Unknown
 “Religion attempts to overcome the Knowledge of Evil with the Knowledge of Good; but the
Knowledge of Good will never re-connect you to LIFE, which is the real need of man. Life flows from a different tree (paraphrased)” -Bob Hamp
Studying the Bible:
 "Religion is the by-product left over after God's move is turned from movement to monument." - Darrell Wolfe
 “Don’t seek out verses, seek out themes and patterns in the whole Bible. Ask Him to reveal His- Story to you, and your part in it. Only build theology on what the text of the bible can support.” – Darrell Wolfe
 “Traditions tell us where we have come from. Scripture itself is a better guide as to where we should be going now.” -NT Wright
 “You are better off knowing what a passage means than you are memorizing it.” -Michael Heiser
 “The New Testament is essentially an inspired commentary on the Old Testament. So, we need to pay attention to how the New Testament authors read the Old Testament, how they repurposed it,
and their understanding of the it is not going to violate the Old Testament in its own original
context. In fact, it will build on it. It will reinforce it.” -Michael Heiser
 "Second Temple literature is really important, and therefore, we ought to pay more attention to
that material for understanding the Old Testament and how the New Testament uses the Old Testament than to our own denominational traditions." -Michael Heiser


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ

Saturday, February 12, 2022

YHWH (Yahweh) is God (hā’elōhîm) - But there are other elohim.

It's about definitions of terms:  אֱלֹהִים ʾelōhîm

For reference: "Demons" are the disembodied Nephilim and a completely different class from the fallen elohhim in view here. But that is a tale for another day. For more on that, see:

  • Heiser, Michael S. Demons: What the Bible Really Says about the Powers of Darkness. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020.

For now, let's chat about the Elohim. 

When the average modern western American English speaker uses the term spelled g.o.d. we automatically import into that term certain "attributes" such as omnipresent, omnipotent, etc. We import into that term an idea of "ultimate" and maybe even "creator". 

Thus, importing all those ideas into our three letters g.o.d. we think if there are multiple "gods" does that mean they're all equal like the Greek/Roman style pantheon? These are ideas we eisegete into the word "god" when we use it. 

For the ancient Israelite, none of those attributes are in view when they use their Hebrew term: "elohim" which we moderns translate into God/gods depending on the verse. 

As Dr. Michael Heiser demonstrates in his text "Unseen Realm", pretty conclusively, the Hebrew term elohhim is used to talk about THE Elohhim (Yahweh himself), other elohim (like Ba'al), Divine Council members, "Angels" (which is another misnomer for another day) and in at least one context the word is used to refer to the disembodied Samuel coming back to rebuke Saul.

  • Heiser, Michael. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. First edition. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.
  • Heiser, Michael S. Angels: What the Bible Really Says about God’s Heavenly Host, 2018.

Thus, the attributes we tie into the word "god" are NOT in view when Israelites use the term elohhim. 

A better translation into English (because of all that baggage we import) might be "Spirit Beings". Elohhim simply refers to any entity of "that realm" as opposed to "this realm". 

So, Yahweh is an elohim. There are MANY elohhim. But Yahweh is species unique among the elohim. ONLY Yahweh is self-existent, creator of all that is (including the lesser elohhim). Only Yahweh is omnipresent, omnipotent etc. So, do other ELOHIM exist? Absolutely! The Bible constantly affirms this. Paul himself refers to them as principalities and powers and rulers of the darkness of this world. They are also good ones too. Gabriel and Michael would be of the elohhim class. 

Are they gods? By Ancient standards, yes. By our modern sensibilities of the word, no. But that is how other texts, Greek, Latin, etc understood them. Zues, Ba'al, Moleck, all lesser elohhim. 

What English word you want to use for that? Up to you. But that's their worldview, and if we're to be loyal to the biblical authors, it is ours. Other, lesser, elohhim are still ruling this present darkness (to borrow Frank Perretti). Pick your favorite English word to describe that. I use Spirit Beings when I translate those texts where the Hebrew term elohhim is used (and where it's in view in the Greek speaking but Hebrew minded authors of the Second Writings (aka New Testament). 

These fallen elohhim we're the Divine Council members. They're in view in Psalms 82 and 89 and Deuteronomy 32, among other places. They're in view in Paul's writings about these "powers". 


*I leave you with another interesting text to explore, quotes below: 

2. Monotheism as a misleading category

"A major contribution to our topic has been made by Nathan MacDonald in his recent book, Deuteronomy and the Meaning of ‘Monotheism.’[3] MacDonald argues that the idea of ‘monotheism’ (like ‘polytheism’) is an invention of the Enlightenment that is inappropriate for understanding the Old Testament and that the use of this category has seriously distorted Old Testament scholarship’s account of Israel’s faith in YHWH. Tracing the invention of the word ‘monotheism’ and its early use by the seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonists, he associates it with the intellectualization of religion in seventeenth-century English thought, which tended to identify religion with a body of theoretical knowledge and to judge the truth or falsity of a religion by the truth or falsity, rationally assessed, of the propositions that constituted it. ‘Monotheism’ was an organizing principle in the categorization of religions according to their intellectual claims and, as such a principle, made the question of the number of gods a priority in the classification and evaluation of religions. The term ‘monotheism’, especially as subsequently taken over by the Deists, became associated with the Enlightenment’s philosophical construction of a rational, ethical and universally evident religion. The identification of emergent ‘monotheism’ in ancient Israel was thus in danger of being a mere projection of Enlightenment beliefs and values and of being understood within a developmental understanding of the necessary progress of humanity through various stages towards ethical monotheism, which, being rationally compelling, is bound to prevail everywhere." Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Essays on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Paternoster, 2008), 62.

 "(1) Deuteronomy does not deny the existence of other gods. MacDonald observes, with many others, that the Shema‛and the first commandment of the Decalogue require monolatry, the exclusive devotion of Israel to YHWH, but do not deny the existence of other gods. They may even be said to presuppose it in treating them as real competitors for Israel’s devotion.[9] Less usual, though not unprecedented,[10] is MacDonald’s denial that Deuteronomy itself teaches that YHWH is the only god. (MacDonald, in line with his thesis, translates ’elōhîm as ‘god’, except on the few occasions when it has the article, for which he uses ‘God’.) The two key statements in chapter 4—‘so that you would acknowledge that YHWH is God (hā’elōhîm); there is no other besides him’ (4:35) and ‘acknowledge … that YHWH is God (hā’elōhîm) in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other’ (4:39)—he takes to mean that YHWH is unique (the only god who is God) and is the only god for Israel.[11]"  Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Essays on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Paternoster, 2008), 63–64.

"What I find disappointing in MacDonald’s work is his failure to deal systematically with the issue of YHWH’s uniqueness vis-à-vis the other gods. Given that Deuteronomy affirms the uniqueness of YHWH (as alone God [4:35, 39; 7:9] and as alone ‘god of gods’ [10:17]) without denying the existence of other gods, in what does that uniqueness consist?"   Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Essays on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Paternoster, 2008), 65.

"Deuteronomy seems to me to require an account of YHWH’s uniqueness that takes full account of such passages as these: ‘YHWH is God (hā’elōhîm) in heaven above and on the earth below’ (4:39); ‘heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to YHWH your god, the earth with all that is in it’ (10:14); ‘YHWH your god is god of gods and lord of lords, the great god’ (10:17); and the divine self-declaration of 32:39 in relation to what is said about the gods in the Song of Moses. But, in order to establish my point, I want particularly to engage with MacDonald’s exegesis of the crucially important passage Deuteronomy 4:32–40. Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Essays on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Paternoster, 2008), 68.

"What Israel is able to recognize about YHWH, from his acts for Israel, that distinguishes YHWH from the gods of the nations is that he is ‘the God’ or ‘the god of gods’. This means primarily that he has unrivalled power throughout the cosmos. The earth, the heavens and the heaven of heavens belong to him (10:14). By contrast, the gods of the nations are impotent nonentities, who cannot protect and deliver even their own peoples. This is the message of the Song of Moses (see especially 32:37–39). The need to distinguish among ‘the gods’ between the one who is supreme (YHWH) and the others, who are not just subordinate but powerless, creates, on the one hand, the usages ‘the God’ and ‘the god of gods’ and, on the other hand, the contemptuous ‘non-god’ (32:17: lō’’elōâh; 32:21: lō’’ēl) and ‘their mere puffs of air’ (32:21: habelēhem). Though called gods, the other gods do not really deserve the term, because they are not effective divinities, acting with power in the world.[26] YHWH alone is the God with supreme power." Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Essays on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Paternoster, 2008), 70.


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


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