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Silver Anniversary of Darkness to Light

By Gary F. Zeolla

 

I didn’t realize it until August, but July of this year (2016) marked the Silver Anniversary of Darkness to Light ministry. I guess I missed it as I just cannot believe it has been 25 years since I started this ministry. But it has been, with Darkness to Light (DTL) beginning in July 1991 with the publication of a four-page hardcopy newsletter.

I previously wrote articles about the first twenty years of this ministry, covering the first fifteen in the article Thanking God for 15 Years of Ministry, written in July 2006, and the next five in the article 20th Anniversary of Darkness to Light, written in July 2011. In this article I will bring the story up to date from there.

 

My Personal Situation

 

In the second of those articles, I detail that my health had been deteriorating. It continued to deteriorate for the next couple of years, hitting a low in the summer of 2013 with a ten-day hospital stay. As a result of the deterioration of my health, I was in a poor state spiritually and emotionally. But then in the fall of that year, things began to turn around. My health did not change, but my attitude towards it did. I decided to accept that my health situation would not improve but to try to make the best of my life despite the problems.

I stopped running from doctor to doctor, trying one treatment after another in an effort to find a solution to my problems. I stopped experimenting with one drug after another, finally stopping all medications altogether. I stopped experimenting with one supplement after another, having a tried a whole myriad of them over the previous decade or so. I narrowed the supplements down to just a couple that I knew worked, and that was it.

I truly believe it was all of this experimenting that led to my health deteriorating to such a bad state. And the emotional ups and downs of thinking the latest treatment, drug, or supplement would be THE answer to my problems led to my poor emotional state. As such, I have no intents of experimenting with any others.

With this acceptance of my health situation, I had to accept that I would continue to live a mostly isolated life, with little or no social life. But again, it was the constant attempt to change my life in that regard that led to emotional ups and downs. Most especially, I stopped any attempts at using dating websites and the like, trying to “find someone,” but instead just accepting my lifetime singleness.

But most of all, I reaffirmed my faith in the sovereignty of God and my trust that He was working in my life, despite all of the outward seemingly bad circumstances. I thus took steps to improve my emotional and spiritual states and am now doing far better than when that previous “Anniversary” update was written. For details in this regard, see the article Steps to Being Emotionally and Spiritually Uplifted.

Now to be clear, my health is still the same, especially in regards to my multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). More often than I would like I will have an allergic reaction that can leave me feeling horrible the rest of the day. But I trust the LORD to bring me through each time it happens. For details in this regard, see the newly updated article My Life with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

 

Writing Ministry

 

Despite my poor state back in 2011, about that time I began a major ministry project, translating the entire Old Testament (OT) from the Septuagint (LXX). The LXX is a third century BC Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. The name and abbreviation comes from the tradition that 70 (or 72) Jewish scholars worked on its translation, six from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

I worked on this project over the next three years, finishing it much faster than I thought I would. I published the OT in four volumes. I also translated the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books, which are also found in the LXX. These are the “extra” books found in the OTs of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles as compared to Jewish Bibles and the OTs of Protestant Bibles. These volumes constitute Volumes I to V of my Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT):

Volume I – The Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy)

Volume II – The Historical Books (Joshua to Esther)

Volume III – The Poetic Books (Job to Song of Solomon)

Volume IV – The Prophetic Books (Isaiah to Malachi)

Volume V – The Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books

The previously published ALT: New Testament is now considered to be Volume VI of the ALT.

I then worked on a book titled The LORD Has It Under Control: What the Bible Teaches About the Sovereignty of God. This proved to be the most personal book I have written, as in it I relate many examples of how I believe the sovereignty of God has been operating in my life, in hopes that my experiences will help readers to apply the principles to their lives. Otherwise, the book goes through the Bible more or less in order, discussing every passage in the Bible related to this important topic. And there are many such passages, and thus this book ended up being the longest individual book I have written, 650 pages long.

After finishing that project, I struggled over what to do next and came up with a long-range writing plan. But as I started on it, I kind of got side-tracked in working on a project I had been wanting to address for some time but had put off, as I knew it would be very complicated, namely why are the books in the Bible in the Bible, and why are other books that could have been included not in the Bible? The technical term for this issue is “canon” which means list of authoritative books.

As I assumed, this subject proved to be very complicated, requiring three volumes to fully cover. As I write this, I am nearing the end of this project, having recently finished draft four of planned five drafts. The three volumes will be as follows, with the probable number of pages for the hardcopies indicated:

1. Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Volume One: A Translator’s Perspective on the Canon of the Old Testament – 402 pages.

2. Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Volume Two: A Translator’s Perspective on the Canon of the New Testament –  423 pages.

3. Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Volume Three: The Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament Apocrypha – 447 pages.

The last volume mentions the Apostolic Fathers (APF). These are the writings of Church leaders of the late first to mid-second centuries, most of whom were direct disciples of the apostles. Some of these books were seriously considered for inclusion in the canon of the NT. They were ultimately rejected for the canon, but all of these APF books were popular in the early centuries of the Church. They give insight into the mindset of the early Church shortly after the apostles and provide background to the NT. As such, they are very much worth reading.

Given this, as I was working on the “Why These Books” set, I was also translating these APF books and have just finished draft four of them as well. After I finish draft five, these books will be published as Volume VII of the ALT, which will be 118 pages long. Adding that to the pages in the three volume set, and I have written or translated 1,390 pages in the past year and a half. How things have changed since the four-page newsletter that started DTL!

God-willing, I hope to have all four of these volumes available before the end of this year. An announcement will be made in this newsletter, on the website, and on my Facebook and Twitter pages as each volume is made available. Once I complete this massive project, I will continue with the other proposed books, as indicated in the newly updated Writing Plans page.

Unfortunately, the sales of my books still have not been near as much as I would like. In fact, sales are down as of late. As a result, my financial situation is as poor as ever. But hopefully, once these newest four books are published, sales will pick up.

Meanwhile, I have continued to publish this Darkness to Light newsletter every other month, and my FitTips for One and All newsletter on opposite months. This newsletter has about 1,000 subscribers and the FitTips newsletter about 200. The articles from these newsletters are then posted on the Darkness to Light and Fitness for One and All (FOA) websites, respectively.

For this newsletter and the DTL website, I have written several articles on Islam of late. I had shied away from this subject for most of this ministry, as it is very complicated. But given recent events, it has become a very important issue and will probably become even more so as time goes on. I thus have been taking the time to study it as much as possible and will probably write more articles on Islam in the future.

Unfortunately, the traffic on both of these website is down considerably. That is probably due to the Internet being so massive now, that my small sites do not draw the attention they used to. But there are now over 1,000 pages on the DTL website and over 500 pages on the FOA website. I also do not receive near the amount of email that I used to, with most of what I receive being about my books rather than about articles on the sites. But I will continue to publish these newsletters and add the articles to the sites as long as the LORD continues to enable me to do so. However, my main focus will be on book writing.

I also now have a personal website, Zeolla.org. It provides links to all of my writings, along with information about my life, my Christian faith, my health problems, my powerlifting, and other personal details. Included on it is the newly updated My Life Story page.

 

Powerlifting

 

Speaking of powerlifting, I mentioned in the previous Anniversary update that I had stopped competing and had lost a significant amount of weight and strength. That continued for next two years. But as with my emotional and spiritual state, starting in the fall of 2013, my physical strength began to improve. I eventually regained most of my lost bodyweight and much of my strength. I detail the steps I took to these ends in my article Regaining Muscular Bodyweight and Strength.

After having to gradually drop my weights on the powerlifts and other lifts, I slowly began to raise them again, and I have been making steady progress ever since.  Helping in regaining my strength was a similar attitude as expressed above—I stopped experimenting. Only now it was in regards to training routines and powerlifting gear.

Throughout the ‘00s, I had experimented with many different training routines. But now, I went back over all of my old training logs, figuring out what worked best for me. I then put together my own training plan that I call my “Two by Two Powerlifting Training Plan.”

The “two by two” comes from this training plan consisting of two training routines (a Post-Contest Routine and a Pre-contest Routine), and within each routine, alternating two training weeks (Week A and Week B). I got the phrase “two by two” from the Bible. It occurs in reference to the animals coming two by two to Noah’s ark and to Jesus sending out His twelve apostles and seventy disciples two by two (Genesis 7:9,15; Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1). I have made adjustments to this plan over the past three years, but I have kept with this basic framework.

I also stopped experimenting for the most part with different types, brands, and levels of powerlifting gear. For those unfamiliar with powerlifting, this is a complicated subject that I will not explain here. But for those who are, I decided that would only compete raw with wraps, using a belt, wrist wraps, and knee wraps. I have experimented a little with different brands of these, but have mainly been using a Crain belt, wrist wraps, and knee wraps and will probably stick with them.

When I have made changes in regards to training or gear, more often than not, they have not proven to be beneficial, so I have returned to what I started with. Just proves the adage to be true: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

In any case, I competed in my first contest in almost six years on February 28, 2015, IPA PA States in York, PA. That contest went very well, and I had plans to compete in another contest in 2015, but a hamstring injury derailed those plans. But thank God that injury healed sufficiently for me to again enter IPA PA States in 2016.

When this newsletter is published, my next contest will be just a little over a week away: APF/ AAPF Ohio States in Mansfield, Ohio on September 10, 2016. My training has been going very well, and I am really looking forward to it. My training logs are posted on my fitness website at: Full Workout Logs: 2014 – Present, and I will post a contest report the week after the contest.

For these contests, I had a shirt printed up with my favorite Bible on it to wear to keep warm between lifts: “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength” (2Timothy 4:17). I also wear a fish/ cross necklace during deadlifts. For those who don’t know, along with the cross, the fish was an early symbol of the Christians faith, for two reasons. First, fish are mentioned quite often in the Gospels. Second, the Greek word for fish (ichthus) forms an acronym in Greek that translated means: Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. I got the necklace at Amazon. I have received many comments on both the shirt and necklace, giving me a chance to talk to other lifters about the Lord.

 

Conclusion

 

It has been a long five years, with lots happening. I hit a low, but the LORD brought me back up. As a result, my writing ministry has developed very well.  I have continued to expand my websites. I continue to publish my newsletters, and I have gotten back into powerlifting. For all of that, I thank and praise the Sovereign, Almighty LORD.

 

Silver Anniversary of Darkness to Light. Copyrighted 2016 by Gary F. Zeolla.

The above article first appeared in Darkness to Light newsletter.
It was posted on this site September 1, 2016.

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