Grand Con

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Busy Times!

Greetings Scholars and Warriors!

This has been a crazy month! China was a great time. The ESL camp was very successful. This helps students practice their English which will help them in the future when they start looking for jobs and careers. I am working on a blog post for my church so you will get a more full report with that. Just watch the Nerd Chapel FB page for it. If you are interested in helping deal with poverty in China, go to to learn more.

Also, Sunday morning I had the pleasure of attending Evanston Avenue Baptist Church in Muskegon, MI. I was blessed with speaking to a Sunday School class about using your passions missionally and bringing Christ to the community around you.

This fall I'll be attending 3 conventions.

In September Nerd Chapel will be doing a Sunday Morning service at GrandCon on Sept. 18. GrandCon is always a great weekend full of gaming. I'll be running games as well including: Pandemic, Commissioned, Monsterpocalypse and Mow Money.

In October I'll be attending Fantasticon in Fort Wayne, IN. I went to college in Fort Wayne and I am looking forward to setting up a table for Nerd Chapel and 42:Discovering Faith Through Fandom. In fact, I'll be setting up right next to Nathan Marchand's book table. This should be a fun time and I am excited to meet some more Fort Wayne folks.

November presents yet another convention. (Cue: Batman '66 musical theme) Nerd Chapel is excited to announce that we are joining up with Costumers for Christ at Chicagoland Pop Culture Con November 26-27. I have been in online contact with them for some time. You might remember that a few months ago I did a book review for Scott Bayles book "Holy Heroes". This will be our first time working together at a convention.

Is this a busy enough schedule? I do plan on attending Grand Rapids Comic Con but I will likely be just going as myself rather than as any formal focus.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Thief Practicing the Presence of God

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Lately I have found myself watching the El Rey network. I first took this station seriously when they had a weekend long marathon of Godzilla movies. They show Asian fighting movies every Thursday which I have only sparsely partaken of. Well, Monday evening they were showing Ladyhawke and I had not watched it for a while so I turned it on.
Philippe, played by Matthew Broderick, is a thief. He is called the Mouse and narrowly escapes a jail by fitting through a drain. While running he starts bragging at an inn and gets caught by the guards who were in disguise. A man rescues him who has a hawk on his arm. Later on that night, Philippe meets a woman who has a wolf for a friend. Can you guess where this is going?

What I found interesting about this was Philippe's prayer life. Have you heard of the idea of practicing the presence of God? Practicing the presence of God is about praying regularly but it is also about perceiving His presence at all times. Philippe is a pro at this. He often prays, One time trying to make a deal with God, another admitting he has just stolen again.

In the middle of all of this, he becomes a companion for the man and the woman. We see a big change in Philippe in the movie as he goes from thief to finding friends and learning to be part of a team. At one point he complains to God that he did not see any of this coming and yet later tells the man "I talk to God all the time yet He has never mentioned you."

1 Thessalonians tells us to "pray continually" but not all of God's directions or moments for us come with a big announcement from Him. Often the important ones are the opportunities you do not see coming. This happened for two disciples with Jesus Himself. They walked with Him along a road after He had resurrected but did not realize it was Him until the very moment he left them. That is what happened for Philippe. This whole situation changes him for the better. And through all of this change he continues to pray and practice the presence of God.

Hebrews tells us that some have entertained angels but the important thing is not the angels themselves, but that these people have built hospitality into their lives. One author defined hospitality as creating a safe space for people around you. I think that is how we get to practicing the Presence of God as well. We simply build an attitude of openness for Him to be present with us regularly. This is not an easy thing to do with the distractions that often come our way; but it is not impossible.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Leaving for China 2016

Greetings Warriors and Scholars,

Tomorrow..."I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again." Ok, so many I do know when I'll be back again. I am going to China to teach an English camp. It will be a week long camp in the heart of the country and I am excited to hang out with some old friends and make some new friends.

I and one other gentleman will join up with a team from Macau and go to the Hubei province to hold the camp. I am taking some games for the camp such as Rory's Story Cubes, Suchi Go, and a few others.

We would appreciate your prayers. Originally we were supposed to have a 4 person team but 2 people had to pull out last minute. I expect to be doing a lot of scrambling between rooms for this camp but we shall see what the plan is from the Macau team.

Please keep Ian and I in your prayers for the next 2 weeks. Tomorrow we have a long flight from Chicago to Hong Kong and then we shall spend a day or two in Macau and then leave with the team from there for our camp.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Joy and Mourning with Pokemon

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Well, this has been a crazy few weeks. As I am typing this the world is cringing at the pain of a bad attack in Nice, France which has left dozens dead and dozens injured. We have just dealt with shootings at cops and unnecessary shootings by cops around the USA. We have had an attack in Baghdad so bad it was the worse attack there in years (250 people died in it).

In the middle of all of this we find a new mobile game called "Pokemon Go." I am sure you already know the premise of the game. People are getting off their sofas, going outside, talking to people. It is helping people who have struggled with depression. This game is helping us heal with a breath of fresh air. It is reminding us that we have more to experience out in the world than just shootings and attacks.

We are being given a time to celebrate with a new game that is encouraging exercise and nerdy tendencies but we are also dealing with a lot of pain. Romans 12:15 tells us to "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." We have an opportunity to live that out this week.

Pokemon Go is a breath of fresh air, but Jesus is the ultimate physician. He does want us to experience fun moments. [Side note, does it bother anyone else that most movies about Jesus life do not show him laughing or joking with people?] Jesus also took time to heal people form blindness, deafness, and many other maladies.

Jeremiah stated that if we seek God with all our heart we will find him (Jeremiah 29:13). While you are out seeking Pokemon by walking for miles on end, do not forget that God wants to walk with you. A huge part of seeking God "with all your heart" is learning His heart for those who are in distress and his heart for joy. I encourage you to keep Nice, Baghdad, Dallas, and others in your prayers as you enjoy your games.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Apocalypse: Becoming Your Own Idol

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Wednesday I had the pleasure of finally seeing X-Men:Apocalypse for the first time at a local cheapo theater (although the snacks were still quite expensive so I went without that). I greatly enjoyed the film and there is so much that can be unpacked and chewed on in this film. It is hard to know where to begin. I think we shall begin with the concern with false gods.

Apocalypse is quite an interesting character in this film He has quite a pastoral heart, even if his intentions are evil. He is empowering mutants and quite honestly he seems to have a strength for discipleship. He sees all our machines of modern life and begins noticing the systems of government. We see him calling against false gods at one point but here is the problem: he made himself a false god. He became an idol himself. He fully claims godhood and wants all control over our planet. Actually, he even makes a comment that he wants to make Cairo the "center of the universe."

Unfortunately, mutants are not the only ones with such egos. We humans, in real life, tend to have a lot of that ourselves. Look at the pharisees. They had many rules against idols and about daily life. They took the idea of law, something God created to help us know our need for him and to navigate the confusion of right and wrong, and made it a road to the idol of their own egos. Jesus called them "white washed tombs" inferring that they clean what can be seen but just that and would rather be prideful than fully surrendered followers of God. We have a lot of people who do that here.

We have a lot of idols in our modern lives. Comfort, money, sex. Some people even expect their meaning to come from family rather than from God. This keeps them from serving at church sometimes or it becomes a trap for other members of their family who simply can't live up to the expectations to fill a void in the heart.

How do we keep from being our own idol?
"How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word." Psalm 119:9
We keep our way pure by comparing our thoughts with scripture. Is this action in alignment with scripture? Is this rule found in the Word of God?

Only God Himself should be "the center of the universe".  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My first JAFAX Experience

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

I hope you had as good a weekend as I did. This weekend I brought the Nerd Chapel Sunday Morning Service to JAFAX, an anime convention in Grand Rapids, MI. Let me tell you about my weekend.

Friday started interestingly before I even got to the con. While eating a donut at Rosa Parks Circle, I met a guy named Justin who is a former Army Ranger. We discussed faith, God's big plan, etc. It was a great conversation and he seemed to leave more encouraged than when he had come over. I then went on and sat by the resting place of former president of the USA Gerald R Ford for a minute to pay my respects. After that I found a series of plaques discussing Native American tribes in the region to read. Then, before the con, I read some chapters out of "Holy Heroes:The Gospel According to DC and Marvel" by Scott Bayles.

So, on to the con. This was a "reboot" for JAFAX. They had formerly been a college con with no charge for attendance. Now they are no longer at a college and for the first time had to have registration and charge for badges. The wait on Friday was a very long one. I spent more than 2 hours in line and some said they were in line for 4 hours. I think they may have had issues with wifi that contributed to this and as a gesture of apology they allowed those who only got Friday badges to come back on Saturday for a free badge and do the exploring they missed the day before.

Anime and Japanese art are the main focuses of JAFAX. There were a couple of booths selling kimonos and booths selling anime videos, various cosplay items, art, etc. The panels were plentiful and they had 2 viewing rooms for anime shows. I attended one panel on making a hero and another with voice actors reading scripts from movies and such with differing voices. There was also a tiny table-top gaming room. On Saturday I cosplayed as Martian Manhunter and was not the only DC cosplayer. I also saw some Marvel cosplayers and 1 Star Trek cosplayer as well as some Star Wars in the mix. See pictures below.

Over the weekend I had some very friendly conversations. People seemed quite open to the idea of a "nerd friendly church service" at a con. We had 7 people plus myself attend and although some came late, I was just glad to have them come at all. The message was based on the concept that all humans are "Ronins" (masterless warriors) in some way but that God still wants to adopt us. We looked at how this all began with Adam and used David as an example of an adopted Ronin.

I think this was a successful weekend. Next year the registration bugs should be worked out and I expect a good experience then as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

JAFAX and GrandCon 2016

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Nerd Chapel is currently scheduled for 2 conventions this summer and early fall.

June 26 we will be bringing our Sunday Service to JAFAX in Grand Rapids, MI. This is an anime convention that used to be run as a free event at Grand Valley State University and was run by a student organization. This year is their first year launching out into the real world and we'll be in downtown at the Devos Place. We will be in Panel Room 1 at 10am.

September 18 Nerd Chapel returns to GrandCon! We will not have a booth this year but we will be holding services at 9am that Sunday in the seminar room. I'll be hosting several games that weekend including Pandemic, Commissioned and Monsterpocalypse.

I'll let you know if more opportunities come our way but for now these are the two big ones for the foreseeable future.