Grand Con

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nightmare Redemption

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on the G.I. Joe Wiki.
Lately I have been watching G.I. Joe. A channel we have is airing episodes at 5:30 am. No, I am not getting up that early because we can record it.

Today I watched the episode "Nightmare Assault" (Season 4, Ep. 24). In this episode Cobra has developed a machine that will let them affect the dreams of G.I. Joe. In this episode we learn that Low Light regularly has nightmares. Many members of the team keep suffering from these experiences, including General Hawk, Lifeline, Iceberg, and others. they eventually have Low Light fight the battle for them. At one point Dr. Mindbender is even connecting to the machine to affect their dreams, but this is not enough.

Low Light managed this because he learned to deal with the situation. Having experienced many nightmares, mostly from his Father being very hard on him, he eventually learned how to control his reaction within the dream and even the dream itself. This allowed him to come in and face the Cobra created phenomenon head on. As they linked up with machines for one dream experience he alone saved the day.

Paul discusses difficulties in 2 Cor. 4.
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; stuck down, but not destroyed. We always carry with around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body....Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 
Low Light was in the rare position of being able to use what he had learned to bring comfort and even rescue to others. But he had to go through difficulty to get there. He had to be hard pressed and struck down and abandoned to bring that hope to others.

This even played out in Jesus life. Rejection was a significant part of the plan for salvation. Jesus was rejected by the Jewish leadership; by the humans he came to save. He could have called down countless angels to get Him out of the crucifixion, but that would not have brought salvation to us. More than that, He even felt rejection by God. He cried out "My God, my God, why have you foresaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). Then, the Father raised him from the dead to be the firstborn of the Kingdom of God (see Colossians 1:15-23).

If you are hard pressed or abandoned or perplexed, remember you are not alone. Look for Jesus and how He wants to intervene and walk with you in this. Look for others He has brought into your life to walk with you. Then, when you are through it, look to help others. Show them what Jesus has done for you or simply be present with them as they experience pain and sorrow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Best Laid Time Travel Plans

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on the IMDB page.
Have you been watching Timeless? I have. At first I felt like it was a little bit predictable and sometimes it is, but the quality of acting and intriguing portrayals of historical figures with the mystery of Rittenhouse have kept me watching. Most sci-fi shows nowadays are very dark, apparently since BSG was rebooted the networks think everything has to be dark. It is refreshing to see a lighter science fiction show with nuance that recognizes dark situations.

So essentially in Timeless we have a team of 3 people trying to stop another team from changing time. One team takes the stolen "Mothership" back in time and the other team, at the actual HQ, sees where it has gone and takes the "Lifeboat" back to keep the timeline from being altered and/or stop the thieves.

Spoilers Ahead.

Last night's episode was a little different. Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) went back to change time instead of protect it. Wyatt's wife was killed before he had been pulled into the program and he wanted to make sure the man who did that never existed. When they got back, they found out it had not worked. The man did not exist, but his wife had still been killed.
"We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall."                    Prov. 16:33 NLT
The reality is we can not fix everything ourselves. We have tried for years to fix things. The problem is we are a sinful race.
"Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil." James 4:13-16, NIV
Wyatt thought he knew what would happen when he got back. He thought he would go back to his find his wife there to welcome him. It did not work. Maybe the man who said he had killed her lied, or maybe Rittenhouse had been behind the murder somehow even from the start. His idea, which had even lead to a man's death as well as erasing one man from history, simply did not work.

But if you notice we are not told to never have any plans or that our ideas or points are useless. "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." We are supposed to be part of the solution. In fact James goes on to say that failing to do something we know we should do is sin. The question is more of an issue of whether we are cooperating with God and trusting Him or if we are trying to fix it on our own.

We might yet see Lucy get her sister back and Wyatt get his wife back. Or they might find that tampering with time is never going to work. But what about your life? Have you been seeking God's direction? Are you cooperating with Him? Why would you want to do it on your own and without Him?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Events of Feb./March 2017

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Here is a list of events Nerd Chapel will be at over the next 2 months.

I'll have a table at all of these events.

February 4: Byron Center Rec Comic Con https://www.facebook.com/events/228038290910925/

March 3-5: Michigan Statewide Teen Convention http://mistatewide.org/
Of these events, this is the only one that will use my public speaking skills. I'll be sharing at one of the main sessions and possibly leading a workshop.

March 11-12: Fantasticon Toledo http://www.fantasticon.net/

March 18: Muskecon https://www.facebook.com/events/1102894249776217/


Monday, January 9, 2017

Foggy and Fakery

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found through google/tumbler:
https://www.tumblr.com/search/foggy%20please
On my long quest of collecting and reading old issues of Marvel Comics. I have been reading issue 2 of Daredevil Marvel Masterworks which includes Daredevil 18 and 19. Foggy Nelson trying once again to impress Karen. His idea? Pretend to be Daredevil. Ok, so it was actually the idea of the guy at the costume shop who wanted to fight and kill superheroes to prove that he was the best costume maker (call him "Gladiator"). Foggy was just gonna have the costume around for her to find. DD had been noticing what was going on, of course. He was following Foggy when it all went down and managed to fight the villain and protect Karen. Of course, then the news somehow got wind that Foggy was DD and it got a whole lot more dangerous.

We all know that lying is a sin. It is condemned in the Ten Commandments as well as in Proverbs. But this was a particular kind of lying. This was putting on a show to impress people. He was being fake. By doing this he put both himself and others in danger. For most of us our fakeness will not get us in deadly situations. We won't be hunted down by someone who thinks we are another person to try and kill us. But, it still affects our friendships. It keeps us from getting to know others and them from getting to know us. The false pretenses it leads to will ultimately damage your relationships.

Why do we ever be "fake"? Quite simply, we like the attention. A pat on the back, laughter at jokes, smiles, hugs and of course invitations to events or dates. These all come with high emotions. But do these fulfill us? In most cases these are good things. They can all be forms of encouragement but they will not be the real fulfillment of any soul. That comes from Jesus, who was not afraid to say things that others did not want to hear, who has never pretended he was someone he isn't.

You are enough yourself. The only good kind of change is one that draws you closer to Jesus and is done for character growth and obedience to His calling. You do not have to pretend to be someone you are not. Look, we all have sinned. We have all had moments where we chose something wrong whether it was some form of sexual sin or lying or hatred. Also, we have all had silly moments where we did something socially awkward. You are not alone in that.

If you want to change, make it a healthy change. You do not have to agree with sin or do make up a story for attention. Especially the attention that is not in line with what God has for you. If you don't know what God has for you, start with scripture. Ask a friend for help. Just don't put on a show to get attention for the wrong act or to try and feel better. Foggy came clean at one point and you know what? Neither Matt Murdock nor Karen were all that mad at him. They just wanted to have the real Foggy safe.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Begins

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Today I want to look at the coming year. I am excited for a few things happening. Some are ministry details and some are just fun nerdy things. We'll look at fun stuff first.

As we continue what seems to be the "Decade of the Nerd" we have so many things happening on screen this year! I am not doing a "top 3" or anything like that because there is so much happening. The last season of Grimm starts this coming Friday along with a new, darker screen adaptation of The Wizard of Oz called Emerald City. I am very interested in how NBC's Friday night lineup these next couple of months will do. That will add to the shows I already keep tabs on (no, I am not going to list all of them). We also have Iron Fist and the Defenders coming for the Netflix MCU and 3 MCU movies this year! Also, we have Skull Island, both Wonder Woman and Justice League, Star Wars Episode 8, etc.

Boardgames? Well, I am not sure what games are coming out this year beyond the 2 I have coming from kickstarters. Unreal Estate is a card game about building a fantasy style city and Zephyr:Winds of Change is a cooperative game where you have a skyship that you take on missions. Honestly, I have not caught up with 2016 yet as I still have yet to play Scythe, Terraforming Mars, or Seafall. Gaming wise I am just excited to get back to Gen Con this year. I had to miss last year so I really don't want to miss this year!

In March I will be at a Christian youth convention called "Michigan Statewide Teen Convention" in Kalamazoo, MI. This will be my first time taking Nerd Chapel and 42:Discovering Faith through Fandom to a youth convention. It came about because I have been volunteering at this convention as a lighting tech for the main sessions for a few years now and they were interested in bringing a locally based non-traditional ministry to show students that ministry doesn't always mean working at a church full time.

I will also be at the Byron Rec Center Comic Con and Muskecon. These are both 1 day shows within driving distance of where I live that I'll have tables at. I do not have complete details on what shows I'll be returning to this year for Nerd Chapel. GrandCon is always a sound bet for me for a service. I expect to go back to Jafax, Midwest Media Expo with services and Fantasticon Fort Wayne with a table as well but we shall see what transpires.

Yes, I am going to be working on a sequal to 42. We have a direction to go in but we have not started the full writing process quite yet (although that will be soon).

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ponder Even While Busy

Season's Greetings and Salutations, Warriors and Scholars!

http://www.christmastvhistory.com/2012/07/eureka-christmas-2011.html
What are you pondering this Christmas season? Are you pondering about what gifts to buy for someone? How about that big play your kid is in that has rehearsals all weekend long? Are you pondering who to ask to that special dance on New Year's Eve? Maybe this is your first Holiday season with a certain someone just gone or adversely your first season experiencing Christmas with new eyes from Christ.

We have a lot going on around us and in our lives this time of year. Events, honey-do lists, kids activities, needs at church, etc, etc. Our American culture tends to be busy all of the time, but especially now in this time of year. In one of the Eureka Christmas specials ("Do You See What I See"), we find Jack and Allison and their family enjoying the last minutes of Christmas Eve and Allison is not even close to ready. She has so many things to do yet. She had grown up with very little Christmas and so now that she has kids, she tends to go way beyond the call of duty. With all the hub-bub going on, a bunch of signals get crossed and they all become animated. Literally, their senses start perceiving everything as various forms of animation throughout the episode because of another Eureka technical blunder.

Of course it all is fine in the end, but they don't really have time for individual pondering about the reason for the season. Luke records many things happening at Jesus birth. Travels to Bethlehem, angels appearing to some of the lowliest of social groups, etc. But one of the biggest lesson comes from Mary:
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
This verse comes to us during the night itself, when the shepherds came to find Jesus and the town was bustling with travelers for the census as well as Roman soldiers. Have you ever considered the actual atmosphere? People walking past the door looking for a place to stay or where to sign up for the census. Roman soldiers harassing the citizens because they would rather be fighting "for the glory of Rome" instead of "babysitting" a bunch of Jews. Vendors selling bread, fish, papyrus and other goods. People complaining about how much in taxes they had to pay.

I think Mary had other things on her mind, though. What it would mean for God's Son to be born near the animals instead of a private room? Why would angels tell shepherds, whom people disliked, a smelly and out-cast group. Why was she chosen? How would she raise a child that was supposed to change everything? Why were angels constantly appearing to proclaim the coming of this child? Remember they had approached her, Joseph, and now the shepherds.

Here we find Jesus operating as both "Lion" with great pomp and ceremony of angels proclaiming his birth and as "Lamb" by being born not in a palace but in what would have been a barn and only those with little respect and means being told about it by these angels.

In all of the hub-bub of the aforementioned Eureka episode, there are some interesting character explorations as a robot takes time to learn from Rudolph (who is in dog form). In order to learn this, he has to sit down and allow Rudolph to ponder his existence with him. He has to stop and be still for a time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Identity and Powers

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Legends of Tomorrow progressed a new theme for this season, one of an identity crisis. Spoilers if you have not yet watched this season.

The team itself faced it as they found their leader missing when rescued from time by Oliver and Nate Heywood, a historian. Rip Hunter had scattered most of the team when the ship was damaged while stopping a nuclear incident. He then went somewhere in time and chose to keep himself hidden from them. Basically, they lost their leader. When you don't have a leader, your team suffers. Another reason the team had such an identity crisis was that individuals were facing so many questions.

Heywood wanted to be a hero in the footsteps of his grandpa and had a rough first meeting with him when they met the JSA. He then gained powers but then had to figure them out.

Ray Palmer lost his suit after a Japanese warlord took it. Without his suit he was questioning his role on the team and his use as a hero. He even went to the point of trying to become Captain Cold. That persona did not fit him at all.

We also had another run in with a young Professor Stein. After seeing his future self and realizing that time travel was real, he lost himself in his studies. To a point that it was damaging his marriage quite heavily.

In most of these cases, you have people basing their value on their equipment and skills and knowledge. They all lost sight of the real truth. These things all come out of our identity; they do not shape it. As a Christian, I find my identity in my savior. In following Jesus I am forged and granted skills and powers (a.k.a. spiritual gifts), though not the same as those you see in comic books.

From an early point the church struggled with the concept of viewing our identity in skills and knowledge. Paul often wrote against Gnosticism, which was trying to affect the church with the lie that if you have special knowledge you are more special or important. Many in the church got overly focused on having certain spiritual gifts (a.k.a. powers). We have a whole chapter dedicated to warning us about the over-emphases on speaking in tongues.

You see while spiritual gifts are great, useful and sometimes extraordinary, our view of them can be skewed by our worldly desires. What did Paul say about worldly desires and objects?
"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ," Philippians 3:8, NASB
Our abilities and our desires will never fulfill us. They are part of us but they can not define us. They don't have that power. Even our roles don't really define us. Often times we define these things but scripture makes it clear: Christ is our fulfillment. Hobbies, roles, even gifts from Christ will never be able to fill the place in our lives meant for Him.

As we follow Jesus, He will fulfill us. As He fulfills us and trains us to love each other and Him, through what we often call the Fruit of the Spirit, we become better at handling all these things. Our hobbies do not necessarily get lost, but they often become part of God's mission for us. Our skills and powers are used for that mission. But overall, the one single fulfilling aspect of life is Jesus Himself.