Grand Con

See Nerd Chapel at Grand Con 2015! Go to http://grand-con.com/

Monday, June 5, 2017

2017 Summer/Fall Con Schedule

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Here is my con schedule for official events for this year. There might be additions or changes, but this is what I currently have planned:

June 18: Nerd Chapel Sunday Service at JAFAX in Grand Rapids, MI. I'll be hanging out at the con all weekend but not with a table. The service is at 10am Sunday Morning in Panel Room 2. You might find me walking around as Martian Manhunter from Justice League/Justice League Unlimited on one of these days.

July 20-22: Christian Game Developers Conference in Portland, OR. Many details still need to come together but this is happening. I'll be helping with the ministry/worship portion of the event and possibly running games.



Sept. 15-17: GrandCon Gaming Convention in Grand Rapids, MI. This will include both a table and the Nerd Chapel Sunday Service. I'm running 2 rounds of Pandemic Friday night and a session for Monsterpocalypse on Saturday night.

Oct. 28-29: Fantasticon in Fort Wayne, IN. with a table.

Nov. 11-12: Fantasticon in Mt. Pleasant, MI. with a table.

Unofficial, I'm sure I'll be hanging out at Grand Rapids Comic Con in October and I am hoping to make it to GenCon in August, but these will not be "official" in any way. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Arrow, The Flash, and Helping Enemies

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

This week I enjoyed the season finales of both The Flash and Arrow. One of the interesting subjects raised in both of these episodes was that of turning a foe into a friend.

http://www.playbuzz.com/brookem24/team-flash-or-team-arrow
Spoilers ahead.

In The Flash, Barry Allen tried to help Savitar. We learned before this that Savitar is actually a future version of Barry, or more accurately a time remnant Barry created to help fight Savitar; who eventually became Savitar. Yeah. Anyway, while Captain Cold had helped him steal a power source for the Speed Cannon, he was told something important: your goodness is the best par to who you are. In other words, you can't always fight fire with fire. Barry decided not to try and destroy Savitar, but instead to offer to help him somehow. Spoiler: Savitar failed to kill Iris. Since this is a big part of what made him Savitar, that meant time would catch up with him and erase him. The Flash offered to help find a way for Savitar to continue living. In this case, it did not work. Savitar just tried to kill them all.

In Arrow, we find Oliver has been brought back to Lian Yu, the island he had been stranded on. He found Digger Harkness and Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. He asked them to help him. Digger Harkness pretended to join him and then revealed he had received a "better offer". Ok, this sounds bad. Why keep trying to turn enemies into friends? I mean, this seems like it isn't turning out well.

The principal is not an issue of how effective this was. It is an issue of right vs. wrong. For Barry, this was an issue of choosing his best self. Admittedly, Oliver was at the end of his ropes. But I think there was also a sense in Oliver of wanting to give Slade and Harkness one last chance to change.

Think about the man named Barnabas in the New Testament. He rooted and argued for Paul to be giving a second chance by the Church after he had persecuted many Christians. Even after that he still believed in second chances. When Paul did not want to trust one young man, Barnabas did. He loved giving second chances to people. Even if it didn't work. In Paul's case, where would we be without his letters or his work as a missionary?

Jesus himself told us to pray for those who persecute us and love our enemies. This is not just commanded by Him. By appearing to Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus was exhibiting this for us. He also exhibited this for us by responding gracefully to a thief while they were both being crucified.

We did see some good results in these episodes as well. After Savitar started his plan with the speed cannon, they had a fight and Killer Frost, aka Caitlin Snow, started helping the heroes. She left his side to join back with her friends. Slade also accepted the offer. He worked with Oliver to rescue the his son and friends from Adrian Chase. The man who had killed Oliver's Mom and had done massive damage to the city with the Mira Kuru drug (sp?) chose to help his enemy.  Now, I don't know what the story tellers have planned for him in the future but this is significant.

How can you give someone a second chance? 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Music vs. Curses

Greetings Scholars and Warriors!

Found at: http://www.eonline.com/news/847431/hook-s-song-from-the-once-upon-a-time-musical-episode-is-here-it-s-a-swashbuckling-delight
This season we have seen many shows adding music for special episodes. This happened for the Supergirl/Flash crossover in March and recently we saw this on Once Upon a Time. OUaT gave us the more interesting one, though. During the flashbacks for this episode, we saw Snow White, Charming, the Evil Queen, Hook, and a few others singing their hearts out.

Spoilers ahead.

They woke up finding themselves singing due to a spell after Snow White had wished for protection for her unborn baby. As they sang, they noticed that the music was affecting their world in unexpected ways. Specifically, it was affecting the Evil Queens hold on them and her power. As they sang, her attacks were far less effective.

Music is something the Bible encourages us toward. The first song in the Bible was a Psalm written by Moses wife after the parting of the Red Sea. It was a celebratory song. Decades later, David used music to calm down King Saul when he was tormented by a spirit. The story is found in 1 Samuel 16:14-23. In verse 14 the spirit is described with a word that has been translated as both "harmful" and "evil".
"Whenever the spirit from God would come on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him." 1 Sam. 16:23 
David went on to write many Psalms, or spiritual songs, we would use in worship. The New Testament would also use songs. Paul is believed to have quoted a song in Philippians 2:6-11. He often encouraged us to use spiritual songs as encouragement to each other.

The above story is significant and a little strange. Yet it shows God is masterful in both creation and grace. Saul had been leading Israel away from God and flat out disobeying Him. Early on in that story we find out that God's spirit had left him because of this. He sent the spirit to torment Saul as a form of judgement, yet had the grace to allow music to provide relief. What this does show us is that music is powerful in the spiritual realm.

We don't talk much about spiritual warfare but it is a real thing. I have heard stories from people on missions who have been in situations where music was used to help heal with a person who was demonically possessed. I have heard other stories as well about music bringing relief or even cults using music against Christians.

The role of music as worship is to be a tool or a voice for us to express ourselves to God. It is useful for helping knowledge go from our heads to our hearts and bringing relief to us. I have been in multiple situations where I went to church frustrated with life and having a hard time singing, but yet the music would help me refocus and it would bring relief in the middle of my frustration.

Next time you feel depressed, spiritually oppressed, or frustrated; maybe you should put on some music. There are plenty of worship CDs out there and you can find many worship songs on various music sites as well as You Tube. Sing along and let God use the music to give you peace.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Asgard and the Holy Spirit

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

I have been watching Stargate SG-1 with my Mom lately. We just started season 3. Now you might remember in Season 2 there was an episode where Col. O'Neill interacted with a "headsucker". From this interaction, a large cache of data was downloaded into his head. He started speaking in Ancient rather than English and it was to much for his head. He would do things he didn't understand and it was overwriting his brain to the point that the doctor feared for his life.

Eventually he used the information in there to create a device that enabled a one-time trip through the stargate to an Asgard planet in another galaxy. The Asgard realized his situation and downloaded the info from his head so it would not endanger his life. In his conversation with them, he learned they had studied Earth and humans. "What did you learn?" he asked. "You have great potential." Eventually, the Asgard, especially Thor, begin a relationship with Earth, and specifically the SGC, that assists and even trains SG-1 and others. We even see an Asgard named Hermiod working on the Tau'ri vessel known as the Daedalus in Stargate Atlantis.

Jesus knew we had great potential. He spent years teaching thousands and even mentoring 12 men. But He wasn't done there. He promised a helper. A comforter. Enter the Holy Spirit.
"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you." John 14:26
Now, the Holy Spirit had been working before this. He had been with various prophets and kings of Israel, such as David and Jeremiah. But this was different. Eventually he came on a day known as Pentecost. This was about 50 days after the Resurrection. If you read through Acts you will find many instances and anecdotes where the Holy Spirit gives guidance and brings hope and healing. But He also oversaw the writing of Scripture, including both Old and New Testaments.

But The Holy Spirit did not stop there. He is available for you and me. When we need wisdom and help dealing with sin. When we don't know what to choose. Listening to him is not something that comes easily for everyone. Just like any other relationship or skill it takes time and development. But Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Father are available. However: you have to respond.  Here are a few helpful hints:

Don't expect every leading to be comfortable. He will ask you for things outside of your comfort zone. Deal with it.

Recognize that Prayer is a time to listen as well as talk. Often He will prompt you with an idea during prayer. Prayer is more than reciting a list of wants and needs. It is a conversation between you and God.

Expect the Unexpected. I remember watching The Amazing Spiderman 2 in the theater. The end, where a kid steps up in a Spidey costume right before Spiderman arrives, was a teachable moment between me and the Holy Spirit. "See that, when you step out in my name, I'll move." He might speak in other ways as well. It might be through a song or when you are walking your dog.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Be a Hero or Take it Easy

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/teri-hatcher-and-kevin-sorbo-lend-90s-flair-superg-252427
Today my Mom and I caught up a little bit on Supergirl by watching last weeks episode (along with the musical crossover on Flash after that). Spoilers ahead!

In last week's episode, "Star Crossed" (yes we get the hint CW), Supergirl found out Mon-El was not just a resident or citezen of Daxam, but a prince of the planet. He had lied to her. In their discussion about this, she tells him:
"You just want things to be easy, Mon-El, but being a hero and falling in love, those are not easy things. They're hard, and they're messy, and they hurt sometimes."
She is so right. Jesus Himself warned people who wanted to follow Him that it was not easy. In Luke 9 a man comes and asks to follow Jesus, but Jesus has a warning: Foxes have dens, birds have nests, but the Son of Man (Jesus) has no place to lay his head. Jesus did not have a home. He never owned a house and He was often surrounded by crowds for a variety of reasons, which included such desires as being healed by Him and desires to trick or even kill Him.

Another time Jesus tells us that if we want to follow Him we must take up our crosses and follow Him. Now, a cross is not a fun device. It is a torturous device of death. He was telling us we would have to die to our own desires. This was repeated by Paul in Romans 12 when he tells us that we should be "living sacrifices" to God.

Later on that episode, Mon-El chose not to go with his parents. He told them to leave without him because Supergirl had changed him. He didn't like who he was before he had met her and he didn't want to take the easy way out. I had mixed feelings about this. I think it showed some growth on his part and maybe he still needs help growing, but I kind of wanted to see him go back to Daxam and change the culture there.

So the question for each of us is this...what do we need to give up for God? Is it a selfish desire? Is it a sin? Sometimes God even asks us to give up good things for Him. Not because they are bad but so that our priorities are focused on Him alone. He might give that back at a later point and He might not. As Job says, "He gives and takes away"(Job 1:21).

Following Jesus is not an easy task, but it is good. It is messy and sometimes it hurts, but it is good.

Hey, please go to this link here and donate to my campaign for going to the Christian Game Developers Conference. I'll be doing prayer appointments and using my teaching gift through the weekend.
 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

K'un-Lun or the World?

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on IMDB.
Have you watched Iron Fist? I have. I do not feel that it deserves all the hate against it.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Some of it I understand, but I think it was well done and I enjoyed the show very much. The show looks at many issues, including the 1 Percent controlling resources, drug addiction, and even PTSD.

In the middle of the season, Iron Fist (aka Danny) gets a visit from his friend, Davos, who came from Kun Lun to find him. His friend is angry that he left K'un-Lun unguarded but is also angry about something else: that Danny got up and left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. Davos urges Iron Fist to come back to K'un-Lun an protect it as is normally the role of the Iron Fist. But Danny won't budge. He knows he has a role in NYC that needs to be fulfilled. Davos felt that the world was not worth fighting for. It was lost and they should not even try to save it.

In this we find a significant issue arising: that of removing oneself form the world, or being in it yet different. This is a debate that has gone on in the Christian community for a long time. In fact, there was a Jewish sect called the Essenes in the days that Jesus was doing His ministry that pulled away to a walled community top a hill and stayed there. Over the years there have been many "Orders" and monks that have build monasteries in rural places to get away from society.

Both sides have times when they get mad at each other. One side might accuse the other of being to worldly and not committed to relationship with Christ enough. On the other hand, the opposite side might accuse the monks/recluses of hiding away and not helping the world with problems and issues.

In reality there are certain uses for both if they are held in the correct tension. Jesus Himself moved in between both quite regularly. He often withdrew to lonely places for time alone with the Father and even spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting right before starting ministry. Yet he also spent time with people that the religious leaders would never hang out with. Tax collectors, "sinners", etc.

Keeping that tension involves a few things:

1. Keeping focused on Jesus and not on sin.

2. Working to help people around us and be a good influence.

3. Connecting with people who think differently than we do.

4. Time in prayer and Bible study alone and in groups.

I admit I have not been perfect at any of these three things. In all of them I have had times when I did well and times when I did poorly. Yet striving for a good flow of all this is important.

Considering what we found out at the end of the season, I think we shall see Danny having a hard time figuring all this out in the future. I think even in The Defenders we will see him dealing with this issue more.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thank you Toledo!

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!



Toledo was a great success. I met a lot of great people at Fantasticon. My interactions included an adult who came with teens he had met at church. We talked about his concerns with violent movies. A man who grew up Catholic but no longer identifies as a Christian. We talked about a lot of religious topics. He left saying a traditional blessing to me. A group of high schoolers who run a D&D campaign with a mix of religions who have received a lot of flack from members of their church. They were excited to find a Christian nerd out there publicly. A woman who called herself a witch. We talked a little and she thumbed through the devotional and walked away. On one side I had an author who has written a few books a comic (Cutthroat Comics). On the other side a guy who makes custom funko pops for people (Somehow I don't have a name for him or a card).

Many people bought copies of 42:Discovering Faith through Fandom. Some flipped through it and moved on.

One of the more confusing things I had was this. I saw about 4 or 5 people who had Christian shirts or shirts related to Christian schools on. Most of them didn't even look at my table. 1 of them was one of the high schoolers mentioned above. He was quick to buy a copy of 42. Don't worry, I'm not freaking out about this, but it was annoying. Whenever you have a table at a con there are those who just look past your table like it isn't there, even if you say "hi" to them. It happens, but when they have a shirt for something you both agree with it is extra annoying. Sometimes they were so inattentive that I knew if I tried to say something about their shirt it they would not even hear me.

Overall, this was a great weekend. Here are a few pics.