Grand Con

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

GrandCon 2017

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!


This last weekend at GrandCon was amazing. Lot's of people came by the Nerd Chapel table and we had the highest attended Nerd Chapel service at a con ever! I got to talk with some great vendors, run two games of Pandemic and teach a few people to play Monsterpocalypse. This year the con was held in downtown Grand Rapids at the Devos Place.


At the table I handed out a lot of stickers from GameChurch and some coloring pages from Costumers for Christ plus a few bookmarks for "God Loves the Freaks" by Stephen Weese. I also sold a few copies of 42:Discovering Faith through Fandom and met some great people. I was surprised when Albin Johnson, founder of the 501st, a cosplay group that is well known for quality Star Wars cosplays, stopped by the table and talked with me for about 10 minutes. He was very encouraging.


In the service Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower preached about the storms of life, I led communion and Jon Mietling (designer of the game, "Zephyr Winds of Change") led us in worship with his guitar. This was the first time we have had someone come bring a guitar for help with worship. About 32 people came which is double our highest attendance in the past. It was a bit hard to find the room as it was on the 3rd floor and there was no signs from the con for the seminar room (the room itself did have some permanent signs).

A lot more cosplay this year than last year.

Darrin Ball ran a lot of games including Trench, Formula D and a Dominion tournament.

Monsterpocalypse!





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jesus and the Happily Ever Sacrifice

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on IMDB.
I watched a bit of an episode of "The Librarians" from TNT the other day. Season 2, Episode 9: "And the Happily Ever Afters." The team was under a spell in a small town on an island all experiencing their idealized dream of a life. Flynn Carsen (played by Noah Wyle) had been off finding more artifacts and came home unaffected by the spell to find them all gone and the clippings book going crazy with a situation on the island.

He found them quickly but they were all held in this. He also found a fairy (played by Hayley McLaughlin) who helped him trap them and talk to them. What they found was that they needed to choose to give up the idealized life in order to be free of the spell and claim their true life back.

Do you have your idealized life? Do you have your happily ever after? Sometimes what we think is our best life is just a ruse. It might be really good things, but it is not what God dreams for us. Jesus himself said that we need to lay down our lives to find it.
"Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39
There are the dreams we dream for ourselves, and there is God's dreams for us. His vision for who we can be and the adventures we can experience. Sometimes he gives us something else we had not thought of and sometimes He gives a thing we give up back to us, perhaps transformed in a way we had never thought of.

In the show they had to place talismans down to symbolically give up the fake lives, but Paul tells us that presenting ourselves to God "as a living sacrifice" is our "spiritual act of worship" and is pleasing to God (Romans 12:1).

We live in a world that says we should live according to our desires. That we must be subject to our nature, but Jesus tells us to give that to Him and to control our natures. One day we will even give the crowns we have earned by serving God back to Him, as a way of recognizing that it was all about Him anyway. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

GenCon 50

Greetings Warriors and Scribes.


I just got back from the best 4 days of gaming on a significant year. GenCon 50 was amazing. As seen above, the gamers took over Colts stadium for the week. This was in addition to the entire Indiana Convention Center and rooms at adjoining hotels.  I did spend some time helping Nathan Marchand with his table but I also played games and cosplayed. I had many great experiences but here are some of the cream of the crop for you.

Sagrada:

This game is lots of fun. I played 2 rounds of it. Rolling and assigning dice to build stained glass windows with limited options that must be chosen carefully to manipulate the dice. This was a lot of fun and it is not a long game.



Warehouse 13:

This was the biggest excitement for me in terms of gaming this weekend. I loved the SYFY show and this game is a faithful exploration of the world. It has a traitor element that is engineered with a similar feel to Battlestar Galactica, which is very fitting to the show. Sitting and talking with the designers was very fun and they are definitely fans of the show. One guy playing with us has not seen the show but he loved the game. This was a major high point of the convention.

This is a semi cooperative game. Each play through is a season and each round is an episode. Through the game you will find clues to figure out what item is causing issues and work to gather the needed tech, intuition,  etc. to stop the situation. However, someone else is also seeking the items to use against your team and one member is secretly working for them. There is a cooperative version for 2 players.

Watch for this to hit Kickstarter!



Buy the Rights:

This is a fun party game where the players are all pitching the movie ideas for the money to make them. Each round a different person will be the "producer" with 20 million dollars to shell out to the other players. Winner is the person with the most money at the end. You will lay out four cards: Genre, Hero, Descriptor of the hero, and the plot. You can elaborate as much as you want to get the attention of the producer and have some fun.



Christian Gamers Guild Events:

The Christianity and Gaming Panel went well. This was a question driven panel that discussed things like planning game nights for churches, how to handle magic and other "dark" things found in gaming, etc.



The Church Service was great. Tom Vasel preached about slowing down for resting and for time with God. We had a full worship band with drums, electric and acoustic guitar and some a great list of songs. This is always a highlight of GenCon for me and this year did not disappoint.


Cosplay

I cosplayed as a Blue Lantern on Friday and Martian Manhunter for half of Saturday (before I went to a Heroscape tournament). Unfortunately the only Lantern related cosplayers I saw were on different days than when I was a blue lantern.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Remain in the Christ, Luke

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

http://www.bikesrepublic.com/featured/hjc-star-wars-introduces-luke-sykwalker-x-wing-helmet/
Do you remember how Luke destroyed the Death Star? Think about the sequence. He was coming in for the kill, had his targeting computer set...and then he hears this: "Use the Force Luke!" It was a call from Kenobi. Do not trust instruments. He turned off the targeting computer. Everyone back at the base was like "Hey, what's going on?" They did not think he could do it without the computer, but he did. He came in, Han shot Darth Vader's fighter and it careened out of control, and Luke made the shot and got out of them as the Death Star exploded.

Psalm 1:2-3 tell us that that anyone who puts their delight "in the law of the Lord" will be victorious "like trees planted by streams of water." Jesus told us that we need to "remain" in Him.
"I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up thrown into the fire and burned." John 15:5-6
It is so easy to get off task, right?  If you feel like you rarely read the Bible or pray, even though you firmly believe in Christ, you are not alone. Unfortunately it is pretty common for us humans. But what does it really mean to "remain in Christ"?  Here are a few thoughts:

1. Take opportunities to help others. Just a few verses later Jesus says that His command is to "love each other as I have loved you." The way we treat others is highly connected with how we experience Jesus. At another point He said people would know we are His by our love for each other. It will not always be a "big" thing. Often it will be small, like holding a door for someone. Sometimes it will be big, like helping someone move or donating to a necessary cause.

2. Read your Bible. Psalm 1 does put a focus on "the law of the Lord" and the longest chapter in the Bible is about gleaning from and trusting the Bible (Psalm 119). One of the most important things I got out of any youth ministry I was ever in was this: read some piece of scripture each day. Even if it is small. It does not need to be a huge chapter every day. I have a verse hanging by my door so I can read it as I go out or come in. I try, as often as possible, to stop and read when ever someone posts scripture on Facebook.

3. Look for opportunities to pray. When I get upset about stuff I often ask God to give me the right attitude. When I hear an emergency vehicle's siren, I stop and quietly pray for the situation. Paul tells us to "pray continually". That does not mean every prayer will be big.

4. Ask Him to be with you or to give you guidance. Every December, and often before it, I am already asking God what He wants for my next year. I do believe that God has adventures for us, although they are different for everyone. Have you ever asked God what He wanted for your day? He does not always answer right away. That is okay. He has not forgotten you.

Luke was effective when he leaned into the Force and trusted it. When we lean into Jesus, He does more than we can possibly imagine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

CGDC 2017

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.



This last weekend I attended the Christian Game Developers Conference in Portland, Oregon. While there I provided 2 chapel service opportunities, hosted one of the morning prayer times, and offered and offered opportunities for prayer appointments. If you payed attention to the FB page, you might have seen me "go Live" with Patrick Lysaght from Chara Games.

The services went well although they had small attendance. There was a lot going on and there was no good timing for them. We focused on finding God's definition of success. We focused on Micah 6:8 as our directive of how to define success and and we also considered, from Paul's admittance in Philippians 3:12-14 that he is still running the race, that this race is not a finish line race like the game Formula D, but an experiential race like the game Tokaido. One where we are collecting experiences with God rather than pushing for a finish line. We also looked considered how Jesus set an example with all three of the commands from Micah 6:8.

Nobody signed up for any prayer appointments, but this was a new idea for the conference and most attendees were focused on both networking and training for their fields.

This was a good experience. I got to meet some people I had not seen face to face before and start to understand more of the experience of Christians working in the video game field. Some are creating video games for the Christian market but most are simply using video games to share a story, such as the Greenes who created "That Dragon, Cancer." Their session on Immersive Narrative was amazing as they described the experience of putting their real live story of cancer into a video game. Another great session was by Justin Fox, from Kingdom Arts/Justin Fox Media, led a session on, well, artwork for the Kingdom of God. He shared how all art done with God, instead of for yourself, will be better than your own musings.

There were only a few boardgame developers demoing at the conference. Chara Games was running demos on both Commissioned and Unauthorized.

I encourage all game developers, tabletop or video game, to consider attending this conference next year. This would also be a good opportunity for writers and voice actors.







Saturday, July 8, 2017

What can you do?

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Happy summer! This summer is going by really fast.

Earlier this week my Mom and I continued our viewing of Stargate SG-1. One of the episodes we watched that night was "Maternal Instinct" from season 3. In this episode, they find out that Apophis is back with the army formerly committed to Sokar. He had attacked Chulack in his search for his child, a "harsesis" who has been hidden from him so he does not use the child as a new host and then gain all the knowledge of the Goa'uld. In their search for the child, the team goes to Keb, a spiritual destination for older Jaffa who are done fighting.

Here, they meet a monk and Daniel goes into a long discussion with him about many things. The monk, who never gives us a name, tries to get Daniel to use his mind to do things but is also talking about a "Oma Desala". At first Daniel thinks this is just a phrase for mother nature, but we later find that she is what would later be described as an "ascended being". Daniel realizes that his tricks of controlling small flames and moving things with his mind were not him at all. It was all Oma's doing. She then fights the army for them and takes the child away to safety.

Although there are obvious Buddhist parallels in this story as they use a similar setting and phrases by the monk are similar, there are some significant parallels for us as followers of Jesus as well. Jesus told us about a "Counselor" he would send us. This Counselor is known more commonly as the Holy Spirit. During the Old Testament He often came upon men and women God had called out for very special works but after a day we call Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon all who follow Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 12 we find a description of what we often call the Gifts of the Spirit. These are abilities God chooses to dispense to us through the Holy Spirit and yes I do think they can be called super powers. We learn a few things here:

  • The Holy Spirit gives gifts as he chooses to all who believe.
  • The gifts include "miraculous" things such as healing and "mundane" things such as administration.
  • All gifts are given for the common good, not for show-boating.
  • There is no formula to what gift(s) you get. 
Most importantly, we understand that these gifts all come from the Holy Spirit. If you are unsure about your gifts, I recommend 2 things. First, pray about it. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your gifts and to empower you to serve. Second, ask other believers who know you what they think your gifts are. There are some online spiritual gifts surveys out there that can be uses as tools to help you discover it, but that is not the first place I would start. 

Daniel did not light a candle with his mind or have any super powers. It was Oma Desala doing that. But in real life the Holy Spirit does make Himself and some gifts available to us as we serve Jesus. What can you do?

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.