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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.




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Statewide Teen Success

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

I kept hearing "Moisterize me!" all weekend long. I wonder why?
This past weekend was amazing. I went to serve in ministry at the Michigan Statewide Teen Convention. They chose Nerd Chapel for their ministry focus for this year. This is a convention I have been serving at as a lighting tech for a few years now and I basically wore two hats. Focusing on both was a little difficult, but it was fun and a great challenge.

I got to share a small amount of what Nerd Chapel is all about in one of the main sessions. They also took up an offering to bless us with finances toward convention ministries. Along with this I taught a workshop (or Calibrate as they call them at Statewide) about using your passions missionally and also brought games for the fun time Saturday night.

The weekend was all about the "Tension" of conviction and grace. A pastor from Ohio challenged us about it in all four main sessions.

I got to speak a lot of people, many of which had never thought about ministry in the nerd realm. Some were nerds who were excited to find a ministry focused on them. Others were adults who were seeing this reach kids in unexpected ways.




If you would like me to come help with an event at your church or a youth event of some kind, message me on Facebook and we'll see what we can do, esp. if you can cover transportation expenses.

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.