Monday, March 4, 2019

Schedule for 2019

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Ruth Pike did the artwork for both books.
I am so excited for this new book! The New 42:Got Terraforms All Things. My co-author Nathan Marchand and I take readers on a journey from Genesis to Revelation to see how God is always doing new things and how we can experience His work and participate in it. Many stories from anime, gaming, science fiction, super heroes and fantasy will help us with our exploration. You will be challenged with daily side quests to help pursue the larger quest of knowing Christ more fully. We will be premiering this book at MuskeCon at the Holiday Inn in Muskegon, MI on March 23. It will be on Amazon soon after that and eventually will be on the Kindall.

Have you been to Nathan's website and looked at his fiction writing? You should do so by going here.

Here are my current con plans for 2019. NOTE:there might be changes to this list so check back every now and then or "Like" the Facebook page. You can also follow me on Instagram (nerd_chapel).

If you want to find even more nerdy events in Michigan check out www.migeekscene.com.

March 23:           MuskeCon in Muskegon, MI.
March 30-31:     Fantasticon in Port Huron, MI
April 14:             Attend Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, IL. Not tabling just enjoying the con for                               one day. Say hi if you see me.
April 19-21:       Heroes and Villains Fanfest in Chicago, IL. as part of the Costumers for Christ crew.
May 4:                Heroes Expo in Kentwood, MI
June 7-9:             JAFAX in Grand Rapids, MI. First time with a booth here. Cooperating with author                             Paul Nowak and the Redeemed Otaku Podcast.
July 20:               KoganCon in Grand Haven, MI. Hosting games in the TableTop area.
July 27-28:          Get Geek'd in Lansing, MI.
August 1-4:         GenCon in Indianapolis, IN. Helping Nathan with his table in Author's Ave.
Aug. 30-Sept. 1: GrandCon Gaming Convention in Grand Rapids, MI.
                           We will have a Chapel event and a table. I will also run some games.
Sept. 21-22:        Fantasticon in Fort Wayne, IN.
October 19-20:   Fantasticon in Mount Pleasant, MI.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Arrogance Diminishes Wisdom

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Found on google. Apparently originated on Pintrest.
The phrase above is the "Jedi fortune cookie" for episode 15 in season 1 of The Clone Wars and is cited as an Arabian proverb in some places online.

Spoilers ahead.

In the said episode, Anakin and Obi-Wan come to Orto Plutonia, an "uninhabited" planet claimed by it's inhabited moon, Pantora. With them are some clone troopers as well as two dignitaries from the moon, including a galactic senator named Ryio Chuchi and Chairman Chi Cho. They find the clones at a facility there killed but not with blasters. As they investigate the area, they also find a detachment of battle droids that seems to have been destroyed by the same attackers. This planet might turns out to be inhabited by a race called the Talz.

In dealing with the locals, Chi Cho is not willing to deal with them. In fact, he sees them as animals and wants to wipe them out, even though the Jedi have promised the locals a peaceful solution. While a fight ensues, Ryio Chuchi manages to get permission from the government to override the Chairman. In this battle, many clones were killed and Chi Cho himself is fatally wounded.

Arrogance is an attitude that puts you above all others. It enables rudeness, disrespect, and even acts like theft and murder. It was arrogance mixed with hatred that fueled Hitler's horrible goals and blinded him to the point where he sent countless men to the death in Russia over a personal squabble with Stalin. I'm glad it blinded him because that helped the allies win, but the outcome of death is a horrid thing.

There are a lot of scriptures about arrogance.
"Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed." 1 Samuel 2:3  
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1
Arrogance keeps us from seeing the value and beauty in others, which is exactly what was wrong with Hitler. He refused to believe in the value of Jews, the handicapped, other races, and homosexuals. This same attitude led to his downfall.

So what happens when we approach God and others with humility? In Luke 18 Jesus tells a parable of two men praying. One uses it to gloat that he does not do this sin or that sin. The other beats his chest, is scared to look toward heaven, and screams "Forgive me!" Jesus gave the credit to the man who would not look up and sought forgiveness.

At the end of the episode Senator Ryio Chuchi says this: "To die for one's people is a great sacrifice; to live for one's people, an even greater sacrifice. I choose to live for my people. What do you choose?" This attitude reflects that of Jesus who died to bring forgiveness to all who would accept the free gift in humility and came to serve. The night he was arrested he shared a moment with his disciples by washing their feet which was something expected of a slave to do for those they served.

"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." Romans 12:3
Humility doesn't mean we treat ourselves as wasted breath, but that we understand our value in Christ, the gifts and talents we have, and we seek to use them for His glory and the greater good. Arrogance Diminishes while Humility Builds. The Senator brought peace between her people and the Talz with humility. What can you do with humility?

Monday, November 26, 2018

NeverEnding Sorrow

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Found on imdb.com
This weekend my Mom and I watched the NeverEnding Story for the first time in years. I probably had not watched it since high school or even middle school (and I'm in my 30s now). This film from 1984 is filled with fantastic creatures, twists, and a significant theme: sorrow.

This theme comes out in the beginning when we realize that Bastian has lost his Mom, possibly quite recently, and is also dealing with bullies on the way to school. While running from the bullies he finds an old book shop where the owner teases him about a certain book. "This one is to dangerous" he says before wandering off to answer the phone. Bastian grabs the book and runs off to skip class and read it in the schools attic. We then go on a journey with Atreyu, who is destined to help find a cure for the Empress who is sick.

Spoilers ahead.

Along the way, Atreyu faces many difficulties. As he seeks out a wiseman he must go through a bog known as a place of sorrow. He knows that anyone travelling through must not give in to the sorrow but should keep going. If they stop and sit in it, they slowly drift down and are consumed by it. While Atreyu handles this alright, his horse does not. We watch in the saddest scene of the movie as his horse refuses to move and slowly sinks in. This warns us of the horrible reality of depression. It isn't sudden. It creeps up on you and slowly erodes you, even when brought on by sudden events such as unexpected deaths or rejection.

"A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed." 
Proverbs 15:13 ESV

After losing his horse he forces himself to move forward, one big, painful step at a time. Eventually he finds this wiseman, who is not what you expect. He has been torn down not just by years of living in a place of sorrow but by living alone in the place of sorrow. He knows what Atreyu needs to do and gives him instructions, but he does not see any hope. It has been drained from him over the years simply by loneliness.

Loneliness, sorrow, rejection are all intertwined. Find one and it will feed on the other two. I know this from experience as do many other people. The reason for the title is not just that this land we are exploring through Atreyu is never-ending, it is because sorrow feels that way. When stuck in it you don't feel like you will ever find a way out.

But that is when Jesus comes. Just like a luck dragon named Falkor who comes with great cheer and hope, Jesus steps in to save the day. Jesus spoke of this many times:

 "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world."          John 16:33
"Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy not sacrifice. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners" Matthew 9:12
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls..."                                                                                                       Matthew 11:28
I remember one of the hardest times of my life. I came back to college after a bad Christmas break where my Grandma died. Upon telling a girl, whom I thought was one of my best friends, that my Grandma had died; she walked away without saying a word and broke off our friendship in an email a couple days later.  One guy, new to school, told me I was walking around looking like death. In this time of difficulty, I spent two hours an afternoon for five days straight meeting alone with Jesus. Over this time I read John 17, prayed and wrote a few things down. Although those writings are now lost, I gleaned some things from John 17 that I prayed over myself for years after that on a regular basis. A few friends also rallied around me and walked with me in this.

Jesus is always available to us. He won't necessarily take difficulty away, but He will walk with us and lighten our load. Sometimes he will do big miracles but that is not as common as His presence, which is very powerful. He might use the hardship to shape you into a better example of Him to others. All we have to do is meet with him in prayer, worship, and reading scripture. Just make sure you come to Him with a listening ear. In this way NeverEnding Sorrow is ended by Eternal Grace.

As you watch the movie you will notice that Falkor acts like this. He doesn't take the difficulty away from Atreyu, but he does bring cheer to him and aids him on his way. Well, ok, maybe he does take one difficulty away, but I won't spoil that for you.

Quick Note:if you look above the article you will find a link to a band-new Ko-Fi account. If you want to support what is happening on this blog and with the convention ministries I do, please go and support me there.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Daredevil and Manifest Listen

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!



Listening to God is a subject that is difficult for modern minds to handle. It has come up in the new season of "Daredevil" (specifically Ep. 2 of season 3) and has come up a lot in the show "Manifest".

In a flashback to a conversation with Father Lantom when he was a kid he gets warned that his anger will destroy him if he doesn't handel it well. After suggesting that this might be God's plan, they have this conversation:

Father Lantom: "Maybe you don't understand original sin after all. God gave us free will, Mathew.                                 Adam and Eve were not puppets; neither are we. We make our own choices. It's one                             reason we pray. For help making good ones. You should try it sometime."

Mathew:           "I do pray. I pray all the time, I've been praying for years. God doesn't talk to me."

Father Lantom: "So that's what this is about? You feel God is neglecting you? Matthew, the burning                               bush business doesn't happen very often, even in the Bible. Usually more subtle                                   than that. You want to hear God, Mathew, you have to listen more carefully. He                                     speaks in whispers."

In "Manifest" we are seeing a different conversation. Many members are hearing something they call "The Calling" and sometimes seeing things. These promptings are very insistent and they just come back again if ignored. They don't have any trouble hearing it, but they don't know where it is coming from. In the most recent episode a question is brought up as to whether or not this Calling can be trusted. These promptings have led to several developments including the rescue of two young girls who were kidnapped. Yet there is still a question, can we trust this voice? What is the real agenda behind it?

In the Old Testament listening to God was something that seemed to be reserved for prophets. Only those that God called to a special purpose could meet with Him. Now for Moses this was such a deep relationship that it had a certain "face to spirit" aspect. He regularly met with God and regularly heard from Him. While at Mount Sinai he spent some 40 days alone with God and that resulted both in the 10 commandments and the first few books of the Bible. Exodus 33 records that he had a "Tent of Meeting" outside the camp where he was meet with God and seek wisdom from Him. Other prophets that sought God a lot include Joseph, Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, and many more.

But a prophet named Joel prophesied that one day many would have the Holy Spirit. That many would prophesy and have dreams from God. Then, Jesus came. As "Emmanuel" (God Among Us) He taught publicly and mentored 12 men. Then, He was crucified and rose again. 10 days after He ascended to the Throne, the Holy Spirit brought on an event we call Pentecost. In this event the disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit and then began their ministry of spreading the Word of Jesus. Now, we all have access to it.

Listening to God is not meant to be rare for us. Originally Adam and Even had plenty of access to God. Then sin came and corrupted them. God is fully available to us, but are we listening? Are we seeking Him? Do we pray to get things for ourselves or to hear from Him? Here are a few thoughts:

1. Ask. The book of James tells us to ask for wisdom. Jesus told us to knock and the door would be opened. Have you asked God for wisdom? Have you asked Him to speak to you?

2. Sit. Yes, I do think that God might bring thoughts to your mind as you sit and wait. But you need to put your attention to Him. That means a place that is quiet.

3. Compare what you hear with scripture. God will never ask you to do something against His own teachings.

4. Sometimes you need to set the thought "on a shelf" and wait to see if God brings it back in another way.

5. Look. Sometimes I hear form him in music; other times something meaningful will be in a book I'm reading or a show I'm watching. Other times I've been out in nature and God has met me when I was not expecting it.

If you want a full sermon, you should check this link. Pastor Peter Yoshonis spoke about this just this past Sunday at All Shores Wesleyan Church. Well worth a listen.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Manifest 828

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.



Earlier this week I sat down with my Mom to watch the pilot episode of "Manifest." A new drama with a time travel intro and very little else to catch my attention, aside from Josh Dallas of Once Upon a Time as a lead actor. What I found was more mystery than the trailers let on and a show much more focused on spiritual development than I expected. Sit down ladies and gentlemen it is time for some geek theology!

SPOILERS AHEAD

The show begins with a family getting on a plane. The family consists of 2 older parents, a son named Ben Stone (played by Josh Dallas) with his wife Grace (Athena Karkanis) and their twin children. Also along is Ben's sister, Michaela Stone, played by Melissa Roxburgh. As the family talks we soon see that the matriarch of the family is a believer, especially when she quotes Romans 8:28 while talking to Michaela about the guy who wants to marry her and other life stuff.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."          Romans 8:28
With the plane overbooked the family splits up with the older siblings and the brothers son staying behind for another flight. What we then find out is that the son, 8 years old or so, has cancer. Soon they are on the plane and someone else is working on a research paper.

With some interesting symmetry and connection, the flight they take is labeled as Flight 828. There was a major shift of turbulence on the flight but nothing else was unusual. Everyone on the flight is confused when they are held back upon landing. This state of confusion continues as they try to come back to life, family and friends. Although they left the vacation spot and went straight to New York, the flight has arrived late by about 5 and a half years. I have had late flights before, but that takes the cake.

We find out that Michaela is a member of the police force, as is her boyfriend who is now married. The twin sister is now five years older. The woman with the research work comes to find her work in a clinical trial for cancer treatment. That is not where the 828 issue stops. Through the show Michaela and then Ben each start hearing very clear instructions to do different things. Michaela helps a bus driver stop right before a kid runs into the road. They let 2 dogs loose after this constant push to "set them free" but later on, when going to apologize for the gate breaking with her Detective ex-boyfriend, Michaela finds two missing girls being held captive by the guy who owned the dogs. Finally, all the passengers find themselves drawn back to the plane only to watch it explode.

This show works on one single issue: can bad things happen for good reasons? As a Christian, I trust God to use all things, good and bad, for His purposes. But in life that that belief is consistently challenged. It often feels like just another platitude being pushed out to try and make me feel alright when so many things are so wrong. Here we find a mainstream show that is daring to ask that question. Is this just a platitude? They just happen to be using a thin line of fantasy in their questioning.

This is not surprising to many of us. Just like all fiction, fantasy and science fiction are all about the human experience. Why do we think this way? How would that change us? The show is not titled "Manifest" because of a list of passengers. It is titled "Manifest" because something is manifesting in the lives of the passengers to bring about change in a world that is hurting. What happened to the flight? Why did it happen? What will the result be?

I firmly trust that God is working for our good. I don't think He wants bad to happen, but when it does He makes better people out of us through them. I can tell you that when I was rejected by a girl in college it probably kept me from experiencing a bad relationship. Think about the crucifixion. It was the worst thing ever. The Son of God killed by His own people. Yet through that we find Jesus taking our sin on Himself so we can have a healthy relationship with God. He took a horrible thing and used it for good. Then He did the best come-back ever by resurrecting from the dead.

In this show, a time travel experience and a new power of knowledge are being used to ask if bad really can be used for good. Along with that, other questions seem to be getting explored about family, faith and destiny. While I don't expect a perfect Biblical lesson in each episode, I plan to keep watching and see where it goes. Will you be watching?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

GrandCon 2018

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!


GrandCon 2018 was a success. Over the 3 days I connected with several faces I don't see very often who have been following Nerd Chapel for some time. I also met new people and some people I see a bit more often. This show has a special place in my heart. I consider it to be the flagship show for Nerd Chapel. For the first time I had buttons for sale and stickers to hand out.



All the games I hosted went over very well (Pandemic, Unauthorized, Commissioned). I also played 2 rounds of Coup and got to play Scream of Die, a new game just about to come out where you play as monsters that have become little kids and are trying to get candy.


Photo Credit: Katelyn Campbell

Photo Credit: Katelyn Campbell

For the Sunday morning service we had about 40 people, which is even more than last year. Definitely our highest attended event yet. Portal Dragon team members Jon and Liz Meitling led worship. They did a fantastic job. My buddy Darrin Ball led us in communion and brought us a devotional based on LotR. I spoke about Truth by using "Legend of the Seeker" and jumping around the book of John quite a bit to find different pieces of our discussion.

GrandCon is a different experience for Nerd Chapel than other cons as a community has built up. Most cons I have a table as a visible connection point but here we have a combination of the table, games where people interact and the service on Sunday morning. This is happening naturally so nobody has to push it.



I also had the pleasure of  help from a new ally. One of the team members for A'Campbell Consultants joined me just for one day of the con. Katelyn Campbell was a great help and company. Glad to be able to serve with her.

This was a successful weekend indeed. Next I will be at Fantasticon in Fort Wayne, IN. This show will just be a table but it is always a good time. This is one of the shows I know Nathan Marchand will be able to hang out with me at.




Thursday, September 13, 2018

DragonCon

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!



A couple weeks ago I made a trip down to Georgia for DragonCon. I am trying to get out of the Great Lakes region once a year to network and explore and this year I felt this would be a good stop. I have been connected with the Bridge, a Christian nerd community that has been involved with this con for years) on FB for a while now but I had not met many of them face to face before so this was a chance to do that.

In short it was an amazing weekend. My time with the Bridge included helping with the table, walking with them in the parade, attending the Sunday service, and a few opportunities just to sit and talk. I also had the pleasure of hanging out with Hector Miray, who writes the Faith and Fandom series of books. I was surprised to find a panel on the Catholicism of Skully from The X-Files and I attended a panel on Christians in Dark Fantasy. This was an amazing time.

Along with all of this, I enjoyed panels for Warehouse 13, the Librarians, Doctor Who and a panel with Lou Daimond Philips and Mitch Pileggi.  I also got some photo-ops with a few actors. 

DragonCon is a lot to take in and figure out. It stretches across many city blocks with 5 hotels hosting a variety of events as well as 2 other buildings hosting gaming and the exhibit area. It felt very chaotic but it was a lot of fun and has way more opportunities than you will be able to take advantage of. I did not do any of the gaming at all but I did walk through and take a look at the gaming area.

This weekend, Sept. 14-16 I will be at GrandCon in Grand Rapids, MI and the next weekend, the 22-23 I'll be at Fantasticon in Fort Wayne, IN.

Here are some pictures from DragonCon but there are many more on Facebook if you find the Nerd Chapel page.