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Friday, December 26, 2014

A Good Lingering!


This past month has been really busy. I have participated in The Journey to Bethlehem (see my last post) programmed and run lights for a large Christmas program at a church with a full rock band doing TSO songs and some acoustic and a Capella acts. I have also been working at the local mall selling calenders and games. Then on Christmas Eve I ran lights for the Christmas Eve services at All Shores Wesleyan Church, which consisted of a folky acoustic styling.

Needless to say, on Christmas Day I was pretty tired. And yes, we did have family over to our house so I got to do some cleaning before they came.

After all of this I chose to spend Christmas Day away from my computer and specifically away from email and social media. I feel like we often rush through Christmas. We get our gifts, spend 1 hour at church on Christmas Eve talking about Jesus, and run around between family events and parties.

I have heard mixed reports of what the Church as a whole has done with this focus in the past. One has suggested that the early church spent very little focus on His birth. They were more concerned with His resurrection. Another suggests that, at some point in time, there were groups that would spend weeks focusing on the birth of Christ.

Through this season I have tried to keep up with a reading plan from All Shores reading short scripture 6 nights a week. Some weeks I have done better than others and sadly this week was one where I didn't keep up as well.

I want to encourage you to do a couple of things as time moves away from Christmas 2014:

1. Don't move to quickly. Take some time to ponder Christ's birth this week. I know it isn't easy to make time for things, but don't just move on with an attitude of "I did that, now let's go to the next thing"

2. At the same time, keep Christ's ultimate mission in mind. Jesus came to "seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). In Luke 4 He quoted Isaiah 61 for his mission statement:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

3. Seek to join Jesus in His mission.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Behtlehem or bust!

Greetings Warriors and Scribes of the King!

I hope this holiday season is going well for you. I have had quite a busy time. Last week I had the pleasure of working alongside believers from about 25 churches of varying backgrounds in presenting "The Journey to Bethlehem".

This was an interactive theatrical event that lasted for 3 nights. We bussed people from a church to a park where 2 guides would walk them down a trail to meet the magi, shepherds, a scribe named Morticai, and eventually to Bethlehem and then the manger. Oh, and they were harassed by roman soldiers along the way. Some little kids were terrified by the soldiers, others, both young and old, were harassed even more because they would not stop laughing. We then bussed them back to the same church for cookies and hot cocoa. I was one of the guides. Over the 3 nights over 3,700 people experienced this. We had thousands of cookies donated, most of which were actually homemade by families and church groups (that is a lot of baking!).

One of the things we overlook in the story of Jesus birth was the travel. We forget that it was not safe for Mary and Joseph because of animals, robbers, and even Romans. I would not be surprised if Mary and Joseph were able to travel in a group because so many people needed to travel for the census, but I don't know for sure as people would have been going to many different cities.

In all this danger, Mary was about to give birth. So she was uncomfortable to begin with. Then, you have to realize that Mary would not have been counted in the census because women were not counted. All that way and she wasn't even counted; although she was taxed (Romans loved their money).

Is there something God is challenging you to do that does not seem normal or safe? Maybe he wants you to volunteer somewhere that is out of your comfort zone. Not all things God calls us to are dangerous, in fact many are not. But sometimes they are. God protected Mary and Joseph by sending them down to Egypt when the babies were about to be killed. He actually used a dream to get them moving. You may not be charged with the care of God's only baby boy, but you are under His protection when you obey Him. Instead of steering away from danger, trust Him in the danger. Sometimes He'll steer you away, but other times He'll just walk with you.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Flash and Power



Hey guys. Sorry I haven’t gotten a new blog up in a while. We have been busy with moving into a new house and I have had some problems connecting with wifi at our new house.

So I’ve been thinking about a recent episode of “The Flash”. No, this is not the cross over episode, although that is a great episode. Yes there are SPOILERS in this post. A meta-human that feeds on electricity starts causing massive trouble around town. In an encounter with them Barry loses his powers. You see this guy drained so much energy out of him that they paused. As they went on to explore the issue with his problems, he came and attacked Star Labs, sucking power from the city and allowing the Clock King to cause a terrible situation at the police station, putting several lives in significant danger, including Iris.

Back to the Flash, they decided to try to charge him with electricity on the bar of the treadmill. You see a slight little vibration in Barry, but he still can’t run. As the night goes on, the situation gets more dangerous. Eventually, Caitlin Snow checks him and finds that he should indeed have his speed. His cells are all operating at the normal “Flash” efficiency. She challenges him to believe it. Then, Doctor Wells calls out the meta-human and gets into trouble, of course. 

Right at the point in which Doctor Wells would be killed, Barry gets his speed back. He didn’t receive back his belief until someone was in absolute danger. He had his power all along, but he lost his trust in himself. Barry has a lot of pressure on him. The pressures of the department for his job, his desire to have Iris in a deeper relationship. His desire to help people and save lives as the Flash. As soon as he lost his powers he doubted himself. When his body was physically recharged, he still doubted. 

As followers of Christ, we are the same way. We fall into a sinful pattern such as lust or an angry attitude and we feel like we can’t get out of it. 2 Peter 1:3 &4 tell us:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

God has already give us the ability to rise above these sins. We just need to trust Him for the power. We need to believe it. Now, this power does come “through our knowledge of Him who called us”. God doesn’t give us rules He won’t empower us to follow. We often fail to use this power. Often we simply don’t think it is available. We think God is so sick of our sin, why would He give us any power? But, the reason He makes His power available to is to get away from that sin. God loves redemption. To come and die for our sins but NOT provide the power to overcome the patterns they lead to would not fit with His agenda.

There is one more side to this: the more we sin, the more likely it will negatively affect those around us. Sometimes we don’t wake up to the need to change until someone around us is really hurt by it. When it comes to lust and a single person, we often don’t even realize that lust now will affect our spouse later as it affects our expectations and desires. Flash didn’t get working again until someone’s life was in danger. Don’t let things get that far.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

With Great Power...

Found at www.unleashthefanboy.com.


Hey guys.

Tonight the growth group I lead for my church was discussing spiritual gifts. Interestingly, this discussion took place as part of an 8 week series on surrendering to God. I know this seems like a strange context for talking about spiritual gifts, but it really isn't. It was exciting to see how we were all exploring out gifts and where we might fit in.

Often times when we discuss spiritual gifts we don't look at the larger picture. Like a certain web-head, we focus on our own, individual situation. We look at our gifts without considering where we fit in the full plan of what God is doing currently or His great plan for all time.

Have you recently read any of the passages that discuss these gifts? The Apostle Paul often discusses them during the same time as he discusses unity in the Church.

Read 1 Corinthians 12-14 or Romans 12. God gives us these super powers but He has certain expectations. Both of these passages discuss spiritual gifts, church unity, and love. These 3 things are fully inter-connected.

If we think our gifts are useless, we fail to serve. If we think our gifts are the most important, we disrespect other members of God's people.

Think about Spiderman:he is a solo hero. He is not a team player but yet he has joined with the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers. His uncle told him that (you know this line so say it with me) "WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY." We often think of that responsibility as it stands in relation to him and the citizens of NYC. But what about the responsibility of it in regards to the other heroes? What about his place in the scheme of the Marvel Universe? We found out how hard that is in the Civil War storyline, right? [spoilers] He joined one side, disagreed with them, got in a sticky situation, got rescued, and joined the other side.

We don't always agree in life. The Avengers movie showed how easy it is to showboat and how difficult to come to a place of cooperation. But what happens when that cooperation does come to it's prime? When we trust God and use our gifts as directed by Him instead of insisting that some gifts are better or more necessary. 6 Heroes defeated a full army led by an Asgardian, despite the huge size of the army.

Do you know your spiritual gifts? If not, get on the training ground and play around. Start serving and you will find your gifts over time. You might want to take a spiritual gifts assessment. Talk with your pastor. Find out how your gifts fit into what your church is doing. I would also remind you that these gifts tend to be useful outside the church as well.

With great redemption comes great mission. Get out there and serve!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Training or Gifting?

Geeksaresexy.com has this great cartoon up right now about the difference between Japanese heroes and American heroes.

Ryu (yes, that Ryu; from Street Fighter) decides to prepare to protect Earth from alien attack. He makes a point about how he'll train really hard, even carrying a bolder to do so. As he is fighting aliens, he feels overwhelmed. Way to many for him to fight alone. In come 3 heroes, from our 2 biggest hero houses, DC and Marvel, to help him. As he compliments them on their skills, they all admit that they haven't really trained that much. Iron Man just has cool gadgets and money, Spidey got bitten by a spider, and Superman was born with it.

This is a huge over-generalization, right? Look at the X-Men. They have a huge room devoted to training and even a whole school. Wildcat has a purpose in DC comics of training younger heroes and vigilantes. Think about our other heroes, that we label under other things. Catniss Everdeen trains on various techniques before going into the Hunger Games.Luke Skywalker has to train with Yoda and Obi-wan.

On the Japanese side it doesn't seem so off, though. Almost all Asian heroes that I know of have a lot of training and a strong emphases on preparation. I am sure there are exceptions, though. Feel free to let me know of any.

This week we celebrated Veterans Day. A day when we remember men who trained hard and worked hard to keep our nation free. Now, in some cases, such as Word Wars, the training was quickened a little bit. And in other cases, such as the Vietnam War, soldiers arrive to a theater of operations to find out they need to learn a whole new set of lessons from soldiers who have been there for a while.

As Christians, we are told to train. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 4:8 that physical training is of some value, but the training in Godliness holds much more relevant value. This is one of the reasons we have the Bible. To train in righteousness. In 1 Corinthians he tells us about the proper uses of spiritual gifts. These gifts are given to all followers of Christ freely, but we don't always look for them.

You see, real heroes have a mixture. God freely gives all his followers gifts to use in fighting spiritual battles and in serving. Yet we still need training. We need to learn how to use those gifts, when to use the gifts, and we need to learn wisdom. But it isn't only training.

In the cartoon mentioned above, Spiderman, Superman and Iron Man somehow all come at once to aid Ryu. What did Jesus do when He sent the disciples out to teach? He sent them out 2 by 2. They went out as teams. Paul's treatment on spiritual gifts in his letter to the Corinthians comes in a context of unity. He discusses order in worship during this time as well as the beauty of the diversity of the Body of Christ.

In order to be real super heroes, we need all of these. We need training. We need natural talents and spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit. We need each other. That is the recipe for true heroism.

**Quick Note: This Saturday, Nov. 15, is a gathering at Cornerstone Univ. 6:00pm. Come join us for a chapel service and some gaming after that.**

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Arrow Family

So last night I got to watch Arrow live instead of waiting and catching it online (which often happens for me). I don't watch a lot of CW shows but I do like the DC shows. One of the themes that really stood out in this episode was family. Specifically, sticking with family even when you don't see eye to eye.

Felicity's mom comes to visit and we quickly learn that they are very different people. Her mom comes from Las Vegas and she looks the part. Their hobbies and interests are different (Mom comments on how she was never as interested in all the tech stuff that Felicity loves).

That same episode we find Oliver and his sister disagreeing over a funds source she is using until she gets the club back running again. In the middle of all this I think it was Thea who tells Oliver that they have to stick together because they only have each other. She pleads with him to meet her half way.

One thing stands out: you stick by family because family is what you have. Hebrews 10:25 tells us we (as fellow followers of Jesus) should not give up meeting together. The writer encourages us to encourage each other instead of giving up on each other.

That person you have in your family (or in your Bible study group) that drives you crazy. You don't get to give up on them. We are all family in the Kingdom of God and if we give up on each other, what happens to the Kingdom?

For those in the West Michigan area, don't forget to meet up with us on the 15 at Cornerstone Univ.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nerd Chapel and Cornerstone Unite!

Nerd Chapel is excited to announce a new partnership with Cornerstone University. CU will be cooperating with Nerd Chapel to host a monthly experience currently called Nerd Chapel Live! Each night of this will begin with worship and teaching before a time for table top gaming.

Our first night will be November 15 (a Saturday night). This will be in the Chapel at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (a school of CU).

I looked for couple months for a location in Grand Rapids for this. Grand Rapids sits as the easiest gathering point for West Michigan within an hours drive of several other cities and I felt it would be a nice, central location. This will be open to anyone but CU felt that they could use something like this for their student population so they agreed to host it!

Our first one will be at 6:00pm Saturday, Nov. 15. We plan to start it as a monthly community in January. If you are in the West Michigan area, we would love to have you come out for it! The Seminary building will be hosting us in their chapel. The building is off Leonard St. NE. right by E. Beltline.

We are looking for a worship leader so we can do live worship. The message for this first "preview" event is inspired by "Pacific Rim" and is titled "Drifting with God."

I hope you can make it!

Visit the Cornerstone site if you are looking for a college to attend or just want some more info on this place.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fighting gamer gate

Hey there Adventurers of the King!

So I had considered giving you some thoughts about Halloween this week, but I feel like gamer gate is becoming to much of a deal to ignore. Notice I do not honor gamer gate with capital letters. With reports of threats regarding both death and rape toward women who are into video gaming, including the outspoken Sarkeesian woman and also famed and talented actress Felicia Day. I am a little baffled by this. I have always appreciated when I found something in common with a girl. I don't quite understand this whole control mentality.

The reason I am writing about this is because I feel that movements like this, which are blatantly seeing women as less than men and as sexual objects to be controlled, are often influenced by a spiritual force. In Ephesians Paul tells us:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

One of the most famous video game characters of all time, Samus Aranus from Metroid was a woman. Then you have Laura Croft and Cammy/Chun-Li from Street Fighter. All of these are capable of handling themselves in battle. We should respect women who enjoy the hobbies we enjoy and in life we should fight alongside them and not against them.

Is there a place for men to be the leaders of our culture? Not if we use gamer gate to do it. When we do lead, it must be with respect, inclusive toward the women in our lives, and filled with gentleness. There are other ways for us to be powerful, such as helping the people around us or supporting causes like International Justice Mission which fights both African land stealing (which often targets single mother families) and sexual slavery.

Jesus raised the bar when it comes to treating women respectfully. He treated them as equals (for an example see John 4). After his resurrection it was women who were the first to carry the news, not men.

Anything which threatens rape is pure evil. Here is a few thoughts for fighting against this:

1. Pray against it. Pray for a change of heart in the men trying to control video game and nerd culture.
2. Men, treat women with respect. This means we control our eyes, our minds, and our hands. Most of us, including myself, have had times when we faltered. We simply need to get up, be a man, and change. But this also means that we should be inclusive toward the women in our lives, not exclusive. 
3. Women, please don't give up. Find ways to enjoy your hobbies even if a few men don't like it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mystery of God

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and the life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it."

                                                                      John 1:1-5

I love the mystery aspect of who God is. When it comes down to it, we don't know nearly as much about Him as we think we do. I also love the full embodiment of creation as his work. EVERYTHING was created by Him, even if it is tainted and perverted by selfishness and pride, He still created it. Then we find the Redemptive aspect of Christ. He is the "light of all mankind".

In our human stories we try to achieve this. Think about the Force. The Force holds a certain mystery to it. It does not seem to be fully known by any Jedi or Sith. It penetrates all living things. There might even be a redemptive side to it. Think about Luke pulling Vader back from the Dark Side.

But the Force isn't as powerful as God, who spoke the universe into existence. The Force has not died to save you from your sins; nor has it resurrected to show victory over death.

Do you sometimes feel that you don't understand God? Don't be ashamed of it. We all have a hard time with something. It may be that you don't understand why He hasn't simply created a job for you out of nothing. You might not like some of His commands. You might wonder why he hasn't brought you a spouse.

The moment we decide that everything we believe about God has to be comfortable is the moment we are not treating Him as God. We might want Him to be more like a genie which does whatever we want. Perhaps you treat Him like a computer program; here are the limits and all you do must fit in this space.

Just like Aslan, God is not tame. He will make laws we are not comfortable with (such as laws about sexuality). He won't make everything easy for us. God is our creator. Does He like to serve us? In some ways, yes. But ultimately He is the one in control, not us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Iron Man's Science vs. Asgards Magic, or Faith and Reason

Found at: www.unleashthefanboy.com
Iron Man and Thor had an ongoing argument for an episode of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (such a better cartoon than the current Avengers run). Thor was tired of man-made technology and science causing problems that they had to deal with. Soon, the world was filled with winter as Maleketh opened the Casket of Ancient Winter. Iron Man was convinced that magic was far less useful and more dangerous while Thor kept declaring the opposite.

This debate goes on in schools, homes and coffee houses all over our world. And it is old. The Psalms refer to this debate ("The fool says in his heart, there is now god." Psalm 14:1) When Paul was in Athens, he found himself debating with stoic and epicurean philosophers. Now, as we read his discussion with them in Acts 17, we find something interesting: he uses the work of people who were not following Christ in his side of the discussion, including a description on a statue and a poem. Granted, this is more like a combination of faith and culture than faith and reason, but it is still an interesting note to make.

When Ezra and Nehemiah worked on the Temple and Walls around Jerusalem, they did so based on a faith in God and a love for His chosen people; but they built these with engineering ideas that are found in exploring our natural world. They used faith and science together.

We find many times in our narratives when these come together, although I feel like many of these are of bad guys messing with forces they shouldn't play around with. In the movie "Bulletproof Monk" we find the prophecy coming out through modern means (mechanical cranes instead of bird type cranes) and we find bad guys using technology to get the secret out of the Monk. In "Warehouse 13" our favorite team includes people who work with research and technology as well as a guy who just gets bad vibes about stuff. In "A New Hope", Luke uses the Force to aim but technology to fire.

So how did this all end for our mightiest heroes? While fighting Maleketh, they realized they were failing. Black Panther said something interesting: "In Wakanda, we use both mysticism and science". So Iron Man used the metal in his armor to weaken Maleketh while Thor sent his lighting to be the final blow. They had to use both faith and reason.

Put your faith in God and use the senses and the brain He gave you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

God's Time and Legacy



One of my newest game purchases was Legacy: Gears of Time. This game is all about time travel and the goal of influencing technology in the past. It is very strategic. In order to effectively run some tech you have to make sure that certain prerequisites are set further in the past. It is a fairly quick game running in 4 rounds of 4 turns per player.

The only luck in this game comes in with the draw. Aside from that it is all about your own decisions. You have to pay for establishing cards with other cards, so it takes a lot of figuring to make it work.

I don't think the Holy Spirit needs luck...but I do think He works in a similar prerequisite standpoint. I think He tries to get certain works done in our lives before doing certain other works. This can be so frustrating for us though. Sometimes we feel like we are stuck and like God is doing nothing while in reality He is doing many things to change us or challenge us.

Take for example the perception of His work in revelation that we call progressive revelation. Essentially this suggests that God revealed certain pieces of His plan and redemption over time depending on when man was ready to hear them. So Jesus said some things. Paul was informed of other things through the Holy Spirit; and other things were established before either of them through the prophets of old like Jeremiah. Between the Old Testament and the New Testament there was about 400 years of waiting. Think about this. 400 years with no prophetic word or written work of God. Imagine the frustration of waiting for the Messiah while various human empires and kingdoms on Earth kept fighting for superiority. It's no wonder that people were confused about the role of the Messiah when He came. Yet He did come; and Romans tells us it was at just the right time.

God stands outside of time. I wonder what it looks like from that perspective. Seeing all of eternity and history from there. He goes and wiggles something in the 10 century BC, fixes something twenty years after this writing, and then plays around in the year of my birth. Is that what it is like? I don't know. But I know He is trustworthy (more so than us players messing with stuff when we play Legacy). I know sometimes He sits with me when life is terrible and walks with me through it; such as when I went through some rejection by women. Other times He changes things; such as when He healed me of a headache when i needed to concentrate on the English classes I was giving tests to in Amman.

I remember times when I only handled certain things well because I had already learned something somewhere else.

God is creating a legacy throughout time. He wants you to be part of this legacy. All you have to do is ask Him to include you and believe in Him. He will challenge you to change some things; yet you will be part of a much larger legacy and a much more amazing one than you can create on your own.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Verses from GrandCon Service

Hey guys!

The Chapel Service at Grand Con was excellent. We were a small group of 10 with a baby in tow. We sang a couple songs, enjoyed the Communion together, and I gave a message on God terraforming our hearts. I did record it and I do hope to get it up on You Tube but I do not have a timeline for that.

I had planned on using a projector, but that did not work out. As I went through many verses to help us get an understanding of how God cares about our hearts, I thought I would leave them here for you to ponder.



The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
Genesis 6:5-6

Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations--as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.
Duet. 10:15-17

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Duet. 11:18

 

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Joshua 22:5

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23


For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 57:15

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26