Grand Con

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 in Review

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

2015 has been a great year for Nerd Chapel and for me personally. Here are my thoughts from this year:

Cons:

Grand Con went amazingly well this year. It was exciting to have Dice Tower founder Tom Vassel. We also had our own booth for the first time at a con. Lots of people stopped by to say "hi" and purchase a copy of 42:Discovering Faith Through Fandom. Our presence definitely grew this year.

Nerd Chapel also went to the Grand Rapids Toy and Comics Expo which was not as successful as I had hoped. I will be at the next one but further attendance will depend on how it goes.

Gen Con was amazing! Although Nerd Chapel had no "official" presence there I volunteered with the Christian Gamers Guild at their booth. Between the CGG booth and Nathan Marchand's booth 42 sold extremely well. The church service was great and this year I actually got to participate in leading the service by helping with communion.

42:Discovering Faith Through Fandom

It was exciting to see this book come out into a reality from an idea in my head. It has been exciting seeing it come out into the world. It sold well at 2 of the conventions I took it to this year. One gentleman who bought it at GenCon was so excited about it he read the first two entries in one sitting instead of waiting for the next day.

Game Nights:

The Pandemic Party we hosted was a success. It was much larger than the monthly game nights are moving along steadily. This is an area that needs some growth but is certainly not falling apart.

Future:

I am hoping to be at a lot more cons and events with Nerd Chapel in 2016. The monthly game nights will be continuing and I am looking into more cons to attend. Very little is set in stone so far, aside for a few game nights at All Shores Wesleyan Church.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The One Story Worth Spoiling!

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Christmas is coming! Yep, just a few days away. Presents will be wrapped in nice paper only for the paper to be ripped apart. Many will attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services. What is your families tradition? My brother and I are always busy on Christmas Eve. We run tech for our church's services which is a full day of work for us. 4 services in all. Christmas day is a day for resting and relaxing.

I was thinking this morning about spoilers. We have all been very concerned about spoilers for Star Wars, right? For me the movie was spoiled a little bit. A student in a class I was subbing for (last class of the day on Friday, mind you) ruined a detail for me. A rather important detail. There are certain things, such as movies, that we are careful not to divulge to much information about.

Bethlehem on the night of Jesus birth was not so worried about spoilers, though. The town was bustling with travelers for the census, shops, Roman guards, and more as a few shepherds walked around very excited telling everyone all the details about the biggest event in history: God had become man and was born in a stable.

Did you ever experience something and everyone you talked to wanted every detail? Maybe it was a trip you went on or a funny story about a goofy person in your life. Shepherds were not the most popular people in that day. It was a big deal for them to be the first to hear the news of the Messiah being born. They might not have been used to people wanting to know the details. Admittedly, I wonder if at some point in the night they felt like someone with a UFO story might feel. If someone just was not listening to them. But that is not what we are told by Luke. Luke 2:18 tells us all who heard it were amazed at what they were saying. This was a big deal. Angels and the Messiah in the tiny village of Bethlehem. That big news has changed the world more than any other story. More than Star Wars or even Romeo and Juliet.

Just so we are clear, the Christmas story is one you don't need to worry about spoiling. Tell as many people as many details as you can! Get the word out. Life has changed because God has come among us.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hook and Gray

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Last night I watched a few shows with my Mom, including The Librarians and Once Upon a Time. Interestingly, both of these shows focused on darkness or sin in our lives in some form. Some spoilers ahead.

Found on the "Once Upon a Time" FB page.

In Once Upon a Time, we find a town panicking as multiple Dark Ones approach townspeople for what you might call tagging them. They are all given a mark targeting them to be pulled down into the Underworld. You see, the Dark Ones can only stay if they are replaced by someone in the Underworld. Somehow, Emma gets through to Killian, who is now one of the Dark Ones. He pulls all of the darkness, from all of them, into himself in an attempt to gather it into one place to be destroyed. I won't tell you here if it worked or not.

Found on "The Librarians" FB page.

We see a different take on sin in The Librarians. They come across a club where people are stricken with consequences of actions they did not commit or experience. A girl who is walking with her friends is thrown several yards and injured as if being hit by a car. A boy almost dies from a drug overdose without taking any drugs. As they investigate this club they meet Dorian Gray. Dorian has taken his ability to pass his consequences on to others and digitized it, using pictures taken of people in the club. He used his own vanity to gain immortality. This way he can live as long as he wants and do whatever he wants with no consequences. There were some other antics to enjoy in this episode, but I won't ruin them for you.

Darkness does exist in real life. You know that, right? We call it other things. We call it "mistakes" or "poor decisions" and once in a while we are honest and call it "sin". The good news for us is that we don't have to worry about beating the darkness. Jesus already did that.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8
Jesus chose to be more like Killian (aka Captain Hook). He accepted a painful death on the cross. Killian deserved the punishment. He had spent years pirating and killing. Jesus had not. Jesus didn't kill anyone or steal from anyone. He chose to come to Earth, give us some instructions about love and respect and responsibility, and then he accepted death to take our spiritual consequences and give us what we don't deserve: access to God the Father and an infilling of the Holy Spirit.

God is not going to settle for us living a life of sin with no consequences. Jesus did not die to turn you into Dorian Gray, but to enable you to repent. Later in Romans, Paul says: 
"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning to increase grace? BY NO MEANS! We are those who have died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:1,2
I do think there is a difference between spiritual consequences and natural consequences and I do think we still have to face the natural ones. The Book of James is quite honest about natural consequences of our actions. This repentance thing isn't easy, but reliance upon God helps a lot.

I encourage you to read all of Romans 5 and 6 as it pulls together our faith with Christ's work on the cross to show how we can receive cleansing from Him to live in righteousness.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Designers View of Nature

Greetings Scholars and Warriors!

I hope you have had a great Thanksgiving and that you are enjoying the weekend filled with family, shopping, and the beginnings of a crazy season full of holidays.

Today I want to do something a little different. I want to share some thoughts about designing lighting and the elements of design I see in creation/nature.

As a lighting designer I have to make sure a show comes together with a series of lights. I use truss and sometimes other pipes to hang lights and sometimes we use some of our cases to raise lights as well (if we don't want them on the floor but also do not want them very high). I choose specific lights for specific spots depending on what those lights do and how those lights will interact with the environment we want to create and what we need. Some of them are just white light. Some change colors and some will move, change colors and use metal plates called "gobos" to create different patterns in the light. The lights have power lines and signal lines run to them and I control them using a board that has had several features programmed into it by very smart computer programmers to create the looks and cues that I need. These features all come out of planned and finely tuned mathematics.

Now, let us look at creation. We live on a planet that circles a sun. The planet, and other planets, are held in orbit around a star by this force called gravity. In reality, we don't know a whole lot about gravity. We know that it works and that it has a huge affect on tides and how we move on our planet. I am not sure we know much else about it, though.

Found at: http://www.ducksters.com/science/ecosystems/oxygen_cycle.php

We also have a very excellent oxygen system and a very adequate water system (although admittedly we often don't use it well or share the resource well). Amazingly the oxygen cycle brings oxygen to us and carbon dioxide to plants in quite the perfect combination. The water that falls (after evaporating) provides another piece of the recipe for energy to all living creatures.

Finally, we have DNA. Such an awesome feature of our planet! It took decades to decode this linguistic code. Each strand sets up the traits of a creature with specific combinations. For black hair you need one combo and for green scales a very different set. It is amazingly specific. I am not sure if DNA is found elsewhere in the universe, but it is amazing on our planet.

Do you see the coloration I am making?

  Truss/Supports = Gravity
            Lights = Creatures/Plants
  Power/Signal Cords = Oxygen/Water
            Programmed Mathematics = DNA


Some say there is no evidence of design in nature. I say it is there. As someone who designs all the time I see the elements of design all over creation. I remember subbing for a biology teacher last year and showing an amazing episode of the Life series by the BBC which comes from a personal viewpoint of random existence. It showed all these very specific features of different insects and how particular the jobs of those traits and features are for the insects. I could not believe how specific it was. There are so many fingerprints I could see of a creator all over the insect kingdom!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fight for Your City

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Found at: http://mumba398.deviantart.com/art/Arrow-Season-4-550565678
Today I watched the new episode of "Arrow". This show is all about saving a whole city. A city filled with corruption, pain, even terror. A city that is terrified because of extreme crime and poverty (although there does seem to be plenty of rich people there and plenty of expensive restaurants). It is something that many cities in our real world are dealing with right now.

One of the sub-plots going on right now is about Mr. Oliver Queen running for mayor. Within the scope of this episode, a few things happened with that. First, we learn that Queen wants to revitalize the bay area of the city but his campaign consultant doesn't like the idea. He thinks the focus should be on crime. Later on, we find Damian Darkh at a recruitment meeting. He is about to have around 16 to 20 men take a pill to make them more obedient to his commands. Of course, they all already believe that without Hive(the organization Darkh is working for/with), the city can not be saved. Interestingly, Darkh used to work with Ras al Guhl hundreds of years before this and before Darkh came into town, Ras was gonna have the city destroyed. We are still not sure of Darkh's ultimate plan, whether it is destruction or control. At some point, Darkh approached Queen at an event about his campaign and wanted to align with him (not sure if he knows Queen is the Green Arrow or not). We come to the end of the episode and Queen is at the bay announcing his plan for it. Darkh is there in the audience and they stare each other down as Queen says "This city will not be saved in the darkness, but in the light. For all to see."

Right now a lot of cities are unsure what to do. The problems include poverty, crime, fear, hatred, terror threats, and many others. Paris, Beirut, Kano (Nigeria) all experienced horrible events in the last week. Detroit is an example of cities that simply have no jobs, hundreds of empty buildings, and a slumber of sorts. So what do we do?

During the time of Jeremiah, a prophet who served when Jerusalem was sacked and many sent into captivity. He wrote a letter to those in captivity. You can read it in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 29. This letter is often quoted for the piece that speaks of God's great plan for them, but we will consider verse 7:
"Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7
God told them to seek the best of the city around them. If he told an exiled people, who were only going to be there for 70 years to do that in a city they may well have hated...what would God have you do in a city you love?  Beyond this, what did Jesus tell us?

In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us:
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
In this seasons first episode of Arrow, Oliver went on a broadcast to say "I declare my intention to fight for this city." Jesus just told you what He expects of you. "Let your light shine...that they may see your good deeds..." Saving a city isn't done by sitting around. It is done by serving. By contributing to the needs around you. Our light shines by our deeds. So if a city is to be saved "in the light" as Oliver said, it will happen with deeds.

How do we get started? Well, where are the needs? Does your city need more volunteers for a food pantry at a local church? Do that. Does your city need a clothing drive? You can do it. Do you intend to fight for your city? There are plenty of ways to do it. If you are already doing something, how can you grow in that? Is that enough? Is it time for you to make a bigger commitment? Find the needs, ask God for opportunities and take them as they come; just do something.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Doctor Forgives

Greetings Scholars and Warriors!

Spoilers ahead if you are not kept up with our favorite timelord. 

Well, that was one amazing episode of Doctor Who that aired this last weekend. We find the Doctor out to deal with a separatist faction of the shape shifting Zygons who are upset about the deal with U.N.I.T. You know, the deal made in the "The Day of the Doctor".

He eventually gets their leader, who has taken the form of Clara. She has this box in front of her that might let all Zygons reveal themselves, or might be more harmful. U.N.I.T. also has a box, one that might let out a gas that will destroy all Zygons. What does the Doctor say? Well, here it is in this nice meme:


Sorry, I have forgotten who made this meme! If you find out, please let me know! Anyway, the Doctor asks her to do one amazing thing: forgive. He asks her to forgive all of the transgressions she feels are coming at her and to live in peace. "Bonnie", the lead separatist Zygon, says she can't do that. That the humans would never let her go after what she has done.

The Doctor's response? "That is what all of you always say...but guess what, I forgive you." You see, the Doctor is able to forgive because he has been there. He has participated in a huge war that ravaged a universe and he has come so close to pushing a button himself. Then, he wipes some memories of those around them, but not Bonnie. He wants her to remember. She is stuck as "one of them" now. Oh, and he makes a comment at one point about the "other 15 times" the cease fire has been in danger.

Will you break the cycle around you? Will you forgive others? Forgiveness is an attitude and it takes work and time to live it out, but you can get there. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us that God will forgive us only as we forgive others (see Matthew 6).

I am not hitting all of the nuances of this scene. You really should watch it for yourself if you can find it online or catch a rerun. 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Confusing Deeds of Saving

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

This season of Doctor Who has been very interesting (I almost used "quite interesting" but I didn't as that has the opposite meaning in Brittain as here in the US). I think it is confusing to see who he saves and who he doesn't save. Time after time we see the Doctor saving people, and sometimes people he shouldn't save. Other times he is accused of ignoring deaths.

Found at www.kasterborous.com

Think about it:

He went back to save Davros, whom he knew would create his worse enemy.
When facing the ghosts he seemed to try hard to save people yet was accused of allowing some to die.
He saved Ashildr/Me (Maise Williams) even though he felt he was breaking rules.
Then, he worked to redeem her when he met her later on.
He told soldiers this last episode to kill as few Zygons as possible, even though they were starting the war.

I think we get way more confused by God's salvation. We look at the death in the world and we think He isn't doing enough. We hear stories of people's lives changed by Him and wonder "why that person and not my friend/brother/etc.?" In both cases, God and the Doctor, the subject of our confusion is doing a lot more than we can see.

Think about what we have done since God created our species: We have lied to each other and tried to lie to Him. We have cheated. We have damaged the planet He put us on. We have killed each other and blamed God for death/suffering that comes from our own poor choices. We have a terrible track record. Some claim He is doing nothing for those in droughts and natural disasters.

No news station is going broadcast huge stories on God's miracles of salvation. They don't talk about that. When someone is healed of cancer miraculously, you don't find TV cameras trying to film it. The news just won't show us that part of life. We could come up with a lot of excuses and blame for this, but that won't help.

God told Moses in Exodus 33 that he would "have mercy on he whom I will have mercy". In other words, God won't let you decide his plan of salvation. But here is the amazing thing...God does want anyone who is willing to come to Him. Jesus called for the "weary' and the "sick" to come to Him (i.e., those who were filled with sin and would admit it). During Matt Smiths reign as the Doctor he once said that he had never met anyone who was unimportant. That is how Jesus will respond if you tell him you are unimportant. If you ask for salvation for your friend, well, God wants that to. But he won't force it on your friend.

Those who are around the Doctor have to choose between trusting him or not. "Me" had to make the same decision at one time. She had been living a life of crime after the Doctor had given her a way to live for a far longer time than she would have gotten. At first she chose to ignore her life as Ashildr and use the Doctor to help a dangerous alien. Then, when she realized she was helping with an invasion, she changed.  We have the same choice with God. We can either work with Him in salvation just as a parent expects a 5 year old to help clean their room, or we can throw a tantrum and see what it gets us. What will you choose?


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Sage is Real

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

How are you doing today? Here, it is rainy. I have done some cleaning, watched an episode of the X-Files, an episode of the Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon, and last night's "The Flash".

Today, I want to discuss last weeks episode of "Arrow." This is a little odd as the story-line I want to consider is very much unresolved. Thea and Laurel went to Nanda Parbat to find out why she is having trouble after being in the Lazarus Pit. She is overly vicious in combat and has come way to close to killing people.

When she meets her father, Thea is told some grim advice: give in to it. Kill someone and you'll feel better for a while. After she argues with Malcolm about it for a minute he makes up a story about a sage on the mountain who can help her. Later that night, she is awoken by attackers: Malcolm's own men. She manages to defeat them, but only by killing them. He had arranged the whole thing and she realizes his story is fake. He honestly thought and told her to just kill every now and then. Just do it to fill the urge of sin and it will leave you alone for a while. She did not find the help she was looking for.

I look forward to seeing what they come up with, but for now let us look at real life and dealing with sin.

But here is the deal: in real life, Malcolm's idea of a sage with mystical help and special wisdom is not wrong. We have this awesome guy named Jesus. He is fully man and fully God and He does want to help you. He states:

"Come to me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28
We often thing God wants us to be perfect before coming to Him, but that is not so. In Romans 7 Paul admits his own issues with sin. He admits to doing things he doesn't want to do. Immediately after that, in Romans 8, he recognizes Jesus as the source of victory over sin.

I read an article today about dealing with sin entitled "The Dead End of Sexual Sin." I fully recommend reading this. It was written by a woman who read a book written in three parts (now combined) by John Owen in the 17th century. It doesn't matter what your issue of sin is, I think this article will be good no matter the issue.

If you are in West Michigan, there is a Nerd Chapel game night coming up in Spring Lake on November 14 at All Shores Wesleyan Church at 6:30pm. Please join us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

GR Comic Con 2015

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

This last weekend I spent the full weekend at Grand Rapids Comic Con. Nerd Chapel did not have any events or a table there as they are not comfortable having a religious group on site but I still went as me to hang out and cosplay and go to panels.


It was a good time. I got to hang out with some friends from different places and even met up with an FFCer I had not met before. (If you are not familiar with Fans for Christ, look them up on Facebook). I had been to GRCC before but only for one day. This was my first time seeing it for the full effect of it.

I was not impressed with the gaming room. I did enjoy the one game they had demoing in it, but I was not impressed with their options for games to check out and play. There were some good games but for a weekend long event they had very few games there. I know, that isn't the strong suit of this con, but if you are going to do something, make it worth doing!



My favorite moment was meeting Tony Amendola. You might recognize him as Master Bra'tak from Stargate SG-1 or as Gipetto in Once Upon a Time. It was exciting to talk with him and attend his panel. I first went to see him Friday and his helper noticed my Christian Gamers Guild shirt. I shared with them a little of what I do and also told them about my book. They were very supportive; to the point where I gave him a copy of it the next day.

Cosplay was very prevalent at this con and there was some amazing stuff.  Here is a taste of it:








Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Lesson from Ultron

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Saturday was a fun game night. We were 3 people and one of us could only stay for a short time, but it was a good time. Games played include Viceroy, Smash Up, and Splendor. The next game night is Nov. 14.

Found at www.comicbookmovie,com
Well, on to our thought for the week. As many others did, I purchased the blu-ray version of "Avengers:Age of Ultron" the day it came out. Mostly because I knew Best Buy would raise the price soon after that.

As I watched it again, something Ultron says to Vision at the end of the movie stuck with me. "Tony Stark wanted a savior, but settled for a slave." I found this to be a profound poke at humanity.

I think we do this a lot. We ask God to save us from famine and disease and war, but either we won't give up the things that lead to these (i.e. selfishness and greed) or we treat God as a slave to do our bidding rather than a hero to help us. I wonder if that is one of many reasons why we don't see as many miracles in our world a midst the terror and horrible things that go on.

As Jesus performed miracles there were a few responses to it. Some followed Him. Some thought he was mad although I am not sure how you can think someone is mad when they do something miraculous right in front of you. Others accused His followers and Him of drunkenness.

If God did raise someone from the dead right in front of you, would you actually follow Him? Do you actually want a right relationship with God, even when that means submitting to Him, or are you looking for a slave to make life comfortable?


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Learning from Characters

What characters do you respect? If you were to do a character study for any character in fiction, who would you choose? I'm not talking about learning about the character, but someone you honestly think has something worth while to teach to whoever will listen. Someone who might be a mentor but sets an example.


We do this all the time, you know. What do you think Cosplay is? You pick a character you respect, right? Or at least someone you think you can enjoy. Here are a few characters I respect:

Found at dailymail.co.uk

Obi-Wan Kenobi:
Let's get the obvious one out first. Many of you have seen me cosplay as him. He is responsible, looks after the needs of others, and normally is not afraid to ask for help when he needs it.


Found at en.memory-alpha.wikia.com
 Commander Riker:
Riker is referred to as 'number 1" for many reasons. He is smart, resourceful and most of all loyal. He cares so much for both the Enterprise and Captain Picard as well as Counselor Troi. He stays with the ship long after he could have a command of his own and he doesn't give up on his friends. Ever.

Found at stargate-sg1-solutions.com


Daniel Jackson:
Daniel starts out pretty green. Sneezing around other planets and not very useful in a fight. But he strives for peace. He always seeks the best of the people he meets. Yes, sometimes he gets in trouble for it, but his hatred for slavery and his desire to see people cooperate together has a great effect on SG-1 and he does eventually learn how to fight for others instead of just arguing for them.

Found at uthmag.com

Hiro Nakamura:
Hiro is amazing. My favorite character by far from "Heroes." He has so much fun with his nerdiness as he teleports around space and time. He wants so badly to be a hero and nothing will stop him from stepping out to protect others.

You know who else I respect...Paul the Apostle. Yes, this guy did some bad things. He supported the death and imprisonment of many Christians. Then God decided to change Him. In all his wrongdoing, he wanted nothing more than to be a servant of the Most High God. Jesus, knowing this, brought Him into the fold of his flock to protect, to teach, and to take the message of the cross beyond any place the others would take it. In 1 Corinthians 11 we are challenged to follow Paul AS HE FOLLOWS CHRIST. This sounds rather arrogant, right? "Hey, do what I do!" But, you know what that means, right? That where Paul fell short, where he failed Christ, we should not follow him there. He didn't say to follow him in everything. Just in the places where he sought to follow Jesus example.

There are some people around you that you can learn from. They are not perfect and that is okay. You don't have to learn everything from them. But, in the parts of life where they set an example of Christ, follow that. Listen to the lessons of those pieces of their lifestyles.

Monday, September 28, 2015

GrandCon 2015

GrandCon 2015 was excellent.

Lots of people in the vendor hall Saturday.

Through the weekend I really enjoyed meeting people at the table in the vendor hall and had a lot of positive reactions. I met some guys who go to a church with a monthly gaming group in Lansing and also met a couple guys who are trying to figure out how to start a cell group or other nerd related thing at their church.

I think the best interactions happened over Sunday. First of all, the chapel service went really well. We had about 15 people which is much larger than last year. Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower did a good job preaching and the overall service went well. It was also nice to see a couple people join us who had not been able to the previous year despite attending the con.

After the service a teenager came up to me. He had been at our chapel service last year (had actually dragged his mom to it) and was extremely helpful. I had been really impressed, but I had not realized what God was doing that morning. Yesterday he told me:
"Thanks for doing this. Last year's chapel service is what spurred me to make my profession to faith."
Now, that is not something you hear every day!

A few hours later I was manning my table as I had been all weekend. A man came up to me and said this:
"I've seen you here each day and I have to admit I completely disagree with most of it; well all of it. But it takes guts to do what you are doing. I respect that. Keep doing what you are doing."
So, yes this was a great weekend. I ran a few games as well. 2 rounds of Pandemic where we lost right before getting the final cure and a round of Kings of Israel which was full so I didn't play but just "taught" which was easy since they had all played Pandemic before. They were quickly outdone by the game.

Over the weekend I also sold many copies of 42:Discovering Faith Through Fandom. People were very open to it. So, that was my weekend at GrandCon. A great time to be had for all. I still do not know the numbers for attendance but it seemed to me that they did at least as well as last year. Here are a few pics.

Artemis Bridge Simulator. I was the weapons officer.

The open gaming hall.

Steampunk siblings.





Friday, September 18, 2015

Events are a foot!

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Well, a lot is going on with Nerd Chapel. Next weekend we'll be hanging out at Grand Con in the vendor hall. We will once again have a chapel service but this time Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower will be preaching. Tom is a youth pastor who has also served overseas.

As you can see, we have a new logo. I hope that Nerd Chapel can be a safe "inn" for you in the middle of life's' quests. Yes, I have played Red Dragon Inn so I know the dangers that can happen at an in, but at least you will have friends to back you up.

Over the next two months along with Grand Con we have 2 game nights. I am trying to keep them to the 2nd Saturday of the month. So October 10 and Nov. 14 are our next two game nights. Feel free to come and hang out. I'll let you know if we are tying these in with any mercy/justice organizations as we have before with the Pandemic Party. Click on the dates above for the FB pages for these events.

Wednesday night I got to play Smash Up with a friend of mine. I had demoed it at Gen Con a couple years ago but this was my first time playing a full game. I loved it. I had Dinosaurs and Ninjas for my army and then for game two I used Bear Cavalry and Pirates. It was an interesting evening. The game is pretty simple when it comes to rules and well worth the money.

I hope you can join us for one or all of these events!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Lesson from X-Men 22

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!


Found at the X-Men Wiki

Recently, I have been looking into the Marvel Masterworks series. This series pulled together some great older comics from the 1960s and 70s. Each issue has around 10 monthly adventures in proper order. I have 3 of the issues in black covers. The Amazing Spiderman #8(out of 16), The Fantastic Four #6(out of 15), and most recently The X-Men #3(out of 8). I have a long way to go!

One of the interesting plots was in X-Men #22 from July 1966. We start by watching our favorite mutants in the Danger Room fighting a robot created by Professor Xavier to help them learn to overcome artificial enemies. They defeat it within the given 5 minutes using teamwork. Then Professor X sends them out for a vacation. Of course, things go wrong as a series of villians lure them to Central Park in NYC and deal with them one at a time...and winning. These villains were some b and c stock villains from old Marvel issues that were not very good on their own. Yet together they formed a far more powerful team. This was an interesting look at how Mutants need each other and how even with powers they couldn't handle all things alone.

Eventually, in the next issue, the X-Men win. But only after they have gotten back to teamwork and dealt with the foe behind the villainous team.

In America we tend to like individuality. We focus on it to a point where culture and individuals suffer because we don't really cooperate together. This is not how God tells us to operate. He gave Moses the help of Aaron and then Joshua to help him. He gave David his "mighty men", a group of 30 men who went on special missions for him and may have had a certain following of their own right. Jesus chose 12 disciples to follow Him closely and build up the Church. He also sent them and others out 2 by 2 instead of sending them out alone.

While discussing perseverance, Hebrews 11:24-25 tells us:

"and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another..."
Then, in Hebrews 11 we are reminded of a "cloud of witnesses" in the form of dozens of heroes from the Old Testament who have gone before us. In fact, the writer admits that he doesn't have time to tell us all the stories he wants to share with us.

Do you have a Christian community you are a part of? I am not merely talking about sitting in a seat hearing a sermon once a week, but a group you share life with that encourages you in faith. A group you can serve with, to, and be served by in your faith.

In other words, who do you have that is a fellow X-Man/X-Woman with you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Attaining to be Spiderman

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

wallpapers.net

Yesterday I read an article by www.comicbook.com about some recent comments by Andrew Garfield. He was discussing his 2 Spiderman films and how he felt about his role in them. When he was asked what he learned from being Spiderman, he said this:

"Well, nothing, because I was never Spider-Man. Because Spider-Man's a fictional character. He's not real. [laughs] You know what's funny, to give you the vulnerable answer, I thought I was going to be Spider-Man, you know?"
"I was the actor that I am. The person that I am. Struggling with trying to match up with something that I'd elevated so high in my mind. Elevated beyond what I could attain, what I could achieve. The great thing is, that's what Peter Parker was doing as well. Peter Parker created this symbol that he couldn't live up to. It was never enough. He never felt enough, and I never felt enough."
I feel like this happens to humans every day. We set a certain standard that we seek to live up to but just can't hit the mark. We have fictional ideas of what it means to be human. Fictional ideas of what it would mean to be ourselves. We create our own symbols that we can't live up to.

In reality, God's standards are not much easier. Did you know that in the entire Old Testament Daniel is the only person that never has a negative report? All those heroes we focus on such as David, Abraham, Noah, Joshua. They all made bad choices at one point or another. Noah was a drunkard. Abraham lied about his marriage out of fear. David had an affair. All those great heroes failed at some point or another to live up to greatness. Then when you get to the New Testament, you have Peter who often stuck his foot in his mouth and Paul who terrorized the Church before Christ intervened in his life.

Jesus was once asked if attaining the Gospel was impossible. Read the story in Matthew 19:16-30. Jesus had talked with a rich person. Jesus asked him about various laws and he was like "Yep, done that. Good there. Got that." But then He said this: "sell all you have and give to the poor, and follow Me." Then, this rich man went away sad. Jesus then commented: "It is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is easier to put a camel through the eye of a needle." His disciples were shocked, "Then how can any of us achieve this?" Jesus response was simple: "With God, all things are possible". Jesus then goes on to describe a wonderful experience in eternity for all His followers.

We fail to live up to standards because we do it alone. Jesus called the weary to come to Him. To find rest and hope and help. We have this silly idea that we have to achieve our standards all alone. But we DON'T. Jesus would rather walk with you through it all. Ask Him for help. It might not come in the form you expect, but He will provide help. You just need to accept it. There is no shame in admitting that you need help.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Harry Ran from Sirens

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

First off, a couple of announcements. Tomorrow is the deadline for the Cosplay Contest. Also, this Fall Nerd Chapel will begin a monthly game night at All Shores Wesleyan Church on the second Saturday evening of each month at All Shores Wesleyan Church. If you are in the area of Spring Lake, MI come and join us! Also, we will have a chapel service at Grand Con again this year and Tom Vassel from The Dice Tower will be preaching!

Found at www.comicvine.com

 Last night I watched a couple of episode of Star Trek Voyager with my Mom. One of these episodes focused on Harry Kim. Harry was a little crazy at first, firing on a ship that at first did not seem a threat. They later determined it had been powering up weapons so he was not altogether wrong. By this point he had started to feel sick, with his DNA actually changing. They went to a planet to try and get away from battle and to regroup. Here, they met a race of mostly women. These women tried to make Harry stay with them, using a lot of kissing and temptation in the process, even promising him 3 wives.

Soon he started to realize something was wrong. With 2 beautiful women offering themselves to them he tricked one into getting tied up and knocked out the other, only to find that another man they had lured to the planet was now dead. He finally joined back with his ship.

The Bible constantly warns us about deception and about sexual sin. We are even told in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to "flee from sexual immorality" and even told that sexual sin is against our own body. Admittedly, I have not always been amazing at keeping my thoughts clean. I have to battle every day and my best days are when I make sure I have things going on and have other things for my mind to focus on.

When I googled "deception and the Bible" I found a link with a list of many scriptures on the subject, including this:
"Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation." Psalm 24:3-5
 I find it interesting that the Psalmist here encourages us to receive righteousness. We don't have to earn it or find it on our own. God Himself will get in the dirt with us if we only trust Him.

We live in a time when we are told many things. We are told that fun will fulfill us. That family will fulfill us, that sex and money will fulfill us. The only thing that is MEANT to fulfill us is Jesus Christ. Don't feel like you have to give in to your desires or your fantasies. Remember how Joseph refused Potiphar's wife? You can read the full story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Keep his example and Harry Kim's example in front of you. We do not need to follow the sirens of sin to find fulfillment.



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My First Anime Con

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

There is still some time left in the cosplay photo contest.

I taught Stone Age to Jake and Jonathon. We enjoyed talking and playing.
This weekend I went to S.S. Kaizoku Con in Muskegon, MI. Right close to my hometown. It was a two day con but I only attended Saturday. This was my first ever anime convention. I am not a big anime guy but I went because they had a table top gaming room for the first time in the short history of the con. A friend had asked me to come and hang out to help in the tabletop room and I thought it would be a good chance to have fun and make connections. It was just that.

I took several games with me. Along with playing games I talked to some of the cosplayers, but mostly briefly. I found that it was a great experience even though I am not an anime fan. The reason being that I got to hang out with people that enjoy similar things as I do and I got to teach games to people.

There is a lot of interconnections in our little world of nerdom. Most people do enjoy more than one aspect of it so even though I was there for games and others were there for anime, we still managed to get along well.

I had not expected girls to put on some music and start dancing for the crowds (don't worry it was pretty safe stuff). These were lolita girls and I think they were dancing to J-Pop. I don't know the difference between J-Pop and K-Pop as I have not really spent a lot of time listening to either form. What I garnered was that they had learned the movies from music videos (or maybe dance video games?).

As I was walking around I managed to invite some of the crowd to check out Nerd Chapel. This was mostly telling people about the cosplay contest but I also invited some of the guys I played games with. One guy said he was a Christian and was happy to see someone doing something like this. One girl had already seen the post about our cosplay contest and was pretty sure she has "liked" our FB page (this made me happy).

It was a good experience. I encourage you to not be afraid of checking out cons for other hobbies that fit in the Nerd realm. You will probably find some people who like something you also like and you might even be able to make some good connections. Hey, maybe you will even grow in your understanding of others.

Oh, and if you are a writer, feel free to use the title of this post for  a children's book.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sliding and Checking In

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Before we go on to our weekly thought, have you read about the COSPLAY CONTEST?

Posted on www.phillipsandifer.com

Lately I have been watching Sliders on Netflix. It has been interesting seeing what quirky situations they get into each episode. Right now I am in the last season; the season when we only have one remaining member of the original team. This is quite annoying. I miss Wade, Collin, Professor and Quin.

I recently watched an episode where Maggie got herself kidnapped by an organization that controlled all transactions, retail and business. She is expected to just sign up for the deal. When the company finds details on her duplicate for that world and realizes she is not, it expects her to go through a re-education program to spend more money. Basically, it wants to get her further into debt.

This was not the only time that Sliders did an episode to discuss American consumerism and use satire to show the dangers we face. One season they actually did a Christmas episode on a world where thousands of people were being held as workers in debt beyond their heads, but that time it was a giant mall in the sky that did it.

I think our society was in a bit of a haze about the debt issue but it does seem to be getting better. Budgeting classes and shows are certainly available (almost to available). As nerds, we face this issue regularly. We recently coined the word "Shelfie" to describe photos of board game shelves. We also have shelves filled with blue rays and comics and lots of other stuff. I have many times had to pull myself away from spending to much. And, yes, you are correct. Sometimes I did spend to much money on games or movies or snacks.

So what can we do to deal with this issue?

1. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount (which may have been a collection of messages he would reuse but at least one time were shared on a mountain) that we should not worry about physical things. I don't think His point was to spend, spend, spend. I think His point was that God will meet our needs.

2. I do agree with setting budgets or goals. I am often best when I have a goal, normally a mission trip, to look toward. I tend to be more aware of over-spending in such cases.

3. I think we need to learn to enjoy what we do have. I know I am guilty of dreaming about this game or that game I want to get. I even did that today. Sometimes we need to recognize that God has given us a lot already.

4. One other principal of Jesus: if you have extra, share. Generosity is key to life with Jesus. This may come in the form of buying your friend a gift, but I think Jesus was more concerned with serious needs than fun stuff.

My church has been doing this great check in thing lately. You check in on Facebook on Sunday morning for service and for each check in money is donated or something is given for a particular cause. Lately the cause is building schools in developing areas. This is a way of giving without spending money. Generosity is based in certain heart yearnings, not in handing stuff to someone. Handing out money/stuff is just a way to motivate your heart.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cosplay Photo Contest

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Today I get to announce a Cosplay Contest! Yes, there is a prize.


No, the winner will not be determined by fighting over a lightsaber.


This is a cosplay photo contest. So here is the deal. Send a message to the Nerd Chapel Facebook Page with your cosplay photo. Friends must enter separately with different photos. The deadline for this is Thursday, August 27 at midnight.

Here are a few details to consider:

I will combine the pictures into a photo album on the Nerd Chapel FB page that will be up for 1 week. At the end of that week, at a time announced at the posting of the album, the picture with the most likes will win. That person will get a new copy of "42:Discovering Faith through Fandom" shipped to them.

The only "likes" counted will be the ones in the album on the actual page. Likes that only hit the shared copies but not the actual album copy will not be counted. Swimsuits inspired by characters will not be counted except where it is shown that the character has dressed that way.

Please photo shop your name into the upper left hand corner of your photo. Yes, fanpage name is fully acceptable as long as you send the message from that page. This is both to make communication with the winner quicker and it will give the cosplayer proper recognition. 



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gen Con 2015

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.


Gen Con 2015 was an amazing experience, as always. Over 61,000 people packed out downtown Indianapolis for the best 4 days of gaming. I played some games, did some cosplaying, and spent time at 2 booths. At the Christian Gamers Guild booth, a lot of people came and said "Woah, we hadn't heard about this before!" We had a great time letting gamers know that not all Christians are against their hobbies. At one point someone came to the booth shocked as she never expected "to find these two things together".



Aaron came back the day after buying 42 excited for the journey.
I spent some time at Nathan Marchand's book table, which is where one important conversation took place, but it wasn't even me in the conversation. This was one of those times when I had to take a back step as Nathan talked with a guy who is developing a world for his writing to take place in. He had not had any of the other authors listen to him the way Nathan was and I simply watched the book table while he and Nathan talked. This guy had been through depression and was having a hard time and Nathan's listening and discussion for what I think was at least 45 minutes very helpful to him.

I also helped with the Sunday morning worship service. I was involved with Communion by setting up, giving some instructions and praying over it in the service. The Geek Preacher discussed fighting battles and how the best way to fight the dragon is to put down our weapons and not let it control our interactions with people.

42:Discovering Faith through Fandom flew off the tables. The CGG ran out of copies of it on the second day and at the end of the con we only had 1 copy left! 1 person who had talked with me about the book felt like responses from both Christians and Gamers/Nerds might respond harshly to this idea. He came back later feeling like he had offended me and but I was able to say that I was not offended at all.

Unfortunately I did not get to demo very many games. I did play Cinque Terre and Lost Cities the Board Game for the first time. Cinque Terre was fun and very similar to Ticket to Ride. I would play it again. Would I buy it again? I don't really know. I guess it would depend on if someone I game with regularly would also play it but they might feel it is to similar to Ticket to Ride. I also got to demo Sentinel Tactics which I thought was quite interesting. I like pre-built miniatures games and that is how the game play is designed so I might invest in that someday. Lost Cities was interesting and I would consider getting it as it easy to learn with reasonable game play. It does not have a lot of player interaction, though.

Just part of the board/miniatures gaming hall!
Many cosplays were out and about, especially on Saturday.

Nathan Marchand and I got to meet Summer Glau!







Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Network

Tek Ma Te Warriors and Scholars!

Well, have you seen Ant Man yet? I did! I laughed several times and really enjoyed the relationship between Scott Lang and Hank Pym. I thought that they kept the montra "It's all connected." quite well.

One of those little connections was pretty big news. During the second montage of Luis explaining a complicated story of how he got some information, we heard this: "We got one who jumps, one who swings, one who crawls up walls." The first MCU reference to our friendly neighborhood Spiderman!

Now, this is really exciting, but most of the blogs and articles I've seen about this have not talked about something. There is a network. This scene showed us that as various small time heroes have stepped out to fight crime something else is happening. A network of people has been built that is providing routes of communication and support and networking. Presumably, the network has reached from NYC where a conversation between one of it's members and an Avenger all the way to San Francisco where our man Luis is telling Scott Lang about the conversation. I am unsure of the location of the club where this conversation happened, but I'm guessing it was in New York.

Now why is this important? Well, because we find at least some people who do not have cool tech suits or super powers joining in a huge work that is all about fighting evil and crime. Not everyone making a difference in the MCU is a spy or a great engineer or a super soldier. Some are just normal people who want to help out.

In the church we tend to take certain gifts and abilities and treat them as some sort of ultimate achievement. Some do this with the gifts of teaching and preaching. There are churches out there where it is all about the preaching pastor and that is it. Some do it with speaking in tongues. They claim you must do this to show evidence of being truly saved. But what does scripture say?

"There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." 1 Cor. 12:4-6
Paul later goes on to describe the church as a body. This is where we get the phrase "the Body of Christ". He comments "how can you see without an eye?" and "how can you hear without an ear?" Some people have a gift for helps. They just come in and help around the church by cleaning or setting up tables. My brother, Dad and I are on the tech team. My Dad runs a video camera multiple times a month and I run lights and my brother runs sound. Some have an amazing heart and ability for prayer. They never really "teach" or set chairs up or stuff like that but they will pray for hours every week for people in the church and within their influence.

EVERYONE is important. I remember that line from the 11th Doctor, "In 900 years I have never met anyone who wasn't important." God feels the same way and he has given you a gift to serve with. You might have to do some exploring to find it, but it is there. There are a lot of online spiritual gift surveys to take to find it, but in the end you will need to step out and try something. Your gift might be really helpful in areas of your church that you have never thought about.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

How "42:Discovering Faith Through Fandom" Came into Being


Greetings Scholars and Warriors.


Thanks to Ruth Pike for her hard work on cover art!

If you have paid any attention to the Nerd Chapel FB page, then you know that Nathan Marchand and I have completed a new collaborative work. 42:Discovering Faith Through Fandom is the result of a vision I had probably around 2 years ago or more. I realized you find many daily devotionals for hunters, sports fans as well as gender and age specific ones; but none specifically focused on Nerd/Geek culture. When I started working on it, I felt God nudging me to bring Nathan on and I think that was a great idea. Nathan is a published science fiction author who has published both as a "self publisher" and through a publishing company. He was able to bring a lot to the project with his knowledge of editing, formatting, and pursuing publishing possibilities. He also found our cover artist, Ruth Pike, at a dance group he attends.

We chose to go the route of self publishing because very few publishers fit the niche of "Christian and Geek". Most Christian publishing companies don't understand Nerd culture in any way and most fantasy or science fiction publishers would never consider publishing a devotional. We did talk with one company but they are so far behind they would not have been able to even look at it for a year, let alone make a decision or get things going.

Here are a few of the daily titles in our book:

The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything
The Resurrection of Spock
Spiderman and the Pong of Vengeance
Beware the Dark Side

Nathan will have copies at his table in author's row at Gen Con 2015. We also are donating some to the Christian Gamers Guild booth at Gen Con this year. I will have copies at the Nerd Chapel table at Grand Con 2015. Copies are also available online:

 http://www.amazon.com/42-Discovering-Faith-Through-Fandom

If you would like to check out Nathan's other works, go to:

www.nathanjsmarchand.com 




Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jurassic Dualism

Found at imdb.com
Sunday I finally got to see Jurassic World. I very much enjoyed watching the dinosaurs chase everyone. I did not like the lack of characters from the original but I do think that they paid homage to it and it was nice to see a another Jurassic movie back at the main island instead of the backup site.

What struck me was how many characters showed the true polarism of humanity. We have such a huge tendency for both good and evil. For our purposes we will look at one of those characters: Zach.

Zach comes to the island with his brother and is not exactly doing great at it. He pulls his brother away from their escort to go see things without her, is sometimes very mean to his brother, and then even takes his brother through a crashed gate into a restricted area and ends up putting them both in danger. This along with checking out girls while he does have a girlfriend back home.

As the movie progresses, he starts protecting his brother. Not with the action soldier ways, but in significant ways. He never leaves his brother's side in all he craziness and does keep him from harm in a couple of occasions.

This is just like us humans, right? We have so many low points as well as high points. Every religion and many other philosophies recognize that we have such a great capacity for both sin and goodness. Paul talks about this fight within us in Romans 7. He mentions that he himself has to constantly fight because he finds himself doing what he doesn't want to do. In all the Bible, only Jesus and Daniel are never reported of in a bad light by the Bible itself. All our heroes like David, Abraham, Peter make some really bad choices as well as really good ones.

In Romans 8 Paul comes out and admits that only Jesus can help him with his sin issues. He later talks about being "more than a conqueror" through Jesus. You see, the thing that separates Christianity from other religions is not our view of man. That tends to stay the same because we have a pretty realistic view of ourselves because we have to put up with each other every day. What is different is our view of God.

In religion life is all about working really hard in hopes of impressing a deity or earning some sort of rewards. Jesus called Himself the "way the truth and the life" and Paul speaks of salvation as a gift:
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

Some preachers have focused so much on our depravity as human beings that they have missed out on the uniqueness and amazing qualities of what God created in us. We do have great propensity for kindness, grace and love. You may feel like you have way more bad than good, but Jesus can help you with that; both in how you see yourself and in your habits and choices.  You see Jesus would rather get in the dirt with you and help you to move in faith toward your better qualities than leave you to try to change alone. If you want to get more into dealing with sin on a daily basis, go see my video "Changing Lanterns". 


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Celebratory Protest

Greetings Warriors and Scribes.

So, I want to tell you a story about a lady named Laila. Laila is a woman who has been seeking asylum in Austria. She speaks not only German fluently, but Farsi and French as well. She is engaged to a guy who has already been accepted and granted asylum. She was going through all legal expectations, such as visiting the police station every 3 days. One day she went in and they arrested her. The Prime Minister had decided there was no space left in the country and apparently that they should not even give a chance to someone who could be a contributing member of society.

My friends in Vienna know her. They go to her church. A church that is devoted to immigrants and sharing Jesus with foreigners. So what did they do? They prayed and they protested. They joined with activists in standing outside her jail for 2 nights. This grabbed a lot of attention. Members of parliament used her story to express why there needs to be changes in policy. Her story was on national news and even on the big ad screens in the subway stations.

The police took her to the airport. But it didn't go as planned. The flight crew refused to fly her. REFUSED TO FLY HER! The police ended up taking her back to the station and the plane took off with the rest of the passengers bound for their destination. A few hours later she got released by the police.

I happened to be on route to Vienna the day this was happening and stayed with my friends that night. So I got to attend a celebratory protest. Yep, you read that right. CELEBRATORY PROTEST. I had never really protested anything. My views of such an activity were limited to news and movies. The one I always remember the most is Planet 59. Such a fun movie. I am glad I got to go see a different side of life; and of the churches work in Europe.

I like rules. I am a board gamer and we tend to be pretty serious about such things. This showed me something about rules that aren't working well. This was not an illegal immigrant. Laila had no problem going through legal hoops to achieve this goal but all she was getting was an unjust push out the door.

I respect her church for taking peaceful measures to challenge the issue. Often in ministry it is so easy to feel like you are getting nowhere....and this is one of those stories that just shouts out "HOPE EXISTS!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Back from Europe

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Sorry I missed SEVERAL weeks in a row of blogging. My computer decided to give me issues while I was in Europe so I was not able to get blogs written very easily.

FEDCON!

Fedcon  in Dusseldorf, Germany, was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed the panels, cosplays,  and conversations. This was my first European con so it was definitely more of a leap of faith, especially being in a nation with another language. What I found was that there are many English speakers at this con. In fact, when all the American actors were up on stage for panels, they were not using translators. Only a few panels were in German; most were in English.

Here are a few pictures:

 
 Trekkies were there in abundance.

Stargate was well represented as 3 actors from the franchise were present. David Hewlett (Dr. Rodney McKay in SG-1/Atlantis) was amazing on stage.
 I was so excited to walk up to this cosplayer and say "Tek ma'te Master Bra'tac!" I got to talk with him a couple times over the weekend. Very outgoing guy.

 Although comics were not really a main focus, you did have a lot of comics based cosplayers at Fedcon.










 Do you think I like Stargate? This cosplayer was doing a Nox. I think the Nox are only found in 3 episodes of SG-1 (out of 200+ episodes).










My lesson from Fedcon is this: don't let cultural walls, such as a language barrier, scare you when you consider attending a con. I was not to concerned about language barriers because English is widely spoken around the world. Certainly it is not the only barrier and some cons might be harder than this one when it comes to that issue, but a nerds can always find ways of connecting when we are together.

Also, I want to thank the Guthries, who are trying to start a new section of Fans for Christ in Europe, for hosting me and letting me tag along with them. It was a great experience and they are a great family to spend time with.


For anyone interested in FFC Europe, go here on FB.


Slovakia

While in Slovakia I had the pleasure of joining with Youth with a Mission (YWAM). I had spent many months with them previously as a student at a Discipleship Training School. I did not come for an organized event or program this time but instead just came to spend a few weeks helping out around their new facility. I did a lot of weed whacking, some painting (which I wasn't very good at) and just provided an extra set of hands around the facility.


The 3 weeks in Slovakia were an interesting situation. I was the only single surrounded by couples for most of it. I am not complaining as there were some great couples there. It took a little more self management for me. I just had to pray about some things and watch my attitude. Even with being a 5th, or 15th, wheel I still had a great time. What I learned was to enjoy the people around me and pray about my feelings/thoughts as I worked through them.

I strongly recommend the DTS program that YWAM runs. I did not always agreed with some of the teachings, but I still learned a lot. Admittedly,, YWAM takes some getting used to if you do not come from a charismatic background, but I grew a lot during my DTS. YWAM Slovakia is still working on their website at this time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Warriors and Scholars

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Next week I leave for Europe for one of several adventures this year. I'll be hanging out in Germany for a week with Fans for Christ Europe. We will be attending Fed Con as a group. Our hope is to meet people and be a presence of Christ at the convention just by being friendly.

This summer I have a couple of things I'm running lights for, such as a kids camp at my church and probably a youth camp for my church as well. But then I get to go to Gen Con and hang out with the Christian Gamers Guild. I'll be volunteering at their booth so stop by if you are there!

There is always a question of how our relationship with Christ is both part of our daily life and how it impacts those around us, even as we attend conventions or just hang out in comics shops or gaming groups.I'm sure you have noticed that I have begun using a greeting on most of my posts. "Greetings Warriors and Scholars." Today I want to use that to share a few thoughts.

Warrior: This can come across as harsh, or even aggressive for those who are not following Christ. Sometimes when they hear us talk about being a "warrior for Christ" they are rather put off. Partly because some Christians have tried to use politics or various communication stuff in some bad ways. And should we forget the horrid acts of many "Christians" during the Inquisition and the Crusades? So what do we mean by this? Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that our battle is "not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms." Again, this can sound a little weird. "Rulers" and "authorities" in here does not mean human governments. These are all words that Paul used to describe different ranks of Satan's cronies. We are warriors not against any people, but against a spiritual enemy that often uses people and encourages poor choices to do great harm. How does one be a warrior? By not causing harm. By praying for others. By helping people. When we do helpful things, it moves against the harm in the world. When we pray, it should always be about redemption, not "us vs. them".

Scholar: What do scholars do? They learn stories and tell them to others. You could also infuse "scribe" in here. Part of our life should include study of the story of God. How he has been involved in the world in history and how He is involved right now. We do this when we read the Bible, when we sit with others and listen to their testimonies, even as we take in various media. The scribe part, of course, would come in with sharing those stories. Telling people the amazing feats of our God and even of His presence in our difficulties.

This year Nerd Chapel is excited to be once again at Grand Con but we are expanding. This year not only will there be a chapel service (which is currently submitted and waiting approval) but we have already been approved for having a table in the exhibit hall.