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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Leaving for China 2016

Greetings Warriors and Scholars,

Tomorrow..."I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again." Ok, so many I do know when I'll be back again. I am going to China to teach an English camp. It will be a week long camp in the heart of the country and I am excited to hang out with some old friends and make some new friends.

I and one other gentleman will join up with a team from Macau and go to the Hubei province to hold the camp. I am taking some games for the camp such as Rory's Story Cubes, Suchi Go, and a few others.

We would appreciate your prayers. Originally we were supposed to have a 4 person team but 2 people had to pull out last minute. I expect to be doing a lot of scrambling between rooms for this camp but we shall see what the plan is from the Macau team.

Please keep Ian and I in your prayers for the next 2 weeks. Tomorrow we have a long flight from Chicago to Hong Kong and then we shall spend a day or two in Macau and then leave with the team from there for our camp.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Joy and Mourning with Pokemon

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Well, this has been a crazy few weeks. As I am typing this the world is cringing at the pain of a bad attack in Nice, France which has left dozens dead and dozens injured. We have just dealt with shootings at cops and unnecessary shootings by cops around the USA. We have had an attack in Baghdad so bad it was the worse attack there in years (250 people died in it).

In the middle of all of this we find a new mobile game called "Pokemon Go." I am sure you already know the premise of the game. People are getting off their sofas, going outside, talking to people. It is helping people who have struggled with depression. This game is helping us heal with a breath of fresh air. It is reminding us that we have more to experience out in the world than just shootings and attacks.

We are being given a time to celebrate with a new game that is encouraging exercise and nerdy tendencies but we are also dealing with a lot of pain. Romans 12:15 tells us to "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." We have an opportunity to live that out this week.

Pokemon Go is a breath of fresh air, but Jesus is the ultimate physician. He does want us to experience fun moments. [Side note, does it bother anyone else that most movies about Jesus life do not show him laughing or joking with people?] Jesus also took time to heal people form blindness, deafness, and many other maladies.

Jeremiah stated that if we seek God with all our heart we will find him (Jeremiah 29:13). While you are out seeking Pokemon by walking for miles on end, do not forget that God wants to walk with you. A huge part of seeking God "with all your heart" is learning His heart for those who are in distress and his heart for joy. I encourage you to keep Nice, Baghdad, Dallas, and others in your prayers as you enjoy your games.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Apocalypse: Becoming Your Own Idol

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Wednesday I had the pleasure of finally seeing X-Men:Apocalypse for the first time at a local cheapo theater (although the snacks were still quite expensive so I went without that). I greatly enjoyed the film and there is so much that can be unpacked and chewed on in this film. It is hard to know where to begin. I think we shall begin with the concern with false gods.

Apocalypse is quite an interesting character in this film He has quite a pastoral heart, even if his intentions are evil. He is empowering mutants and quite honestly he seems to have a strength for discipleship. He sees all our machines of modern life and begins noticing the systems of government. We see him calling against false gods at one point but here is the problem: he made himself a false god. He became an idol himself. He fully claims godhood and wants all control over our planet. Actually, he even makes a comment that he wants to make Cairo the "center of the universe."

Unfortunately, mutants are not the only ones with such egos. We humans, in real life, tend to have a lot of that ourselves. Look at the pharisees. They had many rules against idols and about daily life. They took the idea of law, something God created to help us know our need for him and to navigate the confusion of right and wrong, and made it a road to the idol of their own egos. Jesus called them "white washed tombs" inferring that they clean what can be seen but just that and would rather be prideful than fully surrendered followers of God. We have a lot of people who do that here.

We have a lot of idols in our modern lives. Comfort, money, sex. Some people even expect their meaning to come from family rather than from God. This keeps them from serving at church sometimes or it becomes a trap for other members of their family who simply can't live up to the expectations to fill a void in the heart.

How do we keep from being our own idol?
"How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word." Psalm 119:9
We keep our way pure by comparing our thoughts with scripture. Is this action in alignment with scripture? Is this rule found in the Word of God?

Only God Himself should be "the center of the universe".