Grand Con

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Where is my Lothwolf Tunnel?

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Have you been watching the new season of Star Wars Rebels? I have and it has not disappointed me at all. I enjoyed seeing some Mandalorians take back their place as fighters and specifically against the Empire. In fact, I would love to see the Mandalorians take on the First Order in the movies. I have also enjoyed the addition of the Lothwolf. Spoilers ahead.

https://nerdist.com/star-wars-rebels-princess-mononoke-loth-wolf/
Apparently, this wolf, which is a huge animal, had not been seen for 100 years, if you believe the comment by Ezra. They inhabit Lothal and are noble and fast, capable of great speed and I am sure they have great power as well. Interestingly, they have a strong connection with the Force. In the recent episode, Kindred (Season 4, Episode 7), the rebels are trying to hide and escape from an Imperial assault which includes bombing. There is no way out. They have a large maze of rocks behind them and imperials in front of them. Ezra convinces the team to follow the wolves. As they follow the wolves, which is hard, they eventually come to a cave. The wolves seem to wait for a moment and then the bombing starts. The wolves head deeper into the cave and a tunnel that is similar to a hyperspace tunnel opens up. The wolves actually take the team through this tunnel from the northern Hemisphere of the planet all the way down to the southern hemisphere. It is unsure how much time it took, but it is a massive distance.

Life is full of crazy situations where it feels like there is no way out. Maybe you hate your job. Perhaps you are sick of the way someone treats you but you are committed to making it work. Maybe you are dealing with loneliness.

In scripture we have many stories of God making amazing escape routes for people. Remember the Israelites and the Red Sea? How God opened a path for them to cross on? Think about when Peter was in jail and an angel came and escorted him past the guard. If you are wanting escape, then hold on. God does see and He does provide. I have been struggling with romantic loneliness for years and this is one place where I am still holding on and just talking to God about it.

One thing to note: not all situations we want to escape from are situations we should escape from. The Rebels did escape from the situation, but they did not leave the planet when Captain Syndulla took the recorded info on the new Tie fighters back to rebel command. They stayed because there was more to be done. Paul and Silas were in jail for their faith once and when an earthquake ripped the cell doors open, they stayed. Because of this the jailer and his family came to Christ. Nehemiah was facing a lot of threats for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, but when urged to leave and hide away he stayed to complete the project. Maybe you don't like your school because of the way kids treat you or the work is hard for you. This might be a situation where you just have to hold on and wait to see what God does through the situation. He might influence others through you simply being there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Faith not Strength

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Last week we finally got our eagerly awaited beginning of a new season for the Arrowverse. Wednesday I did not have to work, so I pulled out my laptop and hooked it up to a TV to watch The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow and later watched the new Supergirl episode with my Mom and Arrow by myself on another day.

Spoilers my friends.



This episode of the Flash, titled "The Flash Reborn," found Barrie's friends grieving his loss and all handling it in different ways. Remember, Barry was taken into the Speed Force at the end of last season. Iris was just running forward convinced, or at least acting convinced, that he was gone and would never get back. Wally, Joe and Cisco were just trying to keep up with the meta-human issues around the city. They were catching some of them, but not at all keeping it under full control. They come across a flying Samurai with katanas that had crazy power in them. Of course, he threatened to destroy the city if Barry did not come back.

As they tried to figure out what to do we find out that Cisco, along with a few other scientists from around the Arrowverse, has been working on a way to get Barry out of the Speed Force. He just needed Caitlin Snow so, without the agreement or approval of Iris, he found her and they got to work. They did get him out, though it didn't work as they thought it would. However, Barry was not the same. He was writing with symbols on the walls and speaking gibberish about physics and saying some things seemingly from past conversations. He was not Barry.

During this time Iris sits down with her dad for a talk. She doesn't understand how he has done well. How he is so calm. He explains that he has been going back to church. She is surprised and mentions that he hasn't done that since she was a child. But he went back and one of the sermons from the priest stood out to him because it felt like it was just for him. The message was about strength and faith; the reality that strength is not good without faith.

First off, I am really excited that they showed us a story where someone was willing to give church a try...and they were impacted by it. It meant something to the character that could impact others.

Next, I am glad they recognized that strength is not enough without faith. In the New Testament we are given many traits to chase after. Traits to build into our lives for our benefit and for us to be able to bless and help other people. But strength is not one of those.

Try reading Galatians 5. In this passage Paul is sharing with us what a Godly life should look like. What we should be espousing to, as well as the traits we should not seek out. In verses 22 and 23 he gives us a list we call the fruit of the Spirit. You will not find the word "strength" on this list. Now, you could argue that self-control takes strength. You could say forbearance/patience take strength, but strength is not the focus of either of these traits.

Faith is mentioned many times. Jesus comments on "you of little faith" before calming down a storm. He also says "anything is possible for one who believes" (Mark 9:23). Paul includes faith with hope and love in 1 Corinthians 13 as the "remaining" abilities. Essentially, where law and our gifts fail, these survive.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself encouraged us toward meekness. Now, this is not what some people think it is. Some see it as a complete lack of strength. Meekness is more about controlling your strength and trusting God to be the victor. Meekness is about putting your faith in God when you want to fix everything yourself.

Now we get back to the show. After this conversation, after considering that faith is what will change things, Iris literally gives herself over to the Samurai. She knows that if she were kidnapped, Barry would break every wall to save her which is essentially what happened. Learning of her need for him, was enough to shock him out of his altered state and bring him back to them.

We saw strength without faith in the new episode of Supergirl, "Girl of Steel". She was trying to get rid of Kara Danvers, who has faith in those around her and in her work in media. In her grief, she thought she could work as Supergirl and muscle things to a better place instead of grieving her loss of Mon-El. This self sufficiency lifestyle was hurting those around her.

Iris and the team could not fix everything. They could not get Barry back to himself with medicine or prodding, but with faith he did come back. Often we find ourselves in situations we can not fix or should not try to fix. In these times do you try to flex your strength or do you trust in God to step in with hope and healing?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Doctor Morbius and Hidden Attitudes

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Found on IMDB.
Last week sometime I sat down to watch a classic 1950s film on TV: "Forbidden Planet". The film features Leslie Nielson as a commander of a space crew that comes to check on a colony many years after it had landed. Walter Pidgoen plays Doctor Morbius, who with his daughter Altaira (played by Anne Francis), are the last survivors of that expedition. He claims the others were killed off by some unseen monster but he is happy to stay with his daughter and a robot, named Robbie. He prefers that the crew leave but they need to contact Earth for new orders.

Spoilers ahead.

As the crew stays and tries to build a comm setup that would reach Earth, since apparently they have traveled to far for their ships equipment to do so, they come under attack. Something comes into their ship leaving damage as it came, but no one who was on duty at the time saw anything. Another time it does kill/injure some of the crew.

While going to see Morbius about this, the Commander learns that he has become somewhat of an archaeologist and is studying a race of creatures that is long gone but left a rather large facility with highly advanced technology. In one of the labs, there is a device that works with a persons mental capabilities. It can create images of what you imagine and Morbius has used it to train his mind. In fact, the reason they have the robot Robbie is because of the tech and knowledge left by this long dead civilization.

Morbius is rather arrogant. After years of this mental work, he feels he is the only person who can decide when or if any of this technology or knowledge gets out to the rest of mankind. He tried to kick the commander out off the planet right away when they first met. He is a man who wants to be left alone to study. He does not value companionship, aside from maybe his daughter, and thinks his work is more important than anything else.

I think Doctor Morbius would be a good pharisee. When Jesus was doing ministry he had a lot of arguments with them. They were arrogant and felt they did not need this man who could do miracles. They thought they should decide what people knew about God and that they held a monopoly on how to interact with Him. They had ancient knowledge and they were fine without the Son of God.

In reality, the system was never meant to work without the Son of God. All the sacrifices the priests made were temporary. It was a system that kept man in constant red tape; always having to atone for this and for that. No sacrifice could change out hearts, except one, that of Jesus.

In the end, Morbius found that his own "Id", or his own inner mind, was responsible for the monster that kept killing everyone. His own selfishness came out through the machine he had used to train his mind. It created this invisible force that would attack anyone he did not trust. Just as our own sin put Jesus on the cross.

How does your selfishness affect those around you? Do you ever try to do things alone that are meant to be done in community? Sometimes as humans we are blind to our own sin. We don't see how it affects others but just like an invisible monster, our attitude comes out.

Jesus warned us about this. "You have heart it said, "Do not murder" but that anyone who does so is subject to judgement. I tell you, anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. (Matthew 5:21-22). Yet, He also took our sin upon Himself. Romans 8 tells us that in Christ we are freed from this law of sin and death and given over to the law of life.



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

GrandCon 2017

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!


This last weekend at GrandCon was amazing. Lot's of people came by the Nerd Chapel table and we had the highest attended Nerd Chapel service at a con ever! I got to talk with some great vendors, run two games of Pandemic and teach a few people to play Monsterpocalypse. This year the con was held in downtown Grand Rapids at the Devos Place.


At the table I handed out a lot of stickers from GameChurch and some coloring pages from Costumers for Christ plus a few bookmarks for "God Loves the Freaks" by Stephen Weese. I also sold a few copies of 42:Discovering Faith through Fandom and met some great people. I was surprised when Albin Johnson, founder of the 501st, a cosplay group that is well known for quality Star Wars cosplays, stopped by the table and talked with me for about 10 minutes. He was very encouraging.


In the service Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower preached about the storms of life, I led communion and Jon Mietling (designer of the game, "Zephyr Winds of Change") led us in worship with his guitar. This was the first time we have had someone come bring a guitar for help with worship. About 32 people came which is double our highest attendance in the past. It was a bit hard to find the room as it was on the 3rd floor and there was no signs from the con for the seminar room (the room itself did have some permanent signs).

A lot more cosplay this year than last year.

Darrin Ball ran a lot of games including Trench, Formula D and a Dominion tournament.

Monsterpocalypse!





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jesus and the Happily Ever Sacrifice

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on IMDB.
I watched a bit of an episode of "The Librarians" from TNT the other day. Season 2, Episode 9: "And the Happily Ever Afters." The team was under a spell in a small town on an island all experiencing their idealized dream of a life. Flynn Carsen (played by Noah Wyle) had been off finding more artifacts and came home unaffected by the spell to find them all gone and the clippings book going crazy with a situation on the island.

He found them quickly but they were all held in this. He also found a fairy (played by Hayley McLaughlin) who helped him trap them and talk to them. What they found was that they needed to choose to give up the idealized life in order to be free of the spell and claim their true life back.

Do you have your idealized life? Do you have your happily ever after? Sometimes what we think is our best life is just a ruse. It might be really good things, but it is not what God dreams for us. Jesus himself said that we need to lay down our lives to find it.
"Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39
There are the dreams we dream for ourselves, and there is God's dreams for us. His vision for who we can be and the adventures we can experience. Sometimes he gives us something else we had not thought of and sometimes He gives a thing we give up back to us, perhaps transformed in a way we had never thought of.

In the show they had to place talismans down to symbolically give up the fake lives, but Paul tells us that presenting ourselves to God "as a living sacrifice" is our "spiritual act of worship" and is pleasing to God (Romans 12:1).

We live in a world that says we should live according to our desires. That we must be subject to our nature, but Jesus tells us to give that to Him and to control our natures. One day we will even give the crowns we have earned by serving God back to Him, as a way of recognizing that it was all about Him anyway. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

GenCon 50

Greetings Warriors and Scribes.


I just got back from the best 4 days of gaming on a significant year. GenCon 50 was amazing. As seen above, the gamers took over Colts stadium for the week. This was in addition to the entire Indiana Convention Center and rooms at adjoining hotels.  I did spend some time helping Nathan Marchand with his table but I also played games and cosplayed. I had many great experiences but here are some of the cream of the crop for you.

Sagrada:

This game is lots of fun. I played 2 rounds of it. Rolling and assigning dice to build stained glass windows with limited options that must be chosen carefully to manipulate the dice. This was a lot of fun and it is not a long game.



Warehouse 13:

This was the biggest excitement for me in terms of gaming this weekend. I loved the SYFY show and this game is a faithful exploration of the world. It has a traitor element that is engineered with a similar feel to Battlestar Galactica, which is very fitting to the show. Sitting and talking with the designers was very fun and they are definitely fans of the show. One guy playing with us has not seen the show but he loved the game. This was a major high point of the convention.

This is a semi cooperative game. Each play through is a season and each round is an episode. Through the game you will find clues to figure out what item is causing issues and work to gather the needed tech, intuition,  etc. to stop the situation. However, someone else is also seeking the items to use against your team and one member is secretly working for them. There is a cooperative version for 2 players.

Watch for this to hit Kickstarter!



Buy the Rights:

This is a fun party game where the players are all pitching the movie ideas for the money to make them. Each round a different person will be the "producer" with 20 million dollars to shell out to the other players. Winner is the person with the most money at the end. You will lay out four cards: Genre, Hero, Descriptor of the hero, and the plot. You can elaborate as much as you want to get the attention of the producer and have some fun.



Christian Gamers Guild Events:

The Christianity and Gaming Panel went well. This was a question driven panel that discussed things like planning game nights for churches, how to handle magic and other "dark" things found in gaming, etc.



The Church Service was great. Tom Vasel preached about slowing down for resting and for time with God. We had a full worship band with drums, electric and acoustic guitar and some a great list of songs. This is always a highlight of GenCon for me and this year did not disappoint.


Cosplay

I cosplayed as a Blue Lantern on Friday and Martian Manhunter for half of Saturday (before I went to a Heroscape tournament). Unfortunately the only Lantern related cosplayers I saw were on different days than when I was a blue lantern.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Remain in the Christ, Luke

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

http://www.bikesrepublic.com/featured/hjc-star-wars-introduces-luke-sykwalker-x-wing-helmet/
Do you remember how Luke destroyed the Death Star? Think about the sequence. He was coming in for the kill, had his targeting computer set...and then he hears this: "Use the Force Luke!" It was a call from Kenobi. Do not trust instruments. He turned off the targeting computer. Everyone back at the base was like "Hey, what's going on?" They did not think he could do it without the computer, but he did. He came in, Han shot Darth Vader's fighter and it careened out of control, and Luke made the shot and got out of them as the Death Star exploded.

Psalm 1:2-3 tell us that that anyone who puts their delight "in the law of the Lord" will be victorious "like trees planted by streams of water." Jesus told us that we need to "remain" in Him.
"I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up thrown into the fire and burned." John 15:5-6
It is so easy to get off task, right?  If you feel like you rarely read the Bible or pray, even though you firmly believe in Christ, you are not alone. Unfortunately it is pretty common for us humans. But what does it really mean to "remain in Christ"?  Here are a few thoughts:

1. Take opportunities to help others. Just a few verses later Jesus says that His command is to "love each other as I have loved you." The way we treat others is highly connected with how we experience Jesus. At another point He said people would know we are His by our love for each other. It will not always be a "big" thing. Often it will be small, like holding a door for someone. Sometimes it will be big, like helping someone move or donating to a necessary cause.

2. Read your Bible. Psalm 1 does put a focus on "the law of the Lord" and the longest chapter in the Bible is about gleaning from and trusting the Bible (Psalm 119). One of the most important things I got out of any youth ministry I was ever in was this: read some piece of scripture each day. Even if it is small. It does not need to be a huge chapter every day. I have a verse hanging by my door so I can read it as I go out or come in. I try, as often as possible, to stop and read when ever someone posts scripture on Facebook.

3. Look for opportunities to pray. When I get upset about stuff I often ask God to give me the right attitude. When I hear an emergency vehicle's siren, I stop and quietly pray for the situation. Paul tells us to "pray continually". That does not mean every prayer will be big.

4. Ask Him to be with you or to give you guidance. Every December, and often before it, I am already asking God what He wants for my next year. I do believe that God has adventures for us, although they are different for everyone. Have you ever asked God what He wanted for your day? He does not always answer right away. That is okay. He has not forgotten you.

Luke was effective when he leaned into the Force and trusted it. When we lean into Jesus, He does more than we can possibly imagine.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

CGDC 2017

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.



This last weekend I attended the Christian Game Developers Conference in Portland, Oregon. While there I provided 2 chapel service opportunities, hosted one of the morning prayer times, and offered and offered opportunities for prayer appointments. If you payed attention to the FB page, you might have seen me "go Live" with Patrick Lysaght from Chara Games.

The services went well although they had small attendance. There was a lot going on and there was no good timing for them. We focused on finding God's definition of success. We focused on Micah 6:8 as our directive of how to define success and and we also considered, from Paul's admittance in Philippians 3:12-14 that he is still running the race, that this race is not a finish line race like the game Formula D, but an experiential race like the game Tokaido. One where we are collecting experiences with God rather than pushing for a finish line. We also looked considered how Jesus set an example with all three of the commands from Micah 6:8.

Nobody signed up for any prayer appointments, but this was a new idea for the conference and most attendees were focused on both networking and training for their fields.

This was a good experience. I got to meet some people I had not seen face to face before and start to understand more of the experience of Christians working in the video game field. Some are creating video games for the Christian market but most are simply using video games to share a story, such as the Greenes who created "That Dragon, Cancer." Their session on Immersive Narrative was amazing as they described the experience of putting their real live story of cancer into a video game. Another great session was by Justin Fox, from Kingdom Arts/Justin Fox Media, led a session on, well, artwork for the Kingdom of God. He shared how all art done with God, instead of for yourself, will be better than your own musings.

There were only a few boardgame developers demoing at the conference. Chara Games was running demos on both Commissioned and Unauthorized.

I encourage all game developers, tabletop or video game, to consider attending this conference next year. This would also be a good opportunity for writers and voice actors.







Saturday, July 8, 2017

What can you do?

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Happy summer! This summer is going by really fast.

Earlier this week my Mom and I continued our viewing of Stargate SG-1. One of the episodes we watched that night was "Maternal Instinct" from season 3. In this episode, they find out that Apophis is back with the army formerly committed to Sokar. He had attacked Chulack in his search for his child, a "harsesis" who has been hidden from him so he does not use the child as a new host and then gain all the knowledge of the Goa'uld. In their search for the child, the team goes to Keb, a spiritual destination for older Jaffa who are done fighting.

Here, they meet a monk and Daniel goes into a long discussion with him about many things. The monk, who never gives us a name, tries to get Daniel to use his mind to do things but is also talking about a "Oma Desala". At first Daniel thinks this is just a phrase for mother nature, but we later find that she is what would later be described as an "ascended being". Daniel realizes that his tricks of controlling small flames and moving things with his mind were not him at all. It was all Oma's doing. She then fights the army for them and takes the child away to safety.

Although there are obvious Buddhist parallels in this story as they use a similar setting and phrases by the monk are similar, there are some significant parallels for us as followers of Jesus as well. Jesus told us about a "Counselor" he would send us. This Counselor is known more commonly as the Holy Spirit. During the Old Testament He often came upon men and women God had called out for very special works but after a day we call Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon all who follow Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 12 we find a description of what we often call the Gifts of the Spirit. These are abilities God chooses to dispense to us through the Holy Spirit and yes I do think they can be called super powers. We learn a few things here:

  • The Holy Spirit gives gifts as he chooses to all who believe.
  • The gifts include "miraculous" things such as healing and "mundane" things such as administration.
  • All gifts are given for the common good, not for show-boating.
  • There is no formula to what gift(s) you get. 
Most importantly, we understand that these gifts all come from the Holy Spirit. If you are unsure about your gifts, I recommend 2 things. First, pray about it. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your gifts and to empower you to serve. Second, ask other believers who know you what they think your gifts are. There are some online spiritual gifts surveys out there that can be uses as tools to help you discover it, but that is not the first place I would start. 

Daniel did not light a candle with his mind or have any super powers. It was Oma Desala doing that. But in real life the Holy Spirit does make Himself and some gifts available to us as we serve Jesus. What can you do?

Monday, June 5, 2017

2017 Summer/Fall Con Schedule

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Here is my con schedule for official events for this year. There might be additions or changes, but this is what I currently have planned:

June 18: Nerd Chapel Sunday Service at JAFAX in Grand Rapids, MI. I'll be hanging out at the con all weekend but not with a table. The service is at 10am Sunday Morning in Panel Room 2. You might find me walking around as Martian Manhunter from Justice League/Justice League Unlimited on one of these days.

July 20-22: Christian Game Developers Conference in Portland, OR. Many details still need to come together but this is happening. I'll be helping with the ministry/worship portion of the event and possibly running games.



Sept. 15-17: GrandCon Gaming Convention in Grand Rapids, MI. This will include both a table and the Nerd Chapel Sunday Service. I'm running 2 rounds of Pandemic Friday night and a session for Monsterpocalypse on Saturday night.

Oct. 28-29: Fantasticon in Fort Wayne, IN. with a table.

Nov. 11-12: Fantasticon in Mt. Pleasant, MI. with a table.

Unofficial, I'm sure I'll be hanging out at Grand Rapids Comic Con in October and I am hoping to make it to GenCon in August, but these will not be "official" in any way. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Arrow, The Flash, and Helping Enemies

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

This week I enjoyed the season finales of both The Flash and Arrow. One of the interesting subjects raised in both of these episodes was that of turning a foe into a friend.

http://www.playbuzz.com/brookem24/team-flash-or-team-arrow
Spoilers ahead.

In The Flash, Barry Allen tried to help Savitar. We learned before this that Savitar is actually a future version of Barry, or more accurately a time remnant Barry created to help fight Savitar; who eventually became Savitar. Yeah. Anyway, while Captain Cold had helped him steal a power source for the Speed Cannon, he was told something important: your goodness is the best par to who you are. In other words, you can't always fight fire with fire. Barry decided not to try and destroy Savitar, but instead to offer to help him somehow. Spoiler: Savitar failed to kill Iris. Since this is a big part of what made him Savitar, that meant time would catch up with him and erase him. The Flash offered to help find a way for Savitar to continue living. In this case, it did not work. Savitar just tried to kill them all.

In Arrow, we find Oliver has been brought back to Lian Yu, the island he had been stranded on. He found Digger Harkness and Slade Wilson/Deathstroke. He asked them to help him. Digger Harkness pretended to join him and then revealed he had received a "better offer". Ok, this sounds bad. Why keep trying to turn enemies into friends? I mean, this seems like it isn't turning out well.

The principal is not an issue of how effective this was. It is an issue of right vs. wrong. For Barry, this was an issue of choosing his best self. Admittedly, Oliver was at the end of his ropes. But I think there was also a sense in Oliver of wanting to give Slade and Harkness one last chance to change.

Think about the man named Barnabas in the New Testament. He rooted and argued for Paul to be giving a second chance by the Church after he had persecuted many Christians. Even after that he still believed in second chances. When Paul did not want to trust one young man, Barnabas did. He loved giving second chances to people. Even if it didn't work. In Paul's case, where would we be without his letters or his work as a missionary?

Jesus himself told us to pray for those who persecute us and love our enemies. This is not just commanded by Him. By appearing to Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus was exhibiting this for us. He also exhibited this for us by responding gracefully to a thief while they were both being crucified.

We did see some good results in these episodes as well. After Savitar started his plan with the speed cannon, they had a fight and Killer Frost, aka Caitlin Snow, started helping the heroes. She left his side to join back with her friends. Slade also accepted the offer. He worked with Oliver to rescue the his son and friends from Adrian Chase. The man who had killed Oliver's Mom and had done massive damage to the city with the Mira Kuru drug (sp?) chose to help his enemy.  Now, I don't know what the story tellers have planned for him in the future but this is significant.

How can you give someone a second chance? 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Music vs. Curses

Greetings Scholars and Warriors!

Found at: http://www.eonline.com/news/847431/hook-s-song-from-the-once-upon-a-time-musical-episode-is-here-it-s-a-swashbuckling-delight
This season we have seen many shows adding music for special episodes. This happened for the Supergirl/Flash crossover in March and recently we saw this on Once Upon a Time. OUaT gave us the more interesting one, though. During the flashbacks for this episode, we saw Snow White, Charming, the Evil Queen, Hook, and a few others singing their hearts out.

Spoilers ahead.

They woke up finding themselves singing due to a spell after Snow White had wished for protection for her unborn baby. As they sang, they noticed that the music was affecting their world in unexpected ways. Specifically, it was affecting the Evil Queens hold on them and her power. As they sang, her attacks were far less effective.

Music is something the Bible encourages us toward. The first song in the Bible was a Psalm written by Moses wife after the parting of the Red Sea. It was a celebratory song. Decades later, David used music to calm down King Saul when he was tormented by a spirit. The story is found in 1 Samuel 16:14-23. In verse 14 the spirit is described with a word that has been translated as both "harmful" and "evil".
"Whenever the spirit from God would come on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him." 1 Sam. 16:23 
David went on to write many Psalms, or spiritual songs, we would use in worship. The New Testament would also use songs. Paul is believed to have quoted a song in Philippians 2:6-11. He often encouraged us to use spiritual songs as encouragement to each other.

The above story is significant and a little strange. Yet it shows God is masterful in both creation and grace. Saul had been leading Israel away from God and flat out disobeying Him. Early on in that story we find out that God's spirit had left him because of this. He sent the spirit to torment Saul as a form of judgement, yet had the grace to allow music to provide relief. What this does show us is that music is powerful in the spiritual realm.

We don't talk much about spiritual warfare but it is a real thing. I have heard stories from people on missions who have been in situations where music was used to help heal with a person who was demonically possessed. I have heard other stories as well about music bringing relief or even cults using music against Christians.

The role of music as worship is to be a tool or a voice for us to express ourselves to God. It is useful for helping knowledge go from our heads to our hearts and bringing relief to us. I have been in multiple situations where I went to church frustrated with life and having a hard time singing, but yet the music would help me refocus and it would bring relief in the middle of my frustration.

Next time you feel depressed, spiritually oppressed, or frustrated; maybe you should put on some music. There are plenty of worship CDs out there and you can find many worship songs on various music sites as well as You Tube. Sing along and let God use the music to give you peace.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Asgard and the Holy Spirit

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

I have been watching Stargate SG-1 with my Mom lately. We just started season 3. Now you might remember in Season 2 there was an episode where Col. O'Neill interacted with a "headsucker". From this interaction, a large cache of data was downloaded into his head. He started speaking in Ancient rather than English and it was to much for his head. He would do things he didn't understand and it was overwriting his brain to the point that the doctor feared for his life.

Eventually he used the information in there to create a device that enabled a one-time trip through the stargate to an Asgard planet in another galaxy. The Asgard realized his situation and downloaded the info from his head so it would not endanger his life. In his conversation with them, he learned they had studied Earth and humans. "What did you learn?" he asked. "You have great potential." Eventually, the Asgard, especially Thor, begin a relationship with Earth, and specifically the SGC, that assists and even trains SG-1 and others. We even see an Asgard named Hermiod working on the Tau'ri vessel known as the Daedalus in Stargate Atlantis.

Jesus knew we had great potential. He spent years teaching thousands and even mentoring 12 men. But He wasn't done there. He promised a helper. A comforter. Enter the Holy Spirit.
"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you." John 14:26
Now, the Holy Spirit had been working before this. He had been with various prophets and kings of Israel, such as David and Jeremiah. But this was different. Eventually he came on a day known as Pentecost. This was about 50 days after the Resurrection. If you read through Acts you will find many instances and anecdotes where the Holy Spirit gives guidance and brings hope and healing. But He also oversaw the writing of Scripture, including both Old and New Testaments.

But The Holy Spirit did not stop there. He is available for you and me. When we need wisdom and help dealing with sin. When we don't know what to choose. Listening to him is not something that comes easily for everyone. Just like any other relationship or skill it takes time and development. But Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Father are available. However: you have to respond.  Here are a few helpful hints:

Don't expect every leading to be comfortable. He will ask you for things outside of your comfort zone. Deal with it.

Recognize that Prayer is a time to listen as well as talk. Often He will prompt you with an idea during prayer. Prayer is more than reciting a list of wants and needs. It is a conversation between you and God.

Expect the Unexpected. I remember watching The Amazing Spiderman 2 in the theater. The end, where a kid steps up in a Spidey costume right before Spiderman arrives, was a teachable moment between me and the Holy Spirit. "See that, when you step out in my name, I'll move." He might speak in other ways as well. It might be through a song or when you are walking your dog.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Be a Hero or Take it Easy

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/teri-hatcher-and-kevin-sorbo-lend-90s-flair-superg-252427
Today my Mom and I caught up a little bit on Supergirl by watching last weeks episode (along with the musical crossover on Flash after that). Spoilers ahead!

In last week's episode, "Star Crossed" (yes we get the hint CW), Supergirl found out Mon-El was not just a resident or citezen of Daxam, but a prince of the planet. He had lied to her. In their discussion about this, she tells him:
"You just want things to be easy, Mon-El, but being a hero and falling in love, those are not easy things. They're hard, and they're messy, and they hurt sometimes."
She is so right. Jesus Himself warned people who wanted to follow Him that it was not easy. In Luke 9 a man comes and asks to follow Jesus, but Jesus has a warning: Foxes have dens, birds have nests, but the Son of Man (Jesus) has no place to lay his head. Jesus did not have a home. He never owned a house and He was often surrounded by crowds for a variety of reasons, which included such desires as being healed by Him and desires to trick or even kill Him.

Another time Jesus tells us that if we want to follow Him we must take up our crosses and follow Him. Now, a cross is not a fun device. It is a torturous device of death. He was telling us we would have to die to our own desires. This was repeated by Paul in Romans 12 when he tells us that we should be "living sacrifices" to God.

Later on that episode, Mon-El chose not to go with his parents. He told them to leave without him because Supergirl had changed him. He didn't like who he was before he had met her and he didn't want to take the easy way out. I had mixed feelings about this. I think it showed some growth on his part and maybe he still needs help growing, but I kind of wanted to see him go back to Daxam and change the culture there.

So the question for each of us is this...what do we need to give up for God? Is it a selfish desire? Is it a sin? Sometimes God even asks us to give up good things for Him. Not because they are bad but so that our priorities are focused on Him alone. He might give that back at a later point and He might not. As Job says, "He gives and takes away"(Job 1:21).

Following Jesus is not an easy task, but it is good. It is messy and sometimes it hurts, but it is good.

Hey, please go to this link here and donate to my campaign for going to the Christian Game Developers Conference. I'll be doing prayer appointments and using my teaching gift through the weekend.
 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

K'un-Lun or the World?

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on IMDB.
Have you watched Iron Fist? I have. I do not feel that it deserves all the hate against it.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Some of it I understand, but I think it was well done and I enjoyed the show very much. The show looks at many issues, including the 1 Percent controlling resources, drug addiction, and even PTSD.

In the middle of the season, Iron Fist (aka Danny) gets a visit from his friend, Davos, who came from Kun Lun to find him. His friend is angry that he left K'un-Lun unguarded but is also angry about something else: that Danny got up and left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. Davos urges Iron Fist to come back to K'un-Lun an protect it as is normally the role of the Iron Fist. But Danny won't budge. He knows he has a role in NYC that needs to be fulfilled. Davos felt that the world was not worth fighting for. It was lost and they should not even try to save it.

In this we find a significant issue arising: that of removing oneself form the world, or being in it yet different. This is a debate that has gone on in the Christian community for a long time. In fact, there was a Jewish sect called the Essenes in the days that Jesus was doing His ministry that pulled away to a walled community top a hill and stayed there. Over the years there have been many "Orders" and monks that have build monasteries in rural places to get away from society.

Both sides have times when they get mad at each other. One side might accuse the other of being to worldly and not committed to relationship with Christ enough. On the other hand, the opposite side might accuse the monks/recluses of hiding away and not helping the world with problems and issues.

In reality there are certain uses for both if they are held in the correct tension. Jesus Himself moved in between both quite regularly. He often withdrew to lonely places for time alone with the Father and even spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting right before starting ministry. Yet he also spent time with people that the religious leaders would never hang out with. Tax collectors, "sinners", etc.

Keeping that tension involves a few things:

1. Keeping focused on Jesus and not on sin.

2. Working to help people around us and be a good influence.

3. Connecting with people who think differently than we do.

4. Time in prayer and Bible study alone and in groups.

I admit I have not been perfect at any of these three things. In all of them I have had times when I did well and times when I did poorly. Yet striving for a good flow of all this is important.

Considering what we found out at the end of the season, I think we shall see Danny having a hard time figuring all this out in the future. I think even in The Defenders we will see him dealing with this issue more.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thank you Toledo!

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!



Toledo was a great success. I met a lot of great people at Fantasticon. My interactions included an adult who came with teens he had met at church. We talked about his concerns with violent movies. A man who grew up Catholic but no longer identifies as a Christian. We talked about a lot of religious topics. He left saying a traditional blessing to me. A group of high schoolers who run a D&D campaign with a mix of religions who have received a lot of flack from members of their church. They were excited to find a Christian nerd out there publicly. A woman who called herself a witch. We talked a little and she thumbed through the devotional and walked away. On one side I had an author who has written a few books a comic (Cutthroat Comics). On the other side a guy who makes custom funko pops for people (Somehow I don't have a name for him or a card).

Many people bought copies of 42:Discovering Faith through Fandom. Some flipped through it and moved on.

One of the more confusing things I had was this. I saw about 4 or 5 people who had Christian shirts or shirts related to Christian schools on. Most of them didn't even look at my table. 1 of them was one of the high schoolers mentioned above. He was quick to buy a copy of 42. Don't worry, I'm not freaking out about this, but it was annoying. Whenever you have a table at a con there are those who just look past your table like it isn't there, even if you say "hi" to them. It happens, but when they have a shirt for something you both agree with it is extra annoying. Sometimes they were so inattentive that I knew if I tried to say something about their shirt it they would not even hear me.

Overall, this was a great weekend. Here are a few pics.




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Statewide Teen Success

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

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

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

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

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




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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nightmare Redemption

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on the G.I. Joe Wiki.
Lately I have been watching G.I. Joe. A channel we have is airing episodes at 5:30 am. No, I am not getting up that early because we can record it.

Today I watched the episode "Nightmare Assault" (Season 4, Ep. 24). In this episode Cobra has developed a machine that will let them affect the dreams of G.I. Joe. In this episode we learn that Low Light regularly has nightmares. Many members of the team keep suffering from these experiences, including General Hawk, Lifeline, Iceberg, and others. they eventually have Low Light fight the battle for them. At one point Dr. Mindbender is even connecting to the machine to affect their dreams, but this is not enough.

Low Light managed this because he learned to deal with the situation. Having experienced many nightmares, mostly from his Father being very hard on him, he eventually learned how to control his reaction within the dream and even the dream itself. This allowed him to come in and face the Cobra created phenomenon head on. As they linked up with machines for one dream experience he alone saved the day.

Paul discusses difficulties in 2 Cor. 4.
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; stuck down, but not destroyed. We always carry with around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body....Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 
Low Light was in the rare position of being able to use what he had learned to bring comfort and even rescue to others. But he had to go through difficulty to get there. He had to be hard pressed and struck down and abandoned to bring that hope to others.

This even played out in Jesus life. Rejection was a significant part of the plan for salvation. Jesus was rejected by the Jewish leadership; by the humans he came to save. He could have called down countless angels to get Him out of the crucifixion, but that would not have brought salvation to us. More than that, He even felt rejection by God. He cried out "My God, my God, why have you foresaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). Then, the Father raised him from the dead to be the firstborn of the Kingdom of God (see Colossians 1:15-23).

If you are hard pressed or abandoned or perplexed, remember you are not alone. Look for Jesus and how He wants to intervene and walk with you in this. Look for others He has brought into your life to walk with you. Then, when you are through it, look to help others. Show them what Jesus has done for you or simply be present with them as they experience pain and sorrow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Best Laid Time Travel Plans

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found on the IMDB page.
Have you been watching Timeless? I have. At first I felt like it was a little bit predictable and sometimes it is, but the quality of acting and intriguing portrayals of historical figures with the mystery of Rittenhouse have kept me watching. Most sci-fi shows nowadays are very dark, apparently since BSG was rebooted the networks think everything has to be dark. It is refreshing to see a lighter science fiction show with nuance that recognizes dark situations.

So essentially in Timeless we have a team of 3 people trying to stop another team from changing time. One team takes the stolen "Mothership" back in time and the other team, at the actual HQ, sees where it has gone and takes the "Lifeboat" back to keep the timeline from being altered and/or stop the thieves.

Spoilers Ahead.

Last night's episode was a little different. Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) went back to change time instead of protect it. Wyatt's wife was killed before he had been pulled into the program and he wanted to make sure the man who did that never existed. When they got back, they found out it had not worked. The man did not exist, but his wife had still been killed.
"We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall."                    Prov. 16:33 NLT
The reality is we can not fix everything ourselves. We have tried for years to fix things. The problem is we are a sinful race.
"Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil." James 4:13-16, NIV
Wyatt thought he knew what would happen when he got back. He thought he would go back to his find his wife there to welcome him. It did not work. Maybe the man who said he had killed her lied, or maybe Rittenhouse had been behind the murder somehow even from the start. His idea, which had even lead to a man's death as well as erasing one man from history, simply did not work.

But if you notice we are not told to never have any plans or that our ideas or points are useless. "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." We are supposed to be part of the solution. In fact James goes on to say that failing to do something we know we should do is sin. The question is more of an issue of whether we are cooperating with God and trusting Him or if we are trying to fix it on our own.

We might yet see Lucy get her sister back and Wyatt get his wife back. Or they might find that tampering with time is never going to work. But what about your life? Have you been seeking God's direction? Are you cooperating with Him? Why would you want to do it on your own and without Him?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Events of Feb./March 2017

Greetings Scholars and Warriors.

Here is a list of events Nerd Chapel will be at over the next 2 months.

I'll have a table at all of these events.

February 4: Byron Center Rec Comic Con https://www.facebook.com/events/228038290910925/

March 3-5: Michigan Statewide Teen Convention http://mistatewide.org/
Of these events, this is the only one that will use my public speaking skills. I'll be sharing at one of the main sessions and possibly leading a workshop.

March 11-12: Fantasticon Toledo http://www.fantasticon.net/

March 18: Muskecon https://www.facebook.com/events/1102894249776217/


Monday, January 9, 2017

Foggy and Fakery

Greetings Warriors and Scholars!

Found through google/tumbler:
https://www.tumblr.com/search/foggy%20please
On my long quest of collecting and reading old issues of Marvel Comics. I have been reading issue 2 of Daredevil Marvel Masterworks which includes Daredevil 18 and 19. Foggy Nelson trying once again to impress Karen. His idea? Pretend to be Daredevil. Ok, so it was actually the idea of the guy at the costume shop who wanted to fight and kill superheroes to prove that he was the best costume maker (call him "Gladiator"). Foggy was just gonna have the costume around for her to find. DD had been noticing what was going on, of course. He was following Foggy when it all went down and managed to fight the villain and protect Karen. Of course, then the news somehow got wind that Foggy was DD and it got a whole lot more dangerous.

We all know that lying is a sin. It is condemned in the Ten Commandments as well as in Proverbs. But this was a particular kind of lying. This was putting on a show to impress people. He was being fake. By doing this he put both himself and others in danger. For most of us our fakeness will not get us in deadly situations. We won't be hunted down by someone who thinks we are another person to try and kill us. But, it still affects our friendships. It keeps us from getting to know others and them from getting to know us. The false pretenses it leads to will ultimately damage your relationships.

Why do we ever be "fake"? Quite simply, we like the attention. A pat on the back, laughter at jokes, smiles, hugs and of course invitations to events or dates. These all come with high emotions. But do these fulfill us? In most cases these are good things. They can all be forms of encouragement but they will not be the real fulfillment of any soul. That comes from Jesus, who was not afraid to say things that others did not want to hear, who has never pretended he was someone he isn't.

You are enough yourself. The only good kind of change is one that draws you closer to Jesus and is done for character growth and obedience to His calling. You do not have to pretend to be someone you are not. Look, we all have sinned. We have all had moments where we chose something wrong whether it was some form of sexual sin or lying or hatred. Also, we have all had silly moments where we did something socially awkward. You are not alone in that.

If you want to change, make it a healthy change. You do not have to agree with sin or do make up a story for attention. Especially the attention that is not in line with what God has for you. If you don't know what God has for you, start with scripture. Ask a friend for help. Just don't put on a show to get attention for the wrong act or to try and feel better. Foggy came clean at one point and you know what? Neither Matt Murdock nor Karen were all that mad at him. They just wanted to have the real Foggy safe.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Begins

Greetings Warriors and Scholars.

Today I want to look at the coming year. I am excited for a few things happening. Some are ministry details and some are just fun nerdy things. We'll look at fun stuff first.

As we continue what seems to be the "Decade of the Nerd" we have so many things happening on screen this year! I am not doing a "top 3" or anything like that because there is so much happening. The last season of Grimm starts this coming Friday along with a new, darker screen adaptation of The Wizard of Oz called Emerald City. I am very interested in how NBC's Friday night lineup these next couple of months will do. That will add to the shows I already keep tabs on (no, I am not going to list all of them). We also have Iron Fist and the Defenders coming for the Netflix MCU and 3 MCU movies this year! Also, we have Skull Island, both Wonder Woman and Justice League, Star Wars Episode 8, etc.

Boardgames? Well, I am not sure what games are coming out this year beyond the 2 I have coming from kickstarters. Unreal Estate is a card game about building a fantasy style city and Zephyr:Winds of Change is a cooperative game where you have a skyship that you take on missions. Honestly, I have not caught up with 2016 yet as I still have yet to play Scythe, Terraforming Mars, or Seafall. Gaming wise I am just excited to get back to Gen Con this year. I had to miss last year so I really don't want to miss this year!

In March I will be at a Christian youth convention called "Michigan Statewide Teen Convention" in Kalamazoo, MI. This will be my first time taking Nerd Chapel and 42:Discovering Faith through Fandom to a youth convention. It came about because I have been volunteering at this convention as a lighting tech for the main sessions for a few years now and they were interested in bringing a locally based non-traditional ministry to show students that ministry doesn't always mean working at a church full time.

I will also be at the Byron Rec Center Comic Con and Muskecon. These are both 1 day shows within driving distance of where I live that I'll have tables at. I do not have complete details on what shows I'll be returning to this year for Nerd Chapel. GrandCon is always a sound bet for me for a service. I expect to go back to Jafax, Midwest Media Expo with services and Fantasticon Fort Wayne with a table as well but we shall see what transpires.

Yes, I am going to be working on a sequal to 42. We have a direction to go in but we have not started the full writing process quite yet (although that will be soon).