Heard a crazy statistic on The Art of Manliness Podcast: Men, on average, spend a 1,000 hours a year with a screen of some sort. Which begs the question, What could you and I be doing during that time instead?
I resigned from a position I enjoyed last week. A combination of social media overload and a recent controversy in the gaming culture deflated my sails. I’m truthfully not sure what to think about something I have considered a hobby since 1989. I dislike:
- The sudden hostile atmosphere online created by the GamerGate scandal. This goes for both Christians and non-Christians alike, who have succumbed to fear and ultimately emotion. GamerGate was an opportunity for rational/academic discourse on how people should be treated online and video game journalism ethics in general. Instead, wagons have been circled and all discourse has been shutdown.
The game has changed. I’m not sure what this means for me. I feel God is telling me to focus on what is important. Right now, I’m not sure gaming is.
The idols speak deceitfully,
diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
oppressed for lack of a shepherd. – Zechariah 10:2 (NIV)
21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing. – 1 Kings 18:21 (NIV)
The showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal ended with God answering with fire from the heavens. The people believed that the Lord is God on that day and the prophets of Baal were slaughtered. The Kishon Valley ran with the blood of four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. God had answered Elijah’s prayer in verses 36 and 37:
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
God answered another prayer that day, as a heavy rain began to fall, ending what had been a severe drought.
What did Elijah do after standing up for the Lord? He ran (vv. 45-46) and soon begged to die (19:4).
4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
He will meet you where you are.
I am not sure where you are in your journey in life. I am not sure whether you are on a mountain, like Elijah, experiencing a closeness to God. You know that He is 100% there. I am not sure whether you are down in a valley, like Elijah, feeling a part from God and perhaps wanting to just give up. Check out how Elijah’s account continues:
5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
Note that God takes care of Elijah by meeting his needs, where he is. I take comfort in the fact that God will also take care of me when I am walking through a valley. When I am ready to give up and call it quits He will give me the strength to continue onward…if I ask.
Supercell’s Boom Beach is the tropical cousin of their 2012 hit, Clash of Clans. Beyond the change of scenery, Boom Beach and Clash of Clans are pretty much the same game. Both feature:
- Strategic base building.
- Freemium-based gameplay hooks designed to encourage the purchase of in-game currency.
- The destruction and death of cartoon property and beings. (There should be an organization formed against such things.)
Life in the Feedback Loop
I am not sure why I flirt with games like Boom Beach. Perhaps it is the initial rush from the positive feedback loop they provide?
A positive feedback loop can be thought of as a reinforcing relationship. Something happens that causes the same thing to happen again, which causes it to happen yet again, getting stronger in each iteration – like a snowball that starts out small at the top of the hill and gets larger and faster as it rolls and collects more snow. 
The problem with the feedback loop is that after the tutorial levels, the game levels off. That wonderful pat on the back, which happened often in the beginning of the game, starts to take longer. I find myself losing interest as I have to wait for units/buildings to complete their building cycles. As a long time gamer, the in-game timer and time associated with how long a unit/building takes to complete comes across as arbitrary. Yes, I know that games such as Boom Beach are made to be played on a mobile platform. Mobile platforms are perfect for quick gameplay experiences as you are standing in line at the bank–do people do this?–, or so I’ve been told.
If I was one of the gifted, one of those who owned a smart phone, I would be shelling minutes of my life away to a game like this. The problem with Boom Beach and Clash of Clans is that they eat away time much like channel surfing. Instead of dedicating a set amount of time to a game, like one would to watching a specific TV show, players spend a few minutes here and a few minutes there battling and upgrading their minions. This nickel and dime style of gameplay causes players to spend untold hours on a game. I don’t think this is respectful to the player. Add in optional push notifications and the game becomes like a second child.
I am still not sure why I flirt with games such as Boom Beach. Such games have no place in my life with their disrespectful underpinnings. Even though they are fun, for a season.
“Our confidence is not in ourselves but in Jesus and His promise to return at just the right time.” – Hebrews 10:37
Yesterday, I was given a list of specific pages that needed to be scanned. Today, I was asked why I had not scanned the entire document. The rules of the game are constantly in flux, in my workplace. What was once true one day becomes no longer true the next. I crave solid rules; solid ground.
Living day-by-day in this situation is enough to shake a man’s confidence. But if my confidence is founded in Christ, can it be shaken? No. Too often I find that my confidence is based upon myself.
Just a reminder to myself, and perhaps you, that our foundation needs to be constantly redirected towards Jesus Christ.
His timing is perfect and His expectations do not shift like the sands of the Mohave.
Saturday night, the family and I buckled in and headed out to the Great Texas Balloon Race for the balloon glow. There is nothing like standing among 30-40 hot air balloons and feeling the heat come off their burners as they all fire in unison. The weather was cooler this year than in years past where we’ve experienced 90 degree heat. Couple the outdoor temperature with the heat from the balloon burners and suddenly you feel like you are in an inferno of sorts. Until next year.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43: 18-19 (NIV)
Came across the above verse this morning that I wanted to share. I love how God is telling Israel not to dwell upon what has already happened. Verse 19 begins with the gentle reminder that God is always working, even when we can’t see Him, God is going before us. Reminds me of Jesus’s words in John 14:3 -
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
There is comfort in knowing that God is constantly at work and going before us–reminds me even further of Haggai–. Whether you are dealing with an unstable job situation–like me–or just life in general, take comfort in knowing that God goes before us just like He did for Israel and Joshua when they set forth into the Promised Land.
I know that it is really easy to read what I have written and just dismiss it. But this is truth. Throughout the Bible, God constantly reminds us that He is there, working. Do you believe that? Better yet, are you listening/watching for His response?
What is God teaching you?
Came across an article today that talked about a Hearthstone tournament that is excluding female players. Apparently, eSports have a need to be segregated by gender just as other sports are. Huh? What grade is this? I thought gaming was the great equalizer. The article reminded me of an incident that happened to me when I was younger, enjoy.
Once upon a time, I had a clubhouse in my parent’s backyard. The clubhouse sat up off the ground on stilts. There was a sandbox underneath it where a very cool Transformer met his fate. Sand and Transformers do not mix.
I remember a time where the next door neighbor boy, Joe, came over to play. He brought a girl along with him. A girl. As we walked back to the clubhouse, I remember climbing up the ladder and proudly proclaiming, “no girls allowed.” This bomb against the cootie-infested girl did not strike as I planned. After a small debate, Joe turned around and walked away with the girl. He stood up to me and my childish play and chose not to hurt Andrea.
Looking back, I learned quite a bit from my backyard showdown with Joe and Andrea:
- People won’t play with you if you are mean
- Girls have feelings too.
- Forgiveness takes time, especially when you single someone out…and then they refuse to play with you for weeks.
Andrea and I later became best friends. Joe moved away. The clubhouse was eventually cut down.
“What I value most in my friends is loyalty.” – David Mamet
Back in the early MMO days, I was active in a game called Asheron’s Call (AC). What made Asheron’s Call different was a simple ingredient that seasoned in-game relationships:
The Allegiance System – introduces the unique concept of vassals and patrons. In this system, a vassal swears allegiance to a patron. The patron then acts as a protector, item giver, and basically a guild leader. The reward for being a patron equals a daily award of experience points based upon a small percentage of experience that the vassal makes while playing. The allegiance system ultimately encourages the formation of miniature kingdoms, much like guilds found in today’s more modern MMO. – Asheron’s Call Celebrates 10 Years (via JBG)
Time, trust, and loyalty were the bonds that held the allegiance system together. A symbiotic scratching of backs, defense, and survival.
As I drove into work this morning, my mind was racing faster than my Honda Accord. I kept asking myself:
- Am I going to be let go this morning? -
- They wouldn’t fire me, would they? -
- If they don’t fire me today, will it happen in two weeks? -
Working for a firm that is on the verge of collapse is stressful. Seeing no hope on the horizon, in the form of incoming work, is enough to make anyone concerned.
In my situation, my patron is still putting in the time to try and salvage the operation. However, trust and loyalty were dissolved the moment a co-worker was let go. Who will be next? I’m not sure. No one wins this game of office Survivor.
Despite my earthly patron’s status, I know that my God is in control. As I was reminded yesterday in church, everything boils down to reminding myself of God’s promises AND believing that they are true. In fact, I’m even thinking of writing them down and randomly sticking them around the house. God promises me that I will overcome, if not in this life then the next.
Until next time: Who are you trusting to be your patron?
Finally back home after a much needed vacation. Loved having time to spend with family, enjoy the So-Cal weather, and even bump into a friend from high school in the airport bathroom–go figure–. Also played a bunch of Hearthstone while I was away (not sure what to think of it). Anywho, I’m back and ready to get blogging. Pictures incoming.
Just as a farmer spends time and energy cultivating his fields a man needs to spend time cultivating his attitude. Pruning out the bad attitudes while meanwhile nourishing the good attitudes. John C. Maxwell’s How High Will You Climb?, talks about steering the internal mental plane of attitude. No matter the turbulence we encounter, with God as our co-pilot, John reminds us, we are not alone on this adventure.
How High Will You Climb? features short, easy to digest chapters as well as Biblical and personal application. John does not shy away from sharing solid Biblical truth. But no matter how many times I tried to sit down and read this book, I couldn’t manage to break into it. The hook isn’t there. That is not to say that I didn’t glean some nuggets in my readings:
“Remember, the difficulty really becomes a problem when we internalize unfortunate circumstances. Another thing to remember when the weather gets rough is that what really matters is what happens in us, not to us! When the external circumstances lead to wrong internal reactions, we really have problems.” p60
In the end, I did not find How High Will You Climb? to be captivating. This is not a book I would recommend to friends or family who follow JBG.
I was given a copy of this book by BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
Went over to my friend Jon’s house to celebrate his birthday last night. Had a great time catching up and eating some savory tacos followed by a slice of delicious cookie cake. As the evening passed by, Jon suggested playing some Mario Kart Wii.
Man, I had forgotten how amazing it is to play a video game with three other people. Reminded me of all the good times I had playing Mario Kart 64 in high school/college. Even though I got my butt kicked, I had a lot of fun having a chance to play with others.
When was the last time you played a multiplayer game? What game was it?
Had an interesting situation happen to me today as I was walking from my house to the car. A woman approached me, in tears, and told me about the $10 worth of medicine she needed to buy her son and how she wouldn’t get paid until Friday. She even offered to pay me back. Truly one of those moments where I was torn over what to do. I immediately wanted to know:
- Was the woman lying?
- Did her story add up?
- Were her tears real?
- Where did she come from?
- Was she canvasing the neighborhood looking for handouts/drug money?
- Ultimately, what did God want me to do in that moment? I know we are supposed to be His hands and feet.
So hard to respond to others when so much unbelief and pessimism clouds how we see people and the world. Christ calls us to push past this though and simply trust in Him. As a Christian, the money is ultimately His anyways.
Regardless of how I responded, what would you have done? Check out the poll below and vote. Add an answer if you need, leave a comment if you want to talk, and then check out the verses from Matthew below.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)
I could tell I was half awake this morning when I read James 2:1 like this:
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must show favoritism.”
Instead of how it was written (emphasis mine):
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must NOT show favoritism.”
This could be a long day. . .
I did not want to get up this morning. I did not want to go to work today. All I could think about was coming into an office that is experiencing the throes of change. I want answers to:
- “Who is going to be fired in two weeks, if at all?”
- “What does my job/position look like in the midst of these changes?”
- “What does the future hold?”
As I got ready this morning, I decided to read from the Book of James. A few weeks ago my pastor quoted a verse to me from it; yesterday our guest speaker mentioned it.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
I cringe every time I hear this verse from James 1. Equating suffering with being joyful sounds odd to my ears. Who wants to be joyful while living in/through hard times? I remind myself that God is always calling us to embrace Him and let Him do the heavy lifting. Reading on, a word (bolded) stuck out to me in verse 3:
“because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Perseverance is a word I am quite familiar with. Growing up, I even used to listen/sing a song about it by GT and the Halo Express. When I think of of the word perseverance, I think of a quote made famous by Meet the Robinsons.
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
Despite my company being the verge of possibly shutting down… despite people’s attitudes/moods in the work environment as things get tough… despite not knowing where I am going to land in the future, I know that I need to have faith and persevere. James 1:4 goes on to say:
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Living in the valley, walking forward in shadow, I know that this is where Christ works. I know that I want to be where Christ works.
Going through personal difficulties? Encountering obstacles? I want to encourage you to keep moving forward. However, I want to further encourage you to not do so on your own. God wants to shoulder your burdens. He will give you what you need to persevere. Will you let Him?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5
Yesterday (5/15), one of my co-workers was let go. When I asked if more people would be let go I was told that there would be an “evaluation period” for the next two weeks. Basically, if the firm I work for does not pick up any additional work in the next two weeks, more employees will walk out the door for the last time.
I have never worked on a sinking ship. I have never had to worry about my job not being there tomorrow. Circumstances have changed.
Mentally, I have already abandoned the Titanic via the nearest lifeboat. I am actively searching out different positions at other companies. Not sure where I am going to land though.
Already I have seen God working in my situation. I know the following verses to be true:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6: 25-34 (NIV)
However, I am learning that it is one thing to believe something to be true (in my mind) and something completely different to truly believe it (in my heart).
Monday I was called into an all office meeting. My co-workers and I were told that the firm we work for cannot sustain our current staff numbers due to a major project falling through. All of the firm’s eggs, so to speak, had been put into one project basket that had sealed our fate. We were then told that we would either be spoken with privately or as a group, sometime during the week. Untold numbers could be leaving soon.
Today is Thursday. The office is tense. No one knows if they are going to be the single person or one of the multiple people let go. At this point, no one has been talked to yet.
Knowing that the ax could fall at any moment leads to a stressful office environment. Even though I have complete peace as far as leaving this job, I just want to know if I am going to be leaving. Hoping to hear something soon. This week has been such a roller coaster.
“Like a ship at sea, you will be tested, and the storms will reveal the weak places in you as a man. They already have. How else do you account for the anger you feel, the fear, the vulnerability to certain temptations? Why can’t you marry the girl? Having married, why can’t you handle her emotions? Why haven’t you found your life’s mission? Why do financial crises send you into a rage or depression? You know what I speak of. And so our basic approach to life comes down to this: we stay in what we can handle, and steer clear of everything else. We engage where we feel we can or we must–as at work–and we hold back where we feel sure to fail, as in the deep waters of relating to our wife or our children, and in our spirituality.” – Fathered By God, John Eldredge, pp 6 and 7