Prepare to be Stretched

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A long time ago, I almost went to Azusa Pacific University. Finances fell through, reality set in, and I ended with a time where I felt lost. I had just walked away from my first job that I worked at for five years. Life felt unstable. I remember a marketing photo from Azusa that featured a ball of rubberbands. The tagline below the ball was, “Prepare to be stretched.”

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Growth is oftentimes not comfortable. Growth can be painful.

Some eleven years later, I feel lost once again. Caught in some sort of cyclical orbit that I cannot break free from. Since college graduation, Fall 2006, I have been trying to get my bearings. Part of that could be cultural, I live in Texas now versus my native California. Things are different here. The other part of that was thinking that God had called me to be a pastor. I had thought that I would go to seminary after college. First seminary I applied at told me I had too much student debt. The second seminary, which accepted me debt and all, was not to be. As I got ready to select my first classes, we ended up pregnant with my son. Any money for schooling vanished.

Where does one go with the path changes? How does one adapt?

I work as an Office Manager by day. Not the first job I would choose for myself, but I do enjoy the work when we are busy. In my eighth year now, I have no room for growth. I feel trapped.

I find myself wondering what that next step is. Where is God calling me to be? I find myself questioning my faith. I know all the right Christian answers, there is just a head-to-heart disconnect.

God constantly reminds me that He is working though. As waves threaten to sink me, He taps me on the shoulder and says, “hey man, I’ve got this.” I just need to believe it.

Now Recruiting – Join the Theology Gaming Network (TGN)

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As many of you may know, I moonlight as the Community Manager for Theology Gaming University. Recently, we created a way to promote and showcase our member’s work via the Theology Gaming Network (TGN). I encourage you to read on and consider joining us.

Theology Gaming

1. What is Theology Gaming (TG)?

TG is a community dedicated to the intersection of games and life with Christ.

2. What is the Theology Gaming Network (TGN)?

TGN exists to unify the voices of folks thinking about how following Jesus relates to games. This translates to Theology Gaming cross-posting community member’s content and aggregating it all under one Theology Gaming banner.

3. What kind of posts does TGN allow?

Anything that relates to Jesus and games. Longform essays, Youtube videos, podcasts, galore! As long as it’s relevant to games and relationship with God, it’s golden.

4. What are the benefits of joining TGN?

– Increased visibility for your written work/blog

– Access to a built-in audience of 10,000 unique views a month

– A TGN logo on your site, (it’s nifty!)

tgn5. Membership Requirement

Contribute one piece of content a month (that’s it!)

There’s not much to it. We’ve taken the time to create the content platform; now we want to see it grow and prosper with your help. In sum, you should have fun making this stuff; it’s not a job, nor should you treat it as such. We want to promote your work, and help you out!

Submit all inquiries to viewtifulzfo at gmail.com, or contact Zachery Oliver on fB!

This article was originally posted on TheologyGaming.com on June 15, 2015

Thomas Wasn’t Alone

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We are not meant to go at this life alone.

thomas-was-aloneThomas Was Alone drives home the point that we are meant to live in community with others. As the levels in Thomas progress, the game reinforces that red rectangle Thomas needs others to move from one point to another. Thomas cannot move through the game world alone.

My son graduated from kindergarten today (5/29). I’m not sure how I feel about that. Sitting there in the auditorium, I was reminded of what big personals events were like growing up. I remember having the biggest cheering section out of anyone. My parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were always there to cheer me on. I wasn’t alone.

thomas-was-alone1Thomas Was Alone combines minimalist design and expert narration to introduce characters one cares for. Take Claire for instance. Claire is a large blue square. Even though she cannot jump high, Claire dreams of becoming a superhero. Thomas and his friends need Claire. She is the only one that can float across the toxic waters that would kill anyone else in an instant.

The Bible talks about the human body having many parts, each with it’s own task, function, and purpose. The Bible likens the human body to the body of Christ. In that we are meant to live in community.

I teach a group of men on Wednesday nights. We’ve been going through some difficult material. Peeling back masks and becoming real with one another, I have learned that we all have a need for friendship. Most of us feel as if we do not have anyone to walk in life with. We feel alone. Sometimes lost. Isolated within our families, running the race of life. The guys and I discussed how we can move beyond our personal islands:

  • Reaching out, in person, on the phone, even a simple text
  • Having a bigger focus than just ourselves
  • Being legacy minded

God lives in community with the Holy Spirit and Christ. If He is our example. . .  it may be time to pick up a phone, knock on a door, connect.

I write all this for myself. I am sure no one else can relate.

Control Is Hard To Give Up

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God is in control so we don’t have to be.

titanicI’m not too sure what is going on anymore. The company I work for has built it’s business on school bond elections. We design schools, gymnasiums, and administration buildings with bond issue funds. A workable and sustainable business model with one major hiccup, voters. Back in the beginning of May, voters shot down two of the three bond issues we were counting on for work. Thankfully, we have learned a bit from a similar failure last year. We have since diversified our client base and moved into areas not targeted by large Dallas architectural firms. What is odd is that one week we were talking about hiring, growth, and technology upgrades. In the weeks following the bond election, optimism has disappeared and silence rules. Just like last year. I have no idea whether my company will lay off anyone within the next few months. I do not think we have diversified enough/obtained enough clients to sustain our company long term. While business may seem normal for now, I keep waiting for the hammer to drop like it did last year when I lost a fellow co-worker due to layoff. Frustrating to be back in a situation where I have no control.

Health-wise, I’ve been seeing a couple doctors and having some tests run. Will be getting the test results next week. I am nervous. My body is tense and I feel sick. I have zero control over the situation.

nineveh02This past Sunday (5/17), my small group leader asked me to teach during our morning hour together. Knowing that the kids were having a lesson from the Book of Nahum, I decided to dive-in and see what the book is all about. Turns out Nahum is a sequel to the Book of Jonah. Nahum takes place a 100 years after Jonah visited the City of Nineveh. By this time, Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, had returned to idol worship. The Minor Prophet Nahum steps in and speaks aloud (an oracle) that the destruction of Nineveh is coming.

The people of Nineveh must have laughed at Nahum. Their city walls were a 100 feet high with a 150 foot moat extending out from the walls. The moat, for anyone who is wondering, was 60 feet deep. Who knows what lived in there. Situated on the Tigris River, Nineveh had a series of dams throughout the city. Now what is interesting is that Nahum prophesied that the city would be destroyed by water (2:6). The dams that held back water-giving life would end up unleashing water that would undermine a part of the city walls. Like a sandcastle, the walls would fall, allowing the Babylonians access into the city.

640px-Nineveh_map_city_walls_&_gatesOne of the key verses that stuck out to me was 1:3 –

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet.

God gave the people of Nineveh a chance. He sent Jonah, a reluctant prophet, to tell them to turn from their evil ways. And they did! A hundred years later though, the people had forgotten all about Jonah. What stuck out to me in 1:3 is that God is slow to anger. He could have destroyed Nineveh a hundred years ago, but He didn’t. Another verse I noted was 1:7 –

The Lord is good,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,

The head and heart disconnect, I call it. I know that God is good, no matter what the situation. I know that He is a refuge, ready to catch us/hold on to us when all seems to be falling apart. I know that. But sometimes my heart forgets. I want to be in control.

I am not sure where my job is going to be in six months. I have no idea what is going to happen next week at the doctors office. What I do know is that God is good. He will take care of me. I just need to tell my head and my heart that.