Fasting by Jentezen Franklin

Neon lights mix with the sound and smell of sizzling fajitas, nothing like a Mexican food restaurant in East Texas.

My pastor and I had a lunch meeting a few weeks ago. During the meeting, he encouraged me to start fasting as well as read Fasting by Jentezen Franklin. I have since done both.

fastingjentezen

In the book, Jentezen discusses a Biblical command that is often ignored, fasting. Matthew 6:1-18 serves as the Biblical aircraft carrier from which he launches his book. The following are some quotes and notes I jotted down while reading.

“Jesus said, “when you give…” and “When you pray…” and “When you fast.” He made it clear, that fasting, like giving and praying, was a normal part of Christian life. As much attention should be given to fasting as is given to giving and to praying.” (p11)

According to the book, there are three types of fasting:

  • Absolute fast
  • Normal fast
  • Partial fast (giving up particular foods or drinks for an extended period of time).

“Whenever you begin a fast, remember, if it doesn’t mean anything to you, it won’t mean anything to God.” (p35)

“…fasting is a constant means of renewing yourself spiritually.” (p71)

This one was interesting:

“When you fast, you abstain from food for spiritual purposes. I have heard people say that they were planning to fast TV or computer games or surfing the Internet. It is good to put those things down for a time of consecration if they are interfering with your prayer life or with your study of God’s Word or you ministering to the needs of others, but technically, that is not fasting. Fasting is doing without food for a period of time, which generally causes you to leave the commotion of normal activity. Part of the sacrifice of fasting, seeking God, and studying His Word is that normal activity fades into the background.” (p111)

What do you think? Any thoughts on fasting?

Book Review: The Jesus Bible, NIV

The Jesus Bible, NIV is a children’s Bible that focuses on how Jesus is interwoven throughout scripture. Helpful features include:

  • A timeline of Jesus’ life
  • A simplified Family Tree of Jesus
  • Devotions for every day of the year
  • Biblical book introductions that answer the question of, “Where is Jesus in this book?”

The Good:
The Jesus Bible, NIV is presented in an easy to use format. As my son grows older, I can see myself working through this Bible with him. Parents should keep in mind that The Jesus Bible, NIV is geared towards kids ages 9-12.

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I also like how the daily devotionals are short and simple to read. They include an opening theme verse, thought for the day, and a closing prayer. The devotionals serve as a great introductory tool to get children into a daily habit of reading scripture.

The Bad:
I have two complaints against The Jesus Bible, NIV: 1) The hardbound version that I was given to review is heavy. I realize that this does increase the life span of the Bible due to durability. But yet I wonder if a child would indeed carry a Bible that is so heavy. 2) I dislike the pink font that is used throughout the Bible. I think a more gender neutral color could have been chosen.

In Closing:
If you are looking for a children’s Bible that points towards Christ, look no further than The Jesus Bible, NIV.

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.

The Call of the Wild Monkey

Early in my career, I was sagely advised to immediately process any item that came across my desk. Call it a game of office hot potato. A quick turnaround time ensures that the proverbial monkey stays off ones back.

What is the Monkey?
When the ball is in your court, the monkey is on your back. The monkey is anything that clings to you and refuses to let go until completed.

How does one battle a Monkey?
Guns, lots of guns. Maybe even a bigger boat, versus a smaller one, if one wishes. The key is to face the task, do what you can do deal with it, and then send the task back into the darkest of jungles.

The Call of the Wild Monkey
Often the monkey is 100% your responsibility; other times the furry creature has been bestowed upon you by someone wishing to share their work/responsibility with you. Their stress, their monkey, quickly becomes your own bundle of screeching joy.

There is a word that can destroy the wild monkey. That word is no. Can you say it with me?

NO.

A Quote from The Next Story

“If technology is so easily twisted and abused, our gut response may be to avoid it. We can try to carefully avoid using any form of digital technology, fleeing the temptation and the opportunities for evil they encourage. And yet for most of us, avoidance is not an option, nor is it necessarily the most biblical, God-honoring response, as we will see. Our task, then, is not to avoid technology but to carefully evaluate it, redeem it, and ensure we are using it with the right motives and for the right goals.” – Tim Challies, The Next Story

A Response to Donald Miller: Who is Teaching You?

Dear Don,
Back in college, God used your book Blue Like Jazz to help me battle through the rampant hypocrisy and legalism I was experiencing on a daily basis. Other Christians were causing me to want to walk away from Christianity and Christ himself due to their actions. Your book showed me that a Christian can indeed smoke a pipe and drink without fear of condemnation. You showed me that a Christian can be human. I thank you for that.

Father Fiction

I don’t know if you know yet but good books for a young dad are hard to find. Your book Father Fiction could be the best book about being a dad I have ever read. By the time I finished reading it, my perspective on fatherhood was forever changed. I now look at my son as God looks at him. Thank you once more.

As you can see, you have been a big influence in my life. Which is why your blog post entitled “I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.” surprised me. You see, I don’t have a problem with your learning style nor the fact that you do not connect with God by singing. I can understand that.

“It’s just that I don’t experience that intimacy in a traditional worship service. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of sermons I actually remember. So to be brutally honest, I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon and I don’t connect with him by singing songs to him.”

“Interestingly, I learn a great deal by teaching, which is interesting to me.”

What troubles me is that you say that you learn through teaching. Don, if you only learn by teaching others, who is teaching you? Who are you allowing to influence you spiritually on a weekly basis?

I am not naive enough to say that I know you, even though you have been there for me when I have most needed someone to be authentic. But I am concerned, Don. No man is an island. I think it is great that you have a company and people who surround you. But again, if you are only teaching others, who is teaching you?

You have made yourself an island with full anti-aircraft weapons at ready.

Your concerned friend and brother in Christ,
Bryan

Edit: Jonathan Leeman wrote a very heartfelt response to you, Don. I especially liked the part where he talks about Tom and the body of Christ.

Acts 5:38-39, NIV

38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” – Acts 5:38-39, NIV

The Gamer Devotional: In the Image of God

The-Gamer-Devotional

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27

The anticipation of actually playing/ entering the game world for the first time is killing you. All that stands in your way is the character creation screen. Do you settle for the default avatar or do you choose to add a bit of personal flourish?

mass-effect-3-character-creationPatience wins out this round. Good for you. Soon you find yourself adjusting:

  • Eye Color
  • Hair Style
  • Armpit Hair Length, etc.

Depending on your preferences, this process could go on for quite sometime. Finally satisfied though, you confirm your creation and embark upon the latest adventure.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Do you see someone made in the very image of God?

Death in Motorville – Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

(Bryan Note: This essay was originally published over at TheologyGaming.)

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure” ~ J.K. Rowling

Every story has to have an inciting incident. A moment that propels the protagonist to respond with action. No matter the greatness of the action however, forward motion is key.

motorville 1024x576 Death in Motorville   Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

In the lands of the digital

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch opens in an idyllic American town. Seemingly breathed to life out of a Norman Rockwell painting, Motorville is sweet Americana. The game opens with Oliver, Ni no Kuni’s protagonist, dwelling in this perfection with his mother, Allie. As in many stories branded with Walt Disney’s name, Oliver’s father is no where to be found.

Living in a town called Motorville, one would think there would be into a thriving automotive culture. Something akin to the car culture of Southern California. Well, one would be right in their thinking. Oliver’s friend, Phil, is a tinker who has built his own race car. After showing the car to Oliver, Phil asks him to sneak out, later that night, and come for a test drive. So, Oliver waits until his Mom is asleep and then quietly tip toes out of the house. A decision has been made, the adventure has begun.

Outside of town, Oliver gets behind the wheel of Phil’s race car. Goggles in place, Oliver races the car down a road that runs alongside a river. Meanwhile, in another realm, the White Witch zaps Oliver’s car which causes one of the wheels to come off. He quickly loses control and swerves into the river. Drowning, Oliver gasps for air. The situation looks dire until his Mom shows up and saves him. Carrying him out of the river, she places him on the road above. Due to a weak heart, she then collapses and dies. Oliver is now alone.

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Grandpa Ayers, my brother and I at Mount Palomar, CA.

In the lands of the real

My own father–or Dad, as I like to call him–drives a big rig for a living. This means that he is home maybe 2-3 days a week, depending on the week. With my Dad rolling down the highways, I was left with a lack of a strong male role model growing up. Thankfully, God filled that void in the form of my Grandpa Ayers. However, like Oliver’s Mom, my Grandpa was taken from me suddenly. I wasn’t alone, but I felt that way.

My Grandpa’s death led me to a series of events that catapulted me into the lands of East Texas; his death was my inciting incident.

Back to the digital

mr drippy 300x169 Death in Motorville   Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Mr. Drippy comes to life!

A funeral comes and goes, the game shows Oliver in his room crying. His family is no longer a party of two. Crying begets tears, one of the tears falls upon a stuffed animal Oliver’s Mom made for him. Mr. Drippy is this odd creatures name. Suddenly, he comes to life! Mr. Drippy, Lord High Lord of the Faeries, invites Oliver on a quest to save his Mom. A decision must be made…and Oliver decides he has nothing to lose. Following Mr. Drippy into the Ni no Kuni world, Oliver has a mom to save…or does he?

 Death in Motorville   Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Everyone has to travel in style, right?

In reality that comes from above

God is calling, there’s no bigger love

- Newsboys, Reality

As a Christian, I am a citizen of Heaven.

  • I know that Jesus defeated death by dying on the cross.
  • I know that my Grandpa Ayers is in Heaven and that one day I will see him again.
  • I know that I do not have to embark on some epic quest with the Lord High Lord of the Faeries.

The Lord calls me to go, tell others about him, and help train up Christian brothers along the way. Death has no power over me; death is simply an Earthly signal that I have gone on to work and serve my God. I can’t wait.

Dr. Seuss Quote

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
– Dr. Seuss

Surf Report – 1/8/2014

Surf Report

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God:

“We plunged into John 8 and looked at how Jesus coined the phrase, “He who has no sin casts the first stone” and then as the only sinless person is like, “I don’t condemn you.””
via Love Subverts

.: Life:

Sandwiched between two links this week is my life.

In review, December was a pretty awesome month. The Hall family watched God provide financially for both Christmas and current/future student loans. A random envelope here and there were proof that He is working behind the scenes…even when it doesn’t feel like it. Funny how God’s character doesn’t change despite our situations. He is not a mere god of the moment but the God that created the heavens and the earth. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for my family and I in 2014.

.: Gaming:

“In other, more succinct words: the game came first, rather than the pride of the singular director.”
via Theology Gaming

Building The Perfect PlayStation 3 Library

PlayStation 3 Logo

Just as Jor-El knew that Krypton’s days were numbered, I too can see the end of PlayStation 3 games being available for purchase. Below you will find a list of all the PlayStation 3 games I have owned/played. Are there any games missing from this list, that you would recommend, that I should hunt down and acquire? The perfect PS3 library must be built.

  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Assassin’s Creed II
  • Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood
  • Assassin’s Creed II: Revelations
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Bit.Trip Runner 2
  • Burnout Paradise
  • Dragon Age Origins
  • Dragon Age 2
  • Ducktales Remastered
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Flower
  • Guacamelee
  • Journey
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Lego Lord of the Rings
  • Lego Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Little Big Planet
  • Mass Effect Trilogy
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
  • PixelJunk Eden
  • PixelJunk Monsters
  • PixelJunk Racers
  • Quantum Conundrum
  • Rayman Origins
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Risk Factions
  • Shadow of the Colossus HD
  • Skylanders Giants
  • Skylanders SWAP Force
  • Skyrim
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Uncharted Trilogy
  • Wheel of Fortune

The Gamer Devotional: In the beginning…

The-Gamer-Devotional

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

Every story has a beginning.

In the way back year of 1972, Allan Alcorn created a small game by the name of Pong. Taking the concept of table tennis to the two-dimensional realm, Pong pitted two players against each other with two in-game paddles and a ball. The graphics were simple; the gameplay addictive. Pong may not be the very first video game ever created but Pong has been credited with demonstrating that money could be made with video games. Pong was the beginning.

7674.Pong

Just as the video game industry was launched with Pong, the Biblical book of Genesis serves as the starting point for humanity. Notice in the verse above (Genesis 1:1) that God created the heavens and the earth. This was our press start moment.

What game features your favorite beginning?

Five Elements of Biblical Nutrition

“The more you focus on truth, the clearer it becomes. The more you wrestle with how to live it out in your life, the more skilled you get at living biblically. So the five elements of your biblical nutrition are: hearing, studying, reading, memorizing, and meditating.” (p.62)

Farrel, Bill. The 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2010. Print.

Christ, the Coliseum, and Violence

(Bryan Note: This essay was originally published over at TheologyGaming.)

I left Christ in the Roman Coliseum; I left him to die.

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Carefully scaling the Coliseum walls, I slowly made my way towards my first target: three would-be snipers. Quietly, in succession, I stealthily stabbed each in the back. Not one of the snipers knew of my existence. I am the wind, the shadows, the reaper of death. I am justice incarnate.

My second target: saving the actor playing Jesus Christ in a play. The irony of a Passion Play in the Roman Coliseum does not escape me. Who knows how many Christians fought for their very lives within these walls? Some believers even torn to shreds by lions for the amusement of Nero and the people. I shudder in disgust and then slip on the disguise of a Roman soldier. Christ awaits my saving grace.

Events quickly unfold in a way I could not foretell. The actor playing Christ has been drugged! I effortlessly scoop him up as Borgia men flood in from all sides of the Coliseum. My mission: get Christ to a doctor. Holding him, I can clearly see his crown of thorns and the fake blood smeared on him. I know his only hope is a cure beyond the battle ensuing around me. Suddenly, the world grinds to a stop.

- Reality Confronted -

If you haven’t guessed, my PS3 locked up as I was escorting the drugged actor to a doctor. I was frustrated. A day has since gone by and I have yet to try again. My wife reminds me that it took Christ three days to resurrect, so why not give the game a rest? My conscience is restless. Nine hours of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood has left me with questions. I find myself questioning the digital bodies I have left de-rezzed; I find myself questioning what I am learning about life, beyond the fact that assassinations from the air look awesome. Perspective is everything.

I know that at the end of the day I will return and continue my “historical” Roman adventure. But I want to keep in mind that violence is reality based. Violence is also something that is worshiped within American cinema and culture. I believe that the reason on-screen violence resonates with people so much is due to the fact that it is usually carried out in the pursuit of justice. The Bible says this though:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19 (NIV)

and this:

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! – Isaiah 30:18 (NLT)

I realize that Ezio’s actions in Brotherhood are simply a part of a fantasy world. I also realize that God is an avenger and a dealer of justice. Though I know that the worlds of fantasy and reality can sometimes blend, I want to be mindful of who and what I am allowing to shape my soul. So God help me.