Surf Report: A Recap of the Week of September 23

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Welcome to the Surf Report for the Week of September 23.

.: God:

God has been teaching me quite a bit when it comes to the Bible study I’ve been leading on Wednesday nights. He has been teaching me to remember:

  • Not everyone is a Christian AND not all Christians are at the same place in their walk with God.
  • To not take personally the people who choose to come and go. Attendance has been inconsistent/up and down.
  • To lead. That it doesn’t matter how much older the rest of the guys are, I’m there to facilitate discussion and lead the group.

I wrote a bit about some of our discussion this week in “How do you de-stress?” Also had a friend send me a link to a video that I found helpful in studying 1 John (which we’ve been going over on Wednesday nights).

.: Life:

This week I found out that there are Josh Groban fans. I learned that I should never talk bad about a character Josh Groban plays (especially on Twitter). Ah, the Internet. You can read my thoughts on Josh Groban’s new project in “Things to Avoid – The Good Cop“.

Also spent some time in a clinic last week, wrote about that experience in “Missing the Firetwuck“.

.: Gaming:

My week has been completely devoid of video games. But I did re-post a Tim Challies article from awhile back (“From Across the Net – ‘Christian Men and Their Video Games’“). His article reminded me of the Christian tension of being in the world but not of the world. Got me thinking of debates I’ve been a part of over the years. Debates on Christian liberty, discernment, and the almost Christian desire to have everything spelled out in black and white.

There are definitely games fellow believers shouldn’t touch. The Bible, the Holy Spirit, family and friends help us navigate what we should and should not consume.

Question of the Week: Do you think Fortnite’s timed cosmetic purchases are predatory towards young kids?

That’s it for this week. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

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Revisited – Christ, the Coliseum, and Violence

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This is one of the first pieces I ever wrote for another site (back in 2013). Still love this scenario. The Assassin’s Creed series is often the Adventures in Odyssey equivalent of the Imagination Station

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

Carefully scaling the Coliseum walls, I slowly made my way towards my first targets: 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.

How do you de-stress?

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Last night at Bible study, we got talking about how we individually de-stress. One of the guys shared that playing golf as well as retirement helps him to keep stress away. Another one of the guys shared that working with his hands through metal working projects works for him. I was then asked what I do to unwind. I froze up and found myself babbling something like this:

My wife has been trying to get me to exercise in order to de-stress. We’ve been walking. I also play video games. I used to play them a lot when we were first married. Probably played them too much. I now only play a few times a week, maybe one day a week. I like how they allow me to turn off my brain for awhile. I also like working in the yard.

One of the guys quickly piped up and said that exercise isn’t enough to de-stress for him. He went on to talk about that feeling of satisfaction that not only comes from working with your hands but completing a project. I could 100% relate to what he was saying. In my day job, finishing up a project is elusive. Oftentimes we are quickly shifting from one project to another within moments. The biggest thing I hear from my co-workers is that they just want to finish something, anything. I’ve learned to celebrate the small things I’m able to finish. But I’m steering us away from the topic at hand–my wife says I’m good at that–.

The art of letting off stress has always proven to be elusive to me. Sure, I’m getting better at handling stress, but I’m not all the way there. I’ve learned that being mindful that the stress is there and then DOING SOMETHING to help it seems to be key. DOING SOMETHING. Even if that is settling into a solid gameplay loop or taking a walk with your wife. I find that exercise and good conversation can often do wonders.

How do you de-stress?

From Across the Net – “Christian Men and Their Video Games”

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A few years ago, Tim Challies wrote a piece titled “Christian Men and Their Video Games”. I love what he says here:

Skip the bad ones. We cannot deny that some games are unsuitable to anyone, much less a Christian. Today more than ever there is an abundance of games that revel in gore and bloodletting, that feature sexual violence, that are full of porn or profanity. Those of us who remember the scandal of Leisure Suit Larry or Phantasmagoria a generation ago will know that such games are practically quaint by today’s standards. We need to be okay with skipping the bad ones and we ought to do so out of conviction and conscience. Thankfully, we’ve got access to a thorough rating system and a massive collection of review sites that can steer us away from the ugly ones. Look past the bad ones and we will find many that are harmless, fun, beautiful, and at times even brilliant. – Read more here

I was a part of a Christian gaming group for years. One of the biggest hurdles we never overcame, as a group, was related to Christian liberty and gaming. A lot of the guys felt that as long as you were focusing on the positive aspects of a game (essentially Philippians 4:8), you were okay to play. This created an almost anything goes atmosphere. Biblical discernment fell by the wayside as liberty was promoted as the only truth. I grew concerned for the younger believers in the group. Iron is meant to sharpen iron, not dull it.

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Things to Avoid – The Good Cop

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Netflix has resurrected Tony Danza from the actor’s graveyard. That place where actors go, botox the crud out of their faces, and then act like they are young and relevant again. Netflix has gone even further with The Good Cop and has teleported singer Josh Groban from some Christmas special somewhere.

Josh Groban: “Where am I?”

The Good Cop Writers: “Your in a cop show playing an unlikable goody two-shoes. Think you can handle that?”

Josh Groban: “Definitely.”

Two actors dumped into a White Collar-like formula, what could go wrong? Pretty much everything.

I’m convinced that The Good Cop is built for senior citizens. Let’s do the math:

Slow Pacing + Department Store Piano Music + Tony Danza = Old People Show

Guess I need to be careful here though. Tony Danza shot to fame on Who’s the Boss, which debuted in 1984. Which means the “senior citizens” I’m talking about would then be my parents–hi, mom and dad!–. I take it all back. This is just a bad show meant for bad people who want to watch bad television.

Netflix can be a haven of the awesome (Voltron) and a haven of the most epic fails brought to the small screen. The Good Cop is a disaster and a thing to avoid.

Missing the Firetwuck

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Sitting in the clinic last week, a little boy climbed all over the seats beside me. He’d stop climbing, ask his mom a question and then go back to exerting energy. At one point, an ambulance and a fire truck pulled up to the clinic with their sirens on. One of the patients being seen wasn’t doing well, I gathered. As the lights from the emergency vehicles reflected in the hallway of the clinic, the little boy’s mom asked him, “Do you see the firetruck?”

“Firetwuck! I want to go see! I want to go see!”

I could feel the mom’s pain. You could tell that she wanted to go take her son over to see the firetruck and ambulance. But she didn’t want to miss their name being called to be seen by the doctor.

“Your sick, baby, we have to stay here.”

“Firetwuck.”

9 years into parenting someone who was once a little boy, I miss the made up words. I miss the those earlier stages. Stages where I thought he was so much older than he was. The hardest thing about having an only child is knowing that this is it. There is no going back and doing things different. I don’t often live in the past, I try and regret nothing, but I miss having a little kid. I miss hearing the word hella-ca-ca (helicopter).

Yet life marches on, and I enjoy the moments we have.

Dads, enjoy your kids.

From Across the Net – “Should You Quit Your Job and Stream Video Games All Day?”

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I haven’t told my wife yet, but I’m going to become a full-time streamer. Build a studio out in our shop out back. I’ll be living the backyard dream, helping children practice passive gaming–man, I’m old–. Jonathan Clauson, who I had as a guest on my podcast, brings balance to this piece titled “Should You Quit Your Job and Stream Video Games All Day?

“My generation is in that odd in between space where we are as comfortable with VHS tapes and vinyl as we are with smartphones and the latest in digital gear. However I look at my son in his early teens who is in that 100% digital space and most of his interactions with friends are on places like Discord, Instagram, and Snapchat and it is clear to me that there is value in these digital communities.”Read more here via Love Thy Nerd

My wife will love me, no matter what.