Designing Easter – 2019

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My church asked me to design a banner/slide for our Easter service. So, I swung for the fences!

Here is my first attempt:

Easter One

Feedback on the above image = “looks like a beach towel”. I then decided to go with more pastel colors and swap out the background.

Second attempt:

Easter Two

With this image, I noticed that I was having issues with the times at the bottom not standing out. So I swapped out some colors and added more shadowing.

The final product:

Easter Three

I love how colorful the final product turned out. If there was a contest, in Longview, for most colorful Easter banner, I think I’d win.

From Across the Net – “8 Reasons Why Pastors Need to Serve in the Nursery or Preschool for a Sunday”

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I can’t agree with Chuck Lawless enough here, speaking to pastors:

You need to model for your church’s parents the importance of serving in the nursery and preschool departments. Too many parents receive the benefits of childcare for their little ones, but they don’t give back by serving themselves. Perhaps seeing their pastor serve would encourage them to make a commitment.

Read more here

From Across the Net – “The One Life Dream That Makes a Girl Blush”

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I remember my wife whispering words like this to me:

“I know it’s silly,” one girl said. “I know. But…” she hesitated, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “I really just want to be married. To raise some kids. To take care of a home.” She’s almost embarrassed by the time she’s finished saying the sentiment. As if admitting it has made any impressive strength and wit she had faded away into a pile of proverbial laundry and dishes. As if she’s ashamed for wanting something so “trivial” and simple. “Is that silly? I mean, it’s really all I really want to do.”

I hate that we live in a society where women feel like they can’t dream of just being a momma.

You can read more of Andrea Burke’s article here.

From Across the Net – “Help! My Child Games Too Much!”

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Daniel Burton, over at Love Thy Nerd, hits the nail on the head with his article “Help! My Child Games Too Much!“. I can’t preach this enough:

  • Move All The Electronics Out Of The Bedroom: While this will make you the most unpopular person in the house, this is for everyone’s benefit. Seeing the games your children are playing becomes increasingly difficult when the door is closed. This goes for internet access and phones as well. With all the dangers present on the internet, unmonitored access behind closed doors seems more irresponsible than convenient. We should absolutely trust children to make smart, wise decisions, but that doesn’t mean we should make it easy for them not to. Trust but verify. When you bring everything out into the open, they become a part of the family and not a hermit who leaves their bedroom only to come out for meals. Open access provides accountability and, whether they like it or not, encourages children and teens to behave responsibly online.

I get tired of hearing stories of parents giving their kids unlimited access to the Internet, in their bedrooms, and the kids finding porn.

You can read Daniel’s entire article here.

The Good Samaritan

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Take a moment to read the scripture below and we’ll pick up our conversation after.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” – Luke 10:25-37 (ESV)

“And who is my neighbor?”

We like to think of our neighbors as those who are like us. Those that:

  • Look like us
  • Wear the same types of clothes
  • Eat the same types of foods
  • Enjoy the same types of hobbies
  • Maybe even have been raised/brought up in a similar manner

Photo by Hayden Walker on Unsplash

But Jesus pushes far past the similarities. His story above reminds me that I’d like to think that I’m the Samaritan. More often than not, I’m more so the priest and the Levite in the story, avoiding those that don’t look like me and continuing on my way. We crave the safety of our selected neighbors and tribes.

Lord, push me past that which I deem safe.

I Loved Avengers: Infinity War

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Tabitha, Wyatt, and I finally got a chance to watch “Avengers: Infinity War” over the weekend. We loved it! Can’t wait to see the endgame play out on April 26.

Welcome to Spoiler Country

I loved:

  • Thanos! He was awesome. Best shot of the movie is the final shot of him looking content on his farm. He had finally succeeded in bringing “balance” to the universe. Nothing quite like seeing a bad guy win. Also loved the stakes Thanos brings to the table.
  • How the story perfectly balances a huge cast of characters.
  • Bruce Banner fighting without Hulk. “Avengers: Infinity War” made it feel like Bruce had finally come to the point where he realized he didn’t need Hulk to make a difference.
  • Dr. Strange playing a much bigger “endgame”.
  • Thor going on a weapon quest with Rocket the “rabbit”. 🙂
  • Peter Dinklage showing up unexpectedly… as a giant.
  • “Avengers: Infinity War” fading to black. Making you want more. MOAR!
  • Nick Fury’s cameo at the end of the credits.

I disliked:

  • The lack of Hawkeye. By the looks of the “Avengers: Endgame” trailer below, Hawkeye looks to be back but acting like he has been hanging out with Wolverine.

On My Radar – FAR: Lone Sails

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FAR: Lone Sails reminds me of a mix of The Final Station (keep moving forward) and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (little guys running a ship). Looks like a perfect game to chill with. Might be an even better Nintendo Switch versus PS4 title?

A Friday Confession

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I used to pray, God, use me however you want. I used to sing loudly, with tears in my eyes, God, where you lead, I will follow. (Tears because I didn’t want God to send me into the backwoods somewhere without air conditioning.) I prayed with a bigger picture in mind; I sang open to the will of God for my life. The subtle current of wanting adventure, thrills beyond the everyday life, thrummed beneath the surface of my prayers. As The Killers sing in their song “Read My Mind”:

I never really gave up on
Breakin’ out of this two-star town

What I was really praying was, God, I’m willing to follow you as long as it means new places, new people, and a lack of monotony. 

Photo by Camille Puche on Unsplash

When I graduated from college back in 2006, I thought I’d get married and leave Longview forever. My big plans were to go back to Southern California, get an amazing job OR start a video game ministry, and life would go on. But then economy imploded… and God has used those 12 years since graduation to shape and form me into something new. I’m not the same guy that I was, and I recognize that as being good.

Do you ever feel like Moses, living in the wilderness with his wife and father-in-law? Being prepared, by God, away from the limelight, in safety? Do you ever wonder if you are being taught to just focus on and impact those around you? I do. Our world is all about the big, the bold, the blaring Coldplay stadium anthems. Anthems that silently whisper to us that if you aren’t doing something big, in life or for God, then you are a failure.

Here is where I want to land: You are not a failure.

In the Bible, God consistently uses those the world does not know for His glory, purpose, and Kingdom. I think we have to pray that our hearts align more with Him and less with the overwhelming expectations the world and even Christian culture can put on us. You can make a difference for His Kingdom where you are, right now. You don’t even have to move. Even though Switchfoot might dare you to.

Assassins Creed III Reborn

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As a History / Political-Science major, I was excited over the launch of Assassins Creed III. I even pre-ordered the game (a rarity for me). When all was said and done though, Assassins Creed III was a disappointment. So many ideas, poorly executed, with a game engine that couldn’t do the heavy lifting those ideas required. The end result was a buggy, slow-running mess, and I quit.

The upcoming PS4 remaster of Assassins Creed III has me intrigued. I’m wondering if the game engine has been upgraded? I’d love to play through this period of history. Maybe protagonist Connor has been given some hugs/love to help with his sour disposition? Maybe not. I guess we’ll soon see.

Blackballed

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We live in an odd time. A time where we think about how much our friends like our social media posts. How when they suddenly stop liking them or commenting, we begin to question whether they really are our friends or not.

Can you imagine telling your great grandparents, those that had lived through the Great Depression, about how your friends on social media are suddenly not liking your posts?

“I feel like they are blackballing me, Great Grandma Hall.”

And as we are navigating these choppy social waters, the thought dawns on us that we will have to help our kids through muck like this too. (Pulling the plug on the Internet isn’t the solution either. Let go of the cord!) We have to engage, walk through, and confront these thoughts/situations that pop up.  Asking ourselves if perhaps:

  • We are spending too much time on social media
  • A friend we know through social media isn’t a great influence on us
  • Why such such a seemingly petty thing matters

When we get down to the core of the issue, it shouldn’t matter whether someone likes or comments on our posts… and yet it does.

“And Jesus said, love only those who like and comment on your social media musings.” – Not In The Bible

What do you think? I love it when you share your thoughts below in the comments.

From Across the Net – “How it feels to release an indie game in 2019”

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Fun to see Nelson on the front page of Polygon.

“I knew that games are built from dreams and tricks, but seeing first-hand how much it hurts a team to not put in a last little detail that might add cohesion to a world because there’s a critical bug elsewhere made me reconsider how I see the rest of the games I play.”

Shadow Parenting

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Over the weekend, my next door neighbor stopped by and asked if Wyatt could come over to his house. Tabitha and I know our neighbor pretty well. Wyatt works for him on the occasion. So we said sure, no problem.

Wyatt went over to the neighbors, sat outside on the front porch, and talked for awhile. Time passed, and he soon came home with a bag of books. Turns out our neighbor had wanted to give him a late Christmas gift. No big, right? Right. It was then that I learned that the entire time Wyatt was at the neighbors, he was being guilted/lectured over the way he spends his money.

Photo by Mathieu Turle on Unsplash

Now imagine an adult that you know from passing conversations. An adult that pays your child to do random tasks for him. Imagine that adult now being critical to your kid over how he spends the money he earns. Telling him that he needs to be more purposeful with his money; telling Wyatt to quit spending his money on smaller things (like LEGOS, video games, etc.) and save just like his son used to.

Wyatt came home upset. When he told us what had happened, I was upset. You see, my kid takes stuff like that to heart… this isn’t the first time our neighbor has had this talk.

Good intentions aside, you never know where criticism, judgement, or even shadow parenting may occur.

 

Unexpected Notifications

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Before pulling out of the driveway, I paired my phone with the car. No need to drive to church in silence. Plus, the boy likes the new Toby Mac album.

As I went to put my phone down, a notification popped up at the bottom of the screen:

“17 Minutes to Macedonia Baptist Church”

My map program knew where I was going.

Apple Maps

I am new to the world of the iPhone. I had no clue that it’s map program has been tracking me for weeks, perhaps even months? But there was something unsettling about the phone knowing where I was going on a Sunday morning. Also makes me wonder what else it knows and has learned about me.

Have you ever had your phone creep you out? Tell me about it in the comments below.

I’m happy that God allows you to consume “blank”

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Feeling like you have to defend your personal and even parenting choices, to fellow Christians, feels weird. You’d think that everyone would be on the same team. Brothers and sisters in Christ and all that, but nope.

Over the years, I’ve had many of these discussions. Whether I’m telling someone about how I don’t let Wyatt watch Marvel movies due to content OR how I dislike the sexual character designs in Fortnite, I still feel judged. Christians are a weird lot where freedom in Christ seems to mean do whatever feels good to you. Do the pleasurable thing, Jesus surely said, and don’t think too much about it.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial. – 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)

A big part of our faith journey is dedicated to asking the questions:

  • Can I consume this?
  • Should I be consuming this?
  • What place does this thing have in my life?

We want those black and white answers where God simply says, “YES, YOU CAN PLAY GRAND THEFT AUTO: SINFUL EDITION.” But that’s not how the Christian walk works. The Christian walk is more about reading the Bible, listening to what God has to say, and engaging God AND the Holy Spirit in our decisions.

Have you ever noticed how when we don’t hear from God (He isn’t answering fast enough), we often turn to friends and even online communities for answers? Don’t get me wrong, community is a good thing. Being a part of several online communities, I have learned that what Christians are really looking for is justification for their media consumption.

We’ll say: “Andrew plays DOOM so why can’t I?”

The thing is, God may convict me over something completely different than you. I get that. It’s cool. But this judgement thing, making a fellow believer feel guilty over something God has convicted them over, is not cool. I’m happy that God allows you to consume _____________. I’m happy that you get to enjoy that freedom. I am. But please do not use your freedom to judge, and in effect, enslave me.