My friend Joe, over at the Raving Luhn, wrote about Half Life: Blue Shift this week.
The game puts you in the shoes of Barney Calhoun on the day everything went wrong in the Black Mesa research facility. Honestly, there’s not much to Blue Shift. Barney’s story is pretty simplistic: Trapped in Black Mesa, he sets out to find a group of scientists who are devising a means to escape the facility via a short range teleporter. The game doesn’t have the sense of discovery that Half Life did, nor does it turn the narrative on its side like Opposing Force. It’s the tale of a guy who had a bad day at work and wants to go home.
This is funny, I was just thinking the other day that there needs to be a Goodreads for video games. I wasn’t sure if something like that existed. Thanks to The Reformed Gamers for this interview. Going to have to check the app out.
“I want Goodreads for video games”. And that was it. Being in the TRG facebook group as I was starting to get back into gaming, there were so many recommendations flying around that I couldn’t keep up with. No one likes spreadsheets so I wanted a really nice, simple app that I could use anytime. I started the first bit of Code on July 4th weekend in 2017 and released the app at the beginning of December that year.
I love how video games can bring about that sense of wonder. That moment where you are reminded of past game experiences. And then have your mind blown as those past experiences (Myst in this case) are layered upon new mechanics. Graceful Decay’s Maquette looks incredible!
I love the games Annapurna chooses to publish. Games such as:
I am in my 8th week of reading through the Bible in a year. Right now, I’m somewhere in the jungles of Leviticus. Hacking my way through the sacrificial system (lots of blood and heavenly BBQ). Contemplating how my relationship with my pastor might change if I had to go to him for bumps and rashes (see Chapter 13). Okay, I’m not thinking too much on my pastor being bi-vocational dermatologist.
In the thick of all the details regarding discharges, the Day of Atonement, and forbidden sexual practices, one can see that God is a God of detail. Conditioning and preparing His people to be set apart for Him, different than the people who were then occupying the Promised Land. These rules and boundaries were not only there to set His people apart but to also protect their very beings.
Drinking blood? Don’t do that.
Sacrifice your kids to an idol? Don’t do that.
Sleep with your mom or sisters? Just don’t.
Even more, God was teaching His people how to interact with Him. Christian vernacular would call this a DTR (define the relationship) moment. God was calling His people to participate in a relationship with Him. A relationship that would require:
Dedication – To following His rules/law.
Honor – Honoring God with the first fruits of their crops, animals, essentially their labor.
Sacrifice – Both literal animal sacrifices and the daily sacrifice of living set apart/holy.
God wanted His people to be dedicated solely to Him. Not looking at the surrounding culture, how they worshiped their gods, but looking to Him alone.
Reading through Leviticus, I’m reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross. How his death made a way for us to be with God forever. I am thankful that I do not have to visit my pastor to have a skin rash examined; I am thankful for not having to worry about how my food is cooked—rare steak can be amazing!—. I praise God for being a God of detail. Revealing Himself to the Israelites… revealing a glimpse of Himself to us.
While I realize this post is geared towards couples on the mission field, I think that there are universal truths here for all Christian couples. Most of all, I appreciate the honesty.
We don’t talk about sex very much. Sure, we might joke about it (the first working title for this article was The Missionary Position), but we don’t actually talk about it very much. Truth is, most folks are scared to death to have an honest, non-joking, realistic talk about sex. Maybe with a good friend, but with their spouse? Gasp. But the truth is, it matters. It’s not the biggest deal, but it’s a real deal.
I appreciate this post by Tim Challies on friendship. There is nothing like a friend who can tell you to snap out of it and quit being a jerk.
Often the best way to gain objectivity is to appeal to a friend for an outside perspective. It may be that each of us appeals to a personal friend or that together we appeal to a mutual friend. But either way, a close friend is able to listen, to evaluate, and to offer guidance. Some of the best counsel I’ve gotten from friends is of the “you need to stop being a jerk” variety. Friends have helped me better love those I love most.
I was recently listening to a podcast when the host presented a thought:
The Church is more concerned with getting people plugged into the organization’s ministries (children’s ministry, youth ministry, greeter ministry, etc.). And is far less concerned about equipping believers to minister in their everyday lives.
This thought of competing ministries, the Church versus the believer, floored me. Made me shake my head for a moment. You see, by serving within the local church, we have a safe place to learn how to minister to others. As we learn how to minister to others in the church, we can take that experience and apply it to our lives. Think of it as building spiritual service muscle memory. I then use this muscle memory as I go throughout my week.
Service has taught me a few things:
That no task, big or small, is beneath me.
To slow down and listen even when it feels inconvenient.
I do not see my church as a ministry competitor. I see my church as a partner, a group of people God is using to develop me. He uses situations that arise to challenge my ways of thinking. Situations that cause me to pray and ask discernment. God uses our churches to grow us in the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
What about you? Do you think that the Church is more concerned about itself versus helping/equipping believers? AND/OR What has God taught you about serving in the church that you then take into your daily life?
My friend Joe, over at the RavingLuhn, wrote a review for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. I have yet to pick up this game again (it’s been a few weeks) after landing on the Wookie homeworld, Kashyyyk.
Fallen Order is one of the best Star Wars video games to have ever been released. It hits a lot of the high notes required to make a Star Wars game a compelling and memorable experience. It’s concrete proof that developers need to make expansive single player games in the Star Wars universe. And yet, on the backside of spending 35 hours to complete the game to 100% the experience feels a little empty.
While on a mission with Cayde-6, you experience a mission gone sideways. Things happen. Serious stuff guys! Friends mourn the loss of their friend… and the universe moves on. But not you. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Thankfully, you are geared up against the cold blackness of space. It’s time to lock-and-load, my friends. Vengeance is the players, says Destiny 2: Forsaken.
After reading so many good reviews, I finally picked up Destiny 2: Forsaken. I’ve sunk a few hours into the game already. Forsaken reminds me of why I like Bungie games:
Huge Set Pieces
I am enjoying what I’ve played so far. More thoughts to come; more thoughts on the topic of revenge and the Christian.
How about you? Have you played through the Destiny 2: Forsaken campaign? What did you think?
Andrew T. Walker, writing for the National Review, wrote an excellent piece titled “Understanding Why Religious Conservatives Would Vote for Trump”. Many of my own thoughts, that I’ve wanted to share for awhile, are in this piece. This article is a bit of a long read but worth reading.
Some religious conservatives may see the world in moral terms — right and wrong; black and white. But there’s a long moral tradition, as far back as Augustine, that sees our world in shades of gray. The City of God lives as earthly inhabitants of the City of Man; thus, our world is imperfect. We are to be “in the world, but not of it.” History does not progress only toward human perfection. In this calculus, religious conservatives might see moral contrasts in black and white, but see voting for a morally compromised figure whose administration pushes back against progressivism as an uncomfortable shade of gray. They understand that, in a fallen world, they will not always be able to vote for candidates of good character and policy. Sometimes, all the candidates are deeply flawed, and a judgment is required of how to steward faithfully one’s democratic privileges.
I am not sure why but talking about what one does for their devotional time can get weird. Have you ever noticed how a discussion can go from a simple conversation such as:
“For my personal time with God, I’ve been reading a few verses a day and then praying.”
“For my personal time, I’ve been reading through a devotional book.”
“For me, I’ve been reading through a read the Bible in a year plan.”
To more of:
“Dude, you should slow down, savor but a few verses a day.”
“You’re not reading enough. I read 15 chapters yesterday. Gold star for me.”
“Devotional books are for babies. Man up, read the Bible!”
We Christians can be a controlling lot. We love to tell fellow brothers and sisters in Christ what their devotional time with God should look like. Instead of pushing our own way, why can’t we practice encouragement instead?
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Last November, Tabitha and I were struggling through the Fortnite craze with Wyatt. At the time, I penned a blog post that opened with this:
“I feel caught between being a parent and a gamer. Caught between my son loving Fortnite and me seeing the game for what it is, exploitative. I find myself fighting the urge to erase the game from my house. To pretend that Fortnite does not exist and funnel Wyatt towards games that are not built upon:
The addictive free-to-play foundations of games such as Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. Games that are built to encourage consumers to spend real life money to advance/keep playing. Pay-to-win, children!
Female characters designed to be objectified/sexual eye candy.
A non-stop gameplay loop.
An in-game store that creates an artificial need to buy skins (think: clothing/costumes) and items that will expire within an arbitrary time limit.
I can feel my parents surging within me, screaming, “JUST PULL THE PLUG!” But I’m trying to push through that deep rooted feeling. I’m trying to like Fortnite for my son; I’m trying to parent through it.”
I wrote much more than what I’m sharing above. The Fortnite post was up, on this site, for a couple of hours until I removed it. Not that I disagreed with anything that I had written, but I realized that the game had changed.
There comes a point, in parenting, where you need to work through things on your own. I realized that I was painting myself, as a parent, into a corner. Failing to realize:
That my attitude towards Fornite might change in the future.
That one day Wyatt might discover my blog and read what I have written about him.
That I want to be careful with how I represent my son online.
That some things are best worked out as a family. Privately.
Yes, we struggled as a family through Fortnite. I know many of you did. But me writing that unpublished blog post made me re-think how I blog about myself and my family. Not everything that happens in our homes, with our kids, needs to end up online.
I can’t imagine having to flee for my life, away from Soviet forces. Frantically boarding a ship, thinking I was saved. Only to have a submarine destroy what had been my salvation… and bury me in the cold sea. This is a good piece, via the Smithsonian, on the sinking of the “Wilhelm Gustloff”.
In context, the Gustloff was another tragedy in a war full of losses. By then, “there was a stigma about discussing any sort of German suffering during the war after everything the Nazis did to the rest of Europe,” Edward Petruskevich, curator of the online Wilhelm Gustloff Museum, writes in an e-mail. “The Gustloff was just another casualty of war along with the countless other large ships sunk on the German side.”
I am a boy dad. I thank the Lord for the gift he has given me in my son, Wyatt. The gift that sees that a boys energy and curiosity is normal; The gift that allows me to say that yes, boys are different than girls.
Two years into our marriage, Tabitha and I were driving up Palomar Mountain. I wanted to show her where my Grandpa Ayers used to take my brother and I camping. As we wound our way up the mountain, Tabitha started to feel sick. I wrote it off as car sickness at the time. Elevation + switchback roads = car sickness for some. What I didn’t know, is that on that trip to visit my parents in Southern California, Tabitha was pregnant. I was going to be a dad.
Parenting Wyatt has forced me to wrestle with many things in my life.
My upbringing of growing up in a home where my dad was home 2 days and then gone 2-3 days. I just wanted him home. I wanted his presence. I wanted him without the zombie schedule truck driving demanded.
I am thankful that God brought other men into my life to fill this need. Men like my Grandpa Ayers. He stepped in, for my brother and I, and showed us what it meant to be men. Whether he was reading us Bible stories or telling tales around the campfire; Whether we were hiking with slingshots, flying RC planes, or playing Chess. Grandpa was that escape, for us, from the feminine world of my mom.
I realize now that both my parents did their best… and I’m thankful for the time I had with my Grandpa.
Who I Am As A Husband
There are many stories that I could write here. But the clearest one that comes to mind is of me sitting on the couch, watching TV, while Tabitha is getting herself and Wyatt out the door for the day. Tab was teaching at the time. Wyatt would spend his days with my mother-in-law. I didn’t do a thing, as I watched The Today Show, to help Tab out the door. We were supposed to be a team, and I was failing.
God knew what I needed. Looking back, I am thankful for us having issues with breast feeding. Thankful for the formula, which I once thought was expensive, that allowed me to take on late night feedings. I miss those times of bleary-eyed snuggling. Him watching me, with those blue eyes, in the darkened living room.
Being a dad has forced me to find maturity as a husband. Praise God.
Who I Want To Be As A Dad
At the end of the day, I want to be a dad who:
Listens – I wanted to be able to talk about whatever Wyatt is into, even if that means talking about Pokémon like a scholar.
Plays – Having a family game night, playing through a video game co-op, I want to play with my son.
Reads – Whether reading the Bible or work of fiction, I want my son to hear my voice/see that men read aloud. I miss hearing my Grandpa Ayers read Bible stories.
Prepares – I want to have those difficult conversations. I want to be a dad who talks about puberty, sex, and dating.