Hitting the Snooze Button

Standard

Woke up this morning, and I hit the snooze button. I hit the snooze button, over and over again, for the next hour. I didn’t want to get out of bed today. But I did get up, make my coffee, and manage to eat a few lemon poppy seed muffins–thanks, Tab!–with some oatmeal.

Photo by Paul Neil on Unsplash

In the process of getting ready, I happened to check my social media feeds. Friends and family, who are normally pretty chill people, are upset and angry right now. The topics of Coronavirus and racial injustice overwhelm my normal places of fun escape.

This has been one of those weeks where I have hit the snooze button more; this has been one of those weeks where I haven’t read my Bible as much. Instead of starting my mornings in the Word, I have been starting my mornings with a different type of word.

I am tired this morning.

Physically tired.

Mentally exhausted from being told that I should fear something. That instead of engaging history, we think that that engagement equals erasing the past. We live in some sort of Orwellian nightmare.

Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. – Winston Churchill (paraphrased)

I am also heart tired. As Augustine wrote, I long for how our human experience could/should be versus what it actually is. While we may not put this longing into words, this is a longing for Jesus to return. His return will fulfill that deep human longing for the restoration of all things, for justice. No more:

  • Sickness
  • Death

A future where we will work alongside the Creator of the Universe. The curse of Adam, against work, removed from us.

In writing all of this, I realize that I need to pray for strength to overcome being tired. I also need to pray for grace… maybe for myself with the snooze button… more so for those whose actions I do not understand right now. When you have been living a pretty normal life, for more than a month, and your friends and family have not been, it can feel like talking to people on Mars. Irregardless of that Martian divide, I think grace continues to be the word.

Leviticus – Defining the Relationship

Standard

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.

Photo by Alexandra K on Unsplash

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.

No Small Sins

Standard

The nun Elizabeth Scalia puts it this way: “The habit of sin is what is formed by permitting these ‘little sins’ and the reason they ‘mean a lot’ is because once they become ingrained within us, they shape who we are: mentally, spiritually, and even physically.” – Drew Dyck, Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science (A Guide for Sinners, Quitters, and Procrastinators)

No Small Sins

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

Standard

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.

Jesus is our peace

Standard

Just a few days into December and work is exploding. The environment is tense as a major project must go out soon after the beginning of the year. In other words, a typical stressful December here in my office. Knowing that things will get harder before they relax, I find my anxiety kicking in, causing my chest to tighten up. Feels like an elephant has taken up permanent residence on top of my heart. In the midst of fight or flight, God has reminded me of a snippet from Micah I read yesterday.

Micah 5:5A

I want His peace. Peace that surpasses all understanding.

The Bible App (YouVersion) Events – Sermon Notes

Standard

This past week, I plugged my pastor’s sermon notes into The Bible App as an Event. I wanted to see if having the sermon notes (which we already have on the back of our printed bulletins) available via The Bible App, would be helpful to our members.

YouVersion Events - Sermon Notes

Above, you can see what it looks like once you have all of your information plugged in. You can add:

  • A Sermon Series Graphic
  • Church Name
  • Sermon Title
  • Location and Times
  • Sermon Bullet Points + Associated Scripture
  • Links for Giving, etc.

I made sure to tell a few members, before the service, that I had made the sermon notes available via the app. We’ll call this week part of a test run.

YouVersion Events - Sermon Notes

So, I intentionally sat my Bible down and only used my phone during the service. I liked that I could:

  • Take notes by typing
  • Read the corresponding scripture in the same version as the pastor

As someone who does not normally interact with a personal device during the Worship Service, I felt a bit awkward being on my phone though. But looking around the auditorium, I could see many members using their phones/iPads to read the Bible on.

I’m going to keep plugging the sermon notes into the app for the next few weeks. I would like to see what type of feedback I get. If your church is looking for another way to help your members engage, The Bible App – Events, could be a good thing.

Leading Family Worship

Standard

Read a quote this morning that was a bit convicting:

Lead family worship It doesn’t need to be extravagant or long or particularly deep. But it does need to be consistent and it does need to be led by you. Set a time, sing some Psalms, read a Bible passage, ask each kid a question about the passage, and then pray together. Even if this wasn’t the Biblical pattern for Christian families, could you give me a decent argument why it’s a waste of time or unnecessary? – Read more here

Leading family worship has long been a struggle for me. One of those areas where I could easily lay blame on it not being modeled growing up–my parents did the best they could–. But at some point, I’ve learned, one has to forgive their parents and accept responsibility for what one is doing with their own family.

So what am I doing to lead my family spiritually? / How can I take the lead?

How are you leading your family spiritually? / How can you take the lead?

Away from the lights and fellow believers at church, in our homes, how are we leading?

I’m not sure what a family worship time looks like for my family. I can’t imagine us all sitting around singing songs. Sure, we’ve tried a few things in the past. When Wyatt was younger, we’d read Jesus Calling and pray before bed. More recently, we’d sit down and read scripture/pray in the evening. Consistency has always been my enemy. Kind of like with a personal quiet time. An evening would pop up that was out of our regular schedule and the first thing that would end up going were family devotions.

Jon Acuff, in his book Finish, talks about the day after perfect; the day after everything hasn’t gone 100% well. He asks what you will do after that day? Will you accept defeat or continue on?

I know personally that I often complicate things. Simple can be my enemy. And yet simple has to be the starting place for leading family worship. The simple acts of:

  • Taking/scheduling time for the family to sit down
  • Opening the Bible
  • Reading the Bible
  • Discussion
  • Prayer

I know that these are all things that I can do. I simply choose not to make them important nor do them.

It’s time to change that. Let’s consider this the day the family worship vehicle was put into gear.

Zoom, zoom.

Don’t Pull That!

Standard

For those of you who do not know, I am a games director, at church, for a Bible verse memorization program (Awana) we have. Over two 30 minute sessions, I get to play all sorts of crazy games with the kids.

My Goal: Tire the kids out while having fun.

Last night, our schedule was a bit different. The kids are singing during the worship service on Sunday. Which means they needed time to practice:

  • Song cues
  • Hand motions
  • And becoming acclimated to standing on stage

Due to the practice time, game time was going to be reduced for the evening. The kids were scheduled to head out to the outdoor playground after worship practice. My wife, who runs the Awana program at church, told me I had the night off.

I ended up driving out to church anyways. Figured I could help corral kids and be there just in case it rained (we had a 40% chance) to run game time.

All was going well, I arrived early and ate dinner with Tabitha. We were sitting there talking when the fire alarm suddenly went off. A prerecorded voice told us that there was an emergency and that we needed to evacuate the building.

Turns out, a little kid pulled the fire alarm that is conveniently located on the indoor kids playground; the fire alarm that is right at kid height. With strobe lights going off in tandem with the alarm, I found myself Googling how to shut off a pull alarm. Turns out you need a special key.

In the midst of all of this, my pastor, who was supposed to be teaching, was having to deal with the alarm company. I ended up taking over for him in talking to the alarm company so that he could return to teaching. The gentleman on the phone guided me to a closet, where the fire alarm’s central panel was located. There I found two wires that were not connected to the battery that powers the fire alarm system. The alarm company told me that in the process of the system trying to reboot, that it tried to reboot/use power from the battery, somehow unplugging the wires. Plugging the wires back into the battery, I restored the system, and thus saved Jurassic Park.

Did I mention that the volunteer fire department sent a member over to check on things? Apparently he lives across the street. He was telling dispatch that he didn’t see any smoke coming from the church and that there were lots of cars in the parking lot. I’m thankful that he came over to check things out… and cancel the fire trucks that were about to be dispatched.

Once the alarm was shut off, I walked into the Worship Center to listen to the kids sing. On the way over, I noted that it was now raining outside. Great.

We ended up having a shortened game time. Lots of running around and screaming inside our kids worship area. It was crazy but helped the kids burn off energy as the barometer fell.

I’m thankful that none of this happened on a Sunday morning. While the lighting effects from the strobes might have been cool, the overall alarm would have killed the worship vibe.

Surf Report – 10/24/2017

Standard

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God:

Imagine spending 40 days and 40 nights with God on Mount Sinai. Your people, whom you’ve led out of Egypt, have given up on you. They’ve decided to build their own god, a golden calf, with the help of your brother. God interrupts your meeting and tells you what the people are doing. They have violated His commandments.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. 10a Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.

God then says something that I’ve never noticed before. Notice the rest of verse 10:

10b Then I will make you into a great nation.”

Let’s pause for a moment. God has just said that He is going to destroy the Israelites and make Moses a great nation.

What would you do?

Would you want to be freed from a people who had made your life miserable? Would you tell God, sure, kill them, fulfill your promises in me?

OR

Would you make your case to God for your people?

You can pick up the story here (Exodus 32:11)

.: Life:

Over the weekend, Tabitha and I removed what was left of the handicap ramp off the front porch. I love how every small thing we do makes the house feel more and more like ours.

Photos courtesy of my wife.

.: Gaming:

Wyatt and I have been playing Little Big Planet 3.

Little Big Planet 3 demands that you bring your best platforming skills to the game. Anything less than your best will end in failure.

Wyatt and I played the above boss at least ten times. The first night we got stuck on the boss, we were both tired. Thankfully, I decided to quit that night. Wyatt wasn’t happy about that decision. However, we were able to beat the boss in a quick and efficient manner the next day. Sometimes you gotta know when to quit.

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!

Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy

Standard

I first experienced the power of Twine during the opening of Campo Santo’s Firewatch. The stirring combination of text and sound reduced me to tears in moments. Who knew a videogame could capture the weaponized emotional power of Pixar’s UP?

9qvzsh_noqs-karsten-wurth

Across the Internet, there exists a man I only know as Nelson. I first came across him while he was mixing videogames and the Bible. Now, he creates games in Twine.

Nelson’s latest game is titled Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy. This interactive work of fiction is an invitation into the surreal. A late night experience in a place both foreign and familiar.

Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy demonstrates the power of the Twine platform. Allowing the player/reader to transcend the text and share a brief moment with a friend. I was surprised at how personal the game is; how quickly I was sucked in.

I want to invite you to take the journey too. You can do so here.

Wave Splinter* Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy was reviewed using a code provided by Nelson.

The Aetherlight Bible NLT

Standard

The Aetherlight Bible is tool, a companion piece meant to help players navigate through the fog. Presented in the New Living Translation, this Bible is easy to read for both children and adults. Built with the desire to connect players of The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance with Biblical truth, The Aetherlight Bible features:

  • A soft cover and overall size that feels sturdy and fantastic to hold
  • Inserted pages that tie in-game characters with their Biblical counterparts
  • A Dictionary/Concordance
  • A 365-Day Reading Plan
  • Words of Christ in scarlet
  • Footnotes, in the Old Testament, that point players towards Christ
  • And my favorite part, at the bottom of some pages, Aethasian sayings such as:

Build for others what you would want them to build for you.

AetherlightBible

From the outside cover to the smallest details found inside, The Aetherlight Bible is a video game tie-in done right. Each page, from the watermarks to the quotes, show that much time and love went into the creation of this Bible.

However, I dislike how the page numbers are situated near the spine of the book. But, I realize that this formatting choice could force readers to actually learn the Books of the Bible. Clever.

I recommend this Bible to the hardcore players of The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance and to those not familiar with the game.

Parents, grandparents, this is the Bible you want to buy your kids/grandkids.

The Aetherlight Bible’s cover is inviting. Almost begging the reader to pick it up, read it, and embrace the adventure.

I was given a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

NIrV Minecrafters Bible

Standard

The NIrV Minecrafters Bible is a Biblical recipe mixing faith and fandom. This Bible features a solid hardcover to hold up against any Creeper or Zombie attack. The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) makes for an easy read. 24 Minecraft-themed pages highlight Biblical stories and offer short in-game objectives to complete.

Minecraft Samson

But all is not well at the Minecraft Crafting Table. Missing ingredients such as:

  • Durable pages
  • Helpful reading plans
  • Highlighted verses
  • Daily Devotions
  • Chronologies/Maps

All reveal a subpar product. A quick cash-in that shows no respect to the Biblical reader nor respect to the player. Zondervan is selling a plain no-frills Bible with a minimal (24 page) Minecraft makeover.

Minecraft Jesus

Zondervan should have gone the extra mile. Including actual study material and embracing Minecraft through trivia and in-game tips. If done well, this could have been an amazing tool. Instead, the NIrV Minecrafters Bible is a damaged wood sword. Beckoning clueless parents and grandparents to pick it up.

Save your money. Invest in something that will last and further real life and in-game adventures.

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.