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!

Playing Videogames Like a Christian

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To play videogames as a Christian, however, requires being honest and discerning not just about their content, but about their value. The entertainment games provide is just one of the many values intrinsic to interactive media. Let’s play games responsibly, with discernment and moderation, but let’s dig deeper. Let’s tap into the many values of games, and ask the Lord to open our eyes to values we’ve failed to see. In playing games Christianly, we may just become more self aware, more mindful of our neighbor, and more in love with our God.

Thought Drew Dixon did an excellent job on this piece. Read the full article here

Best Theology Video Games Of 2015 – Destiny: Taken King

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This year, I had the chance to help the guys over at Theology Gaming with their Best Theology Video Games Of 2015 list. Had fun writing about Destiny: Taken King.

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Best Mirror Of Our Faith Journey
Destiny: Taken King

Sin. Repentance. Redemption. Destiny mirrors the faith journey of the Christian. Made in the console shooter creator’s image, this 2014 title launched with solid mechanics and an uneven tale. Broken from a story perspective, mired in sin, Destiny was yet embraced by the gaming populace.The Dark Below and House of Wolves expansions launched the game into an orbit of repentance. Redemption found in the Taken King. Sin, downfall, always but a step away. Developer Bungie continues the journey through the valleys and mountain-top experiences of game development.

Not Alone

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For years I thought I was alone in writing about videogames from a Christian perspective. I was wrong. On January 23, 2013, Zachery Oliver contacted me. His initial correspondence sparked what has become a collaborative friendship. Zach and I have since launched Theology Gaming University (TGU). A Facebook group dedicated to open discussions on faith, life, and videogames.

I want to take a moment to invite you to join our growing community. Come ready to be challenged in your faith and your perspective on gaming. 2015 is going to be a great year for TGU, so come join us!

The Binding of Isaac

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Ever since its release at the end of September 2011, I have found myself interested in Team Meat’s The Binding of Isaac. What has interested me about this game is not the gameplay but the unconventional world in which the game takes place. Take a moment and read about the game’s story from the wikipedia entry below:

The Binding of Isaac’s plot is a spinoff of the bible story with the same name.[3] Isaac, a child, and his Mother live in a small house on a hill, both happily keeping to themselves, with Isaac drawing pictures and playing with his toys, and his mother watching Christian Broadcasts on the Television. Isaac’s mother then hears “a voice from above”, stating her son is corrupted with sin, and needs to be saved. It asks her to remove all that was evil from Isaac, in an attempt to save him. His mother obliges, taking away his toys, pictures, game console and even his clothes.

The voice once again speaks to Isaac’s mother, stating he must be cut off from all that is evil in the world. Once again, his mother obliges, and locks Isaac inside his room.

Once more, the voice speaks to Isaac’s mother. It states she has done well, but it still questions her devotion, and requests she sacrifice her son. She obliges, grabbing a kitchen knife, and walking to Isaac’s room. Isaac, watching through a sizeable crack in his door, starts to panic. He finds and enters a trapdoor, just before his mother opens his bedroom door. Isaac then puts the paper he was drawing on onto his wall, which becomes the title screen.

In every culture or community there are extremes, fringe groups that display a hardcore devotion to their cause. Growing up, I lived in a small middle class community. I remember coming into contact with those who were a bit extreme in their ideals. Whether it was the Mormon family who disciplined to the point of abuse or the Christian family who would literally take all their kids things away as punishment, I have heard and seen much. Which is why it is not too surprising to read about the “mother” in The Binding of Isaac. I think at some point or another, we have all come in contact with a parent of this nature and perhaps haven’t even realized it.

Game review site Gamespot calls the The Binding of Isaac “dark”, “twisted”, “demented”, and yet “enjoyable”. In the midst of it’s dark nature, I openly wonder if the game’s scenario is inspired off of an actual person or situation in one of the developer’s lives. Something I’ll never know.

What I do know, is that Team Meat’s “spinoff” in no way reflects the Biblical account of God testing Abraham, besides “Isaac’s mother’s” devotion being tested. Genesis 22 recounts the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his only son. If you read it you’ll notice that the point of the story is not only that Abraham trusted God (by his willingness to sacrifice his only son) but that God provides the sacrifice. This story is a mirror to the greater story coursing through our history, that God seeks to redeem us through the death and resurrection of his son.

Focusing on the fringes of Christianity, on someone as crazy as “Isaac’s mother”, may help make a great game world. However, Team Meat missing the entire point of God testing Abraham is a bit sad in that the many who play this game will walk away with a false understanding of the binding of Isaac and history.

Selective Love

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In the years that Jesus Christ ministered on Earth, he only loved on those that had pink hair. He specifically sought out the pink-headed ones in order to:

  • Heal them
  • Drive demons out of them
  • Love them unconditionally

To the others, to those that lacked pink hair, he intentionally ignored them. *Just ignore John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world…) and the entire Bible for the above to be true. 🙂

For at the least the past month, maybe longer, I have stopped going to the Highway 80 Bible Study my church leads every Sunday afternoon. Part of the reason I have quit going is simply a matter of convenience. I have had too many family gatherings, medical issues, and other excuses come up during the 4-5pm Bible study time. Sometimes it is nice to just relax and enjoy a Sunday afternoon nap with my wife. Who can argue with that?

Justifications aside, I had a friend send me an email the other day in which he talked about loving on other people. The email made me realize that I am selectively sharing my love, Christ’s love, for other people. In a way, I am prohibiting the work that Christ can do through me. I have become an ambassador of Christ that likes to hide away in the Christian embassy.

I am not proud of my sudden isolation. I dislike knowing that I am prohibiting potential blessings on others due to my lack of faithfulness. Just need to figure out how to get back on the horse. Regardless of my Bible study attendance, I need to be actively sharing Christ’s love outside of my comfort zone.