Change My Default Setting

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While reading this morning, I caught this towards the end of Galatians 1:

21 After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. 23 All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” 24 And they praised God because of me.

We live in a culture that is skeptical. Daily, we are bombarded with news cycles which are hyped-up and presented as entertainment. In our communities, we bump into the super skeptical–the Moon landing never happened!–. We live in a time where our discernment muscles are worked to a fatigue. This causes many of us to be swept along with the cultural tide, bobbing along the surface of noise.

Photo by Ryan Pernofski on Unsplash

If our world is skeptical, Christian culture can even be more so. I think back, a few months ago, to Kanye West’s “supposed” conversion. Twitter was a mess with Christians initially calling his new relationship with Christ false. How many times have we done that ourselves with those in our own churches? I am not calling for blind acceptance here, we need to be wise. But I can’t imagine how our modern Christian culture would react to someone like the Apostle Paul. The churches in Christ that were in Judea behaved this way (verses 23-24):

23 All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” 24 And they praised God because of me.

Which makes me ask:

  • Do we praise God when we hear about a brother or sister coming to Christ?
  • Is our first reaction one where we are skeptical? Taking a “we’ll just see how this turns out” approach?

Personally, I want to react with awe and wonder at what God has done and is doing. I am not 100% there yet though. Being honest, I am skeptical most of the time. Nevertheless, I want God to change my default setting.

From Across the Net – “What Does Your Dad Do?”

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This one is worth the read. Reminds me that the more I’ve learned to see/love my dad for who he is, the better my relationship with him has become.

Photo by Revolver Creative Company on Unsplash

My dad was a truck driver. Gone for a few days; home for a few days. A hard worker.

In an exhausted world that measures our worth by our performance; I want to learn to ask better questions. After all, what we do is not always an indication of what we’re like. Our output and achievements are not a reflection of our inner heart and character. Outward success does not necessarily equate to generosity, wisdom or courage.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Hey Church: A Fallow Year Ain’t A Bad Idea”

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I liked this:

We look at the busy culture and rather than be counter-cultural to busy, in order to defang it in the long term by building non-busy practices into the lives of our people, we decide that we will allow the culture to set the rules of the game – busy, busy, busy- then play by their rules.

You can read more here

Romance Is a Bonus Book

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While out in California, I had a chance to spend some time with my youngest sister, Rachelle. She got telling me about how her and her husband watch Korean soap operas together. They enjoy the dramatic stories that are clean, content-wise. Shell gave me a list of shows to check out on Netflix that included:

  • Abyss
  • Beating Again
  • Man to Man
  • Romance Is a Bonus Book

Tab and I were bored one night. All of our regular TV shows are on hiatus for the summer (NCIS, Hawaii Five-O, Madam Secretary). So we decided to check out what my sports-loving brother-in-law is cool with watching with my sister… I just can’t picture him watching THIS:

A gifted writer who’s the youngest editor-in-chief ever at his publishing company gets enmeshed in the life of a former copywriter desperate for a job.

Overall, Tab and I have been surprised by the show. I have found the story of a 38 year old woman going back into the workforce, after taking time out/off to be a mom/wife, to be both sweet and sad. Reminds me that life does not always go the way we plan… but the key here is the way the main protagonist reacts to her diverging path. She has hope and doesn’t think menial tasks to be below her.

I have loved listening to the Korean language while reading the subtitles. Super relaxing! The biggest personal drawback, for me, has been that the episodes are a little over an hour long. I like my shows to be within the 45 minute range. Allows me to often watch two shows, back-to-back, sans guilt.

If you are looking for something completely different, looking to switch up your media buffet, I suggest trying out Romance Is a Bonus Book. You’ll end up experiencing a new culture without having to step a foot outside your house.

Someone, Please Save Us, Us College Kids

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During my junior college years, I listened to “College Kids”, by Relient K, on repeat:

Someone, please save us, us college kids!
What my parents told me is what I did
They said, “Go to school and be a college kid.”
But, in the end, I questioned why I did

I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I knew I wanted more than the part time restaurant job I was working. Surely there was more to life than general level college courses, commuting, and serving food/busing tables. Add on top of that friends moving away for school, girls/dating, and not being sure of who I was in the church (or the church having a clue of who I was)… this was a huge transitory time for me.

(Oh no!) Not for me, not for me
Call it torture, call it university
(No!) Arts and Crafts is all I need
I’ll take calligraphy and then I’ll make a fake degree

I am thankful for those that God stirred up and called into my life during that time. He is faithful. I just didn’t always see His faithfulness as I clearly do now in retrospect. Little did I know that He was preparing me for bigger things. Bigger things like:

  • Moving away from all that I ever knew (family, friends, etc.).
  • Texas. TEXAS. The shock of Southern/Bible Belt culture.
  • My wife. I met her within a month of moving/going to school.

For those in this period of transition, the church (as a whole) does little to help with the confusion. Once students leave the comfort and safety of the youth group, they are launched into church oblivion. This oblivion is somewhere between graduating high school and marriage. The church, inadvertently, preaches that marriage is the pinnacle; once married, growing a family becomes the next prize to be won. But where does that leave those in college? Forgotten.

Eighty grand later, I found out that all that I had learned
Is that you should show up to take your finals and your mid-terms
The party scene is kind of mean; I think it’s sick and twisted
The Navy showed up at my door and claimed that I enlisted

Some churches see the need and build college, young professional, and singles ministries (all of these are totally different ministries that should not be paired together) to bridge the gap till marriage. I am thankful for churches who see this need.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

College kids want to be recognized, listened to, and accepted in the church. They do not want to be treated as second-class citizens who serve as babysitters. Nor do they want to be treated as the “forgotten”, in-between singleness and marriage. We, as the Church, have to do more. We need to change the messages we are silently/subtly preaching through our actions. We also need to point to the stable foundation that is Scripture. College students are hungry for truth (scripture), faith that has depth, and delicious food. And maybe even a chance to come over, hang out, and wash their clothes.

We can do better. I’ve learned that Satan speaks into the silent places the church doesn’t. So let us speak and do.

Kickstarting ReElise

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Justin Fox is a longtime friend I met through Theology Gaming University (TGU). He just launched a Kickstarter for his game, ReElise, a Hip-Hop RPG. Justin hopes to not only fund his dream but start a movement.

How did your values influence your game, ReElise?

The game started out about race. Mostly a coming of age story. Just exploring culture and how people deal with them. When I got saved (gave my life to Christ) the story completely changed. It became a story about how God can make dry bones live again. However the theme of race still plays a role in that it serves no real role in the story. The main character is a black female…. that is all. Sometimes, it’s just not important in contrast to the big plot, and it shouldn’t always be a plot to insert a person’s views on an almost ageless problem so they can be the guy who “figured out how we can get along”. It’s a problem of classifying people as ” those people ” and that’s not going away. Ever.

ReElise

What exactly is a Hip-Hop RPG?

There’s a lot more to the culture of Hip-Hop than violence, money and abuse of women. There’s dancing, style, language, AMAZING art, and some would even say theology that’s not focused on quite as much. It was supposed to be fun in the early days. I like fun things. A Hip-Hop RPG is a game that  leans into the dopeness that is Hip-Hop. I love it. I wanted it in there. I’m indie… so I do what I want I’m grown and sexy.

How long have you been working on the game and what have you learned?

Steadily for 4 years. I’ve been tinkering with it for roughly 7, but those were entirely different builds.

For me, it’s been the power of belief. Believing that something good can come out of an idea that’s not really been done before, and seeing how the power of that belief carried me through for 4 years. It’s a crazy thing. Not to mention how drastically my belief in Jesus changed the core of the game. Belief is really something else.

ReElise-Hip-Hop-Battles

Engage in epic rap battles.

What would you like to say to anybody thinking about backing ReElise on Kickstarter?

This is more of a movement than it is about just one game. Traditional gameplay but with very non-traditional stories as well as concepts (I mean this is a 2D, hand-animated, Hip-Hop, turned-based, Mature Christian RPG… with sprinkles… definitely unconventional). I’d like to subtly offer deeper things to my audience. I’m giving my audience the chance to simply play a great game, and offer them a deeper story that I truly hope will be beneficial to their lives if they care to look. We’ve just gotta get the colorists, programmers, editors, travel expenses, and advertisements out of the way for this project first. That way we can make this first project everything it needs to be!  There’ll be much much more to come with the support of backers.

Thanks, Justin, for giving us a slice of ReElise pie. We can’t wait to get a taste of your Hip-Hop RPG goodness.

If you’d like to back Justin’s work, check out his Kickstarter page.

Fight: Winning the Battles That Matter Most by Craig Groeschel

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“…within every man, God has planted a divine desire to fight for righteousness.” – Fight, p.13

As king of the flannelgraph boards, the Biblical/historical figure of Sampson is one that many a young boy wishes to be. Set apart by God from birth, Sampson is the original superhero. Fight, by pastor Craig Groeschel, examines the life of Sampson in parallel to the modern Christian male. Both have been created by God in His image; both are prone to utter and complete failure. Groeschel goes out of his way to point out that Sampson’s failures, like ours, are never due to one time events. Like the falling blocks in a game of Tetris, our decisions stack up and can eventually lead us down a road to ruin. However, like Sampson, we are never beyond God’s redemptive power.

Fight is organized into 3-4 page chapters. I enjoyed these easy to digest chunks of truth. My biggest and only complaint with the book was the unneeded machoism that permeates throughout. Much like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, Groeschel felt the need to add blanket gender assumptions such as:

“Think about it this way. There are two kinds of movies: chick flicks and, well, everything else. Do chick flicks inspire men? Do they make them want to be stronger, braver, better men?What about in Pride and Prejudice when Keira Knightley’s character says to her new husband, “You may only call me ‘Mrs. Darcy’ when you are completely and perfectly and incandescently happy.” And he responds with, “Then how are you this evening…Mrs. Darcy?” and kisses her on the forehead. And then, “Mrs. Darcy,” as he kisses her on the cheek. And then, “Mrs. Darcy,” as he kisses her on the nose. Again, if you’re a guy, you have no idea what I’m talking about right? Or if you do know, you’re trying hard to forget.” (page 14)

Despite comments such as the one found above, I enjoyed my time reading Fight. Craig does a fantastic job going beyond the Sampson depicted in Sunday school flannelgraphs and digs into the heart of what made him a man. I highly recommend this book.

I was given a copy of this book by BookSneeze. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Babysitter

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Awhile back, my brother-in-law came over and watched my son for the evening. Here is what my wife and I found on the driveway the next day…

Uncle Mike drew some ships...

Even my son got a ship.

My wife had written me a note on the driveway the day before. My brother-in-law took credit for it. 🙂

To cap it all off, my brother-in-law left my wife stranded at the very end of the driveway.