Fatherhood has taught me forgiveness

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The whole concept of a dad can be challenging for some men. Many have grown up without having a dad in their life. Some of us even had dads that had to work outside of the home, for days on end, to support the family. Anger, resentment, and even a quest to fill that dad-shaped hole can occur.

I am thankful for the men that God brought into my life, as my dad was out working to provide for our family.

I am thankful for my Grandpa Ayers. For him sharing his love for the outdoors, radio controlled everything, and tabletop games. For showing me and my brother that slingshots, knives, and guns are cool toys (when properly respected) to play with. I’ll never forget our late nights playing Chess OR my Grandpa letting my brother and I build our own fires (FIRE!). His unexpected death at 60 years of age still haunts me in some ways. I have found that grief is ever changing but forever there. I am thankful for the time he invested in my siblings and I; thankful for the time that I got to spend with him.

Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

For the longest time, I retreated into negative emotions concerning my own dad. Unable to see the bigger picture of what it means to provide… unable (still unable) to see through the family fog-of-war of the example his dad left him with when it came to interacting with family. For years, even as an adult, I’ve wanted more from my dad… But I’ve learned that whatever it is I have wanted from him, I have built into my relationship with Wyatt. Letting the past go, letting anger go, has allowed me to see my dad for who he is instead of who I wanted him to be.

My dad, Steven, is an amazing guy. He is funny, insightful, and a hard worker. The older I get, the more I appreciate him AND realize how much I am like him. I wish I had been able to push past what is deemed, in Christian circles, as a “father wound” sooner. Arriving at a point where I can accept my dad for who he is is priceless. Being able to see the bigger picture, where other men were allowed to step in and teach me and my siblings, and not resent that, is liberating.

All of the above to say, Father’s Day is this weekend. Chuck Lawless reposted a piece this morning that resonated with me titled “8 Reflections on Being Childless and Celebrating Father’s Day“. I encourage you to check it out.

These greeting card holidays can stir the emotions!

Happy early Father’s Day.

Discipleship and Online Communities

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11049542_990975067580576_2183769705003188231_nOn the side, I work as a Community Manager for Theology Gaming University (TGU). We are an intimate Facebook Group that enjoys healthy debates, Jesus-infused conversations, and videogames that challenge both our skills and thinking.

I recently shared this quote and response with the group:

“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When I think of discipleship, I think of The Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Discipleship is something we do as we GO. Discipleship is active and ongoing. For the TGU Community, this means keeping Christ at the forefront of our conversations. That we aren’t simply here to talk about videogames but to challenge each other in faith and life.

How does one challenge/sharpen iron with another online? I think this is far easier than any of us think. I have grown, as a Christian, due to members of our group. I have learned that there is far more nuance, differing cultural perspectives, and grace than I once thought. Our denominational differences have allowed me to see Christ in videogames where I didn’t think He existed (thinking of my friend Josh and Journey).

This is the purpose and unspoken mission statement of Theology Gaming University, personal growth. Whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian, I hope our discussions cause you to pause and think.

I love our community and the respect that we have for one another, despite all coming from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. If you have not yet joined TGU, I want to personally invite you to come be a part the discussion.

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The Highs And Lows

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21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing. – 1 Kings 18:21 (NIV)

The showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal ended with God answering with fire from the heavens. The people believed that the Lord is God on that day and the prophets of Baal were slaughtered. The Kishon Valley ran with the blood of four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. God had answered Elijah’s prayer in verses 36 and 37:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

God answered another prayer that day, as a heavy rain began to fall, ending what had been a severe drought.

What did Elijah do after standing up for the Lord? He ran (vv. 45-46) and soon begged to die (19:4).

while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

He will meet you where you are.

I am not sure where you are in your journey in life. I am not sure whether you are on a mountain, like Elijah, experiencing a closeness to God. You know that He is 100% there. I am not sure whether you are down in a valley, like Elijah, feeling a part from God and perhaps wanting to just give up. Check out how Elijah’s account continues:

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.There he went into a cave and spent the night.

Note that God takes care of Elijah by meeting his needs, where he is. I take comfort in the fact that God will also take care of me when I am walking through a valley. When I am ready to give up and call it quits He will give me the strength to continue onward…if I ask.

Building The Perfect PlayStation 3 Library

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PlayStation 3 Logo

Just as Jor-El knew that Krypton’s days were numbered, I too can see the end of PlayStation 3 games being available for purchase. Below you will find a list of all the PlayStation 3 games I have owned/played. Are there any games missing from this list, that you would recommend, that I should hunt down and acquire? The perfect PS3 library must be built.

  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Assassin’s Creed II
  • Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood
  • Assassin’s Creed II: Revelations
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Bit.Trip Runner 2
  • Burnout Paradise
  • Dragon Age Origins
  • Dragon Age 2
  • Ducktales Remastered
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Flower
  • Guacamelee
  • Journey
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Lego Lord of the Rings
  • Lego Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Little Big Planet
  • Mass Effect Trilogy
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
  • PixelJunk Eden
  • PixelJunk Monsters
  • PixelJunk Racers
  • Quantum Conundrum
  • Rayman Origins
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Risk Factions
  • Shadow of the Colossus HD
  • Skylanders Giants
  • Skylanders SWAP Force
  • Skyrim
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Uncharted Trilogy
  • Wheel of Fortune

The Colossus of Patience

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I do not consider myself a patient man. I do not like the journey. I would much rather instantly arrive at the destination fully equipped to do what needs to be done. Perhaps this is part of my nature being a first born child? I can tell you though, that life is all about patience; life is all about the journey and waiting.

Recently, I’ve been playing through Shadow of the Colossus on the PS3. The game is about taking down monolithic giants in order to save the girl you love. Each of the giant’s deaths brings you closer to the day when she will awaken…or does it?

In defeating these in-game giants, I am slowly being taught patience. The game demands that you study your enemy. That you know how the colossi move, where their weaknesses are, etc. In learning about each colossi, the player eventually learns how to climb and annihilate each of them. Climbing is no easy task when you are climbing up a moving skyscraper. This is where the aforementioned patience comes into play. As the colossi moves, the player has the potential to lose grip and fall. If you get greedy, your greed will be rewarded with having to re-climb the colossi again. Sometimes climbing these creatures is easy; othertimes the experience is the worst thing in the world.

I never thought I’d have a video game teach me about patience. So far though, Shadow of the Colossus has done just that.

A Worthless Journey

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” What happens though when the journey is beautiful but mundane and the destination turns out to be a complete waste of time?

This past weekend I journeyed through the lands of Journey on the PS3. When all was said and done, I had no clue what had just happened or what I had just played. So, I took to Wikipedia to make sense of my experience. The Wikipedia entry only confirmed my suspicions that not much had just happened. To further illustrate this, the following is a quote from the developer’s web site:

Journey is an interactive parable, an anonymous online adventure to experience a person’s life passage and their intersections with other’s.

I can admit that I thought it was cool to travel across the desert, plunge into the dark depths of despair, and finally rise above a wintry landscape onto the mountaintop of hope. What I disliked about the game was it’s stark simplicity. The interactions with other players, while nice, especially in the dark depths, were pointless. Beyond the amazing stylized graphics and tight game play, the narrative journey of Journey fell short to me. If Journey was a movie, I’d be asking for my $15 back.