Church Attendance is a Discipline

Standard

The Coronavirus has wounded the American Church in a way that many cannot see yet. As social distancing measures lift and other post-pandemic precautions ease, some Christians are hesitant to return to the Church. Presented with the convenience of watching a worship service on Facebook or YouTube, many believers are making the intentional choice to stay at home. Telling themselves, “The virus is still out there, we still need to protect ourselves for another month or two.” Happy in their newfound sermon consumption that doesn’t require one to ever leave the home. Or better yet, require them to sit with their kids in the worship service due to the church’s children’s program not being up and running.

Photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

Meanwhile, In Social Media Land…

  • I can see that you recently volunteered on a project.
  • I can see that you went and visited the zoo.
  • I can see that you are hanging out with friends and family.
  • I can see you doing all of these things, and yet, I haven’t seen your happy face at church.

Gathering with fellow believers, attending church, this is a Christian discipline. What I have hated seeing, in these pandemic times, is how quickly that discipline has been let go; convenience and inconvenience pushing against one another.

I am not advocating for fellow believers to come back to church in order to check a box. I am advocating for fellow believers to come, grow, and encourage other believers with your presence.

I keep asking myself, “Is Jesus enough of a commonality to hold believers together in these times?” My answer is of course, Jesus is enough. But, I think these pandemic times are revealing who church attendance is important to.

  • Our Time
  • Our Talents
  • Our Treasures

All of these things communicate to both the world and our fellow believers where our priorities lie.

I want to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to push past their preferences and convenience. The withdrawal of your presence is hurting others, silently wounding the Church in the process. Please do not let being in the habit of attending church slip away and become your new normal. Your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ miss you.

I miss you too.

The End of a Father / Son Tradition – Pokémon Sword and Shield

Standard

The release of Pokémon Sword & Shield today, on the Nintendo Switch, marks an end of an era for my son Wyatt and I.

Pokémon Sword & Shield

We first started playing Pokémon games together with the release of Pokémon X & Y–he had to have been in kindergarten, although I’m thinking more first grade.–. Armed with our 3DS systems, we’d encourage and compete against each other while playing through our separate games. Spending evenings battling each other to see who had the strongest Pokémon. I’d like to say that I won most of those matches, but I’d be lying. Wyatt is one tough Pokémon Trainer to beat.

I’ve been playing the Pokémon games since the original Pokémon Red & Blue debuted in the United States in 1998–crazy to think that I’ve been playing the same series for over two decades!–. I have owned and put time into:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Diamond
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • Pokémon Black
  • Pokémon Y
  • Pokémon Moon

Across all of those hours spent catching Pokémon, I somehow never managed to complete a single game. Playing with Wyatt gave me the competitive edge I needed to push through. Pokémon Y was my first Pokémon game to see through to the credits. I thank my son for the accomplishment of FINALLY finishing a Pokémon game. All I wanted to do was crush a little boy’s dreams by finishing the game first, typical dad stuff, right? (Wyatt won, btw.)

We moved on and battled through Pokémon Sun & Moon. At some point, hours upon hours into the game, I gave up. Wyatt went ahead and finished the game. He then completed the follow up, Pokémon Ultra Sun, by himself. We still battled in the evenings. Nothing like Pokémon fighting between a father and son.

Pokémon Sun & Moon

With the release of Pokémon Sword & Shield, Nintendo has shifted the main series from the 3DS to the Nintendo Switch. In our house, we have a single Nintendo Switch console. I think that it is silly to buy another system just for the privilege of being able to play a Pokémon game. I will miss the memories and competition between Wyatt, our Pokémon, and I. Never forgetting the lesson that:

Kids have a ton of more time to play video games than a working adult. Never compete against a kid when time is required, Bryan, you’ll lose!

Coming to the end here, I am reminded of how long I’ve been playing video games with Wyatt. How I only have 8 years left with him until he graduates from high school… I hope we continue to play games together in some fashion; I can’t wait to show and introduce him to more.

Fatherhood has taught me forgiveness

Standard

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.

Homecoming: Why are video games so hard to come back to?

Standard

A long time ago (2014), in a living room far far away, I asked Wyatt to help me create my Dragon Age: Inquisition character.

Me on my throne.

We created a:

  • Scrawny Elf
  • With a facial tattoo that covers his entire face
  • Who carries a two-handed sword
  • And has a deep voice

I loved playing as him.

I sunk hours into Dragon Age: Inquisition until I hit the wall and got stuck in the game. At this point, I am sure, a new game entered my orbit, and I blasted away from my elf and the inquisition.

My throne room.

I loaded Dragon Age: Inquisition once more last night. Combat/gameplay rhythms were unfamiliar after being away from the game for so long. My elf had not changed… but I have.

Unlike reading multiple books at the same time, I think video games are harder not to play fully invested in. With big AAA games, I tend to forget about the:

  • Controls (muscle memory does help with skill-based games)
  • Story (I’m thankful for the games that feature a story recap)
  • How much I cared/was invested in characters

So I wanted to ask you:

  1. How long is too long to come back to a game?
  2. At what point do you give up/delete/move on because you simply do not care anymore?

Let me know in the comments below!

Finishing Well

Standard

Estimating how long a project will take to complete can be tricky. A daily balancing act between management expectations and actual time needed. A decade into managing a front office, I hear these conversations throughout the day:

“How long is this going to take you?”

“About an hour?”

“Good. Do it.”

An hour goes by and the project is not completed; another hour goes by and the project wraps up over time. Interruptions, not wanting to displease management, all factor into unrealistic time estimates. We all want to make a good impression, so why do we low-ball ourselves with time?

In his book Finish, Jon Acuff writes:

Have you ever wondered why 92 percent of people fail at their goals?

Because we tend to set goals that are foolishly optimistic.

Scientists call this “planning fallacy,” a concept first studied by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. They described this problem as “a phenomenon in which predictions about how much time will be needed to complete a future task display an optimism bias and underestimate the time needed.” (page 21, Finish

Acuff continues with an example of college students polled to see how long they think it will take to finish their theses. With poll results showing the students undercut themselves by as much as half. We all do this everyday whether it’s underestimating time on a project for work or setting life goals. Optimism blinds us to the reality of time work takes to complete.

Where are you not giving yourself enough time to finish well?

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.

From Across the Net: “Time well wasted”

Standard

Justin, aka “Syp”, reflects on time in his piece titled “Time well wasted“.

I don’t want to hobble my personal and professional life with an overabundance of gaming. I hope that I always keep up the good fight of balancing that properly and not letting a hobby become a thing that becomes a master. I also desire to play games with purpose and not out of obligation and routine.

I’m ready for the weekend!

Standard

Today has been one of those days. The hours have slowly crept by. No matter how many times I glance at the clock the clock hands have barely moved. I just want the day to end. I’m ready to go home, straighten up what needs to be straightened up, and spend time with family. This has been a long week for me. How about you?

This past week has marked the first week my wife is back at work after summer break. I absolutely miss coming home to a house that is occupied with the two people I love most in life. My lunch breaks have been quiet and solitary. Which isn’t all that bad but still, I miss my family.

At the age of 31, I am not exactly where I thought I’d be by now:

  • My body looks nothing like Daniel Craig’s in Casino Royale.
  • I have yet to move on from a job position I have spent almost 5 years in that features no upward promotional path.
  • I still haven’t ridden every single roller coaster in North America.

One day I will move forward and achieve these things but today is not that day. Right now, I just want to go home for the weekend. How about you?

The Onion Layers of Time

Standard

As I posted yesterday, the book Quitter is really make me re-consider different things in my life. Amazingly, Jon Acuff has been able to put into words things that I have thought about but have never been able to articulate.

As we advance in years, I believe that we all wish that we would personally be able to grow and mature with time as well. For some, growth and maturity are unattainable due to personal life choices; for others, growing in maturity and stature are a knowingly made decision.

Before I was married, I had all the time in the world to pursue what I wanted to pursue. If I wanted to go out with friends for coffee at 2am, I could. If I wanted to sit down and play a videogame every evening, for hours on end, I could do so as well. I was a free man and time was all mine.

As I dated and was soon married, my time quickly became our time. No longer did I have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I had to now take my wife into consideration. What did she want to do? What could we do together? There was nothing wrong or bad about this change in the way I spent my time. Like an onion, I had simply discovered a new layer of personal depth; like an onion, my time had also grown thinner in peeling away that new layer.

The birth of our son set into motion the equation of: my time + our time = his time.

Age, growth and maturity force us to constantly evaluate the things that matter to us. Are we spending our free time pursuing the things that we love or the things that we simply like? This got me thinking about videogames and my constant struggle to figure out where they place in my life. Do I love them or just like them? Are they keeping me from pursuing the things that I love?

What about you?