Thursday, April 17, 2014

Classic: Maundy Thursday

...also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday and Thursday of Mysteries, is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. (wikipedia)
The "Maundy", by the way, is from the Latin word Mandatum and refers to Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.

So, now that we've got the definitions out of the way... a simple question.


Why do we meet to remember the last meal Jesus had with his closest followers before he was put on trial, tortured & crucified?

I can think of two reasons:
  1. Jesus told us to. "And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22: 19 NASB)
  2. I need the reminder.
Seriously... in the busyness of work & marriage & parenting, it's easy for me to gloss over the incredible sacrifice of Christ. Slowing down to taste the dry unleavened bread and feel the fruit of the vine as it rolls down my throat becomes a very tangible way to get off the proverbial merry-go-round of life & look into Jesus' eyes.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Drive-By Game Reviews: April 2014

Buccaneer Bones (3 plays)This is a very light but quite enjoyable dice game with some decision-making (though not too much). It has gone over very well with the non-gamer part of my family… which I think is really the intended audience. (And I just received the expansion set in the mail, which will let it play with up to 8 players... another plus for family/social gaming.)

DC Deckbuilding Game (25 plays): Yes, I've played this 25 times since December 25th... I'm not saying it's the next Puerto Rico, but I enjoy it a lot, as do many of the folks I game with on a regular basis. It doesn't hurt, of course, that I was a huge DC Comics fan back in my collecting days.

The game system is a deckbuilder in the lineage of Ascension - but simpler and much more accessible to folks who aren't hardcore gamers. 

Lord of the Rings Living Card Game (1 pla with the base set): I have avoided the Living Card Game model like it was covered in bubonic plague germs - I could see visions of me spending my kids' college fund to make sure I had the most recent adventure pack.

But when Son the Younger (Collin) began expressing interest in trading card games, I quickly worked to side-step him into the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game. I had two reasons:
  1. the theme (Lord of the Rings) is much more Mom-acceptable than Magic: The Gathering
  2. the LCG model doesn't feed the whole Poke-crack "buy a pack, open it, sell useless cards to subsidize the next pack" cycle.
So, a few weeks ago Collin received the base set - and it's been a hit with both he and his older brother. He hasn't done much with the deck-building aspect yet, but he's enjoying the structure of the game and has "big plans" for building a Spirit deck.

I've played one game (with Collin giving me advice) of the most basic scenario - and it's a really great solitaire/cooperative system. I don't know that I'll ever get into the deck-building side of the game, but with Collin in place to build me a deck, I'm good to go.

Relic Runners (3 plays, review copy provided): Another beautiful-to-look-at production from the good folks at Days of Wonder... and another family-friendly game that won't cause gamer types to run screaming from the room. I enjoyed it with 2, 3 and 4 players - the puzzle-y aspect is interesting but not overwhelming. Comparisons to Ticket to Ride are unfair, unless you're talking about relative difficulty... the route-planning issues are very different here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

aka (former) pastor guy

I started writing this blog on April 1st, 2005... and from the beginning the "tagline" at the top of this blog has read:

Everything including the kitchen sink... but with special attention paid to board games, Jesus Christ, my family, being a "professional" (and I use that word loosely) Christian, and the random firing of the 10% of the synapses I'm currently using.
As of January 2013, one element of that changed: I resigned my position as pastor of NewLife Community Church and stopped - at least for the foreseeable future - being a "professional" (and I'm still using that word loosely) Christian.
It's been a tough and not altogether welcome transition. The vast majority of my training, experience & expertise are in teaching, preaching & leading Southern Baptist churches: 13 years as a youth pastor and nearly 15 years as a lead pastor.
Yes, I've worked other jobs (warehouse, fulfillment, call center... and most recently computer tech support & software documentation) - but they've always been "way station" jobs. They've been money for rent & food while we wait for the next church to call me.
This was and is different.
The Question(s)
I know that whenever someone dropped out of ministry (yes, "dropped out" - it sounds like they left college, bought a beat-up VW Van and started driving around the country trying to get in touch with their inner child), I wanted to know the answer to one question: "Why?"
Well, two questions, actually:
  • "Why did you leave your church?"
  • "Why did you leave ministry?"
Sometimes I wanted to know so I could pray for them... but chances are pretty good that I wanted to know so I could either
(a) avoid the trap they'd fallen into, or
(b) pat myself on the back that I hadn't done the same thing.
It's a short (and dangerous) trip from "Man, I bet he's hurting" to "Well, that's what you get when you're not as spiritually/emotionally solid as people like me". Pride is a pandemic & no one is immune.
The Answer(s)
So, as I answer (sort of) those questions, I encourage you to pray not only for me & my family, but for your pastor/ministry staff as well.
Question the First
Why did you leave NewLife?
Honestly, that's really a question better answered one-on-one rather than in the context of a blog post. That doesn't mean it's a bad question - it's just not one I'm going to answer in detail here.
I wrote a post earlier this year about some writing from Jen Hatmaker that encapsulated what I was feeling that may gave you more insight - it's entitled Kenny Rogers, Toffee & a Hatmaker.
What I will say is that I chose to resign without a specific place of ministry to move to, there was no moral issues involved, it was a long & heartbreaking process to reach the decision... and that I miss pastoring NewLife Community Church.
Question the Second
Why did you leave "the ministry"?
The answer to this "why?" is not a simple one. First & foremost, it's the result of a great deal of prayer & wise counsel. Multiple folks from various parts of our lives encouraged both Shari & I to rest and heal.
We had the privilege of attending a Ministering to Ministers Healthy Transitions retreat in July 2013 and once again had our decision to step away affirmed by people who had a great deal of experience with ministers & forced termination. (Forced termination, by the way, can cover everything from being outright fired by a church to simply choosing to resign due to negative pressures & abuse.)
In addition, Shari & I had to choose what was best for the two of us and for our boys. Our first responsibility is to be spiritually & emotionally healthy parents to Braeden & Collin - and, at this point in our lives, that is most likely if we are not subject to the unique pressures & stresses of congregational ministry. 
What's Next?
I don't know.
Well, that's not entirely true. My 2 month temporary employment (my mouthful of a job title was "Legislative Aide to the Windows7 / Office 2010 Upgrade Project") extended out to 8 months... and this last week, I moved from the Legislative to the Executive branch to become the Deputy Executive Director of Assessment Logistics at the TN Department of Education. I'm overwhelmed (but in a good way) by the job... it's a great opportunity and a big challenge, all rolled into one.
We've found a fantastic church - and, in a move that will make our friends from the church @ hickory hollow days laugh, are a part of the set-up/tear-down team. Braeden's in the youth group (yes, I'm officially old) and we've beginning to find a small group fit.
What I don't know is what's next as far as vocational ministry goes. I keep praying... and wondering. And then some more praying. It would be great if you joined me in the whole prayer thing.
So, "aka pastor guy"?
I've struggled a bit with changing the name of this blog - since I'm not actually a "pastor guy" anymore. I've come up with two possible choices:
  • aka (former) pastor guy
  • the artist formerly known as aka pastor guy
But after some extended thought & prayer, I think I'm going to leave it. Whether or not I'm financially compensated for the work of being a pastor, I still have a calling to speak and live the truth of the gospel of grace and the death & resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether I'm a civil servant working with testing data or a gamer trying to roll all sixes when my forces attack Kamchatka, I'm still Mark Jackson, aka pastor guy.
The ultimate aim of the Christian minister is to produce the love which springs from a pure heart, a good conscience and a genuine faith. (1 Timothy 1:5, Phillips)

Friday, April 04, 2014


This is a jaw-dropping flat-out amazing paint job on a favorite game of mine - Franz Benno DeLonge's Big City. (It was created by Holger E... and you can see the original picture on BGG.)

If you want to read more about Big City, you can check out my Top 100 posting (it was #33) or my Game Central Station post about the game.

Thursday, April 03, 2014


It's been a wild week... and the blog has suffered. So, an explanation, followed by a quick sprint through some topics of interest. 

The Explanation

I have a new job with the Tennesse Department of Education... 

The Gathering 

...which explains why I (sob whimper) won't be at Alan Moon's Gathering of Friends this year. And why I won't get to have the first pick off the Prize Table that I "own" thanks to winning the Can't Stop tournament last year. 

Why, yes, I'm bummed - thanks for asking. 

The Kickstarter

Today is the LAST day to jump on the Baseball Highlights 2045 Kickstarter!

You should support this. So say I all. 

The Movies

Don't Stop Believing - Everyman's Journey is a disjointed but enjoyable documentary about the lead singer they found via YouTube. Arnel Pineda is a great vocalist & seems to be pretty grounded... which makes this more fun to watch than your average "Behind the Music" band bio. 

Frozen has more in common w/a Broadway musical than it does most animated films. That's not a bad thing - our family had a great time watching it. 

Thor: The Dark World had problems - impenetrable plot twists & nonsensical "technology" - but it was still a lot of fun to watch in a pulp-y comix kind of way. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

I Had a Plan...

...but real life interfered. 

I was going to use the excuse of MLB's Opening Day to

(a) promote the Kickstarter for Mike Fitzgerald's new game, BASEBALL HIGHLIGHTS 2045. 

(b) note that Mike's classic Mystery Rummy games are coming back into print, thanks to the aforementioned Kickstarter. 

But instead, I'm standing in line at the county clerk's office, trying to register my Chevy Malibu. 

This is, BTW, one of my birthday gifts to my wonderful wife. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Tennessee Bicentennial Rap Song

The title says it all... back in 1996, the Tennessee State Legislature actually acclaimed the following ditty as the official "State Rap Song".
Oh, how proud we are of thee!
Volunteer State since 1812 -
Glad our fathers picked here to dwell! 
Presidents, Presidents - proud are we!
Jackson, Polk, and Johnson - three!
Crockett, Forrest, and John Sevier;
Alvin York and Hull lived here! 
Baker, Gores, and Kefauver,
Served our country with honor!
U.T., Memphis and Vandy U.,
Tennessee Tech and Sewanee, too! 
Appalachian Mountains, mountains high -
Reaching up in the smoky sky!
Tennessee River, flowing through -
We will cross near the Choo Choo! 
Dollywood and Walking Horse Show!
Opryland and the Opry Show!
Whisky, whisky - sipping smooth -
Moon, Moon Pies and Goo Goo Goos! 
Reelfoot Lake and cotton fields,
Natchez Trace and Civil War fields!
Mocking birds and raccoons grow,
And tulip poplars and iris show! 
Bessie Smith and Memphis blues -
W.C. Handy and Elvis, too!
Eastman, Oak Ridge, and TVA -
Nissan, Saturn, and Country Music pay! 
Chickasaw, Sequoyah, and Cherokee -
Cumberland Plateau and Mississippi!

There's some problems... it's dated, of course - Saturn no longer exists, nor does the Opryland amusement park. And the repetition of "whisky, whisky" and "Moon, Moon Pies" sounds like we're stuttering. (Perhaps this could be explained by our diet of hard liquor and overly rich candy-like substances.)

But just try and rap it. It's horrible.

I apologize profusely for my inability to find a sound file or video of this.