Friday, December 29, 2006
I like what I ate.
Except for the peas,
which are still on my plate. O, Lonely Peas,
so green, so round,
and so small.
O, Lonely Peas,
there's no one
who loves you at all.
There's no one
who loves you at all. I can't leave my place
till the peas are all gone.
At the rate I am going,
I'll be ninety-one. [chorus] Perhaps by some magic,
they'll all disappear --
...The peas are still here. [chorus] I'm growing quite fond
of these peas of my own.
So how could I eat them?
I'd be all alone. OH! [chorus]
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
- I'm not sure it's blasphemous... but I'm pretty sure it's in poor taste. (Taste - he he. I made a pun. A bad pun, but a pun nonetheless.)
- Why does Mary look like a badly made snowman?
- In the words of Homer Simpson, "Mmmmm... Jesus."
Monday, December 11, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
So, with either hubris or humility, I want to add these notes to the things I said. (Hey, you'll probably want to listen to the podcast before you read the rest of this... check it out at The Dice Tower. Or don't.)
On the whole question of "how do people respond to me being a pastor AND a gamer?":
- props to Jon Pessano, the guy who uttered the immortal line, "And you call yourself a pastor!" after being hosed over in Rette sich wer kann
- my congregation doesn't seem to be bothered a bit about my gaming... in fact, we had about 20 folks for a Family Game Night a few weeks ago
- over time, the most vehement questions I've had about my gaming have been in regards to fantasy-based themes, rather than games themselves
And then, Tom brought up the Christian board game question
- I sat here for a few minutes, thinking about printing a retraction - or at least a softening - of my comment that the Christian subculture has a tendency to create junk... but given a few minutes to think & pray about my response, I think it's spot on. For every work of brilliance (the art of Thomas Blackshear or the music of Derek Webb & Andrew Peterson) there's a truckload of insipid, uninspired crapola that is unloaded on people because they think these trinkets will work as "witnessing tools." (More on that in a minute.)
- That goes double for my comment that "every subculture creates merchandise that cater to the subculture" - and I then proceeded to call Trekkies "Trek fans", which means that I am now banned from ever making the Vulcan sign & saying "Live long & prosper" again.
- Some other subcultures - Whedon-ites, comic book fanboys, American Idol watchers, atheists, Catholics, lovers of hemp & the byproduct thereof, etc... look, there's no limit. Find a group of people with shared beliefs & practices... and you'll find someone trying to make a profit of them by exploiting their beliefs.
- I checked out a couple of our local Christian bookstores on Black Friday - and browsed their game sections. With the exception of some re-themed party games (Outburst, Apples to Apples, etc.) and Carcassonne: Ark of the Covenant, it's pretty much schlock-y Bible trivia games. Sigh.
- I wandered off on one of my favorite podcast tangents: it's OK for companies to make money re-theming games. The audience for NASCAR Monopoly is not the same market as the folks who'll snap up copies of Caylus or Age of Steam.
- I also touched on the inherent problem of reconciling Christian character & mores (compassion, kindness, gentleness, unity) with the typical structure of games. I didn't do a very good job of explaining that problem in regards to race games - esp. since many of the schlock-y games you see in Christian bookstores are race games. So, let me give it another shot: there is a difference between designing a standard roll'n'move race game (roll the dice, spin the spinner, answer a question to get a bonus) and creating an innovative race game with true interaction between players. That kind of interaction almost always involves some kind of direct negative play against another player - which doesn't "feel" Christian.
In a related question, Tom asked me if a game's theme can go "too far" and therefore shouldn't be played. I'm afraid that I may have sounded more spindoctor-ish than I intended here... so, let me try again.
- Everybody has a belief system of some sort, which includes ethical & moral considerations.
- If a game (or a movie or a book or whatever) violates those beliefs, you should not - if you want to stay true to your belief system - partake of it.
- Just because something does not fit your ethical or moral schema does not mean it should be outlawed for everyone else.
- Therefore, people are going to play games I think are morally reprehensible... I am under no obligation to play them nor are they under any obligation to avoid them because of my beliefs.
I also mentioned that I don't believe that Christianity is NECESSARILY a pacifistic religion... and then I referenced the idea of a "just war." I won't go any deeper into the theological side of that, but I think it's worth reading deeply on before you dismiss the idea.
The next topic was starting a game group in your church:
- Here I waxed "pastoral" for a minute and asked people to check in with the leadership of their church. (Can you sense some frustration over my 20+ years of ministry with "surprise" events & programs?)
- I also talked about how knowing your purpose (who are you trying to reach, insiders or outsiders?) helps define where you will meet, how you will be structured & what games you might play.
- Finally, I gave my standard "don't abuse your freedom" blurb regarding board games - just because I have the freedom in Christ to play Fury of Dracula doesn't mean that the graphics & theme wouldn't really bother some of the folks in my church. So, I choose not to flaunt those kinds of games at church events... but I don't hide them in a closet, either.
I got asked about the Apples Project... and pretty much everything I said there is on the Apples Project blog, which you should be reading anyway.
But Tom took us an interesting direction when he noticed that not only do the winners not match his votes most of the time (he he he) but they don't match the CW (conventional wisdom), either. I remarked on some reasons I thought that was true:
- For those of us who are long-time players (I started playing AH wargames nearly 30 years ago & bought my first "Euro" nearly 20 years ago), the newest games don't seem quite as shiny as the old games did when we first discovered them.
- As well, with a lot of long-time gamers on the Apple Pickers list, it's more likely that OOP (out of print) games will show up that aren't well known to the general public.
- At this point, I tried to be culturally relevant by mentioning late 80's U2 ("Van Diemen's Land", anyone?) and Nirvana... I understood my point, but I'm not sure anyone else did.
- And, yes, there probably is a bit of "choose odd things just to confound the masses" - but that's more likely to go on in the nomination process rather than the voting.
The interview concluded with Tom asking me to choose between Lost Cities & Balloon Cup...
- No, Sam, Tom did not prompt me or cut out any of the interview... I'd listened to The Dice Tower's previous episode.
- They are both great games, btw... some of the best 2 player/30 minute games on the market.
- I mentioned The One Hundred blog... go check it out. Stephen Glenn (the designer of Balloon Cup) polled a group of serious gamers on their 15 favorite games - and what came out was a top 100 list that was a lot of fun.
- OK, Sam, you were right. I listened to the show again and you called it a "glorified Racko", not simply Racko. Either way, you're wrong. See, it's NOT Racko... and if it's "glorified", the best definition of the word is "canonized". He he he...
BTW, Tom originally interviewed me via e-mail last year - you can read the whole thing right here.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
- David 200
- Mark 200
- Jim 190
- David 209 (2 markers)
- Jim 207 (4 markers)
- Mark 200 (zero markers - my tie at the end of Epoch 7 kept David & I both from getting a marker)
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
t-shirt graphic is from glarkware
This show used to be cutting-edge political and social satire, but it's gotten lobotomized by a... broadcast network hell-bent on doing nothing that might challenge their audience. We were about to do a sketch you've seen already about five hundred times. Yeah, no one is going to confuse George Bush with George Plimpton. We get it. We're all being lobotomized by this country's most influential industry! It's just thrown in the towel on any endeavor to do anything that doesn't include the courting of twelve-year-old boys. Not even the smart twelve-year-olds - the stupid ones! The idiots - of which there are plenty, thanks in no small measure to this network! So why don't you just change the channel? Turn off the TV. Do it right now. Go ahead.
There's always been a struggle between art and commerce. But I'm telling you, right now art is getting its [butt] kicked, and it's making us mean... It's making us cheap punks and that's not who we are! People are having contests to see how much they can be like Donald Trump? We're eating worms for money. Who wants to screw my sister? Guys are getting killed in a war that's got theme music and a logo? That remote in your hands is a crack pipe.
Wes Mendel, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
SUNDAY NIGHTThe Amazing Race
Thankfully, The Amazing Race is once again amazing, as they've changed the non-elimination rules (now you get to keep your stuff/$ but you will take a 30 minute time penalty if you don't finish 1st on the next leg), made the clues back into clues rather than Mapquest directions, and found some interesting challenges again. It doesn't hurt that most of the contestants are reasonably likeable - with the notable exception of Peter.If you gave up on The Amazing Race due to the debacle that was the Family season and/or the goofball fest that was last season, it's OK to come back now. MONDAY NIGHT My prime viewing night... and also my gaming night. Thank goodness for my trusty VCR. (Yes, I realize that "hip" people would be using Tivo, but that would require our little town to be wired for cable - which it isn't.) Prison Break
- spiritual relevance: very low
- quality level: pretty darn good (if you can ignore plot holes big enough to drive a prison bus through)
- warnings: some language, drug use, and heaps o'violence
- network: Fox (8 pm Pacific)
The second season of this soap opera crossed with every prison movie you've ever seen (and an added pinch of X-File-ish government conspiracy for flavoring) is actually bopping along at a reasonable pace. They've managed to kill off 4 major characters in the first 6-7 episodes, which means they must be getting notes from the same folks who are behind the last season of 24.It's not great TV, but I find the story interesting & unpredictable. It's also interesting how they are beginning to deal with Michael's guilt at the fallout from his plan. (This is one of my favorite things about good TV shows - they actually allow character's actions to resonate throughout their lives. For a great example of this, check out Boomtown on DVD... sigh, just one season.)
- spiritual relevance: it's got potential
- quality level: sweet (which is better than "pretty darn good")
- warnings: occasionally violent and/or gruesome, generally kind of dark (except Hiro)
- network: NBC (9 pm Pacific)
It's the X-Men meet the X-Files... which would only be mildly enjoyable - except that the guys plotting this thing are doing some creative stuff with that "high-concept" pitch. And they didn't hurt themselves with the character of Hiro, who is a complete delight. (Note: say "thank you" to Lost for making it cool to subtitle all of a character's dialogue.)This one's doing well enough that is has a full season order already (that means the network is buying the whole season.) Don't miss out on the online graphic stories each week, too - on NBC's website. They add bits to the story that aren't in the episodes. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
- spiritual relevance: extremely high (Harriet is the best written Christian character on television)
- quality level: top notch
- warnings: language, adult things discussed, lots of humor that will anger rabid right-wingers
- network: NBC (10 pm Pacific)
Shari & I were huge fans of Aaron Sorkin's "Sports Night"... and this feels like Sports Night, only twice as long & with lots more cash. It's a "dramedy", much like The West Wing was in it's best moments, all with the trademark Aaron Sorkin whiplash dialogue.If you bailed out on the show after the second episode (the weakest so far), it's time to come back. The show has finally found a groove that is sweet & enjoyable & promises interesting things to come. And if you were worried about getting your heart broken when it got cancelled, don't. It now has a full-season order. (Yeah!)
Again, I want to make sure everyone is clear that my love for the show, the storylines & the characters does not necessarily extend to the political/cultural views expressed therein. What I do like, however, is that the debate doesn't feel one-sided... and not all of the "kicker" lines in the discussions are given to the folks on the Left.TUESDAY NIGHT Standoff
- spiritual relevance: none
- quality level: decent (the acting is great, but it's standard So Cal cop show locations & direction)
- warnings: language, some light violence, sexual situations
- network: Fox (8 pm Pacific... for now - there's some talk of it moving again)
Shari compares this to the early episodes of Alias, which took a potentially serious thriller story & made it light & fluffy. What Alias did for spies, Standoff does for hostage negotiation. It works, mainly because of the likeability & chemistry of the two lead characters.Over the last few weeks, it seems to be establishing a pretty comfortable vibe - a cop show with a dash of humor & romance. It's not gonna set the world on fire, but Shari likes it and I like watching it with her. Veronica Mars
- spiritual relevance: on occasion
- quality level: pretty good (the writing & acting are great, but the set/location quality is just so-so)
- language: language, alcohol & drug use, occasional violence, sexual situations
- network: CW (9 pm Pacific)
I really like the oddball combination of noir, Buffy sans the supernatural & bits of The O.C. that makes up Veronica Mars... and after a rough start (the first three episodes were pretty weak), the show looks like it is back to the high standards of the first two seasons.I'm hoping this season maybe cuts back on the "let's show teens having sex" thing... I understand it as a story element but that doesn't mean I want to watch. WEDNESDAY NIGHT
- spiritual relevance: high (predestination, freewill, where does evil come from, how do you forgive?, etc...)
- quality level: astounding
- warnings: violence, sexual situations, language
- network: ABC (9 pm Pacific)
I watched the first season of this religiously... but the 2nd season started slow & when I missed taping a couple of episodes (about the time Ana Lucia shot Shannon), I gave up. Thanks to the magic of DVD & Netflix, I picked up where I left off - only to realize that I'd ditched the show just as it got REALLY good. Sigh.
So, I've been staying up with the third season... which is driving me crazy! Where are Sun & Jin? More Hurley, please! Who are the new pair that went to Pearl Station with Mr Eko, Desmond & John?
- spiritual relevance: potentially high (forgiveness, revenge, consequences of our actions, etc...)
- quality level: pretty good
- warnings: violence, sexual situations, language
- network: ABC (10 pm Pacific)
The Nine is a pretty serious Lost-ish take on a bank robbery & the fallout in the lives of the hostages & hostage-takers. While the acting is very good & the ideas are interesting, they're going to have a problem on their hands if they don't pick up the pace of the story a bit.
- spiritual relevance: mixed (while there are some interesting questions about trust & honor, they're all pretty much undercut by the game-ish nature of the show)
- quality level: excellent
- warnings: language, pixellated body parts
- network: CBS (8 pm Pacific)
While the whole "racially divided tribes" thing got most of the early press, this has actually been a very interesting season of Survivor. There's been some intriguing people on the show, some good plans gone awry, and new elements (the jury starts at 12... and before "the merge"?!) that are making things harder to predict (and therefore more fun).
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
For more on Reggie McNeal, check out Missional Community
Friday, October 27, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I had a wild experience this summer on vacation... I was in a Christian Outlet store in Centralia, WA, searching for bargains. (The only thing I'm more likely to buy than a board game is a book... my "needs to be read" pile is large enough to bury both my sons in an avalanche of printed materials. Sigh.) Usually in places like that I'm looking for out of print books or cheap prices on stuff that I passed on a year or two back. So, imagine my surprise when I found a copy of John Eldredge's new book, The Way of the Wild Heart, on sale for $8.00. I knew it was coming out soon (I'm on the mailing list from his Ransomed Heart ministry) but I hadn't heard much about it. Once I got home, I realized why... it's not in print yet! The copy I purchased is an "uncorrected proof" - which, in publishing terms, means a early copy of the book sent to book-buyers & reviewers. It specifically says on the back that it is "not for resale." Oops. So, I decided to e-mail the folks at Ransomed Heart: I managed to purchase a copy of The Way of the Wild Heart earlier today from an outlet store that sells Christian books and CD's. As I'm a big fan of your ministry (I preached a series based on EPIC last fall & use Wild at Heart in our men's ministry), I was excited to find a copy of the book - I'd read about it in the last letter from Ransomed Heart and was surprised to see it in the store. Of course, when I had an opportunity to take a closer look at it, I realized that it was an uncorrected proof and is clearly marked "not for resale." Yikes! I'm guessing this wasn't supposed to be at an outlet mall in Washington State, eh?! Anyway, I'd like to ask you guys what I should do next. I'm looking forward to reading the book, of course. And as a regular blogger (http://akapastorguy.blogspot.com), I would love to do a review of the book. However, I want to do so with the appropriate timing AND your approval. I see that the publication date is 11/14/06 - when would be the best time for me to publish a review of the book? Thanks again for all that Ransomed Heart does and is doing to teach truth & lead people into a more intimate walk with Jesus. in Christ, mark jackson I'm not sure what I expected - there was a part of me that wondered if they wouldn't ask for me to put the book in the mail to them. I hoped for a positive response... but what I got was way beyond what I could imagine: Dear Mark, Thanks for writing. We're not sure how that copy got into the bookstore, but surely God wanted you to have it! We just ask that you not pass it around, because it has gone through a lot of editing and revision. And perhaps you could explain in your blog the story of how you got to read it before it was published. It might be a good means of getting others excited about the book. Thanks! We're grateful to count you as an ally... Jamie, on behalf of the Ransomed Heart team Of course, it makes sense for them to "play nice" - I mean, Ransomed Heart is highly unlikely to send a S.W.A.T. team of crack Bible study leaders to deploy flashbang grenades & "liberate" the uncorrected proof. But being courteous is a very different thing than speaking God-truth into my heart & life - and that's what the phrase "surely God wanted you to have it" was... and is. Things don't happen by accident. Romans 8:28 (one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible) talks about the fact that "We can be sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." (The Message) It wasn't an accident that Shari & I stopped at mile marker 82 and combed the shelves of the little outlet store. God specifically had something (or things!) in mind for me & this book.
At least one of those things became abundantly clear last night at about 1:45 am. Monday night is my normal game night - and we typically play till midnight or 1 am. Last night, it was 1:15 am. (For the record, I didn't win any games - though I had a lot of fun playing them!) After closing down the game room, I stumbled into our bedroom and stretched out on the bed. And then it started - I could feel panic wash over me. (It reminded me of the awful feeling I'd had when I was doing summer missions in Alabama and lived in an old 15 foot camper. I woke up in the middle of the night laying in a couple of inches of water - the camper had sprung a leak and all of the water was pooling in my bunk.) This time, I was lying in a pool of worries & fears: dread over the current state of NewLife's finances (more on that later), unnerved by our personal finances, overwhelmed by the blizzard of activity I was/am facing today... and all of that punctuated by the steady dripping of accusing thoughts. "You're a lousy husband." "Why in the world would this church call you as their pastor? They're going to find out you don't have what it takes." I rolled over on my back, forcing my eyes shut so I could ignore all this junk and just go to sleep. Even then, I had images playing in my mind of cockroaches & other bugs skittering across the walls. The panic continued to rise as I thrashed around, feeling like my soul was drowning. Thankfully, I have a wife who desires to follow God - and is willing to be amazingly honest about her victories and struggles. She's been reading a book by Chip Ingram (Invisible War) on spiritual warfare, so that topic keeps coming up in our conversations. And it was those conversations that prodded me out of the bed and into "the coloring room" (Braeden's name for the front room of our house, which is set up as a reading area) to spend time in prayer, asking God to knock the Evil One on his butt... to protect my heart from this attack calculated to suck the life out of my ministry as a pastor & the joy of our marriage and family. I spent part of the time reading The Way of the Wild Heart - which features some pretty straightforward talk about spiritual warfare: Eventually we find that we must face our enemy head-on. Now it comes to direct conflict with foul spirits and the kingdom of darkness. I know many men who have avoided this far too long. Good men, for the most part, but intimidated from any direct conflicts with the enemy, and preferring to stay in the human realm. "I'm a reluctant Warrior," a friend confessed this week. "I'd rather stay in the -- what was it -- the Shire." That's me. For a number of reasons (worried about looking like a wild-eyed charismatic/Pentecostal/holy roller, lack of pastoral examples in my own life of spiritual warfare, fear of what might happen if I take this stuff seriously, etc.), I've basically acknowledged that there is a spiritual realm without ever really dealing with the clear Biblical mandate that we are under attack & must "stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:11-12, NLT) Last night, curled up on the couch, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, facing an onslaught of accusations & unbiblical thoughts, what had been a series of abstract concepts and Biblical principles became a spiritual reality. And as I prayed, as I read the Bible, as I quoted Psalm 23, as I read Eldredge's new book, the panic lifted. The accusations subsided. I went to bed at nearly 3 am, with the words from Psalm 127 that God grants sleep to those He loves ringing in my ears. This morning I woke up (way too early, thank you) coming out of this amazing dream - I was talking with a gaming buddy from the Boston area about my love of ministry & my desire to make a difference in people's lives through the transforming power of Jesus Christ. He was listening and connecting... and it was sweet. Like I said, there was a reason for the uncorrected proof of an unpublished book to be sitting in a store in central Washington - I needed to read once again that I wasn't crazy to go down this path. This is important to know, for we long to feel brave & powerful in battle. But that is rarely the case. In the midst of battle, you will often fell confused, disoriented, perhaps overwhelmed, troubled with self-doubt. You will certainly fell the spirits that are present, and they will try to make you believe it's you that is angry, or prideful, or whatever assaults you. Set your face like flint. It will clear, eventually, and you will again feel the presence of God and who you truly are. In the midst of it, war is chaos. Look, I'm not an expert on spiritual warfare - and I'm still scared that many of you will write me off as a crackpot - "Yep, he watched TBN one too many times & started into that whole 'demon under every rock' thing." But I'm convinced by my experience, the experiences of others I trust & respect, and the testimony of the Bible that the distance between the physical & the spiritual realms is not as far as we'd like to think. It's time for us to ask God to open our eyes to spiritual reality - see 2nd Kings 6 for a great story about this! Maybe you could pray like this: Father God, You are a warrior (Exodus 15:3), a dread champion (Jeremiah 20:11), strong & mighty in battle (Psalm 24:7-8). Right now, I acknowledge that those verses aren't simply "figurative language" but instead speak volumes about the Your nature and the battle I find myself in. Even praying that out loud scares the fool out of me. I don't want to be some kind of nutjob who tries to cast demons out of their iMac or lives in perpetual legalistic fear. OTOH, I don't want to pretend any longer that the stuff that goes down on this planet is just a random series of lucky breaks & unfortunate accidents. I need to see what's going on through Your eyes. And if that's going to happen, You're going to have to open them for me. I love you, Jesus... in Your holy name - Amen.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
- Nearly 59% of Americans believe that "many religions lead to salvation." (This is kind of a Hallmark greeting card way of dealing with our eternal destiny - and yet it's not simply bad Christianity, it's bad Judaism, and even bad Islam.)
- Four out of ten people (that's 40% for those of you who are math-challenged) believe that there were "ancient advanced civilizations" - Atlantis, for example. Hmmm... maybe Chariots of the Gods was released 20 years too early?!
- Nearly 29% of Americans have read The Da Vinci Code... and 19% have read at least one of the Left Behind novels. (Here's what that says to me - approximately 30% of Americans have lousy taste in religious fiction, regardless of whether it was written to attack or support the deity of Christ.)
None of this is a particularly big surprise - most of it simply confirms what I've observed in ministry & life: lots of people choose their belief system like they choose their underwear. They want it to be comfortable, functional, occasionally cute for showing off to a special someone... and otherwise pretty much invisible in their day-to-day lives.----- Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that. Homer Simpson ----- However, I was intrigued by one particular finding that the researchers highlighted... and rather than me butcher the concept, I'll let them explain it to you in their own words.
One area that emerged from the survey that has excited the researchers is what they call the "Four Gods." Depending on how engaged people think God is in the world and how angry God is with the world.
"If you think about people perceiving God as high in anger, low in anger, high in engagement, low in engagement, it results in four different types of gods," said Froese.
What researchers found was that the type of god people believe in can predict their political and moral attitudes more so than just looking at their religious tradition.
Researchers found that none of the "four gods" dominated among believers. The data showed:
- 31.4 percent believe in an Authoritarian God, who is very judgmental and engaged
- 25 percent believe in a Benevolent God, who is not judgmental but engaged
- 23 percent believe in a Distant God, who is completely removed
- 16 percent believe in a Critical God, who is judgmental but not engaged
Other demographic relationships and religious effects surrounding the "Four Gods" include:
- African-Americans believe overwhelmingly in an Authoritarian God (53.4 percent);
- Region of the country is significantly related to the four types of god. Easterners tend towards belief in a Critical God; Southerners tend towards an Authoritarian God; Midwesterners believe in a Benevolent God; and the West Coast believes in a Distant God.
- Individuals with lower educations and lower incomes tend towards more engaged images of God.
"This is a very powerful tool to understand core differences in the United States," Froese said. "If I know your image of God, I can tell all kinds of things about you. It's a central part of world view and it's linked to how you think about the world in general."
So, campers, which God is your God?
- the Authoritarian God, who is ready to administer cosmic whuppings at a moment's notice?
- the Benevolent God, who is all about forgiveness & blessings - a heavenly Santa Claus who never really puts boys or girls on his "naughty" list?
- the Distant God, who is hanging out in Heaven, soaking up the good vibes from the angels & shining on those of here on Earth?
- the Critical God, who thinks what we're doing is "wrong, wrong, wrong" - but who isn't planning to do anything about it?
For me, all of these pictures are woefully inadequate. There are elements that make sense - forgiveness, judgment for sins, a desire to bless, pain at the way the world has gone wrong - but none of the individual pictures are big enough to encompass the God of the Bible.So stay alert. Don't for a minute forget the covenant which God, your God, made with you. And don't take up with any carved images, no forms of any kind-God, your God, issued clear commands on that. God, your God, is not to be trifled with-he's a consuming fire, a jealous God. Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (The Message) Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. Deuteronomy 7:9 (The Message) God is mighty, but does not despise men; he is mighty, and firm in his purpose. Job 36:5 (NIV) God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God-the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout. Psalm 18:2 (The Message) Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death-and the worst kind of death at that-a crucifixion. Philippians 2:5-8 (The Message) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 (NIV) You see, the God of the Bible is not some monolithic spiritual entity that can be easily plotted on an X/Y graph. If we buy (and I do) that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), then our complexity ought to say something about the complexity of God. If we, the created beings, have these wonderfully diverse personalities, why would we ever hypothesize that God the Creator is one-dimensional & monochromatic? ----- Which brings us right back around to the question I asked a few minutes ago. Paraphrasing myself now... Question #1: "What kind of God do you believe in?" And, just in case you missed this earlier... Question #2: "Did you come up with your answer to question #1 in a similar fashion to picking out new undies?" ----- I'd love to hear from some of y'all about what these questions spark... the e-door is always open at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the 9/13/06 issue of the Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
If you’ve watched his shows you probably had one of two reactions: a) God, I wish I was as smart and funny as these people, or b) What the *%&$ planet are these babbling idiots from?
The Pop View blog The newest show from Aaron Sorkin is Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, a one hour dramedy (drama + comedy) that goes behind the scenes of a SNL-like sketch comedy show. You can tell NBC feels pretty positive about this show - they've released the pilot (which won't air until September 18th) for rent through Netflix... and that's how Shari & I watched it earlier today. I found it enjoyable to watch... and a bit intriguing, as one of the characters is a committed Christian who, at least in the pilot, didn't come off as an insipid drip. (I've always appreciated Aaron Sorkin for writing/creating characters who had some kind of meaningful faith... the Jewish characters on Sports Night - who even hosted a seder that closed out an episode - or President Bartlett's struggles with God on The West Wing. Most of Hollywood just ignores religious faith.) With that said, I need to warn you that the show will air at 10 pm PST for a reason - it's PG-13 in content & language. Still, I'll be revving up the ol' VCR every Monday night... there really is nothing quite like Aaron Sorkin's writing. Dan: Is this one of those times when you say you don't want to talk about it, but you really do? Casey: No, but it's shaping up to be one of those times when I say I don't want to talk about it, but we end up talking about it anyway. Sports Night
Monday, August 21, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I want to want to pray - to be in conversation with You. I want to want what You want. I want be "leveled" by an intimate personal knowledge of Your presence, Your power & Your grace. But even as I pray that, I feel myself drifting. I feel the urge to slap my "honey-do" list down on the table for you, fold my arms & wait impatiently for you to pony up.
So I just throw myself into your arms - my sad excuse for a "prayer life", my messed-up desires, my fears of being found out to be "less spiritual" than I appear. I submit my heart & life to You - and ask you to break away the hardened gunk around my heart so that I can run to you.
I love you, Jesus. Help me love you more.
Amen. Soundtrack for this post: "All I Can Say" (David Crowder) This article originally appeared in the 8/10/06 issue of the Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
- WEDNESDAY - We got to play Ark - this time with my mom, Shari & Braeden, and me.
- THURSDAY - We took it easy today - going out for pizza, stopping by Northwest Rods & Restoration, stopping by the river to throw rocks in the water & watch a big cargo ship go by.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
- SATURDAY - Mom wasn't feeling 100%, so instead of going to Mount St. Helens, we went to St. Helens, OR, which is a little town not too far from Mom & Dad. They were having an "Arts & Eats" festival downtown... Braeden got to make recycled art & have his face painted... and Dad & his partners won 1st place in their division of the car show.
- SUNDAY - Shari & I left the boys with Mom, Dad & Liz and drove to Ocean Shores, WA, for a night away. We ate some very good seafood. The weather wasn't very nice (it's was cold & foggy most of the time we were there) but we still got to walk on the beach & even found some sand dollars on Monday morning.
- MONDAY - As we were coming home, we stopped at the Christian Outlet store in Centralia, WA, and found some great stuff cheap. In a bit of publishing weirdness, I managed to buy a copy of a as-yet-unreleased book by a major author - it was a proof copy. (I hate to be so cryptic, but I've inquired w/the publisher about how to proceed - I'd like to review the book but I don't want to screw up their release schedule.)
- TUESDAY - We visited with Shari's cousin, Rachel, & her daughter, Josie. (Well, Shari & Braeden visited - Collin & I went shopping for Grandpa's birthday.
- WEDNESDAY - We went to visit my best friend from high school (hi, Keith!) and the guy who answered the door looked strangely familiar... which is as it should be, because he was another very close friend from high school (and elementary school), Jim Trerise! A wonderful surprise... I'll post more about it later.
Monday, August 14, 2006
- ANTIKE - I've only played this once (and that game ended prematurely), but I really liked the rondel mechanic.
- BLUE MOON CITY - haven't played it
- CAYLUS - haven't played it... I'm afraid that it's going win, though.
- DAS ENDE DES TRIUMVIRATS - haven't played it
- HACIENDA - liked my one playing of this, but it wasn't compelling enough for me to buy it
- INDONESIA - haven't played it
- JENSEITS VON THEBEN - I've played this twice and would gladly buy a copy if I could afford it... an amazing design that fully captures the them... this is my personal pick that I'd like to win (it probably won't).
- MYKERINOS - haven't played it
- RAILROAD TYCOON - haven't played it
- THURN & TAXIS - my one playing left me impressed - I'd like to play it again. (Short review: a gamer-y Ticket To Ride.)
- UM KRONE & KRAGEN - nifty game that crosses M:tG and dice rolling... I don't think this one has a snowball's chance, though.
- ATON - haven't played... looks VERY abstract
- BLOKUS DUO (also called Travel Blokus) - a really nice 2 player version of Blokus... won't win.
- PUNCT - haven't played
- TWILIGHT STRUGGLE - haven't played... has a good chance at winning as it takes the We The People card-driven wargame system and layers on the Cold War theme. (A shorter playing time doesn't hurt, either.)
- WAR OF THE RING: BATTLES OF THE THIRD AGE - it's an expansion to a game I haven't played
Saturday, August 12, 2006
- THURSDAY - Braeden & I got to hang out at Dad's new shop/business... Northwest Rods & Restorations. Marty, one of Dad's partners, gave Braeden the royal treatment - he got to go into the paint booth, see how the metal roller/cutter worked, and even sit in Marty's speedboat. And Marty & Raymond replaced the bumper on the Honda - it looks perfect.
- THURSDAY - picked up Liz from the airport, then went shopping for replacement makeup & haircare products. (Liz was caught in the carry-on rules change following the terrorist threats in England.)
- FRIDAY -w drove over to the Columbia Gorge & looked at waterfalls - Wahkeena Falls is esp. beautiful.
- FRIDAY - Braeden & I hiked from Wahkeena Falls to Multnomah Falls (about a 1/2 mile) on our own... it was a great father/son adventure. We found a waterfall & a cave... and we saw 2 trains go by on the tracks next to the trail, which was pretty cool.
Friday, August 11, 2006
- The Apples Project - that's right, kids, the "Son of Apples Project" is getting ready to get underway. I'll be blogging my way through the results starting in mid-September. (BTW, Rick Thornquist, if you're reading this, e-mail me already, eh?!) But with the Geek down, it's a bit tougher to compile the nomination lists for the participants.
- My Gulf Games reports - because I like linking to game names & so on, I'm on hold with finishing my Gulf Games posts. So you guys will just have to wait a little longer.
- Information About Insel der Schmuggler - Now THIS is what the Geek is for... Braeden & I bought this Haba game on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the game was missing what the component list called "a white smuggler's die". Based on descriptions in the rules & pictures on the box, I think the missing die is a 1-1-2-2-3-3 die... but there's no way to check easily without the Geek. (It is important to note that Haba customer service responded to my e-mail asking for a die within 3-4 hours - EXCELLENT!)
Thursday, August 10, 2006
- MONDAY - having the pool to ourselves at the hotel... Collin is now jumping off the edge of the pool from a standing position!
- MONDAY - eating at Luigi's Pizza & Pasta in Red Bluff, CA, for dinner... excellent greasy/gooey pizza & out of this world fried cheese. Shari compared it to Mama's Pizza in Ft Worth, TX, which is a high compliment.
- TUESDAY - hiking around Lassen Volcanic National Park... best moment (which I didn't see): Braeden slipped on the snow, then knocked Shari Jo down
- TUESDAY - shopping at the Funagain Games storefront in Ashland, OR. Prices are discounted by 20%, you don't have to pay shipping, and there's no sales tax. Amazingly enough, all we bought was the Haba game INSEL DER SCHMUGGLER (which is a lot of fun)
- WEDNESDAY - Braeden & I played GlowGolf (indoor golf under black lights) at the Gateway Mall in Eugene.
- WEDNESDAY - seeing my mom & dad... it's great to be with them