Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (SBU Podcast)



Some very subjective thoughts on "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies"! Plus, Jesus compared to fictional gods!

Monday, December 15, 2014

In Search Of Truth, "Jesus Is Not..."



Geek entertainment presents us with all kinds of deities. The polytheistic families of quarrelling gods in the world of Dragonlance and the slumbering ancient ones of HP Lovecraft are just two of the well-known models of deity in geek fiction. Most fictional concepts of deity are modified versions of beliefs that people currently or at one time have actually believed about the nature of God or the gods of polytheism.

As I play video games with religious themes I sometimes like to entertain and exercise my brain by evaluating the ideas presented and comparing them to what the Bible teaches. I've found that despite the fictional nature of entertainment, evaluating the ideas about God presented there can be useful in preparing to evaluate real-world suggestions regarding the nature of God. The ideas inspiring fictional religions are still very relevant and in regular practice by various world religions today. For example, odds are pretty good that you know a polytheist, whether they subscribe to Wicca, Hindu or Latter Day Saint theologies.

There are a number of things that make the God of the Bible unique from every other god in either fiction or real-world religions. But given the seasonal timing I thought it would be interesting to focus on what theology calls "The Incarnation", and how Jesus, as both 100% human and 100% God, is set apart from any other so-called "god" of fictional or real-world worship. So here's a little bit of "compare and contrast" that comes to mind:


1. Jesus is not Marvel's Thor. He is not simply a powerful being from a race of powerful beings. He is Yahweh. He is God. The ultimate being with no equal.

(John 10:30, ESV) I and the Father are one. 

(John 14:9, ESV) Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 

(Isaiah 45:5-6, ESV) I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.


2. Jesus is not The Matrix Trilogy's Neo, who is plagued with uncertainty and insists that his followers are responsible for saving themselves. As Neo did, Jesus' apostles and angels always rejected worship. (Acts 10:26, Revelation 19:10). But Jesus knew he was God  and accepted the worship of others.

(Matthew 28:9-10, ESV) And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” 

(John 20:28-29, ESV) Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Our sin is so much darker and more horrible than our numb, desensitized consciences realize.(Isaiah 64:6) We are helpless to "save ourselves" and Jesus knew this. He also knew that he was God's rescue plan, the only plan that could possibly work.

(John 14:6, ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 

He knew we needed him and so he unwaveringly gave himself to his incomparably painful responsibility.


3. Jesus is not Talos (The Elder Scrolls). Tiber Septim, who became the god Talos, was the greatest emperor and hero of mankind in the world of The Elder Scrolls video games. As a result of his great virtues as a man, his status ascended into that of a god. But Jesus did not begin as a human being and later become a god. Jesus has never been less than he is now.

(Hebrews 13:8, ESV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

(Psalm 90:2, ESV) Before the mountains were brought forth,or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 

He has never been morally flawed in any way nor is he becoming better as time passes. Jesus is Yahweh, "I Am", and is completely, eternally constant in his divine essence and character.


4. Jesus is not Cthulhu or another of HP Lovecraft's "Great Old Ones". He is not going to one day awaken from slumber and devour all humanity. He is loving and compassionate toward humanity, and wants people to spend eternity with him, but will also ultimately honor humans and their choice to spend eternity with him or away from him.

(2 Peter 3:9, ESV) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 

(Matthew 23:37, ESV) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!


5. Jesus is not Andraste (Dragon Age). He is not a merely human prophet who God especially likes, and who persuaded God to forgive humanity. His death did not cause God to abandon humanity out of anger and sorrow, as Andraste's death did for The Maker. Instead, Jesus is God's unique Son, in a sense that no other can claim.

(John 3:16, ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

The death of Jesus did not make God turn away from humanity. Jesus' death makes it possible for us to have close relationship with God that will last forever.

(Hebrews 2:9, ESV) But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.


6. Jesus is not The Sword Of Truth's "Creator". Although Jesus made the universe, he did not retreat from it afterward and remain distant, allowing it to take whatever course it might. Instead, Jesus came as close as he could to the world. Closer than any so-called "god" dreamed up by human imagination. He lived life in a normal human body, with all the limitations and difficulties that come with that. He didn't just visit us for awhile, he lived an entire lifetime as one of us. He set aside his rights to his limitless power and allowed himself to be unrecognized and disrespected.

(Philippians 2:5-7, ESV) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (Greek for "grasped"= "seized and gripped tightly"), but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 

His love for us led him to willingly be misunderstood, hated, kicked, punched, cut open, tortured and slowly killed. He lived life as one of us, not because he had to, but because he chose to.

7. Jesus is not Anu, the God of the Diablo games, who fought the ultimate evil and then died, never to return. History consistently points to the bodily resurrection of Jesus, who not only returned to life after death but returned to life in a body forever immune to death in any form.

(1 Corinthians 15:22-23, ESV) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 

(Revelation 20:6, ESV) Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

(Revelation 21:3-4, ESV) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 

A god who is subject to death like any human can't be a source of hope for anyone. But Jesus is alive, and promises that same immunity to death to all who trust in him.

Finally, unlike all of these gods of geek fiction, Jesus is not just an idea or an interesting concept. He is real. As real as your seat, your steering wheel or your keyboard. He really came and really rescued us from an eternity of the day-to-day grind we live in.

When the warm fuzzies of the Christmas season wear out or get put away, Jesus is still there in every moment, offering life that goes far beyond just pumping blood, as well as more purpose than we experienced yesterday.  Every Christmas gift, once unwrapped, immediately begins losing its shine until eventually it becomes just more "stuff" in our room. But we still have one more gift to unwrap and enjoy every day. The gift of TRUE life, offered and made possible through Jesus, that begins new again every moment and lasts forever.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 9:11-14



Hebrews 9:11-14 (ESV)

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.


In previous verses, the author of Hebrews explains the ultimately ineffective nature of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. While these sacrifices demonstrated the problem of sin, they didn't provide a complete and lasting solution. The author now contrasts the failings of the Old Covenant sacrifices with the absolute effectiveness of Christ's sacrifice.

v.11

As we've observed previously by looking at the meaning and purpose of "priests", we're reminded again here that Jesus functions at the perfect "go between" for us and God. His service in this role has secured all of the "good things" promised to believers. This includes:
1. rescue from punishment we deserve for our selfishness and ungrateful rebellion against God,
2. increasing rescue from lives devoid of purpose and crippled by self-destructive sin, and
3. future permanent rescue from all tendency toward and exposure to evil of any kind.

These three forms of rescue (which theologians call Justification, Sanctification and Glorification respectively) summarize the various contextual uses of the Greek word for "Salvation", which the author of Hebrews (and the other New Testament writers) uses to describe what Jesus has done for us as High Priest. (Hebrews 5:5-10, 7:23-8:13)

Jesus accomplished this relational repair between us and God, not through the earthly temple or tabernacle, but through a method or process unique to God, that the tabernacle was only a shadow of.(Hebrews 8:5)

v.12

Jesus accomplished this through a "once for all" and "eternal" act of sacrifice. The old system required priests to offer animal sacrifices again and again to deal even with unintentional sin and repair human relationship with God. But Jesus' single sacrifice of his own, perfect life, was enough to repair all relational damage between us and God.

There may be times where, on our side of the conversation, we need to clear the air with God in order to experience closeness to him. But the Bible teaches that if any believer chooses to draw near to God, God will draw near to them. (James 4:8) Because our sin has been dealt with in terms of justice, there is no penalty hanging over our heads as we converse with God. He is ready to be as relationally close with us as we will let him!

v.13-14

Under the Old Covenant, the sacrifice of specific animal types was enough to make someone or something fit for the purpose of serving and relating to God, at least temporarily and in a very limited way. The author argues that it's only reasonable that if animal blood could accomplish that, then the blood of Jesus, the perfect man (who is Yahweh himself in human form), in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and offering himself to God (presumably The Father), could do far more!

So what more did his sacrifice accomplish? For starters we are free from "dead works". When looking at Hebrews 6:1 we found that "dead works" refers to activity intended to earn good standing with God, or activity that contributes to relational separation from God. Engaging in "dead works" only leads to an awareness of our failure and shortcomings. The only way to avoid this awareness is to "lower the bar" for ourselves, and try to convince ourselves that God isn't that concerned with evil. (Boy, wouldn't you love to spend eternity with a God who looks at evil and just kinda shrugs and says, "Oh well"? Yikes!)

Jesus has rescued us from the need to lie to ourselves and from the depression and anxiety of failure and shortcoming! Not only that, but he has done this with a purpose greater than simply giving us pleasure. Jesus has rescued us and given us purpose greater than anything we could assign to ourselves! We are rescued to "serve the living God"! We can now have a role in bringing about his agenda for the universe!

Keep in mind, the sacrifice of Jesus that makes this possible is an "eternal, once for all" sacrifice. Our moments of social significance may come and go or never seem to arrive. That great job or career may not last. But for believers in Jesus, every day is a day we are fit for God's agenda.

Maybe you've felt overlooked or misunderstood. Maybe you've felt like you don't fit in and God probably doesn't have much use for you. But that mindset doesn't make any sense in light of what Jesus has done for us! Each of us is uniquely and strategically gifted by God and positioned where we are at, among the people we know or may soon get to know, to bring about the plans of God.

The entertainment world, through both stories and celebrities, is trying to define significance for you and I, whether they mean to or not. It's my natural tendency to attach my significance to how many people know who I am and what they think of me. But our significance is not so shallow and temporary as what we accomplish or what people think of us. It is found in the fact that God has given us a purpose that will NEVER be taken away, that we can choose to enter into more deeply in every moment of every day.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Odd Thomas Review (SBU Podcast)



A review of the movie Odd Thomas and some ways geeks might develop an "Old Covenant" mindset.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 9:1-10




In previous verses, the author of Hebrews said that the New Covenant ushered in by Jesus makes the old one obsolete. In the first part of chapter 9 he goes on to describe the elements of this "obsolete covenant".

Odd Thomas (CGC Uncut Review)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Unicorn City Review and Dragon Age Inquisition Religion (SBU Podcast)


A review of the gamer movie "Unicorn City" and some reactions to how God and religion are portrayed in "Dragon Age: Inquisition".

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dragon Age Inquisition Review (SBU Podcast)



A "First Five" review of Dragon Age: Inquisition and a look at letting Jesus out of the box as we continue our study of the book of Hebrews.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 8:4-13



The author of Hebrews is now describing how Jesus is not only a superior and ultimate mediator(priest) between us and Yahweh-God, but he serves as our go-between within a far better system of mediation.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Noob Plays "Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare" (Trial And Error)

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 8:1-3



Leading up to this point the author of Hebrews has been making a case for the superiority of Jesus as our priest when compared to earthly priests. As he moves forward, he also explains that the method by which Jesus connects us with God is far superior to the old Levitical system.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor (Trial And Error)

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 7:20-28




Just before verse 20, in verse 19 of this chapter, the author says that the former system of priests, because of its weakness and uselessness, was set aside, and "a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God."

Friday, October 31, 2014

Constantine Premiere and Jumanji Review (SBU Podcast)



Some thoughts on the Constantine TV series Premiere and a review of Jumanji! Plus some thoughts on how conflict displays and forms character, both in fiction and in life.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In Search Of Truth, "Conflict And Character"

Submitted by -Jason Link  www.authorjasonlink.com

There is a basic yet crucial rule to storytelling: conflict reveals character. In order to show an audience who your characters are, you need to put your characters in situations where they face conflict (an obstacle that prevents them from reaching their goal). The greater the conflict, the greater the revelation of character. This is why the heroes we love in stories walk the more difficult road.

Yet conflict not only reveals the deeper identities of fictional characters, it also reveals who we are in real life.

There is one particular experience I had that drove this lesson home. It happened a few years back when it was about time for me to renew my visa in Nicaragua. I drove down to the Nicaraguan/Costa Rican border to get new stamps in my passport. It was the second of January, and I was about to learn the hard way that the day after New Year’s was one of the worst times to cross and re-cross the border. It seemed that Costa Rica and Nicaragua were swapping populations on that day because the line stretched out horribly, zigzagged, and showed no end in sight. And it was a line that barely moved. It seemed like fifteen minutes would pass between each trudging footstep forward. I had taken my place in line in the morning. The hot sun burned my neck, but then dark clouds rolled in and rained on me, drenching my clothes before rolling away. Then the sun came back out and dried my clothes, but more clouds rolled in to rain on me again. The sun came out yet again and then went down. When I finished my time renewing my visa, it was dark out. I had stood in line for eleven hours.

As I had stood there and waited, I learned something about people: they show who they are when put in frustrating situations. I could tell who the cutthroats were, those who pushed and shoved or used deception to get in front of others. I could tell who the kind people were, the strangers who would hold my place while I went to get a drink of water. What I observed of those who shared in that horrible experience of crossing the border gave me a small glimpse of who they really were.

But let’s up the stakes a bit. Let’s imagine that the line wasn’t to make a routine cross from one country to another but to get onto a limited number of lifeboats on a quickly sinking ship. In such a life and death situation we would get an even better look at who people truly are—the selfish who would fight and claw their way over their own friends and family to get to the front, and the selfless who would give their place up so that others could live.

Who are you when the chips are down and the stakes are high? Who am I? If we really think about it, we may not be happy with the answer. But conflict does something more than just reveal our characters; it changes our characters as well. Think about the story of the Prodigal Son. He had a wild lifestyle of pleasure that did little good for anyone; but then his money ran out and the party was over. He confronted conflict, one that came in the form of poverty; and because he faced this conflict, he decided to change his course in life and return to his loving father. If he had not faced this conflict, he probably would have continued on in his wild living. Hard times instigated his change.

In each conflict we face we have a choice in how we respond. Over time, our choices become habits; and depending on the choices we consistently make, we either get bitter or get better. As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans: “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Therefore when we face conflict, we can picture our life stories being written. What type of characters are we? What character do we want to be? Those who strive for hope? With our life story in mind, we can look at conflicts as opportunities to change who we are—to become the people that God would have us become. We remember that the heroes in stories walk the more difficult road. But they are deemed heroes because of it.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Extra Life Wrap-Up


The Extra Life event went wonderfully and was a great experience for me. I'm already looking forward to next year!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

24-Hour Video Game Live-Stream This Saturday!



The big weekend is almost here!

From 7am Pacific this Saturday until 7am Pacific this Sunday, I will be attempting a 24-hour video game marathon in support of our fundraising efforts for the Extra-Life charity. 

You can watch any or all of the live-stream at twitch.tv/christiangeekcentral or christiangeekcentral.com

Hell - THE TRUTH IS IN THERE

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dr. Who and DC Movies! (SBU Podcast)



Part 2 of David Arington's thoughts on Dr. Who Season 1 and a conversation about the latest DC Movie News!

Monday, October 20, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 7:11-19




The author of Hebrews points out that "perfection" was not attainable for us under the Levitical priesthood and system of law. The Greek word for "perfection" here means "completion, fulfillment and consummation". In the context of the book of Hebrews, this would refer to the completeness of our unity with Yahweh and receiving his rescue from our sin, as well as his promised rest and reward for his people.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dracula: Untold Review (SBU Podcast)



A review of "Dracula: Untold" and a look at the often forgotten "priestly" role of Jesus!

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 7:4-10



A theme of Hebrews so far has been "holding on to hope and confidence in Yahweh so that we can be engaged in his plans and experience his blessing and rest". In the verses we looked at previously, the author has been building an argument for trusting in Jesus as the ultimate priest/go-between for humanity and Yahweh. The popular idea today that "all paths lead to God" conflicts with the point being made in Hebrews, that Jesus is far superior to any other so-called, or even true, representative of God.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Help Kids By Getting Cool Stuff For Yourself!




Spirit Blade Productions and Christian Geek Central are both participating in the October 25th Extra-Life charity event to raise money for children in serious need of medical care.

Our small team of five participants is taking on the task of collecting a combined total of $1000 in donations for this cause. As of writing this we are at 22% of our goal with 11 more days to reach $1000! That's a good start, but we need YOUR help to reach the finish line! And you can even get some cool goodies while supporting the cause!

From now until the end of Sunday, October 26th, every penny received from purchases at the Spirit Blade Productions online store will be donated to the Christian Geek Central Team's fundraising efforts for the Extra-Life charity. So go treat yourself or a friend to some cool goodies and know that you're helping kids who really need it in the process!

There are also special bonuses for those who donate to Paeter Frandsen's personal Extra-Life  efforts (which also contributes to the overall CGC Team goal) on or before Thursday, October 23rd:

Receive download links for every product in Spirit Blade Productions' digital library! (Donation of $20. Includes Spirit Blade: Special Edition and song bundle, Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual and song bundle, and Pilgrim's Progress: Similitude Of A Dream! $35 value!! Include your e-mail address with donation. Links will be issued by October 31st.)
Paeter will play a game (if available to him) or sing a song (if on i-tunes) of your choice during his 24-hour live stream for Christian Geek Central! (1st 5 donations of $25.)
Co-host an episode of the Spirit Blade Underground Podcast with Paeter! (1st 3 donations of $50. Include your e-mail address with donation. Redemption of this bonus prize expires March 1st 2015.)
Please help us represent Christ well as we aim to look outside of ourselves toward the needs of others. Even a donation of $5 would be a wonderful help to us as we endeavor to tangibly and visibly bear the image of Christ to these kids and their families.

To help us reach our goal:

1. Visit the Spirit Blade Productions store 
or
2. Click on any team member on the Christian Geek Central Extra-Life Page! 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Left Behind or Why Christian Movies Suck (SBU Podcast)


Some thoughts on the Left Behind movie and why Christian movies suck. Plus some "Trek Talk" as Matt McKinney shares his favorite episode of all time!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews Recap, 1:1-7:3



A significant theme of Hebrews so far has been "holding on to hope and confidence in Yahweh so that we can be engaged in his plans and experience his blessing and rest".

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Gotham, Agents Of SHIELD and Game Emulation Part 3 (SBU Podcast)



Some thoughts on the "Gotham" tv series premiere, the Agents Of SHIELD season premiere and the conclusion of our look at game emulation and abandonware. Plus, a "Summer Of Free" Aftershock!

Stractics Download Link-  http://www.spiritblade.net/downloads/Stractics_Rules_and_Printouts.rtf


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Should Christians Use Emulators And Abandonware (Part 3)




This is part 3 of an examination of video game emulation in an effort to answer the question, "Should Christians use emulators or Abandonware."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Should Christians Use Emulators And Abandonware? (Part 2)



This is part 2 of an examination of video game emulation in an effort to answer the question, "Should Christians use emulators or Abandonware."

To answer this question, I think there are four key elements to consider:
1. Is console game emulation legal?
2. What does the Bible say about our obligation to obey man-made laws?
3. To what standard are we held accountable in our obedience to man-made laws and/or the Bible?
4. What are the consequences for Christians who disobey man-made laws or commands of scripture?

In part one I did the best I could to examine the issue from the legal side of things, and concluded that playing unofficially emulated or Abandonware games is illegal in almost every case.

The ONLY scenario I can come up with for being able to play such games legally is if you personally own the original game AND you PERSONALLY created the backup copy (not downloaded it from online) AND you are playing it on an emulator that does NOT use any code from the BIOS of the original console.

But I can't even confirm that THAT scenario would be 100% legal. So even in this best case scenario, proceed with caution. And in all other cases, you are violating the law if you play emulated or Abandonware games.

I've enjoyed playing a number of emulated games and some abandonware as well. So for me that' s a tough pill to swallow. But maybe it shouldn't be. How important is it really for us as Christians to obey the laws of corrupt, man-made government? Especially laws like this that may seem extremely stupid and pointless at times? What does the Bible have to say about Christians and their relationship to man-made laws and governments?

(Romans 13:1-5, ESV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

In Romans 13:1-5, the apostle Paul teaches that Christians should submit to the authorities over them, specifically, the government.

The primary reason is that all authority structures and figures are put in place by God, according to what he wants to accomplish on earth in the short or long-term. (v.1, and Romans 8:28) Governing authorities are even called the "servants" of God (Romans 13:4)! This is surprising, since we know from experience that many of our leaders and law-makers are not Christians and they also make and enforce some laws that are flawed.

Despite the shortcomings of man made rulers and laws, however, they still serve God's overall plans. In fact, even their shortcomings and failures will serve God's ultimate agenda to bring about the best possible outcome. God has a history of using unbelieving or corrupt leaders to bring about his will. (See Jeremiah 25:9 and Isaiah 45:1-6) God is also in the business of using flawed or even evil choices to bring about the best possible good.

Joseph tells his brothers, who betrayed him, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20, ESV)

(Romans 8:28, ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

When we ignore laws our governments have put in place, we’re ignoring the authority that God himself has put in place. We can’t easily separate disobedience to government from disobedience to God.

Copyright laws may seem little or inconsequential. Breaking copyright law in the privacy and secrecy of our homes may seem like a victimless crime. It may seem like many people, including those charged with enforcing these laws, don't care about them or view them as important. But it doesn't change the fact that they are laws established by authorities God has placed over us. Disregarding these laws isn’t just brushing off “the man”, it’s brushing off Yahweh, the God of all creation. And the consequences or punishments that may follow are a part of God’s response. (Romans 13:2)

We are not permitted to pick and choose which laws we want to follow based on our own ideas of how good or important each law is. The only exception we see in scripture is when a man-made law or authority demands that we disobey a command of God.  (Daniel 3:28, Daniel 6:6-10, Acts 4:19, 5:29)

Now if I'm honest with myself and transparent with you, I have to admit that when I am faced with a choice to obey or disobey and it feels to me like the choice to disobey has little consequence and won't hurt anyone, I sometimes tell myself, "Hey, remember! You're forgiven! Your sins of the past, present and future are dealt with. Including the sin you're about to choose right now! So just do it and gain the satisfaction you want. You've had a rough day and choosing this would make you feel better. It's not that big a deal."

Or is it? If believers in Jesus have no reason to ever fear eternal punishment, why obey? Are there any consequences, in this life or eternity, for choose obedience or disobedience? And what about disobeying "stupid little laws" like those related to copyright. Exactly how good are we supposed to be as Christians? Doesn't all this smell like extreme, religious legalism?

We'll take a look at those questions next time in Part 3!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Should Christians Use Emulators And Abandonware? (Part 1)



"Should Christians use Emulators or Abandonware?"

By emulators I mean software made unofficially by one or more people to allow users to play console video games on their PC. By "Abandonware" I mean software that is no longer being supported by its owner that can be found for free download online by unofficial third-parties.

Right up front I'll let you know that I have used unofficial emulators and roms ( "roms" are digital copies of console games) many times and played some Abandonware games. I played the original Japanese Final Fantasy 3 from beginning to end, as well as much of Dragon Quest 6 and some of Final Fantasy 5 on emulators. On top of that I've dabbled in numerous other games through emulation that have been too many for me to keep track of. So I am no stranger to unofficial game emulation and abandonware.

When emulation first came on the scene a number of years ago, the legalities involved were pretty murky and grey. And even in recent years the legal aspects of emulation trigger a multitude of responses when the topic comes up.

On the forums of video game site GiantBomb.com, the question was asked: "Is Emulation Illegal Or
Not"? Here is a sample of some replies:

"Technically yes, but at this point no one gives a crap."

"Do you know anyone who has been arrested for video game emulation?"

"Well, if you've owned the cartridge before, no it's not. But if you haven't nobody really cares at this point."

"Not like you're going to get caught, so doesn't matter. Sorry, but it doesn't. I've done it in the past to revisit some of the older games on SNES that I don't have but have rented long long ago, and wanted to play some GBA games. You're technically not stealing it as long as you don't keep it right? Right.
Oh whatever. Ha ha."

"No one really cares."

"Actual emulation is legal. There's is nothing wrong with one machine emulating another machine, it just when you start stealing software or disregarding licensing agreements things start to get a little dicey."

"I've never heard anyone get in trouble for it. I'm going to call it de facto legal if nobody bothers to enforce the law."

"My policy is ... no one will know if i don't tell em :) (well not really they can find my IP but whatevs)"

"Emulators aren't strictly illegal, and neither are copied games. It's the distribution of copied games outside of personal use that is illegal. Think of it like ripped dvds. While dvd rippers aren't strictly illegal, the distribution of ripped dvds are."

"As far as games and systems that are out of circulation go, they still belong to their respective publishers. It's always a possibility that they might re-release them. It's very rare for games to go truly free, even after going out of print for a long time."

"Its not illegal to run emulator software. Nor is it illegal to make your own roms as long as you have the original. Everyone has the right to create backups of they're own bought goods for private purposes Its when you download a ROM you don't own that it becomes illegal even if the emulator itself is completely legal. For clarification its also illegal to download a ROM of a game you already own since the seeder is not allowed to distribute software that is not theirs. Any Emulator + home made romz of self bought goods for strictly private use is legal."


I've been hearing mixed and contradicting responses to this question for years. And most responses seem to be based on second, third or eighth hand information. Until a few months ago I hadn't really made an effort to look into the issue myself. In part because law can be very complex and technical and I wasn't sure I was equipped to find the answers, nor was I sure that the answers could even be found through the means at my disposal. But if I'm honest, a significant reason I hadn't pursued more understanding of this issue in the past is because I was afraid I might not like what I discovered. This is not a quest any Christian is likely to undertake when they are in the middle of playing an unofficially emulated game or piece of abandonware that they really enjoy. But as I have found myself for awhile now without any games I'm interested in playing through unofficial emulation or abandonware, I've concluded this is probably the best time to hunt down answers that I can consider objectively.

To be clear, I'm looking for an answer to a very specific question. "Should Christians use emulators or abandonware?" I'm not JUST asking if the practice is legal. And I'm not expecting my findings to be applied to non-Christians. I'm specifically asking whether or not a Bible-believing Christian should use a game console emulator.

To answer this question, I think there are four key elements to consider:

1. Is console game emulation legal?
2. What does the Bible say about our obligation to obey man-made laws?
3. To what standard are we held accountable in our obedience to man-made laws and/or the Bible?
4. What are the consequences for Christians who disobey man-made laws or commands of scripture?

The first element will take much longer than the others to examine, I think. So we'll just focus on the legal aspects of the issue this time and try to address the other aspects next time in Part 2.


EMULATION AND U.S./INTERNATIONAL LAW

Tracking down actual legal information on this topic has been difficult, and some might argue inconclusive. I'm no lawyer, so naturally I'm not presenting legal advice here. But the information I found in my search was close enough to reading the actual law in black and white (which I WAS able to do in some cases) to bring me to a conclusion on the issue.

In 2013, a lawyer at the Metro UK entertainment website offered his thoughts on the issue of emulation. I should add that this lawyer stated clearly that he is not a case lawyer in the realm of copyright law, nor should his thoughts be taken as legal advice.  Even so, regarding game console emulators he said:

They are perfectly legal. There has been case law to this effect in both the UK and the USA....The caveat here is that, in coding the software, you cannot use the same lines of code as used in the original code....The problem is when the emulator is used in conjunction with a ROM image, either of a game or of the BIOS file that may be needed to ‘complete’ the emulation (the BIOS file is essentially a copy of the original code used to boot the console).

Link to full article:  http://metro.co.uk/2013/02/16/the-legality-of-emulation-part-1-readers-feature-3479741/

And while we're gaining some international perspective on this issue, there's an important factor worth noting. Because of the Berne Convention, countries are required to respect the copyright laws of other countries. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention) So for example, if you live in Russia and want to download material that has a U.S. or Japan copyright without permission of the copyright holder, you are still violating the laws of Russia. If the emulator you are using uses the BIOS of the original console it is emulating, your emulator is illegal.

Back to the topic of BIOS files. How can you know what BIOS your emulator is using? Hard to say. Many emulators for older, cartridge-based consoles do not require the installation of the original BIOS file. However this does not mean that the original BIOS is not already a part of the emulator software. However, if an emulator ever requires you to download the original BIOS of the console being emulated from a separate location, this is a big red flag, and likely an indication that they are aware that hosting a copy of the required BIOS themselves would be illegal. If you download the original BIOS of a console on a site not belonging to the copyright holder of that BIOS, you are violating copyright law.

So, is it illegal to use a game console emulator? Yes, if it unofficially makes use of the BIOS from the original console. Otherwise, no, it is not illegal. Good advice would be to stay sharp and be as informed as you can be about the nature of any emulator you use.

All that said, not many people use console emulators without playing games, or "ROMS". Is it legal to use unofficial ROMS?

Some of the best info on this issue can be found on Nintendo's own website. Yes, I can already hear you saying "Well of course Nintendo is going to say it's illegal to play unofficial ROMS. How can you trust the information on their site?" I would respond by saying that if Nintendo were to publicly misrepresent copyright law on their official website, they would be in a HUGE amount of trouble and would have been pounced on quickly for it. But the first time I looked at the legal portion of their website was around a year ago, and shenanigans have not been called on them yet. Yes, you'll sense their one-sided bias in what they write. They certainly don't try to enable the discovery of any loop-holes in the law on behalf of emulation gamers. But I'm convinced that they do not state anything that is false regarding copyright law on their site, and so their legal page serves as a useful resource as we look into the issue of game emulation. Especially since most game emulation is for that of Nintendo consoles and games.

Legal page at Nintendo: http://www.nintendo.com/corp/legal.jsp

With just a little bit of research you'll easily discover that by default it is illegal to use downloaded copies of ROMS. It's very common for gamers to assume that if you own or have previously owned the game you are using a downloaded ROM to emulate, you are protected by your right to have a back-up copy of software that you purchased. It's even more widely assumed that if you delete the ROM within 24-hours of downloading it you are not violating the law. To this Nintendo responds:

"The backup/archival copy exception is a very narrow limitation relating to a copy being made by the rightful owner of an authentic game to ensure he or she has one in the event of damage or destruction of the authentic. Therefore, whether you have an authentic game or not, or whether you have possession of a Nintendo ROM for a limited amount of time, i.e. 24 hours, it is illegal to download and play a Nintendo ROM from the Internet."

Pretty clear cut. However note the exception that even Nintendo acknowledges. If the copy is made BY the actual, rightful owner in order to retain a copy in the event of the original's damage or destruction, it would appear the ROM can be considered legitimate. At least in the UK. (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/section/50A) I have not been able to locate proof of such a law's existence anywhere else. Please let me know if you find online documentation of a parallel law in the US. However, notice that even if you own the original game, your copy of the game must be made BY YOU in order for it to be legal.

One device suited to this purpose is the "Retrode", which creates digital ROMS using original SNES cartridges.(http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2012/01/turn_your_retro_cartridges_into_roms_legally) But once again, this may only be legal for UK gamers. And as a reminder, I'm no lawyer.

Now, what about the fact that many games being emulated are no longer available for purchase? Have their copyrights expired? Have they become "Abandonware"?
Regarding game copyrights, Nintendo states:

"U.S. copyright laws state that copyrights owned by corporations are valid for 75 years from the date of first publication."

They go on to say:

"the copyrights of games are valid even if the games are not found on store shelves, and using, copying and/or distributing those games is a copyright infringement."

But what about Abandonware? For starters, "abandonware" is not a legal concept. As Wikipedia states, "Although such software is usually still under copyright, the owner may not be tracking or enforcing copyright violations." The "Abandon" part of "Abandonware" refers to the direct involvement of the copyright owner in enforcing the copyright or in supporting the product. It does NOT refer to a lapse in copyright for the product.

In a nutshell, whether the copyright owner of a game is doing anything with the game or not, they still own the copyright and the law is still being broken when a person downloads their games for free without their express permission. This applies to both ROMS and old PC "Abandonware" games.

To sum up the legal portion of this issue, playing unofficially emulated or Abandonware games is illegal in almost every case.

The ONLY scenario I can come up with for being able to play such games legally is if you personally own the original game AND you PERSONALLY created the backup copy (not downloaded it from online) AND you are playing it on an emulator that does NOT use any code from the BIOS of the original console. But I can't even confirm that THIS scenario is 100% legal. So even in this scenario, proceed with caution. And in all other cases, you are violating the law if you play emulated or Abandonware games.

I know for me that's a tough pill to swallow. But maybe it shouldn't be. How important is it really for us as Christian to obey the laws of corrupt, man-made government? Especially laws like this that may seem extremely stupid and pointless at times? What does the Bible have to say about Christians and their relationship to man-made laws and governments? Stay tuned! We'll take a look at that in Part 2!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gamers Helping Kids! Join The CGC "Extra Life" Team!



Hey Everyone!

The Extra-Life marathon gaming charity event is just 7 weeks away! I'm now officially entering "recruitment mode" in hopes of filling the ranks of the Christian Geek Central Team!

There are two chief ways you can be involved in this event:

The first way to be involved is to do your own gaming marathon as a part of the Christian Geek Central team. (Any kind of gaming, including board/card and Pen and Paper RPGs!)The Extra-Life organization is pretty loose with the "rules" of the event. So if you can't do 24 consecutive hours of gaming, you are welcome to split it up over multiple days. In the spirit of teamwork, participants are encouraged to complete their hours sometime on or near October 25th. You can choose to do it alone or involve your friends/family. No one from Extra-Life will be keeping track of when or even if you do your marathon hours. It's all on the honor system and the bottom line is about raising money for children in need of medical care. You can let your donors know that even if you burn out before hitting 24 hours, all of their donation will still go to the charity.

Raising money is actually very simple as well. You are encouraged to contact as many people as possible with the goal of getting at least 10 people to donate $10-$20 to the cause, with your personal goal being to achieve $100-$200 in donations. If you're shy or don't like writing, Extra-Life also provides a nice letter that you can use or modify as you seek donations. You also don't have to collect any money yourself, but simply direct people to a webpage where they can donate online.

As a member of the Christian Geek Central team, you are welcome to choose the Phoenix Children's Hospital as the hospital you wish to support, or choose from hundreds of other hospitals that are also part of the Children's Miracle Network.

For more information, or to sign up to join the Christian Geek Central Team and do a marathon, go to:

http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=15081

As you can imagine, doing something like this takes some advance planning to make room for it in your schedule, which is why I'm recruiting so early. I hope to have most of the Christian Geek Central team signed up by October 1st. Late-comers will of course be welcome to join, but they will have less time to raise funds for the event.

So if this option interests you, please take a good look at your schedule, talk to those in your life it will effect, and then visit the link above to get started!


The second option is, of course, to donate! if you'd like to donate in partnership with my efforts, you can do so here:

http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=92024

However feel free to wait and support another team member if you'd like. I'm making this option available now but will not beginactively seeking donations until the beginning of October.

I hope you'll be able to partner with me in both a celebration of the gift of games and an effort to be the hands of Jesus in the lives of hurting children.

Thanks!

-Paeter Frandsen

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Action Figures! (SBU Podcast)



A conversation about why geeks love collecting Action Figures! Plus, some thoughts and reflections for creative geeks taken from Psalm 39.

Friday, August 29, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 7:1-3



First some quick background on Melchizedek, since the author of Hebrews is drawing a lot from what little we know of him.

In Genesis 14, Abram (who would become Abraham), the father of the Hebrew people, had just returned from rescuing a family member out from the middle of a conflict between kingdoms. Two kings met Abram as he returned. One was the "king of Salem", Melchizedek. He gave Abram bread and wine and blessed him. After receiving the blessing, Abram gave Melchizedek 1/10th of everything he gained from his recent victory in battle. The account in Genesis also identifies Melchizedek as "priest of God Most High".

Genesis 14 tells us all that we know about Melchizedek. Yet the author of Hebrews says that Jesus is a High Priest "after the order of Melchizedek". This phrase comes from Psalm 110, and refers not necessarily to a formal "order of priests" as we would think of an "order of monks". The Hebrew word for "order" means "manner". So the "Lord"(Adonai) of Psalm 110, who is identified in Hebrews as Jesus, is in some way a priest "in the same manner" as Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:20) The author then makes some observations about Melchizedek that he later applies to Christ.

v.1-3

Melchizedek was a king, but was also priest of "The Most High God". He blessed Abraham. The author will comment on this later. Then Abraham gave Melchizedek 1/10th of the spoils of battle.

In ancient times, this kind of tithe was common as a way of thanking a god for victory in battle. This indicates that Abraham recognized that Melchizedek represented Yahweh, and so Abraham honored Yahweh through his tithe to Melchizedek.

The author tells his readers that the Hebrew name "Melchizedek" translates to "king of righteousness", and that his status as the "king of Salem" makes him the "king of peace", since "Salem" comes from the Hebrew word for "peace".

The author observes that, as far as the record is concerned, Melchizedek is "without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever". The author isn't saying here that Melchizedek literally had no parent, that he was never born and never died. He is showing us that the absence of information about Melchizedek is significant concerning how the record of Melchizedek can be metaphorically applied to Christ.

There are already several implications about Jesus we can see in these verses.

1. Jesus is a king. His role is to rule over us. If we are thinking of Jesus in the right way, we should remember that he is our boss.

2. Jesus is a priest of the Highest and greatest God in existence. Any other so-called "gods" are cheap imitations in comparison to the Most High God, and yet we have access to relationship with this God through Jesus, who acts as the perfect, priestly go-between.

3. Jesus is a "righteous" king. This classically "churchy" word in its broad sense means "in the state one ought to be" or "in a state that is pleasing to God". If someone is "righteous", they are living in the "right" mode according to God's perfect standards.

4. Jesus is the king of peace. The implications aren't spelled out here, but we know from scripture elsewhere that Jesus will bring about peace in his ultimate reign over humanity and already brings about the peace of reconciliation between God and humanity. (Colossians 1:19-20, Revelation 21:3-4)

5. Jesus has no beginning or end. At the time this was written, the genealogy of a priest was important. If the lineage of a priest could not be confirmed he could not serve as a priest. (Nehemiah 7:64) So the idea that Jesus did not HAVE a genealogy (speaking of his divine nature) places him in a totally different category from all other priests.

So what do all of these traits of Jesus mean for our day to day grind through life?

I think being a geek can often come with an increased concern for what people think of you. That's certainly true in my case. Even before I was a geek I was overly concerned with the approval of others, and embracing my geekiness in later childhood and adulthood seemed to bring with it increased preoccupation with how others perceive me.

But Jesus sees me as I really, truly am. He doesn't fall for the image I try to present to others. I am completely exposed to him. And that brings some discomfort as I become more aware of the reality of that exposure.

I think in the light of that exposure we can tend to over-emphasize certain traits of Jesus and de-emphasize others that make us uncomfortable. But it's those contrasting traits of Jesus that make him the perfect fit for our needs, and I see that in these first verses of Hebrews chapter 7.

He is my king. He's the boss. I am not permitted to compartmentalize any part of my life. He has the right to rule over every shadowed corner of who I am.

By contrast, he's my priest. He opens the door and welcomes me into Yahweh's throne room. He  makes it possible for me to not simply cower and tremble in relationship with God, but to run up to his throne and into his arms. Scripture tells us that through Jesus we now have God not just as our father, but as our "daddy"! (As the word "Abba" translates in the New Testament. Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6)

Jesus is righteous. He himself lives perfectly and commands us to live perfectly. (Matthew 5:48) There is a net of mercy and grace when we fail, but that does not nullify the command to chase after perfection.

By contrast, Jesus is the king of peace. We will repeatedly, shamefully fail. But that same righteousness of Jesus is now credited to those who place their faith in him, which means there is no reason in the slightest for conflict between us and God. We have peace with him now, and are promised complete peace in the future, when our struggle with sin itself will be over and gone.

Jesus is the ultimate priest. It's good to confess and wrestle through sins with other believers(James 5:16). But Jesus alone provides restored relationship with God. He's not like the leaders we have in our local churches, as useful as they are and as grateful as we should be for their service. Jesus doesn't get tired. He knows the pain of resisting temptation and has felt the consequences of sin, but he has no corruption or hypocrisy in him. He will never retire or have a schedule that's too busy for you. And he is affirming each of us to Yahweh every moment, saying, "Yes. I paid for her sin. Yes, I died for him."

I'm discovering that life with this Jesus is difficult at times. There is straining and stretching. But because of who he is, there is also rest and untiring love, forgiveness and acceptance.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

T-Shirts 15% Off!!


From now until September 2nd you can get our T-Shirt at 15% off the regular price! A variety of colors, sizes and fits are available, so don't miss this chance to express your Christ-honoring geekery and support the efforts of Spirit Blade Productions at the same time!

To take advantage of this sale, use the promo code SHIRTS15 when you checkout from our spreadshirt store!

Don't wait! This sale will come and go before you know it!


Friday, August 22, 2014

GenCon and Table Top Games (Inside Paeter's Brain)

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 6:17-20



v.17-18

We're back-tracking just a bit this time to get a running start at the new verses we'll be looking at. In verses 13-18 of chapter 6, the author of Hebrews establishes the reliability of God's promises. He specifically cites God's promise to Abraham, to bless and multiply him, and then refers to later believers like us as "the heirs of the promise"(v.17).

In what ways do we "inherit" the promise to Abraham? This can be answered by looking at the "extended version" of the promise, which is only partially quoted in verse 14.

(Genesis 22:17-18, ESV) I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Jesus, as a descendant of Abraham, fulfills the promise that "in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed". And believers in Jesus are the "heirs" of this promise, who now benefit from this blessing promised thousands of years ago.

In verses 13-18 the author establishes the trustworthiness of Yahweh based on his character, and by referring to believers as "heirs of the promise" he reminds us that this particular promise to Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus. In this way, Jesus is tangible proof of God's character and a living example of how God is faithful to what he promises.

As Christians, our hope is not found by summoning up the strength to live in denial, embracing empty yet comforting thoughts. The testimony of history and applied logic is that Jesus was and is the "one of a kind" Son of God, who proved his identity through his physical resurrection. This being the case, we know we can trust in God to make good on his promises, which includes the promise of blessing and rest as we love, trust and serve him.

v.19

The hope we have in God's promise of blessing and rest, based on the reality of Jesus' resurrection, acts as an "anchor" for our souls. Since the purpose of an anchor is to keep a boat from drifting away, this seems to specifically call back to the author's warnings for believers not to "drift" or "fall" away. (Hebrews 2:1, 6:6) Pursuit and remembrance of truth yields hope in the life of the believer.

This hope we have has another layer to it as well. Our hope in God's promised rest and blessings acts as a stabilizer in life's stormy seasons, but it also allows for close relationship with Yahweh.

The reference to going "behind the curtain" is a reminder that in our default, fallen state, we have no access to relationship with God. Before Jesus paid for our sins, only a High Priest could enter the inner place in the temple associated with God's presence, and only once each year. (Leviticus 16) But the inner curtain covering this place was torn in half when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51), since through the sacrifice of Jesus there is no longer separation between God and humanity.

We now have hope that grows out of relational access to God. As believers in this life, we have the freedom to "have it out with God" as we struggle through difficult seasons. We have the freedom to ask boldly for blessing, based not on our merits, but on the merits of Jesus. And we can hope in anticipation of being fully reunited with God in the future.

v.20

In his perfect relationship with God the Father, Jesus acts as a "forerunner" for believers. Through Jesus as our ultimate high priest/mediator, we have relational access to God right now, and will have unhindered and direct access to God in his future kingdom on earth and throughout eternity.

Even as believers we experience a perceived distance from God right now. But Jesus gives us a glimpse of our current and future status. Right now, like junior copies of Jesus, we are "priests". No collar or formal training required. And as growing believers we mature in our roles as priests, eventually culminating in our re-creation as perfect priests, with the capacity to perfectly relate to God and represent him to others.

(Exodus 19:6, ESV) and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

(Revelation 1:4-6, ESV)  John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

(Revelation 20:6, ESV) Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

As for what it means for Jesus to be patterned after Melchizedek, we'll get a better idea of that in Chapter 7.

I've wondered lately if being a geek statistically increases the chances of someone feeling insecure about who they are. No matter how much we may assert that we're glad to be unique and that being a geek is cool, in my experience being a geek also means some funny looks and raised eyebrows now and then. And it never feels good.

I care entirely too much about what people think of me. And I do that because I'm constantly trying to base my identity around what I do. What I like, what I create, what I say and what I know. My natural tendency is to dislike having to rely on the righteousness of Jesus on my behalf. But a slowly crushing weight bears down on me with increasing intensity when I try to measure my identity and worth based on what I do. A weight that is only relieved when (often in tears these days) I give up and admit that I am not the person I'd like to envision myself as.

The strain and effort in trying to maintain that illusion for myself is taken away when I remember the reality of who I am: Someone who is (for some strange reason I don't get) loved deeply by the Creator of all reality. Someone strategically placed to represent God to others in a time and way that no one else can or will. Someone designed to help carry out God's agenda for the universe. Someone with unimaginable purpose and value that can't be improved upon or diminished by my efforts or shortcomings.

I can't do a thing to make myself more or less valuable. Neither can you. We are already more unique, valuable and significant than we can possibly understand in this life. And that reality can give us hope that pushes us onward into what God has for us in the next few hours, days and forever.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Voyages Of The USS Sasquatch: First Flight

The Spirit Blade Underground Alliance is pleased to present their newest audio drama:

Voyages Of The USS Sasquatch: First Flight

A young graduate prepares for her first space-faring assignment aboard an unusual ship with an unorthodox crew. But danger doesn't wait for preparations, and soon the crew of the USS Sasquatch holds the fate of many in their hands.

Download and listen to it now for free on The Spirit Blade Underground Alliance Page!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 6:13-18



v.13-15

A repeated theme of Hebrews so far has been "holding on to hope and confidence in Yahweh so that we can be engaged in his plans and experience his blessing and rest". In these verses, the author gives us an example of someone who did this well, and also builds a case for trusting in Yahweh based on his character and being.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 6:9-12



In previous verses, the author of Hebrews described a scenario in which believers could potentially become bitter toward God, even hating him and thinking of him in the same way that non-believers do. In this scenario, believers like these could live the rest of their mortal lives apart from God, making them spiritually unproductive.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Free Geeky Documentaries (SBU Podcast)



Free Geeky Documentaries, some "Trek Talk" about Klingons and a defense of "non-refundable" eternal life!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 6:4-8




We've arrived now at a passage that is often looked at out of context and interpreted to indicate that believers who have placed their faith in Jesus to gain eternal life can somehow lose the forgiveness and eternal life they've been given. Alternatively, some believe these verses teach that a person can experience a number of blessings that true believers experience, but not truly be a believer themselves. This view plays along nicely with the "Lordship Salvation" view, which teaches that a person is not truly saved from the judgment of God and granted eternal life unless their faith produces a certain amount of good works. What that certain amount might be is never clear, leaving those who accept this position with uncertainty regarding their eternal future.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Forever Evil Review/Listener Episode (SBU Podcast)


It's the annual Listener Created Episode, featuring a review of the Forever Evil comic series and a story of what one geek has learned and gained from marriage!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Christian Geek Central Temporarily Down

Just a heads up that christiangeekcentral.com is temporarily down. We were recently the victim of credit card fraud. Our compromised credit card has been deactivated and I didn't realize that CGC was due to auto-renew (using the now deactivated card) on 7/6/14. Great timing, huh?

The good folks at GoDaddy tell me that the site should be back up in 30-60 minutes, or up to 24 hours on the extreme long side of things.

So sorry for this oversight on my part. Thank you so much for your patience!

-Paeter

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 6:1-3 (Part 2)



This time we're looking at 4-6 of the six concepts included in what the author of Hebrews calls "the elementary doctrine of Christ". Again, it's not clear from this passage how much one should know about these ideas in order to "graduate" from the spiritual infancy the author refers to, but at the very least we can assume that these ideas are important and fundamental to living the Christian life and following Jesus.

4. Laying on of hands: This was a common church practice in this time period, and one with a broad range of uses. It was sometimes associated with an initial blessing or gifting from the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17, 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6, Acts 8:17-19, Mark 10:13-16). It was also sometimes accompanied by healing. (Mark 5:23; Acts 9:12; James 5:14)

The "laying on of hands" has never been a supernatural ability controlled by the individual, but is instead an act through which the Holy Spirit may or may not freely choose to bring about unique blessing of some kind.

The common thread of this act seems to be an expression of love and support, and a request for God's blessing (which may come in a variety of forms) on the person being touched. This is not some mysterious ritual, but a tangible way we are meant to encourage and bless each other.

This is another, somewhat uncomfortable reminder to me that the Christian life is not meant to be lived solo or only online. We're meant to physically spend time worshiping and learning with other believers while encouraging and praying for each other. As a highly introverted geek, I'd love to find some way to downplay the importance of this. Sometimes I think I'd be just fine if I lived in a hole by myself for the rest of my life, but scripture doesn't allow me to live life that way. And realistically I know it would be a miserable existence before too long.

5. The resurrection of the dead: Jews who knew their Tanakh (Old Testament) knew that a future day is appointed when God will raise everyone in history from the dead (John 11:23-24). Both those who worship Yahweh and those who do not will be physically raised from the dead. Although once raised, those who have rejected Jesus and by extension, Yahweh, will live a very different and tragic existence from those who chose to trust Jesus in this life. (Isaiah 26:19, Daniel 12:2-3, Revelation 20:13-15)  

The resurrection is an event that has already been kicked off, so to speak. The resurrection of Jesus served as a sort of "opening ceremonies" for the larger event. (1 Corinthians 15:23)

I think we can assume that mature believers should already understand the importance of Jesus' resurrection and should also be looking forward with anticipation to the final resurrection. The resurrection, in both senses, should be a foundational truth we find encouragement from. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

6. Eternal judgment: This idea goes hand in hand with the resurrection of the dead. The Bible paints a picture of everyone being raised to life at some point, and facing judgment afterward. The word "judgment" in modern popular culture has an immediately negative connotation, especially in a religious context. But it's worth remembering that judgment does not produce a negative outcome by definition. A court judge can judge in the favor of someone being accused just as easily as he or she can make a judgment against them.

Likewise in scripture we see two kinds of judgment from God happening in the future. A judgment involving reward and a judgment involving punishment. (See 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 20:13) A basic idea governing the biblical Christian life, is that this life is not all there is, but what we do in this life matters.

As geeks, our hobbies can be very useful as rest or mental exercise. But there comes a point when their usefulness is exhausted and they are merely taking up precious, finite time that could be invested in things that will last forever.

If I don't find all the pieces of that matching set of magical armor tonight, if I don't take down that boss that really has it coming to him, it won't matter anyway after this blink of a life is over. But if I take a moment to text or call that friend who is feeling unsettled, it could become a moment celebrated forever because it drew my friend and myself closer to each other and closer to the king of the universe.

Every day and moment we make choices that have eternal ramifications. As believers, we're not trying to earn good standing with God. We've given up on that pointless effort and are counting on Jesus to bail us out. But we are building up two different lists.

One is a list of things that will be celebrated forever, that we'll spend eternity learning how they interacted with God's sovereignty and the choices of others to create the most remarkable and intricate story ever told. The other is a list of things we chose to do instead of investing in God's agenda. A list we won't be condemned for, but also a list that will not be celebrated, as it is made up only of missed opportunities to invest in something better.

I'm so grateful this life isn't it, and that the life after this isn't just an extended version of the mess we live in now. I'm so grateful I won't spend eternity weighed down by shame and regret over things done and left undone. But at the same time I want to build on the list of things that will be celebrated in eternity. And the ridiculous, tireless grace of God means that every moment is a fresh chance to do that.