Monday, April 30, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Acts 23:12-35

Although Paul survived his interrogation before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious and cultural authorities, Paul was still being held prisoner by them. However, Jesus appeared to Paul and told him that he would testify to the facts about him in Rome. (v.11) So Paul knew he would not die or be imprisoned in Jerusalem forever.

The zealous Jews mentioned in verse 12 give us an example of what can happen when we "follow our hearts" rather than make truth our highest priority and guide. Over 40 men had worked themselves into a frenzy and despite clear scriptural commands against murder, vowed to kill Paul before eating again. Even the Jewish religious leaders agreed to be a part of this plot. (v.12-15) They ignored their hypocrisy or used some form of twisted logic to make scripture seem to say things that it doesn't. And even the vow of the 40 zealous Jews, as pious as it sounded, only required an atonement offering be made if they broke it.

As much as we may commit ourselves to understanding and obeying the truth of the Bible, we are still just as capable of subtly twisting or working around the truth to satisfy our own agendas. Fiction, especially in the fantasy genre, is fond of making religious authorities hypocrites who have long forgotten truth and seek only their own petty ends. But the truth is that none of us need a title or a fancy collar to manipulate truth to serve our own agendas. The moment we believe we are skilled at discerning is the same moment we should allow our beliefs to be examined again, by scripture and by others pursuing truth.

 Despite the plot against Paul, God orchestrated events so that an ally heard about the plan and reported it to Paul, who then connected him with the tribune that had originally detained Paul for "questioning". (v.16-22) The tribune was was no ally to Paul, but likely recognized the mess he had on his hands. So he prepared a military escort to get Paul safely before the governor, including a letter that explained the situation, while subtly glossing over the fact that the tribune nearly had a Roman citizen tortured. The letter also assumed that the tribune would order Paul's accusers to appear before the governor to make their case against Paul. This plan was carried out successfully, and after verifying that Paul was in his jurisdiction, the governor agreed to hear his case. (v.23-35)

As much as it may seem like we are subject to people who exercise power over us, everyone is subject to God, whether they know and acknowledge it or not. Jesus said that Paul would live to go to Rome. Against the odds, a friend of Paul overheard some crucial words and brought them to a self-serving tribune who, out of self-preservation, wound up preserving Paul from an organized attempt against his life.

Talk about this post or anything else on your mind on our forums!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thunderstone Advance Review (SBU Podcast)

Thursday, April 26, 2012 1:22 PM

A retro review of the sci-fi movie "Time Rider" and my review of the dungeon crawling, non-collectable card game Thunderstone Advance. Plus a look at the fun and fault of the phrase "What If".

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Want Your Opinions For The Podcast!

Over the summer I plan to make some changes that will help to freshen up the podcast and the Spirit Blade community. I'd LOVE to get your thoughts on the podcast! What would you miss if I took it out of the show? What WOULDN'T you miss if it vanished? I'd also love your brainstorming ideas for potential new content.

Your thoughts and suggestions don't need to be thought out or reasonable. I just want a bunch of ideas to throw in a pot and stew over. EVERY idea will be considered. And who knows, your feedback may result in a new facet of the show that becomes a defining attribute attracting new listeners in the future!

A discussion has already begun on our forums. So drop by the topic thread and give me YOUR thoughts, too!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thunderstone Advance (Game Review)

Although it's been pretty rare in the past for me to officially review a board game (just once so far for "Doom"), I'm considering doing a little more of it in the future. And starting with Thunderstone Advance seemed like a no-brainer.

Thunderstone Advance is the latest version of the Thunderstone game. It is played almost entirely with cards (with an additional board and some tokens) and simulates a classic fantasy dungeon crawl. Thematically speaking, each player is the leader of a team of heroes who enter a dungeon to fight monsters, collect loot, gain experience, upgrade equipment and abilities and claim the Thunderstone, an artifact of great power.

Each player starts with the exact same deck of 12 cards. On their turns, players draw a hand of 6 cards which will contain a combination of heroes, items, spells and resources that can be used to either enter the dungeon and defeat monsters, or visit the village to purchase more goods and upgrade equipment. Some cards are better for dungeon trips and others work best when visiting the village. It's up to the player to make the decision each turn on where and how to use the cards in his hand.

Cards can be purchased and upgraded in the village. Treasure and gold cards can be found in the dungeon. But these additional cards can swell the deck and make it harder for players to get the cards they want each turn. For this reason, players can also choose to do nothing on a turn except remove one card in their hand from the deck forever. Various cards found in the game can also help to remove cards from a player's deck. As the game progresses, players are adding and subtracting cards from their deck to both make them effective in the dungeon and increase the number of victory points that will be totaled at the end of the game to determine a winner.

Monster combat is very simple. A row of 4 monsters is laid on the table, with those furthest to the right being the deepest in the dungeon. The deeper in the dungeon, the higher light penalty a monster has, due to the increasing darkness underground. To defeat a monster, a player needs to have enough total damage capability in his hand to meet or exceed a monster's health. They also need enough light points (from "torch" cards and similar light sources) to overcome light penalties which may reduce their damage capability. No dice are rolled. You either have the cards you need or you don't. Though there is still luck and risk involved, as some cards will let you draw a card from your deck to help you, but only AFTER you commit to attacking a monster. As monsters are defeated, the dungeon refills from a monster deck until the Thunderstone is found near the bottom.

Thunderstone has numerous expansions, though Thunderstone Advance has plenty of replay value on its own. The variety of heroes, monsters and equipment available is great, even without expansions.

Games can take from 1-2 hours (longer as you're learning the game), though you can easily shorten a game by simply creating a smaller monster deck.

For hardcore strategy players, Thunderstone may not scratch quite the same itch as Descent: Journeys In The Dark. But that can also be a plus, as it has been for me. Unlike more complicated fantasy strategy games, Thunderstone can be played in much less time, which will likely mean you can find more people to try it and more opportunities to play. (My wife won't eat up an afternoon with Descent, but really enjoys playing Thunderstone with me!) The turn sequence is also designed so that much of the strategic thinking happens while other players are taking their turns, meaning the game is not slowed down as often by "analysis paralysis", since when a player's turn comes, they've already had time to think about what they are going to do with the cards they have.

Although Thunderstone is technically played competitively, you are usually not directly interacting with or against other players, but instead are working mostly independently to accumulate victory points, which determine a winner at the end of the game. I avoid competitive games like the plague, but this one I really enjoy even in the competitive mode. That said, there are also solo/co-op rules which work very well. In fact more than half of the games I've played have been solo, and I've enjoyed them almost as much as playing with someone else.

Ideally, the story would play a stronger role. The art is fantastic and makes me want to experience more of the world of Thunderstone. But apart from some VERY small flavor text and a few bits in the rulebook, the story is not involved in play at all. It would also be nice to have more interaction with other players in the co-op mode (though I don't miss it in the versus mode). But these are small complaints against a really fantastic gaming experience.

I highly doubt much conversation or thought on spiritual matters will come out of the playing the game, especially with the lack of story. It's remotely possible Islam could come up at some point, since Thunderstone Advance contains "Djinn" as a monster class, which finds its origins in Muslim legend. A Djinn is an invisible spirit mentioned in the Koran and believed by Muslims to inhabit the earth and influence mankind by appearing in the form of humans or animals. Similar in some ways to the concept of angels.

Despite the unlikelihood of the game itself stimulating thoughts on spiritual matters, the cooperative or downplayed competitive modes of the game lend themselves to a more friendly and social gaming atmosphere for casual gamers who may be put off by cut-throat competitive games. This makes the game a wonderful activity to build a friendship over.

Quality: 9.5/10 

Relevance: 5.5/10

Friday, April 20, 2012

No Podcast (I'm "Thunderstoning"!)

In case you forgot after my announcement at the end of the show last week, there will be no podcast this weekend. I'm recording with two out of state actors and "Thunderstoning" the rest of the weekend away with my gaming buddy, Mark!

See you next week!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What A.I. Says About Human Nature

I think AI almost always provides fertile ground for discussion of human nature. Usually science fiction goes the "Star Trek's Data" or "Short Circuit" route, where a lightning bolt here or a special chip there can create real emotion and self-awareness. The implication, intentional or not, is that humans are nothing more than "meat-machines", with no intangible (spiritual) nature, since their defining characteristics can be reproduced exclusively in the physical realm.

Although sometimes sci-fi supports a non-naturalistic view. Such as the recent Battlestar Galactica (in which the Cylons are made by humans but implanted with souls by "God") or Terminator: Salvation (and the Sarah Connor Chronicles, R.I.P.) which argue for the idea that machines, no matter how intelligent, cannot gain true self-awareness.

Would you guys agree that AI concepts always fall into one of these categories, or is there another way you've seen it used in fiction? Maybe we could try listing uses of the AI concept in fiction and categorizing them as supporting either a Naturalistic or Supernatural view of humanity?

For example, I think Naturalistic examples of AI include:

Data (Star Trek TNG)
Johnny 5 (Short Circuit)
"The Doctor" (Star Trek Voyager)
Agent Smith, and most other machines/programs (The Matrix)
The programs and the "Isos" (Tron: Legacy)

Supernatural supporters would include:

The Terminator franchise
Battlestar Galactica
AIA (Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual, shameless plug)

Any thoughts or examples to add?

Join the discussion we've started on the Spirit Blade Underground Forums!

Monday, April 16, 2012

In Search Of Truth, The Fun And The Fault Of "What If"

The phrase "what if" is the birth of every great idea in sci-fi and fantasy. For as long as stories have been told, it has sparked new thought in the storyteller's mind.

An accepted truth provides the foundation, and then "what if" is introduced to turn that foundation around or explore it from a new angle. Although the probability of a given "what if" is important for telling more realistic stories, many sci-fi and fantasy stories throw probability and plausibility out the window and simply enjoy seeing where the wildest "what ifs" will take them.

Some of the fiction I most enjoy sets realism aside in many respects and commits to the craziest "what ifs" the storytellers can think of. This is the magic and excitement of "what if" and the realm in which it best realizes its full potential.

However in a search for the truth about any given thing, "what if" can only be helpful as a starting point for an investigation, rather than an end point at which we determine what we believe. Unfortunately I've run into some fellow fans of sci-fi and fantasy that give "what if" more power than they should, and I sometimes do it myself in ways that are harmful.

For example, a year or two ago I was talking to a sci-fi fan about the Old Testament. He said something to the effect of, "Couldn't those 'chariots of fire' referred to in the Old Testament actually be alien spacecraft instead of angels? Maybe all angels are really just aliens."

In another conversation with a fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, someone said "I think vampires could be real. I mean all of these stories we've developed could be based on SOME kind of truth."

Sometimes when I'm overtired and emotionally vulnerable, irrational thoughts (not based on any particular reasoning) will briefly enter my mind such as, "What if everything I believe about God and the Bible is full of crap? What if Christians are just deluding themselves?"

The problem with all of these thoughts is that they are based on "what ifs" and not logic, reason or cross-referenced evidence and sound arguments.

The idea that the angels describes in the Bible could be aliens completely ignores the context of the accounts in which they appear and also assumes that the eye-witnesses were simpletons that couldn't find more accurate ways to describe what they were seeing.

The idea that vampires may actually be real ignores any potential search for the historically verifiable origins of the concept of vampires and makes massive assumptions about where storytellers of the past gained inspiration for their ideas.

The thought that I may be deluding myself regarding the existence of God and veracity of the Bible ignores the wealth of reliable evidence I've sorted through over the years (and continue to sort through), including the historical evidence and reliability of the Biblical record (ESPECIALLY when compared to every other text of antiquity and any and all alternative religious texts).

As creative types and fans of wildly imaginative fiction, there comes a time when we need to draw a line between what could POSSIBLY be true, and what is most LIKELY to be true, basing our current beliefs on the latter.

There are a lot of things that are "possible". In fact just about anything stated in a logically coherent form IS "possible". But "what if" and "possible" are insufficient as guides to truth. "Probable" and "plausible", though still leaving a percentage of doubt, are much more reliable tools in a quest for the truth.

-Paeter Frandsen

Friday, April 13, 2012

Darkest Hour Review and Tom Vasel Preview (SBU Podcast)

Friday, April 13, 2012 9:10 PM

My Review of "The Darkest Hour", my thoughts on "Descent 2nd Edition" and a preview of my interview with Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower!

Descent: Second Edition News-

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The Darkest Hour (Movie Review)

Although I missed the chance to see "The Darkest Hour" in theaters, I was intrigued by the concept of the invisible, electrical monsters showcased in the trailer. I'm a big fan of monster movies, so when this flick came to redbox I gladly handed over my buck-fifty to give it a try.

A group of traveling, American twenty-somethings are in Moscow when all electrical devices short out and mysterious orange ribbons of light begin falling from the sky, splitting into multiple pieces and then becoming invisible once they reach the ground. Possessing intelligence and the ability to see electro-magnetic energy, the invisible creatures begin exterminating all humans in sight.

Soon the hip and attractive actors (Whoops! I mean believable and fully developed hero characters.) are on the run in a post apocalyptic Moscow, trying to survive long enough to see if there is any hope for the human race.

As you may have guessed, I didn't think very much of the acting in this movie. It's not that these actors are necessarily untalented. They just had terrible, obvious dialogue to work with and weren't directed well, as they consistently seemed to be slightly overplaying everything.

If these were stage performances, they might play much better. But on screen it just felt like a lot of actors saying their lines with what they thought were the appropriate mechanical expressions. The only actor that impressed me at all was the "villain", and in "character elimination horror" like this, his time was destined to be short.

The visual effects were solid in most respects, especially compared to the quality of the script. The chief visual gag as the aliens "shred" their victims is actually extremely cool! But not enough to save the film. Not by a long shot.

It's revealing that in the special features it's clear that the filmmakers seemed most focused on creating good special effects on a small budget. But the best small/indie sci-fi flicks give equal or greater attention to script and performances.

It keeps coming back to the dialogue and acting for me, doesn't it? The truth is, I can forgive a lot when it comes to story if the story is told creatively and compellingly. The Darkest Hour does neither, and actually presumes to use the last line of the movie to set up a sequel. (Yikes!)

In addition, when people do not behave like real people and the story is a color by numbers monster survival flick, there's no room left for anything that might stimulate thought about moral or spiritual matters.

If you need to kill time and this one is playing on tv, check it out. Otherwise, make a sharp turn in the opposite direction.

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some language.

Quality: 6.0/10
Relevance: 4.0/10

For information on the scoring system used in this review, visit
Listen to this review this weekend on The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spirit Blade 3 Production Begins!

Woohoo! Today is a very big day for me!

1. I'm turning 34! (Which means my mental pictures of Jesus as he was on earth will have to start getting strangely younger and younger relative to me.)

2. My wife bought me Thunderstone: Dragonspire as an "expansion" to Thunderstone Advance, which I bought three weeks ago. (Thunderstone rocks! Review coming soon!)

3. Kristen Self is coming over tonight to record for Spirit Blade 3!

That name probably isn't popping out to you even if you are a fan of Spirit Blade and Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual. But Kristen provides the voice for the computer in both audio dramas as well as the intro to the Spirit Blade Underground Podcast. And she'll be doing it one more time for Spirit Blade 3!

Our recording session will likely only last around 30 minutes or so. But even so, it will mark the end of pre-production and the start of production on Spirit Blade 3!

Hard to believe it's here! I've already got four other returning actors scheduled to record and before I know it guys like Randy Hesson and Michael Tully will be stepping up to the microphone to play their characters for what may be the last time ever!

I've decided to delay holding auditions for supporting roles until all of the principle performers have finished recording, but keep one eye here for audition announcements in the coming months.

Well I almost typed "back to work!" as my sign off, but remembered that apart from recording with Kristen I'm taking most of the night off for my birthday. So "back to play"!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, April 9, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Acts 22:23-23:11

Despite Paul's attempts to reason with the zealous Jewish mob in Jerusalem, they demanded his execution. The tribune, a Roman official, thought he could get to the bottom of things by torturing the truth out of Paul.

Paul had endured beatings before that were in accordance with Jewish law, but not a Roman beating, which was much more than the word implies. Roman beatings like this one used a leather whip with metal or bone woven into them, resulting in the victim's flesh being ripped off during torture. It was common for victims to die as a result of the experience.(22:23-24)

Either because of the threat of death or because he would now have legal grounds against his would-be torturers, Paul declares his Roman citizenship at this time. In fact when pressed, Paul declares that he was a citizen by birth, which comes with a higher social standing than someone like the tribune, who had purchased his citizenship.

Since it was illegal to torture a Roman citizen, both the torturers and the tribune in charge became nervous. This was a detail they should not have missed and could now be in serious trouble themselves if Paul brought charges against them. (22:25-29)

The tribune then cleverly sets Paul "free", but first orders the Sanhedrin to meet and drops Paul off in front of them. At this point, Paul has been technically set free from the tribune's supervision, but Rome respected the right for Jews to govern their own people through their religious institutions, and even backed up rulings of Jewish courts with troop assistance. So the tribune is no longer responsible for imprisoning Paul, but still doesn't have to worry about him causing trouble and getting the mob angry again.

The Sanhedrin was made up of two kinds of Jewish religious leaders from two different schools of thought. The Sadducees did not believe in angels, spirits or life after death. (So they're very "sad, you see". Yeah, lame. But a handy memory device to keep these guys straight.) The Pharisees believed in angels and spirits, and also believed in a future resurrection from the dead.

Again, Paul looks for common ground, calling the council members "brothers", and claiming he had lived his life in good conscience before God until now. Of course Paul remembered how he had persecuted Christians, but he likely means here that even at that time he was doing what he thought was right and in service to God. (23:1)

The Sanhedrin now had a new high priest, Ananias, not to be confused with the high priest who had been serving at the time of Jesus' crucifixion. History informs us that Ananias was a tool of the Roman government who was drawn to using violence in the court and had also been stealing temple money that should have gone toward some of the poorer priests incomes. He was far from having his people's best interests in mind and was in fact killed by Jews during an uprising only a few years after this. (See the IVP Bible Background Commentary, Keener. Pg. 391)

Ananias didn't like Paul's claim to innocence of conscience, and had him struck. But Paul responds by accusing the High Priest of wrongdoing, since he had already begun to administer punishment before guilt or innocence had been determined. Paul calls him a whitewashed wall, a metaphor that describes something that was corrupt but had been painted over to hide the corruption. (23:2-3)

There are a few reasons for which Paul may seem to be "apologizing" for his words against the high priest. One is that he honestly did not recognize him. It's believed that Paul had poor eyesight. This also may have been a less formal gathering in which the high priest was not wearing his usually identifying attire. The other possibility is that Paul was being sarcastic, making the point that the behavior of the high priest was completely contrary to his office. (23:4-5)

At this point, Paul uses a sort of "divide and conquer" method to, at the very least, prevent a unanimous decision against him. He identifies himself as a Pharisee (which he was) who had learned new information pertaining to the resurrection. The Pharisees were prepared to allow for this possibility, but of course the Sadducees were not, creating strong division and uproar in the meeting. (23:6-9)

Things even became violent, and once again the tribune had to remove Paul from the situation before he wound up getting himself killed. (23:10)

It looked as though things were going horribly in Jerusalem. Paul had done his best to present and defend the truth. But he was met repeatedly with unreasoning antagonism and even violent hatred.

Yet Jesus encouraged Paul the next night, telling him that he had been representing the truth well and that he would continue to do so, effectively guaranteeing Paul that he would get out of Jerusalem alive. (23:11) An encouraging guarantee to get, since Paul's troubles in Jerusalem weren't over yet...

Communicating our thoughts and beliefs to others, especially those who are hostile or defensive, is extremely challenging and stressful. Especially so for those of us in the geek community who are already uncomfortable talking to others, or seem to be skilled at putting our foot in our mouth. But experiencing difficulty in our conversations with others is NOT an indication that we are doing poorly, or that God is not using our words.

Like Paul, we should avoid being arrogant or reckless as we choose our words, appealing to scripture as the highest authority when dealing with Christians and reason and logic when dealing with unbelievers. And also like Paul we can be encouraged and know that Jesus is using us even when we don't seem to be successful. (Wow! Words for me if ever there were some!)

Have a question about the Bible? Come join the discussion or start a new topic on our forums!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Spider-man: Friend Or Foe" and "Sailor Moon" Reviews (SBU Podcast)

Thursday, April 05, 2012 9:04 PM

Reviews of Spiderman: Friend or Foe, Sailor Moon: The Manga and a look at the relationship between the concept of adventure and evil. Finally we'll try to answer the question, What makes this Friday "Good"?

Switch Over To The New Feed If You Haven't Yet!
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Submit Questions, Comments or Content(written or audio file) to:
call 206-350-1226 and leave a message for me to play on the show!

For Community, Free Stuff and TONS more, explore the rest of the growing "Spirit Blade" universe at-

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In Search Of Truth, What Makes This Friday "Good"?

The comedian Patton Oswalt once did a stand-up routine comparing Mel Gibson's "The Passion" to a hypothetical movie about Albert Einstein on the toilet with stomach flu. He thought it was odd to have a movie entirely focused on the worst day in Jesus' life instead of one focused on his teaching and healing, as though Jesus' death were, like a bad flu for Einstein, not worth even being a footnote in terms of its significance.

It was a funny routine for the mental image of Einstein alone. It also brings up a question worth focusing on. Why dwell on the suffering of Jesus? Why not skip straight to the victory of his resurrection? Why is "Good Friday" good when it commemorates such a horrific event?

Because the horror of what happened to Jesus was far more than a simple tragedy.

Even most non-Christians in America are probably superficially familiar with the idea that Jesus "paid for our sins". But many find this an odd idea, not understanding why we NEED our sins to be paid for. We're pretty much fine the way we are, aren't we?

But the cross itself demonstrates our need for forgiveness and "fixing". Jesus was tortured and killed by people who, because they were uninterested in seeking truth, were doing what they felt was right in their hearts. A zealous religious mob demanded his death, a weak government leader caved in to pressure rather than seek out the truth, and Jesus' closest friends ran as fast as they could from the soldiers who took him away, rather than defend their innocent friend.

Today we are much the same. We are thoughtlessly passionate about the wrong things and choose comfort and safety over doing what is right. We are far from being "basically good" and our actions deserve punishment of some kind.

Many people, like Oswalt, downplay the crucifixion because of a belief that we are basically good, and aren't in need of saving or redeeming. Some may argue that the good in their lives outweighs the bad, and that God will surely take that into account. But if God is truly good and perfect, then he will be a perfect judge when the time comes to evaluate each of us.

Consider this scenario:
A doctor leaves his practice early in life and gives himself entirely to feeding the poor and providing free medical care to those who would die without it. He saves hundreds upon hundreds of lives. But in time, the strain of his work becomes too much and he begins to feel bitter and entitled. He develops a problem with anger that grows worse and worse until he suddenly lashes out and kills someone. He manages to cover up the crime and for a time returns to his selfless work. But his anger and bitterness eventually swell again and he lashes out, this time killing two more people.

At his trial, the details of all three murders are revealed. The families of the victims have been shattered by the loss of their loved ones. It is clear the doctor is guilty of multiple murders. Yet when he goes before the judge, he pleads with him in complete sincerity saying, "Your honor, I know I have murdered three people and I feel terrible about it. I hate what I've done. But if you'll notice, I have saved hundreds of people who would have died without my help. And if you will let me go free I will seek help for my anger problems and dedicate the rest of my life to helping people again. Surely all these things, taken into consideration, remove the need for me to be punished for the three people I murdered."

Granted, it's a good thing for someone to admit when they've done wrong and seek to do better. But would we call the judge in this case a "good judge" if he let the man go free?

No. There must be consequences. The same is true for us.

Thankfully, God chose to let himself suffer those consequences on our behalf. We don't have to try and fix ourselves. (Anyone care to sigh in relief with me?) Metaphors for the "transaction" on the cross always fall short. But one I find helpful is that of a parent who pays for their 19 year old (and penniless) son's traffic ticket. The fault didn't belong to the parent, but out of compassion and love for their child they pay the penalty their child was due when the child asks them for help.

God will not force his gift of salvation on anyone. It's given only to those who want it, because they admit they need it.

Secondarily, the cross is encouraging to me in the way it demonstrates God's "sovereignty". His complete authority and ultimate control over everything. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. That's hard to believe sometimes when I'm in the middle of experiencing something awful. But the cross was a horrific event, brought about by the free wills of evil people. Yet somehow, God had orchestrated this event from the beginning of time, and even told the prophet Isaiah about it hundreds of years earlier. (See Isaiah 52 and 53)

The cross, brought about by many to accomplish something evil, was used by God to bring about the greatest good we could imagine for humanity. Because of that blood and pain, we are offered the gift of an eternal future more amazing than any fantasy novel we've ever read or any world that has been dreamed up by the most brilliant game designers. And because of the resurrection, we know that Jesus is who he said he was, and that he is qualified to deliver on that promise.

This Friday we may look back on a dark and horrible moment, but it's also a moment that accomplished the greatest "good" for you and me.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Loose Grip On The Wheel

One of my greatest challenges in running Spirit Blade Productions is keeping a loose grip on the steering wheel. God has changed my course so many times in my adult life. Many times that I've been convinced that I'm going where God wants me, he seems to change my course in ways I never would have expected.

In broad strokes, I'm getting used to this a little. If God made it crystal clear that I was supposed to leave Spirit Blade Productions behind and focus on something else, I would do it and probably not be shattered. (Don't worry. I have never, to my knowledge, received a single indication from God that I should abandon what I'm doing, and have no reason to think I will.)

The harder thing for me is to have my short-term expectations forced to change, which happens very frequently because of my part-time work as a substitute teacher. Any given weekday morning I may get a phone call in the early hours, or even halfway through my day, that forces me to drop everything and run off to a high school.

Prepping for that recording session tomorrow? Answering e-mails? Studying for, writing and then posting the weekly "In Search Of Truth" segment? Nothing is safe.

Although I spend the vast majority of my time in a year working on things for Spirit Blade Productions, my time is not my own. I may want to pursue professional excellence and present a reliable online presence for my company. Yet my part-time job doesn't care, and repeatedly I have to see my plans dashed to pieces without warning. Almost six years in and I still haven't gotten used to it.

There are also seasons of sudden "bursts" in my subbing activity. This will be the third consecutive week in which I have only one day free to work on SBP related tasks. (The rest of this week is already spoken for by Mesa Public Schools.)

I'm so grateful that God continues to provide me with work that is needed to complete our family budget. But the necessity for it remains incredibly difficult for me to cope with emotionally, when I feel so strongly called to serve Christ in reaching out to the forgotten geek community. (Yes, even Paul made tents to pay the rent. But knowing that hasn't made things much easier for me yet.)

Anyway, I'm not sitting here having a pity party. (That was 4 hours ago for about 5-10 minutes.) But I thought I'd share a little "behind the scenes" look at my efforts in running this little company. Still, your prayers are greatly valued, and if you find yourself compelled, you can ask God to help me value HIS idea of "success" and desire only what he has for me on any given day, in any given moment, rather than what I THINK I should be doing.

If God permits, I'll meet you back here Wednesday for "In Search Of Truth"!

-Paeter Frandsen