Thursday, October 31, 2013
When we look for encouraging words, or verses from the Bible that tell us about who God is, we don't turn to Exodus 26 as our first stop. It reads like an instruction manual, and that's a pretty fair description. This is a blueprint for the Tabernacle in grammatical form. And despite the dry nature of the material, it does indicate some truths about God that we can be grateful for.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
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Monday, October 28, 2013
A number of new reviews have been posted at Christian Geek Central over the last two months. As I've mentioned before, it looks as though The Spirit Blade Underground will be going through another transition as a blog. From this point on, you can expect to see all of my reviews, as well as the reviews of some great contributors, at Christiangeekcentral.com.
Since reviews have constituted a fair amount of the content for this blog, I imagine I will be re-evaluating the purpose of the Spirit Blade Underground to better provide what readers expect when they visit here. It will still be the home of the Spirit Blade Underground podcast and updates on projects for Spirit Blade Productions. Beyond that the content and frequency of posting that you can expect are up for grabs right now.
But in the meantime, if you want to get caught up on some reviews, take a look at the latest from Christian Geek Central!
Friday, October 25, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Hell is an uncomfortable reality. We don't like to think about it. We definitely don't like to talk about it. And as Christians it can seem like the big elephant in the room when we are trying to represent Christ and the truth to others. How do we talk about the infinite love of Christ when the alternative to trusting in him is eternal punishment?
Monday, October 21, 2013
Okay, so actually I'm having the opposite of "fun with computers". The laptop I do most of my day to day work on has had a noisy fan lately and finally gave me a startup error that prevented me from using the computer any further. I spent yesterday afternoon finding out what options will NOT help the problem, and also began looking into repair scenarios.
Today, after a little more troubleshooting, the fan seems to be working, and working quietly. No startup errors. All the same, I've been updating my backup of everything I need and will be working off my external hard drive for awhile until I see if anything blows up.
This is just one more reminder that I really have no business attempting to do what I'm doing. Internet ministries, businesses or endeavors of any kind ought to be run by folks who are much more knowledgeable than I am when it comes to computers. But I'm convinced that, for some reason, God is directing me to what I'm doing, despite it taking me out of my skill set on a such a regular basis.
Yes, I know. There are numerous examples of God doing the same thing with so many others in scripture. And it makes sense. What better way to show how powerful you are than to purposefully use inept people to serve you and thus stack the odds against your success? (I think Raan Galvaanik made that observation in Spirit Blade or Dark Ritual, or maybe it was the Novella.) But here, in the moment, it's still frustrating. Still a challenge to trust God and be content with the situation he has placed me in for the rest of the day or week.
I can't help but wonder, though, if it may do me some good to break from my normal routine and have a little extra breathing room to see what Yahweh might be saying or giving me opportunity to see right now.
In the meantime, I will at least be trying to get the content prepared so that I can put out the podcast this week, although it's possible that either this week or next there will be no episode posted if complications persist. (Some of the estimated repair times I've been getting for this issue are in the neighborhood of 2-3 weeks.) I'll keep you posted, though.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
If you haven't heard yet, we recently launched the Christian Geek Central Network over at christiangeekcentral.com. The network i currently made up of four different podcast, each creating high-quality content of particular interest to Christian fans of geek entertainment, like genre fiction (sci-fi/fantasy/horror), video games, comic books and other awesome geekery.
Each podcast offers something fun, thought-provoking and unique and regularly produces high quality content. For more information about the podcasts in the Christian Geek Central Network, visit christiangeekcentral.com right now!
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
An interview with the host of the Theology Gaming Podcast and why Paeter is "leaving comic books behind". Plus, some thoughts about being a geek and dealing with "relational discomfort".
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
In each of these relationships I'm very limited in my ability to help. Certainly due to limitations in my own knowledge and strength of character. But the limitations I'm feeling the most are those imposed by the ones I want to encourage and help. So rather than try to force anything on them, I stand by and watch helplessly as they choose pain and separation from God.
It's an ache that renews itself almost regularly as I spend time with each of these guys. It stays with me for days before fading and then catches me by surprise at seemingly random times, causing me to take time out to pray for them, or maybe reconnect with them again, at which time "the aching cycle" continues.
At the start of a recent "cycle", these words, spoken by Jesus, came to my mind:
(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!
I'm amazed that Jesus didn't give up or harden himself toward the people who hardened themselves against God. How did he keep caring in these seemingly "hopeless cases"? How did he live with the ongoing pain of watching those he loves reject God again and again? It would have been so much easier to harden himself and choose not to feel that pain.
I'd love to do that. Harden myself. I've been tempted to recently. Tempted to reduce one or more of these friendships into empty socializing that revolves solely around hobbies and common interests. I'd love to choose not to care about the relationships these guys may or may not have with Jesus.
But Jesus didn't do that. He never hardened himself. Never spared himself any pain. He cared about even the hopeless cases, embracing the emotional wounds that come with that kind of investment. I can only imagine that this persistent vulnerability is part of what made him a "man of sorrows"(Isaiah 53:3).
I wonder if this instinct to avoid emotional investment is a little more common in us geeks than we realize. Many of us avoid relationships because we've been hurt or because we're afraid we will be hurt. Our hobbies also have a somewhat higher pleasure to pain ratio than other hobbies that require a bit of determination and discomfort to enjoy (such as sports, hiking, learning an instrument,etc.). Has the time I've invested in interests requiring no difficulty on my part caused me to spiritually atrophy in some way? I don't know. The hobbies themselves certainly aren't the cause. But my avoidance of discomfort may be.
A few months after I stepped down from being the worship pastor at our church to pursue the development of Spirit Blade Productions in 2006, my wife and I had dinner with "Pastor Bob", my former employer, our senior pastor. As we reflected on the past two years of ministry I'd been a part of, much of which had been emotionally difficult for me, Bob made an observation about me that I've kinda hated him for ever since. (That's a joke, but he was dead on and I hated that he was.) He said that he noticed in me a strong instinct to avoid pain. A lack of willingness to go through difficult experiences. He said that I had enormous capacity for relationships and great potential to impact the lives of others if I learned to overcome that. I hadn't left the position of worship pastor because of this aspect of my personality, but it had sure made the idea of quitting much easier! (At the time I was leading the ministry through some very healthy changes. Some of the volunteers involved didn't like those changes... and made that repeatedly clear, to put it kindly.)
In the last year or so I believe I've been pushed more and more by the Holy Spirit to confront this issue of mine on a day by day, even moment by moment basis. I think again of some words Jesus spoke.
(Luke 9:23, ESV) And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
When it comes to pain and tragedy, I'm a novice. I've been playing life on "easy mode" as much as I can. Using invincibility codes every chance I get. But I know that embracing the possibility of relational pain will result in a richer life.
(Mark 8:34-35, ESV) And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.
The Greek word for "deny" in verse 34 means "to lose sight of one's own interests". And the Greek word for "save" in verse 35 has, as usual, a broad definition not necessarily tied to "salvation from hell", but to being rescued in general. Rescued from separation from God, both now and in eternity. Rescued from the evils we bring on ourselves.
If I want to be rescued from the ongoing mess of this life, I need to lose sight of my own interests and follow the example of Christ, trusting in both his methods and his finished work on my behalf.
That said, I've also been reminded that I shouldn't just be pouring my life into people whose spiritual lives are in crisis. I need to build and maintain relationships with other believers that can be a source of encouragement to me, even as I provide encouragement for them. If I only spend time with those who don't share my faith, if all or most of my close relationships are with people separating themselves from God, my tank is going to empty quickly (I've experienced this first hand) and I will soon find myself in a discouraged "funk", as I seem to find myself now.
(Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV) And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Proverbs 13:20,ESV) Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
(Repeatedly in Proverbs, the word "fool" is attributed to someone who rejects God.)
Right now I sense myself on the edge of character growth. I'm making the decision to unplug my Game Genie (THAT doesn't date me, does it?) and willingly start the tutorial mission of the game called "Relational Discomfort". But I can't do this single player. This is an MMO.
Okay, I've milked that metaphor to death, and did it pretty terribly. But my point of conclusion is this: Relationships, as wonderful as they are, will hurt sometimes. People in "faith crisis mode" are more than worth investing time and discomfort in. But as believers we should also invest in relationships that can build us up. Even those of us who often find ourselves as the one teaching or encouraging others. That's why Christ created this unusual, unavoidably dysfunctional entity called "The Church". It is his primary, tangible framework for distributing blessings to the world.
One day, relationships will be made perfect and the struggles we experience with them now will be rewarded. So if you're anything like me, or can relate to any of the situation I've described myself to be in, I want to invite you to come out here with me on the skinny branches and trust that Yahweh is holding us up. Even when it feels like we're falling.
(Isaiah 41:10, ESV) Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.