Showing posts with label Friendship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friendship. Show all posts

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Video Games

One of the consequences of adding commitments to my life—like blogging every day—is that there is correspondingly less time available for other leisure activities. Like video games.

Halo: Reach came out a few weeks ago; I've invested a fair amount of time in it, but haven't actually even opened the game up since Friday, October 1st. Too many other things I've been working on. Interestingly, and perhaps a bit controversially in some circles, I find video games can be a very profitable way to spend my time—sometimes. While I know a number of Christian leaders decry all video games as wastes of time, I have found theym to be invaluable in at least one area: keeping up the "fun" aspect of relationships with long-distance friends.

Xbox LIVE allows me to connect with the guys I grew up with for an hour or two here and there and spend time just "hanging out." Is it as good as being in the same room? Not even close. Is it far better than not getting to spend some pure fun time with them at all? Absolutely. So, over the last month, I have spent a fair amount of time doing just that. Once my dad picks up the game, it will be a good connection point with him as well (it's fun being able to play video games with my father, and even more fun being able to do so even though we live 750 miles apart).

Perhaps surprisingly, it's also a great way for Jaimie and me to spend time together as a couple. While our definitions of spending time together differ at times, Jaimie and I deeply value the hours we can spend with each other. I am uniquely blessed with a wife who enjoys playing video games almost as much as I do. (Aside: she's taking a nap at the moment, and I just watched her distinctly nod her head as though in conversation with someone. She's quite a dramatic napper.) In fact, playing video games is one of the ways she most enjoys spending time together—along with watching movies and taking walks. So again, video games can be a great benefit to me.

(If you're curious, her favorite games to play are those in the Halo series and Lego Star Wars. Strangely, at least from my perspective, she also gets a pretty big kick out of watching me play through Mass Effect—she commented that it's something like watching a 30-hour-long, action-packed, well-written sci-fi movie. And she likes sci-fi movies, so that works out well for her.)

The catch with video games, though, is the point that makes so many Christian leaders eschew them. They can be serious time wasters. While I don't play nearly as much as many of my friends do, I certainly can fall prey to the same urges: to sit down and go at it for hours on end. Games like Reach, which have some brilliantly conceived built-in reward systems, can be particularly addictive. They make me want to keep playing. The trick for me is to enjoy them in moderation—neither feeling guilt for relaxing by playing a game for a few hours, nor being sucked in and doing nothing else. It's much easier to be productive when I have relaxed at times as well, but it's also easy to fail to be productive by spending too much time relaxing.

Somewhere in here is a thought about honoring God not only by being productive but also by enjoying the lives He has given us. I suspect that American culture's emphasis on achievement can bleed over into our faith in strange ways, leading us to think that relaxation is bad, or that simply taking time to enjoy the good things in life together is somehow sinful. (Whatever you may hear, these aren't the ideas of the Puritans, who in fact valued times of enjoying life far more than most modern believers do. Blame hatchet jobs like those pulled off by Nathaniel Hawthorne or Arthur Miller for our skewed and caricatured views of the Puritans. They had their flaws, but generally they were different flaws than later thinkers have tended to ascribe to them.)

God made this world and called it good. Though it has since been subjected to futility, much that is in it remains good—just as there remains much that is good about fallen people, and just as those fallen people produce much that reflects God's goodness. Taking time to enjoy life, even by playing video games, can honor God, if it is done in moderation and with the right understanding.

On which note, I think I'm going to go do something productive for a while, so that I can confidently enjoy some Reach later tonight.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Long Process

I finished the duet. Or at least, I finished the semi-final rough draft of it. Four and a quarter minutes of music for clarinet and cello, a dance movement, written in about a week and a half. (That's why I am up late right now, and why I have not done much blogging in the same span of time.)

I will post a link to the piece once I get the recording of the actual performance of it (presumably in a few weeks). I have good sound sets... but they are still sound sets.

Yesterday was our one year anniversary. I will try to post some reflective thoughts on that occasion later this week. Tonight we enjoyed some of our cake, which was surprisingly good a year later (it was very well sealed).

I have a stomach ache. The two, gladly I suppose, are not related; I had the stomach ache first.

We will have another friend staying with us for a few weeks soon: the one and only Megan Tevebaugh, who is now counting down the days till her impending marriage to the equally unique Anthony Plopper. They will be living in the same apartment complex as us; it should be a wonderfully fun year (even as the next few weeks promise to be particularly fun as well.)

Sleep calls me now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Putting My Foot Down"

One of the great joys of spending some time at FLI a few summers ago was making some good friends—friends of the you-may-not-talk-often-but-you-can-count-on-them-to-be-awesome variety. One of those friends is Jenni Stringham. One of the ways she's awesome you should check out here and here. In short, she's found a way to turn something very practical—running for exercise—into an opportunity to help those in desperate need. (Since I wrote on the very topic of the body of Christ serving in the world on Pillar today, this is good timing!)

In her introduction to the project, Jenni wrote:

It is estimated that at least 27 million people are currently enslaved around the world.

The industry generates more than $32 million annually,
making it the second most lucrative crime.

Two children are sold every minute - over 1.2 million children per year.

A majority of those are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

...

As a part of Tread on Trafficking, I will be keeping track of all of the miles that I walk, run, and bike and raising money for efforts of Love146 to end child sex slavery. If you are interested in donating, you can visit my donation site. If you are interested in participating, you can get registered and get started. Even though the event starts tomorrow, people can continue to register after it begins.

Raise awareness and take some action concerning one of the major humanitarian crises we face today. Be an agent of change.

Go read. And maybe donate!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Glory unfurling

One of the mysteries of my life is my friendship with Stephen Carradini. I met him within fifteen minutes of his arrival on campus at OU his freshman year, and he stuck to me like Velcro. Nearly every experience I had in college he repeated in one way or another. Despite our myriad differences in background, opinions and relationships, God has ordained that the major strokes of our lives run in parallel, with Stephen just far enough behind to watch and learn from my successes and failures.

As Stephen himself commented to me recently, he lives my life.

I have rarely seen such a simple, perfect picture of the sovereignty of God. In the three and a half years since we met, God has consistently put me in positions that I found frustrating, painful and inexplicable—until months later, when Stephen invariably found himself in the same straits, and I could lend an ear and sometimes a hand. I rest on God's sovereignty because Scripture declares it, but I find it easier to believe because I have seen it.



Jaimie recently spent some time reviewing old journals and observing how God has answered prayers she offered up half a decade ago. Though we are not to live in the past, we are to remember it and savor God's works. When the present grows dark, God's past faithfulness comforts us. He has saved us and cared for us before, even when we could not see.

The months since our wedding have been a time of upheaval, struggle, fear and pain as Jaimie battles depression. She's winning, by the grace of God. And joy has filled our lives. We love being married. Day by day we see God's goodness more plainly. Whether it is in a quiet evening spent reading together, the wondrous dance of married love, or the hours we have spent crying and praying together, we remember that the Holy Spirit is working for our good. We hold to that truth with all our strength; sometimes we have nothing else.

Day by painful day, I see Christ's image growing in Jaimie. I see her slowly freed and gradually perfected. I see her face unveiled and the glory of our Savior unfurled by the breeze of the Spirit in her heart. Suffering is producing joy inexpressible as He forges us into complete dependence.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From LEGOs to Theology Proper to Tasty Food [5 100-word thoughts]

LEGO Star Wars is the most purely enjoyable game I have played since MYST. (The two games couldn't be more different, but they both appeal to our childlike natures.) Jaimie and I played through the prequel trilogy six months ago, and now we're working our way through the original trilogy. Whether it's hilarious variations on the original or simply watching Chewbacca pop LEGO stormtrooper arms off, the game is fun. It helps that dying just loses you a few coins and a moment's frustration; you're back quickly enough that you hardly know you died. Good game.



I'm taking today off to spend time with my wife. God has provided above and beyond what we expected in my current job: it's relatively close, it's work that I enjoy, and it far exceeds meeting our basic needs. I pray He keeps me focused on how He provides and reminds me of the excellence of his provision, even when the job is hard. I also pray that He reminds me that, as wonderful as the material provision is, God's provision for me (and all believers) spiritually far exceeds it. He gave himself.



Friendship is a beautiful thing. Every new moment in the friendship is better than before, even as the budding of a rose is increasingly beautiful—and every time you think it cannot get better, it does. The day when the petals first open is amazing—but seeing them fully open a week later is something else entirely. The early thrills of friendship, fun as they are, eventually give way to a much deeper, richer and more satisfying maturity. That's a good thing. Early moments of meeting cannot last forever, but the steady exploration of personalities that follows can and does.



The study of theology is not, as some have thought, something reserved for the white halls of academia. It's gritty, practical and meaningful for the everyday Christian. We rightly reject the intellectualism that thinks that knowledge is the same as godliness, but we should be just as quick to scorn the opposite crime of thinking ignorance equates to holiness. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, and the knowledge of God—theology proper—is eternal life. I study my wife every day, and I do mean study. How much more we should study our God!



Food is a strange and wonderful thing. Eating not only satisfies our needs, it delights our senses. (At least, it does when well-done. Badly cooked food is another story entirely.) The same holds true for nearly every aspect of life: even when something might be marked by need at best and pain at worst, it's often accompanied by pleasure instead. The mark of a happy God could not be clearer, as far as I'm concerned. It makes me think: the wedding feast of the Lamb awaits us... how much better will that food be than today's fare?