Friday, December 5, 2008

The New Culture

Throughout the history of our church, different people have been burdened with different cultures, and have tailored their ministry to share the Gospel with those in the culture that haven't heard it, or haven't had the Gospel presented in a way to them that they connected with, all while never watering down the Gospel in which they preached. We see Paul, a man totally sold out to God, going into varying cultures and presenting the Gospel to them in a way that connected in their minds, which then opened their hearts to receive what was said. Acts 17 talks about Paul's ministry to the Athenians, where he presented the gospel through their worshiping of the unknown god. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul states that he ministered to the Jews by speaking to them as a Jew, and to the Gentiles, as a Gentile, etc.

What about today's culture? What about those who have been "disqualified" as not a legitimate group to be ministered to? What about those who are overlooked and even frowned upon for the culture they live in?

Now I realize that the above description could encompass many different cultures and people groups just as important and needing of Jesus in their lives as any, nor did I intent to call OUT any group or ministry for not being more involved in sharing the Gospel with these people, as there are many people who feel the need to reach them, several of which I have had the opportunity to involved with. I am simply writing this to call ATTENTION to a group of people that have been on my heart for some time.

The culture I am talking about is the video gaming culture. Let me tell you a few statistics about it. In America alone, it is a 20 billion dollar industry, which is projected to be a 46 billion dollar industry by 2010, making it the fastest growing entertainment industry in America. In 2007 there were nearly 300,000,000 video games sold, which translates into 9 games sold every second of every day of the year. For those who think that video gaming is a kid only activity, the next statistics might surprise you. In a poll taken in 2007, 34 percent of adult internet users claimed to play online video games on a weekly basis, and had offline video games been included in the poll, there would have been countless more gamers.

I am no stranger to this culture. I began playing video games at a very young age, and once I started, I rarely stopped. The games I first played were nothing like they are today. Games like Stellar 7 and Wing Commander were the popular titles for those in the loop. I played games all through my school years, and in high school I would host and attend LAN parties and spend countless hours in front of the screen. I was born and raised in a Christian home, and accepted Christ at an early age, but only in the last few years have I thought about the virtual sports field or battlefield being a real mission field.

So why would I want to get specific about addressing this culture, and not just try to lump the gamers into any normal ministry? Just as athletes have differing cultures, lingoes, and lifestyles, the avid gamer has his own way of speaking, acting, and thinking. Do you know what 1337 means? Do you know what it means to be pwn3d? Can you count the number of frags you've had in a game of CoD4? Many of you reading this undoubtedly will, but I can guess the vast majority of seasoned ministers would be clueless. This group of people is certainly large and established enough to be in a legitimate need of a ministry focused on it. Gaming has gone from being a pastime that a few people would engage in, to a household form of entertainment, to now being a professional sport of sorts, with the top pros taking home over $35,000 a tournament. Professional gaming has even been taken mainstream, with CBS nationally broadcasting professional gaming events on television. Gaming leagues have been formed, nationally recognized and sponsored by some of today's top earning corporations like Intel and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The U.S. military has also reached out to the gaming community by sponsoring events, TV spots, and tournaments. Certainly it can be said that these people deserve to be ministered to with the a group having the same mindset as Paul had; using their culture and way of communication to impact their lives with the life changing message of the Gospel!

Just as Jesus told His disciples to gaze at the fields ready and waiting to be harvested, I too see this gaming generation as a huge field that is ripe for the Gospel. Unfortunately, it seems that just as the workers were few when Jesus was speaking, the same is true in this area. Jesus has called all to use the gifts that He has given us to bring Him glory and to enable us to spread the message of the cross, and perhaps some of you reading this might be called to labor in the field of which I speak.

Gamers may have a different lifestyle than most others, but their hearts are no different than the rest of ours. Many - probably most - gamers play only for entertainment or to socialize with their friends, but for many video games become an addiction and necessity in order to fill a void in their lives. Some need video games to provide an escape from the troubles that face them, much like some need drugs or alcohol to escape. To others, games enable them to become another person in a world where they are accepted and befriended, when otherwise in the real world they would be outcasts. Some need video games to be a release for their emotions, and still others seek the temporary thrill of competition and accomplishment that video games bring, but when it is not present, they feel empty and incomplete. Much like an addiction to T.V., which is also a a major epidemic in America, video gamers have the means to occupy their minds for hours on end, only unlike T.V., the infinite interaction and the limitless personalization of games can offer the same occupation of the mind, but for almost an indefinite period of time.

Thousands of people are living their lives filling them with video games and virtual entertainment to find purpose and meaning, or perhaps an escape from knowing the lack of those in their lives, and many Christians, even Christian gamers (I am also guilty) sit by and not let God into this area of their lives. Would you pray that God would use members of His body to address this issue and to be an effective witness in even an area such as this? Pray that if God would have me be a minister in this area that He would affirm it to me and prepare, equip, and enable me to be a messenger to this group of people that needs Him!

-Matt Storer

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Veep Debate, Pt. 2

So the Vice Presidential debate is now over. I didn't get to watch all of it since I was at work, but what I saw was good. Palin is great, and was on the offense most of the time, while Biden was defending and counterattacking in stride. I don't have time to go into all the details of my thoughts, but I wanted to point out this one thing. Biden was asked about clean coal and whether or not he supports it. He unashamedly said that he has always supported clean coal.

(Quote starts at 1:23)

Palin called him out on this by pointing out that at a recent campaign stop in Maumee, Ohio, Biden said this:

Biden then responded by saying that what he said was taken out of context, and that what he was referring to was that China is burning dirty coal and we should be exporting clean coal technology to China. The video without a shadow of a doubt reveals that this is a total unadulterated lie.

Biden at the debate: "My record for twenty-five years is supporting clean coal technology"

Biden at a campaign stop: "No coal plants here in America"

I'll let you decide, but it's pretty clear to me....

Veep Debate

It's ten minutes before the Vice Presidential debate. I don't know what's going to happen but I feel like the Lord has been giving me a peace about it. We've had a guest speaker, Justin Alfred, speaking for the School of Ministry this week, and his teaching has had a great impact on the way I look at the Presidential election. He has talked a lot of politics in the midst of the rest of his teaching, and has inspired me to take a deeper look at politics, at least in how I have a part in it in my life. I love to debate politics, I love to research candidates and their stances on issues, and I am very analytical and meticulous in a lot of ways when it comes to issues. I have had a firm belief in my stances on issues, but I've had an imbalance in my prayer life in the fact that I've not spent enough time in prayer of the state of our nation, and the candidates in this election. I've really been praying a lot more and I've been feeling the need to fast for this election. Well, the debate is on, go Palin!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Views on our Postmodern World. Pt.1

It seems in these days that one must know his / her beliefs and why. Just in class today we discussed how standing up for what we believe in and letting it be known is of utmost importance considering all the different views and beliefs pervading our culture today, and with that being said, I'm going to post a few of my views on different topics and events relevant to our time.

1. God - Being a Christian I hold to the belief that God created the earth and all that is in it, that Satan, one of the angels (bearer of light, or lucifer), rebelled against God and brought the potential for evil into the world. Adam, God's first created human and Eve his wife, rebelled against God also by disobeying God's command to them through falling into temptation and eating of the tree. Through this act sin (leading to death) was introduced into the world, thus cursing all of humanity born into the bondage of sin. God was merciful to His creation (us) and sent His son Jesus into the world to be the scapegoat for our sins. The Bible is the inerrant inspired word of God written over 1500 years by over 40 authors on 3 continents in 3 languages (if you doubt it, try this one on. There are 1,817 Prophecies in the Bible, many hundreds of which have been fulfilled. The scientific probability of 118 Historically fulfilled prophecies is 1 x 10 to the 118th power, which to use an example would be like winning 17 state lotteries in a row with a single ticket from each, or being struck by lightning 24 times a year).

2. Politics - To be forthcoming, I am a conservative, and if the party aligns with conservatism, a Republican. I believe government should be small, that regulations and taxes should be even smaller, and that freedom should be something to be promoted. I support the right to life, the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, and that the government's primary role should be in the security and defense of our country. I am a staunch supporter of our military, and I believe that our military is fighting for our freedom and the freedoms of those in the places we are fighting. That being said, liberalism, particularly in it's current form, is nothing short of the pure opposite of this. It has been shown that governments are quickly corrupted when power hungry people have been able to take charge, and by definition liberalism (at least in the political sense) is the view that supports the increasing in size and power of the government and it's control over as many aspect of society as possible. The purest form of political liberalism is socialism/communism/fascism, both of which have murdered millions and stolen the freedoms of millions more. Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler were all products of this style of government, and all were believers in the Utopian society where humans were the ultimate form of deity, and anyone claiming to believe in a higher Authority than man was thought of as an animal, if not worse than one.

3. The 2008 Elections - With my political views spelled out, I doubt it will be hard to figure out who it is I support during the elections this year, McCain / Palin of course. I will say that until recently, I was not enthusiastic about McCain being the nominee of the Republican party, namely due to his less than conservative stance on many issues. Then, however, he made the choice of his Veep, Sarah Palin, and I along with thousands of others became re-energized like seldom before. Sarah Palin is a strong conservative who does not play games with her adversaries, is a follower of the God I serve (even if she comes from a slightly more charismatic church than I, and no, the same cannot be said of Obama), she isn't scared of guns and actually hunts, unlike Liberals whose only view of guns is that they cause crime and should be outlawed (unless their bodyguards have them), is pro-family, pro-life, and pro-marriage. She is a genuine American who is proud of her country and the principles that it is founded on. Obama on the other hand comes from a tainted past scarred with terrorist associations (Bill Ayers), a racist pastor of a black liberation theology church (Jeremiah Wright), and fraudulent financial contributors (Tony Rezko). Obama also worked as a "community organizer" for ACORN, an anti-capitalist, pro-socialist activist organization. One of the primary functions of this organization is voter registration, however it is known not as a community centered public service organization, but as a fraudulent "vote farming" operation. For example, in Colorado in 2004, an ACORN employee admitted to forging signatures and registering 3 of her friends to vote 40 times, and in Missouri in 2003, of 5,379 voter registration cards ACORN submitted in St. Louis, only 2,013 of those appeared to be valid. At least 1,000 are believed to be attempts to register voters illegally (source: Obama, voted the most liberal senator, has a consistent record in his 143 days in the senate of voting either extremely liberally, such as when he voted in favor of a bill that would let the babies of botched abortions be left out to die, or voting "present" on issues he was too afraid to take a stance on. One last thing (of many things that could be said about Obama), is that Obama has a soft spot for sympathizing with terrorists and dictators that hate our country, it's freedom and it's greatness, saying that he would meet with terrorist leaders "without preconditions". This simply cannot be tolerated in a world where terror and hatred lie in wait for our demise. We desperately need a confident, strong leader who does not live to appease evil.

4. 9/11 - How shameful it is that even after 7 years of a post 9/11 society, many still hold onto the idea that our government is responsible for the events that took place on that day. Fortunately, even with all the conspiracy theories and bilge that floats around on the internet, the vast majority of Americans don't believe the lies that George W. Bush committed mass murder in the form of the terrorist attacks. At this time, less than 5% of the population believes in 9/11 as being an inside job, and less than 20% believe that GWB even knew about 9/11. To put it in perspective, roughly 30% of Americans believe in UFOs.

5. Energy - Let me start by saying I'm not an environmentalist, so if you're a whacko and you're reading this, you might want to stop reading. I am NOT GREEN. I am NOT a supporter of PETA. I am NOT a believer in GLOBAL WARMING (unless in the case of God destroying the earth by fire, which will be very hot). I do NOT believe the ICE CAPS ARE MELTING. I do not believe the SEA LEVEL IS RISING. Science just does not align with these theories. However, since most whackos think that because I and others don't believe in these farces, must mean that I live to destroy the earth. This is anything but true. As a Christian, I believe that being good stewards of the earth is important. I am all for recycling, but I don't put an overemphasis on it. I am all for the creation of alternate sources of energy, but I know also that our country cannot just flip a switch and rid ourselves of oil, nor do I think that oil is "evil" as is the norm now. In fact, all these greenies that hate oil should come to realize that oil is just as natural and renewable as solar, wind, and water power. Oil is not the enemy, nations like Venezuela and Iran are. We need to stop giving money to nations that hate us and our allies (Israel in particular) and get our own resources. China, Russia, India, and every other nation with access to it's own oil is drilling for their own resources, so why can't we? We have the technology to drill oil cleaner, safer, and more "environmentally friendly" than any other nation, this should be a no-brainer. Like I said before, I am all for working for better, cleaner, more efficient ways to power our economy, culture, and world, but I reject the notion that oil is the enemy, and that we must rid ourselves of it.

6. Animal Cruelty - I support the rights of animals: to be served rare, medium, or well done. In all seriousness, I grew up on a small Midwestern farm with chickens, sheep, ducks, cats, and dogs. I love animals, and admire God's handiwork in His creation of them. I also love to eat them. Animals do not have souls; they don't think, feel, or rationalize. When was the last time you saw a business conference made up of swans? Or when have you seen a protest or rally of giraffes marching down the street? It doesn't happen because animals aren't humans. God made humans alone in this regard. I have a soft spot for cats, but I do not see them as I see humans, as having rights as we do. Our society has perverted God's plan for animals as being evidence of His design, changing them into objects of worship, worshiping the created rather than the Creator. Instead many in our culture have given animals more rights than unborn babies, something that is unbelievably wrong.

7. Homosexuality - As stated before, I believe that a marriage is between one man, and one woman. Nature proves that this is the way it is supposed to be (whether in the case of homosexuality, where the parts just don't match up, or polygamy, where jealousy and envy destroy relationships). I am not a homophobe, nor am I a hater of homosexuals. Homosexuality is a sin, like any other. Homosexuals are in need of a Savior just as liars, perverts, murderers, and adulterers are.

8. Calvinism vs. Armenianism - A subject much debated over and one that has divided believers and churches for hundreds of years. I believe in the Sovereignty of God, and His divine foreknowledge. I believe than He knows who will accept and who will reject Him beforehand, therefore He will never be surprised by someone's acceptance or rejection of His grace. I believe in the total depravity of man. We were all born under sin, and are helplessly in need of a Savior; we cannot ever hope to attain salvation through anything done on our part. I believe in limited atonement, however, not as a Calvinist; that Jesus' blood only covers some, not all, but rather Jesus blood covers all who accept Him, and all mankind has the opportunity to choose whether or not to follow. Jesus' blood has the potential to wash away the sins of every person who has ever lived, but not all will accept this gift, however this does not mean that Jesus' blood was wasted; His blood is not measurable, therefore it can never run out.

9. Gun Control - I love guns. I love shooting guns. I love studying weapons, armament, explosives, and all that other military stuff. I am not an angry person. The right to bear arms was a fundamental right given to us through the constitution and recognized by our founding fathers as necessary for people to have in order that we not be controlled easily by an out of control government. Many politicians seek the disarmament of our citizens in order that we not be able to resist governmental control, while others naively think that the root of all crime rest on guns. Guns are a tool, no more, no less. The only difference between a hunting rifle and a rifle used to murder innocents is the intent of the person using it. Guns do not have agendas, nor do they have any other capability to do harm on their own. Yes, I support background checks for persons seeking to buy firearms. No I do not support waiting periods. I also do not support bans on handguns, silencers, automatic weapons, or anything of the sort. Maybe you think that sounds too lenient, however it has been shown that the less gun control there is in any given city / state / country, the less crime there will be. One of my favorite quotes goes like this "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns". Simple, but true. The more there are that are armed, in a law abiding, civil way, the more criminals have to take chances with their lives when they commit crimes. Criminals will always find a way to get their hands on guns; if they are going to commit crimes, then they sure aren't going to abide by gun laws. So why should we put our own lives in jeopardy by restricting ourselves from guns?

-------------- These next two are just for fun-----------------

10. Mac vs PC - I have long been a proponent of the superiority of the PC over the Mac, and many times downright biased against the world of the Apple. To put it this way, a Mac is simply "A computer with training wheels". The most advanced computer programs are written with PCs, commercial business networks are based on PC architecture, The highest end servers and gaming rigs are all PCs. A Mac user is not without his/her advantages, namely the "media" phenomenon. Supposedly Macs are better with media editing than PCs, something that I have yet to be convinced of. Easier and less complex does not always mean better. While the Mac's growing fanbase cannot be denied, it's market share is still only 21% in the US, and 10% worldwide as of April 1st, 2008. In political terms, a margin of 10 points is considered a landslide, so the the PC market share still holds an impressive lead be it in the world market or the US.

11. PC gaming vs Xbox 360 - To give you my background, I was playing video games at a very early age, my first being Stellar 7 for D.O.S.. Most of my friends knew me as a die-hard PC gamer, never giving an inch to the console infidels. Until last year my affinity for PC games ran in my blood and I never looked twice when passing through the glass cases that housed the lineups of Xbox 360 and PS3. In March of this year, it all changed. My eyes were then opened to a new world where you didn't have to have an extra $2000 every 3 months to keep up with the ever changing gaming hardware, and an even playing field where skill was the advantage, not the endless gadgets and macros that boosted the players seeming skill. Only you and the controller, battling it out for bragging rights. Now, the PC has been and will always be better for certain styles and types of games, such as the RTS and RPG types, but for the price, and the needlessness for updates, patches, fixes, cd keys, and the like, I'm sold. Plus Xbox Live is great for party games as well and renting movies, chatting with friends, and ignoring homework!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Matt's Blog: Pilot

This being my first real blog, I decided to get straight to the point. I like to talk politics, and especially with what's at stake with this election, I decided that a blog would be my best outlet for my thoughts and comments on the campaign, as well as other issues and interests of mine that I feel like sharing. DISCLAIMER: I hope not to offend anyone, but my perception of MANY (not all) blogs is that they are simply ways for people to whine and complain about this or that or to display vague emotions about events in their lives. Let me say this though, I do not in any way think that emotions are bad, nor do I think that certain "emotionally" bent blogs are bad either. Let me further state that any of the above statements about "many blogs" does not refer to any of my friends, family, peers, or any other associations of mine. Simply put, my primary reason for wanting to write is not to display my emotions, but rather what goes through my head about different things.

In keeping with the topic of politics, I want to quickly point out an observation I made today from a YouTube video. If you can bear to watch this, do it, and see if you make the same connection as I do...

Is this creepy or what? I might be the only one, but to me this says nothing but....

That's right, the Hitler youth of then is now the Obama youth of today. Folks, we simply cannot afford a man running our country that has such a tainted past.

More to come...