Convicted? Convicted.

I started a 60 day plan on my YouVersion app when my father died – “Grief Bites“. I’ve done my best to stick to it, but occasionally I find myself swinging through several days in a row to catch up and get back on plan. Today I was 3 days behind, so I started reading.

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Philippians 2:14-16

Conviction #1. Who doesn’t complain or dispute right now? Politics. Science. Medicine. Sports. The cancellation of Firefly. I do my best to avoid it, but some days I am convinced that the words are leaving my mouth faster than the neurons in my brain can fire to stop it.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 1:2-8

Conviction #2. I can try with all my might to be patient but even now, through these trials, I must fight back my human nature to jump the queue. One consistent truth in my life is that when I am lacking in patience… what I’m doing never works out.

19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

Conviction #3 – See Conviction #1 and #2. I have been exceptionally angry lately. I’m not an angry person. Sure, I’ve got a temper like anyone else on the planet, but my fuse is exceptionally long most days. Lately? I’m not angry at God. I’m not angry at Dad. I’m not even angry at the situation I’m in. I’m just… Don’t say the wrong thing to me right now.

I really do not like that. I prefer to bite my tongue. People say the darndest things when we simply stop and listen. From brilliance to idiocy. From truth to lies. I’ve got… maybe 3 draft posts right now that all originated from a place of anger in me. Reacting to the things that others said or did which truly set me off. Then I decided to catch up on my bible plan…

I have found though that the Lord has freed me from my knee-jerk desire to get into most arguments. I cannot explain just how liberating that is. Thoughts and ideas shared today that even two weeks ago would have absolutely sunk my mood or spun me into unleashing a rage filled rant where nobody was actually listening simply sail past me.

Now discussion and disagreement are not a bad thing. Through open dialog many issues can be resolved. However these days humanity seems to be losing it’s way. As the house is burning down around us, we argue over the temperature of the flames instead of seeking the fresh air and light which awaits us on the other side of that front door in the Word of God.

Lord God, please free me of this anger and stress driven need to complain, argue, and waste my words so I may turn my heart, soul, and mind to you fully. Help me to see and hear you work in my life. I know that you provide all I will ever need in this life, until thy kingdom come. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

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Isaiah 53:3‭-‬4

He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.

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Don’t worry.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:1-6

I’m going to dip my toes into current events a bit here. Full disclosure, on average I spend maybe 30 seconds a day looking at the news. I believe that the general ebbs and flows of our society can be grasped rather quickly – digging in any deeper is just a recipe for stress and worry over things that I myself cannot control.

From the lead-up to the general election on November 6th, through the Georgia runoffs yesterday, I have seen and heard many a believer proclaim much stress and worry. Now I have also seen many a pastor do their job and educate with scripture while proclaiming hope in the promise of salvation from Jesus Christ. God bless our pastors.

Does it bug me? Sure. Of course it does. I’m a human being and happen to agree with the policies of Trump. I believe the election was corrupted, and that evidence of the corruption was obscured by the media and willingly overlooked by folks full of stress and worry. The thing is though… I’m not stressed, and I am not worried.

Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:1-7

This life is temporary and fleeting. I know where I’m going next. Neither Donald Trump or Joe Biden is my way to God. Democrat, Republican, who cares. While decisions are made by the parties in power that as a Christian I find deplorable, I know every single piece of current events was written in advance by God, and that when I finally go home – politics won’t matter.

I pray that in the years to come, there is a revival in this nation and this world. I believe that our abundance and blessings as citizens of this country has made us all complacent to varying degrees. I also believe that God has handed us all significant trials which we can and will overcome if we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. It is why we are here.

Until the day comes when we all go home, as Jesus said…

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 22:21

I’ll leave the stress and worry to others, and do my best to continually witness and proclaim the Truth to them. I pray that they may also find everlasting joy and freedom from the weight of this world through Christ Jesus.

Amen.

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Surely, Truly, and So Be It.

The term amen meaning “so be it” as found in the early scriptures of the Bible is a word of Hebrew origin. It originated in the Hebrew Scriptures, as a reply of confirmation, and is found in Deuteronomy as an affirmative response made by the people. Furthermore, in the Books of Chronicles, it is designated that near 1000 BC, the word is used in its religious meaning, with the people responding with “amen” to receiving the blessing: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from now and unto all eternity”.

Why Do We Say “Amen”? What Does it Mean?

At the end of a prayer, all God’s people say AMEN.

It has nothing to do with men or women. It is a simple affirmation of and response to the prayer made or blessing received. Saying “awomen” does not make the term gender inclusive any more than “fragwoment” would affect the term “fragment.”

I was raised Catholic, the origin of the Great Format, or as I put it – Holy Calisthenics. Sit, stand, sit, stand, sit, Reading 1, Reading 2, stand, Gospel, sit, sermon, tithe, handshake, kneel, Holy Eucharist, dismissal. I can honestly say I remember very little of the Word from then.

One mass though, I recall clearly. The deacon at the podium completed a reading which left my dad quite annoyed. It turned out that the man who had been reading aloud changed the scripture as written and instead of saying just “men” he said “men and women.”

Now to me, a culturally sensitive lapse Catholic teenager of Generation X, I didn’t see the issue. My dad took issue though, and after the service let the deacon know it. The Holy Bible is the Word of God. This deacon decided on his own to alter scripture to his own needs. Yeah, no.

I think Paul put it best in Galatians:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.

Galatians 1:10-13

Who was the Representative looking for approval from here? God or the world? God or man? God or woman? Jesus included everyone in salvation, regardless of any preferred pronouns. Turn away from sin. Accept Christ. Take the road less traveled, and choose to please Him.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

Matthew 7:13

Amen.

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Cyberpunk 2077

I’ve got a confession to make. Hope you’re sitting down. I’m a nerd. No, that’s not the confession, I hardly hide that. My confession is that I hated Blade Runner. In my not so humble opinion, it was the most idiotic, nonsensical, contrived 1 hour and 57 minutes of crap I’ve ever sat through. That’s saying something, I’d rather sit through a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show while wearing fishnets and a wig than watch it ever again.

Apologies in advance for the brain bleach required to get that image out of your mind. RHPS is another “cult classic” which stole time from me that I shall never get back. All that being said, I skipped all the hype leading up to the eventual release of Cyberpunk 2077 on December 10th, 2020. I didn’t see any trailers, read any news, subscribe to any subreddits, none of it. I think I saw some screenshots, heard Keanu Reeves was in it, and thought it looked cool.

97 hours and 3 minutes later, I’ve completed the main story of the game, nearly every side mission, and quite honestly I’m about ready to create a new character and go back in for seconds. Right off the top I have to say that this game is as beautiful as it is bug-ridden, and it’s quite possibly the most beautiful video game I have ever sat down to enjoy in my life. This is a game made for adults, not kids. GTA V looks like an episode of Teletubbies by comparison.

I honestly cannot get over the graphics in this game. The skin textures alone on the NPC’s are unbelievable. Tack on ray tracing and all the other modern refinements, it is more visually immersive than any game I’ve played yet without a VR headset on my noggin. The writing is also unbelievably well done. Had this been a “choose your own adventure” style paperback, I cannot imagine the number of paper cuts I’d have after 97 hours of reading.

The big story here though, is that the game is an absolutely buggy mess. Here’s a brief list of what I alone have hit, while the Internet is abuzz with a near endless list of issues.

No hover conversion here…
  • On launch day, it would repeatedly and randomly crash.
  • A subsequent update caused the game to crash on startup which required a 9GB fix to resolve.
  • Once I was pulled into an endless loop of reloading after falling into a void through the highway while driving.
  • Cars fell from the sky like rain.
  • Cars sunk into the asphalt as deep as their roof.
  • Dialogues overlap.
  • Objects on the HUD get stuck.
  • Executing a mission outside of the planned order would force me to reload and replay how the writers wanted me to, or if it didn’t dead end it would endlessly harass me to complete the mission.
  • The AI for vehicles is completely daft, as unless a path was completely clear – it would simply sit in the road and honk until the 1mm of bumper left in the road was was moved.
  • I’d call for my ride to appear and watch it head off in the other direction, or explode immediately as it spawned in the same space as some other vehicle, or run me right over instead of stopping.
  • Closing the game out in Steam would actually leave it running in the background. Steam itself reports that I’ve played 161.9 hours where I’ve actually only spent 97 hours.
  • Tech rifle won’t fire. Fix? Drop the rifle and pick it back up.
  • Gun stats not visible in inventory. Fix? Unequip the Kongou. Text description is too long.
Insert sinking feeling pun here…

Despite the bugs, it’s the most fun I’ve had in an open world title since I first experienced Fallout 3 on my old Xbox 360. Nearly every character in every main or side plot has depth, whether or not it matters. Decisions made at every point in the game help to further shape the dialog and direction, as well as which of 6 different endings the player gets to experience. So far I’ve only completed the “Johnny and Rogue” ending. I’ll skip the spoilers.

The game play is an absolute riot. Sure, there’s always the staple “shoot everyone in the face” method. Tack on the availability of smart weapons which allow shooting around corners (like Gene Simmons’s gun in Runaway from 1984, and the gun play is wonderful. Tack on the choice to use stealth, or remotely “hack” the implants of enemies to dispatch them in any number of methods – it is just plain fun and never gets boring.

I will say that bugs aside – 2 things that this game is missing (which I hope will be addressed in a future patch) – the total lack of customization of the way the character looks and the vehicles they drive. Now of course, the character can be customized before the game starts (in very NSFW ways), but once the general appearance is decided – that’s it. Any other game, hair, skin, ink, etc… this one? Nope. Same with cars. You buy it, that is it.

Overall though, and I’m speaking from a strictly PC player here, it was worth the $59.99 I paid on Steam. I can’t speak to the troubles that folks are hitting on consoles, and can totally understand their frustration. On my PC, I was able to implement a few different “hacks” to improve the game and work around bugs. On the console, they’re pretty much stuck until the developer fixes it. I’m looking forward to subsequent play-throughs, and future expansion.

Great game.

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2021

So I’m back on Facebook after roughly two months clear of the platform. This time around, I’m only connecting with people I know and chat with on a regular basis… People I’ve no need to mute or unfriend.

Previously I had over 300 “friends” of which I’d maybe interact with a dozen or so a week. Now I’ve got less than 100, see who I want, and spend far less time feeding their algorithm every day. Now it wants me to join a group… No.

I ditched my Samsung Galaxy S9+ last week, it was a good phone but after 3 years it was getting finicky. I wasn’t really a fan of the size either. The S20 didn’t do much for me either so I decided on the Google Pixel 5.

Smaller physically, mid range processor, but also zero of the bloat that comes with the standard Samsung package. The biggest change for me was the interface and gestures required to move around. Once I adapted though, it’s a great phone.

So many folks still lashing out in anger right now. The concept of “New year, New me,” as nonsensical as I always found it to be seems to have taken a back seat to the predictably comforting shared misery of angst.

I find that despite my vow to only deal with folks online who aren’t flailing blindly in political discourse, I am amazed that the hill of clickbait rage is where so many choose to die on. Mask or no mask, Trump, Biden, Covid-19.

I’m sitting here on New Years Day, still grieving over the loss of my dad… Still working to help carry my family through this… This new perspective on life has replaced my anger and rage with hope. Small masks, small viruses, and small politicians are not worthy of my focus.

Who is worthy then? God. Family. Friends. 2020 was a year of grand transition in my life, and many others. Some choose to fight that change, others embrace it, I choose to stand apart from it and limit it’s impact on my life.

Better men can chase those windmills.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Happy New Year folks, peace be with you all.

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Psalms 34:4

I sought the Lord , and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.

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Memories of Christmas

Close your eyes for a moment and try to remember the first thing you recall of Christmas as a child. For me, it wasn’t how slowly December 24th proceeded. Nor was it waking up at 5am while I could still hear my dad sawing logs from the master bedroom.

I’ve heard it said more than once that the older one gets, the faster time flies. I believe it, 100%. When I was a young boy, Christmas Eve was at least 72 hours long. I’d go out, help clean up snow, or help around the house, look at the clock and… it’s only been 15 minutes.

Today, most days feel about 8 hours long. I’m absolutely hurtling through life, sun up to sun set. Here I am, December 24th… getting some work done, listening to It’s a Pokenberry Christmas, smoking a brisket, and every time I look at that clock… another hour has gone by.

For me, it was always the night before Christmas. My mom had this picture book, heaven only knows how old it was. I remember it because Santa’s outfit was actually overlaid with felt, so not only were the pictures nice but I could actually feel Santa’s suit!

But it wasn’t just the book. It was that every Christmas Eve until I was a teenager, my mom would sit next to me and read The Night Before Christmas. I can still hear her voice in my head retelling the story. It wasn’t just the story, it was mom reading it to me.

Nothing else mattered to me once the poem was read, the book closed, I was tucked in, and everything in the world was good. To be a child again, to know that peace again. Something to look forward to, a promise by God to be fulfilled?

The next day I’d wake up eager to shred every package under the tree, as my father drank his coffee and my mother drank her tea. Out would come the Johnny Mathis Merry Christmas album on vinyl. We did have the CD eventually… but the record sounded better.

I remember every year my dad would buy something big for my mom. Now for all the jokes I’ve heard about “never get your wife X for Christmas” I never saw her complain. To this day she still raves over the Pfaltzgraff dishes she received one year.

It wasn’t so much the big gift though, as we always knew that the real gift was hidden inside the seemingly un-tampered package… Usually some jewelry that would put a big smile on my mothers face. I always looked forward to seeing both of their reactions.

Of course, being a little kid… I wanted to play with my toys. If I was lucky – we’d have gone to Christmas mass the night before. However some years, be it rain, snow, or shine – we would go to the Christmas mass at St Stephens (despite my pre-teen protests).

As I got older and turned farther from the Lord, I always made sure to go to church for Christmas. Midnight mass. If I was lucky, a few of my buddies would come with, and afterwards we’d toss back a few ounces of bourbon and share some Xbox fellowship.

That’s the thing though – the special thing about Christmas to me, back before I truly believed in God. It was always family. My strongest memories of this holiday are spending it with my family. It was my mom, dad, brother and I together. God’s been good to us.

Mom’s holding the camera here…

Merry Christmas everyone, I pray you have a blessed day and get to hug your family until the stuffing comes out… or they fart. Whichever comes first. Eat, drink, laugh, cry, live, and love every moment you get with them. God bless.

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It’s a Pokenberry Christmas

I was listening to SiriusXM FamilyTalk and heard this story based on It’s a Wonderful Life (something I still have never seen). It’s a good story about faith and what can be accomplished by turning to God, especially when everything seems to be falling apart.

Part 1 and Part 2 can be heard here: adventuresinodyssey.com.

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II Corinthians 1:3‭-‬4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

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