Monday, September 19, 2016

On video games and Christianity

6:45 AM Posted by Shawn Wallace No comments

This blog topic has been rattling around in my noggin for awhile.

You'll often seen Christian leaders speak out specifically against video games and porn, lumping them in together. And yet, rarely do they speak specifically to sports addictions.

Tell me: what's the difference between watching a 3.5 hour football game and playing video games for 3.5 hours? There's even proof of video games helping to improve surgeon's skills (source:

I'm certainly NOT making the case for addiction-level attention to video games (or anything, for that matter.) But engaging in an entertainment platform that's interactive, and requires the player to think, react, strategize, and reason... well, that seems like a better use of time than the near-vegetative state many enter when watching sports.

I don't hate sports, by the way. I'm a fan. I'm simply using football in this particular example.

Here's the bigger message, from my side of things. I'm good at video games. Always have been. What I haven't been good at, my entire life, is sports. Mind you, my parents made the absolutely correct decision to enroll me in youth sports, like baseball, basketball, and football. I learned valuable lessons as a youngster, and it helped me to interact socially with others. But I was never good at it. Outfield in baseball, forward in basketball, lineman in football. It's OK, those are the positions I should have played.

But when it came to video games, I was a natural. My mom will still tell the story of kids giving me quarters at the bowling alley so they could watch me beat Space Invaders, over and over.

Therefore, I'm drawn to this entertainment platform that's not only interactive, but that I'm good at.

At the time of this blog post, there's also a large social element to playing video games, specifically online, multiplayer games. I've made real friends over the years and we've had just as much fun playing games online together as friends who live near me whom I hang out with in person.

And yes, I do realize sports includes a physical aspect that promotes fitness, and that's important. But I'm speaking strictly from an entertainment aspect. Because, ultimately, sports are just that... entertainment.

Christian leaders will say "video games are violent!" Some do include fake violence, yes. Football's quite violent, too, and yet hard hits are celebrated as a show of skill.

I tend to think many Christians simply don't understand video games. But for people like me, whose friends were often good at sports, there's some solace in engaging with something we're actually good at and showing off our own brand of skill.

But again, I state, this intake should be balanced. Daily time in the Word, along with other daily reading (study material, family-centric, fiction and non-fiction alike) should prevail. But I feel like I'm talking about entertainment in general. What about Christians who spend every available second managing fantasy football teams, reading stats for their favorite players and teams, splurging on jerseys and memorabilia? This is addiction, plain and simple.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, you'll hear Christians bloggers and leaders say video games are different. They aren't -- they're simply misunderstood.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Turn off your phone's email notifications

7:52 AM Posted by Shawn Wallace No comments

Just in case you're wondering if that's a question, it isn't. I'm telling you; turn off your phone's email notifications.

Buy why? You might ask. I like getting email.

No you don't. It's an archaic form of electronic communication that's dying a slow death. Eventually it'll pass away and will be replaced with the popular messaging platforms of today.

With that being the case, looking at your phone every time you get an email is a distraction.

If you don't get many emails, this will barely effect you. Check your email when you think about it.

If you get a lot of email, this will be great for you! Instead of disconnecting from whatever it is you're doing every five minutes to look at your phone, you'll look at your phone when you can.

This method makes important emails stand out, and the less important emails drift to the background, allowing you to answer them when you're good and ready.

Trust me -- this'll be good for you. Try it for a week and tell me you don't feel better almost immediately not looking at your phone every five minutes to look at cat pictures your aunt sent you or that stupid email newsletter you've been meaning to unsubscribe from.

What this does mean is you'll need to make time to process email, especially if you get a lot of it. But that's good. My specifying time to manage email, it becomes a task that you can prioritize and lump in with your other tasks.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

John Piper's The Calvinist

6:22 AM Posted by Shawn Wallace No comments
Very few things get me fired up quite like this does. If I can muster my last breath to utter "Gain!" ... oh man. Enjoy.

See him on his knees,
Hear his constant pleas:
Heart of ev’ry aim:
“Hallowed be Your name.”

See him in the Word,
Helpless, cool, unstirred,
Heaping on the pyre
Heed until the fire.

See him with his books:
Tree beside the brooks,
Drinking at the root
Till the branch bear fruit.

See him with his pen:
Written line, and then,
Better thought preferred,
Deep from in the Word.

See him in the square,
Kept from subtle snare:
Unrelenting sleuth
On the scent of truth.

See him on the street,
Seeking to entreat,
Meek and treasuring:
“Do you know my King?”

See him in dispute,
Firm and resolute,
Driven by the fame
Of his Father’s name.

See him at his trade.
Done. The plan is made.
Men will have his skills,
If the Father wills.

See him at his meal,
Praying now to feel
Thanks and, be it graced,
God in ev’ry taste.

See him with his child:
Has he ever smiled
Such a smile before,
Playing on the floor?

See him with his wife,
Parable for life:
In this sacred scene
She is heaven’s queen.

See him stray. He groans.
“One is true,” he owns.
“What is left to me?

See him in lament
“Should I now repent?”
“Yes. And then proclaim:
All is for my fame.”

See him worshipping.
Watch the sinner sing,
Spared the burning flood
Only by the blood.

See him on the shore:
“Whence this ocean store?”
“From your God above,
Thimbleful of love.”

See him now asleep.
Watch the helpless reap,
But no credit take,
Just as when awake.

See him nearing death.
Listen to his breath,
Through the ebbing pain:

Final whisper: “Gain!”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What is The Explicit Gospel?

1:39 PM Posted by Shawn Wallace No comments
I've yet to hear the gospel of Jesus explained better than this. Give it a listen and enjoy.