Friday, July 11, 2014

Repent, Lest Anything Worse Happen To You.

Ever since I was a kid I and went to a Chuck E. Cheese I had a fascination with video games.  I loved video games.  I remember going to the arcades down the Jersey Shore and I would spend hours inserting quarters and trying to get high score.  Games like, Choplifter, Spy Hunter, and Star Wars Tie Fighter were some of my favorites (I guess I just dated myself right there).

Several years ago my wife wanted to bless me and bought me an X-Box, a headset, and the game Modern Warfare 3.  It was a great game, a first person shooter that was right up my alley and the graphics were intense.  I was starting to get really good at it and was talking and playing with people online. I was hooked and before I knew it I was playing about between 2 and 4 hours a day.  As my playing increased, my bible reading, prayer, and fellowship with God decreased.  The Lord convicted me, and within several months I got rid of the game.  It was a blessing because I was drawing close to God, praying, reading the bible and totally seeking Him.

Several years later I thought I had self control enough to play again.  This time I purchased, Battlefield 3.  It came out around the time of Modern Warfare 3, but this one you could drive tanks and fly helicopters and such.  Not to mention blow up buildings.  The graphics were even better than the other, and I started meeting new people online.  I told myself I would keep my playing to a minimum, and only one or two days a week.  At first it went well, but then I was in my old routine.  I played so much within a few months I made it to rank of 2nd Colonel.  Now what do I do?  The conviction started and I was ignoring the signs.

The night of June 10th I had a dream that was quite unusual for me.  I had dreampt that I was surrounded by white light and I was in the presence of God.  He told me that I was to get rid of the game and that he had become jealous and wanted my attention.  I had abandoned my post and forgotten about him.  If I wouldn't stop playing that he would chasten me and keep me from playing.  So that morning I shrugged it off and went to work.

The next day right after work I walked in the house, hit the on button on the X-Box and started playing.  Lisa had gotten home and needed to cook.  I went to help her cut some sweet potatoes while she went to the Chiropractor.  So I'm looking at these things, and trying to remember the instructions she gave me.  I was confused and cut them my own way.  With blade in hand I made a decision that to this day I have no idea why I did it.  The blade slipped, and went across my left middle and index fingers.  Blood poured out of them immediately, and I knew I was in trouble.  Panic set in, called Lisa, and off to the Urgent Care we went.  I spent the next 10 days with 6 stitches, and then another week with sutchers because it wouldn't heal correctly.

You would have thought that I would have learned my lesson right?  Wrong.  I was justifying my game playing, and within days I was back playing my favorite game.  So July 4th rolls around and the same dream happened that night.  The Lord was very displeased with me, and told me to repent lest anything worse happen to me.  Did I listen?  Hardly.  I was convinced it was just a dream and my imaginations were getting the best of me.  I just needed to put the game down for a while.

The next day I went into work.  As a Field Service Technician I use my hands constantly.  At 2 pm my shift was almost over and all I wanted to do was play that game.  A machine went down and I had t crawl under, open a panel which weighs about 50 lbs and remove the item.  All went well until I had to put the panel back on. It went on a little difficult, but screwed it in and started to scoot myself out from under the machine.  All of a sudden the door came off the hinges, and all 50 lbs of weight landed on my ring finger of my right hand.  I let out a yell, grit my teeth, and instantly teared up.  I ran out to the ice machine to stop the swelling and I was to late.  I had a grape on the end of my finger and I knew it had to be broken.  The pain was so bad it was almost as bad as when I got frostbite in both my legs in 1999.  The next day after another Urgent Care visit, it was indeed broken.

So, out of work on workers comp I have alot to think about as I sit alone at home with an ice pack and throbbing pain.  But I know what I don't have to think about...not playing the game.  That's right.  I was afraid if I didn't get rid of it, I was going to lose a digit, or my job, or maybe both.  So in the trash it went, and I had tremendous peace in the process.

So what is the moral of the story?  Do what God tells you to do quickly, thoroughly, and cheerfully.  Spend quality time with Him.  Put away the idols in our lives and be fully devoted to the Lord.  Now do I believe that I was talking to God in a dream?  I don't know.  But I have two messed up hands and alot of time to spend with Him.  I reflect on different ways the Lord got the attention of people in His word through a physical chastening.  Jacob (Genesis 32:22-32), Saul (Acts 9:1-9), the Israelites in the wilderness, along with others.  But you know...it's been great.  I have great peace, I'm getting things done, and studying for my Precept Inductive Bible Study classes I will be teaching in September.




Friday, July 4, 2014

Donald Sterling, An Example of Postmodern Tollerance

On April 25, 2014, TMZ Sports released a recording of a conversation between Sterling and a female friend, V. Stiviano from September 2013. The recording included a man confirmed to be Sterling was irritated over a photo Stiviano had posted on Instagram, in which she posed with Basketball Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson. Sterling told Stiviano: "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people", and, "You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want", but "the little I ask you is ... not to bring them to my games." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Sterling]

This recording sparked a wildfire of controversy and condemnation towards the L.A. Clippers owner. Retributions for his words were far and wide, and everyone had their opinion as to what should be done with him.  Some of the punnishment he faced has been strong: 
  • Banned from the NBA for life.
  • Fined $2.5 million, the maximum fine allowed by the NBA constitution.
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stripped Sterling of virtually all of his authority over the Clippers. 
  • He was banned him from entering any Clippers facility, and banned from attending any NBA games.  
  • Silver also stated that he would move to force Sterling to sell the team, based on a willful violation of the rules, which would require the consent of three-quarters, or 22, of the other 29 NBA team owners.
  • Sterling's wife, Rochelle, who has co-owned the team with him since 1981 , and she has served as one of the team's two alternate governors, is also threatened to have her removed as well. 
Now, let me make this clear.  I don't condone, nor agree with Donald Sterling's views, or his words.  They were hurtful and wrong, but his opinion nonetheless.  But let's look at this from a different angle and a Christian's point of view. 

Remove A Man's Way of Life Because of His Opinion?

Think about this.  As a Christian, what if I was fired for something someone didn't agree with me on my stance towards homosexuality?  What if I was a business owner who was told by the local government to sell my business because I had an opinion different than someone else? 

Ban Him From Interacting With Others Because of His Opinion?

Banning Sterling from any NBA event for life is quite harsh for someone's opinion.  That's quite harsh.  Lets face it, not only did they force him to sell his business, but now take his hobby away.  The guy loved basketball, and enjoyed watching it. 

I wonder at what point or how far things will go.  At what point are my rights as a Christian protected just because someone doesn't like me, what I said, or what I did that would offend them?  These are scary times to be living.  Just some thoughts.