Uncharted 4 and Life Priorities

uncharted

As I am writing this blog post, there are only 21 days until the release of Naughty Dog’s next entry in the Uncharted series, “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.” It should be said that I am a huge Naughty Dog fan and a huge fan of the Uncharted series. I have played through the first three games and I am half way through the PlayStation Vita title, “Uncharted: The Golden Abyss.”

If you are someone who has never played or seen an Uncharted game. The games are story driven and focus on the character of Nathan Drake. Each story is one of grand adventure, much like an Indian Jones movie. Drake finds ancient treasures through exploration and many different shootouts with the bad guys of the game.

In preparation for the fourth and final Nathan Drake story, I have been playing through the first three Uncharted games again. As I have been playing through these games and have watched the different promotions for Uncharted 4, a common theme began to clarify in the overarching story of Nathan Drake. This theme has been made even apparent by the most recent Uncharted 4 trailer:

To me, the theme is one of life priories. At the beginning of the Uncharted series, Drake is in the search for Eldorado and its treasures. In the process he meets and starts a relationship with Elena Fisher. Throughout the next two games, his relationship with Elena (SPOILER ALERT) continues to be an up and down style of relationship. Part of the reason for this rocky road of a relationship is Drake’s obsession with risking his life for certain treasures. From the trailer above, it seems like this theme is going to carry over into this final chapter in Drake’s story as well.

This has caused me to look at my own life. Are there things in my own life that I am perhaps pursuing at the possible detriment of those around me? As a Christian, am I pursuing my own personal goals to the detriment of my relationship with Jesus?

Matthew 16:25 states: “All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them.”

Whether you are Christian or not, it all comes down to the priorities of our life. What is the most important thing? I cannot wait for later in my life to begin to build the habits and priorities I desire for my life. If I want to be a better writer, I need to start now. If I want to exercise more, I need to start now. If I want to make church and my relationship with God a priority, I need to start now. Every day that I let something else take the place of what I want to give a high priority to, is a day that I am changing my priorities to the them replacing the first priority.

More than likely, you and I will not end up in a situation where we have to choose between family and treasure, like Nathan Drake, but we might have to make a choice between those we love and something else. By the grace of God may we always make the right choice.

Uncharted 4 releases May 10th. Click here to learn more about the Uncharted series and purchase your copy today.


 

Uncharted add

30 Days With Wesley – Day 25: The Logic Of God

15_John_Wesley_108(Optional Reading: Deuteronomy 4:39-40)

I don’t know about you, but I believe in a God that is logical. Throughout the Bible, God has set up different guidelines and put forward words of wisdom that can logically help us within our day to day lives. Deuteronomy 4:39-40 is one of the passages that we see the logic of God coming through.

Before we get to far into this, it should be said, we must always understand the context of the scripture we are reading. As my old college professor would say, “You must always remember that you are reading someone else’s mail.” We must acknowledged that this was written to ancient Israel and not written to modern day America (or wherever you are reading this from). As we understand this truth, we open ourselves us to truly discover what God might have for us in the passage.

Today’s optional reading shows us two things that we shouldn’t miss. First, the author declares the God is the only God. This point doesn’t require much explanation. This is something God declares from the very beginning of the Bible. It is something that requires faith. We cannot 100% prove or disprove God’s existence. As a Christian, we believe as Deuteronomy states that God is the only God.

The second thing our passage shows us the logic of God. It states:

Keep the Lord’s regulations and his commandments. I’m commanding them to you today for your well-being and for the well-being of your children after you, so that you may extend your time on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you forever.

As I stated before, we are reading someone else’s mail. As Christian’s we don’t believe that all of God’s Old Testament laws from the torah still apply to us today. The commands of God have taken on the commands of Jesus. When Jesus’ was asked what the most important law of Gd was, he stated,

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Here is where the logic of God begins to come together. When we begin to follow the command of God, we begin to live a life that is loving and respectful to everyone. As we live a life of love and respect we begin to establish a legacy of Christ-like living that impacts the world around us. Further, it begins to establish a life that sets an example for the generations after us. This is the logic of God. God’s commands impact us, which impact the world, which impact the future generations.

May we go today and live and continue the logic of God in your community.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.

30 Days With Wesley – Day 18: Money & Happiness

money-happiness(Optional Reading: 1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Happiness and money. These two words go together in the minds of a majority of people. Most of the time, people assume that if you have more money you will have more happiness. This then fuels this inner pursuit for more money. Sometimes, the idea of money can be replaced by things. We think, “I need more money. Then I can buy that new “thing”. Then I will be happy.”

I am an Apple Mac user. I love mac products and all the technology they have created. Just this last week, Apple held a keynote to introduce the new iPhone and also revile their new product, Apple Watch. Apple understand the concept of wanting the best. At one point the keynote speaker even referred to us lusting after the new iOS operating system. Apple gets it. People believe they need money to get the newest and best product, so they’ll feel happy.

Paul write to Timothy about this idea in 1 Timothy 6:6-10. Paul writes,

Actually, godliness is a great source of profit when it is combined with being happy with what you already have. We didn’t bring anything into the world and so we can’t take anything out of it: we’ll be happy with food and clothing. But people who are trying to get rich fall into temptation. They are trapped by many stupid and harmful passions that plunge people into ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some have wandered away from the faith and have impaled themselves with a lot of pain because they made money their goal.

Money is a tricky thing. Personally, I have found that the more I seek after it, the less happy I become.  There is an old adage, “The one who dies with the most toys… still dies.” Jesus doesn’t want us to spend our lives seeking after pointless treasures that we leave here on earth when we die. Rather, Jesus says: “Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

May our focus not fall away. May we stay true to what Jesus calls us to. For money, toys, smart phones, gaming consoles, tables, TV’s, cars, etc. will all fade away, but our relationship with Christ and the kingdom of God is forever.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.

30 Days With Wesley – Day 16: Mercy Gets Mercy

136(Optional Reading: James 2:12-13)

A few days ago, I wrote about the idea of Loving Revenge. The idea of revenge through love goes against the common idea of an eye for an eye. We do not have to repay evil with more evil. Today’s reading in “30 Days with Wesley” and the scripture reading continue to echo this way of thinking for Christian living.

“In every way, then, speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. there will be no mercy in judgement for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment.” (James 2:12-13)

Basically, James is saying mercy gets mercy and no mercy gets no mercy. I keep thinking of this in math terms. A = A and B = B, but A does not = B. Jesus even speaks about this same concept in many of his parables. One in particular is the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35). In this parable, a ruler forgives a servant of a debt that he would have never been able to pay back (In today’s values, it would have been millions of dollars). Then the servant goes out and runs into a fellow servant who owes him a couple dollars. The forgiven servant doesn’t forgive the small debt but has the man thrown in jail. In the end the ruler hears of the forgiven servants actions and reinstates his debt and throws him in jail. 

Jesus calls people to live a life that is one of forgiveness and full of mercy. He calls people to this for a couple reasons. First, it is because he has forgiven us and shown mercy upon us. Jesus has cleared a debt of sin that none of us could ever pay back. Second, he shows us mercy and forgives so that we may turn and do likewise to those around us.

Mercy gets mercy. If we live a life of mercy and forgiveness to those around us, James writes that we will receive the same treatment from God. At the same time, if we live like the unforgiving servant and do not show mercy and forgiveness to others, God will not show us mercy and forgiveness. 

A = A and B = B, but A does not = B.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.

30 Days With Wesley – Day 4: Prayer and Forgiveness

15_John_Wesley_108(Optional Reading: Matthew 6:7)

Are you willing to forgive? That is the question that remains in my mind at the end of my time of prayer. Each day of prayer has an optional scripture reading that goes with the directed prayer for that day. I have been posting the optional readings at the beginning of each post of my 30 day journey with Wesley. Today’s optional reading is what stuck with me the most.

I am not a fan of reading one verse and calling it good. Because of this, I ending up reading Matthew 6:7-14. Within this passage, Jesus gives us two impacting statements and one amazing tool.

It is within this passage that Jesus gives us the tool of the Lord’s Prayer (As written at the bottom of this post). He instructs the disciples to pray the Lord’s prayer in response to a statement in verse 7. “When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard.” 

When we pray, we do not need to worry about what words we use. Prayer is all about communication and praise. In my local church, we commonly describe prayer as a conversation between two friends. You don’t need to fancy it is up because you are talking to God. Rather, simply talk as if you were talking to your best friend.

After explaining the Lord’s prayer, Jesus makes a second statement. Jesus says, “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.”

Talk about a line in the sand. This is a huge statement. It is a statement that needs to daily shape and affect your life. The same message is found in the parable of the unforgiving servant later in Matthew (Matthew 18:21-35). Simply put, to be forgiven, you must forgive. I find it very interesting that these statements about prayer and forgiveness are found in the same conversation. It is as if Jesus is saying, “Don’t put on a show and try and look holy by praying with big fancy words. Rather pray this simple prayer that covers all your needs. But if you doing all of this and any you haven’t forgiven someone, then you don’t really get it.”

Perhaps we need to realize that prayer and forgiveness should go together.

What do you think about this idea of prayer and forgiveness working together? Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

God may we live a life of constant forgiveness. May we not make our prayers into a show. May we not feel like we need to make our speech fancy for you. But may we simply pray the prayer you have instructed us to pray and live by it.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

Amen.

4 Steps to Fasting For Lent

lent_7966c1

Happy season of Lent everyone! If you did not know, we are currently in the church season of lent right now and it is something practiced in many churches around the world. Lent takes place during the 40 days leading up to Easter morning. Traditionally, christians who take part in Lent will fast or give up (abstain from taking part in) something for the 40 days of Lent. This idea of Lent and fasting is what has brought me to the subject of this post today. I want to share my 4 steps to fasting for Lent.

I want to take a moment and quickly say I am definitely not the definitive answer to this topic. I am simply sharing my view of fasting for Lent. These 4 steps have been formed over a time of studying the scripture and taking part in Lent. Feel free to disagree with me. It is ok. Now that we have that out of the way, lets get started.

 

STEP 1: Decide on something to fast that is difficult to give up. It needs to be something that causes you a little bit of discomfort or pain when you do not have it in your daily routine anymore.

When you fast something difficult to give up and something that brings discomfort, you are able to experience a very very very very small fraction of the pain Jesus endured for you on the cross. In this pain and discomfort, the Easter story become tangible to you.

 

STEP 2: What you fast needs to be something part of your daily routine.

The practice of fasting is about centering yourself to God. When you fast something in your daily routine, you will reach a time when you hit a mental wall when you go to take part in your normal routine of something but quickly remember you are fasting. It is in this time, when you would normally partake in that food, hobby or practice that you should take time for prayer, reading scripture and listening to God in place of the time you would spend on the thing you’re fasting.

 

STEP 3: What you fast needs to be something that we greatly enjoy and that we are able to get back when lent is over.

This might seem like a strange step, but it is an important step. In the same way that you experience Easter in a tangible way through the pain of your fast, you also experience Easter in the joy of finishing your fast and getting your item of fasting back. Easter morning is all about the celebration of Jesus being risen from the grave. When you finish your fast there will be a sense of joy and celebration. In this joy, you are able to experience a very very very small amount of the joy the followers of Jesus felt upon see Jesus alive again.

 

STEP 4: When you fast, do not tell anyone about your fast.

This final step comes straight from scripture. Jesus says in Matthew 6:16-18,

“And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Simply put, fasting is all about you and God. No one else needs to be involved.

There you have it! My 4 steps to fasting for lent. Let me know what your thoughts are on fasting for lent in the comments below.

 

(Photo from: http://www.capuchinfranciscans.org/2014/02/27/pre-lent-reflectiona-historical-perspective/)