Holding Back the Gospel With Politics

This is a longer post than I intended it to be. If you are (as I am) tired of reading posts about this election cycle, skip to the end and read just the last two paragraphs.

I tried not to post about politics today, I really did. Unfortunately, the third separate article I saw today telling me that it is my duty as a follower of Christ to vote for a particular candidate has made silence untenable. I try not to write direct responses to other blog posts or articles, and I will endeavor to hold to that here as well, but you may well recognize the articles I read simply by some of my responses. Sorry about that.

First, here’s what I’m NOT saying: I’m not saying that a Christian cannot vote for one candidate or the other; nor, on the flip side, that they must vote for one candidate over the other. I’m not saying that it’s a sin to vote for either party or candidate. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad or foolish about voting for the candidate they find less odious between the two awful choices before us. I’m not even trying to sway you from one candidate toward another – I just want believers to stop yoking the cause of Christ to either of these candidates.

What I am saying, most emphatically, is that we make a terrible mistake when we misappropriate the cause of Christ to try to pressure, ‘encourage’, and outright bully others into voting our conscience instead of their own. Christ came, in His own words, “to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10), and when we tie that mission down to ANYTHING of lesser importance we not only hamper the spread of the gospel, we create a cult for a christ of our own making.

In Deuteronomy 4:2, God says, “Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you.” This principle is found not only in this passage, but also in Deuteronomy 12:32, I Corinthians 4:6, Revelation 22:19, and Proverbs 30:5-6. Why do I mention this? Because nowhere in Scripture are we told to vote for one candidate over another. There are principles in Scripture that can be applied to the current political situation, but no one (if they are being intellectually honest and Scripturally/theologically accurate) can tell you that there is one right candidate in this Presidential election, or that to vote in some other way is a sin.

Some have pointed to several different passages as reasons why all Christians must vote for Trump, probably the most striking of which is Luke 9:49-50. Unfortunately for those quoting it in the context of this election, it doesn’t at all say what they want it to. In the passage, a man is casting demons out of people in the name of Jesus, and the disciples get upset about it because he isn’t “with them.” Jesus rebukes them, saying “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you” (v.50). Here we see someone who is doing the work of Christ, but outside of the structure that the disciples expected, and He tells them not to fall into infighting, like that seen so often in the time of the gospels between different groups of the religious establishment. This statement by Christ applies to someone else who is obeying Jesus, doing the things He demands of us, but is not a part of our “group,” and would be far more appropriately applied to a commentary on how churches of different denominations can (and ought) cooperate for the growth of the Kingdom. It cannot rationalize political support for someone who disobeys Christ and disregards His principles on a regular basis. One can make a case that Trump is the ‘lesser of two evils’, but one cannot make a case that this passage in any way shows that we must or ought yoke ourselves to that evil, however ‘less’ it may be.

While on the topic of Scriptural principles for believers interacting with democracy, it’s important to note that apathy is never acceptable- from Nehemiah to James we see examples of Scripture saying that we are responsible for acting out our conscience, so long as what our conscience says is in line with Scripture. I believe we as Christians should vote, should run for office, should be engaged in the political dialogue, but we CANNOT and MUST NOT tie our faith down to the temporary concerns of American politics. The Kingdom of God is eternal and will last forever- America is 240 years old and could fall tomorrow. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). How much of our time is invested in a political race instead of seeking out the lost to share eternal hope?

Allow me to digress for one moment on one of the arguments I find particularly atrocious: “Failing to vote for candidate X is simply a vote for candidate Y.” This is, at best, an untruth or fallacy, and, at worst, a purposeful deceit to coerce others into voting your conscience instead of their own. If you have reasons for choosing your candidate, which I assume you do, please give them, don’t fall back on a platitude that is inaccurate, both factually and philosophically. This election will have consequences – every election does. No matter what those consequences are, they are not nearly as dire in the long-term as the consequences of the Church diluting the gospel message to something that can be equated with politics. Dragging the name of Jesus Christ, the name Scripture describes as above every name, down to the level of any politician is a pretty pitiful way to treat our risen Savior.

I saved the best for last. This nation is not our hope. This election, these politicians, what happens in the coming years- none of these are the source of our hope. Should we be engaged in the process? Sure. But when our identity comes more from our political party or our identification with a candidate than from our identification as a follower of Christ, we have an idolatry problem.

Psalm 2 is among the most often-quoted parts of the Old Testament by New Testament writers, and it’s because this psalm deals directly with the fear that we experience when nations and rulers choose unrighteousness. The New Testament writers knew what it was to live in a time of uncertainty, in a land governed by those opposed to the gospel, and their response was to preach the Word. Their response was, as ours should be, to obey Christ by joining together in prayer for this nation. We should be on our knees praying that God will send conviction, repentance, and revival on our country. We should be praying for those we call our enemies, not lambasting them in blog form. Let’s do something with eternal consequences this election year: let’s pray.


The Light of the World

As we now move into the Advent season, I think it might be worth thinking about what that really means. For one of my classes, I needed to prepare a brief (5-8 minute-ish) sermon to deliver as part of a worship service my group is leading in class. Below are my notes for said lesson.


  • Advent is a time of year defined by expectant waiting for the arrival of Christ, the birth of the Messiah who has reconciled us to God, but all too often we only think of Christmas and Jesus’ birth from our own modern perspective. It is easy for us now to look at God’s plan of salvation and, if not understand it in its fullness, certainly to at least grasp the basic way in which God achieved our redemption.
  • We often talk about God’s plan of salvation so matter-of-factly that we forget about the wondrous way God has chosen to interact with us. It is difficult, but try for a moment to get into the head of someone living in the era of the prophets of Israel, before Jesus’ coming.  The prophet Isaiah wrote:
    • “Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men.”  -Isaiah 59:9-10
  • The Psalms say:
    • There are many who say, “Who will show us SOME good? Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O Lord!” –Psalm 4:6
  • People, even the chosen people of God, who lived before Christ’s coming lived in a dark world. Not physically darker than that in which we live, but a place where darkness of spirit and un-Godliness reigned virtually unchallenged. Where the only people who knew the true God were located in a single region, and the rest of the world openly worshiped idols and demons in His place. It is difficult for us who live in a world of instant communication to understand, but in the days of the prophets there was nearly an entire planet that had never heard of Yahweh, His great faithfulness, or His promise of hope.
  • The world was filled with spiritual darkness, against which the only hope was from God. How greatly must faithful followers of God have anticipated the Messiah? How they must have yearned, praying day after day for His coming to bring light into the darkness. For in the midst of the darkness, God sent His messenger to deliver hope for His people:
    • “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising…The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.” Isaiah 60: 1-3, 19-20
  • In the middle of unquenchable darkness, God provided a hope for man to cling to, but He didn’t describe the whole plan; believers of the time could only trust in the Lord, for His good and perfect provision, then wait. Not simply biding their time, but expectantly, anticipating the day when their Redeemer would arrive.
  • When Jesus came, He continued describing the world and His gospel in terms of darkness and light:
    • “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” –John 8:12
  • As I prepared for this lesson, two words jumped off the page at me from the last few sentences: “Jesus came.” Isn’t that amazing? We take for granted that He did, but what a relief! What an infinitely comforting thing, to have One who not only lights my way in the world, but IS the Light of the world. How blessed are we in this holiday season that we get to live at a point in history when Christ has already come and revealed Himself to us. How wonderfully blessed are we that in the middle of a dark world, we can KNOW the One who can light it up!
  • This isn’t the end of Jesus teaching on light and darkness, however: Jesus, the King of Kings and Saviour of man also says to us:
    • “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” –Matthew 5:14-16
  • THE Light of the world calls us to be HIS lights to the world. As we anticipate the arrival of the Christ, and His triumphant return, it is not good enough for us to stand alone, islands of vague light set apart from the darkness. We have been commissioned to go into the darkness and spread the light, the hope that we have been given.


At this point, we have a fun little participatory candle-lighting thing we’re doing, but that is neither here nor there.  Hope this was en-light-ening.




The sins of the fathers…

This week I’ve been struck by a particular segment of Scripture several times, in class, at church, and on my friend’s blogs, so I figure I may as well jump on the bandwagon and post about it here.

Exodus 34:6-7

“Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed,
‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious,slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;
who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.'”

Is this as simultaneously exciting and frightening to anyone else as it is to me? The things that I do- the patterns of living, the thoughts, the habits, the daily actions and lifelong pursuits- will have repercussions upon my children, my children’s children, and so forth for two more generations!

It’s awesome that this works both ways- In families like Timothy’s (like I and II Timothy), the godly example of the grandmother then led to a godly life by her daughter, and both of them led to the life of Timothy, a man pastoring a church at an age when most of us were still in school. At the same time, however, the little sins that I allow to remain in my life will have unforeseen and untold consequences in the lives of my kids, and their…well, you get the picture.

Certainly does make you think twice about things, no?

What will we know tomorrow?

I was reading Acts 15 when I noticed something that I hadn’t ever really paid attention to before. Throughout this debate over whether one must be circumcised to be saved there is a deeper undercurrent of debate whether or not gentiles can be saved at all! Obviously this is no longer an issue of contention in the Church as a whole (else a lot of us would be in trouble [or not, depending on which side of the debate you took, I suppose]), but at the time this was a big deal. As I looked at the names involved in this debate, it wasn’t a random church in the middle of wherever, this was a big enough deal that Peter and Paul had to step in and clarify that gentiles didn’t have to become Jews in order to be saved. At one time, it was a matter of serious discussion among believers whether or not Gentiles could be saved at all!

This whole thing looks pretty silly from our perspective (hindsight being 20/20 and all that), which got me thinking about some other serious issues debated within the Church that now look pretty dumb now. For example, take the Arian controversy (basically that if God the Father begat the Son, the Son had a beginning and was, therefore, not fully God). Now we understand (well, maybe not “understand,” but we take it on faith because the Bible says so) that Jesus is fully man and fully God, a full member of the Trinitarian Godhead, but it was so contested in the Church during the 300s that the Council of Nicea was called to decide whether or not they thought Jesus was fully God. This makes me wonder- what sorts of things do we argue about now that will make future generations will look back at us and wonder what we were thinking? It reminds me of the movie Men in Black, when Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith have this conversation.

How many of the issues that we argue now will seem just as stupid viewed through the lens of history? Paul and Barnabas didn’t just argue, they stated the truth, then got busy WORKING toward telling the gentiles. Maybe we should quit trying to argue about abortion and simply love on hurting pregnant women. Maybe we should stop getting so worked up about how gay marriages are going to destroy the nuclear family, and start having Christian marriages that are different from secular ones, rather than having a similar (and slightly higher) divorce rate than those of the world. Maybe we should be too busy loving on the widows and orphans and lost and dying people all around us to be arguing over TULIP or premillenial dispensationalism (yes, I just used the last one because it’s fun to say).
Maybe we need to be putting a positive good out there, rather than just railing against the evil that surrounds us.

This is totally an indictment of myself as much as anyone else, but what am I doing to show the people around me Christ’s love? Am I known for my love of people, and passion to see them in relationship with God, or am I just known as a guy who can sing, or crack jokes, or whatever else I may do?

Time to change.



The trouble with Christians…

I’m watching the musical Company by Stephen Sondheim while prepping some potatoes for later, and just ran across a quote that spoke volumes to me:

“Married people are no more marriage than musicians are music- just because some of the people might be wrong doesn’t matter. It is still right.”

My immediate thought was of how this applies to those who condemn Christianity because of the way that some Christians act- we believers are certainly imperfect and badly flawed, but our mistakes do not invalidate the truth and reality of the Gospel, any more than the fact that some people (ME, for example) are terrible at playing piano invalidates all the beautiful pieces that have been written for that instrument.

Something to think about.

Altars vs Idols

Genesis 35:1-4

1God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. 3Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.


God asks for altars, not idols. Idols are man’s way of trying to capture who God is and box Him into a form that man can understand. Idols are man’s way of trying to control God- of trying to show God off to others as OUR god, rather than being HIS people. Altars, on the other hand, stay put. We can’t keep them and show them off. They cost us something; our time, our effort, and our stuff, and they remain in place forever as a testament to God’s holiness, God’s faithfulness, and God’s Lordship, not our own pitiful attempts at control.


Over the last few months, I have discovered that I really, really like board games (and that I am very inconsistent when it comes to posting on this blog, but that’s beside the point). They solve (for me) what is the inherent problem with group “hanging out”: what I can “not doing anything.” This does not apply to “hanging out” that involves great conversations and whatnot, but just the sort where everyone is sitting on various pieces of furniture doing nothing, and you eventually put in a movie just to have something to do.

Board games are excellent because the give one something to do AND still leave plenty of opportunity to have conversations in the midst of the game (which is where TV/movies fail). Not only does a game allow said conversations, it sparks them, giving those playing a common ground upon which to start talking, and breaking the ice. As such, I have begun amassing a considerable collection of games, and am going to take a little time to talk about each of them, their merits and difficulty, in hopes of finding more friends who are nerdy enough to play them with me. Hopefully the information on each game will be helpful in some way…but if not, enjoy the post anyway.  All of the games in this post are ones that I own, so there are some that have been left out (because I don’t have them) and some that are here that I haven’t played yet, so I can’t say much about them.

This is a great game of medium length, and is what Monopoly fails to be. Let me just say that I absolutely hate Monopoly (more on this later). Acquire is basically a game of manipulating the stock market through the building, growing, and merging of various hotel chains. As expected, the one with the most money at the end wins!
Number of players: 2-6
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Time to Play: 45-60 minutes depending on players
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Apples to Apples:
Ah, the quintessential party game. A card with an adjective is played by “the judge” (ie- unforgettable), and each player plays a card with a noun on it (ie- Natalie Cole). The “judge” of that round selects the winner, and the judge moves on to a different player. This game can be fun with the right crowd, but can also be infuriating when played with people of a different mindset from oneself. If, for example, you like to play nouns that are ironic or just funny, playing with a group of literally minded people can drive you insane. Believe me, I know. For all that, it is a good game, and can provide some outrageously funny results…
Number of players: 2-as many as you have the cards (and patience) for
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: depends on how many players, but 20 minutes is a decent estimate
Thought involved (out of 5): 1
Funness Level (out of 5): 2.5

Axis and Allies:
This strategic WWII game is absolutely delightful for people who want an in-depth game requiring much thought, but can take FOREVER! I have only been able to play it once so far, but that game went approximately four hours (at different sittings) to play through only four turns, and that game was relatively short! It mimics very well many of the realities of WWII, and gives the player a shot at rewriting history from the perspective of the US, the USSR, the UK, Germany, or Japan, with similar constraints as those which were really on the leadership of these countries, but with the ability to make different strategic and tactical decisions. One of the neat things about this game is that your team mates are built in- the allies automatically play together against the axis, and there is no need for the treaties that are necessitated by games like Risk.
Number of players: 2-5 (one player may control multiple countries)
Time to Learn: 30-60 minutes
Time to Play: 4 or more hours
Thought involved (out of 5): 5
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

I have yet to play this since I got it for Christmas, but I hear good things.

I will explain “Mafia” later in this post, but this game is like an Italian/Cowboy-western card game version of Mafia. Each player is assigned the role of either the Sherriff, a Deputy, an Outlaw, or a Renegade, and each player (except the sheriff) keeps their identity card hidden. While each player can (and should) try to convince other players of what they might be, they are under no obligation to be truthful in their statements.
Each of these roles has a specific goal:
The Sheriff’s goal is to eliminate all the outlaws and renegades- once this is accomplished, the Sheriff wins.
The Deputies win the game if the Sheriff wins the game.
The Outlaws win the game if the Sheriff is killed while one of them still lives.
The Renegade(s) win only if they are the last player left alive.
The game then progresses through the play of different cards that allow you to shoot other players and protect yourself, and continues until one team or another has won.  There are a couple of expansions for this game that affect game play, but not excessively.  This is a great game for mid-sized groups who want to interact and hang out, but have something structured going on during the hanging out.
Number of players: 3-8ish
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Time to Play: 30-45 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Battle Cry!
This game is BY FAR the game that I am happiest that I bought when I did. It is actually very similar to some other games on this list, but because it is out of print, it is both a difficult and expensive proposition to try to obtain a copy. It is basically a tactical (as opposed to strategic, like Risk or Axis and Allies) Civil War game, with one player playing each side of a pre-set battle scenario. It’s a lot of fun, but is fairly restrictive in the people it appeals to, being both a two-player game ONLY and a game based in military history. Within that realm of people, though, this is great fun, because it really gives fairly good historical accuracy for each of these battles and provides players the opportunity to try out their own battle plans.
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 10-15 minutes
Time to Play: 30-45 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 4
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

I doubt that this game needs a whole lot of explanation: you place your fleet and try not to let the other player blow you out of the water, all the while trying to sink their fleet. It’s a decent game, but in my experience the lucky will triumph over the logical nearly every time, which is something that drives me crazy in a game.
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: 25-30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

Battlestar Galactica
This is the first game on this list from Fantasy Flight Games, which is fast becoming my favorite maker of board games. This game is, obviously, based off of the excellent 2003 revamp of the classic sci-fi series, but is unlike many of the terrible movie/tv tie-in games in that it is actually a great play. I got it about a week ago, and have played it 4-5 times already with groups of varying size, and it works well with all numbers of players. Part of what is cool about this game is that it is (for the most part) a cooperative game where the players don’t play against each other, but against the game itself. There is a tweak to this, however, in that each player will be dealt a secret loyalty card both at the beginning of the game and half-way through it that either confirms the player as a “human” (playing as part of the majority against the board) or as a “cylon” (playing with the board against the rest of the players). Quite a lot of fun.
Number of players:
Time to Learn: 25 minutes
Time to Play: 1.5-3 hours
Thought involved (out of 5): 4.5
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

This is a very simple tile-laying game that is both easy to learn and not terribly luck-driven. In it, the players basically create a map of medieval-era cities and pastures, farms and chapels. It’s a lot of fun, and fulfilling even if you lose, as you look at the beautiful landscape you have just participated in creating.
Number of players: 2-5
Time to Learn: 5-10 minutes
Time to Play: 20-30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

This game is another of the “classic” American games that had me convinced that board games are all “bored” games, to continue the overuse of a pun. This game is not terribly difficult, not terribly time-consuming, but also not terribly fun.
Number of players: 2-6
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Time to Play: 30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

This is the only game that I can think of that has absolutely no luck involved. It is basically a map of pre-WWI Europe, and each player is one of the major powers of that era. Through military and economic orders, with mandatory time periods of negotiation and treaty-making between leaders.
Number of players: 7
Time to Learn: 20 minutes
Time to Play: 3-6 hours (estimate)
Thought involved (out of 5): 5
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Disney Trivial Pursuit
Very few things I have ever encountered have humbled my opinion of my own intellect as much as playing the original version of Trivial Pursuit, but this one happens to be focused on a topic of trivia that I am well  versed in, so I enjoy it perhaps a bit more. By the way, never challenge Kassie, Jay or I to this game, or we will destroy you. That’s not a boast, that is a legitimate statement of fact.
Number of players: 2-4
Time to Learn: 1 minute
Time to Play: 30-90 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5): 3.5

I haven’t gotten to play this yet, but it is supposed to be a team game that is all about how many songs each team can remember that incorporate certain words or themes…can’t wait!

Game of Thrones
Oh my goodness, where do I start? This game is pretty complex (not as bad as Axis & Allies, but that’s not saying much), and can take a while to learn, but is worth it. This game is based off of a fantasy book series, but does an excellent job of combining strategic and tactical elements in a way that simulates medieval power struggles in a fun way.
Number of players: 3-6 with expansions (5 is best for the original, 6 and 4 four the expansions)
Time to Learn: 30 minutes
Time to Play: 2.5-4 hours
Thought involved (out of 5): 5
Funness Level (out of 5): 4.5

Guess Who?
I feel no compulsion to explain this game, since most have played it, but I will say that it is the only “classic” American game that I could play almost limitlessly without getting bored or annoyed.
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 10-15 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

This is a random game that someone gave me as a kid, and it was kind of fun, but I don’t think we ever actually played it how you were supposed to. The way we played it, it was basically 20 questions about the famous person who was on the card on our head.
Number of players: No idea, probably 5
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 10 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

Another “classic” game, this one is playable, but not half as much fun as the updated version below.
Number of players: 2-4
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 30-60 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 1
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

Life: Twists and Turns
This electronic version of Life is way more fun than the original, in part because of the electronics, in part because the board is way better, and in part because it’s STILL fun to make up a story surrounding the way you play the game, explaining how all of your life circumstances reconcile with each other.
Number of players: 2-4
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: 30-60 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5): 4 (I told you, twice as much fun as the original…)

Mad Gab
Another game I have yet to play…we shall see.

I LOVE this game, but it only works well with the right group of people. All I can tell you about the game is this: The point of the game is to learn the rules. That’s all I can say.
Number of players: 2-a lot
Time to Learn: Length of the game
Time to Play: 15 minutes per round
Thought involved (out of 5): 4
Funness Level (out of 5): either 0 or 5, depending on who you are. For me? 5

This is such a great group game. There will be several people in the group who are in the Mafia, and for them to win, they have to kill off enough townspeople so that the Mafia is the majority of the remaining players. There can be other roles as well, like Doctor, Cop, Lawyer, etc, but all those who aren’t Mafia play together on the Townspeople’s team. Their job is to figure out who the Mafia is and kill them dead.
Gentle game, huh?
Number of players: At least 10
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: Depends on size of group
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Memoir ‘44
This is basically a WWII version of Battle Cry!, but with a nicer board and several expansions so that you can play as America, Germany, Russia, or Japan.
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 10-15 minutes
Time to Play: 30-45 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 4
Funness Level (out of 5): 5

I hate any and all versions of Monopoly. It is a mindless waste of time masquerading as a board game, and it gives all real games a bad name…
Number of players: 2-6ish
Time to Learn: 10 minutes
Time to Play: I don’t know. I’ve never played a game that actually reached the end.
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 0

Pirate’s Dice (Liar’s Dice)
This is a great little bluffing game where everyone has 5 dice that they roll under a cup so that only they see them. Then the person who starts bids how many of a single denomination (2-6, 1s are wild) there are out of EVERYONE’s dice. The next person either raises the number of that denomination, the denomination, or calls the last person on their bet. The loser loses a die, and you keep going till only one person has a die left.
Number of players: 2-6
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 3

This game is nothing special in itself, just a bunch of trivia questions, but it comes with an AWESOME piece of equipment: a buzzer system for up to six people! Yay!
Number of players: 2-6
Time to Learn: 1 minute
Time to Play: however long you want
Thought involved (out of 5): 2
Funness Level (out of 5) with their questions: 2
Funness Level (out of 5) with other games: 4

This is the game that started it all. For better or worse, the combination of Greg Worley, Matt Monson, Colby Sheffield and this game are to blame for my love of board games. This game completely rests on whether or not you play with the right people, but if you do, it can be a great way to exorcise all those thoughts of world domination…
Number of players: 2-6 (or 12, in the double board version we invented!)
Time to Learn: 5-10 minutes
Time to Play: 1-3 hours
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

Run Yourself Ragged
This game is just a one-player game where you’re trying to move a small metal marble from the beginning through a series of obstacles to the finish line. Compete against your own time, or compete against your friends! Yay!
Number of players: 1
Time to Learn: 2 seconds
Time to Play: If you don’t suck, less than 60 seconds
Thought involved (out of 5): 0
Funness Level (out of 5): 3

This game is one I have very little experience with, but is apparently very similar to Wa-Hoo.

This game is almost a very simple chess game. Each player has a variety of different pieces with different abilities and strengths, and is trying to capture their opponents flag. Capture the flag, with none of the paintballs, water guns, or poison ivy!
Number of players: 2
Time to Learn: 5 minutes
Time to Play: 20-30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 3

Ticket to Ride
The best train-laying game out there! But really, it’s a lot of fun, and you get to build your own railroad running from city to city, across continents. There are several different maps, Europe, the US, Germany, and Switzerland.
Number of players: 2-5
Time to Learn: 5-10 minutes
Time to Play: 60-90 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 3
Funness Level (out of 5): 4

And the last game for this post, Wa-hoo. This is a game that my family has played for many decades, and has been handed down from generation to generation for at least…three generations now. The point of the game is to move your four marbles around the board to your safe zone without letting the other players jump your marble or get there first.
Number of players: 2-4
Time to Learn: 2 minutes
Time to Play: 30 minutes
Thought involved (out of 5): 1
Funness Level (out of 5): 2

And that’s that: a bunch of games to play, ways to put off homework, and things to do during some awesome hanging out with friends. Have fun, and get your game on!


Win-Win situations

Ok, so.

Being in seminary, I occasionally have to put up with mindlessly passionate (yes, it’s possible) people spouting their own personal interpretations of Scripture. Being in a BAPTIST seminary, I then get to watch someone else with a different viewpoint argue with them for an hour afterward.

Ok, maybe not that bad, but it’s a great setup for what I want to talk about. Today I had the “pleasure” of sitting through a debate about the meaning of 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 where two people argued about what it means when it talks about the “dead in Christ.” Let me preface this by saying that I don’t want to get into an eschatological debate here, so regardless of whether you happen to be a premillenial-dispensationalist or not (say that five times fast), this next bit still applies.

The argument in class was whether when a Christian dies today, do they go straight to heaven, or do they go to “sleep” until Christ gathers all those who believed in Him together?

Instead of answering that question, I just have to say that God is AWESOME either way.

How many of us couldn’t use a nap from the time we die until the time Christ gathers us up? I know there are times that I wouldn’t mind sleeping for a few years. (Not to mention the idea that if you’re asleep, you wouldn’t notice the time lag, anyway. It would seem like you died, then suddenly woke up when Jesus gathered everyone.)

On the other hand, how good will it be to get to heaven? You’re wheezing and in pain one moment, then a split-second later you’re in heaven! With Jesus!

Either way, I’m pretty excited about this “death” thing. Heaven, or nap…then Heaven.

God is good, amen?


PS- Yes, I really did type most of this just to use the words “premillenial-dispensationalist” in a post. Sue me.

Amazing Grace

“Why is it that you only feel the thorns in your feet when you stop running?”
-Pitt the Younger (Amazing Grace)

“Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly. I’m a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
– John Newton (Amazing Grace)


Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
We have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.(Lead me home!)
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Some versions of the hymn include an additional verse:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

This verse is not by Newton. It was added to a version of “Amazing Grace” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, as it appears in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom has pieced the lyrics of several hymns together; those who learned the lyrics from the novel have assumed that it belongs.


See the movie.

Matthew 6:34

I try again-

Arms stretched to the full

Grabbing, groping, grasping.


Hands clenched, refusing to release

Hands empty, heart the same



With all my might holding on

Holding on



I lose my grip

I fall…into strength.


The depths from which I held myself

Disappear beyond the warmth that holds me now.