The Distraction of Entertainment

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 18:  A Costco custome...

In the previous articles in this series we discussed how we have neglected our mission field because we have gotten too comfortable in our life here, in the culture.  We think nothing of this problem but when we look at Scripture and it says that to be partakers of the things of this world makes us enemies with God, then we have to ask ourselves if it is time to give up the things of this earth to pursue God.

I know what many of you are thinking. At the suggestion of having to do away with some of your toys, your fun stuff, you will get all defensive. “But God wants us to enjoy our life” or “Don’t be so legalistic, we have freedom in Christ!”

I know you are thinking this because it is what I am thinking. My flesh wants to fight this thought. I see others enjoying their life here and I want to enjoy it too.

I am not saying that we are supposed to live in total depravity of everything fun. But would that really be a bad thing?

The closer I draw to Jesus the less I care about entertainment and the more I want to just serve Him. It doesn’t become a slave relationship where I can’t have any fun for fear of being struck by lightning; it becomes something where I love serving God so much that to think of spending my time playing games or watching tv just feels like such a waste in comparison!

You may think this is crazy talk, that I am still just denying myself the entertainment that our culture feels it is so entitled to, but when we get to heaven and stand before God, are we really going to be proud of all that time we spent in entertainment? Will we be proud that we spent 7,000 hours of our life watching television and movies, or another 20,000 hours playing video games?

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:1-3

The only time we find entertainment important in our lives is when we are not close with God. The more we focus on the things of God, the less time we want to spend on entertainment.

Think about when you were dating. When you start out getting to know each other and falling in love with each other.  Did you just spend all of your time staring at the tv? Is that how your relationship developed?  Sure you go to the movies and sometimes watch shows together but a majority of your time is spent talking, and interacting together.  This is how you got to know each other.

You fall in love with that person and want to spend all of your time with them. Just because you would rather spend time with your boyfriend or girlfriend instead of watch tv does not mean that you are depraving yourself of entertainment, does it? The entertainment truly doesn’t matter to you in comparison.

It is this way with God. The more we fall in love with God the less we care about the things of this world, the less we care about what the culture cares about.

So focus on heaven, focus on Christ, and focus on our mission here on Earth!

But beware, this world, satan, your flesh, will fight against you and distract you and make you lose that focus.

let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. – Hebrews 12:1, 3

New Year goals, what is it that really matters?

Written by Jon Zenor

As we draw near to the end of 2011 a new year dawns before us.  Many people see the new year as a new chance to get things straight in their life.

As I sit down to write out what my goals will be for this next year I can’t help but think of a quote I heard a few months ago.

I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter. (William Carey – Missionary to India, 1761-1834)

Are you afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter?  You should, or at least I have been.  Every single thing we do we will be held accountable for, and for every single thing we don’t do.  Our culture has made it a point to make the body of Christ ineffective and lame.

I’ve heard a million words, sermons, and read books: (and) I’m accountable to God for everything I have. Every moment of my time, every dime of my money. (Leonard Ravenhill)

Entertainment

I just started watching some new TV shows on Netflix that I want to finish and I started playing a new game, Star Wars: The Old Republic (an MMO which promises to require a lot of my time).

All of this time I spend on entertainment makes me wonder, am I trying to succeed at things that do not matter?  If I get a max level character in Star Wars and beat all the bosses, and if I finish all the TV shows I am currently watching then months of my year are gone.

Star Trek the Next Generation is one show I want to finish, all 178 episodes. At 45 minutes per episode (yay for Netflix being commercial free!) that is 8010 minutes of my year, or 133 hours, which is about 5 and a half days.  5 and a half days of my year gone, just with one tv show, and there are many other shows I want to watch, and games to play.  Another 5 days for Star Trek Voyager, half a day with Firefly, and before you know it just in watching 3 tv shows I have used up nearly 2 full weeks of the 52 weeks I get to live this year. Sleeping for 7 hours per night is 15 weeks, and working approximately 250 days this year is another 12 weeks.

Just between work, sleep, and a couple of tv shows I only have 23 weeks worth of time left…

Our church, the army of the Lord, is found laying down sleeping on the job because we spend most of our time sitting in our comfortable couches watching sports and tv shows and playing computer games.  The world is out there perishing, needing people to help them and bring the gospel message, while we sit around not caring.

This goes back to the quote… am I trying to succeed at things that do not matter?  I am applying this to entertainment but it applies to everything we do, our jobs, relationships that may be dragging us down, time wasted on the internet, games played out with friends while our family is at home without us… the list goes on.

I once confronted someone about entertainment and got the response “but we all need entertainment.” Do we?  Do we really need entertainment?  I suppose if our only alternative is to sit around with nothing to do, then yeah, we need entertainment.

But consider this quote from one of my favorite preachers, Leonard Ravenhill.  He said “The devil’s substitution for joy is entertainment.” Think about that quote for a moment.

If we were busy doing something for Christ, for the lost, we would no doubt feel the joy of Christ in our life.  At that point, I believe, we wouldn’t miss those TV shows or sports.  We wouldn’t care because we would know that we are serving the kingdom.

I am not saying we need to be working twenty four seven and never do anything to relax, what I am saying is that the more time we choose to spend in entertainment the less time we spend doing something godly and holy; something productive.

Christians, we have a savior who gave up everything to become a man, why? So he could be entertained or provide us entertainment?  No, so he could serve and save us.

Do something that matters

I want to challenge each of you.  If you are a Christian, I challenge you to make it a goal this year to put God first, to sacrifice your entertainment time to read the Bible, pray, read a book about becoming a disciple (check out our book reviews for some great suggestions!), or have family time by watching something that is wholesome and edifying instead of the garbage we let in the house from mainstream cable.  Realize that the only thing worth living for, the only thing worth attempting to succeed at are things that are going to last for eternity.

I’m sick to death of the so-called Christianity of our day. What’s supernatural about it? When do people come out of the sanctuary awed and can’t speak for an hour because God has been in glory there? Dear God, as soon as they get out, they’re talking football, or sports or something or there’s going to be a big sale downtown or somewhere. We are not caught up into eternity! (Leonard Ravenhill)

Do you realize your neighbors are speeding down the road to hell while you sit there watching your football games?  While I am sitting on my computer leveling up my Jedi Knight in Star Wars, my neighbor is struggling with sin and needing someone to share the love of Christ with them, someone to take the time to pray for them.

Brothers and sisters, what are we doing on this earth if we are not living for the kingdom?

Call up local churches or the police department and ask what kinds of needs are in your community that you can pray for and help out with.  Find the nearest homeless shelter and go help them out.  Do you knit? Knit them some scarves to help keep the homeless warm.  Just go do something; which may mean you have to turn off that TV.

If you are not a Christian, I plead for you to realize that your sin is greatly offending a mighty and holy God.  The one who created you and gave you life, love, the power to think, he is hurt by every “little” sin we do. It is time for you to get right before God, repent and turn from your sin and follow God!  The journey isn’t easy or comfortable, but it is awesome!

Let twenty twelve not go down in the history of your life as just another year that flew by faster than before with nothing significant to show for it.

Everything else is meaningless

When you face God on judgement day, how many characters you got to max out in a video game is not going to matter, how many football games you watched and cheered for will not matter, what tv shows you watched will not matter.  What will matter, is what you did with the resources God gave to you, your time and money.

The writer of Ecclesiastes ends his book by saying “Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless. … Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.” ( Ecclesiastes 12:8, 13 NLT)

Another season to focus on God!

This summer has been crazy with activities for the staff at ETM.  As you have noticed if you are following us on Twitter or Facebook, we had to take the summer off from writing articles, which we were sorry to have to do.

Life is not any less busy during the rest of the year, but most summer activities include a lot of breaks in the normal routine of things, making writing regularly difficult.  But that break is now over.

We have some awesome articles and book reviews coming in the next couple of weeks, so subscribe to our feed, follow us on Facebook, and keep an eye out for those.

Announcements

We are always trying to find ways to improve ETM so we are making a few changes to help move towards that goal.

Staff Down sizing

I hate to start out the announcements on a negative announcement, but that is just the way it goes sometimes.  Several of our staff members have too many commitments between family, school, other ministries, and other real life things to be able to focus much on ETM.  I commend the effort given by all of our staff members to date and welcome them back at any time if the Lord leads them.  Please keep them in your prayers during this busy season of their lives.  Also I ask that you would keep ETM in your prayers that we can continue with the shortage of staff, or that the Lord would bring staff members to help fill the shoes that are now left empty.

Article Frequency

With the fewer people writing articles we will now be releasing a new article every four to five days instead of every three to four.  We hope this schedule will still bring you plenty of quality, Biblical content and will encourage you in your relationship with God.

New Staff wanted!

Given this information it is obvious that we could use some help on staff.  If you have any experience in writing, or want experience in writing articles, we could use your help.  Not just writers either.  Gamers, editors, forum users, we want you all!  Check out the ETM Staff page to view the positions available and what the requirements are, then fill out our staff application to apply for the position.

We do not just want those who are the most experienced or who have the degrees.  Our main area of focus for staff members is first and foremost a dedication and love for God.  Without a daily relationship with Him this ministry is nothing.  Also we want people who are committed to ETM and want to see the ministry survive and thrive.

ETM Christian Gaming

There are several Christians who enjoy playing various online games together in a family-friendly environment that encourages Biblical discussions and pursuing God.  We know games are easy to get wrapped up in and sometimes want extra accountability to stay focused on Christ.  The Bible says “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)  This includes time spent playing games.

In response to this we want to setup a network of Christian guilds, to provide support and tools needed to run their guilds or servers while maintaining Christian accountability and a family friendly environment.

If you are interested in helping us out in this endeavor, please consider filling out an application.  This is a fairly new idea so you can be there and help from the ground up, and take a part in actually shaping how these guilds will work.

A Baby is Born!

The wife of one of our staff members, Sean, is about to give birth to their third child!  Congratulate them on their new bundle of joy and keep them in prayer as they make this transition in their life.

That is all of the announcements for now.  Stay tuned for some awesome and challenging articles that will be published on the site soon.  If you have a Twitter or Facebook account follow us! 🙂

Why I am leaving PC gaming…

I have been playing PC games for years…okay…12 years to be exact.  I have greatly enjoyed the time I have played them; however, that time is coming to an end.  No, I am not quitting video games…as a matter of fact I still plan on playing a lot.  Anyways, time to stop boring you with my rambling and get to the point.

Why am I leaving PC gaming…?

MMORPGs…

Well, a lot of reasons actually.  For the last 12 years, since I got into PC gaming, I mostly played MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games).  There are rather large problems with MMORPGs.

First, they are timesinks, meaning they consume a LOT of your time to be fun and to unlock the full potential of the game.  Second, they support addictive properties that can pull in just about anyone, and get you to play hours every day; while you neglect your family, friends, and other responsibilities.

Third, since most never have any completion, they have to attract you with what is called “Carrot on a Stick” tactics; this means they tease you with the next best thing (weapon, armor, mount, dungeon), only to get to the next best thing after that.  Basically, chase the carrot on a stick, once you finally reach it, here is another.  Don’t get me wrong, fun is fun, and some of them are fun, but in the end, they all go to this tactic.

Fourth…ehh, I could keep going, but I bet I am starting to bore you.

Pause!

Another reason I am leaving PC gaming is due to most PC games being mostly online, you have no pause functionality.  Pause is important in so many ways, but instead of putting them all here, take the time to think about how a pause button could be useful to you in any situation.

$MONEY$

So many people argue that PC gaming and console gaming end up costing the same amount in the end, and I have ready multiple articles backing it.  However, in my own research, and in my own situation, this is not true by any means.

In order to keep my computer up to date and playing the current games, I need to spend $200-400 a year on new hardware.  And you still have the buy the games to play on it.  In the last 3 years I have spent roughly $1200 upgrading a computer I spent $1500 four years ago.  So in four years that is $2700, not counting games.

In the last 2 years, including the price of the console, I have spent roughly $800 on my Xbox 360 AND games!  If I added 2 years of games onto that, (I rarely buy games new) I may have spent $100-$150.  So, we are comparing $2700 to $950.

And we are not done!  In order to play multiplayer games, everyone I want to play with must have the game as well.  2 of the main people I play with are my wife, and my brother, and my brother doesn’t have a job, so I must purchase his games for him.  This means if we all want to play a new PC game, that is $180 for me.  Most Xbox 360 games have up to 4 player split-screen multiplayer.  That means buying one game, and being in the same room with the other players.  Double win in my opinion.

Plus, I am also maintaining both of their computers, but figuring that in would just make the PC gaming cost crazy.

Being a better person?

I don’t know about you, but when I get off a PC game, I don’t just get right off the computer and spend time with my family; more likely I check forums, facebook, and do other web activities.  Before I know it, a 2-3 hour gaming session just turned into 4 due to forums and facebook.  When I play my Xbox 360, most of the time after a maybe 1 hour gaming session, I instantly go to my family or to something I need to get done.  This greatly improves your chances of getting the house clean 😀

I have noticed time spent with my family, and getting other things done greatly increased since lowering my PC gaming time.  Not only that, but it is easy to get your family involved with the Xbox 360 than it is with a PC game.

Being a better person…in Christ! ^_^

Don’t get me wrong, Christians gaming is not wrong.  Nor is Christians playing games for countless hours of the night.  When it is wrong, is when it interferes with your family, your friends, and your walk with God.  I openly encourage gaming, now and probably always will.  As a matter of fact I am a member of a very large Christian gaming clan called Tribe of Judah ( http://toj.cc ).

Gaming is not only a good form of entertainment, but it also provides a wonderful way to have fun with friends and family.  (In my opinion, it is one-hundred times better than spending time watching TV.)

Stepping away from PC gaming will give me a lot more time for God, and Bible study.  I will be able to focus more on who I should be in Christ, and have more time to help others.

Overall

I am leaving PC gaming because (for me) it is unhealthy, time consuming, inconvenient and expensive.  And my friends and family will benefit from more time with me. 🙂

Christ Centered Gamer – Game Reviews

Today I am going to give you a review/overview of ccgr.org.

ccgr.org is a very unique website, it’s main purpose is to review video games from a Christian perspective. One thing I want to point out from the start is they don’t get games bad reviews for violence and stuff, they actually give a game score, and a morality score.

ccgr.org has a nice way of reviewing games. If we look here at their review of New Vegas, you will see a “Game Info” box that provides a lot of information on the game, from System Requirements to ESRB rating. There is usually always a gameplay video. A “Highlights” box (my favorite), and then the score breakdown.

Let’s take a look at how they breakdown scores (for New Vegas):

Game Score – 82%
Game Play: 16/20
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Stability: 3/5
Controls/Interface: 5/5

Morality Score – 32%
Violence: 0/10
Language: 0/10
Sexual Content: 0/10
Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 6/10

We see they gave it a 82% game score, and a 32% morality score. In the game score, the higher the number the better the game. In the morality the score, the lower the scores, the more immoral the game is. I love this feature, because anytime I have ever tried to use Christian game review sites before, they always give games bad reviews for violence and language and what not. ccgr.org provides a much better way of reviewing from a Christian prospective than I have ever seen.

And on top of all of this, their reviews are good…and not just something thrown together. The reviews are worth reading, and the site is very good.

The next time you need a review of a game, whether to see if the game is good, or to see how immoral a game is, ccgr.org provides a excellent way getting the info you need.

Side-note: They also have forums, IRC, and game servers!