G&G Farewell

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Hello all,

It is with heavy hearts that we announce today that Gospel & Gaming is shutting down.  Due to recent changes within our organization, and after much prayer and discussion amongst the team, we feel that God is closing the door on this ministry and calling us elsewhere.

Despite the fact that Gospel & Gaming is coming to an end, we are amazed by all that God has done through us over the last four and a half years.  Since the ministry launched in the fall of 2013, eight people that we have interacted with as a ministry have come to know Jesus as their savior.  We have had hundreds of gospel conversations with people from all walks of life: young and old, single and married, those with children and those without.  We’ve made friends with people in the U.S., Canada, China, and many other countries.  We’ve started conversations with folks online about a wide range of moral, religious, and philosophical issues.  We’ve posted hundreds of pieces of content (articles, videos, interviews, podcast episodes, etc.) that have been seen by people across the globe.  We’ve given sermons, led Bible studies, and shared gamer culture with churches both in St. Louis and elsewhere in the United States.  And all of this was done by a team made up of four people (and it started with just one)!

In light of all this, all of us here are confident that God is at work in the lives of gamers globally, and that relational evangelism through gaming is a fruitful means of ministry.  Still, we believe that God is bringing this particular ministry, Gospel & Gaming, to a close.

 

Ben and Shelby Kieffer will continue to serve the gamers at Lake Saint Charles Retirement Community.  They will also continue to fundraise through Global Service Network; click here to learn more about their work at LSC, and to donate.

Michael Mendis will continue to write about gamers, gaming culture, and faith on his personal website, The Heartland Gamer (www.theheartlandgamer.com).   Michael can be reached by email at michaelcmendis@gmail.com

Jacob Toman will continue his work and involvement in St. Louis with his wife Amy, and children Alethea, Ezra, and Rahab. Jacob can be reached at toman.jp@gmail.com

 

If you’re interested in learning more about what God is doing in gaming, check out some of these other organizations, ministries, and communities that are serving gamers:

Saving the Game

Innroads Ministries

Nerd Chapel

Gaming and God

Geek Preacher

Christ and Pop Culture

Gamechurch

Theology Gaming

Geeks Under Grace

The Reformed Gamers

First Impressions: Okami HD

By Michael Mendis

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One of the recent trends in gaming is for the bigger game companies to look back into their portfolio of old games and re-release some of them on new consoles.  This gives old games a chance to gain new audiences, and in the process these classics often get a fresh coat of paint thanks to the power of new hardware.  One of the latest games to receive this treatment is Okami, a classic PS2 action-adventure game from 2006.  Directed by famed developer Hideki Kamiya (best known for having directed the critically acclaimed Devil May Cry series), Okami became a cult hit among gamers for its colorful artstyle and clever implementation of Japanese culture.  I never played it back when it first came out, but now that it has been re-released on current generation consoles, I’ve picked up a copy and played a couple hours into the game.

In Okami, you play as the Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu, who has taken the form of a white wolf in order to protect the world from the evil god Orochi.  After a somewhat long-winded intro, you are set free into the game world, restoring the local village and surrounding region that has been attacked by demonic forces.  As you go about your task you encounter a variety of characters, including other divine spirits as well as the simple human residents of the village.  The story being told here (at least at this early point in the game) is fairly light-hearted; your wise-cracking, bug-like companion is a consistent source of comedic relief, and many of the other characters are goofballs in their own ways.

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One of the first things you’ll notice about Okami is its beautiful artwork.   The game’s cel-shaded graphics highlight the vibrant colors filling the screen, and the thick black outlines around the characters and other objects in the environment give the game a cartoony look.  The influence of Japanese culture and art is everywhere, from the pagoda style buildings, to the cherry blossom trees that dot the landscape, to the interesting use of Japanese calligraphy in the gameplay (which I’ll talk more about in a moment).  Putting it all together, it’s a treat for the eyes, and it holds up well despite originally being made over a decade ago.

Not only does the artwork translate well over the years, but the gameplay does, too (though not quite flawlessly).  You spend most of your time roaming through the game world, solving puzzles and engaging in brief skirmishes against monsters.  The controls are smooth and responsive, and the puzzles prove to be simple, yet still quirky and satisfying.  Combat gets a bit repetitive at times, though; new weapons can be equipped to mix up the gameplay, but I have yet to see how much of an impact that will have in the long run.  The lack of an autosave system, while hardly a dealbreaker, does also betray this game’s age.

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Probably the most interesting aspect of gameplay is the paintbrush that you can use to alter the game world.  At any point you can hold down a button that pauses the action and allows you to draw on things in the environment with your paintbrush; through the course of the game you unlock new ways that your brush can affect the world, such as damaging enemies, restoring cursed trees, and accessing new areas.  It’s an integral part of gameplay, and easily the most unique and memorable aspect of the game so far.

All things considered, these first few hours with the game have been quite fun; the colorful artwork, slick controls, and the unique ways it incorporates Japanese culture have rightfully made this game a cult classic, one that holds up fairly well over the years.  It’s awesome that a game like this now has a chance to find new audiences (like me) on new consoles.

Judges - The Texture of Failure: Week 8

By Jacob Toman

Throughout our study of the lives of the judges, I have had two hopes. First, I sincerely hope we’ve been confronted by the grotesque nature of sin. Second, I sincerely hope we’ve witnessed God’s care for his people. Today we wrap up our study by concluding the life of Samson and study the summary description of God’s people at the conclusion of the book of Judges.

Few others in the story of the scriptures are described to have the strength of Samson (perhaps Goliath is the only other comparable physical specimen), or to have accomplished so many deeds of bravery (King David also had killed many in battle and defeated wild beasts). Yet for all the great outward strength of Samson, he lacked much of the inner strength of someone like Joseph, who fled from temptations of the flesh, rather than allow himself to be destroyed by them.

 

Read Judges 16...

How would you describe Samson’s romantic relationships? (Hint: see 14:1, 16:1, 16:4)

How would you describe Samson and Delilah’s relationship?

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The book of Judges ends with these two phrases repeated in Judges 17:6 and 21:25

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

As we conclude our study of the book of Judges we have 5 lessons to be reminded of and learn from.

  1. The enemies of the Israelites came from geographically all around them. As their sin continued and they generationally rejected the Lord, their troubles exponentially grew.
  2. The troubles of God’s people are not the result of an abusive, angry God, but are the natural consequences of what happens to a small nation when God doesn’t specifically protect them.
  3. God does not sit idly by while evil persists. The wages of sin is death - this applies not only to God’s people but also to those who hate the Lord.
  4. God does not abandon his people - God disciplines his people and then restores them to himself.
  5. God uses people from every background for his glory.