The Gaming Preacher – Part 1

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“The Gaming Preacher”

Part 1

by Steven Crook

[Study Aired February 16, 2022]

For the past few months, I have grappled with the presentation of this study and just when to do it. It appears the Lord has inspired me to present it now, and I thank the Lord for it, for all things are of and by Him.

At first glance, the title, “The Preaching Gamer” seems like an oxymoron, but I assure you it is not.

Before delving into this topic, I thought it only prudent to share my biases with you so we can get that focus out of the way.

For most of my lifetime, I have really liked games of all sorts. I have enjoyed many of my own made-up games, made up from the imagination that the Lord gave me to use as a child, and wow, did I come up with some whoppers much to the despair of my parents! Imagination was needed, of course, since the tech of today was not invented yet.

I have always enjoyed board games, or as I tease – “bored games”, card games of all sorts, and especially PLAYING or coaching various sports games. I am not really an “observer only” type of person. 😊

I grew up as an 80’s kid where many of the stereotypes found in the series, “Stranger Things” were mostly accurate. 😊

My life has literally been a bridge of sorts when it comes to huge generational and world shifts in the world of technology.

Growing up in the 80’s and learning how to use the Apple IIGS computers that were donated to the Boys and Girls clubs I grew up in was a huge influence to who I am “seen as” in this world. I work in IT, etc.

Working on those computers as a little boy started me on the path to being a game developer, for which I initially went to college. I didn’t finish up with all that due to my brother dying during that time and having my colorblindness frustrate all the things I was trying to learn, apply and accomplish.

That is part of my “physical” or “natural” story. Additionally, I am the last of my physical generation, according to my years, in what the world says is Generation X.

I bridge baby boomers born in the mid to late 60’s and ending in 1980 (the year I was born), with the millennial generation. In fact, my wife is one year younger than me and is considered the oldest in the millennial generation.

Yet, who am I in the world to Jesus Christ my Husband?

Joh 1:10  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
Joh 1:11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

Joh 9:5  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Joh 11:9  Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, BECAUSE HE SEETH the light of this world.
Joh 11:10  But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

1Jn 4:17  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

1Jn 5:19  And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

Mat 5:14  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

As scripture teaches us, the day of judgment is NOW, and every day to us, from our perception, is always NOW.

Therefore, we are always in judgment if we are the Lord’s people. It’s just that simple.

1Pe 4:17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

I have mentioned everything here to lay the foundation that I am heavily slanted towards gaming being a viable tool and technology in our lives today so that we can continue to judge the world in us and also be the Light we are called to be. Balance in all things is a must, and I hope this series helps to reveal all of this in due time.

With that being simply stated, I hope to delineate a lot of points during this series to help everyone understand how it is I can make such a bold statement. Again, I am a bridge, and in this case, I am hoping I will be a bridge of knowledge and wisdom.

I am well positioned in the world to be in it and not of it, spiritually speaking. I am at the top of my career in technology, having been given “worldly recognition” that I have at least “mastered” one field in which I work via a master’s degree in cybersecurity.

Much more importantly than that, I am also positioned in this part of the body of Christ to share my own thoughts, experiences, and knowledge in the world that we all find ourselves in technologically, while reflecting on all of those things and weighing them against scripture.

I am hoping this will allow me to speak to why it is very important that we all have a firm grasp of the subject matter we are dealing with and to also combat that old serpent who torments the hearts and minds of many of us based on what is coming through our Internet connected devices.

This mini-series is intended to enlighten us all, and to help us all grow even more in our understanding of the Lord, the Day we are living in NOW, and to help lift the burdens surrounding things that may terrify all those parents out there with children connected to the world today who might also be playing video games.

From the beginning

Did you know that the very color and sound we are using on this presentation was inspired and created due to a video game?

Another Steve, Steve Wozniak, designed many of the modern features we have today based on the Atari gaming system game he also worked created. Quoting from Wikipedia,

“Certain aspects of the system’s design were influenced by Atari‘s arcade video game Breakout (1976), which was designed by Wozniak, who said: “A lot of features of the Apple II went in because I had designed Breakout for Atari. I had designed it in hardware. I wanted to write it in software now”.[17] This included his design of color graphics circuitry, the addition of game paddle support and sound, and graphics commands in Integer BASIC, with which he wrote Brick Out, a software clone of his own hardware game.[18] Wozniak said in 1984: “Basically, all the game features were put in just so I could show off the game I was familiar with—Breakout—at the Homebrew Computer Club. It was the most satisfying day of my life [when] I demonstrated Breakout—totally written in BASIC. It seemed like a huge step to me. After designing hardware arcade games, I knew that being able to program them in BASIC was going to change the world.”[19]

This can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_II

These Apple II’s were the first to bring all of these things together, and we still enjoy the benefits of them to this day based on a video game.

That is where we started, but where are we today? Today, much of the world buys Apple iPhones, and many other Apple products, which literally connect us to the rest of the connected population of the world.

Today, we find ourselves in a much different world than even I experienced starting in 1980.

Yet, the Lord changes not.

Mal 3:6  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Mal 3:7  Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

The Lord doesn’t change so that WE ARE NOT CONSUMED. Yet, we had better be willing to be changed.

How can we “WILL” anything if the Lord’s will is ULTIMATE? How can we work out anything at all in that case?

Php 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Php 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

We are to be as children on the lap of the Lord because He wants us to understand how we are to be in this world. He wants us to be willing to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, but that can never negate that it is Him doing it in us.

As we embark on our daily lives, our daily dying and judgment, we should always keep everything in spiritual perspective.

Rom 14:22  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
Rom 14:23  And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Ecc 9:10  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Today, I find my hand typing these words with all the might the Lord has given me to muster on this topic.

The Roman Racer

Throughout this mini-series, I hope to offer many of the angles I believe are missing from the conversation when talking about video games, and those who play them, referred to as “gamers” hence the title of the series.

Notice that it is Paul the apostle, a.k.a. “The Roman Racer” (yep, only in this series), who instructs us in Philippians that we are to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”.

For it is God who worketh in you to WILL and WORK, but never are we told to work out someone else’s salvation for them. No, we are to run in our own race with two men.

From the Roman Racer we find:

Php 2:14  Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

The “all things” that we are to do without murmurings and disputing is directly stated after we are told it is God working and willing in US to DO ALL THINGS.

Php 2:15  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Isn’t it interesting that we read earlier that Jesus tells us that we are the light “of the world”. We are not of the world, we are the LIGHT of the world. While we are in the MIDST, the same concept of Jesus being in the MIDST of two or three “gathered in His name”, we also shine as lights IN THE WORLD.

What are we doing blameless and harmlessly?

Php 2:16  Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Php 2:17  Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
Php 2:18  For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

Notice that the “Roman Racer” mentioned working and running together, with neither one of these being done in vain. I give Paul this title for this study because Paul often referred to his physical heritage, upbringing, nationality, etc., and Paul was a Roman, and he fights the good fight and runs the race!

It is often considered that Paul himself probably saw what was referred to as the Isthmian Games because these were held at the Isthmus of Corinth. He certainly is referring to the games that would be at Isthmus when he is writing to the Corinthians.

These games were being held in between what we know as the Olympic Games, which were held at Olympia.

Paul mentions the Passover and Pentecost in 1 Corinthians which are Jewish holy days.

Paul is writing here to the Corinthians, and if you know anything about Corinthians, Paul really laid into the Corinthians in book 1 which he writes about later in book 2.

Yet, ask yourself why the holy spirit would inspire Paul to write about running in a race and fighting a fight to win it? Paul was specifically mentioning running and boxing which are both competitive and NOT NEEDED in our lives as far as being followers of Jesus Christ is concerned, or ARE THEY and how?

Did the holy spirit just tell us, through Paul, to box someone’s lights out for sport and the entertainment of the crowd? Well, thankfully, we do not need to guess since we have the rest of the bible and Christ’s words from which to gather witnesses.

Competition

We often say in society that experience is the best teacher. We say that because having done something before better equips us for doing that thing better in the future or for our overall experience moving forward.

In sports, we practice getting better. In schooling, we build upon the last lesson by adding to it with the next thing we can learn. We practice that schooling daily.

In work, we go to work regularly. We attend training for a trade, we get oriented to the job, or sometimes we are thrown into the water and told to sink or swim. Any way it goes, it is better to get a little training before we dive right in even if we are great at our job, because each situation is different.

Even from birth, all of us mammals, via practice, learn to roll over, crawl, walk, and run. We are actually competing with ourselves for most of this time to become better at the thing we are doing.

Why do I mention this? Well, with practice comes experience. If we are to run a race or fight a fight to win them, then we must have practiced making sure we run as though we are going to WIN the race.

This usually means HIGH COMPETITION. High competition, at its best, thrills the audience and the athletes. Everyone at the top of their games wants to beat the best to be the best.

Everyone wants to see a good super bowl game, not a one-sided affair. Everyone enjoys great competition, but with that comes tremendous effort and practice.

The holy spirit of God knows this well. The Lord often “challenges” other gods via the various stories we can read throughout scripture. However, the challenge is often a mocking of whatever the topic is in order to mock fake gods.

1Ki 18:20  So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
1Ki 18:21  And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
1Ki 18:22  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
1Ki 18:23  Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
1Ki 18:24  And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
1Ki 18:25  And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
1Ki 18:26  And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
1Ki 18:27  And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
1Ki 18:28  And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

So, why mention any of this in the context of video games today? Well, no matter how you look at it, playing games for sport, entertainment or otherwise is not frowned upon in scripture. In fact, we are encouraged with the healthy examples of these things by the inspiration of the holy spirit working through Paul.

However, as with all things, there is a time and place for all things and all things should be encouraged to be done to the glory of God.

Most of my experience is that people find video games to be very negative or very positive depending on your positioning and opinion, and then there is me 😊.

Php 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Php 4:5  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Php 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

God clearly tells us to worry about nothing. That is what “Be careful for nothing” means in the old English.

(CEV)  Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.

(EMTV)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, along with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

Php 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Php 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Php 4:9  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

The rest of this series and everything said so far, will be focusing on gaming and video games through the spiritual lenses of things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, or if there be any virtue or praise to be had.

It is very easy to sum up video games and video gamers as lazy and addictive persons. This is indeed what I found to be the number one concern AND observation from parents and grandparents, but I also find this to almost always be shewed somewhat based on perception, hypocrisy, ignorance, laziness or pure lack of engagement based on our own parenting styles and experiences.

“Video games are wasted money and time”.
“There is nothing productive that comes from them”
“They are so violent, scary, gory, anti-God”, etc.

So on and so forth.

What about the things that can be categorized as:

True (about video games?)
Honest
Just
Pure
Lovely
Of good report
Any virtue?
Any praise?

Before ending part one of this series, and so that we can start to get into some of the meaty cud we need to chew on, I’d like to give just a few brief snippets of topics that will be covered in this very needed series.

Video games have been used in education from the time they were able to be portable enough to be in the classroom. In fact, many people of my age can vividly, and usually enthusiastically, remember Oregon Trail.

Video games are used in the military to train soldiers.

Video games are used in aviation, and many other fields, for simulated training.

As of the end of 2021, there are an estimated 3.1 billion gamers across all gaming platforms and types of gaming.

The average age of gamers in the US, as of 2018, is 34.

29% of all US gamers are aged 46-60.

Globally, 43% of gamers are 36 or older.

79% of American gamers play games purely due to MENTAL stimulation.

74% of parents polled in 2021 believe that video games can be educational with 57% of all of those parents saying they play video games with their children weekly.

I pulled these stats from a random website out of convenience and looked at all of the sources. Play Today

These stats are similar to many other studies and polls that were taken over the years.

It seems like gaming is here to stay. God has willed it, so as I like to say, “God has willed it, so let’s deal with it.”

While all the negative aspects of video games come screaming and crashing to the forefront of our minds, have their positive aspects been considered?

There are many aspects of the negatives and positives that I hope to tackle in this series. Among them are things to consider, but are not limited to these topics, such as:

The gaming industry revenue by the end of 2021 will be $175.8 billion. There are millions of jobs involved in that number all the way down to the retail Game Stop on the corner.

What about the developers who need to PLAY games in order to develop said game for their job and family stability?

There are many games designed for cognitive reasons such as memory retention in senior citizens, hand/eye coordination, etc.

The most profitable YouTuber plays with toys and is named Ryan Kaji. He currently has 31.8 million subscribers and made 29.5 million in 2020 and an estimated 40 million in 2021. Many of his toys of MANY electronics and or gaming involved somehow.

Parent and child relationships can be very positive if given the proper balance and parameters with games.

Social interactions, and observations, are MUCH easier with technology. Helping your children know what sorts or character traits to look for in online friends is a must.

As with all of technology, closed interactions can lead to very negative consequences or can also lead to very positive outcomes, much like one-on-one fellowship calls.

I liken gaming to airplanes and guns. It might sound weird at first, but I conclude this study with these thoughts as a segue into the next study.

The technology to make airplanes, guns and gaming has all happened because the Lord has willed it to be so.

Airplanes are used for everyday work both for the workers making them, employed to maintenance them, etc. The same with guns.

Airplanes are used in warfare. Horrible as that is, it is true nonetheless.

Airplanes are also used for entertainment and personal satisfaction. Many pilots learn to fly for FUN and self-reliance.

Many hunters hunt with guns for food. Many others hunt for sport and a trophy on their wall. Guns are used in terrible acts against other humans.

If you’ve ever played any electronic games, you’re a gamer in one fashion or another, if even that electronic card game on your cell phone. There are very negative aspects to video gaming, but there are some great ones as well.

There are games that allow virtual rape and the running over and killing of people in horrible ways. There are parodies of this too in gaming. There are Christian-based games. Educational, etc, etc. There are pornography games aplenty.

If I can hunt with a gun to protect my animals and family, and to also put some meat in my belly, then there is a balance being practiced at the same time of not killing another man against the commandments of our Lord and savior.

Many folks often take plane flights to do many things including to fellowship. Planes aren’t bad because they are used in a horrible way in war.

Yet, all of these few examples are all created for us by the Lord down to this very sentence being typed on my computer.

There are so many avenues of thought I hope to bring to the table on this topic through my many years of practice, of discerning good and evil, and applying all that I know to the glory of God in this process.

Rev 21:23  And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

“The glory of God, the Lamb is the light thereof, did lighten it”.

Jesus clearly is the Light of the world. Jesus is come in the flesh. We are the light of the world. As He is, so are we in this world.

Paul had great active and LIVE examples and opportunity to speak to the folks called Christians at the church of Corinthians, for that is to whom he was sent to.

Can you imagine the crowds that would gather to see these games? The holy spirit wanted us to know, via Paul, that no matter what we find ourselves doing, we should do it with all our might. We are to run the race to win it. We are to fight our opponents with a clenched fist to win the bout.

If we are told to do all we do to the “glory of God”, we are doing everything for the Lamb, also known as a Lion, also known as a King, also known as Jesus the Christ, for He is a BODY and HEAD. We are His inheritance.

With the technology of today being what it is, with knowledge increasing as it is in these times, and with gaming being so prevalent for so many reasons, we should all be diligent to make sure we are looking at the times we are in and applying all the light we can to be something this world can SEE.

Php 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Php 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Php 2:14  Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Php 2:15  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Php 2:16  Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

There is a balance to be had in being good examples to our families. There is a balance to parenting in this day and age with electronics opening up your kids’ bedrooms to strangers…. No doorbell included.

I hope this topic will be a breath of fresh air for figuring out how to navigate this world, as the lights of the world, for this age we have called to be in NOW.

If you think I advocate for all-out gaming without many parameters and caveats, think again! There simply isn’t enough time to get into the particulars in Part 1. But, let there be Light to open this topic on how we can tackle it as His wife and body.

I hope you were somehow blessed with this study.

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