Spring Cleaning


Hey there folks!

Hope you’re all having a rock awesome Friday! Just wanted to make sure you’re aware of a few changes to the site. First, Theology Threads has temporarily been removed but will be back once we iron out some details regarding production and proceed disbursement, (that is to say, we need to pick a humanitarian organization to get all the money from the threads).

Second, we’ve added a few new sections to the site. We now have a dedicated page for submitting contributing articles as well as pages covering prayer requests, mission trips and conventions. The hope is that this new content helps to refocus the site on its foundational goal of bringing together the work and action of God’s Kingdom (via the beatitudes  with the expressions found in video games.

As always, we would love any feedback or thoughts you may have. Have a great weekend!

Another Castle

Sometimes I have some pretty amazing stuff to say. Sometimes I feel like my knowledge and wisdom is bubbling over uncontrollably. And sometimes I’ve got absolutely nothing.

Today is one of those times.

But no worries, just because my deep insights are coming from a far away internet land doesn’t make them any less spectacular. Here’s a couple of links to some articles I found to be down right fascinating.

The first is about how the boy scouts are going to start offering a game design merit badge. Helping old ladies across the street, learning how to be a man, selling tasty popcorn and now game design: if that isn’t the heart beat of 8bitkingdom then I don’t know what is.

The second is about how researchers from North Carolina University discovered that playing games was adding to the emotional health and stability of seniors. In a world riddled with pesky boy scouts and talking dogs there are apparently only two remedies: tie balloons to your house and float away or load up a round of Diablo 3.

Finally, the third guest on our list loves bike riding by the beach, romantic spaghetti dinners and discussing why video games are a uniquely beautiful medium. I’ll be coming back to this one in the coming weeks but in the mean time check out this surprisingly insightful (and paradoxically somewhat immature) foray into what makes video games great.

So there ya go, plenty of reading material, and I promise next time I’ll be ready to blow your mind with more of my abounding, humble, insight.

Defeating Our Disability

I have a disability. I have at times been known to be selfish or stubborn. I’ve lied, I’ve cursed, I’ve stolen, and I’ve abandoned. In short, I am far from perfect. Beyond that, I’ve at times stumbled over my words, missed the winning shot, been late, been absent, and I’ve failed at a handful of my dreams. All of these together are my disabilities. They are ways in which I fall short of fulfilling the potential that God has placed in me.

However, even though I have many disabilities I am in no way disabled. To be disabled would be to allow my disabilities to define who I am and in the process cloud who God intends me to be. For sure, my disabilities have provided many long and short term hurdles in my life but I know that I can overcome them because I am defined first and foremost by Christ.

Taken in this light, our disabilities can at times in fact become gateways to our greatest strength because they point us to the source of power: God. Our deficiencies can help us to realize that we absolutely need a God who can work in our lives and restore who we are meant to be. This doesn’t mean that we necessarily revel in our weakness but rather that we use it to see how God is building in our lives out of our need for Him, rather than how we have failed. When we do this then our struggle to grasp onto Christ and overcome our disability becomes a wonderful power which displays the providence of God.

A perfect example of this was when my grandpa, who was a carpenter and a small business man, had a debilitating stroke 17 years ago. He could have let the weakness define him but instead he leaned into the power of God to overcome his weakness. He re-learned to talk, walk, and live life, and as a result the remaining years of his life became a wonderful testament to never settling to be disabled.

We see this same mindset in Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 right after he has recounted his many trials and missteps. Yet amid them he realizes that God pushes him on by telling him that, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” And it’s because of this that Paul can declare: “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

In two days the paralympics will begin in London. As the second largest sporting event in the world, the paralympics wonderfully represent the idea that a disability does not mean that you are disabled. By relying on Christ our weaknesses can be transformed to strength. Yet this only happens when we refuse to be defined by our disabilities and instead submit them to Christ. In this, we are able to recognize how God uses them for his glory so that we not only may be restored, but also so that, like Paul, our trials may become a testament of God’s strength to others as well so that all may come to know the redeeming power of God.

A Path Long Lost

I am in the eye of the hurricane. Everything I do, every day is in some way related to a form of Christian ministry. I work as a high school pastor, my wife and I are in seminary (where she also works) and I’m constantly collaborating and cooperating with ministers and ministries thought my home area of Orange County. The Kingdom of God seems to be in a constant,rhythmic motion around us but there is one thing that seems hellbent on stymying its growth: the church.

Once the term church was synonymous with Gods Kingdom. Acts shows us that the people of this church cared for each other with a fierce love. Everyone had equivalent wealth, an equivalent voice, and a shared investment into the causes of Christ. The elderly cared about the youth and spent time with them. The outreach consisted of everyone daily going to the poor and feeding them. Each member of the church poured themselves out in humility so that the Kingdom could prosper and reach further.

But not any longer. Trappings of the true church can be found within the facsimile that exists today but they are quickly being pruned away. Resources now go toward sterile buildings instead of living communities. Red tape has bound the movement of the holy spirit, forcing it to our will lest we reject it all together. Dogmatic tradition has blinded us from the true injustices of society; demanding that we obey it rather than put our energy toward actually serving the worlds needs. And worst of all, our arrogance has kept us from ever admitting that this is true.

Culture at large has tried to cordially assist the church of today by explaining its irrelevance. Yet instead of listening to the needs of the world it should be saving; instead of looking to the foundation of our institution as it was developed by the Holy Spirit; instead of actually being part of the Kingdom of God, the church has stuck its head in the sand. We insist that we need our red tape, dogma, and empty buildings to operate and those be damned who think otherwise. If culture thinks the church is irrelevant than it must be wrong because clearly were doing everything right. The numbers are down cause of culture, our ministries suffer cause of the economy; there always seems to be an excuse that allows the church to escape true self reflection.

But, we don’t need to be this way. The church must stop being so complacent with the ills that exist within itself. When ministries are blossoming we must resource them. When people are hurting we must help them. When the spirit is moving we must be willing to throw our red tape and antiquated procedures to the wind. If we don’t then we are failing God. We have been given a heavy charge to help save a world that is lost and broken. But if we ever hope to take part in this transformative justice then we must become something else. We must become the church we once were. Because as it is now, the church is not the church.

Have a Heart

So it’s probably pretty safe to assume that most of us who are sitting in front of computer screens all day aren’t exactly the kind of people who should jump up and run a charity marathon tomorrow. Of course we all want to give but I don’t know if my loved ones will sponsor me to run when there is a 98% chance that my heart will explode just from jogging up to the starting line.

Well don’t sweat it bro, Xbox Live has got your back. Over the weekend of October 1st, gamers can participate in the Gaming and Giving for Good charity event which will be taking place on Xbox Live. Basically, you find folks to sponsor you for every hour of play and the proceeds go toward helping kids throughout the network of hospitals that are connected with Extra Life. Sounds like a win, win, win, and it doesn’t even involve heart explosions!

A World Without The Batman


It is one of the saddest tragedies of our age that Batman doesn’t exist. Sure any hero (ahem, Spider-Man) would be stupidly, awesome in real life but they require the bending of known physics or reality itself. Batman on the other hand is simply a man. A man who decided to change the world and sacrifice everything to do it. What if we followers of the Kingdom took our role just as seriously?

The disconnect lies in the fact that true villains exist in the world but unfettered heroes mostly don’t. Now when I say villains I don’t mean people like Osama bin Laden or Hitler. Those people are certainly demented but they do what they do to obtain power. As a counter weight, many people (though not all) such as soldiers, officers, and firefighters act as heroes to save the world from these evil forces. Yet, there are some people who live beyond the code of the power struggle. These are true villains; people who seem to live only to (in the words of Alfred Pennyworth), “Watch the world burn.” It is for these villains that we need unfettered heroes.

People who are willing to lay down everything in order to save the world. Not just their lives but their salaries, their homes, their livelihood, their dreams, and their joy just to take part in rescuing humanity. Heroes who are not bound by county or country lines. Heroes who save a life at any cost, even it’s the Joker’s. Heroes who have nothing holding them back.

How different would the world look if we lived like Batman? Striving only for the desires of the Kingdom: to save a world that is lost and broken by sacrificing our all.

The Success of Excess

This summer was like a video game marking thrill ride for me: E3 in June, Comic-Con in July and PAX in August. Like a hobbit approaching the grandeur of Minas Tirith, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle each offered up a convention center which was bubbling over with the hype of fresh games coming out of the oven. Then, like the guards to some geek filled castle, security squads would check my badge before ushering me into a promised land of digitized lights, sounds and swag. And while I loved every new game and nerdgasmic moment of these conventions there was a little ping of discomfort that would run down my spine every time I walked through the convention hall’s front doors.

The reason that this moment so poignantly stood out in my mind is because it was the exact moment when I would leave the world of reality and enter into a marketing driven world of fantasy. In this world everyone could respawn when they died, no one was unclothed because every booth handed out swag shirts, and hunger was defeated by the swath of kiosks in the food court. This may have all been fine and dandy except for the fact that outside of those doors, the real world was a very different place. Homeless men and women rifled through the trash cans outside the convention halls for scraps of food, poverty-stricken kids peddled trinkets to all of the folks from out-of-town, and people who couldn’t afford this months rent quizzically glanced at the gamers who seemed to frivolously heave money into their hobby. Inside, we may have all been brethren, united in the one cause of video games, but outside the divide between the rich gaming crowd and the poor inner city people couldn’t have been more palpable.

This is why that badge scanning moment would haunt me: because it validated the notion that I was there to escape into a rich paradise rather than focus on the issues of the world outside. So what do I do with all of this though? Sure, in an industry that’s wealthier than Hollywood, you would expect a few big bang events throughout the year, even if the money would most definitely be better spent if it went to inner city programs. But the wealth itself is certainly not the problem. We should never look at this excess as a bad thing, we just need to learn to use it responsibly.

Video games are an amazing hobby, career and creative canvass and as such they garner a huge level of respect and power. And while it’s been a blast to see the industry invest that force back into itself to develop into what it is today, it’s time for every gamer to start giving back instead of merely consuming. Every other medium of the 21st century be it paintings, radio, television, movies or the internet have found their own unique ways to call to light the pain of the world and propel a movement to address them. We, as a gaming industry, need to learn to do the same. Obviously a huge part of this will come through the games that are crafted by developers and demanded by the public, but it has to be more than that. The desire to be a force of healing change in the world has to work through our entire industry, from games to marketing to news coverage to retail outlets, if we are ever going to fully mature and be the industry that the world wants and needs us to be.

So like a moth to the flame I’m sure I’ll be drawn again and again to the bombastic festivities of gamedom. I’ll line up for just announced game demos, thrust my hands into the air to catch t-shirts, and stare dumbfounded at the sea of HDTV’s and marketing hoopla. But next time, instead of hoarding my pennies to pre-order one more game, maybe I’ll buy lunch for a few folks outside the convention hall. ‘Cause even though the sights and sounds of the convention can be amazing, it’s these people who are truly real.

(But at least if I still cave and end up buying 7 copies of Arkham City to get all of the Batman skins, there is something productive I can do with them when I’m done.)

Sex is Super

Everybody loves sex. But this beautiful thing is often outrageously taboo when it comes to either the church or video games. Both communities tend to shy away from talking about sex and the role that it plays in our lives. Sometimes games will throw in a steamy alien/human love scene or a bouncing car in an alleyway but for the better part its typically not addressed. The church tends to carry this a step further and either outright condemn any talk of it or its congregants coyly change the subject when it’s brought up.

But what if God really loves sex? I mean the guy made it for us for crying out loud so you’d think he’d intend for us to enjoy it. And if that’s the case then why don’t we ever talk about it? Well lucky for you, you’ll find an excerpt below of a paper I wrote which addresses this very question. And if you dig that then make sure you hit the link after the excerpt to get the full paper. Enjoy! (Oh, and while the paper may make you blush a bit, it’s definitely only rated PG13).

Sex is worship. That’s right, that scandalous, unspoken, sensual act actually glorifies the creator of the universe. While many Western, evangelical Christians may feel their faces flush at the mere mention of sex, it is a God given, God crafted act which has existed since the dawn of time. However, over the ages sex has been twisted, perverted and condemned by those both inside and outside of the church. The result is that it has been relegated to the recesses of our minds and sucked dry of its beautiful essence. For many, sex seems to only exist to fulfill our genetic or seedy desires, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The glorious dimension of sex, the first and foremost reason it was created, is bound up in its natural ability to glorify God. This ability to glorify is woven into our imago Dei and as we will see, sex is one of the most beautiful ways in which it is expressed.   

Research Paper – Sex as a Reflection of God



The last 5 months have been the best of my life. On October 20th at 7 pounds 1 ounce our baby boy Ronin Peter Ryan was born! The months before and the months since have shifted our lives in more beautiful and amazing ways than I could ever imagine and I’m left with a vast sense of awe at the majesty of God’s blessing in motion. It goes without saying that life has been insanely busy as my wife and I have fought to keep up with all of the change. However, in the midst of it all, I’ve found myself again and again coming back to one unique reflection. 

One sheep, two sheep…

I’ve been losing a little sleep lately. Over the last few months I’ve come to realize that my new son, Ronin is a lot like New York City: he has tons of personality but he never sleeps. However, the upside to infant induced insomnia is that I’ve had ample time to reflect on the overwhelming blessing of parenthood. Being a parent is somewhat like gaining a superpower, and I’m quickly learning that with great power must also come great responsibility. And while these responsibilities often manifest themselves in the privilege of seeing my young boy smile, squirm and coo, I’m also astutely aware that every superhero has a villain. For now this villain appears as intense gas, assaulting my little guy with gnarly poopy diapers and 4 am fussiness.

Over time however, this villain seems to grow more sophisticated and as children grow it develops new strategies for attack. Infant gas attacks morph into a myriad of insecurities and insufficiencies as a child grows, eventually developing into a full blown war by the time they are a teenager. By that time, most youth are besieged by the evolved tactics of this enemy as they struggle with deep issues of abandonment, loneliness, and fear of failure.

But there is hope.

The pain of the gas may indeed overwhelm my little guy, but that’s where I come in. As his daddy, I have been charged with the responsibility of defeating this foe and restoring joy and comfort to my boy. In the same vain, the villains of our youth are not without their vulnerabilities. However, these villains too can only be defeated through the power that comes with cooperate parenthood. Abandonment and insecurity can be conquered when we band together as parents for those children and youth within our midst. Deuteronomy 11 is a beautiful reflection of this as God reminds the Israelites of the ways in which he helped them to overcome various obstacles because he is their Father.

As the Lord points out starting in verse 5, ““Your children didn’t see how the Lord cared for you in the wilderness until you arrived here… But you have seen the Lord perform all these mighty deeds with your own eyes… So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine… Teach them to your children… so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.”

Three sheep, four sheep…

It’s been keeping me awake thinking of all of the foes out there in the world, lurking in the shadows, waiting to attack my son or the children of our community. But when they do, I will be prepared. God has given us the responsibility to care for children and youth by bringing us into the divine role of parents, but we have not been left without a tactic ourselves. With great power comes great responsibility, and the power that we have been given to vanquish these enemies is itself the power of the one true God. Our father in heaven guides us throughout our role as parents so that we may confidently conquer any villain which may strike at our children. Through his power we may have peace and, although it may not come with much sleep, we may rest in the notion that our father paves the way for us in our roles as parents.