Some unfinished business

Before I move into a new year of blogging, I thought I should finish my wrapping up posts from 2011. Sorry it’s so late everyone…..

So, my regrets from last year, and my hopes for the one ahead……

Looking back on 2011, there are a few things that I regret. Chief amongst these is the loss if contact with a few of the people that I had come to know so well through my online games – most of them moving on after no longer having the time or inclination to play, and a few that just kinda stopped plating without warning. With the games I’m playing, there isn’t a lot of ways to connect outside of the game (a few games use Skype for real time communication, but I don’t play those anymore – see previous post), so when someone leaves for any reason, more than 90% of the time there’s no way to keep in touch with them (not that I’m great at keeping in touch with friends to start with…..). Whenever someone leaves one of the games I play, I can’t help but think of all of the missed opportunities I had to talk about God with them (often ignoring the conversations I did have with them), and feel some guilt and helplessness when I realise that all I can do now is pray that God brings someone else into their life to build on whatever foundation that He laid through what I’ve said.

I also regret not posting here (and at the Digital Missions Blog) more often. I’ve had several different ideas for posts over the past year, and either haven’t been near a computer, or haven’t found enough time at a keyboard to finish the post, and don’t go back to it later (and then the half written post languishes in the drafts folder forever). I’m working through a couple of the more recent of the latter, but the rule with the way I write is generally – unless an idea really sticks in my mind, or is incredibly current in the wider world (or what passes for the various subcultures I consider myself part of), or I have someone pull me up and remind me that I was gonna write something  (Thanks Craig!) – once an idea has passed on from my mind, I’m not going to come back to it, and thus it will never get written. Hopefully I can be a bit more regular in posting on both of my blogs in 2012, but – as always – I make no promises about posting schedules.

So, enough of my regrets (at least, the ones that I can still remember weeks later), on to my hopes for the year…..

First things first, thanks to some mucking around with what my Bible College course needs, I’m finished with college (for now), and will be graduating with an Advanced Diploma of Ministry in early March. This is the end of a three year journey for me, and one that I’ve had a lot of fun with, but I am glad to have this chapter of my life behind me for a lot of reasons (which I won’t go into here, cause this post is getting a little long…….). I’m also hoping to get an Electrical Apprenticeship soon (which again, I won’t talk  much about here, it’s sort of outside the scope of what I see this blog as), it’s something that feels right for me, and I know that it’s where God wants me to be for at least the next 4-5 years of my life.

There are some big things for this year – things that I’ve been thinking about for ages that finally feel right; and things that I’ve never thought about before, but I’m thinking about them now, and I know I’m thinking about them for a reason. Some of them I don’t want to talk about (cause they’re either more personal than I want to talk about, or they’re just unfinished thoughts that would end up with me rambling), and some of them aren’t ready to be talked about (either the wrong time, or more unfinished thought rambling), but I will keep you posted on some of my ideas as they progress……

So that’s my wrapping up on 2011……again, sorry it’s all so late. I look forward to seeing what I’m going to write in 2012 (hopefully finishing up on some of those drafts to start with, but I never know…..), and I hope that you all enjoy reading/commenting.

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Wrapping up a year

2011 is coming to a close, and with the end of a new year comes a bit of a retrospective period for me…..I’m looking back and remembering the joys and regrets of the past year, and making plans for the year to come. Time permitting, next week I’ll try and post more about some of the regrets and thoughts about the future, but since it is Christmas (which my personal thoughts on would be another post in itself – next year maybe…)*, which is meant to be the time of the year to consider a variety of joyful occurrences, I’ll post more about the joys of the past year.

Over the course of 2011, I’ve come to know more about me through a variety of different things – some of which I’ve shared with you guys, some of which I haven’t – knowing more about myself (where I’ve come from [and how my past has shaped me to be the person I am now], where I could be going [and hope to be going] in the future, and more about who I am at a more general level), and knowing more about God (through college [as always], but also just through my interactions with Scripture, with others, and with the world around me [a lot of which was shared here]).

Over the course of 2011, I also once again started playing both Tribal Wars (which I’ve talked about here), and The West (a different game by the same company), both with the intention of being a light to the communities that form within those games. I had some ups and downs with this (which I talked about here), eventually stopping playing Tribal Wars because logging on became something I dreaded (along with the realization that it had been a while since I had actually talked to someone in game cause I couldn’t become stable enough [i.e. successful enough or lucky enough to not be taken out immediately] on any of the worlds I was playing). On The West, however, I’ve been thriving as a part of a group of towns, many of which are really great people, whom I enjoy spending time with – and whom I look forward to spending more time talking to over the coming (insert unknown period of time here – unlike Tribal Wars, The West is much slower paced).

I’ve also become more acquainted with the wider online community (which I maintain exists, it’s just outside of social networking), mostly through following blogs (a few of which can be found in the links on the side), and it’s been encouraging to find more Christians out there doing the same sort of stuff that I am, and a few doing different things along the same theme, and some doing things that are completely different that I love to read about. It’s been great to interact and dialogue with a few of them over the year, and I hope to continue to talk to these guys, and discover even more people over the coming year. I suggest you give them a look, and I’ll be sure to add anything else I find to my links box….

There’s not much more that I can really say…..many of the other joys that I’ve experienced over the year have been intensely personal, or are very hard to describe in words, or would be simply repeating my old posts (which, if I may say so myself, are well written and should be read by all of you). If I have time in the busy week between Christmas and New Year (read, can get to and use a computer for any significant length of time), I’ll post more about my sorrows and regrets, before looking at what I could see happening in 2012 in early January….

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Fr33Lanc3r

*If you ever want to know, you may need to hold me to that…….and not let me try and get out of it……

An Announcement

So I have an announcement to make, which was hinted at in my last post……it’s a little exciting, a little daunting (to me at least), and I feel that it’s an important step on the path of where God is leading my life…….So here goes.

I’ve started a second blog, dedicated to sharing about the ins and outs of Digital Missions – rather inventively named the ‘Digital Missions Blog‘. This is something that’s been stirring for a while, particularly since this blog has moved away a lot from what I originally wanted it to be and still want it to be – a place for me to share my more intellectual struggles with what I’m learning, and what’s going on in the world around me – and turned into a place where I’m sharing more and more about what I’m doing as a self-described Digital Missionary – which I don’t feel that this blog is suited to being. So this blog will move back into being a space where I talk about the issues that I’m wrestling with (in all their random goodness), and the new blog will be a place to share about what’s been going on particularly in my experience of digital mission, and to talk about the principles behind digital mission in depth. Also, it is my hope that the Digital Missions Blog will turn out to be something that is more than my own endeavor – I’m hoping and praying that others wrestling with the same questions will find it, and contribute to discussions (and start some, I won’t turn away other authors if they are genuinely interested in writing something useful and relevant, something that everyone can benefit from).

Also, I’m looking into starting a forum with the same sort of idea in mind – a place where people involved in Evangelism/Mission online can get together, encourage one another, and share what’s happening in their lives and ministries. I’m still looking into options here and praying about whether this is the right thing to do, but I’ll let you know when there’s something more concrete. Also, if you know of a good, free, forum provider that doesn’t require a private server, let me know.

A Clarity of Calling

The past few weeks have been pretty tough for me. Between trying to get assignments started and the various little things that pull on my time, I’ve found that I’m staying up later, waking up earlier and generally just trying to get through day-by-day. But in the midst of all this, I want to share with you the events that have happened over the weekend just gone (25th-28th August). Over the Friday and Saturday, the Revive Conference was on – many of the workshops and main events of which I found insightful, challenging and moving. There isn’t much else to say on that – I’m still processing a lot of what I saw and heard there. However, after heading home on Saturday, I went to watch the new video from the ‘Extra Credits’ team (I’ve mentioned them before – but they’ve moved, so there’s  a new link).

What I watched broke my heart. The last two weeks they’ve done episodes about Game Compulsion/Addiction. The first episode addressed the hype, and some of the issues surrounding children being completely focused on games – and they raised some really good points. The second was more challenging. In a 20 minute – two part video, one of the team shared his personal struggle with game Compulsion during High School. He spoke about in general how High Schools are often only accepting a certain type of person, and video games are often a place where the traits that aren’t accepted in High School are encouraged. There is a massively personal journey that he went through, but I won’t detail it here (watch the videos!!). I will say that it brought back aspects of my story – which goes deeper than game compulsion, but game compulsion certainly played a role in my life just a few short years ago. I won’t write it out again, but I’ve posted it on their forums – here.

His story turned out to be a happy one – life welcomed him back, he managed to break away from games, and has used the skills that he learnt while playing the games that used to be the focus of his life. But not everyone’s story end that way – he shared that his best friend from that period of his life never managed to pull away from games – whenever life offered him opportunities, whenever something got too hard he ran straight back to games, afraid that life would reject him again. This idea, this knowledge that there are people out there that life has just dumped on, who are turning to games to fill the void in their lives broke me. I teared up while watching those videos (and now as I’m writing them I’m tearing up again), and eventually broke down and cried while praying at Church on Sunday night. I wept for everyone who has ever been in that situation, and for the people who are currently wrestling with those demons. And I wept because for the first time since I started college I felt a complete clarity about where God was leading me. I am called to be a missionary to the world of online games, and I am called to minister to the broken people that cannot escape from them. I don’t know what it’ll look like, or the path that I’ll be walking along the way, but I know that this is my calling, and that God will never leave nor forsake me while I walk with him.

Ministry Woes

I’m going through a tough stretch with my ministry on Tribal Wars. Most of it isn’t anything I can control, but I want to sit and talk about it anyway, so here I am.

For a long time, the tribe I was a part of had been in a cold war with a much bigger tribe – they occasionally took some villages from us, we took a couple from them, status quo mostly returned, etc – and a week ago they decided that they were in a position to wipe us out once and for all. The end result of this was the breakup of the tribe, and because of this I’ve lost contact with a lot of the friends that I had made there. I’m not sure where I’m going with that ‘world’ now, as I can either restart it and build everything back up in a new tribe, or quit that ‘world’ and start on a fresh one.

Partly linked to the second option, I’ve started up a tribe on the newest ‘world’ (less that 24 hours old at time of writing) with my little brother – who’s also had a lot of experience on Tribal Wars. This is something new, since I’ve never joined a brand new world with running a tribe in mind. We don’t have many members yet, but we’re kind of on the fringe in a well populated area, so I’m hoping we’ll grow. It’s been an interesting day setting everything up and discussing with the third member of the tribe – who’s American – and I’m hoping some time soon I can report something about what’s happening there.

Still not sure about what I’m doing with the first world though, I might start over in a different area of the world with a new group of people, feel free to suggest ideas, and I’ll keep you posted about that too.

Cheers,

Fr33

catching up

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted, life’s been a bit hectic lately – so once again we have a (possibly long) catch-up post. Here goes…..

I’ve gotten involved again this year with the online game Tribal Wars – something that forces beyond my control (such as my brother completely using the download limit in a day early in December) caused me to quit at the end of last year. It’s been great getting involved again, and ministry wise I’ve learnt a lot from the mistakes I had made the last time I played. So I’m not involved in running the tribe I am a part of, and I’m once again simply putting out an offer to talk to, and pray for the other people who are in the tribe. The response so far has been interesting – the first time I posted the offer there were over 200 replies to the forum post within a couple of days (an impressive feat – as people who are connected with forums of any sort would know). While most of these replies were people trying to bait me into saying something rash, there were some genuine questions about what I believed, and a few of the other Christians in the tribe joined in, and were encouraged to come to the defense of both me, and the faith that we share – which is encouraging in itself. I’ve also had several people – Christian and Non-Christian, take me up on the offer to just talk (about all sorts of things, from serious things, to a random swapping of jokes), and the offer to pray for specific issues that they are going through. From a gaming perspective, the world that I have joined this time around is a ‘trial’ world that removes one of the major strategies that players use (the ability to loot and take resources from other people’s villages) – which has caused the world to be much slower, and to be more politically focused (since wars are now harder to win). This has been perfect for my playing style, since I was never very good at ‘farming’ (as the looting of other villages is called), and (while I get sick of the sheer under-handedness of the politics sometimes) there is always a lot to catch up on when I log back in of a morning, and there are very few dull moments when the politics does get into full swing.

Another thing that’s happened recently is that I’ve picked up a new series of games – a series of role playing games (i.e. I take control of a character, chose what path they take – what weapons they use, what choices they make, etc) called the ‘Fable’ series. This series is famous (in the circles of those who like games like this) for offering the player a lot of choices – i.e. your character can buy up real estate (pretty much every house, shop, tavern and landmark is for sale), take jobs doing various things (hammering swords, chopping wood, bartending, etc), take on a variety of side quests (in addition to the main storyline), and marry Non-player Characters (starting a family, which offers some small benefits to the player – for example, they will randomly buy you gifts if you keep them happy) – and I have been having a ball playing through the series (so far – I’m partway through the second game cause my brother gets upset if I get further along the story than he is). However, I have noticed something that says quite a few things about myself while I’ve been playing through these games (particularly the second one). I’m starting to feel guilty – personally – when I direct my character to take an ‘evil’ action (not whenever I do something that the game considers evil – i.e. eating food that has had animals harmed during it’s production [still not sure why that’s evil] – but when my character accidently broke down someone’s door [cause I pressed the wrong button trying to knock], I felt bad). It’s even at the point where I’m having issues with the way my brothers play the game (as two of them are currently trying to be the evilest person the game will let them be – to the point where they gun down random NPC’s in the streets), cause they shouldn’t be thinking like that. I’ve got a feeling that this might be some sort of outward sign of the change that God’s working in my life – but I’m not sure. I’ll think about it some more and get back to you – and hopefully have a few more implications of this to share with you.

Finally, I found an interesting article that links back to some of the stuff that I’ve said earlier, and you have no idea how encouraging I found it. There’s not much else to say on the subject that I haven’t already said, or isn’t covered in the article (which I encourage you all to read), other than I hope to one day be able to attend (or help out at) CGDC (Christian Game Developers Conference – the conference in question).

So thanks for reading another long post – there’s been a bit of catching up to do – and hopefully I’ll be able to post more regularly for at least the near future, so this shouldn’t be necessary until at least the next time I have several assignments and exams due in a short period of time.

Cheers,

Fr33

My Life

I know that I haven’t posted anything for a while (but let’s face it, I have never promised regular updates!), but I wanted you all to know some of what is going on in my life right now, and get some of the thoughts swirling through my head written down somewhere.

Recently, I’ve started a ministry on the browser game ‘Tribal Wars’. There is a long history behind this decision, so bear with me for a moment…. For some time now I’ve wanted to get involved with the online gaming community and be a presence there. I’d had some experience playing online through Steam, and had forged some friendships within the heat to online combat. There were several barriers to this, many of which have not yet been overcome (things like a computer with which to play these games – I’d been using my brothers computer before and he was starting to get possessive – and my own internet connection over which to play – cause my parents were getting annoyed at the data usage). I’ve been praying for most of the year that God would open the way for these barriers to disappear, but they didn’t – and I grew increasingly discouraged. This came to the forefront again when I started my evangelism class at college, and I was told that one of my assignments would require 20 hours of ‘evangelism’ (with 5 of those being directly telling people about Jesus), and I began praying anew for these barriers to be taken away, since this was where I was convinced that my heart lay.

Out of these prayers came the prompting to rejoin ‘Tribal Wars’ (which I’d been playing on and off for about three years, and had given up ‘for good’ in early January), with the intention of being a light within that server, and particularly, the tribe that I joined as part of the game. So far it’s been a blast getting back into the game with a new focus, and the tribe that I joined is particularly friendly and a good platform for making connections and hopefully telling people about Jesus. I’ve been honest with the tribe about the fact that I’m a Christian (and a Bible college student), and have started offering to pray for people, and I’m praying that there will be something that comes of that. One thought that has come to mind recently has been ‘I’ve dreamed about being a light to Australian online gamers for so long, and God has opened up the whole world (with members of the tribe coming from America, Scotland, Germany, Tibet, and many other places)!’ So even if a ministry on Tribal Wars is much smaller in terms of computing power and interactivity (to a degree), I am content to serve God wherever He puts me.

Also, today has been a particularly good day for me. We had a farewell lunch for someone from my church who has had a particularly strong influence on me over the past few years (which isn’t a very good thing in itself, although I’m happy for the future potential he has as a pastor that the Church he’s moving to), and it was nice to let him know how much his pastoring and mentoring has meant to me (as I said at the event, he approached a shy, unsure 17-year-old (me at the time), and asked if I would like to join the Youth Ministry team – saying that he saw leadership potential that I had never seen. From there, I have started Bible College, begun preaching at Church, and am walking closer with God than I ever have, which is an enormous change that was sparked by that one event.), and the affirmation that I recieved from him concerning everything that I have been doing over the past two years touched my heart.

Also, within my growing ministry on Tribal Wars, today I discovered another Christian within my tribe (going by the screenname gaditewarrior), who is jumping onboard with the prayer ministry, which has encouraged me greatly, and feels like a silent affirmation that I’ve been doing something right.

So that’s the current state of my life at the moment (aside from mentioning the mass of assignments I’ve got to get done before the end of semester – but let’s focus on happy things for a while) I want to ask you to pray for my ministry on Tribal Wars, pray that the relationships that I’m forming would be as deep as possible, and that the other people within my tribe would be receptive to what I have to say. And please pray that I would be learning from any mistakes that I make quickly, and that God would continue to raise up workers for this harvest, because it seems to be relatively untended ground.