Month: February 2016 (Page 2 of 2)

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Stupid.  Fat.  Stuck up.  Junior Highers.  Awkward.  Not fun.  Ugly.  Senior Highers.

Don’t look at me. I’m not saying these things. They are. And they’re saying these things when they describe themselves.3898591046_de92b6281f_o

This past weekend I had the honor of helping to lead 115 teenagers and adult staff in worship at the Free Methodist Pittsburgh Conference’s Winter Weekend 2016. God made some big things happen through little people and events. It was awesome.

On Saturday afternoon, the students had breakout sessions where they were able to meet in small groups and dig deeper into the theme of the week, “Custom Made,”  which was pulled from Colossians 3:9-11.

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Depth of Hip-Hop, Part One: “Red Pills”


I don’t know how I started listening to Beleaf, but I know it changed my life. As I suffered through health issues in 2014, I was seeking God’s help in a lot of different areas, and one of the biggest ways I found Him was through Christian music, specifically hip-hop. While I had been mildly interested in the genre prior to that time, I was mostly limited to top-tier secular artists. I knew Lecrae, Da T.R.U.T.H., Trip Lee, and some of the other big CHH artists, but they weren’t getting regular plays on my iTunes account.

Interestingly, one of my favorite albums as a kid was Ill Harmonics’ Take Two. I can’t say for sure that there is any connection between my love for that 2002 smash hit and Red Pills, it’s at least funny to think about. Still, since that album and a few listens to John Reuben’s bigger hits, my interest in CHH was arguably non-existent.

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Perplexing Peace

I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

John 14:27

It hasn’t been an easy decision to determine what I wanted to share this week. I have a lot of things that I am learning and wanting to express, but there has been an overarching theme in everything: Peace. This is why I chose to share that verse from the book of John.

Let’s all be honest, life is crazy, and it’s tough to navigate through it. It’s not always easy. In fact, a lot of the time it’s actually really difficult. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, and it’s definitely not a Disney movie. It is more like a roller coaster, and we can often feel like a human yo-yo. We’ve all had our fair share of moments where we wonder when there is going to be calm so we can breathe again.

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For Beta or Worse

Producing a modern video game is no easy task. Games are no longer developed by three guys in a basement; they require thousands of uniquely talented individuals, all working in tandem to create one unified project. A blockbuster game can have a budget in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars, an entertainment allowance previously reserved only for Hollywood. Another thing that’s new to modern gaming are game experiences that connect thousands of people in one persistent gaming world, requiring extremely sophisticated online infrastructure and networking know-how. With all these moving pieces, it’s more difficult than ever to ensure that a game is ready for the public’s consumption.

Ubisoft's The Division was announced at E3 2013 and will finally be released on March 8

Ubisoft’s The Division was announced at E3 2013 and will finally be released on March 8

Because of this, game developers have turned to something known as a “beta” test, which lets a select group of individuals test out a game before release. This is a sensible move for a lot of reasons, but it’s starting to cause some disturbing trends that are ultimately hurting gamers. I’d like to delve into how beta tests have changed over the years, and why I believe it’s turning into more of a marketing ploy than an earnest desire to improve the final product.

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The Depth of Hip-Hop: An Exploration of Red Pills + Black Sugar

Anyone who spends time with me regularly knows about my love for Christian hip-hop. Spend a little more than the normal amount of time with me, and you learn of my affinity for Beleaf Melanin’s 2014 full-length debut, Red Pills + Black Sugar. It wasn’t a chart-topping album, and I’m willing to forgive you for letting it slip under your musical radar.final_cover-1600x1600

As I was riding in the car last night and listening to Manafest’s most recent album, Reborn, I was reminded of the impact that Red Pills had on me when I first listened to it. The raw, emotional style that Beleaf showed on a lot of the tracks really struck me. I knew so little of Beleaf’s life, but I felt a type of connection that I had missed from music in recent years. That album, much like Underoath’s Lost in the Sound of Separation, helped me through a difficult period of my life, and I can’t imagine not having heard it.

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When Grace Becomes Gauche

Photo by Daniel Ramirez

“Grace?  She died thirty years ago!”

If you’re not sure where that phrase comes from, set aside an evening during the 2016 Christmas Season.  You and I have plans. 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one of my favorite holiday movies, second only to A Garfield Christmas.

Why am I beginning this post with a quote from a movie that many consider to be, let’s say, unedifying? Because miraculously, Grace didn’t die thirty years ago. She’s still alive – barely.

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Cold Lamb Sandwiches

A week ago my employer sent out an email that would make anyone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder shudder. Our “Diversity and Inclusion” tip of the day was to “Sweat the small stuff.” This, at first read, felt like insanity. If I were to spend my time sweating the small stuff I would blow my entire budget on deodorant. I’m already a compulsive worrier – Photo by torbakhopperI didn’t need to be told to worry more.

But after my initial reaction, it caused me to reflect on how I think about the small stuff. In my experience, it is often the small stuff that I love about those I am in relationships with and miss about those I am separated from (either by distance or by the ending of the relationship).  The inside joke, the strange greeting, or just the timbre the conversation takes on between certain people.

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