Mastering the Details

Nerds get caught up in minutiae, because there is a tremendous and fulfilling sense of control in understanding every single detail of a thing more than any other living creature.” –Chris Hardwick

It’s kind of cool to be the expert on something. To have an intimate and exhaustive knowledge that is translated from your passion on a subject is one of the purest definitions of being a geek. I know that every time a Marvel movie comes out, I will have friends texting me or coming up to me at church saying “Please explain the post credits scene to me,” and I am always happy to oblige. I know a lot about comic books. People know that I know a lot about comic books. It’s just the information ecosystem I live in. I know video games… in fact, while I sit writing this my son came to me asking how to solve a puzzle in the Super Nintendo game A Link to the Past. My expertise on these things is a matter of record, and although occasionally I get more credit than I deserve, sometimes I even surprise myself on the amount of (worthless?) knowledge I have retained.

I would hope that as a believer, however, I demonstrate more than just nerdy knowledge, video game codes and Pokemon names. I want to know God’s Word and make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I want to know the person of Jesus so that I can emulate Him in my words and my deeds. I would hope that I also demonstrate my fair share of the fruits of the Spirit. My goal as an ambassador of Jesus Christ is that when those around me are perplexed, I might be an example of peace. When they feel frustrated, I might be an inspiration for patience. When people see in this world cruelty, they might see in my life and the lives of other believers love, kindness and goodness.

Our function as Christians is to master the details of Christ-like living. When those around us have questions I want to be prepared with an answer, gently given and faithfully lived. It’s easy to label yourself a Christ follower, but going to church once a week doesn’t make you an expert any more than those who saw Avengers once in the theater are comic book nerds. It takes time, effort, and application. It takes living it out. It takes being a true believer. When you do those things, those around you will see, and when they are in need of someone to show them the way, they’ll know who to call. It’s on us to be ready, in season and out of season.

Never Go THAT Way

I have to admit, this has been a very tough week. My wife and I have been staying at my mom’s house the past few days due to a broken AC in our home (during the hottest part of the summer, because why not?) We’ve also had other drama happening, the details of which I will spare you, but that cumulatively have resulted in a frustrating and discouraging season for us. Then this morning I opened the closet in my sister’s old room where we’ve been sleeping, and something fell on me.

It was a worm.

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To those in the know you will recognize this as the worm from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, one of my all time favorite movies, of which my sisters and I have fond memories. I bought this plush worm for my youngest sister Jamie for her birthday several years ago. As I picked him up from the closet floor, I replayed his scene in in my mind. If you have never seen the film, Sarah (Jennifer Connoly) is trying to rescue her kidnapped baby brother. To recover him, she must reach the castle of Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie) at the center of the titular labyrinth. Here is their interaction:

The worm, while trying to help Sarah on her way, unwittingly sent her on a far more arduous path than was necessary. While showing her a way our of his corridor, he failed to show her the easiest way, the way that would have led her “straight to that castle.” Had she realized the fullness of her options, the movie would have been much shorter, but Sarah would not have had the opportunity to grow as a character or to impact others along the way. Allow me to elaborate.

It was while on the more difficult path she rescued Ludo, the beast, who was being tortured by goblins. In her struggle she helped the Quixotic Sir Didymus, a fox-terrier with delusions of knighthood, find his inner hero. Finally it was in peril that she redeemed Hoggle, the dwarfen betrayer who saw in himself nothing of worth beyond a few plastic trinkets. Ultimately, the hard road finds Sarah transformed from self-centered to self-aware. It was the longer, more difficult version of the journey that impressed upon her to stop taking things for granted, not to be so consumed with material possessions, and to see value in others.

As I placed the plush worm back on his shelf, I began to relate this fairy tale to my own story. I was feeling overcome by self-pity due to unfavorable circumstances, and my attitude and actions were beginning to show it. While I wished things were going easier for me this week, that the right answers would be clearer, the resources more abundant, I still made a choice to let the resistance I was experiencing overshadow my hope. In walking by feelings and not by faith I allowed myself to be blinded to the God-given potential in my season of difficulty. The worm reminded me that adventure is never on the road that goes straight to the castle. [Tweet This] Sometimes there is an easy way that is good TO us and there is a difficult way that is good FOR us. If I am on that more trying path, I wonder what God will teach me on the way, who’s life I can impact before reaching the center of this labyrinth.

May we remember every day, especially in our struggle, that the treasure that comes without cost can never truly be more than a trinket. [Tweet This]

Talking During the Movie

Coming soon, NOGcast goes to the movies! We’ll be releasing an episode where we watch a movie together and do a running commentary of what we see and think of what’s happening on screen. For which nerdy movie would you like us to do a special commentary episode?
Let us know in the comments or on social media. 

Youth Camp Live!

We’re excited to be featured at the Florida Youth Camp this summer. Their theme is HERO ZERO, and Tony T will be broadcasting daily from the camp, the the whole crew will be there for an appearance when they conclude the week with a COMIC-CON right there in the camp. Pray for this to be a life-changing week for all the students and leaders involved.

2016 Florida Youth Camp "Hero Zero" Official Promo from Justin Stewart on Vimeo.

The Hunger Gnaws

I was talking with a friend of mine named Christian today. He travels a lot and spends much of his time overseas, so I always enjoy catching up with him. He is truly one of the smartest and funniest people I know and a genuine pleasure to be around. As we were chatting he mentioned that he’d been listening to and enjoying our podcast, which is a huge honor to me because when someone so creative gives you a nod you’re all like, “yeah, that’s what’s up,” but inside you’re like…84238-jon-stewart-im-totally-fangirl-eaol

To give you context, Christian does a very successful show on Youtube called STREETFOOD, where he travels around China and Asia and eats strange and exotic foods available from street vendors. It’s a brilliant show and supremely entertaining, so for him to mention the little old Nerd of God.cast seems like a pretty big honor. I brought up that our show, unlike his, never makes anyone feel hungry, to which he responded, “You guys talk about Wawa more than you might realize.”
And you know what? He’s right.

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So Wawa… here’s the deal. We’re giving you all the love in the world, I think it’s high time you love us back. Sponsor us. Cater for us. Hook us up with some free soup. Something. Because we’ve done our part, and the people have recognized it. It’s time you do, too. We’ll still be there. We’ll still be purchasing and consuming your fine victuals… but this relationship cries out to be more than one-sided. Let’s take this thing to the next level.

Your move, Wawa.

Game Time

I’ve really been into table top gaming lately… I have always loved board game night, playing family favorites like Apples to Apples and Scrabble every time the family got together. As our groups official #AmbassadorOfFun I would always be on the lookout for great party games to share. We diversified into some console based party games like NintendoLand, Johann Sebastian Joust and Rock Band, and even some smartphone based fun like Heads Up, but playing around the table just seemed like the perfect fit for our brand of get-togethers.

We started several years back playing Hero Clix and Zombies, later discovering games like Munchkin and its multitude of spin off games. We were always nervous about getting games that were too involved or heavy laden with rules, because as you have new friends come over you don’t want them to have to take a correspondence course to understand the basic mechanics of game play. Our sweet spot became something that was unique, fun, and most of all simple to learn.

Tsuro (and Tsuro of the Seas) is easy enough to pick up and play and it stays fun and fresh. iKnow is sleek and engaging (although trivia games are a tough sell in my house.) One of our personal favorites is a game called Dixit, which is a card based game similar to Apples to Apples but with amazing artwork on the cards in place of words.

We recently picked up a game called Love Letter which became a fast favorite (every time we get together at least one person asks to play.) Superfight is another game that holds a ton of fun, but it does require skill and quick thinking, as well as some amount of pre-installed knowledge of the subject matter, so it’s good fun with the right group of friends. I got King of Tokyo for Christmas, which is fun and fairly simple to play (it’s basically Yahtzee meets as Saturday afternoon monster flick.) I also got the Portal 2 Uncooperative Cake Acquisition game, which we haven’t played all the way through yet, but I’m a geek for the subject material so I’m already in love.

Table Top gaming can be a pricey endeavor, with many of these games costing upward of $50 or more. In my experience however, you’re getting a quality made, usually beautifully crafted product that will provide hours of fun for you and your friends. There is a lot of fun to be had and it’s nice to sit around a table, looking at one another, laughing and making great memories. So next time you feel like getting your game on, maybe turn off the XBox and open up the game box.
I’ve linked to my favorite games, share some of yours in the comments.

Where Christ Culture meets Nerd Culture