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Bite Size: 31 Days Of Devotions

This features the first 31 devotionals of 101 found in Faith & Fandom Bite Size

Suggested route:

*Read a devotional 

*Read the entire chapter of Scripture referenced in the devotional 

*Take notes 





One of my favorite things about the movie The Batman is the performance of Colin Farrell as The Penguin. The Penguin is not my favorite character or anything, but Colin Farrell did a seriously gangster job being an awkward gangster. Colin Farrell's got a past involving superhero movies. Bullseye wasn't the best representation, but Colin just did such a good job with this. It was impressive. If you would have told me The Penguin was going to be that cool and well done, I just wouldn't have believed it. One of my favorite things about the whole experience was that, after my kids and I watched the movie, and I showed them what Colin Farrell normally looks and sounds like, they were like, “That's not possible.” They couldn’t understand how this is this the same person. I explained to them prosthetics, vocal coaches, dialogue training, stuff like that, but they said he was a totally different person.  

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” - Ephesians 4:22-24 

When Colin Farrell put on this new version of himself, people couldn't identify him anymore. In fact, Jeffrey Wright (who plays Commissioner Gordon) didn't realize that's who he was in front of for a noticeable amount of time. There's an interview about it where he was just straight up confused; he didn't think that that it was Colin Farrell. When we are actually living out our lives the way God calls us to, we should be such new creations that if people looked at our old, dark selves that they would not even recognize us now, because we have put on something new. 



For the past two weeks, my youth group has been playing a live-action version of the game Among Us. I'll be doing administrative stuff in the building, and I'll hear a flock of running preteens scream, “Emergency meeting!” as they fly past the door. I'll see a kid come around a corner screaming “Dead body!”, which, you know, is not something you ever really get used to when you work in a church building. It's ok though; they have a great time. They walk around making side eyes at each other saying “You're SUS!” It's fun, it's dumb, it's a good coming-together activity for them, and I'm really grateful for it. I've never actually played the game. I've downloaded it, but my life isn't in the place right now where I've got time to play online games on my phone other than Pokémon Go. One of the things that really stood out to me about this though, is the fact that this is something we actually deal with in the Christian Church on a regular basis – the fact that there are people among us believers but who are actually impostors. Sometimes impostors are people who are intentionally deceiving others, and sometimes impostors are people that are just straight up deceiving themselves. The reality is, we need to be cautious of how we respond to others and actively look for the fruit in their lives. We cannot just trust the label they present. 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ - Matthew 7:21-23 

The fact is, there are people who think they are where they belong in their relationship with God, and they're not. I can say for a fact that I have done major damage in my life by trusting people who I thought were believers simply because they used the title “Christian.” I put myself in bad situations. I've been hurt. I've been wounded. What I can tell you is this: we need to not only use discernment, but we need to make sure we are living out our faith in our lives so that we're not imposters ourselves.  


3. (This one was originally written in the middle of the pandemic.) 

If you've heard anything from me lately, you know that ComiCons aren't exactly happening on a normal scale and schedule. It's almost like there's an apocalypse happening out there. This past weekend, I was able to be part of an event, an outdoor ComiCon that took place in a pseudo-abandoned movie theater parking lot, in which like 30 or 40 vendors and comic book artists sat up tables outside for maybe 9 hours. Roughly 300 people came through and participated in this event, and that's kind of a big difference between being in a convention center with 30,000 people. It was still a ComiCon, but people were like, “Is this actually a ComiCon?” “Is this a yard sale?” “Is this a flea market?” “What exactly is happening?” To be honest, it didn’t look like what we're used to. It didn’t look like what we're comfortable with or happy with in the geek/ComiCon world. It was still nice to be able to be out there with people and to talk about my books and to be able to minister to other artists and vendors. It was different, but it was good. As a pastor, this is something I'm seeing on a weekly basis. Our churches are doing different things. Some people still aren't meeting in buildings; my church is meeting with allowances for social distancing. People are doing different things across the board, and I've talked to other pastors who are incredibly depressed because church doesn't look like what it looked like months ago.  

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” - Matthew 18:20 

The important thing is that our world doesn't look like it did nine months ago. Our churches won't look like they did nine months ago. If we're waiting for things to look like they did, we'll never make any forward progress. What we do need to understand is things can change. Things will be different. What matters is that the people of God unite together and know that when we do, Jesus is with us.  



Nobody likes being the target of an attack. Nobody likes being called out for what they have done. People also really don't like being called out for what they haven't done. Part of our sinful human nature is that we attack other people, even when we're guilty ourselves. One of the easiest ways to build ourselves up is by tearing other people down. That's ugly, but it's how the world works. A little while ago, Chris Pratt found himself as the verbal target of many people's attacks and assault on his character, his previous marriage, his church, and more. The world was very vocal about it, and one of the things that I found most encouraging during that time is that Robert Downey, Jr. used his voice to speak up for Chris. On Robert Downey Jr.'s Instagram, he posted, 

“What a world... The “sinless” are casting stones at my #brother Chris Pratt... a real #Christian.” 

The quote goes on further, but what stood out to me is that Robert Downey, Jr. chose to use his voice to speak up for Chris when he was being attacked. The opening statement, how he described Chris, that he was a real Christian – now, with Robert Downey Jr., if you're as old as I am, you remember times and seasons when he was in trouble, and he was under attack and for things that he actually did and was guilty of. That's the thing – we have to be able to live our lives so that we can rise above the attacks. 

"Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:16 

We're always going to be the subject of attack, no matter what we do. The only true defense against those types of attacks is to actually live your life in a way that people clearly see the Jesus in you, your words, your actions, and your attitude.  




So, I've been a DJ on the side for a while now. Over the last couple of years, it's become an honest-to-goodness business and I've enjoyed growing in that capacity. I was scheduled to DJ a wedding on Saturday October 31st  – Halloween. I was all good to go, was prepared for that, and then, a couple days before the ceremony, the bride hit me up and asked if I could create a mash-up of the Michael Myers Halloween theme with the Wagner Wedding March, you know, “Here Comes the Bride”. I didn't ask any questions. She's the bride; she gets what she wants, I thought, so I engineered that. It starts out with like 20 or 30 seconds of the Halloween theme and then just kind of effortlessly blended right into “Here Comes the Bride”. I loved it. She loved it. Fast forward to the day of the wedding. I was a big open-field wedding, and they had put up some barn doors to kind of block her from view. I was playing some instrumental love songs before it was time for her to come down, and then, all of a sudden, when it was time, they heard the whole Michael Myers theme and people were like - just super confused. Then when they heard it just slide into the bridal march, more, visible confusion is everywhere. There were a lot of faces and expressions that easily said ,“This isn't how I would do it,” or “I can't believe she's doing it this way,” or “Why would she want that?”, but the deal is, it wasn’t about any of them. It was about the bride and what she wanted. That really reminded me: a lot of times we want to give God what we want to give him instead of what he actually asks for.  

Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” - Amos 5:23-24 

We tend to just want to give God songs, tithes, and attendance. God wants righteousness for our lives. It's his event. It's his universe. He gets to pick what gets played.  



I'm not a fan of conflict. I'm not a fan of arguments. The times we live in right now are chock-full of them. There was a season of my life where I was a screenwriter for an online show called Fanboy Faceoff. On Fanboy Faceoff, it was my job, every episode, to write a script for the two hosts, who would be arguing about who would win in a fight between two different superheroes, villains, or comic book characters. I wrote the argument for both sides, and I would literally spend time figuring out ways to write an argument with myself. It did get confusing sometimes, but I would ride it. The hosts would read the arguments, their scripts, and then the audience would vote online to say who won in the battle. There would be a clear winner. “Hey, these two arguments proved a point, and now we've reached a conclusion and here's the conclusion.” Then, we moved on to the next episode. Life rarely works that smoothly when it comes to actually arguing with and dealing with other people. Right now, you can't throw a stick on the Internet without getting into an argument. Let me tell you something: you don't have to engage, and you don't have to prove everyone wrong. The world is not hinging on you single-handedly dissolving every conflict and argument you stumble across.  

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” - 2 Timothy 2:23-24 

Y'all, God straight up tells us to know our role and shut our mouths – to stop getting into all these arguments because we're not going to “win” anything. We're not going to change the world by arguments, but, through kindness, the love of God, and our example, we actually can do something.  



This weekend, the nerdy world was abuzz! Fans of Star Wars lost their ever-loving minds at the name drop of a couple big Star Wars characters on the most recent episode of The Mandalorian: Season Two. Friday, you could hear people losing their collective Kyber crystals all around the world. There was screaming, jumping, yelling, throwing, and all of that was literally just me in my living room. I have no idea what other people were doing, but I know that there was a big reaction because the names being dropped (Bo Katan, Ahsoka Tano) meant a lot to people who were fans of those characters. The simple fact that the names were mentioned was enough to create joy, excitement, hope and all these other good feelings, because those names carried power and those names carried a strong positive association. There are plenty of people, though, who had no idea who those characters were, and so those names literally meant nothing to them. My day actually started out that Friday morning by getting texts of, “Who is this person?” and spoiling one of their reveals. I gave some grace in that situation, but the reality is, our names alone carry an association. It's our responsibility that our names point to who Jesus is and God is. There's this cool circumstance in Acts 19:13-16 where some people were trying to cast out demons using Jesus’ name but they didn't actually know Jesus, and I love it because one of the demons actually clapped back at these people. 

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”  - Acts 19:15 

Then the demons beat the snot out of the person and he had to run away naked. That makes for a fun party story, but the reality is, we aren't strong enough using our own names and reputations alone; we need to use His name to bring the truth of who He is to others.   



So, if you are not familiar with the anime Attack on Titan, it's this horrific story of people trapped inside of walls. Not only are they trapped inside of walls, but outside of those walls are these giant monstrosities - titans that are literally just roaming around, ready to eat anyone who goes over the walls. There is a military force that fights them, and in that military force we meet this character named Sasha. She is one of my favorite characters, and the first time you meet Sasha, she is in a military situation, being trained, and she straight out of nowhere pulls a potato and starts eating it. She, of course, gets in trouble for that, because you don't randomly eat potatoes in military situations. But that’s her character throughout the entire storyline. Even though the world is falling apart, even though her life is on the line at any point in time, she is going to make sure she has some snacks. She hoards food. She makes just getting to enjoy something as simple as a potato a big deal in her life. Honestly, she's not wrong. 

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” - Ecclesiastes 8:15 

Solomon straight up says Sasha has the right idea. Even though the world might be falling apart and be terrible, we should eat a potato. We should actually enjoy what's in front of us. The world has been in such turmoil and at times there's all these questions in the air - should we even celebrate? Should we take the time to try and live like things are normal? Should we try to enjoy life when things are so weird and so hard and there's so much going on? Well, yes, absolutely. This is the perfect time to actually pause and enjoy the simple things. To pause, and be grateful, and just eat a good meal. Because we rejoice in these hard times. So, eat a potato.  



Ahsoka Freakin’ Tano! She got such a sweet live action premiere episode on The Mandalorian. For those who are longtime Star Wars fans, but have only seen live action versions of Star Wars, meaning they've never seen the cartoons Clone Wars or Rebels, the only time they would have even heard Ahsoka would have been in The Rise of Skywalker, when she was one of the voices telling Rey to rise up. The reality is, for those who have watched the cartoons, Ahsoka is a beloved character and the longtime Padawan of none other than Anakin Skywalker. She's also one of the greatest female Jedi ever to exist. So, it was nice to see her in the flesh. The reality is, to a lot of people, she only became real when she actually appeared in physical form on The Mandalorian. You know, some people just think about the animated series and things like that, think “They're not real characters until they show up in the flesh.” I don't agree with that. That's not my philosophy, but to some people, things aren't real until you actually put flesh and form to them. Until you put action to them. The reality is that may not be true for Ahsoka, but that really is true for us and how we live out our faith.  

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” - 1 John 3:18 

When we put real form and action to what we believe, people consider it more real. Ahsoka has had more screen time as a voice-acted animated character than Darth Vader has had on any platform, yet to some people she wasn't real until Rosario Dawson stepped out of the shadows. For some people, our faith will never be real until we put action to it, and that's what the Gospel calls us to do. Not just to be believers and Christians in word, but also in action



Last night, I got one of those Facebook messages where there's someone who's not your friend but they send you a message, and so you have to, like give permission to read it. I opened it up, and lo and behold, it was an apology from someone I had met at a nerdy event over a year ago. They’d stated that they had talked to me at my booth and they had told me a joke. Over a year ago. A joke I don't even remember, but he said that it had come out wrong and it made him feel uncomfortable. He wanted to let me know he didn't mean that the way it sounded, and that he didn't want me to think ill of him. He apologized and of course, and I'm like, “Dude, absolutely, no harm, no foul. I remember meeting you. I don't remember you saying something off-color.” I legit held no ill-will towards this person, but he felt it in his heart that it was appropriate to go and deal with that, and I applaud that. You know, I meet a lot of people at Cons and some people say some really sketchy things. This dude felt it appropriate to actually deal with that, and that's something Scripture teaches us to do. 

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” - Matthew 5:23-24. 

Scripture straight up teaches us that if we know that we have offended someone, someone is holding something against us, or we've committed some party foul out there that we've not dealt with, God literally says to go ahead and put on pause whatever you're thinking of doing “for Him” and go deal with it. I promise, I would have gone to my grave never concerned about this dude’s joke over a year ago, but it mattered to him to go and deal with it, and God is pleased with that. So, what's out there that you need to deal with? 



This might be a silly question, but when's the last time you played Animal Crossing? Remember during the pandemic, when everybody and their mom loved Animal Crossing and they played it all the time? That lasted a while, and then life kind of moved on. I don't think everybody plays Animal Crossing the way they used to anymore. I have a favorite villager. She's Peggy. I come to the island pretty regularly just to make sure Peggy doesn’t leave. I popped on my island the other day and I got really excited, as it was snowing! I’d never seen that before. You can make snowmen. You can catch snowflakes with your little net. When I got excited about it, I wanted to tell other people, but literally everyone I know who used to play Animal Crossing had stopped playing Animal Crossing. There's a lot of different reasons people stopped. Different games came out that aren't the same thing, but I think everybody really needed Animal Crossing when it came out. It's what we needed in that season, but when other things popped up or came along, they just kind of moved on. The sad part is, that's honestly how a lot of people treat their relationship with God. They like it when it's the current need, but they let it go as soon as it's not. 

In Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about how things are going to be in the future. 

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” - Matthew 24:10-12  Here, Jesus straight up says things are going to get rough. Things are going to get hard, and a lot of people's hearts are going to get cold and they will walk away because of distraction, deception, or discouragement.  For others, it's going to require a conscious effort to actually maintain the faith and follow after Jesus. So don't let the things in this world cause your love of God to grow cold. While you're at it, you might wanna go back and check to your island. Make sure everybody's doing ok. Especially Peggy.  



I legitimately have never minded being known as the nerd in my people group. I am fine being a fount of useless nerdy knowledge. Because I'm passionate about these things, I don't mind admitting I have a lot of useless info, and I also don't mind sharing it. If people wanna talk to me about it, I'm always cool with it. As The Mandalorian has grown in popularity throughout Season Two, I’ve found a lot more messages in my inbox. When Bo Katan first mentioned Ahsoka Tano, I had professional comic book creators in my inbox asking me to explain who that was. With the epic-ness in the Season Two finale of The Mandalorian, first thing at 6:00 AM the next morning, I had people blowing me up. “Wait, how does this work?” “What's the timeline?” “Wait, how many Jedi are left?” People were just constantly making inquiries. Even this Sunday, as we finished out the last service for our church, I saw someone sprint towards me in the lobby, and I thought, “Oh man, this person must have accepted Christ!” or “this person must need prayer,” and literally, this someone walked up and said, “Alright, Pastor, tell me about the Dark Saber.” I am ok with them coming to me for information, because they know I'm a source that they can trust. A source that will be patient. This is how we should be when it comes to our faith. We should be a source to always be ready to share what we believe, why we believe, and to be able to do it with the right attitude. 

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” - 1 Peter 3:15 

People can ask me questions about The Mandalorian and know I'm not gonna judge them or condemn them for not having that knowledge. We need to be able to be a representation of Jesus who people can come to us to ask questions about our beliefs, and know that they will be treated with gentleness and respect every time. 



Doctor Who had a New Year's special and it's the first episode of Doctor Who we've gotten since the last New Year's special. We haven't had the most consistent run when it comes to Doctor Who. When Peter Capaldi's final regular season aired, like back in summer of 2017, we went from summer until Christmas with just one episode. Then, after that single episode, we went ten months before the next episode. It's just been a hard schedule to keep as a Doctor Who fan. We're an easily distracted people and so, of course, during this time, this time some people have straight up forgotten that Doctor Who was good. I'll admit, I'm kind of one of them. As I was watching this New Year's special, I literally caught myself remembering “Oh yeah, Doctor Who is good.” The New Year's special had a lot of what makes a great episode of Doctor Who, and it was one of the best episodes in a long time, possibly one of the best episodes of Jodie's era. I just really enjoyed it, and as I was watching it, I was reminded that I really do love Doctor Who. As easy as it is to forget that with Doctor Who, sometimes it's just as easy for us to forget how good God is because we get caught up in our distractions. We get caught up in our frustrations. We get caught up in our struggles, and sometimes it feels like God shows up less often than a British time traveler in a blue box. But the reality is, God's good every day, we just don't always remember it. 

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” - Psalm 77:11-12 

Y'all, God is constantly showing how good He is to us, but it's our responsibility to remember it. It's our responsibility to put our focus on that. Yes, if I actually put some time and thought into it, I remember Doctor Who is dope. If I put thought and time in remembering how good God is, I will be constantly reminded (and encouraged), but it’s up to me and it's up to you to take that time.  



When my family went to bed last night, I sat down, turned on my Xbox and decided I was gonna play a little bit of Assassin's Creed. I had 16 people to find, and you know, “deal with.” Then, I had two final story arcs to complete and an epilogue before the whole game was over. I was pacing myself, so I thought, “I'm gonna ‘deal with’ four of the people I've gotta find.” I dealt with those four people, and I'm like, “Oh, well that went quicker than I thought, so I'll do the next four.” That went pretty quick. Then the next four. Finally I'm like, “You know what? Maybe I'll go ahead and do one of the final two missions.” I did that, and then it was like 2:00 AM. I'm like, “Oh man, I'll go ahead and do the last one.” I did it. Somewhere around 4:30 AM, I finished all of the story elements of the game, and I was bright-eyed and-bushy tailed. I was like, “Oh man, that was amazing. I really wish somebody was awake right now so I could talk about how good of an experience that was.” I had a blast. It was, of course, a horrible life choice, and I regretted it deeply as far as sleep went. I think that that's one of the things we tell ourselves: “We're only gonna go so far,” and we get in our own way. 

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” - Genesis 12:1 

Every time I think of this story, I think of the fact that God told Abraham to pack up all his gear and to leave without telling him where he was going. Most of us would have said, “God, I'm going to follow you, but I'm only gonna follow you so far.” “I'm only gonna do this much.” “I'm only gonna serve this much.” “I'm only gonna give this much time.” “I'm only gonna go this far out of my comfort zone.” The reality is, when we can learn to stop giving God our boundaries, we might actually be able to see some things pay off and have big finishes. When we get in our own way, straying from where God is leading us, we suffer. 



Low-key: I'm a T-shirt hoarder. I hold on to T-shirts like nobody's business. I get them all the time because I speak at summer camps and they give you shirts. I go to ComiCons a lot, and you get shirts there, too. I work with a church that has official shirts and gives out shirts for different events. I make my own shirts. Beyond that, I had subscribed to Loot Crate for like 5 years (two different subscriptions), so I got like two shirts a month every month for five years. it's a lot. Over the last decade of my life, my weight and size have fluctuated both positively and negatively. The reality is, some of these shirts I haven't worn. or been able to wear, in over a year. After Christmas, I came to the realization that I couldn't fit any more clothes in my closet, because I just straight up had too many shirts. I loved some of the humor on them. I loved some of the memories, like from two churches that I worked at years ago. The youth group shirt from that one retreat, or the funny Doctor Who shirt that wouldn't fit my left thigh right now. I had to come to realize if I was going to be able to actually function as an adult, I was going to have to get rid of some of these clothes that I used to wear. It really reminds me of these verses;  

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” - Ephesians 4:22-24 

Paul is telling the Ephesian church that if they want to be able to receive the new life, the righteousness, and holiness that Christ offers us, they had to be able to actually put off their old selves. The reality about my closet was that I had to be able to actually get rid of something old to make room for what's new. Some of us really need to take stock of what's in our lives so we can see that some things need to be moved out of the way for God to do new things in us and through us.  



You ever notice that people will legitimately avoid talking about or dealing with things that are sad, painful or uncomfortable? When I was a kid, Empire Strikes Back was my least favorite Star Wars movie because it had a sad ending. I literally made it into adulthood thinking that movie was stupid because it had a sad ending. You see this as people get older as well; they like to think that, unless it has a warm, positive Hallmark Channel vibe, it's something that should be avoided. We need to actually deal with the painful things and talk about the sad stuff. When my family was burning through the Studio Ghibli movies, everybody was like, “Watch out for Grave of the Fireflies. It'll kill you.” It was not literally the saddest thing I've ever seen, but I knew people said not to watch it because it's so sad. I think we've come to put too high of a value on only giving our attention to the things that aren't painful. Scripture teaches us that we actually need to give equal airtime to both.  

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”  - Psalm 6:2-3 

David, yeah, he was emo, but listen to Jesus; 

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”  - Mark 14:34 

Jesus told His disciples to stay there and keep watch.  They didn’t.  If we took out all the sad psalms, the book of Psalms would be a really small one. Jesus had a perfect relationship with God, yet He took time to share when He was sad, overwhelmed, hurting and struggling. Maybe one of the best lessons we can learn is that we need to be honest with what we're going through and stop trying to keep everything positive all the time. We need to be able to be honest. 



So, the nerd world has been abuzz lately, infatuated with a character from the upcoming Resident Evil video game Resident Evil Village, and that character is Lady Dimitrescu (the tall lady in the hat). There's not a lot we know about her yet. We know she's got some weird daughters and that she is a 9’6” vampiric monastery lady who dresses like a southern belle. The nerd world is hardcore infatuated with this person. The game is nowhere near release, and we've only got, like maybe 3 minutes, tops, of video game footage. Of that, only a little bit includes her, but the Internet is flooded with fan art, with cosplayers dressing as her (and I'm talking from professional cosplayers to people who literally live down the street from me). People are just digging the aesthetic of this character, even though they don't know the storyline. They don't know much about the game. They don't know much about who she is, but they are heavily invested. Sometimes we're guilty of that too. We'll invest before we've really checked out the full storyline or details of something in our lives. We saw that this happened as well with disciples of Jesus. In John 6, Jesus had a lot more disciples. Then, in verses 53-39, Jesus gets around to talking to them about eating His flesh and drinking His blood and literally people got concerned. Look at verse 60.  

"On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” - John 6:60. 

Even further down, in verse 66: 

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” - John 6:66 

All these people had signed on to follow Jesus when they saw there was healing and miracles and all the cool stuff. When they got in deeper, seeing who He really was that there was going to be sacrifice, that it was going to be something more than just following around the guy who was doing big things, they turned away. What Jesus talked about sounded a little more like Resident Evil than you know, just healing people. The reality is, if we're going to truly follow Jesus, we need to know more about who He is and not just let it be superficial. 



So, being the dad of some young gamers comes with some perks. I love seeing my kids rise to the challenge of video games. I also get easily flustered when they're flustered. But, when my kids are playing games difficult for them, they've yet to say, “Hey, Dad, beat this for me.” They've never done that. I think they know I want them to level up by themselves and get there on their own. One of the things that has been an encouragement to them is that, when they're facing a difficult place in a game, they'll come and ask, “Dad, have you done this part?” or “Do you remember this part?” and I'll say “Yeah, do this,” or, “Do that,” or, “I found this over there.” I can give them instructions or tell them, “Hey, you know this part's hard, but you will be able to get there.” Even now, I'm currently playing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, and we're sitting around and they're watching me play. I'm like, “Oh look, I did this here, and this is hard here, but we can do this.” Once they see me beat something, it kind of clicks in their minds, “Well, Dad did it, and so can I.” Just seeing someone go ahead of them gives them the confidence to actually push forward. That's the same energy, heart, and attitude that Jesus shows us. 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 

Yes, the stuff we go through on a daily basis is hard and difficult, but the comforting reality is that whatever we face, whatever struggles, whatever trials, Jesus has faced it. Jesus has not only faced it, but He overcame it. I get it, He's Jesus. You think that probably comes with like some cheat mode, but Jesus overcame these things and He's telling us that we can do it because He did it. 



A large portion of what the ministry of Faith & Fandom has been for the last seven years is that I write a book of nerdy Bible studies, one each year, and I tour with them around ComiCons all throughout the southeast. It's been a really awesome ride. When ComiCons basically shut down for at least a year, that ministry, as a large portion, had come to a screeching halt. God had still put stuff on my heart from the past and the present that I felt was fruitful and needed to be used, so we got a website running. We started putting each chapter up individually as blog posts. It straight up took six weeks to do this in my free time. During that process, I was reviewing what we had written. I was formatting it. Some of the stuff I legitimately hadn’t looked at in seven years. As I was looking at these things that I had written, I came to realize, that I had straight up forgotten really valuable lessons that God had shown me. That I had been in places and seasons and struggles where God had shown up in big ways, teaching me important lessons. I wrote them down, but when I wrote them down I also just kind of ignored them once I got them out of my head and my fingers. This reminded me of Jeremiah 30:2. This is a verse my youth pastor shared with me when I was a young teenager, and it always impacted me. 

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.” - Jeremiah 30:2 

This was God speaking directly to a prophet, but the reality of it is, if God shows you something, if God speaks to you, if God reveals something to you in Scripture, if God shows up in your heart, it's worth writing down. If it's worth writing down, it's worth reviewing. You don't have to have a platform. You don't have to have a big audience. You don't have to put it out for everyone to see, but please understand if God shows it to you, you should hang on to it because it’s valuable. That's a treasure, and it has fruit that's eternal.  



You ever play a video game and you just get, like ridiculously wounded, and then all you do is like duck, and just wait, until you get healed? You know, I think the logistics of this are horrible, but there are many games where I'm thankful for them, because I'm often out of healing items and things like that. It’s kind of a persistent trope with action games now. This is especially true in first person shooters – if you just duck down and hide, eventually you're going to be ok. Yesterday was a really long day for me. I had church and then drove like an hour and did a wedding in the woods. I was the DJ.  I had to set up sound equipment deep in the woods, and I also had to set up sound equipment inside a reception area. All in all, I literally was on my feet for almost 14 hours straight. I was exhausted. As I was going to bed, I was all aches and pains.  My joints were creaking and popping. The noises of my body were literally audible. Someone in my family said to me, “You know, your body heals when you rest.” They had a point. Just like in a video game, there is healing when we actually take time to rest. Scripture is full of the importance of rest. God rested in creation. God instructs us to rest. He even gives us a day to specifically rest. If you are a part of church culture, the Sabbath, your Sunday, however you look at it, has become a lot more about doing things than resting. We must remember resting is important. Literally, Jesus took naps, y'all. Getting rest is not only beneficial to our bodies but is also beneficial to our souls. If we are all up in church, doing all the actions and activities, but not actually resting, we're kind of missing the point.  

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” - Mark 2:27 

I'm all for serving Jesus. I'm all for doing the things that God asks us to do and doing all the things we feel called to do as Christians. But, if you aren't getting the rest that God intended for you, your service isn't going to leave room for you to actually heal.  



So, I want to talk about WandaVision for a second, just focusing on one single line. Personally, I think it's the most quotable line in the entire series. It also carries the most potency per letter of anything out of the entire series. There's a moment where Vision makes this statement: “What is grief, if not love persevering?” The minute I heard it (by the way, I saw it quoted on people's Facebook statuses before I even got to watch the show, so thanks, guys), I was just hit deep. Hit me right in my soul. It hit me hard because beyond what we see in WandaVision and or in anything else, grief and love persevering to me honestly boils down to Jesus. Not just the straight Jesus juke situation, but this is honestly what stirred in my soul the minute I heard this line. I was taken back to Mark 14, where Jesus is praying before the cross. He's praying before He's arrested, and He literally is drowning in grief.  

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” - Mark 14:34-36 

Jesus was consumed with grief over what was about to come, but the fact is that His love persevered. Not only did His love persevere, but it is in His persevering that we find freedom. That we find hope. That we find redemption. We receive love and salvation through His love persevering. 



I'm a day-one Pokémon Go player, and I've played almost every day physically or digitally possible since then. I put some time into the game. I've walked 7,764 kilometers. Caught 97,588 Pokémon. Visited 62,175 Pokéstops for a grand total of 73,736,489 XP. It's a lot. On average, I keep about 1,100 Pokémon in my inventory. I have played a lot. When I first started playing though, I didn't spend a lot of time investing into the Pokémon I was keeping. The appraisal system used to be trash. In order to actually appraise a Pokémon, to really see if it was worth investing in, you had to read a digital speech. Honestly, in a game built where you're trying to “catch them all,” you don't have time to sit there and read through three screens of text for every Pokémon you catch. I really didn't put a lot of time into evaluating my Pokémon, which means out of the Pokémon I invested time and XP in, a lot of stuff that I thought was worth it just because it appeared to be, were really trash. Since then, they've completely revamped it. All you have to do is click “appraise” and a little diagram will pop up and show you if it's a one-, two-, or three-star Pokémon. If it turns red with three stars, it's perfect! Out of the 1,100 Pokémon in my inventory, 36 of them are perfect. I know this, because I've actually started to take time to evaluate each one to see if it's worth investing in. We need to do that with our spiritual lives as well. A lot of times we'll let things influence us, whether it's social media, teaching, music, leaders, or anything else, without actually testing to see if their messages are worth the time and investment. 

"Test all things; hold fast what is good.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:21 

Just because it has a label that it's good for us doesn't mean it is. Just because something advertises that it's Christian or focuses on God doesn't mean that it does. We have a responsibility to actually test what we invest in.  




I had been a Joss Whedon fan for a pretty long time. Firefly was literally life changing for me and kicked me off down the path that I've been walking for like the last 16 years in pseudo professional geekdom. It also made me go back and check out Buffy and Angel, even his Shakespeare work. Doctor Horrible was amazing. I read his Astonishing X-Men run in the comics, which to be honest, is the best X-Men run I've read. I had been a fan of his for a long time and when he was announced to take over after Zack Snyder to finish Justice League, I was pretty excited. I wasn't really thrilled with Age of Ultron, but I was kind of hopeful. While I enjoyed what I saw with Justice League, and it was just nice to see my heroes onscreen, I could tell that it wasn't what was intended. This week, people are finally going to get the Snyder cut. They're going to get the version that was intended to be seen. I knew when I watched the original version that someone had come in and done some things that weren't supposed to be done, and it reminded me of this Bible story in Matthew 13:  

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’”  - Matthew 13:24-28 

 It just really spoke to me, the fact that sometimes we can pour our best into what we're doing, but if we're not careful of who we let handle it and be involved in what we're doing, then it can become a perversion or a distant shadow of what we intended it to be. That goes for things like Justice League, but that also goes for our relationships. That goes for our ministries. That goes for our walk with God. If we're not careful, cautious, and guarding about who and what we let get involved, we could end up with something other than what we actually intended to create. 



So let me just say Disney+ and Marvel have done wonders in terms of advertising the need for therapy to the geek community. From watching the anguish and grief of Wanda in WandaVision and the clear and visible need for her to actually get professional help, to the fact that, in the first episode of Falcon and The Winter Soldier, we actually see Bucky (AKA James Buchanan Barnes) getting professional help. It's actually good, sound counseling; it’s all laid out. Honestly, Bucky's got like, a century of things to actually process. The things that she was telling him, you can appreciate without having to be a mercenary or a psycho. One of the things that she pointed out was that he didn't have enough human contact. He didn't have enough of a support network. He didn't have enough people in his life. As this therapist told him, “If you are alone, that is the quietest, most personal hell.” The reality is, if you are a believer, you're not actually alone. God is with you. The Holy Spirit dwells inside you. You have access to prayer at any point. We have all these things that are our spiritual lifelines, but that doesn't stop us from feeling alone. Yes, God is always with us. Jesus said he would never leave us or forsake us. We're not alone, but that doesn't actually stop us from feeling alone. David knew that as well.  

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” - Psalm 25:16 

Other translations say, “I am alone.” The reality of it is, even though we aren't alone, we can feel like we are. We don't ever want to look at just being lonely and say, ‘that’s the issue,’ or that we need help with that. Being alone is one of the most crippling things we ever actually deal with and go through. As Bucky's therapist said, we need to nurture friendships. I would encourage you, nurture yourself. Nurture your friends, and if you know other people in your world that feel alone, remind them that they're not. 



So, I just gotta say, Disney+ has been crushing it with giving us things to look forward to. If you look at the calendar year for the rest of 2021 (when this message was originally recorded for LTN Radio), there's something coming out almost immediately after something else. Original content every time something else ends. We always have something to kind of look forward to. When Falcon and The Winter Soldier is over, we get The Bad Batch. When that's over, there'll be another thing. There's going to be something continually released throughout the year, and by giving us something to look forward to, we hang on. We don't abandon our hope or our subscriptions. There's this quote, attributed to Alexander Chalmers, that says, “The three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.” We survive better, we endure stronger, and we have greater happiness when we actually have something to hope for. When we know that there is something on the horizon to look forward to, it's easier for us to keep going with the things that we actually have to do on a day-to-day basis.  


While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” - Titus 2:13-14 

Y'all, I'm looking forward to what Disney+ puts out. I'm looking forward to stuff coming to HBO Max. I'm looking forward to some video games. I'm looking forward to some comic books. I'm looking forward to vacation. There are things that I'm hoping for, things that I'm looking forward to, but the reality is that our hope goes beyond temporal things in this world. Our hope goes towards something eternal, something that isn't going to actually disappoint us when we get it. It makes our hope that much stronger. Absolutely, we should have things we look forward to, things we celebrate, and things that we're thankful for in certain seasons of this life, but when we have the hope of seeing all that Jesus is going to accomplish in us, it makes us that much stronger. 



If you hadn't heard, the game “Sunday School Answers” has recently been relaunched. It is a parody of the game CAH and other chaotic dialogue games in which there is a dilemma and a collection of answers. These types of games are ridiculously fun, and I was honored to be asked to be able to do part of a superhero deck. I contributed nerdy, goofy answers to go along with these Biblical or church life questions. It was a blast of an experience and so, being the nerd that I am, I ordered a set because I wanted some. There's literally a board game with my picture on it. I want the thing! I ordered the core deck and the superhero deck and as soon as we got it, I broke it out and I showed my kids and they're like, “Oh, this is the best!” The other night, we had a family night where we were all home for once. We didn’t want to do Dice Throne because it would take too long, and I was bored with Uno. One of my kids said, “We could play dad's game,” and so we pulled it out. We played it. We had an absolute blast. We laughed to the point of tears. One of the great things was just watching my kids' faces as they tried to decide which answer was best to give in these ridiculous situations. Sometimes they'd slam a card down on the table with confidence because they were sure they had the best answer possible. Watching them, I knew that some of them put more thought into the questions and answers in the game than what normally comes out of their mouths in actual conversation. In Colossians 4, we have this loving reminder from Paul: 

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  - Colossians 4:5-6 

Every game like this hinges on you making sure you are giving the best answer, using your words to the best of your ability. As we see here in Scripture, this needs to extend far beyond fun and games, and that we need to treat every interaction with this amount of thought and consideration. 




This past weekend, I went to the first moderate- sized ComiCon with Faith & Fandom since the world shut down. The Con did all the things to be as responsible as possible; they doubled the convention floor space but kept the same amount of booths. They spread the vendors out, and they took several other steps. I honestly thought this wasn't going to be a big show. I didn’t think there was going to be a lot of people, I was just going to enjoy the travel and minister to whoever I could. A lot of people showed up, and not only did a lot of people show up, but they showed up with enthusiasm, excitement, and genuine joy in a lot of circumstances. They weren't just there for the chance to meet someone like a professional wrestler or voice actor. They weren’t just there to buy some weird anime stuff. They were there for connection. They wanted to see people and interact with people about things that they were passionate about. I was grateful to be able to spread some love and encouragement and the word of God in that situation. What I think we understand as believers, is everybody is longing for connection. We long for a connection that can really only be fulfilled in the body of Christ.  

“In my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”  - Romans 1:10-12 

I just want to encourage you; we're all longing for this connection. We're all longing to be in others' presence. Make sure that, when this opportunity presents itself for you, you do all that you can to not only be encouraged yourself, but to encourage those you interact with. When you have that opportunity, you're gonna make up for a lot of lost ground, so use your time and words wisely. 



Last week I did something that was kinda cool. I went to the movies for the first time in 14 months. The last movie I saw in theaters was the second My Hero Academia movie, and this past Friday, I took my kids (as a terrible father) to watch the Demon Slayer movie in theaters. We were excited. It was straight up the most awkward, weird thing because when we went there, it was a literal ghost town. We were in this massive theater for this movie premiere, and there were nine people. It was great for us, and also for the concession workers. Hardly any staff, like, didn't even put butter on our popcorn. They gave us little cups of butter to put it on the popcorn ourselves. It was just weird. We started talking about what it used to be like to be at movie premieres – to literally have to fight for seats to be near each other. How different it was and cool to make a forward motion back. It was easy to see there was room to grow. 

“‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?” - Haggai 2:3 

We see this, and they're talking about the temple and saying, “Man, the temple is nothing now,” but if you keep reading, you’re gonna learn that the temple is going to not only be restored to its former glory, but it's going to be greater than it ever has been before. I just want to encourage you that yeah, life is gonna look weird for a season and things are gonna look awkward. Anytime we take a forward step, it might be uncomfortable, but I would encourage you keep making forward steps and things will be better. 



How we respond when we're completely overwhelmed says a lot about who we are as people. In The Watchmen, Doctor Manhattan is a nearly omnipotent fictional hero. There's this point in the storyline where his life is being manipulated so that everyone he comes in contact with has cancer. It's being intentionally done to cause him to be overwhelmed, and it works. When this situation occurs, he teleports everyone around him away and then he literally runs away and goes to Mars. He was so overwhelmed with people demanding things from him when he was emotionally wounded that he ran away. This reminded me of a similar situation with Jesus, but with a completely different outcome because of who Jesus is. In Matthew 14, Jesus had just found out that John the Baptist had been killed. This was His cousin, His friend, the person who baptized Him, the person who prepared the way for His ministry. He lost someone he loved dearly. 

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.” - Matthew 14:13 

Jesus was hurt and wounded and He needed to get away from everybody else, but instead of like teleporting everybody else like Doctor Manhattan did, Jesus stayed still. He actually ministered to the people who sought after Him. He healed the sick, He fed them (this is where He took five loaves and two fish and fed that 5000+ people). He stayed with them and met their needs, even though He was emotionally destroyed. 

"After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.” - Matthew 14:23 

Even though Jesus was overwhelmed, He stayed true to who He was and continued to pour out. But He didn't neglect the fact that He still needed time to pray and be with God. I think something we can learn is that when we're overwhelmed, we don't have to run away, we don't have to ignore everything else, but we do need to still make sure that we get what we need to rest, heal, and be ministered to ourselves.  



So this past weekend I was at a ComiCon, and I had my fancy lightsaber on my table just for kicks and giggles. A swarm of Jedi and Sith came by my table. They were friends of mine, cosplayers, and  they wanted me to take a photo with them. We all lit up our blades, stood in the walkway, and we took a bunch of photos. Right off to the side, there was a little kid who was on the floor, coloring. He had a balloon sword. This little kid with a balloon sword jumped to his feet and ran over to all of us with our big, fierce, probably costing multiple-hundreds-of-dollars lightsabers, and squared off against us. The little kid had no fear, no concern, no inadequacy, no thinking, “My weapons not as good as theirs”, or anything like that. So we all we all had a good time and his parents stood behind him and took photos of us all battling together. It was a good time. With nerd culture, sometimes we're like, “My stuff's not as good as theirs.” We get locked into a mindset of comparison, but that kid was 100% confident in his balloon sword and I think that was a good reminder. Sometimes we aren't as bold with the word of God, with the sword that He gives us, because we feel like maybe it's going to make us awkward or make people distance themselves from us. Maybe it will come with consequences. We need to have the confidence in the Word of God that that little kid had with his balloon sword. 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” - Hebrews 4:12 

We have a much more powerful weapon than we could ever imagine, and we don't ever need to forget it. So, I hope the next time you have the chance, that you will wield your sword well (maybe make some lightsaber noises while you’re at it). 




So I recently turned 40, and decided I was going to take a mini road trip to kind of kick off my 40th year. I was gonna drive all the way to Red Bank, New Jersey, because in Red Bank, New Jersey is Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. This is Kevin Smith's comic book shop, it's also where you see the TV show Comic Book Men filmed. I've been a longtime fan of Kevin Smith. There just aren't that many funny, hefty, creative dudes out there, and I have enjoyed his work and his writing. Some of his life story and his comic book stuff is exceptional. I just wanted to take this trip and drive up to New Jersey, go to his comic book shop, and come back home. I decided as part of the journey, and being the nerd that I am, I was going to take that whole trip to basically be quiet. I wasn't gonna talk to anybody extra for work. For emergencies and things like that, I'd answer the phone, but I wasn't going to talk. I wasn't going to post on social media. I wasn't going to check social media feeds. I was just going to enjoy being quiet and appreciating what was going on around me. I spent some time in prayer. I listened to The Sandman audiobook from Audible with James McAvoy and it was marvelous. Then I went to the comic book shop and had a great time. Then I made my journey home. It was so nice and refreshing to actually have a couple days of quiet, but one of the things that I really saw is that there were so many things in my life that were just noise for the sake of noise. Things that weren't good input, things with a negative impact, and there were things that I was contributing my voice to that weren't helping me. 

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” - Ecclesiastes 5:2 

I realized that, when I spent two days and some change not talking to people, I could tell where my voice was missed where it wasn't. I could also tell how much I'd been filling the silence with useless noise, when really some quiet before God made a big difference in my life.   



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