22 December 2011

God is good - even when you have no idea what's happening.

Proverbs 21:31 says "The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the

Coming home from work today caps off a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice and stress - and a "couldn't be better" entry to a much needed week and a half of rest, family and recharging.

A week ago today we finally released the game that we've been working on for about nine months. It's probably fair to say that four of those months were pretty light duty as we planned and tweaked and were at least partly distracted by other things but from July to December we were hard at it. And while the game was first imagined as something small and light and shallow it took on a life of its own. It morphed and deepened and grew a soul. Suddenly, a game we thought was a tiny time waster was recognized as somethig else. I remember the day we all sat down and started a prayer time and we all started looking at each other thinking - this isn't what we thought. This is a Soma game and a prequel to GRoG.

From there the metaphors, the details, even the delays started to look different in the light that God was actively engaged in the design process and now we were off making a game about spiritual warfare and destiny and guardian angels. It was awfully exciting. But it was also taking FOREVER. We were way over budget and a July launch got pushed tomseptmber, then to Thanksgiving and finally to Dec 15. To be true, by that time we were all freaking out more than a little. I'd love to say that we all had "peace beyond understanding" but we didn't. We all knew this was taking way too long and costing way too much money and the stress was building. But we also knew that we needed to get it right - it had to be solid. And the truth is, the bug list seemed to grow every day instead of shrink. Features were still being added even after we were supposed to have code lock and the project just refused to be finished. Now on the bright side it was truly getting better and better. Not only were bugs getting fixed but all the finer details were being polished. Lightning bugs in the backyard, Photon pushing monsters and Lamplighter healing the friends near her, these and more were all last minute adds that made huge differences. We also kept experiencing that joy of serendipity. The bonchows, giant versions of the enemies, started as a joke from a typo and become a built in feature on accident. The game was taking on a shape that we only barely glimpsed at the beginning and the time stress was counterbalanced by a real sense of discovery and excitement. Wind Up Robots was going to be a cool and well polished game.

For me, I had the pleasure of writing the script and I enjoyed that even as I labored over it. It changed from three paragraphs to set a stage to a journey for th email character that included the whole Hero's Journey in miniature. A word here instead of there seemed suddenly important as it seemed crucial to me that I get every detail just right. In the middle of that process I had a very particular experience. In the middle of the night I found myself suddenly and completely awake. Somehow I knew that it was God who woke me up and I simply said, "Yes Lord?" and as plain as day I heard. "Your lives are the story." and in that I "heard" several implications. First, it simply wasn't that important that I tell this story in the game perfectly. After all, I wasn't writing scripture here. But more to the point, if anybody was going to be moved by the story, it wouldn't be for my brilliant writing, but by His Spirit moving in their hearts. In other words - don't take myself so seriously. But also that what God has been doing with Soma all along has been about our interactions with people.

When we started Soma I imagined folks getting wrapped up in the epic stories in the games and being moved or inspired the way I've been inspired by movies or books. And while I still hoe for that, what weve seen so far is that our biggest impact seems to be just our stories as people who decided to follow hard after Gods call. It's been in personal interactions with other people, or stories about what god has done for us or through us - that has been where we sit back and go Wow- that was incredible. And thats also why I feel compelled to share our stories publicly.

So to circle back to the proverb...

Along with Wind Up Robots we also found ourselves with a tiny window of two weeks and decided to throw together a silly little holiday game as a gag. It's cute, it's fun, it's a joke.

Today, just before we all went home for a break, we learned that Apple featured both games in the app store just as we start into the crazy Christmaas season. Time will tell what that actually harvests - but wow. What a wonderful blessing.

Look, all of us at Soma busted our chops for many months to get here - th ehorses were prepared for the battle. But what happens after that was 100% beyond our ability to influence or control. The victory belongs to the Lord.

Thanks you dad for all that you've done to, for, and through us this year as its been a powerful one for all of us. Whatever happens with this release is all to your glory - as it should be.

Merry Christmas everyone.

04 August 2011

With revelation comes responsibility

I heard a sermon the other day that really got me thinking and returning to that ‘count the cost’ idea Jesus shoots out at us.

The guy was talking about Solomon and 1 Kings 11:19 where it says “The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.” God had first appeared to Solomon in a dream where he makes the famous request to be wise, and then again after the dedication of the temple.

How often do we clamor for more and more of God’s presence, His revelation, for Him to speak and reveal and fall on us? And how often do we reckon with the notion that His typical “still, small voice” might actually be a mercy?

When God whispers I imagine there is a certain amount of grace for us to get it wrong. For us to say, perhaps even willfully, ‘Sorry Lord – what was that again?’ as we continue on our own disobedient, ignorant, or distracted path.

But if He speaks audibly to us, if he writes on a wall, if he calls our bluff and gives us exactly the ‘sign’ we asked for...how then does our wrong action (or inaction) look before the throne?

I’m not saying that I plan to shrink back from seeking God’s face, but I realize that what I’m asking for is not a trivial thing. Hearing God is not simply for my amusement or even my edification. His word is alive and in fact the more clearly I hear that voice, the more responsibility I have to act on it.

20 March 2011

What if...?

OK, so go with me for just a minute here. IF - a big crazy if - IF you found a zombie shambling up your lawn this evening you would know what to do right?
You would know, from countless cultural touchstones, that zombies:
1. eat you - usually your brain
2. are dumb and slow
3. are defeated by popping them in the head.

Certainly there are exceptions to this 'rule' but generally speaking we all know what zombies are, how they operate, and what to do about them.

OK - change gears with me and read this:

Zechariah 14:12
“Now this will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouth. On that day a large-scale panic from the LORD will spread among them. One person will grab the hand of another, and one will attack the other.”


Revelation 9:6
"And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them."

What if - back to the crazy if - what if there is a hidden purpose to all of the zombie training our training our world has been getting over the last 20 years or so? Namely as a certain mercy to give some folks a framework to understand what is to come.

In Dawn of the Dead (I think) there is a bit where a guy says the zombies are there because hell was full and that concept struck irrational fear in my heart. Something about just the utterance of that idea really bothered me.

Anyway - I'm just dropping a stream of consciousness thing here today and not even something that well thought out...os IS it? ;)

27 February 2011

I've lost my quiet

I've lost my quiet.

That's what I want to tell Rebekah this morning but even the words to express that thought only appear when I'm here, once I've begun to find it again.

Part of me wonders why I keep doing this, deliberately separating myself from man and his work to retreat up into the woods. This part grumbles that if God wanted to talk to me He ought to be able to do so quite well in church, in my living room, or in the quiet moments before I drift off to sleep. But even as I write that - I see the error.

I come up here to the woods and hunker down in a hidden dingle with a fire pit where the sound of the wind in the evergreens is like angelsong; my heart sways to the tune but my mind can't quite discern the words. The smoke washes over me like some kind of cryptic anointing as I wait for His presence to fall.

That grumbling part of me has it backwards. There is no question God can speak to me wherever I am, He does it all the time. It's not a question of Him finding me.

I come up here because I am seeking Him.
Not a word or a blessing, not even an answer to prayer really - just Him.
And I find Him here.

Huffing and puffing up the steep muddy hills, building a fire with numb fingers, it's all a kind of sacrifice in an effort to act out the verse, "you will find me...when you seek me with all you heart"
...and fire falls on sacrifice.

Still, I see that I am drawn to higher or more distant places over time. It's not that He demands more of me so much as I seek more of him. What was a breathtaking experience last year is less so today as I realize the infinity of His grace and love. Wading in the river isn't what it once was, neither as frightening nor exhilarating, knowing I might swim, and even to drown.

22 January 2011

Remember Permission

There’s a place near the end of The Legend of Bagger Vance where Will Smith (playing the Holy Spirit) tells Matt Damon that in order for him to move forward he needs to go back and ‘remember.’ To remember what it was that he was made for in the first place – something he’s clearly forgotten.

I’ve been writing on this blog for years now and a lot of it has either been directly about or derived from a book I read many years ago called Wild at Heart. Since 2006 I’ve also been a part of a ministry called Boot Camp Northwest that is a deliberate spin-off of the Wild at Heart Boot Camp events Ransomed Heart Ministries does up in CO. I’ve never been to a RH boot camp but a donor recently pitched in some money and I get the chance to go see how John Eldredge and his crew do these things in March. As part of that, I’m going back and re-reading Wild at Heart 7 or 8 years later – to remember.

Line two in the intro says “we [don’t] need another book for men...we need something different. We need permission. Permission to be what we are – men made in the image of God.”

It’s the first line ion the book and I remember how invigorating that concept was when I read it. It spoke to a promise that the rest of the book indeed carried through – that it wouldn’t be about tips and tricks and techniques to read more pray more worship more. No – in fact the whole thing rests on an entirely different presupposition. That when we are saved by Christ our fallen hearts are made new and that there is goodness in us that needs to be let out far more than any wickedness needs to be suppressed. I remember in the early days of BCNW when we would get a question from the campers there were a lot of times when the answer was “walk with God” - in other words, “You don’t need me to answer that. I trust you to find your strength and your answer in your own walk with the father.” Sure, it was in some cases a bit of a cop out on our parts when there were questions we simply didn’t know how to answer but most often it was a “I know you can do this – I believe in you” kind of thing.

Lots of time and more experience has indeed led to more knowledge and more answers (after a fashion), though as I read this first page again I’m struck by the fact that more knowledge on our part may in fact lead to less freedom, less trust, and less empowerment that we’re giving to our campers.

They don’t need our answers.
They need our permission.