When Setting Broken Bones, Seek Professional Help.

Come Ye Sinner Poor and Needy Words by Joseph Hart

Let not conscience make you linger
Not of fitness fondly dream
All the fitness he requires
Is to feel your need of Him.

Come you weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better
You will never come at all.

When asked which church denomination I grew up in I always answer “Methodist.” While my family spent time going to a Presbyterian church when I was in elementary school my formative experience in the church was at St. Mark’s United Methodist during my junior high and high school years. What first comes to mind when I remember those days is sitting in the balcony with my friends, passing notes during the sermon, and singing hymns.

I don’t know when my love of hymns first began but it certainly stems from those years singing out of the red United Methodist hymnals. I cannot recall ever seeing a freshly printed copy, only frayed corners and loose, brittle bindings with flakes of glue the color of coffee stained teeth slipping out the spine and onto my dress khakis like dandruff; I’m fairly certain they must be printed and distributed in this condition. Each copy had six or seven ribbons of every color which I never used to mark my place but rather served as tassels to braid, keeping my fingers busy as the sounds of preaching drifted in and out of my peripheral hearing.

As an adult I will sing them in church and just “know” words and harmonies that I never set out to memorize. And just as I never set out to commit them to memory, I never intended to love them, but I do all the same. While I prefer to hear them played with modern instrumentation, I would rather sing the old songs over their contemporary counterparts. There are talented songwriters today, but none value the precision of language and the doctrinal fidelity of the old hymn writers. Each song was a sermon, a carefully packaged doctrinal lecture spoken with conviction. They were conceived from the intimacy shared between creature and Creator after hours of prayer, scripture reading, and the road weary wisdom of harsh and adventurous lives. These men and women were preachers, theologians, and poets even though many of them were not officially recognized as such by any institution.

They were also intimately familiar with sin. Take Joseph Hart, the author of Come Ye Sinner Poor and Needy. His story resonates with my own: born in a Christian family and raised to be religious, courting moral virtues for a time, denouncing them, then taking up the standard of self-righteousness once more. All the while he was missing that critical truth, that grace is freely offered by God through Jesus Christ both to relieve men and woman from the consequences of sin and to remove them from its captivity. Hart was either ignoring sin in his life or working feverishly to abolish it on his own, never certain or secure of his standing with God until he heard the full gospel of God.

You can see it in the song lyrics above, the trappings he (and I) must have fallen in to time and again. When he speaks of “fitness” in the first stanza he means righteousness, that he must “clean up his act” so to speak before approaching God to make things right. While this is common thinking among religious peoples, consider this: would you set and cast your own broken bone before making an appointment with a doctor? Of course not, yet that is exactly what every man made religious tradition prescribes.

When Jesus began his ministry in his early thirties he made it a point to mingle with all peoples, not just the religious elite. This infuriated the Pharisees (think “hardcore” religious types) because they viewed such interactions as somehow tarnishing their own delusional perfectionism. During one of his dinners with the “scum and villainy” of Jerusalem, they chastised Jesus. His response was to say “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5;31, 32). And by claiming he didn’t come for the righteous, he wasn’t letting the Pharisees off the hook either. I’m not sure if sarcasm is the right word to describe his tone, but if when he spoke of “the righteous” you considered yourself in that group, you were missing the point.

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10, 11). We all have broken bones that need set. Some of us try to resolve this problem by breaking even more bones and encouraging others to do the same, then calling it “normal” by majority rules while others like the Pharisees, Mr. Hart, and myself try to set the bones on our own and bring the grotesquely inadequate results before the throne of God expecting praise. Instead we are brought back to the E.R. where the bone must once more be broken in order to be set by the actual physician, the one capable of healing the damage properly.

I love the old hymns because in eight brief lines they can remind me of this rich, encouraging truth: that there is no reason to strive and strain against God or to make ourselves fit for him. The gospel of Jesus Christ is this: “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And the death of Jesus Christ removes any need we think we may have to rewrite morality to suite our own brokenness or to strive in vain toward making ourselves whole. I listen to and sing the hymns because I am prone to forget, and they were written to remind and reinforce that God loves me and through the blood of Christ forgives me, restores me, and calls me his own, just as I am.

This God is the God We Adore Words by Joseph Hart

How good is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend,
Whose love is as great as His power,
And knows neither measure nor end.

‘Tis Jesus, the First and the Last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home,
We’ll praise him for all that is past!
And trust Him for all that’s to come.

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State of the Rez: Evaluation and Objectives

As of Tuesday I’ve written twenty posts on “Waiting for Rez” and by this time next week I’ll have been blogging for two months. This is a milestone for me because when I started this blog I wasn’t sure if it would stick. I have a tendency to initiate projects and never finish them but for two months now I have averaged two posts a week and that’s a pretty solid start. So this week I thought would be a good time to look at what I’ve been writing and to adjust some of my initial goals accordingly. I’m also going to discuss my current gaming plans because they have changed a little since last week.

With my introductory post for “Waiting For Rez” I set a goal to write one post a week, but have in fact averaged two to three. Topically, I set out to write on MMOs and on Christian themes like personal reflections on scripture or spiritual poems. While I have stayed within this framework my religious posts have been far more personal than I had originally intended but I plan on continuing that trend because it has been beneficial for me and I think others as well. My gaming posts have been rather diverse (which they will continue to be) and for continuity I’ve enjoyed a regular “State of the Rez” where I write a weekly wrap up of what I’ve been doing in the games I’m currently playing.

As for the poetry, I had intended it to be a regular feature but that has not been the case. This may change at a later time, but right now I want to focus on guides, first impressions, opinion pieces, and personal reflections. The main problem is free time. I only have so much of it I can devote to writing in a week (and still have time to play MMOs) and during these first two months it has taken me three or more hours to write a 1500 word post and eight lines of poetry were taking just as long if not longer. I enjoy it, but I’m going to set it aside as a goal for now and focus on writing regular posts better, faster, and more concise, then revisit the addition of poetry at a later time.

Having written for a while now I have a better idea of what my goals are in the months to come. I have decided I will aim for three posts a week instead of one, and for the sake of consistency I will be posting on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Bio Break was the first blog I read consistently and I’ve always appreciated Syp’s reliability in posting Monday through Friday. I can’t write every day like that but I can maintain a specific schedule. As a general rule Sundays will be a personal spiritual reflection, Tuesdays will be an MMO topic, and Thursdays will be a “State of the Rez” post like this one. I’ll try this set up for the next two months and reevaluate at that time what’s working and what isn’t.

As far as gameplay goes I have some new goals as well. Last week I wrote a roundup of all my main characters across several games and my intended in game objectives. I was hoping to continue playing three to four MMOs at a time and focus on raising at least one character in each one to level cap. After a few weeks of playing three, then four, then five games over the course of a week I’ve decided that approach doesn’t work for me. Two seems to be the sweet spot, and that’s where I’m going to try and settle. With a single game I tend to obsess and burn out but playing two at once has helped keep me focused yet balanced. That’s a good place to be. The plan is to have one core game that I will play during the week and one causal game I will play on the weekends still with the intention of reaching level cap in several games.

Since I did end up picking up the Shadow of Revan deal that Bioware was offering for Star Wars: The Old Republic and I am still subscribed to Final Fantasy XIV for another three weeks those are the two games I will be playing. Because the leveling in SWTOR is so much slower when you aren’t a subscriber I’m going to focus on it to try and level as much as I can before the 60 day subscription included in the purchase is up. On the weekends I will play FFXIV until my game time ends and then I need to evaluate whether I want to continue for another month or take a break and play The Elder Scrolls Online instead. At the very least I want to reach level 50 on my Ninja and hopefully get to level 15 on the Conjurer class so I can try healing in a dungeon before my time is up. If in three weeks I’m still really engaged with FFXIV I’ll continue for another month. As with my writing schedule, I’ll give this plan a try for a couple of months and see if it works for me.

Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog, encouraging me to continue, and generally welcoming me to the blogosphere. This has been a great community to be a part of and I look forward to interacting with you all more in the months ahead.

Welcome to Coldharbour: An [un]Helpful guide to your first 3 levels in ESO

So, you’ve decided to vacation in Coldharbour have you? There’s no better place to get away from the troubles of Tamriel like this little slice of Oblivion. Just take a whiff of that musty, foul draft beneath your cell door. Breathtaking, isn’t it?  And while you may already be dead, soulless, and subject to unspeakable horrors, there is so much more of Coldharbour to enjoy! So come along and join us on this unauthorized tour of Oblivion’s little darling,

"Hi, I'm Tour Guide Lyris!"

“Hi, I’m Tour Guide Lyris! Keep your hands, arms, and vital organs inside the carriage at all times. And please, no flash cartography.”

Before we get started, you’ll want to break out of your cell. We’ve sent our seasoned tour guide, Lyris to your door to help with your escape. This striking warrior from the distant tundra of Skyrim is no Nord-inary woman, she was once one of the Five Companions and bodyguard to Emperor Aquilarios. She came to our shores as a guest, but is now an integral member of our hospitality staff. Lyris generously provides every one of our guests with their very own souvenir great sword, useful when those skeletal guards show too much enthusiasm for their responsibilities.

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Before leaving our five star dungeon you may want to spend a few hours with a complimentary masseuse at our luxury day spa. In Coldharbour we do more than simply relieve the tension in your muscles from a long day spent shoeing horses or folding iron, we remove that troublesome tissue completely from the bone! You’ll feel the stress just melt away as our highly trained specialists use “burning embers therapy” on every square inch of your road-weary frame.

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“Care to join me for a bite to eat?”

While there’s plenty to do in Coldharbour solo, this vacation hub is so popular you’re bound to find a friend or two as you exit the dungeon and make your way through our artfully manicured landscaping. Beholding the captivating crags and fallow shores in hues of eerie blue and depressing gray is twice as nice when you have a new companion to share it with! But be careful, some of our guests have been staying with us for so long they may be far hungrier for your company than you are for theirs.*

Looking for a little romance? You may find it here! And don't worry, what happens in Coldharbour, stays in Coldharbour. Mostly because we don't let you leave!

Looking for a little romance? You may find it here! And don’t worry, what happens in Coldharbour, stays in Coldharbour. Mostly because we don’t let you leave!

*(Offers to join other Coldharbour guests for dinner are at the visitor’s discretion. Coldharbour and it’s affiliates cannot be held liable for loss of appetite, sanity, limb, or life while consorting with veteran members of our illustrious resort. Please socialize responsibly).

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As the endless night gives way to… more night you may want to consider one of the entertainment options we offer in Coldharbour. There’s uh, this guy who plays a lute with a pot on his head. (I really hope that’s not a chamber pot he’s wearing.) Caldwell’s one of our oldest staff members, and while his fashion sense may be questionable, his lack of sanity is never in doubt!

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Or enjoy a theatrical performance of light, sound and daedric portals by none other than the troubadour formally known as “The Prophet.” You may also remember him as the lead singer from “Varen and the Argonian Maidservants,” a popular band of traveling minstrels on the Daggerfall tavern circuit from several years ago. If you stay for the finale, you may catch a glimpse of your tour guide Lyris on stage and get a special one on one with “The Prophet.” After the show he’ll lead you through a private tour backstage, where you’ll get a first look at Molag Bal’s revolutionary plans for brining that Coldharbour charm to the rest of Tamriel, the Dark Anchor Initiative, or “DAI” for short.

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“Y’all come back now!”

And that concludes our exclusive look at the lesser known features of the critically acclaimed Coldharbour spa and resort. We’d like to thank all our guests for generously providing us with fresh souls to fuel our Dark Anchor Initiative as we bring the amenities of Oblivion to Tamriel for all to enjoy. Be sure to tell your friends about our lovely corner of Oblivion, and if you ever manage to escape, we hope you’ll come back the next time you need a break from everyday life.