Learning to Play Elder Scrolls at 69.

It’s 10:00 pm and after months of binge watching, Father Brown, Midsomer Murders, Call the Midwife, and Sherlock, I’ve had to find a new series for my mother to watch. She has short-term memory problems so I had the Father Brown series on about 10 times until it moved into her long-term memory. She finally said the words, “I remember this one.” I should probably tell a researcher on the elderly about that.

While she watches I, clean, cook, paint, do some woodwork, listen to podcasts, and play Elder Scrolls. I’m 69 years old and I just learned the joy of this kind of game. I don’t even know the right name for this kind of game. Multi-player is part of it. Maybe role-playing.

My sister from Washington State introduced me to games. She wanted to do something with me since we live far apart. We started with Portal Knights, moved on to Minecraft and then landed on Elder Scrolls Online.

We played the first two games for awhile, but my sister’s wi-fi at her trailer park is quite weak. She got a booster, but still got thrown out of the game time after time, or she would appear with a head and no body, so we had to stop playing those. She said she tried for hours to find us another game but couldn’t find one the two of us could play together. She prayed and God told her, “Elder Scrolls.” She said, “Really!? Okay.” So that’s how we began. ( She’s not crazy; we both think God talks to us.)

It quickly became clear I was very bad at this game. Elder Scrolls loves to keep players in the dark about their rules and how to play the game. Or, if you look at it another way, they have so many pages of tiny writing your eyes start aching and your brain hurting. I can’t read much on the computer anyway, and I’m glad the game doesn’t seem to bother my eyes after we eliminated the blue light. My sister tried to help me, but it was painful for both of us. Her wi-fi also hated Elder Scrolls, so we gave up.
We gave up trying to play together, but I was determined to keep playing myself. There was this one thing I loved about the game: travel and scenery.

I’ve always loved to travel and in Elder Scrolls there are all these islands you can go to. The scenery and architecture of the buildings is different in each place. My favorite part of the game is walking through the woods finding stuff I need in order to make things like weapons, clothing and food. It is lovely and soothing until a white tiger sneaks up from behind, swipes your back and calls all his friends to finish you off.

I’m a wood elf. My sister said that is the best person to be because she likes to stand back and shoot people. But that wasn’t the weapon they gave me at the beginning. They gave her a bow and arrow but gave me a staff that shoots out fire! Oh yeah, I fell in love with it. It worked very well in a fight. Then I saw a different player with a fire staff who banged hers on the ground and the ground became electric, zapping people. Wow! How could I get that!? I got it now, baby.

Honestly, I never thought I would like a game like this, but I think I know why I do. After you finish a quest, after you save some lives, after you kill the bad guys, you feel great. You feel like you have really accomplished something good. After I saved the Queen’s life, people in the different cities said, “Are you the one who saved the Queen?” “Why yes I am.”

You know, I’m glad I can take care of my 92-year-old mom. But do I feel excited, elated and proud of myself like I do in Elder Scrolls? No! That thought does give me pause. I’m not sure what to make of it. What I do know is that I have something exciting to do again and that makes me happy.

So, my mom and I are growing old together, happy as if in our right mind. And one thing is really handy about this time of our lives. In the last five years I’ve become agoraphobic and rarely leave the apartment. My mom is weak and tired and doesn’t want to go anywhere. I mean, how great is that? God works in mysterious ways. But I guess it wasn’t a mystery to him that I would love Elder Scrolls.

Questions from Jesus.

What I have noticed about the questions Jesus asked, is that he invited people to speak their mind honestly. It was up to them what they would say or decide. He didn’t try to talk people into anything; he respects our freedom of choice.

Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”   He said, “Come and see.”  John 1:38

So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Healing. Even when Jesus knew what people wanted, he asked them to tell him first. Even though God knows what we need, he wants us to ask him anyway.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

The woman caught in adultery was probably feeling embarrassed. When she wasn’t stoned to death, and the men walked away, she didn’t speak first. Perhaps her face was red and tear-stained. She probably couldn’t look Jesus in the face. So, in asking a question, it made it easier for her to speak.

 “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”

Many times, Jesus asked people if they believed he was the Messiah, the Son of God. He asked so they could declare openly their belief in him. I have heard that speaking something out loud cements in your mind what you believe.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25,26

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”   John 9:35

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”   And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”   Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Matthew 16:13-16

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Luke 18:19 (In other words, who do you think I am?)

Jesus had hard questions for those who opposed him. They were constantly hounding him with questions and accusing him of having a devil. From what I remember, they were the ones who always started a conversation with Jesus. He didn’t hold back any punches.

“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?   John 8:46

Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you are unable to accept My message.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me!   John 8:43-45

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”   Luke 6:46

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  Matthew 7:3

Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”  They didn’t dare. Mark 11:30

And the last question, one of the saddest, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”   Luke 22:48  I think Jesus was trying to get Judas to think about what he was doing. Jesus would have forgiven Judas, but he just would not repent.

Well, those aren’t all the questions Jesus asked, but those were the ones I remember. What I love about Jesus is his total honesty, singleness of purpose and bravery. I love his respect for the human race in the total freedom he has given us to accept him or not. Most of all, I love his heart of love.

God’s Questions for Us.

Over the years of reading the Bible, I’ve come to appreciate the questions God has asked people. His questions are always deep with meaning and sometimes a call to repentance. I like that he asks people to explain themselves to him. The questions make them either make excuses or say they are sorry.

When man first sinned, God gave him the chance to explain himself. The Bible says, “Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  and later, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”   Genesis 3:9

Instead of repenting, Adam and Eve blamed each other and the serpent. But God was merciful to them. The next person God questioned was Cain.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”   Genesis 4:9

God gave Cain a chance to tell him what he had done and repent. He didn’t, in fact, he was flippant about it. This was the first human death and it was a murder. God gave him a punishment, but when Cain complained about it, God helped him.

Moses didn’t want to go back to Egypt to bring God’s people out of slavery. He made many excuses, and one of them was that he was not an eloquent speaker. God wouldn’t accept any of his excuses and asked him this:

Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?   Exodus 4:11  God is telling him to trust him because he is the mighty God who can do anything.

Balaam was a prophet of God. But as Israel was coming into the promised land, King Balak of Midian, asked him to come and curse the Israelites. He was afraid of them because he knew they were coming to take his land. When the messengers came to ask Balaam to do this he said he would ask God what to do. God told him, “No.”  The men went and told the king his answer, but he sent them again with more money. Balaam told them to stay another night and he would ask again.

And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?”   Numbers 22:9

Balaam explained and God gave an answer Balaam didn’t like. He ended up chasing the messengers and going to King Balak. His heart had become greedy.

Job, the man of God who suffered the loss of all things, questioned God. He didn’t understand why God was letting all these terrible things happen to him. God’s question is a stark one.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Job 38:4

This was a question to make Job think about whom he was questioning. God is Almighty, all-knowing, all-seeing. Can we humans make a flower out of nothing? No. But God can. Look at the vastness of the universe. Look at what God can do and what he has made. Study the human body and how it works and you will be in awe.

We may not like this question and answer of God’s; but that’s too bad. Lol.

Jonah was the prophet God sent to the wicked city of Ninevah. They were a brutal nation, killing thousands of people to take their lands. God told Jonah to go there and tell them he was going to destroy them. Jonah didn’t want to and ran away, but later he went since God wouldn’t let him get away with that.

The people of Ninevah repented! How wonderful! Jonah should have been happy, but he wasn’t. He probably hated these people and also thought he might be considered a false prophet. God asked him a question to teach him compassion:

“And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left (this means children), and also much cattle?”  Jonah 4:11

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets in the Bible. But he ran away in fear when Queen Jezebel threatened him with death. He was in the wilderness and tired and asked God to take his life. Instead, God sent an angel to give him food, water and comfort. Elijah was wandering in the wilderness for 40 days.

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”   1 Kings 19:9  I love this question. Elijah told God about all his troubles. But God told him he still had many people in Israel who still worshiped him. He told Elijah to go back, and he did. Eventually, he was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. Good old Elijah.

These are some of God’s questions in the Old Testament. I’m going to continue next post about the questions Jesus asked of People.

Who Am I in this Divided Universe?

Photo by Lycaon Nabla.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

After years of being a Christian, and learning that I could do nothing truly good without Jesus, I wondered then wo I was in the mix of good and evil.

The Bible says we are slaves to sin. Slaves have no choice to be a slave or not.

 “We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

So, I thought, “If, when I am born, I am a slave to sin, which I believe is true, and then become a slave or servant of God, then who am I really?

I read something recently that I think has answered this question. Someone wrote, “God will make you into the person he created you to be.” The Bible also says that he created me in the womb of my mother.

So, God created me as a beautiful, innocent baby. I was also a unique baby. There was none other like me. He looked on me with love and compassion. He gave me certain gifts and abilities.

But after I was born, my mind and heart were slowly shaped by the world I was in. And because there was evil, because of the first sin, then my mind was bent towards evil. Then my parents made mistakes, my father abused me, my sister was jealous of me, kids at school were mean to me, I attended a church that shaped my thinking about who God was, and I was afraid of him.

So, there I was, an adult with warped thinking. Was that who God created me to be? No. He created me to walk with him and be his child. He created me to have joy, peace and love. He created me to love and help others.

He also gave me freedom to choose him as my father or to say, “No, thanks.” He put his light inside me so that I knew what was right or wrong and let me choose what I wanted in my life. He never forced me, but he called me:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore, I have drawn you with loving kindness.  Jeremiah 31:3

“The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world.”  John 1:9

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

“Look, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  Revelation 3:20

I understand who I am now and am content. More than content, I am thrilled to be God’s child. It isn’t easy for those who are afraid of God to learn a new way of thinking about him; but it is possible through prayer and Bible study. Learning about God and why we are here is a life-long journey, but such a wonderful one.

Suicidal Thoughts.

The first time I had suicidal thoughts was when I was 14. I had moved from middle school into high school. I had never felt comfortable in school or around people. School had been a slow torture for me from kindergarten.

There was a guy in school that I liked and I found out he liked me. He asked to take me to a hayride the school was sponsoring. I said yes, even though I was terrified. It was to be my first real date. I bought a beautiful blouse to wear. But the date was a disaster because I couldn’t speak. I answered his questions with one-word syllables and never asked him a thing. Eventually, he gave up trying to talk with me.

Later, at home, I realized what I had done and felt hopeless. The thought of going back to school and seeing him again and telling my girlfriends what had happened was too much. I took all my brother’s sleeping pills. They pumped my stomach and my parents took me out of school. They also sent me to a psychologist.

I was home-schooled by a government teacher and got straight A’s. I felt happy not having to try to cope with school. But by the end of that school year, they said I could go back to a regular school. I went back, and I did make some good friends. I got in trouble with my father though because in our church dancing was a sin, and he kept finding out I went to dances. He beat me with a belt. When I was young, he had sexually molested me, but I had somehow forgotten all that.

So, at seventeen, I was depressed about my life. I remember saying to myself, “No one in the whole world loves me.”  And it was true. So, I drove to a cliff and was going to drive off of it. But I was too scared to die that way. I went home, went in my parent’s bedroom and stole money from my father’s wallet. I was going to run away and maybe find love somewhere else. But My father heard me and stopped me. Instead, they sent me away to relatives in Canada. I got a job and friends and felt better.

The last time I wanted to kill myself was a few years ago when my husband and I moved out of our daughter’s house into our own apartment. I had been babysitting their daughter who has OCD. She was 14 and didn’t need me anymore. But I wasn’t prepared for the deep depression that came upon me like a black cloud.

I was depressed because I was lonely and also sick. Because of my illness, I couldn’t leave the apartment. I was terribly lonely; I barely saw my daughters and grandchildren. I hated my new life so I decided to put a stop to it. I took my husbands sleeping pills and passed out on the living room floor. He found me like that and an ambulance took me to the hospital where I was saved once again. He only had 10 pills left, so they just put me in a bed where I hallucinated for hours and eventually became normal.

I have told some of this story before, but I heard something on a podcast last night that brought it all back to me. The podcast is: The Zeitcast with Jonathan Martin. The topic was: Religious Trauma, Depression, & Suicide in the Church. One of the things his guest, Tony Caldwell, said was wonderful. He said something like, “When someone wants to kill themselves, something has to die alright, but not the person. It is the thoughts that make you want to kill yourself.”  Yes! Just wow! If only depressed people knew this was possible. We can change our thinking! We just have to learn how.

What helped me the most when I was depressed, besides therapy, and writing a journal, was reading this, “If you want to kill yourself, it is because you love that thing you are killing yourself over more than you love God.” I am a Christian, and I’ve been one since I was 19. I was sure I loved God more than anyone, but I was wrong. I knew God wouldn’t want me to kill myself, but I didn’t care. I was horribly lonely and hated my life the way it was, therefore, I loved my family more than God. I wanted them more than I wanted God. That is where my heart was.

So, I turned to God and said, “Well, Lord, it is just you and me now. I pray you will give me some purpose and something to live for. He did. He came close to me with comfort. I spent more time praying, especially when sad feelings came. I asked him to find things for me to do, and he did. I started painting and woodworking. I finally had a reason to get out of bed. Slowly, I became happy and now I feel full of joy almost all the time. Whenever I start feeling sad, I praise God out loud and quote the Bible. The feeling of joy returns. This is a daily struggle, but now that I know God always comes through for me, I never, ever feel hopeless.

I used to feel like such a misfit. I used to feel I didn’t belong. But God has shown me I am exactly the person he wants me to be and I always was because he has been with me, helping me. I now see my weakness as a great asset, for it has brought me to him and shown me how much I need him. Suffering has also made me sympathetic towards others.

After God refused to heal Paul of a “thorn” in his life he wrote, 

“He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.  That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9,10

I Am.

The disciples of Jesus were in trouble. There was a storm on the Sea of Galilee. The boat was tossed and shaken when they saw someone walking on the water towards them. It was Jesus who said,

“Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.’ Mark 6:50

This passage has been translated multiple times as, “It is I.”  This week, I read that the original Greek says, “I am.

Jesus said, “I am. Do not be afraid.” The same two Greek words that Jesus used when he said, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” He was calling himself the divine name of God.

For me, this makes what he said as he walked on the sea more powerful. The sea and its waves belonged to him. He created them, he created us, he is all-knowing, all-seeing. How could we be afraid in the presence of the great “I Am.”

I’m aware we don’t know the actual Hebrew spelling of God’s name. They thought his name was too holy to speak so they left out the vowels of his name. But God never told them to do this. But we do know the meaning. I wonder if we could call him, “I Am.” Or at least think of him this way much more often. It is the name he used to describe himself. It seems to me we should honor that.

“I Am,” gives me the feeling he is here, right now with me. Everything we know in this life dies, but his name means he is always here, always was here and always will be here. If we look up to the mountains and think, “I Am,” won’t we think, “Yes, you made these amazing mountains with all the life that is in them.”

As I write, I’m thinking how we are just like the disciples who never seemed to get what Jesus was talking about. It must have been frustrating for Jesus. And I think how God actually gave us his name, but we keep saying, “God.” Not that it is wrong, but wouldn’t it be great to say to people, “I worship, I Am.” They would say, “Huh?” Quite a great conversation would ensue, wouldn’t it? Maybe we have really missed the boat on this one.

What I Learned this Week from Podcasts.

 I have written before about the podcasts I follow. I thought I would update the list since I have found quite a few more that help me in my walk with God. Then I will share a few things I have learned just this week from podcasts.

Your Daily Prayer Podcast

Jesus Over Everything

The Messy Table with Jenn Jewell

Go and Tell Gals

Everything Happens with Kate Bowler

Son of a Preacher Man

Passion City Church DC (Ben Stuart Pastor)

Prayers for Your Day

That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs

The Bible Binge

Jesus Calling Podcast

Behind the Scenes

From the list, it probably looks like I listen to podcasts all day, but most of these podcasts only post once or twice a week, sometimes less than that. I like to listen to a few every day.

So, what touched me this week? I won’t name the podcast or the speaker because when I made notes, I didn’t jot that down. And these are not verbatim quotes, just the general idea of what the person was saying.

Inner peace is a struggle, a daily battle. It won’t come without a fight. Peace and hope are essential.” I have found this true for me. The struggle has included more prayer and believing God will do it for you if you ask. Don’t get discouraged and don’t get tired of asking for peace and hope. When Jesus said, “Ask for anything in my name and I will give it to you,” he wasn’t talking about a new car, house or job. He was talking about spiritual gifts. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Do we believe that? I didn’t. Now, I do.

Someone said, “The fact is that we humans have never seen peace between all nations or all the hungry fed, yet some of us want this and work towards it. Where did these ideals come from since we have never seen it? God.” Sometimes I think this is the greatest argument for the existence of a God.

One man told a story of how he was working 7 days a week as a pastor, overloaded and stressed. His back was seriously injured and he had to lay face-down for at least a month. They were not sure if his back would heal and he couldn’t have surgery. So, he lay there day after day watching movies on his laptop, but naturally he grew bored. He turned the laptop off and just lay there. He heard God speak to his mind saying, “Are you ready to talk now?” Lol. (I find God so funny sometimes.)

Anyway, he said he and God talked and talked and God showed him how essential rest was to the human mind and body. Before the injury, this pastor had not delegated work to others; he had done it all himself. He found out he didn’t have to do that. He saw his life had been one of unmitigated stress.

The Lord showed him the wisdom of having a Sabbath day and why that was created along with everything else. If we don’t rest, we will eventually fall apart. My father told me once, “If it weren’t for the Sabbath, I think I’d be dead by now.” He was a workaholic. He hated holidays, because all the businesses were closed. And the pastor? He went to physio and gradually, slowly, his back healed.

I appreciate podcasts so much, because I have sight problems and can’t read on the computer for long. It is wonderful to lie in bed with my tablet and just listen. These Christians are doing a wonderful work for God and I thank him for that all the time.

Be A Servant.

I was listening to a podcast the other day, the topic of which was, “Leadership.”I almost skipped it to move on to the next topic, because I am not a leader, either in the world or in the church. But I’m glad I listened, because his interpretation on what “Leadership” is was very interesting.

He quoted scripture and then concluded that leadership is “serving.” He said those in leadership of the church are to be servants to the believers.

Luke 22:25-27: And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

So, how was Jesus a, “servant among us?”

When anyone asked Jesus to heal them, he healed them. When people were hungry, he fed them. He walked from town to town teaching the truth to crowds of people. He prayed for us. He turned no one away. He bore the cross, despising the shame of it. He washed our feet.

Matt. 20:27-28: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 Mark 10:44-45 “And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Jesus said these things about desiring to be first because quite often the disciples argued about this. They thought Jesus was going to establish an earthly kingdom; they wanted in on the power of that kingdom. They all desired to be first. James and John’s mother even petitioned Jesus to put her sons at his right and left hand in the new kingdom. Jesus said, “You don’t know what you are asking for.”

Desires can trip us up. Desires can make us discontented. Desires can lead to sin. My sister and I once studied the word, “lust” and how it is used in the Bible. It simply means wrong desires.

 Jesus is saying the desire to be first is wrong. It is wrong because it means others are below you and then, at the tail end, there is the person who is last. Like the guy/gal who was chosen last for the baseball team; that kind of “last.”

In God’s eyes, those who are looked down on, those who struggle through life, those who go quietly through life being a servant to others, will be first in the kingdom of God.

But what did Jesus mean when he told the story of the farmer who hired works for his vineyard? He kept hiring men all day and then paid them all the same wage at the end of the day. The workers who worked longer were angry. They thought they should be paid more. Jesus said they weren’t going to get more. The last shall be first and the first last again. But they were given the same amount of money. Eternal life will be given to all who believe in God. So those who will be in heaven will be equal in living forever.

I think Jesus is warning Christians, “Don’t think so much of yourself and your work for God. Don’t think you are better than regular Christians who work at gas stations, stores or are full-time moms. I think Jesus is saying God looks at the ordinary person as someone equal to Billy Graham or Elijah.

I guess being humble is the gist of it all. It would be hard to stay humble if you are a pastor of a church and everyone is praising you about your sermons. It would be hard to be humble if you run a successful business. It must be hard for popular singers to be humble. Actually, it is hard for anyone to be humble! All of us have the temptation to look down on certain other people. But if we can look at ourselves as slaves or servants to these people, then this would help us to be humble.