Gen Con 2018

Gen Con is America’s largest tabletop game convention, and draws over 60,000 visitors. It began 50 years ago in Lake Geneva (hence the “Gen”) by Gary Gygax (one of the creators of Dungeons & Dragons), and has grown and moved over the years.

Gen Con Crowd

Waiting for the exhibit hall to open
(photo by R. Talsorian Games)

Hundreds of companies sell their board games, card games, roleplaying games, dice, costumes, movies, books, and anything else that the crowd is interested in. I used to own a game publishing company and ran multiple booths there for several years.

Christian Gamers Guild

I’m probably best known by many Gen Con attendees as the guy that leads the Sunday morning Christian worship service, and the Friday panel discussion about Christianity and Gaming, under the auspices of the Christian Gamers Guild.

The first time I held the panel, it even included Gary Gygax (a few months before he passed), talking about the origins of D&D. (Thanks to Geek Preacher for the video.)

Our church service for the past few years gets about as many as we can fit in the room, so the organizers schedule us in one hotel ballroom to another, as the logistics allow. This year, we had around 200. Tom Vasel, of The Dice Tower, preached for us again.

Gen Con Church Service 2018

The Christian Gamers Guild‘s church service
(click for video clip)

Games

I ran three roleplaying game sessions, and played in one.

Champions: Bring Your Own Brick is the trickiest game for me to run. Players bring superhero characters, and my job is to give them a plot, some opposition, and some resolution. It’s tricky because I never know what the characters will be like. As superheroes, they could be magic, technological, aliens, mutants, animals, or anything else. This time, I went with a scavenger hunt / race structure, like a cross between It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and Avengers: Infinity War.

Meep on the Borderland is the funniest game for me to run. Muppets take on the role of fantasy characters. Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, and a dozen others rescue kidnapped colleagues from all manner of evil creature (also played by muppets). We open up the game by singing the theme song, because of course we do. Everyone laughs and laughs throughout the game. (Read more, see the art, and download the character sheets here.)

Cereal Killers: Night of the Living Crunch is the strangest game for me to run (which is saying a lot). Breakfast cereal mascots like Cap’n Crunch and Tony the Tiger claw their way through grim and gritty adventures. What makes it strange is that despite the inherent silliness of the concept, it’s all played with a straight face. My friend Joe Linehan came up with the idea, and put the crew through adventures like Watchmen. I liked the idea so much, I’ve run a few of my own, and this year faced them off against the living dead. (Download the character sheets that fold into or around fun-size cereal boxes here.)

Can of Whupass Victory

Can of Whupass Victory
(click for video clip)

Can of Whupass is the game I look forward to playing every year. It’s an annual last-man-standing event of pop culture comedy mashups. Characters like Christopher Walken: Texas Ranger, Stephen J. Hawkman, Farley Quinn, General Grievous and Butthead, Bizarrobama, Dr. Zeuss, Hellboy Wonder, Popeye the Sailor Moon, and Elon Musketeer. I won this year! As a reward/punishment for winning, all the other players and organizers “crown” me (and my teammate Mike) with Silly String.

Costumes

I saw hundreds of costumes. Some were funny, some were incredible, some were cute, and several that surprised me. My favorite one was a blind woman who dressed as Poison Ivy (or a plant spirit, dryad, or similar leafy being). She wore green clothing with leaves, branches, and such, and her white cane was also covered in leaves! I’ve seen some great costumes for people in wheelchairs, but I think this is the first time I’d ever seen a blind cosplayer.

 

 

Movies

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

I taught a lesson at church about why movies can be an effective tool to share the gospel.

My Favorites

There are dozens of movies that I’ve watched over and over. I have several friends that could have a long coversation with, using noting but movie quotes.

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite films, in no particular order…

Sci-Fi & Action

The Matrix (reality is not actually real), The Fifth Element (an action movie that becomes a comedy), Serenity (a misfit space crew saves the galaxy from itself), Buckaroo Banzai (genius rock-star/surgeon/adventures fight interdimensional aliens), 12 Monkeys (the past isn’t what it used to be), Hackers (cheesy, but many of the personalities are relatable), The Hunt for Red October (an invisible submarine is defeated through song), The Lord of the Rings (friendship is stronger than evil), Army of Darkness (a smartass with a chainsaw hand kills zombies), The Princess Bride (death cannot defeat love), V for Vendetta (the only real prison is the one we believe), Fight Club (we can be our own worst enemy), A Knight’s Tale (a man can change his stars), Big Trouble in Little China (the hero doesn’t realize he’s actually just the sidekick)

Comedy & Inspiration

The Court Jester (we can be who we want to be), Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (look at life with a sense of wonder), The Gods Must be Crazy (we must walk a mile in our neighbor’s shoes, or bare feet as appropriate), UHF (sometimes you have to grab life by the lips and yank as hard as you can), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (shh! it’s only a model), Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (the best place is here and the best time is now), Clue (), The Frisco Kid (I am God’s child even in the mud or on my butt), The Wizard of Speed and Time (nothing can stop the creative spirit), The Truman Show (every life is amazing if we’d only look), Apollo 13 (failure is not an option), Raising Arizona (we all can have a second chance), The Hudsucker Proxy (career matters, but love matters more), O Brother Where Art Thou (family is worth sacrificing for)

…and many more.

Movie Popularity

According to the latest statistics, people go out to the movies a lot. Here’s a breakdown of how many movies people see in theaters each year, by age group.

2-11: 3.4, 12-17: 6.5, 18-24: 6.7, 25-39: 4.4, 40-49: 3.6, 50-59: 3.0, 60+: 2.4 (Source: MPAA)

So the average 50-year old has seen around 225 movies over those years.

Netflix streaming service has grown incredible since it started in 2012, reaching just over 250 million households worldwide, as of early 2018 (which is also roughly the number of households in America). (Source: Bloomberg)

We, as a people, see so many movies. This gives us a lot of common reference points.

Movie Sermons

So far, I have preached full sermons about three specific movies.

They Live (1988, directed by John Carpenter, Starring Roddy Piper, Keith David, and Meg Foster)

A wanderer finds sunglasses that reveal the world the way it truly is. Subliminal messages keep the population subdued. Our leaders are secretly aliens bent on world domination.

They Live was the first movie sermon I preached. I was at a horror movie convention, and John Carpenter was one of the guests. Since They Live is my favorite of his films (not necessarily the best, I’ll be the first to admit, but still my favorite), I chose that as my sermon topic. A man learns of the beings that are secretly controlling us through subliminal messages, thanks to some lenses that he found at a church. He uses this knowledge to recruit others, and to directly confront evil. This is not a family film, by any stretch, but it has a solid message.

Ghostbusters (1984, directed by Ivan Reitman, starring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and Sigourney Weaver)

A team of scientists lose their cushy jobs at a university in New York City, and become “ghostbusters” to wage a high-tech battle with the supernatural for fun and profit.

I preached about Ghostbusters at Wizard World Comic Con, not because it’s my favorite movie, but because of a friend. Ryan E Kemp founded the Western Kentucky Ghostbusters. He loved the optimism and enterprise that the movie’s heroes showed, and wanted to bring that excitement and positivity to those around him. He died three years ago, when he was driving to a children’s hospital to dress as a Ghostbuster and cheer up the sick kids. At first, I was stunned, and wondered what are the odds of dying while doing something like that. But then I realized that the odds weer actually pretty high, in his case. He did that a lot. It got me wondering about how often I spend time doing something that I’d like to be remembered for, if I were to die that instant. Frankly, they weren’t as high as I’d have liked. Kemp’s wonderful example helped me (and just about everyone he ever met) to be a better person.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, starring Robert Downey Jr, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris Pratt)

The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and other Marvel superheroes unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet. Thanos plans to collect six Infinity Stones, so he can kill half the entire universe with a snap of his fingers.

When I preached about Infinity War at the Lexington Comic Con, the movie hadn’t come to theaters yet, but was just a month away. Congoers eagerly anticipated the movie, so the timing was opportune. The local FOX News station even filmed my sermon for the Spirit of the Bluegrass segment.

 

Touchstones

Besides movies, there are may other common experiences that we can use to reach our neighbor.

Games

I’ve preached about Settlers of Catan (at a board game convention), Pokemon Go (at a game convention), Football (on Superbowl Sunday), and Dungeons & Dragons (at a science fiction/gaming convention).

Sci-Fi & Action

I’ve preached about pirates (at an author convention), monsters and aliens (at a science fiction convention), zombies (at a horror convention), blood and gore (at a horror convention), and superheroes (at a comic convention).

Comedy & Inspiration

I’ve preached about costumes (at a costume convention), outer space (at a science convention), tattoos (at a tattoo convention), and creativity (at a creative writing convention), humor (okay, that was at a science fiction convention, but it was April Fools Day), and music (okay, that wasn’t at a music event, but it was still cool).

Common Ground

I like to focus on the things that I have in common with my audience. To that end, I often pick a sermon topic that’s directly related to the interest at hand. Instead of trying to get people to disengage from what interests them so they can engage with the Word, my usual approach is to find the ways that what they’re currently engaged is already part of God’s story and purpose for our lives.

My Story

Apart from movies, games, and other potentially common points of interest, there’s another story that I always have up my sleeve. That’s my story. People can argue with me about religion, history, philosophy, politics, science, and just about anything else, but the one thing that no one can refute is my story. I know my life, because I was there.

I’ve done a lot of things and been a part of a lot of things in my life.

Arts

I sported an orange mohawk when I was a part of the punk and new wave scene. I hosted a weekly radio show for years about punk rock and comedy. (What, do punk and comedy seem like different things to you?) I founded the Men Without Hats fan club, over 30 years ago. I help organize a music industry event each year. I’ve been on TV and film. I’ve designed for a living. I write for Nerd Louisville. I make my own costumes. I’ve written for newspapers and magazines. I’ve created crosswords professionally. I ran a publishing company which published hundreds of books for dozens of authors. And much more.

Science

I wrote space shuttle software for NASA when I was just a teenager. I worked in bioterrorism for Homeland Security. (I can neither confirm nor deny that I’ve worked for other intelligence agencies that I can’t tell you about, or I’d have to kill you.) I’ve programmed video games. I’ve spoken at dozens of database conferences. I volunteer at global hackathons, and even host some. I’ve founded a technology conference. I ply cybersecurity, and speak at those events. I’m the calendar coordinator at my city’s largest online technology collective. I’ve taught Alexa new skills. And much more.

Education/Community

I’ve taught at college. I’ve founded startups and mentor in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. I’ve won two DTMs (Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest award from Toastmasters International). I dabble in improv comedy, and frequently bring those principles to other areas of my life. And much more.

Ministry

I bring God with me wherever I go. This includes my favorite oddball ministries, which reach out to the freaks, geeks, and weirdos. My people. I co-teach a class at the largest church in Kentucky. I preach on behalf of the Christian Gamers Guild, and have served as its VP for many years. I served a Sector Commander at Fans For Christ until the organization disbanded. I game with Jesus at Game Church. I punk out with the goths at the Grave Robbers ministry. And much more.

My story

I… I… I… I.

That’s a lot of I stuff. And that’s only a selection of some of the larger areas of my life. If I have nothing else in my metaphorical toolbox to help me build a bridge to someone, I’ve always got my story with me. The Bible tells us to always be  ready to give a reason for the hope that we have.

Reaching Others

Jesus GauntletChrist’s last words before he ascended to heaven, often called the Great Commission, were:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. (Matt 28:19)

Those words were not just meant for the people standing around him at the time; they also apply to us. We are told to bring the good news of Christ’s sacrifice to everyone. But it’s not only a matter of telling — it’s also teaching.

Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah. “Do you understand what you are reading?” he asked. “How can I,” he asked, “unless someone explains it to me?”
So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:30)

Those who encounter the gospel won’t make heads nor tails of it without a guide. We are also told to help the people to obey.

How can they call on the One if they do not believe? How can they believe if they have not heard? How can they hear without someone to preach? How can they preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:14)

The first step is always to take a step. Any step. We won’t accomplish much in life just sitting on the couch. By spending time with people, and building the relationships which are begin based in common cultural reference points like movies and games, we can teach them the Truth.

I have become all things to all men so that by any means some may be saved. (1 Cor 9:22)

The Apostle Paul traveled to many cities to start churches. The first people he’d talk to are those who were already churchgoers, but then he’d go to the cultural centers. He talked to the Greek philosophers in the manner they were most accustomed to, standing in the public forum to explain his ideas. He talked with workers while he himself plied his own trade as a tent-maker (a tentist? did he go to tental school?). He even preached to prison guards while he was shackled to them. To paraphrase the Watchmen movie/comic out of context, “I’m not chained here to you. You’re chained here to me!” Way to make lemonade, Paul.

Stories

Our God is a God that tells stories. Around one third of Jesus’ recorded words are parables (he told 46 of them). A list of facts and figures can easily be forgotten. A list of do’s and don’t’s can easily be disregarded. But a story can last for centuries. We share a culture of movies, television, songs, artwork, and games. We can use those stories as the foundation for sharing the true story of God’s love and our redemption through His Son’s sacrifice.

Download

You can download the PowerPoint slides here.

 

Gen Con Mission Fundraiser

If you’d like to support my mission to Gen Con, you can donate here.

Gaming Mission Fund

My annual mission trip to the Gen Con game convention brings the gospel to hundreds of gamers.

Your donation helps me with travel expenses and supplies.

Together, we can expand the kingdom for the Lord of Hosts.

Learn More…

Here’s a FOX network news featurette on the kind of ministry that I do.

And a look at other odd ministries that I work with.

 

 

Bible Humor

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

I preached the Easter Sunday sermon at ConGlomeration science fiction convention. Since Easter this year also fell on April Fools Day, I preached about humor in the Bible.

Purpose

Like all things, humor has a purpose.

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. (1 Cor 1:27)
Joyful heart is good medicine, crushed spirit dries the bones. (Prov 17:22)
For the happy heart, life is a continual feast. (Prov 15:15)

Humor is often a natural expression of joy. We laugh when we’re happy, even without an obvious humorous stimulus.

The role of the court jester or “fool” was not only to entertain with dance, music, and comedy but also to give bad news to the ruler. In Shakespearean plays, the jester is often the voice of common sense and honesty, pointing out the follies of those in higher stations.

There’s a meme series about God brainstorming various creatures…

Spiders: give it 8 eyes and 8 legs, with a butt-rope

Panda: take that cow and make it a bear

Alligator: see that log? fill it with teeth

Walrus: a dog bear fish with sabretooth tiger teeth

Snakes: just a really throat, and an angry face

Octopus: 8 super-strong floppy arms with suction cups

Hippo: a sneaky fat water horse

Parrot: a tie-dye chicken that scream real words

Bats: a hairy flying potato, make it blind and screeching

Kittens: fluffy adorable like furry hugs, with razor feet

Jellyfish: how about an evil floating bag

Bees: flying furball with a butt-needle, and yummy puke

Timing

“Ask me the secret to telling a good joke.”
“What’s the secr–”
“TIMING!”

[There is] a time to weep, and a time to laugh. (Ecc 3:4)
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. (Lk 6:21)
Our mouths are filled with laughter, and our tongues filled with joy, for the Lord has done great things for us. (Ps 126:2)
The godly wife is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. (Prov 31:25)
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice! (Ps 32:11)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Phil 4:4)

For a long time, Philippians 4:4 was my favorite verse (and at times it still is), since I would occasionally suffer from depression. Paul wanted us to carry God’s joy so much that he said it twice in the same verse!

Source

All things come from somewhere. Humor comes from our minds and our hearts.

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Lk 6:45)
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (Prov 15:13)
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. (Job 8:21)

If the joy of the Lord is in us, joy should be coming out of us.

You’re Doing It Wrong

In my teenage years, I used to swear a lot. Then I got a job on the radio. That’ll clear up your language in a hurry! Since then, I’ve never had a real cause to go back to vulgarity. There’s rarely a real reason. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, I say “Ow!” If I feel the need to add “colorful metaphors” (as Spock would say), I often tilt it toward comedy, and use Yosemite Sam’s “rassin’ frassin’.”

Let there be no filthiness, foolish talk, nor crude joking, which are out of place; but rather thanksgiving. (Eph 5:4)
Let your speech always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Col 4:6)
Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief. (Prov 14:13)
Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” (Prov 26:18)

There’s an old saying that there’s a little truth in every joke. I know a lot of people who tell jokes that belittle a group of people. It could be based on race, gender, nationality, or any other group. I don’t generally go for the “us versus them” kind of humor, where the same bad joke could be told about anyone just by swapping out who the target group is. We can’t tell a racist, sexist, or (fill-in-the-blank)-ist joke unless those feelings are somewhere inside us.

Biblical Examples

There are example of humor throughout the Bible.

Example: Sarcasm

Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to a divine showdown. His God (Yahweh) and their god (Baal) would try to set fire to a pile of wood. Baal’s people spent hours loudly praying, dancing, cutting themselves, and otherwise trying to call on their god to burn the wood. Elijah trash talked them.

Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:27)

Maybe your god is taking a dump. Potty humor, right there.

Example: Absurdism

Look Stupid

Balaam was a pagan priest who was hired to curse God’s people. An angel (that he couldn’t see) stood in his donkey’s path. Balaam whipped his animal, trying to get it to move, then God gave the donkey the ability to speak.

The Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, to say, “What have I done to you, to make you have strike me three times?”
Balaam shouted, “You made me look like a fool!” (Num 22:28-29)

Balaam’s response wasn’t “Holy cow, a talking donkey!” or anything of that sort. He immediately fell into arguing with this talking beast, and accusing it of making him look like a fool.

Example: Slapstick

This unlikely situation could fit perfectly into a sitcom or Charlie Chaplin movie.

Peter was in prison, so the church was praying for him. An angel of the Lord appeared, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. He went to the house and Peter knocked, and Rhoda came to the door. She was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it. (Acts 12:5,7,12-14)

“Hey, open the door! Let me in!” *knock*knock*

Jokes from Jesus

Humor in the Jewish culture at the time was largely based on exaggeration.

Here are some bits that Jesus threw into his speeches:

  • a camel in the eye of a needle (Mk 10:25)
  • a plank in a person’s eye (Mt 7:3)
  • the blind leading the blind into a hole (Mt 15:14)
  • giving a son a snake instead of a fish (Lk 11:11)
  • putting pearls on pigs (Mt 7:6)
  • being born a second time (Jn 3:3)
  • forgiving seventy times seven (Mt 18:22)
  • nicknaming flaky Simon a rock (Mt 16:18)

The Last Laugh

The wicked may seem to benefit for a while, here on Earth, but their time is limited.

But the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. (Ps 37:13)
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Ps 2:4)

God himself laughs at the wicked, for He knows that they will pay for their sins.

Fools

Henny Youngman used to say, “I used to be an atheist, but I gave it up since they have no holidays.” As a former atheist myself, I can relate.

A friend of mine pointed out that atheists technically do have a holiday:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Ps 14:1)
He who trusts his own mind is foolish, but he who walks in wisdom is safe. (Prov 28:26)

Atheists are fools, so April 1 is a day that we can reserve for them.

This gives Jesus’ words in Matthew on a more serious meaning:

Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Mt 5:22)

Calling someone a fool in this context is the equivalent of telling them to go to hell.

Condemning people is not our job. That position has already been filled. There is no vacancy there.

Download

You can download the PowerPoint slides here.

 

Infinity War

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

This sermon looks at the Infinity War plotline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, through a gospel lens. I preached this at Lexington Comic & Toy Con 2018.

Infinity Stones

Infinity StonesIn Guardians of the Galaxy, Taneleer Tivan (also known as The Collector) explains what the stones are:

“Before creation itself, there were six singularities. Then the universe exploded into existence, and the remnants of these systems were forged into concentrated ingots — Infinity Stones.”

Here’s what the stones are, and where we’ve seen them in the movies:

  • Space Stone (Tesseract)Tesseract
  • exist in any location
  • move any object anywhere throughout reality
  • teleport self and others to any place imagined
  • warp or rearrange space
  • alter distance between objects
  • At full potential — omnipresence
  • Reality Stone (Aether)Aether
  • fulfill wishes, even contradicting scientific laws
  • do things that would normally be impossible
  • create any alternate reality
  • At full potential — alter reality
  • Power Stone (The Orb)
  • access and manipulate all forms of energy
  • enhance physical strength and durabilityOrb
  • boost the effects of the other Stones
  • At full potential — omnipotence
  • Mind Stone (The Vision)
  • enhance mental and psionic abilities
  • access the thoughts and dreams of other beings
  • access all minds in existence simultaneouslyVision
  • At full potential — universal subconscious
  • Time Stone (The Eye of Agamotto)
  • see into the past and the future
  • stop, slow down, speed up or reverse the flow of time
  • time travel
  • change the past and the future
  • age and de-age beingsAgamotto
  • trap people or entire universes in unending loops of time
  • At full potential — omniscience and time control
  • Soul Stone (unknown)
  • steal, control, manipulate, and alter living and dead souls
  • gateway to an idyllic pocket universe
  • At full potential — control all life

Infinity War

There’s an actual “infinity war” going on here in the real world. All eternity is at stake, for all of mankind.

Our enemy is Satan, who has already lost Heaven, and wants to drag us to the depths with him.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

God’s Infinity Stones

Jesus GauntletOkay, so God doesn’t have the fictional infinity stones, but he doesn’t need them. He already has all their powers.

  • Space No one can hide where I cannot see them. I am everywhere in heaven and on earth. (Jeremiah 23:24)
  • Reality In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
  • Power Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)
  • Time “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come.” (Revelation 1:9)
  • Mind Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. (Psalm 147:5)
  • Soul Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the parent and the soul of the child is mine: the soul who sins shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4)

But the war is already won, on our behalf!

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)

The devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

Download

You can get a copy of the PowerPoint slides here.

Video

You can see FOX Lexington’s news story and video here.

Outer Space

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

This sermon uses outer space to express the love, wonder, and provision of God.

“Space is big. Really big.  You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts next to space.” — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

I preached this at ConGlomeration science fiction convention in Louisville, KY in 2017. A friend of mine, Les Johnson, is NASA’s program director for their solar sail program, and as such was a Guest Of Honor at the convention. We’ve been friends for a few years, and since we’re both Christians and we both have a NASA background (although mine is way old), I decided that an outer space sermon would be cool.

The Hitched Guide to the Galaxy

Since the church is called the bride of Christ, and being married can be known as getting hitched, I titled this one after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a classic science fiction comedy radio-play / novel / game / movie / etc.

I was volunteering at a Star Wars-themed event at the same time, and found a way to make PowerPoint slides do an opening crawl, which was pretty cool. I quoted the Hitchhiker’s Guide for the opening text, since the point it made was fitting for my message.

Sermon Around the Moon

On December 23, 1968, humanity was about to get its first glimpse at the dark side of the moon. Apollo 8 was about to orbit our orbiter. The crew radio’ed this message back to Earth just before they lost communication.

Bill Anders: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Jim Lovell: “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Moon SermonCommander Frank Borman: “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

My God, It’s Full of Stars

The Bible often gets flak for being scientifically inaccurate. But there are some interesting phrases that were written many centuries before mankind understood space.

He sits above the circle of the earth. (Isaiah 40:22)

He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, at the boundary of light and darkness. (Job 26:10)

He hangs the earth on nothing. (Job 26:7)

He made all the stars: Arcturus and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations. (Job 9:9)

Isaiah identifies the Earth as a globe. Job describes the day/night separation as a circle, claims that it’s floating in empty space, and names several heavenly bodies.

A scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist asked, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “The first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger, turtle, who stands directly under him.” “But what does this second turtle stand on?” “It’s turtles all the way down!”

Heaven and Earth

God created everything — whether or not we believe it, whether or not we understand it, whether or not we can even see it.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky above proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. (Psalm 104:5)

The Lord answered Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:1)

He made the universe for the same reason he made us — to glorify and praise Him.

The Final Frontier

As we study astronomy and other sciences, it can be easy to get lost in the details. The facts can distract us from the truth. Just about everything we learn only leads to more questions.

Do not regard the sun, moon, and stars as gods to worship. God your father has given them to all the people on earth. (Deuteronomy 4:19)

What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Since creation, God’s invisible qualities have been clearly seen, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20-21)

The universe that God made is so wondrous, many consider the universe to be the biggest and most powerful thing there is. But the creation is not greater than the Creator.

A friend of mine is a geneticist. As he studied bodies, then organs, then cells, then nuclei, then DNA, and so on, he found God by looking smaller and smaller and smaller.

With my NASA experience, and a long interest in astronomy, I found God as I looked bigger and bigger and bigger.

The Ox-Files

*He later identifies them as cherubim in (Ezekiel 10:15).

Some people wonder if Ezekiel saw extraterrestrials in his wheels within wheels.

In appearance their* form was human, but each of them had four faces. Each of the four had the face of a human being, of a lion, of an ox, and of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:5,10)

They sound pretty weird, I’ll grant. But the four-faced heads can represent four kinds of authority.

  • Mankind has been given domain over the plants and animals on Earth.
  • The lion is known as the king of the beasts.
  • The ox is the strongest domestic animal (“as strong as an ox”).
  • The eagle has been called the lord of the air.

So it’s not a freaky alien — it’s metaphor for complete sovereignty.

To clarify, Ezekiel opens and ends the chapter with this:

I saw visions of God. (Ezekiel 1:1)
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. (Ezekiel 1:28)

Those were visions that described the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. That there’s a lot of prepositional clauses.

“I’m not saying it was cherubim… but it was cherubim.”

Aliens Among Us

There are, however, alien beings here with us.

You might know one, or even be one.

I urge you as strangers and aliens to abstain from sinful desires that battle for your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They admitted that they were strangers and aliens on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)

Obviously, this wasn’t meant to mean space aliens, but to call out that as followers of Christ, our lives should be so distinctive that all can see we’re “not from around here.” Our citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. Earth is just our way-station, our temporary assignment, our airport layover.

Read more about aliens here.

New Heaven

Sure, the universe is cool and all, but that’s just the start.The Hand of God

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. (Revelation 21:1)

The new and improved model is coming.

Well, the improved model is coming, anyway.

Jesus must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised. (Acts 3:21)

I believe that the new heaven and new earth are not separate and distinct from the heaven and earth we have now — they’re the perfected and redeemed heaven and earth.

When sin entered the world, all of creation fell. But God cannot make something that is beyond his redemption.

Just as he is redeeming our souls and giving us perfect bodies, He will redeem the entirety of creation.

“Even old New York was once New Amsterdam. Why they changed it I can’t say. People just liked it better that way.” — Istanbul (Not Constantinople), as popularized by They Might Be Giants

New City

God’s new Jerusalem will be roughly one half the size of America.

I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. (Revelation 21:2)

Its perimeter length and width and height were each 1,400 miles. (Revelation 21:16)

As Winston Zeddemore said in Ghostbusters, “That’s a big Twinkie.”

New Land

Besides having a new enormous city to live in, the redeemed land will flourish.

The desert will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. It will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. (Isaiah 35:1-2)

On each side of the river grew a tree of life, used for medicine to heal the nations. (Revelation 22:2)

Creation is currently in a holding pattern, waiting for the day that God will remove the curse.

“We can make him stronger. Faster. Better. We have the technology.” — The Six Million Dollar Man

New Bodies

I may look like an overweight balding middle-aged guy, but… Well, yeah, I am an overweight balding middle-aged guy, but that’s just temporary.

There will be no more death, mourning, crying, nor pain. No longer will there be any curse, hunger, nor thirst. (Revelation 21:4,22:3,7:16)

The people will no longer be sick and helpless. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the mute will sing, and the lame will leap. (Isaiah 33:24,35:5-6)

Every physical ailment and infirmity will vanish. I’ll actually be able to sing and dance.

New Fun

Heaven won’t be sitting around in the clouds playing harps. Unless you really really enjoy that sort of thing, I guess.

He will fill us with eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11)

In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards, and long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall sing with everlasting joy on their heads. (Isaiah 65:21,22, 51:11)

Many will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 8:11)

We’ll never get bored. Each day will bring new fun, new discoveries, new travel, new work, new food, new friends, and more.

Yes, I have favorite theoretical physicists. Why don’t you?

Come, Let Us Reason Together

As two of my favorite theoretical physicists say…

Albert Einstein: “The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”

Michio Kaku: “It is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”

Download

You can download the PowerPoint slides here.

Additional Reading

Who What Where?

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.Question

This lesson doesn’t teach anything; it only asks. It’s good to periodically review all that we know and that we don’t know.

This is intended as an interactive group participation lesson. Taken as a whole, I’ve tried to organize it to paint a picture of God’s love for us, and what we should do from there.

God

  • Who is God?
  • What is God’s name?
  • What features/qualities does God have?
  • Does God love everyone or just Christians?
  • Does God ever change his mind?
  • Why is God so different in O.T. and N.T.?

Jesus

  • Is Jesus God, partly God, or the Son of God?
  • How do we know Jesus was born/real?
  • How do we know Jesus died? that he rose?
  • Where was Jesus for the three days between?
  • Was Jesus mortal or immortal?
  • Did Jesus perform miracles, or did God?

Holy Spirit

  • What does the Spirit actually do?
  • How/when does the Spirit come into us?
  • Does an identical Spirit live inside each of us?
  • Did the Spirit come to earth before Jesus?
  • Are there still miraculous gifts today?
  • How do we know our gifts?

Prayer

  • Why should we pray?
  • Should we pray the Lord’s Prayer?
  • Does God hear all of our prayers?
  • Does God answer all our prayers?
  • Does God hear the prayers of nonbelievers?
  • How do we know God’s answer?

Heaven and Hell

  • Who goes to heaven? Who goes to hell?
  • What about those who never hear the gospel?
  • What must we do to be saved?
  • How is Jesus the only way to heaven?
  • Are there other nonearthly realms?
  • Will we have physical bodies in heaven?

Church

  • What is the church?
  • What should the church be/do?
  • Who’s in charge of the church?
  • What makes Christianity different?
  • Why are there so many denominations?
  • Which denomination are we?

Us / People

  • Who are we?
  • Why did God make us?
  • Why did God die for us?
  • What happens when we die?
  • Why do we have troubles?
  • Do we have a truly free will?

The Bible

  • What is the Bible?
  • Who wrote the Bible?
  • How was the Bible assembled?
  • Why are there so many translations?
  • Are there/can there be errors in the Bible?
  • How did people know God before the Bible?

More Questions

To find more questions to consider, check out these great resources:

Download

You can get a copy of the PowerPoint slides PowerPoint slides here.

Winter Quest

This weekend, I went to www.Winter-Quest.com, a charity comic-con to benefit the homeless in Louisville.

Comic-Con for the Homeless?Hotel Louisville

The event was held at Wayside Christian Mission‘s Hotel Louisville.

Wayside is a homeless shelter that has been in Louisville for many years. A good friend of mine runs the “Samaritan Patrol” for them, delivering coffee, sandwiches, coats, and such to the homeless camps, bridges, train tracks, etc. every Sunday.

Hotel Louisville was once a Holiday Inn, but it ran into financial troubles right after a major remodel. So Wayside bought the hotel, where it now houses the homeless. The homeless also run the entire hotel, gaining experience at cooking, cleaning, managing, and otherwise taking care of business.

The Waycool Cafe inside the hotel is crazy cheap ($5 buffet, anyone?), and they have a very good selection, including vegan and Esselstyn diets.Ministries

Ministries

I was at the con representing some of the various outreaches that I’m a part of:

  • the Christian Gamers Guild (geared toward board gamers, card gamers, and roleplayers)
  • the Grave Robbers (geared toward punks and goths)
  • Game Church (geared toward video gamers)
  • Fans for Christ (sadly now defunct, geared toward fandom, cosplayers, anime, etc.)
  • …and others that I didn’t specifically have materials to send home with people

Guests

The range of people and groups there was impressive for such a new event.Family Tree

Fun

Leia Cupcakes

“I love these cupcakes.”
“I know.”

For a small first-year event, there was a lot going on.

 

Building Bridges

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

This lesson looks at how we can reach out to those around us, and is a good followup to the The World Around Us lesson.

Be There

“No matter where you go, there you are.”The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Many of us know people that don’t know the Lord. It’s difficult to get to know someone if you never spend time with them. The first step in building a bridge is to be where they are, now and then.

How can they believe if they have not heard? How can they hear without someone to preach? (Romans 10:14)

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

In this way, I have aspired to preach the gospel where Christ was not known. (Romans 15:20)

Paul didn’t just wait for the people to come to him — he went where the people were, and specifically sought out the people who no one else was talking to.

Thing Explainer

Relate

Finding something in common with people isn’t always easy. Paul adapted himself to his audience, but without crossing the line to join them in sin.

Even though I am free, I become a slave to all. When I am with Jews, I live like a Jew. When I am with gentiles, I too live apart from the law. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with the weak, I share their weakness. I have become all things to all people so that by any means some may be saved. (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)

Move beyond small talk about traffic and weather, by looking for topics around food, kids, travel, music, movies, and hobbies.

One of my favorite examples of how to get idea across to people is the book Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe, of xkcd webcomic fame. Here are some sample pages thanks to the fan site explainxkcd. (You can write your own ten hundred words people use most set of words, thanks to this word checker.)

Integrate

After finding some common ground, and beginning to build that relationship, find ways to keep it going. Help them out with something. Text or message them an article or video related to what you talked about. Don’t do it with a sneaky motive, but out of a genuine desire to help them and to know them better.

The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Love one another with genuine affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Be a part of the community around you.

Do

Talking is nice. Praying is nice. But faith and love “with hands and feet” will usually have more impact.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness will be as bright as noon. (Isaiah 58:10)

Get out and do something for someone. If you’re the first one home on garbage day, drag the garbage cans for all your neighbors back to their houses. Rake their leaves, shovel their driveways, offer to walk their dogs, “accidentally” bake too many cookies.

Don’t just be good. Do good

GiveGenerous

Generosity is an outgrowth of gratitude. All that we have come from God. The blessings he grants us can be shared with others.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in all its forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

Besides money, which is the most common application of generosity, we can also give: time, empathy, support, and others.

Evangelize

If all we do is get into the world around us, but never share the gospel, what have we ever accomplished?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19)

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. (Matthew 9:37)

I pray that sharing your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. (Philemon 1:6)

If the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, God will hold the watchman accountable for their blood. (Ezekiel 33:6)

There are two outcomes for the afterlife – heaven or hell. By grace, we’ve been saved through faith, and we are commanded to share that same good news with all people.

Stay

The “drive-by save” is okay, if that’s all we can do, but if we have any ability to do so, we need to stay to become an ongoing part of life.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine. (John 15:4)

A faithful man will abound with blessings. (Proverbs 28:20)

If we don’t spend any time with our people, we can’t disciple them. “Go therefore… and teach them to obey.”

Building Bridges

Bridge, by Don E Yeoman, (c) 2016

Thanks to my buddy Don E Yeoman for this photo

  • B – Be There
  • R – Relate
  • I – Integrate
  • D – Do
  • G – Give
  • E – Evangelize
  • S – Stay

The acronym BRIDGES can serve as a roadmap on ways to reach others.

Examples

So, let’s look at how this BRIDGES approach can work…

With my variety of interests and contacts, I have friends in technology, business, the arts, and …less respectable parts of society.

Here are some of the recent sermons I’ve given to some very different audiences.

  • at a series of technology (database) conference:

I frequently present at technology conferences, especially those related to data
In 2016, I focused on text analytics — the science of collecting, matching, and learning from massive amounts of words
On the standard technology side of things, text analytics can do a lot of cool things
The Bible is unique in that it has dozens of translations in English, and that each block of words is identified through a system of books, chapters, and verses
When I present, I always give several non-Biblical examples first, but then ask my audience if there are any objections to me diving deeper into Bible text, and there have not yet been any
Here are some really cool findings from other text experts that have looked at the Bible:

  • at a horror film festival:
    • I spoke about “Bible Gore” — the scary, gross, and bloody parts
    • It was fun for me to preach about parts of scripture that rarely get preached on, at least that I’ve seen
    • It was a good way to use the symbols and trappings of the genre to find relatable common ground

So here I was able to use the Bible to reach out to people who use computer databases for a living, and for people who like blood and thrills, and might be a part of the filmmaking process themselves. I’ve preached or taught at a punk/goth concert/festival, some prisons, a creative writing conference, a board game convention, a disability camp, and plenty of sci-fi/comic/fantasy/costume/etc. events. It’s fun to find ways to bring the topic at hand to the Bible, and vice versa. Stretching my brain to make those connections also helps me to learn more about God’s word, and helps me to see all of God’s people as real people.

You can check out my repertoire of sermons and lessons on my downloads page.

GroupsGroups

I’m involved in a lot of local groups, clubs, organizations, associations, events, and such. Part of the reason is that I like to learn things and meet people. But I’m also a bit of a homebody, and enjoy sitting around the house doing nothing, so the real reason I’m out there so much of the time is that I’m there to help people. Helping with small temporary things is fine, but the long-term goal is always to help them eternally.

Here are some of the major groups of things that I’m a part of.

  • Church: worship, study, serving
  • Software: security, data, code
  • Hardware: drones, robots, VR, makerspace
  • Business: startup, networking, openings
  • Government: chamber, hackathons, comprehensive plan
  • Arts: theater, comedy, books, visual
  • Games: board, card, party, apps
  • Health: food, medical, life science

I can’t be at all of those events all the time, of course. Many of them happen at the same time as other events. But I do try to pick a handful that I attend almost all the time, and then I “keep my hand in” with the others by joining one or two events a year with them. And I’m not saying that any of you should be a part of dozens of groups at once. That’s me.

My public calendar (which doesn’t have any of my private “none o’ ya business” appointments) is always available here. I keep it public so that other local people with similar interests can check where I’ll be (or at least where I might be), and find events that they may also enjoy.

Here’s a typical week (with the day-job and other private details not publicly shown). Green is for tech events (“The Matrix” colored), pink is for the arts (“heart” colored), gold is for church (“halo” colored), brown is for business (“briefcase” colored), and light blue is for webinars (“IE” colored). Not pictured on this selection below are: red for medical (blood), black for personal (just because that’s the default), dark blue for job events (that’s one of the company’s logo colors), and purple for holidays (since that’s Outlook’s out-of-office color). The colors I’ve chosen aren’t any kind of exact science, or anything, but I’ve gotten used to them, and I know instantly what my day looks like based on the colors present.

Calendar Sample

Having a public calendar is also a great excuse to hand out a business card. You never know what’ll come up in conversation, so when I mention something cool that I’ve done or I’m about to do, it’s a natural segue to give a card with a mention of “We’re meeting again in two weeks. The calendar on my blog will have the details.”

Discuss

  • How can you touch lives to save souls?
  • What skills and hobbies can help you help others?

Download

You can get a copy of the PowerPoint slides here.

The World Around Us

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.Louisville

This lesson looks outside the church, to America and the world as a whole, then brings it back home.

People Around Us

Depending on which statistics you look at, and how they were counted, the population of the US is between 250M and 500M. Let’s go with 250M for now.

Here’s how my state and city compare to the country at large.

Place Population Relative
US 250,000,000
Kentucky 4,000,000 (1½% US)
Louisville (city limits) 250,000 (6½% KY, 0.1% US)
Louisville (metro area) 1,250,000 (30% KY, ½% US)

My city’s metropolitan area amounts to half a percent of the entire country. Not too bad, for a “big small town.”

Louisville! Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46)

Half the US Population

Half of the people in America live in the 39 most populous city areas.

The other half are spread out over the entire rest of the country.

People We Know

This varies a lot by personality, job, age, region, and such, but here are some broad averages of the people we know.

Relation People
See 80,000
Meet 10,000
Acquaint 1,000
Friends 150
Close 10

And most Americans these days move around a bit, too, which helps to expand the pool of people we meet.

Moves
Jobs 10
Homes 12
Churches ?

I know more people than that (and have worked more jobs than that). Part of that scope comes from me working at a lot of places, but most comes from my wide variety of interests and activities. I’m fairly involved in the circles of technology, business, arts/theater, and church, and belong to many groups inside each of those areas.

Church Sizes in America

Churches around the county vary in size, with most of them serving fewer than 100 people on a weekly basis.

Size Churches Total Weekly Attendance
<100 150,000 9,000,000
<500 100,000 25,000,000
<1,000 12,000 9,000,000
<2,000 6,000 8,000,000
<10,000 1,000 4,000,000
>10,000 50 1,000,000
Total 300,000 56,000,000

Pew Research300,000 churches account for 56 million people each week. That’s a lot of church attendance.

* These figures account for Christian Protestant (non-Catholic) churches

100 Americans

These numbers are still fairly large, and not easy to grasp.

Let’s boil it down, and pretend that the entire US is only 100 people. If you’re in a room with 100 people, you can imagine each person filling one of these categories.

Numbers taken from Pew Research.

Religion People
Christian 69
Mormon 2
Jewish 2
Muslim 1
Hindu 1
Buddhist 1
Other 2
None 23

The Christians are comprised of these people:

Religion People
Catholic 21
Evangelical 25
Protestant 15
Black Protestant 6
Other Christian 2

As you can see, there are a lot of Christian in America.

From what we often hear on the news, it might not always sound like it.

I was a bit surprised to find out that out of 100 people, only two would be Jewish, and only one Muslim.

World Around Us

Let’s look at that first set of numbers again, but add in the rest of the world.

Place Population Relative
World 7,400,000,000 (30x)
US 250,000,000 (3%)
Kentucky 4,000,000
Louisville (city limits) 250,000
Louisville (metro area) 1,250,000

The rest of the world is 30 times larger than the US; the US is just 3% of the world population.

This time, let’s pretend that the whole world is 100 people, not just the US.

So, where is everybody?

Numbers taken from 100 People.

Continent People
Asian 60
African 16
American (North and South) 14
European 10
Australia 0

What do they speak?

Language People
Chinese 12
Spanish 6
English 5
Hindi 4
Arabic 3
Bengali 3
Portuguese 3
Russian 2
Japanese 2
Other 60

(The languages don’t add up to 100, since many people speak more than one language.)

The Bible has been translated into 2,500 languages. That’s quite a lot, but there are 7,000 languages spoken in the world today.

Other ways of looking at us :

Factor People
Read/Write 86
College 7
Internet 45
Safe Water 91
Shelter 78
Overweight 22
Underfed 11
Starving 1

Out of 100 people in the world, 9 have no water, 1 has no food, and 22 have no shelter from the elements.

We’ve already looked at the religious counts in the US. Here’s how it looks worldwide:

Religion People
Christians 31
Muslims 23
Hindus 15
Buddhists 7
Other 8
None 16

The international landscape is a lot different than what we’re used to here in the US.

People Around Us

That’s all a fine intellectual exercise, but let’s bring it home and make it personal.

Taking the national averages of 69 out of 100 Americans being Christian, and applying it locally, we get:

Place Population Christian Lost
US 250,000,000 170,000,000 80,000,000
Kentucky 4,000,000 2,500,000 1,500,000
Louisville (city limits) 250,000 170,000 80,000
Louisville (metro area) 1,250,000 850,000 400,000

FriendsThere are roughly one and a half million non-Christians in Kentucky. Close to half a million in the metro area.

People who need the Lord aren’t just “out there” — they’re here in our own neighborhoods.

People We Know

To bring it one more step closer to home, if we do the same thing to the number of people that we know:

Relation People Christian Lost
See 80,000 55,000 25,000
Meet 10,000 7,000 3,000
Acquaint 1,000 700 300
Friends 150 100 50
Lost 10 7 3

It’s those final two numbers that particularly draw my attention.

On average, each of us has 50 friends and 3 close friends that don’t know the Lord.

We can’t individually bring the gospel to the world, but even if we could, the world wouldn’t listen to us. But we each have dozens of people that will listen to us, that might not listen to anyone else.

In my case, the stakes are even higher. I know more people than average, and I intentionally have a higher percentage of non-Christians, by putting myself into new situations and stretching my comfort zone as far as I can.

Discuss

  • How many people do you know fairly well?
  • How many are non-Christians?
  • How much time do you spend with them?
  • How can you reach your 50+3?
  • If you don’t have any 50+3, should you? how?

Download

You can download the PowerPoint slides here.