E3 2019 Wrap-Up: Much Ado About Keanu and a “Future-Focused” Present (Philippians 1:21-26)

And that’s a wrap on the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo!  The focus was quite clearly placed on the year 2020 with:

  • The reveal of the next Xbox with a holiday 2020 release date (not much of a surprise)
  • KEANU REEVES!!! (That was actually a pretty awesome surprise)
  • Concrete release dates revealed for massively anticipated titles such as Final Fantasy VII (March 2020) and CyberPunk 2077 (April 2020)  (Disappointing wait time, but not terribly surprising)
  • Halo Infinite confirmed for 2020 along with the new Xbox (No Keanu Reeves in this one… at least not yet)
  • KEANU REEVES!!!!!  (Keanu Reeves was THERE.  I didn’t know if you knew that yet.  Just making sure.)
  • Animal Crossing, Watch Dogs Legion, DragonBall Z, Avengers, Rainbow Six, Dying Light 2… yep, you guessed it… ALL coming in 2020 (Sensing a theme yet?)

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Now, to be fair for just a moment, there were a lot of solid reveals on what 2019 still has to offer.  Luigi’s Mansion 3 looks good, Gears of War 5 demonstrated some exciting new modes ahead of it’s 2019 launch, and we saw a lengthy bit of exciting gameplay from the new Star Wars title.  But if you ask anyone who either attended the show or watched the presentations about which announcements they are most excited about… their answer will most likely fall in the 2020 calendar year.

In the video game world we almost always have one foot firmly planted in the present while preparing for our next step into the future.  We wrap up a game only to immediately scour the internet for rumors of a sequel.  We watch the credits after we finish off the final boss hoping to catch a glimpse of a “Marvel Movie-style” after-credits sequence that hints at where the story might head next.  We have been trained to always  look forward to what’s next, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing… unless it comes at the cost of the present.

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In the video game industry, the reality is that the sales of the games of today are what pay for the games of tomorrow.  This year’s Call of Duty release is going to pay for the development of the next several titles in this franchise.  If you choose to purchase Luigi’s Mansion you are also funding the next project (or several projects) from Nintendo.  The future requires the success of the present to exist.  But times like these in the console cycle are the most delicate, because gamers are now having to make a decision about whether they part with their hard-earned entertainment budget now to pay for the 2019 titles that are available, or do they save their money to afford what 2020 is going to demand from them.  It’s a hard choice… do you pick up titles like Ghost Recon and Gears this year, or do you save up your money to buy a new Xbox console and Halo next year?  Choices, choices…

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There are a lot of inherent problems with focusing on the future at the expense of the present, and this led me to consider how many of us do this in our spiritual life as well.  I have asked many people about their faith choices in life over the years, and I have found an interesting commonality.  When asked directly about why they follow their particular faith, many people who follow Christ or any other form of religion often have a similar response regardless of their actual belief system… because they want to go to heaven after they die.  Or conversely, because they don’t want to go to hell.

We often look at our choice of religious commitment as a means to either insure our eternal salvation or avoid everlasting judgment.  And as a result, we live an artificially constrained life where we follow the rules and the guidelines of the life that is required of us in order to insure we are on the right flight when our time comes.  And those are completely understandable reasons for making the choice to follow God… they just aren’t the RIGHT reasons.

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This begs a troubling question… do we serve God because we truly see the value in spending each day of our earthly lives with Him?  Or are we merely heavenly “gold-diggers”, making sacrifices in our current physical existence because we view it as some kind of investment into those “streets of gold”?  I will confess that for the majority of my life I viewed my Christianity through this lens… a means to an end.  I will do what God says to do so I can get to heaven, whether I like it or not.  I was looking at heaven the way one does a 401k or retirement fund… a little less fun for now so I can afford to have fun later.  Have you ever viewed your walk with God the same way?

Or… perhaps you are still on the outside looking in. You like the idea of heaven a WHOLE lot more than the concept of an eternal lake of fire.  But you see no compelling reason to make that choice right NOW… I mean, what’s the rush?  Why sacrifice the fun and the freedom you currently enjoy for a list of restrictive rules when you can just wait until a more convenient time to punch your ticket?  I can definitely relate to that way of thinking as well.  And both of these concepts are missing out on the point of being a follower of Christ in the first place.

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Going to heaven in the future is a MASSIVE benefit to the choice to follow Christ, but our eternal life with God does not start with our death… it starts right HERE, in THIS LIFE, in the PRESENT.  We have a Creator who desires to live INSIDE of us throughout each and every day, helping with every decision, with a promise NEVER to leave.  This is captured in both the Old and New Testament…

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5-6 For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

With the promise of the best tag-team partner on the planet, why would anyone choose to go forward alone?  With the wisdom of the Almighty at your disposal, why would you ever want to make a choice without His guidance?  Think of it this way… if you have a 30 mile drive to a destination you have never been to before, you will most likely use your GPS to guide you safely there. The GPS would be giving you route directions all the way to your destination… not because it wants to ruin your journey, but because it knows where you are going and you don’t.  And walking would be a painful, pointless way to travel if a vehicle is available, wouldn’t you think?  So… why would you want to walk this life alone without the support or guidance that would get you there the safest, smartest, fastest, and easiest way?

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Psalm 18:30 As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  

The main reasons a person would choose to forego this incredible support partner in life is if they either A) don’t believe in it or B) they think they know better.  I know because I was both of these at different points in my life.  And both of those thoughts were incorrect.  For most of my life I ignored the guidance of the Lord because I thought He was going to take away my fun and restrict my choices to horrible, boring, tasteless experiences.  It is sad that for so long I viewed my loving Creator as this angry librarian who existed to shush me every time something happy occurs.  Because of this flawed thinking I lived my life on my terms, trusting my own decisions and thought processes. And the result?  Let’s just say calling it a train wreck would be a disservice to all of the real wrecked trains around the world.

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Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

I hope to encourage you today that if you are only identifying yourself as a Christian for the future benefits, you are missing out on the point of the experience.  He is not only the God of your FUTURE, He is the God of your PRESENT.  And you will NEVER live a happier, more fulfilled life than the One that He will guide you in if you will only include Him in it.

And for those who are waiting until the most opportune time to serve Him comes up (like on your death bed), let me say this.  If you are waiting for the next Xbox to come out before you play ANY more games, you are going to miss out on some pretty awesome stuff.  Some unique experiences that you will never be able to get back.  And likewise, waiting until you think you are nearing the end of your days to invite Christ into your daily life is only STEALING all of the joy and experiences that you could be living EACH AND EVERY DAY.  You can drive without a GPS if you want, or you can try to hike it… you will only end up taking a longer, more expensive, more dangerous path to get to the place where you are meant to end up anyway.  And there will be a lot of pointless collateral damage left in your wake.  Why not choose the blessed life of companionship with the One who designed you for this course?  Your BEST life is with Him… both now and later.

Philippians 1:21-26 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

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