In this week’s episode, I’m going to share an interesting idea about why my Twitch channel is going PG-13 an interesting article about the difference between strong language and foul language, and continue our interesting study of Pilgrim’s Progress by exploring more of the sixth chapter where Christian is stopped at the gates of the Beautiful Palace.
– Article: https://theology-and-life.com/2021/06/19/the-difference-between-harsh-and-foul-language/
– Pilgrim’s Progress Free Book: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/the-pilgrims-progress
– Merch: https://streamlabs.com/aldescheneau/merch
– Podcast Intro Song: https://ncs.io/cloudten
– Podcast Closing Song: https://ncs.io/TLRH
Hello, today is Friday, July 9th, 2021 and welcome to “Of Interest”. A podcast meant to inspire conversation and contemplation with a few thought-provoking ideas.
My name is Al Descheneau, also known on Twitch as Christian Ninja where, every week, from Sunday to we’re working together to build an open, encouraging and meaningful online family through gaming, real talk, and God’s Truth.
This podcast is just one part of what I’m up to, and you can find links to everything else: like my free Books, Livestream Chats and Gaming, YouTube videos, my private Discord channel and more – at ArtoftheChristianNinja.com.
In this week’s episode I’m going to share an an interesting idea about why my Twitch channel is going PG-13 an interesting article about the difference between strong language and foul language, and continue our interesting study of Pilgrim’s Progress by exploring more of the sixth chapter where Christian is stopped at the gates of the Beautiful Palace.
Just a couple quick announcements before I jump in.
First, the new format where I record a bit of my podcast during each stream went over like a lead balloon, so I’m going to have to figure something else out. It occurred to me that deciding to do that wasn’t really thinking of the people I’m trying to serve – I was just thinking of myself – and it wasn’t the right move. So, I’m going to have to figure something else out for the podcast. I still think it’s important, and I think you all still enjoy it, so I’ll have to figure something else out to make sure that I can get them out regularly.
Second, I could use some more prayer support and was wondering if some of you would be willing to commit to spending a little extra time praying for me and what I’m up to. I don’t want to get into any specifics on the podcast, but if you’re interested in joining a dedicated prayer team, please send me a text or e-mail and I’ll fill you in on some of the specific needs I have.
And third, I’m not sure if you know this, but on the internet – subscriptions are everything. When you hit the subscribe button it sends the signal to all the AI algorithms that that content is worth promoting on their site. Now, I know you’re told this every time you watch anything, but it’s especially important for Christian creators – because, alas and forsooth, the algorithm is actually stacked against us. So, it would be super helpful if you would take a minute – even pause this podcast – and head over to my website at ArtoftheChristianNinja.com and you’ll see a bunch of buttons on the left side. Just click the one you are part of – YouTube, Steam, Odysee, etcetera – and subscribe.
Now, as far as Twitch goes, it’s a bit more complicated, but please hear me out because you can really help me out if you do this – and it’s free. If you have Amazon Prime – that monthly thing that gives you free shipping and movies and whatnot – it can also connect to Twitch. If attach your Amazon Prime to a Twitch account you can actually subscribe to my channel for free! That means I get a boost in the algorithm, a little bit of money, and can open up some more locked features that Twitch won’t let me have until I hit so-many subscribers. If you could do that, it would really, really help me out!
The final thing I want to share is just that at the beginning of every livestream I do little devotional, verse of the day, and prayer. If you want a little pick-up devo during lunch or coffee break or whenever that is for you – just stop by the channel for the first little bit! You don’t need to even have an account to watch! But, if you’re looking to inject one more little God-moment into your day, I’m happy to help.
Thank you for listening, God bless, and I hope you have an awesome day.
An Interesting Idea
Last week, I made a, potentially, controversial decision for my Twitch stream and I wanted to let you know the thinking process behind it. Essentially, it comes down to the fact that I intend to go from a G-rated, or PG-rated Family Friendly channel – to a PG-13 rated Channel.
First, let me give a little background.
Most of you know that the whole mission of the Christian Ninja channel is to “build an open, encouraging, and meaningful online family through gaming, real talk, and God’s truth.” That’s the tag-line, that’s the mission, and that’s what I believe God has called me to do on this channel. So much so that I’ve actually dedicated my life to this ministry full-time – completely trusting that God will raise up supporters within the Christian community to catch my vision and support me.
BTW – if you want to know more about that, I’ve got a video on my YouTube channel explaining the whole thing, and I encourage you to check that out.
The Christian Ninja channel’s whole reason for being, the reason I’m on Twitch, the reason it’s my only focus, and I spend so many hours per day working on this, is to build a community. It’s that simple. I’m here to “build a community”. In other words, there are a lot of people on Twitch that need a loving presence in their life, and a group of like-minded people that will be their friends and “online family”. There are so many people on Twitch that are – in a word – lonely. Whether it’s because they are suffering with physical or mental illness, have been hurt or abused, are incredibly introverted or have social anxiety disorder, or just feel so different from others that they struggle to make friends. My mission, my goal, my hope is to make content that will be meaningful enough, interesting enough, even entertaining enough, that these folks will invite me into their homes – through my live-stream – so I can get to know them, show them love, introduce them to a loving community, and introduce them to Jesus.
Part of the reason I do this is not only because I believe God called me to, but because I know what it’s like to be in that place. I know what it’s like to be abused, ostracized, and alone. I know what it’s like to try to connect with people, only to have them turn around and smack me down so hard that it made it almost impossible to trust people again. I know what it’s like to try to escape into a fantasy world, to use entertainment to distract me from my pain, even to sink into suicidal depression. And this is all after I became a Christian, even when I was actually a pastor. And I know what it’s like to have someone come into my world, to see how beat up I am, to treat me gently, to be kind to me, to take the time to build my trust, to gradually pull me back from the brink, and connect me back – not only to people – but to God as well.
I think I have a unique perspective that not many people have because I’ve been through a lot – and I want this channel to be a place where I can help bring healing to others.
That’s why I say I’m trying to build an “online family”. I want the people who watch my channel to go from strangers who are just there to watch me game, or see what I’m doing that day, to my brothers and sisters who love each other like a family.
What’s interesting about this group is that, because almost all my connections are within the church and within Christian circles – and because I’ve been working to build a Christian support system – more than half of the people on my channel, most of my Discord, and the greater portion of my subscribers, are Christians. Personally, I see this as a great source of strength for my channel, because it means that when a hurting or lonely person comes across my channel and joins the community, they are immediately introduced to a bunch of people that not only represent God well, but can also talk about gaming, and DnD, and nerd culture with this person. And since they really get what I’m trying to do, they shower that person with love, support, kindness, and generosity. I’ve seen it time and again. I really am proud of the believers in my Twitch community.
But – here’s the thing about my channel. Even though I’m a Christian, even though I was a Baptist pastor and preacher for basically the last 2 decades, even though I start every stream with a bible-verse, devotional, and prayer – I don’t see this as a (quote-unquote) “Christian channel”. To me, a “Christian Twitch Channel” is a channel that’s trying to gather Christian gamers and streamers together to hang out as believers with a common interest. And that’s awesome. I’m so thankful for the streamers who are there to give Christian Youth and Gamers, a safe place to chat, game, and connect.
But, that’s not the mission of my channel. My main goal – the reason I’m on Twitch – is to connect with the lost and lonely and hurting people, who don’t really have an offline community – especially not a church. I want to be their friend, their encourager, and their bridge to a loving, safe, and positive online family that gives them the space not only to explore their interest in video games, not only chat about whatever aspect of nerd culture they’re interested in, but to use those topics to bridge into exploring their spiritual side too. And to, eventually, gain enough trust to share the gospel with them.
Now, to be sure, I wear my Christianity on my sleeve. Being a Christian isn’t just something I do, it’s who I am. My relationship with Jesus affects every aspect of my being. He is the one who saved me, called me, and equips me, and so I want this channel to be as glorifying to Him as possible. That’s why each stream is dedicated to Him and begins with His word.
In other words, while I’m not a “Christian Twitch Channel”, I am a Christian with a Twitch channel. And that may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but to me, it’s an important distinction.
In my mission statement, I say that the method by which I want to create this “open, encouraging, and meaningful online family” is through “gaming, real talk, and God’s truth.” I think I’ve done an okay job at the last two. We do a lot of real talk and God’s truth. We chat about all sorts of topics: from our favourite foods – to our jobs – to theology, hot-topics, the news, and end of life issues.
But – and here’s where the potentially controversial part comes in – I think that to really be effective in reaching the people I’m trying to reach, I need to stop limiting my gaming to only E-rated and T-rated games. So many, if not most, of the popular games are M-rated, and those are the ones that many of the people I’m trying to reach are most interested in. And so, in order to reach them, I need to go where they are. And that means playing some M-rated games.
Now, I’m still going to shoot for family-friendly most of the time. I’m leaving the language filter on the chat – and I personally never swear or curse, so that won’t change – and, I will never play a sexually explicit, purposefully profane, grotesquely violent, or a game full of f-bombs. I don’t like those games, and they don’t represent me or what I’m trying to do, so they’re still a no-go. But, from this point on, I’m not going to be as strict on avoiding the M-rated titles.
For example, there’s a game called Batman: The TellTale Series, which is all about the more brutal side of the Batman story, and I believe it would not only be a popular game to play, but one that would allow for some interesting conversations to be had. But it’s rated M. Not for sexuality, but because it has some blood and language.
And, a while back someone on my Discord sent a video that was very meaningful to her – her favourite video on YouTube that she returns to often. It’s an artistic, poetic, exploration of spiritual topics that she wants to share. But because it had a couple swear words I said I wouldn’t play it. That’s bugged me for a while. It’s important to her, she wants to share with her “online family”, but I won’t show it because of a little language? Wouldn’t it be better to share it and then discuss it? Well, I couldn’t do that if I’m going to stay as a G-rated family friendly channel. But I can if I decide to go PG-13.
I know this decision is going to be controversial to some believers. I’m sure I’m going to get some questions. Maybe it’ll even cost me some supporters, but I honestly believe this is the right thing to do to share more love, more support, and connect with more people.
So, if you have any questions or comments about it, I would love to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to listen, and for all the love you’ve given me.
An Interesting Article
This week’s Interesting Article is entitled, “The Difference Between Harsh and Foul Language” and it’s by Blake Long, at Theology-and-Life.com.
In light of the stark and earth shaking revelation that I might actually play a few video games that have a couple swears in them, I thought it was interesting to come across this little article that works to differentiate between Harsh and Foul Language, Strong and Course Lanuage – and it’s an important distinction.
The article begins by talking the times when Jesus was really going at the Pharisees with some pretty intense language. He mentions Matthew 12 where Jesus calls them a “brood of vipers” and “evil” – but if it were me writing the article I would have went to Matthew 23 where Jesus really, really lays into them!
See, Jesus is teaching in the temple during the last week before he was crucified and is constantly being interrupted, insulted, and challenged by the Sanhedrin – the ruling party of the Jewish people. And, as he’s leaving one day, a whole bunch of them come together to try to trick him or make him say something that would give them the excuse to arrest and kill him.
And after He completely ruins their day by not falling for any of it, he publically calls them out in an intense fashion. He calls them hypocrites, children of hell, blind fools, blind guides, greedy, self-indulgent, arrogant, white-washed tombs that might look nice on the outside but are really just rotting corpses and dead bones on the inside. He calls these lawmakers, lawless. He calls the most pious, most religious people in town murderers and serpents who are headed for hell. And then he leaves.
Now, if a modern Christian was standing there watching Jesus do this, I think most might have thought he was out of line, too aggressive, and had take the wrong approach. They may have confronted Him later and told him how much He had hurt their feelings, or how Christians are supposed to be nice – so Jesus had better go apologize for his little outburst.
And, I know that’s what would happen, because it happened to me a few times when I was preaching. I don’t swear – I’ve never been a foul language guy – but sometimes I do use some pretty intense language.
There was one time when the church I was working for had renegotiated my contract to make sure it included not only a Sunday service but a weekly bible study. As in, the board of the church and the members, all agreed that I should be contractually bound to prepare a mid-week meeting. I was fine with that and got it all ready. It was advertised, I told the board and everyone else what I was doing, and then, when the night came – I sat in the building by myself for an hour.
That Sunday, after the message I decided to confront the church about it. I said it was hypocritical to have someone plan a mid-week meeting that literally no one in the church is going to attend. I said that if the only reason they wanted me to do that was because they wanted to say to themselves and others that their church had a mid-week meeting – but never actually invite anyone or come themselves – that was ridiculous. I still believe that. But, within hours, a couple leaders in the church called me to tell me that I needed to apologize to the whole church for my “outburst”. I asked what I had said that was wrong – and they said something I heard a lot — “Well, it’s not what you said – in fact, I agree with what you said – it’s how you said it. It was pretty confrontational. You seemed upset, and Christians shouldn’t get upset. What if a guest had been there? It wasn’t very friendly, was it.”
But is that the way Christians are supposed to be? Nice all the time? Positive all the time? Only using soft and sweet language all the time? Well, if we look at what Jesus says to the Pharisees – and honestly, that’s not the only time He does something like this – then maybe there’s a place for strong language among His followers.
But… and here’s the point of the article… how can a Christian use strong language, even harsh language, but do it in a way that shows love to the person and still honours God? Where’s the line between strong language and foul language? Is it ever ok for a follower of Jesus, a person who says they are trying to be more like Jesus, to use foul language – if they think that’s the best way to make their point?
The author gives a few helpful points to help guide in this area.
First, he says that when Christians use strong language we shouldn’t use foul language or profanity. Ephesians 4 is very clear that using swear words isn’t something God wants us to do. “Brood of vipers” isn’t a cuss. So, the first thing to remember is that our words need to be Biblical, not worldly. Modern day swear words are not in the Christian lexicon.
Second, he says, that we shouldn’t be using strong language just because we can. Some people look at what Jesus does here and think that gives them license to go and do this to everyone all the time. In fact, some Christians, even pastors, use intense and even foul language in sermons and teaching, even when sharing the gospel, because they think its “cool” and shows people how passionate they are.
The author reminds us that our words matter and it is out of our heart that the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). In other words, if someone is always using intense language, is constantly offending people, and is lacing it with profanity – chances are that even though that person calls themselves a Christian, they’ve got something wrong in their heart – like pride, or out of control anger, or unforgivness.
I would add that the book of James is pretty clear that the tongue is a powerful tool. In it, God equates our tongue to being like a fire. Great and helpful if used properly, but can easily get out of control and do a lot of damage. So we need to be careful how we use it.
And the third point is simply to check our motives: Why are we using strong language? Is it helpful in this context? Is it necessary? Is there a better way? It’s not just – is it good or bad, sinful or biblical – it’s “is the way I’m speaking the most beneficial way to help that person and glorify God?” Sometimes the answer is “yes, the best way to go about this, is to get intense and confront that person, that group, that sin, with forceful language.”
It’s unlikely that’s ever going to happen during evangelism, when your sharing the gospel, or among new believers. No one was ever argued, cussed, or yelled into believing in Jesus. A new believer who is trying to figure out how to honour God with their life is going to be confused, even tripped up, if they think they see a mature Christian flipping out on someone.
But, sometimes, the only way to make someone who calls themselves a believer, but is in active, unrepentant, sin, listen, is if they confronted with intense language by someone who cares about them.
Because remember, Jesus loved these people. That was the motive behind his words. They were warnings, woes, to thick-skulled people who were bent on their own destruction. And Jesus knew that, in that moment, the best thing to do, the most Godly thing to do, the most loving thing to do – was to hit them hard, because soft words weren’t going to penetrate – and everyone around him needed to know how wrong and dangerous these men really were.
An Interesting Study
The last part of these podcasts is an “Interesting Study” on the classic book, “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. Remember, there’s a link to this book – for free – on my blog if you want to read along. This week we’re looking at Chapter 6, when gets to the gates of the Beautiful Palace.
Let’s do a quick review of where we are so far. For those who don’t know, in my podcast over the past 18 episodes, I’ve spent time going through one of the most famous books in the English language, Pilgrim’s Progress, written by a 16th century pastor named John Bunyan as he sat in prison under an oppressive state government. It was written as an allegory of the Christian life and has touched hearts of all ages and inspired scholars, for literally hundreds of years.
It tells the story of a man named Christian and his journey to the Celestial city. He was born in the City of Destruction but somehow came across a book about God and the future doom of his city. This frightened him terribly and he wanted to escape, but no one would believe him and he had no idea where to go. Until, one day he met a man named Evangelist who pointed at a very distant Wicket Gate and told him that the only way to be saved would be to run to that gate, go through, and walk the straight path that would be set before him.
That’s what this story is about – the people he meets and places he sees along that straight path – each one an illustration and allegory exploring all sorts of theological and practical questions about life and faith and sin and forgiveness and church and politics and everything else.
We see him struggle with depression and doubt as he falls into the Slough of Despond and get confused and distracted by Worldly Wiseman. We watch as he struggles with what it means to be saved by grace and not religion as Mount Sinai almost falls on him. We journey through a sort of catechism with him as he wanders the halls of the Interpreters House. We watch as he sees the cross for the first time and his burdens fall away and he is miraculously changed – but that was only the very beginning of the story. Once he steps past Mount Calvary, things get really interesting as he meets all sorts of characters like Simple, Sloth and Presumption – Formality and Hypocrisy – and see how hard the journey gets as he makes mistakes while climbing the Hill of Difficulty and is faced with terrifying lions in the road.
As we find him today, Christian has gone through all these things and has finally dragged himself, frightened, exhausted, and emotionally drained, to the guarded gate leading to a palace where he’s hoping to spend the night. He asks the porter, the doorkeeper, if can come in, and is told that this house was built by the Lord of the Hill of Difficulty so that the faithful and true pilgrims who got to the top could be rested, refreshed and protected. This got Christian very excited and he asked to come in – but then something really interesting happens… he’s absolutely grilled with questions.
So, consider the context, right? There’s this utterly wiped-out Christian, standing in the dark, at the gates of the place built by, well, by Jesus, to bring comfort to people like him. And instead of the doors flying open so he can get some rest – he’s interrogated. The question is, why?
It goes back to the lions. Remember I said that the lions have been thought to represent everything from an oppressive government, to the qualifications for becoming a member of a church, to just being willing to say you are a Christian in a place where that could get you in trouble – could be among your friends, family, coworkers, or whatever? That’s what this interrogation is all about. Forcing Christian to share, what Christians call, his Testimony.
It made Christian to declare himself, out loud, to the world. What does the Porter ask? “What is your name and why are you here so late?” Good questions for a doorkeeper to ask, but look what they reveal. Christian gives an interesting answer to being asked his name. He says, “My name is now Christian, but my name at the first was Graceless; I came of the race of Japheth, whom God will persuade to dwell in the tents of Shem.” Now, I won’t get into the whole story, but this refers to Genesis 9 and what Christian is doing here is giving a summary of his Christian testimony. He wasn’t always Christian. He used to be Graceless – or doomed to destruction – but God blessed him, chose him, and allowed him to be counted among the faithful.
It’s a good answer, but then comes the question “Why are you so late?”. This makes him not only declare his faith in God, but also admit that he’s not perfect, but still a sinner. He retells the story of how, when he was on the Hill of Difficulty, he got lazy and distracted, slept too long in the resting place, lost his roll, climbed the whole hill, and had to go back to get it. Which, is, essentially, a way of saying that recently, he’d been going through a difficult time, and had a crisis of faith. He wanted to give up, almost turned away from the faith, but recently came back.
Then, after the porter is satisfied, the interrogation continues with one of the princesses of the castle coming and questioning him as well. And she’s even more ruthless. She asks him about his past, where he was going, and whether he got onto the path through the wicket gate, or snuck over the wall. Essentially, she, and then the rest of the daughters of the house, before they’ll let him in, want to know, whether he’s a real Christian or not. The Lord of the House said that only real pilgrims can stay – and it is his testimony, his story, his faith journey that would be his ticket in.
And that’s the point I want to stick on today: How important testimonies are. One of the best ways that Christians can tell who is saved and who is not, who is a believer and who is a religious pretender, who is a sheep and who is a wolf, who is a good teacher and who is a false teacher, is by asking someone their testimony and listening to the details.
I’ve been doing this around Twitch a bit. Twitch recently created a bunch of religious tags so that streamers can identify themselves by their faith. It is brand new, and they didn’t really advertise that they did it, but I’m glad for it because it’s really the only way that Christian streamers can find each other. Their search engine really doesn’t work.
But, as I surf around the various streamers that have the Christian tag, looking for people to follow, and get to know so I can raid them, help them, and maybe even partner with them, I like to ask for their testimonies. Why? Because hearing someone’s story, how they talk about themselves, and sin, and grace, and Jesus, is one of the best ways to tell who is a Christian and who isn’t. And, the variety of testimonies I’ve gotten is quite vast. I’ve heard everything from the full presentation we just saw Christian just said – to someone saying that when they were a kid they decided that heaven would be a neat place to go and so they decided they would go, and then proceeded to get very angry and defensive about things I didn’t even ask about!
What’s my point here? It’s this: While all Christians have unique experiences with God and how they come to faith – every Christian has the same basic story. A graceless life of sin before they met Jesus, meeting Jesus for the first time and having Him change their whole lives, seeing the fruit of that grace in amazing ways as they live out their relationship with Him, facing a lot of trials, faith struggles, and battles with their sinful side along the way, but continuing to experience the love and mercy of God even through those struggles. That’s every Christian’s story – and it’s the thing we need to be looking and listening for when we are trying to figure out who is a Christian and who isn’t.
And, a Christian admits that they are a sinner– they don’t make excuses or downplay their depravity.
A Christian gives all the credit for their salvation to the grace of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus – they know that on their own they loved their sin too much, would never have chosen God, deserved His wrath, and could never do enough good deeds to ever win God’s favour. Their testimony never points to how smart or diligent or good or hard working they are – they always point to Jesus.
A Christian honestly admits that they continue to struggle with all kinds of temptations and is always amazed at how patient and gracious and loving God is – they don’t try to pretend that everything is always great, that they’ve got it all figured out, or that they are better than others.
And, a Christian declares his relationship with Jesus in no uncertain terms. You don’t walk away wondering who they have faith in, because they don’t say things like “the big guy in the sky”, or only talk about some unspecific “god”. Their testimony isn’t about their church, or their mission, or their bible studies, or their upbringing – it’s about Jesus.
When you walk away from a Christian testimony – when you give a Christian testimony – or for that matter, if you want to know if you even have a Christian testimony – ask yourself these questions? Did they admit they are a sinner, under the wrath of God, who keeps on sinning – and then give credit for their salvation to Jesus alone? If not, then chances are, they’re not a Christian.