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The secret is balance. Just as high levels of video game violence is wrong, so is total abstinence:
Phil:4:5: Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
One of the words for abstain in the New Testament is this:
apechomai: to hold one's self off, refrain, abstain
It's Greek origin is:
middle voice (reflexively) of apecho:
a) to hold back, keep off, prevent
b) to have wholly or in full, to have received
Now if the New Testament abstain is the middle voice of "apecho" which is the extremes of prevention or to have wholly, it means God wants us to have a balance. To neither refuse nor to be completely engulfed in something. When one refuses, they become legalistic and act like a monk. Remember Jesus argued against the religious zealots who lived such lifestyles. The doctrines and theologies of abstaining in it's strictest form is from satan:
1 Tim 4:
1: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2: Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3: Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4: For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Now how did God react to such abstaining? In the Old Testament God told the Israelites not to marry foreign women who followed other gods. In one case, Num 25, a Jewish man killed an Israelites wife with a spear because she was a foreigner. Yet Jesus had an ancestor who was a gentile prostitute from the city of Jericho! So if God was so pure and holy, and asked the Jews not to marry foreign women, why did He allow such a woman to be in the actual lineage to the birth of Christ? Because God is not legalistic for laws sake. Don't get me wrong, God loves law and order, but God is also love and mercy. That's why Paul said:
Rom 5:20 ...But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound
We cannot hide ourselves or our children from the evils of this world, Jesus prayed about this:
John 17:15: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Everything in this world is tainted with sin or crime. Does that mean we cannot enjoy anything? We cannot live a life without objects that have not been tainted by sin. Jesus enjoyed and celebrated life with sinners. He has given us a way to sanctify those things for us to enjoy. And it is all things.
Math 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners...
4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
6:17: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy
Now this is not a license to sin. For indeed we must partake only by faith:
23: And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
This does not mean for those who don't have faith, nor for those who don't enjoy the things another does, that they forbid them to others.
Weaker Brothers - another great page discussing the argument: "don't offend the weaker brother"
Rom:14:16: Let not then your good be evil spoken of
And remember for those who eat, they are the stronger than those who do not partake. And those in Christ should be growing stronger, not weaker.
Rom:10:17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
But whatever I play, I try always to play by faith. That faith while based upon scripture is not scripture alone, but is also spirit. The Holy Spirit. We don't live by the letter of the Law. Thus I don't follow the extreme examples of the Old Testament concerning magic in my entertainment, but I do use it as a guideline. The New Testament says the Old Testament was a shadow God's will and example for us.
Heb 10:1 ¶ For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2 Cor 3:6: Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
For those who don't understand this, or wish to know more, I suggest this page of mine:
Walking in the Spirit
Since writing this article, visiting it 3 years later or so, I have re-entered the board game hobby.
I liked traditional board games (mass market games) as a kid, my dad would never play any with me except Battleship (there may have been a small handful of Clue games with the entire family). He did play several types of card games. But I did play traditional board games with my sister and others.
While many in the board game hobby play and enjoy mass market games, it is finding and enjoying the smaller produced games, that fit your taste in theme or mechanic that brings so much fun. These games are often more fun, or more strategic, but not all some are just as simple, but have much more fun and entertainemnt. There are also social and party games. In recent years, there is more public awarenes of such games as they are now sold in Target, Barnes & Nobles, and other locations, rather than dark, dank, comic or board game stores.
It was in the 90's when Euro games hit America. Sometimes (originaly) called German Games or Designer Games. But Designer Games could also include American made hobby games.
I was in a Christian Book store when I saw Settlers of Canaan, a Bible based version of one of these 1st Euro games called Settlers of Catan. Although I didn't learn this till afterwards. I found this shortly after finding RoboRally.
I had found another christian board game a few years earlier called Journeys of Paul, and had some success.
I had originally found BGG (Board Game Geek) online, to share some of my home made RoboRally content, as I had changed someone's computer software to make board game maps for the game. But I did not maintain a presence on BGG or have strong enough board game interest to spend time there. But this now changed.
What I would like to do here, is share board games that are fun, but should be less offensive to most christians.
Insider: Currently my favorite party game, and among all games, a top 10 game over all! A game centered around "20 Questions". It is my most played game and my family loves it, as do I!
RoboRally: I was interested in this because it has no blood or magic, it is a game where robots can fight each other. But you can also play in a race.
Tikal: This game can only play up to 4. But is my favorite Euro. It is a tile laying game. You play as an archeologist trying to discover and claim ancient structures in South America.
Colt Express: This is a bit like RoboRally with programable turns. The theme may not be the best "christian", as you play a bandit robbing a train in the old west. But while you shoot the other opponents, no one dies, there is no blood. The board is an actual 3D cardboard train. I highly recommend this game. It is a family weight game.
Mission: Red Planet: This is a hybrid game, a mixture of a Euro with Amerithrash (a thematic American style game). This is a "steam punk" setting. Imagine going to Mars with 19th century steam powered technology. There is "death" in the game, but it is very abstract, like losing pieces in chess. A family weight strategy game, agres 14+.
Alien Frontiers: Very similar to Mission Red Planet in theme, and somewhat similar in game play. But more strategic. While it plays at a younger age, 13, I find it may be more difficult to master. It has less "death" as your pieces represent ships, rather than astronauts, but they still can be lost, but mostly volutarily, usually for strategic purposes to build colonies.
Belfort: This is a full Euro here, but with a fantasy theme. Yeah, it has dwarves and elves, but there is no magic or adventures here. These Elves and Dwarves are building a city. The theme is silly, but the game play is strategic.
Sheriff of Nottingham: If you can handle lying in a game, then this game will be fun. You play as a merchant trying to sneak goods into town. True, you can play without lying, and possibly win, but that isn't certain, because you can smuggle illegal goods into town for more points. And these "illegal" goods, are simply goods the king wants for himself and not for the common folk. Nothing immoral about those goods, as they are mostly food items.
Balderdash: My favorite party game! I actually 1st played this while going to Bible school. There is indeed a Bible version, but I have never played it. There is even a Beyond Balderdash which has more categories. But newer versions of the game are actually just Beyond Balderdash. In this game you write down fake or the real definition if you know it, to gain points. If people vote for your fake definition, you get points, you also get points by guessing the real one.
Ultimate Werewolf: Deluxe Edition: Or any version of Werewolf. For those unfamiliar, this may seem like a geeky or horror style game, it is not. It is another social deduction style game, maybe the 1st. I probably heard of it in the 90's but wasn't interested, based on wrong judgments on the game. However, when I played it, and later introduced it to those in my life, it became a big hit. Even among non-gaming family members. Each player is given a secret role. In the basic game you are either a villager or a werewolf. The villagers must find the werewolves and eliminate them and the werewolves must eliminate the villagers at night. The game requires a moderator, which I usually do, of which my High School Story Telling competition has given me great ability to do so well. But even my youngest son likes to moderate. Plays up to about 75 people!
Isle of Skye: This is like Carcassonne with more mechanics. Carcassonne which I haven't mentioned yet, is an early Euro style game that hit America like Settlers of Catan, but is a tile laying game. In Isle of the Skye you create a landscape with tiles and score points based on certain kinds of landscape features.
Say Anything: My 2nd favorite party style game. I had heard great things, and decided to buy this for my sister and her husband. It is very fun, simple, and easy to find.
Telestrations: Another party game. As I write this, it is the newest party game I have played, and my 3rd favorite. Right behind Say Anything, even on my top 100 games. I do recommend the 12 pack game of this for a larger group. In this game you are given an object to write. Bad drawing skills makes this game more fun! You draw the object and then hand the drawing to the next player, who then guesses what the drawing is, and then hands that guess to the next player who then draws that. Great fun!
Power Grid: An extremely popular game in the hobby. It is a mathy Euro game. But while I hate and am bad in math, I still like this game. You bid on power plants which you place in cities. At the end of the game the player who powers the most cities wins. It may sound boring, but it is a strategic game, and the auction elements are fun.
New York 1901: As of this writing, a very new game. This like Settlers of Catan (recently renamed as Catan), is a gateway game. Gateway games, usually Euro games, are easy or family weight strategy games, easily bringing people into the hobby (as a gate). In New York 1901 you build skyscrapers for points. The skyscrapers are 2D flay pieces, but are shaped a bit like Tetris style pieces.
Jamaica: A family weight pirate racing game. A top 5 game of my wife's.
For Sale: This has had many printings. It is a bit popular, and depending on timing may be hard to find new. This is a card game, where you have 2 distinct parts of the game. In the 1st half you bid on properties. In the 2nd half you sell your properties. This is a family weight strategy card game.
Ark of the Covenant: The Bible version of Carcassonne. I did see this in a game store back around the time I discovered the Settlers of Canaan, but never bought it then. It is Out of Print and hard to find. But if you like Carcassonne or Isle of Skye and want a Bible version, you may want to track this down. I did.
Catan Histories: Settlers of America – Trails to Rails: This is my favorite Catan game. As of this writing, I have burned out of Catan, played it too much and found better games. But this is a different game based on the original, and quite liked it. You build trains between cities as you travel west.
Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers: I actually have yet, at the time of this writing, played the original Carcassonne. But have played this stand alone variant, and quite enjoyed it.
Splendor: A fun little game, I hope to play again soon. It is a card game with poker style chips used as gem resources. You buy gems, with gems, which have points on them. The most points wins.
Puerto Rico: This is a mid weight Euro style game. Not for a beginner, unless they are good at strategy games. A 2nd play through dramaticly increased how much I liked this game. In Puerto Rico players assume the roles of colonial governors on the island of Puerto Rico. The aim of the game is to amass victory points by shipping goods to Europe or by constructing buildings.
No Thanks!: This is what they call a "filler" game. A short game to start a board game session, or between games, or even to end a game session. This a card game where you take the card in play or place a small poker style chip, saying "No Thanks" as you don't want it. The cards are placed in "straights" or "runs" in front of each player, and you only score the smallest card in the run. You can have runs of 1 card. The player with the lowest score wins. And the chips are worth negative 1 point each.
Incan Gold: Another top 5 game of my wife's favorites. A very simple game where each turn every player decides simultaneously whether they are going into the ancient structure to find treasure or are leaving with the treasure they found. It is a "push your luck" style game, as some cards have treasure and others have traps. Too many traps and the players in the structure are lost along with any treasure they found in that "trip".
Mille Bornes: Yes, a mass market game I still enjoy) I am sure many people have heard of it, but am also sure many have not played it. It is a French race car card game. It plays up to 4, but 4 players requires team play, but I much prefer a 2 or 3 player game. I grew up with this game, as my parents had it, but I also played it in French class.
King of Tokyo : play a giant monster like Godzilla or King Kong an dfight each other. A Yatzee style dice game.
Aquire: An older game, and perhaps even considered a mass market game. I certainly heard of it, but never played it until I entered the hobby as an enthusiast. Made in 1964. It is a simple stock market game. I quite liked it and recommend it.
Ticket to Ride: Another early entry gateway game like Carcassone or Catan. In this game you build train tracks between cities for points. A very popular game. My favorite is a smaller version called Tickmet to Ride: New York.
Wits & Wagers: I prefer the family edition, which the link points toward, but there are, I believe, 3 versions, the basic version, family edition, and a party version. This also is a top 5 game of my wife's favorite games. In this version, kids have an equal chance of winning. This is a trivia style game. But you can vote on someone else's answer to get points. It is a party style game.
Settlers of Canaan: A game I have mentioned but not described. This is the Bible version of Catan. In Catan and in this game, you have a map where you build and place Towns. These towns will produce resources, based on the tile/board element they are next to when that element's number is rolled on a dice. The towns are on interesections between tiles and thus can gain different resources. You also build roads between towns and can turn the towns into cities, thus producing double resources. You gain points for building these things. My wife and youngest son still enjoy this game.
The 2 biggest differences between Catan and Canaan, is that in Catan the map changes each game, and in Canaan you can also build in the wall of Jerusalem. It is possible Settlers of Canaan may be hard to find, I am not sure if it is OOP (out-of-print).
I also used gaming as a teaching tool for Biblical principles. You can learn more about this old project here:
Interactive 3D Temple
THE CHRISTIAN GAMERS GUILD
Christ Centered Game Reviews - a site with reviews and other Christian Gamer resources
Guide 2 Games - another Christian game review site
Plugged In - Focus on the Family's game review site
Wisdom Tree - Makers and distributors of top selling Christian computer games designed for the Christian Community. (Yeah they're still in business and may still have some Nintendo stuff for sale and other cool stuff as well.)