How To Tame Your Angry Birds

I love it when technology (YouTube) comments on technology (iPhone app). Here’s Pomplamoose, one of my favorite YouTube sensations (and some fantastic musicians and just to toot my own horn I use to sing with Nataly when she was part of the college ministry I worked with and just to let you know how dense I am I had no idea she was doing the highly-successful Pomplamoose thing until about a year ago.  Also, they have graduated from YouTube sensations to full on touring.  See their schedule HERE.)

With humor, flair, serious creativity, and truly excellent musicianship, Pomplamoose shows us how to tame those Angry Birds.

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I Know God Loves Me, But I Still Don’t “Get It”

When I’m feeding him a bottle of his mother’s milk at ungodly hours of the morning, he scowls at me like I just put a dent in his car and won’t ‘fess up.

When he sleeps, his arms hang in perfect little “L”s to either side of him, as though he’s flexing for an adoring audience.

When I change his diaper, I am in awe of the process that turns breast milk – “liquid gold”, as they call it – into guacamole.  ‘Cause that’s what it is: guacamole.  Somebody pass me some tortilla chips.

And that’s pretty much all my 11-week-old-son does: eats, sleeps, and poops.  And do you know how that makes me feel?

“This is my son, whom I love.  With him I am well-pleased.”

That little ball of baby fat rolls can’t do a thing but I am madly, passionately, ridiculously, embarrassingly in love with him.  More so every day.

Now, I’ve heard other dads say things like, “I never really understood my Heavenly Father’s love for me until I became a Father.  Now I get it.”

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I still don’t “get it”.  I still don’t seem to have formed whatever neural or spiritual pathways that would be responsible for allowing feelings of deep, deep love to pour into my heart and splash over the sides onto others.

But I know it has something to do with how I feel about Ryder James.  He’s totally helpless, can’t keep a job, never cleans up after himself, refuses to lead a small group at church, but I can’t imagine being any happier with him.  I turn into a pile of goo just thinking about him.

Sometimes it all makes me feel like I’ve stumbled upon a deep vein of gold and all I’ve got is a rusty spoon to try get the rich stuff out.

Jesus, help me “get it” even more today.

Merry (Upside Down) Christmas!

To keep things fresh this Christmas and to try prevent soul-suckage from gift shopping, I’m trying to see the Christmas story through a variety of lenses. So I spent some time this weekend thinking about the upside down elements of the Christmas story we remember every year.  Here are some observations along those lines.

First, the most obvious: The long-expected Messiah who was going to topple the secular government and save his people shows up as a baby.

You can almost hear history building in excitement as the Messiah’s genealogy unfolds over time.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David.  Everything crescendos, the anticipation builds until no one can stand it any longer, and then…a little diaper-soiling baby is born.

That’s the climax of history?  A little baby?  Totally unexpected.

Second, who gets the first news that this baby Messiah had arrived?  Who do God’s own angels announce this to?  Is it the esteemed religious leaders or the political power structures in the Jewish or Roman worlds?  Nope.  It’s the shepherds.

Shepherds got the news first.  Shepherd were the guys who were so scruffy and disreputable, all they could do was herd animals on the outside of town.  And they find out about Messiah coming before any of the religious types, before any of the rich and powerful types.  Totally unexpected.

And finally, who are the first to worship this little baby Messiah?  The gospel writer, Matthew, indicates it was the Magi, the ones we call “the three wise men.”  But who were the Magi?  The Magi were not Jews, they were foreigners.  They were outsiders.  They were also astrologers.  The source of the wisdom they claimed had to do with their expertise in understanding the alignment of orbiting balls of dirt.  Are you getting this?  The first people to worship Jesus were pagan astrologers!

What is going on here?  This is not how the Messiah is supposed to show up. This is not how God is supposed to work.

Everything about Jesus birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection are unexpected.  It’s as if his life was testifying, “You think you know the heart of God, but you have no idea.  Open your eyes wider.  Open your hearts wider!  Salvation is here and it’s right in front of you!

So lay down your tightly-held ideas of how you think God should work, and receive from Him a better way: the way of healing, the way of reconciliation and restoration, the way of meaning and purpose, the way of of hope and belonging – the way of Jesus.”

I want to open my eyes wide this Christmas season for more signs of God’s unexpected love.  I want to see beyond the tradition I’m used to and discover both new and ancient ways that God’s heart is being revealed.  Who knows?  I might find them in my next door neighbor or on Facebook or at the mall or even – no, it’s possible! – at church.

What other upside down elements do you see in the Christmas story?

The Bluetooth Is NOT A Fashion Accessory

blue tooth beard[Reposted from Oct. 19, 2009; From The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community, page 147]

A quick, moslty useless thought for a Saturday morning:

I feel the need to point out that a Bluetooth device is not a fashion accessory. It is stunning to me how many people—mostly young men—walk around with them stuck in their ear despite the fact that they aren’t even using them.

Yes, I can see the value of hands-free communication while driving. I drive “hands free” all the time—that’s why God gave me knees.

Likewise, if your hands are full—say you’re carrying an icebox with a live human heart in one hand and a vial of toxic material in the other—then it is okay to use a Bluetooth.

But if these are the not conditions you find yourself in, then at no time, and not under any circumstance, should you be caught wearing such a device.  Amen.

(“Wise Man” photo by Blake Little)

Advent: We Are Enlarged in the Waiting

pregnant 2Thanks to Facebook, I have seen the inside of more women’s wombs than I had expected to in my lifetime (especially considering my choice to follow a more artistic/less ob-gyn sort of vocation).  The sonogram shots that more and more pregnant women are posting in lieu of their Facebook profile pictures (or simply as additions to their online photo libraries) are profound statements about the ultimate reality of life.  What do I mean?

This morning, I was reading the Bible.  I do this often because I believe what we read shapes us in some way and I like the way the Bible and the God the Bible reveals shapes me.  In particular, I was reading in a book called Romans.  In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul (one of the famous pillars of the Christ-ian church) paints an incredible picture, one literally bursting its frame with hope.  After introducing what he believes is the true nature of life as it was meant to be, he says this:

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is stirring us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

We are enlarged in the waiting. What is true of pregnant women is true for those of us who choose to hope in the God of the Bible.  It remains true even (and often especially) when we can’t yet see it or fully understand it.  “But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”

Joy.  That is the point.  Joy in the waiting.  Joy in the delivery.  Joy.

So be nice to pregnant women.  Their bodies are a prophetic symbol of God’s in-breaking love; a symbol of hopeful anticipation and unimaginable joy.

May those blurry black-and-white sonogram pics on Facebook remind us of that today.

(re-posted from Sept. 21, 2009, because, by golly, I’m taking the weekend off – Happy Beginning of Advent!)

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