Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Blackberry is not working!

I've got to admit that this is one of the funniest youtube videos I've seen in a while. Now I must warn you that you've got to be able to appreciate British humor to really get the full impact of the video. For those of you who might not be aware, you should know that "Orange" is a local phone network in the UK much like Verizon, Sprint and AT&T are in the USA. If that just totally confused you, then you definitely need to watch the video now. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bee Spit and Android Technology

I absolutely love the creativity (and unspoken but clearly intended dis' on the i-pad) of this video advertisement for the soon-to-be-released Motorola Android Honeycomb tablet. It's almost irreverent, but incredibly captivating as it explores five thousand years of the advancement of "tablet technology." I've personally never owned an i-phone or i-pad (never liked AT&T), but I'm told the i-pad is pretty much an oversized i-phone. Since I have an i-pod touch (which is essentially an i-phone without the phone function, I can honestly say that I much prefer my Motorola Droid-X to any thing else I've owned or seen. I can hardly wait for the release of this tablet with Android technology. Thinking of giving someone a late Christmas gift? Well, here's the perfect opportunity to make up for it being late. You can simply argue that you had to wait for the 2011 release date of the new Android Honeycomb. Enjoy the video. And have a really wonderful Christmas. BTW, incase you're wondering about the blog title, it has absolutely nothing to do with the article other than the fact that the tablet is called a Honeycomb. I simply like the title of a friends blog "Soggy Weeds and Bee Spit."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Who Do You See? (Part 3 of 3)

Today I’m concluding this three part series titled, “Who Do You See?” If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read Parts 1 and 2 before you read this so that it makes more sense. Yesterday I concluded part 2 by telling you that we’d ask and answer the question, “When God saw Jesus, whom did He see?” The best way I can think of to answer that question is by first sharing an excerpt from Max Lucado’s book, Six Hours One Friday.

The King swallowed….
He looked at the Prince of Light. “The darkness will be great.” He passed his hand over the spotless face of his Son. “The pain will be awful.” Then he paused and looked at his darkened dominion. When he looked up, his eyes were moist. “But there is no other way.”

The Son looked into the stars as he heard the answer. “Then, let it be done.”
Slowly the words that would kill the Son began to come from the lips of the Father.

“Hour of death, moment of sacrifice, it is your moment. Rehearsed a million times on false altars with false lambs; the moment of truth has come….

“Oh, my Son, my Child. Look up into the heavens and see my face before I turn it. Hear my voice before I silence it. Would that I could save you and them. But they don’t see and they don’t hear.”

“The living must die so that the dying can live. The time has come to kill the Lamb.” …

So I ask again, when God saw Jesus, whom did He see?

When God saw Jesus, He saw the only way to reconcile His creation to its Creator.
When God saw Jesus, He saw the sacrificial Lamb of slaughter, born to shoulder the sins of the world.
When God saw Jesus, He saw His beloved Son who was born to die at the hands of the very ones he created.
When God saw Jesus, He saw Heaven’s best given in exchange for earth’s worst (yet He loved us still).
When God saw Jesus, He saw a future filled with promise
When God saw Jesus, He saw the pain and suffering of broken humanity encapsulated in the Son of God (and this is significant to remember as we walk through our own dark journey).

Which brings me to my final question: When you see Jesus, whom do you see? If all you see is a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger… then you’re thirty three years behind the story. If all you see is a broken body hanging on a cross… then you’re still behind even if a little closer. If all you see is an embalmed body lying in a rock hewn tomb… then look again. The tomb is empty! He is risen!!!

In order for pain and suffering to make sense, you must see what God sees. Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Behold, your Redeemer lives. You see, your failures, your pain, your suffering, your insecurities, none of them are unfamiliar to the “suffering” Savior. He knows what you’re feeling and He’s already set a plan in motion, though, from where you sit right now you may not fully understand what it is (Had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory). God knows what it feels like to bury a Son. I know that may sound trite and contrived, but it is the gospel truth! God is writing the story of your life and though the current chapter may be fraught with pain, darkness, and difficulty, the story isn’t over yet. The Master Story Teller is weaving the tapestry of your life into a fitting testimony for His glory and for your good. But don’t take my word for it, ask Job!

For this season to make any sense at all. For it to truly be the “most wonderful time of the year.” For there to be a purpose to the pain and suffering, we must understand the season for what it is: God became a baby, born through the birth canal of His own creation, so that He might reconcile the world unto Himself. Neither presents under brilliantly lit trees, nor exotic fare arrayed on well laid tables, can bring joy to hurting hearts that have suffered such tremendous loss. Only the Son can restore sunshine to a world gone dark with the pain of loss. Only the true meaning of Christmas can restore hope and healing to hurting hearts.

So even if this Christmas threatens to be one filled with pain and sorrow, remember that the veil has once and for all been torn in two to make a way where there was no way. Remember that, as your Savior and mine took His final breath upon a Roman cross, He declared, “It is finished!” However “dark” this season may appear, remember that God is at work in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. However dark tonight may appear, morning is on the way. I pray that your Christmas is brightened by the Light of the Son.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Who Do You See? (Part 2 of 3)

In an attempt to answer the questions I posed yesterday, I’d like to begin by telling you a story from the Scriptures. It’s imperative that you understand the story so that you can answer the larger question posed in the blog title. Only after you’ve been able to answer this larger question, will you be in a position to answer all the others.

The gospel of Luke chapter 23 opens with the narrative of Jesus being arraigned before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect or Procurator of the region of Judaea (Today he’d be called Governor). While I don’t want to lose you in the tedium of detail, it’s important that I explain this role for the benefit of backdrop. Rome was the ruling civilization on the earth during this time of AD 26 – 36 while Pilate served as Procurator. He was Caesar’s representative from Rome to the region. The amalgamation of Samaria, Judaea, and Idumea formed a small, far-flung outpost of Rome that provided very little by way of taxes, to support the largesse of the Roman lifestyle. Nobody worth their political salt really wanted to serve in Judaea, and it was clearly recognized as a stepping stone to a more significant posting… but only if you served effectively and maintained the Pax Romana (Roman Peace)!

Pilate had done fairly well for himself up to this point in time, and the region provided very little distraction other than the typical uprising of false prophets and seditious elements seeking to overthrow Rome’s oppressive government, but even these were easily quelled by the Temple Guards and often didn’t require the involvement of the Roman Army. Let’s pick up the story straight from the NCV Bible:

1 Then the whole group stood up and led Jesus to Pilate. 2 They began to accuse Jesus, saying, "We caught this man telling things that mislead our people. He says that we should not pay taxes to Caesar, and he calls himself the Christ, a king." 3 Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Those are your words." 4 Pilate said to the leading priests and the people, "I find nothing against this man." 5 They were insisting, saying, "But Jesus makes trouble with the people, teaching all around Judea. He began in Galilee, and now he is here." 6 Pilate heard this and asked if Jesus was from Galilee. 7 Since Jesus was under Herod's authority, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at that time…. 13 Pilate called the people together with the leading priests and the Jewish leaders. 14 He said to them, "You brought this man to me, saying he makes trouble among the people. But I have questioned him before you all, and I have not found him guilty of what you say. 15 Also, Herod found nothing wrong with him; he sent him back to us. Look, he has done nothing for which he should die. 16 So, after I punish him, I will let him go free." 17 18 But the people shouted together, "Take this man away! Let Barabbas go free!" 19 (Barabbas was a man who was in prison for his part in a riot in the city and for murder.) 20 Pilate wanted to let Jesus go free and told this to the crowd. 21 But they shouted again, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" 22 A third time Pilate said to them, "Why? What wrong has he done? I can find no reason to kill him. So I will have him punished and set him free." 23 But they continued to shout, demanding that Jesus be crucified. Their yelling became so loud that 24 Pilate decided to give them what they wanted. 25 He set free the man who was in jail for rioting and murder, and he handed Jesus over to them to do with him as they wished.

When you read the above narrative, what catches your eye? If you had to answer the question, “When Pilate saw Jesus, whom did he see?” how would you answer it? Don’t worry if you’re not up on your Bible knowledge, I’m going to answer the question for you.

When Pilate saw Jesus, he saw a potential impediment to his political progress. Up until now, there had been relative peace in the region and the locals had handled all of their own religious and political disputes. Now they were demanding that Pilate take action against Jesus, whom, they “suggested” was out to destabilize the Pax Romana by telling people not to pay taxes to Caesar. They had “conveniently” forgotten that, in times past, this same Jesus had removed a coin from a fish’s belly and given it to Peter to go and pay taxes for both of them. They’d “conveniently” forgotten that He’d told them to render unto Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to God what belonged to God. But they had a plan. They knew that if Jesus was convicted of inciting a rebellion against Rome, then Pilate would be forced to respond and who knows what kind of uprising might result, potentially leading to a conclusion by Caesar that Pilate was not fit to hold any political office talk less of a promotion.

When Pilate saw Jesus, he saw a thorn in his side, potentially stirring up an unwanted distraction in the form of a religious and cultural rebellion. Because he didn’t want to get involved in the politics and religion of the region, he had allowed the people to largely govern themselves as long as it didn’t infringe on his ability to collect taxes and maintain the peace.

When Pilate saw Jesus, he saw a decision that he didn’t want to have to make if he could avoid it. As soon as he found out that Jesus actually hailed from Galilee, he carted Him off to Herod Antipas for judgment. Herod, a Jew, was the Tetrarch of Galilee (a largely figure-head political ruler over the region) and essentially saw himself as the true governor of the people as opposed to Pilate.

Having interviewed Him extensively, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. Let’s pick up the story in verse 8:

8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, because he had heard about Jesus and had wanted to meet him for a long time. He was hoping to see Jesus work a miracle. 9 Herod asked Jesus many questions, but Jesus said nothing. 10 The leading priests and teachers of the law were standing there, strongly accusing Jesus. 11 After Herod and his soldiers had made fun of Jesus, they dressed him in a kingly robe and sent him back to Pilate. 12 In the past, Pilate and Herod had always been enemies, but on that day they became friends.

So, here’s the next question: When Herod saw Jesus, whom did he see?

When Herod saw Jesus, he saw a temporary distraction from the emptiness of his maudlin life. Herod was a figure-head ruler. The High Priest was the de-facto religious and political ruler of the people. In addition, Pilate had usurped all of Herod’s authority since he was officially Rome’s and Caesar’s representative to the region. There was very little left for Herod Antipas to do and his life needed some form of entertaining distraction. Pilate’s inclusion of him in Jesus’ judgment gave Herod a sense of worth.

When Herod saw Jesus, he saw an entertainer. He’d heard of the many miracles Jesus had performed, and his desire to meet Jesus did not stem from any altruistic motive, but purely from the perspective of whatever “entertainment” value He could bring. Herod “was hoping to see Jesus work a miracle.” Herod viewed Jesus in much the same way our generation views David Blaine or Chris Angel… as a performer or magician.

When Herod saw Jesus, he saw an opportunity to display his misguided and misinformed sense of strength and power (he ridiculed and mocked Jesus, then dressed him up as a pseudo king), which in actual fact was really weakness. Oskar Schindler, in Schindler’s List, pointed out that, “Real power is having the ability to punish someone yet choosing to forgive them.” Remarkably reminiscent of how God continually chooses to deal with His creation.

Tomorrow we’ll answer the question, “When God saw Jesus, whom did He see?” Following that, we’ll ask and answer the question that will tie this entire series of posts together and hopefully answer all of the questions posed in part 1.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who Do You See? (Part 1 of 3)

For many, Christmas won’t be so pleasant this year! I’ve heard it said ad naseum that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year,” and if it reflected its true meaning, that would no doubt be true. However, with the commercialization of Christmas such that in the West it’s not even politically correct to say “Merry Christmas” but “Happy Holidays,” I’m not so sure it’s the most wonderful time of the year any longer. For many who say it is, they probably sing a different song come January and the new cycle of credit card bills. Well, maybe for the stores that exceed their annual sales quota in four weeks of Christmas sales, it is.... Or maybe for the ones whose bonus checks ensure that there’ll be more food on the table than they can consume in a week, it is…. But those categories of people are definitely in the minority.

Now hold your horses, before you begin to think I’m the reincarnation of the Grinch trying to steal Christmas. This post is not in any way, shape, or form a Christmas bashing session. In fact, if anything, I’m trying to “return” rather than “steal” Christmas, because it isn’t the Grinch who stole it, but commercialization, political correctness, and cultural trends! Stay with me a moment while I explain.

I have a number of friends who have experienced tragic loss this year. One couple buried their son who died in an automobile accident. The car was being driven by one of his friends (who survived the accident). The kid was only 19. Parents shouldn’t bury their children! This devastating loss has caused the family to some times question their faith. But their story is still being written by a faithful God. Another couple lost a son who died in his sleep at the age of 27. Tragically this same couple has a 22 year-old son whose body has been so riddled by cancer, he weighs all of 90 pounds. Less than a week ago the doctors told him there was nothing more they could do for him. They gave him four to six weeks to live, and sent him home to die surrounded by his family. How does a family cope with potentially losing two sons in one year? Parents shouldn’t bury one child let alone potentially bury two. And in the same year! As you can well imagine, their faith has been tested to its very core. But their story is still being written by a loving God.

I know what it feels like to lose someone near and dear to you. I lost my father in May this year. Unexpectedly. The pain is still often unbearable and sometimes I can hardly catch my breath from crying so hard, yet he died at a decent age. I know how painfully difficult it is to bury a parent. I haven’t a clue how much more so it must be to bury a child. I can however speculate that at the very least it must feel like your world has come to an end. So, how do you tell families like these to “Have a Merry Christmas”? How do they process the idea of a season that’s meant to be the most wonderful time of the year, when for them it isn’t? How can we, in all good conscience, ask them to trivialize their pain and suffering by attempting to replace it with gifts, lighted trees, and eggnog?

And while we’re on the subject of pain and suffering, I should mention that I’ve spent the last few months counseling with five different Christian couples whose marriages are on the rocks. Three of the couples have finally filed for divorce, while one of the remaining two couples is in the process. Did I mention that two of the men are pastors? How do we tell these couples that this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year? How do we convince them that carving a turkey around a shared dinner table surrounded by extended family and other happy couples, all extending empty but well meaning platitudes, isn’t a poor substitute for a broken heart?

I’m confident that the answers to the myriad questions I’ve posed are many and varied, and we’d probably not agree on all of them. But I know one thing for sure that we’d all agree on: Even if the Grinch returned all the stolen presents, it still wouldn’t make Christmas a happier time for the folks whose stories I’ve mentioned above. So what are the answers to the many questions, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to come back tomorrow to find out.