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Ellie has gas. What created a big problem the first month or so of her life has become a wonderful joy in my life. Ellie doesn’t burp too much, she’ll usually give us one or two per session, but for the most part, Elianna gets rid of her gas the other way. So when she was brand-spankin-new this was a painful process for her, and we could tell (she let us know) and so it was painful for us to. She now has very little trouble passing that gas and it is just hilarious. She will squirm a little and grunt some and then you will hear some little baby barking spiders. Ellie, of course, reacts as is nothing even happened; it’s the most natural thing in the world for her to be tootin’ her horn. And that makes it even funnier. We love it. She takes after dad and is gassy, and it brings us so much joy. We’ll see how she feels about it 13 years from now, but for now, we will keep loving how gassy our little girl is.

This weekend Annie came up with an idea that our family tried out on Monday.  We have, over the last couple months been working to better live out The Sabbath in our lives.  Since our job necessitates our working on Sunday, (the day most Christians Sabbath) we have been working to make Monday our family’s Sabbath.  In doing this we try to keep work projects off our plate and really use it to be with each other, though we frequently end up dinking around on the computer or watching Friends for hours.  This brings us to this weekend when Annie thought it might be good to try having a Monday without TV and computer, since we frequently will waste our days in those activities.  So yesterday we went for it and succeeded the whole day without tv and computers.

I will start by saying that it was such a great day for me.  I spent the day enjoying my family and I really felt like I got to rest more than I usually do on Mondays.  The whole day was like a giant breath of fresh air.  We went to the beach and Annie and I traded off staying on the beach with Ellie, we shopped for our week’s meals, we made dinner together, and ate together at the table.  I will say that I did use my computer as a jukebox throughout the day, but  I only picked the songs and let it play.  I finished the day by starting reading William Young’s The Shack and I am about halfway through and It is wonderful.  It is painful and beautiful and difficult, but so refreshing and I am loving it.  My review will come soon on it, but now know that yesterday began a tradition, and Annie and I decided we want to continue fasting from technology on our Sabbath.

I have committed to blog informal reviews and mental wrap-ups of what I read and am titling these blogs by the book’s name itself. This blog is long overdue, but i needed time to think. So here it is…

Here is my overdue “review” of Robert D. Lupton’s Theirs Is The Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America. I finished the book a couple weeks ago but due to the fact that I have been pretty busy and I also need to time to mentally digest some of the content so I am only now posting about it. I got so much out of this book spiritually but in all honesty, I feel like there was so much more there that I missed, like I was shooting a fire hose into my mouth and drinking from it; anyway, all that is to say that I will need to read this book many more times.
Lupton works as the director of a coalition of community services in inner city Atlanta, Georgia. He writes this book with Barbara R. Thompson, a freelance writer also from Atlanta. This book’s format is that it is divided into nine different sections and each of these sections is further subdivided into one to three page essays. The short essay format works wonderfully because those few pages are usually packed with truth and gravity, and they are easy to read. Lupton conveys deep theological and relational truths through the lens of his experiences in urban Atlanta. The gospel presented by Lupton is one that applies directly to the poor, downtrodden, oppressed and broken-hearted; in actuality those for whom Jesus came. He writes about our modern world of efficiency and organized ministry and how they often directly oppose the interactions Christ calls us to as his followers.

Lupton presents God’s economy as one living for today. The church exists to give away. The resources are pooled and then disbursed, nothing is saved, for God will provide the next time the offering plates pass around. Lupton’s words can anger his readers; “the church must be financially responsible!” we cry. “The church cannot spend itself carelessly,” say the board members. Lupton gently and radically shows, however, that the church by definition cannot exist for the future and savings accounts. As the Body of Christ, we are called to spend ourselves without saving. We trust God will provide the next day. We can think of the Israelites wandering in the desert, receiving food from heaven. They were commanded not to gather more that they needed; if they hoarded, it would rot. Lupton’s writings about God’s economics make us wonder if our modern churches don’t experience similar concepts when we store wealth.

The writing itself is poignant and powerful, showing the disturbing tragedies of poverty, urban ethics and survival, and misguided ministerial charity programs. Lupton writes with skill and depth unexpected from such brief vignettes. He shares his own shortcomings, misconceptions and breakthroughs and his honesty convicts and spurs the reader to examine his own heart and absolutely penetrates to the core. Lupton writes as one who takes Jesus at his word; that the world should know us as his followers by our love for one another, and our lives should be marked by extraordinary community. The themes he writes about are filled with the applications and buzzwords that are currently moving throughout Christianity. His themes of social justice, real, deep relationships, allegiance to Christ, and even political issues like abortion, gay rights, war and pacifism, and elections speak directly to a reader in 2008, though it was written in 1988.
It seems like Lupton’s honesty and discernment help his words cut so deeply to our own core, twenty years later. As one who desire’s to live like Jesus and take his teaching to heart, Lupton’s words convict me to love people through the messiness and reality of life, to understand that my time and life are not my own, but God’s to direct and ordain. I also feel connected with Lupton’s writings about inner-city ministry because there are parts of Hawaii that closely resemble Lupton’s Atlanta. Some areas of Honolulu obviously are inner city, but also, some areas of Hawaiian homestead land deal with the same issues of poverty, generational welfare, survival ethics and more. I don’t say this to bash those people, but rather, it seems like that mentality can arise wherever areas of government-subsidized housing exist for some time. There are sort of ghetto-survival situations that arise, and the areas of Hawaii, mirror Lupton’s descriptions of inner city Georgia. I can honestly say that this book about the author’s inner city Atlanta experiences has burdened my heart for the people of Oahu.

There are too many quotes I could include and as I reread the book, will probably post more, but I wanted to conclude with a quote from the final essay, “Snowflakes and Sunsets,”.

I think God must detest sameness. At least, he has gone to great lengths to avoid it. Every snowflake, every cloud, every flower is unique. He has created and continues to create an endless variety of trees, bugs, sunsets and beasts. He has created billions of human beings, every one an original…And humans…are given the high privilege of being cocreators with God.

I suspect that one of the results of the fall for humans was the loss of some of our creativity. Not all of it, of course, We still are quite capable of creating symphonies and paintings and children and other beautiful things. But I think that sin brought with it sameness. Boredom. Monotony. Instead of being cocreators with God, we opted for making molds.

Lupton uses this incredible image to lead into a discussion of the city as a melting pot, which he concludes by wondering why God’s selection for our final dwelling place to be the city of God. Lupton’s appreciation for God’s diversity and creativity is contagious, he reminds us of God’s creativity and helps us to love God more for it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who will listen to me, and look forward to reading it many more times, both for the beautiful reminder of God’s kingdom, as well as the invitation to participate.

The whole purpose of this post is to link you to a hilarious story Annie recorded from the dinner we had tonight with a few high school guys.  She tells it well and the only way I can prepare you is to let you know we figured out where the devil went to school and what his major was.

Click here, read on and enjoy, btw Go Bruins!

Well, I promised some forthcoming substantial blog posts and I apologize because this is not one of them, instead this is a review of John Mayer’s most recent album, sharing the title of this post.  So from now on my reviews, both literature and music will bear the title’s of the specific work, thus the above title.  Well, here we go (I also start off by explaining the reasoning for my reviewing on this site)…

In attempts to increase my written work output, as well as improve my own creativity, discipline and writing quality, I have decided not only to review the books I am currently reading through, but also new music I hear and or purchase.  Anyway, that being said I will start by reviewing my most recent musical purchase, John Mayer’s Where the Light Is; Live in Los Angeles.  Mayer’s website says that the album was recorded in Los Angeles on December 8, 2007 at the Nokia Theatre LA.  The album is a 22 song set and lasts for 2 full hours.
I will make no apologies in my love for this album.  I am impressed by the innovative format Mayer presents to the audience.  The show starts with a classic acoustic set with 5 songs that should please his pop-loving fans.  He opens with a mellow, jazzy version of Neon, moves into a mellow version of Stop This Train, and then introduces many listeners to In Your Atmosphere, an acoustic ballad with incredible guitar rhythms and melodies.  From there, a second guitar joins him and adds some twangy slides to Daughters.  He finishes the acoustic set with an impressive cover of Free Fallin’.
Mayer begins the second set with a rockin cover of BB King’s Everyday I have the Blues.  This loud and grooving number starts his trio set, where he plays the next 8 songs with his Trio (bassist Pino Palladino, and Drummer Steve Jordan).  The set functions as a similar but updated version to the Trio’s album Try! Performing many of the same songs, but updating with variations. Anyway, the set continues with another cover, Wait Until’ Tomorrow is again awesome, and that leads into their previous single, Who Did You Think I Was.  The Trio moves into Come When I Call, a classically inspired number that evokes classic trio blues, then moves to a funkier version of Good Love Is On The Way, followed by their slow blues number, Out Of My Mind (a song you get by only purchasing the album) and they rock the song for 10 minutes of slow blues.  They finish the trio set with their upbeat blues numbers Vultures and Bold As Love.
The third and final set arrives in similar upbeat bluesy style as his full band plays Waitin’ On The World To Change.  The blues feel continues with Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, then the band changes the feel and jumps into Why Georgia, channeling his earlier acoustic-pop work.  They keep a the acoustic pop style by playing The Heart of Life, then switch back to their grooving, rocking blues with a cover of Ray Charles, I Don’t Need No Doctor.  They then move into a set from Continuum, as the play Gravity, I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You), Belief, and I’m Gonna Find Another You.  The style of the last four songs also channels the feeling of Continuum, providing the blues base, with pop and rock variances and layers.
Again, my opinion is incredibly biased, I love John Mayer’s music and I love it even more as he has begun exploring the classic blues style.  This album, I feel combines everything that Mayer fans hope for, with the three sets, two hours of melt-your-face-guitar rock and blues, with Mayer playing on both his acoustic and electric guitars.  His lyrics and vocals also channel blues greats of the past, adding a more soulful quality than his earlier stuff.  I listen to this album often and I love it more every time I hear it.  I personally recommend listening to the whole album loudly on some quality speakers with plenty of bass.  So there is my first review and I hope it proves to be a little informative for you readers.

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