Gaspwapuua, a Wapuu based on Tampa Bay's Gasparilla

My First Wapuu: Gaspwapuua

Going into WordCamp Miami this year, I discovered the craze that is Wapuu. The little Pikachu-looking dude was everywhere! I thought it was interesting (in the “cool… but slightly odd” sense) that the original Wapuu art was licensed under the GPL rather than something better known to artistic types, like Creative Commons. But I’m guessing that was part of the intent behind the decision: to use this mascot to educate people on the license itself.

But that’s boring. You know what’s not boring? Making silly pictures!

So anyway, I learned about this Wapuu thing and almost immediately wanted to get in on the action. In particular, those wild and crazy people over in Japan really cut loose and came up with some amazing variations on the theme. It looked like each WordCamp was slowly beginning to spin up its own local version(s) of Wapuu. I wanted to do something along those lines, but didn’t know what. And since WordCamp Miami was already covered (and TBH, I don’t feel like I know Miami enough to reflect it with something like this), I started to look elsewhere. And ahead. And a little closer to home.

The pirate José Gaspar may or may not have actually existed. The legend is that around the beginning of the 19th century, he was a Spanish pirate who spent much of his time off the Gulf coast of Florida. Tampa now holds an annual pirate festival called “Gasparilla”, which is also (conveniently) the pirate’s nickname.

I thought Gasparilla was a fun concept, and was also a part of the Tampa community that was (a) quickly recognized, and (b) not related to a sports team. 🙂 So I did a quick sketch in Paper on my iPad, then imported that into Illustrator to tighten up.

It was just a fun little thing I whipped up in my free time, but I’m happy with it. Released under the GPL, I’ve got a vector version available as either PDF or SVG on Dropbox.

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[Rest from your] Labor Day

(These thoughts were spurred by a post by Seth Godin on “scuff-proof shoes”.)

Just like Adam and Eve in the garden, our tendency when we sin is to pull away and hide, both from others and from God (Genesis 3:8). But we’re told that by doing this — hiding our screw-ups is essentially the same as claiming not to have any — we’re both lying and calling God a liar (1 John 1:8-10).

(It’s also exhausting.)

Like Adam and Eve, it’s when we come out into the open (being honest with God, ourselves, and the people we’ve wronged) that we receive His mercy, healing, and rest (1 John 1:9, 2:1-2; Hebrews 4:9-11).

But unlike them, the sacrifice made to atone for our sins and cleanse us is far superior than the animals slain to cover their shame (Genesis 3:21; Hebrews 9:13-15): their atonement was accompanied by curses (Genesis 3:16-19) and banishment (Genesis 3:23); through Christ, ours is accompanied by God adopting us as His own sons and daughters — and promises of a rich inheritance befitting our new status as His children (Ephesians 1:4-14)!

We are the recipients of such amazing blessings and promises — blessings and promises God prepared for us when we were still His sworn enemies (Romans 5:8-11)! So when we sin, let’s not shrink back into the shadows like our “first parents”, thinking we can cover our failures and shame by our own efforts — and all the while, those very efforts robbing us of the forgiveness and healing God can provide. Instead, “let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16).

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

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We love and reason because God loves and reasons…

(Longer quote on Facebook.)

I love the way Lewis describes this, because when people say things like, “well if God’s in control, then what does it matter what I do?” I feel the same as when I’m helping my kids form letters (or shapes), and their grip goes slack because I’m guiding the pencil’s movement. It’s like the point of what we’re doing is lost on them — as if so long as the triangle’s drawn, our work is done.

Of course, if I wanted to get a triangle on a piece of paper, I could do it all by myself — and with a lot less trouble, to boot. But the goal of the exercise isn’t the triangle; it’s that my children learn — in a real, first-hand, experiential way — how triangles are made.

Asaph the Psalmist quotes God talking about our obedience in relation to His needs:

“I do not need the bulls from your barns
    or the goats from your pens.
For all the animals of the forest are mine,
    and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird on the mountains,
    and all the animals of the field are mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
    for all the world is mine and everything in it.”

— Psalm 50:9-12 (NLT)

God doesn’t call us to “love and reason” — and pray, and read the Scriptures, and care for the poor, and extend hospitality to strangers, and sing our hearts out to Him — because He needs anything from us. He calls us to these things because His goal is to make us like Him:

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

— 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJ)

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

— Philippians 2:12b-13 (ESV)

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Dunbar’s General Store

When an economy operates locally, everyone in it enjoys some measure of power. But when an economy operates globally, only a select few ever rise to a level of power.

Dan says that statement seems backward, but if you toss Dunbar’s number into the equation, I think it all makes sense.

When the scope of the economy is, say, 50-250 people, then (generally speaking) each person is able to maintain a relationship with each other person in the group. These connections keep us “in the loop,” which is absolutely necessary for one to retain that measure of economic power.

When the scope is increased to over 5 billion people, there will be only a very few who are able to forge and maintain a sufficient number of relationships to key players. Those few become the key players, and it’s only by their maintaining those relationships (or by being pursued by other key players) that they retain their power and influence.

Granting that we don’t like such a system, what would the solution be? We can’t force people to not use the transportation and communication tools at their disposal—particularly when doing so appears to be economically sound. (Just look at the environmentalist movements of the 20th century: it’s still the case that, for the vast majority of humankind, “earth-friendly” alternatives are only pursued when they are cheaper, more convenient, or both.) Very few households are truly willing to pay higher prices supporting local economies when they can save a few bucks buying from China.

How did this happen? It’s said that “if you tax something, you get less of it.” For decades our Local, State and Federal governments have increased taxes and regulations on businesses within this nation’s borders while removing tariffs and other barriers to trade with foreign nations. The result is that it’s cheaper to have food shipped over by boat or plane from the other side of the planet than it is to stock shelves with produce from the farmer on the edge of town.

Ultimately, I don’t think we can say that the customer is the one to blame. Free trade with other nations has been pursued at the same time that trade amongst ourselves has been made more and more restrictive. (It’s gotten to where you risk fines, or even jail time, for keeping an eye on your friends’ kids for a few minutes “without a license”!) So if you want to change the system, you may need to change the system.

coffee talk, by AnyaLogic on Flickr

Talk that’s “good for building up”

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

This passage from the Bible has been on my radar lately. I wanted to take a few minutes and share my thoughts on it, because it seems like one of those scriptures that we can misunderstand when we read it through the lens of our culture.

This verse marks the last of four times in this epistle where Paul uses the same word (Gr. oikodome, but your translation probably says something like “good for building up,” or “edifying”). Even so, when I’ve heard pastors preach on this topic they’ve typically focused in on an understanding of the word that’s informed solely by the verse itself, and divorced from other passages where Paul’s usage could shed light on what he means by it. This sort of thing always bugs me: if pastors are trying to build a true understanding of what Paul’s telling us to do here, then at the very least they ought to point us to those previous instances of the word. Right?

Because let me tell ya… it certainly helps it all make sense!

Here’s all four appearances of oikodome as they’re translated in the ESV. (more…)

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NASA Exists for the Glory of God

What if, when Jesus spoke of “the world,” he really meant exactly what it says in the Greek: that is, the kosmos (universe)? How would it change our approach to the various fruits of the Gospel?

“For God so loved the [universe], that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the [universe] to condemn the [universe], but in order that the [universe] might be saved through him.” — John 3:16-17 (ESV)

And no, I’m not talking about universalism–that’s a whole different beast. What I’m talking about is this idea that’s grabbed me—that maybe John 3:16 has less to do with God loving “each individual person” and more with loving his entire creation and seeking its redemption. Like Paul told the believers in Corinth:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. — 1 Corinthians 8:19-24 (ESV)

The entire universe was “subjected to futility,” “its bondage to corruption”–that is, entropy–along with us, so that it will also be restored along with us! It is an unbiblical notion that God only sent Jesus to redeem people. When man sinned, the universe cracked under the weight of our guilt. Jesus has come, and is coming again to make all things new!

And he said to them, “Go into all the [universe] and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” — Mark 16:15 (ESV)

And what has NASA done with the Hubble telescope? And what of all the many television and radio signals shooting off into the ether? Whether they intended to or not is beside the point; the gospel is being proclaimed by the whole creation and to the whole creation.

“And then the end will come.” The end where he says,

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Just think about that for a minute: a day is coming when living a life apart from God… and tears… and death… and mourning… and crying… and pain will all be “former things.”

That’s a Sabbath rest worth getting excited about! 🙂

The Saints are Kings and Priests

It is a severe violation of the adult conscience to treat the saints as children under the over-lordship of elders. The ultimate effect of treating the saints as children is that they will either remain children in their understanding as they submit to bondage, or they will rebel. Elders exercise appropriate authority as fathers within their own households, but their role in the assembly is not as fathers and lords over children and servants, but as elder brothers in the faith and humble servants to the whole.

Source: Steve Atkerson, New Testament Church Leadership

What Makes for a Strong Leader?

Then the Elder continued, “What if a truly strong leader is one who is un-threatened enough to actually, honestly listen to the input of those around them, precisely because (a) they are secure in their identity in Christ, and (b) they know they need the voices of others to adequately hear what God is saying to the whole group? What if the ‘weak’ leader is really the one who insists on his or her own personal vision, and is too threatened to consider the voices of anyone else?”

“Maybe it takes more cajones to NOT insist on the leader’s ‘vision’, or ‘strategy’, and to trust that the Spirit speaks through the Body, hmm?”, he asked, gesturing with open hands.

Source: Robby Mac, Through The Looking-Glass