The whisper that begins Christmas

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:1‬


And so begins the Christmas story, catapulted without context into watching as two young Israelites travel to Bethlehem. Cue the shepherds, angels, and wise men and suddenly a baby lying in a manger. 

Normally my spirit can be found standing in awe of this Light of Heaven. This season however, I’ve found myself wrestling a bit more with what lies before Luke 2. 

The years that are so neatly summarized “In those days.” Those days were a time of darkness and stillness that lasted 400 years. No prophets, no Word from God, no new sermons, just darkness that has blinded much of the World to the Messiah’s arrival. 
In those days is a very uncomfortable place. Desert places where there are no Angels singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Where the world seems cold and dark. Where God himself seems distant and heaven is closed. 
Those are not places that inspire hymns or revival sermons but they are very much a part of our journey.
I wonder what it would have been like to be a follower of YHWH in those 400 years. I imagine them to marked by dwindling services with waning devotion. Where the culture of following YHWH seems to be all but lost. Just a remnant holding to distant Hope.

Prayers seem trite, devotions become an act of habit rather than actual discipleship, and fears and doubt continually dampen the fire of the Spirit. Where faith is a bit more than a flicker

Then a whisper. 

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:25-26‬ 

God whispers to Simeon.

The Messiah is coming soon and you will see him. 

To be told in the midst of 400 years of silence that the Messiah, the rescuer, is coming seems ridiculous. How does Simeon even process this? It seems too good to be true. And then…

I can feel Simeon’s heart explode as he watches Mary and Joseph enter the temple. The tears on his face as he takes Jesus in his hands. 

“for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:30-32‬ ‭

My spiritual imagination has him wanting to shout these words as he holds up the Messiah in a Lion King Simba pose.

A declaration of salvation and victory for all people!!! Behold the Messiah.
This whispered promise to Simeon that surely happened a few years before Luke 2 is, for me, the beginning of Christmas. 

The whisper that says,

darkness does not win

silence does not last

the distance of God is going to be forever shattered in one word.
IMMANUEL

God with us.

And that my friends makes Christmas and the miracle of it that much more awe inspiring.

Pardon me while I go stand in the awe of the light because I remember the dark.

Merry Christmas.

Notice of GPG Key Update

This is a notice that as of Apr 2, 2016 my GPG key has been replaced. My previous key has been revoked and my new key has been published to the keyserver pool. This change was to improve the quality and security of my GPG keys.

My new GPG Key is

 Key fingerprint: 95E3 8B55 9E9F 15BA AF41 CFB7 4390 FB8A C4C5 3435
 Key ID  (long): 0x4390FB8AC4C53435
 Key ID (short): 0xC4C53435

Verification:

  1. I have verified my key at http://keybase.io/tsudo
  2. I have published the public key to my website at http://keithcrawford.me/95E38B559E9F15BAAF41CFB74390FB8AC4C53435.txt
  3. I have updated by twitter profile with my GPG Key ID at https://twitter.com/tsudo

Keith S. Crawford
2016-04-03 00:26

===

You may view a signed copy of this announcement here to verify it’s authenticity.

Network Weaving and Discovery with Hashable

I keep having backchannel conversations about this app so I figured it’s time to share some insight into why I really dig Hashable.  What is it? Why do you care? Where is it going?

hashable

What is Hashable?

Hashable bills itself as a service to track relationships. In its most basic form you post updates about interactions and it builds a relationship graph from those updates.

Most of the updates are posted through Twitter or the mobile app. It’s light weight, laser focused, and amazing useful.

Here’s an example of how it works:

2011-03-08_2301

My friend Liza posts that she’s having a meeting to Hashable so it adds the connection. In the future if she has lunch or bumps into Karen she can post those interactions and Hashable will show a stronger relationship.

This is all there is to using Hashable.

Why should you care?

Imagine there was a service where people you trusted and respected shared their connections. What if you shared your connections and could begin to see how your networks overlapped and interacted? Now stop imagining, its called Hashable.

It’s so simple, great folks sharing great folks. I’ve introduced people to it and found a few underwhelmed reactions while I stand there pointing at the greatest Follow Friday network you’ve ever seen.

Facebook and Twitter are both clamoring to suggest people we should follow or friend. The difference is they are asking me to use an algorithim I don’t trust while Hashable provides me a way to find recommendations from people I do trust.

Where is it going?

I’m a bit bullish on services I really like but I see more potential in Hashable than anything I’ve found in over a year. Here’s where I hope their headed

  • Contact Sharing – Post a #justmet and exchange contact info on the go
  • Network Serendipity – I meet someone and then discover they had lunch with my good friend Brian a few months ago. Instant rapport.
  • Nearby intros – I checkin to a conference and hashable tells me that Susan, a person I do not know but I’m almost connected to has checked in to the same venue.
  • Network Visualization – Give Hashable 6 months and they’ll have a better view of my people network than any other service.

Getting Started

I hope you’ll give Hashable a try and if so feel free to say #thanks

I’ll end with a few practical tips to get you up an running.

  • Twitter options – Tell hashable to record who you are with from your Foursquare tweets and choose the Broadcast any tweet option so you don’t need to /cc @hashable. (Settings->Twitter)
  • Inner Circle – A recent feature from hashable that works like a trusted circle of friends. People in my inner circle can see more contact information and they’re stream is broken into a separate tab. (I use it for better listening)
  • Twitter not requried – Folks don’t have to be on Twitter for you to post a connection. Email works fine.
  • Double duty – A tip I learned from @bryanjones use the #meet #lunch tags in  your Gowalla checkin and post to twitter.

Want more info on Hashable and its future? Check out @scobleizer’s interview with Hashable CEO Michael Yavonditte

Wear Sunscreen

Few videos are worth more than a few moments viewing this is a wonderful exception. I hope the advice is as good of a reminder as it was for me.

Wear Sunscreen or the Sunscreen Speech are the common names of an essay actually called “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young” written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997.

Anything but another blog

How I got here

I started my journey into blogging almost 6 years ago as a 2 bit blogger ranting about politics on blogspot.  As a unrepentant geek I soon discovered a passion for writing about technology. A few name changes and a few thousand hours later and I’ve built a little tech blog called KnowtheNetwork.com

<shamelessplug> tech, social media, business networks and more go there </endshamelessplug>

The problem with building a blog around a topic like technology and social media is that as your audience grows you no longer have a personal blog. The expectations of your readers win out. It’s an awesome problem to encounter but I miss having a personal blog.

I need another blog like I need a hole in the head

So I solved this problem with little blogs scattered everywhere

  • a Mobile/Personal blog on Posterous
  • an interesting-things-I-find blog on Tumblr
  • a political blog
  • an the most recent addition – a family blog

It has just become too much, so I’m simplifying things and creating a space once again for just me and my voice.

So what will KeithCrawford.me be?

Me.

My life, thoughts, faith, family, and ramblings about becoming a Dad, a better husband, and striving to be a better me. This will take the place of my mobile blog and family blog but beyond the simplification I once again to have an opportunity to just write. I’m happy about that.

5 sites to be a better informed citizen

As often as I rail against the ridiculous actions of our government it is ultimately the fault of a voting public that is more informed about the latest Lil Wayne lyrics than the actions of their elected representatives. (It bears mentioning that a cursory knowledge of history and economics can be quite handy as well.)

So as a public service here is a list of 5 websites to educate yourself and become a more informed citizen. I highly suggest you Bookmark and Subscribe so that you aren’t surprised when your rights are regulated into oblivion.

 

1. Govtrack.us – This is the best of the best. You can track specific members of congress, committees, issues, and the progress of individual bills. In addition to offering excellent email and RSS updates for your tracked items it is also the best source for bill information.

2. OpenCongress.org – OpenCongress offers the same tracking features as Govtrack.us (their data is actually provided by Govtrack) but they have added commentary and news coverage to provide a more comprehensive picture of the state of legislation. Check out their Hot Bills page for a start.

3. FedSpending.org – This site details the fiscal spending of the federal government. Don’t expect to be encouraged by their data but you should know where your tax dollars are being spent. To begin choose the contract database and then select your home state to see the amount of money that your state has been awarded in contracts and who it has been awarded to. Where else could you find that General Dynamics was awarded $179M in contracts?

4. VoteSmart.org – The elected official information clearinghouse. Bios, voting records, and committee seats are all found through this bipartisan project.

5. OpenSecrets.org – An amazing resource to gain insight on the bedfellows of money and politics. Discover the top corporate contributors to a candidate or see their which lobbying groups have spent the most for a candidate. You can spend hours digging through the wealth of information at OpenSecrets.

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. — Thomas Jefferson (sadly the inverse is also very true).

New York, New York

I insert very little of my personal life into KnowtheNetwork.com but I’m making an exception for this post.

My wife and I leave for NYC tomorrow and we are ecstatic. It’s always been a dream of ours to spend Christmas in New York City and that’s exactly what we are doing this year. I’ve been to New York City several times on business but I’ve never had the pleasure of being a tourist. There won’t be many technical posts here until after we return but if you follow my twitter stream you’re sure to see updates from our trip.

If you have any tips or advice feel free to pass them along via email (tsudohnimh at Gmail) or twitter.

I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas. May God bless you and keep you as we celebrate the greatest gift of all, the gift of a Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord Luke 2:10-11

Reaping what we Sow, how the GOP abandoned America.

The good news is that in 2008 Conservative principles did not lose in an election. The bad news is that they weren’t even in the running. Conservative principles win elections. It is only when the Republican party of this country abandons the principles that it was founded on do we find ourselves losing.

Why did McCain fight an uphill road? Allow me to answer that with another question.

What difference has the GOP really offered in the past 8 years?

The Republican party has abandoned fiscal responsibility, limited federal government, individual liberty, and policy accountability. Sure there is a difference concerning defense strategy and foreign policy but those pale in comparison to the matters of domestic and economic policy. We are reaping the harvest of offering nothing but the same old same old to the American people.

The Bush administration & GOP has spurned federal oversight from Gitmo to FISA.

The Bush administration & GOP has spurned fiscal responsibility.

The Bush administration & GOP has done NOTHING about border control and immigration.

The GOP (not necessarily McCain) deserved to lose.

It is my sincere hope that this will be the opportunity to purge our bloated party and return to the ideals that make this country great. It took the Carter years to bring us Reagan. I honestly don’t know what this country will look like in 4 years but if Republicans will become Conservatives again we will prevail.

Thoughts on President Obama

The race is over. Obama will be our next President. Obviously I am disappointed and I fear for the future of my country. However, I want to remind my conservative brethren that he is now the President Elect and deserves the respect of that office. I will continue to stand for the conservative principles that have built the greatest country the world has ever known. Slander nor disrespect have any place when speaking of any President. Let us hold ourselves to a higher honor.

May freedom and liberty overcome.

Congratulations President Obama. May God guide you and keep you.