January 2014

January 29, 2014

Surfing and the Fear of Missing Out

Originally published on the StoreYourBoard.com blog.

A friend sent me this picture earlier in the week with the caption, "Too bad we're at work...."
A big WNW swell has been hitting Los Angeles all week, but I'm likely going to miss it because the sun comes up as I'm on my way to work, and goes down before I get home. To make matters worse, my car broke down last week, so the bus has doubled my commute time, making an early evening surf session impossible. The swell is weakening as the week goes by, from what I hear, so by the time Saturday hits, I'll have missed the best parts. So what do I do in a crisis such as this? I've narrowed it down to a few options:
  • Quit my job and go surfing
  • Call in "sick" and go surfing
  • Miss the swell
The first option sounds pretty appealing, but not so practical. Number two is against my code of ethics. So that leaves option three -- and with it comes two sub-options: complain or deal with it. And so I sit at my desk, looking out the window as the wind gently pushes the palm trees outside, imagining those palm trees were beachfront and that I was there, catching what could be the best waves of my life. But would they be the best waves of my life? Maybe. But they could also end up being big ugly close-outs that are next-to-impossible to drop in on.

I'll never know, and that's where the anxiety lies -- missing out on unknown potential. Fear of missing out is an epidemic running rampant these days, usually tied to social media. But surfers have been feeling this for decades, as the responsibilities of life often don't line up with nature's gifts. Even when we're on the water, you hear arguments because other surfers snake waves. Or maybe you get mad because you slipped on that last drop in and you swear it was going to be the best wave you've ever ridden.
Take delight, even on a crappy day -- fun is what it's all about, right?
Expectation and imagined potential are the enemies here. I can sit at my desk and picture perfect barrels over my head, when in reality it's probably as dumpy as the aftermath of my last Taco Bell visit. I can look at a wave and imagine myself hitting every corner, spraying beautiful ocean mist over all the applauding onlookers...but we all know that's not happening. I'm not one to preach realistic expectations in life, but avoiding regret in the water (and life) involves a healthy balance between optimism and reality.

The other key to fighting FOMO is being happy where you're at (aka - contentment). After all, if you're stuck dwelling on missed opportunities, you won't be living optimally in the moment. Yeah, I missed the peak part of the swell, but maybe I'll catch some nice waves on Saturday...and it might be huge, or it could be a bust. But as any surfer will tell you, "It's always nice to get out on the water," and that's enough.

 Everyone deals with this -- anybody have more tips for enjoying life when you can't make the swell?

January 27, 2014

Free Your Mind - All In #3

All In #3, by Joseph Barkley, can by found here.

I don't want to write too much, because these notes below have a lot of good information from the sermon - please read and consider them. I will say, though, that as I revisit this sermon, something feels missing...

Renewing your mind is a bit of an abstract concept, and even though Joseph gives some practical insights below, applying ideas that aren't concrete or fully understood seems like an empty practice. Sometimes depending on Jesus as a person even seems too abstract to accomplish, but what God's been teaching me lately is that scripture is where to begin on this.

If you're struggling with something, lack direction or feel like you're missing out on Jesus as a person, go to the bible. Really study, deep and thoughtful. Ponder the words, whether you understand them or not. Pray about them. God will show up. I promise. I'm going through it now, and it's funny how simple it can be, but also how easy it is to ignore God's word in your life (as if there is some kind of enemy keeping you from it...hmm...?).

Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

  • Worship = a fixation on something that re-orients our lives; a way of responding that is all in
  • God wants to change your life
    • Think about the gravity of that principle -- He doesn't just want to add to life, He wants to alter your existence
  • God urges us to be different
    • Say "no" to the world
    • Say "yes" to God's principles
  • Two reason to do this:
    • "...you will be able to test and approve God's will..."
      • God wants to give us an increased capacity to know what He's thinking
    • "...you will be transformed"
      • Same verb used here for the transfiguration of Jesu
        • Jesus revealed the glory of who He is
        • God will reveal who you really are -- there is a version of you you don't even know yet
  • This is more than just saying no to sex, drugs and rock-and-roll
    • We could clean up our behavior and never be changed
  • To change your life, change your mind
    • Changing our mind involves changing our thought patterns
  • Three thought patterns that we're born with with:
    • Autonomy: we can do what we want, when we want and we are not accountable; we are alone in the universe, left up to our own devices
      • Our culture really reinforces this
      • This leads us to demand God to explain Himself to us
      • We want to be the arbiter of our relationship to God
    • Desire: what I want must be what I need; what I want is who I am
      • This says that anything else is oppressive and restrictive
      • It's destructive to be slave to your desire
      • The loneliest moment is when we get everything we want and it's still not enough
        • Ecclesiastes 2:11 - "But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless--like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere."
      • What desire do I have that God must deliver to prove that He loves me?
        • Could even be a good thing..."she noticed that the fruit looked good." (Genesis 3:6)
        • What we're really saying is, "I want that thing more than God."
      • This eventually leads to disappointment...what we want isn't always what we need
    • Moment: What we do right now does not have any lasting effect on the future.
      • This says that my action or inaction today won't matter long term
      • God wants us to be present, but also make the most of the present
      • Today will one day be your past...is this the story that you want your future self to be able to tell?
      • You know that your present will one day be your past, so why not create a different past for your future by changing your present?
  • If these thought patterns are taken together, there is nothing you cannot justify
    • God wants to save us from this delusion
  • How do you change your mind?
    • God's provided everything we need to change our minds
    • Practice dependence on God
      • Ask God to make your mind newer
    • Celebrate what God's already done
      • God's already given His Son, so why not trust Him?
        • Never get over this
    • Take control over education
      • Everything we consume is education
      • Stay in scripture every day
      • Be an active participant in the patterns of today -- engage with culture (converse, challenge, see beauty in)
    • Expect a journey
      • This is an ongoing process
      • This takes time...but God wants to spend time with us
        • God is on time -- you are right where He wants you
  • Transformation begins on the inside


January 21, 2014

Dispelling the Worship Myth - All In #2

That's an interesting title for the second sermon in the "All In" series, isn't it? In here, Joseph says some things about being "present" in worship. Lately, living in the present moment is something that has been coming up a bit in my life, so I'll write about that...

I listened to this quick video, which talks about how often "today" is used in the bible...
  • 2 Corinthians 6:2 - "For God says, 'At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.' Indeed, the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation."
  • Matthew 6:11 - "Give us today our daily bread."
  • Genesis 24:12 - "Then he prayed, 'Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.'"
  • (Here's a search on it if you want more.)
So much of our lives are about tomorrow (the next job, retirement, buying a house), and I'd wager that a lot of our prayers are similar. But God is here, right now; active today. How does that affect you?

The other day I was trying to put myself in the mindset that God is taking care of me right now. In that place, I literally don't have to worry about anything because God is real, and has promised to take care of me. Try and exist in that moment - where God is literally holding you in His hand. You are sustained, right now, because of God. That's beautiful and freeing.

I have been pretty stressed this week with an overload of responsibilities and activities outside of work; so much so that I woke up this morning with a headache just trying to figure out how I'm going to do everything I need to do. On the way to work, I was thinking about how there was literally nothing at that moment I could do to help me finish any of those things, and so what was the point of worrying about them? This isn't a reckless abandonment of responsibility, but rather existing in the moment, because that's all I have.

Here are some notes from the sermon, based on Romans 12:1.

Romans 12:1 - "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship."

  • What does God want in response to His gift of grace?
    • Worship
  • God is only honored with a particular form of worship.
    • There is "true and proper" worship - holy worship
  • What is "holy worship?"
    • Holy = set apart; anything that is in line with God's particular way of life
    • Worship = fixation that determines your behavior
    • 3 characteristics of holy worship
      • Worship that honors God is conscious
        • "true and proper worship" or some translations have "reasonable"
        • Deliberate, calculated; the head and the heart
        • Present - aware, immersed
      • Worship that honors God is comprehensive
        • "offer your bodies" - our most valuable possession, everything!
          • You are letting go of control and entitlement
          • This is saying that nothing is off limits to God
          • God wants our dreams, our pasts, our futures, everything...trusting God's mercy for our past and His hope for our future.
      • Worship that honors God is continuous
        • "living sacrifice"
        • Worship doesn't just happen at church or in moments - it's perpetual
  • Life is like a big arrow made up of a bunch of little arrows
    • Worship is asking God to align all of the little arrows (conversations, events, etc.) to orient the big arrow towards Him
  • Is worship a normal part of life or the anomaly?
    • Are worship events the rare thing?
    • This doesn't mean adding more church events
    • If worship is the anomaly, be patient -- it's an entire life change
  • God wants what He paid for, and giving that up to Him is really aligning our lives with where it fits anyway

Note: This was written some time ago, so present tense items are not actually present tense, which is ironic in a way, given the subject matter.

January 14, 2014

Something Worth Everything - All in #1

It's been a while since I've posted. The holidays slowed me down a bit, and I've also been surf blogging for StoreYourBoard.com! Check out the blog here.

Now, back to sermons and such...

Here is the first in a series from Joseph Barkley at Ecclesia Church...ALL IN! It's a study of Romans 12, and this first sermon is a quick summary of Romans 1-11.

Joseph talks about how there are certain things in life you can't do halfway, like cartwheels or backflips. I would add dropping into a vert ramp (watch Jason do it in this video at 4:27).

I remember dropping into that same vert on a skateboard -- it took me about an hour of staring over the edge in fear. It's especially scary because you can't do it halfway or ease into it. You either drop in and roll to the other side, or you fall -- all or nothing.

All or nothing is a scary concept, but isn't that the way to live? As the Avett Brothers sing, "One foot in and one foot back, but it don't pay to live like that. So I cut the ties and I jumped the tracks, for never to return." That really resonates with me, as I want to make sure my time here is well-spent. Given the choice, wouldn't you pick a risky and fulfilling life over a comfortable one? It's dangerous, but as skateboarding has taught me, things are more fun with a little danger mixed in.

The sermon can be found here: http://www.churchinhollywood.com/media.php?pageID=15

Here are some notes:
  • The Christian life is not meant to be experienced halfway
  • Is the Christian life just a checklist of things to do and not do?
    • Is this all that God wants from us?
  • A survey of Romans 1-11
    • Paul means "small" in Greek - insignificant
      • Makes sense considering Paul's change from a person actively opposing Christianity to promoting it
    • The church in Rome was started by some unknown Christians
      • Their faith was famous (Romans 1:8)
      • This letter is Paul arming the Roman church with information on how what God was doing through them relates to the rest of the world/culture
    •  Lots of "-tions"
      • Condemnation: we all deserve judgement
      • Predestination: God chose us before the world began
      • Glorification: God will see us through to the end, until we become the people He knows we can be
      • Propitiation: God's wrath has been satisfied - He is not angry anymore
        • He was angry at our separation from Him because of, and the destruction caused by, sin
      • Justification: We are not guilty
      • Redemption: Everything is forgiven
      • Regeneration: We are reborn - a new creation
      • Reconciliation: We are not enemies of God, but friends
      • Adoption: We are more than friends, we are children of God
      • Sanctification: the ongoing work of God in our lives to grow us more into Christ's likeness
    • Ch. 1-3: Bad news first - what humans are like
      • We are born with a destiny of death in sin
      • There is nothing we can do about it
      • We are born a little out of place - we have a soul that longs for more than we can provide for ourselves
    • After this...God knew about this, and was willing to do what we couldn't do to fix it
      • The cross does this, which is only received by faith
        • You have to trust that this is enough...it's not the cross + __________.
      • This begins to unravel everything we thought we could get out of life
    • In light of this faith, our new nature begins to take shape
      • Romans 6:18 - "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."
      • We have been freed from our old destiny - Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
      • Paul says most of the time he feels like a failure
        • The well-worn ruts of our old direction
        • This is a new war within us, and our tendency is to fall back towards modifying behavior
      • The answer is "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1
      • As you trust God more, you can have complete peace because this is not going anywhere.
    • This is available to everybody
  • "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship."- Romans 12:1
    • God wants complete surrender - your whole self, all in.
    • John 12:24-25 "Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal."
      • Love God with all your heart, soul, strength
    • In view of this complete surrender, we are no longer entitled to anything in this life
  • We have a tendency to trade "all-in" for rituals and behavior.
    • We become afraid that God will ask us to do something weird (live in a hut in Africa and never get married)
    • God is a father, the best Father, so we can trust that He knows and does what is best for us
    • "All-in" also is way better than anything we can get in life
      • We are not asked to give up, but trade up
    • We have given ourselves to something (a dream, relationship, identity), so why not give everything to Someone who knows us and how precious we are?
  • Be honest with God, who is asking for everything...talk to Him about that.