August 2014

August 27, 2014

Christ as Lord

Calling Jesus our Lord is so common in Christianity (for obvious reasons), but do you ever really think about what that means? To be honest, it's quite difficult, because we don't really have "lords" around that we regularly submit to.
Here's a good verse, though, that illustrates what it means to have Christ as Lord:
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;
1 Peter 3:13-15
To me this says that it's easy to make mankind our lord, as we fear others and their opinions. But making Christ Lord means we remember that He's the one we have to give account to, and He's the one we ultimately answer to. This is a game-changer, as we can walk about in freedom, knowing we no longer need to be afraid of the opinions of others. In fact, Peter says that this is just another way to share the hope we have in Christ.
So in each action we make, there is someone we are answering to; someone driving our choices. Think about who is that person is...if that person is Jesus, then we're treating Him as Lord. If not, then start to question where that comes from.
Christ is who I have to answer to for my actions, not man.

August 13, 2014

What does it mean to walk by the Spirit?

Lately, I've been sucked into the habit of after-lunch chocolate. It's been a long-lasting battle for me, with plenty of successes and failures over the years, but when you just ate some garlicky left-over spaghetti for lunch, chocolate seems to be the perfect thing to cleanse that palette.
But too much of this and those cheeks start to chub, so I often vow to stop heading for the M&M's and/or cookies after lunch. Day 1 might be a victory, but by Day 2 the walk by my neighboring cubicle and its renowned candy stash is too hard to pass up. By Day 2.5 I've caved and feel like a failure, citing the old palette cleanse as a viable excuse.
But tomorrow is a new day! So after a morning pep talk, the battle begins again...okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but we've all been there to some degree. And so I think this is a good illustration for the fight of our lives, described by Paul in Romans:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Romans 7:14-15
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:21-25
I know the candy and cookies are bad for me, but I can't help myself -- my taste buds want satisfaction! It's the same with our spiritual-lives: it seems we are constantly at war with the desires of our flesh...wanting one thing but knowing there is a better way out there.
But why not just cave into the desires of the flesh? Well, if you really look at it, following the flesh is at its root selfishness, while a life lived by the Spirit is one of love:
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13-14
What does this look like? A friend sent me a great sermon that describes the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives/ ministry, and provides a illustration of what that looks like:
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
John 20:21-23
According to Bill Johnson, Jesus is essentially saying that the most important aspect to ministry is the Holy Spirit, since He says He is sending them out (for ministry), and then the very next thing He does is breathe the Holy Spirit on them (equipping them for ministry). Bill then asks what it would look like to carry the Holy Spirit. Throughout scripture the Spirit is pictured as a dove, and so he asks, if a dove landed on you, how would you walk?
Very. Carefully.
Doves are tentative creatures, and will fly off easily. It's a good illustration for the responsibility and care we should take in allowing the Holy Spirit to reside with us as we go about our days. It's all about listening to the Spirit and allowing the Spirit to guide you. Some practical ways we can do that, as pointed out by Scott Nassau in one of his sermons:
  • Through Circumstances
  • Through Others
  • Through the Bible
  • Through Prayer
  • Through Spiritual Intuition
You can tell when someone walks in the room and has the Holy Spirit with them -- you can feel it. We need to be those people in order to battle the flesh and carry about powerful and effective lives of ministry.
I recommend listening to those two sermons if you have the time, by the way.

The Suburban Surfer - Staying Stoked Through the Grind

Some people get paid to surf. Isn't that ridiculous? It's like getting paid to eat ice cream or something...
And then there's the rest of us -- spending our days chained to a cubicle, staring at a computer monitor; eight hours sandwiched between a traffic-filled commute each way. By the time you get home, you're so exhausted (but you're not sure why...after all, you just sat down all day) you wouldn't have the energy to surf if the sun stalled long enough to make it happen.
So how do we stay stoked on surfing through the drudgery of every day life? Here are seven tips I've used to get through the daily grind, because a surfer's got to do what a surfer's got to do:
An East-coast sunrise session.
1. (Catch a surf before work)
This is in parenthesis because not everyone can swing this one. You have to live by the beach, be willing to wake up super early, have a short commute to work, start work late, be okay smelling like salt water all day...that's a lot of contingencies! However, when the stars align, a morning surf can be the best way to start your day. Personally, I find it more energizing than 7-11 crappuccino!
2. Watch surf videos when you get into work
I'm hesitant to include this one because it's not the most ethical, but I have had bosses that allow for a little "ease-into-work" time where I could watch the latest ASP world tour footage. Maybe you have one of those bosses too. In that case, get your mind dreaming're going to need it to get through those meetings you have later....
Internet at work slow? Skip the videos and read a blog! It's the new old-fashioned way of taking in information! Oh, you're reading one now? Of course you are. Now quick! Finish reading before the boss gets here!
3. Cover your desk with surf stuff
A friend at work gave me this:
It's a different kind of surfing, but he meant it in the way we're talking about. I also have a large poster of the Vans Triple Crown covering my cube cabinet, as well as a rack of surf magazines; which leads me to the next tip...
4. Read surf magazines at lunch
Do you deal with people all day and need a little break during lunch? Sometimes it's nice to go outside, be quiet and just read the latest Surfer while eating your tuna sandwich. Carrying around such an item is also a good way to get the word out about the sport you love, which helps you...
5. Find surfers at work and talk about surfing!
Maybe you're like me, with a data-entry job in which the only work relationship you're building is between you and Hewlett-Packard. That's why this is probably my favorite tip of them all. 
Everyone has a favorite spot, favorite surf shop, favorite board shaper...and talking about them can help reduce the monotony of the 9-to-5. I've gotten tips on swells, found new breaks, given sweet deals on gear and most of all, found new friends to surf with.  So keep your eyes and ears out -- it's not always obvious who the nearest surfer is.
One of my favorite local surf shops -- Ocean Surf Shop in Folly Beach, SC
 6. Listen to surf music
At your desk or on the way home, listen to music that captures the feel of the ocean. Jack Johnson, Sublime, The Beach Boys...whatever reminds you of that expectant drive up to the beach, windows down and the smell of salty air hitting your nostrils while smooth sounds enter your ears and linger in your mind throughout the session. Magical...
7. (Go surfing after work)
Another parenthesis, as not everyone lives in close enough proximity to their work or the beach to make this happen. But there was a time that I did, and that 45 minute session of early evening glass can be a great way to clear your head after a hectic day. Just don't drive too fast to get there! Police don't usually take "I want to go surfing" as a good excuse!
What gets you through the day? Comment below...but hurry, I think I see your boss coming!
[Originally published on the blog]

August 6, 2014

Surfing and Technology

I have a love-hate relationship with technology. Actually, like-hate relationship is a better way of putting it...
I'm that guy who gives people dirty looks when they're on their phone in a public place, or appreciates asking strangers for directions instead of using a cell phone. I still buy CD's because I like having a physical backup of music, and I don't own a tablet.
Still, I'm not too proud to admit that technology has its advantages, even applied to something as natural as surfing. So here are some technological advances that, to me, seem to enhance the sport we love.
Surf Report
When I was growing up you would call the Ocean Surf Shop hotline for Folly Beach, SC to hear a recording of how the waves were that morning. It was always busy, so you had to call several times to hear it, and it was only done once or twice a day, so the accuracy was questionable. Now we have Surfline which has live cameras from all over the world, saving surfers countless hours of time and disappointment in avoiding flat days.
Ocean Surf Shop's "Fun Factor" is a staple in Folly.
Artificial Wave
Check out this video and tell me you wouldn't dream of surfing a wave this perfect.

Even those pros look like they were getting tired! Imagine how good you'd be if you had this in your home town! And for all us naturalists out there, something like this would likely clear the lineup at our local breaks, making for less crowded beaches and more fun.
I have to admit that, deep down, I have a little push back against things like this. It just seems a little too perfect. But even if these popped up in every mildly-populated city in the world, surfing at beaches would never go away; just as an abundance of skate parks doesn't seem to deter street skating. There's something about finding your own way on a board that's magical.
Board Innovation
We don't have flying cars yet, but we do have jet-propelled surfboards! The WaveJet is around to help you paddle out three-to-four times faster, as well as catch huge waves without a tow-in. These also come in handy after a long surf session and your body wants to give out, even though the waves continue pumping. But then the challenge becomes how to avoid looking like the laziest surfer around...
A little less high tech are the assortment of advancements in board materials available today. From new types of foam to epoxies, you can now get a lighter, more buoyant board than ever before. These are amazing when you want to shred some weak waves.

Wet Suits and Boardshorts
Imagine being a surfer in the yonder-days, enjoying the beach on a crisp winter afternoon, watching beautiful waves break in front of you. But if you paddled out in that water for more than 20 minutes, you'd have borderline hypothermia. I'm sure it happened -- you can't keep a surfer out of the water.
But thank God neoprene was invented and now we can surf the planet from top to bottom, year round. As innovation progresses I've been hearing about heated wet suits, and even suits that protect you from sharks! I'm on board for that one.
I always thought board shorts were a pretty simple thing, but more and more I'm seeing changes in materials and design so you can get the most out of your surfing. For instance, the Hurley Phantom Fuse 3 has a breathable waistband and material that stretches and moves with you, increasing your maneuverability and performance. So salute your shorts -- they're making a difference.
This blog!
Imagine: what would you be doing right now if it weren't for the internet and its wealth of information about surfing and spirituality? How lost we would be! But thank the Jobs' and Gates' of our time, as the age of information and technology now flourishes in the palm of our hands.
Just don't let it all this tech get in the way of your surfing, lest you will have lost the battle of balance between nature's art and man's ambition. Tread lightly, but don't be afraid to let these new fangled ideas make our old fashioned sport even more fun!
Any new tech you've been impressed with? Do you find it difficult to balance the old with the new?
[Originally published on the blog]