October 2014

October 31, 2014

Known by God

Now about food sacrificed to idols: we know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.
1 Corinthians 8:1-3
Read those verses a couple times and ask yourself: Why is loving and being known by God the answer to haughtiness in knowledge? I would have picked something like, "the fear of the Lord," but Paul says this; it seems kind of like an odd combination to me.
I had the privilege of sitting next to Curt Thompson, M.D., on a plane once. He told me about a book he had written, Anatomy of the Soul, which is about the importance physiologically to being known by others and God. It was an idea I had only heard a few times, as the Western church puts way more emphasis on knowing God, usually through disciplined actions. But look at this:
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
John 11:1-3
I heard a great Judah Smith sermon about this verse, where he pointed out that the sisters only said, "the one you love is sick," rather than list all of the reasons he might be worth saving otherwise (i.e. - he's a great brother, he is a pillar of the community, he loves you). Apparently, the way to God's heart is to focus on how much He loves us, rather than how much we love Him. In this way, it makes sense that God's love would be a combatant for arrogance, as we clearly don't deserve it, so how could we be haughty? 
The rest of 1 Corinthians 8 is about how we should be careful to not exercise our freedom at another brother's expense -- in this case, it meant eating food sacrificed to false idols, which meant nothing to the mature believer, but would potentially be a stumbling block to someone with weaker faith (and not weaker in a bad sense, just newer).
Paul says:
Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
1 Corinthians 8:13
As a meat-eater, I can say with assurance: that is love!
And so we are humbled by God's love for us, and allowing that to invade our lives will overflow into unreasonable love for others. That's a beautiful thing!

October 30, 2014

New Skatepark, Better Skating

When I moved to Los Angeles five years ago, I have to admit I was a little unsure about what to expect from LA skaters. It's a big city where the level of skating is sky high, and so I imagined territorial skaters protecting their little pieces of turf in the vast concrete expanse of Southern California skateparks. To my surprise, though, I found the opposite...

Most skateparks I visit are filled with kids who love skating and love the people they skate with. But I just had a particularly awesome skate session at the Alondra Park in Lawndale, CA, and as I reflected on the sweetness that happened, I wanted to share some things that made it stand out amongst the plethora of skate spots LA has to offer.

1. The vibe at the park was great.
I love going to a park where people actually enjoy skating together. High-fives abounded as friends challenged each other to skate better, along with other typical skater hijinks. The park was even crowded with both bikes and boards, but I saw no run-ins. And though I was a stranger, the local guy shredding one of the bowls gave me some tips on working the angles. Solid park, solid people.
2. Live music
Two dudes were jamming on guitar by the bowl the whole time! It was probably the first time I've experienced a live music skate session, but it was totally rad, and added to the homey feel.

I also love to skate a pool in Culver City where a bunch of old rippers from the 80's come out and play music on a huge boom box -- usually skater punk, but sometimes Devo! These guys are also top notch skaters, minus the ego, and are happy to share the space for a rad Saturday session.

3. SoCal summer weather
As I stood by the bowl, listening to Sublime, I looked up to the sky and watched the sun setting; a ball of fire enveloped by the clouds while silhouettes of tall palm trees lined the skyline. The air was cool as a Pacific ocean breeze wafted through the park. The weather was perfect to join people of all ages having fun skating together...and it was good.
Skate sessions like that don't come along too often, but today I was lucky enough to get one. Southern California has a lot to offer as far as skating goes, but it doesn't mean you can't have just as awesome a session wherever you're at. So go out and find your chi session...then come back here and tell me about it
[Originally published on the StoreYourBoard.com blog]

October 23, 2014

Too Old for This...

Two years ago, my friend Kyle Hamilton and I set off to make a skate video to commemorate his time in Los Angeles, before moving to the more compressed big city of New York. After day one of shooting left us so sore that day two quickly became a wash, we discovered the title for our movie: "Too Old for This." 

That was two years ago, and I'm still skating, so I guess I wasn't too old for it. But then last weekend I found myself injured in a (two-hand touch) football game that nearly jeopardized an excellent South swell the next day. And so I have to ask myself again, am I too old to keep doing these extreme sports?
This was taken just before the peak of my skating "career."
The answer is a resounding NO! And neither are you.
The fact of the matter is, though age deters progress, it only increases your ability to have fun. Case and point: at the peak of my skating, I had dreams of sponsorship, traveling the country (dare I say it: the world?) with a team, exploring new spots and making amazing videos that pushed the limits of the sport. Every venture to the skatepark was a new opportunity to hone my skills, and if there was a sponsored skater at that park, to impress him into inviting me to be on his team.

As a result, each session was about landing the trick, looking good doing it and capturing it on video, no matter how many attempts it took. Sure, I had fun, but there were moments when I was in the midst of skating greatness and found myself figuratively paralyzed for fear of inadequacy, or forcing my friends to watch me try a trick 75 times to get it on tape.
Photo by Minh Tue.
Now, in my "old age," those thoughts and ambitions have long since sailed away on a sea of reality and full-time jobs, resulting in the unthinkable notion and freedom of simply having fun skating!
Many a times I have drifted to an empty corner of the skatepark to try my measly backside air (featured in this video) or a kickflip down a 5-set. Sooner or later a "good" skater would show up, drawing a crowd as he goes for a nollie body jar 5-feet out of the pool, or a 360 heelflip down the stairs. And did I quit? No sir! And when I landed it, though no one else was impressed at my skills compared to the whipper-snappers around me, I knew that I had accomplished more than just landing a trick...I had fun doing it.
And so I charge you, old man, stop browsing the internet, buy that rack already and go do what you love! You can thank me later while you're icing your knees.
[Originally published at the StoreYourBoard.com blog]

Model for Prayer

I've been reading in the Jewish Publication Society bible (The Tanakh or the Old Testament). It reads a little differently than the Old Testament, but really the only main difference I've noticed is that it's more frank or brash in some of its language.
Anyway, I was reading 2 Kings 19 and Judah, under the rule of King Hezekiah, is on the verge of attack from Assyria. Assyria sends some dudes to come threaten them a couple times, and its scary -- I can't imagine living in a world where the threat of foreign invasion is constant. I suppose you could argue we're there right now, but I think it's much less imminent than in those days.
So Hezekiah takes this letter from the messengers of Assyria and goes into the House of the Lord. He spreads it out before God and prays:
"O LORD of Hosts, Enthroned on the Cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. O LORD, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see. Hear the words that Senacherib has sent to blaspheme the living God! True, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have annihilated the nations and their lands, and have committed their gods to the flames and have destroyed them; for they are not gods, but man's handiwork of wood and stone. But now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hands, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, O LORD, are God."
I think this is a beautiful model for prayer, especially prayer in desperation. First, he praises God for who He is. Then, he requests God's attention before stating what is true about the situation he is in. Next, he petitions the Lord in faith and for His glory.
What a great model! Praise God, tell Him your situation, express to Him your faith that He can change it, and request it for God's glory. It's pretty similar to Jesus' model of prayer in Mathew 6:9-13:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,Hallowed be Your name.Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
A lot (if not all) of what Jesus said was based in, or an interpretation of, the Jewish scriptures, so it's important to know them if we're to fully understand what Jesus meant.
Also, this model for prayer is similar to what Jamie Winship speaks about, particularly in the Hearing from God series (here is the first one - I think there are 5 or 6. If you can't find them, let me know). I'm doing a bad paraphrase here, but essentially Jamie encourages us to tell God what's true about our situations, and then ask God to show up in a powerful way, which requires faith. This allows for honesty, where we don't have to pretend we're not in a bad spot, but can openly tell God, "this is where I'm at; I don't like it, but I think You can do something about it."
Simple, beautiful, powerful.

October 21, 2014

What is Polyester?

I was looking at one of Ellie's blankets and it was made of 100% polyester. It got me thinking: what exactly is polyester? Forgive my ignorance if that's common knowledge, but I wanted to know. So, of course, I used Google and found this:
  1. a synthetic resin in which the polymer units are linked by ester groups, used chiefly to make synthetic textile fibers.
    • a fabric made from polyester fiber.
There's even a website! http://www.whatispolyester.com
This is a daily pursuit for most of us...we have a question and use the internet to find the answer. We live in an age where information is available in moments, all the time (I have some opinions about our growing dependency on this reference-based knowledge, but I'll save that for later). This point led me to another thought: is the question "what is?" is losing its power?
To ask what something is rarely invokes any kind of critical thought or thorough investigation -- we just use Google. Even when it comes to God, we can find a wealth of information about Him or the bible or its history, and that's fine. But what we cannot find online is who God is.
"Who is?" is a question the internet cannot answer, not in the sense of facts about someone, but intimately knowing. Sure, the internet provides resources to help us know God (hopefully this blog does that from time to time), but to really know Him is up to you.
"Who is?" is the question of our age. People will grow tired of "what," when it's so easy to find that out. What we really need to know is "Who," and thankfully God gives us that answer in allowing us to know Him.

October 14, 2014

Night Surfing

We've all seen the epic night surf scene in Point Break, right?
A new world of surfing was opened up recently when some friends invited me on a Super-moon Surf. There are a lot of benefits to night surfing, including fewer people and awakened instincts due to the lack of sight. I've made a few mistakes on the nocturnal way though, so I thought I'd share a few tips for going on a night surf:
Courtesy of Inlet Charley's Surf Shop (inletcharleyssurf.tumblr.com)
First, try and schedule your surf on a full moon. I've been out before the moon rises and can say, firsthand, that it makes a huge difference. It's also an amazing sight to see a big red moon rise over the city while you're out on the water with just a few trusted friends, which brings me to my next tip...
Always night surf with friends. It's a bit dangerous out there because you often can't see the waves or other surfers until they're a few yards away. You need guys around you to keep an eye out in case something should happen, and vice versa. But how do you see your friends in the dark?
Bring glowsticks! Tip #3...I realized this on my last paddle out when a few guys had glowsticks, but my crew did not. When one of them dropped in, it was easy to see. When I dropped in -- not so much. There were a couple collisions that almost occurred that could have been easily preventable with a little illumination.
If you want to take it even farther, try buying these neon wires and strapping them to your boards and wetsuits for a very Tron-esque surf session.
Get to the break before the sun sets if you can, so you can see how the wave is breaking that day. Even at a familiar break, it's always good to take a look in full light in case the particular swell is bringing something unexpected. Also, check ahead for tides and swell direction so you're well-informed. I know that is normal surf routine, but the stakes are higher for a night surf if you're not prepared for the conditions.
Or you could always just hire Red Bull to help and skip all of that....

Share you night surf stories below! Last time I went out, I thought I saw a ghost (but I think it was a buoy)!
[Originally published on the StoreYourBoard.com blog]

October 6, 2014

Lessons from Malachi - Part Two

Part two of the epic and widely circulated Lessons from Malachi...more lessons from Malachi!
I should mention that for years my time in the bible has been a bit stale. I felt like I was just reading because I had to, and should, but the life that comes out of scripture was rarely present. So I started something new: I bottle feed my daughter twice a day and I read out loud to her while she's eating. I also bless God for Ellie's food, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach us things through His word.
I've always prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit before reading scripture, but maybe that is a stronger statement than I realized, and was something I did not have faith to fully experience (and maybe was even afraid of?). Anyway, simply asking for the Holy Spirit to teach us something is much more tangible and has led to fruitful bible study. I also think reading out loud has helped, and hopefully Ellie is picking up some of the good word too!
For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction -- because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 2:7
Malachi means "my messenger," and some say that the title of the book comes from this phrase, rather than a person's name. When I read the verse above, my first thought was that it was an excellent and simple outline for what a priest ought to be in this world: preserve knowledge in a way that people come to him for instruction.
Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel. "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty.
So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
Malachi 2:13-16
There's a lot there, but my biggest takeaway is that the battle for marriage is two-fold: spiritual and physical. "Guard yourself in your spirit...do not break faith." You could also include mental strength in the physical part.
I've experienced a lot of spiritual attack concerning my marriage, much of which I did not realize was even spiritual! Doubt, shame and negativity are amongst the forefront of what I've felt. How do I know it's spiritual? I've sat in these three areas for a long time, not knowing they have been weighing me down for years. On a few occasions, I rejected them in Jesus' name or refused to let these thoughts subdue me -- the result was a lightness and energy I have never known, as well as a renewed and strengthened love for my wife! There were even times when I physically felt a weight leave my body, immediately after refusing the attack.
This spiritual talk may sound a little "out there," but I am convinced that to keep a strong marriage involves both physical and spiritual strength, and this verse supports it. I try to be careful, though, in what I blame on spiritual attack, because sometimes it could be the other side -- physical. Us. Our flesh.
A couple verses on that:
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 wrote about these verses in an earlier post, but essentially what I've been learning is that the solution to our fight with the flesh is a Spirit-led life of unselfishness. After the passage above, Paul writes:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4
We may feel condemned or shameful, but right there it says there is "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." We are not bound by our physical bodies and its desires anymore, and this only comes through a Spirit-led life.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you...And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Romans 8:9 & 11
Our nature produces death, but because of Jesus, we can have life through the Holy Spirit. So I suppose even this physical battle is spiritual in nature, or at least the solution is a spiritual one.
Well, that's all from Malachi (and Romans, although there will be more to come I'm sure). Again, these are things that came about through reading God's word and asking to be taught by His Spirit. I encourage you to do the same and share any thoughts you have on this (agree or disagree). Thanks for reading!