January 2015

January 23, 2015

Do you feel forgiven?

Do you feel forgiven?
I have to admit that the answer to that question for me is often "no." And why is that? I know I'm forgiven, for everything. And this is because of Christ's sacrifice. As scripture says:
...Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:13b-14
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
So, armed with that knowledge and experience, why is it that I still don't feel forgiven? I would argue that this is a tactic of the enemy of our souls to keep us from progressing in our faith. If we are having trouble accepting that we have forgiveness from all that blocks us from a relationship with God, then our default is to try and tear down those walls...ourselves. But this is no more than fighting the air, because the walls are gone -- we are forgiven!
But let's say we stay there, trying to do good in order to earn God's favor, or maybe just feel guilty a bunch. What's wrong with that? We'll probably accomplish some good deeds and maybe end up as better people.
But read this:
Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:28-29
Full disclosure: I am taking that verse a little out of context -- it is written to folks who hear the gospel and reject it outright (see verses 26-27). But as I read it, it occurred to me -- when I continue to feel guilty, and then strive to earn my salvation through good works (or just plain feeling guilty enough), am I not doing this very same thing? Am I not "insulting the Spirit of grace?"
So what's the solution?
I did a little research and found a good article by Joyce Meyer on this very same topic. In it, she writes that, when we feel guilty for our sins, the first step is confession (see 1 John 1:9 above). Then, if we still feel guilty, she suggests speaking and claiming scriptures that confirm our standing in grace in order to combat those feelings.
Somehow it feels right for us to continually feel guilty for the wrong we do, as if each moment in self-condemnation takes one slash off the back of Christ and places it on our own. But the truth is that in maintaining this mindset, we are keeping ourselves in a state of slavery, like prisoners of war in a battle we literally cannot win...because it was already won by Christ.

January 11, 2015

Riding Backside

Ever show up to a spot where the waves are only breaking backside...but you don't know how to surf backside?! You paddle out anyway, only to fumble around trying to stand up, as thoughts of spending the day riding switch-foot run through your mind. Well, worry no more! Below are some standard backside riding tips for the next time you find yourself in this situation.
Backside, in case you don't know, is when you surf with your back to the wave (left for regular stance, right for goofy). It's a little unnatural because you are not facing the wave, which is why most folks learn to surf this way after getting comfortable surfing frontside. But if you can get the hang of it, a good backside wave can be a beautiful thing. Plus, it's always nice to be comfortable riding both directions in case the day calls for it.
1. Point your board at a 45-degree angle on takeoff  
This is how I learned to take off going frontside, so why would it be any different going the other way? As you're paddling, keep an eye on the shore and the line of the wave. Right before the wave catches you, split the difference between the two -- that's your takeoff point.
If you find yourself nose-diving, or if you're on steep waves, take off a little closer to the wave line (25-degree angle) to give yourself a head start. Riding backside can actually help with steeper waves, because you can lean into the wave for stability and still keep riding (see #4).
2. Keep your knee down 
Standing straight up is every beginning surfer's worst enemy -- you have to stay low to keep your balance! If you're going backside, it's probably more important to stay low, especially during takeoff, and keeping a knee down really helps with this. Then, after you get ahead of the breaking water, you can get up on both feet and try some maneuvers!
A really solid backside ride.
The good thing is that it kind of happens naturally, especially if you follow step three...
3. Grab the outside rail 
Think of a tripod versus a dipod (not sure if that exists) or a monopod -- if you're stabilizing a camera, which one is the most solid?
Front foot planted, knee down, and hand on the rail = the trifecta of backside riding. You will be way more stable and ride longer if you keep your hand on that rail. You can also apply pressure to the rail to move up and down the wave, keeping yourself in the best spot possible.
4. Keep your inside hand extended
This happens more naturally than anything, but having that little extra stability and counter-weight can make a big difference in your balance. It also looks awesome when your inside hand is skimming the water as the wave breaks behind you -- the surfer's alternative to walking away from an explosion without looking!
Pretty much the same thing, right? (surf photo by Photobrent/SPL)
After riding backside for a few years, I tend to have more fun and feel more in-control going this direction than frontside, contrary to what is common. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes! Your best ride ahead may be a backside one!
Once you've got this down, check out how to bottom turn, a good next step after you've nailed your backside and frontside takeoff.
Happy riding!
[Originally published on the StoreYourBoard.com blog]

January 5, 2015

You Will Never Have It All - Part 2

(a continuation of part 1)
So my title is a little misleading...you may have it all one day, just not in this lifetime. As I was considering how things are never perfect in this life, I thought that maybe this was in God's design. We live in a fallen world, a fact that is overwhelmingly apparent. But if everything was perfect here and now, would we long for a better place? As it is now, though, we do pine for perfection, and not only us, but all creation:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
- Romans 8:22-23
So not only does our existence in an imperfect world hone and refine our character (mentioned in part 1), it also spurs us on to a greater destiny as we hope for a life in a place where peace truly and purely exists.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
- Ecclesiastes 3:11
That verse sounds so epic to me, but I believe it. We all long for the end of war, grief, pain, suffering, death. And we even fight for it in the pursuit of justice.
Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
- Revelation 21:1-4
That is what we all long for: the restoration of all things and actual communion with God. It was set in our hearts and wired into our being, and I would argue that many of our pursuits in life are just misled ambition towards this one goal. But does this mean we should just let the world go down in flames while we wait for God to set all this good stuff up? No!
Jesus spoke with urgency about the kingdom of God being here, now:
The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!"
- Mark 1:15
From the time of John the Baptizer until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful people have been seizing it.
- Matthew 11:12
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is in your midst."
- Luke 17:20-21
And we are His workers.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
- Matthew 9:36-38
So we'll never "have it all" on earth, but only because God loves us too much! We can work with God, however, in ushering in His kingdom, which is really the place where the longing of our hearts will actually find fulfillment. This work is here and now, and though it is not yet complete, it is satisfying.
I'd be interested to see what people think about these posts, as it deals with speculation about the future, mixed with expectations of now. Does this match your experience and/or theology?