Thursday, May 21, 2015

Speak Up!

I saw Pitch Perfect 2 the other night, and was surprised to see a trailer for a movie about Hillsong church music thrown in the mix with the twenty-five minutes of movie trailers they play these days; and as I sat in the theater, I found myself becoming a little nervous at every mention of God in the trailer. Watch it...they even speak about God like He's real!

While watching, I wondered what the normal, potentially secular movie-goers would think about such a trailer before such a non-religious movie. What sneers would follow, with more criticism at the mention of God in somewhere-besides-church than a trailer for Transformers 5? And so, as the trailer ended, I waited with baited breath, anticipating the chatter behind me to bash such a religious propaganda piece advertised in such a place.
But I heard nothing. No one commented. No laughs or sneers. None of what I expected. The next eight trailers played (it's getting kind of ridiculous, really) and the movie started.
So I have to ask myself, why did I get so nervous at the very real mention of God in a secular location? And why do I expect an adverse reaction to God from the world?
Experience has shown me multiple times that, the truth is, people are more okay talking about religion than I expect.
I remember eating lunch at an old job with people of various faiths, most of which would have said they were not religious. Something about religion came up and I answered honestly about my beliefs. They responded with what they believed and the conversation moved on. No one got angry. No one threw up counterpoints about why "Creationism is a silly doctrine" and that "Christians are intolerant and unreasonable." It was just a normal conversation about what we believed, and it taught me an important lesson -- we should not fear talking about God to people who may or may not believe in God the same way we do.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
I don't know where this presupposed tenseness about the mention of God in public came from (don't even ask what happens when people say, "Jesus"), but I think it's unfounded. Sure, every once in a while someone will act hostile towards religion, but in our post-modern society, people are usually willing to bring up beliefs. Besides, if you have developed a relationship with people built on mutual respect and appreciation (perhaps with a spirit of "love," as Paul writes), why wouldn't they at least listen to what you have to say? It only makes sense.
So don't be afraid to speak up! You might just change someone's life.
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
Romans 10:14

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Monday, May 18, 2015

We’re Just Kids


I sat on my couch to read a book that a friend recommended to me, and didn't get one paragraph in before my daughter wanted to read too. Knowing the lack of pictures would not hold her attention, I still picked her up and placed her in the pocket between my arm and side, a perfect spot designed by God to keep your children while reading or watching TV or just simply to hold them.
Well, it wasn't long before she started bending the book in half, and so I had to set her down. I finished the forward and felt a little guilty about choosing a book over her in that moment, and so I put the book down and picked her up to place her again in that magic pocket for some cuddle time. I'm not too much of a man to admit that the world "cuddle" makes its way into your vocabulary when you have a daughter, and will freely admit that sometimes I just want to hold my daughter in a warm, fatherly embrace and do nothing else. This could have been one of those rare "cuddle" moments, but Ellie wanted nothing to do with it! She was off and climbing the couch, looking for the book or my coffee cup or anything else to fill her rampant curiosity.
And that's when it hit me: we're just like that with God.
I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
- 2 Corinthians 6:18
The bible says that God is love. It says that God loves us. John was the disciple whom Jesus loved, not the most studious or best evangelist or least sinful. Love is all throughout scripture and yet, most of my efforts as a follower of Christ are not to foster that love relationship with God, but to do, to act, to accomplish. To try for God. I labor and meditate on my labors, spending most of my thoughts on writing great stories or songs, and even blog posts. If not that, I am thinking about whether or not I should go surfing or skating and that video I've been working on...and then writing a blog post about it!
In my best moments, I'm dreaming about a future of churches and ministry, speaking and writing to edify the church and glorify God; but it all falls back to my efforts and my endeavors, trying to accomplish something, anything, to find fulfillment in this life.
And all God wants from me is to cuddle.
For my daughter, reaching and grabbing to fill her curiosity is paramount to any and everything else. If she sees an object she wants, woe to whoever or whatever may step in her way, because she will fight the tide to get it. But I know, as her father who is more experienced and cares for her, that whether or not she plays with the book or spills my coffee all over the table, it's not as important as she thinks. I can give her the book instead of her climbing Mount Couch to get there, and that would be easier for everyone and certainly less dangerous. But I'm not going to, and it's because, at that moment, I believe it's more important to hold her and love her. After all, who knows how many moments like that we'll get?
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
- Luke 10:38-42
So when you're out there conquering the world and changing lives, remember that, more than anything you can accomplish, God wants your love and to love you. So let Him. The world will be there when you're done, and you'll be better equipped to take it on after a restful embrace with your Heavenly Father.
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Jesus, Judas and Money


People often wonder why Judas betrayed Jesus. After all, how could you spend three years with a rabbi like Jesus and still betray Him? I suppose we'll never know for sure, but I think a couple scriptures give us some insight into the situation, and I would argue money had something to do with it.
I was reading through Mark today and came to the passage where a woman "wastes" a jar of perfume that is worth a year's wages by pouring it on Jesus' head. Some of the people with them rebuked her, saying the jar could have been sold and the money given to the poor, but Jesus told them to leave her alone.
Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.
Mark 14:6-9
Scripture says right after this, that Judas went to the chief priests to betray Jesus into their hands. "They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money" (Mark 14:11a). In Matthew 26, the account records the same order of events, but says that Judas even asked the priests, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?", and then they counted out thirty silver coins as the price of our Savior (Matthew 26:15).
In the same perfume account in John 12, it's stated that Judas was specifically the one who objected to the waste of perfume. John then writes, "He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it" (John 12:6). So clearly, Judas and Jesus had differing views on money, though each shared the same source financially.
This all made me wonder if one of the reasons that Judas betrayed Jesus was because of his overall attitude towards the money they all shared. Think about it, if your livelihood is dependent on a guy like Jesus who says things like, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matthew 19:21), you might get a little tired of it after a while, especially if you're a guy like Judas.
In Judas, we have a living example of what happens when one seems to love money too much; even one in Jesus' inner circle, who had direct access to, and was influenced by, the teachings of God Himself! So what does that say to us? Be really careful with how much emphasis you put on money! It's clearly dangerous!
How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
Mark 10:23
I am bringing this topic up with a little hesitation and hopefully some humility -- money isn't always bad and neither is ambition -- though I tend to make it out to be in my own life. As I've grown up, though, I have heard from wiser men and even seen myself that money can be a trap that sucks a ton of your time and takes you away from God, friends and family. It's not always the case, but I think the principle of examining how much of your time is spent trying to make money, especially more money, is well-worth the thought. I'm guilty of it myself, but reading passages like the one below is always a sober reminder of where our focus should lie, and that, money or no money, God will provide.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:31-33
[In writing this post, I found this article examining why Jesus put a thief in charge of the disciples' money. It's definitely worth a read. The picture comes from this article, where a man wrestles with the idea of giving everything away per Jesus' teaching.]
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

When I Look at the Stars

...what do you see? Or maybe Who do you see, as Switchfoot presents in one of my favorite songs of theirs:

I was reading Psalm 19 today, and found the following verses a beautiful declaration of what the skies represent:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
- Psalm 19:1-4a

It's like the stars are singing about God every night, and the clouds and the sun shouting His glory every day. What wonderful imagery that conveys profound truth: nature is the first revelation of God's character and creativity that He chose to reveal. But what really struck me about these verses was how active the language is. The voice of the heavens "goes out...to the ends of the world." It seems that, even from the beginning, God was pursuing us. All of us actually -- "There is not speech of language where their voice is not heard."

I live in a place where I am often the minority, wading in a sea of languages I may never understand amidst foreign faces and names I would struggle to pronounce. I actually remember the first couple times I had to communicate a message to someone who probably spoke less than ten words of English -- it's difficult! As a result, I don't often try to communicate with these folks.
But when I read these verses, it tells me that God has created a language that speaks to all nations, and is doing so, right now. It shows me that I should never neglect the truth that God is working in other peoples' lives, especially in languages other than mine, and in countries other than the U.S.
From the beginning God wanted a relationship with the whole world, and made it possible through His Son. We have the humble choice to recognize that message, and join in on the choir.
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Friday, May 1, 2015

Big Air on Bigger Jumps

One last snowboard post before it all melts...
Big snowboard jumps is one of the highlights of the sport. It's really one of the only boardsports where you can soar so high and far that you should be required to get a pilots license. Doing this carries with it the thrill of a reckless disregard for both gravity and safety; but if you maintain the proper techniques, you can retain just enough control to land, allowing you to go for bigger and bigger jumps with confidence.
rick air sequence
Lien Air: Notice I'm prepped for the grab with a flat takeoff, keep it tight and then level off at the end. (note: My shoulders are a little less square than I would advise on the landing. You want to be even with the board if you can).
We're at the tail end of the season, which is a good time to go bigger. Here are some tips to do it well:
  1. Go fast: If I'm trying a big jump, I find it helpful to go a little faster than you think you need to. It's easy to lose speed on the uphill part of a jump, and even easier to mis-judge the distance. Go a little faster than you think and you'll likely clear the flat. Even if you do overshoot it, that's usually much better than clipping the top of the landing ramp. (Also, it's a great confidence booster for the next size jump.)
  2. Stay flat: Keep your board flat on the approach. Unless you're trying a spin, you want to keep the board as flat as possible for takeoff, otherwise you may catch an edge or start rotating mid-air, which is never a good thing, and usually results in a window-crank motion that looks amateurish.
  3. Tuck: Keep your knees bent and stay low. You often don't need to jump much to clear the gap, as your speed and the angle of the ramp will do the work for you. Keep tucked and you'll have much more stability on the takeoff as well as while you're sailing through the air.
  4. Grab: If you follow step three, this part almost comes naturally. Do whatever grab feels most comfortable (for me it's a lien) and hold for as long as you can (style points). Grabbing keeps you more stable in the air and looks nice and clean. It can also help you keep your balance as a little tweak can counteract shifting mid-air (and adds even more style points).
  5. Land flat: When gravity pulls you back down from the high of flight, release your grab and try to land just as you took off -- flat. Also, try your best to keep your shoulders square with the board. You'll have a lot of speed, so take this time to catch a controlled edge and slow down (unless there's another jump right after!).
tay air sequence
My friend Taylor with his signature Method Air. Notice he keeps it tight and levels off at the end for a flat landing.
I've said before in a previous post about surfing that size is relative when it comes to your personal progression in boardsports. But no matter what a "big" jump is for you, these principals can help you push your progression for maximized control, and maximized fun!
Go shred till the snow is gone, then post your own pics of your biggest air below!
[photos taken at Mammoth Mountain by @jnanfelt and @taycalm]

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