August 2015

August 24, 2015

Follow Up



Just a follow up to the And Be Thankful post...I don't want to be misconstrued as someone who promotes not working. I write often about Jesus telling us not to worry about our basic sustenance because he said he would provide. But Jesus still worked as a carpenter (or stone-mason, some believe) in addition to his ministry. Paul was a tent-maker and made his living as such, somehow finding the time to be a revolutionary missionary, teacher and writer (and I can barely find the time to exercise). He wrote the following to his protege Timothy:
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs -- he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. (2 Timothy 2:3-7)
Paul gives three examples of focused effort with a goal/ reward in mind. A soldier remains focused on military endeavors and gains the approval of his commander. An athlete competes according to the rules of his or her game (for to do otherwise would mean disqualification, just as a soldier working as a civilian counts for nothing in the military realm) to gain glory. A farmer works hard and is the first to receive sustenance from his labors. Approval, glory and sustenance...are these not all things we are promised from God? (2 Tim. 2:15Rom. 8:17Psalm 34:10)
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul again uses the athlete example to encourage focused effort. In verse 27 he writes, "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." The prize being, in his example, a "crown that will last forever." This is not a message of laziness or lethargy, but rather diligent and intentional effort. Far too often we are lazy about our faiths, but Paul seems to indicate that there is danger of not making the cut, being disqualified for the crown! Whether or not that's the case, I do not know, but that's not the point -- run like you mean it, to win, as if there is only one winner and you want to be that person -- treat our faith that way; that's the point.
And just to nail it in, Paul does not expound on his words and thus provide an easy explanation of what he really means, but charges Timothy to reflect on them. He won't even let his readers be lazy about his teaching! Rather, he requires them to go to the Lord for understanding, expending effort to gain knowledge.
So my point in this post and the one previously mentioned, is not to shed responsibility or avoid working because God said He will take care of us, but rather to focus our work on things that matter: pursuing God's kingdom and righteousness. What that means for you as an officer worker, producer, engineer, writer...that's up to you and God. I'm just writing that we need to examine what our life's focus is and make sure it aligns with what we're commanded in scripture.
...pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22b)

August 22, 2015

And Be Thankful


I've been feeling fairly restless today. Some days are better than others, but after talking about money with a few different people, I can't help but feel like I'm doing something wrong. And so my reaction is to make something happen! Because I have friends that do that and it seems to work well for them. But what? Should I write a blog post, market the blog, finish editing a video for the blog? How about music -- I have a lot of songs I've been trying to finish recording...but music doesn't make any money. Well, there's this novel I've been working on -- maybe that's worth my time. Oh, but it takes so long to get paid for a book, I need something now!
Before too long, I've run through so many ideas in my head that I feel dizzy. It's all very daunting trying to "make things happen," and so maybe it's time to just go get a real job. Or learn a trade! But which one...?

Then I talk to my wife and she reassures me (a common theme recently) that the burden of our lives is on both of us, not just me. I wish I could take it all myself, especially financially, but I just can't. Right now I'm a provider in more ways than just money, which is a hard pill to swallow as a man. And so I do something that doesn't make a lot of sense, but seems to be all I can do in this frenzied tornado of thoughts -- let go.
And as I let go, I feel peace. Despite the circumstances and my general opinion towards what is going on, I feel peace. An unnatural, maybe even supernatural peace.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word of deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)
What does the peace of Christ mean for us? I know in that verse it's speaking more towards church unity, but it sparked the thought as I sat in a moment of peace, abandoning the white-knuckle grips of control I was holding to. Jesus didn't teach us to "make things happen," but to work towards an enduring kingdom, His kingdom, where the currency is souls surrendered to Christ, of far more worth than money. The rest of this verse supports that: community, God's word, worship, service and gratitude. This is to be our focus.
Notice that being thankful is mentioned thrice here. It's like the concrete that fills the cracks between the bricks. Live in community...and be thankful...dwell in the word and sing to God...with thanksgiving...whatever you do...give thanks. In moments of despair, like ones I've been in lately, maybe the way out is simply thanksgiving.
I'm still not sure how to handle our current situation, but I do know that the first step is to look to God with thanksgiving, and examine what I'm doing to work towards expanding His kingdom. As Jesus said, the rest will fall into place -- and maybe that's what the peace of Christ means: trusting that He will provide (because He said He would) and knowing that we are working towards a greater kingdom than our own (which is worth way more than I could ever earn in a year...).
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

August 19, 2015

The Motivation & The Motivation 2


Just checked out two skate docs -- The Motivation and The Motivation 2: The Chris Cole Story. Both are well done and chronicle pieces of skateboarding history, highlighting some of the best skaters around today.
The Motivation
This flick follows around 8 skaters on their way to the Street League Championship, which has become the premier street skating competition. Most of the guys competing are skaters I grew up watching -- Chris Cole, Paul Rodriguez, Nyjah Huston -- along with a few I had heard of, but haven't really followed. All amazing in their own right and doing things on a skateboard I've only dreamed of.
What I love about the movie, though, is that you get to go behind the skating for all of these guys and see what motivates them. I've always been the kind of guy who picked his favorite skaters not only because of their skill, but also because of who they were as persons, usually finding someone I identified with on some level. This movie lets you see many of these famous skaters' histories, trials and triumphs, giving you a reason to root for every one of them in some way (even the often hated Ryan Sheckler), so when it comes down to the competition, you're not sure who you want to win!
Overall, definitely worth the watch. Check out the trailer below.

The Motivation 2: The Chris Cole Story
Chris Cole has always been one of my favorite skaters, mostly because of his buttery smooth style. It literally looks like he's dancing on the skateboard sometimes. Incredibly consistent, he's earned the status as a veteran competitor in the sport. The Motivation 2 chronicles his upbringing and ultimate rise to stardom in the skateboard world.
The film isn't quite as action-packed as The Motivation, but still carries along well enough. I was interested and loved learning more about a skater I've always admired. The film also provides a nice history of the skate scene in Philadelphia, famous for LOVE Park, which both rose and fell as a skate spot in my lifetime.
I recommend checking this one out, although The Motivation (first) is a better bet if you're on a limited time frame. Both are available on Netflix Streaming.

August 17, 2015

Fall


I love fall. It's my favorite season, although I've never really lived in a place that had much of the kind of fall we're probably thinking of (harvest festivals, leaves changing, crisp air). Still, I've experienced enough of it to know it's my favorite.
Well, I woke up this morning and it just felt like Fall to me. But it's not -- it's still summer. But in my head, there was a crisp chill in the air outside, I would make some hot coffee and sip it while reading, the steam wafting away from my cup into the expectant morning air. Soon the stores would be filled with pumpkin everything and I would enjoy every last piece of it. Harvest, Halloween, then Thanksgiving and Christmas. So much to look forward to and enjoy in Fall.
But it's still summer. An awesome summer. I just went surfing yesterday, skateboarding the day before. Outdoor concerts and beach days abound. My wife has been home for the summer and we've been able to spend a ton of time together with our daughter. It's really been nice. So why would I long for the next season?
Over the years, I've been finding in myself this constant attitude of looking forward to the next thing. While at one job I'm looking for the next on Craigslist. While living in one side of town I'm wondering if another part would be better. When in Carolina I was looking forward to California; now in California I'm dreaming of Carolina. Even while surfing a closed out El Porto I'm wondering if Malibu would be better. Whether or not any of those things has or will change, I'm always thinking of what's next.
This would likely be praised by the masses in today's America. "You're ambitious!" they would say, "Keep climbing!" Gone are the days of buying one house and staying there until you die, or working with one company until retirement. Even staying with one woman your entire life seems more of a lofty ideal than a real possibility to many.
Now I'm not saying there aren't downfalls to the old way of thinking. I know men who hated every day of thirty years at a company, but stuck around for a good, solid retirement. I'm not sure if we're called to that or not, but that's not my point. The reason I'm writing this rather lengthy blog post is that, whenever I feel the sense of farsightedness consuming my vision, I hear a small voice telling me, "Be happy where you're at."
And that voice is usually my wife's. I've written before that my wife grounds me in ways I never thought I needed, and I thank God for her. Without this down-to-earth woman, I'd be a new place every five years, eventually huddled up as a mountain hermit somewhere playing music no one would ever hear and writing words a few might. I would be restless, unsettled, never committing and never seeing the end.
Thank God His provision comes in places you don't expect.
But maybe you don't have a wise wife to whisper such suggestions in your wayward ear. And so I take up this little piece of internet space to tell you what she tells me far too often: Be happy where you are. Life is far too short, they say, to always be looking ahead. The only moment we are given is the one we are in, and so enjoy it and look for God in it. And that should be enough.
 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12:16-21

August 13, 2015

Shoe Review – Dekline’s Chad Tim Tim


I've never written a product review before (unless you count a little piece I did on the Wavestorm), but I've also never liked a shoe so much that I bought a second pair after skating it for a few months.
IMG_9366
Old and new
The Dekline Chad Tim Tim model had me a little bit worried at first, mainly because of the sole -- it doesn't look grippy and there's few things worse for your skating than slick shoes ("are you crazy?!"). I took a chance though, and it turns out these shoes are among the grippiest I've ever skated! Unfortunately, they eventually wore a hole through the bottom, but only after about a year's worth of skating, which is a good, long time for most skaters, and a shame for others (I used to wear through shoes every 3-4 months!).
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I'd be skating these today if that hole disappeared. New next to old.
The suede top is durable, complimented by the rubber toe cap, which grips the board well. I also like how the shoes come with both cloth and leather shoe laces. It's a big beef of mine how skate shoes do nothing to protect the shoe laces from wearing outside of giving you two sets. However, these leather shoe laces have lasted with little-to-no wear. They don't stay tied as well, but with a double-bow-knot-thing, I haven't had to re-tie my shoes in months.
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Normal top wear
It's supportive enough to jump down some big sets, but not to the point that you lose board control. Honestly, these shoes are probably the best I've ever skated, which is saying a lot considering how long I've been trying different skate shoes. They may have even beat out the Emerica Ratio, which I've claimed as my favorite for years.
emerica-ratio-navy-grey
Emerica Ratio...out!
This was my first encounter with Dekline as a brand, and I have to say that I'm impressed. In addition to the second pair of Tim Tim's, I also grabbed a pair of Emmetts just because they looked cool (and were on sale). Check them out if you haven't tried Dekline yet, and let me know if your experience is as good as mine!