Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…I want people everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing --I Timothy 2:1

“Pray for surf.” Good bumper sticker fodder, don’t you think? While leaders of government wrangle about whether we’ll have prayer in schools and national days of pray, there is no argument that praying and surfing are completely compatible. We pray for surf because we long for a good muscular groudswell to hit our shores. We know that we have really no control over whether that happens or not. Flat spells could last for days, weeks, or (gasp) months, and yet there is not a single thing you can do about it. But you can pray. And God--who arranges all the nature and science, all the stuff that results in that perfectly groomed a-frame detonating at just the right spot--will hear you.

“Pray while surf.” That happens when conditions get critical. When the crowds are thick and you decide to tempt fate by sitting inside to pick off the small wedgers and then you hear someone shout “out the back” and everyone scrambles for deep water.

As for you, you are about to take a beating. Cold water makes it worse. Sharp bottom makes it worser! But as bad as it is, as bad as that hold-down is, it’s really good for prayer. It’s a good place to cry out. It’s OK, because God evidently hears prayers that are offered to Him underwater. Ask Jonah!

“Pray for surfers.” This may be the best idea yet, because of all that is made that surrounds you in the surf, it’s these surfers who are made in the image of God, the ones who will last forever, the ones that God sent His only son into the world on a mission to rescue.

What a great way to redeem a surf session, where the waves aren’t coming to you, and the water’s cold, and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction, and you knew you should have stretched on the beach before paddling out because you are surfing like a Barney. When all this happens, the session can be saved as you scan the line-up and pray for the people you see. They may be folks or know, or you may know none at all. But they are people. And because they are, they are loved by God. And they are broken, And they have been scarred. And they’ve got questions. And they have been hurt. And they live with haunting memories as they have hurt others. And if they choose to live a life without God in this life, God will simply formalize that desire in the life after this one and they will be separated from God for an eternity.

You can pray that God blesses them and softens their heart. You can pray for their relationships to be whole. You can pray for their ears to be open. You can pray that somehow God would put into their orbit someone who follows Jesus in a way that is compelling. And you can pray that that some would be you.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about why God brought surfing into your life? From the moment you drug that board into the churning whitewash until now, God has been there. Could He care less if you surfed or is their something He had in mind as the events of your life brought you to His ocean? Well, maybe it’s because surfing will be the door that opens you up to God’s mission.

God’s mission is not a secret. Jesus spelled it out to his friends shortly before he ascended into heaven and went home. It’s there for us to read in the 28th chapter of Matthew’s gospel. The mission is to go, and make other followers of Jesus (disciples) and teach them and baptize them so that their faith becomes a public thing, known to more than just them. And just where does surfing fit into all that? In ways that are deeper than you could know.

Certainly, you can go to your local beach and get busy: serve people, love them well, earn the right to be heard, and then as best as you know how, introduce people to Jesus the Christ, who died and yet rose again, so He’s therefore still out there, very much alive…although we can’t see Him. It’s a great place to begin: be a Christian surfer in the US and express willingness to reach the surfers in the US.

But why stop there? Because around the world there are places that surfers are uniquely equipped to go and share the good news at. Take all the nations around the Indian Ocean, for example: the Maldives, Sri Lanka, the Amaden Islands off India, and of course, the greatest surfing playground on earth: Indonesia. But keep looking at that map, because waves in that ocean also make it up to places like Yemen and Somalia a—a sure bet for warm water, empty line-ups and danger. More on the danger part in a minute.

What’s the common thread to all these surf-rich locales? Few Jesus followers live there. In fact, for the most part, none at all. These nations contain a good chunk of the two billion people on this earth that have never heard the Good News about Jesus. For these people, there’s no church in their community, no bible in their language that they read, no Jesus film that they can watch, no Christian friend to ask questions of, no bookstore that would contain any materials to help them if they wanted to explore who Jesus is.

Most Christian workers will never get there. In fact, 75% of the entire global missions force goes to countries that have had the Good News for, in many cases, hundreds of years.

But you might get there. You are a surfer, and surfers fit in these places. You could actually go to one of these places and serve amongst new friends and pray for them and talk about your life, and better their world by contributing to their economy. It all starts with a plan: start saving some money and some vacation time. Choose one of these far flung destinations where surfers are welcome, because they are not generally held in suspicion as being a “missionary” (considered a bad word in these places) or “CIA” (not good, either). Is it as safe as the English speaking destinations like Hawaii and Puerto Rico? No. It’s not safe.

Stuff happens. Sometimes bad things happen. But what is more terrifying than having something bad happen is to have nothing happen at all.

Modern society, of course, has perfected the art of having nothing happen at all. There is nothing particularly wrong with this except that for vast numbers of Christians in the US, life has become staggeringly easy. And with that, truly unfulfilling. Our lifestyle goals often revolve around eliminating as many unforeseen events as possible, and as appealing as that seems initially, it’s a death sentence to your soul.

This then is the backdrop to where adventure (think mission) comes in. The word comes from the latin adventura meaning “what must happen.” So you see, an adventure is a situation where the outcomes are not under your control. It’s up to God, in other words.

God must love adventure, because he’s very straight up about “what must happen.” Jesus said, here’s what must happen:

“and this gospel will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

Presently we stand at a place in history where there are roughly 6000 nations (or people groups) that are still waiting for good news. In 10% of those groups, no one has even attempted…yet. And you can bet that many of these groups have gorgeous waves peeling along their beaches and reefs. What other details do you really need? May you be lead into God’s greatest adventure!

Special note: to get started in traveling to an unreached people group in order to surf and bring the Gospel, CSUS recommends highly Shema Tours, who exist to take surfers like you…into the danger zone. Take a step toward mission by contacting them through their website, http://www.shemahtours.com/

Monday, September 13, 2010


If a non-surfing friend or family member were to decide to join us in the line up one day, after a couple of hours they may indentify a real deficiency in a core skill that humans really should master: we aren’t very good communicators.

Think about a bunch of guys and gals bobbing in the line-up, scanning the horizon for peaks to pop up, and not a single word gets uttered. It’s like we’re a bunch of surf monks, we’ve taken a vow of silence. Oh, sure, there’s a few chatterboxes running off at the mouth. But that behavior seems to be frowned upon. What’s the deal? This is not a library, it’s a surf spot! But for most, nothing is said.

I wonder how it got that way. Our surfing forefathers tell tales of how it used to be, where cars would pull over if they saw boards on the roof, just to meet and talk and compare stories and notes on spots, swells, and various conditions. I suppose as a core group of surfers swell to throngs of ocean-going wave seekers, other people in the line-up are seen as threats, foes, all competing for the same precious limited resource: waves.

So there’s no talking allowed in the line-up, it seems. And when we do break the silence, it’s usually about protecting territory: “Got it!” “hey, going right!” “I’ve never seen you out here.” “Did you have to bring every person you’ve ever met out here today?”

I mean, how dysfunctional are we? Imagine what a psychologist would think of our behavior if it was viewed collectively. Hmm, let’s see: subject rarely ever talks, even in close proximity to others around him for extended periods of time. And when subject does speak, the words project hostility and defensiveness. Would this make a good dad, or a good child or a good spouse? Why would we then think it makes for good surfing?

God has something to say about this. In Proverbs 25:11, God says “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word aptly spoken.” In this one little verse, God is letting us know how words can come at just he right time and build up and heal.

So do you want to make a ripple? Begin your surf session asking God to give you words for the people that you’ll be with out there in the surf. Who knows all the fears, heartaches, wrong choices, and regrets that define the course of the real lives of surfers, the one’s you’ll sit next to, waiting for waves? Start with the small things, like a simple greeting, complimenting a nice ride, or asking about the shape they are riding. Maybe you think that’s small talk. But maybe it will ripple into something greater, opening the door to matters of the heart.

Words are never neutral. They will bring either a positive or negative charge. They can either draw a person toward God’s good news, or push them further back into their own small story of personal fulfillment. And as you are willing to let God speak through you, maybe you’ll have a new set of criteria for measuring the enjoyment of a surf session. It’s now not just about the waves you rode, but the conversations you’ve had. And may those small ripples move outward to result in a groundswell of changed lives.

Friday, September 10, 2010


“Stewardship” is a word that is seldom used is surfing. For sure, you hear more things like “Dude!” “Stoked!” “Retro, bro!” Stewardship? Actually a key word for Jesus-centered surfing.

It’s starts with this big old world, and all it’s oceans and beaches and reefs, plus all the critters that live in and around these places. Plus everything that grows--the plant life and all that. If you know Jesus, then you know the one who made it all! And long ago, it was in a perfect, newly created, uncorrupted state. Not a single cig butt stuck in the sand. Not a single plastic water bottle bobbing around in the rip. That’s how it all started. You can read about it in the very first page of your Bible: Genesis chapter 1.

In Genesis, we find how the earth was created, and everything else for that matter. It was all “toth” (that’s the Hebrew word for “good”). And God meant for it to stay that way. So He created humans, folks like you and me, who didn’t have a lot of clutter in their lives—no bills to pay, no toilets to clean, no clocks to punch. They were freed up to do one thing especially well for this world: they were to take care of it.

Oh, by the way, these humans had a very clear idea that this earth was not created by people, so there were no rights of ownership that people can claim. They were stewards—these first people—which meant they were entrusted with something that was not there’s to take care of it. All of it. Consider these words:

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” –Genesis 1:26

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” --Genesis 2:15

God’s calling to his children now are the same as his calling to Adam, that first human: Rule well! Take care of this place!

So how are we doing with that? It’s clear to see that we were made to rule this earth, and we’ve seen how when we rule poorly, everything and most everyone suffers. Look at the long line of bad rulers we’ve had in history. Sad to say, bad rulers seem to out-live and out-fox good rulers by a wide margin. Bad rulers are really bad stewards (though they would never stoop so low as to consider themselves a steward, they are instead convinced that they own it all). Their impact on this place is devastating and immeasurable. Bad leaders really suck!

Stewards on the other hand, know that they have been given a gift, a trust. For surf stewards, it means we receive with gratitude our local beaches, reefs, and pointbreaks with all it’s surrounding natural wonders. Waves roll in for us to enjoy, but it’s no lock those that come after us will have the same experience.

I wonder, as you’ve prayed, has God whispered into your ears some words like those of Genesis 1:26 and 2:15: rule well. Take care of this place. And then you can act. And you can blend action into just about every surf session by simply picking up your own trash, and picking up somebody else’s too.

Imagine if that became part of our surf routine, as common as roughing up your wax with a comb and stretching a bit before you paddle out. It’s a little thing that might lead to big things: beaches and line ups free of junk today which in time leads to a cleaner ocean bringing life and health to animals and economies and nations. That’s the ripple effect. Start with something small and watch it grow.

Christian surfers make environmental stewardship an act of worship. Not because we worship the earth but because we worship the earth-maker. And all this world is made by Him. It all belongs to Him. We’re just his friends (Jesus said as much in John 15:15) who take care of his things. Now that we know this, we should be, above all people, be taking the lead. And doing it well.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

“Stoked” is one word in the surfing vocabulary with great durability. It’s been fresh for decades and not every surf word can claim that. Words like righteous, cosmic, hodad and bitchen have been used and are way past their prime. “Stoke” keeps its freshness, and it’s central to the surfing experience, to it’s soul. The bible has no such word, but one like it: joy.

You find this word ‘joy’ a bunch in the New Testament. It shows up to remind us that life is not meant to be a death march, but a life-dance. Most New Testament writers were Jewish in background, which meant that although they wrote in Greek, the thought in Hebrew. So when the spelled out chara (that’s Greek for joy), they must have mentally referenced the Hebrew words for joy. Actually, there are a bunch of ‘em:

Simchad literally meant “bright and shiny”—think of that blazing winter sun, squinting out into it as you scan for set waves on a sheet glass afternoon.

Rimnah means “shouting” which is great fun when you are on the shoulder of a set wave that a buddy lucks into. A perfect thing to do as you watch him pull in. Masos means “leaping”, which in our present era of aerial surfing seems very appropriate. And “gil” is not describing the breathing apparatus for fish, it describes “moving around in circles.” Like a dance, or a rodeo flip. Put them all together, and you got joy. Or the way we describe it…stoke.

Joy is God’s idea. It is intended to be the mark of a Jesus follower, a Jesus surfer. When Paul insisted that his Philippian friends “Rejoice in the Lord always.” he repeated it again for emphasis. Bring it to life, this bright and shining, shouting, leaping, running around in circles kind of life. And bring it to surfing. And bring it especially when you may not feel like doing it. Be willing, for that is really all that God asks of you.

And then see what happens. Most line-ups are desperately in need of it. Most lives are too.

I Thessalonians 5:16: Be Joyful always