Saturday, October 16, 2010


It was strange to see the Australian guy paddle in over the reef with just the tail of his board. Floating in the shallows was the other half, the front half. On that bright Indonesian morning at Scar Reef (the name fits—trust me), double overhead Indian Ocean perfection would provide for some rides that will remain etched in the memory banks, keepsakes of a session where all the conditions came together. And this same perfection would claim its share of boards.

I watched the Aussie collect himself, now carrying a piece under each arm, a sheepish look on his face, feeling a bit like a gladiator exiting the ring bloodied…but alive. And no doubt disappointed that his board had been snapped cleanly in half, and unless he brought a back-up board, he would be a spectator for the rest of his time there, because replacement boards were being sold a full day’s journey away. Yes, two islands over to the nearest surf shop. “Have fun watching, Mate!”

He could try to piece the board together, with enough fiberglass and sun-cure resin…but have you ever ridden a snapped in half board that’s been glued back together? The weight added is prohibitive, the board will never ride the same. Even dumpster diving retro—advocates would pass on it. It’s...broken. Its fate would be either to be erected on the wall of some local restaurant, or thrown in a landfill (which means back to Oz it goes,--there are no landfills on this island).

Boards do get broken. It should not surprise us. We live in a world where tons of things break: relationships, economies, human bodies, our word. And Jesus came on the scene roughly 2000 years ago and declared “I can fix that.” In John 3:17 he said something to the effect that “I didn’t come to condemn the world, I came to save it.

There you have it: Jesus saves. But does that resonate with you or does it seem like one in a long list of religious slogans? Do visions in your head appear of TV preachers imploring you in a southern accent to pick up that phone (operators are standing by now!) and dial our counseling line so you can get “saaaaaaaahhhhyyyyeeeevvvved.”

Are you a little put off by it all? Perhaps you’ve known Christians who talked amongst themselves and use this world like some sort of holy secret handshake.

“So when did you get saved???” “Oh, I got saved on such and such a date.”

And yet, that’s the word Jesus used. But explore it’s meaning: the word he used was the Greek work “sozo” which means “to save” but also in a fuller sense “to renew, restore, to heal, to put everything back in its proper order.”

Simple stated. Jesus saves. Jesus heals broken things. And there are lots of things broken in this world. Things like foam and fiberglass boards, which snap like toothpicks when conditions go extreme. But go beyond things to people. People get broken. People are broken. And all our efforts of patching ourselves up won’t make us right. It won’t make us who we were intended to be.

And how do broken people get whole? Jesus must save them. In other words: renew them, restore them and make them new.

God tells us in very clear terms that this brokenness is what the bible calls sin. It’s a small word that encompasses the very broad and big categories of all that is wrong in you and me and this world. Jesus says he beat it, won over it, when he gave himself to die the death that we deserved, which was on a cross. He did not stay dead, however. He rose from the dead. Which shows us all some really vital things. First off, it shows us he is God, and not a man. Men have no mastery over death. Death gets all men in the end. But that was not true of Jesus.

It also shows us that broken stuff (and people) don’t need to stay broken anymore. Jesus offers his healing, his salvation to anyone who would say “I believe it. I trust that’s what it takes for me to be reunited with the God that made me. I’m willing to now follow Jesus, he now takes the lead, and I follow”

Jesus wants to save the souls of surfers, broken surfers like you and me.

And through us, then, Jesus wants to save the soul of surfing. If you think about it, this thing called surfing, except for in small pockets, has not been around for very long. In its short history, there’s been this celebration of the pure and beautiful act of riding waves. But also much that needs to be saved. Because much is broken.

When surf clothing companies make heroes of alcoholics and then cast these heroes aside once their contest ratings or photo appeal begin to wane, that is a broken thing. When surfers brought their wave riding to Lagundri Bay in Nias and transformed an island paradise into a drug-infested ghetto, that is broken also. It’s a broken thing when women in surfing can only get ahead if they are sexually and physically stunning. We experience the brokenness of surfing every time there’s a shouting match in the water, then a punch-out on the beach, then slashed tires and expletives written with wax on windshields. We try to justify ourselves by going green, while we burn fuel in jets to get us on our surf vacations, as we burn diesel to power the A/C in the stateroom of our boats so we can sleep comfortably, readying ourselves to ride waves on boards that are made from incredibly toxic materials. There’s something broken in that line of reasoning, that we somehow get a hall pass for our hypocrisy.

The soul of surfing? This is a soul…on the brink of destruction.

But it’s a soul that can get healed. Through Jesus. Through his followers, through those who would choose another path. Perhaps through each of the ideas shared in The Ripple Effect, your path can be different.

So go out and make some waves. Your life always means more than you think it does, when you place your life in the Master of all creation…

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Surfers are surfing better today than in any other era, by far. Ok they might not be the best all-around watermen (the invention of the surf leash closes the door on any discussion), but surfers today are capable of moves on (and mostly above) the water that we could only dream about years ago.

Those who are atop of the surfing food-chain are legitimately some of the finest athletes on the planet today, incorporating tremendous muscle reflex, balance, and bravery to execute “rodeo clowns” “passion-pops” “superman-airs” even full backflips…all in seriously meaty waves. It takes a lot to make that all happen on a constantly changing playing field, where adjustments of body and board need to be made with split second timing. These new school moves won’t be accomplished with mere chance. Practice, coaching, video analysis, and more goes into placing body and board in the right spaces at the right moments for the right reasons. It takes a lot of mastery, a lot of self-control.

Strangely, surfing seems to be about self-control in the water, but out-of-control on land.

Nothing new here. For a long time now, our surf culture has glamorized wild and narcissistic behavior that begins anytime we towel off and hit dry land. Surfers have become famous for amazing self control while riding a board, and then no self-control at all when it comes to food, drink, speech, sex, money, and more. Surf culture is not bashful about it. Instead, out-of-control living has become the preferred marketing tool of most core surf brands.

So, if you want to create a ripple effect in your group of friends, or your town, or your nation, why not long for God to develop in you self-control, both in the water and on the land?

Now before you conclude that what is being advocated here is a lot of cold showers and sleep deprivation, killing your tv and canceling your surf mag subscription, God desires that we know self control. It’s actually a marking of those who live a life in God’s life. In Galatians 5 we discover that among God’s fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

Which might make you think immediately that God has set us all up for failure: sure you can ‘be good’ for a while but then you’ll eventually blow it and begin riding the “guilt-train.”

But think again. In Galatians 5 the word self-control is translated from the Greek word enkratos which literally means “in strength.” In whose strength, you might ask? God’s strength. He’s the one who can move us from unhealthy desires that only end up hurting ourselves or hurting others around us. He’s the one who can keep us from wasting and ruining our lives. And even when we fail, he’s the one who can accept us back into His good graces and encourage us to keep moving forward.

Such a life, a God—empowered life, will make some serious waves. That God would grant us strength to live and love and also to surf, that is truly good news. And so…

“we proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his (God’s) energy which so powerfully works in me.”

--Colossians 1:28-29