“Out of the Mouth of Infants”

mouth of Babes

There’s a park by my mom’s house that I always skate that’s just a couple rails and a box. I was there the other day and this little kid came and started cruising around and talking to me. It seemed like he had just started getting into it and couldn’t have been older than 10 years old. His name was Matthew and this kid made my day.

He didn’t have the language to express the tricks he wanted me to do, but he kept asking me to do things in a fun way. Instead of saying “boardslide the rail,” he would say, “Go on the rail in the middle of your board.” Then I would go do it, and he would be like, “WOAH, YOU DID THE WHOLE THING IN THE MIDDLE!” One time I did a kickflip to a boardslide and he said something like, “WOAH, YOU DID A FLIP ONTO THE MIDDLE?” And he kept asking me to race him through the park, and I kept trying tricks along the way, and eventually he told me that if I tried a trick along the way and messed up I would automatically win. Imagine Olympic races with those rules.

The funny thing about this experience is that when we think about people to skate with that will push us to get better, we usually think of people that are better than us. But the reactions I would get from this kid was so amusing that I was having a blast trying things just to see what kind of reaction I was going to get. Matthew was pushing me based on the amount of excitement he was expressing, and it rubbed off on me and made me more excited to skate and try things.

Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.” This kid was a Godsend, the joy in him and the joy that arose in me as a result was unmatched to anything I have ever encountered. Psalm 8:2 says, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have ordained strength.” Out of the mouth and smiles of Matthew I saw the Lord expressing the joy and love he has for myself and all his children. Never fail to give attention to the little ones, there may be a Matthew encounter just waiting to happen.

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Little Homies

Meaning blog 2

I was at my local park the other day, and after I skated around for a bit I went to the back of the park so I could work on some flatground tricks by myself. There were only 2 other people at the park so I thought a solo flatground session would be feasible. But shortly after I started this kid (probably 11 or 12 years old) came over and started skating with me. At first I was a little annoyed and said things to myself like, “why do you have to come over here right when I start,” and, “you have the whole park, go skate something else.” Not my finest hour, I know. As we skated for a while I started to enjoy the company, and as I watched this kid, I noticed that every time he would try a trick he would look up at me, either to see if I was watching or if I was going to respond with praise or not.

As I sat there watching him it reminded me of when I was that age, and how much I loved the praise and approval of all the older skaters. When there was someone that was older that was really good that gave me praise for my skating, it was like the best feeling in the world. When I realized that I tried to keep expressing praise for the tricks that he was doing, and I could tell that it meant a lot to him.

As I skated with this kid for a bit, I realized that for some reason we were all created to need some type of assurance that we are doing good and that we mean something in the world. That void usually gets somewhat filled by our parents, then when get a little older it’s by people we look up to, then the last step should be our Father in heaven. Acts 17:27 says, “That they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being.” That longing for assurance that our lives mean something was put in us in order for us to feel our way to God – the only one that truly fills that void. All the steps along the way (parents and role-models) are just glimpses of something better.

Along with this, me being annoyed at first by the kid that wanted to skate with me is a misrepresentation of the Christ in me. A cool thing about this is that we get to show people what our God is like. When we extend that praise and assurance that we have experienced from Christ to others, we get to give people a glimpse of what it means to know Christ. Be quick to express praise to the little homies at the skate park, it may be the only expression of Christ they see that day.

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The People

Uniquely Common

Skateboarding can often bring out the animal in me. When I skate I tend to get in the zone and tune out everything and everyone around me. If I’m at a crowded skate park, people often feel like a nuisance – just something in my way. I want to push myself and get better, and if anyone gets in the way of that I want to get angry. As I have gotten older I have gotten better at taming the animal in me, but it still can be a struggle for me.

I help out with a skate church in vacaville sometimes and for a while every time I went I would get real aggressive, cut everyone off, and be way too into my own skating. I always left feeling guilty for the way I acted and often felt like that place was probably better off without me. I eventually just started taking weeks off because even though I had a desire to chill out, as soon as I got there I would just get all into it and not care about anyone else. I hoped that if I took breaks from going that I would come back more chill at some point, but it never seemed to happen.

The church we meet at is moving to a new building, and the other day we had a last night in the building service with all the skate ramps out. And at the end we were all skating and I was kind of taking it easy and watching everyone else, and as I was sitting there watching, I started thinking about all these skate kids that come every week (sometimes twice if they go to youth group, which a lot of them do) to skate and hear a little bit of the Word of God. I remember when I was their age I didn’t know anybody that skated that had any involvement in anything church related, and here we are in a little indoor skate park set up full of skate kids that come to this thing and youth group every week. I couldn’t help thinking of how beautiful this place has been and how foolish it is to care more about my tricks than the people. A lot of these kids have little direction from their families, and for the most part, skateboarding is the only real family or meaning they have in the world. A lot of them have no money and their parents don’t buy them anything, so every time I give them some of my old stuff they’re always super grateful. Every time I show up some of them are always eager to show me what tricks they learned that week and I can tell that a lot of them look up to me. It’s crazy how someone can be a role model to kids just because of what they can do on a skateboard. After meditating on this for a while I began to feel remorse for all the times I couldn’t go to these skate church nights without getting angry and frustrated for everyone being in my way.

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about for the last several months that really hit me that night, is that everything we do is never about the thing. God didn’t give me skateboarding to just focus on being the best I can and pushing myself, but to love the people I come into contact with through it and show the love of Christ. We should push ourselves and always try to exceed our personal best, but never at the cost of making it more important than the people. In John 13:35, Jesus tells his disciples, “By this all will know that you are my disciples… if you have love for one another,” notice he didn’t say, “by the things you do and how good you are at them.” Do whatever it is you do well, but love the people you meet through it even better.

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Surprised to be Alive

Screen shot 2015-10-26 at 11.20.59 AM

I have had a hurt ankle for about a month and a half now, and at times it can drive me a little crazy. Being hurt and not able to skate can often feel like a prison. Skateboarding is a big part of who I am and how I express myself, without it I don’t feel like I can truly be me. Being a skateboarder for 16 years, I’ve had to deal with the challenge of being hurt quite a few times. Throughout the years I have usually responded to injury with shock and amazement, as if some strange injustice has happened to me. I’ve come to realize though that the real surprise and amazement is when I can walk away from any skate park or skate spot without some kind of injury. First of all, skateboarding is a pretty injury prone activity, and secondly, it is not something that I am entitled too. Just like everything else in this world, skateboarding had a starting point, it didn’t always exist. Everyday that we are rewarded the luxury of being able to ride a skateboard is a huge surprise and a blessing. Our perspective shouldn’t be, “what a surprise and shock,” when we can’t skate, but when we can.

I heard someone say the other day, “don’t be surprised that people die, be surprised that people are still living.” When you think about all the chaos, disease, and things that can go dramatically wrong in life, it is a shock that anyone makes it very long. People die at 30 and people are surprised that they died so young, but the real surprise is that they lived so long. Just like skateboarding, life is dangerous, lots of things can go wrong, and everyday we live that nothing does is a surprise, not the opposite. Everyday that we can live, laugh, and learn is a blessing and should amaze us that we can do it at all. Nobody is entitled to life, for it didn’t always exist and it doesn’t have to exist.

I hear old people say a lot, “When you get to be my age, just waking up is a surprise.” If we all adopted that mentality life would be a lot sweeter. When we realize that we are not entitled to anything, everyday becomes like Christmas morning. Psalm 16:2 says, “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord, I have no good apart from you.” Everything we have is intentionally crafted and presented to us by a loving heavenly father. Everyday that we can live, and everyday that we can skate is a gift, it is not owed to us. So next time you find yourself not able to skate or in some kind of hardship, don’t be surprised that life is a little hard at the moment, be thankful for all the days that were good, for we are not owed or entitled to any of it.

 

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“Let the Children Come”

ethiopia1-2-2

I was at a skate park today and there was these two little kids (probably no older than 8) just hanging out and asking everyone if they can use their board. I said no at first because I had just got there and was eager to skate, and for whatever reason everyone else was telling them no too. After I had skated for a while I finally agreed to let one of them ride my board, and when he finally got his hands on one it brought the biggest smile to my face as I watched him ride around the park.

For one he was better than I thought he was. He could ride down and up all the banks and  turn decent enough not to fall off the board when he went around sharp corners. But what really made me laugh was his lack of care to anything going on around him. He was so excited to be on a board he didn’t pay any attention to anything around him. My friend Steven went to try something down the stairs and as soon he hit the ground a board went flying at him because the kid was right behind him. We both couldn’t help but to just start cracking up laughing. He was so young and excited to be on a board, it was amusing how much skate park etiquette didn’t matter.

As I sat there watching him, it became funny to me how I first didn’t want to give my board up, and then how happy it made me when I finally did. It reminded me of all the times Jesus was interrupted during his life and the good that always came from it. Most (if not all) the miracles Jesus performed during his ministry happened when he was on his way somewhere or busy doing something. It was the interruptions in His life that really fueled his ministry.

In Matthew 19:13-15, people bring children to Jesus to pray for them, but the disciples tell them that Jesus can’t see them. But as a result, Jesus gets upset and says to His disciples, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for such belongs the kingdom of God.” I picture the disciples in this scenario sitting there watching Jesus with the children and saying to themselves, “look how funny they are, why did we ever turn them away,” just how I felt with the kid at the skate park.

A lot of the time it’s in the interruptions and in those moments that first seem like hassles that we often see God move the most. I probably made that kids day and created a memory that he may never forget, and to think I first saw him as a nuisance that was in the way of my skating. Jesus says in Matthew 25:37-40, “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” We show our love for God by how we choose to love people. Sometimes it seems like a hassle or a nuisance, but once we do it, we will be glad we did. Not only do we live forever with Jesus in Heaven, but we live forever in the people that we make those memories with… when we love people as Christ loves us.  

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Losing Focus

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Dealing with distraction is a big part of skateboarding. People often shout at us as they drive by, at skate parks it’s hard not to worry about someone being in our way, and of course there’s always the big cracks right before or at the bottom of our favorite stair sets. So many things come against us that mess with our heads and cause us to lose focus. The biggest struggle in landing a trick can often be just blocking out the distractions that get in the way. Skateboarding is often just a game of, “can we stay focused?”

In life there always seems to be a constant flood of distractions coming at us that try to steal our focus away from the things we want to do or what God wants us to do. The bible paints a good picture on this in the true story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 13-16). Samson was a man born with exceptional strength that was given him by God in order to deliver Israel from the Philistines that had been oppressing them. Samson had some heroic moments that show him walking in this purpose, but for the most part, he did not succeed. Samson’s strength was in his hair, and as long as he kept his hair he would keep his strength, but because he lacked the strength to block out distraction, he traded the Lord’s call on his life for a dead end romance that costed him everything. Delilah was hired by the philistines to seduce him and find out where his strength lied so they could kill him. If you read the story, there’s obvious signs of Delilah not really caring about him, but because he was so easily distracted and couldn’t focus on the Lord and His purpose for his life, he failed at his mission and the whole nation suffered. The Lord wanted to use him to deliver Israel, but since he failed they had to wait till King David came around many years later to pick up his slack. Like Samson, we all have things that God has created us to do, and many of us unfortunately fall victim to the distractions of the world and trade it in for something meaningless. As skateboarders, if we can’t work passed distraction we won’t be landing very many tricks, and as Christians we will never walk in God’s purpose for our lives and we will live a life without much meaning.

Genesis 4:7 says, “…sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Distraction and temptations to sin are always gnawing at us, and being able to stay focused on the things of the Lord is a skill we should always be working toward mastering. When temptations come hollering at us, we need to be wise enough not to bend to its calling. Proverbs 22:3 says, “The wise sees danger and hides himself, but the naive go on and suffer for it.” And Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days.” God is our life, our everything. There will be times when temptations will arise to get us to think differently, but we need to be wise and hold fast to our God. He is the one that gives our lives meaning and purpose, nothing else. Keep your eyes and focus on the Lord, only then does anyone really live.

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Lunatics with friends

AZ Chillin

Skateboarding is fun and I love it, but there are moments when it makes me feel like a looney. I scream and yell, snap at people, and have no care whatsoever for other people around me. It amazes me how I can do this and still have friends, and how people put up with me acting like a madman?

Something I love about skateboarding is the mutual understanding that we have with each other. We understand the struggle of suffering through a trick and all the frustration that comes with it. Everyone that skates has their moments of battling a trick and becoming aggravated as a result of it, so they understand and aren’t necessarily surprised if someone starts acting a little crazy. Skateboarders can act like looneys and still have friends because we all have experienced the struggle and can relate with it.

In everyday life, we also have our moments of life getting the best of us, causing us to do stupid things. In spite of these moments, the Creator who knows everything about us and every wicked thought of ours still calls us his friend. Jesus says in John 15:15, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” Just like a skateboarder can have friends because they understand the struggle, He too can call us his because He understands ours. Hebrews 4:15-16, speaking of Jesus says, “For we do not have a hight priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Because God became man, lived among us and dealt with the same temptations as we do, he can relate with us and even offer aid. 

We all have our moments of acting a little crazy and doing stupid things. Without our friends that understand our struggles we wouldn’t have any friends for very long, and without a God that understands our frustration, pain, and sorrow, we wouldn’t have a very loving or accepting God.

 

This is my friend Rob, He puts up with my lunacy a little more than most people.

 

 

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