Thursday, November 27, 2008


Well, it seems that I was preaching to myself on yesterday's post. I've known for about a week that I need to make amends with one of my friends. I saw him out in the water a couple of days ago, and we both just sort of ignored each other. I knew then that I should paddle over to him and say 'hi' and work things out. It just didn't seem like the 'right time'...

When I got out of the water today, he was standing in the parking lot with a bunch of my other friends just checking out the crowded surf. Right away I knew that now was my chance to 'practice what I preach'. I said hi to a couple of the guys and Pat (the friend in question) was standing with his back to me. I went up to him, put my hand on his shoulder, smiled and said 'Pat, are you still mad at me?', sort of jokingly. He looked at me and smiled and told me he was never really mad at me. We talked a bit and within about 30 seconds, things were back to normal between us.

It's funny how easy that was but how much weight fell off my shoulders from just this simple act of taking the initiative to do the right thing right now. Like I said yesterday - let's keep short accounts!

Happy Thanksgiving to all and blessings on you and your families.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Surfing Lessons - #2

The surf was great today. Well, it was huge and a little scary, but I'm weird and huge and scary is sorta to my liking. Anyway, I'm totally surfed-out right now from catching some of the biggest waves of the winter so far. But yesterday...

Yesterday was one of those days where it looked like everything was lined-up to give us super fun surf. Camille and I got up, did our morning breakfast thing, and drove to the beach to check it. The last few days before had been going off (one of them made it into this blog), and we were stoked for the possibility of another great session. We got to the beach and the tide was still really high. The swell was there, the wind was offshore, but there was just too much water and the waves were mushy and barely breaking. No problem, we decided to just go home and get some chores done and come back in a few hours when the tide would be lower.

Camille had to work in the evening, so later on, I drove back to the beach to check it and tell her if she should come for a quick session before work or just chill. I got there and things were looking better. There were several people out in the water and it looked like they were getting some good waves. Not perfect, certainly not as good as the past few days, but definitely do-able. I called Camille and told her that I would probably paddle-out and where I would be. She decided that she really didn't have enough time before work and told me to have fun.

Now began a ritual that many surfers know well. I call it the 'Let's just check it for a couple more minutes' syndrome. It happens when things aren't perfect, but there are some waves to catch. Where I live, there are about four surf spots visible from the parking lot, so part of this ritual often includes hem-hawing about where the best place to paddle-out would be. Well, my 'couple more minutes' quickly turned into about 45 minutes, during which time I watched several surfers get several decent waves. Not epic, but fun nonetheless. I finally made up my mind to put on my wetsuit and head out.

Wouldn't you know it. As soon as I got out of my SUV, opened the back door and reached for my wetsuit, the weather turned. On the Oregon Coast, we like to say that if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes. Too true. Suddenly, the rain was coming down in sheets and the wind picked up and switched direction about 140-degrees so that it was blowing directly west, right onshore. Hard. That destroys the surf. If I had just paddled out when I drove up and saw a few decent waves, I could have gotten at least an hour of surf in before the weather ruined it.

As I drove home, dry and bummed, a thought occurred to me. How many times in my life have I waited for the 'perfect setup' do to something that I knew I should just do now? Whether that 'something' is something hard or easy, something uncomfortable or comforting, something I'm glad to do or something I know I'll do begrudgingly - it makes no difference. How many good opportunities have passed me by because I was waiting for the 'perfect moment'? Was I being a little too picky yesterday as a surfer? Yes. Am I bummed that my finicky attitude cost me a surf session? You bet! What other, infinitely more important things may I have missed simply because I told myself that later would be better?

How about you? Is there someone you need to say 'I love you' to? Someone with whom you need to make amends? Is there a burden on your heart for something and you have been telling yourself that you will get to it tomorrow? All I missed out on yesterday was about an hour or so of surfing. But how many really important things in life have slipped through my fingers because I didn't think that the 'time was right' for them? I don't want to miss any more surf sessions. I don't want to neglect any more friendships. I don't want to keep others upset with me. I don't want anyone else to wonder if they are loved or cared about. I don't want to keep God waiting to do more great stuff in my life.

The 'perfect time' is now, friends. Clear the slate. If you die tomorrow, will you leave anyone 'hanging'? I'll start - I love you. I mean it from the bottom of my heart. If you are reading this, then I promise you that there is at least one person in this world who loves you. Me. If you think that I may be the only one who loves you, please leave a comment and I will personally get in touch with you and introduce you to a whole bunch of people who love you as well. Life is short. Like my father says - let's keep short accounts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New heavens and earth?

Like many of you I'm sure, I've always been a little unnerved when the Bible starts talking about a 'New Heaven' and 'New Earth'. It seems to me that our Creator went to quite a bit of trouble to make this beautiful planet on which we reside as wonderful as it is. Why would He want to trash it someday? And that 'New Heaven' bit - will grandpa and grandma have to pack up their stuff and move to a different 'heaven' after just settling in to the current one? Seems a little redundant!

Ok, before you start labelling me a heretic, I realize that the Bible is speaking partly of the spiritual and partly of the physical when it refers to our future. But still, what will all of this look like? I am particularly nervous about the 'and there was no more sea' part. How am I gonna surf with no sea? How could that possibly be heaven?

Well, as I've said before, I truly believe that our Creator set the Universe in order according to hard and fast laws, both physical and spiritual. Sometimes we 'churchgoers' tend to forget that the laws of physics are just as binding on our Universe as spiritual laws. We like to label anything that God does as 'spiritual' or 'other-worldly' or 'supernatural'. I ask this question: Why would the Creator orchestrate all of Creation according to the laws of physics, only to throw out all of those laws to accomodate our finite theology?

Stay with me. How many cartoons have you seen where people in heaven are floating around on clouds with wings and harps? Where in the Bible do we get THIS picture? The Bible is actually quite clear heaven is a physical place where we will dwell in physical bodies (see 1 COR 15:35-58). Look up in the night sky. How many stars do you see? How many planets do you think orbit those stars? Why would all of that be out there if God's plan for us was to turn us into ethereal spirits who spend our days playing Handel's 'Messiah' on our harps?

So here's the deal. I read something really cool today. Astronomers at the Carnegie Institute have noticed something pretty amazing in the dusty disk surrounding HR 4796A, an eight-million year-old star in the constellation Centaurus. They used the Hubble telescope's Near-Infrared Multi-Object Spectrometer to analyze the light that is coming from this disk. They found that it is red, and not just for any old reason. You see, after careful analysis, they determined that the red hue is due to large organic carbon molecules called tholins. The analysis ruled out other causes of the red light, such as iron oxide. Why is this important? Because scientists are pretty sure that organic molecules were instrumental in kick-starting life as we know it on little ole' planet Earth.

You see, this disk of dust surrounding a star in the Centaurus constellation is in the process of forming planets. Eventually there will be real planets orbiting this distant sun, just like our solar system. The presence of organic molecules at this time of planetary formation means that these building-blocks of Life could be scattered on any planets that will orbit this star, paving the way for Life later on.

Real physics, folks! Planetary formation in action. Cool if you're a science geek, right? Actually, you don't have to wear a pocket-protecter to find the intrigue here. Let's go back to the 'new heaven and new earth' bit. We know that our Creator set the Universe to abide by certain laws. What is cool here is that we get to see a living example of the laws of physics working hand-in-hand with spiritual laws. God's word is telling us that we will one day inhabit a new earth. Scientists are telling us that they are witnessing potential new earths being created as we speak! Is the hair starting to stand up on the back of your arms yet? Physical science is once again backing up the spiritual truths contained in God's Word. Excuse me, but this is exciting stuff - and I'm a surf-bum, not an astrophysicist or a theologian!

I don't have to be anxious about what the 'new earth' will be like. It seems that God is already busy preparing for that. And just think of the size of the Universe. Someone who is so big with so much creative energy that He could have made all of that is surely not constrained by Man's image of what a new earth will look like. There may be 100 billion new earths, for all we know. It boggles the mind to think of what may be out there, awaiting our discovery. I truly believe that Heaven is a physical place, and the more I think about it, the more I am coming to feel that Heaven is physical places. The spiritual reality about heaven is that God Himself will be there with us physically. We will be able to see Him face-to-face! The what and the where are only details compared to that!

So, in light of all of this, this surf-bum isn't too worried that he may have to shelve his surfboards in heaven. You see, I've learned that if we trust our Creator, he gives us the desires of our hearts. He's probably the One who put those desires there in the first place! So, MY new earth will be mostly ocean, with a few small continents and islands centered around the equatorial zone basking in the warmth of the local sun. The water will be warm and constant storms hundreds of miles offshore will provide swell that will collide perfectly with beautiful reefs, beaches and headlands to make tasty waves every day. Or, God could put a special place in my heart for shuffleboard. Whatever the case, heaven will be real and it's gonna rock!

P.S. - You can read more about planet formation and the Universe in general on the Universe Today website. Thanks to Nicholos Wethington for the article that inspired this blog!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Surfing Lessons - #1

I got dropped-in on today. Big time. The surf was pumping. It was sunny and the wind was offshore - perfect. The waves were well overhead and super clean. Pretty much what you picture as a surfer when you close your eyes and think of fall. And it seems that all of the greater Portland metropolitan area was as stoked to be in the water as were Camille and I.

What does 'got dropped in on' mean, you're thinking? Well, it's a surfing term for when one person is already up and catching or riding a wave and another person paddles into the wave rignt in front of them. Although usually not intentional, it is quite a breach in etiquette and can be very dangerous. Not 'dropping in' on another surfer is part of Surfing 101. Probably more fights have been started over 'dropping in' than over anything else in the water. A surfer coming full speed at someone who is just dropping into a wave has the potential to severly injure both the other surfer and him/herself. Furthermore, even if a collision does not ensue, boards and leashes can get tangled and both surfers can become an entwined mass of humanity being tossed around in the whitewater like ragdolls. Surfboards can get broken and egos bruised (not to mention the potential for drowning). Looking before you paddle into a wave is just a hard and fast surfing rule.

So there I was, on a particularly tasty left-hander. I was just setting up for a killer backside snap off the lip when a Portlander paddled in right in front of me without looking. Now, dropping in on someone is bad enough, but dropping in on a local when you are a non-local basically violates several key laws that keep the time-space continuum in balance. It's sort of like Larry the Cable Guy singing the National Anthem in a bikini - there's just certain things that the Universe will not tolerate. But a funny thing happened next...

As I saw that this dude was about to snake me I instantly thought, of all things, blog!

Did I mention that it was a beautiful day and that the waves were great? Maybe it was the whole scene of surfing bliss, maybe it was something in my pre-surf coffee...or maybe (this is what I am hoping), maybe I am actually starting to learn something from this abstract process of airing out my brain to the world. Seriously, I watched this guy drop in right in front of me and my first thought was, "If I get mad right now, I will be a total hypocrite and have to delete my entire blog entry from yesterday." So, instead of yelling and letting him know that I was about to perform a docking procedure with his backside, I just stalled a little and settled into the pocket of the wave.

Two things happened right away. First, the wave started to mush out a little and it just so happened that where I was standing, right in the pocket in front of the whitewater, became the only real place that you could be and still continue on down the line for the rest of the wave. Second, the he looked back and realized, for the first time, that he had just dropped-in on me. With a look of surprise on his face, he gave his board a couple of pumps, got some speed and kicked-out over the back side of the wave and out of my way. I stayed in the pocket and got two or three more good turns out of the wave. All-in-all, a pretty good wave!

As I kicked out of the wave, before I even started to paddle back out, I could see him waving at me and gesturing that he was sorry. I guess he has surfed with me several times and he knows that I am a local surfer out here. As I paddled closer to him, he was all apologies. He was probably expecting to get cussed at or told to go back to Portland. But you see, what he didn't realize was that, not only do I generally not make a habit out of cussing at people, but that what was really on my mind at that moment was the subject of yesterday's blog entry: love. Love doesn't hold other people's mistakes against them. Love isn't upset that someone may have ruined it's wave. Love knows that there will always be more waves. Love has learned that in light of Eternity, missing one wave (that I didn't even miss - remember?) is a small price to pay for making someone else's day.

I think he was pretty surprised when I paddled up to him and with a big smile, said simply, "No worries, bro. It's way too nice of a day to get amped-up about much of anything, wouldn't you say?"

I could almost physically feel the relief sweep over him! He looked back at me with a big smile and said, "Dude, I think I did the same exact thing to you the last time I was out here. Sorry, man!"

I told him that it was all good and we chatted for a bit about the great weather and fun waves. I paddled off after that to catch another wave and both of us had our level of stoke go through the roof.

What does all of this have to do with God, astrophysics and the Universe in general? Well, as I mentioned in my profile, God seems to be using my favorite passtime to teach me lessons about the Universe. I've stated before that I firmly believe that our Creator has set the Universe in order according to both physical and spiritual laws. Today's lesson is a continuation of what seems to be becoming a common theme in the Universe Creator's lesson plan for myself and some of those who are closest to me. Just as there are undisputible physical laws such as Newton's Third Law of Motion, there are also spiritual laws that hold the Universe in equal sway. The greatest of all of these laws, my friends, is Love. I think that what I am beginning to learn is that love is the glue that God uses to hold this entire dynamic, living, chaotic, expanding, endless, beautiful Universe together. All of the other laws, both physical and spiritual, stand at attention and salute to their great General - Love.

1 Corinthians chapter 13 tells us that without love, nothing else we do matters. It says that everthing else will fade away, but love will endure forever. It compares love to some of the other great laws of the Universe, such as faith and hope, but says the love is the greatest. You see, without love, there is no 'rest of the Universe'. Love is what holds it all together. Without love, it all comes apart and can't possibly make any sense. Our Creator used love to weave the Universe together. Love is the first great Universal Law.

And I learned this, in part, by having someone accidentally drop-in on me on a sunny day in Seaside, Oregon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Just so you know where I'm coming from...

Someone very close to me (you may be reading his blog, too) likes to say something that is both simple and profound: Love is the key.

Sounds simple, and it is. It is also very complex. The complexity lies in the fact that this simple statement can and should be an integral part of every facet of our lives. Since these are my own thoughts that I'm sharing, let me show you a little of what I mean.

I love God.
I love my wife.
I love my family and friends.
I love my country.
I love this messed-up human race.
I love unborn humans.
I love this beautiful place we call home - planet Earth.
I love the environment.
I love animals.
I love nature.
I love those who don't agree with my point of view.
I love those who have no intention of loving me back.
I love those who would persecute me for loving them.
I love the Peace that my Creator has put in my heart (in fact, it is that Peace that allows me to love a lot of these other things).
I love you.

That is just a tiny snapshot of how I am trying to let Love invade every crevice of my life. Do I love all of these things the same way? Of course not! Do I have to try REAL hard to love some of them? You bet! I am just beginning to realize just how much your quality of life is changed when you start to view the world through the eyes of love. The Word of God has a LOT to say about love, but for me it can be simplified into three little words: God is love. I want to know God as closely and fully as is humanly possible. If I want to know Him, I have to know love. Trust me, I am at the beginning of a long journey where learning about love is concerned. The more I understand, the more I know my Creator, the happier I am.

I have a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Sometimes I can come off as being a bit abrasive. Let me assure you, I am humbled that you would take the time to read my thoughts and participate in what I hope to be a learning journey that takes us all closer to knowing our Creator and what his plans are for us. If I occasionally get on the soapbox or ruffle your feathers a little, please come back to this starting point and realize that I love you. Even if I act like a jerk sometimes.

Love is the key.

Hello out there...

My name is Jeremy and I have a lot of stuff swimming through my head. Not that any of it is of interest to any of my sane friends, mind you. But, in the event that you are as nutty as I, my ramblings my at least be of value to you as comic relief. Anyway, I have decided to enter the world of web blogging more as a way to organize my thoughts than anything else. Please feel free to help.

Just for the record, I belive in just a few things and my belief in them is unshakable:
1. There is a Creator.
2. He IS Love.
3. He set the Universe into motion using laws both physical and Divine and those laws make perfect sense if we look at them with His mind.
4. He loves us, saves us and wants to give us His mind to be able to understand our place in His Universe.
5. Our job is to love Him back and love each other. Simple as that.
6. Once again - God is Love.

These beliefs of mine are either the most simple, freeing truths in the Universe, or they are utter foolishness. The purpose of this blog will be to explore these beliefs in detail and in doing so better understand our Creator and our place in the Universe. One thing is for sure - it won't be boring!