Hello Surgeons :)
We hope you are doing well as summertime winds down to a close... here are a few things going on with us:
- We're kicking off our Mystery Train series, with the Divine Mystery of Dating - it's going to be a great series of messages
- We're finalizing our backpack gathering for Longfellow Middle School - if you have backpacks and supplies please get them to us, we're planning to take them over in the next few days
- Our Youth Pastor Selma Nunes is sponsoring a work weekend in September when youth can serve for a weekend and have a great time doing it. The cost is $25 to cover gas and it's a great event. Talk to Selma if you know someone who may be interested
- Small groups are getting started! Talk to Emily, Dwaine or E to plug in, this is an amazing opportunity and you'll want to be a part of it
- Folks from the band recorded the song, "The Surge" that you heard this morning and that will be available to everyone who wants it in coming weeks
- We're continuing our "Mystery Train" series next week, with the Divine Mystery of Marriage
- Remember that if you're new, to fill out a connection card live or online... and if you're looking to get involved you can do that with an online form here
- We still have offering boxes in the back of the room... we love you a lot more than your money (truly)... but we do have bills and expenses and God will honor your generosity
That's it! Thanks everyone!
A species of writer’s block perched on my shoulder for recent weeks.
It nattered, “You make a fine sermon to the choir. But have you noticed that many people just don’t care? Some people regard your supposed insights as an assault. And you need a haircut.”
At the barbershop, I recalled the ebb and flow of a long-ago conversation....
I was driving the team back from a University competition. In the darkness behind me, a sophomore confidently pronounced, “Of course, there are no absolutes.”
I observed, “That sentence, ‘there are no absolutes,’ itself is an absolute.”
“Ah, ok,“ he amended. “Ok, there is one absolute, and that is, there are no other absolutes!”
The other students in the van pounced on this clumsier claim. They were mostly engineers. Of course they sided for absolutes in mathematics and science. Everywhere, said one, the sum of the squares of the shorter sides of a right triangle equals the square of the longer side. Yeah, said another, except in the land of Oz.
People do believe that great unyielding truths exist. The problem is that, having faced a tangle of mistakes and deceptions, many people have given up the hard work of finding the truth, or even the most reliable explanation. They are skeptical if not scornful of someone who claims outside the hard sciences to have captured a real live truth.
A weighty question arose: Is it not a truth, that there’s more than one way to skin a cat?
For several miles the engineers tried to count the ways: Knives of course. Compressed air. Explosives. Ultrasound. Centrifuge. Liquid nitrogen. One boy recommended marketing. What, marketing? we all exclaimed. He said, “Just tell the cat, all the cool cats are being skinned, you should be too.” I loved those outside-the-box thinkers.
When we move from mathematics and physics to how to scramble eggs, people see around them lots of ways to reach any given goal. This is often what people mean when they say, there are no absolutes: they mean there is no one best way.
“There's more than one way” becomes a tested truth, a primary truth. If someone claims a unique path, that claimant obviously is blind to the facts of life; at least naive, if not a crackpot.
As we bumped over the potholed Bagnell Dam Bridge, I asked whether the methods used to make the bridge made any difference, so long as the bridge worked. One student replied, “Sure. Whatever.”
Some people simply shrug off talk about what God has done with the constant drizzle of other advertising. They carry an umbrella called, “Whatever.”
But one engineer would not let that apathy pass. He excitedly admonished, A bridge might look ok now, but it could fall! You can't tell by looking! You can’t see inside the concrete! You’ve gotta use good materials from the beginning! You’ve gotta use good methods! You’ve gotta check each part as it goes in!
This is the engineer I want for my bridge, for my pacemaker, for my society.
I stopped the van at a McDonald’s. One of the students discovered a Christian tract at his table. He said, “I hate it when people try to convert me. It’s like I am some country to be conquered.”
These words stuck with me. His intractability was not about truth or falseness. It was about power.
Similarly, a few weeks ago a person requested my help but then said, “Wait. I don’t want this if you are trying to convert me.”
As many of you know, I do not wear a “God’s Gym” t-shirt or other assertive marks. I had said only, “How can I help?” I don't smell godly. Indeed, conversion has never been a primary motive for me. That's not necessarily a good thing, but it's a fact. I would welcome a response, “Oh, thanks! By the way, what must I do to be saved?” But I’ve never been this-for-that in giving. I give freely, because I have received freely.
So I said, “No strings attached! God has been good to me.”
I don't want to get praise that should go to God. Jesus is quite clear about this. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” But I haven't found a guaranteed way to direct praise to God.
In this case, mentioning God provoked a storm. “You are trying to convert me! Don’t talk to me about God!”
So this wimpy unintentional evangelist retreated. I plead, “OK, look at it this way. This is the right thing to do.”
"Hmf. Ok, just as long as you're not trying to convert me."
I would have counted this a weird incident, but I've found other people throw up such barricades at the teeniest hint of God-talk. Please use the comments below to tell me if this is a trend you've seen, or if this is just me. How might I do better?
Granted, people have reasons to expect from Christians manipulation and exploitation. Y’know, the Crusades, the Hundred Years War, Indian reservations, televangelists. Christian authors promote friendship evangelism, lifestyle evangelism, and worship evangelism. I know a youth worker who dreams of making a YouTube video that will go viral. We should not be surprised that people view Christians as using friendship, benevolence, and entertainment to gain some kind of dominance. Who wants to be a scalp on some congregation’s wall, a notch on someone's gospel gun?
Again, the touchiness is rarely about truth, but about power. Many people hold as dearest their ability to chose. Some pundits call this a post modern attitude. However, the worship of choice has been around a long time and holds genuinely heroic honors. Prisoners of war, when all property and freedom has been stripped from them, have clung to this one point of control. “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” wrote concentration camp survivor Viktor E. Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning.
I have discovered that people are willing to hear an interesting story. They don't want my viewpoints, they don't want my conclusions, they don't want my judgments, but they will hear a story. Whatever conclusions they draw, these will be their conclusions, conclusions they own.
The last of the students returned to his dormitory, I drove the van back to the University lot. The team had performed well on the field. We had another trophy for the school.
Did I mention this was a collegiate computer programming team?
My arrival disturbed a mockingbird. It ran through a few other birds’ calls before croaking its own harsh remonstrance.
If you're just tuning in... welcome!
If not... welcome back :)
Continuing our Stories of Sifted post series... where we were exploring a series on leadership and character through a creative meditation on biblical leaders, from the first person point of view.
Yes, I'm still nervous about that, even though it is very much fait accompli at this point.
I'm called by God. I know that more than I know anything.
I've been mentored by some of the best leaders of my generation.
I've had early success; God has blessed my efforts and the people I've gotten to lead.
I'm restless. I'm ready. I want to act. The door allowing me to step out hasn't opened.
How long do I have to wait?
That question has haunted my life. I believe that God is powerful. I believe that God can do whatever He wants. I believe that His purposes are good and that He can accomplish anything.
I don't always believe in this group of people around me. They are fickle, faithless and afraid. They are also amazing, bold and full of life and love. I don't know how they can be both at the same time, but somehow they are.
From the golden calf to the constant complaining, this generation would actually prefer to wander in the desert, eating scraps from God's table instead of feasting at the banquet He has prepared. We are capable of so much more, if I could just get them to see it.
He is capable of so much more, if I could just get them to believe.
Caleb shares my frustration and has little patience for this foolishness. He's often asked why God doesn't leave us and start over. I don't have a good answer for that one.
When we returned from our initial reconnaissance, the path forward was clear. This was the land God had promised to Abraham and to us. Either God's Word is good, or it isn't. Why are we still talking about this years later?
I know God loves Israel, and we are His own. His power has parted the seas, and His provision has kept us alive. I just wonder if anything will ever really change. What will they need to see or experience before they know that God is who He claims to be? If only they could know Him like Moses and I do, if they could experience His presence around the ark, if only they could hear His voice, things would be so different.
I am grateful for His provision. We are fed by bread from heaven and would die without it, but I secretly long for the day when He leads us to feed ourselves. We're training to that end, Caleb and I. Focusing on the children and the younger men, we're teaching them to run and to fight. We're teaching them moving formations and how to operate together as a team. We're also teaching them to pray and believe. They're tough and motivated. Honestly I'm glad they're on my side. Not everyone sees them like I do. Maybe we can go ahead and bring the others along later. I honestly don't know what God is waiting on. With His power, we're as ready as we ever will be.
How long do I have to wait?
Like our nation, I know that I personally am capable of more than I'm currently doing. I would never dishonor my teacher and mentor, but I feel like God has called me to more, and I'm weary of what seems a pointless journey. Men are blessed through my insight and organization. They are capable of doing and being even more than they see in themselves. I see their potential through God's eyes, and I can help push them to be even more than they ever imagined.
When will I get my chance to move? When will I get to be in a role that makes the most of God's plan for my life? When will the waters part for me and deliver me to His best?
Moses is fond of saying that if you pray for patience, God will make you wait for it. I suppose that's true enough. I know my heart is in line with His heart. I want what He wants more than my next breath.
I'm just tired of waiting. God's timing is mysterious and hard for me to understand.
"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will be prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord Your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:8-9).
Good morning Surgeons!
We are continuing our Blue Collar series, today is God the Alarm Clock...
Our special is The River of Dreams, with Billy Joel (Emily may still fly out over the crowd)
Selma (our new Youth Pastor) is taking a group of Students of Falls Church High School (30 of them) to Lake Champion for a Young Life camp. Please pray for the leaders - especially for energy and wisdom as well as an opportunity for the students to hear the gospel and accept Christ.
Backpacks! We're putting together 30 backpacks for Longfellow Middle School, and our current count is up to 24! If you want to help a family in our area, this is a great way we can express some love to folks who need it. Contact Dwaine or E and they'll get you connected.
Connection Card: fill these out if you are new or have a prayer request...
Offering - thank you for continued support! Boxes are in the back.
Next Saturday night, the 18th, we have a SAW concert... will be a great event. The Barn, 7pm. Check facebook for a flyer on the event. Bring a friend - bring two threes, but no more than 3 to a night of music, laughter, fun and dessert.
We're continuing our Blue Collar series next week with God the Bartender... the rumor that we're opening up the bars for that Sunday is completely not true. It's JUST a rumor.
I've always thought of mission work as a destination - a week (sometimes more) set aside during the year devoted to traveling to some needy area, rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty, all in the name of the Lord. And that's a definition of it, to be sure. But as I'm preparing to spend next week in McDowell County, West Virginia with a wonderful sister in Christ to do exactly that, I think God is gently slapping me in the face. He's showing me that mission work is a lifestyle, not a week-long trip.
How, though, can a "mission" be a part of everyday life? The actual term "mission" implies something with a beginning and end, something that you begin, get through, and finish smoothly. It's another check on a to-do list, or at least that's how I've always liked to think of it. I'm definitely a to-do list kind of person.
But I don't believe that the Christian mission can be on a checklist. Jesus ends the book of Matthew with the Great Commission, saying that we should "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." So why can't that be fit in a week long trip? Because Jesus follows that with, "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." He gives us a bit of a time frame now - we can't just check off mission work because it's continual. He tells us to do that always because he's with us always, until the end of the age. The Lord is calling us to leave our comfort zone, roll up our sleeves, and serve Him, all the time.
I once heard a great sermon on this subject. The speaker told us wide-eyed college students that what we consider to be the means - loving God and loving others (which is the purpose of a mission trip, yes?) - God considers to be the end. Sometimes we love Him and love people because we want to save the world with Him. But the speaker is saying that we don't need to have that goal of saving the world - God does that. We just love Him and love people - that's our goal.
And I think that can be a lifestyle to carry, whether we're in West Virginia, West Africa, or West Falls Church.
If you're new here... welcome!
We're continuing our Blue Collar series, today's message is called, God the Dad.
Our special is I Won't Grow Up, from the Broadway Musical "Peter Pan"... and I'm hoping Emily will fly out over the room - we'll see how that goes.
Please remember we have offering boxes in the back of our service and we're dependant on your generosity to fund our mission here at the Surge. If you're visiting, let the service be our gift to you.
If you're a songwriter or performer, SAW is running a songwriting workshop on the second Saturdays at the Barn, where experienced artists will review your song and offer suggestions. That starts at 4pm... followed by an open mic beginning at 7pm.
Our third Saturday concerts are still alive and well! Saturday, August 18th, will see a pair of musical trios with fantastic music, dessert, coffee, laughter and a lovely evening. Bring a friend, you won't regret it. If you have any questions about what's going on, we're putting all of our events online in our calendar. It's under the Home tab > Calendar of Events.
We are providing Longfellow Middle School kids with backpacks again this year. This is a wonderful opportunity to love on some families in our area. If you have any questions about that, ask Dwaine or E and they can get you connected.
We're continuing our Blue Collar series next week, with a message called God the Alarm Clock. Sleeping during the first part of this message will actually be encouraged :)
That's it - have a great week!
Our latest addition to the Surge team, Selma Nunes sent this out a couple of days ago... it is a welcome from a church that "gets it."
It was inspiring, and very much worth sharing - so here you go! Blog site with photo a link here:
How to welcome people to your church:
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.
We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.
If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!
Cue the applause - and thanks Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church for having a welcome that reflects the heart of God as well as this.
Thanks to Selma for sharing!
At The Surge we love doing things together... that includes writing a blog! Here are a few of our main contributing authors:
Our fearless leader, Dwaine is the lead pastor at The Surge. His experience in counter terrorism with the CIA prepared him for ministry and he likes dogs and babies even more than E does.
E (short for Eric Reiss) is the Wingman at The Surge and likes dogs, music, Mexican food, his wife Karen and his little girl Evangeline... not necessarily in that order.