Hola Surgeons, hope you are doing great.
We're continuing our Free message series this weekend, with a bit on "Staying Dead." It will involve a dog, a declaration, a decision and a devotion... it's going to be fun!
Our special music is Skyfall, performed by Adele for the latest Bond film.
Please keep us in prayer as we strive to be the church God wants us to be!
Small groups will be coming back after our summer break, starting up again the week after Sept 8th. Grab Emily, or Dwaine or E for more information!
We also will be starting a Youth service, concurrent to the message here in coming weeks. Talk to Selma Nunes if you would like to help out, or have a teen who wants to come!
Tomorrow is Labor Day, so no working! Enjoy some time with family and friends and let the day be filled with relaxation and blessing!
We'll pick up next week with the thunderous conclusion to FREE - with a message entitled Lawless. Bring a friend!
The cramped office for a dozen teaching assistants as usual buzzed with a debate. Then one our colleagues sailed in and announced, “Hey, everyone! SIGOPS accepted my paper!”
This was a big deal. “Way to go!” “Congratulations!” “Excellentness!” “Autograph!”
The applause died down. Grinning evilly, one of the crowd inquired:
“If you’re so smart,” he asked, “Why aren’t you rich?”
Minutes before, we had been chatting how two of our former students were running a multi-million software corporation. Meanwhile, we their teachers competed for the office coffee plate so we could heat our ramen and Chef Boyardee.
From this smart/rich snark a tradition was born.
People looked forward to playing the target role. The target would dramatically announce an accomplishment: “Hey,everyone! I aced Springer’s midterm!”
Those nearest the celebrant would begin: “IF YOU'RE SO SMART...”
Then everyone would chorus: “WHY AREN’T YOU RICH?”
In the classroom, Dr. Blackwell asked for a volunteer to complete a proof. Reaching a quick QED the presenting student wheeled, fixed us with a grin, and prompted, “If I’m so smart?” Several reflexively responded, “WHY AREN'T YOU RICH?” Later, we explained things to the puzzled professor, and he had a hearty laugh.
Perhaps you have had similar perspective-broadening questions. For example, I hope from studies and sermons, from reading and reflection, from prayer and practice that I gain wisdom. If I were wise, I'd avoid troubles. But I have not avoided troubles! So why bother with studies, prayer, etc., etc.? Maybe I should save myself work and frustration, per this parental advice:
Homer: Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try.
Bart (growling): ahmmm.
Homer: No matter how good you are at something, there's always about a million people better than you.
Bart: Gotcha. Can't win, don't try.
Homer and Bart aside, people don't always fail. Even if you are not number one, you may get adequate compensation for your work. Even schoolwork is not a waste of time if you dream, as Bart and most boys do sooner or later, of a career in professional sports. I have cruelly mentioned to middle-schoolers that NFL rules require that pro football players must be college graduates. I can count on the boys going slack-jawed and moaning a bit. That's the sound of a broken heart. I've gone on to observe that not every seed grows, but if you don't plant, you get zip, nada, nothing. Don't try, you die.
"All those who compete in the games use self-control so they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time, but our crown will never be destroyed. So I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something— not just the air." (Paul, 1 Corinthians 9)
If I myself do not expect riches or fame from my study, what is my purpose as an occasional Bible school teacher of the Surge Community Church?
Some Christian education packages relentlessly challenge the kids to accept Christ. My aim is less hard-sell. I aim with each meeting to increment each kid’s reasons to trust Jesus.
Thus, for much of the last year we viewed short segments of the Matthew DVD. The words in this are just the words of the gospel of Matthew. Within that constraint, actor Bruce Marchiano portrays Jesus as someone who genuinely enjoys being here! What do you know, Jesus likes people!
We supplemented Matthew with The Gospel of John DVD. This summer we enjoyed The Book of Acts, part of the same series, supplemented with short bits from the new, well-produced, but violent miniseries The Bible.
As we began each Sunday, usually we reviewed. Jesus came. He helped people. He showed us what God wants. He died. He rose. He is alive!
With Acts, the review continues: Why do we think that Jesus is not fiction like Harry Potter or Iron Man, but real? Because Jesus’ students and friends gave all their time just to tell people that Jesus is alive. They got beat up to tell people that Jesus is alive. They even died because they wanted to tell people that Jesus is alive.
As we begin a lesson, I list the characters and what they do. Often I accept volunteers or assign roles for an impromptu melodrama. We view the video or read. Then, we re-enact what we saw or heard, perhaps reading lines from the Bible. For example with the Good Samaritan story, I had to assign the leading role of Good Sam. The kids wanted the more ham-worthy roles of those energetic robbers, the groaning victim, and the long-suffering donkey. It doesn't hurt that our acting troupe meets in the State Theater green room. In any case, participation builds engagement. Engagement builds memorable lessons.
When possible I first spotlight stories, then abstract a principle or two, and finally mention a word or phrase that tags these concepts. This sequence is backwards from traditional classroom lectures, but effective. Thus we can look at the boy who shared his bread and fish, then "freely you have received, freely give", talk about generosity, and talk about being generous in school and home. Some lessons have been on memorization, and I expect to return to that soon. Jenga, Twister, mazes, and word puzzles offer a change of pace in some lessons. Carrots, grapes, bread, and Gator Aid have fueled this work without I hope distracting from Sunday lunch.
Many have not yet committed to trust Jesus. Still, a secondary aim of each class is to identify and encourage godly attitudes and habits. This autumn we aim to explore several such virtues such as controlling the tongue. My hope is that basic virtues will help the kids survive to accept Christ! I aim for them to grow in wisdom, to merit respect, and to be a help and encouragement to others. I want the lesson idea to be portable if only via behavior, such as encouraging others rather than ridiculing others. As I point out to them, every day these kids reach and influence people I will never meet.
In associating with these kids, often I do not feel smart. But frequently I feel very, very rich.
Good morning Surgeons!
We're continuing our Free series this weekend, pursuing God's word about living life fully and with real freedom... with a message entitled, "Now You Know."
Our special music will be "It's Time" by Imagine Dragons.
Specials thanks again to all the folks who came out for the SAW concert, it was great to see you.
Next Saturday, our monthly Men's Breakfast will be celebrating with a feast of breakfast foods that would make Paul Bunyan blush a bit.
Check your email or the Surge website for our charity event for the summer, we're asking members of the Surge to consider supporting a local charity called Our Daily Bread. Their website is odbfairfax.org.
We'll continue Free next week, E Reiss will bring a message on Staying Dead - he promises to not bring an actual body as a prop.
Have a great week!
Shepherding Part I:
It's almost always best to start with the literal.
At least, if you're going for a laugh or two. So pull on your woolen chuckle hats and follow me!
THERE ARE FOUR BASIC SLICES OF SHEEP HUSBANDRY:
1) Range Band Flocks
This is the big one, with flocks of sizes numbering in the thousands. These will be be free range, or possibly in a fenced area, but covering a huge stretch of land. With this many sheep in play, you'll have multiple full time shepherds, in many cases living with the sheep day to day. And because of grazing practices, they cover a lot of ground, so sheepdogs and traveling from prairie to prairie using horses or motor vehicles will be needed. Although, getting a sheep to ride a horse through the moutainous regions of Chile or the Brindabella Australian Range is tougher than you think... and even in more modern locales, your Hoggets (teenage sheep of both sexes) will have trouble learning to use a clutch.
2) Farm Flocks
A little smaller, these will be the more contained and managed sheep populations... seen throughout Great Britain and New Zealand these are the sheepsters found on more confined, fenced pasture land. You'll need to supplement your sheep menu with additional food and incredibly dry humor, but you can get there.
3) Purebred Flocks
Stud sheep. Yes, insert the laugh track <here>. But I've herd that all manner of wooly animals will flock to an alpha sheep if you let them. Breeders will seek to raise strong icons of sheep pulchritude to genetically bless future flocks with their strength and good manners. Extras here will go to 4-H for showing and eventually to a Greek restaurant, where something vague, sad and delicious happens.
4) Hobbyist Flocks
Suppose you want to get into handspinning, but don't want to buy yarn online. Well then, a hobbyist sheep flock is for you! You can grow your own yarn on the cuddly back of your small little yarn factory for the low, low price... of a 4-H lamb that doesn't want anything to do with a freshly baked pita and feta cheese.
Shepherding Part II:
I'm a fan of the show Firefly and of the movie Serenity and of the creativity of Whedon in general.
I recently picked up, "The Shepherd's Tale" from the the graphic novel Serenity Series... story by Josh and Zack Whedon. The artwork above is from the graphic novel cover. It gives us a sequence of events, artfully done in reverse order, that allows us to piece together the story of Shepherd. Filling in the back story of the enigmatic preacher who intersects the crew of Serenity and becomes a key piece of the loveliness of the whole.
The story is a good one, answering enough questions to be satisfactory... while remaining open enough to let us dream and let our imaginations run a bit.
At one point in Firefly, Kaylee asks Shepherd why he doesn't care about the destination of Firefly, and Book answers, "because the journey is the worthier part." That's a good line... and one central to the character of Shepherd.
And in a particularly poignant sequence, Shepherd recites the famous prayer of Francis... bound up in opposites and paradox and love:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Words added to Shepherd's story by a confirmed atheist. But an atheist I think that sees the beauty in the life Shepherd is choosing to lead and in some small part assenting to that choice as honorable.
Someone recently compared me to Firefly's Shepherd and I was muted by the depth of the compliment. I'm definitely not a worthy filler of those shoes. But I would like to be.
Lord, make me that kind of instrument, and place me on whatever ship You will.
Shepherding Part III:
I grew up as part of a family that raised cattle. Not sheep.
But to get cattle from one place to another is surprisingly simple. You stand behind them and yell at them. You wave your arms and make obnoxious noises and they will head out in a direction that is not toward you. Even a single experienced rancher can move an entire herd of cattle the direction he wants them to go. Just jump and yell and you will drive them on.
No so with sheep.
If you run waving your arms and yelling at a flock of sheep they will scatter in every vector imaginable. They'll try to get away... or they'll lay down and hyperventilate in unmoving terror. Or they'll bump into each other and become even more agitated. Or they'll run in ridiculous sheep circles.
But they won't go where you want them to. Ever.
You have to lead them.
Sheep have an interesting relationship with Shepherds. They trust them. They follow. They look to them when they're hurt or hungry or wounded. You have to be gentle. You have to use your sheep voice. They love to be touched and rubbed. They love still water. They love to be scratched when the wool is growing in again.
And they know that the Shepherd will protect them when the wolves come to call.
Shepherding Part IV:
It seems to me that the Range Flocks of thousands and the Hobby Flocks of one all have something in common.
Shepherds and Sheep just kind of love each other.
You can see it at the Fair, when Sally brings in her lamb for show and proudly hangs the blue ribbon on his neck. You can see it in the eyes of the Australian shepherds as they care for their little ones. You can even see it in the more sophisticated sheep, as they ride their horses and dunebuggies through mountain passes in search of better prairie.
You can see it in fiction, as Shepherd Book declares himself in charge of caring deeply for his ragged band of pirates.
And you can see it in a handful of people around us, who think it is a good idea to give their time and money and lives to help those who may need it. A thousand thousand unsung acts of kindness, shepherding love to a safe place the heart can eventually call home.
It might be a listening ear, a hot meal, a bit of good counsel or someone to carry a couch. It might be a ride, a few bucks or a message filled with love and genuine desire to bless and inspire. It might be a well placed silence, that rare moment when the wisest message is the slow not speaking at all. It might be a hug, or a trip to the movies, a letter or a simple touch on the shoulder.
It might even be a prayer, filled with love and heard by no one but a Good Shepherd Who, after all these many years, still looks after a flock who needs Him deeply.
All of us, everyone, are sometimes sheep and sometimes shepherds. That is as it should be. To my sheep / shepherd readers, I leave you with this:
Raise your staff and wool. Lead and follow well. It means more than you think.
Good morning all!
We're kicking off our Free series this week, with a message entitled, "It's Worse than You Think."
Special music this morning is "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones.
A wonderful time was had at the SAW event last night, with Trout and Tucker doing their debut performance and many originals were sung in front of people for the first time... thanks for coming out, it was great to see you. Emily and Sam and Dwaine were amazing...
Monthly Men's Breakfast will be held on Aug 31st at 8:18 am, please join us if you're free.
Instead of backpacks this year, we're asking folks to consider giving to Our Daily Bread. They are a great local charity doing some good work and are definitely worthy of your support.
What will happen next week? Will there be fun music and prayer? A great message and snacks? Will Emily Lawyer and Robin melt down in a vat of acid? Join us next week, same bat time, same bat channel to find out!
Good morning Surgeons!
Hope you are having a great week and weekend... we're wrapping our Practical message series this Sunday and hope to see you @ the State Theatre around 11am.
Special music will be "There Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" by Cage the Elephant.
Next Saturday, we're sponsoring our monthly SAW concert and E, Sam and Emily will be opening the night at 7pm, so we hope you'll join us. It will be a fun evening and there will be a song about GREEN BEANS. You won't want to miss it.
Please keep the Surge in your prayers, big things are coming and we want to stay centered on being exactly where God wants us to be.
Emily's book, "Enough Already" was featured on a national church planting website this week... which is just, very cool. If you want to check it out, hit thesurge.cc, then look under > media > resources. It's a great read, will take about an hour and only costs $900. I mean free, completely free and no charge!
Next week we're launching a new series entitled Free... and we'll talk about how real spiritual life isn't just about following a bunch of rules.
See you soon!
“Bu yao,” she murmured again.
My friends had an emergency and asked me, with my survival-level Chinese language skills, to entertain their parents who had just arrived from Shanghai. So we went to the nearby shopping mall. The older couple delighted in examining store goods and chortling, “Ha! Na li?” meaning, Ha! Where is this from?
Of course they knew where it was from. In this ritual, my role was to scratch my ear and ask wide-eyed, “Lai dao, uhh, Zhonguo ma?” Does it perhaps come from, uhh, China?
At noon I walked them around the food court to select lunch. I asked, “Xiang chir shenmeh?” Wish to eat something? They shook their heads, “Mei shenmeh.” Nothing. I pointed at the Italian food counter, “Yao bu yao chir zhigeh mien?” Do you want to eat these noodles? They shook their heads and replied, “Xie xie, bu yao.” Thanks, not want. We strolled by the sweet & sour chicken stall. “Yao bu yao ji ro?” “Xie xie, bu yao.”
I turned to the taco stand, “Yao bu yao?” Grandpa responded enthusiastically, “Yao! Chir zhigeh!” I want it! Let’s eat this!
But Grandma again shook her head, “Bu yao.” I figured she was fighting jet lag, or didn’t want American fast food, or for some other reason wasn’t hungry. So Grandpa and I ate tacos.
When we returned home, Grandma marched us in and vented to her daughter more quickly than I could follow. As was later explained to me, Grandma had this complaint. “We had a great time. At lunch we were hungry. Ge Rei-Ge asked us to eat. Of course we politely refused. I know Americans mean well. But they don’t understand politeness. But your father, he should know better. Instead of waiting to be asked five times, he gave in at just three!”
I ask this question: God, what do you want?
How many times must I ask?
I previously noted several quotes from the older part of the Bible that summarized in just one or two sentences—even in just three words—what God wants. How could he be clearer? For example:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
- Micah 6:8
Later, Jesus prioritized from the 613 commandments just two:
“Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus answered, “The most important is,
‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
And you shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart and
with all your soul and
with all your mind and
with all your strength.’
The second is this:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
-- Mark 12
If we look in the New Testament for phrases equivalent to "God wants...", there are just a handful to quote.
God, what do you want?
The Lord is not slow in doing what he promised--
the way some people understand slowness.
But God is being patient with you.
He does not want anyone to be lost,
but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives.
- 2 Peter 3
This is good,
and it pleases God our Savior,
who wants all people to be saved and to know the truth.
- 1 Timothy 2
God, what do you want?
So do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do.
Do not be drunk with wine, which will ruin you,
but be filled with the Spirit.
Speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord.
Always give thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Submit to each other as you would to Christ.
- Ephesians 5
God, what do you want?
God wants you to be holy
and to stay away from sexual sins.
He wants each of you to learn to control your own body
in a way that is holy and honorable.
Don’t use your body for sexual sin like the people who do not know God.
Also, do not wrong or cheat another Christian in this way.
- 1 Thessalonians 4
God, what do you want?
It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong if that is what God wants. …
So those who suffer as God wants
should trust their souls to the faithful Creator
as they continue to do what is right.
- 1 Peter 3-4
God, what do you want?
So do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do....
Submit to each other as you would to Christ.
- Ephesians 5
It is God’s desire that by doing good
you should stop foolish people from saying stupid things about you.
Live as free people,
but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.
Live as servants of God.
Show respect for all people:
Love the brothers and sisters of God’s family,
honor the king.
- 1 Peter 2
I thank John MacArthur for observing memorably that these verses
say that God wants me to be:
Saved... Spirit-Filled... Sanctified... Suffering (for good)... and Submitted.
There are plenty of examples of people doing what God wants, notably:
And when Jesus was baptized, ... a voice from heaven said,
“This is my beloved Son,
with whom I am well pleased.”
- Matthew 3
Consider a kid at the dinner table who announces, "I'm ready for desert!"
What does Mom reply? "Have you finished your lima beans? They're good for you!"
I similarly announce urgently, "God, I am ready to receive your specific will for me. Yum! Bring it on!" More can be said about guidance and wisdom, and whether I am trusting or presumptuous to expect explicit individual direction. But the first response must be a question of what is important:
Why should God give me more insight into what he wants
if I am not doing
what he already said he wants?
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.