Archive for the Life Category

.::An Earthquake! . . . Really !?!?!?!

Posted in church, Life, Teaching, Theology on April 9, 2012 by Walter

Yesterday at Easter services we were looking at the resurrection story in Matthew 28 when I noticed something really interesting.  Look at the first few verses.  

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Put yourself in the shoes of Mary and Mary.  That morning they are still in mourning over the loss of Jesus.  They are on their way to continue their mourning as they go to visit the tomb.  Perhaps to stil, to contemplate, to wonder, to lament, to begin to work through their anger, loss and betrayal.

Their pain is still fresh.  “He said he’d rise”

Their heart still aches. “I trusted him.”

The sting of death is still fresh. “He lost”

Their dreams are sufficiently dashed. “I left everything to follow him.”

Hope is extinguished. Now what am I supposed to do?!?

When it feels like things can’t get any worse, an earthquake hits.

Really !?!?!

It is as if the gods were mocking them with the first earthquake during the crucifixion there is another earthquake similarly mocking them in their misery.

I have always glossed over this part of the passion story.  Perhaps because it is so close to the empty tomb and I know things are just about to get better.  But can you even imagine what must have been going through their minds as the earth shook again?

“Why?” must have been echoing through their hearts.  Tears must have being to flow again mixing with the hundreds of others that have drenched their garments the past two days.

BUT. . .

Then the lightning came…the angel appeared…and the words that changed everything for them come,  “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

HE

HAS

RISEN!

The pain turns to joy

The heart ache is transformed into love

Death is swallowed in victory.

The dream is ignited

Hope blooms.

So where are you in the Resurrection story?

Are you still at the foot of the Cross wondering what has happened?

Have you let yourself still live in the confusion and lonliness of Saturday?

Are you one the way back to the tomb to mourn the loss?

OR

Has He Risen for you?

.::Last Day for Early Registration for 3 Stories of YM

Posted in Life, Ministry, story, Theology, youth ministry on February 1, 2012 by Walter

Today is the last day to get the early registration rate for Lipscomb’s “Three Stories of Youth Ministry” event being held, Thursday, March 1 from 9:00-4:00.  We already have over 60 people registered from seven different states who will be here.

This is going to be a day where you come away with tools that will help you teach the Bible better, know yourself better, and lead your ministry better.

Remember you get one FREE registration for every three people from the same ministry!

A continental breakfast and lunch is included in your registration fee.

There ARE scholarships available, just e-mail walter.surdacki@lipscomb.edu for information.

You will not regret making the time to be here.

CLICK HERE FOR REGISTRATION INFO:  http://www.lipscomb.edu/Bible/YM-Three-Stories-2012

.::”The gospels are a poor representation of Jesus.”

Posted in Life, Teaching, Theology on January 31, 2012 by Walter

Tonight in my life group a good friend of mine said something really interesting and true, “The gospels are a poor representation of who Jesus was.”

Hear me out before you call me a heretic.

I think and believe the gospels are the best thing we have to understand who Jesus is and was. They are amazing, unequivocal works with nothing as their equal.

But.

They still fall short of who Jesus really was. Because they are limited by word, diction, interpretation, culture, history, and understanding.  I get that the word, “poor” is probably not an adequate representation of what I am trying to say.

Yes we see more about God through the story, teaching, insight and character of Christ in the gospels than perhaps anywhere else.

Don’t hear me saying that they are inadequate source for those wanting to know the risen Christ.  I believe quite the opposite.  The gospels are out BEST source to understand who Jesus is.  What I am trying to say is the even though there is a limitation of language, interpretation, culture, etc.  IMAGINE just how much of Jesus the gospels can’t show us?

Imagine how much greater Jesus is than what we can read from the gospels? 

How much more of the persona, character and nature of Jesus was not able to be reflected in the gospels?

Again, don’t hear me saying that the gospels are in any way flawed or weak, I am trying to point to how much more Jesus is than what we can read of him in the gospels.  I imagine a much bigger view of Jesus and his divinity.  I come away from this exerise with a BIGGER view of Jesus.

Let’s look at this from another angle…Every technology has its limitations.  For example, when I am traveling and I have to be away from my family, I have several different technologies I can use to keep in touch with them.  I can use letters, text messages, phone conversations or Facetime.  Now I prefer texts over letters because of their speed.  I prefer calls over texts because I can hear inflection and context better.  I far prefer Facetime over phone calls because I get the added dimension of the visual to our conversations.  BUT I can’t hug my screen when using Facetime.  It is a limited technology.

Each of these technologies can and have helped me maintain my relationship with my family.  I get to know more about my wife and daughters through these technologies as different parts of their personalities come out through each of the different mediums.  They all teach me something about my family memebers in their own way.

BUT none of them come close to being face to face with them, hugging them, smelling them, feeling their presence.  This is what I prefer.  This is what I look forward to when I am away from them.  This is what I long for when I am separated from them.

This is what I can’t wait to experience in the Kingdom that is yet to come. When I can be face to face with Jesus.

I do thank the gospel writers and the Holy Spirit and the early church Fathers who show me more about Jesus than I could ever have of imagined.

.::Discovery as Faith Journey

Posted in adolescence, church, Life, Ministry, Teaching, Theology, youth ministry with tags , , , , , , on January 25, 2012 by Walter


“People are better persuaded by the reasons they themselves discover than by those which have come into the mind of others.”

–Blaise Pascal

I came across this quote during a class on mediation I am taking this semester.  The goal of mediation it to help two parties who are in conflict come to a decision or solution on their own terms as opposed to having a third party make the decision for them.  In other words, a mediator is there to help them discover information rather the tell them what they need to know.  This got me thinking about how youth ministers and parents can become more of trail guides for teens and less of indoctrinators?

Again, this is an integral part of the adolescent process where students need to know that their choices matter.  Discovery for a teen gives them and their lives meaning.  You have heard the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water . . . but you can’t make them drink.”  As we work with teens we do need to give them tools and opportunities to discover for themselves.  Truth be told, I much prefer to tell teens what I think they need to hear rather than give them the freedom to discover truth for themselves . . . after all aren’t I the expert?(sarcasm)

I think this concept has several applications in the way we might do ministry:

  • Let students have substantive opportunities to learn Truth for themselves:  ALL of the best research out there* that is asking why young adults leave church or what keeps teens in the faith point to the fact of whether or not they had a safe environment to express doubt.  Do our ministries provide sanctuary where teens are allowed to express doubt and differing opinions on faith, God’s existence, sex, social justice, poverty, homosexuality, and other dangerous topics?  Another way of asking this question is to answer, “What are the topics that are ‘off limits’ in our church?”–Let’s talk about those. . . not to be controversial, but to give voice to those issues that are probably on the hearts and minds of our young people.
  • Do students leave our teaching with more Answers or more Questions?  I believe a good education gives you the tools to ask more and better questions rather than simply delivering the answer.  “The Bible says is, I believe it, That settles it.”  Is an attitude we may need to depart from in order to give our students the space and ability to ask difficult questions of faith, religion, the Biblical text, and more.  What kinds of tools are we giving our students that allow them to investigate and journey in their faith that will guide them to answers as opposed to spoon-feeding them with answers?
  • Can we say “I don’t know”?  Is our own faith as leaders big enough to have the confidence to appropriately express our own doubts and still allow God to reign?  Do we have to have an answer for everyquestion that comes up or can we simply say, “I don’t know.”  I am not professing allegiance to a blind, uninformed faith.  Rather, I think being able to say, “I don’t have every answer, but I am still searching” is far more authentic and communicates Truth better than a weakly formed, proof-texted apologetic.  Look at Paul’s own struggles with doubt in Romans 7.  Surely, if Paul is wrestling with these issues at the end of his ministry, surely we have the freedom (or necessity) to have our own doubts?

Those are just a few ideas…any others?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section…

*For more see Sticky Faith by Kara Powell, Soul Searching by Christian Smith, You Lost Me by Dave Kinnaman.

.::How Much Faith? vs. What Do They Have Their Faith In?

Posted in adolescence, church, Life, Ministry, Teaching, Theology, youth ministry on December 1, 2011 by Walter

Last week at Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention, Reggie Joiner got me thinking about this idea that I wanted to tease out a bit more.  There are two distinct ways of looking at the outcome of our youth ministries:

One is “How much faith do our students have when they graduate?”  The way many of our ministries measure this generally looks like this:

  • Did they graduate without getting drunk (too much)?
  • Are they still virgins?
  • Have they been immersed for the forgiveness of their sins in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
  • Did they go to camp, retreats, Wednesday night, etc. Enough?
  • Do they vote for the correct political party?

Now don’t hear me saying there things are unimportant.  What I am saying is that these things are not accurate measuring sticks for the success or failure of our youth ministry, parenting or church.

Unfortunately what happens with many of our students as some of the best research shows is that these measuring sticks for faithing only breed contempt and stress in our young people.

The other way to is to ask, “What do our students have their faith in when they graduate?”  Here are just a few of the ways that this might be measured:

  • Do we graduate students whose hearts beat for what God’s beat for?
  • Do they choose a college, job, career, city to live in, life choice based on what they have heard God tell them to do and not on a glossy slick promotional brochure?
  • Do we celebrate our student’s choice of a major that is dependent on a calling from God and not a calculated choice that is based on the level of income they expect to receive?
  • Have we created a culture where our students have been given space to voice doubt and witnessed other adults taking risk for the Kingdom of God?
  • Are they generous to a fault?
  • Would they stop and help the beaten up traveller on the side of the road?
  • Do they work on loving their enemies?
  • Are they dispensers of grace? And mercy?
  • When people describe them, do words like patient, humble, joy, peace, and kind come immediately to mind rather than successful, accomplished, good looking, etc.?
Think abou the ways we could really encourage this kind of development.  Instead of looking at outcome based methods, we are able to encourage and affirm deep, spiritual, holy developmental characteristics that are being formed with in them INSTEAD of creating arbitrary hoops for them to jump through in order to gain approval.

What might a student who has their faith in the right thing look like?  Chime in in the comments…

.::Life Is Good pt. II

Posted in church, disciplines, Life, Ministry, Teaching, Theology, youth ministry with tags , , on November 29, 2011 by Walter

Colossians 3:17 is one of my life verses. Its one of those verses that I try to live my life by. It is one of those verses that have camped out in my heart and I can’t seem to let it go. Paul teaches, “And Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:16).

As you can see this is one of the “Life is Good” verses. It describes a life that is really dialed in to the fact that Life is Good. I used to think that Col 3:17 was all about the little things. I used to teach that it was about brushing your teeth and taking out the trash. While Paul probably includes those daily mundane tasks in those activities, I think it is a much deeper passage than that. What Paul is really doing here is defining a lifestyle. He is cross-referencing his passage where he describes us as ambassadors of Christ. When one is truly in tune with the fact that God is the Creator and Sustainer of Life, Jesus is the Savior of All, and the Spirit is the Comforter of all our grief, one can do everything in the name of the Lord and do it with thanksgiving. That is an amazing lifestyle that God offers for all of us. It frees us from the tyranny of worry, grief, anger, jealousy, envy, hatred, etc. We no longer are slaves to those forces when we understand God is on control.

Paul is prescribing that we do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord. Yes it is the teeth brushing and the garbage taking, but it is also facing the plummeting GPA, the girlfriend who just broke up with you, the extra stress that your after school job is giving you, your SAT scores that can’t get you in to the school you want, the checkbook balance that reads red, it is that pinging noise coming from the engine compartment of the ailing mini-van, it’s the recently emptied cubicle next to you wondering if yours is next. It’s the late payment slips, struggling marriage, a torn relationship with your teen. But one living Colossians 3:17 looks at those things not as problems, but as God’s crazy, inexplicable, unintelligible at times, provision. Yes provision.

Colossians 3:17 is all about “Life is Good” living. It is realizing that while not everything is great, or easy, or fun, or without pain or problems, the overarching umbrella that God covers our lives with is GOOD. Yes there are struggles, but god is still GOOD. Yes there is pain, but God is still GOOD. No that may not help you right this very moment, but the more you are able to live out Colossians 3:17, the better life will be. The higher your lows will become. So take today and meditate on Colossians 3:17. Here are a few different translations to help you:

The Message
Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

New Living Translation
And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Amplified Bible
And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

.::Recruit a Lipscomb Student for Your Summer Internship

Posted in church, Life, Ministry, spiritual disciplines, Theology, youth ministry with tags , , , , on November 14, 2011 by Walter

Join us for the Lipscomb University

Youth Ministry Intern Recruiting Event.

Now is the time to register!  Student sign-ups begin soon.  As you register, an interview sheet will be available in our office.  Register now so your sign-up sheet will be available from the moment the rush to sign up begins.

REGISTRATION for this event is required.

Join us for a day of recruiting and fellowship on the LU campus.
This event will allow you to meet candidates interested in youth and children’s ministry internships.
Date: December 6th
Time: First interview begins at 1:30 p.m. The event will last until 4:30 p.m.
Where: Hall of Fame Room immediately following Youth Ministry luncheon with Steve Davidson


Event format is similar to “speed interviewing”. Before the 6th, students will sign up for interview slots with the churches that interest them. You will arrive on the 6th to an interview table for your congregation.  You will interview candidates during the 3 hour event.  Interview slots will be a standard 20 minutes with 5 minutes between so students can find the table for their interview during the following time slot.

CLICK HERE to register your church.

We’re proud of our students and look forward to working with you as you’re introduced to them!
The Career Development Staff