Archive for Life


Posted in church, Ministry, Theology, youth ministry with tags , , , , , , , on November 23, 2009 by Walter

Today there is a slight drizzle of rain outside my window, the temperature is in the 50s, just cold and wet enough to give a person the excuse to stay indoors wearing slippers and pondering some of the larger things of life.

This weekend I was privileged to take some Lipscomb students to Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention where we got exposed to some great ideas for youth ministry as well as personal spiritual development.  The highlight for me was Donald Miller calling us to live lives that are stories worth telling as well as living.  Miller contends that our lives (and faiths)  have been HIGHJACKED by the tiny, insignificant stories that dominate our culture.

  • small stories like a Roomba vacuum cleaner that promises life fulfillment as it meanders throughout your living room floor.
  • tiny stories like a dish washing soap that will fill your soul with joy and happiness as the bubbles miraculously scrub away grease and grime for you.
  • insignificant stories like a Volvo that will provide your life with meaning and purpose through its 47 air bags protecting you from harm’s way at every turn.

These stories have convinced us that God and His OMNIPOTENT grace and OVERWHELMING mercy aren’t relevant or accessible in our lives.  That these porduct can give us the experiences and relationship that give meaning to our lives when in reality they will only hollow out our souls leaving us empty shells.

So the call and the challenge for us in youth ministry is to provide our students with that story, that metanarrative the provides purpose, meaning, and HOPE that provides CONFLICT and the INCITING INCIDENTS that get us off our suburban butts and into the lives of those who Jesus calls us to serve and reach out to:  the orphaned, the homeless, the widowed, the disenfranchised.

This is a STORY that can incite REVOLUTION in an adolescent who is trying to find purpose and meaning in fashion, music, video games, movies, drugs, cutting, sex, gossip, or any other false god that they have let write their story.

This is a STORY that can motivate this generation of students to live with and without FEAR. With a reverent fear of an omnipotent God that calls us to be salt and light in this world balanced without a fear of living a life without meaning and purpose in order to distribute grace and mercy to lonely and invisible in their worlds.

This is a STORY that will allow teens to IGNORE the naysayers and creatively DISCOVER how to eradicate hunger, malaria, poverty, apathy in their world.


God, may we live big lives with big stories as you are a big God.






Posted in Life, Ministry, Theology with tags , , , , on May 25, 2009 by Walter

Over the past two weeks I have stumbled into live poetry readings.  When I was in Princeton, I walked into what I thought was the main chapel only to find their spring poetry festival where Nobel Prize winning poet, Seamus Haney was reciting some of his work.  Then a week or so later I was at a fundraiser where a few local artists also performed some of their poetry.  Now to set things straight, I have never been a “fan” of poetry outside of music, nor have I read any poetry not assigned to me by an evil high school teacher.  But, something happened to me at BOTH of those readings.

I was changed.

Something inside my soul was MOVED.

I heard these craftsmen/women express some of the deepest experiences of the human condition using only words.  They did something masterful as well.  They used some mundane everyday experiences to describe some deeply spiritual emotions.  They were able to stop and notice the Transcendant that exsists in the everyday . . . using only words.


. . . but not new.

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (The Universe was spoken into existence through–words.)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (All of humanity was saved through word.)

Yes, I have underestimated the power of words.  In a world where information is the most valuable currency, we are seeing that currency becomed quickly devalued through the explosion of words through endless websites, blogs, text messages, books, magazines, billboards, songs, commercials, etc. that are all spouting WORDS without any meaning, thought or significance.  (Perhaps this blog simply is contributing to the problem.)

My foray into the world of poetry reminded me how powerful, life-giving, soul-nourishing WORDS can be.  Forget the image.  Forget the power of 24 frames a second numbing my mind into slush.  Forget print image after print image.  Without the WORD, none of these ideas would ever have existed.

Perhaps what made these two experiences wasn’t the reading of poetry, but the live performance of that poetry.  The word being active, live–as it was expressed by the author. . . kind of like Genesis 1.

.::Random Ramblings

Posted in Life with tags , , on May 19, 2009 by Walter

Well I have been off the blog for a month.  I have had finals, a trip to Princeton for their Forum’s on Youth Ministry and then just a week and a half of self imposed Sabbath.  I do have a laundry list of topics that I want to write on in the upcoming weeks.  But for now, here are some random ramblings that I want to share with you:

  • There are two types of people, those who can hula hoop and those who can’t.  It looks like something everyone ought ot be able to do, but try as I may, I can’t.  .  .  bummer.
  • People got all up in arms about ASU and Notre Dame giving Obama an honorary doctorate, don’t they realize that an honorary doctorate has as much value as a coupon?  1/20th of a cent.
  • 24 went too far in its season finale.  There were more holes in its believability than a screen door.  Enter Jill Bauer (the redheaded lady) next season with Jack teaching her all of his torture moves.
  • The Red Wings are losing too many games for me on their way to winning this year’s Stanley Cup, the Lakers aren’t losing enough games and will just have to get out of the way for Sir James and the Cavs.
  • Nothing will come close to Star Trek this summer.
  • Pick up and read Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps ASAP.
  • What are you still reading for?  You should be buying Flickering Pixels like I just told you!
  • The new Green Day ROCKS!  But do they really need to still wear eyeliner?  Really!  Their music stands on their own and they don’t need their image to gain any attention.
  • To twitter or not to twitter?  I still don’t get it.  How much LESS does the tech world think we need to communicate as a species?  Nevertheless you can follow me @surdacki
  • Tennessee in Spring time is about as beautiful of a place to be.
  • I love mowing my yard and the feeling of accomplishment that it gives me.
  • I am really getting in to systems theory and how to relate all of that to Adolescent Development, Family Ministry, and the Church.
  • I love being a regular member at church this year, but I am itching to get more involved in my sophomore year.
  • We have a bunny that finds its way in our yard every once in a while.

.::Life is Good

Posted in Life, Ministry, Theology with tags , , on March 7, 2009 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.

Col 3:17 is describing, no 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.

Colossian 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.

.::Half Full

Posted in Life, Ministry with tags , , , on March 5, 2009 by Walter
One of my favorite shirts to wear is a“Life is Good” shirt that has a picture of a glass of milk with the phrase “Half Full” under it.  I realize that I have been given a critical spirit.  I tend to look at a picture perfect day and I am the one that can notice the cloud in the sky.  I want to be the person who sees the glass of life as “Half Full.”  After all, I live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  I have received a world-class education in theology and have a career that allows me to study about God for a living.  I have a wife that loves me much more than the day I met her and the feeling is reciprocal.  I have two healthy, beautiful daughters that have brought more joy to my life than I ever have thought possible.  And I have my health . . . good health, great health even.

When one really takes stock of their life, it is easy to see the hand of God and not only say, “Half Full,” but “Overflowing.”  Yes there are the temptations to buy in to the worries that everything else seems to throw at you.  How will I pay for their college?  Is that benign or malignant?  Am I going to make quota this quarter?  Am I pregnant?  And these can weigh us down like an anchor from a battleship.  And while these are weighty things in life, all one has to do is look in the rear view mirror and see the road of life littered with blessing after blessing after blessing.  For me it is 16 years of a great marriage, 16 years of full-time ministry getting to work with the most remarkable kids in the world, getting to travel to four of the seven continents and experience some amazing cultures,  being part of amazing faith communities, having faithful and caring friends.  That kind of perspective allows one to live those words of Jesus when he says, “Let not your heart be troubled, Trust in God, trust also in me.” (John 14:1)

That is half-full living.

.::Pleasing Others

Posted in Life, rant, what matters with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2009 by Walter

I think it is inevitable that many of us (read “me”),  work really, really hard to not disappoint those around us to the point of overexerting ourselves, stretching ourselves too thin, just so we will look good to those around us.

Why is that?

I had a really, really difficult conversation today where I had to say that magic word–“No.”

It was difficult because I have that innate need to not disappoint and to come off looking good. It was difficult because what they were asking me to do is something I actually LIKE doing.  It was difficult because it is really, really nice to be wanted (read between the lines “Pride”)  However, it didn’t matter that what was being asked of me was somewhat unreasonable with an very short time line.

Even though saying “No” meant a lot of good things for me and my family.

Even though saying “No” meant my mental health and sanity.

Even though I preach to my students that longevity in ministry means saying “No” a lot!  It is still hard to take my own medicine.

It sure was this week.

But saying no this person meant saying “YES!” to my wife and daughters and that takes away the sting I am feeling.  That is what matters.


Posted in Life, Theology with tags , , , , on January 22, 2009 by Walter

too tired2.jpgIt seems that this is how we have all been feeling this week in my family. We have been tired. It doesn’t seem possible after the girls had a four-day weekend with a cold day (instead of a snow day on Friday . . . don’t even get me started) and this being a short week due to the MLK holiday. So why are we tired?

My two cents is that these short weeks get us off of our normal rhythms of life. That inhale and exhale pace that our lives seem to need and year for. Perhaps we had a little too much inhaling and not enough exhaling this weekend. Perhaps life starting back last week just caught us off guard and our souls weren’t ready for the regular rigors of work, school, church. Who knows? But what I do know is that we all were dragging our feet this morning and NOT wanting to get out of bed. The girls made it to the bus stop with just 2 seconds to spare, I barely made it to class on time, and who knows how Amy’s day is going so far. I do know that it will be an early night for me tonight.

As I take just a few moments to breathe and read this, I keep having to come back to Isaiah 40, “Those who wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength. . . They shall run and not grow weary. . . They shall walk and not fail . . . “

So I have been leaning on that passage today when I have a moment to breathe while I simply wait. . .