Reflections of a younger man

Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now. – Dylan

So this is what it feels like to be 58.

It didn’t feel much different than yesterday, to be honest with you. A creak here, a cramp there. Some plantar fasciitis in my heels that makes my first few steps in the morning a sight to behold. But all in all – not bad. A head full of vision for the future and a heart full of gratitude for the life that God has allowed me to live so far.

“Fifty-eight is going to be good!”, I thought. And it was. Right up until the moment I googled it.

When a friend blows it

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God doesn’t humiliate repentant sinners.

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)

He understands our weaknesses. Too often when I read this scripture I focus on the fact that ‘he did not sin’ rather than the truth that ‘he understands our weaknesses’.

We ought to have his heart toward those who have given into temptation. We have to treat them with dignity and not scorn. The truth is – “they” are us. The measure of grace we use in judging others failures will be measured back to us when we need it.

Shame grows in the soil of guilt.

Strength grows in fields of Grace.

Grace is amazing.

Some things you probably shouldn’t tweet

There are some things that would be better left un-twittered.

I recently saw a tweet extolling the virtues of the tweeters current boss. Something like this: “So refreshing to work under wise Godly leadership.”

My first thought was: “That’s true. It’s great to work in a life giving environment.” I knew the pastor he was currently working for. The assessment was right on.

My second thought was: “I wonder how this is landing with his former employer?” I knew him too. Great guy. Wise and Godly also. Apparently not so much – at least not in the eyes of the tweeter. His experience working for my friend had apparently left him somewhat less “refreshed“. In less than 140 characters he had dissed him to the world (at least to the twitter followers who knew of his work history). Maybe he didn’t mean too, but that’s the sum result.

What I learned from Steve Jobs

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I just finished “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. Here’s 20 things I highlighted. Some apply to preaching. Some apply to pastoring. Some are just interesting:

1. Apple had a 3rd partner, Ron Wayne, who got cold feet after 11 days. He was paid a buyout of $2,300. Had he stayed, his share would be worth $2.6 billion.

2. Picasso had a saying – “Good artists copy, great artists steal” – we have been shameless about stealing great ideas.

3. In the annals of innovation, new ideas are only part of the equation. Execution is just as important.

4. The empowering force of naïveté – “Because I didn’t know it couldn’t be done, I was enabled to do it. ”

5. The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater.

6. Jobs recruiting Pepsi’s Scully – Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?

7. Jobs responding to a question about how he did market research for the Mac – “Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?”

8. The best & most innovative products don’t always win.

9. A colleague on how he dealt with Jobs abrasive personality “I used to be an angry man myself. I’m a recovering assaholic. So I could recognize that in Steve.”

10. What prepared him for the success he would have in Act 3 was not his ouster from Act 1 @ Apple, but his brilliant failures in Act 2.

11. It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple.

12. You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.

13. Gretzky – “Skate where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

14. Jobs – “What are the 10 things we should be doing next?…We can only do 3″

15. The mark of an innovative company is not that it comes up with new ideas first, but also that it knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind.

16. Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” but that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.

17. Henry Ford – “If I’d asked customers what the wanted, they’d have told me, ‘a faster horse’.”

18. People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.

19. You build a company that will stand for something a generation or two from now. That’s what Walt Disney did, and HP, and the people that built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That’s what I want Apple to be.

20. Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

So, what about you?

What got your attention?

Tim Tebow’s not the savior, but he sure does act like one

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I’ve been a Bronco fan for a long time. I remember striped socks, the South Stands, Steve Tensi, Cookie Gilcrest, Lyle Alzado, The Orange Crush, and the days when two words were enough to describe Mile High Stadium. We loved our Broncos. We filled the stadium. We cheered them on, even though they didn’t win much. We learned to endure. “Maybe next year we’ll beat the Raiders”, was our rallying cry.

Then along came a savior.

Not THE savior. There’s only been one of those. He was born in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. His name was Jesus. He came to save the world. And he did.

Our savior was born in a hospital in Port Angeles, Washington in 1960. His name was Elway. He came to save our Broncos. And he did.

And then he left us, and we’ve been looking for another ever since.

Maybe, just maybe we’ve found him. He was born in the Philippines, and like THE savior, his birth was a bit of a miracle. He came to us by way of Florida and we hope he has come to save our Broncos.

Or maybe it’s not just our Broncos he came to save. In a time when our innocence has been shattered by revelations of the sexual abuse of our children by those we’ve cheered as role models, maybe he has come to restore faith in our heroes. We want to believe. We need to believe. But, in the dark recesses of our psyche, we wonder if he’ll disappoint us like so many have. Or worse, turn out to be something entirely different than the public package.

We want to believe in the underdog. The kid that the pundants say will never make it.

We want to believe in the gifted young man who says “No sir” and “Yes sir” in response to questions at the press conferences.

We want to believe in the humble leader who “thanks my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”, gives credit to his coaches and team mates and pledges to do his best to improve everyday.

We want to believe. We want to hope. But the cynical pessimist inside of us is waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’re afraid he will disappoint us.

The truth is, he probably will. Hopefully not in scandalous ways. He’s human. Although they run quite well, his feet are made of clay. He’s just a wealthier, better looking, more athletic version of me. And I don’t always get it right, neither do you, and nor will he. He’s going to make mistakes, throw to the wrong jersey from time to time, say stuff he shouldn’t, and be severely tested when wins become losses and the temptations of fame are thrown his way.

If you want a Savior that won’t disappoint, you’d be better served trusting the one from Bethlehem. He proved himself divine.

Tim Tebow’s not THE savior, but he sure acts a lot like one.

I’m pulling for him. We need him to win. Not just for the Broncos, but for our hopes and dreams that the good guys really do exist and that they do well. I know he’s just beginning, but we need him to finish strong.

Honestly, I think he will. The fourth quarter at Mile High is becoming known as Tebow time.

One more thing…I just wish Tim Tebow could play for the Cubs.

If you like stories about unlikely heroes, you’ll love Ir-rev-rend: Christianity without the pretense, faith without the facade. You can read more about it and order your copies as Christmas gifts HERE

What does it mean to live in community?

We are spending a great deal of time at Seacoast trying to figure out what it means to be a community of faith, really living out the mission of God.

What does it mean to live on mission? Every day?

What does a missional community look like? How can we live out our mission together?

How do we translate ancient concepts like sabbath, and covenant, and kingdom into our 21st century reality?

While in Israel we visited an Orthodox Jewish community, committed to living their understanding of covenant community together. Watch a short video of the leader of their group explaining what community means to him.

Kfar Kedem Community from Greg Surratt on Vimeo.

What did you learn?

What are some transferable principles?

Highlights from my 2nd day in Israel

I’m about to wrap up my second full day in Israel.  Here’s what’s going on…

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Wednesday afternoon we arrived and stayed our first night in Tel Aviv.

  • We stayed close to Joppa, the city that Jonah caught a boat going the wrong direction and also the city that Peter saw a vision to eat things that he thought were unclean.  Because of Peter’s vision, Joppa might be called the city where outreaches to Gentiles began.
  • I slept thru the night. (Praise God!)

Thursday we visited several sights:

  • First stop was Caesarea, a beautiful city with a port built by Herod the Great not long before Jesus birth. Peter went to visit Cornelius there, preaching to the first Gentile converts. Paul had a hearing before Felix in Caesarea before going to Rome as a guest of the Roman government.
  • Second stop was Mt. Carmel, where Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice by faith.
  • Next we visited Megiddo and Tel Yizre’el, where Ahab and Jezebel had a summer palace.  It is also the place where Jezebel was thrown off the walls to her death.
  • First days learning: If Ahab was judged on his accomplishments he would be considered a success.  The Bible says otherwise.  It was never the intention of God for the King to become powerful and famous.  He wanted him to just be obedient and dependent on him.  God’s metrics are different than mine, most of the time.

Today we visited several more sights:

  • First, the ancient synagogue of Arbel, located on the road between Nazareth, Jesus boyhood home, and the Sea of Galilee. The fields were full of wild flowers.  As I spent time reflecting this morning, I could imagine Jesus teaching his followers not too worry and using the wildflowers as examples.
  • Next we went to Zippori, an ancient city where Jesus father Joseph may have helped in construction
  • We spent the afternoon with an Orthodox Jewish community, making bread and learning about life 2000 years ago.  Absolutely one of the most fascinating experiences in my life.
  • In the late afternoon we visited Nazareth and the church that sits where the boyhood home of Jesus probably was.  We received a private tour of excavations not normally seen.  It will change how I approach preaching on Christmas.

I am now back in our hotel on the Sea of Galilee.  Hoping to get another good nights sleep then it’s off for more adventure tomorrow.

If you’d like to see more pictures, you can click HERE.

Shalom.