Love Your Neighbor As Yourself…A Most Fitting Alternative For Schools And Violence

Bear with my foolishness for a moment…I believe in he inerrancy / infallibility of the Bible. I believe in Jesus as the only / single / sole way of salvation. I believe that God of the Bible is NOT the God of other faiths. I believe I am to love my neighbor as myself including those of other faiths, have deep relationships with those precious image bearers and care for those friends with deep affection. I’m a complimentarian regarding the roles of men and women inside of the church. I believe the church is the body of Jesus Christ, and is the community of the kingdom of God. I believe Christians can’t be Christians apart of covenant fellowship with the body of Christ. If it’s in the Bible or an implication of the truth of the Bible, I’m there. I have always believed those things to be “conservative” doctrinally. However, I discovered that some think me “liberal” because I love people from other faiths and want to share the gospel with them in love. Some think me liberal because I work in the public square with governments they may not agree with politically.

My response to this is always, “what the heck?” How? I can’t even begin to communicate how that rubs me the wrong way for right and even sinfully prideful ways. Never pictured my fundamentalist, gun toating, hunting, W loving, southern boy a lib. I’m not, and dang it, it makes me mad when somebody says that trash. Ok, enough about that…

The point of my foolish rambling? Cursed and redeemed creatures alike are all tempted to  put people into neatly crafted tribes created by a world system, and we like to label and marginalize the people who happen to be in the minority or the less honored group in the eyes of the dominant group. We all do it, and we are often unaware that we are doing it. Particulary when we were in elementary school.

I was an educator for 10 years. I’ve been in church work for 25 years. One observation I have of people / kids / students is that we are brutal to each other regarding tribes and how we put people into tribes.

I’ve seen students, in sin, get into their social groups and verbally, passive aggressively, and socially destroy other kids. As a teacher, I tried to take great delight in breaking that stuff up and trying to love that kid that others marginalized. I succeeded some, and I failed some. I have deep regrets for not trying harder with some kids. I’m even a product of bad culture myself. I’d probably be a better teacher today than back then. I’m just now learning solid wisdom. Why is that?

I’ve seen that happen to boys, and boys have to fight to gain a place of significance. That’s boys. Boys function that way. Who is(are) the alpha(s)? Everyone else, sit down and be insignificant. If that culture takes on a physical form, your son better be able and ready to physically fight. My sons were and are and have. I know some disagree with that strategy, but alas.

I’ve watched girls slaughter each other with looks that kill, and passive aggressive jabs that cause that precious soul to retreat to places that make my eyes sweat even as I type these words. It’s brutal.

Now, imagine that situation run amok where a child already has significant trauma.

Imagine if the school does not care to know that you can’t teach traumatized kids the same way you teach non-traumatized kids because they don’t learn the same way?

Imagine if that traumatized kid, without the aid of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, begins to go down roads of anger, bitterness, revenge….

You see what can happen?

I saw on the Twitter this morning a Tweet regarding the young man who murdered 17 of his classmates in Florida last week stating that “he should be hung up by his extra-large ears and stoned to death by the victims families.”

Do you see it? It’s the continuation, under the mask of justice, of what that kid put up with for years at the hands of being a social outcast, made fun of, marginalized…and on top of that, his mother died a year ago.

I’m not saying he should not be properly punished for his crime. What I am saying is that the Tweet by the fool unmasks the real problem if you will have eyes to see.

Is he justified in what he did. Never. Not in a million years.

Was what he did fueled by the way he was treated? It’s debatable. Likely so.

Is it about guns? Some, but not really. If we ignore the hurt and trauma caused by letting kids get marginalized and abused verbally, it does not matter what implement the kid uses to exact revenge on others and on themselves because they learned to hate themselves and blame themselves for what happened. They may choose sexual assault, be abusive to their children and spouse, drugs…you name it, and it can become a weapon for physical or emotional destruction.

Here’s my point: We better start caring about how:

1. We teach out kids to treat other people. Do you practice loving the other? Do you model that for your kids? Are you more concerned they be with the “in” group than they love their neighbor as themselves? If so, that is more Pagan than Christian. Don’t call you social game “Christian” if that’s you.

The days of letting technology raise our kids because we are whatever is producing some negative results. Kids act like their entertainment. That’s a fact. There are studies out on this stuff. Just look for them.

Your kids need to see you love your neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37 for the definition of neighbor, and don’t try to justify yourself like the dude who asked Jesus the question) as themselves, not see you seek to be socially elite. That social elitist mentality is like an invisible gas that makes you sick and you don’t know it until it’s too late.

I’ve seen it as a teacher, and I’ve experienced it while raising my boys. Particularly when one of my sons has black skin. Loved answering the question, “hey daddy, what’s a ni****?

2. We need to care that our schools are more concerned with setting a culture of care than setting a culture of academia. Don’t misunderstand, pursuing excellence in knowledge is important, but not at the expense of a culture of loving and caring and including. Why? We are not mere biological entities that exist to make an “A”. We are souls who can know. We often focus on the “knowing” part and ignore the soul part. And, NO, the soul part is deeper than a bible study. The soul is the whole immaterial portion of an image bearer of God. It’s complex, requires study and effort to know and engage.

3. We need to crush marginalization of people. If you can’t have a civil conversation with someone you disagree with, or you begin to marginalize or ignore others who don’t do what you do, then you have the problem. Civil and healthy relationships happen when we recognize our disagreements, agree that we won’t agree, debate them lovingly, find where we do agree and have relationships in the agreement. Hint: that’s how you evangelize the world, dear Christian. Hint: that’s the key to unity. The powerful gospel will do the converting. You need to do the relating well.

4. We need educational professionals who understand their vocation, are highly trained and highly compensated and can manage a classroom culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast, and if our “leaders” don’t set a hard edge on culture or even understand it’s importance, we’ve lost the battle for the souls of our kids.

If this happened, we could see a lessening of school violence because we will have less wounded kids.

It’s not THE answer, but it’s an answer and a dad-gum  good place to start.

Here is an article you should read and digest. Maybe it will help you understand that it all starts with the soul of a kid early, long before they need a background check, and that this area needs some care and attention.

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop School Shootings

I’m sure there’s plenty of critique to be done here, but don’t critique until you’ve critiqued yourself and your culture.


India Report: Domains Change Everything

Tomorrow, we will hear from our teams returning from working with our friends in India. This is exciting on many levels, but for me it’s exciting because it represents the paradigm shift that is taking place in the work of the church.

The other day I posted a link to a previous post about domains to get your mind read for tomorrow. Domains of Society represent the third part of our DNA of KDS(domains of society)C. The gospel of the Kingdom makes Disciples who hear and obey, who engage their vocation in the domains of Society, and from there these disciples plant Churches. KDSC.

Domains change everything.

We began working in a hard place in 2002 fixing what was broken as ambassadors of Jesus. It was no secret who we are because we brought help as Jesus commanded us to in healing and announcing the kingdom.

As we taught the biblical mandate to disciple the nations as our call to work in hard places such as our adopted location and people, God called multiple TRC domain engagers to multiple places around the world. The more we tried to focus the more God called people to engage their domains glocally. That has resulted in TRC members scattered from Brazil to India and multiple places in between as well as culture shifting works like Restoration Rome right here at home. GLOCAL.

The question for us is no longer how do we keep working only in our hard place, but how do we continue to release our members to engage their domains and shepherd them as they are multiplying churches in their domains? How do we disciple our city and release our people to disciple the nations?

Domains, and the coming generations to leave us for the nations have forced us to plan our first global partners retreat this summer. We will gather our TRC people to Croatia to feed their souls with teaching, counseling, hospitality, recreation and rest. We will send them back refreshed and ready to keep up the work. There are more going, and more to serve as they go. This is part of the responsibility to love and serve one another as a local church in covenant with one another. What a joy to do that globally!

Domains change everything.

Tomorrow, you will hear from a business owner, a doctor, a leadership professional, a global partner about to leave for the far reaches of the world, a faithful employee of a local business, and a couple of faithful mothers who put their local skill to work globally.

Domains are the paradigm shift that represents the next great movement of the Kingdom of Jesus to the nations, and it won’t be done by professional ministry people. It will be done by vocational professionals learning to ply their trade globally. There are no closed countries to vocational professionals who bring tangible life with them. Those will be the ones discipling the nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Vocation is holy, and it is God’s plan for our lives to discover that vocation and employ it for the kingdom glocally (glocal is key to our DNA).

Be excited to hear tomorrow about how these vocational professionals used what they had to expand the rule of Jesus.

By the way, this interview won’t be recorded due to editing constraints. You’ll need to be present to hear it. So, don’t skip out tomorrow. Be present. Be on time. Come ready to worship from entrance to sending.

Soli Deo Gloria!

God Has Already Revealed Himself Today

Yesterday, we continued to preach from Isaiah 6:1-11 on the liturgy, pattern, rhythm, flow of a life of living sacrifice as worship.

Worship: Isaiah 6:1-ll

We focused on the pattern of REVELATION and RESPONSE in Isaiah 6 as the pattern of life that translates to the gathered service of worship.

We gave a few examples of how God reveals himself generally and in special ways that lead to salvation with the end that people worship him.

Let me share one way God has already revealed himself to you today so that you can grasp that flow of life and response in worship.

Psalm 3:5 “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.”

If you slept at all last night, whether lots of little, and you are alive today, God has revealed himself to you. How? You and I woke because God sustained us.

Do you understand how vulnerable we are while we sleep? We are vulnerable to myriad of things that we can’t do anything about from external challenges to our body’s functioning on the inside. Why did I wake up? Because God sustained me. Your life and mine today is God’s general means of grace to all of humanity today. For us in Christ, we have eyes to see that this is a gift from God in Jesus Christ to us. Therefore, God began his revelation to you today by giving you life.

How can we respond now?

  1. Give thanks. Pray to the Lord in thanksgiving for life today.
  2. Fight to have some kind of joyful response to any and all challenges that come your way. If I have life today, then I have purpose from God today. If this is the case, then there is some joy to be found today in all challenges. Yes, even in death. The day each of my parents passed away, in the midst of the sadness and grief, there was joy that God had spared them from further suffering. Joy does not negate other complicated emotions. We can find joy in God’s providences for my day.
  3. Put on your favorite worship music and sing to the Lord with all your might. That might happen in your car while taking your kids to school or on the way home from  taking kids to school. Open up a Scripture app and listen to the Psalms. Read your bible reading plan.
  4. Take a walk through your workplace and give thanks for God putting you there as salt and light. Respond by asking God to make you “a city set on a hill”.
  5. Obey any holy promptings you sense the Spirit putting into your thoughts for his glory and the church’s good and joy.

These are just a few. Maybe there are some responses you have engaged in that have just made your day. Please feel free to share these.

May your response to Jesus be joyful and good and right. May you have eyes to see the Lord’s continual engagement in your day.


Worship: Isaiah 6:1-ll

Worship: A Framework for Being A Living Sacrifice

Isaiah 6:1-11

1) Worship is communion with God 2) in which believers, 3) by grace, 4) center their mind’s attention and their 5) heart’s affection on the Lord, 6) humbly 7) glorifying God 8) in response to the revelation of his glory and his word.

Remember, we have majored on worship as a life we live as a living sacrifice.

Romans 12:1 Life Has A Flow

Life as a living sacrifice has a liturgy to it, a pattern to follow, a flow.

The Service Should Have A Flow Because The People Are Living In A Flow

As a consequence, and we’ll address this at the end, a worship service made up of a host of living sacrifices, has a liturgy, pattern and flow because it’s attendees are living in a liturgy, pattern and flow…the worship service should never be foreign to the Christin regarding pattern.

The worship gathering should be an imitation of the lives of the worshipers gathered not necessarily in the exact order but in the pattern and flow of interaction with God.

Isaiah 6:1-ll gives us this pattern and flow in the personal example of God’s interaction with Isaiah. If God interacts with Isaiah like this before the indwelling Spirit is given at Pentecost, how much more can we affirm that God wants to meet with us as his children daily in Christ?

NOTE: This pattern is not necessarily to be followed sequentially and, in the order of actions, as it happens in the text, but the overall pattern of REVELATION and RESPONSE is how we live with God as he communicates with us and we respond to him. This is a “with God life”.

NOTE: This pattern is fluid and should be walked up and down and out throughout our day.

Pattern: Revelation and Response

Revelation and response is how we interact with God. God is initiator and creatures are responders.

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you.” – Aslan, “The Silver Chair”

God reveals himself and we respond.

Background: Israel is in the shadow of Assyria’s oncoming power. Uzziah, in pride, has entered the temple to perform the role of priest and God has struck him with leprosy. Now, Uzziah’s death awaits, and with it a vulnerable Israel will emerge.

So God shows Isaiah who the real king is and gives him a message that he is to deliver and even lets Isaiah know how his ministry is going to go before it even starts.

(GOD REVEALS) Revelation (continuous) v. 1

God reveals his presence.

God reveals his person.

God reveals his power.

God reveals his purposes.

God reveals his plan for us.

Isaiah sees a glimpse of what reality is. The continual rule of God regardless of who is king.

How does God continuously reveal himself?

¬ God reveals himself through his word and through ordinary means of grace built into creation and special means of grace through the church (body of Christ)

⎫ Scripture (can lead people to Jesus for salvation): 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

⎫ Created order (Can point people to their need for Jesus): Psalms 19:1-2 (ESV) The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

⎫ Greeting someone at the door or as a worker in Radical Kids: Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

(WE RESPOND) Adoration v. 2-4

¬ Seraphim – fiery ones

¬ The seraphim “called” – proclaimed, cried out, preach, invite

¬ Holy, Holy, Holy – Only here is one of God’s attributes repeated 3 times.

(WE RESPOND) Confession v. 5

¬ Woe is me – unfortunate

¬ I am lost – to be cut off, to cease to live, to perish

ϖ For a creature that sins to look into the face of God, its proper and fitting to see one’s sin and confess.

(WE RESPOND) Atonement Realized v. 6-7

¬ From the alter where sacrifice for sin is made, God sends his messenger to make it known that Isaiah’s repentance is met with the gracious act of God to remove all guilt.

This, however, was fire from the altar, the place where holiness accepted, and was satisfied by, the death of a substitutionary sacrifice (Lev. 17:11).

(GOD REVEALS) Proclamation v. 8

¬ God preaches a short sermon, and yet a most effective sermon

¬ God asks a rhetorical question as his sermon because there is no one else in the room.

¬ Have you ever felt that you were the only person in the room that was being spoken to although the room was full? That is an “Isaiah moment”.

(WE RESPOND) Dedication v. 8

¬ Our response is always a “yes” to God.

(GOD REVEALS) Commission v. 9-10

¬ God sends Isaiah with a “go” and a commission to speak a specific message.

(WE RESPOND) Supplication v. 11

¬ Isaiah’s mission is hard, so he prays and asks the Lord his question.

How does our gathered service reflect this pattern and flow?

1. You are welcomed by an under-shepherd of Jesus as an act of revelation. 

God welcomes his people all through Scripture to come to him.

2. Call to worship as an act of revelation and response. 

We sing a song that is loaded with truth from God’s word that calls us to Jesus and we do so as a song of praise to God.

3. Greeting one another as a response of God to love each other and be in unity with each other.

We greet each other with a statement about the peace of the Lord to each other as a response to God to love each other and to pronounce his truth to each other.

4. We sing a song in response to God’s good grace to us in each other and in his peace to us in Christ.

5. We receive the Lord’s Supper as an act of revelation and response. 

We have the good news revealed to us in the elements, and we respond by taking them and receiving God’s grace in reminder of what he has done for us in Christ.

6. We sing a song as a response to God in thanks for the gospel.

7. We hear a sermon from God’s word as an act of revelation in which we trust that the Spirit of God speaks from his word through a pastor to his people.

8. We respond in songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.

9. We send you off as an act of dedication in response to God’s command that we go and make disciples.

That is a worship service constructed on the revelation and response pattern of Isaiah 6.

Take Aways:

¬ So, when we gather, it’s not just some service to entertain you, it’s a time patterned after a life of living sacrifice for us to meet with God as his church.

¬ Don’t live life like it’s your own. It’s not. Live it as worship as a living sacrifice.

¬ Don’t treat corporate worship like leftovers, rather come as a living sacrifice prepared to give Jesus something of worth together with others giving Jesus something of worth.

¬ Give him your absolute best.

Thoughts On Evangelism Here in Washington

While at the Alliance of Virtue conference, I’ve been so thankful for Bob Roberts and our Glocal Net Crew, Chris Seiple and others who can dialogue with, and be in and around people who don’t use our words, define words the way we do and don’t believe what we believe and yet be civil, loving and Jesus exalting. This is how to evangelize. This is public square disciple making. Forget all the video series, teaching series people and groups have put out. It’s not that systematic anymore. It’s more relational and requires more emotional intelligence and intellectual effort and relational capital.

Evangelism, for some, is uncomfortable. For some, it’s as natural as breathing. What is evangelism? The word means to “good news people”. It means to tell the story of Jesus, the only God, 2nd person of the Trinity, Creator, One who came, lived perfectly, was put to death on a cross ultimately by God the Father to atone for the sin of those who will believe in him by faith, rose from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and there makes intercession for all who will believe. If people will believe on the Lord Jesus, they will be saved. God will take their sin away and give to them the perfect righteousness of Jesus and adopt them as sons and daughters. Good news. Great news!

For those of us evangelicals who believe that message there is a Bible mandate to preach that message to all nations. This message and mission is indisputable.

What gets sticky is when this message begins to go to hard places and people with a counter truth claim. That message then enters into a realm where both claims can’t be correct. Some have glossed over those differences in a pretend peace that cuts the throat of our distinctives and counter truth claims and nullifies the message, in my opinion. That kind of thing is intellectually dishonest and gets nothing accomplished except watering down our message and the other’s message for that matter. That requires nothing of really loving my neighbor as myself.

Some falsely believe that if we don’t hold each truth claim to be morally equivalent we can’t be equal, be friends, love each other and work for each other’s good. Jesus taught us otherwise. Jesus summed up the law correctly (no duh, he was never incorrect) when he said it is “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” We get the “love God” part. We begin to struggle with the “love your neighbor as yourself” part. Not because we don’t know what to do or even how to do it, but we want to justify our ignorance, or our ingrained assumptions affirmed by others who are book learned but have no actual practice, or simply don’t want the discomfort of learning something completely different from me.

(Side note: I’m kind of tired of academics, book writers, etc. opining on stuff they are not actually doing other than reading books. Books are great. I’m a reader. Read lots, but I’m a practitioner too. I pastor. I work in the public square. I visit with those of other faiths and share the gospel. I know how to act around people of other faiths because Bob taught me and I learned by making mistakes in dangerous places and, by God’s grace, did not die for it. I go to hard places and dangerous places. I try to put hands and feet to the work of the “inner room”. Kind of done with the “experts” who are actually doing nothing but writing books and making money putting down those whose hands are in the mud.)

Jesus told a parable about that. It’s the parable of the “Good Samaritan”. Jesus told this parable in response to one who asked Jesus who his neighbor was for the expressed purpose of justifying his failure to obey the second half of the law. I’m of the opinion that people throw verbal jabs at the attempt to reach out to Muslims, love them and hopefully make disciples as justification for their doing nothing.

We’ve been reaching out to our Muslim friends in Rome for a while now. It’s slow work. We’ve been working among Muslim people around the world for 15 years. It’s slow work. We see some fruit. But that fruit is little and not in proportion to time and other resources spent. Why do we keep doing it? Because Jesus said to.

Listen, if we keep reaching out to our Muslim neighbors, making friends, agreeing on non-essentials, having meals together and telling the story of Jesus with the hopes of baptizing our friends, we are going to take incoming verbal rocks from the right and the left. Some evangelical people we admire will condemn it. Some extremists from the Muslim side of things will condemn it. But Jesus did not leave us options.

Paul is the perfect example of this. He used his domain of tent building to gain access to the public square, learned of people’s faith, went into their places of worship, engaged in dialogue with them, then preached Jesus. See Acts 17. If our cross-cultural efforts don’t look like that, we are doing it wrong. Likely Acts 17 makes many folks uncomfortable.

So, stop worrying about being on the “right” side of some political game. Be concerned about being on Jesus’ side. Imitate Paul’s example. Never give up on our exclusive truth claims. Hold high the Bible and every inerrant word it speaks. Love those who don’t believe it. Learn their story. Tell them the gospel story that is powerful enough to save by taking people from spiritual death to life. Baptize them. Teach them to hear and obey. Teach them how to engage their domain with Jesus. Then go plant some churches. That’s how we’ll complete Jesus’ mission with solid evangelism.

Got to go catch a plane. See you soon Rome. Rock on!