This morning I’m sitting her drinking coffee and watching my children laugh and play while I’m grieving for Paris and those impacted by the Islamic State. Many who have followed my thinking and work over the past few years know that I am a vocal supporter of the nonviolent way of Jesus. Violence begets violence. The war to end all wars only sparked more wars.

The power of the cross, on the other hand, is found in the self-emptying love of Jesus who gave himself in death to unjust government for all people. This example was followed by his closest associates who all met a similar fate by the same unjust government. Christianity became the dominant religion in Rome through nonviolence, nongovernment participation (meaning they did not work as government officials), and proactive service to the least. Many were willing to die for their simple faith. Tertullian said that the blood of the martyrs (those who died for their faith) was the seed of the Church.
Many assume that because I support the nonviolent way of Jesus that I am a nonviolent person. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Left to myself, I am a very violent person. Do my family wrong and my first urge is to show up at your doorstep. Call my friend a name and my blood starts flowing. The truth is that I am a violent person. I am comfortable with violence. Violence is simple. The strongest, toughest, and most powerful sits at the top and everyone else has to deal with it or be on the receiving end of more violence.
Fortunately, Jesus has not left me to myself. He has given me the Spirit that works love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control within me. As the years pass, I am becoming less violent, more compassionate, and amazingly a little more patient. I do not choose nonviolence because it is natural.
I choose nonviolence because it is God’s desire for his creation. I choose nonviolence because Jesus, my Lord and Savior, is the Prince of Peace. He has shown me a way through death and into eternal life. Death has been defeat. Death has lost its sting. Death no longer holds anything over me.
Revelation 12:11 say’s, “They gained the victory over [the enemy] on account of the blood of the Lamb and the word of their witness. Love for their own lives didn’t make them afraid to die.” I love my life but I am not afraid to die. Because death is only a mirage. In Christ, I live forever. This may sound really dumb or really cool. I go back and forth, honestly. Sometimes it gives me courage and other times I’m afraid I’ve lost my mind. But if I have, I am in the company of Paul and so many others.
Whenever someone asks me what I would do if I were given the opportunity to deal with the Islamic State, I typically respond by saying I would invite them to dinner, I would introduce them to my wife and children, and hope to get to know theirs. My hope would be to see one another of people. Books like Tea with Hezbollah give me hope that this practice of Jesus would work. Unfortunately, the story of the Vicar of Baghdad diminishes this hope. Sometimes real, hardcore, evil exists in the world.
So what do we do?
I don’t know. Yes, real, hardcore, evil exists in the world. And maybe the Islamic State is a manifestation of this reality. But I remain faithful to the ultimate authority in Heaven and on earth. I understand that some will resort to violence for the sake of those in harms way. These persons will be praised, and their courage justifies this praise. Others will continue to give witness to the nonviolence of Jesus. These persons may be scorned, but their faith in eternity justifies them. Remember, for those who stand in the nonviolent way of Jesus believe that death has lost its sting. Those who die at the hands of evil will be with Jesus in eternity.
I cannot say what I would really do. IS is not at my doorstep yet. They have not threatened my family or my friends but they have killed others family members and friends. To sit on the other side of the world shouting nonviolence while judging violent resistance is kinda of dumb. Regardless of your position, and I am still a voice for nonviolence, I believe the path to violent resistance should resemble that of Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad. We should never march to war with joy and enthusiasm. We should grieve and lament the decision. If we come to the point of sending soldiers to the battlefield, we should do so with tears in our eyes because the real likelihood is that those men and women will never come back the same. They will carry the wounds and scars of violence the rest of their life. Their family will to.
There is a real tension in how to deal the Islamic State. I’ve read too many one liner’s from nonviolent advocates to want to throw up this morning. And I’ve read too many status’ ready to march to war over the recent months that make me sick to my stomach as well. I will not insult the complexity and heart wrenching reality of this situation with silly one liners, and I will not joyfully watch anyone go take down the enemy. This morning I sit grieving the evil and sin present in the world while watching my children dance and play keep away with a balloon, completely oblivious to such evil and sin. My morning coffee is finished but the tension of the day is far from over. I pray that we all feel the tension, pray for wisdom as well as peace, and learn to love one another in the midst of this violence.

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Girl, Do Your Thing!

by Jeff Saferite on September 3, 2015

Have you ever made a professor so mad they cried? I have. At the time I thought he was weak and incapable of defending the very things he was teaching. At the time I found this utterly preposterous. But even more preposterous than a man not knowing how to defend his teaching was his teaching that a woman could teach at all in the Church. At the time I was a flaming fundamentalist and arrogant ass.


When my professor set out to teach his New Testament class that day by presenting his case for women in roles of leadership and teaching within the Church, I quickly brought him to the well known verses that refute such ideas. The two of us had argued for the better part of the class when suddenly he burst into tears, “revealing his inability to articulate or defend his position.” The conversation awkwardly ended.

Fast forward to this day and there is a high probability, if you were to join us at Hill City Church, you would hear a message from one of the most dynamic young woman teachers and leaders the Church has to offer. Hai-In is an elder of the church “I” planted, has been on the teaching team since our public launch, and leads our discipleship journey. She taught/preached the second Sunday of our launch. And I have told her and others many times that if I were to leave today she would take the reigns.

Hai-In is not alone though. Hill City is blessed to have several other women in the leadership pipeline who are or will soon begin teaching, preaching and leading within their passions and skill sets. One of our missional communities is led by two women. They actively lead, teach, and disciple their whole community.

So what happened?

During my senior year of college and later in seminary, I came across several women who helped transform my thinking. Hannah, Kara, Christine, Laura, Rebecca, and others unknowingly sparked a passion within me to create spaces and on ramps for women to do what they were created to do, especially in the realm of ministry. But before this took place their friendship began changing my perspectives.

Recent blogs by Tara Beth over at Missio Alliance (Women, Keep On Preaching On and Dear Bill Hybels and Other Men…) have brought these experiences back to the surface as I’ve reflected on her wonderful words. I want to be clear that it is my personal belief that women do not need to prove anything. My story and the experiences they entail are simply my own, but these are some of the relational experiences that converted me from a flaming fundamentalist and arrogant ass into an empowering male co-leader. I hope these words encourage women to “keep on keepin’ on” (to use similar words to Tara). I believe these are things you are already doing.

If you have men like my unredeemed self in your way, here are a few ways you may be able to help changes their views:

1. Share Your Passion
When someone is excited about something they cannot help but talk about it. What do your conversations suggest you are excited about? When I met Christine, she was a 17-year-old girl who wanted to spend her life in missions. She loved Jesus and wanted to devote herself to him by serving his underprivileged people in foreign worlds. Her passion and desire impressed me. Very few of the guys I was studying to be pastors with had the enthusiasm my friend had towards missions. Instead of suggesting that she needed to be in a subservient role in missions, I unconsciously began praying she would receive the opportunities to live out her vision. Her zeal was contagious. I wanted her to succeed!

Articulating your passions inspires me to pray for you to succeed!

2. Start Now
The one thing I would not deny, even in my arrogant years, was fruit. Christine and Hannah both assisted me in youth ministry, but this was not their long term goal or desire. Even so, they each came in with a willingness and expectation to participate leading youth to the heart of Jesus. Seeing them in action was inspiring and watching them exercise their gifts made me a believer. I couldn’t deny their passion and now I couldn’t deny their ability. Fruit was coming. Christine is currently heading to the mission field while Hannah is co-pastoring a church!

Begin exercising your skills now. Start small. I’m not suggesting youth ministry is a “small start,” but it was not their long-term goal. Take the opportunities the Lord puts before you and allow others to see you come alive. Allow them to see the fruit of the gifting God has given you. Jesus is always talking about fruit. Good fruit cannot come from a bad tree. Girl, do your thing! Cultivate the soil, plant the seed, water the seed, prune the tree, and let the fruit grow wherever you get the chance.

3. Devote Yourself to Study
Those with a passion want to know that which they are passionate about. I’m not suggesting here that you need to study harder than the boys to prove yourself. Study Scripture because you want to know God. Study theology because you want to know God. Study the history of the Church because you love the Church. Study culture and listen to the Spirit’s activity in our world because you have not just been called but are also being sent.

Hannah and Kara were two of the smartest women I knew in college. I would often ask them what they had been reading or what Kara’s research topic was for OT Theology because I knew they poured their passion for Jesus into their studies. There was always a hint of excitement and confidence in their voice as they spoke about their studies. Excitement and confidence is contagious. What I later realized is that I was subconsciously asking them to teach me. These women knew their stuff! Why not ask them what they know?

While in seminary I went to an academic conference at Duke with a group of students. On the car ride to the conference I was able to listen to the research interests of Laura and Rebecca. During school I always felt a sense of responsibility towards my future congregations, so my studies included a sense of strong passion and high responsibility. I remember leaving that Duke trip thinking I’ve never met anyone as passionate as these two women in regards to their studies. These women did not just have a responsibility to learn–I really sensed they now had a responsibility to teach what they were learning. It was no longer whether or not they could teach. Why should all that passion and knowledge go to waste?

4. Tell Stories of Those Who Have Gone Before You
During seminary my views really began changing. I became content with a woman teaching as long as they did so under the “covering” of a male leader. I was explaining this to Laura one day at lunch when she gave me a short history lesson on all the women who led ministries without male covering and the success they had. This challenged me to fact check her sources. My research led me to write a paper on the enormous influence women had on the history of the Pentecostal movement, which is now the fastest growing global movement in the Church.

Many churches and ministries and lives have been established by pioneering women. Women have played a vital role in missions around the world. And they also served in every capacity in the New Testament! They served as apostles, prophets, evangelists, leaders of house churches, business owners, deacons, and teachers. There ARE many, many, many unsung heroes and untold stories of women’s places in the history of the Church. Find those who motivate and challenge you. Learn their story and tell it to the world. Here’s a quick list to get you started:

  • Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922)
  • Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944)
  • Jo Saxton (Church Planter in Minneapolis, speaker, author)

5. Clarify Your Vision
People are inspired by passion, but they respond to vision. What has God called you to do? Where has he called you to do it? What gifts, tools, insight, experience, and/or wisdom has he given you for this particular calling? How do you plan to effectively carry this out? How will this benefit the Kingdom? The Church? The local community? Have other people done anything similar as a model for others to check out?

I talk with many people who just want to be pastors. The problem is that this word or title means different things to different people. For dumb I mean some people, when they hear a woman wants to be a pastor, they simply hear, “This woman wants to be in charge.” Unfortunately, this is what A LOT of men are really saying when they say they want to be the pastor, but they don’t receive the same flack. For that I’m sorry. You have every right to lead and be in charge.

By clarifying your vision and expressing your passion, this hurdle can more easily be overcome (for some). Very few people can listen to Hai-In’s vision for the Church and discipleship without getting inspired. I’ve seen her put many men (and women) in awe. Once she took the dry erase marker from a man who was attempting to explain the journey of discipleship. She asked him if she could help clarify what he was saying. That’s pretty bold! But the guy and the rest of the room were quite grateful. In fact, the guy came up to me afterwards and told me that this girl needs to preach. I happily told him that she does :). She was capable of doing this because she is confident in her vision for discipleship.

Something to Consider: Pioneer Your Vision
Many of the pastors who still enjoy their ministry have planted churches. I realize that not every leader in the Church is called to plant a church, but I am amazed by how few women have ever even imagined this possibility. God has given you both passion and a vision. Why not gather a team of like minded persons and move out to live out the vision together? There are many great resources and networks available to equip and walk with you. The V3 Movement would love to hear from you, I’m sure.

A female friend of mine was a little intimidated by this suggestion while reviewing this post. She said that when she read this, it was kind of like asking, “Why not consider building a rocket and travelling to Mars and planting a church there?” The remark made me laugh, and I know it’s a daunting idea, but maybe the turmoil you have gone through to this point has in fact made you uniquely prepared for such a task. Feel free to contact me if the idea interests you. Also, check out Linda Bergquist. She’s been planting churches for 30 years!

A Word of Advice: Create a Supportive Environment
I know you are beyond frustrated and hurt by men and women who seek to deny your calling. Your wounds are deep and painful because often times those closest to you, those you have considered mentors, and persons you have great respect for are the first or fiercest persons standing in your way. You have every right to kick, scream, and cry. And I am not suggesting you don’t. I am simply suggesting that you do so in a supportive environment and in a constructive way. There are many good people in this world but there a few more mean people who would rather see your burst of rage as proof that you are not fit to lead. This is a double standard that needs to be broken. I’m praying we can break it together!

Creating a supportive environment will give you strength and wisdom to overcome your obstacles. Find a friend, mentor, fellow pastor, or counselor/therapist to walk through your past and present pains. Seek out some of the amazing blogging women who share a similar history. My friend Jory Micah is amazing and is a great example of how to handle your frustrations constructively. I know she would welcome your emails. Also, consider joining Biblical Christian Egalitarians facebook group. They are a passionate and compassionate group of women and men seeking biblical equality.

Conclusion: Understanding the Tears
This is my story as a former complementarian. I now understand the tears of my professor were not tears of frustration for not being able to defend himself. The tears and pain he was expressing were for the women that are continuously harmed by views I shared that day in class. For that I am sorry. I ask each of you for forgiveness.

These experiences have made me a full-fledged convert, and this is my journey. There have been many more women and stories that have helped renew my perspectives on women in ministry. I share these because these women unknowingly redeemed my view of all women in regards to the Church. So keep on keepin’ on! Be courageous, live and speak your vision boldly to anyone and everyone who will listen. You can and will change minds and lives.

Girl, go do your thing!


An Open Letter to Conservative Evangelicals: In response to Franklin Graham

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So…Franklin Graham said something stupid again. If you have not read it, here it is (taken from his Facebook page): Four innocent Marines (United States Marine Corps) killed and three others wounded in ‪#‎Chattanooga‬ yesterday including a policeman and another Marine–all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from […]

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We’re Not a Post-Christian Culture

March 11, 2015
Thumbnail image for We’re Not a Post-Christian Culture

Lee Beach, in his fantastic book The Church in Exile, references the distinct difference between the centennial birthday celebration of Canada as a country and the day of mourning to commemorate the lives lost after 9/11. In 1967, at the centennial celebration, 25,000 people gathered along with state officials, eight clergy and Queen Elizabeth to […]

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Baptism: A sign or a birth?

September 22, 2014

What is Baptism? For individualized/private/personal faith, baptism is diminished to a confusing and unintelligible non-tangible reality, i.e. “an outward sign of an inward reality.” As such, it’s easily set aside as an add-on. For communal, messianic, kingdom faith, baptism is an initiation into a new/alternative social reality where Jesus is Lord and King of all. […]

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Depression & Suicide? An invitation to a complex conversation

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( DISCLAIMER: I offer this post publicly as an opportunity to join me in discussion. I want to listen and learn from others. I want to hear your stories, and I want to do my best to love you. I do not offer this to be demonized or caricatured. I trust you will give me […]

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