For Research: Here’s How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say : NPR Ed : NPR

This article is a great plan and resource for reducing violence and gun related issues. Posting it for future use.

Here’s How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say : NPR Ed : NPR
— Read on

And, these experts say, you remove the major “environmental hazard” that contributes to gun violence: the guns. The eight-point plan calls for universal background checks, a ban on assault-style weapons, and something called Gun Violence Protection Orders: a type of emergency order that would allow police to seize a gun when there is an imminent threat.

What sets this call to action apart from other policy proposals is not gun control, however, but the research-based approach to violence prevention and response. This is a long haul, say the experts, not a quick fix.

“No matter what you try to do by just hardening the target, we’ve learned that having the armed officers isn’t necessarily going to stop it,” says Matthew Mayer at Rutgers. “Having the metal detector or the locked doors isn’t going to stop it. The hard work is a lot more effort. You’d better start thinking in a more comprehensive manner about prevention instead of reacting.”

Homily – The Shepherd

Readings:  1 Peter 5:1-4, Psalm 23, Matthew 16:13-19

In today’s readings, the ongoing theme tying each passage is Shepherd.  Peter and King David are key figures, with Jesus as the Chief Shepherd.  It’s beautiful how our faith tradition has put together passages like this so that we might see the coherence throughout the biblical narrative.  Two men–King David and Peter–experience God not as an angry, petulant image, but as a loving shepherd who guides and leads us.  These two figures were shaped and formed by the rod and staff, learning to become as their shepherd.  In later years, both figures became shepherds of flocks, attending to them and caring for them, not out of obligation but out of willing hearts.

During this lent season, I reminded of the need to be shepherded.  I need to be guided, led, healed, fed, and restored.  I am prone to deceive myself, become lax in my devotion to God, and to think more highly of myself than I ought to.

When do I sense God’s rod and staff comforting me?  In prayer, scripture reading, and spiritual community.  No matter how out of control the world (or my inner world) seems, in these disciplines, I find how God desires to be near so that He might heal, mend, guide, discipline, or gift us as He sees fit.

I see a difference in my devotion when I engage in rod/staff disciplines.  I’m not “problem-less”, as if I don’t have difficulties BECAUSE I enact these disciplines.  But I do feel more grounded and sober in mind and heart.  The Shepherd helps me to focus, rest, and trust.

May we experience the rod/staff of disciplined love of God today.

Healthy Practices for Pastoral Leaders

To be in ministry for the long haul, I’m learning that it requires some support, vulnerability, and deep devotion to Jesus for sustaining faithfulness.  Rich Nathan (pastor of 30+ years) lists some great practices.  Check out the source page for more details on each practice.


#1 Build a rock-solid daily personal devotional life with God.
#2 Choose a prayer partner, who is a peer and with whom you can be utterly transparent
#3 If you are married, schedule a weekly date night with your spouse.
#4 Get financial counseling from a professional financial counselor.
#5 Ruthlessly avoid all compromising situations with the opposite sex.
#6 Take care of yourself physically.
#7 Do not confuse knowledge or skills or giftedness for spiritual maturity.
#8 If you are married, take a great marriage inventory with your spouse and have a professional marriage counselor discuss the results with you.
#9 Join a small group (and if married, join with your spouse).
#10 Cultivate the fear of the Lord and a fear of sin.

The 5-7 minute rule of talking about work with your spouse

The 5-7 minute rule of talking about work with your spouse:

In countless counseling sessions, I’ve heard partners share their struggles with the “work conversations” when getting home after a long day. In the workplace setting, there are conflicts, crises, and criticism which takes an emotional toll.

Naturally, a spouse might want to share their work struggles with the partner because they have a safe marriage. But the problem is that the spouse hearing the lament is powerless to do anything about it. He or she can’t help with the issues and there can only be so much “listening” and “empathy” one can give. And usually, the listener doesn’t have an outlet to share the burden or pain.

All marriage partners need allies–friends, peers, support groups–to confide in so that the marriage doesn’t become the only place to share work struggles.

We’ve tried to have a 5-7 minute “talk about work” rule in our home in order to keep it minimal. Typically, the conversation might happen while we’re making dinner together and then there’s a transition of “Enough about my work…how was your day?”

We want to be a safe space for each other and not burden the other with work issues. Instead, focus on decompressing, having some confidants (preferably a therapist, coach, pastor, or trusted friend) to talk with, and using the evening to fill each other’s love tank.

Keep Calm and Quiet


Psalm 131

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

In my 20s and 30s, I often daydreamed of being “great”.  I think we live in a culture that praises heroes and greatness.  We concern ourselves with matters of greatness and big wonder.  We might have thoughts of how we’d run the country, a company, a local city, or implement reform on a national scale.  We say, “Well, I’d do it like this!” and walk off thinking we know what’s best.

It seems that the people who truly effect these great changes are those who have learned to keep calm and quieted their restless hearts.  They’ve learned to listen, observe, and take small steps and actions towards a possible reality/goal.  It’s a slow process.

How do we cultivate a calm and quiet presence?  There are two movements.  The first is to abstain from certain patterns of thinking.  One habit might be to think that we have all the answers and don’t need others to resolve issues.  That’s “haughty and ego proud” thinking.  The second movement might be to practice times of silence and solitude.  I find that it slows me down and helps me to be present to any anxieties or fears that are causing me to be reactive and frenetic.

Reflection Questions

*In the workplace, what might it look like for us to develop practices of calmness and quietude?  Would the company culture allow for it?

*Our culture says to make our voice heard for issues of injustice–and we should.  When are times that we ought to practice calmness and listening?

Leaders Define Reality

Max Depree writes:

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader. Concepts of leadership, ideas about leadership, and leadership practices are the subject of much thought, discussion, writing, teaching, and learning. True leaders are sought after and cultivated. Leadership is not an easy subject to explain. A friend of mine characterizes leaders simply like this: “Leaders don’t inflict pain; they bear pain.” The goal of thinking hard about leadership is not to produce great or charismatic or well-known leaders. The measure of leadership is not the quality of the head, but the tone of the body. The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers. Are the followers reaching their potential? Are they learning? Serving? Do they achieve the required results? Do they change with grace? Manage conflict?

The art of leadership requires us to think about the leader-as-steward in terms of relationships: of assets and legacy, of momentum and effectiveness, of civility and values.

from Leadership Is an Art

I think of the leadership theory and development because if I don’t, I won’t become a good leader.  Plain and simple.  I think leaders need to make more time to reflect on their leadership practices and habits.

Max Depree offers a great reflection of what leaders, who they are, and how they think.

Reflection Questions

*What do think of the statement, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality”?  One can imagine that it might be a struggle to define reality and have to say the hard things sometimes, acknowledge the losses, or admit failure.  How do you cope with reality?

*Reflect on this statement:  “The measure of leadership is not the quality of the head, but the tone of the body. The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers.”  If the body or team is the primary sign of how things are going, how does that shift your leadership tactics?

*What might be one way that you can define reality for your team this week?

Acts 1 Thoughts and Reflections pt.1

As a follower of Jesus, we seek to model His life by attending to His teachings and deeds (see Acts 1:1).  Jesus can be found having meals with disciples and giving them instructions for following Him and about the Kingdom of God.  After He suffered and was raised to life, Jesus made it a point to reveal Himself to the disciples and show them convincing proofs that he was alive (Acts 1:3).

As He is about to ascend, Jesus comforts the disciples with a new promised gift.  I’ve noticed that some people, at the end of their lives, gift others with words of blessing, guidance, or a loving assurance.  This shows a Figure that is aware of the human condition–our propensity to grieve loss.  The Christ Figure shows a deep compassion for His followers.

I think in a cultural setting where we feel pressed by violent acts (the recent Texas church shooting), we seek answers to why this type of violence is increasing.  I don’t have sociological or psychological answers as to why this phenomena is occurring but I do believe that Scripture teaches that God is near us during our losses and is seeking to gift us in our times of deep loss [note:  this is not a post to try and figure out what is happening with mass shootings].

I also believe we struggle, as a culture, to create a sense of long term community with others.  We seek our own comfort in our air conditioned homes, DIY projects, TV/Streamed entertainment, and any other hobbies we might have.  But we don’t make room for intentional shared meals with others so as to build community and connection.  Yet Jesus is constantly doing that.

Lastly, Jesus promises the empowerment and gifting of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses in our community, city, and world.  Jesus teaches and demonstrates a life of wholeness that always involves inner/relational/communal wholeness.  As Miraslov Volf says,

A good nation…
Is one in which all inhabitants are given the conditions, opportunities and the tools to have a flourishing life – that is, a life of righteousness, justice, peace, and joy. (via FB post)

The empowerment of the Spirit and the life Jesus models is a culmination of something I long for.  I can spend the time to host a monthly community dinner, have others over my house that I won’t necessarily benefit from (Luke 14:12-14), and serve others as Christ would–with dignity, respect, and love.

Citizens en La Casa

God’s word speaks most to me when I think about my context, interior life, community, and culture. A theologian friend of mine said that all theology should be done in our context.  It’s where God is meeting us.

I follow the Catholic daily lectionary. It’s usually a passage from the Hebrew testament, a prayer from the book of Psalms (prayer book), a passage from the New Testament, and a Gospel reading. If read each day, you can read the Bible in three years.

Today’s passage:

Ephesians 2:19.21.22
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household…In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

dia girl.jpg

I thought of a story I heard the other day. Sally (pseudonym) works at a local middle school where the “demographics” have been changing.  I asked her more about that and she said, “it’s not the hispanic population that is causing most of the problems.  And when they cause an issue at school, their parents receive a phone call and they immediately do something about.  They apologize and say that it will be handled at home.”  She said that most problems are drugs and sexual activity on campus, and that it’s mostly caused by kids whose parents are uninvolved.  When these parents get a call from the school, their response is, “I’m sure it will all be fine”.  In other words, they dismiss it.  But it’s mostly assumed that it’s the Hispanic population shift that is causing most of the issues.  My heart was overjoyed to hear that Hispanic parents are involved in their children’s lives.

I thought of another conversation I had with a pastor the other day.  He said that his church movement is finding that when Latino’s feel like they have a place at the table and are welcomed, Latino’s respond with gratitude and joy.  I think it’s because Latino’s just want to feel included and wanted.  I know everyone wants that but for many Latino’s, they’re seen as strangers, foreigners, and illegal.  It hurts to hear those words and be treated in that matter.

The politic of the Gospel is that Christ Jesus says we are no longer foreigners, strangers, or illegals.  He calls us His own and makes us feel welcomed, inviting us to be in His home and part of his Casa.

We are also called to participate in the building up of a community where the Spirit of God dwells.  The Spirit gets poured out to all people, thus welcoming us to have a place at the table.

My friend, the other day, challenged me to claim and appreciate my heritage.  I’m tri-cultural:  American, Mexican, Christ follower.  I’ve neglected my Mexican heritage.  It’s painful to think about the kind of shame I’ve felt because I’m Mexican.  I was born in Whittier (near East LA County), grew up in Fullerton (Orange County), and always felt like I was different (in a bad way).  I long to belong.  I long to be known and have a place at the table.  Sometimes ethnic shame, not feeling good enough, or feeling like I’m a tonto have caused me to slip away.

I’m usually one of the few Latino’s gathered at a pastor’s cohorts, in a theology class, or when talking to other executives in business settings.  I don’t blame anybody for that.  I commend them and hope to learn from others as much as I can.  So it feels really good when I step into situations where there are other Latino’s.  It makes me feel like I belong.  That’s why I love visiting Mexico.  It feels like familia.

I write this with tears.  It’s an area I have written much about.  In Christ, I’m no longer a mexican foreigner, stranger, or less than.  I have a place–en la mesa de Cristo, en su Casa.

And so do you!  You have a place.  You’re no longer a stranger.

Tim Keller on the Missional Church

According to an article published by Tim Keller in 2001, the church has lost its privilege (Christendom) in the culture in part for these reasons:

  • cruelty and hypocrisy – “Christian morality without gospel-changed hearts” (Keller)
  • silence of the church over issues of abuse from ruling powers against the weak.

And this decline started in the mid 19th century!!!

Keller points out five ways the Church in N.America can be missional:

  • discourse in the vernacular
    • The missional church avoids sentimental, pompous, ‘inspirational’ talk . Instead we engage the culture with gentle, self-deprecating but joyful irony the gospel creates. Humility + joy = gospel irony and realism.
  • Enter and re-tell the culture’s stories with the gospel
    • “In a missional church preaching and communication should always assume the presence of skeptical people, and should engage their stories, not simply talk about “old times.”  Our culture cares about justice (inclusive) and to be authentic (safe world).
  • Theologically train lay people for public life and vocation
    • “In a ‘missional’ church, the laity needs theological education to ‘think Christianly’ about everything and work with Christian distinctiveness. They need to know: a) what cultural practices are common grace and to be embraced, b) what practices are antithetical to the gospel and must be rejected, c) what practices can be adapted/revised.”
  • Create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive
    • “In general, a church must be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of compassion and social justice than traditional liberal churches and more deeply and practically committed to evangelism and conversion than traditional fundamentalist churches. This kind of church is profoundly ‘counter-intuitive’ to American observers.”
  • Practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level
    • engage with other church and para-church communities so that Christian love and unity can be in full display (i.e. In North County San Diego, a host of church gathers for what they call “One Church”.  It’s a quarterly gathering where there is a sharing of resources and encouragement with one another.  There are also pastoral cohorts that get together on a monthly basis.  Some churches I know are partnering with para-church groups like InterVarsity, FCA).


Life Together Reflections, Ch. 2

The beginning of the second chapter in Life Together is dedicated to a reframing of when “day” begins and ends.  In the Old Testament, the day began in the evening, when we rest and God works.  The day ended at sunset, when darkness begins.

In the New Testament, the day begins Sunday morning at the break of dawn, when Christ Jesus resurrected from the dead and darkness was no longer.

The early morning belongs to the Church of the risen Christ.” p.41

The morning belongs to the Church as we gather for common worship and common reading of the Word, to give thanks and praise to Victorious One.

It feels, so far, like a pastoral letter establishing spiritual disciplines of communal prayer, worship, and devotion.  Bonhoeffer sees the morning as a deep reality of God’s breaking into the now, establishing light out of darkness.  He also sees the morning as the first opportunity to hear the Word that awakens us (p.42).

Therefore, at the beginning of the day let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and first word belong to him to whom our whole life belongs [quotes Eph.5:14]. p.43


All unrest, all impurity, all care and anxiety flee before him. p.43

Let our mornings be filled with gratitude and hope. For darkness passed, and the morning light shines again.

every common devotion should include the word of Scripture, the hymns of the Church, and the prayer of the fellowship.” p.44

“The Psalter is the prayer book of Jesus Christ in the truest sense of the word.  He prayed the Psalter and now it has become his prayer for all time.” p.46

For the BonHof, the Psalms are the prayers of the Christ.  What an imagination to see it like this!

More pastoral insight:  when we pray the Psalms, we pray the prayers of Christ, which reach the heart of God.  In so doing, we pray His prayers, not our own.  We become mediators and intercessors of the prayerful heart of Christ Jesus.  (see p.46)

When we pray collectively as a community, we function as the Body of Christ, which we cannot fulfill as individuals–because we are members of a One Body.  The Psalms are read in fullness only in community.  That’s why when we gather to pray and worship collectively, you may not “feel” connected to the prayer or reading or song.  But we pray it, sing it, proclaim not just for ourselves, but for the other members in our community because we are a Body.  (see p.47)

We pray repetitiously because there is a different, less than holy and life giving repetition that must be drowned out.

“The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.” p.50

BonHoeffer makes a strong case for the reading and studying of the whole of Scripture.  He wants to see what I believe the Catholic church has done for centuries:  a reading of the Psalms, OT passage, NT passage, and Gospel passage.  In as such, we get a fuller sense of the Big Story.  (see p.50-51)

Prayer – The Psalms as Christ’s Prayers
Scripture Reading – OT, Psalm, NT, and Gospel reading for the breadth of the Gospel Narrative
Singing the New Song – The Victorious Song of the Church in gratitude and adoration of the work of Salvation from King Jesus

“The fact that we do not speak it but sing it only expresses the fact that our spoken words are inadequate to express what we want to say, that the burden of our song goes far beyond all human words.  Yet we do not hum a melody; we sing words of praise to God, words of thanksgiving, confession, and prayer.  Thus the music the servant of the Word.”  p.59