Oct 212014

timthumb.phpReligious composition by country…

The worlds greatest fears, mapped by country…

Is America uniquely under God?

How does the Bible define a Christian?

Are church boards biblical?

The power of God in pain…

Seven good things about the Houston subpoena situation…

Five takeaways about religion and politics…

A tale of targeting…

How well do we know our Bibles?

The beautification of violence in films…

Wenatchee the Hatchet has the scoop on Driscoll’s salaries…

The evangelical political strategy for 2016…

Rethinking youth ministry…

The first church of authenticity and trends…

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of using the media to control the narrative…the story that is being presented for public consumption.

I noted that Mark Driscoll had lost control of the media, thus he was unable to frame a favorable narrative about his situation.

In this video from his “surprise” appearance, he takes the opportunity to immediately “reframe” the narrative.

YouTube Preview Image

Driscoll reframes the narrative from being the victimizer to being the victim.

If his stories are true it is shameful that some would react in that manner…we do live in an angry age.

The point is that he chose to tell those stories and they were told with a purpose in mind…to reframe the narrative.

Expect more to come…

Oct 202014

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. Now that we know that the Mars Hill elders found Mark Driscoll “guilty of persistent sin “and had created a biblical process of discipline and restoration, we need to exhort them to finish the process biblically. Because Driscoll chose to resign instead of following the process, the only option left is to excommunicate him. He should be put outside the fellowship of the church and barred from the Lords table until such time as he repents and submits to church discipline. This should be made public…”told to the church” so that all are aware and other churches can honor the actions of the elders. This is what Driscoll and his lieutenants preached and did to many attendees in the name of love…so let it be done to him. Let church discipline do it’s intended work…which is not to punish, but to bring an unrepentant sinner to repentance and restoration.

2. The funniest thing I heard all weekend was Paul Smith saying he was starting a blog…because I’ve heard what he has said about bloggers in the past.

3. It falls to my sorry lot to identify all the players in the Chuck Smith family scandal so that you, the reader, can wade through the cesspool with some measure of understanding.

The first set of players are Brian and Cheryl Brodersen.

Cheryl was Chuck Smith’s youngest child and according to many, his favorite.

This did not sit well with her siblings and has been a bone of contention for decades.

She has a very successful women’s ministry at CCCM.

Brian was an associate with CCCM for many years before taking over the senior pastors position and has been a target for those who expected his ascension for almost as many.

The second set of players are Janette Smith Manderson and her brother Jeff.

Manderson brought the lawsuit, but most insiders believe Jeff is the person driving the bus.

This is a financial and family matter, not a theological or ecclesiastical one, in my opinion.

The third set of players are those who want Brodersen deposed for theological and ecclesiastical reasons.

They want things to remain as they were circa 1980 or so and see themselves as the true disciples of Chuck Smith.

They loathe the changes Brodersen has made at CCCM and the direction that he’s driving the Calvary Chapel brand.

Some in this camp also lust for the power, resources, and influence that comes with Costa Mesa.

Therefore, sets two and three have become strange bedfellows with one common goal…to evict the Brodersens from Calvary Chapel.

Now, I have no little experience in reporting on issues with the second and third groups.

It’s never been easy and it was often downright dirty.

So… when you see anonymous people posting dirt about the Brodersens without any evidence being presented, take it with a whole bag of salt.

When you see posters like “victorious” being accused of being on Brodersens payroll, understand that such lies are the tactics often employed to discredit any opposition.

Here’s one fact you can bank on…no one involved with escape this mess whole…and the most damage will be to the legacy of Chuck Smith.

4. Make an note…the people in charge of the media are the people with the power. Driscoll lost access to all of Mars Hills social media and lost control of the narrative. The Brodersen opponents have no access to CC media and are left with making Youtube videos on an iPhone and Facebook. Advantage, Brodersen.

5. The victims in these situations are the people who are fed conflicting narratives full of half truths and speculation who are left not knowing what or who to believe. Many will be led into sin and confusion by people fighting over an earthly kingdom.

6. I am not unaware that most who click here today will not be looking for edification, but for dirt. This weighs heavily on my soul.

7. I’ve been asked what I think about the Ebola crisis. I’d like to answer intelligently, but almost all the information was politicized so fast that separating fact from fiction is almost impossible.

8. The absolutely tragic fact about both the Driscoll and Smith family stories is that everybody involved claims Christ and this is the best they can come up with…

9. The rains have come to Oregon and I’m grateful for God’s provision while missing the sunshine.

10. I’m more grateful for the few true friends I have in my life daily than the hundreds of cyber ones I have on Facebook… I’m not sure some folks know the difference.

I’m offline more than on these days, but I can be contacted at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com 

Oct 182014

thumbnail.aspxGiver of all our years, ruler of all our times, for this beginning – and all beginnings, we give you thanks.

We pray for energy and freedom and courage proper to a beginning, and ask for your gifts.

While we begin, we acknowledge that we are not, here, not ever, at a beginning.

Before us were our mothers and fathers;

before us were our teachers and pastors;


before us were many scholars who worked hard and saw much,

before us were fanatics who have run great risks, and have kept the text for us.

And before all of them, you you in your wisdom and your glory,

you in your power and your mercy.

We make our beginning in the presence of all these witnesses,

we make our beginning from you and toward you and in you,

that our work and study should be as praise for you,

You who give all our years,

You who rule all our times.

Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 66). Kindle Edition.

Oct 172014

IMG_0027Lord, this cat you gave me… she just doesn’t listen.

I told her the rains were coming…she goes out anyway and comes back soaked.

I told her not to lay in weeds…yet everyday she comes in and expects me to pull all the stickers out of her fur….from laying in the weeds.

I told her that as much as it’s up to her to be at peace with all cats…yet she expects me to tend to her wounds from the fights she is always in.

She embarrasses me in front of the neighbors by instigating disputes with their cats…she thinks she owns the whole block.

She is constantly doing what she ought not to do and suffering the consequences.

Worse, she seems to blame all her misfortunes on me…at least she expects me to deal with all the results of her disobedience.

I always do, but she never seems to learn.

Furthermore, Lord…she has never missed a meal, but when she’s hungry she yowls as if she hasn’t had a meal in weeks.

She makes it sound as if I’m a negligent and cruel father.

The truth is that I always feed her and even give her treats.

Just wanted you to know…

To top it all off, she is often distant and ignores me until she wants attention or me to provide something.

This cat makes me feel used.

Sometimes I wonder if she loves me, or just loves what I can give her.

It’s a pretty one sided relationship.

Despite all of this, I love the cat and I’ve chosen to keep her.

Lord, that makes no sense, but I know you’ll understand…


Make your own application…



Oct 162014

imagesMark Driscoll’s resignation is both a victory and a loss.

The tyrant has been felled, but the truth and the larger Body of Christ have not been served.

The choice Driscoll faced was between acting as a corporate leader or the leader of a church.

In the corporate world, you cut your losses, protect your resume, and move on to the next opportunity.

In the church, there is supposed to be repentance, restitution, and restoration.

This was a corporate resignation.

The wounded and abused have not been validated, the wrongs have not been confessed or addressed, and there was no opportunity to forgive and restore.

If Mark Driscoll really wanted to “make Jesus famous” he had a golden opportunity to do so.

Jesus is famous for forgiving sins and restoring broken people…the only requirements are confession and repentance.

Driscoll could have modeled how that works.

He could have lived the Gospel in front of his people.

Had he chosen to do so…to honestly and humbly deal with his sin and work through a biblical process with his church…I believe grace would have flowed like a river.

The world that has watched this debacle unfold could have seen how Christ makes a difference in the lives of His people.

Those who have suffered at his hand could have been comforted and restored.

The financial and ethical issues could have been addressed and resolved.

The local Body could have been healed.

People could have seen the grace and mercy of Jesus at work in a leader and believed they could receive it too…it would have empowered the Gospel to thousands.

That… would have been a true biblical “victory” that honored Christ.

Instead the Body is split, the wounded must heal on their own, and others will clean up the mess.

Driscoll remains in his sins and the corporate model of “church” has survived another scandal.

Jesus wept.

Oct 152014

Screen-shot-2013-12-04-at-7.18.39-PM-620x343It’s way too early to assess this, but I have a few thoughts on the matter.

First, I don’t buy the spin.



There is no repentance or brokenness in the resignation letter, rather it is a platform for him to clearly state that he was not biblically disqualified according to his board.

This accomplishes two things.

Sources say that he receives a years salary in a settlement if he were to leave without cause.

It also sets up any future endeavors he may wish to pursue.

Furthermore, I don’t believe that he just woke up this morning and decided it was in everyones best interests if he were to leave.

Everything I know about situations like this points to a fear of further disclosures.

There was much more to this decision and we may or may not find out what it was that pushed him over the top.

In any event, I expect him back, back quickly, and many of us are looking at Orange County, CA…that “mission field” that everyone wants a piece of.

This resignation may be a harbinger of things to come…of a change in the landscape of American evangelicalism.

Driscoll’s resignation was a long time coming…I wrote my first articles about his ways in 2007 when social media as we know it was a toddler.

Social media and negative press wasn’t and isn’t enough to make these sort of regime changes.

Social media is dependent on sources and sources have to come from the inside.

What tipped this battle was that insiders came forth, by name, and affirmed what the social media were saying.

That, along with the mountain of evidence and the pile of bodies that resurrected behind the bus were too much for the PR experts to overcome.

To simplify my thesis, it’s now been proven that the masses can topple a tyrant if enough of them stand together and the cause is righteous.

That…is the big takeaway from today.

Trust me when I say that some tyrants understand that now…




Oct 152014

daddydriscollMark Driscoll has resigned as pastor of Mars Hill church.

The resignation letter:

October 14, 2014

Michael Van Skaik

Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability

Mars Hill Church

Dear Michael:

By God’s grace I have pastored Mars Hill Church for 18 years. Today, also by God’s grace, and with the full support of my wife Grace, I resign my position as a pastor and elder of Mars Hill. I do so with profound sadness, but also with complete peace.

On August 24th I announced to our Mars Hill family of churches that I had requested a leave of absence from the pulpit and the office for a minimum of six weeks while a committee of elders conducted a formal review of charges made against me by various people in recent times. Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me. I want to thank you for assuring Grace and me that last Saturday that I had not disqualified myself from ministry.

You have shared with us that this committee spent more than 1,000 hours reviewing documents and interviewing some of those who had presented charges against me. You have also shared with me that many of those making charges against me declined to meet with you or participate in the review process at all. Consequently, those conducting the review of charges against me began to interview people who had not even been a party to the charges.

I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit. As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”

Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry. Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996. I will gladly work with you in the coming days on any details related to our separation.

Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill. Grace and I pledge our full support in this process and will join you in praying for God’s best for this, His church, in the days and years ahead. Grace and I would also covet your prayers for us as we seek God’s will for the next chapter of our lives. Therefore, consider this written notice of my voluntary termination of employment.

Finally, it would be my hope to convey to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor Jesus Christ who has always been only good to us.


Pastor Mark Driscoll

From Mars Hill:

From Mars Hill Church:
On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.
As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.
While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings. In that capacity, we believe it appropriate to publicly mention the following:
We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
We found some of the accusations against Pastor Mark to be altogether unfair or untrue.
Other charges had been previously been addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly. Indeed, he had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.
We commend Mark for acting upon the vision God gave him to start Mars Hill Church and for his ministry of faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years. We commit to pray for him, for Grace, and for their children as they transition from ministry at Mars Hill Church.
We would ask for patience as we now make plans for the first transition of pastoral leadership in the history of Mars Hill Church. We have asked Pastor Dave Bruskas to serve as the primary teaching pastor while we work on long-term plans and decisions. Our elders and board members will work closely with the church staff to support the ongoing operations of Mars Hill in the days and months ahead.
Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. While he can speak to his decision as he chooses, we would point to just two things from his letter. He noted that he had concluded “it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church.” Secondly, he specifically wanted to convey “to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family, how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, who has always been only good to us.”
Mars Hill Board of Overseers
Michael Van Skaik
Larry Osborne
Jon Phelps
Matt Rogers

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