Monthly Archives: March 2014



I post this the day before April Fools Day so you will know I am not joking by the speculations below.

I’m sure you’ve heard the question before.  Here are some possibilities:

301,655,172 (According to Talmudic scholars)

297,814,995,628,536,548,496,165,479,368,800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (According to seventeenth-century German Jesuit Gaspar Schott)

Source: Divine Fury by Darrin McMahon, p. 256.






Pondering World Vision’s recent decision and reversal.  It will be interesting to see how they continue to navigate this issue.  The waters of the culture are getting pretty choppy.  Courage, grace under pressure, and discernment required…for all of us!




On Jan. 24 of this year, I posted about my terrific find at a local bookstore here in Austin.  Just before Christmas I was browsing the shelves of our local Half Price bookstore.  The first shelves I typically go to are the dollar discount ones.  My eyes landed on a biography of H.L. Mencken.  I knew some about the famous journalist, but thought the biography looked quite good.  And it was tough to turn down a beautiful hardback for $1.00.

I was thumbing through the biography and out falls two letters from Mencken.  I couldn’t believe it.  A collectible store in Baltimore (Mencken’s home town) told me they were worth $400 and that they would pay me $200 for them. 



As Americans, we take many things for granted.  For example, we tend to think the answer to poverty in developing nations is getting them adequate resources.  Of course, things like food and medicines are badly needed.  But there is something more foundational that we tend to miss.


Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley are close friends.  Sir Charles declares openly his love for Jordan.

Barkley thinks Jordan has a big problem, and one that is not going away anytime soon.  Simply put, Jordan has no one who is willing to do anything but fawn over him.  Jordan is too powerful for anyone to tell him what he needs to hear.  As a result, Jordan has habitually made stupid mistakes as a basketball executive.

Sir Charles has something to teach us Christians: We should not fear man (Isa. 2:22).  Isaiah tells us to “Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?”  We also must remember the nature of biblical love.  Prov. 27:5,6 is instructive: “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

Does Mark Driscoll have these kinds of friends?  Do we?



“I think ironically American evangelicals often seem to be more followers of Benjamin Franklin than they are of Jonathan Edwards.  They [evangelicals] admire practicality, friendliness, moralisms, easy formulas, and quantifiable results.  And while these Franklin-esque traits aren’t all bad they sometimes contribute to evangelical superficiality.  And we all know they are the equivalent of spiritual purveyors of junk food that have long capitalized on evangelicalisms’ market-driven economy.”

Marsden went on to say he had gone by a church sign the previous year during Fourth of July which proclaimed, “The last four letters in American are I can.”

George Marsden, “The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards,” Beeson Divinity School, Nov. 12, 2004.

HT to Thomas Kidd (aka Tommy) for bringing this terrific lecture to my attention.!/swx/pp/media_archives/99668/episode/47187


I have been around many leaders.  Some I’ve worked with, some I’ve interviewed, and some are friends.  All are human, yet the ones willing to speak tough truths, especially within their own organizations or companies, is sadly too small.

The tragic and sordid stories about Mark Driscoll have been tough to digest. As discouraging as those have been, it is the overwhelming silence of men in Christian leadership I find most disheartening.  Carl Trueman has written many important pieces on this topic, and recently penned “Mark Driscoll’s Problem, and Ours.”  The pieces Carl started writing late last year for Ref 21 were never mentioned on any of the big blogger sites.  Carl’s recent piece in First Things now has over four thousand Facebook postings.  Any popular Reformed bloggers or tweeters linking to it?  None that I have found.

With respect to the leaders, I was hoping for at least one to say they were talking to Driscoll, but felt it inappropriate to divulge the specifics.  And then to ask for our prayers.  I am amazed that no one did that.  It would have quelled much of the controversy. Not all of it to be sure, but much of it.

More candidly, I imagine there might be someone who could honestly say one of the following:

I was pragmatic and it simply clouded my better judgment.

I did not want to be the first to speak, so kept waiting.  It turns out everyone decided to wait.  Plus, I remember John MacArthur as a lone voice raising concerns about Driscoll’s approach, and he got marginalized for speaking up.  The price of speaking up, especially within one’s own organization, is costly, and I simply didn’t want to pay it.

I protected my theological tribe, even when I had nagging doubts it was the right thing to do.

I lacked courage. I feared man more than God. Fearing man is definitely a snare.

I got snookered into simply “believing the best” because Mark Driscoll is orthodox in doctrine.  I then remembered a lesson from church history: The Apostolic Fathers were as concerned about schismatics as they were about heretics.  Schismatics can be thoroughly orthodox in their doctrine, but still destructive to the church.

I wanted to be buddies with other leaders in the Gospel Coalition and T4G so did not want to step on their toes.  I am painfully aware of how idolatrous that became.

Finally, let it be known that the author of this piece is a sinner. He has learned, and is learning, that no criticism is free from self-serving motives.  We live in a fallen world and take our own corruption wherever we go.  But our sin should never be an excuse for failing to embark on the messy, yet important task of calling others to repentance.  We model the glorious and godly tension in Gal. 6:1 when we do so.