Mark Driscoll and the Internet’s Omniscience: A Lesson For Us All

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Mark Driscoll is not having a good year. This past week news broke that 14 years ago, Mark Driscoll had posted regularly to a Mars Hill Church online forum under the moniker “William Wallace II” to troll his own church members. This wasn’t the “forever alone meme” style of trolling; instead it was full of coarse language and hateful speech I’m not comfortable reposting here. Of course this news took the Christian blogosphere, twittersphere, and at least three other spheres by storm. Driscoll is no stranger to controversy. This year alone he was busted for plagiarism, deceitful marketing of his book “Real Marriage”, and imposed a hiatus on himself from social media. There are entire websites dedicated to recounting stories of alleged spiritual abuse by Mark Driscoll, with stories from even those who were his closest friends. There are other sites and social media groups dedicated to the so-called harmful environment of Mars Hill, which generally place the blame for such an environment squarely on Driscoll.

The Slow Falldriscoll

Driscoll rose to fame through the emergent church movement at the beginning of the era of Evangelical blogging. During this time, Driscoll gained a reputation as the “cussing pastor”, with a glimmer of this on display is his famous YouTube sermon clip where he yells to immature men in the audience, “Who the hell do you think you are?!” From there he berates the men for the rest of the clip. After teaching through Song  of Solomon in a manner that was a tad crass, Evangelical leader and Grace Community Church Pastor John MacArthur wrote that Driscoll was not qualified for the office of pastor. That’s not to mention controversy surrounding Driscoll following the Elephant Room event, his hard-line stance on things like video games and the movie Avatar, as well as him claims to prophetic (occasionally sexually graphic) visions and gifts of knowledge. About two years ago, Driscoll departed from the neo-Reformed tribe he had been a part of in lieu of a tribe more like him: influential, non-denominational multi-site mega-pastors such as James MacDonald, Perry Noble, and the like.

Recently, multiple pastors and staffers at Driscoll’s Mars Hill have left, some of who have written lengthy ‘insider’s view’ pieces that are less than complimentary of Driscoll’s leadership style and character. All of this has culminated this week in the removal of Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from the Acts 29 Network, which he co-founded, and the Acts 29 board of directors requesting Driscoll resign his ministry for a time. The list of Driscoll’s offenses and failures go on and on, easily accessible by a simple Google search.

Most of these occasions, with exception of the Elephant Room, was followed by an apology by Driscoll. I agree with Jonathan Merritt, who wrote earlier this week that the radical grace of Christ compels us to grant forgiveness when asked for it. The scandal of the cross and the teachings of Christ is such that when someone asks for forgiveness, we are not allowed the prerogative of judging their motives. We are simply required to forgive and to love.

Still, I think there is something we can learn from the fiasco that has been Mark Driscoll’s ‘tenure of influence’. He has, unfortunately for him, become an example for all pastors regardless of their church size or influence.

Well Thought of By Outsiders

The apostle Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3 are often quoted in discussions about pastors who have failed in the public eye. When it comes to Driscoll, verse 7 is particularly germane. It reads, “Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” Because of the reality of indwelling sin in the believer, we need to realize that every pastor is going to fall short in various ways. Every pastor sins. To pretend that pastors are in some special category of über-righteousness is foolish. They will never be perfect. Still, there is a requirement for elders and pastors, beyond simple striving, that they should be Christ-like.

They should be so Christlike, the text says, that even though we ought to beware “when all men speak well of us” (Luke 6:26), we should still be well thought of by outsiders generally. Wendy Alsup wisely notes that, “If a man is not esteemed outside of his congregation at some level, outside of the Body of Christ at some level, he should not hold the office of elder.” This is not a commentary on someone’s salvation, so much as it is a comment on qualification. God may have qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (Col 1:12) without our being qualified to pastor. There is a terrifying warning that remains: disgrace is the snare of the devil. Not all men escape such snares.

Not long ago, it wasn’t that difficult to be well thought of by outsiders. Pastors with a long, private history of infidelity or insincerity were formerly exposed to the shock and chagrin of their followers. How could no one see this coming? Were there any indicators? In the era of the internet, a façade of public holiness with a private life marked by sin is not longer a possibility.

The Internet Never Forgetsclear-history

As a millennial, the ever-present reality of the internet’s permanence is a burden that can not be ignored. Every tweet. Every Facebook post. Every blog post. Every online insult. Every trolling comment. Every picture. It’s still there. Posts that have long since been deleted, sites that are now defunct, browsing histories that seem to have vanished have not truly been deleted, disappeared, or erased from possible discovery. The internet is forever. Mark Driscoll is learning that lately. How many more of us will learn that same lesson, especially those of us who have hardly ever lived without a large online footprint. For some, there are or will be those who desire to discover those online missteps and sinful wanderings. Where have you been?

It’s scary to think that someone could expose my every misstep online. I’ve been using the internet almost my entire life. I have never really known a world without it. It’s sickening to think my high school decisions are discoverable. It’s easy to long for the days where I could hide. It’s easy to lament the loss of a day when privacy was a reality.

God Sees More Than Search History

It’s harder to realize that those days of hiding secret sins never really existed. The internet is the closest we have come to a tangible omniscient thing in our lives. It’s not that the internet knows all— this isn’t a God-like omniscience. This is a pagan omniscience that can see your every keystroke and recover evidence of failures. It makes ads based on your browsing history (Anyone else glad Puritan Hard Drive has stopped stalking them?). For those with the will and desire to make it so, it can be the tool to your downfall. Could Driscoll have known 14 years ago that someone could easily find his lewd, vitriolic rants that were seemingly anonymous and bring them to the fore? Surely not.

The greatest reality of it all, however, is that there is and always has been an omniscience far beyond the internet. The all-seeing eye of God knows perfectly not only the keystroke of the finger, but the desires of the heart. He knows the thoughts, cruel and careless, and judges them fairly. In Matthew 12:36, the Scripture tells us that we will be judged on the day of judgment for “every careless word”. Nothing escapes his sight. No foul thought goes unnoticed. No sin goes unpunished.

It would be easy for Mark Driscoll to simply wish that these words had never been discovered. It would be easy for us all, likewise, to simply hope that our failings and foul hearts will simply go unnoticed and outsiders will think well of us based on the façade we’ve created. But we shouldn’t wish this. Instead, we should bring darkness to light. When the apostles tells us to, “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them,” (Eph. 5:11) that includes our own unfruitfulness. Darkness is not expelled when it is contained. Darkness dies by the power of the light. Repentance for Driscoll, indeed for all of us, is not to hope that we are never discovered, but to wish our sins never were. It is to agree with God about our failure, and utterly forsake them.

All the same, we must realize that the God who remembers every sin is the God who, “while we were still sinners”, died for us. As we strive to live lives worthy of the gospel of Jesus, we should act honorably and morally not out of fear that someone may see but as those who know that God sees all. Fear of the Lord should accompany our every keystroke. For many of us, our Twitter archive, Facebook timeline, or Google history exists as a tangible sign of our certain condemnation apart from Christ. In Christ, all is forgiven. The reality of our sure salvation, however, should drive us away from the snare of the devil and the disgrace that is only a click away. Instead, we ought to ask forgiveness where needed. We should bear fruits in keeping with repentance, treating those around us with charity, respect, and the kindness and love of Christ. We don’t do this to avoid the shame of possible exposure at the hands of the internet. We do this because Christ bore our shame. In the fear of the Lord, tweet.

A Simple “Don’t Enter Ministry If….”

Kevin Hart talks to Conan about rent money and Bible reading. It’s a funny story, but the conclusion is pretty sad. Don’t enter ministry if you never want to deal with people like Kevin Hart. A lot of people will want our time, our generosity, and our love without ever desiring to know our God or His word. If we don’t have the heart to patiently and prayerfully bear with people with this kind of attitude, we don’t need to be pastors.

Scripture Memory For Everyone: The Verse Box

This is my second post on Scripture Memory. In my last post on Scripture memory (over a year ago!), I gave you 8 reasons why you should work hard at Scripture Memory. It would be instructive to you to read that post first by clicking here. At the end of that post, there is a video made by my college pastor, Trace Hamiter, explaining how to do Scripture memory through a verse box. What I want to do in this post is not restate what I’ve already said but instead to explain to to you how to build a verse box. This method of Scripture memory has completely change how I think of Scripture memory. It’s no longer intimidating. It makes sense. I have a mission. I have a plan. It’s easy.

So, without further ado, here’s how you get started on a ‘Verse Box’ and begin memorizing the Word of God.

**Note: this method can also be used for catechesis. I have friends who are moms that have found this very helpful in teaching their kids Scripture and catechism.
***Some preacher friends of mine have used separate boxes for illustrations, quotes, etc. I have done so myself.

Supplies for the Box

All of the following can be bought at Target or Wal-Mart (cheaper Bibles and pens, too!) or whatever fair-trade, Gluten-free local store you shop at.

1. BIBLE

First thing’s first. If you’re going to memorize the Scriptures, you’re going to need a Bible. Here’s an important rule here: Memorize the translation you use! Do not memorize everything in the NASB if you never read anything but the NIV. I would recommend you memorize in either the ESV or HCSB if you aren’t committed to a translation, but it’s up to you. I do not recommend you use the KJV (archaic language) or the NASB (though an excellent translation, the language can be a bit wooden in many cases which makes memorization harder).

 

2. NOTECARDS 

For this method of Scripture memorization, you’re going to need 3×5 notecards (not bigger, not smaller). 3×5, not 5×8.

3. NOTECARD DIVIDERS 

Though not needed immediately, these are going to come in handy later (after you’ve become a walking Bible database). In phase 2, you’ll need 6-7. In phase 3, you’ll need 30.

4. Index Card Box

You’ll want to get a sturdy index card box. See mine below. Duct tape label is optional, but I believe duct tape makes literally everything better. I leave that between you and the Spirit.

Alternative Index Card Holder. These are good and portable. They don’t hold as many cards, however, and break easy. If you start with this, buy 5, not 1. It will tear up.

 

 

6. Main Section Dividers

Main section dividers are for your every day Scripture memory. These are the most important things to get. A typical start would be green in the front, yellow in the middle, and red at the back.

Alternative section dividers: These are my section dividers. Regardless, have 3 dividers which indicate 1) Verses you know word-perfect, 2) verses you are comfortable with but haven’t nailed yet or verses whose references you can’t remember, 3) Verses you don’t know at all or hardly know.

7. A Good Pen

Everyone needs a good pen for these. For my part, I use the Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point fountain pen (see below). This is, without a doubt, overkill. Whatever you choose, make sure it doesn’t bleed through the cards. Try to have a certain pen that you use with consistency. I generally discourage doing cards in different colors.

Using the Box for Scripture Memory

Phase 1:

Step 1: Dividers

Put your Main section dividers into the box. Cards go behind (or in front of — it’s up to you) these accordingly. Thee main dividers indicate the following:

  • Green: These are verses you know. For a verse to be considered ‘known’ you must be able to recite it perfectly, word-for-word with no stumbling. you must know the exact reference. Reading the reference you can give the verse, reading the verse you can give the reference. You can say it fast, slow, whatever. You know it. However well you probably know John 3:16, that’s how well you want to know these. (This is my ‘Got it!’ tab)
  • Yellow: These are verses you kinda know. You may even reference these verses in your daily life. You still mess up some of the words, forget the reference, or get things mixed up. Maybe you need the first word to get started. That’s ok! No big deal. Keep them behind this tab until you nail them. When you first start out, you will probably have the most verses here. (This is my ‘Meh.’ tab)
  • Red: These are verses you don’t know. Some of them are verses you’ve just started to memorize. Some of them are verses you don’t know at all. When you do you time with the Lord and read a verse you want to memorize, write it on a card and stick it here. Even if you don’t get to it for weeks, this tab will hold it for you. This is where cards go when you first start to learn them and it’s where they stay until you are familiar with them.

Step 2: The Cards
Every Scripture Memory Card should be handwritten. Part of the memorization process is writing the cards, reading them in your own writing. If you have bad handwriting, slow down and take your time. I would insist that you write them, though. Trust me on this.
I don’t advise that you do more than 2-3 verses on a single card at a time when memorizing in isolation. I make exceptions for this. I memorized Ephesians in college using this method and I memorized 2 Cor. 4-6  two years ago using this method. When I did those, I left all the cards in order regardless of how well I knew them and each card was full. Except times like these, however, try not to do 4-5 verses. Practically, a bunch of cards that are super long can be discouraging because they take a long time to memorize. You may work weeks with little progress and quit. Instead, try shorter cards with only a verse or two and you’ll move very quickly! There are TONS of great verses to memorize before getting to chunks anyway. Let’s get started on those cards.
The front of the card should have a reference:
The back of the card should have the verse written out. Don’t cram the card.
Here’s a trick I learned from my friend Joe for cards that are really hard to learn. If you’re working on a single verse that you just can’t seem to make progress on, give it a shot. Write the first letter of every word and include the punctuation on the front of the card with the reference.That way, looking at the reference, you can work your way through the verse with what you know and familiarize yourself with the word order.
Romans 13:14 is where I had to do this. Those last few words leading into “to gratify its desires” always gave me trouble.
Step 3: The Verses 
You need somewhere to start.You’ll want to start your box with 30-50 verses– don’t freak out! I know that’s a lot. Remember, most of them go behind the “Don’t Know’ and “Meh” (or yellow) tab. The first thing you need to do is figure out which verses you already know perfectly. John 3:16. Romans 5:8. Romans 3:23. Genesis 1:1. It doesn’t matter what they are. Write them down and put them behind the green tab. Starting with an empty green tab (Got It!) is discouraging. If you don’t know any, I’m so glad you’re starting! Odds are, however, you know at least a few. Get them in the green.
Next, find new verses to add.
Here’s a helpful list of verses I often give to people: VerseBox_Starter
Otherwise, Dr. Tim Beougher, Evangelism professor at Southern Seminary recommends these verses.
Step 4: The Box
Put the box together. Put in your divider tabs. Put in your notecards. I put my notecards in front of the tab. Why? At the back I put about 50-100 blank notecards to add more stuff. (Also, I suggest buying good notecards. Cheap ones bleed and wear out.)
What now?  Memorize Scripture!
Every day is Scripture memory day. When you wake up, when you do your quiet time, before bed, during breakfast….you decide. But every day, find time to memorize scripture.
You can pick verses just for Evangelism, just for theology, just to fight sin, just for anything, really! One important note I will make is to not take things out of context. For example, memorizing Jeremiah 29:11 out of context may be unhelpful since you are not an Israeli exile or if you don’t understand God’s wonderful plan for you in Christ includes suffering for his name (Phil 1:27). Romans 13:14 is fine out of context. Not all verses are. Make sure you understand what you are memorizing!
There are 3 steps in your Scripture memory process:
  1. Go through every verse behind the green tab. It’s so incredibly easy to lose the verses you ‘know’. Don’t believe me? Did you ever learn a foreign language in high school? Do you know it now? Probably not. This is the same principle. You have to keep doing those verses! Every day, if you do nothing else (even if you don’t get to any new verses or ‘yellow tab’ verses) do these.
  2. If you have made it through green tab verses you know and have time, try to make it through your yellow tab verses. Don’t feel the burden to do all of them. That’s great if you have time, but even better is quality time with 4-5 of them. Do these until you can move them to the green tab. No pressure!
  3. If you’ve run through all the green tab verses and moved many yellow tab verses to the green, grab 2 or 3 from the red tab and start new verses.

You will find it helpful in your Scripture memory time to pray through the verses. This has been the most important use of Scripture Memory for me. For more information on praying Scripture, go here.

Also, meditation on the verses is key. Here is what you need to know about meditation.

John Piper has a helpful sermon on this.

For a practical guide to meditation, go here.

You may struggle with legalism on these. DON’T! Scripture Memory is a tool. It is commanded and it is an encouragement, but it does not and will never give you right standing before God. Don’t trust in how many days in a row you did Scripture memory for your self worth. Donald Whitney, one of the world’s leading authorities on spiritual disciplines, has written a helpful article on resisting legalism in spiritual disciplines. Read it here.

Phase 2:

How can there be more? Well there is! The good news about this Scripture Memory box is that it works. In fact, I have never met anyone EVER for whom this did not work. I doubted it and refused to do it for over a year. Then, struggling in my stubborn way, I switched to this and all of a sudden I was zooming through verses!

So what do you do when you have 50 verses behind the green tab, 40 behind the yellow tab, and 40 behind the red tab (Trust me– this will happen)? MORE TABS! This is where the 7 dividers come in handy.

Adding New Tabs

Once you have 30-40 cards memorized, the green tab can become burdensome to go through. Add 6-7 tabs (Some folks exclude Sunday), one for each day of the week. Once a card has been in the ‘green tab’ for a month or so, move it behind a ‘day tab’. Then, when you do your Scripture Memory time every day, do what is behind the green tab and add the ones assigned to that day. Try to keep the day tabs even so you don’t have 10 on Monday an 2 on Thursday. Even them out. This way you see every verse once a week.

Phase 3:

Adding Even More Tabs!
I don’t have a picture of phase 3. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but I know plenty of folks who have. One friend of mine has multiple boxes, because this method has been so effective.
In Phase 3, keep your ‘day tabs’ and add tabs numbered 1 to 30. Yes, thta’s a tab for every day of the month. At this point, Scripture Memory time becomes ‘green tab’, ‘day tab’, and ‘day of the month tab’. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take that much more time. This will come once you have hundreds of verses. Don’t start the ‘day of the month’ tabs until you have 150 or more tabs behind your ‘day tabs’. I promise you, however, that if you stick to this you will get there within 2 years. Because of my switch to ‘large chunk’ memorization, my individual verse box memorizing slowed significantly. Stick to it, and you’ll know hundreds soon enough.

Conclusion

Remember, this isn’t the Holiness Olympics. You aren’t gaining right standing with God by memorizing Scripture. You are, however, equipping yourself to recite the Scripture when you are discouraged. You are equipping yourself to use these verses in Evangelism. You are equipping yourself to have a biblical theology. You are equipping yourself to know God more truly according to how he has revealed himself.

What are you waiting for?

Start memorizing!

I Am Not the Holy Spirit

This post originally appeared at Borrowed Light.

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There’s something to be said for not saying anything.

In a church culture where cliches, cool quips, and candor are the currency, silence is most often seen as only deficiency. Add in a passion for theology, a thirst to see people grow in Christ, and a sprinkle of immaturity and the problem multiplies. Silence isn’t golden.

Except sometimes it is.

1 Corinthians 2:2-7 reads:

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

Paul doesn’t represent the quivering silence of cowardice here. Rather, he represents the silence of wisdom. To the unwise, he is silent on lofty matters. To the childish, he delivers food for children. He doesn’t choke them on big thoughts and force feed them epistemology. No– Paul is like the true shepherd Jesus. He gives the children that pure spiritual milk of Jesus. And like Jesus, he does so with humility. It’s with “fear and trembling” that Paul delivers to his people the word of God.

And yet, weak as he was, there was power in it. There was power that comes from God, “the demonstration of the Spirit”. Paul didn’t withhold wisdom from the wise (1 Corinthians 2:7), but he didn’t impose it on the unwise. Rather, he gave them what they needed: Christ and him crucified.

Have you ever been in a Bible study where you dominated the conversation? Have you ever gone home and thought, “I wish I had said less”? Worse yet, have you ever thought, “I wish others had said more?” Many of us who are pastors and ministers of various kinds fail in this way. In my life I have often failed to nourish those who are children in the faith. I have often run off at the mouth like I was giving a theological treatise. I have often told long stories about God working in my life that built myself up but didn’t build others up much at all.

What hope is there for those of us who struggle like that? What can we do?

Trust in God. A friend of mine taught me to go to a Bible study saying this to myself: “I am not the Holy Spirit.” When you know that you aren’t the Holy Spirit, you know that God doesn’t need you to speak for others to learn. When you know that you aren’t the Holy Spirit, you can begin to trust the Holy Spirit to teach others.

That’s not to say that you won’t say anything. The Holy Spirit of God does not produce cowardice or a spirit of fear that we may say too much. But the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. When we trust the Spirit and love our neighbor, we see what Paul taught the Corinthians: what is best for the church isnot that everyone always exercises their gifts whenever they feel like, even if those gifts are teaching or prophecy.

So, let’s be humble. Let’s work hard to see our small groups and discipleship with young believers thrive. And let’s relinquish our pride and trust the Spirit to point to Christ. He will teach us what to say.

How the Gospel of Jesus Christ Creates True Flourishing

Complementarianism is often misrepresented and caricatured. If you’re reading this, you may not even know what that giant word means. Essentially, complementarianism is the belief that God created men and women to serve in equal but different roles in the home and in the church (contra egalitarianism or feminism).

Though not an extended verse-by-verse argument, I thought this short message from Russell Moore at the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s National Conference, “How the Gospel of Jesus Christ Creates True Flourishing,” was a helpful summary of the view. Also, his talk serves as a corrective for some who think their chauvinism is Biblical.

I pray that God stirs you to study the issue for yourself with an open Bible and a prayerful heart.

More information about the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood can be found HERE.

All of the CBMW National Conference videos can be found online HERE.