concerns about mark driscoll, mars hill church and the acts 29 network

note: i’d like to preface this by simply saying: i didn’t go out looking for problems. i read a blog post, and something felt wrong. so i kept reading. and the more i read, the more i saw that something was seriously wrong. at least, serious to me. i spent many years respecting mark driscoll as a bible teacher and a pastor. i respected his direct approach, and the fact that he seemed to have a view of christian masculinity that respected christian women while still being biblical. i defended the man. i enjoyed his series on song of solomon.

i didn’t go out looking for reasons to dislike him. i almost wish i’d never found them. then i would be able to go to an acts 29 church without reservation. it’s hard enough to find a church out there without eliminating a whole group of them as contenders in one fell swoop. 

but i did find this information. and i can’t ignore it.

the purpose of this post is simply to provide information and brief mention of why that information concerns me. it’s already a mile long without my in-depth thoughts on the matter. i may post more about my thoughts later.

at this point, if you are reading this, i’d just like you to check out these articles and see what you think for yourself.

so, lately a lot of stuff has come up about mark driscoll and mars hill church. stuff that really concerns me. stuff that i think is bad for the church. i think that the consequences could be devastating in a number of areas:

  • mark has a lot of visibility in the world and his work and ministry reflect Christ to the world.
  • it seems like there is potential for a lot of christians to be hurt by some of the things he is writing/saying or by his methods of ministry–either for those attending his church or those that attend churches pastored by men that look to him as an example.
  • there are over 400 acts 29 network churches across the united states,  plus more around the world.  acts 29 was led by mark driscoll and it’s current director is a staff pastor at mars hill church.  that’s 400 pastors in the US alone that are looking to mars hill for leadership. if there are big problems at the root (mars hill) of the tree (acts 29), then fruit of the tree (the acts 29 churches) is going to have big problems.

some of the things i’ve read really horrify me. the last two churches i’ve attended have been part of the acts29 network. God has done amazing things for me through acts29, but i’m concerned that membership in a group that is led by driscoll signifies approval of the man’s methods and message. for me, the things i’ve read in the last few weeks make it crystal clear that i can’t approve of his message or methods, most especially about leadership accountability.

a friend asked me to repost some articles that brought these issues to light for me and that’s the purpose of this post. i don’t want to argue with anyone or offend anyone. happy to discuss with respect for one another, though.

these are the original blog posts i read that raised concerns for me about driscoll’s latest book real marriage:

you can read the first chapter of real marriage online for free. on page 29 of the document in that link, you read this

“I have stood in line, where Grace has joined me when she was able, around the nation and the world, talking for hours with hundreds of thousands of couples.”

this might sound small to some of you reading this, but it jumped out at me and was a big deal. hundreds of thousands of couples. that’s a lot of couples. a LOT of couples. technically i would argue that hundreds of thousands is at least 200,000 thousand, but to give the benefit of the doubt, let’s say that mark only meant 100,000 couples. that’s still a LOT of couples.

i decided to do the math. mars hill church started in the spring of 1996. mark was not a pastor prior to this point, and has also said that he wasn’t even consistently involved in a church prior to starting mars hill. so, i don’t think he was doing this kind of talking with couples prior to 1996. giving the benefit of the doubt, let’s say the church is a full 16 years old. in order for him to have talked with 100,000 couples in 16 years, he would have had to talked with 6,250 couples a year. that’s 17 couples a day. every day. in a day with only 24 hours. for 16 solid years.

i’m sorry but that sounds like a lie to me. and such a stupid one. why tell it? who cares? you could have just said “thousands.” maybe it’s not a “big” lie. but it’s a lie. a deciet. and for what? it’s disconcerting to me. especially in a book that’s supposed to be written by authors being honest about their marriage.

the other day some serious issues came to light about church discipline as practiced at mars hill. andrew’s story is particularly sad. you can read part one of his story here and part two here. the graceless, unloving, manipulative response to his confessed sin horrifies me.

then i read some other stories about authoritarian leadership at mars hill:

together with andrew’s story, they have really raised red flags for me, not only about how church discipline is handled at mars hill but also about the noticeable absence of discussion about how the pastor and leadership are to be held accountable. who can give them church discipline contracts? who are they accountable to if there is unrepentant sin in their lives? who can rein them in if their leadership becomes ungodly, controlling and excessive?

and then i remembered the stories i read back in 2008, about 2 paid staff pastors leaving mars hill in late 2007. stories about concerns of consolidation of power, half truths told to the congretation and secrets kept from members.

there’s a lot more at that blog if you want to read it.

there are other links i could post. links in which i believe drisoll acts like a self-important bully who disrespects anyone that disagrees with or challenges him. links in which i believe he blatantly lies and is caught doing so! for now, i’ll leave that out since this is so long.

so, there’s your information. draw your own conclusions.


it’s never too late

note: i’m over “new year’s” blog posts. i’ve done it, i’ve seen countless others do it, and i think it’s pretty tired. kind of like resolutions. they are so empty, and why wait until 1/1/12 to start doing things that you want to do, or not doing things that you don’t want to do? 

so i had no intention of doing a new year’s type post. and yet, what i have been mulling to write about next turns out to have an obvious new year’s corollary.  c’est la vie! it’s still a good topic, and what’s been on my mind lately.

dreams and wishes. 62/365

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – C.S. Lewis

the last psychiatrist i saw asked me if i had any dreams for the future. i hate that question. having been so sick for so long, all i can think to dream about is to feel better, so that i can envision being well enough to accomplish dreams. i told the doctor that i feel like a man with a gangrenous leg: the leg has to be addressed before he can run a marathon. his dream to run a marathon can’t be achieved until the illness is addressed. and so my dreams are about being well so that i have the energy, etc. to dream.

he didn’t seem to get that. it seemed like he was judging me, like he thought i was failing because i didn’t have dreams beyond wellness at this point. needless to say, i’m not going back.

but, dreams are something i think about.

i’m 36, and i’ll be 37 in less than four months. it’s easy to think that my life can’t really change and that i’ll just be as i am until i die. same job, same relationships, etc. and that can be kind of a bummer. i certainly didn’t picture myself in this place at this point in my life.

but honestly, i don’t know what to dream about. certainly, my younger self thought i’d be married with babies by now. but the me that i am now is not so sure about that stuff. i think i’d like to be married some day, but i know it will be hard and that the older i get, the less  likely it will be. and babies! my body is ensuring that biologically at least, babies are less and less of a possibility, and i don’t even know if i’ll ever be ready to be someone’s mom. i know enough now to be frightened of it! 🙂

i sure hope i’m not in retail for the rest of my life, but i don’t know what i really want to do for a career. i can’t imagine going back to school, and i’m not sure what i’d study if i could make it work.

am i a loser because i don’t know what to dream about? because my dreams aren’t so specific?

i have seen the movie Julie and Julia twice in the last few months.  i love the story of julia child. she was 34 when she got married, which was scandalously old in 1946. and her marriage was delayed most  likely because she was off adventuring and living life instead of looking for a husband. she went to smith college and worked for years writing and working in advertising.

at 6’2″ she was too tall to join the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) or the U.S. Navy’s WAVES, so she instead joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) (the predecessor to the CIA).  she started as a typist, but was soon a top secret researcher for the head of the OSS.  she went to sri lanka and managed a vast amount of top secret communication. while in sri lanka, she met her husband, paul, who was almost 11 years her senior.

she and paul went to paris with his government posting and he gave julia her first cookbook when she was 37. read that again: julia child got her first cookbook when she was 37. THE julia child, the french chef, didn’t start cooking until she was 37!

she lived this fabulously interesting life, and THEN went on to find a passion in cooking at 37. so many of us,  so much of our culture thinks that by that point our lives are set in stone by then and aren’t going to change much. but julia child reinvented her life entirely, because it never occurred to her not to.

i’m not even 37 yet! surely there is time for my life to change, too. julia gives me great hope that my career, my earthly passions could still be waiting to be discovered and aren’t limited by my age.

but more than that, i’m not going to let society tell me what kind of dreams i should have. the biggest dreams in my life aren’t tangible; they don’t have to do with work, or wealth or position or status. this world says i’m supposed to want to be rich or powerful or respected or famous, but those things to me are at most side benefits in this world. the things i really dream about aren’t tangible, or measurable.

i dream:

  • of consistent wellness and mental balance
  • of knowing Jesus more,
  • about more of my life being dedicated to Him,
  • of being more like Him,
  • of more consistently showing love to the people around me,
  • of complaining less and being grateful more,
  • of letting go of anger and hate and unforgiveness,
  • of dying to myself and living for Christ,
  • of freedom from all the trappings of a self-centered existence.

are those really less valuable things to dream about?

i hope i dream about them every moment until the dreams come true.

p.s. you can read more about julia here and here.

my apologies

i am grotesquely remiss in updating my blog.  please accept my apologies and i hope you can forgive me!

picking up where we left off, i headed to the hospital on 11/26. it was interesting. they had a lot of resources, because all the whole complex did was inpatient mental health. so, we got to go outside, see the sunshine, go to the gym, eat meals in a cafeteria (and get them the way we like them!) and not be cooped up in a little section of a hospital floor like in oklahoma. i was constantly grateful for being able to go outside. it was so nice to have the freedom.

so it was a good hospital, good staff, good therapists, etc.  i met a lot of interesting and nice people there. God blessed me with Christians to talk to, to remind me of his presence.

and, i had a BIG breakthrough.

i have known for a long time that i was fundamentally caught up in negative thinking. (automatic negative thoughts or ANTs, so they say) and that i hated myself.  but everything i ever heard or read about breaking the spells of self-loathing and negativity seemed so stupid. it all sounded so hippy dippy and smarmy and foolish. it sounded like trying to convince yourself to believe a lie by just repeating it often enough. logically, i could not accept it.

but, at the hospital, i finally realized/accepted/believed that if the way i thought didn’t change, i would end up cycling in and out of hospitals forever, until i eventually did kill myself. if the way i thought didn’t change, nothing would change. no matter how stupid it seems, i have to do whatever it takes to change the way i think, or i will never get better. i’m tired of momentarily feeling better without really being better; only delaying the inevitable.

so, i got out of the hospital on 12/3, and i’ve been taking it easy at work. i’ve been to see a psychiatrist here. i’m not sure if he will be permanent, or just until i find somebody else, but i took the step.  i will also be auditioning counselors/therapists after the holidays. there’s a christian counseling center less than a mile from my house and i’m going to try there first.

and i’m researching on my own, looking for things that will reach me about abolishing negative thinking and accepting myself as i am.

i’m sure it’s going to be a long process, but i feel like i have a plan, i know what to do, and that is reason to hope.

thank you, Jesus. without you, i could never have understood or believed the truth. and i know you will be the one to see my through the road to wellness.

Going to the hospital

Sadly, I’m on my way to the hospital again. And despite the fact that there are like 5 hospitals in within 10 miles of my house, not one of them provides mental health services. So I’m going 17 miles away.

I have no hope, but it would sure be nice if they could help me, as impossible as that seems.

empty hands

this is a quote from the absolutely amazing book “the hiding place” by the amazing corrie ten boom.

at this point in the book, corrie’s tante (aunt) jans finds out that she will die shortly from her diabetes. corrie’s father is attempting to comfort her.

“My dear sister-in-law,” Father began gently, “there is a joyous journey which each of God’s children sooner or later sets out on. And, Jans, some must go to their Father empty- handed, but you will run to Him with hands full!”

“All your clubs…,” Tante Anna ventured.

“Your writings…,” Mama added.

“The funds you’ve raised…,” said Betsie.

“Your talks…,” I began.

But our well-meant words were useless. In front of us the proud face crumpled; Tante Jans put her hands over her eyes and began to cry. “Empty, empty!” she choked at last through her tears. “How can we bring anything to God? What does He care for our little tricks and trinkets?”

And then as we listened in disbelief, she lowered her hands and with tears still coursing down her face whispered, “Dear Jesus, I thank You that we must come with empty hands. I thank You that You have done all – all – on the Cross, and that all we need in life or death is to be sure of this.”

thank you, Jesus, for my empty hands.

Once more into the breach!

If anyone feels like praying for me, I sure could use it.

I’m having a really hard time with my illness right now. I’m down, I’m restless and I’m listless. I feel as if all the life has been drained out of me.

While I’m not delusional, being depressed or at all mentally I’ll does make it hard sometimes to see things as they really are. I’m struggling with that in some areas. I feel like I can’t see the truth about some things, and it’s a problem.

And I’m under some REALLY freaky, scary spiritual attack.

in the end, we’re all alone

“Oh, but you are alone. Who knows what you have spoken to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all your life seems to shrink, the walls of your bower closing in about you, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?”
jrr tolkien, the two towers

inside our heads, i suppose all of us are alone. no one hears all our thoughts, no one can really know how we feel inside, how it feels to be us.

but i’ve always felt like i experienced this differently than the average person. ever since i was about 13 (coincidentally when my first serious clinical depression hit),  i have felt that the inner me was somehow removed from the world around me, somehow distanced, and that the chasm could not be crossed by me or anyone else. (not that i felt like anyone ever wanted to cross it.)

i read once somewhere of a woman describing her mental illness as feeling as if she was at the bottom of a deep, deep well. she could look up and see light and see other people, but nothing of the above reached her there. she was utterly alone while the world moved on above her, and she could not escape. i thought it was when i read sylvia plath’s the bell jar at 16, but i’ve never been able to find the quote. looking back, the way i recognized and related to the bell jar should probably have been a clue to my mental illness.

anyway, i felt exactly like a woman trapped at the bottom of a well. i could see a circle of life going on above me, but none of it really reached me. i couldn’t escape, and no one else knew i was down there. how could they have known? externally, i played at being normal, and i played it very well. i secretly thought that if my drama teacher only knew how well i was acting every day, i’d have had many more parts in our plays.

i had lots of friends, lots of acquaintances,  and they sought me out for advice, a shoulder to cry on, comfort. apparently, i was pretty good at it, because they kept coming. but even then i recognized the irony that people were willing to pour out their deepest selves to me, but none of them knew the deep parts of me at all.  i just couldn’t let it out, and i couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to listen or know anyway.

and here i am, 20 years past 16, and i still feel the same way. i walk through my life pretending not to be stalked by a constant darkness. i “fake it ’til i make it” like a champ, but i never seem to make it. i get distracted, sure, but i never make it. i still believe that no one really wants to know what’s inside of me. it would be too much for them; they wouldn’t have the stomach or patience or desire for it. i feel like no one really likes me, they are just humoring me, because they are too nice to tell me to shove off.

and so here i am at the bottom of the well, with a chasm of darkness between the internal me and the external world. and it’s lonely as hell.

but even though it’s lonely, i don’t really want to bridge the chasm. i’ve been hurt too often, and i don’t know how much more of that i can survive. i’d so much rather lock myself away and never risk.

but even that is a trap. all that’s inside is silence–the heaviest silence of all.

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

the one where i confess to hating myself


first, i need to ask you a favor: no matter how well intentioned you are, how sorry you feel for me, how skewed you think my perspective, PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS POST WITH ANYTHING RESEMBLING “YOU SHOULDN’T FEEL THAT WAY.”

i know you will mean well, but i can’t stress enough how frustrating i find these kinds of responses. if i could, i wouldn’t feel this way. i’d give anything to not feel this way. being told i shouldn’t feel this way just makes me feel worse, like more of a failure.

what you can do for me is pray for me. if you want to tell me so, that’s awesome, too.

ok. now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with it.  i’ve wanted to write this post for a while but haven’t known how to write my disclaimer and have been afraid to get it out in the air.

i hate myself.

i have for a long time. it feels like it’s been as long as i can remember, but it probably hasn’t been that long. i know for sure i’ve hated myself since 1988.  that summer is memorable because i was 13 and we moved from california to texas, leaving all my friends behind right before i started the 8th grade. i think that’s the first time i was actually clinically depressed. it was just a perfect storm of puberty, leaving friends behind, junior high, not being aesthetically “normal” and then having an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. none of us had a clue. what a mess.

anyway…since then, the norm for me has been self loathing. i hate my body, my hair (not anymore, but for a long time yes), my personality, my voice, the way i did this, that i didn’t do that, every thought i have, every bad choice i’ve made. it never stops. sometimes it quiets down or something else drowns it out, but it seems like it’s always there, waiting to crash over me like a tidal wave, dragging me out to depression’s fathomless depths.

when i spent a lot of time manic, i masked these thoughts with drugs, sex, achievement, bravado and a healthy dose of pretend. at other times, i’ve been able to distract myself from the thoughts. maybe because i was better medicated? or not as stressed? or my capacity for coping was better for some other unknown reasons?

but if i am being honest, as much as i’ve improved in the recent months, these thoughts have never went away. their power over me has ebbed and flowed, but they are always there, growling like a vicious dog waiting for the gate to open so he can strike.

the really twisted part is that i hate myself for hating myself, too. what a failure! why can’t i just stop thinking about myself and move on? who cares how i feel? if i was a better christian, it wouldn’t matter how i feel, because i’d be really focused on Jesus.

i’m really struggling with this right now. i tweeted this a few days ago:

I know I have a deeply entrenched problem with automatic negative thinking, but the longer I live, the more it just seems like realism.

with all my experiences, it just seems more logical, more scientific, shockingly less emotional, to not hope for better. to only hope to survive. maybe it’s just foolishly setting myself up for disappointment to dream of more than just living through the day.

and i hate myself for having this illness. for writing maudlin, self-absorbed, hyperbolic and melodramatic prose about poor, pitiful me.  i guess that’s the real impediment i’ve had to writing this down: it seems weak and pathetic. i feel like i come across as a completely ridiculous lunatic, than everyone can see it and everyone is sick of my self-pity.

i know i am.


came across these incredible lyrics from an artist named matt papa. if you don’t want to be convicted, don’t read any further.

Stay Away From Jesus
Matt 5:44, 6:24, 7:13-14, 10:39, 19:14, Luke 14:26, 33, 9:23, James 2:17, 4:6, Ex 15:3, Rev 3:15-16, John 6:53, 8:32, 14:6

You won’t ever hear this song on Christian radio
Cause the Jesus that I serve is not safe
He’ll say take Your cross and die
So if you want a comfy life
Stay away from Jesus

He says narrow is the gate and hard is the way
Hate the ones you love and love the ones you hate
Eat my flesh and drink my blood
But if your works are good enough
Stay away from Jesus

O let the children come
O let the prideful run
The Lord, The Lord is His name
He has died the world to save
But to believe is to obey
So come or stay away

He says be either hot or cold, you can’t serve God and gold
Indifference is the road that leads to hell
So if you’re happy in your stuff
and if 10%’s enough
Stay away from Jesus

He says come follow me
lose your life and be free
you must die to believe
like a child come and see

He draws every line in love, He is good and He is just
And the words He speaks are meant to set you free
But if you think you are the Way
And in control you have to stay
Then stay away from Jesus