01 December 2011

Open Letter to Dan Phillips

by Frank Turk

Dear Dan,

Just as a preface, all year I have had a few people give me the what-for because I haven't set any of these letters on friendly targets (a libel which, of course, must be borne rather than refuted), and I decided back sometime in the spring that, once Christmas rolled around, I would write open letters to you, to Phil, and to two other highly-visible people with whom we are all affiliated in order to end the year as well as possible.

You know: seven years ago we didn't even know each other.  I think for the first year or two you thought I was actively trying to sabotage you and your career as a blogger until we met at the Founder's conference and got to spend a weekend at Phil's mom's house eating ridiculously well and doing some investigative blogging of GUTS church before it became the national scandal it is today.  A lot has happened in seven years, and through it all, you have become my friend.

For your friendship, I am grateful.  As your friend, I want to take an open letter at Christmas to give you what can't be described any way except as lavish praise.

First of all, you have made the most blog posts at PyroManiacs of any of us.  That's a pretty significant feat given that we are all pretty windy writers, but you have the most posts.

As well and good as that is, there's something hidden in that which one can only unravel if one reviews the stats.  I've been tracking PyroManiacs with Google Analytics since mid-June 2006. We have had over 8 million page-views over the last 65 months.  Of the top-10 posts in that period, I have one, two are index pages (the main page index.html and the Sept 2009 index page), Phil has two, and the other FIVE are your posts.  Of the top 25, Phil and I each pick up a couple and you wind up with 19 of the top 25 posts.  I didn't want to embarrass myself by going out to the top 50, but let's face it: Phil may have the star power which started our small-pond fame on the internet, and I am good for a few laughs, but without any doubt, the writer who causes people to come back to PyroManiacs for content and substance is you.

You have literally driven millions of page views to this site -- my calculation is over 2 million page views if we include the traffic your Tuesday/Thursdays have drive to this site -- and you have set the tone and character of this blog for most of the readers who come here.  Given the company you keep, that's quite an accomplishment.

I think as a direct consequence of that, you also bear another distinction among the team: you are the only one to have published not one but two books with a real publisher under you own name -- and actually sold copies to real people.  Yes: Phil edits and suits up the major title for Dr. MacArthur and gets an effusive thanks in the credits, but those books are not his books: they are someone else's books.  I can't write more than 3 pages without self-immolating (although 2000+ twitterers are clamoring for a better effort).  You have secured 2 contracts and fulfilled them -- with books that, in spite of some significant failures to engage from people who could have done better, have garnered rave reviews and an excellent reception from the people who have bothered to read them.

On top of that, you work full-time in a secular job with integrity, and you have raised one set of children and are raising your younger children with your beloved wife, Valerie, with gusto.  You are not only a hard-working man, but also an earnest man with deep conviction and love that anyone who knows you at all can see.

I am proud to be your friend, and I see you as a role model in so many ways.  I thank you for your service to all of us as you have worked out your faith among us with fear and trembling, and maybe a little bit of the fire and hammer as well.

So, to the point: this is an open letter.  There must be something wrong with you -- let's get it over with.

You see all that stuff I have written up above?  Is any of it actually untrue? It's not even really exaggerated in any way, is it?  These are the things which are true about you, and which everyone can see if they have eyes.  With all of them lumped together in one place, take a good look at them.  Lay hold of them.  And for pete's sake: will you enjoy them please?

The only thing I have on my list for the open letter, Dan, is that you take this Christmas season and embrace the generous and enviable blessings God has poured out for you, my dear friend, and enjoy them.  They are not the tragic ramp to a high place set up to make you fall greatly: they are God's blessing through which he has used you to affect and encourage and exhort so many people -- far more than could have been reached seriously and effectively by one pulpit -- that you have to see them as the way God has worked so many thugs together for good for you, because He loves you.

My Christmas prayer for you is that you will receive these gifts from God in a way that brings you comfort, and solace, and peace.  I want you to be able to see yourself the way all of us see you, which is as a good man, and our friend, and our good counsel when we are too much the drunken master.

Merry Christmas, my friend: Good tidings of Great joy to you as we consider the great blessings and condescensions God has made toward us and for us.  May all his gifts to you be your guideposts as you enter into the new year and all the new opportunities to serve Him which will certainly come to you.









53 comments:

Thomas Louw said...

This is long overdue. It is about time someone put this red bearded, sword wielding guy in his place.

Thomas Louw said...

Frank.

Aint you that guy who got a 100 comments from a post that read
“ I GOT NOTHING”

Neil said...

Amen and amen.

Scooter said...

The voting system appears to be broken. I can only select 5 stars. What happen to the 10-star rating?

donsands said...

Nice epistle of encouragement.

I do pray for us all to know His peace in a greater way this Christmas time. Actually, we can't live for Christ without His peace. He desires we know His peace, and so we need to seek the Prince of Peace every day, and every moment He gives us here in this age, as we make ready for the King of kings return.

Have a great weekend Centurion. And keep up the good work of shring your heart and mind of those things God has laid there.

Robert said...

I hope that Dan is able to take it all in as well and take joy in the fact that he has served the body of Christ well. And I am sure that it helps with this letter coming from somebody who actually knows him and is his friend.

Dave Miller said...

Dan's articles and books have been a blessing to me. I thank God for him and for the singular devotion to God's glory that he imparts in his writing.

I discovered PyroManiacs several years ago and the articles here and at Dan's blog have helped to shape both my theology and my worldview; and have both coaxed and driven me closer to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thanks, Dan, for your effective ministry where God has deigned to put you.

Thanks, Frank, for pointing it out.

Chris H said...

Frank,

Did you take DJP out for coffee (or a beer, since we're very progressive) before writing this? It seems you could have handled this in private first....

Daryl said...

I would echo what Frank said, except I don't know you like he does, so I can't.

But to the extent that I've gotten to know you through what you've written, I can't disagree, at all.

You've blessed me, and I thank you for that and God for you and that.

Tim Bushong said...

Very kind and encouraging words, Frank. Dan is indeed an exemplary and blessed Christian man.

Turretinfan said...

I would have thought that Dr. White was a friendly target, no?

Fred Butler said...

Phil is my boss, so liking him kind of comes with the territory.

And Frank should know how much I truly enjoy his work. I would like him even if he hadn't favored me with lunch at Wendy's once when he was in town for one of his frequent business trips.

But I will say that I benefit much from Dan's material. He is probably one of the few bloggers out of the many I read on a weekly basis who genuinely teaches me stuff every time I stop by.

Stephen said...

I think we are all very grateful for this Phil character. Thanks for the post, Frank.

DJP said...

I'm with Stephen. Phil is an amazing man. Wish I were more like him and Frank.

Solameanie said...

Frank: I can't write more than 3 pages without self-immolating...

I feel your pain. More than you know.

As for Dan, if we must pile on, I really, really think he needs to deal with his Terry Kath worship. I love Chicago too, but balance . . . please . . . balance. ;)

Interesting my word verification for this little sally is:

"vultra"

Hmmm.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

This is very kind of you, Frank. I love it when brothers unite in friendship and love.

I would be hard pressed to say which article of Dan's I like best, but I think what comes through in all of them, is that he has a "true" reverence for God. It doesn't get any better than that!

Frank Turk said...

Tfan -

Like I said: it's a libel, and those who have spread it are simply uninformed and uninformable.

D. C. said...

They are not the tragic ramp to a high place set up to make you fall greatly: they are God's blessing through which he has used you to affect and encourage and exhort so many people

You may struggle to put together more than 3 pages but that line is a true keeper. So much encouragement packed into it. Oh that we all could hold onto such a blessing!

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Wow. An open letter that brought tears to my eyes. Boldly written, without a hint of exaggeration. I hope Mr. Phillips truly does take this letter to heart.

DJP said...

Goodness, you all are being so unwarrantedly kind... did you hear something from my doctor that he hasn't told me yet?

0c8=

Herding Grasshoppers said...

AMEN :D

(Um, not about hearing something from the doctor, but echoing the kind words!)

stratagem said...

Now that the niceties are dispensed with, I can't wait till BAM! it's the second letter!

Frank Turk said...

Dear Strategem:

Box of switches for you.

Love, Santa.

Nick Rolland said...

I concur. Dan, please consider this my huge encouragement to you. What Frank said.

Robert said...

Frank,

You forgot to include the lump of coal.

John Dunn said...

Dan, now that you're a rock-star celebrity blogger, I sincerely hope you have no plans for launching multi-sites and building a Pyromaniacs franchise empire. LOL

Keep up the great work!

Ken said...

I hate having to take a crying towel to a blog reading.

APM said...

'bout time someone set that Dan guy straight.

JG said...

I can't add anything except a mega-ditto.

Andrea said...

DJP,

You have two comments on this thread so far, both of which make me want to say a few choice words:

1. Perhaps you should re-read the post. Especially the last part. I'm charitably assuming that you just sped through it because so much praise (however true) is difficult for you to process, rather than that you just couldn't understand or wouldn't apply the really good counsel contained therein :)

2. If you really *are* taking the wise advice seriously, but choosing to respond tongue-in-cheek so as not to let this just valuation of your worth go too much to your head... well, good on you!

3. Praise God for all the good and wise teachers that he sends our way, to help draw us closer to Him.

tobekiwi said...

Frank, I would accuse you of "going soft" with this open letter, except that every word is true, and perhaps overdue. I never realized how busy Dan has been, and how thankful we should be for the fruit of all his hard work.
And you, Mr. Phillips, please take Dr. Turk's prescription to heart. You are a great encourager and teacher to far more folks than you'll ever know this side of heaven. Thank you!!

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

So what is a Pyro regular to make of an open-letter with such flattery? That Frank has finally surrendered to the “tone police”, or that, like with all his other letters; Frank is simply just stating the truth?

Well, let me see… nope… hell hasn’t frozen over, so it turns out to be just another truthful letter that needed to be written, read and appreciated.

Oh… and as usual… one that I totally agree with.

DJP said...

Andrea... do you know me?

Actually, that is pretty much exactly what I did do on the first read-through: "sped through it because so much praise (however true) is difficult ...to process." I chuckled, frowned, winced (at undeserved high praise), and blushed a lot.

Since, I've mostly waited for the counterpoints to show up. (c:

But seriously, what can I say? The best things about me are my Lord, His Gospel, my wife, my loving kids and my friends. And Frank's one of the dearest of the latter.

Beyond that? To God be the glory; thanks to you all for your gracious kindness... and it did prompt a very serious time of prayer and reflection, which isn't really done yet.

Heck, I'll probably end up writing a post about it.

Thank you.

Kurt said...

Let me add my praise too.

We gotta get this one over 100...

Good you aren't letting it go to your head too. Instructions for bleeding excess cranial air can be found in the owners manual, which I understand you read from time to time. :)

Kerry James Allen said...

I've been reading Dan for years and have always enjoyed his writings, if not his musical tastes. Although as a nod to his favorite group, perhaps we can quote a line from one of their songs and apply it to his two new books: "Only the beginning. Only just the start." Hopefully we will see more. Dispensational 5-point Baptist writers are more scarce than hen's teeth and so we value them as a unique gift to the Body. I better stop here before it sounds too mushy and remember the words of CHS: "It takes a great deal of grace to be able to bear praise." And in the spirit of that quote I already told Dan his two books could have used more Spurgeon quotes! Thanks, Dan.

donsands said...

"Beyond that? To God be the glory"-Dan

A humongous Amen to that.

He must increase, and we must decrease. He gets more and more glory, and we simply enjoy His grace and loving-kindness. What a Savior!

Pierre Saikaley said...

Dan is a CalviDispieBaptoGelical's BaptoGelical.

Pastor Pants said...

Ok, I cried...

I had the privilege (there is no other word that will do) to have Dan, Valerie and their two boys stay in my home for the best part of a week. It was not a good week for me - tough stuff going on. Dan was the most gracious guy - strong, kind, loving, helpful and graceful. He was not only good to me then, but he has given great amounts of time by computer and phone since. He cares and he acts on those cares.

Behind closed doors he is the real deal - he loves his wife with a passion and his kids are wonderful - a real credit to them both. He is a godly man - what any man should aspire to be. A man we can safely follow as he follows Christ. Not a fake, glossy "what a Christian is supposed to look like" clone - a man full of unique character, humour, fun and life. Quirky, yet solid; valued, yet humble. Precious.

The bottom line is I got to spend time with the Phillips family in private and they are not what they seem to be - they are far, far better.

Add to that the fact that he has written the most helpful book on Proverbs that exists and, IMHO, one of the best books ever written on the gospel - suitable for believers old and new / young and old, inquirers and even sceptics - and you have a legacy that will live on way after he has gone to glory.

I praise God for giving us Dan Phillips. Soli deo gloria!

jmb said...

All three of you are smart, but Dan is the funniest. "25 Stupid Reasons To Diss Dispensationalism" is a classic.

Tyler Wallick said...

I love me some DJP. All cats and Star Wars action figures approve of this letter

Frank Turk said...

I resent anyone who says Dan is the funniest Pyro. I may abhor them.

Cathy said...

I do not want to miss out on this opportunity to express my gratitude to you as well, Mr. Phillips. Your teaching has benefited me greatly over the last few years. When I first started reading this blog, it would take me such a long time to read through a post- because I had to keep stopping to look up all the "big words." I did not know what dispensational meant- and I am not even kidding. I had been saved while in a very fuzzy, semi Emergent church. Coming here helped clear my head. And you, Dan. You are a really gifted teacher. Your posts really push me to think deeply, and ofcourse you are so faithful to always point me to the Gospel.
I will say it is so encouraging to hear from Frank and others that yours is a sincere faith demonstrated by a life of humble service and a true Christ-like heart.
Bonus points for your love of cats (my family has 3).

Rachael Starke said...

In God's sovereignty I wasn't able to comment before now, which gave Pastor Pants the opportunity to write almost verbatim what I would have. In my case, however, I and my family have had the blessing at being at Dan's place, and he is the same there. I confess that more than once I've wished he was my pastor (at which point I have to repent because of Dan's famous post on "paper pastors"!). His idolatrous exaltation of deathly-unhealthful foods only serves to remind me that he is still human, and thus likely not eligible for his own .TV interweb empire.

candy said...

I'm sure you remember the early days when I thought you slightly-just slightly-rancorous. It was such a pleasure to meet you in person and get to know you better over the years. I haven't written much because our lives have taken a dramatic turn (eastwards), but once we settle down, I am looking forward to ordering your book.

Robert said...

Dan,

Reading about your prayerful reflection of this post and comments is even more of an encouragement. It is a strong example of how we should always give God the glory and be graetful to Him for everything. Thank you for your time and dedication in sharing your love and knowledge of God with us. I have certainly grown in love for the body of Christ through reading your posts (and the comments as well - you have a lot of strong Christian commentators), as well as those from Phil and Frank...and for that I am grateful.

Strong Tower said...

The greatest compliment that can be paid to Dan is to call him Phil... no wait, the greatest compliment that can be made to Phil is to call him Phil and mean Dan... no wait, the meanest thing anyone can do is to call Dan Frank and mean Phil... did I say meanest, I meant keenest... the keenest thing any one can do is to mistake Frank for Phil and meanest Dan...

Lip balm?

Jehovah Mekoddishkem said...

Well, I don't know you very well DJP. From what I'm reading, you have quite influenced many in their walk with Christ... Glory to God brother and fullness of blessings in your life

I chuckle because just the other day where I live, I saw a truck that had DJP on it.

Hey where's DJP instead of where's Waldo? Anyways it stood for Dothan Janitorial and Paper---not you of course..

Keep up the very articulate creative dynamic posts dear brother all for the glory of God

Andrew said...

Great thoughts here Frank.

A cultural difference I love between us Brits and you Americans is your willingness to speak open words of encouragement to one another. A United Kingdom version of your post would probably read something like:

'Dan, well done. You've certainly written many posts for this blog and we corporately shake your hand by way of recognition'

Seriously though, I say a hearty 'Here-here' to all of the sentiments you express here. Dan's thinking, writing, and reflection continue to be a real source of encouragement to me in my ministry, and I know that the same is true for many others.

Daisy said...

Beautiful...

oh! I'm logged into my wife's account...

oh well, at least I will not be wearing mine out too soon.

Ellery

Rhology said...

I appreciate Dan b/c he's just so good at getting to the bottom line of issues that I sometimes find difficult to process. He's been very helpful in numerous situations like that. For that, and for his 2 books, which I'm almost done reading, I thank DJP.

Kay said...

I appreciate Dan because he was such an encouragement to me when I was blogging - always there with a good word or a helpful tip on style or substance. I don't really blog any more, but I still invariably get an awful lot out of your work Dan. You are officially a gubbins free zone.

James S said...

Amen.

southerngospelyankee said...

Frank, I hate to be a party-pooper, but this sounds an awful lot like two people sitting in a corner saying "You're awesome." "You are too."

Merriest of Christmases to our bushy-bearded friend. We appreciate you Dan!