The Price May Be Right, But the Agenda Is Wrong

The year 2020 is definitely not proving to be what many anticipated on January 1. Just to add to the odd and disappointing stories we seem to be getting daily, we now have "The Price Is Right" promoting the culture of death.
A decades-old game show that was known for big wheel spins, 70s era stage decorations, a yodeling cardboard mountain climber, encouragements to spay and neuter your pets, and the phrases "Come on down!" and "A NEW CAR!" is now promoting the culture of death and the normalization of drag queen culture through a special where RuPaul was guest and approximately $100,000 was donated to Planned Parenthood. (More here.)
Photo credit: Digitas Photos on Visualhunt / CC BY
Like you, it seems like any time anyone or any show promotes anything that can be divisive a group of online angry protestors arrive ready to share their displeasure publicly. Social media normally blows up for a day or so as people publicly vent. In most cases, I just keep scrolling down my timeline trying not to get sucked into the latest online rant.
Maybe I should have done so today.
Instead, it seems I am joining the group of online public ranters. Why? Because the culture of death and acceptance of abortion as simply a woman's choice continues to find its way into otherwise unrelated stories, reminding me that to be pro-life requires continued diligence and prayer.
You (the collective you, as in "you all" or "y'all" depending where you live) have the freedom to watch whatever you choose on television or streaming service, but can we please retire this oft-stated question and statement?
"Can't we just watch a show for the entertainment value? Not every show has an agenda, right?"
The truth is that every produced show making it on air has an agenda. Every prerecorded presentation has an agenda. How do I know this? Because as human beings, we ALL have agendas. I do not disagree with every agenda, by the way. In fact, I have an agenda every time I preach on Sunday. 

It Is About the Worldview

Worldviews exist. They matter greatly. They are the lenses through which we see the world. The biblical worldview sees through the lens of biblical revelation and truth. The challenge is to remove the glasses naturally given to all that view things only through a cultural worldview. The cultural lenses provide a view that filters everything through our own experiences, our own beliefs of how things should be, and what we desire to be true.

A person’s worldview is immensely important. As believers in Christ, we find that our spiritual battles play out where worldviews draw lines.

Norman Geisler speaks of how a worldview not only determines how we live, but how we die.

The truth is that a worldview is like colored glasses; it colors everything at which we look. It is a grid through which one views all of life. As such, it helps form our thoughts, values, and decisions. The tragedy is that most people do not even know what their worldview is, how they got it, and how important it is in their lives.1

How we get our worldview speaks of the authority we follow. Dr. Danny Akin states that there are four sources of authority that mold and shape our decision-making and way of life:

  1. Reason (I think)
  2. Experience (I feel)
  3. Tradition (I have always done)
  4. Revelation (God says in his Word)

These authorities (often more than just one) will govern how we live.2

As for "The Price Is Right," I'm not calling for a boycott. It is just a TV show. Outside of stay-at-home pandemic requirements, I have not watched or been able to watch the daytime version for years. Regarding the special that aired this week - I chose not to watch. I am not sure boycotting something I do not watch is really effective.
Yet, I do believe strongly that the culture of death disguised as women's health care promoted by Planned Parenthood is something to speak against. The agenda that seeks to normalize the drag-queen culture and all that comes with it also stands in opposition to biblical truth.
Agendas are everywhere and the agenda of infanticide as simple choice continues to permeate our culture. 
I'm reminded of the children's song I learned so many years ago "Be careful little eyes what you see... Be careful little ears what you hear..." The song is pretty weird, but the sentiment is clear. What we see and hear impacts what we believe. Worldviews matter and they are developed daily through what is seen, heard, and believed. 
On this game show, the price may be right for the Rice-A-Roni, but the subtle (and not so subtle) messages regarding culture are wrong.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8 (ESV)

           1Gary W. Phillips, William E. Brown, and John Stonestreet, Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview, 2nd ed. (Salem, WI: Sheffield, 2008), vii.
           2Daniel L. Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2019), 148.

Superheroes on Mars Hill - Engaging the Comic-Con Culture With the Gospel

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you." Acts 17:22-23 (ESV)

The story of Paul's engagement at the Areopagus, or Mars Hill, reminds us that the message of the Gospel is not just to be held privately, but strategically taken to those in need of redemption through Jesus Christ.

While there have been many advancements regarding technology and industry in the centuries since Paul spoke to these ancient people near Athens, not much has truly changed. Humanity remains depraved and in need of rescue and redemption. The Gospel remains true. God's church continues to move forward under the mandate of the Great Commission as we go through life to engage others with the message of truth.

Comic Books and Superheroes

When I was a boy, I loved reading and collecting comic books. When I had saved up enough change (from that quarter a week allowance) I would ask my parents to stop by the 7-Eleven on the way home from church in Montgomery, Alabama so I could peruse the comic book stand for the latest issues featuring my favorite heroes. This was no comic book shop. There were no plastic bags with acid-free boards for storing the magazines. The rack was metal, spun, and sat near the door.  Most of the comic books were bent as children like me would bend them down to see which issues were hidden behind. I remember when they were 25 cents, then 30 cents and 35 cents and then "Still Only 35 cents." I normally would go home with two or three issues. These would be read numerous times and added to the stack I was accumulating.

Of course, like most people my age, I would get the first issues of new comics hoping that one day they would be worth thousands of dollars like the first "Action Comics" and "Batman" issues of old. Nevertheless, most of the magazines my generation bought were stored safely and because our parents didn't throw them out like those from previous generations, we now have a plethora of books that are "Fabulous First Issues" which aren't worth much because supply (in those plastic sleeves in cardboard boxes) is so high.

Photo credit: Sam Howzit via / CC BY

Resurgence of Superheroes in Comic Books

In case you haven't noticed, after a time when comic book sales tanked and superhero films and television shows seemed to be fading, a renewal of interest in these heroes with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man has occurred. 

The Golden Age (1936 - early 1950s)

Since the Golden Age of comics (1936 - early 1950s,) heroes with brightly-colored spandex have attracted the interest of children and teenagers. During the 1940s, superhero comic interest waned. Magazine publishers began to produce books with different themes such as westerns, romance, science fiction, crime, and horror. In fact, many superhero titles were cancelled at this time. Of the dozens produced in the early 1940s, the only ones featuring superheroes to continue production by DC (the industry leader at the time) through the decade were Action Comics, Adventure Comics, Detective Comics, Batman, Superboy, Superman, Wonder Woman, and World's Finest Comics.

Photo credit: Terry McCombs via / CC BY-NC

The Silver Age (1956 - 1970)

Many changes took place in the world of comic books following the Golden Age. Controversy developed over the alleged connection between comic book themes and juvenile delinquency. In 1954, the comic publishers implemented a self-regulated Comics Code Authority and a shift from crime and horror themes led to a reintroduction of superheroes. The introduction of a new Flash from DC Comics launched this era and soon upstart Marvel Comics launched the Fantastic Four and a new wave of fans was born.

Photo credit: Michael Vance1 via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

The Bronze Age (1970 - 1985)

This next age of comic book production moved Marvel Comics to the forefront. It was during this time I was collecting those books sold at the 7-Eleven. While many of the mainstay heroes remained, newer ones were introduced and a return to darker plot lines emerged (e.g. racism, alcoholism, drug abuse, urban poverty, pollution, etc.). Many of the heroes introduced in this era became the models for newer television shows like "The Incredible Hulk," "Wonder Woman," and "Spider-Man" and movies like the Christopher Reeve helmed "Superman: The Movie" and Michael Keaton's "Batman."

Photo credit: Brian Wilkins via / CC BY-NC

The Modern Age (1985 - present)

As generations shift, so too do the heroes they admire. While comic sales dropped, new business models were implemented. Character licensing was sold and plans for new films have been made. It is during this era when many comic book characters were redesigned, creators gained ownership of characters through independent comics, and publishing houses became more commercialized.

Some call this the Dark Age of Comics due to the influence of writers and artists like Frank Miller and Alan Moore. Anti-heroes (like Deadpool, the Punisher, and even Batman) became more popular.

Photo credit: Asbestos Bill via Visualhunt / CC BY

The Cinematic Universes

When Christopher Reeve first put on the blue tights and red "S" a new era of marketing comic book heroes developed. The "Superman" movie from the late 1970s stated that fans "would believe a man could fly" and based on ticket sales, they did. When Tim Burton introduced a darker "Batman" to the big screen in the 1980s, many fans thought it would fail, primarily because Michael Keaton was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman and the campiness of Adam West's Caped Crusader was the prominent screen image known. When Burton's film became a hit, it seemed like superhero movies would soon take over the multiplex. Nevertheless, sequels didn't fare as well and other films like Dolph Lundgren's "The Punisher" and David Hasselhoff's "Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." proved that Hollywood hadn't quite figured out how to move the comic heroes en masse to the big screen.

Then Tobey Maguire became Spider-Man and soon thereafter Christian Bale moved under the cowl of the Dark Knight and, as they say...the rest is history.

Marvel and DC have created effective (at least financially) cinematic universes that have proven to connect with audiences.

Photo credit: junaidrao via / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: junaidrao via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

More Than a Weak Sermon Series Theme

Apparently there are many fans of superheroes in our communities. These run the gamut from stereotypical fanboy or fangirl who knows intricate details of multiverses to the casual fan who just saw Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and watches Sheldon and Leonard on "The Big Bang Theory."

In recent years, with attempts to capitalize on pop culture with catchy themes, some have preached sermons or themed kids events at churches with pseudo-superhero concepts. I'm guilty of having done this in the past, but the truth is as Dr. Timothy Paul Jones stated in a blog post from earlier this year:

For many Christians, the temptation seems to be to engage in what I would identify as a “thin reading” of these cultural artifacts (comic books and superhero films,) hunting for surface-level connections between the Bible and our favorite superhero tales. Pastors who become caught up in such thin readings may construct entire sermon series out of the latest films or feel compelled to drop references to movies into their messages—all to achieve a perceived sense of relevance by linking Scripture to culture. This is not authentic cultural engagement, however. In most instances, it’s closer to uncritical cultural appropriation. Full-fledged Christian engagement with the culture digs deeper than surface-level links and wrestles with the conflicting worldviews that undergird these artistic artifacts.

Jones' article goes deeper and is well worth your read. Read it here.

Engaging on Mars Hill

What is it about these heroes that not only connects generations and draws fans, but gathers groups together at Comic-Con and movie premieres? The religious undertones are not always subtle and the fact that most early superheroes such as Superman were rooted in Judaism (ever wondered why his name is Kal-El?) reveals many Old Testament themes woven into the histories, especially from the Golden Age. 

Yet, even anti-religious sentiment and humanistic worldviews aside, there is a sense, for the most part of good, evil, truth, justice, and other such things that at the core are religious concepts.

Many of the fictional heroes and heroines either find their root in Greek and Roman mythology or at a minimum are influenced by some of these types of stories. It is my contention that the culturally popular fictional heroes are not much different than the false gods and goddesses worshipped and adored by the ancient people of Paul's day.

Paul engaged those who were far from God strategically. He went to Mars Hill for this purpose. He did not remain silent, but talked intelligently and not condescendingly to those in the crowd. 

What If?

After reading numerous articles and studying God's Word on living sent as his church to a lost and dying world, I thought of Dr. Jones' postings about worldviews as revealed in comic books and the cinematic universes of Marvel and DC.

What if the church engaged this affinity group through story-telling in ways that centers on the Scripture and the Gospel? What if rather than just continuing to add programs and events to reach the already reached, we went to this "Mars Hill" in our culture today? I have talked to a few teenagers specifically about this. Some attend church, but always seem to be on the fringes. Others have no place for church in their lives and basically have denied or ignored the message of the Gospel. I asked if they would consider joining me for a study called "The Meta-narrative of the Gospel as Revealed in the Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes?" Yeah - that's what I named it, based on Dr. Jones' articles. However, I may shorten it to "Superhero Sunday Nights."

Their interest was piqued.

I asked, "Do you have any friends who may be interested in something like this?" 

The answer was yes and they began to rattle off names of students I do not know. Most have no connection with a church and no relationship (or desire for a relationship) with Christ.

I am not sure what this will even look like - The Big Bang Theory meets the Bible? I hope more than that. It's just that we (the church) have done much over the decades to connect with students through affinities like athletics, drama and theater, dance, and music, but I have yet to hear of an intentionally evangelistic effort (more than a gimmick event) that seeks to connect with those whom many categorize as nerds and geeks, but most likely think deeply and love and understand the intricacies of story. Ultimately, the Story is what they need.

Some will mock. Some will ignore. Yet, I believe some will be drawn by God to Himself. It's been done before.

Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Acts 17:32-34 (ESV)


Why the Jokes About Jenner Have to Stop

This has been a landmark year for advocates of the LGBT community.

In addition to the SCOTUS ruling that changed state recognition of same-sex marriage, a prominent celebrity (Bruce Jenner) slid to the far right of the acronym to announce that he is transgender and will begin living not as the gender he was born, but as a woman.

To be clear, I do not support the shift in gender that Jenner has and is going through. I don't even know the man, but my belief in identity and bestowed gender, founded on what I believe the Word of God to reveal, means that I cannot affirm this lifestyle choice. I wrote about Jenner's announcement here. I also believe that God loves Jenner as he loves all. Love, nevertheless, is not synonymous with affirmation and acceptance of life choices.

CREDIT: Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images, Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair

Since Jenner's "coming out" as Caitlyn, the entertainment and sports media has pointedly fought to find more details about Jenner and this has effectively pushed him back on the cover of magazines, on the stage at awards shows and as the lead story on many entertainment "news" shows. Some say this was what he desired all along. Perhaps, but I doubt that was the driving force. 

It's Not About Political Correctness

In a culture where political correctness reigns and celebrities, politicians, and athletes spend more apologizing for saying or Tweeting things that have been labeled as insensitive by the self-proclaimed political correctness police, I am not calling for the end of Jenner jokes and other LGBT jokes for this reason.

Like most guys, I love a good joke. Like most jokes that are really funny, there's always a hint of truth in them. Sarcasm is easy for me. Humor that may offend some has always been a default for me as well. While I find no humor in jokes laced with profanity, racial stereotypes or hurtful words, there are times I have told jokes, or at least laughed at some that are hurtful. What's worse than couching hurtful language in a joke that may cause an individual to feel personally ridiculed is the hurt that takes place for God and His Kingdom.

It Is Mission Critical

When missionaries are sent to international lands, they are sent with a mandate - a Commission. This is to love God fully as they love people with the intent of leading people to the rescue that is found only in Jesus Christ. Our missionaries are not taught to "Americanize" the natives. They are not taught to look down on those whom they been sent to serve. They are not led to water-down the Gospel for any reason, just to be accepted either. They are sent equipped to live among the culture that does not know Jesus, or in some cases is loudly opposed to Jesus.

Christians in America are discovering that the mission field is no longer only overseas. It's not just on another continent where a different religion reigns supreme. The mission field is here. In some cases, the mission field is within one's home and family.

Our culture is growing more loudly opposed to Christ and Christians. The marginalization of the church in cultural life is upon us. Yet, rather than lament the reality, we must celebrate that God has seen fit to place us here, now, for "such a time as this." Apparently, he is equipping us to be His ambassadors and His church for a mission field that is very dark.

Love Wins

While #LoveWins has trended recently as a call for unity and celebration by the LGBT community, the truth of the matter is that Love who wins has already won. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of love. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And. . .lost people do not know that. Sometimes, they have been blinded to that truth because of religion, unfortunately.

So, Why Stop the Jokes?

Maybe you've never told or laughed at "gay jokes" or "transgender jokes." Or ... maybe you're like me. Here's why I feel the conviction to stop. I believe God has given us a unique opportunity to share His love and hope with those in our community who struggle with same-sex attraction and even deeply troubling gender issues. I know that previous statement is a challenging one, especially for those who are LGBT and are not struggling with it, by their own admission. Nevertheless, based on my faith convictions and understanding of Scripture, I would stand by my wording.

That being said, the Great Commission does not have an asterisk by it that eliminates certain people from our love through Christ. 

This is the biggest challenge - loving truly without affirming sin (and I mean any kind of sin - so don't think I'm just saying LGBT lifestyles. I do mean adultery, fornication, thievery, gluttony, etc.) If we can't love people who sin. . .well, we have to eliminate much Scripture.

Humor Is a Gift, But Can Be a Barrier

I believe humor is a gift from God. It's not a spiritual gift. It's not even a primary gift. I just believe that God, in his sovereignty and glory has gifted us with the ability to laugh (at ourselves mostly) and circumstances. Laughter can be healing (Ever see "Patch Adams?")

However, jokes can be hurtful. 

How many times has someone said something hurtful to another and then tagged "just kidding" at the end, thinking that makes it all okay?

Tweet: If we're going to live as missionaries in a culture far from God, we can't continue to make fun of those we are seeking to reach. @davidtarkIf we, as Christians, are going to be living sent, as missionaries in a culture far away from God, we cannot continue to make fun of those we are seeking to reach.

  • It would be like a white Christian missionary being sent to a tribal area in an African nation and telling "black jokes"...
  • It would be like an American moving to Europe and continually making fun of European accents and customs...
  • It would be like moving to Miami and telling jokes that make fun of Cubans...
  • Or living in South Texas and telling Mexican jokes...

It would be like doing all these things and more and then expecting to be able to share the Gospel message with those you have just made fun of, expecting a good response.

Tweet: Christians, we cannot construct walls from within the church by laughing at the lost and expect the lost to respond to our Christians, we cannot construct walls from within the church by laughing at the lost and expect the lost to respond to our "love."

I know, some of you are already poking holes in my premise by stating that the LGBT community is not a racial or cultural people group. I agree. It is different. I do not equate them as the same. I oppose the use of the Civil Rights Movement in our nation as a parallel to the LGBT causal movement of today. They are vastly different.

However, this is what we do know to be a reality. The LGBT community is just that - a community. In most cases, there is unbridled acceptance within the community (unless you are vehemently opposed and then there is no place at the table.) Most are not angry gay men or lesbians. Many just want to live their lives and be left alone. There are some (and they're loud) who advocate pretty harshly. Harshness often attracts harshness.

Love Without Affirmation of Sin

The church is going to have to make a decision in this world where the biblical worldview is being pushed aside and redefined by many (wrongly, I might add.) Some denominations in our culture are already capitulating. In other words, they are wimping out and have sacrificed the authority of Scripture and adherence to such for short-lived applause by those who really don't like them anyway. 

Tweet: The church must decide if people are really worth loving and ultimately worth reaching with the Gospel. @davidtarkThe church that stands firmly on Scripture and does not bend in this area, must decide if those within their membership (and there are quite a few) and those who are seeking God really are worth loving and ultimately worth reaching with the Gospel. 

While some say that's an offensive statement, I say no. If we truly love God then we can truly love people (all people, not just those who live with church approved sins). If we love people, we must show that love so that ultimately LOVE WINS. This is not a bait and switch. This is what we have been called to do.

We are missionaries to a culture that is as dark as any unchurched part of the world. Let's live well, live holy, live uncompromisingly on the Gospel and love well and tell some good jokes along the way, but let's not build unnecessary walls.

How Does One of the Most Respected Coaches Become the Most Ridiculed?

Tony Dungy, former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts, current NFL analyst for NBC Sports, founder of All Pro Dad and Family First, husband, father, and outspoken follower of Jesus Christ has been moved from many people's lists of "Most Respected" to "Most Hated" in just a little over a week.

Ai_120485It all began with a a question posed to Dungy by a Tampa Tribune reporter a number of weeks ago. The question was about gay linebacker Michael Sam of the St. Louis Rams. Sam, who went public with his sexual orientation after a stellar career for the University of Missouri and prior to the NFL draft, is the first openly gay football player drafted by an NFL team.

Sam was a great college player, but even before his public announcement, was not considered a "sure thing" as an NFL lineman. As many in the northeast Florida area where I live know, just because a person excels at the college level does not always mean he will excel at the professional level.

Nevertheless, Sam's announcement skyrocketed him to cultural stardom as news agencies rushed to interview him, Oprah Winfrey attempted to chronicle his journey into professional football for a television show, and pro-LGBT groups and magazines labeled him a courageous figure.

Then, Dungy said this. . .

"I wouldn't have taken him," Dungy told Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune. "Not because I don't believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn't want to deal with all of it. It's not going to be totally smooth…things will happen."

Dungy's answer to a question by Kaufman has gone viral. 

Sportscasters, bloggers and many in the Twittersphere have labeled Dungy a "loser," "hater," "hypocrite," "bigot," and worse.

Arguments appear in op-ed pieces referencing Dungy's work with Michael Vick and his opinions regarding Tim Tebow as evidence that he is two-faced. Some have even sunk so low to create stories about Dungy's son who tragically committed suicide a while back, as ways to show Dungy's unloving nature. 

It's amazing and terribly sad.

It is wrong.

Read Dungy's original statement again - he said nothing that could be construed as "homophobic" or hateful. While it is public knowledge that Dungy has opposed measures to legalize gay marriage (as do many American citizens and the vast majority of evangelicals) his statements related to drafting Sam are purely his opinion. The problem is that his belief system is not politically correct and his Christianity places him (in good company, I might add) in a minority in our culture.

Nevertheless, though unecessary, Coach Dungy released this statement about his previous statement:

I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that would not have drafted him. I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team. At the time of my interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael's first season had been announced.

I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL. He absolutely does.

I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process. It should not.

I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team. I would not. ...

... I do not believe Michael's sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.

I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction. Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.

A good, but unecessary statement. Dungy's explanation will do little to placate those who have already categorized him negatively. 

I respect Coach Dungy, not just for his ability to coach professional athletes, but for the leadership qualities he has shown, the love of Christ that comes forth when I hear him interviewed, the stances he has taken on biblical manhood, parenting and marriage.

As culture shifts at breakneck speed, many in our communities and churches struggle with how to live "in the world" but not "of the world." A child of God cannot simply ignore biblical truth and the transformational power of the Spirit of God. God's Word and His Truth is never celebrated by the world. It never has been. It never will be. Therefore, instances like Dungy's will happen, again and again, and more often.

I always wondered how long Dungy could remain in the public eye before being labeled this way. 

Regardless how many are taking Dungy's quotes, it seems to me that he is exactly the same man who was highly respected, regarded and loved by many.


Stand firm, Coach Dungy. You do not stand alone.

The world cannot hate you (regarding Jesus' brothers who did not follow Him), but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. John 7:7 (ESV) 


Rebranding Doesn't Always Work - Why "Great Commission Baptists" May Send The Wrong Message

First of all, I'm not against rebranding. In fact, I'm not against the new informal descriptor "Great Commission Baptists" for Southern Baptist Churches to use. If you're not aware of the proposal by the special task force to be presented at the Southern Baptist Convention this summer, you can read more about it here.



However, I do believe it is important when rebranding, especially in this age of acronyms and abbreviations, to explore all possible "other" messages a new name or logo may accidentally reference.


While I do not believe the task force could have seen this coming, it's now here. It's obvious to me. It's troubling and looks to be a punchline for comedians for a while. The brand "Great Commission Baptists" is inevitably going to be shortened to "GCB." 

In case you haven't noticed, the new ABC television comedy-drama titled "GCB" has recently begun airing. I kept seeing the advertisements for it and could not figure out what "GCB" stood for. Then, I read an article about the show. Apparently, it's based on a book titled "Good Christian B------" or "Good Christian Witches" with a replaced letter if you cannot figure out my cryptic blanks. The producers changed the name to "Good Christian Belles" but that didn't go over well either apparently, so now it's just "GCB." 


The show is being marketed as similar to "Desperate Housewives," but set in Texas and features "good" church-going women who fight with each other, embarrass each other, gossip and cheat, etc. and use the church as a venue to voice their issues. 

Is this reason enough to shelve the "Great Commission Baptist" tag? I'm not sure. However, in a world where media drives so much and pop culture often becomes the commonality between cultures, it may be more difficult to build bridges to people in other parts of the nation by calling ourselves "GCB Churches" rather than "SBC Churches." 

You think branding is not a big deal? Check out these stories. . .

  • Wisconsin Tourism Federation rebranded as the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin. The acronym TFW avoids the negative press of the offensive acronym they previously used.
  • The National Union of Teachers in the UK uses the acronym "NUT" on their website and promotional materials. There's even a link on their site to help teachers find employment that states "NUT Jobs." (No, I'm not making this up.)
  • The Georgetown University Hospital's webpage has a link with information on Disability Benefits. Under the heading, there is a subheading titled "Short Term Disability (STD)" and throughout the page the acronym STD is used.
  • The Boston Redevelopment Authority uses their acronym "BRA" throughout their advertising.
  • Lighting Solutions and Design. . ."LSD"
  • Bellingham, Washington has used a promotional piece advertising music in their area. The logo states "I BM's"
  • From 1884 to 1912 the District of Alaska was known as "DOA"
  • Progressive Management Systems. . ."PMS"
  • The student organization developed by students in university called the Students of Women Studies goes by "SOWS"

These are funny, and all very real, but you can see what happens when you're not really, really careful with your acronym of choice.

Should we use the "Great Commission Baptists" moniker, we had better be ready to laugh at ourselves because of the likely connection with the show "GCB." Of course, the show probably won't last long, so this may be a moot point.

And, just to be fair, SBC has multiple meanings as well. . .

  • Southern Baptist Convention
  • Sweet Briar College
  • Southport Brewing Company
  • Somali Broadcasting Corporation
  • Structural Biology Center

There are more. This is just the first page of the Google search.

Oh well, whatever title we have and use, may we truly be Great Commission Christians. It's in the personal relationships with others that the Gospel is shared and disciples are made.

Kirk Cameron & Warren Barfield Remind Us That Marriage is Worth It

What a weekend!

Yesterday was definitely a full day. We began with our regular services on Sunday morning only to find one of our video projectors wasn't working at all. We could not even get it to turn on. Now, I know it's just a projector, and for the worship services it wouldn't be that big a deal to not have it. However, at 3pm yesterday, we were hosting Kirk Cameron and Warren Barfield for the "Love Worth Fighting For" Marriage Event and I knew the projector would be needed. 

Guess it was just  a case of trying to get us to lose focus. The projector came back on. Yeah, I prayed it would. Kind of a weird prayer, because I wasn't sure God was too concerned about the video projector. I couldn't find any verses in the Bible where prayers over broken video projectors were said. Still, I believe it was more about distraction than technology. Unfortunately, I would have been worrying about that thing all day (and yes, I know worry is a sin, so I've repented of that almost worry already.)

Nevertheless, the projector worked throughout the afternoon. It probably doesn't work today, but I don't care. I'm sitting in the Miami International Airport on my way to Honduras with five other people from our church.

By the way, Miami's airport code is MIA. That's not too comforting. "Our entire mission team is now MIA!" doesn't bring comfort.

Back to yesterday.

The morning services went well as we began a new series titled "Worth It." It's a series to last through August with a focus on God's design for marriage. Yesterday was basically an introduction to the topic. It's a difficult topic to speak about when the crowd listening is so varied. Yet, it is my conviction that whether a person is married or single, an understanding of the biblical standards and purpose of marriage must be known. God even used the marriage relationship as an illustration of Christ's relationship with the church. 

So, we're going to swim through the cultural understandings and teachings regarding marriage and land firmly on the foundation of God's Word on this subject. It will not be an easy series, but will be "worth it."

The guys for the conference were there as soon as the 10:45am service was over. Warren Barfield and his brother Jeffrey arrived early and were in the foyer. They had been traveling all morning from Orlando and were in casual-mode (which is common for these guys. . .and makes them my heroes.) Warren shared that apparently, they confused or maybe even scared our ushers. One of our men kept quizzing them as to why they were there and just hanging out in the foyer. They laughed about it as they shared the encounter with me. Apparently, some of our ushers were at "Threat Level Red" and were concerned about these casually dressed guys with guitar cases claiming to be musicians. So much for first impressions.

Mike Williams, founder of Feed Your Faith, and the sponsor of the event arrived. They had just completed two days of conferences - one in Ocala and one in Winter Park. We were the last leg of this three day tour. I know these guys were beat, but they had great attitudes. There was a team of about 10 that were here to set up product tables, organize Feed the Hungry child sponsorships, set up the sound and stage and get everything ready for the event.

We had a great team of volunteers ready as well who gave up their early afternoon to get everything ready and just be available as needed. Thanks to all of them.

Kirk and his son Jack arrived and we set them up in the "green room."

We are at a point of having to fix that air conditioner in the "green room" - also known as the C Building. The comfort level in that room is terrible. Whew! I'm sweating just thinking about sitting in there. So, we ended up moving them to my office, where the air conditioner defintely works (just ask our secretaries.)

Kirk had a special Q & A time with those who purchased VIP tickets. This was a great time for him to share his story of how he came to Christ and why he does what he does. The questions were great, for the most part. As I was standing with Warren over to the side, he began sharing that just about in every town, an aspiring actress will arrive just to give Kirk a headshot photo with hopes he will pass it along so she can become the next big star. No, it's not the same woman in each city, but there seems to always be one.

Yes, there was one here yesterday as well. Kirk was gracious and took questions. Warren just hid in the corner and laughed.

The building started filling up and we knew that about 900 tickets were sold ahead of time. When the doors opened, people just kept coming. The worship center was as full as I've ever seen it. It made me wonder what a Sunday morning would look like if the house was packed. Maybe if Kirk was there each Sunday?

DSCN0328 At our church, people often complain . . . voice their concerns about how cold it is in the worship center. That's one room where the air conditioner works very well. It was cool that morning, but apparently, when the doors are propped opened at noon as people are leaving church, all of the cool air flows outside. Go figure. Since it's 90+ degrees outside with a heat index of 187 degrees, the building doesn't stay cool. Then, when you shove 1200+ people into the building, all with their 98.6 degree temperatures, it gets hot in the room. 

Wow! I'm sorry it was so hot. I checked the air conditioner about five times during the event, and it was blowing. I knew it was working, because when everyone left, it was freezing in there. 

I was able to spend some time talking with Warren and his brother Jeffrey. I really like these guys. Not only are they gifted musicians and singers, there is a depth to them that is inviting. We talked for some time about church, frustrations, and family time and things I won't go into detail about. I look forward to finishing this conversation in the future. We may meet at Applebee's in Nashville sometime to talk more.

I also had the opportunity to talk with Kirk. Kirk has a passion for the things of God. One reporter asked me if I thought Kirk's celebrity status played a role in attracting people at the event. I wanted to say "Duh!" but didn't. Of course it plays a role, but the thing I discovered about Kirk, is that he understands God has given him a story. His story and his celebrity history as "Mike Seaver" has enabled him to have a platform for sharing boldly about Christ and about things that matter.

Kirk as Mike Kirk and Warren were great on stage. Kirk opened with a self-depracating act that took people back to the days of "Growing Pains." It was a good start because he knows that's where most people first came to know him. 

He soon transitioned into the teaching about life and marriage. He readily admitted he is not a marriage counselor or pastor. He shared that his experience as a Christian husband of twenty years to Chelsea Noble and father of six children gives him some things worth sharing.

The message was clear and plain. The points and ideas shared are not new, for there is nothing new under the sun, but were good, clear reminders of what it takes to live our lives for God and to be the husband or wife God has called us to be.

Later in the evening he used illustrations and clips from his film "Fireproof." These were great clips that really showed the truth of what he had been saying.

I personally liked his challenge to the men to be godly fathers and husbands. The "Mancard" he distributed had some great reminders for all husbands based on 1 Peter 3.

Warren didn't sing much, but when he did, it was incredible. What a voice! I love the acoustic set that he and Jeffrey put together.

Warren's most well-known song may be "Love Is Not A Fight" as featured in the film "Fireproof." One of the most poignant moments of the day was when Warren shared how the song came to be. I had thought he must have written it for the movie. That's not so. It was written after a pretty serious fight with his wife that almost led to their separation. Warrren has a great sense of humor and is a great story-teller. Even though the story about the fight was hard for him to share, the way he shared it drew the crowd in and held us. Then, he performed the song. Wow! It was an incredible moment. Much more than a "concert performance."

DSCN0330 Events are not always the best things for churches to host. Many times, events are just events. What I mean by that is they are short-sighted and built upon a model that believes if people are in the building or that a group shows up, it is successful. 

I talked with Mike Williams about this and determined that this event would be more than just an "event." At least it had the potential to be. 

It really is up to the couples now. What will they do with what they heard?

Kirk asked me if we had a program for the couples to join that could help them in the area of marriage and life. I shared that our desire is that believers grow together in community. That is best fleshed-out in our small groups. Now some small groups don't get this and I'd never suggest anyone join them, but others do and more are beginning to. Joining a "Sunday School class" isn't the answer. Couples won't grow closer to each other and with other couples in community if they are just atteding a class one hour a week where someone else reads the Bible to them and tells them the "truth of the day."

DSCN0333 However, if couples (and individuals) will invest in each other, if they will become a part of a small group that is intent on growing deeper and more intimate with God together, some incredible life change can happen.

Married couples need other married couples (men need men and women need women) living the journey with them. Older couples can pour into younger ones. Mistakes and challenges can be avoided. Life can be abundant and full. This is God's design. 

So, you can read a marriage book together. This is a good thing to do.

You can go to a marriage conference or retreat together. This is a good thing, too.

You can even go see a marriage counselor. Still another good thing.

However, it is my conviction, that couples need to be in community with other believers. It needs to be a pure, holy, safe community for faith development and growth. Love is worth fighting for, but you don't have to fight alone. 

The event started with fun stories and music and clapping and laughing. It ended with husbands and wives on their knees together praying for transformation in their lives. What happens now is dependant on the obedience of us as men and women, not to Kirk Cameron's challenge, but to God's calling.

Love is worth fighting for.

Your marriage is worth it.