Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could be here! In today’s program, Tom wraps up a two-part series with guest Carl Kerby as they address the question: “Are Your Kids Hungry for the Truth?” Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. My guest for today – this this is part 2 of an interview with my good friend Carl Kerby – and as I mentioned last week, he’s the head of a ministry called Reasons for Hope. He was involved with Answers in Genesis as one of their speakers and, actually, as a founding board member. And I know I keep saying this (because it’s true, folks!), Carl’s one of the best communicators that I know, not just because he’s a fun guy but because of how he presents content. And I’m not a science guy, but if you can help me understand it, you’ve just moved…you’re the man! (Laughing)
So, Carl, we’re going to talk about young people, and we have… So welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Carl: Tom, you guys are always such a blessing, and I appreciate you very much.
Tom: Okay, now, listen, I’m going to get hammered if I don’t do what I really need to do, and that is, because you said at the end of last week’s program you’re going to tell a story, and if I blow past that, and we don’t get back to it, I’m going to get emails, okay?
Carl: Yeah. Okay.
Tom: So, set it up for our audience, if they missed part one, but then just jump on it.
Carl: So I was in the service this last Sunday before coming out here. And, you know, I’m speaking – I’d done a three-day conference, and it was really good the first night. We had folks drive over an hour bringing 31 students to come out to the conference. And the teacher brought them out at the end of the night. Man, he was so fired up, I’m now going [speak at] that school. We’re working on the days for that one.
So I finished up on Sunday morning, and one of the things I said on Sunday morning – because it was a real mixed audience; you had the mature generation, and you had the younger generation. And I said, “Mature generation – I know that my number one compliment is my number one complaint. My number one compliment is ‘Man, you speak quickly. You keep my attention.” And my number one complaint is, “You speak quickly, and I can’t keep up with you!” And I can tell if it’s going to be a compliment or a complaint based on the person that’s walking up to me 90 percent of the time. And mature folks, you’re the ones that just don’t get me. And you’re like, ‘Man, you speak too loud; you’re too fast, and you’re animated. Mellow out!’” And I said, “But you know what? I’m sorry, but I’m not going for you. I want your grandchild. I want your child!” And 50-80 percent of them are gone by the time they're age 18, and if you’re not coming at them, and if you’re not straight, and if you’re not animated, they have a 2.2-second attention span, and they’re gone. And if you’re not using visuals, I’m sorry. You don’t like it? That’s just the way that they are!”
And so, we’ve got to get out of our preference, because there’s this chasm that is growing between the mature generation and the younger generation. And every time I get up to speak, I’m always afraid that, okay, has the chasm gotten so big that I’m not going to be able to reach them anymore? And I know that the Holy Spirit is the one that does the reaching, but I can see a day when this generation is just done with us. I can see it! I just can see it coming. And if the mature generation isn’t willing to set aside some sort of a preference to reach across this chasm, to reach this younger generation, not compromising the truth – never compromising the truth – but if I will show a video clip, if I will show a Tostitos commercial to hook them…
Tom: …to make a point…
Carl: Yeah, to hook them to say “What?!” and then teach them, boy, I’m going to do it.
Well, this 21-year-old lady came up to me afterwards, and there were a bunch of mature people standing around me, and they really responded well – because they can see my heart. I’m not coming after them like a jerk. It’s like…I’m pleading with them to, please! We need you, mature generation! This generation is begging for people to love on them. They’re so relational. And they need that. And so, this 21-year-old young lady came up to me, and she was like, “I am so glad you said that. Mom, I mean…I’m sorry. I mean no disrespect, but we don’t think like you guys! And finally somebody recognizes that, and said it. So thank you!” And she was just fired up!
Tom: And that’s what we want. Carl, it reminded me of how we talk to young people. And you’re 55, right?
Tom: Okay. I’m 7…(mumbles, laughing). I’ll be 72 this year. But I have the mentality of a teenager. I just like to be with them, and I like to relate to them. Now, here’s a side note. (I probably shouldn’t go into this!) But I sit at the computer when I’m here at The Berean Call too much time. And I’ve got to get up and get away from that. So one of…this is one of my classic experiences in life. I needed to get exercise, so I used to – not too long ago, I would ride a unicycle. And, Carl, you’re laughing, but here’s the deal: there’s no coasting with a unicycle…
Carl: Oh, no…
Tom: Whether it’s uphill or downhill, you’re working this thing. So, right up about a mile from us – I would ride it for a mile to a park right here near The Berean Call. And they had…now they’ve got a big-time skateboard park…but then they had a smaller skateboard park, and, look, you work with young people, and no offense to you skateboarders out there, but you’re from a different planet, kids. (Laughing) You really are!
So, the first time I rode my unicycle past the skateboard park, these young kids stopped. They looked at me, and they said, “Hey, old dude! Old dude! Way to go, old dude!” (Laughing) That’s one of my claims to fame…
Carl: Well, I’m shocked that they didn’t come over and say, “Hey, can we try?”
Tom: No, it looked too difficult for them. (Laughing) Let’s be honest here. No, I’m kidding about that, but the point is we want to relate to kids. But there is a huge problem. The huge problem is – and, Carl, you know my background in film, movies, as a screenwriter, and the visual stuff. I’m of the “boob tube” generation. You know, we started it. We’re nowhere near where this generation is in terms of the appeal of visual information and so on. But the difficulty that I see is that we want them into the Word of God. The written Word.
And you’ve seen this. You know I did a 10-part series called Bible Survival. And the whole idea was – it sounds like a contradiction in terms – but I needed to use visuals to get their attention, but once I got their attention, I wanted them in the written Word of God. Now, impossible! But all things are possible with the Lord. And it’s worked. The homeschoolers use it, and so on. But every episode points them to the written Word of God. Why? Because it’s objective. It’s God’s direct communication to us. It’s not subjective. You know, that’s the problem with visuals. I grew up as a Roman Catholic. And we had statues and paintings and all of that stuff. Well, they were moving, because it was great art. But doctrinally…biblically, forget it!
So that’s the problem with it. It’s kind of like a minefield. You want to get their attention, but you don’t want them locked into something that’s so subjective, so experiential. What do you think about that?
Carl: It is a very difficult task because I can see how visual this culture is. So you can use that. You can use it in a good way or you can use it in a bad way. And I think that by using…as my son does with the video games, to take a video game and then to show them, “This is what the Scripture says about this. You’re seeing this being depicted. You’re seeing this as normal.” And the problem is that when they see it, it becomes normal. This is just the way things are. And it’s like, “No. You’ve got to understand. This is not normal. This is a consequence of the fact that we’re suffering from the curse. And so let’s go back and see what normal should be, and see why we are where we are, but you can’t do that apart from the Word of God. If you’ve lost that history that the Word of God gives us, you’re never going to be able to understand why we see beauty that we see, but then there’s this ugly craziness that we see going on as well. How do you mesh those two?
Without that written Word, that written history, that actual historical account that God gave to us in His Word, we cannot understand this world that we live in.”
Tom: Carl, as we’ve had the opportunity…I mean, it’s a thrill for me, because, as you said, you’re all over the place. But from time to time, we get to minister together, and I keep thinking about Truth 4 Youth, and I remember the last time we were there – I don’t know if you recall this – because it’s so right up your alley, I said to these young people (I think we had, like, 180 of them. This was huge. It was packed…)
Carl: They couldn’t take any more!
Tom: So I said to them, “Look, the speakers, we speakers are here because our heart is [that] we want you to think biblically. But you know what? We’ll be thrilled if you just think!”
Tom: Because they are…and one of the things I love about when you minister is you get these kids to think. And it’s not…we’re not talking about rocket science. We’re not talking about something so complex that they can’t get a handle on, just simple truth! But we’re moving away from that, big time, so…
Carl: Well, you know, it’s interesting. The top three comments that I get are from folks – and I’ve had a couple of them just this week from the conferences that I did, “You take things that are so complex and make it easy.” And I don’t understand that. It’s just the way my mind is. I can’t get technical. But, you know, you were talking about your inventions with your PVC and…
Tom: Rube Goldberg.
Carl: Goldberg. Right. I have always wanted to do an illustration using a Rube Goldberg-type of thing. I think that this is something you could do, Tom. Think about it. You bring in one of these inventions, and ask, “How did this thing come together? I mean, seriously. It’s been in the garage here, and we had an earthquake, and the earthquake rolled all this stuff and made this…(one of your things). From that little simple thing alone, you know that somebody had to do something with this PVC pipe, this bicycle inner tube. This stuff is not going intertwine itself because of some windstorm.”
Tom: And it’s problem solving. That’s all it’s about. I find…let’s throw some kudos to the older generation. One of the values of my age is that we’ve been there, done that. We’ve seen things attempted and tried and failed or something like that, and now, many at my age are retired, and so they have time to think and work things out. So they’re doing some really good stuff. But we still need the young minds. The young minds that are critical thinkers, that really can handle…can handle that!
Carl: Yeah. So let me throw this in there, Tom. This is one of the things that I also said on Sunday: “Mature generation, I pray that you don’t hear me saying that, okay, we’re done. You’ve done your time, and it’s time to move on.” Because I hear that coming from the mature generation: “I taught Sunday school for 35 years. I’m done.” What? It’s a prison sentence? You did your 35 years and now you’re free? No, man, this generation needs so badly what the mature generation has to offer, which is problem solving, which is experience. Skin their knees, bump their elbows, man. And they can pour that into them.
And you need that younger generation with the energy, brother! I’m tired. I can’t run fast! (Laughing)
Tom: Well, but there may be out there this line, “Hey, old dude! Way to go, old dude!”
Carl: So if we can get…if we can just bottle this, where the mature generation is coming in and maybe setting aside the fact that this guy’s got long hair, he’s got a pierce, or he’s got a tat, or he’s got purple hair, which I don’t care about; I don’t want any of that stuff! But here’s the reality. I can’t let that keep me from realizing that this young person is going to spend eternity somewhere. And they need something other than what the world has given them, which is hopelessness. We have hope! His name is Jesus! And so, let’s speak the truth to them.
Tom: Yeah, you know, Carl – you’re going to be one of our speakers at the conference, and obviously this will be played after the conference – it’ll be sent out – but one of the issues is going to be how the world is moving from reason, from objective reason, to subjective, experiential, feelings-oriented stuff, and so on.
Carl: Boy, though, we’re there!
Tom: Yeah, we are! But that’s why I love the way you approach young people. You want to get them back to thinking. And thinking objectively. I mean, they can challenge you. You want them to challenge you, and all of that. But you want them to think. It’s the world, certainly. It’s in the church big time. We’re moving into “feelings.”
“Well, Carl, I hear what you say, and it makes sense, but that’s not the way I feel.” End of conversation.
Carl: Yeah, I had this young…I think she was about a 14-year-old young lady come up to me at one of the camps that I was at, and she said, “Oh, you offended me! You have just offended me, because you said that my friends – they’re good people, and they’re going to go to hell because they don’t know Jesus. And you offended me for that.”
And I said, “Ma’am, can I ask you a question?”
“Are you a Christian?”
“Well, yes, I’m a Christian.”
I said, “So, these friends of yours that you’re hanging out with, what do they say about the Bible?”
“Well, ‘that’s not true.’ They don’t believe it; it’s got errors,” and all this kind of thing.
And I said, “Okay, so why would that not offend you? Why would you not be offended at the fact that some of your friends are saying things about the Word of God, calling it to be untrue, which is a lie, versus somebody who is looking you in the eye, loves you enough to tell you that your friend is going to spend eternity somewhere, and if you don’t love them enough to tell them the truth, you don’t really love them. Which one should offend you more? And, by the way, you offended me by coming up and challenging me. Can we get rid of that goofiness, Ma’am? Let’s just get back to ‘What is truth?’ and let’s deal with it, and let’s speak the truth in love.”
Tom: Yeah, and it’s not going that way. The world’s not going that way. We talked earlier, from the airport, about our “Justice” Department suing the state of North Carolina - I don’t know where that is now, but why do they want to sue the state of North Carolina? Because North Carolina said, “Look, in our schools for our young people, we’re going on the basis of their biology. If they were born a male, they use the male restrooms. If they were born female, they use the female restrooms.”
Well, wait a minute! Now our Justice Department is saying, “Wait a minute. Gender identity has nothing to do with biology. It has to do with feelings.
Tom: Once we move down that direction – and we’re rushing down that direction, you’re going to have to change the name of your ministry or something like that: “Reasons” because nobody wants to be reasonable. And if there’s an upside to this, it’s that this is becoming so absurd that even the liberals are screaming that we’ve got a problem here.
Carl: What I see going on is like the grey is disappearing in our culture, you know. It used to be like, “Well, it’s kind of hard. Is he in, is he out?” You know, it’s getting pretty simple now. It’s like what we see when we go to England, man. You’ve got the remnant. And that remnant, boy, you get around them, they are fired up, and it is a blast to be around them.
Carl: And I think that that’s where our culture is headed, is that the grey is going to keep disappearing because you know what? There’s no way to be grey on this issue. You have to speak the truth in love: “If you do this, there are consequences, and I have to love you enough to tell you about those consequences!” That’s one of the things that I’m really going to be hitting at my second talk at the conference here.
Tom: Now, Carl, we’ve been talking about young people. We’ve been talking certainly about what Reasons for Hope is doing, and that’s great, but let’s talk about parents. What’s their responsibility in all this?
Carl: Oh man. What a challenge! I mean, the church is suffering from broken homes, the same as the world if not more so. And parents–I mean you don’t want ‘em to come in and be just like a horse that you ride hard and put ‘em away wet and just beat them up. And I understand. There’s so much to being able to just survive. I mean, to have three jobs, two jobs, to survive. But to me, parents – and this where a lot of times I’ll say, “Ladies, you’ve got to turn your ears off here for a second and let me talk to the men. And, men, let me just love you enough to tell you that we want to complain about the White House, we want to complain about the schoolhouse, we want to complain about the church house: “Our children are going away, and they’re not staying, and they don’t believe anything anymore. So, the White House is doing that, the schoolhouse is doing this.” And I’m like, “No! The problem is not the schoolhouse, White House, or church house. The problem is your and my house, because it’s our responsibility to train and educate our children. It’s our job to bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And for too long now, we, especially fathers, have pawned our children off on the government by putting them in public school and letting the public school teach them, educate, train them to teach, or putting them in the Christian school, and…sorry! That’s not their primary responsibility, or let mom take over that responsibility of training them, educating them. I’m saying, Dads, you have got to be actively engaged, whether we let the government help us or the church help us or mom help us in our responsibility to educate.
Now, I know by saying that, there’s a lot of ladies out there that are single parents, and they’re like, “Carl, you’re killing me!”
No! Look, we live in a fallen world. We have to not take away from the fact, though, that there is a way that is right, and, men, you have got to step up and be the men that God has called you to be. I know that we’re busy and working and all that, but you know what? It is the parents’ responsibility to do the training and educating. And if they’ve got them in a system that’s undermining what they’re doing, they really need to thing very strong and hard about that, because there’s only one thing that you can take with you to heaven, and it’s not the toys, it’s not the bank account, it’s not the titles – it’s your children.
Tom: Yeah. I’ve been involved in The Berean Call for 25 years, and worked with Dave for almost 40 years, and, Carl, when I started working with him, he had this young, former Catholic who didn’t really understand Christianity, didn’t…but Dave took me on, and I was able to work with him. Once we got rolling, I was thinking about that – 30 years ago, The Seduction of Christianity – the Lord really impressed upon my heart, because I believed my calling, when I understood what a calling was, and the gift, and I understood what a gift was, was to help Dave Hunt do what God had called him to do.
But the Lord stopped me. He said, “Tom, that is not your first ministry. Your ministry is at home.
And I am reaping the benefits of believing the Lord, trusting Him for that. And I thank the Lord every day for my involvement with this ministry, but my first ministry has always been…you know, I’ve got five. “I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in the truth.” I won’t compare them with any other families or kids. I know some people who I covet their walk with the Lord, but in some cases, you know, their children are spiritual train wrecks. But that’s where our heart has to be.
I’ll just give you one more example. Sometimes when I do a men’s retreat, we’ve got to get down to this. This is reflecting just what you said. I said, “You know, I know men, just like you men here, I know men who if a thief broke into their house, they wouldn’t have any problem picking up a baseball bat to protect their wife and their children. But sadly, I don’t know many men who will pick up the sword of the Spirit and teach their kids or their wives.”
So anyway, it’s our encouragement, in this day and age – I mean, we are right up to our eyebrows in the apostasy. There isn’t any doubt about that. So we’ve got to circle the wagons. We’ve got to do… I mean, that’s one of my talks at the conference. How do we go about this?
Carl: You start at home, man. Even though, it’s like that whole thing is so overwhelming. And I understand that. I do a reverse pyramid sometimes to kind of make this point where I have a bunch of people, say, 50-60 people up here, and the church is like, “We can’t do it. We can’t reach them all. Everything has gotten so bad.”
“And you know what? You’re right. You can’t reach them all. That’s not your job, but you know where you start?”
And then I reverse the pyramid, and I go down to the very bottom with just two people. You start in your home, you start with you. Husbands, you and your spouse, man, you get in the Word, you do your devotions, you pray together. And you know what’s going to happen? You’re going to impact - if you have children, you’re going to impact them. And if you just follow that pyramid up, and what happens is that when that passes on to the next generation, then they have something to pass on… Quit… Forget about trying to reach masses and get back to what Christ did. Christ turned the world upside down by pouring into the twelve.
He poured intimately into three, and more intimately into one, but we’ve got to get out of this mindset that big is successful. Because big is not success. Obedience is success.
Carl: And when you get in and you start pouring into your family, I’m telling you, it’s like garlic, man. You can’t keep it in. You’re gonna stink, and you’re going to impact people around you.
And that’s what our faith does for us.
Tom: Well, primarily at The Berean Call, and when I’m out speaking, you know, Mongolia, South Africa, Albania – all over the place – and in meeting people internationally, believers, they’re concerned because they think “What can we do? This is overwhelming…and it’s overwhelming…and it’s overwhelming.” And it is!
Carl: It is!
Tom: But what they don’t recognize is that we’re in a rescue operation. God to Revelation 1, 2, and 3. Jesus said, “For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear…” So, that’s our deal. You know, we’re co-workers with the Lord, but He enables us, as you said, I would be absolutely thrilled beyond belief if I could know that I affected one individual with regard to eternal life. Can you imagine that, Carl? You’re in heaven for all eternity with somebody that you’ve been able to minister to.
Carl: Oh, yeah!
Tom: So it’s a rescue operation. We’re not going to turn this around. There’s not going to be grand revival, okay? But there’s going to be pockets of revival. There’s going to be… in the mission field, or the local churches or individuals…
Carl: Or families…
Tom: And with all of that, it’s not on our shoulders!
Carl: That’s right.
Tom: But we’re privileged to work with the Lord, and to minister as He opens doors, leads, guides, directs, and so on.
Tom: So, Carl, we’ve got about three more minutes left. What can you tell us? What’s on your heart?
Carl: You know, I’ll tell you a story that my pastor did for me and got my mind right when I started in ministry. I was a full-time controller, part-time in ministry, but I was really doing full-time ministry, because you know, travel and speaking…
Tom: That’s air traffic controller, by the way.
Tom: No pressure there, Carl!
Carl: Well, it was fun… But every week I came back, my pastor would ask me the same question: “How’d it go, Carl? How’d it go?” And I didn’t know how to answer that question, so I’d just joke about it: “Oh, nobody slept! Nobody threw anything!” yada yada… Three months he kept asking me the same question, and finally, after three months, I answered him straight. I said, “Pastor, I don’t know how to answer that question. I’ve been in meetings where this guy’s droning on and on and on, and I’m looking at my watch, like, Did I go into the Twilight Zone? Because thing hasn’t moved for an hour. And at the end, people would walk up and pat him on the back. ‘That was really good! Got a lot out of that!’ And I was like, Dude, I got nothing, okay.
“So I don’t put a lot of stock in that. But I have had some times when people will come up to me at the end and say, ‘I need to be the spiritual husband. I need to be a spiritual father. I’m going to get into the school. I’m going to do something.’”
And I said, “Pastor, that’s when I really feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
And my pastor looks at me. He’d set me up for three months, and he said, “Carl, you’re wrong.”
“Okaaay… why is that?”
He said, “Carl, how long did Noah preach?”
“Well 50-120 years, depending on what you read there.”
“How many people responded? Carl, if you base your success in ministry on the responses of others, you’ll always be lonely in ministry. You’ve got to ask yourself if you were obedient, and if you were obedient, you were successful, regardless if anybody ever responds.”
That has been the one thing that has kept me going in ministry. I don’t care if there’s one person there. I don’t care if there’s 10,000 people there. I’m going to, to the best of my ability, be obedient, and watch what the Lord does. Just let the garlic ooze out of you, brother. Just let the Holy Spirit ooze out of you, and speak the truth in love, and I’m telling you, there’s a generation out there begging for it.
Tom: Yeah, and that’s our hearts. We want to please the Lord, and that’s only going to be done…that can’t be done by our flesh, by our pragmatism, or whatever you want to call it. It’s “not by might, nor by power, but by God’s spirit…” and we’re thrilled and privileged to be a part of that.
Tom: Well, my guest has been my buddy Carl Kerby, and, folks, what can I say that Carl didn’t say or we didn’t present? But we just want to – in terms of the ministry we’re in – we want to please the Lord. But we want what we have to say that’s of the Lord to be received out there. You know, God’s given us a book. It’s His instruction manual. And He’s also, for true believers, He’s given us His Holy Spirit to enable us to understand and then to do the things that are difficult.
So don’t come at this like, “Well, this is out of my league, and I can’t do this.” The Bible says, “With God all things are possible.” And He’s given us His Holy Spirit to enable us to do the very things that He wants us to do. So, praise the Lord for that. Carl, thanks for being with us, and we look forward to…folks, I know this is after the conference, but I can’t wait to hear you on Friday.
Carl: Thanks, Tom. I really do appreciate you guys, and the Lord bless The Berean Call.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, Oregon 97708; call us at 800-937-6638; or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.