Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom launches a two-part series with guests, Carl, and Carl Jr. [Dennis], Kerby. Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week, it is my privilege to be talking to Carl Kerby, Sr., and Carl [Dennis] Kerby, Jr. And Carl, Sr.’s ministry is Reasons for Hope, and his son is the cofounder of Apolomedia. Guys, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Carl: Hey man, thank you for letting us be with you, Tom! We count it a blessing, man!
Tom: Okay. Well how about you, Carl, Jr.?
Dennis: Oh, thank you so much for having us.
Tom: Okay, if you would, I’d like each of you to tell our listeners about your ministries. Let’s start with Carl, Jr. Now, what about Apolomedia? What’s that all about?
Dennis: Apolomedia takes two words that I am very passionate about, the first one being “apolo-,” apologetics - having a defense and answer for why you believe what you believe. And having a father that’s been in ministry most of my adult life, he always taught me to search the Scriptures, to find answers, to be a Berean.
And so that’s a big part of my life, but I had another passion, and that was media. I went to school for a media arts degree. I have a similar background as you, Tom. I liked making films, and I did photography for 10 years. And so I wanted to take my two passions and use them to point people to Christ, so I took apolo-media, put them together, Apolomedia. And it’s about teaching people how to have answers, and how to discern in the area of media.
Tom: Okay. You know, I can see I’m going to confuse myself as well as our audience if I don’t get the junior-senior name thing straightened out. Now, I do know, knowing you guys well, I know that most of the time Carl D. Kerby, Jr. is called “Dennis” by his family. So that’s the way I’ll address him since this is an audio broadcast, and you two do sound alike. Now, there wouldn’t be a problem if we were doing video in terms of separating you two. Dennis is better-looking than his dad thanks to his mother’s good looks. Can I get an amen from that?
Carl: I have to admit that, yes.
Tom: Okay. So, Carl, what is the mission of Reasons for Hope?
Carl: You know, one thing I’d like to add in on Dennis’s mission, as well, is that I love it when he tells people that they are trying to teach parents and reach gamers, because that’s very important that the teaching-the-parent part come through.
Now, with Reasons for Hope, we kind of - since I’m a simple man, I had to keep it as simple as possible. I took the H-O-P-E and I made, like, a little thing up, and said, “H stands for we want to help Christians to lead people to Jesus.” I mean, that’s totally important with what we do. One of our tag lines is, “When it comes to our faith, we need to know it, live it, share it.” So we also deal with the apologetics, because that’s “know it,” but then we also have to deal with the “live it” part! And if you have all the answers in the world, beat everybody up with your IQ, but you don’t talk about…live a good life, I should say, then that’s called hypocrisy, and that’s one of the big attacks against Christianity. So know it, live it, but then the share it part, we have to share Jesus.
So H: “Help Christians to lead people to Jesus.”
And then the O is to “Offset wrong thinking with biblical truth.” You know, that’s our only place that we truly have hope is His Word, God’s Word. It’s our foundation; it’s our standard. We need to be able to start there.
And the P is “Provide resources to give biblical answers to real world questions.” Because, let’s be honest, a lot of times I see apologists not apologizing or anything like that, but they’re answering questions that people aren’t asking. So one of the things that we’ve tried to do really strongly is, “Let’s go to them, to this generation, let them ask the questions, and then we deal with them.” And it’s pretty amazing what you’ll find.
But then the E stands for “Encourage the church to rely on the Word of God as the foundation of their reasoning.” Without that, we’ve got nothing, man. So that’s what we try to do. We try to offer true hope, which is Jesus Christ.
Tom: Yeah. You know, and the hope aspect, it’s just critical…
How many times…I know you guys have, I have - it’s heartbreaking, it’s tragic when you know people, whether it be relatives or whoever it might be, and they’re going through all kinds of issues - they’re dealing with issues, tragedies, all of those kinds of things - but the heartbreak is they don’t have any hope! You know? And we thank Jesus every day, because He is our hope, what He has done for us, what He continues to do for us. Boy, I mean, what a difference.
So, you know, both you guys, I just applaud. And, Carl, you and I go way back, so to see your heart for evangelism, for - not only your understanding of creation vs. evolution, and so on, but… And I know what drives you, because I know you fairly well - it’s evangelizing: get people to Jesus, because He is our only hope.
Carl: The only one that works. He’ll never leave you, never forsake you.
Tom: Yeah, for sure. Now, what I want to discuss with you two today and next week is young people and the influence media has in their lives.
Now, Carl, you know, I love to throw kudos at you, because I love you, brother; but if there’s a better communicator to young people in the church today, I mean, seriously, I don’t know who that might be! And I’ve been around the world with you practically, so take that from an old dude to a semi-old dude, because you’re moving up there, you know what I mean?
Carl: I am!
Tom: So give us your impression, both of you - give us your impression of the hundreds upon hundreds of young people that you interact with today.
Carl: I’ll tell you a story from a camp that I did not too long ago. A young lady comes in, and she basically looked like a zombie. She was on some sort of medication and just wasn’t there. By the end of the second day, she started to clear up. Third day she was finally there, and during the presentation, she was zen, she was listening.
By the fifth day, she goes to her pastor and says, “I want to come back next week.” I just happened to be at that camp two weeks in a row. So the pastor calls the mother, and the mother’s like, “Please, just get her out of my hair.” I mean, just a terrible family situation - breaks my heart. So that young lady came back the next week, and she was fired up the whole week.
I got an email from that young lady about a month and a half ago (two months ago now), and she wanted to tell me - she said, “I don’t think…I don’t know if you remember me,” as if I could forget, “but I’m the young lady that came, and I just want you to know that ever since your camp, I’m living for the Lord, I’m reading the Word, I’m sharing Jesus Christ with my friends, and just a totally different person.”
I didn’t know that when she came in that first week, the reason that she was the way that she was for the first couple of days is that she had tried to commit suicide, and so she’d been in a place where they had really medicated her. That young lady is on fire for the Lord, and that’s what I see going on is there’s a generation out there that is absolutely hungry and looking for truth, looking for folks to look them in the eye and get real.
That’s where Dennis and I are right now. We’re with a high school. We’ve been here for the last two days, and the same thing. We’ve spent literally the entire day the last two days… And these young folks have sat for hours, and they’re listening, they’re asking questions - we’ve probably had at least four hours of question and answer over the last two days. They’re hungry. That’s what they’re looking for.
Tom: Yeah. Now, Dennis, is that the way you see it, I mean from the perspective of someone whose peers…I mean, you know, obviously you’re older than the people in the Christian school and so on, but we’re talking about you as a part of the upcoming generation. Is that the way you see it?
Dennis: Sometimes I do feel like I’m that bridge between the older and younger generation where - you know, I’m still not that far out of college, but now I’m a parent, father of two, and I’m trying to take the life lessons I’ve learned from my father and apply them in my own life. And here’s the thing: when I watch these young people listen to my dad and watch him speak…and my dad will shoot them straight. He won’t hold anything back, and there are times I’ve even put my hands on my head and shake my head because he just said something that may be viewed as offensive to some people, but the youth are hungry for that. They don’t want games and tap dances anymore. They want someone to shoot them straight and speak the truth.
And you know the way my dad speaks in front of people? He’s like that at home with us. He’s passionate about teaching, and he doesn’t hold back, and he does it in love. And my sister and I were very blessed to have a father that would shoot us straight and wouldn’t hold back if we had something that we were dealing with. And that’s what our younger generation wants, and I can say that from firsthand experience.
Carl: Tom, now let me throw this in at you: I think the most fun I had over these last two days is when my son and I - we did a joint session on “Is The Bible Biblical?” Now, people got mad at me down in San Antonio, because they’re like, “Oh, you’re questioning the Bible!”
And I said, “Didn’t you read the subtitle? ‘Critically Evaluating the History Channel’s Hit TV Series.’” We took the first five minutes of The Bible, and then just started breaking it down, and, “Here’s what it’s saying, but here’s what the Word of God says.” And we had a blast! I mean, we went to the point that we had to finish so they could go to lunch.
Well, they…we couldn’t finish the talk, and this is five minutes. You couldn’t get five minutes done in an hour? No, because there was so much interaction. So when we’re - during lunch, the guys are like, “Well, when we come back, would you finish that talk? Because the kids are really into it!” So we ended up going almost an hour and a half critically evaluating five minutes of a TV show. And it was a joint thing, it was back and forth. And to me, that was the most exciting thing to be able to work with my son like that, to see him taking what we did as parents and now applying and living it and doing it. That’s the blessing to me, Tom.
Tom: You know, Carl, you remember when we were in England down in Devon with Truth 4 Youth. We had - what, about 180 young people, pretty much in their late teens-early 20s. And I don’t know if you remember this, but I told them upfront that we were thrilled to be there; we were thrilled to be a part of the program there, and what we wanted was - our goal or objective was for them to think biblically. But then you remember I paused and said, “But you know what, we’ll be thrilled if you just think!”
Carl: Yep. Exactly. That’s the key, man, because from what I’ve seen just from my personal experience - and I don’t want to come across like nobody’s doing anything good. I’m not saying that, but what I’ve experienced a lot is that we’ve spent a lot of time teaching people what to think, but not how to think. And it’s vitally important that we start teaching the generation how to apply all these wonderful things that we’ve taught them in the Scripture, but now how to put it into play in real world questions. I mean, today one of the questions: “What about marijuana? What about homosexuality?” These things aren’t going away, and we’ve got to apply the biblical foundation that we have to deal with those issues, and not just what we think, what we feel, and what we don’t like or dislike. It’s what does God say on the topic, and how do we deal with it?
Tom: Carl, you know, again, coming back to that point, it’s not a putdown when we say, “Kids, we want you to think!” Because they’re equipped - they can do it! They’re sharp. But, you know, as - whether it be apathy, whether it be a lack of being challenged, whatever it might be, you know… As Dennis pointed out that you did with your kids, Carl, that’s where we want to be, because they are equipped to do it, but we’ve just got to nudge them along, encourage them, motivate them in some way.
Now, that brings me to the second question: My generation, we were called the “boob tube generation.” That’s when it got started. But now we see a level of sophistication with regard to media. Now, my question is: Has that helped them to be any more discerning?
Dennis: You know, I’m going to jump in on that one, because it’s such a tough question to answer, because in some ways technology is giving us so many more tools to be discerning. I mean, you can download my father’s ministry’s app totally free, and there’s lots of resources on there. You can find information on the internet. Usually - it used to be that you’d either have to go to church or a library to find information. Information is everywhere, but unfortunately, information that is also detrimental is out there, as well.
And you look at the comments where people are now using Facebook as a good source of news and information, and they’re not doing research and looking deep in the source and finding out what they’re hearing is true or not. So is our younger generation being more discerning? I would say no, but they could be. The tools are out there if we were to teach them and show them the tools that are out there.
And quite honestly, we’ve always had the number one most important tool in front of us the entire time, right? We’ve had the Bible, and that’s going to be the key is if we can teach our younger generation with all these new mediums and media, whether it’s movies, video games, books, music, if we compare all that to Scripture, they can do it.
Carl: You know, it’s interesting, Tom, over the last two days, two of the talks that I did was “Answering Skeptics: Richard Dawkins” and “Answering Skeptics: Bill Nye.” Well, during the Q and A on the last one, somebody made a comment about the fact that, you know, we see elephants now, and elephants, they’re evolving. They’re not having tusks anymore, and there’s fewer and fewer elephants with tusks. And so what I did was jump in and say, “Okay, guys, now I want you to apply what we’ve been talking about for the last two days: what is an explanation that would just tell us why we’re seeing elephants without tusks becoming the norm rather than elephants with tusks?” And you could see the gears going, and you’d throw them a couple little [tid-bits] there, and sure enough, man, they jump on it. And it’s like, “Oh, well, just like in the mosquitos: if you’ve got the mosquitos with the resistance to DDT and you’ve got the mosquitos that don’t have it, you shoot them with DDT, the ones that don’t have the resistance, they die. The ones that have survive, and then the next generation you’ve got more mosquitos that can resist it; they survive. Well, if you’re killing the animals, why are they killing elephants? For their tusks! Well, if you kill the ones off with tusks and the ones that don’t have tusks survive, well, that genetic information is passed…” you could see them thinking. That’s my point is that they were reasoning through these things, and it wasn’t evolution, it was, “Oh, this is speciation. Of course this makes sense.” It was fun to watch that happen.
Tom: Right. Entertainment - that can be a problematic word. Again, I think about my generation in trying to raise up, certainly, Dennis’s generation; and you know, I say we blew it, because we thought entertainment was the way to get them to church and keep them in church, and so on. But it’s really not playing out the way we wanted.
Now, do you see entertainment across the board - you mentioned a number of things earlier, Carl, in terms of media, and so did you, Dennis - do you see that as problematic for them, and if so, in what ways?
Carl: It’s a double-edged sword it seems like to me, because I’m sure that people watching me speak - well, at least I hope they say - and they were “entertained.” You know? Because, look, I want folks to laugh. I want them to think, and I’m using media and I’m bringing in images; and it’s fast-paced, and you’re doing all of those things. So there are probably people out there that are going to say, “Well, you’re just an entertainer.”
Well, there is an aspect to what we do, but I would not classify it as something like a movie or something like this, because what I think we need to do is find a way to present the gospel without watering down - no softening, no trying to make it more palatable - but do it in a way that you’re going to get a generation to pay attention. So for me, if that means that I’ve got to speak at a quicker rate, if I use video like the deBunked videos to bring them in - a little tongue in cheek, jab-jab-jab - and get them to think, I’m going to do that. But my motivation isn’t really to entertain, my motivation is to educate, indoctrinate - yes, I will say it. I want them to think from the Bible, I want them to trust the Word of God, to allow that to be their starting point. So I look at it - my motivations are not to entertain, but it is to educate. But there is an aspect of what I do that I hope will keep their attention so that they’ll gain and learn and grow in knowledge.
Dennis: The problem that we’re having with our culture today is we believe that entertainment means watering down Scripture because it’s too hard for them, and, “Oh, well, the Bible…it’d be hard to say that, and we’re going to come across as haters, so let’s just talk about the stuff we like about in the Bible.” And so the problem in our society is we want to water down the Bible to try to make it friendly to everyone, but like we talked about earlier, I believe that yes, you may be able to draw some people in with loud music and pointing people away from the Scripture. But when it comes down to it, they are hungry for the truth. And I think you’re going to make more of an impact if you just shoot people straight, you present the whole Word of God, and you don’t water it down. It’s going to make an impact, and I’ve seen that traveling with my dad for the last couple of days. There was - yes, we’ve had a great time with the youth, but I know for a fact we didn’t water anything down.
Tom: Yeah. Well, let me push the envelope on that just a bit. You’ve probably heard the line “What brings them in keeps them in.” And if you think about that - now, wait a minute: First of all, you have to bring them in, okay? So, Carl, related to what you said, if you’re going to bore them stiff, okay, it’s not going to help. You’re not going to bring them in. But it depends on what brings them in. If you bring them in with just the pure mentality for entertainment, then you have to keep not only “upping the ante,” as it were, but you have to keep up with the world, and the church is never going to do that, okay? It never should want to do that.
But let’s push that a little bit, because I have seen it over and over again on a not-so-good side of trying to bring young people in. There’s a bait-and-switch kind of thing where you lay out something that attracts their flesh, and then that’s followed by something that’s supposed to capture them spiritually. That doesn’t work, does it?
Carl: I’ll tell you what, I had a big church - very big church, okay? Washington D.C. - called me up, wanted me to come speak; they wanted me to do two 10-minute power messages, and I said, “What’s a 10-minute power message?”
“Oh, we do this every week. We do 20 minutes of ping pong, foosball, popcorn, 20 minutes of music, 10-minute power message, five minutes of prayer, then we send them out.”
And I told the guy, I said, “Well, thanks, but I can’t do it.”
He said, “What?”
I said, “Look, I’m long-winded. I can’t tell you my name in 10 minutes.”
And he got offended: “Well, we do it every week!”
And I said, “Well, you’re better than me.” I said, “You want me to talk about a tough topic in 10 minutes. I can’t do it.”
We negotiated. To shorten the story up, he finally agreed to give me 35 minutes. I got out there, they walked me through this facility - they had two sanctuaries for the youth that held a thousand each. They had a room that had every video game under the sun, a skateboard ramp that was like 20-foot tall - these kids were flying off this thing, flying 20-30 feet up the air. And he’s walking me around showing me all this stuff. He takes me into the one room we’re going to be in, and he says, “Carl, now, tonight, when you lose them, just call the band back up onstage, and we’ll get them back under control.” He’s like, “You can’t…the kids can’t sit for 35 minutes. So when you lose them, just call the band back up onstage.”
I said, “I won’t lose them.” I took 40 minutes. They’re not going to invite me back, I took the extra five minutes. Those kids after the first session jumped up, ran out of the room, and I was like…it was me, the youth pastor, and my wife in there, and the youth pastor’s at the back of the room. I walked over to my wife and said, “I don’t know what happened. I have never seen kids move that quick!” They ran next door, got all the kids off the skateboard ramp, off the video games, and brought them in. There was standing room only in that second session.
What brings them in may keep them in, but I don’t want to keep them in, I want to get them out. if you bring them there and you shoot them straight, and you let them know that their faith is real and it’s got answers to real issues, you’re going to see real growth. It’s not about just keeping them in there and entertaining them. If I’m going to do anything, I want to get them fired up about the Word of God and get them out of the building. We’ve got too many people sitting in the church pews right now, in my humble opinion.
Tom: Yeah. Well, I want to go back to something that was a number of years ago, but it makes a really good point. Do you guys remember the Bibleman? And I’m not talking about the Bible Answer Man, I’m talking about this character who was kind of a makeshift Marvel superhero like Captain America or Iron Man or Spider-Man. And this went around - I guess it was directed primarily at middle school kids and so on - but the whole idea was to have this character (you know, with his sidekicks and so on) get these middle schoolers excited about the Bible. Big problem there, because even though they may have gotten excited about so-called Bibleman, they…could they find that kind of stuff in the Bible?
Carl: I don’t want to get them excited about Bibleman, I want to get them excited about the Word of God. When they learn how to use the Word to answer the questions that they’re getting confronted with, that’s when you see real excitement. I’ll just let Dennis jump in on that one.
Dennis: Well, you know, you talked about us trying to imitate the world with Bibleman, trying to be like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America. And I think a lot of times, with my media background, that is the problem with Christian media: We’re trying to be imitators, trying to copy the world to try to entertain the world, and we should be originators. We should be presenting the gospel and not being worried about, “Well, can we copy this cool superhero, or copy that…Oh, we really like what the world is doing here, so we want to copy that and maybe change a few things to make it a little bit more Christian.” No, our starting point needs to be the Word of God, and being original in how we present that.
Carl: You know, one of the challenges that I gave, Tom, especially to these young folks here, is: “Look, we are bound in ministry by our lack of imagination. You do not water down, you don’t change the message, but you get out and use the gifts that God has given to you to communicate that message.” Now, that doesn’t mean that we get out and get all…take it to the craziness. But we have been given gifts; if it’s a gift of drawing, use that gift of drawing. I mean, there’s ways…I’ve seen guys that use art as a way to draw people in and then shoot the gospel and shoot it straight with them. There are ways to use those gifts, but if we’re not getting it to the point where we’re taking them to Jesus Christ, we’re taking them to His Word, and we’re just entertaining…Bibleman was pretty lame.
Tom: Yeah. Well, again, it goes back to what attracts them: “What draws them in keeps them in.” And if you’re going to go with something that comes out of a marketing department - and major churches, big churches today, they do everything with a marketing department - boy, that’s poison for the body of Christ. But if you try to do that, as mentioned earlier, you’re setting something up that you can’t sustain, and you don’t want to sustain it because it’s the world!
You know, if the world - and it affects the world - if the world says, “Oh, well, they’re kind of like us except not quite as good, not quite as dramatic, not quite as exciting,” and so on…I mean, we - and when I say “we,” those who know the Lord, those who have the Word of God - have the truth! Jesus said, “If you are my disciples indeed, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” And that translates into just…Carl and Dennis, just what you guys said earlier: giving answers to young people who are struggling with issues. But they’re answers that come out of the truth, that they’re eternal truths.
Dennis: It was so exciting in our last session today when we went through The Bible of the History Channel show, and you have the new one A.D. that came out. But watching the youth, when we only watched five minutes of that clip, and every single one of them had the Word of God on their laps…
Dennis: …and we would just stop it after playing five seconds, and you could hear all the pages flipping while they’re trying to have an answer and show how - “Look, what you see on that screen is not what the Bible presents,” and how to have an answer for that. And it was just such a great feeling today to hear that, not only see it.
Carl: Man, can I challenge parents to do that with your children! Watch a show like that with the Word of God, going through there. TiVo it so you can do the stop thing. You don’t have to sit and watch the whole thing. TiVo it, and then if, if, if you’re going to watch these things, if you’re going to allow them in your home - I’m not going to tell you to watch them or not to watch them - but if you’re going to do it, sit there with the Word of God and say, “Okay, hold up, hold up, this is what this says here. Look at what just happened there! Hmm. What are the implications of that?”
It was a blast to watch these guys wrestling through those things! And if the parents could just pick up the Word of God and start pouring into their children like that and teaching them how to apply it in this everyday life, real life, I think good things would happen, Tom! I just believe that.
Tom: Well, I agree with you, Carl. We’re out of time for today, but my guests have been my buddies Carl Kerby, Sr., Carl Kerby, Jr. - Dennis. And, guys, I want to thank you for participating. We’re going to pick this up next week, the Lord willing, and we’re going to deal with some of these issues that are influencing young people. Certainly I want to talk, because you guys mentioned it, I want to talk about A.D. The Bible Continues, and some of the problems there not just for young people, but for adults. So, guys, thanks for being with me, and we look forward to next week.
Carl: Thanks, Tom.
Dennis: Thank you!
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. We’re glad you could tune in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.