Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is It All About Advertising?

Image courtesy of Scott Chan /
The SuperBowl is coming!  You know what that means...commercials!  Not just ordinary commercials either.  Whole creative teams come together to hopefully make an advertising campaign that people will never forget, paying millions of dollars for a 30 or 60 second spot.

Here are some of my favorites:

But why do companies pan out so much cash for cute, funny and hopefully unforgettable commercials?

Answer:  So that their audience of 100 million people might see their product, become interested in their product and hopefully go out and buy what they are trying to sell.

Seems simple enough, right?

It works too.  Just after Christmas, my family went out to Buffalo Wild Wings (which we saw from a commercial)...and while we were there looking at their bazillion TVs, streaming games from all around the country, a commercial came on for night glasses.  The night glasses were supposed to make driving at night easier by making the roads brighter while cutting down from glare of oncoming vehicles.

For those who know my wife, she has an eye condition that will continue to get progressively worse, unless the Lord intervenes.  I thought these glasses would be a good way to help her with her night driving.  So from BDubs, we went across the street to the mall where there was a store called "As Seen on TV".  Inside the store, I found those same glasses and purchased them for Shannon. 

Of course, we didn't know if they were really going to work or if they were a sham, but the product was placed on a commercial in a place where I would see it.  It piqued my interested enough to visit a store where the glasses could be found.  The price was reasonable enough to take a chance on purchasing a pair.  And the result was that Shannon continues to use the glasses because they really do help.  I might even get a pair for myself.

Advertising actually works!!  But what exactly is advertising?

Simply put, advertising is just witnessing on behalf of a product instead of Jesus.  The ingredients are all the same.  Belief that the item sold (or service sold) is good.  Faith that, when purchased, the product will make a tangible difference in the lives of others, who will hopefully then, tell others about your amazing product, leading to more customers.

Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it?  I mean, when was the last time you highly recommended something to someone?  Probably not that long ago.  Whether it was a movie, a car, a restaurant, a hotel, etc..., all of us have given someone unsolicited advice on things we thought best because of how those things have impacted our lives.

Jesus believed in advertising.  When He was here on earth, He sent His disciples to towns ahead of Him so they would be ready when Jesus came to them (Matthew 10:1-16; Luke 10:1-16).  He prepared them for what they should expect, as far as reaction from the people (Matthew 10:17-42).  And when they came back from their advertising campaign, they were greatly encouraged at all God had done through them (Luke 10:17-24).

After Jesus rose from the dead, He basically said...ADVERTISE TO EVERYONE ABOUT ME!!!!!

Of course, He put it more eloquently than that.  Here's what He actually said:

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All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  (Matthew 28:18-20)

But the ingredients of our obedience to this command are found in the formula in advertising.  First, we have to believe that telling others about Christ is good, in other words we have to believe in Christ before telling others about Him.  Second, we have to believe that telling others will make a significant difference in their lives.  Third, we want those affected as we to do the same by telling even more people about Jesus.

Our world today is shameless in their advertising for what they believe.  If you work a job, you may have been asked to say or do things that you thought was crazy, all for the hopes of attracting more business.  The question is:  Are we willing to be just as shameless in our proclamation of Christ?  The answer to that question may very well reveal how much you actually believe in Him. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Biblical Case for Polygamy

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I know what you are thinking.  Somehow, I'm not satisfied with my wife and am looking for some backdoor excuse to love another.  I assure you, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Believe it or not, this post really isn't about me at all.

I've been a pastor for the past 12 years.  Much of that time has been spent with youth and young adults.  There has been an alarming trend I have seen over these years.  Guys are disappearing from the ranks of the faithful.  It can be seen in the massive epidemic of single parent families, mainly lead by women (80%).  Even when the men are still in the relationship, it is often the women who have taken up the role of spiritual leadership, as the men have either abandoned the faith or never had it in the first place.

Pastor Mark Driscoll has stated that the main reason guys aren't involved in the faith is that the church has catered to a population of women and not allowed them to be "dudes".  (You can check out his comments here beginning at the 1:54 mark.) 

I respectfully, yet wholeheartedly, disagree.  I have run a youth group for the last 12 years and it is definitely geared for guys.  Yet, when it comes to leadership and responsibility, the guys run.  No matter the challenge, the vision or the high calling to lead in changing the world for Christ, guys are the last to take up the calling in youth group and are usually the first to bolt for the door after youth group is over.  I commend Mark Driscoll for creating an environment conducive for young men being biblically challenged, but I'm not seeing it on an individual level. 

Maybe it is just the predictable outcome of a culture that is marked by guys fleeing from their responsibilities in marriage and family, while pursuing their own endeavors (be it a career or another relationship).  Or maybe it is the result of the culture itself stating that husbands and fathers are no longer necessary.  (You can listen to an interesting podcast that makes that case here.)  Or maybe it is the invasion of the popular New Atheism movement birthed through a culture of evolutionary theory mixed with a disdain for all things religious (often harkening back to hated experiences growing up in a church).  Or maybe it is just guys being boys who are attracted to the next shiny object:  the internet, video games...or football, spending all of their spare moments immersed in a world they can control.  But guys are leaving the church in droves...and they aren't coming back.

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The fallout of guys leaving the church has had a very heavy impact on the women of the church. 

I have watched year after year as girls and young women, who love the Lord and are passionate about Him, compromise their convictions and for the sake of relationship yoke themselves with unbelievers.  I've heard the justifications of such arrangements too.  "He treats me better than most of the Christian guys I know."  "He's so nice."  "I don't want to be alone."  "You'd love him and his sense of humor, responsibility, character...(or your own favorite adjective to convince someone that breaking the biblical command is justified)."

But I have seen the fallout of this shortsighted philosophy as these relationships become marriages (or living together arrangements) and children become involved.  What seemed like a good idea in the dating phase, becomes a nightmare in a relationship where the woman constantly worries about the conflict her relationship with Christ has on both her husband and her children.  The deeper her relationship with Christ becomes the more she frets over the salvation of her husband and the impact their divided family will have on their children in the most important area of life.  Living out 1 Cor. 7:10-16 is much harder than it looks, especially when the person has willfully put themselves in that position.  Many who find themselves in this place after many years of marriage admit they should have never done it because of the turmoil and pain it has caused them (often leading to divorce and all the extra baggage that comes with it).

But there may be a solution for women who want a husband who is faithful to Christ in the near future that hasn't been previously available before.  With the re-definition of marriage that seems to be sweeping the nation, it is only a matter of time before polygamy also becomes an acceptable form of marriage again.  Currently the debate concerning marriage is being framed around love and how it cannot be limited to be viewed in only one light.  However, once you open the door to one new understanding of the institution provided by this new understanding of love, then others are soon to follow.  It will be very easy to make a case that a woman should be able to choose to marry another man who already has a wife, if it is their conviction that they marry within the faithful (and all parties are willing).  For if love and marriage cannot have one strict definition, it most certainly cannot have just two.

Now to be sure, there are a lot of issues with polygamous relationships that have to be considered.  First, men within those relationships can never be an elder or deacon in the church (1 Tim. 3:1-13).  Issues concerning these families and relational problems that arise are sure to give many ministers fits, as reconciliation with spouses and the children born into such circumstances have an exponential set of relationships to properly keep track of.  There will be jealousy among wives and the size and type of family each one has (see Gen 16; 21:8-21, 1 Samuel 1:1-8).  There will be the temptation to treat the husband as a sex object only good for providing for the family and producing more offspring (Gen. 30:1-24).  Or the husband to treat marriage only as an arrangement to produce the most political peace and prosperity for his family, which can have the corrupting effect of turning away his heart from the God he professes to serve (1 Kings 11:1-8).  The husband, as well, may only see sex as a function of the body and not part of the committed relationship of marriage and decide to have not only polygamous relationships but polyamorous ones as well (these similar to concubines in the Bible...and they are happening in our culture here to see a Nightline story on this lifestyle, but don't if it will be a stumbling block to you).  Finally, the breathtaking problems it can lead to within the relationships of the children have to be read to be believed (Gen. 37; 2 Sam 13).

However, the one advantage of a polygamous relationship is that the husband that each of the women are married to can have a very strong relationship with the Lord, the most solid of all bases to build a foundation of faith within the family.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not an advocate of polygamous relationships, even though there is a biblical case to be made for their existence.  But their existence may be something the church in America has to deal with in the near future and may provide a type of imperfect solution for the woman who wants to serve the Lord and desires strongly to be married to a man with the same convictions.

The perfect solution would be for guys who profess to be Christians to start acting like men who live out their convictions.  They need to stop making sissified excuses of how the church hurt them or how they were bored or how it wasn't relevant to their lives.  They need to actually sit down and read the Bible instead of playing lip service to it and actually teach their wives and families to follow Christ (Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21, Psalm 78:1-8).  Instead of complaining about how the church is, they should be leading the charge of who the church should be to reach the next generation for Christ.  They should stop leaving at the first sign of any resistance, whether it be church or marriage or fatherhood, and learn the blessing involved in persevering (James 1:19-25). 

If they would just do that, by truly putting Christ first in their marriage, their fatherhood and the practice of their faith in fellowship maybe the next generation of women won't have to double up on a faithful man just to find one.  Men who do this would find out very quickly that this is the type of man that a truly beautiful woman is dying to find (1 Peter 3:3-4).  And let me assure you, there are plenty of beautiful women longing for a Godly man.        

Of Bible Translations and Heresy

Maybe you have heard the news, maybe you haven't:  Eugune Peterson, the author of the Message Bible, has recently endorsed same sex marr...