Saturday, June 30, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Later that afternoon, I went to the local Family Christian Bookstore, with pen and paper in hand. I went through the store's movie selection and wrote down the titles of most of the secular movies. I came home and searched for reviews of the movie, on websites like Plugged-In Online and CapAlert. Sadly, what I discovered confirmed my concerns.
The store carried the following movies, all of which contain instances of blasphemy: Miracle, Mighty Joe Young, Lizzy McGuire Movie, Inspector Gadget, Cheaper by the Dozen, Spy Kids, and Night at the Museum. (It is interesting to note that Dr. James Dobson wrote a rebuttal to Plugged-In Online's review of Evan Almighty in which he sited the repeated instances of blasphemy as cause not to recommend the movie. You can read it here. I mention this because I anticipate that Family Christian will carry this movie once it is released on DVD.)
I returned to the store and asked for the manager. The manager was not there. The sales clerk with whom I spoke shared my concern about the movies carried by the store, but said there was little that could be done at the store-level. Any decision regarding merchandise carried by the store would be made at the corporate level.
Armed with that information, I went to the Family Christian website, through which I sent the following e-mail:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to lodge a complaint regarding offensive material being carried by my local Family Christian Store (store #291). The material in question includes no less than seven movies in which the name of God is blasphemed. The titles are: Miracle, Mighty Joe Young, Lizzy McGuire Movie, Inspector Gadget, Cheaper By The Dozen, Spy Kids, and Night at the Museum. Reviews of these movies that indicate their
blasphemous content can be found at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/, http://www.capalert.com/, and other online locations.
It is very disturbing that a store and corporation that categorizes itself as Christian, uses the word "Christian" in its name, and caters to the Christian community, would carry offensive movies on its shelves--movies that take the name of God in vain by using His holy name as a cuss word, or to express disgust or excitement, or flippantly as a slang term.
I was told by the sales associate at my local store that the decision to remove these offensive movie titles from the shelves of your stores would be a decision made at the corporate level. I was also led to believe that it is unlikely such a decision will be made. However, I am holding out hope.
Since I could not be given any assurances that the offensive and blasphemous material would be removed before I visited the store again, I turned in my "Pastor's Perks" discount card. Tomorrow, I will return to the store (when the manager is in), at which time I will ask to be removed from the store's mailing list and turn in my
"Family Perks" discount cards.
Until this error is corrected, I will no longer shop at Family Christian Stores. And, in good conscience, I will have to advise my friends, family members, and others not to
patronize your stores as well.
I hope Family Christian Stores will take this matter seriously. What can be more serious than lifting up the name of God--the Lawgiver and Judge who is able to both save and destroy (James 4:12)--with reverence, awe, respect, and love?
I look forward to your response. More importantly, I look forward to Family Christian Stores doing the right thing by bringing honor and glory to God in and through every item your stores sell to the public--saved and unsaved.
Thank you for your kind and prompt consideration in this matter.
Here is the e-mail I received from Darryl Tawney, customer service specialist for Family Christian:
Thank you for taking the time to express your feedback.
Please note that the ratings organization we utilize is The Dove Foundation (http://www.dove.org/). You can read more about their organization at that website. We trust their ratings. All of the noted movies fall within the 0-2 ratings noted below. All of the films noted would be considered family-friendly.
And here is my response to Mr. Tawney:
Thank you for your prompt response to my e-mail.
So, if I understand you correctly, as long as the movie falls within the Dove Foundation's "0-2 rating," it matters not to Family Christian that God's name is taken in vain. I was hoping that Family Christian would have used the infallible and inerrant Word of God as its guidelines regarding blasphemy instead of the fallible rating system of an organization created by man.
It is sad that Family Christian and the Dove Foundation consider the blasphemous utterance of God's name to fall under the category of "mild, crude language." Unfortunately, the Dove Foundation, like Family Christian, does not consider the following uses of God's name in the movie "Night at the Museum" (a movie carried in Family Christian stores) to be blasphemous, and thus qualify for the organization's worst rating for language (4-5). The blue text that follows was taken directly from the Dove Foundation website: Language: A-1; OMG-1; H-1; For God's sake-1; Geez-1
Or consider the following Dove Foundation language rating of the movie "Mighty Joe Young" (another movie carried in Family Christian stores): Language: H-3; D-1; OMG/G-6; Cr*p-1
Regardless of the Dove Foundation's rating system, to utter God's name causally,
irreverently, or flippantly (even once) is a misuse of His name, and is therefore blasphemous. How many times must one lie to be a liar? How many times must one steal to be a thief? How many times must one commit murder or adultery to be a murderer or an adulterer? Only once, Darryl. And whoever utters God's name in vain, even once, is a blasphemer.
Something else to consider is this. Even though the Dove Foundation found no instances of the misuse of God's name in the movie "Miracle" (yet another movie your stores carry), the "Plugged In Online" review found the following: "More than 30 mild profanities are included here, mostly 'h---.' There are also a few uses of 'crap,' 'screw,' 'ass' and 'bastards.' God’s name is misused a half-dozen times.
Jesus’ once. A banner at a hockey match reads, 'Soviets get the puck out of Afghanistan' (emphasis added).
Darryl, while I did not receive the answer I had hoped and prayed for, at least I now
know where Family Christian stands regarding the blasphemous use of God's name. I will therefore continue with my plans to turn in my "Family Perks" cards, ask to be removed from my local store's mailing list, and encourage my friends and family not to patronize your stores.
If there comes a time when Family Christian realizes that any misuse of God's name is blasphemous (no matter how insignificant such utterances are seen in the eyes of a sinful world), and if there comes a time when Family Christian repents of its endorsement of blasphemy through the sale of movies in which characters take God's name in vain, I will consider returning to your stores. But, until then, I am sorry to say, you have lost a customer.
Thank you, again, Darryl, for taking the time to contact me.
To date, I have not received a response from Darryl Tawney or any Family Christian representative.
Armed with Darryl Tawney's response, I returned to my local Family Christian Bookstore. This time, I was able to talk to the manager. She was expecting me. I handed her my "Family Perks" cards, along with a transcript of my conversation with Darryl Tawney. I asked her to remove my family's name from the store's mailing list.
Like the sales associate with whom I spoke the previous day, the manager was sympathetic to my position. At one point, she whispered, "I appreciate your conviction." I told her that I would shop at her store again, if Family Christian changed its policy regarding blasphemy in the movies their stores carry.
What will you do? Wanting to have integrity in my position, and wanting to keep my word to Darryl Tawney, I want to encourage the readers of this blog to stop patronizing Family Christian Bookstores, the largest Christian bookstore chain in the country. Join me in upholding the sanctity and holiness of God's name by not spending your money at Family Christian.
If you agree that Family Christian should not carry movies in which God's name is blasphemed, please contact Darryl Tawney and tell him so. PLEASE be respectful. Do not sully the name of God by sinning against Him with offensive or abusive speech. Be kind to Mr. Tawney. Voice your concern with an attitude that brings honor and glory to God's name.
Additionally, I want to encourage you to visit your local Family Christian Bookstore, turn in your "Family Perks" or "Pastor Perks" cards (if you have them), and asked to be removed from the store's mailing list. Again, PLEASE be respectful. Keep in mind, store-level employees do not decide what products appear on the store's shelves. You may find, as I did, that store employees will agree with and appreciate your position.
On a personal note: if you are wondering why I am making this stand now, and not sooner; I have an answer to that question. The answer is that up until a couple of months ago, I was sinning against God in my television and movie viewing habits. I viewed blasphemy as a lesser offense than hearing the "F-bomb" or other forms of profanity. I viewed blasphemy as a lesser offense than gratuitous, graphic violence and explicit sexual content. I, like so many I have talked to recently, attributed my desensitisation to the misuse of God's name to the sad fact that "everybody does it"--we hear blasphemy, to one degree or another (all of which is offensive to God), all the time. I was wrong. The Lord pricked my conscience. I have repented of my sin. And I no longer watch television shows or movies in which God's name is taken in vain.
I feel it is appropriate that I acknowledge my friend, Ray Comfort, for helping me see that while I was not uttering blasphemous statements, my viewing habits were tantamount to passive participation in blasphemy. He also helped me to see that I was literally paying people to entertain me with their blasphemy. Ray did this by developing his new website, Hollywood and God. Ray's most recent book, Hollywood Be Thy Name, has also had a significant impact in my thinking and practices.
While all of Scripture is profitable, one verse that fuels much of my thinking and the way I try to live my life is James 4:17. "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." Why am I making this stand? Because I believe it is the right thing to do. What would God have you do?
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
- The spouse of one of the officers involved in the "North Hollywood Shoot-Out."
- A sergeant who picked up the book and said, "I've been looking for something like this. It's hard to balance being a cop and being a Christian."
- A deputy sheriff who is also serving as a chaplain for a smaller agency.
Yesterday, I made a one-day trip to Sacramento to preach at Celebration Church. During my flight to Sacramento, I sat next to a recently retired high school teacher. Her name was Sandy. She was on her way to Alaska to enjoy a cruise with some friends. Her father, who passed away not long ago, served with the L.A. City Fire Department for more than 30 years. We had a great conversation. Before we landed in Sacramento, I gave her a copy of Take Up The Shield.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
When I entered the home, I saw a book on a counter, not far from where the woman took her life. It was a copy of Joel Osteen's book, "Your Best Life Now."
In no way whatsoever am I suggesting that Osteen's book contributed to the woman's suicide. I can no more make that assertion than I can attest to knowing what was in the woman's heart and mind, before she died. Only God knows. But considering that Osteen preaches a false gospel of prosperity and self-esteem, it troubled me to think that the book had any influence in the woman's life, before she died.
Here's Osteen in his own words:
Is there any wonder there are so many false converts in the Church, today?
Friday, June 22, 2007
It's late. It's quiet. So, indulge me, if you will, as I think aloud while my fingers move across the keyboard. Why do I do evangelism? Why am I an evangelist?
Before I share what is really on my mind, let me begin by stating the obvious, lest anyone conclude that I think evangelism is about me. It's not about me. It's about Jesus Christ and the people He wants to save.
I am involved in evangelism because my God has commanded me (and every other believer) in His Word, to preach the gospel to lost souls (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15). I am involved in evangelism because I want to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). I am involved in evangelism because I want to be an imitator of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1-2). Jesus had/has compassion for people, and so should I (Matt. 9:36). And I am a worker in His harvest (Matt. 9:37-38). God has given some as evangelists (Eph. 4:11). It took me fifteen years to realize that I am counted among the "some." God is still showing me what that really means.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Click here to listen to the conversation I had with Cobrinha (pictured above). He is a street musician who is representative of so many people who have created a god in their own imagination. As you will hear in the audio, the conversation never got to the gospel. However, I think, by the end of the conversation, I was able to bring Cobrinha to the realization that truth, not belief, determines reality. Considering how Cobrinha processes information, this could very well be an important seed planted.
And listen to our voices. It was a friendly conversation. You can do this! :-)
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. ~ Exodus 20:4-6
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Knowing how Hollywood is constantly pushing the envelope on decency, you check a couple of Christian websites that review movies for content. You learn that the movie you would like to see contains no graphic violence, no sexual content, and the negative language is limited to a few instances of blasphemy. The instances of blasphemy are not detailed, but you are not too concerned. “At least I won’t have to hear the ‘F’ bomb in every other scene.” You say to yourself. You feel that you have made a “good faith” effort to research the movie’s content and you are satisfied that the negative aspects of the movie are mild enough that you can, in good conscience, watch the movie.
You decide to ask your mother to go to the movie with you. You haven’t seen her in a while and this will give you a good opportunity to spend some time together. She is thrilled to spend the evening with you. You pick her up and on the way to the movie theater, you tell her a little bit about the movie and assure her that it will be a couple of hours of good, clean fun.
You and your mother arrive at the theater. You treat her to some popcorn and a soda. You walk into the dimly lit theater and lead her to what you think are great seats. As you wait for the movie to start, you catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives. You’re feeling pretty good about the day.
The theater darkens. The opening credits begin to roll. And the theater becomes quiet. You settle in to enjoy the movie. Initially, the movie proves to be everything the positive reviews promised. Then the unthinkable happens.
Your mom’s name is Jane Logan. Of course you have never called her that. You have too much love and respect for her to use her name casually.
Without warning, one of the main characters in the movie becomes angry and uses your mother’s name in a derogatory way. Your jaw drops. You can’t believe what you just heard. You look out of the corner of your eye (because you are too embarrassed to look your mom in the eye) and you see tears welling in her eyes. Just as you try to convince yourself that what you just heard was a mistake, another character in the movie uses your mother’s name as the punch line of a joke. Another character responds to the joke by using her name to express their disgust.
“Come on, mom.” You take her by the hand and lead her out of the theater, repeatedly apologizing along the way. As you make your way toward the exit, you see one of the theater’s managers. You stop and let the manager know how offended you are by the way your precious mom’s name was used in the movie. You demand a refund and the manager obliges, with his apologies.
If this scenario really happened, how would you respond? Would you defend your mother’s name—her honor and dignity? Or would you tell her to get over it because it was no big deal?
Now I would like you to consider how often you hear the name of God blasphemed on television or in movies. Do you walk out of the theater? Do you change the channel? Or do you simply overlook it because, well, that’s just the way people talk these days? How important is God’s name to you—really?
Ray Comfort, founder of Living Waters Publications, The Way of the Master Television, and The Way of the Master Radio has written Hollywood Be Thy Name (Bridge-Logos, July 2007). If the above scenario gave you even a moment of pause, a moment of self-assessment, then you must read Ray Comfort’s book. I am confident that you will never watch movies or television the same way, again.
Hollywood By Thy Name picks up where Ray Comfort’s earlier book, What Hollywood Believes (Genesis Publishing Group: 2004), left off. In Hollywood Be Thy Name Comfort explores the reasons why the Hollywood film industry, which once produced some godly films, has become, by and large, anti-God. “The average Hollywood production,” Comfort says, “uses the name of ‘God’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ more than the average sermon.”
If you are not familiar with Ray Comfort, his ministry, or his writing, you might be tempted to think that Hollywood Be Thy Name is just another diatribe against a sinful entertainment industry. You would be wrong. Ray Comfort writes the way he talks to people—with the concern of a man who deeply cares about the spiritual condition of everyone he meets. With the same warmhearted style with which he engages people in conversation, Ray tells the truth. He doesn’t attack anyone. He simply exposes the lies and the blasphemy of Hollywood with the truth of God’s Word. There is not a shred of legalism in this important book. Instead, the book is a clarion call to people everywhere to revere and honor the name of God.
Comfort skillfully exposes the beliefs of Hollywood’s elite atheists, evolutionists, and spiritualists. But he also challenges those Christians who continue to support ungodly movies. Then he suggests, powerfully, how Christians can effect change. There is one rock believers have in their hands that can “hit the blaspheming giant [Hollywood] between the eyes.”
As is the case with all of Ray Comfort’s books, the gospel is clearly and biblically presented throughout Hollywood Be Thy Name. The book is replete with Scripture, with each verse and passage carefully presented in its proper context. Warning: Don’t skim his footnotes! The footnotes provide interesting trivia, fascinating history, and Scriptural encouragement. Read every word on every page.
This book will undoubtedly serve as an encouragement and a challenge to both the Christian and the unbeliever alike. I will use this book as a tool in both my discipleship and evangelism efforts.
I have read many books by many Christian authors during the last twenty years. I can think of several that have had a profound effect on my growth as a Christian—books that have brought conviction and a desire to grow in godliness. Hollywood Be Thy Name is such a book. Don’t just read it. Let its powerful message change your viewing habits and empower you to effect positive change in our country!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Our guest for the second hour was a Hispanic lady who was not at all ashamed to admit she was a senior citizen. Eva was also a professional, having spent the last twenty-seven years serving as an oral surgery assistant for a prominent, local dentist. Like Sam she considered herself to be a good person. Unlike Sam, she attends church faithfully each week. She is Roman Catholic. Sam and Eva couldn't have been farther apart socially, economically, and ethnically. Eva was old enough to be Sam's grandmother. Yet as different as the two appeared outwardly, inwardly they were very much alike. They were both lost, spiritually.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Michael decided that he would return home to retrieve the shotgun and the knife and plot his next move. He determined that he would either shoot himself or, if he did not have the nerve, he would commit “suicide by cop,” by brandishing the knife. Michael said he did not get the chance because the officer stopped him and caught him off guard. He said he was suicidal because he is not close with his family. His mother died a year ago to the day. He lost his best friend after a fight over a girl and felt he had nowhere to turn. Since it was obvious Michael needed an emergency psychiatric evaluation and we had our other call on hold, my partner and I informed him that we were taking him to the hospital.
Michael said that he would not be taken alive and after a short struggle, was taken into custody. Michael was then transported to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation, as we followed to drop off the emergency petition.