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Hello friends!

Yesterday I was on a roll! Ed and I went duck hunting in the morning, as we have for the last three years, and I finally FINALLY snapped a two year losing streak by bringing home a beautiful (and delicious) drake mallard. Oh, the feeling was overwhelming! Such joy!

And then I participated in a online bible study, where I felt like I was really starting to get a good grip on the material we were working through. I had a couple of points that seemed pretty well received, and started to imagine myself on the stage of the National Youth Workers Conventions telling people how they can be super awesome better youth pastors if they follow my three step program.

That evening, I lit a candle at the dinner table. This may not sound like much, but we typically eat our dinners on the couch while watching Futuarma or something like that, so to me it seemed as though I should receive the husband of the year award or something, as if lighting a candle was some sort of revolutionary idea.

After dinner, Sarah and I went to the gym, where I met Ed to take a spin class. I had decided a few days ago that it was time for off-season training for the summer's cycling events to finally pick up and start going somewhere, and so I thought a spin class would be no problem. I have in the past ridden 150 miles, so what could one spin class do to me?

I should have seen it coming...

To those of you who are regulars in spin classes, my hat is officially off to you. About 10 minutes into this class, I was no longer following the commands of the entirely too cheery instructor. I was just seated on the bike, pedaling a little bit, and trying to find my breath. I chugged water like a fish, and kept an eye on the clock the whole time hoping that the hour would be over soon so I could go home and not make eye contact with any of the in shape people.

I think God does a pretty good job keeping me on a short leash when it comes to pride. There aren't a whole lot of days where I think I'm the boss, I'm usually more than willing to give that title to someone else. And I don't think I let it slip into a kind of self-esteem vacuum either, where I'm getting down on myself because I don't have what it takes. I think more often than not, because of the grace of Jesus Christ, I'm exceptionally happy to admit that I don't have what it takes. I wouldn't want to.

But sometimes I forget. Sometimes I forget that my life is to God's glory, and not my own. Sometimes I forget that the select few times I have a personal winning streak, it's really because either God has provided the opportunity, or God has gifted me with the skills required. Karl Barth said that all sin comes from lack of gratitude. I couldn't agree more after yesterday.

And so we search for a balance. We look for ways to realize we don't have it all together, and ways to truly ultimately come to peace about that. I am a wreck of a human being. But I am the wreck of a human being whom God loves, and pours himself into. I can live with that. Actually, I can rejoice in that. And I hope you can too.



The Puzzle



Hello friends,

I am knee deep into Term II of Seminary, taking a course on the New Testament. Specifically, the Gospels, Acts, and John's letters. The course is set up as an introductory class, meant to teach us about the history surrounding the Gospels, how they hold up to other literary works of their day, how to read certain passages, etc. So far, I've really enjoyed it.

I just wrapped up reading a (rather long) chapter on the way scholars view the Gospels today. Some people have come before, reading this material, and have lost all their faith. Some scholars do an amazing job of breaking things down and claiming they are worthless, and these scholars take great joy in some of the issues presented within the Gospels.

One approach to fight these scholars off is to claim that there are no issues presented within the Gospels. That's just silly to me. There are some issues we need to take a pretty hard look at. Matthew and Luke present two totally different genealogies for Jesus. The details of certain parables, or even the interpretation of some of those parables, varies from author to author. John is all by himself when it comes to placing certain events in the life of Jesus in the same order as everybody else. There are issues.

But this does little to rattle my faith. In fact, it just makes me want to fall in love with the Word even more! Why are they different? Are the authors trying to tell us something? Do the differences actually point to something important themselves? What if Jesus told the same story a bunch of times, but used it to mean different things (a technique I employ ALL THE TIME!)? When was the last time you could get four youth pastors to watch an event and then recall it later exactly the same? Does it make the story and less credible?

Jacob wrestled with God. God broke his hip. But at the end of the day, Jacob was rewarded for wrestling with the Lord. May we never stop wrestling with God, especially with God's word. May we never try to avoid having our hip broken by ignoring the difficulties of our faith. May we with childlike wonder approach the scriptures with curiosity and desire!



Encouraging Doubt


Question mark

Greetings friends,

Between writing sermons, Veritas talks, attending classes, and getting caught up with all the reading for said classes, I've been working my way EXTREMELY slowly through two books that I see have a pretty sizable connection. You Lost Me by David Kinnaman and Sticky Faith by Kara Powel and Chap Clark. The question ahead of us in both books is, why is it that young people are leaving the church after their high school careers, and what (if anything) can we in the church do to avoid it?

There are lots of answers to those questions to be sure, and I'm only a chapter or two into either book. But the one thing that struck me about these opening chapters is the importance of allowing our teenagers the freedom to doubt, to express their doubts, and to face down the questions that will surely be asked of them when they leave the safety of the Church. All too often, I think we're too afraid to allow our students the time and the space to wrestle with their faith. I think we try to hand them neatly packaged answers, even if the answers we have are for questions that our students aren't asking.

What's to be afraid of? For starters, the kinds of things that our students may be doubting in our youth rooms are the kind of things they will be faced with in their college careers. So why not introduce the questions now, in a safe space, where we can help them learn how to use the tools God's given us to discover in our faith? Jacob wrestled with God and was rewarded for it. Don't you think we and our students will be rewarded for throwing the mats down and letting our kids wrestle with God?

I'd love to hear some thoughts on this from you in the field. How do you encourage doubt in your students? What are the kind of doubts that your students are facing?