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EPISODE 65: Shelby Abbott and the Next Generation

 

Some people may be concerned about people between the ages of 18 and 28. And they have good reason for that concern. But there’s also good reason for hope. Shelby Abbott has ministered to this age group for over 20 years and his insights are very helpful.

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Welcome to Questions That Matter, a podcast of the C.S. Lewis Institute. I’m your host, Randy Newman, and today, I get to have a conversation with another podcast host, Shelby Abbott, my friend with whom I worked for many years with Campus Crusade. Shelby’s been with Cru for over 23 years. He’s now with the branch of Cru called Family Life. He hosts a podcast called Real Life Loading, and I’m delighted to talk to him about ministering to younger people—that’s his audience—what he’s encouraged about, what’s going on in our world. Shelby, welcome to Questions That Matter.

Randy, thanks for having me. It’s great to be with you again. I sincerely mean that. It’s really good to see you.

Yeah. It is fun. We worked together in campus ministry, although we were never on the same campus but in the same region. I should tell our listeners Shelby’s written several books, a book about doubt, a very important book, DoubtLess – Because Faith is Hard. I believe your newest book is, What’s the Point? Is that correct, that that’s your newest book?

Yeah, that’s the newest one that I wrote for Family Life, aimed at actually nonbelieving people who are interested in the topic of cohabitation. So I made an argument for marriage over cohabitation, and it really acts as an apologetic, so I talk about Jesus, get them there, and then help them to understand why it’s a bad idea to live together, instead of get married.

Okay. Tell me about Real Life Loading. I know that you want it to be a podcast that connects with people who are between 18 and 28 years old, so right after high school, through college, and afterwards, and it sounds like this book on cohabitation would fit with that audience. Tell us a little bit more about your audience and the podcast.

Yeah. It’s a younger audience. And Real Life Loading, the tagline of the podcast is, “Somewhat anxious, always authentic.” And so we really wanted to be intentional about living in the pocket of ambiguity of life during that period of time. So it’s Real Life Loading dot dot dot, and those dots represent—you know, if you plug your phone into your car, you see the loading sign that comes up, and you get the three dots that kind of get bigger and smaller, and they kind of pulse. It really communicates that you’re in the process of not arriving. We don’t have all the answers. We’re just kind of talking about what that looks like and living in the questions, but really at the same time, pointing to the truth of the gospel, helping people to see that there are real answers, but it’s okay sometimes to not be okay. That’s really where we want to live and help young people to see that what they’re searching for in life is the truth of the gospel. They’re looking for Jesus. They just may not know it. But it’s okay to be not okay sometimes.

Oh, this is really important! All right, so let’s start on the very positive side. What are you most encouraged about? As you connect more and more with this audience. By the way, in a sense, you’ve been ministering to this audience for almost 25 years, or longer, because I mean as a student you were connected in that way. But now you’re old enough to have an 11-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old daughter, and boy, we need to have you back on a whole thing talking about raising daughters. Because I need work on that. We didn’t raise any daughters, but now I have granddaughters, and you know what? They’re different. They’re different than boys, and I’m making all sorts of mistakes.

That’s very true. Yes.

And that’s another conversation. So your audience of the 18- through 28-year-olds, what are you most encouraged about? Or what are some of the things you’re encouraged about?

One of the main things that I’m encouraged about is their willingness to be authentic about where they’re at. And that hasn’t always been true of previous generations. They are willing to not fake it. They’re willing to be real and tell people the truth about the fact that they’re either doing well or not doing well. So I appreciate that, because that’s kind of ground zero for starting really good conversations and leading people in the right direction. Because if you’re faking it, you’ve got to tear those walls down before you can actually start to do real work in someone’s life. They don’t fake it very much, and I love that about them.

The other thing is that they actually genuinely care about other people. Not everything in this generation is driven by money or success or power. They genuinely want to help other people, and money is not their motivator. And that’s pretty rare. If you think about previous generations, that doesn’t happen very often. Now, of course, as they get older, they can become enchanted by the almighty dollar, but I’d say that that’s not true when they’re younger, and so, if you can help them to see that Jesus is worth it, that the gospel is worth it, that the Great Commission in Matthew 28 is worthy of their lives, they will genuinely change the world. Because there is a lot of power in a young person who’s willing to commit their life to the glory of Jesus, be a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ, and not be influenced by other things at the same time. So I love harnessing that kind of enthusiasm mixed with the energy that a young person can have that I simply don’t have anymore.

Well, let’s look at the other side. So your tagline has the word “anxious” in it and the word “authentic” in it. Tell us about the anxious side.

One of the major things that I think this younger generation wrestles with the most is mental health and anxiety, and that can mean a lot of different things. There can be clinical solutions to those kind of things. There can be counseling solutions to those kind of things. But I think anxiety in general is on the rise, has been for a while, and there are a number of young people who suffer from worrying and being caught kind of in the suffering of that as they think about what happen, because they’re so consciously aware of what’s happening in the world. And because of social media and the technology that we have, we have the ability to be able to see what’s going on, not only in our lives around here, but all the bad things that are happening in our general area, in our country, on this continent, and on the other side of the world, and I don’t think our brains are capable of handling that kind of negativity, and so anxiousness is a huge part of the life of a young person.

That being said, I think it’s okay to live there and be honest with God about how we’re feeling in those moments. God gives us permission, as you read the psalms—I heard a pastor one time say the psalms give us permission to beat on God’s chest, and I love that kind of visceral imagery. I think it’s okay to beat on God’s chest as a young person and say, “I’m wrestling with this. I’m having a hard time with this,” but we want to be authentic about it. We always want to be truthful about where we’re at, what we’re dealing with, and look to the true source of our freedom and hope, which is the truth of the gospel, found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. So I’m trying to point people in that direction but help them to know that, sometimes, if you’re wrestling with the anxiety of life, it’s okay. Let’s just lean in and try to find the right answers, as opposed to back away from the truth, which is what a lot of people do.

You just touched on something that—I just hadn’t connected those dots before, but we are so much more aware of what’s going on in the world now. All the time. We know things as they happen. And that’s dramatically different than the previous thousands of years. Even not all that long ago…. Not that long ago, if you paid attention to the news, you got an installment of it once a day, usually toward the end of the day. Now, it’s constantly there. We’re hearing all of it all the time. And so, on one level, that has to increase anxiety. But on the other hand, it’s, “Well, we have a God Who can help us in the midst of that.” I’m not saying we should disconnect from hearing what’s going on around the world. I don’t think we can anymore. So it’s finding strength and hope and peace in the midst of that.

Say some more about the authentic side. Because I do think that really is a key buzzword in our world today. The problem is, I think, a lot of times it’s authenticity as an end in itself. “There, I’m authentic. This is who I am. Accept me, warts and all, and sinfulness,” and as Christians, we want to say, “Well, yes. We need to be authentic and real, but for the purpose of seeing transformation….” But now, I’m putting words in your mouth, and I shouldn’t do that. So say some more about the authentic side of it.

Yeah. You’re totally right on. I think it’s one of those things. Let’s not hide behind the veneer of being a good person when we’re struggling to be a good person. And so we want to talk about the things that young people wrestle with or have questions about. Maybe they’re not someone who struggles with it personally, but they definitely know people who wrestle with certain things, like same-sex attraction or their identity or is there authenticity in what it means to understand the Bible? Why bad things happen. Why suffering happens. Where are we thinking when it comes to dating today? What are we thinking about sex? What are we thinking about friendship even? There’s so many different things that a number of young people wrestle with. Or, like I said, they know someone who wrestles with these things. We want to get to the truth of those things and not gloss over them. We want to talk about them, and often… this is how it works: Often, those things give us enormous opportunity to be able to point to the good news of the gospel. They give us great, great opportunities, and you need opportunities, to be able to point to Jesus as the true solution to the issues that people are having in life. And so the authentic part is really, in many ways, a gateway to be able to communicate the truth of the fact that we are needy people, needy, needy people, in need of a Savior to come and rescue us from ourselves.

And so you can get in that doorway through a number of different conversations, everything from apologizing well to apologetics to understanding the word of God, to prayer, to anger, to humor. I had a stand-up comedian on a couple of weeks ago, and just not too long ago, I talked to someone who, when they were younger, had sexual addiction. What do we do with sexual addiction in a hypersexualized culture? All of those things are opportunities to be able to talk about the truth of the gospel, to talk about the real solution being in Jesus. You’ve just got to look for them appropriately. And that’s what we’re trying to do. So I’m trying to marry all of that with the honesty of humor and entertainment value as well in the podcast. It’s not a ton, but at the same time, it gives people the opportunity to go, “Oh! I connect with that,” or, “I think that’s funny,” and young people like that kind of stuff, so they might listen even longer, and we can point them to the real solution, like I said, in the gospel.

You went past this phrase very quickly: Another opportunity of pointing people to the gospel, sharing the gospel with non-Christians, you said was apologizing well. Say some more about that. What did you mean?

I think that a number of young people have had, sadly, the previous generation give them poor examples of what it looks like to actually own the areas where they’ve failed or their shortcomings. So I know a number of people, myself included, who could think of older generations in their family, whether it be their grandparents or their parents, not be able to even remember a true apology coming from the lips of their parents or grandparents ever, let alone counting it maybe on one hand.

So one of the things that we like to talk about is just owning the areas where you've been a failure. And that's part of the authentic part. And so one of the ways that we can do that is just being honest about our failures and shortcomings, looking at people with humility, apologizing, and then asking for forgiveness. And so those are the key steps that I think, not only that young people appreciate and they will want to pass on to their children in the future, is that they say, “I was wrong. I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?” Not like, “I'm sorry if you were hurt.” “I'm sorry that that happened.” These are bad apologies. “I'm sorry because I did this,” owning your failures and shortcomings. And that comes back to, again, the element of humility. And so I think that young people in many ways are pushing into humility in ways that previous generations did not, myself included, my generation, and I'm a Gen Xer.

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Well, since this is a podcast of the C.S. Lewis Institute, I'm required by contract that I have to quote C.S. Lewis in every podcast episode. No, I'm not.

Great idea!

I'm not. But whenever we get to this topic about apologizing or apology and what is a real apology and what isn't, what really flows out of real repentance and leads to real repentance, and then real transformation by the gospel, I always think of—and it's a pretty lengthy quote, so, listeners, get ready. This is going to be a long one. But Lewis wrote this short essay on forgiveness, and I just love it, and I think it's so insightful. So I want to read it because I do think a younger generation is looking for genuine, authentic apologies that aren't just, “Well, this is who I am. You’ve got to accept me.” No, no. That really lead to transformation. So here's what Lewis wrote in that essay:

“I find that, when I think I am asking God to forgive me, I am often in reality, unless I watch myself very carefully, asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me, but to excuse me, but there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says, ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology. I will never hold it against you, and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’ But excusing says, ‘Oh, I see that you couldn't help it, or you didn't mean it. You weren't really to blame.’” And then he says, “If one was not really to blame, then there's nothing to forgive. In that sense, forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites.” And then, as only Lewis could put such a punctuation mark on it, he says, “If you had the perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness. If the whole of your actions needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it.”

And I really do think this is where the gospel shines as so very different than others. So on one hand, it's a denial of, “Well, you know, it wasn't all that bad. I just didn't have my second cup of coffee yet,” and so you're not really confessing anything, and you're not really admitting sin. But on the other hand, it's the, “Oh, I'm just such a terrible person,” there, and there's no resolution. There’s no atonement. There’s no transformation. Of course, now I'm repeating myself and sorry for that, but I love this. I love this dual vision that you have for your ministry of, yes, they're anxious, and there's very good reasons for their anxiety. And the gospel is good news for those of us—I include myself—who are anxious. And there's also an emphasis on authenticity, and the gospel is very good news when we are authentic and real. So I think this is really very, very helpful and encouraging.

Yeah. I'm not claiming to have all the answers, too. One of the things that I like to say is that I want to be a trusted friend, to come alongside you as the next generation and help you walk closely with God in the humor and hardship of life. And so I'm not claiming to be this sage that people need to come to or hero that needs to be worshiped, which I think is a tendency for people to do online, specifically through social media or things like YouTube, to become this hero that people look up to. And we've seen how that's gone in the last several years. The heroes fall, and then people all of a sudden throw the baby out with the bathwater. And then they don't trust…. They deconstruct. They walk away from their faith because these heroes fall. I am not trying to be that person. I am trying to be a trusted friend to come alongside them as someone who's maybe a step or two ahead of them in life and help them to see, “Hey, these are some areas where I've messed up. These are some areas where I think you can learn from my mistakes.” But I also am acting as an indicator to go in the right direction, and the direction is toward the goodness of the gospel, the truth of scripture, the beauty of Jesus, and how they can experience that personally, corporately, and then use that to help change the world. That's really what I want to do.

All right, so this phrase, “The humor and the hardship of life.” Say some more about humor. I know this has been a big part of your life. I mean, I remember, decades ago, you emceeing at a conference, and you're hysterically funny. But I know that you've thought deeply about humor. You're not just funny for being zany. You've thought carefully about the use of humor. Say some of the things you've discovered along the way, or how God has used humor in this ministry that you have.

Yeah, like you said, I emceed conferences. I did that for about twenty years. And that would mean looking like kind of entertaining a crowd and kind of being the grease between the wheels of the different elements of a conference, from speakers to the worship to testimonies and things like that. But I discovered pretty quickly, in that process of being on stage in front of 1500, sometimes almost 2000 people, that humor has the ability to be able to tear down walls in people's lives. And once those walls are down, you can inject truth pretty easily into their lives.

Now, we've seen this a lot with stand-up comedians who use humor to tear down walls in people's lives and then lead them into dangerous messages, dangerous positions in life. And so I thought, “If other people can do that with the wrong message, why can't I do that with the right message?” And so I actually did stand-up comedy for about four years with the campus ministry, and I did that, to start, as a means to help Christian students learn how to be motivated and inspired and trained in evangelism. So I did that for two years, which was fun, but also difficult, and then, for two other years, I brought a buddy of mine on, my best friend, Andy, and we ended up doing stand-up comedy for non-Christian students. And we traveled all around the country doing that, trying to help people touch on true things about life and the gospel and God and plant the seeds to be able to help people ask deeper questions in the future. Because if you can win someone with humor, they're willing to listen to your opinion in ways that maybe they wouldn't have before. There's an element of respect that is gained if you can make someone laugh. And I think all of us can point to that. “Oh, yeah, that person used to make me laugh,” right? I'm drawn to it. People enjoy humor. They're magnetically pulled toward jokes or being funny, and that looks like different things to different people. But I thought it's such a powerful tool, such a powerful weapon, to be able to utilize for the goodness of the gospel.

So I try to do that, and be light in some of my interviews as much as anyone else. And I know you have a great sense of humor as well. So it's been fun to talk about and joke about things with you. Marry that with the truth of, like, there is hardship in life, and we can do both of those things. They're not mutually exclusive.

Oh, man. There’s so much here. I remember talking to someone who did a whole bunch of stand-up comedy, and then he was sort of progressing, in a sense, to doing… I just forgot the word. Give me a second. What's the word? Improv. There we go.

Improvisation? Yeah.

Okay. So he did stand-up comedy, and then he was getting training in improvisation, and there was this big theme that they were working on, and apparently it's like a really crucial component of improv. It's the whole mindset of, “Yes, and….” as opposed to, “No, but…..” And, “Yes, and….” So you're listening to what the person is saying, and you may not necessarily say out loud, “Yes, and…” but what you do is you latch on to something they just said, and you try to use that, of pushing it further, in the same direction or even in a different direction, but, “Yes, and….” And I’ve thought we need so much more of, “Yes, and…” in evangelism and pre-evangelistic conversations, rather than, “No, but….”

Yeah.

So many times, people say things, or they ask questions, and our default mode is, “No. Here's why that's wrong. Here's why you need to believe in Jesus. Here's why He’s the truth. What you're believing is wrong.” Well, there is plenty of need for that, but there's also a lot of, when people say things that show a value that we can reinforce, “Yes. Relationships really are crucial.” “Yes. We are longing for something more than we can just find in material things.” “Yes, and….” And I know that that's a big part. You've also written about evangelism, right? Tell us about your evangelism training book or books?

Yeah. This was actually the first book I wrote, back in 2010, and then we did a second edition in, I believe, 2016. It's called Jacked: An Irrepressible Passion to Share the Gospel. And it's just little kind of anecdotes, illustrations, little vignettes to help a young person in college be able to gain a heart and understanding for why do we even share the gospel? Why do we do that? Why do we move into the discomfort of something like that? To help them to see the importance, not only of why we do it, but partly really of who we are as Christians. Evangelism isn't something that we necessarily do. It’s part of who we are. And so training them in things like what you were just talking about, when it comes to listening well, making sure that we're paying attention to what people are saying, as opposed to what they're not saying. And it's easy to find areas of disagreement with anybody, but finding those common patches where we do agree on stuff and then helping them see the goodness of the gospel. So each little section has questions at the end, and it's meant even to go through in five parts with a group of people and have a small group Bible study at the end. So there's questions at the end of each section, and then that whole section, there's a Bible study at the end of each section. And so I wrote it that way as a means to be communal, because we as believers are not supposed to be solo. We're never supposed to act as an island. And I find that when you do evangelism in clusters with groups of people, it's not only way easier, it's just more fun, too.

One of the ministries we have here at the C.S. Lewis Institute, we call Keeping the Faith. It's a program that's been developed to equip you, particularly parents and grandparents and other adults who are caring for children and grandchildren, the intentional discipleship of the children that God has placed in your life. And we've got a lot of resources at the Keeping the Faith tab on our website. We know that, if you're caring for children, that you're busy, and you're tired, and so our goal is to provide you with resources that will be available to you at a moment's reach, as well as deeper, more thoughtful resources when you have the time to fill your well. So you'll find videos, articles, monthly newsletter, recommended resources. We regularly post on Facebook and Instagram. We also have two study programs available, so please check out this resource at our website, cslewisinstitute.org/keeping-the-faith. And it's Keeping hyphen the hyphen faith, but you don't even need to know all that. Go to our website. I think you'll find Keeping the Faith pretty easy to find, and there's a wealth of resources there. Thanks.

I was talking to someone recently, and I said to them that… I said something out loud that I don't remember saying before in a conversation with a non-Christian. They were sharing something about a wonderful vacation that they just had, and it was a really fun time. And I said, “Oh, I'm really happy for you.” And as I said those words, I thought, “You know, I really haven't said that sentence too many times at all in my life,” because my default mode is, “I want to talk about me. So, yeah, that was nice what you just said, but here, let me tell you about me.” And so by saying, “I'm really happy for you, it was keeping the attention on them.” So I was recounting this to a Christian friend, and I was saying, “I wonder if that's actually a good, I don't know, a piece of strategy and evangelism of the, ‘Yes, and…’ mindset, of they say something really good, and we want to latch onto it.

And this person I was talking to did not like what I was saying, and I could see it on their face. And he said, “Well, I just don't know if I can say to a non-Christian, ‘I'm happy for you.’ I mean, they're going to hell. They're separated from God. And I just don't know if I can say that.” And I said, “Sure you can.” It's kind of an interesting argument I was having. No, I'm not saying, “Oh, I'm happy about everything in your life, and I'm happy about where you're going to spend eternity. No.” But I think I can safely say, “Oh, you just came back from a really great vacation, and the weather was great. That's wonderful. That's really great!”

It’s a good thing! Yeah.

“Tell me more about it.” And it's God's common grace, and His general revelation of goodness. So I do think, yes, we definitely need to get around to telling people the bad news of what separation from God is all about. But sometimes it can start with something like, “I'm really happy for you.”

Yeah. And I feel like that goes a long way, especially as I'm talking about with the younger generation. They are getting tons of bad news. There’s no question about that. And they do need to hear that they are in need. Of course they need to hear that. But at the same time, I've found that, as you ask questions and you do actually listen to their answers and you connect with them and you make good, quality connections through whatever they might be interested, you're going onto their turf, so to speak. You're being intentional about finding out about them. I'm not into video games at all, but video games are a huge part of the younger generation. Billions and billions of dollars worth of an industry. And so I've been recently watching people online playing video games, and I have no interest in it whatsoever. But I'm like, “If I want to be intentional about knowing the next generation, I'm going to go on to their turf. I’m going to make myself uncomfortable. I'm going to be confused and try to learn, so that I can meet them on their territory and have good conversations in the future that connect to the glory of Jesus and the gospel.”

Oh, man! Well said. That was good. All right, so here's my penultimate question. I love using that word. I'm not really sure what it means, but I'm pretty sure it means next to last. So this is not the last question, because I don't want to end on the negative, but we do have to at least go a little bit more. You've already alluded to some things, but I've asked you what you're most encouraged about about this audience you’re reaching, 18- to 28-year-olds. What are some of your biggest concerns?

Some of my biggest concerns for the young generation is distraction. I think that the evil one is really good at being able to distract, especially the younger generation, from the truth and the beauty of the gospel in a number of different ways. So TikTok was a huge thing, is a huge thing. I rolled my eyes at it at first, but then I said, “This is where people are, so I need to at least find out about it.” So I ended up downloading the app, putting it on my phone. I logged on one evening at about 10:30, and the app throws you into videos and throws things at you that it thinks you might like. And so you end up scrolling and scrolling. It was about 10:30. I thought maybe a couple of minutes had gone by. I looked up and the clock said 11:14, and it felt like just a few seconds had gone by. It was very strange, my first experience with TikTok, and I'm like, “No wonder people are distracted.” The algorithm is absolutely incredible. It's amazing at keeping your focus on nothingness, on silliness, on stupidness, on funniness. There's a lot of great humor in there as well.

But I thought to myself, “What a sharp, sharp instrument in the hands of the evil one, to be able to distract people from the realities of life? So what a sharp instrument to be able to use for the glory of Jesus as well?” So trying to flip the script and find the negative areas of stuff in terms of distraction and pull them back to the beauty of the gospel. There’s nothing more fascinating than the story of the gospel. It is the greatest story ever told. And so I'm trying to help people not be distracted from the monotony of things like social media, the boredom of life, pull their gaze toward the beauty of Jesus, and help them to see the real story there. But I am nervous about that. It's a huge thing. Not only TikTok, but YouTube. I was just at a birthday party recently, and every teenager's face was buried in their phone because they're not good at interacting with other people. They want to feel safe, and so they're distracted by their phones to take them away from reality. I want to pull young people toward reality. Which is hard work. It's tough to do.

Well, I'm going to let you have the very last bit of… if there's anything that you wanted to say that we haven't had a chance to say, here's your chance. But before we get to that, so now, this is really my penultimate question. I don't know how to use that word.

So much of your ministry, your life, is others focused, which is so great and beautiful. So, evangelism, this podcast Real Life Loading. Where have you seen the goodness of the gospel touch your own life recently? Where is it where it hits you of, “Oh! This is so good! It’s so good that this is real, that it’s true. It's better than I could have imagined.”

Randy, this is such a good question, and one that I've been asking a lot of people lately, because the gospel has transformed my life, not only when I became a Christian at 19 and as I've done ministry over life, but the gospel has transformed my life in so many significant ways just within the last year. There's a story in in Mark 8, where Jesus pulls aside this blind man, and He spits on his eyes. And then He covers his eyes, and He opens his eyes, and He says, “What do you see?” And he says, “I see men, but they look like trees walking.” You remember that? And then He covers his eyes again, and then He opens his eyes, and now he could see clearly. And I feel like, for the majority of my Christian life, even through ministry, over twenty years, I've been looking at the Gospel like trees walking and not see the clarity and the beauty of the Gospel. And that looked like a number of different things as my sight went from blurry to clear.

But I finally wrote, after thirty years, a letter to forgive my biological father for his neglect of being in my life. Basically, he just wasn't interested in me at all. And so I wrote him a letter and sent it to him. Randy this was in June of 2022. I sent him a letter then, and I was like, if you would have asked me a year ago, you need to forgive your father. Will you send a letter? I would have been like, no way! But the gospel has been transforming my heart and my life. I've been forgiven much. How can I hold that against my father? So thirty years, I wrote him a letter and told him, basically the slate is clean. I forgive you. And I did that in the context of community with other men who I was with. And that was just a beautiful thing. I recently agreed to go to a 6:30 A.M. prayer meeting, and my wife texted me and she goes… What’s that?

I said I really hope that's not God’s will for my life.

Yeah, I know!

It’s early in the morning. No. That can’t be-

I know. I'm not a morning person at all. My wife, when I told her I was going to go to that, she's like, “I saw you added this to the calendar. What is that?” And I said, “It's a morning prayer meeting with men at the church.” And she goes, “Now I know that the gospel is changing your life.” She said, “Forgiving your father was one thing, but now I know that you're different.” And she was joking. But at the same time, you can't fake it with your spouse. You just can't. My wife has looked at me and said, “Shelby, you are different.” And that's just been in the last year. I am so much more in love with Jesus than I've ever been, and I am thrilled with the fact that He is using me. And even if I fade off into obscurity, nobody ever listens to my podcast, nobody reads my books, it’s totally fine because I am forgiven. And there are multiple times lately I've just been driving along, “God, why did you pick me? You know what my motivations are. You know my evil heart. You know my selfishness. You know my lack of humility. Why did you pick me?” But He did. And that's what grace is. And it's just been phenomenal. I've never been closer to Jesus than I am right now. And I can't wait for tomorrow because it's going to get better.

All right. That's a very good place for us to bring this to a close. Thank you so much. So maybe the question that matters in this podcast is just how good is the gospel? Shelby Abbott, you have helped us reflect deeply about that question. Thank you so much. We're so grateful for your ministry. To my listeners, I want to say check out Real Life Loading. All of the many people that I'm sure you know who are between 18 and 28 years old, tell them about this resource. And we'll have a couple of resources listed on the show notes. Once again, to our listeners, thank you so much for listening to Questions That Matter. We hope that all that we do at the C.S. Lewis Institute is really helpful in your own discipleship of heart and mind. We pray that all that we do will help you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. Shelby, thanks for being with us.

Thanks for having me, brother. Appreciate it.


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