Friday, May 31, 2019

Practically Applying Gospel Solutions to All of Life’s Pressures

Part 2 of an interview with Shelby Abbott,
Author of Pressure Points

Pressure Points is a humorous, poignant, and conversational guide that invites young men and women to practically apply gospel solutions to all of life’s pressures, big or small. From navigating failure, roadblocks, and spiritual warfare to tackling relevant, hard-hitting topics such as drinking, sex, dating, pornography, and the fear of missing out, author Shelby Abbott encourages college students to consider Jesus in the midst of everyday struggles.

With twenty years of experience in college ministry, Abbott is keenly aware of the pressures young men and women face. By addressing relevant challenges and practical hardships with gospel advice, Pressure Points guides readers to see and lean on the person of Jesus, reflecting on important issues in light of the gospel. From waiting on the Lord with patience, learning to fellowship with him in his sufferings, to wrestling with purpose, relationships, and the growing challenges of today’s culture, Pressure Points is a timely and refreshing voice for young people pointing to a bottomless pit of grace. Abbott’s funny, easily digestible reflections to help modern-day college students maneuver their early years toward the gospel, challenging young adults to see their struggles through a biblical lens. 

Q: Can you share a little of your background with college students and why your experience helps you speak to them in a relevant and compelling way? How has humor helped you break down walls with college students in your ministry?

Because of my close interaction with college students for nearly 20 years as a minister on campus and director of summer mission trips with university students, I’ve been uniquely tuned in to what they experience and struggle with on a consistent basis. I address those issues head-on in ways others perhaps only write about in theory. I’ve also periodically done stand-up comedy in front of college students for the last 19 years, so I’m well aware of what they find funny and what can bomb, so this book attempts to speak to them poignantly while peppering in humor where appropriate.

Humor has the ability to break down walls in ways that practically no other medium can. As a result, it can be a powerful conduit for delivering gospel truth because so many students are willing to listen and accept a message that comes on the heels of something that makes them laugh.

Q: How does having a sense of belonging change young men and women and how they respond to life’s pressures? How important is authentic Christian community?

The Christian life was never meant to be lived in solitude, and the “I am an island” mentality of our modern culture comes into direct collision with that. Responding to life’s pressure points in seclusion will usually produce a life of disappointment and failure. However, when a student plugs in to a community like a church and campus ministry, he or she then has the opportunity to lean on fellow believers and really begin to tackle the pressures of life in a healthy way. It’s an admission of need (another modern cultural faux pas), but it shapes a heart of humility and character within a student.

Q: Readers may find a few subjects they may not expect in Pressure Points. How important is it for college students to understand concepts such as what it means to wait or to suffer?

Impatience is one of the main character flaws our culture is guilty of today. Since we’ve gotten so used to the fast-paced speed of nearly everything, waiting is not a discipline we value or appreciate at all anymore. The Bible is full of examples of waiting on the Lord, because waiting is a faith exercise and it builds character in a way nothing else can. When young people actively wait on the Lord, it builds a depth in them that leads to the kind of integrity you can’t fake.

Another roadblock young adults stumble upon is suffering. College students don’t often see suffering in the proper way because we’ve been conditioned from a very early age to eliminate suffering of any kind once it enters our lives. I try to help them see that if we want to become more Christ-like, we are inevitably going to suffer in some form or fashion. And as we suffer, we are not alone. Jesus is right beside us in the hard times, both small and big.

Q: How can parents best encourage their children as they transition to college and beyond? 

There are, of course, many exhortations a parent can communicate to their soon-to-be college student, but one I think should be underscored is the importance of plugging in to a biblically sound gospel community of fellow believers. Not so their child can be “safe” or “shielded” from the negative aspects of the college environment, but so they can grow in their faith, share their faith, and multiply their faith in a way that invests in the lives of others for the glory of Jesus. The Lord calls us to lean into godly environments of fellow believers who will stretch us and foster an atmosphere of spiritual growth and multiplication (Matthew 28:18-20) that we might pass on our wisdom to others who should do the same.

Q: What can campus ministries and churches do better as a whole in reaching and discipling college students?

In a word: partnering. So many churches and campus ministries balk at the idea of doing ministry together, because “they won’t do it the way we do it.” However, when a common biblical goal is communicated and highlighted between a campus ministry and a church, the Kingdom advances in exciting new ways. That “campus ministry” or that “other church” aren’t in competition with one another—if they are gospel-driven movements, they are perfect for partnering with one another. Many things can be done in a campus ministry that cannot be done in a church and vice versa, so why not unite under the mantle of Christ’s call to be used by him and partner with one another?

The church is kind of like a battleship, and campus ministries are kind of like speed boats—speed boats can maneuver and get into places the battleship can’t in order to complete the mission, but you cannot survive the long haul without connection to a larger vessel. They must partner well, because it’s not an either/or…it’s a both/and.

Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress
by Shelby Abbott
April 22, 2019 / Retail Price: $15.99
Print ISBN 978-1-948130-34-9
Religion / Christian Life / Family

Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States.

Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life). His latest release is Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and kids’ Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and other resources from New Growth Press, visit

To request a review copy of Pressure Points, schedule an interview with Shelby Abbott, or for more information, please contact Audra Jennings,

Thursday, May 30, 2019

If you don't move it and put it on a shelf, you won't miss it.

I was talking to one of my author clients about all I would have to pack up when it's time to move. I've had a library of paperback books up in my office that has grown over the years.

Some are books I've read.

A lot of books I've not read.

Some are books I have bought.

A lot of books that have come through work over a period of many, many years.

Some are books I have the best of intentions to one day read.

A lot of books I don't plan to read because they aren't my favorite genres, but I have friends that might.

I've taken pride in my own personal library.

But there truly isn't enough room in the new house for all the shelves to hold them all.

In response to saying I wasn't ready to part with them yet, my author client said, "If you don't pack them and put them on a shelf, you won't miss them."

Once she said that yesterday, that had me taking pictures and posting them in a couple of Facebook book buy/sale/trade groups for $2 each.

The truth is, I have a lot of the same books on my Kindle, and I'll keep what I really want to keep, and there are some I definitely will.

Now, the sorting, picking and packing has become a mini part-time job. However, moving them out now means I don't have to move them out later. It's a bit freeing, quite honestly.

(There's only one book I kind of wish I'd kept because the two others in the series didn't sell, and I'm OCD about a complete set in this one case.)

UPDATE: Over a few days time, I sold 250 books. I still have some I would like to part with, but after paying for some mailing supplies, I've cleared over $450 which almost pays for my home appraisal.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

I don't think I officially shared the news

I've been so sporadic about blogging (because I post a lot at one time) and not saying anything until I officially had something to say, that I don't think I actually said I have an offer in on a house. That's why I was taking the online course I talked about last weekend.

Almost two weeks ago Mom went by an estate sale someone we knew was having. The house was about to be put on the market too.

It's not as redone on the inside as some of the houses I was looking at, but the price is right and a coat of paint will go a long, long way. I don't have pictures. Maybe soon I can get some to share.

As for now, I'm in middle of the waiting game.

The house is on a street off of the one I grew up on. As in 2 or 3 blocks from where my parents lived for 30+ years. That house is no longer there. The Northside Baptist moved it off for a parking lot. That makes it kind of weird. Also, if the street this house is on went straight through two streets instead of making a T at the end of the block, the street would go straight through to where my parents live now.

I've known the woman that lives two doors down since I was a teenager and went to church with her. The family on the other side is my preacher's family. He may be the most excited person that I'm moving into the neighborhood and is getting his four kids excited. The youngest one may yell at me that he doesn't like me, but he doesn't mean it. 😆 Actually, it will be fun to have kids I know next door.

Though still in freaked out phase, I'm starting to make my way to excited. I'm sure I'll go back and forth between now and when the time officially comes to sign the papers.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Don't Blame the Mud: Only Jesus Makes Us Clean

Only Jesus Makes Us Clean
Marty Machowski helps parents talk to their children
about temptations, choices and consequences

At some point in every child’s life, they will discover what guilt feels like after doing something they knew they weren’t supposed to do. That’s a positive thing—then they can begin to understand temptation, sin and repentance. However, those can be big concepts for young children to comprehend. Don’t Blame the Mud (New Growth Press), the new release written by best-selling author Marty Machowski, helps parents and children talk together about God’s plan for redemption.

For young readers and their families, Don’t Blame the Mud paints a vivid and accurate picture of sin and God’s plan of redemption. This picture book, illustrated by Craig MacIntosh, teaches children how to recognize the lure of temptation and the truth that bad choices lead to bad consequences.

Readers are introduced to Max, who takes the muddy path along the creek home, even though his mother had reminded him to keep his school clothes clean. At first, Max thinks he can manage the trail while keeping clean, but after crashing into a mud puddle, he tries to hide his mistake. Once he gets home and changes his clothes, Max discovers the stain of his sin goes deeper than the mud he can wash away.

When Max’s muddy trail gives his adventures away, his parents talk to him not only about why he disobeyed but why he feels guilt about it. In this lovable, relatable and heartwarming tale, Max learns his heart needs to be cleaned, and Jesus is the only one who can wash away his sin.

“I wanted a situation that would work for every kid, all around the world, no matter what culture they came from. From my experience, just about every kid in the world has heard his or her mom or dad say, ‘Don’t get your clothes dirty,’ and all kids have faced the decision as to whether or not they are going to obey that command,” says Machowski about how the book came to be. “I also wanted a fun character that would bring interest to the story and help children identify with the real-life draw of temptation and the real-life consequences of sin. The Mud character does both of those things.”

By clearly articulating the gospel, Don’t Blame the Mud helps parents create an environment of confession so kids can own up to their own mistakes—in the freedom of Christ—rather than place the blame elsewhere. Parents, teachers and caretakers can help children identify with the real-life draw of temptation and the real-life consequences of sin, understanding the value of God’s salvation through the cross. Instead of teaching kids how to deal with a problem, Machowski uncovers the real issue of sin and provides a gospel answer.

Machowski hopes Don’t Blame the Mud becomes a family favorite people refer often. “I would love if families come away with a better understanding of sin, the nature of temptation and a recognition of how quick we are to pass the blame and try to cover up our sin. It would be great if families adopted the title Don’t Blame the Mud as a code phrase for ‘don’t blame your mistakes on others.’ For example, a mom could tell her child who is trying to blame his sister for something he did, ‘Don’t blame the mud.’”

About the author

Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for thirty years. Machowski leads Promise Kingdom, the gospel-centered children’s ministry of Covenant Fellowship.

He is the author of numerous resources for churches and families, including The Gospel Story for Kids series, The Ology, and Parenting First Aid. His latest release is the children’s picture book, Don’t Blame the Mud. Machowski and his wife, Lois, reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania. They have six children and two grandchildren. He is also the Executive Editor for Children’s Resources at New Growth Press.

Learn more at He can also be found on Twitter (@MartyMachowski)

Craig MacIntosh is the illustrator of Don’t Blame the Mud. MacIntosh was a newspaper political cartoonist and illustrator for twenty-two years and the artist for the widely published comic strip Sally Forth. He and his wife, Linda, live in Minnesota and have two grown children.

New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and kids Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about Don’t Blame the Mud and other releases from New Growth Press, visit
By Marty Machowski, illustrated by Craig MacIntosh
May 27, 2019 / Retail Price: $15.99
ISBN 978-1-948130-96-7
Religion / Christian Life / Children

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Bachelorette: Hannah B. - Week 3

It's week 3. How many people are going to self-implode tonight? The previews are showing some people getting a little too serious a little too quick.

There's also an emergency room trip to come.

Chris Harrison arrives, gives a speech about it getting real for Hannah already. He drops off the date card.

"Jonathan, Matteo, John Paul Jones, Kevin, Jed, Tyler C., Mike, Cam -- Let's push our love to the limit. - Hannah"

The guys are annoyed with Cam crashing the group date last week since he didn't have a date at all. They aren't to excited to have him along.

Mike scoops up Hannah when they meet up. This is the strangest date yet. Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen are there to educate the men on childbirth. Why? Who knows.

First up is a lesson on female anatomy, complete with a quiz. This is followed by the men walking around with fake pregnancy bellies. There is also a lesson in diaper changing and holding babies.

The men have to take off their shirts and have their nipples clothes-pinned to simulate breast feeding. That was painful enough for some of the men. Then, they bring out the pain simulator to let the men know what labor pains/contractions feel like.

Several men try it. Tyler C. is trying to be sexy, but turns out looking like an idiot.

John Paul Jones is freaking out before it starts. All the men are quite entertained by how badly he takes it.

At the cocktail party, Jed takes her off first. He asks if Hannah wants to go ahead and take the date rose with her. They talk about big cities, and it comes out that Hannah has never been to Nashville. I kind of think that's odd since she's only one state away, but I'll let it go. I've never been to New Orleans.

After kissing, they chunk chicken nuggets off the roof and make a wish. I'm not sure what that's all about.

Meanwhile, Cam is talking about wanting some one-on-one time since he's had less time than the rest of them. (Actually, probably not since he crashed the last date.)

Based on the activities of the day, Mike tells Hannah part of his story. His girlfriend was pregnant. He was going to propose, but they lost their baby in the second trimester. He feels like he wasn't there like he should have been.

Cam pops his head in to tell them he is waiting outside as soon as they are finished. It's awkward for Mike to finish with Cam hanging right outside the door. Cam asks them to wrap it up in a couple of minutes like he can run the world. He walks off, but comes back, interrupting again by saying he has something important to tell Hannah and hasn't had any time.

Mike complains to the men, and they all get stirred up.

Hannah apologizes (though she shouldn't) saying some conversations need to be had. Cam says he gets serious. He had to resign from his job to come there.

Jonathan decides what goes around comes around, and bullies his way into the conversation regardless of Cam asking for two more minutes. Cam wants to walk her to the door before he leaves. Jonathan physically blocks him.

Cam complains to John Paul Jones. When Jonathan comes back in the room, Cam stares at the side of his head as the room sits in awkward silence. John Paul Jones eats some chicken nuggets. He offers the other guys some.

Back at the mansion, the next date card comes. Connor S. hopes it's him since he didn't get a date last week. He does get it. "Connor - Let's set sail on our love story. - Hannah"

Luke P. thinks Hannah is comparing every guy to him. Confident much?

Tyler C. tells Hannah that after the painful date today, he wanted to call and thank his mom. He calls her nice arm candy which gets him a makeout session. Why? Who knows?

When it comes time to hand out the date rose, she gives it to Mike.

Cam is disappointed. After all, he had to give up a job he worked hard to get in order to be there. I'm pretty sure he's not the only one that had to. You can't brag about not being a quitter, then talk about quitting your job.

Connor is ready for his date, but there's going to be a delay. A card comes from Hannah saying the plans have to be cancelled because she isn't feeling 100%. However, she wants him to come keep her company.

Hannah made a trip to the ER in an ambulance and had to get an IV. Connor stops off to get her flowers and some things at the market. When he arrives, she asks him to cuddle up in bed. She's not contagious, so gives him a kiss. She woke up not feeling well and passed out.

At the house, Luke P. is convinced that Hannah wants him there to take care of her. The other guys do a lot of eye rolling. 

Connor tells of his mom having a stroke while skiing in Utah when he was 13. He learned how strong his parents' relationship was from that event.

After a while, she interrupts the kissing by telling him he needs to leave so that she can sleep -- doctor's orders. No date rose.

Before Connor left though, he left sticky notes all around the place with all the things he loved about her.

I think she's contagious. I think it's mono and they are all going to get it.

The guys are hanging out and Luke asks Connor what Hannah was wearing. Kind of creepy. A limo drives up. The driver is there to pick up Connor. Hannah wants him to be ready in 15 minutes.

When Connor arrives, he gets the date rose because all the notes made him feel special. She leads him to a private concert. He caught the Hannah bug and has Hannah fever.

Hannah has had a tough week. Not only her hospital visit. She found out Tyler G. had to leave. We aren't told right now.

The date card (which we don't see) was for eight men going on a group date. A picture is worth 1000 words. 

They are going to have a photo shoot. They will be paired up with some models.

The models are animals. They are going to draw inspiration from the movie, The Secret Lives of Pets 2.

One of the dogs looks a little stressed out. Then, we hear about Hannah's golden retrievers.

Demi is watching via secret cameras to see what is up with the guys when Hannah isn't around. She has a make-up artist and animal handler working for her.

The make-up artist hits on Grant, but he doesn't go for it. Peter seems to pass the test with the animal handler.

The make-up artist really lays it on thick with Luke P. He claims he's starting something real with Hannah. Unfortunately, he passes the test.

Grant has the snake. Joe has a rat. Someone has a pig. A miniature horse.

Luke isn't liking Hannah kissing other guys. He goes back for more photos without his animal.

Hannah tries to get away from him for the moment. She needs a little space and to slow his roll.

At the cocktail party, Hannah takes Luke P. off. There are some red flags she wants to address such as rubbing their connection in the faces of the others. He tells her that the other guys don't have what it takes to be her future husband. She says she likes that they have had a deep connection. Hannah doesn't want him to think that he has it in the bag. His confidence bothers her. He tries to interrupt. She cuts him off. He needs to respect that she has other relationships. She doesn't like cocky. She tells him that she wants it to change and dismisses him.

Luke P. has an attitude and admits that Hannah says she was irritated with their relationship. He doesn't feel like he has been arrogant and confident. However, he tells the guys that when they were together Hannah did most of the talking, and it's obvious he did not like it. He plans to act like the conversation never happened. Luke interrupts Devin. He wants to get something off his chest. Hannah tells him, "LATER."

Some of the guys talk bold vs. desperate. Luke lurks around at the edge of every conversation.

Luke S. and Peter think Luke P. is self-imploding and it's about to be over for him.

Hannah tells Luke P. that she will talk to him again, but wants to talk to everyone first. She wants to call her own shots.

Garrett and Joey ask Luke P. how he is going. Now, he can't say he is in love with her. He was thinking of going home tonight.

Peter's mom was Miss Illinois. His parents met on a flight. His mom decided his dad was the one by looking at his butt. They get after it out in the alley.

When it comes time to hand out the rose, Hannah takes the rose and asks Luke P. to talk. The guys are surprised for him to get the rose.

He tells Luke P. that he needs to work harder to fix this because she likes him, but she has other relationships too.

She brings the rose back with her and gives the rose to Peter because she had the best time with him tonight.

The next day, the men are all excited about the rose ceremony tonight. Chris Harrison arrives to tell them there won't be a cocktail party. Instead there will be a daytime tailgate party.

Cam is going on about Always Be Cam again. He tells everyone there is something serious he needs to talk to Hannah about. It's something that may be too much for Hannah to handle, and she may send him home early. He wants everyone to allow him time to talk to her first. Mike (?) calls bull.

The men are playing football when Hannah arrives. Everyone is having fun, then Cam pulls Hannah away. He talks about being an onion and needing to reveal layers. In 2014, he was getting off work. His right leg locked up on him. He had a fever. He was told he needed to have his leg amputated. The day before surgery, his dad called that his grandma was dying. Last year, his most recent surgery was hardest on him because he had a 10 month puppy. I don't even know what all that is about. He still has his leg... Besides thinking he's an over-dramatic psycho, not sure what part of this was so much that she was going to send him home on the spot.

Most of the conversations are light and fun according to Hannah. Mike takes a more serious turn. He tells Hannah that Cam told everyone he was going to tell a sad story for a pity rose. She feels like Cam was being manipulative. She pulls him away.

Cam may have been the first guy she gave a rose, but she doesn't give pity roses. She appreciated being told what he shared today, but told him what Mike said. What Mike said was a little off of what we saw, but that doesn't mean it wasn't still true.

Cam was writing letters to the other guys in case he was going home. She wants to think about things and sends him off.

The party comes to an end so that everyone can get ready for the rose ceremony.

There are 18 men at the rose ceremony. Mike, Connor and Peter have roses.

During commercial I Googled what happened with Tyler G. going home. Evidently, during the first group date the producers got wind of bad dating history and decided he needed to leave.

  1. Jed
  2. Tyler C.
  3. Dustin
  4. Dylan (my, what big hair you have)
  5. Grant
  6. Luke P.
  7. Garrett
  8. John Paul Jones
  9. Matteo
  10. Devin
  11. Luke S.
  12. Kevin
That means Jonathan, Joey and Cam are going home. Cam is bitter. He was vulnerable (according to Cam) and cries on his way out. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

I'm Happy Today

I’m Happy Today

I’m happy today
Oh yes, I’m happy today
In Jesus Christ, I’m happy today
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why I’m happy today.

I’m singing today
Oh yes, I’m singing today
In Jesus Christ, I’m singing today
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why I’m singing today.

I’m praying today
Oh yes, I’m praying today
In Jesus Christ, I’m praying today
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why I’m praying today.

I’m sharing my faith
Oh yes, sharing my faith
In Jesus Christ, sharing my faith
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why sharing my faith.

I’m happy today
Oh yes, I’m singing today
In Jesus Christ, I’m praying today
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why I’m sharing my faith.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

All I accomplished was stressing myself out

I always have the grandest of plans of what I will accomplish on any given Saturday, and I always end up disappointing myself.

I was going to catch up on some work stuff, but after running around town a little bit, I came home to go through electronic disclosures for the house buying process and taking an online course in home ownership. One that cost $75 to do at that.

That seemed like an absolute waste of money and of time, but it was required by my lending company. The whole thing was pretty basic, but after a section warning you about being in debt for 30 years and all the things that could go wrong with your house, it asked the question:

How do you feel now about buying a house?

A) I'm really nervous about the whole thing.
B) I'm excited about the house.

Those answers are slightly paraphrased because I don't remember the exact wording. In fact, the word scared may have been there instead of nervous in the first answer. 

And, honestly, I lied and said B when I was thinking A. When I sent an email back to my loan person, he ended up calling me so I wouldn't be freaked out all weekend. He could tell I was.

He also told me that the test was a requirement for the particular loan program I was in and that by doing so, I got a lower interest rate. If I just knew that in the beginning, I wouldn't have been grumbling so much about doing it. 

I'm going to have to take a complete mental break tomorrow though just to recover. I'm really stressing myself out. I'm hoping this phase passes soon and that I move into truly being able to answer B.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Paige's graduation

PaigeyBeth graduated last night. Time has flown. Such a bittersweet moment in so many ways.

Instead of words, I'll just share photos, even though they leave something to be desired. I was having a hard time with the right setting to not be blurry.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Healing Spiritual Paralysis

Creatively Conquer the Crowd:
A Strategy in Healing Spiritual Paralysis
By Kristin Funston
 Adapted from Chapter 10 of More for Mom ©2019 Abingdon Press.

Toward the end of the school semester last year, life at my house became really busy, really quickly.
The kids needed me more than normal, my friends schedules cleared up and they wanted to do things together, and family decided to travel in from out of town. All this came on top of work deadlines, bills, and regular busy life.
Life became overwhelming, and I could barely keep up with it. I knew I’d never make it through the coming weeks without letting the kids drive me crazy or screaming at everyone in sight. Because I was busy and overwhelmed, I knew things couldn’t continue like they were, because I realized I was beginning the traumatic shift from feeling spiritually stable to spiritually anemic.
I’d been so focused on how to keep things moving in my world, I drifted slowly from Jesus and the focus I had previously had on our relationship. The noise of life was crowding out space for God in my life. That drift led me to the initial tingles of spiritual paralysis.
Spiritual paralysis is when our souls—the part of us directly connected to God—are unable to function.
Some of my circumstances I couldn’t control, so in order to reconnect my spiritual life where it needed to be, I had to get creative.
The Bible tells a story of a paralyzed man’s friends taking him to Jesus in Luke 5. Well, technically, I’m not sure if these guys were the man’s friends, but based on the story and what they did, we’re going to assume they were the best kind of friends.
Do you remember this story? The one where a paralyzed man and four of his friends decide they need to take him to Jesus who’s come back in town. This paralyzed man is bedridden, so they carry him and his bed to the house Jesus is visiting. Because Jesus is surrounded by people and the house He teaches in is overflowing. This man’s friends couldn’t get the bed through the door or the windows due to all the people. So, they climbed up on top of the house, removed roof tiles, and lowered the man down right in front of Jesus.
And then, to wrap up the story nice and neat, Jesus saw their faith, forgave the paralyzed man’s sins, and healed the man so he could walk again.
There are a few points I feel are good for us to visit.
Let’s start with Luke 5:18-19. Here, the friends carrying their friend remind me of me.
“They were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd(Luke 5:18-19, emphasis mine)
Sometimes I can’t find a way to Jesus.
I try and try, but I can’t. I set my alarm earlier for a productive quiet time, and my kids get up earlier. I change my quiet time from morning to right before bed, and I am so tired I fall asleep. I choose a time during the day I know it will be quiet without kids, but then an unexpected visitor shows up.
So on and so on . . . and so on.
Sometimes the crowd—the kids, our schedules, our feelings, other obligations—get in our way of seeing Him.
The Message version of Luke 5:18-20 reads:
They went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. (emphasis mine)
In the middle of the mess, they placed their mess in front of Jesus.
And how’d they do it? They went up on the roof and removed tiles. Who does that? My neighbors would lose it if I climbed up on their roof, let alone destroyed the tiles while up there. All in the name of Jesus, of course.
But it should be noted that these friends did something they knew could (and probably would) have repercussions.
They were creative and bold in their strategy to be with Jesus, to heal the paralysis.
And guess what? It worked.
Impressed by their bold belief, he said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.” (Luke 5:20)
Sometimes we have to be creative to be with our Creator.
And that’s what I want to encourage you to do. Today. Right now. In thirty minutes, in three hours, and in three months.
Do something bold. Do something creative. Do something that isn’t “normal” to be with your God.
Maybe this means you hire a babysitter and go for a long walk around the neighborhood with your audio book Bible and some headphones. Maybe this becomes a weekly routine.
Maybe this means spending fifteen minutes sitting in your car in the school parking lot after drop-off or even locked in a quiet bathroom reading God’s Word, letting everyone wonder what you’re doing in there.
Maybe this means literally listing every single strained feeling, irritation, desire, or need on a sheet of paper and then lighting that sheet on fire as you ask God to take them away.
Does that last one seem a little too pyromaniacal to you? However, I beg you to contemplate if it might work for you.
Because if it works, it works.
Whatever it is, do it. Think outside the proverbial Jesus box.
Because God will see your faith, where your heart is rooted, and heal your paralysis.
Every. Time.
And maybe—hopefully—we won’t have to remove our neighbor’s roof.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Westhill Seniors

These kids from church remember their 5th grade year with me as their teacher, but not so much when I had them as three-year-olds. It took digging around in a box twice to finally find these pictures before the banquet at church last week.

I had told them that these videos would need to make their senior video. I tried to get them to the person handling the video, but was told the video was too long as it was, so none of the clips made it. They made the blog seven years ago, but here is a playlist of just their moments.

I posted the playlist on Facebook for the kids and parents to enjoy. I think they were all quite entertained.

And here they are today...

Tatum, Collin, Thomas, Emily, Korri and Claire.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Middle Age FOMO

I've had a really, really hard time this month dealing with what I describe as "Middle Age FOMO" (fear of missing out).

To be completely honest, it's not a fear though. It's just a MOMA. Middle Age Missing Out.

The past few years, it's been hard to see friends just a little older than me post about their kids graduating from high school and certain milestones. It's not that I so much wish I had kids graduating, but it just hits me that I don't have it. That I've missed out on something.

It's become harder and harder as my niece has progressed through high school. I've wanted to be a part of her life, but I haven't been able to be involved like I want to be. Specifically, I feel like I've missed out with her, and I won't be able to get that time back.

This year with her being a senior, every post of senior year activities has made it harder and harder. The final countdown to graduation has become more and more emotionally painful.

It's been a really lonely time.

Rachel and I had dinner tonight for the first time in a while, and we were talking about this. While she adores her nephews, she's always been on the side of not really wanting her own kids either. She agreed, there are times it feels like as a single, she can identify with the missing out.

Some other things have been going on that I can't share about that have only magnified these feelings and the difficulty of time at hand. It's been really, really rough. Like a stab, right in the heart. Last Friday night was hard at the church senior banquet. I was a hot mess for more reasons than one.

Hopefully, by the end of the month everything will even out emotionally. I don't want to take any celebration and happy moments away from anyone, but I really need past everything that is going on.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Bachelorette: Hannah B. - Week 2

Since four or five people read the blog last week, here we go with week 2.

Hannah wants real. Real conversations. Real relationships. Real. She does some odd rap that's odd.

Luke P. already sees having a family with her. Can you say stalker material?

Chris Harrison asks how the guys felt after night one. He drops off the first date card.

"Grant, Luke S., Mike, Jed, Jonathan, John Paul Jones, Dylan, Luke P. - I'm looking for my Mr. Right. - Hannah"

Peter thinks she has the wrong group of guys because he isn't in that group.

When the men arrive at a theater, she informs them they will be doing a pageant. To prepare the men for the Mr. Right Pageant, there are three drag queens that are going to coach them.

There is a talent portion and a Speedo swimsuit competition.

Dylan is the first up to strut in his Speedo. He evidently impresses the judges.

Jonathan struts with high socks, but still gets many a cheer.

No one really knows what to do with John Paul Jones.

Jed models with his cowboy boots on. The judges drool.

Luke P. is jealous. But, as JPJ says, "Luke P. has the body of a Greek god." Even his fellow contestants seem impressed.

When it comes time for the talent portion, JPJ rides a unicycle.

Luke P cannot play the trumpet.

Jonathan tries to juggle and tap dance at the same time.

Someone walks around in high heels. I can't tell who is who yet. (Had to look it up - Mike.)

Jed sings an original song. He's dressed like Indiana Jones, but I don't know why.

Grant gives up.

Luke P.'s talent is professing that he is already falling in love with her. He walks down the catwalk to give her a kiss.

Chris Harrison comes back out to announce the winner of Mr. Right. Luke P. wins the crown. I'm over him already. He tries too hard.

The other Luke rolled his eyes at this. He says he could never say that after one night. All the guys may be going after Hannah, but they aren't ready to claim love yet.

As the cocktail party because, the first guy to pull her away after the toast was Luke P. Hannah says it kind of scares her that he's already saying it and that he means it. It's been less than 48 hours after all. He started having feelings for her before meeting her. He is saying all the right things. Part of Hannah always centers in on one guy, and she's feeling Luke's pull.

Mike questions Luke P. about his profession. It won't be long before he is questioning everyone else's intentions.

Back at the mansion, the men are in a set-up group chat as they wait for the next date card to arrive.

"Tyler G. - Falling in love can be messy. - Hannah"

But back on the group date...

Jed says he had fun with the drag queens. He tries to clarify by saying, he enjoys anyone who can be themselves.

When it comes time for the group date rose, she wants to give it to someone who shined. She gives it to Jed. Probably the first runner-up of the Mr. Right Pageant.

The next day, Hannah arrives to get Tyler G. for the date, and a helicopter arrives to sweep them away. 

After they leave, Jed plays the guitar while Cam raps. That's going to get really old, really fast.

Hannah wants a man who is not afraid to get dirty. They are going to do some muddin' on four-wheelers. Of course, she is wearing all white.

Tyler tells her it is so surreal to get the first one-on-one. She tells him to enjoy the moment and be real. He thinks this is how fairy tales start.

Over "dinner" Hannah tells Tyler how great the date was. He surprised her by how natural it felt. They talk about what it means to be strong. He's borderline emotional. He wants to hear about her dreams. She's always wanted to be a mom and have some kind of career.

At the house, Cam is freaking out. The date card arrives.

"Devin, Matteo, Daron, Connor J., Kevin, Dustin, Tyler C., Joey, Peter, Garrett - Let's get our love on track. - Hannah

There are three that will not have a date this week. Cam, Connor S. and Matthew are the odd men out.

Back on the date, Tyler G. gets his date rose.

It's a new day. Hannah and the guys will be taking part in some roller derby. They will be schooled by three of LA's best derby dolls. Hannah isn't great on skates. The last time she skated, she broke her arm and never tried again.

I don't know if there's a decent skater in the bunch. They are all falling off the slanted walls during practice.

At the mansion, Cam and his harmonica are singing the blues. It's pitiful. He's planning to be bold and ABC... Always Be Cam. He's going to say that at least once a week.

Fred Willard is back to do commentary with Chris Harrison for goodness only knows what reason.

When it comes time to skate in front of an audience, they aren't any more steady on their feet. Dustin takes a hard fall and really bangs up his ankle.

The green team beats the orange team. Daron led them to victory as like the only guy who can skate.

They head to Big Daddy's for the evening. Hannah picks Dustin to talk to first. He wants to follow-up on his ankle. He has a nose ring which seems odd for a guy. Hannah tells him that she has noticed his energy. he gets his kiss in.

Peter talks about how he may have flown her on a trip before.

All the guys think they are going to get some time with her. They are getting some competition. Cam shows up uninvited. He makes his ABC reference again. Hannah is puzzled when Cam arrives and interrupts her time with Devin. Puzzled in a bad way, BTW. Not sure the bouquet of flowers is going to win her over.

Hannah tells Cam she knows its hard. He tries to play off funny by saying he's not trying to be over Hannalytical. She tells him thank you for coming, kisses him and send him off.

He has creepy eyes when talking to the camera. What's also creepy is Tyler C. walking up behind him while he is talking to the cameras. There's a confrontation of words before Tyler goes back in.

While Tyler C. is still pontificating, two other men come out (Kevin and someone), one at a time, to confront Cam.

The group date rose goes to Dustin because she asked for someone to get back up after trying. She tells everyone she had a great day, but the's really tired. I am too. I'm trying not to doze off with my fingers on the keys.

It's the next night, and Hannah arrives for the cocktail party and rose ceremony. 

She arrives emotional. She starts a speech about being real. One guy calls for Kleenex and someone offers a handkerchief. It's hard for her to make decisions without knowing them that well. 

After the toast, Hannah is immediately pulled away by Connor S. He's interrupted by Kevin. Kevin is interrupted by ABCam. Cam pulls Kevin and Hannah away. He's a picky eater and brings chicken nuggets. He offers Hannah some dipping sauce.

Tyler C. sets up some rose petals, candles and pillows on the ground. The cold ground.

Jed has a rose, but wants 5 minutes to see her, but not before Luke P. gets some time trying to give her a massage. She wants him to take his shirt off and get his own massage. They are in middle of a make out session with Luke's shirt off when Jed interrupts.

It's an awkward moment. It kind of kills the mood. Jed heads to sit by the fire by himself. Hannah finally comes out to find him. He tries to play it off as harder for her than him. She says, "It really wasn't want it looked like. It was a massage."

After a little more chatting with the men, it's time for a rose ceremony.

Jed, Tyler G. and Dustin have roses.

  1. Tyler C.
  2. Garrett
  3. Devin
  4. Connor S.
  5. Luke P. (who is giving commentary on the wrong boldness of Cam)
  6. Dylan
  7. Luke S. 
  8. Mike
  9. Peter
  10. Kevin
  11. Jonathan
  12. Jelly? Oh, Joey. I couldn't understand her. I had a hard time with Dylan too. 
  13. Matteo
  14. John Paul Jones
  15. Grant
  16. Cam
That means going home are the other Connor, Daron and Matthew. 

Cam toasts to his best from Hannah Ayala. Hannah didn't know what that meant. It's Cam's last name. 

She wants a man who can be bold. She's trying to do her post rose ceremony interview, but Luke P. comes in. She wants to talk to Luke more. 

Hannah tells him that the "falling in love with me" thing was a lot and comes off as a competitive thing. That doesn't keep her from get hot and heavy with him under the interview lights. 

Cue previews of next week. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

He Has Made Me Glad

He Has Made Me Glad
Gwen R. Shaw and Psalm 100

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart,
I will enter his courts with praise!
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made,
I will rejoice for he has made me glad.

He has made me glad!
He has made me glad!
I will rejoice for he has made me glad.

He has made me glad,
He has made me glad,
I will rejoice for he had made me glad.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Every click you take

A couple of nights ago in middle of a burned out pity party about midnight, I started searching Alaskan cruises on my iPad.

At the moment, I had pushed away the idea of the house hunt and was dwelling on needing a vacation. It was really just a whim and only one, maybe two websites.

The next morning, my Facebook feed was flooded as if a great glacier melted with ads for Alaskan cruises.

That prompted me to create this graphic here that I really hoped would go viral because I thought I was so clever in the moment. You have to sing it, by the way.

I'm trying to ignore those Alaska ads during the daylight hours. However, there is something I am EXTREMELY grateful for.

Last weekend I did a search for something which I shall not disclose (which makes it sound worse than it was for the purpose at the time). I am so thankful that search didn't turn into targeted ads because if someone were to get on my computer after that they would have serious questions about me.

Have you ever found yourself in that situation? What was the search?

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Unique Stressors Young Adults Face Today

Part 1 of an interview with Shelby Abbott,
Author of Pressure Points

Our modern age—saturated with technology, constant cynicism, streamlined digital communication, heavy negativity, relationship status posts, and instant information access—has shaped the way many young people deal with the pressure points of life. With the unique set of pressures students experience in their transition to college, more young adults are struggling with purpose, relationships, failure, community, and isolation than ever before. Author and college ministry leader Shelby Abbott believes that while technology isn’t itself to blame, it forces real issues to surface in the lives of young men and women.

Abbott’s new release, Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress (New Growth Press) aims to confront many of these struggles, big or small, in light of the gospel.

Q: What are a few of the stressors students wrestle with today’s culture that Pressure Points directly addresses? How are the challenges of today different from those of previous generations?

The book is divided into three main sections, addressing purpose, relationships and difficulties. Under those mains sections, I dive into relevant topics such as: God’s will, drinking, sex, pornography, relating to parents, friends, dating, authentic community, the fear of missing out (FOMO), struggling with failure, blocked goals, and even spiritual warfare.  It’s a lot of helpful advice in one concise package that aims for practical gospel solutions.

Because of technology and a smartphone in nearly everyone’s pocket, culture is quite different from previous generations. New temptations, means of gathering information, social constructs, and solution attempts are all approached through the lens of a technology-driven culture, and this presents new gospel opportunities to speak to unique cultural challenges. I cannot ignore the obviousness of technological influence on students while pointing them to biblical answers.

Q: What exactly do you mean by “gospel solutions”?

When you begin to unpack the gospel, you discover very quickly that it is a bottomless pit of grace. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the answer to all of our struggles, but it can be difficult to see that when you are in the midst of feeling life’s pressures. This book is an attempt to lovingly guide young men and women toward the good news we read about in the pages of Scripture and help them understand that there are practical applications of the gospel in the big and small of everyday struggles. The gospel helps us to understand and know our place in life, and hopefully see how relevant it is to any and everyone, regardless of what the culture may look like today.

Q: Why is the fear of missing out (FOMO) so prevalent among today’s college students? How does technology shine a light on some of the pressure points in a student’s life?

Because of technology’s ability to show us everything that’s going on in the world right now, today’s young generation has been consumed by the idea that other better options are prevalent and attainable to them. Most college-aged Christians wrestle with FOMO all the time, and it has dramatically affected how they go about life. Their anxiety has increased, and they aren’t experiencing the abundant life Jesus promises to us. I explore some practical gospel solutions to this in the book, and I like to re-read those parts to myself regularly because this is an ongoing struggle for me too.

I wouldn’t say technology itself is the problem, rather I’d say technology forces the real problems to the surface of our lives so they become easy to spot. Fear, laziness, apathy, and the like are all attitudes that have always been around for generations, but technology has made them more clearly visible. 

Q: Dating has always been a pressure point for college students, but how has technology changed the modern dating scene? In what ways is the digital, online presentation of a person not an accurate picture of their true self?
Click here to order.

Dating in general doesn’t really exist in the way it did before the age of the smartphone. What I’d call “traditional dating” is considered very old-fashioned and unbearably awkward for so many young people, to the point people are no longer asking one another out on dates, they’re just succumbing to the norm of “hook-up culture.” Sadly, that way of interacting with the opposite sex has quickly bled over onto the Christian scene. No, not as many Christian college students are hooking up and engaging in random sexual flings as compared to non-believing students, but the noncommittal kind of “whatever” attitude about relationships with the opposite sex is definitely present. Young people can hide behind the safety of their phones and protect themselves from any kind of face-to-face social anxiety simply by texting the opposite sex instead of engaging with them in person. The person-to-person interaction still has to happen, however, and I’ve found that part of relational interaction between the sexes is still a source of significant pressure for them.

Everything about a person that comes through digitally (whether it be online through social media or through a text message on a phone) is technically edited content. If you know a person solely via the veneer of social media profiles or edited text messages, then you don’t really know that person entirely. We’re deceiving ourselves if we buy into the fact that we can get to know someone deeply if we only communicate digitally. That method of getting to know someone will always lack depth because it can never be a substitute for the real thing. Social media and texting should never be a substitute for relationships, but rather a springboard.

Q: Why has escapism become such a problem for college students?

Escapism has essentially become an idol that college students run to in order to fill the void they’re wrestling with in college. Post high school is often a time of self-reflection and discovery about who you are and what you want to do. Inevitably, young people are being pushed in ways they’re not used to because there’s the element of being on your own and feeling like an adult for probably the first time in your life. And when the pressures of college begin to squeeze, college students look to almost anything for a sense of relief. Often times, this can lead to drinking, drugs, sexual promiscuity, pornography, or a ton of other damaging things. What I want young people to see is t the false gods they run to will ultimately fail them because the void can only be filled by the true God in a relationship with Christ.

Q: How is the advice you share in Pressure Points particularly applicable for recent graduates/young adults entering the workforce?

We never graduate from walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, and focusing our lives on bringing glory to God, and this book certainly contains that overarching message. Practically, however, making and being a good friend, joining a church, navigating the tricky environment of modern romance, and other valuable subjects I cover in Pressure Points are highly applicable topics to recent graduates and young adults entering the workforce. Undoubtedly, young twenty-somethings can greatly benefit from what I’ve shared as they look toward beginning life post cap and gown.

Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress
by Shelby Abbott
April 22, 2019 / Retail Price: $15.99
Print ISBN 978-1-948130-34-9
Religion / Christian Life / Family


Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States.

Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life). His latest release is Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and kids’ Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and other resources from New Growth Press, visit

To request a review copy of Pressure Points, schedule an interview with Shelby Abbott, or for more information, please contact Audra Jennings,