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Wrestling With Your Doubts

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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August 20, 2020 2:00 am

Wrestling With Your Doubts

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 20, 2020 2:00 am

Is doubt in the Christian life something to fear, or a healthy part of authentic faith? Dave and Ann Wilson, alongside co-host Bob Lepine, talk with Shelby Abbott, author of the book "DoubtLess," to explore doubt as an issue in a walk of faith. How do we wrestle well in the midst of suffering? Abbott responds that doubt is different than unbelief, and while we should not fear doubt, neither should we make it a badge of honor.

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How is it that young people who were rocksolid about their faith when they were in youth group in high school and upended to university and starting to have doubts. Shelby Abbott explains they sit in class and they hear from religion 101 professor and it never really thought about their faith on their own and their professor just blows holes in everything that they thought was true about Christianity and then they go will. If my professor who was much smarter than me doesn't believe it. Maybe it's not true and then they don't take the time to actually research it themselves.

This is family life to do our hosts are Damon and Wilson. I'm Bob Lapine you can find us all of us are going to experience challenges to our faith and have seasons where we deal without so what we do when that happens, and as parents.

How do we help our children deal with their doubts will talk more about that today. Stay with us and welcome to family life to the thanks for joining us. Have you wrestled without in your in your walk with Jesus's year my wife left no hope she laugh why did you left because this is a topic that is very relevant today because yes, doubt has been a big part of his faith.

More of his than yours. Yeah I don't really wrestled with that Dave has always wrestled with. I I've told my kids doubt is not something that we should fear its you have days where you walk in your this for real but the whole God thing. That alone Bob what a great conversation to have your figure to. I've said when I have that I'm driving along and I think to myself, okay is a crutch. I need some to prop myself up. This is because I was born in America, all those kinds of things and then I look at a tree and I go. We have some pretty amazing technological development in our world and we still don't know how to make a tree in a tree is pretty basic but we can't make one of those. Even our best scientists don't know how to make a tree and I just that re-calibrates me to go okay when they figure out how to make trees.

Then my faith will be shaken.

But for now I'm I'm okay with where I am, because I think there's gotta be a God who knows more than we do. Who knows how to make trees.

We were on staff with crew in our second year, so I actually married two years as well so I'm on campus minister athletes in action going to the University Nebraska campus and I wake up one day and again and doesn't struggle with this.

So if you look to me like what I go, what are we doing seals with Tonga, we just threw away our lives for a lie. She does what the stuff that you give my life to Christ were four years ago. I never did any research this whole thing.

What are we doing with their lives and she just looks at me and she goes, you better find out because I know your brain. You can't live alive so you better find out. I went on a journey for the substance of it. I welcomed out. I think that's a really healthy thing because there are answers that are legit and but you gotta go get one of the things that's interesting in this culture today is that there are some who are turning doubt almost into a virtue right like like real Christians have to doubt and the more you doubt may be, the more authentic your faith is and that now starts to get a little dangerous. We've got a friend who is joining us again on family life to do a and were happy to have him back. Shelby Abbott is here with us, shall be welcome to family life to. Thanks for having me on again. It's good to be with you guys.

Shelby is an author or a speaker. He's been involved with ground years have you been with crew. This artist is 21 years now so he's been involved working with college students been involved in in campus ministry has written a number of books including a book called pressure point, and one called. I'm a tool that's all about dating and he's got a brand-new book that's come out that addresses this issue of doubt and the book is called doubt less and and Shelby talk about your own journey with doubt, is it something that's been an issue for you. Yeah, it's been an issue for me, but maybe not in the way that it would normally come about with an average believer's net is ever really been that much of an intellectual thing with me. It's really been more about my suffering and how my suffering has dictated some of my thinking when it comes to what is God doing, is he really in control. Does he care does he let me and then leading to it is he is the all-powerful Kenny actually do the stuff that he says he can do it. I was reading something over the weekend about a pastor who that that's the issue that derailed him, led him away from the faith. This whole issue of if an all-powerful loving God exists, then why is there suffering at the level there is in the world you were wrestling with that with suffering in your own life, but it didn't derail you know I think it's because when suffering came around for me.

I had Artie been a Christian for about 15 years and so I had deep roots and I being on staff crew. I tried to intentionally surround myself with people who I can learn from and that would pour into me well that I could wrestle with these in a verbal way and not keep them internal and then live my life authentically around people who have traveled the road ahead of me. Both like maybe one stage ahead and then multiple stages had not tried it.

I have consistently inject people into my life who have wrestled with the same things. I wrestled with who have wisdom in ways that I would never have wisdom and then I just bury my nose in the Scriptures to try to make sure that that foundation is no well attended to, and because of that I never really got to a point where I was like honey let me just pitch this whole thing. I wondered similar to what you guys are talking about but my was really more of like if God is good, then why would this happen. I do really wrestle with. If God is there something he share a little bit of what that suffering look like yeah so in 2009. My wife and I ran a 10 mile race. This is pretty kids ran to my race and that was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.

I had herniated disc in my lower back that started putting pressure on my sciatic nerve causing this radiating pain down my my leg on a consistent basis, and so I went to three different physical therapy sessions and went to three different chiropractors had injections in my back.

I got acupuncture. I did everything that I could've done without getting surgery and then eventually found myself sitting across the table from the top neurosurgeon at Penn medicine and he said you know looking at your MRI. I just don't see anything here that I can go in and do that would help you. In fact, you might come out of the operation with even more pain and anytime you tweak your back.

You probably can have an app that another operation so at that moment I was just like God.

You gotta do something here because that was 10 years after the initial injury that happened and so I learned a ton in the process and my my faith is been galvanized in ways that it just never was before. And so I look back at the suffering and thanked God for it because it's been a gift to me that my roots are even stronger in him now than they were before, to the point that I felt like I had the audacity to write a book about unite and if you don't actually struggle with the things that you're writing about, what's the point.

So talk about what you're seeing on the college campus as you work with students today because you've observed what I was talking about having to work. Doubt is almost like a badge of honor. These days, yet is culture celebrates it in in a way that it's it's cool to do so and the genesis of this book was a combination of a few things. My brother-in-law, my wife's youngest brother who is very dear to me. He ended up having a two-year long battle with doubt that ended in him walking away from the face and said that was very very troubling to me. I start talking about it with a friend of mine, older mentor friend of mine is that you need to write about this and then write the same time there's a summer mission that my wife and I run with crew and about three years ago. Two students came to me at the end of week one of 10 weeks in the summer mission and said hey we want to ask you a few questions and they were just very honest about what they were struggling with. When it came to their doubts, and so because of that I was like I need to look into this a little bit more because they are just a small subset of the college campus that is wrestling with these things and we've got to get it out to the open, because if you're quiet about this, just like any other thing that you're quiet about it will fester and grow and it will end eventually lead to where my brother and I ended up going to which is pitch in the faith, so as you look at the even the title of your book are you trying to help people doubt lessen their faith and taking them on a journey to do that. What was the idea because like the subtitles. Obviously faith is hard.

We understand never what you mean by doubtless yeah it's it's a plan words a little bit and it's really an interesting thing because you have to embrace it in order to get to a different side of it and when you get to the other side you're able to doubtless so is pronounced doubt less. Because faith is hard so my encouragement in the book is to do the opposite of what were tempted to do in the Christian community which is not talk about it because we don't want to be labeled as someone who's like a troublemaker or or were afraid to mention it or we are afraid that if we do mention it were to be someone's project and there and try to argue us back into the faith or their gonna try to argue away some of the doubts that were having and so might my whole process with this is like hey let me let me lean into this in a way that I'm coming around people and there helping me through this process so that as I doubt just like a muscle, get stronger and stronger and stronger the more you work it out. Putting the assumption that God is there that he wants me to run after him that he will be there for me as I try to find him in the start she's always there, and as a result my my muscle will be stronger at the end so I will be able to doubt less in the future. This is interesting about you or even in the church I grew up in as a kid. They never said this I would've caught. I think everyone can't doubt is sin when you know it's sin and you open the book in your chapter send out his biblical yeah and it's common and so as a young boy was like a like you know we all had questions. You are even allowed to ask a question, just receive it. Believe it is now lunch I know but nobody reads the story of doubting Thomas in the Bible and ghost man. That's who I want to be sure I want to be a guy who goes to Jesus and says give me better evidence than you do standing here in front of me. So how is doubt biblical Shelby yeah and that was one of the things that I was like not see I never read the Bible several times cover to cover and I was like, does not pick up on this until I was like looking for it intentionally, and so yeah there's tons of examples of it. The Psalms are a great place to go to to just discover the wrong reality of what someone's going through and not really believing the best in God. Some people read that in their put off but I'm incredibly encouraged back some like this is really transcribing was going on in my heart. This is what feels authentic to me as one of the major characters that I decided to use at least in the book instead of running straight doubting Thomas. What I do talk about him.

I thought John the Baptist was a really good example because if you think about who John the Baptist was. He was the precursor to the Messiah. He was the one who left in the womb when he was close to Jesus. He was the one who pointed Jesus out and said, behold the Lamb of God. He takes away the sin of the world and he baptized Jesus and when he did literally God's voice from heaven said this is my son like he heard it. He was there yet. At the end of his life. He's in prison and he sends two of his disciples to Jesus and says lassies as if he's the one. Or we should be waiting for another, as I read God's voice in the sky you saw the Holy Spirit descended on him and you're still doubting what is that telling that tells me that if God would give me the quote unquote proof today by showing up in the sky wearing a yellow flashing jersey. This is, I am Jesus. Worship me, I'd still probably doubt I still do that. So I've seen these examples of these people is characters in the Scriptures. I see that the text itself, calling into question whether or not God is real. If he's there if Jesus was who he says he was unlike hey I'm coming good biblical company.

This is really good and I love how Jesus responds to John the Baptist and doubting Thomas. You know that's one of the most beautiful things I think you don't go. Oh, shame on you. I can't believe you're asking a question is now the lame walk to the blind say hey hey Thomas, look at my look at the scars. It's like it's okay to investigate. In fact, it's a good thing to investigate because evidence you can find is to be pretty pretty profound course you turn to the book of James and here's James saying don't be like those who doubt so there's this rebuke against doubting and James Wright. That's one of the beautiful things about Scripture is that you can't just like pull quotes here and here and here to make it what you wanted to say which is what people do all the time so you have to look at the entirety of Scripture and see examples of this. And so it's like the classic debate of predestination or free will and the answer is yes were not comfortable with that as human beings.

And so it's important to look at the Scriptures as a whole and then see what you're saying Dave even how Jesus responded to people who constantly doubted him and you know, even at the ascension at Matthew 28 you know that the famous great commission yelped his disciples are there and they get to see them go up into the sky and it says is one little phrase says, but some doubted. But some doubted. Seriously after the resurrection. After the resurrection, you know, some doubted. Still, in those moments is like okay, Jesus still patient with us. He cares about us. Doubt is not the same thing as unbelief.

It's not.

That's like saying temptation is the same thing as sin. It's not.

And so doubt is one of those things that can you not rip this from Tim Keller. He acts is like at an inoculation almost if you're doubting your body is able to create antibodies against it. So when life smacks you in the face, which it will, you're able to not doubt in your lot stronger in that situation because you've already been inoculated things I thought was interesting. We are talking about John the Baptist things that always stuck out to me about John the Baptist. It says he was born with the power of the Holy Spirit, and yet he still doubted because even with the disciples I can think what they didn't have the Holy Spirit yet.

That's why they were counting even when we had the power of the spirit who helps us discern. We can still have some of that doubt. And so that I feel like that. That's kind of encouraging and one of the things that we talked about to do, which I thought was interesting. Each hunt about feeding your faith, your doubts and even more like that's so good because once we get in this doubting kind of space it's easy to keep going there instead of feeding your faith.

You walk us through if somebody listening is going. I'm wrestling with guidance.

What's your prescription for them, how they wrestle well yeah I think that one of the temptations is a Christian when we find that people are wrestling with doubts is to give them content in order to negate the fact that there doubting, but I found especially when you're dealing with people, which is what ministry is presence is as important if not more so than content and so this book is not meant to be an apologetic, per se, there's plenty of other people have written way better stuff that I have about that kind of thing. Although I do go into it a little bit with the resurrection, but in general I think it's an emotional thing. It's a hard thing. It's communal thing and if you talk about. For example, what you mentioning like feeding your faith and not your doubts. I think young people at least have the attraction to doubt, then you're on YouTube, watching all the yeah yeah and you can find anything on YouTube that all that alike help reinforce your already pre-existing notions about anything. It's there, and so you start to roll that over in your mind and if you remain silent about it, you're going to external sources like YouTube are you reading books are your you're listening to podcasts that reinforce kind of what your doubts are and it just pushes you further and further and further and so my my exhortation to students is like instead of feeding your doubts and allowing your faith to starve one that you feed your faith and allow your doubts to starve because it seems a little bit counterintuitive to think and feel that way. But it's obviously the way that we should be going. Putting the weight of our faith into Jesus.

During the process of the fact that we were not sure he's in a prop us up. Talked with people for years and said there is going to be a gap between what evidence will support and the ultimate questions are wrestling with in life, whatever it is you're wrestling with what where did I come from, why am I here what happens when I die. These kinds of big metaphysical questions to get to an answer if you're looking for evidence that will be an airtight case that is irrefutable. Nobody's around find that there's always going be a gap between what the evidence supports the conclusion you come to, and that gap is the faith gap that we've we've got to step into and you're either going to step into that and say well I'm little believe what the culture says or what the Bible says to fill in the gap between the evidence of the conclusion with what I choose to fill it in with yeah and that the beautiful thing about Christianity among many other beautiful things is there's never going to be an airtight argument for Christianity God and give us an airtight argument. He gave us an airtight person and so that's what we need to concentrate on and lean into an owl press. There's great evidence for the resurrection is great evidence for the historicity of the of the Bible and the people in the Bible all the stuff it's there, it's just that you gotta be willing and this is one of my things with younger people willing to look for it. I think they sit in class and they hear from religion 101 professor and it never really thought about their faith on their own and their professor just blows holes in everything that they thought was true about Christianity and then they go will. If my professor who was much smarter than me doesn't believe it. Maybe it's not true and then they don't take the time to actually research it themselves and so I'm encouraging people to research themselves to look for the evidence. There is great evidence for the Christian faith, and don't be lazy about it. Be intentional. Lean into it, and trust that God is going to provide for you in the process of seeking after him because he will they was a pastor.

You've seen people in your church doubt and somehow wound up in a stronger place and somehow wound up spilling out how how have you approach that is people have come to you, what would be the approach you would take. I think what Shelby said earlier so pivotal and I didn't initially even understand it puts presence is so important you know I've always said is not the size your faith, it matters if the object is you could have mustard seed faith. But if you have the right object, I think, like Shelby said the evidence that the historicity of the Bible, the evidence resurrection is so solid. The object is so, but you still have to faith but I still think most skeptics and most people struggle with doubt and I have done that. They want somebody they need some way to walk beside them and love them. But if you're not tender I don't even think it's doubt that the wrestling what they don't like the person that they're walking beside is no use at the say you don't believe this is true, and I think it's deeper than that is interesting. I just got a text from a good friend who lost her 37-year-old daughter and a church where singing the song she said you're never gonna let me down yellow mannequin and that kinetic and let me down and she said I couldn't sing that song yeah and I said I get it, and she's doubting she goes. I'm still struggling right now and I lost my sister when my sister is 45 years what you said. Shelby is so true. I had that choice in that moment to feed my faith or to feed my doubts.

And as you said Dave man, when I connected with other followers of Christ saying I'm really struggling and I think it's important for us to continue to always be building on that faith to saturate ourselves with God's word to be in community with other people when we can't even stand up there holding us up praying for us but also to be able to be vulnerable in real and have people say yeah I get it. Let me pray for you and what I love about your book is it's the kind of book that someone who is wrestling with doubt can read to help them know how to address that also book that moms and dads can be reading to help them understand the doubts that their kids are to go through that their college kids are bombarded with today to help them know how I walk well alongside my children when there doubting or help them walk well alongside their friends were doubting the book Shelby has written is called doubtless because faith is hard, it's brand-new. It's just out this week go to family life to to get a copy of the book, doubtless, or call one 800 FL today. Again, our website is family life you can order from us online or you can call to order the book. Doubtless, by Shelby Abbott the number to call is 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today.

You know, we are aware that this issue of helping our kids stay on track spiritually is the number one issue moms and dads are losing sleep over these days it's the issue that matters most to us as followers of Christ and that's what we're trying to address every day on family life. To day the very real, very practical issues that we face in our marriage relationship are parenting our extended family relationships family life to exist to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe that marriages and families are an essential part of a healthy society and one marriages and families are not doing well.

The society is not doing well.

So if you want to change the world you change one home at a time and we are so grateful for those of you who share that vision with us. Those of you who made today's program possible by being supporters of this ministry and making donations in the past.

If you can help with a donation today would love to say thank you by sending you a copy of my new book which is called love like you mean it to book for married couples to help us apply the definition of love from first Corinthians 13 and build a stronger, more durable marriage because it's built on a solid foundation of what real love should look like in marriage.

The book is our thank you gift to you. When you make a donation today to support the ongoing work of family life to day. You can donate or call one 800 FL today to donate more grateful for your past support and your ongoing support of this ministry. We really appreciate you and we hope you can join us again tomorrow we will talk about what we can do as parents to have healthy conversations with our children about their doubts, how to invite them into dialogue about those things.

Shelby Abbott will join us again tomorrow. Hope you can tune in as well. I don't think our engineer today. Keith Lynch along with our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson.

I'm bopping see you back next time for another edition of family life today. Family life to a is a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas. Accrue ministry help for today hope for tomorrow

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