HBD, Real Life Loading…: Our One Year Highlight Reel
Real Life Loading… recaps a killer first year with its best-of highlight reel.
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Real Life Loading… recaps a killer first year with its best-of highlight reel.
Shelby: Somewhat anxious, always authentic. This is Real Life Loading....
I'm your host, Shelby Abbott, and guess what? Real Life Loading is one year old. That's right. Our little baby is becoming a toddler. I just really want to pause right here on this one year anniversary show. Thank you for listening over the past year, if you've been with us. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have you along with me on this Real Life Loading… ride. You're the best and I hope we've been helpful for you and the other people in your life.
Well, for this one year show, we wanted to revisit some of the most powerful moments that have impacted me personally over the last year. We had a ton of people on Real Life Loading who dropped a lot of truth, but these were some of the most hard hitting for me as I thought about the last 52 weeks.
So let's start with an author, a speaker, a pastor, and a good friend of mine, Sam Allberry. He was one of the first people I thought about to get as a guest on Real Life Loading to talk about a subject really that's so woven into the culture right now. At least the conversation about it is woven into the culture, and that is of course the topics of sexuality, gender, marriage, and LGBTQ identity.
So we've talked about a ton of things on this episode, but one of the things that was super significant for me as I heard him talk was when he went over the significance of sex.
Sam: So, in the biblical way of thinking, in actually the way Jesus teaches about it, sex is actually never meant to be about sex. It's meant to be pointing to something beyond itself. It's always been about much more than we think it is. We tend to think of it as being a means of deep pleasure and gratification, and there's something significant we feel is going on there. But that very thing itself is meant to be a signpost to a much larger story that we are part of.
It's not for nothing that Jesus doesn't just call Himself the Redeemer or the Savior or the Son of God or the Christ. He calls Himself the Bridegroom. There's a whole story going on here that we are part of, that is a romance, that our own sexuality is meant to be a reflection of. I think what we've done is we've turned it in on itself and made it about ourselves and our feelings and our wanting to feel fulfilled, and we've missed that wider story that it's meant to be part of.
Shelby: Okay, so most people would probably not think about Jesus when the topic of sex comes up. But I love how Sam talks about just the plain and practical things that are right there in the Scriptures that we just kind of miss and don't really think about. He's so thoughtful and intentional about these subjects.
In terms of communication, I always want to listen or read, listen to or read anything that Sam puts out. Now when it comes to our relationships with LGBTQ people, I feel like we've gotten things wrong quite a bit. Sam says that we should strike a Christ-like balance between grace and truth.
Sam: As Christians, we have to both be those who really do create a sense of safety and compassion and dignity, whilst also holding some beliefs that will be very counter-cultural to most of the people around us, and to do both of those things at the same time. That is, I think, how we try and step into the space that Jesus himself occupied so beautifully.
I'm, I'm always intrigued by You know how Jesus was known as the Friend of sinners. He was able to be with people without affirming what they were doing in a way that they wanted him around. He didn't have to agree with them to be with them, and he didn't have to reject them to disagree with them.
And I think so much in our own culture is if you disagree with someone, you have to treat them as inferior. You have to reject them and push them away. Jesus doesn't let us do that. The people who we might disagree with, the people whose behavior we might disapprove of are the very people Jesus, I think, would have us draw closer to us rather than pushing them away from us.
Shelby: Is that the posture that I normally take with people who I disagree with? No. No, I don't. And probably if you are honest, you don't either. And I love how Sam flips that on his head and says again, Jesus is the one who gives us the example of how to treat others in the context of disagreeing with them. How to be friends with them, the friend of sinners, and by the way, the sinners are all of us. Jesus came to be with all of us. I love how Sam focuses the conversation and has us do the hard work of what's going on inside us, before we even start to talk about the issues of the day. Sam's amazing. I love him. I'm definitely going to have him back on Real Life Loading.
Another one of my favorite people to be able to talk to from time to time is my friend Rehab Gray. Rechab is a pastor in Orlando, Florida. He just planted a church there. I love Rechab. I love the insight that he gives on lots of things like theology to race, to what it's like to just walk with Jesus, and then apply it in appropriate ways.
So Rechab says that good theology is important, but he also says that intimacy with Jesus is even more important. Listen to this.
Rechab: In 2011, I was super-nerding out in theology books. Like just, I'm like one of those guys, you know what I'm saying?
Rechab: But I was using books about God to run from God.
Shelby: What do you mean by that?
Rechab: Yes, it was in a church center where people really valued theological knowledge, which is awesome and all of that. But because of that, I could use theology to hide the fact that I wasn't actually experiencing intimacy. So I would go around and spread this information that I was picking up to hide the fact that there was zero intimacy that I was actually experiencing.
Rechab: And you know, John 15, like, apart from me, you can do nothing. I'm the vine, you are the branches. It's funny, in that passage we forget He repeats that phrase almost like, so we don't get it twisted.
Shelby: Mm-hmm. Right. Yes.
Rechab: You know what I'm saying? Like, you really have to find your sourcing in Me. And man, I was finding it in books about God as, as opposed to God Himself.
Shelby: I love the honesty that Rechab has just straight up about what he's dealing with, and I love that kind of challenge That Rechab gives by telling us his story.
So as, as Christians, we would say certain things about what we believe, but I found that the most difficult thing in life is actually living out what I communicate to other people about what it means to be a Christian.
Rechab: One of the things I, I love about up and coming believers, they are not okay with theology for theology's sake. They're asking the question like, yo, so what is this producing in culture? How are we making an impact upon those around us as opposed to just looking inward? It's a beautiful thing about this generation. There's a Benjamin Franklin quote which is, “Well done, is greater than well said.”
I was thinking about that more and more, and it's like, ain't it beautiful? Like this is Jesus's words. Like He will one day say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” But I do think that though, that's what Jesus says, we're looking forward to.
What I think we've trained so many, not only Christians, but pastors, is to believe that Jesus won't be saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He'll be saying, “Well articulated good and faithful theologian.” Man, our well articulated theology is only actually good if it becomes well done practice. And I think we can, can grow enough for sure.
Shelby: What Rechab is talking about has seriously been one of the greatest challenges of my life. I have been working super hard in my life to get to the well-articulated good and faithful theologian, as opposed to well done, good and faithful servant, and that scares me about me. I need people like Rechab to speak into my life and tell me about the areas that need to change in me. I loved having Rechab on the show. He is amazing.
Now one of my heroes, I didn't say this to her when I had her on, but one of my heroes is Rebecca McLaughlin. Rebecca is an incredible communicator and she's a very gifted author as well. She's written several books about theology and apologetics and even sexuality. She is someone who struggles from same sex attraction, but she doesn't just stay in that lane. She talks about a Christian perspective on a whole lot of things like human rights, equality, immigration, race, science even, love, marriage, sex and kind of like what I mentioned before, LGBTQ topics.
So when I spoke with her, there was so much good stuff that she talked about. We ended up making it into two episodes. But one of the, one of the things that she said that was one of my favorites was she unpacked a little bit the story of Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, and then she connected it to telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Then she kind of explained to me why both of those stories were way more radical than you'd think.
Rebecca: Now, you and I were not raised to hate the Samaritans, but Jews of Jesus', time and place were. So when he tells stories about a Samaritan man loving a Jewish man who's been left abandoned by the side of the road in his, you know, most famous parable of the Good Samaritan. We hear that as a story about loving the stranger who has nothing to do with us, who's left in need, and it is, but it's actually also a story of love across racial, cultural, ethnic, even religious differences.
When he talks to the Samaritan women at the, well, it's hard for us to understand quite how many different boundaries Jesus is trampling all over--
Shelby: Yes, there's a bunch of them.
Rebecca: --in that conversation. It's the longest private, recorded conversation Jesus has with anyone in all of the gospels, and it's with this Samaritan woman, probably of ill repute, although that's in some ways debatable. So we see in Jesus's life on earth as He walks around this crushing of multiple different racial and cultural barriers.
Shelby: Rebecca is so good at being able to pinpoint biblical truths and then have those biblical truths stare you right in the face and say, “You have to change.” She's really, really good at that. I love that.
One of the things she talked about are not just relational things. She talked about the ever controversial topic of, are science and faith incompatible with each other? Check this one out.
Rebecca: I think one of the mistakes that both Christians actually and non-Christians have often made when it comes to thinking about science and the kinds of questions it can and can't answer, is to think, “Okay, if there's a gap in this, in our scientific understanding of something within the sphere of science, then that's where God sort of steps in.”
That massively undervalues God's role, because if there is a God who made the universe and every human being in it. He's in charge of the whole show. It's not just those moments that we haven't quote, kind of explained by science, and by the same token, the more we understand from science, the more we understand of God's incredible creative process actually. It's not taking away from God and his extraordinary role as Creator. If we understand more and more of the means that He used to create and what that creation looks like.
Shelby: She's incredibly brilliant. She's very gifted as a communicator. She's also super funny and she loves Harry Potter. She's Rebecca McLaughlin and she was one of my favorite guests on Real Life Loading.
Another guest who ended up saying some very provocative things is Brant Hansen. Brant talked specifically about anger and forgiveness. I know as someone who struggled with anger myself, I really needed to hear what Brant had to say. Brant is a radio host and an author, and he did a fantastic job of unpacking why we should learn to forgive and let go of our anger even if we think it's justified or quote unquote righteous anger.
Brant: We've all grown up with this idea that humans have righteous anger and unrighteous anger, and we should keep the good stuff, stay angry about that, and then get rid of the bad stuff that's not righteous. Well, that's not, that's actually not biblical.
It's counterintuitive. It's shocking, but it's actually one of the most freeing things. Then you begin to understand what forgiveness really looks like. What the Jesus style of living really looks like, and it forces you into discipleship, and it's actually a beautiful thing. It makes your life go better.
Also, if you think forgiveness is hard, try living a life of unforgiveness. It will ruin your relationships. There'll be things that can come up unless you deal with it, the stuff you've gone through, the injustice, the trauma, stuff like that. But, if you don't want to forgive somebody, that's totally understandable, I understand the human instincts. But if you don't, that person gets to occupy a space in your head where you are staying in that relationship forever.
Like in the physiological consequences of anger, it'll kill you. It's responsible for weight gain, skin changes, insulin issues, anomalies, cortisol, adrenaline, heart issues - anger kills you. And all you have to do is study the, the physiological effects of it to see once again that Jesus is genius when He's telling us to get rid of it.
Shelby: I love literally everything that Brant Hansen just said. It's just so incredible and very, very deeply convicting for me personally. If you think forgiveness is hard, try living a life of unforgiveness. That cut me so deeply, because in the episode I ended up telling him about my struggles, specifically with forgiving my, my biological father. And I told him the story of how that happened when I finally did. But living a life so long of unforgiveness, it just ends up destroying you, not only on the inside, emotionally and spiritually. It affects your physical body as well. Brant was super challenging, and I loved having him on Real Life Loading.
Okay, so one of the important things that I wanted to do on Real Life Loading was not just talk about younger people, but actually talk to younger people. And one of my favorite younger people in the world is Feli Velez. Feli is a college student in Buffalo, New York, who was a part of the Ocean City, Maryland summer mission that I ran for
for 10 years. When she told me her story, her personal story, I had to have her on to talk about it.
Feli: The first like day or two of me scrolling through TikTok, I just like randomly got a Christian content creator and I considered myself Christian. They were talking about Jesus. I loved Jesus. And I was like, I liked it.
And I couldn't have liked more than a couple videos before my entire algorithm changed. And now it wasn't. It wasn't Charli Damelio and like all these dance routines I was trying to learn, like literally a couple days ago, it was just Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
So much about Jesus, and almost every single content creator that I came across was a high schooler or like my age. They were like kids. They're, and I'm like, what is so different? Because I say that I'm a Christian, I say that I love Jesus, but these people are like radically changed to the point where they're on this social media platform as kids sharing their faith with people and telling people it's important.
So I started asking myself hard questions like, “Do I really know Jesus? Like, am I really saved, and what is going on here?” So it started to click. Like I started to understand for the first time that I was loved by God and that He was a gracious God. And like I said, I grew up in the church and I heard these terms before, but it was just like in passing type statement, like, “You're loved by Jesus.” I'm just like, this guy loves everybody. Like what about it?
It was personal now. It really meant something to me that there was a God who loved me so much in all my nastiness and all my sin and in all of my faults that everybody else would just bail on me for. Like, He loved me so much that He came up with a plan to reconcile our relationship that I separated us from. It was beautiful because I didn't need to be, do, or say anything to merit that type of favor. Like it was simply on His grace and His love for me.
Shelby: Yes, you're right. Were you like did TikTok lead that girl? Did Jesus?
Yes, Tiktok helped Feli break her addiction to weed and then come to Jesus during a covid quarantine at her college. Don't tell me God can't do whatever He wants to because He can. He could bring people to Himself under the most crazy circumstances, and He did that with Feli. I loved having a conversation with her on Real Life Loading, and guess what? I am going to have Feli Velez back again.
A longtime friend of mine named Ben Bennett was someone who was in Campus Ministry the same time I was in the general same area, but he ended up leaving the Campus Ministry to go and work for Josh McDowell to talk about a lot of things that people deal with today, and that's specifically mental health.
Ben is really good at talking about this kind of stuff, because he's dealt with it personally himself, and he gave some comforting words to anyone who might be struggling with poor mental health. Listen to this.
Ben: It's normal to struggle with your mental health, and we're all going to struggle. And it doesn't mean you lack faith. It doesn't mean you're weak. It means you're human and live in a fallen world. And so, realizing that and realizing that some of the holiest or seemingly most godliest people in Scripture struggle with their mental health. Job was called an upright and blameless man and yet he got to this point he was so traumatized and such full of grief and I would say depression and suicidal thoughts. He's like, “Why was I even ever born?”
Ben: There's so many more examples, like David and the Psalms and whatnot. But one realizes it's normal - 70% of teens say anxiety and depression is a major issue amongst their peers. From 2019 to 2021 the number of adults in America struggling or who reported symptoms of anxiety and depression went up from 11% to 41% - like this is such a normal part of life.
Shelby: Ben again, is not just someone who looks at it from the outside in. He is someone who has personally struggled with mental health issues from depression and suicide, from overanalyzing things, PTSD, you know, OCD. He's gone through all of these things and seen Jesus work in his life. Doesn't mean his struggle is gone, but he talked about specifically at one point how your thought patterns affect your mental health.
Ben: Most of our daily battles are fought and won in our minds. Because if you think about it, the way we think dictates what we do. If we go into work or go to school and you're just like beating yourself up and believing that you suck at life, and that you're a worthless human rather than know Genesis 1:27: You're made in the image of God. You are valuable. You're not a plant, you're not an animal. You have the ability to create. You have dignity. You have worth and how much more as a Christian who's been adopted 1 John 3:1, a love child of God, a daughter, a son, if you have that mindset going into your day. It doesn't mean you're going to manifest something or change that, that's not biblical, but it does mean that you're going to act accordingly to how you see yourself, to how you see God, to how you see other people.
Shelby: The way we think affects what happens in our life. It's just true. I mean, you know this. I know this. And we need people like Ben to help us see the truth about what's actually going on inside of our heads, inside of our minds, inside of our spirit as a result of that, and then direct that - point that in the proper direction to help us see that the gospel is the answer to our problems. Ben does that in a loving and kind way. I love my boy, Ben Bennett.
Derwin Gray is the founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church. That's a multicultural, multi-generational, mission shaped church in South Carolina. He was also in the NFL, which is super cool. He played for the Colts and the Carolina Panthers. But he speaks very strongly and very clearly about certain subjects that hit hard with where we're at. And one of those things is happiness. Like how do we find happiness and who doesn't want to be happy? Right? Well, when I asked him about it, he said that you've been lied to about what can truly make you happy.
Derwin: If I can say anything to Gen Z that's listening, and this is really, really important. First thing is I want to apologize on behalf of US Gen Xers. We basically told you a lie, and the lie was this, the bigger house will make you happy, more money will make you happy, vacations will make you happy. Now, don't get me wrong, those things bring fleeting moments of joy. Like those are good things, but they're not ultimate things. So, we've almost like presented you with false hope that you're not going to go through hard things and it's a lie.
Here's the truth, John 16:33 says this, “Jesus said, in this world you will have trouble, but take courage for I have overcome the world.” So, you don't have to pursue the American dream. Blow a marriage before you go. I get it now. You actually can get it now and live a beautiful, beautiful, good life.
Shelby: Yes, asking that question, what is the good life is what Derwin addressed in our time together in one episode. And he was so good. In that episode, I had to have him back to talk about the subject of race. He wrote a book called How to Heal Our Racial Divide, and I was like, okay, you gotta tell me about it. So I asked Derwin, what we as Christians can do to help change both individual and systemic racism. And this is what he said.
Derwin: First thing is you change before you try to. You can't give away what you don't possess. Allow God to form you into a disciple that sees ethnic reconciliation as a mission. So that's number one.
Number two, the way we change systemic racism is by going into those systems and being a means of change, understanding we're never going to create utopia. Sometimes I feel like young Christians think, well the way we change is through liberal progressive politics. So what I would say, “is be a worshipper of the lamb, not the donkey and the elephant and prophetically live and create a world where injustice becomes a rumor of what used to be.”
Ben: And so be the change that you want to see. Become a part, like ask your pastor, why is our church not diverse? Here's Derwin's book. Read it. I want to reflect the kingdom if they want. Then go find a multiethnic church to join and then go into the world. And you be the one who brings about justice.
Shelby: Yes, I totally agree with that, you know, personal change. Personal transformation always leads to corporate change, like bigger change with a number of different people.
When he was talking about the lamb and the donkey and the elephant there, he was talking about be loyal to the lamb, meaning Jesus, not the donkey, meaning the Democratic Party or the elephant, which is the Republican Party. I love how he phrased that - super helpful, very, very practical advice, but also very Jesus gospel focused. I loved talking to Derwin Gray.
Dani Treweek is probably one of the most interesting interviews, because she talked about a subject that a lot of people in the Christian Church just get totally wrong. I think that we've done a bad job of caring for a very specific group of people, and that is singles. Singles are the kind of people that the church just really has no idea what to do with them. Dani is someone who is speaking into that in a very caring way, but also in a very straightforward way. So I asked her a number of different questions about being single, but I also wanted to know about how to have a healthy perspective on singleness through the lens of Scripture. So we talked about that healthy perspective while at the same time grieving your singleness.
Dani: I'm not single because I've somehow thwarted, you know, God's plans for me. I've made a wrong decision, which has meant that I've kind of ended up with the second best. I am where I am in life because this is where God has actually determined in His good sovereignty for me to be. And He works, you know, God works for the good of those who love Him. Which means I even in the midst of my grief, and I think there is genuine and right grief that we feel as singles, I have to keep trusting God. I have to keep trusting that He’s all powerful and that He's always good.
Shelby: Dani is not only someone who's in her forties and single, but also someone who's written like a really amazing book about singleness, and she studied it for a long time. She even joked about having a PhD in singleness. She's not speaking as someone who's on the outside. She's going through it herself, and as we talked, I really appreciated how gospel focused she was in terms of how, when we think about eternity, that can impact our view of singleness in the right here and now. Listen to what she said about this.
Dani: Jesus doesn't say We'll all be single in heaven. I mean the word single's just not in Scripture anywhere. It wasn't invented until like, you know, the 1500s. But Jesus does say, we won't be married in heaven. There won't be husbands and wives in eternity. There will be one husband and one wife. The groom, Jesus, and his church together as the collective bride of Christ. We will be married to Him, but individually to each other. We won't be married to each other. You won't be a husband. I won't be a wife. Instead, we will be brother and sister to each other for eternity.
And so if we think, hang on, this is actually going to be our relationship with each other forever and it's going to be perfect. We're not going to be lacking anything in that. Then I think that actually confronts us to rethink how we think about singleness now, about not being a husband or a wife now, about only being brother and sister to other Christians now. It gives it a certain dignity and value and purpose in actually pointing us towards that future, which we're all waiting for.
Shelby: I love talking to Dani about these things. In fact, it inspired me to do a couple extra episodes where I was able to talk with younger singles about their experience and what they've gone through recently by being just out of college and experiencing singleness. Maybe some of them a little bit longer than they wanted to, but Dani was the person who made me think about, we've got to talk about this more because people are just ignoring it. I loved my time with Dani Treweek.
And last but certainly not least, I was able to talk with my mentor and one of my best friends, author, pastor, and speaker Paul David Tripp. We talked about a number of different things when I had him on Real Life Loading - lots of stuff about life with God, including, you know, things like deconstruction, Bible reading, the purpose of your life, God's love, God's strength being made perfect in our weaknesses, identity, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Well, I wanted to talk to him specifically about deconstruction because he's had a lot of these conversations with people. Check out what he said.
Paul: Can I talk about the other side of deconstruction?
Shelby: Yes, please do.
Paul: I think there's a way that I should always be deconstructing my faith, but here's what I mean by that.
Shelby: Yes, unpack that.
Paul: I think that I ought to always be humble enough to revisit my system of belief to see if there are personal and cultural corruptions in there. If things have been pulled into my faith that are more American culture than Christianity, or more personal preference than Christianity, or more political than Christianity, I should be humble enough to say, “I have to look for what I need to ferret out of this system of belief I'm doing.” I think that's a very positive, humble, God-honoring form of deconstruction.
Shelby: I love how he took it and flipped it on its head, because most people would say, yes, deconstruction is wrong. But he wasn't talking about breaking down the faith specifically. He's talking about pulling out the negative Christian culture stuff that's maybe woven itself into our faith, and we've forgotten the difference between Christian culture and actually what the Bible talks about.
Paul is a genius, frankly, at that kind of stuff. He's also very practical about helping me, at least to understand why God's love is so amazing. So I asked him about that.
Paul: Isn't it true that there are two questions that haunt every human being? The first question is, “Will somebody love me? Will I be loved?” Everybody cries out for that. But the second question is even more terrifying, “Once they know me, will they still love me?”
In Romans 8 [vs. 38-39], you get this big, huge crescendo. It's like the music really blaring now and the drums rolling, and it says that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. What is being said there is a resounding yes to both questions. There's somebody who will love you with the best love ever, and He won't stop loving you because He knows you.
Shelby: So this was kind of a conglomeration of the best things that I think impacted me the most over this last year, and this is just the beginning. One year down. Several more to go, Lord willing.
If you liked this episode of Real Life Loading or thought it was helpful, I'd love for you to share today's anniversary episode with a friend and wherever you get your podcast.
It could really advance what we're doing with Real Life Loading. If you go ahead and rate and review us. It's undeniably easy to find us on our social channels, just search for Real Life Loading or look for our link tree in the show notes.
I want to thank everyone who's on the Real Life Loading team they have made this year possible, Bruce, Josh, Kaytlynn. Jarrett, and Chloe.
I'm your host, Shelby Abbott, and I'll see you back next time on Real Life Loading…
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