Proclaimers of the Divine Word

We have the liturgical practice of beginning our weekly Upper School faculty meeting with something praiseworthy: for example, last year teachers shared examples of virtue and godly character they saw in the lives of their students, and this year teachers are sharing something for which they are grateful.

During this time, teachers have mentioned all kinds of things for which they are grateful: to be part of a community of learners, to have students who love what is good, and to be in a school where they can freely point their students towards the all-satisfying love of Jesus, to name a few.

One of my favorite moments of gratitude came earlier this semester, when one of our female teachers shared that students had written notes in the bathroom stalls. Having been in my share of bathroom stalls, I know the notes written there aren’t typically the sort that inspire the gratitude of teachers. Or administrators.IMG_1621

With more than a little trepidation, I asked for more information.

A group of students, of their own accord and on their own time, had taken it upon themselves to post Bible verses, written in their best cursive script and decorated beautifully, all around the Upper School hallways, including in the bathroom stalls. The students picked encouraging verses about overcoming trials, finding hope in every situation, and relying on God’s strength and not their own. When I asked one of the students who led the initiative, she said, “We wanted to do it to build unity in the entire school by encouraging one another.  We really tried to focus on students outside of our own friend group and classes.” When I asked why they chose Bible verses instead of other inspirational quotes, both girls looked at me like I had lost my mind and answered emphatically, “It’s the Word of God!”

IMG_1620In his seminal work on Christian community, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “[T]he Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged…. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation.” Our school is a Christian community, and as such we want to constantly speak God’s Word to each other. In an era in which teenage depression and suicide are spiraling out of control, it is increasingly important that the habit is cultivated in our teens of proclaiming to their friends God as revealed in His Word as the ultimate source of all Truth and hope.

As Bonhoeffer said, the proclamation of God’s Word is a powerful source of hope and encouragement. May Ambrose be a school where His Word is proclaimed in all places and at all times.

Even in the bathroom stalls.

Soul Formation

Night 2 of the retreat. Students are simultaneously exhausted and euphoric: they’ve had too much sun and too little hydration; they’ve played too hard and stayed up too late; and they’re far from home at a mountain lodge, sitting under a starry night listening to the best storyteller on our staff masterfully spin his tales.

All the above is pretty normal at our annual House retreat, but this year, something new happened. Student leaders approached Mr. Tucker and Mrs. Francis, our House governors, and asked if they could hold a voluntary, additional chapel service for interested students on the last night of the retreat. Mr. Tucker asked my permission, which I granted, fully expecting the elective chapel service to be poorly attended for all the reasons listed above.

Boy, was I wrong.  (Lord, help my unbelief!)

Forty students ranging from 7thgraders to seniors gathered in the chapel and sang worship songs together and prayed for one another, their families, their friends, their teachers, and the coming school year.  Mr. Tucker felt led to exhort the students in a particular way, encouraging any student in the crowd who might be on the fence about their faith or might be a cultural Christian, someone going through the motions just because their family or friends were Christians. Mr. Tucker encouraged students to seek God because He is good and all-satisfying.

Mr. Tucker’s exhortation struck a chord and students responded in a powerful way. Students felt a new freedom to seek God, and many were transformed as a result. For example, one student leader was praying for some students she had been mentoring; afterwards, as she was on her way out of the chapel, she saw her younger brother, who had attended the chapel without her knowledge, sitting by himself in the back. As she approached him, she noticed something was moving in him.

When this older sister, who had been praying for her little brother for years, sat down next to him to give him a hug, he unexpectedly burst into tears.

IMG_1517“My whole life I have believed in Jesus,” the younger brother said. “But now I feel God’s love in a new way.”

“That’s the Gospel!” his sister replied. “Jesus loves us perfectly, and when we accept it, it changes us!” The older sister and her brother prayed together, and the two were bound together in Christ, a hundred miles from home or church or school. However, the changes didn’t stay a hundred miles away; according to the pair’s mom, the younger brother has been transformed. While still a teenage boy, he is a new kid at home and at school, full of joy and sincerely following after Jesus daily.

This is just one of many treasured moments that made retreat this year our best yet (full disclaimer: my daughter tells me I say that every year, and she’s rarely ever wrong when it comes to her memory.)

All joking aside, this story of a teenage girl and her little brother is a great illustration of something unique about classical Christian schools like ours. As a classical Christian school, our primary goal is the formation of the soul; everything else – literary analysis, the quadratic formula, Newton’s laws, etc. – is secondary to this. If our students leave here able to argue articulately and persuasively, of if they can isolate a variable or balance a chemical equation, that’s great; but education can and should be so much more. It is our goal that students will leave Ambrose having encountered the Living God Who alone satisfies and gives life purpose, that our students will love the things that God loves and they will influence the world around them for Christ as a result, and that they will see God working in their own lives and cling to His promises no matter what trials life might throw at them.

That is soul formation.

Great Conversations

It is a conversation I feel like I’ve had a thousand times: a junior high boy is sent to my office for doing something inappropriate in class, and I get to help them figure out where they went wrong.  Our conversation typically goes like this:

Me: “Why did Mr. Tucker send you to see me?”

Jr. High Boy: “I sprayed Sam with my water bottle.”

Me: “You did? Why would you do that? Was it Waterfight Wednesday in Mr. Tucker’s class?”

Jr. High Boy: “No. I guess I wasn’t thinking….”

Me: “That may be the case, but let’s look deeper: how’d the rest of your class react when you sprayed Sam with your water bottle?”

Jr. High Boy (usually grinning): “They laughed. They thought it was pretty funny….”

Me (trying to pretend I’ve come upon some new wonderful insight… remember I’ve had this conversation a thousand times): “Ah…. They laughed. They thought it was pretty funny….”

Jr. High Boy (sheepishly silent): “….”

Me: “Do you suppose THAT might be why you sprayed Sam with your water bottle?  To make your buddies laugh? To make them think you were pretty funny?”

(I like to mix in air quotes here on laugh and pretty funny, just to emphasize my point. It works wonders.)

Jr. High Boy: “Yea. Now that I think about it, I guess I did.”

Me: “What’s wrong with that?”

Jr. High Boy: “It’s selfish. I’m taking the class’s attention from Mr. Tucker and focusing on myself.”

At this profound discovery, I usually take over and explain that people who find themselves in trouble invariably do so because of this same problem: without exception, people are innately selfish. Our natural inclination is to do what we want to do. It is why the Apostle Paul used such strong language as “dying to self daily” and “crucify[ing] the flesh.”  I walk the students through the confession/repentance/forgiveness/restoration process and send them back to class to see Mr. Tucker.

This is where the conversation usually ends. But not always.

I had a 7thgrade boy in my office a few weeks back and had this very same talk with him. The next day I was in the Providence Room, sitting at a bistro table after school, when the student came walking in.

Jr. High Boy: “Mr. Browne, can I talk to you for a minute.”

Before waiting for an answer, he took up his place on the stool across from me.

Me: “Sure.  Have a seat.” I directed him towards the stool he was already sitting in.

Jr. High Boy: “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said yesterday about selfishness being the cause of all sin. I think you’re right, but I mentioned it to some of my friends, and we got into a really good discussion about it.  A few of them thought that pride was the root of evil, and they made some really good points.”

(Pause and imagine that for a moment: a group of 13 year-old boys – not mindlessly huddled around screens playing Fortnite until their eyes bleed – but instead enjoying one another’s fellowship in deep discussion over a meaningful topic; this – more than dry textbooks, menial worksheets, or Scantron bubble forms – is education.)

Great ConversationsThe 7thgrade boy and I then spent half an hour in deep conversation kicking the ideas around and talking about Bible verses and orthodox doctrines that would make sense of their discussion. He thanked me for my time and went away.

Proverbs 10: 11 and 13 read in part: “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life…” and “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding….” Both of these verses speak to something that exists at the core of our school in particular and classical Christian education in general:  deep and meaningful conversation.  It is so often by engaging ideas with others and talking through them that God leads us to truth. A group of junior high boys in the corner of a classroom discussing the root cause of sin isn’t a rare occurrence at our school. Our teachers will tell you that the highest and best moments they have in teaching involve conversations like this with our students.

Grab a friend or two and let your mouth be “a well of life” to them, and vice versa; alternatively, you could hang out in the Providence Room and wait for a group of students to wander in and join them in their great conversation. You will thank me later.

A Grateful Heart

I’ve worked with teens virtually my entire adult life, and I’ve come to recognize a small handful of situations that are ripe for disaster: a group of boys left unsupervised nearly anywhere, but especially in a gym with a ball; a group of girls at the Village with a credit card; and a mixed gender group asked to be a little vulnerable.

You can imagine my apprehension then when during a chapel service at the 4thannual Monastic Conventiculum, or “MonCon” as it is popularly known, the chaplain opened the service to students to express to God openly something they are thankful for.  The Rev. Dr. Davies Owens – or “Father Owens” as he is called on this one, special night – talked briefly on the importance of thanksgiving and gratitude in the Christian’s heart and asked students, one by one, to profess aloud the things they are thankful for.

I cringed. 52 sweaty 8thgraders, freshly returned from playing games out on the field, sat in the sun-soaked, makeshift “chapel” in the school foyer. It was Friday night: surely their minds were a million miles away on Fortnite battles and missed text messages and weekend plans. Would even one dare to put themself out there and vocalize a feeling of gratitude?

I waited.  “Father Owens” waited. Mrs. Francis, Mrs. Westom, and Mr. Moore waited. Silence reigned supreme.IMG_1390

And then someone took a step of faith:

“Lord, I am thankful for my teachers, who work so hard for me.”

(This is good, I thought. Maybe 3 or 4 other students will join in….)

A slight pause, and then another:

“God, I am grateful for my parents, who love me and sacrifice so much for me.”

Another. And another.

“Dear Lord, I am thankful for this class of friends, who love me and are always there to encourage me.”

“God, I am thankful for trials, that test me and help me to grow.”

“Dear Lord Jesus, I am grateful for Your work on the Cross that has delivered me from sin and death.”

“Lord, I am thankful for this school, where we get to learn about You and Your Word.”

5 minutes passed. 10 minutes passed. 15 minutes passed. On and on it went. For a full 20 minutes, 13 year-old students, one immediately after another, made public expressions of gratitude to God in a room full of their peers.

And then the kicker came. A student who recently lost someone very dear to him said: “Dear Lord, I am grateful for death. Even though I may not understand it, I know it is all part of Your perfect plan.”

Even Mr. Moore, stoic as he is, was more than a little misty-eyed.

MonCon 2018Psalm 107:1 reads: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy….” I hear a lot in the national discourse about young people suffering from narcissism and an entitlement mentality that has even made its way into the hard-working world of professional sports. There seems to be an epidemic of ungratefulness. I admit that I am horribly biased, but I don’t have the same sense of impending doom when I interact with our students. They seem different.

If you don’t believe me, join me next year at this time for MonCon. Where else in the valley will you find junior high kids joyfully sacrificing a Friday night away from text messages and Fortnite battles to sit in a quiet chapel service and express gratitude to God for things ranging from their friends and parents to trials and even death?

Soli Deo Gloria.

Life Together

As a school community, we love structure, habit, and routine. You as parents know better than anyone, when we stray from our routines it can be a burden on families.

For example, in the last few weeks we had an exciting stretch of success on our athletic courts: our girls and boys basketball teams both played in state tournaments in the valley. Events like these are great for building community.

Except for when the games occur during the school day.

Both our games did.

So, we cancelled a class here and there and moved a few things around so our students could attend the games and support our teams. This works great for some families, but not others; if you are working or on the other side of the valley, it can be impossible to get your student to a basketball game at 1:30 in the afternoon.

Such moments are ripe for the grace that is living in Christian community. I received an email after one of the tournament games from a mom, whose daughter is in Jr. High. The email read:

“[My daughter] really wanted to go to the basketball game taking place today.  We talked about it on Monday and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get away from work to take her.  On her own initiative, she reached out to [an older girl student] to see if she would take her…. The fact that [my daughter] felt secure enough to initiate reaching out to [the older student] intrigued me and made me happy; [that she] happily agreed to take her, thoroughly impressed me!  I’m continually amazed and thankful for the unique culture of Ambrose’s upper school – 7th through 12th graders living together in supportive community.  It’s wonderful!  Truly a very special place in which to grow.”Life Together 2

These students are not related. They don’t even have siblings that know one another. The world would see them as a Jr. High kid and a Sr. High kid, whose social spheres could reasonably be expected to be miles apart; however, at our school they are bound together by the close cords of Christian community. The life we have in Christ is more than enough to overcome anything that might separate them.

In his book on Christian community, Life Together, the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of Christian community, “what is an unspeakable gift of God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden under foot by those who have the gift every day…. Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart.” He later called living in Christian community the “roses and lilies” of the Christian life; the adornments that make life rich and sweet.

As Bonhoeffer said – and this mom thankfully reminded me – a K-12 school where we live life together in Christian community “is an unspeakable gift of God.” That gift pours out blessings of many kinds: love and support in tough times; joy and celebration in moments of success; a gentle pick up when we stumble and fall.

And, of course, an occasional ride to a basketball game to cheer on the Archers.

New Creations

Our boys athletics programs have experienced a lot of success, and our girls programs are quickly catching up. That’s why it was widely celebrated in our community when the varsity girls basketball team secured a state tournament birth for the first time in school history.

But just under the surface there were developments that were even more worthy of celebration than a state tournament run. The night our girls won to secure a place in the tournament, our coaches received a text message from a mom of one of the New Creationsplayers, quoted below in part:

“Tonight was 100,000 times more amazing than any single minute… in 12 years [of athletics]… because like you told the girls they could play 110% free tonight because they had Christ and… they could sit on the bench 110% free because they had Christ. It wasn’t about a performance it was for Christ. My heart is so full.”

This mom’s heart was full because she watched her daughter experience in a tangible way this powerful reality: her identity was not tied up in how many points she scored, how many rebounds she had, how many minutes she logged. Win or lose, play or not play, succeed or fail, it didn’t matter; she was secure in Christ, and a peace and joy followed. Her mother’s heart was full.

The dominant and secular culture around us is constantly trying to dictate to our students their identity: athlete, fashionista, beautiful or not, success or failure, etc. One of our Goals of a Graduate is to cultivate in students virtue and mature character; central to mature Christian character is a profound understanding that our identity is secure in the person and unchanging love of Jesus.

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul wrote, “[Christ] died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again…. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” As Christians, those old things that once defined us – success or failure, popular or unpopular, loved or despised, rich or poor – have passed away. We have become new creations and as such the world can no longer impose its identity on us. We are Christ’s, and nothing can separate us from His love.

May our hearts be full!

To Live is Christ

“One thing I know: Jeffrey loves Jesus.”

It was a sad week in the Upper School at The Ambrose School as we said goodbye to one of our own. Jeffrey O’Brien, Graduating Class of 2017, went home to be with Lord.

“One thing I know: Jeffrey loves Jesus.”

Jeffrey is an O’Brien through and through. In an era where the nuclear family is crumbling all around us, Jeffrey is different. He loves his mom and dad and his two Jeffrey O'Brienbrothers, and everyone knows it. They were his most valuable earthly possessions.

“One thing I know: Jeffrey loves Jesus.”

Jeffrey has a megawatt smile. His smile alone can change the mood of any room. He has an infectious laugh, deep and baritone, try as Jeffrey might to muffle it. Jeffrey has great hair; it always looks like it was sculpted out of marble by the careful hands of Bernini. Jeffrey is a great athlete – lacrosse is his sport – and he loves his teammates and coaches.

“One thing I know: Jeffrey loves Jesus.” In the course of the last two days, I have had four different people close to Jeffrey state this same confidence in nearly identical terms. None doubted the veracity of Jeffrey’s faith or the security of his salvation. Jeffrey was attending Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, CA, studying to be a missionary with the hopes of taking the good news of the salvation to be found in Christ alone to the world. When parents ask questions about the spiritual health of our students and their love for God and their neighbor, I could do no better than to point them to Jeffrey.

Let us pause and remember for whom we grieve. It is not for Jeffrey. Jeffrey has entered into glory. We grieve for us – Jeffrey’s family, friends, and classmates – who will be without his megawatt smile and his infectious laugh for only a little while. Our separation from him is only temporary, for this is the great hope that we have in Jesus: we will see Jeffrey again.

In his Epistle to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul, facing the prospect of death himself, wrote, “[I]n nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:20-21.) Jesus was magnified in the way Jeffrey lived his life – his daily choices, his conversation, his conduct, his love for others – and now Jesus is being magnified in Jeffrey’s death as we all reflect on that one statement, said over and over again: ““One thing I know: Jeffrey loves Jesus.” As we process our own loss, let us continue to hold fast to the promises of God: as Jeffrey knew so well, we are redeemed through the saving work of Jesus, and nothing – “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing” – can separate us from His love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We love you, Jeffrey, and we WILL see you again.

In Everything Give Thanks

Working with teens daily can be a challenge. Anyone who has parented a teen for 5 minutes can tell you they have a tendency to be ungrateful. As hard as a parent might work, teens don’t always appreciate things, particularly those things most familiar to them: dinner on the table, rides back and forth to basketball practice, help with their homework, etc. Stop and consider, when was the last time your teen said anything like, “Mom, I really want to thank you for making me breakfast every morning,” or “Dad, thank you for doing such a good job carefully manicuring our yard.” It just doesn’t happen often. (It can be argued that this is common to the human condition, and I fully agree, but the problem can be more acute in teens.)

As such, it can be a rare thing for a teen to express a grateful heart. However, this makes it especially praiseworthy and edifying when a teen does express a gratitude. Imagine my joy then when I saw the following online review from one of our current students, thankfulquoted in full:

“I am currently attending Ambrose as a 10th grader and have been here since kindergarten. Ambrose has been a great environment for me and I really appreciate the school! I see in some of the comments that people have not been pleased at all with the school or with the students, teachers, parents and more, but no school is perfect. Being a Christian school does not automatically mean that all the teachers and students will be perfect. The grass may seem greener on the other side, but being a Christian we have to see our lives now as green and our eternal lives greener, Christianity is not a smooth road which we deserve to walk down, it’s a bumpy road which we have to travel down to get to deserve and appreciate what Jesus Christ has done. The school will have its flaws but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t great things to look for in the school, I know that I have been loved in this school and will always appreciate that. The school has not only helped me grow, but it has helped me to help others grow. Ambrose is great and so much more than just a school.”

At a time when many young people have their noses buried in cheap vampire romance novels or spend their days mindlessly staring at digital devices, this is a beautiful expression of gratitude from a 16 year old. Furthermore, in a culture in which many of her peers have difficulty stringing together two clauses to make a complex sentence, this is an articulate and thoughtful analysis from a student (who, incidentally, is spot on: our school community isn’t perfect and never will be, but we love our students and we love what we do!)

In 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, Paul writes, “always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I don’t think it is a mistake that our ability to do what is good for others is associated with the habits of rejoicing, praying, and, especially, giving thanks. People are by nature egocentric, and by rejoicing in every trial, prayerfully redirecting our attention to God, and giving thanks in everything – even the most common of things – we can step outside of our own world and pursue what is good for others.

In this case, the good of others is a student letting the world know she’s grateful for her school and that she’s felt loved by her teachers… an analysis that is, again, spot on!

Be Content

It was just about the most beautiful fall morning imaginable: leaves were golden all along the river, the dawn was crisp and clear, and an electric anticipation energized our cross country team.

The State Meet had arrived.

Our entire girls team was there, an underdog to bring home a trophy for the first time ever. While I was excited for them, most of my attention was on Blaine, our lone boy runner.

We were all aware of Blaine’s story. A senior, Blaine had prepared for this moment for years. He was well-positioned to challenge for the individual state championship, having a season best time in the top 3 in the state. He had worked tirelessly, pushing himself in practice and meets, all to get to this day.

IMG_2071 3.JPGThere was also a powerful undercurrent of emotion that lay just under the surface for Blaine: Blaine’s mom Karmen, a talented athlete herself who ran cross country in college and competed in the Boston Marathon, had passed away years before when Blaine was only 9. Running is an important connection to his mom, and this made the day of the State Meet even more important to Blaine.

You never would have guessed looking at Blaine as he stood at the starting line, composed and confident. The gun sounded, and the runners were off.

Blaine was fast out of the gate. A cluster of runners quickly separated themselves from the rest of the pack, and Blaine was right in the heart of them.

They made the first loop, and Blaine was right where he wanted to be: drafting behind a few other runners, well within striking distance of 1st for his final kick.IMG_0983.JPG

I hurried over to the last turn, anxious to see Blaine run down the other athletes in the last stretch. I waited anxiously, more excited than I’ve been in years.

And then life threw Blaine a curve.

Runner after runner passed me, and Blaine was nowhere to be seen.

Blaine had fallen down amidst the jostling of runners, and  was outside the top 20. By the time Blaine got to the final turn, raw emotion and disappointment were evident on his face. My heart hurt for him, and I cheered him on before hurrying over to the finish line, hopeful I would get a chance to encourage him.

As He so often does, in that moment of personal trial, God showed me something beautiful.

When I found Blaine, he was sitting on a cooler as our athletic trainer helped him with his timing chip. Another runner had come over to talk to him, and I saw Blaine muster a smile and offer the kid a fistbump. Their conversation went something like this:

Other Runner: “Good race! Today you helped me achieve a life-long goal!”

Blaine: “Oh, congratulations. What was your goal?”

Other Runner: “To beat you!”

Blaine, a fierce competitor, smiled and made some small talk with the other runner before the kid finally wandered off. No one thinks the other runner was trying to be malicious or hurtful, but you can only imagine how Blaine must have felt in the moment.

I kept a close eye on Blaine as he got up and flitted about from group to group, hugging his parents, encouraging his teammates, and fellowshipping with other runners. Never once did he appear sullen or petulant. The graciousness and depth of character Blaine showed that day humbled me.

In Philippians 4, Paul writes, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound…. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As Christian educators and parents, we must not lose sight of this truth: our hope is that our students mature to the place where they can be content in whatever situation they find themselves; that they can, in fact, flourish in any trial through Christ Who is their strength. Our prayer is that they will be able to do just as Blaine did: look one of life’s many disappointments straight in the face, offer it a fistbump, and give God all the glory for it.

You see, more often than not, winning in life means infinitely more than just finishing first.

Overcoming Evil with Good

The Upper School House Retreat is one of those times where I feel like I have to have all hands on deck to make sure things run smoothly: conventional wisdom says that with 200 teenagers at a camp in the mountains, someone is bound to misbehave. So the Upper School faculty does all the same things other camp staffers do: we have an assigned time for ‘lights out,’ we do bed checks, we sweep the grounds at night, etc.

Last week on the final night of retreat, Mr. Hosier and I were doing our obligatory 11:30 p.m. sweep of the camp. We were walking along a sidewalk when, no sooner had I made a joke about how we never find mischief on these walks, we saw a pair of shadowy figures go sprinting across the sidewalk in front of us, headed towards the chapel.

I thought to myself, “Finally, something really scandalous to merit these late night walks of ours!” Mr. Hosier, as is his wont, was right on top of it.

“Hey,” he yelled out. “Where are you two going?”

The shadowy figures stopped and saw us approaching. Mr. Hosier repeated, “Where do you guys think you’re going?”

The sound of a freshman girl replied, “I left my Bible out here last night and it got really wet. After dinner, I saw a few more Bibles out here, and I just remembered them. I didn’t want them to get ruined by the sprinklers, so we came out to pick them up.”

Sure enough, two freshman girls, with their arms loaded down with five Bibles each, appeared from out of the shadows. They had risked life and limb – or at least invoking Mr. Hosier’s wrath – to save an armful of Bibles that weren’t even theirs from the sprinklers. We thanked them for looking out for their friends and sent them on their way.

Romans 12:21 reads, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is a great example of a couple of teenage girls doing just that: not only were they not out and about doing something inappropriate – something evil – but they were instead out doing something honorable, and thereby overcoming evil with good.

So much for my scandal.