The Harvard College debate team lost to students at Bard College (who?). These students at Bard College were also in prison for manslaughter, part of a distance-learning initiative. Oh, and they had limited access to the Internet to prepare. This wasn’t a fluke, either. The Bard prisoner team also beat a nationally ranked team from the University of Vermont and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Harvard was graceful: “There are few teams we are prouder of having lost a debate to than the phenomenally intelligent and articulate team” at Bard (though I suspect kids at Harvard don’t like to lose anything). Bard has three hundred New York inmates enrolled, and only 2% return to jail after being released, versus the 68% who return to jail nationwide. Sometimes, we can become discouraged when we watch preachers or read books that seem so far beyond us in knowledge. We can stop feeding ourselves with God’s Word or praying, “because so-and-so feeds me much better than I can feed myself.” But here’s the point: if a group of inmates attending a no-name college with very little Internet access can beat the Harvard debate team, what excuse could we possibly have for not rising to the challenge and applying ourselves to knowing Jesus? There are smarter, wiser, more spiritual people than all of us; so what? Study/pray/grow for yourself. No preacher or teacher can do it for you.

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