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When Love Becomes a Problem

The United States does not always come in first place. A few years ago, UNICEF surveyed twenty-one of the most developed nations and measured how youth related to other youth, spent time with parents, used alcohol and/or drugs, and perceived their own happiness. Tight-knit nations—like Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland—ranked the highest when it came to young people feeling secure and happy. The U.S. came in next to last, with the United Kingdom at the bottom of the list. UNICEF’S operating thesis was that “stable, supportive family and social relationships are far more important to kids’ well being than how much expensive junk they have piled up in their rooms.”William Falk of The Week magazine editorialized on these findings:It would be comforting to shrug off the report as pure anti-American bunkum. But as the parent of a teen and a tween, I cannot. I’ve seen firsthand the emptiness that haunts so many middle-class kids. From an early age, they are taught that life is a…
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Where the True Light Shines

During the years we lived in the mountains of Virginia, in a very remote, small community, I found that the hardest months for me to handle were January and February because of the cold and the snow. But even harder to handle were the dark, grey days, especially for a boy who grew up in Southern California.Even for those who have not grown up in a sunny climate, overcast days are hard to handle. Why is that? It’s because we all need sunshine. Sunlight gives us the Vitamin D we need that lifts our spirits.What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual. We need the light of God. The question is: where do we find it? John tells us where in this next section of his letter. Listen for God’s word to you from 1 John 2:7-14….Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing…

The Marks of a Christian

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:1-6)What John says here suggests to me that there are at least three marks of a Christian. John is a realist. He recognizes Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. Thus, he also recognizes that Christians are not complete. In this life, we are always in process. Therefore, as we look at the marks of the Christian life we must always remember that these marks are signs that ar…