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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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    • Breaking: Family With Young Children Manages To Stay Healthy For Full Day

      OPELIKA, AL—In a shocking development, every single member of the Stevens family managed to stay healthy for a full 24 hours, despite the family's four children constantly bringing germs, illness, and as-of-yet undiscovered diseases into the home, sources confirmed Tuesday. The post Breaking: Family With Young Children Manages To Stay Healthy For Full Day appeared first on The Babylon Bee. View the original full article

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    • How to Teach Your Teen to Study the Bible

      Parents contact me frequently to ask what devotionals or young adult Bible studies I would recommend they do with their teens. As our kids enter the teen years, our responsibility as parents is to help them develop good habits of interacting with the Bible. Finding an approach that is age-appropriate and manageable is key. My encouragement is to simply read the Bible with your teen in a way that models and trains Bible literacy—no special teen resource required. Your teen will be exposed to devotional content and topical studies at every turn, and they likely don’t need a resource targeted specifically at their demographic. Most teens are missing basic tools to help them read and learn the Bible on their own. By guiding them in some basic study methods, you can position them to use devotional and topical material with far better discernment and far greater benefit, as those types of resources assume a firsthand knowledge of the Bible many teens have not yet developed. Here is a simple approach that you can adapt to fit the age of your teen. 1. Pick a book of the Bible to read and discuss together. If you have never studied together, start with a shorter book like Jonah or James. If at all possible, tackle longer books like Genesis or Hebrews while you still have the opportunity to guide and shape their study method. The goal is to give your teen exposure to the value of studying an entire book from start to finish, as opposed to only studying topically or devotionally. If your church is doing a sermon series through an entire book of the Bible, you could align your discussions with the preaching schedule to add another layer to what you’re learning. 2. Get a copy of your selected book of the Bible that has room for taking notes. You can create this by copying one chapter at a time from Bible Gateway into a document. Set the margins to wide and the spacing to 1.5 so you have room to write. Or, you can purchase these great ESV Scripture Journals if you want something ready-made, usable, and attractive. Get a copy for you and for your child. 3. Set a schedule to meet once a week for a 30-minute discussion. Use a reading plan to help you break the text into readable increments. Most reading plans are set up for daily reading through the entire Bible over a specific period of time. Simply adapt the daily portions into weekly ones for the book of your choosing. For example, this ESV reading plan covers the book of James in eight days, but you could cover it in eight weeks using the same text divisions. Create a schedule for your discussion times that notes dates and passages to be discussed. A schedule for James might look like this: Week Discuss: 1 Intro questions 2 James 1 3 James 2:1–13 4 James 2:14–26 5 James 3:1–12 6 James 3:13–18 7 James 4:1–10 8 James 4:11–5:12 9 James 5:13–20   4. Get a bird’s-eye view. 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Write a one- to two-sentence summary of what you read. Find one attribute of God that the passage is teaching. (Here is a list of attributes that can help your teen practice reading the Bible with a Godward focus.) Write two things you observe in the margin. Write two questions you have about what you’ve read. 6. Meet to discuss. Go over what each of you has noted in your copy of the text during your personal study time. Compare your answers, observations, and questions. Look for answers to your questions in an accessible commentary or study Bible. You could also track down answers after you meet together and discuss them the following week. Then, explore the following questions together: How does this passage fit into the book as a whole? How does it flow from the previous section of the text? How does this passage minister to its original audience? How does it minister to us today? Is there a sin to confess? Is there cause for thanksgiving or praise to God? Is there a promise or truth to trust in? Is there an attitude to change or a motive to examine? Is there a command to obey or an example to imitate? Is there an error to confront or avoid? (Note that you have a rich opportunity to practice and model vulnerability with your teen in these questions.) 7. Pray together. Finally, ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply what you have learned. The teen years are pivotal discipleship years for our kids. In these years they feel a restlessness to enter into mature adulthood but often an accompanying lack of clarity about how to do so. Give them adult-sized tools for navigating their Bibles, and help them learn how to use them. Encourage them to use devotional and topical materials as supplements to, but not substitutes for, direct study of the Bible itself. Model good habits of Bible reading. And most of all, savor the shared learning that results when a parent and a teen sit down to open the Word together. View the full article

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    • What the ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ Says About Young Adults in Your Church

      The quarter-life crisis (QLC). If you’ve not come across this increasingly popular phrase, it’s time that you did. It’s a phenomenon that can strike any time in your 20s or early 30s—the dawning realization that you’ve reached the age by which you assumed you would have it all figured out, only to find that you don’t. The QLC creeps up around birthdays and New Year’s Day, and rears its head any time you see on social media that someone you went to school with has gotten engaged, gained a promotion, or simply had the audacity to look happy in a photo. It’s the uneasy realization that comes when you take stock of everything around you—the people, the places, the relentless routines of work and washing dishes—and wonder, Is this it? The networking website LinkedIn found that 75 percent of 25- to 33-year-olds report having a quarter-life crisis. I’m one of them. Beyond the Stereotype When I first pitched a Christian book on the quarter-life crisis, the idea was met with bemusement. I was in a room full of older people with bigger problems. What could I possibly have to complain about by comparison? The QLC phenomenon seems to feed into a wider cultural stereotype about miserable millennials who moan their lot and refuse to grow up. It’s a stereotype common in Christian culture, too. You might be reading this as a bemused older person who thinks millennials having some supposed “crisis” are overreacting. And we might be. But don’t dismiss the phenomenon out of hand. At least, it tells you some helpful things about what the 20-somethings in your church are feeling, what discipleship challenges they’re facing, and how the church can help. They Feel Rootless For a host of economic and social reasons, rates of homeownership among this generation are at a record low. The combination of renting and rising mobility leads many 20-somethings to feel unmoored. In the five years since I graduated, I’ve lived in five different houses with a revolving cast of roommates. This isn’t particularly unusual. But even as 20-somethings long for the permanency of home, many of us harbor an equal fear of settling down. Millennials in your church need help to see that home is where God’s people are—the household of faith—and that this is a community worth committing to. They need help to see that to follow Jesus is to follow the one who “had no place to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20)—and that their sense of rootlessness is an opportunity to set their hearts on heaven, not on home ownership. They need the conversations that happen over coffee after church to not be dominated by the topics of buying, decorating, and renovating houses (a recurring theme at my church at least)—but about the things that ultimately matter. They Feel Paralyzed “What should I do with my life?” You’d be hard pressed to find a 20-something who hasn’t contemplated this question with a degree of terror. What job, whom to date, where to live—this is the paralysis of adulting. We can feel unable to make decisions, because there are so many paths to choose from, and we’re not even sure where we’re aiming to reach. We struggle to figure that out because we don’t know will fulfill us. So we keep our options open—even as they overwhelm us—so that we don’t miss out or get it wrong. And in doing so, we never go anywhere. But we all want life to go somewhere. And we need the church to remind us that our existence isn’t one of aimless drifting—we have a destination. Where we’ll be in 50 years’ time is uncertain. Where we’ll be in 500 years is not. We’re part of a story that’s building to a climax where Jesus is glorified forever. Twenty-somethings need older, wiser saints who are ready to listen and willing to help us wrestle through life decisions with this eternal perspective. They Feel Lonely As we move through our 20s, our relationships are in a state of flux. People move away or move on—a new job, a new girlfriend, or a new hobby changes the dynamics first in one relationship and then another. Eventually most of us reach a point where we look around and ask, Wait . . . where did all my friends go? In one recent study, more people in their 20s reported feeling lonely “often” or “very often” than those older than 75. We need to be reminded that God is the one who searches us and knows us (Ps. 139:1). When we read his Word, we’re listening to a loving Father who is speaking to us—not as a politician does through a TV screen but as a friend does face to face. And we need a church community, of all ages and stages, that embraces us as family and encourages us to be known by others as we are honest about ourselves. Whole-Life Christ I could go on. I could write about how God’s people can help us fight discontent, about the sense of meaning found in dying to self in the service to Christ’s body, about how a church family helps when it feels like all our friends are getting married and our time is running out. But one thing is for sure. I couldn’t have ridden out my quarter-life crisis without my church family, and the millennials in your church can’t ride out their quarter-life crisis without yours. Their quarter-life crisis needs a whole-life view of Christ. Together, we can fix our eyes on him—the one who gives purpose, peace, and joy in every season. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Grateful to God that I am still young

      Since it is early in this New Year, I just wanted to share that I am grateful to God that I still look young and I am still young being born in May 14th, 1996 (I will be 23 later this year). I believe other people have thought I looked younger than I chronologically am and its true. One time at Hometown Buffet my dad and me met a fellow believer and I think I was talking to her about something and I said about How old do you think I am and she thought I was about 17 or 18 and then I told her I was 20 and she said something like that is must be because of God which is indeed true and I am really grateful to Him for it. I am also grateful to God for everything else in my life. 

      in Off Topic Discussion

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