Life-Changing Themes from the Bible: All Will Be Well

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

A final big idea that permeates Scripture is the promise of restoration. Over and over again, the Bible states that God will fix our fallen, broken world. When all is said and done, sin will be eradicated. Trouble and suffering will cease. Death will be no more. Life will finally be as God intended, forever and ever.

- In the Old Testament, God made promises (called agreements or covenants) with Abraham and Moses and David. In each case, God’s desire and intent was to bless his chosen people so that they might bless the nations. In a fallen world, Israel was meant to serve as exhibit A to a watching world of how glorious life can be when it is lived under God’s rule. The Promised Land served as a faint but tangible picture of heaven. It was “a good land” reported to be “flowing with milk and honey” (Leviticus 20:24; Deuteronomy 1:25). Most importantly, it was a gift from God. Unfortunately, the people of Israel struggled to trust and obey God. As a result, they brought much unnecessary sorrow on themselves. They were removed from the land for a time. But not even that could alter God’s good intent for his people.
- The prophets constantly pointed to the future. Writing to their fellow citizens who were suffering under oppressive regimes (typically because of their own disobedience), men like Isaiah saw a day when the Lord would bring ultimate judgment on evil and reign in glory (Isaiah 24:21–22; 34; 46–47; 60–66). Isaiah wrote that on that day, God “will swallow up death forever” and “wipe away the tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). On that day, people will declare: “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).
- In the New Testament, God promises a future peace and eternal life for all people—not just the Israelites of the Old Testament. Christ speaks repeatedly of eternal life (Mark 10:30; John 4:14; 5:24; 6:47; 10:28; 17:2–3). He calls himself “the resurrection and the life” and pledges life after the end of this life to all who believe in him (John 11:25–26). Just before his own death, he tells his followers that he is going to his “Father’s house” to prepare a place for them, and he promises, “I will come back and take you to be with me” (John 14:1–4).
- When Christ walks out of his grave on that first Easter morning, he acts as a kind of preview of coming attractions (“firstfruits,” 1 Corinthians 15:20). His resurrection shouts the truth that all those who are in Christ will live forever. What’s more, we will live in what the apostle John called “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

God’s holiness means he will deal fully and finally with sin and its corrupting effects. God’s grace and mercy (demonstrated in Christ) mean that sinners can be forgiven. God’s goodness means our future is one of joy and peace, not fear. God’s power and sovereignty mean that he will restore all things. Christ’s resurrection is our sure hope. The risen Jesus gives eternal life to all who trust him. All the great themes of the Bible point forward to this one: a sure and certain future. He is “making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5). 

This blog post has been adapted from my new book Self-Guided Tour of the Bible. You can learn more about it here.

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Life-Changing Themes from the Bible: This World Is Not All There Is

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 

A sixth theme that’s prominent in God’s Word is the reality of the kingdom of heaven (or the kingdom of God).

This physical world in which we find ourselves is not all there is to reality. There is more to this life than just this life. We now live a material existence, but there is also an invisible but entirely real spiritual dimension to life.

All through the Bible we read about moments when God “pulls back the curtains,” as it were, to reveal a realm that transcends human comprehension and experience. Consider, for example, the following events described in the Bible:

- In Genesis 28, Jacob dreams at Bethel and sees angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven. We know this isn’t just a case of having eaten too much spicy food at bedtime, because Jacob wakes and makes this classic statement: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (verse 16).
-  In Exodus 24, Moses, Aaron, the elders of Israel, and Aaron’s two sons go up to a mountain to feast in the majestic presence of God.
- In 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha prays that his alarmed servant’s eyes will be opened to spiritual realities. Suddenly the young man is able to see heavenly chariots of fire and horses surrounding them (verse 17).
- In his book, the prophet Ezekiel records vision after vision of eternal realities that defy description. He describes four unusual living creatures—each with four faces and four wings and each having a human form—that were accompanied by wheels (Ezekiel 1:4–24). Later Ezekiel sees bones that join together, become covered in flesh, and come to life when he speaks to them (Ezekiel 37:1–14).
- In Luke 2, in the New Testament, a few shepherds are minding their own business when the nighttime skies above Bethlehem suddenly blaze with the light of an angelic army. With excitement, these heavenly messengers announce the birth of “a Savior . . . the Messiah, the Lord” (verse 11). After praising God, the angels disappear and the skies darken again.
- Beginning his ministry, Jesus announces the arrival of “the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:15). Later, he clarifies that his kingdom is not necessarily visible or earthly (Luke 17:20–21; John 18:36).
- In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul speaks of a man (likely himself) who was caught up into heaven (“paradise,” verse 4).
- In the book of Revelation, the apostle John is given a front-row seat and a preview of the future hope Christians have. John sees into the last days of the world and into heaven itself. You get the sense he keeps rubbing his eyes as he struggles to find words to express all that he sees.

We all have deep, inexpressible longings in our souls, a sense that there is more to life than meets the eye. Some have called this an ache for transcendence, even an eternal homesickness. In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis put it this way: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

The spiritual life is about developing “the eyes of [our] heart” (Ephesians 1:18). As we do that, we are able to remember that this world is passing away and that our true home is in heaven. This helps us avoid the great trap of becoming overly attached to stuff that cannot last. 

This blog post has been adapted from my new book Self-Guided Tour of the Bible. You can learn more about it here.

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Life-Changing Themes from the Bible: God Rescues Us in Christ

, by Christopher D. Hudson

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 

Another towering idea that looms over the pages of the story of the Bible is the wonder of salvation. God relentlessly seeks to find us when we are lost, forgive us when we sin, and fix us when we are broken. This is seen in the Bible from the first page to the last.

- Almost before Adam and Eve have swallowed the forbidden fruit, we see God coming into the Garden of Eden, calling out to his cowering creatures, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Then, even as God confronts Adam and Eve with their sin, he mentions that one of Eve’s descendants will crush the head of the serpent, the one who has deceptively introduced such evil and suffering into the world (Genesis 3:15).
- Soon after, Noah is a recipient of God’s favor (i.e., his grace, Genesis 6:8). As a result, he and his family are brought safely through the great flood.
- In Exodus, God delivers his people from Egyptian bondage.
- In Judges, God repeatedly rescues the Israelites from oppression at the hands of neighboring nations.
-  In the psalms, David makes a frequent point of mentioning all the ways and times God has come to his aid.
- In the book of Jonah, we see God command one of his prophets to travel to Nineveh (the capital city of ancient Assyria) and urge the people there to turn from their sin or face judgment. It’s not as though the Assyrians are seeking God. They’re not. They worship other gods and are bent on destroying the Israelites. Even so, God proactively sends a messenger to warn them. When they repent, they are spared.

In each of these instances, short-term physical deliverance is a picture of the eternal and spiritual salvation God wants to bring to his people. In his compassion and love, God pursues people and desires to save them from the consequences of their own rebellion  (Psalm 103:8–18; Jonah 4:2). And this pursuit continues in the New Testament.

- The New Testament Gospels depict Jesus as the “sent” one of God (John 5:24). In Jesus’ own words, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). His invitation? “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28). His legacy? “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
- In Acts 9, we read the astounding story of Saul (a.k.a. the apostle Paul). He is dead set on wiping off the map the new Jesus movement. He is hell-bent on rounding up Christians, and he is violently opposed to this new entity called the church—until the day Jesus essentially hunts him down (and knocks him down, literally!) on the Damascus Road. From that day forward, Paul becomes a partner with Christ in the mission of going to the ends of the earth to bring people to God.

Throughout its pages, the Bible shows God as pursuing and wooing his wayward creatures. In the Gospels, we see Jesus going, preaching, warning, inviting, calling, and training a group to take his message to the world. We see him compassionately serving, healing, and accepting people—including people on the fringes of society who are ignored or disdained by others. In the end we see him suffering, dying, rising, and calling his followers to “Go!” Why this theme of rescue? Why such divine passion for a relationship with indifferent people? Because of who God is:

- God is loving. This means he always seeks the best for his creatures (John 3:16; 1 John 4:7–21).
- God is compassionate. This means his heart is moved when he sees the ones he loves in trouble (Psalm 103:2–4; 145:8; Matthew 9:36).
- God is merciful. This means God spares us from the punishment we deserve (Nehemiah 9:31; Luke 6:36).
- God is gracious. This means God gives us amazingly good things we don’t deserve (Psalm 116:5). Grace is undeserved favor (Ephesians 2:8–9). Perhaps the best New Testament picture of grace is the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32). It’s hard to read this story and not be blown away by God’s heart.
- God is forgiving. This means God blots out our sins (Psalm 86:5; Ephesians 1:7). In Christ, our offenses against God are paid for and wiped away. When we trust in Christ and what he did for us at the cross, we are made right with God. Jesus takes upon himself the sin of all who believe. In exchange he gives his perfect righteousness to all who humbly trust in him.

The consistent message of the Bible is that God’s heart is for sinners—which is every one of us! God hates sin because he is holy and because sin kills the ones he loves. The coming of Jesus into the world is the clearest proof of God’s love. The death of Christ shows the lengths God will go to in order to solve our problem of sin and bring us back to himself. God is not only eager to save; he is able to save! 

This blog post has been adapted from my new book Self-Guided Tour of the Bible. You can learn more about it here.

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Life-Changing Themes from the Bible: God Is Awesome

, by Christopher D. Hudson

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  

People toss around the word awesome a lot: “That game-winning play was awesome!” “That sandwich was awesome!” But in the strictest sense, the word awesome means far more than having your taste buds tantalized. Being awed means to be filled with speechless wonder. It means to be breathless with holy fear. When we are in the presence of true awesomeness, we hug the ground, tremble, freeze, even lose the power of speech.

Hundreds of Bible verses describe God’s awesomeness as his glory. In Hebrew (the language used to write most of the Old Testament), the word glory means “weighty” or “heavy.” God isn’t an insignificant character. He’s not hiding off in the margins of life, resting lightly on people and events. His majesty is central to everything; his splendor fills the universe. There’s a divine beauty that covers the world like a heavy blanket. It’s there, even when we don’t feel it, even if we never acknowledge it.

Question: In what specific ways is God awesome? Answer: In more ways than we can mention. But let’s take a minute and list seven “heavy,” breathtaking truths the Bible reveals about our awesome God:

1. God is infinite. He is without end or limits (1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 145:3).
2. God is eternal. He is outside of and unbounded by time (Genesis 21:33; Psalm 90:2).
3. God is all-knowing. He sees and comprehends all things—both actual and possible (Psalms 139:1–4; 147:4–5; Hebrews 4:13; 1 John 3:20).
4. God is all-powerful. Nothing is too hard for the Almighty (Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26).
5. God is present everywhere. There is no place where he is not (Psalm 139:7–12; Jeremiah 23:23–24).
6. God is sovereign. He authoritatively rules and orchestrates all things for his glory and the good of the creatures he loves (Ephesians 1:4–14, 21).
7. God is unchanging. He doesn’t morph or evolve; he is reliable and consistent (Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).

By constantly showing God as glorious, the Bible makes it clear that he is worth not only our attention but also our devotion. Because God is awesome, he deserves all the honor we can give him. We should spend our lives making much of God. We should order our lives around him.

In truth this is what worship is. Our English word worship means the state of having worth. Worship isn’t merely a church service or singing religious songs. It can be that, but it is so much more. Worship is about what we treat as worthy or valuable 24/7. People worship money, fame, power, beauty—all kinds of things. But because God alone is truly awesome, we should worship him and not lesser things.

This blog post has been adapted from my new book Self-Guided Tour of the Bible. You can learn more about it here.

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Life-Changing Themes from the Bible - God Is

, by Christopher D. Hudson

"Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. 

One major idea that permeates the Bible is the reality of God. The Bible begins with God. When nothing else is, God is: “In the beginning God . . .” (Genesis 1:1). In the first verse of the Bible, God is revealed as Creator. If you flip to the very end of the Bible—the book of Revelation, the apostle John’s vision of heaven and eternity—God is revealed as King, Lord, and Judge of all the earth (Revelation 15:3; 20:12–13).

In between Genesis and Revelation, the words God and Lord are mentioned thousands of times. Clearly, from beginning to end, the reality of God is a dominating idea in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God is often perceived as invisible or hidden in dramatic displays of fire and smoke (Exodus 19:18). His power, wisdom, and holiness caused people to tremble with fear and awe at his presence (Exodus 20:18; Psalms 96:9; 119:120; Proverbs 28:14). But people who enjoyed a close relationship with God also experienced him and his love in extremely personal ways. Adam and Eve, for example, spent time with God in the garden; after their fateful choice to disobey him, they tried to physically hide from God’s presence (Genesis 3:8). The Bible describes Abraham as God’s “friend” (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). Moses is a great example of someone who experienced God’s presence, love, and friendship firsthand (Exodus 34:5–6). God himself “would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11).

In the New Testament, we are introduced to Jesus, the Son of God. Though this carpenter-turned-teacher from Nazareth claimed repeatedly to be God, he was visible and approachable (John 8:56–59; 10:30–33)! He came close enough to be seen, heard, and touched (1 John 1:1–3).

After his death, burial, resurrection, and return to heaven, Jesus sent the very Spirit of God to live in the hearts and souls of his followers (Acts 2). What a jaw-dropping reality! Think about it: The Gospels in the New Testament show God among us (John 1:14). Jesus was “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, emphasis added). The book of Acts in the New Testament shows that the Spirit is God in us.

If the Bible is true (and, of course, we believe it is), then God is. God exists. We’re not alone in the universe. The world and the human race are not cosmic accidents, the result of eons of time + chance + nothing. We were designed. We were made for a purpose. The world is not random; it is going somewhere. We have meaning and significance.

This blog post has been adapted from my new book, Self-Guided Tour of the Bible. You can read more about it here.

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Great Men of the Bible: Paul

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.

Paul’s life displays God’s ability to transform a person from a persecutor of the church to one of its most effective missionaries. Paul’s ministry spans many years, geographically covering almost the entire Roman Empire and thirteen books of the New Testament (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, Titus, and 1 and 2 Timothy) are attributed to Paul.

Paul, known as Saul before his repentance, is born in Tarsus (Acts 22:3), an important city in the Roman Empire. Paul is thoroughly Jewish, but his birthplace affords him the privileges of Roman citizenship, something he later uses to his advantage in sharing the gospel (Acts 16:12 – 40; 22:24 – 29; 23:23 – 24; 25:11 – 12).

As a young man, Paul is actively involved in persecuting the early church and imprisoning Christians for their faith (Acts 8:3; 9:1 – 2; Philippians 3:6). He is present and complicit when the first Christian martyr, Stephen, is stoned to death (Acts 7:58). As a member of the conservative Pharisee sect of Jews (Acts 23:6; Philippians 3:5), Paul attains a high level of theological education studying under Gamaliel, a well-known rabbi (Acts 22:3).

As Paul travels to the city of Damascus to arrest Christians, a light from heaven flashes around him. He hears a voice from heaven ask, “Saul, why do you persecute me?” This encounter with Christ leaves Paul blinded. When a Christian named Ananias prays for Paul, his sight is restored. Paul is then baptized and spends time with the disciples in Damascus (Acts 9:2 – 19).

Shortly after his repentance, Paul goes to the desert area of Arabia and returns to Damascus (Galatians 1:15 – 20). He spends three years there before returning to the cities of Asia Minor. Paul’s bold preaching and his repentance from persecuting Christians becomes widely known in the region, making him a target for church persecutors. A group of Jews attempts to kill him in Damascus (Acts 9:23 – 25), causing him to flee to Jerusalem.

When Paul arrives in Jerusalem, many Christians fear and do not trust him. Then Barnabas, a well-respected disciple who would later accompany Paul on his first mission, meets Paul and convinces the church that his repentance is genuine (Acts 9:27).

Paul goes on to become the greatest missionary of the early church. He takes four missionary journeys, founding, establishing, and teaching churches throughout the Roman Empire. As such, he becomes the apostle to the Gentiles, or the non-Jews. His letters instructing, correcting, and encouraging these churches and the leaders he appoints over them comprise a large percentage of the New Testament.

Paul endures many hardships during his ministry. He is persecuted, stoned, arrested, beaten, shipwrecked, and imprisoned. He preaches the gospel both when he is free and when he is imprisoned. He is ultimately sent to Rome, where, according to church tradition, he is executed by beheading because of his faith in Jesus Christ. 

This blog post has been adapted from The Most Significant People, Places, and Events in the Bible. You can learn more about it here.

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Great Men of the Bible: Simon Peter

, by Christopher D. Hudson

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Simon Peter is a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee when he meets Jesus. Peter’s brother, Andrew, first hears John the Baptist declare Jesus as “God’s Chosen One” (John 1:34). Andrew immediately runs to find Peter and tells him they have found the Messiah. Jesus then meets them on the shore and calls Peter to leave behind his fishing nets and follow him to “fish for people” (John 1:35 – 42; Luke 5:1 – 11).

During his ministry, Jesus often travels with only Peter, James, and John. Because of this, Peter  experiences many miracles. For example, Peter is present when Jesus raises a synagogue leader’s daughter from the dead (Luke 8:51 – 56). Peter is one of the few to witness Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. During this experience, Peter also hears God affirm that Jesus is his Son (Mark 9:2 – 7).

In many instances, Peter acts as a courageous disciple. When the disciples see Jesus walking on the water and mistake him for a ghost, Peter has the boldness to come when Christ calls him. He begins to walk on the water, too (Matthew 14:22 – 31). When Jesus asks his disciples who they believe he is, Peter is the first to answer. He proclaims that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). It is here that Jesus gives Simon the name Cephas (in Hebrew) or Peter (in Greek), meaning “rock” (Matthew 16:18).

While Peter is a key leader in Jesus’ inner circle, he also has his struggles. For example, Peter debates with Jesus about whether the Messiah must suffer and die (Matthew 16:21 – 23). In addition, though Peter says he will never forsake Jesus, he denies Jesus three times after Jesus is arrested (Mark 14:27 – 31, 69 – 72).

After Jesus dies and rises from the dead, he speaks with Peter. Though Peter feels great shame for denying Jesus, Jesus forgives him and reaffirms Peter’s calling to tend and feed God’s flock (John 21:15 – 19) before ascending to heaven.

Later, Peter is with the other disciples on the day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit is released. That day, Peter preaches a message that leads 3,000 people to follow Christ (Acts 2). Peter’s ministry is marked by miracles, including healings (Acts 3:1 – 10; 5:12 – 16; 9:32 – 35) and raising a girl from the dead (Acts 9:36 – 41). Peter is arrested twice for preaching about Jesus (Acts 4:1 – 4; 12:3 – 5) and is freed from his second imprisonment by an angel (Acts 12:3 – 19).

This blog post has been adapted from The Most Significant People, Places, and Events in the Bible. You can learn more about the book here.

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The Love of Children and Parents

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. 

[[The following is an excerpt from the A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages. Thanks to Moody Publishers for the permission to reprint the following]].

Breaking news: parents and teenagers don’t have to clash on everything. It’s not a moral or legal obligation. Some people expect that the parent-teen relationship will be strained, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. While that stretch of time before you leave home can have its share of explosions, as you’re asserting your independence and your parents are weaning their control of your life and decisions, it doesn’t have to be filled with tension, arguments, and disrespect. So if you’re at peace with your parents, don’t start a nuclear war on principle.

Instead, use peacetime for diplomacy. One of the best strategies for building your relationship with your parents is this sneaky little word: honor. One of God’s original, top ten rules is “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Ideally, love should flow from parent to child. When this consistently takes place and children genuinely feel loved, it is easy for them to honor their parents. However, kids who felt unloved, abandoned, or abused may struggle to honor their parents. Understandably.

Honoring your parents DOES NOT

1. mean painting over the past, pretending it didn’t happen;
2. mean placing yourself in a position for more abuse (it’s important to make and keep wise boundaries);
3. instantly heal a strained relationship;
4. suggest taking responsibility for your parents or even for the parent-child relationship.

But honor DOES enhance a good relationship and breathe some life back into a dying one. When you choose to honor your parents, you pick out something specific and genuine that they did well for you, and you publicly thank and acknowledge them for that.

We may feel deeply hurt by our parents. We may feel abandoned, disappointed, frustrated, and even depressed, but we can still express love to them. Love is an attitude that takes action.

For more information about the Teen’s Guide, visit
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Love Is

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

[[The following is an excerpt from the A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages. Thanks to Moody Publishers for the permission to reprint the following]].

The feeling of being in love doesn’t last.

Well, you might argue, that might be true for other people, but not for me. You don’t know what my relationship is like. False. No exceptions. This is an ironclad, biological/emotional/psychological fact: the high of being in love does not last. For most people, that feeling you get (like a high) from being newly in love lasts up to two years. Maybe less. After that, the emotions calibrate toward normal, and you have to make a decision: Do you scrap the relationship and move on to the next emotional high, or do you figure out what real love looks like?

Now I’m not saying you should date the same person for ten years just to prove you’re not a quitter. There’s no prize for gutting it out in the wrong dating relationship. Depending on your dating philosophy (likely colored by your parents’ advice), you may find that dating different people helps you learn a lot about yourself and how to navigate relationships. I’m not arguing for being betrothed (old-school engagement) at age fourteen. What I am saying is that once you land in a long-term relationship,  whether that’s at age 18 or 28 or 58, if you want it to last, then you must have realistic expectations.

Those expectations are rooted in a true definition of love. Love isn’t two starry-eyed lovers being drawn together by a magical, gravitational force, while a romantic soundtrack plays in the background. Love is not a feeling; it’s a choice. Love isn’t about getting everything you want and need and making sure you always feel happy. Love is a choice to meet someone else’s needs, to sacrifice for another, to want what’s best for the other—even when it’s hard.

For more information about the Teen’s Guide, visit

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What Does Service Look Like?

, by Christopher D. Hudson

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 

[[The following is an excerpt from the A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages. Thanks to Moody Publishers for the permission to reprint the following]].

Want to know what service looks like? Take a look at the Master. It was the very last night of Jesus’ life on earth. He knew what was coming: betrayal, trial, torture, and death. He spent His last evening with the disciples.

Now if you knew you were on death row, wouldn’t you treat your last few hours as if they were all about you? You might invite your friends over to keep you company, ask your mom to make your favorite meal, make your siblings do your every whim so you could relax and face death with dignity.

Not Jesus. Knowing it was His last night, He spent it serving His disciples. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Jesus showed them love by a dramatic act of service. Mid-dinner, Jesus stood up, wrapped a towel around His waist, took a basin of water, and washed each disciple’s feet.

What a repulsive job. Back in the day, people wore open sandals, walked on dusty roads (shared by animals), and bathed infrequently. Their feet were caked with sweat and dirt. Gross. Jesus—their Teacher and Lord—was the One who got low and served.

He washed all twenty-four feet. Even Judas’s. Even though Jesus knew Judas was about to betray Him. And when He finished, He asked them, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” Blank stares from the disciples, still in shock over the foot-washing. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Get it? Love serves.

For more information about the Teen’s Guide, visit

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