How to Break Free from a Troubled Past

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Pensive young man

We’ve all suffered heartache.

Even if we grew up in a loving home, we were raised by imperfect people who made mistakes, no matter how well-intentioned they may have been. So none of us escapes completely unscathed. It’s the reality of being born into a fallen world.

That’s a truth I know all too well.

I’ve openly shared about my troubled childhood. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s enough to explain that my mother died when I was nine years old.

Who’s the Better Christian?

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Judging_mini-727x300

Let’s try to guess which of these two men is doing more to expand the Kingdom of God.

We’ll call the first guy Kevin. Kevin gets up every morning at 5:30 a.m. and gets ready for a long commute into his downtown office where he works in middle management in the banking industry. He works hard because he has a family to support: a wife, three kids and a dog.

Calvin is our second guy – “Pastor C,” as the kids in youth group call him.

The Spiritual Side of Dogs

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Young woman holding a puppy

Pick up any Christmas catalog this season, from L.L. Bean to Orvis, and you’re bound to see images of cute puppies and family dogs.

There sits a friendly retriever by the crackling fireplace, snuggled up on his tartan-plaid dog bed. Or there’s pajama-clad junior, hugging his new canine friend, a red bow around his collar.

There’s a reason the late Peanuts creator Charles Schulz once suggested that “Happiness is a warm puppy.”

Just see how many advertisements include a dog or a cat.

Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton, Wife Adopt Two Children

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Scott and Tracie Hamilton and children featured image

Gold-medal-winning Olympian Scott Hamilton and his wife, Tracie, recently doubled the number of children in their family. The couple, who already have two biological children, adopted a brother and sister from Haiti, reports The Today Show.

The Hamiltons first learned of Evelyne, 11, and Jean Paul, 13, two years ago in the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit the island nation through Tracie’s volunteer work. Tracie quickly fell in love with the pair after visiting one particular Hatian orphanage.

WATCH: How This Church’s Gift Saves Lives

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Silver Lake Church

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for a small country church and its big-hearted members.

We first learned of Silver Lake Church of the Bible (Silver Lake, Oregon) from a simple letter. The story Pastor Leon Baker shared in that letter started in 2006.

After listening to a Focus broadcast, “The Lord laid it upon my heart to begin collecting for the purchase of an ultrasonic machine,” he wrote.

And for eight years, that’s what Pastor Baker and his congregation did.

14 Different Faith Traditions Agree on This

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Family at Wedding

You may have heard of the recent interfaith conference on marriage at the Vatican. The three-day event brought together 14 faith traditions from 23 countries, and included the participation of prominent evangelicals such as Dr. Russell Moore and Rick Warren. Focus marriage expert Glenn Stanton also attended the event.

The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium” served to gather leaders and scholars to examine marriage “in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.” It reaffirmed the centuries-old belief shared by the different faiths that vital to marriage is the complementary nature of man and woman.

Teaching Kids to Be Grateful

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Grateful little girl

Isn’t it strange that in a nation nicknamed the “land of opportunity” that so many struggle to find happiness?

I think, in part, that’s because we haven’t learned the discipline of gratitude. I’m not talking about the brief moments here and there where we acknowledge God’s blessings. I’m talking about living a life of gratitude.

Maybe gratitude is difficult because cynicism is too easy.

By nature, I’m an optimist. But it’s easy to turn pessimistic from time to time.

Why We Share the Blame for the Redefinition of Marriage

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Husband/wife wedding rings

Facts are stubborn things,” wrote John Adams. “Whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

And so, by that measure, there’s been a lot of conjecture and spin surrounding the push to redefine the sacred institution of marriage.

But what are the facts? Where does the issue concerning same-sex marriage currently stand?

Consider:

Same-sex marriage is now legal or nearly so in 35 states.
 

How to Help Your Family Celebrate Advent

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Advent candles

Have you noticed how, every year, Christmas seems to edge out Thanksgiving more and more? It’s now par for the course to see Pilgrim decorations living side-by-side with Santas on store shelves.

A U.K. researcher confirmed the trend: He found people start thinking about Christmas in August.

Isn’t that something?

Why would that be?

Perhaps people are yearning for Christmas. They’re yearning for the warmth and joy and happy memories.

Deep down, though, we’re longing for a Savior.

The Backward Logic of Perfectionism

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Nobody's Perfect

Many of us strive for excellence. But for other folks, excellence isn’t good enough. They want perfection. As noble as that goal sounds, it’s actually a very unhealthy way to live.

Oh, sure, perfectionists look great on the outside. Just ask today’s broadcast guests Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. Self-acknowledged perfectionists, they’ll tell you they tend to work harder than everyone around them, excel at most things they try, and appear confident. But underneath that polished exterior is a fragile self-image.