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Hi.

I think owe you guys a huge apology. I spent so much effort building up my blog and providing thought-provoking (at times) insights into life that may or may not have provoked your thoughts. Sure, my previous excuses have always been work/exams/school. But I still had time to post at least once a month. Truth is, I haven’t been posting because I’ve been spending less time at home. Truth is, I started courting :). You may have questions and you may be curious, but I don’t believe a public venue is the place to tell you my story. You may ask me when you see me face to face and I will tell you what you need to hear. Life has certainly changed. Most likely for the better :).

Assuming you accept my apology (sorry for being presumptions), please keep reading.

Note: After writing this, I realized that this is an extremely long post. I apologize. I don’t think I intended it to be, but I guess it makes up for the months and months of inactivity? If you are short on time, feel free to skip to the end. I actually think that point makes some kind of sense. Or you may read this post in its entirety.

I was reading Romans 5 and 6 on the bus as I was coming home from work today. If you wish, please spend 20-30mins (depending on your reading speed/ability) reading that passage. If you do not wish to read it, I forgive you (as you have forgiven me). I’m actually reading the book of Jeremiah right now, but recently I’ve been thinking of what scripture says in Romans. You’ve most likely (hopefully) heard this before, that we are sinners saved by grace. But what does that mean?

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8 (ESV)

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Wow. WOOOWWW. That’s crazy. Even when we were still sinners, God loved us so much to die for our sins, so that we may be saved. While we were still stuck in sin, while we were still unclean, while we still hated Him, God chose to love us. This love is nothing like we’ve ever seen before. Would you ever die for someone off the streets? How about the guy beside you on the bus? How about the girl who yelled at you on the skytrain? How about your coworker or classmates? Maybe we would die for a close friend or relative. Yet God loved us so much that He died to save us, even when we did nothing to deserve it. Grace is undeserved forgiveness. This is the grace that saves. We are sinners saved by the overflowing undeserved forgiveness that can only come from God.

I don’t know if I can stress that enough. Maybe it’s because I haven’t written in a while or maybe it’s because it’s so incomprehensible. This salvation, this grace, this forgiveness, is only available to you if you accept it. If I say that I forgive you for a wrong that you did. You don’t experience that forgiveness until you have faith that I have forgiven you and accept my offer of forgiveness. Grace, therefore, can only be experienced through faith in this incredible forgiveness and acceptance of God’s offer.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)

The word “grace” appears in the ESV version six times in this chapter. Grace is usually needed when someone does something wrong. Grace is needed because of sin. Because of Adam and because of sin, we are subject to death and the bondage of sin. But because of Christ and because of grace, we are given life and given freedom from sin. Because of one man’s sin, death was brought into this world. But because of one man’s free gift of salvation and grace, life is brought into this world.

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:17-19 (ESV)

Ok, so I’ve talked about how sinful we are and how we deserve death and how awesome and merciful God is to give us new life. What about the law? The law was given to Moses through the form of the infamous ten commandments. Disobedience cannot be defined without the definition for obedience. Because of the law, sin is made known. Because of the definition of black and white, we can now understand what is black and what is white. It doesn’t mean that black and white didn’t exist before someone came and decided to define it. But because of the definition, we now know what is classified as black and what is classified as white. While it may have been wrong to steal before we knew it was a sin, stealing despite knowing that it is wrong is even worse.

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21 (ESV)

But thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Get this. Take a seat. Grace has power over our sin. When sin increases, grace abounds! The law was made to make known our sin, but we are not to be enslaved by it. Sin is not to reign and control our lives. God came to free us from the bondage of sin and the law. What does that mean? We are enslaved by sin if we live in fear of death. Because the punishment of sin is death, we are enslaved because we fear the punishment of our wrongs. Sin has power over us because of death. But what if someone took our punishment? God came to free us from our enslavement and free us from sin’s grasp. We no longer have to fear death

Imagine if there was a perfect king who came and said that you must follow all his laws. Breaking one of them would lead to death. The fear of breaking the law would have power over our actions and our behaviours. However, these were laws that were created to draw us closer to the king and make us more like him. Yet we would live in fear of death and our fear would control us. But what if the king died in your place to offer you grace? Knowing that you couldn’t follow the laws and seeing you trapped in fear of the punishment of death, the king took away sin’s control on you by taking your punishment. So, now, instead of following the law because of fear, we follow the law because of love.

Sorry if that was a horrible example. If it was, you may feel free to ignore it. Anyhow, once we are forgiven in such an unbelievable manner, once grace abounds to cover our sin, do we continue to sin so that grace can keep increasing? Ofcourse not, that makes no sense.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Romans 6:1-2 (ESV)

The just punishment for sin is death. Why so extreme? Because anything less than perfection is not worthy of God. That is why Jesus died. He suffered our death sentence once and for all, with our sins nailed to that cross. And with the punishment dealt, we are no longer deserving of death, but we receive the gift that is God’s amazing grace!! Jesus does not have to die multiple times. He died once and He died for all sin so that we may no longer have to live in it. We are free from the bondages, enslavement, and fear of sin. We are free from the fear of death. We are dead to sin, and therefore holy, blameless, and alive to God through Jesus’ death.

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 6:6-11 (ESV)

But wait. If the punishment for sin has been paid and we now receive life everlasting, how come we are still tempted by sin? How come it may seem like we are still living in it? As long as we live on earth, sin exists. We are still tempted and we will still sin, but we can be assured that the ultimate victory belongs to God, who died for all our sins. In a way, you can say that we have the freedom to sin, given that we are and will be forgiven. Christ’s death gives us freedom. Yet, knowing that our freedom came at a huge price, as I mentioned previously, we now follow the law not because of fear, but because of love. We have the freedom to sin, but we don’t because of love.

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
Romans 6:12-14 (ESV)

Sorry if that was unbearably long and needlessly confusing. My main point is, we shouldn’t focus on just sin or just grace. We shouldn’t focus on how sinful our lives are and ignore grace nor should we focus on how wonderful grace is that allows us the freedom to sin. Personally, I believe there is a balance. I’m not sure if this is the conclusion you’ve reached, but I believe this is how God intends for it to work:

sin –> grace –> obedience

And not a focus on sin, which is merely obedience out of fear:

sin –> obedience –> sin –> obedience –> sin –> obedience –> etc.

Nor a focus on grace, which is merely a life of disobedience:

sin –> grace –> sin –> grace –> sin –> grace –> sin –> grace –> etc.

But God intends for us to obey the law because it is our greatest desire to present ourselves as holy, not because sin leads to death. We have to understand that yes, there is sin, but there is also grace. We have to understand that yes, there is grace, but there is also obedience.

Many thanks for reading. I will post about my Urbana experience soon!

Carrie

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Perfection

Life has certainly been keeping me busy, which is my excuse for being so inactive on wordpress. It’s not that I have nothing to update. I have TONS! During school, I would work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and then school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I leave the house at about 8 (give or take 30mins) and get home at about 7-9. Though I’ve decided to set aside Saturdays for friends (then go back home for homework), which is my way of keeping in touch. Then Sunday is my “day of rest” I guess. Which hasn’t been quite so restful at times. Then when school ended, I started full time work. Monday to Friday I wake up at around 6:45am and finish work at about 5:30pm. Anyhow, my post isn’t just about how busy I am. It’s about perfection.

I don’t know if this is human nature, a cultural tendency, or just me, but more often than not, I strive for perfection. Actually, I’m starting to think that this is more than an idiosyncrasy. Sure, you may think I am weird in many ways (I know a lot of you do), but I think many, if not all, of us strive to be the best we can be. But what does it mean to be “the best we can be”? Do we live to our full potential? Do we strive to use the talents God has given us? In doing so, I think it is very easy to compare ourselves to other people. In trying to live our life to the fullest, we look at others to see how we are doing.

This is how I see it. We try to do good deeds and try to live life to the fullest. We strive to do well in school, to get a good job, form good relationships with friends and family, to serve and care for those in need, etc. But since we are human, we are flawed. When we try to do something worthwhile, we mess up, we forget, and maybe even fail. Then when we look at how other people are seemingly perfect, our own flaws are magnified. We are always our own worst critic. Because of this, we strive to do better, to somehow wipe away the spots on our record. To destroy, or at least hide, all traces of our imperfections. To try to be perfect. Or maybe you just give up. You stop trying. Either way, we have compared ourselves to someone better than us, whether you are a perfectionist or not. But has it ever occurred to you that the other person is flawed as well? Have you ever wondered if they, like you, are only trying to appear perfect?

We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world hiding behind masks of perfection. Picture this for a second. You are stained and covered with dirt and blemishes. Looking at yourself, you are made aware of your flaws and try to create a mask so that no one will be able to see them. Other people, not able to see your weaknesses, think that you have it all together and begin to create masks themselves so that they can fit in. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a very distorted and disgusting way to live. By hiding behind the appearance of perfection, we are forfeiting the opportunity of real relationships.

Or maybe that’s not you. But maybe instead of striving for people’s approval, you strive for God’s approval. We do good deeds hoping to please God. We serve the hungry and weak, we volunteer at church, we pray for the church, etc. However, because God is perfect, He cannot accept anything less than perfection. So how do we achieve perfection?

This past semester I helped lead a bible study at SFU focused mainly on the Jesus’ sermon on the mount. For the uneducated, the sermon on the mount is a beautiful passage about what it means to be a Christian. It is about the attitudes a Christian should have towards others, God, and life. It is about how a Christian should and should not be living. There are the legalistic laws of the old testament that tells us how we should live and there are the revised laws that Jesus presents that says a Christian life is more than just following laws. It is not just about legalistically following rules, but about loving others and loving God. It is not about not committing murder (double negative!), it is about not being angry with a friend who wrongs you. Christianity is not about following rules, but following rules are a result of living a selfless life.

The sermon on the mount paints a very clear picture of how a Christian should live. And the picture it gives is a picture of perfection. Jesus says that we must live selflessly, we must love our enemies, we shouldn’t worry about our future, we should be the light of the world, etc.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 NIV

We can strive to be perfect and meet God’s standards, but we will inevitably fail. But the beauty of God’s love is that we don’t have to be perfect. God understands our natural tendency towards sin. Which is why God, out of a selfless love for us, sent Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect and blameless life, became the perfect sacrifice, and died in our place. Now, God sees us as perfect because Jesus paid the price of our imperfections.

God redeemed our broken relationship. By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice, we are brought back into a real relationship with God. By continuing to strive towards perfection by our own strength, we forfeit this relationship.

Sorry if what I said didn’t make much sense. It did initially, then when I clicked submit, wordpress lost my original post :(. Now I can’t seem to put my thoughts back in order. But if I had lost you somewhere in the first few paragraphs, my main point is this:

Seeking to hide our imperfections and striving for perfection is just being dishonest. It is very clear, to me at least, that we are not perfect. So why pretend that we are? By being dishonest, we deny ourselves and others the beauty of a real relationship. I’m not saying that’s not a good thing to try to be perfect or try to live a more selfless life. On the contrary, I think it is a very honourable characteristic. However, we have to remember that we are flawed to begin with and admit that as well.

A familiar passage for you guys to ponder about. None of us are perfect. But as one body, we can compliment each other and build each other up. Only if we let others know about our weaknesses and needs.

“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.If they were all one part, where would the body be?As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

1 Corinthians 12:14 – 26 NIV

Hope to write again soon!

Carrie

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Graduation

Is this the end? How come it is only when we approach the end of something that we start to appreciate it. Last semester, I was really looking forward to graduate. To finally get out of university and all the troubles and stress it brings. To start a new chapter and become a productive member of society. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get out. But now, I have to say that I don’t feel the same way anymore. I still want to graduate ofcourse, it’s just that I will miss SFU. Yet, it took me almost 5 years to realize that.

In a way, it reminds me of moving from high school to university. Where you move from something known to something that’s unknown. You transition from an environment with all your close friends to having to start over again (for the most part). At that point in time, you miss high school yet you have to move forward.

When first year came around, I still mainly hung around with my high school friends. SFU, notorious for its reputation as a commuter campus, didn’t feel like home to me. I don’t think I ever made a friend in my lectures during first year. During my second and third year, I started taking more classes related to my major (actuarial science, for those who still don’t know). Being in those classes not only challenged me tremendously, but allowed me to form friendships with my classmates. Why? It’s because those classes were small, with 30 students max. Now since we were all enduring through the same assignments, professors, and exams, we were able to bond because of our shared struggles. Because of that, we were able to learn from each other and form friendships. It’s not like a business class where you are forced to compete with your classmates. Actuarial science classes actually created an environment where competition is not encouraged and where you want your classmates to succeed with you. Where, if you see your classmate struggling through his/her assignment, you want to help. Yes, our grades are somewhat dependent on how well we do compared to our classmates, but when you help someone, you actually get better (because you learn to explain something) and your classmates get better. Needless to say, I really enjoyed that.

During third/fourth year, my friends started graduating :(. It was bittersweet as I was happy for them yet a bit sad that they were leaving. However, for me, their graduation was out of my control. Then, as you all should know, I left for England during my fourth year. I really miss Leeds. Not just the city and the life, but also the friendships I’ve made there. True, I could have just lived by myself as the introvert that I am. I would be completely content with that. Yet, for some strange reason, God lead me to a wonderful group of friends at LCCC and a few friends outside the church. I am really thankful for a group of Christian friends to keep me accountable while I was away from home and living in a new environment. And equally thankful for all my friends who showed me hospitality and came to my assistance when I needed them. Needless to say, I was sad about leaving Leeds. When I left Vancouver, I knew I was coming home. When I left Leeds, like leaving high school, there was a very high probability I wouldn’t see these friends again.

First, second, third, fourth, and, finally, fifth. Why do I suddenly miss SFU? Based on what I’ve told you, you can probably figure it out (but I’ll tell you anyways since that was the point in writing this post). I’m going to miss SFU because of the friendships I’ve made over the past few months. If you guys have kept up with my updates, you would know that I posted about “belongingness” a few months ago. Because I felt a need to belong, a need to fellowship, that I couldn’t really find at church or with my friends, I started going to IVCF (Intervarsity Christian Fellowship). I don’t know if this “need” is universal, or if it’s just me. Yes, I consider myself an introvert, but I’m not ashamed to admit that at times, I need a reassurance of my existence. Anyways, over time, I began to get to know the people there.

At the beginning of this year, I went to a student leadership retreat with IVCF. I’m not really sure why I went, but I’m very glad that I did. I finally saw God working at my campus. In the past, I confined God’s work to my church, my fellowship, my family, my friends, my education, etc. Then there was my campus, a place where I went just to get a degree. I knew there were Christian clubs and I knew friends who were leading Christian clubs (like CCF), but I never thought it was for me. To me, Christian clubs were just a place for people to hang out and fellowship. And since I got this at church, I didn’t feel like I needed more of it. But I’ve realized that it’s so much more than just fellowship or a community of believers. Being at IVCF showed me that God is actively working at SFU. Maybe I just never wanted to think about that before because that knowledge requires action on my part. Sure, there is a time for fellowship, but that’s just a small part of IVCF. For the most part, it is just using my time here at SFU to make God known. To share God’s love and challenge myself to live faithfully.

I know that is a very short explanation, but I hope you understood what I meant. In summary, I will miss SFU because of the friendships I’ve made and how exciting it is to see God working on my campus right now. I never thought I’d actually miss SFU until now. Maybe I’m not alone in this. Maybe everyone misses SFU a bit when they graduate. But for me, I will miss SFU because I’m leaving at such an exciting time.

I never expected to spend such a long time at SFU. But when I think back, I’m so glad I did. If I never went to Urbana, if I never did coop, if I never went on exchange, I would have graduated and would be working right now (maybe?). Yet I would have never experienced God’s work at SFU and would have never gotten involved in IVCF.

My final thoughts? Through my experience, university, and maybe even life, is really not just about working for a better tomorrow. It’s not about getting a good mark on your midterm or final, completing your assignments on time, getting a good job, making enough money for retirement, etc. I don’t mean that you should neglect those things. But as you can see from my experience, there are more imporant things. It’s about the friendships I’ve made and the people I’ve encountered. It’s about how you can live as God’s light no matter where you are.

When I think back, it is whenever I decide to leave my friends that I am saddened (i.e. graduating high school, leaving Leeds, and graduating from SFU). In high school, I was still naive, thinking I could keep in touch with friends after high school. But I’ve realized that relationships and friendships are formed intentionally or out of convenience. When you see someone consistently, you become friends and maybe even very close friends. You don’t need to be intentional because it is very convenient for you guys to meet (e.g. if you have the same classes, or attend the same fellowship/church). However, when distance separates you (even if someone is a half an hour drive away) and you don’t see them as often, people drift apart. Unless you are intentional and meet up with someone consistently, that friendship will weaken.You can’t say you are close with someone unless you meet with them often. There is always a time for studying or for learning something. If you fail, just try again! It really is not the end of the world. But friends come and go. It is a variable you cannot control. We only get a few years of university experience. I hope you spend it building up friendships and being a light on your campus.

I definitely have more to say on this topic (and a lot more topics). But recently I have been very busy with school and work. You don’t know how sad I am that I have not had a chance to post on wordpress until now!! Hopefully I can post again soon.

Oh, and who knows, maybe I’ll fail my classes this semester and won’t graduate until next year =p.

Carrie

//edit

This is partially what prompted this post:

Plus, I just got my final enrollment appointment email for the 2012 summer term :(.

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Resolution

As most of you may already know, I’m moving back to a life without Facebook. The reasons are numerous. Mostly it’s because it’s not my preferred method of communication. The friendships on Facebook don’t seem real to me. Maybe I just think too much. Sure, there are some advantages to Facebook. One of them being that it is the easiest way to keep in touch with people around the world. But there are other methods of doing that as well. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but the more you value a friendship, the more likely you will use a higher form of communication. Facebook, to me, is one of the lowest forms of communication. I value my friendships enough to want to work harder to use other forms. Such as email, texting, calling, mailing, etc. Whichever one is appropriate.

I actually never planned to have a new years resolution because it always seemed so pointless to me. Why does a resolution have to be made on new years? We can make one any day (I have at least). But it just so happened that when I created my Facebook event, my phone went crazy last night. Whatsapp messages, facebook notifications, google+ notifications, and texts all making different sounds. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I was very touched that you guys responded :). So my new years resolution is to keep in touch with as many of you guys as possible without using Facebook. It will be hard and I know it. I am terribly sorry if some of you fall through the cracks. That was not my intention. However, it will help tremendously if you guys shoot me an email or text once in a while.

This next year will be a big year as I graduate and as I take on more responsibility at church. I know I make mistakes. More often than I’d like to admit. And I know my mistakes may have affected or hurt others. I cannot change the past, but I pray that I’ll learn from them. I pray that my friendships will be meaningful ones.

Carrie

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After Darkness

The sun shining over darkness,
Melting of morning dew.
Release of yesterday’s sadness,
Start of tomorrow anew.

The plant rises above the soil,
New and innocent dreams.
Fed with rain, darkness, and toil,
Now standing to be seen.

Darkness dims and fades away,
To the rising of the sun.
The earth proclaims a better day,
Darkness has not won.

Originally I had a post for new years. I started writing it but I could barely sum up all that has happened into one post! So much has changed. I have changed. If I tried summarizing it, it would have been to vague. Also, there were some things I didn’t want to share publically :). So instead, here’s a poem I started recently about some recent events (yes that is intentionally vague). It just so happened to fit into the new years theme, so I finished it today.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

p.s. happy anniversary wordpress <3

Carrie

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What is Love?


Love, to me, is more than a word. It contains so many implications that I do not use it very often, if at all. I believe when a word is overused, it loses its meaning. Have you heard of “semantic satiation”? Me neither, until I found it on Google. Have you ever stared at a word long enough until it loses meaning and you begin to question it’s existence? That’s what sematic satiation means. Try reading this (as in every single word) quietly/in your head:

love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love

At least for me, the word “love” began to look strange.

Not convinced? I remember learning from micro economics about the law of diminishing returns, which states as we increase a factor of production, while other factors stay constant, there will be a point where the per unit increase in return decreases. In simplier terms, as we continue to get something we like, our happiness increases; but there is a point where the rate of increase begins to decrease. Or in more simplier terms, too much of a good thing often becomes boring. For example, when we are hungry, that first bite of food is amazing. However, as we continue to eat, we become full and don’t want it anymore. Or, remember your first trip to Disneyland or some other theme park. Amazing wasn’t it? But what if you went there every single day for a year? It would begin to be very boring. I’m sure you can come up with more examples.

My point is, I believe the meaning and use of the word “love” has been misused horribly. The fact that the words “what is love” reminds me of a song scares me.

This is love,

“If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

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.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13 TNIV

This is love,

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

1 John 3:16-18 TNIV

This is love,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another.”

1 John 4:7-21

This is love,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17 TNIV

This is love,

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:27-36 TNIV

There are some very good people in the world. People who go out of their way to help and care for others. Non-Christians who give just because they are kind hearted. But is that love?

Maybe you love someone who is very close to you, like your family. Someone who you would indeed die for. But is that love?

I believe that is care, sympathy, or kindness, a shadow of what love was meant to be, but I do not think that is love. You care for people for various reason. Because you admire them, because you pity them, because you want the best for them, etc. Do not get me wrong, that is a good thing. The world needs more kindness. But would you love someone who constantly spits in your face? Would you give up your whole life to serve them? Would you die for them?

What if that person hated your very being? What if that person didn’t want to have anything to do with you. Would you still love them?

I don’t believe humans are capable of this type of love, at least not by ourselves. God showed us what love is, not just by explaining it in 1 Corinthians, He lived it. Despite our disobedience, our faults, our sins, our unrepentant hearts, He still loved us because love is, first of all, unconditional. And as you might know, sin leads to death. Since we had no way of saving ourselves from this mess we’ve created, He came and died in our place so that we might live. He died a sinner’s death. He didn’t do this because we loved Him. No, we hated Him, but He loved us. This is love.

I do not believe we can truly love someone unless we know and understand how God loves us. Love is not a feeling, it is an action and a choice. For me, saying that you love someone means that you are willing to sacrifice your life for them. That no matter what they do, the love is unconditional. That no matter how many times you get angry or have to forgive, love endures. No ifs, ands, or buts. That I love them as much as God loves me.

I love because God loves me. I don’t even know how many times I’ve sinned, how many times I’ve hurt Him. Countless. Yet, regardless, He forgives me and welcomes me back with open arms. He runs to me. His love gives me the strength to love others. Because if He can love someone as disobedient as me, I can in turn love others.

Hopefully that makes sense. There may be some things I did not account for, so let me know what you think!

Carrie

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My Christmas List

So it’s that time of year again! No need for me to remind you guys since I’ve certainly been reminded by the TV, radio, internet, emails, etc. that this is the time for…shopping. Yes. Apparantly Christmas is the time for shopping. True, you go out and buy presents for other people and feel good about giving and receiving and all that. But why have we come to participate in such a ritual where we buy gifts for people when we don’t even know what they want in the first place. So we have a list of people we buy presents for, then we go shopping for them, think about what they would want. Think about it some more…then buy them chocolate or something just because it’s Christmas :). But I want you to stop and think. Why? Ok fine, the economy gets a boost. But why? To show people you care about them? That they’re important enough to get a present? You don’t need a present to show them that. Spend time with them on Christmas. Give them a call, a text. Mail a card. I might be too radical here I guess. There are several occasions where gift giving is okay, but many times it isn’t.

My point is, I don’t want anything for Christmas. I’m not being a grinch. It’s just that, first of all, I have gotten many gifts for Christmas. Very nice things. But the problem with me is I tend to be a packrat. I don’t throw things away. And if you’ve ever been in my room…yea…

Secondly, I have everything I need! I may want things, but those are things I can get myself. And if I can’t, then they’re too expensive for you to get anyways =p.

Thirdly, if you do care enough about me to give me a present (yay!!), then you’ll also care that I don’t want to be receiving gifts when that gift could’ve gone to a much better use. I’m talking about IJM, World Vision, or even UGM. I’d rather that money go to them and not me.

So, thanks for reading my Christmas list. :).

Carrie

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