they would speak a thousand things

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What Defines You?

who are you 2It is interesting how as college students, and even graduate students, we characterize each other by our majors. I think we put each other and ourselves into the box of our major; we major restrict ourselves, in a sense. I do it constantly; it’s sort of the culture of our time, I suppose. We see an English major and decide that all she is is brainy and nothing more; a math major is constantly referred to whenever mathematical issues come up, even if it’s something simply like dividing the bill between a few people; and a person with a science major must be Asian because only Asians are smart enough, right? I think this stereotypical thinking limits us in how we see others’ potential, and inhibits our perspective of our own abilities. I am not just a literary scholar; I love music and singing, art and accents, world travel and camping in my backyard, the physiology of sight, etc, etc. I could go on forever about my interests, because they are wide and numerous. But for some reason, the college generation today boxes themselves in by talking about and thinking of people as only one thing. We let our major give us our identity, rather than allowing our major to contribute to our already full and diverse identities. Everyone has many interests, but unfortunately for us, the college culture trains us to see only one: whatever we majored in. I’m sure these constraints fade as time goes on, perhaps you get a job in a completely different field than what your degree is in, or you begin a family and become even more distanced from studies that were relevant to you in college, or maybe you just cultivate a full life as an adult that is filled with many hobbies and interests, rather than being tied to one thing in general, as college students typically are. Nevertheless, this constrictive thinking exists in our culture, and I think it’s hindering our ability to branch out and try new things!

what defines you If the culture and my friends say that since I’m an English major, I should do something concerning writing, that’s all well and good. However, nowadays, the message we receive is not “you majored in English so you’re equipped for a job in the English field” but rather “you majored in English so that’s all you are good at and if you try to do something different or anything else besides that, you will fail, because you’re an English major.” This message is crazy in light of the fact that every year people graduate from college and get a job that has nothing to do with their major because the economy sucks and they can’t get any other job or because they’re interested in that thing in addition to what they majored in. The point is that we should not limit ourselves, and thus set ourselves up for failure before we have even begun, by thinking that our majors and college degrees define us. No, they shape us, teach us, grow us, and certainly open our eyes to new things which interest us (hopefully), but our major is not all that we are! Especially since we as Christians have Jesus, we need to find our identity in Him over anything else, and then out of that core identity, we have interests and desires which flow into our personality and shape/hone who we are over the course of our lives. Your identity is not all about your major, and we shouldn’t make it so. Our culture needs to break the bonds of this closed-minded type thinking to allow for growth and change in the individual members and the society as a whole.

how do you define yourself

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One Direction

One direction - dare to dream When I originally was thinking about the idea of why God made us with the need to focus on one thing at a time to be effective and productive back in July 2012, the boy band called One Direction was not really popular, at least not among my college-aged friends. But I put it on hold to post because I knew I had more to say about this topic, and could probably write forever about lots of things in the Bible. However, I figure now is the perfect time for this, because this issue is so relevant and this band is totally dominating the teenage-girl music charts right now!

One direction - bus and steps

So, join me as we concentrate on our One True Direction: getting closer to the heart of Jesus.

one way jesus 2

Just like we can only physically look in one direction at a time as a result of how our eyes are set in our heads, so spiritually, we can only look one way at a time. In this sense, we have one-track, or tunnel-vision. Some say moms have eyes in the back of their heads, but the reality is that they really only have one pair of eyes and are just very observant concerning the safety and conduct of their young children.

What would it be like if you could see multiple things – look in multiple directions – at the same time? I think it would be not only confusing, but very unfocused. Your life would lack clarity as your intellect and attention was constantly split in two (or more) places.

Are you overwhelmed by this picture? I sure am.

Are you overwhelmed by this picture? I sure am.

I think God made us with limited physical vision to not overwhelm our senses (of which he gave us an overabundance in FIVE of them!) but balance our awareness of the world around us. Sight is clearly important to Jesus in the New Testament, like when he heals two blind men in Matthew 20 and the blind man in John 9. Jesus even says in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”

Jesus turns his sights (pun intended) to our spiritual eyes as well. In Matthew 6:22-23 he says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Clearly, eyes are incredibly important to our spiritual health! God purposefully gave us spiritual tunnel-vision so that would could focus and put all our efforts, determination, faith and trust in Him as we seek that one thing. One goal at a time is not a narrow view of life. I think it is a very wide view: it allows one to complete the task at hand adequately by focusing all energies on that one thing without distractions. Thus, just like physically, if you are looking down, necessarily by definition, you cannot see what is above you. Now the question comes: if we have only one point of view, where do we look?

Jesus answered, i am the way

My answer is to God, the One who sees all and knows all! Where better to find the right direction to look than by asking the One who knows everything?! We are called as Christians to make prayerful and wise decisions concerning the direction we pursue in our lives. And sometimes, even if we think it’s the right one, God might tell us to go a different way. I personally take comfort in the fact that if I’m not going in the right direction, He will gently guide me to the right one.

Yet one place where we often get stuck as Christians is when we think we know better than God does about where we should be heading. Since He gave us the ability to choose which way we want to go, we always have the freedom to run in the opposite direction than where He intends for us. But one of my favorite things about God is that He is relentless. He will never, never, ever stop pursuing you, and he certainly will never give up on you. So when we stumble upon the wrong way on accident or run away from God out of rebellion, the good news is that He won’t ever leave you and is going to tenderly guide you back in the right direction, no matter what. And the good news is that if you get lost, there is only one right direction to turn your focus towards: Jesus. He’s the guide post to focus your life around, and He’s got the map and directions to life, since He created it all!

[but as you begin your journey towards our Savior Jesus Christ, enjoy more photos of the One Direction boys. At the very least, they can harmonize and don’t have acne.]

One direction faces

One direction sailor outfits

SAILOR outfits?! I can’t help but love this.

Jesus has got that “One Thing” for you: Salvation!

Review of my blog in 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 16,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Beauty from Ashes

A few months ago, I sat around a campfire staring at the flames while toasting marshmallows with 14 friends at our last Growth Group (Bible study) meeting of the school year. I have always loved fire. I grew up camping with my family and am used to having a camp fire nearby to cook over and keep warm, but mostly to toast marshmallows to a perfect golden brown for s’mores (a small but passionate hobby of mine). However, I have not been able to go camping with my family or anyone for a long time. Thus, sitting around a small fire in Steph’s backyard with these few friends with whom I had started to get close was an immensely pleasurable experience for me. We talked and laughed, played a few worship songs and enjoyed each others’ company one last time as a group before finals brought the school year to a close, before seniors graduated and moved on to the next phase of their lives. All the while, I studied the flames as they gradually waned from the strong, bright yellow-white flames into smoldering, red-hot coals, and finally died out, leaving cold grey ash in the bottom of the pit.campfire 2

Just as gradually as the flames diminished, I began to think over my past struggles and the different phases of pain and growth I have gone through in the recent past. As we talked, I thought over the entire process of the fire, from dry wood lit by a small spark, fanned into a blazing flame that gradually got smaller, yet somehow hotter until its fuel was finally depleted and it died out. As I turned this metaphor of the flames as a representation of trials in our lives over in my mind, I thought of how my struggles with self-harm started innocently enough – an accident provided the tiny spark which would ignite a long, raging battle inside and outside of me.

flicker of light

Yet once the spark was established, the winds of adversity and the enemy’s lies fanned into flame that which without further provocation might have easily fizzled out into nothingness.

Things steadily got hotter – my battle with lies from the enemy, self-hatred and cutting incrementally got worse until one day I woke up to discover how far deep I had already gone – without realizing it along the way. Like the flames, things increasingly got hotter and hotter; when the outer flames of self-injury seemed to die down, that was when the fire was in its hottest state: burning-hot coals.  During that time, encountering torturous thoughts of temptation, extreme insomnia, and experimentation with other forms of self-injury occurred daily. I cycled through hateful thoughts towards myself, my life and everything about me, hurting myself while abhorring it, and then loathing myself for allowing myself to do it once again, finally coming full circle to harm yet again.

embers

From my life and upon hearing other peoples’ testimonies of living through hardship in their lives, I have come to the conclusion that the cliché “the darkest hour is just before the dawn” is actually often true. It certainly was in my case. The coals are the hottest stage of the fire, and everyone knows that after they cool down, they are reduced to a dull gray ash. Some may argue that the smoldering coals would be the “darkest hour” part of the fire; the time when hardship is at its height, temptation at its strongest, and pain at its most intolerable. Yet in my experience, although hardship, temptation and pain are inevitable truths in the coals stage, it is not the stage containing the “darkest hour.” Perhaps surprisingly to some, the darkest hour is in fact the ashes stage which immediately follows the coals.

ash

After the heat has tempered and smoke signals the demise of the fire, what remains in the fire pit are the cooling ashes. This is the point at which ambition, courage, and most importantly hope begin to die out. Whilst the literal fire dies and turns to ash, defeat replaces dreams, pain overcomes faith, despair conquers hope. In short, this is the dying stage. For me, it was a literal death. After enduring the hell-on-earth experience of the coals, I lost all desire to live and decided death was the next and only option for me. This was my ashes stage. But the amazing fact that I am here writing this means that my life didn’t stay in the ashes stage. Obviously, I didn’t die, though I tried so hard, at best I only came very close.

But guess what: there’s good news.

you are more than the mistakes you've made 2According to the Bible, what rises from the ashes is not dead at all, it is Beauty. As in my case, it takes a lot of time and hard work to rise from the ashes changed, made new, and beautiful. But it can be done, when you give your whole heart and control over to Jesus accept His forgiveness and allow him to break your chains, bind up your wounds and bring His brilliant light into your dark life. freedom

Jesus takes your ashes upon himself and in return gives you His crown, His joy, His strength and His beauty. His love overwhelms everything else if you only let it.

The Year of the LORD’s Favor

1      The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2       to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

~Isaiah 61:1-3

because of jesus i am free

The whole journey of transformation has many stages, but the Ashes turned to Beauty step is, in my opinion, the most vital. You can choose to stay in the ashes stage, miserable, broken and bound. Or you can choose freedom. Only Jesus can break you free from your past and make you totally and completely new. All you have to do is choose him. I did; and He has changed my heart and given me life again. Will you choose him too?

forget the past!

Costa Rica Day 1 cont’d & Day 2: The Word is Light

 

Day 1 continued:

I suppose I should pick up from where I left off in my last blog, which means I’m back-tracking a little to finish off what happened on Day 1.

Since the plane took off late from Houston, we didn’t arrive in Costa Rica about 40 minutes late, and by the time I got through customs and grab my checked bag from baggage claim, it was 3pm. I went out and Ruth was there waiting for me with a sign that has my name on it, like she said she would. As we drive home, I look through the car window to see the mountains surrounding the busy, overcast and humid city. All plant life that I can see is lush and green, and even here in the developed parts of town, there are tons of public parks with no color but green adorning their landscapes.

We get to the house, and Ruth shows me my room, gives me a tour of the house, and introduces me to the other girl renting a room here, named Lily. She is from Germany, working at the German Embassy here in San José, and speaks not only German and Spanish, but pretty good English as well. I want to connect more with her, and have her show me around a bit, but this weekend and coming week her family is here visiting, so her free time will be devoted to them. The 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms monopolize the majority of the space in the house, but there is also a small kitchen, laundry room, large open combined dining and living area, and small backyard patio with a table and chairs outside. Along with Ruth and her tenants, her sons Pedro and Oscar and her daughter Graciela live at the house. As I unpack, Ruth makes me a pancake for dinner (I haven’t eaten much in the last 16 hours or so) and some coffee – black. I am still unsure about the food here, and I really do not want to be sick on my first night, so I decline the offer of milk in my coffee until further notice. I’m also not sure about the water, since I’ve been to Mexico and know it’s definitely not safe to drink the tap water there. But later, when I am thirsting for liquid and have a headache from dehydration, I try a sip of the water and don’t get sick. I drink a whole glass and my stomach feels fine, so I decide the tap water at the house is perfectly safe for me to drink (haha). I take a much needed shower after the long day I’ve had, I decide to just go to bed because I’m exhausted.

 

 

 

Day 2 – Saturday, July 7th:

I started writing everything that’s happened down in my journal partially to help me remember this experience as best as I can, and also because I have so many thoughts and emotions coursing through my brain that I have to get them out somehow in order to calm down and organize my what is going on inside of me. I guess I needed some rest, because I slept 10½ hours, when usually I sleep about 6. My room doesn’t have a window or anything, so it gets really stuffy and hot, especially at night. I took another shower this morning because I was so sweaty, then mostly hid in my room all day, spending lots of time freaking out about being here and how scary it is. You don’t expect things to be so hard when you go on an adventure, but so far, this experience has been a difficult one for me. I feel alone and purposeless here, even though I know it isn’t true. The enemy attacks my mind and plays on my vulnerable emotions, and it’s a battle to remember that I’m not alone because God promises He will NEVER leave me (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5) and that it’s okay to be scared because it is a new place and I’m still adjusting. I just cannot stay in that frightened mindset forever. I have to put on my armor, take captive every thought, and fight back because this is a war we’re fighting against Satan! I have my Bible with me, and decide to follow a “read through the Bible in a year” guide so I would have a suggestion of where in my Bible to read each day. I read both the English and Spanish translation, in my head and out loud for an hour tonight before I went to bed, and I realized that I’ve been really hungry for the word.

For various reasons since school ended and I came home for summer break, I have not spent much time talking to God or reading His word. Of course I know how important seeking after God and staying in communication is with Him because I’ve had to depend on and trust in Him for everything – even my very breaths each moment – when I was at Mercy. But tonight was a really clear reminder for me tonight of how imperative it is to stay spiritually fed by God’s word – through going to church, praying continually, and reading and studying the Bible on your own. Unfortunately, we humans are fallible and often forget even the most important things. I have heard that most people only use 2% of their brain’s capacity. That isn’t because they are stupid, but I believe it’s a function of the fall. Our brains are limited in their understanding now, even though God designed us for so much more.

I could write a whole lot on light and darkness, because it is covered extensively in the Bible; but I’ll try to keep it short for now in order to make my point. God’s Word is a powerful thing; keep it ever present in your mind and hidden in your heart. In Psalm 119:105 the writer says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (ESV). The Psalmist says right here that God’s word lights his path. We are constantly surrounded by darkness in this crooked and twisted generation (Philippians 2:15). We cannot possibly see anything clearly – especially the path upon which we walk each day, without illumination in the blackness. There are tons of verses in the Bible about light and darkness!

In Luke 11:33-36 Jesus said, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” In chapter 1 of John, it says that “the Word became flesh,” referring to the fact that Jesus came to earth in a human body. In addition to the written word of God that we have in the Bible, according to John’s account, Jesus is also the Word of God. This means that the word of God is our light, and without knowing the written word and knowing Jesus himself personally, we cannot see clearly! This is why God’s word is so essential to our daily survival.

So I want to encourage you to remind yourself however you can – seriously, put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, write it on your calendar every day, set up an alarm on your phone – to stay in communication with God throughout the whole day, every day. Even this is a challenge sometimes, but it God’s call to us to be faithful and diligent in our faith. In Proverbs 8:17, Wisdom is speaking and says “I love those who love me, and those who diligently seek me find me” (ESV). We only gain wisdom, and by extension, intimate communion with God, when we diligently seek him. It does take work, but it’s worth every bit of the effort that you put into it – I promise.

Costa Rica Day 1: Flight Troubles

To say the least, the first day of my trip has already been an adventure.

This being the first time I have ever been on a plane by myself, and only my third flight experience in my life, I was pretty nervous as I stepped through the security checkpoint and waved goodbye to my family standing behind the gate. I felt confident enough, remembering what to do from my 2 past experiences with flying and being able to easily follow directions on the clearly marked signs in the airport; little did I know what awaited me when I reached my gate. My plane is scheduled to leave at 12:35am, July 6th, and I go through security over an hour before then, so I should have plenty of time to find the gate and wait until boarding, right? How very wrong I was. When I got my boarding pass, they told me Gate 87, which of course is the furthest from where I was. I followed the signs, and passed some people waiting for their flights around Gates 79 and 80. But the airport is far too empty for this time of night. I always thought that airports were open 24/7, because there are constantly flights coming and going from different time zones in places all around the globe. But the silence is almost uncanny at 11:30pm on a Friday night. I finally get down to 87 (I never realized how huge airports really are!) and there is absolutely no one around. Not even someone who works for the airline to ask if I am in the right spot. I find an Arrival/Departure board and my flight is listed for Gate 75, though I double checked with the lady who gave me my boarding pass that it was Gate 87. Naturally, I am confused by this, but having never flown alone before, I paced around for a bit talking to myself before I figured out what I was going to do. That was mistake #1. I finally decided to find an information desk or something to triple-check at which gate my plane was actually flying out of. Incredibly, since there is hardly anyone else around, the information desk has a long line. I wait and wait; finally it is my turn at 12:10am. The lady checks my flight number and says they changed the Gate to 75. So the Departure board was correct. She says I might still be able to make my flight. I run all the way to Gate 75 and miraculously they are still boarding.

I finally get on the plane and find my seat…but when I go to put my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, there is no room. In fact, there is no room in the overheads anywhere in the cabin. Another guy sitting behind me says we have to take our bags to the front. When I bring my bag, a flight attendant puts a label on it and says that they are going to check my bag all the way to Costa Rica. There are three major problems with this. 1) My computer is inside that bag and it will get totally decimated if it is stuck under the plane with hundreds of other bags and then transferred to another plane and flown to Costa Rica. 2) I have a layover in Houston, Texas and need things that are in that bag. 3) I already have a checked bag that was free to check, so if they check another bag, I will have to pay the fee for it. Mistake #2 was letting them take my bag without taking a moment to think the situation through. As the flight attendant gives me the receipt, the fact that I won’t get my bag back until I reach Costa Rica, and that there is a very real possibility of my computer being destroyed when I get it back, doesn’t quite register in my brain until the plane is taking off. I don’t sleep on the plane so when I get in to Houston I am more than exhausted, hungry, worried, and sad. I call my mom and she helps me make a game plan to go to the information desk and find out how to get my bag back before they transfer it to the other plane and it is truly irretrievable until Costa Rica. Thankfully, I have 5 hours in between my two flights, so I have a little time to sort things out before I have to abandon my efforts and resign myself to seeing my bag in Costa Rica.

40 minutes after landing, I am 2 stories down, outside security telling this whole sob-story to Robin, the baggage claim representative. She says she will help me, if she can, and asks what it looks like. Unfortunately, it looks like every other bag that circulates through airports: a black and grey backpack. But I remember that at the last minute before we left home, I needed a tag with my name on it to identify my luggage, so my dad put the ugliest blue and yellow flip flop tag on my backpack. I tell this to Robin, and she goes to look for my bag. She comes back 20 minutes later with nothing, but says there is one more option, if we catch the guys who transfer the bags and see if they have it. She leaves them a message and shows me where to sit if they have it and bring it out for me. Surprisingly, Robin calls my name over the intercom just 15 minutes later. When I reach her office once again, there is my backpack on the floor! I am astonished, and ask how she found it. She says she went out to look one more time at the bags, and it was buried on the very bottom of a pile of luggage; the only way she knew it was mine was that ugly flip flop tag.

After checking my computer’s wholeness and thanking her a lot, I joyously return upstairs to go back through security and get some food before I find my connecting flight gate. To be on the safe side, I double check this flight’s Gate number with the info desk, and it hasn’t changed.

I still have about an hour and a half before my flight from Houston to Costa Rica, so I get food, coffee, and water and set off to find the gate. It is easy, though a far walk, to find the gate, and now all I have to do is eat and wait. Fortunately, this second boarding goes quite a bit smoother, and I have no trouble grabbing my mp3 player and book from my bag before putting it in the overhead cabinet. However, while the boarding was smooth, the take off process was not. However, due to complications with baggage getting loaded on the plane without the people to whom the baggage belonged on board, the airline decided to unload the baggage and leave it in Houston. Thus, an hour after the original scheduled departure time, the plane takes off from Houston, bound for exotic San José, Costa Rica. I try to sleep on the plane, but a combination of nervous shaking and excitement, food churning in my stomach and a pounding headache keep me from any restful sleep.

Finally, after what seems like forever in the air, the plane lands at Juan Santamaria airport in Costa Rica, around 2:40pm local time. Since Costa Rica is located in the same time zone as California is, the time is not much different, except that Costa Rica does not participate in daylight savings time, and is thus one hour ahead of CA time. So when it was 1:40pm for my California brain, it was actually 2:40pm in Costa Rica. We had left our house in Livermore for the San Francisco airport around 9:30pm on Thursday, July 5th, my first flight left at 12:35am and I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica at 2:40pm (1:40 CA time) on Friday, July 6th. Overall, I had been traveling for a grand total of 16 hours with almost no sleep and very little food.

To say the least, I was exhausted, but I had had an adventure within the first 24 hours of my Costa Rica trip. I wonder if the rest will be as interesting. We’ll have to wait and see.

Costa Rica national flag

The 5 Love Languages

Everyone at some point in their lives has read or heard of the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 passage on love being patient and kind, not envious or boastful, etc. It is often included in wedding vows, movies, and is a prominent topic of church sermons. But what is love, really? I am endeavoring to dig into this word and its implications for living life successfully a little deeper. I wish I could cover all the things the Bible says about love, but there is simply not enough time or room here. So I guess for now you will just have to be content with this small sampling, and eagerly await the publication of my book. To begin, take a look on your own at just a few places in the Bible that love is mentioned:

*Note: If you don’t have a Bible, biblegateway.com is a great online resource to look up any verse in the Bible, and multiple translations are available to choose from. My favorite is ESV*

  • John 15:12-17
  • Romans 12:9
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
  • 1 Corinthians 13:13
  • Ephesians 5:1-2
  • Colossians 3:14
  • 1 Peter 4:8
  • 1 John 3:16
  • 2 John 1:6

These are only a small sampling of all the Bible has to say about love. But I want to take a closer look at what love looks like in a practical way by going over the definitions of love and its meanings in Greek.

So what is love, exactly? Since I am an English major, I love definitions. My natural inclination was to look it up in my Merrian-Webster Collegiate dictionary, which says that love is:

  1. (n) A strong affection for one another arising out of kinship or personal ties; attraction based on desire; tenderness felt by lovers.
  2. (n) Unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another person
  3. (v) To hold dear, cherish
  4. (v) To feel passion, to caress, to feel affection or experience desire, etc…

But these are all very broad definitions, because the English language has only one word for all types of love! Greek, the original language of the New Testament, however, has at least 4 words for love: Eros, Storge, Phileo, and Agape. Over and over in the New Testament Phileo and Agape are used, which makes me think they are pretty important. Let’s take a look at their definitions as well.

  • PHILEO (verb): This is brotherly love in a sense of kinsmanship with those who you are not blood-related because love is from God (Romans 12:10, 1 John 4:7, 20-21). This is the “friendship” kind of love (Titus 3:15). However, like Jesus describes how the Pharisees love being noticed for their loud prayers in Matthew 6:5 (23:6) it can turn into a selfish love.
  • AGAPE (noun/verb): This is God’s kind of love! It is His nature, unconditional love. The interesting thing is that it is a conscious decision, a choice. As Christians, Christ calls us to love others with this kind of love, even our enemies, as Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-44 (Love God, Love yourself, Love others). Jesus commands us to love one another (Luke 10:27, John 15:12, 17) and exhorts us to “abide in love” so that our joy may be full and complete (John 15:9b-11). Yet since we are imperfect humans, we often don’t do this very well. The only reason we can love at all is because God first loved us because He is love (1 John 4:7-8, 10, 19). The truth of God’s love for us is proved by Jesus’ sacrifice, death and resurrection to pay the greatest price for our freedom from sin (John 15:13). That is HUGE!! Christ is the ultimate example of the unconditional agape kind of love. And God calls us as Christians to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1-2) and to be known as Christ-followers by others because of our love for one another and those outside the body of Christ (John 13:34-35).

 

The 5 Love Language:

(definitions ©TheFiveLoveLanguages by Gary Chapman)

 

 

#1: Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

#2: Quality Time

For those whose love language is spoken with Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

#3: Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

#4: Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

#5: Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Paul writes out in various letters in the New Testament that each of us has received different spiritual gifts which we can uniquely use to further the kingdom of God and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, 1 Peter 4:10-11). Similarly, there are various ways to express love with which each of us is uniquely gifted. There is an official love languages quiz from the book by Gary Chapman that is available on the book’s website (5lovelanguages.com). However, my theory is that some people may have a different dominant love language for receiving love versus giving love to others. So I took the model of the online quiz and rewrote the two different versions of it to test my theory. The first quiz is to determine in which love language you most like to receive love, and the second is in which language you most like to give love. Remember, this is not by any means an all-inclusive test, and your results can vary due to various factors such as your current relationship with God, your self-esteem, your position in life right now, your perceptions of what love should be or look like, and even your past experiences with love or the lack of love. Keep this in mind and know that loving is a life-long process; we will never love perfectly like God does, but we can always strive to learn to love better. That is the point of the quizzes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results:

What is your highest scoring (dominant) love language?

Do you agree with the results? Why or why not?

Do you agree that love is the most important thing in the world? Why or why not?

Some questions about love for you to ponder on your own:

  1. How can you follow the commandment to “be imitators of God” as Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1? How can you model your love for God, yourself, and others after the example of Christ’s love?
  2. Do you agree with 1 Corinthians 13:13 that when faith, hope and love remain, the greatest of them is love alone? Why or why not?
  3. Why are these different types of expression of love important and relevant within the body of Christ?
  4. How can you show agape love through these love languages to those not part of the body of Christ (non-christians)?
  5. What are some settings in your personal, professional or public life where you need to grow in or practice agape love?

– If you have a response to this post or any of these questions that you would like to share, please leave a comment and let me know! I would LOVE to hear! —

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