Lead My Soul On Level Ground

Father, lead my soul on level ground.

Hold my hand where my heart grows faint.

And when the world about draws near,

To tempt and make its loves my muse,

To rend and fill my soul with dread,

Father, lead my soul on level ground.

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Salt and Light

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Today’s devotions brought with it some pretty cool thoughts.

Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth, but if we lost our saltiness, we would be fit only for throwing out. There are two things I noticed here – one, is that we would not be fit for Christ’s Kingdom if we didn’t have His flavor in our life. The second one is that the world really does see as fit to be thrown out, because we are different from them.

Jesus continues to say that we are the light of the world, and that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. The world rejects us, but they cannot ignore us when we have Christ’s light shining in and through us.

Therefore, we are to shine this light, so that those around us will see and turn to glorify God.

One thing my family has been learning about both in real life and also through one of our homeschool curricula is loving our enemies. This light we have is like a torchlight. Picture yourself on a campground at night. It’s dark, but you have a torch and you turn it on to help both you and your companions to find your way. This is like God’s light in us- we are not the source of the light, but we can control how we shine the light. We shine it, and anyone can see it, whether friends or enemies, and that connects to loving our enemies too – we help them just the same way we would a friend. Through these, we can turn those around us to glorify God because, a) people wouldn’t say we are producing the light, but that we have a torch – we have Christ- and, b) when we love our friends and enemies the same way, that stands out and turns people to the One who gives us strength to love as He loves.


What has God been showing you through His Word recently? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Thank You // US 2017

Dear friends,

It is with a heart full of gratitude and amazement at God’s goodness that I write to you. This past month, He has brought me on a wonderful adventure to the United States, and back. I would like to thank you ever so much for the part you played in helping me go on this journey, whether it be through prayer, supporting my fundraising efforts, providing advice, or hosting my family.

Most of you will know that the primary purpose of my trip was to attend the Institute for Cultural Communicators’ international convention, or iCon, participate in the Speak Freedom Forensics Championship, and train on a shift at the ICC Training Center.

The iCon week began with a bang as I met the larger part of the ICC community, amongst whom were seventy-eight Recommended Staff Assistants, divided into teams. I led a team with another student leader, and over the week, we learnt with our team about servant leadership, collaboration, teaching, communication, and approaching the world as a Communicator for Christ. We were privileged to share on the platform to the ICC families, college students, and workplace leaders present at the convention, as well as meet and interact with professors, and business and ministry leaders who taught us about different aspects of communication and leadership.

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​East Asian ICC members at iCon this year; Photo credits unknown

Training continued with the Summer Institute at the Training Centre, where I was part of a program called PREP. PREP stands for Pursuing Responsibility with Excellence Purposefully. Here I learnt about collaboration, creating cultures, peer mentoring, and stewardship through presentations I worked on with my team or helped critique, the chores we did, and by simply being immersed in an intergenerational culture and community that was conducive to development in each of these areas. I had opportunities in servant leadership studies, presentation coaching by mentors who had been there and done that, event coordination, preparation, and planning, as well as an unexpected chance to work with the media production team. During my hours down in the media room, I got to help create some of the pieces of media that ICC is producing, by learning to use a video editing software, as well as working with ICC’s Media Producer on an interview.

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My PREP team; Photo by Jessica Shepherd

This trip has far surpassed anything I expected to be able to experience. I have returned with a new understanding of community, leadership, and collaboration. The presentations I have watched and critiqued have helped me realize there is more to platform communication and teamwork than meets the eye.

During the trip home, my flight flew over Alaska, the Davis Strait, and Greenland. I didn’t know it, but halfway through a movie I decided to hit pause and peek outside. The contrast in lighting blinded me for a moment, but I was wowed by majestic peaks and crystalline rivers running through Alaska and rushing out to the Davis Strait. Enraptured, I kept watching, and as we approached Greenland, I saw little chunks in the sea, and upon looking closer, I realized they were icebergs. Still we flew on, and I saw my first snow, blanketing Greenland.

You helped me make this trip this summer, and God has used this to teach me so many things and show me so many wonders. Who would’ve thought I’d get to see my first snow during the summer months? The friends I’ve met and bonded with over this summer, and the leaders I’ve met, have made a deep impact on me that I know only God could have arranged.

And for that, I thank you. Thank you for praying, for contributing, and for being a part of this journey with me.

Blessings,

Charis Chen

Global Student Leader Council, Institute for Cultural Communicators

Note: I am in the midst of planning and preparing for my next step in ICC, which is to be a Student Instructor at 4:12, our first ever Malaysian event, to impact other students. If you would like to find out more, or if you desire to be part of this journey, whether through prayer or funding, please do drop me an email at charis.chen@iccinc.org.

Living in the Past Part 3

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This post is the last of a 3-part series on living in the past. Thanks for joining me faithfully on this series!

Are you someone who “lives” in the past? Someone who is sustained by memories of the past?

If so, you are not alone. Today I’ll be sharing more of the verses I found regarding living in the past, along with some quick insights. If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I highly encourage you to go ahead and read those as well!

 

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Dear friend,

Have you ever been in a situation where you know what is right but can’t seem to do it?

One of the hardest things that God has been teaching me to do recently is to put aside other things so that I can focus on Him. I am often guilty of cutting short or skipping my devotions so that I can get my schoolwork and chores done. I put so much into ministry I sometimes forget why I’m serving and Who I’m serving.

It’s a silent, yet common trap.

Yet, I want to encourage you today to relook at what you’re doing.

Focus on Him.

Think about why you do what you do. Does it distract or add to your relationship with God?

I’m not saying every little thing that isn’t related to reading the Bible and praying is wrong. I’m not saying you’re a bad person if you’re not thinking about God 24/7.

No.

Think about it this way. Finals are approaching- school is hectic. Your boss is demanding a lot- work is becoming crazier by the minute.

Working hard on those- yes, they actually have the potential to add to your relationship with God. But how?

Leave the past behind. Take the lessons you learnt from the mistakes you made. Focus on the strength that only our Heavenly Father can provide. And, as you see Him strengthening you to complete what you need to do, you grow to rely on Him more and more.

Yet, there are times when that simply doesn’t seem possible, because, where is God??? I can’t see Him!

Take heart! The biggest storms are often the ones that draw us back to God. I love this verse:

… because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your Holy One see decay.

~ Acts 2:27

You are loved by God. Repeat this with me, “I am loved by God!”

God loves you, and He will not abandon you. What you’re going through right now may be no laughing matter.

You may be wondering what on earth He’s trying to do. 

Dear friend, trust Him.

No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

~ 2 Timothy 2:4

We have a mission. We are Christ’s soldiers, and our job is not to get caught up with the things of this world, but rather to please God.

Let go of the past. Leave the mistakes behind. Look ahead. See what you can do for God.

Do you see that glimmer yet?

Now go catch it!

Much love,

Szen

 

Thanks for joining me on this series of Living in the Past! Do leave a comment below, or drop me a little note here to let me know what you enjoyed and what you would like to see in the future!

Living in The Past Part 2

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This post is part 2 of a 3-part series on living in the past. Stay tuned for more!

Are you someone who “lives” in the past? Someone who is sustained by memories of the past?

If so, you are not alone. Today I’ll be sharing more of the verses I found regarding living in the past, along with some quick insights. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, I highly encourage you to go ahead and read that as well!

And now for today’s post!

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As Christians, we sometimes view sorrow negatively, because we’re supposed to have the joy of the Lord, so why are we sorrowful?

I used to think like that too. I would hide my sad feelings when I was around others because it would make me a “bad” Christian girl. I still catch myself thinking that way. But during a recent meeting with some friends, we had a discussion on what it meant to mourn, and concluded that mourning can actually be good. But how so?

Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Think about that verse, then put it with 2 Corinthians 7:10. We realise that when we mourn for the same things that God mourns about, we are brought to repentance, salvation, and joy. However, we must be careful in discerning God’s heart, because unGodly grief brings death.

This is true in many contexts, and a literal example of unGodly grief resulting in death would be in the area of relationships. I have been conducting some research in the area of dating, and found that there is a high percentage of people who commit suicide (literal death) due to the grief caused by disappointments and hurts in relationships. Isn’t that tragic? If only we were to take a step back to prioritise God and seek and desire His will in our lives, we would be able to discern His heart in a clearer manner and not have to suffer from the wrong type of grief!

The importance of discerning God’s heart is further emphasised in 1 John 2:15-17.

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Discerning God’s heart and prioritising Him helps us to keep our eyes on Him, rather than lingering in the past. Something I’ve been learning recently is that sometimes, God takes things away so that we can focus more on Him. He takes best friends away so that we can learn to love them with a Godly, sisterly/brotherly love, and to teach us to rely on Him.

At church today, the pastor spoke of how sometimes, God withholds things because He loves us. John 11: 5-7 says this, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

Notice that John is saying that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and that’s why he stayed two more days. He has a divine perspective that we don’t have.

Don’t dwell on the past. Live in the present, but look to the future. Be encouraged because God has something better in store!

I’d like to share a final passage- a timeless reminder to myself of who I am and what I’m living for.

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And here’s a short excerpt from a journal:

When what was my life got taken away, God tried to show me that my life is Christ. I rejected it for so long, but now I realise that’s the lesson God wants me to learn. He wants me to focus on Him. Oh, how hard it is!

– C.C.

It’s not easy. But all things are possible through Christ Who strengthens us!

And I repeat:

Don’t dwell on the past. Live in the present, but look to the future. Be encouraged because God has something better in store!

Much love,

Szen ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in The Past Part 1

This post is part 1 of a 3-part series on living in the past. Stay tuned for more!

Are you someone who “lives” in the past? Someone who is sustained by memories of the past?

If so, you are not alone.

About a week ago, a friend and I had a chat, and our conversation led to us being people who use memories to drive us on, or in other words, living in the past. What does God say about living in the past? I wondered.

So, for the next few days, I looked up verses about remembering the past, and what I discovered was truly thought provoking for me!

The first passage I came across was Isaiah 43:18-19:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

God doesn’t want us to dwell on the past. He’s doing something right here, right now, and even though we might not be able to see it, He wants us to focus on what He is doing. We may be in a rough patch, struggling to cope with something, trying to cling on to what little hope there is left. Or maybe things are going great! What I find comforting about this verse is that God is saying that no matter what’s happening now, He’s has a greater plan and He’s going to make something beautiful.

Something else I discovered was that living in the past limits us. It holds is back from doing God’s will. It keeps us tied and doesn’t allow us to live to our full potential. Now, people have told me before, that you just need to put things behind you and keep going, or you will never get anywhere. But to find it in the Bible- that was a hard pill to swallow…

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

I realised that by living in the past, I was allowing myself to be distracted from discovering God’s plan for my life!

Today’s verse took me quite a while to understand.

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.                               Ecclesiastes 7:10

Why was it not wise? I decided to look up the Hebrew word for wise. 

The Hebrew word for wise is chokmah.

חָכְמָה

It means piety towards God (Job 28:28). When we ask why things used to be better, we are -and I won’t mince words- essentially not being grateful. It is disrespect towards God because we are not obeying His will and plan. Now, why do I say we are not obeying His will and plan? Simply because obeying requires cheerful willingness. 

And, I’ll say, I’ve been guilty a thousand times over of not obeying God’s will for me, going over how good things used to be, trying to manipulate things to go better, and wondering why God seemed inexistent at times. I’m trying hard to change.

It’s really hard, yes.

But I guess that’s why I need God’s grace 🙂

– Szen

What are your thoughts? Are you like me, someone who lives in the past? What do you do about it? Comment below⬇! I’d love to hear your thoughts!