choose

will you be remembered for the song of your heart or the screech of your life?

we all will leave a legacy that is determined by our daily emotional choices.*


pause right there.

pause, and think through what you’ve just read.

over the past month or so, i’ve been going through the “holy emotions – Biblical responses to every challenge” 30 day devotional plan on youversion by just joy ministries, and today i did day 30.

it’s a sobering thought – that the little emotions that flicker through me every moment of the day is building up a legacy. my legacy. but what’s beautiful about a relationship with God is that for every sobering thought, there is beauty that goes with it- comfort, truth, peace, joy… and the list goes on.

i’m reminded of laura story’s “grace”, where she sings of how God’s grace reigns despite discouragement, and how we are ultimately perfectly imperfect through His grace.

at times i may grow weak and feel a bit discouraged,
knowing that someone, somewhere could do a better job.
for who am i to serve You?  i know i don’t deserve You.
and that’s the part that burns in my heart and keeps me hanging on.

i ask you: “how many times will You pick me up,
when i keep on letting You down?
and each time i will fall short of Your glory,
how far will forgiveness abound?”
and You answer: “My child, I love you.
and as long as you’re seeking My face,
you’ll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace.”
You are so patient with me, Lord.

as i walk with You, i’m learning what Your grace really means.
the price that i could never pay was paid at Calvary.
so instead of trying to repay You, i’m learning to simply obey You,
by giving up my life to You for all that You’ve given to me.

– laura story, grace

one of the passages that came with today’s devotional was romans 8:26-39, and verses 37-39 stood out to me.

no, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. for i am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – romans 8:37-39

i have the power to overcome the negative emotions that satan tries to convince me that i’m deserving of. i have the power to strike down the lies that make me feel distant from God. i have the power to lay claim to the promises He has given me through His word, and to take hold of them as weapons in this war of powers and principalities.

i have this power, because i am more than a conqueror through the One who loves me and died on the cross for me.

this goes beyond the emotions of disappointment and discouragement- it reaches even to anger, frustration, and hatred. i am more than a conqueror against the giant of anger – i choose not to lash out in anger against someone who has provoked me. i am more than a conqueror against the giant of frustration – i choose not to hiss and pop when things just aren’t going right. i am more than a conqueror against the giant of hatred – i choose to love when things are hard, and to love when i’m the victim of hatred – because i’m not a victim, i’m a conqueror.

more than a conqueror. it’s been my mantra for the past two months or so – using it in balance, of course. another truth i’ve been loving is that satan is the true enemy – not an authority who’s hurt me or a peer who’s offended me or a circumstance that has discouraged me. the true enemy is satan, but greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.

today, i have the power to choose between laying claim of God’s truth and dwelling in His joy amidst circumstances that may not be ideal, or yielding to satan’s lies and wallowing in self-pity, unforgiveness, or frustration. i have that power because i am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me.

and so do you. you, too, have that power. you have that victory already won.

will you take hold of it?

today, choose joy. choose a heart of praise no matter your circumstances. take heart and find confidence in the triumph that the King of your heart has already won. choose a life of praise and glory to His name.

will you be remembered for the song of your heart or the screech of your life?


*”holy emotions – Biblical responses to every challenge” – 30 day devotional plan, day 30, from just joy ministries

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Are You Blessed?

Are you blessed-

Hello world!

I’m so sorry I’ve been practically absent for the longest time! Y’all are going to need to bug me for posts! Like, seriously!

So, on to trying to put thoughts into words…

(sidetrack: I really really wanted to call this post “Looking for Trouble”- and you’ll see why pretty soon- but decided against it :D)

This post has been sitting in my drafts for eternity now, though it really is just a simple thought I’d like to share.

Think of your greatest achievement.

It comes with sacrifice, doesn’t it?

Now think of the greatest blessing you’ve received.

You probably see where I’m leading up to now – blessings and trials come hand-in-hand.

They say that God’s light shines brightest in the darkest hours – just like stars – and it doesn’t differ with blessings. The greater the fight, the greater the struggle, the greater the blessing.

Often, when we feel dry and seek His blessing (although He has been blessing us all the while!), it’s a signal of some rainy days ahead.

Quite some time back, my pastor preached a sermon on blessings, and it really struck me when he said something along the lines of this: “Be careful when you seek His blessing, because when you’re looking for blessing, you’re really also looking for trouble.”

So, yes – live life fully and embrace the blessings – knowing fully that this walk with God is also going to be one where we seemingly look for trouble.

smelly fish

by Julian Merrow-Smith

when was the last time you took time to think about how much your mom loves you?

if you eat fish often enough, you’ll know that fish don’t always smell good- especially their stomachs. my family usually gets our fish from my hometown, where my granddad gives us small fish that he divides into packets for individual meals. in my family, my mom is the expert on eating fish, which means to say that she is a pro at getting all those small bones out of the way. however, it also means that when we get a foul-smelling fish belly, usually she tackles it so we don’t have to. unless, of course, all the fish smell bad. then we split the job.

tonight, mom was having a little bit of a rough time and cried over dinner. we ate in silence and i tried to be understanding. there was fish, and halfway through the meal, mom gave me half of her fish, already deboned.

oh, i thought to myself, she’s trying to help me eat faster so we can get to that last fish that’s still in the pot. sometimes, mom gives me some of her fish when my deboning is going a little slow. she’s having a hard day- i’ll be nice by giving her the other half of my fish then, i thought.

and so i did. but she insisted on returning it to me, disregarding my attempts to persuade her to take the fish. finally, she said, “i don’t want you to get the one at the back (in the kitchen).”

it dawned on me. the one in the pot wasn’t going to smell good. and it was then i was reminded of how much my mother loves me. even though she was having a hard day, she was thinking of me, and did what she could so i wouldn’t have to struggle to eat a fish that didn’t smell the best.

it’s not every day that i get to know that mom is having a hard time. a mother’s struggles are often silent, and her battles often go unnoticed amidst all the things that are happening for those under her care. yet moms are the ones who see needs and meet them. she sees problems and works to solve them. she sees people who aren’t the most lovable, yet chooses to help them- to love and care for them faithfully. and all too often, we take this angel for-granted. all too often, i take her for granted.

if you’re reading this now, i encourage you to just take a moment to think about your mother. think about her love for you, and then show it. give her a hug, write her a note, make her a drink, send her a letter, give her a call, take her out for a meal- do what it takes to show that you love her too, and that you appreciate her labor of love.

i’m going to do the same.

i’ll have to admit, smelly fish aren’t the best, but for a lesson learnt on love, i think it’s worth many more fishes.

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!