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About Karen Huang

As a shy and timid child, Karen discovered the love of Jesus in the Bible storybooks of her school library. She immersed herself in reading and writing stories, learning that it was her faithful Savior who gives meaning to the story of every human being. Karen eventually became a book editor for many years. She has enjoyed helping develop books in both educational and Christian publishing. She is also a writer whose work has appeared in devotional books, literary anthologies, and inspirational books for women. Author of the book Letters to a Single Woman, Karen enjoys long walks, Spanish-Filipino architecture, reading about Singaporean culture, taking care of her cats, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

What Is That to You?

By |2024-06-30T02:33:22-04:00June 30th, 2024|

“Why do I get a strawberry lollipop when she has grape?” my six-year-old niece asked. My nieces and nephew taught me early on that children often compare what they’re given with what others receive. This means that as the doting aunt, I’d better exercise good judgment!

I too sometimes compare the things God gives me with those He’s given others. Why do I have this, and she has that? I ask God. My question reminds me of what Simon Peter asked Jesus by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had just given restoration and forgiveness to Peter for his previous denial of Him and was now telling him that he’d glorify God by dying a martyr’s death (John 21:15-19). Instead of answering yes to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, however, Peter asked, “Lord, what about [John]?” (v. 21).

Jesus answered, “What is that to you?” and added, “You must follow me” (v. 22). I believe Jesus would say the same to us. When He’s already given us direction in an area in our life, He desires our trust. We’re not to compare our path with that of others, but we’re to simply follow Him.

For more than thirty years, the apostle Peter followed God as a courageous leader of the early church. Historical records also show that he fearlessly embraced death under the evil Emperor Nero. May we too be steadfast and unquestioning in following God, trusting His love and direction.

New and Certain

By |2024-06-20T02:33:11-04:00June 20th, 2024|

For three years, apart from household necessities, Susan didn’t buy anything for herself. The Covid-19 pandemic affected my friend’s income, and she embraced a simple lifestyle. “One day, while cleaning my apartment, I noticed how shabby and faded my things looked,” she shared. “That’s when I started to miss having new things—the sense of freshness and excitement. My surroundings seemed tired and stale. I felt as if there was nothing to look forward to.”

Susan found encouragement in an unlikely book in the Bible. Written by Jeremiah after Jerusalem fell to Babylon, Lamentations describes the open wound of grief suffered by the prophet and the people. In the midst of grief’s despair, however, lies sure ground for hope─God’s love. "His compassions never fail,” Jeremiah wrote. “They are new every morning” (3:22-23).

Susan was reminded that God’s deep love relentlessly breaks through anew each day. When circumstances make us feel there’s no longer anything to look forward to, we can call to mind His faithfulness and look forward to how He’ll provide for us. We can confidently hope in God, knowing our hoping is never in vain (vv. 24-25) because it’s secured in His steadfast love and compassion.

“God’s love is my ‘something new’ each day,” Susan says. “I can look ahead with hope.”

Mercy through Pizza

By |2024-05-31T02:33:15-04:00May 31st, 2024|

The invitation for dinner from my church leader Harold and his wife warmed my heart, but also made me nervous. I’d joined a college Bible study group that taught ideas that contradicted some of the teachings in the Bible. Would they lecture me about that?

Over pizza, they shared about their family and asked about mine. They listened as I talked about homework, my dog Buchi, and the guy I had a crush on. Only later did they gently caution me about the group I was attending and explain what was wrong with its teachings.

Their warning took me away from the lies presented in the Bible study and close to the truths of Scripture. In his letter, Jude uses strong language about false teachers, urging believers to “contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3). “In the last times there will be scoffers . . . who divide you . . . and do not have the Spirit” (vv. 18-19) However, he also calls on believers to “be merciful to those who doubt” (v. 22) by coming alongside them, showing compassion without compromising the truth.

Harold and Pam knew I wasn’t firmly grounded in my faith, but instead of judging me, they first offered their friendship and then their wisdom. May God give us this same love and patience, using wisdom and compassion as we interact with those who have doubts.

Called and Equipped by God

By |2024-05-18T02:33:11-04:00May 18th, 2024|

“Your job for the international book expo,” my boss informed me, “is to organize an onsite radio broadcast.” I felt fear because this was new territory for me. God, I’ve never done anything like this, I prayed. Please help me.

God provided resources and people to guide me: experienced technicians and broadcasters; plus reminders during the expo of details I’d overlooked. In retrospect, I know that the broadcast went well because God knew what was needed and prompted me to use the skills He’d already given me.

When God calls us to a task, He also equips us for it. When He assigned Bezalel to work on the tabernacle, Bezalel was already a skilled craftsman. God further equipped him by filling him with His Spirit and with wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and all kinds of skills (Exodus 31:3). God also gave him an assistant in Oholiab, as well as a skilled workforce (v. 6). With His enablement, the team designed and made the tent, its furnishings, and the priests’ garments. These were instrumental in the Israelites’ proper worship of God (vv. 7-11).

Bezalel means “in the shadow [protection] of God.” The craftsman worked on the project of a lifetime under God’s protection, power, and provision. Let’s courageously obey God’s prompting as we carry out a task to completion. He knows what we need, and how and when to give it─or even withhold it.

God Knows Our Needs

By |2024-04-14T02:33:05-04:00April 14th, 2024|

Lando, a jeepney (a form of public transport in the Philippines) driver in Manila, gulped down coffee at a roadside stall. Daily commuters were back again after the Covid-19 lockdowns. And the sports event today means more passengers, Lando thought. I’ll get back lost income. Finally, I can stop worrying.

He was about to start driving when he spotted Ronnie on a bench nearby. The street sweeper looked troubled, like he needed to talk. But every minute counts, Lando thought. The more passengers, the more income. I can’t linger. But he sensed that God wanted him to approach Ronnie, so he did.

Jesus understood how difficult it is to not worry when we’re unsure of how our needs will be met (Matthew 6:25-27). So He assures us that our heavenly Father knows exactly what we need (v. 32). We’re reminded not to be anxious, but to trust Him and devote ourselves to doing what He wants us to do (vv. 31-33). As we embrace and obey His purposes, we can have confidence that our Father “who clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire” will provide for us according to His will—just as He provides for all creation (v. 30).

Because of Lando’s conversation with Ronnie, the street sweeper eventually prayed to become a believer in Christ. “And God still provided enough passengers that day,” Lando shared. “He reminded me my needs were His concern; mine was simply to follow Him.”

A Heart for Christ

By |2024-03-03T01:33:06-05:00March 3rd, 2024|

As long as you keep your mouth closed, I told myself, you won’t be doing anything wrong. I’d been outwardly holding back my anger toward a colleague after misinterpreting things she’d said. Since we had to see each other every day, I decided to limit communication to only what was necessary (and retaliate with my silent treatment). How could a quiet demeanor be wrong?

Jesus, however, said that sin begins in the heart (Matthew 15:18−20). My silence may have fooled people into thinking all was well, but it wasn’t fooling God. He knew I was hiding a heart filled with anger. I was like the Pharisees─“who gave honor with their lips, but their hearts [were] far from [God]” (v. 8). Even though my outward appearance didn’t show my true feelings, the bitterness was festering inside me. The joy and closeness I’d always felt with my heavenly Father were gone. Nurturing and hiding sin does that.

By God’s grace, I told my colleague how I was feeling and apologized. She graciously forgave me and, eventually, we became good friends. “Out of the heart come evil thoughts” (v. 19). Jesus says that the state of our heart matters because evil residing there can overflow into our lives. Both our exterior and interior matter.

When Jesus Stops

By |2024-02-27T01:33:29-05:00February 27th, 2024|

For days, the sickly cat cried, huddled in a box near my workplace. Abandoned on the street, the feline went unnoticed by many who passed it by—until Jun came along. The street sweeper carried the animal home, where he lived with two dogs, which were former strays.

“I care for them because they’re the creatures no one notices,” Jun said. “I see myself in them. No one notices a street sweeper, after all.”

As Jesus walked toward Jericho on His way to Jerusalem, a blind man sat begging by the roadside. He felt unnoticed too. And on this day especially, when a crowd was passing through and all eyes were focused on Jesus—no one stopped to help the beggar.

No one except Jesus. In the midst of the clamoring crowd, He heard the forgotten man’s cry. “What do you want me to do for you?” Christ asked, and He received the heartfelt reply, “Lord, I want to see.” Then Jesus said, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you” (Luke 18:41–42).

Do we feel unnoticed at times? Are our cries drowned out by people who seem to matter more than us? Our Savior notices those the world doesn’t care to notice. Call to Him for help! While others may pass us by, He’ll stop for us.

 

Growing Up in Jesus

By |2024-02-17T01:33:08-05:00February 17th, 2024|

As a child, I viewed grown-ups as wise and incapable of failure. “They always know what to do,” I’d think. “One day, when I’m grown-up, I’ll always know what to do too.” Well, “one day” came many years ago, and all it has taught me is that, many times, I still don’t know what to do. Whether it’s illness in the family, problems at work, or conflict in a relationship, such times have wrested all delusions of personal control and strength, simply leaving me one option─to close my eyes and whisper, “Lord, help. I don’t know what to do.”

The apostle Paul understood this feeling of helplessness. The “thorn” in his life, which may have been a physical ailment, caused him much frustration and pain. It was through this thorn, however, that Paul experienced God’s love, promises and blessings as sufficient for him to endure and overcome his difficulties (2 Corinthians 12:9). He learned that personal weakness and helplessness don’t mean defeat. When surrendered to God in trust, they become tools for Him to work in and through these circumstances. (vv. 9−10).

Our being grown-up doesn’t mean we’re all-knowing. Surely, we grow wiser with age, but ultimately our weaknesses often reveal how truly powerless we are. Our true power is in Christ. “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10). Truly “growing up” means knowing, trusting and obeying the power that comes when we realize we need God’s help.

Persevering in Jesus

By |2024-01-13T01:33:23-05:00January 13th, 2024|

When I was studying in seminary years ago, we had a weekly chapel service. At one service, while we students were singing “Great is the Lord,” I spotted three of our well-loved professors singing with fervor. Their faces radiated joy, made possible only by their faith in God. Years later, as each went through terminal illness, it was this faith that enabled them to endure and encourage others.

Today, the memory of my teachers singing continues to encourage me to keep going in my trials. To me, they’re a few of the many inspiring stories of people who lived by faith. They’re a reminder of how we can follow the author’s call in Hebrews 12:2−3 to fix our eyes on Jesus who “For the joy set before him . . . endured the cross” (v. 2).  

When trials—from persecution or life’s challenges—make it hard to keep going, we have the example of those who took God at His word and trusted in His promises. We can “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (v. 1), remembering that Jesus—and those who have gone before us—was able to endure. The writer urges us to “Consider him . . . so that [we] will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).

My teachers, now happy in heaven, would likely say: “The life of faith is worth it. Keep going.”

My God Is Near

By |2023-12-18T01:33:22-05:00December 18th, 2023|

For over thirty years, Lourdes, a voice teacher in Manila, had taught students face to face. When she was asked to conduct classes online, she was anxious. “I’m not good with computers,” she recounted. “My laptop is old, and I’m not familiar with video conferencing platforms.”

While it may seem a small thing to some, it was a real stressor for her. “I live alone, so there is no one to help,” she said. “I’m concerned that my students will quit, and I need the income.”

Before each class, Lourdes would pray for her laptop to work properly. “Philippians 4:5–6 was the wallpaper on my screen,” she said. “How I clung to those words.”

Paul exhorts us to not be anxious about anything, because “the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5). God’s promise of His presence is ours to hold on to. As we rest in His nearness and commit everything to Him in prayer—both big and small—His peace “guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7).

“God led me to websites about fixing computer glitches,” Lourdes said. “He also gave me patient students who understood my technological limitations.” God’s presence, help, and peace are ours to enjoy as we follow Him all the days of our life. We can say with confidence: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (v. 4). 

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