Marking 20 Years of Being Together

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I would like to write something as we celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary today. But really, I am at quite a loss for words. I can’t really describe what’s going on in my heart. I just feel a great sense of appreciation and gratitude towards Serene.

20 years is indeed a milestone in our relationship as man and wife. For sure, nothing is to be taken for granted and each moment we spend together is truly a gift from God, our Heavenly Father.

As I look back, I marvel at how the Lord brought us together … two people from very different backgrounds with very different interests. And yet, by His grace, our journey with one another has been one of new discoveries every step of the way. Who would have thought that we would one day be a couple in ministry? Who would have guessed that we would become a homeschooling family? Who would have imagined us having seven children?! Truly, with man, it is impossible; but with God, all things are possible 🙂 [Read “18th Wedding Anniversary: Music & Dance Wedding Video”]

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On this day, I give thanks and praise to God for Serene, for 20 years of His faithfulness in our marriage. I know that Jesus is to be my everything and my sufficiency (and He is), but I will be very honest to say that I cannot imagine life without Serene. She has been such a pillar of strength for me amidst the many things she has to look out for as a homeschool stay-at-home mother of seven children. Although the work of the ministry requires me to spend hours away from her and the family, since the Lord issued this full-time call to me way back in 2000, she has been 100% supportive. Serene may not be able to be with me physically all the time but there is never any doubt that she is with me, praying for me and fully behind me in whatever the Lord calls us to.

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My prayer is that our marriage will continue to grow, blossom and mature. We want our relationship to be an encouragement and a blessing to others. Above all, it is our desire that ultimately, our marriage and family life will always point to Jesus, to bring Him glory and to direct many others to Him and His kingdom.

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Blessed 20th Anniversary, Serene! Thank you for your love and support. I love you so very much! Without doubt, he who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22). Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all (Proverbs 31:29).

Read Serene’s blogpost on Building Up Moms: 20th Anniversary

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Building Marriages on the Rock: Saturday 14 Feb at Toa Payoh Methodist Church

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At the invitation of Toa Payoh Methodist Church, I have another opportunity to share “Building Marriages on the Rock” again; on Valentine’s Day, how apt! Not only that, this year, Serene and I celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary 🙂

Here are some comments after I taught across three weekends at Full Gospel Assembly:

“”Building Marriages on the Rock” was very helpful for my husband and I, as newlyweds. It reminded us of the many things we learnt at our premarital course. Lesson points preached over the three weekends should be taught over and over again, even to couples who are married for decades, because these are things that people tend to lose sight of. We forget what God’s design and purpose for marriage is and become more concern about how or what I could gain from the marriage. I was especially encouraged to think about the specific purpose of my marriage and inspired to paint a bigger (and ever growing) picture to include the church family (and all that belongs to Him). Henson lives out what it means to be the head of the union and we were so blessed to have him come share with us how this beautiful blessing is for everyone!” Evie Tham

“The sermon series, “Building Marriages on the Rock” was one of the best series I’ve heard on the subject of marriage.  The messages were well put together and Rev Henson presented very clearly the biblical view of marriage, God’s design and purpose for marriage and the roles of husband and wife.  I was challenged when he shared about the wife’s role as a helper to her husband.  The most powerful part for me was when the altar call was made for husbands and wives to come forward to renew their vows and ask each other for forgiveness.  When the busyness of life takes over especially when kids are added to the family, it is so easy to slip into the task mode and lose the intimacy as husband and wife.  When we came forward and Rev Henson led us to renew our vows, we felt the Holy Spirit rekindle and strengthen our love once again. That was a God moment that I would never forget.” Angeline Lim-Sundram

“The “Building Marriages on the Rock” series is one of the most inspiring and anointed teaching on marriage we have ever heard. It was scripture-based, clear, applicable, anointed and deeply insightful. As a husband, I was particularly struck about the segment about the role of a husband – that he was to be joined to his wife. That the man should take the lead/ initiative in going towards his wife – be it in conflict resolution, making decisions etc. I was also deeply moved by the covenantal picture of marriage – that our marriage is a covenant not unlike the covenant that God keeps with his people. Huge implications indeed. It has spurred me to think of what lengths am I going to to keep this covenant relationship strong!!” Jay Tan

“Having both grown up in church, ideas around what biblical or godly marriage looks like was not foreign to my fiancee Rachel and I. But we’re also a couple that believes God is always doing a new work and bringing a new word, and He’s never done with us. Some thoughts that spoke to us during this season, especially while we were planning for our wedding and married life together, included: The idea of a three-fold cord not being easily broken. It was a powerful picture of the beautiful meshing of three (God-woman, God-man, man-woman) relationships as well as the visual analogy of three threads being plaid together, and a great reminder that it is paramount for a husband and wife to prioritize their individual love relationships with the Lord alongside their relationship with each other. One other thing that struck me was the idea of a man leaving his father and mother and transitioning into his own position as leader of a new family and responsibilities to his wife. I believe anyone in this transition will face similar challenges that require navigating, both with self and with his parents, as a man “breaks away” from the previous family and all that comes with it in this very necessary and God-ordained process. The sharing from Building Marriages on the Rock gave me hope and deposited a very freeing word in my heart, giving me comfort that though it was a tough thing to navigate around, that these were necessary processes of change and that there was a growth process God was taking myself and my parents through. We truly serve a God who promises in His word that all things work together for good!” Dalton & Rachel

TPMC Building Marriages on the Rock

If you’d like to attend this seminar on Saturday 14 February 9am – 3pm, please register directly with Roslyn Sim of TPMC (email: roslyn.sim@tpmc.org.sg). Feel free to share this with other couples too.

Thanks for praying for me as I prepare to share on this very critical issue. Today, more than ever, the institution of marriage is under tremendous attack. Sadly, Christian marriages are not exempt from the pressures of life and the many distractions that contribute to pull couples apart. For sure, it’s not just tips and tricks we need to get by. We need to return to God’s original design and purpose for marriage that we may fully understand our roles, firmly grounded on the Rock of Jesus Christ. Amen!

Half-Boiled Eggs and Coffee Served With Love

It was a simple gesture this morning but one that meant so much. Although my wife was preparing to leave for some errands, Serene made the extra effort to fix me breakfast. Nothing elaborate, just my usual request for half-boiled eggs and coffee. But it meant a lot.

Not everyone may understand the amount of work Serene has, but I do. Managing a household of our size is really not easy. It is no wonder many impose the title of “supermom” onto Serene, one which she absolutely detests. If anyone has her hands full, it is Serene. Eggs and coffee may not seem like much to some, but to me, it means the world when served with love and sacrifice by my wife.

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Meals aside, I am so thankful for Serene’s support in the ministry. If anyone would appreciate her husband to be around more, I believe my wife would like that. But given the nature of ministry, where engagements are usually at night or over the weekends, this is not always possible. And so, Serene adjusts and makes do with whatever she has, knowing that her sacrifice is really for our Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Because of her absence from the ministry front lines, given our large family size and additional household demands, some have even remarked that my wife is not with me in ministry, That cannot be further from the truth! Serene is 100% with me, supporting and encouraging me in ways that many don’t see and few can understand.

What I am most thankful for is that Serene and I are able to come together to pray. I never take this for granted at all! Whenever I ask couples if they pray together, the answer is usually, “No.” Truly, it is wonderful that we can share our concerns and struggles with each other, and then proceed to pray with and for one another, as well as for our family and ministry. Through prayer, we openly acknowledge that Jesus is Lord of our lives, our family and our ministry. In that, we do not struggle alone regardless the challenges that come our way. The Lord is with us and will see us through. He has done that before and He will do it again!

Well, this simple post started with eggs and coffee. I didn’t intend to write so much but each time I think about how the Lord has blessed me with and through Serene, I am filled with joy and gratitude. What can I say? I love my wife! And I never cease to give thanks to the Lord for her!

Visit Serene’s weblog, Building Up Moms, for articles and posts to encourage moms and wives.

Related Post: Appreciating My Wife

Valentine’s Dinner with My Wife

We didn’t plan it at all. After all, it’s been quite a while since we last observed Valentine’s Day, let alone celebrate it. So, it was totally impromptu that morning when I asked Serene if she would be open to having dinner with me, alone, without seven children in tow. Even after she said ‘yes’, we weren’t sure if we could secure a booking, given our last-minute decision. Making the call later, I managed to get the last two seats at the sushi counter of Matsuo Sushi Restaurant.

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We’ve been eating here for almost 18 years!

This little Japanese restaurant at Goldhill Plaza is our favourite place for sashimi and sushi – fresh and good value. We discovered it when we were staying at Keng Lee Road many years ago. Interestingly, we found out that it has been opened for 18 years already. That means we have been eating there for as long as we’ve been married – almost! Well, until we had a few more children and that made it difficult for Serene to eat out. In recent times, I would ta-pao* sashimi platters back home for Serene so that she can still enjoy a good meal after a hard day’s work.

After settling dinner for the kids, we left for our dinner date. I was really excited and looked forward to spending that evening with my wife, sans kids. Yes, just the two of us. Once seated at the counter, we left it to the boss to prepare the meal for us. Every dish was tasty and delicious, made even more delectable and enjoyable with Serene by my side. We had a great time talking and reminiscing.

I am thankful we made a special effort to get out to be with one another that night. Admittedly, this has not been easy for us given the number of young children we have. To be out alone without rushing through a meal is truly a luxury for us. Hope we don’t have to wait too long before we get to do this again — 18th Anniversary Dinner next month? 🙂

*take-away

Two Becoming One

I love it when the world discovers something that the Bible has already declared thousands of years ago. The experts may attribute it to some revelational research, crediting themselves for such wisdom and intelligence in their field of study; but all they have done is only prove that the Bible is indeed true.

The Straits Times carried one such ‘discovery’ in the article “Love’s brain chemistry” by Diane Ackerman on Tuesday, 27 March 2012.

The Straits Times, REVIEW & FORUM, Tues 27 Mar 2012.

The opening line reads, “A relatively new field, called interpersonal neurobiology, draws its vigour from one of the great discoveries of our era: that the brain is constantly rewiring itself based on daily life. In the end, what we pay the most attention to defines us. How you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life literally transforms you.” (emphasis mine)

New field? Great discoveries? Did not the Apostle Paul urge his charges in Rom 12:2 not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind? By the wisdom of God, Paul knew what these neurobiologists would discover years later. He knew that whatever the mind is set on, that is what will ultimately define us. In Rom 8:5, Paul warns, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” He says it again, albeit with different words, in Col 3:2, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

"...and they shall become one flesh." Gen 2:24

What thrilled me most was the paragraph that was highlighted in the article: “When two people become a couple, the brain extends its idea of self to include the other; instead of the slender pronoun “I”, a plural self emerges who can borrow some of the other’s assets and strengths. The brain knows who we are. The immune system knows who we’re not, and it stores pieces of invaders as memory aids. Through lovemaking, or when we pass along a flu or a cold, we trade bits of identity with loved ones, and in time we become a sort of chimera*. We don’t just get under a mate’s skin, we absorb him or her.” (emphasis mine)

Hey, Moses knew this long before there was a field called neurobiology! In Gen 2:24, Moses wrote prophetically, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Referring to the divinely appointed institution of marriage, this alludes to the consummation of that marriage through the most intimate physical act of sexual union between the husband and his wife. In the words of the neurobiologist, through that act of “lovemaking”, the couple “absorbs” each other. In biblical terms, the two have become one!

Romantic as this sounds, we must not miss another application. In warning the Church in Corinth against sexual immorality, the Apostle Paul quotes from Gen 2:24. “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.'” (1 Cor 6:16) In our society today, sexual promiscuity is celebrated more than frowned upon. Can you imagine what is happening, given our new neurobiological understanding!? If, through sexual union, a couple becomes a composite of one another, then multiple partners simply results in multiple composites of bizarre proportions. In other words, we have created an undefinable level of mutated monsters that are wreaking havoc in relationships and societies today!

I thank God for such articles that affirm the Word of God – not that the Word of God needs any such affirmation in the first place. There is only one phrase I totally disagree with where Ackerman considers humans “as the most social apes”. My prayer for her is that she would one day come to know the One True God who created us all in His image and be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. Amidst all her wonderful discoveries as a neurobiologist, may she receive the revelation that all this cannot simply happen by chance through evolution. Before Ackerman and her colleagues ever discovered such wonderful truths about the brain and the mind, the Creator God has already recorded the findings in the Bible.

*Chimera: An organism, organ, or part consisting of two or more tissues of different genetic composition, produced as a result of organ transplant, grafting, or genetic engineering.

Marriages in Christ

It is common knowledge that the number of divorces has been on the rise.  It used to be that society frowned upon divorces and that kept marriages intact.  In the West, the Christian influence within society discouraged divorce.  Our traditional Asian culture also discouraged divorce.  Today, however, with secularism on the rise, the Christian ethic of the West has been eroded.  Our Asian values have also been affected and replaced by Western openness.  Although this sounds like a world phenomenon, the staggering truth is that it is also happening in the church.  Christian marriages are under attack!

For sure, a church wedding doesn’t guarantee the success of any marriage.  We have seen too many Christian marriages end up in divorce.  Why is this so?  Perhaps, our marriages are only IN church, but not IN Christ!  For this to happen, we must first have Jesus IN the marriages and this can take place at one of three levels as we will learn from the familiar account in John 2:1-11.

1.  Invitation

“Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.” John 2:2 

It’s nice to have Jesus present at the wedding or in the marriage.  But it’s not going to help very much if Jesus is limited to being a bystander or a spectator; or if He is only invited into certain situations and decisions.  The rest of the time, He is no different from the rest of the crowd.  Yet, that is what happens in many Christian marriages.  The couple may merely desire a church wedding, or for God to bless the wedding.  After that, life goes on as usual and Jesus is only invited back in times of trouble or crisis.  I hope your marriage isn’t like that.

2.  Involvement

 “And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.’” John 2:3,4

Running out of wine at a wedding feast is no small thing for the Jews.  It is very embarrassing and a loss of face.  In some marriages, the couple is already facing a strain in the relationship but everyone chooses to keep quiet because it is too embarrassing to talk to anyone – it’s a loss of face.  When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother knew it was time to get Him involved!

To involve Jesus in our marriages means to allow Him full access into our lives, our decisions and our situations.  Jesus is given full control of the marriage, beginning with the husband’s and the wife’s own personal walk with Him.  Is Jesus involved in your decisions and situations?  Do you consult Him on every issue?  Do you seek Him for the plan He has for your marriage?  Don’t wait until your marriage hits a brick wall before you involve Jesus.

Make no mistake!  A Christian marriage is not one where two Christians are involved.  A Christian marriage is one where Christ is involved.
3.  Instruction

 “His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’” John 2:5 

Here comes the crunch!  Involving Jesus also means being willing to receive and carry out His instructions.  This does not mean merely using a few Christian pet phrases and quoting it every now and then.  It means total obedience to everything Jesus says in His Word.  It is when Jesus is involved and His instructions are heeded that real positive change takes place from the inside out!

What did Jesus say to do?  He asked the servants to fill six water pots.  Six is always the number of man, signifying human effort.  These water pots were used for purification, something which water did on the outside.  Often, we can try to work at it on our own, attend marriage seminars and workshops, etc.  Not that these are not helpful, but they tend to focus on outward behaviour modification instead of inward transformation.

When Jesus’ instructions were obeyed, He turned the water into wine, firstly signifying an inward cleansing by the blood and then, of even greater significance, the ushering in of messianic abundance!  That’s what marriages need today – an inward change that brings in the fullness and abundance of God!  Whatever He says to you – love, submit, forgive, be humble, sacrifice – do it!

Three levels of having a marriage in Christ – which level is yours at?  Invitation?  Involvement?  Or Instruction?  Don’t let your marriage contribute to the rising divorce statistics.  Instead, make a firm decision today to invite Jesus back into your relationship.  Involve Him in every area that needs His light and healing.  Then commit to obey His instructions that you may see true change from within and experience the fullness of marital life as He has promised (John 10:10).