Another year has flown by and we still cannot dine out as a family – thanks to all the safe management measures of this present pandemic we are in. Perhaps that’s why our Christmas photo looks the way it does. We may be arrested and fined for exceeding the number allowed for social groups – haha!
But seriously, in spite of all restrictions and inconveniences, we have much to celebrate and give thanks for. It would be too long to list (yes, even longer than Santa’s naughty list *grin*). As the worship song goes, we have more than 10,000 reasons to praise the Lord for He is so good and ever faithful.
Christmas celebrations may still be toned down this year but that does not stop us from remembering and celebrating the first coming of Jesus in our hearts. Amidst the doom and gloom, the Light of His coming and love shines even more brightly. At the same time, our present challenges remind us of the hope we have, one that points us toward the Day when Jesus will come again. How glorious that would be!
May the love, joy and peace of this Christmas season fill your hearts and homes as we together mark the birth of Jesus, the One who was sent to save us from our sins. This invitation and promise is freely available to all who would believe in Him and all He has done for you that you may receive from Him and all He has prepared for you, entirely by His grace.
From our family to yours… Happy, Merry, Blessed Christmas!
Henson & Serene with David, Sarah, Aaron, Esther, Ruth, Deborah Hope & Anna Joy
As much as we would like our children to be baptised, we are also keenly mindful that baptism is not to be treated lightly or ritualistically.
As one who was infant baptised as part of the Methodist system and tradition, I later discovered that I could not opt for baptism as an adult. The next step was ‘confirmation’. And so, after Serene’s baptism (as an adult new believer), we were both ‘confirmed’ and received into church membership together in November 1994.
Over the next years, learning more about the faith and gaining deeper understanding about baptism, I began to desire the experience of baptism – not just some water trickling down my head, but the full impact of being totally submerged in water and then to be raised up out of the depth again. However, that desire would remain a desire, for where I was at that point in time, there was no possibility of it ever becoming a reality. Simply, re-baptism was not allowed.
Thankfully, we serve a God who knows our deepest desires.
In 2003, the Lord led us from Wesley Methodist Church to Full Gospel Assembly Singapore. I had all but forgotten about this little desire in my heart until an announcement was made about baptism. I approached the senior pastor to check if I could be re-baptised and the answer was ‘yes’!
You may be wondering what the big deal is. I assure you, it is a big deal and we should make a big deal of every baptismal experience. I am so convinced that it is such an important milestone of our faith that I listed it as the first point of alignment check to rightly appropriate the work of Jesus on the Cross, reproduced in full hereunder:
Remember Your Baptism Your baptism is not merely a rite of passage to secure membership in a local church. Through baptism, you identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:12-13). Through the Cross, the ‘old you’ died. And as Christ was raised, the ‘new you’ was raised with Him. We can say, as Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
When you remember your baptism, you remember all that has been transacted at the Cross, and all that has secured for you at the Cross. Go back to the Cross that you may move forward from the Cross. Remember this truth as you move on kingdom assignment. Don’t ever forget whose you are in Christ, who you are in Christ, and what you have in Christ!
Whilst I appreciate the notion of infant baptism, I do not subscribe to it today. Sure, the individual can ‘confirm’ his/her faith later. But to personally understand ‘death’, ‘burial’ and ‘resurrection’ with Jesus Christ through baptism is something I believe every believer should experience and remember.
Where our children are concerned, we have been careful not to put any pressure on their decision to be baptised. In each and every case, they have been the ones who have approached us, telling us that they are ready for baptism. Our part is to determine that they are indeed ready.
Each year, FGA Children’s Ministry conducts Blast Off! – a baptism class for 10-12 year olds, involving parents. After this series, we left it to Anna Joy, our youngest, to consider (no pressure, remember?). It took a while (for which we are thankful) before she finally said ‘yes’. In the days leading up to her baptism, we could see and sense the excitement in her. To the 10 year-old, it was “the big day” and “the special day”.
On 1 December 2019, Anna Joy was baptised, to the glory of God!
Thanks to FGA, I got to do the honours of baptising my own daughter. Whilst I enjoyed this privilege and my time in the baptismal tank with Anna Joy, this joy and honour must be shared with my wife. It is Serene who has spent much more time with Anna Joy, teaching and guiding her in the Word of God through the homeschooling journey. Serene and I are also very thankful to Uncle Sam and all the teachers of Spark Kids, for their love and attention showered upon every child.
Our hearts are full, now that each of our seven children has been baptised. That said, this does not mean that our job is done. It’s been 10 years since our oldest two were baptised; and we can all agree that whilst baptism is a major milestone, it is still only a milestone. It is the spiritual journey that is ongoing, where the rubber meets the road. Our part as parents is still to guide our children on this journey, and then to release them to walk with God on their own. We cannot walk the journey for them, but we pray that we will be worthy examples of what it means to love and serve Jesus.
We are so excited for Anna Joy as she begins a new phase of her relationship with Jesus. It was heartwarming too to see her older siblings stand with her and excited for her. (That’s the bonus of being the youngest, and being so cute.)
We love you, Anna Joy, and we are praying God’s best for you as you grow into all He has in store for you! You’ve been such a blessing and joy to us in the Lim Tribe. By His grace, and with His enablement, you will likewise be a blessing and joy to many, many others. Remember your baptism.
Yesterday, Sunday 29 October 2017, our 6th child, Deborah Hope was baptised at Full Gospel Assembly. (And yours truly got to go the honours. *beam*)
After going through a series of teachings about baptism by FGA‘s children’s ministry, the 10 year old felt that she was ready to openly declare her faith in Jesus Christ. Needless to say, both Serene and I were very pleased, encouraged and thankful (praise the Lord!).
Being in full-time ministry, we have always tried our best not to put any pressure on the children where their own faith journey is concerned. Whilst we accept the responsibility as Christian parents to guide and lead them in the faith, we are also mindful not to over step our boundaries so that their relationship with Jesus is personal and real for themselves. As much as we’d love to see them baptised, we also do not want to rush them into this significant event prematurely.
As a pastor previously, I had the privilege of baptising David & Sarah in 2009, and Aaron & Esther in 2013. However, after I stepped down from my pastoral position, I did not get to baptise Ruth in 2014. No more a formal minister, I thought my baptising days were over (at least in a formal church setting). To my pleasant surprise, I found out that FGA encouraged parents to baptise their own children, and then to pray a blessing over them after they came out of the water. Yay!
In preparation for her baptism, we helped Deborah script her video testimony. Credit goes to Serene, who did a great job! I would have over-complicated the entire process whilst ensuring she was both biblically and theologically sound – haha!
On the day of baptism, Deborah Hope was so excited, beaming from ear to ear. She had such a glow on her face.
In the baptism pool (tank), Senior Pastor Rhordan Wicks asked her a few questions and Deborah confidently declared the certainty of her faith in Jesus Christ and her decision to be baptised. After that, I baptised my daughter and then proceeded to prophetically declare the Lord’s goodness and plans into her life.
As with the other five, Serene and I experienced great joy at Deborah’s baptism. We continue to pray for the Lord to lead her forward as she grows and matures in the things of the kingdom!
I consider these as bring-your-children-to-work opportunities where they get to see daddy in action. Yet, more than just show them what I do and how hardworking I am (haha!), my silent prayer is that they may better understand what it means to serve the Lord and His people across different congregations and settings.
By the time we made the trip to Bandung, Team Archippus had grown to be a huge group of 24! Honestly, I was a little concerned, having to manage the team, preach and teach, and still look after my kids. I am pleased to say that that concern was totally unnecessary.
From start to end, the three teenagers were just fine on their own. In Archippian lingo, they each fulfilled their assignments really well. As the team’s photographer, Aaron snapped away, doing his best to capture the right shots and angles. [Check out the photos on our Facebook Page] Sarah sang as part of the team that led worship on Saturday. Esther was assigned as projectionist. But since that was taken care of by the church, she didn’t have much to do. Even so, she remained on standby. And when called upon to help me set up the computer and presentation one evening, she completed that task without hesitation.
What warmed my heart most was during the time of response. After our Indonesian brothers and sisters had presented themselves upfront, I invited the Singapore team to pray for them. To my surprise, I saw Sarah and Esther step forward with the rest of Team Archippus. They then proceeded to minister and to pray for the people.
Needless to say, I am so proud of them! These may not have been huge tasks but it warmed my heart to see them moving faithfully in the small things. May the Lord use these exposures as building blocks in their own personal journeys as they seek to one day discover what He has in store for them.
Perhaps, it’s a sign of growing older, and getting tired of all the commercial hype and hoopla of this season. Even in the Church, it’s sometimes difficult to discern if Jesus is really the One who is being celebrated.
If you’re feeling the same, I suppose we are not alone.
Perhaps, that explains why so many go to great lengths to feel Christmassy … put up the Christmas tree, string the lights, co-ordinate the red and green colours of Christmas, play the good ol’ Christmas favourites and carols, order the ham, hang up the stockings, don’t forget the presents, and to top it off … Santa hats and reindeer hair clips! Oh, and for good measure, we must have the manger scene, shepherds, the magi, and the bright and shiny star. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season.
All these have become Christmas staples that it is almost unthinkable if any of these were missing. Unfortunately, for many Christians, and church celebrations, this is also the default. Make no mistake! Jesus must be present … along with all the other symbols, whether biblical or not.
Unlike some, I am not canvassing for the abolition of Christmas celebrations. And yet, I am not exactly thrilled with how we have become so dependent on mythical and commercial props to make Christmas feel Christmassy. Somehow, although it is about Jesus, Jesus alone is not enough. Sure, we worship and adore Him, but for some strange reason, we still need Santa around … just to make it feel a little bit more Christmassy.
Although Jesus was not born on 25 December, I have no problems remembering His birth. My friend, Bill Muehlenberg, rightly points out that it is not the date of His birth that we are acknowledging, but the fact of His birth. When I recount the births of each of our children, other than my memories and their baby photos, I sure don’t need additional props to help generate any feelings at all. Similarly, with the birth of Jesus, all we require are biblical accounts of His birth, and our personal experience of when the Christ was truly birthed in us. Glorious!
I believe it’s perfectly fine not to feel Christmassy at all. In fact, there are many who feel terrible during this season because their pains and troubles are that much more magnified against the hype of the season. What’s worse, those who party too hard have been reported to suffer post-Christmas blues when they get back to work!
Christmas is not about our feelings, but our faith in the Christ – the One who was born that He may die to save us from our sins. Let’s dispense with the hype and the paraphernalia. Jesus IS enough! It is that straightforward, and as simple as A-B-C: Acknowledging, appreciating & announcing the Birth of Christ. Accurately. Biblically. Contextually. … hmmmm … good Christmas message material … this is where I must end this Christmas reflection before I complicate things further as a preacher-teacher. Haha!
From our little tribe to you and your loved ones, Blessed A-B-C!
Henson & Serene
with David, Sarah, Aaron, Esther, Ruth, Deborah Hope & Anna Joy
I couldn’t resist snapping this picture of my youngest, Anna Joy, at her desk.
The seven year-old is usually the first to get up each day. And without fail, like clockwork, she washes up, dresses up and starts her homeschool schedule. Yes, all by herself.
Serene and I have been asked many times how homeschooling is like. Is it all about freedom, being able to do what we want, when we want? Well, to a certain extent, we do enjoy that latitude. However, school is still school. And all learning, in whatever form, requires discipline.
Anna Joy has grown up in this environment of homeschooling all her life. Having watched her older siblings go about their routines, she began to establish one of her own too. Each day, in the Lim Tribe household, that’s pretty much the scene. Every child knows what he or she needs to accomplish, and each can be found at their own workstations, diligently completing what has been assigned. That doesn’t mean everything runs perfectly. Once in a while, you will still hear Serene’s voice ring out, “[insert name], you still owe me lesson number …!”
As I observed Anna Joy that morning, I couldn’t help but beam a little as a proud daddy. Yet, more than just a father who is pleased with the development of his children, my heart was filled with gratitude for a very hardworking wife and mother in Serene. To be sure, there has been much pain and sacrifice along this journey of homeschooling. Many tears too. And you can also add frustration and anxiety to the list. No one sees these at all. At times (and there have been many), even I miss the tremendous load that Serene carries, neglecting to be there with and for her, causing the journey to be a lot more difficult than it already is.
This picture of Anna Joy brings a smile to my face. In a while, the other workstations would fill up, one by one. Yes, it’s a lovely sight to behold. No, it didn’t happen by chance, or that we were somehow blessed with perfect, sinless, super-obedient children. It took diligence and discipline, a lot of hard work with consistency over the years. And a whole lot of GOD as we experienced His strength and grace over and over again.
An award-winning shot this is not. But it has caused me to pause, to reflect and to give thanks. I am so proud of Serene. I am so proud of each of our seven children. Thank you, dear Lord, for these awesome blessings You have allowed in my life!
Over the weekend, I had the joy of having Aaron and Esther (our 3rd & 4th) serve alongside me at Archippus Awakening‘s very own Awakening Event, AWE2016. Whilst many think this is only natural for a pastor’s or a minister’s children, I do not take this for granted at all. No, not for one moment.
To be clear, my children have, on many occasions, accompanied me on my various ministry engagements at camps, retreats, meetings and church services. Each and every time, I am very thankful to have them with me, but I do not expect that to be so, as if it is a mandatory requirement for the Lim Tribe. Of course, there are times when Serene and I make a collective decision for the entire family to be present. Then again, there are also times where we ask the children if they’d like to be involved.
And that was the case for AWE2016. David and Sarah (our 1st & 2nd) were unable to join us, and Aaron and Esther said “yes”. Aaron was promptly assigned to man the sound board and Esther would look after the projection needs. It was really wonderful to see them readily assume their responsibilities without fuss or complaint.
The moment we reached the hotel, they took to their stations to set up whatever needed to be set up. Throughout the event, they did what was required, and gamely took on whatever else came about, whether planned or unplanned. Whatever they were unsure about, they simply learnt it along the way, on the job!
Being a part of the technical team also meant having to be present earlier than others, which also meant eating faster and having to wake up earlier in the mornings for the Kingdom Prayer Initiatives. Aaron also took on the additional role of photographer, which saw him shuttling from the sound board to moving about the room to capture the best shots.
I watched and observed them with much pride and joy. Young as they are (14 & 13), they understood what it meant to serve with and alongside their dad, contributing to a greater purpose of God’s kingdom. And I dare say they gave and did their very best.
This episode also gave me a deeper appreciation of what it must mean to our heavenly Father when we give of ourselves to align with His plans and purposes. Consider this: If I can experience the joy of having my children support me in my assignment, imagine the joy in God’s heart when we readily, obediently, and gladly do the Father’s Will!
And for two of these, Serene and the children came along at the invitation of the camp committees. It was truly a joy for me to have them all serve alongside me in various capacities. Needless to say, I was very proud of each of them as they took to their tasks, desiring to do their very best.
Through their support and contribution, I had a beautiful revelation of the joy we bring to our Heavenly Father when we too serve Him, not out of duty, obligation or coercion, but with love, joy and gladness.
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15