On my 80th birthday, our family of 19 were in Montenegro. I shared with them four markers based on four scripture texts that governed the goals, growth and values of our family.
GOD, FIRST AND CENTRAL.
“choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:16
We have to choose as to whom or what we give supreme allegiance… This choice is personal: “as for me;” it is also corporate: “my household”.
We serve the LORD, the true and living God. Our understanding, our relationship to Him, determine our priorities and our decision-making. In our family, we acknowledge Him as the Creator God. We gaze in awe at the beauty of the world around us. Made in His image we treasure and express His creative nature. I’m so glad that we are a family of artists, musicians, writers, storytellers and communicators.
I’ve listened to most of you speaking in public. I marvel at your fluency. Once when I was preaching at Wesley Church, Singapore, my cousin said, “You speak like your father” My first reaction was “No!” My preaching is anointed and honed by the Spirit. My dad never preached.” Hours later, as I thought of my father and his boldness and clarity in addressing a wide variety of audiences, I began to thank God for this gift that I inherited from my father. And for you, my sons and grandchildren, your ability to hold audiences spell-bound also come from your Mother/Grandmother. She was voted the best student actress in Hong Kong.
The God we choose to worship is also the Redeemer-Lord. We can never thank Him sufficiently for His grace in saving and transforming us. Mummy and I in bringing up our three sons, avoided religiosity; we stressed the authentic. I believe that you; three sons did not rebel or backslide because we tried as your parents, to be honest, and real. In the early years of our marriage, we often quarrelled. And you; our sons must have been terrified to hear your Mother’s loud screams and my apologetic “shhh….the children are sleeping” The morning after our big row, we confessed that Mummy and Daddy crossed swords with bitter words. We were both wrong. By God’s grace, we made up. He’s forgiven us. His redemptive love covered our sinful words and actions. He set us free to follow and serve Him.
Our choice was also worked out in our agreement to serve Him together. When we had guests in our West Hill home, we did not send you to bed when they were in the living room. You played a major role in welcoming and serving our guests. And also in the clearing and washing up. I cannot help noticing that all three of you have in turn provided hospitality in your homes.
BEYOND ALL EXPECTATIONS!
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
Looking back at over five decades of our family history and journey, these words ring true.
God has blessed us with abundance, with the best. He’s given me the best gift in the person of my dear wife whom you treasure as Mother and Grandmother. He has provided us with unparalleled opportunities to study at the best universities. He’s brought wise and godly men and women in our lives who have encouraged and emboldened us to be leaders in our spheres of influence.
More importantly, the Lord has used us to bring numerous people to know, love and serve Him. We sowed and watered the gospel seed; He gives the increase. Currently, we are heavily involved in equipping key people for leadership in the marketplace, academia and the local church. None of us can ever dream of these achievements.
We are aware of the Lord’s words “To whom much is given, much is expected” (Lk.12:48)
As I celebrate my 80th, my heart and mind are gripped by the importance of leaving a good legacy. Of course, you will one day inherit some of our assets. I’ve been telling my close friends and associates, “An inheritance is not what you leave for people but what you leave in them.”
The legacy that I long to leave in you is the joy of following the Lord and working with others to bring many in the kingdom, to be master builders in planting churches. On a personal and family level, to create unforgettable moments for others. As a family, we have valued the delight of vacationing together. We will always remember the cruises in Halong Bay, Vietnam, Alaska and now the Adriatic. And you have also given Mummy and me; memorable holidays in three different continents.
Their descendants will be known among the nations. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed. Isaiah 61:9
I think it was in the late 80s when this verse leapt up at me. And I prayed regularly for its fulfilment. In a unique way, God has made our family international.
My 24 years stint in IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) instilled a global perspective.
Today all of you regard yourselves as Kingdom and global citizens.
That bold dream is wonderfully fulfilled in my sons. And one day to all our grandchildren and spiritual children.
We’ll be known as “people the Lord has blessed.”
RECEIVING AND RELEASING HIS FULNESS AND FAVOUR:
From the fullness of his grace, we have received one blessing after another. John1:16
May the favour of the Lord rest upon us; establish the work of our hands – yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17
The Lord has done great things for us.
(Psalm 126:3) I never cease to marvel that God can use people like us, like me – full of flaws and cracks.
I joke often that God works through cracked pots.
That is definitely true! Or in Philip Yancey’s words, “Imperfection is the pre-requisite for grace.”
From the start of finish, we are dependent on His grace and favour.
As we abide in Him, He will make us fruitful. I am convinced that He will continue His work and purpose in and through us. To Him be the glory!
God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible – what a pity that we plan only the thing we can do by ourselves. A.W. Tozer
There is nothing impossible with God. All the impossibility is with us when we measure God by the limitations of our unbelief. Smith Wigglesworth
Man finds it hard to get what he wants because he does not want the best. God finds it hard to give because he would give the best, and man will not take it. George MacDonald
QUOTES from Malcolm Gladwell
What we think of as free will is largely an illusion: much of the time we are simply operating on autopilot, and the way we think and act – and how well we think and act on the spur of the moment – are a lot more susceptible to outside influences than we realize. Blink
The value of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves will have a profound effect on who we are. Outliers
No one – not even rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses – ever makes it alone.
Achievement is talent plus preparation. Blink
“People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact, they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.” Outliers
From Chip and Dan Heath – the value of marriage diaries
When we want something to be true, we gather the information that supports our desire. But the confirmation bias doesn’t just affect what information people go looking for; it even affects what they noticed in the first place. Think of a couple in a troubled marriage. If one partner has labelled the other’s shortcoming – for instance, being “selfish” – then that label can become self-reinforcing. The selfish acts become easier to spot, while the generous acts go unnoticed.
In a situation like this, the therapist Aaron T. Beck, advises that couples consciously fight the tendency too only notice what is wrong. To avoid that trap, he advises couples to keep “marriage diaries” chronicling the things their mates do that please them.
In his book Love is Never Enough, Beck describes a couple. Karen and Ted who kept such a diary. One week Karen noted several things that she appreciated about Ted: He sympathized with me about some bad behaviour by one of my clients. He pitched in to help clean up the house. He kept me company while I was doing the laundry. He suggested we go for a walk which I enjoyed.
Beck said, “Although Ted had done similar things for Karen in the past, they had been erased from her memory because of her negative view of Ted.”
70% of couples who keep this kind of marriage diary reported an improvement in their relationship. “All that had changed was their awareness of what was going on,” Beck wrote. “Before keeping track, they had underestimated the pleasure of their marriage.” Decisive
From John Piper On The True Nature Of Sin
“What is SIN?
It is the glory of God not honoured.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savoured.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The commandments of God not obeyed; The justice of God not respected. The wrath of God not feared; The grace of God not cherished. The presence of God not prized; The person of God not loved.
That is SIN.” ~ John Piper
Here is a statistic worth remembering. In a presentation, 5% of people remember a statistic but 63% of people remember a story.
I finally realized that people are prisoners of their phones – that’s why it is called a cell phone.
The naked truth is always better than a well-dressed lie. Ann Landers
People who drink to drown their sorrow should be told that sorrow knows how to swim. Ann Landers
See a flame in a spark, a tree in a seed. See great things in little beginnings. Richard Sibbes
A Prayer – Shafts of light
In my brokenness, amidst the gloom with dark clouds hanging over me,
I will rise up and praise you.
Through the cracks in my life, I see shafts of light
Coming closer, shining brighter.
With eyes of faith, I see your smile, sense your love and acceptance.
The clouds begin to scatter.
The sun of righteousness is rising with healing in his wings.
Under your cover, I will worship; I will behold your beauty.
As I gaze on you, you are transforming me
Into the likeness of your dear son.
I am grateful, eternally grateful.