Happy Hubby + Happy Wife = Happy Life

Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Paul taught the Ephesians the recipe for the happy Christian family: Submit to one another. To submit is to yield authority to a superior force. Note that it is ‘to one another’. In Chinese it means to 讓= to give way. To add another word to it, it becomes 謙讓 = humility. Indeed, o what peace – great peace will be maintained in the home when everyone has humility to give way – to submit to one another. And why do we do this? Because we respect the head of our home who is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the true model of humility. If we respect Him, we want to follow His example.

How do we submit? There are two ingredients for humility. Love and respect. Ladies first.

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22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Again Paul used a comparison, we are to yield to our husband just as the church is to yield to Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus is the head of the church, our husband is the head of our home. It’s important to note that we are to follow his lead in ‘Everything’… even when we think we are right, even when we think we know better. Why? What if he’s wrong? There is implication in these verses: Just as Christ is head of his body, of which he is the Savior. So I need to submit to Andrew as he is my head of my home, of which he is provider and leader of Marlene, Hannah, Abigail and Michelle. My role is to submit to be an example to my children. Andrew has a role too. What is his role?

Paul taught not only the wives to submit, he taught the husbands to love. Notice that there are 3 verses for the wives on submission and 8 for the husbands on loving. Read on…8bc7f703f667a06163e65cb03f4f0edf.jpg

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

How to love your wife? Follow Jesus in the way He loves His church. How?

1) v. 25 Jesus gave Himself up. That sounds like sacrificial love, isn’t it? It involves giving way too, doesn’t it?

2) v. 26-27 Holiness, cleanliness, radiance, spotless, unstained, without blemish, blameless.. These are the traits of a faithful husband and wife – who are committed to each other – to stay pure and stay true to each other. How to be clean? through the word – does the Bible guide the home to be a clean, spotless, holy without stain and wrinkle? How do women maintain a clear skin without blemish – they wash, they clean, they stay radiant. A holy marriage is more than skin-deep. It takes commitment and faithfulness to be pure and holy – especially in the marital bed.

3) v.28-31 Love your wife as yourself. Love her as you love your own body. If you love your wife, you love yourself because the two of you are one flesh. Again Jesus is our example – how to feed and care for his body – the church. Just as how Jesus loves the church, husbands are to love their wives.

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32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Application:

Men need respect. Andrew wants and needs me to respect him. He is the head of our home. I show my respect when i give importance to his role as leader of our family – me and my children. I support and help him in his responsibilities: I set an example to my children. It is not about being right, it is more about being humble. Yes, I can and there will be times when I disagree with him but I need to be mindful to disagree agreeably. I need self-control – to keep my mouth shut even when I feel like ‘giving’ him a piece of my mind. 🙂 I can assure you – it is not easy. There are times when I feel or I think that my ways are better. I realized that it is alright to feel that or think that. Submitting is not about being martyred or timid or oppressed. It is about respect – yielding, giving way to authority. I can tell him my thoughts and my feelings – but how do I do it or say it, is more important than what I say. In the end, it is about humility. If Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, the Prince of peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God can be a humble babe in a manger, my substitute on the shameful cross, who am I not to be humble?

Husbands, there is only one word for you – love. Love your wife as you love yourself. Love means giving attention. Love is patient and kind. Be patient when your wife wants to tell you what’s in her mind and her heart. Just listen – there’s often no need to give answers and solutions to the things your wife tells you. She just needs a listening ear. Be kind – be gentle even when you feel like exploding with frustration or anger. Women need to be treated with TLC (tender loving care). And TLC is more than gifts or treats or trips. It is about your presence. And presence is more than physical presence – it is being attentive in mind, body and soul.

Candidly, let me tell you, we, wives are easily pleased. Small things give us much pleasure already. Try to discover what makes your wife smile. Ice cream? Hugs? Kisses? A massage? A love note? Changing the diapers of your baby? Getting up from bed when the baby is crying? Hmmm… you might say, those are no small things already. 🙂 Good news, you do not need to do it everyday. Once in awhile – to surprise your wife – sometimes these surprises go a long way to make a happy wife. Happy wife, happy life. Try it, you might find life is definitely more exciting.

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How to be happy 102

1) Do not be a KJ (kill-joy). Don’t be a Mr. Grumpy or Mr. Greedy.
2) Throw away JK (joy-killers). What are they?

Anger:
Many things in life upset us: when there is injustice, when our employees make a mistake, when our children disobey us, when we are wronged. It is alright to be angry – the thing is ‘Do not let the sun go down on our anger.’ Eph 4:26
1) Do not dwell too much on the issues that upset you.
2) Move on.

Antidote to Anger:
In the end, it is about forgiveness. Forgiving is not about condoning the mistake or denying the offence. Forgiveness is giving the offender the opportunity to do better next time. And even when he did not ask for forgiveness, forgiving frees the offended from being in bondage of bitterness.

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It is impossible to be angry and happy at the same time, right?

Anxiety (a.k.a. worry)
We often worry about many things as well: job securities; family relationships. Will our children do well in school, in their careers, in their marriage? Will our test results be favourable? Will the helpers stay long? Will my husband stay faithful to me… and on and on goes the list. All our worries are about what’s to come – and how often we waste lots of angst and energy worrying about things that never happen. The Bible tells us not to worry about what to eat, what to wear – not to worry about tomorrow. I know it is easier said than done.

Antidote to Anxiety…
Think back to the past. When I worry about whether my maids will stay long or leaving soon or when I am about to panic about having no help at home, I look back to the times when God provided for me. It might not always be according to what I wanted – but He always helped me through each challenge.

In the end, worry is a trust issue. Do I trust God enough to let God be God and let go? Letting go = worry free = happy. Try it!

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Happy, not grumpy

How to be happy… stop complaining.. rise and shine!

Philippians 2

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

To grumble is to complain or protest about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way.

Why do people grumble?

They see fault in everything. They focus on the bad. They fail to see the good. They see the glass half empty instead of being thankful for it half full. They take things for granted. They complain for what they do not have and forget what they have.

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They do things grudgingly – half-heartedly. They argue: exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.

They quarrel, disagree, squabble, bicker, fight, and dispute about anything and everything – even the trivial and petty.

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To be happy, do everything without grumbling and arguing.

How? Keywords to learn are blameless, pure, children of God

Is it not ironical that people who are grumblers or grumpy are often the ones not so perfect themselves? They complain about other people yet they fail to see how they are. If we do things without complaining, we learn to examine ourselves – are we blameless? Do we seek to be pure? Do we remember that we are children of God? What kind of people are the children of God? Are they grouchy, grumpy complainers? To be blameless is to be without fault. Instead of finding fault, we are to be faultless.

To be pure is to be free of contamination. As children of God we are to be clean, clear, sparkling in a ‘warped’ and crooked generation.  We are to be in the world but not ‘of’ the world. We are to stand out and be differentiated from the world. We are to not only be different but ‘make’ a difference. What is the effect of not grumbling, arguing, and being blameless, pure.

We will shine – we will stand out like stars in the dark world. We are to be salt and light.

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To be beacons of goodness in the world we need to hold on to God’s Word. Read the Bible and walk the talk. The bible is our manual for happy living… it teaches us how not to complain – to be grateful, to be contented. It teaches us how not to argue – to be peace loving, to be humble, to think of others better than ourselves. The Bible shows us how to be blameless and pure. It assures us that as children of God we are empowered to shine like stars in the dark world. God’s Word is our guide to live victoriously in joy in this warped and crooked generation.

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Being happy even though…

 

 

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“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of
your life.” 
-Proverbs 4:23

So true… A thankful heart makes a happy heart. Today I am thankful
for my oncologists. I am happy that EVEN THOUGH I have to take cancer meds, I had a kind oncologist who looked after me for the first 5 years and a 2nd wise and equally kind oncologist for the past 4 years.

To have a kind and capable doctor is a blessing. It is added bonus when there is rapport between doctor and patient. I learned so many things from my oncologist. I am grateful that EVEN THOUGH my meds have side effects, there are remedies
to make up for them. I am glad that EVEN THOUGH I have osteopenia, it is not that serious. It encourages me that doing weight exercises help to strengthen my bones. It’s inspiring to know that “people who do regularly exercises age slower.” After the visit, I feel happy. Thank you Lord EVEN THOUGH our bodies are wasting
away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting
away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians
4:16

For richer or poorer

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6

Di ka pa ba sanay sa kanya? (Aren’t you used to him yet?) A friend made this comment, and it helped to open my eyes to a broader perspective. In any relationship, the key to getting along is acceptance. There are traits my husband has that I am still trying to get ‘sanay‘ to, even after thirty one years. In Romans 15:7, Paul encouraged the Romans to “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” These words remind me that Andrew and I need to bear the weakness of one another to build each other up so that we will both glorify God.

Having a perfectionist husband made me grow up. Life is not meant to be ‘easy,’ and marriage changed my happy-go-lucky ways, making me better than I used to be. I learned not to make excuses. Andrew often complains that I only remember his criticisms and forget his good words. I should let his encouragement motivate me to do better.

Love is not a feel-good, do-good ingredient that solves all marriage issues. Because of our sinful nature, we love imperfectly. Many times, I have not felt like loving Andrew just as it felt like he did not love me. But through all these ‘loveless’ bottlenecks, twists and turns of life, God works all things together for my good towards the purpose he has for me (Rom. 8:28).

We build each other up by loving and respecting one another. In Ephesians 5:22, Paul writes: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. . .” The easy-to-read translation records submission as “willingness to serve your husband the same as the Lord.” Servanthood is not about slavery, but humility. In verses 25–28, Paul says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

When pride takes hold of me, and I do not hold my tongue or submit to Andrew, I bring grief and pain upon our marriage. But every time I humble myself to listen to Andrew, even if it is not pleasant, I discover that it is for my benefit. At the same time, when Andrew shows me in words and deeds how he loves me, even my children rejoice in the warmth of his love! Love and respect: the two key ingredients to a blessed marriage.

God has brought me much instruction, correction, rebuke, and discipline in my marriage. This is humbling, but I know that God rejects the proud and give grace to the humble. Humility is not about being humiliated, nor shamed nor full of self-pity, nor plagued by an inferiority complex. Rather, I am humble when I am not proud. Admitting pride is the key to humility.

As a wife, I have had to practice courage and humility to read messages from Andrew because I knew I would not like his messages – that they were critical of me. I knew I would have to defend myself. As a result, I have erased his messages without reading them. So that the argument would end.

I am learning how to give up the right to defend myself, to curb my urge to prove that I am right through eloquence. I practice how to take criticism without taking offence – to overcome the need to strive and argue. I learned to stay silent even after I read or listen to his criticisms.

Thus the first step to humility is to be aware that I am proud—self-sufficient, self-righteous, or self-important. I become proud whenever I begin to keep a record of wrongs. For when we imprison ourselves in anger and bitterness for the wrongs done to us, we become blind to our own faults. We pile our grievances one on top of the other and, as a result, we are weighed down with a load of anguish and sadness.

But as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love keeps no record of wrong” (v. 5). Keeping no record of wrong is not about forgetting. It is remembering less. We cannot totally forget but if we talk about it less, curse about it less, rehearse it less and nurse it less, it liberates us and leads us into freedom—freedom from sadness, anger and bitterness, from self-pity and indignation.

The more I think about how I have been wronged, the sadder I become. Kawawa naman ako (how pitiful I am!). The more I think how right I am, the angrier I become.

But when I acknowledge that I am proud and need correction, I gain wisdom and grow in my fear of the Lord. To fear the Lord is to honor Him, and God honors those who honor him. To honor God is to be humble before Him, depending on His grace and mercy.

Even so I always find it stressful when there are quarrels in the house. Opposite personalities, differences in values, perspectives and opinions often cause conflicts. David was a soldier and a family man. He experienced conflicts both from within and outside his home. In this context, he wrote Psalm 133.

1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

I recall our church senior pastor the late Rev. Wesley Shao preached on this psalm. He expounded on the kind of goodness and pleasure of having unity in the household of God’s people.

2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.

In biblical times, oil had significant values. It was used for anointing kings and priests. It was used for healing. Oil poured on the head is precious. David experienced what it was like to be anointed with oil as a young lad.

Reverend Shao explained the significance of the collar. 领袖means leader. The first character,领 means collar and the second character,袖is sleeve. The collar and sleeves are important parts of a garment. When the collar and the sleeves are well-ironed, the rest of the garment looks neater and better. Every part of the clothing falls into place. So with God’s people, peace and order in the family begins with the leader.

Indeed it is a great blessing when God’s people live together in unity. Unity does not mean having the same personality. Unity does not preclude diversity. Unity is oneness in goal and objective, for the ‘good’ and ‘pleasure’ of the family. It is a fruitful and profitable home that enjoys the God’s blessings like the anointing of precious oil and heavenly dew.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s children live in unity, in shalom!

Today is the day the Lord has made for Andrew and I.  We will be glad and rejoice in it. 31 years ago today, we stood before God – our heavenly judge (witnessed by an earthly one) to be united for life – in health and in sickness, thru good times and bad, for richer or poorer till death do us part.

Lord, today is another new day to love my husband— make me a submissive wife and help me not keep a record of wrong, but to forgive. Let us live together in unity to glorify you. Amen.

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Getting out of the pit

钻牛角尖: this is a Chinese proverb I learned in high school.  钻 is dig. 牛is bull. 角 is horn. 尖 is point or corner.

It means to take unnecessary pains; to study an insignificant [insoluble] problem; to get (oneself) into a dead end; to get into a blind alley.

This proverb describes the period of my deep depression. It was literally like drilling myself into the edge of the bull’s horn – and turning deeper and deeper inside and getting nowhere out.

While I know and believe in the proverb that a cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22a), a sad depressed heart is a stark reality of life. Proverbs 17:22b states that a broken spirit dries up the bones. I experienced how hard it is to tell myself to be happy; not to worry; to think good thoughts – whatever noble, pleasant, worthy of praise etc. And it did not work. I was sad and there seemed no way out.

Depression is found to be the no. 1 killer (not cancer). Depression leads to suicide. While I never thought to kill myself when I was depressed, I have wished for Jesus to return sooner so my depression would end.

By God’s grace, I got through my depression… I went through counselling. I prayed. God held my hand through it all. Somehow, hope gets me through. Love gets me through. Faith gets me through. Looking back I realise that life experiences and sermons I heard through the years help to reinforce each other. I get to apply what I heard or what I experienced reminds me of truths I learned from those before me.

I recall a pastor once preached on sufferings. Two truths comforted me: 1) Suffering shall pass. 患难会过去。2) Suffering is universal. It is not only me.

Another pastor impressed on me that in suffering, instead of asking ‘why’, ask ‘how’: Lord, how do I go through this suffering? What lessons do you want me to learn? Show me how – what to do? I remember Jesus said: In the world, you will have troubles. But take heart, I have overcome the world. So Jesus, show me how to overcome troubles.

I also remember the pastor shared a personal story. He said when he was a pastor in Manila, his daughter was just a little girl. One hot summer, his girl came running, “Papa, it is very hot!” He told her: Papa knows. Yes, papa knows it is very uncomfortable.

Jesus knows. He became a man – born into the world to be like man. He knew grief. He wept when his friend, Lazarus died. He was a man of sorrows. He suffered the way of calvary. He rose victorious against death with his resurrection. He now sits at the right hand of God, the Father interceding for me when I am sad or depressed.

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Truly, it is a comfort to know that my heavenly Father knows. He knows everything. He made me; he knows exactly how I feel when I am sad. He knows what I am going through. So when I am sad and depressed and beyond words, how to pray or what to say to him, it comforts me to know that he knows. Somehow that is enough … to know that He is with me no matter and He gets me through… He sees me through out of the deep dark corner of nowhere – I don’t need to 钻牛角尖.

Praise the Lord!

A Tale of 3 Outcomes

Once there were 3 friends: Eggy, Spuddy and Coffy. They’re good friends even though they look different and have different personalities. Eggy is hard outside but soft and runny inside. Spuddy is hard-core and unevenly spotty outside. Coffy is small but terrible… people can smell him without seeing him.

One day, they all decided to apply for a job at a breakfast place. The owner put them to a test of boiling water. The once fragile and brittle Eggy became hard-core. The strong and tough Spuddy became mushy. Beany Coffy infused the water with his wonderful aroma that filled the whole place.

In life, we have our times of testing too. We encounter our hot-seat moments. There are times of challenges that seem to reach beyond boiling point. Often, circumstances are beyond our control. Choices are few and there seems not much that we can do. Yet different people have the choice to respond differently to similar crisis in life.

We do have a choice how we see problems in life. We can decide to learn from the mistakes we make. We can choose to look forward and move on from the situation. Trials and tests in life can make us strong or bring us down. We have the choice to become hard and jaded like Eggy; weak like Spuddy.  How about being like Coffy – turning the hot water into something flavourful and filling the air with a pleasant aroma?

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2 of being the sweet aroma of Jesus Christ to people around him.

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

Christians are not exempted from troubles of the world. Christians stand out different from the rest of the world when they decide to turn their troubles into triumphs by their proper perspectives. Paul went through a lot of hardships and persecutions for preaching Christ. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33.  He was able to overcome these challenges because he had a different lens to see through all the sufferings in life.

Christians are called to live their life as a living sacrifice to God. Paul wrote in Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you,brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Are you going through tough times, my friend? Is life hard and unbearable? Are you in hot waters? Be strong and courageous – decide to be transformed by the power of Jesus. Renew your mind and put on the lens of Jesus so that you may look through these troubles and see beyond – what the will of God is – that which is good and acceptable and perfect – to make you a pleasing aroma to the people around you! Just like Coffy – turn the hot water into something flavourful!

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