Author: Matilda Dennis Quaicoe

DENOMINATIONAL WARS

DENOMINATIONAL WARS

It is always a pleasure to answer the question “where do you worship?” or ” which church do you attend?” With this question, I can give my naughty answer. “I do not do denominations; I am in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” I was baptized an Anglican, confirmed a Methodist, went to a Catholic school and married a Pentecostal. Come to think of it, my answer may be annoying but borne out of my experience with different denominations verses the condition of the heart. When I married my husband who is Pentecostal, well-meaning friends were more interested in the scarf that would cover my hair than my spiritual growth. They would tease me by saying “so you are now going to wear “duku” which refers to an unfashionable scarf.” Fortunately, I have been one to feel comfortable wherever Christians gather so far as Jesus is at the center of the service.

Did I choose to be baptized a Methodist? No! I was still a baby, but I have been to the Methodist church several times and love their style of worship. Did I choose to be confirmed an Anglican? Yes! But I was too young to understand what I was doing. However, I absolutely love the Anglican Church and the opportunity to serve as a Sunday school teacher for close to a decade. Did I love going to a Catholic school? Certainly! But I hated waking up so early to go for mass! But boy did I love the hymns. And yes, I love the Pentecost church with all the loud clapping and wild dancing. Am I afraid to speak against any of these churches? No! I just love the diversity in worshiping the same God. In both denominations, I have witnessed sinful behavior in full glare. And the reason is simple; both denominations are filled with human beings; all of whom have sinned and fallen short of the glory as written in Romans 3:23.

“It is very interesting to witness Christians engaging in Orthodox and Charismatic wars when the real target should be winning of souls. Last Christmas, I had the privilege of visiting both an Orthodox and a Charismatic priest. During the conversation with the Orthodox priest, he felt strongly that Orthodox was the way to go since in his opinion Charismatics are too noisy and mystical. The Charismatic priest on the other hand was of the view that Orthodox Christians were too ritualistic and lacked the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. And the list of the differences goes on and on; but are we not missing the point as Christians? These self-righteous legalities are not important in these last days when souls are perishing.

Who cares about being a Catholic, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Methodist or Anglican? Who cares about whether our worship services are filled with hymns or modern day worship? Who cares about the jumping, clapping, humming or shouting in the church auditorium when souls thirst for the living water ? As for me, I can enjoy a good old hymn as well as a Pentecostal dance with loud musical instrument so far as it is all meant to praise the Lord. After all, our God is a God of diversity who can enjoy serenity as well as earth shacking music. If one pastor prefers to shout whilst the other prefers to deliver his sermon methodically, who cares? The most important thing is that there is an audience for the one who shouts as well as the one who calmly delivers his sermon. Even more important is the fact that it is the same word of God that is being preached. At the end of the day, our personal relationship with Jesus Christ supersedes whatever denomination we are affiliated to.

In Matthew 9: 37 and 38 Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Suffice it to say, God in his own wisdom has created diversity in the workers just as much as there are considerable differences in the harvest. You sometimes hear Christians firmly defending their stance whilst belittling other believers. These personal convictions are very dangerous and can lead others astray as elaborated in Romans Chapter 18. When we read the bible for ourselves, we begin to realize that it is not about the Orthodox or the Charismatic Church. It is all about receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and personal Saviour. It is about serving him in our unique ways with our diverse gifts which draws others to him.

Isn’t it interesting that receiving Jesus Christ into our hearts can take place in the Orthodox Church as much as it can take place in the Charismatic church? Even more interesting is the fact that it can take place in the Brothel, the drinking bar, the office of the tax collector and other unusual places. Did Jesus not say in Matthew Chapter 2: 17 that “he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance?” So why do we continue to place so much emphasis on church diversity and divisions while neglecting our core mandate as Christians? In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus saidgo and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  This is our core mandate as Christians!

The first day I witnessed a tremendous miracle of healing, it was not in the Orthodox or Charismatic Church. It was not even in the church auditorium; it was in the family living room! There were no hymns or recitation of psalms, there were no harps or tambourines. But present was the word of God that came to pass as found in the following verses. Matthew 18: 20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Romans 10: 13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved and Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.”

God is not a respecter of persons; after all he created every person from the greatest to the lowest. He is not interested in religious idiosyncrasies or personal convictions that people seek to impose on others with no biblical basis. He makes it clear in Galatians 3: 28 that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. Every time we engage in these denominational wars, we make it impossible for others to freely come to Christ just as they are. Let us remove our personal convictions from the way so they do not become stumbling blocks to people’s salvation. Let us rather speak the unadulterated word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to do his work.

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JOSEPHINE QUESTIONS HER LOOKS

JOSEPHINE QUESTIONS HER LOOKS

NB: This is a story about a young woman who prays to God about her struggles with her looks. It is purely fictional and a result of my imaginations. It is unrelated to any person dead or alive; any such resemblance is purely coincidental.

Josephine is the last born of her rich parents and 3 beautiful elder sisters. She was born a midget, gifted with a very high I. Q that many envied. However, due to her structure she suffered a great deal of torment from insensitive people wherever she went. Her self-esteem suffered a greater setback at home when she compared herself to her beautiful sisters with normal heights and lovely faces. Thus, she often felt lonely regardless of the love of her family and friends. Haven cried out to God several times to make her as beautiful as her sisters were, she often downplayed the great intelligence quotient God had gifted her with and couldn’t accept the way she was. She goes to God in prayer as she always does to explain her position.

Omniscient God,
How wonderful it is to come before your presence where there is no reproach or hurtful word. A peaceful moment where I feel accepted and loved by you. You encourage me in your word not to look down on myself since everything you have created is good in thy sight. With my sight, I see the beauty all around me, but fail to see what your hands have invested in me. Who can blame me? So much beauty surrounds me, I feel lost and invisible at times. Anyone who comes to my house for the first time looks at me as if I were the scar on my perfect family. The group pictures at the hall embarrass me so much I feel like smashing it and tearing myself out of it. The smiles I display in them are fake because I hate taking pictures. I am afraid to look at them afterwards.

At times, I wonder where I come from since I look so different from my sisters and anyone in my family from both parent’s side. Why didn’t the beautiful faces of my sisters find another version unto my face with dimpled cheeks and deep brown eyes? Why did you make their skins so beautiful and bright it sparkles in the night while my own complexion makes me feel so awkward around them? If my mom had not convinced me I was hers, I would have thought she and dad adopted me from an orphanage.

Living as a midget in this cruel society is the worst thing that can happen to anyone. At less than 4 feet, I feel like an outcast living among humans. I will have taken my life long ago if you did not live in my heart. Why do you create others so perfectly while others suffer in appearance? Why did you create me this way? At age 19, my height is ridiculous especially when children pass by me. I cannot even pretend to be a child because my body tells a different story. A small person with an adult’s body that is what you made me. Hmm, it is not easy living like this.

People stare at me as if I were from space. They never stop staring even when they have seen me repeatedly. How do I stop someone from staring at me even if I hate it so much? The defensive attitude I put up to protect myself makes me look mean even if I don’t want to. Do you blame me? You know I hate being the center of attention. When my sisters walk by, the attention they attract is that of admiration while the looks I receive are scornful.

The only place where I find refuge is my bedroom at home because even at home I feel out of place. I cannot tell you my family doesn’t love me because you know the truth and see all things. I have never lacked love at home though I sometimes think it is out of pity. My elder sisters look so alike I wish I looked as they did. Maybe then, I would be happier. Even though you gave me a brain and a memory even Archimedes would envy, I yearn for someone to call me beautiful. My mom always tells me how beautiful she thinks I am but she is just being kind. It will be good to hear this from a stranger. I prefer beautiful to weird or strange. Calling me weird is like a slap on my cheek; a slap I receive all the time.

I want to know how it feels to have men whistle in admiration when I pass by instead of the applauses I receive after I have won one more price. Am I being ungrateful to you? Am I asking for too much or do you understand the tender yearnings of my heart? Is it not normal for a younger sister always to adore her elder siblings and try to be like them? Is this not what many young ones yearn for? Is that not why they cry late at night when no one can hear and comfort them? Maybe if people’s comments were not so harsh, it would be bearable.

Though I am called Daddy’s little girl who lacks no material thing, I sometimes wonder if my dad truly loves me. He eagerly introduces me to his friends when they visit only when he wants to boast about his intelligent daughter who won one price or the other. But I am not the first he calls when he wants to show off his beautiful daughters. I know everyone has their weak and strong points but it pains me that my imperfections are so visible. It takes the ones who are truly kind at heart to love me for me.

With my height, I wonder what high heels will make me move with as much grace as Tracy, Ivy or Samantha. They move with such grace even with flat heels. My self-confidence flies out of the window anytime we go out as a family. I see mummy beam with smiles when people comment about how beautiful her girls look, taking after her. They then look at me as if I were a stranger. I will never forget the day her old school mate mistakenly referred to me as the house help. I felt so bad. The way mummy reprimanded her impressed me but her words had already done damage.

Fortunately, none of my family members allow negative comments about me in their presence. Mummy who can never hide her emotions is clearly the most affected. At times, she doesn’t know what to say when such issues arise in order not to hurt me more. Innocent comments she made in the past in her motherly attempt to defend me did not go down well with me as I threw childish tantrums. Moments like that are very uncomfortable for my family. Most times, I protest when they ask me to go out with them but the sad looks on their faces always change my mind.

After I read your word that stated that you created the deaf, dumb and blind alike in your own wisdom, I stopped asking myself why you made me this way. I have came to know that I am just as important as those around me but with a destiny as different as anyone else’s. You have taught me to love myself and accept myself the way I am. I have learnt to pretend so much that no one knows when I am miserable.

I need more love; I need to be told I am beautiful every time even if people don’t mean it. And when I wear a dress that does not suit me, I need a smile and not a laugh, an alternative and not a criticism. It is only in your presence that I feel safe enough to lay down my guard. I never feel ugly when I am in your presence as I do in the presence of men. You alone know what is good for me and choose to do what you will.

Last night I did it again, even though I had promised not to. When I saw the group picture we took as a family last week, I couldn’t help noticing how different I looked. When mummy commented on how lovely I looked with sincerity ringing in her voice along with the unison in my sisters’, I knew they meant it. However as I continued to look, all I could see were my flaws and how different I looked beside them. Instead of saying thank you, I turned around and left them standing there in surprise.

Why do I always blame them for something that is not their fault? I break the hearts of those who love me the most and hurt myself in the process. I am never able to address an issue without bringing in my looks even if the issues were unrelated. I am afraid I will lose them if you don’t help me change. The other day, when Tracy called me intelligent as I sat in my small corner reading my book, I know she meant no harm. But I would have preferred her calling me beautiful instead. How I wish I could just have laughed instead of glaring at her until she paled in my presence. I felt so bad because I love her so much.

Why am I unable to see beyond my looks to appreciate my other blessings? You have blessed me with an admiring intelligence exceeding someone my age. An intelligence others wish to have instead of the beauty I crave. You have given me good friends who admire the wisdom that comes out of my mouth. They prefer to hear me speak rather than endure the dry sense of humor from even the most beautiful girls. My sisters ask me for help with academic issues although I am much younger. Lord, in your wisdom you have gifted me with what is good for me. This is what will help me fulfill destiny.

Ignorant people look at me as if I were less of a human being. Others avoid me like a virus; I wonder if they know the gem in me. It takes the wise and kind at heart to know there is more to me than my awkward appearance. No one who took the time to know me has ever regretted. This is evident in the number of friends I have. They all adore me and even fight for my attention.

When my sister Samantha fell in love with that handsome man, I knew he was not right for her. I used how you created me as an illustration to save her from a heartbreak from which she might not have recovered. I listened patiently to her about how handsome he was and how lucky she was to receive attention from him. But my simple question turned the brightness in her eyes to one of confusion and realization. “When you take away that handsome cover from him, what else do you see?” She was like a blind woman who had just regained her sight. All she saw when she looked at him was his gorgeous body. I was sad at the look in her eyes and the words she seemed to stammer, for.

I could never remember a time when she was lost for words. I am grateful that you used me to save her. Beyond the muscled chest and handsome face, the young man had nothing to offer her. The hug she gave me as she cried on my shoulder was priceless. That day, you gave me a revelation I had refused to admit to myself. The fact that I do not glitter outside does not mean that I am no gold. I am grateful that you quickly dispelled the bitterness that I initially harbored. You have been my light and taught me that the body is just a cover that conceals either good or bad just as a book whose contents are unknown unless it is read.

My height can never determine my altitude. You are able to carry me on your shoulders if I cannot see above. You are my father and my maker. If I have made you unhappy by being unhappy about how your great hands have made me, please forgive me. Give me the eyes to see your spirit within me and the heart to forgive every rude stare. Give me the humor to laugh with those who have a cause to laugh at my mistakes. Let me not read much meaning into it. Help me love myself as you have loved me forever and ever amen.

RELATED BIBLE PASSAGE
1 Samuel 16:1-7
1 _ Finally, the LORD said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel. Now fill your horn with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my new king.”
2 _ But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
“Take a heifer with you,” the LORD replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the LORD. 3 _ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”
4 _ So Samuel did as the LORD instructed him. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the leaders of the town became afraid. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”
5 _ “Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them, too.
6 _ When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the LORD’s anointed!” 7 _ But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.”

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Like Josephine, do you sometimes feel you are not beautiful or important enough?
2. Do you blame God for your imperfections and wish you were like someone else?
3. What does the above scripture tell you about how the Lord judges people?
4. As human beings, how can learning from how God judges people make us accept people just as they are?
5. How does wanting to be like others instead of loving ourselves make us envious and bitter people?
6. Like Josephine, do you agree that counting our blessings bring us happiness instead of wallowing in self-pity about what we don’t have?

STOP OBSESSING OVER REPUTATION

STOP OBSESSING OVER REPUTATION

Few weeks ago, I learnt a lesson about how a person’s reputation can easily be ruined without their knowledge. After attending the wedding ceremony of a dear friend, I came home to check my Facebook account to see whether I had a message. I did have a message but not the kind I was expecting. It went like this “I just want you to know your page has been hacked. I was tagged in some porn and I know it wasn’t you, who tagged me, so be careful.” This was a message from my high school mate.

In horror, I looked on my timeline and realized my account was sending out pornographic content to my contacts. I was mortified by the mere sight of the nasty pictures on my wall. Few days before I had seen similar images on a friend’s wall and reported it to face book; I realized that was how my account was also affected. It was a malware that just wouldn’t go away. Whilst I was out there supporting my friend at her wedding, my Facebook page was busily sending out porn.

I have about a thousand contacts on Facebook made up of family, close friends, old school mates, working colleagues, Sunday school teachers and students, friends of my sisters, fellow Christian bloggers, admirers and people I just accepted as friends. Being the private person that I am, it is only a few people out of the 1,000 friends on Facebook who really know me. So imagine these people tagged in pornographic content from my account! How could they vouch for me without really knowing me?

It was about 12am and I was changing passwords and doing everything possible to ensure that the problem was solved. I had not yet realized it was a malware as I continued changing passwords countless times. Anytime I changed my password, my account would just send out a new set of pornographic videos to my contacts. I knew if I did not quickly solve the problem, my reputation would be ruined. I wondered what the over 900 Facebook friends who did not know me too well would think. Would it be easy for them to believe that I wasn’t behind the images on their wall? What would they think of me?

As these questions run through my mind, I began to realize how I had quickly misjudged the gentleman who had sent the first pornographic image to my friend’s wall. Apparently, he had also been attacked by a malware and was not deliberately sending out the nasty images. But I had told my friend to unblock the gentleman for shamelessly posting the images on her wall. His reputation had been destroyed without his knowledge. I did not know him but I had made up my mind about him by virtue of the unfortunate circumstances he had not intentionally generated. In the same way, I know my reputation had been destroyed by someone who did not know me or understand the workings of computer spam.

The bible tells us in Proverbs chapter 22: 1 “a good name is better than riches and favour better than silver or gold. This verse serves as an encouragement to choose my reputation over money. But, “how can one protect his or her own reputation when they are unaware it is being destroyed in certain quarters? How do you defend yourself from falsehood when you do not even know what is being whispered at your back? When all evidence points to the fact that someone is indeed guilty when they may in fact be innocent, how can they be vindicated?

There is a popular saying that “Let them say, but let it not be true!” But what if the things people say are so damaging and worse of all what if people believe them? When I began reading the news on one of Ghana’s popular television station at a very young age, I was exposed to the world of reputation destroyers. Matilda; I heard you were dating a business tycoon. Tilly, I hear you left the television station after getting pregnant out of wedlock. I hear Matilda was dating a Married Doctor. Etc. These are just a few interesting things I heard about myself that shocked me.

They were untrue and I wondered about the motives of those who generated these lies and the rest who had time to spread them. Sometimes I wonder the things I am yet to hear and those that I will never be privy to or have the chance to refute. Previously, I would be sad when I heard something about me that was a total lie and a dent on my reputation. But one day whilst lamenting about some of the damaging things I had heard, my mum told me to prepare for more.

Her words were, “you will hear worse things and if you cannot take these little lies, then I wonder how you will react when the bigger lies surface.” That was all I needed to stop worrying unnecessarily about what someone said about me or worse still what someone thinks about me. People will continue to talk no matter how well behaved we are and as imperfect human beings, our flaws will also be discussed. An elderly woman once told me that when two people meet, it is unlikely that they would discuss a tree when human beings were passing by. A more interesting discussion would be about the passersby.

A good name is indeed better than riches; but unfortunately, innocent people have had their reputations destroyed by slanderers, gossips, plain liars and acts of carelessness. For example a newspaper may publish an untruth about a person or organization without the necessary checks only to realize it is false. A good reputation is destroyed causing emotional turmoil to the individual, organization and their loved ones. The story may be retracted and an apology written by the same newspaper. However, those who read the initial false report may never see the retraction or apology. For those people, that person or organization is just bad news.

With such happenings, should we be too concerned when our reputation is damaged out of no fault of ours? As followers of Jesus Christ, I believe we should be concerned about reputation but not obsess over it. This is because we cannot defend ourselves everywhere all the time. We can pray to God to vindicate us and use that unfortunate incident for his glory. If we get the chance to defend ourselves, we may choose to take the necessary steps to restore our damaged reputation and just move on with our lives.

In the case of the pornographic content I described above, I quickly sent out messages to apologize stating clearly that I was not the one who sent them. But I know it is not everyone who will see the message or even believe me. Do I keep on torturing myself by trying to convince everyone that I was not to blame for those nasty videos? No! Even Jesus Christ continues to have his fair share of reputation destruction despite the good works he did whilst here on earth.

If our savior Jesus Christ had been too concerned about reputation, do you think he would have dined with Zacchaeus the hated tax collector “Luke 19:1-10”? Would he have been in a private conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well “John 4: 1-26”? Do you think he would have taken the time to defend an adulterous woman “John 8: 1-11”? Would he have allowed a sinful woman to wet his feet with her tears“Matthew 26: 7”?

I believe His ministry would not have been successful had he obsessed over a good reputation. If you google Jesus’s history, you will come up with surprising information some very ridiculous. Some say he married Mary Magdalene and had children with her; yet still others rubbish His entire ministry. But with all the power he has, why does he not just wave his hands and make all those malicious lies disappear? Romans Chapter 3: 4 says “May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “that you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

In my opinion, for the truth to be made manifest, it must be placed alongside lies for discerning minds to choose what to believe. Sometimes even the most discerning minds may be confused, especially when the lies seem so truthful. However, if we are to succeed in discerning the truth, we must not be too quick to believe whatever we hear or see. It is said that seeing is believing; but I have come to realize it is not always wise to believe everything we see. For those of us whose reputation has been dented at some point in our lives, Let us encourage ourselves with the old saying; “Let them say but let it not be true!”

WHY SHE WALKED AWAY FROM MARRIAGE

WHY SHE WALKED AWAY FROM MARRIAGE

NB: This is a story about a divorced christian woman who prays to God about her painful experience in marriage. It is purely fictional and a result of my active imaginations. It is unrelated to any person dead or alive; any such resemblance is purely coincidental.


Mabel had done all she could to hold on to her marriage. She had endured her husband’s physical and emotional abuse at the expense of her joy. She took her marriage vow seriously and knew divorce was not an option for her. Haven been brought up in a broken home herself she determined none of her three children would ever experience her predicament. As a respected member of her church and women’s leader, she helped other women hold on to their marriage as she silently suffered. However, when her husband hit their eight year old daughter one day in a fit of rage, the thin line holding their marriage broke. She had taken all the pain and unfaithfulness from Robert. However, she was not ready to sacrifice her children. Thus, even though she had held on to the fact that God hated divorce for so long, she took a bold decision. No one could change her mind as she went through a painful divorce. But she knew that the lord who hated divorce did not hate her for that one important decision, her divorce.

My dear lord,
You know I have tried. I have done all I know how to hold on to this marriage though I knew for a long time I was chasing the wind. How many times have I not fasted and prayed that you heal my marriage? How many times have I not wet my pillow with tears as I cried my heart out to you? How long have I called on to you to save my marriage and turn back my husband’s heart to you? I have lost count and you alone have the mind to remember.

Why me? All I have tried to do is to live by the Christian tenets in my attempt to please you. If I had known behind that gentle look and handsome face was a monster that lived in Robert, I would have gladly died a spinster. If I knew behind the biblical quotations he gave, were abusive words that could tear at a person’s soul, I would have ended up with an unbeliever. If I knew he waited to marry me to have sex only for him to cheat on me because of his insatiable sexual desires, I would have avoided him like a plaque.

If I knew he pretended not to drink before me only to booze in secret, I would have confined myself in a convent. Why me Lord? After all the waiting, did you have to bless me with this curse? I thought he loved you as I did so I did not hesitate in marrying him though we didn’t meet for long. What was there to know when he was a junior pastor admired by many? How could I say no to our pastor who gave his blessing to our marriage when I told him of his intentions to marry me? At first I thought the lion was the most dangerous animal but now I fear the chameleon more than any wild beast.

How does one perfectly hide his true character even from a man of God who had known him for so long? Even though I was 26 when we got married I was in no hurry since I was content in waiting for your will. It saddens me that I believed our pastor entirely instead of carefully seeking your will. He is even dismayed about the way our marriage has turned out and blames himself for my pain. But what use will that do? My broken heart cannot be mended and I am devastated.

How could a man who said he loved me bring me so much pain? How could the one I freely gave myself to turn around and force himself on me when I was so tired from doing all the house chores? How did the so-called humility turn to such egotistic chauvinism? How did I get here? I am wearing my mother’s shoes though I vowed never to break my home. But what is there to break when the hearts are already broken?

Where did I go wrong? Have I not been the virtuous woman in proverbs 31? Have I not submitted myself to him even when I knew I was right? Have I not endured humiliation and lied to my colleagues at work about the bruises he gave me on the face? have I not subjected myself to all sorts of humiliation for his sake? What more could a person do? I wonder how you felt when you looked down at my pathetic life. Did you feel my pain? Did you wish to hold me in your arms as I cried myself to sleep.

When older Christian women who I confided in urged me to hold on to my marriage, I totally agreed with them. After all, you hate divorce. I did not want my children to be fatherless as I saw the effect this had on my own brothers who went wayward. It is sad when the bible is misused to encourage women to endure abuse. I now marvel at the strength you gave me these eight years of marriage.

I loved him so much and accepted his apologies that followed immediately after each abuse. My house is filled with gifts he gave me after his bad behavior and his promise to change. Why not, after all no one is perfect. But I have endured so much for this marriage and there comes a time when one can take no more. I didn’t deserve to be treated that way because I never used my higher education to Lord it over him. I saw him as the man in every way because I wanted to please you. However, although I submitted, where was the love?

Is the man not supposed to love his wife as Christ died for the church and died for it? Why should a woman submit to a man who does not submit to you? Is this submission not supposed to be a two way thing? Help your daughters God, for your words are being manipulated to suit evil. I have gambled greatly and lost though I have come out wiser and tougher. No wonder my mom did not approve him. When she told me there was something about him she didn’t like although she did not know what it was, I just laughed.

I called her an old woman and teased her though she was obstinate. I should have listened to her and taken my time to know him more in spite of the outward perfection he displayed. I was in love and blind but refused to heed the eyes that could see beyond the handsome pastor. Life is not fair but I take this as my share of its unfairness. I know I should have left the first time he hit me but I thought he would change. After all, he told me he was sorry. A thousand sorries and he never changed.

I was too ashamed to leave a marriage I had just entered for fear of what people would say. I should have used the opportunity I had when I was not yet pregnant to escape but no one held my hand and helped me. All I was told was to stay and pray until he changed. Oh what a cross I have had to carry at this young age? What did I do wrong? Is it a crime to love? Was I wrong to hope and pray for his change?

You know how it took a long time for people to believe he abused me. I protected him so much at the detriment of my life and now I regret it. I should have opened up an sought for help but I thought you would be angry with me. When he refused counseling, I should have left. Instead I stayed on, hoping and praying for the miracle of change that never came. I held on to something that was not.

I wonder why I stayed on when he was unfaithful to me even though I caught him red handed with that young woman at his office? I now look back at my folly and cringe in disgust because I feel I threw the wisdom you gave me away. I was foolish but in love. Anytime he said he was sorry I melted. He was my first love and what I felt for him was so deep. God, it was hard and even if no one believes me; you could always see with your omnipresent eyes.

This divorce is so difficult for me but when he hit my daughter Emelda, I stopped deceiving myself. The fierceness of a mother’s protection over her daughter took over and I went mad. I still remember her sprawled on the kitchen floor and I know I would never have forgiven myself if something terrible had happened to her. I can still hear the terrible screams of my two younger boys as they looked on in horror.

When I saw fear enter Robert’s eyes for the first time, I knew the bitterness in me had overcome my fear. If he had not run away, I would surely have stabbed him with the kitchen knife and went to prison for murder. Never again will I endure such nonsense and indignity. Never again will I put my children’s life in danger at the mercy of this beast. Never again! Thank you for the courage to remain obstinate despite his pleas and that of his family members to give him another chance.

Even the Pope couldn’t have coerced me to rescind my decision. I now realize I was waiting for a moment when I would rise above my fear to claim my dignity. I no more care what people say because I have realized that society has been unsympathetic toward divorcees. They say the word as if we are an inferior part of society. God help me, but this time I care less.

I am glad I have a good job to support my children and that my family is willing to support me. I now realize my loved ones were always there to lend a hand though I kept the truth from them. I pretended to be strong though I was tearing apart. I thought I could face it alone but now I know better. I am not as weak as I thought I was or helpless like I was made to think. The woman in me is stronger now and with your help, I know I can make it.

I am glad the law has allocated the properties perfectly and I have no financial concern. Even if I did, I know your provision will suffice. Thank you for the three beautiful children you have given me because at least I did not lose it all in this terrible marriage. You blessed me with fruitfulness despite my situation. You are a good God!

I don’t know if I will ever get married again for marriage has left a bitter taste in my mouth and I don’t want to taste it again. When I remember how he used to stand at the pulpit preaching; I feel so angry at the hypocrisy. I sometimes wonder if the congregation could not see through him. But who am I to judge how someone receives their salvation? You alone know why you do what you do. No wonder some pastors caution us not to use their righteousness as a yardstick due to their imperfection.However, how does one separate the two? Is a person’s character not supposed to conform to his teachings? You alone know, I will not judge.

I am glad the police report put fear in him and he has been warned not to come near us. I hear he was suspended because the senior bishop was disgusted with his ways. However, it brings me no joy since he is the father of my children and I wish him well. I am so relieved I have left that church to a peaceful one where no hands will be pointed at my children and me. I am so much at peace and envy the single who disregard their solitude in their quest for a marriage that may not end well.

I am so happy now and confident of your love and your ability to heal me completely. I am doing better at work and the promotion could not have come at a better time. Tears no longer wet my bed and sleep has visited me again. You are faithful and I love you. I thank you for seeing me through this bitter experience that could have killed me. In counseling battered Christian women, I have become more experienced and wiser. I will not make decisions for them but I will share my experience and leave them to decide. After all the choice has always been ours to make. Even you who are God never force us.

Help me raise these children with your support and that of my loved ones. My children are less anxious and it makes me happy. I will do the best I can; as far as you are with me I cannot fail. If it is your will for me to marry again, let it be. But next time; I will look before I leap. Thank you father, that although you hate divorce, you still love me. Amen.

RELATED BIBLE PASSAGE
PROVERBS 4
1 _ My children, listen to me. Listen to your father’s instruction. Pay attention and grow wise, 2for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my teaching. 3 _ For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child.
4My father told me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my instructions and you will live. 5 _ Learn to be wise, and develop good judgment. Don’t forget or turn away from my words. 6Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. 7 _ Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgment. 8 _ If you prize wisdom, she will exalt you. Embrace her and she will honor you. 9She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.”
10 _ My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. 11I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. 12 _ If you live a life guided by wisdom, you won’t limp or stumble as you run. 13 _ Carry out my instructions; don’t forsake them. Guard them, for they will lead you to a fulfilled life.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. Do you think Christian women sometimes refuse to leave abusive relationships using the bible as their basis?
2. Like Mabel, do you think the word of a pastor or spiritual head should be the most important consideration in choosing a life partner?
3. Does submission in a marriage mean a women should endure abuse at the detriment of her life and children?
4. Do you think God hates Mabel because of her divorce?
5. How do you think the church can support abusive women in the congregation?

COUNSELLING MARRIED WOMEN GONE WRONG

COUNSELLING MARRIED WOMEN GONE WRONG

As a Christian counsellor, I have told myself I am not fit to venture into marriage counselling until I have been married for at least ten years. If you come to me for advice on marriage, I will sweetly smile at you and refer you to several biblical verses and passages. I may even tell you what I was told at premarital counselling and recommend several books for you to read. But I will do this as a friend and not as a marriage counselor. I say this because many people have ruined marriages through inexperienced marital counselling. I have always wanted to help people going through challenging circumstances hence my decision to pursue Biblical counselling. However, I am not proud of how I handled a particular case few years ago when i had not been formally trained.

A dear friend of mine confided in me about how she was having problems in her marriage of four years. Before the marriage, the guy exhibited anger traits which I cautioned her about. My friend also had a short fuse so I was worried the two of them could have terrible clashes. However, she went ahead and married him because she felt she was not growing younger. I was still happy for her because she seemed very happy with her choice; after all, no one is perfect. The first time she opened up to me, I just gave a listening ear as I did not want to say I told you so. However, I was unhappy she was suffering so much. She told me the only reason why she had not walked out of her marriage was because of the twin boys they had been blessed with.

I was on my way to work one day when I had an SOS call from her. She lamented about how she was unhappy and wanted to get a divorce. She sounded desperate and recounted several instances that justified her stance. As I heard the pain in her voice, I found myself getting angry at her husband. Before I could stop myself, I told her to go ahead with her decision if her husband was making her so unhappy. Thank God, that divorce never saw the light of Day! I was single and inexperienced; I felt I was helping a dear friend. But can you imagine the damage my advice would have caused if she had followed through with it? Today, after being married for sometime, I can boldly say I would have given her better advice. I know better now.

It is easy staying at the other side and giving advice until you step on the same side. I began to realize the issues she was complaining about are very common in marriage. Even though she was my friend, I should have just empathized with her and encouraged her with scripture. I should have pointed out to her in love the fact that she was someone who was easily angered and had to also work on herself. But because I was single and had no practical experience in marriage life; I advised her as though I was advising someone in a premarital relationship. This experience has thought me, what our elders say is true. Experience is indeed the best teacher. Theory is good, but it can never outweigh the knowledge garnered out of experience.

Sometimes we feel insulted when our advice is not taken seriously because we are perceived to be inexperienced. I once felt that way when two colleagues described a marriage scenario that seemed unbelievable. When one of them told me and another single colleague that we would understand when we got married, we felt insulted. In fact I thought they were making fun of those of us in the single ladies’ club. Looking back, I have come to realize they meant no harm. It took me few months in marriage to come to this realization. However, I may never have understood them had I remained single.

Recently, I was so intimidated when my mother told me she would rank herself 50% in her marriage of over 30 years. I was shocked; this is a woman I wouldn’t rank less than 85% in how I have watched her handle her marriage. Her Godly attributes coupled with her resilience and tenacity as well as her ability to handle difficulties, have taught me a lot. I always marvel at her level of endurance and strength which is concealed in her weakness. So imagine how I felt when she told me she would rank herself 50%. According to her, a 75 year old woman she once knew asked her 80 year old husband for a divorce after they had been married for close to 50 years. Even though it sounded funny, she deduced marriage is an unending learning process. It is a school where there are no graduates.

Titus chapter 2: 3- 5 says “teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead they should teach others what is good. They should train the younger women to love their husbands and children; to live wisely and be pure, to do good, to be submissive to their husbands, so they will not bring shame to the word of God.” Today, there are so many people counselling women without experience or the wisdom of age. We can learn from Titus that age and experience is a requirement in counseling married women. But let us note that for these older women to qualify as marriage counselors, they are “to live in a way that honors God, they are not to slander or be heavy drinkers”.

From this verse, we can also learn that the fact that a woman has been married for decades does not qualify her to counsel younger women. If the way she lives does not honor the Lord, her counsel must be received with caution. A remarkable elderly woman who was able to assist a younger woman with her words of wisdom was Naomi as recounted In Ruth 3: 1-53 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.”

As a result of Naomi’s advice to her daughter in law who was much younger, Ruth was able to secure a good husband. She gave birth to Obed who had Jessie; the father of the great King David. From the generation of the great King David came Jesus Christ through whom the world was redeemed. This is what wise counsel can do! Imagine if Naomi had given wrong counsel to the younger Ruth or worse still withheld her advice! Marriage counseling is no joke and must not be taken lightly. One advice is capable of turning a marriage around for the better or for the worse. Thus, the receiver of the counsel must be very cautious in putting to practice whatever has been recommended.

According to proverbs chapter 11: 15 “Where there is no counsel, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. Here, there is an acknowledgement that counseling can be used to avoid pitfalls. However, it also advocates seeking other opinions especially when one is not too comfortable with a particular direction. Thus, we are safer when we do not rush to implement counseling strategies but ponder and pray until we have a peace about it. Prayer is very important because a strategy that worked well for a particular marriage may backfire in another. The fact that Boaz did not reject Ruth does not mean every woman who follows this example will end up with a husband.

Another issue of concern when it comes to marital counselling is when men counsel women. This has been known to lead to the development of wrong emotional attachments from the counsellor, the counsellee or both. Imagine a married woman sitting in a man’s office discussing intimate details of her marriage in the absence of her husband. The man may be a pastor, apostle, bishop or pope, but underneath the important looking demeanor is a man with flesh and blood. Listening to such information and trying to rescue someone’s damsel in distress can lead to an unexpected trap of sexual immorality. No wonder we hear of mighty men of God brought down by sexual scandals. Every human being is prone to temptation and must be careful to run away from it like Joseph did in the house of Potiphar.

Perhaps that is why Titus advocates women counseling women and not men counselling women. This is regardless of how spiritually strong these men are perceived to be. If elderly women seriously take up the role of leading younger women towards the right path, a lot of mistakes will be avoided not only in the counselling room but also in marriage. Problems that seem so overwhelming to young wives will gradually become trivial as we learn from experienced Godly women. Today’s generation is lucky to have so many helpful resources in the form of books written by elderly women of wisdom and other video and audio guides. The word of God is also ever present and serves as a guide by which every counsel can be measured to avoid pitfalls.

Oh and there is also one light-hearted reason why marriage counseling is not for me until my 10th wedding anniversary. I was recently venting out to my husband about how a colleague’s husband was misbehaving. I spoke out my mind about how terribly he was treating her. My husband took me by surprise by asking if that was how I was going to counsel those in marriage distress. It was good to tell him I would not get involved in marriage counselling until we were married for ten years. With this in mind, he can’t reprimand me for knowing better as a Christian counsellor when my imperfections surface occasionally. As they surely will since I am only a sinner saved by grace.

 

RAPED BY THE ONE YOU TRUST

RAPED BY THE ONE YOU TRUST

NB: This is a fictional story of a rape victim’s prayer; any similar encounter you may have unfortunately experienced or heard about is purely coincidental. The characters and description are purely my active imaginations. No matter how you look at it, rape is not easy for the victim and her family; especially when it involves another family member. But it is real and dates back to biblical times as in the story of Tamar and Amnon found in 2nd Samuel 13:1-21.


Continue reading “RAPED BY THE ONE YOU TRUST”

ME AND MY ITCHY EARS!

ME AND MY ITCHY EARS!

Are you a Lebanese? Wait a minute, was he referring to me? I was trapped, I couldn’t turn left or right; it was me alright. The man of God was looking straight at me, asking a question. Every member of the congregation looked to me for an answer. Unfortunately, it was not in the affirmative as they expected. No, I am not Lebanese, I responded. I didn’t add that the blood running through me is 100% Ghanaian although it can be argued that there is a foreign trace from my mother’s lineage.

This was one of the powerful prophets in Ghana or was I wrong? At least that is what I had been told by some respectable colleagues. How come he couldn’t detect I wasn’t Lebanese? Okay let me be merciful to him; he is not the only one to mistake me for someone who comes from another part of the world. Maybe the blonde streaks I had added to my hair contributed to his confusion. But I was surprised a prophet of such repute would make such a mistake. Could it be that he was looking at the physical rather than tapping into the spiritual?

As if that was not enough, he went on to tell me horrible things that the devil had in store for me. Some of the leading questions he asked were totally off track, but I could not vindicate myself. He said things about me that was directly opposite to the reality. But what could I do; I was in the midst of strangers who could not vouch for me. Anytime I answered differently to what he expected me to say, the congregation reacted as if I was lying. What would you do in such a horrible situation? I chose to remain silent and pray that he would quickly finish his prophecy and move on to his next victim. Thank God it was soon over!

What a shame! I wondered what those present would think of me. Fortunately, they were entranced with listening to his banter with his next victim. I was already forgotten; but as for me, I could never forget. This experience left me in fear as I thought of all the evil things the devil had in store for. I couldn’t take my mind of how helpless I had been to defend myself from the untruths in the prophecy. I would wake up in the middle of the night in fear. Unable to take it anymore, I recounted my ordeal to members of my church’s weekly prayer group. They held my hand and prayed for me. God being so good, I was totally set free from that spirit of fear and evil forebodings.

In another incidence, a friend of mine invited myself and other friends to an all-night prayer service in her home. The so-called man of God who was invited to lead the prayer service began prophesying to each of us. When it got to my turn, he told me he had told my friend I would come to the service. And that it was time for me to get closer to God. The way he spoke, it was as if, I did not know God. He sounded as if he had waved a magic wand to get me into the presence of God, my Father. Does this man know who he is talking about at all, I asked myself.

Funny, how people misjudge others from appearance. Interesting how a woman with long robes and a face without makeup is considered holier than the other with a different fashion taste. Don’t get me wrong, I am not referring to improper dressing that exposes what needs to be covered. Or could it be the fact that in my youthful exuberance, I had added two more piercings to my poor ears? Maybe that made it look like there was a wide chasm between God and me. In any case; it was not fun to have someone who knew nothing about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ sound so judgmental.

I remember my younger sister and I desperately wanted to attend an all-night prayer service few years ago. The man of God scheduled to attend had visited our church few weeks ago and we had taking a liking to his teachings. It was being organized by an Anglican church in a community not too far from ours. We were told it was going to be held in a particular high school in that community. Unfortunately, the school we had asked the taxi driver to drive us to was not the one in which the service would be held. But it was too late; the driver had driven off oblivious to our plight. However, we realized there was another Christian prayer service also taking place at that venue.

Are we not serving the same God, we deliberated? If we missed the all-night prayer service at the Anglican Church, we could just join these other worshipers. Maybe God had purposefully directed us to this particular service; we reasoned. After all, like a friend of mine would say, if Jesus is at the center of a service then all Christians are welcome. So my sister Isabella and I made our way to the unknown prayer service. Another surprise! We were entering from the rear end of the church, so the pastor who was standing before the congregation was the only one who could see us. Just then, we heard him say that he had seen in the spirit that two women were about to join the service.

Wait a minute, were we dreaming? Isabella and I looked at each other in surprise not knowing whether to venture into the service or retreat. She followed my lead and went in, but we both knew we had to leave as soon as possible. We had missed it again! We courteously sat for a few minutes and slipped out during their time of praise and worship. Here we were, two young women out in the dark simply because we wanted to go to church! What were we going to do? We were in the middle of nowhere, and we did not want to go back home without attending the all-night prayer service. We prayed and asked God to send help; after all we were out there because of him.

Luckily, we spotted another taxi driver and told him about the Anglican Church service taking place in that community. He assured us he knew where to locate it; according to him, he had just dropped off some passengers at the service. So my sister and I sat in the taxi with me directly behind the driver and my sister by my side. It was in the name of self- defense or an unforeseen attack. That should tell you how scared we were though we did not let it show. Thank God, we did arrive safely to familiar and safer territories. The Church service was in full swing and we could see familiar faces dancing happily. What a relief! Our fear evaporated as we joined them in their joyful praises. We had arrived just in time for the sermon we had not wanted to miss.

These experiences have me very skeptical about prophecies and prophets in general. As a result, anytime I attend a prophetic service, I pray to God that if he has not spoken, no one should speak to me in his name. Thank God it has worked so far! But to tell you the truth, there are times I sit in such a service and wish the man of God would prophesy to me too. I know you are thinking, Matilda! Don’t you ever learn? Of course, I have learnt from my horrible experiences. But when I encounter a true man of God who does not speak unless God has spoken, I want a word! Can I get a witness?

I remember attending such a service with my sister Gloria. We were sitting right under the nose of this powerful man of God. I was in a bright yellow dress that shone brightly in the midst of the others. He would move past us and give wonderful prophecies to those around us and even those sitting behind us. Can’t he see anything? I whispered to my sister. Hmmm, my little sister sighed obviously also eager to hear something good from the man of God. I desperately wanted to know what God had in store for me.

Would it be a wonderful job or my wedding date? Would it be my sister’s secret desire or something special about my mum? Or would it be about my other younger sisters Alberta or Isabella? Wouldn’t it be nice to surprise them at home about how the prophet had seen something about them in their absence? And it was a day when God chose to spare his children from terrible prophecies. I tapped my feet impatiently and held my breath anytime he came close to us. Was he coming to tell me something? But again he would move on to someone sitting close to my sister and me. It was as if we did not exist.

The prophecies were flowing and almost everyone in the congregation seemed to receive a word. Finally, God had mercy on us and asked the man of God to give us a word. We had almost given up and were not expecting him to stop in front of us. However, he came to us and looked me straight in the eye. Guess what he said? God is in control! He turned to my sister and repeated the words God is in control. I waited eagerly for more but he just moved on to the next person. Wait a minute, was that all? I wondered, looking at my sister. What about a new car, a scholarship or a better job opportunity? God is in control? I already knew that!

I laugh at myself anytime I think of this particular encounter. Me and my itchy ears! But I now realize it was a very beautiful prophecy that spoke to my situation at the time. This was a prophet who was not moved to speak when God had not spoken. And this virtue is rare at a time when pleasing people has become more important than pleasing God. Yes, I have gone on to have other specific prophecies after that encounter. It has not all been positive; the devil still has some wicked things in store for me. However, I have a peace about it, since it did not come from a physical influence but the spirit of God. I know the victory had already been won. God reveals to redeem!

1 Corinthians 14:1-40 says “14 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

As for me, I have been both edified and obfuscated by prophecy. But it has played a very vital role in my spiritual walk. I would have given up in certain areas of my life but for the edification and encouragement I received through prophecy. According to Acts 2:17-18 “in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”

Prophecy is a beautiful spiritual gift that will be poured on so many believers in these last days. This is according to the above scripture. But if we are not circumspect, it will do us more harm than good. So let us not ignore 1 John 4: 1 that cautions “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Even as many wolves walk among the flock, let us not rubbish prophecies as admonished in “1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good.”

THE PREMARITAL SEX THREAT

THE PREMARITAL SEX THREAT

When I tune in to relationship programs, I hear too often young women lamenting about how their partners have threatened to leave them if they do not give in to sex. Some of them sound so desperate it is as if their world has come to an end. What breaks my heart is that some fall prey to this blackmail. They actually give in to these premarital sexual demands against their will. Unfortunately, their partners sometimes find other excuses to leave them anyway. I have tried to get into the minds of these precious women to find out why they get themselves entangled in such deceit.

Precious woman, if any man who claims to love you makes such threatening demands of you, this is how I suggest you respond. “Do you not know that my body is the temple of God, I prefer God’s presence to your absence. So walk out and never come back, until you are ready to put a ring on my finger!” Open the door for him to walk or ran out depending on your mood. Instead of crying, jump and shout Hallelujah! Thank God for saving you from disappointment, guilt, heartache, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and the list goes on. This may sound too harsh but the man who truly loves you will be patient until the time is right.

This suggestion may sound scary especially for a woman who has strong feelings for her partner. However, it may also be a way of escaping a dangerous trap. 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 says 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Threatening to leave you unless you give in to premarital sexual demands does not reflect the love described above.

In trying to answer the question of why a woman would give in to such threatening demands, five factors come to mind. 1. She may not have fully comprehended the love of Christ. 2. She underestimates how valuable she is. 3. She may be afraid of human beings rather than the God who cautions her not to defy her body. 4. She has not understood the plans God has for her and 5. She falsely believes she will be left alone, the rest of her life if she should say no and let go.

I recently wrote the words “God loves me unconditionally every day” and pasted it on my bathroom wall. I wanted these words to sink deep into my spirit and soul. I do not want to become so reliant on the love of fellow human beings that I get disappointed if my expectations are not met. As imperfect human beings, we are prone to make mistakes which can make us unlovable. We are sometimes rude, lazy, irresponsible, annoying, insensitive, immoral and selfish. These behaviors can make even those who truly love us keep their distance. I am yet to experience a time when Christ abandoned me because of my many imperfections.

We have heard so often that God loves us that it has become a Cliché. It is more romantic to hear Isaac loves you or Daniel loves you rather than God loves you. After all, can you feel the physical touch of God as that of a real man? Can you audibly hear his deep voice as that of a man that can make shivers run down your spine when he says “I love you”? Probably not, but we can be assured of his unconditional love for us. Romans 5:8, tells us “God commanded his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. When we begin to truly believe in his love, no man or woman can ever make us feel unloved.

According to Matthew 6:26 “the birds of the air do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are we not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 10:29-31 also says “29 are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” So, whether we like it or not, we are valuable and must begin to see ourselves as such. The value we place on ourselves has a direct correlation with the value others place on us.

In Psalm 139:13-16 King David wrote “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” If you have ever doubted how special you are, let this verse serve as a reminder.

We are told in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear here refers to the reverence we have for the Lord our maker. So in the scenario where a woman’s partner threatens to leave her if she refuses his sexual demands, her reaction will determine who she reveres, God or Man. 1st Corinthians 6:19 admonishes “19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own”. Precious woman, your choice speaks clearly of who you revere.

In Acts 5: 29 when Peter and the other apostles were warned not to teach in the name of the Lord, they replied “We must obey God rather than human beings! They were more concerned with pleasing God and did not care for their lives. So if you are asked to give in to sin to satisfy man’s desires, who will you obey? If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom as stated above, then in such a scenario, we can say the fear of man is the beginning of folly.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is one of my all-time favorite memory verses. It assures me that though life may not make sense at times, it is not the will of God to put me in harm’s way. So if a relationship threatens to harm you, please consider this verse. Be confident of the fact, that it is not the will of God for your life. The future is bright, all hope is not lost.

When a woman is desperately looking forward to getting married, it is easier for her to fall prey to such demands. For instance a woman in her late 20s or early 30s may feel she may be sabotaging her marriage by saying no. The fear of remaining lonely or probably not meeting a better man may make her compromise despite her Christian believes. Sadly, loved ones expected to give encouragement during difficult times sometimes do the opposite. They accuse the already confused lady of being unreasonable.

She is constantly reminded sometimes subtly, that her biological clock is ticking. They portray giving in to sex as such a small sacrifice necessary to secure a life partner. They may even go to the extent of telling her more horrendous sacrifices they themselves had to make to secure their husbands. In times like these, self -motivation is a necessity. There is also the need to always remember that we are accountable to God and not man. Precious one, God is capable of raining down manna from heaven! Will he not grant you the desires of your heart?

I love Don Moen’s song “God will make a way where there seems to be no way”. It speaks directly to the heart of a woman who finds herself in such a dilemma. Sticking to your principles may not make sense to others, but the day God honors your obedience, they will come to understand. God does not put his children to shame! Precious woman “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Wait for the Lord! “ Psalm 27:14.

When you stand firm and say no to sin, you may lose friends, loved ones and even family. They may not accept your decision and may even reject you in anger. All of a sudden, you are left alone. The partner you boldly resisted is gone from your life; those you assumed you could count on are nowhere to be found. You feel all hope is lost and even regret your decision. You keep asking yourself if you made the right decision; you wonder if your principles are worth losing those you love. The devil wastes no time in reminding you it is not too late to change your mind.

But that is also a lie of the enemy; you are not alone according to Deuteronomy 31: 6. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” You are not alone, God loves you, you are valuable, he has good plans for you and in his time, he will make all things beautiful. Until then, Bask in his unconditional love, it is a free gift! Always remember, “God loves you unconditionally every day!”

photo credit: Conversation via photopin (license)

VIVIAN’S FORNICATION STORY

VIVIAN’S FORNICATION STORY

NB: This is a story about a young woman who prays to God about her struggles with fornication. It is purely fictional and a result of my imaginations. It is unrelated to any person dead or alive; any such resemblance is purely coincidental.

At age 19, Vivian’s world is not as perfect as everyone seems to think. With her beautiful voice, she can charm the entire congregation and has gained the respect of both the young and old.  Many parents wished their daughters’  could possibly turn out to be as decent and innocent as Vivian. Her mother is so proud of her, thinking her beloved daughter is the perfection she couldn’t be. Unfortunately, she has her own secret sins and is not proud of herself . She had been struggling with fornication with Stephen who also attends the same church as a pianist and secretly grieves this issue. The perfection people see in her makes it more difficult to cope and she feels unworthy in God’s eyes. Time without number she has tried to stop fornicating but to no avail. Unable to share this with anyone for fear of rejection, she always asks God to forgive her after the act, promising never to do it again. Sadly, she always finds herself back on her knees asking her heavenly father to forgive her one more time. Perhaps next time, she may have the strength to say, No!


Dear God, I did it again.

Why is it so difficult for me to stop? Am I always going to disappoint you like this? This time I tried harder than ever before, only to fall down on my face with defeat. Maybe I did not try hard enough! Is the spirit in me so weak it can no longer subdue the desires of my flesh? Will you forgive me this time just as you did last week and the week before? Maybe it is too much to ask but what about last month? I struggle to believe you no longer remember my sins in your unforgettable mind.  At church today when Pastor Nelson preached about how you forgive and remember our sins no more, I knew he was telling the truth. For your words are exalted above your name.

However, doubt holds my mind captive. Is it true you have already forgotten what I confessed to you the last time I was here, sobbing on my knees as I begged for forgiveness? Unfortunately, I am here to remind you even if you have. It is for the same reason I come to you today. I am here to ask you to forgive me one more time with no reasonable excuse or justification. I wish I could have hidden from your sight under the covers while I gave myself to Steve again. I am so ashamed at the mere thought of you seeing my naked body under a man even though the sheets covered me. How I wish your omnipresent eyes could not locate me as I disobeyed you. Silly me, for nothing can escape your eyes that see right through me to my internal parts and the imaginations ruling my thoughts.

Your eyes miss nothing as they roam to and fro the earth. Even a baby ant cannot escape your scrutiny. The mere fact that you knew what I would do this afternoon even as I dressed up to go to church this morning makes me cringe. I wonder what you thought of me as I led the melody singers today, singing praises to your Holy name. Why did you not stop me? I know I promised not to go to his house again. I know you gave me a chance to escape when my mom asked me to stay home and watch a movie with her. Yes, you were giving me a way to escape when my cell phone rang ceaselessly. But as he kissed me, my head swam with desire. I forgot tomorrow was a step away and I had to face my guilt.

If only I had answered the call, it would have been my exit strategy. I would have been here singing your praises rather than pleading for forgiveness. Instead, I refused to heed the voice of caution, putting the phone off uncaring who the caller might be. I know I shouldn’t have gone to his house at all, but I felt I was strong enough to push him away when he came close to me. After all, he is still my friend and returning his book was an innocent gesture. Now I realize I am not as strong as I think I am. My will power is not always superior over my flesh to overcome every temptation. Although you have given man the freewill to do what he pleases, I wish you had carried me in your arms into the safety of my own room.

This freewill teaches me that I am not as wise as I think i am. My choices speak of my folly. After the three day fasting and prayers at church, I thought I was strong enough to be alone with him and not let him touch me. After all, when Jesus fasted for forty days, he could resist the devil’s temptation.  I know I did not fast that long nor did Jesus play into the hands of the devil like I did. I went to a man’s room knowing the unavoidable might happen. I wonder what I was thinking; I wish my feet had taken over my mind and retraced its steps as I threaded the path of danger. However, I am but human and you are my God. This is my excuse again, oh God! Will you forgive me one more time?

Can I lift my hands to you again, will you not slap them away and banish me from your holy presence? My hands are not holy and they are not pure. But I keep lifting them up to you in the presence of the congregation looking like an angel before them. I feel like cutting myself and bleeding so you know I am so sorry for disappointing you again but my blood cannot save me. My blood cannot wash away my sins. I feel so guilty because I should have known better. How could I have sung of your holiness in the morning and willingly given myself to sin in the afternoon? If I had known this would happen today; I would have stayed at home the entire day.

Maybe if I had not been to church or led the singing group, I would not have felt so guilty. People were so touched by my singing they came to me after service and told me how blessed they were. Some even called me anointed! Only if they knew the truth about me, that beneath that anointing is a thorn so deep in my flesh. A thorn they would not be able to help me pull out because they may not understand how it came to be there in the first place. I will not be able to bear their criticisms and judgment for I too am human. In you alone do I put my trust to help me pull out this thorn in my flesh. It threatens to locate a nerve. Shame is knocking on my door and if you do not help me shut it out, it will consume me.

I wonder what made me choose Stephen as my prayer partner simply because he was so prayerful. The warning given us at students’ union to have members of the same-sex as our prayer partners now makes sense to me. I thought nothing bad could happen out of the innocence of the two of us praying together at the park while holding hands. Your word in proverbs vindicates itself for I have scooped fire onto my lap and it has inevitably burnt me. Oh God, please help me! Save me from myself, bring me onto purity’s side for sin drowns and covers me in shame!

Even my friend Mimi who looks unchristian by society standards has kept her virginity intact in obedience to you. Misjudged by her choice of clothing and outgoing spirit, mummy wants me to stay away from her. According to her Mimi is a bad influence on me. Only if she knew, the long skirts that make me appear so holy in comparison to Mimi’s short ones did not protect my womanhood. My holy looking garments have not set me on the part of righteousness nor prevented sinful pleasures in the secret place. If she looked deeper, maybe the truth would reveal itself. The other day when she made a bad comment about my friend, I almost blurted out.

“Mummy, help me be the good girl you want me to be because I am not what you think I am! I am not as pure as you portray me to be oh, mummy!” I wanted to tell her to take my hand and pull me out of the river of guilt less I sink. But I feared she would not understand. I am afraid she will never love me again, in her world of perfection there are no flaws. There is no room for me to repeat the mistakes she made, one of them resulting in my birth. She has warned me never to repeat those mistakes as her mother and grandma did before her. How can I hurt her like this when she single- handedly raised me up without a father?

No, my eyes cannot behold her sorrow when she finds out i am not that perfect. That is why I am here again, down on my knees and holding on to you. I am holding on to you like the woman who had her healing by touching the helm of Jesus’s garment. Please make me whole again!. Please don’t kick me away nor feel disgusted by my body. I know I have defiled your temple. I have not kept my body to you as the holy and living sacrifice, you require. I will hold on to you though my body is no more that holy temple. I will cling to you because you can make me complete again. I will come to you because you are the only one who will accept me, knowing the truth.

You will neither cast stones at me nor pierce me deeper with my thorn for your mercy is incomprehensible. It isn’t that mummy doesn’t love me but she is but human like I. Maybe one day when I am strong enough to stop fornicating, I may have the courage to confess. To tell her that her little angel knows how it feels to be in the arms of a man. That her precious daughter  has gone beyond the stages of innocence to the extent of protecting herself from pregnancy. That her daughter has long passed the sharp pain of purity and knows the pleasure beyond. Guilty pleasures that last for a moment but leaves behind unbearable guilt and shame. Oh God, you have not given me the right to these pleasures and I know it is wrong.

It is only when I am married that I will be bold enough to stand in your presence having enjoyed what you yourself have allowed between a man and a woman. Only then will I remove the sheets from my naked body, unashamed as your eyes watch me. Sometimes I feel you are being too hard on me by telling me not to do something you created human beings to enjoy. Why give me these feelings and ask me to wait? Now, I know the truth. Your holy commandments are for my own good. Stephen loves me as long as I give him what he wants and turns his back on me when I say no. My heart has fooled me into mistaking lust for love and now I have learnt to lead it and not just follow blindly.

He is  just a man, enjoying the pleasures I give him on a silver platter. I looked up to him as an elder brother who may find me unattractive even when I was naked. Unfortunately, he does not see me as a sister and though I offer him this forbidden fruit, he does not reject it. I am also guilty of feeling nothing for him after satisfying my body’s lusts. My heart belongs to you and my body too. Let it obey your commands, oh God. If I had known your warning against fornication was just to protect me and not to punish me, I would have been wiser. I would have been more cautious and not ventured so closely to any man. From his arms to yours; Oh lord I come, just as i am.

Cleanse me with your blood one more time and make me white as snow. Wash my hands with the water that flowed from the side of your son Jesus Christ when the soldiers pierced his side on the cross. That I may lift these hands freely to you in an act of worship, with no guilt or self condemnation. I will avoid him and stay as far away from him as Jesus stayed far away from sin while he was here on earth. I will flee from him as Joseph did in the house of Potiphar though it landed him in jail, for man-made prisons can only cage a man and not his soul. The prison my transgression puts me in is a worse torture. Open the gates and set me free oh Lord! I want to abstain from sex, please help me! Help me do what is pleasing in your sight.

Help me bring my flesh under your subjection where you rule. Wipe away my guilt and set me free. Show me your love and don’t throw me away. Then I will know you are God and your grace is real indeed. Your mercy is present and true. Remember my sins no more oh Lord and don’t let me find myself in this dilemma again for I don’t want to come asking you to forgive me the same sin. The same sin I confess to you month after month, week after week. Let me be a good girl, your little girl. Don’t stop loving me and I will do my best not to find myself here again.

Thank you so much for listening to me again as you did the other times. Thank you for patiently giving me an ear to lament my plight. This time I promise not to be in this place again asking you to forgive me the same sin. With your help and strength, when I come here on my knees next time, it will be to thank you for victory. To rejoice that you have brought me out of this web of sin and rescued me from hell’s snare and I will lift my head to you no more ashamed you have seen my shame. I ask you this in the Name of Jesus Christ my lord and personal savior. Amen.

RELATED BIBLE PASSAGES

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Does God truly forgive and forget our sins as Vivian is wondering? Like Vivian, do you struggle to run away from sexual sin? Why is sexual immorality a sin against our own bodies? What does the scripture mean by we do not belong to ourselves? Will we recognize our bodies as God’s temple if we could see him with our naked eyes residing in us?

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

Does God truly forgive and forget our sins as Vivian is wondering?

Like Vivian, do you struggle to run away from sexual sin?

Why is sexual immorality a sin against our own bodies?

Will we recognize our bodies as God’s temple if we could see him with our naked eyes residing in us?

Do you agree with Vivian that although we sometimes feel God is being too hard on us by asking us to stay pure until we get married; it is for our own good?

THE IMPORTANT LOOKING MAN

THE IMPORTANT LOOKING MAN

A male friend of mine gave me a revelation some time ago that shocked me. He lamented how a colleague of his who drove an expensive car kept asking him for loans. His anger was not directed at his request but at the fact that he was still taking the bus a.k.a trotro. The man in the “big car” asking the man riding in the bus for money; how interesting! I asked him whether he obliged his requests and he said he sometimes had to, because at times his colleague did not have money to even buy fuel.

So what is the logic in driving a big car when you have to borrow to maintain it, I enquired? He told me according to his colleague; it was the only way to woo the woman of his dreams. Bam, I got the picture! After all, how many women would give out their phone numbers to the man in the bus when another with an important looking car was after them? This has led to a saying by men that women don’t like to be told the truth.

Are you aware that some men borrow their friends’ cars in order to attract women of so-called higher class? Do you know that some drivers have posed as owners of their masters’ vehicles just to get women into bed? Are you aware that the fact that a man drives a big car does not mean his character is bigger and better than the man walking along the road? Do you know that some men who have nothing to do with recruitment have lured women into bed with the promise of securing jobs for them? All they need to do is look important they don’t need to actually be important.

A friend of mine almost fell into a dangerous trap when a man who perceived her to be of a higher class tried to deceive her into his bed. He called her out of nowhere singing her praises about how decent he had heard she was despite her beauty. That he was ready to get married and had been admiring her from afar. He even went as far as praying with her anytime they ended a conversation because he had done his homework well. Single at 30, my friend who I will call Martha was initially so excited because that was what she had been praying for. The man had introduced himself as a Dr. (PHD) in human resources and sounded so gentlemanly.

The only problem was that she had not seen him in person even though she had grown fond of him by constantly speaking to him on phone. He called for long hours and was impatient for her to say yes to his marriage proposal. When she told me I was excited for her because it seemed like a dream come true. I asked her to see him in person before encouraging him further. She arranged a short meeting at her place of work during lunch time for her first glance of Dr. Perfect and Spiritual. I couldn’t wait for the feedback as I was curious to find out how he looked and carried himself about.

When she called after work, I didn’t wait for the phone to ring twice for the juicy piece of information. The earlier excitement in her voice had dimmed and I sensed all did not go well. According to her, the man who had described himself as fair skinned  was rather chocolate colored. He was short and not of a medium height like he had told her on the phone and had a not so perfect accent like he had on the phone. Additionally, although he drove an Audi A6, the driver with him was unprofessional in his relationship with his “so called-boss”.

Martha had great observational skills and even the smallest detail could not escape her so I knew something was not right. According to her, even the guy’s suit did not seem to fit. That was enough for me to tell that the so-called Dr. of human resources was a scam who was in to make of fool of my wonderful friend. We suspected he had driven a borrowed car and posed with his friend as his driver. We decided to pray about it and see what else time would reveal. By divine intervention, he bared his teeth sooner than we thought. Martha deliberately spoke rudely to him on phone and for a man who had professed his love, his response was terrible. He insulted her before realizing too late that he had gone too far. That was it, goodbye to Dr. Human resources!

Two months later, I went to a wedding with an old university roommate who I had not seen for about four years. We began catching up and guess what? She described the same Dr. of Human Resources who had given her colleague at work a broken heart. Unfortunately, he succeeded with the lady and even duped her of quiet a huge amount of money. He had  promised to marry her using a different name. It was then that I realized the women he targeted had similarities of beauty, intelligence, moral decency and wonderful jobs. I thanked God that Martha had escaped the trap of this wicked wolf in sheep clothing because she had waited too patiently for a good man.

The lesson we can learn here is that we woman are easily swayed by sweet talks and material things. We are attracted by looks of importance and can easily be deceived if we are not careful. But if we are more discerning, we can learn to look beyond the physical to the quality of the person and not the quantity of things surrounding him. An important looking man is not necessarily a man of character or morals. An important looking man may look good on the outside but lack all the important qualities within.

In describing the relation a tree has to its fruits, Matthew Chapter 7: 16-20 states “16 you will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, you will recognize them by their fruits.”

When I graduated from secondary school and was finally allowed to braid and perm my hair, I was excited at the looks of admiration as I walked along the road. Drivers would stop to ask for my number as others shouted compliments. The only thing that saved me from the claws of these men was my snobbish attitude back then. I would just ignore them and go my way.  However, it felt exciting to have men who seemed important and driving interesting cars honking and admiring me. I was young and stupid!

I have never known the difference in grades of cars and usually qualify their importance by how beautiful they look. So for instance I would find a Tata more appealing to an escalade simply because of its beautiful color. When I told a childhood friend about how someone in an Audi had shown interest in me back in the day, she was excited. Audi! She exclaimed, Matilda that’s a very important car. Her excitement caught up with me and we went on and on about how important he could be to be driving such an expensive car. We now look back and laugh at how young and stupid we were.

As I grew older, I realized I could also work hard to buy a decent car for myself. I began to understand that the man in a car is not as important as the character of the man behind the wheels. Women are not the only victims when it comes to falling prey to the important looking man. Even the great prophet Samuel was a victim as recounted in 1st Samuel 16: 7Bottom of FormBut the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Unfortunately, like our mother Eve who was attracted to the forbidden fruit in the midst of the Garden of Eden, we women are attracted to what can harm us. My male friend who joined the bus was a very wonderful husband material. In reality, he had more money to take care of a woman as compared to the one behind the wheels who continues to borrow from Peter to pay Paul. But naturally, a woman will bypass the man who just got down from the bus to respond pleasantly to his peer in the important looking vehicle. After all we all want a better life and so even if we ride in the bus, we would want our partners to offer us more comfort.

My friend in the bus had slowly built his own house and was in the process of securing his own car. However, the other gentleman behind the wheels lived in rented apartment and was paying huge loans on his car. A lady who chooses the important looking man over the man in the bus may never know she just missed a potential husband.Things are not always what they seem and that is why it takes discernment and the wisdom of God to make good choices in such matters. When we attach too much importance to what we see with our eyes, it is easy to make serious mistakes in our choices.

Many women have disregarded good men simply because they did not look important. The important looking man may  turn out to be a huge disappointment. Some of these deceptions like what my friend Martha escaped have led to marriages with disastrous consequences. The important looking man is suddenly unable to satisfy his wife’s quest for more material things. His wife equates it to him not loving her anymore. He has to continue to lie to please her since one lie begets another and another.

Is it not better to tell the truth and be accepted for who you are rather than lying about what you don’t have? If we continue to buy into the phrase that women prefer lies to the truth, men will live to bear the consequences. On the other hand if we as women continue to prove that we prefer lies to the truth, we will reap the unhappy harvest of deceit. Many of us have written off our helpers because they did not look important enough. We meet them a few years after and are surprised at how much positive change has taken place. Unfortunately it may be too late. Remember, the important looking man may not have the important ingredients needed to sustain a relationship. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, Proverbs 31:30”. And so is the man!