Category: MY VIEWS

NEEDLESS PAIN

girl sad

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

This famous hymn, written by Joseph Scriven in 1855 was just another lovely hymn I enjoyed until it became a source of comfort for me some years back when my younger sister fell very ill. It was a very difficult period for the family and I was filled with fear and uncertainty anytime I saw her.

My heart would skip a beat and I would be filled with dread wondering what could happen next. This went on for some time until one day when the words of these lyrics dropped into my spirit. “Oh, what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!”

There I was, rooted in fear and dread, feeling  powerless and hopeless. I fed my fear with worry and anxiety when I could go to a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18: 24 says “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” And according to the lyrics above and also according to me, that friend is Jesus!”

Casting all your cares upon him; for he cares for you; 1 Peter 5:7. And that is what I did. I went to Him with all my deepest fears about the situation and bared it all out to him. And even though we went through some very difficult times as a family after that, God miraculously came through to heal her in an amazing encounter.

Yes, he cares for you and is waiting for you to come to him with all the worries and fears that daily plague your mind weighing you down with sorrow and depression. You may be going through a different trial than what i have narrated. But the solution is still the same.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; Matthew 11:28. Yes, there is rest in baring it all out to that special friend who does not judge or condemn but takes up your burdens and offers you a lighter yoke

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-30.

This encounter led me to research the origin of the hymn that comforted me in a very difficult period in my life. Sadly, the evening before their wedding, Scriven’s fiance drowned.  Shortly after moving to Canada to become a teacher, Scriven became engaged to Eliza Roche.

Tragedy struck again and Eliza passed away from illness shortly before marriage. It is still uncertain whether Scriven’s death was natural or engineered by suicide.

But one thing is for sure, worrying and carrying a burden which you can do nothing about is indeed entertaining needless pain. Hand it over to the one who truly cares, the one who can do what you cannot do, the friend who feels your pain and gave His life for you.

Lay it down at the cross and trust Him to take care of your needless pain.  Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  Matthew 6:27.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

 

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AS YOU ARE, SO ONCE WAS I

AS YOU ARE, SO ONCE WAS I

When my mother recently turned 60, my sisters and I came across some old pictures of hers that made us green with envy, yet so proud.  She too had worn an Afro hair doo in her hay days and yes, she had once worn mini-skirts to reveal her lovely legs. And for the record, we have always envied her legs even at age 60.

MUMGrowing up, I remember a phrase she constantly used when we made jabs at her advancing age which made her behave in old fashioned ways. She would just point at us and say, “As you are, so once was I and as I am so one day you will be.” I would just shake my head and mutter to myself “whatever

But isn’t it so true? Were they not there before we arrived on the scene of life? It’s funny how we sometimes think we looked better in our days or worse still that we know better than those who have lived several years before us. Guaranteed, older does not always mean wiser but by observing the road where their choices led them to, we get to benefit from both their good and bad decisions.

I sometimes look at my old pictures in which I was feeling so fine and laugh so hard at myself wondering what I was seeing at that time. There are others I look at and realize though still young, I have been younger with a  fresher face. Mummy, said it right? As I am now, so one day you will be. We hope to still look good but will definitely have to deal with annoying remarks from our children one day who will think we too are being old fashioned. The irony of life’s cycles!

My sisters and I were once watching a live big brother television show in which my mother accurately predicted a negative character trait in one of the housemates. We wondered how she could have arrived at what we felt was a hasty conclusion. To our surprise, what she predicted happened a few days into the show making us wonder why we could not see what she had predicted so accurately. No wonder Job 12:12 says “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in the length of days.”

It reminds me of a saying I often hear in Nigerian movies that “what an adult sees sitting down, a child cannot see even if s/he climbs a tree. I wonder the mistakes the world would avoid if we would only listen to older and wiser counsel. Honour thy father and thy  mother  as the Lord thy God had commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee; Deuteronomy 5: 16.

This is one of the commandments hammered on endlessly in Sunday school classes and sometimes by parents to their stubborn children. But it is good for parents to remember that God in his omniscience also wanted parents to warrant that honour. “Fathers (mothers) do not provoke your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonishing of the Lord. Ephesians 6: 4”. This is not to say that we must not honour parents who provoke their children to wrath or worse still neglect their parental responsibilities.

However, honoring a parent who has played their God ordained role despite their human imperfections just flows naturally. And that is why we honour you today…

PIC 2

                                                          Happy Diamond Jubilee Mummy!  

                               (Her Children rise up and call her blessed; Proverbs 31: 28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PAIR OF SANDALS FOR A SOUL

A PAIR OF SANDALS FOR A SOUL

I recently participated in a week long crusade activity in the Volta Region of Ghana where I learnt an interesting lesson. I didn’t consider packing enough clothing and extra footwear for the evening crusades because I said to myself; “I will be staying only for a week and can use the prescribed “T” shirts for both day and night.” Wrong thinking! Since it was the first time I would be working on crusade grounds, I had not anticipated the amount of work involved. After a hard day’s work of helping with food distribution and arranging chairs, my “T” Shirt was smelling of perspiration and looked dirty. And although it was not the best choice for an evening night service, I had to welcome the discomfort at least for the first night.

The next day, I was determined to locate a shop nearby for extra clothing and an additional pair of sandals to relieve my aching feet. I had never been to the Volta region and had no idea how to pick a taxi, how to locate a market nearby or how to bargain with the traders.  As I walked along the road, I spotted a clothing store in which the seller spoke English making it easy for me to lament about my plight. I bought a few affordable shirts to manage with a long black skirt I had brought along. Now what was left was a decent pair of sandals. The clothing seller was kind enough to direct me to the market and give me an indication of how much pair of sandals would cost. With her help, I was able to board a taxi and mention the exact place I would alight.

With little trouble, I located the market and headed for the shoe section. As I scanned through the traders, I spotted an elderly man of about 65 years and was drawn to him thinking he would be more considerate in his pricing. I was pleasantly surprised that most of them could speak some English making our communication easier. I asked for the price of a lovely pair of sandals which also looked durable among the lot. I was surprised when he mentioned an outrageously high price. Although I have always been good at bargaining, I realized he was also tough at selling his goods.

I explained to him that it was my first time in Ho for a crusade and that I didn’t have enough money on me. We went back and forth until we settled on 50 Ghana Cedis (12 dollars). Because he refused to back down any further and went on and on about it’s durability, I thought I had paid for a pair of sandals that would last for a very long time. I then took the opportunity to invite him and others nearby to that evening’s crusade at the jubilee park. I told him about the previous night’s service and how he would not regret attending the service. I went to further explain the importance of getting to know Christ and see the powerful men of God who had travelled from Accra and outside Ghana just to be a blessing to him.

When I left the market, I had less money on me but I was happy I had invited few people to come to the crusade. In fact, even though the elderly trader told me he would make it to the crusade that evening, I did not take his word for it. I had done my part and decided to leave the rest to God.

I arrived at the jubilee park where thousands had gathered at around 8.00pm that evening. Fortunately, my friends and I found available find seats in front. That night, I was amazed by the praise and worship performed in the Ewe dialect. Almost all the local Twi songs I was familiar with were sang in Ewe. It was a delight to watch how the people danced to the glory of God. I just couldn’t be content in my seat as I saw others dancing in praise of God. Walking confidently in my new sandals, I joined other worshipers in front of the stage and began to dance with joy.

Suddenly, I became unstable on my feet because the left heel of my brand new sandals had come off. I quickly removed the right heel to give me more stability. As if that was not enough, the straps also gave way bringing my dancing to an abrupt and disappointing end. I continued to stand among the dancers looking longingly at them as I became very disappointed at the elderly trader who had knowingly taken 50 Ghana Cedis from me in exchange for a pair of shoes that could not even last a night.

As I wobbled back to my seat careful not to completely destroy my sandals, I heard someone call out to me. I wondered who could be calling me among thousands of people because I had not seen any familiar faces around. I turned to the sound of the voice and to my surprise, I saw the elderly shoe trader waving cheerfully at me. I instantly forgot that he had sold an inferior good to me, that I had to stop dancing because of him. I was just happy he had come to the crusade because of me. I was even more surprised at where he chosen to sit without any prior knowledge that he would see the one who invited him. Amidst the thousands of seats, he picked a seat where he saw me among the multitude and called out to me.

This was no coincidence; It was God at work assuring me that I had not invited him in vain. When the preacher invited people to come forward to give their lives to Christ that night, he also went forward. It didn’t matter to me that he had cheated me and left me almost barefooted as a result. It didn’t matter to me that the money I wasted could have been put to better use. All that mattered was his soul; A soul that cannot be bought with 50 Ghana Cedis. A soul that had already been paid for when Jesus died on the cross. A soul that cost a life!

I REMEMBER THE SONG

I REMEMBER THE SONG

Come to him he has the keys of heaven. Without Jesus you can never go to God. With him all things are possible. Come to him, come to Jesus he will set you free.

Chorus

Keys of heaven are given unto him, keys of heaven are given unto dear Lord.

Keys of heaven are given unto him. Come to Jesus come to Jesus he will set you free.

By Juliana Arslanian.

 

I never knew these words had been etched into my mind until yesterday when I reconnected with the wonderful woman who thought me as a child. It’s been over twenty years but the words came back at me with a bang and I sang out loud with joy as if I had never stopped singing.

Years ago, this woman who lived in my grandma’s neigbourhood would come to visit and teach my sisters and I gospel songs she had written herself. I remember her urging us to sing from our stomachs since it was easier and sounded better.

We would laugh and ask her how possible it was to sing for our stomachs. We would try to sing from our stomachs and laugh when she told us our voices were not even coming from our throats. Unfortunately, she disappeared without a trace until yesterday when we reconnected on Facebook.

My sisters and I often wondered where she had disappeared to and whether we would ever see her again. It’s been over twenty years and although we did not hear from her, we never forgot her songs or the powerful words contained in her songs.

At the time when she used to talk to us about Jesus in her songs, I never really understood what she meant until I had my own personal encounter.

Almost at an old age, she is still singing about that man who came to shed his blood on Calvary cross.

As much as I remember the impact she had on my life, so do I remember the negative influences I experienced in my life from other people as a child.

The bible tells us in Mark 10:13–16: “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”

This verse shows clearly that children are not to be exempted from Christian teachings and practices. No wonder I still remember the words that spoke of the man Jesus as clearly as I did as a child. A child’s memory is more powerful than many adults think and that is why when the adults rebuked them, Jesus was unhappy.

Is it not arguably true that most of our insecurities, fears and believes have come to stay as a result of our childhood experiences?

And that is why we must make young ones remember us with joy and not pain when they cast their minds back as adults.

Most often, we are concerned with the harvest and not the planting time. What is there to harvest when there is no investment of time to plant and cultivate the tender heart of a child? When we shut children up and ignore their innocent questions they ask in naivety, how will they know the truth? Who will tell them about salvation?

Let us remember that they will grow like we all have. And make no mistake; they will remember you for the good or bad like I do.

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.

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!”

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.

 

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 DAY I WALKED OUT OF CHURCH

THE DAY I WALKED OUT OF CHURCH

I was baptized a Methodist, confirmed an Anglican, went to a Catholic school and married to a man who is Pentecostal. As for prayer, I join different Christian churches during revivals, all night services or weekly prayer services depending on my availability and schedule. All I am trying to say is that I prefer to say I am a believer of Jesus Christ rather than attaching myself to any particular denomination. However, I have a soft spot for the Anglican Church where I have worshiped and served since childhood.

During a weekly prayer service at a charismatic church few years ago, I walked out before the service was over not out of anger or pride. It was with the realization that it was the wiser thing to do at the time. Here was a service going so beautifully with the elements of praise and worship, a good preaching and a fire filled prayer time. Suddenly, it was announced that the man of God had a special direction for singles who wanted to be married soon. The congregation became excited as many shouted and clapped in excitement. My ears perked, what could be this special direction? After all I was single and wanted to meet that wonderful man. All singles in the congregation were asked to stand up for prayers.

I was shocked when almost three fourths of the congregation stood up both men and women, young and old. And this was obviously a very large congregation with singles including the widowed, divorced and single parents. The head pastor who was to give us his revelation on how to grab our perfect matches was obviously shocked that majority of his congregation members needed life partners. So here I was standing and looking around with interest at both those standing and sitting. I observed that among the few seated were old men and women whose primary concern had little or nothing to do with Marriage. I patiently waited for the special revelation that would have me walking down the aisle with my prince Charming in no time.

The head pastor then announced that we were all to move to the conference room for that juicy piece of information. I was not too pleased because I knew the conference room was much smaller than the Church room. But the charismatic man of God made it sound as if any unmarried person who missed that information was doomed to singleness. As I pondered what to do next, I realized the excited congregation of singles had began heading towards the conference room after the head pastor. Not wanting to be disobedient towards a man of God, I followed suit.

When I got to the conference room, the place was already full and I had to squeeze myself at the back. I am not a tall person so imagine how frustrated I was standing at the back. However, i could see the podium as i anxiously waited for the head pastor. The heat had become unbearable, the sweaty odor from the close contacts too much for me to handle. After dealing with our demons in fervent prayer by stumping our feet and clapping our hands, most of us were not smelling our best. I felt like suffocating but i did not want to miss the special prayers and direction that was supposed to move me from Miss to Mrs. I stood waiting with the others despite my discomfort until i could take it no more.

Then I asked myself a simple question; if I don’t hear this juicy piece of information or receive this special prayer, will I never get married? Will God not answer all the prayers i have already offered to him? Will He be displeased if i walked out without the direction needed to move me to the next level? As if in answer to these questions, my body moved with its own will as i began to move towards the exit on my way out. I sighed with relief at the fresh air that greeted me. I looked around to see if there were other rebellious singles like myself. Seeing others would have made me feel less disobedient but I was the only one.

Wait a minute; I said to myself, who I am trying to please. If I suffocate in there, I will be dead before my husband arrives. After all, do I need to be in a crowded congregation before God answers my prayer? No, Jesus died for me so I might live. Whether I stand in the building or leave to my private prayer closet at home, he still hears me and will answer in his own time. God, I prayed silently, thank you for listening to me wherever I am. Answer me in your own time and do not let me behave in desperation. And in his own time, he did answer.

I am not urging you to walk out of church like I did that fateful day; I have stood in the heat several times. I am just sharing with you how wonderful it is to realize that God does not reside only in church auditoriums. That his grace abounds for all of us whether we stand behind the pulpit or sit in the congregation only if we believe.

WHEN CHARLOTTE LAMB DIED

WHEN CHARLOTTE LAMB DIED

“He tenderly took off her clothes and passionately kissed her as he parted her trembling thighs. Looking deeply into his eyes as her heart beat rapidly, she couldn’t wait to become his.”These words were usually found right after the center pages of romance novels like silhouette, harlequin romance and yes, my then favorite Mills and Boons to mention a few.As a young girl of just about 12 years who had begun noticing the changes in her body at puberty, the pictures of men and women in love were irresistible. Some of them depicted couples kissing passionately and others lovingly gazing into each others eyes in interesting poses.

I was never short of romance novels to read because I knew exactly who was reading them and who was in queue for the one I had just finished. The titles added to the attractiveness of the pictures. Who would not be curious to find out what happened in the pages of books with titles such as the garden of dreams, no holding back, mission to seduce and a very stylish affair? I never tired of romance novels that filled my mind with fantasy and the hope of one day meeting a perfect handsome billionaire described in the pages of romance novels. These men were described as powerful, masculine, passionate and all the adjectives that could fill a young girl with awe.

It was interesting to note that in almost all the books I read, the women were never attracted to the good calm guys who treated them with patience and respect. They always found the domineering aggressive ones more interesting. The cool ones who did not seem “powerful” enough always lost the race for the heart of the women they loved. The craze for romance novels was even more serious as I moved from junior secondary school to senior secondary school. Many of us hid these books under our desks not giving a damn about subjects we found boring. For me that would be Mathematics! Who gives a damn about such subjects when our senses were being tickled by strong and handsome men pursuing beautiful women until they lived happily ever after?

It is embarrassing to say, but many of us found ourselves turned on as we turned the pages especially those with the privilege of sitting at the backseat of class. The trick was to put the novels in text books and look into them as if seriously concentrating on the words of the poor teachers who had to explain the topics over and over again. For those of us who could partially listen to the teachers whilst secretly reading, we gladly learnt how to multitask. That meant avoiding the embarrassment of being put on the spot.
It was not until my favorite romance novelist Charlotte Lamb died that I realized the damage I had done to myself. I was shocked to see that she had written some of those enticing words at the age of 50. Consider this; when a fifty year old woman with so much experience in sex and romance talks to a 12-year-old , what happens in the mind of that young girl? That image shocked me because I realized I was too young for such information.

Yes, reading is responsible for my prowess in the English language and it is a lovely hobby. But in real life, those fantasies did not work for me and has not worked for many young women. I would rather be with the calm gentleman who respects me rather than the aggressive tycoon who feels he can buy me. I must confess it is interesting to fantasize about being grabbed by Mr. Right and carried off to a bed of roses for night after night of bliss, experiencing orgasm after orgasm.But in reality how many of our men can always carry us off to bed every night despite the assets we possess? How many of them have six packs and are so strong they can carry us as easily as feathers? How many of us would be happy with flowers as gifts without the temptation of leaving them to wither?

I am yet to read a romantic novel where the couple waited to be married to have sex and yes, I have read many. Currently, romantic novels have become diversified and Christian genres abound. But trust me, myself and other girls would have found them extremely boring. The good guy who always dresses well and says the right thing the right way is mostly a turn off for ladies. Even the good Christian girl is not exempted. Though  interesting, romantic novels have done a lot of damage to young women who are still living in a world of fantasy. A world of knights in shiny armor who come to rescue damsels in distress. These women are still waiting for that perfect billionaire to turn up and sweep them off their feet as they totally ignore the good men standing right in front of them.

Girlfriend, Mr. Fantasy can only be found on planet fantasy, so if you can’t go to that planet, come down to earth! On planet earth, imperfection is part of humanity. Not all the men have hard chiseled jaws, rock hard bodies and big bright eyes that one can drown in. Sexual exploits in romantic novels always lead to marriage even when the woman accidentally gets pregnant. But you and I know that on planet earth, sex before marriage does not always lead to a happily ever after ending. On planet earth, what is popular are unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, abortion, single parenthood and yes, the famous broken heart.

I am not saying some have not been lucky to end up getting married but you and I know it is not as easy as the perfect outcomes in these romantic novels. First Corinthians 13: 4-7 states that 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, 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, always perseveres.
But in the romantic novels, love is not patient enough to wait for marriage before sex. And the list goes on.

I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the novels of Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury. They make romance without sex so sweet and clean I will go for that any day. The characters put love to the test and the women are not afraid to fall in love with God-fearing imperfect men from planet earth who find their strength from God. The day Charlotte Lamb died I was so sad; I had read so many of her books I felt her death was the end of romantic fantasy. Sure enough, most women expressed their sadness at their romance mentor who had filled their minds with so much fantasy. Romance novelists like, Nora Roberts, Charlotte lamb, Penny Jordan and Anne Mather will still remain fond memories because they were a part of my life for so long. However, I will choose the recovered romance novelist Francine rivers as well as Karen Kingsbury over any of them because they comes closer to planet earth where reality exists.

The day Charlotte Lamb died I cried, my world of fantasy had crashed. I came down to planet earth where reality exists, where true love is not tested by sex but by character and true life situations. I am no more waiting for my knight in shiny armor to ride towards me on a white horse. I have banished unrealistic fantasies that are impossible from my mind because I realized, I would be too difficult to please. Maybe when I visit planet fantasy, my knight will arrive.

Rest in peace Charlotte Lamb! My English is far better because of you. Your descriptive power of love was too good to be true, too flawless. It was every girl’s dream of that happily ever after. But I know better now; I am back on planet earth. Oh how I miss fantasy planet! But I prefer planet earth where reality exists!