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The Akandes
OUR BLESSED COUPLE

Cover Stories

:: The 7 Non-Negotiables ............14


Featured in this Edition
:: Another Look at Single & Saintly..................................11
Wedding Vows ..........................34 I Feel Cheated in Life ..........................16
Family Structure ................................23
:: When Parents and Personal Prayer Retreat........................35
In-Laws Visit ............................39 When In-laws Visit..............................39
Love in the Midst of Hate ....................42
Retrace ............................................6
:: The Importance of
Where is Sally ? ................................25
Personal Prayer Retreat ..........35 Remove the Accursed Thing ..................27
Najite: “Genesis of Me” ..........................28
Agapao (A Novel) ..............................30
Straddling ........................................37
Love in the Midst of Hate ....................42
Single Fullness ..................................45
The Error of Balaam............................46

Real Relationships Magazine Volume 2, issue3


Welcome to another exciting edition of our publication. Reading the testimony of the Akandes has left me in awe of
Twelve years ago, we had the release to publish and it’s been God’s abundant grace and providence. For seventeen years,
real discipline “taking heed to the ministry we received and the faith of this couple stood trial. They did not relent taking
fulfilling it”. the matter to God on a daily basis. Heaven responded and
today there is rejoicing everywhere this testimony is retold.
“Where are the marks of the cross in your life? Are there any Indeed, delay does not mean denial. To God be all the glory.
points of identification with your Lord? Alas, too many
Christians wear medals but carry no scars”. - Vance Havner “Issues of the Heart” by Julie Akhimien is one column many
of our readers look forward to every edition. The grace with
One thing that has trailed us these twelve years has been which these answers are provided never ceases to amaze me.
yearly bouts of tests and trials. I must confess I have not done Next year we will publish our first book. It will be a
so well in some of the tests but thanks be to God we are still compilation of twelve years of Q &A from this column.
standing. Brother James was so right when he said "Dear
brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it Do enjoy the plethora of stories and articles that we have put
an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your together for your edification. To Kelvin Najite Ikpeni, we say
faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it a big congratulation on your new album. God will yet increase
grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be you.
perfect and complete, needing nothing." I have resolved to
guard my heart above all else, as sticking to the course of my Till the next edition, run the race and remain rapturable!
life and finishing well depends on it.
One of the best tests of Christian growth and maturity is
trouble. Trials not only reveal our faith, but they also develop
our character. God is trying to produce in every Christian
"faith that overcomes," that endures, that has staying power.
Far too many Christians fall by the wayside when temptations
and trials come. God is trying to produce an inward change by
allowing outward trials to build in us an overcoming faith. He
wants us to understand that trials in the Christian life are not
unique. They are for every Christian. If you are going through
trials right now, “think it not strange…” The pain has a
purpose!

Real Relationships is about lives torn apart by life’s many


experiences. It is our vision to provide an avenue (through the
print and electronic media) where the hurting, the depressed, the
frustrated and confused can find acceptance, healing, hope,
forgiveness and encouragement. It is our vision to help believers
discover and maximise God’s purpose for their lives.

4 || Real Relationships Magazine


Editor-in-Chief : Dr. Uvoh Onoriobe
Editor : T. Fejiro Kalu, Esq.
Series Editor : Tola Ingwerson
Senior Writer : Dr. Stanley Okugbo
Production Manager : Igho Efekemo
Advert Executive : Chichi Onoriobe
Graphics : Julia Cariño
Cover Photographer : Wendy G. Johnson- www.wendygphoto.com
Photography : iStockphoto.com
Publishers : Plumbline Communication

Real Relationships Magazine || 5


Denial. pay for hurting me.”
There was no response from my husband, he
That was the first emotion that I tried to grab
and hold unto closely. It couldn’t be my husband’s continued to gaze at the tv as if he believed that if he
email, maybe it was some kind of a mistake. I looked didn’t pay attention to my outburst it would go
at the email address again and re-read the email away. I went over to the t.v. and shut it off. Now, I
message.Tears streamed down my face and angrily I thought, I definitely have his attention. I stood there
wiped them off. Oh oh, ANGER gripped me next. watching him and he still didn’t look at me. His first
How dare he do this to me? How dare he betray the words to me were, “Put that tv back on.” Oh no, he
trust that I had in him? That was the one thing didn’t just say that.
during our courtship days that I harped about the “Who is Freaky rose, Mark?” I asked him again.
most, how I desired for him to be faithful and “Ajoke, turn the tv back on and stop yelling.The
trusthworthy of the love that we shared.Then this?! kids’ are playing in their rooms and can hear you.” If
I sat there and lost track of time. Sounds of the I was a furnace that needed to be stoked for more
door opening and the kids’ voice drifted my way. heat, he had just said the one thing that really got me
Quickly, I sprung up and like a robot performed the hot. “How dare you talk about the children and me
motions that led to the cooking of dinner. As we ate yelling? Mr ‘I’m Your man’ Ok, spill, I want to hear
dinner, there was tension in the air and I noticed the more about Freaky Rose, or to use your own words,
furtive glances my husband made. It was then that I I want to hear all about your delicious secret.” The
realized that I had forgotten to close the browser look on Mark’s face was that of a person who had
window and he had seen the email when he went to just eaten something vile and was about to be sick.
the Office during the dinner prep time. I took Of course, when a person has been attacked,
longer than required to clean up after dinner to they do one thing best, they go on the defensive.
avoid the confrontation that I knew was brewing. Mark began to attack me.
After wiping the table for the 51st time, I realized “Why were you reading my email?” I began to
there was no avoiding the situation, I had to face it laugh so hard, the kind of laugh the evil villain on
on. tv shows and movies laughs when he has something
I climbed up the steps, lots of questions, a up his sleeve. I laughed so hard for a long spell that
myriad of voices running through my mind, and the Mark looked at me strangely. ‘You left your email
pain clawing at my heart. I saw him lying down on up, today was your day.” I finally muttered when the
the leather recliner in our loft area, his eyes glued to laughing bout had left me. I saw comprehension
the t.v. and I lost it then. “Who is Freaky Rose?” I dawn on him and he looked faint.What was he going
hurled at him.Anger fueling me, here I was hurt and to do next? Mark got up and walked right past me.
overwhelmed but he ignores it and buries himself in Quickly he descended the stairs and then I heard the
the idiot box. Then I heard the still same voice front door open and then get slammed shut.
within me that I had steadily ignored all afternoon Confused as to what to do, I stood at the verge of
and evening after my discovery. That voice softly the stairs, weighing my options when I heard his car
muttered, “Let him speak and let me do my work. start and him reverse the car out of the driveway.
You can’t force conviction out of him.” As if I were
having a discussion with the voice, I shrugged and Silence.
internally mumbled, “But I am hurt and want him to Alone with a thousand and one thoughts, I sat
6
surrendered myself back to His dear comforting arms and back
to sleep again, I went.
That was how I got through that night.
The next morning, I steeled myself for the kids’ questions
and whatever Mark might do or say. I got up to fix breakfast for
the kids and to prepare for church. It was Sunday after all and
to Church it was every Sunday. Of course, Mark’s absence
would have to be explained away but a wife had to do what a
wife had to do.
Prayer first. Afterwards, I began to make the children’s
breakfast and get together their clothes for church. I heard the
garage open as I began to dress the youngest of our children.
Mark was back. Taking in deep breaths, I heard my son say,
“Mommy are you praying out loud?” I smiled. I had no idea that
I had been mumbling out my prayer out loud. “Yes Dear, I am.”
Mark came upstairs to the room where we were and he
on the leather recliner and gave into despair. Then slowly, the looked like a train wreck. Stifling my response, I distracted our
Lord began to minister to my heart. First it was through son from viewing his father. I then shooed him out of the room
scripture, and then I received His word to my heart. I had tried and then sat down. “Ajoke, I am a hot mess!” Mark started. He
to do the work of the Holy Spirit, being human, I had failed began to cry and proceeded to tell me the tale of one click
and now I felt helpless. Mark had done wrong, he had gone awry.
betrayed our vows and our family, but it really was the work of It had begun when he had gone to look for an electronic
God to convict our hearts when we sin. item on Craigslist and saw a side ad for the personals on there.
Just a click to look at them, he told himself as he assuaged his
I hung my head down and prayed conscience. He began to peruse them and got drawn to the
with all of my heart. pictures and descriptions. At first he didn’t respond, all he did
was look. Then he signed off the browser but that nite as the
“Dear Father, please forgive me for trying to do Your work kids slept and after a really hard day, he went back to them.
in the heart of Mark. Lord I am very hurt, I lay at the foot of Lured back in, he began to send responses to the ads and
the cross my pain and hurt. Please heal me and help Mark to then set up his messenger chat to communicate with a couple
see that I am hurt. Repair this fracture before it becomes a big of the women the following day. On and on, he continued,
break between us. Amen.” reasoning to himself that he was just being friendly with the
A simple prayer and it worked.At women and there were lonely women out there who needed
male companionship. A week went by like that until the fateful
peace at last, I went into to put the day when one of them turned on her webcam and began to
kids to bed and fell asleep myself. stream live video of herself talking to him. Innocent talk soon
It was a long night that could have been filled with worry became lurid. Instantaneous intimacy was created and they
and anxiety but I had laid my trust in God. Mark didn’t return began to discuss their sexual fantasies with each other. After
home that night. I knew this because I always get up twice at that, they made assigned times to meet and talk online. He
night, I always drink a lot of water before going to bed and began to feel the guilt as he became more testy with me and
suffer the consequences every night. the children but couldn’t shake off the attraction. Out of
Upon waking up both times, I was assailed with a sense of control, he finally prayed 4 days ago that the Lord help him as
sadness and emptiness until I remembered how much he was weak. Here we were now. Stunned at his confession, I
comforting the good Lord had given me as I slept. So I remained speechless until I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit.

CONTINUED, PAGE....

Real Relationships Magazine || 7


Dear Auntie Julie,

I am a 25yrs old girl and my fiance is 26yrs old.We are


getting married in 2 months. Our folks think we are not
right for each other because of our age differences. Do you
think they are right because we love each other so much?
Please help.
Although there are no hard and fast rules on how old you should be before you get married, it
is acceptable to all and sundry, (I think), that marriage should be between two adults, man
and woman as ordained by God.
“Real Going by your age, you are adults, so why should there be any ‘sigh’ about your age difference?

Issues. I would guess that the folks you are referring to are your friends. I do not think they are your
parents because at your age, your parents should be glad that you are starting off ‘early’
enough; but if they are your parents, there may be more to this question than meets the eye. It
Godly might be because they probably can read between the lines and are seeing beyond what you
can see. If that is the case, pause for a while and ask questions on why they think so. For all I

Counsel.” know, there may be more to this than just the age difference. If not, why would such comment
come so close to your wedding? Please ask them questions. If their assumptions are wrong, you
can trust God to open their eyes to the right picture so they can see you as capable to make a
beautiful and God glorifying home.
It is always a pleasure taking tough
issues to God on your behalf.You can On the other hand, if this concern is coming from your friend folks, there is very little to
be sure that I keep your issues
worry about. First, with God on your side, you are more than able to make your union
confidential.
successful. I think it would be unwise for you, (with just two months to your wedding), to be
Send me a mail and I will surely get listening to what your friend folks ‘opinions are about your age difference. If you truly love
back with you. each other, and are sure of your commitment to the relationship; what your folks are saying
should be the least of all your worries.
Send all your questions to:
editor@realrelationshipsmag.com
My advice would be to stay focused on your goal and the bright and beautiful future ahead of
Always remember, you. Be determined to prove the book makers wrong and show the world through the grace of
God on your lives that your love for one another is real, authentic and dynamically
God has made a way!
dependable, because you have God, you fear Him and He is the bedrock of your soon to be
home.Your love and commitment to God and one another, is enough to make you scale through
Julie Akhimien whatever anyone thinks. I wish you the very best and God’s choicest blessings.

8 || Real Relationships Magazine


ever given him any gift to show how much he matters to you? If this
attitude of his is a vice, what have you done to correct it? Have you
prayed, drawn his attention to it or even asked him why this is so?You
might be surprised how much of a coincidence this might all be or
maybe there is truly a problem that God is opening your eyes to so
you can address it before it gets too late.

So, call his attention to it and talk lovingly not accusingly about it. I
would expect him to open up to you, then you can prayerfully chart
the way forward, God helping you. Seek to be a plus to him and give
him an opportunity to thank God for finding a good thing – you. If
he is truly stingy, you might work together in redefining his values.A
man who fears God would not be stingy, he would know better than
I have been going out with this guy for one year that. He would know that giving is living.Your man may need a
now but every time I ask him for money, he redirection, trust God to make it happen, if you truly love him. God
somehow avoids me for that period I need the bless you.
money and resurfaces later with excuses.We
plan to get married but his stingy attitude
worries me a lot. Please help, should I continue Auntie Julie, I will like to know the
the relationship? consequences of sex before marriage or during
courtship.
Hmmm. My concern is not so much of his supposed ‘stingy’ attitude,
as it is of the foundation on which your relationship is built. If for a Am glad you asked rather than assume or take things for granted.
whole year this is all you have to write home about your relationship, There are so many grievous consequences of sex before marriage or
I am truly worried for you and grossly disappointed. Each time you during courtship. First, God is against it. If you are a child of God
ask him for money, he avoids you and resurfaces after a while and you and His friend, your fervent desire would be to please Him.The Bible
have not sat down to discuss the issue? I wonder how many times this states clearly in Hebrew 13:4 ‘Let marriage be held in honour,
has happened and why you on your part always seems to be the one
asking.

Maybe he sincerely does not have the money and does not know how
to tell you because perhaps you get really angry at such excuses or
maybe he is beginning to perceive you as a pest, maybe. Somehow I
think your relationship lacks ‘defined expectations’ and commitment
to one another. If not, why should your request for money or anything
you might be needing, pose a threat to your husband to be? Take my
advice dear, you need to take stock.What future are you intending for
yourselves as husband and wife, mom and dad to-be?

Are you both committed to one another? Why did you get into this
relationship in the first place? Where is God in the equation? Do you
love him or was it his money that attracted you to him so that if he
refuses to release it as and when you ask, you take offence? Have you

Real Relationships Magazine || 9


(esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all It is pathetic that the wrong choice of sex before marriage, go a long
things.And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled, (kept way to marring the beautiful future of so many young adults and
undishonoured); for God will judge and punish the unchaste, all many times, issues that are best avoided if only they heeded God’s
guilty of sexual vice and adulterous. (AMP). word turn out to plague them for the rest of their lives just because
someone did not care to obey God. Don’t be a victim of wrong
This is enough reason to stay away from sex before marriage.You and decisions, flee all youthful lusts and secure a wonderful future for
I know that God does not joke with words, as a matter of fact; He yourself and the generations that lie ahead of you. Remember, it’s not
esteems His word above His name.‘... you have magnified your word just about you, whatever your choice is today, is sure to affect
above all your name!’ Ps. 138:2 (AMP). everyone that matters to you and generations yet unborn.

Sex is exclusive to the married as prescribed by God, outside of The good news is that, Jesus Himself has promised all those who seek
marriage, it is sinful.This is because, it is a high level of and hunger after righteousness, that they shall be filled.Would you be
commitment, and it goes beyond just sleeping with the opposite sex. one of them? I urge you to and you would never regret it.
Your total being is involved. 1Cor. 6:18-20 says to ‘Shun immorality
and all sexual looseness (flee from impurity in thought, word of
deed).Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but How will you know when your God-sent
he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Do you husband comes?
not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the
Holy Spirit who lives within you, whom you have received (as a gift) There are many ways to know, it’s different strokes for different folks
from God?You are not your own, you were bought with a price but a bottom line exists.That bottom line is the peace of God that
(purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own). So then, envelops you when you think of your lives together as husband and
honour God and bring glory to Him in your body’. (AMP). wife.That peace permeates your entire being and it overcomes any
doubt or fear or uncertainty whatsoever. No wonder the Bible says in
God’s judgement is one of the grievous consequences of sex before Isaiah 32:17,‘And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the
marriage, unwanted pregnancies which would either result in effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever’. I can speak
abortion (murder of an innocent child) or having children born frankly from a Christian’s perspective.The Bible also declares in
outside wedlock is another, imposed marriage, STDs,(sexually Romans 8:14,‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are
transmitted diseases), HIV/AIDS can also come as a result of having the sons of God’’.
multiple sex partners or sleeping around. Studies have shown that one No one should go on such an important journey in life without God.
of the surest ways of keeping safe from being infected with HIV/AIDS With God on your side, you’d be confident of what tomorrow holds.
is abstinence.The list is endless.What more can I say? The guilt that Like I said, different people have different ways of hearing from God
plagues offenders can only be told by the people themselves. but the bottom line is that peace of mind which only you can testify
of. If that peace is not there, please confirm again. God also in many
The question is, why would anyone go through such unpleasant ways, give you love for the person, when and how that love comes is a
situations just because they want to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a function of your disposition.You should feel absolutely safe and
moment? Why would anyone sell their future for a morsel of bread? Is secured with the person, not someone who will defraud you or take
it really worth it? Ask yourself. advantage of your innocence, no. He should be one who esteems you
highly and is concerned for your well being. If he fears God, these
My dear, obedience to God’s word is your surest way of escape. I don’t traits will be apparent in him. I pray that when he comes, God’s spirit
think it’s worth all the troubles.Why would you burn your tongue in you will bear witness in Jesus Name, amen. I wish you the very best
with the hot meal and forfeit savouring the sweetness? Won’t you dear. I am looking forward to sharing your testimony.
rather wait and enjoy all the goodness? What’s the rush all about? CONTINUED ON PAGE 56

10 || Real Relationships Magazine


According to the story, a legally single damsel lived in a Many so-called singles in the community—some of which
supposedly opened community where privacy seemed to have are regular church-attending members—have chosen singleness
been an illusion. It did not take long for the entire community to not for any religious undergirding, but because they want to live
conclude from her actions and associations that—although she according to the dictates of the gratification of the fleshly nature
was legally single—she was socially married. She never walked and not be committed to any one person. Even if they live with a
down the aisle of a church or signed a marriage certificate, yet she fun partner under the same roof for several years, when
was routinely seen with several of the young and promising confronted about infidelity, they are quick to shout, “I am not
youths both within and outside the community. She enjoyed the married to you and therefore I have the liberty to live as I wish.”
same walks, touches, kisses, and intimacy generally reserved for Many teenagers are praying to reach the age of 18 so they
wedded couples, but she considered herself single and obligated can get out from under the roofs of their parents/guardians and
to no particular man. get into the world of their own
On one particular garbage so that they can control their
day in the community, she forgot own affairs. However, Proverbs
to put her garbage on the side of 14:12 warns, “There is a way
the road on time. When the that seems right to a man but the
garbage collectors drove by, they end thereof leads to death.”
did not see her trash can in the How does this connect to being
front of her house and went on single? I think you haven’t
by to the next home. completed the entire connection
Fortunately, the young lady saw here
the truck driving by and decided The fact of the matter is
to chase after the truck with her God, our Creator and Sustainer,
garbage can. As she got closer to has defined and patterned the
the truck, she started shouting, life of a single person in a
“Driver, is it too late for my different manner. He has
garbage? Is it too late for my ordered that His children who
garbage?” are singles also remain saintly to
When the driver heard His glory and honor for their
her persistent shouting, he health, blessings, prosperity, and
looked in his rearview mirror true joy. Unlike secular culture,
and realized that the notorious our morally perfect and good
legally single but socially Creator has differentiated the
married young lady was chasing life of a single person, placing
him. The driver stuck his head certain perimeters outside of
out the window and shouted which he/she ought not to step.
back, “No, sweetie, it is not too It is for the single’s own good,
late for garbage—especially not God’s.
yours. Just jump in the truck with the rest of the garbage.” He Although secular culture permits you to be single and have
continued, “With the kind of garbage you have made in this sexual intimacy with as many men or women as you want, God
community, I have long prayed for a way to dispose of you from categorically says, “No!” If you are single and ordering your life
the community. I have four sons and do not want you to destroy according to the standards of the world, secular culture hails you
their lives.” as a “great man or woman,” yet God says you are “poor, blind and
Indeed, the charming young gorgeous lady in our story was wretched” (Rev. 3:17). Society says you are “chilling,” God says
single, but not saintly. Her singleness was defined and patterned you are “helling.” Society says you are “enjoying,” God says you are
after secular societal norms, not God’s word. Our present secular being “conjured” by the devil to disease, curses. and death. Society
and postmodern culture defines single as “an individual who has says you are exercising your “freedom,” God says you are “faced
not given or espoused himself/herself to another in the legal down” and exercising your “bondage” to the devil. Society says
and/or spiritual bond of marriage. However, he/she can live and you are “living big,” God says you are “dying slowly.”Whose report
enjoy all of the privileges and benefits that are reserved only for will you take—that of mortal and corrupt men or the Perfect and
married couples without any commitments.” Meaning, a single All-wise God?
individual with a secular worldview can date as many men or This kind of trend amongst singles in our society today is
woman as he/she wants, even cohabitating and engaging in sexual affecting not only the social and moral fabric of communities, but
and emotional intimacy, kicking these “fun” partners to the curb also their health standards. The severity of this matter in our
whenever he/she wants to. society today is evident in recent statistics published by Barnal

Real Relationships Magazine || 11


and Associates: “Health experts have long observed that on the II. Marry the Body of Christ vs. 32-35 (Rom. 12:1-3;
average, married people are healthier than unmarried people and Phil 2:12-15)
that death rates (for all causes) are consistently higher among Paul stated in the text that single believers should be
singles. Mortality rates are about 100-300% higher for single concerned about pleasing the Lord. One way to please God is to
men and 50-150% higher for single women.” Such statistics are obey His word and allow Him to use our bodies as His
alarming. We have distorted the Christian view of singleness and instruments. One of the places in which the single Christian can
replaced it with a secular and godless one.We have concluded that use his gifts and time is the church, the body of Christ. Singles
being single and young gives us the moral right to live recklessly should always look for opportunities to serve in the body of
and stupidly, exploiting the bodies of others and being exploited Christ. Innumerable opportunities for ministries exist in His
ourselves. However, this view is antithetical to biblical orthodoxy. body. Singles should ask their pastors about such opportunities to
The apostle Paul admonished and encouraged his young and serve God faithfully. The body of Christ is a place for the
single spiritual son “not to let anyone look down on his youth and preparation for both this life and the one to come; it can prepare
gifts.” Paul went further and you for your future spouse as
stated, “Be an example to the well. As you dedicate your
believers in your conduct and singleness to the work of the
words” (I Tim. 4:11-15). Lord in and through the local
In I Cor. 7:25-35, Paul church, God will bring about
interchangeably used the words the person to fulfill your hope. If
virgin and unmarried. Paul the single does not learn to be
alluded to the Judeo-Christian faithful in the local church, it is
belief that a single person is a most likely he will not be faithful
young man or woman who has in his marriage. Fidelity is a way
not yet married and therefore of life, not an abrupt event. Use
has had no sexual intimacy. In your gifts, time, and skills in the
this text, due to the historical body of Christ as often as your
context of persecution of the time and strength permit and
church, Paul encouraged singles you will not have time to waste.
to stay unmarried but saintly, Remember the old saying: “An
stating that it was easier to live as idle mind is the devil’s workshop
a single person than as married and an idle hand is the devil’s
couples because of the many tool.”
responsibilities. He advised III. Marry God’s
people to remain single not Standards (II Tim 2:21-22;
because he had a disdain for Ephes. 5:3-7; Prov. 6:27-28)
marriage, but rather because the God’s word is replete
single person has the with His standards of living. To
opportunity to devote his body maintain your purity as a single
and soul completely to the Lord and His work whereas married person in such a perverse culture, you must avoid that which God
people do not as they are more concerned about the pleasure and sanctions as wrong not for His good, but for your own spiritual
joy of their spouses. and moral sanctity.You cannot expect to play with fire and not get
As such, how can today’s singles stay pure and serve God burn.You cannot ignore His warnings and expect to win over the
fervently in the midst of a perverse culture? The text offers wiles of Satan and his cohorts of demons. They are busy 24/7
numerous solutions, including three presented here. designing strategies to entrap you and defame your character and
I. Single Must Marry the Heart of God vs. 34 (Prov. testimony. For example, God warns the believer not to have
2:10-12; 2 Cor. 11:2-3; Jude 24-25; Phil 4:7-8). intimate friendship with an unbeliever (I Cor. 6) because the two
Humans are relational beings by nature. God designed us have different frames of references and sources of standards.The
with innate capacity and desire for Him and other humans.We are unbeliever will only contaminate your mind. The single believer
relational both vertically (i.e., the desire for intimacy with our ought to be very careful about what he allows to enter his mind
Creator) and horizontally (i.e., the desire for intimacy with other because that which is predominantly on his mind will eventually
humans). Singles are not exempt from this design.To avoid trying manifest itself through his body (Prov. 4:23). The single believer
to satisfy this desire out of God’s perfect will, it is imperative that must avoid watching inappropriate movies and viewing sexually
Christian singles be very serious about spending quality personal inappropriate websites. The Christian female should be very
time with God. This implies daily personal time of Scripture careful about entertaining empty talks and inappropriate touches
reading, meditation, and prayer. It is important that during these from men; power exists in the words and touch of a man. The
devotional times the individual allows God to speak to him and Christian single man must be careful about focusing his attention
give him instructions for life. He must endeavor to allow the Holy on the body of a woman who is dressed inappropriately.A woman
Spirit to imprint the word of God on his heart so that he can has power in her body, especially when she exposes it to the
always be in the presence of the Lord.While you are single, God public.A Christian single should also be careful about the kinds of
fills all of the gaps in your life. He is your sufficiency. However, if kisses he/she entertains. Only a godly kiss on the side of the
you do not spend time with His word, in prayer and obedience, cheeks should be permitted.
you will not have that intimacy. One of God’s greatest desires is Follow the ways of God as a single person and you will
to see lost men and women be saved.When the single marries the bring glory and honor to Him and blessings, long life, and
heart of God, he is consumed with the mandate to “Go and prosperity to yourself.You will have all the time to get involved
preach the gospel to all nations” (Matt 28:18-20). When your in a blessed relationship with your spouse when both of you are
mind is preoccupied with the word and mandates of God, the fully prepared and brought together by God, who instituted the
devil will find it very difficult to lead you into carnality. union of marriage. J

12 || Real Relationships Magazine


Real Relationships Magazine || 13
If you’ve ever purchased a car, you’ve seen the owner’s manual. It’s the book that tells you about the “non-
negotiables” for maintaining the car.These are things like changing the oil, filling the tank with gasoline,
topping off the transmission fluid, and having tires with adequate tread.We spend a lot of time making
sure these non-negotiables are done so that when we get in the car, it runs properly.

The same principle is true for the life of a believer.We must spend time on the non-negotiables so that our
lives may glorify God. But what are the non-negotiables? They must be defined in order to maintain and
fulfill them. In seeking the Lord, I have discovered what I believe to be seven non-negotiables for life.
Each principle is centered on the Lord, bringing the glory to Him alone, and the fulfillment of each is
essential to the healthy Christian life.

#1: Seek God, not sin.


For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel,“Seek Me that you may live.” —Amos 5:4
God is the life-giver.We will find life in no other. But as sinful creatures, our hearts are naturally prone to wander from our Creator.
Our souls were made to pursue God, know God, and walk with God—nothing else. It’s only as we pursue Him that we live. In the
book of Amos, God tries over and over again to get the attention of His people. He allows them to experience famine, drought, and
pestilence and yet, as God says in Amos 4:11, “you have not returned to me.” But Amos 5:4 reminds us of where life is found. God
says, “Seek me that you may live.”These words should get our attention.We will only find life in seeking Him.

#2: Fear God, not men.


“The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied,
untouched by evil”. —Proverbs 19:23.
Our God is holy and is the Lord God Almighty.When I think of the power He holds, I can’t help
but fear Him and hold Him in reverential awe. Do you care more about what men think of you
than God? Then learn to fear God, and you will be preoccupied in walking in His presence,
not wondering what other people think of you.You will begin to live your life in light of
eternity, and the temporal views of men won’t matter anymore.
The fear of the Lord also keeps us from evil and sin. A.W.Tozer writes, “It is
impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes
right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate.”When we lose
the fear of God and don’t respect Him and His commandments, we are
going to live our lives without accountability to God and one another,
which is the cause of a number of sins.

#3: Love God, not the world.


Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone
loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all
that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the
eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father,
but is from the world.The world is passing away, and also
its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives
forever. — John 2:15-17

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What is the object of your affections? Power? Recognition?
Hobbies? Not too long ago, I visited an unbelievable house, and
as I walked around it, for just a moment my thought was, “I
could have had a house like this.” But I was reminded that a
house is not what life is all about.The world is seeking to seduce
us into a love affair, but we must love God and be preoccupied
with pleasing Him alone.

When I first fell in love with Barbara, no one doubted that I


loved her; I was preoccupied with pleasing her.We must also
love His people and be concerned about their eternal destiny.
We must look at them with compassion, like Jesus, and be
moved with action to do something for them.Those who love
God will do what He wants and be concerned about His mission
and His will, and they will fulfill His calling.

#4: Believe God, not the deceiver.


You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the
desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in
him.Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, If you give in even the slightest to these desires, the enemy can use that
for he is a liar and the father of lies. —John 8:44 to launch an attack in your life. At the same time, the same trivial act in
In 1938 a man in Long Island ordered a very expensive obedience to God may be used to launch a powerful life-changing
weather barometer. He unwrapped it and realized that the arrow ministry. Our passions must be subordinated to the cross.
that was supposed to reflect the weather he was experiencing Obedience to God demands two main things. It demands courage to say
was stuck at the bottom, pointing at “Hurricane.” So he slammed no to self, no to appetites, no to lusts of the flesh, no to what’s easy, and
it down a few times, and when it didn’t respond, he wrote a hot yes to carrying the cross. It also demands faithfulness—the plodding
letter to the manufacturer and mailed it off on the way to work. endurance to God, to his call, and to that which He calls you to suffer.
When he came home, he found that a hurricane had hit, and Only by yielding to the cross can you obey God, not your appetites.
everything was gone.
#6: Serve God, not self.
As believers, sometimes we don’t want to believe the truth.
When life and Scripture collide, which one do you believe and Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,“Whom shall I send, and
trust? The deceiver wants us to believe the lie.Will you believe who will go for Us?”Then I said,“Here am I. Send me!” —Isaiah 6:8
God? The Scriptures tell us that without faith it is impossible to The concept of becoming a “bond slave” in the Scriptures
please God, but our nature is to move toward unbelief. Never means that we are the slaves, and He is the master.That means that we
forget that your adversary is the father of lies. He wants to must surrender completely, without reservation. Many would see this
destroy you, so he works to make us doubt the promises and to type of service as lowly, and it is humbling, but it should be seen as a
accuse the brethren. privilege to serve such a loving Lord. In 1972, in the first year of our
marriage, Barbara and I decided that before we would give anything to
#5: Obey God, not your appetites. each other we would surrender our lives in writing to Jesus Christ,
giving Him everything we ever dreamed of having.We gave it up and
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but gave Him the contract and title to our lives. Looking back at that day, I
only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may see now we gave Him nothing, but I am amazed to see that He has given
win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control us everything in return.
in all things.They then do it to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable.Therefore I run in such a way, as not #7:Worship God, not comfort.
without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the
discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce
preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be
—1 Corinthians 9:24-27 no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in
Our appetites are the passions that we have within our the God of my salvation. —Habakkuk 3:17-18 J
flesh, contrary to the spirit, craving and battling to be satisfied.

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Recently I have been led to examine this concept that I
find fascinating because it has intrigued me right from the
time in the university when it was first brought to my notice.
It is the concept that I call cheating.

Scenario 1: Judith has been faithfully following the Lord


since her high school days; she has remained chaste,
committed and holy as much as she could possibly muster.
She was a pillar of support to the brethren everywhere, a
counselor to many and a good example. In the twilight of her
college days, she had begun to fancy a relationship would
blossom between her and Sylvester another committed and
faithful brother she had known for some time now in the
fellowship. She had grown attached to him in fact and fancied
that a relationship leading to marriage was in the offing.Then
Jenny stepped into the scene! She was literarily from another
planet, living an existence at the very opposite of Judith. She
just got saved and wham! Took the whole fellowship by
storm.To crown it, just 3months after she came in she was
engaged to and in a very intimately strong relationship with
Sylvester. Judith felt cheated! She had remained faithful and
where was the result of her commitment, for now she was
years afterwards still unmarried and not in any relationship.

This concept is seen in the elder brother of the prodigal


in Luke 15: imagine him returning home from a hard days
grueling work in the field and meeting that the very fatted
calf on which he had invested so much time and expense,
roasting in the fire for the very revolting junior brother who
had brought ignominy and opprobrium to their family, whose

16 || Real Relationships Magazine


tales of debauchery and lasciviousness was rife in the town! world and himself, not putting their sins to their account, and
Wonders of wonders, this notable sinner that deserved the having given to us the preaching of this news of peace.
very worst of punishments was being celebrated as it where!
It was too much to stomach and he promptly refused to come Psalm 37:1 “Do not be angry because of the
into the house! wrongdoers, or have envy of the workers of evil” Psa 37: 7-8
“Take your rest in the Lord, waiting quietly for him; do not
Really the story of the prodigal is not about the be angry because of the man who does well in his evil ways,
debauchery of the son but about the magnanimity of the and gives effect to his bad designs. Put an end to your wrath
Father! Truth be told the son repented! The father hugged and be no longer bitter; do not give way to angry feeling
him not in his place of sin but on his return to his home! The which is a cause of sin.”
celebration was not about the life he had lived, nor a sanction Psa 73:2 “But as for me, my feet had almost gone from
of his actions, but a demonstration of the joy of the Father in under me; I was near to slipping; Because of my envy of the
gaining a son thought and nearly given up as lost! Yes men of pride, when I saw the well-being of the wrongdoers.
tomorrow there would be time for remonstrations and For they have no pain; their bodies are fat and strong.They
admonitions, there would be consequences for losing the are not in trouble as others are; they have no part in the
inheritance, but now the joy of his return was paramount! unhappy fate of men. For this reason pride is round them like
a chain; they are clothed with violent behaviour as with a
When you see the unrighteous prosper, do you see it as robe.Their eyes are bursting with fat; they have more than
God’s approval of their lifestyle? When you see the their heart’s desire.Their thoughts are deep with evil designs;
uncommitted and worldly minded Christian prospering, does their talk from their seats of power is of cruel acts.Their
it make you feel that there is no reward for faithfulness and mouth goes up to heaven; their tongues go walking through
commitment? David felt the same and in fact queried God the earth. For this reason they are full of bread; and water is
about it. He complained and questioned why. Really, ever flowing for them.”
prosperity is not the stamp of God’s approval for He causes Psa 92:7 “When the sinners come up like the grass, and
the rain to fall on the righteous and the sinners.There will be all the workers of evil do well for themselves, it is so that
a time of judgment and now is not really it.Try as we might, their end may be eternal destruction.”
Judgment is deferred till the end of days.
God is the best reward we can
What we have now is the mercy of ever get. He is our very life and
God at work. It is not that God is all that we could ever wish for.
prospering the sinner but that He is Our one desire should be for
preserving the righteous. His presence within us.
Read Luke 13:2-5 “And he, in answer, said to them, Are Psa 119:35-36 “Make me go in the way of your
you of the opinion that these Galileans were worse than all teachings; for they are my delight. Let my heart be turned to
other Galileans, because these things were done to them? I your unchanging word, and not to evil desire.”
say to you, It is not so: but if your hearts are not changed, For our life on earth is just a fleeting breeze in the vast
you will all come to the same end. Or those eighteen men ocean of eternity. For what shall it profit a man if he gains the
who were crushed by the fall of the tower of Siloam, were whole world and lose his soul or what can we give in
they worse than all the other men living in Jerusalem? I say to exchange for our souls? How do we value ourselves, “for a
you, It is not so: but if your hearts are not changed, you will man’s live does not consist in the abundance of his
all come to an end in the same way.” possessions”. Knowing God is far more valuable than anything
Yes God did punish sin by destroying cities Sodom etc we can receive from Him.
however in this dispensation judgment is reserved till the Faithfulness has its reward, and the best reward is not in
endtime.This is the time of grace and God is not in the this clime, but in the invisible which is more lasting, for we
business of destroying people, refer to 2 Corinthians 5:19 look at the things which are not seen, for those are eternal. J
That is, that God was in Christ making peace between the

Real Relationships Magazine || 17


L ike many a couple before them, during their courtship they discussed all of the
things they desired for their marriage, one of which was the family size they
desired- Three to Four children.With the gender split being for the family of
three- two boys and one girl or in the case of the family of four- Two boys and two girls.
They had their traditional wedding, with all of the frills we have to come to expect.
Family and friends there to join them at the happy occasion. Men and women with big
red coral beads.The attire were the colors the bride’s family had decided upon.Women
wearing the coral beads on their head, dancing in a procession joyfully.The bride in the
midst of them wearing a crown of coral beads and the most beautiful smile.
The sounds of the drum and the other instruments of the group performing at the
ceremony rendering the air with lovely sounds.
Then their church wedding, where the bride looked like the vision of a beautiful
angel to her groom as she strode down the aisle in white as all of their family and friends
celebrated their reciting their vows before God to be faithful and committed to one
another.Their voices rang with such conviction and on their faces blazed such love for
each other.

18
Did seeking medical help affect your faith or
ministry? Did you feel like God had rejected you?
Our ministry wasn’t affected due to our foundation being our
relationship with him. It was amazing to us, that people
looked beyond our inability (at the time) to procreate but
focused more on God’s grace that is upon us.We ministered
to barren women and they became pregnant. So we used it as
a reminder to the Lord, He promised in His word that he
who waters shall be watered also.This was our standing
premise, that since He promised that in His word that was a
contract that He never ever broke, we were convinced that
He will do it for us.

THEN:The Akande’s Wedding Picture What is your advice for couples going
through the same thing?
Was there pressure from family and friends on the Stand on the word of God. It is your sure foundation - Isaiah
issue of childlessness? How did you cope? 34:16. Seek medical advice.There is nothing biblically wrong
The foundation of our relationship and marriage has always about medicine.When you know what is wrong you can pray
been our intimate knowledge and relationship with the Lord. more specifically.
Our lives are based upon His word. As to pressure from our
families, we were away from home a lot due to the Did you feel like outcasts amongst people in society?
missionary nature of our ministry. Most of our marital years Was it more difficult for you or your wife?
were outside our native country. For this reason, there were We never felt like outcasts due to the grace of our special
no pressure from our families.We actually found out that relationship with Lord.When you realize who you are in Him
were more encouraging and they were visibly concerned and how much He loves you, the love replaces everything
about us and offered support.This may sound incredible but else. From a practical standpoint, it was more difficult for
the pressure from family and in-laws is a by-product of how my wife due to the fact of Biology- as a woman advances in
the couple sets the tone for their marital life. age, her fertility reduces. I had to encourage her sometimes.

Did thoughts of re-marriage, going to seek external Your children are the children of promise, gifts as the Lord
assistance aka see a witch doctor, adoption ever proclaimed them. Please do share their names and
come up between the both of you? personalities with us. So that we can also rejoice as you do.
No there was no thinking of remarrying and visiting the It still feels like a dream even now, please don’t wake me up!
native doctors never came up. People who know us will attest
to the fact that we are practical bible believing Christians. I
remember telling our family members that what God cannot
give to us, then in His wisdom we were not meant to have it.
However adopting children came up a few times but we
concluded that we must have our own before adopting.

Did you try artificial insemination or any of the


modern alternative methods of conception?
Yes we tried the modern medical alternatives a few times.

How did the Insemination process feel for you as


Believers? It is presently an ethical debate among
Christian. What is your stand on it?
Every medical discovery is a blessing from God. The
abilities that the doctors have comes from God,
pharmaceutical medicine is derived from herbs which were
created by Him to aid us. In that sequence, should God
choose to work through medical intervention, He should
receive the glory. He gave the knowledge in the first place.
NOW: A picture of a happy family

Real Relationships Magazine || 19


Does having twins make up for those lost years?
Oh yes. For your shame the Word states you will have
double.The twins have made the testimony sweeter and
special.To God be all the glory great thing He has done.

Did you ever get content with not having kids or did you
think that God’s will was for you to not have kids?
That will make the fulfillment of the bible incomplete. No we
never arrived at a point when we concluded that it was God’s
will for us to be childless.That will be unscriptural.

Was your love life affected by your


previous childlessness?
Our affection for one another is great. One of my brothers
said to me that the greatest encouragement he had was how
loving we were to one another. Our intimacy never suffered
due to mutual adoration of one another.The arrival of the
children has not added any additional love because the one
from the beginning never diminished.

When you first realized you were pregnant, were


you scared to tell anyone in the fear that you
Gabe at 7 months might lose the child?
God had instructed me not to announce the pregnancy.
Psalm 126:1-3. Gabriel is the first twin. His middle name is We kept it that way until it was 31 weeks. A couple of people
Otegbiase which when interpreted states “he has brought were informed earlier for spiritual –fatherly coverage. Am
laughter.”This is quite literal in his case, he is filled with sure you know what we were talking about.
laughter. He also is a persistent person, when he wants food
or attention, you must just give it to him or else peace will Previously how did Mother and Father’s day strike you?
elude everyone around. Michael is the younger twin. His I didn’t act any different that day, neither did my wife.We
middle name is Osarome.This means God has remembered performed duties as parents those special days.We felt we
me. He is a quiet soul and is very serious all of the time. were parents, spiritually to the people we mentor and also
Procuring a smile out of him is an achievement. I always say we believed we would be parents still. I even call those who
to myself, “He is going to be in the military with his serious believe God for children out to be ministered to.That was
disposition!” They are rays of sunshine my boys. how certain I was.

How has it been being a father/ mother? What Did your spiritual life change?
can I say? It has been a wonderful experience. There were no big changes except of course for the joy of the
It is so hectic yet so fulfilling.We are eager to hear them say promise that was fulfilled.
“daddy” and “mummy”. It has completely altered our lives
style. I have discovered that it is an awesome responsibility. I What was your first emotion when you realized you
have also learnt from them.They are not worried over were pregnant? Fear, joy or a mixture of both?
anything.They just call and what they are calling for will be When we got the news we were filled with joy and
given to them. Jesus said we must receive the kingdom of excitement. In that excitement there was no room for fear.
God like little children. I watch my little angels and this Everyday, we were filled with gratitude to the Lord and
scripture came alive in me. committed the nine months to His hands. He started it, He
will finish it, I declared to my wife as our anchor promise.
Do you plan on having more kids?
Yes, we plan to have more. One or two more by the grace of Did it ever cross your mind that you would
God will be awesome wait this long to have children?
Not at all.
In reflection, why do you think you went
through this trial? How did you deal with baby dedications and naming
I truly can’t explain that, I do know one thing though, God ceremonies? Were you ever not invited because church
has received enormous glory from the arrival of our boys at members were trying to be considerate of your feelings?
this precise time. We had a joyous countenance at everyone’s joy at their

20 || Real Relationships Magazine


in the morning and doing same in the evening. It was hectic and
challenging but I did this without fail. Indeed the scriptures
cannot be broken. It has produced for me.

These were my confessions:


1. For my shame I shall have double Isaiah 61:7

2. I am as a fruitful vine by the sides of my husband’s house:


my children like olive plants round about our table. Psalm
128:3

3. The LORD hath sworn in truth unto Pst Robert and I; He


will not turn from it; Of the fruit of our bodies will I set upon
thy throne. Psalm 132:11

4. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made
me free from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:2 Therefore,
blessings that it was infectious to others’ Never did they think sickness, low sperm count, low quality eggs, block tubes,
of not inviting us to partake in their joy. barrenness of what of whatever shall not have dominion over
my husband and I. Such shall not reign in our bodies anymore.
How did you deal with issues that arose Roman 8:14
in your marriage as a result?
The bible was our stronghold.We knew God was not a liar. 5. The seed of my husband and I will God establish forever,
Every issue is weighed and mirrored through the Word of and build up our thrones to all generations.
God.We took a lot of comfort from the Word.
6. The Lord makes me to keep house, and to be a joyful
What was the turning point in your marriage on this issue? mother of children. Psalm 113:9
We had been married for three years at the time and had yet
to have conceived.We began to ask ourselves questions. In 7. I cannot have fibroids, I have fine boys. Matt 11:23J
earnest, we searched the scriptures. Read related books and
testimonies of those that had faced the same challenge.We Interview by Dayo Aladeniyi,Tola Ingwerson
prayed and fasted. Our fathers in faith stood by us in prayers
and encouragement. Our families and loved ones also prayed
along with us.We also sought medical advice.

What is your advice for thousands going through


similar situations in their marriage?
First, their faith in God should not be shaken. One must just
trust God until He manifest himself. Prayer and fasting are
inestimable asset in times like that. Husband and wife must
be united and must not give in to pressure from family and
in-laws. Seek medical advice and help if you feel that way.

During our period of waiting and trusting God for my


miracle twin-boys for a period of more than 16 years, I
engaged in a word warfare based on my faith in God’s word.
The bible says in Romans 10:8,10

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in
thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the
mouth confession is made unto salvation.

I was confessing God’s word sparingly in the past. However


in the last three months before this miracle pregnancy, I was Mike at 7 months
vigorously confessing these scriptures between 30 to 50 times

Real Relationships Magazine || 21


Developing an
Accurate Family
Structure
BY PRISCILLA AND EFE OBUKE

There is no singular important influence in our lives that The arrangement by God of a family
has come as much attack today, like the family structure.The
definition of family itself is not clear any more.What is to constitute a man, a wife
family? Is it made up of a man, wife and children; or is it two
men and a dog; or even two women and adopted children? Is
and child or children is divine.
it made of a man with two or several wives or a man and
woman cohabiting along with children? What really This is because it is God’s way of establishing connections
constitutes a family from God’s perspective? It has been said that can influence our lives positively when understood and
that since society is evolving, the definition of family must taken advantage of.These connections are put there by God
evolve with it. to be channels of His favor and blessings.The first channel or
connection is the one that exists between a parent and a
When we look at the scripture, we notice that the Lord is
very particular about the family in His plans. In Genesis
45:13, 17-18 we see Joseph blessed and family. In Joshua
2:12-13, we see Rahab blessed and family. In Job 1:10 we see
Job blessed and family.We also see the blessing of God
extended to families in the new testament such as in Acts
10:1-2, 24, 44 and Acts 16:30-32.These are a few examples
of how God’s plans for individuals also include members of
their family.The family structure is an important theme in
the Bible.

It is statistically significant that sociopaths have been


linked to broken homes and families with a broken structure.
If we must have a decent society of productive citizens, then
there must be a focus on the home.The home is where we
learn values, become empowered to become productive Priscilla and Efe Obuke and family
people and become aligned to our purpose in life. In this first child. Ephesians 6: 1-3 says basically that children should
write up of a series we want to bring our thoughts back to obey and honor their parents in order to live long and have a
the family structure. It is a fact that wherever purpose is not fulfilled life.There are two things which can be seen here.
understood, abuse is inevitable.What this means is that if we First there is the promise of a long life, and secondly, we have
do not understand God’s plan and purpose for the family, the concept of a life with fulfillment and meaning. How many
then abuse of the family will be inevitable. people today do we see their lives cut short and living with

Real Relationships Magazine || 23


all kinds of hardships and struggles because of failure to a man and his wife is a sacred, this is why there is so much
understand this very awesome spiritual principle? There is no pressure today to redefine what constitutes a marriage.There
generation that is more plagued with parental disrespect, is a divine connection between such God approved couples
abuse and neglect like this our generation.There is so much and it is again another source of favor and blessings.
fighting, anger and bitterness in today’s children. Our parents
are God’s first decision in our lives.Therefore, when we The Bible says when a man finds a
dishonor them then we actually disrespect God and dishonor wife, he has found favor.
God. Parents come in different forms; some may be difficult,
some may be great, some may live in ways we do not There is a definite channel here. 1 Corinthians 7:14 says
appreciate but we need to realize that the way we treat them that even when one of the spouses is unbelieving, because of
is important as this will eventually show up in our lives. the relationship and connection in the union, the unbelieving
spouse is sanctified. Sanctification in this sense means a
On one hand, this parent-child connection was put here separation from that which ordinarily will hurt and harm.
by God and we can choose to activate it and put God’s Divine protection because of our spouse is available due to
blessings into our lives. On the other hand, we can choose to the relationship.
ignore, pretend it does not exist or treat it as irrelevant.The
fact remains that it is a channel from God to us. Malachi 2:13-14 tells of a man whose life had come
Deuteronomy 5:9 puts another perspective to this. From the under a curse because of the way he had chosen to disregard,
parental angle, the Bible says that the consequences of a disrespect and treat his wife. How you treat your spouse
parents’ action will show up in the lives of their children even again like the parent/child relationship will affect your life.
up to the third and fourth generation.This tells us that as Your spouse is more than just someone you live with.You
parents, God has connected the future lives of our children cannot ignore your spouse and expect all things to go on well
into what we are and what we become.The Bible says that with you. I was preaching at a church when the Lord spoke
when Abraham gave tithes to God, the blessing of that action to my heart that a wife present was in bitterness towards her
was also credited to his great grandson. As parents, we must husband because of the way he had treated her.The Lord
be responsible for our actions.We can choose to either showed that what they had built together for years was
channel blessings or pain and anguish to our future beginning to crumble despite their prayers and the reason the
generations yet unborn. enemy now had his way was because of the manner in which
they treated one another. Marriage is a sacred covenant and is
Another divine connection an important connection for God’s favor and blessings. Abuse
in the family structure, put here by of this sacred covenant and institution will bring disaster and
pain into our lives.
God is the one between a man
and his wife.A husband and
There is no doubt in our minds that
a wife is not just an ordinary
we must begin to build accurate
relationship.The Bible compares
it with the kind of relationship we family structures and take advantage
have with Christ as believers. of the channels God has provided
between parents and children and
It is the only relationship we have that is so highly valued. between spouses.This will allow for us
David had a relationship with Jonathan as a friend.We have to fully partake of the blessings that
relationships with our siblings, neighbors, fellow-workers but
none is ever compared with what we have with Christ except God has orchestrated for a family. J
the one between a man and his wife.Thus marriage between

24 || Real Relationships Magazine


Sally was an immigrant to the United Kingdom from an African country. She was like
every other economic immigrant across the globe, one drive they had, it was to go to the
more economically advantaged country, work, save some money and return home to
fulfill their dreams. She would soon come to the realization that it would have been
much better for her to have remained in her country, go through all the pain she
would have had to suffer and with her unshaken faith in God and a little amount of
patience, she would begin to fulfill their dreams. She reminisced a lot about what led
to her coming to the UK.
She had had a job in a manufacturing company in her country. For six months,
they had stalled in paying out salaries and each day during those six months, she
returned home that with a sense of crushing hopelessness. She had gone to work that
fateful day in the hope that she would return home with smiles since the accountant
of the company had promised her the day previous that all the workers would be
paid their salaries retroactively. Alas, it was to be a dashed hope.
“How long am I going to continue like this?” She had asked herself. The rent
was overdue and an intolerant landlord who was not ready to forget his own
problems to be sympathetic to hers. She refused to deprive herself of not
looking good because she was blessed with good looks from God. Of course, it
went without saying she needed food and other basic needs. She often blessed God
whenever she stood in front of the mirror for deeming it fit to adorn her with a
marketable physique.
That day, she had reluctantly gone on her knees, clutched onto the bible on the bed to
perform what had used to be daily ritual for her. The words were hard to say. She had knelt
down for almost an hour with great strain to request from God to put an end to her miser-
ies. The only few words she had succeeded in getting out were;
God, are you still up there?’
Sally had got up from her knees that day and as she made out to undress, a soft sound had
come from the door. There was someone knocking at the door.
“Who is it?” She had shouted with a difficult attempt to hide her annoyance.
She was in no mood to entertain any visitor.
“It is I, Abigail.” The knocker had replied.
She had gone to open the door for Abigail to come in.

Real Relationships Magazine || 25


Abigail and her were colleagues and were both suffering all the confidence in the world.
the same fate. Sally was quiet for some time before she added; “Have
As soon as Abigail had sat down, she started telling Sally you prayed over it?”
that she came with good news that would put an end to their “The reason why people pray is because of poverty; I’m
problems.There was nothing more that Sally wanted to hear walking out of poverty soon and I’ll pray later.”
more than someone telling her that here was a solution to her “You’ve not walked out of it completely yet.”
problem. So she listened eagerly. Abigail had gone on to tell “God said we should not be afraid that He will get to our
her that there was somebody working in the Ghanaian High destinations before us.”
Commission who was getting visas for people to enable them Abigail had said.
travel to any country of their choice for a small fee. “With that kind of money, one can start something
Sally had closed her eyes and opened them. She did not meaningful here.” Sally had said.
know what to say. She was confused, yet it was not an “That is if you would be lent that kind money to do
opportunity she wanted to wish away. Not in her present something meaningful here in the first place! We can’t
predicament, come to think of it.When she asked Abigail continue like this!” Abigail had shouted and Sally had
what the ‘small fee’ was, she did not only close and open her remained quiet and pensive.
eyes, she opened her mouth for several minutes until Abigail “And who is going to lend me the money?” Sally had
had to remind her to close it. asked.
“Where do you think I can get that kind of money from? “The same person who had lent it to me.” Abigail had
You of all people should know that we’ve not been paid for replied.
months now and even at that!” Sally and Abigail had gone to the same man who would
“I got mine and I’ve since paid.” Abigail had said as if the lend Sally the money to start processing her visa.The money
amount was money to be found on the street every other day. was to be paid in full and with a fifty percent interest at a
“Thirteen thousand cedis! Where did you get that kind of given period failure of which her parents’ house she had used
money from?” as collateral would be forfeited.
“I borrowed it.” While Sally got the visa and travelled to the UK, till date,
“You borrowed thirteen thousand cedis just to travel she did not know what happened to Abigail’s.
abroad!” Sally had exclaimed. The first thing she did on arrival to the UK was to
look for a branch of her local church, she found one and
“I’ll get it back once I get there.” Abigail had replied with became a devoted member as usual. Immediately she was
Continued on page 51
26 || Real Relationships Magazine
Remove the Accursed Thing...
...or you will become
accursed like it
There are things that we have brought into our lives that have
made certain situations inevitable.These things dictate how our
lives go, in terms of what we do or do not do.This is one of the
major reasons why we do some things we never expected to do
and engage in certain activities that we never imagined that we
would in our wildest dream.The eyes are the windows to the soul,
and what our eyes see, we end up doing or becoming. Most times
we imagine that the things we see or read have no effect on us, and
this is the greatest lie that the young believer has bought from the
devil, because the Bible warns that there is no how a man can carry
hot coals in his bosom and not be burned (Proverbs 6:28).

It is about cause and effect. If you mess around with


pornographic books or magazines; if you watch certain movies
which are unwholesome, you are playing around with an accursed
thing, and the word of God is out, abstain from the accursed thing,
or you will become accursed like it (Joshua 6:18).The sex is a
consequence of bringing into our souls through the things we
watch and listen to, information, accursed things that have
ultimately made us accursed ourselves.This is the reason why the
church looks so weak today, because we have allowed ourselves to stand and trust God for the wisdom to understand the matter
engage in practices that have ended us up in a mess that is clearly much later.
inevitable – Sexual sins.We have created an environment that
enables sex among the unmarried believers. Most times we say to ourselves that pornography for instance
is not harmful if you can control yourself. Some people have even
Sex is a powerful thing and it is not something that believers argued that it is not evil depending on how you look at it. Just one
should play around with. A lot of people engaged in sexual sins question for you, have you ever seen a decent pornographic movie?
today, do not like what they are doing and yet do not know how Or have you ever heard of pornography that has a decent plot or
they got into it; and because they do not know how they got into story line?
it, they are neck deep in the mess, and seem to be getting deeper
and deeper. Sex is like a bird in a cage. It cries for freedom and What do you lose when you do not watch pornography? What
opportunity to get out of the cage. But it stays in the cage until do you lose when you read and listen to unwholesome things?
someone lets it out from the cage by opening the door of the cage. What do you gain when you mess around with the devil’s tool box,
Once the door is opened and the bird is out, it is difficult to get knowing that this guy is one fellow that never leaves his property
the bird back into the cage. with you without wanting his finger on the pie every now and
again (but this is another story for my book “the devil’s tool box”).
It is wisdom to avoid going to certain places in the name of One of the devil’s most potent strategies is to isolate you with
having fun, or reading certain books; and watching certain movies, information that make holiness and purity impossible, then he
because they keep you alive.We are a people with a standard and strikes knowing that there is nothing you can fall back on once the
the moment we lower these standards we pay dearly for it.We atmosphere is ripe for attack
must avoid some activities; we must avoid certain books, magazines
and movies.There are songs we have not business listening to. It is possible to resist the urge to engage in accursed activities,
especially putting into consideration the fact that the consequences
Note that sexual sin does not put into consideration how are more far reaching than we could ever imagine. Flee
anointed you are. As a matter of fact, it has swallowed up much fornication. Every sin that a man commits is without the body; but
more anointed folk than you can ever imagine.The Bible is succinct he that commits fornication sins against his own body (1
in this issue when it says flee from every appearance of evil.That is Corinthians 6:18)… therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist
to say, it might not be evil, but it looks like evil… At this point, do the devil, and he will run away from you. Remove the accursed
not try to stick around to confirm whether it is evil or not.Take a things, and you shall not be accursed. J
Real Relationships Magazine || 27
KELVIN “NAJITE” IKPENI is originally from Nigeria, and goes by
the stage name NAJITE. He is a Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Fusion and
Contemporary Guitarist based in Laurel, Maryland. He started
playing the Guitar as a teenager at his local church. His hope grew at
that point to be the desire that one day he’d become a professional
jazz musician. He then moved from his home town to Lagos,
Nigeria, there he met other fellow musicians and learned very fast as
he pursued his dream. Over the years, Najite had the opportunity
to work with various churches including one of the fastest growing
church in Lagos, Nigeria; “House On The Rock”.

He was also one of the few musicians that were selected to attend
the South African Film and Television Market (SYTHENGI) in
South Africa, 2003. Najite relocated to the United States in the
summer of 2005, in pursuit of his dream of greater professional
opportunities in music. He also needed new ideas for his
rhythmic, melodic and harmonic jazz phrasing. He has been

28 || Real Relationships Magazine


driven by his hunger to learn, to constantly push himself to be the best.
He studies the greats and aspires to be greater. He has also played with
well known and renown musicians, like Lionel Peterson, Ron Kenoly,
Bishop TD Jakes, Donnie McClurkin, Cindy Trimm, Alvin Slaughter and
Marvin L Winans. Najite has also served as a Music Director and Band
Leader for the CORA Award Winner, Sammie Okposo and The X-
Generation Band.

By releasing his Debut Album, GENESIS OF ME, Najite has added a brand
new style and genre to the music world, and it is called “NEO LIFE”.The
Neo Life style of playing came from fusion of Neo soul, smooth jazz and his
native High life rhythm. Listening to Najite reveals the depth of his talent and
his gift os from the Lord to our generation. Najite also has a 5piece band called
Exponent5 which he produces and directs.The group is committed to play all
kinds of music, from jazz to Gospel, R&B, soul, fusion, Neo soul, Neo life,
smooth jazz, etc. He has a diploma in Biblical studies from The Redeemer Bible
College and Chesapeake Bible College & Seminary. J

29
“As the evening wore on,
the barriers came down,
and the conversation
became more intimate...”

A Novel by Femi Awodele


Tola, Sade, Aisha and Uche were roommates at the then
University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.They were all class members of
the class of 1980, even though they matriculated in different years.

Three of the four girls had been in America for many years, before
Sade won the visa lottery with her family, bringing all four friends back
together again.They have been corresponding by phone, e-mail and other means of communications, sharing about
their marriages, children and other regular topics about former classmates as well as the situation in their home
country of Nigeria, while they all look forward to when they can all meet again.

The University of Ife, North America alumni meeting was scheduled for the summer of 2002 and was being hosted by
the Houston,Texas chapter.The girls decided this was their opportunity to all meet, so everyone made arrangements
to come for the alumni meeting.

Holiday Inn Southwest Freeway, Houston TX


June 2002

Tola and Aisha arrived at about the same time at the George Bush International airport, as Tola turned on concourse
A, she caught her first glimpse of Aisha. As if Aisha felt her staring at her, she glanced over her shoulder as their eyes
locked. Instantly the two ladies saw history unfold within their minds eye. A split second later their squeals startled
passersby and echoed across the terminal.They ran to each and embraced.They held each other tightly and the years
melted away. Finally they decided to go get their luggage and board the hotel shuttle for the trip to the hotel. In the
shuttle,Tola brought out the pictures of the kids in her purse and told Aisha what each one of them is up to, they were
still admiring each other’s hairstyle when the shuttle pulled up at the hotel lobby.They both went to their rooms to
freshen up as soon as they got to the hotel and agreed to meet at the lobby later.

30 || Real Relationships Magazine


Tola and Aisha came down to the lobby, about the time almost immediately and later to the United States.They
when the airport shuttle brought the next set of alumni have no children.
participants to the hotel. Sade and Uche had met on the
bus and chatted all the way. As the four girls met at the Uche has always been the life wire of any party and the
hotel lobby their greetings made the chandelier shake as most outgoing of all the girls. She graduated with a
squeals and peels of laughter spilled out of their hearts. bachelor of geography (social sciences) and immediately
As the girls had a group hug, tears rolled down went into business for herself. She would buy and sell
unchecked down their faces. Sade and Uche checked in merchandise from America, London, Paris and Italy to
and took their luggage to their rooms and came down Nigeria. Mainly clothing materials and other accessories
quickly to join Tola and Aisha at the conference hall for like shoes, bags etc. She had given up the hope of
the opening ceremony. marriage, when she was introduced to an American
based Nigerian, she met Nnamdi, also a businessman and
The event kicked off with a word of prayer and the she gave up her business to marry and join her husband
national anthems of Nigeria and that of the United States in his business.
of America. After the formalities and brief highlights of
what the weekend would include, everyone was As the evening wore on, the barriers came down, and
encouraged to catch up on old times, which was the the conversation became more intimate as they discussed
agenda for the night. their marital relationships, Aisha began to cry. At that
point Tola suggested they go to her room to continue the
All four girls sat together at a table in the conference conversation, as they went in the elevator,Tola rested her
room with their food and a lot to catching up to do. arm around Aisha’s shoulders.

Tola started the conversation; she is now a practicing As they settled in Tola’s room, Aisha started from the
family physician in Edison, New Jersey and married to beginning. After graduation in 1980, she got a job at the
Chris (they met at Ife and he too is, a physician but local television station in Kwara State as a news
specialized in Urology).They have three children, Chris reporter, working on different stories for her station. In
jr., and two daughters,Tomi and Sola. 1984 she was sent abroad for a four weeks course in
news anchoring.While in London, she met Peter who
Sade graduated from Law school and worked at the was a successful corporate manager at the shell
prestigious Union bank in Lagos where she rose to corporation.
become an Assistant Manager (Legal), she met and
married Kunle who worked for a different bank; he has Peter had worked at Shell Oil Nigeria and was sent to
his degree in Banking and Finance from the University of work abroad because of his excellent logistic abilities;
Lagos and a master’s degree from Ife University.They the corporation recognized an asset in him.They were
also have three children. In 1993, they won the US visa also paying for his Master’s Education in Chemical
lottery and it was a very tough decision for them to give Engineering. Aisha was introduced to Peter at a party
up everything they owned and choose to come to while she was in London and he was immediately
America. Sade has recently set up her law office attracted to this beautiful woman. Peter is the beacon in
specializing in immigration law in central Chicago. his household; he was the first graduate and also the
breadwinner taking care of not only his parents but also
Aisha is from the middle belt of Nigeria. Her father is an the other siblings in various colleges. His family has
Anglican (Episcopalian) Priest who wanted the best for tremendous influence in his life, in-fact unbeknown to
her child. She came to Ife and graduated with a second- him they were already making arrangement for an Ishan
class upper (magna cum laude) honor in English. She woman to marry him (the parents wanted a woman who
completed her graduate degree in social work while in would make their son happy but that that they would
England. Aisha and Peter (from the delta region of have influence over or would be on their side incase of a
Nigeria) married in Nigeria but moved to London conflict).

Real Relationships Magazine || 31


women who marry into their culture; moreover she has
After the party they met a couple more times before no intention of living abroad because she has a job that
Aisha went back to Nigeria. Peter told her about his pays well and will fulfill all her dreams.
family and how he loved them. Aisha quickly picked on
the fact that this was a mama’s boy and she would have The more Aisha said no, the more Peter determined to
nothing to do with him.They exchanged information marry her. She was beautiful, elegant, and classy and was
about each other. Upon her arrival, she spoke with her not like the other girls that wanted him for his money.
parents and friends who told her that people from
Peter’s culture of Nigeria don’t treat their daughters-in- Peter spent a couple of days in Ilorin, enjoying the
law well, and God forbid if the man dies the woman is capital city of Kwara state trying to persuade Aisha. He
subjected to serious torture from completely shaving her decided to give her a break and travel to his hometown
head to taking the kids from her, taking the properties in Bendel State to see his parents and extended family.
and much more stuff.
To be continued...
Peter was so sure that he had romantically impressed
Aisha, more so because of his corporate standing and
finances; he thought that he could pretty much get any
woman he wanted. It was a matter of time when she
would fall for his charm and money.

Three months after Aisha visited London, Peter still did


not hear from her in spite of several efforts to contact
her.The more she was elusive the more he liked her, he
decided to travel to Nigeria and meet her.

Ilorin, Nigeria
July 1984

Upon returning to Nigeria and to her Television station,


Aisha was promoted as a news anchorperson, she
doubled as a news documentary producer too. Her new
position kept her busy and she soon forgot all about
Peter. One afternoon, Aisha came out of the editing
room where she was finishing a documentary on the
transportation system in Kwara state, as soon as she sat
at her desk her phone rang and she was told she had a
guest. She went to the reception area to meet her guest
and was pleasantly surprised to see Peter, who had not
called about his intention to visit Nigeria more or less
Kwara State.

She led him to her office, they exchanged pleasantries


and surprises, and she offered him some drinks while
they chatted about her documentary. Aisha then went
straight to the point telling Peter that nothing can
happen between them because of what she has heard
about how people from his part of the country treat
32 || Real Relationships Magazine
concerning Christ and the church…”- conclude on this institution
What is a marriage vow? as a mystery. A mystery denotes a form of knowledge that
The encyclopedia defines vow as “a sacred voluntary promise
conferred valuable benefits but is restricted to a special group who
to dedicate oneself to a special obligation that goes beyond usual,
were bound together by their religious practices. For a person to
social or religious requirement” A marriage vow therefore is that
have access to this knowledge he had to first be initiated into the
promise that two people make to each other to the exclusion of all
group.
others expressing their commitment for all times broken only by
death.
We can then summarize that:
With a description like that, why then are there so many 1) Little is known about marriage in the spiritual sense.
divorces, unfaithfulness in marriage and people viewing marriage 2) There are conditions to marriage that God ordained.
as a trap? Marriage has lost its appeal in the 21st century and this Marriage as a mystery refers to something sacred, hidden,
thought was echoed by Laura Garcia in her article, “Can marriage secret which is naturally unknown to human reason and is only
be saved?” where she stated that “The truth is that marriage as an known by the revelation of God.The initiation here talks about our
institution is in a state of crisis and many view it as a relic of new birth. Being born of the spirit is the foundation to being able
happier times that has lost its relevance”. A celebrity once to access this great mystery.
questioned the relevance of his having to get married. His
observation was that there was no meaning in the institution. If he Derek Prince in his one of his books defined covenant as that
were to get married his vows will state something like “I take you what expresses a relationship which God Himself sovereignty
to have and to hold until we get bored with each other” initiates out of His own choice and decision. God defines the
terms. Man’s part is simply to respond to God’s offer on the terms
A spiritual authority summarized the meaninglessness of that God sets. God’s mind is clear in the institution of marriage.
marriage as purely “practical atheism” which he describes as living The epistle to the Ephesians refers to Him as the cornerstone. He
as if God does not exist. How do we fix all these problems? What is the third angle of the Tri-angle of marriage, in Him is the
is God’s mind on marriage? Will it be different if the couple take completion, without Him is chaos and questions.
their vows seriously or simply as the vows says? What is the role of
the marriage vows in marriage after the ceremony? Anyhow hope is not lost if we acknowledge Him in our
relationship regardless of how we started out. He has the answers
During the wedding ceremony, there is always an exhortation, to the questions and can speak to the chaos…Let there be. He is
a charge before the vow is taken by the couple where they are known as the Lord that called those things that are not as though
given the last opportunity to back off if they are aware of any they were. He is more interested to see that hopeless situation
reason why they should not be lawfully joined together.Though not becoming a paradise if you will let Him.
convenient it is at that time the couples are to reveal to each other
or one another if there are lies or false matters that will taint or A covenant represents final, irrevocable commitment. Once
damage the marriage if found out later for the Bible says in God makes covenant with His chosen , He no longer deal with him
Proverbs 12:19-20 – “Truthful lips shall be established forever but in the future terms but in present terms - in the “now” terms. A
a lying tongue is credited but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart renowned writer expressed that the sacrifice upon which the
of those who devise evil”Those vows if spoken in truth are covenant of Christian marriage is based is the death of Jesus Christ
established by God, therefore when two people get married before on our behalf. He is the sacrifice through which, by faith a man and
God, they are in a covenant relationship with themselves and God. a woman can come into the relationship of marriage as God
The nature of this covenant is one of the jealousy- guarded Himself ordained it.
secret of scripture. It is a pearl-precious which God will not cast to
the careless. It is too holy to be unveiled to the impure.What In Genesis 15: 7-18, the Lord entered into a covenant with
Ephesians 5:32 (KJV) says “This is a great mystery: but I speak Abram. Just as the Lord and Abram passed between the pieces of

Real Relationships Magazine || 33


the slain animals so in marriage a man and woman passes through speak words we do not mean. Sexual union means: I find you
the death of Jesus Christ on their behalf into a totally new life and attractive, I care for you, I will try to work for your happiness, I
a totally new relationship which would have been impossible wish to have a deep bond with you and I am committed to you. If
without the death of Jesus Christ. these amongst others are not meant, then those who engage in
sexual acts have lied with their bodies, making false promises.
The covenant of Christian marriage
is made at the foot of the cross.This Preparation is necessary to enter
explain the mystery .This truth can into this act.There is the need to
only be received by revelation. understand where God place this in
This is talking about your spiritual eyes popping open.This is marriage covenant.
a function of the new birth.There are vital parts in this covenant Sexual acts goes deeper than the physical. It is a symbol of
relationship. Ephesians 5:22-33 explains it clearly.These verses of deep bond, commitment into the institution.
scripture break down the mutual responsibilities of the husband God describes His relationship with His chosen people like a
and the wife.The main responsibility of the man is to protect and marriage covenant. Isaiah 54:5 says “For thy maker is thine
provide, and that of the wife is to uphold and encourage.The husband….”This is how Christ is committed to His Church as He
fulfillment of these roles is the work of abundance of grace in expects the husband to his wife, reference Ephesians 5:32.
Christ Jesus.This grace is accessed by each submitting and Marriage vow is therefore an expression of commitment to a
committing to God. It is the act of commitment that releases God’s promise. God attaches great importance to such a commitment.
grace.The outcome of this commitment is a new kind of life and Hebrews 13:4 says that marriage should be held in honor and great
relationship.This commitment to God, and submission to one price, and not to defile the marriage bed.
another produces a union.
The marvel of marriage is that through it, two human
A God-ordained union, the commitment heightens to another personalities are permitted to know each other in all their
degree which knows.The scripture makes a clear distinction uniqueness, permitted to explore sacred innermost depth of each
between “knowing” and “lying with” Bringing me to another major other which is so wondrous and so sacred that God protected it
area in intimacy; Should sexual union only take place within with His demand for covenant commitment. Hence, there is need
marriage? Genesis 4:1 read “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she for preparation before the vow. Preparing to be selfless and
conceived and bore Cain” knew as in have sexual relationship with working towards fulfilling one another. Preparing to go through
his wife.Whenever a man come together with a woman in a pre-marriage classes with emphasis on 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13.
covenant union which had the seal of God’s approval, scripture says
he “knew” her but where it was an illicit relationship, one which Of real importance before taking the marriage vow is self-
God had not enforced and did not approve, scripture says he “lay” examination.The questions you should ask yourself are:What is
with her. It implies that a man may lay(promiscuous sexual your desired goal for taking this vow? Is it to achieve a deep bond
intercourse) with 50 women and never “know” one. Sexual or unholy yoke, holy solemnization (two becoming one) or
intercourse that is not preceded by permanent, mutual deceptive harmony? In all these preparations, remember that
commitment is immorality. marriage covenant is for life and irrevocable. It cannot be achieved
in a brief encounter.
Sexual relation creates a powerful bond between individual
between those who do not desire or intend the bond.Those who
engage in sexual intercourse are engaging in an action that speaks a What has love got to do with it?
deep commitment to one another. It is going to be either The existence of the institution of marriage acknowledges the
“knowing” or “lying with.” importance of love for the happiness of human beings. Love
nourishes human goodness like no other force. Love assists to make
Pope John Paul II uses an interesting phrase in his teachings on us feel secure in ourselves. It gives us the confidence to dare to
sex he likened it to “language of the body” It is like speaking, bodily exercise our talents. It gives the assurance to reach out to others.
actions have meanings and unless we intend those meanings with Love heals past wounds. Human beings are complicated and not
our actions we should not perform them anymore than we should easily known by others, a lifetime relationship such as marriage
seems hardly time enough to get to know each other. Sexual
intimacy plays a role in revealing one another; it produces an
opportunity of giving oneself exclusively away-naked and
unashamed-to another person.

CONTINUED, PAGE 51

By Minister Ade Abioye


34 || Real Relationships Magazine
Job 22:21-30: Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. One who thinks
about problems and enemies lives in the bustle.Whenever you notice that you are worrying about something or in a panic,
be aware that you have departed from the source of grace.When we are acquainted with God, He fills our lives with
peace.

During a personal retreat with God you gain his trust and his secrets are revealed to you.You have access to knowledge
that is closed and inaccessible to others. Proverbs 25:2 says: It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of
kings is to search out a matter.
For example, diamonds do not lie on the surface, one should search for them. But the one who finds a diamond will
not remain the same.This valuable gem will make the person rich, influential and weighty. In this world God’s secrets also
do not lie on the surface, but they are revealed during the time spent with God.When you spend time alone with God, it
causes the power of God to come upon you and makes you “conceive” and also causes you (an ordinary person) to gain the
authority of a king in the spiritual realm.

God would not entrust his innermost secrets to us, until he is sure that we are truly seeking him above all other
things. He must be convinced that he is our first priority, he has priority over our families, work, finances and other
concerns.We make God our first priority when we set out time to have a personal prayer retreat with him. Job 22:23: If
thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles. As soon as we
find God - our life comes to order.

All great achievements are as a result of personal retreat. It could be personal retreat with God, with books or
manuscripts. If we do not participate in the art of personal prayer retreat with God, we cannot be placed on the record of
history. God entrusts His secrets only to those who seek Him. Great discoveries are born during personal retreats. During
these periods new ideas and great insights are released from heaven.Those who despise personal prayer retreat – gnawed
with bustle of this world and the claws of a crawfish firmly hold them
in a trap.
Personal retreats can be carried out for self-
development - to read, enrich and cultivate oneself. At
this time one can hear the voice of God and receive
instruction from him, tear oneself away from the
bustle and outside voices of this world. It is so
important to arrange personal prayer retreats with
fasting for more than 3 days, because after the third
day the flesh calms down and no longer dictate its
terms and one’s thoughts become pure.Those that do
not practice personal prayer retreat for 3 days or more
do not understand the sweetness of communion with
God and one can say that their Christian lives has not
started yet!
Note for yourself that my great and brilliant
speeches are always the result of concealed rehearsals.

Real Relationships Magazine || 35


In other words, invisible sacrifice and exhausting secret work, always glorify you in front of an audience on the world stage. If
there is no secret preparations and exhaustive work then it is pointless to dream of applause, recognition and glory.You will not
get on to the podium without secret exhaustive work.Whenever you see someone with a good public reputation, then think
immediately of the backroom exhaustive work, which the person has placed on the altar.

Personal prayer retreat reveals secret information and skills which causes you to shine like a diamond in the world arena.

Matthew 13:11 says: “He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom
of heaven, but to them it is not given.”

Mark 4:11 says: “And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them
that are without, all these things are done in parables”

Luke 8:10 says: “He said: you is given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, and the rest in parables, so that they are
seeing, not seeing and hearing, may not understand.”

36 || Real Relationships Magazine


By Tola Ingwerson

It was quiet in the room.The shuffling of papers could be heard, pens scratching against paper and the hard hitting of
buttons.The buttons in this case being calculators.The focus in the room was unmistakable. Ms Tennard’s homeroom class was
taking the mock test run for their state exam today.
The students were serious about the exam in particular this year because there was a rumor going about that this year
summer school was being scrapped due to less funds in the state budget. No summer school meant your next year school
program was going to be a mess due to incompatibility of classes when core classes requirements hadn’t been met yet.
Cesar looked around the room and said a quiet prayer within him. It was his first year in America.This class was so easy, but
yet the kids didn’t understand.They also didn’t like to do homework, argued with the teacher a lot and complained about
Algebra a lot. He did enjoy a lot of things about going to school here, everyone had a calculator, a textbook of their own and
individual computers to do work on.There were so many afterschool activities to belong to! The hardest thing was…..his
thoughts were interrupted by Ms Tennard rebuking Rj. Cesar frowned, ‘Hmmm…Rj….class clown’ he thought.
At the same time, Cynthia was also focused upon the questions but was disrupted by Ms Tennard’s sharp rebuking of Rj. She
Real Relationships Magazine || 37
frowned. She loathed how Rj had to become someone else in case, the loser with the accent.
class to be accepted by the other boys, when she and Rj spoke Yes, the accent.The one thing he still wrestled with in
online on myspace, he was a different person. He was more class, initially it made him stick out like a sore thumb in his
introspective and intelligent.Why then did he constantly class and made him feel self-conscious especially as the other
depreciate himself for acceptance? She said a little prayer kids made fun of him. Fortunately he was a quick study and
inside for Rj. She felt his pain. observed the pecking order of the school, and saw that boys
Ms Tennard hissed and sat down who were funny were popular and well liked. So he strove to
be funny and popular. It had meant losing his Honor roll
again. Dealing with a bunch of 14 status, as he couldn’t be seen as square and he stopped
year olds wasn’t easy.They constantly speaking “Proper.” He used a lot of slang in his speech now
and let his pants sag a bit at school. He always straightened
tested your patience and reminded his pant before he got into the house.
you of your own teenage proclivities. He was two people,
Especially that Rj, she knew how intelligent he was. Rj at school and Rj at home.
However he deliberately dumbed himself down for
At home, he was nice obedient Rj, went to church with
acceptance. Racism was a sad thing, she sighed. She saw how
his mom. A church filled with people from his native country.
the other teachers treated the black boys. Having less
It always made him anxious amongst them.They always spoke
patience with them, quick to blame them when things went
about their native country as though it were heaven and
wrong and never encouraging them to realize their abilities.
America was an evil place. He always had the same thought
So the boys accepted how they were treated as their due.
within him, “If it was so great back home, why did you come
Some even took it as their right, as something to be proud of.
over here?’
She prayed daily for the wounded boys, that’s what most of The bell rang, the exam was over. Cesar stood up and
them were, didn’t have positive male role models in their pushed back his chair. As he did so, his exam booklet fell.
lives to look up to and were scared little boys within. Smoothly, the boy behind Cesar picked it up and switched it
How would she bring out the best in these boys during with his. Shocked, Cesar raised an alarm and Ms Tennard
the 8 hours daily that she was in contact with them? It was a came over. Cesar described what had happened and Ms
question she grappled with daily. Everyday before she stepped CONTINUED ON PAGE 52
out of her car, she prayed so hard within her for the right
thing to say to them and for the patience and love of God to
shine through her to them.
Rj looked at the test paper and grumbled within him. He
actually knew this stuff but has eschewed reviewing through
his notes for time for basketball with the boys. Afterwards
they had a contest on who had the most skills on Grand Theft
Auto, the latest version of the game that had just hit the
stores. He still heard his mom’s voice in his mind.
“Rj, come back home, don’t you
have homework to do. Good boys do
their homework and chores before
hanging out. I don’t like these boys
that you are hanging out with these
days….Rj Rj….”
He had run out of the house quickly. Holding his
Playstation III controller in one hand and his ipod in the
other. ‘What did his mother know about his friends?’ he
didn’t have a choice, it was either fit in with them or be the
loner in the neighborhood.The self identifiable loser. In his

38 || Real Relationships Magazine


BY FEMI AWODELE

W h en your P
aren
ts

ORIN
- L AW
Extended family is a major part of an
average African family, at engagement (or whatever it is
called in your part of Africa) ceremonies family members on both side
S VISIT
are introduced to each other.When couples have marital conflicts the elders in both
families step up and douse whatever fire is brewing between the two “children”.

This influence of the extended family also go beyond just resolving marital conflicts, the new wife automatically become a
“property” of her husband’s family, hence she has to call a two year old in her husband’s extended family “uncle or aunty”, in
some cases she is even referred to as “Eru (slave)”, we Ijeshas (Yoruba - Nigeria) call a woman married into our home “Eru Owa
(the king’s slave)”.

The parents of the man have tremendous influence on the home of their son, the mother; if close to that son have much
more influence.The woman’s mother also yield some influence as she is the one often consulted by the daughter and available to
help with the children. I have counseled with many Africans in Diaspora where the influence of the extended family visiting (or
some residing back home) from Africa is a huge problem.

Our parents from Africa visit us for many reasons, some come for graduation, some for business, some for vacation, some
for health reasons, but the most common reason for their visit is helping out with a new child or growing children (someone to
stay at home when we are at work).When our parent visits they come with the African notion of what the structure of the
home should be, what they experienced with their mother-in-law or the larger African society.The concept of the “peculiar
marital conflict” (the role of man and woman, romance, conflict resolution, etc) of their child and his/her spouse in Diaspora is
foreign to them, and depending on the personality (aggressive, passive-aggressive or passive) of the visiting parent, their visit
brings about its own set of conflict in that home.

Real Relationships Magazine || 39


Unique problems often associated with visiting parents home (in Africa), from volunteering at church, to being the
from Africa neighborhood parent (yell at kids), many of them are also
elders that get to solve extended family disputes.When they
1. Life Style Adjustment visit western countries, especially in areas where African
population is minimal, they become homesick real quick after
I grew up with six siblings (and then some) living in a
a short while and that could affect their mood and that of the
very tight square footage and did not feel crowded; many of
home.
you reading this article did as well. However, when we do
have visitors it feels like someone is encroaching because we
The problem with the above is that with the lifestyle in
have to adjust our lifestyle. I remember visiting the homes of
Diaspora (husband and wife working with no house-help)
some of my friends (and they mine) when we were in Ife, it
such a habit or demand cannot be met in some cases or
took a lot of adjusting especially when friends visit my home,
sustained for long in most cases.
as my family often walked around with little clothes on.

Many couples in Diaspora live a particular lifestyle before 3.Taking care of a new baby or
the visiting parent arrives; now they have to adjust to suit the discipline of adult kids
visiting Mom or Dad. For instance, my boys make their own When we had our first baby, my mother-in-law stayed
breakfast (cereal, waffle or my 12 year old make eggs), Ola with us for a couple of weeks and my mother came for about
and I just make do with our mug of coffee (I think we are six months. I saw my wife (then a medical student) struggle
hooked to coffee) till lunch and sometimes for me dinner. In with both mothers and their style of what to do with the
many Diaspora home, the wife would usually not make stew baby.With her mom, she was able to talk to her about what
on a regular basis because of work schedule. However, to she wanted but it was tougher with my mom, she eventually
accommodate a visiting parent, changes are made to this did (can’t tell you the timeline or if it was with me or not). It
regular lifestyle. is amazing how our parents respond to baby’s need (based on
oral traditions) and for new mothers in Diaspora who have
There is also a reverse-adjustment when a parent is read all available books on child rearing and development,
visiting. Many African husbands do house chores like washing this issue could really be a big problem.
the dishes, cooking if they are home first, cleaning the house
and taking care of the children’s need. However, for strange For the parents visiting to help with adult kids, they often
reasons when their parent are around from Africa, they refuse find your style of rearing your kids different and for the
to do these things again, perhaps because they don’t want to aggressive parent, they’ll correct you and even change your
look like “woman wrapper” or sometimes just thinking that rule in front of the children, the passive parent might not say
their mom would take over those duties (because they believe anything to you but would call your child and undermine
it’s a woman’s job and they’ve always done it to help out). your authority by changing your instruction.

These adjustments if it is going on for too long would When our parents correct our children, many of us feel
start to cause discomfort and conflict between everybody, that rebuke is really on us (I did) and did not like it. Some of
from the visiting parent to the husband and wife. the corrections are appropriate (could be done in another
way though), we just don’t want them calling the shot in our
2. Habits from home home, especially since they’ve had the opportunity to raise us
In fairness to our parents they have their own habits or and now it is our turn (for better or worse).
routine back home that is disrupted when they visit, and
some of them want to continue those habits when they are 4. Disagreement between a
visiting in Diaspora. I find this more common with the men, visiting parent and child-in-law
they want their food served only by their daughter-in-law,
One thing I tell young adults getting married is to be
they want stew cooked daily, they don’t want to eat on the
careful how they introduce their fiancé to their parents. If
dinner table (as it is the habit in their son’s home), they want
you introduce your intending wife or husband as a doormat
to be waited on just as it was back home etc. Some mother-
expect your parents and siblings to walk all over him or her,
in-laws would usually refuse to cook in their daughter-in-laws
if he/she is introduced as a queen or king, expect some
kitchen as well.
opposition for a while and then respect (if consistent) or
Our parents have a thousand and one thing they do at
cordiality with him/her eventually.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 52
40 || Real Relationships Magazine
BY TALITHA PAM

It was a hot, quiet, lazy Sunday afternoon. Many of the occasional pinch of salt or coal to light a fire to prepare the
villagers were seated outside under the shade of the trees or evening meal.
shade provided by houses that had not been burnt during the
attack.The renowned cool and pleasant weather the Jos- On the early hours of March 7 those same “friendly
Plateau people were accustomed to was just a dream.The air neighbors” came to the village but not to smile and chat but
was still and only the troublesome flies flew around like to kill and destroy. Boldly they came to the door and
nothing had happened. shamelessly with a good natured voice they called out a
greeting in the local dialect before they proceeded to
The town had an eerie feeling to it; it was a ghost town. ruthlessly kill their friends.The inhabitants of the village
The air was still slightly hazy from several structures that finally realized what there Hausa-Fulani counterparts were up
were still smoking. Shattered louvers, burnt zinc roofing to and tried to flee but alas they were not fast enough for
sheets, charred wood and pieces of iron and metal that had their sophisticated weapons and their machetes that flew
not been destroyed was all that remained of the once lively through the air. Amidst the cries of help and screams of pain
and bubbly community.The villagers looked discouraged and their once friends exchanged crude jokes before some even
sad. Understandably so since loved ones had been rudely dared to boldly tell them that their days on this earth were
snatched away just weeks ago, the tears still ran and the over and proceeded to gleefully pour petrol on their bodies
wounds still raw and so painful. and burn them to death.

For years the Hausa-Fulani people had lived amicably How do you ever forgive and love
with the inhabitants of the land; the Berom. For years they
had grazed their cattle on their land, traded amongst again…..Is it even possible I asked?
themselves, celebrated births, mourned deaths and had
enjoyed many jokes together as they often shared meals with The deception was huge the betrayal colossal and to most
each other.They knew their names, spoke their language, and the action was utterly unforgivable.What about what the
like all peaceful living neighbors came to borrow the Bible says about forgiveness and love? I asked.What about the
fact that the Hausa- Fulani are not saved and are inhabited by name is Karl," said a strained voice that came from
the devil? I questioned.What about the fact they many of somewhere within the bandages. "I must tell you of this
them are under arrest and would be tried in the court of horrible deed - tell you because you are a Jew."
Law? I argued. None of this mattered to the villagers as many
of them told me that they would not feel like justice had been Karl told of his Catholic childhood and the faith he had
done till they were all caught and killed.They could not lost in the Hitler Youth Corps. He spoke of his service in the
forgive them unless they cried like they did over the loss of a army and his recent return, severely wounded, from the
child or spouse. Love they said with scorn as they blatantly Russian front. Finally he told of something that had happened
laughed in my face was a figment of my imagination.With in Ukrainian territory. Booby traps had killed 30 soldiers in
machetes and knives they had sliced open guts and cracked Karl's unit. As an act of revenge they had rounded up 300
the skulls of their friends. Children they had often watch Jews, herded them into a three-storey house, doused it with
playing football and hide and seek with theirs had tried to gasoline, and fired grenades at it. Karl and his men encircled
scamper away as fast as their little legs would carry them they the house, their guns drawn to shoot anyone who tried to
shot them from behind…Love they asked shaking their escape. "The screams from the house were horrible," he said.
heads, forgiveness……..How?? "I saw a man with a small child in his arms. His clothes were
alight. By his side stood a woman, doubtless the mother of
One of the most important issues that we all face in life the child.With his free hand the man covered the child's eyes
is the question of forgiveness. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus - then he jumped into the street. Seconds later the mother
showed his recognition of this by including our request for followed.Then from the other windows fell burning bodies.
God's forgiveness, and our offer of it to others, as part of our We shot..."
daily prayer.We are never free of the need of receiving
forgiveness from God and from one another, and also of Karl described other atrocities, but kept circling back to
giving it to one another. It has been said that "the most the image of that young boy with black hair and dark eyes
painful question short of our own death is the question of falling from a building, target practice for the SS rifles. "I am
forgiveness." left here with my guilt," he concluded at last. "I know that
what I have told you is terrible. In the long nights while I
God commands us to love our enemies as we love have been waiting for death, time and time again I have
ourselves. I thought of the Jews that were tortured in Nazi longed to talk about it to a Jew and beg forgiveness from
concentration camps during the holocaust, I thought of him. Only I didn't know if there were any Jews left...I know
victims of the Rwandan genocide, I thought of the brutality what I am asking is almost too much for you, but without
of the Ku Klux Klan, I thought of the South African your answer I cannot die in peace.
Apartheid and the IRA bombings and thought of families of
victims of people like Jeffery Dahmer who had killed and “Simon Wiesenthal, an architect in his early twenties,
cannibalized seventeen young men. I thought of victims of now a prisoner dressed in a shabby uniform marked with the
rape, sexual harassment and other vicious crimes. How had yellow Star of David, felt the entire weight of his race bearing
they gotten over the hurt and pain? How if ever were they down on him. He stared out the window at the sunlit
able to forgive? courtyard. He looked at the eyeless heap of bandages lying in
the bed. "At last I made up my mind," he writes, "and
In his book,The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal, the without a word I left the room."
world's foremost Nazi hunter, tells of his war experiences. In
1944 he was a young Polish prisoner on his way to Such incidence raises in the starkest manner the whole
concentration camps. He had looked on helplessly as Nazi subject of forgiveness and love and leaves us begging for
answers more confused than ever.The scene in the hospital
soldiers forced his mother into a freight car crammed with room haunted Wiesenthal. He asked fellow prisoners what he
elderly Jewish women, and as they shot his grandmother to should have done. He inquired of rabbis and priests. Finally,
death on the stairway of her home. Altogether, 89 of his when he wrote up the story 20 years later, he sent it to the
Jewish relatives would die at the hands of the Nazis. brightest ethical minds he knew - Jew, Gentile, Catholic,
Protestant, and irreligious. "What would you have done in
my place?" he asked. "Did I do right?" Of the 32 men and
One bright sunny day, in a hospital for German women who responded, only 6 said he had done wrong in
casualties, he found himself alone with a dying German not forgiving the German. Most thought he had done right.
soldier in a dark, musty room.White gauze covered the man's "What moral or legal authority did he have to forgive injuries
face, with openings cut out for mouth, nose, and ears. "My done to someone else?" they asked.

42 || Real Relationships Magazine CONTINUED ON PAGE 54


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Real Relationships Magazine || 43


44 || Real Relationships Magazine
sorts of “eligible” men who down the line we find out is either

SINGLE secretly married, gay, a criminal or psycho, leaving us hurt, abused


or brokenhearted. No hard feelings, we love you and understand
you do this with the best of intentions but I think cupid prefers to
work alone.

As a single lady I am blessed with emotions and affections. I may

FULLNESS
not have a family of my own but all around me there are men,
women and children that need someone to talk and listen to,
someone to help them, someone to love them. As an aunt, sister
and most importantly a woman I am able to reach people of
various levels and have more than adequate time for them because
By Talitha Pam of my singleness.This makes me a special and wonderful tool for
service to millions of people all around me.
Last year I turned 40. Previously, I would obviously never tell
anyone my real age. I would just tell them I’m in my thirties or
mention the first figure that comes to my mind.The honest truth is
that I’ve never been afraid of growing old because years ago I
realized and accepted the fact that everyone is born, lives, grows
old and dies.That’s how God almighty planned it to be for every
single one of us whether we like it or not.What I was afraid and
ashamed of was my singleness.

When I was younger I always retained a glimmer of hope that I


would one sweet day meet some gorgeous prince charming who
would sweep me off my feet, we would get married, have kids and
live happily ever after. As I advanced the big 4-0 I felt like some
door slammed in my face and all of my chances of wedlock were
lost.

I tried to think positively. God never promised me or anyone else


marriage. He promised himself. As a Christian I remember HIS
word that says “No good thing will he withhold from them that
walk uprightly.”To me that meant that if I live an upright and
pleasing life to God thus upholding my end of the bargain, God,
who never fails will never withhold any good thing from me with
or without a husband. Honestly I know that God has been more
than faithful to me. Looking at my life I count my blessings and
know that I’m divinely favored.

It will be ridiculous for me to say that there have been no men in


my life. As a single woman I’ve had my fair share of both
memorable, exciting and terror filled scary relationships.There There are many single ladies out there just like me. Some still seek
have even been many good men but I’ve never quite felt the marriage, others have practically given up.Whichever category you
chemistry that would propel me to march down the isle though fall under know that there is no closing age for marriage as long as
I’ve been close many times. Fortunately I’ve always had the its part of God’s perfect plan for you. Listen to this everyone;
common sense to know that I should never settle for less: single ladies are not cranky abnormal human species.We are totally
desperation should never make you a fool.Whoever these men complete and perfect. I do not have to have a husband to complete
were they were significant in their own unique way. me.There is no denying the fact that marriage and all that comes
Honestly, society is not helping the situation at all. Friends, family, with it is special, but when it doesn’t happen…then what?
colleagues and even respected elders and religious leaders feel that
we all definitely and absolutely need a husband.They feel that it’s My sisters, next time when asked why you’re not married jokingly
their responsibility to ensure we attain this status and because of reply, “I guess I was just lucky.” If they really honestly want to
that they continuously push and try to corner us into meeting all know, tell them, tell them…J

Real Relationships Magazine || 45


By Dr Stanley Okugbo
The story of Balaam has always intrigued me. Here was a Prophet of
God hired to curse the people of God! Firstly growing up as a Christian,
we were taught that God was inherently, innately and thoroughly good,
just and full of love. He was light, and the very epitome and essence of
all that was holy and righteous! How then can anyone who professes to
know Him and represent Him demonstrate any other characteristics
except that person is himself a charlatan or pretender or at best
deceived? It should be against the very nature and essence of God for
God to curse people just so a another set of people might be advantaged
by that curse.That would make God no longer the epitome of goodness!
It should therefore be unimaginable to expect God to curse His own
people, or that we could coax Him to do so.

Can we assume that God can become so familiar and so


condescending that we can coax Him or indeed use Him for our own
petty, personal, regional, ethnic, selfish agenda? Has God become a tool
in the hand of His prophet, much like a lion in the hand of its tamer, or a
dog in the hand of its trainer? If not? Then Balaam was extremely
impudent to indeed suggest that to God in prayer! What was the motive
of Balaam, but material gain that he was promised. Greed was his master
and intoxicated as he was with the idea of worldly gain, he literally
became mad. 2Pe 2:16(ISV) But he was rebuked for his offense. A
donkey that normally cannot talk spoke with a human voice and
restrained the prophet’s insanity.
46 || Real Relationships Magazine
Now our landscape seemed filled with these Heb 13:5(ISV) “Keep your lives free from the
characters, whose driving force is greed. Now love of money, and be content with what you have.”
Christians are going to God in prayer asking for
“favor” by which they mean that they should be It is pertinent to note that the Prophet went so
granted that their lies should pass for truth, that they many times in prayer as if God would change His
defraud the system and enrich themselves.They are mind about what He had said at first. Is this not like
in false witness and yet ask God to bless that many a Christian who goes back in prayer and self
endeavor with His presence.They set about to bear confident assertions to sway God into doing what is
false testimony and plead that God would let them inherently against His principles and explicitly
get away with it. Greed is their master, self universally known and accepted will. In these days
actualization their purpose. Imagine a man coming when God is treated like a Big Santa Claus and the
to God in prayer saying “Lord as I seek to go and Tooth Fairy, we approach Him with a lists of things

“We must seek the


master’s will and
become His ambassadors.
We must live for Him.”

rape this lady, grant me favor so I would succeed and we want or we want done. If He dares say no, or
not get caught” the whole land is full of religion and keeps quiet, we throw a tantrum by bombarding
there is scant Christians. If God hates fornication Him with our incessant, repetitious and irreverent
then He hates lying and any other vice! prayers till He concedes and grants us our selfish
desires which we have somewhat contrived to be
Jesus said in Luke 16:13(ISV) “No servant can according to what He promised us in scriptures.
serve two masters. For either he will hate one and
love the other, or be loyal to one and despise the Luke 9:54-56 “And when they saw this, James
other.You cannot serve God and riches!” and John His disciples said, “Lord, do You wish that
we should call down fire from heaven and consume
The word is Mammon the God of wealth them, as Elijah did?”
signifying greed.To serve money or riches is to be
controlled by it and that is greed. Paul said 1Ti But turning, He rebuked them, and said, ‘You do
6:10(ISV) “For the love of money is a root of all not know of what sort of spirit you are. For the
kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but
rich, have wandered away from the faith and pierced to save them.’ And they went to another village. “
themselves with much pain.”
CONTINUED ON PAGE 53

Real Relationships Magazine || 47


The book of Song of Solomon is one of the more considering pursuing an intentional dating relationship with.
fascinating books on dating, marriage, and relationships I’ve These insights will obviously have more relevance if you’re
ever read. For years, I had skipped past it as I read through single, however, each observation will also reflect qualities
the poetic sections of scripture because I thought I could you can improve in your life if you’re already married.
never understand all the Hebrew poetry and illusive imagery.
But then sometime early in 2009, I accidentally bumped into The story starts off in verse 1 with the girl speaking
a verse in the book that forced me to do an immediate 180- about the man in her life, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of
degree turn.The verse is in the fourth chapter of the book his mouth-- for your love is more delightful than wine.
where Solomon says to his bride, “Your two breasts are like Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like
two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! Take
lilies...” (v.5). me away with you--let us hurry! Let the king bring me into
his chambers.” The first guideline in finding THE ONE
I recall my first thought being, “Holy Cow! Who put that whom God has called you to spend the rest of your life with
in there? I need to read more!” Reading on, I found out a few is to....
verses earlier that Solomon had told his wife-to-be that her IDENTIFY WHAT
teeth were like a flock of sheep and her hair like a flock of
goats. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe the Bible had this YOU’RE ATTRACTED TO.
much fun material in it. By the way, until you understand the This point sounds so obvious right? I mean why in the
full context of those words spoken by Solomon, I highly world would you date someone you weren’t attracted to?
recommend that you never say that to the girl in your life. It Well, you’d be surprised. Far too many people have settled
might have worked for Solomon and his sweetheart in ancient for less than what they’re really attracted to, either because of
Hebrew culture, but it will get you scratched to death today! fear that they’re aging and might never meet the right person
or insecurities about their true worth. Eventually, they wake
With that said, let’s jump right into what I’ve learned up three years into their marriage and wonder whom it is
about finding “THE ONE.” Specifically, I’d like to walk us they married. I know there’s been a lot of talk in moral
through qualities you should look for in someone you’re circles about being attracted to only what’s on the inside, and

48 || Real Relationships Magazine


I’ll elaborate more on that in a little bit. But here’s the way I Godly character is important. In fact it is everything.
see it, if you are going to spend every day of the rest of your Here is something to consider, if your entire relationship is
life waking up next to someone, it will make things a lot based purely on physical attraction, then your relationship
easier if you’re actually attracted to them. I’m just being with only last as long as you think the other person looks
honest because I don’t want to over-spiritualize our good. And trust me, that doesn’t last very long. In fact, that
relationships.The fact is, physical attraction is both kind of relationship will only last till the morning after your
permissible and desirable in a relationship, so don’t dismiss honeymoon when you both wake up and see each other for
people when they express a desire to be with someone they the first time without makeup and without a shower!
perceive as good looking.
Attraction is however only the first layer of a healthy
Having said that, it’s also important to note that the relationship, there’ also the issue of how the other person
attraction between Solomon and this girl wasn’t purely responds to authority figures in their lives. So,when
physical, there’s plenty of reason to believe her attraction to considering or trying to find the person you’ll spend the rest
him was much deeper. Looking at verse 2, you’ll see that she of your life with, it’s important to know that THEY ARE
was also attracted to him on an EMOTIONAL LEVEL.Verse OBEDIENT TO THE AUTHORITY FIGURES IN THEIR
2,“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-- for your LIVES.
love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of
your perfumes.” I love the raw honesty this girl expresses in verse 5, she
says, “I am dark but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, dark
She had so much joy and so much fun just being in his like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon. Do
presence that she compares the experience to getting drunk not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by
from drinking the finest wine or smelling the fanciest and the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me
most expensive perfumes. In other words, she was attracted take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have
to him because he had a pleasant personality.This isn’t saying neglected.” In comparing herself to the tents of Kedar and the
you have to enter into a relationship with only people with curtains of Solomon, this young girl is revealing to us some
charming personalities, it’s simply saying you should be in a insecurities she had about her physical looks.The Kedar were
relationship with someone whose personality agrees with an Arabian nomadic tribe and their tents were made from
yours and with whom you have a mutual enjoyable time with. black goat hair, and Solomon’s palace curtains had a deep
Make sense? purple shade. So she’s in essence saying she has had terrible
sunburn and her skin was beginning to turn to a darkish
There is however one more level of attraction highlighted perhaps reddish complexion.
here, and that has to do with one’s relationship with God.
Authors, Segun & Dupe Aiyegbusi
As a Nigerian
Look for someone whom you’re not American, sunburns are the
only attracted to physically and least of my concerns when
it’s hot and sunny outside,
emotionally, but also SPIRITUALLY. however my current
Look at what else attracted this girl to Solomon. Midway ministry duties puts me
through verse 3 she says, “…your name is like perfume among Caucasians and I’ve
poured out. No wonder the maidens love you!”When she observed that for many,
makes reference to his name being like “sweet perfume”, that getting a really bad sun tan
is a reference to Solomon’s virtuous character which all is as terrifying as catching
flowed from his relationship with God. Her attraction to him the Ebola virus. So on that
was rooted in that fact that he was a godly man with a godly note, I can sympathize with
reputation, so much so that she concludes that all the single Mrs. Solomon.The women
ladies in town think he’s a phenomenal catch. So here’s a in her day prized the
quick practical application, if you are dating someone right fairness of their skin
now, can you brag openly about his or her integrity or because it meant they were
godliness? Or do you continually have to make excuses for
their shortcomings? Contintued on page 55

Real Relationships Magazine || 49


50 || Real Relationships Magazine
CONTINUED FROM P. 26 (WHERE IS SALLY?)
confronted with two realities.The first one was in the church and the church.
the second was when she started looking for a job in the hope of John was sitting in his garden when Sally’s presence was
landing herself oneth the qualifications she had in Ghana. announced by one of the immigrants working for him; the
In the church, she soon realised that the sermons of ‘love’ and immigrant ushered Sally to him and left.
‘giving’ were just words that were meaningless in terms of “Ah, Sally! I thought I would never see you again, you no
practicability; she felt everybody in the church was just another longer come to the church.”
vulture hanging out there waiting to feast on the misfortune of the “I do attend the church still.”
other person and make mockery of one’s devotion. Before she “Then you must be attending in the spirit because I have not
knew it, the church for her became a place she went to socialize. seen you in church for three months now. Sit down while they get
She found out also that the secular world was a bigger you something to drink.The Lord is good all the time.”
vulture when she could not get the particular job she was trained “I have not come to drink.”
for since all the places she applied to and called on phone would “Oh?”
ask her before they would start discussing any job prospect with “I am still jobless.”
her if she had ‘permission to work’ in the United Kingdom’. In “I thought you had got a job that is why you stopped coming
other to survive and continue to pay her debts, she had to settle for to the church.”
a cleaning job. “It is an off-and-on job.”
The weather was very hot initially that afternoon; it was “The Lord is faithful.”
eventually accompanied by a breezy wind that afternoon as she “I know you can help me with a job.” Sally pleaded.
came out from the church after staying there for some time to “You know I want to help, but my hands are tied.
clear her head. She walked down from the steps to the park in “I know of the many people who work for you without the
front of her. She sat down on one of the iron chairs and her mind proper documents, why is my case different?”
was soon removed from the worries of the moment as she “You got it wrong, Sally.You got it wrong; some of them had
concentrated on the people who were either spread on the had to pay some prices.”
beautiful lawn or seated enjoying the gift of summer. “Is this what God is all about?” Sally said almost in tears.
Unknown to her somebody had followed her out of the “Sally, dear, it is high time you understood that life is real.”
church and had walked behind her.The person had stopped “What about all the precepts of the holy book?”
following her when Sally stopped to sit down.The name of the “We are talking about reality here, my dear.”
person was Sam. Sam was a South African immigrant to the United “You have to sleep with me before you can help me with a job,
Kingdom. and to think both of us hold dear to one faith!”
Like Sally, he too had come to find solace in just being alone in “I wish I could help you, Sally.”
the church when he could not contend with the hypocrisy there. “I need a job badly.”
He had stopped soliciting for whatever help he thought he could “Be satisfied with the little you have and wait upon the lord,
get the church when every time he tried to present his problems to my dear.”
any of the members, their response was always; “Please!” Sally pleaded.
‘Hang on there, God is on your case and in no time your “I do not want to offend the government.”
miracles will come forth.’ “And see me die?”
He had waited long enough for the miracles and when it “Sorry.” John said.
seemed the miracles would never come, he too decided to follow Sally had returned home and went straight to the bathroom.
the path of many immigrants and settled for a cleaning job while he She came out, looked for a light satin gown and put it on. She went
would not stop hoping and praying that the job agency he to the mirror and stood in front of it for a long time examining her
registered with would give him a call for a temporary job. body. She thought about the past, tried to cast her mind into the
For some time now he had been attending the same future and settled on the present; she walked to the only table in
church with Sally and he did not need anybody to tell him that she the room, brought out a paper and pen and wrote on it these
was yet another African immigrant who had migrated to this words; ‘Sally is gone!’ J
country with high hopes only to find out that the days of manna
from heaven was long gone.
He had stood some distance away from her and studied her. CONTINUED FROM P. 34
He told himself she was beautiful, desirable, but was not sure if she
wanted a relationship, especially with somebody like himself.
Nevertheless, he plucked some courage from nowhere and walked
(MARRIAGE VOWS)
up to her. Marriage should be built upon a vow of faithfulness to one’s
“The sun is shining, the weather is sweet and I have some ice-
cream for you.” He said with a smile on his face. beloved. A faithful marriage/faithfulness in marriage or faithfulness
Sally looked up at him and said nothing. to marriage vow is used as the paradigm for the kind of
“I worship at the same church as you,” Sam said. “I bought the relationship God has with His people.Those who are not faithful to
ice-cream for you.” He said and sat down beside her. God are like adulterers. Faithfulness is essential to creating a
Sally had accepted the Ice-cream from him and for the first
time she laughed at every word he said and they were laughter relationship of trust which is the bedrock of all other goods that
from the depth of her heart. comes from marriage union.
After they had been together for some time, Sam
persuaded her to marry him as they loved each other and could The marriage vow is a vehicle through which commitment to
help one another.They moved into his one room apartment. For a
while they both lived tried to survive against the many odds that one another is expressed. Everyone concerned, need to accept the
stood in their way. solution, and the grace to live up to the marriage vows. One of the
She couldn’t shake off reality though, she knew the real truth truth that I have discovered is the desiring a life of honor.What is a
that love was wonderful, but it was not everything enough to pay
the bills life of honor? It is a life decked and decorated with God all over it,
and offset the thirteen thousand cedis she borrowed to come you become God’s canvas where He is free to write or draw on. It
to the United Kingdom. is a life of promise that speaks and blesses other. It is a life that is
While Sam was still at work, she dressed up and went to not satisfied with the pit. It is a meaningful life. It is a life out of
meet one of the elders in the church who had promised to find her
a job. the sea of mediocrity, a life of purpose driven by God. It is an
The elder, John, was in his late thirties, he had been made an influential life. It is a life of honor. Proverbs 15: 33 - ’The reverent
elder in the church not because of his age or experience, but for and worshipful fear of the Lord brings instruction in Wisdom, and
the simple fact that he had money and had donated enough of it to Humility comes before honor.’’ J

Real Relationships Magazine || 51


CONTINUED FROM P. 38 (STRADDLING)
Tennard frowned.The other boy, Ryan, grinned and said he book in her hands, “PSAT prep for Math”
had no idea what Cesar was talking about. He said it so ‘Wow, already on the march.’ He thought. He took a seat
calmly and everyone always believed him because he always and waited upon Ms Tennard. He noticed that Ryan hadn’t
acted like a decent fellow.The teachers all liked him as well shown up yet. 10 mins to 3 o’clock. Ryan showed up. He
as other students.The real truth was he was a cheat and a liar. went over by where Rj was sitting and sat down.Then Cesar
His motto was ‘By any means necessary.’The only thing his observed him do the strangest thing, he watched as Ryan
family respected was success. Sure, he knew about doing the provoked Rj without Rj realizing what he was doing.
right thing but more important, wasn’t being successful more Suddenly there was a loud sound, Rj’s ipod had dropped to
important than doing the right thing? the ground and fortunately he had a hard case for it. But Rj’s
Everywhere you heard, success being lauded, prosperity ire had been stirred up. He pushed Ryan in the chest. No
being sought by all, like a brass ring they were all struggling violent body contact was allowed in the school and Cesar
to grasp. knew without a doubt what was going to happen to Rj.Why
Last year, when he had been in Middle school, the had Ryan done this, he wondered?
teachers had helped them doctor their tests so that the school He didn’t have to wonder for too long. Ms Tennard called
could meet its Annual Yearly Progress goals and get money one of the dean’s to take Rj away where he was meted out a 2
from the Federal government for meeting or ( in the day suspension notice. He was to come to school but go to
school’s case) exceeding the standards that were set. Hey, he the school’s In School Suspension room, otherwise known as
was just taking a cue from the people who taught them and the ISS boot camp. It was run by Mr D and he ran it like a
set the examples for them. boot camp indeed. Ms Tennard was all worked up about Rj’s
Ms Tennard struggled to decide what to do. She took behavior that she forgot why she had asked Ryan and Cesar to
both answer booklets from both boys and asked them to see come and sent them home.
her after school. So that was how Cesar ended up with a 74% on his Mock
Cesar groaned. He would be late in picking up his little Test and Ryan had a 100%. It would be the equivalent of 3
brother from school and his mother would be mad. She test grades on their final grade.
didn’t understand what went on at High School in America, When their progress reports went home and his mom
all of the complexities. It was all too confusing for her. saw that low grade in the midst of all of the 100’s and over
Cesar listened to Rap music sometimes, especially Christian 100’s, she was surprised. She grilled him over and over.
Rap and his mother always frowned. Finally he told her what had happened. Perplexed his mother
‘So much noise, what are they saying?’ she always wondered why his teacher hadn’t listen to his explanation and
muttered in their native tongue. How could he explain to his punished the boy.
mother the lure of the beat and the rhyme that the rappers “Secondary school is very
spouted off? different here mother.” His mother didn’t understand
At the end of the school day, he went to Ms Tennard’s about being popular or cool.
room. In there were some kids who had detention, some who What it felt like to eat alone in the cafeteria.The way
came to Ms Tennard for extra help after schoo.. Rj was in some boys bullied him for answers for homework and why he
detention and looked really surly about it.That girl who liked the machisimo in rap. He wished he were a stronger
always had the answers in class and had perfect guy to stand up to those boys and tell them to take a hike.
attendance…what was her name…the pretty black Cynthia understood how he felt. ‘How do I get my
girl….Cyn….Cynthia, that was it. She had such a beautiful parents to understand how lonely it is for me and how they
smile and always dressed so nicely. He blushed.Was it wrong make it more difficult for me by not being supportive but
to think things like this? She was there asking Ms Tennard critizing me all of the time.?’
some questions. He passed a glance at the title of the huge She sighed, ‘It was hard to be a teenager these days.” J

CONTINUED FROM P. 40 5. Personality of the visiting parent


This is a major part of the dynamic of the visiting parent
(WHEN YOUR PARENTS VISIT) in many African homes in Diaspora. An aggressive parent
would not hesitate to share his/her feeling and depending on
Things can get weird and ugly quickly when a mother-in- how it is said or received, “third world war” could break out.
law with little or no respect for her son-in-law or daughter- Passive-aggressive parents are interesting as well, as they’ll
in-law is visiting to help with a new child.The daughter or keep quiet but refuse to eat and make you feel guilty for
son is left to navigate the mine between her mother and bringing them abroad and making them “suffer”. Passive
husband and in some cases the son between his wife and parents are expert in smiling and laughing but when offended
mother. they drop “atomic words” capable of causing long term
damage.
Some of the issues discussed earlier could also be the
source of disagreement between a visiting parent and the Living in peace and harmony
child or in-law. with visiting parent

52 || Real Relationships Magazine


We have a rich and blessed culture in Africa, and like any unpleasant thing to share with a visiting parent, the child of
other cultures of the world some part of our culture negate that parent need to do the talking (except in cases where the
Biblical principles (especially if we profess Christianity), and in-law relationship is superb). For instance, if the visiting
we have to make a clear choice what to do when faced with parent is getting in your way with child discipline and you
such conflict between the culture we were raised in and both don’t want it, then both of you need to agree and the
Biblical principles that we chose to believe. child of that parent should call the parent and respectfully tell
him or her not to undermine their instructions in front of the
The Bible clearly points to the fact that a man (include kids, that his/her advice is appreciated but it should be given
woman: Ish-Shah) shall leave his father and mother and be to you and he/she should not change your instructions
cleave to his wife and they shall become one, the loyalty of a already given to the children. If a parent refuses and
husband automatically switch to his immediate family (wife continues, then that parent does not want to come back or
and children) the day he gets married and the parents and he/she is ready to leave your home.
siblings become secondary.The advice of parents becomes
that “an advice” and decisions should be made with the wife’s As soon as the visiting parent arrive in your home, it is
opinion weighing more than what your parent desire. African important to take him/her around the house and make
women in Diaspora also need to know that your mom is not him/her feel at home, it is important to let them know
more important than your husband or his mom in your where they can and cannot go (I’ve had to talk to a guy about
home. his father’s habit of using the master bathroom/toilet, and
not the guest bathroom/toilet).The woman of the house
Clear boundary of respect should be drawn so that our should specifically invite her mother-in-law into her kitchen
spouses do not disrespect our parent even as we protect such and tell her to feel free (if that is what you want). Also, never
spouse from our parent or the prevalent culture. It is let your visiting parent ask for money, make it a habit of
important to explain to your parent before they visit what giving them allowance either weekly or monthly as you can
the dynamic of your home is, so that they do not have afford it (they’ll want to give money in church, buy things for
unrealistic expectations during the visit. In my case I spoke their grandchildren or just have money in their possession),
with my mom about my wife and spoke with my wife about be firm on what you and your wife or husband can afford and
my mom, they are both alike (both first born aggressive avoid situations where the two of you butt heads because of
female) and it wasn’t until the visits that what I said to both demands from a visiting parent.
of them made sense to either of them. After a couple of
visits, I had to set a rule to save me from going nuts. I refused Visiting parents are often in dilemma when the marriage
to talk to my mom about the negatives of my wife and also of their son or daughter is going through a tough patch when
refused to talk about the negatives of my mom (it was tough they are visiting, it would be a disaster if as a parent you take
accepting that my mom had negatives – she is my spiritual side with your daughter or son, my suggestion is to remain
superhero) with my wife, except the three of us were neutral as much as you can and encourage them to get help
present. with their pastor, professionals, and if they are not, solicit the
help of their best friend to get them the help needed.
While explaining the dynamics of your lifestyle in
America, Canada, Australia or Europe, they might not As I conclude this article, it is important that I mention
understand (especially before the first visit), but do it anyway, again that the relationship of the husband and wife should
it will be beneficial for them and yourself later on. super-cede that of son and mother (as tough as that can be),
Staying alone at home with children without adult the relationship of the nuclear family should super-cede the
conversation all day could be a big challenge for someone relationship with siblings, so when there is problem, there is
who is used to being the mother or elder of everyone in the a principle to work on. At the same time disrespect from
neighborhood, or being the deacon or deaconess in church your spouse to your parent is also a NO NO (you can define
with responsibilities, my suggestion would be to look for an disrespect between each other).
African based church where the visiting parent can interact in
her/his local language and his/her experience or expertise In fifteen years of marriage, I have learnt a valuable
put into use.The best time my mom has had in the US was lesson, when Ola and I were both looking out for each
when she helped coordinate the women and prayer group in other’s interest there was resentment on both sides (and lots
the branch of her church in the state we lived then, they in- of fights) but when the focus shifted, we have become the
turn gave her a plague that she still cherishes (her pastor in best advocate of each other’s family.
Nigeria actually presented the plague to her formally on her
return in front of the congregation). May God help us all as we navigate
through this uncultivated new ground. J
Communication they say is the key but the how of
communication is also very important, when there is an

Real Relationships Magazine || 53


CONTINUED FROM P. 42 (LOVE IN THE MIDST OF HATE)
Forgiveness is the miracle of a new beginning. It is to memory.You think of him/ her now not as the person who
start where we are, not where we wish we were, or the other hurt you, but as the person who needs you.You feel him now
person was. It is to hold out a hand; allow a fairness to start not as the person who alienated you, but as the person who
over; to want to renew a friendship; to want a new belongs to you. Once you branded him as a person powerful
relationship with husband, father, daughter, friend, or in this in evil, but now you see him as a person weak in his needs.
case a foe. It usually does not take away the hurt or deny the You created your past by recreating the person whose wrong
past injury. It does not ignore the possibility and need for made your past painful.
repentance and a change in the relationship. Neither does it
means being willing to take the initiative in dealing with any You may question this, "Isn't that ignoring the past? What
barriers that may be raising towards a restored relationship. It about justice?" The issue of justice faces us with the cost of
means that I am willing to have a relationship with the other forgiveness. Paul says, "Forgive anyone who does you wrong,
party that is based on Christian love and not on what has just as Christ has forgiven you" (Colossians 3:13). Our
happened in the past, if the response of the other person forgiveness of others is to be of a similar nature to Christ's
makes that possible. Forgiveness is not forgetting, it is not forgiveness of us.What did it cost Christ to forgive us? It cost
avoidance, neither is it excusing. him his life. God is not only perfect in love. He is also perfect
in justice.There is justice at the heart of this universe.That
Forgiveness offers a way out; it breaks the cycle of blame means that if we are to be forgiven, someone has to accept
and loosens the stranglehold of guilt. It does not settle all the consequences for our wrongdoing. In a manner that
questions of blame and fairness, often it pointedly evades surpasses all human understanding, Jesus Christ accepted that
those question. Imagine a world of no forgiveness. Imagine responsibility.
what would happen if no one person ever forgave. Imagine if
every nation, race and tribe through history never forgave as Forgiveness through love is a long and treacherous
we are on the verge of now.The Jewish philosopher once said journey. Making sense the response of the people of Dogo Na
the only remedy for the inevitability of history is forgiveness; Hawa.Today you can forgive and tomorrow you can feel the
otherwise, we remain trapped in the “predicament of pain all over again. It is this that is the miracle of forgiveness.
irreversibility”. We must recognize that God has forgiven us, and given us the
ability to forgive. Nothing we do can make God love us more
Magnanimous forgiveness allows the process of and nothing we do can make him love us less. It should be the
transformation in the guilty party. Described as Spiritual same with our fellow human beings. Forgiveness is about
Surgery it goes thus: grace; unworldly, transforming and supernatural

When you forgive someone you slice around the wrong We have all been hurt.We have all been betrayed.We
from the person who did it.You disengage that person from have all cried tears disappointment. Now it’s time to forgive.
his hurtful act.You recreate him. At one moment you identify And when we do genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free
him ineradicably as the person who did you wrong.The next and then discover that the person we set free was us. J
moment you change that identity. He is remade in your

CONTINUED FROM P. 47 (THE ERROR OF BALAAM)

We must have the heart of the master, we must live according to His principles, we must grow up to Him and become like
Him in thought, at heart. In our relationships with men, we must seek the master’s will and become His ambassadors.We must
live for Him. Any other way is babyhood prolonged. Much as we like babies and huggable and cuddly as they appear, nobody
likes a 10year old baby. A 5year old baby is an anomaly.

Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore, leaving behind the elementary teachings about Christ, let us continue to be carried along to
maturity……… Hebrews 6:7-8 “For when the ground soaks up rain that often falls on it and continues producing vegetation
useful to those for whom it is cultivated, it receives a blessing from God. However, if it continues to produce thorns and
thistles, it is worthless and in danger of being cursed, and in the end will be burned.” J

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CONTINUED FROM P. 49 (GREAT DATES, BAD MATES & SOULMATES)
indoor girls who had been sheltered and pampered. It meant YOU’VE SET FOR YOUR LIFE.
they were rich. Unfortunately, the female lead character in
our story has not had those luxuries and she’s a little insecure In verse 7, she makes a reference to her unwillingness to
about it. She actually explains why her skin had become so be like a veiled woman among Solomon’s friends. During this
dark in verse 6, she says “...my mother’s sons were angry period, a veiled woman who appeared in the fields at midday
with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own was undoubtedly a prostitute. So go back and read verse 7
vineyard (my own skin) I have neglected.” again and you’ll have a better idea of what this girl is saying.
She’s basically telling Solomon, “Let’s be upfront in the public
What I want to focus in on here is how she responded to about our relationship.We have nothing to hide, and besides I
the authority figures in her life, (a.k.a: “her am not going to sneak around as if I’m a prostitute because I
brothers…mother’s sons”). Consider what her options were don’t want to give people the wrong impression.” Make sure
when she was asked by her brothers to work on the vineyards that whomever you choose to date is respectful of your
outdoors. She could have argued that Solomon was coming to boundaries in the relationship, and hopefully have wise
take her out on a date and she needed to get her ready. She boundaries of their own. Solomon not only honored this
did none of that, but instead went obediently to do the work special girl in his life by not sneaking around with her, but he
required of her. So here’s an immediate application from that went out of his way to protect her integrity. He says in verse
account.When looking to chose someone to date 8, “If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the
intentionally, look for someone who not only is hard tracks of the sheep and graze your young goats by the tents of
working, but someone who is obedient to the authority the shepherds.” In other words, he’s saying “I don’t want your
figures in their lives. As yourself, “how do they respond to the friends or mine to view you with disdain (as they would a
law? Their teachers? Their pastors? The elderly? Their parents? prostitute), so meet up with me in broad day light and let’s
Consider this, a person who refuses to submit or even be completely open about our relationship” Ladies, that’s the
respect the authority figures in their lives is inevitably going kind of guy you want to spend the rest of your life with, and
to refuse to submit to the God-given roles required within guys, that’s the kind of girl you want to pursue.
marriage.
I believe this is the area where a lot of couples who end
When looking for someone whom you’ll commit to up in painful marriages foul up.While dating, one partner
spend the rest of your life with, look for someone who is continually pushes the sexual boundaries of the relationship
obedient first and foremost to God’s leading, God’s word, or is consistently disrespectful to the other, but instead of
and the authorities God has placed in their life. If you are treating their behavior as a warning sign, they rationalize that
married or already in a relationship that is heading to the things will change once they get married. If you are single,
altar, how are those roles going in your relationship? please hear me on this, whatever you are as singles will only
Husbands (or husbands to be) are you loving your wives like be magnified when you enter into marriage.Your problems
Christ said to love her? Providing for her, protecting her, don’t gloriously get raptured on your wedding day; I don’t
sacrificing for her when the need arises? Wives (or wives to care how angelic or beautiful you both look! Apart from the
be), are you being respectful to the man God has placed in saving grace of Jesus Christ that transforms and conforms us
your life? Supporting him, encouraging him, and trusting that into his image, immoral pre-marriage behaviors are an
God has called him to be the leader in your relationship? indication of post marriage disasters. In case you’re thinking
These roles don’t end when you get married, they simply to yourself, “we’re just dating now for fun, I don’t really plan
come to the forefront. on getting married to them, so no worries” then consider
these words from author and bible teacher Tommy Nelson[1];
The story goes on in verse 7, she says “…tell me, you he says, “are you aware that if you date the type of person you
whom I love, where you graze your flock and where you rest wouldn’t marry, you are creating your own reputation so that
your sheep at midday.Why should I be like a veiled woman the type of person you would marry may not even give you a
beside the flocks of your friends?” Here we have another second look?” Instead of elaborating, I suggest you take a few
helpful insight to guide you as you seek out the man or moments to reread that quote and ponder over it tonight.
woman you’ll spend the rest of your life with.You know you
are ready, and they are “the one” when YOU ARE You are on the right path to finding “the one” when there
UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE ON BIBLICAL VALUES is a mutual attraction between you on all three levels,

Real Relationships Magazine || 55


(physically, emotionally spiritually).Your relationship is “if time apart doesn’t draw you closer together, then
looking even better if you both already display a humble marriage won’t”
obedience to the authority figure in your lives. And three,
you are being prepped for marriage that will last a life time if I know it seems like I’m sounding a lot of alarms about
you are unwilling to compromise on biblical values you’ve getting out of fickle relationships.Well I am, and that’s
already set for your life. because I want to help you catch the problems early before
they even start.
Here’s the fourth insight from this story, you are well on Remember, some of the loneliest people in the world
your way to building a solid marriage foundation if you are aren’t singles, they are married people who are in unhealthy
experiencing A GROWING FEELING OF ENDEARMENT life-sucking marriages…and it didn’t happen overnight.
IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP.What I mean by “endearment” is
that you like each other more today than you did yesterday. Along with a growing sense of endearment in your
Look at the interaction between this couple from verse 9 to relationship, there should also be a growing ease in
the first two verses of chapter 2. Solomon says “darling, I communication. From verse 12 to 17, Solomon and his fiancé
liken you to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of are at a banquet hall, lots of people are present eating and
Pharaoh.Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck talking, but yet they only have eyes for each other.Without
with strings of jewels. 11 We will make you earrings of gold, using words, they are communicating with each other across
studded with silver.”When Solomon makes reference to his the room with just their looks. She says in verse 12,
girl looking like a mare (a female horse), he’s referencing “…While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its
Egyptian horses and their use in the fields.The presence of a fragrance. My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting
female horse would often whip the male horses into a frenzy between my breasts.” If you’re single, I’m going to give you a
of excitement and get them more active. Solomon took that very practical dating skill.This one will help you build a good
same imagery to speak to his wife, but with a positive spin on foundation for your marriage. If you want to win over the
it. He was telling her that he was growing madly in love with girl or guy you want to spend the rest of your life with,
her, couldn’t stop thinking about her, and was elated every develop and improve on your communication skills - it’s a
time she was around. gold mine in marriage. In 2008, a national survey[2] of
marital strengths was done on over 50,000 couples to
This is where the “TIME & SEASONS” factor comes in. identify trends in happy marriages that have survived. On
When you have been in a dating relationship with someone that top ten list were things like couple closeness, flexibility,
for a significant amount of time, you have to start asking personality compatibility, and financial management, but
yourself, “what kinds of feelings and thoughts run through my guess what life skill was most predictive of couples that
mind when we’re apart from each other?” Do you feel a remained happily married? COMMUNICATION.They
growing sense of anticipation, comfort, longing? Often times, summarize one of the points this way, “an important outcome
those feelings will overflow into playful pet names you call of having a relationship characterized by healthy
each other. One of my favorite pet names for my wife is communication is EMOTIONAL SAFETY.When an
“sweetie” or “babe”.Though it naturally rolls off my tongue, I individual feels good about her communication, feels
continually call her that to remind her that I’m still deeply in understood, can express her true feelings and knows she will
love with and attracted to her. I also sometimes do a little be heard and not criticized… intimacy and connection
dance for her and call her “iyawo mi a ta ta”, for you non- become natural by-products of their freedom to be authentic
Nigerians, that means “my dearest wife.” I’ll even accompany with one another.”
it with a little dance and she responds by doing a dance back. Guys, this is an area we need work on because most
You should see us, we look like two drunken toddlers in our women are excellent communicators and are pretty good at
living room when we do it, God help our kids! determining if you’re pretending to listen or truly listening.
They have supers powers that allow them to discern if you’re
There should be a growing sense of endearment over wholeheartedly in the conversation, responding, and asking
time in your relationship, if there isn’t, then consider this the right kinds of questions. My wife will often ask me a
statement from the author/teacher I quoted earlier, “if you question twice because she’s discovered that my first response
do not feel protective, comforting, or loving towards the is usually impulsive and I didn’t really hear the question. I
person you are dating, or do not find yourself feeling guess my responses have too many times sounded like this to
affection to the point that it overflows into your vocabulary, her, “…yeah sure babe, you can buy a gold platted jet if it’s
reconsider your relationship!” Another way to put it is to say on sale....wait a minute, what?”

56 || Real Relationships Magazine


and loving the Lord Jesus Christ.When you do that, you
Here is something else to know, great communication is a might be surprised to find that THE ONE whom God has
great way to build intimacy in a marriage.You would think called you to spend the rest of your life with might be closer
it’s all about the passion and sex right? In reality, some of the than you think.
most intimate moments I’ve shared with my wife have been
those afternoons when I’ve gone home to have lunch with her When I was single, one of the best advice I received
or those evenings when we’ve sat on the couch and talked about finding a wife was from one of my mentors, Brad
meaningfully for hours. Wagner. He was (is) also a follower of Jesus Christ, and has
been happily married for almost 30 years. Incidentally
Solomon had learnt to communicate with this special enough, it turns out he was quoting Tommy Nelson in one of
lady in his life. He had learnt to ask the right questions and to his messages. He said to me, “Run as fast as you can towards
respond to the needs in her life, and she in turn felt safe and Jesus Christ, commit yourself to him, stay devoted to him in
loved because he was paying attention to her. In fact, by the bad times and good times, be totally sold out to him all the
time we get to the first verse of chapter 2, her self esteem days of your life.Then as you run, look to your left and to
has risen and she has more self confidence. Remember earlier your right, see who’s running at the same speed, smile at
when she was a little insecure because of her severe sunburn? them and say hello. If they stay up with you, after a while
Well in chapter 2:1, she says, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of invite them over to join you in the run, or go over and join
the valleys.” Isn’t that something? That’s what his love for her them in their pursuit of Jesus Christ. Keep running together,
has done to her. She’s beginning to see herself as one who is until you are one beat and one rhythm, at that point – you
loved, and valued by the man in her life, and that makes all can then both agree to run together all the days of your life”
the difference in the world.
And that’s how you build a happy marriage that survives.
Before you pick a mate, make sure there is a mutual
attraction between both of you on all three levels (physically, BIO ::
emotionally spiritually). Make sure there is a humble Segun Aiyegbusi is an ordained reverend and founder of
obedience to the authorities God has placed around you (and BETWEEN2WORLDS, an online bible-teaching ministry for
their lives).Whatever you do, be certain that you don’t Nigerians and Nigerians Americans. (www.between2worlds.org). He
compromise on biblical values. Before the discussion of a ring holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary in
ever comes up, ensure that there is a growing feeling of NewYork and has a passion for preaching and teaching in-depth
endearment between both of you and a growing ease in your Biblical truths. Segun and his wife Modupe reside in New Jersey and
communication. Most importantly, make sure both you and enjoy mentoring young couples and single adults in their twenties. J
the person you are attracted to are continually walking with

ISSUES OF THE HEART (continued from page 10)


What should I do when the man I want to marry What are the criteria for a pure relationship
is not accepted by my family? between a man and a woman before God?

You should pray and seek audience with them to find out why. Many I believe you are asking this question because you have a desire to
times it may be that they have a wrong perception of the person or please God and to glorify Him in your relationship.The Bible is our
there may be some unknown scores needing to be settled, you never guide. Every other book informs, only the Bible transforms.The
know. Much as you and I know, prayer, changes things. Only God can criteria for a pure relationship between a man and a woman before
turn situations around in our favour and give us the last laugh. I God are the fear of God and reverence for the things He values.There
have seen many marriages come through despite the initial are a thousand and one things we would not do if the fear of God
oppositions from family members.The God who did it for those rules our hearts.The world would be a better place if the fear of God
couples is still on His throne and will not pass you by if you put your resides in every heart and home.The fear of God will keep you from
trust in Him.What is important here is to have Him, (God) on your defrauding your spouse, it will guard your heart against the vices in
side and the rest will be history. So, both of you should join force the society, it would keep you from evil, and it will put your feet
together as you look up to God to give you a breakthrough and He indelibly in the sands of time, the fear of God protects and rewards.
sure will.The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers Proverbs 13:13 ‘Whoever despises the word and counsel (of God)
of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will’. (Prov.21:1). brings destruction upon himself, but he who (reverently) fears and
respects the commandment (of God) is rewarded.
Real Relationships Magazine || 57
I recently ran into an old family friend after a very long time. this.With God’s Holy Spirit, you cannot be wrong but the arm of flesh will fail
He proposed to me after one month we met but am so you. If God has a hand in this, time will reveal it and the guy too would perceive it
confused because he told me that the last six months he has and before you know it, things are taking shape for the best and a bright and
proposed to three other girls. He also wants to get married in beautiful future awaits you.
the next five months. He seems very nice, loving and caring.
Please what should I do? If he is married, no ma, you cannot tell him how you feel about him.Why should
you?You should read between the lines now, such feelings are lustful; a married man
Please do not rush into marrying him, give this relationship good time to grow. for that matter and you just testified that he has a lovely family.Why would you
Sincerely, five months would be too short a time.Time reveals, trust me on that. It want to ruin such a lovely home? If it was your home, would you be happy for
might be that he has now found true love in you but you must wait to confirm anyone to ruin it? No, you won’t.
that.Wait in prayers, wait to discover more of his person, the man you are getting
hooked to, wait to find your place in his heart and life, wait on God please.A little My advice would be to flee.Those feelings you have must not be fed, starve them to
wait will go a long way to saving you from a life-time of sorrow and regrets. It death and save your life. God still gives lovely and godly husbands to those who
would also pay off when you discover the real substance of your relationship.While ask, ask God for your own and you would be glad you did. I beg of you, don’t be
you are waiting, you can get to know the reason(s) for those early proposals and instrumental to breaking a lovely Christian home, you are worth more than a
why they failed.Wait my dear, so you will not carry the weight that would weigh destroyer, God has a plan for your life, key into it.
you down for the rest of your life.

I’ve been in a couple of relationships and each time I think it


I have been dating this guy for four months now. Recently, I will lead to marriage, the guys ask and persist for sex. I refuse
discovered that I might have problems with bearing children each time because I know sex outside marriage is not right
in future so I confided in him and he was very supportive; and am confused, am I doing the right thing by breaking up
after sometime, he started keeping a distance, no calls or with them because of this?
messages and I am so confused.What do I do?

I salute your courage my dear.You were truthful, well done. No regret whatsoever no You are right my dear.Any man who ask you for sex as the basis for which he would
worries either, but wait a minute, how did you know you may have problems in marry you do not value your person. If he truly loves you, he will wait for you. I
future bearing children? Is this an assumption or specialist report? Did something hope you’d read about my response to the question on sex before marriage in this
happen to you to suggest that? Whatever your answers to these questions are, it is edition. Now, that answer I gave is true for all times.Your priorities and values are
important for you to seek audience with your fianc?, be sure to know what his stand in place that is why you have refused to be defiled, when the man who knows the
is rather than assuming that he is keeping a distance. Do so in order to rule out true worth of a chaste lady comes your way, you’d be glad you did not succumb to
any suspicion on your part. If the ‘cold shoulder’ is as a result of your condition, the lustful desires of those men who have let the fear of God out of the window of
give yourself peace. their hearts to their own detriment. Like one of the seven thousands who refused to
defile themselves in the days of Elijah, keep your focus my dear, God honours those
You cannot force yourself on him. If he truly loves you, sincerely, this should not who honour Him, He will not let you down. He said in 1Sam 2:30 ‘... for them
pose a barrier.You can both plan and agree on what to do, various godly options that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed’.
abound. Even couples who have their own biological children still go ahead to God forbid that you be lightly esteemed.The fact that many people are doing it
adopt children these days, is being sure of what God intends for you to do that does not make it right, God reserves honour for those who honour Him, keep this
matters. I have heard testimonies of women who without wombs, still became truth in focus and you will never regret it.
mothers. It is no secret, what God can do and nothing is new under the sun,
nothing. Luke 18:27 says ‘... the things which are impossible with men are possible
with God’. I’ve been going out with this guy who is eleven years older
Give yourself a break and stop lamenting your condition, there is nothing than I am. He has asked me to marry him but I feel the age
impossible for God to do.Trust Him to turn your mess into a message and your test difference is too much so I’ve been dragging my feet. Please
to a testimony. Let God be God in your life! help!!!

Someone once said and I tend to agree with her, that age is of the mind. If you love
him and are committed to this relationship, age should not be a barrier.The issues
I met a guy sometime ago in a bus and we got talking. He’s a at the core of a successful marriage start first with God in the equation, then your
Christian and he’s got a lovely family. I have strong feelings for love, sincerity, commitment and trust for one another.What your values are, what
him but he is just satisfied being my friend and nothing more. the future holds based on how much you are willing to put into your home and
Should I tell him how I feel about him? above all your intentions.Weigh all of these with God’s word, where do you stand?
If you were not intending to marry him, why go out with him in the first place? Do
Come again, do you mean having a lovely family as in he is married or from a you feel safe with him? Are you willing to be a help meet indeed and build a
lovely home? If he is single and singular and you do have these strong feelings for formidable home where God is glorified with this man? These are the questions you
him, rather than tell him out rightly, you’d be better off just being friends for now. should ask yourself. Be careful not to despise God’s gift. Check these things out and
As friends, you can actually maximize your opportunities and discover how genuine if your answers give you peace, you can be sure you are on the right track. So, give
your feelings are. I must warn you though, that feelings are very unreliable and your fears to the wind and let God be on the driver’s seat of your life. I wish you
that’s why you need to connect to God to guide you and be sure He has a hand in God’s blessings. J

58 || Real Relationships Magazine


This was what that day’s devotional read:

Psalm 120:5 : Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I


dwell in the tents of Kedar.

As a Christian you have to live in the midst of an ungodly


esus
world, and it is of little use for you to cry "Woe is me." Jesus
did not pray O that you should be taken out of the world, and
what He did not pray for you need not desire. Strive to give
no occasion for blame. Let your goodness be the only faultt
they can discover in you. Like Daniel, compel them to say
of you, "We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel,
except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.od.
It was the first Monday of kindergarten for our daughter Where should the physician be but where there are many
Ujiri. She had dreamed of entering the school bus all sick? Where is honour to be won by the soldier but in the
through preschool and that day was finally here. My wife hottest fire of the battle? And when weary of the strife andd
was however uncomfortable with the whole school bus sin that meets you on every hand, consider that all the saintsts
idea. I shoved it off saying, “Ujiri is a big girl, she will have endured the same trial. They were not carried on beds
comport herself well”. While waiting with her at the bus of down to heaven, and you must not expect to travel more ore
stop, a couple of our neighbor’s children joined us. To my ath
easily than they. They had to hazard their lives unto the death
bewilderment, in a space of 5 minutes I heard all manner of in the high places of the field, and you will not be crowned
curse words and foul language as the kids where conversing esus
till you also have endured hardness as a good soldier of Jesus
with one another. Ujiri looked at me as if to say- Dad did en,
Christ. Therefore, "stand fast in the faith, quit you like men,
you hear that? be strong."

We had been diligent in making sure that only kid’s friendly I sometimes feel compelled to retreat from this secular
TV programs were watched in our home. Bad words are not world and associate only with other Christians. Sometimes imes I
allowed and so forth. only want to listen to Christian radio, read Christian books,
ooks,
and am currently contemplating enrolling my children
For a second, I said to myself, “I think my wife was right”. I in Christian schools. I feel like retreating from all the
even the heard the f-word used that morning by one of the immorality and the violence and the evil surrounding me.
boys. To be or not to be? Do I allow her to continue using But I realize that Jesus prayed not for us to be taken out of
the school bus she so cherished? Or do I commit to taking this world, but that we would be protected from the evil
her to and bringing her back from school? one while ministering in this world. We need to allow w our
light to shine before people. We need to let our salt flavorvor
Right there these words echoed in my spirit-" I do not pray our community. Train a child in the way he should go, o, and
that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou even when he is old he will not turn away from it. God od
shouldst keep them from the evil one". helping us we have brought up our daughter in a proper
manner and we are confident that God will watch over ver he
her
I got back into the house and sat down to study the scriptures. and cause her to be a witness even at this early age. g
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