Monthly Archives: July 2012

DIVORCE

This is a very difficult and tricky article for me to write. But I’m going to write it anyway, because I know I have to.

One thing I believe we all need to recognise is that we are able to get through difficult patches in life not by our own strength but by God’s grace and the strength He gives us.

He enables us to get through tough times so that we can help others to do the same.

It is not about “me, me, me”. It is all about God’s unconditional love and how we should do likewise for others.

I’m currently going through a divorce. Don’t ask me why, because quite frankly it’s none of your business. Lol

However, for the record, my ex is a lovely woman with a great heart and I wish her all the very best in life. I recognise the fact that I made many mistakes. But this is not about the mistakes I made.

This is about how God helped me through what were some of the most challenging months of my life.

Before going any further I want to thank God for blessing me with the most awesome family and friends. They were all so very willingly used by God to get me through this. You know who you are. Thanks so much for being there for me.

Going through a divorce in Nigeria is a very challenging ordeal. Why? Because you are so alone.

We live in a country that loves to celebrate and make so much noise about weddings. This is a good thing.

But when marriages go through serious issues, or worse still, when divorce becomes a reality, there are very few people or groups you can go to in order to get some respite, advice, guidance, love – call it what you will.

Ironically, churches across Nigeria offer pre-marital counselling, and from what I hear, some churches do this extremely well. But unfortunately very few, if any, address the issue of divorce. Ooops! Actually they do! Most tell you that you must stay in your marriage at all costs.

Many people refer to the text in Malachi 2:16 which says that ‘God hates divorce’.

Some have now  translated this to mean that God hates people who divorce.

Is it really possible that a God who loves us so unconditionally; who has forgiven us of ALL our sins; who is all about grace, can hate someone because their marriage didn’t work out?

I DON’T THINK SO!!

God hates the process, the consequences and effects of divorce. He hates what it does to the people involved – especially children. God hates the pain, the fear, the feeling of rejection, loneliness, the confusion and the anger that people experience.

God does not hate the people who are getting divorced.

He hates what we put ourselves and those closest to us through.

It is good and indeed extremely worthwhile to encourage couples to work through their problems. In my case we did two separate sessions of counselling – with two different sets of people.

So, we may not have tried hard enough, but we did try.

Once divorce became a reality I felt so alone. I felt like I had failed majorly.

I remember I kept looking at married couples / families and thinking ‘how come they got it right? Why couldn’t my marriage have come good?’

The more I analysed and compared, the worse I felt (Remember ‘Stop Comparing?’).

One night in November 2011 I woke up at about 1am, and because my mind was so full of negative thoughts I couldn’t sleep anymore. So after an hour or so of unsuccessfully attempting to lure myself back to sleep, I decided to Google ‘ Recovering from a painful divorce’.

It introduced me to a whole new world – so many articles.

Not only did I find comfort in the recognition that the emotions and feelings I had been going through were normal, but I also found great comfort in the fact that so many others had gone through what I was going through.

You see – in Nigeria, because nobody talks about what is really going on in their lives, so many people are suffering in silence; and trust me – it really is a very lonely experience.

It is also exactly what the devil wants – for people to suffer alone and in silence.

I firmly believe that reading those articles was one of the first steps towards recovery.

I made a decision that night. I decided that I was not going to stick to the Nigerian norm of suffering in lonely silence. I decided that I would talk about what I was going through and that I would encourage others to talk about what they are going through.

People – you will not believe the stories and experiences that I heard during the coming weeks!! So many people – married and divorced are quite literally going through hell. But because we live in a country in which people love to gossip, judge and talk behind your back, many, if not all, are unwilling or unable to talk about what they are going through. Again – exactly what the devil wants – alone, hurting and feeling defeated.

So – again on God’s prompting, I made a decision. It wasn’t an easy decision. In-fact with every step of the way, I have asked God the question – ‘who am I to be doing this? I’ve made so many mistakes and failed so many times – what right, or on what grounds do I have to do this?’

But alas, in very reluctant obedience I dedicated the last seven months or so to designing a Divorce seminar.

Before going any further I want to make it very clear that I strongly believe in marriage.

Divorce is a terrible thing which we should all do our very best to avoid.

But it is also a reality of life.

The seminar is for those who are going through divorce and in need of hope, strength, and the truth of God’s unconditional love – the surest foundation for a new beginning.

Whether we like it or not; whether it is right or not, the fact is that divorce is not the end. It is actually an opportunity to start again; an opportunity to get things right; an opportunity to find out why one is here – on earth.

Divorce is quite literally one of life’s most painful experiences, due to:

–          It’s terrible effect on children.

–          The pain of two hearts being literally torn apart.

–          The pain of bitter anger and negative emotions obstructing loving and objective decisions.

To be perfectly honest, for many people, divorce is quite literally hell.

But it is NOT the end.

Divorce is also an opportunity to rise from the ashes.

It is also an opportunity to find out who you really are and why you’re here.

It is an opportunity to finally start fulfilling your potential.

Yes – it is another opportunity for long lasting joy and fulfilment.

We need to remember that ‘God is for us’ and not against us. Therefore, no matter what mistakes you made or how much you failed (trust me, I made plenty), remember that God still and always will want the very best for you.

On Saturday 15th September, at the Ocean Pearl, Ocean View, from 10am to 5pm, there will be a seminar on Divorce.

The seminar is completely FREE.

Some of the topics that will be addressed are;

–          Recognising and accepting one’s mistakes

–          Accepting God’s forgiveness

–          Forgiving yourself

–          Forgiving you ex

–          Who am I?

–          What is my purpose?

–          How to achieve my goals

–          When do I start dating again?

The seminar will be very interactive.

This seminar is not about who is right or wrong.

It is about helping one another to get up and go again.

It is about Not Giving Up.

It is about Not Comparing

It is about learning from mistakes

It is about recognising that the future is still very bright.

So if you want to attend, or know anyone that you believe will benefit from attending, please inform them.

Time: 10am – 5pm

Date: Saturday, 15th September

Venue: Ocean Pearl, Ocean View, Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island

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Mistakes??? Part Of The Process

During the past few months I have spent an awful lot of time dwelling on the mistakes of the past. So much so that I literally made myself ill!!

I knew I shouldn’t have been doing it but I kept doing so anyway. I knew it couldn’t affect my future, but I kept doing it anyway. I knew it was far from healthy. But I kept dwelling on those past mistakes and failings anyway. It was an excruciatingly sad, painful and lonely
period. It was also a very pointless exercise in personal torture.

It is good, and indeed very important that we recognise our mistakes and failings. By recognising them we can make certain decisions to ensure we do not make such errors again. But once we have done this we must do our very best to move on, and not dwell on those failings over and over and over again. Trust me – it doesn’t help in any way at all.

Many of us believe that because our God loves us so much and so unconditionally (and He really does), that life should be a smooth journey – no issues, no mistakes, no failures, and no problems. We all expect a smooth, hassle free journey.

But why?

Where on earth did we get this false concept
from?????

Let’s take a look at a few of the main characters in the bible.

1. Abraham
‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you’
Genesis 12 vs 2

When God told Abraham he would be the father of nations do you think He meant that Abraham would father children through both Sarah and his maid servant Haggai?
Who knows – right?

Sarah’s idea for Abraham to lay with his maid servant caused rifts between both Sarah and Abraham, and Sarah and Haggi.

So whether or not it was all part of God’s plan or simply Abraham’s error of judgment the fact is that when God told Abraham He would make him into a great nation, He had already made provision for human decision making.
In other words Abraham’s journey may not have been a smooth one; there were some big bumps along the way. But God’s promise to him still stood.

2. Moses

‘One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them as they laboured. He saw an Egyptian beating an Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no-one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

…….. When Pharoah heard of this he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharoah and went to live in Midian’.
Exodus 2 vs 11-15

God had destined Moses to lead the Israelites out of Israel. Moses’ purpose was to lead Israel out of captivity.

Yet, he had to flee Egypt because he had committed murder and hence spent years in the wilderness in what I’m fairly sure was a state of remorse and fear. Life’s journey certainly wasn’t smooth for Moses.

3. David

David’s life never ceases to amaze me. He was told he would be king at the age of 17. He then spent the next decade running away from Saul and living in caves with vagabonds. Yet, he was still the future king of Israel.

It most certainly wasn’t a smooth assent to the throne. Yes, at the age of 17 he was anointed king of Israel – his purpose in life. But it did not mean that everything would run smoothly. Indeed, the decade he spent hiding in caves was the period of learning that he needed to go through in order to be the king that God had destined him to be.
But that is a topic for another day.

For today, let’s just take note that David was always destined to be a great king. His very bumpy journey to the seat of the throne was part of his development.

Let’s tarry with David a little further.

David slept with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. The sex was obviously scintillating, and indeed the passion so great that he arranged for her husband to be killed on the front line. Bathsheba gave birth to a son, which the Lord took away as punishment to David.

However the bible says;

‘Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him’
2 Samuel 12 vs 24

King Solomon, despite his many mistakes and failings was blessed with great wisdom and went on to build God’s temple.

So, it was Solomon’s purpose to build God’s temple. David played his role, all-be-it in a rather twisted manner, in bringing Solomon into the world.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am most definitely not saying that it is ok to sleep with another man’s wife. I am most definitely not saying it is ok to have someone killed.
What I AM saying is that, just as David did, several times, we sometimes make huge mistakes; we sometimes fail big; we sometimes fall huge. But it’s all part of this long rollercoaster journey that we call life.
Yes, you fell. But that does not mean you should focus on your fall so much that you forget why you’re here. The fact that you failed does not mean that you will not succeed in the end. Yes, you’ve made huge mistakes, but that does not mean that you cannot get it right.

Stop looking back at the past!

Stop looking over your shoulder!

Get up and Go again!

Our mistakes and failings, so long as we learn from them, are very often what mould us to fulfil our purpose; part of our overall development to be who we are destined to be.

Don’t expect life’s journey to be smooth. There’s nothing that suggests that we should expect hassle free development, and hassle free lives.

Recognise the mistakes and learn from them.
But do not dwell on them. Dwelling on the past will take up way too much mind territory.

In the overall scheme of God’s purpose for you, the mind needs to be free to maximise the present as well as visualise the future.

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STOP COMPARING (2)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the jousting of the past few days. I’ve also learnt a great deal. Thank you.

I’m not a pastor, so I lay no claim to knowing the bible in as much detail as those that have made such valuable contributions to my earlier article. So please pardon me for the simplicity of my understanding.

Actually – nope – no need to pardon me. In my view Christianity is a very simple thing. I’m not saying that it is easy to be a Christian. In these days of all sorts of temptations and distractions it can often be extremely challenging to live and work in a Christ-like manner.

What I am saying is that I believe we Nigerians have made Christianity far more complicated than it really is. We have made it a practice of formulas and doctrines rather than a life style. We have made christianity into an practice of do’s and don’ts; an art of righteous and holy appearance rather than ‘hearts after God’s own heart’.

Please allow me to share my very simple understanding of a few verses of scripture to further explain myself.

At the end of the parable of the good samaritan Jesus asked, “which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert of the law replied, “the one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I believe that when Jesus said ‘go and do likewise ” he was talking about Mercy and Unconditional Love. We are supposed to show the same mercy and love for each other as Christ continues to show for us.

Once again, as I pointed out in my earlier article, Christ said that the greatest command is “love”

About a month ago, a good friend of mine gave me the most awesome revelation during our fellowship meeting. We were discussing the importance of prayer and reading our bible, and assessing how we think we are maturing spiritually. I recall that I was feeling particularly pleased with myself because I knew I had been spending good quality hours in prayer and meditation. Boy was I doing well!!!!!!

We went around the room – each person taking turn to assess themselves. After we had all scored ourselves my friend then made the following comment.

“Jesus’ two ‘greatest commandments’ are centered on ‘love’. I believe that the true test of our spiritual maturity is our ability to love God and each other unconditionally, the way He loves us unconditionally – as described in 1st Corinthians 13.”

The statement made me shudder.

Unfortunately in a world where doctrines and appearances have taken precedence, love seems to have faded away. By love I mean the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13 verses 4 to 7.

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’

I decided that I would read 1st Corinthians 13 (especially verses 4 to 7 ) at least three times a day for the rest of this year so that it can start to properly filter into my heart and mindset.

The scary thing was that when I first started I realised I was far from being a ‘loving’ person. I always thought I was soooooo loving!! Lol

Love is patient – nope

Love does not envy – nope

Love does not boast – nope

Love is not easily angered – nope

Love keeps no record of wrongs – nope

Love always protects – nope

Love always hopes – nope

Love always perseveres – nope

It really wasn’t a pleasant score card to look at. It still isn’t to be honest. But I know God will complete the work he has started in me.

Now – I want us to look at this from another angle.

Which of the types of love described in 1st Corinthians verses 4 to 7 can we really say are flying high in Nigeria. In my view – none. As I see it that is the foundation of our problems in Nigeria right there. No no no – don’t even think about comparing Nigeria to other countries. Remember – ‘Stop Comparing’ – we are talking about Nigeria, and Nigeria alone.

Human beings are naturally selfish. But we in Nigeria seem to have taken it to a whole new level. Pride – anger – boastful, envy – are these not characteristic traits that are intensely prevalent in Nigeria? And yet every Sunday we go to church. Every day we read our bible – or at least we try to. Every day we pray – or at least we try to.

But – as famously coined by The Black Eyed Peas, “Where Is The Love?”

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not criticising. Indeed I am one of the biggest culprits, so I have no right to criticise.

I am just trying to get us to open our eyes a little. It is not about doctrines. It is about our hearts. It is about grace. Grace gives us the desire to want to lead better lives. Grace gives us the power to overcome sin.

The best foundation for our walk with God and each other is Grace, and Love, as described in 1st Corinthians 13.

The best foundation for all relationships is the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.

I really wish I knew this a few years ago. But we live and learn, and with God’s help, can get better and better.

Accountability to each other based on Grace and Unconditional Love is far more powerful, effective and productive than any other kind of accountability.

The best foundation for a better Nigeria is the Love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.

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STOP COMPARING

‘On hearing this Jesus said ‘ it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘ I desire mercy not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’

Matthew 9 vs 12 to 13

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…

1 Peter 2:9

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

John 8:7

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matthew 18:22

The above verses are all talking to, and about the same people. They are talking about God’s children.

During a recent conversation about the trials that we endure in this journey of life, I pointed out that every single person in this life – whether christian or not is having to deal with some issue or another. The challenge in a country like ours is that we have developed a rather judgmental attitude towards one another. I believe that this stems from the fact that we are constantly comparing ourselves with others.

We compare the length of prayer time; we compare the length of meditation time; we compare the cars; we compare the houses (see how God has blessed him!!! See how God has blessed her!!!); we compare the wives; we even compare the kids. Whether consciously or subconsciously we quite literally compare EVERYTHING. This constant comparing of ourselves to others often leads us to judge others as to why they do or don’t have certain things. We ALL do it.

The worst aspect about our tendency to judge others is that it leads to secrecy. As christians we are supposed to love each other unconditionally. We are supposed to help each other; encourage each other; lift each other up; not give up on one another. But our tendency to compare and judge has eroded our desire and motivation to love unconditionally. The consequence of this is that people who are struggling with various issues (and trust me – we all are) are forced to keep those issues to themselves. Exactly where the devil wants them – on their own. Once someone thinks they alone are having issues and problems the devil will have a field day with their mind; making them think they are the worst person in the world. I know. I’ve been there.

My message to you this morning is this;

If there is anyone out there struggling with anything or any area of your life, do not think that God doesn’t love you. Do not judge yourself. God loves you unconditionally and nothing can separate you from His love.

‘neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’

Romans 8 vs 39

Secondly find someone you can trust and talk about it.

Finally, DO NOT GIVE UP.

What the devil wants is for you to give up

Please DO NOT give up. You have so many good years ahead of you. God wants you to succeed. He wants you to be happy. He will definitely not give up on you.

‘I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.’

Hebrews 13 vs 5

So don’t even think about giving up on yourself.

No matter how you feel now; no matter how dark everything may seem around you; no matter what people may be saying about you – be rest assured that God has not, and will never forsake you.

Be rest assured that He has a plan for you.

Be rest assured that your future is extremely bright.

Don’t give up on yourself.

Don’t give up on God.

He’ll never give up on you.

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