Random Notes on Friendship and other Relationships

Have you ever had friends with whom you thought you would never part? Perhaps you were seat mates in the secondary school for several years and shared many things together, time and resources. Are you still in touch? Friendship is a crucial part of our lives and like the popular saying goes, “No man is an Island.” This is because loners don’t last. They soon disappear.

In I Samuel 18:1-2, we witness the beginning a classical story, one that spans decades. David and Jonathan, the son of King Saul strike a life-long relationship.  It is more like friendship made in heaven. Have you ever had such an experience: someone you never knew from Adam, but you suddenly connect at the moment you set eyes on each other? David has just returned from the battle against the Philistines, where he has just miraculously brought down Goliath, the highly revered giant. This shepherd boy exudes confidence and carries an aura that Jonathan, the king’s son cannot not afford to ignore. They soon become covenant friends. In chapter 19, we see how Jonathan continually endeavours to douse the tension between David and King Saul, who has grown envious of David and now hates him.

The king continues to plot his death, but in Chapter 31, Jonathan and his father breathe their last on the battle field. Several years down the line, in II Samuel 9:13, Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan wines and dines at King David’s table, him physical disability notwithstanding. David remembers the house of Saul and honours the lame one from Lodebar, the only surviving son of Jonathan. He restored Saul’s estate and Mephibosheth was in charge.  This way, David kept his covenant with Jonathan, even in death. (Prov. 17:17; 18:24) Not all friendship stories end up this way. There are very few life-long experiences like the one above.

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Some people come into our lives at some point in time and naturally transit after they have made their impact. We discover that when we try to force such associations to linger beyond their welcome, frustration sets in and we lose our peace. Also, there are times when God brings us in close contact with some people for specific assignments. It could be as simple as listening to them, praying for them, counselling them or keeping them company. In due season, when they have received enough courage and inner strength to stand alone, we need to be sensitive to know when to allow them grow into independence and stand on their own, helping others as they have been helped. There are times that such friendships blossom into deeper relationships, but we must be careful not to seek to possess such people as our own. We should not use people and take advantage of them. Help them get a life, but do not stifle their growth. No one owes you anything because you have done them any good. God in heaven sees your heart and the motives behind your kind actions. He will reward you accordingly. (Col. 3:23-25)

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Leaders, especially in the house of God, are entrusted with the lives of people. We look up to them and they help young believers grow. Usually, a leader places a high priority on his/her relationship with his/her followers. S/he prays for them, listens to them, counsels and carries burdens in their hearts for people in their care. Sometimes s/he feels exhausted, other times s/he feels rejuvenated to continue to sow seeds of growth and happiness. In the course of service, s/he is privy to varying details of the lives of different people. The many fellowship meetings and activities help to knit people’s hearts together in unity and they begin to see themselves as blood relations. A family is birthed. But when a leader leaves an office, there is the certainty that not all relationships and connections to everybody remain the same. A few relationships remain and even wax stronger, but others gradually fade due to several reasons that will not be discussed here.

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Wherever we find ourselves, let us endeavour to make the best of associations. Value people; seek ways in which you can give and not necessarily receive. Always remember the place of God in relationships with people. When people hurt you, forgive and forget. Granted, many times scars from broken trust linger, but God is a master at dealing with scars. He can truly heal your wounds and clear the scars. Always check and ensure your character is intact. When an individual’s character is sound, even when circumstances take us apart from other people for decades, when we meet again we find it convenient to reconnect with them. This is why old time friends reconnect after several years, and in a matter of weeks or months they begin to talk about doing business together. In all our associations with people, we should endeavour to be selfless (not selfish and self-seeking), genuinely interested in people, recognise when to part and give them a break, and never neglect God’s guidance and prodding through the Holy Spirit in us. Above all, we should develop good character, live by it and be trustworthy.

(c) August 2010

Living Without Pornography

By Gbenga Awomodu & Emmanuel Aboje

Pornography comes from the Greek word porneia which means “having to do with sexual relations outside of marriage.” Now, a graph refers to drawings, etchings or life – like artistic representations. Thus, porn-o-graphy is the life – like representation of sexual relations (outside of marriage). There is a kind of “pleasure cult” in the world right now. People are trying to satisfy the desires and yearning inside of them by pursuing all kinds of pleasures whenever possible. Oblivious to them, they are fulfilling a prophecy in the Bible. It says in 2 Timothy 3: 4 that “men will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Pornography production and sales worldwide is a multi-billion dollar industry and has been said to rival McDonald’s for the number of outlets it has.

Porn viewing

Viewing pornography?

Most of the porn viewed by the average human is seen through the television. Sitcoms now employ jokes and other humour to soften the viewer to immoral concepts ideas. Otherwise normal shows have broken the old decency barrier by showing and promoting foul language, sex outside marriage, as well as nudity. In some circles, this is considered “progress.” In the world today, more and more people are beginning to accept pornography as a normal thing and the effects are seen in day to day living, such as the way ladies dress. They remind us of the sleazy dressing of popular female artists most of whom engage in porn and shooting porn movies. Many people have changed their definition of the word to suit the present times and their selfish and sinful cravings of the heart. Two unmarried individuals can stand naked in front of a camera being viewed by millions of people and still feel “holy” as long as they do not have sex. The standards have been reduced to an unacceptable level – one which we as Christians must take a stand against.

Perhaps, you are out there and you are struggling with pornography. Today you make up your mind and you decide to stop, but after about two days you fall back to that old path, maybe even before nightfall on the day you make the decision. Maybe the internet has also worsened your case. You just secured internet connection for your laptop so you can do research for your final year project, small business, term paper, assignment or normal coursework, but after you have done some of those important tasks, you still get tempted to google some pornographic sites. (The internet card/modem or even the laptop may not even be yours!) Suddenly, something comes over you and you begin to thirst for some action. When no one is in the room, especially if you stay in the B/Q, late at night or during the weekends when the other guys and girls have gone home, house (some girls refer to their boyfriends’ abode as house), or somewhere partying, you download all the porn clips available and take opportunity to watch all the porn DVDs you have bought and hidden in a remote corner for some time. The way girls dress today may not even be helping matters and you think that you can derive sexual pleasure from porn since you are not bold enough to ask them out in order to sleep with them. You may even be a pastor or a well known worker in the house of God, but you are still struggling with pornography.

In Matthew 5: 28, the Lord Jesus makes it clear that whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her in his heart. Imagine then looking at nude pictures and video clips of men and women, and (unmarried) couples having sex? It is sin! Therefore, you need to change. You need to turn to God for help. You have always failed to lead a porn-free life because you tried to do it on your own, surrounded yourself with or stayed around friends and environments that made you have access to porn. Firstly, you need turn to God for help. Pour out your heart to Him today. Repentance is turning, and shifting your focus away from your sins and looking unto God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). He is willing and ready to forgive you. Confess to Him and ask Him to give you strength to always focus on Him through proper study and meditation on His word and through prayers. Afterward, ensure that you study and meditate on the scriptures. Join a community of Christians, whether a fellowship in school or a church at home. Become accountable to a trusted Christian, preferably of the same gender. It could be your pastor. Let them know about you and help you grow. They can always check up on you and find out how well you’re living above pornography and making progress in your Christian walk.

“What if I already have a fellowship or church I attend, I’m even a worker, part of the fellowship executives, even the pastor of the church/fellowship?” you ask. Well, with God that’s not difficult. You must realize that there are a lot of people in your shoes who do not cry out for help in time. Some die with this problem while others are eventually publicly disgraced. Many ministers of God have had their ministries destroyed before their very own eyes because they were struggling with pornography and one day, someone caught them in the act and broadcast it to the world.

Some of them actually entered into physical adultery and fornication which destroyed their marriage and ministry. As a man/woman of God, you may have attained a very high level of respect in church and the society and may feel embarrassed opening up to someone else. They may just bring you down by telling other people. The truth is that you still need to be accountable to somebody (James 5:16). If you are married, it will be very helpful to let your spouse know about your challenges. You can both work together in love to solve it. Being accountable to God and man will help you think twice before doing certain things. Trusted friends can pray for you and help watch out for potentially harmful situations, ones that could open you up for sin. Your spouse may want to travel with you whenever you are going to be away for a long time, especially when you’ll be alone for a big part of the journey or programme you will be attending. If they cannot go with you, they may want to call you occasionally to ascertain where you are and what you are doing. After some time, you may not need this level of close monitoring again.

If you are a student, it will also help that you get some accountability partners to work with. They need to check on you from time to time, pray for you and ensure you are doing the right thing and not exposed to compromising situations (2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:22). No matter how much of the scriptures you think you know, avoid every appearance of evil. You do not overcome temptations by playing with them or rationalizing. You win such by running away from them! Some other tips may include that you avoid undue exposure and questionable proximity to people of the opposite sex, especially in dark or isolated corners, whether during the day or at night. Avoid gatherings where sexually suggestive and explicit talks are done. Stay in gatherings where only edifying things are being said. The church usually serves as a healthy avenue to mingle with people of the opposite sex in a safe atmosphere. Being a part of relevant and appropriate meetings such as singles’ forums/retreats, student retreats, and getting busy and committed to serving in the house of God could also help you shift your focus off the animal instincts of pornography. But you have to be careful that you do not abuse such avenues. Today, many people are in a hurry to join a church and may soon lose focus because they are in much hurry to get busy in the church for the wrong and selfish reasons. If you are single, do not be in a haste to go into a relationship, if you are not already in one, when you’ve just joined a church. Take your time to know God for yourself and make sure whatever you do for God, especially in the house of God, is borne out of genuine love for Him and not because of human attention.

Remember, pornography is not the will of God. It is a sin against God. Turn to God for help. In turn, pass the message across to other people struggling with this sin. Help them avoid compromising situations. Pray for yourself and those people out there. Take a stand against pornography. Share your experiences with trusted Christians, especially those who have also crossed this path and are now standing for God. Join them in standing for righteousness and grow thereby.

This piece was originally published in the 2009 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria. Emmanuel Aboje studies Metallurgy & Materials Engineering at the University of Lagos.

Guest Post: Bible Cure for Gossip by Omotayo Alo

By Omotayo Omoseke Alo

I want to talk to you about a very popular word – gossip. No one is exempted from this course, because in one way or another, we talk about other people. Gossip can be truth or falsehood; it is still gossip. Have you heard or been the one to say “wait till you hear this!” Or, “I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but did you know…?” As a man created in God’s own image you shouldn’t be involved in idle talk that doesn’t edify or glorify your father in heaven. Psalm 37:30 says that the mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom and his tongue speaks what is just.

Gossips

Gossips

Gossip can be defined as malicious or slanderous talk or writing about another person or situation, with desire or intension to hurt them. It is a time–wasting, irrelevant talk about other people. When gossiping, information could also be passed across through signs and gesticulation, especially behind the person who is the object of gossip. One thing you should know is that God condemns those who gossip, our words reflect the mediation of our heart. You should agree with me that both males and females are guilty of gossiping. For guys their gossips are usually about drunken friends, old school friends, female colleagues at work, the sexiest girl in class, sexual relationships and escapades, and lecturers. The females are usually guilty of discussing other girls’ relationships, their friends’ weight gain or loss, how ugly a classmate is, male lecturers, the most handsome guy in class, snoring roommates, and the boys and girls with the worst body odour.

Gossip is sin and it is not good for you. Have you ever gossiped about someone and felt good about it afterwards? Truth is, even if you enjoy gossiping while it lasts, later on when you recall things that transpired, you tend to acknowledge that what you did was not proper. If you are still not convinced, has it ever happened to you that you discovered some people had been gossiping about you or you probably burst into a gossip session about you? How do you feel hearing first – hand, your supposedly cool classmate who’s always smiling at you, telling other people that you are too skinny, too proud and snobbish, especially when you know some of those things are not true. Can you handle it when you are the object of a secret jest that you suddenly burst into by chance…? So, how do you avoid and overcome gossip if it is that bad?

All you have to do is withdraw your association with gossips or gossip–gatherings. Whatever opinion you have about somebody, keep it to yourself. Seal your lips, guard your mouth and think before you talk. Gossiping does not help you in any way; it wastes valuable time and makes you a bad person. According to Matthew 7:12, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. I am sure you don’t want to be gossiped about so please guilt gossiping.

For effective repentance from gossiping each time you get up from your bed, recite this verse and meditate on it. It isPsalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, o Lord my strength and my redeemer.” Ensure that you say something nice to somebody today; like I love you and I am praying for you. Make sure you mean it! Always look out for the good qualities and attributes in other people, do not focus on people’s faults. Have a wonderful day and thanks for spending some reading this.

Omotayo Alo studies Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

LOOKING FOR LOVE?

By Akinwunmi Akowonjo and Gbenga Awomodu

Relationships

Photo Credit: iStockphotos.com

Preach it pastor! Word! Mmmn…” The noise in the auditorium is almost deafening! Dolapo is among the very few who appear unexcited about the whole thing. She has come to this relationship seminar just because her friends forced her. She is just twenty two, but she has been in and out of five relationships in the last three years and she is very dejected. After gaining admission into the university to study Law at eighteen, she felt she was ready to conquer the world! She started on a very bright note and was ready to give the next four years of her stay on campus the best shot because her parents had spent a lot on her Diploma programme. However, she had a clique of friends who wouldn’t let her be. They kept on teasing and pushing her until she finally heeded their advice and started going out with Kunle, a final year Mechanical Engineering student who seemed to have it all – brains, body build, money, car, and everything any student would desire. But it would not last long! She was just not ready for the responsibilities and time-consuming attention the relationship required. He was just too pushy… Like a dream, she soon broke up and ended up with five breaks-up in three years. Now, she’s in her finals and again, she’s desperate to get engaged before going to Law school!’

The storyline above is a very common one. The relationship topic is everywhere right now and, in fact, many people are tired of those relationship talks and seminars! It appears to grab the attention of most young people even more than the salvation message, but a lot of times one wonders why despite the numerous tips, books, and audio-visual materials on this topic, many young people still do not get it right. If people do as much as they hear, we should have less relationship mistakes and casualties.  Many people just attend relationship seminars, marriage talks, and youth/singles retreat only to savour the excitement in the air and have fun. We hardly reminisce and meditate on those vital lessons passed amidst the noise and screams of energized youths. We do not even take a second look at the notes we took or the self-help materials we were given, talk less of putting the lessons learnt into practice!

The purpose of this article is not to tell you again, all those things you have heard over and over again about how to start or improve a relationship. This is not another attempt to tell you five steps or twelve principles of a happy marriage. No! You’ve probably gotten tired of hearing and reading those terms. Take a pause. Let’s approach the issue of relationship from a different perspective. Why hurry out of singlehood? We need to enjoy and explore singlehood and avoid pressure and haste. Many people out there are eager and ready to attach themselves to the nearest love-professing guy or that lady who catches their fancy and most of these people even claim to have the backing of the Holy Spirit since they have “peace” in their heart. The reason why many people are looking for attachments is because they have not come to appreciate the purpose and beauty of the years of singlehood, and they are not even willing to explore this unique period in life. Are we asking you to stay single? Of course not! (We don’t intend to either). But before you attach yourself in a relationship, be sure that you have explored the benefits of singlehood.

Couple

Photo Credit: gettyimages.com

Singlehood is a time for finding purpose. Before two companies merge, each company first finds out its own strengths and weaknesses. There is a detailed analysis of their vision and purpose in business. After serious introspection, each company realizes and clearly states its projection for the future compared to its present state. When such a thorough assessment has been made, it becomes easier for the company to select or properly choose the other company which would effectively complement its strengths and weaknesses, and shares similar values and business ethics, amongst other protocols. This helps in a mighty way to determine the future outlook of the single company that emerges.  Why attach yourself to someone when you have not even discovered your own purpose and assignment in life, let alone what role your partner is supposed to play in helping to fulfil that purpose? While you’re still single, find your purpose and begin to work tirelessly towards achieving it.

Remember the Adam story. Genesis 1: 18 records that the Lord God said it wasn’t good that man should be alone. He would make him a help-meet. Does that strike any chord in your head? While Adam was at work in the Garden, God saw that it would be good he had someone with him. She would be someone who would keep him company while he was at work and help him to achieve more and be more efficient. Scriptures say God made woman and brought her unto the man. Where was the man? He must have been in the Garden, on the field doing his assignment, fulfilling purpose. So, love-seeking folks, please seek thy purpose! Once you know it, it would be easier to know by the Holy Spirit which kind of person to marry, who to marry and where your partner is supposed to fit into that purpose of yours. With a good knowledge of your purpose, you would be able to define the purpose of your relationship and marriage and eventually come up with a vision for your family.

Singlehood is also a time for self-development. It is amazing to find a lady looking for a soul mate when she doesn’t even have a good character that would win and keep the soul mate? Remember Rebecca, how she became Abraham’s daughter-in-law. It can be inferred from the account in Genesis 24 that she was a lady who had taken time out to explore her singlehood to and had built up her character. The servant prayed in verse 14 that the damsel who would be Isaac’s wife would not only offer him water, but also the camels. That is kindness! How many ladies today have that endearing kindness to go the extra mile, out of their comfort zone, to help people? Giving the servant a drink is understandable, but camels! Camels consume a lot of water. An average camel can gulp up to 30 UK gallons (approx. 136 litres) of water in ten minutes! They store up a lot of water for long journeys as they drink. Imagine Rebecca having to fetch and pour water over and again, yet she didn’t complain. Some may say that it was the servant’s prayer that worked. Yes, but Rebecca’s character helped the job. Good character is not expected of the female folk alone. No matter how much of a fine boy you are or may be you are even on a 4.89/5.00 CGPA and have rich parents, no right thinking lady wants a man who can’t genuinely express love, is stingy, hot-tempered, or can’t control his hormones and emotions. Before you attach yourself to that lady and end up taking her through hell on earth, find out which of your habits and character traits will give any lady a hard time and work on them. Some guys are just dirty and unkempt. Some can’t even spend money on themselves let alone someone else and you want to go into a relationship? Sit and think. Everybody wants a guy she can show off to her friends and family and be proud of. Please, make her job easy and work on your lapses.

It is also a time to plan. Some people don’t even know what they want to do after university! Some do not even know whether they would like to study for advanced degrees, get a job or start their own business immediately after school. Others do not even know what career to pursue. Even if you are part of those who blame the government and leaders for the scarcity of job openings, if you fail to plan, others will plan your life for you, and you most likely would not love the outcome!  Planning is a vital part of every man’s life. Explore your singlehood to plan your life, but be flexible about it. Do not plan your life so rigidly and expect that one lady must fit into that plan irrespective of what she had planned too. Please plan your life with the leading of the Holy Spirit as you allow for flexibility to accommodate your partner’s plans too. You will need to effectively balance your individual plans to the benefit of your home. When a lady has spent time to develop herself, not just any kind of guy will come to ask her out. What a lot of people don’t know is that you attract your type of person. If as a lady most of those who ask you out are wayward guys then you may want to re-check and reassess yourself. If you want to attract a sound person, BE SOUND! Let us say at this point that you must be careful not to set unreasonably high standards for you partner just because you have developed yourself. There is a need for balance.

lady

Photo Credit: iStockphotos.com

Relationship is a time-consuming and energy-sapping endeavour. For people who haven’t grown up spiritually, it could be just another disaster. When you are in a relationship, you are spiritually responsible for yourself and your partner. But you wonder what happens to a man who is not even spiritually responsible for himself and wants to carry someone else along. Let me ask this question? Who told Adam that Eve was his wife? Having spent time with God, he didn’t have a problem knowing what God had prepared for him. Spiritual depth is a proper foundation for discovering a common purpose and vision for your relationship. You should be able to discern the purpose for your relationship, marriage and future home.

  

Finally, use your singlehood to build family values. Men who come home unnecessarily late and don’t value their wives didn’t start after marriage. It had always been a part of them, but it just didn’t surface until marriage for full expression. If God is interested in your relationship, then He is interested in the family that results from it. You therefore must learn and imbibe core family values. Learn to value everyone in your home and respect them.  Some guys do not respect their mothers and sisters and they go out there telling a lady that they love her! That’s a lie! You can’t value your wife if you don’t value female members of your present home. Ladies, you are not exempted. Rebecca in Genesis 24 impresses me. You want to know why? Though not expressly stated, Rebecca must have been someone with good family values. The way her brothers treated her and her guest, and the prayers said strike me! Her people who were responding to the love and respect their sister and daughter had shown to them. They must have been thinking, “Her good character and family values have paid off finally!” Her brother and mother even pleaded that she be allowed to stay with them for perhaps ten more days! They were going to miss her big time! She had made lasting impact in their lives. The prayer in Genesis 24: 60 shows that she valued her family and they valued also esteemed her.

  

Are you looking for love? Look within and ask yourself whether you are what any man would go the extra kilometre to have or whether you are the kind of man that your dream lady can’t resist yelling out “YES” to. If you must marry the right person and build the right home, then you must be the right person!

  

This piece was originally published in the 2009 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria and has been slightly modified. Akinwunmi Akowonjo is a former President of the LVCU and recently graduated from the University of Lagos.