Lesson from the Marriage Triangle
Imagine you and your spouse were each standing on the two ends of the base of a triangle, and you started climbing up to the tip of the triangle from your different points. As you climb higher to the tip of the triangle, you would find that something else is happening—you are unwittingly getting closer to each other to the point where you can both reach out to touch each other. What you noticed would be that the higher you climb up the triangle, the distance between each of you decreases.
The tip of that triangle is Christ! And the two of you are at a certain distance apart from each other right now. What is the proximity between the two of you today? When the two of you are each aiming for the tip of the triangle—Christ—your marriage can only get better because you are becoming a better Christian; you are each becoming more and more like Christ. Hallelujah! Two “Christs” under one roof!
Someone taught me the story of the marriage triangle while I was a teenager and it has really been an inspiration to me. I once told my wife before we got married that we ought not to quarrel as a family. The idea first came when I asked myself what kind of union we would have if two “Christs” were living together. The mutual and unconditional love, the high level of tolerance, the understanding, the cooperation, the singleness of mind and purpose, and every good thing. The fruit of the Spirit – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control would be in surplus.
Here’s the thing: You are first of all a Christian before you are somebody’s wife or husband. In fact, in heaven where you are going, you don’t have a marital status. Many of us are praying for and desiring the fruit of the Spirit in our home, but our roots are being sapped by the world. Many are neglecting quality Bible study, prayer, attending good fellowship and living the Word and are struggling to display the Christian virtues they see in others. We are running after the quick fixes psychologists and marriage counselors offer on the Internet, but things don’t seem to work because our roots are not receiving nutrition from the right place. Trees don’t struggle to get fruits on themselves; they just get their roots to the ground for proper nourishment. It is fellowship with Christ that ensures we get our nourishment from the Spirit. No wonder He says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)”
The most potent way to transform any family is for the couples to daily become like Christ. Start aiming for that today, and in a short time your progress will be very visible.
To be continued next week.
– Tope S. Aladenusi
Your Family As A Brand
Any venture that will go far and have a lasting success must have a vision. A vision guides every aspect of the organisation, and it creates a certain culture that permeates every detail of the organisation in all ramifications for which the brand is known. Whether it is a Fortune 500 company or a ministry with a global impact or a thriving economy, having a vision is at the centre of their progress.
“Mr. & Mrs. Daniels O.” (You can put your family name here instead.) What do you now have? Say it again. What does it sound like? Does it sound like a company? Yes, of two people…for a real family business. One issue many homes face is that they don’t have a goal/vision for their families. We do for our work, company, ministry, career, but not for family. How sad? This may sound absurd, but it’s the truth. What is the vision statement for your family? Set the vision and direction for the family. This vision should align well with God’s plan and purpose for your family as revealed in His Word.
Why do people start a family, anyway? Is it because they are approaching 30 or the hormones are flowing or they need someone to delegate the duties of a cook and laundry to? Or they have found a vision to pursue and need a companion to help fulfill that purpose? After creation, God gave the first man the task of tending the garden, to have mastery over life, and to populate the earth. The first woman was to help him realise this vision. Today, the vision of the Christian couple is the ministry and to have a significant impact in life together. God gave man a helper—the woman—because there is a vision to be realised by the couple—the brand. O man, but how can she help you when you have set no vision—having nowhere to go? And O woman, have you become the centre of the universe instead of understanding your role as a vision-supporter?
We need to set high standards and stop taking on worldly standards. Your family was made by God and for God, and until you understand that, your marriage will never make sense. Your family vision should be aligned with God’s purpose for your existence. Don’t let your marriage be anchored on romantic feelings, because after a while, the sun will rise over your marriage and reality will set in; as everything normalizes, feelings settle. What will sustain and keep the union going will be the vision that has been clearly stated and written for each party to see, understand and run with.
If you do not yet have a vision statement for your family, make sure you do so this week!
To be continued next week.
– Tope S. Aladenusi
When Does Family Ever Come First?
A very experienced nurse once shared her observation that one of the two most important things that many patients on their death bed are usually concerned about is family. This is so because at such a critical time when one has only a brief moment to remain in this world, one cannot afford to spend even a second worrying about mundane things. They want to see or touch most of their family members one last time and for as long as they can. They want to be surrounded by their own relatives, wishing they could buy a little more time. They would forgive long-held grudges in an instant, with tears flowing freely and an outburst of emotion. All of a sudden, they realise that they should have spent more time with family when they could. Family now comes first on their death bed. Unfortunately, it would be the last time!
A very busy man was once asked what his motivation for hard work was. He responded by saying that he needed to provide for his family. Because of that he was heavily consumed with work, hardly ever having time for the same family he was providing for.
Nothing can replace your family. It comes before whatever success you may hope to achieve. It is good to have a lot on your monthly planner and daily to-do list, but do you also have plans for your family on them? Do you have these things on your schedule: A weekend outing, taking your wife to the swimming pool, a bed-time story for your kids, calling on Grandma, your daughter’s birthday, family Bible study, dinner-for-all, family games, your son’s homework, and so on? Is your home like a playground or just an enclosure?
From God’s perspective, a thriving ministry or career with a weak family is absolute nonsense. I Timothy 5:8 (GNT) gives us a peek into the significance of families to God – “But if any do not take care of their relatives, especially the members of their own family, they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.” Yes! The family unit is very important to God, and we have a primary responsibility to build healthy and powerful homes. It is apparent that God strategically placed each believer in a family that will mold and shape them to help achieve His purposes. Ironically, our generation has given attention to every other thing but the family unit. Today, many are trying to “make it” at the expense of making their families.
When should family really come first? On the death bed or every day?
To be continued next week.
– Tope S. Aladenusi
I once enrolled with a coach to learn how to play lawn tennis. It was a very interesting time for me. He taught me the rudiments of the game. Within a short period of time, I started knocking the ball around in a very nice way, and started to feel cool about it. I soon realised that the more I played with my coach, my inadequacies became obvious. It appeared my game was very bad despite the progress I thought I was making. I knew I was improving though, but it was almost discouraging to see that he kept pointing at my errors and showing me adjustments I needed to make. Interestingly, one day he told me I was going to play a “social game” with some other more experienced players than myself. So I accepted the offer and went to play with them. I was very shocked at my own performance. I could now appreciate my progress and was happy with myself. I felt like a new star on the pitch that day, knocking the ball around and making all the nice moves. I may not have been as good as my coach, but it did not matter this time—I was having a good time with my new level of play.
This is similar to our walk with God. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We are GRADUALLY becoming what we FOCUS ON. As we focus on the Master—Word of God (by studying, meditating and acting it out on a daily basis), we are gradually becoming like Him. Hallelujah! But often times, we get frustrated because of the errors and the imperfections we see in our lives when we behold His glory (His performance and abilities)—the perfect example that we are reaching for. This epitomic glory is so fantastic that when compared with our current state, it appears as though we are so bad and are never going to be able to make any progress, and that has hampered many people from stepping out to do the work and will of the master.
But Christ, who is your life coach, wants you to play some ‘social games’ every day. Do not sit down and say in your mind, “If only I had finished reading the whole Bible…If only I did not misbehave with that little temptation yesterday…If only I have the gift of seeing visions…If only I was a pastor….” etc. Beloved, I beseech you to go to the field of life and display excellence and righteousness daily. Just lay your hand on the sick around you and give the command…in the name of Jesus. Raise the dead. Make it a duty to preach the gospel. Go and do something with that “little” you have learned from the Master and don’t bother about your “if only’s…” . You will be amazed at how much you have already tapped from your life coach and just waiting for you to step out in faith. You will appreciate your Christianity better. But go back to him again and train with Christ some more. You may still feel inadequate, sometimes, but just like 1 Timothy 4:15-16 says: “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
– Tope S. Aladenusi
Look at the ring-like scar that sits on your belly. It is called a navel or belly button but I like to call it “our first mouth.” Let’s face it; there was a time in our lives when we fed through the umbilical cord. This “mouth” was connected to our mothers’ placenta when we were in the womb, and was used to provide oxygen, nutrients and even transfer our waste to the outside world. During this phase of our lives, the mouth we currently use to eat was being developed. We got to a stage of maturity where our ‘first mouth’ had to be sealed off, so that the other mouth could take full preeminence.
Anytime I see my belly button, I remember that life is in stages. Different channels of nutrients and waste come with every stage. What generated income for you yesterday may be locked up today. Don’t keep looking back, just like a baby does not feed through the umbilical cord after it is born. The people that were instrumental in lifting you up yesterday may go all-out to pull you down today. Know when to run. It is commonly said that “a nest is good for a robin while it is an egg, but it is bad for a robin when it has wings”. Sometimes the line between success and failure may just be the ability to know when to leave the nest of our lives.
‘Moses’ may lead us out of Egypt, but it is ‘Joshua’ that will lead us to the Promised Land. Learn to know when someone stops leading you. Conditions will always change on the outside, especially as we mature in the things of God. Let’s be sensitive to see the new door that God is opening rather than singing the “things are getting bad” song of the world. For “He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does”. (Ecclesiastes 3:11- GNB). Don’t be shocked to see some closed doors this year; don’t be too naive to decipher the numerous doors of opportunities that God will bring your way. Be sensitive to know when to make that turn.
One of the challenges we face as Christians in this information age is that we have numerous information clamoring for our attention. Most of the information we are bombarded with is meant to waste our time and derail us from our purpose. Have you ever counted the number of emails, blackberry messages, Facebook updates, tweets, SMS, etc. that you receive on a daily basis that are not compatible with God’s message and direction for your life? If you did that, you may agree with me that in this age, for you to be effective as a believer, you have to be very selective.
First, you must decide to live by the rule of the new creature. Galatians 6:15-16 reads “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them …”
There is a principle that should govern our lives as believers, and this principle is 100% compatible with our new life in Christ. When we follow this rule, we experience the peace of God every day. In this rule – real success is a default setting; good health is natural; prosperity is your birth right; fulfillment is common place. Unfortunately, many believers are trying to live by worldly principles.
That is why some factory workers would rather work extra hours to get more money than pray for more hours. Many will prefer to pick a “get rich quick” secular book than spend time with the Bible. Some would do anything to have a 15 minute meeting with the top guys in their career line, and would never spend 15 minutes to speak in tongues and get an idea from God that will make those top guys come and knock at their doors in 6 months’ time. It’s quite unfortunate that the most powerful beings on earth (believers) are today using weaker, underhanded and corrupt means to get results, and are dwelling on worldly materials in a bid to be successful.
Imagine if you were in a university and you were told that there are 1000 courses. If you pass the first course, you automatically pass the remaining 999. However, you can try to work through the last 999 in order to be successful, but it is very doubtful you would make it. Which option would you go for? It’s clear right? Then why do we not follow the Word that says we should seek first God’s kingdom, and every “999 thing” in the world shall be added unto us. Isn’t that the height of foolishness? I know I have been foolish in the past, but every day I make a renewed commitment to succeed in God. Friends, we cannot afford to continue to live like the world.
No matter how good worldly principles may appear, they are not designed for our new makeup. An eagle does not go for swimming lessons. No matter how fast a train has been designed to operate, once it leaves the railway, it is finished. Beloved, stay on track! Career, social media, friends and gossips should not come before our relationship with God. Learn to stay with the Word. You will be shocked at what God will do in your life, if you can truly follow Him. When next you listen to that news or get that message on the internet, phone, any media, ask yourself: “is this principle compatible with my new nature?” If the answer is “no” for the opinion being passed across, please reach for the “ignore” or “delete” button. Have a goal to spend quality time in personal bible study and prayers every day. Make it your goal to walk with God wholeheartedly this year, and see yourself step into real success.
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).
Sometime ago, I read what David said in Psalm 23:1 (NIV) – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want“. While growing up, I had recited this verse several times, but did not appreciate the magnitude until I attempted to read it in opposite terms: The Lord is NOT my shepherd, I shall BE IN WANT! Hmmm! Cold shivers ran through my spine as I began to ponder on this.
We once employed the services of a protocol officer who assisted employees in our organization with processing our international travels. However, he had never travelled outside his country of origin. This guy was very good at his job. When you tell him you want to travel to a particular country, he would immediately reel off all the visa requirements for that country. Sometimes, he would even tell you the best route to fly, possible challenges you may encounter, and the peculiarities of the people of that country. One day I was so impressed by his depth of knowledge that I asked him which countries he had visited. His response was “sir, forget that thing; this is my work”.
As I pondered about this protocol guy recently, I realized he seemed to demonstrate a trend in Christendom today. Many so called Christians are like this protocol officer; they can tell you details about heaven but they may never get there. This is because they may have discussed their understanding of the visa requirements to heaven with others, but they have never really met the requirements themselves.
Some decades ago, it was common for believers to show a movie titled “burning hell” as a tool for evangelism. That movie tries to depict the horrors of hell and if you ever watched that movie, you may “give your life to Christ” about 10 times in 10 minutes. In many cases after the movie is shown, what we call “altar call” was made, and without any knowledge of the gospel, many responded to the call. If the fear of what was seen in a movie is the only motivation for seeking salvation, we miss out on the real offer of God’s gift of eternal life through Christ.
There was also another trend where God was described as an angry God that was bringing judgment upon all those who were not believers, and this fear made many to recite some prayers after a preacher. But that is not the visa to heaven. Some preachers even went further to describe all the terrible sins that people commit and after their message, they ask – if you want to repent from these sins, come out and say “this prayer” after me. But beloved, repentance and salvation are two different things. You can repent from an evil way and not be saved, the same way a chronic murderer can decide to quit murder, but that doesn’t make him a believer. Although repentance is expected to be visible in your life after salvation.
So what is salvation – the only visa to heaven, and how do you obtain it?
You come to a loving God through his son – Jesus Christ; you appreciate that salvation is a gift from God and not something you attain by any good works; You openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). Thus, you instantly receive the gift of God’s life and Holy Spirit in your spirit. It is “faith alone by grace alone, in Christ alone” that qualifies you for heaven. If this does not correspond with your salvation experience, please take time to make things right today, so you are not disappointed on the day of rapture. Jesus’ offer of eternal life is to be received with gratitude for His love, and there is no fear in love.
If you are not saved or not sure about your salvation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and one of our counselors will respond to schedule a conversation with you.