Marriage Series: Christian Dating and Courting

Dating. What does this word mean to a Christian in Ghana? Well, in most developed countries, dating or going on a date is doing something fun with the opposite sex but in Ghana, dating is the very first step to getting acquainted with a member of the opposite sex. This is the period that a guy and a lady decide if they are right for each other. Dating may lead to courtship and later, marriage 🙂

During the dating period, a guy and lady discuss everything except marriage plans. The courtship period is when the couple is certain they want to spend the rest of their lives together and start making plans towards marriage. Also, they make their intentions known to their parents. According to renowned counselors, there are no clear-cut timelines for the various stages but to prevent pre-marital sex, it is advised the guy and lady do not court for more than two years (I know people who disagree to this).

How to build a successful relationship

So how do you even start a successful relationship? One which will lead to courtship and then to marriage? Even the Bible establishes that it is not good for a man to be alone, so how do you identify the right person especially if you are a Christian. The first character to look out for in a prospective partner is someone who shares in your faith. The Bible categorically states that believers should not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). That peculiar feeling that you have especially at the beginning of the relationship, the butterflies in the stomach. Yes, that feeling – it fades away. It does after a few months of being with each other. How do you sustain the love if the person does not share the same faith as you?

As Christians, we base our love on 1 Corinthians 13 and not on that weird feeling at the pit of your stomach. People outside the faith have different opinions and beliefs on what love ought to be which is quite different from ours. Never compromise on that – do not allow the stomach flutter to direct you. Fall in love with someone who shares your faith and you will share your testimony with us 🙂

Watch out for other factors that account for successful relationships which lead to marriage.

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The Marriage Series: Weddings

I would be a liar if I mentioned I wasn’t a big fan of marriage and wedding ceremonies. Wedding ceremonies are beautiful. I always get blown away by the colour combinations, the decor, the music, the bride’s dress, the bridal party and all that there is to the ceremony. Personally, I attend weddings to watch how the couple celebrate their love and my most favorite part of the ceremony is when the couple share with the guests how they met 🙂

Weddings are fun, no doubt about that. It is the period where family and friends gather to celebrate the union of a man and woman who have come to the conclusion they would want to spend their lives together. It is awesome but in the celebration of love, a lot of couples get carried away. They forget about the union and make the ceremony their main focus.

Interestingly, marriage is NOT the wedding ceremony. Neither is it the pomp and pageantry that accompanies the ceremony. According to renowned counselors, the wedding ceremony is the vows that are made by the couple in the presence of God, with the guests as the witnesses to the vow.

I am not saying spending money on the ceremony is not important. If you have the money and you can afford to feed the entire town during your wedding, why not? Just do it but if you are a young couple from a humble background with other dreams which requires money, then a smaller wedding is best option for you.

Couples who had small and very intimate marriage ceremonies provide the following tips:

1. Stick to your budget, no matter what”

2. Do not announce to the world you are getting married so you cut down on the numbers that attend.

3. Do not entertain too many opinions. They are likely to inflate your budget.

Keep these tips in mind when preparing for your wedding ceremony. There are other websites that provide additional information, tools and tips on how to reduce your budget when organizing a wedding ceremony. One of such sites is Pinterest .

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Instead of breaking the bank to organize a huge wedding, why don’t you invest some time into some “hot” prayers for the union itself? A couple getting married in September are are doing one of the most amazing things ever. The couple with their bridal party meet once in a week to commit the ceremony and union into the hands of God.

God is the architect of marriage. In Genesis 2:18, after He had created Adam, He saw that Adam was alone therefore created a helper (Eve) for him. If you have plans to tying the knot, why don’t you start putting everything into the hands of God, the one who initiated the union?

The Mystery of Marriage

I get subtly amused when I attend a wedding ceremony and the certificate is signed and presented to the couple. The words that usually accompany that is the fact that marriage is the only institution where the students are presented with a certificate before the actual course is taken. Upon serious thought, I know this comment is true. I believe there are a lot of couples out there who wish they had more information about this institution before they attended it.

Although I am not married yet, I sit down to assess ‘marriage’ and I am convinced it is a real mystery. I always wonder how two different people from different backgrounds are able to stay together all their lives. Looking back to boarding house in senior secondary school to college, there were moments I had fights with my roommates, some even good friends and in those times, what comforted me was the fact that we were going to part ways in a year’s time but in marriage, there is no way you can part ways after a year or two. Marriage is forever except for death separates the two.

To us Christians, marriage is not just a union of two people but a covenant with God where divorce is simply not an option. Men of God can only separate the couple only when alive is at stake. That is why it is important to really choose your partner with a lot of caution.

Who are you choosing?

For me, that is one of the most important decisions any person will ever make in life. The Bible does not joke when it tells us not to be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). At least if you share the same faith with your partner, the union is likely to succeed. There are other important factors that make marriage work and most of them depend on what you did during the dating and the courtship period. What are you talking about now that you are in dating or courting? Are you discussing the future when you meet or you are busily “touching?”

Marriage is not a child’s play. As my pastor correctly puts it, “it is not like going to a shop to buy items and if you do not like it, you come back to exchange it for something else.” Marriage is for a lifetime.

What are you compromising for the relationship that you find yourself in? For the women, it is important to bear in mind that your husband is going to be the head. Will you be proud to have this man lead you and the family in some years to come? Or you desperately want to get married so your family stops bothering you?

to be continued

This is the first part of the Relationship and Marriage Series. If you have any opinions on this mystery (marriage), share them with us.

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Quiet Time: The Most Overlooked Christian Practice

Quiet time is one of the most overlooked practices of Christians. I remember a few years ago back in Senior High School; a bell was sounded for us to observe 15 minutes of quiet time. Some seniors saw that as an opportunity to harass us the juniors, therefore most us sat quietly during this time only to avoid being punished. Personally I sat on my bed, stared into space or pretended to read something only to avoid being punished. I know most of my colleagues did that too.

A lot of Christians overlook this practice because we have been practicing almost our lives and it has become a ritual. Even if we observe it or not, it doesn’t really matter. Soon we accept it as a mere ritual and even when we skip it for months or even years and we do not feel guilty. We only shrug our shoulders and say, “Jesus understands”

Why quiet time is important

Even Jesus Christ (the son of God) during his time on earth made an effort to seek the face of his Father in the mornings (Mark 1:35). Other great men in the Bible like Daniel (Daniel 6:10), David (Psalm 62:1) and Moses (Exodus 34:4) received strength from the Lord through their quiet times. Such people sought the face of God before they did anything with their day.

We all need strength and the grace to go through each day. Our source of strength is God. He is the only way who knows the end from the beginning so why don’t we acknowledge that by just spending a few minutes of our day to seek his face? We can do that by reading the word, spending some time to meditate on it and to praying to the master architecture.

This does not come easy; therefore the need to make a conscious effort to practice it. I will always remember what a good friend said about quiet time. “We are all destined for greatness and the devil knows about that. He will find ways and means of making you miss that greatness that you are destined for and he can do that each day if we allow him to”

Let’s not give the devil the chance. Let us ensure we commit our ways to God. Have you had your quiet time today?

The Isaiah Chapter 58 Fast

Christian Blog GhanaIn our previous post, we established the importance of embarking on a fast as an individual or a group. Most churches embark on the collective fast like the International Central Gospel Church which fasts in the month of July.

Most Christians are aware of the benefits of embarking on a fast but there are a number of misconceptions that needs clarification, for instance:

1. Fasting is not a hunger strike, neither is it starvation.

2. The number of hours that you “starve” yourself does not guarantee an answered prayer.

3. Do not pack up your breakfast or lunch to eat later when you break the fast.

4. Do not keep unforgiveness or hatred in your heart while you fast.

5. Do not go through the fast as if it is a ritual.

If you are not too certain about what fasting is and how it is supposed to be observed, please read and mediate on Isaiah 58. Let me know what you discovered.

Fasting: Does it achieve any Results at all?

There are a lot of Christians who grumble whenever they hear they or the church is embarking on a fast. Why do they feel that way? They do feel like that because it is the period they will shed all the weight they have gained during the year. Another reason is that most Christians see fasting as another church ritual which they have to go through to avoid feeling guilty. As to whether they will achieve any results with the fast, they do not really know.

Why is it necessary to fast?

Fasting is important because Jesus Christ Himself observed it. He embarked on a dry fast for 40 days and nights (Matthew 4:2) and was able to resist the devil’s temptations.

Fasting brings about humility in believers (Psalm 69:10).

It also increases the level of self-control in the believer (1 Corinthians 7:5).

People fasted in the Bible and they got answers to their prayers (Ezra 8:23). These are a few reasons why Christians ought to fast and pray.

Are there special kinds of fast that an individual can select?

There is the dry fast which Jesus Christ Himself practiced.

Daniel in the Old Testament avoided delicacies, meat and red wine when he was fasting (Daniel 10:3). There is also the type of fast that individuals abstain from their favourite dishes.

What are the steps to take in order to have an effectual fast?

  1. It is important to have a focus and an aim for fasting. Before you embark on this spiritual exercise, note down the reason(s). If it is a collective fast, agree on the fast’s focus.
  2. Have some scripture to back what you will be praying for during the fast. Read the scripture, memorise and pray with it.
  3. Reflect on the scripture during the day. If you are employed, break from your schedule to meditate on the word and pray.
  4. When breaking the fast, find a quiet place to meditate on the verses you have read in the day and pray before you break the fast.

What should be avoided when fasting?

  1. Chatting unnecessarily – This is the time you need to read and meditate on the word of God.
  2. Announcing you are fasting – This is the period some Christians announce to the world they are fasting therefore they need to be excused and sympathized with but the Bible in Mathew 6:18 asks us to refrain from that.
  3. Making it a mere ritual – A number of Christians make fasting a ritual; something they are doing because the entire church is involved. Avoid this mistake. Have expectations!

What is the proper way of Fasting?

The Bible summarises that in Isaiah 58:3:9 –

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Dealing with Disappointments as a Believer

A few years after completing Senior High School, being the smart person that I was, I knew I had already made it into the University. I bought the forms, filled them out and I knew in September the next year, I was going there. The thought of going to live by myself and not be under strict rules like the way it was in senior high was exciting and I really looked forward to that.

Soon the selection process began and the admission list was released. When I went to check, my name was not on the list. I continued checking the list from time to time to see if my name had been omitted accidentally but to my disappointment, I never found my name on the list so I did not make it to the University in that particular year. I was disappointed, devastated and very sad.  That was the biggest blow of my life then.

I began questioning God because, in my mind, I was a good person; I never did the bad things people my age were engaging in so why didn’t I make it to the University? Almost a decade after that incident, I look back and realise that everything that happened to me was part of God’s plan for my life.

One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11, where God says that He knows the plans that he thinks towards us – plans of good and not of evil, plans to give us hope and a future. When you claim that verse to yourself, you will be amazed that things will not be moving on as you are expecting but you’ll not be devastated.

Trials like what I faced, I believe also turned me into a stronger believer than I was. The Bible in 1 Corinthians 10:13 say,

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 

I believe God provided me with the necessary ‘tools’ to overcome that disappointment. I began to see all the good things around me as gifts from God rather than things that I got through my own abilities.

I do not know what you have gone through or what you are going through now but what I learned through my experience was, if you trust in God, everything including the bitter pill you are swallowing now, will turn to something sweet for you.

Why don’t you surrender everything to Him now?