A Special Good Friday

Reminiscing over how we celebrated Good Friday several decades ago
Where we wore mourning clothes and went to church with tears in our eyes
Kneeling before the crucifix and giving it a kiss
Back at home, we did nothing but watched the enactment of the death of the Saviour.
We stayed away from red meat (whatever that meant).

Today's Good Friday was different
The weather was cloudy as it seems to be every year
Sounds of slow tuned Christ-centered music was played on the radio
While some discussed the president's address promising citizens free electricity in this Covid-19 era
No physical church service this year

I did enjoy my quiet time though
Probably the highlight of my day
Initially planned to read about the death of the Saviour to commemorate this day but read Mark 7 instead
The first part of the chapter criticizes those who choose traditions, rules and regulations over a personal relationship with God
While admonishing us to be more weary of what we bring out as its impact is greater

The Pharisees upheld their practice of hand and feet washing
And giving ostensibly to the poor
The modern Christian may be like the Pharisees
Pretending to love while our hearts are distant from God
Perhaps that is the reason the earth is now on a reset mode,
providing us with a chance to reflect on our deeds and practices. 

It's been a special good Friday. 

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5 Reasons Online Church Services may not be for All

All of a sudden, Sundays or Saturdays do not imply wearing one’s favourite dress, leaving home and finding a physical location where we are ushered to a seat to pray, sing, dance, listen to a sermon and fellowship. In the last couple of days, attending a church service, for a lot of people, has a whole new meaning which implies turning on your Facebook or Youtube or Twitter and watching your Pastors preach, thanks to the Covid-19.

Even though a lot of people are quite excited about ‘churching’ online, there exist some challenges or conditions that make this mode of worshiping not suitable for everyone and here are some of the reasons:

  1. Internet and Smartphone Accessibility: This is the truth. A number of us in Africa do not have access to the internet or the electronic device that enables us to access the internet (now powering our church services). Internet accessibility /usage is mostly common in the urban areas and quite limited to a specific age group (usually the youth). According to the Africa Internet User Stats, only 37.8 % of Ghana’s population has access to the internet. Out of the population that has access to the internet, 5 million are Facebook subscribers. As a social media manager for my church, when I shared the mode through which the church was going to worship now, the question someone posted was, “Are we now cutting off those who do not have smart devices?
  2. The cost of streaming online: According to another report compiled in 2018 by the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Ghana’s internet cost is the fourth cheapest in West Africa but genuinely, how many people can afford to stream an hour or two’s service online without checking their remaining data or receiving notification for the telecommunication network on the amount of data they have consumed. Data cost does not provide individuals the peace of mind to enjoy the church services online. For the church to also constantly stream online, they need to re-strategize and that may include getting sophisticated devices to produce quality videos/streams. This may come at an extra cost and how many churches can afford that?
  3. The level of distraction is higher for the viewer: Last week Sunday, I vowed in my heart to involve myself fully when my church started streaming. I successfully prayed and sang and immediately the sermon began, there was a sort of disruption from the internet providers making the viewing difficult. It was at that point that my little girl started disturbing to which I assumed that she was hungry. That was how I ended up in the kitchen to prepare food for her and everyone and when I got back, the service had ended.
  4. There is some amount of belonging when we meet physically: After working hard all week, some of us genuinely look forward to getting into a physical space to pray, sing, listen to a sermon and meet other members to fellowship. Sometimes, a word from another church member may encourage you or someone really singing and crying during prayers may touch your heart to also seek God earnestly. So how do we ensure we fellowship on these virtual platforms? What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.Psalm 55:14
  5. Some churches and pastors are late to the online party: In the past few weeks, I can almost feel some sort of awkwardness and shakiness in a number of pastors who, hitherto this pandemic, were very confident standing in front of large gatherings to preach. It seems nerve-wracking as some of these pastors, who were born before the era of social media, are now being forced to stand in front of cameras and preach to an empty auditorium or office of a sort. Some churches did not really take the effort to build an online community and now that most services need to be held online, there is some struggle to even get members to watch.

This period, indeed, is very unusual (and we pray it ends soon) but there are several lessons that needs to be picked up by individuals, churches, Christians etc. We pray that whatever lessons we pick up now will be used to make our lives better after this global pandemic. Remember to pray for the world.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Data Sources: Internet World Stats dot com

Alliance for Affordable Internet (2018)

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COVID-19 Sadly Revealing all We've Taken for Granted

Ever since Ghana started confirming cases of the novel corona virus (covid-19), I have not been very productive. All I find myself doing is following tweets on my personal handle to know the latest. I think I am currently suffering from the effect of its information overload and I am not proud to say I feel a little anxious on how things will eventually turn out.

Speaking about my country, we cannot boast of the best healthcare systems and the number of health workers are frankly inadequate. I watch how countries with better healthcare systems are struggling to contain the corona virus and I look at my country’s and I shudder (not too proud of this either).

Currently, Ghana has recorded 16 new cases with some suspicions of community transfers. My work place is among the ones that has been shut down because of the threat of the virus so I’ve been in isolation.

It has been my fervent prayer that God shows scientists and pharmacologists and pharmacists what is needed to fight this virus and after we successfully kick it out, I resolve:

  1. Never to take the gift of life for granted – Most of us wake up each day, muffle something that sounds like a prayer and go about our duties but when you begin to see the number of deaths being recorded as a result of a virus, you’d realise that indeed, life and good health are gifts from God.
  2. Never to trust in my own abilities – There is an advert on DSTV where a man seem to have made a lot of plans for himself and keeps using the phrase, “what could go wrong?” I think that was the phase our generation found itself in until recently. We seem to have put our hopes in our own abilities and what technology can do for us but this virus seem to have ruffled a lot of feathers. Now, we see that science is limited, thus, only a greater power can help us fight this. Even the most powerful world leaders are setting special days to seek God’s face.
  3. Never to be lackadaisical when it comes to praying for my country and the world – When the church organises prayer retreats and the topic is, ‘Now, let’s pray for financial breakthroughs.’ That is when you see fervency in the prayer of believers but immediately that is switched to ‘pray for our country and the world,‘ the level of urgency in our prayers becomes low. Covid-19 shows the need of praying constantly for our own country and the world as whole.

Even though I admit that these are trying times for everyone, I believe that God is showing us how limited we are as individuals, thus, the need to rely solely on Him. I still say my prayer for the world in these special times and I believe without any doubt that we’ll overcome this.

Let’s continue to observe the rules of social distancing, not touching our faces, washing our hands with soap and water and sanitizing them regularly. I trust that we’ll open our eyes in a few days to realise that this period is over.

In the meantime, let’s remember what God has promised us in Psalm 91:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Dear God: Parenting

Dear God,

This blog topic has been ringing in my spirit for quite some time now. I suspect You want me to write about it and be as plain and truthful as possible but before I begin, I know You are doing well. Watching us while your prophecies about the world unfold.

Now, I’d like to thank You for making me a parent. It isn’t a role that I take for granted. Like marriage, parenting is not a role that we attend a school before we qualify to be one. It is thrust on us immediately we receive the beautiful gift of a child from You and we learn as we go along. To be candid, the role is tough, especially, for those us who are reflective and ponder over every situation.

Most times, I look at this beautiful toddler and I am so confident I am being the great custodian. I pat myself at the back when I try to ensure she is eating healthy, growing beautifully, learning and doing the right things as You’d want us to do. At other times, I get confused and begin to ask myself questions, particularly, now that she is talking (very tricky stage). For, instance, one Sunday evening, she used a not-so-good word. Both her dad and I were so shocked and we inquired where she learnt that word from. She said, “Mummy said it.” I was stunned. I wondered when I used that word for her to pick up that easily. Of all the words that we’ve been using and teaching her, this was the only one she could use (this is me thinking too much). When I was driving her friend and her to the nursery school a few days later, a taxi driver was right in my lane and kept prompting me to use the other lane instead. I kept driving towards him and in my anger, I insulted the driver. Aloud. It was then that it dawned on me that I still had two toddlers in the car who will probably go and quote me in their conversation (Now, I have the Holy Spirit in the form of toddlers who keep me in check 😊).

I really thought I was patient till I had to share my roof with a toddler. I cannot recount the number of times I had lost my cool all because a little girl had refused to take a meal I had carefully planned and prepared just for her. I think about all the resources, including the precious time, that I had wasted to get her that meal and she will fold her arms and say, “I don’t like.” Or after a tiring day at work and you tell her to sit down so we complete her homework and that is the time that she wants to do every other thing and not the homework (why they give these ones assignments is a topic for another day).

These are the times that I question myself: Am I playing this role right? Am I disciplining enough? Will she and her siblings turn out right? To hit or not to hit her? Looking at her and other kids, I have come to understand exactly what the Bible describes as a ‘baby Christian’ and I really hope I don’t act like one.

Today, I pray for all parents. I ask that You’ll provide us with long life so we bring these little ones up like You want us to. I also pray that you’ll empower us to get everything right. It is also my prayer you’ll make us more environmentally-conscious that we leave a beautiful earth behind for these young ones to also come and enjoy (parenting has made me more conscious of what we’re doing currently and how that will impact the earth and future generations).

I believe it is well because You are in charge.

Love,

©

After the Miracle, What Next?

Yesterday, you were praying for a job, a partner, a child,                                                   a car, healing, financial breakthrough, good marriage.                    You prayed to God for assistance to break the negative habit.             You asked God to touch the heart of that brother or sister that you've been evangelising to. You wanted them to know Christ.
You fasted, cried, meditated on His word, listened to sermons, prayed in tongues and in your own understanding. You anointed yourself several times in a day. You sowed seeds on the altar, you knelt with your hands raised and with tears, you rolled on the floor seeking earnestly for that breakthrough. When you felt like giving up because of the negative thoughts that filled your mind, you cast them out and chastised yourself.
You did not give up. You kept trusting even when your family, friends and loved ones taunted you for the faith you were exhibiting. Indeed, they thought you were crazy. Give up already! Your God is probably deaf. He doesn't listen to prayers. Certainly not yours. Or you have committed a sin? Is there something you are not telling? 
You know what they are saying behind you. Their taunting sometimes gets to you but you reassure yourself. Deep within your heart, you know God is working. You press on earnestly and one day, God answers your prayer.
You are gifted with the job. There, you find a spouse. Your miracle child is lying in the cot. Your bank account smells fresh because of the regular transactions. Your dream house sits beautifully on that hill. Miraculously, you are healed of that disease. The brother has now given his life to Christ. He is now serving as the chief usher in the church.
You smile. Indeed your God has finally listened to your prayer. What happens afterwards? What do you do when God gives you the breakthrough? After the miracle, what next?  

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Guest Post: Pornography. Me. The Church

I love guest posting, I think I am more confident on other people’s blogs than I am on mine. Even though I talk about deep issues on my blog, I think I talk deeper issues in other people’s blogs.

Now, the post: I am a Christian woman, born and raised in a Christian family and was addicted to pornography. I wrote a little bit about it in my book, because I didn’t have the confidence to talk more about it. I was introduced to it when I was very young, in my teens. It became a close companion when I was in the university, that stage when I did not know how to deal with my emotions and sexual desires. After graduating from college, I reached a point where I made a conscious decision to fight it, and so every day, I woke up and prayed to God for help to win the war over this temptation. Currently, I have set my Twitter page in such a way that no inappropriate content appears in my feed because that could trigger unwanted desires. I am always, and consciously on the watch, praying to God to give me strength in this weakness, yet I battle it alone in silence and behind closed doors, like many other Christians.

Now that you know about pornography and me, let’s get to pornography and the church.

In this day and age, where we are loud, open and very bold, you might think we will be talking about this issue. You would think we will be open now that 64% of the people watching porn are between the ages of 13-24 (Barna Group Survey) and the church would know that not just 21 million men are addicted to porn but women and kids are also on this new drug.

Sin is not picky; it goes with anyone who falls for it and as we are being taught in the church to save ourselves for marriage but not being told how we can fight or deal with our hormones, emotions, sexual temptations and desires, we are left in guilt and fight this sin in secrecy. I personally want to advise pastors to talk about this issue because the times are changing but holiness isn’t. Holiness is still the goal and without it no one can see the Father, therefore, pastors need to talk about this openly and make themselves less judgmental and more accepting to the people who watch porn. They should receive and help these people because we, as the body of Christ, all get hurt when one is hurt.

Here are some helpful tips that I use to fight pornography and I know it’ll be useful to you too:

  • Talk to a friend about it and let her/ him keep you accountable
  • Like all other sins, pornography feels good when you are viewing it and then, you feel dirty and guilty later. After sometime, you thirst again for the water that leaves you thirsty still. What I have done is to write down all the ways pornography makes me feel, and how I would feel leaving it, and I have a vision of the woman that I want to be in the future, and how she is affected by the addiction now. This can be posted on the wall as a reminder and to encourage you in your fight.
  • Follow Christian blogs and read books about freedom from pornography addiction (I would recommend some on my blog).
  • Put some sort of control on your phone (I personally use parental control where a friend can act like my parent and get notified when I search anything related to porn, and it blocks my searches and so nothing shows up).
  • Tell your pastor and parents (I am yet to do this too).
  • Write in your journal about your struggles.
  • Connect with others and keep each other accountable.
  • Some things cannot end without prayer and fasting regardless of your level of discipline, and so, pray and fast. I personally have heard testimonies of different people who have been healed by God miraculously, or even slowly from pornography addiction and so I still have hope that there is healing for even me… and You.     

(Now that I have shared this, I think I will be brave enough to talk about this in my blog).   

This is a guest post submitted by Eunice Tossy. Eunice is a 24-year old Tanzanian blogger who is still learning and growing. She shares her experiences on her blog, http://abiblegirl.com/ . You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram : @eunietj and on YouTube: Eunice Tossy.

Book Review: Francine Rivers’ ‘The Masterpiece’

The Masterpiece was the huge book I got for myself last Christmas. With a more busy schedule currently, I wondered when and how I was going to read the almost 500-page Christian romance novel but surprisingly, I took two days to read the entire book. Uh-huh! That shows how gripping the story line was.

As usual, Francine Rivers did not disappoint with this novel. The two main characters – Roman Velasco (aka the Bird) was the rich, handsome, famous and accomplished (in the eyes of everyone) artist and Grace Moore – the rather simple, mother of one and a divorcee, who came to seek employment as Velasco’s assistant. Their story gently develops into a simmering romance which none of them was willing to admit to until later in the story. Hell broke loose when Velasco finally proposed in the manner that he was familiar with but sending Grace packing out of his life in the process. Did she come back? If yes, how did it happen? That is why you need to read this book for yourself. 😂

After reading several of Francine Rivers’ books – And the Shofar Blew, The Atonement Child and Scarlet Thread, I’ll definitely vote Velasco as my favourite character. He was affected by experiences from his childhood and that defined who he became as an adult. Even in his ‘raw state,’ I could sense some innocence in his actions. I actually found him very masculine and charming and wouldn’t mind meeting him if he was real. You can say I fell in love with the character. 🙈🙈🙈😏😏😏

Anyway, Francine Rivers always has strong underlying themes in her stories and even though they are entertaining and could be full of suspense, they teach loads of lessons. For instance, the two main characters both had disturbing pasts but were influenced differently by them. This raises the issue of the amount of power we give to past events/experiences and its influences. How do you know whether you are giving the ghosts and shadows from your pasts too much space in your life? This book provides the reader with some insight into this subject.

There are several other lessons that can be taken out of the book including dealing with disappointments, learning to walk away from the people you love for God/the Holy Spirit to work on them, childhood trauma, among others.

The Masterpiece is a beautiful and well-researched story. I like how the past lives of the two main characters were intricately interwoven into the main plot. The reader gets the opportunity to appreciate the life of those in the creative arts, particularly, graffiti artists. The ending, like many Christian novels and the typical Francine Rivers’ style, was very much expected and a little predictable but that did not take away the niceness out of the story. I like it but not as much as I enjoyed And the Shofar Blew.

I will rate it 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it over and over again to anyone looking to read a book full of lessons or just for leisure.

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One Day I met with an Atheist

One day, I met with an atheist
He challenged me
He told me my ‘religion’ wasn’t real
He said Jesus did not exist
Well, not quite
He said Christianity was a form of mental slavery
He questioned the content of the Bible and went ahead to say those stories were fabricated.

He challenged my faith
Step by step
He provided me with reasons
He said the exodus did not happen because scuba divers, after several attempts, had no evidence to it.
He said Christmas was not real and so was Easter
He laughed at me and admonished me to seek enlightenment
He pleaded with me to not follow blindly.

I listened with rapt attention because this was not my first experience with one of this kind.
I once fell into the ditch by allowing one to lead me.
That one succeeded because I started to doubt God’s existence
I decided to rely on me but instead of feeling empowered, wise and knowledgeable
I felt distraught and empty
I was confused.
I felt lost.
I had fallen.

I was locked in a cage.
Nothing made sense and then I decided to do the U-turn
I came back and pleaded for forgiveness.
I sought the presence of the Holy Spirit and vowed never to let go of Him.
The other side wasn’t meant for me
What I needed was His presence, love, grace, goodness and mercy
I found it and was overjoyed.
I prefer to face battles with Him than none without Him.
I have found peace and I won’t be convinced.
Not this time, my friend.
Not this time.

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On Keeping One’s Virginity for the Wedding Night

Facebook groups are becoming popular and an easy way of wasting ones time killing boredom. Different topics are discussed by individuals from all walks of life and people seem very comfortable sharing their opinions quite freely. A question I pounced on in one of the groups read:

The comments underneath the post varied and you’ll be shocked (or not shocked) at the reactions. Majority simply downplayed the importance of keeping one’s virginity. A guy remarked,

“Why should I waste my honeymoon breaking the virginity of my wife. I want to enjoy and not be hearing moans of pain,” 🤷🏾‍♀️

A lot of women also commented they would like to see, know and ‘taste’ their husbands to ensure they loved the size and its ‘power’ before saying ‘I do.’ 👀

It looks like the subject of keeping one’s virginity is archaic, has expired and simply lost its significance, judging from the remarks of the commentators.

It is very disheartening to know that this is the point we’ve gotten to – a place where sex is being dished out like mere handshakes and abstinence means NOTHING at all.

Yes, I agree that marrying as a virgin does not guarantee a successful marriage but even if you use logic to analyze, keeping your virginity saves you so much stress.

If you are woman, for instance:

1. You may not need a menses/ovulation calculating app when you’re not sexually active.

2. When your menses delay for a couple of days, you’re not that frightened because you know you’ve done ‘nothing.’

3. Abortion, sexually transmitted diseases and birth controls are subjects that won’t even matter to you.

4. You can dump that guy because you haven’t done ‘anything’ with them. This helps you to choose the right partner.

5. Your conscience is always clear.

For the men (yes, yes, you must keep your virginity too):

1. You’ll not connive with any woman to go commit abortion because you aren’t ready to have that child, thus, not living with the guilt.

2. In case she keeps the pregnancy, you’ll not be forced to marry her.

3. Your judgments are also not clouded when it comes to selecting a life partner. You can drop her if she does not meet your criteria.

4. Sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methods are not your worries. You’re indeed a ‘free’ man till you get married.

Don’t allow the world to make you believe that keeping your virginity/abstinence means nothing. What is more beautiful than keeping yourselves for each other till after the marriage ceremony.

The Bible even admonishes us that we shouldn’t deceive ourselves because we’ll definitely reap whatever we sow. Freely dishing out sex to everyone will definitely come with its consequences.

If we (both men and women) would stick to what the Bible has instructed, most of the issues we face in our marriages concerning our sexuality, including, making comparisons with our husband and a previous sexual partner will not even come up. Both of you will enjoy your ‘naivety’ and learn what works best.

If you are at a crossroad, trying to decide whether you should keep your virginity of not, take this from someone who abstained, GUARD IT. It’s worth the wait and will save you a lot of trouble. For those who have lost it for whatever reason, don’t be sad and bitter, you can still protect what you have. If you think it’s a challenge keeping it, the Holy Spirit is always there to help you. Let Him know what your difficulties are. He’ll direct you.

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