Our church is in Warri/Effurun Nigeira!
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20)
I was born in Communist Romania (in 1954). Like most of my contemporaries I was a convinced atheist. We were thought in school that there is no God, no devil, no heaven or hell. We were also told that there is nothing like the ‘spirit world’. We are to work very hard and leave something to our children. That was life as it was explained to us. I believed it! I met Richmond, who is now my husband (and who is a Nigerian) in the medical school. We were class mates. We got married husband and I came to Nigeria with him in 1980. We both worked as doctors here between 1980 and 2000. When I came here, I was surprised how religious the Nigerians were (Christian, Muslim and Pagan). I saw their religion as an effect of illiteracy and poverty. I ignored, resisted and rejected the religion of my patients. But against all odds, the Holy Spirit arrested me! He convicted me of my sins, especially of pride, unbelief and self righteousness.
I became saved in 1986. The old me died on that Cross where my Savior shed His Blood for me. The Holy Spirit filled me! Since then, my new life is a testimony to the grace and the power of the only Living God! My husband and I are in full time ministry now! This is the truth: no religion, no doctrine, no teaching, no philosophy or social theory can stand against the name of Jesus Christ! To God be all the glory!
WONDERFUL SERMON PREACHED BY PASTOR RICHMOND LEIGH, MY HUSBAND!
Pastor Richmond Leigh continued preaching on the topic of ‘Marriage’. His text was taken from the Book of Ephesians. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:25-33; NKJ).
Today, Pastor Richmond Leigh addressed the husbands. He said that the great Apostle Paul made some remarkable statements here. He tells us what Christ has done for the Church and why He has done it. From this he deducts what is the duty of the husband towards his wife. He says that just as there is a mystical union between Christ and the Church, so the husband and wife must be united! The union between Christ and His Body is a mystery. In a similar way the union between husband and his wife is both spiritual and physical. This is also a mystery.
These revelations about marriage are based on the Word of God only! These are spiritual matters that are absolutely essential to our marriage relationship, that it may be successful! But there are other matters, though important, but not absolutely essential to the success of marriage. In these series we are dealing only with the spiritual matters that are absolutely essential to the success of our marriages. Once you seek God in your marriage, thru the study of His Word and prayer, every other thing will fall in its place! This is the Word of God!
In the days of the Apostles, there were three Greek words translated as ‘love’: eros, phileo and agape. The first one is ‘eros’. It describes the erotic lustful ‘love’ of the flesh. It comes from the Adamic nature. It is selfish, sensual and very hard to control. This word does not appear in the New Testament but it is implied. This is the word that today describes a man ‘falling in love’ with a woman.
The second word is ‘phileo’. It describes the love between brothers, sisters or friends. It is better translated ‘I am fond of you’. It is the root of words as philanthropy (Helping your brother) or Philadelphia (Brotherly love).
The third word translated ‘love’ is ‘agape’. This describes the sacrificial love of Christ. Each time the Bible says that ‘God loves us’, it uses the agape love. It is the love of the true shepherd who gives his life for the sheep. For example: “God demonstrates His own (agape) love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). As sinners we deserved punishment, to be tyrannized, but the agape love of God sent Christ to die for us. This is love! Not to punish and destroy, but to redeem! The husband must love his wife in the same way. Not to look for her faults and punish, but to teach his wife, to help her and show her mercy no matter what her weakness is. As you can see, the New Testament raises the standard of love to a greater height. Agape love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the believer (Gal 5:22). The husband must love his wife like God loves him. Please notice that this type of love does not exist in the unbelieving husband. The man who is not saved cannot exercise this type of love. The command to love like Christ loves the church is given only to the believing husband. God will not ask you to do what you are incapable of doing! But to exercise agape love the husband must be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18). Practically, one of the ways a man can show that he is born again and filled with the Holy Spirit is the way he behaves towards his wife, when they are at home. This is test! Look at the countenance of a man’s wife and you will know the truth about the husband!
The first injunction to the husbands is this: “Husbands, love your wives!” This love is the great emphasis in the godly marriage. Please observe that love is an injunction. It is God’s command to the married men! In respect to the wives, the controlling attitude is submission. The controlling idea to the husbands is love! In other words, for a marriage to be successful, the wives must submit and the husbands must love! That does not mean that the wives should not love their husbands or that the husbands should never submit to the counsel of their wives. Submission and love are both basic spiritual attitudes in the Kingdom of God and must be observed by all.
Describing the love of the husband towards his wife, the Apostle Paul does not rule out the other two elements of love: eros and phileo. There are many Christians who are in trouble over this matter. The Roman Catholic doctrine of celibacy is ultimately based on this misconception. They insist that all priests must be celibate unto death. They seem to think that the Christian is no longer human; he no longer has natural desires. They regard sex as evil. That is a wrong doctrine. The reason why they went astray is because they do not understand the doctrine of the union of the believer and Christ. This is the truth: in Christ, the believer has been crucified, died, been buried and raised with Christ! He is now seated in the heavenly places with Christ. This spiritual amazing union applies to our souls only. Our ‘mortal bodies; are not crucified with Christ. Sin lies in the body. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are commanded to sanctify, to mortify, to kill the misdeeds of the body of sin. “If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13). According to the Bible, sex is created by God, for procreation and for pleasure. It is to be used only within the boundaries of marriage. The devil did not create sex. God di it! But all sexual activities outside marriage are sinful and are prohibited.
The natural man cannot receive or manifest the agape love. These scriptures are also a warning against marrying unbelievers! No matter how nice, generous and religious they seem to be, the unbelieving husbands can never love their wives with this supernatural agape love of God! Agape love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit found only in the children of God. Husbands, you must be born again and filled with the Holy Spirit to be able to love your wives with this sacrificial agape love that never fails! Then your wives will submit to you without fear. This is the Bible’s ‘formula’ of success for all godly marriages!
In the marriage, the phileo love must manifest too. Husband, you must not only love your wife, but you must like her as a person! Your wife must be your friend too! You cannot marry a woman that you hate to spend time with. You must like her character, as friend likes a friend. You cannot ignore certain natural affinities. Study each other during the period of courtship. If two people marry based on eros love alone, that marriage will soon fall apart. The effect of phileo love lasts much longer than that of eros love. No matter how great the passion of sexual love, it is good that the people who get married should have similar affinities and enjoy doing things together. The phileo love has a lasting calming effect to the marriage. But never forget! The greatest love of all is agape love. This love will sanctify the eros and the phileo love in the marriage. “Agape Love suffers long and is kind… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1Cor 13: 4-8). Worship the Lord!
“Test the spirits for not all are from God!” (1Jn 4:1)
The Volucella is an insect that has a strong resemblance to the humble bee. She too eats the nectar of flowers. She abuses this resemblance to introduce herself fraudulently into the bee nests and she deposits her eggs there. The bees do not seem to identify the foreign insects. It looks like they trust them, for they meet on top of flowers, eating the same nectar and becoming friends over there. When the eggs of Volucella have hatched, their larvae, which have two mandibles, devour the larvae of their hosts, the bees. The visitor’s children kill the host’s children! Can you imagine that? This is the return they make for the hospitality they have received!
What is the lesson? Not all ‘Christians’ are truly Christians! The church is always a ‘mixed multitude’. There are many unbelievers who are very religious, very gifted, generous, hard working, humble in appearance and nice in manners! Only the Holy Spirit knows the difference between the genuine and the fake! This is my advice: be slow to make friends! Pray about every person you want to call ‘friend’! Look for ‘quality’ and not for ‘quantity’. Do not live in fear or in isolation, but be careful! There are many false brethren, false prophets and deceivers! They take advantage of your kindness, loneliness and hospitality! They are also fast in detecting your foolishness or ignorance! Soon, they come to parasite your home, changing its spiritual atmosphere by bringing strange, poisonous ideas. Be careful with the people you trust with the vision of your life, with your prayer requests, or people you call friends! Be careful with the people you open your heart to and tell your most intimate desires!
This is my prayer for you: The Holy Spirit will help you to locate the true believers, the real friends and the faithful humble helpers in your ministry! In Jesus’ name!
(In the picture you see the fake ‘bee’ called Volucella)
”For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2Tim 1:7)
“She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet” (PV 31:21)
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (1Peter 3:1-6)
The women’ fellowship was very good. It was raining hard outside but the sisters came to hear the word of God. We prayed and praised God! The sermon was about fear. We identified it as our enemy, confronted and rejected it, in the name of Jesus!
Fear is a very common emotion. Fear is defined as a strong emotion caused by a perceived danger. Both men and women fear many things and situations. Their responses fall into two basic categories: fight or flight. Most of the time men fight the enemy and women run away from him. As wives we are commanded to submit to our own husbands in the way Sarah submitted to Abraham, calling him ‘lord’. But there is a condition! In this submission we must learn to ‘do good and not be afraid with any terror’. It means that godly submission in marriage is not slavery, it is not defeat, cowardice or foolishness. It is godly humility, strength, love and wisdom.
What type of possible fear did Sarah experience? Sarah’s greatest fear was that God’s promise to them to have a son will fail. It is possible that she feared getting old and die as a barren woman. Another fear that she may have experienced, especially after Hagar got pregnant for her husband, was that she will be replaced by a younger (prettier) woman. For a long time, the fear of being disgraced as a barren wife, the fear of divorce, of rejection and of missing destiny, was probably the source of terrible torment for her. Sarah confronted became free from these fears. As women of God, we are commanded to do the same. To submit to our husbands, to continue to do good and to be free from these fears.
The most common fears that women experience are these:
*The fear of rejection, of disrespect and of not being liked!
*The fear of public speaking, of not being able to speak for your rights!
*The fear of working too much and neglecting the family, especially the children!
*The fear of divorce, of losing relationships and friendships!
*The fear of getting fat!
*The fear of being single, of not getting married and not having children!
*The fear of poverty!
*The fear of getting old and lonely!
*The fear of visibility, of being wealthy and successful; of being in a position where you cannot hide!
*The fear that your husband will betray you and commit adultery! The fear of divorce!
*The fear of men attacking you physically or being raped!
*The fear of losing your dreams, of ‘not making heaven’ or failure in life!
*The fear of being judged for your appearance, fashion style, of being a wife or mother!
*The fear of death, the last fear you must conquer!
The antidote to all these fears is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, who will bring the healthy fear of God! Be filled with the Holy Spirit! Be free from bondage fears! You are a child of God!
“Kings will be like fathers to you; queens will be like mothers… Then you will know that I am the LORD; no one who waits for My help will be disappointed.” (Is 49:23)
I was a natural mother to my daughter for 25 years. On her 25th birthday I knew that my time as a mother came to an end. I prayed for wisdom. The Holy Spirit said that I should lay down my labor of love as a mother to His altar. I did not understand. It was hard to understand. But I obeyed. The sacrifice was accepted. Suddenly, like dew from heaven, a new grace came upon me. From that time on, I became a spiritual mother to my daughter. She lives far away from us. But distance and the passing of time is not a barrier to this ever fresh relationship. We both grow in grace. This unity of the Spirit gets stronger ever day. I have a new vision of motherhood. God has enlarged my heart to accommodate and love many ‘children’ who call me Malia. All these holy fruits grow in the light of His presence and for His glory! This is my story, this is my song!
“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best of the land” (Is 1:19)
You shall not die a tenant!
You shall live in your own house!
In Jesus’ name,
Jacob DeShazer (1912-2008) was born in Oregon (USA), in a Christian family. He later rejected his parents’ faith. In 1942, during the World War II, he enlisted in the Air Force. He was on board the ‘USS Hornet’ in the Pacific Ocean preparing for the attack against Japan. The Easter service was held inside the aircraft’s carrier. All men attended it but he refused. After that, they took off and they threw the bombs on the city of Nagoya, Japan. This attack called ‘The Doolitle raid’ was designed to be ‘one way trip’. The men in the plane were to land with parachutes over the neutral China. Unfortunately, the plane strayed over Japan territory and Jacob was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese. The next three years were hell on earth for Jacob and his mates who survived. They were tortured to make confessions and kept for months in solitary confinement. Several were publicly executed. Jacob survived by cultivating an intense hatred against the Japanese. He planned that one day he will avenge himself. He and others were later transferred to a prison in China. They were given food just enough to survive. The prison officers also gave them a Bible. They shared it among themselves. Because he was so lonely and bored, when it came to his turn to have the Bible, he read it from Genesis to Revelation. When he read Romans 10:9, the Holy Spirit opened his heart and he believed. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). This is how he became saved. He repented of all his sins and confessed them to others. He knew the joy of forgiveness and peace with God. He later wrote: “How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was still suffering so terribly from the physical beatings and lack of food”. In the lowest depth of agony, God has given life to Jacob DeShazer’s soul! Praise the Lord!
His life now changed. He asks God for gifts to serve Him. The Holy Spirit gave him first the gift of prayer. He spent much of his time in the cell praying for the prison guards and for the Japanese people in general. His conversion included learning a few words of Japanese and treating his captors with respect, which resulted in the guards reacting in a similar fashion. Everybody heard about this prisoner called Jacob. In the past, when the guards beat him he will insult them. Now he will bless them and tell them words of love! After the war, he went back to the US. The American Government decorated him with many medals. He enrolled into a Bible college affiliated with the Free Methodist denomination, preparing himself to go back to Japan as a missionary. He married a wonderful Christian woman called Florence and in 1948 they both went to Japan as missionaries. In 1959, they moved to Nagoya to establish a Christian church in the city he had bombed. After the bombing, Nagoya was rebuild.
He wrote Christian tracts. He later met the Japanese Captain Mitsuo Fuchida who bombed the Americans at Pearl Harbor. He became converted too after reading Jacob’s conversion. Together, they preached the Gospel of Christ in many places. Theirs was a lifelong friendship. I find that to be especially beautiful…that one of the main participants of the Doolitte raid would befriend the leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor whose actions resulted in the deaths of 2,403 Americans. Fuchida went on and became a missionary to Asia. When he died in 1977 his close friend, Jacob DeShazer led the funeral, gave a sermon and said goodbye to his close friend.
DeShazer retired after 30 years of missionary service in Japan and went back to his home town in Salem, Oregon where he spent the last years of his life in an assisted living home with his wife, Florence. On 15 March 2008, DeShazer died in his sleep at the age of 95, leaving his wife and five children: Paul, John, Mark, Carol, and Ruth. At his funeral service it was said: “At this time in our history, we feel it is ideal to honor a man who was a genuine war hero, [but] who after his sacrificial service put on gloves of peace, and touched the entire world with grace and humility.” God alone takes all the glory for such a wonderful salvation!
(In the Pictures, The bombing over Nagoya, Jacob and Florence DeShazer going to Japan as missionaries, Jacob doing evangelism in Nagoya, Japan and the City of Nagoya as it is today)
Spiritually speaking, courtship is right and dating is wrong. What are the basic differences?
Courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other. Under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents or mentors, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage and God’s timing for their marriage. Courtship is a choice to avoid temptation and experience the blessings of purity. It is a choice to not emotionally give away your heart, piece by piece, to many others through casual dating relationships and instead to give your whole heart to your life partner. It is a choice to wait for God’s best, for His glory. It is a decision to walk by faith, to trust in God, to honor others above yourself, and to believe that God will deal bountifully with you, because He is love. (2 Cor 5:7, Rom 12:10, 1 Jn 4:8).
If, during the courtship, one or both parties realize that marriage is not God’s will and they end the relationship, the courtship has not failed. On the contrary, the courtship was successful, because God gave the direction that was sought through it. Although the termination of a courtship most likely will be painful, damage and hurt—which can lead to bitterness—can be avoided. Both parties, as well as their families and all the people who love them, should continue to trust in the Lord and accept the grace He gives to deal with any disappointment or unfulfilled hopes.
The main difference between Dating and Courtship is in the Purpose of the Relationship. Ask yourselves this question: what are the goals to be reached by spending time with a potential marriage partner? Men and women who choose to date often have no commitment to consider marrying the other person. Maturity and readiness for marriage are not considerations in the decision to date. Instead, couples usually date with the selfish goals of having fun and enjoying romantic attachments.
In contrast, courtship is undertaken only when both parties are prepared to make a commitment to marriage. Dating tries to answer the question, ‘how can I find the one who will make me happy’? Courtship strives to answer the question, ‘how can I honor God and discern His direction regarding my life partner’?
In a dating relationship, there is little if any accountability for the couple and little or no interaction with family members. The dating couple is merely attracted to one another in some way and often pursues an exclusive relationship that is independent of others’ wise influence or godly counsel. Since the boundaries of the relationship are self-determined, the couple may easily succumb to temptation and fail to consider their responsibility to honor each other in purity and genuine love. A couple participating in courtship seeks the accountability of their parents or other mentors. As they establish guidelines for their relationship, they can more easily recognize that God also holds them responsible to honor one another. Receiving God’s grace and the support of others strengthens them to maintain their commitment to purity.
In a dating relationship, self-gratification is normally the basis of the relationship. Instead of focusing on God’s pleasure, the couple is often looking for personal pleasure. This oblivious self-centeredness can lead only to dissatisfaction, promoting an attitude of lust (taking what I want) rather than the Scriptural attitude of love (giving unselfishly to others). Consequently, dating opens the door to many temptations. If defrauding (stirring up desires that cannot be righteously satisfied) occurs, the couple can foolishly and tragically give away both emotional and physical affections that should have been reserved for a life partner. Thus, in a dating relationship, frequently intimacy precedes commitment. A courting couple can evade numerous temptations by the choice to be held accountable to God-given authorities. The dangers of defrauding can be avoided more successfully, and an honest, open friendship can be nurtured and protected. Thus, in courtship, commitment precedes intimacy.
Since one of the most important decisions we will make is the decision of marriage, we should make every effort to know and do God’s will in this area. A dating relationship is usually based only on what the dating couple presently knows about each other. In contrast, a Biblical courtship is based on what God knows about each partner and on His plans for their futures.
Jesus gave this instruction with a promise: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:33). When a person makes a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ the foundation of all decisions—as he or she seeks God’s kingdom—God will provide all that is needed, including the marriage partner prepared by God just for that person (PV 18:22, 19:14.)!
God bless the young (and not so young) believers who pray for the gift of marriage! God bless their parents, pastors, true friends and mentors as they help guide and encourage them! May God answer your prayers! May God help us all!
(In the picture: the wedding of Matthew and Jemine (our youngest daughter) in 2012. Both were born again and committed Christians before they met. They both decided to pass the test of godly dating and to be sexually pure before their wedding. They both submitted to wise godly counsel from their parents and pastors. They are now happily married and have two lovely children. I use them as a point of contact for other singles who pray to experience the blessings of godly dating and happy marriage. To God be all the glory!)
Aaron Burr Jr. (1756 – 1836) was an American politician and lawyer. He was the third vice president of the United States (1801–1805), serving during President Thomas Jefferson’s first term. Burr served as a Continental Army officer in the American Revolutionary War, after which he became a successful lawyer and politician. He was elected twice to the New York State Assembly; he was appointed New York State Attorney General; he was chosen as a U.S. senator from the State of New York. He reached the apex of his career as vice president. Burr shot his political rival Alexander Hamilton in a famous gun duel in 1804, the last full year of his single term as vice president. He was never tried for the illegal duel and all charges against him were eventually dropped, but Hamilton’s death ended Burr’s political career. Burr left Washington, D.C., and traveled west seeking new opportunities, both economic and political. His activities eventually led to his arrest on charges of treason in 1807. The subsequent trial resulted in acquittal, but Burr’s western schemes left him with large debts and few influential friends. In a final quest for grand opportunities, he left the United States for Europe. He remained overseas until 1812, when he returned to the United States to practice law in New York City, where he spent the rest of his life in relative obscurity. He was a known womanizer. He wrote books about his sexual exploits. He had many children with different women (white and black). He adopted them all to be legally his. He married two times. Each of his wives were rich widows who brought a lot of money to him.
According to the world, this is the story of a great man. He was educated, rich and famous. The sad part of his life story is not always told. He came from a great Christian family. His maternal grandfather was Jonathan Edwards, the greatest American Theologian. Burr’s father was a true man of God, a pastor. Burr’s parents died when he was a child. He grew up with his uncles, also committed Christian men. When Burr was 19, and a student at Yale College, an evangelist preached the Gospel and made an altar call. many students gave their lives to Christ. Burr was among them. They were told to go to the next room so that they will be told about the basics of Christianity. As Burr was following the students, somebody pointed at him and said: ‘See, Jonathan Edwards’ grand son has answered an altar call’. Burr was ashamed and went home. He later openly rejected the faith of his grandparents and parents. He died in a hotel. He died as an unbeliever. He was buried near his father in Princeton, New Jersey.
This true story is a warning against pride! It is possible to be rich and famous and go to hell. It is possible to live a long and successful life and still die as a reprobate. Dear friend, please humble yourself and come to Jesus! Sinner, backslider, come home! There is room at the Cross for you! Jesus is calling you!
Our Lord said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt 16:26)
(In the picture, Aaron Burr and his tomb in Princeton Cemetery)