Tuesday, March 9, 2021

POWERFUL LIFESTORY OF GOD'S LOVE

 POWERFUL LIFESTORY OF GOD'S LOVE

Back in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa—to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another young Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much tenderness and devotion and sacrifice, they felt led of the Lord to go out from the main mission station and take the gospel to a remote area.

This was a huge step of faith. At the village of N’dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to go half a mile up the slope and build their own mud huts.

They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. The only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week. Svea Flood—a tiny woman of only four feet, eight inches tall—decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And in fact, she succeeded.

But there were no other encouragements. Meanwhile, malaria continued to strike one member of the little band after another. In time the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering and left to return to the central mission station. David and Svea Flood remained near N’dolera to go on alone.
Then, of all things, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina.

The delivery, however, was exhausting, and Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She lasted only another seventeen days.
Inside David Flood, something snapped in that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his twenty-seven-year-old wife, and then took his children back down the mountain to the mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he snarled, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.” With that, he headed for the port, rejecting not only his calling, but God himself.

Within eight months both the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious malady and died within days of each other. The baby was then turned over to some American missionaries, who adjusted her Swedish name to “Aggie” and eventually brought her back to the United States at age three.
This family loved the little girl and was afraid that if they tried to return to Africa, some legal obstacle might separate her from them. So they decided to stay in their home country and switch from missionary work to pastoral ministry. And that is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota. As a young woman, she attended North Central Bible college in Minneapolis. There she met and married a young man named Dewey Hurst.

Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful ministry. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there.

One day a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, and of course she couldn’t read the words. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross-and on the cross were the words SVEA FLOOD.

Aggie jumped in her car and went straight to a college faculty member who, she knew, could translate the article. “What does this say?” she demanded.

The instructor summarized the story: It was about missionaries who had come to N’dolera long ago...the birth of a white baby...the death of the young mother...the one little African boy who had been led to Christ...and how, after the whites had all left, the boy had grown up and finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. The article said that gradually he won all his students to Christ...the children led their parents to Christ...even the chief had become a Christian. Today there were six hundred Christian believers in that one village...
All because of the sacrifice of David and Svea Flood.

For the Hursts’ twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden. There Aggie sought to find her real father. An old man now, David Flood had remarried, fathered four more children, and generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: “Never mention the name of God-because God took everything from me.”

After an emotional reunion with her half brothers and half sister, Aggie brought up the subject of seeing her father. The others hesitated. “You can talk to him,” they replied, “even though he’s very ill now. But you need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage.”
Aggie was not to be deterred. She walked into the squalid apartment, with liquor bottles everywhere, and approached the seventy-three-year-old man lying in a rumpled bed.

“Papa?” she said tentatively.
He turned and began to cry. “Aina,” he said, “I never meant to give you away.”
“It’s all right Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms. “God took care of me.”

The man instantly stiffened. The tears stopped.
“God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.” He turned his face back to the wall.

Aggie stroked his face and then continued, undaunted.

“Papa, I’ve got a little story to tell you, and it’s a true one. You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus Christ. The one seed you planted just kept growing and growing. Today there are six hundred African people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life...
“Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you.”

The old man turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. His body relaxed. He began to talk. And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades.

Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together. Aggie and her husband soon had to return to America—and within a few weeks, David Flood had gone into eternity.

A few years later, the Hursts were attending a high-level evangelism conference in London, England, where a report was given from the nation of Zaire (the former Belgian Congo). The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel’s spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood.

“Yes, madam,” the man replied in French, his words then being translated into English. “It was Svea Flood who led me to Jesus Christ. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day your mother’s grave and her memory are honored by all of us.”
He embraced her in a long, sobbing hug. Then he continued, “You must come to Africa to see, because your mother is the most famous person in our history.”
In time that is exactly what Aggie Hurst and her husband did. They were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. She even met the man who had been hired by her father many years before to carry her back down the mountain in a hammock-cradle.

The most dramatic moment, of course, was when the pastor escorted Aggie to see her mother’s white cross for herself. She knelt in the soil to pray and give thanks. Later that day, in the church, the pastor read from John 12:24: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” He then followed with Psalm 126:5: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”

(An excerpt from Aggie Hurst, Aggie: The Inspiring Story of A Girl Without A Country [Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1986].)

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

AROMA FOR CHRIST!

 

Sweet Aroma for Christ from Us!

Victorious Christian Life from the altar of true worship and sacrifice produces sweet-smelling aroma from us to Jesus! 2 Corinthians 2:14

This sweet aroma can be evident in God’s children through our response to this knowledge which is planted in us in:

OUR ATTITUDE

TO THE LORD JESUS AND HOW OUR KNOWLEDGE OF HIS PERSON AND WORK PRODUCE RECOGNIZABLE RESULTS IN US

HOW WE RELATE TO PEOPLE WHOM WE COME ACROSS DAILY AND THE QUALITY OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS

OUR GOALS AND OBJECTIVES IN LIFE

THE MATERIAL THINGS THAT WE ARE LINKED WITH

OUR CIRCUMSTANCES

OUR WILL

OUR PRIORITIES IN LIFE

OUR LIKES AND DISLIKES

OUR THOUGHTS

OUR EMOTIONS OF ALL KINDS

OUR CONTINUOUS REPENTANT LIFE

THE EXTENT OF OUR DEPENDANCE ON GOD

THE CRUCIFIXION OF OUR SELF

THE QUALITY OF OUR LIFE OF DEVOTION

OUR PRAYER LIFE

HOW WE ENJOY HEAVEN HERE ON EARTH

THE VALUE WE ATTRIBUTE TO ETERNITY


Prayer for Today:

“Oh! God! Pardon my failures in producing sweet-smelling aroma for You and help me today to produce spiritual fragrance to minister unto Your heart. Amen!”

 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

PASTORAL CHALLENGES IN FAMILY MINISTRIES

 Pastoral Challenges in Family Ministries


A pastor is the spiritual physician of his congregation, appointed and qualified by the Lord, to help resolve spiritual and social issues confronted by individuals and families in that congregation. This is a challenging spiritual task which demands spiritual vision, commitment, patience, spiritual power, knowledge, wisdom, prayerfulness and spiritual burden.  

Historical perspective

The Old and New Testaments carry pertinent teachings and warnings related to family life. These comprise of principles, direct commandments, life centered illustrations, historical sketches and teachings on Family Life and its challenges. Wherever the people of God violated these divine principles and teachings, they ran into problems and breakdown in families. Some of these family calamities were overt and a lot more were covert.

We see in the Old Testament that God Himself directed families at the beginning, and later appointed priests, prophets, kings and leaders to instruct families. In spite of it all, there have been failures in family life of people and even in the case of leaders, priests and kings. In the New Testament, believers are taught by Jesus Christ Himself and later by His apostles to protect, teach, correct, evaluate and rebuild families. After the apostolic era, this responsibility rests with the spiritual leaders of the local church, like teachers, elders or pastors, evangelists, deacons and other ministering men(Ephesians 4:11-16).    

Pastoral responsibilities

A pastor is a divinely appointed spiritual leader, teacher, guide and facilitator of believers in all spiritual and secular matters. They exercise spiritual responsibilities on the basis of spiritual gifts, their own life examples and on the Word of God. The New Testament shows how these men devote themselves to various ministries by setting apart their time, talents, interests, convenience and health round the clock. They are accountable to the Lord and work with other ministering brethren to meet the needs of the congregation (James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:2-3; 1Timothy 5:1-2).

Pastors go out where the sheep are and minister unto the felt needs of people in all aspects of their lives. This includes leading, guiding, counseling, teaching, correcting, disciplining, educating, discipling, teaching, informing, warning, admonishing, facilitating, evaluating, diagnosing their spiritual problems and providing help in finding solutions. Their ministries thus impact the life of believers in general and their personal needs, and in their choices on education, career, marriage and conflict resolution in individual and family life.

The Laodicea challenge

                Today’s church of the Laodicea age (Revelation 3:14-22) is one where individualism, self esteem, personal freedom, desire for privacy and greater financial independence influence believers’ general outlook. Such life style and culture often make believers far removed from the biblical teachings and its application in many aspects of believers’ lives. The world thus influences families where the family as a unit often lacks spiritual leadership and unity. In this circumstance, submission to spiritual leadership at home and in the church gets seriously eroded. Thus pastoral teachings for individual and family lives remain more an option than obedience to biblical teaching. Pastors are seen not to have sufficient spiritual authority to instill discipline in the congregation because of the ultra-democratic setup of many local churches. Attempts at infusing biblical discipline in churches often result in factionalism, rebellion and conflicts. To avoid or minimize divisions, dissensions and unity, many pastors and elders try not to provoke the congregation. Thus pastors and elders involve in more pulpit-oriented ministries like preaching and teaching than personalized ministries like individual and family counseling. This is a great challenge in pastoral ministries in modern times.

Pastors’ approaches and challenges in family ministries

                It is seen that many pastors and elders wait for the congregation to individually approach them for spiritual help which happens seldom anyway. Either the pastors are too busy to be available and accessible or the individual believer doesn’t care to engage the pastor. Believers and families try to avoid the pastor by clinging on to privacy concerns. In the congregational churches, pastors seem to have more authority than found in local churches which are more loosely organized and structured. So individuals prefer to remain private and expect the pastors to be less nosy in personal matters. They would rather go on by covering up their personal and family’s problems. By the time such issues come to limelight, problems would have solidified and hearts hardened. This is true about issues related to backsliding, addiction and such other sins and conflicts between spouses or parents and children. Thus many problems remain unresolved and eventually destroy individual and family lives. In these circumstances, pastors usually become hapless and helpless spectators of individual or family issues. It’s also true that many pastors lack training in ministries like counseling to be able to handle individual or family issues, thus lacking confidence properly handling family matters of believers.

Challenging responsibilities

                God has appointed pastors and elders as spiritual guardians of the local church with specific responsibilities and accountabilities (Acts 20:28-32). They are expected to provide individuals and the congregation with the much needed spiritual nutrients based on the Word of God. The true shepherd has to use the staff and the rod to lead God’s people (Psalms 23:4). Their responsibilities to the families in the congregations include preparing believers for family life and resolving family conflicts.   

Plenary and individual teaching

                It has been observed that many pastors and churches are passive to teachings on many life-related subjects. They lean toward more doctrinal teachings and expository preaching which are vital. But it’s unusual to hear teachings or messages on practical subjects like Family Life, conflict resolutions, individual behavior, personal Christian life and the like in many local churches. It is a great challenge for the ministering brethren to prayerfully strike a balance between teachings on doctrinal and practical subjects. Then only doctrinal and practical teachings like family life can be taught on a regular basis to instruct, inform, educate and warn the married and yet-to-be-married about quality family life.   

Pre-marriage counseling

                It is important to prepare those in the congregation who contemplate on family life to lay strong foundation for a happy married life. They need to be taught the biblical truths about the duties, responsibilities, accountabilities, demands and challenges of family life including bringing up godly children and their emerging questions provided with biblical answers. Small group interactive sessions will be most helpful to provide pre-marriage teaching. Pastors have to face this challenge by humbly seeking to find help from the Word and through prayer for the enabling. 

Diagnostic approach

                The ministering brethren should attempt to make regular evaluation of the spiritual quality of life of each family in the congregation. This may be accomplished through regular visits to the families in the church and use media for regular communication. It is best if the brothers make these visitations along with their spouses except during personal counseling. Pertinent but soft enquiries may be made about the various aspects of the spiritual quality of each family including regular family altar, fellowship time and spiritual goal-setting. There may be need for wise spiritual counsel in vital areas in decision making in families. Parents may also desire counsel on how to bring up children spiritually. All of these may govern the pastors’ prayers and preparation for the various teaching and personal ministries of the church.  

Preventive measures to save families

                Spiritual leadership of churches has to take up the challenge to help build and rebuild families in the congregation and prevent its ruin and destruction. This necessitates consistent counseling and encouragement of families to help resolving conflicts. It has to be attempted at from the early stages of the development of each family by observing symptoms and through interactions. If the elder is in regular touch with the families by communicating with them through visitations, media and by sharing spiritual resources, then timely interventions will be feasible. Perhaps it will be possible for the life-partner of the elder to help the wives of the families while the elder may deal with the husbands and the spouses together.

Therapy to heal and restore

                Sharing experiences, teaching from the Word and fellowship in prayer in a consistent manner by the pastors will have therapeutic impact on each family. Interaction with the families need not always be a group activity because the spouses in a family may not open up in a group. But encouraging fellowship in groups might be of immense benefit for mutual encouragement. Spiritual and family counseling may be the much needed biblical tool that will have to be used to heal the hurts and resolve the conflicts for reconciliation and restoration. Regular time of prayer together with each family will have great healing touch on the spouses and even children.  

Follow-up of family concerns

                Pastoral Interaction with the families shouldn’t be an occasional or one-time exercise. Families have to be followed up consistently so that spirituality in the spouses can be assessed, progress determined and rebuilt. Often pastors would need to interact with the conflicting couples individually and subsequently bring them together at an opportune time to lead them to reconciliation. Regular and consistent communication with the families is the key to effective follow-up. It’s a great challenge for the pastor to find time for it all.   

Confronting critical issues

                Pastors should help couples with marital issues not to plunge themselves into despair because of intensive spousal conflicts.  They should be guarded against getting lured by extraneous forces to think about separation or even divorce. There are often issues of conflicts, arguments, abuse, disunity, non-cooperation, submission, paranoia, miscommunication, children’s indiscipline, in-law concerns and the like which pastors should address biblically. Biblical truths regarding these may be taught and discussed with one or both the spouses so that destructive tendencies could be expunged early. The pastor should not try to lead conflicting spouses to a truce or agreement, but his goal should be to lead them to confession and repentance of their individual failures and offences. Pastors should do all that is feasible to prevail over the couples from moving towards separation or divorce by encouraging and helping them to rebuild the broken walls of their family life.   

                If any divorced individual or couples or if remarried divorcees express interest in coming into or continuing in church fellowship, they and their protagonists may be taught the biblical teachings on this. The elders may convince them by explaining why the Bible doesn’t permit receiving such persons into fellowship except in the case of an innocent partner on whom divorce was forced upon by the departing partner. But the church has to be convinced about such partner’s innocence with ample evidence and testimony. However, the separated or divorced believers may not be treated with contempt, but permitted to attend church gatherings if they so desire. The unmarried divorcees may be received into fellowship eventually if they express brokenness and repentance and remain without remarriage. The congregation may be taught to deal with them with kindness and not to embarrass them.

                In matters related to separation, divorce and remarriage of the divorcees, pastors face great challenges in carrying the whole congregation with them because of divergent views on these issues by many. Pastors have to prevail over any such unbiblical views through consistent teaching and proper exposition of the commandments of Jesus and the Apostles, without developing schisms and divisions in the church. This requires much grace and wisdom.   

Conclusion

                One of the greatest challenges faced by many local churches is the lack of preparedness of elders in handling family conflicts. But if elders don’t get spiritually prepared to meet these challenges, it will lead to surge in the number of unresolved family problems. Victorious families are the result of how well the pastors take up the challenge in helping to build and rebuild families. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

PROSPECTUS OF THE AGAPE' SCHOOL OF MARRIAGE

 

Prospectus of

The Agape’ School of Marriage

               

Dear Prospective Candidate

            Welcome to the School of Marriage!

            We are pleased to introduce and welcome you to the Agape’ School of Marriage which is one of the world's greatest schools for a Christian believer. A Christian believer will learn greatest lessons about life, sharing, fellowship, love, compassion, children, parentage, hospitality, responsibility, forgiveness, kindness and prayer in this unique school. These lessons can be learned only if one has deep desire to learn. All the lessons taught in this school are practical. Different persons will learn different lessons at different times which are relevant to their specific situations. Unfortunately not all persons are endowed with the blessing of a married life and so they are denied the opportunity to study in this school. In our school, different students have different time-frame to study. This is because longevity of married life is different for different persons as designed by the Almighty God who places people in families according to His will and pleasure and on the basis of His eternal plan for each couple. The challenge before each student is to make the maximum out of the opportunity to learn and enjoy their time as students in this great school designed and administered by the Founder of the school who is God Himself.

            All Christian men and women are invited to read this Prospectus carefully and prayerfully. They may then be encouraged to get registered and admitted in the School of Marriage at the right marriageable age.

            If you seriously consider enrolling as a student, you are warmly welcome to the Agape’ School of Marriage.

Building and Facilities

            All who enter the parlors of the Agape’ School of Marriage will be welcomed to the School at the main entrance where a great portrait of a rainbow is hung on its front wall. Its seven colors exemplify the seven great aspects of the friendship and fellowship that they share throughout the school life. These seven colors are: their sweet secrets, the great truths that they understand about each other, the grief and pain that they share together, the ultimate trust and faith that they have for each other, the pinnacle of joy that overflows from their life, their reverential treatment of each other and the deepest love they have for each other.  The reflection of this rainbow is seen throughout the campus and at the building interior and exterior as the main focus of the school.

            As students enter, they will be registered by the Superintendent of the school and allotted a private suite for them and their classmates (as permanent pairs) alone to stay and learn in their classes. All classes will be conducted in this class suite. All practical sessions will also be conducted in the suite under strict privacy. The class suite has the fountain of the 'water of life' for the classmates to drink to quench their thirst and the table of the 'bread of heaven' to satisfy their appetite. The class suite is connected to the main power line of 'Light of Light' so that all that transpires in the class may be transparent and clearly visible to the classmates, the Principal and the Superintendent. But if the light is quenched, there will be dim light or progressive darkness in the class and for the classmates which will take away their spiritual vision. This may lead to eventual destruction of both the classmates and their marriage. 

The main features of the School of Marriage are given below:

            1. Enrollment: Our School of Marriage is the only school where you get the Marriage Certificate before you start the classes. It is also known as the enrollment certificate. It makes it eligible for the married ones to study in the school. It is also the Identity Card for each student. The classmate for each student is chosen and fixed at the time of entry by the Principal. All entrants are entitled to study in their own class only and there is no permission to change class or the classmate even for a moment. This school has the best student-teacher ratio as each class has only two students who are called spouses or life-partners. So learning in this school is a partnership experience.

            2. Graduation: Even though all enrolled students study in the school, they are not allowed to graduate because there is something to learn in this school till the very end. Then they will wait and will finally enter the 'Marriage Supper of the Lamb' together with their classmates.

            3. Schedules: Our school functions round the clock without any break or free period. Even when the students sleep, they are expected to learn something. Some periods or sessions are for active learning and some other periods are for passive learning. But all that the students can and are expected to learn are vital lessons all the time because there is so much to learn. It is also a very demanding school in that tests are often marked by the classmate and marks submitted to the Principal who makes His own assessment of both the students in the class. But the consolation is that the examiner, the classmate and the Principal, mark the tests on the basis of love, kindness and compassion. 

            4. Duration: Rules in this school are made by the Principal and are very strict even though these rules are called Rules of Love. Once enrolled, the students are never allowed to drop out. Almost all students do not want to drop out because once they are enrolled, they are all intoxicated by the atmosphere of love that blows softly and steadily through the classroom. On the other hand, the rule that is applied to all entrants is that they are not permitted to drop out because they are glued together with their classmate for a lifetime of learning. When the time comes, the Principal will allow an honorable discharge of each student from the school according to the perfect timing determined by the Principal. Petitions for early discharge or exit are not entertained because it depends on the sole discretion and decision of the Principal for which there is no appeal court.  

            5. Activities: The Principal guarantees to make the school very interesting and challenging with full of activities and interactions of various kinds. All activities for the students are for the welfare of their classmates and are to be performed out of love and compassion. Some days are full of hard-work, but on other days the students may relax. This diversity of activities makes the school balanced. It is also a participatory school where both the teammates must involve together in all activities. But the roles of both the teammates are clearly defined by the Principal. The Principal reminds the team that they will have to attend classes every day of their life.

            6. Holidays and vacation: The school doesn't allow for any holidays, vacation or sick leave.  When one of the teammates falls sick, still both the teammates have to attend the school. On sick days, classes will be mainly on caring and nursing the sick teammate and for prayer for healing along with the healing touch. On holidays, the teammates will learn how to relax and help the classmate to relax and rest. There will be extra classes and activities on compassion and grace on sick days and holidays. Here the main topic on attitude is taught with many practical lessons.

            7. Classroom atmosphere: As its nickname goes, our school is popularly known as the ‘School of Love’. It is founded by God on the strong pillar of Agape' Love created from the jewels of compassion and grace. Its walls are made out of mutual trust and faith. The doors of the school are built with strong Acacia wood of mutual recognition, appreciation and acceptance and will help the teammates to have unconditional access to each other all the time. The classroom has wide open windows and its shutters are made out of Acacia planks of mutual understanding and belongingness through which cool breeze of healing and rest blow on the teammates and the classroom. The classroom is arranged with comfortable furniture made out of the Olive tree of blessings. This classroom will not leak because it is made of the strong rock of faith and sealed with the anointing oil of Agape' Love.

            8. Principal’s role: The Principal reminds the teammates not to usurp authority over each other as if they are the Principal. He wants the teammates to remember that they have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and will have to adhere to it in the best possible manner. The Principal has all authority and that He introduces it on the basis of His love to the teammates so that the teammates may help each other to fall in line with His authority in all aspects of their school life. The Principal wants all entrants to remind themselves of the fact that He is the sole Principal and the teammates are only students who are expected to learn under His lordship in full obedience and total commitment to each other and to the School.

            9. Storms from the outside: The Principal warns the teammates that there will be artificial storms and heavy winds blowing against their classroom coming from the enemy of their school. These storms are strong enough to create ripples in their classroom and distract the teammates. But the entrants are reassured that if they stay within the walls of the strong classroom and trust in the Principal's power to keep them safe, nothing untoward will happen to them.  Even in times of storms, they should not allow themselves to fall into fear and unbelief and try to get out of the classroom because once you are out, there won't be any safety. Don't be unwise to listen to the enticing of the enemy to get out of the classroom and run outside during times of storms and wind. It’s damp, windy, cold and dark outside and there will be thunder and lightning to terrorize you. Once you are enrolled, the classroom of marriage is the safest place to be in, because you and your classmate are there along with your Master Teacher who teaches you new lessons every day and in all situations.

            10. Issues between classmates: The Principal's strong admonition is that no homework should be left incomplete overnight by all classmates. Every issue or concern between the classmates may be handled before the next day and before the couple sleeps. If there are any Issues, these are discussed within the team only and an amicable settlement is arrived at so that the matter can be settled with a united time of prayer before they sleep. This healthy pattern is recommended by the Principal which will strengthen the marriage and the relationship between the classmates. This is the way to keep the classroom atmosphere to remain warm and pleasant.  

11. Communication: The school uses various communication techniques and styles to help the students to learn their lessons faster from each other. It is expected that the classmates use these techniques to communicate with each other about their feelings, needs, priorities, likes and dislikes so that they can learn from each other in a complementary way. The school emphasizes the use of oral communication techniques including words, sounds of different positive pitch, tone and corresponding complementary body language for exchanging ideas, thoughts and desires. The Principal keeps reminding the classmates that listening to each other is far more important than speaking. Listening is one of the ways by which the school makes sure that the students learn patience and proper discernment to enable them to respond in a complementary manner. It is also the way by which the objectives of the class can be identified and understood by them and help to achieve it. The classmates are also strongly recommended that they communicate continuously with the Principal so that they can determine how and what they ought to communicate with the classmates. The Principal responds only to united and single-minded communications rather than individualistic, prejudiced or selfish requests.

 12. Conflicts: Classmates are reminded that if either of them finds out something in the classmate that they do not appreciate, they ought to take it with love and consideration, and remind themselves of the fact that the classmate is also just a student and not a graduate. The School reiterates that God is not finished with your classmate yet and so is the Principal. Students may take it as a challenge and work on it to find common ground for mutual good and satisfaction. This approach, the school reminds the students, will help them to learn forgiveness, mutual rebuilding and renewal.

13. Text Book: It is imperative for each student to read and study the Holy Book which is the main textbook of this school. It is recommended that the students individually and together read the Book and meditate on it daily. It is best if the classmates start each day with a sacred assembly called Family Altar and end it the same way.

14. Apathy to attend classes: The school understand that sometimes, because of situations, stress or irritations, one or both the students might not feel good about attending classes and might want to stay insulated and isolated. Such challenges ought to be overcome because it comes from the enemy of the school, the class dynamics and the classmates. Instead, the school recommends that the classmates fight such a negative urge and become victorious. Otherwise, one day's lapse might lead to more such lapses and will lead to lethargy and dark days and subsequently to withdrawal symptoms. So the school wants all the classmates to make every effort to attend classes all the days of their lives and finish their daily tasks without lapses. Students are reminded that procrastination is the enemy of the students of the School of Marriage.

 15. Temptation to quit: The school recognizes that in some extreme cases, a few students may want to quit the school because they find it unfulfilling. The strong reminder from the school is that this temptation to quit comes from the enemy of the school and the erring classmate to destroy the class and cause them to lose the serenity and thrill of the class and the classmates. Instead they are instructed to find courage and hope from the Holy Book and to continue. They should also realize that the school has not made any provision or given any prerogative for the classmates to ever quit. Quitting is against the foundational charter of the school and so quitters are breaking the fundamental rules of the school. If they quit, they will be punishing themselves and their classmates for the whole of their lifetime and will discourage other classes and students. Above all, it will grieve the Principal, Superintendent and the entire school.

16. Tests and Examinations:   Like every other school, the School of Marriage also has occasional tests for the students. These tests are given without any notice. Tests are given to both the students at the same time or to each classmate at different times. Some tests and exams may be tough but remember, the Principal knows how much you can bear, and will not give a test that the classmates are unable to handle. The great advantage of these tests is that these are OPEN BOOK tests. The classmates are free to use the Holy Book all the time, to study, refer to and to write the examinations. The most important practical test is as to how well a student is looking after and caring for the classmate. Grades are granted on the basis of the principles given in the Book and on their attitude to the classmates and other students in the school. Those who are deficient in learning are given extra classes and one-on-one tutoring at the feet of the Master Teacher. There are also opportunities to take repeat exams to prove progress. Those who fail may file for pardon on compassionate ground and all true confessions and repentance are accepted at par. All pardoned students are allowed to continue. It is guaranteed that tests are practical and not theoretical and these tests are for the good of the classmates and not to be judgmental. 

17. Miscellaneous 

            (a) The school sticks to the principle that classes are not to intimidate the classmates but to provide peace, happiness and fulfillment to the classmates on all days of the class. The Principal guarantees that all classes are an enjoyable experience for both the classmates.

            (b) The school offers classes on a large number of subjects related to human life with its various ramifications. But the major subject offered is agape' love. The Principal loves all students and imparts His love to the students so that they can pass it on to their classmates and to experience love for each other.  Students are expected to use love as the medium in all aspects of the class and learning to communicate and work together in love. As they do so, it is guaranteed that their love for each other will multiply several folds. On the basis of their unconditional love, the classmates will be given bonus blessings by the Principal. These bonus blessings come in the form of days and months filled with excitement and exuberant children who are the olive shoots of stars in the assignment page of the book of love distributed to both the classmates on the first day of class. 

            © More grace is made available from the Principal to both the classmates every day of the school for the asking. The classmates are asked to make the best use of grace given to them from the Reservoir of the Principal on all the days of classes.

            (d) If the classmates have any questions, they are free to ask the Principal at any time in any format or refer to the Holy Book, and wait patiently for answers to come at the right time. These answers are also clearly given in the Holy Book which is given to the classmates as the school starts.

Special Instructions to the Prospective Students:

            Those who want to enroll in the Agape’ School of Marriage are instructed to examine the Holy Book and prepare themselves before they get admitted to the School, with utmost dedication and commitment to the classmate appointed for them by the Principal. They should also be committed to the roles and rules of the School and are totally submitted to the School, the Principal and the classmate. They ought to remember that the door to the school has only door knobs at the outside and no knob from inside to open the door to the outside. They are warned that if they try to break open the door to the outside, disaster will result.

Officers of the School of Marriage:

Chancellor: El Shaddai

Principal: Prince Groom

Facilitator: The Holy Dove

 

Those who apply with the concurrence of their parents and church will be given priority for admission. Prospective students may apply for admission at the following address:

 

The Principal

The Agape’ School of Marriage

Chamber of the Heavenly Bridegroom

Golden Bridal Street

The New Jerusalem 777

 

 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

COUNSELOR'S CORNER: "WILL GOD FORGET ME?"


Counselor's Corner

Will God Forget Me?

                It was a Sunday evening at about 5 O’clock. I was at home engaged in some writing. Suddenly my mobile phone rang. I picked it up and found an unfamiliar female voice. The voice at the other end said, “Uncle, I am Riya. I am a final year nursing student. I listened to your message on Family Life at the Sisters’ Camp near our town last week. It touched me in many ways.  I identified with that emotionally wounded girl you mentioned from Jeremiah 8:21 and thought of calling you to tell you my story. May be you can guide me to find healing for my wounded heart. I have no body to share these burdens at home or in the assembly”.

                “Surely, Riya!  Thanks for calling. Please tell me your concerns and we can together find answers to your difficulties with the help of God” I replied.

                So Riya started narrating her burdens with a soft and painful voice mixed with sobbing. Here is a child of God born in a believers’ family. She lost her mother in her infancy. She has no siblings. She grew up somehow with the help of neighbors and distant relatives.  Her father has been a Christian worker and was rarely home to take her of her. Added to that, he was quite unapproachable and he never gave her any love and caring. He also dealt with her in anger and irritation most of the time and often shouted at and punished and cursed her brutally. When she was about six years old, she got a stepmother who was very nice and caring, but was no equal to one’s own mother. There were very few girls in her age group in their church and no believer friend in her school years and in the nursing college. So all these years, Riya grew up friendless and had no one to talk openly or share burdens. She felt very lonely and lived as if no one wanted or cared for her.

                Riya’s father’s cruel and angry nature made it difficult for even prevented her home to have regular family prayer. She yearned to have a time to sit together with members of the family to sing comforting and encouraging songs, reading the Bible and pray, but often she was denied such opportunities. Riya felt very lonely and desired for love and care and a time of fellowship, but it seems no one was around to encourage and support her. She missed her mother so much and a sibling too. She felt unwanted and uncared for. During her lonely hours, she used to sit and cry, but no one was around to see her tears. She lived with emotional pain and loneliness. She thought her future looked bleak and she found meaninglessness in life. She often wondered about the meaning of life. It was at the peak of such feelings that she heard my message and felt it worth to try and speak to me to get prayer support and encouragement.

                I started praying as to how I should help this lonely, friendless and agonizing young believer who deserved support, strength and empowering to live a victorious Christian life. So I responded in the following manner:
                “Riya, it is good that you decided to call me. I am truly sorry that you are going through loneliness and friendlessness. I have come across many young believers, both male and female, who feel exactly how you feel because they have no friends, siblings and even parents. But please do not feel that your God has also abandoned you. Even if the whole world forgets you, He will not. He is your creator and redeemer and He cares for you like the apple of His eyes. Please read the following verses to understand this: Psalms 17:8, Zachariah 2:8, Deuteronomy 32:10. These will encourage you in your present situation”.

                “Also, Riya, we see that there are many lonely and burdensome people in the Bible who were not forgotten by God. Let’s take the case of Noah in the book of Genesis. I am sure you know the story of Noah from your Sunday school days”. I said.

                “Yes, uncle, I remember the story of Noah and the ark during the flood”, Riya said.

                “Yes” I continued. “Noah and his family faced an uncertain future while they were in the ark. God had a great plan for them even though they were not told about it.  They didn’t know for how long they had to be in the ark and where and when it would end. Their ark was floating and so the journey was quite unstable and shaky. The ark kept jerking and the direction was not at all steady. The family of Noah was in the ark for roughly 371 days. That’s almost a year of uncertainty. There was no world and no environment and no future for them. Their journey was almost like the uncertainties of today’s Covid-19 situation without any end. But they were sustained by their ardent faith in God who helped them prepare the ark and gave them direction, with provision and protection. God made sure that water would not enter the ark. You see, Riya, what led them during the flood was their unfeigned trust and faith in God’s power to keep them safe and to provide for their bright future. Hope you understand the real message of this incident. God never forgot Noah and He remembered him and his family and even the other living beings in the ark (Genesis 8:1)”.

                “We can see that God had already prepared a fertile land for them to cultivate when they come out of the ark. There were provisions for them to worship God and offer sacrifices. There was a blue sky with a beautiful rainbow which is to be a great promise for the future. Even though they were contained in an ark for over a year, now they are given the whole world to enjoy. This God is our God and He will prepare a nice future for us also. He will be with us during our times of gloom, to prepare us to wait for the future. While Noah was in the ark, God was preparing Noah and his family to accomplish great things for Him. So Riya, the God of Noah is with you today. He knows that you are lonely and enduring pain, but soon it will all be over. God has great plans for you. Your time now is to meditate on and study His Word and grow in faith and in a richer relationship with God”.

                Riya was listening keenly and responding with sighs and sounds of nod as I was speaking. So I continued: “Riya, I want to remind you of two women who felt abandoned and friendless like you. They are Rachel, wife of Jacob and Hannah, wife of Elkanah. I am sure you know much about them”.

                “Yes, I know something about them, uncle”, Riya responded, “Please tell me about how they handled their situations”.

                “OK. These two women were childless also. Rachel, for example, tried all her tactics to become a mother. She had jealousy towards her sister who was blessed with many children. She even quarreled with her husband about her situation. But none of these helped her to get the blessing of a child. She endured mockery and felt deeply frustrated in her helplessness. Finally she prayed to God who remembered her in her sad situation and blessed her with two children (Genesis 30:22). You see, Riya, her human efforts didn’t help her at all, but when she put her complete faith and trust in God and submitted her need to God, He remembered her and answered her prayer. She got a son by the name Joseph, who later became the savior of Jacob and his clan as he became the Prime Minster of Egypt”.

                “That’s very nice, uncle” said Riya. “She should have actually prayed at the very beginning rather than trying out her own methods, engaging in quarrel with her husband and schism with her sister”, she added.

                “It’s very true. Hannah, the second woman I mentioned also resorted to prayer during her time of frustration and loneliness and as she endured mockery. But she prayed relentlessly and vowed that what God gives her will be given back to God in His service. As Hannah prayed without ceasing, God remembered her with her tears, loneliness, pain and mockery. Her passionate prayers (1 Samuel 1:19) were answered. God gave her a child whom she gave back to God as His servant. As a reward for this, God gave her five more children (1 Samuel 2:21). In both these cases, God honored the faith of these women and answered their prayers. Such prayer and faith can be seen as the key to open the doors of God’s blessings to them. God proved to both Rachel and Hannah that He will not forget His children who go through difficult situations”.

                Riya quickly said, “Praise God for answered prayers. But uncle, may I ask you a question?”

                “Surely, please ask”, I replied.

                “Uncle, please tell me how I can be absolutely sure that God will answer my prayers for removal of my loneliness and friendlessness”? Riya asked.

                “Sure, Riya”, I said, and continued, “It is certain that God will remember his suffering children like you because it is written in God’s Word which is eternally settled in heaven (Psalms 119:89). Jesus said in Matthew 24:35 that even if the heaven or the earth pass away, His words will by no means pass away. The Bible says that none of the promises of our God will lose its power (2 Corinthians 1:20). If you live by trusting in the God who remembered and never forgot Noah, Rachel and Hannah and live by faith in Him and pray, He will answer your prayers and meet all your needs. Your anxiety, feeling of loneliness, frustration and friendlessness will all be taken away from your mind by God. He will give you believers for fellowship and prayer partners to pray together. If you pray for your father by faith, God will help him to extend to you love and compassion.

                Riya said, “Uncle, please give me one more verse from the Bible for my peace, courage and comfort”.

                “A verse that has helped me a lot in my times of loneliness and frustration is seen in Psalms 42:5. This verse reassures us that in our times of frustration and depression, if we pray, God will remove it and give us a joyful and purposeful life. Psalms 34:5 says that God will remove all darkness from the hearts of His children and fill them with His light. These two verses will give you peace, joy and satisfaction in life that your God who leads you will never leave nor forsake you. He is the best friend of all lonely people in this world to fill their lives with heavenly blessings. It includes you also, dear Riya.” I concluded.

                “Thank you, uncle, for helping me to understand that my God will never forget me and that His promises are unchangeable in all my circumstances. Praise God!”, Riya said in closing.

                “Riya, please make sure to daily read and meditate on the verses I mentioned earlier. Your God will never leave you nor forsake you as Jesus said in John 14:18. So be strong and courageous as God told Joshua in Joshua 1:9”, I said in response.

                “OK, uncle, thanks for your help. I shall remember you in my prayers as I am sure you will pray for God to take away my loneliness and friendlessness. Bye uncle” Riya said at the end.

                Thus our conversation ended.

Dear Readers:

You are probably going through loneliness, friendlessness, fear, uncertainty, tension, tears and frustration during this lock-down period because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But you don’t have to feel that way, because God Almighty is with you and His angels encompass around you. He will carry you through these hard and difficult times. The God who didn’t forget Noah, Rachel and Hannah will not forget you, but will remember you and meet all your needs. His promises are ever sure and secure. May God help you to depend on these promises and live a victorious Christian life!