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Soroti Couple Conference, January 2010
ABUNDANT LIFE INTERNATIONAL MINISTRIES-COUPLES’ CONFERENCE
2010 AT CENTRAL SECONDARY SCHOOL SOROTI
Participants at the couples’ conference pose for a photograph after the conferenc
Abundant Life International Ministries (ALIM) held a couple’s conference in Soroti District in Eastern Uganda on the 14th to the 18th of January 2010. The conference was held in Soroti Central Secondary School hall. The average conference attendance was 280 people (140 couples). The aim of the conference was to make known the passion of God in Family life and relationships and to promote the supremacy of families as God intended them to be. The facilitators at the conference were Pastor Samuel and Betty Macho, John Faith and Annet Magolo and Aaron and Norah Bwana. Topics handled during the conference were; Marriage as a covenant, Spirit Filled Marriage, Roles, Communication, Spiritual dynamics in Marriage and romance. The conference was highly participatory, and provided an opportunity for couples to share their own experiences. The conference was such a blessing to both the participants and the trainers and everyone learnt something. Praise the Lord!
Pastor Samuel and Betty Macho
MARRIAGE AS A COVENANT (by Samuel and Betty)
Genesis to Malachi reveals God as a God of Covenant.
All the people that could not fit in this covenant, God had nothing to do with them. God can also do nothing or little with you if you are not in covenant with him.
God sees a covenant people in the marriage. The beginning of everything we see in OT is all about covenant. God of covenant is the author of Marriage.
God in the New Testament still maintains covenant. OT’s covenant was for a few individuals, on the other hand, in the NT, everyone is invited into Covenant with God through Jesus Christ.
- Marriage is a covenant because it was authored by the God of covenant.
- Any marriage outside the divine marriage covenant of God is unfulfilling.
- When a wife and husband are in a covenant relationship with each other, they have commitments to each other, and because of that, they should share and do things with each other, that no one else can do (1st Cor 7 v 4) as they are not party to the covenant.
- When in covenant, with God, He has authority over us and we too have authority to approach Him in sincerity for everything.
Marriage is a covenant not a contract
A covenant is binding and solemnly agreed and sealed with vows.
- It is unconditional commitment and strengthened by afflictions.
- It is a relationship that is characterized by selfless sacrifice. This is very applicable in marriage
- In marriage covenant, God is the witness. Malachi 2: 14-16 He hates divorce.
- In a covenant relationship, the debts, profits, the money, the assets and losses are all shared.
- Covenant relationship is for companionship.
Where is this covenant made?
- It is God who joins the two in a marriage covenant. Mathew 19 v 6.
- The vows are made to the wife by a husband, and by the husband to the wife and vise versa and unto the Lord. Eccle 5:4-6
God’s description of an ideal marriage is this: Wives are to submit to their husbands; husbands are to love their wives.
The only reverence that God has provided for a Spirit filled marriage is a mutual submission which springs from our love for Jesus.
Submission involves adopting to, understanding, respecting and fitting in with the other person. Jesus him self knew what it was like to totally submit to his father. He didn’t hold on to his rights but gave up Himself for us. (Phil 2:6-8)
When we submit to one another out of reverence for Christ we are submitting to the Lord Himself. Jesus said, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me (Matt 25:40).
SPIRIT FILLED MARRIAGE (John and Annet Magolo)
Text: Ephesians 5:18–23
(Verses 22-24) The Spirit-Filled Wife
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
This verse is not about who does the housework or washes the cloths. It does not mean that wives are not allowed have their own opinion or that couples shouldn’t work things out together. Neither is there anything here to suggest that women are inferior to men—male and female are equal in being ‘made in the image of God’. But in marriage these equal partners are given different roles and responsibilities. The husband is given the primary responsibility to take the lead and the wife is to humbly submit to his leadership and care.
The wife’s submission is primarily about attitude. She is to accept the role that she has been given and she should be encouraging the responsibility that is her husbands. You will see in verse 33 that her attitude is to be one of respect towards him—wives you may be more aware of your husband’s failings than anyone else but avoid the temptation to have a critical spirit towards him, instead choose to respect him.
The Apostle Paul gives the reason why wives should submit to their husband’s leadership. You are to submit to him as to the Lord—you are to submit to him as you submit to Jesus—for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. As one preacher explains, marriage “is meant to be a reflection of how the church relates to her Saviour Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate head of the church, and the church submits to him and his care and protection.” Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Don’t make it hard for your husband to lead! Don’t knock him when he shows initiative. Don’t let yourself be his worst critic, instead seek to be his greatest encourager!
The spirit filled Husband (Ephesians 25-31)
Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. We are to love our wives in the same way that Jesus loves his people. Jesus who gave himself up for us—this is primarily a reference to the cross! The cross is our model for being a good husband. That means we are called to show our wives sacrificial love!
Do we demonstrate sacrificial love in our use of time? Our wives need our time! If we can’t give our wives the time then maybe we need to change job, be less absorbed in our hobbies or do less in church. Have our wives forgotten what it is like to be taken out on a date?
Do we demonstrate sacrificial love in being willing to help around the house? Couples should sit down and talk through all that needs to be done in the home. No man should leave it all to his wife. No wife should feel taken for granted in this way! He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but feeds it and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.
The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ gave himself up for us to make us holy. That one day, because we are now creations in Christ Jesus 2nd Cor 5 v 17, we will be presented before him without stain or wrinkle or blemish, holy and blameless. Just as Jesus influence by the Word, brings surrender and holiness to our souls, and crucifies the flesh, so our influence on our wives lives is to encourage them to grow in their faith.
Husbands are to encourage their wives to use the gifts and capabilities God has given them. We are to help them grow in Christ-likeness. We are to let them blossom as confident, joyous and mature Christian women!
- Spend time praying with your wife. Praying together is essential for a healthy Christian marriage.
- Read the Bible together, where you listen to each others concerns, where you share concerns for others and then pray with each other.
ROLES IN MARRIAGE (Aaron and Norah Bwana)
a) FACTS ABOUT MARRIAGE
- In marriage your wife is second to God
- Children take the 3rd priority.
- Ministry is the 4th priority
- Job/ work is the 5th priority
- 4th – 5th priorities may be interwoven depending on our calling.
- There is need to make our priorities right.
- During Creation, a woman was made out of the man’s rib so that she will be besides him all the time. Ephesians: 22-23
- Transparency is a plus to covenant marriage in all areas of life. HUSBAND
- Head of the family
- A spiritual model/leader in a marriage. It is his responsibility to establish the kingdom of God in the home
- Providers for both physical and spiritual needs.
- Provision should be within your means.
- Children discipline
- Real husbands love their wives
Offer security to your spouse.
Aaron and Norah Bwana
- Women should not be over demanding
- Women should be sensitive and wise. Should understand the family seasons and be creative
- Real wives respect their husbands. Purpose to bless your spouse with your smile.
- Help the husband in child discipline
- Companionship with wisdom
- Wives have an intercessory role in the family
- Child upbringing
- Mutual respect
- Praying for children
A husband’s love is a spiritual love (John Faith)
- Men are the head of their household; God has laid on them a mantle of authority.
- John19:11; Luke 12:48
- Wives are gifts from God.
- They are gifts for companionship: Genesis 2:18.
- They are gifts for propagation: Genesis 1:28.
- They are gifts for fulfillment: 1 Cor.7:1–3.
- There is a spiritual reason: that we might exemplify the love of Christ.
- Illustration: Jesus is the “copybook” for all husbands.
- 1 Peter 3:7
A husband’s love is a sacrificial love
- Jesus loved the church sacrificially; he “gave himself for her.”
- A husband should give all for his wife, as Christ gave all for the church.
- A husband should pray for his wife, as Christ prayed for the church
- John 17:20–21
- A husband should be attentive to his wife, as Christ is attentive to the church.
- A husband should be faithful to his wife, as Christ is to the church. A husband’s love is a sanctifying love
- A Christian woman grows in grace and becomes spiritually mature.
- A husband plays a major role by example in his wife’s spiritual maturity.
A husband’s love is a satisfying love
- The Golden Rule of matrimony is for a husband to love his wife as himself.
- Ephesians 5:29, 33
- When a husband blesses, edifies, judges, or criticizes his wife, he does those things to himself. God says “two have become one flesh” Gen 2 v 24
SPIRITUAL DYNAMICS IN MARRIAGE (John and Annet)
See I set before you life and death, a blessing and a curse, Deut 11:26
Our lives and marriages are affected by spiritual dimension we cannot see
We live in two worlds the spiritual and the physical.
Sometimes the physical which we see, touch, smell, taste, hear, appear to be all there is
We fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen (2 Cor 4:18); do not store for yourself treasures on earth….(Matt 6:19-21); our struggle is not against flesh and blood…(Eph 6:12)
Strange and unexpected things may happen to us which we may not be able to explain
Our lives are influenced by our family history and by spiritual forces from without
No matter what comes our way, we are not hopeless, we are unique individuals who are responsible for our own lives. We can respond to God or we can ignore Him
The physical and spiritual worlds interact with each other and the book of Job vividly illustrates it.
The physical impacts the spiritual
The story begins with God having a meeting with the angels and Satan is also there. God asks him about Job, have you considered my servant Job... (Job 1:8)
The spiritual impacts the physical
God gives Satan permission to destroy everything Job has but not to touch Job himself .
A Spirit filled couple full of the joy of the Lord in a demonstration of God being in control
Gods purposes shall prevail Prov 19 v 21
However, God has given us, His children, dominion, and to that extent we have free choice. We have freedom to ensure that marriage is maintained in accordance with God’s word.
Harmful spiritual influences
1. Spoken curses. Sometimes we are hesitant to talk of curses but they are prominent in scripture and in Africa and throughout the world. After the destruction of Jericho, Joshua pronounced a solemn oath “cursed before the Lord is the man who under takes to rebuild this city, Jericho: at the cost of his firstborn son will he lay the foundations, at the cost of his youngest son will he set up its gates (Josh 6:26)” and this came to pass 300yrs later ( I Kings 16:34).
2. The sins of our fathers Ex 20: 4-6. It may help if we can go back to our family history and see if there are any particular evils or occult practices in our family. However we should be careful not to suggest that every bad thing that happens to us is as a result of generational curses.
3. Personal sin
Not all curses or bad influences come from or have their origin in previous generations. They may be a result of events in our own life. If you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all the commands and decrees I am giving you today all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.. Deut 28:15
Exciting praise moments as part of the conference
Positive spiritual influences
Paul wrote about Abraham, he is the father of us all. He is our father in the sight of God in whom he believed – God who quickens the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Rom 4:17)
Moses says God is God. Know therefore that the lord your God is God, he is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands (Deut 7:9)
If you come from a godly family background, it counts to your blessings. The good things you enjoy in life may not be as a result of your own faith. They may be the blessings from the overwhelming goodness of God through the Godliness of previous generations. If you do not have such a privilege in your history, determine that your children and their children’s children to a thousand generations will know Gods blessings through you.
The things you do today will impact the future. Purpose to leave a legacy. What will the future generation say about you?
Your grand children may either praise you or curse you! Of course you can not do it in your own strength but God is faithful. He is willing and waiting to work with you
Partners in prayer
Privilege of prayer
Pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer requests (Eph 6:18)
As marriage partners who recognize the influence of the unseen spiritual world on us and our family, prayer is an amazing privilege. To pray in the spirit, and to have complete victory in the spirit realm, we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit Acts 1 v 8. We will want to make it a priority to find time and space to pray alone, to pray together. Satan fears the weakest Christian upon his knees
As you learn to pray together you get drawn to each other and you understand each other more and more
Ask God to teach you how to pray and to make your husband/wife the first prayer partner.
COMMUNICATION (Samuel and Betty Macho)
Just like human beings cannot live without blood, so is the marriage without communication.
- It is an art to be learnt.
- Life without communication is very expensive.
- Marriage is all about communication/talking
- Sweet words brings healing to the soul Prov 16 v 24
There are so many levels of communication. Five of these are
1. Level one is very uncomfortable. You look for all ways to create a forum to talk. During meetings, they two people talk very little. Body language sends the message.
2. In level 2 more talking is about facts and others. Communication is more from the head not from the heart.
3. There is more talking about ideas and opinions. Opinions can be accepted or rejected.
4. Talking about feelings and opinions, and each other. The heart starts to speak.
5. Talking is about hopes and failures. One is naked and unashamed.
INTIMACY (Samuel and Betty)
- Marriage is a covenant and it has a seal. Sex is the seal of marriage. Genesis 1:27
- Touch and words of love is what arouses a woman to have desire for sex.
- men are taken/ aroused by what they see Songs 7
- A couple in a covenant marriage should understand that just as spiritual purity is the basis for spiritual intimacy, so sexual purity is the basis for sexual intimacy. They should therefore guard against counterfeits. Roman 1 v 24-27
- 1 Peter 3:7. Men should be with their wives in wisdom
- Men should be patient with their wives especially during sexual relationships. This should be through preparation, through talking and touch
- Talking during a sexual relationship between the husband and the wife is very important. This helps the couple to understand one another and to know the best way to help one another during the sexual relationship.
- Intimacy starts in the course of the day through what you talk and share. This builds up and it makes a sexual relationship very enjoyable and a source of joy and happiness as you build your marriage.
Pastor Macho demonstrates how husbands should show intimacy by kissing his wife as Pastor Julius confirms affection with his wife by touch
RENEWAL OF MARRIAGE VOWS
The renewal of marriage vows was the last session of the conference. Both husbands and wives made fresh commitments to each other, prayed for each other for the Lord to lead and guide them in the rest of their journey to eternity.
The couples conference was the first of its kind in Soroti. The conferences that have been in Soroti previous were more for leaders and occasionally women. At the close of the conference, we received invitation to do the same in Kabiramaido District.
Secondly, it was revealed to the facilitators by Pastor Julius that the Pastors in the town believe that living with a woman without being wedded in Church is alright and anyone who speaks against it is isolated. Pastor Julius said that he is a victim of this and was happy that we had told the church the truth.
Evidence to this was that half of the couples present at the conference were not officially married in church. At the close of the conference, those who were married renewed their marriage vows. Those who were not officially married stood in the line, a husband facing his wife and they made vows to each other before God and made a commitment to each other. Pastor Julius made a commitment to help these couples to complete the legal process to make their marriages official by securing them certificates since God has sanctified them.
Couple who are not married in Church making vows to each other
We are grateful to Pastor Ernest Howie for funding the conference. We acknowledge the efforts of Pastor Julius Eribu of Soroti Community Church that resulted in high turn up of couples. Above all, we thank God for His provision, protection and health, which enabled us to have this conference.
All Notes & References Compiled by John Faith Magolo
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