THE CHRISTIAN AND HIS/HER HEALTH – Healthy Living
World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of HEALTH –
Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
We can see that Science agrees with the Bible that Man is made up of three parts, though the Bible calls the three parts – SPIRIT, SOUL and BODY – That’s complete Healthy Living.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Although WHO is not much concerned about our spiritual health, God is MAJORLY concerned about that because that is His major channel of communicating with us and therefore, the spiritual controls the issues of the soul/mind and thereby controls the physical as well. It works this way – we get inputs in the form of instructions or information from our spirit-man from God or the devil; and these pass from there into our soul/mind. We also get inputs/information from outside our bodies through our five senses – sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing; and these pass into the soul/mind as well. Then all the information is processed in our mind/soul and that is where our decisions and choices are made before action is taken.
One deep truth of life is that it is primarily our relationship with God that will go a long way to cause us to live in total health – physical, mental and social health – and there are promises in Scripture to buttress this truth…
Physical health promises in Scripture
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
Here, God promises not to put/allow the diseases of Egypt (the unsaved world) upon us if we obey Him; but if we don’t, we open the door for the devil – who is the real author of sickness and disease – to come in and afflict us.
And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.
Mental health promises in Scripture
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want….3 He restoreth my soul:…
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Social health promises in Scripture
Our social health refers to our social status in the society which in turn affects our quality of life.
And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. 12 The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. 13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
And we also have a Scripture which combines all – health/prosperity of body, social status and spirit but is solely dependent on the prosperity of our soul in the things of God –
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
We have the same promise in –
That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers…
So, from the start of this talk, we can firmly agree that the closeness of our walk with God and the spiritual quality of our life in Christ as Believers will have a great impact on our health – physical, mental and social health; and that is what WHO is concerned about. Therefore, we need to take our spiritual life serious by
- fellowshipping with God privately in regular prayer, fasting and Bible study, meditation and memorization
- by regularly fellowshipping with God in the assembly of other Believers in our local assemblies
- by living a life of complete obedience to Him, in holiness and righteousness.
We shall now consider our physical, mental and social health separately and under two headings – PREVENTION and CURE.
Preventive Care –
Taking adequate measures to prevent a disease from affecting and incapacitating us is much easier, cheaper and less painful than allowing it to afflict us and going through medical treatment, or even surgery, for it. In fact, this is God’s desire for us – that we should live in health. See Ex.15:26 quoted above. It is a covenant promise for anyone who ‘comes out of Egypt’ as the Israelites just did at that point in time when the promise was given to them by God. This is what we too did, in the spirit realm, when we gave our lives to Christ.
The first and most important part of prevention of illness is LIVING A HEALTHY LIFE-STYLE (Healthy Living); which may not be easy at first but when we get used to it, we will find it quite beneficial and would not want to change it.
- Personal and Environmental Hygiene – This involves keeping our bodies and our immediate environment clean viz…
- Washing our bodies daily with soap and a sponge, especially at the end of a busy day if we live in a hot humid environment
- regular washing of hands, with soap when we visit the toilet to open our bowels
- brushing the teeth twice daily, more importantly after the last meal to clean off bits of food from our mouths. These would ferment and produce acids which dig holes in our teeth called Dental Caries
- Vigorously attack and keep mosquitoes and rats away from your house. They cause deadly diseases like Malaria and Lassa Fever. Keep grass and vegetation around the house cut low to prevent mosquitoes breeding there. Also remove all containers that may collect rain water and make a breeding site for them and ensure that all drains are moving and not stagant. Use barrier wire and mosquito netting on windows and doors and drop Sniper at your doorstep and outer walls around the doors every week to keep away mosquitoes and even cockroaches and flies from the door of the house where they tend to wait and surreptitiously follow us inside!
Cockroaches typically breed in the septic tank and carry abominable things from there on their legs into the kitchen and onto any exposed food! Same with flies as they would land on food and ‘wash’ their filthy legs onto it! They also have a nasty habit when feeding – they vomit fluid onto food to liquify it and then they suck the watery muck!
- Diet – We must eat what is called a Balanced Diet to maintain a healthy body. That means our meals must have 4 components –
- Carbohydrates or starchy component like rice, bread, cassava, potatoes, yams, cereals like maize, millet, oats and so on.
- Protein component like beans, meat, fish, eggs, milk, nuts and so on
- Vegetables like greens, tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers and so on. They are good for roughage which will ensure daily opening of the bowels
- Oils like oils from nuts, seeds like palm oil, olive oil, other vegetable oils, margarine, butter and so on.
- Vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc and so on are important for the integrity of our skin and bones especially; but once we are eating a balanced diet at least twice a day, we would have enough for our prescribed daily intake. However, women need to begin to take Calcium supplements once they are over 45years of age when their level of female hormones begin to wane, affecting the absorption of calcium into the bones.
- It is also important to eat fruits daily; any fruit in season will do if you live in the Tropics. Fruits like oranges, bananas, mangoes, pawpaw, pineapple and so on will provide added vitamin and mineral intake. They provide especially Vitamin C which is essential for strengthening our immune system and thereby prevent us from falling sick so often.
- Great care must be taken with drinking-water. Sachet/pure water is now becoming safer but you must identify one safe brand and stick to it. I believe you are better off making your own drinking water pure rather than trusting someone else to do it for you. Get a large aluminum kettle and dedicate it for boiling water for drinking and just leave the water in it to cool then bottle it and refrigerate. Do not use a pot and then start scooping with a bowl – that will contaminate it after boiling
Children and youths must eat three times a day and their breakfast or supper must include a milky drink because their bones are still growing. Adults too must drink milk daily and women must take supplementary calcium tablets from the age of 45years to maintain strength in their bones as pointed out above or they will suffer from bone aches.
You must know your body – the size, contours, skin, hair; and you should check it out in front of the mirror regularly for lumps, discolouration of the skin or any other changes. You must note the colour of your urine and stools and report any drastic change – for example deep yellow or dark urine, blood in the urine, black stools, pale stools and so on. Women must give their breasts a quick examination daily when they have their bath and their bodies are soapy and when they are dressing up, preferably in front of a mirror.
- Exercise and weight control
We must avoid living a sedentary life, sitting at desks all day long or in front of the television. Walking is a good exercise but must be brisk if you need to lose weight. Avoid putting on weight as you grow older. The main reason Christians put on weight is because we eat supper late, especially after evening services. Avoid carbohydrate meals after 5pm and reduce oil in cooking your meals if you have issues with your weight.
Curative care –
We must never ever take any sickness for granted; for the spirit of death is behind every illness. Therefore, we must not be slack in praying for healing first and foremost, but must seek for medical help if it does not subside with prayer and first-aid. Do not mistake presumption for faith, as many Christians have thereby succumbed unnecessarily to untimely death. This has been dealt with at length in another post in this same Health Section of this blog; it is titled “Is seeking for medical treatment Biblical?” Even WHO now allows mothers to treat their children with first-line anti-malaria drugs when they develop fever in the night or if a medical facility is somehow not available in the vicinity. However, they are not allowed to wait for more than 24hours if the child does not get better; and they must rush to hospital if the illness becomes worse during those 24hours.
Running stomach must be taken seriously, especially in children, in the aged and in pregnancy. The water lost in the stools must be promptly replaced with ORT (Oral Rehydration Therapy) fluid, made by adding half teaspoon of salt and 6 level teaspoons or 6 cubes of sugar to 1 litre of boiled cooled water. For an adult, it is preferable to boil a tea-bag in the water – about a tea bag to two litres of water – and then add the sugar and salt proportionately. The tea will release some essential electrolytes lost in the watery stools; especially potassium. Loss of potassium leads to extreme weakness and can adversely affect the heart too. If stooling does not stop within a few hours or if there is blood in the stools, the person must go to hospital. When stooling is combined with vomiting, it is a medical emergency and no time must be wasted in seeking medical intervention so that the fluids lost can be replaced with intravenous drips.
Common fevers –
Typhoid is a vicious killer because it mimics other simpler sicknesses like malaria; and therefore, diagnosis may be delayed; hence, it is important for us to know the difference between the symptoms of malaria and those of typhoid –
|S/N||SYMPTOMS OF DISEASE||ACUTE MALARIA||TYPHOID FEVER|
|1.||Feeling of unwell||Worse in the early afternoon and at night||Present all day and night|
|2.||High fever||High in the evenings and night||High at all times|
|3.||Change in bowel movement||Loose and frequent||Constipation with tiny hard stools|
The headache of typhoid fever is also much worse than that of malaria.
You must not assume that it is typhoid if you don’t feel better after taking a dose of anti-malaria drugs because it may just be drug resistant malaria. Therefore, it is better to get a blood test done if you are not better after two days on malaria medication. Vitamins and blood supplements must not be taken with Artesunate-based anti-malaria drugs (ACT) because the supplements have been found to actually interfere with and weaken the ACT’s action against the malaria parasites. The supplements can be taken after the course of ACT has been completed.
Injury, burns and boils –
There must be some kind of first-aid kit in the house, especially when we have young children. As well, it is handy for Pastors because people rush to a Pastor’s house for prayers at the first sign of illness or even injury. It may sometimes be necessary to add some kind of first-aid to prayers. A good first-aid box must contain –
- Cotton wool
- Gauze and plaster with small scissors for cutting them; or plaster with dressing already on it.
- Iodine or TBC to apply to wounds and cuts
- Dettol for cleaning wounds and cuts
- Shea butter for boils etc – put that in the fridge so it will not go bad
- Damazine/Flamazine cream for burns.
- Aloe vera is also useful for cuts and burns so keep a pot of it somewhere in the garden.
If there is a blunt injury and there is a swelling, DO NOT PRESS OR MANIPULATE THE LUMP; it will just make the internal bleeding worse! Just fold some ice into a hanky and apply it gently to the lump. If the skin is just grazed and not cut, wash it with Dettol and apply Iodine with cotton wool. If the skin is cut and blood is flowing but not pumping, drop some Dettol into water, dip some cotton-wool in it, squeeze it, place it on the wound and press on it to stop the bleeding. Cut some gauze for the wound, drop some TBC on it and later apply it to the wound. TBC becomes sticky as it dries and therefore makes a good dressing for small shallow wounds. It will stop also the bleeding and as well prevent the wound from becoming infected. It can be changed after a few days or if it falls off when bathing.
If the blood is pumping and the wound is large, place a large wad of gauze with cotton-wool on the wound and tie it firmly with a cloth – not too tight – and rush to the hospital for medical intervention.
For burns, if it is caused by hot water and is a small patch, and the skin is not broken, place it under a running tap till the sting subsides then smear some Damazine or shea butter on it, and leave it open. Dress it like that daily after bath with Dettol soap till it heals. If it is a small patch and the skin is broken, place under the tap till the sting subsides and then smear Damazine cream or aloe vera gel on it; NOT USE SHEA BUTTER IF THE SKIN IS BROKEN! If it is a large portion of the body that is burnt, involving hot oil or direct fire, don’t touch it, just go to the hospital fast.
Boils will subside with shea butter if it is small and the skin is not broken and you start shea butter treatment early. If it is large and the skin breaks, you will need antibiotics, so go to hospital.
Silent killer diseases –
These are mainly hypertension and diabetes mellitus (DM). The only way to check-mate these two diseases is EARLY DETECTION; so, make sure that from the age of 20 years, get your blood pressure checked at least twice a year or at any time you have persistent headache especially without fever. As for DM, look out for excessive thirst plus excessive passing of urine, especially up to 4 or 5 times in the night. Also, if you notice sugar ants in the toilet drinking your urine if you did not flush it down, you must go and get your blood sugar done.
It is also good to have free hypertension and diabetes screening programs in our locality as part of our Evangelical Church outreaches.
The above are the common basic illnesses which we encounter day to day in the home. Anything more serious which you do not understand, for instance, any lumps anywhere, abnormal bleeding and so on, must be reported at the clinic.
Mental illnesses fall under two main categories – Neurosis and Psychosis.
Neurosis is the milder form of mental illness and includes excessive fear, abnormal levels of worry, isolation, unnecessary distrust of even those you should trust, attention-seeking behaviours like women who dress in such a way as to expose their breasts and places that only their husbands should see and such like – this is called Exhibitionism even though the world call it fashion!
Psychosis is frank mental illness that makes a person to hallucinate and see things, especially imaginary enemies; talk to invisible people, become violent and may even go naked and run into the streets. Drugs like cocaine, LSD and so on tend to produce the same effects. So do demons.
We shall discuss mental illness under Prevention and Cure taken together.
Prevention and cure –
A woman’s mental health depends largely on her husband because of the curse after the fall of Man. God declared over the woman that “…your desire and longing will be for your husband…” Gen.3:16. This makes the natural woman to long for marriage and when married, she longs for her husband’s attention and approval; and where this is lacking, many women suffer mental agony. But if her husband loves and cherishes her, she will blossom and remain largely mentally and physically healthy. To make it easy to love and pamper his wife was singularly why God created the woman from the man; so that he will see her as SELF and therefore treat her as he does himself! The Bible says “…for no one ever hated himself…” See Eph.5:28,29. So if a man does not take good care of his wife, she is likely to become quite unhealthy after she gets married, developing sleep abnormalities – too much or too little – depression, hypertension, ulcers, hormonal imbalance which may even affect her reproduction… and so on. The Bible says that the woman reflects the glory of her husband just like the moon reflects the glory of the sun, “…but the woman is the glory of man” 1Cor.11:7c
As a Christian Doctor who has practiced medicine for decades before retiring into full-time Ministry, I have found that mental illnesses are simply caused by demonization of the mind, demonic oppression of the person or frank demonic possession of the person; and, I make bold to declare that the only cure is DELIVERANCE by the Power of the Holy Spirit, enforcing the atonement work of the Lord Jesus on the Cross through violent prayers with fasting; just as the Lord declared in Matt.17:21, after casting out a spirit of epilepsy from a boy: He said, However this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting”. In all my medical life since 1973, I have never seen a mad person get better and become normal again permanently, until I came in contact with a deliverance ministry in 1994! Psychiatric drugs only repress the patient and prevent the demons from manifesting through him, that’s all!
A Holy Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled Christian who prays regularly and reads the Bible regularly and obeys all they teach in a Bible-believing Church, is unlikely to suffer from mental illness because the Word of God renews and refreshes and restores the soul/mind and drives away demons; especially the Word memorized and declared regularly. Demons hate to hear the Word of God and they are also grieved when we sing His praises. As well, the Holy Spirit and demons cannot live together in or around a Christian unless there is a part of our lives that we have refused to surrender to God. If we still wallow in pride, anger, unforgiveness, laziness, covetousness and so on, then we leave room for demons to attack. Or if there is incomplete deliverance or there is a demonic or idolatrous object in the house.
Having said all that, it is important to get medical care if the person does not respond to initial prayers so that we do not endanger his life and that of people around him because they could get violent or suicidal or both.
SOCIAL HEALTH –
We need to consider social health because unhealthy social living can cause numerous diseases in the body and also affect the mind.
Our social life has to do with our status in life, our success in our life endeavours and our inter-personal relationships with our family, friends and colleagues. If a person constantly feels like a failure in life for a long time, he can develop high blood pressure, suicidal thoughts or frank mental illness and so on. A Christian, who still maintains a worldly social life and still smokes and drinks alcohol, can expect to develop such terrible diseases like cancer of the lungs and liver, cirrhosis of the liver, as well as heart and blood vessel diseases which these poisons cause. Sexual promiscuity makes a person prone to a series of sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, syphilis, herpes and the dreaded HIV/AIDS, cancer of the mouth of the womb; and also unwanted pregnancy and the dangers associated with abortion.
Social health – The Woman –
The Christian woman’s whole social life revolves mainly round her home –
1) her husband or lack of husband
2) her children or lack of children. If she has children, then she would be concerned about their well-being and success in life
3) her home and if there are adequate security, love, provisions and so on
She is also mindful of her job/trade and her Church activities. Global economic downturn has forced many women to even become bread-winners, a burden for which she was not created at all! She was only meant to be a help-meet, an assistant to her husband. All these would put pressure on her and her relationships, especially with her husband and her family and she could become resentful and bad tempered.
The same Word of God goes for us all in all these stressful circumstances of life – do not worry about it, just take it to God in prayer; and, let me add this, avoid worldly counsellors! We are able to do all things through the strength Christ provides. And if we take time to teach our children early in life to walk with God, they will not be a source of anxiety as they grow older and need to take life-decisions more and more.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. ‘
The woman is particularly vulnerable and socially insecure when she is pregnant and when she has just had a baby. The husband has a lot of work to do here as he must take pains to make her feel loved and still beautiful even though she is bloated up out of her normal shape. We shall briefly consider Reproductive Health later in this study.
Social health – The Man –
I was once asked to teach the Men’s Fellowship in my local assembly on a topic, “Why do men die early?” and I knew I needed to consider the spiritual aspect as well so I took it to God. And this is what God told me –
Now, the initial mandate God gave to Adam was this – And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Gen.2:15. That means that the man naturally carries the weight of the responsibility of governing his home and he is responsible for protection, provision and direction. The first family represents mankind and their home was to be the first and the model home for all time. This mandate was given to Adam before he was given a helpmeet and before The Fall of Man. After The Fall came the divine curse of Gen.3:17-19,
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;…
The curse then began to strive with that original mandate given him was to WORK as a gardener of a well-watered garden, who would eat of the ever-available variety of fruits in the garden, including those of the Tree of Life which is The Word of God. As well, hidden in the garden was gold, onyx and bdellium, three precious fruits of the earth which would make him very wealthy indeed. But he rather ate of the forbidden Tree of knowledge which stands for the worldly mentality which says, I know what to do by myself, my learning, my friends’ counsel, our traditions, our culture…! That decision promptly condemned Man to the life of TOIL as a farmer of a cursed dry land!
Now, our bodies were created by God specifically for the heavenly mandate He has for us on earth. The Lord Jesus puts it like this in Heb.10:5,7 –
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me… Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’ ”’
Because His earthly mandate was to die on the Cross for us, the Lord Jesus, being God, needed a body that could be beaten and broken and then hung on the Cross to bleed and die. So, for the original mandate of Adam as a gardener of a well-watered garden, the body prepared for that relatively menial work could not withstand the rigours of the toil of a farmer of a cursed soil! Besides, sin has now entered the equation and sin causes the body to become susceptible to diseases and that is why the antidote for sickness was given as complete obedience to God in Ex.15:26
and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”’
So, this is what caused the strain on a man’s body till date which causes it to wear out before that of the woman even though she too has to carry babies and go through hard labour! The good news is that The Second Adam came and hung on the Cross, poured His Blood on the ground and broke the curse off man and the ground!…
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Therefore, any Spirit-filled redeemed man who feeds on The Tree of Life daily can expect to have good success in his chosen endeavours in life without the hard labour brought on by the curse. See Jos.1:8 quoted earlier. Men must take time to break that curse with warfare prayers and fasting, using that Word of God in Gal.3:13,14; reminding Satan, themselves and every challenge, that the curse of fruitless toil and labour has been broken at Calvary 2000 years ago. Amen!
There are, of course, other reasons why men die earlier than women; a major one being that men have the problem of The Macho Complex. They believe that they are so strong and unbreakable and so they take on stressful challenges without adequate precautions. Also, men mostly don’t get enough rest and they don’t seek for medical or spiritual help in time! The way out is to remember that your life belongs first to God and your body belongs to your wife and therefore, you have no right to endanger either by taking unnecessary risks. Take time to rest after work and at weekends and take your annual leave even in bits if your office cannot afford for you to be away for too long, DO NOT ACCUMULATE IT! Meanwhile, endeavour to regularly spend quality time with God and with your family; you will find both relaxing indeed.
Social heath – The Young –
Babies, toddlers and co
It has been scientifically proven that if a baby is starved of love long enough, he/she will surely develop anti-social behavioural patterns as he/she grows up. It was found that babies whose mothers die at childbirth actually mourn for her and can die if they are left in the hospital and not cuddled and loved by a mother-figure, like the granny, an auntie or even volunteers who may be total strangers to the baby. It has also been found that babies who lose a parent before the age of two years – maybe through death or separation through divorce – tend to develop mental illness and anti-social behaviour later in life. Therefore, it is imperative to show love to babies by touching them and talking to them and praying over them, even from the womb. This must continue as the child grows up, remembering that love and affection do not preclude disciplining the child when hemisbehaves, and the earlier the better. Discipline is an integral part of love – you are simply telling the child that you love him too much to let him grow up thinking he can do whatever he likes and get away with it. Discipline involves a system of reward for both good and bad behaviour so that he will seek to do good and not just avoid doing bad.
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? ‘
- The greatest social worry of the youth is acceptance, first from his parents and then from authority figures in school, from his peers and also from his other regular contacts. Their growing pangs include agonizing thus – Do people love me? Am I accepted, or am not good-looking enough or brilliant enough? And so on. They may not suffer too much if we as parents have always shown them enough love and attention at home; and have also earned their trust such that they would share their fears and burdens with us. We must also teach them how to cultivate a good relationship with God and a good knowledge of His Word, as these are mandatory for anyone to live a healthy social life. We must also teach them about the unfailing unconditional love and acceptance of God, the Father for them as His children. Eph.1:3-6 is a good Scripture for them to memorize…
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
- The second worry of the youth is finances – will I have enough for my education and other needs like nice clothes, shoes and so on? This worry drives the youths, especially young women, into sexual immorality with all the attendant health hazards. We must urge them to memorize the words of the Lord Jesus in Matt.6:25-34 quoted above. They should also learn early to trust God and fast and pray for their needs and for their parents’ finances.
We must keep a close tab lovingly on our youths, urging them to keep their bodies pure so that they can have a good life in Christ, both physically and spiritually. We must assure them that they have nothing to gain from playing adult games which can derail their divine destiny in many ways and leave them with a fragmented, unfulfilled life. And we must beg them that if they have made a mistake and become pregnant or their girlfriend or friend is pregnant, THEY MUST NOT EVEN THINK OF ABORTION! ABORTION IS THE PREMEDITATED MURDER OF THE BABY AND ATTEMPTED MURDER OF THE MOTHER, that is, if she survives it! Every youth must see it as their duty mandated by God to report anyone they know who is contemplating abortion, or else they become a partaker of that sin.
I repeat for emphasis – Abortion is the murder of an innocent soul, the amputation of that unknown glorious destiny. It is also the attempted murder of the pregnant woman if she survives. Once you are pregnant, do not add problem upon problem and go to hell on as well! We must strive to become close friends of our children so that they will feel free to confess any misconduct to us as parents or to an adult they can trust, such as an aunt or a Pastor. A pregnant girl can have her baby and continue her education, with the loving support of her family after she and the boy have been duly rebuked. The baby can be cared for by her mother or a trusted relative even on the side of the boy. If it is an older man, he must be mandated to take full responsibility for the baby. At the end of it all, the little mother would only have lost a year or so of school which is incomparable to losing her life altogether!
- The third worry of the youth is will I pass my exams? This can drive youths to cheating at the exam hall which is a crime. Failure at exams has also driven some to commit suicide. We must make them to understand that education is good but it is not worth their going to jail for; and, for sure, it is not worth their going to hell for! The person who takes his own life has broken God’s commandment, Thou shalt not kill!20:13. Even in their despair, they must remember always that the Bible says in Eccl.9:4 –
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
We must teach them that once they focus on their studies, attend classes, study and pray, the Lord’s promise to them is sure, that the Holy Spirit will not only teach them Himself, but will also remind them of what they have learnt in class when exams come.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
- The fourth worry of the youth is who will I marry? And they may begin to experiment with relationships with the opposite sex even though they are not ready for marriage! All they need at this point is to commit it to God in fasting and prayer and He will lead them to their Adam or Eve! They must learn a lesson from the life of Samson, who is the only one in the Bible who had all manner of girlfriends/wives – he lost his calling and ended up in an untimely grave through one of them. Youths must learn to wait till God is ready to give them their mate as He did for Isaac in Gen.ch.24 which is a good Scripture to study as well as the whole Book of Ruth for those seeking their divine mates.
Biblical Family Planning and child-spacing
It is quite Biblical for a couple to prayerfully determine the number of children they will have and to allow about two years spacing between them. That it is Biblical can be deduced from the simple fact that most people who served God and made impact recorded in Scripture had few children; except Abraham and Jacob. Abraham had six more children apart from Isaac and Ishmael, after Sarah died and he took another wife named Keturah. See Gen.25. It is believed that Keturah’s children became the first to bring the knowledge of the God of Abraham to Africa and that is why we have black Jews in East Africa till today.
The Patriarch Jacob had the mandate to give birth to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and the extra one girl, Tamar, lived a tragic, desolate life. Others like Gideon had 70 children by all manner of women and after his death, one of them killed them all, save one, in one single day! See Judges Chapter 9. What a waste!
Raising Godly children properly is expensive and time-consuming and this will interfere with our divine destiny if we have too many to raise. God and His purpose and mandate for our lives must be the singular basis for all we do in life. Truth be told, God Himself did not create the woman with the ability to become pregnant every day of the month. A woman can only conceive during the five days at the middle of her monthly cycle which is when she produces an egg to be fertilized by her husband’s seed; thereby making it easy for us to plan the births of our children by using barrier methods of family planning during those days. These methods simply prevent the seed for meeting the egg and they include use of jelly, foam, diaphragm, condoms – both male and female condoms. There are also methods that suppress the production of eggs in the woman, by taking hormone pills or injections or implants.
There is really only one form of Family planning that is not Biblical – the intra-uterine devices, called IUD or coils; because they work by preventing the tiny living ovum formed from the union of the woman’s egg and the man’s seed in the fallopian tubes from finding a place to attach itself to the wall of the mother’s womb. It then falls out and dies, totally unnoticed. That way, IUDs/coils lead to serial and silent abortions of newly-formed foetuses which are potential human babies.
Pregnancy and confinement –
This is discussed separately from sickness and disease because it is a natural function of the woman’s body and not a disease. When you realise that you are pregnant, you must go to ante-natal clinic and register by the second month, preferably in the same medical facility where you will deliver the baby. Many Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in Nigeria have now been upgraded to give good ante-natal care and some do take normal deliveries of single births. The government general hospitals are good too, and if that is all one can afford, all well and good! Our real hope for safe delivery should be in our God to whom we commit it all. At the ante-natal clinics, you will be given regular physical examinations plus intermittent blood and urine tests, to forestall any condition that will threaten your life and that of the baby. Take your drugs and immunisations (like anti-tetanus injections) seriously please.
The baby’s ears are formed early in the womb and it has been found that they can hear sounds from outside the womb, especially our voices, as early as about 20 weeks! So be careful what you and your family discuss to the baby’s hearing as this has been found to affect the baby later in life. For instance, if there is a lot of loud angry arguments about having another baby, the child will likely attract a spirit of rejection from the womb and I know of two such cases who later attempted suicide during crises as young adults! Father and mother must prophesy aloud regularly over the baby, read Scriptures to him, especially Psalm 139, and play Gospel music aloud.
When it is getting near the time of the delivery of your baby, pack a small suitcase ready to take to the hospital, containing all the items on the list given to you at the ante-natal clinic. After the baby is born, they will put him to the breast immediately because there is a clear fluid there already, called Colostrum, which is loaded with immune-proteins which immunize him against deadly childhood killer diseases like malaria, measles and so on, up to the first 6 months of life.
After about three days of suckling the baby, full scale breast milk will flow out to him. Do not be afraid to give the baby freely for the first year of life if you can, because breast-feeding has many physical and psychological benefits for both mother and child. For one, the baby grows up secure in the mother’s love and there is good bonding between them which will make for good friendship as they grow up. Many women are afraid that breast-feeding will make their breasts to become flabby and sag, but this is not so! It is gravity pull and not suckling a baby that cause sagging; so your breasts will retain their shape if you wear a bigger and more comfortable bra all the time from the first month of pregnancy to support the swelling breasts and prevent them from being dragged downwards by gravity.
Feeding the Infant
I find that African babies, especially the boys, need to start eating watery cereals in addition to breast milk from an early age, say by three months because they get really hungry and cannot be satisfied with breast-milk alone. However, you must not allow the breast-milk intake to diminish. Later, from about nine months, you need to gradually introduce the baby to your normal family meals. I had a nephew who could not eat a single grain of rice without vomiting at age two because solid food was not introduced early! I recommend an excellent book which I used for my first born in 1972 and for the others too, written by Dr Irene Ighodalo, Baby’s First Year.
There is also a last chapter on practical preparation of a toddler’s diet in one of my books awaiting publication, called Godly Parenting. Please look out for it.
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