Real – A Faith-Based Book Review by ‘Sike Osinuga

Real – A Faith-Based Book Review by ‘Sike Osinuga

I love the idea of friendships. As such, a book that offers good insights into nurturing deep and healthy friendships is always a winner for me, even more so one that purposefully draws from biblical wisdom.

So you can imagine how my face lit up when I received a marketing email from a trusted publishing house about a new book on friendship they had just released – Real : The surprising secret to deeper relationships, by Catherine Parks.

I might as well have come up with the book’s subtitle, as I found the secret it offers to deeper relationships quite surprising indeed!

Watching the short video clip included in the email promo, I knew it was a book I would enjoy reading. In fact right there and then I saved an almost blank draft, bearing the book title alone, of the book recommendation I knew was coming. Never mind that I hadn’t placed an order for the book or even added it to my shopping basket just yet. Shortly after, I got the book and leapt in right away!

Parks writes with authenticity, as she shares her experience of journeying from superficial friendships to soul-baring, life-giving ones. Some attributes that featured in her pursuit of change were intentionality and dissatisfaction with ‘the current state of affairs’. Realising the irony of wanting depth without opening up, closeness while keeping her distance, she gradually began to uncover the secret to deeper relationships – Repentance and being real with oneself, others and most fundamentally with God. In seven short chapters, the author explores the dynamics and practicality of  what being real in each of those three areas looks like. Each chapter closes with a handful of helpful questions and ideas that help readers process thoughts in a personal way.

In Real, we get a glimpse of what true repentance looks like, as modelled by the bible character David. A chapter is devoted to this, highlighting the depth of David’s otherwise unassuming confession in Psalm 5 1, and the deep joy he experiences as a result of turning away from sin and turning to God.

The book’s compact size and the author’s engaging writing style lend it as an easy and enjoyable read. Throughout its one hundred and fifty pages, Parks maintains a sharp focus on the gospel, and the bright hope it offers.

In a world of picture-perfect images and endless filters, authenticity is rare, rarer still is the idea of real friendships. Yet all hope is not lost. If you long for the kind of friendship where you can let your guard down, and not have to constantly manage perception, then Parks has some practical wisdom to pass along.

I missed posting this as the book recommendation for last month, but it’s never too late to pick up a good book to read. I hope you do.

Thanks for reading!

Sike Osinuga

Bridge to Haven

Bridge to Haven


Book: Bridge to Haven

Author: Francine Rivers

Genre: Christian fiction

If I were ever to meet Francine Rivers, I would ask her why a number of her novels are about people who have taken unpretty roads in life – I’m talking sinful, inner brokenness, rejection, shame, loss, abuse even – and then, in and through their pain, they have found their way to healing, restoration, purpose, and Jesus.

It takes someone who has been God-called to reach broken people, to weave together the kind of stories that Francine Rivers weaves together. Bridge to Haven is one such book.

Bridge to Haven is about a girl, Abra, who was abandoned at birth by her birth mother, found and taken in by the kind Pastor of the small town that she was born in, only for her to be ‘given away’ again, when the Pastor’s wife died.

The story centres around how the devastating losses that Abra suffered, right from birth, dragged her down a path of mercilessly broken hearts and broken dreams. In her quest to purge herself of the feelings of abandonment and rejection, Abra leaves her home town at the age of 17, clinging to a ‘golden boy’ who promises her love, acceptance and a future with bright lights.

Abra quickly discovers that she has hung her dreams on hooks extended by a decadent playboy who will stop at nothing, including using her as a sex-slave, to catapult himself in life. Ashamed, she cannot bring herself to return home.

Abra seems to get her big break when her ‘golden boy’ tires of her and passes her off to a Hollywood talent hunter, Frank Moss. However, that dream dies out quite quickly when Frank shows himself to be just another puppeteer who wants to use and abuse her to make a name for himself.

Abra does rise in Hollywood, but her fame leaves her soul and heart in tatters. It turns out that she ran away from the fire of her painful past, straight into a furnace of never ending heartache.

How will she find that healing and wholeness she longs for? How will she come to make sense of her birth story and of the unravelling that she has endured since then? How will she come to see that the choices she is making as she reaches for meaning in the mess, are only making her life more unbearable? How will Abra make her way home, to the arms of the One who actually birthed her, her Father in Heaven, God, the Lover of her soul?

You will have to read Bridge to Haven to find out.

My thoughts

This book will take you on the emotional roller coaster of your literary life! The depths of pain and brokenness revealed in Abra’s story is heart wrenching! You will watch ‘helplessly’ as this vulnerable young girl goes through pounding after pounding until you think her heart can possibly not take it anymore.

The book takes you through the workings of a heart that was born into abandonment; the disillusionment, the questions, the stone wall that one builds around one’s heart, all because of the fear of being hurt and rejected yet again. You will see how one’s life experiences can indeed craft one’s life story, and dictate one’s identity, one’s lifestyle, and ultimately, one’s life path.

This really is a gripping tale of the realities of hurt and brokenness, and the fact that many of us try to fill those jagged cracks in our hearts, with experiences and exposures that only serve to widen the cracks.

Relevance to current affairs

I love this part!

Bridge to Haven is very relevant right now, in light of the #MeToo movement. Right now, many people in the entertainment industry are stepping up and spotlighting the sexual and other exploitation that Hollywood and the broader entertainment industry is built on.

In this book, Francine Rivers shows how, like a monster, the entertainment industry feeds on young, naïve and eager hopefuls. And sadly, when any of these are also broken-hearted folks who have come to Hollywood on the run from their past, or to reach for what they think will be the balm to their souls, some may end up caught in the net and cut up.

The ‘God view’

Francine Rivers succeeds in telling a very ‘worldly tale’, all the while keeping God’s dogged love, involvement and passion to heal and restore, as the primary theme.

I love that she did that, because it reflects the way God does not cause our painful life stories, neither does He cause us to respond to our inner brokenness or pains, by making life choices that only entrench the pain. Yet, He remains present and very much at work to draw us to His healing love, and to free us from the emotional, spiritual and sometimes physical chains that we keep winding around ourselves.

I do however feel that Francine Rivers, perhaps in a rush to close off the book, was a bit simplistic in Abra’s eventual ‘healing’ experience. The story took us through a heart-wrenching ride of a few hundred pages, only to have everything become okay in the last two chapters. It felt a bit too rushed, but yet again, seeing Abra restored and finding her identity in God is something that you will spend the whole book looking forward to.

Rating and Recommendation

I would give this book four out of five stars.

I would recommend this book to anyone from adolescence to adulthood, male or female. This is a real story that many of us can identify with, even if the actual events have not happened in our lives. There is no one who has not had some painful experiences in childhood, in teenage years, in adolescence … you may even be experience the painful ‘roots-and-routes’ now.

Life experiences shape us. They mould us into identities and lifestyle choices, and if we are not intentional about handing ourselves over to God to help us to extract the life lessons that are good, and untangle ourselves from the bad, we will find ourselves spiraling, like Abra was.

But Jesus loves us so much, that even for those of us who make His work so hard, by running from Him 24/7, and sabotaging His attempts to grab our attention, He never gives up trying. He never gives up on placing lifelines all along the way to snatch us out of the mire and set us up on a healing path.

Long story short, read this book.

And read the bit below about The B.O.O.M Walk Program too. It is very much connected with this book, Bridge to Haven.

Written by Toyin Oladiran for The Narrow Gateway

 The B.O.O.M Walk Program by Toyin Oladiran

We all come from somewhere. We all have our battle scars. We all have those life experiences, past or even ongoing, that have forced us into shadowy corners in our lives, preventing us from living fully, loving fully and most of all, serving God to the uttermost.

Some of us have carried on in this way, and gone on to do life ‘normally’, to become pastors, engineers, fathers, builders, lovers, secretaries, government officials, wives, teachers, sports coaches, gym instructors, you name it. Yet many are living a façade; a classic tale of smokes and mirrors. Many are carrying around, and being defined by those pivotal life experiences. Many have learnt to accept that this is just the way life is – living with and from the baggage.

What’s your scar? Where does it come from? Is it still driving your thoughts and responses to life? Are you tired of your scars keeping you wedged off into the fringes and sidelines of life, constantly angry, bitter, frustrated, rejected, insecure, proud, self-righteous … etc?

That’s what you and I will be tackling with the HOLY SPIRIT in The B.O.O.M WALK PROGRAM.💥

This Program is for EVERYONE…
…Yes, I said EVERYONE!

Be careful now. Do not think that only people who struggle with what we erroneously call ‘the big sins’ like murder, slavery, adultery etc struggle with the ‘Old Man’ (‘B.O.O.M’ stands for ‘bow out, Old Man’). Yes those are reflections of the ‘Old Man’ at work, but for the vast majority of people, the traits of the ‘Old Man’ are way more subtle, and internal.

I’m talking anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, self-righteousness, pride, fear, insecurity, rebellion against God, inferiority complex, lack of self-control…the list can go on.

The ‘Old Man’ thrives in secrecy… it’s all about the state of the mind, isn’t it?

Come on. Do not be afraid! And do not settle for more of the same!

Click here now to indicate your interest and to begin to prepare your heart and your spaces. The kind of transformation we are talking about here does not come by the click of a finger, neither does it come by lurking in a spectator’s seat. You need to take a bold step, own who you are and where you are at, and come along, for The B.O.O.M Walk Program.

I cannot WAIT to work with you. And if I am so excited about it, imagine how God, the Incredible Lover of your soul feels?😉

Hugs and Love,

Toyin Oladiran (Christian Transformational Coach and Creator of The B.O.O.M Walk Program)

The Narrow Gateway

We back your bold and brazen quest for #thatGodlife that is found by those who dare to enter by “the narrow way”.

Click here to get your free access to our edgy programs, podcasts, videos, blog-posts. Get the practical support that you need, to do life differently; to respond to life by taking the road less travelled.

‘The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality’ by Luke Wilkerson

‘The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality’ by Luke Wilkerson

The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality –  A Book Review

Wow! Did I just go there? Yes, I just did. This is book is about “Biblical Sexuality” something that is pretty NON-PC to talk about. Yup. But hey, W.I.T.N.G right? What Is The Narrow Gateway? We ask the question whenever we encounter life’s different faces and phases. Even when it requires being non-PC. Wow! What a book though! Let’s dig in.

Yay or Nay?

So it’s a total Yay from me! Yes this is a must-read and must-apply guide or tool for parents to use to introduce their kids (ages 6 – 10) to ‘the good about sex’ as God intended it (the writer has tools for other age ranges as well, starting from the age of 3!). For many parents, Christians or not, discussing sex, with kids is taboo or at the very least, a cheeks-flushing, palms-sweaty affair. But this book navigates that beautifully by being a simple and plainly written tool and Bible-study guide, both for the parent and child. the talk: 7 tools worksheetsIt plainly explains that in a world that is highly sexualised, where from infancy, kids are exposed to images, stories, rhetoric, that feeds them with various worldviews about sex everywhere they turn, a parent has to be intentional and proactive about engaging their children about sex, and doing so in a timely, sustainable, and edifying manner. This is the way behind the narrow gate.

The approach in the book is educational and practical in that it guides the parent to teach the child in a safe and sanitised way about the biology of the male and female body, where babies come from and what sex is, physically. With that critical foundation laid, the author goes on to deep dive in a child friendly way, into the Biblical values that underpin sex, by asking the questions “Is sex God? Is sex good? Is sex gross?” How clever?! And it works!

The author does three things that I personally love. One, he spends time on us parents, schooling us into understanding that our role is to teach and model Biblical sexuality to our kids. It is our task to show them what safe, love and intimacy looks like within marriage and why it is worth defying the world’s standards for. In addition, the author demonstrates that parents should not expect their kids buy into our censorship of what they fill their minds with (TV, music, Internet usage, type of friends they hang out with, language they use, places they go to) yet they see us living completely uncensored lives.

Two, a very key point the book brings out is the link between a kid growing up in an over-sexualised environment, and the heightened risk of sexual abuse. It also highlights the key preventative role that intentional parenting (including close relationships of trust between parent and child) and engagement on sex, especially Biblical sexual values, can play in protecting your child from sexual abuse or at the very least ongoing sexual abuse.

Three, I love the way he cleverly draws a close link between intentional parenting around sexuality and increasing the likelihood of your child developing or maintaining a healthy, balanced and biblical mindset about sex, notwithstanding the environment.

I could go on and on…but let me stop here before I re-write the book for you all! 🙂 This book is literally a script for parents to use to engage kids on sex and the aim is to help children to see that God created sex, it is good, it is not a thing of shame and it should not be used or engaged in in a manner that brings or causes shame.

Format and style

The author starts with a simple and to-the-point introduction of the concepts around parents introducing Biblical Sexuality to kids. He then delves into a 7-lesson “Study” with each lesson having clear and concise content points, an anchor Bible passage, talking points for parents, as well as questions the parent can ask the kids to engage them in the topic.

Each lesson is just a few pages long. In fact, one or two of the lessons were not even more than a page long! So its to-the-point stuff. You don’t have to be afraid of losing the kids in too much detail. Besides the content is actually interesting and engaging and you are likely to find that the kids stay glued to your side for the whole lesson, and they may even want to go through the next lesson with you right then and there!

The book ends off with a few round-off points and references to other resources that I found helpful and I have actually tapped into those as well.

Time to Read

I finished it in about 2 hours cumulatively. So its a quick read.

References to other resources

  1. The talk: Changes imageThe author has a resource platform, much like ours here at The Narrow Gateway, though he focuses very much on introducing Biblical sexuality to kids of different ages and ranges, helping kids handle exposure to porn, navigate the risk of sexual abuse (including child on child abuse). The website is
  2. is an internet accountability and filtering tool to encourage your accountable use of the Internet. It basically keeps track of your use of the Internet on whatever platforms you instal the tool, and it provides a periodic report to your nominated accountability partner.


I gave this book 5 stars on Amazon’s Goodreads, and I would do that again, and again, and again. Yes, it was that awesome.

Written by Toyin Oladiran (

18 May 2017

Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge

Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge

Every Woman’s Battle, by Shannon Ethridge – A Book Review

This is one of those books that smack you upside the head, yet you can’t help but keep coming back for more whams! It’s about a woman’s emotional and sexual integrity and fulfilment in marriage. BOOM! Are you a woman who is married but does not experience emotional or sexual fulfilment? Perhaps you even ‘saved yourself’ for marriage and you had high expectations about what your emotional and sexual life post-marriage would be like, but the reality is falling far short of all your long awaited dreams and desires.

This book might be for you. It’s all about how the Lord wants to redeem your mind-space as a woman, and restore integrity, so that in marriage, you can enjoy His plan for your emotional and sexual fulfilment.

Shannon Ethridge speaks from the heart, and from experience, about the real struggle that women face, yes, including Christian women, when it comes to emotional and sexual intimacy, emotional and sexual fulfilment, desire, attraction e.t.c. within marriage. She squarely  acknowledges the fact that many Christian women get married and experience dissatisfaction in this area of their lives, and though there may be a number of reasons for this, one of those reasons is the subject of ‘Every Woman’s Battle’, that is, brokenness in a woman’s mind-space.

Shannon writes about how the liberties that a woman takes in her mind (and often this may translate to action) may hinder her from experiencing and enjoying emotional and sexual intimacy and fulfilment within marriage. The narrative is based on the premise that if you believe that it is God’s desire for you as a woman to experience complete emotional and sexual fulfilment in marriage, and your goal as a woman is to discover and live in God’s plan for this area of your life, then you need to be quite real about the line in the sand that you may have drawn that allows you to comfortably engage your mind in fantasy and flirtation, thinking that you are still in the ‘safe zone’ as long as you do not actually physically put any action to these thought and behaviour patterns. Basically the book postulates that women are tempted first and foremost by what they think about and what they allow to be introduced into their thoughts and emotional life, and therefore, this is where the process of attaining God’s plan for your sexual and emotional fulfilment should begin.

Deep! Not your typical Sunday church service sermon, certainly! But definitely something that resonates with anyone who does not shy away from the tough-talk, and who likes to call a spade a spade! Just as a teaser, Shannon confronts  real issues like the fact that many women, practice what they believe is casual and innocent fantasy or flirtation. For instance, some women fantasize about what it would be like to be married to so and so, or what life would be like if they had married someone else, or if their own husband died, leaving them free to marry someone else. Some women flirt with men other than their husbands and also entertain their advances, thinking that as long as ‘nothing physical happens’ they are in the clear. Shannon then discusses the impact of such patterns of thinking and living, on a woman’s ability to wholly give herself into her love and sex relationship in marriage, and how this diminishes her capacity to experience the joy of emotional and sexual fulfilment in marriage.

After working with you to address what is sexual impurity, and to demonstrate how this actually robs us as women from experiencing true, unfettered sexual and emotional fulfilment in marriage, Shannon then takes her time to show women that the Lord’s grace and love is available to help women untangle themselves from these patterns by taking every thought captive and by filling our mind-spaces (which we are big upon here at The Narrow Gateway) so that we can, in submitting to God’s way, access this life of sexual and emotional fulfilment within marriage, which God created us to enjoy! The book comes with a very practical workbook that provides more insights and tools that can be used even in a small group Bible Study setting.SnipImage copy

Are you cringing yet? Yes, it’s definitely cringe-worthy stuff, but not because it is distasteful or untrue, but rather because it’s just not something we talk about as Christians. We are much more familiar with addressing the struggle of a man with sexual fidelity, pornography, masturbation etc (and for this, I would recommend another book in the same series, titled ‘Every Man’s Battle’ by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker) than we are with the struggles that women have in the area of sexual and emotional purity.

When I read this book, I was gripped and challenged. Somehow, Shannon Etheridge manages to deliver this challenging message with grace and love, leaving you feeling seized in the heart with conviction, yet grateful that the Lord loves you so much and desires so much more for you in this very personal yet much-encompassing area of your life. I for one am grateful that the Lord cares about my sexual and emotional wholeness, and that He has made a way for me to learn and grow from mistakes of the past and move into a wholesome space in my emotional and sexual life as a married woman.

I would recommend this book to all women, yes, even those who feel that they have absolutely no struggle in the area of sexual and emotional fulfilment. Even if you do not struggle in this area, I daresay you are likely to know a woman who has struggles like this and who would welcome your help. I would recommend this book to mothers and fathers (note I said, and fathers), to share with their daughters (Shannon Ethridge also wrote a version for young women titled ‘Every Young Woman’s Battle’). In fact, I would even recommend this book to husbands. There’s a lot that is not understood about women. This book can tell you tales that could only serve to enhance the attainment of God’s plan for intimacy in your home.

Please read the book and let me know what you think about it ( or comment below).

Written by Toyin Oladiran (2 May 2017) for The Narrow Gateway

Wanna do a Christian book review?

Wanna do a Christian book review?

Reading a Christian book?

Do the words leap off the page and hit you right between the eyes and you are like “WOW! AWESOME!” Or does the book give you a nice snooze-pull and remind you that you need to go get some zzzz’s in? LOL!

Why not write a review about it?

The Narrow Gateway wants to include as one of its resources, Christian book reviews. We would like to have ordinary people like you write to us about Christian books that you are reading. Tell us what the book is about, whether you like it or not. Rate it out of 5. That kind of thing. One of the fabulous ways to get behind the narrow gateway and stay there is by filling our minds with godly content, and there are some excellent Christian books out there with really super content.

If you would like to do a short book review for us (max half a page), please use the guide below as a loose outline and contact us on