If you think the world has turned upside down, Chris Skates agrees with you.
If you think the world has turned upside down, Chris Skates agrees with you.
The world is a very confusing place right now. Values accepted by Christians and non-Christians alike for as long as there have been human beings now seem to be set on their heads. Up is down. Right is left. Black is white.
The Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage is especially troubling, because we have already seen at the state level what the new definition does to confessing Christians who refuse to participate in sinful behavior. It makes everyone ask, what do I do?
The answer is to follow a practice that has proved itself over generations of Christians. In times like these, we need nourishment for our faith and strength to hope that God is still in charge. The best way to get the nourishment we need is to follow a daily practice of prayer and Bible study.
When we tell people that an important fact about marriage is that the union of one man and one woman is a model for God’s relationship with his church, many scoff. In these times, we who love the Lord need to remember that the relationship of marriage is, indeed, a place to learn about the relationship each of us has with the Lord. Now is a good time to discover a universal truth about marriage that is equally applicable to your relationship with God: a relationship thrives on time spent together, time when each partner focuses on the other. Daily prayer and Bible reading is one way to spend time with God that will nourish your relationship with him while it builds your faith and strengthens your hope.
I have never met a Christian who did not think that this practice was a good idea, but I have met many Christians who don’t follow it. A few complain that they don’t know how, but the almost universal complaint is lack of time. It isn’t a complaint isolated to faith practices; they complain equally of no time to read to children, no time for exercise, no time to attend worship, and so forth. When did time itself become a tyrant that enslaves humanity? Is time for us, or are we for time?
The fact is that, like any scarce resource, our time is allocated according to the importance of the way we use it. Sleep is very important, and for many people, even the notion of 8 hours of sleep is unthinkable due to other demands on their time. Some will say that there are so many demands on their time already that to make time for prayer and Bible study would further reduce their time for healthful sleep. God’s gift of time is seen as a resource that is used as dictated by other people, not by each individual for himself. There is no time for the Lord simply because he does not punish anyone for failure to give him some of it.
Nobody exactly says this, but it is implied by the fact that they all explain the price of failing to meet other people’s expectations for their use of time. “My kid will be devastated if he has to miss a game.” In other words, the child will dish out the punishment for parental failure to attend a game. Heaven forbid the parent should choose to make a child miss a game. “My boss says that people who go home every day at 5PM have no passion for their work, and he remembers that in each employee’s annual review.” The boss dishes out the punishment for failure to use time according to his values. “My husband is in sales, so we must appear at a lot of social functions. His success depends on it.” The husband, or the husband’s boss, will punish failure to use time as expected. And so forth. There seems to be a price to pay for disappointing people, while God apparently sits silent when he is ignored.
There is a different way to see time. Time is God’s gift to each person in this world, and each person owes God faithful stewardship of time. Time is a gift, and it is yours until you give it away. You have all the control, unless you cede it to others. A prisoner serving a life sentence for murder has the same gift of time as the CEO of Apple, and the same rights and responsibilities before God with regard to his use of time.
What is a Christian to do if his or her gift of time has been snatched away by other people?
That is the real problem for most Christians. It explains a lack of time for prayer and Bible study, and it explains a lack of time for worship, fellowship with Christians, and even the lack of time for personal rest.
Try this idea: Think of the 24 hours starting right this minute as God’s unique gift to you. If you use this time as God’s steward, in the expectation that 24 hours from now God will ask you what you did with them, how will that change the way you use them? Is there any chance that in the next 24 hours you can choose to give five minutes to God in prayer and Bible study? Does God deserve that much of your time?
These are troubled times. Christians are wringing their hands, crying aloud on Facebook, and tweeting plaintively across cyberspace. What is a Christian to do? The first thing, the best thing, the most useful thing a Christian can do is to accept stewardship of each day’s time and make time for daily prayer and Bible study.
That is what a Christian must do.
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.
Image by Curioso
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The most widely repeated argument for gay rights and same-sex “marriage” is that homosexuals are born with homosexuality as their natural orientation. There has been no scientific corroboration of this allegation, a state of affairs the LGBTQ activist work hard to ignore, despite the secular commitment to believing only what “science has proved.” Activists offer a laundry list of areas for study and analysis that might provide the explanation they want to hear, but there is no scientific evidence to date that shows how a homosexual can be identified by a biological test.
Proceeding as if such a thing had been proved, the activists indict God for creating people homosexual and then declaring homosexuality to be sin. This argument may be taken as an improvement over the one where activists declare that the Bible doesn’t mean sin or doesn’t mean homosexuality everywhere homosexuality is identified as sin, but it isn’t a gain for human culture. It only means that people who intend to compel other people to consider homosexuality normal have taken a different tactic in an attempt to achieve an unchanged objective.
Suppose, however, that Christians were to concede that it is entirely possible that someone is “born that way.” The Bible actually does provide the possibility that someone could be born with homosexual tendencies. The Bible is not a textbook of human genetics, so the Bible doesn’t deal with it as a genetic issue. The Bible deals with homosexuality the same way it deals with adultery and murder and rejection of God’s sovereignty; the Bible says that every human being is born sinful. People are born lustful and violent and self-centered, and those qualities take shape in a person’s life as acts of lying, theft, and sexual immorality, including homosexual behavior. A person could certainly be “born that way” even if “that way” were murderous intention or lust for someone else’s wife. A person could be “born that way” if “that way” meant that he regarded sex as a trivial game for self-gratification and nothing more. A person could be “born that way” if he considered truth to be inconvenient or if he preferred homosexual behavior to fulfill his desires. No matter what “way” a person is born, the Bible upholds only one standard: God’s way.
The Bible has never said that people who engage in heterosexual marriages were less sinful than homosexuals. The Bible has never said that murder is worse than stealing a dollar. Human beings apply comparative standards; God does not. This fact makes it impossible for one human being to stand any higher in God’s presence than another. It makes the argument between Jesus’ disciples about which was greatest look completely ridiculous. Not one of them could be the “greatest” because each of them was born “that way,” which is to say that each was born sinful.
Despite God’s attempt to cleanse a sinful world by means of the Flood, God said afterwards, “every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21 ESV) and vowed never again to deal with sin by trying to purge it from the earth. Isaiah the prophet said it this way: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6 NIV84) The apostle Paul said it very clearly: “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22-23 NIV84) Generation after generation of inspired writers documented that humankind is born sinful. So to say that a homosexual is “born that way” does not excuse the homosexual from responsibility for his sin before God any more than a person who shoots down innocent schoolchildren or someone who embezzles from a bank. Each person is responsible to God for his choices, no matter what “way” he was born.
What is a person to do? No matter what “way” a person is born, he appears to be doomed before God. Isn’t that unfair?
The answer is simple. It is so easy that many people trip over it the way Naaman tripped over the cure for his leprosy. Do you know that story? It is found in 2 Kings 5:1-19. Naaman was an Aramite military officer who had an Israelite slave in his household. He also had leprosy, and his slave suggested he go to Elisha in Israel for healing. Naaman expected to be cured with actions and words worthy of his official status. Instead, Elisha sent a servant to tell him just to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. How easy is that? It was so easy and delivered so casually that Naaman could not accept it. He was ready to go home with his leprosy unchanged. It took the pleading of another servant to persuade him that it was worth his attention. He finally changed his mind, did what was required, and his leprosy went away. The cure was so simple and seemed so unworthy of his status that he almost didn’t get cured.
Dealing with the “way” you are born is just as easy, and just as easy to dismiss. The “way” you were born is sinful, no matter the sin. Every sin is equally vile before God, so your sin is not worse, and absolutely not better, than the sin of anyone else. The way to fix it is to receive Christ into your heart and let him cleanse and forgive all your sin. Of course, that means that you would need to recognize that you are sinful and recognize that you need forgiveness. Jesus explained it to a man who came to him one night, sure that he was righteous and didn’t need to be cleansed of his sin. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, and Pharisees knew that they were not sinful like other people.
Jesus said to Nicodemus,
“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:3-7 NIV84)
The cure if you are “born that way” is to be born again.
It is that simple. Jesus explained it:
“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 ESV)
Here is the clear truth. You were “born that way,” that is, you were born sinful. If you have not received Christ into your heart, then you are condemned for being sinful. God is holy and sovereign, and he has the right to say so, but he does not want it to be so. He wants you to be set free from the “way” you were born, and he paid the price himself when Jesus died on the cross.
What can you do about it if you were “born that way?” You can trust Christ and be cleansed of your sin. Your life can be redeemed and you can live a fulfilling life that never ends. It really is that easy to deal with the problem if you were “born that way.” Don’t miss it and miss out because it seems too easy.
That is what to do if you were “born that way.”