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A Book for our Times

 

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I am very pleased to have the opportunity to interview Angelique Cooper McGlotten whose recently released book Living Backward: The Gift of Hindsight in Building A Truly Significant Life inspires me to persevere and stand strong in the cultural winds of the twenty-first century. After you get to know Angelique, I am sure you will want to read this book.

  1. Please share with my readers what it means to “live backward.” How did you arrive at the insight that inspired your book by the same name?

We all know that GPS works backward to get us from where we are to where we want to be. To live backward is to apply this reverse principle to our lives: imagine the kind of life you want to build and then work backward, wisely redeeming the time in order to create that life.

Two realities are intrinsic to the idea of living backward. First, time is fleeting. Second, this earthly existence is our one and only opportunity to make our mark on eternity, a truth we all too easily overlook. The concept of living backward is meant to counter the mind-set that we have time on our hands, which leads to a subtle but grave pitfall: it predisposes us to put off leading purposeful lives precisely because we assume we have time on our side.

Living Backward challenges us to reorient our minds and view time as elapsing. With each passing year we haven’t just gained more time—we’ve also lost more of the precious, irretrievable time that we have been allotted to create significance in our lives. I came up with the title Living Backward because I wanted to capture the idea that what will matter in eternity is what should matter to us now. By leveraging the gift of future-oriented hindsight, we’ll be able to look back on the sum total of our earthly lives and realize that our reasons to rejoice are far greater than our regrets.

  1. Your first chapter title is “In Pursuit of What Matters Most.” If people learn what that might be, will it be of any help to them personally when they face a culture that utterly scorns Christians? Will knowing what matters most help them explain themselves to a secular culture?

Great question, Katherine. Absolutely! When we understand and pursue what matters most, we come to view life through a different lens. This lens or eternal perspective shapes our entire outlook on life, including the way we engage the dark and corrupt culture all around us.

According to my Christian worldview, God is the beginning and the end. Because He is sovereignly in control of all things, we can trust that nothing enters our lives outside of His will. In addition, we also know that all things we experience—including trials and difficulties—are working together both for our good and God’s glory (see Romans 8:28). This knowledge enables us to stand firm when we are scorned for our faith.

We also trust Jesus’s own words, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” Moreover, this eternal perspective changes what we seek after and how we live. For example, it shapes our values, ideals, goals, plans, use of time and money, etc. We do not settle for the brass of this world when we know that a life lived in pursuit of God’s glory means that in losing our lives we will save them and in the end get the gold (see Matthew 16:24-27)!  Hence, knowing what matters most enables us to not only explain our worldview—why we believe what we believe—but most importantly, to walk out those beliefs in the midst of a secular culture. It enables us to live as true ambassadors of God’s kingdom–to be the living epistles or walking advertisements that God has called us to be (See Ephesians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 3:2).

  1. Contemporary culture utterly rejects the concept of a personal, authoritative God. When Christians face moral choices, the culture will look askance at their sense that they should talk with God about the decision. How does the concept of “living backward” shape the way they view their options?

Essentially, to live backward is to live our fleeting lives for the glory of God, our Creator and Sustainer. It is to live according to the precepts, instructions, and commands found in the Bible—God’s user manual for the people He created for His good pleasure. Therefore, everything we do and every choice we make should be shaped by and predicated upon Scripture (God’s revealed will for our lives), not what we or others think is right. Any option we pursue must be God-sanctioned.

  1. In one chapter you talk about “pursuing our God-given dreams and aspirations.” Secularists say, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” What is the real difference between those two concepts?

Secularists tell us to rely on human wisdom and reasoning to determine what is best for our lives. This includes the dreams and goals that we pursue. If we apply ourselves, do the right things, and work hard enough (and long enough), then we can self-actualize and become anything that we desire. On the contrary, Scripture teaches us to seek God’s pre-ordained plans for our lives, plans He has prepared for us even before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 2:10). When we are surrendered to God’s will and seek His unique purpose for our lives, the dreams and goals we pursue are God-breathed or initiated. We will succeed in these plans because they have already been blessed by God (see Philippians 4:13).

  1. In one chapter, you write extensively about the importance of Bible study. Secular thinkers, and even secular Christians, say that the Bible is just one of many sacred books that document ways to connect with the sacred. Why are you so adamant about the Bible? Don’t you respect the other sacred books? What would you recommend to someone who said she had really found herself after she read the Tao te Ching?

I would ask her if there is anything in her life that she knows for sure to be true. For example, I’d ask her if she believes that stealing is wrong. Assuming she says, “Yes,” I’d then ask if she’s ever experienced anything that she knows without a doubt to be real. For example, touching an actual flower.

Assuming that she again answers in the affirmative, I’d proceed to ask her the following hypothetical situation: if you saw a child on a street who couldn’t see or hear a truck that was coming toward him, would you warn the child to get out of the way? Probably, she’ll say yes. I’d then go on to explain, for example, that while Taoism embraces nature and appreciates its beauty, the natural world did not create itself. God created it and He created you.

And just like all appliances come with instructions from the manufacturer, our manufacturer has given us a user manual—the Bible. It is there that we discover the meaning of life, not in any other manual. Although there are many sources that provide good information and can even help us know how to live, they can never equate to or take precedence over the Bible. I’d then tell her that outside a relationship with God, life is meaningless. He created all humans in His image because He desires an intimate relationship with each of us. If we choose to reject rather than accept His love, after death we’ll end up in a place of unimaginable suffering and torment, eternally separated from His presence. That place, called Hell, is like the truck I mentioned in the example above. I know it exists even though you can’t see it (don’t know of it or perhaps deny its existence). I desperately want to warn you before it’s too late.

  1. When Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, because she wanted to be obedient to God, some people accused her of trying to “push her beliefs on others.” Would you say that Kim Davis is “living backward?” Why? Or why not?

I would say that Kim Davis is living backward. As I mentioned above, living backward is to live in such a way that our thoughts, choices, actions, and decisions bring glory and honor to God. If a man-made rule is opposed to God’s desires, then we must obey God rather than man (see Acts 5:29).

  1. Secular thinkers contend that the only way to know if something is right is to determine if it makes you, the individual, feel good. Therefore, they say, what’s right for you may not be what’s right for me. If you are going to “live backward”, how will you decide what is right?

Similar to the above response, you will decide what is right by living your life according to the precepts of Scripture. Followers of Christ are not called to live by the standards of this fallen world. To the contrary, the Bible commands us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Yet the things of this world continually beckon to us, constantly enticing us to live for ourselves and to find our pleasure in temporal allurements. Much like we have to continually adjust a misaligned grocery cart to keep it from taking us in a different direction, we must purposefully choose to go countercurrent to the patterns of this world in order to not be conformed by it (see Romans 12:2). Unlike the secular world, our choices and decisions must always be rooted in God’s Word.

  1. One of your chapters is titled, “Life is but a Vapor.” Secularists say that this life is all there is, and that is why we must make the most of it. On what basis do you deal with the transient nature of life?

Picture the steam coming from a kettle of boiling water. It rises into the air, but in a matter of seconds you no longer see it: this is the sheer brevity of our lives. I take this truth to heart. I’ve also heard eternity described as a line extending forever with no end; relative to eternity our lives are but a teeny, tiny dot on that line. Yet we focus on and live for the dot, forgetting that it’s the endless line that really matters. So I engage life, being ever cognizant that not only is life brief, but it’s also fragile and uncertain. The next breath is not promised to any of us. In a sense, our “real” life begins when this one ends. I want to redeem the time wisely so that what I do here endures beyond my earthly years.

  1. How do you explain yourself when secular thinkers challenge you on this point? I’ve heard it said, “Life is a dress rehearsal.” If this means that this life is preparation for what comes after, then there’s much wisdom in this maxim. However, it would be false and very misleading if we interpreted this saying to mean that we get a second chance to do an actual (or another) performance here on earth. According to the Bible, we get only one shot at this temporal life. That’s it—this life is our one and only opportunity to impinge on all eternity. There’s absolutely no second chance after we take our final breath. There’s no purgatory, no reincarnation, or anything else of the sort. If this were not true—if we were allowed another chance to “do it again” in “another performance”—then there’s no incentive for us to maximize our time and live according to God’s Word in the here and now. Living backward would be meaningless. Because of its finality, it might be even better to think of this life as both the dress rehearsal and the actual performance all wrapped up into one. Each of us is on center stage with a specific part to play, and our “performance” is incredibly brief—far briefer than we tend to think.

Although Living Backward posits that we must live ever mindful of the end of our temporal lives, I, nevertheless, emphasize that this does not preclude us from wholeheartedly embracing the journey. In fact, the very idea of living backward encompasses both the process and the result.

  1. One last question: the world is a big mess right now. Why would a Christian benefit from reading your book?

The world is indeed in a mess. But more importantly, there’s coming a day when the things of this world will be no more. Many of us are basing our limited earthly time on the Fleeting Success (FS) factor—living for or amassing things, titles, and wealth—rather than the Eternal Value (EV) factor—living as though how I’ve lived in this life will absolutely determine everything about my eternity. The truth is, there’s a world of difference between a successful life and a significant life. We must all take to heart that in eternity only what God deems significant will matter. Unequivocally, any significance that we find in the brass of what the world considers important will not matter to God.

In light of these certainties, we cannot compromise on the truths in God’s Word if we expect our aggregate choices during our brief life to be counted significant in God’s forever kingdom, or to meet His criteria for a life that has truly counted for His glory. Instead, we must take God at His Word and cultivate the mindset that what will matter to Him then is what should matter to us now. If we desire true significance—wherein our earthly achievements last beyond this world—we must live with a backward orientation of time as we seek to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. Besides laying a solid foundation, cultivating the five principles in Living Backward provide the brick and mortar for us to build and uphold the edifice of a truly significant life—one that ultimately counts in God’s estimation. Deep down, you desire nothing less.

Living Backward: The Gift of Hindsight in Building A Truly Significant Life is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and Hastings. To watch the book trailer, learn more about the author, read a free sample chapter, as well as get a free e-book, visit www.livingbackward.com. Angelique would also love to connect with you here.

 

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Why do Secular Thinkers feel so Guilty?

Secularists have been known to complain that Christians obsess about sin. They even complain that Christians tell children that they are sinful. Secular thinkers allege to believe that babies are pure and innocent when they are born, incapable of sin, incapable of desiring to sin. These are the same babies that secular thinkers claim have no rights, no personhood, not even the right to be called babies if they have not yet exited the womb. Furthermore, secular thinkers who refuse to give credence even to the concept of sin willfully execute those babies if the mother so chooses. The people who advocate for this method of managing pregnancy when it turns out to be inconvenient become violently angry when people who believe that a baby has a right to life offer to pray with or counsel with women approaching abortion clinics where they can have their babies killed on demand. Secularists say that abortion is not sin, and no woman should feel guilty for cleansing her womb of a parasite.

Secular thinkers engage in numerous behaviors that Christians consider to be sin, and Christians expect people to feel guilty if they engage in such behavior, but secular thinkers claim not to suffer any qualms about these behaviors.

For example, secular thinkers are advocating nationwide for the right for adults to die. It isn’t enough that they work very hard to protect the right to kill an unborn baby; they want born babies that live to adulthood to be free to kill themselves. That is what “right to die” means. In a few US states, legislation to this effect has been passed, and there are foreign countries where it is authorized as well. Adults claim to be in terminal depression, for example, or perhaps they have learned they are suffering from an incurable disease. The laws vary widely in terms of the rules for authorization of the “right to die,” but one and all they result in suicide. It is highly incongruous that secular thinkers want some people put on a “suicide watch” out of fear that those people will harm themselves, while others are put on the “right to die” watch, because they have legally declared that they will absolutely harm themselves.

It must be mentioned here that more than one doctor in various places around the world has declared that parents ought not to be expected to keep a child that is less than desirable, and they should not need to justify their lack of desire for the child. A surgeon in England said he could see no problem with parents trying out a child for six months and then ending the child’s life if the child were a nuisance, or ugly, or sickly, or just a pain. Other spokesmen have suggested a longer trial, and one is led to wonder when it will be determined that parents have the right to get rid of unwanted children of any age.

That would close the final gap in death coverage. That would mean that in the secular mind, from the moment of conception, through the time of birth, and all the way to the moment of legal adulthood, a parent has the right to execute any unwanted child. From the moment of adulthood onward, an adult has the right to kill himself (or herself) for a variety of reasons. As everyone knows, legal language is extremely malleable, and as long as the right to die is acknowledged as a universal human right, it should be very easy to justify the decision and make the whole process quite painless.

Is it any wonder that secular thinkers all suffer from endless guilt? Yes, they do. Nobody suffers as much guilt as secular thinkers.

Obviously, no human being could go around advocating a culture of death without suffering immense guilt. Every living being does one thing more energetically than anything else: defend its own life. Even though secular thinkers contend that a human being is nothing more than a highly organized biochemical machine, one wonders why a machine feels guilty when it causes the death of another human being. In fact, secularists rise to the occasion when someone sets off a bomb at race or blazes away with a gun in a prayer meeting. Why are they so outraged? In another moment, all those people might have declared that they no longer wanted to live anyway. This statement sounds crass to sane people, but when you set it alongside the right to abortion on demand, as long as the being to be aborted is under the legal age of contract, and the right to die for whatever reason, as long as the being to be killed is over the legal age of contract, then it sounds like nothing more than a simple, routine, legal process. Fill out the forms. Sign the papers. Terminate the protoplasm.

Secular thinkers desperately need some way to cover up the culture of death that they advocate. This is why they are busy saving the planet from global warming and species extinction. They have very little fodder for the graphs they use so religiously to tell them that human beings are burning up the planet. They cannot actually prove that anything has gone extinct. The discovery of coelacanths in the ocean, millennia after they were declared to have been extinct, completely abolishes the credibility of environmental campaigns to save tigers, elephants and snail darters from the supposed depredations of human beings. We now know that key scientists have doctored the data that supposedly proves global warming, and we don’t need to be told that data from a single petrified tree in Siberia cannot possibly prove global climate warming. These frauds puncture the balloon filled with allegations of humankind’s responsibility for climate change in any direction whatsoever. Secularists suffer from a hovering, smothering guilt that cannot be assuaged by simple argument or positive thinking. Secularists are suffocated by perceived expectations that they do something! Anything! Save the planet!

One way secularists celebrate life is by advocating that when two men marry and want children, all the stops should be pulled out in order to create a person they can claim as their child. This is one way that they claim to celebrate life.

They also celebrate life when a little girl of five declares that she has discovered she is really a boy. People get to be whatever gender comes to mind. There was a time when two genders covered everything. No longer. Now we need fifty genders for people who are experimenting and inventing and flipping back and forth among the variations. Secular thinkers know this way of thinking is ridiculous, uncomical, outrageous, and they feel guilty about playing with something so fundamental to our happiness and well-being as human beings.

How do we know that they feel guilty? Because they worry about every little thing more than they worry about something people want and need as much as they want and need life: liberty. Secular thinkers cannot allow anyone to have liberty any longer, because if people have liberty, they might say things other people do not want to hear. Things such as: “That is not true!” Things such as “God loves you.” Things such as, “Don’t try to make up some way to be offended. Nobody has done anything to you.”

Several months ago, I saw a statement online that declared that the right to exercise personal faith and the right to speak freely without being arrested were special privileges granted to citizens by the government. This is another problem secularists have. Because they do not acknowledge that God exists, they can hardly acknowledge that he grants liberty to human beings from the moment of conception. Yet the people who wrote the Constitution knew that God gave people life and liberty. The authors of the Constitution knew that God allowed people the freedom to choose the God they would serve. Those men knew that God gave people the freedom to speak and have opinions on everything. When they wrote the Constitution, they declared that the new government in North America would protect the rights God had already given to people rather than making a concerted effort to suppress or remove those rights.

Secular thinkers believe that those rights are gifts of the government, and they believe that the government has the right to restrict the boundaries of those rights. People have the right to speak–as long as they don’t say anything that offends the government. People have the right to exercise their religion–as long as the people don’t think their God is more important than government.

Secular thinkers are always on a guilt trip of some sort. They want people to feel guilty for saying things. They want citizens to feel guilty for thinking God’s will is more important than the government’s will. They see babies dying or worse, being dismembered for research while still alive, and they want the people who try to stop it to feel guilty for being at war with women. It is a terrible burden to be a secular thinker.

There is an answer to this guilt. The apostle Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Romans. Ancient Rome was a place where a secular thinker might feel right at home. Despite the so-called national religion, most Romans were very skeptical of both religion and politics. The ancient Romans suffered from just as much guilt as contemporary secular thinkers. Paul wrote to them with a message of hope. He said, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV) Paul was writing about the guilt the Roman Christians suffered. In fact, he told them that they could have “peace with God through [the] Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 ESV) He even said, “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10 ESV). The beautiful thing about this letter is that the news Paul sent to the Romans is just as fresh and true today. God, the God whom secular thinkers reject, does not reject them. Instead, he reaches out for them with loving arms, ready to wrap them in the love that cleanses and forgives all the guilty pains they suffer. In this letter, Paul wrote that not only does God take away the horror of all that guilt, but God also receives secular thinkers with love that can never be taken away. They worry that all the animals and plants are about to die off. They worry that the earth is about to burn up. Paul promises them what Paul promised to the Romans: “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 ESV) Even if the plants wither, the animals die and the globe melts, they are safe in Christ’s love.

In the meantime, they have life with him both now and hereafter.

Secular thinkers can get rid of the guilt. They can stop trying to be the wrath of the god they don’t acknowledge to people who are guilty of a slip of the tongue or of the crime of thinking there are two genders. Secular thinkers can shrug off the weighty responsibility to be the world’s police–for speech, water use, and air quality. Christ will set them free to do the good works and great accomplishments for which they were created, and he will carry them guilt-free into eternity.

Secular thinkers really do not need to be so weighed down with guilt.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World to be released during winter, 2016. 

It Takes Time

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One day after lunch, Samuel called Saul aside. Everyone else was chatting amiably after a good meal, and Saul may have wondered why they should leave that pleasant conversation. He had no idea how important it could be to step off the path of the crowd and go away and get nearer to God. Samuel said, “stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God” (1 Samuel 9:27 ESV).

Every once in a while, God speaks to each of us with that kind of urgency. Many of us can tell stories of days when we were buzzing about doing our ordinary things when suddenly God broke in. God interrupted. He must do that now and then, because he has a hard time getting our attention.

In Saul’s case, the first thing Samuel did was to anoint Saul king of Israel. To become king is a major event. Even the anointing is an exciting moment. You might think that Samuel should have done it in a  big impressive ceremony, like a political convention where they choose their nominee for president. A crowd was handy, and they had just had a feast. They were in a good mood to be entertained or impressed. Why did Samuel drag Saul away all by himself instead of anointing him king in a way that would impress people?

God is different from us. He chose a quiet place apart from other people for Saul’s anointing, because even though Saul was the man God chose, he was not quite ready to be king.

Saul needed time to get ready to be king. Saul needed to learn that even the king must still obey God. In this time apart, Samuel gave Saul some instructions about the things he was required to do. Taking the time to do them would give Saul time to grow in his relationship with God and learn submission to God’s will. Among other things, Saul would learn to wait for God’s timing.

We all need such lessons. We think that if we know what God wants us to do, we should be able to run do it right away and be a great success and get acclaim for our accomplishments. God, however, knows that we are not ready. We need to know where we are going, but we need to learn how to get there at God’s pace in his time. We need time to mature and get ready for the work God has for us to do.

The time God designates for our preparation is not lost time. We are not “wasting” time as we study and pray, or as we take baby steps forward in service. All the time in the world is but an instant to God. When we are studying to learn skills necessary to do the job he has called us to do, we are making progress according to his purpose and his time. When we are learning to work with people and build relationships, long before we think we are finally starting to do what we were called to do, we are growing in readiness to do the big job for which he called us aside. While we learn, we also mature. Our relationship with him strengthens. Our bond with him solidifies and deepens.

When God calls us to great work, none of it happens overnight. It takes time. His own greatest work took thousands of years. Creation was still new when Adam was ejected from the Garden of Eden. The newness had worn off considerably by the time of the Roman Empire. Yet that was the time when Jesus was born, exactly the right time, and he died for our sins at just the right time. Not too early. Not too late.

Our own callings and the timing of their fulfillment may be separated by years, yet none of that intervening time is “wasted.” God uses time the way Michelangelo used the time of chiseling and chipping and polishing away every bit of extra stone until he uncovered the image of David inside a marble pillar. We all must be ready to spend the necessary time with God as we listen and mature and prepare for our full obedience to his call.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a brilliant student of theology and earned two doctoral degrees before he was 25 years old. It would seem that he was ready to be a great professor, yet over the next five or six years, he recognized that it was more important to live his faith than to dissect it verbally in the classroom. He began to understand that living his faith meant a confrontation with evil, powerful evil in the form of the Nazi party in Germany. His understanding did not happen overnight or in a blinding flash in a worship service. God shaped him daily by new insights that grew out of both his faithful daily meditation on the Bible and his faithful daily experience of trying to be more and more like Christ. His years of being reshaped in the crucible of Nazi Germany led to his death, and might be considered to have been “wasted,” but Bonhoeffer said, as he was about to die, “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.” He understood that God had always been shaping him for the moment of his death, which would be the moment when he, like the apostle Paul, said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 ESV).

It takes time to learn how to live for Christ, yet none of that living may feel like the fulfillment of your calling. While you do the best you can to serve Christ, you may feel as if you are hardly scratching the surface of what needs to be done. You may feel that you fail miserably in every attempt to serve Christ. Yet all the time, he is shaping you. You are learning and growing, whether you are introducing hundreds to the gospel, like Billy Graham, or handing a cup of water to a single child in Myanmar. You may be unknown to crowds, but you are known to God. He knows exactly where you are in your development. Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew that his best work lay ahead of him as he felt the hangman’s noose tighten around his throat.

We all wonder when we will get to do our magnum opus. We simply need to let go of all that concern and let the creator of time manage our time and shape us as he will in his own good time. Time belongs to God, and the passage of time takes place at his direction. Time spent growing in relationship with him is not wasted; it is used with good stewardship. We can take our time in his presence, as we follow him and learn from him. Everyone needs to pause when he hears the call, “stop here yourself for a while, that you may hear the word of God.”

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.  Watch for Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World to be released November 2015.

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What’s a Christian to do?

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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

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Source: http://humbliceous.blogspot.com/
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Bible Meditation

torahMy grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9

  • The Supreme Court recently rendered a decision that puts the law of the land squarely in opposition to God’s will for human beings. What does this verse say to people who feel that this decision puts them in the crosshairs of earthly power?
  • We all sin. We all struggle with the consequences of sin. Daily life sometimes feels like walking on broken glass. What does God promise us?
  • When circumstances are incomprehensible, they also feel unbearable. To such situations, Luther said:

When the murder of John the Baptist was announced, that horrible crime, [Jesus] was silent, went away into the desert, fed the people, and did not make an issue of it, but only preached the Word and did His duty. Christian wisdom, therefore, means to commit oneself to the power of God and to turn one’s cause over to Him who judges justly. A Christian can indeed, by the office of the Word, judge sin, but he should not raise his hand against it unless he is compelled to do so by God or commanded by the Word. And so when you are alone and unable to set everything right and straight, commit your cause to Him who has more powers and who alone can do everything.”
Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 15 : Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Last Words of David, 2 Samuel 23:1-7, ed. J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1972). Ec 1:16.

How do Luther’s comments correlate with the teaching in today’s verse? Where is the comfort in it?

  • Secularists deny the existence of a spiritual realm. They teach that our only recourse in life is to our own strength. How do you answer a secular thinker who scorns your faith and belittles your willingness to trust your well-being to a power he cannot see?

 

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: Torah Scroll
Source:  http://library.duke.edu/exhibits/hebrewbible/torah.html
License:  Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0