Stairwell in Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

We’ve missed the point

I saw a story on Yahoo! about the Doomsday Clock yesterday, just in passing. I didn’t really read it because the Doomsday Clock isn’t a “real” clock; it’s just a symbolic representation of how close the world is to a global catastrophe, whether it’s nuclear war or environmental issues. Admittedly, it made me smile because if it’s not the Mayan calendar telling us the world is going to end, it’s the Doomsday Clock. And the real irony is that you don’t need either of those, or any of the other symbols of impending doom, to know that our world is in a lot of trouble.

Nobody knows the day that doom is going to come, but it’s going to come. And we need to be ready for it.

Stairwell in Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

Stairwell in Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Acts 17:30-31.

God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.

If you have a second, you should read the portion of Acts where these verses are from, Acts 17:16-34. It’s a part of the early Church history where Paul is on a missionary journey, and he ends up in Athens, preaching to the people there. This is his famous message about the Unknown God. What Paul said to the people of Athens is true for us today: We may be very religious, but we’ve missed the point.

What it comes down to is our choice. We can choose to change our minds about God and about what God says is wrong, but we don’t have to. God hasn’t forced anyone to do anything–ever. There’s no point to that anyway. God has told us we need to change our minds about sin. God has said it loud and clear for everyone to know.

He has told us what sin is. He has told us how to have eternal life. He has told us how to have a relationship with Him. The rest is up to us to decide if that’s the path we want to take.

But the truth of Paul’s statement is chilling because whether you choose to follow Christ or not, judgment is still coming. Nothing will stop the end of the world. The world has been dying since our first parents turned against God. It’s been winding down, slowly but surely, getting worse every day, getting darker every hour. And like a clock with batteries that are nearly drained, the day is going to come when it stops keeping time altogether. And when that day gets here, are we going to be ready? Are we going to have an answer for the charges laid against us?

Our culture now is practically free of real consequences. We can do whatever we want with no one to check us. The United States was founded with a checks and balances system, three branches of government designed to keep each other in order. In recent years, it’s become pretty obvious that even they aren’t interested in keeping each other honest; they’re just covering their own backsides now, doing what they want. And the People don’t know enough about what the United States was intended to be to hold them accountable for it.

But a day is coming when all of us will have to face the consequences for our choices, and there won’t be second chances. You’ll have two options. Either you chose to follow Christ in this life or you didn’t. Either you trusted Christ to pay the price for your sins or you chose to cover the debt yourself.

So what does that mean for us today? I’ve already accepted Christ. I trust Him with my life and my future, but that doesn’t mean I know what’s going to happen tomorrow. That doesn’t mean God is required to pull me out of trouble. It just means He won’t abandon me when trouble starts.

I look at the world and the state of this country, and I’m tempted to despair because I know what it used to be. I know what it was meant to be, and we’ve fallen so far from that place today. But I trust God. He knows what He’s doing, and nothing surprises Him.

I used to be afraid when I read scriptures about the end of the world. I used to be scared of the word judgment. But the older I get and the worse the world gets, the more I find comfort in that word. Because for those who know Christ, judgment isn’t something to be scared of. For those who know Christ, our slates are clean. Christ has taken our sins and put them far away from us, and when God looks at our record, all He sees is Christ.

Judgment is coming. The world won’t last forever. So get busy. Talk to people. Build relationships with people. And don’t give up. And if you need to change your mind about sin in your life, do it now rather than later. It won’t speed the end up or slow it down, of course, but it will get in the way of what you need to accomplish.

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God has every right to be angry

Do you know people who do wrong all the time and are never sorry for it? I do. I’m around people like that all the time, and it frustrates me. I believe in an absolute right and an absolute wrong. I’m not capable of doing right all the time, but I want to at least try to be the kind of person who tries to do right. And when I do wrong, I want to own up to it. I want to take responsibility for what I’ve done wrong and do my best to change.

But there are always people who do wrong constantly and have no intention to change. Why should they? Doing what is wrong is so much easier than doing what is right. Maybe it has consequences, but they don’t come right away. And even if they do come, it’s a lot easier to convince other people that you’re the victim in the situation than it is to claim responsibility for it.

Granted there are many circumstances where people truly are victims. We live in a broken world, and it’s the innocent who suffer the consequences for the most part. But I still believe the vast majority of us make our own problems. I really believe that most of us (including myself) end up in rough situations because of our actions, because of our choices, and it comes down to either taking responsibility for what you’ve done or trying to push that responsibility off onto someone else.

When you know someone is shifting the blame from where it really belongs, how does that make you feel? Angry? Frustrated? Well, think about how you feel, and then think about how it makes God feel.

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunset at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Psalms 7:11-13.

God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day. If a person does not repent, God will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. He will prepare his deadly weapons and shoot his flaming arrows.

We live in a kinder, gentler era now. We don’t like to think of God as an angry God. We much prefer to focus on His love, and that is true. God is a God of love. He is love.

But how many of us really understand love? And if we can’t even understand love, can’t we hope to understand God? Does anyone understand God? I mean, I believe we can understand His heart. I believe we can understand what He’s telling us to do and how He’s telling us to live. But those are just a fraction of who God is. Saying we understand God because we read the Bible or because we pray is like saying we’ve experience the ocean when we’ve only visited the Gulf of Mexico.

Is it all right for you to be angry with someone who is doing wrong and refuses to change? If it’s all right for you, why is it not all right for God?

Repent is a scary church word. It basically just means to change your thinking. If you repent from your sin, it means you change the way you think about doing what God says is wrong. That’s what repent means. It’s not a stained glass, organ music kind of concept. It’s something we can’t do without.

What’s frustrating about people who won’t repent is that they pretty much live a life that’s flipping God off every day. I’m not talking about the people who don’t know better; I’m talking about people who know what the Bible says and who have chosen not to believe it. I’m talking about people who say they follow Christ but deny Him with their lives every day. I’m talking about typical American Christians who go to church on Sunday and live the rest of their week as though they are the center of the universe.

It’s frustrating. Because they know better, and they’ve chosen to ignore God in spite of it.

Does it frustrate you? Well, it frustrates God. And the plain and simple truth is that none of us can thumb our noses at God and expect to get away with it. He will do what is necessary to show us that we aren’t in control of our lives, and it won’t be pleasant. None of us are unbreakable.

So the next time you feel the urge to do something you know the Bible says is wrong, take a moment to think about how God is going to feel about it. I’m not saying we should cower in the corner because we live our lives based on whether God is angry or not. I’m not saying that at all. But God has given us everything so that we can be free. God has made the ultimate sacrifice, and He’s been patient with us through circumstances where everyone else would have given up on us. And if you can think about all God has done for you and how much He loves you and still be callous enough to go on sinning even though you know what that sin cost Christ, God has every right to be angry.

Repent. Change the way you think about doing what God has said is wrong. It’s worth it. You won’t fear consequences, you won’t face guilt, and God will honor you for doing what is right.