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April 16, 2014

Personally Accountable

If you've spent any time watching the Outdoor Channel, you've likely come across the show titled Wardens. Wardens chronicles the lives of the men and women who protect our public lands and wildlife. From ride-alongs on interstate game checks, to anti-poaching sting operations, from remote snowmobile trails in grizzly bear country, to unforgiving white-water rapids, the focus of the show is on game law regulations. I happened to find this show quite interesting when it debuted because it was detailing game wardens' accounts in Montana, a state which I had visited in 2012 and where I recognized some of the areas in which they were working. If you have spent a considerable amount of time fishing and hunting our nation's woods and waters, then you have probably been checked by a game warden, referred to locally these days as a Conservation Police Officer (CPO). My father and I happened to encounter one this past Saturday on the opener of spring gobbler season here in Virginia.

Romans 1:28-32 (NASB)
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

To settle any mystery I may have created - my father and I did indeed have the correct licenses and were hunting on property which we had permission. Our visit with the CPO was brief and pleasant and he even gave us some intel on where and when he had heard several birds gobbling earlier that morning. Conservation officers encounter sportsmen each year, though, that are in violation of one or more portions of the game laws. As my co-instructor and I tell students each year who take our resident Virginia Hunter Education Course, it is the sportsman's responsibility to know and understand the laws and regulations required for hunting in general, as well as for the specific game species which they are seeking after. And there are very few instances in which sportsmen are issued citations for things which they were not aware. In reality, most sportsmen who break fishing, hunting and conservation laws have made a conscious choice to side-step the law, cut a corner, exceed a bag limit, and occasionally commit a blatant infraction of the law.

In a similar way, our reaction to God's laws can be one of acceptance and obedience, reasoning, rage, or intentional rejection. Nevertheless, we are ultimately accountable for what has been revealed to us about the nature and character of God, our sin, and His atoning sacrifice through Jesus. In Chapter 1 of the book of Romans, Paul speaks specifically to the point of personal accountability with what God has revealed to each individual that has ever walked on Earth. At a minimum, God's handiwork in His Creation (Romans 1:20) is enough for each person to understand the eternal power, presence and loving character of God. Even further, those who know the Law of God and yet go about continuing to violate it and encouraging others to do the same are promised severe punishment or death. Just as the earthly laws our society has created have purpose, so do God's regulations, even when we do not fully understand their intent.

So, in reflecting on Romans Chapter 1, where do you find yourself? Even though we will all fall short of His divine law, is your heart at a place where it wants to love Him and be obedient to His commands? Or, do you continuously choose to disobey God and His Word, even in things that may seem small, insignificant or irrelevant to you? Know this - when we disobey, we choose to separate ourselves from relationship with God, and that separation can ultimately remain eternal, if we do not turn to Him and His saving Grace. - GE

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