Overcoming The Storms Of Life
Prophetic or not if you live long enough you will have to pass through many squalls both natural and spiritual. Storms like hurricanes and tornadoes are inconvenient but tolerable for those who are prepared for the heavy winds and rains. For others who ignore the watches and warnings they can be grave.
Storms are interesting creatures. They command our full and undivided attention, disrupt daily routines and steal time from busy believers. Some storms even prove to be deadly. But perhaps one of the most striking characteristics of a storm is its ability to reveal the real you. It seems that what’s in you, both admirable and dire, openly manifests during tempestuous times.
If life’s storms bring out the worst in you – and sometimes they do bring out impurities before they bring out the fruit of the Spirit – then you need to reexamine your foundation. Jesus has given us everything we need to go through diverse storms, be they spiritual cyclones, typhoons or just devils, and emerge victorious. Wisdom instructs us that hearing and obeying His Word will build our house on a sure foundation that is acclimated to any type of weather, from ominous winds to spiritual smog to subzero temperatures (Matthew 7).
Strength To Endure Storms
Preparation for the storms of life, however, may menace some believers who are yet unwilling to endure the correction that leads to change that leads to greater spiritual strength, from faith to faith and glory to glory. Indeed, change seldom takes place without correction.
Enter the apostolic ascension gifts. One aspect of the apostolic church is to prepare you for stormy spiritual weather. As such, apostolic leaders may be your last source of positive improvement and preparation for the thunderous events of life. As gifts from Jesus, apostles and apostolic leaders are called to do more than bless you. They are also called to correct you in right living.
Oftentimes we forget that scripture that says, “Young man, do not resent it when God chastens and corrects you, for his punishment is proof of his love. Just as a father punishes a son he delights in to make him better, so the Lord corrects you” (Proverbs 3:11-12 LB). (Keep in mind that when God brings correction He often uses people to do it.)
Notice the scripture describes the ministry of a father. The Apostle Paul told his spiritual son Timothy there were thousands of instructors in this world, but not many fathers. Paul felt, as a spiritual father, he had a mandate to direct Timothy in the way he should go. If the apostolic grace is a fathering grace, then the Holy Spirit will use apostolic leaders to prepare sons and daughters for life’s storms – even through correction when needed.
Correction and preparation for life comes through many channels. As you grow up, training comes through parents, teachers, counselors, relatives, and yes, your church leaders. If you have a pattern of rebellion, however, and resist correction from all of these, then you may find yourself being corrected by law enforcement, prison, lawyers, judges, credit card companies, mortgage companies, banks, your boss, the military, or some other worldly authority. Correction is part of the storm preparedness process. There is no escaping it. We are all being disciplined by something.
Pursue Spiritual Maturity
I don’t think I have ever seen a time in Christendom where the challenge to grow up is so critical. Weekly, I hear stories from apostolic leaders being abused by those whom they are trying to help. The National /International Religion Report showed that “a majority of American pastors are suffering from burnout, many are buckling under family and financial pressures, and a large percentage are considering quitting the ministry.”
Could it be they are quitting because their congregants do not understand their divine call and, therefore, are abusing, disrespecting, defaming and ill-treating their spiritual leaders? One thing is certain: When you don’t understand the function of a five-fold ministry gift, then you will abuse that gift – especially if throughout your life you were abusing others who were trying to help you mature. If our society continues to free fall into immorality, and if correction from parents, schools and employers fails to spark repentance, the last shot for training is from local church leadership.
God’s apostolic leaders are not going to leave you in the condition that you are in. According to the grace of God on their lives, they must, and will, place a demand on you to mature (Ephesians 4). To mature means to move out of self-centeredness, rebellion, disrespect, incivility and lack of self-control and into manhood. That means you will be held accountable to your word, your poor attitude will be challenged, your lack of responsibility dealt with, and your commitment to Christian values and ethics will be expected. Notice all of this is beyond getting blessed on Sunday morning.
Apostolic leaders and churches are different from anything the Body of Christ has seen in the past. They deal with believers’ foundations – their belief systems (Ephesians 2:20). With your cooperation, they will prepare you for the storms of life. The Apostle Paul said, “Watch ye, stand fast in faith, act like men and be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). A man is more than a male. A man is responsible, courageous, hard working, committed and dedicated. Notice that the apostle describes four important traits: vigilance about your Christian walk, standing fast in faith without wavering, acting like men (maturity) and being strong in the Lord.
The lack of maturity in the body of Christ is bordering on ridiculous. In many churches there are juvenile believers dictating to their leaders how they should be treated and holding them hostage with attendance and financial support that is based on the leader’s babysitting skills. While Muslim terrorists are beheading people in other parts of the world, some spoiled rotten Christians are arguing over the silliest of matters.
One minister told me someone got mad at God and left the church because their dog got run over. Another believer got angry when the pastor wouldn’t go to his son’s baseball game. These petty reactions are a sure sign of an immature believer who is full of rebellion. For those who refuse to mature Scripture warns, “Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honored” (Proverbs 13:18).
Jesus is not asking His leaders to babysit seditious, self-centered, insecure, bless-me-only believers who refuse to be prepared to handle the storms of life. Apostolic leaders have a responsibility to challenge childish temper tantrums and adolescent behavior in the church. I commend the real leaders of Jesus’ Church who refuse to be held captive by a bunch of big babies who refuse to grow up.
Saints, maturity and preparation for the storms of life are vital to victorious living. The world is a hostile, competitive, unfair environment that requires both natural and spiritual training. It is the duty of every born again believer to grow up. The Word declares, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Are you allowing your five-fold ascension gifts to prepare you for the storms of life? Or will you continue to be tossed to and fro by every subtle wind? No matter whether your storm is called poverty, sickness or divorce, Jesus wants to prepare you to overcome the world with your faith. But you have to submit to authority and grow up to be more than a conqueror.
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark