Till the storm of life is past...

Jesus, Lover of my soul,
  Let me to Thy bosom fly;
While the nearer waters roll,
    While the tempest still is high!
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
    Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide;
    O receive my soul at last!

(This post was written by Pastor Dave Curell.) Recently, I heard a commercial on the radio advertising a cancer care center. The commercial was militant: the cancer patient is under attack; cancer is the enemy and the patient's allies are the oncologists and treatment centers. There are powerful weapons and there is hope for victory.

While some people diligently monitor their physical condition, most of us live oblivious to the battle our bodies wage to maintain our physical health. Oblivious, that is, until the doctor gives us "the long face." Then we become acutely aware of that battle. And typically, we take one of three courses of action: we begin to fight for our lives; we resign ourselves to the enemy (surrender to the disease); or we begin an elaborate program of denial. If we chose to fight, we surround ourselves with allies and weapons that will improve our chances of winning the battle. Thus, we find the most powerful weapons and aggressive allies. Does anyone want a pacifist for his oncologist?

If this is true of the battle for our bodies, what about the battle for our souls?

We sing the words to "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" and think it nice that someday, if and when we encounter a storm, Jesus will be there for us. Yet we seldom notice the words refer to the present “storm of life." All of life is a storm and this hymn indicates that the turbulence we face begins with our new birth and only ends at death...

Storms aren't the only thing we face, though; the believer also lives in the midst of conflicts and battles. We are in a war.

Yet, professing Christians and even whole churches live in denial of this ever-present spiritual conflict.

Sure, most of us acknowledge the existence of a spiritual war when someone dies, when we wreck our car, or when we go bankrupt or get cancer. This is what we understand to be the scope of the engagement. But we are wrong. Such things are not the scope of the battle and the fact that we think of the conflict at the center of the believer's life in this way is evidence that we have been lulled to sleep by the schemes of the devil.

The true battle that characterizes the life of the believer is all-encompassing. It is a battle for our own souls as well as the souls of our family members, our spiritual brothers and sisters, our co-workers and neighbors. In this battle, there are no spectators. There are only active combatants and prisoners of war. Again, this battle is not intermittent; there have been no skipped centuries, years, months, days, hours, or even minutes. There's no demilitarized zone; no countries, states, cities, neighborhoods, or homes have remained neutral. The war is so universal that we are surrounded by conflicts, campaigns, causalities, traitors, infiltrators, victories, training exercises, challenges to the defenses, deployment of the weaponry, joys, sorrows, flag-draped coffins, and memorials to dead heroes.

This war is the “good fight of faith” (I Tim. 6:12) the Apostle Paul commands Timothy to fight.

Are our churches fighting this war?

Mostly, what I see is a great deal of bargaining for peace. We are more than willing to negotiate with the devil: “If you will agree not to persecute us, we will agree not to expose you.” “If you will agree to stay out of the church, we will agree to stay out of the culture.”

Speaking in a recent hearing conducted by the Bloomington City Council over the issue of "trans-gendered" individuals, a transgendered man told the council that churches should keep their morality behind closed doors. He said believers should not speak against the proposed ordinance establishing the transgendered as a special class of citizens with unique civil rights. And judging by the response of Bloomington's community of believers, it's clear we are more than willing to live according to his terms.

Is our gospel “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses?” Or is it a "kind" and "gentle" gospel that will make Satan's captives feel more comfortable bound by their shackles?

Recently, I read this statement made by an international para-church leader:

Religion is divisive, (but) the ideas of Jesus are cohesive. That is the single most important thing I've learned in the last 50 years.

He may as well have said, “Truth is divisive but that guy with the sword coming out of his mouth sure had some useful ideas, huh?” This is not the divinely powerful Gospel, but another Gospel that is no Gospel at all. It's simple moralism without Christ's body and blood.

The dreaded wake-up call from the oncologist calling to tell us the results of our biopsy is nothing compared to the wake-up call the Holy Spirit has given us in Ephesians 5:

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says,

        "Awake, sleeper,
         And arise from the dead,
         And Christ will shine on you."

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:11-17)

Understanding the threat, our eyes need to be opened even further so that, with the servant of Elisha, we see the army of the Lord, the defensive armor He has provided, and the weaponry He has placed at our disposal:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 10:10-12)

Soldiers of Christ, arise! Jesus' promise is precious:

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)



Amen, and amen!

I second (or is it third) Jeff's amen. I can't tell you how many times I've clung to that powerful old hymn like a life preserver.

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