Have you put yourself in the path of the storm?

   Huntsville, Alabama was recently ranked number one in a list of the top ten tornado cities in America.  It calls into question the collective sanity of those of us who have chosen to live in this area where powerful and deadly storms are such frequent occurrences.  

   Few of us (other than storm chasers) would ever choose to put ourselves in the way of an oncoming tornado.  Most of us heed the weather warnings.  We take shelter when the warning sirens are blaring and the TV weather forecasters are telling  us that a tornado is near.  But some don’t.  Sadly, during our most recent tornado outbreak here last month, two people who had refused to take cover in a storm shelter lost their lives.

    In Proverbs 1:27-30, Wisdom warns that those who reject her have chosen a disastrous destiny indeed.  They have placed themselves in the path of a terrifying storm with little hope of rescue.  Wisdom says,

“When your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD; they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke.”

  My friends, when we reject instruction, correction or rebuke that is based in the wisdom of God, we are choosing to be destroyed by the storms of life.

  But it is so easy to dismiss criticism and rebuke.  We rationalize our actions.  We justify ourselves.  We may do this whether it is that we’ve been told that we need to attend assemblies of the church more faithfully, or study our Bibles more frequently, or stop smoking, or stop speeding, or stop gossiping or any other of 1,000 rebukes we might need to hear. All too often we choose to stay in the path of the storm.

  The day before our most recent round of tornadoes, the weather was beautiful.  Just hours before the storms hit, it might have been easy to convince oneself that no storm was coming.  Even as the storms were approaching, some apparently thought that they could continue as they were where they were, and that the sirens and the media warnings could be ignored.  It was easier and more pleasant to believe that no harm would come.    But, “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:5).

  Be wise.  Flee the storm.  Listen carefully and humbly to rebuke.  Make corrections in your life where they are needed. “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool” (Proverbs 17:10).

— Steve Klein

Finding Your Place

   Have you ever purchased a ticket for a sporting event, a concert or a play that had your specific seat number printed on the ticket?  That number was your assigned seat.  When you located it and put yourself in it, you had the privilege of enjoying the event.

  In the church, the Lord hasn’t given us tickets with assigned seating, per se. But as members of the body of Christ, we each have a special role to play and a niche to fill in the functioning of the body. Not everyone does the same thing — sits in the same seat if you will. “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:4-5).   One of the most important things each of us can do to strengthen the church and our own relationship to God is simply to find our place in the Lord’s work and fill it.  The whole body of Christ is “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16). 

  In the New Testament church, there were many different seats of service.  In Romans 12:6-8 alone Paul lists six different kinds of work to be done (prophecy, ministry, teaching, giving, exhortation, leading and showing mercy).  As we read through the New Testament, the public preaching of the Word was generally done by apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers.  But there are many examples of others doing vitally important work as well.  Dorcas was full of good works; she seemed to find her place in making clothes (Acts 9:36-39).  Priscilla and Aquilla were able to teach a man privately the way of the Lord (Acts 18:26).  Gaius received and supported traveling preachers (3 John 5-8).  Phoebe served the church by being a helper to many individuals (Romans 16:1).  Onesiphorus visited Paul in prison (2 Timothy 1:16). 

  Every one of us has a place to fill in the work of the church.  God has given each of us different abilities, and we are to use them in His service. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10).  We must commit ourselves to doing what we can do. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.  Have you found your place?

— Steve Klein