FIRST-TRUMP#top..........Sound the alarm in Zion..... ...........................

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. A Priest sounds the alarm on a shofar

 

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PASTORS & SHEPHERDS

11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Eph 4:)


Is there a difference between a pastor and a shepherd? I suppose there is some difference because I have yet to see a pastor with a crooked staff chasing a runaway lamb. And I've never seen a shepherd stand behind a pulpit and preach to his wooly flock. It may be possible there are such things. I haven't seen everything, so I might have missed one or two such occurrences. Interesting thought, but not one germane to the topic of this study.

Pastors, I find are an interesting breed, if I may use that term, in that they seem to be very much alike. I haven't had dealings with all pastors, and I haven't spoken to all pastors. But the ones I have seen, talked to and heard seem to have one certain characteristic in common. They like to be right. As pastors, they keep a tight reign on their sheep and try to prevent them from lending an ear to anything they don't consider proper fodder.

Before I elaborate on my obviously broad and very biased statement, let me explore a tangent, which if you have read very much of what I've written, you know I am very prone to do. My mother tells me I'm this way because I was born sideways. (I hope you know I'm just joking.)

Although I was joking about my mother, it is no joke that my father had to always be right, regardless of how wrong he might have been. Being right and having all the answers is a very hard job to take on and even harder to sustain. For myself, I wouldn't care to place myself under the strain of having to always have the answer. I'm perfectly content being wrong most of the time. And the times I'm not wrong, I'm mistaken for being wrong. Being wrong is an easy image to live up to. I like easy images.

Being right is what most people strive for. I can understand this ambition because I lived a lot of years striving for the same goal, that is, to be seen as right. Fortunately I never progressed far enough toward the front of the pack that anyone took me serious. And eventually I stopped taking myself serious as well. Peace at last.

Psychologists and others in the psychotic field are another group who insist upon being right no matter how wrong they are. And to my mind, they are wrong most of the time. The advantage with being a psychotic, I mean a psychologist is that psychologists have learned a lot of rhetoric with which to cover their mistakes. In fact they're so good at rhetoric that when they finish explaining away their mistakes a person feels so sorry for them that they don't dare call their rhetoric the rhetoric it is.

Speaking of rhetoric, there's the politician. Politicians are unique in that they're not only able to explain away their mistakes but they're especially good at pointing their finger in twelve (count them, twelve) different directions at once in an effort to place the blame on someone else. I've never been able to point to more than ten people at once. And even then it did no good because everyone somehow knew I was the one in error. I wonder how they do that? I feel so proficient at casting off the blame. But then feelings aren't all they're cracked up to be.

You thought I lost my train of thought didn't you? Well, back to pastors and shepherds.


Is there a difference between a pastor and a shepherd? Actually there's no difference at all, and yet there's a huge difference. (How is my rhetoric? I know, not so good. Never could get the hang of it.) According to the Greek and the Hebrew the words are the same, they're interchangeable. Think I'm kidding? Take a look:


H7462 raw-aw' A primitive root; to tend a flock, that is, pasture it; intransitively to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension to associate with (as a friend): - X break, companion, keep company with, devour, eat up, evil entreat, feed, use as a friend, make friendship with, herdman, keep [sheep] (-er), PASTOR, + shearing house, SHEPHERD, wander, waste.


Here you have the Hebrew word that is almost always used to mean shepherd or pastor. This is true even when it is describing Jesus in prophesy. More on that later. Right now I would like to draw your attention to some other words used to describe a pastor (or shepherd, whatever you want to call them). Did you notice these words? devour, eat up, evil entreat. Of course you think I'm pulling your leg. Not this time, that's your pastor's job. Take a look at David's use of the word for pastor:


12Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?

13The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.

14Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; (Psalm 80:)


Yep, that's right. The word David used for devour is exactly the same word as pastor. Interesting? Probably not. But wait just a while, there's more.

You might also like to read the entirety of what David is talking about here. I think you'll find it has more to do with pastors than just the use of the word.


18Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. (Ezek 34:)


Incidentally, the ones God is talking about here are the pastors. Not a pretty picture. But more on that later.

Another part of the description of a pastor I would like for you to notice is this: "To rule." We don't think of a pastor as a ruler, in fact we think of him according to what they say of themselves. They say they're "servants." But as you can see above, nowhere is the concept of servant expressed. Let's take a look at the Greek and see if we can learn any more about pastors and shepherds:


G4166 poy-mane' Of uncertain affinity; a shepherd (literally or figuratively): - shepherd, pastor.


The Greek leaves us very little to go on. It appears that we're pretty well left with the Hebrew description of a pastor.


Definitions give us a good idea of what a word means at its core. But to really learn what a word means, that is its intent, we have to look at the use of the word in its context. There are many places God speaks of pastors and shepherds. Let's take a look at some of those places.


The word "Pastor" in all its tenses is used only once in the New Testament so I will begin there.


11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Eph 4:)


I would like to pause here and explain my purpose in writing this piece. It appears that I'm against pastors and that I'm running them down and trying to expose them. That is only partially true. I'm not running them down, in fact I have a lot of respect for those who have taken on the formidable job of being a pastor It's quite a calling. I have seen pastors who are lax in their calling, not really caring for their sheep and taking the easy way out. I've also seen those who have chosen the job of pastor because it looks like an easy and interesting occupation. But on the other hand I've seen pastors who sacrifice everything for their flock. They will get out of their death bed to help one of their sheep. Such as these I can't fault as a person. I couldn't live up to what they profess and what they exhibit in their lives.

Being a nice guy, however, is not the calling of a pastor. Paul here says what a pastor, as well as other ministers of the Church are to be. Let's take a close look at those requirements:


For the work of the ministry. Here I believe many, if not most, pastors are doing their duty to one degree or another. And this is good. One reason it's good is because if they didn't do their job, the likelihood is that they would be without a job since they're paid by either their board of elders or their congregation. Usually both have some say-so in the hiring of a pastor. And if a pastor is the originator or the "owner" of the church, the chances are no one would go to his church if he didn't do his job.

But doing one's job in the ministry is not unusual. In any religion you will find those in position doing their job very well. Let's take a look at the other requirements Paul sets forth:


for the edifying of the body of Christ. Here we're not looking at the individuals but rather the "Body of Christ." The body of Christ is not a denomination, nor is it a segmented group of people of any nature. The body of Christ is the entire unit of people who have dedicated their lives to their Lord. In the body of Christ there are many hangers-on, and lookie-lous. And there are those who have no interest whatever in the Lord or the church, and may in fact be tares intending to disrupt the body of Christ. One of the duties of the church, which has been strongly stressed in the Bible, is that of weeding out the tares (not physically, Jesus said to let the tares and the wheat grow together, but we should "mark" those not of the body (Rom 16:17) and encouraging the lookies and the hangers to move farther into the Church. These things are not being done. In fact the tares have so much influence in the Church now that they have caused the Church to be no different than the world it is to be separated from. In my mind, except for a very few churches, the ministry has earned an "F" for failure in the area of edifying (architecture, building) the church. They desire to add numbers to the church roles, regardless of whether those numbers know a thing about the Lord, or if they even care to learn. A building with a poor foundation, which in this case is the people the building is composed of, is bound to fall. The Bible tells us that we, the Christian, are building stones that the Spirit of God is to reside in. God is not going to dwell in trash and twigs. He wants gold and jewels refined in the fires of tribulation (Acts 14:22; Rev 7:14). The churches offer milk toast calling it veal as an offering to God.


For the perfecting of the saints. I see no effort whatever toward this goal. All I see is fragments of the Church throwing stones at one another while holding their congregation in their pews. Except for a few words from a very few pastors I see no attempt to drive their sheep to perfection. Instead the churches have followed the example of the schools and dropped their standards to the ground so anyone can reach the top with no effort. Jesus said He wants people who overcome as He has overcome. The pastors teach that taking a bath is all that's required to be an overcomer. They've even eliminated the command to confess and repent.

Have I described you and your church? Then you have two choices. You can disagree and throw stones at me for being a heretic, defaming the respectable, and completely out of synch with the Bible; or, if you agree and you recognize your failure, to do something to improve the situation. Chances are you think what I say is basically true, but for the other churches because you're already doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Fine and dandy. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter what I think. I can judge and give grades all day and it isn't worth a hill of beans. It's what God thinks that's important. So let's see what the Bible has to say about pastors and shepherds (I have more commentary after the references below):


8The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. (Jer 2:)


14Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. (Jer 3:)


It could easily be assumed from this passage of Scripture that pastors are ordained by God, which they are. And it might be assumed that pastors are teaching the true Word. But we know that isn't always the case. So it behooves each of us to see if we're teaching (and believing) true doctrine, or false.

God said He will give pastors who will feed with knowledge and understanding. And this is true in just about every church where the Bible is still read, as long as it's the Bible that's being read. Jesus said the Pharisees and the Scribes taught a true Word as well. The problem was, and is, that along with the true Gospel the pastors, as did the Pharisees, add their commentaries, their doctrines and their traditions that nullify the true Word they are delivering (Mark 7:5-15; Col 2:8).

19Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it. 20My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains. 21For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. (Jer 10:)


You can feel the hurt the Lord is experiencing because of what the pastors are doing, and because of how the churches are straying from Him.

It's not a game we're playing, any more than it was a game with Adam and Eve and the Israelites who were rescued from their bondage in Egypt. There's an eternity at stake, yet we treat the entire thing as less than a TV program. Where does the fault lie? It appears to me that God is saying the fault lies with those whose job it is to keep God's Tabernacle in order and in good condition. Something not done today.


8Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it. 9Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, ASSEMBLE ALL THE BEASTS OF THE FIELD, COME TO DEVOUR. 10Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. 11They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart. 12The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for the sword of the LORD shall devour from the one end of the land even to the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace. (Jer 12:)


After reading the above, consider these verses of Scripture:


17And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to ALL THE FOWLS THAT FLY IN THE MIDST OF HEAVEN, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18That ye may EAT THE FLESH OF KINGS, AND THE FLESH OF CAPTAINS, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and ALL THE FOWLS WERE FILLED WITH THEIR FLESH. (Rev 19:)


1And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. (Rev 17: see also Mat 23:29-37; Luke 11:42-53; 13:34)


If you're familiar with Scripture at all, you're aware of what gold and jewels represent (Mal 3:17; Rev 21:18-19).


18Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? 19It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. (Luke 13:)


3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2Thes 2:)


28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:)


I picture here the denominations trying to steal members from other churches to their own by condemning the other denominations and their doctrines. The body is all one. They may be different segments of the body, and some parts may more healthy Spiritually than others, but it is all one body.


Back to Pastors. This next Scripture is a plea from a righteous Pastor. Certainly in his case, ungodliness will not be tolerated in the congregation:


13O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters. 14Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. 15Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now. 16As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee. (Jer 17:)


Jeremiah was not the only Pastor with problems. Hear what Elijah had to say:


9And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1kings 19:)


46And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. 47Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. 49Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: 50That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. 52Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. 53And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: 54Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him. (Luke 11:)


Instead of listening and learning, the teachers and preachers of the day were trying to shut Jesus up. They didn't want their denominational doctrines to be disrupted, and they would go to any length to keep their views. We see this again when the Protestant churches were formed, and again when the reconstructionists (called cults) began to form. Those in the established position would kill anyone who disagreed with them. This is the Church I'm talking about. That's the lengths we will go in order to not change. Is such behavior the will of God? I'm sure I don't have to tell you the answer to that question.


21And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. 22And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; 23And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. 24And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. (Rev 18:)


Consider: who was it that killed the Prophets and the Righteous? The World? Or was it the existing church of the day? What we see here is future, not past. So who is God calling judgement upon? I ask again, where is the voice of the bride? Where are the prophets? Where is the candle? (Rev 1:20).

I know, you're saying it's the Roman church, or some other church God is talking about here. I would give the matter very serious consideration, especially in light of what God is saying about the churches and the pastors in these passages of Scripture.


7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Mat 24:)


The churches surely are hating one another and turning against one another. And I don't think there's much doubt but that iniquity abounds in this day and age. What do you think?


1These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. (John 16:)


Again this is the church that's being talked about here. The churches, just as in Jesus' time, just as in Isaiah's time, just as in Ezekiel's time, and just as in Moses' time, will reject the truth and kill anyone who tries to tell them a truth other than what they want to hear. As Jesus said, those who have an ear, let him hear.

Back to Pastors:


21I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice. 22The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness. (Jer 22:)


Prosperity dulls our hearing. When we're poor and desperate we listen and seek. In war we cry out to God. In peace we turn from Him. That's why it takes a war and devastation to bring us to our knees. Why is there so much trouble in the world?


1Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. 2Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. 3And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. (Jer 23:)


I believe it's quite obvious that the last part of this is something to occur in the future, and not describing the situation today.


I have a tendency to be wrong or to see things out of perspective. I can also see things in an exaggerated form. In this case however I feel I have been very soft on the pastors in comparison to what God has to say about them.

Pastors are needed in the churches. To not have leaders is to have chaos. But when we have leaders who do not lead, but rather tell those they are leading they have already arrived before they even put on their walking shoes is worse than having no leader at all.


There is turmoil and conflict in the church. everybody is at everybody's neck. And this situation does not just happen in the churches, it carries into everyday life.

Christmas parties, where families come together should be a time of expressing love for one another. I think I have expressed a common view. Let me tell you about my family Christmas reunions. My father was a Mormon. My brother in laws were part of two different Fundamental churches. I, at that time, was philosophical, having no church affiliation, and my younger brother was, I suppose you could say, searching. This I'm describing was essentially my first family reunion, and almost my last. When the subject of religion came up, which I suppose it always does in any family get-together, what should have been expressions of love, became anger and hate. I was glad there were no weapons in sight. Here were strong examples of Christian brotherhood at each other's throats. Not a one wanted to hear what the other had to say, and everyone demanded that everyone else agree with them. Within a short time I had more than enough and I decided to leave and not return. I had as much family love as I could stand.

This is the way of the Christian. And such an attitude is what causes the world to be against the Christian, and for good reason. This ought not to be so. The Christian should be the most compassionate, the most interested in others, the most sought after to lend an ear than anyone else. But instead the Christian is one to be avoided, especially by other Christians. And should that Christian you desire to share with be of another denomination not on the "accepted list," you dare not mention your beliefs unless you're attired for battle.

Christians should be always at the ready to share with other Christians their every hurt, fear, observation and thought, and this without being judged. We of the Church should be at the ready, as Paul said, to reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to receive the same from them. And this always in the spirit of love and concern for the other person.


All things sink to the bottom. Nothing in nature of any substance (meaning the exception of such as air or steam) rises. And the lowest always has more influence than the highest. We see this in crowds where people of normally cool minds get caught up in the emotions of the moment, much to their regret when reason returns. We warn children to stay away from those who are of a corrupted nature because no matter how much we train the child, the draw of the world is going to pull them under.


5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1Cor 11:)


It is no different in the churches. Whatever bit of leaven, no matter how innocent it may appear, or how useful, is going to pull the weak, which includes all of us, downward. And once we, and the church, face the world and takes our eyes of the high standards of the Lord, we are destined to fail. We go the way we're looking. And all the churches, to one degree or another, are facing the world. If you doubt this, look at any church and see if it lives up to the standards it set for itself just 50 years ago. And then look again a hundred years before that.


Trial brings people together. The hungry on the street is not as likely to argue religion and doctrine with his neighbor who also lives in a cardboard box. To do so is to create just that much more isolation and misery for one's self than is already being experienced by the both of them. Solomon said: "9Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. 11Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccles 4:)

Persecution brings people together, it does not separate them. The Pharisees found this out when they tried to stamp on the spread of Christianity. The more the fire is fanned, the hotter the blaze, and the more the fire spreads. Those under persecution cling to one another and sacrifice for one another. Affluence causes apathy and self-centeredness. And this, except for those in other countries, we have in the Church. We are all far too rich in worldly goods and worldly ambitions to even see past our self-righteous nose. Above I said all churches have deviated from their beginning and are sinking in the mire. This is not an absolute fact. There are still some churches and people who refuse to go the way of the world. They are of two classes. They are either detached from organized religion, that is the denominational system, and they are very likely very small in number; or they are one of the denominations deemed a "cult," and under persecution, and they are large in number.

Persecution brings people together. Lepers do not judge other lepers. In spite of any other differences, they are both lepers and not allowed to mingle with decent society. Having pride in one's name tag or credentials is of little benefit when both are being castrated for their condition or belief. That is not to say there are not people doing exactly that in spite of the foolishness of it. The entire church system is doing just that. If we take a close look at society today we will see that the Christian is the outcast of society, and every day they are being pushed more and more to the outskirts of acceptable society. Those who resist pressure to conform with the thinking of the world and give up their Christian beliefs are condemned and even imprisoned. This snowball has only begun to roll. In the near future it will have overtaken the churches and all but the most Spiritual will be caught up in the world's takeover of the churches, which is almost complete (and I dare say having had very little resistance).

The other group of churches who have not sunk to such a low level are those called cults. The reason cults have not changed are: One, they were corrupt from the beginning, that is, they were based on a false premise such as those called the "love cults." Or two: They are under persecution by the "mainstream" churches because they are just enough different than themselves to fall under the category of family, therefore open to castigation and condemnation.

Persecution creates a tight bond, and it creates resistance. There's something in us that resists whatever is trying to change us, if the pressure is strong enough. In the world of the mainline churches the resistance to the world system has been little because the change has been slow and without pressure. Once the world has the churches over the line of resistance all it will take is the final push to topple the church, as we're seeing in Canada and elsewhere.

Those churches called cults by the mainline churches have experienced resistance from their inception, even to the shedding of blood. And this from other Christians. They have, and still do, experience the fires of persecution from those who are supposedly "brothers and sisters" because of the slight differences in their belief. And this in spite of the fact that, for the most case, they are doing far more to fulfill their Christian duty than are the churches doing the persecuting. But it's that very persecution that ties the cults together and causes them to resist the influence of the mainline churches, and therefore they are untouched by the pressures of the world. Should the churches cease from persecuting the cults, over time, they may very likely fall to the sway of the world just as the mainline churches have done.


What has this to do with pastors and shepherds? Everything.

Pastors set the example for the church. What the pastors preach from the pulpit dictates what those in the pews will do and accept (under the guise of belief). If the pastor preaches a message of Christian brotherhood, love, and striving for perfection, that is what the church will endeavor, to one degree or another, to do. If the pastor preaches a message of condemnation toward those bearing the name of Christian, if they teach that there is nothing to do beyond being baptized, everything else being of a voluntary nature, then the congregation will sleep and fall prey to the world's influences and attractions. If the pastor lives a slovenly life, adapting himself to the ways of the world, then no amount of preaching otherwise will overcome the example he is setting. Children become like their parents, they don't become like what they are taught by their parents.


As seen in the Scriptures above, God is not happy with His pastors. Pastors have spoiled the sheep and caused them to fall prey to the wolves. And in many cases the pastors are wolves in sheep's clothing. I didn't say this, the Bible tells us this in no uncertain terms. The times a pastor or shepherd is mentioned in a good light is when it refers to Jesus as the "Good Shepherd."

Jesus is the Shepherd of the flock, not the pastor of the churches. The pastor is the porter, the caretaker of the sheep, he is not the ruler nor the one who dictates the rules by which the sheep are to live and to think. If we keep this in mind, that the pastors are not the shepherd, they are not the ones who are to set the doctrines (nor to convey the doctrines of the denomination they're attached to), then they would be more apt to seek out the truth, outside the box of doctrine, so that they may advance the church and the people rather than hold them back as they are doing.


I began this piece by stating that we all like to be right. But when appearing right becomes more important than being right, than that is very wrong. It becomes even more wrong when the eternal soul is involved.

Churches and denominations have built a fortress around themselves with the intent of, not keeping out the enemy as they should, but to imprison their sheep and prevent them from looking outside the box that's been constructed for them. Doctrines are intended to teach us, to set us on the right path to truth. But when doctrine, the ideas of man, becomes the all-in-all rather than the path, they become chains.

God's Church does not have walls. We build the walls that separate us. And in building walls to hold our congregation prisoner, we also close out what truth God has implanted in each of the denominations. We see this in the Pharisees. Jesus Himself told His disciples to listen to the Pharisees and the Scribes because they held the truth, that is, they sat in Moses' seat. The problem was not in what the Pharisees taught when they taught the Bible, but when they taught the hundreds of doctrines they added to the Bible. It's the same today. We, that is the churches, have added scores of beliefs that have little or nothing to do with salvation and serving the Lord, and have minimized and set aside the very commandments of Jesus. Then, to give extra credibility to these demands, they are given such names as "Articles of Faith, or "We Believe." Now tell me, how can anyone say what someone else in the same building believes? That's easily answered: No body believes anything. Everybody just gives intellectual consent to whatever is expressed because nobody cares.

If anyone actually cared about finding truth, instead of stopping their ears to those who disagree with them, they (I'm particularly talking about pastors here) would desire to sit down with those having differing views and learn what that person has to say. They may walk away from the table believing exactly as they did before the discussion, but they're bound to have gained some insight into the subject discussed. And even if nothing is gained by the one, perhaps the other has learned something new. It's for sure that refusing to sit with someone who does not agree with us and hearing what they have to say rather than condemning them unheard is going to accomplish nothing whatsoever.

Even those differences that seem to have machine guns protecting them are purely conjecture and of no consequence. For instance the Trinity. Is there a Trinity? Maybe, maybe not. Jesus didn't say: "Believe in the Trinity and you will be saved."

How about the Virgin Birth? Where, may I ask, is it stated, or even hinted at that one must believe in the Virgin Birth? That was merely placed in Scripture as one of many signs that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. And then it could only be seen by those of us long afterwards because we see the entire picture. It was hidden from those during Jesus' time.

As for the Trinity, the evidence for this fact (if indeed it is a fact) is so hidden that evidence for it has to be drawn from a verse here and a verse there. God certainly likes to hide His evidence. But those issues that are of major importance He screams at us, He doesn't hide it.

Is Jesus the Son of God? Maybe, maybe not. To some this becomes a critical issue that demands blood shed if denied. However Jesus seemed to have no such dictatorial attitude toward the matter. I have no doubt if He thought it of major importance that we believe He was God Himself He would have made it very clear. But He didn't. As it seems to me the evidence for such a contention outweighs the opposing view. But what I or anyone else believes is of no consequence. Jesus said to believe on Him. Believe what? Believe that Jesus is God? That's not what Jesus said to believe. He did say that He was in the Father, and the Father was in Him. But He also said we the believer are in that triangle. Yet for someone to stress that fact causes tempers to flare. Jesus said He was the expected Messiah. That is what is to be believed. Adding to this is nothing more than playing Pharisee. And to this Jesus had much to say. Jesus also said that He is our Lord, and that we are to follow Him. This is what should be stressed rather than the other. But it isn't. Instead we are instructed to follow Jesus to the baptismal tank and no farther. I don't think Jesus is going to approve of such teaching.

What words are to be said at one's baptism. Does it matter? In some forts it is critical. I don't find that so critical when I read the Bible. In fact I find the thief on the cross was not baptized at all. But what he did do that brought him salvation is essentially lost in the churches. He confessed Jesus as the coming Messiah, and he confessed that he was guilty of his crime and worthy of death.

Those Articles of Faith, as I see it, are useless pieces of paper that the Lord will blow at come Judgement. However there are some things Jesus will judge very harshly that are not taught from the pulpit any more. Jesus said to work, and our works will be judged. Yet the churches teach that works are naughty and not to be performed. Chains to hold down the congregation. Jesus said not to judge, and we will be judged according to how we judge others. Yet the churches judge with anger anyone who disagrees with them. How do you suppose the Lord will react to those who judge one another because of the church they happen to attend?

It's not our church affiliation that's going to save us. It's not our beliefs that will save us. It's our obedience, our following the lead of the Holy Spirit, it's our love for the Lord and for one another that will save us. I think the Bible is very clear on this. Arguing amongst ourselves and condemning one another in the Lord's name while wearing the Christian name tag I believe is going to bring great condemnation down on us. There's been a great deal of going contrary to the will of God and calling it God's commandment. There's been a lot of consigning of people to hell by the churches because of disagreement. I think hell will be full, but not necessarily full of those who have been consigned there by other church members.


The world is in the process of infiltrating and compromising the church, blending it to itself. This is under the name ecumenicalism. The reason the world is winning the battle for souls is because the church is so divided and at war with itself. Jesus said a house divided must fall. And fall the church is doing.

I believe there should be an ecumenical meeting of the minds, but not with the world. Nor do I believe the churches should come together to find a lowest denominator to which they all can agree. This is the thinking of the world. The churches should set for itself the highest of standards to live up to, not the lowest as is being done. Jesus set the example, and we should live up to that example. His example to us was the maximum, and that's what He demands of us, and of His body the church. Compromise is not an option.


Resistance is the nature of a pastor. It's almost as though resistance to hearing anything outside their denominational doctrine is a requirement to be a pastor. I say this after having had my experiences trying to talk to pastors. I find, because I don't totally agree with them, that their guard is up the moment I open my mouth. Even when my attempt is to agree with them and to compliment them, they're ready to reject what I say. This ought not to be so. A pastor should be willing and anxious to hear everyone no matter what their view. If that person is in error, then the pastor should be prepared to set them straight If that error is crucial, which it rarely is.

Open communication is lost in the churches. That tells me the Holy Spirit is not flowing in the churches. And who will be held to blame for the quenching of the Holy Spirit within the church do you suppose?


What do you think would happen if a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness was to attend a traditional church? From the pulpit there have been potshots taken at him and his denomination. Now there's one of those outcast unbelieving heathens in their midst. How does the church respond to him? Do they shun him and make him feel uncomfortable as you would expect they would do to one so outrageously sinful as has been taught? In the past, perhaps yes. Now it would make no difference if the new attendee (I'm talking regular attendance now, not a visitor) was a Buddhist or a Hindu, or even a witch, they would be treated the same as everyone else, which is essentially at arm's length. People don't discuss Bible or Jesus in the churches except in the sermon or in Sunday School. Such things are not a part of everyday life as they should be. They're relegated to the hour or so a week, and that is all.

Does it sound like I believe the Mormon should be shunned? Then you haven't been listening to what I've been saying.


It is said that Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses are unwilling to listen to reason, and they come around with their books and their Bibles in hand, their Bibles having well-worn pages of the only Scriptures they know. Talk outside those few passages and they're lost. I find that not to be so at all. In every case when I talk to a JW or a Mormon, no matter what I might bring up, they will take me immediately to the verses I'm referring to. I've had this happen time and again. I can't do that, even with all the extensive study I've made of the Bible. Take note of someone at a restaurant or some other public place reading the Bible. What denomination do you think they might belong to? That man standing on the corner handing out invitations to become Christian, what church do you think he represents? Those young men and women dressed in nice clean suits going door to door spreading the Gospel, what church affiliation do you think they have? Those missionaries being persecuted and killed in other countries, what church do you think supports their efforts? Is it your church? Doubtful.

I said the ones going far out of their way to spread the Gospel are considered to have knowledge of but a very few passages of Scripture. And I said I find this not to be so. But I do find that very few members of the mainline churches have any knowledge of the Bible at all, nor are they interested. They may read a chapter or two a day of the Bible, with half an eye on the tube, but they only do so for the same reason they attend church on Sunday: It's the thing to do. As to having knowledge of the word, I find that, for the most part, a mainline Christian will have all the pages of their Bible covered with colorful marks, but those marks don't mean a thing except to impress others with how "Spiritual" they are. All their information comes from a small piece of paper the size of a credit card called "We Believe" that states everything they're supposed to know, as least according to their pastor that's all they need to know.


Pastors believe the "cultists" are rejecting the truth because they won't believe as they do. They believe the cultist is doomed to hell because they hold a different view than their own. In fact the pastor believes that the very thing that makes the cultist special, that is their appropriate dress, their intense missionary work, their obedience to the Word to keep themselves separate from the world, is the very thing that will send them to hell.

Does it sound like I'm defending the doctrines of those called a cult? Then again you haven't heard what I've been saying.


I spoke of my own experiences with pastors. When I'm part of a church I don't just sit in the pews. I apply myself. I do all I can to help the members of the church, to support the church, and to maintain (and in some cases even build the church). Yet, regardless, I dare not say a word to anyone about doctrine, or about the Bible for fear of being either shunned or cut off, even though, as before stated, I might be agreeing with (and lending support) to what has been said. And it's not just me I've seen this happen to. I've seen where someone spoke up with an opinion that did not agree with what the pastor was supporting, and everything stopped in effort to put down that differing view rather than let the person express what they see.

I believe that if the pastors were earnest in their search for the truth, and if they were to be concern about me (or anyone), believing my views of the Gospels were going to send me to hell, then they would do all they could to show me where I'm wrong. Instead they do nothing, and they say nothing, and they certainly don't listen to what I have to say. I should think the pastor would do all he could to get me to leave the church for fear I might contaminate someone with my false doctrine. I would respect such a person more than I do one who sits back and says nothing, except with potshots from the pulpit.

I hope I'm not describing you or the pastor of your church. In fact I hope I'm all wet from the get-go. Maybe none of this is happening and it's all just in my paranoid imagination. I only have my own experiences and my observations to go by. You have your own. In your opinion, does any of what I say here apply? If it doesn't, then all the better. If you find it does apply, then what are you going to do about it? Right or wrong, I'm sticking my neck out and speaking up. What are you going to do?


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


1And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. (See Jer 23:1-4)

7Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 11For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. 16I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

17And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. 18Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. 20Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 21Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 22Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 23And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. (Ezek 34:)

4Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face. 5And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary. 6And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, 7In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. 8And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves. 9Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.

10And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. 11Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them. 12Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity. 13And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed. 14But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein. 15But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: 16They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge. (Ezek 43:)


 

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