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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Shepherd

Outline summary of observations from Huldrych Zwingli’s “The Shepherd”, a sermon preached in October, 1523.

“The image of both pastors [true and false] set forth by that most famous clerk, Huldrych Zwinglius, and how translated out of the Latin and into Englishe by John Wernon Synonoys. A most fruitful and necessary book, to be had and read in all churches, therewith to enarm all simple and ignorant folks, against the ravenous wolves and false prophets. London, 1550.”

Introduction: the content and purpose for writing:
To “find the color and shape of a true shepherd”; To “see the false wolves which pass themselves off in sheep’s clothing . . . standing with their fangs and claws which the sheep’s clothing cannot cover.”

Purpose for writing:
To lead them [false shepherds] away from their designs; and if not, to warn the godly Christian people against them; that God would rule (God has delivered His people in the past; God has provided salvation for His people now; God will be faithful to deliver from this darkness).

That people would hate and grow tired of them;
That rulers would hate and grow tired of them.

Concluding remarks to the Introduction:
Be strong and encouraged; Be faithful and diligent;

“Continue to exercise care for your children which were born to you as you have done until now, and teach them not to abandon the healing teaching of God because of any flattery or threats of the false shepherds.”

“Put your foot firmly in between the teeth of the ravenous wolves and do not let the little sheep be snatched away from you. Above all watch out for the little papist fox [Zwingli’s opponent Theobald Huter] who would gladly, where permitted, eat as the wolves.”

“A shepherd and the sheep he tends bear so clearly a resemblance to God and to us . . .”
“[T]hose sent among his sheep as shepherds learn to administer their office and commission from no other model than the only true word of God . . . the Lord Jesus Christ . . .”

Concerning The True Shepherd

The Activity of Christ—the Word of God which as expressed itself visibly.
Stand opposed to danger and persecution by enemies of the Word of God. “Thus must every shepherd be prepared that in his pasture some will become worse, but some will be resurrected from their sins.” (Lk 2:34ff)

He will also be opposed by unbelievers. (1 Cor 2:14)

Parents [of the shepherd] must be prepared to see their children suffer mockery and rejection of the world.

[Shepherd] must: Persist in the work of God and leave father and mother (Lk 2:48ff); Must not be distracted from ministry by family(Mt. 10:37); Must not be influenced to limit or direct by the will of parents (Jn. 2:4); Must hate the one who persists against him to make him unfaithful (Mt. 10:39; Lk 14:26)

Persist in the work of God in himself: Deny, empty self (Mt. 16:24ff; Lk 9:23); Must be pawned like a servant; Must look to God for power and His Word for guidance; Must take cross daily (To confront personal sin; To find those who do not bear their cross; To strive in the Spirit against the flesh (Gal 5:17))

Be filled with God: Take all confidence in Him; Take all consolation from Him (Lk 22:35; Mt 10:19; Jn 20:22)

Take the Holy Spirit: Feed sheep from Him: “the shepherd must lead his sheep into no other pasture than that in which he has previously been nourished.” Speak out of Him; Move not without Him (Lk 24:29; Acts 1:4); Rejoice because of Him;

Preach empowered by Him: “Repent from sin” (Mt. 4:17); Prepare the way for Him (Mt. 3:2); Grace; Forgiveness; Healing; Rejoicing

Wash the sheep; Keep them out of their excrement; Lead them so as not to lose what they have newly possessed, including salvation.

Beware hypocrisy (Mt 5:19; Ti 1:16; Ro 2:21-24) “If Christ did not need works of hypocrisy, then it is not seemly to have anything to do with them.” “No one may concoct anything that would improve or replace the divine.”

Preach “nothing other than the word of God.” Help charges “understand their infirmity”; know the limitation of human power and the capability of divine power. Assurance; Healing; Nourishment in the form of the Bible.

The Prophets and Apostles concerning the “other external things and what he should hope for”:
Attack fearlessly the most harmful of all vices; Do not be threatened by the inflated power of this world nor by any persecution (Jer 1:9ff; 2 Cor. 10:5; Mt. 9:36).

Speak against (Ezek. 3:18): Hypocrisy; Unjust leaders (you are in their power if you do not). Rulers should be good, not oppressors (Lk 22:25); “[T]he shepherd should not excuse the king, prince or government, but as soon as he sees them departing from the way should point out to them their error” (1 Sam 15).

Those who sin (Jer 1:7; Is 58:1; 2 Sam 11-12): Give yourself (Jn 10:12; Mt. 10:27ff); Look to Christ (John 10:11; Mt 16:23; Mt 21:12ff; Mk 11:15-18; Lk 19:45ff; Mt. 23)

If he preaches the gospel without scolding anyone, “what will the poor pastor preach? The whole world lies in evil and he should not rebuke it. Why then do they need a shepherd?”

Those in idolatry (1 Kings 12-13; 1 Kings 18-19)

“If the shepherd would read the prophets then he would find nothing other than an eternal battle with the powerful and the vices of this world.”

1. Isaiah 1:23 against the powerful
2. Isaiah 5:4 against impiety
3. Ezek 34:2-10 against shepherds who feed themselves.
4. Jonah 1, 3 against godless cities.

"If the shepherd is leading against all the great and high powers of this world and must fight against them, then it is necessary that he be well armed.”
1. Into the armory of Christ (Eph 6)
2. Sent forth (Mt 10:7-25; Mk 6:7-13; Lk 9:1-11, 10:2-18)
3. If the shepherd is protected until he is killed, then he is rightly protected, “for no one who is not God’s suffers death for the sake of God.” God is all powerful; He is God, Lord and Father; All confidence is placed in Him; He has not promised anything He will not do; He is to be followed in all He demands; You will have joy when with Him. God’s Word will not fail.

Love for the flock is: necessary so that all things are judged and measured. (I Cor 13:4-8). Sheep must be: Struck; Pushed or pulled; Called or lured; Carried when weak Loved without fail.

Love is Necessary for his accomplishment of anything laid out so far; Necessary for stability in persecution.

The False Shepherds: false prophets in true form. (Mt. 7:15ff).

They come in unarmed, innocent form . . . like sheep: Behavior shows like a bite they are wolves, Speak for their sake (or their money chests) not for the sake of Christ; Complain; are apathetic and have their own “traditions”; Reject confession; Lead to disorder; Do not understand the Church (Where Christ is the Head; Where the Word of God dwells--Built on Christ (Mt 16:18); Universal and local (1 Cor 1:2); They come undermining the faith)

No regard to history; No interest in preaching; Desire godliness without the Word of God, deceiving by illusion [scripture twisting] Destroy the passion of Christ by holding out salvation by works.

Are not appointed by the Great Shepherd. “if you inspect the false shepherds down to their feet, you will find their wolf’s claws always sticking out.” Applies to Bishops, Pastors, Teachers.

They take, not give (Mt. 7:16); Take the wool; Take the milk; Feed out of compulsion, not love. Do not practice what is preached; and, if there is no preaching, there is nothing to gauge the practice! Watch their response:

1. A true shepherd is accused or slandered and is not harmed.
2. A false shepherd: Hates the Word of God and defames those who preach; Lives in sin, a glutton and carouser; Is a crank, half mad and immoderate, undisciplined; Does not shelter the poor. They gather riches, not disperse them; Cannot teach. “Those who teach their own dreams rather than the Word of God.”

Evidenced by Christ as: Bearers of bad fruit (Mt. 13:29); Not devout or lovers of God; Flammable (John 15:5ff); Influenced and indulged; Unlikely to suffer and avoid pain; Are easily excited to rage and vindictiveness; Do not act as parents and put their concerns before their sheep; Thieves and destroyers, punishing and nurturing for the sake of money; Hostile to true shepherds; Do not resist kings and people who sin, but allow them to go ahead without shame;

1. Wolves are not sent into the midst of wolves;
2. Unrest and rebellious when discovered.
3. “What is to be considered here is not bodily injury but the falsification and concealment of the Word of God. For the false shepherds have either been silent [not preached it] or have falsified it. They still press with all earnestness, power and deception that one either not preach the gospel at all or else preach with the deceitful, false mixture and power of human teaching.

How to get away from False Shepherds:
a. “Point out their wages and see if perhaps in viewing the reward they would stand down and not serve for such a payment any longer.”
b. See if the simple and the elect are led into error (Deut 13:1-5; Mt 24:24).
c. See if people are led to idols and not away from them.
d. See if God threatens them with a sword and they still speak with the thoughts of their heart. (Jer 23:1, Isa 30:13, Ezek 43:1-10)
e. See if they concern themselves with the chaff and not the wheat, the goats instead of the sheep.

How to do away with them
a. Killing is not allowed without the command of God; therefore angry, ill-tempered Christians would be unjust if one thinks to strike them. Be willing to suffer death yourself before you listen to a shepherd or wolf who will pull you away from God.
b. Leave them to God. (Mt. 7:19.)
c. Do not listen to them. “If the entire parish recognizes his falsehood then cast him out unanimously.” (Ezek 34:10; Deut 13:5; Psa 139:7; John 8:3-11 )

Friday, February 11, 2005

confounded-flarbgaspin-razzinfraggin-stinkeldinknockin . . .

Now the problem could be entirely mine, in which case the following is mere rambling from a skewed perspective; on the other hand, the problem is real and the skew lies elsewhere . . .

I noticed a recent post from a certain non-profit educational institution "whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society sustained by religious principles and characterized by personal and economic liberty." The post is an invitation to all Seminary and Graduate students to participate in a Homiletics [Preaching] Award competition. Submissions will be judged on faithfulness to Biblical text, relevance to [an assigned] contemporary situation and the overall homiletical structure, content and delivery. Cash prizes of $2000, $1000 and $500 will be awarded to first, second and third place finalists. Participants in the preach-off will submit a tape 12-20 minutes long along with a manuscript of said same sermon (caveat: manuscript NOT to have the author's name).

The assigned scripture is James 5:1-6, the topic is "A Warning to Rich Oppresors" and the setting is a weekend retreat to corporate executives.

I am flummoxed. Not because of how preacher and message get separated and how the cash finds the winner. I am confused by the whole principle.

Just what in the wide, wide world of sports is a-goin' on here?

First, whether the situation is hypothetical or not, give these boys who have a message a box of soap to stand on and let 'em go! Back in the day it was not uncommon for a preacher to go out in the woods and let the birds and deer have a listen, and that's even for preachers WITH a pulpit and a regular listening audience!

Second, since when is preacher or message to be judged and prized like hogs at the state fair?
Before the Civil War it was not uncommon for people to go to fairs to hear debates. Lincoln and Douglas were debating in that context long before either of them thought about the Presidency. But they did'nt go to collect a prize, nor did they debate in order to be judged.

My gosh, why the (insert STEVE BROWN-ism here. If you don't know who he is, then nevermind) do we need to set up hypothetical situations? Get those corporate execs together and let a bus-load of homiletical homeboys have a go.

If a warning is to be preached, WHAT THE DOG-GONE HECK are those folks doing sounding our warnings off like bellowing cattle parading for the blue ribbon?

Dang, I'm mad!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Getting a Complete Education

Adapted from "To Be Educated" by Carolyn C.

If I learn my ABCs, can read 600 words per minute,
and can write with perfect penmanship,
But have not learned how to communicate with the
Designer of all language,
My education is not complete.

If I have memorized addition facts,
multiplication tables, and chemical formulas,
But have never disciplined myself to hide God's Word
in my heart,
My education is not complete.

If I can classify animals by their family, genus,
and species and can write a lengthy scientific paper
that wins an award,
But have not been introduced to the
Maker's purpose for all creation,
My education is not complete.

If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the
Preamble to the Constitution,
But have not been informed of the hand of God in the
history of our country,
My education is not complete.

If I can play the piano, the violin,
six other instruments,
and can write music that moves men to tears,
But have not learned to listen to the Director
of the universe and worship Him,
My education is not complete.

If I can run cross-country races,
star in basketball,
and do 100 push-ups without stopping,
But have never bent my will to do God's will,
My education is not complete.

However, if one day I see the world as God sees it
and come to know Him Whom to know is life eternal,
and glorify God by fulfilling His purpose for me,
Then, my education is complete!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Oldest Profession

Have you ever given much thought to “the oldest profession?” When this phrase comes to our ears, our thoughts generally go one of two directions, and admittedly, both directions are nowhere near the right direction one could be going. When one considers the phrase “the oldest profession,” one may think of either witchcraft or prostitution. There is a third direction one should consider and when one may (or may not) sift through the reasons witchcraft or prostitution may try elaborate in order to lay claim to the title, suddenly it becomes clear how these two actually make a mockery of what is the truest and oldest profession, which is shepherding, also called “pastoring.”

The pastor, or shepherd, is the first profession mentioned in scripture. When Adam was created, God said man was to “rule over the fish of the sea and over birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen 1:26). This nebulous task is seen as manageable when we find God bringing all the beasts of the field and every bird of the sky to man in order for man, who was created in God’s image, to be creative with language as God created with language (Gen 2:19).

Adam’s children are named alternatively in Genesis 4, but Abel is first to be named with a profession, namely, as “a keeper of flocks” (Gen 4:2). E.M. Blaiklock elaborates: "Abel . . . was the first shepherd, that ancient stock of the nomad hinterlands which was to produce some of the best men of the Bible, and who age-old calling was to provide imagery in Scripture from the days of Moses’ training to Psa. 23, and the Lord Himself (John 10). Like some humble shepherd of the wilderness, Abel slips into the story, makes his offering, and meets his fate."[1]

Though other tasks begin to be called out as men begin to multiply over the face of the earth, such as Cain the ground-tiller (4:3) and Enoch the city-builder (4:17), Jabal is called “the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock” (4:20). One does not need to read much further to find Noah, the great herdsman, bringing animals by sevens and twos (Gen 7:2-3). Indeed, shepherding, per se was a respectable, notable profession.[2]

Blaiklock correctly stated that shepherding is prominent of the men of scripture. Shepherding is mentioned of the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was to shepherding brothers Joseph came a-dreaming (Gen 37:2) and it was with a goat that Judah both deceived his father (Gen 37:31-32) and was found out (Gen 38:17-25). The priest of Midian had Moses-attracting flock-tending daughters (Ex. 2:16-17), and it was while he was watching sheep that Moses was confronted by God (Ex. 3:1). Though shepherds do not cease their parade here with Moses, there is a noticeable shift in how scripture includes them.

Shepherds are called an abomination to Egyptians (Gen 46:34; Jer 43:12), and the Rock of Israel (Gen 49:24). The Lord is my Shepherd (Ps. 23; Jer 50:44) who cares and feeds with gentleness (Isa 40:11) and leads Joseph like a flock (Ps. 80:1; Isa 63:11) and keeps them (Jer. 31:10) . Shepherds words are called wise (Ecc 12:11) and some make wise use of their tools (1 Sa 17:40). David and Cyrus are called “shepherds” (Isa 44:28; Ezek 34:23-24).

A shepherd feeds (Ps 23:1) and protects his sheep (Ezek 34:8; Am 3:12). Jesus shows how the shepherd is the door for His sheep (Jn 10:2), is good and knows his flock and leads his sheep (10:12, 14, 16). The Chief Shepherd lays down his life for sheep and shepherd (Matt 26:31; Mark 14:27).

The fish gatherer writes how the chief flock gatherer is the overseer of the soul (1 Pe 2:25) and is going to return (1 Pe 5:4) to give reward and rule (Rev. 19:15).

A shepherd is needed. The people of God have been without a shepherd (Nu 27:17) and have been scattered on the hills (1 Ki 22:17; 2 Ch 18:16). Someone needs to gather them in. When sheep are un-flocked, they are food to the world (Ez 34:5). Someone needs to go get them. The flock is in danger because shepherds are looking out for themselves (Ezek 34:8) and are considered worthless (Zech 13:7). The sheep are tired and scattered (Matt 9:36) because the shepherd is fearful and faithless (John 10:12).

Is it any wonder that the world has made a mockery out of the oldest profession? When the flock is led astray by false shepherds, they are led to death and destruction. Fear is their shepherd and God is not. Men feel like they must win the power struggle so they manipulate the powers. Men must feel good about themselves so they prostitute themselves.

Flocks aren’t being protected by the man at the door—seeker sensitivity is de-sensitizing and wolves are getting in. Flocks aren’t safely grazing and watered but are given the Atkins Gospel—a quick shake of the can, a power bar and “there you go, see you next week.” Wanderers aren’t being sought after and cared for—just slap a band-aid on the wound and open it up frequently to remember it is there—who needs healthy sheep?

Shepherding—the hardest profession.

[1] Blaiklock, E.M. Handbook of Bible People. Scripture Union: London, 1979.
[2] Packer, Tenny and White. The Bible Almanac. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

blog-block

"I tried.
Can't do it.
Brain's empty."

from:
Creech, Sharon. Love that Dog. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.

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