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Rod-less, Staff-less Shepherds; Waterless Rain Clouds

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The church today is filled with hirelings. Staff-less and rod-less shepherds who will not defend their flocks against the slaughtering wolves. Instead they defend each other at all costs. Mark Driscoll once stole $250,000 in tithe monies to promote one of his books and he lost his church because of it. But after a "long" nine month break he had a new church! How? Because people like Brian Houston and Robert Morris made sure he was welcomed back into the sheepfold to continue feasting on the sheep of the Lord. I have often had these hirelings and their supporters ask me who we were to declare what is true and what is false. It is a shame they do not actually read their bibles:

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. -- Titus 1: 9 (ESV)

Hear me very clearly you who would take on the mantle of shepherd in the kingdom. You must carry both a staff and rod. If you do not rebuke what is false then you allow the wolves into the sheep pen. If you carry the staff correctly and represent the Gospel you are only fulfilling half of your calling. Jesus said about false teaching that it is like a little leaven that eventually leavens the entire lump. It is parasitic and spreads like a cancer throughout the bride of Christ. A rod-less shepherd does not care about the spiritual safety of his flock. A rod-less shepherd is more concerned about not offending a hireling than they are with the sheep being devoured. In his book the Purpose Driven Church, Warren teaches pastors about "blessed subtraction."

"Be willing to let people leave the church. And I told you earlier the fact that people are gonna leave the church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you're choosing who leaves. You say, "But Rick, yes, they're the pillars of the church." Now, you know what pillars are. Pillars are people who hold things up " And in your church, you may have to have some blessed subtractions before you have any real additions" -- The Purpose Driven Church

Beloved, when you abandon the pastor's proper role as shepherd this is where you end up. Can you imagine any shepherd just throwing their hands up in the air and saying, "oh well, sheep are going to leave no matter what." Of course they will if you do not use your staff to guide them and your rod to protect them! They are sheep! This blessed subtraction mindset is contributing greatly to the destruction of the design God has for His church. Subtracted sheep litter the purpose driven landscape and no shepherds seem to care. They wander around alone, church hurt, and waiting for the wolves to come calling. In closing today, The Book of Jude speaks in great detail about false teachers:

These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. -- Jude 1: 12-13 (ESV)

I love the imagery here. False teachers are hidden reefs at your love feasts! For centuries, Bermuda was referred to as the Isle of Devils in part because all approaching ships sank. In the time before sonar what seafarers could not see was the fact that Bermuda is largely surrounded by a coral reef. The ship would approach the island but could not see the reef. They would strike it and sink. This could have been written yesterday it sounds so relevant to the current plight of many churches. It is one big "love" fest with no attention paid to the direction the church is heading in. Everyone holding hands and signing Kumbaya but there is a hidden reef just up ahead and the shepherd carries no staff to guide you and no rod to protect you.

Sorry if this seems like mixing metaphors but that is what Jude does here. He parses no difference between the false teacher and the staff-less, rod-less shepherds. The purpose driven church today feasts without fear. Large showy spectacles and pastors feeding themselves. Feeding themselves while they starve the sheep entrusted to them. A new best seller to promise them millions of more dollars but if you step out of line it is blessed subtraction for you. Note that Jude says they are fruitless tress in late autumn. What does that mean? Not only are they not bearing any fruit but the time has passed that they can. They bring with them the death of winter. Jesus once cursed a fig tree for not having any figs but the reason was that they tree had leaves. Leaves indicate the presence of fruit but this tree bore none. Today we see the majority of churches have plenty of leaves. They say the name of Jesus, look pious at the right times, but in the end they are led by men who claim to be pastors but carry no staff and no rod. They are fruitless trees beloved.

Likewise they are waterless rainclouds according to Jude. Matthew Poole's Commentary defines this as "empty, making a show of what they have not." Rain brings refreshing. It spurs growth. It is an absolute necessity for life. A staff-less, rod-less shepherd is also a waterless rain cloud. It appears as if it is going to convey the refreshment of the Good News. It appears as if it is going to spur growth and bring life. But it is all pretense. It is all a show. Just as there are no figs beneath the leaves there is no rain forthcoming. It will pass over and leave the land more barren than ever. Make no mistake beloved. God has a design for His people. The shepherd's rod and staff bring comfort to the sheep. Assurance that they are being led and protected. Without them a pastor is merely a waterless rain cloud hovering over the flock bringing no refreshing, no growth and no life. They may be driven by purpose but they lead only to destruction.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- March 18, 2017

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