Be Very Alert! – By Val Hollard (NZ)
On Watch at the Door. No 178, August 26, 2014
SHEPHERDS OR HIRELINGS?
An article in Christian News reveals how most American pastors are silent on current issues and the same is probably true here in New Zealand. Researcher George Barna has found that 90% of pastors believe that Scripture speaks to every one of the issues of the day, but only 10% say they will speak to them.
When asked about what factors they use to gauge whether or not a church is successful, the vast majority gave attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff and square footage. Barna suggests that pastors don’t like tackling current issues because they are controversial and keep people from attending, giving, etc.
Chuck Baldwin commented on the study in an article entitled, Odds are that Your Pastor is Keeping the Truth from You Instead of Preaching it. He says that America’s malaise is directly due to the deliberate disobedience of America’s pastors and the willingness of the Christians in the pews to tolerate the disobedience of their pastor. He wrote, “When Paul wrote his own epitaph, it read, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.’ (2 Timothy 4:7) He didn’t say, ‘I had a large congregation, we had big offerings, we had a lot of programs, I had a large staff, and we had large facilities.’”
He concludes by saying, “It is time for Christians to acknowledge that these ministers are not pastors; they are CEOs. They are not Bible teachers; they are performers. They are not shepherds; they are hirelings. It is also time for Christians to be honest with themselves: do they want a pastor who desires to be faithful to the Scriptures, or do they want a pastor who is simply trying to be ‘successful?’”
As we are rapidly approaching a time that the Bible speaks more about than any other, including the first coming of Jesus, there are many markers of a good shepherd. The Jews didn’t recognise the time of Jesus’ first coming, and many Christians will miss what is happening now because they have hirelings over them.
It is time to sound the alarm and blow the trumpet and to call the church to prepare for all that lies ahead, culminating in the eventual return of Jesus. Church leaders should hear the call first and convey it to their flocks. That is the work of a faithful shepherd. Leaders who study Bible prophecy and teach their congregations about it are often mocked. Hirelings find prophecy too controversial and stay silent.
Some of the differences between shepherds and hirelings in end-time churches:
- Shepherds proclaim the prophetic purposes of God for the nation of Israel and how God is presently organising events in the Middle East to draw His nation back to Himself and get them to rely solely on Him and not on their military capability. Hirelings tell people to forget about prophecy and concentrate on their mission and/or declare that the church has replaced Israel.
- Shepherds proclaim how God will judge the nations that come up against Israel, and will bless those who bless Israel. (Gen 12:2-3) Hirelings will believe the lies of Islam, Satan’s antichrist religion, and bless the Palestinians instead.
- Shepherds will prepare their flock, especially spiritually, for a coming economic collapse and other disasters. All the signs indicate that these cannot be too far away. (James 5:1-3) The economy of Europe is in an extremely bad state with an unemployment rate of 12%, or roughly 19 million people – and it’s getting worse. The US debt is so gigantic it would take very little to tip its economy over the edge.
- Shepherds will point out the need to shift one’s focus away from things of this earth to the blessed hope that awaits us. Some Christians do not even want Jesus to return soon as they are enjoying life here so much and have so many goals they would like to achieve first. Many young people are focused on marriage, careers, etc. But we are strangers in this world, just passing through. (Phil 3:18-21) Hirelings will focus on the things of this world, even though it doesn’t take much to see how fast everything is deteriorating.
- Having made sure that their sheep know whether they are in the faith or not, good shepherds help them build up their faith, focusing on God, His Word and bringing Him glory, so that they will be able to face any persecution that comes their way. (2 Tim 3:12) Hirelings preach a gushy gospel and tell people to simply “accept Jesus into your heart.” Sin and hell are not mentioned.
- Shepherds encourage people to persevere in the faith, no matter how difficult things get. Hirelings give sermons that are no different from motivational psychology, focussed on themselves and material things.
- Shepherds sound the alarm about the many kinds of apostasy in the church and point out those who are leading the sheep astray. Hirelings say “Do not judge,” and let the sheep be devoured by the wolves.
- Shepherds believe and preach the whole counsel of God and encourage people to spend time in prayer and Bible study and submit themselves fully in every way to God’s will. Hirelings take texts out of context and twist them to fit their ideas.
Many hirelings have got their churches into an unbelievable mess, leading many astray. Sadly, some teachers who were once faithful to Scripture are now turning away to the lies of the devil. (Matt 24:10-11)
We are hurtling into the last days at an increasingly rapid pace and the call to God’s people needs to be loud and clear. We will need a lot of courage in the last days, especially when persecution comes and tyranny increases. Most Christians have no idea what is coming and how soon.
Is your pastor, or you as a pastor, a shepherd or a hireling?
GOD OF WONDERS
“Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours… For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” (Psalm 86:8, 10)
As in previous wars, Israel has seen great wonders during the recent hostilities, but still their hearts are not inclined towards God. You may have already heard about the great gust of wind which sent a rocket heading for Tel Aviv out into the sea. Here are a few more:
The Givati Brigade commander reported that a predawn raid was delayed, forcing his soldiers to move in the light of the rising sun. But suddenly a heavy fog descended from out of nowhere and concealed their movements until their objective was achieved.
A woman who was about to blow herself up approached an Israeli platoon as it was coming out of Gaza. The soldiers realized what was happening and screamed out “Shema Yisrael.” The woman stopped and handed herself over. She was a Jewess married to an Arab who had brought her to Gaza against her will. The soldiers disarmed the bomb and took her and her children to safety in Israel.
One soldier reports how he was saved by a note in a package of chocolate cookies. The soldier got the package out at a time when there was little food available and found a note in it which said, “I know that you are protecting me, and this is a small token of my appreciation to you. I am still young, but I have one request, that you say a blessing over the food.” The secular soldier didn’t know what to do so he crawled towards his religious friend and consulted him. When he had done the blessing there was a huge explosion and a rocket landed exactly where he had been sitting moments before.
God has blessed Israel during these recent hostilities, but Israel will experience much greater casualties in the future, reaching a point when only the intervention of God will save the nation. Already suppliers of arms are showing reluctance to support Israel. The UK has said that if Israel fires again into Gaza as she has been, 12 licenses which export British weapons to Israel will be suspended. Neither will Israel be able to acquire British tank, aircraft or radar parts. The US also halted a much-needed shipment of Hellfire aerial anti-armor missiles to Israel. Obama “strongly disapproved” of how Israel defended itself against the rain of rockets from Hamas, even while ceasefires were supposed to be in place. Nevertheless, Obama has no problem in sending Gaza $47 million in financial aid that is certain to end up in the hands of Hamas to buy more rockets and build more tunnels. America cannot expect God to bless her for this.
“On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves… On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.” (Zech 12:3, 9)
EBOLA: (Rev 6:8)
As the death toll from Ebola rises to over 1350, and several thousand more with symptoms, people are asking questions. One is, why are so many health workers affected? A second leading Sierra Leone doctor has died at a centre operated by Doctors Without Borders. There is a severe shortage of well-trained doctors and the long incubation period is a huge problem. Hundreds have been quarantined.
People have been told that it “is not airborne” and that getting infected “requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person,” but it seems to spread easily. The World Health Organization has said that Kenya is at high risk of the spread of the deadly virus because it is a major transport hub. Kenya has now decided to ban travellers from three West African countries affected by Ebola.
Because of the severity of the situation, the WHO is now saying that it is permissible to use untested drugs on patients.
The 2014 Global Peace Index reveals that of the 162 countries looked at, only 11 are free from conflict. The top three most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark and Austria. Small and stable democracies make up the top ten most peaceful countries. New Zealand, Canada and Japan are the only non-European countries in the top ten. The world as a whole has been getting incrementally less peaceful every year since 2007 – sharply bucking a trend that had seen a global move away from conflict since the end of the Second World War.
The main reason for the move away from peace last year was due to an increase in terrorist activity. The economic impact of containing and dealing with the consequences of global violence last year was estimated to be US$9.8 trillion.
SINK HOLES AND SINKING LAND:
Sink holes continue to appear around the world and a surprising number occur in roadways. In Seoul, South Korea, construction is well underway of what will be the sixth tallest building in the world, Lotte Hotels. Construction has hit a snag with news of sink holes appearing around the tower as well as a nearby lake mysteriously shrinking. Opinions differ on whether or not it is the construction work that has caused the problems.
Because of the ongoing drought in California, the demand for groundwater has grown so high that the ground is sinking and in some places at an alarming rate. In one place it is sinking almost a foot annually. Canals and dams that deliver water to irrigate the fields of hundreds of growers are also losing capacity as parts of them sink. The subsidence has also increased the risk of flooding when it does rain.
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