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Archive for February 6th, 2009

Feed My Sheep

 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”  He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”  He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

   He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”  He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”  He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

   He said to him the tird time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”  Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”  And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”        John 21:15-17 (NKJV)

   The instruction seems clear.  Jesus was commanding Peter, who loved the Lord with all his heart, to focus on feeding and caring for His young believers (lambs), older believers (sheep), and to look out for their welfare and protection (tend).   The primary means for feeding and tending the lambs and sheep was to be through the Word of God.

  That instruction has not changed for our shepherds today.  The pastors are to feed and tend believers (His lambs, His sheep)  through the Word of God. 

   Unfortunately, the trend has changed, and pastors have picked up too many leadership how-to books, and attended too many “how to be a large, relevant church” conference or seminar.  Many of these shepherds truly love the Lord, just like Peter….but, have lost the understanding of who their congregation is supposed to be comprised of (believers not unbelievers) and what they are supposed to do with their congregation (feed and tend via the Word of God).

   The push to be relevant and to create certain atmospheres that would appeal to the unregenerate have truly compromised, watered-down, and dumbed-down the “food” for the believers in these congregations. 

    The Word of God is not the primary food anymore to bring the sheep into maturity and to protect them from the world’s influence.  Instead, congregations of believers and unbelievers sit through life-enhancement gospel messages.  “Ask Jesus into your heart and He will make your life better.”  I’ve heard that over and over.  Tell that to someone who has to meet in secret with other believers in a communist or muslim country.  

   The history of the Nazarene church was that it would be a believer’s church and that the believer’s would be discipled and exhorted through His Word to go out and witness to others and the marginalized in society.  They were to do good works but also share the gospel.    Today the trend in Nazarene churches is to be “missional” which means to do good works, live among the people, but not necessarily share the gospel or written Word of God.  Some may argue with me about “missional”….but, primarily it means living among the people, witnessing by action, not by words, do good works, and getting people to think well of you.

   What is the gospel?  We are sinners in need of a Savior.  We have transgressed His laws and will have no fellowship with Him in eternity, but deserve hell.  However, God sent His Son to be born, live, suffer and die on the cross, shed His innocent blood on our behalf, and have victory over death and the grave so that we could have our fine paid and put our faith and trust in Him when we repented of our sins.     When was the last time you heard all of that in a Nazarene church?  (Note:  I realize there are some Nazarene churches that haven’t bought into the whole seeker or emergent ideologies, but they are few and far between.) 

  When we left the Nazarene church which we had been a part of for 24 years, we had left empty and starving to be fed.  In fact, I remember going to Sunday School class on our last Sunday at that church, and the class leader spent the whole time making light of, and jokes about, potentially changing the class name.   We never had a lesson….but it didn’t matter I suppose, because we were taught primarily from books written from authors, rarely did we go through a book of the Bible.  Learning from books written by authors seemed to be how 50 percent of the Sunday School classes were taught.  (Correction:  they are no longer called Sunday School classes, but Journey Groups, more on that at a later date.) 

   God guided us to a Baptist church near our home.  We were astonished how much we learned week after week.  The Bible was opened and taught in Sunday School class, taught from the pulpit, and was the primary focus in ALL the ministries from the very youngest (lambs) to the oldest (sheep).    It is a church that disciples the believer’s and exhorts them to witness to others.  It is an equipping church and provides teaching on ‘how to witness’.  It is a church that teaches with conviction and is not afraid to address issues of sin.  It is a church that reaches out to the marginalized and buses young people to church every Sunday morning to hear the Word of God taught in Sunday School class.  It is a church that offers several Vacation Bible School’s in various neighborhoods, and school parking lots, not just in their nice building.  It is a church that allows missionaries to speak frequently to the congregation about their work.  It is a church that not only feeds the believers, but, equips them to do good works and share the gospel.   My family is growing in the Lord now.  I have seen good changes taken place with my youngest children and my spouse.  It’s the Word of God and the conviction that it places on our heart that is helping us grow in holiness. 

   I pray for the Nazarene denomination on a daily basis.  I pray for the leadership to open its eyes and to stand and do what is right.   I pray for the university presidents to clean house of all the liberal teachers and speakers they have allowed to prey on the lambs.

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