We all have seen at one time or another, televised footage of people from Third World countries, dying of starvation. It is heartbreaking to see older children resembling stick-figures, with flies crawling over their drawn faces, having to be carried like babies, because they don’t have enough strength to walk.

Lately, I have pictured the Body of Christ in a similar condition. Having been a pastor of my own church for a time, and assisted in others, I feel I have an insight to the problem. I have noticed a gradual watering down of the Word of God, and our people are perishing from lack of knowledge. In BC 785, Hosea wrote about how God saw that was also happening then and He blamed the Priests for it, and promised strong punishment for their sin (Hosea 4:6)!

The preachers of old, like Billy Sunday, preached the “Hellfire and Brimstone” message. People ran to the altar, if no other reason than to escape Hell! Ministers seldom preach it today, yet I’ve been told that Hell is mentioned more often in the Bible than Heaven. I recently heard a Brother on a Christian talk show telling of the book he wrote called “23 Minutes in Hell”. He told of the total hopelessness and darkness that engulfed him, yet flames tormented him. He said he could hear the screams of others, but could not see them. It was so real that he had no clue he was having a vision, until his wife heard him screaming, jumped out of bed, and went looking for him at 3:23 in the morning. It took him a long time to get over the terror of the experience. Hell is a REAL place.

One of the last legends of the pure Gospel message, Billy Graham, is now quite elderly and there is not a person in America, nor the rest of the world, that doesn’t know what a godly example he has been to multitudes. Dr. Graham has preached the old fashioned message of salvation by grace through Jesus Christ his entire life, and has been a living example of that message. Contrary to some of today’s clergy, there has not been even a hint of scandal around that dear servant of God.

It seems to me that our “last days” pastors are serving up an extremely watered down gospel, for the sake of numbers and/or political correctness. Professional shepherds feel the pressure from headquarters, to keep the attendance up since it not only looks good to see a lot of cars in the parking lot, but begets greater offerings, of which headquarters gets a percentage. Jesus gave no heed to either. He rather kept the established religion in an uproar by speaking the truth.

Giving to the Lord out of love and obedience has turned into a “giving to get” message, which is often supplemented with chicken dinners, car washes, and flea market sales. Coffee and donuts are usually served in the lobby between the Sunday School and Church services, and NOT because the people have come to church fasting! We didn’t use those gimmicks in the early days. The pastors just taught tithing and Paul’s gospel of sowing and reaping (Malachi 3:10; 2 Cor. 9:6, 7)!

I have noticed that most of today’s pastors are college graduates, with other degrees, such as in psychology and counseling. The ministry has become, in some cases, a career rather that a “Calling” and appropriate salaries are expected. Some pastors live much “higher on the hog” than their congregation and are so busy with their extra activities that they spend very little quiet time with the Lord. A number of our ministers seldom have a routine prayer and study time. There are not that many who get up before dawn to seek Jesus before the day begins, like the old timers used to do!

Some ministers have side jobs working with the public and gain extra income by performing weddings and funerals. If a pastor makes some extra money on the side, that is okay with me, because some serve in small churches, and have families to raise. However, it puts a greater burden on him, as it takes him away from his congregational duties. In these cases, it is such a blessing if there are elders and prayer partners available in emergency situations.

Obviously, I also know pastors who are doing their job as God would have them to do it. The shepherds must lead their sheep by example, and I have had the privilege of knowing several who do!

Even though I retired three years ago due to health reasons, I attend church as often as possible. My pastor is quite younger than I am, but he preaches the old fashioned Gospel of how to live our personal lives as unto the Lord. We hear a lot of prophecy theories across the pulpit these days, but few teach on living Christ-like in our everyday lives. I love to learn about the future just like everyone else, and even teach from the books of the Prophets, but I NEED to be reminded how to live as a Christian on a day to day basis! I miss seeing the old WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets the teens used to wear, back in the days when we sought to pattern our lives after Christ’s example as best we could.

We have some hirelings today, rather than true shepherds, and I have met a few. God gave me a vision, before I became a minister, as I was sitting in church one Sunday morning. I saw sheep lined down the aisle for prayer, and the pastor was standing in front of the altar laying hands on them. They walked on their hind legs like men, and were in different abused conditions. Some were walking on crutches, others had black eyes, casts on their legs, arms in slings, or bandages around their heads. Several were almost naked and bleeding from being fleeced too close to the skin. Their afflictions had been caused by hirelings posing as shepherds! Hirelings don’t give to the sheep, but rather abuse and even take from them. The true shepherds give their lives for the sheep (John 10:13-15). That particular minister who was praying for the sheep that day was a true shepherd, and has since gone to his reward!

Jesus said that He was the Door, (John 10:7) and the people of His day understood what He meant and all it entailed. When the shepherd had to abide in the fields overnight, certain precautions had to be taken. After grazing all day, the sheep were moved to different pastures, as the grass was consumed. In late afternoon, the shepherd had to prepare for the sheep to be bedded down for the night. He would drive them against a hillside, and begin cutting down thorny brush to fashion an enclosure. He made the three sides and then a roof over all, lest any beast would jump down from the top of the hill, to devour the sheep. Lastly, he laid himself down in the opening, for the night. The shepherd was the door, and anything that wanted to harm the sheep had to go through HIM!

The shepherd would lay down his life for his sheep…but a hireling would run away rather than fight to protect them, because they were not his! He had nothing invested in them…tending sheep was just a job to him. He did not know their names nor did they know his voice.

My upset is with the hireling mentality, and their lack of dedication to the sheep (John 10:3-4).

Pastors are called to preach the complete Word of God. Salvation is the first step, as it is the new birth of the individual soul. We must feed these newborns the sincere milk of the Word, and carefully aid them in their continued growth and development. We are building an army of God, and there is basic training, and a lifetime of follow-up work to be done. We must teach people how to love God and each other! The Bible says to love God with all our hearts, and our neighbors as ourselves, (Matt. 22:37-39).

The Leadership must lead by example, lest there be a disrespect of pastors, musicians, elders, and teachers. There seems to be a revolving door on our churches today. Members and even pastors come and go, as there is so much division. There seems a lack of discipline in the church which extends into the family, resulting in lack of respect for God, the clergy, and one another. Apparently in this day and age, ministers have to teach the parents to teach their children how to behave in God’s house! Because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matt. 24:12), not only for each other, but for almighty God. I have noticed that the reverential fear of God has almost disappeared in this Age of Grace. Grace is a precious gift that our Jesus died to give us, and should never be used as an excuse for disrespect! We have quit teaching holiness, confusing Grace with an ‘anything goes’ attitude toward Christianity.

I mention gossip from time to time in my writings because it comes up every once in awhile, and is a particular pet peeve of mine! Gossip is a very subtle sin that can do great damage in: families, school, the workplace, and especially in the church. We think it is a small sin compared to the things mankind does to each other and certainly what we do to God, but we cannot underestimate the evil of gossip. The Bible tells us it is the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Sol. 2:15); the words of a talebearer wound deeply (Prov. 18:6-8); and life and death is in power of tongue (Prov. 18:21). James 3 talks a lot about the tongue as well as many other Scriptures.

Psalms 1:1 speaks about sitting in the seat of the scornful. When I was in Bible school, the teacher told us of his own experience, as he taught that passage of Scripture. Several years earlier, he’d had a dream that he was sitting on a park bench one lovely afternoon. By and by, a young lady sat down on another bench opposite him. He noticed that she was a pleasant looking woman, well groomed, and of a gentle countenance. It wasn’t long until another woman came by and sat down beside him. In a few minutes, she began whispering into his ear. He didn’t know exactly what she said, but only saw the results. As she continued whispering, the nice looking lady on the opposite bench started changing right before his eyes! Her face became distorted, her body was gnarled, her hair turned into a rat’s nest, as she changed into an evil looking old crone, before the whisperer got up and walked away! This is how gossip works. You meet someone and think they are a nice person, until you hear gossip about them and they become undesirable in your eyes. You have sat in the seat of the scornful! I told a pastor I was working with at the time, “This church is either going to gossip or grow, but we can’t do both”. He heartily agreed and went right back to his conversation, which was gossiping! Sometimes a sin becomes such a way of life, we no longer see it as sin. (That church never did grow)!

More churches are closing rather than growing, these days. Mostly, the sheep just wander around from sheepfold to sheepfold, trying to find a decent meal! Shepherds are just swapping sheep! The ministers have stopped teaching the basic fundamentals of living the Christian life!

If we don’t get back to the milk of the Word, there is no hope of graduating to a diet filled with meat. The Apostle Paul faced a similar dilemma (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Our carnal state prevents spiritual growth, and so many of our leaders are as immature as their congregation! Paul said that “even though there may be ten thousand instructors in Christ, there are not many fathers”, (1 Cor. 4:15). In his day, the leaders did not sit in offices, but were usually in and out of prison, as the apostles were under constant persecution. I have to laugh a bit at a joke I heard. “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you”? Sobering!

Please PRAY for our ministers…we all will benefit…Amen!

God Bless You All,

Pastor Moser

May, 2010

L. O. L.

(Instead of posting the usual WOW (word of wisdom), I felt in need of a LOL (laugh out loud). Since I have been stepping on the Leadership’s toes in this article, it is only fitting that I end with a positive note in the form of a joke)!

A Catholic, a Baptist, and a Pentecostal died at the same time. When they got to Heaven there was no room at the moment. St. Peter asked them if they would mind spending the night in Hell till preparations could be made. It wasn’t very long before the devil called St. Peter and said, “You gotta get these guys outta here”! St. Peter said “Why? What’s wrong?” The devil replied, “The Catholic is forgiving everybody, The Baptist is saving everybody, and the Pentecostal has raised enough money to air-condition the place”!