Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Farewell to Floyd

+ Floyd E. Griffis+
b. March 22, 1923
d. September 18, 2008

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, who sends His Holy Spirit to comfort you even now with these words recorded by St. Paul:

TEXT: But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. . . .
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ,. . . and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Phil 1:12-14, 19-26, 28-30

Dear Ardys, Ardy, Judy, family & friends,

You have seen and experienced your share of suffering the past few weeks, months and years have been a long haul for you. And there have been many times you have wondered why. There were many times that Floyd wondered the same thing – why wouldn’t God just take him and get it over with. And yet, he hung on – showing just how valuable life is and how man is not meant to die.

Your dear husband and father’s struggle was certainly no fun for him and deeply disturbing to you – perhaps beyond understanding how a loving God could allow such a thing to happen.

Well, Paul tells us in the Scripture lesson you just heard. He gives us the answer to such questions if we are willing to hear and except it. “The things which happened to [Floyd] have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, . . . [they] will turn out for . . . deliverance.” That is through all of what Floyd went through, God was working good that some who would hear the Word of Christ for the forgiveness of sins in the midst of Floyd’s sufferings would believe and be saved.

For there are some, including Floyd himself, that just wouldn’t hear the Word if it weren’t for being laid flat. There are always just so many wonderful things to do out there, too many opportunities that might be missed, too many fish to catch, to take time out of our weekends and vacations to hear the Word. But it is only through the Word that anybody is saved and given eternal life with God in heaven.

So sometimes, God must take drastic measures for our sake -- not because He is angry with us or doesn’t care, but because He does and because He loves us too much to let us go without a fight.

I can’t tell you exactly why God allowed so much suffering in Floyd’s life for so long. I don’t know if it was for his sake, for yours, or for someone unknown to us that heard the Word of Christ while Floyd was in hospital or at Aspen Care Center. But what I do know is that God sent the Word of Christ to Floyd in those times so he would know that God loved Him and sent His Son to suffer, die, and rise in victory over death that he and everyone who believes will live forever.

For a long time your dear Floyd, like Paul, was hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh [was] more needful for you, . . . Or maybe for Floyd himself, or for someone else we don't even know.

But this we know, while everyone runs away from God and has better things to do until God breaks into his life and sets him straight, God is always seeking out the lost that all might be saved. So, whether by life or by death. Remember that no matter how we might suffer, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

In the midst of Floyd’s suffering and death, the love of Christ was made known to him and many others. And in Christ’s suffering and death was Floyd’s gain and yours, the forgiveness of all your sins and the gift of eternal life – in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Looking for God in All the Right Places

TEXT: Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts". Isaiah 55:6-9

Hide and seek may be the greatest game of all times. It can be played by almost everybody – all ages, regardless of most disabilities can play the game in one form or another. You can have the people hide from each other or hide an object that everyone looks for or even play it while stationary by looking for something hidden in plain view like you might do when riding in a car in the game "I Spy with My Little Eye." The hiding of something in plain view the finding of something right under your own nose is fun and challenging. And the game has been around forever – something that generation upon generation have in common and to which they can relate.

And Hide and Seek also brings up the obvious revelation contained within that rather silly question: Why is it that whenever you are searching for something it always turns up in the last place you look?

So one question that is placed before us by the Lord’s prophet in this morning’s text is this: Why is it that having found God and the hope, peace, joy and life that comes only from Him revealed to us in His Word and that Word made flesh, we keep on looking elsewhere? I cannot think of any other time or instance, whether it be a lively game of hide and seek or in the mundane task of looking for misplaced car keys that anyone is foolish enough to keep on looking after they have found the object of their search.

And yet so much of religion, even Christianity itself, is bent on trying to find and attain what has already been revealed and freely given to us by God through His church – the forgiveness of sins, life, salvation, the kingdom of heaven. All these are yours right where God has hidden them in plain view for you in water and the Word and bread and wine.

So dear people of God, Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. The heavenly game of hide and seek is over. "Ollie, Ollie, oxen free!" When our Lord Jesus Christ cried out on the cross, "It is finished!" salvation was complete. And when the waters of baptism poured over your heads you were found by God and He by you.

And Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Because as the Lord exhorts us:
"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.' All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations – a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick; who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat; who say, 'Keep away; don't come near me, for I am too sacred for you!' Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day." (Isa 65:1-5, NIV)

The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God inside of ourselves: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (Matt 15:19, NIV)

The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God for God in nature: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator__ who is forever praised. Amen." (Rom 1:16-25, NIV)

The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God in our own special thinking: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." (1 Cor 1:17-19, NIV)

The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God or come to Him by our own deeds: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins." (Isa 64:6-7, NIV)

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith__ and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph 2:8-9, NIV)

The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God as if He is not already here and heaven is something reserved for tomorrow, . . . . or the moment after we die: "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14, NIV)

Yes, dear people of God, seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. . . . "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

Of the thoughts and ways of men, even the men of His chosen nation, the Lord says:
  • O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away ... and say to them, "Away with you!" (Isa 30:19-20, NIV)
  • But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isa 59:2, NIV)

But in the thoughts and ways of God is life and all that is good, now and forever:

  • At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matt 11:25-27, NIV)
  • Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matt 16:16-18, NIV)
  • "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. (Luke 10:22-23, NIV)
  • "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2;16, NIV)

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. And we will join Paul and Peter in the sure and certain confession of the faith:

  • I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." Rom 1:16-17
  • We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Cor 4:10
  • This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Eph 3:6
  • He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Pet 1:20-21
  • Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Eph 3:8-11

Dearly beloved of God, we can stop looking for God in all the wrong places. For when we find Him in His Son, as we have found Him here today, we find all those other things too — in all their truth and beauty.

In Christ we find true Nature – He created it. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3-4

In Christ we find true Wisdom – "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Prov 9:10

In Christ we truly find Ourselves & Deeds – For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10

In Christ we find true Life – In him was life, and that life was the light of men. John 1:4

In Christ we find we truly always have a wonderful and beautiful tomorrow – "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Eternal life, that’s a whole lot of tomorrows.

Now that you have sought and found Him in His Word -- and even more that He has sought and found you -- what will you do? Keep on looking? Or tell others what you have found and where they too may find it?

The hide and seek game for heaven is over. "Ollie, Ollie, oxen free!"

God grant you the faith, the will, and the voice to call out to your little part of the world at home, work, school, or play that all are out and all are free, that all are welcome to seek the Lord where He may be found, and to call on Him while He is near – in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dear People of God,

Holy Cross Day is observant of the day in 335 A.D. that St. Helena, mother of Constantine, dedicated a chapel commemorating the spot on which nine years earlier she was believed to have found the actual cross upon which Jesus died. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built on the mound upon which the cross was raised outside the Jerusalem city wall, after pagan temples (which ironically reserved the spot and memory for the locals) were removed. As with other legends, it is difficult to know where the truth ends and the fables of men begin in regard to St. Helena’s claim and the observation of Holy Cross Day.

But thanks be to Christ Jesus, the Son of the living God, He has His apostle Peter confess the faith to the generations of His redeemed to come: ". . . we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" 2 Pet 1:16-17

And so it is that our faith is not based upon the shrines that we build to lift up the cross, but upon the testimony of the prophets and apostles, and upon that Word of God spoken and poured out upon repentant heads and tongues and hearts. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," as the Holy Spirit tells us through Christ's sent one, Paul [Romans 10:17].

And what is that Word?

Well, for starters, the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is a message for the simple, for the powerless, for the empty, for the poor, for the downcast, for the least of men. And so it is a message not popular among the rugged, independent, freedom loving, happiness seekers of this world.

But to us who are being saved [that Word, the message of the cross] is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." 1 Cor. 1:18-19

In our Gospel lesson today, Jesus' beloved disciple John reveals just how this will be accomplished. He writes, "Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.'"

Now remember here that wisdom and prudence are the calling cards of the Greek culture. This will help you better understand Jesus' remarks that follow in today's Gospel lesson. Philip and Andrew bring the request of the wise and prudent Greeks to Jesus that they wish to see Him. And what does our Lord, the Son of God do? He speaks a message made for the lovers of wisdom who asked it:
But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."

Of course, Jesus is speaking here of the death He would die and how it is only through His death, and our being baptized into that death to follow Him that we can truly see Jesus and live. . . .
". . . for this purpose I came to this hour. 'Father, glorify Your name.'" . . . Jesus answered and said, . . . "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

And only in this way, through the lens of the cross on which He died for us, can we see Jesus -- not in the wisdom of the world. It is likely the Greeks who wished to see Jesus wanted to quiz and test Him according to their philosophical standards - the kind of standards that like to pose questions such as "Could God create a boulder so heavy he could not lift it?" Such questions seem to be stumpers to make believers and their God look like fools.

But when by faith you understand the message of the cross, it truly is the power of God that destroys the wisdom of the wise and brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent. The question is not what could God do, but what would He do -- what has He done -- for us?

The God who could lift anything, took on the form of a man, a servant, and instead let Himself be lifted up.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:5-11

Dear people of God, when you sing Lift High the Cross as you leave the sanctuary today, please remember this - the song is more a prayer to God than a work order for us. For what is impossible for us men is possible for God. Even Christ Himself, rather than lifting the weight of the cross on Calvary, was lifted upon the tree for all to see and draw all peoples to [Himself."]

And by the cross He places upon you in the waters of baptism, He forgives you all your sin and lifts you up for all the world around you to see; that they too may be drawn to Him and lifted up by His cross into the kingdom of heaven -- in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How Do You Spell Relief?


Looking for a little relief from your gas problem?

How does a coupon for $25 worth of fuel sound?

To download and print a copy of a $25 coupon redeemable for any grade of fuel (gasoline or diesel) go to:
http://clickme.50webs.org/ and click on your zip code for a participating station near you.

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Laugh: Monday Night Football Edition

It's been quite some time since my last entry just for laughs. I promised this one to Harley and some fine folks in Minnesota for whom my Packer affinity presents the opportunity for derision.

Well, sorry I'm late with this Harley and Doris et al, but take this:


Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Watchman for the House of the Lord

TEXT: Ezekiel 33:7 So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. (NKJ)

Dear People of God,

Have you had enough of politics, and conventions, and stumping, and positioning, and pandering over the past few weeks? Are you confused over just who to vote for to lead our country as President for the next four, maybe eight years? Are you concerned, even worried that should the wrong candidate triumph that we are doomed as a country and perhaps your own personal life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness will somehow suffer?

Fear not! Let not your hearts be troubled. For you are God’s chosen people. You are his elect, of an election that lasts forever – not just for four or eight years according to the whims and desires of man, but according to the good and perfect will of God and for His just and holy purpose.

What is that will and purpose of God?
For “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim 2:4 And that “He might sanctify and cleanse [His people] with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." Eph 5:26-27

But what does any of that have to do with our Presidential elections?

The God’s honest truth of the matter, as we hear the Apostle Paul in today’s epistle lesson, is that “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. . . . [intended to be] God's minister to you for good.”

And what God means when He says, “for your good,” is not what man means by life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It means that, just as Paul says he will “endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory,”. 2 Tim 2:10 so to all things, whether it be the election of the President of the United States, or the terrorist bombings of Islamic fanatics in the name of their false god, will be used by the one true God for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, and the people He has “purchased and won . . . with His holy precious blood, and His innocent suffering and death.” [SC Explanation to the Third Article of the Creed]

Now lest you think that your pastor is delving into the realm of politics and trying to tell you, or convince you how or for whom to vote, let me tell you right here and now, that is not within my authority to do. And any man or woman who would try to make the case that God is telling you to vote for this person or that, or that one party or another is the party of God – let them be anathema to you! For no political party, let alone any particular man or woman they put forward as candidates, has the salvation of souls and the preservation of Christ’s bride, the Church, as their main purpose or the Word of God as their constituting power.

The Word of God doesn’t tell you how to vote, and so the servant of the Word should not tell you either. But the Word of God does tell you what to expect of your elected officials as His earthly authorities and what your relationship and obligations to them are.

Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. . . . [who bear the sword as an] avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. And you, as a citizen, are to be subject to the governing authorities. . . . not to resist them, . . . Do what is good, . . . pay taxes, . . . fear and honor them. Why? Because they are better, or wiser, or more important than you? No! By no means. But because they are God's minister to you for good.

As God teaches in the Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and mother,” the fear and honor of earthly authorities proceeds and from and is an extension of our fear and love for God through the fear and love of our parents. “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them.” [SC Explanation]

The Commandment does not say that we should only fear and love our parents, and Paul does not tell us to only fear and honor earthly governing authorities, if we agree with them, or if we think they are doing the right thing, or if they are making us happy. No, we are to submit to them, trusting that God will work good even if it appears to us that they mean evil – that is, unless our parents or other authorities would have or force us to do something contrary to the Commandments by our own words or actions. In that case, we have the examples of Daniel, and Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego. But notice that these did not rebel and fight the authorities. They simply submitted first to God’s Word – and then to man’s.

And just as God delivered them from the wrath of the authorities, He delivers us also.

Oh, it is true that we may have to suffer adverse consequences such as financial hardships, fines, imprisonment, and even die for our obedience to God when earthly authorities rule contrary to God’s commands. But “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." 1 Cor 15:19 For “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28 And that nothing can separate us who are the elect of God through Baptism and the Word from Christ Jesus, His Father, or His kingdom.

And this is where our Old Testament text comes in. "So [for this purpose], son of man [that none should be lost and the elect of God be made and kept holy and blameless for Him]: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me."

Please understand, the House of Israel as God speaks of it here is not an earthly nation state. It is the nation of His elect, those he has called out of the world and into His marvelous Light.

Likewise, please understand that the United States is not God’s chosen nation. The Church is. Chosen for the sake of the Rock on whom we are built, Jesus Christ our Lord "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone," ad "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." 1 Pet 2:7-10

In the Old Testament that nation was led by prophets who spoke the Word of God to His people in the gathering of the nation of Israel. And the primary work of His prophet leaders was to warn the wicked to turn from his way. That is, to repent, for the kingdom of heaven as it at hand.

Having delivered His people from slavery and gathered them together as a nation living together by the power and grace of His holy Word, God gave them prophets so that they might live in the remission of sin.

Can you imagine going through all the pain and suffering of surgeries, bone marrow transplants, and/or chemotherapy to put cancer into remission only to go back to doing the very thing that caused your cancer in the first place?

But that is precisely what we are prone to do. Having been delivered from the eternally deadly consequences of our sin, we go right back to live in it. We live for ourselves instead of for others. We trust in our Lord and come to Him only when it is convenient for us or when all of our efforts have failed.

"So [says the Lord our God]: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die!' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”

These are not only God’s commands to the prophet Ezekiel, but to every man that He calls and sends to watch over His people in the cities of His various congregations and the nation of the whole Christian Church on earth.

Such men are not sent by God to be people pleasers, and church administrators according to . . . [the] desires [of] ears itching for fables and fantastic stories to keep them happy and blissfully ignorant of the dangers surrounding them and seeking to wrest them away from the love of God in Christ. 2 Tim 4:3-4

And such men are not sent by God to tell His people how good they are compared to those miserable sinners amongst whom they live and how blessed they should consider themselves that they are not like them.

No, God calls and sends watchmen, that is pastors, to and for His people to warn them against their own wickedness and rebellion. For it is only that which proceeds from us that can truly do us harm and separate us from Christ. No earthly ruler can do that. Not even the devil can do that.

Trust not in princes, but live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God -- because not only evil Imams and pandering politicians, but even the watchmen, the pastors, that God sends are sinners and prone to evil in and of themselves. But Christ Jesus is the faithful watchman, the proper pastor, indeed the Good Shepherd. And any watchman, pastor, or shepherd that He sends in His place to do His work here on earth is bound to do His will according to His Word, lest you die in your iniquity.

And if you want to know how to identify a true watchman of God, and the nation that truly belongs to God, look for where two or three are gathered together in [Jesus] name, [where He is] in the midst of them – forgiving all your sins, and keeping you holy and without blemish -- in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen