How Flocks Are Protected

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Introduction

Scripture teaches that the flocks of God are precious, and they are precious because of what it took to purchase them.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:28-29).

The duties of a pastor, and the board of elders with him, is to do two things for the flock of God. The first is to provide for them, and the second is to protect them. The charge is straightforward—take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock, to feed the church of God. And the context of this charge to feed is the knowledge that Paul has that enormous wolves will shortly be coming after them.

More Than Provision

Too many evangelical pastors today believe that their responsibility ends with the simple provision of spiritual food. People come to church if they want, hear what they want, and take away what they want. But to neglect the duty of protection means that at some point you will be unable to protect the food supply. And once the duty of protection is neglected, it is not long before the provision of food gets thinner and thinner. Shepherds who refuse to protect are also shepherds who do not have much to say.

Shepherds need, in Paul’s terms, to “take heed.” They need to take head to themselves, and they need to take heed to the flock. A man who is not taking heed to himself cannot watch out for the flock. And if a man is not watching out for the flock, then he is clearly not taking heed to himself—he is guilty of a gross dereliction of duty. Once they have accepted the responsibility to guard the flock, they need to put their minds to it. This is part of what taking heed means.

First Level of Protection

And there are three major areas where shepherds need to think through what protection means. The first is mentioned in v. 29. Paul says that grievous wolves will come. The word for grievous is barus, meaning weighty or heavy. Large wolves will come, not sparing the flock. If you would protect the flock, you must take care to not spare yourself.

Second Level of Protection

A second part of pastoral ministry is going after the solitary stray. This is what the Lord Jesus was using to illustrate God’s care for us.

“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).

The flock at large can be healthy, well-protected, and well-fed. Nevertheless, individual sheep from a well-cared for flock can wander off. The good shepherd goes after them. He doesn’t risk the 99 in a careless way because they are left in a good place, but he makes a point to pursue the wandering sheep.

Third Level of Protection

The third way a shepherd protects a flock is by keeping the entire flock from getting spooked and scattered. Either the shepherd is gone or killed, or some thunderclap of an overwhelming force scatters the flock despite the shepherd.

“Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace” (2 Chron. 18:16).

So then, a shepherd guards the flock from wolves, he guards individual sheep from wandering, and he guards the flock from groupthink. When the flock is left to decide on a plan for itself, the entire flock wanders, and not just one or two of the sheep.

Men of Courage

One other point needs to be made. In order to perform any of these functions, the shepherd has to be a man of courage. He needs to make sure that he is willing to fight the wolves. If a man loves the wolves, then he hates the sheep. If he loves the sheep, then he hates the wolves. And, more to the point, if he loves the sheep, then by comparison he hates his own life.

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep” (John 10:11–12).

In our present day, the flock of God is beset by all kinds of dangers. Since the time of the New Testament, the wolves have not gotten any smaller. And in fact, the federal government may have reintroduced them into your neighborhood, as they have here in Idaho, just down the road from us. We still have numerous shepherds who feed only themselves.

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Eze. 34:2).

Pastoral counseling, one on one, is how we go after wandering sheep. That is an important part of the life of the church. “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house” (Acts 20:20).

One Application

But how do we guard the flock from flock-think? This is actually an environmental question—the Lord models this for us via green pastures and still waters. Shepherds have a responsibility to guard the flock by means of climate control. In the modern world, this means pastors need to know what is happening in the world, what is going on online, what members are saying in various comment threads, etc. In short, what are the distractions? what are the loud noises? what are rival shepherds saying? and what is the true shepherd is saying (John 10:27)?

“For he is our God; And we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, And as in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Psalm 95:7–8).

This last Monday I outlined my reasons for stating that the goddess of feminism cannot save anyone. This was a follow-up to my post of the previous Thursday, where I treated the subject of Potiphar’s Wife, Survivor. A number of people wanted to know what that was about, and the post about the goddess who does not save sought to answer that question at the larger theo-cultural level. But others have wanted to know if it was a parable about any particular cases I have dealt with—was it a thinly-veiled jab at anybody in particular? And the answer is that no, it was not aimed at anyone who was supposed to be represented by Potiphar’s wife. But it is not illegitimate to zoom and ask for particulars. It was about something I have had to deal with a lot.

The crosshairs in that piece were on unwitting Christian enablers of those who are trying to lead the church into serious error. We live in a generation that wants to establish, as a matter of public dogma, among many other related things, that we live in a rape culture, that women don’t ever lie about such things, that the patriarchal masculinity of our age is suffocating, and that is the duty of all right-thinking individuals to simply turn over the handling of complicated sexual abuse cases to the trained professionals. But trained by whom? By what standard? Christians are being pressured to think that it is our responsibility simply to be nice and non-stop supportive of a particular kind of victim, what I identified on Monday as a priestess-victim. Many Christians have internalized this standard and it shows. Victims who are not priestesses might as well be beat up and lying alongside the Jericho road. The Levite passes on, busy with his work, and so does the priest.

So the red laser dot was quivering on the pressure many Christians feel as they listen to a story they know to be false, and to say “you go, girl” in the comments anyway.

Bring this back to the larger topic of protecting the flock. Whenever any error starts gaining currency in the flock, it is the responsibility of shepherds to address it, somehow, some way. If I have three counseling situations with angry husbands, you can bet that “angry husbands” are going to start showing up in sermons. If I see Christians making adjustments to feminism—as I see all the time now—I am going to treat it the way Samuel treated Agag. This is because it is impossible to embrace feminism and still love Jesus. Yes, I know there will be comments about that sentiment, but it is a blog post for another time. Suffice it to say that you cannot love Jesus and hate what He teaches.

John Owen once said something like “you must be destroying sin, or sin will be destroying you.” This sentiment has to be taken up by shepherds and applied to the whole flock. If you are not at war with that which would destroy your flock, then you are that which is destroying your flock.

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Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago

As with gladness men today
do not cower from the fray,
as they put the wolves to flight,
leading onward in the fight;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
be glad and brave as sheep can be.

lloyd
5 years ago

Nice iambs.

Can a man still say that to a lady or is it now a microaggression?

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago
Reply to  lloyd

Pretty sure they’re trochees. ;^)

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago

Anapest is the best.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

Oh there once was a lady named Jane
Who’d no tolerance for the insane.
She would skewer each twit
With impeccable wit,
And then dance on the graves of the slain.

bethyada
5 years ago

Excellent. Though the last line was not exactly true and may give too much ammunition to ME.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Poetic license throughout!

bethyada
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

So this science leaning troglodyte was utterly bamboozled by this conversation. Not only did I not know the meaning, I was unaware that these words existed. Mind your, my public schooling did not even teach me grammar. That was learnt studying a foreign language. ****** For other ignorants. iams: a metrical foot consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable. trochees: a foot consisting of one long or stressed syllable followed by one short or unstressed syllable. anapest: a metrical foot consisting of two short or unstressed syllables followed by one long or stressed… Read more »

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

If it’s any comfort, I didn’t learn it till a college poetry class I audited after I graduated — a cool perk for alums. I also audited a copyediting class and eventually put that to more use than probably any other practical training I ever received. (But I still can’t type received without autocorrect help.)

Indigo
Indigo
5 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

iams: cat food ;-)

Irrelevant story:
I knew a lady who thought it was sinful for Christians to buy iams cat food for their cats. Because it had ‘I am’ in the name.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago
Reply to  Indigo

Oh, that’s sad…

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  Indigo

I was just today having a conversation with my daughter about Garrison Keillor’s riff on “chocolate angel food cake,” but your story takes the…

oh, never mind.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Indigo

What is that compared to the sin of raising a cat?

Farinata degli Uberti
Farinata degli Uberti
5 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

“anapest” is a common misspelling of “lytcad”

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

“Slow spondee stalks; strong foot,”

lloyd
5 years ago

Maybe so. I was a science major :) I can distinguish between columnar and stratified epithelium, if that ever comes up.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
5 years ago
Reply to  lloyd

I was just wondering about that the other never.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  lloyd

You might check teeth here, see if we have the right kind-somehow i think it might be needed for salvation.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  lloyd

My goodness, I can’t remember the last time *I* got such a nice compliment on my feet!

ME
ME
5 years ago

As usual I am torn between the urge to simply cheer, amen! Who does not like seeing a Papa Bear out protecting his flock? A much needed post, indeed. However, “If a man loves the wolves, then he hates the sheep. If he loves the sheep, then he hates the wolves.” With as much gentleness as I can muster, there is still some hesitation about whether or not Pastor Wilson is able to discern the difference between a wolf and a sheep. Perhaps he is! Perhaps those fears are totally misplaced. It is incredibly difficult to judge such things over… Read more »

Dave
Dave
5 years ago
Reply to  ME

ME, in Idaho we shoot the real wolves. No worries here because the human ones are called to repentance and a return to the foot of the cross.

ME
ME
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Somewhat amusing Dave, but when it comes to actual wolves you do not. You actually just migrate them to my neck of the woods where the environmentalists are more than happy to say, “Yes! I know, let’s repopulate the wolf population, right in our own neighborhood.” What could possibly go wrong there?

JL
JL
5 years ago
Reply to  ME

Please send me your address, so I can send you the ones roaming around here. They are the only creatures here that scare our dog. :)

Capndweeb
Capndweeb
5 years ago

And yes, our Lord tells us there will be ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing who infiltrate the flock to destroy it. The problem arises when we look at all our fellow sheep (or at least the male ones) and believe that they are all wolves in disguise. This leads to a very nervous, paranoid bunch of sheep who are unable to eat or drink in peace and, as a result, they waste away.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago

Imagine Paul literally built homes with his own hands made sure the hungry were provided for, made knowin that the rich or rich in order to help poor. He was the best humanist facilitated men having wives and marriages for young people ; basically provided for all basic needs . By those standards today’s Pastor ismerely temporarily (hour a week) housing refugees/often of his own making given his involvement in cultural warfare or confused support for rebels. Then he complains about the rough burden they are in ‘his’ church. But then most pastors support expanding Zionism in the Middle East(THE… Read more »

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

“Lip service”

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

“But then most pastors support expanding Zionism in the Middle East(THE cause of actual refugees)”

Darn Israelis forcing the Sudanese to kill each other.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

Im sure your an israeli troll(or c-zionis/same thing) or just chose to ignore the middle east context of my reply; but in case you just need an education you might take notice that israel is fueling sudanese conflict, according to un observers; bombing sudan and providing arms and drones. So cheeky boy, wake up.

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

Another person who hates the Jews, but I hope not as much as Kevin McDonald does. Are you taught this growing up, or do you discover it on your own? Did Jews steal your lunch money?

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Wow, non sequitar much? Go make a sandwich and let ppl talk

Clay Crouch
Clay Crouch
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

Jilly, allow me to translate DW’s response from the original alt-right-speak.

“Of course I hate Jews. A little girl did rob me of my lunch money once. She had dark hair and wore glasses, that’s how I know she was a Jew.”

Go easy on him, he’s fragile.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

Because Omar al-Bashir is not a murderous thug, just a nice guy who wouldn’t bother anybody if the Israelis didn’t make him.

Are you in the habit of addressing people you don’t know so rudely, especially when you don’t know if you’re speaking to a lady?

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

You should ask the Christians about their president(I assime you mean Bashar al-assad?)

Clay Crouch
Clay Crouch
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

No, Doug, she means the president of Sudan. Wake up. Geez. You started this asinine conversation. You’re making the alt-right look dumber than they already do.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Clay Crouch

An aside of an aside becomes ‘assanine’, but who is the ass?

Farinata degli Uberti
Farinata degli Uberti
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

asinine, forsooth! Illiteracy does not contribute to your argument.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago

Gracis forsoo retro-bution

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

No, oh wise one, I mean Omar al-Bashir. Google is your friend.

Isn’t he your president, too? And do you actually pattern your manners after his? If so, that tells me a lot about the value of this conversation.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

So many paid israeli trolls/so little chaim

Clay Crouch
Clay Crouch
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

On a more personal note, you really need to get your keyboard fixed and/or take some remedial (look it up) spelling and grammar lessons.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Clay Crouch

Its often better to read with accuracy and understanding than to text with the same, the embarrassment differential is lost on the superficial though.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

This site does have an edit function. Typos happen to the best and worst of us since the ability to type easily is a matter of neither morality or intelligence, but there isn’t much excuse for rampant sloppiness.

bethyada
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

rampant sloppiness

I am afraid that your comments will continue to bring to mind Valerie’s limerick for some time.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

How IS a raven like a writing desk, Martha?

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

Lewis Carroll invented his own answer when his fans kept bothering him with queries.
“Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!” I was sorry to learn from the Daily Stormer that Carroll also hated Jews. When he wasn’t photographing naked prepubescent girls, he liked to write anti-Semitic screeds.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

My favourite answer was “Poe wrote on both”.

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

A much better answer than Carroll’s!

bethyada
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

I found this on the interwebs

A writing desk is a rest for pens and a raven is a pest for wrens.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Aaaaand who didnt; Jesus and Luther/pretty good company. Im much too jewier”? Im muchier?, no thats not right. I might loose my muchness/ as in much more important than humanity, but alas i am still jew-

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug Wright

The higher you get the fewer there are, according to ‘The Shineing’ that is.

Doug Wright
Doug Wright
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

Won’t cure dyslexia but thats no reason to stop now….

jigawatt
jigawatt
5 years ago

But that shepherd’s crook is so triggering!

bethyada
5 years ago

We live in a generation that wants to… simply turn over the handling of complicated sexual abuse cases to the trained professionals. But trained by whom? By what standard? It seems likely that a pastor trained in biblical counselling would do better than a pastor without training. Yet a pastor without training is vastly better than a host of degrees and certificates from institutions that have an antagonistic view of the Bible and it’s diagnosis of man. This is not to say that non-Christians cannot counsel well, or that all non-Christian institutions are mistaken in everything that they claim. Rather… Read more »

ME
ME
5 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

“But trained by whom? By what standard?” I quite agree with Wilson on that point, but what is key here is the heart, the motivation, the agenda working behind the scenes. So is your motivation the health and well being of the victim, or is it something else? In far too much of the secular world it is all about activism, revenge, feminism, anti church-ism, agendas, money. What is kind of sad, while Wilson has his critics for whatever reason, our secular State has few critics and we actually have dead children, pedophiles running foster homes, innocent parents persecuted, this… Read more »

John Peterson
John Peterson
5 years ago

“Shepherds have a responsibility to guard the flock by means of climate control. In the modern world, this means pastors need to know what is happening in the world, what is going on online, what members are saying in various comment threads, etc. In short, what are the distractions? what are the loud noises? what are rival shepherds saying?”

It could seem as if DW is asserting his dominance as alpha male.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing is indeed dangerous. When a wolf comes as a shepherd…

Indigo
Indigo
5 years ago
Reply to  John Peterson

When a wolf comes as a shepherd, that is very dangerous indeed, but let’s not stretch the metaphor to alpha male dominance. In the church, leadership looks like servant-hood. Not sparing oneself in the cause of the flock, and lovingly seeking after those who stray, are two of the marks of a good shepherd because they are marks of the Good Shepherd. If a pastor is doing these two things, why would we suddenly start shouting ‘Wolf!’ when he also seeks to protect his flock by addressing distortions and errors to which the world has fallen prey?

ME
ME
5 years ago
Reply to  John Peterson

“It could seem as if DW is asserting his dominance as alpha male. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is indeed dangerous. When a wolf comes as a shepherd…”

Yes, but this is where things get very complex. A shepherd that cannot don his wolf suit, isn’t much of a shepherd at all. While a wolf in sheep’s clothing is a bad thing, a sheep in wolves’ clothing is not.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  ME
Dave
Dave
5 years ago

CC, you are right on Sam taking care of the flock!

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  John Peterson

Jesus, the Alpha,
and Omega,
male!

Shrewd as a snake, innocent as a Dove.

Dave
Dave
5 years ago
Reply to  John Peterson

JP obviously didn’t watch Sam Sheepdog take care of Ralph E. Wolf.

John Peterson
John Peterson
5 years ago
Reply to  John Peterson

Much of this is in response to DW not quoting the next verse after Ezekiel 34:3 – “The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.” The issue of Ezekiel 34 is not shepherds being lazy and careless but rather forceful and harsh.

Dave
Dave
5 years ago
Reply to  John Peterson

JP, are we reading the same post? You seem to have missed all the points above and just commented on what you wanted to say to the world instead of what the post is about.

John Peterson
John Peterson
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave

On the contrary, the idea of a pastor needing to know “what members are saying in various comment threads” is exactly what I am responding to. This is more in line with “force and harshness” than the “neglect [of] duty of protection.” DW’s style of leadership resembles more the kind of leadership Ezekiel is warning against than that of which DW is warning against.

Dave
Dave
5 years ago
Reply to  John Peterson

JP, you are not only off base, you aren’t even in the stadium.

Your comment is completely ridiculous and you are more the wolf in sheep’s clothing than anything else.

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
5 years ago

“and from house to house”

You mean, “Feed my sheep” does not = deliver a half hour lecture?

Imagine how long you’d keep a shepherd who never bothered to check under the wool for problems?!

And go after a lost sheep??!! >>> you’ve got to be kidding!
In order to do that, don’t the sheep have to first sign up, requesting this service?

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

Sign up?
When has any sheep ever done that?

Besides, they don’t have opposable thumbs!????

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

Granted, I’m hol’ away in lil ole Denver so I don’t know about the big bad world —

but of the couple dozen “evangelical” pastors I’ve spoken to here, 80%+ say this is what their “official” church membership helps accomplish:

It identifies the sheep for which the pastors are responsible

Because, don’t you know, when Jesus later asks them if they fed His sheep — they can then with smuggish look pronounce that all those other sheep were just not their problem.

Mike Bull
5 years ago

“If a man loves the wolves, then he hates the sheep.” When I read that line, Saul and Agag came to mind. Lo and behold, Samuel and Agag showed up later on.