STEP AWAY FROM THE PROBLEM

A Definition of Meddling
Proverbs 26:17 (KJV)
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.

The definition of meddling would be, taking up a strife (or offense) that is not their own – choosing sides.

As Christians we ought to love one another and pray that Christ be honored. There is no Biblical room for a believer getting offended for any reason[1]– let alone taking up someone else’s offense.

A Trap in Meddling
Proverbs 20:19 (KJV)
He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

Whenever we get involved in an offense that is not our own (and remember – the thing to do when we are offended is forgive.[2]) we are blinded because we only know what the person whose offense we take up wants us to know.

A Priority in Meddling
Proverbs 24:21 (KJV)
My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:

The subject of the offense should be yielded to God first and then to those who are in authority. The rest of us should pray for all involved love all involved, seek to see the Lord glorified.[3]

A Conclusion Concerning Meddling
Proverbs 17:14 (KJV)
The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

Leave off contention.
That simply means stay out of it.

The best time for a Christian to back away from the offense is at the beginning. In the legal world they call it de-escalation. The longer the offense is carried the more damage it can potentially cause. Back out of it quickly. Apologize for anything you might have done to make things worse and step away so that you can pray for all parties involved.


[1]Psalms 119:165 (KJV)
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
[2]Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV)
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
[3]1 Corinthians 10:31 (KJV)
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Am I doing something wrong?

Recently I was asked the question, "Am I doing something wrong?" Generally when I’m asked that question what they’re really asking is, “Is God judging me for something?”

Here’s the truth. God doesn’t judge us like that. Our sins have already been judged in the person of Jesus Christ. When God sees the Christian He only sees Christ and in Christ, only righteousness.

God’s not up in heaven waiting to spank us for every little thing we do wrong. He does: 
  • train us 
  • chasten us 
  • discipline us 

but He does that most often through the natural system He has put into place in this world.

Most often when a person asks the question, “Am I doing something wrong?” they already have the answer. It has something to do with 
  • an attitude that they have or with 
  • an action they are involved in or with 
  • an inaction that they are responsible for 

This world has an established order; things that work and things that don’t work. Wise people learn those things that work. Wise people learn those things that don’t work. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. It’s putting into practice what we know to work successfully.

So The answer to the question, “Am I doing something wrong?” is, “Yes. and No.” If you’re having trouble in business or succeeding in life then, yes you’re not following that natural course that leads to success. 

But if you mean, "Is God judging me?" and that’s why you’re having trouble in your life, the answer is no. The judgment for the Christian is already accomplished. God’s not judging you by 
  • making your business fail or by 
  • making your marriage fail or by 
  • making your children fail 

Those are all consequences of poor choices that we’ve made or lack of knowledge that we have.

The good news is this means we can do something about those problems. We can gain the knowledge that we don’t have. We can change the behavior that we’re doing. We can adjust the attitude of our mind. We can gain the wisdom to apply what we know.

Sometimes what we’re doing is wrong in this world but right in heaven. When that’s the case we just need to suffer the consequences of our time in an unfriendly world. And in that case we know that God has a reward waiting for us in our new home in heaven. 


Hang on to that.

It’s Complicated

The other day, while on my daily visit with God, I came across David’s use of the word, integrity. He said Psalm 26, that he had walked and would walk in his integrity.

Interestingly, one of the Hebrew definitions of the word translated integrity there is “simplicity.” Integrity is, in other words, keeping things simple.

Every once in awhile I will receive a survey. It will be something like “why do I prefer this particular deodorant, or some silly thing like that. The first part of the survey is always a series of questions meant to establish a baseline and determine the demographics of their survey audience. They ask questions like general age, educational background, ethnic background, annual income and etc. one of those questions regards marital status and it is not uncommon for that question to be multiple choice:
  • Single
  • Married
  • It’s complicated
No it’s not. It is not complicated. A person is either married or single. The only thing that complicates the point is that some people don’t wish to be identified according to the obvious. 

This demonstrates a key issue in our world today. Walking in integrity, doing the right thing, is not complicated at all. It is as simple as accepting the authorities that determine right and wrong, and choosing right over wrong. What complicates the situation is that we want to reconcile what is right with what we want.

We do this with the Word of God all of the time. We know what the Bible says, we might even claim we believe what the Bible sys, but when what the Bible says doesn’t fit what we want, we call it complicated. “It’s not that simple.” will be our response to challenges about our behavior, beliefs or circumstances. Truth is, it is simple. The Bible is right. If we simply do what we understand the Bible to teach it is simple. The only complication is when we decide we think differently, we want something else or we can’t bring ourselves to comply to the Word of God.


It’s that simple. Do as God teaches regardless the consequences. That’s integrity

The idle word

Matthew 12:36  
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

An interesting thing happened to me the other day. I was in a conversation with a man I deeply admire, a preacher 26 years my senior. In the course of conversation I mentioned that I had recently turned 60, telling him the date of my birthday. The conversation carried on with little change of direction with the mention. We enjoy3d the m3al and the fellowship. I thought nothing of my mention of my birthday nd would have guessed my friend thought little of it either.

Next day was Sunday and my friend was preaching. In the course of his message he brought up our conversation, my mention of my birthday and then said, “I was up last night thinking about that. I had a son born that same month and year. He died just two months later.”

I didn’t know. I meant nothing by it. He did not make a big deal of it at the time. But just the mention of my birthdate opened the doors of a sixty year old grief for him.

It reminded me of how powerful words are. No wonder Jesus warned that we will give and account of every idle word. Words expressed with little thought and deliberation can be painful, even downright harmful.


My words were spoken in innocence and received without offense. Still they caused pain. I am not saying that what I did was wrong, I don’t think it was. But it does serve as a reminder how important it is that we consider our words.

Marvin McKenzie
In the fields

Adulting

I am sure I am behind the times. I only heard about this term in the last few days when a person I know, a fifty something, said she did not want to “adult” anymore.

The top definition in the Urban Dictionary[1](I can’t believe I had to look this word up) is, as of July 2018,  “Adulting (v): to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (paying off that credit card debt, settling a beef without blasting social media, etc). Exclusively used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.
Used in a sentence: I was going to buy a sack of Blue Dream but I finally got my oil changed instead. Adulting!”

The second definition in the same site is,“ Adulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.
Used in a sentence: Jane is adulting quite well today as she is on time for work promptly at 8am and appears well groomed.”

I understand that everyone likes a vacation from duties once in a while. I do not understand avoiding adult responsibility habitually. I especially do not understand it in the context of the Christian community. Apostle Paul said, 1 Corinthians 13:11 (KJV)
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

The Bible says of both John the Baptist and  then of Jesus,
Luke 1:80 (KJV)
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Luke 2:40 (KJV)
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

The point is to grow up, gain wisdom and put away childish things.

I can’t help but think that the person who isn’t happy with their life is the person most likely to train their children to avoid “adulting.” The competent adult, who charges into life, handles the difficulties of life with Christian grace and looks forward to an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of God, will raise up children to do the very same.

Marvin McKenzie
In the fields

Our Current Church Paradigm Is Robbing Us

I do not know when the current paradigm of the successful church became the reality. Almost everything we can get hold of concerning church life in centuries past has been written, and therefore interpreted by those immersed in the current paradigm. It is likely that they read into and then write into history their own paradigm. 

My concern is that the current church paradigm is robbing our churches of the most valuable asset we possess; the wisdom of the seasoned, hoary headed preacher. 

Current church culture demands the pastor to be active. He must attend to weddings, funerals, hospital visits, and late night family interventions. He is expected to live by his telephone, answer it every time and respond to the perceived emergency of the caller in a moment’s notice. Frankly, we reach an age where this just isn’t possible. I am afraid it has never been practical and neither is it healthy for the believer. The pastor becomes a sort of surrogate savior. The average Christian leans upon his or her pastor more than the Lord. A young preacher can only do that so long. An older man cannot do it hardly at all. 

And so we put the older preacher out to pasture. Because he hasn’t the energy to build a ministry he is expected to step aside and make way for the younger man who can. We thus perpetuate the paradigm. The elder preacher becomes complicit to the paradigm by yielding to it. 

We hear preachers encourage the older guys to step aside, to know when to hang up their spurs. We watch them denigrate the man who chooses to do otherwise, viewing him as irresponsible and robbing the world of a strong, vibrant church. (By that they mean one that suits their paradigm.)

I think worse tragedy than that, the tragedy of leaving the ministry in the hands of novices, in some cases men who will forever remain novices because they lack the input and example of the older, wiser and well seasoned man of God. 
We need a paradigm shift. 

I propose this shift requires we stop seeing churches as these growing businesses, meant to be large and operated by sound management. We need to stop seeing pastors as executives and view them as men of God, responsible for prayer and the ministry of the Word. We need to see churches as families; of necessity, smaller bodies of believers who are locked together in purpose. The church should be more than a different brand of store where one might prefer all the options of multiple super departments to select from. 

I propose the elderly preachers must be more visible. They need to be present at gatherings of preachers. They need to be given the pulpit frequently. Their voices must be engaged in the conversation of preachers. This, I believe, would happen more readily if those elderly preachers attended fellowships and other preachers’ meetings regularly. 

They also need to write. 
The elderly preacher needs to become involved where people are:
-Blogs
-Vlogs
-Electronic books
-Social media
-Podcasts
These are not difficult to master and do not require that he get involved in what might be considered the seedier side of Social media. He simply provides encouragement where appropriate and content that, I am certain, would elevate that of the audience. 


No preacher ought to fade from memory due to his years. We need his wisdom until his race is fully run. 

Pastoral "Safe Zones"

It’s all the rage these days, and all the talk. On college campuses, places where ideas have traditionally been freely given expressed, even those that are dangerous or detrimental to national health, safe zones are now the norm. Ideas deemed offensive to the administration are forbidden expression on the grounds those ideas might offend or injure the psyche of some of its students. Generally those ideas deemed offensive are either conservative, Christian or both. 

There has been much talk about this, mostly from the conservatives, and how silly it is that ideas can’t be expressed for fear it will hurt someone’s feelings who disagrees. Recently I heard Mike Rowe address what he sees as the problem of being too safe. (https://youtu.be/Q490iOW_-Lg

It seems so nonsensical to a conservative minded person to elevate safety to the place of primacy. It seems sensible to we, who are conservative, that old fashioned risk and hard work and ethics be those things which are most valued. 

But it seems to me that we are setting up our own “pastoral safe zones” right within the fellowships of Independent Baptists. I understand that different places have different emphases. When I began preaching back in the 1980’s I would attend the fellowship of the Oregon State Baptist Bible Fellowship almost every month. This group of pastors was mostly older than I was, they seldom brought their families to the meetings and they were generally encouraging, “You can do this.” sort of guys. But they had pretty high expectations. They would not support a church planter who worked a secular Jon and they demanded that those they did support demonstrate that they knocked a certain number of doors weekly. Support would only last six months, sometimes one year. That was it. They expected a church planter to be self supporting by then. One time a man who had been at his church plant for 3-5 years asked for help. One of the more outspoken preachers told him if he had not built a self supporting church in that time he ought to go out and get a real job. There were some pastors who quit attending the fellowship meetings because of that Preacher’s harsh words. 

I would less frequently but often also attend the meetings of the Washington State Baptist Bible Fellowship. This group of pastors was generally younger. They often brought their families to the meetings and, though they were more likely to acknowledge the hardships of church planting, they were very challenging doctrinally. I quickly learned to say little about my own doctrinal position and listen closely to theirs. These guys would eat your lunch if they discovered you didn’t believe exactly as they did. They would assign a preacher every month to preach a message on Baptist doctrine just to make it clear what they believed and keep those who did not believe as they did from trying to get support and a foothold in their group. 

Honestly, though I attended the meetings of these two fellowships very frequently, I often went home bruised and hurting. These were not safe zones. But they were growth zones. They were places where I was challenged, held accountable and provoked spiritually. 
These days I see a completely different mentality at fellowship meetings. Young preacher have been testing their wings, reading materials written by well known Protestants (as opposed to Baptists) and criticizing the men who laid the path before them. Too often they have been given the lead in the fellowships before they have had time to become established in the faith. And they get offended when a more seasoned pastor challenges some of their practices. This would be disheartening enough, I think, except some of the more seasoned pastors are encouraging them. They see no problem with the younger preachers stretching themselves beyond the bounds that were given them. They view those who call for holding the line “wild eyed.”  In effect they tell the old path men to provide for the younger preacher safe zones at fellowships. They don’t want us to risk offending the younger men by urging them to keep the doctrines and the practices right where we put them. They are sure to make the disclaimer that the important things should not be moved but it seems to me that they are careful not to give any details about what they deem to be important. They keep their own message of caution well within the walls of the safe zones. 

Here is the problem. The corrupt nature of man, even of preachers, will always lead them away, not to, holiness. Without challenging their new directions, without at least attempting to pull them back. If we don’t risk offending them they will certainly drift into unsafe territory. All the safety zones ever do is leave a people unprepared for danger. 
Thirty five years ago I learned that, as the world gets more evil, the churches slide toward the same evil, maybe just fifty years behind the world. Anymore it seems like older preachers have become afraid to warn the younger preachers to try to reverse the trend instead of giving in to it. 


Pastor Marvin McKenzie
In the Field

STEP AWAY FROM THE PROBLEM

A Definition of Meddling Proverbs 26:17 (KJV) He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that take...