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

The Way to Plant a Church

I recently spoke with a man who had, at one time, attempted to start a new church in a needy small town. The work was so hard and he got discouraged. He did what we would think he should have done, he called the pastor of his sending church. 

The pastor of his church, a larger one from a southern region of our country, counseled him to come home. He did. And so, there is no witness, no church, in the town he left. 
I have to tell you, church planting is just about the most challenging thing a person can do. 
  • It’s challenging spiritually. 
  • It’s challenging emotionally. 
  • It might be challenging physically if You have to work a secular job to pay your bills. 

Anyone with a human heart would counsel the discouraged church planter to throw in the towel and come home. 

Here’s the thing; the way to plant a church is to keep on doing it. It won’t get done unless someone keeps at it. Church planting is not just hard, it is impossible. If God doesn’t step in the whole work is hopeless. But God does step in. God honors faithfulness.

I can’t tell you how many times I would have quit if only I had had someone to give me permission. Fact was, I didn’t. I didn’t come from a larger, established church. I came out of a church plant that had come out of a church plant. If I had called my sending pastor to bellyache about how difficult it was … well, I just would not have done that. He was in the very same difficult spot I was. We could commiserate together, but there was no use going back home. It wasn’t any easier there.

Church planting is impossible. But the impossible has happened more times than history has recorded. If God has called you, and you know it, plug yourself into the town: 
  • Get a job if necessary. 
  • Start a business if necessary. 
  • Stay a lifetime if necessary. 


If at the end of your life you have been a testimony for truth and you leave a foothold for another man to give his life to, you have done well.

Pastor Marvin McKenzie
In the Fields

America, the Land of Liberty


Everywhere we look these days it seems like there is someone else screaming about the injustices of the United States.
  • We were terrible to the blacks
  • We were terrible to the native Americans 
  • We were terrible to the poor
  • We were terrible to the Chinese 

Turns out Columbus was a bad person. So was, the way many tell it today, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln. Oh forget it! It’s useless trying to name all the scum that has surfaced in the history of the US.

But I listened to the final episode of a podcast called Revolutions. The host did not publicly note the significance of this, but he did remark that, in 1848, at the bitter end of all the world revolutions of that year, all of those failed revolutionaries fled for their lives to, you guessed it, the United States.

Truth be told they weren’t the only ones making their way to America. They came from Spain, France, Russia, Ireland, Germany. Name the place, name the culture, name the race, creed or religion and you will find people from them who came here for a better life. Did it work out for everyone? Of course not. Success in life is not guaranteed by governments, no matter how beneficent. But they did come and they did have a chance, and many more of them than not did improve their place over where they had been.

No one has ever claimed the earliest people in our country were perfect. But I for one am thankful for the country they created and I am thankful to be a part of it.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands
One nation under God, indivisible 
With liberty and justice for all”

Marvin McKenzie
In the fields

Predisposed Faith

I read a piece the other day where the author said that, though he believes in God, he understands that for those who don’t believe to use the truth of the Bible as a basis of proof or an evidence of fact automatically shuts them off. He therefore chooses not to reference God or the Bible in conversation with those people. 

To his article someone commented something along the nature of, “I don’t mind someone claiming to believe in God. What shuts me down is when they insist upon believing something in the Bible that has been scientifically proven false.”
Here’s the thing, there is nothing in the Bible that has ever been scientifically proven to be false. 

Nothing in academia, outside of mathematics and some mechanical sciences has been proven true.{1} Nothing
  • Not archeologically 
  • Not anthropologically
  • Not historically 

Nothing 

Not even evolution. Though evolution is almost universally accepted in the scientific community there is a great deal of disagreement in evolutionary theory. That is, as much as the atheist and agnostic hates to admit it, because there is no scientific proof for it. No one has ever observed or replicated an evolutionary process. 

Fact is, there is far more scientific evidence of the truthfulness of the Bible. The agnostic and atheist either refuses to accept the evidence or else, the thing that is much more common, they are ignorant of the evidence, choosing to listen to the theories of others rather than to search answers for themselves. 


To believe or disbelieve are both acts of faith. One faith is predisposed to accept those parts of the Word of God that has not been proven because God has proven Himself so many times before. The other faith is predisposed to disbelieve all of the Bible, most likely because they do not like the consequences of the reality of a living God. 

[1}  I’m sharing the link to an episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class today. This episode features Mohenjo Daro, an ancient city in the Indus river valley of modern day Pakistan. The entire program is fascinating but I chose to link it here specifically for the quote they give at the end of the show by George F. Dales in which are these words, “It is not uncommon to discover that yesterday’s fact is one of today’s discarded theories.”
Check it out at, https://www.missedinhistory.com/podcasts/mohenjo-daro.htm

Trouble With Baptist History

When the Baptists in England first won the toleration of the government they quickly began to position themselves as mainstream Christians and gain more than toleration. They wanted respect and the approbation of their neighbors. 

Among their efforts to gain this new position were:
A strongly Calvinistic doctrinal statement.
It made them sound like not much more than immersing Presbyterians
A denial of any connection with Anabaptists, especially those of the continent.
English Baptists, along with most of the British Isles, had a distasteful view of the Anabaptists. It seems obvious to me that their view was because of the tainted representation they had received from the Catholics and more recently the continental
Protestants who had long experience with them. Theirs was almost a cultural disgust of the Anabaptists. They had refused to accept the authority of the baptisms of the Catholic and Protestant churches for centuries. That they had always existed was not contested. What was contested was whether they were a unifying factor within all of Christendom. Anabaptists had always been schismatic in their view, insisting on a different sort of church than mainstream Christianity had ever held. Anabaptists had also been noted for their insistence on a different sort of Christianity. They preached a converting kind of faith. They preached that those who were believers were to be born again and that this new birth would result in a growing sanctification and a life of purity. This tenacious distinction between the Anabaptists and the catholic church, whether the Roman version or the Protestant one, had given the world of Christendom a bad taste for the Anabaptists.

Today we still find that this bad taste exists. 
Oftentimes in the writings of those who still dislike them and their history, choosing to believe that they were never a genuine form of Christian faith, frequently by those who would like to know our Baptist roots but find that the Anabaptists were not just like we wished them to be. I find that many modern Baptists, even those who claim to trace their roots back through the Anabaptists have a limited view of who the Anabaptists were. A lot of the reason is because it is a lot of work to read primary and secondary sources to discover as much as is possible about them. Most of us only know what we have read in summary type works like that of Robert Sergeant, Phil Stringer and others like them. 
Books of this nature, while giving us a general outline of Baptist History, don’t allow us to tackle some of the more challenging problems with Anabaptist history. When we do delve into the works of those whose work provides some detail we come face to face with the hard to swallow truth that
One, we are not much like most of them
Two, they were broadly different among themselves

This is readily understandable:
  • They had no common way to be trained
  • They generally only had portions of the New Testament
  • They believed strongly in soul liberty - the right and responsibility of each believer to study the Scriptures and worship God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience


Our true heritage from the ancient Anabaptists is not really a set of doctrinal distinctives, although those distinctives , in a general way exist; what we inherited from our Anabaptist forefathers is
  • A conviction that Christ alone saves through faith alone
  • A conviction that the Bible is true, without error and profitable in every Word
  • A conviction that the gates of hell have not prevailed against the Church Jesus built and
  • A conviction that each human being must be given the liberty to know the Scriptures and stand before God as he or she believes the Bible tells them to.
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 n...