07 Mar


First Advent

Does human nature ever change? Cultures certainly do. Culture is based upon region, necessity, beliefs, and creativity. But human nature is more about design. A product of both nature and nurture. Yet, after the garden, weeds grow naturally, and flowers take careful, Spiritual work. And so, while cultures may shift and change dramatically over time, the nature of human behavior remains essentially, cliché. As Solomon said, What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9, CSB).

And so, in the vein of, nothing new, I have come to realize, typologically, the social issues before the first Advent, are nearly a mirror image of the second. For example, in the days of John the Baptist:

  • God’s people were living under a pagan government. And the “civilized” metropolis of Rome, viewed Jerusalem as a rural backwater, a place of uneducated religious zealots.
  • And, be it Rome or Jerusalem, rulers felt entitled to remain in power through corruption, indifferent to the poor who were scraping by under over-taxation, slavery, and injustice.

Under this social unrest, Judah’s leadership split into two extremes.

There was the Levite class of political rulers, the Sadducees, who had extremely liberal views. They scarcely believed the teachings of scripture, having become more interested in Greek philosophers than in the Word of God. They rejected the idea that the Creator could raise them from the dead. They didn’t even accept many of the miracles in Scripture as literal. Nor did they believe in the angels, the devil, or the Spirit. Hence, why their leader, Caiaphas, was more interested in justice for his nation, than in a “Spiritual” kingdom.

The second class of religious leaders were the Pharisees. They were non-Levite Rabbis who held extremely conservative views. Over time, their sect had become more devoted to obedience to the letter of the Word, than to the God of the Word. They were committed to earning their way into heaven through their scruples, elevating the traditions and beliefs of extra-biblical teachers in the Talmud to a place of equal authority with Scripture.

As a result, rebellion was fomenting in a desire to take their nation back for God or for glory. A longing for national greatness, like in the prosperous days of Solomon, or the Maccabees.

Second Advent

As you can probably deduce, the same issues swirling around John the Baptist, could be pulled out of modern Western headlines. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. Now, in the days just before the Messiah comes a second time.

For all intents and purposes, God’s people have once again come under the authority of “foreign gods,” as it were, with Secularism. This anti-theistic child of the Age of Reason could fairly be described as a white-washed intellectual rebranding of paganism. A new form of religion based in the worship of the material world and human ego.

Under their plutocratic empire, the lust for power and money in global banking, corporations, and politics, has devastated not only our communities and families, but even the planet itself. And the common classes have basically become indentured servants, living under a steel fist in a velvet glove.

Just as with the Sadducees and Pharisees, the nations and their religious leaders, have become divided into two extreme polar opposites over cultural and moral issues. Each side becoming more and more entrenched in “their view” being the “only” acceptable view. The fierce sectarianism is fomenting of civil rebellion and anarchy.


And so, it should come as no surprise then, that the prominent belief surrounding the coming of the Messiah at the first Advent was that—He would “fix everything.”

They wanted freedom from the Romans. They wanted prosperity. They wanted a piece of the pie. And so it is today. Whether it be Millennialism or Zionism,

Christianity has the exact same view as the Israelites who saw Jesus feed the five thousand:

They got into their boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes, but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you (John 6:24-27, CSB).

They went “looking for Jesus.” It sounds so spiritual, doesn’t it? I imagine Jesus taking a deep sigh, his eyes getting large: He then essentially said, “You’re not coming to Me for deliverance from sin, you’re coming to Me for deliverance from want.” And, unfortunately, not much has changed. From the tree in the garden to the mark of the beast, we are besotted by, “things that perish with the using.”

Not even John the Baptist was immune to the desire for a “fix all God.” It’s why he sent his disciples to Jesus, asking, Are you even the One? Or should we look for another (Matthew 11:3,5, CSB). I can sympathize with John, struggling with imprisonment; wondering, “Why haven’t You delivered me? I am Your most faithful follower! I’m even Your relative! How can you truly be the Messiah if you can’t even fix such a simple need?”  We all struggle with these same feelings when God doesn’t snap His genie fingers and make our lives better.

And just here is where we find the reason people have consistently rejected the Savior. Because we are all chasing after certainty. We all have bills. We all have dreams. We all have hopes for our children. And, of course, we always have those in power who want to remain in power. Because, at our core, we all long for stability, purpose, and control. These are largely legitimate needs after all. Jesus’ promises of certainty are too esoteric. We want bread. We need bread! We all want paid mortgages. We all want national stability. We all want to live our “Best Life, Now.”


All this is not to say that God is indifferent to our needs. He has always provided for His people. There are scores
of Bible stories dedicated to this reality. But what I am saying, is that when we make an idol out of seeking bread, our faith is out of order. As Jesus said, Do not consume yourselves with questions like: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need (Matthew 6:31-32, Voice).

Even John had to learn this lesson when his disciples got back to his cell and shared how Jesus had, “healed people, and set them free through the Gospel.”

It must have been a horse pill to swallow. Jesus hadn’t come to fix the world. He came to save us from sin! I imagine John must have deeply reflected on his previous words to his disciples as his day of execution neared:

You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of Him. The bridegroom is the one to whom the bride belongs; but the bridegroom’s friend, who stands by and listens, is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This is how my joy is made complete. He must become more important while I become less important (John 3:27-30, GNT).

John recognized that he was not the message; he was only the messenger.

Because the certainty the world needed wasn’t found in John the Baptist; it can be found only in Jesus. John was the best man, not the Groom. And so, he concluded, “He must increase and I must decrease.”

And so, if we as “Adventists” truly want to play a typological role like the Baptizer, as an, … urgent, thundering voice shouting in the desert—clear the way and prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord! (John 1:23, TPT), then, just as John, we must accept that we are not the message; we are only messengers. Meaning, Advent-ism is not the groom. We are only here to point people to the hope found in our soon returning Savior! Which is, in all irony, the first angel’s message:

Then I saw another angel flying overhead, with the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation and tribe and tongue and people (Revelation 14:6, BSB).

So, let our joy become full as we stand aside, and say with John: Jesus must increase, and Adventism must decrease. Let Jesus increase in our pulpits! Let Jesus increase in our schools! Let Jesus increase in our hospitals! Let Him increase in our conferences! Let Him increase in our missions! And let the Love of God increase in our fellowship and homes! Because what the world needs isn’t another religion, what the world needs is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, living within their reborn souls.

Shayne Vincent Mason is pastor for the Florida Conference in Daytona Beach, Florida. He received a Master of Social Work degree from Andrews University and has many years of experience as a therapist in hospice, marriage and family, and addictions. He is the author of the book The Red Letter Psalms. Email him at: [email protected]

31 Jan


The Question 

“If you take an alcoholic family, and an ultra-conservative family, and you remove the concept of religion and alcohol, and you compare apples to apples in the rules and roles of the home, are they mirror images of each other?”

It was a question that arose from having lived in both. I knew firsthand what the “fruit of the tree” tasted like—my childhood was filled with it. Addictions, yelling, abuse, shame, silence, denial, neglect. So, when I came into the church, I was filled with hope! Finally, I had found family. Where acceptance flourished. Where forgiving love was the norm. And people cared about one another … kind of.

Certainly, there were individuals who were warm and loving. But, unfortunately, the same relational issues I grew up with were also present: addictions, yelling, abuse, shame, silence, denial, and neglect. Now I am not referring to outliers. To deviations of a small group here and there. I’m describing the bell-curve. Sadly, warm and loving seems to be in the fringes among communities that are hardcore fundamentalists. 

This is not to say that holding strict biblical beliefs is the source of dysfunction. But what I am saying, is that “… sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, to over-power you …” (Genesis 4:7 [AMP]). Sin is universal. Everyone is subject to its power. Religious or not, if your relationships are based upon its principles, the outcomes will be the same. 

The Source 

To the point, when sin first entered our world, what was the immediate effect of it? It wasn’t drinking, or fornicating. It wasn’t the mark of the beast. What sin damaged was our relationships. Love became based in fear and shame, rather than acceptance and joy.

Just like the emotionally-stunted children we are, humanity immediately began pointing at others rather than being accountable for their own decisions. As it says in Genesis 3:12 (AMP) “And the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me—she gave me [fruit] from the tree, and I ate it.’ ” And so, death entered … and to this very day, slowly asphyxiates our relationships until they die from conflict and dysfunction.

You can see it in the sibling rivalry and approval seeking of Cain. It was in the triangulated mess between Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. You see manipulation in all of Jacob’s descendants. And enabling was the cause of out-of-control children with Aaron, Eli, and David. Even the disciples were constantly in conflict, obsessed with control.  

Since the fall, human beings basically became one gigantic dysfunctional family, which by definition is: “a family in which conflict, poor-boundaries, denial, extremes, neglect, and abuse take place.” And so, while we would love to believe that Christians are above sin and dysfunction, unfortunately, according to the Bible itself, God’s people are often leading the charge.

The Lies

You see, the church is really good at teaching people about what happens when you die, salvation in Jesus, repentance from sin, and the like. All of which are super important truths. But we rarely, if ever, address the family rules and roles they believe, such as: How do you handle conflict? How do you process difficult emotions? How do you deal with stress and failure? How do you set boundaries and avoid extremes? 

As a consequence, when people are baptized, they may have repented of their outward-behaviors, but their inner-beliefs about relationships are still fully intact. And when we peek behind the wizard’s gigantic green curtain, be the extremes of liberal or conservative, the principles they do relationships by are essentially the same. They are both following a sort of “10-Commandments” for Dysfunctional Families:

  1. Control: It’s not okay to make mistakes; be perfect.

  2. Approval: Be who I say you are; I have no interest in who you actually are.

  3. Authoritarian: Do as I say, not as I do, and don’t question me or you’ll risk rejection.

  4. Secrets: Make us look good, regardless of what’s really happening.

  5. Triangulation: Keep it in the closet, never share family secrets or you’ll be ostracized.

  6. Neglect: It’s not okay to have emotions; don’t share or talk about them.

  7. Abuse: Having needs and boundaries is selfish; it’s not about you, but about me.

  8. Denial: Little to no communication, thinking it is only black and white extremes.

  9. Avoidance: Not talking about things will make them go away.

  10. Escalation: Accountability is shut down through conflict or redirection. 

These beliefs not only inform their subsequent theology, but they are the very opposite of righteousness, as it says in Romans 12:9-10 (AMP) “Love is (supposed) to be sincere and active, the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy … Be devoted to one another with authentic love as members of one family … .”

Is God controlling, screaming at you when you violate His rules? Is shame for your existence or your needs a fruit of the Spirit? Does Jesus avoid the truth through redirection and avoidance? Does the Father demean you every time you make a mistake and withhold His love from you until you do everything right? It’s obvious, isn’t it?! All these traits are the character of Lucifer. Not of God.

The Truth 

Thankfully, God is nothing like humans. His way of doing family is often the exact opposite of what we see in His own people. And He has his own “10-commandments,” 

as it were, for Functional Family:

  1. Trusting (Psalms 37:23-24; Proverbs 24:16)
    It’s normal to make mistakes, it’s how we learn, forgive, move on. Let God be God.

  2. Approval (Jer 32:3; Jer 1:5; Jer 29:11)
    Your identity is given by God. Find a solid mentor. God created you specifically.

  3. Boundaries (Gal 6:5; Prov 25:17; Matt 5:37)
    True authority is protective; it knows its limitations, God is jealous for your good.

  4. Honesty (Prov 12:22; Prov 11:1; Ex 20:16)
    We are all on a journey; we are all struggling; we are grateful for God’s mercy.

  5. Vulnerable (James 5:16; Psalm 22:1-2)
    Be real. Learn from one another and grow together. God loves an honest heart.

  6. Engaged (Gal 6:2; 1 Pet 3:8; 1 John 3:17)
    Difficult emotions take maturity and time to master, I’m here for you; God is here for you.

  7. Respect (Ecc 4:12; 1 Thess 5:14; Tit 2:3-5)
    Take care of yourself and others; know how much is enough. God knows and sees your needs.

  8. Communicative (Col 3:9; Prov 25:11; Prov 12:18)
    Talk about the issues; let go when they’re resolved. God has a thousand ways.

  9. Accountable (Gal 6:1-5; Prov 27:17; Luke 17:3)
    Facing things is hard, but facing things is what brings healing. God loves to heal.

  10. Humble (Prov 22:4; Col 3:12; Eph:4:2; James 4:6)

We listen to what the other person is telling us and process it openly. God loves the humble.

As it says in 1 Kings 19:12 (AMP) “After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle voice.” Unlike the chaotic mess we call humanity, God is gentle, stable, and kind.  

The Hope 

Call me naïve all you want. But I believe that we are able to repent of our wackadoodle beliefs. We can learn how to love. Through the Holy Spirit, we are capable of becoming islands of warmth and loving support for those drowning in the vast oceans of sin.

Because in God’s family, there is no need for eggshells. Instead, we can talk openly, apologize for our mistakes, forgive, and move on. People that truly follow Jesus don’t try to control one another; rather, they mentor others and celebrate their gifts. God only uses power to protect and discipline, never to abuse. 

As God’s children, there is no need for games and politics. We do not operate based upon secrets, because our relationships are founded upon honesty and merciful limitation. In the book Ministry of Healing we read, “The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian.” (p. 470) Truth is, even the blind can see when a church is really following Jesus, because their very atmosphere is dripping with grace.

Shayne Mason Vincent, MSW, is pastor of the Daytona Beach Adventist Church. www.YouTube.com / @PastorShayne Email him at: [email protected]

21 Oct


THE CLOSETS Having come into Adventism from the outside world, there are some distinct advantages. That is to say, in the area of assumptions. I do not have multiple generations to point back to. As a matter of reality, no one in my extended family had ever heard of Adventism. Therefore, I was not weaned upon Ellen White. And so, the glasses that I use have a different set of assumptions than those whose inner child is dominated by their parents’ version of Ellen White.

Now, don’t get me wrong. When I came into the church, I devoured her writings. I finished the entire Conflict series within three months before I was even baptized. Her views were broad and profound. I was like a soul lost in the desert of this world’s confusion. She helped me comprehend the breadth of the whole plan of redemption from Eden lost to Eden restored.

I was so blown away by the message of Jesus’ soon coming, I started giving my own Bible studies on Daniel and Revelation before I’d even finished my own baptism. Within my first few years as an Adventist, I listened to our entire church tape library of sermons (which consisted of around a thousand tapes). This helped expose me to all the great preachers and teachers like Brooks, Richard, Maxwell, Venden, and Halverson. I was so zealous, I even read many of the pioneers’ own writings! I became a devout Seventh-day Adventist, giving 150% commitment to the Lord.

But unfortunately, I was also exposed to all the skeletons in the church’s closet and the critical spirit that often goes along with it. The deeper I dove, the less I was becoming like Jesus, and the more I was becoming like Saul–“If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more.” Phil 3:4 (CSB). And nowadays with the Internet, any Adventist can find the motherlode of denominational laundry. 1850, 1870’s, 1888, 1905, 1919, 1957, 1980, etc. And these issues inevitably cluster around Ellen White.

It all reminds me of my Finnish grandmother’s survivalist stew called, Mojakka (pronounced moy-yuk-ah with emphasis on the “yuk” part when you’re a kid). Her recipe was basically, throw giant chunks of everything in the pot and cook it to death. And sadly, the Seventh-day Adventist church’s closets are packed to bursting with nepotism, semantics, polemics, revisionism, and apologetic gymnastics, all an effort to avoid the complex questions raised about her theology. And the greatest sin of all these histories that no one is talking about? The trail of wounded souls who have often left God altogether because of the “yuk”.

So, if you really want to save your children, and save the church, then it’s well beyond time for some transparency, to open the closet and let whatever comes out tumble into the full light of accountability. Because if we don’t, the church won’t survive the raw truth (or even the fabrications) of the Internet. So, hang on to your hats, because this is going to get bumpy.

OMNISCIENCE Among those most revered in the Judeo-Christian faith were the prophets. And rightly so, as a prophet is defined by Webster as: “one who utters revelations”, and “the final authoritative revealer of God’s will.” They are the ones who communicate with God directly. So, in a sense, to disagree with a prophet is like disagreeing with God. But there are many over the centuries that have “profited” as prophets.

Which is why there are many specific signs of a true prophet found in Scripture. Such as the one I want to discuss today in Deuteronomy 18:21-22. It basically says, “if their predictions do not come to pass, that prophet is not from God”. And so, to ask the question, “Can inspired people make mistakes?” may seem like a bit of a misnomer.

Yet, there is a curious exchange between the disciples of the prophet John and Jesus in Matthew 11. In vs 2-4, “John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” In response, Jesus healed loads of people and then said, “John is more than a prophet, he is a messenger sent to announce the My coming”. And then in vs 11 He says, “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist!”

So according to Jesus, he is the greatest prophet that ever lived. the “messenger” meant to prepare the people for the advent of the Savior! So, what did John do as this “chosen one”? He sent his disciples to question if Jesus was even the Messiah?! Wait, what? Why? I would argue that it was because his theology was influenced by his environment. The Jews had mistakenly mixed the prophecies of the glory of the second Advent and completely missed the humility and suffering of the first. Think about it! What this implies is that the greatest prophet that ever lived, the messenger of the Lord, had bad theology! John had mistaken theology because his thinking was confused by the theological beliefs of his culture.

So, did Jesus reject the Baptist as a prophet because he had errors in his theology? No, rather Jesus doubled down on his gift! Don’t miss the most important point: Jesus still commended John and considered him inspired even with bad theology! Why? Because being inspired, and being omniscient, are not the same thing. Omniscience, infallibility, and inerrancy are defined as, “Universal complete knowledge. The capacity to know EVERYTHING.” And that gift belongs solely to God alone! We, as human beings, are erring, Spirit-led yes, but erring children, up to our necks in something we only barely comprehend.

And that is exactly why I love God so much! Because in the latter half of Matthew 11:11 it says, “…Even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!” Wow! What a statement. In the eyes God, a repentant addict, struggling parent, or a check-out clerk, are greater than a prophet in God’s kingdom! How beautiful is our God! We can see this same principle in Hebrews 11:28-39, “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet NONE of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.”

Our weak trembling steps of faith, stretching out feeble hands to our Savior, have the exact same hope as the heroes of old! I mean really, David, the man after God’s own heart, was a murderous adulterer. Sampson wasted his life with relationships, and Jonah ran away from God, yet they all still fulfilled their destinies. Or consider the prophet and high priest Eli. He was a terrible parent, enabling his children right in the church! Yet, all these broken, erring, hopeless cases were the very people God loved and called His own! And all this proves one thing. People do not lose their gifts simply because they make mistakes.

GROWING UP So, let’s make this simple. Think back to when you were 15. Would you seek out your 15-year-old self for life advice? I was a moron at that age. The meaning of life was friends, cars, and adventure (In retrospect, perhaps I haven’t learned a lot since then). And yet, that was the age Ellen was when she received her calling. Think seriously about it. Would Mrs. White in her 80’s has the exact same perspectives she had when she was 15? Of course not! She changed and matured just as we all do. And that includes her theology.

Just like the rest of us, when Ellen was young, her ideas were molded by her parents. And her parents belonged to a strict sect called the Methodist holiness movement, based in perfectionism. Because of this, she began her faith life with a fearful melancholic view of God, one that was synonymous with the legalism of the Puritan era. Just like John the Baptist, Ellen shared the theological views of the culture around her. But she grew out of those rigid views over time. And this maturation is obvious in her writings as well.

You can see it in her publications before and after 1888. She transitioned from Early writings to Desire of Ages, from Testimonies to Christ’s Object Lessons. That sickly, socially-rejected girl became a powerful woman who firmly trusted in Jesus as her hope for salvation. And I’m positive there are many of us who can share the exact same testimony of how God led us into clearer and still clearer views of His love.

To put some boots to this point, W.W. Prescott, among his many achievements in the denomination, the man who assisted with the development of the Desire of Ages in Australia, was the compiler of the book Education, as well as being the one in charge of revisions to the Great Controversy under the direct authority of W.C. White. He had this to say about the writings of Mrs. White: “It is firmly settled that phrases and historical statements in these books have to be corrected just the same as in other books.” (W.W. Prescott, G. Valentine, RHPA, p. 263).

THE FUTURE Her books were never written with the intention of being interpreted word upon word, replacing the study of the Scriptures. Her books were written as principle upon principle, to edify and guide. She never intended her teachings to be taken as theologically infallible. So “yes”, inspired people can make mistakes and still be inspired. Ellen White was just a normal human being with a deep abiding love for God, one who longed for Jesus to return like the rest of us. Someone who had an intimate connection with the Spirit of God and was still learning as she grew.

In the end, the Three Angel’s Message she so deeply believed in is, at its core, the Everlasting Gospel. And so, in hoping against hope, dreaming of the future of Adventism, it is my longing to see an honest church. One willing to be deeply blessed by Ellen White. But no longer willing to replace Jesus and His word with the idols of men. Because our job as “messengers” was never to blow the trumpet about the denomination or Ellen White. Our job is to announce the coming of the Lord!

Shayne Mason Vincent until the end of September 2022 was pastor of the Casper district in Wyoming. Email him at [email protected]


01 Jun



The desert of the Sahara is spread out like an eternity. The vast expanse of nothingness is large enough to fit the entire U.S. inside of its 3.6 million square miles. According to Smithsonian Magazine, new research is revealing that the wasteland was once lush and green. Evidence includes satellite imaging revealing hidden rivers, deltas, and settlements underneath the endless sands. Archeologist David Wright hypothesizes that, “Through overgrazing, the grasses were reducing the amount of atmospheric moisture and vegetation.” Leading to soil failure and desertification.

This same evidence is likely what destroyed the once fertile lands of ancient Mesopotamia. Overgrazing along the ancient Tigris River led to soil degradation, making Babylon unfarmable. The Persian Gulf then filled in with nutrients that should have been going to the fields, leaving the once-prosperous waterfront city of Sumar, land locked and lifeless; not unlike what we are doing to the Mississippi today.

Learning from these hypotheses, China’s Chongqing Jiaotong University has been experimenting with reclaiming their northern deserts and valleys through redirecting grazing lands and soil reclamation… and it is working. Valleys that were dying are now green again. Deserts that were encroaching upon cities have now been pushed back by miles with self-sustaining reclaimed soil.

Systems Theory

The term I use to define all these various issues is called Systems Theory. It’s a social work term describing the importance of resolving problems holistically, rather than just at the point of the issue itself. Webster defines “system”, as an interdependent group of items forming a unified whole. Cake is a good example. It is a collection of ingredients that, should you leave certain elements out, it would cause the cake to either collapse or to taste terrible. Each individual part is just as important as the other.

A car is an example of a mechanically-based system. A computer is an electronic system. A building is a structural system. A plane is a redundancy of systems. A society is also a system that includes individuals, families, communities, cities, and the state. And so then, religion is also system of many parts making up a whole.

And as a system, Adventism has a sort of butterfly-effect taking place in the arena of evangelism. As David Trim’s research on Adventist attrition rates has shown, “Our net loss rate is 39.25%, which means 4/10 of church members have slipped away over the past half century.” If we are collectively losing nearly half of all our members, then there is a systemic problem, not just a local church issue.

Let’s be honest, 40% is an immoral number. Based upon attrition, our churches could be twice the size they are. And while there are a multitude of contributing factors, there is one issue I would like to address: Our existing members are people too! Simply said, if we are evangelizing the prodigal, we should also be sharing the good news with the elder! As Sky Jethani said in his book, With, “We have missed the whole point of the prodigal story: What mattered most to the father was neither the younger son’s disobedience nor the older son’s obedience but having his sons with him.”


Each individual part is just as important as the other. The system cannot work without every single one of us. Therefore, God needs every hand on deck. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So, it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

We are all part of the Spirit. We are all individual ingredients needed in the cake. Authentic evangelism, the kind without attrition, needs a hope centered in Jesus, and friendships based in genuine love. We need to put a tourniquet of love on the bleeding body by feeding the sheep that are already here.

Because mentoring is how people grow into mature Christians. It’s how they learn to avoid the ditches of extremism. It’s how they learn to use the Bible for themselves. Modeling shows them how to love better. How to break the chains of their family dysfunctions. How to follow through with commitments. How to be stable. Discipling shows them through example, how to live in the Spirit, how to know God for themselves.

That’s how the dying wastelands can become green again. How the encroaching deserts can be pushed back. Because the entire body will be authentically sharing joy with others. As it says in Acts 2:46-47, “Day by day continuing with one mind … breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Shayne Mason Vincent is lead pastor, Casper Wyoming District. Email him at [email protected]


28 Mar


By Shayne Mason Vincent … Having been a devoted lover of metal music prior to my conversion, it was embarrassing to admit I was a Chris- tian. Most of my young life had been dedicated to anger and being hard. So, when I first came into the Adventist faith, I was relieved by the fact that I didn’t have to share the cheesy “Jesus loves you” line with everyone. Adventism was, thankfully, heady, not sappy.

I remember an experience during those times when I was donating plasma (my gas and cigarette fund). The fella next to me had his machine land on the number 666 and commented on it with a shudder. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to share the mark of the beast! But my captive audience, for some reason, wasn’t so excited (neither were my uncle, my friends, and basically almost everyone I talked with).

A few months passed and I was “witnessing” at a local park. An unwitting passerby had been trapped in my zealous, “fall of Babylon faith” spiel when we heard someone screaming. We looked over to the left where a young lady on rollerblades was rocketing down an embankment that ended abruptly at a solid stone wall. It didn’t end well. Feeling the prompting of the Spirit, I went down to help. But her family was fast on her heels and made it there first. And so, there I stood, clueless and gawking. After a minute or two when someone else walked up, the mother said with steely eyes, “Oh great, another spectator.” I was cut to the heart.

For the first time, it dawned on me how useless my pontificating was when someone was in actual need. It was at that moment that the Spirit sliced open a piece of my hard heart with a recent sermon I had heard, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10 NKJV). The preacher pressed his point home, “If the keeping of the law is love, then all our talk about the law, the law, the law, is clueless and blind, because righteousness is love!”

I walked away from the scene stunned as the meaning of his sermon hit home. Painfully, I realized my hypocrisy. It meant that my baptism, my knowledge, my condemnation of other denominations didn’t make me a Christian—only the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit could do that. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:2 (CSB), “If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but

do not have love, I am nothing.” My faith was powerless because I had viewed the very nature of God as “cheesy.”

Since those days, I have asked congregations, “What is righteousness?” And their answers were always the same, “the keeping of the law.” My heart aches at the many times I have heard in Sabbath schools, “All Christians ever talk about is ‘love, love, love’; we need to get back to the ‘truth’!” But doctrine is cold comfort when you’re in a nursing home and no one visits you. Doctrine is cold comfort for a child who needs a father. Doctrine is cold comfort when your boss is a tyrant and your responsibilities to family give you no option but to stay.

People need more from life than platitudes. They need Jesus. If I truly loved the “law of God” as I claimed, then I should have also been obsessed with “love,” because that is what it means to keep the law. As it says in James 1:27 (TVB), Real, true religion from God the Father’s perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly … Needless suffering. Interesting word—needless. It means it doesn’t have to be that way.

I slowly came to realize that righteousness wasn’t something special, apart from normal life, above the “common.” Holiness had become an idol for me, as though it was the vehicle to God, rather than a gift from Him. The Truth I needed to “get back to” was Jesus. His life of love and sacrifice are the fulfillment of the truth! For He is the Truth (John 14:6).

Therefore, when a parent doesn’t yell and shame their kid when they mess up, they have performed a holy act. Instead, they come alongside their child, and with patient kindness, show them a better way. They are being like Jesus. The one who is closest to God is the mother that wakes up at 2 a.m. to lovingly feed her screaming child.

Or the parent who works a 50-hour week doing a job they hate so their kids are provided for. And then when they get home, they love on their children, instead of drinking their troubles away. That is what real righteousness and character look like because it is done in the Spirit’s fruit of love.

Need proof? Here is the biblical “here a little, there a little” formula:

God is righteous (Deuteronomy 32:3-4) and The law is righteous (Psalms 119:75-76)
God is love (1 John 4:7-8) and The fulfillment of law is love (Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:13-14)
If God and the law are righteous, and God and the law are love, then Righteousness is Love!

Just imagine if Adventism was known for its love! If when people spoke of us, they didn’t automatically think, “Oh, the vegetarians,” or, “Oh, the Ellen G. White thing.” What would Adventism look like if the gospel were at the core of all our beliefs:

The Second Coming would be about God bringing hope to those living in a world that is falling apart.
The resurrection for the dead would be God giving hope for those who have lost the ones they love most.
Health would just be something that exponentially improves your life.
Sabbath would be known as an escape from the exhaustion of industrialization.
Church would be known as an experience of acceptance and supportive love and family for those lonely in an isolated world.
The judgment would be reserved for God putting an end to corruption and injustice in this world.
And salvation would be about knowing God and being grateful for what He freely gives us.

That day at the park completely changed the trajectory of my life. I began to love those who were right around me; and it was because I actually cared, not because it was expected, or in the pursuit of salvation. I learned to soften my heart, even with my enemies. And while there have been many ups and downs in my relationship with God, my soul is alive. My walls have come down. I even began tearing up watching Anne of Green Gables for the first time. Believe me, even being able to watch that show was a bigger miracle than quitting smoking!

And best of all, my “Mark of the Beast” evangelism has become a tongue-in-cheek part of my past. My friends and I now joke to the single guys, “Just tell her about the mark of the beast and she’ll be yours.” Or, for evangelism, “Just tell them about the mark of the beast and they’ll be ready for baptism this Sabbath!” Humor aside, there is, of course, a proper time and place for prophecies, especially in the times we live in.

But insofar as redemption itself is concerned, it is my hope that the Adventist church of the future will have finally accepted the implications of a true Pauline New Covenant gospel (without throwing the baby out with the bathwater). That they will come to understand that the fruit of the Spirit is the real antitypical fulfillment of the law. And that righteousness is love. After all, Jesus made it painfully clear what it means to be His follower, His “remnant”: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35 CSB).

–Shayne Mason Vincent is lead pastor, Casper Wyoming District. Email him at: [email protected]

12 Aug

Casper Pastor Completes Five-Year Journey Writing Book on Psalms

RMCNews with Shayne Vincent – Casper, Wyoming … After a five-year journey of praying, studying, and asking God to bless his work, Shayne Vincent, Casper district pastor, has completed and released his new book, The Red Letter Psalms. It is a rich experience of God speaking directly to the reader for the entirety of the Psalms.

Vincent recalls how the concept came to him. “While contemplating the Psalms, the idea came to me like a whisper in my ear, ‘Flip the Psalm.’ It was an intriguing concept, born, perhaps, of a longing to hear God’s voice. So, I tried it: ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,’ became, ‘I, the Lord, am your Shepherd; you shall want for nothing.’  I was struck with the beauty of the shift in perspective.”

As Vincent began his journey writing the book, it was evident that God was leading in this project.

“It became a devotional journey for me. The more I researched, the more it became obvious that the whisper I heard was, indeed, the Spirit. The reversed point of view worked for the entire 150 chapters without any real complexity. Certainly, there were a few sticky passages. David was, after all, a man of war as much as of poetry. What truly convinced me was the beauty of God’s love exploding from psalm after psalm, revealing how intimately God cares for humanity.”

An excerpt of Vincent’s book shows God’s perspective on Psalm 23.

“I, the Lord, am your shepherd; you shall want for nothing. I give you rest in green pastures and lead you beside still waters; I restore your soul. I lead you in paths of lovingkindness; for I keep My word. Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you have nothing to fear, for I am with you. My shepherd’s rod and staff are there to comfort you. I will prepare a banquet for you in the presence of your adversaries. I will anoint your head with oil until your cup overflows. Surely My goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life; and you will live in My house, forever.”

The project has given Vincent an avenue to meet and become acquainted with the Christian community in Casper. “This past July, I was gratified to receive a call from a local pastor whom I have come to love as a brother in Christ. He opened a new book and coffee shop in his church and invited me to share my book at a signing event with two other local authors. I was blessed to meet many local believers and leaders and [received] some news coverage. It even led to a local women’s Bible group using the book for their study.”

Vincent desires that individuals who read the book will be shown that God is love. “So far, I have been encouraged by people sharing how God is moving them as they read, rather than about my book. In reinterpreting the perspective of the Psalms, it has always been my hope that the beauty of God would become clearer, that we might all come to see that God is, indeed, love.”

The Red Letter Psalms is available on Amazon https://amzn.to/3lRWTvM. To read more on the July book signing, please visit the Oil City News https://bit.ly/37tRu5H.  To follow Shayne Vincent’s blog, visit BaringMySoul.com.

–RMCNews with Shayne Mason Vincent, pastor Casper / Wheatland district; photo supplied

22 Feb


RMCNews with Shayne Vincent – Casper, Wyoming … The tranquility of a snowy, quiet Mills Spring Ranch campus was interrupted by giggles and excited shouts of children, along with warm fellowship on Valentine’s weekend as members of the Gillette and Casper churches gathered for the Wyoming Winter Retreat 2021.

The weekend was filled with the swish of skis and the crunch of snowshoes as groups spent time exploring the white-laden forest. Miles of groomed snowmobile trails called the adventurous and sledding hills trembled with delight awaiting those young and young at heart to begin their joyous descent. The evenings, spent in fellowship, abounded with snacks, games and relaxation.

There was also time to spend in God’s Word. Henry Johnson, pastor from the Carolina Conference, gave talks on finding our purpose in Christ from the book of Ephesians. Lyla McDonald, member of a local church, and youth from Union College provided children’s and youth activities along with classes on Sabbath.

Shayne Vincent, pastor of the Casper district recalls the weekend which was filled with fellowship, but also extreme cold. “It was 28 below zero! It was so cold Brent Learned, [camp director] struggled to keep the propane in the kitchen working. But the fellowship of 80+ attendees was warm, and the music was joyful.”

The winter retreat is sponsored annually by the Casper and Gillette churches along with the cooperation of Mills Spring Ranch. Vincent adds that the hard work involved in meeting during the winter is worth it. “While it takes a fair bit of work with all the snow and shuttling people in with side by sides, it is never without fun and spiritual growth.”

If you are interested in attending next year, please contact Mills Spring Ranch for details.

RMCNews with Shayne Vincent who is the pastor of the Casper, Wyoming district; photos supplied

05 Jan


By Shayne Mason Vincent — Because I am an independent, I appreciate truth on both sides of the aisle. Both major parties have something important to offer society; and they also both have extremes. A perfect example of this is my education. My schools of discipline include both social work and theology. I love them both for their deep insights into human nature. Yet both have very different solutions when it comes to “how to fix the world.”

Certainly, our society is in desperate need of “fixing.” But, whenever we attempt to discuss the issues of race, immigration, poverty, environment, governance, and taxation, the discussion becomes about party rather than principle. Worldview and political views are now assumed to be one and the same. Yet, it is entirely possible to be a Democrat who believes in fiscal responsibility, just as it is possible to be a Republican who cares about the poor.


Unfortunately, partisan media and politics have used current events to embroil our nation in a very dangerous, “cultural proxy war.” For at its core, they are in a philosophical battle for control of the narrative; and this war has been in the crock pot since the American and French Revolutions:

Two distinct lines of Enlightenment thought: first, the moderate variety following Descartes, Locke, and Christian Wolff, which sought accommodation between reform and the traditional systems of power and faith; and second, the radical enlightenment inspired by the philosophy of Spinoza, advocating democracy, individual liberty, freedom of expression, and eradication of religious authority. The moderate variety tended to be deistic, whereas the radical tendency separated the basis of morality entirely from theology. Both lines of thought were eventually opposed by a conservative Counter-Enlightenment, which sought a return to faith (Wikipedia).

As a nation, we are now likely near the end stage of this ideological war between enlightenment-based, secular-humanist values and historic constitutional Christian values where Secularism derives truth from the rationalistic and material; it values naturalism, evolution, secularism, rationalism, the sexual revolution, and post-modernism’s rejection of absolutes. Christianity derives truth from the metaphysical and biblical; it values church and state (theocracy), tradition, patriarchy, theism, and fundamentalism.

These two views have been in an open existential battle in our society for more than 200 years now. And as a firm believer that historicist-eschatology only applies to major paradigm shifts in history, I suspect that our culture war has prophetic significance related to Daniel 11:40 and Revelation 11:7; Egypt (secularism), the King of the South, and Babylon (Christianity), the King of the North, are battling for supremacy of worldview.

And here is where we must be wise. Fleeing Babylon does not mean we should run to the arms of Egypt simply because they support causes we cherish. To state this biblically, fleeing the earth and sea beast does not mean we should flee to the beast from the bottomless pit! We are followers of Jesus, not of this world; and sadly, we often seem to have a little too much of Peter and his sword in us.


So, when politicians, with all their double standards of moral equivalence, hijack legitimate issues for political expedience, citizens become enemies. We put up our dukes and stand our ground (no matter the side). I can’t tell you how many people I used to love in Christ who are now no longer on speaking terms because of politics. But in all of this partisan propaganda, Christians seem to have forgotten that the principles of Truth and Justice actually belong, not to the state, but to God!

Where do you think our modern “secular” ideals of justice came from? Rights for workers, women, children, blacks, immigrants, LGBTQ, and our social services, social security, adult and child protective services, and the five-day work week? They were originally championed by Christians! It began with what was called non-sectarian philanthropy. It was an ecumenical mission done by those who had a burden for the oppressed. This same work took place in Europe as well, under, for example, the Elizabethan Poor Laws, which were developed through the work of William Booth and his Salvation Army, as well as the abolitionist work of Christians for multiple centuries.

Their grand achievements for widows, orphans, the elderly, the working class, the slave, and the poor were slow and gradual, ultimately becoming institutionalized into secular law and government. But it was never done as an entitlement or a “right”; they fought for these causes because they loved Jesus and cared about their neighbor! And now, in all of our partisan madness, we seem to have forgotten that Jesus loved His enemies.


So, let’s stop pigeon-holing God into one particular vein of conservatism or liberalism. He is a living God, and He expresses truth in a rainbow’s palette of colors. Consider the panoply of flowers, animals, clouds, and climates He has created. The refractions of light, the various colors, the end- less varieties. Clearly then, God loves all races, He loves all nations, and He loves the earth itself, for He created it all!

Therefore, as followers of Christ, what we should be looking for is, “What is truth?” What are the biblical principles I can support in these current events that are not related to the politics of it all? Because His Word is loaded with hundreds of texts that span both sides of the aisle:

James 1:27: Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Isaiah 58:6: Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.
Leviticus 19:33-34: When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native- born. Love them as yourself.
Revelation 11:18: He will destroy those who destroy the earth.
2 Thessalonians 3:10: For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
2 Corinthians 9:6: But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Proverbs 10:4: Idle hands make one poor, but diligent hands bring riches.
Proverbs 21:25: A slacker’s craving will kill him because his hands refuse to work.

The Church

The church of Christ’s day wasn’t just some homogenous group of Jewish males who only had one perspective on all things. It was diverse, including people from many nations and cultures, and God loved them all: Jews, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Africans, women and men, slave and free, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, blue collar and white collar. Because loving your neighbor has nothing to do with politics. It is, rather, a fruit of the Spirit. And if hate is all we are experiencing due to our views, clearly, we are not following the Spirit of God, for hate is the fruit of the serpent.

I fear that our “cultural proxy war” isn’t going anywhere; it will likely only increase until the final events. And because we can already see the beginnings of the lamb-like beast speaking as the dragon, we need to be conscious about where we stand. We need to avoid being caught up in the mob that cried out for the nationalist zealot Barabbas to save them from bad governance (no matter if it is left or right). Nor should we exclude ourselves from the fight to protect the least of these, for those are the very ones God commands us to protect! Instead, let us be the ones who cried out for Jesus, so that our testimony will be like that of the early church, where “God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need” (Acts 4:33-35).

–Shayne Mason Vincent is lead pastor, Casper Wyoming District. Email him at [email protected]

01 Sep


By Shayne Vincent – Casper, Wyoming … Consider it joy, said Shayne Vincent, pastor of the Casper, Wyoming District. All too often, reports focus only on the usual church life topics. “This time, church life went on a summer excitement on the road. It was worth reporting, he commented.

The Casper Church and their minister formed a club, Wyoming SDA Rock Hounds, and put their sights on going to “The Rubicon,” a world renowned 12 miles of off-roading in Northern California. Joining the trip were enthusiasts from Gillette.

A group of 17 made the long haul to spend three long days of adrenaline-pumping rock crawling. Known to many in the Rocky Mountain Conference, Steve Hamilton, former RMC youth director, who, as many will recall, moved to California just days before the infamous Paradise fire, met them there. A veteran of the trail, Steve has gone there since he was a child. He brought his rock crawler rigs, his family, and some friends to join them on the adventure.

Out of nine rigs brought on the trail, six broke down and were repaired or limped through the trail. “It was great fun for all,” Shayne reported after returning home to Casper. “It [the trip] included beautiful sunshine and mountains, worships and friendships, endless obstacles, and pleasant lakeside retreats.”

During the adventure, Steve shared his testimony of how God worked to change his life on The Rubicon, just feet from where the group was seated. He shared “how God has used my own gifts of off-roading to reach many youth for Jesus. We should use our own interests and hobbies to reach others for Christ.”

Pastor Shayne added, that “it was absolutely terrifying fun! I was constantly wondering if I was going to be thrown or crushed by the jeep! But once I got off the trail and had a good nights’ sleep, I woke up the next morning and thought… that was amazing!”

–Report by Shayne Vincent, lead pastor of Casper, Wyoming District; photos by Shayne Vincent