Advance!—Our personal study should ever be in advance of our public presentations. There are many points that we may very properly be exploring—including the sound exposition of some of the less clear and minor portions of prophecy upon which we do not have Spirit of prophecy guidance or certification. These should not be offered through public or group exposition in our church or evangelistic meetings. Such questions need to be studied in the narrower circle of our ministerial associates—the Bible teachers in council, the conference workers in workers' meetings, or through personal interchanges. The practice of some conferences in having periodic worker meetings for the sole study of truth is to be commended, if conducted in a right spirit and held in proper relationship to the preservation of the unity of the truth in public presentation. Ours is an advancing light, an expanding truth. The basic foundations have been laid, but we should expect to perfect and round out the superstructure, opening new windows that illuminate, and finishing uncompleted rooms. These must always harmonize with the truths already established. They will if they are genuine advances.
Prayer!—Though addressed to God, public prayer should be heard and entered into by the people. Public prayer is representative prayer, and is offered for and in behalf of the congregation. Indistinct mumbling, or prayer offered in such a low voice that few can hear or understand, defeats one of the very purposes of public prayer. Therefore in large places of assembly it is just as necessary for the voice to be amplified for the prayer as for the sermon, if such provision is available. The difficulty in hearing a prayer offered by someone in the midst of the congregation in less formal meetings should lead us to ask the one who prays to at least come forward and face the congregation during the prayer.
Handicaps!—Our work will close and our message to mankind be consummated in the midst of unprecedented trouble and confusion, according to prophecy. Normalcy has departed from this old world. The old days are gone, never to return. There may be—and we pray there will be—cessation of the present world-engulfing struggle and bloodshed. But armed control will doubtless continue to restrict and hamper in great sections. We must plan on fulfilling our commission -under the handicap of controls and restrictions that will often make the way exceedingly difficult. To this will be added religious opposition and repressive coalitions. Of this we have been forewarned—that what we have failed to do in times of peace and prosperity will have to be carried through under most forbidding circumstances. We must learn to work effectively under handicap. We must take conditions as they are, and notwithstanding, find ways and means of giving our message and of calling God's children out of Babylon. Here is scope for skill, tact, versatility, faith, and persistence heretofore unknown. The loud cry will be given in the midst of earth's final din and confusion. Onward, then, despite all handicaps!
Responsibility!—It is not wholesome for any one group to feel that it is wholly or chiefly responsible for the theological views and welfare of the denomination. Bible teachers, editors, and authors, and our leading preachers all join in molding the thinking of the rank and file of our workers. And our workers, in turn, mold the views of our people. It is the united study of preacher, teacher, and writer that produces the denominational viewpoint. This is safer and better. If one group becomes too reactionary, aggressive, or liberal, others will bring balance and hold the denominational view steady. It would be calamitous if all our views were to emerge either from the classroom, the editorial chair, or the pastoral-evangelistic desk. Every need must be met, every type of mind reached. The practical must blend with the theoretical. Strength and unity come from such united study and contribution.
Faith!—One of the penalties of advancing years is the tendency for conservatism to become reactionism, and for timidity to gravitate into fearfulness. Because we ourselves have not solved a problem or have not succeeded in an objective, we tend to think—and sometimes even to say—that no one else can. So we incline to become cynical as to possible progress, and critical of probable advance. When that occurs, we have lost our faith and our leadership. Then it is time for others to take up the mantle, and to carry on courageously toward the heights that beckon us on, but which we may not have been able to scale. The courageous, conquering attitude is a priceless asset. Faith in our cause and our destined victory, faith in advancing light, faith in our brethren, faith in ourselves—these are priceless, ageless assets. Let us cherish them and seek them in choosing leadership for the various responsibilities of our cause.
L. E. F.