[EDITORIAL NOTE. We are pleased to share with the readers of THE MINISTRY some helpful material presented to a group of ministers' wives at South Lancaster, Massachusetts. At Atlantic Union College, Mrs. T. G. Bunch has guided the work of their organization. We asked Mrs. Bunch to share with the field some outline material of special interest to other groups of ministers' wives. Having observed the educational influence of such meetings in a community, we are pleased to report that the trend of our instruction is educational and not merely social. While we make this material available to the field, may we kindly solicit similar plans and outlines from other groups interested in the development of the young minister's companion. Please mail your programs and material to the Ministerial Association so that we may occasionally be able to help other centers with ideas. L. c. K.]
I. PRESENT-DAY PROBLEMS.
1. God's plan. John 15:11; 16:24."God . . . desired that the earth should be filled with joy and peace. He created man for happiness, and He longs to fill human hearts with the peace of heaven. He desires that the families below shall be a symbol of the great family above," Christ's Object Lessons, p. 290.
2. In contrast to this beautiful scene, the world today presents a sorry picture, whether one looks at national or international relationships; and far too often the individual families, even Christian homes, reveal unrest, uncertainty, con fusion, and disillusionment.
3. The theory that if a nation is to become strong and endure, all must be subject directly to the nation, and that even from birth the child belongs to the state, sets at nought God's original plan and ideal for the happiness of man. "The heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation, is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences." Ministry of Healing, p. 349.
II. GOD PLANNED A HOME FOR MAN.
1. For our own sakes and also because many, especially young people, look to the ministerial family for guidance, we must have a clear understanding of God's plan, a "Thus saith the Lord" for "the hope that is in" us.
2. The second chapter of Genesis records, the establishment of the first home. Eden, a place of pleasantness and peace, also called Paradise, was God's ideal for a home. Paradise and park come from the same root word, and literally mean "garden of delights."
3. God's plan for man had no room for loneliness, for He knew that it was not good for man to live alone. So He modeled that first home in fellowship and companionship that would ensure perfect happiness. God purposed that the joy and inspiration of the home would radiate to lighten and brighten other homes.
4. Satan entered that home in an effort to disannul God's plan for our happiness. Into that home he brought suspicion, accusation, lying, and sadness. Later followed jealousy, hatred, and murder. In spired, no doubt, by his success there, what a history of wreckage and woe he has spread for the human family!
5. How thankful we should be that God's original plan will be carried out, for "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him." Eccl. 3:14. (See also lsa. 14:24,27.)
6. God's original plan is pictured for us in detail by the pen of inspiration as recorded in Education, page 22:
"As it came from the Creator's hand, not only the garden of Eden but the whole earth was exceedingly beautiful. No taint of sin, or shadow of death, marred the fair creation. God's glory 'covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.' 'The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." Thus was the earth a fit emblem o£ Him who is 'abundant in goodness and truth;' a fit study for those who were made in His image. The garden of Eden was a representation of what God desired the whole earth to become, and it was His purpose that, as the human family increased in numbers, they should establish other homes and schools . . . where the words and works of God should be studied, and where the students should thus be fitted more and more fully to reflect, throughout endless ages, the light of the knowledge of His glory."
7. Eden will be restored.
"The divine Intercessor presents the plea that all who have overcome through faith in His blood be forgiven their transgressions, that they be restored to their Eden home, and crowned as joint-heirs with Himself to the 'first dominion.' Satan, in his efforts to deceive and tempt our race, had thought to frustrate the divine plan in man's creation; but Christ now asks that this plan be carried into effect, as if man had never fallen. He asks for His people not only pardon and justification, full and complete, but a share in His glory and a seat upon His throne." The Great Controversy, p. 484. (See also Isa. 65:17-25; 66:22-24.)
III. THE MINISTER'S HOME.
1. The minister's home is a symbol of the family in heaven.
"God designs that the families of earth shall be a symbol of the family in heaven. Christian homes, established and conducted in accordance with God's plan, are among His most effective agencies for the formation of Christian character and for the advancement of His work." Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 430.
2. We all recognize that the parsonage because a minister lives there is immediately set apart as something special, different from the homes of the lay people, and more distinctive than even the homes of leaders and statesmen. That place, whether we are conscious of it or not, becomes a beacon, a lighted place. People expect more from that home than from others in the community, and they have a right to do so.
3. What is expected of a minister's home?
a. Leadership and guidance.
b. Idealism, inspiration, courage, hope, and faith.
c. Peace, rest, and reassurance
"Our time here is short. We can pass through this world but once; as we pass along, let us make the most of life. The work to which we are called does not re quire wealth or social position or great ability. It requires a kindly, self-sacrificing spirit and a steadfast purpose. A lamp, however small, if kept steadily burning, may be the means of lighting many other lamps. Our sphere of influence may seem narrow, our ability small, our opportunities few, our acquirements limited; yet wonder ful possibilities are ours through a faithful use of the opportunities of our own homes. If we will open our hearts and homes to the divine principles of life, we shall become channels for currents of life-giving power. From our homes will flow streams of healing, bringing life, and beauty, and fruitfulness where now are barrenness and dearth." Ministry of Healing, p. 355.
IV. THE MINISTER'S HOME A QUIET RETREAT.
1. The home of the pastor must be a place of quiet retreat and refuge where love is shut in and all the world shut out, a home where all the members know the joy of being "shut in with God."
2. Such a home will be a planned home, a well-organized home. First of all there will be a studied and cultivated companionship between the father and the mother. This will lead to planned companionship for the children, which we will discuss in a later study.
3. God's planned companionship for the home considers every phase of man's need the spiritual, the mental, and the physical, our social needs finding fulfillment and radiating through each of these avenues, when, and if, we seek to develop symmetrical characters according to His plan.
a. Spiritual. We are not naturally spiritual, for we have a sinful nature. (1 Cor. 2:14.)We must study to be approved of God. We must constantly cultivate spirituality. To cultivate is to work with loving devotion.
b. Mental. "The mind occupied with commonplace matters only, becomes dwarfed and enfeebled. If never tasked to comprehend grand and far-reaching truths, it after a time loses the power of growth. . . . As a means of intellectual training, the Bible is more effective than any other book, or all other books combined." Education, p. 124.
Because a minister, to be successful, must be a student, ever reaching for higher attainments in service for the Master, his wife must also seek mental improvement lest their companionship dim for want of nourishment and inspiration. "Be ye not unequally yoked together" touches every phase of life.
(1) Purity and consecration must rule the sex life of God's leaders. Only the pure in heart will see God.
(2) Recreation planned interest. A minister's life is not monotonous. The minister meets many and varied situations and has interesting social contacts. The question of recreation may need to be considered chiefly from the angle of sufficient and proper exercise. Where it is possible to have a garden for the family, this exercise will provide a profitable recreation for both husband and wife. We must study to become interested in those hobbies that draw us together.
4. The following are some ideals to strive for:
"Let home be a place where cheerfulness, courtesy, and love exist. This will make it attractive to the children. . . . Make your rooms as cheerful as possible. Let the children find home the most attractive place on earth." Counsels on Health, p. 100. "Love can no more exist without revealing itself in outward acts than fire can be kept alive without fuel." Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 695,"In the formation of character, no other influences count so much as the influence of the home." Education, p. 283.
(Continued next month)