Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 19 (1904)

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Lt 169, 1904

Ministers in Southern California

“Carroll Avenue,” Takoma Park, Maryland

April 27, 1904

Portions of this letter are published in 1MCP 178; 2MCP 633; Ev 382; 1MR 256; 6MR 62.

To the Ministers in Southern California

Dear Brethren,—

I have no desire to hurt the soul of any one, but I must bear the straight testimony given me. Some of the ministers and leaders in the Southern California Conference need to realize the necessity of counselling with their brethren who have been long in the work and who have thus gained a valuable experience. Their disposition to shut themselves up to themselves, and to feel competent to plan and execute, according to their own judgment and preferences, brings them into financial embarrassment. Then, when the embarrassment bears heavily upon them, they are tempted to think that the Union Conference or the General Conference should help them out. This independent way of working is not right and should not be followed. The ministers and teachers in our Conferences are to work unitedly with their brethren of experience, asking them for advice and paying heed to this advice. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 1

Earnest work should be done in Southern California in carrying the Fernando school forward successfully, and earnest work should be done in establishing a sanitarium near Los Angeles. Several buildings have already been offered for sale. If these are not suitable, or if they cannot be purchased for a reasonable sum, land should be purchased and buildings erected. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 2

Our smaller conferences should be careful not to create burdens of debt for the General Conference to carry. At times inconsiderate moves are made, buildings are put up without sufficient thought as to their use, and responsibilities are assumed where there is not ability to carry these responsibilities. Thus money is absorbed that brings no returns. Enterprises are started which consume without producing. This is not as it should be. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 3

General Conference Men Unduly Burdened 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 4

I fear that our brethren do not realize how many burdens the officers of the General Conference must bear. Many, many letters from all parts of the world come to them, asking for advice and help. Men in every part of the field think that they should certainly receive help from the General Conference. Workers who have been long in the truth freely lay their whole weight upon the President of the General Conference, sending urgent requests for means or for his personal labors to help them in the raising of means. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 5

There are many urgent calls for means to open new fields. These calls must be answered; and those in the fields that have already been entered must make diligent efforts to carry forward the work entrusted to them. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 6

Wholehearted service is required in dealing with minds. Let us remember this. Often we are tempted to criticize a man standing in a high position of responsibility, because he does not do as we think he ought to do. But the one who has so many responsibilities to carry needs not the criticism of his fellow workers; he needs their encouragement, their forbearance, their patience, and their prayers. He needs the abiding presence of Christ; for it is not always that he has wise, unprejudiced men to counsel with. In the confusion of many cares and many calls for help, he may make mistakes. Amongst the scores of appeals that come for help, your case may seem to be neglected. At such times remember the heavy burdens that are laid upon the one whom you think has failed to do his duty. Remember that it may be impossible for him to grant your request. Perhaps it would be a great mistake to grant it. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 7

We are all brethren and sisters. If Christ is by your side, filling you with His Spirit, you will appreciate the situation of the men who are loaded down with so many burdens and will pray for them. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 8

If our church members will walk humbly with God, with contrite hearts, they will control their own feelings and will not permit Satan to lead them to cherish thoughts and to speak words that will wound and bruise their own souls and the souls of others. They will not hurt the influence of those whom they ought to respect. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 9

But too often place is given to evil surmising and evil speaking. Under the influence of the suspicions that Satan has planted in the heart, very unjust things are said and done. Good and worthy actions seem to be tainted with evil. Men forget that sometimes their best intentions have been misunderstood, and that sometimes they have been as guilty as those they criticize, without discerning their danger. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 10

Let us be kind and pitiful and courteous. Let us not give undue prominence to our feelings. It is because our feelings are allowed to occupy the first place that there are so many unhappy differences amongst believers. Thus Christ is greatly dishonored. Let us, then, treat one another with true courtesy and respect. Should you think that your brother has made a mistake, and needs to be corrected, follow the directions given by Christ. Tell him his fault between him and thee alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother and have hidden a multitude of sins. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 11

Oh, we need so much the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not in heaven; we are in the midst of the turmoil and din and strife of this earth. Let us then put on Christ, and love as brethren. You may be full of energy and running over with zeal, but remember that this is of no avail unless your zeal and energy are tempered with the meekness and lowliness of Christ. Unless you learn in His school, you will make many mistakes. He invites us, as churches and as individuals, to take His yoke upon us and learn of Him. The promise is, “ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:29.] 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 12

God has a variety of workers, and He treats all with impartiality. He desires us to change the past order of things. He desires us to cease our evil thinking and evil speaking and to put away our hasty words. We are to part forever with our cruel thoughts and feelings and love as brethren. We are no longer to act like unmanageable, undisciplined children. “As He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” [1 Peter 1:15.] Give up now and forever all wrong habits. Take yourself to task. Discipline yourself. Lift the cross, and deny self. Control yourself. Then there will be an opportunity for Christ to let His mind be in you. Your words will be sweet and pure. You will give no place to the enemy by giving way to evil thinking and evil speaking—his most successful means of keeping the church in a weak, unconverted state. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 13

Practical Christianity we must have, or we cannot enter heaven. Hearing and preaching the gospel is not enough. We must wear the yoke of Christ; we must learn of Him to be meek and lowly. We must be doers of the Word. “If ye know these things,” Christ declares, “happy are ye if ye do them.” “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” [John 13:17; James 1:22.] 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 14

The Work of Our Ministers

Our ministers should plan wisely, as faithful stewards. They should feel that it is not their duty to hover over the churches already raised up, but that they should be doing aggressive evangelistic work, preaching the Word and doing house-to-house work in places that have not yet heard the truth. They are to preach the Word in season and out of season, raising up companies of believers here and there, in the highways and the byways. If they work in Christ’s lines, the Lord will work with them, and they will understand the greatness of His promise. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 15

There needs to be a revival of the message in the hearts of our ministers. They will find that nothing is so encouraging as doing evangelistic work in new fields. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 16

Work for Laymen 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 17

Those who have long known the truth need to seek the Lord most earnestly, that their hearts may be filled with a determination to work for their neighbors. My brethren and sisters, visit those who live near you, and by sympathy and kindness seek to reach their hearts. Be sure to work in a way that will remove prejudice, instead of creating it. And remember that those who know the truth for this time, and yet confine their efforts to their own churches, refusing to work for their unconverted neighbors, will be called to account for unfulfilled duties. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 18

Lend your neighbors some of our smaller books. If their interest is awakened, take them some of the larger books. Show them Christ’s Object Lessons, tell them its history, and ask them if they do not want a copy. If they already have it, ask them if they do not want to read other books of a similar nature. If possible, secure an opportunity to teach them the truth. Beside all waters the workers are to sow the seeds of truth, not knowing which shall prosper, this or that, but ever walking in humility and trust beside the One who has declared, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end.” [Matthew 28:20.] 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 19

Let every one who has eaten of the bread which came down from heaven labor in all simplicity to teach others what they must do to be saved. Little missionary work is done, and what is the result? The truths that Christ gave are not taught. God’s people are not growing in grace. Many are in an unpleasant, complaining frame of mind. Those who are not doing their duty, who are not helping others to see the importance of the truth for this time, must feel dissatisfied with themselves. Satan takes advantage of this feature in their experience and leads them to criticize and find fault. If they were busily engaged in seeking to know and do the will of God, they would feel such a burden for perishing souls, such an unrest of mind, that they could not be restrained from fulfilling the commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” “teaching them all things whatsoever I have commanded.” [Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19.] 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 20

Even while engaged in their daily employment, God’s people can seek to lead others to Christ. And while doing this, they will have the precious assurance that the Saviour is close beside them. They need not think that they are left to their own feeble efforts. Christ will give them words to speak that will refresh and encourage and strengthen poor, struggling souls who are in darkness. Their own faith will be strengthened as they realize that the Redeemer’s promise is being fulfilled. Not only are they a blessing to others, but the work they do for Christ brings a blessing to themselves. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 21

There are many who can and should do the work of which I have spoken. My brother, my sister, what are you doing for Christ? Are you seeking to be a blessing to others? Are your lips uttering words of kindness, sympathy, and love? Are you putting forth earnest efforts to win others to the Saviour? 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 22

Fathers and mothers, be on guard. Let your conversation in the home be pleasant and encouraging. Always speak kindly, as if in the presence of Christ. Let there be no fault-finding, no accusing. Words of this kind wound and bruise the soul. It is natural for human beings to speak sharp words. Those who yield to this inclination open the door for Satan to enter their hearts and to make them quick to remember the mistakes and errors of others. Their failings are dwelt upon, their deficiencies noted, and words are spoken that cause a lack of confidence in one who is doing his best to fulfil his duty as a laborer together with God. Often the seeds of distrust are sown because one thinks that he ought to have been favored, but was not. 19LtMs, Lt 169, 1904, par. 23