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Eugene W. Prewitt

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Haunted Homes

Not all homes suffer equally under the attacks of evil spirits. It has been noted proverbially that the children of pastors often appear at a disadvantage when compared spiritually to their peers, the children of those in secular employ.

The causes of the rebellion that so often afflicts such homes are many. One of them, overlooked more often than other causes, was addressed by Jesus in a little-thought-of statement to a would-be-missionary.

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. Luke 9:59-60.

The called one was willing enough to do the work. But struggles at home beckoned him to postpone service for a time. In all probability, it would be a short time.

The end of the story never found its way into the gospels. There are other stories like that. We finish them in our own lives. The invitee to service had two options at least.

 

  1. Go immediately and preach the gospel
  2. Go later, after ministering to his dying father

Doubtless he considered how his parents and family would relate to the first option. What would be best for them? What would most likely bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus?

The answer to this last question eludes the intuition of most workers. What seems like the best course of action in relation to our families might be the very course that plagues their home, yea, that makes it into a haunt of demonic activity. And the coarse that seems cold and negligent on the other hand, letting “the dead bury the dead’ may be the very way to save our dearest relatives.

Especially is this true when, in our personal ministry, the souls we are fighting to win are in the valley of decision regarding the truths for this time.

For years light has been given upon this point, showing the necessity of following up an interest that has been raised, and in no case leaving it until all have decided that lean toward the truth, and have experienced the conversion necessary for baptism, and united with some church, or formed one themselves. There are no circumstances of sufficient importance to call a minister from an interest created by the presentation of truth. Even sickness and death are of less consequence than the salvation of souls for whom Christ made so immense a sacrifice. EV p. 324.

While this seems true enough theoretically, in practice one must have a deep understanding of the value of souls to do rightly. If not even sickness or death should call them from the field, money problems and business certainly should not.

Those who feel the importance of the truth, and the value of souls for whom Christ died, will not leave an interest among the people for any consideration. They will say, Let the dead bury their dead. Home interests, lands and houses, should not have the least power to attract from the field of labor. If ministers allow these temporal things to divert them from the work, the only course for them to pursue is to leave all, possess no lands or temporal interests which will have an influence to draw them from the solemn work of these last days. One soul is of more value than the entire world. How can men who profess to have given themselves to the sacred work of saving souls, allow their small temporal possessions to engross their minds and hearts, and keep them from the high calling they profess to have received from God?–Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 540, 541. (1870)  Ibid.

Men are required to recognize when they are unable to deal with temporal distractions. This Adventist equivalent to a vow of poverty will never place the worker in a convent. It frees him, not from association with the world, but for the express of purpose of ministering there.

 

Haunted Homes and Spiritual Ghost Towns

Just as once thriving cities of the plain are now empty and decaying from the effects of wind and sun, spiritual ghost towns have come to exist where once there was a great interest in the present truth. The interest has dried up and no amount of work will bring it back. Spiritually, the ones, who were once seeking, now care not to hear the truth again or anew. How does this come to be.

It is Satan’s regular employment to hinder the work of God, and to work for the destruction of the race. Frequently when the interest in a certain locality is at its height, he makes it appear to the mind of the worker that some trifling matter at home is of great importance, and demands his immediate presence. The eye of the worker not being single to the glory of God, he leaves the work unfinished, and rushes home. He may be kept away for days and even weeks, and his former work becomes raveled and tangled. Stitch after stitch is dropped, never to be taken up again. EV 654

Satan’s “regular employment” affords him some useful knowledge. Not every man falls for the stuff-to-do-at-home trick. But those that do….they are marked for a life-time of torment. If they only knew it would be that way. Ellen White writes on.

This pleases the enemy. And when he sees that he is successful in making temporal matters supreme in the mind of this person, he gives him his hands full of trouble. He at once begins to manufacture home difficulties, so as to entangle his mind, and, if possible, to keep him away from the work altogether.  Ibid.

So must we sacrifice our homes and their order to the cause of God? No. There are some homes that can not be haunted. They are the homes of the faithful workers. The angels that shut the mouths of the lions are commissioned to say to the roaring lions that hunt our families “stand back!” Listen to the promise.

When souls are deciding for or against the truth, do not, I beseech you, allow yourselves to be drawn away from your field of labor. Do not abandon it to the enemy, I might say, even if one lay dead in your house. Christ said, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” If you could only see the importance of the work as it has been presented to me, the paralysis that is upon many would be shaken off, and there would be a rising from the dead and a coming to life through Jesus Christ. . . . If we firmly take our stand as God’s workmen, saying, “The Lord has given us a message, and we cannot be faithful watchmen unless we stand at our post of duty; we will carry the work through at all hazards,” then we shall find that angels of God will minister to our households at home, and will say to the enemy, “Stand back.”—Ibid.

This beautiful promise can not safely fall on deaf ears. The homes of workers are plagued or protected based in part on the faithfulness of the workers themselves. Our earthly friends, even our dearest relatives (for it was the man’s father that he proposed stopping to serve), can not become the means of distracting us from duty without making themselves targets for the Devil’s connivings.

 

A Secondary Matter

Punctuality and decision in the work and cause of God are highly essential. Delays are virtually defeats. Minutes are golden, and should be improved to the very best account. Earthly relations and personal interests should ever be secondary. Never should the cause of God be left to suffer in a single particular, because of our earthly friends or dearest relatives. “And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” [LUKE 9:59-62.] GW92 p. 248

Before we take these principles too far, it would be well to acknowledge that “secondary” is not “fifthdary.” Our duty to our families can not be lightly regarded. The man that feeds not his own is worse than an unbeliever. We can do our duty to our families and still do all that must be done for the world.

No earthly ties, no earthly considerations, should weigh one moment in the scale against duty to the cause and work of God. Jesus severed his connection from everything to save a lost world; and he requires of us a full and entire consecration. There are sacrifices to be made for the interests of God’s cause. The sacrifice of feeling is the most keen that is required of us; yet, after all, it is a small sacrifice. You have plenty of friends, and if the feelings are only sanctified, you need not feel that you are making a very great sacrifice. 3T p. 500

This testimony was written to a particular man. It may not be true for all that we “have plenty of friends.” We may not all have the same sacrifices to make.  But of all God requires “unselfish and willing service.” Sister White continued to write to the gentleman:

You do not leave your wife among heathen. You are not called to tread the burning African desert, or to face prisons, and encounter trial at every step. Be careful how you appeal to your sympathies, and let human feelings and personal considerations mingle with your efforts and labors for the cause of God. He demands unselfish and willing service. You can render this, and yet do all your duties to your family; but hold this as a secondary matter.–Vol. 3, p. 500.

The thoughts expressed in the quotations above find a varied expression in the book Historical Sketches. There Ellen White bemoans that “As a people, we have as yet scarcely begun to realize the importance of the work entrusted to us.” She writes that “A soul is of more value than all the world; and to let things of a temporal nature come in between us and the work of saving souls is displeasing to the God of heaven.” She pleads “Oh that the servants of God might have a new touch from his divine power! Oh that they had more faith to prevail with God in prayer, and more, far more, earnestness and perseverance in their labors!” HS p. 127

A Rising from the Dead

We are, as it were, asleep to the depth of the requirements of the gospel commission. You might even say we are dead to its claims.

Christ said, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” If you could only see the importance of the work as it has been presented to me, the paralysis that is upon many would be shaken off, and there would be a rising from the dead and a coming to life through Jesus Christ.  {HS 127.5}

Once the armor is put on, it “is not to be laid off for slight excuses.”

Christ meant something when he said, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” He intended to impress upon us the fact that we must make eternal things of first importance, and so relate ourselves to the cause and work of God that we shall not be hindered by things of a temporal nature. Everything of this character must come in secondary. The armor of God, once put on, is not to be laid off for slight excuses.  Ibid.

 

The Enemy will Understand

The freedom of the devil to operate where and when he wills should have an impact on our thinking. If his regular employ is to separate us from the work, then we should be guarded lest he work on our cases and learn from his successes.

What we need now is untiring energy and perseverance, so that we will not be broken off from the work by difficulties and home perplexities. If we do allow our interest to be thus separated, the enemy will understand it, and he will make trouble right in our families to draw us away from the work.  Ibid.

The trouble in our families can be best avoided by the angelic ministration mentioned earlier. We ought to

take our stand as God’s workmen, saying, “The Lord has given us a message, and we cannot be faithful watchmen unless we stand at our post of duty; we will carry the work through at all hazards,” then we shall find that angels of God will minister to our households at home, and will say to the enemy, “Stand back.” It is a great and solemn work in which we are engaged, and God will help us to carry it forward, if we learn to rely wholly upon him.  Ibid.

 

But not all the troubles at home can be blamed on the evil one. Many are the direct result of our poor organization and chosen business principles. How would God have us to organize our homes?

Oh, my brethren, put on the whole armor of God, and move with wisdom and intelligence. Do not work weeks and months to bring around a condition of things that will bind you hand and foot so that you cannot engage in the warfare as bold soldiers of Jesus Christ, and then mourn and complain because your circumstances are such that you cannot give yourselves wholly to the work.  Ibid.

 

Bearing Burdens of Own Making

It is not God who lays upon you this burden. He has given you reason, and he wants you to use it. He would not have you arrange things at home so that when you go out to labor your minds will be continually upon your families. Before you make any move with reference to your families, he would have you consider carefully whether you are piling up burdens that will hinder you from engaging in his work. I have felt sad as I have heard different individuals tell how difficult it was for them to give themselves to the work of God. They do not like to consider the steps that they have taken to place themselves in this position. Ibid.

The worst of these cases is that prayer for help in solving our problems will not likely bring relief. Our burdens could be lighter if we would only counsel with God.

If God should work a miracle to bring them out of this position, they would go right to work to bring about another similar state of things. Such do not feel the necessity of counseling with God; they prefer to follow their own inclination and judgment.  Ibid.

 

Amen.

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