See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."
These final words of the Old Testament, set in the prophetic context, are in fact the times in which we are living. Their message makes us conscious of the significance unity and family devotions are in our everyday lives.
The end time does not favor the spiritual growth of the members; therefore, it is necessary to have a radical reform in this area. This will only happen if we accept the inspired manner of thinking of Elijah at Mount Carmel: "If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21, NIV).
The family is the background which forms character in great measure for heaven, but the family altar is the place and time where we stand together before the Lord for the blessing and for receiving the power to overcome sin.
The living flames of prayer in the morning and in the evening unite this nucleus and brings us closer to the throne of grace. Family worship in general offers a spectrum of caring.
In some homes the fire has gone out and the stones of the altar have crumbled and are scattered. Above this rises a foreign fire of television or of misunderstanding between parents. Instead, characters should be modeled by the divine grace to shine like lights in the world unless it is like in the time of Elijah, "Why do you limp on both feet."
In some families there is hardly any flicker left, only the prayers at the table and sundown worship on Friday and Sabbath evening is maintained as a tradition.
Thanks be to God there are existing altars on which the flames of prayer are shining, spreading a fragrance of life, comfort and joy. This should be happening permanently in the pastor's family, which is an important center of influence and example. What can be done, and especially, what can the pastor's wife do in this respect?
First, understanding the necessity of reform in worship, she needs to take action like the prophet Elijah, in place of her husband who is absent from home. Many times he has to leave early or returns too late for worship. Therefore, the pastor's wife is to take the role of the family priest. Speaking of a mother's first duty, she is to serve the Lord first among other things: "It is impossible to estimate the power of a praying mother's influence. She acknowledges God in all her ways. She takes her children before the throne of grace and presents them to Jesus, plea ding for His blessing upon them. The influence of those prayers is to those children as 'a wellspring of life.' These prayers, offered in faith, are the support and strength of the Christian mother. To neglect the duty of praying wi th our children is to lose one of the greatest blessings within our reach, one of the greatest helps amid the perplexities, cares, and burdens of our lifework" (Adventist Home, p. 266).
The second time around, after Elijah repaired the broken altar, he placed the sacrifice and lifted up his prayer and the Lord gave fire. The people for whom he was sent to work rediscovered the true worship and the true God (I Kings 18:39).
Today, the situation repeats itself before our own eyes. The servants of God, as well as the pastor's wife, are in the center of attention of the believers. Hone would be a "mother in Israel," a woman of prayer, her influence would spread to "all the people." The door of her home would be open all the time to the district mothers in order to give counsel in connection with the important rebuilding of the family altar. The visits made together with their husbands will have a good influence. If prayer andworship are the cornerstone of family life, the miracle the prophet Malachi spoke of will occur. We would have powerful, faithful and united families. The district would be covered with blessings and not struck by a "curse." Our pastors would not stay in never-ending committees to settle family misunderstandings, but they would make missionary visits and plan committee meetings for evangelism. This is the work in which the Lord would like to see us involved.
Help us Lord, the pastoral wives to stay next to our partners; let us be like Elijah at the time of the reformation and turn hearts toward home!
who came from a home where love existed. What a different world this would be if all homes were as loving as that one!
That scene reminded me of a story I read some time ago. A father was sitting in his favorite chair reading the newspaper. His little boy put his little arms around his dad's neck and whispered, "Daddy, I love you lots and lots. I want to give you a hundred kisses."
The father replied, "Son, I love you too."
The little fellow responded by showering kisses on both cheeks.
The father, wanting to get back to his reading, said, "That's enough for today, sonny. Keep the rest of your kisses for another day."
The son replied, "No, Dad, I want to kiss you now."
In exasperation, the father sternly said, "I said not today. The rest of the kisses can wait until tomorrow."
The disappointed boy walked away slowly. That afternoon he met with a fatal accident.
The remorseful father kept repeating, "Why didn't I let him kiss me all he wanted."
Love and selfless courtesy are lacking in many Adventist homes. The home should be a refuge for all of the members of the family. A child returning from school may have had a hard day. His teacher may have scolded him, his friends may have poked fun at him. When the home is filled with love and understanding it becomes a haven of healing for the troubled mind of the child. Unfortunately, all too often, instead of going to a happy home, a child enters the door where an angry parent waits to greet him. It is surprising how many children prefer to stay with their friends than go to a home where there is strife and contention. Many children are tempted to leave home because of fault-finding, the lack of love and absence of affection. All too often they turn to drugs and to the streets to find acceptance and security.
Many homes need reformation, and reformation can result only when parents exhibit love and build a relationship upon God's Word. Positive results can be seen when children are invited to attend regular worship services with their families and are encouraged to join in meaningful worship periods. Families that share meal times together are generally able to communicate better; family members are encouraged to express themselves freely and are able to show appreciation for one another. Family ties are strengthened when special events and dates are shared_ Children gain a sense of self-worth when they are asked to participate in family decision making, and children feel a sense of accomplishment when individual talents and hobbies are encouraged.
These are the ingredients that help make a happy home. Home canbe fun and emotional bonds can be formed that will last a lifetime—a true preparation for heaven.
"'God is love' is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green—all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy" (Steps to Christ, p. 10).