Outpost Centers International traces its roots to Madison College, the original self-supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Begun by E.A. Sutherland and P.T. Magan, the college provides a model for self-supporting institutions around the world today.
Madison College was established to provide an education that would equip a person for mission service as quickly and as wholly as possible. By working as lay members, the founders were able to support the church without adding to its financial burden. The college was aligned with the principles and mission of the church, and workers and students were encouraged to support the church with their talents and finances. This close and complementary relationship between the church and lay ministries is essential to self-supporting work. It remains strong today in OCI and its ministries.
Counsel from Ellen White drives us and guides us in this work:
“The school at Madison…gives a practical training that fits the student to go forth as a self-supporting missionary to the field to which he is called. . . .They have been learning to become self-supporting, and a training more important than this they could not receive” (Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 423).
“Repeatedly the Lord has instructed us that we are to work the cities from outpost centers. In these cities we are to have houses of worship, as memorials for God, but institutions for the publication of our literature, for the healing of the sick, and for the training of workers, are to be established outside the cities. Especially is it important that our youth be shielded from the temptations of city life” (Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 358).
Setting the Standards
OCI strives to instill principles from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy into its work and the lives of its members. The standards below aim to express the principles that must be applied in a life dedicated to Christ. Each ministry is expected to implement these standards in their operation.
At the same time, these are principles, not rules; standards set to increase the effectiveness of our service, not limit our movements to a predefined range. Our recommendation is that each ministry uses these standards as a base for prayerfully defining its own targeted standards.
Standards For Christian Living
Our position on several topics is outlined in the paragraphs below. Click on the link following each summary for further information and references.
Salvation by Faith
Salvation is granted to us as a free gift, made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can do nothing to earn it through our behavior and deeds; we must simply accept His sacrifice.
All that we can possibly do to ensure our own salvation is to accept the invitation God has given us. (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1071) Christ has made the atonement in our behalf, and no act or service on our part can erase a single stain from our own robes. Only accepting the robe of righteousness cleansed in the blood of Jesus will enable us to stand faultless before God, justified by faith alone.
“Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety. The Lord speaks to His heavenly Father, saying: ‘This is My child. I reprieve him from the condemnation of death, giving him My life insurance policy—eternal life—because I have taken his place and have suffered for his sins. He is even My beloved son.’ Thus man, pardoned, and clothed with the beautiful garments of Christ’s righteousness, stands faultless before God” (Faith and Works, p. 103).
Relating to God
To remain spiritually alive, we need spiritual food. Without daily devotional Bible study and prayer, we will fall from the narrow path and lose our connection with God.
We joyfully accept a Substitute willing to bear the death our sins demand, and we marvel at that grace that can “keep us from falling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory.” (Jude 24) But that, of itself, is not enough. “Spiritual life [must be] maintained by spiritual food. The habit of devotional Bible study and prayer must be maintained if we are to perfect holiness.
“Only as we daily talk to God in prayer and listen to His voice speaking to us from the Bible, can we hope to live the life that is ‘hid with Christ in God’ or finish His work…’Through sincere prayer we are brought into connection with the mind of the infinite,’ but ‘without unceasing prayer and diligent watching, we are in danger of growing careless and of deviating from the right path’ ” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, p. 172).
Relating to Each Other
Just as Christ loved us more than Himself, so we are to put others before ourselves. We work toward the salvation of those around us, unmindful of any sacrifice necessary on our part.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39b NKJV). Not only are we to favor others as we favor ourselves, but we should favor others as God favors us, with a love so pure and powerful that we would sacrifice anything, life included, for the good of others. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…[He] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5, 7, 8 NKJV). [Therefore] “let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3, 4 NKJV).
“We should love and respect one another, notwithstanding the faults and imperfections that we cannot help seeing” (Steps to Christ, p. 121). The stricter the standards we adopt, the greater the hypocrisy if we do not, with the utmost care and tender regard, uphold one another.
Sabbath is a gift from God, a memorial of His creative powers and a foretaste of heaven. On the Sabbath, we set aside the cares of the world, and enter into spiritual rest with our Creator.
At the end of creation week, the Lord brought forth His crowning act—Adam. But Adam did not enter this world laboring, he entered life through rest (the Sabbath). Here God presented him the world as a gift.
Likewise, we enter eternal life through rest, not works. “The whole work is the Lord’s from the beginning to the end” (The Signs of the Times, March 6, 1893). “There remains therefore a rest (keeping of a sabbath, margin) for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall…” (Hebrews 4:9-11). We can’t but fall, if we don’t know to enter into His rest by ceasing from our own works.
The sacred institution of the Sabbath represents not only a memorial of His creative power, but a testimonial also of our trust-filled abandonment to His care. Once a week, God’s people blot out all else to bask in His presence. “In His presence is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forever more.” (Psalm 16:11) This is what the Sabbath should be like.
Reverence in Worship
As we worship our omnipotent Savior, a sense of awe overcomes us. Our steps, our voices, and our thoughts reflect a spirit of humility and reverence.
Christians who have any sense of God’s omnipotence, His holiness, and His love will always and under all circumstances manifest a spirit of deep reverence for Him, His word, and His worship. “Humility and reverence should characterize the deportment of all who come into the presence of God” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 252). They will recognize that “the hour and place of prayer are sacred, because God is there” (Gospel Workers, p. 178).
“The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
Health and Temperance
Our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temples, and it is our duty to take care of them. Good health allows us to live longer, more effective, and more enjoyable lives and keeps our minds running clearly so that we can best represent our Creator.
We advocate the eight natural principles for whole health—nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest, and trust in God.
“God has given us great light on the principles of health, and modern scientific research has abundantly verified these principles” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, p. 146). We are warned that those “who choose to follow their own preferences in this matter, eating and drinking as they please, will gradually grow careless of the instruction the Lord has given regarding other phases of the present truth and will lose their perception of what is truth” (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 402).
The Spirit of Prophecy gives us some specific guidelines:
To know the best foods, we must study God’s original plan for man’s diet. “Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet” (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 81).
“Diet reform should be progressive. [For example,] as disease in animals increases, the use of milk and eggs will become more and more unsafe. An effort should be made to supply their place with other things that are healthful and inexpensive” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 320).
“We do not mark out any precise line to be followed in diet” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 159). If you have no concerns about eating something, then do so and be glad. But, if you eat, doubting whether or not you should, then you are going against your beliefs, and that is wrong. Anything you do against your beliefs is a sin. (Romans 14:22, 23)
“‘Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,’ is the language of the apostle Peter…It is a most forcible warning against the use of such stimulants and narcotics as tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and morphine” (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 62).
Modesty and simplicity with good taste are to characterize our attire. We are representatives of Christ, not slaves to the latest trends.
True religion captivates the whole person, heart, mind, and soul. The person then becomes a “new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And, when confronted with a world of changing customs, where fashions are suited to prideful display, he/she recoils because of new tastes, new motives, and new desires. His/her dress is no longer “merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3, 4).
“To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith.” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 366).
On the other hand, the Christian’s clothing should be, when possible, “of good quality, of becoming colors, and suited for service. It should be chosen for durability rather than display” (Messages to Young People, p. 351). Our attire should be characterized by “the grace, the beauty, the appropriateness of natural simplicity” (Messages to Young People, p. 352).
Finally, we must know that our characters are revealed by the styles we adopt. “I saw,” says Ellen White, “that the outside appearance is an index to the heart” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 135). And she warns, “obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 647).
As Christians, our goal is to uplift Christ in all that we do, not by showy distractions, but by clearly presented love and truth. Extravagant displays serve only to mask an inner lack of confidence and assurance, but a life at peace in God will shine on its own.
Simplicity characterizes the life at rest in Christ. Insecurity, on the other hand, makes up by pomp and show what it lacks in inner power and self-assurance. By display and ostentation it hopes to command respect, but “to all this the life of Jesus presented a marked contrast…[Being] born amidst surroundings the rudest, sharing a peasant’s home…[and] identifying Himself with the world’s unknown toilers” (Education, p. 77). diminished by nothing the force of His true being and self-worth.
“In harmony with these principles, simplicity and economy should characterize our graduating exercises, the weddings in our churches, and all other church services” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, p. 148).
What we put into our brains is what we become. Reading material must be selected carefully, based on the standards laid out in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
“The mind…is built up by that upon which it feeds; and it rests with us to determine upon what it shall be fed” (The Faith I Live By, p. 20). “It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed. Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 91), because “the mind…gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is trained to dwell” (Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 418).
This applies with singular force to printed matter. “Of making many books,” declares Solomon, “there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). And notwithstanding the educational value in some of these endless publications, it is mostly a blend of ideas picked from the tree of good and evil. And the Lord admonishes us not to “[create] a distaste for life’s practical duties” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 383) by the reading of that which is fictitious, romantic, or nonessential.
Radio and television, like books, are valuable resources, but we must carefully select the things we listen to and watch.
Nothing educates the masses faster or more thoroughly than the medium of radio and television. Unfortunately, most of the programming is not supplied with heaven in mind. So “if we are not discriminating, [radio and television] will bring sordid programs right into our homes.”
“Safety for ourselves and our children is found in a determination, by God’s help, to follow the admonition of the apostle Paul: ‘Finally…whatever things are true…noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, p. 148).
Recreation and Entertainment
Recreation is activity designed to refresh and recharge the powers of body and mind. This we do with the glory of God in mind, engaging in activities that are uplifting and encourage harmony.
“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“Many of the amusements popular in the world today, even with those who claim to be Christians, tend to the same end as did those of the heathen. There are indeed few among them that Satan does not turn to account in destroying souls…. In every gathering for pleasure where pride is fostered or appetite indulged, where one is led to forget God and lose sight of eternal interests, there Satan is binding his chains about the soul.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 459).
It must also be recognized that any activity which fosters rivalry rather than loving cooperation is an offense to God, for its tendency is to strain the tender relationships we enjoy one with another.
Music is one of the most debated topics. Meant for our enjoyment and enhancement, it has been debased to the point where we must exercise the utmost care as we select the songs we listen to and perform. We seek out music that leads us closer to God without taking control of our emotions.
“Music was made to serve a holy purpose, to lift the thoughts to that which is pure, noble, and elevating, and to awaken in the soul devotion and gratitude to God” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 594). Jesus “held communion with heaven in song.” (The Desire of Ages, p. 73).
“Music is one of the highest arts. Good music not only gives pleasure, but elevates the mind and cultivates the finest qualities. God often has used spiritual songs to touch the hearts of sinners and lead to repentance” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, p. 149). But like everything else, music has been debased for the purpose of destroying the fine rhythms of the soul and for the breaking down of morality.
Courtship and Marriage
Within marriage we can experience a taste of God’s relationship to us. However, as we seek a partner for life, we must not be guided by misleading emotions. Entering into this relationship is a process to be enjoyed, but it is also a process requiring much prayer, guidance, and the highest level of self-discipline.
Because the natural attraction between men and women is so strong, it often plays into the hands of the enemy. History is replete with the stories of men and women, of otherwise faultless deportment, who have been overthrown by some subtle, seductive appeal from the opposite gender. ”Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
“Satan is busily engaged in influencing those who are wholly unsuited to each other to unite their interests. He exults in this work, for by it he can produce more misery and hopeless woe to the human family than by exercising his skill in any other direction” (Messages to Young People, p. 455).
As a matter of fact, “the majority of the marriages of our time, and the way in which they are conducted, make them one of the signs of the last days. Men and women are so persistent, so headstrong, that God is left out of the question. Religion is laid aside, as if it had no part to act in this solemn and important matter” (The Review and Herald, September 25, 1888).
“Early marriages are not to be encouraged. A relation so important as marriage and so far-reaching in its results should not be entered upon hastily, without sufficient preparation, and before the mental and physical powers are well developed” (Messages to Young People, p. 438).
- Seek a Believer: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). “However pure and correct one’s principles may be, the influence of an unbelieving companion will have a tendency to lead away from God” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 174).
- Weigh and Watch: “Let those who are contemplating marriage weigh every sentiment and watch every development of character in the one with whom they think to unite their life destiny” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 359).
- Pray: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). “If men and women are in the habit of praying twice a day before they contemplate marriage, they should pray four times a day when such a step is anticipated” (The Adventist Home, p. 71).
- Counsel: “In the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). “The reason that so grave mistakes are made by the youth is that they do not learn from the experience of those who have lived longer than they have” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 223). “If you are blessed with God-fearing parents, seek counsel of them. Open to them your hopes and plans, learn the lessons which their life experiences have taught, and you will be saved many a heartache” (Messages to Young People, p. 435).
Marriage “was designed to be a blessing to mankind. And it is a blessing wherever the marriage covenant is entered into intelligently, in the fear of God, and with due consideration for its responsibilities” (The Adventist Home, p. 18).
Christ is the center of our education. He is the One who created all that we study, and a greater knowledge and understanding of Him and His works leaves us better prepared to present Him to the unbelieving.
No education is worthy of the name if He “in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” is left out (Colossians 2:3).
“In the Teacher sent from God, all true educational work finds its center…In the presence of such a Teacher, of such opportunity for divine education, what worse than folly is it to seek an education apart from Him—to seek to be wise apart from Wisdom; to be true while rejecting Truth; to seek illumination apart from the Light, and existence without the Life; to turn from the Fountain of living waters, and hew out broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Education, p. 83).
- Jesus educates through the Bible: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
- Jesus educates by the Holy Spirit: “TheHelper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things” (John 14:26). “God can teach you more in one moment by His Holy Spirit than you could learn from the great men of the earth” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 119).
- Jesus educates through nature, useful work, and the experiences of life: “[Jesus’] education was gained directly from Heaven-appointed sources; from useful work, from the study of the Scriptures and of nature, and from the experiences of life—God’s lesson books, full of instruction to all who bring to them the willing hand, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart” (Education, p. 77).
God has provided us with instructions for our lifestyle that, when applied, give us healthier and happier lives. Based on that instruction, these standards are set, not as a rulebook, but as an expression of the heart, of our faith in Christ and our commitment to Him. They are vital as we consider the tri-fold aspect of our personality—mental, physical, and spiritual—realizing that how we live affects our spiritual experience as well as our representation of Christ to those around us.