Prepare!—For the preacher to be at his best, he must come to the sermon hour fresh from prayer, meditation, reading, study, and review—not distracted with routine problems that others should handle, not driven with the mechanics of his work, not worn out with the sheer drive of his multitudinous responsibilities. His own soul must have been touched with the divine fire. He must be conscious of bearing a message from God. One basic reason for so few sermons that really move men is that-the preacher does not or cannot take the time for requisite preparation. All too many catch up a seed thought, blend it with a ew texts and quotations, and trust to the inspiration of the moment. The result is all too apparent. No congregation can long be fooled by that procedure. They may not know what is wrong, but they are conscious that they are not getting that for which they long, and to which they are entitled. We must come from the powerhouse of prayer, the workshop of study, and the assembly room of thoughtful meditation if we are to move the, hearts of men and lead them to decisive action. Brethren, let us take time to prepare. Some things can go, but not sermon preparation—except at the price of cheating the people, disappointing God, and doing less than our best.
Orthodoxy!—It isn't so much "what is orthodox" about this or that item, that we need to know. Rather, it is the fundamentals 'of sound, virile Adventism that we need thoroughly to understand and preach and teach. It is not so much a list of borderline questions to be avoided, that should be our concern, but a clear, ringing, positive proclamation of the cardinal truths of the everlasting gospel that we are commissioned to herald. Our chief difficulty lies in the realm of our primary interest and . emphasis. Strong, constructive Adventist teachers and preachers, in whorn our workers have confidence, concentrate on the centralities of the faith. For such there is so much that is vital that there is little time left for trivialities on the periphery. There is so much that is foundational that there is little concern over minor, secondary minutiae. Oh, for the spirit of discernment and the sense of sound evaluation ! It is because some men teach pet theories and preach puerile speculations rather than the pure, clear, sure Word of God, that they get into misunderstanding and trouble, and their soundness and orthodoxy is questioned. They may be genuine Adventists, but they do not create that impression. They may believe this message, but that would scarcely be deduced from their terminology or their emphasis. Such need to reshape their emphasis. They need to go silent on doubtful matters, and to become stentorian on the great fundamentals of the faith. Then all will be well.
Depreciation!—In this cause we never truly advance our own branch of service by disparaging others. We cannot build our lay preaching, for instance, by depreciating the efforts of our ministers, and calling their efforts a virtual failure. The two forms of endeavor must go hand in hand, paralleling and collaborating. One cannot succeed without the help and support of the other. One is not destined to fail and be discarded, with the other taking over. The two will go along together until our common task is finished. The lay preacher must have the minister's support and guidance and his helping hand. Otherwise he gets out of his depth and flounders. The preacher must have the layman's strong help, else he can never compass his task. Let us emphasize our unity of purpose and our collaboration of effort. Let us banish all invidious comparisons and avoid contrasting compartments of service. "Our cause is one. Our various forces are all parts of a great whole, working for the salvation of souls and the glory of God, not of man.
Hindrances!—We can talk, pray, weep, and plead for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We can continue this program till doomsday without receiving this greatest gift from Heaven, if we harbor variance, strife,-suspicion, or selfish ambition in our hearts. The disciples had to come into one accord before Pentecost. They had to make wrongs right. They had to confess their alienations. They had to put away differences. They had to banish selfish ambition. They had to repudiate struggle for position. They had to rid the heart of resentment, and draw together in oneness of spirit and purpose. That took time. It took prayer and heart searching. It took manly courage. It took action. It took humiliation. It went to the root of the trouble and removed all hindering obstacles—every one of them. It superseded everything else. We could have the same blessed results, but we have not been willing to pay the price and to meet the conditions. This is the church's greatest need. There is no other way to obtain this greatest of all blessings.
What shall we do about it?
L. E. F.