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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Nehemiah 8:8, "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."

This morning, there are great misconceptions about how things need to be handled in the service of God.  There are those that want to do something "special for the children." They claim, "If we don't do something for the children, we're going to lose them." Well, if they are talking about adding something for the children, then I have some news for them. The other orders have been doing that for years, and they are losing them right and left. I once heard a statement made that I think has a lot of bearing on the state of the religious world today, "Much of the religious world today is a lot like Babylon of old. The people were happy when there were parties to go to. They were content when the feasting was in season. But, the empire crumbled when the people ran out of pleasure, and they could not be content with anything.  True contentment comes from happiness in a particular state, not happiness by gaining a particular state.  Therefore, these folks today are running out of
pleasure, and therefore, the church can't give them anything else. So, they pack up and leave."

Here, we are told what the children need, what the grown-ups need, and everyone in between needs. We all need to hear what the book of the Lord has to say.  There is nothing else that needs to be in our churches. Do preachers make references to experiences, illustrations, other writings, etc?  Certainly, but that should be like comparing ketchup to the burger (or whatever condiment you prefer).  These illustrations, etc are like the ketchup, but the meat of the matter is the word of the Lord. We cannot be fed on ketchup, and only the Lord's food will sustain and nourish. In this particular passage, ALL the congregation is gathered together to hear. There are not sections for different age groups. They all meet together. The reason that there are not separations is that there is NO NEED! There is no need to separate the children if the minister is
preaching as he should.  

Notice that they spoke distinctly, gave the sense, and caused the people to understand the words. Now, how can anyone be fed if they do not even know what is said?  It is incumbent upon the ministers to speak as clearly as possible. I once heard an older sister say, "Boy, he sure did some good preaching today." I asked her, "What did he preach about?" She responded, "I don't know, but didn't he sure do a fine job?" This is not preaching if folks cannot even tell you what a preacher is saying.  

After being distinct in the speaking, a preacher should make every effort to define his words, make clear his points, and apply them as simply as possible (without doing injustice to the principle as a whole). My dad once used the acronym S.E.A. to explain preaching. State the subject, Explain the subject, and Apply the subject.  

Finally, do it as simply as possible, and more people will understand, be made to rejoice, glorify their Father, and have spiritual edification. Then, after speaking distinctly and giving the sense, the congregation will be able to understand the word of the Lord. This goes from the children to the aged. They all feed together in the same place at the same time. Now, if the children (who are of age to learn) do not understand what the preacher says, then the preacher probably has not done a decent job at explaining things. Again, there is no need to separate anybody if the preaching is done in the correct manner.  

One final point, the preacher is not the only one in this equation. The Lord MUST bless if anything is going to be accomplished.  However, the congregation must prepare their ears, hearts, and minds to be receptive to the preaching.  Many times, I cannot blame the preacher for my lack of blessing or understanding, for I was in the wrong spirit and inattentive. However, if the Lord is blessing, the preacher is explaining and applying, and the people are listening, we will be made to understand the word of the Lord and be lifted up together. May we ever serve Him in Spirit and in truth.

In Hope,

Bro Philip