Saturday, September 6, 2008


The coolness of this morning is a wonderful portent of fall. Mist drifts off the roof as the first rays of the Sun warm the heavy dew that collected in the early morning hours. The birds are beginning to awaken and gather. Black-capped chickadees, cardinals, ring-necked and Mexican doves, common sparrows, house finches, gold finches, purple finches, an occasional jay and our family of warblers come each morning to feed. The hummingbirds are beginning to swarm the feeders as they prepare to make their migratory pilgrammage south. None of them would be here if not for the feeders. Less of them would be here if it were not for the specific seeds and nectar those feeders hold. The gold finches come for the thistle, the doves for the millet, and the cardinals for the sunflower seed. None of them care for the nectar in the hummingbird feeders, and the hummingbirds care nothing for their seeds. Yet, they all gather in my backyard because I feed them.

I cannot help but think about feeding people spiritually as I watch the birds. One man told me recently, "I like the way you preach. You use lots of Scripture. I don't like it when a preacher just takes one verse, and then spends an hour hooping and hollering." Then again, I remember the time a woman told me she did not like my preaching, that I did not hoop or holler' enough. There is a balance in feeding people spiritually between the truth of Scripture and the culture of the hearer. The proclaimer must remain true to the truths of God while communicating them in languages that can be understood. It is interesting that we have no trouble understanding the need for the translation of English into Spanish or Mandarin, but are often resistant to translate our seminary vocabulary into the common Greek of the day (the cultures in which we live).

Food has always been part of our lives. In the beginning, God placed us in a garden filled with it. Covenants and treaties have include the ritual meal and cup. Church fellowships are filled with chicken and deviled eggs. Even the remembrance of Christ's death includes eating and drinking. Yet, food was also part of the first temptation. That is the way it is with spiritual food.

We need it, but sometimes we do not want what we need. Sometimes we like the millet, but need the thistle. Those who preach to us and teach us are tempted to serve only those foods we like; to tickle our ears rather than to pierce our hearts. And they are sometimes tempted to reach to the heights of theological vocabulary and preach messages that will impress seminarians and pulpit committees, while their hearers go home hungry; unable to understand the truths they heard so eloquently orated.


Garrett Starr said...

I remember a conversation that we had once in which I asked you if you would ever do ministry of any other kind, mission or discipleship or whatever. Your response was immediate: "If I couldn't preach the Word of God, I would die." Thanks for this post. Knowing that I just ended a forty day fast praying for the men of my church, coupled with the fact that you are currently in a forty day fast for your church, blesses me beyond what I am able to express. My prayer for us is that we would always keep Jesus Christ between us, and that we will always be found faithful in proclaiming Him crucified and risen. May our Lord bless you, my brother. Philemon 1:4-7