Don’t waste your time on bones

I once suggested the necessity of reading a variety of authors and backgrounds to keep from becoming overly biased and ignorant. Then I wrote that this requires chewing on the meat and spitting out the bones since no author is perfect. Now I’m writing that some books, sermons, podcasts, etc., are simply not worth wasting your time on at all. Here’s what I mean, to further my last analogy…

I was once at a bar-b-que where the main course was chicken. I grabbed a couple of wings and threw them on my plate next to a generous helping of mashed potatoes (my mouth is watering as I write this), sat down, already famished, and began devouring a wing. To my dismay, there wasn’t anything there to begin with—the only bit of existing meat lie deep between stacks of chicken bones—I felt like I was trying to chew slivers of string cheese stapled to toothpicks. I took two small bites before throwing the remains back on my plate, and grabbed the other wing hoping for a better catch. No luck. Those emaciated chicken wings were so boney that it wasn’t even worth eating them at all. I should have stuck with my hunch and filled my whole plate with mashed potatoes! The moral of the story is:

Chicken wings don’t have enough meat on them to be worth your time—especially when there are thighs on the other serving table.

Authors, preachers, and speakers are basically the same. There are times when you feel like you are chewing on a chicken wing—sure, there’s a pocket of teriyaki sauce that globs up and whets your appetite when you bite it, but there’s not enough meat to make navigating those bones worthwhile—kind of like the preacher or author who constantly drops clever one-liners but without any substance. The earth is full of these! Do yourself a favor: find something else that will satisfy your hunger and don’t waste time on finger-food anymore.

It’s probably clear that no one out there will ever offer a perfect meal of words except for Jesus. But that’s why we read widely, chew on the meat, and spit out the bones—otherwise we wouldn’t learn anything. Just stick to those preachers and writers that actually have substance, or you’ll wake up with a mouth full of bone marrow, disgruntled because you can’t seem to figure out why there’s no spiritual growth in your life.

Perhaps because you’re not really eating?

About Lazo

Lazo is the pastor for preaching and vision at Reality SB where he is committed to challenging Santa Barbara's independence by calling the city to follow Jesus. You might like these blog posts, 5 Wrong Ways To Comfort Hurting Peoples, or Daisy Love and the Magic Eraser. You can follow Chris on twitter at @LazoChris.

Posted on May 31, 2013, in discipleship, preaching, quotes, reading, realitysb, Scripture, sermons, spiritual formation, theology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Jayse Anspach

    Hey Lazo, great post. How do you go about discerning whether a book, sermon, preacher, author, etc. is worthwhile? Is there some sort of criteria you use?

    • Thanks Jayse.
      I don’t have an exacting formula for this; I suppose it’s not always black and white. But my criteria is pretty simple: if something does not feed my soul and edify me, it may be a waste of time. This sounds pretty simple, but consider this. There are a lot of preachers who make me feel like my soul is being fed. Maybe it’s because they are really good communicators. Maybe it’s because every line out of their mouth is a sound-byte. Or maybe it’s because what their saying makes me feel better about myself. All of these can give me the impression that I’m getting fed, because I feel good. But if you uncover the fancy rhetoric, unpack the persuasive arguments, and dwell on the basic “thing” that they are teaching, is it Biblical truth? Is what they’re saying underneath all the beautiful language of any substance? And not only is it of biblical substance, but is it fiery biblical truth? I don’t want the Bible read to me like a kid. I want the Word of God to preach to my soul and mind.

      I guess that’s what it looks like for me. But it might be nuanced for everyone else. But we can surely start here: is it accurate? and is my mind trained by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit to know whether it is or not?

  2. Oh so true.

    Charles Swindoll in “Saying It Well:Touching Others With Your Words” refers to this as Longhorn sermon’s -a point here, a point there,and a lot o’ bull in between….”

    Sent from my iPad

    Sent from my iPad


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