I MAKE NO secret of it.
My favorite meal consists of fried potatoes, fried cornbread and home-cooked pinto beans.
Oh yeah, and a slice or two of white onion.
Having become something of a connoisseur of pintos over the years, I’ve made a significant discovery – beans cooked quickly aren’t fit to eat.
Good beans have to soak overnight in salt water, then be boiled, then be left to simmer slowly in a pot on the stove.
We’re talking hours.
That’s why I’m unwilling to eat store bought, canned beans.
Canned bean aren’t worth the aluminum can and paper label that encases them.
Now that I think about it, that’s pretty much what they taste like – aluminum and paper.
Food processing factories leave out the most important ingredient in good beans.
You can’t hurry a good pot of pinto beans.
Gospel sermons are a lot like good beans because they require time.
They need several hours of mental industry and preparation.
A preacher can’t cook up a lesson late Saturday night before he goes to bed any more than you can microwave a bag of beans.
If a congregation expects a regular diet of well-balanced spiritual meals (John 6:27), then the preacher has to devote large blocks of time to his studies each week.
Sound, Bible-based sermons have to soak, then be boiled, and be allowed to simmer slowly in the recesses of his heart and mind.
Passages have to be explored.
Greek and Hebrew languages have to be researched.
Commentator insights have to be considered.
Relevant illustrations have to be chosen.
Thoughts have to be organized.
Immediate and remote contexts have to be deliberated.
Ancient cultures have to be brought to bear.
And I haven’t even mentioned prayer yet!
Brethren who sometimes maintain that their preacher spends too much time in his study fail to appreciate the true nature of his work.
A preacher is first and foremost of all a thinker.
He has to chew on and digest the Word himself before he can bring it to the table of the Lord (cf. Ezek. 3:1ff) on Sunday.
Paul told Timothy, “Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them…take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:13b, 15a, 16).
Are you hungry for real food (1 Pet. 2:2)?
Do you want to be nourished spiritually (1 Tim. 4:6).
Is your diet prompting growth and maturity in the inner man (Heb. 5:12-14)?
Canned beans aren’t fit to eat.
Neither are canned sermons.
Encourage your preacher in his studies.
Insist that he be a diligent student.
Make sure that he has sufficient time behind his desk, with his Bible, books, and computer.
When he’s able to cook for long periods of time, then you’re able to eat well.
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart…” (Jer. 15:16).