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You Have the Bread

By T. Ray Rachels

Tell me, if you can, what this means.

Last May, the Internal Revenue Service mailed out proposed regulations that it said were “necessary to address specific problems in the current 263. A regulation that affects persons who elect to use the simplified production or resale methods with historic absorption ratio election.”

What? Say that again.

Try to understand this: “The shared introduction that prefaces this priority and the priority on improving services and supports to children with emotional disturbances and their families should focus on strengths, family-centered and family-driven planning, implementation and evaluation, as well as an injunction that all aspects of service delivery should be culturally competent.” (Hint: This is a memo from the U.S. Department of Education explaining how money is to be spent at rehabilitation centers.)

Gobbledygook. Circumlocution and linguistic fog.

It reminds me of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s story about a Texas politician. Known for incessant rambling, the Texan began his speech by talking about the beautiful piney woods of East Texas. He then took his audience down along the Gulf Coast, across to the hill country, up through Dallas, past the bluebonnets and plains, over to the oilfields, up to Amarillo, then back again to the piney woods. An old man in the back of the room, having heard enough, stood and yelled, “The next time you pass Lubbock, how about letting me off?”

For pastors, as difficult as it is, part of our task as communicators of the world’s greatest message, God’s Word, is to say it straight, with simplicity, and to provide all the windows possible for people to get the message.

My friend, Paul Palmer, recently gave an example of illustrating truth with clarity: A missionary heard a knock on the door of his African hut. On answering the door he found a native boy holding up a large fish. The boy said, “Preacher, you taught us to give at least one tenth. Here is my tenth.”

As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the young boy, “Where are the other nine fish?”

At this, the boy beamed and said, “They are still in the river. I am going back to catch them now.”

Do we give our first fish or the last fish after we have figured out the math?

Explaining the Scriptures in a way that connects with people’s minds and hearts is hard work. It requires time alone to think, meditate, read, pray, research, observe; then you repeat the process. People with hurts and hungers who come to hear a word from the Lord, will respond eagerly and with appreciation to the healing that comes from the hard-earned words you speak.

No one wants someone to say, “The next time you pass Lubbock, how about letting me off?”

May you have a clear, compelling word from the Lord this week for the people who look to you as their pastor and teacher.

Spiritual hunger is everywhere and gnaws at the soul of our world. And you have the Bread.

T. RAY RACHELS, currently executive presbyter for The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Southwest Region, and former Southern California District superintendent, 1988–2010.

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