Pet Store Theology

A woman went to a pet store and purchased a parrot. She returned the next day complaining the parrot had not said a word.

“Does it have a mirror?” asked the storekeeper. “Parrots are more talkative when they can see themselves.” So, she bought a mirror.

The next day she was back, announcing the bird still wasn’t speaking. “What parrotabout a ladder?” the storekeeper asked. “Parrots like to walk up and down ladders.” She bought the bird a ladder and went home. The next day, she was back. Still nothing…

The storekeeper suggested a little swing for the cage. She bought one of those, but the parrot still didn’t utter a sound.

The following day she returned to the store to announce the bird had died. The storekeeper said, “I’m terribly sorry to hear that. Did the bird ever say anything before it died?”

“Yes,” replied the woman. “It said, ‘Don’t they sell any food down there at the pet store?”‘

Sometimes the answers to life’s problems are right before us, but we just can’t see them. This poor parrot had the misfortune of having a master with no basic understanding of pet ownership.

“Our calling as Christians is to walk in the ways of Christ.”

We in the church are often like that owner. The woman’s basic drive to buy the parrot seemed to be the novelty of owning a talking bird. She was so focused on making that happen, she ignored the most basic of answers to her dilemma.

Our calling as Christians is to walk in the ways of Christ. That calling is, in many ways, very basic. Yet we often do an end run around the obvious answers and try to come up with cooler, more unique ways of “being Christian.”

One of the basic calls of Christ in our lives is to feed the hungry (i.e., see Matthew 25—the parable of the sheep and goats). Jesus not only told us to do this, he prodded the disciples to act on it as well. Remember the feeding of the 5000?

The disciples saw that the people were hungry. They mentioned it to Jesus and urged him to send them away to get something to eat. We all remember this story because of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. What we often forget is what Jesus told the disciples prior to performing the miracle.

WorldHungerHis answer to their suggestion to send them away was basically, “You feed them.” Of course,  they argued they didn’t have enough, and the rest is history.

I’m always taken by the simplicity of his directive to them. Just feed them.

Do we wait until we have enough before we feed anyone? What is enough? This can’t be enough, can it? In the meantime, people are starving.

“What a novel way to begin.”

I often think of one of the early missions set up primarily to feed people. When asked how he was going to feed so many of the world’s hungry people, the founder simply said, “One at a time.”

What a novel way to begin.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

Does Anyone Know for Sure?

A guy texted me the other day and asked, “What does IDK stand for?” So I texted back and said, “I don’t know.” He shot right back and exclaimed, “OMG! NOBODY DOES!”

I’m not exactly sure, but I’m thinking this is a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. It was quite funny when it happened, but I’ve been on the other end of these situations, and it can be rather embarrassing. TextingAbbreviations

It points up a problem that many of us have (at least I hope I’m not the only one—misery loves company, you know). I get so focused on some things that I can’t see any of the peripheral details. Being hyper-focused like that can be dangerous.

For one thing, it causes me to assume (and you know what happens when we assume). I assume everyone else knows what I know, sees what I see, understands what I understand, and totally gets me. That’s otherwise known as thinking everyone can read my mind. It leads to a lack of communication. Since I think all around me are on the same page (MY page), I don’t shell out enough detail for the other folks to actually get on the same page with me.

“Introverted preachers are the worst kind.”

Add that to the fact that I don’t like to talk much (introverted preachers are the worst kind), and we have a recipe for disaster. I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble over the years for this kind of behavior (or should I say, non-behavior). At any rate, I’ve been known to make an ass-out-of-u-and-me.

There is no better example of this than what I do to my beloved bride. I always assume I’ve told her everything when, in fact, I’ve told her next to nothing. For some reason, my brain tells me, “Since I’ve thought it, I must have said it.” My poor wife has learned more personal things during my Sunday sermons than she has in our living room. It’s a truly embarrassing problem—and one I have never quite been able to overcome.

“Assume no one knows anything.”

The best way to overcome this malady, I’m sure, is to assume the exact opposite. That is to say, assume no one knows anything. That, of course, is dangerous as well; but it’s often called “erring on the side of caution.” Any caution I’ve ever had in this area has long been thrown to the wind. Heaven help me.

Interestingly enough, I’ve often been applauded for my brevity. People like that because it doesn’t take up too much of their time. While that seems like a good goal, it often falls far short of my unstated intentions.

mom-funnyI’ve said all this to say, “Leave no stone unturned.” As one who has oft worked in the rocky soil of Virginia, that old saying leaves me cold. But as one who finds himself in hot water, I must attempt to adopt it forthwith.

As it says in Holy Scripture, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”


[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

Don’t Hog All the Covers

Occasionally, I’ll wake up and realize most of the covers are on my side of the bed. I hate that because I know I’m in trouble when it happens. I’m not exactly sure what the cause of that sporadic faux pas might be. If I recall correctly, I used to be one that would go to bed in a certain position and wake up without having moved.

While hogging the covers is never my intention, I seem to do it more and more. I don’t know if it has anything to do with old age, but I would love to get over it. For oneEsther-in-Bed-750x563 thing, it would be good for marital relations. Being selfish with anything is not exactly coming from a position of strength.

I was reading Psalm 85 the other day and ran across a line that spoke of covers. Well… Actually, it was a reference to our sins being covered, but it’s the same principle (sort of). Here’s the reference just so we’re clear: “You, Lord, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins.”

As Christians, we believe we’re the bearers of the truth. The truth, as Jesus said, will set you free. God’s forgiveness, according to the Psalmist, is what covers our sin. The Father sends the Son (Jesus) to be the sacrifice for our sin. We hear the call of God, approach the throne of grace, and are forgiven. The blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, washes away our sin, and we are covered.

As bearers of the truth that can set people free, we are called to share that Good News. When we fail to do so, we are (in essence) hogging the covers. (You were waiting for me to get back to that, weren’t you?)

Hogging the covers is never good. It certainly isn’t good when we’re commissioned to share the wealth, so to speak. The sad part about hogging the covers is that you can’t use the extras. If I pull all the covers off my wife, I’ll be in control of more of the blanket, but I’m not going to get any warmer.Hogging Covers

It’s the same with our salvation. We can hog the truth of the Gospel to ourselves, but it’s not going to get us more redemption. It’s only going to leave others out in the cold.

I know the Lord can do whatever he wants. If he’s going to save some poor soul, he can do it without me. The cool thing is this: He gives us the opportunity to be a part of what he’s doing—winning souls.

In essence, he hands us a few extra blankets and tells us to share them with those who might want and need them. We can stick them in the linen closet of our lives, or we can try to distribute them. It’s our choice.

Roll over, piglet. You’re beginning to snort.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

Eating Our Way Toward Heaven

A kindergarten teacher gave her class a “show and tell” assignment.  Each student was instructed to bring an object that represented their faith to share with the class. One student got up in front of the class and said, “My name is Benjamin and I am Jewish and this is a Star of David.” A second student rose and said, “My name is Mary. I’m a Catholic and this is a Rosary.” A third student got in up front of the class and said, “My name is Tommy. I’m Methodist and this is a casserole.”

Did you ever wonder why eating plays such an important role in the gathering we call church? I’ve heard people complain about that practice, but there bad-eating-habbitare good reasons for it. First of all, we have to eat to live. It’s natural, necessary, and (if we do it right) healthy. If we’re going to spend time together, eating will eventually become a necessary and desirable thing.

Regardless of our reasoning, there’s one motivation that stands out for Christians to sup together. We don’t often think about it, but it should be the underlying intention behind every moment we sit at table together. That reason is Biblical theology.

Check out the Gospels sometime. Count the number of times they record Jesus eating with people. Some of the best lessons come out of these times.

When Jesus went to people’s homes and reclined at table with them, he was identifying with them. He was demonstrating that he was one of them. It’s not much different today.

“I will come in and eat with that person.”

Usually, when we ask someone to dinner (or accept a dinner invitation), it’s because we either identify with those folks or want to identify with them. They mean something to us. They are important to us in some way. If that’s not the case, we don’t make (or accept) those invitations.

It’s no accident that Jesus once said, “I will come in and eat with that person.” That statement is part of a passage in Revelation where Jesus gives a famous invitation. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”baby-girl-eating

Jesus depicts himself as standing in front of our house (or life) knocking on our door. He is not merely rapping, however. He must be speaking (or yelling), because he wants us to hear his voice through the walls of our house.

Eating is an intimate act.

The intent is not merely to get our attention. It’s to get us to open the door and let him in. But it doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t simply want to sit in our parlor. He wants to sit down at our kitchen table and eat with us.

Eating becomes an intimate act—one we don’t share with just anyone. Jesus wants to be an intimate part of our lives and for us to share that intimacy with others. I say, “It’s time to eat!”

 [Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]