Chuck Swindol wrote about a lonely lady who went to the pet store to buy a parrot for companionship. She was assured that once the bird began to feel at home, she would have a friend for years. A week later she returned to complain that her bird was not talking. “Did you buy a mirror?” asked the owner. “When parrots look at themselves, words flow.” Hoping that would help she bought a mirror.
A few days later, she returned and complained that the bird still hadn’t uttered a peep. “Well, did you get a ladder? Parrots love to climb and need to feel comfortable.” She bought a ladder. The end of the next week, she returned grim and disappointed: Same complaint – no parrot talk. “Well, have you bought a swing?” She attached a swing.
Three days later she came storming in, slammed the door of the shop and demanded to speak to the owner. “He died this afternoon!” she blurted out.
“Died! Died? Did he ever talk?” asked the owner.
“Yes,” she responded. “He said just a few words as he breathed his last. ‘Don’t they sell any food at that store?’”
Swindol added, “We live in a day of religious mirrors, ladders and swings, where the majority of hungry souls are given empty promises and sold a bill of goods. There are lots of trinkets and gimmicks but no food… no solid substance to sustain life.” It’s like the once-famous commercial featuring a sweet little old lady standing at a fast food counter holding two buns and asking: “Where’s the beef?”
Could it be time to ask of yourself and the church you serve: “Where’s the beef?”
The Bible says it even better: “How sweet are your words to my taste; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life. Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119: 103-105) Look at the promises:
1.      How sweet are your words… God’s Word offers hope and forgiveness.
2.      They are sweeter than honey… God’s Word adds purpose and importance to our lives.
3.      Your commandments give me understanding… God’s word teaches right from wrong.
4.      I hate every false way… God’s Word gives you the desire to do what is right.
5.      Your word is a lamp for my feet… God’s Word provides a sense of direction.
6.      A light for my path… God’s Word is a source of encouragement during tough times.
Recently, I had the honor of attending a Bible study graduation for a group of high school students. The best part was watching each student stand up and participate in the service. You could positively feel their excitement. Over the past nine months these young people met every Wednesday evening and together they studied nearly eighty per cent of the Bible. Isn’t that amazing? Seeing their enthusiasm and energy inspired me to renew my own commitment as a pastor and writer. How are you doing?
U  Have you been feeding the “parrot?” What are you doing to strengthen your spiritual life? When is the last time you participated in a good Bible study?
U  “Where is the beef?” Is your spiritual life challenging? Does your church strive to teach God’s Word? What can you do to help? Are you praying for your church?
U  Are you sharing your food? Do you serve a ministry that is reaching out to the community? Here is a good question: If someone had a problem, would they come to you for help?
Somewhere… maybe just down the street, there is a heavenly “store” waiting to serve you. You will find a few mirrors. They may offer you a ladder or a swing but you don’t notice them right away because they are off to the side. What you immediately discover is the main aisle. Like a magnet, you are drawn to the bright lights and colorful displays but once you enter you can’t help but notice the mouth-watering variety of delicious food: appetizers, vegetables, grains and yes: “beef… lots of beef.”