Pastor, You Have Onion Breath

“This tastes like the cow got into an onion patch”.

If you’ve watched Napoleon Dynamite more than a couple of times you know what that quote is from. Young Napoleon is taste testing milk for an FFA competition. If you’ve ever lived in a rural community and had milk from a cow you also know that onion-tasting milk is a legit thing.

Unless you like your milk with a nice oniony flavor, you don’t drink milk when the cow gets into an onion patch. It’s nauseating. Her milk is no longer fit for consumption.

Some preaching is like milk from a cow eating onions, it’s nauseating. That’s why Paul told young Timothy to “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies”. If Timothy eats from that patch of grass then he’s going to feed his congregation the same worthless fodder that he is consuming.

Pastor, if you spend your time indulging in foolish and ignorant controversies your people will suffer. Do you really think that you can feed on hours of controversial articles, blog comments, theological debates, etc. and it not effect your preaching? It does. They can smell your onion breath.

What are foolish and ignorant controversies?

“Certainly,” you argue, “there are important issues that we are fighting about that are not  foolish and ignorant controversies.” That’s tricky isn’t it? Wild onions often look like grass. You might not know that your cow is eating from an onion patch by looking from a distance. But you’ll know when you go to drink the milk.

Having a heart bent towards these foolish and ignorant controversies will cause you to preach the wrong point. Rather than using John 3:16 to exult in the love of God for undeserving sinners you’ll use it as ammunition against Calvinists. Or you’ll use Ephesians 1 to preach against non-Calvinists, instead of standing in awe of accomplishment of God in our salvation.

That’s a cow in an onion patch.

Pastors, I urge you to stop. Stop spending so much time eating from the onion patch of controversial blogs. Even if you are consuming these for the sole purpose of rolling your eyes at the crazies. Just stop.

Feast on that which edifies your own soul. That’s the test. If the books and articles you read cause you to burp onions, you know that you’ve spent your time foolishly. Likewise, if you are encouraged and emboldened in your love for Christ, you’ll likely feed your congregation wholesome milk.

Steer clear of the onion patch, your congregation is begging you.


  1. Steve Miller says

    Any article beginning with a Napoleon Dynamite quote is worth reading. That’s why I usually skip the ones by Dave Miller.

  2. dr. james willingham says

    Reminds me of when Ol’ Jersey got in what they called “dog fennel”(sp.?). Talk about a yuck taste. It made even the oniony stuff taste good. Now as to the issue of preaching. I have always, when I had the opportunity, preached the text that God laid on my heart, and some of what I preached was a straight forward exposition of a chapter in the Bible (like I Cors.13) or a series of sermons on a subject (like salvation, missions, prayer, or some Christian doctrine). But I have also found that I could be accused of holding a theology and men rather than God as the cause of salvation, revivals, etc., even when all I was doing was citing or referring to some of our ancestors and predecessors in the ministry. Do those who hold to Sovereign Grace or Calvinism now become persona non gratia on this blog as they have on its opposite number, even when one does not write or comment in anyway vituperative against someone he might be trying to answer?

    • says

      Forgive my ignorance. I’ve read this sentence three times now and cannot understand your question. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that you are asking are “Calvinist now unwelcome on this site even if they aren’t bitter and abusive”. But for the life of me I can’t understand why you are asking this or who the question is directed to.

  3. cb scott says

    Napolean Dynamite was once the President of Auburn University. He was chosen due to having written his dissertation on “Why Some Cows Have Onion Breath And Some Cows Have Clover Breath.”

    ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!! A Threepeat is in the air!!!! I can feel it, can’t you? You know you can!!! Even BUZZARD-EYES, DUCKS, TAR-HEELS, and LONGHORNS know it.


      • cb scott says


        Far be it from me to tell any man that his dreams are hopeless, but I must state, in all honesty, an ACC Fan having a dream of an ACC NATION winning a National Championship from any SEC NATION is hopeless and an exercise in futility.

        • Tarheel says

          Y’all gotta beat Auburn first…

          Seminoles have a lot easier path than you fellas to the championship game. Y’all gotta bet Auburn, then win a tough SEC championship game.

          Fir the Seminoles they got Florida Saturday (Gators stink bad this year) Then the ACC championship….neither Duke, UNC, or VT can compete with FSU.

          It very well could end up being the Seminoles vs. someone OTHER than the TIDE. 😉

          • cb scott says


            If you will simply read your own comment with an open and analytical mind, using even the slightest understanding of the game as played in the SEC in comparison as to how it is played in the ACC, you will come to the stark reality as to why the next National Champions of the FOOTBALL UNIVERSE shall be the SABANATION for the third (3rd) consecutive (That means three times in a row.) season.

            Yes, my NC friend, a Threepeat is in the air.

            ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!

    • Les Prouty says

      Uh CB, as I type this I’m in the Lovliest Village on the Plains. The cow college in the cow town is prepping for the Tidy boys from Jordan Hare West. I’m looking for an upset of magnificent proportions.

      All America will be tuned in to see if the surprise boys of the SEC, who no one gives a chance, can rise up and beat back the mighty Tide who already has their name etched on the national champ trophy.

      War Eagle!

      • cb scott says

        Les Prouty,

        Glad to read of your being in the National Capital of the FOOTBALL Universe, the sovereign state of Alabama, where there are more National Championships claimed just in the last four years than most states can claim since the first FOOTBALL game ever graced the gridiron.

        Now, with that sentiment shared between us, let’s get down to the business at hand.

        I agree that the AUBURN NATION has displayed remarkable improvement this year and at some time in a future season (probably within three or four), you will be able to once again cheer the little goat herders, chicken feeders, and ‘tater growers from down on the Plains to a National Championship. No doubt the AUBURN NATION and the VOLUNTEER NATION will soon have their days of glory once again as will most all SEC NATIONS simply because there is no other Conference that can attain such glory on a FOOTBALL field. We are the SEC. We are the BEST! We own the Sport of FOOTBALL!!

        However, my AUBURN NATION friend, it ain’t gonna happen this year. You will just have to wait for a better day.

        Why? Because we are ALABAMA! We are the CRIMSON TIDE!! We are FOOTBALL!!!

        ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!

  4. Tom Jefferson says

    The few times a year i am directed to this blog site – enticed by a baptist state paper editor – i always smell onions.

    i’m outta here; back to the green pastures.

  5. Tarheel says

    Mike, great article.

    I personally find it difficult at times to “argue” on blogs without being argumentative. Especially when it’s something I’m particularly passionate about. It’s a struggle I’m cognizant of.

    Some of you are somehow able to accomplish that task….maybe you who have this mastered can help those of us who struggle?

    (sarcasm is not at all intended in this post)

    • says

      I don’t believe that I have this mastered, but I do believe that I have grown exponentially in this area. I credit two things, along with the Scriptures, that the Holy Spirit has used to help me.

      1. This letter by John Newton.

      2. My wife. She has such an irenic spirit. Now, you can’t have my wife–but I think the lesson is to have people in your life (very close people) that have a much more irenic spirit. Accept their correction and trust their judgment when they say something doesn’t sound loving.

      • says

        P.S. Your parenthesis of (sarcasm not at all intended) is also a helpful thing to do. I always try to err on the side of clarity and making obvious my intentions. It’s annoying to have to do this so often–but it’s so much less annoying than having to go on a merry-go-round trying to explain what you really meant.

      • Nick Horton says

        The letter by John Newton is excellent. I read it once or twice a year. Before I repented and believed in Christ, I had a large penchant for argument of any kind. I reveled in the combat. My goal was to tear down, because I wanted to prove myself to be always right.

        I read something from Jonathan Leeman where he defined love as, “the lover’s affirmation of and affection for the beloved and the beloved’s good in the Holy.” So not only should I love someone just “because,” but I should desire their good in God. My love then must include a desire that they come to more fully know God.

        So, now when I enter discussions I have to assess a few things;
        1. Why am I discussing this? To be right, or to point them to God?
        2. Will the argument advance or harm the cause of Christ? Taking in to account the defense of His glory and honor must come above my own.
        3. Will I make a difference or have I argued the same thing with the same person before? See number 1.
        4. Is the discussion worth having for the audience’s edification? This applies more to public debate and online discussion.

        Just a few things I had to ask myself so that I don’t use my tongue to set fire to the world, which is so easy to do.