Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 8 August 2017

If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  Hebrews 11, verses 15-16.

More thoughts on the idea of longing for a country.

As we talked about, the country we long for is indeed with God.   I go back and forth with the idea that “heaven is our home.”   That’s great talk, but what about now?   Here and now, people die.   Here and now, it’s tough to pay the bills.   Here and now is all we truly know about.  I’m all for heaven but what can help me here and now?

Don’t mind me:  as my grandpa might have said, ‘it’s just piss and wind.’  What can help me here and now is quite apparent.   His name is Jesus, and He is the Son of the Three in One Godhead.  His perfect sacrifice made it possible for me to stand in front of my perfect Father and say “forgive me, Father, because I’ve really messed things up.”   Because of Jesus, I know my Father will pick me up and embrace me and tell me “I’m so glad to see you again, Dave.   I love you.”   I know all this because the Spirit Jesus and His Father share teaches it to me.   He has all my life, even in the doubting times.   In the days when I’ve wanted to give in, His Spirit said “one more time.”   In the times I’ve wandered, He has said “follow Me.”   What can help us here and now?   You know.

So what will the city look like?   Beats me.   None of us knows.   All we know is that we’ll see Jesus there in full and we’ll be both known and knowing.  It’ll be beautiful and it’ll be forever.   Personally, I’m hoping for a farm on a cool spring morning, with smells of the earth and growing and life.   I’m hoping there will be fishing in the sun, hot coffee in the sunrise, and fellowship with the loved ones (which will mean everyone).

I hope for those things because some of those things are memories I have from the here and now.  Walking barefoot in loamy black soil and tending good things as they grow.  Of fishing with my pals in the mountains, or with my boys way north in Minnesota, or with my Dad and Grandpa on those same lakes.   I think of mugs of hot coffee with my Hunnie during our morning devotions, or the taste of good coffee from a cool morning campfire pot.   I think about times with my family, and friends I’ve known for decades, and of basking in the love of togetherness.  Good scotch on the rocks, all the dogs I’ve ever owned, waking up to the smell of biscuits and butter, and warm summer nights under a blanket of lush stars.   These are things that warm my visions of heaven, of the country I long for still.  How about you?

Intertwined in all of them, participating in every scene, and holding all these visions together is my friend and Savior, Jesus.   He’ll be there to talk with, and learn from, to listen, to love.  And I’ll get to praise Him with my words and songs and moments.    All my life I have wandered, sometimes wandering very far from where I should have been.   Yet in all those moments, I always hoped for more, hoped for something better than where I found myself.  If that had been my only hope, then I would have gotten what I wanted (and found it eternally lacking).   No, even when I feel I’ve let my God down, He’s never let me down.   Through it all, He’s always brought me back and kept me looking forward, looking forward to that undiscovered country where He lives.

I don’t know where that city is, but I know I’m on the road that leads there.   You and I, we weren’t made for imperfection.  We were made to live in full harmony with God in His heaven.   In that respect, heaven is indeed our home, or it will be.   Until then, we wander here.

For further reading:  Genesis 24:6-8, 2 Timothy 4:18, Mark 8:38, Genesis 26:24, Exodus 3:6-15, Hebrews 13:14.

Lord, I long to be home with You.   Until You call me there, wander with me.

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Daily Proverbial, from James, 14 January 2014

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.  James 5, verse 12.

James is simply echoing his brother, Jesus, who said much the same thing.   And for much the same reason.   And that reason is?

Verbosity.   Wordiness.  Something from which I suffer.

Biscuits are great.  I like to say I make the best ones in Texas.   They’re light, flaky, fluffy, golden brown, and chock full of butter.   That’s the secret, you know:  butter.   You can never have too much butter.  Gravy is pretty great, too; I make pretty darn good gravy as well.   Put them together and you have a staple of a southern breakfast.   Alone, they are one or the other; together they are much more.   Alone, your body can quickly metabolize a biscuit, or a serving of gravy; you probably won’t gain weight.  Add them together, however, and you get a host of complex carbohydrates, fats, and calories that will both fill you up and weigh you down.  I think I’m still carrying about 100 biscuits and gravy from 20111.  But, you know, I LOVE a good breakfast, and nothing says ‘comfort food’ like a plate of my homemade biscuits and an iron skillet full of Jimmy Dean gravy.  They’re really easy to make; I don’t understand why more people don’t have them for breakfast.   In fact, if you come around my house on Saturday morning, you can pull up a chair and we’ll chow down on the best biscuits and gravy in the old Confederacy.

Terrible analogy?   Maybe, but it serves a point.   It says too much.  Like my words do here.  Sometimes.  Sometimes there is much to say, but I don’t need to make a show of saying it.   Who remembers what Edward Everett Horton said one Pennsylvania November morning?   He spoke for over two hours, and while I’m sure it was good, it wasn’t memorable.  Or helpful.   But everyone remembers what Abraham Lincoln said that same day, 150 years ago.   It’s called “The Gettysburg Address.”  

Old Abe, he didn’t waste words, or swear by this or that, or try to embellish to puff himself up.   He left it at facts, simple opinions, and colorful but pointed stories.   We remember that.   So does the Lord.

The better way is to be plainspoken, and to not waste words.  Let your meaning speak through the fog of language by using plain, simple, easy to understand words.   In doing so, you paint yourself as honest and forthright.   In doing so, you show the world that you’re true to God.  That’s the point Jesus and James are making here.  

Lord, help me to be plainspoken for You.

 

Are you verbose?

Do you mangle a syllable?

In what ways do you talk too much and take away from God what is His?