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.

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 19 November 2015

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Mark 13, verses 1-2.

I grew up near the city.   We were always ‘townies’ whether the town was large or small.   Until just this past March, I never lived in the country even though I always wanted to.   Now, my house in the country is nothing fancy.   My wife and I specifically rented it because we wanted to live in a temporary place where we could decide if this was the place where we wanted to live.   It’s my hope that we’re close to being able to buy that land, to build up our business, to plant a vineyard where we’ll grow wine grapes, and, most of all, to establish a new means where we can carry to a new level the ‘second chance’ ministry that has been put on our hearts.

And, at the end of all things, none of it will be left standing.   Jesus said so.

But I’ll confess:   I still enjoy the city.   I grew up in Minneapolis where, in the early 1970s, the IDS corporation (which no longer even exists, I believe) built its headquarters building downtown.   I once thought it was the biggest building in the world, but it obviously wasn’t. Anyway, not long ago I walked by the front of the building and looked up at the top.   It’s impressive to see something so tall and magnificent rise up to the sky.   I’ve done the same thing at the Empire State Building, the Bank of America building in San Francisco, the (former) Sears Tower in Chicago, and even the old World Trade Center buildings before Osama took them down on 9/11.

At the end of all things, none of them will be left standing.   Jesus said so.

Cities are mankind’s monuments to commerce, community, and hubris yet they pale in comparison to even the words spoken by the Son of Man.   He who spoke the universe into existence and created us from dust still has dominion and power over the same creation.   I’m sure even Jesus is impressed by the Burj Khalifa but even that building is nothing compared to the simple power of Him.   Everything was under His control from the beginning; everything still is.

I find that thought comforting as the world around us seems to be spinning out of control.   War in the Middle East, a country (even a world) divided like never before, hard times that don’t ever seem to end; you name the crisis.   If you let it, worry about these things can overwhelm you, especially if you’re alone in the big city.   So I find it comforting, especially when my wife and I are “porching” in our rocking chairs near Paris, that Jesus is still Lord of Lords even over the most magnificent and imposing of human creations.   No matter where you are, no matter where you’re from, all you see around you there and now is still under the control of the same Jesus who was there at the start.

And He has big plans for it all.

Lord, You are so much more magnificent than anything else I can imagine.   Thank You for your grace, mercy and peace.

Read Mark 12, verses 13-17.