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.

Advertisements

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 18 February 2016

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Mark 14, verses 39-40.

The spirit is indeed willing and the flesh is indeed weak.   Knowing that, we can easily relate to the sleepy Apostles.

Let’s cut a little slack to the Apostles because, well, after all, they’re human.   They were tired.   No, they were exhausted.   These verses occurred very early in the morning, perhaps around 2 or 3 AM. After tramping all around Jerusalem on Thursday, then the last supper, then some incredibly wrenching personal time with Jesus, they were exhausted.

“I would have done better.   I would have stayed up.”

Sure you would, pal.   Don’t forget there wasn’t a Denny’s open at that time.   Around AD33 you couldn’t run to the local QT to get a cup of fresh coffee.   You and I might have wanted to stay awake and keep watch, but in the end, after chatting with our mates, we probably would have quietly sat down and nodded off…just like they did. It’s all the more real when you think that they weren’t sitting there in North Face jackets with thermal sleeping bags.   No, on a cold Judean night in the springtime (think 40-50 degrees), they sat on the hard ground, perhaps against stone walls, wearing thin robes, skirts or tunics and sandals.   I’m thinking they didn’t stretch out to relax.   I’m betting they huddled together to keep warm.

Then they were alarmed when Jesus came back and He was disappointed in them.   They didn’t know what to say.

Now, I’ll confess how I’m getting old by saying that I don’t see how young people can sleep so much.   My kids, they can sleep for hours, sometimes 8-12 hours at a stretch. I don’t think I could count on one hand how many times I’ve slept that long in my entire life and I’m nearly 50. Try waking up one of my kids when they’re asleep and you’ll get a disoriented, probably crabby hot mess. Ask them a question and you’ll likely get a vacant response.   Should it be surprising, then, if that’s the same response Jesus got from His sleeping disciples?   And they hadn’t even been asleep for 10 hours.

Yes, they should have kept a better watch; so should we.   Could they have eased Jesus’ anxiety over what was happening?   Perhaps; we’ll never know. Jesus wanted them to keep watch with Him just like He wants us to keep watch with Him every day of our lives.   He upbraided them to watch out and resist temptation because He knew that their best defense against a Satan on offense was to watch and be ready when sin tempts. He’ll do that same thing for you and I, speaking to our hearts, speaking to us through conscience.  When we are tempted, He’ll speak to us in ways that appeal to our hearts.   “Don’t do it.”   “You shouldn’t.”   “Stop now.” Those are good things to know because we will each find ourselves in moments of temptation every single day.   It’s a fair bet to assume that, like the Apostles, we won’t know what to say when that happens.

Lord Jesus, abide with me.   Remind me to avoid temptation and help me to resist.

Read Mark 14, verses 32-41.

Practical Proverbial, from Ruth, 1 April 2014

Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Ruth 4, verse 1.

I’m thinking of writing a management book.  In truth, I think management and self-help books are dreadfully boring.  Usually I don’t read them, preferring to rely on the Word, experience, mentoring from good coaches, and advice from friends in how to deal with various situations.  So it may surprise you when I say that I’m thinking of writing a self-help book on good management principles.   This book would be centered on management principles found in the Bible.  One of them is contained in verse 1 of Ruth 4:  Interaction.

If you want to manage an issue, interact.   Don’t just communicate.   Don’t just become informed.   Don’t just be friendly.   Interact.  Actively interact in a Godly manner.   Get down in the dirt, get real, and get busy.

That’s what Boaz did.   He’s seeking out information on the status of his prospective bride.   As was the custom of his people, he wanted to preserve Ruth’s dignity (and his own) by deferring to another potential suitor if, in fact, that suitor was interested in Ruth.  Boaz didn’t get on Facebook to dish about the other guy.   He didn’t hang out at Starbucks looking like some west coast coffee house stereotype.   And he didn’t play hard to get, or get bent out of shape that he had to put himself out in public. 

Boaz interacted.   He put himself into a situation and then participated in it; he put forth effort to do something he wouldn’t otherwise have done, something unusual dictated by unusual circumstances.   Boaz acted rather than reacted, and he did so to avoid conflict.   What’s more, he sought out the other man in friendship.   There were matters to be discussed; serious matters of the future and peoples’ welfare.  Boaz got involved, got his information, by getting interactive.   In the verses to come, we get to see how well he succeeded.

And that’s why I’m thinking of writing a book about people like Boaz and how Biblical principles and practices are good management advice.

Jesus, show me where You want me to interact today.   Put me in front of people, and in situations, and wherever You want me to be so that I might be Your ambassador.

 

Read Ruth 4.