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Are you from around here?

On our Honeymoon, Sue and I traveled through Canada to Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, we lost our way in the Canadian countryside. The kind farmer who helped said, “You are not from around here, are you?” So true.

In 2008, there was a movie called “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” While the plot escapes me, I do remember a conversation between Indiana Jones and Agent Irina Spalko. Jones said, “You’re not from around here, are you?” Agent Spalko said, “And ‘vere’ do you think I’m ‘vrom?” Sorry, but it still makes me laugh.

Born in San Antonio, obscure places like Schilos Deli, Kiddie Park, Frank’s Hog Stand, and the Japanese Tea Garden are familiar to me. And did you ever smell the fresh baked bread at the former Richter’s Butter Crust bakery on Broadway? You see, I'm from there.

But life required us to move. When Dad was called to pastor in Dallas, I started marching band in a new high school. One day the director told us to bring our “mothers” to school the next morning for a 6:30 AM practice on the football field. My mother was quite reluctant to come, but agreed to wait in the car until she saw other parents. When the director asked me why I had not brought my “mudders” (old shoes), I felt doomed. Yes, I was new around there.

As a recent college graduate and the new youth pastor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I felt I was ready for anything. The first youth service, a young teen asked me where the “bubbler” was. Who knew that a “bubbler” was a drinking fountain? Yes, I was not from around there.

When I was elected to pastor the church in Superior, Wisconsin, I did not know that you were supposed to wear a heavy winter coat to the Fourth of July fireworks event on the beach of Lake Superior. It was so cold my family almost froze. We were not from around there.

Finally, when I became pastor in Richmond, Texas, I asked directions to Lamar high school. They said, “The school is south of the old Walmart.” How could I ever know where the old Walmart was? I was not from around there!

As I enter my senior years, this world no longer feels like home. The stark changes in culture, politics, religion, and so much more, makes me feel detached, transient, almost foreign. What’s wrong with me? The Bible explains that I’m not from around here any more. When Christ became my Lord, my citizenship changed. Now, Heaven is my homeland (Philippians 3:20; 2 Peter 2:11).

The Apostle Paul expressed it best in Hebrews 11:13 ESV, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”

You see, we are not from around here any more!

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