“Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents.”Hebrews 13:9 (RSV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
If you count the years I spent in Bible college, I’ve lived in Mississippi for almost 30 years. When non-Mississippians come for a visit, there’s a common question they ask: “What are these ‘Nabs’ you people are always talking about?”Well, when I was growing up in Arkansas, I sometimes ate Nabs, but we never called them Nabs. In Arkansas dialect we would say, “Would you like a little package of peanut-butter-crackers?” Translated into Mississippian that phrase is, “Do you want a pack of Nabs?”
Nabs are little packs of six stacks of crackers (two per stack) and they have filling in between. Some are toasty crackers, and some are cheesy crackers. Sometimes the crackers are square, and sometimes they’re round. Sometimes the filling is peanut butter, sometimes cheese.
Foreigners (not from The Magnolia State) often ask me, “Why do you call them Nabs if they don’t say Nabs on them?” Truth be told, there was a time when Nabs were labeled “Nabs”. I once saw one of those ancient, painted advertisements on the side of a three-story hotel. The ad (painted in the 1920’s) said, “Eat Nabs: They’re Good!” and it had a picture of the familiar peanut-butter-cheese-cracker delights, bearing the brand name Nabisco.
Nowadays, not everything we call Nabs are made by Nabisco. In Mississippi, we use Nabs as a universally generic term for the aforementioned cracker-snacks, the same way that “Jello” can be any brand of gelatin dessert, and a “Kleenex” can be anything you blow your nose on.
In Mississippi, we don’t just eat Nabs, we rely on them. Nabs are available, storable, portable, and give us the strength to do what has to be done. If the terrorists wanted to destroy Mississippi, all they would have to do would be to poison the Nab factories.Then, either the strychnine would kill us, or we would have no Nabs to eat and, thus, be too weak to get anything done.
All joking aside, weakness is a tragic condition, and it’s one we can find ourselves in if we’re not careful. How do you strengthen yourself for God’s work in your life? A familiar meal-time prayer is, “Strengthen our physical bodies that we might render spiritual service.” That’s a good prayer. We do need to keep our bodies strengthened with good meals (and an occasional pack of Nabs). In addition to that, the Scriptures promise that God will strengthen our hearts by His grace, if we seek Him. This week, may this be our prayer: “Father, strengthen me in every way, unto every good work, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” * Sing that to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi.He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where you can find Nabs in the kitchen and also in the glove compartment). You should drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.