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I trust in Thy word.  Psalm 119:42

 

Have you ever prayed and asked God to give you courage, and then all of a sudden you realize that your life has been impacted by so many circumstances that require courage?  Perhaps it was not courage you prayed for, but strength in certain situations, and all of a sudden your strength was being challenged on a regular basis.  Or, maybe it was perseverance, and you found that you were having to persevere through one situation or circumstance after another. Maybe you have asked God to give you a spirit of kindness, an attitude of kindness — and you have encountered people time after time who made you want to be anything but kind!

When my children were little, I would pray continually and sincerely, that God would give me patience.  Soon after I started for praying for God to give me patience, I found that I was surrounded by “opportunities” in which practicing patience was required.  For example, my spouse’s career required that I quit college. We moved to a new town with our children one week before Christmas! Everything was packed and loaded by moving men. I didn’t have a clue where anything was, except that it was being stored on a moving truck.  We moved into a small hotel room, and the kids and I spent the next week trying to figure out how we fit into this picture.  At first, the children thought it was a fun adventure. But then, after so many re-runs on the limited hotel television and rainy weather, we were ready to move out of the hotel and into a box! 

Then the challenge went from worse to worser, as my grandson says!  The remodeling work being done on our new home was not yet finished.  The company wanted us to move out of the hotel,  so we rented a very small, very old mobile home from an older couple who lived in a nice house next door.   Christmas eve came and we moved into the tiny mobile home. I found one Christmas tree left over at a lot in town, and the man gave it to me for free.  Our lovely Christmas ornaments were packed somewhere on a truck that was in a place that only the moving company and God knew of!  I searched department stores for wrapping paper, and there was none left.  So, I wrapped the few presents I had been able to purchase for the children while they were with me — in comic newspapers.  I tied them with strips of wide ribbon I had purchased in the sewing department and placed them beneath the tree.  Christmas came and went, and we made it through with a few hidden tears on my part.

I drove by our new home daily and reminded myself that this “home-in-a-box” was temporary, and I learned that I could do anything for a short time.  But, days turned into weeks and a major blizzard hit the state.  December’s move-in date turned into January, and January turned into February.  We had two bedrooms smaller than most modern master baths, and a combined family of five children.   Daily I prayed, “Lord, Father, please give me patience, especially with the children and with this situation.”

I think that my sense of adventure helped some.  I would make a point to take the kids to explore our new community. We made long afternoons pass by at the library.  Lent came and we learned a new lesson in patience as it was our habit to give up television during Lent — except for Sundays.  Long winter evenings were passed sitting together on the small sofa, library books piled high — and we read more than 30 books a week.  Board games were abundant in our living room, and we found a renewed interest in puzzles.

Februrary turned into March, and we waited and anticipated. Then the March rains and ice storms came. The people  we were acquiring our home from had chosen a white carpet for the living room. We didn’t dare move in until the rains and the storms  passed and drier weather allowed the recently landscaped front lawn to turn to something other than a mire of mud.  As the days grew longerand spring came, I found that my patience had grown.   I learned a valuable lesson that year– be careful of what you ask God for!  God does answer prayers,  but His ways are not our ways.  While I wanted an instant injection of patience, my heavenly Abba knew that just like wheat, patience only grows with a little rain and a whole lotta of dirt and sunshine!

Eventually, after what seemed like years — we had the “go ahead” to move into our new home.  The moving truck arrived with out belongings which had been packed away so many months before hand.  In the big bedroom with the large bay windows that night, I realized that I missed the little home over the hill where we had so snuggly spent the past few months.  We had a new home, and our belongings had been returned to us. It was a lot like Christmas!  But, something more had come and that was patience, not only patience with the children, but patience with God’s timing and with life.

Psalm 119:42 says, “I will trust in Thy word.”  The original Hebrew word used in this passage is    בּטח    bâṭach,   which is pronounced baw-takh’ .  It can mean,  to “hide in” or to “take refuge in” or to “place one’s hope in” — to have faith in and in this case, David is saying that he is placing his faith in — he is taking refuge in — he is “hiding” in God’s word. 

Our world tells us that we need to trust ourselves, trust our instincts, trust our feelings, trust our intuition.  If I could tell you how many times I’ve trusted my feelings only to find that what I was feeling was not anywhere in the ballpark of what I should been doing!  I’ve made so many bad decisions and bad choices because I trusted my “instinct” or because I trusted my “intuition ” instead of trusting in God’s Word!  

When we place our faith anywhere except in God’s Word, we are just as apt to make a mistake as we are not. It is like the man who through coins up in the air, and as they came down he made his decision on whether they landed heads up or heads down — and he made that decision (heads up or down) by tossing another coin! 
Recently, I’ve been praying about faith. By recently, I mean over the past five to seven years!  I can look back now and see the footprints, the times when I’ve had to rely only on God’s Word to just get me through from one moment until the next — literally from minute to minute!  When I became a widow, my feelings, my intution, my emotions, and even many of my initial experiences told me that I was deserted by God and by the church — I was alone in the world. 
But, I knew God’s Word said,
 Heb 13:5  …. for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”

When everything said I was husbandless, God’s Word said,

“I am the advocate (husband) to the widow.” (Deut 10:18)

 When I felt that I had been plucked from the hand of God, God’s Word said,

“Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor anything above, nor anything below, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

 In founding and directing Lydia Ministries International, and in starting new ministries with LMI, such as Rachel’s Ministry and MOSES Ministry, I am constantly challenged to grow in faith.  What I always have to remember is to put faith where it belongs — in God’s Word. Why?
Because many times I’m presented with opportunities to minister, but the financial resources are not already present. In other words, the money is not yet in the bank and even the manpower of volunteers has not yet been received.  If I waited for volunteers to show up on the doorstep, or for the money to appear in the bank, I would never move forward in ministry. I would never respond to the requests of pastors and women around the world.  If I put faith in what I could see, I would not do anything, but stay at home and watch television!  I have to believe in my Abba’s Word, for His Word says, 

  Php 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

The word in the original Hebrew for supply,  πληρόω plēroō  and proncounced, play-ro’-o, means to make replete, literally to cram (like cramming a net full of fish, or a bowl full of berries), to level up, (like to fill-in any empty places, like leveling a pot hole and making it full) to furnish, to satisfy, to execute (such as an office), to finish (like a period of time or a task), to verify (to coincide with a predicition), to accomplish, to be complete, to fulfill, to perfect — to supply. 
In other words, I trust that God is going to make replete every need to accomplish His work that He has started in me. He will not be stingy with provision. He will fill up every low place where there is need; he will cram full every corner until it is filled with what has been lacking.  God Himself will furnish every volunteer and satisfy every need for helpers.  He will execute every office and unction that must be executed, and he will complete to perfection His plan.
When I take God’s Word at what it says, when I put my faith in God’s Word, when I rely on God’s Word, when I trust in God’s Word, and not in my own feelings or misgivings or sentimental judgements, then
                       “I know that I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13
As you pray and ask God for what is your heart, according to the riches of His Word, you can know that He will answer — but remember, our ways are not His ways. You do not have to fear asking God for anything, for He has said,

 

 

 

“What father among you, if his son asks for bread, would give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead of the fish?” Luke 11:11. 

 If we, who are not holy would be gracious unto our sons and daughters, how much more so can we trust God to be gracious to us. He is Holy and Good and Trustworthy. Therefore, do not be afraid to ask with reverance and awe, and He will answer according to His riches and glory in heaven.

 

 Please remember: TEAM KENYA 2009 is still accepting applications for volunteers for our September 9-23, 2009 mission to Kenya.  We especially need people who have a heart to work with orphans and street kids in the areas of dance, music, and drama productions, along with playing games and interacting with these precious kids.

We can still use a few key people who can help build a church for a Maasai tribe in Namanga on the border of Tanzania and Kenya.  Please contact us or visit  http://www.lydiaministry.com/teamkenya2009.html

Thank you and God bless! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Click here to listen Meg Hutchinson–Seeing Stars  While you are reading and cooking, please enjoy one of my favorite songs.

We all need to be comforted every now and then.  A child curls up on her mother’s lap and finds comfort from the “scaries” of the world; a lover clings to their “other’s” hand on life’s roller coaster ride; a friend weeps on another friends shoulder.  Comforting each other is a major part of relationships. 

When there’s a death in my community, the churches and neighbors gather around to comfort the families who are grieving. When my late husband died in 2005, the house was full of “comforters” and while I can’t tell you everyone who was there, I still carry their presence in my soul.  The comfort they gave to me then is still with me today.  When something takes me back in memory to that time, they are waiting there also to offer their comforting words and presence.

Only once in the New Testament  are we told that Jesus speaks and says, “Be of good comfort”, and that’s  in Matthew 9:22

“But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.”
The Greek word used there which is translated “comfort” actually means “to be of good cheer”.  Isn’t it ironic that in times when we are speaking comfort to someone who may be sad, or afraid, that we are actually encouraging them to be of good cheer?  I know when my late husband died, I felt anything but cheerful. I was as far away from cheerful as the sun is from the earth, as east is from west.  I can remember even grieving not only the loss of my husband and friend, and all he was to me and our family, but also grieving that happiness had left me.  I also remember the first time I laughed again.  But, it is what we have hope for, that even in the most dire circumstances, one day the sun will shine again, one day our hearts will leap within us, and we will find that comfort has truly returned to us and we are “of good cheer.”

Right now, Americans need to be comforted, we need to be reminded to “be of good cheer”.  Many are frightened about the future, and we have reason for concern.  However, we should not let fear rule us. Especially those of us who are Believers in the Son of God need to remember that there is one greater within us than the one who is in the world, and this One is the Holy Spirit. We also need to remember that “if God be for us, then who can be against us!”  I encourage you to “take comfort and be of good cheer”.

If you are like me, there are days when you need “comfort food”!  Of course, the best food to take comfort in is not the kind we eat, but the very Word of God!  However, if you need the kind that comforts the body, I’ve got just the thing!  Try my Tortellini and Shrimp Alfredo pasta dish.  I have to confess that I stole this one from my husband –well, I added my own little take on it(tomorrow, March 3rd, is the second anniversary of our first date and Friday we will have been married 19 months!  I’m so thankful that God blessed me with a “new” husband, and he is the best husband in the whole wide world–for me!) He’s also a great chef– and the cause of most of the pounds I’ve gained since we got married!

This recipe is quick (it takes less than 30 minutes, add a salad and some nice Texas toast or Ciabatta bread, with a little melted garlic butter brushed on and you’ve got dinner!) 

Tortellini and Shrimp Alfredo

Ingredients:

1 bag of frozen 20-30 count per pound medium shrimp (make it easy and get the peeled, deveined, cooked shrimp–remember this is supposed to be comfort food!)

1 bag of Barilla’s Tortellini (spinach and cheese or whatever you prefer)

2-3 Tbls Olive Oil

2-3 cloves garlic or 1/2- 1 Tsp from a jar of fresh minced garlic

Fresh ground black pepper and fresh grated sea salt to taste

5-6 leaves of fresh basil (more or less to taste)

1 Jar of Tomato Alfredo sauce  (if you don’t like tomatoes then use just the plain Alfredo sauce)

Couple of ounces of fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)

a handful of fresh baby spinach  (washed, drained, dried) or 1/4 cup of thawed frozen spinach, drained and squeezed dry with paper towels

Putting it all together—

  • Peel and devein your shrimp (or do like I do and buy the ones already prepared. I do remove the shell that’s left on the tails, but I try to keep the “tail meat” intact!) I use one bag of 20-30 ct. size shrimp– or whatever the grocer has on sale for that week. If the shimp are frozen I dump them into a pot of lightly salted boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and hold.
  • Prepare package of Barilla Tortellini (you can also use the larger Tortelloni if you wish)– I like to get in some extra nutrients so I use the spinach and cheese stuffed)  or you can use the type of Tortellini that you find in the refrigerated section of your grocers.  Cook according to directions. Drain and hold.
  • On medium heat, In a  deep saucepan or the bottom of a large dutch oven, (pre-heat your pan) then pour about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Saute 2 cloves of minced garlic. (I cheat and use the garlic that comes in a jar– I use about 1/2 teaspoon or more, I like garlic!)
  • Add in some fresh chopped basil, about a 1/4 cup. Saute for about one or two minutes.  You can use more or less to your own taste. I like basil and grow it from spring til late fall in planter boxes on our deck railings and in my herb garden both! 
  • Add in spinach. If you are using fresh spinach heat until nicely wilted.
  • Pour in one jar of Tomato Alfredo sauce  and stir——-(or make your own from heavy cream and Parmesan cheese–it only takes a few minutes and is so much tastier, add a little tomatosauce and you have a nice homemade Tomato Alfredo sauce)
  • I like to grate in some fresh Parmesan (you can never have to much Parmesan!), about a 1/4 cup or to taste! This is optional.
  • Crank in some fresh ground black pepper to taste.
  • Grind in some fresh  sea salt to taste.
  • Simmer this over medium low heat until it is nice and hot.
  • Next add your prepared shrimp and your prepared Tortellini pasta.  
  • Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes and it’s ready to eat. 

Ladel up a nice serving into a bowl or pretty dish.  Top with a bit of the freshly grated Parmesan cheese, give a little crank of black pepper, and toss on a leaf of fresh basil for garnish and you are ready to serve.

  Add your salad and your bread and dinner is served.  It actually took longer to type the recipe in than it does to prepare the dish! How comforting is that!  Be of Good Cheer my friends, be of good cheer!

The grandkids always ask for this dish when they come over to stay the night at their Nana’s and Poppy’s house. They love to dip their bread in the sauce, and our little Hannah Grace loves to eat the “shTrimp” most of all!  It’s deliciously yummy and capriciously easy!

 
 
 
 
 

 

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The United States of America has started this New Year of 2009, or 5769 on the Hebrew Calendar, with a new “Commander-in-Chief” and many new leaders, including a new “leading lady” in the White House.  I guess it would be fair to say that there are two new leading ladies in the White House, the first I was thinking of is Michelle Obama, and the other of course, Hillary Clinton (again).  Only history will tell the tale of how this period of time will play out. 

Have you ever thought about what it takes to be a leader?  As a woman, I think about women in leadership positions very often.  Only a handful of people will know  what it is like to have a leadership position so grand as Barack H. Obama now knows, after all,  he is only the 44th President the USA has ever known! But, our world is made up of everyday heros and our lives are filled with people around us who exhibit great leadership skills and abilities every day.

More importantly, every day we are faced with opportunities to be leaders–in our homes, our jobs, our communities, or among friends and family and neighbors.  It seems that sometimes it’s one small act that turns out to be a great act in history.  For instance, in the Bible there was woman named Deborah.  She is first introduced as the wife of– You can read all about her in the Book of Judges, Chapter 4.  Verse 4 says,

“And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.”

 So very often, we are known by the roles we lead in life.  It’s easy to lose ourselves in these identities, to become “the wife of” or “the mother of”  or “the daughter of”.  Deborah though was a woman in her own right, a leader among her people.  Because of her willingness to be a woman of faith and leadership and action, we are still blessed to have the people of Israel with us today!

Here is what happened, in a nutshell. Deborah was a judge (and a prophetess). As a judge, she would sit in a “public” place and the people would bring their disputes before Deborah.  One day, as Deborah was sitting court, so to speak, she had a “word” from G-d. So, in obedience, she calls Barak. Yes, you read that correctly, she called up Barak.  She told him that G-d had commanded him to go and take ten thousand soldiers and to engage Sisera, leader of the army of the Caananite King Jabin in battle… and, G-d would deliver the victory into Barak’s hands. King Jabin and Sisera and his army had oppressed the Israelite people for twenty years and the people had prayed and cried out to G-d. Now G-d was going to answer their prayers.

The interesting thing is that Barak refused to go– unless Deborah would lead them!  Barak knew that Deborah was a woman of G-d. Can you imagine, here is this great leader, Barak, telling this little woman Deborah, a judge and prophetess, introduced though as the “wife of –” that he would go, and he would take the ten thousand soldiers, but only if she led them?  How amazing is that!  Can you imagine the line up? Here’s Deborah, then Barak, and then ten thousand soldiers marching into war against an enemy equipped with over 900 chariots and his entire army!  This is an enemy that had oppressed the people  of Israel for over twenty years–that’s some intimidation there! 

Of course, being the woman of faith that Deborah was, she agreed, but she gave Barak this stern warning, (my paraphrase): I will lead you, but before you go you will have to know that because of this, you will get no glory for the win, because G-d is going to give the victory over Sisera to a woman!  Well, if you stop here in the story, it seems that it will be Deborah getting the glory, the honor, for the victory. So, here though go into battle–Deborah leading Barak leading ten thousand soliders! 

 But then, there is another woman of valor, another woman of leadership, a woman named “Jael”.

The story continues in verses 17-24 telling us how Sisera flees after his armies have been defeated and have literally fallen on their swords!  And where would Sisera flee to?  A mountain?  A dry wadi (river bed)? A cave?  No! Sisera makes the mistake to flee to another man’s wife’s tent!  Here is yet another woman introduced as “the wife of–”  Jael is the wife of  a man named “Heber”.  To get on with the story, Sisera fled to the tent of Jael and begged for her to hide him. 

Now, it appears that Jael was “just” a woman at home, doing her wifely duties of housework, when this opportunity of leadership would fall upon her.  Jael told  Sisera to come on in, take his shoes off and crawl in the bed.  She gave him some water to drink, threw the blankets over him and quickly he went off to sleep, tired from the lost battles and ohhh so very  nice and comfy.  Now, there is no indication that Jael commited adultry or did anything such as this with Sisera. She was “hiding” Sisera from the army of Barak and from Deborah.  When Sisera went to sleep, Jael did an amazing thing, she took a nail or spike and drove it through his head!  The Bible actually says she drove it through his temples into the ground!  One word of caution to any husband who might stop by Deliciously Capricious and read this: be careful not to hide out in another man’s wife’s tent!  Ok, back to the story, when Jael heard Barak pursuing  Sisera she went out to meet him and told him to come in and she would show him the man he was seeking–of course, there was Sisera, dead as a nail!  I guess you could say that Jael really had him pegged!

We can also see now that G-d kept His word (as G-d always does) and He delivered Sisera’s defeat into the hands of a woman, Jael.  Even now, thousands of years later, Barak doesn’t get the glory or the honor for the defeat of Sisera!  The honor goes instead to a housewife who was home doing what housewives do when opportunity came knocking at her door.

Every day we are faced with opportunities to be leaders. We are dealt choices to make and choose.  Deborah was a woman of G-d who was a leader in every way, she was a woman of great faith and wisdom and courage. Jael was a housewife, at home  minding her own buisness.  Both women were used by G-d and because of their faith and their willingness to act out their faith, the children of Israel prospered, and Israel is  even today a great nation of people of G-d.  Now that is delicious!

A Taste of Something Delicious:  Another recipe to entice the family to eat their “little trees” and it is simply delicious!

Yummy Broccoli Salad

2-3 cups of fresh Broccoli florets, washed and chopped  lightly

1-2 tablespoons raisins ( I like to mix the red and golden varieties together in this recipe)

1-2 tablespoons of dried cranberries or “Craisins”

1/4 cup chopped carrot

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (oh heck, use both!)

1-2 tablespoons mayo. or salad dressing (for even more healthy flavor try a Olive Oil based mayo!)

Toss the ingredients together, mix in mayo to your taste, and enjoy a Taste of Summer during these cold winter months!  With all of the crunch and the beta carotene from the broccoli and carrots, vitamins A and C, loads of folic acid and fiber you will fill great about eating this salad.  I have to mention those little red and gold raisins you throw in are full of little “blood cleaners” with lots of phytonutrients and antioxidants. They help to fight osteoporosis, macular degeneration and tooth decay (according to the folks at Oohoi.com).

Of course, if you need more encouragement to have this Yummy Broccoli Salad, the tannins in the cranberries have all sorts of healthy benefits, and most of us know that cranberries are great for the urinary tract!  If you choose a fat free mayo (better yet, one made of olive oil!) there is simply no reason not to have a healthy helping of this Yummy Broccoli Salad.  I love to serve this with a nice Hot Brown or a crisp hot panini!  Add a cup of delicious soup and it’s enough to make the cows come home on a snowy day.  I have to say it, it truly is “Deliciously Capricious!”

 

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Have you ever thought about what it means to say that something is “good”?  We say  “this pie tastes good” or “that soup was good”.  We say, “My dog is a good dog” or “My son is a good son”. We might say, “My husband and I have a good marriage.” If we are blessed, we might say “We have a good life” and when someone dies we often say, “He was a good man” or “She was a good woman”.  But what is it that we really mean when we say that something or someone is good?

Do we really mean, “I like the way this pie tastes, the crust was not burned!” Or, do we mean to imply “the soup had a consistency that was pleasing to me.”  Would it be more accurate to say, “the soup did not offend my taste buds.”  What do we really mean when we say, “This was a good man/woman.”  Do we mean that he or she was kind? Then why not just say that he was kind?  Do we mean that she gave to the poor or that she did not use four-letter words?  He didn’t kick the dog, or he always bought cookies from the Girl Scouts and popcorn from the Boy Scouts.  Then why not say that she was generous, that he was civic-minded or that she was not crude?  Is it simply just easier to use the word good? Do we do the word an injustice by using it in such a manner?

When a mother says her children have been good today does she mean that they did not hit each other, or that they did as they were told? Did they do their chores without complaint?  If so then why not say that they were kind to each other or that they were obedient?  Does a child understand when we say, “Be good in the grocery store and you’ll get a treat when we get home!”  Does that translate into “Don’t run around the store! Don’t beg for things I don’t intend to buy!  Don’t be loud and whatever you do, don’t embarrass me!”  It seems like that “being good” is a very ambiguous term as it used in modern English. Perhaps a better term more often would be “inocuous”. 

Speaking of modern English, according to http://www.thefreedictionary.com/good  the word, when used as an adjective has twenty different meanings!  It just goes to prove that “good” is difficult to describe or understand. Most often, it can only be understood in comparison to something that is “not good”.

good (gd)

adj. bet·ter (btr), best (bst)
1. Being positive or desirable in nature; not bad or poor: a good experience; good news from the hospital.(hmm, does that mean he didn’t die in the hospital, they didn’t take out the wrong body part?–red letter comments are from Capricously yours)
2. a. Having the qualities that are desirable or distinguishing in a particular thing: a good exterior paint; a good joke. (the paint doesn’t drip, peel, smear and requires only one coat; the joke is funny too most people, it’s not crude, it is crude…)
b. Serving the desired purpose or end; suitable: Is this a good dress for the party?(Will it get me noticed? Will I get “picked-up”? Does it show enough cleavage, not too much leg?)
3. a. Not spoiled or ruined: The milk is still good.(It’s not yet making curd- or it is making curd which is desireable for some recipes)
b. In excellent condition; sound: a good tooth.(This could mean any tooth to a toothless person!)
4. a. Superior to the average; satisfactory: a good student.(Does this mean the student doesn’t carry weapons to school, doesn’t threaten the teachers with bodily harm?)
b. Used formerly to refer to the U.S. Government grade of meat higher than standard and lower than choice.
5. a. Of high quality: good books.  (Many books that are considered “good” at one time are banned at others–take “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” for instance)
b. Discriminating: good taste. (To Muslims, good taste may mean that one doesn’t eat with the “common hand” or to a Jew it might mean that it is “Kosher”, in the south it is in good taste to arrive fashionably late, but never so to a funeral!)
6. Worthy of respect; honorable: ruined the family’s good name. (How does one ruin a “good name?” If it is good, then it can not be ruined–)
7. Attractive; handsome: good looks.(What one man finds attractive, another finds appalling– my husband likes a little “meat” on my bones, other men would find me to be unappealing. While I tend to be attracted to mean with “facial hair” (swashbuckling husband has a full beard) my mother finds a beard to be almost disgusting!)
8. Beneficial to health; salutary: a good night’s rest.(I don’t think enough Americans get one of these to make it definable!)
9. Competent; skilled: a good machinist.(He comes to work on time, does his job correctly, doesn’t steal from the company?)
10. Complete; thorough: a good workout. —-(Ok you get the point, and if you are with me this far, you must be a good friend!)
11. a. Reliable; sure: a good investment.
b. Valid or true: a good reason.
c. Genuine; real: a good dollar bill.
12. a. In effect; operative: a warranty good for two years; a driver’s license that is still good.
b. Able to continue in a specified activity: I’m good for another round of golf.
13. a. Able to pay or contribute: Is she good for the money that you lent her?
b. Able to elicit a specified reaction: He is always good for a laugh.
14. a. Ample; substantial: a good income.
b. Bountiful: a good table.
15. Full: It is a good mile from here.
16. a. Pleasant; enjoyable: had a good time at the party.
b. Propitious; favorable: good weather; a good omen.
17. a. Of moral excellence; upright: a good person.
b. Benevolent; kind: a good soul; a good heart.
c. Loyal; staunch: a good Republican.
18. a. Well-behaved; obedient: a good child.
b. Socially correct; proper: good manners.
19. Sports
a. Landing within bounds or within a particular area of a court and therefore in play: The first serve was wide, but the second was good.
b. Passing between the uprights of the goal and therefore scoring, as a field goal in football.
20. Used to form exclamatory phrases expressing surprise or dismay: Good heavens! Good grief!
See I told you– 20 definitions here to describe what could be considered “good”!

For Goodness sake, can someone please just tell me what it takes to be “Good”?  Perhaps the English just can’t do the word justice, so let’s see if the Biblical Hebrew of the word can help me with this quest to understand this word or concept of “good”.  If I did my research correctly, the word “good” is used 559 times in 517 verses in the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible. However, that is only for one word in Hebrew “tov” (Strong’s #H2896) and there are other words which are translated as “good”.  It’s all very confusing!  
G-d is the first to use the word “good” in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. In Gen 1:4 we read:  “And G-d saw the light, that it was good: and G-d divided the light from the darkness.” 

So, the first time in the Bible that G-d uses the word “good” (“tov” H2896) is to describe His own creation, “Light”. But, then I’m also reminded of the saying from 1 John, “G-d is Light and in him is no darkness.” 

 

 

And then, there is Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Yet, we know that it was not good for the woman and the man to eat of this fruit, for it is this act of disobedience which brought the judgement of death against all of life.  This was the fruit of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil.”  Before man had taken from the fruit of this tree he did not have responsiblity of his actions– he was not capable of knowing good and evil.  He only had to be obedient and live out eternity in blissful ignorance! He could have chosen to eat from the Tree of Life instead! Man and woman could run around naked in the garden, everthying bared before each other and G-d. There was no shame or guilt.  Everything was good! G-d had said it was! The only thing not good was to try to be like G-d–to try and discern that which was good and evil.

It is G-d alone who can pronounce that something is “good”.  Yet, even today, everyday, we try to discern good and evil–we try to play G-d. Tov is the Hebrew word for “good”. It is a judgement pronounced about something or someone’s worthy-ness or functionality.

In the New Testament, we read in Matt 19:17 “And he (Jesus) said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Jesus said this in response to a young man who came to him and said, “..Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”

I think Jesus was not saying that he himself was not good, but rather that truly He is G-d, Emmanuel–G-d with us– in the flesh.   I think he was also telling the young man, don’t try to be good–but keep the commandments.

As a child, my mother taught me to say this blessing before meals:

G-d is great. G-d is good.  Let us thank Him for this food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  eye_of_god

 ‘Tis truly the season of Light.  What does that mean to the cosmos? Capriciously speaking, it means there is reason to celebrate, it means that their is reason to be full of joy, even in the most difficult of times. What is this reason?  Is it simply about one day’s worth of lamp oil lasting for eight days? Is it simply about a baby being born in a manger? Or, is there more to it all?

I think we are looking into a dimly lit mirror and there is so much more to the mystery of G-d and the cosmos HaShem (The Name–G-d) created than we can imagine. We see a tiny point of Light, like looking at a star from earth and thinking that stars are tiny points of light, when they are great balls of light. G-d is so much greater than we can begin to fathom, and this season of Light is a time when I am reminded that G-d so very much wills that Light will shine in the darkness–His Light.

In the New Testament letter, 1 John,  John the Beloved disciple of Jesus tell us that he writes his message to us so that our joy may be full.  What is that message he refers to? It is the message that G-d is light, and in him there is no darkness.  Darkness–obscurity is the better translation of the Greek word used in the original text. In G-d there is no obscurity!  Why? Because G-d has revealed himself to us in the person of His son, Jesus (Yeshua). G-d wants us to know Him, to have a relationship with Him and with each other.

However, there is one thing that keeps us from this. Some people may say that it is sin. Of course, unrepented sin will keep us from having relationship with G-d, because, as John says, if “we say we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  However, once we confess that sin and accept the Gift from G-d, the Gift of redemption, then sin is not the problem. Why? Because, as John the beloved tells us, “…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

So, if sin is the not the problem that keeps the redeemed people of G-d from having relationship with Him and with His people, what is it?  It is darkness–it is obscurity.  It is that we want to hide who we are and what we are in the “darkness”, in obscurity. Because of pride and arrogance, we want to say that we have no sin, that we are perfect, and then we hide behind this facade of perfection.

Here is an illustration that I used recently at Bible study.  Jack and Jill appear to be a happy and well-adjusted married couple. Jack is a very likeable fellow, he is hard working and commited to his family. He is active in his faith community and is a leader there. There are those things in his life that he is working on, such as his tolerance of those who are different  and he is often impatient with people who works for him.

Jill is a likeable petite woman. She’s always fastidiously groomed and she pays careful attention that their home is beautifully decorated. Jill is also involved in their faith community and is a leader among the women there.

Jack is always very truthful and open with his wife.  This is the way he wants there marriage to be, very truthful and open.  He wants his wife to know the real him, warts and bumps and all. Jill, on the other hand, has some things that she keeps from Jack.  She has a lot of time on her hands, and during the days that Jack is away on buisness, Jill has started going to the Casinos on the Cherokee Reservation and gambling.  To hide her habit, she has started telling little “white lies” to Jack. When she pays the bills, she puts a little money aside and when she buys groceries, she tells Jack that she spent more at the grocery store than she did. Jack and Jill have never been ones to drink alcoholic beverages, other than an occasional glass of wine on special occasions. However, Jill has discovered that she likes to have cocktails at the casino, another secret that she is keeping from Jack.

At dinner one evening, Jack says to Jill, “One thing that I appreciate about our marriage and our relationship, Jill, is that we are both totally open with each other.  I like that we can have this trust and not have to always be wondering what the other person is up to.”  Jill looks across the table at Jack, she looks into his loving blue eyes, and she says, “I know Jack, that’s what I love about our marriage, teye-of-god-twooo.”

You see, too often this is how we are with G-d and each other. We are like Jill. We don’t want to admit that there are those things which we keep from G-d and from each other.  We make excuses for our poor choices and our uncontrolled habits, and we hide who we are and what we are doing, because we do not want to face the truth.  We hide in the darkness, the obscurity of our deceptions. We say we are transparent, but we may not be.  I guess the question would be, if one day, your life was to be played on international television, and everyone was going to be watching not only every action that you have ever acted out, but also every thought, feeling and motive–what would you want to “delete”?  At what part in the presentation of your life would you want to shout, “Cut”?  At what part would you not want your mom or dad or your husband, wife or kids to see?  Finally, at what point in this life presentation would you want to say, “G-d please don’t watch this.”  These are the things that keep us from G-d and from having real relationships with others, even ourselves.

In this season of Light, may G-d shine in our hearts, illuminating all that is there, so that we can get real with Him and with each other.  We can take courage in G-d’s grace, because as John said, “…if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 

Below are the New Testament verses for this meditation.

1Jn 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 1Jn 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that G-d is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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