Posts Tagged ‘God is good’

My post are going to take a decidedly different turn this morning from my usual gourmet and gab. In my “other life” I travel around the world trying to make a difference–and tasting a wide variety of world flavors. Yes, it takes quite a passion to lure me from my home nestled in the Pisgah National Forest, among the Blue Ridge Mountains. But, I do venture out and most often it is to places such as East and West Africa, India and the middle East.  So far, my travels have taken me to mud villages, refugee camps and the world’s largest slums!  There’s no glamour in it, and to see my trip photos (bad hair, no make-up, clothes meant for comfort and not fashion), well lets just say that “humbling” is the word of the day! 

Chief and Elders of Tribe

Chief and Elders of Tribe

Last September (2008), my journey took me to Kenya.  I work with the poorest of the poor because it is their heart-cry that I hear (but who are truly the richest in spirit!)  While in Kenya, my host pastor, Bishop Omukhobero took me to meet a chief and the people of a Maasai tribe.  I shared some thoughts with them about why God would send a blonde-haired, white-skinned woman all the way across the great Atlantic Ocean to go out and meet with them. Those thoughts were simply this:  God loves them and He wants them to know that He loves them.  As it says in Malachi 1:1 and God said, “I have loved you from the beginning..” (my paraphrase).  (In other words, Jerry McGuire style, “You had me at hello!”)  That is what I believe God sent me there to tell them: He has loved them from the beginning, before they ever heard about him or knew of him, before they ever desired to build a church, God loved them.  Even before they were born, as they were yet in their mother’s wombs, the Bible says that God knew them. Before they ever jumped and danced and sang to worship and honor him, He loved them!  And, He will love them if they never build their church, never jump and dance and sing about His Glory again! 

The Maasai people have a tradition of selecting one male among every tribe who is the “scapegoat”. He carries the sins of the tribe on his shoulders. I explained to them that God loves them so much that He sent his very own Son to be their scapegoat, to carry the sins of the entire world on his shoulders.  I explained to them that they do not have to do anything to earn God’s love, it is freely given.  They do not have to do anything to earn His Son as their scapegoat, He has freely given Himself to be the one, all they have to do is accept Him into their hearts and their lives.  Afterward, about 16-20 people came forward to accept this gift of a scapegoat whose name is Yeshua (Jesus).  

Their elders had given land to build a church/school for their people (this was before I ever knew of them, it’s not to my credit or otherwise, that they gave the land.)  They’ve been waiting for someone to build this church/school and to dig a well for them.  I realized when I was there that I might be the person they had been waiting for.  I told them I wouldn’t make any promises but I would come home and see if I could raise enough funds to help them see their dreams become a reality.  Then, I came home and committed myself to this mission.  After all, they aren’t asking for St. Peter’s cathedral, they simply want a shelter in which to worship God and a place to teach their children, a school for their kids. They want water that the women don’t have to walk 7 kilometers to find, water that is clean and pure and doesn’t carry disease.  (The same things most of us desire, a place to worship God, a safe school for our kids, fresh and safe water to drink–a better quality of life by anyone’s standards.)

Susan Jokes around with Lion Killers

Susan Jokes around with Lion Killers

Sometimes I say to myself, “I’m only one person what can I do?”  Maybe you have said the same thing to your own self. It seems that there are a lot of problems in this world that I can’t solve. I can’t solve world hunger, or the problems between nations and religions. I can’t solve poverty and I can’t solve the political problems in Chicago or in D.C.  But, I figure that there are a few things I can do.  I can put shoes on the feet of children who run barefoot through filth and garbage–one pair at a time.  I can build one church/school building with the help of a few key people. I can put school books in the hands of children who have never seen one, let alone owned their own– one child at a time.  I can reach my hand out to one person who is sinking in despair, and draw them to a safer ground. Maybe with the right sponsor, I’ll even be able to dig a well for a tribe of people who have no fresh water! I figure,  if I can do this one person at a time, what could an entire team do?

In September 2009 I’ll be leading a team of 15-20 people on a journey of a lifetime.  Together, we will build a church/school for the Maasai tribe who has welcomed me as one of their own.  We will provide school books and materials for their children, educational posters for the new school, and teach them about health and hygiene and how to protect themselves against the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Another part of our team will be renovating a children’s center in Nairobi which serves children from the slums of both Mathare and Kibera, the world’s second and third largest slums in the world, where over 100,000 orphans struggle daily for life, and women with hearts of gold take them in to give them shelter and share their family’s own meager meals.  We’ll supply books and school supplies, take a few more pair of shoes for the kids (I took about 25-30 pair on my last trip there–most of which were donated by a local school teacher and a couple of her students here in my home town) andput them on those who need them.  We’ll host a Vacation Bible School with music and theatrical skits and games for 100-300 orphans and street kids, and help provide breakfast and lunch for them.  We’ll extend our hands and our hearts.  We’ll also have some time for a “safari” (which means journey) to Nairobi National Wildlife Reserves, the Rothschild Giraffe Center, the infamous Carnivores Restaraunt and the Butterfly Center.  We’ll travel into the bushlands between Kenya and Tanzania, and we will share a journey of a lifetime.  We will worship together and eat together and probably shed a few tears together.

Will it change the world? Yes!  For those who make this journey of a lifetime with TEAM KENYA 2009, their world will change!  For those whose lives we encounter, whose hands we reach out to, and whose hearts we touch, their world will change.  For the Maasai tribe who finally gets their dreams fulfilled of having a church and school, their world will change! Will the crisis in Iran and Afghanistan and the USA be effected, I can’t say that it will. But, if we change the world one person, one village, one orphanage, one child, one pair of feet, one hand reaching out, one heart reaching up, one church, one school at a time–then eventually the world will change.

Some Kids from Children's Center with Me

Some Kids from Children's Center with Me

The cost:  basic trip is 16 days, departure is from an airport in N.C.  $2950.00 (most people spend more than that on a week at the beach!) and includes:

Airfare to and from airport of departure (In NC) to Nairobi Kenya; room in a very comfortable guest house in Nairobi and near the Maasai land for those building the church/school; breakfast and dinner/supper while in Kenya; ground transportation in Kenya; safari to Nairobi National Wildlife Reserve; Day at RothchildGiraffe Center; (for extended stay a day at the Butterfly Center where 1000’s of species can be found, some with wing spans in excess of 17 centimeters); Dinner and evening at the infamous Carnivores Restaurant; TEAM Kenya 2009 training event with meal and lodging in June; training manual and travel journal; TEAM KENYA 2009 T-shirt and hat– and the journey of a lifetime!

What is not included: Passport and Visa fees, health insurance, lunch (generally lunch can be purchased for less than $2.oo and a bag lunch is optional), meals in Airports, personal items, extra luggage fees, travel to and from departure airport in N.C., taxes and gratuities, beverages, cost of immunizations.

We are currently accepting applications for TEAM MEMBERS.  TEAM Kenya 2009 is hosted by Lydia Ministries International, a 501 (3) (c) non-profit organization and donations may be tax deductible.  If you would like to join us, please contact me today for an application and registration form.  You may contact me by leaving a comment. I’ll get it and send you an email Or, You can go to www.lydiaministry.com and there is contact information there.  DATES Team Members need to know:   Deposits and application deadline: May 15thJune 6th: TEAM Kenya Training day (we are going to play games, meet your roommates (unless you are travelling with your spouse and will share a room), checking forms, passports and visas, immunization records, health forms, and share a meal or two together!  We’ll talk about what to pack (and what NOT to pack), cultural awareness issues, and our itinerary– questions and answers, etc.  and did I say, EAT!  September 7th: TEAM Kenya 2009 Team Leaders depart for Kenya.  September 9th: Team Kenya 2009 Team members depart for Kenya. September 22nd, Team Members depart from Kenya to return to states and should arrive in NC on the 23rdExtended Team stay will depart Kenya on September 28th.

Remember, our TEAM Member positions are quickly filling up!  We are seeking team members who have building skills, teaching skills, painting skills (can you paint a wall?),  work with a VBS setting with lots and lots of children:), carry blocks and stir mortar.  Also we are especially seeking someone with advanced Medical: ie a doctor or nurse willing to give two-three weeks for medical mission work (physicals, minor medical care, etc. for orphans and for Maasai tribe members and for several hundred impovershed pastors and their families, who can oversee the AIDS and Health/Hygiene training,  and who can provide any necessary emergency care for TEAM Kenya 2009 members (we hope you WON’T have anything to do in that situation!)– and who can also wield a hammer or paint brush (just kidding)!  Make no mistake, this is a work team, and we will all work together as a Team to complete all phases of the work,.  If you have a physical limitation don’t hesitate to contact me,  we will do everything within our power to help make this possible for you!

Please help us get the word out:  TEAM KENYA 2009!  Now that’s Change you can count on!  CHANGE your World! CHANGE their World! CHANGE Our World! 

If you can’t go on this journey with us, but would like to contribute, please contact me.  We need financial donations. 100% of every dime given to Lydia Ministries International goes to the work of the ministry. As Founder and Director, I do not receive a salary. All work is performed by volunteers.  If you can’t make a financial donation there are still many ways to donate:  school supplies, school text books, posters for the school and children’s center (think educational, medical, dental (showing the physiology of the human body), shoes, Sunday School literature, Bibles, uniforms for children (they wear school uniforms (we need about 200 school uniforms in an array of sizes for girls (skirts and dresses) and boys (shorts and slacks), over the counter medicines, sealed for their protection; toothbrushes and toothpaste. This is just a partial list. Please contact us.  Remember, Lydia Ministries International is a 501 (3) (c) non-profit organization.


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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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