Thursday, October 18, 2007

Driving Force

When someone greets me, and says... "Hey, howzitgoin'??", I often answer, "Good!" , usually meaning something like, "Oh, it's Ok, you know.... could be better, could be worse". It kind of becomes a patterned response.

I like to drive. And when I drive on highways, where I have opportunity to put my mind on cruise control, my car becomes many things... a think tank, a prayer closet, or where I blog in my head. As I was driving this morning, I was thinking about the word, good. And I realized I really don't have a clue how good good really is. My notion of good has become somewhat generic.

And then, I remembered that good is a word from God's vocabulary.

When God created everything there is, He said it was good. In Hebrew, the word used is towb,and means pleasant, valuable in estimation, and happy. It also stands for excellent, better, and best. While we seemingly have the need to qualify 'good' by degrees -- good, better, best -- God's word for 'good' included them all. Jesus said, "No one is good -- but God alone." That makes being good a pretty high calling, and wishing someone good, a great blessing. In fact, the original Old English word for 'good' was 'god' (lower case g).

So, I am more thoughtful now of what I call good. Telling someone to 'have a good day' takes on greater implications. The term good-looking is even a greater complement; a good-natured person is someone I really want to hang around; good-to-go is a confidence builder.

But, I got tripped up on this one... good-bye. I don't like good-byes. They mostly make me cry and usually don't leave me feeling very, ... good. Except that I've learned the word's origin comes from the Old English phrase, "God be with ye", which eventually became... good-bye. It helps a little.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Risky Business

I've often found myself in situations that really stretch my comfort zone. There are times when I'd rather say 'no' to the offer of doing something that challenges my perceptions of my abilities, or requires me to trust in God's provision, or is just plain hard to accomplish. But when I take a deep breath, give myself a pep-talk, and assure myself it's God's will for me, I'll be like Gumby and streeeeeeeetttttttcccccch.

For example, the first time I was invited to lead a small group at our church, I actually prayed that no one would come, so I'd be 'off the hook'. But some came, and we joined in a lasting and fulfilling relationship for many years to follow. Long story short, I'm glad I did it for many reasons.

So, when I was reading in my Bible this morning, and a parable I've read many times hit me in a 'new' way, I got to thinking... uh, oh. Now what?? The story I read was in the Gospel of Matthew, 25:14-30. Nestled between the parables of the Ten Virgins (some of whom weren't ready) and the Sheep and Goats (some of whom weren't willing), is the account of the man who takes a journey and entrusts his property to some of his servants (all of whom were able).

The guy gives 5 talents (about $10,000) to one servant, 2 talents ($4,000) to another and 1 talent ($2,000) to a third, according to their ability. This means it wasn't a flippant distribution; the man knew something about his servants'... talents... and he gave them what would challenge them, but not overwhelm them. Then, he left them for a long time.

The first 2 fellas took what they were given, and used it. In fact, the effectiveness of the resources doubled when combined with their ability. And even though the first guy had a bigger ROI, the master praised both of them equally and identically, invited them to celebrate with him, rewarded them, and... gave them more to do.

The third guy, who claimed to be afraid of losing the investment, played it safe and buried it. He apparently didn't trust his master's assessment of his ability. His boss berated his reluctance to take a risk. He called him wicked, and lazy. Then he took away what he had given him, and had him thrown off his property, into the darkness where there will be weeping and 'gnashing of teeth'. In New Testament times, the idiom 'gnashing of teeth' signified disappointment and agony of spirit. Kind of what you feel when you realize you missed your chance, and there's no going back.

I know this parable speaks of many things, but to me, today, it was a call to be ready, and willing to take a risk, as I am able. Though I'm tempted at times to dig a hole and crawl in it, thinking I'll be comfortable, or safe, I realize that's being lazy. It's actually wicked to not use what He's given me, and to not trust that He knows what He's up to.

I think Gumby is a bit goofy looking. But, he's always smiling.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I really struggled with writing this post.
I hate that I even have to.
But sometimes we do hard things, even when we don't want to.

Some of my previous postings have mentioned our dog, Maggie. I've told some funny stories about her, and how she was impacting my daily routine and life. So, it only seems appropriate, now, to tell that this past week, Maggie died. And I've been very sad, and I miss her much. I confess that I never imagined that losing a dog would impact me the way it has, or that after 5 days, I'd still be tearful about it.

Maggie was 14 years old, ...I'm told that's an equivalent to 98 human years for a dog. And, she was struggling getting around, and needed our help to even get up. At least she struggles no more.

Earlier this year our pastor answered a child's question about pets going to heaven. It made me feel a little better. Can you guess what my prayer is?