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Choose This Day

By Mike Mccauley on
Mike Mccauley
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Sep 21 in Musings
By now, you are well aware that I am a “word” person. I am drawn to reading and writing. I love to consider vocabulary options, am interested in etymologies and enjoy digging into texts, Biblical and otherwise. Which may make me a philologist. I love words- which makes me a logophile.
However, my interest in these things goes beyond academic exercise. Words are
so important, but in our world today seem increasingly disposable. Words are mindlessly thrown out, redefined on a whim, taken back, contradicted and generally abused. But, and I repeat myself, words are critically important.

As I drove through the rain (!) to get to the office Thursday morning, I recalled an experience from 1991, when I was still in business in Seattle. As part of our company’s small management team, I was in our owner’s office to meet Joe Smith, the new West Coast Divisional Manager of our largest supplier. As we wrapped up the business portion of the meeting and shuffled out of the office, I heard my boss say to Joe “Oh wow, you have five kids?”  I turned around, saw a big smile on Joe’s face and heard his joyful response: “Yes, and they are such a blessing!”

Blessing. My ears perked up. What an interesting word he had chosen, one that is rarely heard outside of church or synagogue. Blessing. Why did he choose that exact word?  I had a hunch.  As we moved down the hallway, I managed to get myself next to Joe for a private word.
            “Joe, I noticed you said your children are a “blessing.”
            He replied enthusiastically “Yes, they really are.”
            I said, “I was just struck by that word. I don’t hear it very often.”
            Joe just looked at me. I was compelled to take the plunge. “Joe, are you a                           Christian?”
            Joe’s entire countenance lit up. “Yes!” he said, “My wife and I love the Lord.”
That was the beginning of a good friendship, and his use of one word drew me to him as a mentor in faith and work.  

Eugene Peterson wrote about an assignment that the Apostle Paul gave to the young pastor Timothy: “Use sound teaching.”  Eight times Paul mentions it. The word for “sound” teaching or doctrine is the same word we get “hygiene” from. Verbal hygiene. Use clean, good, truthful, strong words that mean something.

We’ve ruined many words by overuse or misuse. But if we are diligent, we can reclaim some of them- wash them off and make them sound again. Other words, despite our worst efforts, still retain their original strength, like “gracious” or “wonder.” Or...blessing.  Words matter. Choose yours well.
     See you soon,
            Pastor Dan

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