Wednesday, December 21, 2011

POV Wednesday – Hope

You’ve heard the phrase, ‘Keep hope alive’?

I’d forgotten where that came from until I looked it up. Though I disagree with the source on most things, he’s not the reason I’m disagreeing with this phrase.

I’ve been thinking about it lately. And on my walk this morning, it occurred to me…

We don’t keep hope, hope keeps us.

In fact, hope literally keeps us alive.

Circumstances can be so heavy, difficult, and stressful that we can’t muster the courage or energy to lift a finger, let alone keep something so powerful as ‘hope’ alive. In those moments, I depend on hope to keep me alive.

Christmas is about hope. Hope in the form of a baby, who had just moments before been sitting on the throne of the universe surrounded by unbelievable glory and honor because He is God. But He chose to confine Himself in a human body, become one of us – that which He created – because He loved us so much He couldn’t let us live hopeless lives that only could end in death. This was the only way for hope to endure.

We hope for lots of things in this life – love and friendship, jobs and prosperity, health and amusement. But storms roll in and deprive us of those hopes. Sitting in the rain, we often find ourselves disappointed in hope.

But it’s not hope’s fault that we were disappointed! No, it was what we put our hope in that failed.

Hoping in that which is certain, although we have not yet seen it, that hope will never disappoint. It’s the hope of heaven – the path paved by Jesus, beginning with His birth that we celebrate at Christmas, and continuing in His death and resurrection we celebrate at Easter.

Without that hope, we will be disappointed, tempted to give up, depressed and shackled with life’s problems.

With that hope, we have everything – a future, a basis on which to praise God continually, promises with the backing of God for whom it is impossible to lie, a home and a family.

I pray that your Christmas is saturated with hope as you celebrate the birth of Hope.

Merry Christmas, Dry Ground friends! Thanks for sticking with me through this wintry season of life.

(photo by

Monday, December 19, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

Sometimes when us movie geeks say 'Christmas movie' we don't mean movies about Christmas. We mean blockbusters that open in theatres Christmas week, one of the few coveted release times on the Hollywood calendar. Every year, an anticipated film or two opens on or around Christmas pretty much guaranteeing that they are worth seeing.

This year, I was looking forward to two 'Christmas' films: Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows.
So far, I haven't been disappointed. I've only seen MI4 (Sherlock is next on the list), but it delivered everything a 'Christmas' movie should. CLICK HERE for my review of it, posted on
I hope your holidays have been full of fun and family while also remembering the Reason for the Season. This week before Christmas Day, be blessed, hug some necks, and appreciate your friends and family with a little more effort than usual. Maybe you all can pack up the cars and treat yourself to one of the many new releases in theatres now.
6 days until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

POV Wednesday – True Gift of Christmas

I’ve been dealing with some tough stuff lately. Maybe you have too. Well, it’s been driving me to God’s Word looking for answers! I have no idea if this will make sense or help, but I do know that it helped me.

James 1:2-4 says: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

The desire for perfection has all but disappeared in this age, I admit even in my heart. ‘Enough’ to get by with as little pain and suffering possible, we accept a level of mediocrity and are done with it.

But we’re meant for so much more. We’re meant for perfection – to be perfect ourselves and to be perfect for our Perfect Lover, Jesus Christ.

Problem is, our fallen world has twisted this to make us believe that we are to obtain this perfection on our own, which is futile. When we believe that, though, it is impossible to see ‘troubles’ as James calls them as ‘opportunities for great joy.’ We can only see them as setbacks and obstacles.

But the writer of Hebrews says in 10:14: For by one sacrifice [Jesus’ death] He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

This tells me that I have nothing to do with my perfection. It’s only through His suffering that He is making me perfect and holy. I am only the clay, He is the potter forming and shaping me on His wheel (Isaiah 64:8).

This process, sanctification, being made perfect, is not a painless one. To be made perfect, which is to share in His glory, we must also share in His suffering. (Rom. 8:17, 2 Cor. 1:5, 2 Cor. 1:7, 1 Peter 5:1).

Here’s a reason to rejoice - Jesus bore the hard part – death. The sufferings we experience now are nothing compared to that, or to the glory of the perfection meant for us.

How is this a Christmas post? Pain and suffering hardly puts us in a cheery, holiday mood, does it?

Well, I’m talking about THE reason Jesus was born. He came to earth to suffer and experience our pain because He knows the requirement for our perfection is suffering. And we cannot face that on our own. So He came to take the brunt. He is the comfort and He also provides comfort.

More reasons to rejoice.

1 Peter 5:12 says: My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in that grace.

So don’t be discouraged if you are suffering. It could be evidence that you’re being made perfect. Like God’s grace being sufficient for Paul’s thorn in 2 Corinthians, we should accept it as a gift.

Gifts are always a good opportunity for great joy, right?

Wo! 11 days until Christmas!

(photo by

Monday, December 12, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday – Christmas Edition

Ever feel like even though you’re doing everything right, everything just keeps going wrong?

That’s how Queen Latifah’s character. Georgia Byrd, feels in today’s pick, Last Holiday.

Georgia sings in her church choir, watches what she eats, encourages the neighbor kid to watch his language, and works cookware in a New Orleans department store. It’s at the store where she shyly admires fellow co-worker, Sean Matthews, played by hunky LL Cool J. But before the two can admit their feelings for each other, there’s an accident. Georgia bumps her head on a cupboard door in her cooking cubicle at work. Sean carries her to the in-house medical clinic. The doctor does a brain scan with his ‘new to him’ machine and discovers that she has lesions on her brain. Finding out that she only has three weeks to live, Georgia comes out of her shell. She quits her job, liquidates her bank account and goes on one of the adventures she has always dreamed about – spends the holidays at Prague’s Hotel Pupp living like a princess.

Her perspective on life enhanced by the proximity of death, she enjoys every detail of her dream world and in the process makes a number of friends. Meanwhile, Sean notices her mysterious absence at work and investigates. When he finds out where she went, Sean comes out of his shell too and pursues. Question is, does he reach her in time?

This is not a drama. This is a romantic comedy. The imminent death issue is a catalyst for misunderstandings and coincidental comedy of errors, and of course everything turns out alright in the end.

I like this movie because it is funny, clean, fun-loving, romantic, and it has great reverence for abundant life. Georgia’s shedding of her inhibited lifestyle did not count losing her morals or principles or suddenly becoming irresponsible. She just stopped being scared and stepped out of her box.

Hope you are having a fun holiday season and are watching all the best Christmas movies out there!

13 days until Christmas!

(photo by

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

POV Wednesday – The “C” Word

Have you seen this cartoon?

The war on ‘Christ’mas has been heating up for years, played out every day in speech, advertising, decorations, traditions… pretty much everywhere you look, at least subtly.

The anti-‘Christ’mas bullies pick fights with those simple little words ‘Happy Holidays’ and lure us ‘Christ’ians into confrontations that dare us to defend our Faith during this time of year.

I don’t deny that it is a battle, or that we should stand up for Truth. I’m all for that.

But the Bible warns us that we are not fighting a battle of flesh and blood, but against principalities in the spiritual world. (Eph. 6:12) That means, we are not armed with physical weapons such as guns or a sharp tongue, but with God’s armor (Eph. 6:10-17).

It also tells us that a gentle word turns away wrath. (Prov. 15:1)

Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ deliberately instead of ‘Happy Holidays’ is a statement, yes. But ‘how’ we say it says even more.

We should think of what we’re saying and why we’re saying it. To stand up for a belief system? Well, partly. But that’s the gravy. The meat should be for compassion’s sake. The person to whom we say it may not understand why we insist on saying Merry ‘Christ’mas. They may never have heard the amazing story of Jesus’ birth, or at least not believed it as real and pertinent to their lives. They may be fully aware and just not as aware of their words. They may be having a bad or sad day. The ‘love’ behind the words, in that case, would mean much more than words themselves.

I think of it this way - it should feel more like a ‘hug’ than a ‘slap.’ If it isn’t delivered with the full backing of Christ’s love, the ‘reason’ for the Season as it were, then we might as well be saying ‘Happy Holidays.’

Wo! 18 days until the day! Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday - Christmas Edition

As life rolls along and the scenery changes, my mode of movie consumption changes too. For years, during what I like to call the ‘glory’ days, we got free first-run movies. Then I got free rentals when I worked at Movie Gallery. My first DVR opened up any and every movie that sounded interesting to me on Turner Classic Movies.

For the time being, Netflix has been the available venue. A brand new user, I was excited at first, but it turned out not to be as wonderful as I expected. Still, I manage to put it to good use some of the time. They redeemed themselves a little, however, when what should appear on the ‘recently added’ section but a blast from my past that immediately congers the warm, fuzzy nostalgia feeling. And since I just saw the new Muppet Movie in theatres now (CLICK HERE for my review on, I’d already been primed to experience those remembrance goose bumps to the fullest.

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (A Muppet TV special from… eh hem… 1977) takes us back to pre-computer graphics entertainment. Sure, it’s possible your kids may run screaming from the room with boredom. But this kind of kid show was cutting edge back then. And it always taught us something.

Emmet Otter and his Ma manage a meager existence operating a laundry service. Christmas Eve is days away, but they don’t feel much like celebrating because Pa’s gone ‘where the river meets the ocean’ and they don’t have much money for gifts or decorations. They hear about a talent contest offering $50 of reward money. Each sign up without the other knowing, and each sacrifice something important to be able to enter.

They just don’t make ‘em like this any more.

Do kids these days even appreciate a masterful puppetry display or quirky songs in a variety of genres that aren’t pop or rap? I wouldn’t know, because I don’t have kids, but judging from what’s popular these days, I’d imagine not.

Maybe it’s because I love music, or maybe it’s because I love the Muppets. Whatever it is, watching Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas made me laugh (in a funny-haha way, not an evil or sarcastic way). It’s a good one to blow off the dust and stick in the queue and travel back in time for a sweet 48 minutes.

20 days until Christmas! Where is time flying off to? (I’d go somewhere warm… Fiji?)

Happy Movie Watching, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekend Tune Up - Christmas Edition

I have reached the point in my life that I need a little assistance from the ‘younger’ generation to keep current on the music scene.

My source for the best, hippest, Christian music is my niece, Katelyn. I thought I was a TobyMac fan, having been introduced to DC Talk in college by my Daniel. But my niece is a sic (that’s a good thing, fyi) fan! I wouldn’t have even known TobyMac released a Christmas album this year if it wasn’t for her.

Therefore, adjust your attitudes, improve your moods, wear a smile as you listen to one of her favorites from TobyMac: Christmas in Diverse City.

23 days until Christmas 2011!