Monday, December 31, 2012


Welcome to the last day of 2012. Are you ready to put an old year to bed and awaken to a brand new one? I know I am.
It’s become custom somewhere along the way to make resolutions on New Year’s Eve for improving the self in the new year. Do you do that?
Ever wonder why there are so many jokes about why they don’t stick? Why they don’t, in fact, stick?
Here’s my theory, based on some things I’ve been reading lately.
We are under the assumption that Free Will, the gift of choice, is power, when it’s really simply opening the door to power.
Let me explain.
So, you make a ‘resolution’ – you make a choice to improve something about yourself over the course of a year. Something revolutionary and life-changing and positive.
Good. You have the Free Will to make that choice – to decide to improve.
However, the reason we so often fail is that after making the choice, we believe that we can accomplish this resolution in our own power. And that is impossible according to the nature of self.
Don’t mistake me. The choice is important. Very, crucially, vitally important to reaching goals.
But it is not in and of itself power. The proverbial will-power is actually no power at all.
Power comes from an actual power-source – the only One that can do anything to improve our fleshly selves. And that Power only starts working when the door is opened by your choice.
See the difference?
We, especially we Americans, hate to depend on anyone. We have a heritage that is taught as being self-won. Nothing could be further from the Truth. It is actually dependence on the Power Source – the One True God – that accomplishes any resolution, personal or universal.
Therefore, making a choice is a good step, but it’s just the first step. The second step is depend upon the right power source to fulfill that resolution – depend on God, and God alone.
Yep – it’s scary. No doubt about it. And without question, His methods will take you far beyond your comfort zone. However, if you really want to succeed in those resolutions, His way will be the only guarantee.
And if your resolutions are not guaranteed – what’s the point of making them in the first place?
Be encouraged, Dry Ground friends! 2013 is the Lord’s, if you make the choice to give it to Him. Happy New Year!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Quiet Man

Whenever the Biblical Joseph comes up in conversation – and you know he does all the time – I immediately think of the son of Jacob who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, falsely accused of rape, forgotten in a dungeon and then finally appointed as second in command of all of Egypt. Great life application throughout that story for sure!
But… there’s another prominent Joseph in Scripture that consistently, in my opinion, gets the short end of the shepherd staff. And round about this time of year may be just the right time to bring him up.
Joseph, as in Mary’s Joseph, as in Jesus’ legal earthly father – you know, Joseph.
He lived in incredible times, the most incredible time in history. He had a front row seat. But he was no bystander, no simple observer, no mere member of the peanut gallery. No, Joseph’s role was critical. And it wasn’t easy.
To begin with, he was but a poor carpenter. The only thing he had going for him was his heritage – the line of King David himself. I imagine his expectations for life were humble – set up shop, marry a local gal, have children. Nothing outrageous or lofty. In fact, his engagement to Mary was probably a highlight – whether arranged or not, I’d like to think he was looking forward to becoming a husband.
Imagine, then, especially in light of their culture, when he found out that his Mary was pregnant – long before their wedding, long before he ever gave a thought to ‘being’ with her in the Biblical sense. Devastation doesn’t even begin to describe it. Ruined just scratches the surface. Crushed, pulverized, heartbroken – He had the ‘right’ of the culture to stone her. But Joseph must have been deeply kind-hearted because in the midst of humiliation and grief, he chose to ‘divorce her quietly.’
If that hadn’t been excruciating enough, God asked more of him. He asked Joseph to marry her anyway.
Take a second to think on that. You think Joseph just shrugged and said, “Yea, sure, whatever you say”? I’m thinking not! I’m thinking he agonized over this.
But he obeyed.
But he didn’t just obey. He believed and cared for his Mary responsibly, dare I hope tenderly?
Still, it wasn’t easy. Of course there would be a call for census just when the baby was about to come. What a harrowing journey that must have been. We’re not talking a walk around the block. We’re talking at least four days but probably more to go 80 miles, and traveling those days was always dangerous for one reason or another. Any of you 8-month-plus pregnant gals out there want to give that a shot? Any of you men want to be responsible for that trip? Yea, me neither.
And then not to have a place to stay. Did Joseph lament over his station that couldn’t ‘buy’ a room – *wink*wink* - and that the King of his people would be born in a stable not a palace? I’m also thinking he didn’t have access to a doctor or a midwife during this all-too-human birthing. How solid of a man did this Joseph have to be to get through all of this?
Using what little we know of Joseph, who it says in the Bible was ‘known as the father of Jesus’ (not a bad rep in my opinion), plus a healthy but steeped in reality imagination, I’ve decided that I really, really admire him. Shoot, I like him. A lot.
Here’s this guy who stands just outside the limelight. He’s suffered for his faith and his kindness. And yet he’s legally and spiritually responsible for the King of the Universe, GOD in human flesh, God’s Son. He wisely listens and obeys when via dreams and visions God helps him with this responsibility, including moving his entire family to Egypt to protect Jesus from King Herod’s maniac, greed-infested slaughter of innocent baby boys under the age of two.
Just think, what would have happened had Joseph not been the good and faithful man he was? He had free will. He wasn’t super-human or God’s robot. But he was God’s called, for a specific and crucial purpose, and he knew it.
Do you feel like you’ve spent your life just shy of the limelight? Have you suffered in seemingly needless fashion – a broken heart, a senseless loss, an unfair twist of circumstances or outright betrayal of evil people? Do you feel insignificant or forgotten?
Listen here… Joseph, Mary’s Joseph, had more reason than most to turn bitter, rant at God, chose himself for once. But… he didn’t. And thank God for that! After all, he enabled God’s plan of salvation for you and me to manifest and come to fruition. He did what God, in all His wisdom and knowledge and perfection, asked of him.
And we should too. You never know what part of history you play by humble obedience, devotion, and service.
Hope you all had a blessed Christmas, Dry Ground friends!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Monsters in the Bathtub

 A few weeks back, I encountered a massive spider in my shower. This monster was big enough to look me in the eye at my first, frozen frightened gawk when I discovered him – disrobed, water warmed up, about to dunk my head underneath the steaming stream.
After that split-second, arrested moment, adrenaline kicked in and I booked it from the shower. In my reserved way of exclaiming any emotion, I say, “Oh, oh. That’s a big one,” as I search for means to remedy my dilemma. I have few tools at my disposal because I’m in the bathroom ready to take a shower!
Thankfully, my Daniel knows me well enough to recognize the alarm in my tone and came to the rescue. My apologies to all the creatures-large-and-small-creepy-or-crawly advocates out there, but my personal monster met his end drowning in a watery grave down the drain.
For days after, I diligently searched the entire tub/shower area before starting the water each morning… just in case another monster showed up or in case the one I saw pulled a Freddie or Jason on me. It could have been a fluke, but better safe than sorry, right? I kept a weather eye out.
Time passed.
Every day, I get less and less vigilant. Until I’m usually half way through my shower before I remember that I should have checked for monsters first.
Evil is like that spider. It lurks, hides, surprises, frightens, and harms. It’s there whether we see it or not. It shows its face without warning, usually after we’ve had time to sink back into a comfort zone of false security. It can strike us personally or in our community, leaving us reeling and wondering where it came from.
We employ a few resources to prevent or vanquish this evil when it pops up, or in the days after when our vigilance remains on guard – methods of control that seem to work but are actually mere Band-Aids for fatal wounds.
What makes us think that we, mortal sons and daughters of Adam, have any authority over the cosmic force of evil?
The only solution to evil is holiness.
The only road to holiness is relationship with The Holy One, the only sinless, omniscient, eternal God. Through the Good News of the Gospel, the account of all that Jesus has done for us, we are miraculously and mercifully placed on that road to holiness. Not because of anything we can do for ourselves but because of the Gift of God. The gift He gave us for Christmas on the first Christmas a little over 2000 years ago.
The road of holiness is not void of obstacles or enemy combatants. We are pursued even more because our enemy, and we do have an enemy – an insanely determined and vicious one in fact – will do anything to get us off this road, to keep us from reaching the Holy City and eternal life with our King of Kings. For this reason, vigilance is essential. And we are not left defenseless. The Holy One has given us tools, armor and weapons, and the best of all – His Presence. He’s got our backs. If we let Him.
I urge you to allow the message of Christmas and all that it entails and promises into your hearts this Season. If you have allowed that message to transform your hearts, take the time to rejoice in it as you celebrate the incredible moment God’s Gift stepped foot on Earth.
Merry Christmas, Dry Ground friends!

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of the World?

 So, if you’re reading this, I guess we’re safe – fire and brimstone are not coming today. Unless Australia has been wiped off the globe and we are yet to hear of it.
I kind of figured. The Bible says in Matthew that no one knows the day or the hour the Lord will return and make a few changes around here.
Still, today is the last day for some of us, whether we know it at this moment or not. Because the Bible also says that it is appointed for man to die once, and then the judgment (Heb. 9:26-28). All our minutes, including the final ones, are written in heavenly realms and known intimately by the Perfect Lover, so really, we have no cause to fear – if we know Him.
This world isn’t our home anyway. If it were, if this was all we had, then there would be every reason to fear as well as no opportunity for hope. Reality is, however, that life far greater and in an incredibly better place awaits us who have faith in Jesus.
It’s no secret, as I’ve expressed here many times and in many ways, that one view I have of Jesus is that of betrothed beloved – the Perfect Lover. So, the end of the world would mean that our wedding is nigh! And I would want to make sure I was dressed appropriately – spotless white – eagerly looking for the face of my groom standing at the end of that aisle of light, welcoming me into His eternal home.
Since that day could literally be any day for any one of us, wouldn’t it be wise to think on it every day? Be ready every day? Anticipate every day? Live for His glory every day? Love more every day? If we did, wouldn’t living in this fallen world be just a little bit better?
I think so anyway.
This is how Jesus put it… Matthew 25:1-13. (CLICK to read.)
Happy Friday before Christmas, Dry Ground friends! Only four more days!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Good Shepherd

In the Bible, people are often referred to as sheep. Several analogies and parables speak to the comparisons, intent on helping us understand our relationship with the Shepherd.
Well, in today’s urban society, with little to no knowledge on shepherding, we relate poorly to this analogy. But it isn’t just our cultural situation that impedes us. I think our pride has lots to do with it. Throw it out there that we act like sheep – a.k.a. dumb and blind followers – well, we take it as an insult. And there ends the analogy. We toss it out – baby, bathwater and all. The modern human cannot abide being so thoughtlessly degraded.
But so much can be gained from properly viewing this comparison of people and sheep. If we can lay aside our offenses for a moment – we might just find some insight, and quite possibly comfort and guidance as well. (Imagine that!)
The recent awfulness in CT got me thinking on this – all the questions and outrage over the appearance of evil in such an innocent setting – an elementary school – a kindergarten class no less. Truly horrifying and wrong. And I don’t pretend to know causes or presume to assign blame. I’m not trying to do that here. I’m just saying that it got me thinking.
There are many logical reasons why sheep need a shepherd. I would trade the word ‘dumb’ for ‘sensitive’ and propose that their limited perspective on the world – mainly the tiny patch of grass under their noses - keeps them from seeing clearly or fully. A shepherd stands heads above the flock, and therefore able to see much further and wider and more inclusively.
But it isn’t just the perspective of the sheep that makes them vulnerable. It is their value that requires constant guarding. A nasty, ferocious, determined enemy – usually a lion or wolf – passionately desires to devour as many sheep as possible. This craving is base, violent, and devoid of any moral save that of satiating its bloodlust. He values each sheep based on his consumption.
Unfortunately, a sheep has no resources whatsoever to defend itself from an attack of this nature. None. Zero. By nature, they are absolutely, 100% defenseless. Literal sitting ducks. Without the watchful care of a shepherd, the sheep have no chance of survival, let alone a peaceful life.
Thankfully, the Shepherd also values his flock. They are his prized possessions, his wealth, his livelihood. His desire for each one of them is born from genuine love and a heart-deep responsibility to care for and preserve life. He values his flock so much, he is willing to stand between it and any attacker, even die defending them.
Why, then, would a sheep ever wander from the flock, out from the watchful (not to mention necessary) eye of the Shepherd?
Call it stupid if you want, but I guess there are thousands of reasons. The grass looks better in that other meadow, it isn’t really that far outside the protection of the flock so surely it is close enough to be safe, perhaps lambs have adventurous spirits and simply follow tantalizing scents on the wind… who knows. But they do – they wander. And therefore, expose themselves to unspeakable dangers.
Now, the shepherd values each sheep so highly, and the danger of a solitary sheep far outweighs that of the collective flock, that he will leave the others to find this one wanderer. His grace extends way beyond our comprehension.
Here’s what I’ve never heard of before, though – a wandering sheep, encountering the evils of solitude, in grave danger and in need of rescue – I’ve never heard of that sheep refusing to be rescued when the shepherd shows up. Nor have I heard of the sheep accusing the shepherd of allowing it to wander, or ignoring it, or not coming to the rescue sooner. And I’ve never heard of a sheep encountering a wolf or a lion shouting at the shepherd, “Stay back! I’ve got this! I’m going to conquer this villain on my own!” while the monster gnaws on the sheep’s hind leg.
Nope. You won’t hear of those things happening.
So why do we, as humans, do it? In light of being compared to sheep, why do we think that in our defenseless condition, we can possibly vanquish evil on our own? Only under the care of God’s shepherding hand are we ever to be safe, secure, content, provided for, loved. But we’ve wandered – individually and as a group – away from the shepherd’s watchful eye. We’ve made excuses and chased our own importance in the name of ‘rights’ or ‘freedom’ without regard to His principles and commands that are only there to keep us safe in the first place – safe from what awaits us outside of His holiness.
When will we remember that we are valued beyond imagination – even to the extent that our shepherd, even though we’ve wandered again and again, has and continues to stand between us and our vicious enemy – even unto death.
I’m brimming with much more, but this is already getting too long for one day. I encourage you, though, to think on it and also to read 1Peter. Much of what he says in that letter/book speak to this issue, giving insightful reasons why, in the grand scheme of things, I am proud – overjoyed, really – to be… a sheep.
Are you?
Less than a week until Christmas! Wahoo!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Emmanuel, God with Us

Prayers and sympathies to the families affected in Newtown, CT this past Friday.
I don't like re-inventing the wheel, so to speak. So when I heard this clip, instead of writing my thoughts that were so very similar, I figured sharing this would be more efficient. I hope you take a few minutes to listen. Thanks, Dry Ground friends. Be blessed, love more, hug some necks!
(If no video is shown, CLICK HERE to go to link.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Smiling's My Favorite

I love this commercial. No matter how I feel when I see it, I have to smile. In my opinion, that makes it brilliant. Smiles, laughter, lightheartedness are all contagious! If we allow it to catch on, if we pass it along, maybe the effects will spread. I wish you this kind of day!  Don't sweat the Christmas preparations or the Monday morning blues or the workplace deadline. Find something to smile about. I bet you'll see something if you just take a second to look. Happy Monday, Dry Ground friends! Emphasis on the HAPPY!

Proverbs 17:22 - A cheerful heart is good medicine...
(photo by

Friday, December 7, 2012

Whew! What a week. I hope you've had a good one. Now it's time for Happy Weekending! Take my chinny's lead and get some rest.
Gen. 2:2 - By the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day, He rested from all His work.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Taste and See

I have probably mentioned it before – I’m not what is known as a ‘good’ cook. Over the years, I’ve gotten better, and I’m even enjoying it a little more now. But if we’re having company, I leave the kitchen reins in my Daniel’s hands for sure!
Good food is especially on my mind around Christmas. I imagine a long, traditional dining room table full of scrumptious fare, the ‘good’ china, a seasonal table cloth and candelabras encircled with pinecones and holly. Sort of Norman Rockwell-esque, right? Sitting down to savor each lovely morsel of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, biscuits, vegetables, and pie sounds super good right now. Of course, it’s all the better with every high-backed chair occupied with loved ones.
I’d say most of us will experience something of the sort in a couple weeks – probably even multiple times. I hope so!
But as I picture that scene, a verse comes to mind that leads me to a question…
The verse is pretty well known – Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good…”
The question is – do I? Do I taste each morsel the Lord gives me from His Word with as much savor as I would a Christmas feast? Does my mouth water with longing and anticipation at the thought of hearing His Word? Do I internalize and digest it, allowing it to nourish and sustain me?
Just some food for thought. *smile*
Hope your week goes well, Dry Ground friends! Be blessed!
Oh, hey – 20 days until Christmas!!! Wow!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Heart Condition

I wasn’t going to say anything. Some things spark an angry flare in me, and I have to vent. My Daniel listens, usually agrees, and then that’s the end of it. But this time…
Here’s the spark – during Sunday Night Football last night at the end of half time show, Bob Costas commented on the tragic murder/suicide incident endured by the Kansas City Chiefs this past weekend. I was appalled when he ended up blaming our ‘current gun culture.’
I don’t usually comment on issues that are considered ‘political’ as I know that a multitude of opinions out there exist and I’d rather search for uniting concepts. Plus, I’m a terrible debater and don’t wish to engage in one. But Bob’s comments made me too mad. Not because I’m so attached to my ‘right’ to bear arms in this country, which is still hanging on by a thread, but because blaming something like this on access to guns ignores the real, much more important issue in this case. The same issue plaguing so many other tragic events we hear about, read about, maybe even experience.
Is it not true that, murders are committed with a variety of weapons – knives, poisons, water in bathtubs, electricity, steep stairwells, blunt objects like tire irons and crystal vases, arson, car ‘accidents,’ even bare hands?
The issue here is not the instrument of violence. There are far too many such instruments to completely sterilize our society from hurting ourselves and each other. If the individual is so inclined, the act will ensure. Therefore, the issue here is the condition of the heart.
The Bible mentions the heart nearly 1000 times. It talks of pure and upright hearts, it warns against hardened and evil hearts. It talks about writing the law of the Lord on the heart, and harboring bitterness in the heart. The condition of the heart is very, VERY important. It provides ‘life’ in far more ways than simply pumping blood through our veins.
I’m not judging this NFL player who died. I cannot say that he was evil to have committed this crime. In fact, it sounds like he was more troubled and lost than anything. When is this Nation going to wake up and see that God’s peace is the only healing factor that could have done anything to persuade this unfortunate man toward peace?
Perhaps not having access to a gun would have prevented or just postponed this tragedy, or ones like it – Aurora movie theatre for example. Or perhaps a sick heart will find a way to act out no matter what instrument is in hand.
So let’s start addressing the heart of the issue. Let’s start loving, caring, giving up a little time to be genuine friends, form sincere relationships – even with people seeming to rebuff our attempts. Let’s stop getting offended or standing behind religious traditions that divide rather than unite and start basing our liberties on Jesus Christ. And for God’s sake, let’s stop blaming inanimate, moral-less objects, using tragedies to advance a ‘political’ platform, and start taking responsibility for the condition of the heart. 
Thank you, Dry Ground friends, for letting me express these thoughts that well up in my own heart. Don’t worry – I don’t plan on renaming this blog “Lori’s Soapbox Hour.”
Have a great week. And please consider investing in the life of those you have contact with this week.
Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Phil 4:7 – The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Col 3:1, 15 - …set your hearts on things above… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body we were called to be peace.