Random Comments Before Vacation

School’s Out!

As I sit here writing this, my mind is drifting, daydreaming (except it’s 9:06 pm) of tomorrow’s short bus-driving day.

No, now I’m eating tapioca pudding. My wife said, “You’d better eat this pudding Haley bought for you, or her feelings will be hurt.” I said, “I forgot about it!” Tapioca pudding is a favorite of mine, but for the life of me I have no idea what a tapioca is. A fish egg? Fat ball? Jello turd? I have no idea, so don’t tell me.

Anyway, tomorrow school gets out early for Christmas and New Year break. Woo hoo! Three weeks of doing honey-do lists, entertaining guests, and getting up later! Woo hoo! Three whole weeks with no pay! Exciting.

What’s the point? Well, if I don’t write so much it will be because I’m busy while on vacation, that’s all.

Random (sorta) Comments

It’s now 10:50 pm. People stopped by for a visit (that’s life in a parsonage). I’ve eaten a sandwich. Had a Coke float deezert (just spelled it the way it sounds). Time to get back to this post before I go to bed.

Cuba. I’m not too sure what’s the right response. I hate what Communism has done to that Island. I don’t trust anything Obama says regarding Cuba. I would love to have some Cuban cigars. Just sayin.

Order my book. Please, order my bus book – you’ll love it. It’s funny with some solid spiritual content, but not overbearing. Buy some copies to give away.

Logos Bible Software. I have Logos 5 (with more stuff than I’ll ever use). Why do upgrades have to be so expensive? Why separate module options for different denominations? Doesn’t that sorta go against the idea that the Bible is what it is? I don’t get it, other than it must be a money grab. Not impressed, I am. Disappointed, frankly.

baby girlClothes on dogs. Do dogs know what doggy clothes are? If not, why does my daughter’s dog love to put on clothes? Something ain’t right.

Forgetful wife. Why is it when I am the last one downstairs, like right now, my wife forgets everything she needs upstairs and then hollars at me and tells me to bring them when I come up? I just find it oddly convenient how she doesn’t seem to forget all these things when she is the last one downstairs. Again, just sayin.

Pakistan. Last, but definitely not least, my heart breaks for the people of Pakistan. My blood boils when I think of those who killed all those children and adults. I wonder who in the Taliban, or whatever, thought killing 100+ children would make for good PR? I wonder how the scumbags are enjoying their flaming-hot virgins?….wait….. What I meant to say was, I wonder how the scumbags are enjoying the hot flames of hell? Probably came as a shock.

Good night everybody. Say your prayers – and save one for me.

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“I Love You, Mr. Baker”

Cold Mornings

I don’t care how long I live, I’ll never enjoy getting up and going outside in the dark on a cold, damp winter morning to crank up a cold, diesel-powered school bus. There is literally nothing pleasant about it, from the pre-trip inspections in the dark to the unwelcome loud noises and alarms that accompany starting up the engine; it’s like a Monday morning every morning.

Furthermore, cold mornings are worse when you have a cold – like when everything aches, your head hurts, you have no energy, and a box of Kleenex is your friend. This morning was one of those mornings, but at least I only used two tissues.

Coffee helps.

Back Story

My morning started off cold, dark and depressing, but it did get better. However, before I get to the happy part, I have to give you the back story.

This year a little girl named Helen started riding my bus. From the very first day I noticed that she was very shy, very quiet, and non-emotional. I would say, “Good morning,” but she would never respond, only look at me and pass by.

Little Helen, just a first-grader, I believe, always wore the same clothes, at least for the first few weeks. At one point I began to wonder if the little blue uniform dress she always wore was all the clothes she had. Then one day she walked out of her house and stepped onto the bus wearing a bright, covered in flowers, happy yellow dress. I had to comment.

“Wow! That’s a beautiful dress you have on today!” I exclaimed. Then the little girl stopped, looked me in the eye, smiled, and went on to her seat. She didn’t say “thank you,” or anything, but she smiled, so that was progress. But now, guess who always says “Good morning, Mr. Baker” “Have a great day, Mr. Baker,” and “Bye-bye, Mr. Baker”?

Guess who drew me a picture of a flower?

The Morning Got Warmer

Well, this morning, still feeling sick and a little bit discouraged (did you read yesterday’s post?), I came to little Helen’s house. Like normal, she ran out her door as if she knew in advance I was coming down the street, even though I’ve never figured out how she can tell, since there are no windows facing the direction from which I arrive. On one arm she carried her book bag, while in the other hand she carried a plastic bag a fourth her size.

Even Bobble-head Phil was shocked!

Even Bobble-head Phil was shocked!

Helen climbed the stairs into the bus, handed me the bag, then said, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Baker…This is for you. It’s all for you.” Shocked, I said, “Well thank you! I appreciate that!” Then she reached across and put her arm around me and said, “I love you, Mr. Baker.”

“I love you, too.”

Sometimes when we feel discouraged, God let’s us know that we really are making a difference. It’s not such a cold day, anymore.

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Pastors Never Get Depressed

Did you know that pastors never get depressed? That may come as a shock to some of you, but it’s true; only ordinary people get the blues, have a bad day, feel discouraged, or what have you.

Pastors never get depressed or want to run away and hide because they have special access to God. This access allows them to tap into special spiritual trade secrets only available to the ordained. Why else do you think ministers always have things together?

Pastors never get depressed because, unlike normal folk, we get visions in the night – visions of God’s plans for our lives. Similar to e-memos, God sends the ordained messages while we sleep, but only while we sleep – He’s a firm believer in no visions while driving.

Prayers are another big plus for the pastor. Unlike the normal person, not only do we get prayers through immediately, but we actually have telepathic throne room sessions once a week. These sessions are just like what Mork had with his home planet (Mork and Mindy), only we use prayer closets instead of eggs.

Not only do pastors never get depressed, but they’re always upbeat, have positive attitudes, and smile all the time…you know, like Joel Osteen. We know it can be hard for others in the church, but our bills are always paid, our health is always good, and our children are the envy of every church youth group and little old lady. Why should we ever be discouraged?

So, I don’t need your prayers – just pray for yourselves and other unfortunate laypeople like yourselves. We pastors have got it together!

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Filed under Christian Living, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, Uncategorized

What Are You Worth?

What would you die for?

What is so valuable that you would risk or even sacrifice your own life? Have you ever stopped to think about that? You should.

The typical things in life that are considered so valuable, when put in perspective, aren’t really worth that much. Even the most “priceless” treasures are not worth your life – or are they? Would you fight a thief for your purse or car? If so, you are saying those things are more valuable than your life, for you are willing to risk your life to keep them. It is how people die every day in the pursuit of, and the keeping of earthly possessions. Pretty foolish.

What about non-concrete items, such as pride? Some people are willing to fight to the death, or kill others, when insulted or “dissed.” Perception is NOT reality, just as integrity is not determined by opinion; yet, some would rather risk death than be wrongly perceived.

Is family worth risking your life?

Photo: Andy Britt

Photo: Andy Britt

Really, there is no argument against this one. But on the other hand, society has a difficult time determining the value of life; one life is not as valuable as another if convenience or personal pleasure is at stake.

I would risk my life to protect my family, and if you doubt it, try to hurt them – I carry more than a big stick.

Many, however, kill their own children before birth.  It seems to me that society values gold more consistently than life itself.

Are you willing to die for what you believe?

Now this, I know, could open up a whole can of worms; but that’s OK. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Do you believe in anything so much that it is worth more than your own life? When your life is on the line, knowing the difference between what you believe and what is only opinion is of key importance. A martyr is one who would rather die for what he believes than deny it.

Is your faith worth dying for?  If not, then how much do you really believe?

How much is YOUR life worth?

Value is determined by what someone is willing to give for it, right? That’s typically the way it goes. So, if nothing on earth is more valuable than your life, does that make your life valuable? Well, maybe to you.

Think about it, to someone else your life might not be as valuable as their own. Would you value the life of a total stranger so much that you would offer your own in exchange? I mean, really? Someone may even be willing to give all of the world’s riches in order to obtain your life, but are you worth it? Who would even have that kind of wealth? That leaves you with nothing more than your sense of value compared to another’s; your worth against theirs.

Value is relative to the thing for which the buyer will exchange.  That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?

On the other hand, what if the Creator of the universe offered to die for you?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8 NIV

That would make your worth INCALCULABLE! The King of Heaven, the Son of God, gave His own life in exchange for yours, even accepting your guilt and failures as His own, and payed the death penalty for sin on your behalf.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2Corinthians 5:21 KJV

That makes you valuable; Jesus unique. How many others have done what He did for you? Most of us would die for our children or spouse.  Some of us would die for a friend or maybe a good person.  But how many of us would give our own life to purchase the life of a stranger, much less a convict, drug dealer, murderer, etc?  Jesus did.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:6-8 NIV

That’s the whole reason for Christmas, you know.  Jesus had to come to earth as a baby to grow into the Man that would willingly go to a cruel cross.  The gift of Christmas is the gift of life, purchased with the life of the Giver of Life. How ironic is that? How wonderful?

Let’s Review

  • Jesus Christ suffered the most excruciating death Rome could conceive, crucifixion…for you.
  • The Prince of Peace was shredded by a “cat of nine tails”…for you.
  • The King of Kings wore a crown of 4″ thorns…for you.
  • God became flesh so the world could know Him…including you.

Don’t believe the lies told to you by Satan, the culture, or your depressed emotions. Your life is of immeasurable worth because of the immeasurable price offered for it.

If you are worth that much, and if that kind of price was paid, don’t you think giving your life to Jesus is a fair exchange?

If you would like to know more about Jesus, and how he loves you and died for you, then call this number, 1-800-NEED-HIM. Or, if you would like to talk with me, just send me an email.  Your life is worth it.

 

This article was first posted 6/13/2014 and has been edited

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Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, Love of God, salvation, self-worth, World View

The Impossible List

Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. – Psalm 40:5

Lists

My wife is a list person. No, seriously, if anything needs to be done, bought, cleaned, learned, or debated, she can whip out a list quicker than gunslinger’s six-shooter – and with more shots.

However, one of our daughters (Katie) has not only learned from her mother, but has taken the whole list-taking thing to the extreme. How do I know this? Because if anything needs to be done, bought, cleaned, learned, or debated, any time frame in which those things need to be done must be extended in order for her to complete the list, print the list, decorate the list, and share the list with anyone who will listen.

I would say that I hate lists, but I don’t. The difference between my wife and daughter and me is that I don’t love lists; I just prepare them when I absolutely have to, such as: 1) when I am preparing a sermon; 2) when I am forced to order for the family at a drive-thru window; 3) when I have an important argument to win; or 4) when this blog calls for it.

The last thing I would want to do is list all the wonderful works and thoughts of God toward me. I couldn’t be done.

Impossible

Stop and think about it, could you make a list of all the things God has done for you? Could you list them in order of occurrence? David couldn’t. I know I can’t.

If I were to compile a list of God’s wonderful works, how could I list His thoughts? Even if I were to list the works of which I knew, how would I list the works I never knew about? He has done more for me than I will ever know!

Even if I were to sit down with pen or pencil in hand, like David, how could I list all God has done in order? It wouldn’t take long to wear out an eraser. As soon as a couple of items could be put down, something else would come to mind…erase…change the order…remember…erase…

O LORD, my God, your works and your thoughts toward me are beyond comprehension! Before I was born…while I sleep…even with eyes wide open…your wonderful works and thoughts toward me are impossible to list!

If only my praises were so numerable.

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The Cross I Cherish

The Voice

First of all, I have only watched a couple of episodes of The Voice. Like most programs of this kind, I am not interested in most of what comes across the stage, nor the drama associated with it all.

Personally, I quit watching shows like The Voice when Katherine McPhee lost to Taylor Hicks on the 5th season of American Idol – it all went downhill from there.

However, every once in a while a performance from one of these programs is posted on the web and gets a lot of attention. The following is a good example.

The Cross

I guess what shocked so many people is the fact that a singer chose to sing this hymn on a national stage – in a competition. I mean, the cross? Really? Was this guy thinking straight? I hope so.

You see, it was on the cross of Calvary that the “Dearest and Best” was slain. It was on this cross that the “ordinances against us” were nailed (Col. 2:14). It was on this cross that our Savior promised that if He be lifted up, He would draw all men unto himself. It was on this cross where Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

So, I will cherish the old, rugged, blood-stained cross on which Jesus paid the penalty for my sin. It was the crossroad of judgment and mercy where the Lamb of God humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8) and purchased my reconciliation with God (Eph. 2:16).

Why cherish the cross? Because it was and is proof positive that even before I knew Him, even when I was steeped in sin, God loved me enough to die in my stead.

It’s shame and reproach I’ll gladly bear.

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Trust the Lord, Not the Liar

Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. – Psalm 40:4

Homework Helper

Just a couple of weeks ago I was helping my youngest daughter with her history homework. For one particular assignment she was required to read some stories from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, specifically those having to do with the Inquisition. Because of her dyslexia, my reading the stories aloud to her made things go a lot quicker.

As I read aloud the injustices and tortures inflicted upon those who had (or were even accused of having) any disagreements with the Catholic church, one thing became glaringly obvious: the people needed to read the Bible for themselves.

Haley and I took the time to discuss the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition, how corrupt church leaders could even coerce kings and queens to obey them, even to the point of watching innocent teenage girls being burned alive. It was amazing the amount of fear the world experienced, all because it thought the ability to read and understand God’s Word rested in the hands of a few.

How different things would have been had the people been able to read the Bible for themselves.

Who Do You Trust?

In this verse David speaks of how the man who makes the Lord his trust is “blessed,” or genuinely happy, as opposed to the one who puts his trust in proud and deceived men. Yet, millions of people today put turn on their televisions, sit in pews, or pop in the teaching DVD’s of masterful manipulators who claim to have a special revelation from God. Where have all the Bereans gone?

Blessed is the man who puts his trust in the Lord, not priests, politicians, potentates, power players, or prognosticators.

Blessed is the man who puts his trust in the Word of the Lord, not the self-help books of Oprah and the myriad of television evangelists.

Blessed is the man who places his trust, his faith, and his hope in the Lord, not those who claim to have special knowledge, special revelation, or a new gospel.

Blessed is the man who puts his trust in the Lord and holds ever other beings feet, whether human or angelic, to the fiery, unchanging, life-changing Truth of the inspired Word of God.

Those who place their trust in men are subject to fall for the same old lies and manipulations of the greedy, selfish, egotistical, power-hungry rulers of the past – and there’s nothing “blessed” about that.

“…let God be true, and every man a liar…” – Romans 3:4

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