Category Archives: Christian Maturity

Don’t Call Me a Hallomeany

The following was originally published in October of 2012.

Not a Hallomeany

I am not a big Halloween guy. I don’t get in to the dressing up, and all that. For that matter, I don’t really celebrate the holiday.

However, I am not a total Hallomeany. I am not the Halloween version of Scrooge. For example, when a little girl asked what I thought of her costume, I didn’t say, “You look more like a prostitot than a princess.” I said, “You look very nice!”

When the little boys come around dressed like monsters, I always shiver like I am scared. When they dress like superheroes, I ask if they can fly. And when they look like a cat, dog, or freakazoid satanic mutt from the pits of hell, I say, “Wow! Do you have fleas, too?”

Wiggin’ Out

So, even though I don’t really celebrate Halloween, I try to keep the kids on the bus from thinking I am a “legalist.” What do I do? I wear a wig. This time I wore an Afro.

One little girl told me she was Little Red Riding Hood. I told her I was Big Black Afro Hood.

But the funny thing about all of this is the reaction of the elementary kids. It really made me wonder what bus they have been riding the last three months.

The Kids: (at least 1,000 times) “Mr. Baker, is that your real hair?”

Me: “Yes. It is. I was bald yesterday, but I put fertilizer on my head and my hair grew overnight.”

The Kids: “No it’s not…I bet it is a wig…that’s not your hair…let me touch it…I bet it’s a wig.”

Me:  “Of course it’s my real hair.”

The Kids:  “Is that really your real hair? You’re wearing a wig…I just know it.”

Me: (I got upset with some children who wouldn’t stay in their seats, so I got serious and took off the wig.)

A Little Girl (that has ridden the bus for 3 months): “Aaaahhhh (gasping, then giggling as she whispers to another child), Mr. Baker’s BALD!

Me:  “You THINK?! Where have you been? Did you not see me yesterday? Are you blind?”

You’ve Known Me How Long?

After telling the above story a few times, it seemed God wanted to tell me something.

I kept thinking of a conversation Jesus has with Phillip in John 14:8-9. Phillip asked, “Show us the Father.” That’s when Jesus replied in the same way I did to the little girl, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me?”

That got me to wondering. How long have I known Jesus? And how many times do I act like I haven’t even been paying attention to His presence? How many times have I been surprised by an answered prayer? How many times have I doubted, only to find Him faithful?

“You’ve known Me how long?” Long enough to know better.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, God, Humor, Life Lessons

“But Some Doubted”

Have you ever doubted? If you have you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s the wise thing to do. But did Jesus’ disciples ever doubt? Let’s find out.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted. – Matthew 28:16-17

Many people have placed faith in Jesus only to lose that faith later, like when they find out the Jesus they thought they knew was not who he claimed to be. Are you one of those?

Believe it or not, even some of the disciples of the real Jesus found themselves doubting when they saw Him face to face after His resurrection. In the book of Matthew we read that on one particular occasion, after meeting up with the disciples at a pre-determined location, most worshiped, but “some doubted.”

Wait! How is this possible?! Weren’t these the same guys who saw Jesus appear to them when they were hiding, afraid for their lives (Luke 24:36; John 20:19)? Even doubting Thomas finally believed (John 20:28), so who were the the ones doubting in Matthew 28? Could it have been one of them? Possibly, or maybe even one of those who may have tagged along.

Here’s what I think happened. The disciples were gathered together, Jesus miraculously appeared, and before He could speak the crowd began to worship Him. Some, however, were a little skeptical; they had seen things before, including fakes, charlatans, and impostors. Who was to say what they saw was really Jesus Himself?

What convinced the doubters, then? I believe it was when Jesus spoke.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. – Matthew 28:18-20 

It’s not like this was the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples, causing not only doubt, but also stark terror. Remember when He walked on the water?

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. – Matthew 14:26

It took Jesus speaking to calm down the frightened boatmen…

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. – Matthew 14:27

Is it possible that some of the disciples present when Jesus met up with them on that mountain had a right to be skeptical? I mean, hey, wasn’t Jesus himself who earlier warned the disciples that “false Christs” and “false prophets” would arise, deceivers so convincing that, “if it were possible, they [would] deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22)?

Matthew doesn’t exactly say what happened to those who doubted, but I have my suspicions. I believe it was when Jesus spoke that their doubts disappeared. On the other hand, if they still doubted, maybe they were only there for the bagels and mountain air.

Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. – John 10:25-28

It was never Jesus’ plan to convince to the world of who He is by physically appearing to everyone. As a matter of fact, Jesus told Thomas, “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

The Word made flesh (John 1:1) gave us His Word (the Bible). So, when in doubt, read and listen to His voice.

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christian Maturity, cults, Faith, God, worship

The Aging Mr. Potato

The Gift

Last year for my birthday our foreign exchange student from South Korea took it upon herself to make me a present. Because of the resemblance between my bald head and a potato, she hand-crafted a Mr. Potato Head from a REAL potato.

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Being Sentimental

Because I am a sentimental kind of guy, I hate getting rid of gifts, especially the hand-made kind. Therefore, even though the birthday gift was made from a potato, I just couldn’t toss it; I let it lie on my computer desk on top of some CD cases.

A few months later I took the following picture.

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People never thought a potato would simply age without rotting, but mine did. And not only did it age without stinking, it did something I have not been able to accomplish with age…

…grow hair!

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Spud Mirroring Life

Is it “life mirrors fiction,” or “fiction mirrors life”? I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that potatoes evidently mirror my life.

As potatoes age they grow hair, but the hair seems to come out of places other than just the scalp. That’s a lot like real life…like my life. Between my nose and ears I could replace what disappeared from up top.

Another way the aging potato mirrors real life is in the way it shrinks. Even though the mid-section around us guys may increase, over time we all shrivel up into the wrinkled raisin-like reflection of what we used to be.

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Aging is not always a pretty thing to watch, but it is something that is happening all the time. We start off young, but we get old. We start off with a whole life ahead of us, then we find ourselves contemplating the look of our tombstones. For some it only takes a short time, like with Mr. Potato; for others it takes multiple decades.

The results are always the same…we wither and fade away.

For all flesh is as grass [or potatoes], and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  – 1Peter 1:24

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But there is hope!

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. – 1 Peter 1:25

Now, do I bury the poor tater? Or hold on to him another year? You tell me.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Life/Death

Simply Spoiled

I just want to illustrate how spoiled we are with a simple story.

One morning not too long ago I woke up a little late and had to get ready to go to work. Because I woke up late, I didn’t have time to fix any breakfast, not even a cup of coffee. Needless to say, that made me a little irritated.

I was short with my wife, who I woke up shortly after me, because I couldn’t find her purse. I needed at least a dollar or two to buy cup of coffee that morning, because, I mean, seriously, it was going to be another two hours before I could get a cup of coffee at home. All I was asking for was a cup of coffee…not breakfast…I could eat breakfast in a couple of hours.

So, a little later there I was, sitting on the school bus, waiting for my next route, knowing it was going to be a couple of hours before having a cup coffee, or anything to eat… and I was irritated.

How do I know I was (and am) spoiled? I was acting all upset when I should have been thankful!

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    A Family in Zimbabwe.

    I woke up.

  • I was able to get out of bed.
  • I woke up in a house, not a box.
  • My wife is alive and still living with me.
  • I had running water.
  • I’m fully dressed.
  • I have a job.
  • I have a bottle of clean water to drink, which is more clean water than a lot of people see in a lifetime.
  • I only had to wait two hours for a cup of coffee and some food when some people may have to wait two days…or more.
  • I’m writing all of this on a computer. I have a computer with internet, unlike millions of people. I don’t have to take a crowded bus into town just to use the internet.

So, there you have it…simply spoiled and ungrateful. God forgive me! God have mercy on us all!

 

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Filed under America, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons

Daily Devotions: Definitions and Suggestions

How would you define “doing your devotions?”

What is it, exactly?

Honestly, I am a preacher/pastor who has a difficult time doing my “daily devotions.” Frankly, I am even unsure the term “devotions” is actually appropriate. Something about it often strikes me as magical, prescriptive, or simply religious.

You see, I’m the type of person who sorta recoils from scripted religious stuff; I don’t even like responsive reading in church! Whenever a preacher says “Repeat after me…” in a sermon, I usually don’t. Therefore, when I go into a Christian book store like Lifeway and see shelves of “devotionals” and devotional aids – many written by the most popular authors of the day – I feel like I’m being pandered to, the object of some Nashvillian marketing team.

Whatever happened to the promise from Jesus that the Comforter would come and guide me into all truth (John 16:13)? What about the discernment of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14)? Do I need the products of publishing elites to draw me closer to the Lord? Do I really need to read the polished words of some slick conference speaker to better understand the Word of God? Of course not.

But there does need to be some regularity of personal conversation with my heavenly Father. There needs to be regular communication with Jesus. How else could one develop a personal relationship with Someone if they never spent some one-to-one time together?

But again, how does one do it without it becoming mechanical? How does one keep it from becoming routine? How does one do it without letting someone else do all the work? How does one do it without it becoming just one more thing to check off the list?

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to regularly spend time with God; yet, you may have some way that works best for you. Would you mind sharing it?

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Prayer

Funny Observations

Author Unknown

I know this may sound a little crazy, but I can’t remember if I wrote the following “funnies,” or if I borrowed them from somewhere. I may have written them, but I can’t tell.

I found the following statements in my sermon note/outline basket, the place where I “file” my notes and outlines, when I was looking for some sermons to take with me to Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, if I copied these from somewhere I don’t know who to credit. So, I’ll just confess that even if the words are mine, the author is technically unknown.

Isn’t It Funny?

Funny how we set our clocks to arise at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. to be at the job by 7:30, yet when Sunday comes we can’t get to church at 11 a.m. to praise the One who gave us the jobs!

Funny how we call God our Father and Jesus our brother, but find it hard to introduce them to our family.

Funny how small our sins are, but how big their sins are.

Funny how we demand JUSTICE! for others, but expect mercy for ourselves.

Funny how much difficulty some have learning the gospel well enough to tell others, but how simple it is to understand and explain the latest gossip about someone else.

Funny how we can’t think of anything to say when we pray, but don’t have any difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

Funny how we are so quick to take directions from a total stranger when we are lost, but are hesitant to take God’s direction for our lives.

Funny how people want God to answer their prayers, but refuse to listen to His counsel.

Funny how we sing about Heaven, but live only for today.

Funny how people think they’re going to Heaven but don’t believe there’s a Hell.

Funny how it is okay to blame God for evil and suffering in the world, but it is not necessary to thank Him for what is good and pleasant.

Funny how when something goes wrong we cry, “Lord, why me?” but when something goes wrong we think, “Hey, it must be me!”

Oh wait. . . maybe all this isn’t so “funny” after all.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, worship

Giving Solomon Advice

Proverbs 21:19

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

1000 Women

Has anyone noticed that this is the second time Solomon has said something about angry women? It was only ten verses ago that he said it was better to “dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house (verse 9).” Do you think that Solomon could have been having marriage problems?

One of the great ironies in history is that the wisest man to ever live had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3)! One would think that with so much wisdom a man might have figured out a thing or two about the nature of women, but evidently he was either deficient in this one area, or a glutton for punishment. I am not as wise as Solomon, but even I could tell you that having more than one wife might be a bad idea, especially when you’re intending on sharing your life with a thousand! Good grief!

Solomon had a weakness for the opposite sex and all the money in the world to support his habit. 1 Kings 11:3 even says that his wives “turned away his heart” from God. In order to keep them happy, he built altars to other gods. As wise as he was, women were his downfall.

1000 Tempers

I tend to wonder what kind of “man cave” Solomon had. With all those wives and concubines, can you imagine how many tempers were constantly flaring? Can you imagine how many grudges were being held? When 2 or 3 women go to the ladies room together, rumor has it that they talk about us men. Can you imagine what emotional issues a harem full of women could talk about? And don’t you think they constantly blamed Solomon for everything?

It should come as no surprise that both times Solomon mentions women in this chapter he references emotion. After nearly 20 years of marriage and three daughters to my credit, I can speak from experience that women know how to get angry and stay angry. Women are different than men (duh!). It takes a wife that is filled with the Spirit to overcome her tendency to seethe over something stupid her husband did 10-15 years ago.

Advice for Solomon

It may be a little late, but if I could go back in time I would give Solomon a bit of humble advice. I would say to him, “King Solomon, sir, I have a few suggestions that could help you maintain peace in your palace, should you choose, in your wise and awesome wisdomness, to listen.

  • Find that ruby of a woman and make her a solitaire. One rare one is far better than a chest full of imported cubic zirconia.
  • Treat your wife with humility, love, and respect. An unloved and disrespected woman is an angry woman.
  • Money is great, but time is priceless. Spend time with your wife doing things she wants to do. A lonely woman is a bitter woman.
  • Worship the True God with your wife, not the idols of the world. Don’t marry outside the faith expecting to change her. Find a woman that loves the Lord and love Him with her. A woman at odds with you is a contentious woman.

Then I would say, “Choose to do otherwise, dear king, and you might as well go live in the wilderness.”

 

The above post may also be found at ProverbialThought.com

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Marriage