Category Archives: Struggles and Trials

Appreciate the Dandelions; They Are EVIDENCE!

My Katie

Guys (and I do mean that figuratively), you should really get to know my daughter, Katie. She is so gifted by God in photography, music, and even writing. But what most impresses me about Katie is her ability to see the wonder of God in the smallest of things.

Like I said, Katie is a gifted photographer. Her personal blog is called “Shutter Elf,” and features some seriously good photos. I can take a picture of something and it will look like a picture; Katie can take a picture of the exact same thing and it will be art.

Unfortunately, because of college and stinking Instagram, she doesn’t post as much on her blog. I wish she would do more, however. All it takes is a little browsing through her posts and you will notice not only her natural skill as a photographer, but her ability to bring meaning and insight to what the shutter captures.

The Dandelion

Last night, as I was wrapping things up and getting ready to shut things down, I happened to click on a blog post entitled “Overwhelmed.” Just click on the link and check it out.

The author of the blog (I don’t know her name) concluded her post with the following words:

“So today I pray instead for the Lord to show me the value in the dandelions, the treasures to be found hidden in our afflictions, to open my eyes to His blessings safely tucked within the weeds.”

That’s when I had to comment, and the comment consisted of me asking her to do what I’m going to ask you to do…

Read Katie’s post about dandelions! You will never look at them the same again!

Oh, and try to encourage Katie to post more by leaving a comment and subscribing to her blog. 🙂

Click HERE, or on the picture, to read “DANDELIONS.”

Photo Credit: Katie Marie

 

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Filed under blogging, God, Guest Posts, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, worship

Made Perfect in Weakness

A Note

A few years ago (2013) I received a note in the mail from one of my congregation. It was such an encouragement that I wanted to share it with all of you.

Dear Anthony,

You and our family are such a blessing to me.

Wednesday p.m. service was a comfort to me and I know from what three other people shared it was a comforting message they needed to hear, too.

I seems when you are most broken, weary, discouraged, Jesus and the Word pour through you in a powerful way, and we are touched.

Your prayer was like a shepherd interceding for his sheep. 

Thank you for always being so sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

I am blessed to sit under a man of God who teaches and preaches the true Word of God.

You are continually in my prayers…

You see, there are times when we find ourselves wondering if we are even making a difference. But even though we may feel like we are useless at times, the truth of Scripture rings true…

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Send your pastor a note of encouragement. I know he will appreciate it. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, General Observations, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, self-worth, Struggles and Trials

Wake Up and Seize the Day

There are days when one sleeps late, therefore doesn’t get out of bed on time to go to work, or something like that.

Then there are other days when you’ve worked hard (or partied hard) the night before, so you decide to sleep a little longer in the morning.

Sometimes we get the flu, or just a cold, and when morning comes there’s nothing else to do but pull the covers over your head and have your spouse cancel all your appointments.

Then there are times when the last thing you want to do is get out of bed and face another day. Putting your feet on the ground will mean having to do something, to think through something, to deal with somebody, or face an insurmountable situation.

That’s the kind of day I’m having; I just didn’t want to get out of bed.

Nevertheless, I’m up, or I wouldn’t be writing this. If nothing else, having a little dog that can’t figure out how to use a toilet and can’t open the front door sorta makes staying in bed indefinitely a problem. Oh for a doggie door!

But I must remind myself that each and every day is a day the Lord has made. To waste it – even the parts I don’t like – is to waste a priceless gift the Creator has given me. It might be difficult at the moment, but I must “rejoice and be glad in it.”

I have the physical strength to face another day, but my mental and spiritual strength is weak. Does that give me an excuse? Well, what does “when I am weak, He is strong” mean? Does it only apply to the day after a workout?

Some might call it depression. Some might call it the blues. Some might chalk it up to working, more or less, seven days a week (wait, how could I work “more” than seven days?). Some might call it burnout. Whatever it is, I’m breathing, the sun is shining, I’m just a steward of what has been given me, and there’s no guarantee of a tomorrow.

Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all. – 1 Chronicles 29:12 KJV

The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace. – Psalm 29:11 KJV

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. – Psalm 119:116 KJV

God gave this day to us for a reason, so we must seize it! Carpe diem! Who knows? Home might be just around the corner.

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Filed under Depression, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

I’ve Got a Mighty Friend

Tough Times

A few minutes ago I was reading a post from a friend. He expressed several needs, yet praised the Lord for being in control (Romans 8:28). And just this week we in the Baker home realized we will be facing some additional struggles we had hoped to avoid. Nevertheless, aren’t you glad we serve a Mighty God?

All of us are living in tough and troubling times. For some of you, the road you’re on has far more bumps and potholes than the roads of others. Yet, all of us will agree, wherever we are, that the world is not getting any better. Times are tough, and are only going to get tougher (even with a new President).

But…

But, I have a Mighty Friend who is not affected by the whims of men or the winds of time. As a matter of fact, my Friend is the One who created man and started time.

Ten years ago (2007) I wrote a song for my then-little girls to sing. Every time I listen to it these days I’m tempted to kick up my heels, pump my fists, and waved my hands while shouting, “Praise GOD!

Maybe you need some encouragement? Just read the lyrics I have included below, and if God is your friend, don’t worry (Matthew 6:30-34), He’s got this!

Mighty Friend

Well I may not be as tall as a building or strong as a big ol train
I may not be as smart as a scientist doing things I can’t explain
But I know the One who made the tallest mountain and can whip up a hurricane
And the very One who invented gravity says He even knows my name.
 
Well I may not know what’s comin’ in the mornin’, or what the day may bring
Good or bad, I’m not gonna worry, ‘cause Jesus knows everything.
So I’ll do the best with what God has given me as long as there is time
‘Cause the One that got the clocks a-tick’n told me it’ll all be fine.
 
When the devil acts like a bully, putting on a scary show
Before you run away and hide in a corner there’s something you need to know
The One who spoke the world into existence is standing by your side
And if you look close the devil’s knees are shakin’ cause he knows he’ll lose the fight
 
Chorus:
Cause I’ve got a Mighty, Mighty Friend who watches over me
And He’s the Mighty, Mighty Savior who died to set me free
Well I may not be the greatest at anything, but this one thing is so
The God that is the greatest at everything loves me, this I know.
 

© 2007, Anthony C. Baker (BMI)

Katie the Music Major is going to hate me for doing this…

…but I am going to include the recording I was talking about. This was recorded back when she (Katie) was only 10 or 11 years-old. It’s not Nashville quality, but it’s precious. So, as so many people say before they sing in church, “Don’t listen to how we sing, just listen to the words.”

“Mighty Friend”

 

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Filed under Faith, God, music, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, worship

You Can Do What Through Christ?

Warming Up & Weather

It is a wonderfully blustery Wednesday afternoon as I write this on my own computer. However, because I do not have Wi-Fi or a wireless card on this computer, and the nearest place to plug in is too far away for the Ethernet cable to reach, I’m sitting here enjoying my own keyboard and creating a Word document to save on a flash drive, and then take to my wife’s computer which is connected to the world.

I know you didn’t need to know all of that, but I needed to warm up my fingers – I’ve been too long at the iPhone and iPad.

Storms are about to sweep through our area again, much worse than the lightening that came through yesterday. As of the moment of this writing, we are under a tornado watch and expecting straight-line winds of up to 60 mph, along with hail. That’s not good, but I guess it could be worse – Hillary Clinton could be coming to dinner.

So, before the power ends up going out, or at least before I end up having to shut everything down again, I am now going to share with you some thoughts I had yesterday, before my flash of brilliance (that’s call humor)was interrupted by a flash of lightening.

“I can do it!”

tim-tebow-si-coverHow often have you heard it proclaimed, especially by athletes and motivational speakers, “I can do all things through Christ”?  I’m sure you’ve probably seen Philippians 4:13 written on the sleeves and foreheads of runners; tacked on the end of messages to struggling college students; or heard from friends before you accepted that challenging new position.  For the most part, Philippians 4:13 has been used as a tool to soothe our fears of failure and encourage us to greatness, because, after all, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

The only problem with using Philippians 4:13 is that the context has nothing to do with what most people want to accomplish. It has nothing to do with running races, lifting weights, saving relationships, getting promotions, or making money; it does, however, have everything to do with enduring hardship, pain, and unfair loss with growing faith.

In verses 11 and 12 the Apostle Paul stated that he had learned how to be content in all circumstances, whether poor or rich, hungry or well-fed, comfortable or uncomfortable. The “things” to which he was referring in verse 13 are anything but contests, races, jobs, relationships, etc.

So often we forget the struggles and trials our forefathers in the faith have endured. In chapter 4 in his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul was attempting to encourage a poor congregation, not a rich one. He was thanking God for their renewed financial support (v.10), while at the same time encouraging them not to feel guilty for their previous lack of support, because they had “lacked opportunity.” He was saying to them, “Hey, it’s OK! Really! God has taken care of me and met my needs. And even when I was in need, or pain, or suffering, the miraculous power of Jesus Christ has proved real in giving me the ability to be content, whatever the situation.”

But I need Jesus

I don’t know where you are in life, but I am trying to learn, as Paul did (v.11), how to be content, even when I don’t know where I’m going to be living in a month, how I’m going to see the little church I now pastor survive and grow, or whether or not we will be able to pay our basic bills, much less keep the cell phones going. The temptation is to fall prey to fear and doubt, to envy and lust, and to struggle against the current of His will, like a butterfly against a hurricane.

However, if I could just rest in Jesus, admit my frailties, and lean on Him, His grace is sufficient for me, and His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). It shouldn’t matter to my faith if the money isn’t there like it used to be, for “according to His riches” (Eph. 3:16) I will be “strengthened…unto all patience and longsuffering” (Col. 1:11).

Just remember, context…context…context!! Don’t use Scripture where it was never meant to apply. However, no matter what you do, remember the words of Jesus in John 15:5: “…for without me you can do nothing.”

Christ will strengthen the believer that puts his/her trust in Him, but only for the things He has called you to accomplish for His glory. If winning a gold medal, making your first million, or getting that promotion is part of the plan, then so be it; but don’t count on it.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, Theology

My Verse. My Prayer. My Hope. 

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”  – King David (Psalm 57:1-2)

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Filed under Christianity, current events, Depression, God, Struggles and Trials, worship

For Thy Stomach’s Sake

An add I’m about to place:

“Desperate Baptist school bus driver is actively seeking a Greek scholar who can verify στόμαχος (stomachos) also refers to one’s nerves.”

It’s been that kind of day. 

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Filed under Alcohol, baptist, Bible Study, Do not judge, Humor, legalism, Struggles and Trials, Theology, translations