Tag Archives: hope

Sometimes All You Can Do is Ride the Pieces

Photo by Nadine Biezmienova (free Pexels)

Have you ever thought you were doing well, only to find out you weren’t?

Here’s another question… Have you ever tried to improve yourself, only to find that the improvements you thought you were making were actually counterproductive to your end goals?

Have you ever had the best intentions and done everything right to the best of your ability, only to find yourself making one mistake that dominoes into a pile on the floor?

Believe me, I’ve not just been there, I’m here . . . and I’ve got the t-shirt ordered.

So what now? Question myself even more? Wallow in self-pity or succumb to the darkening clouds of doubt and depression?

What do you do (if, of course, you’ve ever experienced something like this)? How do you deal with it?

How do I deal with it? That’s a great question!

There are times when there’s nothing you can do to fix a problem. We humans – especially men – are all about trying to fix problems. Nevertheless, sometimes the problem is too big to fix, at least by us.

These are the times that I mentioned in a sermon just this past week. These are the times I spoke of (generically speaking) when I outlined the times when Satan will take advantage.

These are the precise times of brokenness, weakness, sadness, futility, and resignation that our Enemy, per his usual mode of operation (the “wiles” of the Devil), attempts to make things even worse by turning our eyes away from Christ and onto the waves about to sink our frail boat.

There are times when it is difficult to say, “Hold on through the night.” No, about the only thing one can do at these times is commit to holding on just beyond the moment we think we can’t hold on any longer. These are the times when we HAVE to depend on God’s strength, His mercy, and His grace.

Friend, you may think all is lost. The truth is that it may be. Yes, that’s what I said. Sometimes all WILL be lost. But that doesn’t mean God is done and everything is over.

There was a time in the life of the Apostle Paul when, as a prisoner, he was aboard a ship that was bound for destruction. Even though everything was done to lighten the ship and keep it afloat through days and days of an unrelenting storm, God told Paul to tell those on the ship that yes, it would eventually sink and be a total loss.

Except – and this is a biggie – no lives would be lost. The only catch was that, at the news the ship was going to crash, no one was to abandon ship. Those that abandoned ship would die. Only those who stayed on the ship till it broke up would survive.

In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.

Acts 27:30-32 NIV

Crazy, isn’t it?

But that’s what happened. They all stayed on the ship until it ran aground and broke into pieces. The pieces are what they were able to use to float to safety.

But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.

Acts 27:41-44 NIV

I get it! I understand exactly what you are going through! Satan will try to get us to jump ship, throw in the towel, give up the mission, abandon the post, or simply walk away into the dark never to be seen again. I mean, what’s the use, right? If the ship is sinking anyway, why ride it into the rocks?

Listen, as one wreck-in-the-making to another, it may be scary, and it won’t be easy, but keep sailing – stay in the ship for a little longer. . . just a little longer than the moment when you think you can’t go on . . .

Because God may have a plan for the pieces of wreck that an intact ship couldn’t accomplish.

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Filed under Depression, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

Good Morning!

green trees under blue and orange sky during sunset

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

Good Morning?

How often do you say that? How often do you hear it said to you? “Good morning!”

Funny thing is that those same two words can be spoken in so many ways. How many of the following do you think express the true meaning of the salutation?

  • “Good morning.” – as spoken by a husband to his wife after waking up sore, sleep-deprived, and just slightly damp after a night camping under the stars.
  • “Good morning!” – as expressed through the sinister grin of a drill seargent on the first morning after arriving at boot camp.
  • “Good morning.” – growled by a teenager the morning after being threatened with the loss of her cell phone if one more disrespectful word spewed from her lips.
  • “Good morning!!” – as exclaimed by a “Karen” the first morning on the job after being hired as a quality control manager with the business at which she had recently voiced her disapproval of employees’ customer service.

Correct, none of the above examples express the intended (or at least commonly understood) meaning of the greeting.

So, what is saying “Good morning!” supposed to mean?

Unless I’m sorely mistaken, when you say “Good morning” to someone, what you are doing is one of two things:

  • a) stating a fact; or
  • b) wishing for, or blessing another with a desire that their morning actually be a good one.

Based on the above definition, I want to wish you a “Good morning!” I also want to say that it IS a “Good morning!” This is the day that the Lord has made, remember? Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Sure, I know you might have aches and pains, but you woke up! You’ve been given another day to do something with those talents God has intrusted to you. Invest them!

Yes, you may have lost everything in a bankruptcy, a divorce, or a tragedy of some kind. But you survived! You’re alive! Now’s the moment when you can start seeing the miraculous hand of God work! You might have been so caught up in other things that you failed to see how good God is, but now you can better focus on the grace and mercy of the One who clothes the flowers and really does care about you!

The Bible says that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning”! This is a brand new day. You may have really, without a doubt, messed up yesterday. But, you know what? If you are a born-again, blood-washed, redeemed child of God, the Cross means that what Jesus did has already atoned for your mess up. You’re forgiven! Now, walk in forgiveness and grace while giving God the glory!

Instead of reading this, you COULD be in eternal torment, separated from the loving presence of God. begging for just a single drop of water to cool your tongue, but you’re not! It’s not a matter of luck; there’s a reason.

So, I’d say, without a doubt, no matter who you are, it is … and I bless you with these words …

Good morning!

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Filed under Christianity, Depression, Divorce, Life Lessons, salvation, Thanksgiving, worship

I’m NOT Going to Puke! I’m n…

This is going to be an unusual entry, as if the title wasn’t enough of a clue. I’m going to talk about holding back from puking – puking my emotions, that is.

Let’s start with the whole disgusting vomiting thing.

You know what it’s like – that feeling of a sour stomach, a queasiness, a warning that your body is preparing to expel what it thinks is harmful to process, right?

Have you ever had that feeling but determined you were going to do everything in your superpowers to stop it from happening?

First, you try to convince yourself that it’s nothing, really. I mean, sure, you didn’t give thanks to Jesus for that sandwich from Chick-fil-A because, after all, it came pre-blessed. And that sushi from the kiosk in the food court didn’t taste too strange, at least no more than normal.

The next thing you do is think, “It’s only a little upset stomach,” then ask, “Where’s the Mylanta?” Yeah, that’s all you need.

The sweat begins to bead on your forehead. More excuses. More rationalizing. You find a place to lie down and moan a muffled declaration into your pillow: “I’m NOT going to throw up!”

Sometimes it works. Sometimes.

Well, this is the best way I can describe the feelings I have after the death of my mother, Rebecca Marie Baker, this past Tuesday morning.

Rebecca Marie Baker 12/28/44 – 3/16/21

It’s like I feel a familiar sensation, a pressure, a something… it’s like I know if I was so many other people I would have already broken down and wept. But when the urge comes my immediate response – and it’s actually a physical, tangible response – is to tap it back down. And I am not even sure if it’s on purpose. Actually, I know it’s not.

If the body eats something that is bad for it, the natural response is to expel it. To keep it inside and to digest it could be harmful.

But what of the heart? What of the emotions? What of pain and grief?

I mentioned this to my wife and she suggested I “let it out.” But the last time I cried uncontrollably was when I stood at the door of the bedroom of one of our daughters after she moved off to college.

I don’t like to cry like that. I don’t like being that weak. I especially don’t like people seeing me that way.

However, Jesus wept. Yes, He did.

But not every time.

At least that we know.

I know these last few weeks were difficult, and I know we talked a lot about you going to heaven, but now that you are gone, I’m going to miss you. I am glad I was able to tell you I loved you and to hear your weak voice whisper back, “I love you, too.”

I’m thankful I was able to sit by your bed, hold your hand, and sing Amazing Grace to you as you left this world of pain. I wish I could have seen the look on your face when you breathed your first taste of heavenly air.

I can only imagine what it was like for you and Daddy to see each other again.

This is why it’s hard to cry. This is why it’s difficult to grieve. You are where you were born again to go.

Your faith has become sight!

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15 NLT

I’m happy for you, Momma! I’m sure there are tears of joy where you are, too.

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Filed under Life/Death, Relationships and Family

My Last Post of 2020

Glad it’s over, but at least I’m better prepared for the next catastrophe. Amen?

Thank you, everyone. All of you who have read any of my posts, all of you are appreciated, even Stephen in Canada 😉

Tonight, at 6pm our time, we are going to be having a New Year’s Eve service. It won’t be a long one, nor will it be a traditional-like service. All I plan to do is read a verse or two from the Bible and ask if anyone would like to share a word or two about the past year. Then, as Jesus and his disciples did right before He was taken to be tried, we will have our version of the Passover meal: the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus said of the Passover meal, and by extension the celebration of that last supper we observe today, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul said that as often as we partake in the communion meal, we “proclaim His death” until He returns. I want to offer it tonight for both those reasons.

Remember Jesus. If that is one thing we probably did not do enough of is think of Jesus during the last year. On the other hand, it is very possible that many people who never thought about God at all had their minds on things eternal. Did we as Christians take advantage of that opportunity? Did we think about life and death as much as those who were without hope?

I can’t help but think that the Church has been given a rare opportunity, at least a once-in-a-lifetime chance to offer Christ during a time of great uncertainty and questioning. For most of the past year we have seen something comparative to the Ethiopian reading a scroll he barely understood and we as Phillip being sent to answer his questions. How many of us have even considered the answers?

Proclaim His death until He comes. The second thing about communion is that by partaking in it we show that we have put our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. We believe that His blood was shed and His body was broken on our behalf, and that Jesus was buried only to rise again. And we believe, as He promised to rise again, He also promised to return. Therefore, we partake with a grateful and expectant heart as we proclaim to the watching world where our faith lies.


Before I go, I want to clue you in to the subject matter of my next substantive post. As some of you may have read, a man named Stephen has been leaving some pretty harsh and antagonistic comments here on the blog. I have honestly come close a time or two to blocking him. However, I’ve not been able to do that.

So, in a previous comment to Stephen, I said that I would like to take his accusations and false charges and answer them one-by-one. Unfortunately, a lot has happened over the last couple of months and I forgot to do so. However, I am in the process of compiling ALL Stephens comments going back to January of this year. From these comments I am going to pull specific issues and questions that I will attempt to address. Please pray that the Lord will use the material I post to open the eyes of blind and allow the hard-of-hearing to hear His voice.


May the joy of the Lord be your strength in 2021.

Put Jesus first in all you do.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Church, current events, Future, God

When my heart is overwhelmed

“from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I‭‭” Psalm 61:2 Over the past few days, …

When my heart is overwhelmed

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Filed under Guest Posts, Love of God, Struggles and Trials

Preach What YOU Need to Hear

To begin, let me first apologize for the horribly weak audio of me speaking. The video I’m attaching was recorded, as usual, on my iPhone, but for some reason the corded external microphone attached to the pulpit didn’t work!

Ironically, you can hear everyone else clearly.

But beyond the audio issue, I’m attaching this video from Sunday night in order to encourage you. You see, even preachers need preaching to.

Did you know God loves you? He does.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them. Either comment below or email me at pastoracbaker@yahoo.com.

Blessings!

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Filed under baptist, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Christianity, Depression, Love of God, Preaching

Just Be Thankful You’re Alive!

Sunrise over Chattanooga

As I Was Reading…

As I was reading the book of Lamentations (not the happiest of reads), I read a verse I’d like to share with you.

Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins? (Lamentations 3:39, CSB)

What does this verse mean?

Simply put, if you have been punished for your sins by a Holy God … and you’re still alive … you have nothing to complain about!

Seriously, so often we gripe about the circumstances we endure, yet those circumstances are often the result of our own sinful decisions.

But isn’t it a wonderful thing that we are so loved by our heavenly Father? Because he is rich in mercy, He does not pour out on us the punishment we deserve.

We are alive! We should be grateful!

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. – Lamentations 3:41-42

Did You See the Sunrise?

There are so many things in this world we could complain about. So often those who complain the most are the ones who have the most. But if there’s anything worth rejoicing about, it is the fact that we serve a God who is rich in mercy.

We don’t deserve anything good, no matter how small or insignificant; we deserve judgement.

However, if I just turn back one page in my Bible I can read verse 22, where it says, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” And, thankfully, they are new every morning!

If you are reading this, then you are alive!

Why not take a moment and praise Him?

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Filed under Bible Study, God, grace

The Emptiness that Leads to Protests Confirms a Greater Need to Share Jesus

Good Wednesday morning, everyone!

I hope this post finds you well, whether it be a Wednesday where you are, or not 😉

This morning I went walking around my neighborhood in order to burn off some ill-gotten calories. While I was walking, a thought came to mind regarding the current social climate of unrest and ever-present protesting. As briefly as possible, I want to share my thought with you and beg your feedback.

Thanks.

By the way, this is a view of my office “work place” this morning.

Why do people protest like they do?

More specifically, why to white people run the streets tearing up stuff in support of Black Lives Matter? Please don’t be triggered – this is not a racial argument that I’m attempting to make. I ask this because the whites are not being treated like the blacks, so why protest and even risk (in a few places) being arrested?

Aside from those who join protests for no other reason than to find an accepted avenue through which to express their hoodlum-istic desires to vandalize something, I believe people join protests because they believe in the cause (whatever that may be).

Now, granted, the “causes” for many protests I’ve seen are weak and unsubstantiated, contrived, or overblown. But for the most part, the people marching, protesting, occupying, vandalizing, and even those who are acting like idiots while standing in front of moving trucks are doing it because they “believe” in something worth acting a fool.

Now, to the point…

I believe that what we are seeing in our nation, even the world, is the outward expression of a deep, inward void … an emptiness of moral value and sense of purpose, which leads a hopeless society to latch on to any cause that may sooth our souls’ desire for the spiritual.

In other words, what we are witnessing is a society, one that has purged itself of transcendent, objective meaning, all of a sudden finding within itself an insatiable hunger for what it refuses to accept, so it feeds on the artificial.

What I see are people who need to feel righteously indignant in order to gloss over the reality of their own unrighteousness.

Are there legitimate reasons for protests? Of course there are – at least in some cases. However, aside from any agenda that might be afoot and seeking to overturn our nation and system of government, what I see are not adults who’ve given a lot of well-informed thought to why they are doing what they are doing, but younger people who need a reason to wake up in the morning.

Black lives matter, so that means they, too, can find meaning – and matter.  Even more, they can be a part of a group, a community of like-minded activists complete with vibrant, charismatic speakers, which will literally walk along side them and encourage them to stay strong.

Therefore, it appears to me that the world STILL needs Christ, whether they want to admit it, or not. As a matter of fact, this modern culture of protest and activism only confirms there’s a greater need than ever to share Jesus.

Your thoughts?

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Filed under America, Christianity, current events

Something Good Worth Waiting For

I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. – Psalm 40:1

There’s an old saying, “good things come to those who wait.” Where did it come from? Who said it first? I don’t know, although I’m sure it’s traceable. All I know is that the first verse of Psalm 40 says almost the same thing, only what comes to the one waiting is better than anything this world can offer.

Something’s Wrong

Let’s think about some things that have to be going on for this verse to make any sense. First, something is wrong. Why else would David be crying out to God? Something is wrong. Why else would he be wanting God to do something.

Last night I dealt with some serious prayer requests. One thing led to another and I brought up the question that so many ask: “If there’s a God, then why is there pain? Why do good people suffer?” Here’s another question, though: If there is no God, and still there is pain and suffering, then what’s the point? Either there is pain and suffering and people going through bad times for no reason whatsoever, or there is a great plan beyond our understanding, one being worked out by a loving God.

The pain is there, regardless. Why not believe there’s hope?

In God’s Time

The second thing to observe is the fact that God works on His own time table. David cried out, for how long we don’t know, but God’s response was not immediate.

How often to we find ourselves calling out in prayer, “Do something! Do it NOW!” In David’s case, whatever was wrong was more than he could handle on his own; he needed divine intervention. How often do search for immediate answers? How often do we question God and His timing all because we know more about what is really needed at the moment?

David waited patiently. Patience requires faith. It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Are you waiting patiently?

To Those Who Wait

To those who wait patiently on the Lord; to those who have faith that God will indeed do what is best; to those who wait God gives something that most do not realize they never truly have – His undivided attention. David waited patiently on the Lord, and He “inclined” unto him.

Picture two people sitting at a table. Lots of other people are at the table, too, just going on and on about all manner of stuff. One person tries to talk to the other, but there are so many distractions. Eventually, when the other notices how much the one wants to talk, he leans over, rests on an elbow, bends an ear, and says, “Now, what were you saying?”

God is omniscient; it’s not like He can’t hear all prayers. But within this verse we get a glimpse into the reality that there is something special, a sweet privilege that comes to those who “wait patiently on the Lord.” To reach that point of communion with the Creator of the universe, to know you have His ear: now that’s a good thing for which to wait, don’t you think?

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Filed under Bible Study, God, Love of God, Theology

What Was It Like, The Night Before?

Wells Branch Community Church: Austin, TX > Despair and the Key ...

 

Just imagine … the night before the resurrection.

Tomorrow is Easter, the day that we celebrate the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. But here it is the night before, the night before the celebrations, and few of us have any idea of the sense of total despair the followers of Jesus must have been experiencing on this night – the night before.

For three and a half years his disciples had followed Him around, listening to His stories, His parables, and His prayers. They had witnessed miracle after miracle which should have confirmed to them His claims to be the Messiah. Yet, just two days ago they witnessed the supposed Son of God, the “resurrection and the life” (that’s what he told Mary and Martha, you know, on the day He raised Lazarus from the dead), betrayed, beaten, falsely convicted, and tortuously crucified.

Then, after his tormentors had done all they could do, Jesus died. It was pretty obvious to all who were present.

It grew dark and the earth shook violently, as to add insult to injury, for even creation sensed the tragedy of it all.

They saw Him buried.

Some ran…some huddled as they hid…would they be next?

What of the “Kingdom” the Jesus had spoken of?

What good were the words “he that believeth on me shall not die, but have everlasting life” if the one saying it could be unjustly convicted, abandoned by heaven, and left to die in the most disgraceful and painful way? How could HE make such a promise if HE could die?

It was the night before, just like tonight, yet there was no anticipation of worship services or egg hunts – only the expectation of another sunrise without the Son.

They were afraid…broken…discouraged…faithless…confused…angry…directionless…without hope…

They were totally unprepared for what was about to happen, because the last thing they were thinking of was that this was…

the night before.

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Filed under Easter