Tag Archives: travel

Away from the Desk

I would love to be writing more, but I’m too busy, spread a little too thin.

But don’t worry, I’m gathering thoughts along the way. It won’t be long before I’ll have a few things to share…

a few items to discuss…

a few observations to unpack…

Hint words: hotels, packing, hospitals, local food, ear plugs, strangers, Air Force One, Jesus, the ark, creation, family, rock ‘n roll…etc

Looking forward to it 🙂

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Filed under America, blogging

Addressing iWorries With iPraise

First of all, I have no photos to upload and post.  If you want to call and talk about it, forget it.

Secondly, I am looking at a computer screen with 1 1/2 times the letters I’m actually typing.

Thirdly, the weeds are still there.

Fourth, I’m an emotional bag of nerves.

Will this be an inspirational post? I don’t know. It all depends. If you have a wonderful life where nothing out of control stresses you out, then you may think to yourself, “Man, I’m glad I’m not that guy.”

On the other hand, you may be in Zimbabwe and might think to yourself, “I wish my problems were as few as his.”

Nevertheless, here’s my story.

iProblems

Last night I went to bed and was going to set my alarm on my phone. When I plugged it into the charger, the charger port was broke. How/when did that happen??! I have no clue, but that has to be fixed…today!

I had photos I was going to upload for a post, but now I dare not turn on my phone and run down what charge I still have. Should there be an emergency, I will need to make a call. But now my wife can’t get ahold of me, and that’s a big problem – as you will see in just a second.

iBlind

And if the phone problem wasn’t enough, my glasses broke yesterday. I mean, I literally took them off my face and the dang things just fell apart! We’re not talking a loose screw, or anything – the frame broke!

If you want to know why that’s a big issue, let me just tell you the brand name of the frame: Silhouette.  Another expensive fix.

iNearly Cursed

Before my glasses fell apart in my hands, something else decided to up and die – the new lawn trimmer.

Look, I don’t have to mow the lawn surrounding our church, the fellowship hall, and the house we live in; someone else does that. However, that someone is a little bit older and has difficulty getting on and off his riding mower, not to mention trimming the grass around three structures and parking lots. So, in order to help out, while at the same time give me the satisfaction of doing something outside, I broke down and purchased a new trimmer.

Keep in mind, I might be 5+ months past shoulder surgery, but pulling the crank on a lawn trimmer is still not easy. So, after about 50 pulls I almost let loose a string of profanities, but I didn’t. Well… maybe a word or two.

iMiss’em

Then, on top of all that, my wife and youngest daughter just drove around the corner and out of sight as they are on their way out of town for 3 days. They are going to a conference in Knoxville, TN.

What’s wrong with that? Well, I absolutely hate it when my wife leaves town, especially with one of the girls. Why? Because they are out there somewhere and I can’t protect them. I’m also pretty clueless when my wife isn’t around to manage things.

It’s sorta kind of crazy, I guess. It’s no big deal for me when I leave town for something, but when my wife leaves town I can’t even sleep at night.

iPraise

So, as I was writing down all my first-world problems, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a scripture passage – literally, it came to mind as I stepped away to let the dog out to pee:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

No, that doesn’t mean I should be thankful my glasses, iPhone, and weedeater broke. But what it does mean is that I should be thankful that even in the middle of all this brokenness, Christ has a plan for me. Yes, even when things like these break.

I must remind myself that God ordains my footsteps, and it might just be that He needs my witness at a repair shop or return counter. If a broken iPhone allows me to talk about Jesus, wouldn’t that be great?

Then, right after I thought of the above verse from 1 Thessalonians, another verse came to mind:

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 CSB

No, I can’t always be there to watch over my wife and daughters, but God is there. They are in His hand. He can watch over them far better than I can.

If I keep that in mind I might just get some sleep.

 

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

Just Around the Bend

There are a lot of straight roads, some of which go on for miles upon miles. Most roads, however, are not completely straight; they have turns and curves.

Life is like most roads: it is full of twists and turns, many of which conceal what’s just around the bend.

This morning I was traveling down a stretch of Highway 24 that curved along beside the Tennessee River and into downtown Chattanooga. The sun was rising in the east, therefore practically blinding anyone driving in that direction.

The following thought crossed my mind and prompted me to pull out my camera: “This sort of looks like I’m on the road to Heaven, and there’s the glow of the city just ahead.”

That’s when I took this picture.

Fact is we really don’t know what lies ahead around the bend, do we? Sure, we have things like maps, GPS, and the popular Waze app, but eternity is not exactly a pot hole, speed trap, or detour.

Just around the next bend in the road your trip could end. What then?

It would be best to know what direction you are headed, for only one leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:14; John 14:6).

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Filed under Future, Life/Death, salvation

How Thankful Are You?

Walking down the streets of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, I came across a few middle school-aged boys playing with toy cars and trucks. What made it so unusual was the toys they were playing with.

But I’ll get to that in a moment… keep reading.

If you will remember, Zimbabwe has between 8o% to 90% unemployment. Did you get that? Between 8 and 9 out of every 10 people are without a job. Do you have job? ANY kind of job? Well, then, you should be thankful, even if you can’t stand what you do.

But here’s another question… Do you play with toys you didn’t have to make yourself? Oh, sure, many of you are grown up big people and don’t play with toys, right? Yeah, I get it. But do you?

Right now there are probably some things you wish you had, but all you have right now is last year’s model. You are jealous of your neighbor and their new car, truck, or house. Your friend got a new smart phone. You feel like God has treated you unfairly because you can’t have what you REALLY want. Am I close?

Why not enjoy and be thankful for what you have? Frankly, most of the “problems” we have are what we call “first world problems.” What does that mean? It means that most of what you and I complain about are only the kind of problems the rich and spoiled of the “first world” countries can have.

Yes, we are spoiled brats when we complain about not having the newest iPhone, the new car, the newest video game, the next generation Glock, etc.

You see, here’s the thing… If you don’t have to make your own “toys,” you’re blessed way more than you deserve. And “blessed” might not be the best choice of words.

Below are some pictures of boys playing with the cars and trucks THEY made out of wire. They were having fun.

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Still have something to complain about? Why not share in the comment section. Maybe we could all cry together.

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Filed under America, General Observations, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

Going to Africa!

Thanks!

zimbabwe mapI give praise to the Lord for all of your prayers and financial support! As of last week all the needed funds for my mission trip to Zimbabwe had come in. What a blessing! What an answer to prayer!

Yes, I needed between $2,500-$2,700 in a relatively short amount of time – right during the time when I my income was greatly reduced  – and you folks stepped up to the bat and hit a home run!

I can’t wait to send out “thank you” notes to all that I can.

Stress

Now, I have to admit that all is not fun and games, however. Even though I have received all the need funds to make the trip, I am still having to pinch pennies as I purchase the necessary items to take with me – and the luggage in which to carry it.

It has been a long time since I’ve flown, and back then things weren’t so strict. Also, back then I didn’t worry about taking all the stuff I’m having to take this time. Even more stressful has been the challenge of determining what size of suitcase and carry-on to buy. Believe it or not, I had to borrow a measuring tape from a store clerk so that I could make sure what I bought was under 62 inches, and still I was so confused I didn’t even get anything.

Buying luggage is worse than shoe shopping!

And there’s more… It’s less than a week from my departure and I’ve still got to find enough clothes, change the starter on my daughter’s car, paint, clean house (and garage), try to get registered for my next round of seminary (pursuing an M.Div.), prepare for Sunday’s sermons, do some visiting, drive a bus for a field trip, schedule guest posts on this blog, and do a LOT of praying!

It’ll Be OK

You know, the Lord has brought me thus far, why should I worry? I could really use a few more dollars to finish up getting a few supplies, but God will provide. I don’t yet understand all the luggage stuff, but I’ll get it sooner or later. Somehow I’ll get a good portion of my to-do list done before I leave – I hope.

I believe God has something great in store for me. I don’t know what it is, but it will be what’s needed and what’s best. My prayer is that it will include a safe trip to Zimbabwe and back to the States, back home. I also pray it will include personal revival, along with stories of many in Chinhoyi coming to Christ.

But whatever happens, God is in control, and it’ll be OK. Just keep praying for me, would you? And prayers for my family would be appreciated, too!

Thanks!

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Filed under ministry, places, Thanksgiving

Islands

The following is a guest post written by David Welford. The only islands I’ve ever been to are the Florida Keys. – Anthony Baker

I have a natural affinity for islands. I grew up on a small island called Guernsey, and moved to the rather larger island of Great Britain when I was eleven years old. Since then I have visited many islands, my preference being for the smaller variety.

Newfoundland, while interesting, was just too big. Guernsey, measuring just eight miles by five, was perfect. But then I am biased in favor of my childhood home.

There are smaller islands close to Guernsey that are wonderful for a day visit, but living permanently on a very small island poses certain challenges including food supplies, schooling, and social interaction.
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Last week I visited Madeira for the first time. Madeira is a Portuguese island that rises steeply from the Atlantic Ocean and has a population of roughly 280,000. To me that is a lot of people, but the island itself is small enough to get around.

Madeira is very rugged and very green. Everything seems to grow in abundance despite the gradients, and everywhere I went the land seemed to have been terraced to maximize the space available for crops.
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Accessibility to islands like Madeira is not always easy. There is an airport in Madeira but until the runway was extended a few years back the safety reputation of the airport was not good. There is a small harbor where cruise ships call, but there is no ferry service.

For some reason Madeira has an attraction for the elderly, and I was one of the youngest passengers on my flights to and from the island. I guess the young head to more exciting places.
Church

In some ways churches resemble islands. There are small and large churches, and there are churches that only seem to attract the elderly, while others appeal to the young.

A certain commitment is required to visit church, and significant journeys can be required because fewer churches seem to be inhabited these days.

In some churches there is evidence of abundant growth, but others resemble the desert islands that are visible from the south coast of Madeira where nothing grows.

Problems also occur when churches become exclusive – a bit like islands that fall into celebrity ownership, with Necker in the Caribbean being a prime example. The only way to visit Necker is as a guest or employee of a certain Sir Richard Branson.
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While certain types of island attract many visitors, it seems that few churches have much to offer to the world these days. I find myself increasingly drawn to the New Testament model of church where many small islands of faith appeared in an ocean of unbelief and opposition, and grew because friends and neighbors could see Jesus in the lives of their friends and neighbors.
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I am aware that this post poses questions without providing answers, but as my thoughts travelled between islands and church I found myself challenged about church in general, the church I belong to, and the home group I attend once a fortnight.

I think the main challenge is to continue being challenged and asking questions, rather than trying to work out what type of island my church might be. But, if my church is not a place where Jesus can be found and disciples are being grown then it is no better than a desert island, regardless of how many inhabitants it might have.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 NLT)

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Filed under Christianity, Countries, General Observations, Life Lessons, places, Vacation

Anthony’s Appetite (Big Bob’s Bar-B-Q)

Bar-B-Q

I may have known in the past, but I have forgotten what Bar-B-Q stands for. I don’t know why it is spelled that way, or why other people spell it BBQ. Some people spell it out as Barbecue, but it’s all the same – good eat’n!

If you don’t know what BBQ is, then you may not be from the South…or West…or East…or anywhere animals are smoked and cooked and eaten with coleslaw and banana pudding. One thing’s for sure, if you have never eaten BBQ, you may not be American.

Decatur, Alabama

Not long ago we went to Decatur, Alabama, which is just a few miles southwest of Huntsville, the place with space and rocket museum. Decatur is also the home of Cooks Pest Control.

Back in the mid-90’s I worked for Cooks in Chattanooga, but had to train in Decatur for a month. While at the home office’s training facility, we were encouraged to go to Big Bob’s Bar-B-Q. We were told it was required of us, in order to be good employees, to eat one of Big Bob’s stuffed baked potatoes. We did, and I never forgot it.

That is why when I visited Decatur this time with my family, it was imperative that we go back and eat another potato. You, the reader, needed to hear about it.

Big Spud

Let me tell you, if you want to eat the best Bar-B-Q in the world, Big Bob’s is out to convince you theirs is it. If nothing else, they have the awards and the big-time recognition to back up their claims. But whether or not their BBQ is the best, they have a serious stuffed potato.

This huge potato comes with your choice of pulled pork, beef brisket, or chicken. Under that is cheese, sour cream, butter, and a few other goodies. Believe me, it is a meal and a half. Just don’t eat it if you are on a carb-free diet.

Overall

I won’t say that Big Bob’s is the best BBQ in the world, but it is pretty dang good. And if you want a potato that will hold a quarter of a pig, then Big Bob’s is a place you need to try at least once. You won’t regret it.

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Filed under Food, places