Posted: February 6, 2012 in Faith, Family
The dedication page of my first book says this…. “To my grandfathers E. Lee Baker and Pastor J. T. McCracken thank you for lighting the way and living an example worthy of being emulated”
My grandfather Pastor J.T. McCracken went on to glory two days ago, on Saturday February 4th, 2012. My thoughts and prayers have been directed toward my mom, whose daddy has passed and my grandmother, whose love of her life is now awaiting her in heaven. Although I never witnessed it myself, I heard many a story of him standing on the pews to preach. It surely grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. I remember preaching at a youth conference over a decade ago and I stood on a chair in the front row to make sure I had the teenagers attention. It wasn’t until after the fact that I realized somewhere in the subliminal of my subconscious that a seed had been sown. He preached with a hell, fire and brimstone, approach but you knew his passion was for people. He was the type of Pastor that would take on Hell with water pistol. His message was simple, share the Great News of Jesus the Christ and compel people to surrender their lives to the love of the Savior. For me answering the call of ministry came with a drive to live up to the legacy lived out before me. I don’t know that I can put it better than Paul, when he penned these words….
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ESV
I have an amazing peace that as I type these words my grandpa J.T. is now in the presence of the Creator King Jesus.
Posted: January 25, 2012 in Extra, Family
She was 19 and almost everyone thought we were crazy. Thirteen years ago today Ashlee and I were in Las Vegas committing to share the rest of our lives together. There is some truth about being crazy when getting married. You are committing to another person and inviting them to share life together. Your ups, downs, and all arounds, you will endure it together. It’s tough if you think about it and without commitment and sacrifice you won’t make it. Marriage is at minimum very complicated. You have to love, hope, compromise, and most importantly serve each other. Marriage has been the most challenging, frustrating, and toughest thing I’ve ever done. It has also been the most unique, rewarding, and fun thing I have ever done as well. It has not been perfect but it had been blissful. Each day brings with it opportunities to grow stronger together or further apart. Love is a choice. Some days it’s easier to choose to love than others, but you still get to choose. You have to choose to love. Funny thing is she still takes my breath away. The longer we’re married the more I appreciate her approach to life. She continues to rub off on me as we grow together. She is free spirited, creative, and she has learned the art of living in the moment. Marriage is challenge but if you take the time make the investment it can be tons of fun!
still in love,
Posted: January 24, 2012 in Extra, Leadership
Take the time to read the article I’m referencing in this blog – read here. I know you may not have the resources of a company like Google and I’m not necessarily suggesting you have to put a gym or pool at the office or pool table in the garage but I am suggesting you mix it up a bit. Have your kiddos hit a road block?
Maybe your kid has hit a wall in development, it could be a sport, hobby, or school subject. Taking a break or a change of scenery could provide countless benefits. This is our oldest son, Lee. He was having a tough day at school. Some days little boys just can’t sit still. It has nothing to do with lack of respect or discipline, it’s in their DNA. Boys don’t need to be medicated to fix this, they need to have an outlet to be boys. Lee had some reading he had to have completed for the day. It wasn’t working sitting at the table but he only had 3 chapters left of Moby Dick and wanted to complete it. So he goes outside, climbs a tree, and finishes his school work. He needed a change of scenery to be more effective.
Do your associates seem less passionate? Mix it up and have some fun at the office. Your team may just need a team builder. You don’t need to spend a ton of money. Instead of a conference call, meet in park and go over the materials for the day there. If you are focusing on providing a certain type experience, take your team to an establishment that you enjoy and allow them to see what you see. Leadership is as much about creativity as it is about communication. One of Google’s famous perks is allowing associates to work on special projects 20% of their time. So an associate works 4 days on their normal workload and 1 full day on a pet project or something an individual is passionate about. As a leader your associate’s personal development is one of your greatest assets. Make sure you empower and encourage your associates to take some time out of their day to develop and grow themselves. If your not getting the results needed, maybe you just need to change it up a bit. Whether in family or business often a change of pace is all that you’ll need in order to increase productivity.
Boring Prevention Member,
Posted: January 16, 2012 in Extra, Faith
I’ve thought about the content of this post for several weeks now. The fascination and coverage of this young man is unprecedented in my young generation. I have heard conversations in the office, at the gym, and even heard two guys, who didn’t appear to know each other, discussing him in the line at the grocery store. The amount of post I’ve seen on facebook and tweets on twitter have been interesting and at times overwhelming. Besides the Monday morning quarterbacking going on there is something much deeper. I’m not going to defend his play on the field. I don’t watch enough football to offer an educated critique. However, I do know he has played the equivalent of one season. So as far as I can tell he’s had a decent start for a rookie. I’ve wondered what makes this one guy so polarizing, it seems it must be more than his faith. I believe it has more to do with someone who is actually living his faith. I will offer you 4 thoughts that I believe can sum up why people love to hate this 24 year old football player.
ABORTION – yep I said it. Apparently it’s a miracle that he is even alive. You can see a high level of the story here. Here is the short of it, his mom was sick while pregnant with him in thePhilippines. The doctors suggested an abortion because they believed he’d be stillborn. His mom chose otherwise. As far as I can tell he turned out all right. The fact that this guy is a walking billboard against abortion I think it causes a rise in many. P.S. Abortion was started to control a certain population. That’s not an opinion it’s a fact.
PURITY – Unfortunately in the times we live in a 24 year old virgin is usually made a mockery of and still is. I heard one radio commentator said there was no way a 20 year old college quarterback at a major university could stay a virgin. He stands for everything our culture stands against. The idea of waiting to give yourself fully to the one you intend to spend the rest of your life with has now become the exception, it’s no longer the rule. Most men I know treat women like tennis shoes. They have to try on several pairs before they decide which one to take home. Then after they are well worn, broken in and used up, its time to look for another pair. Even worse is when a man takes the shoes home and find out there well worn, damaged and scarred and instead of continuing to wear them they cast them aside.
THE TEBOW RULE – This one fascinates me the most. In 2010, a new rule for the next NCAA football season, dubbed “The Tebow Rule” by media because it would have affected him, banned messages on eye paint. During his college football career, Tebow frequently wore references to biblical verses on his eye black. In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, he wore John 3:16 on his eye black; the verse was the highest-ranked Google search term over the next 24 hours, generating over 90 million searches. Additionally, later, when Tebow switched to another verse, there were 3.43 million searches of “Tim Tebow” and “Proverbs 3:5-6″ together. Tebow stated of the searches “It just goes to show you the influence and the platform that you have as a student-athlete and as a quarterback atFlorida”. I’ve always considered John 3:16 to be the most well known verse in the Bible. To think that 90 MILLION people had to see what it said is shameful. For far too long we’ve kept our faith a secret in an ever increasing secular culture.
FAITH OUT LOUD – I can understand the SNL skit portraying Jesus telling Tim Tebow to “tone it down” entertainment. What most disturbs me is the individuals I have heard who have been credited as followers of Christ to have the same feeling. I even heard a guy at church say that he is over the top. I’d say if you don’t allow your faith to be lived out loud….just maybe you didn’t meet the same Jesus Tebow has given his life to. If you think toning down is the right answer you might be part of the reason over 90 million people had to google the meaning of John 3:16. I can understand your reservation in this ever increasing “politically correct” western world we live in, you feel pressure to keep your faith to yourself. A simple point before I carry on, have you noticed that political correctness only applies when you are a Christ follower. Admittedly I’d even say in blogging I can hesitate. Concerned as to what others might think or say. I continue to be astonished at how many people read this blog. My responsibility and commitment is to be bold.
Living out loud,
Posted: January 4, 2012 in Family
With the beginning of the new year I have thought a lot about tradition. As an example, for who knows how many years I have ate blacked eye peas for lunch at the beginning of the year. To be honest I don’t know when it began. I have been thinking we should start our own tradition of cheesecake at the new year. We could get rid of the peas and Ashlee could start the year with her favorite dessert. We start traditions as families or set standards that will have implications far more than you may realize. Allow me to share a few examples. My dad has been a pastor for nearly 3 decades. His passion for people and his willingness to serve has always driven me to serve the church. Dad was a bivocational pastor for half of that. He worked another job so he could work for the church. That example has always stuck with me and for over a decade I have done the same. I have always enjoyed pastoring but never wanted to burden the church with giving me a salary. I have been offered a full time position a couple of different times but never came to a peace about doing it full time, maybe someday. This year as a family we have chosen the word give. Our hope is that this word becomes synonymous with our family. We discussed giving all we can, time, talents, and resources. Not of abundance but that giving would be a way of life for our children. Which brings me to my last point. My oldest boys have read almost all of the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This year their aunt gave them the full set. So they have 4 of 6 as an extra set and my boys decided they’re going to give the extra set away. Modeling the life of giving. Your kids understand more than you’ll ever know.
Passing on traditions,
Posted: January 2, 2012 in Extra
I attempt to read my bible daily. Each time I do another treasure unfolds. I wait with anticipation to discover what truth I’ll learn next. With that being said there is one other book I read at least once a year. A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. This book challenges me each year. I have read it for the last several years. From chapter 2 a truth spoke to me so loudly this year was if you have nothing, materialistically speaking, but have Jesus you possess everything. This time of year most people set goals about weight, money, or relationships. My challenge is 2 fold. The first is courtesy of John Piper, look at this year as though it were the end of your life and you have to give an account before God as to how you lived it. Think about that for a moment…did you live 2011 in a way that would bring honor to Him? How did you serve His kingdom? Taking an honest inventory of how I lived 2011, there are several opportunities as I move into 2012 that I need to improve on. I offer this first challenge with a bit of hesitancy, don’t dwell on the past just be honest about how you lived it, set realistic goals to improve, and move into the next year with a fervent passion to accomplish all that God has for you. Secondly, as you set goals that are…..set some spiritual goals as well. Your goal might be to pray daily, or to read your bible daily, YouVersion has some great reading plans, follow the link and start one today. As you are setting spiritual goals set some family goals. Read the bible together, commit to prayer at every meal, or volunteer at your local church together. Expect great things in 2012. God loves you just the way you are, warts and all. He is passionate about a relationship with you. The greatest gift you can learn in 2012 is in relationship with Him you possess everything.
hopeful for the new year,
Posted: December 30, 2011 in Extra
This year brought a few new things for Faithbridge Ministry. First, we launched our website and our blog. We are excited about the potential these two venues offer. We are posting 3 times weekly in the areas of Faith, Family and Leadership. We believe this format allows people to become more connected with our ministry and gives continued encouragement and insight on a weekly basis. In addition we published our first book, The Way of the Talmidim. Our first step to publish the book was accomplished this year locally and on the blog and website.
With this year almost over we are requesting for you and your family to prayerfully consider a tax deductible donation to Faithbridge Ministry. To have an idea of where your gifts will go, a portion of all proceeds from donations, gifts and book sales goes to funding first time missionaries and funding new church plants. The ministry has some pretty big plans in the coming 24 months and anything you can give would help.
For those of you who have partnered and are already supporting the ministry monthly we are extremely grateful and pray for you daily.
Next year is a big year for our ministry as doors are starting to open to take the message of the life of a disciple to the nation. Join us in spreading the Good News.
click on the “donate” button to get started.
Thanks for a great year,
Posted: December 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
I must admit this post makes me a tad bit vulnerable. One of many lessons I have learned over the last few years is the lesson of humility. Allowing the circumstances of life to mold your character is only beneficial when you can share your experiences with others. So here goes nothing. Over the last three years I have lost almost every material position I worked nearly a decade to obtain. The decisions made and losses taken were from principles that I’ll continue to post about as we journey together in our quest of faith and life on this blog. That will not be today’s focus.
The story starts last year. As Christmas was approaching I had no clue how I was going to get my kids anything for Christmas. Now I don’t mean what my kids wanted or even needed, I am referring to a single gift. If you read Wednesday’s post you’ll see our approach to Christmas isn’t too complicated. To be honest my heart was broken. I had feelings of failure, inadequacy, and frustration. I felt the God who had been so faithful had left me alone. But in His mighty providence He was about to teach me one of the most humbling lessons. I had no choice but to sit my kids down. The oldest four were 12, 10, 9, and 7. I rehearsed what I would say a dozen times and played out what there responses would be. As I sat my kids down in the living room a lump developed in my throat. I shared with my kids that Christmas in our home wouldn’t be like it had been in previous years and this year they would receive no gifts from mom and dad. I awaited a response. As each of my kids responded they were so gracious and understanding about our circumstance. They explained to me the true meaning of Christmas. One even shared that Christmas was about Jesus coming to earth was the greatest gift and giving our lives back to Him was the only gift that mattered. I stayed awake that night pondering the TRUTH my kids had learned over the years. The wisdom they had seemed surreal.
Later that week one of my dear friends called and asked me to meet him at his office. He explained that he had a few things he liked to give me. A few things was quite the understatement. What ended up under our tree last year was more than we had ever given to our kids for Christmas. Ashlee and I were in awe of the goodness of God. What I thought was going to be the toughest Christmas I had ever experienced turned in to one of my life’s greatest lessons. I don’t know where you find yourself on this Christmas day but know this… God is ALWAYS faithful, your children will learn EVERYTHING you take the time to teach them, and when you think you’re in an impossible situation God is in the business of restoration. He sent his only Son to die so that you could be restored to a right and wonderful relationship with Him.
Understanding the TRUE meaning of CHRISTMAS,
Posted: December 21, 2011 in Family
Christmas has become a huge business. Most retailers are waiting for this time of year to recover financial losses. A celebration of giving has become a celebration of getting. 69% of people purchased a gift for themselves last year…… It has become more about getting than giving. To understand my approach to Christmas, know this, Christmas is a celebration of The King being born. Christmas should remind each of us of the life that was given to save us from the sin in our life and provide hope to a lost and dying world. With that being said, this time of year is always fun for the Baker house. Whether it is reading the Advent Calendar or our annual traditions of walking through the lights at Rhema, it always serves as a reminder of what this Holiday Season is about. The trouble is how do you make Christmas about Jesus the Christ? Several years ago Ashlee and I sat down and discussed what we’d like our kids to experience this time of year. We have seen so many people go into debt, which they pay off most of the year, in order to provide a couple of moments of happiness. We’ve talked with frustrated parents who have given so many “things” to their children only to have kids that always have the need for more. Parents who are in a perpetual cycle of trying to top last year, discouraged at the response from those they love the most. We share this principal with families all the time and most love the thought but don’t know how to communicate it to their children. I have several friends whose kids have really enjoyed the change they made and have a greater understanding of this time of year…..Simply each of our kids get 3 gifts. I know some of you now need to pick your jaw up off of your computer. The thought of this might be overwhelming. And there may even be the foolish fella that is justifying not implementing this as some sort of twisted “your doing whats best for your kids approach”. One question, how many gifts did the Creator of the Universe receive at the first Christmas? We keep it quite simple – something they want, something they need, and something to read. The goal is to focus on what we are giving The Christ each year and not what we can get.
Check back on Christmas Day to read about the best Christmas Ever.
Posted: December 19, 2011 in Faith
This morning our choir at Faith Church did a fabulous rendition of this song written by Mark Lowry. It got me thinking today. Now I’d like to preface this post with one thought. More than likely Jesus wasn’t born in December. However, I’d like to take a moment and think about the last week before Mary gave birth. For the most part the Catholic Church places too much emphasis on Mary. Admittedly the ProtestantChurchdoes this woman a bit of an injustice. After all the Creator of the Universe was entrusted to this young engaged couple. I wonder what was going through their heads. The Immaculate Conception happened, they had been visited by angels, and now they are far from home and cannot find a place to stay. I want to point out Joseph went back to the birthplace of his family and couldn’t find anyone that would allow his pregnant fiancé and himself to stay. I often wonder if Joseph’s family had abandoned him. After all he had chosen to marry a woman who was knocked up. His obedience to the call of God must have caused him far more pain than we will ever know. I wonder how many doubts entered their minds. They had been obedient and yet the road was still filled with struggles and challenges and perceived impossibilities. I’m not sure where life has you, maybe in what seems to be an impossible situation. Maybe you’re going through this struggle alone. If you hold out and stay strong in the midst of your greatest challenges they in turn will have the greatest rewards.
Pushing Past Doubt,