Author Archives: Andy Baker

Don’t Give it Away

It is somewhat expected in the missionary community that you hire an empleada (aka a housekeeper). This was tough for us, because obviously in the US having a housekeeper is a pretty big luxury. It felt weird spending our raised funds on hiring a housekeeper (even though we pay above the normal rate our share is only $25USD per week). However, the reasons hiring empleadas is encouraged is because its a way to create needed jobs, build relationships with Nicaraguans, and get some needed assistance around the home. We share an empleada with our neighbors, a sweet mother of two whose husband was killed a few years ago in a car crash. This morning my wife and I had a “passionate discussion” about what is and is not the role of our empleada. The discussion centered upon whether or not we could more or less cede most household responsibilities to her, or if we should still make an effort to keep up with certain chores (i.e. doing our own laundry and dishes).

This got me to thinking about our roles as men. We cede far too many of our Biblical responsibilities to others, especially when it comes to our roles as husbands and fathers. As long as our kids go to Sunday school and our wife attends her Bible study we’ve fulfilled our responsibility right? Let the leaders of those groups disciple them, because besides, they are more gifted for it anyway. The problem is that’s the role the Bible assigns to us as men. Today, I want us to read the following verses and really ask ourselves if we are living out God’s designed role for us as fathers and husbands. If you have not taken on those roles yet in life I encourage you to start thinking about how you will once you are a husband and father. Let’s stop giving away our responsibilities and embracing the role God has given us.  

Model holiness: Keep a close watch on your life and doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:16 

Provide: But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

Discipline and guide: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 

Nurture: For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. Ephesians 5:29

Disciple and teach: These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7

LeadHe must manage his own household well, with all dignity. 1 Timothy 3:4

Love: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25

Your Own Race

This weekend I ran my first race in Nicaragua. This normally would not be a huge deal, but earlier in the week I fell over a rock (yes, I am a clutz). I landed smack on my kneecap, which has been giving me fits every since. Owing to my German DNA I was way to stubborn to simply drop out of the race, so I ran with a bad knee. On top of that, it decided to rain the entire race (and, if you care, I had a shoelace that decided to end its life at the 4K mark.). So, with all these factors against me, I decided from the outset my goal was simply to have fun and to finish. Just keep a nice even pace and don’t worry about anyone else. That was a hard goal for my overly competitive brain to keep. Every time someone would pass me, or be just slightly in front of me, I wanted to go just a little bit faster to beat them. The whole race I had to resist this temptation to race other peoples races and to race my own. In the end my steady approach brought me to the finish line in a respectable time and, surprisingly, in a minimal amount of pain. 

As I was dealing with the temptation to change my pace based on others during the race it hit me how much this is like life. We are constantly being tempted to run a race that is not ours. We see a celebrity on TV  and desire their lifestyle. A friend makes a purchase, and we want to make a similar (or bigger!) purchase. Perhaps more seriously, we see others making decisions that are not Biblical, and we figure we can do the same. Or, we see others having “fun” and “exciting” ministry experiences, and we want to have those same experience (even if we are not called and equipped for that ministry). In all of these cases we get tempted away from running the race, living the life, that God has uniquely crafted us to live. 

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

This has become my life verse because it is such a powerful reminder of who I am. We’ve not been created to chase after others, but to live a very specific life for the glory of God. We all need to remember that God has uniquely crafted us to do good things for His Kingdom. Sometimes we may not like the path He has laid out, and we may think someone else’s path is better. When we doubt it, or are tempted by something else, we need to remember that nothing could ever be better then the plan God has masterful created for us and only us. 

Live One Life

Allan Mullay took a job nobody wanted: CEO of Ford Motor Comoany at the peak of the US financial crisis. Ford flew him from Seattle to Detroit to be introduced as its new CEO. He was surprised when the car that picked him up was not a Ford, but one of its competitors. He chuckled, thinking someone made a silly mistake when selecting a car service. When the car pulled into the parking lot at Ford headquarters he was down right flaburgasted: there was hardly a Ford in the entire lot. He looked up and down the rows of vehicles of the people who designed, sold, and led Ford, and was dismayed that hardly any of them chose to purchase and use the very product they spent their days working on. This signaled to Mullay that there was a major cultural problem within Ford. Think about it for a second: if you knew someone who worked at Ford, but chose to drive another vehicle, would you be inspired to buy a Ford? Most likely not. I know it would make me severely question the quality of their vehicles if their own employees were unwilling to drive them. 

Are we like these Ford employees when it comes to living out our faith? Do we act one way within the hallowed halls of the church, a quite another way in our daily lives? From what I have seen in the lives of many, as well as experienced in my own life, the answer is YES. When we are inside the church we are enthusiastic followers of Christ, but when we enter the world we far too often become enthusiastic followers of the world’s ways. Like a Ford employee driving the competition’s vehicle, think about what our actions signal to those around us. They see us going to church on Sunday, but then they witness us living and acting contrary to Scripture day in and day out. Do you think that inspires them to follow God? Not in the least. At best it teaches that God’s commands are optional, and at worst its evidence of Christian hypocrisy. 

This is not at all a new problem. The Apostle Paul famously wrote about it in Romans: 

Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

I often get asked “how do I share the gospel with others?” My answer comes straight out of this illustration and this scripture: you simply live every minute for Jesus. Your actions will always be substantially more impactful then any evangelistic technique or speech. If you want to spread Jesus’s light in our dark world then don’t give into the temptation to play Church on Sunday and live a worldly life the rest of the week. Live one life: a life for Christ. 

Asking for Help

Last week one of my American friends in Nicaragua came down with a virus. Most Nicaraguans don’t visit the doctor, but instead go straight to the pharmacist (a prescription is not required for most medications here, you simply go the the pharmacist, explain your symptoms, and they will give you the appropriate medication). While many foreigners will go to a doctor my friend wanted to do things the Nicaraguan way, so they visited the nearest pharmacy. They speak very little Spanish, so they used Google Translate to produce a “script” for their conversation with the pharmacist. They practiced this script, and must have delivered it well, because the pharmacist not only understood them, but preceded to respond rapidly in Spanish. Not wanting to let on that they had no clue what was being said, they simply nodded and said si a lot, finally leaving with three different medications. Upon arriving home they realized they had no idea how to use them. Another interesting factor here is that they often don’t give you the finished product at the pharmacy. For liquid medicines they give you a powder that you then have to mix with water to create the medicine. Once again, since my friend had said si over and over they had no idea how strong to make the medicine. So, they just guessed. As you can imagine, my friend ended up OD’ing on medications, and nearly had to be taken to the emergency room. They’ve learned that next time they need to admit they don’t speak Spanish and take someone with them who can translate. 

I share this story because most of us hate to admit we don’t know what we are doing, and we REALLY hate to ask for help. This is especially a problem for us as men. We would rather suffer mightily then ask for help. If you think about that for a minute, that’s really a ridiculous sentiment! Yet, nearly everyday we chose to go it alone instead of asking God to help us with the many trials we face. Look at what Jesus tells us about asking for God’s help and guidance in life: 

 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14

God desires to hear our needs in life, and God desires to help us with our needs. God never meant us to go through life alone based solely on our own abilities. He desires to hear us and to help us. We need to realize that it is actually VERY manly to ask for God’s help. This week, share with God all of the challenges you are facing and the struggles that you have. Stop suffering needlessly, and start asking for help from the creator, sustainer, and savior of all. 

 

Amidst the Tragedy

I’m not sure what’s harder right now, climbing Mt. Everest or finding a good piece of news. Between racial tensions, devastation in Houston, nuclear tension not felt since Kennedy administration, and a politically divided nation we are inundated with overwhelmingly negative news (not to mention all the negativity On our social media feeds). Here in Nicaragua I see heartbreak and tragedy everyday. It’s seeing ramshackle shacks built next to luxurious shopping malls. It’s seeing little kids, the disabled, and the mentally ill beging for the opportunity to wash your windshield for a few cents. It’s hearing yet another case of a man killing his wife because she finally tired of his abuse and filled for divorce. The tragedy, injustice, and heartbreak in our world can seem overwhelming.

As I’ve been personally overwhelmed by these things this week, I’ve been reminded of two big things. First, and most importantly, is that God wins for all of us. God created this world awesome and perfect, but we humans have totally messed it up with our sin. Yet, our amazing and loving God chose to come to our rescue, dying on the cross so that all who confess their sins and believe may have eternal life. Listen to how Jesus puts it:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. John 10:28-30.

No matter what tragedy may befall us or others in this world NOTHING can take us out of God’s hands. Nothing can take away the gift of a perfect eternity in Heaven we are gracefully given when we confess our sins. In the midst of sorrow and tragedy we need to keep our hearts and minds glued to the fact we are held in God’s perfect hands for all eternity.

The second thing I’ve been reminded of is that we can all be agents of God’s grace amidst the turmoil of this world. We can pray for the afflicted, give towards organizations lending a hand, take time to serve others, and more. We can be used by God to be part of the solution now and for eternity. As Paul tells us in Philippines 2:15: for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

If the tragedies of the world are getting you down remember these two things. Remember that Jesus died to offer the world the most perfect of gifts: eternal life in a perfect heaven. And, remember that God desires to work through you to make an impact, no matter how small it may seem to you, right here and right now.

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