Author Archives: Andy Baker

When Pigs Fly: God’s Protection

For the past few weeks I’ve been writing about how God can, and does, do the impossible in our world (hence the series title). Today I want us to wrestle with a difficult topic: protection. I believe that God protects us in numerous ways. My family was in a roll-over accident years ago, and looking at the damage later it is a miracle we all survived. I firmly believe that was a miracle of protection. During the unrest here in Nicaragua I have twice missed being in a dangerous situation by just a couple of minutes. Like most of you I could go on and on with instances where I believe God has protected me. Yet, I can also list many occasions where it seems God did not offer protection. I think of a youth group student killed in a tractor accident, a loving husband and father killed on a snowmobile, and the over three hundred killed here in Nicaragua over the past few months. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there were moments during those tragedies where I wondered where God’s protection was. With that in mind, how can we have faith that God will protect us? How do we handle the seeming reality that he does not always appear to protect His people? 

There is one simple verse that does an amazing job addressing these seemingly super complex questions: The Lord rescues the Godly; He is their fortress in times of trouble. Psalm 37:39

First, the Psalmist tells us that God does indeed protect us. He will miraculously intervene to assist us in times of great struggle, offering us protection, wisdom, healing, etc. While some may argue that miracles ceased when the Bible was finished I’ve seen way to many examples of God’s miraculous protection and interference to believe that. I truly believe that God continues to do the miraculous on the part of His people, including you and me. Our role is to be praying for His action, trusting His ways, and worshiping Him for all he does. But (yes, there is seemingly always a but), this verse does not say that God will protect us from everything. Because of human sin a plethora of problems have come into our world, including suffering and death. That’s the price of sin. Yet, look at what this scripture DOES say. He (God) is their fortress in times of trouble. Terrible things will happen to us and others because of the sin of this world, but that does not mean God has abandoned us. God is right there in the midst of those moments crying with us, comforting us, directing us, and carrying us. We need to open our hearts and minds to God in the moments we don’t feel protected, letting his comfort and love overwhelm us. Most importantly, we need to always remember that Jesus has already suffered and died so that we can be protected forever. Because the truth is that, in the end, God’s grace offers us eternal protection in a perfect Heaven. 

When Pig’s Fly: Changes in Others

I REALLY wish my wife was not such a pack rat! She has the amazing ability to fill every closet, drawer, shelf, and minuscule corner in our house with stuff. Sometimes its ok, and sometimes its absolutely head scratching (such as her notes from 7th GRADE science class!). She once found an ATM from our first date about 12 years after it happened, not because she was sentimental, but because she simply had a pile of 12 year old receipts. After 14 years of marriage I’ve come to the conclusion that her pack rat habits will end about the time pigs fly. Which I’m ok with. There are MUCH worse habits she could have!

There are always going to be things about other people in our lives that we don’t like, and would love to see change. It can be habits, preferences, political views, etc. There are also plenty of things we desperately want changed: an illness/disability, an addiction, an especially strained relationship, etc. When we desire change in others we have two options. First, we can come to the conclusion I have with my wife’s hoarding. I’ve simply decided its really not a big deal, and its not worth the fight. But, sometimes there are things that people in our lives really do need to change (i.e. an addiction, needing Jesus, etc.). In those cases we can’t have an attitude of “well, they’ll change when pigs fly.” Instead, we need to partner with God in helping make change happen. We see this in the follow scripture: 

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:1-5

These four men looked at the situation of their paralyzed friend and decided that something needed to change. So, they did the hard work of carrying him to town, digging through a roof, and lowering him down to Jesus. They did the hard work of getting him to Jesus, and they trusted Jesus with the result (which he provided). To often, I feel, we don’t do that. We are far too quickly believe people cannot be changed. We need to be more like the friends in this scripture. When people in our lives need to change, WE need to help them. We need to pray for them, show them love, take action to help them, and show patience towards them. Because, the thing is, God wants to change them for the better! Not only that, God has the power to change them. We need to do the work we can to make them better, and then trust God with the result. Let’s do the hard work of getting people in our lives to Jesus, and watch Him do make changes in their lives. 

When Pigs Fly: Changed for the Better

As a Cubs fan I heard the phrase “when pigs fly” A LOT. It seemed an apt phrase, as the thought of the Cubbies making a World Series (let alone WINNING one) seemed about as likely as pigs bursting through the roof of a hog confinement and soaring through the air. Even when the Cubs had a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the 9th in game 6 of the NLCS I STILL doubted them (I was not alone. Watch the video of the ninth and watch the expressions on Cub fan faces. It’s panic, not joy.). When they finally did win it all it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Not simply because my team had won, but because something I thought was impossible had finally happened. 

There are many things in life we’ve decided will only occur when pigs fly. Over the next few weeks I want us to think deeper about a few of them. Today I want us to think about change. I think most of us walk around with a laundry list of things we don’t think can be changed in our lives. Sinful behaviors, bad habits, illness, fully serving Jesus, bad relationships, our financial situation, our career, and so on. We’ve probably tried a lot of things to change these things, but they always seem to fail. So, whether we want to admit it or not, we’ve come to hold a “when pigs fly attitude.” We’ve simply given up on change ever coming to our life. There was a man in the Bible whom I sure thought change would come to his life only when pigs fly: 

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:1-5, 11-12

A paralyzed man in Jesus’ day not only had zero chance of getting better, but he also had little to no chance at a good and long life. Yet, this man had faith in Jesus, and Jesus not only healed him physically, but spiritually as well. See, God desires to change your life for the better. He wants to help you break your bad habits, heal your wounds, mend your relationships, and cease your sinful ways. And, more importantly, He has the power to do. But most importantly, God has already changed you in a permanent and perfect way: by His grace you have been given the gift of eternal life. The gift that overcomes every problem you will ever experience in this world. Lets stop looking at things in our lives as only changing when pigs fly, and instead begin having the faith that God can change us now and forever. 

Investing in Our Children

Today my oldest celebrated her 12th birthday. I can still very vividly remember that moment 12 years ago when she came into our life, as well as her first giggles, her first steps, her first day of school, and so much more. If you are a new parent I’m here to tell you that the old adage “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” certainly seems true to me. As I think back on my 12 years as a parent I can think of many successful parenting moments, as well as innumerable parenting failures. Like many parents my wife and I have invested a lot of time, money, and energy into our kids, trying our best to help them to succeed in all aspects of life. In fact, the US Department of agriculture estimates that it takes $233,610 to raise a child (I’m assuming that does NOT include college tuition, which is quickly equally that number on its own), and studies have shown that families of Olympic athletes spend an average of $15,000 a year to prepare them for athletic success. In a rare positive change, parents today are spending twice as much time with their children than their parents did, and men have quadrupled the time they spend with children over the past few decades. Yet, despite all of that money and time we spend on our children are we truly doing everything we can to raise them rightly? 

I am very thankful for the money, time, and energy my parents invested in me. I can’t begin to count the number of practices they drove me to, the things they bought for me, and the grey hairs I caused them. But what was most important was the time and energy they put into raising me as a disciple of Christ. From an early age my parents taught me how to pray, read me Bible stories, involved me in church, helped me memorize scripture, modeled the life of a disciple, and provided me with numerous tools to grow in my faith. I remember getting into Christian music because my parents would buy me Christian CD’s, but I had to buy the secular ones on my own. That may sound like a minute and silly thing, but it ended up having a big impact on my life.

Spending energy on raising our children to be disciples is not just something we should do, its something we are commanded to do. As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This is not something we are to leave up to our church or to chance, but a duty that has been assigned to us as fathers. Just as it takes substantial work to raise a champion athlete, it takes a major effort to raise a disciple of Christ in our increasingly secular world. As dad’s lets start owning our responsibility. Let’s model faith to our children, pray with and for them, helping them get into the word, and provide them the opportunities and resources to grow into disciples and leaders. Let’s do whatever we can to raise a generation of champions for Christ.

 

Tell’em What They NEED to Hear

Jossy Chacko grew up in India before moving to Australia for college in the 1980’s. He remained there after college, marrying an Australian woman and having a successful career in business. He stayed in touch with many friends in India, including a northern Indian minister named Phillip. Phillip regularly wrote asking for Jossy to come and help him minister, an invite he repetitively declined. One day Phillip wrote a letter informing Jossy that there were entire villages in northern India where no one had ever even heard the name Jesus before. Having grown up in India Jossy highly doubted that was true, so he wrote Phillip that if he could take him to such a village he would consider partnering with him. 

Phillip accepted this challenge, so while on a trip to India Jossy took several days to meet with Phillip. Sure enough, he was led to a village where not a single person had ever heard the name Jesus. Through a translator Jossy shared the gospel as the entire village listened intently. At the end of his message the entire village joyfully came to accept Christ as their savior! There was one man, however, who did not seem so joyful. When Jossy asked why he proclaimed “why hasn’t anyone come to tell us before? We’ve needed to hear this for generations!”

Those words really convicted me. While it is hard to imagine anyone in America who has not heard the name Jesus, there are millions who have never been lovingly told about him before. They’ve experienced judgement and rejection at the hands of Christians, seen Christians act hypocritically, and heard snippets about the Christian faith, but have they ever had anyone sit down and lovingly share the good news with them? They need to hear about what God has done not only for the world, but for them as well. And, they need to hear about how you’ve experienced God in your life. They need to hear your story, see your example, and to experience God’s love through you. I love how Peter explains this to us: 

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

Friends, we always need to be ready to share the Good News with everyone we encounter. There are people in your community right now that could proclaim: “why hasn’t anyone told me this before!” They are waiting for someone to let God’s Spirit move in them to share the gospel message to them. Let’s take the time to actually share the good news with them. 

You can learn more about Jossy Chacko’s amazing life and ministry in his book Madness

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