Archive for Spiritual Thoughts

In Self We Trust?


After Steve Jobs died last week, I couldn’t help but notice all the news articles which highlighted not only his company’s achievements, but also his personal philosophy. I can appreciate all his hard work, his technological advances, and his motivational ideas that led to the success of Apple. I personally benefit from his life’s work, as do millions of other people.

Many people find purpose for their lives in their work. Good works are marvelous, but I tend to compare myself to Jobs and other successful people. Then I realize that I will never change the world to the same degree that he did, I will never invent something that will benefit the entire world. I am not nearly as intelligent, experienced, or as motivated. I will never amass great wealth, nor be able to give away wealth. My own competitive spirit and personal motivation to be “the best” only leads me to self-pity. My achievements are no match compared to theirs! I am sure others feel this way, and this even leads to depression, low self-worth, and lack of purpose in life. It can even be the reason people step back and don’t get involved…. we feel too small, too insignificant, too weak, or too unimportant to make a difference. At my high school graduation, I heard the same moving speeches that were meant to spur young people on to make a difference in the world, because life is short….embrace it and live life to the fullest!

Most people believe that if they do enough good on earth, then they will have a good afterlife somewhere. But what scale is God, karma, or any other thing using to decide this? In the end, how is success measured? Did I do enough? Did I do enough good? Do my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds? Did I make a mark in the world? If the value of my life is measured by my works, if the purpose of my life is shaped by my works, and if my hope and trust lie in the scope of my achievements, then I am indeed to be pitied the most. The truth is that earthly successes are short lived and only provide temporary relief to our insatiable appetite to excel and be a cut above the rest. One must continually seek purpose and salvation in the next big thing.

My own list of achievements – education, family reputation, marriage, children, jobs, awards, experiences, etc., can cause me to be covered in pride, temporary happiness, and self-exaltation – certainly nothing that brings lasting joy, peace, or hope for the future. Besides, my failures often overshadow them. The Apostle Paul had a great list of achievements, Philippians 3:4-9. However, he called them all trash compared to knowing Christ! He found the secret to living well now, and to living with eternal peace. It was not based on his achievements, but on Christ’s achievements. Christ was the object of his faith, and gave him a “right standing” with God. Like it or not, we all put our faith in something. If our faith focus is not in God, then it is usually on self. I agree with Paul, the value of knowing Christ is far greater than all my works, and my righteousness is not based on my good works. I am not “good enough” because of what I have done. I cannot find salvation in my work, marriage, or in any other successes. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not what you do that makes you successful, it’s who you believe in. I have found that nothing satisfies like the resting place of Christ. Good works are simply that – good works. But they should not be a resting place for our faith.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith….not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2″8-9

A Little Child Will Lead Them

Two of us Bakers just took a quick trip back to the States to visit family. Stephen is three years old, and even though he is so little, I see God using him and leading through this little child. While we were visiting Mimi and Poppa’s house in Florida, Stephen suddenly said, “We need to worship God. Let’s go!” I asked him what he meant by this, and he said, “We need to sing, let’s go to Poppa’s room.” So, the three year old led Mimi and I to my Dad’s room, where he was sitting. We each pulled up a chair, sat down, and chose praise songs to sing. Jesus Loves the Little Children, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, Lord You Are More Precious Than Silver, and The Lord Is My Shepherd, were just some of the favorite songs that we sang together. He didn’t ask to sing the ABCs, Twinkle Little Star, or Skip to My Lou, or much less the latest song from a pop star. There was no music, no instruments, no great harmonies, just our simple voices stopping in the middle of the day……….together………praising our great God. I am still amazed to understand that within each of us, is a built-in longing to be in relationship with God – whether or not we realize it. Even a small child can sense the divine, the closeness of God, and desire His presence. And even a little child can lead us to worship in the simplest way with quiet songs full of great theology.

The Shepherd is Mighty to Save


Recently we went with our Hungarian church on their annual retreat, and this year they went to the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia. On the way north, we stopped at a little resort town for bathroom breaks and ice cream. In a distant field we saw a flock of sheep and a shepherd with his sheep dog. It was an amazing sight to us who have never been close to seeing sheep grazing on a hillside. The children immediately wanted to walk over for a closer look, which the shepherd allowed. Stephen was one of the last ones to arrive at the field. The fluffy, round little creatures were indeed bleeeeeting and grazing their way through this field, the traditional shepherd was very poor, and the sheepdog was welcoming, but the most amazing thing was hearing little Stephen singing, “The Lord is my shepherd, I’ll walk with Him always…” He was very bold in his singing and very sure that this was the appropriate time to belt out one of his favorite tunes. At first I thought that maybe Stephen thought this shepherd was Jesus, but he just kept telling me that “this is a REAL shepherd.” He had been wondering what a shepherd was!


When we arrived at our destination, we admired the breathtaking view of mountains with peaks hidden by clouds. Stephen’s response? He began singing, “Savior, He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, mighty to save….” What could be more appropriate than a response of praise to our Creator and Savior? How simple life is for a child! Just a pure, honest response when he was moved beyond his own ability to speak of such wonders.


“From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou has prepared praise…” Matthew 21:16
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

The Surrendered Life


The surrendered life is……

accepting what God gives,
adjusting your life to the unexpected plans,
joyfully laying down your own plans,

not despising the suffering that God gives,
not despising the work that God gives,
not despising the provision that God gives,
not delighting in something else,

looking for joy in what you are given,
listening quietly with open hands,
moving beyond the temporary,
receiving hope in things that are eternal,

letting go of the disappointments,
loving the present gifts,
looking past pain to find joy,
looking past self to find Christ,

……this is an exchanged life.

Galatians2:20
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

The time leading up to Easter found us stricken with a strange virus that left us (the parents) quite unable to do anything. Extremely painful swollen joints made even sitting, standing, and sleeping difficult. Opening bottles, bags, and bananas was unthinkable! With much painful pulling we had to take off our wedding rings. Thankfully, we took turns with the virus, leaving only one of us ill at one time so we could take care of the children. Thank you to those who prayed for our recovery!
The real test was not so much the physical pain, but what to do with loss of time. There is so much work to do. We know the seriousness of our language study, we see our unbelieving friends, we know that time is fleeting. It was very difficult for life to come to a sudden halt in our house! At least when we have a cold we can throw some dirty clothes in the washer, and when we have the flu we can boil water to make some soup. But this time, I wasn’t able to do anything but sit and feel the pain! I suddenly can relate to those who suffer with arthritis or autoimmune disorders. My thoughts were also on the cross. I could not imagine the depth of Christ’s pain and the lingering suffering leading up to his death. And in a unique way, the physical suffering brought me into deeper fellowship with Him.

As for the “loss of time,” God is able to redeem what Satan tried to scheme. I believe it is no coincidence that our family becomes ill at important times. God is able to work everything to conform to the purposes of His will, Ephesians 1:11. God is sovereign, and His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are deeper than my thoughts. What to do with the suffering? Embrace it and trust Him. Habakkuk, whose name means “embrace,” knew that terrible suffering was coming to him and his people. And he chose to say, “Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Hab. 3:16-19

“Suffering is a mystery, but not so much a mystery that I cannot trust you.” Joni Eareckson Tada

The Surrendered Life


The surrendered life is……

accepting what God gives,
adjusting your life to the unexpected plans,
joyfully laying down your own plans,

not despising the suffering that God gives,
not despising the work that God gives,
not despising the provision that God gives,
not delighting in something else,

looking for joy in what you are given,
listening quietly with open hands,
moving beyond the temporary,
receiving hope in things that are eternal,

letting go of the disappointments,
loving the present gifts,
looking past pain to find joy,
looking past self to find Christ,

……this is an exchanged life.

Galatians2:20
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

The time leading up to Easter found us stricken with a strange virus that left us (the parents) quite unable to do anything. Extremely painful swollen joints made even sitting, standing, and sleeping difficult. Opening bottles, bags, and bananas was unthinkable! With much painful pulling we had to take off our wedding rings. Thankfully, we took turns with the virus, leaving only one of us ill at one time so we could take care of the children. Thank you to those who prayed for our recovery!
The real test was not so much the physical pain, but what to do with loss of time. There is so much work to do. We know the seriousness of our language study, we see our unbelieving friends, we know that time is fleeting. It was very difficult for life to come to a sudden halt in our house! At least when we have a cold we can throw some dirty clothes in the washer, and when we have the flu we can boil water to make some soup. But this time, I wasn’t able to do anything but sit and feel the pain! I suddenly can relate to those who suffer with arthritis or autoimmune disorders. My thoughts were also on the cross. I could not imagine the depth of Christ’s pain and the lingering suffering leading up to his death. And in a unique way, the physical suffering brought me into deeper fellowship with Him.

As for the “loss of time,” God is able to redeem what Satan tried to scheme. I believe it is no coincidence that our family becomes ill at important times. God is able to work everything to conform to the purposes of His will, Ephesians 1:11. God is sovereign, and His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are deeper than my thoughts. What to do with the suffering? Embrace it and trust Him. Habakkuk, whose name means “embrace,” knew that terrible suffering was coming to him and his people. And he chose to say, “Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Hab. 3:16-19

“Suffering is a mystery, but not so much a mystery that I cannot trust you.” Joni Eareckson Tada