I’m starting with the Man in the Mirror


“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways.” MJ

A few days after the Election of 2016, my thoughts wandered today to all of the things wrong with our nation. And yet, I’m under the strange conviction that it all needs to start with ME. I have said those things, I have felt those things, I have made those same kind of character attacks, I have spoken with out thinking, I have joked about people about whom I have very little information. I’ve decided that I’m not asking you to change your ways to make me feel better.

I need to change ME. It’s the only power I really have. But how to change? Am I not supposed to be true to who I am, stick up for myself, be real!?! Well, the genuine me is in need of a supernatural cure. I have decisions to make, but I don’t always even know my own heart and thoughts. It starts with a prayer. An ancient prayer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

What has this election season revealed inside YOUR heart?  

Do you wonder why we don’t. . . wonder?

A deep conviction has been developing in me that the church has lost their sense of wonder about God. Kids have a great sense of wonder about the world. For little kids, miracles are everywhere; in spider webs and pretty leaves. We lose that wonder about God as we “grow up” and “make” God into a predictable being. Becoming mature does not mean we need to lose wonder. I have developed a three question process that allows me to rediscover wonder in everyday mission. These are questions I ask when I enter a coffee shop, store, neighborhood, church service, or any gathering of friends.

  1. Rhetorical Question – Has God given up on these people? No!
  2. Biblical Question – What is He doing? Redeeming Lost Souls.
  3. Wonder Producing Question – How far is He along in the process? I do not know, but I hope find out. I wonder!

Are you interested in finding out what God is doing? Would you let it develop to a point where you are moved to action?

The church must work toward wonder. Creativity is sparked when we sensitize ourselves to God’s work in the lives of those around them. For those that have begun to think and pray in this way, suddenly, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, walking their dog, raking leaves, and baking cookies becomes a step in spreading the Good News; it becomes a partnership with God’s work, to express his love to a world who is wondering if he loves them anymore.

What causes you to wonder?

The Gospel is for Christians Too!

The Gospel is for Christians too! Many Christians are content to keep the Gospel on the front-lines of overseas missionary activity, but leave Jesus behind in their desire to move on to what they would consider the weightier matters of discipleship in the local church. Evangelism is a catalyst for discipleship and the Gospel is the pattern becoming like Jesus; the goal of discipleship. I know I just used the E-word and a lot of people are cringing. Let me explain.

The Gospel is the good news that terms of peace have been extended through Jesus to a people at war with their Creator (2 Cor 5:19). I do not share in his Reformed view, but I love how Michael Horton, in The Gospel-Driven Life (p. 77.), elaborates on the Gospel. “Nothing that I am or that I feel, choose, or do qualifies as Good News. On my best days, my experience of transformation is weak, but the Gospel is an announcement of a certain state of affairs that exists because of something in God; not something in me.”

The good news is that we, ourselves, are not the Good News, but rather participants in God’s patience, mercy, and love. When I fail to show the transformation that the world and even I expect, God is still on the throne and the Good News can go forward. This releases the pressure and I can exalt God even in my failures. When I rehearse the Gospel, even preach the Gospel to myself, I am reminded of the power to truly live. We have been offered such precious news that it cannot be held back. Even in prayer, I can remind myself that I am praying in Jesus name and not my own.

I can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb 4:16) not because of my successes but because of Jesus work. We do not have to hide in our failure and weakness but in, and only in, the name of Jesus we can receive the help we need. In Jesus name I can pray like this: Father, I come before you, not in my own power, not in my own righteousness, not in my own capability. I come before you in the authority of Jesus, your Son, who gave me access in this faith in which I stand because of His blood. I come on the merits of Jesus, not on my own merits.

This is true freedom. It is clear that a world at war with its Creator needs to hear this. When I as an individual embrace this Gospel as a way of life it will begin to spread outward in concentric circles of influence. The world does not need more “perfect” Christian families to isolate and mock, but it could use some families like mine that fail, respond in repentance, and declare the wonder of God to a broken world. When I require perfection of my family members, I will allow embarrassment to poison them when they inevitably fail. I want the Gospel to permeate our lives to show a watching world how secure and free we are in Christ. That’s what I mean by Evangelism, and the world is ready to hear it. It starts with me, it starts with you, because after all, the Gospel is for Christians too!

Cultural Comfort and African Memories

As a nineteen year old I boarded a plane for the first time in route to Sierra Leone as a part of a University mission team who would be spending six weeks ministering alongside Youth For Christ in the capital city of Freetown. When we landed, the stairs led us down to the tarmac where we were greeted with a heat wave and the hustle and bustle of an international airport in a poor country recovering from its most recent coup d’état. There were way too many machine guns being toted proudly by men too young to know how to use them. The ferry boat to the capital was inoperable and we were met hours later by our Liberian host who loaded us into the truck. Toby and I (the only two male team members) rode in the back of the truck under the canvas canopy on top of the luggage on the late night trip around the estuary, slowing for the big holes in the road, filled with water, which showered the thin veil above our heads. We were stopped by military police at curfew and forced to spend the night at the checkpoint. My first night in Africa, I spent on the ground, looking at a moon that was larger than I ever imagined, listening to toads in the swamp, and battling the mosquitos.

When we woke up we found that we had been sleeping in the spot used as a latrine by the guards. As we drove the rest of the way to Freetown we waved at the villagers from the back of the open truck. Unknowingly, as we responded to the thumbs up sign given to us by the friendly people, we were signifying our support of the resistance movement. That was the second obvious error we had made. Later that day I settled into the home of a Korean missionary for my second night of inter-cultural experiences. I made so many mistakes in those next days as I tried to communicate with my gracious hosts in anticipation of moving into the house where the whole team would reside for the next six weeks. Those first few days brought a huge culture shock that dissipated over the weeks as my heart became entwined with the people of Sierra Leone. I would do it again in a heartbeat and love the challenge of these encounters. I count those days, twenty two years ago, as pivotal in my desire to engage inter-culturally and propelled me into ministry training. Sierra Leone continues to have difficult road ahead of it and my heart goes out to her people.

Adoption is a big deal

Adoption is a big deal for God. He loves kids. Little ones and big ones too. Romans 5:8 “God demonstrated his love as Father by sending Jesus to live and die for our sins while we were still rebellious.” Ephesians 1:5: “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Adoption is how I get my identity as a child of God and how you can get yours too. God revealed himself to us as Father and adopts us as loved children, if we accept the peace he offers. Some of us prefer war and rebellion, but somehow God softens our hearts, maybe through our struggles. OKAY mostly through our struggles.
Adoption is a big deal for me too. I am so glad that I gave in and allowed Jesus to take over. He continues to show me that he alone is sufficient to handle my worries over finances, family, and my inadequacies. Jesus has truly become enough for me. Each day I am reminded that He alone is the one who can, through me, be the husband that my wife needs, the father that my kids need, the leader that my church needs, and the friend that my neighbors need. If that seems weird, please understand that God desires to live his life through us and make it fulfilling and filled with peace.
What powers you through the inevitable struggles of life? Can you relate to the idea of adoption spiritually or relationally?

hold on for a ride

The adoptive journey is complex and wonderful and full of a wide range of emotions. This of course applies to all marriages, but our journey was through adoption. Keeping your marriage intact is difficult, but absolutely essential. I’m all about my marriage to Heather and that stays primary throughout the emotional struggle of adoption and raising the kiddos. Nothing is more important than the marriage relationship in providing the stability you have promised to provide in adoption. I tell the kids all the time that I’m going to be with their mom long after they are gone from home and she is the most important.

Heather and I consider ourselves teammates in this endeavor. We have faced a lot of trials together. Wait. . . it seems we are always facing trials. Often times an argument puts you “face to face,” but we have decided to try to keep the problems out in front of us. Facing the problem “arm in arm” keeps us from pointing fingers at each other and imagining that the teammate is the problem.

We are forever grateful for our group of Christian friends and family who hang with us. They encourage us and provide practical support. They are just as important to us today, now that we are raising these kids, as they were in our process of expanding our family. They prayed for us, paid for a date night AND babysat the kids. They cry with us and surround us. Thanks to all of you Bauer supporters.

How do you keep close when the emotions threaten to tear you apart?

why adopt? well…

After a struggle with infertility, Heather and I looked at the investment of tens of thousands of dollars toward fertility treatments and weighed that against the cost of adoption. I was reluctant at first because I wanted to see how handsome my children would be, based on my wife’s good looks. It was pretty natural of course to want to produce children to carry on the Bauer legacy, but Heather and I talked about her early conviction that she would like to adopt. That began to grow on both of us until our minds were set on adoption. After adopting our first boy from Guatemala, Heather had surgery for endometriosis (the presumed cause of the infertility) and the doctor gave us the news that if we wanted to get pregnant, this was the time. It took us two seconds of looking in each other’s eyes to confirm that we wanted to adopt more kiddos. I think the way the conversation went was that, on our pay scale, we would be able to handle raising about one more kid. At this point, we were well aware that there were kids out there who were already alive and on a life trajectory and we couldn’t handle the thought of limiting the space in our family by giving birth to a child. That’s when we knew that adoption had become more than an option it was a conviction from God. This conviction has obviously grown to be a trademark of the Bauer family.

a whirlwind trip

I’m stunned! Just barely made in on the plane with all 8 of us to head home. Home sweet home. My heart is so full of the kindness of others. I was flooded with texts and messages which reminded me of the amazing support the Bauers have. Our experience on the TODAY show revealed so much about the friends we have who are pullling for us. I’m thankful for the plane tickets, hotel rooms, the amazing gift of a cruise with the family, a glimpse of the show business and 24 hours in NYC. No doubt about that, but you guys are blessing my socks off with your cheers and retweets and posts. Our adoption journey is still going and we are so glad to have your support. It’s a bit embarrassing to get this much attention but Jesus arranged it and I want to keep my eyes on him. Oddly, standing in Times Square last night, it was clearer than ever that I don’t want to win at the American dream. It pushed me out of any fear or man or desire to please anyone but Jesus. Jesus lead on, I will follow. Follow Jesus. He will be enough. More than enough.


A word to the wise should be sufficient

I grew up with a consistent appeal to embrace wisdom from my Dad. “A word to the wise should be sufficient.” The fool may know a lot about which path to take, but the wise person takes that path. “You don’t have to tell me twice” (to do the right thing) is a great thing to be able to say. That wasn’t true of me when I was a kid. I was a fool until Jesus got hold of me. Smart, clever, witty? Yes. But wise? Nope. Since, I made the great exchange, my so-called life for His life, I have found the Spirit of wisdom. Choose wisdom. It is no guarantee of worldly success, but the benefits of wisdom are immense. I beg God to enlighten you with wisdom and I offer you a word to the wise.

He stole the big piece!

I was struggling this last week thinking about people that are getting the big piece of life. On vacation in Cabo, we are definitely tasting the relaxation that comes with what people consider the good life. It is really hard to keep your perspective on what matters. Grandpa and I hiked around the hills and saw some amazing mansions yesterday. You know the feeling when someone gets the big piece of something you want, right? It would be pretty cool to have a house to share with people and I thought of how cool it would be to be able to invite people over to a house like that to enjoy our family. You guys are great and no matter where we live people just love your creativity and excitement for life. You are friendly and compassionate and take such good care of our guests. I’m proud of you.

The thing that hit me today was how much we have when God has us! No matter what wealth our family has or doesn’t have, Jesus is the big piece of life. I really believe it today. I read Psalm 73 this morning: “There is nothing on earth I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my PORTION forever.” I am not going to be envious of those who probably worked hard for the wealth they have. My portion of life’s pie is bigger than anything anyone could offer me. Don’t forget that when Jesus has your heart, you have the biggest piece and no one can take that from you.