Jim Baker is back in the pulpit again. "It's awesome to die and come back," he told about 400 worshipers at Way of Life Church, where he was the guest speaker one Sunday. The former PTL Ministries leader presided over a multimillion dollar TV ministry until he resigned amid a sex and money scandal that led to a 45-year prison term that was later reduced to 18 years.
In his book, "I was Wrong," Baker describes the terrible depression he went through while he was in prison. During one of his lowest moments, he received an encouraging letter from a pastor friend. His friend believed that God wasn't done with Jim, and it was his conviction that prison was a part of God's plan for his life. Later, Jim came to share that conviction. In the book, he documents the remarkable changes that took place in his life as a result of those darks of prison.
Part of Jim's depression stemmed from the fact that he had a forty-five-year sentence and was unable to minister inside the prison. From his vantage point he was facing forty-five pointless, fruitless, wasted years of life. You can understand why he was depressed. But in his letter, Jim's friend made a statement that must have sounded like "preacher talk" to Jim at the time. He wrote "Waiting time will not be wasted time." But those words proved to be true. The reinvigorated Baker, out of prison, now preaches against "the gospel of money." "If you fall in love with the things of this world, you will be disappointed," he said. He apologized for his misdeeds and once lavish lifestyle and thanked the Lord for sending him to prison. "As the true impact of Jesus' words regarding money impacted my heart and mind, I became physically nauseated. I was wrong! Wrong in my lifestyle, certainly, but even more fundamentally, wrong in my understanding of the Bible's true message. Not only was I wrong, but I was teaching the opposite of what Jesus had said."
Baker, since his release from prison, has moved to Los Angeles, is living a simple lifestyle, and had joined the International Dream Center helping at risk inner-city youth find hope in Jesus. "My flesh doesn't want to live in the inner city, because I don't like earthquakes," Baker said. "But this is what God has for me to do."
Now I don't personally know Jim Baker, not do I ever expect to this side of eternity. But I have a hunch that Baker is now truly enjoying the favor of God in his life, perhaps for this first time in his life.
From Kirk Romberg's Sermon, "Getting Back on Track"
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Steven Chapman on Feb 8, 2001
Dr. Ellin Greene, of the University of Chicago, has said, "We get so quickly sidetracked from the simple story nature of our faith. We begin to think that theology saves us, that truth is somehow embodied in our theology of the Atonement, or our mastery of eschatological charts. But when Jesus ...read more
Contributed by Bruce Howell on May 30, 2001
Illus.: “The Boy Who Believes in the Holy Spirit Isn’t Here” A children’s catechism class was learning the Apostles Creed. Each child had been assigned a sentence to repeat. The first one said, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and ...read more
Contributed by A. Todd Coget on Jun 21, 2001
[Christian Contradictions, Citation: Joseph Roy, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 4.] A true Christian is a sign of contradiction--a living symbol of the Cross. He or she is a person who believes the unbelievable, bears the unbearable, forgives the unforgivable, loves the unlovable, is perfectly happy ...read more
Contributed by Evie Megginson on Aug 3, 2001
Dr. H. A. Ironside, in his Lectures on Acts, recalls the story his mother told about his own dear father’s dying hour. The mother said, "Your father had this passage running through his mind. He kept repeating it constantly. ‘A great sheet and wild beasts and-and…’ He could ...read more