Toby grew up going to church on Christmas and Easter. It wasn't until Young Life was introduced at his high school that he heard the gospel. It was at a Young Life camp that Toby accepted Christ as his Savior. He went on to attend Texas A&M University where he eventually earned both bachelor and masters degrees.
He is married to Sloan Baker, a member of the worship team at Austin Ridge. They have attended Austin Ridge for 10 years and have been in the same life group for 7 years. They live in Southwest Austin and have two young boys, Jake and Gray.
Toby is a youth leader with Bible Study Fellowship International, serves on the Austin Music Commission and currently works at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Posts by This Author
Chapter 8 in the book of John tells the story of Jesus, the Pharisees, and an adulterous woman. The Pharisees, in an attempt to trap Jesus, brought a woman caught in adultery to him and asked whether she should be stoned to death as the Law required. Jesus paused, bent down, and wrote in the dirt with his finger as they hounded him for an answer. He stood up and said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then, he bent back to the ground and continued writing in the dirt until all the Pharisees had left him alone with the woman.
You might wonder what this event has to do with our study of Proverbs. But as you read through the chapter below, take note of how Jesus epitomized these wise sayings in his dealings with others.
My son Jake told me that if I lived past 35, I will have won the game of life and would then be free to die. I pointed out that I am 41. He matter-of-factly stated that I was now free to die, but that he and his brother still had to play the game, as they had not reached the winning age yet. Such a simple viewpoint forced me into some not-so-simple thoughts. Am I okay with dying? Am I okay with my wife and children dying? What do I want to accomplish while I am here? For what do I want to be remembered? And finally, what’s the point of all of this?
- In what ways do you question or wrestle with life?
Christians routinely give more weight to certain biblical commands. We treat sins differently and tend to rank them in order of our own personal offendedness or in order of rank prescribed to us by our church community. And sometimes we ignore parts of the Bible because they do not fit with popular culture or because they are hard to accept. When we do these things—either ranking sin or avoiding God’s Word—instead of focusing on God’s love and the love we have for him, we expose the gaps we have in our faith. We can become religious, rather than Christian, and tend to love others poorly.
- How do you show your love for God?
It is said there is no deeper bond than that of a mother and a child. Watching my wife swoon over my sons and seeing them still cling to her brings tears to my eyes. Similarly, the bond I have with my brothers is tough to describe. It runs deep, through years and experiences, to places only we know. These kinds of relationships are the very definition of intimacy, and are not to be taken lightly.
- What relationship in your life would you count as the deepest and most authentic?
Imagine going to the finest restaurant and ordering a five-star meal. Now imagine you have lost the ability to taste. Next, imagine standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon and looking out over the expanse. Now imagine you are blind. Is food from the finest restaurant worth eating if you can't taste it? Is it worth visiting the Grand Canyon if you can't see it?
- How would it be living in a world without the sense of taste or the ability to see? Would it be as rich?
On a regular basis, I choose to make decisions that I know are sinful, often neglecting other responsibilities and, ultimately, God’s plan for my life. As Paul lamented in the book of Romans, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing,” I, too, continually choose to defy God’s will for my life. The problem is me and my sinful nature, more specifically, my selfishness.
- Why do you continue to choose your own sinful will over God’s plan?
David approached Goliath: step, step, step. Goliath approached David: thud, thud, thud. This is how The Jesus Storybook Bible I read to my children describes the lead up to the battle between the two individuals. When I read the story, I use a normal voice for David’s parts and a loud, menacing voice for Goliath’s parts. As you can imagine, this is, by far, my kids’ favorite story in the book, and I have read it over a hundred times out loud. In my mind, I think of one of my kids taking me on in a battle as a parallel to the actual story. While the idea seems ridiculous, it is similar to what happens in today’s passage.
- When did you last feel like a David facing a Goliath?
My wife is a musician who leads worship weekly. While her love of music and God-given talent allow her to lead, it does not come easily. It takes a lot of work. She rehearses for several hours a week, listens to the instruction of the worship pastor, and pinpoints challenging transitions and spends extra time on them. She meditates on the words, prays continuously to overcome her fear, and allows the Holy Spirit to work. The result can be a powerful and impactful experience for both she and the congregation.
- How do you hone, and use, your gifts in an effort to point people to Jesus?
As a teenager and a young man, I bristled at rules. And honestly, even now I still bristle at rules. When I hear words like rules, laws, commands, and regulations, my mind immediately wanders to words like boring, lame, and rebel. Many times my innate need to defy authority has led to action. Is this healthy behavior? Probably not. Has it been fun? Sometimes. Has it landed me in trouble? More often than not. Have there been consequences? Yes, absolutely.
- What does our culture tell us about rules and fear? How has that pressure influenced you?
With the rise of social media sites, Christians are now publicly (and on a worldwide scale) being judged for their beliefs. Facebook and other websites provide, perhaps for the first time in history, a collective sounding board for those who vehemently disagree with our beliefs. Sometimes I find myself reacting to the judgment of people, rather than responding to the judgment of our God. This is a dangerous place to linger, as what I’m really fearing is people instead of God.
- How do you respond when you are judged for your faith?