America Joins the World…In Persecuting Christians

Don’t misunderstand me, the persecution being leveled at Christians in American is nothing like what many endure around the globe; we are not having our heads cut off and we have yet been fed to the lions. However, what we saw today was the undeniable beginning of a change in the fabric of what was once a nation that cherished religious freedom.

Literally, a Christian woman in Kentucky, Kim Davis, was jailed because she could not comply with a judicial mandate to sign same-sex marriage licenses. (#IStandWithKimDavis)

What is our country coming to? What is becoming of our religious freedoms? Whatever happened to “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”?It is all part of what is natural in this fallen world: all things progress towards godlessness.

And it’s nothing new, either. From the very beginning of the Christian church there have been those in government writing laws demanding Jesus’ disciples be silent. In Acts 4:18-19 we read where Peter essentially said, “You guys write whatever laws you think is right, but we cannot stop being who we are and talking about what we know to be true.”

Later, after being put in prison, delivered by an angel, then brought again before the court, Peter and the other apostles said, “… We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). That is all Kim Davis is trying to do, and she is paying for it with her freedom – in a country which once prided itself on religious freedom.

Earlier today I posted the following of Facebook:

Person 1: “I want what has never existed, what most people don’t want, what goes against nature, and you must give it to me, or else! And by “else” I mean if you don’t, I will harass you, malign your character, threaten you with financial and physical harm, ban you from the market place, and even put you in jail. Oh, and you must not only give me what I demand, but you must publicly support my desire for having it and help others obtain it, despite your trepidations. Oh, and you must like it, too!! Because if you say anything negative you hate me and must be punished.”

Person 2: “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. There are other places you can go for you to get what you want – here is a list – but I just can’t, according to my conscience, give you what you want.”

Which one is forcing his/her beliefs on the other?

Person 2, duh!! Because 2 is a Christian.

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, current events, Defending Traditional Marriage

You Can Call Me “Illustrator” If You Want To

The Book

As many of you already know, last year Parson’s Porch published a little book of mine, Life Lessons From the School Bus. If you haven’t picked up a copy, then why not?? I mean, seriously! It’s a good little book!

Anyway…

Each little story in the book has an illustration attached. And guess what? I did all the illustrating! Yes, I can do more than write; I can draw…sorta.

Unfortunately, because of the size of the book, and because the publisher didn’t see things that way I did, the illustrations on which I had worked very hard ended up being very small. Had I gotten my way, the illustrations would have had their own pages. Maybe, if the book ever becomes popular enough, a reprint will include just that.

The Illustrations

So, my dear friends, including those who have not yet found $10 to buy my book, I want to share with you some of the illustrations I drew. This way you will be better able to see all the illustrious and creative detail my geniusness can create ;-)

Should you be on a tight budget and need an illustrator, give me a call. Seriously. I could always use a little extra gas money.

Also, if you’d like a signed and personally touched up copy of any of these illustrations, I will send you one for $20 plus shipping (which shouldn’t be much). What a deal!!

photo 3 (4) photo 5 (4) photo (32) - Copy photo 1 (5) photo 2 (4) photo 3 (2) photo 3 photo 4 (2)

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Filed under book review, Life Lessons

Lives Matter, No Qualifiers Needed

Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth, 47 (roughly the same age as me), was executed the other day. All Deputy Goforth was doing was pumping gas when he was shot in the back of the head, then filled with 14 more .40 cal. holes.

deputy goforthHe didn’t deserve to be murdered. No one does.

His life mattered as much as anyone else’s, no matter what the color of his skin.

Yet, in St. Paul, Minnesota, “black lives matter” protesters felt it appropriate to march through the streets yelling out, “pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!

Folks, I agree with Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman who said:

“This rhetoric has gotten out of control. We’ve heard ‘black lives matter,’ ‘all lives matter.’ Well cops’ lives matter too.”

And I also think we should wholeheartedly go along with Sheriff Hickman’s suggestion:

“Why don’t we just drop the qualifier and say ‘lives matter.’ Take that to the bank.”

Those who can walk through the streets and claim one kind of life matters, while at the same time, with mocking vulgarity, call for the murder of the very ones who seek to serve and protect them, have not only lost the argument, but any amount of sympathy from me.

To add further insult to injury, the very ones marching and calling for the killing of police were being escorted through the streets and protected by… you guessed it… POLICE!

Look, I am sorry that this is not a post full of biblical insight or humor. I am sorry that it has nothing to do with legalism or religion. I am sorry it is not uplifting or encouraging. Maybe next time.

But here I am, prayerfully considering joining our county police department in order to voluntarily serve as a police chaplain. I am considering putting my life at risk, to become a target, all in order to help encourage those men and women who risk their lives every day for you and me. Even though that badge is not yet on my chest, those protesters are talking about ME!

And you wonder why I am taking this a little more personally?

Do I want to see my wife become a widow? Do I want my girls to lose a father to an idiot who thinks all cops are responsible for some city’s racial woes? No, I want to LIVE as long as I can, because MY LIFE MATTERS, TOO!

But here’s the thing… I’m willing to put my life on the line…to step up to the plate…to stand in the gap… so that some other policeman can go home to his family unhurt, sane, still married, and reassured he’s doing the right thing.

And every man or woman who puts on that uniform and badge each day will keep doing it, despite the threats from the protesters in the street… because of honor, commitment, courage, duty, service, and love for their fellow man.

Should I be able to serve with them in any capacity, it will be an honor…

because their lives – like all of our lives – matter. No qualifiers.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the Goforth family. My the God of all comfort give you peace and wrap His arms around you.

UPDATE: As I was about to publish this post (Tuesday, 9/01/2015), a news alert came across my phone: Another policeman was shot in Chicago. Our nation is gradually sinking into anarchy while our president plays golf, our pulpits preach tolerance, and our people praise Miley Cyrus. God help us.

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Filed under current events, Life/Death

Gun Control (An Imaginary News Conference)

The News

As most of you have surely heard, a crazy, angry, self-described gay black man, festering Vester, shot three innocent people while on live television, killing two. All of the ones shot were white, and that was no coincidence; the killer described his reasoning for the shooting as racial in nature.

The last I heard (although I may be mistaken), Roanoke, VA is not burning. No, the only thing burning was the emotional currency in the pocket of gun-control advocates such as Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. As a matter of fact, before either one had time to delete an email or get in a round of golf, both were demanding for more “common sense” gun legislation… to keep us safe.

Even FOX News, the relatively pro-conservative cable news network, had one of their top people, Megyn Kelly, interviewing the father and fiance of the slain reporter, Allison Parker. In less than 24 hours removed from the murder both were on national news pouring out their broken hearts – AND calling for more gun control… because, of course, “crazy people” should not be allowed to buy guns.

How I wish someone would interview me. Oh, but they can! At least in my imagination.

The Interview

News Anchor:  Today we have the Reverend Anthony Baker here with us in the studio. Reverend Baker is a pastor, an author, a father of three, a pet-lover, and a proud gun owner.

Me:  Thank you for having me.

N A:  Pastor Baker, with all the gun violence right now, how can a father and a pastor be pro-gun? How can you claim to be a role model in society, and yet own a gun?

Me:  Well, first off, I don’t claim to be a role model; those are your words. But with regard to your main question, I am “pro gun” the same way I am pro-tools.

N A: Excuse me? Can you clarify?

Me:  Absolutely! I am all about having the right tool for the job when it comes down to home repair, vehicle maintenance, etc. For example, I hate it when I get into a project, such as replacing the brakes on my car, only to find out I had the wrong tool to finish. Guns are nothing more than tools.

News A:  Tools for murder, you mean.

Me:  No, that’s not what I mean.

N A:  But just the other day innocent people were murdered by a crazy man with a gun. That was the tool he used. Don’t you think if we had more laws in place banning easy access to guns  then less people would have to suffer this horrible fate?

Me:  There are already more laws on the books than you can shake a stick at, but that doesn’t stop bad people from breaking them, does it?

N A:  And what is your point, exactly, Mr. Baker?

Me:  A gun is just a tool. Bad people use them to do bad things; good people use them when they have to. And if a bad person was trying to kill me or my family, then I’d prefer to have the best tool for the job. There’s nothing evil about the tool, only how it’s used.

N A:  Do you not think there should be more laws to keep crazy people, people with mental issues, from buying guns?

Me:  There are already laws that prohibit that, but they are only effective when you know who the crazy people are. Are you going to start testing everybody? Do you have a “crazy test” in mind?

N A:  A crazy test? Anyone diagnosed with a mental illness, for example. Should they be allowed to buy a gun like the shooter did?

Me:  No, a person who is legitimately mentally unstable should not be allowed to purchase a handgun. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is where do you draw the line at “crazy,” especially when you emotionally push an agenda to “get guns out of the hands of crazy people”? How do you define what is crazy?

N A: What do you mean?

Me:  Isn’t it true that recent studies published by leading psychology journals have suggested that people of faith, like Christians, are brain damaged?

N A:  Are you being serious? That’s silly!

Me:  So, you’re already calling me silly, so is “crazy” just around the corner?

N A:  Oh, come on now… You can’t be serious.

Me:  Actually, I am very serious. Around 2011, I believe, an article was published in the Scientific American citing a study done at Duke University. The study claimed to prove that those who were religious, especially those who claimed to be “born again,” had brain damage, specifically atrophy to the hippocampal region.

N A:  I’ve never heard of that. I’m sure it’s just a…

Me:  And then there’s plenty of people like Dave Silverman, American Atheist president, who described the religious as “mentally damaged.” And then there’s the Left’s favorite talk show host, Bill Maher, who calls religion a “neurological disorder.” These are the type of people the White House has over for lunch and after-dinner games of Twister!

N A:  What does that have to do with…

Me:  These are the people our government listens to! The Billy Grahams of the world have fallen out of favor and are thought of as kooks! It’s the atheists, the radical left, the anti-God people like Mickey Weinstein who are are on the warpath against Christianity, so why isn’t it plausible that at some point the “crazy test” to weed out gun purchases will include Christians, or anyone of any faith that holds beliefs contrary to what the government says is healthy?

N A:  For one thing, there’s the First Amendment. Second, there’s the Second Amendment. In other words, the Constitution.

Me:  Ha ha ha! Are you serious! You must be crazy yourself! President Obama has already proved the Constitution means nothing when you’ve got an agenda to push through.

N A:  Don’t you think you’re being a little paranoid, Pastor Baker?

Me:  See, you’re already attaching labels. Pretty easy, isn’t it?

N A:  Pastor Baker, let’s get right down to the point, OK? Do you think there should be stricter gun control, or not?

Me:  Not.

N A:  You are a man of the cloth, a man of peace, and yet you don’t think we have a problem with guns in this country?

Me:  No, I don’t think we have a problem with guns in this country. Not at all.

N A:  That has to be the most uninformed answer I’ve ever heard! Don’t you watch the news? Haven’t you seen the murders? Haven’t you read the statistics?

Me:  Yes, I’ve seen all that, and it all points to something far bigger than a gun problem; it’s a heart problem. The old saying is as true as it’s ever been: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” It’s a heart issue. It’s a nation that has turned its back on God in every area of life issue.

N A:  So, you think it’s that simple, do you? You don’t think getting the guns out of the hands of criminals and the insane would save lives?

Me:  Theoretically. Possibly. But this is America, you know. As the Japanese general once said, “There’s a gun behind every blade of grass.” You know there’s no way to get the guns out of the hands of the criminals. Only the law-abiding citizens would likely obey the law and give them up. The bad guys would just keep being bad and keep having guns. The good people would suffer, that’s all.

N A: Then do you think it’s hopeless?

Me:  No, it’s not hopeless. There’s always hope. But there will never be peace until the Prince of Peace comes back to reign. You called me a man of the cloth, a man of peace. I am, and that’s one thing I will continue to preach…peace. But I’m also a realist. As long as there are bigger bad guys out there, bigger guys than me who can hurt me, I will also preach, so to speak, the “peacemaker” philosophy of Samuel Colt.

N A:  So, are you saying you are not for any kind of gun control at all?

Me:  Absolutely not! No! All I am saying is that if only the bad guys have guns – and they will – then the good guys will always be victims. I think the logical thing to do would be put guns in the hands of good people, train them, and create an immediate deterrent to gun crime.

N A:  How in the world could that deter gun crime?

Me:  How many crooks would be foolish enough to continue to break in, rob, and assault if the average citizen was armed? Don’t you think the bad guy would think twice? I would, but then again, I’m not crazy.

And that’s how the interview would end.

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Filed under America, current events, General Observations

Happy A-Day to Us!

Happy 6th!!!!

anniversaryToday is my blog’s 6th anniversary!

Can you believe it? Time has flown by.

I don’t have a cake, but I do have half a box of strawberry-flavored Minion-themed Twinkies. You are all invited over to share what I have left.

In honor of this momentous occasion, why not share a thought or two? What first brought you to this blog? Has it made any impact on your life? Would you share it with 10 people if I offered you a $100 bill?

Maybe on my 10th anniversary we can have a real party. Whataya say?

Thanks, folks. Thanks for reading, for commenting, for sharing, for liking, and for just being friends.

Anthony

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Afflicted or Merry?

Anthony Baker:

I don’t claim to have been inspired in the same way those who wrote Scripture were. However, I do believe God does “inspire” us at times to write things under the guidance of the Spirit, things which, when we look back on them, seem like they were written by someone else – and maybe they were.

The post I am reblogging is one such example. As I read it this morning I was convicted in my spirit. God originally led me to write these words a couple of years ago, but now they are being used to minister to me. It’s not strange; it’s not funny; it’s a God thing.

So, in all things praise the Lord anyway!

Originally posted on Proverbial Thought:

Proverbs 15:15 

“All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”

“Figures”

Have you ever known someone who feels like nothing ever goes his way? I have a friend who says, “Figures” when something doesn’t go the way he wants or plans. In other words, he feels he should have expected things to go wrong. How defeated is that?

Those who feel like the world is against them, that fate hates them, and that every wish upon a star is doomed to utter failure are not happy people. There are no silver linings, only clouds, and all the glasses are half-empty due to some conspiracy hatched in a neighbor’s mind.

“Praise the Lord, Anyway”

Then there are those people who take what’s handed to them with grace and a smile. They are the ones who end up truly brutalized and…

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The Inexpensive Option

No Upgrade

Yesterday I asked your opinion about upgrading. Most of you thought is was not a great idea because of price, and I agree.

Of course, if I had some sponsors I would jump at the chance to spruce up my old blog. Who knows what I could do to the appearance if I had access to cool upgrades. But for $99 a year? I don’t think so, at least not on my budget.

One of the reasons I asked about the upgrade was the ability to directly upload audio. Several of you suggested that links would be just as effective, and free.

Sermon.net

A while back I started using a free (up to a point) service for storing and sharing sermons: Sermon.net. It has worked just fine for uploading sermons and sending them to our church’s Facebook page (we don’t have a website). Once the recording is uploaded to Sermon.net, all you have to do is click on an icon to share it.

It was only tonight that I figured out how to make use of the tiny WordPress icon.

The Sermon

I still wear a suit on Sunday morning - because I want to :-)

I still wear a suit on Sunday morning – because I want to :-)

So, try it out, if you’d like. I have uploaded and linked (for free) Sunday morning’s sermon from Riverside Baptist. It is part of a series of messages through the Book of Acts.

They Had Been With Jesus – Acts 4:13

Please leave a comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Filed under blogging, Preaching