I’m a Sinner

I Still Sin

(updated)

It may come as a shock to some of you, but I still sin. Yes, this preacher still makes mistakes. You see, I am no better than anyone else, even though there used to be a time when I thought I was.

Years ago, when I was a really legalistic son-of-a-gun, it wasn’t uncommon for me to look down my nose at others who were “less spiritual.” Oh, I wouldn’t admit I thought I was better than anyone, because I really thought I was humble. It’s just, seriously, I never committed any of those horrible sins like adultery, murder, etc. All my sins were small, like not cleaning my room when asked, or looking too long at pictures in the J.C. Penney catalog.

But things changed. First, I found out that this self-righteous do-gooder could actually screw up – big time. Second, I found out that some of the ones I looked down on before had better excuses for their sin than I did. Third, I grew up. Forth, I found out what grace is all about.

So, I still mess up from time to time. I still sin, and that’s because I still live in unredeemed flesh. However, there are still times when I need to be reminded of how sinful my little sins are, and how great God’s grace is.

What I Deserve

Last week I lusted. Yes, this preacher – a married man and father of three – lusted. It’s not like I do it all the time, but I saw something on television that caused me to look longer than I needed to, to allow some thoughts to come into my mind that had no business there. A moment of weakness. Just being honest.

Later in the day, after a long day on a hot school bus, I took a shower. As I was washing my face, soap got into my eyes and caused them to sting. With a wince I felt a little twinge of guilt as I was reminded of the earlier sin involving my eyes. I said aloud, but to myself, “I guess I deserved that.”

Then, almost immediately, a still, small, Voice whispered into my heart, “No, what you really deserve is Hell.” In other words, it was like God was saying to me, “Anthony, is that how little you think of my Son’s sacrifice for you?” In other words, if all it took was a little soap in the eyes to pay for that mistake, why the cross?

Bam!

Do you realize that even if all you and I had ever done was commit some little, private sin, Jesus would have still had to die on a cross to reconcile us with God? Do you realize even the smallest, most insignificant sin is still sin in God’s eyes? ALL sin separates us from the Father, therefore ALL sin is worthy of Hell.

But praise the Lord for God’s amazing grace! It saved a wretch like me. Through it the righteousness of Christ was imputed to me, and therefore I am now truly clean, holy in the sight of God my Father.

I’m a sinner, but I’m a saved sinner. Thank God!


Do you want to know how you can be a “saved sinner,” too? Click on the Eternal Life tab at the top of the screen. If you’d like to talk with someone about it right now, call 1-888 – Need Him.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, legalism, Love of God, salvation

A Perfect “Fool” Storm

I want to keep this simple, so no fancy fonts, no pictures, and no links. All I want to do is offer my personal opinion on the recent shooting of a black man by a white police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Please, take this for what it’s worth from a preacher who’s just calling it as he sees it.

First, to shoot an unarmed man in the back is cowardly. More than that, it’s murder. After thinking about this for a while, I can’t come up with any logical reason for why police Officer Michael Thomas Slager unloaded round after round into the back of an unarmed, slow-moving, easily-caught 55 year-old. There is absolutely no excuse.

Secondly, what would cause a man to get out of a car and run from police? He didn’t want a ticket? He didn’t want to pay child support? He thought that by running he wouldn’t have to go to jail when he was eventually caught? He thought running would make him look innocent? I mean, seriously?

So, what we have here is a simple case of two fools coming together and exhibiting how foolish the two can be when BOTH act like idiots – a perfect “fool” storm.

If you think it’s justifiable to shoot a man in the back when he is running away from you, you are a fool. If you think it’s smart to get out of your car and run from armed policemen, like you think you can get away, you are a fool. I make no apology for saying so.

So, may justice be served, and may the family of Walter Scott find peace. But, for the love of God, I just pray that the race-baiters won’t get a foothold in North Charleston, because this wasn’t as much about race as it was about two men making foolish decisions which ended in tragedy.

The best way to heal this situation is to admit the truth, reach out in love, and seek to learn and apply godly wisdom. Otherwise, more foolish actions will lead to more perfect storms, more shipwrecked lives, and more pain.

Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.Proverbs 9:6

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Filed under current events, General Observations

Bonhoeffer, In His Own Words

Seventy years ago in the early morning hours of April 8, 1945, a man of God, a theologian, a hero, was hung by the Nazis. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Now that the new Nazis of the world are spreading their anti-Christian, anti-Semitic hate around the world, doing everything from forcing people to bake cakes to beheading them on a beach, I could think of no better way to honor a young pastor who gave his life in the fight for freedom and truth than to share some of his own words. Then again, maybe we could honor him by being more like him.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV


 

RNS-DIETRICH-BONHOEFFER

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)

“Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.”

“Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is not inner discord between the private person and official capacity. In both we are disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all.” ― The Cost of Discipleship

“A pastor should never complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men.” ―  Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

“The fearful danger of the present time is that above the cry for authority, we forget that man stands alone before the ultimate authority, and that anyone who lays violent hands on man here, is infringing eternal laws, and taking upon himself superhuman authority, which will eventually crush him.”

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” ―Letters and Papers from Prison

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” ― The Cost of Discipleship

 

(Quotes credit: GoodReads.com)

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Filed under current events, Faith, Life/Death, Theology

I Didn’t Bake a Cake

“I Didn’t Bake a Cake”

I didn’t bake a cake.

Of course, it’s not like they didn’t take

All the other pastries I created,

Like the ones they bought when the couple dated.

I just didn’t bake a cake.

 

I didn’t bake a cake.

But if I was a thug and tried to make

A getaway, and then got shot,

I’d be a hero, alive or not.

But I just declined to bake a cake.

 

Because I didn’t bake a cake,

The death threats are more than we can take.

We’re losing everything; we hide in fear.

The reason for the terror made perfectly clear:

I didn’t bake a cake.

 

You’d thought I was an abuser!

You’d thought I was a buyer and user

Of drugs…or women and children.

But I wasn’t. Now I’m facing prison,

All because I didn’t bake a cake.

 

– Anthony Baker

 

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Faith, Struggles and Trials

He Lives!

We celebrate many holidays in this world, but one stands out among the rest: Easter.

Now, I know that some of the more legalistic among us will label all the celebrations “moot” because of certain “pagan” links, like that to Ishtar and fertility rites. The unbelievers will laugh off this day with arrogant disdain. But for the majority of Christians around the world, this day is a day to rejoice in the Son of God’s victory over the grave.

We are prone to celebrate many things, like who won a game, that new promotion, or a birthday. We throw parties when political candidates squeak out a win, or when that big contract gets signed. Some will even fire thousands of AK-47 rounds into the air while shouting “Allah Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. But nothing is more worth celebrating than Jesus keeping His word and rising from the dead to secure eternal life to those who trust in Him.

Today, as I stand before a congregation, I will attempt, in the power of the Spirit, to stir the imagination, to take us back in time, to recreate a fraction of the excitement that must have been felt when those who were convinced of defeat were shocked by the greatest come-from-below victory of all time.

Today, before all those present, whether in flesh or spirit, I will celebrate victory over sin, death, and hell. The Enemy has been defeated, his tools are obsolete, for Jesus died and rose again.

He Lives!

Click on the link to listen to my favorite Resurrection Day song, “Gone!” (sung by Teddy Huffam).

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Filed under Easter, Faith, God, Preaching, salvation, worship

Happy Atheist’s Day!

Steve Martin wrote a bluegrass song (well, he sang it on stage with the Steep Canyon Rangers, at least) about atheists not having any songs. It was funny. I even saw him sing it live a few years ago.

On the other hand, Christians have several holidays we celebrate. There is Easter (just around the corner), Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Lent, Boxing Day, All Saint’s Day, Good Friday, and a few others.

What do atheists have? April Fool’s Day!

But wait! Don’t atheists celebrate other days as well? Sure they do! Besides celebrating Christmas and Easter in their own godless ways, atheists are said to observe at least ten (10) other holidays when they’re not trying to ban crosses from roadsides, or mangers from public lawns.

  1. Earth Day – This is the day when atheists can pretend to have a god, name it Maya, and celebrate its existence as they try to preserve it.
  2. Solstice – When the planets all line up, or when the days and nights get long, atheists can celebrate the complexity of an intergalactic machine that made itself.
  3. Arbor Day – When even the loneliest atheist needs love, they can hug a tree.
  4. Mothers and Fathers Day – Hey, even atheist have parents. They didn’t come from monkeys, you know.
  5. July 4th – The perfect holiday for the American atheist who is happy his ignorant, bigoted, racist, religious Forefathers (along with a couple of intellectual agnostics) decided to start a new country founded on free speech and the freedom of religion. It gives him something he can fight against, which is practically everything they stood for.
  6. World Health Day – Cause even atheists hate getting the flu and AIDS.
  7. International Talk Like a Pirate Day – Arrrg! Who doesn’t enjoy talking like a mythical version of a murderous criminal of the sea, right?
  8. El Día de los Muertos – This is a Latin holiday, the Day of the Dead. Atheists love to reminisce about those who have gone on before, keeping their memory alive…because that’s all they’ll ever have.
  9. International Coming Out Day – Because closets are for clothes, old video tapes of NOVA, and apprehensions.
  10. Richard Dawkins’ Birthday – It’s sorta like Christmas, but without the virgin birth, nasty mangers, hope, and angels. There’s plenty of worshiping, however.

But seriously, no holiday is more fitting for the atheist than April Fool’s Day. After all, isn’t it the fool who says in his heart there is “no God” (Psalm 53:1)?

So, HAPPY ATHEIST DAY!…within reason, of course. ;-)

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Filed under Humor, World View

Comparing Testimonies?

Lunchtime Chatter

It was only after I had downed my turkey chili, and Haley (my daughter) had almost finished her brownie, that the conversation started with a fellow Panera Bread patron. She was a godly-looking lady sitting all alone in a quiet booth across from us, Bible to one side of her table, eating some soup.  I asked, “So, how many people do you think come in here for Bible studies?”

“A lot,” she answered with a smile. For the next few minutes we talked church stuff, especially who her pastor was.

Now, I am not going to name any names, but her pastor is a local dynamo of a leader. This guy is a great speaker, is in great shape, has a powerful voice, has seen fantastic growth in an already large congregation, and has his book for sale at Lifeway (well la-ti-dah). What’s more, once a year, due to overwhelming demand, he shares his testimony to overflowing crowds which are stunned to hear of God’s working in this man’s life (he was a former drug lord, or something).

Really? That’s cool,” I said. “That’s awesome.” Then, with a matter-of-fact tone that probably sounded something like, “Yeah? You think I’m impressed?” I told her, “My testimony is pretty boring…I was just the most self-righteous son-of-a-gun you’d ever meet, that’s all.”

Ahhh, really?” she replied.

“Yeah, nothing that special…pretty ordinary.” Then, after she showed me her pastor’s book, the one that her whole dadburn multi-thousand-member church uses for discipleship studies, I made sure she heard that I had also written a couple of books – one of which was 350,000 words long – and both are for sale at Barnes and Noble (insert adolescent-like tongue flapping sound).

It made her raise her eyebrows, so I was happy. Childish, I know.

Who’s Is Better?

Here’s the thing…why is it that we are so prone to jealousy? Here’s another thing…why is it that one testimony of God’s grace will draw a crowd, but others are thought of as run-of-the-mill and boring?

Here’s another ‘nuther thing…I can’t be you, and you can’t be me, and God knows what He’s doing….and every testimony of God’s saving grace cost Jesus the same amount of blood; it took the same cross to save this preacher’s kid as it did that big drug dealer who now pastors thousands.

No “testimony” is better than another. Sure, to our ears it may sound more dramatic to hear how God delivered a person from a life of gross sin and debauchery, but the real miracle is not about us – it’s about Him. The simple truth is that it takes just as much of a miracle to save a person who doesn’t think he’s ever done anything wrong as it does to save a man who knows he deserves hell.

Were you saved from sin? So was I. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14).

Testimony of Grace

Some of us have some great stories to tell, but all of us have a unique story to tell. Even though some pieces of the puzzle may seem bigger, no puzzle is complete without the smallest piece in place.

Don’t compare yourself to others who draw crowds with their stories; you are not them – you are YOU. You are you for a reason only God knows, and even though you may not be the one getting all the attention, you still play a critical part in God’s plan.

God created you for the sole purpose of bringing praise and glory to the name of Jesus Christ through your own, uniquely miraculous testimony. No one else can live your story; no one else can have your testimony.

The only one we need to compare ourselves to is Jesus. When we do that, it’s a miracle any of us are where we are today; we’re all a testimony of God’s grace.

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Filed under Christian Living, Depression, Do not judge, Life Lessons, ministry