Author Archives: Anthony Baker

About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor/preacher/teacher, musician, and Time Magazine's Person of The Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. Currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry. Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him!

ICPC In Review (Video Included!)

This post is going to be packed full of media, so I hope you can view it on a good computer or smartphone…

Last Week

It has been a week since my last post and I’m chomping at the bit to talk about all that’s gone on. However, for the sake of time (it’s nearly midnight at the time of this writing, and I have to out of the house by 7 a.m.), I will stick to one subject – my trip to the annual training seminar with the International Conference of Police Chaplains (ICPC) in Lexington, KY.

Below is a photo of me and the three other chaplains from our Sheriff’s Office who attended this year’s annual training seminar (ATS).

Myself and Chaplains Rich Payne, Allen Lindon, and Sergio Freeman (who is also a Chaplain with the Air Force and the US Secret Service)

I really didn’t know what to expect when I agreed to go to the ICPC training last week. I had never attended anything like it, but it was being paid for by our Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and was needed for our department to meet certain government credentialing standards, so who was I to say “No”?

What I experienced was an event that was informative, encouraging, and challenging. Even though I have been a police chaplain for 3 years, most of the courses I had to take for my “basic” level of credentialing contained a lot I’d never learned from experience.

What the ICPC does is provide education and instruction to those who want to be or are already chaplains to law enforcement officers and the victims they serve. Police departments cannot pick and choose the faith traditions of those who want to serve as chaplains, and this training is not meant to promote one particular faith, either. The courses of instruction are designed to help the police chaplain do his job, regardless of denomination or faith.

For that matter, as a law enforcement chaplain, it’s not my primary job to promote my faith while performing the duties of the position. However, where I am able, I want to share the light of Christ in a very, very dark world most people never see. I’m very thankful that I got to fellowship with a lot of chaplains last week who were solid Christians and devoted followers of Jesus Christ, even though not all were in my particular denomination.

Below is a list of the 12 mandatory courses I attended over the 5 days of the seminar:

  • Explanation of the basic courses

    Intro to Law Enforcement Chaplaincy

  • Death Notification
  • Stress Management
  • Ceremonies and Events
  • Law Enforcement Family
  • Ethics
  • Confidentiality and Legal Liability
  • Responding to a Crisis
  • Substance Abuse
  • Suicide
  • Officer Death and Injury
  • Sensitivity and Diversity

I also took another course on how First-Responder Chaplains (which is what police chaplains are) can be used during riot situations, along with attending a larger group session dealing with “implicit bias.”

They Came from Everywhere!

While I walked around the convention center during the conference, I thought it would be cool to collect pictures of department patches. The following photo collection is only a portion of the police (and fire) departments that were represented at this international event. Some chaplains that attended (like myself) didn’t have dress uniforms to wear, so the following photos only tell part of the story.

The Video

In order to give you a little more insight into my week, I made a little video and posted it on YouTube. I hope you will take the time to watch it.

But before you do, I need to clarify a couple of things.

First, as you watch the video clips of the memorial service, it may seem odd that people stood up when the pictures of canine officers were shown, but not when the people were shown. Well, what actually happened was that whenever the officers of a particular state were shown, the people there from that state would stand up and hold up their blue “candle.” However, when the fallen police dogs were shown, they were shown after officers from other countries were shown, so the American Flag came up instead of individual states. That’s why all Americans stood at the same time.

Second, I left a very disturbing statistic out of the video, and I want to share it here. New numbers were released to us as we were at the conference, and those numbers were heartbreaking and sobering: 4 times more police officers die of suicide than those who die in the line of duty.

Did you get that? Besides having the highest divorce rates, police officers take their own lives four times more often than those who die while performing their duty!

If there was no other reason to do what I do, that’s reason enough.

If you want to do something different, why not consider volunteering to be a Police Chaplain where you are? There are risks, but the rewards are well worth it – and those you serve will thank you. #ICPC4cops.org

Click here to visit ICPC’s website.

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ICPC Week In Lexington, KY

This week I’m not writing or posting very much, not even on ProverbialThought.com. The reason is that I am in Lexington, Kentucky, attending the 45th annual training seminar for the International Conference of Police Chaplains (ICPC).

The purpose of this week-long seminar is to provide valuable training for law enforcement chaplains, along with the opportunity to meet and develope friendships with fellow chaplains from across the nation and around the world.

This is the first one of these conferences I’ve attended, and after the second day my brain is a little tired – information overload, as we say. But I do appreciate Sheriff Jim Hammond and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for making this trip possible.

Tomorrow afternoon there will be a memorial service honoring the fallen. Thursday night there will be a more formal banquet. In between all the classes and meetings we try to get some food, meet new friends, compare notes, and work in time to study for Sunday sermons (the last one is me, at least).

I will share more about this conference, some photos, and some things I’ve been learning in another post. But if you’d like, you can go to the following website to learn a little more about the ICPC, police chaplains, etc. There may even be some recent video now posted.

Go to www.icpc4cops.org

In the meantime, hug a cop and say a prayer for him or her and their families.

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Should Virtual Church Be A Thing?

I just want to do a quick survey by asking you guys a quick question.

What are your thoughts with regards to “virtual church”?

Try not to be overly-critical with your answers, if possible; I understand that there’s no real replacement for gathering together corporately in worship. However, can you see a place where a church’s website can not only meet the needs of a local context, but also be a means to minister to those either outside the community or otherwise incapable of attending services on site?

If you have suggestions on how it could be used in a positive way without necessarily devaluing the command to “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together,” please let me know.

Feel free to respond by leaving a comment.

Thanks 🙂

 

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Filed under Christian Unity, Church

More Than a Career, It’s a Means to a Calling

The following is from an article I published this evening on LinkedIn. I’m just now starting to take advantage of that social networking medium, so if you have any suggestions, let me know 🙂

Heads Up: I’m working on a new book, and this article is a hint of what’s to come.


Means to a Calling

How familiar is the term “bi-vocational” to you? If you are a member of a small church, or if you are a pastor of one, then you are very familiar with the term. However, judging by the uninformed comments on social media (those slamming ministers who ask for millions of dollars to buy new jets), it would seem that much of the public is unaware that the good majority of small-church pastors are bi-vocational – which means they have to work more than one job.

I am a bi-vocational pastor; I’ve been one my whole ministerial life. Even though I have a seminary degree, even receiving the Theology Award when I earned my Masters in Ministry, I still serve a church that cannot afford to compensate a full-time pastor. Unlike many assumptions, this is more of the norm these days, not the exception. Gone are the days when a young man entering ministry could expect to earn his primary living from the ministry. Now, even the most educated and qualified ministers leaving Bible schools and seminaries should also have a skill with which they can find a job to put food on the table and pay the rent.

In Acts 18:1-3 we read of the apostle Paul’s bi-vocational trade. Upon coming to the city of Corinth he met up with a husband-and-wife team named Priscilla and Aquila who “were of the same craft” and lived with them, for “they were tentmakers.” In a general sense, tentmaking was not what Paul was known for, nor was it his primary calling in life; he was an apostle to the Gentiles. However, even this great man chose (even though he could have expected otherwise) to keep up a skill which helped fund his personal ministry. After all, there weren’t many places where he could go preach where people took up large offerings to give him afterwards; in many cases all he got was a beating.

So, even though the ministerial climate in America is much different than what Paul endured, there is still a need for pastors and ministers to be able to support themselves when those they serve have little to offer in return. There is nothing wrong with a pastor earning his living from the ministry, and Paul says as much in 1 Corinthians 9:13 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18. However, church attendance is on a decline across the board and overall giving is not what it used to be; therefore most ministers must supplement their calling with other income. That is why I am writing this article: my job, my own version of “tentmaking,” is not a means to an end; it’s a means to a calling.

Over the forty-five years I have literally had…don’t be shocked…forty-two different jobs! Never mind, you can be shocked – that’s a lot. Now, many of those were part-time jobs that overlapped, but since my first job as a young, teenage preacher, I’ve done around forty different things in order to facilitate what God has called me to do. Granted, even though much of what I have done in the “secular” world has, in some ways, been ministry, none of what I’ve done…no label I’ve ever worn…no title I’ve ever had…has been the main thing I’ve desired to do. All I want to do is preach the gospel and be an under shepherd to the Great Shepherd’s sheep.

Today, and hopefully until the day when I can no longer work – or don’t have to – I am an agent with a great company, Aflac. For the ten previous years I drove a school bus and trained new bus drivers. Driving the school bus allowed me to be a positive influence on children and affect future generations, but Aflac will now give me the opportunity to be a servant of Christ by example and deed in the grown-up world of business and insurance. I will be able to help people protect themselves against financial hardship in the event of accidents and/or illnesses, help businesses take care of their employees and keep good talent while decreasing their tax burden, and most importantly keep food on the table as I serve the Lord’s people and the community in which we have been placed.

If you can introduce me to a business owner or decision maker, I would surely appreciate it! In doing so you will not only help my business to grow, but you will be helping me help others in more ways than you can know. With your help we can “make more tents,” but that won’t be all; the job is just a means to the calling. In reality, bi-vocational ministry is more than having a second job, it’s part of the calling, too.

 

Email me at Anthony_Baker@us.aflac.com for more information on how Aflac can help you 🙂

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July 4th, Chattanooga, Tennessee River

Last night I played bodyguard to my daughters Katie and Haley. They wanted to go downtown to walk around and take pictures before the fireworks, so I went with them…armed to the teeth 😉

Well, I’m sure their pictures from last night are much better, but here are a few I took from the Walnut Street Bridge. The drawbridge in the pictures is the Market Street Bridge.

The red, white, and blue mansion is the Hunter Museum. We passed by it as we walked back to the car, and right before it started pouring rain!

We love our city. We love our river. We love our country.

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God SAVE America!

Happy 4th of July!

flagIt has been 242 years since the colonies declared their independence. It was not an easy decision to make, however, and many of the signers paid a heavy price. But John Adams, in a letter to Abigail Adams, said he was “well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it [would] cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.”

So, happy birthday, America! Your birth was a hard and costly one, but well worth the pain.

God Bless America?

Now, each year about this time we sing of our love for America. Irving Berlin wrote a song with a title that is repeated every time one of our presidents closes a speech: God Bless America!

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

However, as I said in past sermon:

“Maybe we should stop asking God to bless America. Maybe we should, on the other hand, be saying, begging, ‘God spare America…God have mercy on America!’ We have already been blessed by God more than any nation deserves, yet what are we doing with those blessings? Where is our thanks to the God who blesses? We are rapidly going down as a nation, so before God completely abandons this nation to the trash heap of fallen empires, we had better be praying God REVIVE America…God SAVE America!…God have MERCY on America!”

Franklin’s Suggestion

Benjamin_Franklin_by_Jean-Baptiste_GreuzeIn 1787, not long after the war with England, representatives sent by the people met in Philadelphia to hammer out what was to be the Constitution of the United States of America. Tensions were high, arguing was accomplishing nothing, and the whole Continental Congress was in danger of falling apart. That was when the great Benjamin Franklin offered the following words…

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.” Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments be Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service. – Source

We are “groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us.”

We are “divided.”

We are “confounded.”

We are becoming a “reproach and a bye word to future ages.”

And what is worse, mankind is leaving the forming of new governments to “chance, war, and conquest.”

Oh that America would cease fighting each other and fall on humble knees before a Holy God and pray!

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

We should be “imploring the assistance of Heaven” before Heaven becomes deaf to our prayers.

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Filed under America, Countries, Culture Wars, current events, God, politics, voting

Different Metal, Different Furnace

Without a doubt, there is someone who needs to read this today. I know I did.

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts. – Proverbs 17:3 NKJV

Gold or Silver

In case you were not aware, there is a difference between gold and silver (Well, duh!). Seriously, there is a difference between the two, and that fact should not be taken lightly. Gold is gold, and silver is silver. Obvious stuff, right?

Well, sometimes the obvious is profoundly important.

Gold is extremely valuable but is soft and pliable. Silver is not as valuable per ounce but is nevertheless a harder precious metal. Gold is highly sought after and coveted; silver is more common but is still critically important for a wide range of applications, everything from electronics to medicine.

How one refines gold, compared with silver, is not the same. What’s more, the temperatures of the refiner’s fire is hotter for one than the other.

What R You?

When I read Proverbs 17:3 yesterday during a Sunday School class I teach, something obvious proved to be very profound: depending on how God wants us to be used, each one’s trial by fire will vary in intensity, the heat of which will determine what metal we are made of.

gold furnace

Source: The Australian

Unlike gold and silver, we are human; our qualities and usefulness change. Some days we are made of gold, while other days we are silver, but most of the time it is hard to determine which. That’s when the Refiner turns up the heat.

There is a lot to refining gold and silver. Not only is there heat involved, but various acids, too. Therefore, it should come as no surprise when God not only allows us to endure intense pressure (heat), but permits the caustic, painful situations of life to eat away the impurities within us.

God is the refiner of hearts.

Iron Man

But, you know what? Gold and silver, while both rare and beautiful, will never make good axes, swords, cannons, I-beams for skyscrapers, or bridges across raging streams.

Sometimes there are jobs that can only be done with iron.

Don’t feel special? Don’t think of yourself as gold-like? That’s OK! You’re important, too! As a matter of fact, the melting point of iron is nearly double that of gold.

You may think what you are going through right now is far tougher than anything a “golden saint” might deserve. Don’t lose hope; the fires forging you are instilling a strength that may be needed to wage war against the Enemy, support the heavy loads of many, or bridge the gap between understanding and ignorance.

Don’t curse the furnace. Let the Refiner do His work.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, self-worth, Struggles and Trials