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!

I Will Speak Out While I Can

The Cancel Culture

I am sure you’ve seen it, everywhere you turn there is someone else getting blackballed. If it’s not a Republican for supporting Trump, a celebrity caught by a hot mic saying something supposedly bigoted, or whole media platforms that offer too much freedom of speech, it’s lowly folk like you and me who somehow gain the attention of the all-seeing eye of Big Tech.

No one is safe from being blocked from Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon. No one is safe from being de-humanized. For that’s really the point, isn’t it? To deny a person with whom the uppity-ups disagree the right to exist and prosper in the public square, even though they’ve done nothing illegal? And the “wrong” they’ve done, well, it’s all subjective, correct? It has to be, for objective good and evil is in itself a taboo subject.

Therefore, while I still have a platform, I am going to share what I believe regardless what others may think or whether or not they approve.

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31:8-9 KJV

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

Today is a somber and serious day to celebrate. Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, a day that started with the proclamation first made by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 on the 11th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Today is also a somber day to remember because it was the first year that Donald Trump did not make a proclamation for this day. Bill Clinton refused for 8 years. Obama refused for 8 years, also. Now I can only assume there will never be another presidential proclamation celebrating the sanctity of human life, for Biden will surely promote the funding of the current national holocaust begun in 1973 with the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and renewed federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Today was also a day when I used the pulpit I’ve been given to stand of the Truth of God’s Word and hold nothing back in my denunciation of abortion. As I requested, God gave me boldness and courage to say what needed to be said, no punches pulled. If it gets me banned from social media, then so be it. It’s in God’s hands.

I was just the messenger.

“Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed. – Jeremiah 48:10 ESV

7 Points of Needed Agreement

In this morning’s sermon (which, incidentally, did not last longer than normal) I shared a record 17 points! Actually, the first 10 were not my own, but 10 ways Christians could celebrate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

But the last 7 points were mine, and I want to share them with you, today. Unfortunately, I am 100% positive not all of you will be in agreement. However, we should be.

Things we should agree on and/or support if we believe Human Life is Precious and we are made in the image of God.

  1. Life is a right; abortion is a decision.
  2. Human life is more valuable than any other form life.
  3. Human life at any age, young, old, or preborn, his intrinsic value and purpose.
  4. Adoption should be encouraged and prayerfully considered.
  5. The Death Penalty is not immoral; God demanded it.  Genesis 9:6
  6. To memorialize a life is to acknowledge the value of life.
  7. Saving a life has eternal ramifications.

Now, I could expound on each one of those points, and maybe I should, but I would encourage you to look up my sermon on our church’s Facebook page. If you have specific questions about any of these points, leave your question in the comment section.

But I do want to leave you with one other thing.

If Not Sanctity, then WHAT?

The word “sanctity” is very appropriate when talking about the value of human life in the context of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc. Consider the various definitions I collected from the web…

  • The quality of being very important and deserving respect; the state or quality of being holy, sacred, or saintly.
  • the quality or state of being holy or sacred INVIOLABILITY

Consider the synonyms listed:

holiness · godliness · sacredness · blessedness · saintliness · sanctitude · spirituality · piety · piousness · devoutness · devotion · righteousness · goodness · virtue · virtuousness · purity

Yet, when our government leaders, our media, our entertainment, and half our electorate mock, bemoan, belittle, and censure those who believe in the sanctity of human life, specifically the innocent life within a mother’s womb, then what?

What is the antonym of sanctity? . . . “wickedness.”

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” – 2 Timothy 2:19 NIV

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says '" We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life- the unborn -without diminishing the value of all human life. President Ronald Reagan national RIGHT TO LIFE'

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Filed under Abortion, America, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Life/Death

A Response, or Not a Response: That Is the Question

Not long ago I was involved in a back-and-forth comment thread with a subscriber named Stephen. Maybe you’ve read the comments. If not, they are still there and available for your viewing.

At one point I decided to end the back-and-forth commenting and commit to a post in which I would address the plethora of accusations and mischaracterizations Stephen was making. I even backed off from writing a great deal in order to focus on this piece. To be specific, 2 weeks ago I wrote:

“… I am going to take very seriously my responses to your questions, including your – let’s be honest – angry and mean-spirited attacks on my character and intelligence. Also, in order to achieve maximum transparency and allow for others to judge our arguments against the Word of God (our only source of authority), I will be copying and pasting the most pertinent of your previous remarks into a series of new blog posts.”

However, after reviewing eleven (11) pages of comments, and after being advised by several friends and relatives to stand down, I think it wise to keep my response “limited.”

The reason for keeping things confined to maybe just one blog post is that spreading out the discussion would risk the potential of getting off track. It would also potentially fuel a long-running debate that would prove worthless.

The Sermon

On Sunday morning, January 10, 2021, I preached a sermon from the seventh chapter of Matthew. Jesus said in the 24th verse: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” Note, the wise man whose house will stand through the strongest storm is one who not only hears the words of Jesus, but does them.

And what were the “sayings” to which Jesus was referring? They go all the way back to Matthew 7:1. From verses 1-21 there are seven (7) main points, the “sayings” of Jesus. You can find them in verses 1,5,6,7,13,15, and 21.

However, it was verse 6 that the Holy Spirit used to speak to my heart (and other social media users in the congregation). It was also this verse that was often quoted by those advising me to stand down:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. – Matthew 7:6 KJV

Now, before anyone – including Stephen – gets offended, I am NOT calling anyone a dog or pig! Neither was Jesus.

The meaning of this verse has to do with giving things of great value to those who by nature will see no use for them and in turn, instead of thanking you, will continue with their attacks.

You see, swine cannot deduce the value of a shiny, costly, and rare pearl; all they see is something to munch on like a nut. It is not in their nature to appreciate rarity and beauty. Likewise, the one who is hostile to the Word of God, who refers to it as a “dead book” written by “fallible and evil men” is hardly going to appreciate any explanation he’s already deemed valueless and tasteless.

Therefore, I’m torn. Do I respond or not? Do I defend the Bible, the organized Church, pastors, paid ministers, even myself? Do I respond to Stephen’s over-generalized accusations?

Another question: Will it matter? When it is unlikely that Stephen will (if he’s still reading at this point) take the time to respond in a calm, respectful, rational, non-hateful, non-smart alec, humble way, what’s the point of investing hours of my valuable time into writing the likes of multiple research papers?

If the 11 pages of comments tell us anything, Stephen’s likely response will be to belittle my hard work and say as many atheists do when offered evidence of Intelligent Design: “That’s not evidence.”

It’s a tough, tough decision to make.

Who Is Stephen?

So, who is this Stephen person? Why take all this time to address his comments? What makes his arguments and accusations worthy of rebuttal? Why not simply say “whatever” and ignore or block him? After all, I normally block comments from people who are so disrespectful that they call me a “POS.”

I guess it’s because I know that others are reading the comments, too. I know that there are those who will never write anything but read what we write when we go back and forth. I know this because several have told me through email and in person.

It’s also a fact that Stephen is a real human being with real emotions, feelings, and a soul. Stephen also lives in a world where his actions and beliefs will ultimately affect others and possibly generations to come. And it would also be good to remember that Stephen is not alone in his beliefs; there are many, many others who think and feel the way he does.

Where there is one Stephen, there are others. Therefore, by taking the time to rebut false assumptions and dangerous theologies, we may or may not be able to affect a change in Stephen, but others may come to know the Truth.

My Observations

I guess it would be good at this point to offer some observations that I’ve made as I have reviewed Stephen’s comments from last year. Since you may have not read them all, the following summary will give you a better understanding of the tone and substance of Stephen’s comments, along with a better understanding as to why I feel addressing all his arguments might be fruitless.

Again, the following bullet points contain Stephen’s actual comments and are contextually accurate. In no way have I cut and pasted his words in order to frame him in a negative light. His comments can speak for themselves.

  • Derogatory Ad Hominem Attacks are Common – I counted at least 22 personal swipes at my character or the character of others who joined conversations. With only assumptions and obvious bias as his foundation, Stephen was quick to use the following derogatory descriptors, to mention a few…
    • Hireling
    • “…the honest [pastors] have left the world of religion.”
    • legitimate” pastors don’t “carry the labels, nor were they employed in religion.”
    • “The cognitive dissonance required to sit through a sermon and not puke is astronomical. But then as we all know, the psychopath target the weak.
      Perhaps your time would be better spent pontificating to your flock Mel. I don’t have much patience for manipulators.”
    • “…you chauvinistic POS.”
    • “…2 bit evangelical religious leaders such as yourself.”
    • “A couple of 2 bit religious business owners about their own agenda is what the both of you are.”
    • “As for your religious business, Baptists are no different than any other denomination or non denomination, it’s all a business, whether you manage it or own it, it’s all witchcraft.”
    • “…why don’t you mind your own family instead of perpetuating religious business that abuses children and those who are weak minded?”
  • Does Not Believe the Bible is the Inerrant, Inspired Word of God
    • “…not bound to a book…”
    • “My authority is Jesus Christ, not a dead book.”
    • “I do like the bible as it contains many truths and reliable testimonies.”
    • “As for Where to fine Jesus” words, they’re everywhere but mostly I find them within.”
    • “I know you disagree all those who belive the infallible, final authority or the word of God must. Their whole faith lies in their belief in the bible. Almost as if, God ceases to exist if the bible has errors.”
    • “The Jesus of the bible can be many different images to many different people and yet you seem to think a unique revelation is wrong?”
    • “…but God is not confined to a book written and compiled by man.”
    • “God has not stopped revealing Himself to men, He doesn’t need a bible to reveal Himself.”
    • “The bible is subjective…”
  • Stephen has a strong dislike for Pastors and Preaching.
    • “I’ve had my fill of men who claim to have the truth.”
    • “God’s people are everywhere, there’s absolutely no need to pay or put up with pontificating just to hang out with them.”
    • “Instead of preaching about ‘leading by example,’ it’s time to start doing it.”
    • “You must assume your position … [use] a couple of bible verses to justify your authority and put me into submission … You must maintain dominance so as to not look weak before your flock.”
    • “Jesus never spoke of giving pastors or to His people.”
    • “Any religious leader would have a hard time justifying their position without Paul’s writings so I understand your desire to bind people to the bible.”
    • “The standards you perceive from the bible are for you, they’re not meant to be legislated and forced onto other, especially if they don’t affect you.”
    • “And there’s no way preaching the Gospel should be a paid position. Jesus is the model of what the Church should be, not Paul.”
  • Stephen has a strong dislike for organized religion.
    • “There is absolutely no difference between the world and those who attend and adhere to organized religion.”
    • “I’ve tasted the paint religion paints with, and will not be painted with that brush. So I’ll continue to paint with my broad brush.”
    • “Though most of my mentors never spoke His name or had any part in religion, they lived Christ.”
    • “…I don’t do religion.”
    • “No bibles, no church, just faith in God.”
    • “As for the church model you justify, this model is found no where in the bible.”
    • “…I’m not a believer that acts is the model for the Church. The Church are those who belong to Christ. We are a living organism and not an organization.”
  • Stephen has made some potentially dangerous ontological and theological statements about Jesus.
    • “When we stand before Jesus Christ, we will then know the Truth.”
    • “I don’t profess Jesus as the only way to God, people can figure that out for themselves. I profess Jesus IS God.”
    • “My authority is in Jesus Christ, not a dead book.”
    • “…Jesus Chris revealed Himself to me and taught me that in fact, my conscience was Him speaking to me.”
    • “After reading the bible 5 times cover to cover, I still wasn’t sure who Jesus was, but He had mercy on me and revealed to me, the scriptures are accurate in their testimony of who He IS. Much like Peter, flesh and blood did not reveal it to me, but my Father in Heaven.”
    • “The Jesus of the bible can be many different images to many different people and yet you seem to think a unique revelation is wrong?”
    • “I don’t recall Christ condemning either the woman caught in adultery or the woman at the well. Nor did He defy from doing what they were doing.”
    • “I hope I’ve made my profession for Jesus Christ alone loud and clear as I learned this from Jesus Christ Himself. This Truth was learned by many and some recorded it. And some of those testimonies were compiled and put in a book that we now call the bible. Fallible men to who’m God revealed Himself to. Go has not stopped revealing Himself to men, He doesn’t need a bible to reveal Himself.”

So, what do I do?

Does Stephen sound like a guy who’s going to respond with grace to someone who gets paid to preach and pastor a church which is linked to an organized religious organization?

If Stephen doesn’t care for the writings of Paul, what good is it to discuss the revelations Jesus made to him as described in the book of Acts and elsewhere in Paul’s letters?

If God has not stopped revealing Himself to men, and if the Bible (I capitalize it because it is a proper noun) is just a compilation of individual and subjective experiences, then to what Authority do I appeal?

If Stephen has already determined that all pastors aside from the “Good Pastor” are hirelings, manipulators, abusers, controllers, practicians of “witchcraft,” and “POS,” what makes me think anything I say, especially if I appeal to a “dead book” written by “fallible and evil men,” will have any affect? Will I only be casting my pearls before someone who cannot appreciate the value?

Personally, I don’t think anything thing I write, whether it be based solidly on the words of Jesus or not, would have any effect on Stephen. After re-reading his comments, it’s hard to imagine he will ever yield the possibility that anything I say could be correct.

HOWEVER, if you would like for me to offer a reasoned response to any of Stephen’s accusations or assumptions, please let me know in the comment section.

In Conclusion

I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t leave you (and Stephen) with something positive. I’ve talked a lot about Stephen and his beliefs but let me close with a few things I believe.

  • There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ (“I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me” – John 14:6).
  • I believe that Jesus was and is 100% man and 100% God (hypostatic union).
  • The Bible is our sole source of authority regarding faith and practice, and especially when it comes to understanding who God is.
  • The Bible is not a “dead book,” but “…[is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 KJV
  • Scripture is not subjective and open to individual interpretation (Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. – 2 Peter 1:20 KJV).
  • There must be a point in one’s life when he goes from death to life, from lost to found, from dead to alive, from estranged to reconciled, from being a foreigner to a member of the Family, from being born in the flesh to being born again, from being the enemy of God to being called His friend. In order to be “saved,” there must be a time in one’s life when he recognizes his need of a Savior.
  • Pastors are gifts to the Church (Ephesians 4:11) and are allowed to be paid for their work (1 Timothy 5:18).

Anything specific I missed? Anything specific you’d like me to address?

If not, I guess I’m done with this project.

Stephen, I do pray that you will grow in a sincere and biblical relationship with Jesus Christ and grow deeper in your understanding and appreciation for the Bible, for it was Jesus Himself who said: “‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?‘ And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke 24:25-27

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Filed under Bible, Bible Study, Church, God

Support Your Local Artists (and bloggers)

Things are slowly getting back to normal and I’m painting again.

If you would like to beautify your dreary environment or cover a hole in your wall, please consider my drawings, paintings, and photographs 🙂

Original works will vary in price, but the cost of prints will be pretty much the same across the board. ALL prices will INCLUDE the cost of shipping within the United States.

The highest quality prints are those that look and feel like the original watercolor painting. They also cost more to make. They are the “gicleé reproduction” prints.

Photographic prints are still high quality, but easier to produce. They will cost considerably less.

  • 9×12” gicleé reproduction prints are $30 (with free shipping in the U.S.
  • 5×7” gicleé prints are $16.50 (free shipping)
  • 9×12” photographic prints are $12 (free shipping)
  • 5×7” photographic prints are $10 (includes shipping)

Below are a few examples. More are coming in the weeks ahead.

https://checkout.square.site/buy/C76XODUV67SN773Q5RRUA42D
https://checkout.square.site/buy/ZYR62ONRAWYRCANCI2PI7YPS
https://checkout.square.site/buy/7I6EXF2MKHV7Q5MLI44V6AO5
https://checkout.square.site/buy/JPVT5LBXQJDSSH262VOCL3UA
https://checkout.square.site/buy/32LJBRYGO57CWDWGJWE3ZQGL

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Filed under art, Bethlehem Baptist Church, General Observations

It’s Not a Platitude: God Is Still in Control

The events of this week led me to change what I was going to speak on Wednesday evening. I hope you will take the time to hear what God put on my heart.

As an added bonus, my sister plays the piano and sings an original piece to start things off.

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Filed under Abortion, America, Christianity, Countries, Culture Wars, current events, Preaching

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: “The Critical Vote”

Who Would Have Guessed

Honestly, who would have thunk that by moving down here to Georgia I would play a part in American history? Well, after tomorrow my vote could determine the direction of this nation.

I  mean, you know, just pastoring a church gives one the chance to impact lives for generations to come. But pastoring a church in Georgia right now, right on the cusp of one of the most important elections – EVER – makes me tremble.

But, like I’ve said before, “…for such a time as this.”

Don’t Tell Them

One of the more sensitive issues of ministry is that of politics. As you are surely aware, we pastors are not supposed to tell people how to vote. To do so could potentially result in a church losing its tax-exempt status.

Yet, as you have surely seen over the last few years, more and more pastors and religious leaders are making it clear where what boxes they want you to check. Without question – it’s not even an argument – African-American churches (which overwhelmingly support Democrat candidates) have long been known as being active politically, even to the point of specifically endorsing candidates from the pulpit. It’s even expected that the Democrat candidates make appearances in black churches.

Then, of course, there are the other churches that support more conservative candidates, most always Republican. In lots of cases, the candidates will go to those churches to speak, also. But the Republican church visits are nothing in comparison to the other party’s efforts.

And when it comes to what pastors are allowed to say; when it comes to how far a pastor should go in stating support for a particular candidate or party; when it comes to a pastor talking politics at all . . . the white churches and the Republicans barely hold a candle to rest. It’s not even a contest.

But that’s not how I’m going to roll this time.

Perdue and Loeffler

To be honest, if anyone in my congregation votes for Jon Ossoff or Raphael Warnock, I’d be terribly surprised. To the best of my knowledge, based on nothing more than objective observation, most of my congregation will vote Republican tomorrow. Yet, I still won’t get up behind the pulpit and say, “Go vote for so-and-so.”

But since this is my blog, I will say exactly what I think. It’s still my right and I’m free to exercise it.

If you live in Georgia, as I do, and you vote for either Jon Ossoff or Raphael Warnock, then the blood of America will be on your hands.

I will boldly beg of you to vote for either David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler.

The Agenda: Fundamental Change

Folks, if Ossoff and Warnock are elected and placed in the United States Senate, America will never be the same, and that’s their goal.

I don’t have to go through all their promises. All I have to do is to get you to understand that with a Democrat majority in the Senate, the House, and with a Democrat President, they will complete what Barak Obama said he wanted to do: “Fundamentally transform America.”

Stop and think about those three words for just a moment. What does one mean when he says he wants to “fundamentally change” or transform anything? If I were to stand before my congregation and exclaim, “This year we are going to fundamentally change Christianity”? Would it still be Christianity without its fundamentals?

What if you told your wife or husband, “Tonight’s date-night will fundamentally change our marriage”? What would that mean? Would that be a good thing? Maybe.

But when you propose, even promise to bring “fundamental change” to something, what you end up with is NOT what you started with. Consider what Wordhippo.com offered as synonyms to “fundamentally change.”

Then, from a legal standpoint, what is a proper definition? Consider the following from LawInsider.com:

“Fundamental Change means a dissolution or liquidation of the Company, a sale of substantially all of the assets of the Company, a merger or consolidation of the Company with or into any other corporation, regardless of whether the Company is the surviving corporation, or a statutory share exchange involving capital stock of the Company.”

Barak Obama promised it. Biden promised it. Ossoff and Warnock promise it (either directly or by association). And if they get elected to the Senate, then the Democrat party will have little to nothing stopping them from destroying this country.

Just keep in mind, these are the people of the party who now say “amen and a-woman.”

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Filed under Abortion, America, politics, voting

Mirror Image in a New Age

It Was the 90’s

rockers
Mirror Image on the rocks in the creek behind my grandparent’s house on the mountain in Soddy Daisy, TN

It’s the dream of many young people to have a garage band. A few of them actually put a band together that can crank, get in gear, and drive out of the garage.

Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s my sister and I had a band called “Mirror Image.” We came on to the scene at a time when musical styles were in the process of changing and popular Christian music was still trying to find itself. Stylistically, we were either too early, or too late.

Nevertheless, our final incarnation, consisting of my sister, Rebecca (keyboard & vocals), Steve Castlen (drums), Jody Gould (guitar), and myself (bass), was a locally popular band that, at least, made a small impact on eternity. Our music was original (either written by Rebecca, me, or the group), fun, and intended to reach a younger generation with the gospel of Christ.

As a result, more than a few young people came to know Jesus as their Savior! I can remember one concert in Dayton, TN, where 7 or 8 youth accepted Christ! 

A New Year

It’s now 2021 (Hallelujah!), Mirror Image is no more, and all of the band members have gone on to other things. Rebecca has been living in Germany for the last 10 years and is married to a German citizen, Carlos (I gladly call him my brother-in-law). Fortunately for all of us, she has been here with us in the States for the last couple of months visiting because of our mother’s health. 

I’m not too sure what all the rest of the guys are doing these days. I do know they are all well, married, and still doing music in some way or another. It’s been a long-time dream of mine to get everybody back together (including our first band members, like our first lead-guitarist Alex Quarles) for a reunion concert. But, as you can imagine, it’s not been easy or practical. 

However, since Rebecca has been back, before she returns to Germany in a week or so, we are going to partially fulfill my dream of a reunion concert! This coming Sunday morning we are going to perform at the church where I’m the pastor (Bethlehem Baptist, Warthen, GA)! Yes, it will be a reunion concert (if only with half the band)!

If you can’t be there, I hope you can watch it on Facebook Live.

An Old Song

One thing that has changed since the 1990s is our age – we aren’t the young and energetic 20-somethings we used to be. Therefore, not only our health but our tastes in music have changed a little and matured. Therefore, the songs that Rebecca and I will be playing will sound a little different than they did 25 years ago, especially since it will be performed on only the piano and bass, with an acoustic guitar thrown in on a few.

But to give you an idea of what we sounded like back in the day, I’ve included below a recording (made during a practice session in a Sunday School room). It’s a song I wrote called “New Age.” 

“New Age” talks about how many religions and cults point toward a coming day when the world will enter a “new age” of peace, understanding, and oneness. The only problem is that those who dogmatically worship one God must be “taken out” of the world, one way or another.

The New Age, the Paradigm Shift, the new age of human evolution: none of it can come to pass as long as Christians are still in the world. Ironically, Christians believe the same thing. 

We refer to it as “the Rapture.”

“New Age”

click here to listen

(Written by Anthony Baker; Performed by Mirror Image)

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Filed under Christian Maturity, ministry, music

My Last Post of 2020

Glad it’s over, but at least I’m better prepared for the next catastrophe. Amen?

Thank you, everyone. All of you who have read any of my posts, all of you are appreciated, even Stephen in Canada 😉

Tonight, at 6pm our time, we are going to be having a New Year’s Eve service. It won’t be a long one, nor will it be a traditional-like service. All I plan to do is read a verse or two from the Bible and ask if anyone would like to share a word or two about the past year. Then, as Jesus and his disciples did right before He was taken to be tried, we will have our version of the Passover meal: the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus said of the Passover meal, and by extension the celebration of that last supper we observe today, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul said that as often as we partake in the communion meal, we “proclaim His death” until He returns. I want to offer it tonight for both those reasons.

Remember Jesus. If that is one thing we probably did not do enough of is think of Jesus during the last year. On the other hand, it is very possible that many people who never thought about God at all had their minds on things eternal. Did we as Christians take advantage of that opportunity? Did we think about life and death as much as those who were without hope?

I can’t help but think that the Church has been given a rare opportunity, at least a once-in-a-lifetime chance to offer Christ during a time of great uncertainty and questioning. For most of the past year we have seen something comparative to the Ethiopian reading a scroll he barely understood and we as Phillip being sent to answer his questions. How many of us have even considered the answers?

Proclaim His death until He comes. The second thing about communion is that by partaking in it we show that we have put our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. We believe that His blood was shed and His body was broken on our behalf, and that Jesus was buried only to rise again. And we believe, as He promised to rise again, He also promised to return. Therefore, we partake with a grateful and expectant heart as we proclaim to the watching world where our faith lies.


Before I go, I want to clue you in to the subject matter of my next substantive post. As some of you may have read, a man named Stephen has been leaving some pretty harsh and antagonistic comments here on the blog. I have honestly come close a time or two to blocking him. However, I’ve not been able to do that.

So, in a previous comment to Stephen, I said that I would like to take his accusations and false charges and answer them one-by-one. Unfortunately, a lot has happened over the last couple of months and I forgot to do so. However, I am in the process of compiling ALL Stephens comments going back to January of this year. From these comments I am going to pull specific issues and questions that I will attempt to address. Please pray that the Lord will use the material I post to open the eyes of blind and allow the hard-of-hearing to hear His voice.


May the joy of the Lord be your strength in 2021.

Put Jesus first in all you do.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Church, current events, Future, God

2020’s Last Sermon

For the edification of some and to tick off others (you know who you are), here’s a link to today’s service and final Sunday sermon of the year.

https://fb.watch/2EBiylyWgE/

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Speak With Authority, or Sit Down

It’s early on a Sunday morning, 15 minutes before 7 a.m., to be exact. I’m sitting here at the dining room table with my Bible and my laptop (graciously provided to me by our church), contemplating the Scripture I am going to be sharing a few hours from now.

What I am about to say is not for everyone, for not everyone has been given the responsibility to lead. Nevertheless, though not all of us will have the opportunity and calling to shepherd a congregation of believers, each and every one of us will at some point be responsible for communicating truth to those for whom we are one day going to give an account.

The verse from this morning’s text that has captured my attention is Titus 2:15.

“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

That was the King James Version rendering. Now, let’s read the text as translated in another version.

You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.

Titus 2:15 NLT

What I think we as pastors need to remember is that what we have to say needs to be taken seriously. If, however, we stand before our flocks as shepherds with no staff, not only are we “despised,” but so is the Word we are called to teach.

Those who know me the best know that I am a nice guy. Seriously, I hate confrontation so much that I will go to great lengths to avoid it. I want to be liked, even to a fault.

But when it comes to preaching and pastoring, we must take very seriously Paul’s admonition to Titus. As Paul left Titus in Crete to “set in order the things that are wanting,” so has God ordained us to set and keep things in order(1:5), speak those things which become sound doctrine (2:1), and remind believers of their obligations and responsibilities as representatives of God’s grace (3:1).

The problem we in leadership face is how to demand attention, to “let no one despise” us, without coming across as authoritarians or tyrants. Is a pastor to be a bully in the pulpit? Is he supposed to lord his authority over the sheep and force them to lie down in green pasture? Some think so.

However, it is Jesus who exemplified for us the model of servant leadership which draws attention. It is this same kind of example the apostles left us when we read of their boldness after Pentecost.

Our authority comes from the Word of God. Our boldness comes from the Holy Spirit. We are equally accountable as both heralds and subjects.

If we find ourselves timid, skiddish, reluctant, or intimidated behind the pulpit, we must ask ourselves some very point-blank questions. Who are we trying to please, God or man? Why are we called to be heralds? Just to be heard, or to proclaim the Message of the King?

Should we actually “speak the things that become sound doctrine,” then we are accountable to God for what we say, for we are to speak what He is saying. If we are tasked with heralding the Word, then God will hold us accountable for getting the message out to those who need to hear.

If we cower or hesitate in our duty, then we either doubt the authority of the Word, or we proclaim it in the power of our own strength. There is no excuse for the pastor, the shepherd, the man of God to stand behind the pulpit or on the neon-lit stage and waste time offering suggestions and scratching itching ears when we are plainly told, “These things speak…”

“Let no man despise thee” tells us there is a responsibility incumbent upon the preacher.

Therefore, unless you are going to mount the pulpit this morning with authority as one tasked with an urgent message from the King of the universe. . . unless you are going to “be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might” (Ephesian 6:10). . .

Sit down.

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Art Sale TODAY Online

If you are interested, check out the Facebook link below. THANKS!

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