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. His tombstone will read, "I Can't Believe He Actually Said That!" Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him.

Which Is Your Favorite? Please Comment!

Please Choose

The following drawings are ones I did for my little book Life Lessons from the School Bus.

I am planning on recreating one or two in the form of hand-drawn reprints (I will actually re-draw them).

I will call them “reriginals.” Not copies; not prints; not the original…reriginals

We have some needs, so I thought a little fund-raising through art might be fun. Trust me, they won’t be expensive, should you decide to purchase one.

 

So, could you help me? Hmmmm? Let me know which are your favorites!

I’m not asking you to buy anything today, just let me know which ones you like best. That way I will work on those for resell.

Leave your choice of favorite in a comment below and I would greatly appreciate it.

The Recovering Legalist’s Gallery of Fine Art

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Can You Start Anywhere? 

How well do you know your Bible?

I know it sounds like a loaded or trick question, but it’s not.

I’m not asking if you can name all 66 books, the 12 disciples, or all of the 10 commandments. It’s certainly not as complicated as asking you to define Biblical inerrancy, the offices of Christ, or the perseverance of the Saints.

My question is simply this: Do you know your Bible well enough to lead someone to Jesus – starting at any place in the Bible?

As I was teaching through the book of Acts the other day, one particular verse jumped out at me, practically taking me out behind the woodshed for an old-fashioned tail whipping.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. – Acts 8:35 

You see, there was this Ethiopian official, a eunuch from the court of the queen, who was sitting in a chariot while reading from the book of Isaiah. God sent Philip into the desert to meet up with him, and when he did he asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

Unlike the average atheist who’s read the Old Testament so many times he’s come to the conclusion there’s no God, much less the God of Christianity, the Ethiopian eunuch replied to Philip, “How can I, except someone guide me?” Then he invited Philip to come sit with him in the chariot for an impromptu desert Bible study.

But the thing that stood out this time as I read through the verse was that when given the opportunity, Philip didn’t ask the eunuch to flip over to another passage; he began right there in Isaiah 53 and began to share Jesus.

So, what’s my point? How well do you know your Bible? Could you, if someone was just sitting on the tail gate of his Ford truck reading from the Old Testament, begin at whatever passage he was reading and take him to Jesus?

Isaiah 53 is an easy one, frankly. What about Psalm 23 or 22? What about Genesis 1 or John 1? Better yet, could you lead someone to Jesus if you had to begin at Nehemiah 6 or 1 Chronicles 3?

Is it that we only think the New Testament speaks of Jesus? Are you so stuck on the “Roman’s Road” that you can’t take a detour through Ruth? Jesus said ALL the scriptures testify of him (John 5:39), not just the gospels.

As a matter of fact, the standard was set by Jesus himself when he met two men on the road to a place called Emmaus. It was while talking to them, Jesus, “…beginning at Moses and all the prophets…expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

In other words, Jesus went from Genesis to Malachi showing how all of Scripture taught that the Christ must suffer, so it shouldn’t have been a shock or surprise to anyone. He 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? – Luke 24:25-26

So, I will ask again, how well do you know your Bible?

I’d bet we all need to do a little more study.

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Theology

Crazy Search Terms and Christian Blogs

Searching

This post took a little longer than I wanted, all because I took the time to peruse the world wide web. Really, there are a lot of things out there I never knew, and the only way I could have found out about them was to randomly “Google” something.

Sometimes I am both amazed and brought to laughter when I read the search terms people have entered which led them to my blog. So, this time I figured I would type some crazy stuff in and see what happened.

The goal: Could I find a Christian blogger at the other end of these search-term rainbows?

10 search terms and their interesting results.

1. Boogaloo and happy hamsters

2. Buggy bumper Bible

3. Myocardial Greek inflection

  • All Greek to me, except for articles in medical journals dealing with hypertension and coffee drinking making arteries stiffer.

4. Blessed are the fish

5. Papaya preacher paints

  • A painting by Isabel Rock, “Papaya Don’t Preach.”

6. Faith and dirt in a blender

7. Gospeltime elephant bladder

8. Gong Show Theology

9. What if Scooby got saved? 

10. Legalistic Ice Cream

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A Difficult Thought

This post I did on Proverbial Thought is a good example of how comparing Bible translations can lead us to a deeper understanding of what is really being said. Check it out.

Proverbial Thought

Proverbs 26:10

“The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.”
“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” – ESV

This proverb is a challenging one because of how many different ways it could be translated. As a matter of fact, practically every scholarly commentary admits the Hebrew in this proverb is difficult to interpret. That is why I am going to quote several of them before I leave my final thought for you.

Spence-Jones (The Pulpit Commentary)

Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth them that pass…

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There’s a Reason He’s Sending You to a Desert

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. – Acts 8:26 ESV

As some of you know, I am currently in the process of recording video lectures for a class I am teaching at Covington Theological Seminary. The lectures are around an hour each (a little less), and I’m supposed to be doing around 30 of them – all from the book of Acts.

Believe me, this is not work! I pretend that I get to preach for nearly an hour without one person complaining! How awesome is that??

Anyway, after a long time away from doing the lectures – all because of our recent move, and all that – I got back into the studio and back into Acts. Today I recorded lectures on chapters 7 and 8.

My Bibles and notes set up a lecture on Acts.

Well, even though I use notes, especially notes that I made when preaching through the Book of Acts a while back, there are always moments when God shows me something mid-stream. That’s what happened today, and, boy, did I get excited!

In the latter part of chapter eight we read of where God sent Philip to meet up with the Ethiopian eunuch, but notice the instructions… “Take a road south…to the desert.” (my paraphrase)

How easy it would be to quickly read over that last part and not catch the significance of it! Philip had just experienced what could literally be called a full-fledged revival in Samaria – even Peter and John came over as guest speakers. Now, here’s the Lord sending Philip out into the desert, far away from the wells and the villages teaming with new church members.

How many of us would have almost immediately questioned the direction of God? But what does Luke say that Philip did? He “rose and went.” No arguing, he just went.

Remember, it was in Acts 6:3 that we read where Philip was one of seven men chosen to be deacons, men “full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.” What an example! A wise man, a man filled with the Spirit, should be one who says, “Yes, Lord.” Unfortunately, we have too many these days who would question God’s leading, even to the point of missing an incredible opportunity and a divine appointment.

Philip could have rationalized that there was nothing in the desert, so why go? But God knew what Philip didn’t: there was a man on a chariot who need to be told about Jesus.

You see, God may have called you away from the well-watered villages of Samaria to a dry and deserted place. Maybe He’s call you, but you haven’t left, yet. Don’t wait! Don’t worry! God has a reason that might result in hundreds, thousands, or even millions being reached with the Gospel, all because you were faithful to witness to a man in a chariot.

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“The Worst Field Trip Guide”

Since our spring break in Chattanooga is just about over, I thought I’d share a chapter (Stop #15) from my little book, Life Lessons from the School Bus.

One day I transported 80 kindergartners on a field trip to a mountain forest. Do you have any idea how loud 80 excited 5 year-olds can get when confined in a 40ft.-long steel box on wheels?

Teacher Talk

I couldn’t help overhear the advice school teachers were giving to the little crumb crunchers on the bus, then later after they unloaded. One warned, “Don’t pick anything up from the ground; you won’t be able to keep it, anyway.” Another said, “Don’t bounce on the swinging bridge; just look over the side.” Seriously? How can you tell a 5 year-old not to jump on a swinging bridge and then expect him not to jump on the swinging bridge?

SIDE NOTE: I remember when our oldest daughter, Alicia, who was around 12 or 13 at the time, went with me to visit the old capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky. In that old landmark is a genuine floating staircase on which Alicia decided to jump up and down. I asked, “What are you doing?” She calmly replied, “Trying to see if it will fall.” I said, “Two things…First, it’s been here since 1827 and hasn’t fallen, yet you think your scrawny self is going to break it? Second, why would you want to be on it if you could make it fall?”

Anyway… the best piece of advice from the teachers was clear enough: “Do NOT get off the trail!” But again, honestly, how many kids actually listen to instructions that make sense? I mean, you take a child that’s never been out of the suburbs to a forest with plants taller than their apartment buildings and you expect them not to run amuck? Therefore, I decided to speak up and add some clarification to the teachers’ warning. I said, “Because if you get off the trail, we might have to send the DOGS after you.”

Who knew one little girl was afraid of dogs? I didn’t! …Cry baby.

Bad Advice

So, that got me to thinking: what would be the worst advice to give 80 children before a trip into the woods?

  • photo 3 (4)Don’t worry about your lunch box; the forest is full of pretty berries.
  • As long as the animal is smaller than you, go ahead and pet it. It won’t mind.
  • Hey, bounce on the swinging bridge! It’s just like a trampoline.
  • Of course! Rules are meant to be broken.
  • Bears? What bears? This is Tennessee, kid. We don’t have bears. You’re thinking of Chicago.
  • I don’t care what your mom said, poison oak is a hoax. Don’t your parents have oak furniture? Does it make you itch? See, she lied.
  • Who can get closest to the edge? Let’s find out.
  • Whatever you do, don’t stay on the trail. Trails are for babies.
  • Snakes are overrated, misunderstood jump ropes. They want you to play with them.

 

Life Lesson

Thankfully, when it comes to the wilderness of life, there is One who always gives good advice.

In his famous Psalm 23, David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” God urges us to stay on the path that He has already walked, which is why Jesus said in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me.”

He knows the difference between good fruit and the forbidden kind.

Route Suggestions

  • Don’t give vague instructions to children; they need specifics.
  • Go check out the old capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky – but don’t jump on the staircase.
  • Never get to the point where you are too proud to listen to instructions or advice. For example, you may have been down this road before, but your tour guide has been down it more recently. There may have been some changes of which you are unaware, like a washed out bridge or recently released bears. Oh my!
  • Read Psalm 23. Was David walking alone? How could this Psalm relate to your life?

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What Are You Worth?

What would you die for?

What is so valuable that you would risk or even sacrifice your own life? Have you ever stopped to think about that? You should.

The typical things in life that are considered so valuable, when put in perspective, aren’t really worth that much. Even the most “priceless” treasures are not worth your life – or are they? Would you fight a thief for your purse or car? If so, you are saying those things are more valuable than your life, for you are willing to risk your life to keep them. It is how people die every day in the pursuit of, and the keeping of earthly possessions. Pretty foolish.

What about non-concrete items, such as pride? Some people are willing to fight to the death, or kill others, when insulted or “dissed.” Perception is NOT reality, just as integrity is not determined by opinion; yet, some would rather risk death than be wrongly perceived.

Is family worth risking your life?

As close to a recent family photo that I have. But hey, we escaped in time!

Really, there is no argument against this one. But on the other hand, society has a difficult time determining the value of life; one life is not as valuable as another if convenience or personal pleasure is at stake.

I would risk my life to protect my family, and if you doubt it, try to hurt them – I carry more than a big stick.

Many, however, kill their own children before birth.  It seems to me that society values gold more consistently than life itself.

Are you willing to die for what you believe?

Now this, I know, could open up a whole can of worms; but that’s OK. Just stop and think about it for a moment. Do you believe in anything so much that it is worth more than your own life? When your life is on the line, knowing the difference between what you believe and what is only opinion is of key importance. A martyr is one who would rather die for what he believes than deny it.

Is your faith worth dying for?  If not, then how much do you really believe?

How much is YOUR life worth?

Value is determined by what someone is willing to give for it, right? That’s typically the way it goes. So, if nothing on earth is more valuable than your life, does that make your life valuable? Well, maybe to you.

Think about it, to someone else your life might not be as valuable as their own. Would you value the life of a total stranger so much that you would offer your own in exchange? I mean, really? Someone may even be willing to give all of the world’s riches in order to obtain your life, but are you worth it? Who would even have that kind of wealth? That leaves you with nothing more than your sense of value compared to another’s; your worth against theirs.

Value is relative to the thing for which the buyer will exchange.  That’s a disturbing thought, isn’t it?

On the other hand, what if the Creator of the universe offered to die for you?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:8 NIV

That would make your worth INCALCULABLE! The King of Heaven, the Son of God, gave His own life in exchange for yours, even accepting your guilt and failures as His own, and payed the death penalty for sin on your behalf.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2Corinthians 5:21 KJV

That makes you valuable; Jesus unique. How many others have done what He did for you? Most of us would die for our children or spouse.  Some of us would die for a friend or maybe a good person.  But how many of us would give our own life to purchase the life of a stranger, much less a convict, drug dealer, murderer, etc?  Jesus did.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Rom 5:6-8 NIV

That’s the whole reason for Christmas, you know.  Jesus had to come to earth as a baby to grow into the Man that would willingly go to a cruel cross.  The gift of Christmas is the gift of life, purchased with the life of the Giver of Life. How ironic is that? How wonderful?

Let’s Review

  • Jesus Christ suffered the most excruciating death Rome could conceive, crucifixion…for you.
  • The Prince of Peace was shredded by a “cat of nine tails”…for you.
  • The King of Kings wore a crown of 4″ thorns…for you.
  • God became flesh so the world could know Him…including you.

Don’t believe the lies told to you by Satan, the culture, or your depressed emotions. Your life is of immeasurable worth because of the immeasurable price offered for it.

If you are worth that much, and if that kind of price was paid, don’t you think giving your life to Jesus is a fair exchange?

If you would like to know more about Jesus, and how he loves you and died for you, then call this number, 1-800-NEED-HIM. Or, if you would like to talk with me, just send me an email.  Your life is worth it.

 

This article was first posted 6/13/2014 and has been edited

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