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!

Riots and Protests: My Opinion

Riots erupt in several US cities over Minnesota police killing of ...

Be forewarned, this is going to be a vent. 

What I am about to type out is not planned, nor will it be edited (except for obvious spelling and grammar – if I notice it). I’m just going to say what I believe and leave it at that.

What’s going on in Minneapolis is inexcusable. Was the death of George Floyd a tragedy that need not happen? Yes. Is there a culture of racial discrimination, targeting, and violence in the Minneapolis police department? I have no idea.

But let me tell you one thing, among others, that I DO know – and I know this from first-hand experience: Don’t trust the media to form your opinions for you by accepting their narrative as the gospel truth! If nothing else, try not to form an opinion anytime in the first few days after a news story. If you do, odds are you will find yourself walking back much of what you say.

Let’s be honest, folks. Does the news media really want peace in the streets? Do they really desire everyone to “just get along.” Umm, no. Heck, when ol’ Rodney King said those very words decades ago – “Can’t we all just get along?”(or however he actually said it) – he was mocked.

So, when the media curiously shows us 6 minutes of a black man being choked out by a white cop, while other videos exist over the last several years of other instances involving white victims, videos that have never been plastered over every media platform, why do we fall in line with the predictable outrage?

Fact #1: Face it people, you’re being used. 

Now, again, should something be done about policemen and the use of excessive force? Yes! Absolutely!

But here’s something most people these days won’t do anything about: The way they conduct themselves and taking responsibility for their own actions.

Fact #2: When you act the fool, expect trouble from the law.

Fact #3: Police officers are people who want to get home alive to their families far more than they want to listen to your complaints of abuse when YOU are the one who either threw the first punch or resisted a simple command.

In the case of George Floyd, has anyone stopped to ask whether or not he would have been detained on the ground had he not been under the influence of something and had he not resisted? Notice how these things are linked?

But what do we have going on now? Cities burning. Literally, police stations are burning. Places of business that have nothing to do with what happened are being looted and destroyed. And this is supposed to help matters?

Oh, yeah, so now investigations into the Minneapolis government and the way they treat minorities. And, you could add that this would not have happened had people not protested… or, should we say, rioted and vented their frustration while taking advantage of the situation to fulfill their own lusts by stealing and breaking things?

Fact #4: Most rioters have no idea why they are rioting; they are more concerned about missing out on a “five-finger discount.”

Last night I went live on my personal Facebook page. I was on there for an hour discussing the whole idea of rioting. Specifically, was it biblical, was it Christian, for people to go around doing what they were/are doing?

My answer, plain and simple: NO.

Fact #5: Destructive protests and riots are not biblical; rather, they are antithetical to the cause of Christ and His commands.

“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21 

You cannot parse the above scripture enough . . . you can’t rationalize it away . . . there is nothing in the way riots are conducted that can be condoned by the above verses.

Fact #6: Rioters are being overcome by evil in their loose attempts at bringing about good.

In other words, if they are not overcoming the evil of racism and bigotry with good, then their intentions, however noble, are being overcome by the very evil for which they riot, therefore they only perpetuate the darkness in which they try to shine light.

Those are my thoughts and my opinions.

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Filed under America, Christian Maturity, community, current events

When you hear the sound of the trumpet… (10 Years Later)

The following was written 10 years ago following a public gathering at which I spoke.

I look back on this with sadness because of all that transpired after the event. The organizer, Shelton Brown (last I heard) became an atheist. Public prayer at football games (and all other school events) was banned. All the prayer gathering did was make everybody look bold for a few moments, but then they went on their way.

Nothing changed because nobody would be a Daniel and pray anyway.

Now, here we are in a day when the government, well-meaning or not, is wielding great power over Christians (and religious people in general) in the name of our best interests, therefore depriving us of the ability to exercise our rights.

It doesn’t matter a hill of beans whether or not there is a virus; we must always be wary of elected officials who deny believers the right to pray in public, specifically in gatherings. And, when necessary, we need to do more than complain. Otherwise, we are not worthy to feed to the lions.


October, 2010

Last night I had the honor to participate in an event of community prayer.  I was invited to speak by Shelton Brown, a student at Soddy Daisy High School.  If you don’t know what happened, a whole bunch of people gathered together in the park to celebrate our right and freedom to pray, even though it was recently mandated that prayer be stopped before football games.  This meeting was organized by students who decided enough was enough.

In my closing remarks (I spoke for 7 1/2 minutes) I brought up the story of Nehemiah, specifically a part in chapter 4, verse 20.  Nehemiah, in response to threats from enemies intent on stopping them from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, set people on the wall as lookouts.   Being that the wall was big and spread out, and being that there were few people, Nehemiah came up with a plan.  He said :

The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us.”

To me, and I am just little ol’ me, there should have been a lot more people present last night.   Why?  A trumpet was sounded for the body of Christ to come to the aid of not only Soddy Daisy, but for all of Hamilton County.  An attack on our freedoms, as both Christians and Americans, has come to our soil.  Why is it that our schedules and programs and our own sections of the wall are more important than stopping the enemy somewhere else?

Last night was your typical “Wednesday night prayer meeting” night.  Besides the fact that prayer is rarely the object of attention at most of these meetings, what would have been wrong with jumping in the church bus and heading to where the trumpet was sounding?  Where there may have been 500+ at this event last night, there should have been 1-2000.  Why were they not there?  Because it was more important for local congregations to remain safe and snug in their own little sections of  “the wall.”  Here was a prime example of LEGALISM in action, for many did not want to participate in an event that featured speakers that weren’t of a particular denomination.  Here was a prime example of LAZINESS, for it may have been difficult to get people together to go somewhere on a weeknight, especially if it wasn’t to Ryan’s or the bowling alley.  Here was a prime example of DENIAL, PRIDE, and APATHY, for there were others that did not attend because they either didn’t think there’s a problem; it wasn’t their idea; or they just really didn’t care.  Folks, what has been “typical” needs to be trashed.

This past Sunday I told my congregation that I would be in Soddy Daisy on Wednesday night because a trumpet had been sounded.  I went to stand in the gap with my brothers and sisters that cared enough to make a public stand against the tyranny of a few over the wishes of the people.  In the future, when other trumpets are sounded,  I pray that the churches of our county and our country will rally together in defence of the few walls we have left in this nation that, for now, claims to be “under God.”

May our God truly fight for us, for we don’t seem to want to fight for oursleves.

…Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses. – Nehemiah 4:14

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Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Unity, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Southern Baptist, Uncategorized, World View

Are You a Cracked Vase?

Have you ever had one of those times when you felt the Holy Spirit was at work, using you in a special, sorta like He’s-in-control-not-me kind of way?

Today was one of those days. 

Every day at around 2pm I do a live, short devotional  for our church members. That’s what the following video is, only uploaded to the church YouTube channel.

Have you ever felt that God can no longer use you? Have you ever felt like your best days of ministry are behind you? Are you a cracked vase?

This message is for you! 

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Christianity, Church, ministry, self-worth

No Greater Love

I know I’ve already shared this song. I played it at church, yesterday, and then posted the video on Facebook this morning. However, I thought it would be good to re-post this piece, today, so that new readers might get the whole story.

Unfortunately, I learned just this week that Sgt. Sullivan’s grandmother (Brenda Sullivan, 70) passed away in June of last year, followed by his mother (Debbie Sullivan Beavers, 54) on July 5th.

First Fallen

john-michael-sullivanSeveral years ago, just after the second gulf conflict broke out, the town I was living in lost its first son. On December 30, 2006, Sgt. John Michael Sullivan was killed by a roadside bomb. Only 22, he left behind a wife and baby who was born the day after Sgt. Sullivan died.

I will never forget the visitation at the funeral home. Soldiers stood guard at each end of Sgt. Sullivan’s casket. One soldier was a West Point cadet. Every thirty minutes they would rotate out, similar to the way the guard is changed at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington. The honor and respect was palpable.

“Not Here”

Folks in the southern United States don’t take kindly to disrespect – especially at the funeral of a fallen soldier. Sgt. Sullivan died while taking a friend’s place on patrol, which made him a genuine hero. He was a local boy. So, when it was rumored that protesters from Westboro Baptist Church were going to be protesting, blood began to boil.

patriot guardStanding guard outside the funeral home, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, were motorcyclists (over 200 hundred of them) holding American flags. They lined the street and sidewalks as far as anyone could see. Each one, wearing leather vests,  seemed as tough as the Harleys they rode.

I won’t give names, but I heard a couple of high-ranking officials discussing the protesters. They knew Westboro’s hateful tactics and what typically went on at other funerals. So, in a whisper not meant to be overheard, one official said to another, “If those ———-‘s show up, just turn your back – let the guys outside handle them.”

Westboro never showed up. They must have gotten word.

More than Talk

Some people talk a big talk, but never walk the walk. Some people brag about what they would do in a given situation, such as combat, but never volunteer to prove it. But as Sgt. Sullivan lay there in his casket, no words were needed; his sacrifice proved his courage – and love.

Sgt. SullivanScripture says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Others may say they love their friends, but the silent soldier in front of me didn’t have to say a word.

As I paid my respects, it struck me how this young man had essentially given his life for me, a stranger. Like so many other men and women we remember on Memorial Day, Sgt. Sullivan willingly took another’s place. He did what we could not.

The emotion I felt that day led me to write a song in Sgt. Sullivan’s honor. But it also honors of the One who gave His life so that we could be eternally free.

Here is “No Greater Love” as sung by my daughter, Katie (we just recorded it on the iPhone, so forgive the low quality).

(Note: Unfortunately, when I wrote the song, I didn’t know Sgt. Sullivan was actually 22. However, his mother, after hearing the song, told me it was OK.).

Links

http://www.fallenheroesproject.org/united-states/john-michael-sullivan/
http://freedomremembered.com/index.php/sergeant-john-michael-sullivan/
http://www.stripes.com/news/unit-remembers-dedicated-soldier-who-was-killed-just-before-his-son-s-birth-1.58888

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Filed under America, music

The Price of Freedom

Memorial Day

Today is the day on which we Americans pause to remember and honor those who have fought and died for our country.

Unfortunately, most people use this day to only focus on the celebration aspect of the holiday, not the memorial. But had it not been for those men and women who bled in the trenches and fell from the sky, there might not be a place to hold a barbecue. We celebrate because we are free, but that freedom came with a price.

Visiting Memorials

Four years ago at this time I visited Washington, D.C.. with my family, and one can’t visit D.C. without going to the memorials, especially on Memorial Day.

It had been a long time since the last time I was here, and new monuments to the fallen had been erected. One of them, which is probably the most impressive, is the World War 2 Memorial. I took my time exploring it.

One of the places at the WW2 Memorial is pictured below. Gold stars are affixed to a curved wall above a reflective pool. A plaque beside the reflective pool reads, “The Price of Freedom.”

Each star represents 100 who died in the war to defeat the Axis powers. Did you get that? 1 star = 100 dead. 

image

On this day let us pause and remember the lives sacrificed so that we (and the world) might live in freedom. Remember also that those stars represent mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and scores of children whose loss purchased our gain.

Freedom isn’t free.

 

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Filed under America, Life/Death, Vacation

On Church Gatherings (a copied vent from a daughter who should be writing more often)

Folks, my middle daughter Katie has been sharp as a tack, as of late. At one point I asked something like, “When did you start using your brain?”

Anyway, she just updated her Facebook status with the following opinion piece. I was so impressed, how could I not share it?

When you’re done, show her some love, will you? Enjoy.


I have an opinion with which you might not agree. I have come to discover that I do not hold to the same values and morals of the masses, and that is quite expected as I am a believer in Christ.

My opinion today is thus:

Church gatherings are LESS LIKELY to spread the virus than going to Walmart.

Katie Marie

The people who want to gather in these churches wear masks and spread out while they are there. Families sit together while friends sit several pews away. After each meeting, I know that, in my church at least, most people leave promptly while a group of designated individuals disinfect the pews and all surfaces that may have been touched, including and not limited to the podium.

The people who are at risk stay home. The people who have children usually stay home. But when you go to the grocery store, you will find people who don’t wear masks, or they wear masks with their noses sticking out, therefore projecting to society their ignorance.

Furthermore, you have individuals who wear gloves inappropriately and cross-contaminate everything as they use gloves in the store, touch their phone, put the phone to their face, take the gloves off, touch the INFECTED PHONE again in their car…… all the while feeling as if they have done something well. In actuality, all they have done is further the pollution the world suffers from every day. Where is that glove going? Not in recycling, I’m sure. It’s going to either pollute the ground or it will pollute the ocean (WHICH, FOR YOUR INFORMATION, produces more oxygen than the trees).

So, KAREN, gather. Go to church if you feel like it. Just be smart. Be safe. Think through your actions.

But hope all the while the people who still shop for nonessential items in crowded stores will cease fire on the church’s doors and quench the fires that burn the buildings to the ground because of the so-called “hypocrisy.”

– Katie Marie

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Filed under Church, coronavirus, current events

Meet the Wise Wife

This evening my wife joined me as we discussed Proverbs 30. She was nervous at the beginning. She didn’t trust me.

However, it’s not my job to embarrass people online while talking Bible stuff. Also, I prefer a happy life, ergo, “happy wife.”

But Valerie underestimates herself. She is pretty sharp. Actually, she is a wise woman. She had no reason to be nervous.

If you can get it to play, below is a link to tonight’s Bible study. It’s also a glimpse into our marriage 😉

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Marriage, wisdom

Preaching With Art (paintings, not the guy)

Art . . .

As many of you already know, I’ve really gotten into the whole painting thing. Well, watercolor, not oil paint or anything.

And since I’ve taken up the hobby of watercolor painting, I’ve learned a few lessons that can be applied to the Christian walk. Is it any shock, then, that I preached a sermon on the subject?

But now that I look back, it wasn’t just art that I preached about, the preaching and the video presentation used to share the message were also forms of art. Each one a gift or ability that improves the more you do it, especially with instruction.

The Finished Product

So, below is the video. It is an artistic presentation of art and the art of preaching within the context of a pandemic. If the video won’t play, try going to Bethlehem’s Facebook page @Bethlehembaptistwarthen.

BTW, the singers were thrilled to be able to get together after being away from church so long. And, if you live in our area, we sure could use some more musicians and singers. Just let me know 🙂

And for those of you who can’t seem to watch the Facebook version, here it is uploaded to YouTube.

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Filed under baptist, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Christianity, Church, Preaching

Healing River is Here!

Hey folks, may I encourage you to check out my friend Mitch Teemley and give some serious thought about watching his movie this week?

Mitch is a Christian blogger, but he’s also a movie guy – like as in making them, not just watching (like the rest of us). I’m going to watch it this week with my wife, then I’m going to share my honest thoughts about it.

Let’s all watch it and give God the glory for what he’s doing through our brother in Christ, Mitch!

God bless you, my friend! Maybe He will even throw in an Oscar 🙂

Mitch Teemley

A Filmmaker’s Journal

Healing River PosterHealing River, a feature film I wrote and directed (originally titled Over-the-Rhine) has just premiered on Amazon Prime–and right on time for your weekend Movie Night! (Even if you’re not a Prime member you can watch it by clicking on the link below.) Winner of over twenty film festival awards, nominations and selections, Healing River is a powerful inspirational story about “forgiving the unforgivable.” You can watch the trailer now, and then watch (or order a copy of) the movie by clicking here.

Watch the Trailer!

Two Ways You Can Help Promote Healing River:

  1. Watch it, and then take a moment to review it on Amazon* (this will greatly increase its priority order and visibility there).

  2. Go to the Healing River FacebookPage and click to Share the Trailer on your Facebook page.

I and Healing River’s other creators believe in what it…

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The World Was Better When There Were Saturday-Morning Cartoons

It is Saturday morning, and believe it or not, I don’t even know what time it is. I know it is later than 6 a.m. because there is sunshine outside, our two little dogs have already made their pleas to go potty.

But had I been, let’s say, 10 years old (that was back in the 70’s), I could at least tell you what hour of the morning it was, and that would have been based on what cartoon was showing on one of only three – yes three – television channels.

For several years when I was young, my family did not own a television; it was considered too worldly. Unfortunately, what might have been a “tool of Satan” back then has now become nothing less than a porthole-window view of the sea of filth into which the ship of our culture is sinking. Just pick your channel (or porthole) – there are hundreds of them.

But back in the 70’s there were at least some good cartoons on the air, so my parents didn’t mind me staying over at my grandparents’ house on Friday night… so that I could wake up to Rocky and Bullwinkle the next morning… at 6 a.m.

Back in those days, there was no Cartoon Network or Adult Swim. Cartoons were only shown early on Saturday mornings, that was it. And if a kid didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn, he’d miss the best shows. The later the morning got, the more cheesy (even for that time) the cartoons became. If he woke up too late, the only thing he’d get to see would be local programming (gag!).

I miss the days of pre-Scrappy Scoobydoo; the predictable and comforting theme music drawing me into another rerun of Bugs Bunny; and the pre-scandalized Bill Cosby teaching me about junkyard life through the voice of Fat Albert. I miss thinking the dinosaurs actually looked real on the Land of the Lost, and I really miss learning about the Constitution and grammar from School House Rock – I can still remember the song that taught the Preamble… Can you sing it with me?

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, secure domestic tranquility-ee-ee-eeee, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare [and then], secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”

Kids used to wake up early on Saturday mornings, grab a bowl of sugary cereal, then sit down in front of a console television for a few hours in order to be entertained, even educated! Then, awake and on a slight sugar high, they would walk away from boring TV to run outside where they would ride bikes, build forts, throw lawn darts, shoot BB guns, or anything else to stay out of the house.

Saturday morning used to be a highly-anticipated treat, one from which you did NOT want to get grounded. Now it’s just another day – where the hours bleed into another…and kids sleep through it.

Change happens, but it’s not always for the better.

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Filed under America, Culture Wars, General Observations, Life Lessons