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!

Being Judgmental of Angels

So often, when people do crazy stuff and have their actions questioned by a believer in Christ, they respond with the creme de la creme of rebuttals: “Christians aren’t supposed to judge.”

It matters not they usually have no earthly idea what they are talking about, or where they even get that phrase; they simply respond with a pious sneer and proudly shut down any criticism from those concerned enough to say anything.

Sadly, many Christians don’t even understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Therefore, as so often is the case, unbelievers, who only know enough about Jesus to use Him as an excuse, intimidate Christians into silence.

But what is really sad is when Christians REALLY do what we’re accused of (make assumptions from which we cast judgment).

It happens all the time… like when we see someone on the side of the road with a sign that says, “Will work for food,” or, when you are sitting in your car and a woman walks up and taps on the window, only to ask if you have some spare change.

Who are we to say that they are lying?  Is it possible they really do need money for a fan belt, a gallon of milk, or a bus ticket home?  Is it just possible the scruffy-looking, unkempt fellow or madam you’re looking at is, in actuality, a heavenly messenger?  An angel?

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Hbr 13:2 KJV

During this time of world chaos and financial uncertainty, it is far more likely that the “bum” on the side of the road is actually homeless or out of work.  Who knows for what reason he/she is there?  Are we to pass judgment upon them?

Maybe we should just love them and do what we can to help when we are confronted – or before.  In one of the same chapters that talk about not judging another unjustly are found the following verses:

Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do for you. – Luke 6:30-31 NLT

By not giving that dollar or two to the one who asks, are we not, in actuality, disobeying a direct command of Jesus?

Really, by not giving, are we not committing two sins? One would be that we did not give when asked; the other that we judged them unworthy.  It would seem to me that it would be the better part of wisdom, not to mention a display of our faith in action, to entertain the “stranger.”

Who knows, he may actually be taking notes for his Boss in heaven.

God will be the Judge. Just be faithful.

 

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2 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Do not judge, General Observations, legalism, Uncategorized

The Better Question

When looking for answers to our problems, many times we ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”

A better question might be, “What did Jesus do?”

“But we preach Christ crucified…” – 1 Corinthians 1:23

15 Comments

Filed under Christianity, current events, Theology

A Helpful Heave for Hump Day

Hump hill

It is Hump Day (i.e., Wednesday)!

So, besides using the Paint program on my computer to draw an amateurish illustrative, I have creatively compiled a collection of encouraging encouragers which may help heave your heavy heart over Hump Hill.

10 Reasons to be Glad It’s Wednesday

  1. At least it’s not Tuesday.
  2. Going uphill works muscles you use all the time; going downhill works the other ones.
  3. Oh, Monday is now two days in the past!
  4. Wednesday night is prayer night at many churches. That means tonight you can finally vent and feel spiritual at the same time.
  5. If you’re reading this that means your power hasn’t been shut off or your fortunate enough to have a charge on your phone. Yay for you!
  6. People don’t like you? That’s OK! The people still liked Jesus on Wednesday and look what happened to Him by the time Friday rolled around. It’s Wednesday, but it could be worse.
  7. If you like Wednesdays, it’s only 7 days (or 6, depending on your time zone) till the next one! Yippee!
  8. Unless you’re using it as a metaphor for impending doom, or unless your brakes have failed, you just fixed your hair, or there’s a swarm of bees ahead… going down hill can be fun!
  9. It’s easier to coast on a bicycle and yell “Look Ma! No hands!” when you’re going down a hill, as opposed to peddling up it. Take advantage of the week winding down to lift your hands in praise!
  10. Sunday is that much closer! Hallelujah!

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Filed under current events, Easter, General Observations, Humor

Thoughts On My Birthday

I did the icing. Not bad!

Today is my birthday, so I thought I would share some quick observations before all the celebrations begin.

Actually, there isn’t anything planned, just a pastor friend coming over for coffee and AT&T coming by to install internet service in our church (THAT’S worth celebrating).

Oops! Just got a text… my friend is not feeling well this morning, so he won’t be here. I guess that means I get all the coffee to myself.

First thought. I woke up this morning realizing what today was, and the first thought that came to my mind was how unfair it is that mothers don’t get any praise. I mean, if it wasn’t for mothers, we wouldn’t be here to celebrate, right? So, Happy Giving Birth To Your Son Day, Mom!

Second thought. If you don’t express what you want for your birthday, as in gifts, don’t complain if you get underwear. Granted, getting underwear as a gift from anyone other than my wife – like my daughter’s boyfriend – is always a surprise, but maybe I should have thought of something simple, like a pound of coffee.

Third (and final) thought. It might sound a little morbid, but even before I got out of bed this morning, and after the thought about mothers, a verse from Ecclesiastes came to mind.

A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. – Ecclesiastes 7:1 

I wonder if Solomon was a Debbie Downer at parties?

This Thursday I am going to be attending a service celebrating the life of a great man of God and former pastor of mine, Bill Stafford. You may know him as the old preacher who gave Kirk Cameron advice in the movie Fireproof.  As funerals go, this is going to be a humdinger! One like I hope my funeral will be one day.

Solomon understood that what is more important, in the long run, is how you are remembered – what you’re remembered for – not simply the fact that you were born. Sure, it’s not that I want my death to be celebrated with cake and ice cream, but I would hope that when I do go to receive my final reward there are people down here celebrating a life well-lived.

We can’t help being born, but we do have a say in what we are remembered for. May this day be a reminder for me to keep preparing for that party still to come.

17 Comments

Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons

10 Tips for Having a GREAT Monday!

Good Morning!

This morning I was blessed to wake up, smell the cooler fresh air outside, get a cup of coffee, pet George, and read Proverbs 4. On top of that, I didn’t have to drive a school bus – or punch the clock for any reason – it’s technically my day off.

But not everyone knows how to have a great Monday, so I’ve decided to lend y’all some advice.

10 Tips for Having a GREAT Monday!

  1. Wake up. Yeah, I know this might sound like a given, but some people have the habit of sleeping through the whole day just to avoid it. Don’t do it! Wake up! Seize it, brutha!
  2. Don’t check the news, Facebook, or Twitter till at least lunchtime. Listen, I am an information junkie, even a smartphone addict, so I understand the hankering to tap those colorful little icons – just don’t do it today (Monday). If war has broken out, you will find out through other means; you don’t need to click on Fox or CNN or Yahoo News. If you got comments and likes in the middle of the night, don’t worry – Facebook will keep them on ice for you. The only thing you need to check before 7 a.m. is blog states and anything WordPress-related.
  3. Pray before you pee. I’m serious about this, folks. If you get out of bed and go to your earthly throne room first, it won’t be long before you forget about checking in with the Heavenly Throne room. Even if you have to tell Jesus: “Lord, I want to thank you for another day to serve you and bring you glory, but I will talk with you about some other stuff just after I get through in the bathroom,” do that. I’d rather you acknowledge your creator first than forget to thank the One who gave you Monday.
  4. Eat whatever you want for breakfast. I mean, hey, it’s Monday…just eat something and get on with it. You already have enough stuff on you plate to make you dread Monday, so why not make Monday-morning breakfast something to which you look forward? Pancakes, Fruity Pebbles, donuts, cake, pie, pizza, chocolate gravy and biscuits, cookies, waffles, and pure sugar are all legitimate options. Just make sure you include coffee.
  5. Read your Bible. Look, even if you don’t want to sit down with your leather-bound KJV or your plastic-covered NIV, find some way to consume the Bread of Life before your day gets going – you’re already going to be eating enough junk.
  6. Wake up to a catchy song for your alarm. If you have a smart phone that wakes you up, and if you can set your alarm to be a song, download Gloria Estefan’s “Conga” and shake your body out of the bed. It works! seriously!
  7. Tell your spouse you love her/him before you leave the house. Believe me, it makes for a better Monday… or Tuesday… or Wednesday… etc.
  8. Plan a God hunt. What is a God hunt, you ask? Determine that even though Monday’s can be depressing, determine to look for God working in some way. Make a game of it! See if you can beat last Monday’s record.
  9. Don’t forget to brush your teeth. Bad breath will guarantee a bad day. Wishing you’d remembered to brush your teeth will aggravate you all day. So, don’t forget.
  10. Don’t dress in the dark. Yes, if you want to have a GREAT Monday, make sure your clothes match before you head out for the day. Either that, or ask your spouse how you look.

BONUS: Don’t let your wife ask you how she looks; there is no way to have a good day once that happens.

There you have it! Hope these tips help!

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Filed under General Observations, wisdom

Get Jesus!

Each Wednesday night at our church I conduct what we call “Proverbs, Prayer, and Praise.” It is a unique study through Proverbs, one chapter a week.

One of the things I encourage our congregation to do is take the places where Wisdom is personified and replace the word and associated pronouns with the name of Jesus (See Col. 2:1-3 and 1 Cor. 1: 24 & 30).

This week we are working through chapter 4, so I thought I would share this example with you. When you remember that Jesus said all Scripture spoke of Him, it’s not a stretch, but a blessing!

Get JESUS! Get understanding [OF HIM]! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake HIM, and HE will preserve you; Love HIM, and HE will keep you. JESUS [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get JESUS. And in all your getting, get understanding [OF HIM]. Exalt HIM, and HE will promote you; HE will bring you honor, when you embrace HIM. HE will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory HE will deliver to you.” – Proverbs 4:5-9 NKJV [edited]

If you would like additional information on this study, feel free to contact me.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Church

What Is a “Blessing”?

Earlier this week I posted a question on Facebook:

If I could offer you your choice – if you’d just come to church just once – of either $1,000 or a blessing from God, would you come?

I got a few responses, but one friend, Michael Wheeler, decided to probe a little, asking if I could define what a “blessing” actually is.

The answer seems obvious, but how do you define “blessing”? That word is thrown around with no real meaning. – Michael Wheeler

I gave a typical tongue-in-cheek response:

True. I know a thousand dollars would surely BE a blessing right now 

Michael followed that response with how that he had asked “countless pastors and laypersons who overuse that word to define it, but have never gotten a satisfactory answer.” He then went on to say that the use of the word “sounds good,” but carries with it “no real meaning.”  “Other than salvation,” he proposed, “we have no other ‘blessings’ or promised things over what unbelievers experience.

Well, in fun I replied to Michael Wheeler’s question with:

Do you even own a box of crayons?

As expected (because Michael is usually a very serious kind of guy), he answered with:

Nope… Is that the extent of your definition of “blessing”?

That is when – after a brief distraction – I wrote the following:

No, not hardly. I got distracted by other things. I only asked that because sometimes I feel like you see things only in black and white – not as in truth claims, but in what you see. For instance, I never read fiction, but then I read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”…it added color to the pallet of my spiritual imagination. Lewis didn’t teach me any new truth, but he added shades of color to what I could already see.

Much of what I would call “blessings” are those moments when the Spirit opens the eyes of my understanding and allows me to see the beauty of a Truth in a new shade. In some ways, it’s like God takes me into His art gallery and amazes me with a new painting of the same scene. I’m speaking in terms of spiritual imagination, of course… the box of crayons.

We are blessed every day by the goodness of God. That goes for everyone who enjoys the providential care of the Creator (it rains on the just and the unjust). But we are also blessed in that we have a Father who not only gave us salvation but continues to give us bread instead of stones. He is the one who will one day bring us close to Himself and share with us that little white stone with a name on it only the two of us will know – that’s true intimacy. So, many blessings are no less than those moments when we enter into worship – corporately or privately – and sense the real presence of the Holy Spirit reassuring us of the truth that He will never leave us or forsake us, that His grace is sufficient for every need. I could go on and on.

If I had the time to sit down do a more meticulous study of the definition of “blessing,” I’m sure you’d find the result more satisfying to your particular taste. However, what I’ve just described for you is the practical and real-world look at how I see it. Simply put, many times getting a “blessing” may be nothing more than being brought the realization of how good, merciful, and gracious our Father is. If He throws in a thousand dollars, well, that’s a bonus.

Excellent answer,” wrote Mr. Wheeler.

That’s why I thought it would be worth sharing with you!

What do you think? How would you define a “blessing”? 

16 Comments

Filed under Church, Love of God, salvation