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!

Revival In Soddy-Daisy

Ever been to an old-fashioned tent revival? Well, here’s your chance!

I mean, here’s your chance to at least watch one night’s meeting from one.

The video link below was originally uploaded from my phone on Facebook live. It was filmed during the evening service on June 5, 2019. The event was a city-wide community revival, each night featuring 2 local pastors.

My daughter and I take the stage in the second half, after which I preach. For you preachers out there, it was a perfect homiletical lesson in the importance of learning how to preach extemporaneously (without notes).

I pray it’s a blessing.

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9 Comments

Filed under Christian Unity, community, Preaching

June 6th… Would We Do It Again?

d day

Seventy-five years have passed since the pride of the Allies, 156,000 strong, stepped out of landing craft and jumped out of airplanes into the mouth of a monster ready to eat them alive.

Seventy-five years have passed since young men from America, England, and Canada (and we must not forget Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland) landed on beaches called Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Seventy-five years ago, long before the fancy rock-climbing walls which are so popular in today’s health clubs and gyms,  the 2nd Ranger battalion “led the way” up the 100 ft. cliffs of Pointe du Hoc.

Seventy-five years ago, on the 6th of June, 2,499 American and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413, gave their lives for the sake of freedom.

Seventy-five years ago men were stepping on the backs of their comrades as they sloshed through red water, breathed in the mist of war, and wondered if they would live to see the ground only yards (meters) in front of them.

On June 6, 1944, seventy-five years ago, it was said of those who landed:

They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, June 6, 1944

It is the 6th of June, 2019, but are we still a people with the stomach to liberate? If we were the ones living seventy-five years ago, where would we be today?

Ask those who take a knee, or hide in a locker room when the anthem is played.

Ask those who protest the same American flag that their African-American ancestors fought and died for – the same ancestors who fought in segregated units, but were still ferociously proud to be Americans. What did the pilots of the Red Tail Squadron do when the flag was raised and the anthem was played?

For that matter, what did Tuskegee Airmen Dr. Harold Brown, a pilot with the renowned 332nd Fighter Group in World War II (an all-black squadron) say when asked the following question during a recorded conference call: “Why [when the slavery trappings, the discrimination was all there] would you raise your right hand and swear to defend this country?”

“Oh, that’s very, very simple, in my opinion. I was a citizen of the United States of America! This was my country, too! Even though it had some shortcomings, it was still the greatest country in the world. There is no other country I would ever trade for it.” (Feb. 28, 2018)

Ask those who are burning the American flag because “America was never great.”

Ask the socialists in Congress, or the mobs who attack anyone who wears a red hat.

Ask the millions as they enjoy their legalized weed.

Ask the rainbow-painted parade attendees as they throw glitter at each other.

Ask the protesters who don’t even know why they protest.

image

The reflection pool at the WW2 Memorial in Washington, D.C. Each gold star represents 100 Americans who died or remain missing during the war.

It cost a lot to buy seventy-five years of freedom. Would we do it again?

They would have to be willing to fight to defend something, and too many no longer believe what was purchased with the blood of others is worth fighting for. We’re too busy fighting each other.

Would we be willing to do it again?

I seriously doubt it. God help us.

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Filed under America, Countries, Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, World View

So, you want to be a pastor?

With so much being posted on social media these days, even those in ministry have available to them a plethora of helps, lists, and general advice from experienced clergy folk.

Much of what is shared on Facebook and Twitter are written by the “pro’s” in ministry research like Thom S. Rainer, or long-time veterans of ministry like Joe McKeever. What rarely gets shared are articles and posts written by ordinary guys like me – probably because we aren’t professional authors or researchers.

Well, I want to share some helpful hints from an old-school, bi-vocational, small-church, in-the-trenches pastor with no access to research teams, only personal experience, and some common sense (but Logos software doesn’t hurt).

Hopefully, you will find the following 10 points helpful.

10 Words of Wisdom for Those Entering the Pastorate

  1. Get a biblical education. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if the school is only a rag-tag, non-accredited hole in the ground, get an education from someplace that will teach you how to study the Bible by making you study the Bible. Those who call a seminary a “cemetery” are nothing more than illiterate bigots who should be avoided – unless you want to show them how to get saved.
  2. Listen to your wife. I know, sometimes wives have actually been the reason men have left the ministry. However, a good, godly wife will offer you insight that no one else can. She really does have an intuition that sees what our eyes can’t. She is also going to be the only one in the church you can trust 100%
  3. Don’t think every sermon needs to be alliterated. Guys, not every sermon is best delivered with four points, all alliterated with a certain letter or phonetic sound. Sometimes the best way to outline your sermon is just go with the way the Scripture leads.
  4. Be a sheepdog. Do whatever it takes to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to protect not only those in your church but your own family. Be prepared to fight – literally – for those you love. Always be on the lookout for wolves in sheep’s clothing, especially sexual predators. Believe me, I wish I’d prepared better.
  5. Draw your lines in the sand early on – the earlier the better. Don’t wait for church trouble to draw your lines in the sand. Don’t wait until you are in a struggle with disagreeing leadership before you say, “This is the way it’s going to be.” Start early by saying that…be the thermostat, not the thermometer.
  6. Learn to preach without notes. There’s going to come a time when you need to preach and you won’t have time to prepare an outline. There is going to come a time when you are asked to preach a funeral or a revival service, and all you will have is your Bible. Read it…learn it…know it…and be able to preach from it without a man-made crutch.
  7. Check your pride. The day you go up to the pulpit all cocky, that’s the day you will be an utter failure. Ascend to the “sacred desk” with your knees shaking under the weight of the seriousness of what you’re doing and you will come down humble, but confident God’s Word will not return void. As long as you are humble and dependent on God, that’s when even the most basic of sermons can shake the foundations of hell itself.
  8. Don’t grow too dependent on technology. Men, there may come a day when we don’t have the internet, iPads, microphones, and projection screens. At any moment you could lose one or all of those things, so learn to prepare and to preach like the great warriors of the past – because history has a tendency to repeat itself.
  9. Love your family more than your ministry. You’ve probably heard it said before, but it’s true; your family is your first and most important ministry, not the congregation you serve. Don’t lose your wife or kids for the sake of any church.
  10. Never stop studying and learning. Even if you go to Bible school and seminary, never think you’ve learned enough. Always be learning, reading, researching, and studying. If George Washington Carver could squeeze all he did out of the lowly peanut (to the glory of God), imagine how much you will be able to find if you keep digging deeper into the Holy Writ!

So, there you have it. Do you have some words of wisdom you’d like to share? Why not write them in the comment section below? I’m sure we all could benefit from our collective experiences.

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Filed under ministry, Preaching

Let’s Skip the Platt-itudes

The Prayer

By now you’ve probably seen where President Trump made an unannounced visit to McLean Bible Church where the pastor, Dr. David Platt, prayed for him.

You can read for yourself how that Platt and his church were only notified moments before the President was to arrive, so it wasn’t a planned event in order to garner attention. I don’t believe that it was even something that Trump planned on becoming so viral, especially since he showed up with a totally different hair style.

But the prayer, oh my goodness, was a powerful and heartfelt, biblically-sound intercession on behalf of the most powerful leader in the free world. Platt did exactly what any pastor should have done – any Christian, for that matter – with grace and respect.

Click here to watch the prayer and read Dr. Platt’s response to the protesters in his congregation. https://www.mcleanbible.org/prayer-president

The Protests

But not minutes after David Platt prayed, members of his own church – snowflakes resting gently in the auditorium – began to express their disapproval and hurt that their beloved and respected pastor would dare go to God on behalf of (ugh!) The President of the United States.

Yes, even after a God-honoring prayer, along with a calm and clear explanation of what was going on, Platt was hit with protests over what he did. How in the name of all that’s holy is that even possible? . . . If, that is, the members who complained were biblically literate at ALL??

I exhort [that means it’s highly encouraged] therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and [for] all that are in authority [that would include a president]; [Why?] that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:1-4

What is there in the above passage that allows for a person NOT to pray for the President? To NOT do so would be to disobey a clear imperative!

The “Apology”

Look, I’ve never been the biggest fan of David Platt, but I am not a hater, either. I greatly respect the man and what he’s accomplished for the Lord and His Kingdom. Therefore, I want to tread very carefully as I write what I’m feeling.

If we take a look at the letter Platt sent out to his congregation at McLean Bible Church, it was a gracious, mature, loving attempt to calm any conflict and keep unity within a politically diverse environment. Believe me, I get it.

However, it’s that one itty-bitty line from his explanation (and not necessarily an apology) that rubs many of us the wrong way…

“I wanted to share all of this with you in part because I know that some within our church, for a variety of valid reasons, are hurt that I made this decision.”

Based on what I see clearly defined in Scripture, what on earth could be a “valid reason” for being hurt?

IF it had been me – and it wasn’t – I’d probably been shaking in my shoes being on stage with the President. That’s the first thing. But secondly, IF that had been me, and if I’d had the opportunity to pray for Trump, and if I’d gotten complaints for doing so, I’d likely given my own, genuine apology – yes, an apology – to the congregation, and it would have gone something like this…

“Dear brothers and sisters, some of you have expressed hurt that I prayed for the President of the United States of America this morning. Because of your hatred of the man, you could not reconcile your political ideology with the clear commands of God outlined in His divinely-inspired Word. It was either that, or you simply did not understand that 1 Timothy 2:1-4 applied to anyone but Nero, the man who actually used to burn people like us in order to light the streets of Rome. Therefore, I want to apologize to you for evidently not teaching you the whole counsel of God and leaving you with a deficient understanding of Scripture which has left you with hurt feelings at this time.”

Of course, this is probably why I don’t pastor a church like Platt’s. I’m not much for platitudes these days.

 

22 Comments

Filed under America, politics, Prayer

10 Things Christian Bloggers Wished the Rest of the Universe Could Understand

The following was inspired by Dr. Dennis Culbreth and Alan Rogers, men who are obsessed with posting enumerated lists on Facebook.

The Audience

If you are reading this – evidently you are – it is probably because you are on some form of social media, like Facebook or Twitter. it is also possible you received an email notification as a subscriber, or you were forwarded a message from a friend who said, “You’ve GOT to read this!”

On the other hand, you may be a blogger who was surfing recent posts from followed sites or “suggestions”form WordPress (or some other inferior blogging platform). Those of you in this group – the bloggers – will understand what I’m about to write; the rest need help.

The following list will be less of a shocker than an affirmation of what Christian (and some pagan) bloggers already believe about themselves or others within their “community.” Therefore, the following list is meant more for the casual Facebook reader, the neglected child with a school project due, and the wife or husband whose eyes roll more often than a bowling ball.

10 Things Christian Bloggers Wished the Rest of the Universe Could Understand

1. The ability to write is a gift from God; the ability to write well takes work. Every post, if it’s worth posting, should be well-written. A poorly-written post is a poor reflection on the message we have to share. Therefore, don’t get upset if we spend 3 hours crafting a 500-word work of art.

2. Blogging is a form of worship. I know, it may sound crazy, but blogging can be a very legitimate means of giving praise and honor to God. Christian bloggers regularly speak of the goodness of God, praise Him in the midst of struggles, and challenge others to trust Jesus. Christian bloggers LOVE to praise God through computer screens all over the world!

3.  Christian bloggers are internet missionaries! You don’t have to travel the world to teach people with the Good News; you can do it from your kitchen! That’s right with a simple blog piece one person can instantly share relevant Truth in over 100 countries! Last time I counted, I’ve had readers in 126.

4.  Everything is fodder for a blog post. That’s right, everything from one’s recent trip to the mall to one’s battle with cancer – it’s all worth writing about, especially to the one who sees God’s hand working everywhere.

5.  Household chores will take care of themselves. Families of bloggers are usually the most stressed of housekeepers, but this need not be. Worse come to worse, dirty dishes, un-walked pets, and un-made meals can be used as writing topics (see point 4).

6.  Blogging is reporting. All bloggers wish the world would give us more respect. I mean, seriously, we deserve Press credentials! If you write a well-written blog you should be allowed into all political events, meetings, and all concerts for free. As for me, I think every blogger is a potential food and restaurant critic – we should eat for free.

7.  Christian bloggers don’t have selective hearing; we have selected focus. When I’m at the computer, don’t assume I hear anything you say. When I’m writing I’m in the “zone,” so voices outside the “zone” are muted. If you want my attention, offer food or show legitimate interest in what I’m writing.  Otherwise, don’t assume I heard you tell me to pay that bill.

8.  Donations are always welcome. Just because we Christian bloggers love doing what we do, that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t accept money. Money buys better computers, custom themes, and comfortable desk chairs.

9.  The Christian blogging “community” is a real thing with real people. Honestly, some of my best friends are bloggers I’ve met online. Several of us have met in person, prayed with each other, and shared in genuine Christian fellowship and worship. Bloggers love bloggers 🙂

10.  Christian bloggers come in all virtual shapes and sizes. Not every Christian is alike, and neither are our blogs. We are all unique and bring our own perspectives to the discussion of life. Don’t read just one.

So, what are your thoughts? Any points you’d like to share with the universe?

Kicked out of the house and in need of wifi, the blogger will do anything to maintain his habit of changing the world one post at a time.

Kicked out of the house and in need of wifi, the Christian blogger will do anything to maintain his habit: changing the world one post at a time.

 

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Filed under blogging, Christian Unity, Christianity, Humor

Let’s Get Controversial…Where Do the Babies Go?

Hanging Out

Right now I am sitting in the office of the Ringgold Wedding Chapel, just hanging out, so to speak.

I’m here, today, to officiate 3 weddings, but in one wedding that is about to take place the family brought their own minister.

I don’t feel like going and watching a wedding just for the fun of it, and I don’t want to sneak over and steal any food from the reception hall while the bride and groom are otherwise distracted. So, like I said, I’m just hanging out for a little while.

What a perfect time to stir up a theological stink, right?

Babies

We should be thanking God for the surging tide of pro-life sentiment sweeping much of our nation right now! I firmly believe that the killing of infants in the womb is murder, for I believe that each and every fetus is an actual human being, regardless whether or not they vote for Republicans or Democrats.

But all this talk about abortion, the right to life, and millions of babies has brought back to mind a conversation I read years ago on a Calvinistic website (Monergism.com). It was just one of several “conversations” that eventually pushed me from Calvinism and helped define my theological stance as that of “provisionist”

The conversation was between two pastors and the subject was the funeral for an infant.

The first pastor discussed how challenging it had been to preach the funeral for a child, just a baby of less than a year old. He went on to say that the only thing he could do to help the grieving parents cope with the loss was to reassure them that one day, some day, they would be reunited with their child in heaven (since both parents were believers).

The second pastor, however, brutally chastised the first pastor for giving the parents of the dead child a false hope! Yes, he rebuked the first pastor for telling the parents they would one day see their child again because – now get this – he had no way of knowing if the deceased baby was “one of the elect.”

The second pastor said a better thing to have told the parents would have been the truth…that if the baby had been one of the “elect” they would see him again, but there’s no way to know till we get to heaven.

I still remember the burning indignation that welled up within me as I read that. With my face flush, I hammered out on the keyboard something akin to the following: “If I had been one of those parents, and you had told me that about my child, I would have given you the opportunity to go see where my baby went.”

Where Do They Go?

But, let’s be honest, what else is the reasonable conclusion to the Calvinist position on this subject? Are all babies who die too early to have accepted Christ (including those murdered in the womb) members of the “elect,” or is there the possibility that some were predestined to salvation and others were predestined to damnation? Even though some of you Calvinist friends of mine might not believe in “double predestination,” what is your answer to this?

Are we going to accept the proposition that God, the one who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” is the same God who would, for His own pleasure, doom any number of consciousless infants to an eternity in hell? Is that EVEN a possibility within your theological systematic?

You may use the comment section to calmly and kindly discuss. 

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Filed under Abortion

Determined to Reblog a Blessing

This morning, before I got out of bed, I read a post from Jill McIlreavy at Mustard Seed Blog.

The first thing I thought after reading her inspirational post was, “That’ll preach!” That, of course, is a common saying from around these parts (the South), but some of you might have never heard it. Jill hadn’t.

What it means is that a good preacher could take that there post and walk up to a pulpit and let the devil have it! At least that’s one way to describe it 😉

Regardless, I tried to “reblog” this post, but dagnabbit!, WordPress just won’t have it! So, I’m just going to bypass the normal “reblog” route and post a link below.

Believe me, it’s worth the effort. If you are now or have ever gone through a dark time in life, this piece from Jill McIlreavy will genuinely encourage you.

God bless,
Anthony

Just click on the picture or the link in the text.

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Filed under blogging, Struggles and Trials