Category Archives: America

Just Being Honest On Facebook (and now WordPress)

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I had some things to say live on Facebook.

But I do look funny without my glasses.

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Filed under America, Christian Living, Christian Unity, current events, General Observations

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Church History and #50

The History Room

Does your young, newborn of a 20th century church have a history room? Probably not.

The last church I pastored was considered “historic,” but is was only founded in 1946, not even the 1800’s. It didn’t have a “history” room, only a file cabinet.

But this church (Bethlehem Baptist) was founded in 1791! Therefore, it has a “history room” where old church records are stored. And let me tell you, reading the minutes from a church business meeting held 230 years ago is a trip!

How Times Change!

One of the things that rarely gets discussed in modern churches is church discipline. I mean, it’s very rare that a church member gets called to the carpet for sinful behavior these days, much less barred from fellowship or excommunicated. Yet, spend some time in the history room here at BBC and you will find out that things were a LOT different 200 years ago.

I hereby submit, for your edification and entertainment, selected readings from the minutes of Bethlehem Baptist Church.

  • Jan. 1, 1791:  “Excommunicated Robert.” That’s it. Nothing else was recorded!
  • May 20, 1791:  “Restored James Spratley to full fellowship.” Well, at least something positive happened.
  • June 6, 1792:  “Church met in conference . . . Stephen Renfroe is brought on trial & gains fellowship. ‘The church still seems divided concerning a pastor & 12 of the members rise & declare themselves grieved with the calling of Benjamin Thompson as pastor. Confusion & death is like to take place.‘” Ummm, that doesn’t sound good!
  • Sept. 28, 1792: “Ch. met in conf. Nothing of note came before us. Love seems to abound.Let’s hope so!
  • April 27, 1793: “[Bethlehem Baptist Church] met in conference. No business presented. Br. Baker, his wife, & negro join us by letter. (Br. Baker later becomes Pastor) Nothing unfinished. Love abounds.” It’s about time, don’t you think?
  • March 14, 1794: “David Wilborn is censured by Sister Taylor for injustice in measuring corn.” Where did the love go?
  • June 14, 1804: “Took under consideration the conduct of James Blunt & it being made plain… Alexander Smith confessed to drinking too much. Sister Little complained that Br. James Taylor had run off a part of her land. Neal, Walker, & Edmund May (Mayo?) to reconcile matter.”
  • March 18, 1815: (One month after the War of 1812) “Friday before the 3rd Sunday in April set apart as a day of thanksgiving to God for the aversion of impending danger & the return of his mercy towards us as a nation in delivering us from Wars & bloodshed & restoring peace in our country.”
  • Jan. 15, 1820: “Br. Manning & Barber to cite Jeff & wife (colored) to attend next conference to answer for some charges alleged against him viz: dishonesty & preaching without leave of the Church. Sister Molly a woman of color, dismissed by letter. She formerly belonged to David McCard.” Seems a “negro” had been preaching without permission. He justified himself by saying he’d never been told not to. Then, two months later, the church met and decided, “As to Jeff’s preaching, the ch. thinks proper for him to lay down the practice of taking texts to advance doctrine from, but recommended him to use the gift in public of singing, prayer & exhortation.” Ah, yes! Those colored people sure knew how to sing, didn’t they?

Like I said, things sure have changed in the last 200+ years, haven’t they?

And then there was #50!

So, with all this history, my curiosity got the best of me: I wanted to know where I fell in the lineage of pastors. How many had there been, and what number was I? When I figured it out, there had been 49 men who served a total of 56 tenures here at Bethlehem (a few had been asked to serve a second or third time).

That made me the 50th man to be pastor! Or as one deacon called my last night, the “golden boy.”

Portraits of pastors (mine isn’t up, yet). But this is only 20. 30 more are missing.

Yep, I’m the 50th pastor serving in the 57th tenure … and the second Baker. But THIS “Br. Baker” ain’t got no slaves!

“Love abounds.” For real.

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Filed under America, baptist, Church, Humor, places

Pastors and Politics

I just want to take a quick moment to blog. By that I mean that I want to do what blogging used to be meant for: a web log of thoughts; a diary of sorts.

What thoughts do I want to record and share with the world? Politics. Specifically, pastors and the subject of politics.

The reason I want to simply “blog” is because I have not done any research, sourcing, or anything like that in order to craft a professional opinion piece. This is not meant to be an article worth publishing in a news paper or magazine. I have no links to news stories or pictures to share.

No, all this is meant to be is me sharing my thoughts off the cuff, unprepared, and dangerous.

You see, I have political opinions. I have my opinions about our President. I have strong opinions about the government and the direction we should be going as a country. Yet, as a pastor, my thoughts on these issues are considered taboo, off limits, no matter if they are spoken from the pulpit or elsewhere (and I’m speaking generically, not specifically about my current congregation).

It’s a strange situation to be in, actually. I mean, here we are, pillars in the community, men tasked with preaching truth without compromise, yet if we mention anything about conservative policies we think might better the community, we’re in danger of alienating people and running the risk of splitting a congregation!

It’s pretty sad, isn’t it? Shouldn’t the gospel apply to every area of life? Shouldn’t the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles find application in the voting booth? It would seem so. However, I could preach about anything, even against same-sex marriage, and aside from the vitriolic response I might get from friends of the rainbow, the average church member would support me in my pastoral, prophetic role. Yet, talk about anything political that might hint of my personal persuasions and I’d likely be censured.

Do you ever wonder why this is? Do you ever wonder why it is that a pastor cannot talk about politics that same way he can about adultery, lying, anger, murder, hate, hypocrisy, abuse, weighted scales, and bigotry?

Think about it… there are people in Christian media and print, along with nationally-known religious personalities, who are taking full advantage of their platforms to say anything negative about our President, even to the point of calling for his impeachment. Yet, if the average pastor stood behind the pulpit and said, “I think we ought to pray for Donald Trump, that he should succeed and become a great President, for our country and the world’s sake,” he’d likely be labeled a fascist, racist, evil Nazi sympathizer.

Oh, I forgot. It’s OK to admit you pray for the President, but only if you’re Nancy Pelosi and your ultimate goal is his imprisonment.

Here’s the thing, though. In every congregation of believers in Christ there are going to be people who are members of different political factions, and that goes for everywhere. Yet, when it comes to issues of right and wrong, good and evil, and how we should live out our faith in the public arena, which includes the voting booth, if God’s sufficient Word cannot find application that should guide the Christian, if there are areas in life that cannot be addressed by Scripture for fear that it might offend the Christian or bruise his personal sacred cow, then is the revealed Word of God really all it claims to be?

Prudence soaked in love; wisdom granted by the Spirit; and a keen contextual awareness are key when considering when, where, and how we should address these topics. However, fear should never be the motivating factor that intimidates us into silence when God has a Word to say.

Those are my thoughts on this Friday afternoon.

God bless.

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Filed under America, blogging, Christian Unity, community, General Observations, politics, Preaching

Year-End Wisdom from the School Bus

Looking back over older (vintage; gently-read) posts, I found this gem from December 2012. You know, from back in my bus-driving days (and before I wrote my book). 

Enjoy!


Life Lessons

If you are new to my blog, besides trying to pastor a church, parent children, and perturb a wife, I drive a school bus. It’s what I do to help pay the bills and increase my presence in the community.

photo (41)A while back I wrote a series of posts called “Life Lessons from the School Bus.” I haven’t done any in a while, however. So, since school is now out for Christmas vacation, I thought it would be a good time to catch up.

Below are three, short examples of truth gleaned from inside the “yellow box” on wheels. If you like these, you should go read some of my older posts. You won’t be disappointed.

“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.” – Proverbs 3:13-15 NKJV

The Roundabout

Europe came to Chattanooga a few years ago in the form of roundabouts. They are only in a few places, but people are getting used to them, especially the NASCAR fans – they love driving in circles.

Anyway, last week I came to a roundabout in my bus. About a quarter of the way through, a girl in a little car came from the street to my right and pulled directly in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes. “Oops!” was the look that came across her face. “Idiot!” must have been the look on mine.

Life Lesson? Are school buses invisible? No, and neither are many of the tragedies that run over people every day. People get so distracted with life that they never see the things approaching which could take life from them.

Losing Marbles

There’s this one little girl on my bus that cries over the least little things, like when she doesn’t get her way. One time she was crying about how everybody hated her. Then, just as she was stepping off the bus, another little boy looked back at her and said, “Nobody hates you, [name]; we just don’t like you.”

Well, that afternoon, when the elementary kids were getting on the bus to go home, this little girl got on first and sat on the front row. “Would you like a marble, Mr. Baker?” she asked. “No,” I said, “I have plenty.” “What kind do you have?” she asked. “The round kind,” I replied.

Then, as every child getting on the bus walked past her she would say, “Would you like a marble? You can have it for keeps. Everyone! Get your free marble, if you want one!

I asked, “What are you doing? Why are you giving away your marbles?” She said, “Because I am going to make them like me.

Life Lesson? Believe it or not, many adults do the same thing. They treat others poorly, then try to buy their friendship with shiny trinkets. Sadly, when all is said and done, the marbles just end up on the floor when the “friends” leave.

Puke Breeds Puke

It’s the last thing a bus driver wants to deal with, but puke happens.

Recently a driver in our area suffered a puking “perfect storm.” One child on his bus got sick and orally relieved himself, which started a chain reaction. I’ll never forget the driver’s words over the two-way radio, “It’s everywhere…all over…the bus is covered.”

You see, there is an irrefutable law on school buses: puke runs downhill (or down aisles). So, when one kid started throwing up, six or seven others followed his example, leaving the bus to be washed out with a water hose.

Life lesson? Watch your mouth – and what you spew out of it. The way you talk will influence others. Bad attitudes breed more bad attitudes, and what you end up with is a nasty mess.

 Want to be a school bus driver? Doesn’t pay a lot, but the lessons learned are worth a fortune!

 

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Filed under America, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Uncategorized, wisdom

A Christmas Wish

Lists

Christmas wish lists can be really amusing. Recently a mother of a needy family gave me a list of requested items for her children. I was told that the children would be happy with anything. Really? Would her children be happy with chalk, a box of Crayons, a wooden train, and a slinky? What about a stick?

Today’s children are more spoiled today than ever before. Not only do they want the newest toys and gadgets, but the toys and gadgets they want are more advanced than anything Captain Kirk used.

Wishes

And then there are the wishes that people make around Christmas time. Some people wish for world peace. Others wish for Michael Jackson to return from the dead to do a benefit concert for world hunger.

Right now the most popular wishes involve one side or the other of Trump’s impeachment. Some wish Nancy Pelosi would have a broom accident when she flies home from Washington. Others wish Trump would finally be convicted for conspiring with the Russians to move the US capital to Trump Tower.

My Wish

So what’s my wish? My wish is that things would just go back to the way they were when this picture was taken.

Other than for the goofy safety glasses, I looked pretty cool!

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I worked for a company that serviced nuclear facilities. My job involved flying on commercial aircraft all over the country. And whenever I flew on a new or different airliner, I asked to take a picture of the cockpit.

Here, the pilot actually told me to sit in his seat and wear his hat while he took the picture. What’s even more incredible is that while I was sitting there the engines were still running. He told me to put my hand on the throttles while the engines were still running!

Can you even imagine this happening today? Not hardly. That’s why I wish we could go back to an earlier, more trusting day and age; long before 9/11 and the jerks that ruined everything.

My Hope

Well, even though things may never be the same again, there will come a day when peace will fill the land. There will come a day when men’s swords are beaten into plows. But that day will only come when the Prince of Peace assumes the throne.

When He came before, He came as a humble baby.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

 The next time He comes, things will be a little different.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:” – Luke 1:32

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” – Matthew 16:26-27

 What a Christmas that would be!

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Filed under America, Christmas, General Observations

Thoughts On Impeachment

I am not a politician, nor do I play one on TV. Once I daydreamed about running for Congress, but then I returned to reality and drank a strong cup of coffee – no more of that nonsense.

However, I am a voter who has been watching politicians for many years, especially the last three, and I’ve been pretty disgusted by the whole lot.

Granted, not all politicians are sleazy scumbags. I get it. As a matter of fact, over the years I have had the privilege to know a couple of government officials, servants, who love our country, had high moral and ethical standards, and were not afraid to put their careers on the line while doing the right thing. But those are truly, truly rare these days.

Now, today, I get to see the culmination of three years of attacks on the President of the United States of America: impeachment.

Frankly, I find it funny that we went through two years or more of people absolutely sure Donald Trump colluded with the Russians and played patty cake in a hot tub with Vladimir Putin. They had “evidence” to “prove” it. Yet, none of that is part of the impeachment being voted on today.

As a matter of fact, the Democrat Party in America, aided by the mainstream press (a willing extension of the Party), has done nothing but look for any reason whatsoever to destroy President Trump and remove him from office, even before his inauguration! Even before he took the oath of office, there were protests, calls for violence, fires in the streets, intimidation of voters, and yes, calls for impeachment.

Simply put, the Left has hated Donald Trump since he shattered their dreams and defeated the Ice Queen, Hillary Clinton. There was nothing he could every do to win them over. There would be nothing he could ever do to gain their approval. Simply because he won the election, he, along with half the country (the “deplorables”), would be the recipients of attack after attack after attack. The Left’s pathological hatred would drive their whole agenda.

So, on this historic day, President Donald Trump is being impeached in the House for the most pitiful of excuses for “crimes and misdemeanors” anyone has ever seen. He’s not being impeached for colluding, lying under oath, bribery, tweeting too much, bad hair, getting jiggy with an intern behind the “resolute desk” in the Oval Office, or breaking into the Democrat headquarters. No, he’s being impeached because of misrepresented conversations and disrespecting those who’ve done nothing less than try to carry out a coup.

And the American people are wising up.

Blind hatred can lead one to do stupid things, including self-destructive behavior. When your sole mission in life is to destroy another person, you become bitter, narrow-minded, angry, mean, and eventually delusional. What’s even worse, hatred and a desire for vengeance can wind up hurting the very ones you love – including your country.

When nothing else is as important than vindication, retribution, and the orgasmic desire for the destruction of your enemy, you  become the servant of Evil and the hand tool of the Destroyer.

America is worse off now than if it had let the man elected President do his job, good or bad. Seething, delusional, maniacal, and pathological hate has divided and wounded this nation, all because a single man won an election, thereby stalling the radical agenda of those hell-bent on cultural transformation.

It’s an historic day, for sure.

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Filed under America, politics

Disturbing Reality: Children Are Ruining Everything

Yes, the children are ruining everything we used to hold dear.

Hold on a second…

I’m not talking about young skulls full of mush who haven’t lived long enough for their brains to develop; I’m talking about chronological adults who act like children.

We are truly living in an INFANTILIZED culture that not only refuses to grow up, but is rapidly losing its understanding of what “grown up” and “adult” even means.

I don’t know what you think of Paul Joseph Watson, but when I watched his latest video “The Infantilization of Popular Culture” I felt sick to my stomach for the future of this nation – and the world.

Is it any wonder that this is the same culture that is becoming less and less religious? This is the culture who constantly decries the need for organized religion, pastors, and church, and says, like a toddler who refuses help, “No! I can do it!

“And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head ​– ​Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-15 CSB

A self-indulgent world without Christ will never grow up and never mature. The end result can only be full-blown playground bullying and temper-tantrum-driven destruction.

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Filed under America, Christian Maturity, Culture Wars, current events, World View