Category Archives: blogging

An Open Letter to Pastors (and ministers) Delivering Regular Content During the Pandemic

Dear Pastors (and fellow Ministers)

As I write this, it is late Saturday night and I am thinking about my sermon for tomorrow. I’ve been looking at my notes, the Scripture, and thinking about the overall theme, paying particular attention to how I might be able to draw the sermon to a close. For some reason, I don’t know why, invitations have become more difficult for me in the last year or so.

But it’s not the Sunday morning sermon that concerns me – at least that’s not the reason for me writing this letter to you. It’s the content that you and I are expected to deliver to those watching on Facebook, YouTube, or whatever other streaming service you prefer.

I don’t want you to get tired of doing it. I don’t want you to get discouraged and give up too soon!

I don’t know about you guys, but I have been producing more Bible teaching since the pandemic began than any other time in my life! I literally post online content 6 days a week, twice on Sunday and Wednesday! That’s EIGHT original content presentations a week! Granted, what I produce during the week is not as deep as what I might deliver on a Sunday or Wednesday night, but sometimes it is deeper. Sometimes it could qualify for a full-fledged sermon. But is 8 times a week a little much?

Especially if you feel nobody is watching? Anybody with me?

Without a doubt we pastors are working harder than ever before. One reason I can say that with complete confidence is that we are, at the very least, using spiritual, mental, and emotional muscles we’ve never used before. We are in uncharted territory most days. That can drain a person.

Yet, what does your congregation expect out of you? How else are you able to stay in touch or connected throughout the week? I know this might sound self-serving or vain, but is what you are doing online partly due to the fact that you don’t want to appear as idle or taking advantage of the social distancing?

How many of you are beginning to question the efficacy of all the online content we are producing? How many of you are beginning to feel like you’re having little to no impact? I’m not going to lie; I’ve been feeling that way more often each day.

Nevertheless, what I don’t know is what God knows. What I am doing is the best I can with what I’ve been given. I am using every means possible to keep church (and all that’s involved with that word) in the lives of my flock. I’m doing all I can to make holy lemonade out of COVID-19 lemons. And only God knows what really happens on the other side of the computer or smartphone screen.

Though not exactly the same context, I am reminded of the following verse:

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

No farmer expects to make pie out of the fruit of his labor the day after he plants the first seed. Likewise, we don’t have any idea what this surge of biblical content is going to affect in the future: no one has ever had the opportunity to calculate the germination times.

We are planting and watering in fields where the Word of God has never been sown. We are flooding the airwaves and the internet with more of the Gospel message than at any other single time in history! And all that we are doing, all that we are sowing, and in all the areas and hearts where our ministry is reaching… Have we forgotten it is guaranteed to produce fruit of some kind? His Word does not return void!.

Maybe you didn’t need the reminder. Maybe it’s just me. But I just want you to know that we were put here for this time. What we do in this time will affect not only today, but tomorrow, too. We may never live to see the results of our plowing and cultivating and planting, but future generations may be feeding on the fruit decades after we have left the plow.

Don’t grow weary, gentlemen. Be encouraged! Stay strong! Keep up the good work!

Sometimes the only one in the field is the farmer. Keep farming while the weather permits.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Christianity, Church, coronavirus, ministry, Preaching, the future

I Succumbed to the Temptation

This is our dining room table.

Half of it is covered with my “stuff.” There’s my paints, paper, brushes, a candle for when I am reading, my coffee, magnifiers for looking at watches close up, my Bible, and my laptop.

I didn’t really have time to sit down to write, but the open computer and the longing for that tactile feeling of my fingertips clicking the plasticky, rubbery keys of the keyboard… You know, for the writer, it’s like a drug!

I’ve got reading to do – LOTS of it.

At 1 pm I am supposed to be somewhere.

There’s so many things to talk/write about, yet I just don’t have the energy (emotionally or physically) to do it.

But man, the feeling of that keyboard and the visual proof on the screen that creation is taking place…

I gave in. I’m here. Forgive me.

But I promise, should you want to visit for dinner (or supper), I’ll make sure the table has plenty of room.

I feel much better, now.

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Filed under art, blogging, writing

It’s Just Been Busy and Writing Is Draining

Dear friends,

I just wanted to send out a quick update, just in case you were out there wondering why in the world I hadn’t been writing much as of late.

Well, honestly, it all boils down to two simple reasons: I have been more busy than ever because of the virus, and writing, especially about anything going on these days, is simply too tiring.

I can’t do everything. At least not as much as I want to.

So, when things slow down a little and I can afford the luxury to write more, my posts might go back to more in-depth, thoughtful commentary on life, reality, marriage, crime, politics, pets, legalism, watercolor painting, theology, people-watching, watches, zoology, substance abuse, and irrational fears.

Until then, follow Jesus.

Oh, and I’ll include a few videos to show you what I’ve been up to 😉

– Anthony

Image may contain: Anthony C. Baker, text and outdoor

Click on the Facebook link to watch Pastor Kenneth Ware and I talk racism and Jesus 🙂 The discussion will be on Facebook Live at 2pm eastern.

https://www.facebook.com/events/556523215236606/

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and text

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Filed under America, art, blogging

7 Reasons to Choose a Bald Pastor

Looking for Leadership?

Has your church congregation been looking for a pastor? If so, you’re not alone; many churches, large and small, are in a crisis of leadership these days.

And now that congregations of every size, because of COVID-19, are prohibited to meet, it’s got to be even more difficult for churches without pastors to find one. After all, would you really want to watch his trial sermon on Facebook Live?

Nevertheless, when Cyrus the Virus finally lets God’s people return to their respective temples, be aware that there is a quick way you can start narrowing down the resumes: Make sure the man is bald.

Below is a list of seven (7) reasons bald men make better pastors.

WARNING: The following list works best with complementarian congregations. Bald egalitarian pastors tend to imitate Brittany Spears or Sinéad O’Connor, which can contribute to reduced membership and fewer riders on the float in the Gay Pride parade.

7 Reasons Why Bald Pastors Are Better

  1. A bald pastor never has to go to a barber or hair salon. Why is this a good thing? He can save anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a year, thereby reducing the need to pay a higher salary. Also, a manly pastor should never set foot inside a hair salon.
  2. Bald pastors are more hygienic.  “And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he [is] bald; [yet is] he clean.” – Leviticus 13:40
  3. Bald is a sign of leadership. As it has been said before, “The reason some men are bald is that they have their heads out the window driving this planet.” Bald pastors aren’t afraid to lead through the storms of life…unless they wear a wig.
  4. Bald pastors have more brains. Seminary is helpful, but pastors without hair have already demonstrated that their brains have left no room for follicles.
  5. Bald pastors never get into disagreements with dissenters. Just think, no church fights; no church splits; no angry deacons or pushy purse-string holders! No, God just sends bears down from the woods…problems solved. And you get a circus-like act for free (2 Kings 2:23-24)!
  6. Bald is beautiful! Isaiah 52:7 declares, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings…” And since God only shows off the more perfect of His cranial creations, why not hire the complete beauty package? Beautiful from head to toe!
  7. Church buildings remain safe. Just think, having a bald pastor means never having to worry about his righteous indignation turning into a Samson-like catastrophe (which, of course, could drastically reduce insurance costs).

Quarantines and the culture of social distancing can take their toll, so…

Be thankful for your bald pastor, but even MORE if he has a sense of humor! 

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Filed under baptist, blogging, Humor, ministry, Preaching

For Bloggers, Internet Missionaries, and Those Who Use the Web

On the night of January 14 I was privileged to speak to a group of men, mostly older men, about social media and the ministry of Christian blogging. My first impression was that these guys had no clue what I was talking about.

I was correct about some of them.

But others got it. They knew how to use Facebook, understood the dangers of being online, and one had even thought about starting a blog.

Regardless, nearly every one was blown away by the world-wide impact that can be made from one’s laptop on the kitchen table, or even one’s smartphone.

However, as I pointed out, not everyone can write, especially for a blog. Nevertheless, God has placed us here for such a time as this, and whatever it is for which we have a talent or gift, God has a plan to reach the world, even if it’s only a small part of it.

Let me share four passages of Scripture with you, then I would encourage you to listen to the short message I gave to the 45 men here in Georgia.

  • Esther 4:14 – “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, [then] shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this?
  • Philippians 1:27 – “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
  • Colossians 4:2-4 – “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; (3) Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: (4) That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”
  • Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Click the Picture

This photo is of my wife and me on our way to last week’s minister and wives retreat in Pigeon Forge, TN. The picture has nothing to do with the recording. I just wanted to use it 😉 If you click on it (or here) you can listen to the 21-minute sermon.

 

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Filed under blogging, ministry, writing

I’m Going to Offend Somebody

Offended Anyone?

Have you ever offended anyone? I bet you have. Sooner or later, all of us will. We may say something we don’t mean, act carelessly, or speak the truth without love. Offenses happen.

However, there are times when simple words and phrases will set people off. For example, if you want to rile people up into a tizzy, just get on Facebook or Twitter and post any of the following words (your opinion doesn’t matter):

  1. Image may contain: 8 people, outdoor

    Yes, that’s me in the center kneeling. My dad beside me. We raced Fords. (1987)

    Grits, okra, and turnip greens

  2. Roll Tide! / Go Vols!
  3. “Only two genders”
  4. “It’s only a translation.”
  5. Rapture
  6. First On Race Day (Ford)
  7. Second Amendment
  8. “My kids will never do that.”
  9. “only between a man and a woman”
  10. Donald Trump

Seriously, use any of those words and it won’t take 10 minutes before people are arguing and fighting, calling each other names, questioning each other’s religion, and saying things like, “DON’T JUDGE ME!”

Nevertheless, we should do our best to “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). It should never be our intent to hurt feelings or make people angry. The apostle Paul instructed us to “follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).  So, as much as is possible, we should watch what we say, choose our words carefully, and do our best not to offend.

And, when necessary, we should apologize.

The Rock of Offense

On the other hand, there are times when we MUST offend. Sometimes speaking the truth is the only loving thing to do; anything less is an offense to God.

For example, the following words will not make many friends but are guaranteed to generate hate-filled comments from around the troll-dwelling universe. Yet, they must be said!

  • Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man can come unto the Father but by Him (John 14:6).

As a blogger, my words are read all over the world by people who hate the name of Jesus, and when I mention Him they go ballistic. I hate it for them, but how can I remain silent?

Jesus told the followers of John the Baptist,

“…Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. – Luke 7:22-23 

I don’t like offending people, but here’s the thing: if we let the fear of offending silence the Truth, how then can we “follow after the things which make for peace?” There can be no real peace without the Prince of Peace.

So, I guess I’m going to offend somebody.

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Faith, General Observations, Life Lessons, salvation

Bună ziua, Romania!

Romania

I have a very special place in my heart for Romania. So many memories.

If I could take you to a box full of pictures, I could tell you story after story about the cities I visited, the people I met, the food I enjoyed, the time I came close to dying after drinking the water, the relationships, the church services, and the fish soup I just couldn’t eat.

If we had a while, I’d tell you why “Este o zi bună pentru a muri” became a repeated phrase every time we got in a car. What does it mean? It’s a good day to die.

I’d love to tell you about an overnight ride through the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps in a sleeper car straight out of an Agatha Christie novel.

You’d get a chuckle if I told you the story of me telling a Russian girl of the Romanian tree-dwelling vaca while walking through a park.

You’d laugh at the story of what led to recording a beautiful Romanian girl play her guitar and sing in a pink-tiled bathroom.

You might even tear up at the stories of sharing the gospel and Bibles with people who had been crushed under the foot of a communist dictator. And, how would you react if I showed you a picture of the approximately 80 people that accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior in one meeting I preached in village outside of Alexandria?

You’d be fascinated with the flag I was given, a flag with a hole in the center, a tattered piece of cloth that was actually drug through the streets of Timisoara during the revolution of 1989, just 2 years before (30 years ago, now).

But that was then – this is now.

And Romania has internet, internet users, and people who read my blog once in a while.

I’d love to find out whatever happened to the 80 in that village.

Maybe they’re the one’s who visit this site! Wouldn’t that be great?

Mulțumesc, Romania!

 

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Filed under blogging, Countries, places

A Post About A Talk About Myself (and Social Media)

Tonight I am going to be speaking to a group of men…

…about 40 of them.

What was the subject about which I was asked to speak?

Social Media!

More specifically, how I’ve used it and how I’m using it now to promote and further the ministry.

Hmmm. What could I say?

Let me think…

  1. We are here for such a time as this.
  2. Social media is a tool. And like all tools, it can either be used for good or evil.
  3. If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the comment sections.
  4. What you write is eternal.
  5. You don’t have to be famous or have a huge following to make a difference.
  6. Don’t let it consume you.
  7. Christian bloggers are internet missionaries, so treat every article, post, or tweet as a ministry opportunity.
  8. Don’t bury your talent.
  9. Every open door and window is one that can be closed at any moment.
  10. Pray before you post.

Well, there ya go! I think I’ll just use that as my outline for tonight. What do you think?

Heck, each one of those points could be a blog post! 😉

In the meantime, enjoy some gratuitous pictures of my granddaughter, Emma. She’s ONE!

 

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Filed under blogging, Countries, ministry

Hello, Canada! Eh? (updated)

This morning I want to send a shout out to all my Canadian friends. Hey guys! 

When I go to the stats page, I find more visits from you polite Canadians than any other country besides the States!

That’s awesome, eh?

As a matter of fact, Pastor Chris Jordan (a Canadian) helped a great deal in writing our commentary posts on Proverbial Thought. 

So, you friendly maple leafs (leaves?), why not leave a comment and tell us what God is doing in the Great White North? Is there still a French problem?

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time… “No point in steering now.” LOL!

Thanks for your syrup, your kindness, and for reading my blog!

Seriously, God bless you!

(and the Doug and Bob vids were in love, not meant to offend)

I want to express my sincerest condolences to the people of Canada, along with an apology. When I first published this post, I was not aware of the Canadian connection to the downed airliner in Iran (I do not have live TV).  Had I known that in advance, I would not have published the silly stereotype videos, but would have kept things more serious. 

Again, my apologies for not knowing sooner, and my condolences to the families and your nation.

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Filed under blogging, Countries, Humor

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