Category Archives: blogging

Saved from Irrelevance: the MacBook and Me

This morning I was seriously thinking about walking away from blogging for the next 30 days, or so. Last night was just one of those nights when all the emotional energy I had was sapped out of me, leaving me awake this morning with little or no desire to be transparent, much less creative. So, what was one of the first things that came to mind? Walk away from blogging for a while.

Now, the big question is why would I think like that? Well, it’s not really that difficult to understand: I wanted to atone.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes we like to act destructively in order to relieve stress or pain? Some people do it by drinking too much and getting drunk, while others shoot up drugs or watch porn (is this hitting home with any of you?). Many people, if not most, find some temporary comfort in doing something harmful or self-abasing in order to either punish themselves for something they feel they did wrong, or just prove to themselves they are as bad as they feel. Both options are tragic in their own right.

Why am I writing this? Well, what I am doing is the opposite of what walking away from blogging would do – I’m trying to make a difference.

If you have gotten this far I congratulate you. Most people, in my experience, would have tuned out by now, thinking the subject matter of this post is too emotional, depressing, or something. However, I am not writing this for anyone’s entertainment; I’m writing it because I need to.

And if I ramble, that’s because I am writing with no agenda, no editing, just to get this off my chest.

Anyway, last night was one of those nights that drained me, like I said. It was a night full of family drama, the kind parents sometimes have to go through when there are teens and young adults in the family. It’s that parenting thing that can be so hard…and the struggles within a marriage relationship…when multiple people get together, have differing opinions, different communication skills, and struggle to see things eye-to-eye. The single life does have its advantages in that one can just walk away when things get tense or uncomfortable – but not family. Family is hard work, and painful, too.

So, I woke up this morning, ready to quit blogging for a while. It just seemed like a statement I could make that would make me feel better. Really, the truth is nothing more than what I really wanted to have control over something. We can’t control other people (not unless we are tyrants, or something). Life itself is often nothing more than a four-wheel skid in a generally predetermined direction. Therefore, had I just announced that I was going to quit blogging for a while, I would have at least given myself a temporary emotional boost, one that said something to the effect of, “You are in control!”

But only God is truly in control, you know? The best I can do is remain faithful in the life He has called me to live. I will make mistakes; I will do things I regret; I will say things without thinking; I will hurt feelings; I will give advice today that tomorrow I may regret; and that’s because I am human. Even king Solomon, the wisest man on earth, made mistakes; am I wiser than him? All I can do is “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). In a broad application of Ecc. 12:14, God will handle the rest.

I don’t want to walk away from blogging – although I would like my posts to become ever more relevant and impactful. Just like this computer I am using this morning – one that I rescued from the trash – even though I am not the fastest, sharpest, most up-to-date, and all that, God want’s to take what I do have and put it to good use for His purposes. It’s a much better feeling knowing that something I am writing will make a small difference, rather than feeling that temporary gratification of being in “control.”

Lord willing, even thought I am not the best at it, tomorrow morning I am going to be preaching on the topic of prayer – specifically  “Prayer that Works.” Much of what I preach is nothing more than something I need to hear myself, and this will be no exception. And just like this blog post, one that is an attempt to show I don’t have everything under control, but I’m still making it through another day, tomorrow’s sermon will be an example of God using a flawed, imperfect example of humanity to showcase his glory and grace.

So, if nothing else, I’m thankful for this old computer, rescued from the trash heap, for giving me the urge to do a little bit more typing. God knows how He is going to use it. He’s the one in charge and in control, not me.

Our county school system had relegated this “outdated” MacBook to the trash, but I rescued it from the crusher. After a cleaning up and cleaning out, it still works fine, just a little slower than the new stuff – just like me 😉

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Humility ~ Part 2

This is Part 2 in a series on Humility by guest blogger Donald N. Norris.


In my last post, we began to explore the Godly characteristic of humility.  I made my confession that   I certainly don’t have much of a reputation for being humble.  In this post, we will look at the concept of humility from the pages of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

Humility in the Tanakh [1]

The Tanakh connects the quality of humility with Israel’s lowly experience as slaves in Egypt – a poor, afflicted, and suffering people.  And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us.” (Deuteronomy 26:6 emphasis added.) The Hebrew word translated as humility is similar to another Hebrew word meaning “to be afflicted.”  Humility was closely associated with individuals who were poor and afflicted (see 2 Samuel 22:28).

What God desires most is not outward sacrifices but a humble spirit.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Such a humble spirit shows itself in several ways:

  1. Recognition of one’s sinfulness before a Holy God. “Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
  2. Obedience to God. “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”  (Deuteronomy 8:2)
  3. Submission to God. “‘Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,’ declares the LORD.”  (2 Kings 22:19)
  4. “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.” (Psalm 25:9)

The Tanakh also promised blessings to those who were humble:

  • When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
  • “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
  • Good news. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.”  (Isaiah 61:1)  Yeshua quoted this verse in Luke 4:18.
  • “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” (Proverbs 3:34
  • “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” (Proverbs 15:33)

The experience of many kings indicated that those who humble themselves before God will be exalted (see 1 Kings 21:29; 2 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 32:26; 33:12, 19). Those who do not humble themselves before God will be afflicted (2 Chronicles 33:23; 36:12).

The prophet Zephaniah appealed to the “humble” of the land to seek the Lord.  “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3) He knew they were the ones who would listen to him and accept God’s message.

The pathway to revival is the way of humility.  If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

In my next post, we will explore the concept of humility in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament).

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references in this series will be from the New American Standard Bible (NASB ~ 1995 Update)

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Guest-Post Gamble

As most of you know, I have been making use of guest posts for the last several weeks in order to free up some time during preparation for a move. For the most part, all of the posts submitted by guest authors have been well-written pieces with acceptable content (content that doesn’t conflict with my personal beliefs).

However, just the other day I received a guest post from a blogger friend who has a different take on a particular teaching. His view is that the gift of speaking in tongues (languages unknown to the speaker), as mentioned in the books of Acts and 1 Corinthians, is still applicable and important for verifying the validity of one’s personal faith.

But here’s the thing: I don’t believe that. Shocker?

So, I had a discussion with the contributor of the post and stated that if I published his work without any clarification, there might be some confusion and unwanted repercussions.  Essentially, to publish his post without a caveat would be a big gamble on my part.

Therefore, I have decided to try something… a guest post open discussion on the topic of speaking in tongues.

Loose Your Tongues

Let us have a discussion on the topic of glossalalia (i.e., “speaking in tongues”) within the church. If you have a particular view, why not share it? The only thing I will not permit is attacking each other.

The first post on the topic is going to be the one submitted by David Fuller: “Tongues and the Church Today.” David is not a cessasionist (cessationist = one who believes the gift of tongues has ceased), consequently he will be arguing that the gift of tongues is still alive and well, even under-used.

The next post will come from me, and that post will be a treatment of 1 Corinthians 14:4, the verse where Paul talks about self-edification. That post will be argued from the perspective of a near cessasionist (nearly 100%, but not quite…more like 98%). I’ve yet to write it, but it will be done soon.

After that, I would love to publish more posts from other bloggers willing to enter the discussion. All I ask is that you focus on good scholarship to support your understanding, not attacks on those with different beliefs. The posts will publish as regularly as you submit them.

How This Fits My Blog

You might be wondering, “Why do this?” I mean, why bring up a topic with so much potential for hurting feelings or exposing differences and inconsistencies within the Church? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

  • We don’t all have to agree on secondary issues to be family
  • Open and honest dialogue helps to clear up confusion, not create it.
  • Atheists use our differences to bolster their argument against Christianity; therefore, it benefits the Church and the Gospel to demonstrate how followers of Christ can differ on certain non-essential doctrines and still remain connected by the fundamental and primary doctrines of the faith.
  • An open discussion of this topic will help to combat the legalistic tendencies we all have to lessen the spirituality of others as we judge them through the lenses of our own particular beliefs.

A Challenging Challenge

So, before I publish the first post in this open-ended series, let me issue a challenge to you all (or y’all, if you’re here in the South). When you submit your views on the subject/doctrine of speaking in tongues, remember to exhibit grace.

For example, if you don’t believe the gift of tongues is still in effect, that’s fine, but try to find a way to say something positive about those with whom you disagree. The goal of this series of posts is not to offend, but to build up and encourage each other as we seek to better understand Scripture.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. – Philippians 2:1-2

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Humility ~ Part 1

The following is the first post by a new contributor, Donald N. Norris. You can usually find him at My Heart is for Israel, where he regularly impresses me with his in-depth, Israel-loving, Bible study 🙂

Guest Post by: Donald N. Norris

In this post, we will begin to explore the Godly characteristic of humility.  For those that really know me, they are probably wondering why I would even begin to attempt this topic!  I certainly don’t have much of a reputation for being humble.

Confessions of a Self-Centered Man

I have recently come out of my denial and now freely admit that most of my life has been spent as an extremely self-centered man.  It’s all about me!  My over-eating and anger issues are a primary function of my ingrained self-centeredness.

I’m not proud of this at all.  But, with the power of my Savior Yeshua and His indwelling

Ruach, I know in my heart that I have embarked on a recovery journey to transform and renew my mind and my actions to incorporate the Godly character of humility into my walk with the Lord.

After reading my testimony on this blog, you may be wondering how I became so self-centered.  You need look no closer than my given name ~ Donald.  All my life, I have been told that my name means world ruler, leader and overcomer.  Unfortunately, I bought into that, at least the leader and overcomer part.  And it is true that one of my spiritual gifts is leadership.

But despite my self-centeredness, I have always thought of myself as a servant-leader.  One of my favorite hymns, based on James 4:10, has been “Humble Thyself In The Sight of the Lord” by Bob Hudson.  James writes, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (NASB)  Mr. Hudson wrote:

“Humble Thyself In The Sight Of The Lord”

Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
And He shall lift you up
Higher and higher and He
Shall lift you up.

So I will humble myself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
Humble myself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
And He shall lift me up
Higher and higher and He
Shall lift me up.

So I will humble myself in the sight of You, Lord (echo
Humble myself in the sight of You, Lord (echo)
And You will lift me up
Higher and higher
And You will lift me up.

I bought into the servant-leadership style of Yeshua early in my own walk, especially at work and church.  Sadly, I did not buy into it in my own home.  There, I thought I had to be that ‘world ruler.’  It was my way or the highway.  Trust me that didn’t work out well for me or my loved ones.  In many respects, I’m still reaping what I sowed. I’ve had to make my amends and rebuild those relationships.

So, how is it that I came to blog on the topic of humility?  At our church, I am on a team of people developing the curriculum for a disciple-making training program that will take a new believer along a pathway of becoming like Yeshua and eventually be able to replicate their own journey with other new believers; in short, making a disciple to become a discipler.

Since I knew that I needed to learn and live-out the characteristic of humility before I could ever train someone else, I volunteered to write that module.  This series on humility is a result of my exploration of humility from the Word of God.

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

In my next post, we will explore the concept of humility in the Tanakh (Old Testament).

 

 

 

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What We Can Do When It Hurts

UPDATE: The following post was NOT emailed to me by Donald N. Norris, but Dave Peever. Thankfully, this is the only mistake I have made today 😉

So, please check out Dave’s blog, Live 4 Him. I’m sure you will be blessed there, also.  


Guest Post by: Dave Peever

I Have Nothing to Offer

It hurts and it should. It may be my hurt or it may be someone else’s hurt that I observe, but it hurts, and it should. Still, we try to avoid it or at least address it as quickly as possible and move on. Logic does not play into it or at least cannot be used to lessen the impact. The passage of time may help but when everything seems to be going by so slow, the future is not even in the mix of thought and emotion. We wish it never happened, we hope we can somehow forget, but we know that it’s not going away. Like a rotten tooth that needs to be pulled or a wound that must be reopened and cleaned, it must be dealt with or the long-term issues will far outweigh the short term pain. It hurts and it should.

You’re a pastor, you should know what to say, how to bring comfort, how to rise above the pain.

I often wonder how people see me and others who have been called to pastoral ministry. When we are in the pulpit we are in control or at least appear that way. We tackle the tough issues head-on with Bible verses pre-selected and marked, script written and rehearsed. Everyone’s attention (we hope) is focused on us with little else competing for space in people’s thought process. We are in charge with little question about who is there to give out the answers to life’s problems. Before I go further, there are many times I haven’t felt in control in the pulpit, but by its very nature preaching creates the appearance of having it all together. Then comes the hospital visit, the funeral preparation family meeting, the pregnant unwed mother discussion, the abused wife’s plea for help or the drug or porn addiction revelation and people expect that same sermon preaching confidence. It is as if there are magic words that will make it all better and somehow the pastor is supposed to have them all stored up in his brain, ready to use at the appropriate time.

God’s word is full of comfort but God’s design does not allow us to avoid pain.

Biblical words of comfort are not the recipe for griefless living. To love someone is to invite pain into your life no matter how much they love you back. At some point something will happen that will hurt you. It isn’t always between the people in the relationship, but it is always felt by the people in the relationship. If we truly love the other person, their pain becomes our pain even if we are not directly affected. The only way to live life pain free is to ignore the Bible and never love anyone.

By calling and vocation, a pastor is placed in the middle of pain. By calling and obedience, a pastor experiences pain just like anyone who loves as Christ loves. Pastors may have a responsibility to the congregation defined in their job description but all Christ followers have an obligation to love and therefore are exposed to pain. The comfort we have and the comfort we offer is not found in the removal of hurt, pain and grief because we know the right words to say but instead it is found in the sharing of life as it happens.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 (NIV)

You may say that you have nothing to offer because you are not a pastor, but the truth is, even though I am a pastor, we both have the same thing to offer.

I hate hospital visits as much as the next guy. I want to avoid the tears of a grieving family just like most people do. If I could miss funerals, including my own, I would. To seek out pain, physical or emotional, is not the sign of a stable person, to enjoy the depths of despair is not normal behavior. I understand that people want a pastor to be with them in their time of need and I accept that as part of my job. I may not like feeling that I can’t make the pain go away, that I am not in control and have nothing to offer, but I accept that just being there brings a level of comfort.

What I have to offer is the same as you. We all need to live out Romans 12:15 because we all, if we love like Jesus, have something to offer. Love has a cost, a price to pay. Sometimes we get to rejoice together other times we share pain but all the time we need to be there for each other. God does not leave or abandon those He loves but stays with us in part through the people He surrounds us with in our time of need. Be there for others, you can’t fix it, you can’t make it go away, that’s not the way God designed us, but you can share in the pain, help carry the burden, you have something to offer.

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Now Accepting Awesome Guest Posts

First Thing

Here’s the first thing I want you to know…my blog statistics for 2017 are looking good! I’m on track for breaking last year’s record!

Oh, I know my stats are nothing compared to bloggers like Beauty Beyond Bones. For crying out loud, she’s got 23,000 more followers than me…so you do the math. She’s also slightly better-looking that me, so… Nevertheless, my numbers are 51% of last year’s total, so I am ahead of schedule!

Awesome, right?

That is why I would like to keep things active, even though the next month or two is likely to be uber-hectic.

Second Thing

We will be moving once again, this time into the parsonage at South Soddy Baptist Church. Now, this old home hasn’t been lived in for years, and it’s in desperate need of some cleaning and repair – not to mention a few upgrades – so a lot of my time will be spent working there before moving in.

Don’t believe there’s work to be done? Here are some pics.

The back porch/laundry room.

The living room with a broken window, no lights, and some floors that need help.

The ceiling in the kitchen. The ceilings in the rest of the rooms aren’t this bad, but they need work.

The bathroom shower was evidently used in a horror movie.

What is the best way to keep out a draft? Evidently duct tape. This is the inside view of the front door.

 

Also, the place where we are now living is going on the market very soon, so there is work to be done here before it sells. All the work here, and at the parsonage, will be taking a lot of my time – time which will also be shared with working as a trainer for new bus drivers, studying for sermons, recording radio programs, doing lectures at the seminary, and doing a lot of visitation this summer.

When am I supposed to be writing for this blog???

Third Thing (the charming part)

Because I am going to be soooo busy this summer (Oh, and my wife and I are going on a paid-for cruise for our 50th birthdays!), and since I want to keep the viewers coming back, I need guest posts!

It’s not something I’ve done very often, but it’s been fun in the past to have guest bloggers contribute to The Recovering Legalist. However, now it’s more of a necessity than fun – I’m going to be too busy to post something brilliant every day.

So, if you would like to contribute entertaining, thought-provoking, God-honoring, award-worthy literature, start writing now and start submitting. Once I get enough I will start publishing them, thereby freeing me up some valuable time.

But I need your posts. Like soon. ‘Cuz I got me sum tings to be doin,’ doncha know.

Otherwise, I’ll never have enough views/stats/hits to justify renaming my blog…”Beauty Beneath the Fat.” 😉

I’m anxiously awaiting your submissions!

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Heading to the Airwaves with Proverbial Thought!

Beginning on Sunday morning, probably @10 am (that’s yet to be determined), May 28th, Proverbial Thought will actually take to the radio on WKWN AM & FM!

Cool, huh?

Up until a local gospel AM radio station folded (WFLI), I had been doing a regular broadcast on Sunday evenings at 5 pm. A couple of weeks ago the opportunity opened up to start a new program on a new station. The big plus this time around will be that it will be streamed on the internet, so people all over can listen, especially those who for years have subscribed to the blog, ProverbialThought.com.

So, what I hope to take place is that local and regional listeners to the radio program will go to the Facebook page for Proverbial Thought, Proverbial Thought Extra, to share their thoughts. I also hope it will lead them to dig a little deeper into God’s Word, and even use Proverbial Thought as a tool.

The radio station on which this program will air is not a Christian station, but it does have more of a conservative talk/news format. Therefore, this program will be geared to appeal to those with less of a gospel-programming taste, and more of a practical, rubber-meets-the-road mentality.

You see, Proverbs is a book that is profitable for all people, no matter their relationship with Christ. The wisdom in Proverbs is useful for everyday life, including business, politics, relationships, and other cultural issues. Hopefully this will prove useful to anyone who decides to listen.

On the other hand, the Wisdom of Proverbs is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24). Each week the program will cover one verse from one chapter, sequentially going through a chapter a week, starting over on the 32nd week. Each program will show how the wisdom of the particular proverb/verse can be practically applied, but it will also offer Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God.

A beloved brother in Christ, Paul Wheeler, gave the funds to put the last program (“The Voice from the River”) on the air, and he wanted to give for this one, too. As a matter of fact, he was the one that asked me to continue preaching on the radio after I resigned from my last church, because he wanted to keep the program going, promising to do so even after his death!

For the record, Bro. Paul Wheeler is a decorated Vietnam veteran who first started the program under the name “Veterans for Christ.” However, when he started attending the church where I pastored, and after his voice and strength began to wear out (due to lung cancer), he told me, “You take the program, Pastor, and I’ll keep it on the air as long as you want to do it.”

So, please keep this program in your prayers, and listen to it when you can. Also, check out the blog (and the “About” page) and the Facebook page.

I’d love to hear your feedback.

– Anthony Baker

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