Category Archives: Christian Living

It’s All About Being “Real”

The Following was written six years ago in May, 2011. Sort of a “squeeze” from the past 😉


Have you ever been completely spent? Worn out? Empty? I have. As a matter of fact, I woke up this morning feeling like a squeezed out tube of toothpaste.

Yesterday was a great day. I was blessed to be able to preach in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. The only problem is that when you go all day, preaching your heart out, by the end of the day you’re exhausted. When I got up to drive the school bus, I looked at that tube of toothpaste and said, “That’s me.”

Over the next couple of hours a thought came to me: how can you tell when a tube of toothpaste is empty? Usually, it is flat and rolled up. The compacted tube shows evidence that all of its contents have been used – there’s nothing left. Then what about the hard, stand-up kind?

These new containers for toothpaste are deceiving. Unlike the old-fashioned tubes, they do not compact and show any visible signs of being empty. They always look full. Then it hit me – what hypocrites! Those new-fangled containers are just putting on a show and never give any hint of being used up. In other words, they’re not “real.”

I want to be “real.”

This is not a lesson on hypocrisy. This is not a lesson on being a whitewashed tomb full of dead men’s bones. This is about being “real.”

Too often, especially in ministry, we are forced to put on a façade, thereby making ourselves appear to be something we’re not. It’s not meant to be hypocritical. It is meant to spare others from the truth of our own inadequacies – our own emptiness. Sadly, because we don’t want to be a burden or a disappointment, we endure the emptiness…the loneliness…the fatigue. Being “real” is risky.

There are limits to how much dirty laundry a pastor can air in public without losing his ministry. There are limits to how vulnerable he can be around others. But may it never be said that we have to pretend to be something we are not. We are human. We have weaknesses. We have limitations. We can feel “used up.”

Fortunately, unlike a tube of toothpaste, we can be refilled. And for that matter, even a seemingly squeezed out tube always has just a little more to give. God gives us what we need, when we need it.  The important thing to remember is that we shouldn’t try to act full, when we are empty. When we do that, that is when we act in our own strength. Let us then admit our weakness and emptiness, and in turn our heavenly Father will refill us with what will bring Him glory. Who knows, maybe it is our emptiness He wants to use most.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 KJV

Just keep it REAL.

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Filed under Christian Living, General Observations, legalism, Preaching

If I Were a Mother

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! Especially to all of you who are mothers in one way or another.

I mean, not everyone has literally given birth; some mothers are adopted 😉

Nevertheless, I would like to say that I wish my mother and my grandmother a very happy day!


I wanted to write something a little different this year, even though I will still include the annual “Mother’s Day Song” at the end.

If I were a mother – and no amount of sex changes will ever make that happen – and, no, I’m not having a sex change – what kind of mother would I be? How would things be different?

1) Laundry

If I were a mother, I would make all my kids do their own laundry, and I wouldn’t care what color everything turned out in the end. I mean, if the kids want to have clean clothes, they wouldn’t need to come whining to me when they are the ones who get them all dirty and store them under the bed.

If I were a mother and a wife, however, my husband would always have clean, pressed laundry ready and placed out for the next work day. I would get up early before my husband – about 4 a.m. – and make sure his wardrobe for the day was place where he could find it, each part in the order in which it was to be put on.

Also, if I were a mother and wife of such a good man as the one I would marry, I would encourage him to toss his underwear and socks anywhere in the bedroom. I wouldn’t play games on my iPhone or computer, so this would allow me a little challenge each day. Yay!

2) Driving. Chauffeuring, etc.

If I were a mother, I would expect my husband to provide me with the best vehicle he could afford. What he drives would not concern me, but if I’m gonna be doing all the running around – if that’s what I do – then I’d better be in a nice Toyota Sienna Limited mini-van.

Now, with regard to the kids and all their spur-of-the-moment appointments, play dates, ball games, competitions, and whatever, I would expect some form of compensation – if they can’t drive, then they must pay. Where will they get the money? Heck, my girls went door-to-door selling dandelions and other assorted weeds, so any kid can earn money.

If my husband was tired, however, I would always let him lean back in the heated leather seat, or under his personally-selected temperature setting (hot or cold), and rest while I drive.

3) Cooking.

If I were a mother, I would make sure every meal was prepared from the freshest produce and hand-selected meats, daily procured from the local market. I would never serve the same recipe twice, except when requested.

As a wife, I would always make my husband’s favorite foods, even if the rest of the family ate something different. He would always have something at the table he is guaranteed to love, even if the children hate what I make.

Also, I would search the internet on a regular basis to come up with the most unique recipes for church socials – I must make all the husbands jealous of my husband, you know.

4) Giving Birth.

If I were a mother, I would make becoming a mother something enjoyable. I would never curse at my husband while I was in labor, either. I would never blame him for my pregnancy and accept all the blame myself. I would also ask my husband’s opinion on breathing, pushing, taking selfies.

If I were a mother I would hold all my children responsible for any and all pain and discomfort they inflicted on me.

But, I’m NOT a mother…

…or a woman, or a wife…not even the Caitlyn Jenner kind.

So, I can’t even imagine what life would be like without the wonderful mothers in my life, especially my wife who’s truly a gift from God.

I’m glad I’m a man, and a dad, and a husband… because being a mother would be more than I could handle – and the kids would probably die of disease and starvation.

Now, as Promised…

The Mother’s Day Song 

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Filed under Marriage, Parenting, Relationships and Family

Which Would Make Your Mother Happier?

Sunday is Mother’s Day!

I have only one question for you:

Which of the following statements would make your mother more happy?

  • “Mom, I’m going to go to church, today.”
  • “Mom, in honor of you I decided not to go to church.”
  • “Mom, I heard a filthy joke, today. Want to hear it?”
  •  “Mom, I heard a great sermon today about mothers. Can I tell you about it?”

Why not go to church on Mother’s Day and find out 🙂

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Birds and Bees 2.0

The following is fiction, but based on a sad, tragic reality: children are growing up in a culture with no norms, no absolutes, and no foundations but the shifting sands of desire. The “birds and the bees” are not what they used to be.

Here’s a helpful link should you get confused with gender-related terms: CLICK HERE.


Teigan’s Story

Teigan was getting ready to leave school, when at that moment, just as soon as she exited the gender-neutral bathroom, she saw what looked to be a cis gender female with a large belly. Looking down at her own sun dress, she thought to herself, “I wonder if I could look like that?”

Teigan was just like any other gender-fluid child; gender was whatever the mood of the day dictated. Although born a male, Teigan’s parents refused to impose any stereotypical roles; they encouraged role experimentation and never referred to him as “son,” only “child.” Therefore, if Teigan wanted to wear a nice dress out to dinner with her parents, then her parents would select the most appropriate ribbon for her hair. If Teigan wanted to play ball with the other boys, he would put on his Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt and jeans and head out to the park. Teigan’s gender preferences were as fluid as water in a mountain stream, changing direction with every obstacle and shift in terrain.

Thinking of the cis female (a female who identifies as a woman/has a feminine gender identity) h- saw earlier at school, Teigan was excited to ask h- parents the question all adults dread: “Where do babies come from?” You see, there were times when Teigan wanted to be a mommy, just like the cis female h- had seen earlier. But it was the particulars of “how” that confused h-.

According to Facebook, there are over 58 different genders one could select when signing up for a new account, and Teigan knew there was no way h- could choose just one. Teigan was not a just a boy or a girl, h- was whatever h- felt that day…and that posed a problem. You see, Teigan had noticed that the only genders with large bellies (the ones with child) were typically cis females, along with the occasional gender questioning or FTM. In most cases, the one with the large belly never fluctuated gender like Teigan did. “How, then,” Teigan wondered, “could I get a big belly to show off my dress, but then wear blue jeans later with the cis boys?”

Teigan had gotten gold stars for paying attention in h- sex education classes. H- had learned all about how tadpoles and eggs become something called a parasite, or fetus… but h- was still confused. The time had come to ask his parents.

“Dad, Papa, where do babies come from, and how can I have one?” Teigan asked.

Teigan’s father’s eyes shot over at his husband’s with a look of “what do we say?” Dad sat down his latte and replied, “Papa will tell you all about it.” Papa, realizing his husband would only end up acting like a wife if he refused, agreed to give Teigan a thumbnail sketch of the new “birds and bees,” or as it’s understood today, “Birds and Bees 2.0.”

Papa began: “You see, Teigan, when a loving couple wants to have a baby, depending on their gender, sexual orientation, or surgeries that may have been performed, they might go to bed and hold each other really close. At that point, when they get really, really close, a baby is made.” Papa continued: “For others, they just go to bed and wake up the next morning, after which they decide to go have a baby made for them.”

Teigan, still a little confused, then asked, “But how can I get a big belly and have a baby, too?” With excitement, Teigan added: “It would be fun to waddle around like the cis female I saw at school – I think she was a teacher – and wear a big, pretty dress! If I fall in love and get really close can I get a big belly and have a baby, too?”

“I’m sorry, Teigan, but we haven’t evolved that far…yet,” Teigan’s other father, Dad, said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what Mrs. Clinton can do.”

Heartbroken, little Teigan began to cry. As the tears began to wash away h- sparkly blush, h- whimpered, “But I want to have a belly like those cis females who are always cis females.”

“Maybe someday,” said Papa. “Yes, maybe someday,” said Dad.

“In the meantime,” Papa asked with a smile, “why don’t we go get some ice cream?”

Awesome!” exclaimed Teigan. “What should I wear?”


My Thoughts

When I was a child, a long time ago, my dad told me the “facts of life,” which included the “birds and bees” info. Included in that awkward lecture, however, were references back to the book of Genesis, where we are told God made “male and female,” not cis male and cis female. It was certainly a simpler time.

What are we doing to our children? What kind of harvest are we going to reap after sowing such seeds of confusion? Are all the options we’re creating in order to satisfy and coddle a morally bankrupt and confused generation going to strengthen familial bonds? Will the term family even survive the next generation?

God’s Thoughts

And [Jesus] answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made [them] at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh‘? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Matthew 19:4-6 NKJV

 All comments will be strictly monitored.

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, Defining Marriage, Humor, Relationships and Family

Let’s Talk About Depression, Pt. 2

Your Comments

The last time I wrote on this subject, I shared with you some very personal experiences. On several levels your comments were very encouraging, and for that I thank you.

The comments you left displayed a very important fact: Many people struggle with depression, even Christians.

Now, when I say “even Christians,” that might cause some of you to cringe. However, it’s not that Christians are any better than non-Christians, it’s just that so many people – especially Christians – think Christians should never get depressed. But reality is not perception, as your comments proved.

But, as I closed the last post on this subject, I promised to give you five (5) reasons people get depressed. Well, since then I came up with several others – now there are eight (8).

I’m not going to lie – each of the following have affected me in some way, so that is why I can list them with authority. Surely there are other causes of depression, or at least things that exacerbate it, but the following eight are ones with which I have experience.

 Reasons for Depression

1. Pain

Some of you may have more experience with this than others, especially those of you with debilitating illnesses. However, sometimes even the most mundane of pains, nothing more than chronic discomfort, can wear us down. After a while of never-ending relief, our bodies and minds start to reject reality and begin looking for a way out. We get tired of the pain that never ends, making us weary of the future.

Unfortunately, many people take their own lives because of never-ending pain. Believe it or not, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults of all ages; homicide is only 17th! The overwhelming thought of having to continue to live with what can never be relieved is too much for some to bear, leaving all other options and reasons to live off the table. This, however, is when meaning and purpose must be stronger than the pain.

Hope is the medicine for life.

But physical pain isn’t the only kind of pain. Memories can hurt, too. And not only memories, but all kinds of emotional pain; pain of all kinds contributes to depression.

2. Poverty

Now, for the record, I did not grow up rich. As a matter of fact, there was a time in my life when we lived in a house where you could see daylight through cracks in the walls! We also had no running water, except what we could get from a water hose attached to our neighbor’s well, so bathing was a pain, except when it rained; that’s when my dad and I would take the Dial soap and stand under the gutter.

The funny thing about poverty in my childhood is that I didn’t know I was poor, so it was no big deal. However, later in life I began to make a lot of money and began to grow accustomed to the finer things in life – including hot water and indoor showers. It was when God chose to remove that income and lifestyle that I revisited life with very little income, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Poverty – although nothing like what I saw in Zimbabwe – can lead Americans down the self-pitying road to depression. We bemoan what we do not have and mourn what we have no longer.

3. Potential

When I think of the word potential, I think of several things. I think of the things in life that could be, but have yet to be realized. I also think of all the kinds of things that could have been, but because of bad decisions or mistakes were lost to the “what if’s” of time.

Many people can grow depressed when they sit and ponder what might have been, or what is just out of reach. I have done that when I have looked back and wondered what I could have done if I had stayed in college when I was young, or continued pursuing a degree in law. I think of the business and employment opportunities I squandered that could have left my family and me in a much better position today.

But, potential is not what is, and where we are right now was never, at any time, a shock to our Creator and Sovereign God.

4. Pressure

Surely you know what I mean by pressure, correct? If I listed fifteen blanks you could probably fill in each one with a word tied to some sort of pressure-producing issue in your life. There are the pressures to succeed, to meet deadlines, to impress, to keep people happy, to finish the project, to not mess up, to not give in, and to be everything everyone else wants you to be.

Are you depressed, yet?

5. Pornography

Admit it, if you are on a computer reading this, you have no doubt come across something pornographic on the internet. It may have been by accident at first, but many of you have done more than stumble – you’ve dived in head-first to the cesspool.

If I were to say that I am immune to pornography simply because I am a Christian minister, I would be deceiving you. As a matter of fact, some surveys have shown that nearly half of all pastors have intentionally viewed internet porn more than a few times in the last year. Add to that fact the ease with which a person of any age can surf the web on a smart phone without leaving an obvious trace, who has not viewed porn in some form or fashion in the last year?

I am nearly 50 years old (will be in September), and I can tell you that porn is a big temptation. My first exposure to it was early on in life, before I was 10, when my cousins showed me my uncle’s hidden boxes of Playboys and Penthouse magazines. The indelible images left in my mind became dry tinder waiting to be reignited when VHS tapes became available, but thankfully I never purchased any. But when the internet became available, all it took was a curious click and I was pierced through with a flaming pitchfork.

Since the early days of my marriage, I have been very open and honest with my wife. Valerie knows my weaknesses, and so that helps me to avoid temptations. However, because of the world we now live in, when even burger commercials on television are nearly pornographic, the sparks that reignite the hellish images in my brain are floating in the air….and sometimes I fail.

What happens when we – especially Christians – view pornography? We experience the guilt that sin produces, and that can lead to serious, deadly depression. Even though Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the cross of Calvary, the Accuser never wastes an opportunity to remind us of how lowly and worthless we are. He does his best to turn us away from repentance and straight down the path of the prodigal.

6. Past

Maybe you already sensed this in some of the things above, but one of the biggest contributors to depression is the past. I won’t dwell too much on this one, for you probably know all to well what it is like to be haunted by things you’ve done or said days, weeks, years, or even decades ago. It’s when these moments come back to remembrance that we can stoop into depressive, pensive moods.

Like I mentioned before, the Devil  – the Accuser – loves to keep bringing up our past, even though God has place the Christian’s past in the Sea of Forgetfulness, as far as the east is from the west. But we are not God, are we? Unfortunately, because we are human, we tend to remember things we can’t correct or make right, like the time I said terrible, hurtful words to my father and made him cry.

Why not just take a moment at this point and think about how much you righteously hate Satan? He’s truly worth of hell, isn’t he? Not only did he tempt you and those you love, but he continues to remind you of things not even God will remember!

7. People

If you care anything about other people, people will depress you if you’re not careful, especially those who don’t even care what they are doing with their bodies and their souls. Wayward children, drunken neighbors, abused children, the starving homeless, crooked politicians, unrepentant atheists, and all kinds of others can lead even the most faithful into dark places of mourning.

Try sharing the gospel on a college campus and let me know if it’s easy to stay up and cheerful by day’s end. It’s difficult.

8. Prayerlessness

I’m sure the list could be longer, but I’ve just about run out of “P” words. So, let me end my list with one last cause of depression – a lack of prayer.

Friends, I can’t express to you how important it is to pray. However, make sure you understand the difference between “prayer” and talking with God. You see, there are those who believe that “prayer changes things,” so they go around spouting its benefits to any and all who are burdened, broken, sick, or downtrodden. But let me clue you in to a huge truth…

Prayer without Someone who can answer is nothing more than witchcraft. Yes, I said that, and you can take it to the bank. Prayers mean nothing without God. On the other hand, a simple conversation between the Father and His child “availeth much.”

But for those who never spend time with the Lord, or very little time, facing the daunting struggles and questions of life can simply become overwhelming. I firmly believe that had King David not prayed “evening, morning, and at noon” (Psalm 55:17), there would have been far more cries of “Why are you cast down, Oh my soul?” and far less proclamations like “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11).

That’s Not All, Folks!

Believe it or not, this is not the last post I’ll be writing on this difficult subject. My next one will bring some more observations to the table from which you can pick and use as needed. I just hope and pray what I am writing will continue to help and encourage.

But before I close, note that I did not give you many suggestions in the above post. In other words, pretty much all I did was list a bunch of things that cause, contribute to, or exacerbate depression, without offering ways to deal with them. So, let me share with you four (4) very important steps I’ve learned to take in my struggle with depression.

  1. Admit it, confess it, and talk about it.
  2. Don’t try to handle it on your own.
  3. Worship God, even when you don’t feel like it.
  4. Know that Jesus understands – that was what the cross was for!

Any comments? Any suggestions? Sharing is caring! 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Depression

10 Easy Tips to Spark Up Your Love Life (Conservative Evangelical Edition)

Your Requests

Lately I have been getting a lot of requests* from my readers and random people I meet on the street. They have been asking things like, “Hey, Anthony! Why don’t you write a blog post that deals with relationships and dating?”

There have also been multiple married couples** across the country come up to me and point-blank beg me to share my thoughts on marriage, keeping the love alive, etc. Probably 25 couples*** specifically asked, “Can you enumerate a list of actions we as couples can take to ‘spark’ things up, but in a Baptist way?”

So, what else can I do but give my readers what they ask for, right?

Therefore, as requested, here are approximately 10 easy tips to spark up your love life – if you are a conservative Evangelical or Baptist, of course.

10 Easy Tips to Spark Up Your Love Life

Men:

  1. Open the car door. I know, it may sound old fashioned, but the ladies really to like it when you open and hold the door to the car, especially when other people with bad marriages are looking. NOTE: Make sure you hold it open and watch your wife/fiance/date actually complete the task of getting all the way in before you turn your head and shut the door. Remember, it’s not your responsibility to notice the ooo-ing onlookers touched by your chivalry; that’s the female’s place…you don’t want to break her ankle.
  2. Buy her flowers. Christian girls adore God’s creation just as much as the nearest tree-hugging liberal. Therefore, don’t forget to buy your woman some flowers now and then. NOTE: Make sure beforehand if she is allergic to any particular specimen. Otherwise, make sure you have some anointing oil handy, along with someone who can demand that the spirit of asthma be gone.
  3. Choose the right restaurant. When your better half wants to go out to dinner, or when you suggest it, ask where she would like to eat. When she then says, “Oh, it doesn’t matter; wherever you want to go,” you softly say, “I think I would like to go to _______.” With what do you fill in the blank? The restaurant SHE likes, NOT where you would actually want to go.
  4. Tell her she looks beautiful. Married guys, right when you roll over in the morning and see your wife, tell her you love her AND “you look beautiful this morning!” No, she won’t believe you, but she will enjoy hearing it. Then, later in the day, say it again, right when she doesn’t expect it. NOTE: Don’t tell her she looks beautiful more than twice in the same day – she’ll know you’re up to something and the plan will backfire. Single guys, just tell her she’s “pretty” and save the rest for marriage.

Women:

  1. Tell your man you’re proud of him. In all seriousness, if there is anything a man wants, it is to be respected. Even if he’s been acting like an idiot and messing up everything he touches, let him know you are proud of him for trying. The last thing you want to live with is a bumbling idiot whose depressed, too.
  2. Brag on your husband. Don’t misunderstand, bragging on your husband is just the half of it. What you need to do to spark things up is brag on him to other women, and do it is such a way that he is not supposed to know what you said, but you “accidentally” let him find out. For example, send an email or text to your BFF saying something like, “God gave me the best husband any woman could ever dream of! I’m sorry your husband isn’t as wonderful as mine…#praying4u” Then, leave your computer on, or “accidentally” forward him a copy.
  3. Surprise him with tickets to a manly-man guy flick. Believe me, ladies, if you want to make your man feel special, accepted, loved, and adored, say to him, “Honey, guess what? I got us both tickets to go see Star Wars! Unless, of course, you’d like to go see The Day the World Was Saved by Blowing Up Stuff; I’d really like to see that, too.”
  4. Pick some flowers for him. First, you’d be amazed at how guys can be touched by something as sensitive and caring as you giving him flowers. But, keep this in mind – don’t buy them! Your man will be far less stressed if you don’t spend money on stupid stuff like flowers that are only going to die in a day or two, anyway. Pick the flowers and he will love them – and you!

TransGender & LGBT Folk:

NOTE: I can’t help you. However, see the United Methodist, Presbyterian (USA), Unitarian Church, Alliance of Baptists, and Ecumenical Catholic websites, to name a few, for further information. Or, just look for wherever the co-opted symbol of the rainbow is displayed.

For Couples (heterosexual, married, and not just living together):

  1. Pray together. Don’t just pray for each other; pray WITH each other.
  2. Go to church together. Don’t just go to church, however; sit with each other and worship together. NOTE: if you have children that seem to require the whole pew and it forces the both of you to separate and sit at either end, see my other post entitled “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child.”
  3. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. That’s all I’m going to say about that; you’ll need to look that up on your own.

BONUS: Spend the evening together at your local Lifeway Christian Book Store.

Conclusion

The last bit of advice I can give is this: Put God first in your relationships and He will provide whatever you need to make it great and make it last.

 

* Not really.

**Again, not really. I’m joking.

***Ditto.

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Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Defending Traditional Marriage, Faith, Humor, Relationships and Family, wisdom

My Daughter Does Opera

I know I’ve posted a lot, already, but this is my daughter we’re talking about. 

Katie is a Music Education and Biology Education Major at Bryan College. Today she performed a piece while I was at work, so my wife filmed it. 

I downloaded the video and then uploaded it to Youtube so you guys could see it. 

I don’t have the foggiest idea what she is singing, but it’s pretty. 

Enjoy! 

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Filed under music, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized