Category Archives: Christian Living

It Won’t Be Much Longer

Good Wednesday, everyone! I just wanted to give you a quick update and then get back to work.

In about a week or so I will be done with all the writing requirements needed to finish my DMin. Lord willing, I will graduate July 30th!

When I get all of this out of the way, my writing here and other places will start up again, even if slow at first.

In the meantime, as you know, my mother passed away in March, leaving my sister and I without both our parents. My sister flew in from Germany to be here when my our mom died, but COVID red tape kept her from getting here in time. That was very painful for all of us, but especially for her.

A Dynamic Duo!

Once Rebecca arrived, besides the funeral and all that went along with a week of services in two different states, there was the arduous task of going through our mother’s belongings and deciding what to do with it all! She has literally been away from her husband and home for 3 months!

So, today is bittersweet. My sister is flying out of Atlanta, today. The past 3 months have been the best time I have ever had with her. We are closer now than we were when we were children, teens, or even when we played music in a band together. I am going to truly hate to see her leave, but I am happy that she will be able to get back home to her Carlos – I know he has missed her!

Do you know what’s next? For the very first time – ever – my wife and I will be alone! For some people, that’s a dream come true, and it sorta is for us, too. However, make no mistake, it won’t take long before the silence left after 29 years of laughter, tears, and all things “family” will be deafening.

Well, it won’t be long before we head out to the airport, stopping by a Cracker Barrel on the way (a last stop for American food). It won’t be long before we part ways for at least another year. It won’t be long until Valerie and I are by ourselves in a big house.

That all being said, I’m glad that sad departures won’t always be a thing. It won’t be that long until time will be no more and parting will be a thing long forgotten.

I look forward to sharing some stories with you!

Until later,

Anthony

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Filed under Family, Life/Death, Relationships and Family

The Mother’s Day Song (In Honor of My Mother)

Learn It, Love It

Honestly, I’ve written some fairly decent songs over the years, but one of my favorites (at least in the month of May) is “The Mother’s Day Song.”

Therefore, I want you to listen to this song again.

Seriously. It’s a tradition. And I would love for you to share it in honor of my late mother who went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on March 16th.

Read Them, Love Them

Now, it’s not because I’m being lazy, it’s just that some previous Mother’s Day posts I wrote were pretty good ones, and I’m not really up to writing much more than this on this Mother’s Day. Below are a couple of links.

(As a bonus, scroll through the comments and you’ll get to see me play and sing it live.)

“If I Were a Mother”

“Honoring Mothers”

My grandmother died in 2019, then my mother died a couple of months ago. With all my grandparents, and now both my parents gone, I’m truly the “adult” in the family. When my mom was still living (and she lived with us), there were times I would take a piece of art to her, or ask her about a sermon, and say, “What do/did you think?” Even as a 53-year-old man I wanted my mother’s approval.

That’s one of the things I already miss that I truly took for granted.

But I know she liked my “Mother’s Day Song” and smiled when I sang it.

So, appreciate your mother on Mother’s Day, everyone! Sing the song!

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Filed under music, Parenting, Relationships and Family

I’m NOT Going to Puke! I’m n…

This is going to be an unusual entry, as if the title wasn’t enough of a clue. I’m going to talk about holding back from puking – puking my emotions, that is.

Let’s start with the whole disgusting vomiting thing.

You know what it’s like – that feeling of a sour stomach, a queasiness, a warning that your body is preparing to expel what it thinks is harmful to process, right?

Have you ever had that feeling but determined you were going to do everything in your superpowers to stop it from happening?

First, you try to convince yourself that it’s nothing, really. I mean, sure, you didn’t give thanks to Jesus for that sandwich from Chick-fil-A because, after all, it came pre-blessed. And that sushi from the kiosk in the food court didn’t taste too strange, at least no more than normal.

The next thing you do is think, “It’s only a little upset stomach,” then ask, “Where’s the Mylanta?” Yeah, that’s all you need.

The sweat begins to bead on your forehead. More excuses. More rationalizing. You find a place to lie down and moan a muffled declaration into your pillow: “I’m NOT going to throw up!”

Sometimes it works. Sometimes.

Well, this is the best way I can describe the feelings I have after the death of my mother, Rebecca Marie Baker, this past Tuesday morning.

Rebecca Marie Baker 12/28/44 – 3/16/21

It’s like I feel a familiar sensation, a pressure, a something… it’s like I know if I was so many other people I would have already broken down and wept. But when the urge comes my immediate response – and it’s actually a physical, tangible response – is to tap it back down. And I am not even sure if it’s on purpose. Actually, I know it’s not.

If the body eats something that is bad for it, the natural response is to expel it. To keep it inside and to digest it could be harmful.

But what of the heart? What of the emotions? What of pain and grief?

I mentioned this to my wife and she suggested I “let it out.” But the last time I cried uncontrollably was when I stood at the door of the bedroom of one of our daughters after she moved off to college.

I don’t like to cry like that. I don’t like being that weak. I especially don’t like people seeing me that way.

However, Jesus wept. Yes, He did.

But not every time.

At least that we know.

I know these last few weeks were difficult, and I know we talked a lot about you going to heaven, but now that you are gone, I’m going to miss you. I am glad I was able to tell you I loved you and to hear your weak voice whisper back, “I love you, too.”

I’m thankful I was able to sit by your bed, hold your hand, and sing Amazing Grace to you as you left this world of pain. I wish I could have seen the look on your face when you breathed your first taste of heavenly air.

I can only imagine what it was like for you and Daddy to see each other again.

This is why it’s hard to cry. This is why it’s difficult to grieve. You are where you were born again to go.

Your faith has become sight!

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15 NLT

I’m happy for you, Momma! I’m sure there are tears of joy where you are, too.

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Filed under Life/Death, Relationships and Family

A Call to Stand the Line

There are times when I preach that I look back on what I said and wonder, “Did I do a good job? Did I mess that up? Did anyone get it?”

Other times I feel like a failure. That’s actually not as uncommon as you might think, for if a poll was taken of pastors and preachers I believe you’d find that the results would confirm most ministers feel that way a lot. I would say that there are three main reasons for that: 1) we are our worst critics; 2) we rarely see a response to our calls; and 3) spiritual attacks from the Enemy.

But then there are those times when it seems the Holy Spirit just takes control and you just become a mouthpiece. Last night (Wednesday) was one of those kind of nights. If nothing else, God poured over me a spirit of boldness and authority and I courageously spoke what needed to be said.

Therefore, I want to share a link to the church Facebook page where the study from last night was aired live. It has NOT been edited for time or content.

https://fb.watch/2hVAeb7yr-/

Last night was the last night of our study through the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and the subject was Article XVIII The Family.

My main points were that if we as Southern Baptists are going to say this is what we believe, then we should act like it. Secondly, if we truly believe what we say, then we should draw a line in the sand and declare the hill on which we will fight and die. The reason being that what we say we believe is in direct contradiction to the prevailing cultural sentiment, even our own government.

Our forefathers gave their lives to maintain doctrinal purity. They stood on principle and God’s Word when others called for them to compromise, to comply, and to cower. You’d better believe that what we could be facing with the new administration in Washington could very well test our convictions like nothing we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes.

So, what to Southern Baptists say they believe about the family? What do I believe? Well, sit back and join us for a study through the last article in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

https://fb.watch/2hVAeb7yr-/

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Filed under America, baptist, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible, Culture Wars, Defending Traditional Marriage, Family, Relationships and Family, Southern Baptist

If You Thought Friday the 13th Was Scary, Try Sunday Morning Before Church!

I’m Surviving

If you didn’t notice, today is Friday the 13th. Are you still alive, or did a maniacal, undead mask-wearer visit your un-chaperoned slumber party? The night is still young, I suppose.

Well, so far I haven’t encountered a single monster – except our little dog who came in from running around in the wet grass and jumped in the bed.

Movies

Back in the 1980s, a movie came out to spoof Friday the 13th horror films. It was called Saturday the 14th. The promo line was, “It gets bad on Friday the 13th, but it gets worse on Saturday the 14th.” …..Whatever.

Real life, however,  is far more terrifying than movies. As a matter of fact, the scariest day for any pastor comes every week. Someone should make a movie about it – a documentary. It could be called…..“Sunday Morning (before Church)”

Here’s what the announcer could say during the promo commercial…

“Forget abandoned campgrounds, haunted lakes, and dark rooms. Forget about blade-wielding criminals that won’t die. Forget about whatever goes bump in the night, requiring someone in a bathrobe and slippers to say, “Is anybody there?” All the real demons come out on Sunday morning before church….like clockwork. This is REAL!”

Reality

There is a Devil, believe me! Even if the Bible did not teach of his existence, I could take you to him, or at least one of his workers, at about 9am on any given Sunday. All I would need to summon his presence would be to ask, “Honey, where are my shoes?” I could also say something like, “How long are you going to be in the bathroom?” Any of these phrases is guaranteed to conjure something or someone.

The evidence of his presence can be seen in the items that come up missing. For instance, the Devil is regularly hiding stuff that was in total view only 8 hours before. He or his demons love to hide shoes, hairbrushes, shirts, dresses, pantyhose, lipstick, and Bibles. Occasionally, he even likes to hide the church mail that comes to the parsonage, leaving the pastor to look irresponsible.

Predictable

But thankfully, one thing’s a constant: even though Satan is real, just like in a poorly-written movie, his ways are predictable.

Unlike our God, whose “judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33), the “wiles” of the devil never deviate from his modus operandi.

The Greek word translated “wiles” in the KJV is  methodia (μεθοδεία). Essentially, it is a word made from combining  meta and hodos (“after,” and “a way”), and is used to describe what could be called “a decided plan of deception and trickery.”

Satan is a “method” actor, in other words. He plays a part – a predictable part – in trying to deceive, trick, thwart, anger, harm, and sidetrack God’s people. He follows a pattern that can be anticipated and for which preparations can be made. It’s all in the Script.

Preparing for Sunday

So, why do unseen forces attack on Sunday morning? They do it because it is the Lord’s Day. They do it because they want us to be ineffective and powerless. They know that hurting, lost, and desperate souls need to be ministered unto, many of which might be on the verge of giving up.

The forces we battle against would love to use a missing hairbrush, a wrinkled shirt, a knicked face, burnt toast, or an upset stomach to literally raise the dead – the “flesh.”  The enemy knows that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8).

Fortunately for us, all we have to do is be watchful (1 Peter 5:8), armored (Ephesians 6:11), and filled with His Spirit, the “power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). The “wiles” of the devil, his schemes, and his evil plans are no match for the God “who performeth all things for me” (Psalm 57:2).

Bonus: 6 Ways to Have a Better Sunday Morning

  1. Do all you can do to get ready for church the night before. If necessary, get ready at different times, so as not to get ticked off at children or risk being asked, “What do you think of this dress?
  2. Take different cars, even if your 10-year-old has to drive the lawnmower.
  3. Reduce dress standards/expectations so you can go to church looking like you just woke up.
  4. Put duct tape over everybody’s mouths until they get to the door of the church.
  5. Get up in the middle of the night to eat all you can so you can avoid breakfast, thereby avoiding arguing over what to eat.
  6. Become Adventist and go to church on Saturday (last resort).

If I Could Make a Movie

I do wish that I could make a movie that featured some of those evil characters in horror films. One, in particular, is the guy that comes and kills people in their dreams, Freddie Kruger. Another would be the ultimate movie villain, Count Dracula. Add to the list all the other demonic entities that send women running through the woods in high heels, only to trip on a spider web.

Just for fun, I would have all the demonic bad guys come up against a couple of praying saints, or an old preacher who’s broken-hearted and fed up with sin.

The bad guys would come against them in full force, swearing and threatening and promising all kinds of pain and suffering. Then when all hope seemed lost, right at the moment of despair, as the demoniacs were making their charge,

they’d run into a solid, unconquerable wall of Light…

the ringing sound of a massive sword being unsheathed would be heard…

terror would fill the eyes of the attackers at the sound of a Voice, saying…

These are mine!

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. – 1 John 4:4

Now, where are my clean socks? I knew I put them in the drawer…..Honey?!

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Filed under Christian Living, clothing, General Observations, Uncategorized

“In Such a Time as This…”

Let’s Begin With a Comment

A reader named Stephen decided to throw in his two cents in response to a recent post called “He Will Be My President.” Before we go any further, I’d like to share it with you.

Talk is cheap and you got a website dedicated to it.
I get the feeling it won’t take long for the hypocrite in you to come out, but you’ll justify yourself in your hypocrisy. It’s what religious people do.
Reeds in the wind, flailing about trying hard to show the world just how saved you are.
Keep working at it, your salvation is near.

If you would like to read my follow-up to Mr. Stephen’s comment, you can go to the comment section of that post. For now, I want to direct you to the video below.

A 3-Pointer

It’s not that often I preach a classic three-point sermon, but this is one I would ask you watch. The subject of the sermon this past Sunday morning was how to move forward in “such a time as this.”

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, even if they are like the one above.

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Filed under America, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Christian Living, Christian Unity, Christianity, current events, voting

Do Your Duty…Vote…or NOT!

This Tuesday will be the day we go to the polls to vote.  Unless you were one who voted early, Tuesday will be the day you should do your public duty as a citizen of the United States.  VOTE!

But WAIT!!!  Do you know what you are doing?

Do you know who you are going to vote for?  If not, why? If you go to the polls November 3rd just so you can push a few buttons, or check off a few marks, what good did you do?  If you only go to fulfill a responsibility, without knowing any details, what kind of steward of this blood-bought gift are you?  

If you don’t know the difference between liberty and liberalism, democracy and democrats, or socialism and social networking – DON’T VOTE!  Just stay home and watch Oprah or Dr. Phil.  

When others are heading to the polls that evening, just veg out while you enjoy another episode of some cake-baking, tatoo-designing, dance-off competition.

For over 200 years men and women have been shedding their blood for the freedom we enjoy.

More will die to preserve it in the future, that is, if we still have freedom to defend. If the uneducated, illiterate, uninformed and apathetic continue to vote for more government, all so that they can receive more “freebies,” not to mention tax-payer funded health care, then blood was shed in vain.

Stay at home, ye who do not know what is going on.  Stay at home, all ye who will vote simply to remove “Orange Man” from the White House.  Stay at home all ye who said “anything is better than what we have.”  

Please, for the love of God and country, STAY HOME!  

Let the people who have strong ideals go vote.  Let the mature, the concerned, the alert, the forward-looking, the reader, the listener, the active citizen (as opposed to the apathetic moocher) go vote.  We know the importance of what we are doing and take it seriously.  We can handle the responsibility…

Yes, we can!

People all over the world would, have, and will die for the opportunity to have what we have.

Take it seriously.  Make yourself a student, at least a “C” student, of what and Who made this country a “shining city on a hill.”  Read the Constitution.  Read the Bible.  Take responsibility for your own actions.  Know what the candidates truly stand for, then make a decision.  

But if you’re wondering if it’s worth taking the time to drive to the poll…if you have to watch CNN right before you walk out the door to help you decide who to vote for…please, we’ll send you a “I Voted” sticker, just stay home.  

It’s your patriotic duty.

But if you want to know what’s at stake, this will help.

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, General Observations, Uncategorized, voting, World View

I Wouldn’t Ask for More

They Did It!

Last Tuesday I told you that my daughter Katie was getting married that night. Well, despite my advice to walk away while there was still time, my Katie Bug, Katie Marie Baker, became Katie Marie Pearson.

The father and the bride

Don’t get me wrong, as I stood there alone with her behind the paper-thin walls of the tent, waiting for the moment I was to escort her out into the open for the world to see, I wasn’t expecting Katie to walk away. No, her heart and mind were made up, unchangeable, set “like a flint” to walk that aisle and say, “I do.”

And man! Did she ever!

The Vows

I have a few pictures, but I don’t want to share them with the world. What I would rather do is wait until Katie is able to share the professional photos that were taken of the wedding and reception. The only exceptions will be those you see here.

However, I do want to share with you a couple of other things, namely Gus (that’s my new son-in-law’s name) and Katie’s vows . . . and a video which we’ll get to in a moment.

In my years of pastoral ministry, I’ve performed over 200 weddings. That being said, I have never heard wedding vows more biblical and gospel-centered than the ones Gus and Katie shared. I was blown away! There was hardly any need to say anything else but “Kiss your bride.”

Therefore, if you don’t mind, I would like to share with you my daughter and son-in-law’s vows.

Gus’ Vows:

Katie Marie, from just our first few weeks working at Chick-fil-A, I knew our friendship would be a great one. Whenever I was near you, I felt a spirit of joy radiating from you, and there was no doubt where that joy comes from. God has gifted you with a joyous and bubbly personality, and it is one that I wanted to be around often. Today, I stand in front of our family and friends who have chosen to be witnesses to observe the covenant relationship I am making with you and God in marriage. I promise to spend every day I have on this earth with you dedicated and honoring this covenant we have made to each other before God. I promise to protect you and to provide for you and to trust God to do so when I cannot. I promise to love you, Katie Marie, my bride, as Christ loves us, the church, his bride. I will love you selflessly and sacrificially, and as I grow closer to Christ, my love for you will grow stronger. As the head of our household I promise to honor you as my equal in our new life together, and treat you with understanding as we begin this new journey. When hard times come, I promise to strive to exude wisdom and to point us, in our struggles, to the one that holds everything in his hands. Whether a disagreement, a concern, a crisis, that health, or anything that breaks us down, I will take it to God in prayer and seek his guidance. I promise all of these things with the hope for a future that leads us both toward Christ. It is my goal in this marriage to lead you with wisdom in the path God sets before us, and as Christ showed us by example, the best leaders are those who know how to serve. As we take the next step in our journey, I think it would be appropriate to make a reference to where it all began, and say, “Katie Marie, it will forever be my pleasure to serve you.

Katie’s Vows:

Gus, From the moment I first met you, I knew there was something in you that I wanted. You were so loving and kind and warm and welcoming to anyone, and I wanted that to be in my life every day. Today, I am standing next to you in front of all of these people so that I can enter into a covenant relationship with you and with God in marriage. I promise to uphold this covenant for all of the days and nights that I live on this earth with you. I promise to be your helper and give you my time, my energy, and my focus, even if it is limited. I promise to let you be the head of the household and submit to the authority that God has placed within you to be the priest of our home. In the moments of hurt and shattered expectations, I promise to strive in showing God’s wisdom in my actions and reactions with Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And, in the times when I strive too little, I promise to seek forgiveness. I promise all of these things with a hope for a future that leads us both toward Christ. It is my goal in this marriage to be the second violin to your first, and to trust your lead wherever you feel the need to take me.

What more would make me happy? That both of them had great incomes, perfect health, huge houses in which my wife and I could take up a room when we get old?

Honestly, if they keep their vows – and I’m pretty sure they will – I wouldn’t ask for anything more than that.

The father of the bride with Haley, the youngest daughter of the father of the bride 🙂
The oldest daughter of the father of the bride (Alicia), along with the bride and the granddaughter of the grandfather who’s the father of the bride (Emma).

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Filed under Family, History, Marriage, Relationships and Family

Just Return; He’s Looking for You!

This afternoon I did a live video on Facebook.

I normally do one, a short “Encouragement Time,” every weekday around 2pm.

The subject of today’s video was that of the prodigal son in Luke 15.


You know, I’m not perfect. Are you? Do you ever do things you’re ashamed of?

Do you ever sin? I do. I know perfectly well what it’s like to wonder whether God even wants to hear you confess and repent. I mean, really, hasn’t He heard it all before?

But the story Jesus tells of the Prodigal is one that displays the wondrous love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of the Father. Yes, the story is really more about Him than the wayward, muddy, starving son.

When the young man reached his lowest point, there in a hog lot, starving and alone, he remembered the goodness of his father.

When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.'” – Luke 15:17-19 CSB

Because he had already spent his inheritance (he thought), and since he had treated his own father like he was dead, there was no reason to expect a “Welcome home!” However, he knew his father’s slaves had it better than what he had – which was nothing and no one. He’d have to take his chances.

So, when the broken and filthy young man returns, the reception he receives is more than he could have ever hoped for. Already looking for him, the father spots his son on the horizon and runs to him! No doubt expecting the worst, the son falls on his face and attempts to make the case for indentured servitude. Maybe this would keep his father from killing him outright.

Humble, prostrate in the dirt, not even looking up to see the tears in his father’s eyes, he expects – or rather hopes for – the customary foot upon his neck, the accepted symbol of becoming a slave. But, instead…

…the feeling of a bristly beard upon his ear…

…an arm on his back…

…a rough palm cradling the other side of his head…

…and tear-drenched kisses?? Not the sole of a sandal? KISSES! Yes, kisses on his neck!

More joyful to receive his son back home than determined to reclaim his honor, the exuberant father drowns out the pitiful son’s pleas and cries out, “My son has come home!”

Instead of putting his foot on the boy’s neck, the father had humbled himself and descended to the place where his lowly child lay in the dirt. Instead of justice, He showed mercy.

And then Amazing Grace called out for a party!

God is the Father. You and I are the Prodigal. No matter how far we’ve drifted or run, He is still looking and waiting.

Let’s go home.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Family, God, grace, Love of God, Relationships and Family

Act Like Heavenites, Not Like the World

For some reason, although I have my suspicions, the audio from Sunday morning’s sermon never reached the online viewers. Therefore, last night I went back to the church and re-preached what I preached Sunday morning . . . sorta.

I will share the link with you.

(btw, that’s a vintage ’70s Lucerne Jump Date on my wrist 😉 )

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Christian Living, Preaching