Category Archives: Christian Living

Tips for Beautiful Feet

My Bare Feet

Alicia, our oldest daughter, commented on Facebook to a lady in our church, “That’s a confident man posting pictures of his feet!!!!” And she’s correct.

There are other aspects of my body image of which I’m not too proud. For example, before I cringed at the weight blinking at me on my new scale, I had to lean over the energy reserve I’ve accumulated over many years.

But when it comes to my feet, even my lovely wife and daughters are jealous. I’m not even joking. They have to worry about callouses, the hair on their toes, missing toenails (due to a tractor accident), and whether or not the color of the polish matches their shoes.

My feet are just beautiful (handsome) the way they are. I don’t even need to keep them moisturized; they’re naturally baby-soft.

Beauty Tips

But if you are the type that needs special help to keep your feet looking beautiful, here are four simple beauty tips that will keep the podiatrist away:

  1. Soak them periodically. Not too long, or they will end up dry and cracked.
  2. Exfoliate once a week. Remove dead skin cells with abrasives.
  3. Wear proper shoes. Improper shoes contribute to body aches and sore feet.
  4. Don’t walk in the dark without a flashlight. A badly-stumped toe can not only ruin your day but lead to life-long issues.

Some people aren’t blessed with naturally healthy, attractive, baby-soft feet, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to achieve beautiful results.

Preaching Feet

Some of you could care less about your feet. You probably don’t even care if they stink, have nails poking through your socks, or leave painful abrasions on your spouse in the middle of the night.

But what about preachers? Are you a preacher? If you are a Christian, and if you are one that cares about telling others about Jesus, then yes, you are! What does Scripture say about your feet?

“… as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:15b

If you are preaching the gospel, sharing your faith with the lost, your feet are already beautiful! “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings . . . that sayeth unto Zion, ‘Thy God reigneth!'” (Isaiah 52:7).

However, when you walk around a lot, especially in this world, your feet will need some attention in order to stay beautiful. Here are four simple beauty tips that will keep you in tippytoe-top shape for tiding telling.

  1. Soak them periodically.
    [When thou saidst], Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. – Psa. 27:8
    My heart heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” – NLT
  2. Exfoliate once a week.
    Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. – Psa. 57:1
  3. Wear the proper shoes.
    And [have] your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; – Eph. 6:15
  4. Don’t walk in the dark without a light.
    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. – Psa. 119:105

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'I toed you so.'Just remember, lots of people are counting on you being able to get around. Those longing for the Good News will think even the most unattractive feet are beautiful when you “bring glad tidings of good things.”

But if you don’t take advantage of the above beauty tips, not only will you feel self-conscious and shy, but your mistreated, crusty, aching, bruised feet will keep you at home when you should “go tell it on the mountain.”

Don’t be pedi-ful. Be beautiful!


Note: Middle-aged foot model looking for work. Goes by the professional name of Arch Healy.

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Filed under Christian Living, fitness, Humor, ministry

I Love to Tell THE Story (w/Benny Berry)

It was 2012

Back in 2012, I was the pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Lookout Valley, TN. I was there from August of 2008 to October of 2016.

It was a mixed bag of good, bad, joyful, and tragic. During that year I was neck-deep in finishing my master’s degree, driving a school bus, preaching 3 different sermons a week, and dealing with a sick wife. What’s more, things were happening underneath the radar that would nearly destroy my family and cost my youngest daughter her life.

I don’t know why I am telling you this right now, because it has very little to do with what I wanted to do when I sat down. Actually, all I wanted to do was give a little context to a video I was going to link. However, it just seems like the words I’m typing are being guided. Maybe they’re just what’s on my heart and I need to get them off. I don’t know.

While I was pastor at Riverside, some very bad things happened (hopefully, one day, I’ll have the freedom to share more details). But one of the most painful aspects was finding out – at least being accused – that if I had not been spending so much time studying and working I might have been a better and more attentive father… The one making that accusation was evil and simply trying to make excuses for his own actions.

Yet, in some ways, it was true, which is what makes it painful. I was focused on trying to do things FOR the family and missed some critical times WITH the family. Since then, there has been forgiveness, but scars remain. Thankfully, I serve a God who can even work miracles with scars. He has some too, you know.

Like I said, I didn’t plan on writing this, but somebody evidently needs to read it. Your #1 ministry is your family, not your community, your job, or your church. There is no success in life, whether it be earning millions or having the largest congregation, that is worth losing your children to the enemy. Let me help you put things in order:

  1. God (your personal relationship with Jesus and your obedience to the will of God)
  2. Family
    1. Your spouse
    2. Your children
  3. Providing for your family (i.e., career, vocational ministry, etc.)

If you’ll look carefully, there’s a lot NOT on that list. What about hobbies? What about community service? What about politics? What about friends?

Oh, you can have those things, but if they break the above hierarchy of priorities, you’ll one day find yourself face-down in a pillow wet with regret.

But what if you’ve already made mistakes you can’t correct? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him, and he shall bring [it] to pass. – Psalm 37:4-5

Today is a new day and the first day of the rest of your life. The race is not over, so finish well.

His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

Here’s the video I was going to share. It’s still my theme.

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Filed under Family, Relationships and Family

I’ve Got a Mighty, Mighty Friend

Tough Times

All of us are living in tough and troubling times. For some of you, the road you’re on has far more bumps and potholes than the roads of others. Yet, all of us will agree that, wherever we are, the world is not getting any better.

Times are tough, and they’re only getting tougher.

But…

But, I have a Mighty Friend who is not affected by the whims of men or the winds of time. As a matter of fact, my Friend is the One who created man and started time.

Several years ago (2007) I wrote a song for my little girls to sing. Not long ago, while doing some stuff at church, I listened to a recording of the song …and shouted…literally, I kicked up my heels, pumped my fists, waved my hands, and shouted “Praise GOD!

Maybe you need some encouragement? Just read the lyrics I have included below, and if God is your friend, don’t worry (Matthew 6:30-34).

Mighty Friend

Well I may not be as tall as a building or strong as a big ol train
I may not be as smart as a scientist doing things I can’t explain
But I know the One who made the tallest mountain and can whip up a hurricane
And the very One who invented gravity says He even knows my name.
 
Well I may not know what’s comin’ in the mornin’, or what the day may bring
Good or bad, I’m not gonna worry, ‘cause Jesus knows everything.
So I’ll do the best with what God has given me as long as there is time
‘Cause the One that got the clocks a-tick’n told me it’ll all be fine.
 
When the devil acts like a bully, putting on a scary show
Before you run away and hide in a corner there’s something you need to know
The One who spoke the world into existence is standing by your side
And if you look close the devil’s knees are shakin’ cause he knows he’ll lose the fight
 
Chorus:
Cause I’ve got a Mighty, Mighty Friend who watches over me
And He’s the Mighty, Mighty Savior who died to set me free
Well I may not be the greatest at anything, but this one thing is so
The God that is the greatest at everything loves me, this I know.
 

© 2007, Anthony C. Baker (BMI)

Katie is going to hate me for doing this…

…but I am going to include the recording I was talking about. This was recorded back when she (Katie, the one on the far left) was only 10 or 11 years-old. It’s not Nashville quality, but it’s precious. So, as so many people say before they sing in church, “Don’t listen to how we sing, just listen to the words.”

“Mighty Friend”

Katie, Valerie, Alicia, and Haley

 

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Filed under Faith, God, music, Relationships and Family

Adultery and Saints: What Ephesians 5 Says

Credit: Unknown

A word of advice:

When you pound the pulpit, make sure your fist splashes in tears.

That’s the way I felt this past Sunday when I preached a difficult sermon on adultery. I had to “pound the pulpit,” but my heart was broken for those who really need to repent.

You see, I know that there are those of us who’ve been affected by unfaithfulness or been unfaithful. Maybe you’ve even experienced the pain and devastation that divorce brings.

Some of you reading this have stumbled, fallen, and now would do anything to turn back the clock and erase the steps you took that led to failed relationships. If you could go back, you’d never be the “prodigal.”

You are not the primary audience for this sermon.

No, this sermon is mainly meant for those who think sexual sin is just something natural, excusable, and no big deal. Most importantly, t’s a wake-up call to those who may have been deceived into thinking their eternity is secure.

It’s a sermon that I hope God will use not only to restore some wounded relationships, but open the blinded eyes of the lost to the Light of salvation.

Listen and Share

I’m so tired of seeing marriages fail, people hurt, and children suffer. It doesn’t have to be!

I’d like to invite you to listen to the sermon I preached this past Sunday (Feb. 16, 2020) at Bethlehem Baptist Church. I hope it will encourage you to strengthen what you have, avoid temptation, and, if you feel inclined, examine your relationship with Jesus Christ.

And, if it’s a blessing to you, share it with someone.

To listen, click the “Sermon Audio” box, or just click HERE for “Adultery and Saints: What Ephesians 5 Says.” 


Oh, one last thing! … If you make it all the way to the end of the recording, you’ll get to hear my wife admit to the whole congregation that she needs to be a better wife! 🙂  No joke!

And I didn’t know it was coming!

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Filed under Culture Wars, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Divorce, Family, Marriage, Relationships and Family

An Addiction Or Tool? Would Cigarettes Be Safer?

I didn’t think of the cigarette part until I started writing the title, but it’s an honest question worth exploring.

Is there one addiction more dangerous than another? Of course. Honestly, cigarettes would kill me sooner than cancer from my phone.

The point that I want to make this morning is that I think I might be addicted to my cell phone. And if I am, then admitting it to the world is a good way to overcome it.

Hello, my name is Anthony. I’m an iPhonaholic. I think.

Official Terms and Stats

OK, so let’s look at what the professionals have to say. When I did a quick google search of “what do you call someone addicted to looking at their phone?”, I discovered that much of the research and writing that popped up was several years old. Even the most recent professional articles referenced research that was done as far back as 2008.

The official term, nomophobia, was derived from combining “no mo-bile” with phobia (irrational fear). Simply defined, nomophobia is “an extreme fear of not having your phone or not being able to use it.”

Since this is not an official research paper, and I don’t really want to get into the work of sourcing everything I read, just google what I did and you can find it all. But when it comes to the numbers, they are pretty disturbing.

  • In the original 2008 UK study that coined the term nomophobia, 57% of men and 47% of women suffered mobile phone anxiety.
  • In another study of college students (2013), 64% were at risk of developing nomophobia, while 77% checked their phones at least 35 times per day.
  • A 2010 study showed that 61% of adults check their phones first thing in the morning.
  • In 2014 it was observed that with college students there was a correlation between low GPA’s and frequent cell phone usage.

If you are reading this and wondering, “Do I have nomophobia?”, then social psychologists at Iowa State University have put together a 20-item questionnaire meant to help you self-diagnose. Now, this, too, was from several years ago, so I don’t know if anything has changed. But if you’re like me, we’ve got problems.

Not So Fast

But on the other hand, back in 2015 Brian Fung, a reporter with the Washington Post, questioned the legitimacy of equating nomophobia with ” real, clinical addictions.” Fung argues that true addictions and disabling phobias generally affect only 10 to 12 percent of the population, so, cellphone “addiction” might not be as bad as described.

And let’s think about this… Before there were cell phones, how did we stay in contact? We had pay phones, didn’t we? And before we had Waze or Google Maps, how did we find our directions to destinations? We either used maps or wrote down directions. Yet, where are the pay phones these days? Have you tried to buy a map, lately?

Before there were cell phones, business was conducted over land lines, desktop computers, in stores, and on paper. Nowadays, as you know, business, shopping, and even legal documents have  been adapted to mobile devices. And what’s more, a lot of our daily activities now require we have a cell phone, or the immediacy of the transaction demands it.

As one researcher rightfully noted, the increased usage of cell phones may not be the result of increasing addiction as much as it is the increased demand put on individuals by the culture and evolving economy.

But We Can Do Better

So, back to the original assertion that I have an addiction… Do I? Probably not, at least not in a clinical sense.

Am I going to give up my iPhone? No. Do I go to bed with it and wake up with it? Yes, because it has replaced my clock and my alarm and the “white noise” app helps me sleep.

But do I look at it too much? Are my daily “pick ups” excessive? Am I comforted by feeling of the phone in my left hand? Do I reach for my phone at the first sense of boredom? Do I panic if I leave home without it? Do I take it with me to the shower? Is it the first thing I look at when I open my eyes in the morning and the last thing I look at before i go to sleep?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes.

SO…

Below are MY stats from this morning and last week. Are you willing to share yours?

This Monday morning, with Sunday’s stat’s setting the average.

Last week’s average per day, along with a breakdown of what I viewed.

The average number of pickups per day – 74.

Let’s come back to this next Monday and see what changes can be made. I will not quit using my phone, but I am going to try to lower the screen time stats and change what is most commonly viewed.

Would you like to post something like this and join me? 

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, fitness

Unrepentant Adultery and the Christian: Can the Two Co-Exist?

Gotta Say It

Have you ever been in a room full of people… maybe even a few… and they were talking about something… something you’re passionate about… and they were either arrogantly boasting like they knew what they were talking about,  or they were talking like there were no answers to the subject at hand… or, even worse, they were completely off their rocker with their conclusions?

And, if you’ve ever been in a room like that, have you ever gotten fed up to the point where you couldn’t take it anymore, stood up in your chair, and belted out, “OK, I gotta say something!”?

Well, that’s what I’m doing right now…

I’ve gotta say something.

Good and Bad

Today is Valentine’s Day (happy Valentine’s Day to you). It’s a day that, for me, always comes with a mixed bag of emotions and thoughts. For one, I’m glad we have a day that promotes the good things about being “in love” and the valuing of other people, especially women. For the record, it’s a holiday that is banned in several Muslim countries, including the Muslim districts of others, all because it’s considered a Christian holiday and overvalues women. Think about that for a second.

On the other hand, Valentine’s Day is rife with the stereotypical misrepresentations of true love and overflowing with encouragements to sin. And by sin, I mean fornication, adultery, lust, envy, you name it. The worst part is that it’s a day when the sexual aspects of relationships are elevated above everything else, including fidelity, trust, compassion, and selflessness.

So, it’s because of the subject matter of the day that I come to you, dear reader, to vent my frustration and hopefully offer some common sense and biblical wisdom.

Too Many

Image result for divorce imagesIf there had been only one broken relationship, only one divorce, only one potentially devastated child come to my attention in the last couple of weeks, that would still be too many. Yet, just this week I’m looking at several couples and families being destroyed, or potentially destroyed, by adultery and divorce.

On that note, let’s get real and ditch the nice-sounding labels and socially-palatable descriptions of sin, shall we? Married people don’t have “affairs”; they commit adultery.

The word affair makes it sound like you’ve done nothing more than go out for a walk, picked up some coffee, then – oops! – somebody flirted! But whether or not you sipped a milkshake with somebody besides your spouse; looked at porn in order to get the affirmation your wife wouldn’t give; or told yourself he’d be better off with you than his wife, so you pushed his buttons until he undid yours… it’s ALL ADULTERY.

I’m seeing too many people who call themselves Christians shacking up, playing house, competing with spouses, sharing spouses, buttering up kids that don’t belong to them, and jumping under the sheets like it’s nothing more than a workout at the gym! Folks, it’s called fornication, adultery, greed, idolatry, and, if you want to be honest, murder (because you’re killing – putting “assunder” – what God has joined together).

What’s Even Worse

And get this! As if committing adultery wasn’t bad enough, there are those out there who do these things on a regular basis, then brazenly go to a place of worship!

Think about that… they are sexually active, committing adultery, and going to church together… in public… with no shame or regret. Does it ever occur to them that they are there to worship the Savior who died to save them from the wages of sin? That He bore their pet sin on the cross?

This is the very sin of which Jesus was speaking when he told the woman about to be stoned, “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

And people wonder whether or not God is merciful! God killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5), yet they use HIS house to play house? Do they think that God approves of this?

Blind, Hardened, and Lost

Why am I writing this? Because I am sick to my stomach. I’m heartbroken. People I love are playing with fire and risking the judgment of God.

I am fearful, also, because those who are doing these things are convinced they are right with God … saved, born again, going to heaven. They have assumed their ticket for the Glory Train has been punched, that their spot is secure, nobody’s perfect, and God is going to love them, anyway. Worst comes to worse, they will deal with the consequences when they come… then, when they are ready, “He is faithful and just to cleanse them from all unrighteousness.” …which, by the way, is the sin of presumption.

Dear friend, if this is you, I fear you’ve been blinded by the Enemy, your sinful heart has been hardened, and you are most likely lost without Christ and on your way to eternal destruction.

How Can I Say That?

Right now there are some of you who are probably thinking I’m some pulpit-banging, self-righteous preacher spitting and yelling at you. You might have a picture in your mind of a red-faced, polyester-suit-wearing, hateful wingnut pointing his finger at you and yelling “sinnerrrrr!” through gritted teeth.

But I’m not; I’m weeping for you! Because somehow, somewhere, you’ve forgotten some very important facts:

  • “But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.” – Proverbs 6:32 NLT
  • “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NKJV
  • “Marriage [is] honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4
  • “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” – James 4:4

You might also be convinced that since somewhere in the past you “got saved” or “became a Christian” that even if you regularly fornicate or commit adultery, your salvation is secure. If you are referring to “eternal security,” I believe in that!

However, it’s one thing to mess up and give in to temptation, be remorseful, repent, and ask God to forgive you; but continually and willfully living in outward disobedience to God is something altogether different and is evidence you’ve never been redeemed. If you are truly a new creation, old things are passed away (2 Cor. 5:17), and what is “new” will want to “keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

The FACT, as stated in the above Scriptures, is that adulterers and adulteresses are ENEMIES OF GOD and WILL NOT inherit the kingdom of God!

In other words, those people who are not born again believers in Jesus Christ, but deceived souls whose nature has never been changed (which is evident by their unrepentant, unashamed, unabashed regular actions that fly in the face of God’s clear commands) will, unfortunately, go to hell.

Am I perfect? No. I don’t pretend to be.

Do I sin? Yes. But I regret it every time and try to avoid the next time.

Blatant rebellion is not what I’m known for; I’m not characterized by it. I have a new nature that fights with the lusts of the flesh in which I live (Rom. 7:14-25), but until this “mortality puts on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:54), the struggle will always be difficult and real. Temptations are around every corner these days.

But if you call yourself a follower of Jesus; if you know what God has said about marriage and adultery; yet, you continue in your sin, like it’s no big deal, you might do well to reexamine your salvation.

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” – 2 Corinthians 13:5 NLT

Because I care, I had to say something.

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Filed under Christianity, Family, Marriage, Relationships and Family

Jesus Is More than a Crutch!

Last night I was sifting through boxes of stuff in my office and I came across several notebooks in which I’d maintained somewhat of a diary.

I’ll be honest with you, it’s been a pretty difficult time around here, lately. Not only has my faith been tested on an hourly basis, but my own brokenness has been made clear over and over again. When I took a few minutes to flip through the pages of those old notebooks, all from over a decade ago, the truth that my broken condition is chronic became obvious.

But there was one page I found where I had written some encouraging words. However, they weren’t words of affirmation meant to build up my ego or make me feel better about myself; they were attestations to the fact that Jesus is more, so much more, than a crutch to me.

Below is a copy of the text…

You say you don’t need Jesus because you don’t need a crutch. If you don’t think you need him, then maybe you’re crippled to high for crutches.

Jesus is more than a crutch!

Throw away Jesus and take the Devil, but I choose Jesus.

Just think about it:

The Devil tries to burden me down
    -Jesus says, “Cast your cares on me.”

“Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear

The Devil wants me to sin.
    -Jesus bore my sin.

Satan will try to weaken me.
     -Jesus is my strength.

When Satan fires his arrows at me,
    -Jesus is my Shield.

In the midst of the storm
    -Jesus hides me in his hand.

Satan would see me defeated.
    -Jesus fights my battles.

Satan would have me fall into despair.
    -Jesus lifts me from the pit.

Satan would harm me.
    -Jesus will heal me.

When darkness is all around and Satan would blind me,
    -Jesus is my Light.

When Satan says, “There is no way,”
    -Jesus says, “I AM THE WAY”

When Satan says I’m guilty,
    -Jesus paid my debt.

When the Devil would lead me astray,
    -Jesus is my Shepherd.

When the Devil would watch me fall,
    -Jesus carries me.

“Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, help me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.” – Thomas A. Dorsey

He leads; He goes before; He walks beside; He holds me; He carries me; He helps me to stand; He gives me a race to run: He’s so much more than a “crutch” to me.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith, Jesus, worship, writing