Category Archives: Christian Living

It’s Been 25 Years!

Dearly Beloved,

We are gathered here, today, to celebrate on this world-famous blog the twenty-fifth anniversary of the union of Anthony Baker and Valerie Riddle. 

That’s right, it’s been 25 years today!

Unfortunately, nothing fantastic has been planned (couldn’t be afforded), but the simple fact that a couple staying together for twenty five years, especially these days, is fantastic beyond measure!

So, to my wife, Valerie, I look forward to many, many more years with you…years even more wonderful than before. I can’t imagine what the next 25 years would be like without you.

With Valerie and me in this picture are my late grandparents, Lee Roy and Lorene Cagle.

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Filed under Marriage, Relationships and Family

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

Happy Father’s Day!

There is a portrait of my family hanging in our living room with the following verse written below it.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15 KJV

There is a lot to be said about a father who will say such things. There’s a lot to be said about a father who won’t.

Tuff Stuff

I want to share with you a list I found in a sermon by a Wesleyan pastor, Bruce Howell. I don’t know if he came up with it or if he found it somewhere else. All I know is that it is convicting.

There will be a lot of people talking about how to be a better dad, but if you want to know how to fail, here are 10 sure-fire ways to screw up.

Ten Ways to Fail As a Father

1. Have fights in front of your children. Then when guests come, turn around and act affectionate toward one another.
2. Stifle your children’squestions by saying, “Don’t bother me now; I’m busy.”
3. Take no interest in your children’s friends. Let them run around with whomever they choose.
4. Never discipline your children; try to use psychology instead.
5. Nag them about their schoolwork; never compliment them on their achievements.
6. Demonstrate your love for them with material things. Give them everything their little hearts desire.
7. Never discuss the facts of life with them. Instead, let them learn about sex from their friends, public school, or pornographic literature.
8. Set a bad example so the children will not want to grow up to be like you.
9. Absolutely refuse to believe it if you are told that your children have done something wrong.
10. Let your children make their own choices in the matter of religion. Be careful not to influence them in any way.

Help us, Father God, to be more like you.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Parenting, Relationships and Family

“One Man’s Sunset; Another Man’s Dawn”

I wrote the following post in June 2011. On June 11, 1991, my father passed away. The following week was Father’s Day, and it was tough.

I repost this, again, in his memory.


Over a two-week period, just over 20 years ago, things started to get a little weird.

I can’t recall all of the moments that led up to me concluding something bad was going to happen, but a couple stand out above the rest.

The Revival Service

It was in June of 1991. The church that I attended was having a week-long series of meetings. My mother and father did not attend the same church as I did, but on the last night of the revival, which was a Friday, my dad came. The evangelist preached on heaven that night and said something that hit me like a brick. He said, “Heaven will never be real to you until there is someone there you want to go see.”

The Movie

In that very same week, my family went to see a movie. It was a new animated film called An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. In one particular scene, an old hound dog, the retiring sheriff, sat watching a sunset with the little mouse, Fievel. The legendary actor, Jimmy Stewart, speaking as Wylie Burp, said to Fievel,

“Just remember, Fievel – one man’s sunset is another man’s dawn. I don’t know what’s out there beyond those hills. But if you ride yonder… head up, eyes steady, heart open… I think one day you’ll find that you’re the hero you’ve been looking for.” – Wylie Burp

The moment he said, “one man’s sunset is another man’s dawn,” I felt a chill and a heaviness that took my breath. I knew my dawn was coming.

Sunset

Early on Monday morning, June 11, 1991, while working 3rd shift as a security guard in a high-security nuclear facility, my dad felt sick. He asked a cleaning person which bathroom was clean, then went in, took off his gun belt, bent over a sink, and died.

It had only been since Friday the 8th that I had heard that message about heaven. That Monday was when heaven became more real than I could have ever imagined. My dad, Terry L. Baker, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He surrendered his badge, took off his gun belt, and laid down – literally.

Dawn

As the sun rose over the horizon, I sped my Datsun 280Z toward the hospital. When I got there, I asked for my dad, but was led to a room where my mother was sitting. In a sobbing cry, she looked up to me and held out a little plastic bag containing my father’s personal items. She said, “This is all I have left…” That was the exact moment when I found out. That was the exact moment it became dawn.

It may have been my dawn, but it was one of the darkest moments in my life. My dad and I were terribly close. We worked together, played together, worshiped together, and preached together. In the week before my daddy died, I went up to him and told him that I really felt like something was going to happen. He told me that he would outlive my grandchildren. But in case he didn’t, I had to make sure of one thing – would I preach his funeral?

The Funeral

Some people could not understand how I did it, but I did preach my dad’s funeral. You see, I was 24, but I had accepted the call to preach when I was 16. My dad had been a pastor, a lay preacher for years. It may have been just guy talk at the time, but in a moment of male-bonding, my dad and I agreed that whoever died first, for whatever reason, the other would preach the funeral. That is why I asked my dad that question. I needed to be sure he was serious. His response was, “Of course. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” So I did.

My dad presided over a lot of funerals, and he even carried in his Bible a sermon that he used more often than not. The title of the sermon was “The Times I Need Him Most.” So, from his own Bible, from his own outline, I preached his funeral. And unlike I usually do today, I even gave an altar call. Believe it or not, right there to my left, beside the casket, a friend of the family came down to the altar and asked Jesus to come into his life. Never once had my dad led a person to the Lord when he preached a funeral sermon, but this time was different.

The Family Car

There will always be those who think the following is crazy; only coincidence: but God showed up in the limousine as we went to the graveyard. As soon as I got into the car, I asked the driver, who was a Christian friend, to turn the radio on. I wanted to hear some encouraging music. When he did, the DJ on WAY FM out of Nashville played a song by Wayne Watson, The Ultimate Healing. Right after that, the DJ came on the air and said, “I know we usually have songs pre-planned according to a particular format, but I just really feel led by God to play this next song – I don’t know why.”  The song was Where There is Faith, by 4Him. The second verse goes like this:

There’s a man across the sea
Never heard the sound of freedom ring
Only in his dreams
There’s a lady dressed in black
In a motorcade of Cadillacs
Daddy’s not coming back
Our hearts begin to fall
And our stability grows weak
But Jesus meets our needs if only we believe

CHORUS
Where there is faith
There is a voice calling, keep walking
You’re not alone in this world
Where there is faith
There is a peace like a child sleeping
Hope everlasting in He who is able to
Bear every burden, to heal every hurt in my heart
It is a wonderful, powerful place
Where there is faith

Today

Today I went to the grave where my father’s body is waiting for a trumpet to sound. I am comforted by the fact one day we will see each other again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But in the meantime, I must carry on in the task that I have been called to do.

I went to the grave, and even though I know my dad is not there, I read Proverbs 4 aloud. What better words could have been said in remembrance of a committed, consistent, caring, God-fearing, humble father? They were words that I wanted to say out loud because they were being fulfilled.

“He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget [it] not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.” – Prov. 4:4-5

“Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. … Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. … My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. … Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:10-11, 14, 20-21, 25-27

Dad, I just want you to know that I am still in the fight. I haven’t given up. I wasn’t a fly-by-night wannabe, but a real man of God. My Sword is still sharp. My aim is still true. I even have some “arrows” in my quiver that you will meet one day.

Don’t worry, even though I know you won’t – I will keep pressing on and fighting the good fight, until the time of my own sunset. Then, when this life is over, I hope I can stand there beside you when Jesus says to you, “Well done.” You did good, Daddy. I’ll make you proud.

Your loving son,

Rev. Anthony C. Baker

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Filed under Future, Preaching, Relationships and Family, salvation, Uncategorized

A Thought for Monday

Today is Monday, but you’ve probably figured that out, haven’t you?

Coffee always helps.

Coffee always helps.

How did you wake up? Was it with a sense of dread? Instead of turning off the alarm clock that woke you up, did you strike it like a mosquito that had been buzzing around your head for an hour?

I don’t like Mondays any more than you. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that an iPhone is so expensive, I’d thrown mine across the room already. That snooze alarm can be soooooo annoying!

However, the Psalmist (David) says…

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 

Today…this Monday…every Monday…this is the day which the Lord has made. As a matter of fact, He has made every day. So, what will we do? Will we bemoan the blessing of waking up? Will we cry “foul” even before we enter the game? Will we start the day with the expectation that Monday will be like every other Monday?

This day was made by God. He knows what He is doing. Nothing will come our way that God is not already planning to use for our good – for those who love Him.

Today you may face a storm that leaves you feeling abandoned by God. You may feel like the disciples who were out on the Sea of Galilee all night fighting winds and waves. You may think that your Savior has forgotten you. Just remember that even in the worst storm, on the worst day, Jesus knows where you are. When the time is right you might even get an invitation to surf the waves of adversity (Matthew 14:27).

So, rejoice! Be glad! Seize the day! It’s been custom-made for you!

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Filed under Christian Living, current events, Faith, God, Life Lessons, worship

What Kind of Friend Are You?

Do you consider yourself to be a good friend? What makes a good friend? More than that, what makes a real, true friend? I believe there is a difference.

A Good Friend

Good friends are the ones you have over to watch a ball game, but don’t worry if the house is messy. He’s the type of friend that you don’t mind bringing along to dinner with the family. She’s the one with whom you don’t mind sharing your gripes and complaints, like when your spouse ticks you off, or your co-worker make you jealous.

A good friend is one that remembers to invite you to a birthday party, a movie, or loans you a pick-up truck to move a piano (God bless’em). They’re the type of friends you get along with, even though you may have different tastes or opinions. You care about each other and say things like, “If you need anything, just let me know.”

Job had Good Friends

Job (as in the Bible, not to be confused with Steve) had some good friends. Really, they were not that bad. Just look at how they acted when they saw Job after the tragedies came about.

And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.” – Job 2:12-13 NKJV

Obviously, his friends cared enough about him to break down into tears at the sight of his brokenness. They were good enough friends to even tear their clothes, sit down with him on the ground, and weep with him for seven days. They even cared enough to keep silent seven days so Job could pour his heart out in grief. They were good friends.

Superficial Friends

If the friends of Job had only been the partying type, do you think they would have come to see him after hearing of his loss? No, if they had only been superficial friends, they would have stayed far away from Job and his problems. They would have said, “Oh, that’s so sad…we should send him a Hallmark card…Honey, where are my keys?…I’m going to be late to the gym.”

Religious Friends

Anyone who goes to church has these. Religious friends are the ones who always have a smile and a warm handshake, but never really want to hear about your life. These type of people give a bad name to church folk. Have you ever met any? If you have, you know. They ask, “How are you doing today?” Then, just as you start to give a response they say, “Great, great…love your heart…well, I’ll be praying for you, honey, don’t you worry.” Riiight.

User Friends

This is not a scientific assessment of friendship types, but sometimes I think most friends are only users. When you stop and think about it, how many friends would you have if you had nothing to offer? At least Job’s friends weren’t users. They came around when Job had nothing to offer but tears. They came to offer him something – if only judgmental advice.

True Friends

This may only be my definition, but I think it is a good one:  A real, true friend is one who lets you cuss, spit, and even question God when times are tough. A real, true friend is one who will not only cry with you when you hurt, but stand there by your side as you kick the furniture, throw the dishes, slam the door, or even ask, “Why?!

The truest test of real friendship is how he/she responds when you say things you may regret. This is where Job’s friends fell behind.

Job came to the point where he “cursed the day he was born,” and asked God, “What have I done to you? Why have you made me a target?” Job literally became suicidal and terribly depressed as he struggled with trying to understand the reason for his troubles. But instead of keeping quite, or simply saying, “It will be OK, Job,” his friends started accusing him of wrongdoing. They blamed him for the trouble he was enduring, even though they had no proof. All they could do was pour salt on his wounds.

When Job cussed and spit, these friends said things like, “How long will you speak these things, and the words of your mouth be like a bunch of wind (Job 8:2)?” They called his painful rants “empty talk” and “vain words” which proved he deserved God’s judgment.

A real friend will let you expose your pain in ugly ways, with ugly words. Job’s friends should have understood that his words were spoken in grief. They should have understood that sometimes we say things we don’t mean when we are hurting, but need to say them, anyway. A real friend would have taken it, listened, and given only kind words of encouragement.

To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, Even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” – Job 6:14 NKJV

If you know someone who is going through a tough time, don’t be judgmental – just love them. Even if they say things that are wrong, even vulgar, let God be the Judge – you just love them.

Job had to answer to God for the things he said, but the only ones who incurred the wrath of God were Eliphaz and his cohorts (42:7). As I see it, God understood Job, but He found no excuse for the response of his self-righteous friends.

Don’t just be a good friend – be a real friend. You may wish you had one, someday.

  • Friends (anotherchristianblog.org)

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Do not judge, legalism, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized

Don’t Give Up On Her Yet

Some people want to say that America has seen her best days. Some want to say that God is done with America.  Some want to give up hope that this nation can ever see a revival of morality and a return to its founding principles.  Some Christians say that we should just abandon ship and only focus on the Ship of Zion.  Well, if America is “going to h*** in a hand-basket,” then we need to do what only a people with a will can do…get out of the basket!

To be able to elect who we want to lead our country is an unbelievable privilege.  Just stop and think about it.  How many countries have come and gone which had a form of government which was set up to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people?”  How many billions live in subjection this very moment to a dictator or tyrant, or even a king?  We have been given a sacred treasure in our Constitution, one which was purchased with the lives, fortunes, and sacred honor of our founding forefathers.  Are we to treat such a priceless gift with flippancy and disrespect?  I hope not, but so many do.

Don’t give up on America, guys.  The journey is not over. This nation is not like all of the ones which have come and gone.  We are unique in our founding, our foundations, and our Founders.  The United States is not like any nation before it, and there is none like it today.  We have the rarest of abilities in that WE can decide who will lead us.  WE can decide what laws we will accept.  WE can decide the moral direction of this nation, for WE are the power and the authority to whom our leaders are accountable.  God, through His providence, allowed our founding fathers to create a Constitution which spells out the divinely given rights of the people, not of kings.  WE ratified our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  WE elect those to whom WE give the authority to govern.  WE can decide when enough is ENOUGH.

God-fearing men and women forged an uncharted, untravelled path when they chose to wade through the pain and suffering of building America.  They fought for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  The took what was NOT and brought it into BEING.  What is NOT right now, can BE AGAIN.  All it will take is the same level of sacrifice that our forefathers were willing to give.  The United States, “one nation under God,” does not have to cease to exist, or continue to decline….WE can decide right now that WE will begin again as WE did before, so help us God.

What is the answer?  Revival.

The reason we need revival can be found in Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”  Are the righteous in authority?  They could be.  They should be.  Otherwise the people will mourn.

Who are the ones in authority?  Well, in one sense, it is people like our President, or our congressmen, senators, or judges.  The context of this verse of Scripture would definitely imply that.  But, again, America is different.  We the people have no king or dictator.  No princes rule over us.  We are ruled by Law.  We are self-governed.  WE are in authority.  So the question then is this:  Are the people of the United States righteous?  The answer to that has to be an unquestionable “no.”  If the government, then, is of the people, and if the people are wicked, the nation will mourn, not rejoice.

Turn, therefore, oh citizens of this great land.  Turn back to the paths from which you have strayed; to the paths hewn from the wilderness by honorable, moral, God-fearing men and women.  Walk in those paths and follow in the footsteps of those like Washington and Lincoln.  We don’t need to see every man and woman in the country turn to Christ as their Savior.  Not every founding father was aborn-again Christian.  However, the overwhelming majority were men and women who knew that this great nation did not come about by chance, nor simply by the strength of men, but by the Providence of a guiding Hand.  Turn, therefore, back to the God that brought this nation into being, and can just as easily revive it from the dust heap of irrelevance. “WE THE PEOPLE” are in authority, so WE need to get our act together and elect men and women who will do what a righteous people demand.  It can start with just a few.  It can start with YOU.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

(4th verse, National Anthem)

P.S. For all of you who doubt that the founding of this nation was based on the faith of Christianity, please refer to the above verse, and the comments from the Supreme Court in The Church of the Holy Trinity vs. The United States, 1892.  Oh, how far we have come.

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Filed under America, Christian Living, voting, World View

Things I Wish You Knew about Me

Awards

I was scrolling through some older posts and came across the one you are reading right now (that’s freaky, isn’t it?). It was a post about getting awards from other bloggers, but then having to nominate a bunch of other bloggers to make it all official.

What I said back then is still true today… that’s too much work for an award, don’t you think?

very-inspiring-blogger-awardSeriously, what other kind of award demands that in order to receive it you’ve got to nominate 10 others? Can you imagine an Oscar winner being handed the statue, but before it exchanged hands the winner had to nominate 10 other actors? Can you imagine the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize having to nominate 10 others before receiving his mostly undeserved, politically motivated award money?

Honestly, there are many blogs better than mine (your’s is probably one of them). If I deserve an award, they all do.

Things Heretofore Unknown

Another requirement of many blogging awards is that the recipient list 8 or 10 things heretofore unknown (things you didn’t know about the blogger).  But as I began thinking about a list like that, a mental image of a creepy identity thief came to mind.

So, I’m gonna do something a little different. I am going to list 10 things about myself that I wish were true.

In other words, I wish the following list would rise up and wake me out of my slumber, smack me in the face, and say, “You da man!

10 Things about Myself (I Wish Were True)

  1. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face.
  2. I am fluent in three biblical languages, not including KJV.
  3. I love all forms of exercise, including running, mountain climbing, skydiving, and especially curling (the Winter Olympic version of shuffle board).
  4. I have every sermon planned in advance, outlined and alliterated, filled with perfect illustrations, by Friday night each week…6 months in advance.
  5. I never lose my temper.
  6. I handle all the finances in our household, never make a late payment, and never have to ask my wife for advice.
  7. I love cottage cheese.
  8. George W. Bush once asked to speak with me about some personal matters, but I referred him to Billy Graham, being that I already had a date planned with my wife.
  9. My book is on the New York Times best-seller list.
  10. I never sin.

The Worthy One

When I consider the above list one things stands out to me more than anything: I’m not perfect. But hey, I don’t claim to be, either. I mess up, get angry, act out of pride and my own self-interests, and generally fall short in every list I create. In short, I’m a sinner.

But even though I am a sinner, I have a Savior. And because of His mercy and love, the kind of love that took what I deserved and carried it all the way to Calvary, I echo the words to a wonderful song, “Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be to You the only wise King.

I may receive a few awards, but one day I will lay every accolade, every award,every trophy, every crown at Jesus’ feet. He is the One who really deserves them.

If you never know anything else about me, I hope you know I love Jesus.


Note: For some reason I haven’t received anymore blogger awards since I first wrote this back in April of 2014. Wonder why? 😦

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, God, Love of God, worship