Category Archives: Relationships and Family

Topics related to how we deal with the people God has placed in our lives.

Happy Birthday, Valerie!

Before I say anything else…

Before I post another, well, post…

Before I write about things that matter little to me in the big scheme of things…

Before another minute of this beautiful (and seriously rainy) day is wasted…let me say,

valerie“Happy Birthday!” to my lovely wife, Valerie (named after Valentines Day).

She is the sugar that makes my life sweet.

She is my sunshine on a cloudy day.

She is my anchor when I start to drift.

She is the unflinching lover when I don’t even love myself.

She’s cement that holds this family together.

She’s the warrior that fights on her knees.

She’s the one who regularly reminds me that there is One who has everything in control, even when I want to throw in the towel.

She’s the one who never gives up, always tries one more time, and considers “it all joy.”

I’ve not given her the life she really deserves, but I know one day God will reward her for all she sacrificed for me.

Happy birthday, Valerie! I LOVE you!


Once again I’m gonna share this video with a song I wrote several years ago just for her. I hope you enjoy it.

But please! Somebody pass this song on to a country star so I can make enough money to buy her something nice for our 25th anniversary…

seriously, I’m a starving song writer (BMI), so hook me up.

Happy Birthday, Valerie! I love you!

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under current events, music, Relationships and Family

Monday Monkey “Valentine’s Day Song” (Episode 15)

Since I couldn’t get anyone to be my actors and actresses in Wally-Mart, I decided to just draw my own music video.

A few years ago I wrote this song, Try Me, for my wife, Valerie. Tomorrow is her birthday, and the 14th is Valentine’s Day (the holiday she was named after), so I thought it would be appropriate to break out this older post (from 2012) featuring Mr. Monkey.

It is a Monday, you know.

If you’d like for me to perform this song at your next party, just give me a call 🙂

“Try Me”

Oh, by the way, my song IS protected under copyright laws, even though James Brown had a song by the same title back in the 1950’s.

 

5 Comments

Filed under General Observations, Humor, Monday Monkey, music, Relationships and Family

He Made My Day

“You Made My Day!”

Not long ago I performed a wedding service in which the whole wedding party and myself were brought to tears. Now, there were only 3 people in the room (the groom, the bride, and myself), but everyone of us were finding it difficult to keep water out of our eyes.

It was a very simple ceremony, one with no decoration, no cake, not even a tuxedo or wedding dress; just a wedding chapel, wedding rings, a man and a woman, and a pastor.

But what made this little ceremony so special was the reason behind it: the couple were getting re-married.

Long story short, they had gotten a divorce, but because of their love for their four children and the fear of how growing up in a split family might affect them, they determined to find a way to come back together. Whatever differences they had which led to their divorce were evidently able to be overcome, at least they were going to try – because they understood there were more important things than their own feelings.

As I stood there with them, I could sense the seriousness, the somber mood, and the need to go off script when it came to my normal wedding ceremony. In every wedding ceremony I conduct I always talk about how marriage is to be a reflection of God’s love for us, but I went full marriage-counselor mode/preacher this time.

As I referenced the selfless, unabashed love God displayed for us on the cross of Calvary, and how that true love, the unconditional kind, can forgive even as Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” the tears began to flow down the brides face…then mine.

With tears on everyone’s face, as I continued into the part where the vows were to be exchanged, the bride held the groom’s hands and said, “And if Jesus can forgive us for all we’ve done, we can forgive each other, too.” I literally about lost it! (I’m getting teary-eyed just typing this!)

Ryan and Catherine after getting re-married

When all was said and done, I extended my hand to thank them, saying, “I just want you to know, you made my day.”

The bride bypassed my hand and rushed me with a bear hug, then said, “No, YOU made OUR day!”

Then right before I was able to take a picture of the two as they stood on the stage, a newly re-married couple, the bride whispered to the groom, “God was here today.”

Amen to that!

He Made My Day

The fact of the matter is that even though we may make each other’s days, like I did for that couple and they did for me, God has LITERALLY made our day!

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

God doesn’t just do things for us that make us happy, therefore giving us a reason to praise Him for making our day memorable; He literally makes the day – every day – in which we live.

Think about this for just a second… the Hebrew word used in this case is in the perfect tense, meaning that the act of making the day was done, finished, once and for all completed. In other words, in God’s eyes, though it may appear to us as being as in the process of being made, it’s a done deal – finished. This is the day that the Lord has made.

Therefore, instead of worrying about the outcomes, the challenges, the twists and turns, why not rejoice in the moment, in the day, as we watch with amazement how God unfolds the gift that He has prepared for us?

I enjoyed hearing someone say, “You made my day.” I would bet God is no different. And since He knows what’s best for me, what I need, and how I can bring Him glory through my thoughts and actions in the next few hours, it will surely be a day worth remembering if I just pay attention and hold His hand.

Lord, You made my day!

3 Comments

Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Divorce, Relationships and Family, worship

Things to Do In 2019: Strengthen My Marriage

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. – Proverbs 5:18

I’ve been doing a lot of weddings lately. As a matter of fact, I probably did 20 in the last two months.

One of the things I explain to the couples before they exchange rings and say their vows is how over time, if they will endure, their marriage will become more precious than the day they say “I do.”

This June my wife and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, and believe me, we’ve experienced our share of fiery trials.

I ask the couples I marry to look at their rings and consider why the “precious metal” is precious. I ask them to consider what those rings went through in order to be shaped into the works of art they’re about to wear. Fire, forging, testing, shaping, more heat, and a lot of polishing: it was all part of what made the rings beautiful.

So why is it that so many men will throw away something as precious as a marriage tried by fire and forged in the furnaces of life for a temporary, plastic, fragile, and ultra-common shallow relationship?

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. … And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? – Proverbs 5:18, 20 

The fact is that we men (and women, too) tend to forget the value of what we actually have and get tempted by the shiny newness of what we don’t have.

Worse, we forget that the God before whose eyes we said our vows never took his gaze off of us. We have no excuses.

For a man’s ways are before the LORD’s eyes, and he considers all his paths. A wicked man’s iniquities will trap him; he will become tangled in the ropes of his own sin. – Proverbs 5:21-22 CSB

Satan hates families. Satan hates anything that mirrors the faithful love of the Lover of our souls, the Groom of the Bride – the Church. Therefore, he loves nothing better than destroying (and redefining) marriages.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. – Ephesians 5:31-33

This year, instead of taking my wife for granted, I want to spend time strengthening my marriage. I want to remind the wife of my youth that she’s more precious to me now than ever.

One reason is because my “ways are before the Lord’s eyes.”

Another reason is because the world is watching, especially my own children, and I want them to see in me a reflection of the faithful love of my Savior.

But there’s one more reason I want to strengthen my marriage… Valerie deserves it.

4 Comments

Filed under Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Family, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

Displaying Masculinity With Photos

Since it is a topic of hot debate these days, I figured I would keep the boat floating in the stream a little while longer and write a little more about the subject of masculinity.

Except today I’m going to do it from a laptop in the passenger seat behind my wife while she’s driving – it’s a long trip.

And I’m going to do with with pictures – like the one I just took of my computer before I typed this sentence 🙂

By the way, as of this moment, after nearly 10 years of blogging, I’m only at 49% of my memory limit with WordPress, so I’m not worried about the amount of photos in this post.

Anyway, I was thinking about masculinity and how it’s displayed, and that’s when I decided to search back through my phone’s photos. I thought it would be interesting to post some pictures from my life and share what I though was “masculine” or “manly” about them.

Some of these photos might fit a stereotype you don’t like. Some may make you scratch your head. But if I was to tell a young boy what it means to be a man, and if I could show him through some of my own pictures, this is what I would say.

And please understand, I’m not trying to make this all about me… I’m just making observations.

A real man is one who makes a commitment to one woman for life and remains faithful, treasures her, and makes her laugh.

Real men don’t shame their mothers; they make them proud. This is me with my mother and late grandmother who died last year. It’s called honor.

A real man is humble enough to wear a tie he doesn’t like because his wife and daughters do.

Fun. A real man has fun with his kids. He makes memories for their sake, not just his. This was during the last total solar eclipse. Awesome!

 

I love my girls. I’m proud of my girls. Both this picture and the next one are of me with my girls when I escorted them to a purity ball in Hopkinsville, KY. I know what some people think about promoting purity (abstinence), but I really don’t care – I’m a dad.

Masculine men let their daughters know they are loved, no matter what. Even if they disappoint me, I will still love them. But a real man – a masculine man – will be his daughters’ hero, protector, and defender of their honor. And no joke, their lives are more precious to me than any boy who’d hurt them. Be warned, guys – and that’s not hyperbole.

On the day that this picture was taken, we dropped Katie (the one on the right) off at college. When I got back home and walked by her empty bedroom, I cried like a baby for 30 minutes. Real men can cry when there’s a reason to cry, and that was one of them.

Nearly 6 years ago I finally earned my Master’s degree. This is my wife, all three daughters, me, and Mr. Monkey (he was an honorary graduate). I’ve still got a lot of room to improve, but a real man is one who finishes what he starts; he makes a commitment and follows through. I started college in 1986…I finally got my B.A. in 2011, my M.Min. in 2013. I’m still working on my D.Min., but I’ll get there.

This is a Ford flat head V-8. I think the essence of manhood is being able to work on something, to fix things. In my opinion, every man ought to rebuild an old engine at least one time in his life.

And speaking of working on cars, every man should teach his kids how to take care of things on their own. He should teach them how to be responsible and not always have to depend on others to fix their problems. Here I am teaching Haley how to change out a windshield wiper motor on her Acura.

You can be a real man and remain calm, cool, and collected when teaching your children how to drive. A masculine man doesn’t have to lose his cool.

There are cowards and criminals who use guns. But here in America, a masculine man isn’t afraid to teach his daughters how to shoot, even a Colt .357 Magnum revolver. My girls prefer a man who likes the smell of gunpowder and has wrists at least as strong as theirs 😉 2nd Amendment all the way in this house.

 

Real men, masculine men, admit their fears, but then they do what needs to be done – like getting on a roof to tar leaking shingles.

 

I think a good sign of masculinity is being able to handle big machinery. An added sign of masculinity is being able to teach others how to handle big machinery without getting killed or killing others. This is me at the bus garage one summer while training new drivers.

Not the best picture, but this is me in uniform as a chaplain for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. My definition of a real man, a real leader, a masculine man, includes being a servant. This is a voluntary role, but a needed one. Those who put their lives on the line for us need people to have their backs, too.

Masculinity is not devoid of humility and meekness. This was during a VBS when I agreed to let kids who won a contest treat me like an ice cream sundae. The cherry on the top was a literal cherry on the top.

Masculine men don’t avoid going to the doctor when they need to, but they don’t act like babies, either. Real men – masculine men – keep a “stiff upper lip” and do their best to keep others encouraged, even when they might be scared themselves.

This is me in Zimbabwe with Mr. Monkey. Real men, masculine men, aren’t too proud to get down in the dirt to put a smile on a child’s face.

Real men, masculine men, treat all of God’s creatures with respect and care. This is Nugget and me (Nugget went missing a couple of years ago and I still miss him). He always looked forward to going out on Saturdays for coffee and a treat from Hardee’s or McDonald’s.

Real men should at least try to grow a beard at least once. It’s a right that none should deny, even to non-Calvinists. But being masculine doesn’t mean you should let small woodland creatures take up residence on your face.

It takes a real man to get into a cold lake to baptize somebody. Of course, it takes a real man to be willing to be dunked in the cold water, too! But on a different note, in many places getting baptized in public can cost you everything. Therefore, this wasn’t as big a deal for me and this brother as it is for others. Good to keep things in perspective.

Katie and I recorded a video on Facebook Live. We played “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.” I don’t know what’s exactly masculine or manly about this, but standing in a public park playing hymns takes nerve these days.

This was from Jan. 16 of this year…from when I took the stage with Katie for her final song of her senior recital. All I can say is that I must have done something right to have been asked by my daughter to step on stage during a formal recital at a university and play guitar for her. A real man doesn’t make his kids ashamed of him but earns their respect.

Masculinity demands that a man take charge and kill the bugs. The women folk shouldn’t have to. That includes carpenter bees trying to destroy the house. The face of a warrior.

Masculine men aren’t afraid to have friends, especially the kind who keep him accountable – iron sharpens iron. This is me with two of my blogger brothers, James Neff and Wally Fry. Real men. True friends.

Real masculinity will exhibit some form of competitiveness. It’s just in a man’s nature to be the warrior, the fighter, the competitor. We need fewer men who hand out participation trophies and more men who compete to win – or at least root for a team that wants to. Go Braves!

This is from when Building 429 stopped by a local Cracker Barrel and I legalistically misjudged them (I wrote a post about it). This is Katie posing with them after I admitted my sinful error and asked for their forgiveness. Real men, masculine men, aren’t afraid to admit when they’ve done wrong.

This photo was taken of me when I prayed on the steps of Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, after the deadly shooting. Real men shouldn’t be afraid to pray in public, especially in places where reconciliation is desperately needed.

 

Lastly, here I am in front of the church where I am Pastor. Genuine masculinity demands that a man be bold, courageous, and unafraid to speak the truth, even when the truth is hard to hear. Jesus was our greatest example of manhood, but there was also Paul, John the Baptist, and a host of others. Their brand of masculinity is what I’m striving for.

I’m just glad I had a dad that taught me what it meant to be a man. He was a consistent, loving, meek, humble, trustworthy, honorable, hard-working, self-sacrificing, faithful husband and man of God.

That’s about all I’ve got to say. Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, current events, Family, General Observations, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenting, politics, Preaching, Relationships and Family, Witnessing

Memories from My Sister’s Visit (2018)

Some of you may know I have a sister, but other of you may not. Her name is Rebecca Lee Gomes, and she lives in Germany (married to a German, Carlos).

Two months ago she came to visit after being gone from the States for 7 years. Fortunately in one way, unfortunately in others, while she was here, my mother suffered a severely broken leg. That limited what we were able to do because a couple of weeks were spent in hospitals.

Also, while Becky was here, one of our aunts passed away.

Nevertheless, we did get to see some things and do some things, including visit the Ark Encounter, the Creation Museum, the Air Force Museum, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (because we used to have a band, you know), all while taking my wife and our mom to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Just after Becky left I pulled together some photos and video made while she was here and created a little video on iMovie. Then I posted the video on YouTube for here to have it.

You may not get all the hidden humor, and you may not know all the faces, but you can watch the video, too, and get a little glimpse into our lives.

I’m gonna miss her.

5 Comments

Filed under America, Christmas, Family, places, Relationships and Family, Thanksgiving

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

I wrote the following post in June 2011. Last night I got a Facebook Messenger notification from a man who had been fighting cancer and struggling with the idea of leaving his young son behind. He told me he found this post as he was searching for the source of the line that makes up the title.

Then he told me how much this post meant to him. What a blessing that was to me!

Well, I just thought I’d repost it for you guys, today. Reading it again brought back a few feelings. I hope you find it to be a blessing, also.

 


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

5 Comments

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