Category Archives: Relationships and Family
This evening I was exploring the “draft” file to see if there was anything I could edit and post. I clicked on a few titles of unfinished works, but more often than not the posts were only titles, nothing else. Then I came upon the following draft written all the way back in March of 2011: “My Last Words.”
It was seven years ago, and I don’t even remember what kind of surgery I was about to have. All I know is that I did not die; I survived. Actually, I don’t even know if I had the surgery. I just can’t remember.
But reading the words of this post disturbed me. It almost sounds like what a suicide letter would sound like! So much regret! So much hopelessness! So much self-pity. So little victory!
Therefore, with even more transparency than I’m used to, I’m going to let you look into my past, into my mind and heart, right before believing the worst would happen. Then, I’m going to do something else…just in case.
My former last words…
I am going to have surgery tomorrow. I don’t know if I will survive. I have been having strong feelings that I won’t. I am scared, but not too much. I just pray that God takes care of my wife, Valerie, and the girls.
I have not lived much of a life. I have not been many places, or seen many things. My education has been limited and of little value. I wish that I could have studied and applied myself more early on, instead of doing fruitless things and chasing fruitless relationships.
I miss my dad, and long to see him again.
My wife could have done much better than me, for I have not provided for her, or my children, the way they deserve. She deserved a man who could take care of her emotionally and monetarily. I have done neither. I have failed her in many ways.
My children have not had the best dad, either. I have not intentionally been abusive, but I have hurt them many times with my words. They didn’t deserve that. I hope they will forgive me.
I hope that my girls will grow up to fear the Lord and live for Him, much like I have tried to do, but have failed. They have a hard life ahead of them, and without faith in God, there will be no hope.
I could say a lot more, but I hope that God will be glorified in my weakness. Maybe something I have said and done in my life will prove to have had some lasting value once I’m gone. I pray my wife finds peace and is taken care of. I pray my daughters find godly men. – Written 3/3/2011
Like I said, I’m glad I didn’t die in that surgery, and I’m very happy those were NOT my last words! However, should something happen to me before the sun rises, allow me to write what I’d prefer to be my “last words.”
To all concerned…
Valerie, you have been the greatest gift God has given me apart from salvation. Without your love and unending support and faithfulness I would have never become the man I am today. Your joy and faith, despite innumerable ills and disappointments, have filled my life with a beauty that transcends the temporal. Your gentle eyes inspire me. Your laugh energizes me. Your love humbles me. Your very presence comforts me, especially in the night when you’re beside me. Despite what you think about yourself, you are a godly Proverbs 31 woman worthy of praise. You’re the ruby in the setting of my life.
Girls, I’m proud of all of you! Each of you are specially gifted and called by God to glorify Him in unique ways. Don’t compete with each other. Don’t ever be jealous of each other. Always love each other, despite your differences. Put God first in your lives, before relationships, family, career, money, or even yourselves. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – seek God and be wise! Never settle for a man who simply loves you; expect more! Find a man who loves Jesus first, then treasures you. You won’t regret it.
Mom, I love you. Becky, I love you, too. I wish we all could have spent more time together as a family down here. However, one day we will be reunited, along with daddy, and the dissappointments of the past will fade away along with the feelings of being apart.
God has been so good and gracious and merciful to me! If I have any regret, it’s that I haven’t praised Him enough. Hasn’t He been good? Yes, He has! All the time! Keep telling people about Jesus, even without me. Without Jesus what would we have? Without our hope in Christ there’d be no hope of seeing each other again, so thank Him in the congregation of unbelievers and believers alike! Let them know the reason for the hope that is within you.
If these truly end up being my last words, don’t weep for me too long. Rise up, look to the future with expectation and excitement! Joy comes in the morning!
Make my funeral one to remember. Have church! Worship! Sing! Shout! Get a man of God who can preach the infallible Word of God and let him loose! If the gospel isn’t preached with joy, passion, praise, and power at my funeral I’ll find out about it and personally ask God to disable evey game app on all your phones! If the Word isn’t preached over my casket you’ll never play word games again 😉
Finally, don’t forget to read your Bible, pray, move on with your life, know God still has a purpose for you, and become a better shot!
I hope these aren’t my last words, but if they are, I love you! See you in a little while!
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness… All other ground is sinking sand.”
Today (June 18th) my wife (Valerie) and I have been married 24 years. Hard to believe we’ve been together that long. In reality, we’ve been “together” for 26 years, but the first two we were dating, then engaged.
Next year will be the big 25, and I don’t have any time to spare in getting ready for it. We went to Disney World on our honeymoon, and that’s where we want to go next year – with the whole family! Donations WILL be excepted…better believe it.
Anyway, as I was sitting here doing some reading and studying in order to answer a question about prayer from a fellow blogger, another question randomly popped into my head:”What has kept us married for 24 years, if not simply prayer?”
Well, prayer has been an indispensable part of the glue, that’s for sure, but there are other things, too. Therefore, this evening I’m going to share them with you in hopes of helping your marriage and strengthening mine.
But that’s not all! I’m starting with my list, then I’m going to bring Valerie (my wife) into this with her thoughts!
God. First and foremost. Without divine intervention, I’m sure Valerie and I would have either ended up divorced at some point…or simply dead. Don’t think I’m being facetious, either; I’m being very serious. There have been more times than I can count that the Lord has worked miracles, moved mountains, guided circumstances, and healed incurable wounds with the Balm of Gilead. If nothing else and no one else, we owe our marriage to the One before whom we made our vows.
Commitment. If you want to know a dirty little secret, there have been times when my wife has said, “The only reason you’re still here is because you made a commitment!” Well, yeah, that’s true. But you know what? Whatever happened to making a vow and keeping it? There will be times in life when the only thing that will keep you trudging through is your promise, your word. If your word means nothing, then you’re marriage will certainly fail.
Our Witness. You see, my wife and I are unashamedly Christian. Everything we do – we believe – should bring glory and honor to God. Even when there were difficult times, we still wanted other people to know about Jesus. Therefore, we have stayed together through the worst of times if for no other reason than to be an example of God’s faithfulness to us.
Faithfulness. It may seem like a no-brainer, but staying faithful to each other and guarding against unfaithfulness should be an every-day commitment. Don’t expect your marriage to last when you start sampling the water from other wells. And here’s a little FYI… when your spouse gets too thirsty, don’t think he/she isn’t going to be tempted by a fountain in the desert. Know what I mean?
A Well-Watered Garden. Keep the grass green on your own side of the fence.
Forgiveness. Folks, we all fail. My wife isn’t perfect, but I’m less perfect. As a matter of fact, I’m a regular mess. If we didn’t learn to forgive each other we’d both be in a world of continual hurt.
Putting the Other First. It might sound funny, but my wife and I have actually gotten into fights (verbally, of course) over trying to please the other one! “Where do you want to eat?” can spark arguments even when all you want to do is be thoughtful! However, pride, putting yourself first, and always wanting to get your own way will end in real disaster.
Children. I don’t want to get too deep into this one, but having children has done a lot for keeping us married 24 years. For one thing, my wife was a child of divorce, resulting in abuse, emotional trauma, and a lot of unfortunate baggage. The last thing we wanted our three girls to endure was another broken family. We had to break the cycle. You do a lot and endure a lot for your kids, you know.
Church families. I can’t stress enough how much belonging to and regularly attending a church has meant to us. So many times, when there was nowhere else to turn, God used our church families to come alongside us with love, compassion, and support.
Love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just talking about emotional fluff or sensuality; I’m talking about the kind of love that’s expressed as a verb. Love is not a thing; it’s something you DO.
Listen to Your Wife! Yeah, this is a guy’s responsibility, but it’s important. Men, listen to her. She has a lot more to say than you do, and you want to be the one she talks to when she’s concerned, hurt, lonely, angry, etc. Did you get what I said? YOU want to be the one she talks to. If you don’t listen to her, who do you think will? Oh, and take that “woman’s intuition” stuff seriously – it’s real.
Patience. Anthony has more patience than me. Actually, he’s the most patient person I know – it’s both a blessing and irritating at the same time.
Empathy. Even when something doesn’t necessarily bother me, it hurts me to see my husband hurt. I hurt when he hurts, but when he hurts when I hurt, that makes me love him even more. When we empathize with each other we learn a little better to see things from the other’s perspective and feel their heart.
Understanding. Even when Anthony doesn’t understand something, he takes the time to listen and try to understand, which lets me know he loves me and makes me love him. Sometimes you have to try to see things from the other person’s perspective, which leads to a better understanding. There is always more ways to see the same thing, and marriage requires both of us to take a step back, at times, and imagine ourselves in each other’s shoes. Trying to understand the other by listening and putting yourself in their position is loving them.
Shopping. I don’t like to shop. I don’t like to clothes shop, Christmas shop, or anything like that. I don’t like grocery shopping most of all! I know it runs contrary to the stereotype, but I just don’t like shopping! But when Anthony says he’ll go with me shopping – even though I know he probably hates shopping more than me – it puts pep in my step and joy in my heart.
Doing things I like to do even though he doesn’t like to do them. Or, to put it another way, Anthony watches the “chick flicks” with me and rarely even complains – sometimes he even cries! There are times I’ll even say “yes” to the war movie. The thing is, once we start watching the other’s movie, we often find out we like it. It’s when the other one asks to participate in something that we should stop and think about how often the other person did something with us, even when he didn’t want to. Simply being nice and thoughtful can make a marriage last a long time.
My wife and I are not marriage counselors, but we’ve got a lot of marriage experience. We’ve also seen a lot of marriages fail when they could have lasted. All they would have needed was to do what we’ve shared above.
Marriage is tough. Marriage is work. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. But marriage is a gift. Marriage is a calling. Marriage is meant to be a symbol to the world of God’s love and faithfulness to us.
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 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. – Ephesians 5:30-32 KJV
If you’re married right now, know you are in the Enemy’s sights, and he wants nothing less than for you to fail in your commitment to each other. Hang in there. Be strong. Love each other with a Christ-like, cross-bearing love. Stay on your knees. Give God the glory.
Oh, and always have a sense of humor. Laugh.
And then you’ll have what it takes to stay married.
“You Still Preaching?”
I don’t hear it too much anymore, but I used to hear it rather frequently. Family members, old friends, former acquaintances, and the average person I never wanted to see again would come up to me and ask, “Hey, you still preaching?”
Maybe it’s the thing to do. Maybe it is customary to ask a person if they are still doing what they were doing the last time you saw them. It makes sense. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of asking:
- “Are you still unemployed?”
- “You still sick with that sickness thing?”
- “You still married?”
- “You still running off at the mouth about things you know nothing about?”
- “You still planning to party with Hitler for eternity?”
- Are you still as stupid as you used to be?
I just don’t get why people ask if I am still preaching. It’s like they think I’ll change my mind or walk away from the ministry, or something.
In reality, it’s not that unreasonable to ask someone who once accepted the call to ministry if he is still preaching. Even though it sorta feels like an insult, I shouldn’t be surprised by other people’s shock. I mean, it has been 34 years since I made my calling public. I’ve known more than one who has walked away the first year.
If more people knew the statistics, few would ever enter the ministry. Stop and think about it, would you enter a career with the highest rate of heart attacks? Would you take out student loans for a degree that demands you work multiple jobs? Consider these sad facts…
- 70% felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still felt called.
- 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 80% of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression.
- 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
- 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
Yet, I’m still preaching. It may surprise people who haven’t seen me in a while, but I’m still doing the Lord’s work and still following the call I first heard when I was 16. It may sound strange, but I can’t help it.
“But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” – Jeremiah 20:9 NLT
“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” – 1 Corinthians 9:16 KJV
June 11 was the anniversary of my father’s death. He died the week before Father’s day (just like my wife’s father did last week). Not long ago I went to his grave and placed my Bible on his tombstone. There, glistening in the sun, were the gilded words “Rev. Anthony C. Baker.”
“Daddy,” I said, “I’m still at it.”
Remembering the Day
I woke up this morning and saw the sun, which is something my dad never got the chance to experience on June 11, 1991. Upon closing his eyes in death while working the night shift as a security guard, he woke to eternal day where the Son is the Light. What an awesome moment that must have must have been for him!
However, for me, it was a very difficult day 27 years ago. For that matter, it was a difficult day for many. He was only 46 at the time of his homegoing, but the impact he made on the lives of others will reverberate for many decades to come, and all of us were heartbroken when he left.
Tough, Yet Humble
Those who knew my dad before he became a Christian would testify to the fact that he was no wimp. He was a man’s man.
My dad could build an engine and race a car – including the kind in which he used to haul moonshine. He knew how to fight, fish, and fire a weapon; between him and my uncle Don (his brother), there weren’t too many men willing to be their enemies.
Yet, once he accepted Christ, he became the perfect example of gentleness, kindness, grace, and compassion. I know of no one any more humble than he was. (Oh, and when his brother finally became a believer in Jesus, the same transformation took place)
My dad was also a preacher. He might not have been the most eloquent, but he loved the Word and he loved telling people about Jesus. Had he been alive today, he would have wept at the state of our nation, but he would have cared more about sharing the gospel with the homeless drunk under the bridge, the prisoner in the jail, or the disabled and orphaned teen in need of hope.
More than a man who’d kindly give you the shirt off his back, he’d find a way to tell you about a Saviour who bore a cross on His. If my dad was still alive, he’d still be preaching.
I am proud to say that I am carrying on my father’s legacy. I am proud to say that should the Lord allow me to live another 50 years, I will continue to preach the Gospel, stand for Truth, and love people the best I can. As a matter of fact, here is something I recently posted on Facebook.
Backbone, preachers…now’s the time for some honest-to-goodness, strong-as-steel, George S. Patton and John Wayne-like BACKBONE!
I don’t care if you’re Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Methodist, or whatever…MAN UP!! Stand in the gap! Quit being a politically motivated, crowd-pleasing, purse string-tying wimp and PREACH THE WORD!
Check out what’s going on in the world and what’s coming to America. Do you think things are all going to turn out like a big Hillsong praise service if you keep preaching like Joel Osteen?! Folks, what we need now more than ever are some Elijahs, some John the Baptists, some old-school Billy Grahams, some D. L. Moodys, etc. We need more men of God who know the difference between the Word of God and a motivational speech!
Don’t try to be popular. Don’t try to be “cool” and “hip” with the younger generations. Quit fighting over the styles of worship if your congregation doesn’t even know HOW to worship! Forget trying to become more “seeker-friendly,” and just SEEK THE LOST! The world is going to Hell and we are greasing the skids.
Be real. Be humble. Be yourself. Love your enemies. But for the love of God, pastors and preachers, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). In other words, take off the liberal mom jeans and put on some prophet-worthy overalls and get to work.
I wish all of you could have met my dad, Terry L. Baker. Like my wife noted when she heard a recording, “He sounds about as country as they come.” Fortunately for all of us, I still have a few recordings of his preaching.
Below is an edited version of a message my dad preached back in 1981. At that time he was doing a radio program on WMOC for a local children’s ministry.
On a side note, I do a radio program just like my dad did, but he used to record his sermons on a Radio Shack cassette recorder while I use an iPhone 7 with a Rode smartLav+ mic. Funny, the sermon below sounds just as good as anything recorded today!
Fittingly, the sermon from my late father, based on Deuteronomy 6:4-7, concerns how to raise a godly family. Tell me if you think he sounds a little like me 😉
All honor and glory be to my Father in Heaven, the One who graciously gifted me with an earthly father who loved Jesus and taught me how to do the same.
First of all, I have no photos to upload and post. If you want to call and talk about it, forget it.
Secondly, I am looking at a computer screen with 1 1/2 times the letters I’m actually typing.
Thirdly, the weeds are still there.
Fourth, I’m an emotional bag of nerves.
Will this be an inspirational post? I don’t know. It all depends. If you have a wonderful life where nothing out of control stresses you out, then you may think to yourself, “Man, I’m glad I’m not that guy.”
On the other hand, you may be in Zimbabwe and might think to yourself, “I wish my problems were as few as his.”
Nevertheless, here’s my story.
Last night I went to bed and was going to set my alarm on my phone. When I plugged it into the charger, the charger port was broke. How/when did that happen??! I have no clue, but that has to be fixed…today!
I had photos I was going to upload for a post, but now I dare not turn on my phone and run down what charge I still have. Should there be an emergency, I will need to make a call. But now my wife can’t get ahold of me, and that’s a big problem – as you will see in just a second.
And if the phone problem wasn’t enough, my glasses broke yesterday. I mean, I literally took them off my face and the dang things just fell apart! We’re not talking a loose screw, or anything – the frame broke!
If you want to know why that’s a big issue, let me just tell you the brand name of the frame: Silhouette. Another expensive fix.
Before my glasses fell apart in my hands, something else decided to up and die – the new lawn trimmer.
Look, I don’t have to mow the lawn surrounding our church, the fellowship hall, and the house we live in; someone else does that. However, that someone is a little bit older and has difficulty getting on and off his riding mower, not to mention trimming the grass around three structures and parking lots. So, in order to help out, while at the same time give me the satisfaction of doing something outside, I broke down and purchased a new trimmer.
Keep in mind, I might be 5+ months past shoulder surgery, but pulling the crank on a lawn trimmer is still not easy. So, after about 50 pulls I almost let loose a string of profanities, but I didn’t. Well… maybe a word or two.
Then, on top of all that, my wife and youngest daughter just drove around the corner and out of sight as they are on their way out of town for 3 days. They are going to a conference in Knoxville, TN.
What’s wrong with that? Well, I absolutely hate it when my wife leaves town, especially with one of the girls. Why? Because they are out there somewhere and I can’t protect them. I’m also pretty clueless when my wife isn’t around to manage things.
It’s sorta kind of crazy, I guess. It’s no big deal for me when I leave town for something, but when my wife leaves town I can’t even sleep at night.
So, as I was writing down all my first-world problems, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a scripture passage – literally, it came to mind as I stepped away to let the dog out to pee:
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV
No, that doesn’t mean I should be thankful my glasses, iPhone, and weedeater broke. But what it does mean is that I should be thankful that even in the middle of all this brokenness, Christ has a plan for me. Yes, even when things like these break.
I must remind myself that God ordains my footsteps, and it might just be that He needs my witness at a repair shop or return counter. If a broken iPhone allows me to talk about Jesus, wouldn’t that be great?
Then, right after I thought of the above verse from 1 Thessalonians, another verse came to mind:
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 CSB
No, I can’t always be there to watch over my wife and daughters, but God is there. They are in His hand. He can watch over them far better than I can.
If I keep that in mind I might just get some sleep.
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.
Learn it, love it, and then share it with your own mother or mother-like substitute. You could, I suppose, sing it to yourself while imagining Carly Simon somewhere near saying, “I bet you think this song is about you.” And you wouldn’t be vain, either! You’re a mother! You deserve it!
(Note: If you did not catch the humor in the above Carly Simon reference, you’re probably too young to be a mother…or you didn’t click on the above link, duh!)
Read Them, Love Them
Now, it’s not because I’m being lazy, it just that last year’s post was a pretty good one, so why try to top it this year? I’ll just give you a link and you can read what I wrote for Mother’s Day last year on this blog. (As a bonus, scroll through the comments and you’ll get to see me play and sing it live.)
However, if you haven’t read what I wrote about my mother and grandmothers on ProverbialThought.com, check out this link.
My mother is still with us, but my grandmother (her mother) is now in a nursing home and rarely knows who I am. I have to admit, it’s hard to watch her in that condition.
Then, just yesterday, I found out that my mother has stage 3 kidney disease (as if she didn’t already have enough wrong with her). Point is, appreciate what you have while you have them.
So, happy Mother’s Day, everyone! Sing the song!