Category Archives: Christian Maturity

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Spice Girls

Do you remember the Spice Girls? Here today, gone tomorrow girl band from the U.K.? They were the ones who recorded the catchy and famous pop song “Wannabe” (I’ll spare you the video).

What was the catchiest part of the whole song? The part that goes:

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

As a matter of fact, just for fun, here’s a link from the movie Chicken Little. The pig and chicken characters do a pretty good cover.

Honestly, I’m not totally clear as to what the Spice Girls wanted. I wouldn’t know a “zigga” from zagga. On the other hand, I bet what they wanted was not what poor Job (in the Bible) wanted, but we’ll get to him in a minute.

Heaven

Have you ever thought about what you would want to see most in Heaven? Assuming Heaven will be your home after this life (don’t assume – eternity is too long for a mistake of that nature), what would you want to see first? Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

Do you look forward to walking on a street of pure gold? Are you excited about seeing things that can hardly be imagined, much less described? What about gates of pearl? An emerald sea? Do you really, really want to meet all the saints of old, including relatives who have gone on before. Angels? A mansion?

Job

Do you remember Job? He was the guy in the Bible (with the book named after him) that lost everything he owned, including his wealth, family, and health. He even lost his friends, especially if you consider all they did was accuse him of wrongdoing.

Job wound up in such a state that his own wife even begged him to just curse God and die (Job 2:9). Job was a miserable wreck of a man who had every reason to want to go to Heaven. Yet, what Job really, really wanted to see first was not golden, bejeweled, or even a thing…He wanted to see God.

Remember, what you want tells a lot about your heart. Instead of wanting to exchange his suffering for a new body; his poverty for wealth; his loneliness for a reunion with loved ones, all Job wanted was to see God with his own eyes, in his own flesh. This was his hope and desire all wrapped up in one.

For I know [that] my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this [I know], That in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. [How] my heart yearns within me! – Job 19:25-27 NKJV

What we fail to think about is that when we see God, all the other joys of Heaven will have to seem secondary! God, the highest of all that is good and lovely, the depth of Whose attributes can never be plumbed, will one day look into our eyes in a moment of total realization, understanding, and belonging. What else could compare? Sure, there will be other things in Heaven, but who will care if it takes a million years to get around to some of them?

Tell me what you want. What do you really, really want.

Do you want Heaven, or Him? There is a difference.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Future, God, salvation, the future, Uncategorized, worship

Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties. Really?

Just A Thought…

It’s June, and weddings are all the rage. But so are bachelor and bachelorette parties.

Dear Christian, I want to ask a serious question. Why do you think it’s acceptable in God’s eyes to act sinfully? If marriage is holy, and to be with your love is the greatest joy you can hope to have, what last fling, what last wild night, what time of debauchery is to be treasured so much that it will be missed when you say your vows?

I do find it strange that people who have bachelor and bachelorette parties even commit to marriage. Have you not found the one true love to which none other can compare? If so, then what is there to capture in one last night of freedom that he or she hasn’t already replaced or proven more desirable?

If you are engaged to be married, dear Christian, you have already made clear your intent to be faithful, not only after marriage, but until that wonderful and holy day. Therefore, if what you do the night of your party is something you could never do as a married person, you already suffer from a misconception and non-biblical view of marriage.

 

 

 

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Filed under Alcohol, Christian Maturity, Defining Marriage, General Observations, Marriage, Uncategorized, Witnessing

In My Father’s Honor On Father’s Day

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 29 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

My dad.

My dad.

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)

Preachers

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.

Still Fighting the Good Fight

Still Fighting the Good Fight

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 52 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. 

His Voice

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.

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.

 

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

Yes, I’m Still Preaching

“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.

Some Statistics

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 36 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.

Still Preaching

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

photo (16)Today, June 11, is the anniversary of the death of a mighty man of God, my father. He died the week before Father’s day.

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.”

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, Life/Death, ministry, Preaching, Relationships and Family

Statements, Services, and Studies: A Whole Day’s Worth

It is Sunday evening in Georgia,

and all I can say is that I’m glad I’m not in Atlanta. However, I’ve got a daughter, a son-in-law, and a granddaughter in Charleston, SC, and it’s bad there, too.

Honestly, I’m furious and sickened by the senseless thuggery and domestic terrorism that’s spreading havoc across the country. There’s no excuse for it. None.

Well, I’ve written about the subject of the protests and riots, already. So, what I’m going to do tonight is share the video that was my day.

The first video is from Facebook. I hope you can view it. I went live this morning before the scheduled morning service that had been recorded earlier.

The second video is of the service prerecorded for airing at 11 a.m. Unfortunately, I got the date wrong! 😩

The last video is from tonight where I was live from Augusta, GA. Even though it was originally on Facebook Live, I uploaded it to YouTube.  In this study I taught from Acts 9 while sitting in a hotel lobby.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Christianity, Church, community, current events, Preaching, Selah

Riots and Protests: My Opinion

Riots erupt in several US cities over Minnesota police killing of ...

Be forewarned, this is going to be a vent. 

What I am about to type out is not planned, nor will it be edited (except for obvious spelling and grammar – if I notice it). I’m just going to say what I believe and leave it at that.

What’s going on in Minneapolis is inexcusable. Was the death of George Floyd a tragedy that need not happen? Yes. Is there a culture of racial discrimination, targeting, and violence in the Minneapolis police department? I have no idea.

But let me tell you one thing, among others, that I DO know – and I know this from first-hand experience: Don’t trust the media to form your opinions for you by accepting their narrative as the gospel truth! If nothing else, try not to form an opinion anytime in the first few days after a news story. If you do, odds are you will find yourself walking back much of what you say.

Let’s be honest, folks. Does the news media really want peace in the streets? Do they really desire everyone to “just get along.” Umm, no. Heck, when ol’ Rodney King said those very words decades ago – “Can’t we all just get along?”(or however he actually said it) – he was mocked.

So, when the media curiously shows us 6 minutes of a black man being choked out by a white cop, while other videos exist over the last several years of other instances involving white victims, videos that have never been plastered over every media platform, why do we fall in line with the predictable outrage?

Fact #1: Face it people, you’re being used. 

Now, again, should something be done about policemen and the use of excessive force? Yes! Absolutely!

But here’s something most people these days won’t do anything about: The way they conduct themselves and taking responsibility for their own actions.

Fact #2: When you act the fool, expect trouble from the law.

Fact #3: Police officers are people who want to get home alive to their families far more than they want to listen to your complaints of abuse when YOU are the one who either threw the first punch or resisted a simple command.

In the case of George Floyd, has anyone stopped to ask whether or not he would have been detained on the ground had he not been under the influence of something and had he not resisted? Notice how these things are linked?

But what do we have going on now? Cities burning. Literally, police stations are burning. Places of business that have nothing to do with what happened are being looted and destroyed. And this is supposed to help matters?

Oh, yeah, so now investigations into the Minneapolis government and the way they treat minorities. And, you could add that this would not have happened had people not protested… or, should we say, rioted and vented their frustration while taking advantage of the situation to fulfill their own lusts by stealing and breaking things?

Fact #4: Most rioters have no idea why they are rioting; they are more concerned about missing out on a “five-finger discount.”

Last night I went live on my personal Facebook page. I was on there for an hour discussing the whole idea of rioting. Specifically, was it biblical, was it Christian, for people to go around doing what they were/are doing?

My answer, plain and simple: NO.

Fact #5: Destructive protests and riots are not biblical; rather, they are antithetical to the cause of Christ and His commands.

“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21 

You cannot parse the above scripture enough . . . you can’t rationalize it away . . . there is nothing in the way riots are conducted that can be condoned by the above verses.

Fact #6: Rioters are being overcome by evil in their loose attempts at bringing about good.

In other words, if they are not overcoming the evil of racism and bigotry with good, then their intentions, however noble, are being overcome by the very evil for which they riot, therefore they only perpetuate the darkness in which they try to shine light.

Those are my thoughts and my opinions.

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Filed under America, Christian Maturity, community, current events

Tough Questions That Should Make Every Christian Think

Daily Live Stream

Every day at 2 p.m. I do a live devotional and prayer time on Facebook. This is in addition to Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night.

All total, I am either live or showing recorded content eight times a week. That’s way, way more than what I was doing before this pandemic forced everything online! But it’s all good.

His grace is sufficient for the challenge.

This Week’s Theme

The theme for this week’s videos was found in Exodus 23, verses 29 and 30. In those verses God says that He would not drive out Israel’s enemies all at once, only little by little.

God was capable of wiping out all of Israel’s enemies. He was more than strong enough. However, doing things as a matter of process was better for the land and God’s people (verse 29).

God could have given the children of Israel everything at once, but his desire for them (and us) was to mature through adversity. Even more, He wants us to become more and more sanctified (set apart for His glory and use) through the purging away of worldly idolatries that trap and destroy us.

Today’s Tough Questions

Lists to Live By: The Christian Collection: For Everything That Really MattersTherefore, This afternoon I pulled a book off one of my shelves and flipped through it until I found what fit the theme of this week’s devotions. In the book Lists to Live By: The Christian Collection For Everything That Really Matters I found on page 48 and 49 “20 Tough Questions.”

This afternoon I shared the first 10 with those watching live on Facebook.

  1. What specifically are you gong to work on in the next week to become closer to God?
  2. What do you feel is a little thing stopping you from getting closer to God?
  3. What is one thing you need to confess this week?
  4. When did you conquer sin this week?
  5. In what areas of your life do you find it easiest to compromise your standards?
  6. Does you faith point others to Jesus?
  7. What are you going to give Jesus in the next week?
  8. Can you give a recent example of a time you had to depend on God?
  9. Where do you know you need humility in your life?
  10. What would improve your prayer life?

As you can see, these are not easy questions for most people to answer. They weren’t completely easy for me, if you want to know the honest truth.

But the fact is, if we are not struggling, and certainly if we are not growing and maturing in our Christian walk and faith in God, then we cannot expect to claim the blessings awaiting in the yet-to-be-conquered “promised land.”

I’ll share the remaining “tough questions” in the next post.

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This Is Why We Struggle With the Enemy

Pastor, preacher, minister, Christian… if we feel like the Enemy is winning, like he’s not even intimidated, there’s probably a simple reason.Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was a South African preacher and pastor (of Scottish decent). But more than anything, he was a prayer warrior. Some of his theology may not sit well with all of some of us, but one thing is certain: this man had a heart for God like few others.

The following is from his book Living a Prayerful Life:

The Enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian – and above all, the minister – to neglect prayer. Satan knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected. – Andrew Murray (p. 28)

I’m not going to lie – I don’t pray like I should. What a waste! What a sin!

I have preached some pretty good sermons and tried to do all the pastoral stuff, but how much more effective could I have been had I spent more time on my knees and less time at a desk?

What if I spent more time talking with Jesus than talking about Him?After all, the whole reason the disciples called for the selecting of deacons was so that they might first give themselves “continually to prayer…” (Acts 6:4).

Preachers, before you worry anymore about your outline for Sunday, your clever illustrations, or your Power Point, spend some more time prostrate before the throne. If we neglect earnest prayer, we’ll have no power, so what’s the point?

Battles may be lost on our feet, but they are won on our knees.

One finger pointing, three back at me.

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Filed under book review, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Prayer, Preaching

You Might Be a Fool If…

April 1st

Happy April Fools Day!…or, happy Atheists Day!…whichever you prefer.

You know, even though atheists think we are being smug and “snarky” by quoting Psalm 14:1, I believe the one who insists there is no God really is a fool.

But what I think matters little in the scheme of things. What matters is what God thinks.

That is why I came up with this list.

Defining a Fool

What is a fool?  Believe it or not, Scripture lists several characteristics of a foolish person. The following is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start.

So, why not do this Jeff Foxworthy-style?  

You might be a fool if…

  1. You are always right in your own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).
  2. You despise instruction (Proverbs 1:7; 15:5).
  3. You are unteachable (Proverbs 17:10; 23:9; 26:11)
  4. You’re always running your mouth, getting into trouble (Proverbs 18:6-7; 29:11).
  5. You are always trying to find yourself (Proverbs 18:2).
  6. You make fun of sin (Proverbs 14:9).
  7. You’re always meddling in other people’s business (Proverbs 20:3).
  8. You are a shame and a burden to your parents (Proverbs 17:25).
  9. You deny the obvious because the truth is inconvenient (Romans 1:18-22).
  10. You deny Jesus because you think the cross is foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Don’t be a fool.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Preaching

A Doctrine from Eden Repackaged (Faith In Words)

The Beginning

In order to put things in perspective, we must start with the beginning. And when I say beginning, I mean THE beginning. Please consider the following verses, for they are critical:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

It should be obvious, according to the above verses, that not only did God create the universe, but that the Word which He spoke was none other than Jesus Christ. The doctrine that Jesus is the “express image” of God the Father, even God Himself (Hebrews 1:3), is at the core of orthodox Christianity.

Jesus was not just a good man or prophet, and neither were the words of God at creation just words spoken in faith.

Did you get that last part? That’s the part I want to address.

Faith in Words

There is a teaching still being taught that essentially says: “If you have faith in your words, as God had faith when He spoke the worlds into being, you can also create a miracle, your own reality. You can be like God, if you have the faith of God.

Excuse me? God had faith? Really? If so, in what?

Well, if you’re like Kenneth Copeland, you’ll believe God had faith in His own words when He “spoke to the Spirit” on the day He created man…

“[We] can see that man’s body was formed from dust, but he became a living spirit when God spoke to Himself and breathed life into his physical body. … In short, we must always remember that unlike any other creature, man was both formed from dust and created with words of faith.” (Source)

Or then there’s this:

“God used words when He created the heaven and the earth….Each time God spoke, He released His faith — the creative power to bring His words to pass.”
Kenneth Copeland, The Power of the Tongue (Fort Worth: KCP Publications, 1980), 4.

First, stop and think about this! Do you realize that God is the Giver and Author of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2), not One who puts His faith in something or someone? There is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that Omnipotence would have any reason to have faith, for the very definition of faith requires a sense of dependence on a power outside yourself.

When God speaks, things happen; not because of His faith, but because He’s God!

Secondly, ask yourself: “If God had faith in His Word, then would that make Him the first Christian?” How silly does that sound? But in reality, if we are to believe that God had faith in His words, which brought about creation, then would it not stand to reason, – if John 1:1 is correct – that God the Father put His faith in Jesus? Was not Jesus the Word by which all things were created?

Crazy, right?

Then, there is the worst part…

Words of the Serpent

Do you remember how Satan tempted eve in the garden of Eden? Remember how he tried to convince her that by eating the fruit, she could “be as gods?” How similar, then, is the promise, “If you have faith in your words, as God had faith in His words, you can create like God did?”

If you think I’m making this stuff up, my friends, consider the following statements by one of the foremost teachers of this false doctrine (and you can find more on YouTube):

Image result for kenneth copeland images“You have the same creative faith and ability on the inside of you that God used when he created the heavens and the earth.”
Kenneth Copeland, ‘Inner Image of the Covenant,’ side 2.

“On the cross, Jesus won the right for believers to be born again back into the god-class. Adam was created, not subordinate to God, but as a god; he lost it, and in Christ we are taken back to the god-class.” ~ Kenneth Copeland (AZQuotes.com)

“I say this with all respect so that it don’t upset you too bad, but I say it anyway. When I read in the Bible where he [Jesus] says, ‘I Am,’ I just smile and say, ‘Yes, I Am, too!'” ~ Kenneth Copeland (AZQuotes.com)

It may anger some of you, my readers, but please don’t be offended. Do as Paul told Timothy, “take heed unto thyself, and to [thy] doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Please understand, to claim one has the power to create, as God created, is heresy! Faith in our words, outside of faith in God, especially in order to bring about our will, as opposed to, or in spite of God’s will, is nothing less than witchcraft.

Even more, it is the doctrine of Eden reborn: “you shall be as gods.”

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Filed under Christian Maturity, cults, God, ministry, Theology