Category Archives: Food

Got Leftovers? God Wants Them!

The Meal

Yesterday for Thanksgiving we had a wonderful meal of green bean casserole. macaroni and cheese, rolls, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, giblet gravy, pecan pie, sweet potato pie, and the all-important turkey and dressing.

We had to put an extra leaf in the table to accommodate everyone, but we had fun with the new turkey plates, fancy silverware, and the new tablecloth meant to be written on… yes, we signed our names.

But that turkey – oh my goodness! It was the largest turkey my wife has ever prepared! It weighed 20 pounds! Needless to say, we are going to be eating turkey for a while to come. Including what we freeze for later, there will be turkey sandwiches, turkey pie, breakfast turkey, and late-night turkey snacks up until Christmas.

Leftovers

Yes, one of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftover turkey. However, not all leftovers are good. Sometimes leftover food should just be thrown away the next day, especially if it’s not properly stored.

When it comes to leftovers, it really all comes down to context, and that was the basis of a sermon I preached at Riverside Baptist Church (my former pastorate) back in 2015. Actually, the sermon I preached was divided into three major points, the Provisional Context, the Praise and Worship Context, and the Personal Context.

If you feel like God can’t use you because you’re too used up, too far past your prime, or yesterday’s news, why not take a few minutes to listen to the sermon I’m linking to below. The audio is not the greatest, but you should be able to understand it well enough.

Find out what God thinks about “Leftovers,” especially now that you’re going to be surrounded by them for the next month 😉

Leftovers (In Three Contexts): a Sermon by Anthony Baker

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Barriers to Church Growth #8 (Selfish Fasting)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

“People think of fasting as being for themselves.”

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” – Matthew 6:16-18

Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.” – Isaiah 58:3ff

One of the great tools of prayer is fasting. But before we go off too quickly and label it as a “tool” or a “key” to answered prayer and holiness, consider the motive behind it.

Why do people fast? Why do people abstain from food or drink when they pray. Honestly, many do it only to either be seen by men, or to be thought more highly of by God. Neither are proper motivations for fasting.

It’s all about me…

In today’s church culture there are many who promote various ways and means to health, wealth, and spiritual success. You know the type – they’re constantly begging for you to sow a “seed of faith” into their ministries (or should I say “scams” and “snake oil factories?”). There are even those who promote fasting as a way to becoming more holy (then offer a book in exchange for a gift of any amount above $20).

The real problem with all of that is the fact that it preys on the flesh, the sinful tendency to think of “self” more than the will of God. It may help a televangelist get rich when you sow a “seed,” but it won’t bring you closer to God if you are expecting a hundred-fold return on your “investment.” When it’s “all about me,” God is not glorified.

Not a means to an end…

Without getting into a long study of the topic of fasting, let’s just say that most fasting is done for the wrong reasons. Look at the rest of the verses in Isaiah 58, for example. It was not that the people were avoiding fasting; they were even abusing themselves. Yet, God was not pleased. He was not interested in their fastings. He wanted their hearts.

There are so many ways the church could benefit if we would seek the heart of God, not our own desires. If we sought after God with a pure heart, asking Him to burden us with a desire for the lost and broken, fasting would come naturally. Most examples of fasting in the Bible were not begun with intent, but were the result of brokenness. Most of the time the fast was the result of one’s lack of desire for anything other than hearing from God. How different is that from the modern Christian who gives up a meal or two and expects, in return for their great sacrifice of earthly pleasure, an answer to a selfish prayer?

Fasting should never be a means to an end. It should be the natural result of one who can find no pleasure, no solace, no comfort in anything other than a word from the Bread of Life. Anything else borders on an attempt to manipulate the King of Glory into feeling sorry for us. What’s worse, fasting as a means to an end for a request which is intended to be “consumed upon [our] lusts” is no different than self-mutilization or witchcraft.

God will not grow a church that seeks to glorify itself or seek its own desires, especially if it attempts to bribe God in the process.

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Filed under book review, Christian Maturity, Food, God, Uncategorized

National Coffee Day 2018 – Praise God!

There are some things and people that don’t deserve a “day” for themselves, however…

Today is National Coffee Day.

How am I celebrating?

Well, first of all, I took my cup of coffee and my Bible and went outside and staged a photo. I plan on doing some study on the front porch while sitting in the antique glider, but I don’t plan on studying at this metal table in the front yard. However, it made for a decent photo, don’t you think?

Secondly, I’m going to drink coffee all day. Don’t worry, a lot of it (but not all) will be decaffeinated.

Thirdly, I’m going to pretend I’m going to Krispy Kreme to get a free cup of coffee because I’m not going to drive the 20 miles and then wait in line, only to be tempted to purchase a dozen hot, life-altering donuts (and what’s worse, they now even have a “coffee glazed”).

Fourth, I am going to thank God I’m not living as a Southerner in the Civil War (The War of Northern Aggression) when Yankee embargos kept coffee from being imported. Believe it or not, the average Confederate soldier had to substitute dried dandelion and other nasty stuff for coffee, which actually did have a detrimental effect on morale – and alertness. #*@! Yankees!

Fifth and finally, I’m going to thank God for the coffee bean and the invention of hot water, for, as the Bible clearly says (and I’m actually preaching from this passage tomorrow in my continuing series through the book of James):

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights [He provides the fire to heat the water], with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. – James 1:17 KJV

Praise God for good and perfect coffee.

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Filed under America, Bible Study, Food, Humor, Preaching

Why Should We Pray Before Meals?

I don’t know if there are any reliable statistics on the subject, but I would guess that there are still a good many who still pray before they eat. What about you?

Personally, I try to say a short prayer before every meal I eat, sometimes even before something like a sandwich in between regular meals. I call it “saying the blessing,” but you may call it something else, like “returning thanks,” “saying grace,” etc.

Whatever we call it, I’d bet most of us either do it regularly or at least occasionally.

But this past Sunday morning I delivered a sermon which addressed the reasons for praying before a meal, both good and bad – yes, there are bad reasons. Below is both an outline (which didn’t like being translated to WordPress for some reason) and the recording of the actual sermon (which may vary slightly from the outline).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject, so leave a comment. It would be MUCH appreciated 🙂


Click on the picture to listen.

Do You Pray Before Meals? Why?

     Illustration: Boy asking why dad thanks God.

I.       Bad Reasons

a.       Simple Habit… Matthew 6:7 – But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

b.      Superstition… Acts 17:22 – Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

                  i.      Definition of Superstition: “…a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.” (Merriam-Webster.com)

ii.      Earn favor (Ephesians 2:8-9)

iii.      To make it healthy/less harmful (Wrong idea of “blessing”). It’s not an incantation!

II.       Good Reasons (Should go without saying that we should imitate Christ)

a.       Thankful Heart… Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things…  1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

                   i.      “Dark Side of Abundance”

“Those of us who live in prosperous regions of the globe and have never known food scarcity perhaps don’t feel much awe in it… God is kind not to give us heaven, yet. We would not appreciate more than a fraction of it.” –  John Piper

“Complaining about the food we have is a luxury very few have experienced in world history. If we lack gratitude, repentance is the only appropriate response.” – John Piper (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/why-we-pray-for-our-meals)

ii.      False Assumption of Righteousness… Psalm 37:25 – I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

III.       Recognition of the Provider (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

a.       Who He Is

b.      That He Provides

IV.       To Be a Witness… Acts 27:35 – And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

           Illustration: Chuck Colson praying at a diner while on a book tour.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Timothy 4:4-5 – For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

NOTE: Sometimes we should pray AFTER a meal.

Deuteronomy 8:10 – When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.

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Filed under Christianity, Food, legalism, Prayer, Preaching

Still Eating Leftovers?

As I was preparing to schedule a post for Sunday morning, I noticed that a post I wrote a couple of years ago had been getting some views.

What’s more, the link to a sermon (unedited) I preached 2 years ago at my last church (Riverside Baptist) was also getting some attention. It was a good sermon, actually, so why not share it again?

If you need some real encouragement, make sure you listen all the way to the third point of this sermon, especially if you feel like a “leftover.”

http://riversidesermons.sermon.net/main/main/20551561

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Too Black?

Writer’s Wall

This morning, before I got out of bed, I told my wife, “I just want to write!” Last night I went to bed with thoughts I wanted to express, but were wondering which to tackle first. Writing, of course, is one of the most therapeutic exercises for relieving stress and clearing one’s mind, but some of what I want to write about face some barriers to my sensibilities.

“It’s not like I have writer’s block…” I said, as my wife looked at me with a look that implied indifference to my struggle – which is a common expression from those who don’t understand the need to pound a computer keyboard – “…it’s like I have ‘writer’s wall‘!”

Do any of you understand what I talking about? It’s like there are a ton of things worth discussing, but what will happen when I write about them? For example, I seriously want to write about the “F” word and its usage. Also, there’s all the curse words like “damn” and “go to hell” that need to be realistically addressed in the light of atheism. What do you think the reaction from my conservative readership would be? How could I set those up?

Another topic would be the definitions of “racism” and “racist.” Personally, I believe that without a biblical worldview and the Christian faith, the whole subject of racism is an ironic joke unwittingly perpetrated on a daily basis by millions upon millions. Yet, what would be the repercussions should I even approach that topic? Would I get banned from social media without even getting to make my point?

It’s not like I have nothing to write about; it’s just that there’s so much which poses a real challenge, even a danger, to put into print. Unfortunately, that only adds to unwanted stress.

Racist Coffee

So, as I was trying to decide if or what I would write about, I made the seemingly innocuous decision to make a Saturday-morning pot of coffee. If anything was going to get done this morning, besides the rest of the activities and chores which the rest of the day holds, a good cup of coffee made perfect sense.

Using a conventional Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker, I poured in the right amount of water, to begin with, and then placed in the filter to hold the grounds. For some unknown reason, possibly the result of criminal activity, I could not find my usual tool to measure out the appropriate amount of ground coffee to put in the filter; therefore, I selected a previously-unused measuring spoon from the counter drawer and put it to use.

A few minutes later – and not a minute too soon – the coffee maker beeped at me, signifying the coffee-making process had finished and my morning caffeine  was ready for consumption. Unfortunately, as soon as I poured the freshly-brewed coffee into my white ceramic mug, the blackness of the liquid signaled something went wrong. Obviously, the previously-unused measuring spoon resulted in me using too many coffee grounds for the amount of water in the pot.

The coffee was now too dark, too “black.”

Immediately…not like I had a chance to jokingly come up with it…immediately…just as soon as I looked down into my white cup with the “too black” coffee!…the thought came into my mind, “Great! All I wanted was a cup of coffee, and now I’m a racist.”

Folks, when you can’t even make a simple cup of coffee in the morning without the constant drumming of media messaging and labeling affecting completely unrelated actions, society…civilized society…is in big, big, trouble.

I looked at my coffee, then sat down to write. 

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Filed under blogging, community, Culture Wars, current events, Food, writing

Appetite for Comfort

It’s been nearly 5 years since I was “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress. This was the post that earned the honor. I hope it doesn’t make you too hungry for more 😉 

Comfort Food, That Is

There are some things in life that we always go back to when nothing else seems to do. It’s called comfort food.

Comfort food is the stuff that you want to eat when you’re depressed, when you’ve lost a limb, or when you’re girlfriend informs you that all along she has been an alien from Jupiter, and now she wants your brain to take back to her daddy.

Comfort food brings back fond memories of childhood and the “good-old-days” (unless you were a starving refugee), when Mom could make you feel better with nothing more than a spoonful of lard and some corn meal.

Comfort Central

Here in the southern United States we have a custom: when somebody dies, we eat.

Whenever a loved one passes away, bites the dust, or essentially assumes room temperature for an indefinite period of time, we trot them off to a funeral home, and then bring in every kind of unhealthy food imaginable. We all know that when one is suffering a terrible loss, comfort food will help dull the pain. And if nothing else, it will help you get to where your loved one is a little quicker than a salad will.

A typical southern funeral home has a dining area. This is where the family and friends can go when they are tired of standing around in the viewing room. They instinctively know that in that room is food which will make them feel better.

Serious Comfort

Well, not long ago my only blood-related uncle went home to be with the Lord. His body was taken to a funeral home in a place called Whitwell (pronounced “Wutwool“), Tennessee. And it was there that the funeral home staff did something that it does for all their families – serve homemade pinto beans.

Now, don’t be fooled, folks. These are not your ordinary beans. These are about the best pinto beans you will ever put in your ever-loving mouth! Served with some homemade cornbread, these beans made me tear up (no joke) as I remembered my granny, my dad, and a much, MUCH simpler life down on the river.

What makes these pintos so special is that they were soaked for 24 hours in water, then slow-cooked the next day in a crock pot with several slices of thick bacon. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but there are secrets to keep.

A Holy Command

Why do we prepare such food for funerals? Seriously? For one thing, sometimes it is hard to find the right words to say when someone is hurting. That’s when people do what they can, and many times the only thing they can do is prepare good food. Hurting people need to be cared for, and this is one way to show it.

Comforting one another is also something we are commanded to do. 1Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “comfort yourselves together, and edify one another.” And speaking of the hope of resurrection we have in Christ, the Apostle Paul said in the same letter, “comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:8).

But what happens when words are hard to find? Make a pot of seriously savory pinto beans and cornbread. Tears of heartache may turn into tears of culinary joy.

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Filed under Food, Relationships and Family