Category Archives: Future

“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

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

A Long 179 Hours (5 Years After the Fact)

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 5 years since I finally finished my Masters in Ministry. The following was first published in January of 2013. On a side note, I also received the seminary’s Theology Award – yay me!

Woo Hoo!

Finally, at the end of this spring semester, I will be graduating seminary with an M.Min. It has been a long time coming, too. As a matter of fact, there are people who were born after I started college who already have doctorates and are practicing medicine!

Nevertheless, even though it is not a Doctorate of Divinity or a Doctorate of Philosophy, it is still an accomplishment. It is an accomplishment that has been brought about by the accumulation of 179 credit hours. If you add to that the hours I completed that were not accredited, I would have close to 225!

How Long?

But what does all that really mean? How long did it take to complete 179 hours? Seven and a half years? Far from it, my friends. Far from it.

The average college student, if he didn’t do anything else, could have completed all of the above hours of courses in 6 years.  Add in the total amount I have taken and an average student could have done it all in 8 years, if not sooner. So, when you stop and look at how long it took me, well, let’s just say I am not average.

Here are a few points to put things in perspective…

  • 1971 Press ReleaseRegGas was less than $1 per gallon. The year after I graduated high school, a friend of mine and I took a 1971 Chrysler Imperial on a road trip from Tennessee to Florida. That car could only get 200 miles to a tank of gas, and we still had money to spend.
  • Cassette Tapes to Clouds. When I first started college I was so excited to get a Pioneer cassette deck for my 67 Mustang. Now, my iPhone can hold more music than I could have afforded to own in the 80’s.
  • Bag Phone to iPhone. The first cell phone I used was bolted to the floor of a truck and had a rotary dial, not buttons. The first cell phone I owned came in a bag with a battery four to five times the size of an iPhone. I couldn’t always afford to talk, but I would hold it up to my ear while driving (it was legal to do that back then), especially in the dark, just to show off.
  • Typewriters and Printers. Most people don’t remember typewriters, but I had to use them in high school. Later, after the advent of personal computers, I was able to snag a Tandy 1000. But do you remember those old printers that used paper that had to be guided on rollers? It would take 10 minutes to print a 10-page paper! Still, it was better than typing.
  • Textbooks to E-books. When I first started college an e-book was unheard of. Now textbooks are offered for iPads, Kindles, and phones. I still prefer something with paper, however.
  • Babies to Baby Makers. I have been going to college for so long that babies born when I started have already graduated college and started families! Those babies are now older than the age of girl I was dating in 1987!

It has been a long 179 hours, that’s for sure. Sorta reminds me of eternity. The big difference is that I’m actually looking forward to eternity 🙂

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Filed under Future, General Observations, Life Lessons, wisdom

13+ Things I DON’T Want To Do In 2018

Based On a Sermon

Five years ago I preached a sermon to close out the year of 2012. The following 13 points were part of that sermon: what I did NOT want to do in 2013. I reposted the list last January for 2017.

Unfortunately, numbers 10, 11, & 12 are the only ones I’ve not done; I failed on the rest. Just goes to show you why a preacher needs to preach to himself more often. Did I hear an “amen”?

But this is a new year, and all I can do is try again. The only difference is that for 2018 I’m going to take my 13 and raise me 5. Therefore, here are 13+ things I DON’T want to do in 2018.

I Don’t Want To…

1. Believe another politician. Why did I ever? I won’t do it this year, that’s for sure. Even if he/she is telling the truth, how would I know? Let God be true, and every man a liar, especially those running for office (Romans 3:4).

2. Eat more in one sitting than the average family in Africa eats in a week. (Prov. 23:21; 21:17)

3. Lie, cheat, or steal, even when it’s socially acceptable. This is especially important during tax season, but there are many times we lie to each other, deprive each other, and take what isn’t ours. Have you ever told someone you were “fine” when you actually weren’t? You lied. Used two coupons instead of one, just because the cashier didn’t notice? You stole.

4. Be angry.  Anger rarely solves anything. Angry people are miserable and always finding fault. Angry people turn a leisurely drive into a demolition derby. “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

5. Whine or complain. What do I have to complain about? Really?

6. Tell people how stupid they are. I don’t understand why some people act the way they do, but I need to be a little more understanding of idiots, morons, ignoramuses, and bone-headed nincompoops. They must answer to God, not me, for their actions (Rom 14).

7. Add another x to my large. I can’t afford any more clothing. Even now I must wear Hawaiian shirts year-round because nothing will stay tucked in. I mean, seriously! The last thing I need is to expand the “temple.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

8. Lose another favorite sock. I can’t figure out how it happens, but something has to be done.

9. Waste time.  Today I listened to my two girls play with a new ukulele. They laughed and sang.  Soon they will be grown, and there will be no more music, games, or bedtime stories. “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Psalm 144:4).

10. Get a divorce.  Many do it because the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. They don’t realize the unnatural stuff has a nasty aftertaste. I want to stay with the woman God gave me. Who could be better than a gift from God?  “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

11. Give one more dollar to a guy on the street….without offering the gospel as a condition. If he wants a dollar, then fine. I’ll give him $5 if he lets me tell him about Jesus.

12. Be on a reality TV show. So many people say, “Anthony, your family would make a great reality show.” I say, “Yes, I know.” However, it ain’t gonna happen. The world isn’t ready for it.

13. Forget to pray. I don’t pray enough. More is better. What I need is to follow David’s example and pray morning, noon, and evening (Psalm 55:17). I shudder to think how much I’ve given up by forgetting to spend time with God.

James 4:17  “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

Nor do I want to…

14. Have another rotator cuff surgery.  Honestly, this has not been as bad as some people said it would be, but it’s bad enough. I seriously do NOT want to go through this again.

15. Preach another boring or routine sermon. Honestly, what excuse do we have to preach anything that’s not engaging, exciting, or exalting? How dull do we have to be – or how little do we really care – to deliver the life-changing Gospel in such a way that the hearer would yawn??

16. Assume the new blue toothbrush is mine. I don’t even want to talk about it.

17. Move again. We moved twice last year, and we not even done! If I have to move again, it’s going to have to wait till 2019, not a minute earlier.

18. Waste another God-given opportunity. I’m getting too old to waste any time (and I have less than I did 5 years ago). But aside from time, I don’t want to waste any opportunity God gives me to do anything, especially tell people about Him.

 

Look for “20 Things I Want To Be Perfectly Clear In 2020” two years from now.

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Filed under Christian Living, Defending Traditional Marriage, Divorce, Do not judge, Future, God, Life Lessons, Preaching, Relationships and Family, scary new year, the future, Uncategorized

It’s Going to Be a Good Year

Happy 2018!

It is the afternoon of the first day of 2018, and I am looking forward to what’s ahead. I can only hope what lies ahead are things that will bring me happiness, but I can’t assume; some of the things that bring us the most joy are not always the things that initially brings us much happiness.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to being happy more often than not. I mean, even in the hard times and through seasons of disappointment, do we not have a choice? Can we not find a way to rejoice in the positive instead of dwelling on the negative?

For example, when I left the surgeon’s office the other day after getting stitches out of my shoulder, one of the nurses spoke to me. As I passed by with my arm in a sling, probably a little pale from the stress of it all, he asked, “Are you doing OK?” I paused, looked back, and replied,

“You know, there are people in the world who have to use their toes to brush their teeth. I don’t have to do that, so I guess I’ll be OK – it could be worse.”

And that’s really it, isn’t? Most of the things we complain about are really nothing more than first-world problems. Most of our unfulfilled dreams and expectations could be traced back to desires that most of the world would find laughable, if not absurdly immoral. Most of you who are reading this could be much worse off than you are in every area of life, everything from finances to relationships, or from health issues to housing issues.

Heck, if you didn’t have to ride an hour on an unsafe, crowded bus in 90-degree weather, all just to get to a place where you could stand in line to get access to a computer and internet, then you are automatically better off than hundreds I saw do just that in Zimbabwe.

I have a Savior who loves me and wants to commune with me, even when I forget He’s there. I have a God who is there every morning before I wake, painting a one-of-kind sunrise just for me! I am able to witness and experience the incredible complexity of nature, all with senses designed to recognize them and give glory to their Creator! I am blessed!

So, this is going to be a good year! I just know it! All it will take is recognizing what I have, as opposed to what I don’t have. I could even go a step further and recognize what I don’t have, as opposed to what I could be enduring.

This is the [YEAR] that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be GLAD (i.e., happy) in it! – Psalm 118:24

Our newest game – a cashless “Monopoly.” Scary, really.

….even if in the first game of the year I play with my youngest daughter, Haley, she completely decimated me and obtained complete control of everything. Good for her! 😉

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Filed under Future, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, the future

Resolutions to Avoid in 2018

Just for the fun of it…and maybe as a reminder to myself…I created a list resolutions…

A list of resolutions to AVOID… at all cost.

In other words, if you resolve to do the following, you may not live through 2018 (not in good shape, at least).

10 Resolutions to Avoid in 2018

1. I resolve to leave the seat up every time I go to the toilet as a sign of my manly rights.

2. I resolve never to say I’m sorry – unless I mean it, of course.

3. I resolve to read the Bible only when it’s projected on the big screen, and only on Sunday mornings, provided there’s enough free coffee and muffins beforehand.

4. I resolve never to waste any more food, especially that last donut or piece of pecan pie.

5. I resolve to limit my prayer time to blessings over food, when called upon at church, and the next time the cell phone bill is due.

6. I resolve to be more trusting of the government.

7. I resolve to spend more time at work and less time with my family.

8. I resolve to change my spouse’s mind, or else.

9. I resolve to keep more to myself and avoid other people.

10. I resolve to keep everything exactly the way it is right now.

So, what do you think? Are there any you would like to add?

 

 

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Filed under Christian Living, current events, Future, General Observations, Humor

Losing Track of Time

I’m sitting at the kitchen table at 6:26 in the morning. If today had been a work day, I’d be late. However, it’s Saturday morning, I’ve been awake off and on throughout the night, and I’m recovering from surgery. …Not morning as usual.

Tuesday was the day I had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder, plus an additional procedure on my left hand. Since then, my nights and days have blended together to the point I’m rarely sure what day it is, much less the time. I tend to want to sleep when others are awake, and wake up when there’s not even a decent infomercial on TV.

This morning I woke up and realized I needed to text someone about an important issue. Yet, when I looked at my phone it was 5 a.m.

I nodded off.

Then, thinking enough time had passed in order to avoid an awkwardly-early communication, I picked up my phone once again… 5:12 a.m.

Seriously, this was becoming frustrating! My sickness, my brokenness, my wounds, my recovery has twisted and distorted my understanding of day and night, of time itself!

At 6:15, I thought of sin.

In Mark 2:17 Jesus said: “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Then, I thought of how often our spiritual brokenness must mess with our ability to truly appreciate what time it actually is.

In the above verse, Jesus made sin analogous to being sick. As the Great Physician, He can diagnose the problem and provide the remedy. But once the surgery has taken place, and even though we are in recovery, do we not still have difficulty telling the time?

We may know Christmas is around the corner, but sometimes our personal aches and pains negatively affect our preparing for the big day. Even worse, our tendency to rest improperly, or too much, may cause us to miss an opportunity to communicate something eternally important.

It’s now 7:20. My left thumb is tired, and so am I. I’m going back to bed…I think.

And I’ve still got those cursed hiccups!

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Filed under Christianity, Future, General Observations

It All Started With, “Let’s Go Get Breakfast!”

I have been accused of giving too many details and making my stories too long, so I will spare you many of the details and try to make this story short.  Nevertheless, just remember, leave out just one little detail, and instead of a cake, you get a brick.

But anyway…

It all started a couple of weeks ago when my wife woke me up with a smile and said, “Let’s go get breakfast!”  It sounded like a good idea, as many good ideas do, but it was a Saturday morning, and there was little on our schedule (for a change), so I should’ve known something was about to go wrong.

The only thing we needed to do before heading out to a place that sold pancakes was to go into a room in the basement of our church building – to a small room where we were storing some boxes of personal items during our move to the parsonage –  and retrieve one small file for my daughter. When we saw that the file was wet, we knew something was terribly wrong.

Just as soon as we started moving a few boxes around, we found out that the whole floor was soaking wet, and every box that was anywhere close to the floor was wet, too.  And not only was everything wet, but there was mold all over the boxes. Why did my wife get my hopes up? I was really looking forward to those pancakes.

Needless to say, the rest of that Saturday morning consisted of unpacking a room full of boxes, including separating all the items, and making sure nothing was ruined.  Unfortunately and tragically, there were some casualties. Pictures.

How it was that boxes full of of priceless and irreplaceable photographs ended up in the boxes closest to the wet floor, I will never know.  What I do know is that that afternoon we were forced to take a melancholy trip down memory lane.

At one point my wife wept like someone had died. One of the photographs that was nearly completely ruined was a one-of-a-kind of her mother and father. It was impossible for me to reassure her that everything would be OK, because I couldn’t; that was the only photograph of its kind.

They were also other items that were either ruined or nearly destroyed. Some of those were keepsakes that were created by our children when they were very young, and one item was a construction-paper-version of Noah’s Ark that our nephew made.  But even though there were some tragic losses, most of the photographs were only wet and a little moldy around the edges. So, what we had to do at that point was rescue what we could  before they dried and stuck together.

My wife and daughters and I began taking photographs out, one by one, laying them out to dry.  The only  place we had to do that was in another Sunday school room across the hallway.  What started out as a family outing in search of breakfast, ended up being a family project: create the largest display of damp photographs in our family’s history.

Now, on a sidenote, I took some photos of all the photos, just like my daughter Katie did. But, as always, Katie cannot just take a picture, she has to create photographic art.

So, again, what started out as a quest for breakfast ended up being something else: a time to make memories out of memories.

If I wanted to take more time, I could list several lessons that could be learned from what happened that Saturday morning when breakfast was skipped and photos were saved.  But there’s one lesson that should be pretty obvious from what happened that day, and the truth of it can be found in Proverbs 27, verse one:

Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

Sometimes breakfast will have to wait.

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Filed under Future, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials