Category Archives: Life Lessons

Were You Spiritually Attacked?

Have you ever stopped to wonder whether or not you were under spiritual attack? Have you ever stopped to wonder what a spiritual attack actually is?

Let’s think about it for a moment.

We humans are made up of both spirit and flesh, and it is well understood that the flesh wars against the spirit. Sometimes a spiritual attack can come from our own fleshly desires; it doesn’t have to be from outside influences.

I believe there is an Enemy who wants to destroy our souls and thwart any effort to build the Kingdom of God. Certainly, any effort on his part would be considered a spiritual attack, no matter from which direction it comes. However, much of what wars against our spirit comes from the selfish desires we often refuse to battle.

The apostle Paul said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, but don’t let that statement for you. The flesh is weak when it comes to temptation, yet when it is the tempter it can be very, very strong.

Too often we give Satan and his minions far more credit than they deserve. More often than not the most dangerous enemy to our spirit is our own flesh. If you don’t believe me, then why else would we need to crucify it daily?

Focus on building up your spirit through prayer, faith, and obedience to Christ’s commands. Then remember that you put on the whole armor of God, not only to wage war against the Prince of Darkness, but also the petty, whining, selfish, lustful, envious flesh in which you reside.

You’re under more spiritual attack than you realize.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith, Life Lessons

Bio Request Fulfilled

Website On the Way

We are in the process of developing a new website for our little church. If you are curious, the company we are working with is ZaoMedia. Give Scott Grizzle a holler and tell him I sent you ūüôā

Anyway, Mr. Grizzle sent me an email asking for my bio to add to the upcoming site. After some hard thinking and prioritizing, I came up with what you see below and sent it to him.

I struggled with what to say. Wouldn’t you? I mean, it would have been great and all if someone else had written it, but whom? My wife? My daughters? They’d probably collaborate and come up with something like:

“Pastor Baker is a native Chattanoogan who loves to write, study, and preach to people. He never spends enough time with his wife and daughters, nor does he take out the trash on a regular basis. He cleans his plate at church functions, but he rarely washes his plates at home. Oh, he’s a great preacher and all, but you don’t know him like we do!”¬†

The best bio would come from the dog. If we had one of those translators like the kid had in the movie “Up,” then I’m sure it would read something like:

Jack with his beloved cheetah.

“Pastor Master is the best! You will like him much much much! He feeds me, pets me, goes out in the rain with me, let’s me stay close to him when it thunders, and lets me ride with him in his big car on Saturdays! He is the best man in the whole world, and he will give you treats when you pee…outside, that is!”

But, like I said earlier, I had to write my own bio for the website. Therefore, to the best of my ability, I came up with something that hopefully will give people the impression (should they actually read this) that I’m not an “ivory tower” kind of guy, just a sinner saved by grace. If not for the cross of Jesus and the grace of God, I’d be nothing.

The Bio

Pastor Anthony Baker is a native Chattanoogan, having called the area his home for all but the seven years he and his family spent in Kentucky. Now back in Soddy-Daisy, he’s all about rebirthing this historic church and reaching our community for the glory of God.

For decades Pastor Anthony was bound to a life of legalism, self-righteousness, and pride, but then the Lord graciously humbled him, taking everything away except his loving wife and sweet daughters. Nearly 20 years ago he hit rock bottom, learned what it was like to fail, and finally began the long process of growing deeper in faith and walking closer with Christ.

At one point Pastor Baker battled depression, alcohol, and suicide. Even now, life is not always easy, if ever. However, unlike those earlier days when he looked down his nose at other‚Äôs hurts and struggles, these days he can look into the eyes of the broken, disillusioned, and discouraged and say with compassion, ‚ÄúI‚Äôve been there, got the t-shirt, but Jesus made the difference‚ĶNow let‚Äôs walk down this road together.‚ÄĚ

Throughout the years Anthony has pastored churches in East Chattanooga and Lookout Valley, toured with several Christian music groups, and authored two books. He has always been the type of pastor who’s worked other jobs in order to support his family (bi-vocational), so he’s well aware of the struggles of normal life.

Anthony is married to Valerie (almost 25 years) and together they have three wonderful daughters: Alicia Westbrook (Josh), Katie, and Haley.

Pastor Baker attended Chattanooga State, UTC, Hopkinsville Community College, Western Kentucky University, Temple Baptist Seminary, and Covington Theological Seminary where he also is an adjunct instructor. He holds a Masters in Ministry and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Ministry.

Hopefully, the new website will be up and running in a couple of weeks. When it is I’ll link all of you to it ūüôā

Meanwhile, keep our little church (South Soddy Baptist) and my family in your prayers. 

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Filed under baptist, Church, legalism, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching

Different Metal, Different Furnace

Without a doubt, there is someone who needs to read this today. I know I did.

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts. – Proverbs 17:3 NKJV

Gold or Silver

In case you were not aware, there is a difference between gold and silver (Well, duh!). Seriously, there is a difference between the two, and that fact should not be taken lightly. Gold is gold, and silver is silver. Obvious stuff, right?

Well, sometimes the obvious is profoundly important.

Gold is extremely valuable but is soft and pliable. Silver is not as valuable per ounce but is nevertheless a harder precious metal. Gold is highly sought after and coveted; silver is more common but is still critically important for a wide range of applications, everything from electronics to medicine.

How one refines gold, compared with silver, is not the same. What’s more, the temperatures of the refiner’s fire is hotter for one than the other.

What R You?

When I read Proverbs 17:3 yesterday during a Sunday School class I teach, something obvious proved to be very profound: depending on how God wants us to be used, each one’s trial by fire will vary in intensity, the heat of which will determine what metal we are made of.

gold furnace

Source: The Australian

Unlike gold and silver, we are human; our qualities and usefulness change. Some days we are made of gold, while other days we are silver, but most of the time it is hard to determine which. That’s when the Refiner turns up the heat.

There is a lot to refining gold and silver. Not only is there heat involved, but various acids, too. Therefore, it should come as no surprise when God not only allows us to endure intense pressure (heat), but permits the caustic, painful situations of life to eat away the impurities within us.

God is the refiner of hearts.

Iron Man

But, you know what? Gold and silver, while both rare and beautiful, will never make good axes, swords, cannons, I-beams for skyscrapers, or bridges across raging streams.

Sometimes there are jobs that can only be done with iron.

Don’t feel special? Don’t think of yourself as gold-like? That’s OK! You’re important, too! As a matter of fact, the melting point of iron is nearly double that of gold.

You may think what you are going through right now is far tougher than anything a “golden saint” might deserve. Don’t lose hope; the fires forging you are instilling a strength that may be needed to wage war against the Enemy, support the heavy loads of many, or bridge the gap between understanding and ignorance.

Don’t curse the furnace. Let the Refiner do His work.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, self-worth, Struggles and Trials

What It Takes to Stay Married

Just married! Leaving the church with the most beautiful woman in the world ūüôā

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!

My List:

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.

Valerie’s List:

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Filed under Divorce, Life Lessons, Marriage, Relationships and Family

In My Father’s Honor

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

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 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.¬†

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.

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 ūüėČ

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

June 6th… Would We Do It Again?

d day

Seventy-four years have passed since the pride of the Allies, 156,000 strong, stepped out of landing craft and jumped out of airplanes into the mouth of a monster ready to eat them alive.

Seventy-four years have passed since young men from America, England, and Canada (and we must not forget Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland) landed on beaches called Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Seventy-four years ago, long before the fancy rock-climbing walls which are so popular in today’s health clubs and gyms, ¬†the 2nd Ranger battalion “led the way” up the 100 ft. cliffs of Pointe du Hoc.

Seventy-four years ago, on the 6th of June, 2,499 American and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413, gave their lives for the sake of freedom.

Seventy-four years ago men were stepping on the backs of their comrades as they sloshed through red water, breathed in the mist of war, and wondered if they would live to see the ground only yards (meters) in front of them.

On June 6, 1944, seventy-four years ago, it was said of those who landed:

They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” ‚ÄĒ President Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, June 6, 1944

It is the 6th of June, 2018, but are we still a people with the stomach to liberate? If we were the ones living seventy-four years ago, where would we be today?

Ask those who take a knee, or hide in a locker room when the anthem is played.

Ask those who protest the same American flag that their African-American ancestors fought and died for – the same ancestors who fought in segregated units, but were still ferociously proud to be Americans. What did the pilots of the Red Tail Squadron do when the flag was raised and the anthem was played?

For that matter, what did¬†Tuskegee Airmen¬†Dr. Harold Brown, a pilot with the renowned 332nd¬†Fighter Group in World War II (an all-black squadron) say when asked the following question during a recorded conference call: “Why [when the slavery trappings, the discrimination was all there] would you raise your right hand and swear to defend this country?”

“Oh, that’s very, very simple, in my opinion. I was a citizen of the United States of America! This was my country, too! Even though it had some shortcomings, it was still the greatest country in the world. There is no other country I would ever trade for it.” (Feb. 28, 2018)

Ask those who are burning the American flag because “America was never great.”

Ask the protesters who don’t even know why they protest.

image

The reflection pool at the WW2 Memorial in Washington, D.C. Each gold star represents 100 Americans who died or remain missing during the war.

It cost a lot to buy seventy-four years of freedom. Would we do it again?

If we could get them out of the locker rooms, maybe. But first, they would have to be willing to fight to defend something, and too many no longer believe what was purchased with the blood of others is worth fighting for.

Would we be willing to do it again?

If not, God help us.

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Filed under America, Countries, Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, World View

Things I Learned Before, During, and After My Daughter’s Surgery

The Surgery

This post was Katie-approved.

On Friday my middle daughter, Katie, underwent surgery to have her gallbladder removed. We appreciated all your prayers and well-wishes.

This morning (Saturday), as I sit here typing, Katie is across the room utilizing the recliner that was supposed to bring me joy and comfort after my rotator cuff surgery – it didn’t. I’m glad it’s helping her.

Hopefully and prayerfully…and please continue to pray for her…Katie will be up and going much better by tomorrow. However, I have my concerns.

Things I Learned

Katie is as unique as they come; there’s no one like her. She is uber sweet, persistently¬†positive, the sunshine in a dark room, and the one person for whom saying “It’s my pleasure” when serving customers at Chick-fil-A is not good enough…she says, “It’s my sincerest pleasure!”

But Katie is also the least pain-tolerant person I know, and she hates needles with a passing-out passion. Therefore, anyone who gives her pain, or allows pain to persist, is likely to be served something other than chicken.

So, in bullet-pointed fashion, here are some things I learned on the way to the hospital, before Katie’s surgery, during Katie’s surgery, and after Katie’s surgery, including the first day of recovery.

On the way to the hospital…

  • Maintaining a positive attitude is a good thing.
  • Maintaining unrealistic expectations is a bad thing.
  • Doctors and hospitals are always running behind, so it’s no use stressing; you’re gonna be late to check in – laugh about it.
  • Make sure you bring a gender-appropriate bag in which you will be responsible for lugging around 25 pounds of clothing, books, snacks, and phone chargers while moving from room to room. A grown, masculine man can grow weary of “nice purse” comments when the virtual suitcase in which the items are packed is pink.

At the hospital…

  • If you’re going to make use of the free valet parking, make sure all your important¬†items are secure or on your person before giving your keys to a guy with questionable hygiene.
  • It is possible for a nurse to think you’re a different patient, take you to the wrong room, prep you for a different surgery, all before asking if your name is the same as on the chart she’s looking at. Instead of having her gallbladder removed, Katie almost got a colonoscopy!

Pre-Surgery

  • Pray a lot, then just trust God to handle everything.
  • Remember that sweet smile; it may be a while before it comes back.
  • Don’t say “goodbye” as they wheel you away to be cut on.
  • Boyfriends have a tendency to hog the visitation time.

During Surgery – the Waiting Time

  • Bring your own food to nibble on, or else take out a loan to eat.
  • One must take the initiative to make new pots of coffee in the waiting room – the staff doesn’t care to drink tar.
  • Taking a book to read is a great thing, but be prepared for distractions… like worthless morning shows blaring on the waiting-room television, or visitors who don’t understand that one of the reasons you went along with the whole surgery thing is that you knew it would give you a couple of hours to get some guilt-free reading done.
  • Hosptial Wi-Fi is crappy.

Post-Surgery Recovery

  • Those intolerant to pain are nearly impossible to comfort.
  • Uber-sweet, godly little girls who are intolerant to pain may surprise those in the room with their¬†intimate knowledge of vulgarity.
  • Dad visitation privilages trump boyfriend visitation privileges.

First Day of Recovery

  • Calories don’t matter when making breakfast – at least for the ones NOT recovering.
  • Whiny, pain-intolerant people can get on your nerves, but you have to love them anyway – just keep giving them pain pills.
  • All it takes is one abdominal surgery to make an opinionated young woman reevaluate her beliefs on birth control and her desire to have children.
  • My first grandchild from Katie will probably be Chinese or Korean.

Again, thanks for your prayers and well-wishes. If nothing else, I learned a few things.

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Filed under current events, General Observations, Humor, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials