Category Archives: Life/Death

Heaven is a Personal, Permanent Place!

I preached on Heaven this morning. Want to watch the sermon (and me singing a song beforehand)? Well, to borrow from a funny guy, here’s your video.

(Oh, btw, please pardon the choppy internet service)

Click on the picture to watch the video. Thanks!

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Church, Life/Death, Preaching

It’s Hard to Write when Your Friend Dies

It’s nearly 10pm on a Saturday night, and I’m a pastor who has no energy for anything right now, especially to write. But this afternoon a friend died, and I have to write something.

Dr. David Self, the Associational Missionary for the Washington Baptist Association (Georgia), knows now what his faith was for – he sees what has been made sight.

Honestly, I have known others who’ve died after contracting COVID, but David was the first one who was a personal friend. I’m having a difficult time with it.

Oh, there are so, so many more people in this part of Georgia that are far more devastated by this loss than me. My loss is nothing like that of his wife, Kathy, or the rest of his family. It sure shook my world when my own father died, and I saw how it affected my mother and sister. So, I know this is harder for them than for me.

But if one thing remains, it’s my faith. The same faith the David Self had. The same that his family has, as evidenced by the Facebook post from his daughter, Kelly Self Carter.

My favorite hymn is “The Solid Rock.” To paraphrase the lyrics, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, not the recovery of health to those for which we desperately pray.

Before I learned of David’s passing, I had called for a gathering of folk to pray for him in the parking lot of our Associational Office. But before 10 minutes had passed after putting out the call on Facebook and over texts, I was told he died. He may have already been gone when I sent out the first message. But I went, anyway.

As I told another pastor, “Even if God didn’t heal David, He’s still worthy to be praised!” If it were not for the Lord, prayer would be useless and death would be inevitable. But it’s not! There is hope, and not only in this life, but when this life is over – because it will be, one day, COVID or not.

Consider the words of Job after he had lost everything but his life and his grieving wife…

Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Job 1:21

Would David had died anyway, despite our prayers? That’s not for me to say, but it was always right to pray. Just read what King David said after losing the first child he had with Bathsheba…

He answered, “While the baby was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let him live.'”

2 Samuel 12:22 CSB

We don’t know what God is doing, for His ways are higher than ours, and so are His thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). Therefore, being commanded to pray for each other, we pray – and we trust the One to whom we pray.

And what perfect timing! As if God wanted me to affirm the truthfulness of the previous sentence, I just got THIS from a friend on Facebook Messenger…

Please take a moment to thank your sweet church folks for all the prayers for my Cody when he was so sick from covid. He was able to come by our house for a little bit today and I was FINALLY able to hug my son!!! I thought I was possibly going to lose my boy… but sweet Christian people, who don’t even know us, prayed for God to intervene and heal him. Today I received the hug I wasn’t sure I ever would have again. 鉂わ笍

Rhonda Altum Barnette

We are all going to miss Dr. David Self. However, “we do not sorrow as those who have no hope,” for the hope that David had is the same that we have – that I have – and that’s in Jesus Christ. Our day will come, COVID or not, and on that day our faith will be made sight, as David Self is experiencing this moment.

Please go to church somewhere in the morning.

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Filed under Faith, Life/Death

Is This the Beginning of the End?

“After the Harvest” by Anthony Baker

At some point, when the preponderance of evidence leans so heavily in one direction, you’ve got to call it for what it is. So, as I look around at all that’s going on in this world, I think I’ve come to the conclusion this is the beginning of the end.

What do I mean by the end?

For as long as I can remember, at least as far back as the “turn or burn” movies of Estus Pirkle (d. 2005) and whole-Sunday-long prophecy services with Dr. Ed Vallowe (d. 2002), I’ve believed in the immanent return of Jesus Christ. To be more specific, I’ve always considered myself a pre-tribulationist and a pre-millennialist who believed, at least on paper, that the trumpet of the Lord could sound at any moment.

I’ve always believed that there would be a rapturing of the Church, a time of tribulation on Earth, and then the return of Jesus (the “second coming”) as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And I still do.

The only difference is that before it was something I said I believed, but I didn’t REALLY believe it so much that I got excited about it or talked about it much. Why is that?

Well, a lot of people have gone to bat in the game of end-time signs. Every time they come out swinging, it’s because of some new earthquake, some war, some evil politician or evil law. It’s always been something, and usually it’s always been something that was a symptom of the natural moral decline in the United States. In other words, it’s always been something, but always something that should have never been thought of as anything other than ordinary.

For example, this once-great nation we know as America is rapidly chasing after its own demise. Many look at our country and its unbelievably insane social and legal affirmations of things not even possible in Sodom and Gomorrah and conclude, “The end must be near.” But was the end near when Rome fell? Was the end near when Germany fell sway to the anti-Christ-like Adolf Hitler?

We’re Doomed

Let’s be honest, folks. America is doomed. Marxists are already marching in lockstep down every hallway in Washington, D.C. For crying out loud, the only thing separating the Pelosi’s and the Cortez’s from red-flag-waving Bolsheviks are the perks and pensions they would lose in a full-on revolution.

The majority of our government, all of our media, every BLM-like terrorist group (yes, I said it), nearly every center of education, and probably a majority of Americans under the age of 20 want nothing less than to replace Western culture (including the USA) with a godless, socialist Utopia.

Granted, most of Americans DO NOT think this way, but they are too afraid or too tired to speak out anymore.

Like I said, America is doomed. All we are waiting for is either a miraculous healing or for somebody to flip off the the life support.

But is the decline of this country the sole predictor of the proximity of the “end time”? No!

Just like the fall of every other empire or nation did not mean the return of Jesus was just around the corner. America could fall and float away like dust in the wind (I bet you can even hear the tune, can’t you?), but the end could still be a hundred years away.

Except . . . . .

Have you heard the term “COVID Clench“? What about “Operation Pandemic Plunder“?

No?

Well, that’s probably because I just coined those terms. However, pause for a short moment and consider how that governments around the globe, from local to national, are clenching on to every bit of power they can obtain and are literally stealing liberty from every citizen.

Just the other day New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled the latest and greatest governmental twist of the arm, that proof of vaccination is “the key to NYC.” In other words, being vaccinated will be one’s “passport” to all the wonders available to them in the Big Apple. However, should one NOT be injected with the vaccine, there will be no access to restaurants, businesses, places of entertainment, public social events, etc.

Or, you could say that without the “mark” of a needle, there will be no buying or selling, etc., etc., etc. Sound familiar?

He required everyone–small and great, rich and poor, free and slave–to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.

Revelation 13:16-17 NLT

Is Mayor Bill de Blasio the Antichrist? No, of course not. That’s ridiculous. But what about that “mark”? Not so ridiculous of an idea as it might have seemed a few years ago, huh?

Isn’t this just another 1918?

102 years before COVID-19 was released upon the world, the flu killed millions of people around the globe. It came and went, and many people warned something like it would come again. It was just a matter of time.

2020 came along and with it came the Pandemic. So, just like nations rise and nations fall, diseases and viruses rise and fall. Therefore, this virus is no more of a reason to think the end is near than the flu of 1918.

Or is it?

What’s the difference between a naturally-occurring virus and one created in a lab? One eventually dies via herd immunity, while the other continually adapts and morphs into an ever-increasingly effective weapon that is always one step ahead of all defenses.

What nation can survive a destroyed economy? The inability to work, pay taxes, or feed oneself will destroy one’s faith in self, government, and even one’s god. Then, when no nation can support its infrastructure; when no nation can feed its people; when every nation cries out for effective leadership; when the world is desperate enough, one Leader will be able to take total control, especially if he’s gifted with the ability to literally bring healing.

Do you seriously think, just looking at how the new rounds of vaccine booster shots show no signs of ending, especially if the virus keeps mutating, that we are nearing an end to ever-increasing government control? That those with a blood-lust for power and control will let this pandemic go to waste?

And, do you think that those in charge are really capable of stopping something that was more than likely created as a weapon of gradual mass destruction?

It might not be tomorrow. It might not be next year. But if you want to know my opinion, I think it is entirely reasonable to assume, based on the preponderance of hard-to-explain-away coincidences and parallels with Biblical prophecy, that this is the beginning of the end.

What if I’m wrong? Does that make everything OK?

Umm, not really. There’s still a deadly virus out there that’s even killing fully-vaccinated individuals. That being said, the end of the world for YOU might be only one quarantine away.

Therefore, to paraphrase the prophet Amos, one way or another, prepare to meet thy God (Amos 4:12).

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Filed under coronavirus, current events, Future, Life/Death, the future

It Won’t Be Much Longer

Good Wednesday, everyone! I just wanted to give you a quick update and then get back to work.

In about a week or so I will be done with all the writing requirements needed to finish my DMin. Lord willing, I will graduate July 30th!

When I get all of this out of the way, my writing here and other places will start up again, even if slow at first.

In the meantime, as you know, my mother passed away in March, leaving my sister and I without both our parents. My sister flew in from Germany to be here when my our mom died, but COVID red tape kept her from getting here in time. That was very painful for all of us, but especially for her.

A Dynamic Duo!

Once Rebecca arrived, besides the funeral and all that went along with a week of services in two different states, there was the arduous task of going through our mother’s belongings and deciding what to do with it all! She has literally been away from her husband and home for 3 months!

So, today is bittersweet. My sister is flying out of Atlanta, today. The past 3 months have been the best time I have ever had with her. We are closer now than we were when we were children, teens, or even when we played music in a band together. I am going to truly hate to see her leave, but I am happy that she will be able to get back home to her Carlos – I know he has missed her!

Do you know what’s next? For the very first time – ever – my wife and I will be alone! For some people, that’s a dream come true, and it sorta is for us, too. However, make no mistake, it won’t take long before the silence left after 29 years of laughter, tears, and all things “family” will be deafening.

Well, it won’t be long before we head out to the airport, stopping by a Cracker Barrel on the way (a last stop for American food). It won’t be long before we part ways for at least another year. It won’t be long until Valerie and I are by ourselves in a big house.

That all being said, I’m glad that sad departures won’t always be a thing. It won’t be that long until time will be no more and parting will be a thing long forgotten.

I look forward to sharing some stories with you!

Until later,

Anthony

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Filed under Family, Life/Death, Relationships and Family

I’m NOT Going to Puke! I’m n…

This is going to be an unusual entry, as if the title wasn’t enough of a clue. I’m going to talk about holding back from puking – puking my emotions, that is.

Let’s start with the whole disgusting vomiting thing.

You know what it’s like – that feeling of a sour stomach, a queasiness, a warning that your body is preparing to expel what it thinks is harmful to process, right?

Have you ever had that feeling but determined you were going to do everything in your superpowers to stop it from happening?

First, you try to convince yourself that it’s nothing, really. I mean, sure, you didn’t give thanks to Jesus for that sandwich from Chick-fil-A because, after all, it came pre-blessed. And that sushi from the kiosk in the food court didn’t taste too strange, at least no more than normal.

The next thing you do is think, “It’s only a little upset stomach,” then ask, “Where’s the Mylanta?” Yeah, that’s all you need.

The sweat begins to bead on your forehead. More excuses. More rationalizing. You find a place to lie down and moan a muffled declaration into your pillow: “I’m NOT going to throw up!”

Sometimes it works. Sometimes.

Well, this is the best way I can describe the feelings I have after the death of my mother, Rebecca Marie Baker, this past Tuesday morning.

Rebecca Marie Baker 12/28/44 – 3/16/21

It’s like I feel a familiar sensation, a pressure, a something… it’s like I know if I was so many other people I would have already broken down and wept. But when the urge comes my immediate response – and it’s actually a physical, tangible response – is to tap it back down. And I am not even sure if it’s on purpose. Actually, I know it’s not.

If the body eats something that is bad for it, the natural response is to expel it. To keep it inside and to digest it could be harmful.

But what of the heart? What of the emotions? What of pain and grief?

I mentioned this to my wife and she suggested I “let it out.” But the last time I cried uncontrollably was when I stood at the door of the bedroom of one of our daughters after she moved off to college.

I don’t like to cry like that. I don’t like being that weak. I especially don’t like people seeing me that way.

However, Jesus wept. Yes, He did.

But not every time.

At least that we know.

I know these last few weeks were difficult, and I know we talked a lot about you going to heaven, but now that you are gone, I’m going to miss you. I am glad I was able to tell you I loved you and to hear your weak voice whisper back, “I love you, too.”

I’m thankful I was able to sit by your bed, hold your hand, and sing Amazing Grace to you as you left this world of pain. I wish I could have seen the look on your face when you breathed your first taste of heavenly air.

I can only imagine what it was like for you and Daddy to see each other again.

This is why it’s hard to cry. This is why it’s difficult to grieve. You are where you were born again to go.

Your faith has become sight!

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15 NLT

I’m happy for you, Momma! I’m sure there are tears of joy where you are, too.

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Filed under Life/Death, Relationships and Family

Retired, Rusty Relic: Still Useful

Watercolor & Gouache on Cold-Pressed (by Anthony Baker)

It鈥檚 just an old truck sitting in a field. It will most likely (almost guaranteed) never run the dirt roads of middle Georgia again.

But is it worthless? Good for nothing? Useless?

NO!

If nothing else, it inspired this painting – and this post 馃檪

What about when people are unable to run the roads like they used to? What about when the old, broken-down, rusty relics from a different era can鈥檛 haul the load, only sit where they鈥檙e planted?

Are THEY useless?

It鈥檚 sad if you think so.

How much is inspiration worth?

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Filed under art, hobbies, Life/Death, old age, maturity

I Will Speak Out While I Can

The Cancel Culture

I am sure you’ve seen it, everywhere you turn there is someone else getting blackballed. If it’s not a Republican for supporting Trump, a celebrity caught by a hot mic saying something supposedly bigoted, or whole media platforms that offer too much freedom of speech, it’s lowly folk like you and me who somehow gain the attention of the all-seeing eye of Big Tech.

No one is safe from being blocked from Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon. No one is safe from being de-humanized. For that’s really the point, isn’t it? To deny a person with whom the uppity-ups disagree the right to exist and prosper in the public square, even though they’ve done nothing illegal? And the “wrong” they’ve done, well, it’s all subjective, correct? It has to be, for objective good and evil is in itself a taboo subject.

Therefore, while I still have a platform, I am going to share what I believe regardless what others may think or whether or not they approve.

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31:8-9 KJV

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

Today is a somber and serious day to celebrate. Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, a day that started with the proclamation first made by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 on the 11th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Today is also a somber day to remember because it was the first year that Donald Trump did not make a proclamation for this day. Bill Clinton refused for 8 years. Obama refused for 8 years, also. Now I can only assume there will never be another presidential proclamation celebrating the sanctity of human life, for Biden will surely promote the funding of the current national holocaust begun in 1973 with the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and renewed federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Today was also a day when I used the pulpit I’ve been given to stand of the Truth of God’s Word and hold nothing back in my denunciation of abortion. As I requested, God gave me boldness and courage to say what needed to be said, no punches pulled. If it gets me banned from social media, then so be it. It’s in God’s hands.

I was just the messenger.

“Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed. – Jeremiah 48:10 ESV

7 Points of Needed Agreement

In this morning’s sermon (which, incidentally, did not last longer than normal) I shared a record 17 points! Actually, the first 10 were not my own, but 10 ways Christians could celebrate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

But the last 7 points were mine, and I want to share them with you, today. Unfortunately, I am 100% positive not all of you will be in agreement. However, we should be.

Things we should agree on and/or support if we believe Human Life is Precious and we are made in the image of God.

  1. Life is a right; abortion is a decision.
  2. Human life is more valuable than any other form life.
  3. Human life at any age, young, old, or preborn, his intrinsic value and purpose.
  4. Adoption should be encouraged and prayerfully considered.
  5. The Death Penalty is not immoral; God demanded it. 聽Genesis 9:6
  6. To memorialize a life is to acknowledge the value of life.
  7. Saving a life has eternal ramifications.

Now, I could expound on each one of those points, and maybe I should, but I would encourage you to look up my sermon on our church’s Facebook page. If you have specific questions about any of these points, leave your question in the comment section.

But I do want to leave you with one other thing.

If Not Sanctity, then WHAT?

The word “sanctity” is very appropriate when talking about the value of human life in the context of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc. Consider the various definitions I collected from the web…

  • The quality of being very important and deserving respect; the state or quality of being holy, sacred, or saintly.
  • the quality or state of being holy or sacred聽:聽INVIOLABILITY

Consider the synonyms listed:

holiness聽路聽godliness聽路聽sacredness聽路聽blessedness聽路聽saintliness聽路聽sanctitude聽路聽spirituality聽路聽piety聽路聽piousness聽路聽devoutness聽路聽devotion聽路聽righteousness聽路聽goodness聽路聽virtue聽路聽virtuousness聽路聽purity

Yet, when our government leaders, our media, our entertainment, and half our electorate mock, bemoan, belittle, and censure those who believe in the sanctity of human life, specifically the innocent life within a mother’s womb, then what?

What is the antonym of sanctity? . . . “wickedness.”

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” – 2 Timothy 2:19 NIV

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says '" We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life- the unborn -without diminishing the value of all human life. President Ronald Reagan national RIGHT TO LIFE'

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Filed under Abortion, America, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Life/Death

7 Questions I Feel Impressed to Ask You – Because We’re Not Promised Tomorrow

shutterstock_12937579 - Curata Blog

While getting ready for tomorrow’s sermon…

(which has nothing to do with what I’m about to ask)…

I came across a list of questions I had written a while back.

I think I had compiled them as an introduction to a sermon on James chapter 4.

But as I glanced over them tonight, a heaviness came over me, along with a feeling that I should share these questions on my blog.

Like now.聽

So, here they are:

1. What could you do today that you’re putting off till tomorrow?

2. What are you planning for in the future that is robbing from today?

3. What good do you feel led by God to do?

4. How many years have come and gone? How many resolutions have you made and not kept?

5. How many years do you have left?

6. Are you filtering your plans through God’s will?

7. What is His will for “now”? (Oh that we could have more of a “now” faith!)

Some people are so busy planting seeds for the flowers in the future that they forget to smell the flowers that are already in bloom.

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Filed under blogging, Future, Life/Death, Preaching

When Your Heroes Die

This morning I posted a heartfelt and serious impromptu video directed at my youngest daughter.

However, it鈥檚 for everybody.

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Filed under Apologetics, current events, Depression, Life/Death

The Unspoken Variable In the Death of Rayshard Brooks

The following video was recorded this afternoon as part of our “afternoon devotionals.” It was recorded while I was waiting with my wife and mother for seating at Cracker Barrel in Augusta, GA.

I had just watched the news conference on Fox News (on my phone) while waiting for my mother to receive her chemotherapy treatment. It literally made me both sick and angry, for out of all the praise for their deceased relative, none of the family laid any blame on the fact that Mr. Brooks had been overly intoxicated.

Just like the disgraceful Mayor of Atlanta, Ms. Bottoms, they blamed the police for the “murder” of their loved one. Not once did they consider the role alcohol played in the actions of Mr. Brooks, nor how if he’d been sober this probably wouldn’t have happened.

Folks, let me be clear, I cannot show you definitively from Scripture that drinking alcohol is a sin; it’s not. However, I most certainly can make a strong case for avoiding it! I love the way the New Living Translation interprets these particular words of wisdom from King Solomon:

“Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.” – Proverbs 20:1 NLT

Like I alluded to at the beginning of this post, having a drink, a beer, or whatever every now and then will not send you to hell: it’s not inherently a sin (Romans 14:17-23; 1 Corinthians 10:23-33; Colossians 2:16; 1 Timothy 5:23).

However, the unwise will disregard the warnings and end up meeting their Maker a lot quicker than those who can think and act with a clear head.

Don’t let yourself be controlled by something that makes you do stupid stuff. The consequences can be deadly.

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Filed under Alcohol, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, current events, Life/Death, wisdom