Category Archives: Life/Death

The Price of Freedom

Memorial Day

Tomorrow is the day on which we Americans pause to remember and honor those who have fought and died for our country. We also honor those who have served and are serving.

Unfortunately, most people use this day to only focus on the celebration aspect of the holiday, not the memorial. But had it not been for those men and women who bled in the trenches and fell from the sky, there might not be a place to hold a barbecue. We celebrate because we are free, but that freedom came with a price.

Visiting Memorials

Three years ago at this time I visited Washington, D.C.. with my family, and one can’t visit D.C. without going to the memorials, especially on Memorial Day.

It had been a long time since the last time I was here, and new monuments to the fallen had been erected. One of them, which is probably the most impressive, is the World War 2 Memorial. I took my time exploring it.

One of the places at the WW2 Memorial is pictured below. Gold stars are affixed to a curved wall above a reflective pool. A plaque beside the reflective pool reads, “The Price of Freedom.”

Each star represents 100 who died in the war to defeat the Axis powers. Did you get that? 1 star = 100 dead. 

image

On this day let us pause and remember the lives sacrificed so that we (and the world) might live in freedom. Remember also that those stars represent mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and scores of children whose loss purchased our gain.

Freedom isn’t free.

 

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Filed under America, Life/Death, Vacation

Boycotting Georgia?

I, for one, regardless of Hollywood, support Georgia’s Governor, the new fetal heartbeat law, and the rights of the unborn.

The arguments from those boycotting Georgia are that this is an “attack on women,” or an attempt to “hold women hostage.” However, these and other similar protests do nothing but avoid and mislabel reality.

You see, it’s not about women’s rights; it’s about human rights, particularly the right to life – and more specifically, the right to not be torn apart limb from limb in your mother’s womb, or left to die on a stainless steel table while your “doctor” finishes a sandwich and paperwork.

Those who oppose this law and want to see it overturned must one day answer to their Creator for what they actually support: Infanticide, murder, and the torture of innocents.

Boycott Georgia? Not me! I fear a holy God more than Alysa Milano.

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Filed under Abortion, America, Culture Wars, current events, Life/Death, politics

Viewing Home

There’s a place I used to go when I was younger, when I was in much better shape, and when my family still lived down by the river (but not in a van). It was a bluff overlooking the Tennessee River Gorge, right above where we lived.

Just the other day, as I walked out of the cardiologist’s office, I saw in the waiting room a photo on canvas, a photo of the very place I used to hike to as a kid. Emotions took my breath away.

I moved a chair out of my way and used my phone to take a picture – this picture – of the picture.

There it was, the view like no other in Tennessee, like few in the world. It was the view of my home from on top of that rocky outcrop that I’d gladly hike for a few hours to reach.

Oh, how I’d love to go there again, except this time with my wife and girls! I would love for them to share in the awe and grandeur of God’s perfect river view.

If you were to sit on the edge of the rock, to your left you would see the Tennessee River flow down from the direction of Chattanooga. Below your feet would be a hundred-foot drop to the tops of maple and oak trees. To your right would be (as you see here) the river on which we’d fish, ride in a boat, and watch the rains from every storm approach us like a white wall.

This was Cherokee country. This was moonshine country. This was the place where my great grandfather immigrated to after hobo-ing a train out of Rainbow City, Alabama. This is where my grandfather married a half-Cherokee woman and built a house out of rough-cut pine that he and his father cut at the saw mill. This is where my dad and my uncle would sneak across the river at night to take food to my grandpa Baker who was hiding out from the revenuers.

This was where my dad got his first and last whiskey still at the age of 14, but gave it up after the plum whiskey nearly killed him.

This is where we would later live after my dad met my mom, gave his heart to Jesus, and displayed what it really looked like to be changed by the Gospel.

This is where I learned to shoot, hunt, fish, and be proud of my “hillbilly” roots. It’s also where my cousin and I snuck what we thought were .22 cal. blanks out of my uncle’s gun cabinet and then proceed to shoot at each other across a field at night. Actually, I had the blanks, but Danny had the bullets.

I can say with all certainty, he missed.

This is where I would accept the call to preach at age 16.

This is the place I used to call home, but no longer. Even if I wanted to move back there, the millionaires have bought up much of what used to be my stomping grounds, at least what’s not now part of the Tennessee River Trust. I’d never be able to afford a place to build a campfire, much less a house, even if the old family property was available.

But that’s OK.

Sure, there’s a sentimental ache in my heart to stand on that bluff again, to look down on my old home. But the older I get, the more I have a longing to see someplace else, someplace where I’ll be welcome forever… A place I’ve been reading about in an old Book.

From what I’ve been told, well… the view there is spectacular! Even infinite!

And there’ll be no cardiologist waiting rooms, either.

 

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Filed under Family, General Observations, Life/Death, places, wisdom

Our Condolences to the Held and Evans Families

Two of our three daughters attend/attended Bryan College in Dayton, TN. Katie is in her last semester finishing up her student teaching, while Haley took classes while doing dual enrollment during high school.

Both thought very highly of their conservative Bible professor, Dr Held.

On Saturday, Dr. Held’s daughter, a native of Dayton, TN, and a popular progressive Christian author and activist, died at the age of 37.

As a conservative Christian pastor and blogger, I maintained strong disagreements with Rachel Held Evans, and thought her opinions and doctrinal positions were often dangerous, if not heretical. However, she was always someone’s daughter, and I can understand that kind of love.

Therefore, on behalf of our daughters and myself, we would like to offer our sincerest, heartfelt condolences to the Held and Evens families. May the God of peace comfort you as you rest in the Hope of reunion.

In shared grief,

Rev. Anthony C. Baker

https://www.foxnews.com/us/rachel-held-evans-progressive-christian-author-dies-37

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Filed under Family, Life/Death, Parenting

Thoughts On A Renewed Lease

I don’t want to dwell on the subject too much, but I’m still experiencing new insights and emotions stemming from my recent heart attack and surgery.

Today, I sat through the funeral service for the father of some childhood friends of ours. Thankfully, he was a follower of Christ, and his homegoing was more of a celebration than a time of mourning.

But it was when I walked up to the casket a little while ago that the cold reality of my own mortality chilled me. It’s one thing to say you know that death will come to us all, that one day we all will breath our last breath and meet God, but had it not been for a shift change and a doctor who did one more blood test, I would have been in a casket last week!

It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). I could have been in the presence of God at this moment, but I’m not. I could have been lying there, stiff, cold, dressed in my best suit. I could have been dead, but I wasn’t.

Yet, it will happen, eventually.

You, me, all of us…it will happen.

But here’s the disturbing thing: no matter how much I’d like to boast to the contrary, I’m not ready, at least not nearly enough.

Sure, my salvation is secure; that’s not the issue. I will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and my works will have nothing to do with whether or not I will enter into the presence of my Father and King; by grace I am saved through faith.

But I wasn’t ready last week, and I’m barely more ready, today. What am I talking about?

I wasn’t living with the immediate expectation that at any moment my number would be called, that my appointment was near. Maybe this is why I did not have a real sense of urgency. I was living like tomorrow was a given.

But it’s not.

Some have asked, “I bet you feel like you’ve been given a new lease on life, don’t you?” Well, yeah! But it’s only a “lease,” and one day what I’ve been given must be returned.

Did you know there are penalties for returning a leased car in poor condition?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve been acting more like I own this ride, but in reality I should be cleaning out the cup holders and doing a little vacuuming.

I don’t know when my lease is up.

Do you?

(Expect more thoughts on this subject as reality continues to sink in.)

 

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Filed under Life/Death

It’s a Reality Show In the Making

Folks, I’m just going to shoot straight with you this Saturday morning. I only have a short amount of time to write this, so I’m just going to type it, post it, and not worry about the aesthetics.

Like the title of this post says, our life is like a dad gum reality show in the making. I don’t know who would sponsor it, and I don’t know who would watch it, but there’s more that happens to us in any given week than ever takes place on a TV reality show. The DRAMA! The TRAGEDY! The COMEDY!

The only problem is that what happens in our family, should it be made into a reality TV program, would be considered made-up, fake, or overblown just to get ratings. In other words, no one would believe it.

You may be reading this with a little smirk, thinking to yourself, “Yeah, right. It couldn’t be THAT bad, Anthony. Everybody’s got their issues.” Maybe, but consider what has happened in just the last couple of weeks.

  • After 14 months out of work (except for the occasional insurance commission), I finally got through all the red tape of getting my CDL (Commercial Drivers License) back in order to drive a school bus – that story is a book to itself. THEN, I only worked 2 days before Spring Break came – without pay.
  • Friday, the last day of Spring Break, I had a heart attack which required 4 days in the hospital and 2 stents. Now I can’t drive a school bus until I’m cleared by a cardiologist.
  • Our insurance through the Marketplace changed, so NONE of our doctors were covered – we had to find new ones. The only problem is that hardly any doctors or hospitals in our area take the new insurance! SOOOO, I’m having to wait 2 weeks to see a cardiologist.
  • The day before yesterday, in the morning, on the first day I was at home from the hospital, my mother (who stays with us) wouldn’t wake up. We had to call an ambulance. I had to take a nitro pill. She went to the hospital and didn’t wake up until 8 p.m.! We still don’t know why!
  • While at the hospital, I got a little too winded, so my wife said she would push me in a wheelchair. On the way to the van she flipped her knee scooter – the one she was riding because she had a broken bone in her foot and a fractured tibia from dropping my mother’s wheelchair arm on her foot – and fell in the hospital parking lot, doing more damage to her leg…now she’s in a full-blown cast.
  • Oh, she also broke her toe in the hospital where I was being treated. She closed the reclining chair she was sleeping on and it closed on her toe.
  • When my wife and I got the wheel chair out of the van, she pushed me (imagine how that looked) into the hospital where my mom was (they moved her from the ER to a room). As she was pushing me in, she looked down as we were going through the automatic doors. They opened outward, not inward, so she ran me right into them!

We’ve had little income, more bills than money to pay them, multiple injuries and illnesses, sermons to preach, people to visit, jobs that have been lost, arguments that have escalated, death that nearly happened, and people wondering what in the world we did to deserve all that’s been happening to us for the last 25 years.

YET… God is good, all the time.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; – 2 Corinthians 4:7-8 KJV

People look at us with wonder and ask, “How do you do it?” All I can say is that “He giveth grace.”

I don’t know why we have so much happen to us. I don’t know why it’s been so hard the last year and a half, especially. It could be that Satan is trying to attack us and defeat us. It could be that the Lord is testing us.

Either way, I will not yield ground to the Enemy by giving up. I will not surrender my faith by doubting God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. I will not give up. I’ll keep getting up. I’ll keep pressing on.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to be preaching on tomorrow morning, but I can promise you one thing: The devil won’t like it.

God bless you all, and have a great weekend!

Go to church somewhere this Sunday.

Tell the networks we are ready to talk.

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Faith, General Observations, grace, Life Lessons, Life/Death, Love of God, ministry, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

When There’s Been a Heart Change

Above is the view from my hospital bed at Coliseum Medical Center in Macon, Georgia. It’s not a view that compares with those my friend David Welford posts on instagram, but at least it’s a view – there were no windows in the ICU.

However, this morning my wife and I will be driving the 4-or-so hours back to Chattanooga, enjoying the view through the windshield. FREEDOM!

A  New Era

Last Friday I entered a new era in my life, one that will require lots more medication, a radical change in diet, and a physical therapy program that will probably turn into a regular workout program. I went from living life a certain way to living it a totally different way. I went from life as usual to life unexpected.

That’s what happens when you have a changed heart.

How It Happened

My heart began to change the moment I realized I was in trouble and admitted my need for help.  Had my pride said, “I can handle this…I’ll be OK,” I would have been dead.  But the painful feeling in my chest convinced me nothing I could do was going to change my condition – I needed a doctor.

The next step in my change of heart came when I submitted to the recommendations of those with whom I consulted. There was the doctor in the first hospital in Washington County who told me: “We got the results of your blood test…there’s something going on…you need to see a cardiologist tonight.” Then, several hours later, after a long ambulance ride and a lot more tests in another hospital (Coliseum), there was the cardiologist who said, “You need surgery.”

If I had rejected the recommendations of either, I would not be writing this; someone else would be writing my obituary.

The final step came when I submitted to the wisdom and ability of Dr. Nisreen Jallad and allowed her to fix what was wrong by weaving a wire up through my wrist and arm, all the way to the blocked arteries in my heart. Had I just agreed to what was needed, nothing would have changed. It was only when I put my life in her hands and allowed her to perform the scary, painful, life-saving angiogram and arterial surgery that change actually occurred.

Reassurance

Over the next couple of days, as I lay in the intensive care unit (ICU), there were times when I felt pain in my chest. Was I having another attack? More surgery?

That’s when Dr. Jallad calmly reassured me, “You came in with problems, but you are fixed…don’t worry.” All I was feeling were a combination of soreness and anxiety, not a heart attack; my heart was working fine.

What’s the next step? Live like my heart has been changed.

Evidence of Change

With a changed heart I will no longer consume the same foods; I will be on a healthier diet, one which will demand I think before I eat.

With a changed heart I will require an ongoing relationship with a cardiologist, someone who knows how the heart works and how to keep it working.

With a changed heart I will have to maintain a very specific regimen of medications for the rest of my life, else the devices in my heart will cease to perform as designed. The change was permanent, but its usefulness could be thwarted by my complacency and lack of discipline.

Spiritual Change

Can you see any comparisons to the spiritual heart? Some people claim to have had a change, but where’s the evidence?

Was there ever a moment of crisis? A moment of need? A time when you realized something was seriously wrong and there was nothing you could do to fix yourself?

Has there been a change of diet and discipline? Has the change been taken seriously?

Was there ever a surrendering to the Savior’s surgical hand, or did you simply continue as you were with only His words to contemplate?

Is there an ongoing communication with the Great Physician, the Cardiologist of the soul? Or, was that one trip to His office enough for you?

Then did a heart change really take place?

All I know is that everything changed for me the day my heart was changed.

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Filed under Christianity, fitness, Life Lessons, Life/Death, salvation