Category Archives: Love of God

Introducing Emma

The “Mug” Post

I know that some of you may have short-term memory, but many of you may remember a post I published back in January entitled, “How Do You Pronounce This Word?

What was the word? Grandpa.

All I did was show a picture of a coffee mug, then promise that more details would follow.

Well, now is the time to share the details that I promised earlier.

But first…

Meet My Granddaughter!

Emma Louise Westbrook!

On Friday the 24th of this month (May), I officially became a grandpa – Emma’s adoption became final. The above picture was taken at the courthouse, and it’s obvious she’s intelligent enough to understand everything that was happening.

Who wouldn’t smile at the thought of being the granddaughter of a grandpa who can sing, draw, color, play with blocks, imitate Grover from Sesame Street, and generally be a kid at the drop of a hat?

Adoption Conversation

I have to admit, I look forward to the day, someday in the future, when the whole subject of adoption can lead to an “adoption conversation.”

There are five times in the Bible where “adoption” is mentioned. One of those times is in the well-known verse below:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. – Romans 8:15

It will be great to one day have a conversation with her about salvation, and from an aspect that few of us understand as much as she will – because she’s that intelligent 🙂

We will talk about how that just like her mom and dad, her Father in heaven said, “I’ll do whatever it takes to make her mine.” And maybe – because she’s a smart one – she’ll enlighten me to some deeper aspects of a truth that applies equally to me.

I’m so happy that Josh and Alicia were able to have their dream come true to expand their family. We were already so proud of them, but now we are even more proud of how they are becoming the best parents they can be.

My prayer for them is that they also think of the “adoption conversation” and remember that they, more than anyone else in the world, will be able to mirror the love of the Father in their parenting. By their example they can lay the groundwork for a personal introduction to the One who wants to adopt us all into His Family.

Now that you know her, expect more in the future – I’m a grandpa, you know. 

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Filed under Family, Love of God, Parenting

Things I Wish You Knew about Me

Awards

I was scrolling through some older posts and came across the one you are reading right now (that’s freaky, isn’t it?). It was a post about getting awards from other bloggers, but then having to nominate a bunch of other bloggers to make it all official.

What I said back then is still true today… that’s too much work for an award, don’t you think?

very-inspiring-blogger-awardSeriously, what other kind of award demands that in order to receive it you’ve got to nominate 10 others? Can you imagine an Oscar winner being handed the statue, but before it exchanged hands the winner had to nominate 10 other actors? Can you imagine the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize having to nominate 10 others before receiving his mostly undeserved, politically motivated award money?

Honestly, there are many blogs better than mine (your’s is probably one of them). If I deserve an award, they all do.

Things Heretofore Unknown

Another requirement of many blogging awards is that the recipient list 8 or 10 things heretofore unknown (things you didn’t know about the blogger).  But as I began thinking about a list like that, a mental image of a creepy identity thief came to mind.

So, I’m gonna do something a little different. I am going to list 10 things about myself that I wish were true.

In other words, I wish the following list would rise up and wake me out of my slumber, smack me in the face, and say, “You da man!

10 Things about Myself (I Wish Were True)

  1. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face.
  2. I am fluent in three biblical languages, not including KJV.
  3. I love all forms of exercise, including running, mountain climbing, skydiving, and especially curling (the Winter Olympic version of shuffle board).
  4. I have every sermon planned in advance, outlined and alliterated, filled with perfect illustrations, by Friday night each week…6 months in advance.
  5. I never lose my temper.
  6. I handle all the finances in our household, never make a late payment, and never have to ask my wife for advice.
  7. I love cottage cheese.
  8. George W. Bush once asked to speak with me about some personal matters, but I referred him to Billy Graham, being that I already had a date planned with my wife.
  9. My book is on the New York Times best-seller list.
  10. I never sin.

The Worthy One

When I consider the above list one things stands out to me more than anything: I’m not perfect. But hey, I don’t claim to be, either. I mess up, get angry, act out of pride and my own self-interests, and generally fall short in every list I create. In short, I’m a sinner.

But even though I am a sinner, I have a Savior. And because of His mercy and love, the kind of love that took what I deserved and carried it all the way to Calvary, I echo the words to a wonderful song, “Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be to You the only wise King.

I may receive a few awards, but one day I will lay every accolade, every award,every trophy, every crown at Jesus’ feet. He is the One who really deserves them.

If you never know anything else about me, I hope you know I love Jesus.


Note: For some reason I haven’t received anymore blogger awards since I first wrote this back in April of 2014. Wonder why? 😦

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, God, Love of God, worship

“What Is Good About Good Friday?”

“What Is Good About Good Friday?

The other day I heard a man,
A man of radio fame,
A man who wrote a book about God, Faith, and Reason.
It really doesn’t matter his name.

This man has degrees; he’s paid his dues.
I’m sure he could teach us some lessons.
But this worldly-wise man proved unwise indeed
When he posed the following question…

“What is good about Good Friday?”

It wasn’t a joke, please understand;
He genuinely wanted to know!
This educated doctor with millions of books sold
Was clueless on his radio show.

What is good about Good Friday?

The greatest crime committed by man…
A day which should be most infamous
Was the bait and switch that fooled the Devil
And set up the Day most glorious!

On that Friday God’s love was manifest
The greatest Love in history.
But this man with one question exposed his ignorance
When the Cross to him was a mystery.

-Anthony Baker

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Filed under Easter, Jesus, Love of God, poetry

Still Unashamed Of the Cross

This Sunday morning I will be taking a break from my regular sermon series and will preach from the following passage:

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; – 1 Corinthians 1:23 

The key point of the sermon will be centered around the word “crucified.” Maybe I’ll, write about it in the future.

But below is something that came to mind as I was thinking of the Cross. It’s a post I wrote last year. And I’m STILL unashamed!


Back in 2014, during the semifinals of The Voice, “Team Blake” member Craig Wayne Boyd cranked out a fantastic rendition of the classic hymn “The Old Rugged Cross.” Many people – including those who call themselves “Christian” – were shocked. Why did a singer choose to sing this hymn on a national stage – in a competition? I mean, the cross? Really? What was this guy thinking?

Maybe, just maybe, Craig Boyd was letting the world know where he’d lay that crown, should he win it.

You see, it was on the cross of Calvary that the “Dearest and Best” was slain. It was on this cross that the “ordinances against us” were nailed (Col. 2:14). It was on this cross that our Savior promised that if He be lifted up, He would draw all men unto himself. It was on this cross where Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Without the cross, grace would be a non-issue and the Law would still be my master. Without the cross, Easter would be irrelevant. Without the cross, we’d never been able to witness the most powerful manifestation of love (1 John 4:9-10)the world would ever see.

It was on that old, rugged, blood-stained cross that Jesus paid the penalty for my sin. It was the crossroad of judgment and mercy where the Lamb of God humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8) and purchased my reconciliation with God (Eph. 2:16).

So, why cherish the cross? Because it was and is proof positive that even before I knew Him, even when I was steeped in sin, God loved me enough to die in my stead.

It’s shame and reproach I’ll gladly bear.

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Filed under Christianity, Easter, Faith, God, grace, Love of God, worship

Fakeless Friday Facts

Fakeless News

So much has been said about “fake news” over the last couple of years, therefore I want to do everything possible to keep things real. Whatever I report will be genuinely true.

However, I’m a blogger, not a reporter, so what I offer by way of news will be limited to what’s already in the news… unless, of course, it’s about me.

And if it’s about me, you know I’m telling the truth…at least more often than CNN 😉

Friday Facts

The Bible makes it very clear that we are not to dwell on bad news, stories of evil, and illicit nonsense meant to rot the soul. On the contrary, the Apostle Paul writes:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. – Philippians 4:8 

So, let me share with you some factual news that fits the above prescription:

  • I’m loved by God, and so are you! That’s the truth!
  • I’m not perfect and I’m overweight, but I’m working on it, just not enough. Just being honest.
  • My recent heart problems were nobody’s fault but my own. Had I been eating better and exercising a long time ago, my arteries would not have been as clogged and I would not have had a heart attack. I got what I deserved – that was just.
  • It’s good to have a wife that loves me despite my selfish and stupid ways. Her love is not predicated on my looks or my income, either. Her love for me is genuine and pure. But even though it’s pure by human standards, it’s not as pure as the love of Christ which was completely selfless and self-sacrificing.
  • Emma Louise

    My new little granddaughter, Emma, is a bundle of cuteness! She’s lovely!

  • Hey, I have good news to report! I had a CT scan on my throat, but the lump was not cancer!

What’s been good in your life this week? What didn’t go as badly as you expected? Who still loves you despite what you’ve done or not done?

The fact is God loves you, gave his Son for you, and offers you an intimate relationship, even kinship, with Himself! Despite anything else going on in your life or in this world, knowing THAT is awesome news that rarely gets reported. You should praise Him!

Think about that!

 

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Filed under current events, Family, Love of God, Thanksgiving, worship

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

Love Is Love?

Just the other day I was riding with my youngest daughter through the Nashville, TN area. We were visiting a couple of colleges that she is thinking of attending, one of them being MTSU.

Since I was the one riding, and since I wasn’t too afraid that Haley would get us killed, I felt more comfortable looking at the sights. One of the sights I saw was a little sticker placed on the back window of a vehicle in the lane next to us.

The first thing I did when I saw it was say out loud what I was thinking: “Love is love? What kind of definition is that?”

And that’s really the point of this little post (rant) of mine: What does it mean when you say “Love Is Love”?

Let’s change the words a little and see if the same way of defining love works with other stuff.

  • Rock is Rock.
  • Lamb is Lamb.
  • Bob is Bob.
  • Cola is Cola.
  • Dirt is Dirt.
  • Poison is Poison.
  • Hate is Hate.

As you can see, the words above are not as easy to define by stating that one is what it is. To say that a rock is a rock is to say a diamond is a piece of driveway gravel. To say that dirt is dirt is to equate what my flowers are growing in with stuff people dig up to smear politicians.

Is every Bob the same as every other Bob? Is Coke really as nasty as the generic stuff? Is a stuffed lamb in a toy store the same as the living, breathing, pooping animal capable of growing wool?

If “hate is hate,” then is it equally immoral to hate murder as I could hate my neighbor?

LOVE IS LOVE tells us nothing. All it does is confuse, belittle, elevate what is not the real thing, and degrade what is priceless.

Is there no standard for what love is supposed to be? Is self-love the same as sacrificial love? Stating that “love is love” doesn’t even clarify whether or not love is a verb or a noun?

That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle John to write (1 John 4:8,16): “God is love.”

What love is supposed to be is directly related to the nature of God. God is the standard. God is the Definer.

Love without God in the equation is a scary, vague, unstable, dangerous, self-serving, undefinable, always-changing emotional term that can be used to justify anything (which can be verified by doing a Google search of “Love Is Love” memes).

Poison isn’t just poison, but love without God is a poison that blinds the heart. 

 

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Filed under Culture Wars, General Observations, God, Love of God