Category Archives: Marriage

Responding To An Article Attacking the Billy Graham Rule

I am not blessed with a lot of free time these days, especially because of the hectic details of moving while trying to finish out my last week of driving a school bus. As a matter of fact, below is a picture of where I am writing this very piece – on a school bus while waiting for elementary-aged crumb crunchers to finish swimming.

It’s 90+ degrees on this bus, I only have about 30 minutes to write, and I’m sweating like a glass full of ice on a hot day – except I’m not icy. Please allow me the opportunity to rant.


There used to be a time in American life when a man who actually tried to stay true to his moral convictions was considered the kind of man we respected. That kind of man, by all respects a hero of virtue, would be lauded, placed on a pedestal, and pointed to as a standard for young boys to emulate.

Joseph (the one in the Bible with the multi-colored coat) and Dr. Billy Graham are two such men who come to mind.

But nowadays, when a Republican running for governor of Mississippi wants to keep things above board and honorable, the first thing you hear from the media is that this guy is a sexist. In other words, when he tries to honor his wife and his marriage by avoiding the possibility of impropriety, the substance of which could not only harm his marriage and his livelihood, but also the reputation of one whom could be falsely accused, he’s labeled as a woman-hater and abuser of his wife’s integrity.

In other words, because the guy wanted to do things the honorable and godly way, he’s a scum bucket worthy of relegating to the trash heap of failed and forgotten politicians. If you think I’m exaggerating, take a moment to read the vitriolic and condescending article by Monica Hesse in The Washington Times (July 11) entitled:

“The ‘Billy Graham rule’ doesn’t honor your wife. It demeans her – and all women.”

Like I said earlier, I’m pressed for time and dripping sweat on my keyboard, but let me say that I think Monica Hesse and Larrison Campbell are out of their ever-loving minds.

What’s even more interesting is that, if true, The Washington Times was originally going to send a male reporter to shadow Robert Foster. According to one report I read, it was only at the last minute that the paper wanted to send Larrison Campbell to be alone with the gubernatorial candidate, forcing him to say no, not unless they could send a male along with her. If this is true, and if they already knew of Foster’s beliefs (which I’m sure they did), this could have been nothing more than a set up to smear him.

Oh, the irony. Oh, the deceit.

And they wonder why we distrust the media?

For the record, I think the “Billy Graham rule” is as wise as ever, and it is one which I abide by as much as possible. There are times when I am alone with a female doctor, for example, but not when I’m unclothed. Even when I am alone, it’s not the same thing as going out to dinner, sitting behind closed doors in my office, or counseling a woman alone in her home. For one thing, the doctor has more to lose than most if she were to act inappropriately and unprofessionally.

There’s so much more I could say about the individual points of Hesse’s article, but it’s not worth any more of my time, and I don’t have much to spare.

Regardless, Robert Foster’s convictions and rules are admirable, not demeaning. Any woman should be thrilled that her husband was taking proactive measures to protect the integrity of their marriage.

But marriage integrity and men of honor aren’t high on the shopping list for people who have no scruples of their own, I suppose. 

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Filed under America, Christianity, Culture Wars, current events, Defending Traditional Marriage, Marriage, politics

It’s Been 25 Years!

Dearly Beloved,

We are gathered here, today, to celebrate on this world-famous blog the twenty-fifth anniversary of the union of Anthony Baker and Valerie Riddle. 

That’s right, it’s been 25 years today!

Unfortunately, nothing fantastic has been planned (couldn’t be afforded), but the simple fact that a couple staying together for twenty five years, especially these days, is fantastic beyond measure!

So, to my wife, Valerie, I look forward to many, many more years with you…years even more wonderful than before. I can’t imagine what the next 25 years would be like without you.

With Valerie and me in this picture are my late grandparents, Lee Roy and Lorene Cagle.

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Filed under Marriage, Relationships and Family

The Wedding Preacher

Hey everybody! You’ve got to check this out!

Down in a town call Ringgold, Georgia, is a little wedding chapel…the very one where Dolly Parton and a few other famous people were married over the years.

Since last year, I have been helping out at the Ringgold Wedding Chapel by performing weddings, mainly on Saturdays and some Sunday afternoons. When the owner of the wedding chapel decided to do a promotional video, she asked if I’d be willing to be interviewed.

Of course, I was willing. Duh.

So, click on the video below and let me know what you think. And, if you’re in the area and want to get hitched, well… 😉

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Filed under Family, Marriage, ministry

Because I Love Her

I created the following picture on my iPad Mini for my sweet wife, Valerie.

Because I love her 🙂

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Filed under Family, Marriage, Uncategorized

Displaying Masculinity With Photos

Since it is a topic of hot debate these days, I figured I would keep the boat floating in the stream a little while longer and write a little more about the subject of masculinity.

Except today I’m going to do it from a laptop in the passenger seat behind my wife while she’s driving – it’s a long trip.

And I’m going to do with with pictures – like the one I just took of my computer before I typed this sentence 🙂

By the way, as of this moment, after nearly 10 years of blogging, I’m only at 49% of my memory limit with WordPress, so I’m not worried about the amount of photos in this post.

Anyway, I was thinking about masculinity and how it’s displayed, and that’s when I decided to search back through my phone’s photos. I thought it would be interesting to post some pictures from my life and share what I though was “masculine” or “manly” about them.

Some of these photos might fit a stereotype you don’t like. Some may make you scratch your head. But if I was to tell a young boy what it means to be a man, and if I could show him through some of my own pictures, this is what I would say.

And please understand, I’m not trying to make this all about me… I’m just making observations.

A real man is one who makes a commitment to one woman for life and remains faithful, treasures her, and makes her laugh.

Real men don’t shame their mothers; they make them proud. This is me with my mother and late grandmother who died last year. It’s called honor.

A real man is humble enough to wear a tie he doesn’t like because his wife and daughters do.

Fun. A real man has fun with his kids. He makes memories for their sake, not just his. This was during the last total solar eclipse. Awesome!

 

I love my girls. I’m proud of my girls. Both this picture and the next one are of me with my girls when I escorted them to a purity ball in Hopkinsville, KY. I know what some people think about promoting purity (abstinence), but I really don’t care – I’m a dad.

Masculine men let their daughters know they are loved, no matter what. Even if they disappoint me, I will still love them. But a real man – a masculine man – will be his daughters’ hero, protector, and defender of their honor. And no joke, their lives are more precious to me than any boy who’d hurt them. Be warned, guys – and that’s not hyperbole.

On the day that this picture was taken, we dropped Katie (the one on the right) off at college. When I got back home and walked by her empty bedroom, I cried like a baby for 30 minutes. Real men can cry when there’s a reason to cry, and that was one of them.

Nearly 6 years ago I finally earned my Master’s degree. This is my wife, all three daughters, me, and Mr. Monkey (he was an honorary graduate). I’ve still got a lot of room to improve, but a real man is one who finishes what he starts; he makes a commitment and follows through. I started college in 1986…I finally got my B.A. in 2011, my M.Min. in 2013. I’m still working on my D.Min., but I’ll get there.

This is a Ford flat head V-8. I think the essence of manhood is being able to work on something, to fix things. In my opinion, every man ought to rebuild an old engine at least one time in his life.

And speaking of working on cars, every man should teach his kids how to take care of things on their own. He should teach them how to be responsible and not always have to depend on others to fix their problems. Here I am teaching Haley how to change out a windshield wiper motor on her Acura.

You can be a real man and remain calm, cool, and collected when teaching your children how to drive. A masculine man doesn’t have to lose his cool.

There are cowards and criminals who use guns. But here in America, a masculine man isn’t afraid to teach his daughters how to shoot, even a Colt .357 Magnum revolver. My girls prefer a man who likes the smell of gunpowder and has wrists at least as strong as theirs 😉 2nd Amendment all the way in this house.

 

Real men, masculine men, admit their fears, but then they do what needs to be done – like getting on a roof to tar leaking shingles.

 

I think a good sign of masculinity is being able to handle big machinery. An added sign of masculinity is being able to teach others how to handle big machinery without getting killed or killing others. This is me at the bus garage one summer while training new drivers.

Not the best picture, but this is me in uniform as a chaplain for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. My definition of a real man, a real leader, a masculine man, includes being a servant. This is a voluntary role, but a needed one. Those who put their lives on the line for us need people to have their backs, too.

Masculinity is not devoid of humility and meekness. This was during a VBS when I agreed to let kids who won a contest treat me like an ice cream sundae. The cherry on the top was a literal cherry on the top.

Masculine men don’t avoid going to the doctor when they need to, but they don’t act like babies, either. Real men – masculine men – keep a “stiff upper lip” and do their best to keep others encouraged, even when they might be scared themselves.

This is me in Zimbabwe with Mr. Monkey. Real men, masculine men, aren’t too proud to get down in the dirt to put a smile on a child’s face.

Real men, masculine men, treat all of God’s creatures with respect and care. This is Nugget and me (Nugget went missing a couple of years ago and I still miss him). He always looked forward to going out on Saturdays for coffee and a treat from Hardee’s or McDonald’s.

Real men should at least try to grow a beard at least once. It’s a right that none should deny, even to non-Calvinists. But being masculine doesn’t mean you should let small woodland creatures take up residence on your face.

It takes a real man to get into a cold lake to baptize somebody. Of course, it takes a real man to be willing to be dunked in the cold water, too! But on a different note, in many places getting baptized in public can cost you everything. Therefore, this wasn’t as big a deal for me and this brother as it is for others. Good to keep things in perspective.

Katie and I recorded a video on Facebook Live. We played “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.” I don’t know what’s exactly masculine or manly about this, but standing in a public park playing hymns takes nerve these days.

This was from Jan. 16 of this year…from when I took the stage with Katie for her final song of her senior recital. All I can say is that I must have done something right to have been asked by my daughter to step on stage during a formal recital at a university and play guitar for her. A real man doesn’t make his kids ashamed of him but earns their respect.

Masculinity demands that a man take charge and kill the bugs. The women folk shouldn’t have to. That includes carpenter bees trying to destroy the house. The face of a warrior.

Masculine men aren’t afraid to have friends, especially the kind who keep him accountable – iron sharpens iron. This is me with two of my blogger brothers, James Neff and Wally Fry. Real men. True friends.

Real masculinity will exhibit some form of competitiveness. It’s just in a man’s nature to be the warrior, the fighter, the competitor. We need fewer men who hand out participation trophies and more men who compete to win – or at least root for a team that wants to. Go Braves!

This is from when Building 429 stopped by a local Cracker Barrel and I legalistically misjudged them (I wrote a post about it). This is Katie posing with them after I admitted my sinful error and asked for their forgiveness. Real men, masculine men, aren’t afraid to admit when they’ve done wrong.

This photo was taken of me when I prayed on the steps of Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, after the deadly shooting. Real men shouldn’t be afraid to pray in public, especially in places where reconciliation is desperately needed.

 

Lastly, here I am in front of the church where I am Pastor. Genuine masculinity demands that a man be bold, courageous, and unafraid to speak the truth, even when the truth is hard to hear. Jesus was our greatest example of manhood, but there was also Paul, John the Baptist, and a host of others. Their brand of masculinity is what I’m striving for.

I’m just glad I had a dad that taught me what it meant to be a man. He was a consistent, loving, meek, humble, trustworthy, honorable, hard-working, self-sacrificing, faithful husband and man of God.

That’s about all I’ve got to say. Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures.

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, current events, Family, General Observations, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenting, politics, Preaching, Relationships and Family, Witnessing

A Doctrinally Worthless Bumper Sticker

Dear blogger friends,

Have you ever had so much to write, but being sleepy, tired, worn out and ready for bed kept you from it?

Have you ever wanted to launch into the deep waters of controversial topics only to realize the sails of your little boat were too tattered to catch the wind?

Well, that’s about how I feel right now. I’m tired, sleepy, and I need to get up early in the morning.

However, I saw a bumper sticker today that really got my goat, so I have to say something.

You see, just tonight I was going through a small book that was given to me by a Muslim “apologist,” and my head is still spinning from all the twisted scripture he used to “prove” his obscenely ignorant arguments. The former Baptist converted to Islam, then he wrote a book meant to “prove” that Jesus never claimed to be God nor died on the cross.

If there was one verse taken out of context, there were ten. If there were ten times he made ignorant inferences, there were a hundred where he proved nothing more than that he never studied the Bible as a Baptist, much less as a Muslim.

Maybe, just maybe, if this man had spent more time in the Word of God studying what it actually said instead of being caught up in some social or racial “gospel,” he might have never fallen victim to the foolishness he now believes.

And that’s where the above bumper sticker comes in… It’s about the most useless attempt at profundity I’ve ever seen; it makes no sense whatsoever.

You may think that “Jesus [loves] Feminists” is a wonderful truth, but let’s take a moment or two to unpack it.

First of all, Jesus loves feminists. Yes, He does.

However, Jesus also loves prostitutes and murderers, so what’s the point?

Jesus loves sinners, and that’s why He went to an old, rugged cross to suffer and die for the sins of the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Are feminists sinners? Is that what they’re saying?

Or, is the bumper sticker implying that Jesus loves feminists, but not chauvinists? Is it saying that Jesus prefers tree-hugging egalitarians over traditionally conservative complementarians? Does Jesus love some people and not others? Is that the point?

On the other hand, maybe it’s simply trying to say that Jesus loves feminists, also. Like, Jesus loves the chauvinists, the complementarians, the macho men, AND the feminists.

If that’s the case, then Jesus loves everybody, right? So what’s the point of the bumper sticker?

Unfortunately, the above bumper sticker does nothing glorify the love of Christ. All it does is pander to those who need to be affirmed.

Truth is lost in ambiguity; the reader learns nothing.

What a doctrinally worthless bumper sticker!

I did say I was tired, didn’t I?

And just for fun… watch “What it’s like to date a feminist in 2018.”  https://www.facebook.com/allieCRTV/videos/1986330614991509/


(Please send all your hateful and angry comments to Wally Fry – he’s got far more energy than me)

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Marriage, politics, self-worth

How to Avoid Marrying a Snake-Handling Preacher

Pastor Coots

Let me start off by saying that I am not going to be writing about the biblicality of taking up serpents during a church service. The purpose of this post is not to run down and disparage anyone’s heartfelt religious belief. I’m not here today to call someone an idiot for doing something that is clearly foolish – that could be another post for another day.

Right now let’s just pray for Cody Coots. I mean, just four years ago his father, the former pastor, died (age 42) after being bitten by a rattlesnake – only five minutes after being bitten in the hand during a worship service.

Now, the young Pastor Coots – the still-living pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle In Jesus Name Church – is recovering from a near-fatal bite to the ear from a rattlesnake (click HERE to see the video). Sadly, there must have been sin in his life, the fact made unfortunately obvious right when a bunch of cameras from a world-famous news organization were filming.

That must have been a bummer. We really need to pray for him and his health, and his family.

But, like I said, this post isn’t about Pastor Coots’ religious beliefs or health – it’s about his poor sweet wife and all the other ladies out there who might be concerned with marrying a snake-handling preacher.

Don’t Let Love Be Blind

What I want to do for now is offer a little advice to the lovelorn, the lovesick, and those blinded by love. You see, what really got me about the story of Pastor Cody Coots is what his wife, Tammy said:

“Me and Cody didn’t talk about religion until after we got married and all I said is, ‘God, what did I get myself into?'” (source: The Sun)

Excuse me? 

Pastor Cody Coots

You were introduced by a relative, then you immediately fell in love, but you didn’t know anything about what he believed? You had no idea he went to a snake-handling church?

I mean, seriously, Tammy, what did you do for dates. go out hunting Copperheads? You visited his garage and saw cases of snakes, and thought what? Or did you even visit his home? Didn’t you think it wise to visit your prospective groom’s church just once before walking down the aisle? During the wedding rehearsal, did you think the rattling sound was from a wedding present?

Why only after you got married did you ask, “God, what have I gotten myself into”?

That being said, I feel obligated to spare future Tammy’s from the fear of losing one’s husband to the venom of a faith-testing rattler from heaven.

6 Ways to Avoid Marrying a Snake-Handling Preacher

  1. Visit His Church. If you are a religious person, even in the least bit, never marry anyone without working through where you stand on spiritual issues. It is never a joke to be unequally yoked.
  2. Eat a Lot of Spaghetti. I have a feeling that the right kind of food could open up a deep conversation. Ask your potential groom, “Honey, I love the way you manipulate that noodle; it’s sorta like handling a snake…you don’t handle snakes, do you?”
  3. Go to the Zoo. Take your man to the zoo for an afternoon getaway. Enjoy yourself as the two of you admire God’s creatures. Then, guide your potential mate into the reptile exhibit and say, “Oh, sweetie, look at all those beautiful, holy, God-honoring testers of our faith!” If he replies with an “AAAAAMEN!” and wishes he could just grab one out of the aquarium and start preaching… head to the exit and call an Uber.
  4. Have a Bible Study. I know this might sound too obvious, but how about go to the local ice cream shop, get yourself a root beer, and open up your King James Version to Mark 16:18, then ask: “If this was real beer, and if it was spiked with strychnine, if I had no sin in my life, could I drink this while holding a King Cobra and still live?” If he looks at you like you’re a crazy cat lady on meth, you might have a keeper.
  5. Ask About His Parents. It’s been said that if you want to know what your future spouse will look like in 20 years, look at his parents – or in this case, his father. Ask what his dad does for a living. Ask if his father is still alive. If his father is dead, ask how he died. If he died by snake bite, ask if it happened while his father was screaming incoherently into a hot microphone while ear-splitting gospel music was blasting from speakers on the stage.
  6. Marry a Southern Baptist or Presbyterian. Enough said.

Well, I hope this helps. There’s no need for you to get into a marriage only to say the first Sunday, “God, what have I gotten myself into?”

Commentssssssssss would be nicccccccce 😉

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Filed under Faith, Humor, Life/Death, Marriage, Theology