Funds collected above and beyond what is needed to secure my lovely wife’s gift will be donated to the ministry of Grace Charity School in Lahore, Pakistan (a Christian school dedicated to educating the children of the desperately poor brick kiln families).
It is 1:27 in the morning, and I just finished preaching to the congregation in Pakistan. It was a sweet time of fellowship with brothers and sisters 10 time zones away.
This time I told Pastor Victor that I would provide to him a transcript from which I would preach so that he would be able to know exactly what I said. But that being said, having a transcript made things easier for me, too. As some of you may understand, it is not at all easy to preach through an interpreter.
So, doing the best I could with the little time I actually had – because a 10-minute sermon can take 15 minutes to translate – I preached a sermon on the Rapture. Honestly, it was a VERY SIMPLE sermon, one which was meant more to encourage the believer than convince the skeptic.
After all, how many unbelievers do you expect to show up to a Christian service in a 98% Muslim country?
I hope the following sermon transcript encourages you, too (even if you didn’t vote for Trump – LOL).
Good morning, brothers and sisters, I am so happy and honored to be worshipping with you today.
It is also my honor to have been asked by Bro Victor to preach to you each Sunday the rest of this month.
When Bro Victor asked me if I would preach each Sunday in February, I asked him what it was that he thought I should preach.
That is not something I normally do; I normally never ask another man what I should preach, only God.
But this time, because your pastor knows you better than I do, I wanted to hear what you needed or desired to hear from God’s Word.
So, today I am going to talk about something that should be an encouragement to all of us… to every Christian in every country… This morning I am going to talk to you about the Rapture of the Church.
I am going to ask Bro Victor to read to you my opening text…
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 – Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.
This year in America we had a very controversial election. According to the numbers reported, this year more people voted than ever before – the most for a Republican candidate, the most for a Democrat candidate.
Unfortunately, many Americans just like myself think something was not right.
We look at the crowds President Trump had at his campaign rallies, then compare them with the tiny crowds Joe Biden had, and it’s very hard to believe that more people voted for Biden than Trump.
So, when people ask me, “Anthony, do you think the election results were manipulated?” I say, “Yes, I do.”
Now, the problem is that anyone who thinks like I do these days is laughed at and mocked. It is now being said by some people that those who voted for Trump should be sent away to re-education camps!
They even say that Trump voters are as crazy as Christians – and as dangerous – for believing in a “fairytale,” a “myth,” even a “lie.”
This should come as no surprise to us, for Jesus said that His followers would be hated by the same people that hated Him. Those who mock the name of Jesus will mock Christians, too.
But what do people think of you and me when they ask if we believe in the Rapture of the Church? Should we be surprised if they laugh at us?
Just like those of us in America who think something went wrong with the election, they will laugh at us and say, “Show us the evidence!”
But this is nothing new, for they have been saying the same thing for 2,000 years! Saint Peter wrote about these people…
2 Peter 3:3-4 – Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.
But let me tell you, dear church, that things have not always gone on the same from the day of creation. For one thing, everything changed when a Virgin gave birth to a Child and called His name Jesus!
The world went on like normal for thousands of years until the King of the Universe, the Living Word of God, became flesh!
John 1:1-2, 14 KJV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
This was the First Coming of Jesus Christ! The fact that Jesus came to earth the first time is all the evidence I need that he will return again.
For you see, for thousands and thousands of years a Messiah was promised, even as far back as the Book of Genesis when Eve rejoiced at having a man child.
Throughout the Old Testament we read of One who would be our Kinsman Redeemer, our Great Shepherd, our Fountain in the wilderness, our Rock in the storm, and the Servant who would suffer for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 53).
The Messiah was promised, His birth, His life, and His death… especially His resurrection… were all prophesied, and it all happened just as we were told it would!
Acts 1:9-11 KJV – And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Did you hear that last part? This SAME JESUS shall so come!
Jesus told us that He would return. Do I believe Him? Yes, I do!
As the Apostle Paul said, one day a trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised, and we who are living will be caught up! We will be snatched up, like pulling a fish out of the water! We will be taken out, like pulling a cork out of a bottle!
In the blink of an eye, when the trump of the Lord shall sound, we shall be “caught up,” raptured to be with Jesus!
IF I can do nothing else this morning, dear church I want to encourage you!
You live in a world that hates you for what you believe, for you believe in grace, not works.
You believe in freedom, not slavery.
You believe that all men and women, boys and girls, are made in the image of God.
You believe that God became flesh, that Jesus died for our sins, and that He rose again.
You believe in Jesus, yet you are mocked, you are laughed at, you are hated.
But you and I have a HOPE! Our HOPE is not in our good deeds.
Our HOPE is not in how many times we pray or in what direction we pray.
Our HOPE is in Jesus! Our HOPE IS Jesus!
And one day, whether we live or die, one day He will receive us unto Himself!
Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote to encourage the church at Thessalonica:
1 Thessalonians 4:13 – But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Some people are full of sorrow and fear because they don’t know where they will go when they die, but you know! You have hope in Jesus!
1 Thessalonians 4:14-15 – For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
You see, Paul was trying to encourage the Church, for many thought that those who had already died would never see the return of Jesus. But Paul said that not even death would prevent the Christian from receiving a resurrected body!
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Did you hear that? Those are the words of COMFORT! That is TRULY encouraging! One day, we don’t know when, but one day a trumpet is going to sound…
Do you believe that?
One day the Lord Jesus is going to descend from heaven with a shout! Do you believe that?
One day we will be caught up, taken out of this world, and given a new body fit for eternity in heaven!! Do you believe that?
Then, church, be COMFORTED WITH THESE WORDS! HALLELUJAH!
Do I believe that Jesus is coming again? Yes, I do.
Do I believe that at any moment a trumpet could sound and I could be raptured out of this world to be with Jesus? Yes, I do!
And why do I believe that? Because God keeps His promises! If Jesus came the first time as promised, then I believe He will come again just as He promised.
The only thing is that none of us knows when, so we must always be ready to meet Him.
Are you ready to meet Jesus? Are you ready to meet God?
Please be sure you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, dear friend. For if the trumpet doesn’t sound, we are also promised something else, that it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgement (Heb. 9:27).
You could die today, even before the rapture, and you want to know your soul is right with God.
Brother Victor, I will now give the service back to you.
It’s the dream of many young people to have a garage band. A few of them actually put a band together that can crank, get in gear, and drive out of the garage.
Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s my sister and I had a band called “Mirror Image.” We came on to the scene at a time when musical styles were in the process of changing and popular Christian music was still trying to find itself. Stylistically, we were either too early, or too late.
Nevertheless, our final incarnation, consisting of my sister, Rebecca (keyboard & vocals), Steve Castlen (drums), Jody Gould (guitar), and myself (bass), was a locally popular band that, at least, made a small impact on eternity. Our music was original (either written by Rebecca, me, or the group), fun, and intended to reach a younger generation with the gospel of Christ.
As a result, more than a few young people came to know Jesus as their Savior! I can remember one concert in Dayton, TN, where 7 or 8 youth accepted Christ!
A New Year
It’s now 2021 (Hallelujah!), Mirror Image is no more, and all of the band members have gone on to other things. Rebecca has been living in Germany for the last 10 years and is married to a German citizen, Carlos (I gladly call him my brother-in-law). Fortunately for all of us, she has been here with us in the States for the last couple of months visiting because of our mother’s health.
I’m not too sure what all the rest of the guys are doing these days. I do know they are all well, married, and still doing music in some way or another. It’s been a long-time dream of mine to get everybody back together (including our first band members, like our first lead-guitarist Alex Quarles) for a reunion concert. But, as you can imagine, it’s not been easy or practical.
However, since Rebecca has been back, before she returns to Germany in a week or so, we are going to partially fulfill my dream of a reunion concert! This coming Sunday morning we are going to perform at the church where I’m the pastor (Bethlehem Baptist, Warthen, GA)! Yes, it will be a reunion concert (if only with half the band)!
If you can’t be there, I hope you can watch it on Facebook Live.
An Old Song
One thing that has changed since the 1990s is our age – we aren’t the young and energetic 20-somethings we used to be. Therefore, not only our health but our tastes in music have changed a little and matured. Therefore, the songs that Rebecca and I will be playing will sound a little different than they did 25 years ago, especially since it will be performed on only the piano and bass, with an acoustic guitar thrown in on a few.
But to give you an idea of what we sounded like back in the day, I’ve included below a recording (made during a practice session in a Sunday School room). It’s a song I wrote called “New Age.”
“New Age” talks about how many religions and cults point toward a coming day when the world will enter a “new age” of peace, understanding, and oneness. The only problem is that those who dogmatically worship one God must be “taken out” of the world, one way or another.
The New Age, the Paradigm Shift, the new age of human evolution: none of it can come to pass as long as Christians are still in the world. Ironically, Christians believe the same thing.
We refer to it as “the Rapture.”
(Written by Anthony Baker; Performed by Mirror Image)
If I’ve preached it once, I’ve preached it more than 7 times (I can’t preach the same sermon over and over): “Whatever gift or talent you have, it can be used for the Lord.”
I was told that not just Saturdays, but even on Wednesdays there are vendors at the local courthouse square selling their wares (mostly vegetables and stuff).
But evidently not today! It’s just me!
That’s OK! I’ve already got to talk with people, even if I haven’t sold anything. And what did I talk about most? Church, ministry, evangelism, etc. And one college-age girl wanted to know when our services started Sunday morning (she is looking for a congregation in which to fit)!
But here I am in a parking lot on a cool day without the sun burning me up. I’ve got plenty of coffee, a chair, my Bible, and a full charge on my iPhone. I’m blessed.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. – Colossians 3:17
If you ever want to a word study through Scripture that will break your heart, do a word study on tears. Just a quick glance will reveal painful examples such as the following:
My friends scorn me: [but] mine eye poureth out [tears] unto God. – Job 16:20
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. – Psalm 6:6
Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! – Jeremiah 9:1
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. – Mark 9:24
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. – Acts 20:31
But just as there are heartbreaking verses, so are there ones that offer hope for the hurting, hope for the ones who cry.
Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: [are they] not in thy book? – Psalm 56:8
For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, [and] my feet from falling. – Psalm 116:8
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. – Psalm 126:5
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Revelation 21:4
Don’t Waste Them
A while back I met with a young couple for pre-marital counseling. During the two hours that we sat and talked, I took the opportunity to share with them some some painful experiences from my past. I thought it would be helpful for them to hear from someone who knew what consequences felt like, what it was like to shed tears.
You see, even though my wife and I have been married for over 26 years, we have had our share of pain; we’ve shed our bottles full of tears. And precisely because of those times, I was able to look into that young couple’s eyes and say with all authority, “Do it God’s way! It’s worth it!”
King David knew what it was like to experience God’s chastisement, but he also knew something good would come from it. He said, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Part of that joy, I believe, is when we see the fruit of yielding ourselves to the Father and seeing Him use our tears to water the seeds of wisdom we sow into others.
Tears are inevitable; everyone will shed them. The tragedy is when no lesson is learned, God is not trusted, and what could have been turned into joy sours the pillow of hopelessness.
Without God, tears are spilt; with God, no tear is wasted.
As I write this, it is late Saturday night and I am thinking about my sermon for tomorrow. I’ve been looking at my notes, the Scripture, and thinking about the overall theme, paying particular attention to how I might be able to draw the sermon to a close. For some reason, I don’t know why, invitations have become more difficult for me in the last year or so.
But it’s not the Sunday morning sermon that concerns me – at least that’s not the reason for me writing this letter to you. It’s the content that you and I are expected to deliver to those watching on Facebook, YouTube, or whatever other streaming service you prefer.
I don’t want you to get tired of doing it. I don’t want you to get discouraged and give up too soon!
I don’t know about you guys, but I have been producing more Bible teaching since the pandemic began than any other time in my life! I literally post online content 6 days a week, twice on Sunday and Wednesday! That’s EIGHT original content presentations a week! Granted, what I produce during the week is not as deep as what I might deliver on a Sunday or Wednesday night, but sometimes it is deeper. Sometimes it could qualify for a full-fledged sermon. But is 8 times a week a little much?
Especially if you feel nobody is watching? Anybody with me?
Without a doubt we pastors are working harder than ever before. One reason I can say that with complete confidence is that we are, at the very least, using spiritual, mental, and emotional muscles we’ve never used before. We are in uncharted territory most days. That can drain a person.
Yet, what does your congregation expect out of you? How else are you able to stay in touch or connected throughout the week? I know this might sound self-serving or vain, but is what you are doing online partly due to the fact that you don’t want to appear as idle or taking advantage of the social distancing?
How many of you are beginning to question the efficacy of all the online content we are producing? How many of you are beginning to feel like you’re having little to no impact? I’m not going to lie; I’ve been feeling that way more often each day.
Nevertheless, what I don’t know is what God knows. What I am doing is the best I can with what I’ve been given. I am using every means possible to keep church (and all that’s involved with that word) in the lives of my flock. I’m doing all I can to make holy lemonade out of COVID-19 lemons. And only God knows what really happens on the other side of the computer or smartphone screen.
Though not exactly the same context, I am reminded of the following verse:
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)
No farmer expects to make pie out of the fruit of his labor the day after he plants the first seed. Likewise, we don’t have any idea what this surge of biblical content is going to affect in the future: no one has ever had the opportunity to calculate the germination times.
We are planting and watering in fields where the Word of God has never been sown. We are flooding the airwaves and the internet with more of the Gospel message than at any other single time in history! And all that we are doing, all that we are sowing, and in all the areas and hearts where our ministry is reaching… Have we forgotten it is guaranteed to produce fruit of some kind? His Word does not return void!.
Maybe you didn’t need the reminder. Maybe it’s just me. But I just want you to know that we were put here for this time. What we do in this time will affect not only today, but tomorrow, too. We may never live to see the results of our plowing and cultivating and planting, but future generations may be feeding on the fruit decades after we have left the plow.
Don’t grow weary, gentlemen. Be encouraged! Stay strong! Keep up the good work!
Sometimes the only one in the field is the farmer. Keep farming while the weather permits.
Someone whom you may know as Angel made a keen observation: I haven’t been posting much, lately.
Well, there is a reason why that observation is correct… It’s no more complicated than the fact that I’ve been busy, busy, busy.
And when I’m not busy, I’m usually just too dang tired to get my brain into writing gear. But I’m sure it’s just a phase.
Been Preaching and Teaching
But one thing that hasn’t slacked off is the time I have spent in front of an iPhone camera. Literally, the only time I am not recording and uploading preaching or teaching content is on Saturday. But it’s twice on Sunday, so…
Therefore, even though I’ve not been doing a lot of writing, I have been speaking. And that’s OK! I love it! So, when you have the time, I would encourage you to check out the following two videos. They are the latest that I have edited and uploaded to YouTube (and that’s work, too).
Oh, and I’ve been walking every day and doing my best to lose weight, especially for my daughter Katie’s wedding in October.