Category Archives: ministry

“Whatsoever Ye Do…”

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!

At least it’s not raining 😉

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

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The Ministry In Thessalonica

Tonight I went into full teaching mode with attitude!

Wow! I just LOVE Acts, and chapter 17 is one of my favorites.

Get a glimpse inside my Sunday nights as you watch this Facebook live edition of me preaching/teaching through Acts 17:1-9.

www.facebook.com/bethlehembaptistwarthen/videos/2893988174156335/

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Filed under baptist, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Church, Jesus, ministry, Preaching, Uncategorized

Don’t Waste Your Tears

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Tearful Verses

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.

wedding picture fourYou 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.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, God, Life Lessons, ministry

An Open Letter to Pastors (and ministers) Delivering Regular Content During the Pandemic

Dear Pastors (and fellow Ministers)

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.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Christianity, Church, coronavirus, ministry, Preaching, the future

Let’s Talk About Moses and Righteousness

Been Busy

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.

Love you guys!

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Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: “Visitation”

This is the view from my windshield as I was leaving the home of a church member.

Honestly, I miss the internet speeds of Gig City (Chattanooga), but you can have the traffic and the hustle.

This is where I belong, now.

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Filed under America, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Church, community, ministry, nature, places

In My Father’s Honor On Father’s Day

Remembering the Day

I woke up this morning and saw the sun, which is something my dad never got the chance to experience on June 11, 1991. Upon closing his eyes in death while working the night shift as a security guard, he woke to eternal day where the Son is the Light. What an awesome moment that must have must have been for him!

However, for me, it was a very difficult day 29 years ago. For that matter, it was a difficult day for many. He was only 46 at the time of his homegoing, but the impact he made on the lives of others will reverberate for many decades to come, and all of us were heartbroken when he left.

Tough, Yet Humble

My dad.

My dad.

Those who knew my dad before he became a Christian would testify to the fact that he was no wimp. He was a man’s man.

My dad could build an engine and race a car – including the kind in which he used to haul moonshine. He knew how to fight, fish, and fire a weapon; between him and my uncle Don (his brother), there weren’t too many men willing to be their enemies.

Yet, once he accepted Christ, he became the perfect example of gentleness, kindness, grace, and compassion. I know of no one any more humble than he was. (Oh, and when his brother finally became a believer in Jesus, the same transformation took place)

Preachers

My dad was also a preacher. He might not have been the most eloquent, but he loved the Word and he loved telling people about Jesus. Had he been alive today, he would have wept at the state of our nation, but he would have cared more about sharing the gospel with the homeless drunk under the bridge, the prisoner in the jail, or the disabled and orphaned teen in need of hope.

More than a man who’d kindly give you the shirt off his back, he’d find a way to tell you about a Saviour who bore a cross on His. If my dad was still alive, he’d still be preaching.

Still Fighting the Good Fight

Still Fighting the Good Fight

I am proud to say that I am carrying on my father’s legacy. I am proud to say that should the Lord allow me to live another 52 years, I will continue to preach the Gospel, stand for Truth, and love people the best I can. As a matter of fact, here is something I recently posted on Facebook.

Backbone, preachers…now’s the time for some honest-to-goodness, strong-as-steel, George S. Patton and John Wayne-like BACKBONE!

I don’t care if you’re Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Methodist, or whatever…MAN UP!! Stand in the gap! Quit being a politically motivated, crowd-pleasing, purse string-tying wimp and PREACH THE WORD!

Check out what’s going on in the world and what’s coming to America. Do you think things are all going to turn out like a big Hillsong praise service if you keep preaching like Joel Osteen?! Folks, what we need now more than ever are some Elijahs, some John the Baptists, some old-school Billy Grahams, some D. L. Moodys, etc. We need more men of God who know the difference between the Word of God and a motivational speech!

Don’t try to be popular. Don’t try to be “cool” and “hip” with the younger generations. Quit fighting over the styles of worship if your congregation doesn’t even know HOW to worship! Forget trying to become more “seeker-friendly,” and just SEEK THE LOST! The world is going to Hell and we are greasing the skids.

Be real. Be humble. Be yourself. Love your enemies. But for the love of God, pastors and preachers, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). In other words, take off the liberal mom jeans and put on some prophet-worthy overalls and get to work. 

His Voice

I wish all of you could have met my dad, Terry L. Baker. Like my wife noted when she heard a recording, “He sounds about as country as they come.” Fortunately for all of us, I still have a few recordings of his preaching.

Below is an edited version of a message my dad preached back in 1981. At that time he was doing a radio program on WMOC for a local children’s ministry.

Fittingly, the sermon from my late father, based on Deuteronomy 6:4-7, concerns how to raise a godly family. Tell me if you think he sounds a little like me 😉

All honor and glory be to my Father in Heaven, the One who graciously gifted me with an earthly father who loved Jesus and taught me how to do the same.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, ministry, Parenting, Preaching, Relationships and Family

Yes, I’m Still Preaching

“You Still Preaching?”

I don’t hear it too much anymore, but I used to hear it rather frequently. Family members, old friends, former acquaintances, and the average person I never wanted to see again would come up to me and ask, “Hey, you still preaching?”

Maybe it’s the thing to do. Maybe it is customary to ask a person if they are still doing what they were doing the last time you saw them. It makes sense. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of asking:

  • “Are you still unemployed?”
  • “You still sick with that sickness thing?”
  • “You still married?”
  • “You still running off at the mouth about things you know nothing about?”
  • “You still planning to party with Hitler for eternity?”
  • Are you still as stupid as you used to be?

I just don’t get why people ask if I am still preaching. It’s like they think I’ll change my mind or walk away from the ministry, or something.

Some Statistics

In reality, it’s not that unreasonable to ask someone who once accepted the call to ministry if he is still preaching. Even though it sorta feels like an insult, I shouldn’t be surprised by other people’s shock. I mean, it has been 36 years since I made my calling public. I’ve known more than one who has walked away the first year.

If more people knew the statistics, few would ever enter the ministry. Stop and think about it, would you enter a career with the highest rate of heart attacks? Would you take out student loans for a degree that demands you work multiple jobs? Consider these sad facts…

  • 70% felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only fifty percent still felt called.
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 80% of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression.
  • 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
  • 80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

Still Preaching

Yet, I’m still preaching. It may surprise people who haven’t seen me in a while, but I’m still doing the Lord’s work and still following the call I first heard when I was 16. It may sound strange, but I can’t help it.

“But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” – Jeremiah 20:9 NLT

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” – 1 Corinthians 9:16 KJV

photo (16)Today, June 11, is the anniversary of the death of a mighty man of God, my father. He died the week before Father’s day.

Not long ago I went to his grave and placed my Bible on his tombstone. There, glistening in the sun, were the gilded words “Rev. Anthony C. Baker.”

“Daddy,” I said, “I’m still at it.”

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Church, Life/Death, ministry, Preaching, Relationships and Family

Are You a Cracked Vase?

Have you ever had one of those times when you felt the Holy Spirit was at work, using you in a special, sorta like He’s-in-control-not-me kind of way?

Today was one of those days. 

Every day at around 2pm I do a live, short devotional  for our church members. That’s what the following video is, only uploaded to the church YouTube channel.

Have you ever felt that God can no longer use you? Have you ever felt like your best days of ministry are behind you? Are you a cracked vase?

This message is for you! 

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Christianity, Church, ministry, self-worth

I’m a “Bible-thumper,” Apparently

It’s been a while…

Yes, it has been a while since my youngest daughter, Haley, has heard me preach. However, this morning she was with my wife as thy watched the service from home.

Even before we left Soddy Daisy and South Soddy Baptist, Haley had started attending another, larger church several miles away. I couldn’t fault her, for she had grown up hearing me preach every Sunday. At least she would now be going to church on her own, not feeling obligated as my child to attend. That’s a good thing, right?

So, yes, it has been a while since Haley has sat in a room when I preached. The closest she’s been in a year was today, and that was a bedroom, not an auditorium. I do miss her.

Notice any difference?

This afternoon, no more than an hour ago, I asked Haley, “Did you notice any difference in the way I preached today compared to at Riverside or South Soddy?”

Have you ever received a comment that you couldn’t quite tell it’s meaning? In other words, have you ever been told something that could be interpreted as either a good thing or a bad thing, and you just didn’t know how to take it? And have you ever received one of those kinds of comments and not wanted to go deeper for fear it might have actually been derogatory and not complimentary?

That’s the kind of feedback I got from my daughter. I didn’t know how to take it.

“Uhh, well, you’re more of a Bible-thumper,” she said with a cool, matter-of-fact tone.

It’s hard to describe the feeling I got when she said that. At one moment I was both hurt and indignant; sad and elated; depressed and emboldened.

“That could be a good thing, I suppose” was my reply.

Bible-thumper:

  • an evangelist or other person who quotes the Bible frequently, especially as a means of exhortation or rebuke. – Dictionary.com
  • an aggressively zealous advocate of Christian fundamentalism. – Merriam-Webster
  • Used as a disparaging term for a Christian, especially a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian, considered to be overly zealous in haranguing or censuring others. – TheFreeDictionary.com

Or, maybe it’s not. 

I guess it hurts, coming from my little girl. I just hope she can see beyond the delivery of the sermon to the Truth of the message.

Decide for Yourself

Should you want to decide for yourself, feel free to watch the attached video from this morning’s streamed service.

(Please excuse the poor video resolution, but in this part of the country the upload speed is only 3-6 Mbps, so I have to set my iPhone to the lowest setting, which is 720p.)

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, ministry, music, Southern Baptist, worship