Category Archives: ministry

Remember the “Least of These”

A few years ago I made a lot more “Monday Monkey” videos than I do now. Sadly, as I look back, I can see how much my girls have grown up. The following video is a good example.

In the following video you will see my youngest, Haley, doing her part to help the “least of these,” a freezing puppet next to a tree…and I wasn’t exactly warm, either.

Remember, Christmas is not about getting; it’s about giving. God gave Jesus Christ unto a world who didn’t deserve Him, and that supreme act of love (both on the Giver and the Gift’s part) should be reflected in our giving.

This Christmas, why not give something of value to someone in need, someone who won’t expect it. Then, take the time to talk about the Greatest Gift ever given to mankind.

Seriously, ask the Lord to give you the opportunity to share Jesus with someone; He will make it happen.

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Filed under Christmas, Love of God, ministry, Witnessing

Could I Appeal for Your Temporary Support?

Please take a moment to read and then share the following appeal. Thanks!


Hey everybody!

First, let me just say that God is good, and I put my full faith and trust in Him to provide for me. He is the One who loves me more than the flowers He clothes in the field (Matt. 6:30; Luke 12:28), so why be anxious? He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, including the hills; He will take care of my family and me.

However, one of the ways God takes care of His children is through the other children in His family. We don’t have to read very far into the book of Acts and the Apostle Paul’s writings to see where it was the churches (including individuals) who sent gifts to keep the first missionaries in the field and to relieve the burdens of hurting congregations. It is not beyond the ability of God to make manna fall from heaven, but more often I’ve seen Him use the abilities and gifts of His children to sustain those traveling through a modern wilderness.

On this December 19th (Tuesday) I will be having rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder. A couple of years ago I fell on the side of a hill while mowing a friend’s grass, and now the problem has grown to the point where surgery is the only option. I have two partial tears and one full through-and-through tear of tendons in my shoulder. I am also being advised to have a release of the bicep tendon which is tracking wrong and causing damage to another tendon. This surgery will result in many weeks (up to 4 to 6 months) of recovery.

Now, if you didn’t know already, my main source of income is driving a school bus and training new drivers. I put in up to 10 hours a day either driving or instructing. My only other income is a small housing allowance from the little church I pastor ($150 a week). Having this surgery will mean that I will not be able to drive at all for a good while, and neither will I be able to instruct (I have to be back to full capability before returning to drive or work – there is no office work available). Therefore, I will have no income coming in for possibly up to 6 months!

What I am asking is simple: Would you consider supporting my family and me as temporary “Pastoral Missionaries”? Yeah, I sorta made up that title, but it fits the bill, don’t you think?

You see, South Soddy Baptist is a small church, but it cannot afford a full-time (fully funded) pastor. I believe this church has potential and value in this community, but what it really needs is to be worked in a full-time-pastor fashion. Being gone so much during the weekdays prohibits me from doing a lot of visitation (especially in these darker winter months), and doing personal outreach is critical to growing a new church, but especially in a context of revitalization. Believe it or not, I can see this surgery becoming a blessing this church needs. However, my family still needs to have electricity, gas money, and food, of course.

Oh, but why doesn’t my wife work? In case you didn’t know, my wife would work if she could. However, my wife became disabled a couple of years ago, so now the only money she can bring in is from her disability and what little she is allowed to make for doing taxes and books. Both of our younger two daughters still live at home, but one is in college and the other is duel-enrolled; they can’t work enough to pay our bills.

So, what I’m praying for is enough people to take us on as temporary “missionaries” and therefore provide tax-deductible support on a weekly or monthly basis. If enough of you could give $10, $20, or $50 monthly or weekly, my bus-driving income could be replaced while I recover, and in the meantime more ministry could take place here at South Soddy Baptist.

It this something you could do? Would you pray about it?

IF you would like to help, then you could contact either myself or our Director of Missions for the Hamilton County Baptist Association, Dr. Dennis Culbreth.

IF you would like to donate with a credit card, you could simply click on the “Donate” tab in the sidebar on this blog.

Thank you so much for giving this some thought and a lot of prayer. Please pray that the surgery will be a success and that full recovery will be quick. But remember, those of you who pray and give will not just be helping my family for a short time, you will be contributing toward the ministry of a small, local church as it seeks to minister to the people in this community.

God bless you,

Anthony Baker (The Recovering Legalist)

Contact Information:

Dr. Dennis Culbreth,  c/o Hamilton County Baptist Association, 6625 Lee Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37421 (423-267-3794) Website: www.BaptistAssociation.com/contact-us/

Anthony C. Baker, c/o South Soddy Baptist Church, 11055 Dayton Pike, Soddy Daisy, TN 37379 (423-645-8884) PastorACBaker@yahoo.com

http://southsoddybaptist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/SouthSoddyBaptist.mp4?_=1

 

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Filed under baptist, Christian Unity, Church, community, ministry, Struggles and Trials

A Pastor’s Worst Day

Every once in a while I try to share some down-to-earth insight into the pastorate, or ministry in general. Granted, my perspective is limited, being I have only pastored smaller, bi-vocational churches; therefore, I can’t speak for all my brothers who lead larger congregations (200+).

However, some things are pretty consistent with those who regularly stand behind the pulpit (or beside a table, if that’s your thing). Many of the stresses are similar, as well as the spiritual battles we must fight. Whether the battlefield be small or large, our weaponry and armor are the same (Ephesians 6:10-18), and so is our adversary (1 Peter 5:8).

Therefore, all things being equal as possible, I believe Sunday nights – not Saturday nights or Mondays – are the worst times of the week for a pastor. The following are two excellent reasons why I feel this way.

First, the pastor is his own worst critic, especially right after the sermon. After a long Sunday, he may find himself looking back and wondering things like… “Did I give it my best?” “Was I used by God?” “Did I preach in my own strength?” “Did I pray enough?” “Why did God call me?” or, “How much does a truck driver make?” 

Any pastor who cares about his preaching ministry will concern himself, to one degree or another, with the proper exposition and delivery of his sermon. But if he gets no “amen’s,” sees no conversions, rededications, or even a few approving nods, it’s not going to be long before the poor man will question his abilities, maybe even his calling. A lack of visible response can take the wind right out of a preacher’s sails.

Seriously, stop and think about it. If you were to build a small, wooden toy, you could hold it in your hands when finished, admire it, nod with approval, and say to yourself, “Good job! Well done!” Clean a dirty kitchen and how do you feel? A sense of satisfaction, correct? But when a pastor is done preaching, more often than not there is nothing tangible to show for it, especially if there is little feedback; the “well done” will have to wait till later.

So, since the “job” is never done, and much of the fruit of a man’s labor won’t be recognized until eternity, it’s easy to be critical of one’s self. Sunday nights are when we can be the most critical.

Secondly, a pastor expends a lot of mental and spiritual energy over the weekend, especially if he works another job during the week and preaches more than one sermon on Sunday. Believe it or not, some pastors (especially bi-vocational ones like myself) never – yes, I said “never” – get a day off. By the time Sunday night rolls around, you’re looking at a physically and spiritually drained individual, and Satan knows it.

Therefore, because our enemy is not stupid, he knows the best time to attack us, and that’s when we are tired and vulnerable. He is far less likely to defeat a man of God while he’s charging into battle or waging a righteous war against the forces of darkness; it’s when he’s coming down from a spiritual high, or when he’s depressed and down over a perceived failure behind the pulpit, that the preacher’s at risk. No, our Enemy is sneaky and stealthy; he lurks in the shadows, waiting for just the right moment when our guard is down and our frailties are exposed.

So why do I share this? Not for your sympathy or pity, that’s for sure. As the lyrics of a song go, “It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room…It’s a fight and not a game,” so I am well aware of what I’ve gotten myself into (or, rather, what I’ve been called to do). The reason I share this is to encourage you to pray for your pastor…especially when the church services are over…when he’s tired…when the Enemy is most lethal.

Don’t wait until Sunday morning to pray for your pastor and his family.

Don’t wait until Saturday night to say a quick prayer that he’ll do “a good job” the next morning.

Start right now! Pray! Interceed for your spiritual leaders, for they watch for your souls and must give an account (Hebrews 13:17). Their challenges are unique, and the consequences of failure can be far-reaching and eternally catastrophic.

Brethren, pray for us. – 1 Thessalonians 5:25 

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Filed under Church, Depression, General Observations, ministry, Preaching

It Is Well…Even If

I was driving in to work this morning when this song came on the radio. I began thinking of a fellow Christian blogger who is going through a very tough time, her faith wearing thin. I then prayed, but something else happened.

It was just after 6 a.m., and just as soon as “Even If” by MercyMe quit playing, it played one more time. Now, who preprogrammed that into the station’s computer, I wonder?

At that moment I began praising God from my own perspective. Tears began to build up in my eyes as I listened once again, only closer now, until gravity turned the pools to streams.

You see, I’ve got burdens, needs, mountains that need moving, and questions needing answers. All the while I’ve got a host of others who need me to help with the very same kinds of things. And what do I say when the prayers don’t get answered? What do I say when the healing doesn’t come? How do I react when everything seems to be overwhelming me, but God seems silent to my cries?

I trust Him.

I mean, Jesus loved me enough to die for me; He promised never to leave me or forsake me; so wouldn’t it stand to reason He cares what situations I face? If He cares for others, shouldn’t he care for me as well? Yes! He does!

And I will trust Him.

Even if nothing turns out the way I hope, my real Hope is Jesus. Notice, my hope is not IN Jesus; it IS Jesus.

I will trust Him.

When peace like a river attendeth my way; when sorrows  like to see billows roll;  whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well with my soul…even if.”

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, God, ministry

No Home Down Here

It is just after midnight on Monday morning. I’m in bed, ready to go to sleep, but something is keeping me awake a little longer, and it’s the sting of something my youngest daughter said.

Haley said, “I don’t want to live in another house…I want a home.”

You see, she had come home from an over-nighter with some friends, and it was their house that got her attention. She noted the artistic way the place was decorated; the years of family photos that graced the walls; even a special area where one daughter’s paintings hung for all to see.

We live in a parsonage, the second one in ten years. The last place we lived was only a temporary stop until this parsonage was livable. All other places we’ve lived during her first 7 years of life were rentals.

The fact is, sadly, we live in a house, but we don’t have a home. My 17 year-old daughter has never lived in a place where family would always be, put down roots, and call it our own. We are nothing more than transients.

That’s the life of a bi-vocational pastor and his family, just trusting the Lord to keep a roof over our heads till we are asked to leave or God opens a door. Not very glamorous, for sure.

But, to be honest, there’s a lesson that’s not been lost on me during all this. Simply put, nothing on this earth will last forever, not even the deed to a home. No matter who we are, we’re all pilgrims in this world. As a matter of fact, living in a borrowed place down here just reminds me of how this world is not my home, I’m only passing through.

No, I don’t own a home down here, but at least I know where my real home is. One day I’ll go there, and you’re all invited. I bet my daughter will even be impressed with the way the Builder decorated it.

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Filed under Life Lessons, ministry, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials

Cold as Hell?

The other morning it was a brisk and refreshing 55 degrees on my school bus. I had not yet turned on the heaters before picking up one group of students, and that’s when one highly-intelligent, highly-literate teenage girl said,

“Damn! Turn on the heat! It’s cold as hell!”

I took no time in responding, “You know, I think hell is a little hotter than this.”

Here’s what I’m going to start doing. Every time someone uses Hell as a descriptive adjective, I’m going to consider it an open invitation to share the gospel. When someone says “cold as hell” or “hot as hell” I’m going to say something like:

“You know, it’s funny that you should say that, because from what I’ve read, specifically from those who’ve actually been there or seen it, Hell is much, much worse than you’re describing…and I’m glad I won’t have to go there! You want to know why?”

There are also those who commonly use the descriptive of “funny as hell.” To those I will reply:

“You know, what’s really funny is that something could be ‘funny as hell,’ because from what I’ve heard Hell isn’t funny at all. Do you actually believe in hell?”

Honestly, if we really want to share the gospel with people, we can find the opportunities.

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Filed under Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, salvation

I’m Not a Superhero

Email Ads

I don’t know how it happens, but somehow my email gets flooded with “half-off” offers and all such craziness. Even though I delete cookies, unsubscribe to stuff, and threaten friends, people still send me links to things I can’t afford.

Now, honestly, not all of the ads are worthless. As a matter of fact, if I had the money, I’d take advantage of some of the Groupon offers. Come to think of it, I should have taken advantage of some of those coupons before my last anniversary! Dang it! Why didn’t I think of that?

Once, on Facebook, someone sent me a link to a company selling t-shirts. The one that caught their attention was one that read, “I’m a School Bus Driver. What’s your superpower?” I thought that was cool! Alas, I didn’t have $20 to spend on a t-shirt, even though I wanted it.

However, it was not long after the offer for the first t-shirt that I got another offer. This time I wasn’t so happy.

Super Pastor

Dear reader, dear friend, dear occasional stalker, etc., I am not a superhero!

photoFor those of you who may be having this read to you, to the right is a picture of the advertisement as it appeared on my cell phone. It shows a black t-shirt that has printed on the front: “I’m a PASTOR, what’s your SUPERPOWER?”

Unlike when I saw the one about being school bus driver, when I saw this t-shirt design, I didn’t laugh, smile, or even grin; it ticked me off.

Folks, I don’t even joke about this. Pastors are already placed on unwanted pedestals, live in glass houses, and are thought of as superhuman. We, along with our families, are expected to have special powers of some kind, almost like Baptist wizards, impervious to the spells of the dark lord.

But, we are not special, only our calling is. Pastors are not gifted with superpowers, and to suggest that only adds to the expectation that we can do everything perfectly, never getting tired, never mouthing off to our kids, and always having the right answer for everything.

Super Savior

The only thing I can say is that God called me to a humbling “profession.” I did not choose to do what I do; He put the desire in my heart. And unlike other careers, like bus driver, fire fighter, school teacher, etc., no amount of education, training, or experience can make us successful at what we pastors do; only the living presence of Jesus can do that.

I have no super power other than the power of Christ within me. As a matter of fact, the weaker I am – the more the “kryptonite” affects me – the more He is able to work through me (Phil. 4:13).

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 KJV

I am only human. I have no superpower. All I have is a Super Savior.

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Filed under ministry, Preaching