Honestly, I’ve written some fairly decent songs over the years, but one of my favorites (at least in the month of May) is “The Mother’s Day Song.”
Therefore, I want you to listen to this song again.
Seriously. It’s a tradition. And I would love for you to share it in honor of my late mother who went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on March 16th.
Read Them, Love Them
Now, it’s not because I’m being lazy, it’s just that some previous Mother’s Day posts I wrote were pretty good ones, and I’m not really up to writing much more than this on this Mother’s Day. Below are a couple of links.
(As a bonus, scroll through the comments and you’ll get to see me play and sing it live.)
My grandmother died in 2019, then my mother died a couple of months ago. With all my grandparents, and now both my parents gone, I’m truly the “adult” in the family. When my mom was still living (and she lived with us), there were times I would take a piece of art to her, or ask her about a sermon, and say, “What do/did you think?” Even as a 53-year-old man I wanted my mother’s approval.
That’s one of the things I already miss that I truly took for granted.
But I know she liked my “Mother’s Day Song” and smiled when I sang it.
So, appreciate your mother on Mother’s Day, everyone! Sing the song!
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)
I love good music, especially live music played by the ones singing their own songs. As a matter of fact, as a musician, I respect those who get up on stage and perform, regardless their style. At least they’re not singing to tracks.
Therefore (full disclosure), when I am riding in my car on long trips (anything over an hour) I tend to scan the channels for anything to keep me awake. For the most part, when I listen to the radio or music from Pandora or other sources it’s usually Christian music or talk radio. But sometimes talk radio can put me to sleep, so that’s when I turn to the “worldly music.”
Last night, as I was driving home late from dinner I had with a fellow pastor, I decided to listen to some 1980’s rock on Pandora. That’s when a song I’d never heard before started cranking out a catchy, enticing rhythm. It was a song by Sheryl Crow called “In the End.” Did she do that song in the 80s?
Anyway, Sheryl Crow is an accomplished songwriter as much as she’s ever been a singer. I like her voice and music style, so when when all of that talent comes together the sum is usually something entertaining. This song, “In the End,” is a prime example.
The Jesus Part
So, I started tapping my left foot as I began keeping time with my fingers on the steering wheel. Because “all I want to do” is stay awake, I didn’t really bother paying close attention to the lyrics.
But then the lyrics of the second verse of Sheryl Crow’s song spurred my attention.
There’s a man on the cross with His arms open wide And a tear that can quench the world’s fire But His name is a shield to the ones who would wield Their own power and greed and desire
She didn’t call Him out by name, but I do believe she was referencing Jesus. And on top of that, she was singing about those who use the name of Jesus to become rich and powerful. In other words, she was singing to the ministers who would take advantage of the “believers,” a common theme and stereotype promoted by the left.
Notice that Crow said the name of Jesus is a “shield” for those who want to use Jesus to get what they want. It’s nothing new, either. Remember Simon Magnus from the book of Acts? He actually wanted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit in order to use God’s power to make a profit.
Have you ever heard it said, “Jesus I like, but I can’t stand his followers”? That’s kinda the idea.
But false prophets, millionaire ministers, and greedy pastors are not the only ones who hide behind a “shield,” a banner, a motif, or an ideal to fleece the sheep. Ever noticed that the most broken, crime-ridden, blood-splattered, poverty-stricken cities have been run by Democrats?
Have you ever noticed that the very same people who have been in charge for so long continue to say they are the ones needed to fix things? Why is there still poverty in black communities? Why is our national debt practically untenable, yet they say we are not spending enough on infrastructure, education, and abortion clinics?
Why is it that every Democrat politician leaves office richer than when they were elected, and by far more than the accumulated wealth from their salaries? To be fair, I could ask the same for the Republicans, too!
In the beginning of Crow’s song she is clearly referring to politicians and their “believers” who blindly accept every promise. The second verse shines light on the greedy preacher or televangelist. Both will eventually get what’s coming to them… in the end.
But what of those who year after year, decade after decade, hide behind the “shield” of the disenfranchised, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, etc., etc., etc.? It’s so easy to label those behind the pulpit, but what about the podium?
In the End,” who are the ones always telling their followers exactly what they want to hear, yet never delivering? Who are the ones hiding behind the “shields” of race, gender, equality, tolerance, benefits, and handouts while accumulating more and more power over those for whom they promise to wipe their tears?
I don’t believe in Karma, but it could explain the increased rat population.
I know I’ve already shared this song. I played it at church, yesterday, and then posted the video on Facebook this morning. However, I thought it would be good to re-post this piece, today, so that new readers might get the whole story.
Unfortunately, I learned just this week that Sgt. Sullivan’s grandmother (Brenda Sullivan, 70) passed away in June of last year, followed by his mother (Debbie Sullivan Beavers, 54) on July 5th.
Several years ago, just after the second gulf conflict broke out, the town I was living in lost its first son. On December 30, 2006, Sgt. John Michael Sullivan was killed by a roadside bomb. Only 22, he left behind a wife and baby who was born the day after Sgt. Sullivan died.
I will never forget the visitation at the funeral home. Soldiers stood guard at each end of Sgt. Sullivan’s casket. One soldier was a West Point cadet. Every thirty minutes they would rotate out, similar to the way the guard is changed at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington. The honor and respect was palpable.
Folks in the southern United States don’t take kindly to disrespect – especially at the funeral of a fallen soldier. Sgt. Sullivan died while taking a friend’s place on patrol, which made him a genuine hero. He was a local boy. So, when it was rumored that protesters from Westboro Baptist Church were going to be protesting, blood began to boil.
Standing guard outside the funeral home, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, were motorcyclists (over 200 hundred of them) holding American flags. They lined the street and sidewalks as far as anyone could see. Each one, wearing leather vests, seemed as tough as the Harleys they rode.
I won’t give names, but I heard a couple of high-ranking officials discussing the protesters. They knew Westboro’s hateful tactics and what typically went on at other funerals. So, in a whisper not meant to be overheard, one official said to another, “If those ———-‘s show up, just turn your back – let the guys outside handle them.”
Westboro never showed up. They must have gotten word.
More than Talk
Some people talk a big talk, but never walk the walk. Some people brag about what they would do in a given situation, such as combat, but never volunteer to prove it. But as Sgt. Sullivan lay there in his casket, no words were needed; his sacrifice proved his courage – and love.
Scripture says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Others may say they love their friends, but the silent soldier in front of me didn’t have to say a word.
As I paid my respects, it struck me how this young man had essentially given his life for me, a stranger. Like so many other men and women we remember on Memorial Day, Sgt. Sullivan willingly took another’s place. He did what we could not.
The emotion I felt that day led me to write a song in Sgt. Sullivan’s honor. But it also honors of the One who gave His life so that we could be eternally free.
Here is “No Greater Love” as sung by my daughter, Katie (we just recorded it on the iPhone, so forgive the low quality).
(Note: Unfortunately, when I wrote the song, I didn’t know Sgt. Sullivan was actually 22. However, his mother, after hearing the song, told me it was OK.).
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.
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 disparagingtermfor a Christian,especially a fundamentalist or evangelicalChristian,considered to be overlyzealous in haranguing or censuringothers. – 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.)
Yet, no doubt trembling, with tears wetting his cheeks, he was warmed by the peace that passes understanding and composed the words to one of the Christian world’s most beloved hymns… “It Is Well With My Soul.”
This morning, a friend on Facebook forwarded me a link to some Nashville studio vocalists and their unbelievable rendition of “It Is Well,” all done on their cell phones!
Let me tell you, like some old preachers used to say, “If that doesn’t light your fire, your wood is wet!”
I couldn’t keep still, couldn’t stay seated, and couldn’t keep quiet. It became a hanky-waving, hand-clapping, “thank you Jesus” time.
Now, why don’t you watch and listen and see if your fire will light … unless your wood is too wet 😉
Just click on the link, below. It will take you to the News4 story and video.
All of us are living in tough and troubling times. For some of you, the road you’re on has far more bumps and potholes than the roads of others. Yet, all of us will agree that, wherever we are, the world is not getting any better.
Times are tough, and they’re only getting tougher.
But, I have a Mighty Friend who is not affected by the whims of men or the winds of time. As a matter of fact, my Friend is the One who created man and started time.
Several years ago (2007) I wrote a song for my little girls to sing. Not long ago, while doing some stuff at church, I listened to a recording of the song …and shouted…literally, I kicked up my heels, pumped my fists, waved my hands, and shouted “Praise GOD!”
Maybe you need some encouragement? Just read the lyrics I have included below, and if God is your friend, don’t worry (Matthew 6:30-34).
Well I may not be as tall as a building or strong as a big ol trainI may not be as smart as a scientist doing things I can’t explainBut I know the One who made the tallest mountain and can whip up a hurricaneAnd the very One who invented gravity says He even knows my name.Well I may not know what’s comin’ in the mornin’, or what the day may bringGood or bad, I’m not gonna worry, ‘cause Jesus knows everything.So I’ll do the best with what God has given me as long as there is time‘Cause the One that got the clocks a-tick’n told me it’ll all be fine.When the devil acts like a bully, putting on a scary showBefore you run away and hide in a corner there’s something you need to knowThe One who spoke the world into existence is standing by your sideAnd if you look close the devil’s knees are shakin’ cause he knows he’ll lose the fightChorus:Cause I’ve got a Mighty, Mighty Friend who watches over meAnd He’s the Mighty, Mighty Savior who died to set me freeWell I may not be the greatest at anything, but this one thing is soThe God that is the greatest at everything loves me, this I know.
…but I am going to include the recording I was talking about. This was recorded back when she (Katie, the one on the far left) was only 10 or 11 years-old. It’s not Nashville quality, but it’s precious. So, as so many people say before they sing in church, “Don’t listen to how we sing, just listen to the words.”