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Rapid Progression

I would love for you guys to check out my new blog for my art.

Wall Hole Coverings - the Art of Anthony C. Baker

It seems like an eternity ago, but it’s not even been two years since the original shutdowns began in 2020. With that in mind, it was only then that I started my painting journey.

When people hear that I’ve only been painting around a year or so, they can hardly believe it. Some think I’m joking. However, when you look at the examples below, you will see that much changed over a few months time.

What really got me started was the fact that, as a pastor, I could not visit with any of our congregation. Not only would they not come to worship together, but I wasn’t allowed to go to their homes. It was sad, believe me. Therefore, I started sending out greeting cards.

But one thing that became obvious early on was the fact that pre-made greeting card companies were not prepared for COVID. They didn’t have…

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A Mini Commentary, Pt. 12 (Ephesians 4:13)

I’ve been slightly busy and distracted, so I apologize for just now getting back to the commentary on Ephesians 4:1-16.


4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

            It is important to note how one thought builds upon another. Therefore, before we unpack Ephesians 4:13, let us take a moment to refresh our understanding of the Apostle Paul’s train of thought with an outline. Although each verse in this study could stand alone on its own truth, all are connected and work together like a healthy body.

Outline of Ephesians 4:1-12

  • “Walk worthy” (4:1-2)
  • With humility and patience (v. 2)
  • “Endeavoring to keep the unity…” (v. 3)
  • There is only one body, Spirit, Lord, faith, baptism, and one God and Father (vs. 4-6)
  • But (v. 7)
    • Every individual believer is given grace
      • According to the measure of the gift of Christ
        • That is why David said:
          • “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men” (v. 8)
            • Parenthetical if/then statement inserted by Paul (vs. 9-10):
              • If Jesus ascended, then He must have first descended
              • Jesus descended, and it is He who ascended to “fill all things”
    • Grace gifts (vs. 11-12)
      • Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers
        • For the perfecting of the saints
          • For the work of the ministry
            • For the edifying of the Church

How, then, does this verse (v. 13) follow along in the outline? The first word “Till” picks up right after the prepositional phrase “for the edifying of the Church.” Although the three “for” statements (describing the reason for the gifts of the Apostles, prophets, etc.) fall under the subpoint of “Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastor/Teachers,” notice that each one is a subpoint of the other. Why? Because each one follows the previous and is dependent upon it. Therefore, verse thirteen must follow “for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The outline might continue like this:

  • For the edifying of the Church
    • Till
      • We all [arrive at; reach; attain] the unity of the faith
      • [We all arrive at; reach; attain] the knowledge of the Son of God
        • Unto a perfect man
        • Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ

Tune in next time for more on Ephesians 4:13.

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A Mini-Commentary, Pt 5 (Ephesians 4:4)

I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend (here in America), because I sure did! Beside having a wonderful service Sunday morning, my family and I came together in Atlanta, GA, to attend a major-league baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins…and the Braves WON!…Twice in the same game!

Today, let us look at verse 4 in Ephesians 4. Keep in mind that the Body of Christ (the Church) may be one, but it contains individual parts, each part of an overall design, and each part performing a prescribed function. We will go deeper into that aspect a little later.

4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.

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[There is] one body,

            Here the Apostle Paul, speaking of the Church as the unified Body of Christ, begins the first point in “Seven Particulars”[1], the culmination of the last making up three different triads. The first triad is that of “one body…one Spirit…one hope of your calling.” See also 1 Corinthians 12:13.

The second triad is formed from “one Lord…one faith…one baptism.” The third triad is found in verse six where, when describing God the Father, the seventh “particular,” he declares that He is “above all…through all…in you all.”

            Paul continues to use the analogy of the body to describe the importance of healthy unity. Unity in the body, especially peaceful unity (v.3) is critical for effectiveness. Although a human body be unified, all individual members working together for the common life of the body, if one member be sickly or “angry,” the rest of the body, however healthy, will ultimately be affected and the work of the body will be hindered. There are a great many truths associated with the Church being the Body of Christ on the earth, and here is no exception. But what Paul does in the next few verses is take both a wide-angle view and one that is microscopic: he speaks of the common unity we have as the Body, but he also stresses the importance of the individual member (v.7).

and one Spirit,

            What is a body without life? What is a body without a spirit that animates it? Similarly, what is the Body of Christ without the life-giving, resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit? Not only are believers part of one body, but they are also empowered by the indwelling Pneuma (the Holy Spirit; the breath of God). “For by one Spirit (Pneumati) are we all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

            It must be understood that without the presence of the Spirit, the Church would not be the living Body, Jesus Christ being the Head. Therefore, as the Body is united, and as it works, individual members will have different responsibilities, such as feet help the body to stand while the fingers grip the hilt and the arm swings the sword. Yet, all will receive their strength from the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that flows through one part of the Body is the same that flows through another whose Head is Jesus Christ. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9 KJV). See also 1 Corinthians 12:13.

even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

            The unified, universal Church is one Body, has only one life-giving and empowering Spirit and only one hope: “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13 KJV). Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ have a calling – a “vocation” – for which they have been called. Therefore, in everything we do, at home or at work or school, each believer has been issued a vocation in the Kingdom, and that is to point people to the only Hope of the World.

            It must be noted, however, that a careful reading of this part of verse four shows that “even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” is a phrase which helps modify the previous “There is one body, and one Spirit.” Notice how that Paul says that there is one body and one Spirit, “even as…” Therefore, a comparison is being made between the two phrases, which could even lend to the argument that there is not really a triad in this section, only a couplet modified by a couplet.

            So, what is really being said? How do we make the comparison between the two? The body needs a spirit to animate it, to make it alive; the “vocation” has only one “hope.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Ephesians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 147.

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Dr. Seuss Books Discontinued

Hey everybody! I read this post from Bell and I highly recommend it. Would you show this new blogger some love and check it out? Thanks!

Story Time with Bell

Regardless of your opinion of Dr. Seuss, he is hands down one of the most influential children’s writers of all time. His work is timeless and a true classic. However, according to Reuters, the Dr. Seuss Enterprise announced that 6 of his books will no longer be printed because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

Here is list of Dr. Seuss’s books that will no longer be printed. I’ve attached the read aloud in case you’d like to see the “racism” yourself.

1. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street:

In this story, a child undergoes a walk down Mulberry Street and envisions silly, exciting things to tell his dad when he gets home. This is a great story that encourages imagination in times of boredom or hard times. However, critics have discontinued the story due to drawings of an Asian child, that…

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Valentine’s Day Sermon to Pakistan Church

In just a moment I will be sharing this sermon, word for word, through a translator to a congregation in Pakistan. May God bless His Word and may the Church be edified.

Good morning, everyone! I am very happy to be able to worship with you again!

First, I would like to say that you are always in our prayers.

Second, I would like to thank you so much for your prayers and your friendship.

I would also like to tell you that our church here in the United States, in the state of Georgia, will pray for you in our services later today.

And one more thing before we look at this morning’s Scripture. The Church in America may need a Revival, but it is not dead. We are strong and will continue to encourage the Church in the rest of the world.

Please allow me to pray…

Last night I spoke with your pastor about the subject of this sermon.

He told me that last year he preached from 1 John 4:19.

Well, that’s the passage I want to start with this morning.

Please read 1 John 4:19.

Today is Valentine’s Day in America. It is a day when many, many men spend a lot of money on flowers and chocolate candy.

Valentine’s Day is the day when we celebrate love, especially the love men and women have for each other.

In many cultures marriages are arranged, but that rarely happens here in America.

In our culture, marriage comes after a man and a woman fall in love with each other and want to spend their lives together.

Of course, as you can imagine, the love of people grow cold, because the love they felt was not real love, only affection, maybe only lust.

Regardless, Valentine’s Day is a day when women are treated very, very special. Because they ARE!

Now, you may be wondering how 1 John 4:19 relates to how special women are.

It is because when the Bible says we love Jesus because he first loved us, we are reminded of the marriage relationship.

All throughout the New Testament the Church is pictured as the Bride of Christ.

The Apostle Paul spends most of Ephesians chapter 5 talking about how Christian marriage is to be a picture of Jesus and the Church.

And one thing should be obvious when we read Paul’s letter – men are to treat their wives with honor, respect, and unconditional love.

In Ephesians 5:25 Paul tells men, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it.”

What does that mean?

For one thing, it means that women are valuable! It means that they are to be loved! It means that wives are not slaves!

How did Jesus love his Bride, the Church? What did he do for her?

Yes, he “GAVE HIMSELF.” What does that mean? He gave his own life for the Church.

And do you realise that Jesus loved us before we were even lovable? He loved us while we were even sinners!

Romans 5:8 says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ DIED for us!”

Jesus had pity on us. Jesus knew we needed true love, not just emotion or lust.

Let me give you 5 reasons the Love of Jesus is better than the love of any human.

  1. It doesn’t matter what we look like.
  2. It doesn’t matter how old we are.
  3. It doesn’t matter if we know how to talk to each other.
  4. It doesn’t matter if we have money or land.
  5. It doesn’t matter about our past.

The Book of Isaiah, Chapter 64, says that our righteousness is like filthy rags. There is nothing righteous or holy about us without Christ.

But Jesus doesn’t care what we look like – He still loves us.

So, men, you should love your wives as Christ loves the Church! If she isn’t more beautiful now than she was when you married her, don’t blame her – blame yourself!

Jesus loves us no matter how old we are. In other words, He loves us even when we cannot do anything to contribute.

Even the old, the wounded, the crippled…. Jesus loves you!

And what about our communication skills? What if we don’t know how to say the right things?

According to the Bible, that’s what the Holy Spirit is for! He speaks for us when we don’t know what to say! Isn’t the love of God wonderful?

What about money? What about property? Did Jesus demand a dowery to love us? Of course not! He paid it all with His blood!

And do you think your past is too bad for Jesus to love you? It’s not!

Do you realize that Jesus knew you before you were born, for as David said, “He knit me in my mother’s womb.”

Yet, even then, He could see your whole life in front of you. He could see all the sin you would commit. And yet he still said, “Come unto me!”

Ladies, Christian men should treat you as Jesus treats the Church. Like the woman of Proverbs 31, if you fear the Lord, you should be praised!

God never intended the Church, the Bride of Jesus, to be a door mat for men to wipe their feet on.

Jesus never beat us or whipped the Church when she sinned. No! He took the beating and the stripes for us! He bore our shame on the Cross!

So, isn’t the love of Jesus wonderful?

We love him, not because we wanted to, but because we can’t help it!

And men, husbands, the Bible tells you to LOVE YOUR WIVES. If you love them like Jesus loved the Church, they will love you, too!

Dear sisters in Christ, you are so special in the eyes of God!

Jesus loves you and died for you the same as He did for any man.

You are daughters of the King of the Universe! You are also co-heirs with Christ, adopted into the Royal family of Heaven! You are princesses!

Do you realize that the Bible never puts women down? It never says they are less valuable than men. It never, not once, says that men are better than women.

Who carried Jesus in her womb? A young woman. Mary.

God didn’t send Jesus in a chariot of gold, but he trusted a young girl to carry Jesus when he was tiny and weak. He didn’t trust the baby Jesus to a general in an army, but a simple, young woman!

Who was the first Christian in the Western world? It was a woman, Lydia?

Who did the Apostle Paul trust to deliver the letter to the Romans? A woman, Phebe! That’s in Romans 16 verse 1 and 2.

Who helped fund the ministry of the Disciples and even Jesus when he was on earth? Women of means, women with wealth. In other words, there were business women in the Bible, like Lydia, the seller of purple, who helped the Church.

Dear sisters in Christ, you are loved by God. You are valuable. You are special. Don’t ever let the world tell you different.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

End of sermon.

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The Love of Jesus Is Better!

I’m not going to comment too much, but I do think this is potentially the best Valentine’s Day sermon I’ve every preached 😉

Seriously, even though this was a little humorous at times, maybe even a little to transparent, the truth that Jesus loves us more than any other love we can comprehend.

The following video is from our church Facebook page and was recorded live. Therefore, what you are going to see is unedited. If you want to skip forward past initial comments and prayer requests that will speed things up.

But here is the outline, should you want to know what’s inside:

Why the Love of Jesus Is Better!

  1. Looks Don’t Matter
  2. Age Doesn’t Matter
  3. Communication Skills Don’t Matter
  4. Finances Don’t Matter
  5. Your Past Doesn’t Matter

https://fb.watch/3AlqSzF8ai/

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2020’s Last Sermon

For the edification of some and to tick off others (you know who you are), here’s a link to today’s service and final Sunday sermon of the year.

https://fb.watch/2EBiylyWgE/

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Art Sale TODAY Online

If you are interested, check out the Facebook link below. THANKS!

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Seeds and Harvest: the Hope of Christian Blogging

“High Cotton” by Anthony Baker

(Speaking to a friend about blogging, I said) We plant and water seeds of hope and love and joy and grace. We sow these seeds all over the world!

Rarely will we see a harvest, but the Holy Spirit knows how to take that divinely inspired “click” and turn it into new life.

It will be interesting, and wonderful, to one day see what God was able to do with the crazy medium of Christian blogging.

To HIM be the glory!

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If You Thought Friday the 13th Was Scary, Try Sunday Morning Before Church!

I’m Surviving

If you didn’t notice, today is Friday the 13th. Are you still alive, or did a maniacal, undead mask-wearer visit your un-chaperoned slumber party? The night is still young, I suppose.

Well, so far I haven’t encountered a single monster – except our little dog who came in from running around in the wet grass and jumped in the bed.

Movies

Back in the 1980s, a movie came out to spoof Friday the 13th horror films. It was called Saturday the 14th. The promo line was, “It gets bad on Friday the 13th, but it gets worse on Saturday the 14th.” …..Whatever.

Real life, however,  is far more terrifying than movies. As a matter of fact, the scariest day for any pastor comes every week. Someone should make a movie about it – a documentary. It could be called…..“Sunday Morning (before Church)”

Here’s what the announcer could say during the promo commercial…

“Forget abandoned campgrounds, haunted lakes, and dark rooms. Forget about blade-wielding criminals that won’t die. Forget about whatever goes bump in the night, requiring someone in a bathrobe and slippers to say, “Is anybody there?” All the real demons come out on Sunday morning before church….like clockwork. This is REAL!”

Reality

There is a Devil, believe me! Even if the Bible did not teach of his existence, I could take you to him, or at least one of his workers, at about 9am on any given Sunday. All I would need to summon his presence would be to ask, “Honey, where are my shoes?” I could also say something like, “How long are you going to be in the bathroom?” Any of these phrases is guaranteed to conjure something or someone.

The evidence of his presence can be seen in the items that come up missing. For instance, the Devil is regularly hiding stuff that was in total view only 8 hours before. He or his demons love to hide shoes, hairbrushes, shirts, dresses, pantyhose, lipstick, and Bibles. Occasionally, he even likes to hide the church mail that comes to the parsonage, leaving the pastor to look irresponsible.

Predictable

But thankfully, one thing’s a constant: even though Satan is real, just like in a poorly-written movie, his ways are predictable.

Unlike our God, whose “judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33), the “wiles” of the devil never deviate from his modus operandi.

The Greek word translated “wiles” in the KJV is  methodia (μεθοδεία). Essentially, it is a word made from combining  meta and hodos (“after,” and “a way”), and is used to describe what could be called “a decided plan of deception and trickery.”

Satan is a “method” actor, in other words. He plays a part – a predictable part – in trying to deceive, trick, thwart, anger, harm, and sidetrack God’s people. He follows a pattern that can be anticipated and for which preparations can be made. It’s all in the Script.

Preparing for Sunday

So, why do unseen forces attack on Sunday morning? They do it because it is the Lord’s Day. They do it because they want us to be ineffective and powerless. They know that hurting, lost, and desperate souls need to be ministered unto, many of which might be on the verge of giving up.

The forces we battle against would love to use a missing hairbrush, a wrinkled shirt, a knicked face, burnt toast, or an upset stomach to literally raise the dead – the “flesh.”  The enemy knows that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8).

Fortunately for us, all we have to do is be watchful (1 Peter 5:8), armored (Ephesians 6:11), and filled with His Spirit, the “power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). The “wiles” of the devil, his schemes, and his evil plans are no match for the God “who performeth all things for me” (Psalm 57:2).

Bonus: 6 Ways to Have a Better Sunday Morning

  1. Do all you can do to get ready for church the night before. If necessary, get ready at different times, so as not to get ticked off at children or risk being asked, “What do you think of this dress?
  2. Take different cars, even if your 10-year-old has to drive the lawnmower.
  3. Reduce dress standards/expectations so you can go to church looking like you just woke up.
  4. Put duct tape over everybody’s mouths until they get to the door of the church.
  5. Get up in the middle of the night to eat all you can so you can avoid breakfast, thereby avoiding arguing over what to eat.
  6. Become Adventist and go to church on Saturday (last resort).

If I Could Make a Movie

I do wish that I could make a movie that featured some of those evil characters in horror films. One, in particular, is the guy that comes and kills people in their dreams, Freddie Kruger. Another would be the ultimate movie villain, Count Dracula. Add to the list all the other demonic entities that send women running through the woods in high heels, only to trip on a spider web.

Just for fun, I would have all the demonic bad guys come up against a couple of praying saints, or an old preacher who’s broken-hearted and fed up with sin.

The bad guys would come against them in full force, swearing and threatening and promising all kinds of pain and suffering. Then when all hope seemed lost, right at the moment of despair, as the demoniacs were making their charge,

they’d run into a solid, unconquerable wall of Light…

the ringing sound of a massive sword being unsheathed would be heard…

terror would fill the eyes of the attackers at the sound of a Voice, saying…

These are mine!

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. – 1 John 4:4

Now, where are my clean socks? I knew I put them in the drawer…..Honey?!

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