Category Archives: worship

A Saturday Business Meeting (2-25-17)

First order of business…

Encourage a blogger. Not every blogger get a lot of views on Saturdays. Why not go to a blog or two and find a post, or just the “about” page, and leave a nice word of encouragement? It doesn’t have to be about something they’ve written, just something positive.

Kicked out of the house and in need of wifi, the blogger will do anything to maintain his habit of changing the world one post at a time.

Kicked out of the house and in need of wifi, the blogger will do anything to maintain his habit of changing the world one post at a time.

Believe me, a kind word at the appropriate time can mean more than the world – and you never know what a person is going through.

Second order of business…

Go to church tomorrow (Sunday)!

Yes, I said it. Go where there is a community of Jesus-following believers who study God’s Word and enjoy some real, honest, down-to-earth fellowship.

There are many of you out there (you know who you are) who think church is a thing of the past, or worse, not necessary. Oh, how wrong you are! Not only is it something needed today, but it is something loved by Jesus and commanded by Scripture.

Bass Boat Baptist? Give me a break! Some of you may think that you can worship by yourself, at home, at the lake, in the garage, hung over under a table after a party the night before, etc. Well, with exception of the “under the table” part, maybe; however, there is a big difference between “personal devotions” and corporate worship. Believe it or not, you need more than yourself and a fishing pole to “have church.”

Don’t believe in “organized religion?” Why? Is it because of some bad examples you have witnessed? I hope so, because surely you’re not using Jesus as an excuse, are you? It was Jesus, remember, who came “not to destroy the law, but to fulfill the law.” Jesus wasn’t some unwashed, long-haired, holy man who wandered the streets talking nonsense. Jesus was called “Rabbi.”  He preached in the synagogues and the temple, too; not just house fellowships, or in one-on-one conversations.

Don’t need a preacher? It’s hard to argue there’s no need for a  pastor/teacher when the Holy Spirit thinks he’s needed  (Ephesians 4:11). Are you a loner? A Christian mercenary? Not biblical. Consider the following words from the Apostle Paul to the “pastors” from Ephesus…

(17)And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (28) “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (29) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” – Acts 20:17, 28-29

It’s about others, too. Find a place where God’s word is faithfully taught, without apology, and learn from those whom God has gifted for this holy purpose (1 Timothy 5:12-12; Hebrews 13:17). Then, consider this: by going, you just may encourage someone else in the process.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. – Hbr 10:24-25

P.S. Listen to me on WFLI AM1070 at 5pm Sunday if you’re in the Chattanooga area 🙂

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Filed under Christian Unity, God, Preaching, Uncategorized, worship

My Verse. My Prayer. My Hope. 

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”  – King David (Psalm 57:1-2)

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Filed under Christianity, current events, Depression, God, Struggles and Trials, worship

All I Need

We have moved into our new, temporary abode, but I don’t have my computer set up. My wife does, but she’s more important than me – she does taxes. 
So, the following is either being written or texted by voice on my iPhone, therefore please forgive me if there are any errors.

Anyway, the last night that I stayed at the house where we used to live, I slept there with hardly anything in the house that belonged to us; most everything except bulky stuff had been boxed up and hauled away. 

I looked over into the open closet, and there was nothing there but one set of clothes and a pair of shoes that I was going to wear the next day.

I looked up from the bed that I was lying on and saw the ceiling above me, keeping the rain that was falling hard outside from falling hard on to me. 

Downstairs there was a refrigerator with a little food in it, just enough to make some breakfast and maybe a little extra.

I had running water, electricity, heat, and locks on the doors. 

It was as I was looking around at the near-empty rooms, something very important struck me: I really had all I needed.

I mean, what more did I really need? I had food, shelter, security, a place to sleep, clothes, and probably a few other things that I didn’t notice. With everything gone from the house, I still had everything I needed.

That made me ask, “Why do I have all that other stuff in the first place?”

It made me realize how rich I really am. Take everything away and an “empty” house is not as empty as I thought. 

That’s when I started thinking about Jesus. When everything is gone I still have him, and he’s really all I need.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Are you rich? 

Are you content? 

Do you have Jesus? 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christianity, General Observations, God, Life Lessons, salvation, worship

Emotions of Christmas

Melancholy

Even though Christmas time is full of happiness and joy, there are also moments of melancholy. Just to be sure, I looked up that word and it actually means what I thought it did: “pensive reflection or contemplation.”

Every year that goes by we tend to lose people we love, and that includes pets, too. We lose people, animals, our hair, our smooth skin, and bunches of other things; yet there still remains a joy that’s unexplainable. At least that’s the way I feel.

Have you ever heard Mannheim Steamroller’s version of Silent Night? Every time I hear it I feel both melancholy and reverent at the same time. It also makes me really miss my dad.

Melancholy is also how I feel when I watch the following video I made 5 years ago. A few things have changed since then, the biggest of which is the loss of our little dog, Nugget. Christmas at the Baker home is not the same without him, and that is sad.

Worshipful

But even though I have my moments of melancholy pensiveness, I look forward to the holy, reverent, worshipful experience of a midnight Christmas Eve service. Honestly, if all we ever did was go to tonight’s service at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, that would be enough for me. Singing Silent Night in a cathedral-like auditorium at midnight while holding candles is chillingly awesome!

You see, no matter what we may have lost here on earth, because of Jesus we have everything in eternity to gain! When the world lay cold and dark, the Lord became flesh and light came into the world “with the dawn of redeeming grace.”

There are many reasons why some people find Christmas to be a time that brings sadness and pain upon the remembrance of loss. However, when we take the time to contemplate the wonder and glory of God’s grace, that He would put on flesh and be born in a manger, the great I AM, so that the lost might be found…

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)! That’s Christmas! Because of that Baby born in a manger, melancholy may endure for a season, but JOY comes in the morning!

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Struggles and Trials, worship

Even Mondays Are Made By God

Today is Monday, but I guess you knew that.

Coffee always helps.

Coffee always helps.

How did you wake up? Was it with a sense of dread? Instead of turning off the alarm clock that woke you up, did you strike it like a mosquito that had been buzzing around your head for an hour?

I don’t like Mondays any more than you. As a matter of fact, Mondays are pretty rough. Mondays should be my day off, but I am (was) what they call a bivocational pastor; therefore, my alarm clock feels like a mosquito, too.

However, the Psalmist (David) says…

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 

Today…this Monday…every Monday…this is the day which the Lord has made. As a matter of fact, He has made every day. So, what will we do? Will we bemoan the blessing of waking up? Will we cry “foul” even before we enter the game? Will we start the day with the expectation that Monday will be like every other Monday?

This day was made by God. He knows what He is doing. Nothing will come our way that God is not already planning to use for our good – for those who love Him.

Today you may face a storm that leaves you feeling abandoned by God. You may feel like the disciples who were out on the Sea of Galilee all night fighting winds and waves. You may think that your Savior has forgotten you. Just remember that even in the worst storm, on the worst day, Jesus knows where you are.

When the time is right you might even get an invitation to surf the waves of adversity (Matthew 14:27).

So, rejoice! Be glad! Seize the day! It’s been custom-made for you!

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Filed under Christian Living, current events, Faith, God, Life Lessons, worship

Different, Yet the Same

South Soddy

Yesterday (Sunday) I was blessed to be able to preach at two different churches, one in the morning, the other in the evening.

Yesterday morning I was the guest speaker at South Soddy Baptist Church. The congregation there was warm and friendly and very receptive to the message I delivered. Below it a picture I took inside the auditorium (sanctuary).

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Notice, South Soddy Baptist was constructed back in 1946. It is small, simple building by today’s standards.

Mile Straight

Last night I was very privileged to be invited to speak at Mile Straight Baptist Church. Mile Straight is a much more modern building (it’s been remodeled, too) with plenty of up-to-date technology. Click HERE to visit their website – it’s pretty cool.

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Notice, even though Mile Straight has a more modern layout than South Soddy, something about the two are very similar. Can you tell what that is?

Neither have big choir lofts.

I first noticed this at South Soddy yesterday morning. I noticed how in the old design of this church the focus was never supposed be on the choir. Instead of an entertainment-like model many Christians have come to expect, this old church was set up so that the congregation would do all the singing and “worshiping,” not simply be entertained by the choir.

When I got to Mile Straight I saw the same thing. Oh, Mile Straight used to have a choir, but not so much anymore (I think). No, more focus is place on congregational singing than choirs. Even though they do have more of a “praise team,” the idea is to lead the congregation in worship rather than just sit and listen to others do it.

Honestly, I have no problem with wonderful, trained choirs. Friday night I got to hear my daughter Katie sing a solo in her college choir, and it was chillingly glorious! But that was a true performance…we paid to go see that. Church services should never be about entertaining the crowd; they should be about corporate worship. So, have a choir if you want, but encourage the congregation to be more than just consumers.

Two very different church congregations and buildings, yet still very alike in at least one important way.

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Filed under baptist, Christian Unity, Church, worship

“But Some Doubted”

Have you ever doubted? If you have you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s the wise thing to do. But did Jesus’ disciples ever doubt? Let’s find out.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted. – Matthew 28:16-17

Many people have placed faith in Jesus only to lose that faith later, like when they find out the Jesus they thought they knew was not who he claimed to be. Are you one of those?

Believe it or not, even some of the disciples of the real Jesus found themselves doubting when they saw Him face to face after His resurrection. In the book of Matthew we read that on one particular occasion, after meeting up with the disciples at a pre-determined location, most worshiped, but “some doubted.”

Wait! How is this possible?! Weren’t these the same guys who saw Jesus appear to them when they were hiding, afraid for their lives (Luke 24:36; John 20:19)? Even doubting Thomas finally believed (John 20:28), so who were the the ones doubting in Matthew 28? Could it have been one of them? Possibly, or maybe even one of those who may have tagged along.

Here’s what I think happened. The disciples were gathered together, Jesus miraculously appeared, and before He could speak the crowd began to worship Him. Some, however, were a little skeptical; they had seen things before, including fakes, charlatans, and impostors. Who was to say what they saw was really Jesus Himself?

What convinced the doubters, then? I believe it was when Jesus spoke.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. – Matthew 28:18-20 

It’s not like this was the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples, causing not only doubt, but also stark terror. Remember when He walked on the water?

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. – Matthew 14:26

It took Jesus speaking to calm down the frightened boatmen…

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. – Matthew 14:27

Is it possible that some of the disciples present when Jesus met up with them on that mountain had a right to be skeptical? I mean, hey, wasn’t Jesus himself who earlier warned the disciples that “false Christs” and “false prophets” would arise, deceivers so convincing that, “if it were possible, they [would] deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22)?

Matthew doesn’t exactly say what happened to those who doubted, but I have my suspicions. I believe it was when Jesus spoke that their doubts disappeared. On the other hand, if they still doubted, maybe they were only there for the bagels and mountain air.

Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. – John 10:25-28

It was never Jesus’ plan to convince to the world of who He is by physically appearing to everyone. As a matter of fact, Jesus told Thomas, “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

The Word made flesh (John 1:1) gave us His Word (the Bible). So, when in doubt, read and listen to His voice.

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christian Maturity, cults, Faith, God, worship