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

Love Is Love?


What does it mean when you say “Love Is Love”?

Let’s change the words a little and see if the same way of defining love works with other stuff.

  • Rock is Rock.
  • Lamb is Lamb.
  • Bob is Bob.
  • Cola is Cola.
  • Dirt is Dirt.
  • Poison is Poison.
  • Hate is Hate.

As you can see, the words above are not as easy to define by stating that one is what it is. To say that a rock is a rock is to say a diamond is a piece of driveway gravel. To say that dirt is dirt is to equate what my flowers are growing in with stuff people dig up to smear politicians.

Is every Bob the same as every other Bob? Is Coke really as nasty as the generic stuff? Is a stuffed lamb in a toy store the same as the living, breathing, pooping animal capable of growing wool?

If “hate is hate,” then is it equally immoral to hate murder as I could hate my neighbor?

LOVE IS LOVE tells us nothing. All it does is confuse, belittle, elevate what is not the real thing, and degrade what is priceless.

Is there no standard for what love is supposed to be? Is self-love the same as sacrificial love? Stating that “love is love” doesn’t even clarify whether or not love is a verb or a noun?

That is why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle John to write (1 John 4:8,16): “God is love.”

What love is supposed to be is directly related to the nature of God. God is the standard. God is the Definer.

Love without God in the equation is a scary, vague, unstable, dangerous, self-serving, undefinable, always-changing emotional term that can be used to justify anything (which can be verified by doing a Google search of “Love Is Love” memes).

Poison isn’t just poison, but love without God is a poison that blinds the heart. 

 

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Not Just a Magnificent Double Rainbow

Taken with my iPhone 11 on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 in Chattanooga, TN.

How many things are more impressive than a huge end-to-end double rainbow after a major downpour?

Can’t think of many.

But how many even know what a rainbow is? It’s not simply a beautiful phenomenon or the symbol of a social advocacy movement.

It’s a PROMISE!
Genesis 9:12-17 (NLT) 12 Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. 13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” 17 Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”

What if it’s a double rainbow? My guess is God needed a little extra reminding today.

 

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Racial Reconciliation: It Starts Like This – With Jesus

Today I had a beautiful and powerful conversation with a fellow pastor and fellow TBS (Temple Baptist Seminary) grad, Rev. Kenneth E. Ware of New Sholar Avenue Baptist Church, Chattanooga.

Below is a link to the conversation we had.

Your comments are welcome.

 

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It’s Just Been Busy and Writing Is Draining

Dear friends,

I just wanted to send out a quick update, just in case you were out there wondering why in the world I hadn’t been writing much as of late.

Well, honestly, it all boils down to two simple reasons: I have been more busy than ever because of the virus, and writing, especially about anything going on these days, is simply too tiring.

I can’t do everything. At least not as much as I want to.

So, when things slow down a little and I can afford the luxury to write more, my posts might go back to more in-depth, thoughtful commentary on life, reality, marriage, crime, politics, pets, legalism, watercolor painting, theology, people-watching, watches, zoology, substance abuse, and irrational fears.

Until then, follow Jesus.

Oh, and I’ll include a few videos to show you what I’ve been up to 😉

– Anthony

Image may contain: Anthony C. Baker, text and outdoor

Click on the Facebook link to watch Pastor Kenneth Ware and I talk racism and Jesus 🙂 The discussion will be on Facebook Live at 2pm eastern.

https://www.facebook.com/events/556523215236606/

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and text

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June 6th… Would We Do It Again?

d day

Seventy-six years have passed since the pride of the Allies, 156,000 strong, stepped out of landing craft and jumped out of airplanes into the mouth of a monster ready to eat them alive.

Seventy-six years have passed since young men from America, England, and Canada (and we must not forget Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland) landed on beaches called Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Seventy-six years ago, long before the fancy rock-climbing walls which are so popular in today’s health clubs and gyms,  the 2nd Ranger battalion “led the way” up the 100 ft. cliffs of Pointe du Hoc.

Seventy-six years ago, on the 6th of June, 2,499 American and 1,914 from the other Allied nations, a total of 4,413, gave their lives for the sake of freedom.

Seventy-six years ago men were stepping on the backs of their comrades as they sloshed through red water, breathed in the mist of war, and wondered if they would live to see the ground only yards (meters) in front of them.

On June 6, 1944, seventy-six years ago, it was said of those who landed:

They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio broadcast, June 6, 1944

It is the 6th of June, 2020, but are we still a people with the stomach to liberate? If we were the ones living seventy-six years ago, where would we be today?

Ask those who take a knee, or hide in a locker room when the anthem is played.

Ask those who protest the same American flag that their African-American ancestors fought and died for – the same ancestors who fought in segregated units, but were still ferociously proud to be Americans. What did the pilots of the Red Tail Squadron do when the flag was raised and the anthem was played?

For that matter, what did Tuskegee Airmen Dr. Harold Brown, a pilot with the renowned 332nd Fighter Group in World War II (an all-black squadron) say when asked the following question during a recorded conference call: “Why [when the slavery trappings, the discrimination was all there] would you raise your right hand and swear to defend this country?”

“Oh, that’s very, very simple, in my opinion. I was a citizen of the United States of America! This was my country, too! Even though it had some shortcomings, it was still the greatest country in the world. There is no other country I would ever trade for it.” (Feb. 28, 2018)

Ask those who are burning the American flag because “America was never great.”

Ask the socialists in Congress, or the mobs who attack anyone who wears a red hat.

Ask the millions as they enjoy their legalized weed.

Ask the rainbow-painted parade attendees as they throw glitter at each other.

Ask Antifa, the group of thugs who can’t tell a real Nazi from a urinating dog.

Ask those who burn their fellow man’s business and take away his livelihood, thinking this will somehow make our nation stronger.

Ask the protesters who don’t even know why they protest.

image

The reflection pool at the WW2 Memorial in Washington, D.C. Each gold star represents 100 Americans who died or remain missing during the war.

It cost a lot to buy seventy-six years of freedom. Would we do it again?

They would have to be willing to fight to defend something, and too many no longer believe what was purchased with the blood of others is worth fighting for. We’re too busy fighting each other.

Would we be willing to do it again?

I seriously doubt it. God help us.

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Hobbies Funding Hobbies

It has been a great day. What you are looking at is the result of one hobby funding another hobby. That’s a great way to do things, right?

To begin, the watch on the right is a Russian-made 17-jewel manual wind Vostok I picked up in Hungary back in 1992 (paid $50, which was way too much back then). But ever since the band broke, I haven’t worn it in 25 years! You guys helped pick out the strap 🙂

On the left is a piece I’ve been planning at some point to purchase (when I lost 10 pounds). However, this Casio MDV106-1AV (Duro) was sitting in the case at Walmart with a “clearance” sticker on it. It normally goes from 50-70 dollars, but they were only asking $35 for it! For the uninitiated, this is a must-have basic dive watch (200 meter rating) that one of the the richest men in the world (Bill Gates) wears.

Long story concluded, I sold some art I did that paid for both the watch and the strap, with $6.80 left over!

After a beggar outside Walmart got the $.80 from me, I wound up making a couple of dollars and now have two more wearable watches in my amateur collection 🙂

I like having hobbies! 😁👏🏻 Now all I need to do is sell enough art to buy a Grand Seiko.

Yeah, maybe I ought to stick with little Seikos 😉

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Statements, Services, and Studies: A Whole Day’s Worth

It is Sunday evening in Georgia,

and all I can say is that I’m glad I’m not in Atlanta. However, I’ve got a daughter, a son-in-law, and a granddaughter in Charleston, SC, and it’s bad there, too.

Honestly, I’m furious and sickened by the senseless thuggery and domestic terrorism that’s spreading havoc across the country. There’s no excuse for it. None.

Well, I’ve written about the subject of the protests and riots, already. So, what I’m going to do tonight is share the video that was my day.

The first video is from Facebook. I hope you can view it. I went live this morning before the scheduled morning service that had been recorded earlier.

The second video is of the service prerecorded for airing at 11 a.m. Unfortunately, I got the date wrong! 😩

The last video is from tonight where I was live from Augusta, GA. Even though it was originally on Facebook Live, I uploaded it to YouTube.  In this study I taught from Acts 9 while sitting in a hotel lobby.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Christian Maturity, Christianity, Church, community, current events, Preaching, Selah

Riots and Protests: My Opinion

Riots erupt in several US cities over Minnesota police killing of ...

Be forewarned, this is going to be a vent. 

What I am about to type out is not planned, nor will it be edited (except for obvious spelling and grammar – if I notice it). I’m just going to say what I believe and leave it at that.

What’s going on in Minneapolis is inexcusable. Was the death of George Floyd a tragedy that need not happen? Yes. Is there a culture of racial discrimination, targeting, and violence in the Minneapolis police department? I have no idea.

But let me tell you one thing, among others, that I DO know – and I know this from first-hand experience: Don’t trust the media to form your opinions for you by accepting their narrative as the gospel truth! If nothing else, try not to form an opinion anytime in the first few days after a news story. If you do, odds are you will find yourself walking back much of what you say.

Let’s be honest, folks. Does the news media really want peace in the streets? Do they really desire everyone to “just get along.” Umm, no. Heck, when ol’ Rodney King said those very words decades ago – “Can’t we all just get along?”(or however he actually said it) – he was mocked.

So, when the media curiously shows us 6 minutes of a black man being choked out by a white cop, while other videos exist over the last several years of other instances involving white victims, videos that have never been plastered over every media platform, why do we fall in line with the predictable outrage?

Fact #1: Face it people, you’re being used. 

Now, again, should something be done about policemen and the use of excessive force? Yes! Absolutely!

But here’s something most people these days won’t do anything about: The way they conduct themselves and taking responsibility for their own actions.

Fact #2: When you act the fool, expect trouble from the law.

Fact #3: Police officers are people who want to get home alive to their families far more than they want to listen to your complaints of abuse when YOU are the one who either threw the first punch or resisted a simple command.

In the case of George Floyd, has anyone stopped to ask whether or not he would have been detained on the ground had he not been under the influence of something and had he not resisted? Notice how these things are linked?

But what do we have going on now? Cities burning. Literally, police stations are burning. Places of business that have nothing to do with what happened are being looted and destroyed. And this is supposed to help matters?

Oh, yeah, so now investigations into the Minneapolis government and the way they treat minorities. And, you could add that this would not have happened had people not protested… or, should we say, rioted and vented their frustration while taking advantage of the situation to fulfill their own lusts by stealing and breaking things?

Fact #4: Most rioters have no idea why they are rioting; they are more concerned about missing out on a “five-finger discount.”

Last night I went live on my personal Facebook page. I was on there for an hour discussing the whole idea of rioting. Specifically, was it biblical, was it Christian, for people to go around doing what they were/are doing?

My answer, plain and simple: NO.

Fact #5: Destructive protests and riots are not biblical; rather, they are antithetical to the cause of Christ and His commands.

“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17-21 

You cannot parse the above scripture enough . . . you can’t rationalize it away . . . there is nothing in the way riots are conducted that can be condoned by the above verses.

Fact #6: Rioters are being overcome by evil in their loose attempts at bringing about good.

In other words, if they are not overcoming the evil of racism and bigotry with good, then their intentions, however noble, are being overcome by the very evil for which they riot, therefore they only perpetuate the darkness in which they try to shine light.

Those are my thoughts and my opinions.

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When you hear the sound of the trumpet… (10 Years Later)

The following was written 10 years ago following a public gathering at which I spoke.

I look back on this with sadness because of all that transpired after the event. The organizer, Shelton Brown (last I heard) became an atheist. Public prayer at football games (and all other school events) was banned. All the prayer gathering did was make everybody look bold for a few moments, but then they went on their way.

Nothing changed because nobody would be a Daniel and pray anyway.

Now, here we are in a day when the government, well-meaning or not, is wielding great power over Christians (and religious people in general) in the name of our best interests, therefore depriving us of the ability to exercise our rights.

It doesn’t matter a hill of beans whether or not there is a virus; we must always be wary of elected officials who deny believers the right to pray in public, specifically in gatherings. And, when necessary, we need to do more than complain. Otherwise, we are not worthy to feed to the lions.


October, 2010

Last night I had the honor to participate in an event of community prayer.  I was invited to speak by Shelton Brown, a student at Soddy Daisy High School.  If you don’t know what happened, a whole bunch of people gathered together in the park to celebrate our right and freedom to pray, even though it was recently mandated that prayer be stopped before football games.  This meeting was organized by students who decided enough was enough.

In my closing remarks (I spoke for 7 1/2 minutes) I brought up the story of Nehemiah, specifically a part in chapter 4, verse 20.  Nehemiah, in response to threats from enemies intent on stopping them from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, set people on the wall as lookouts.   Being that the wall was big and spread out, and being that there were few people, Nehemiah came up with a plan.  He said :

The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us.”

To me, and I am just little ol’ me, there should have been a lot more people present last night.   Why?  A trumpet was sounded for the body of Christ to come to the aid of not only Soddy Daisy, but for all of Hamilton County.  An attack on our freedoms, as both Christians and Americans, has come to our soil.  Why is it that our schedules and programs and our own sections of the wall are more important than stopping the enemy somewhere else?

Last night was your typical “Wednesday night prayer meeting” night.  Besides the fact that prayer is rarely the object of attention at most of these meetings, what would have been wrong with jumping in the church bus and heading to where the trumpet was sounding?  Where there may have been 500+ at this event last night, there should have been 1-2000.  Why were they not there?  Because it was more important for local congregations to remain safe and snug in their own little sections of  “the wall.”  Here was a prime example of LEGALISM in action, for many did not want to participate in an event that featured speakers that weren’t of a particular denomination.  Here was a prime example of LAZINESS, for it may have been difficult to get people together to go somewhere on a weeknight, especially if it wasn’t to Ryan’s or the bowling alley.  Here was a prime example of DENIAL, PRIDE, and APATHY, for there were others that did not attend because they either didn’t think there’s a problem; it wasn’t their idea; or they just really didn’t care.  Folks, what has been “typical” needs to be trashed.

This past Sunday I told my congregation that I would be in Soddy Daisy on Wednesday night because a trumpet had been sounded.  I went to stand in the gap with my brothers and sisters that cared enough to make a public stand against the tyranny of a few over the wishes of the people.  In the future, when other trumpets are sounded,  I pray that the churches of our county and our country will rally together in defence of the few walls we have left in this nation that, for now, claims to be “under God.”

May our God truly fight for us, for we don’t seem to want to fight for oursleves.

…Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses. – Nehemiah 4:14

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