Tag Archives: Christian

Hacksaw Ridge. Just Wow!

I Went to a Movie

Being the “recovering legalist” that I am, let me start off this brief little post with a brave confession: I went to a movie on a Sunday night.

That’s right, instead of going to church somewhere last night, my daughter Haley and I used a gift card that was given to her and went to see Hacksaw Ridge. Because I am not pastoring anywhere at the moment, and because I was not scheduled to preach anywhere last night, a daddy/daughter date made for a great conclusion to a week full of stress and uncertainty.

What’s even better is that it only cost me $2 for the movie and $7 for both of us to eat at Taco Bell!

My Daughter’s Thoughts

Before I share with you my thoughts about Hacksaw Ridge, why don’t I share what my daughter posted on Facebook as we left the theater?

“Update: Hacksaw Ridge is The Best movie I have ever seen.”

“Everyone please if you can go see Hacksaw Ridge. You won’t regret it.”

There was literally a physical change in her expression toward the end of the movie. At the very end she sat there with her mouth agape with this look that silently screamed out, “Unbelievable!”

My Thoughts

I am not a professional movie critic. Sure, I can be critical, but I am not adept at pointing out all the nuances of plot, imagery, and blah blah blah. All I can do is tell you what I think, how I felt, and what I would recommend.

First, this movie had a whole lot more gore than Saving Private Ryan, if you can believe it. But being that this was directed by Mel Gibson, well… Let’s just say that if you have a weak stomach, you might want to take a barf bag – the battle scenes are meant to shock.

Second, I went to this movie with the preconceived understanding that there would be a spiritual application somewhere; I was not disappointed. Besides the overall theme of being faithful to one’s personal God-given convictions, there was an undeniable linkability (my word) between Desmond Doss’ prayer to rescue “just one more” and the way we should be about reaching the lost.

Third, the first half of the movie is a bona fide chick-flick. Nevertheless, the sweet romance portrayed during the character-building phase of the movie was a pleasant contrast to the hell of war. Some have labeled this movie – at least the first part – too “sentimental.” Whatever. At least it wasn’t your typical get drunk and have sex before you know someone’s name Hollywood script.

Fourth, I wish the context of the battle could have been better explained. I know it might have run the risk of coming across as a history lesson, but it would have been helpful to understand a little better the “why” and the “where” of what was going on in the second half of the movie. Very little was done to explain the battle – it was almost like the fighting took place for the sake of fighting.

Fifth, this was an R-rated film, so beware. There was no sex or graphic nudity, but there was some language (not near as much as other war movies), a lot of violence (duh), and a scene where a particular recruit shows his bare behind (he was an exhibitionist, but that gets corrected in a humorous way).

Overall, this movie is about convictions, honor, duty, God, country, love, and not judging a book by its cover. Even though Doss was a Seventh Day Adventist, nothing about this movie made it come across as proselytizing. It truly was just a great movie and a great testament to a genuine hero, Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who never fired a shot, but single-handedly saved over 75 lives during the battle of Okinawa. If anyone deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor, he did.

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Filed under America, Do not judge, General Observations, Movie review

How Am I Doing?

The Question

It came from Africa.

No, it wasn’t an animal trying to eat me, or a disease for which no one has a cure (which is more scary). It was a question, one asked by a Facebook friend in Uganda.

Pastor Ndahayo Shine asked: “How are you?”

imageHow am I? How does an American answer that question? I mean, seriously? What do I have to complain about?

Honestly, at the very moment Pastor Shine’s question popped up on Facebook Messenger I was eating a warmed-up piece of apple pie (as American as it gets).

Pie, I tell you!

I’m eating pie, and I get a question regarding how I’m doing from a man in Uganda. Africa! The place where famines kill more people than the NRA is blamed for!

So, I replied with the following answer:

“I am alive, not hungry, and not hurting. I have a roof over my head, a car in the driveway, and children who love me. My wife is faithful, the police are not after me, and the dog hasn’t chewed anything important in a long, long time. I guess you could say I’m doing better than I deserve.”

Am I Blessed?

So many times we answer questions like “How are you doing?” with things like, “I’m fine,” or “I’m blessed.” However, to be honest – which I try to be most of the time – I’d rather admit to being “fine” than “blessed.”

Why is that? 

Saying that I’m blessed has a sneaky way of implying that those in other places – like Africa – are NOT blessed, at least not as much as me. I mean, what does it say about Christianity and the character of God when those who are “abundantly blessed” are the ones who rarely feel the need to trust God for their next meal? What I own or what’s parked in my driveway is not a mark of spirituality, nor should it insinuate I’ve live a life more worthy of blessing than my brothers and sisters living in poverty.

If I am blessed at all, it’s not because of anything I’ve done or deserve; I am simply the recipient of God’s grace. I have been allowed according to God’s sovereignty to live in a country where leftover pie in a running refrigerator is commonplace.

Jesus made it pretty clear who the “blessed” really are. They are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers (Matthew 5:3-9). And if that’s not enough, “…Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…” (Revelation 14:13).

What I Don’t Deserve

While saying “fine,” I’d bet the temptation to answer the question “How are you doing?” with complaints is almost overwhelming for most. Oh, admit it – you say you’re “fine” because you don’t think the person asking is really that interested in hearing your list of ailments, worries, and irritations.

You probably answer with “fine” because you don’t want to sound like a cry baby or a hypochondriac, right? Because, admit it, you feel you deserve better than what you have; you don’t really feel “blessed,” do you?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t deserve anything but hell. Yet, for some reason God has allowed me to be the recipient of many good things which I don’t deserve, even if I have worked for a lot of it.

I don’t deserve a faithful wife, loving children, and a devoted dog. I don’t deserve to be a pastor, have a regular job, or to be respected in my community.

I don’t deserve electric appliances that make life easier, or even the split-level brick home in which I live. I don’t deserve the freedom to come and go as I please, not having to rely on public transportation or worry about being stopped by thugs demanding to search my car.

How am I doing? What can I say? I just ate pie…because it was there…and I wasn’t even hungry! If I’m blessed, it’s above and beyond what I need.

God is good, but His grace is Amazing! 

 

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Filed under America, Christian Living, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving

Ole’ Whazzisname

May I Help You?

My husband has an incredible facial recognition center in his brain.  This man can see someone on the television and say, “Oh yeah, he was in that commercial a couple years ago.” Are you kidding me?!  I am continually amazed at this untapped gift that politicians would pay to have.  (Too bad we can’t translate that into some lucrative arrangement…)

So the story of when our firstborn was attending the college where her father works is still a fun one.  Bean (an affectionate nickname) walked into her dad’s office to visit with him and caught him in the middle of whatever project he was engaged in at the time.  Now, although Bob is excellent with facial recognition, his ability to multi-task leaves much to be desired.

Looking her in the face, Bob said something like, “May I help you?” and while his daughter stared back at him in disbelief, he finally recognized her—by her signature Converse tennis shoes!

Hilarious.

The point is, he wasn’t expecting her right then, and he was distracted by other work.  And thus, you may know where this is going…

“He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.”*

Would You Recognize Him?

I can still get a good giggle out of how the man with expert recognition qualities didn’t “see” his own daughter.  But the fact that the world did “see” its own Creator in Jesus is on a bit of a different plane entirely.  Even though He took on their own form to walk among them.  Even though He understood their every fear and pain, and came to take those upon Himself.

They were, in fact:

  • Expecting something else,
  • Wanting something else,
  • Busy with something else.

Today, the world continues to do the same thing.  Unfortunately, even as a Christian, I can still allow my “something else” to prevent me from recognizing the Love of God standing right in front of me. 

And watch out, He may be wearing some Chuckie-T’s!

*John 1:10 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Humor, Parenting, Relationships and Family, worship

A Given Example

“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done unto you.” – John 13:15

Every Christian has a particular place of influence. God has chosen to place me within a 33,000 lb. rolling metal box full of children. Sometimes I have wondered “why?” The answer is pretty simple: “For I have given you [as] an example…

In the above verse it was Jesus who was telling his disciples that He was showing them how to act, how to serve. Jesus had just washed their feet in an act of true humility and grace. What was His point? If the King of Glory can be a servant, so can we.

But not only has Jesus set an example for us to follow, He has given each of us the responsibility to be an example. He wants us to do as He has done unto us.

The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, told Timothy, “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Why is it so important to be an example? Because others are always watching.

As a Christian bus driver, I am always being watched. I am being watched by not only students, but also parents, teachers, and co-workers. Because I am being watched, it is important that I mirror the humble example set by Jesus. As a matter of fact, my example in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity, and humility is the only way to witness when I can’t speak openly of my faith.

One thing that may be hard to understand, but should be encouraging, is that no matter where the Christian goes, so also goes the Holy Spirit. It is our very presence that can make a difference in the lives of others when we do the humble, mundane activities of life in a Christ-like way. The lost can “see” Jesus in us. I pray these kids see Jesus in me, even if I’m not allowed to speak of Him.

Each new year I look at all the empty seats and wonder, “Who will sit here?” Every seat represents a soul. Every seat represents an eternal future known only to God. And here, alone in the bus, I ask God to make me an example…one that somehow makes a positive impact on someone now, and for eternity.

Be an example where YOU are.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, the future, Witnessing

I Step Out

Guided by the Wind…

Listening to His voice…

Foundation never failing…

I step out, carried, led…

And if I fall, 

I’m already in His hand. 

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Filed under Faith, Uncategorized

Truth from the Zoo

Conies

This morning I drove a school bus full of children from a summer camp to the Chattanooga zoo. While I was waiting on them, I took my Bible and a notebook inside where I could sit in the shade and study for my Sunday morning sermon…but first I had to take a look at a few of the animals (they’re so cuuuute!)

So, I went into a building that housed desert animals from around the world, and that’s where I saw a cute little fang-toothed critter straight out of the book of Proverbs – the coney.

“There be four [things which are] little upon the earth, but they [are] exceeding wise: … The conies [are but] a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;” – Proverbs 30:24, 26

The conies are second in the list  “four (little) things” that are exceedingly wise. But what is a coney? Is it a hot dog found on Long Island, New York? Possibly, but only if a legless wiener is capable of wisdom. These conies in this proverb seem to have a defense against being eaten with mustard – they hide in the rocks.

photo (55)

Taken in a dark room with my iPhone 4S, so not the best photo – but no credit needed 🙂

The animal described here is the hyrax, or rock badger (no relation to the kind that can chew off your arm). Found in Africa and the Middle East, these cute little critters, weighing an average of 8 lbs., are scavengers which live in groups of 8 to 10 and find refuge in the cracks and crevices of rocky terrain. Though scientists say the hyrax is a close relative to the elephant (it even has tiny little tusks – how cute!), this furry little animal is practically defenseless…at least on its own.

Their Defense System

Even though hyraxes are small, weak, and incapable of fighting off a predator, they are not on the endangered species list. Why is that? The answer lies in where they make their homes – in the rocks – and how they look out for each other (notice in the picture: one is awake while the other sleeps).

Being small and rather slow, the hyraxes in Africa are preyed upon by other animals such as wild dogs, leopards, and Egyptian cobras. However, it seems that the conies in Israel, like the ones of which the Bible spoke, have learned how to use the rocks to their advantage, along with a “system of sentries.”

 “In Israel, the rock hyrax is reportedly rarely preyed upon by terrestrial predators, as their system of sentries and their reliable refuges provide considerable protection. Hyrax remains are almost absent from the droppings of wolves in the Judean Desert.” (Wickipedia)

Is it any wonder why God’s Word describes the conies (hyraxes) “exceeding wise?” Knowing the danger posed by wolves and the like, the defenseless animals band together, watch over each other, and run to the rocks any time there is a threat.

Our Defense

One would have to be blind to miss the parallels here. Why do so many fools fall victim to the ravenous wolves of the world?

Their bones are found scattered across the sands of time because they ventured out alone, without the watchful eyes of others, and without the defense available in the true Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.

“OH! Rock of Ages, hide thou me!”

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Unity, wisdom

Arrest the Finger

If I Robbed a Bank

If, if, if, (please understand) IF I robbed a bank, I can imagine how things would turn out. Aside from being sad, it would probably be comical.

Personality. I don’t have the personality to rob a bank. I don’t like making people angry. It really hurts my feelings when people think poorly of me. I want people to like me, not want to hunt me down. If I were to rob a bank, my request for money from the teller would start with a “Hi, how are you today?”

The Note. What kind of note would I give the teller? It would have to be crafted in such a way as not to embarrass me if read in public. What if I misspelled a word?  What if I used poor grammar? What if I used a preposition to end a sentence with? It would stress me too much to think that I committed a crime for which I would forever be ridiculed for a poor choice of criminal words.

The Getaway Car. That’s a joke. Just as soon as the deed was done, my car would either die, or not even start. We have the worst luck with automobiles. And besides, what kind of bank robber drives a mini-van?

The Defense Attorney. Considering that I could not keep the money I would have stolen, I would not be able to afford a good lawyer. From my experience, most defense attorneys I have met probably buy shares in Orange Suits R Us.

If I were to rob a bank, I would get caught, convicted, and sent to prison for life. My name and reputation would be permanently ruined. The name of Anthony Charles Baker would forever be associated with the seedy, felonious, arch villains of history.

If My Finger Robbed a Bank

Suppose I never walked into one of those cool, new banks that have complimentary cappuccino machines and free back rubs. Suppose I just stayed at home with my little dog and a computer, but let one finger on my right hand rob the bank? All my finger would need would be the correct access codes, false identities, foreign bank account numbers, and an expertly manicured nail with a healthy cuticle.

Eventually, as these things usually turn out, my finger would get arrested. No, wait…I would get arrested, correct? Maybe it would take a few years to track me down. Maybe I would slip up and get caught while spending holiday (as the Brits say it) in Mont Carlo on my 90 foot yacht.

The fact is that I would get caught, and the reality would be that the whole body of Anthony C. Baker would be imprisoned, not just the finger. In other words, you can’t give the FBI the finger and walk away.

A Sinning Member

The finger is part of the body. And just like my finger is part of my body, I am part of the Body of Christ, the Church. The apostle Paul made it very clear that every believer is more than just an individual, but a “member” of the whole. Some, as he put it, are eyes; some are feet; and some are fingers (Romans 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 5:30). Each one of us has a particular function, but each one in particular is a part of a whole.

So often we think that we can act with total independence and bear the consequences for our own sins by ourselves. Many, when questioned about unwise choices will respond with, “This is my life, so don’t judge me…I’ll accept the responsibility.” What they fail to realize is that their sins affect more than one individual member – they affect the whole Body.

If my finger robbed a bank, I could argue, to no avail, that my body was innocent, that my reputation should not be harmed, and that my finger should be held accountable. I could say, “Arrest the finger, not me!” How silly would that be?

The Body and the Name

When the world sees us, they see Jesus. Christians, by definition, are “little Christs.” We, by design, are the hands and feet, the Body of Jesus Christ on the earth. By our actions the world should see that Jesus  is loving and compassionate, but also holy and obedient to His Father’s will. What, then, do they think of our Savior when we live in open sin?

If I robbed a bank with my finger, the authorities would condemn me, Anthony Baker. If I treat my neighbor poorly, am unfaithful to my spouse, or harm my children, what does that say about Jesus? The  eyes of the watching world will say, “If that’s a Christian…”

As part of the Body of Christ, we are responsible for the name of Christ. In “the name of Jesus” we pray, but “in the name of Jesus” we also live our lives in front of the lost. They have a hard time disassociating the “finger” from the Body. The reputation of the Body (the Church) and the name it bears can be stained by the actions of only one member.

Something to Consider

It is not a pleasant thing to consider, but if Jesus is concerned about His reputation, would it be wrong for Him to remove a “member” for causing the rest of the Body, including the name of Jesus, to suffer reproach? That’s what He did in the book of Acts with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1)?

Do you claim the name of Christ? Do you call yourself a Christian? If you do, are you living in open, blatant sin, such as fornication or adultery? What about constant lying, or gossiping? These are things from which we are told to “flee.” Why?  Because you are telling others that the Person attached to the “finger” approves of those things.

If Jesus takes His reputation seriously, to live in rebellion and unrighteousness would seem awfully dangerous. But I’m not pointing any fingers.

(Originally published in 2012, but still very applicable. Wouldn’t you agree?)

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Uncategorized, Witnessing