Tag Archives: faith

A Tale of Two Birthdays

Happy Birthday to ME?

OH! Look! It’s my birthday! I am a whopping 53 years old today, and I’m excited! Why? I don’t know, but probably because I’m alive.

Yes, 53 years have passed since I was born in Chattanooga, TN. A whole lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.

But just last night, as we were heading home from Waffle House – that’s where we went for my pre-birthday dinner, I noted that, in reality, I didn’t do anything to be recognized for; my mother did all the work! She, of all people, should be celebrated!

It was long overdue, but I said, “I didn’t do anything on my own to be born; it was YOU who made the choice to have me … thank you.”

It was then that my wife said, “Then maybe we should not buy you a birthday present, but get your mom something!”

Ummm, nice, but it doesn’t work like that.

The OTHER Birthday

But then there was another birthday: the day I was born again. And the interesting thing about THAT day is that once again, similar to my earthly birth, the credit really belongs to a parent – my dad.

On a Wednesday night in September, 1973, I realized that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. Unfortunately, although I was convicted of my lostness, I didn’t know what to do about it. That’s when my daddy, my godly father, took notice and asked me what was wrong.

“I’m not saved…I’m going to hell!” I said.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked. I nodded.

Then, right in the middle of a song service at 34th Street Baptist Tabernacle, my dad I snuck off to a tiny Sunday school room with tiny tables and tiny chairs, and there he walked me through a classic “sinner’s prayer.”

I was gloriously and miraculously regenerated! I was born again! I was saved!

I can’t remember if I ever actually thanked him for that day, but because of that day I know I’ll get another chance.

Below is what is written in my dad’s tattered old Bible. My new-birth certificate 🙂

Thank you, Mom and Dad.

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Where Are You Resting?

Sometimes God uses the smallest things to remind us of His caring love, provision, and strength. 

As I look at this recent picture of my little George when he wasn’t feeling well, I can’t help but notice how at rest he is. Look at how little, yet how trusting. Just a tiny little guy, but he knows where he is loved, safe, and taken care of.

In reality, how much bigger is God than us? How much more capable is He than me when it comes to protecting, providing, and comforting? Why is it I run around the yard in a panic like a little dog with no home?

Trust – the word so often missing in our relationship with our heavenly Father. But with trust (and unconditional love) comes a readiness to lay our head on God’s strong arm. There we will find rest.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

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Teaching Thru the BFM2000 Pt 1

The Scriptures

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Does Jesus Care?

Watch the sermon from last Sunday and find out 🙂

But here’s a hint…. YES!

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You Might Be a Sinner If…

(L-R) My paternal great grandfather and grandfather.


I’m a Redneck

Yes, I confess. I am a redneck, especially considering how burned my neck is after standing out in the sun for five+ hours. Which leads me to ask a question of myself…why do I never remember sun screen unless I go to a beach?

And I also know that I am a redneck because Jeff Foxworthy told me so. If you remember, Foxworthy’s comic routine made famous the line, “You might be a redneck.” Here are some that I know have applied to me at least once over the 50-plus years of my life.

You might be a redneck if…

  • You read the Auto Trader with a highlight pen.
  • Every socket in your house breaks a fire code.
  • The taillight covers of your car are made of red tape.
  • Directions to your house include “Turn off the  paved road.”
  • Going to the bathroom at night involves shoes and a  flashlight.
  • You use the term `over yonder’ more than once a month.

I’m a Sinner

Unlike a whole lot of people in this world (and in a world of their own), I can admit that I am a sinner. The only difference is that once I confessed my inability to change my nature, I traded my “filthy rags” for the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9). Now, I’m still a sinner, but I’m am a saved sinner.

So, based on the actions of Adam and Eve in the third chapter of Genesis, I took a cue from Jeff Foxworthy and came up with my own list of “you might be’s.” From that list I preached a message entitled “You Might Be a Sinner If…

You might be a sinner if…

  •   You have ever talked to a Serpent – and taken its advice (v. 2).
  •   You know the difference between “Naked” and “Necked” (v. 7). Side Note: If you consider fig leaves appropriate attire, you might be a sinner.
  •  You feel like running when the law shows up (v. 8).
  •  God is searching for you, and not the other way around (v. 9).
  •  You feel self-conscious or defensive about anything you’ve ever done (v. 9-10).
  •  You ever play the “blame game” – Others, “The devil made me do it” (v. 11-13).
  •  You were born (Romans 5:12).

Change of Status

Some people try on their own to change their status in life. Sometimes rednecks move away from Redneckville in order to become a different person. But what they find out is that Redneckville never left their heart. They still have those same desires to grill Spam and fish with dynamite.

In the same way, many people think, once they finally realize they are sinners, that change can come with a simple change of atmosphere, or the turning over of a new fig leaf.

The fact is that sinners don’t become “saints” on their own. It takes outside intervention.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

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I’m Just a Simple Preacher

“Simple Preacher”

I’m just a simple ol’ preacher
I know what I know, I think
But when I’m around the scholars
I find that my knowledge stinks

They impress with their didactic polemics
And their proofs of amanuenses
But at the risk of sounding solipsistic
I know that I know I have Jesus

– Anthony Baker

 

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Barnabas Baker: That’s Not My Name, But It Would Be Nice

Preaching Through Acts

This is my fourth time preaching/teaching through the book of Acts, and yes, I’m still learning things. Even though it’s all been over Facebook on Sunday evenings, it’s still been exciting (especially chapter 12 – I’ll included a link at the end – you should watch it).

But one person stands out to me, especially at this time in my ministry. How he is described is what I am lacking in my own life. When I read of him and preach about him, I am convicted. Wouldn’t it be nice if people thought my name was different than what it is?

Every pastor, to one degree or another, should be more like Barnabas. Yes, I want to be seen as a reflection of Jesus, but Barnabas was certainly that. So, if they every forget my name, Barnabas Baker would work.

Barnabas

Barnabas was a Levite from the country of Cyprus who became a follower of Christ. He was a generous man, a godly man, and one whose name fit his personality; he was the “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36-37).

Barnabas was the type of guy that truly cared about people and wanted to see them succeed. He was more than just a team player; he was a motivator, the kind of man who would step down from the pedestal so that someone else could shine. As a matter of fact, it was Barnabas who introduced Saul (Paul), the former persecutor of Christians, to the church at Jerusalem (talk about having someone’s back!).

But in preaching through chapter 11 of Acts, I came across a description of Barnabas that left me very convicted. The way Barnabas was described should be how we are described: good people, full of the Holy Ghost, and full of faith (11:24).

A Good Man

The first thing said about Barnabas was that he was “a good man.” Now, a lot of people think they are good people, but not all are. As a matter of fact, there’s no other place in Acts where Luke describes a person as “good.” Only Barnabas gets that distinction.

Being described as “good” meant that he was a man with whom no one could find fault. He must have been a man of strong character, a man who kept his word, and a man who would do anything for anybody, including give the last coin to one in need. He was the kind of man Jesus was talking about when He said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good” (Luke 6:45). Barnabas was genuine, the “real deal.”

Full of the Holy Ghost

Barnabas was also “full of the Holy Ghost.” What does that mean? Well first off, let’s think about the description of “full.”

The Greek word translated as “full” is one that meant not only to be filled up but filled up to the point of overflowing. Barnabas was totally yielded and filled with the Spirit, so much so that His presence spilled over onto others. The “son of consolation” was an encourager, just like the Spirit controlling and empowering him.

Full of Faith

Barnabas was not only full of the Holy Ghost but also of faith. Simply put, Barnabas was fully convinced and persuaded with what he believed to be true. There was no doubting, no hesitation, no reluctance, no hiding, no timidity. Barnabas was sure in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is one reason he was sent by the church in Jerusalem to see what was going on in Antioch of Syria.

The Result

Now, let’s look at what happened because of Barnabas’ character, his spiritual power, and his sure faith.

“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” – Acts 11:23-24 

First, because he was a good man, he was not jealous of the good things happening in Antioch; he rejoiced that the grace of God had been poured out on the believers there!

Second, because he was full of the Holy Ghost, what was in his heart (as Jesus described) had to be shared, so he “exhorted” them and encouraged them in their faith.

Third, because Barnabas knew what temptations and trials could come, especially with the persecution following Stephen’s death fresh on his mind, he encouraged the new believers to be pro-active in their devotion to the Christ. He knew that the only way to have a strong faith is to purposefully “cleave unto the Lord.”

Fourth, many people were added unto the Lord! Because of the spirituality and faith and character of godly Barnabas, not only were new believers in Antioch strengthened, but many more people came to know Christ!

The Challenge

Here’s the thing. Why aren’t more people coming to a saving faith in Jesus? Why aren’t more of our churches encouraged? Why aren’t more Christians spiritually maturing in their faith? It’s because we don’t have enough men and women like Barnabas.

Be a good person! Seriously, be the type of man or woman that people can trust and rely on. Be the type of person that people can tell you care. Be generous, compassionate, trustworthy, and consistent. Be people of honor and character.

Be filled with the Spirit! Do you know what it means to be completely filled with the Holy Ghost of God? It means there are no little rooms, closets, or boxes in your heart where there is written a note to God which says, “Private! Hands off!” Every are of your life – every secret part – should be yielded to and controlled by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, you are self-controlled and rebellious, and thereby powerless.

Be full of faith! Grow your faith. Study God’s Word. Know why you believe what you believe. Don’t be a coward! If you are shy or feel intimidated to share your faith with others, ask yourself why that’s so!

Would you be afraid to warn your neighbor a murderer was crawling through his bedroom window? Would you be afraid to yell “fire!” if flames were engulfing the rooms of a hotel where people were sleeping? It’s only because you are NOT full of faith that you are not bold; you have doubts the fire is real and the murderer really means to harm.

You and I need to be more like Barnabas.

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Is There Really a “Universal” Gospel?

The following is an outline (nothing but an outline) that I prepared to preach one Sunday several years ago. I found it while searching through some documents on my computer and felt led to share it with you. Feel free to use it, if that’s what you do. Other than that, maybe you could use it as a study tool. 

Maybe I’ll share it with the folk at Bethlehem Baptist one day 🙂 


“Examining the Universality of the Gospel”

I.   Introduction

Luke 2:9-10. Is the Gospel good news for all people?

The word “people” was “pointing specially to the people of Israel.”

II.  What does it mean to be universal?

The term universal is described by one dictionary as an “adjective relating to or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.”

III. What is the Gospel?

Dictionary Definition:

The gospel is the The Eng. word “gospel,” i.e. “good message,” is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., “evangel”). In the NT it denotes the “good tidings” of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension, e.g., Act 15:7; 20:24; 1Pe 4:17.[3]

Paul’s Definition: In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul makes it very clear that the gospel is simple, not complicated, and consists of two central features:

  • Jesus the Messiah died on the cross and
  • He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures.[4]

IV. Objections and False Gospels  Some object to a Universal Gospel because race, culture, past experiences, etc.

  1. From those who have been hurt or don’t understand. “You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?”[5] – Chief Red Jacket, 1805, in a speech to the Six Nations and an American missionary, Mr. Cram.
  2. The Jews. In the eleventh chapter of the book of Acts, for instance, we read how that Peter, when he went to Jerusalem, “contended” with the Jews over the issue of the gospel being presented to the Gentiles. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul mentioned those who forbade him to “speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved.”
  3. Prosperity Gospel. It is certainly not a gospel that expects “blessing and favor” as evidence of God’s grace.

V.   A Gospel that IS Universal

  • Not limited by race, gender, age, nationality, boundary of any kind, or economic status. It is truly “good news” to anyone and everyone as long as they first realize they have a need for it.
  • Meet the most basic needs of Humanity.
  1. Sin. All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Because of Adam, sin entered the world, and death by sin; therefore death has passed as a consequence upon all men (Rom. 5:12). Jesus Christ died for the sins of all, and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
  2. The gospel is universal because it addresses the world we all live in. It answers the questions of pain and suffering. It gives meaning to the struggles of life. The gospel is not a drug or panacea of some sort; it is a reality pill.
  3. Love and Compassion. Mother Teresa said, “Maybe they are starved for bread in Africa. You are starved for love in the United States.”[6] What greater message of love can one share than that of the gospel of Jesus? “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

 VI. Conclusion  The gospel that is truly universal in its scope and application.

  1. All men are born in sin – Romans 5:12
  2. There is none righteous – Romans 3:10
  3. All have sinned – Romans 3:23

But…

  1. Jesus is the only Way – John 14:6
  2. One day ever knee will bow and ever tongue will confess – Phil. 2:10-11

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15 KJV

A message of love to every “creature” (κτίσις , εως f creation, what is created, created order, creature [7]) – how much more “universal” can a gospel get?

 

 

 

[1] Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), Lk 2:10.

[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[3] W. E. Vine, “Gospel (Noun and Verb: to Preach)”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Blue Letter Bible. 1940. 24 June, 1996 3 Dec 2012.

[4] Donny Mathis, “Gospel” In , in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 671.

[5] Bryan, William Jennings, ed. The World’s Famous Orations. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906; New York: Bartleby.com, 2003. www.bartleby.com/268/. [Accessed Dec. 2, 2012].

[6] G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1986), 257.

[7] Barclay M. Newman, Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 104.

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The De-Grandeurization of God

Proud Doubter

Last night I was scrolling through the Facebook posts of a friend. Actually, I wouldn’t exactly call the person a “friend” as much as a former acquaintance. The person I used to know as a young, vibrant Christian student, one who boldly proclaimed his faith, has now become proud doubter.

Look, let me be the first to say that moments of doubt are not uncommon, and far be it from me to cast judgment on those who do. I have had my moments of doubt, and there have been many times when I’ve had to pray, “Lord, help my unbelief.” But one thing I’ve never done is boast about my doubting. G0d forbid!

Yet, as I scrolled through the posts and the comments of my young friend of years gone by, what I saw was one who was proud of the fact that he felt free enough to doubt, even to allow his doubts to affect what he believed about God.

A Blown Mind

Come to find out, my young friend has been doing some study. He has become fascinated with astronomy, specifically the “Big Bang.” As many have done, he has proudly ditched the supposed illiterate belief in a Young Earth creation and taken off full bore down the road of “true” science. He has been blown away by the scientific “evidence” that led him not only to doubt his earlier beliefs, but to look forward to other areas in which his understanding of God may be changed.

In other words, because of what my young friend has now learned, he is looking forward to the de-grandeurization of his God.

Did God?

If you will remember, it was Satan, in the Garden of Eden, who posed the first doubt-inducing question, “Did God…?” This led to Eve questioning the motives of her Creator.

Unfortunately, developments in modern science have been used in the very same way to create doubt, to cause believers to question the abilities of their Creator. They look at the marvelous works of creation and ultimately conclude that it was natural forces which created what we now see, not God. By doing so, they unwittingly fall prey to the gradual undermining of their faith, going from one “enlightening” conclusion to another, saying: “Well, if what I believed there is not true, then what else about God is not true?”

They proudly march forward with a presupposition of doubt leading the way, redefining God and His creation.

The Declaration 

Most detailed image of the Crab Nebula

Credit: NASA, ESA and Allison Loll/Jeff Hester (Arizona State University). Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)

But here’s the thing: Psalm 19:1 says that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Even more, Psalm 97:6 says, “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.”

Is the universe expanding? Yes, it is. But what does that necessarily mean about God? The universe is expanding, and men are made up of the same elements found in stars. Does this mean that believing God created the heavens, including man, “as is” is out of the realm of possibility?

The God I serve is so big, so powerful, so awesome, so grand that when He said, “Let there be…” it was. There’s no reason to doubt, even if it doesn’t all make sense.

After all, the grandeur of creation was created out of nothing. If God could do that, then nothing is impossible for Him. Science doesn’t have to disprove anything; it should be declaring.

I’m a proud believer.

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Filed under Apologetics, Faith, God, World View

An Important Afternoon Devotional: “Cancer Treatment”

On Monday afternoon I did a Facebook LIVE devotional for my church congregation. It became very personal and displayed more transparency than I intended.

But, you know what? Maybe that’s exactly what a lot of people needed. Honesty.

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Filed under Christianity, Family, Life/Death