Tag Archives: God

An Impromptu Invocaton

Last night (Monday night) I went to a political fundraiser, which was also a campaign kickoff meeting. It was for a local mayoral candidate and current Chattanooga City Councilman, Larry Grohn. I went because I was invited by a Facebook friend whom I wanted to meet in person, and also because I wanted to hear what the candidate had to say.

Here in my city we are fortunate to have some good leadership. No matter what political party, most of the people in leadership are decent people with the good of our city at heart. Are they perfect? No. But none are Clinton or Trump, either (thank God!). Nevertheless, I wanted to hear good reasons why I should vote for Mr. Grohn, not for the incumbent.

Upon entering the meeting hall downtown I was greeted by the candidate’s wife. Once I told her who I was and why I was there, she said to me, “The person you need to be speaking to is my husband…let me introduce you to him.” She did, and that led to a very interesting conversation which must have lasted around 5 minutes. Thankfully, some of my questions were answered.

After speaking with Councilman Grohn, I went to the food bar and filled my little paper plate with chicken nuggets, celery, a few little tomatoes, and a cookie. After that I got my glass of unsweetened iced tea, found a seat at a table, and began a nice theological/political conversation with some very intelligent college students.

Shortly before 7 pm, the time when the speaking part of this meeting was to begin, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Someone whispered in my ear, “Pastor Baker,” so I turned around.

“Pastor,” the candidate himself said, “would you be willing to give the invocation tonight?” I don’t know if I looked surprised, or not, but my eyebrows must have raised as I was asked this question. I mean, seriously, who was I that he should come to me and ask me to open up his campaign’s inaugural event with prayer? Yet, what was I supposed to do, say “no”?

“Sure,” I replied. “I’d be happy to.”

“Thank you, Pastor,” he then said. “We want to start things off right, you know?”

“Absolutely,” I said with a nod.

Next, as I stood up, from behind me came the campaign manager. He thanked me for being willing to give the invocation at such short notice, then proceeded to tell me the order in which I was to do what. Then he said, “Say whatever you want to say…if you want to say anything…then pray…it’s up to you, just say whatever you want. Thank you for doing this.”

Yes, I was asked to pray at a political event and was given complete freedom to say whatever I wanted to say. And they didn’t know me from the man in the moon! Unbelievable!

So, when the time came I walked up to the microphone set up in the meeting hall full of people and cameras and introduced myself. The next thing I did was remind everyone of how and why Benjamin Franklin called the continental congress to stop what they were doing and pray to the Almighty for His help. I then said (to paraphrase myself):

“We are just men and women, and none of us are perfect. And just like those men back then at the founding of our nation, we have our flaws, and we need help – we need outside Help. So, let us now call upon Almighty God.”

I then prayed, beginning with a quote from Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…” I didn’t pray a prayer of blessing for the candidate, nor did I attempt to give the impression that my prayer was a form of support. Actually, the prayer that came out of me felt like it was not even me speaking, for it was full of authority and “otherness.” I felt like I was in the presence of the One who did not take sides, but was the One before whom all knees must bow. Therefore I said:

“If this man for whom these people have gathered here to honor be a righteous man…may all things done here tonight not be for our aggrandizement, but for Your glory…in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Sunday night some dear folk at another church, Mt. Carmel Baptist, had me come forward, after I spoke, and laid hands on me and prayed. They prayed, among other things, that God’s hand of blessing would be upon me, and that His calling upon my life would be evident – a “man of God.” Then, last night, something about me caused a political candidate to trust a total stranger to give the opening invocation at such an important event.

That, my friends, was a God thing.


Leave a comment

Filed under America, God, politics, Prayer

The Better Question

When looking for answers to our problems, many times we ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”

A better question might be, “What did Jesus do?”

“But we preach Christ crucified…” – 1 Corinthians 1:23


Filed under Christianity, current events, Theology

Just Hupomenō

Writer’s Laziness

I don’t know that I would call it “writer’s block”; it’s more like “writer’s laziness.” You see, I have plenty of things to write about, but very little energy to attack them with the literary fervor each one deserves. Therefore, I am going to cut and paste something from a few years ago into a post for today.

A couple of years ago I told my daughter Katie (the one in college) that I was having a “form of writer’s block.” She asked, “Do you want me to give you a random suggestion?” I said, “sure.”

hupomenoTwo minutes later she comes to me with a picture and a word: hupomenō (ὑπομένω). “Write about this,” she said.


The word is a Greek word which means “to remain under,” or, “to remain under the test in a God-honoring manner, not seeking to escape it but eager to learn the lessons it was sent to teach.”*

But it could also mean standing firm by holding one’s ground (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13) and persevering in spite of difficulty (2 Tim 2:10).** The words that  hupomenō is most commonly translated into are “patience,” and “endure.”

Katie’s a godly young girl, so she wrote Hupomeno on her hand as a reminder to be patient and to “endure.”

Patiently Enduring

So how are you holding up? How are you enduring? Sometimes that’s all we can do, isn’t it? Sometimes all we can do when the winds are blowing, when the waves are crashing against us, and when the sand is shifting beneath our feet is to just endure the tempest while holding on for dear life to something…or Someone…unmovable and secure.

Whatever you are under right now, don’t give up – honor God with your faithfulness. Whatever you are fighting against, just hold your ground. Whatever road your traveling, even if it seems like it’s never going to end, persevere – don’t give up till you’re home.

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4 HCSB

Just hang in there; God is still God.

*Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Ro 12:9.

**James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).


Filed under Bible Study, blogging, Faith

My God Is Faithful

I am going to church this morning.

I’m not going as one who wants to show off…as one who wants to be seen…as one who deserves any kind of blessing, healing, or anointing…as one who deserves anything at all.

I’m not going because it’s expected of me, even though it is – I’m the pastor, you know.

I’m not going to prove anything to anyone, especially God, because He knows my heart; He knows me better than I know myself.

I am going to church this morning because my God is faithful, despite my unfaithfulness.

I am going to church this morning because my God deserved to be praised by me in front of others, because I love Him, and I’m not ashamed.

I am going to church this morning. Are you?


Filed under Christianity, Church

Four Observations On Isaiah 46:3-4


In preparation for preaching in Africa, I’ve been going through some older outlines of sermons trying to stir up some thoughts. In the process I came across this one.

Here are just four simple point based on the following passage in Isaiah. I don’t usually preach from the New Living Translation, but for today that’s the translation I’ve decided to use.

Read the text, then take the points to heart.

Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon, bow as they are lowered to the ground. They are being hauled away on ox carts. The poor beasts stagger under the weight. Both the idols and their owners are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people, and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together.

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” – Isaiah 46:1-4 NLT

1. If God is a burden to you, you’ve got the wrong god!

2. False gods sap our strength; the True God sustains us.

3. The True God doesn’t need saving.

4. You’re never too old to be a child of God.

Have a blessed day!



Filed under God, Preaching

I Worship Me

I Am That Important

I could stay at home and get some more sleep… because, you know, it’s that important.

I could stay at home and watch some TV… because, you know, it’s that important.

I could sleep a little later, then make a special breakfast… because, you know, it’s that important.

I stay at home, wake up later, make a light breakfast, then take a morning jog when there’s no rush… because, you know, it’s that important.

Or, I could just ignore the needs of my fellow believers; I could assume I’m never missed and my absence makes no difference; and I could just brush aside any biblical commands while I hold God hostage to my demands… because, you know, I am that important.

I am… kinda has a nice ring to it, you think?

Yeah, who needs to go to church on Sunday morning, anyway? Especially when I AM the one I worship the rest of the week.

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves…”  – 2 Timothy 3:2


Filed under Church

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! 



Filed under America, Christian Living, Life Lessons, Thanksgiving