Tag Archives: hope

I’m NOT Going to Puke! I’m n…

This is going to be an unusual entry, as if the title wasn’t enough of a clue. I’m going to talk about holding back from puking – puking my emotions, that is.

Let’s start with the whole disgusting vomiting thing.

You know what it’s like – that feeling of a sour stomach, a queasiness, a warning that your body is preparing to expel what it thinks is harmful to process, right?

Have you ever had that feeling but determined you were going to do everything in your superpowers to stop it from happening?

First, you try to convince yourself that it’s nothing, really. I mean, sure, you didn’t give thanks to Jesus for that sandwich from Chick-fil-A because, after all, it came pre-blessed. And that sushi from the kiosk in the food court didn’t taste too strange, at least no more than normal.

The next thing you do is think, “It’s only a little upset stomach,” then ask, “Where’s the Mylanta?” Yeah, that’s all you need.

The sweat begins to bead on your forehead. More excuses. More rationalizing. You find a place to lie down and moan a muffled declaration into your pillow: “I’m NOT going to throw up!”

Sometimes it works. Sometimes.

Well, this is the best way I can describe the feelings I have after the death of my mother, Rebecca Marie Baker, this past Tuesday morning.

Rebecca Marie Baker 12/28/44 – 3/16/21

It’s like I feel a familiar sensation, a pressure, a something… it’s like I know if I was so many other people I would have already broken down and wept. But when the urge comes my immediate response – and it’s actually a physical, tangible response – is to tap it back down. And I am not even sure if it’s on purpose. Actually, I know it’s not.

If the body eats something that is bad for it, the natural response is to expel it. To keep it inside and to digest it could be harmful.

But what of the heart? What of the emotions? What of pain and grief?

I mentioned this to my wife and she suggested I “let it out.” But the last time I cried uncontrollably was when I stood at the door of the bedroom of one of our daughters after she moved off to college.

I don’t like to cry like that. I don’t like being that weak. I especially don’t like people seeing me that way.

However, Jesus wept. Yes, He did.

But not every time.

At least that we know.

I know these last few weeks were difficult, and I know we talked a lot about you going to heaven, but now that you are gone, I’m going to miss you. I am glad I was able to tell you I loved you and to hear your weak voice whisper back, “I love you, too.”

I’m thankful I was able to sit by your bed, hold your hand, and sing Amazing Grace to you as you left this world of pain. I wish I could have seen the look on your face when you breathed your first taste of heavenly air.

I can only imagine what it was like for you and Daddy to see each other again.

This is why it’s hard to cry. This is why it’s difficult to grieve. You are where you were born again to go.

Your faith has become sight!

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15 NLT

I’m happy for you, Momma! I’m sure there are tears of joy where you are, too.

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Filed under Life/Death, Relationships and Family

My Last Post of 2020

Glad it’s over, but at least I’m better prepared for the next catastrophe. Amen?

Thank you, everyone. All of you who have read any of my posts, all of you are appreciated, even Stephen in Canada 😉

Tonight, at 6pm our time, we are going to be having a New Year’s Eve service. It won’t be a long one, nor will it be a traditional-like service. All I plan to do is read a verse or two from the Bible and ask if anyone would like to share a word or two about the past year. Then, as Jesus and his disciples did right before He was taken to be tried, we will have our version of the Passover meal: the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus said of the Passover meal, and by extension the celebration of that last supper we observe today, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul said that as often as we partake in the communion meal, we “proclaim His death” until He returns. I want to offer it tonight for both those reasons.

Remember Jesus. If that is one thing we probably did not do enough of is think of Jesus during the last year. On the other hand, it is very possible that many people who never thought about God at all had their minds on things eternal. Did we as Christians take advantage of that opportunity? Did we think about life and death as much as those who were without hope?

I can’t help but think that the Church has been given a rare opportunity, at least a once-in-a-lifetime chance to offer Christ during a time of great uncertainty and questioning. For most of the past year we have seen something comparative to the Ethiopian reading a scroll he barely understood and we as Phillip being sent to answer his questions. How many of us have even considered the answers?

Proclaim His death until He comes. The second thing about communion is that by partaking in it we show that we have put our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. We believe that His blood was shed and His body was broken on our behalf, and that Jesus was buried only to rise again. And we believe, as He promised to rise again, He also promised to return. Therefore, we partake with a grateful and expectant heart as we proclaim to the watching world where our faith lies.


Before I go, I want to clue you in to the subject matter of my next substantive post. As some of you may have read, a man named Stephen has been leaving some pretty harsh and antagonistic comments here on the blog. I have honestly come close a time or two to blocking him. However, I’ve not been able to do that.

So, in a previous comment to Stephen, I said that I would like to take his accusations and false charges and answer them one-by-one. Unfortunately, a lot has happened over the last couple of months and I forgot to do so. However, I am in the process of compiling ALL Stephens comments going back to January of this year. From these comments I am going to pull specific issues and questions that I will attempt to address. Please pray that the Lord will use the material I post to open the eyes of blind and allow the hard-of-hearing to hear His voice.


May the joy of the Lord be your strength in 2021.

Put Jesus first in all you do.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, blogging, Church, current events, Future, God

When my heart is overwhelmed

“from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I‭‭” Psalm 61:2 Over the past few days, …

When my heart is overwhelmed

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Filed under Guest Posts, Love of God, Struggles and Trials

Preach What YOU Need to Hear

To begin, let me first apologize for the horribly weak audio of me speaking. The video I’m attaching was recorded, as usual, on my iPhone, but for some reason the corded external microphone attached to the pulpit didn’t work!

Ironically, you can hear everyone else clearly.

But beyond the audio issue, I’m attaching this video from Sunday night in order to encourage you. You see, even preachers need preaching to.

Did you know God loves you? He does.

If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them. Either comment below or email me at pastoracbaker@yahoo.com.

Blessings!

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Filed under baptist, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Christianity, Depression, Love of God, Preaching

Just Be Thankful You’re Alive!

Sunrise over Chattanooga

As I Was Reading…

As I was reading the book of Lamentations (not the happiest of reads), I read a verse I’d like to share with you.

Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins? (Lamentations 3:39, CSB)

What does this verse mean?

Simply put, if you have been punished for your sins by a Holy God … and you’re still alive … you have nothing to complain about!

Seriously, so often we gripe about the circumstances we endure, yet those circumstances are often the result of our own sinful decisions.

But isn’t it a wonderful thing that we are so loved by our heavenly Father? Because he is rich in mercy, He does not pour out on us the punishment we deserve.

We are alive! We should be grateful!

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. – Lamentations 3:41-42

Did You See the Sunrise?

There are so many things in this world we could complain about. So often those who complain the most are the ones who have the most. But if there’s anything worth rejoicing about, it is the fact that we serve a God who is rich in mercy.

We don’t deserve anything good, no matter how small or insignificant; we deserve judgement.

However, if I just turn back one page in my Bible I can read verse 22, where it says, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” And, thankfully, they are new every morning!

If you are reading this, then you are alive!

Why not take a moment and praise Him?

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Filed under Bible Study, God, grace

The Emptiness that Leads to Protests Confirms a Greater Need to Share Jesus

Good Wednesday morning, everyone!

I hope this post finds you well, whether it be a Wednesday where you are, or not 😉

This morning I went walking around my neighborhood in order to burn off some ill-gotten calories. While I was walking, a thought came to mind regarding the current social climate of unrest and ever-present protesting. As briefly as possible, I want to share my thought with you and beg your feedback.

Thanks.

By the way, this is a view of my office “work place” this morning.

Why do people protest like they do?

More specifically, why to white people run the streets tearing up stuff in support of Black Lives Matter? Please don’t be triggered – this is not a racial argument that I’m attempting to make. I ask this because the whites are not being treated like the blacks, so why protest and even risk (in a few places) being arrested?

Aside from those who join protests for no other reason than to find an accepted avenue through which to express their hoodlum-istic desires to vandalize something, I believe people join protests because they believe in the cause (whatever that may be).

Now, granted, the “causes” for many protests I’ve seen are weak and unsubstantiated, contrived, or overblown. But for the most part, the people marching, protesting, occupying, vandalizing, and even those who are acting like idiots while standing in front of moving trucks are doing it because they “believe” in something worth acting a fool.

Now, to the point…

I believe that what we are seeing in our nation, even the world, is the outward expression of a deep, inward void … an emptiness of moral value and sense of purpose, which leads a hopeless society to latch on to any cause that may sooth our souls’ desire for the spiritual.

In other words, what we are witnessing is a society, one that has purged itself of transcendent, objective meaning, all of a sudden finding within itself an insatiable hunger for what it refuses to accept, so it feeds on the artificial.

What I see are people who need to feel righteously indignant in order to gloss over the reality of their own unrighteousness.

Are there legitimate reasons for protests? Of course there are – at least in some cases. However, aside from any agenda that might be afoot and seeking to overturn our nation and system of government, what I see are not adults who’ve given a lot of well-informed thought to why they are doing what they are doing, but younger people who need a reason to wake up in the morning.

Black lives matter, so that means they, too, can find meaning – and matter.  Even more, they can be a part of a group, a community of like-minded activists complete with vibrant, charismatic speakers, which will literally walk along side them and encourage them to stay strong.

Therefore, it appears to me that the world STILL needs Christ, whether they want to admit it, or not. As a matter of fact, this modern culture of protest and activism only confirms there’s a greater need than ever to share Jesus.

Your thoughts?

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Filed under America, Christianity, current events

Something Good Worth Waiting For

I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. – Psalm 40:1

There’s an old saying, “good things come to those who wait.” Where did it come from? Who said it first? I don’t know, although I’m sure it’s traceable. All I know is that the first verse of Psalm 40 says almost the same thing, only what comes to the one waiting is better than anything this world can offer.

Something’s Wrong

Let’s think about some things that have to be going on for this verse to make any sense. First, something is wrong. Why else would David be crying out to God? Something is wrong. Why else would he be wanting God to do something.

Last night I dealt with some serious prayer requests. One thing led to another and I brought up the question that so many ask: “If there’s a God, then why is there pain? Why do good people suffer?” Here’s another question, though: If there is no God, and still there is pain and suffering, then what’s the point? Either there is pain and suffering and people going through bad times for no reason whatsoever, or there is a great plan beyond our understanding, one being worked out by a loving God.

The pain is there, regardless. Why not believe there’s hope?

In God’s Time

The second thing to observe is the fact that God works on His own time table. David cried out, for how long we don’t know, but God’s response was not immediate.

How often to we find ourselves calling out in prayer, “Do something! Do it NOW!” In David’s case, whatever was wrong was more than he could handle on his own; he needed divine intervention. How often do search for immediate answers? How often do we question God and His timing all because we know more about what is really needed at the moment?

David waited patiently. Patience requires faith. It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Are you waiting patiently?

To Those Who Wait

To those who wait patiently on the Lord; to those who have faith that God will indeed do what is best; to those who wait God gives something that most do not realize they never truly have – His undivided attention. David waited patiently on the Lord, and He “inclined” unto him.

Picture two people sitting at a table. Lots of other people are at the table, too, just going on and on about all manner of stuff. One person tries to talk to the other, but there are so many distractions. Eventually, when the other notices how much the one wants to talk, he leans over, rests on an elbow, bends an ear, and says, “Now, what were you saying?”

God is omniscient; it’s not like He can’t hear all prayers. But within this verse we get a glimpse into the reality that there is something special, a sweet privilege that comes to those who “wait patiently on the Lord.” To reach that point of communion with the Creator of the universe, to know you have His ear: now that’s a good thing for which to wait, don’t you think?

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Filed under Bible Study, God, Love of God, Theology

What Was It Like, The Night Before?

Wells Branch Community Church: Austin, TX > Despair and the Key ...

 

Just imagine … the night before the resurrection.

Tomorrow is Easter, the day that we celebrate the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. But here it is the night before, the night before the celebrations, and few of us have any idea of the sense of total despair the followers of Jesus must have been experiencing on this night – the night before.

For three and a half years his disciples had followed Him around, listening to His stories, His parables, and His prayers. They had witnessed miracle after miracle which should have confirmed to them His claims to be the Messiah. Yet, just two days ago they witnessed the supposed Son of God, the “resurrection and the life” (that’s what he told Mary and Martha, you know, on the day He raised Lazarus from the dead), betrayed, beaten, falsely convicted, and tortuously crucified.

Then, after his tormentors had done all they could do, Jesus died. It was pretty obvious to all who were present.

It grew dark and the earth shook violently, as to add insult to injury, for even creation sensed the tragedy of it all.

They saw Him buried.

Some ran…some huddled as they hid…would they be next?

What of the “Kingdom” the Jesus had spoken of?

What good were the words “he that believeth on me shall not die, but have everlasting life” if the one saying it could be unjustly convicted, abandoned by heaven, and left to die in the most disgraceful and painful way? How could HE make such a promise if HE could die?

It was the night before, just like tonight, yet there was no anticipation of worship services or egg hunts – only the expectation of another sunrise without the Son.

They were afraid…broken…discouraged…faithless…confused…angry…directionless…without hope…

They were totally unprepared for what was about to happen, because the last thing they were thinking of was that this was…

the night before.

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Filed under Easter

A Quick Exposition of 1 Peter 3:15 (Applicable to Today)

A while back, I was asked to do a quick exegesis of 1 Peter 3:15 for a class I was taking in seminary. I then shared on this blog what I wrote at that time.

But even though what I wrote was geared more toward the idea of being a witness during persecution, there’s never been a better time for us to be able to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ.

My prayer is that the following words will embolden you and give you courage as you “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.”


1 Peter 3:15  – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Authorship

1 Peter 3:15 was written by the Apostle Peter and most likely addressed to Christians living in Rome (Babylon). There are, however, various arguments against the Petrine authorship of the letter, but none have been taken seriously by the Church. As a matter of fact, by “the end of the second century and beginning of the third century, the letter is explicitly identified as Peter’s.”[1]

General Context

The overall context of 1 Peter is one of persecution. In other words, Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were heavily burdened with “manifold temptations” and “trials” (1:6-7). Scholars differ on the exact date of the writing and to which time of persecution the letter was actually addressing, but persecution was evidently a common occurrence.

Immediate Context

The immediate context of verse 15 has it on the heels of an exhortation by Peter to live in such a way that shows love to the brethren (v. 8). Immediately following in verse 16, Peter writes that by living this way their “good conversation” will put to shame any false accusers or those who may speak evil of them. Therefore, the exhortation of verse 15 is part of an overall call to be witnesses to a hostile world who is watching and looking for any reason to find fault.

Words to Examine

There are several words within 1 Peter 3:15 that are worth examining in closer detail. By doing so, we will be able to obtain a richer and fuller understanding of the passage.

  • Sanctify. The word translated “sanctify” is the word hagiazō (ἁγιάζω), which means “to make holy …purify or consecrate; …venerate…sanctify.”[2]
  • Heart. The word translated “heart” is a word that could be understood to be the actual organ within the body that pumps blood, but kardia (Strong’s G2588) can also mean – and in this case does – the center of spiritual life.
  • Ready. Peter suggests that the Christian should “be ready always…” The idea here is that of being prepared for something. We read in Matthew 25:10 of those that were “ready” for the coming of the bridegroom. Their readiness involved preparation for a future event. When we attach the adverb “always” to “ready,” what we have then is a readiness that is always anticipating something that could happen at any time.
  • Give an answer. The Greek word translated “give an answer” is apologia (ἀπολογία), which is a verbal defense of something, or reasoned argument (G627). Paul used the same word in 1 Corinthians 9:2 when he said, “Mine answer (apologia) to them that do examine me is this…” The idea of the word has nothing to do with making an excuse for something, but to give a reason for it in defense of it.
  • Reason. The Greek word here is logos (G3056), which has to do with words, things said, ideas expressed, thoughts communicated. Jesus was called the Word (Logos) in John 1:1. He was described as the Wisdom of God expressed. The Bible is the Word of God, the inspired, written revelation by God of Himself to mankind.
  • Meekness. This word in Greek is praÿtēs (πραΰτης), which is defined as a mildness of disposition, or a sense of humility (G4240).
  • Fear. The Greek word translated “fear” is the word phobos (G5401), which carries with it the idea of dread, terror, or exceeding fear.

Expanded Translation

Taking into account the background and context of 1 Peter 3:15, including an examination of the words used in the text, the following expanded version of the verse would thereby seem appropriate:

1 Peter 3:15 KJV – But sanctify [set aside as holy and revered, set up higher than anything or anyone else] the Lord God in your hearts [your life, your essence, the seat of your emotions, your way of thinking]: and be ready always [make preparations beforehand; do the work in advance of the need; anticipate the issue and prepare accordingly] to give an answer [a well-though-out response, a reasoned reply, a logical defense] to every man that asketh you a reason [because some men want more than “I don’t knows”; they want to be convinced with language they can understand] of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear [because there are grave consequences for not being ready…1) the lost may remain in their lostness and reject Christ, and 2) the One who is Holy is judging your works].”

Conclusion and Application

As mentioned above, 1 Peter 3:15 was written to those who were enduring trials and tribulations, i.e., persecution. Today, even though we are not enduring the same kind of trials and tribulations, there are other more minor forms of persecution and tribulation we may encounter in the immediate future. Nevertheless, all trials and tribulations, regardless of the severity, should provide for us an opportunity to exhibit a “hope” that is in us and beg the reason why.

Therefore, as Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15), we should study as those who are to be examined, so when the time comes when we are asked to “give an account,” we will not be ashamed (1 Peter 3:16), but offer our actions AND our testimony as reasons for our faith.


[1] The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Thomas R. Schreiner. 2003, Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville. Page 22

[2] The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. (G37)

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Filed under Apologetics, Bible Study, writing

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Hope In Death

Let’s get right to the point –

Today, I watched a man die, and I’m happy.

At this point you’re thinking: “Who in his right mind would admit to being happy he saw a man die?” Well, without the proper context, only a sick man, that’s for sure!

But here’s the context: I was with a family from my church as a 51 year-old son, father, brother, and grandfather breathed his last breath, and I was able to rejoice with them in the hope of Jesus Christ.

Meeting Joey: the 1st Time

Joey and his dog, Willie

Several months ago, I was able to talk with Joey Armor for the first time. He was sitting on the tailgate of his truck, taking a break from welding. As we got to talking, he apologized for not coming to church more often, but he appreciated that I was the new pastor, and he hoped to become more regular. He also told me how sick he was.

Joey had battled with a lot of health issues over the last few years, and at that point he was not doing bad enough to keep him in bed. As a matter of fact, he was the type of person that not only avoided pain medication as long as possible; he never wanted to stop being active doing something, even if only a little welding here and there. The day I first talked with him, he was having a hard time breathing, but he was happy to be doing something he enjoyed.

Faith, Assurance, and Hope

The next few times I saw Joey Armor was in the hospital. It seemed that his body all of a sudden decided to give up, even though he was not willing to. The doctors had hope that he would recover, and for a little while it looked like he would, but it wasn’t long before things began to look dire.

The last few times I saw Brother Joey was when he was at home, a couple of times sitting in his recliner, a couple of times in his bed. On one occasion, I felt compelled to lead Joey through the plan of salvation. Because I had never seen him make a profession of faith, and since I could tell he was nervous about dying, I had to make sure he had an opportunity to accept Christ as his Savior.

Come to find out, Joey had indeed put his faith in Jesus, but he had come to the point where he was scared of what was to come. He had made some mistakes, not been perfect, and now he was facing death head-on. He needed to be reassured God did indeed love him and was faithful, as He always is, even when we are not.

Another time I took a communion kit, and with a deacon from our church I shared with him the elements and together rejoiced in the goodness of our Savior! We talked about Christ’s body and His blood, how each was given for us, and how by taking part in communion we proclaim his death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:24). Even though he could barely swallow anything (he even had a feeding tube inserted into his abdomen), he took the little piece of matzoh and the tiny cup of grape juice and consumed them both. It was a special moment, indeed.

Talking About Home

The last time I saw him before today, the Holy Spirit had placed in my heart the urgent desire to go talk with him about Heaven. Joey new he was going, and he knew it wouldn’t be that long. So, I wanted to go by and encourage him with the facts about the place he was about to see. He asked for his large-print Bible so he could read along with me.

First, I turned to John chapter fourteen:

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.” – John 14:1-3

These verses deserved a little amplification, and I knew Joey would appreciate it. I focused on the words “mansions” and “place.” Jesus wasn’t telling Peter he would have a four-story house of gold in Heaven; Jesus was telling him not to worry, for even though he’d mess up by soon denying Him, there was already a place in His Father’s house prepared – a room of his own! Compared to here, that room might be a mansion. But how much more wonderful is the promise that God wants us to live in HIS house with HIM forever??

And when it came to the word “place” (τόπος tópos), heaven is more than spirits floating on clouds; it is more than a feeling; it is more than being absorbed into the infinite: Jesus said it is a PLACE! I said, “Just like Chicago or Atlanta, Heaven is a place just like any place on a map down here. It is a place, and you are going there!” 

Next, I turned – we turned – to Revelation 21 and 22. There, within the verses of those chapters we read of a holy city, a heavenly city, that God has prepared for those whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Joey listen as I read, awake, but with his eyes closed, resting.

I said, “Well, Joey, I guess it’s about time we get out of here and let you rest.” He nodded.

Then, with weak voice and a slight smile, Joey said,

“I’m looking forward to seeing what my Father has for me.”

Today, around 12 p.m., my brother in Christ, Joey Armor, exhaled one last time, only to inhale for the very first time the celestial air of his new home.

I am glad his family was able to be there. I’m glad I got to see him off.

He’s seeing what his Father has prepared for him, and even more importantly, he’s hugging Jesus.

I’m happy for him!

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, Family, General Observations, Life/Death, salvation