Tag Archives: legalist

Block Party 2012

What is Evangelism?

I know a whole lot of Christians who would disagree with what we did at Riverside Baptist, today. They would say, “You never preached, handed out a tract, or sang a gospel song. You call this outreach?

Why, yes I do.

You see, there are many in the Church who think that there is only one way to evangelize the lost and reach the back-slidden. They would never even consider having  an event where no one preached, handed out literature, or did a mock hell pit with straw-men torches. They would consider our event a failure.

But what is evangelism? Is there only one way of reaching people with the gospel? Is there only one way to show people you care about them?

An Old Adage

Painting faces.

I believe it was Zig Ziglar who said, “People will never care what you know until they know how much you care.” That is the absolute truth, too. And that was the mission of our block party.

There are so many who are not in church simply because they feel unloved and unwanted. They think that all Christians want to do is take up offerings and sing old hymns. The last thing they ever think is that we are real people who really care about their lives. If they could only know that we care, they might want to hear what we believe.


As pastor of Riverside, I gave instructions to all who were to participate at this event. I did my best to make it perfectly clear what was expected of each of us.

  • Kids in a fire engine.

    First, this was not to be a church service. We invited people to a party, not communion.

  • Secondly, everything was to be free. No asking for donations. No admission. No charge for “stuff” that was done.
  • Next, it didn’t matter who showed up, they were to be talked to and befriended. I asked all of my congregation to show up, if for no other reason than to just sit and talk. People like to sit and talk about their lives to somebody who actually listens – and cares.
  • Have fun without any expectations.

This event was to be a seed-planting event. It was to be a time to let the community know that we are here. It was to be a time to let the Holy Spirit work through us in the way that we cared.

The Results

Eating inside where it was cool.

My legalistic friends (do I have any legalistic friends?) might like to ask me how things turned out. I am sure they would want to know how many got saved. I am sure that they would love to ask me at what point I stood up and shared the gospel with all the visitors. I am sure that they would love to point out that this event was a failure, since there was not one conversion.

I would totally disagree.

Our little church had scores of people show up today. Many of them did not attend any church. How do I know that? Because they told me so. They filled out cards in order to register for genuinely nice door prizes.

I got to talk with one young mother who wanted to go to church, but thought people would make fun of her tattoos.

I spoke with a young mother of four who wanted to go to church, but felt that her life was too messed up. Oh, really? I told her we would love to have her. I told her about how God’s grace and forgiveness was there for her.

The Expectations

What do I expect? I expect to see visitors at church in the morning. I expect our members to come to church tired, but with a feeling of hope. I expect people to show up that didn’t even come to the block party (because that’s how God works).

Smiling coming and going.

I expect kids on my bus to mention to their families that their bus driver is a preacher, but he is cool.

I expect people who never talked about this little church to talk about this little church and say, “Hey, those people are really nice. Why don’t we go hear that guy preach?”

I expect more things to come.


Filed under baptist, Food, legalism, salvation, Witnessing

A Little Time Off

Change of Plans

I was in the process of writing a post for today, a post dealing with the U.S national holiday, Labor Day. But then I got a phone call, and plans changed.

Not long ago I received a phone call from my cousin. He told me that my uncle, my father’s brother, had passed away. This was a terrible blow.

So, if you, my readers, wouldn’t mind, I would like to step away from The Recovering Legalist for a little while. I will still work on preparing posts for ProverbialThought.com, however, being that it is a daily devotional.

William (Don) Baker

Most of you may have never met my uncle Don, but you would have liked him. He was a very gentle, Jesus-loving man. But this wasn’t always the case. Just like my dad was before his conversion, my uncle was a tough-as-nails, hard-living, straight-shooting outdoorsman with a proud moonshine-running past. He was a man without fear, considering at one point he kept in his living room nearly 200 deadly snakes (Rattle Snakes, Copperheads, etc.).

My father, Terry Baker, was my uncle’s younger brother. Terry became a believer in the 1960’s, and then accepted the calling to preach. He always prayed for Don and invited him to church, but to my knowledge only went with him one or two times. My dad never gave up on my uncle.

Then, just a few years ago, the man who wouldn’t have anything to do with God or church found himself at death’s door. Beside a hospital bed he gave his heart and life to Jesus, and the change in that old sinner’s life was dramatic.

The Mission Field

My uncle lived on a hill just above the Tennessee River in an area called Suck Creek. Our family had lived there for several generations. And it was there on the river that my uncle spent most of his time fishing and conversing with not only the Lord, but anyone who passed by.

The river was his “mission field.” He told me how that once his health declined to the point he couldn’t get around, about all he could do was ride his 4-wheeler down to the river bank. There he would sit and fish, feed the ducks, and witness miracles.

On more than one occasion, as he told me, he would be sitting there fishing when a total stranger would walk up to him. Many times the people would be feeling hopeless, considering divorce, or even suicide. Without having to go anywhere he would tell these people about how God changed his heart and gave him a love he never knew existed. He would tell them how Jesus loved them and could give them the same kind of peace he experienced. And in one case, even the town drunk came by – and got saved.

Shouting Down the Roof

One thing my uncle Don told me a couple of years ago was this: “The thing I regret most is that I didn’t get saved earlier…I could have heard Terry preach, and we could have shouted the roof down together.

I sent my uncle cd’s of my preaching and singing. I know that he listened to me when I preached on the radio. But I know that it wasn’t the same. I am not my dad.

Joy Comes in the Morning

But all is not lost. Because of the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ we have Hope.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. … That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Rom 5:1-2, 21 KJV

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 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.” – 1Cr 15:51-57 KJV

I am looking forward to the funeral service this week. I don’t look forward to it because I have lost a loved one, but because of the hope we will all share. It will be a time to be reminded that this life is short and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. But it will also be a reminder that when the dark night is over, along with all the pain, “joy comes in the morning.”


Filed under Future, Preaching, Relationships and Family, Theology, Uncategorized, worship

Evil Pants

The Old Days

Do you remember the old days? No, I’m not talking about when there were only three channels on TV, or when telephones were anything but mobile. I am not even talking about the old days when cartoons were reserved for Saturday morning, providing a distinct break between school day and weekend. I’m talking about…

when it was forbidden for women to wear pants.

What? You don’t remember those days? Well I certainly do! I remember them very well. I even remember culottes (which is a memory I try to drown with anything short of alcohol – because I don’t want to die and go to H.E. Double Hockey Sticks).

Must be Liberal

I remember the old days when one could easily determine who was spiritual, and who wasn’t. There use to be a day when a godly man could look at a woman (without lusting, of course) and know right off the bat if she was a God-fearing, fundamentalist catch. Now it’s getting hard to judge by appearances.

Once, when our pastor gave us the freedom to visit another church (it was a special occasion – we were visiting family), we went to what we thought was a very conservative Independent Baptist church. I was only a young boy at the time, but I can still remember the words my daddy said as we looked down from the balcony, “Evidently, this church has gone liberal…look there…isn’t that sad?…the pastor’s wife is wearing pants.”

The Uniform

Seriously, I am a firm believer in modesty. And if it is your honest, heart-felt, full-of-faith conviction that a woman should only wear dresses, then hallelujah! However, I am not going to make my little girl wear a dress as she learns how to kick the you-know-what out of the first boy who tries to touch her.

How many black belts (or sashes) have you ever seen wearing a dress instead of a traditional uniform? I’ve never seen one. Oh well. I guess that may pose a problem for some that are still living in the old days.

But on a different note, a Wing Chun uniform isn’t exactly a white shirt and polyester pants, either. So, you guys (especially the one in the video with the long hair) might ought to consider what you are wearing (insert winking smiley face, which is meant to inform the reader that the last comment was in fun).

Haley Get’s Her First Promotion

Click here to find out more about Dojo Chattanooga and Trevor Haines.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Do not judge, fitness, General Observations, Humor, legalism, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized

Rude Witnessing

Just the other day I read a story about a preacher who got arrested. The reason was not what you probably think. He was not guilty of beating his daughter. He was not found possessing child pornography. No, the only thing he was guilty of was preaching – at a July 4th festival.

Is there anything wrong with preaching at a public festival? No, not really. Here in America our freedom of speech is still protected by the Constitution (for now). Then what was it that got this preacher into trouble? Well, I will get to that in a second, but first…

I have the utmost respect for anyone who can stand on a street corner and preach to a hostile crowd. I have stood on a street in eastern Europe and handed out Bibles, but I didn’t preach. Seeing soldiers with AK-47’s watching me was enough to keep my English to myself. So, don’t get me wrong, if you want to be another Ray Comfort, have at it. God bless you!

The thing that got the festival-crashing preacher in trouble was not the fact that he was preaching in a public place, it was because he was being rude. Yes, I said it. He was being rude.

Justifying Rude Behavior

There are some people in the Christian world who think making people angry is doing God’s work. Some Christians are convinced that they are fulfilling the Great Commission by crashing public events and barking out, “Repent! Repent!” In reality, many just come off as being inconsiderate, impolite, and obnoxious.

In defense of their actions, many street preachers and their followers (but not all) have suggested the following points:

  • “The Gospel is more important than ______.” (whatever is going on that is being interrupted, such as music, fireworks, etc.)
  • “We’re here to get sinners saved, not to make friends.”
  • “100 years from now the crowd will forget [the event], but they will be happy they heard the Gospel.”
  • “The Gospel (and Bible in general) is supposed to offend. Jesus said, ‘They hated me, so they’ll hate you.’ Jesus never held back when He talked to the Pharisees, did He?”

In response, let me share…

A Few Thoughts

First. In Mark 16:15 Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” But in Romans 12:18 we are told, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Even though we are commanded to preach the gospel, we’re not commanded to stir up strife.

Second. Paul told the Romans, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (14:19).” Maybe that’s because Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek (Matt. 5:5),” and “Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt. 5:9).”

Third. Even though Jesus never pulled any punches with the Pharisees, it is never recorded where He went to a Pharisee picnic with a bull horn blasting out “Repent, you serpent-breathed, white-washed tombs!” As a matter of fact, as best I can tell, it was the Pharisees who came to Jesus in order to stir up trouble, not the other way around (Matt. 3:7; 15:1; 16:1; 19:3). It should even be noted that all the words Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23 were spoken in the temple (Matt. 21:23), not on the street.

A Matter of Manners

Folks, it’s really a matter of decency, respect, and good manners. Emily Post said, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.” A Christian should be the most mannerly person in the world! Jesus was never rude or obnoxious, so why should we?

The preacher that got arrested went where people had probably already “staked out” a good place to watch the fireworks display. One person told me, however, “He had the right to speak, and they had the right not to listen…they could have moved.” But really, what kind of message was that sending? Remember, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care (paraphrasing Zig Ziglar).

The English novelist and war correspondent Maurice Baring is quoted as saying, “Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.” That should be a lesson to us. It doesn’t matter how great the message or how right the cause, rudeness is the great negator.


Filed under Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, Uncategorized, Witnessing

Interim Post

Stand In

You know what an “interim” is, don’t you? He is the “stand in guy” that fills the gap between somebody who’s been fired, and somebody a group of people actually want. It’s a very under-appreciated position.

Well, this is an interim post. It is a post meant to keep my readership amused and engaged while I frantically think of something more important; something worth reading; something you want.

Next Post

The next post I am going to submit is going to be a little diddy about a school named Liberty University and a Mormon named Romney. I wanted to write something the day Mitt Romney spoke at Liberty’s commencement, but I held off. I’m glad I did.

The Meantime

I the meantime, I have a question. What do you think of the look of The Recovering Legalist? Do you think it needs any changes? Should it stay the same? I am beginning to wonder.

If you are a blogger on WordPress, maybe you could suggest a new theme. Or, maybe you could suggest how to tweak this one. Either way, let me know your thoughts. I want my blog to be inviting and easy to read.

One more thing…

Do you have any suggestions for Monday Monkey? We are coming up on our 25th episode pretty soon. I still have some ideas up my sleeve, but suggestions would be welcome.

I tell you what, if I use your suggestion for an upcoming episode, I’ll send you an autographed picture (made on my laser printer, but signed with a genuine Sharpie)!


Filed under General Observations, the future

You’re Never Too Old

For New Tricks?

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Why is that? Does a dog’s brain quit working when he quits chasing squirrels? Our last dog was 18 years old when he died. I bet when he was fifteen he could have still learned something. He just didn’t want to.

And besides that, how many new tricks can a dog learn, anyway? Once he has fetching, rolling over, sitting, and flushing his own toilet mastered, what else is there? Maybe old dogs come to the point where they figure learning more tricks won’t get them any more food, so why bother?

For Amusement Parks?

Yes. Definitely, yes! Face it, feel as young as you like, but if you’re pushing 50, riding the Screaming Dropa-Whirla-Shaker will kill you! Let the teenagers eat their hot dogs and ice cream and go up and down, round and round, and loopty-loop. You still have to drive.

So, if you regularly watch the evening news, drive a mini-van, remember when television stations went off the air at night, or prayed in school, stay away from any ride that comes equipped with barf bags (see picture).

For Love?

Are you kidding? Love happens at all ages. There’s hope for everyone, no matter how old, wrinkly, or toothless. You can even be as ugly as a warthog and still find love. Of course, it helps if you have at least one of the following: a little of self confidence, or a lot of money. No problem.

For Blogging?

Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, let me introduce you to Rev. Ken Welford. He is the latest contributor to my other blog, Proverbial Thought. He just made his first post, and he is in his 80’s!

Ken, currently ministering in the UK, was a Baptist pastor (retired) from 1956-1978. He also did work for The Far Eastern Broadcasting Association in places like Papua New Guinea, India, and Singapore. Now, he’s in the blogosphere reaching everywhere! You go, Ken!

For Faith?

Never! Abraham was 75-years-young when he left his homeland to follow the leading of God (Gen. 12:4). Moses was 80 when he did a face-off with Pharaoh (Ex. 7:7). Even late in life, they believed the Lord and trusted his guiding hand. What’s our excuse?

Don’t leave ministry to the young. Don’t think getting older means retiring from your faith. Take a cue from Caleb: at 85 he still had a mountain to conquer (Josh. 14:10). A few aches and pains wasn’t keeping him from his reward!

Any more Calebs out there? You’re never too old, you know.

What else are you never too old for?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, God, self-worth

It’s Only a Steeple. Really?

A Steeple

If there is one bit of architecture that characterizes a Christian church, it is the steeple. Compared to the one at Woodland Park Baptist, Chattanooga, TN, ours is a fiberglass toothpick.

The first time I saw their steeple it took my breath away. A friend of mine and I were driving down the road, then all of a sudden there it was, just piercing the sky like a spear. Actually, it was sorta scary, sorta intimidating.

When my girls and I were out today, I drove them by the church to see this hazard to low-flying aircraft. They were equally impressed. Even though this portion of the church building is still under construction, the grounds are not finished, but who cares when you’re looking up?

Only a Steeple. Really?

One needs to remember, though, that a church a steeple does not make. The true Church is not even a building, but the body of Christ made up of believers in Jesus. We don’t worship steeples, or buildings, or people who build them. They are only things. The Church doesn’t need a steeple to be a church, nor does it need a steeple to point toward the risen Savior of the World. Steeples are just nice.

But as we drove away, today, I had a conspiratorial thought. What if what Woodland Park has built is not just a steeple, but something far different?

What could it be?

  • A camouflaged intercontinental missile developed in conjunction with the former George W. Bush administration?
  • A tower in which to house Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, and all other left-wing media once Santorum is elected President?
  • A secret Holy Spirit antennae which allows Dr. Wayne Barber to receive knowledge unavailable to the common Christian?
  • A high-frequency radio signal tower that is sending out subliminal messages, making Independent Baptists join the Southern Baptist Convention?
  • A “Rapture Rocket.” In the even that the rapture skeptics are correct in their eschatology, select Woodland Park members, such as those who publish their own Bible studies, will leave Earth for the third heaven?

You just never know, do you?


Filed under baptist, General Observations, Humor, Southern Baptist

Pre-Weekend Update

I really envy those who can find the time to write every single day on their blogs. You don’t know how much I have longed to sit down to my faithful keyboard and empty my knowledge-filled brain (well, not all my brain). At this point I am not even typing on a keyboard, just my iPhone.

Tonight, I will write more. My computer will be back up and operational, so that will help. For now, because I have to pay for said computer, I must head off to drive the famous school bus. If you read this in time, pray – it is a Friday.

Stay Tuned!

As a teaser, be looking for a story dealing with animals in Romania – animals that leap from the trees and kill you if you don’t make the right sounds. I’ve been wanting to share this “true-life” story for a while.

If you haven’t done so already, SUBSCRIBE! You will be notified each time I write an article or post a video of Monday Monkey. Cool, huh?

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Filed under General Observations, Monday Monkey, the future

Thanks to You, a New Milestone is Reached!


Unless you know what that number is in reference to, it won’t mean much to you. It means a lot to me.

In August of 2009 I started The Recovering Legalist. I didn’t know much about blogging or writing quality articles, and I still don’t. All I wanted was an outlet for my thoughts, and an opportunity to meet other people who shared them. It has become much more.

Now, I am pleased to say, I have friends all over the world who share my thoughts, or at least give me a piece of theirs on occasion. In a simple, but miraculous way this blog has even been used to minister to hurting people, even witness to the lost, in countries I will probably never see.

But getting back to the numbers, from January 2010 until now, there was a 717% increase in views! As of today, just a few minutes before this writing, I had 10,001 views! Praise the Lord!

Of course, I know that there are plenty of other bloggers out there who can boast of dramatically larger numbers. That’s OK. Some of them are my friends. But you know, 10,000 isn’t bad when you consider that 8,777 of them came in the last year, and it’s not over, yet.

Here’s to a bigger and better 2012 – for the Glory of God!


Filed under General Observations