Tag Archives: Ministry

Leaving a Middle-Georgia Pastorate

When in ministry, full-time or not, there are moments when we must move from one field to another. Sometimes it’s planned and orderly, while other times we find ourselves making that move unexpectedly, or at least sooner than we planned. However, the one encouraging truth for those who love God and are called according to His purpose is that “all things work together for good.”

It’s a Romans 8:28 day every day!

Regardless, moving from one place to another is never easy, especially when you’ve grown to love the people and the place where you’ve been serving. That’s the current situation facing my wife and me.

The Ups and Downs

For the last three years (three years and six weeks, to be exact), we have been living and ministering in Warthen, GA at Bethlehem Baptist Church. The last three years have been anything but normal, but I do believe that’s been part of what has endeared us to the area. It was so nice to experience a genuinely small-town atmosphere, especially during COVID.

But don’t misunderstand me, there are downsides to living and ministering in a small community. For one, having to drive an hour and a half to go to the hospital or to a doctor for anything other than a sniffle got a little old. My wife and I would schedule our appointments and shopping on the same day so that we wouldn’t have to make multiple trips . . . three hours on the road for one appointment was insanity.

Another downside is the simple fact that everyone in a small community either knows everyone else or they’re related in some way. This makes talking with someone in secret nearly impossible. And for the love of all that’s civil, NEVER say anything bad about somebody unless you want everyone to know.

But everyone knowing everyone is also a sweet and wholesome thing, too! Sure, the slightest misspoken word can bring all hades down on one’s head, but everyone being in everyone else’s business can also prove beneficial when times are hard. The willingness to help each other out of a jam is not something you find as often in larger communities.

A Special Breed

However, when it comes to pastoring a small church in a small community, it takes a special breed of person to succeed. Evidently, I’m not that kind of person.

Small churches in small, rural communities more often desire a pastor who:

  • assumes the role of fun uncle, wise grandfather, or ever-present brother-in-law who stops by unannounced to see what’s for dinner
  • is always soft-spoken and deliberate with his words, never blunt
  • charms the non-attending church members into returning
  • says the most comforting things at all funerals (yes, even for the heathen)
  • has a working understanding of all outdoor activities, including, but not limited to, hunting, fishing, trucks, factory work, grilling, the military life, chainsaws, and deep-frying turkeys
  • and rarely preaches Greek and Hebrew-free sermons that are longer than 25 minutes.

So, does that mean that I’m not called to the pastorate if I’m not like the gentle shepherd above? Heavens, no!

Granted, if I’m to be honest, being told more than once that I’m not the “best pastor” led to some depressing days. Honestly, it stung. I even found myself doing some self-re-evaluations.

The conclusion was that yes, I’m called; I’m just different.

My Calling

Official George S. Patton portrait

I sometimes think of the World War 2 generals like Eisenhower and Patton. If you know your history, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General George S. Patton were both super patriotic military geniuses, but their personalities couldn’t have been more different. One was a calm, calculated, diplomatic leader whose gifts and abilities led him to be selected as the Allied Supreme Commander during WWII. The other was a complicated, often eccentric, warrior who loathed cowardice and felt destined for glory on the field of battle.

I might be more of a Patton than an Eisenhower, just without the cursing and all the reincarnation beliefs. However, if there was any general with which I would aspire to be compared to, it would be General Robert E. Lee, a man of utmost loyalty and conviction who led an army of men willing to follow him into the mouth of hell itself. He was both a warrior AND a gentleman.

But I’m not called to be a general.

My calling is to preach and teach the Word of God without apology or intimidation. More than an itinerate evangelist, my calling extends to laying doctrinal foundations on which can be built the solid and grounded faiths which can withstand the strongest storms of life. So, this kind of teaching and preaching requires time with a congregation and cannot be achieved through one or two series of sermons.

I’m a Stirrer

What’s more, when I first arrived at Bethlehem Baptist, it wasn’t long before one of our deacons gave me the nickname of “Spoon”. . . because I had the tendency to “stir things up.” It wasn’t that I tried to cause problems or move too quickly; it was just my personality. As much as I believe in tradition, “the way things have always been” can be the enemy of souls and the waster of precious, irreplicable time.

When things are left to sit and settle for too long, the ingredients separate and lose their combined effectiveness. Sometimes stirring or shaking things up involves nothing more than reawakening the inherent abilities already present. Remember what Paul told Timothy?

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

2 Timothy 1:6

And let’s not forget the words of Peter.

Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance . . .
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance . . .

2 Peter 1:13; 3:1

Please don’t misunderstand me, I think it is important for every God-called pastor to show love and compassion to his flock by being there for them through the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of life. However, there is a reason that in Acts chapter 6 the infant Church in Jerusalem was instructed to select the first official deacons. I like the way it reads in the following translation.

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”

Acts 6:2-4 NLT

Note, the apostles had no problem “running a food program” in the beginning. It only became a problem when it began to take away from their primary responsibilities: prayer and teaching the Word.

How We’ll All Be Happy

Don’t expect me to show up to your home unannounced.

Don’t expect me to visit you in the hospital if I don’t know you’re there.

Don’t expect me to stalk you and show up uninvited to all your activities. Invite me and I will come!

I mean, seriously, do you REALLY want me showing up when you least expect it?

That’s a job for a deacon 😉

Therefore, give me a place where I can pray, study, teach and preach the inerrant, all-sufficient Word of God, or as the apostle Paul would say, “the whole gospel,” and I will have found my happy place.

And I think you’ll be happy with me, too.

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Perfection Not Required

Jesus Said…

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

The Perfect Candidate

Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting.  They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.

pharisee and publicanWhich one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.

But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new.  

Genesis of Dysfunction

A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?

Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Check this out…

  • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
  • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
  • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

And there’s more!

  • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
  • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

If God can use Abraham and his family – with all their problems – to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!


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Filed under Abortion, abuse, Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, legalism, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, World View

I Went to Pakistan (Part 6): The Power Point Video

Greetings and all that good stuff! This is the day that the Lord has made, so get happy!

Today (Thursday) at 9 a.m. (eastern), a video I made premiered on YouTube. The video is of a Power Point presentation, one that I delivered on Discord, but few had the chance to see.

This YouTube video contains me narrating the presentation, which also contains video of things in Pakistan.

One thing important to note, however, is that in one of the videos you will see a big bus nearly hit us head-on. We call them “killer busses,” because they don’t slow down for anything. Sadly, Victor Sammuel and his family were in an accident yesterday in volving one of these “killers.” It nearly killed them!

Only by the grace of God did Victor, Sophia, Jamal, and Zoe escape the accident without injury. The Toyota Camry they were driving, on the other hand, did not fare well. It will need to be replaced, and they don’t have insurance. If you can help toward this, let me know.

The bus never stopped, either.

Please, when you have the time, watch the PowerPoint presentation I made. I would love to hear your thoughts.

God bless!

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Filed under ministry, Pakistan

I Went to Pakistan (Part 2) “Knowing”

There are always going to be people who question your plans. Not even the Apostle Paul was immune from the naysaying that came not from enemies, but from his most trusted companions. That’s not saying I’m anything like Paul, but I can sympathize with him.

When I made known my desire to go to Pakistan, as I said before, not one single person within my circle of friends and family approved. No, it was more like, “Yeah, riiiight.” And when they were not laughingly questioning my sanity, they were outright warning me that I would probably be killed or kidnapped – then killed.

But like when Paul knew that it was God’s will for him to go to Jerusalem, even though everyone advised against it (Acts 21:12-14), I knew that it was God who was opening the door for me to make this trip.

But how did I know? This is a question that deserves discussing.

How was I so sure that God was leading me to visit Pakistan? How could I be sure that it wasn’t my own desires, my thirst for adventure, or some deep-seated need to prove myself? Granted, the adventure was compelling and there was certainly a need to prove something about myself, but I also wanted to “prove” God!

As a pastor, people look to me for spiritual guidance. They look to me for answers regarding the Bible and how one’s faith can be applicable to life. Yet, when the rubber meets the hot asphalt, most Christians forget from where I power comes. The average Christian keeps the battle-winning Captain of the Lord of Hosts relegated to the cute stories told in Sunday School and forgets that He is still the Conquering King. Therefore, it’s no wonder they were worried for me – they were forgetting Whom they served!

I’ve been forced to put my God to the test in the past, and He was faithful as He promised. I’ve also witnessed Him supernaturally deliver me from a would-be killer who had planned to put a bullet in my head (while I was delivering pizza in Hopkinsville, KY). And, honestly, it’s because of these things, and others, that I kind of felt like young David when he was questioned about going up against Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37).

Friends, do you serve the living God that delivered David from the lion, the bear, and Goliath? Do you serve the God who delivered His people out of Egypt? Do you serve the God who opens prison doors? Do you serve the Mighty God who told Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:9)”?

If you do – if you serve the God of David, Daniel, Moses, Joshua, etc. – then maybe you can understand the frustration and indignation I felt. If this trip was being orchestrated by the true and living God, then I believed without a doubt that He would take care of me.

But once again, was this trip put on my heart by God, or was I just seeking a thrill?

I guess the answer is simple to me, but unless you know what it’s like to walk with the Lord for a while it might sound crazy. What it amounts to is a legal term I learned when my youngest daughter competed in mock trial – “preponderance of evidence.” In other words, knowing the will of God for one’s life rarely comes down to one thing or another, but a combination of things, even a culmination of affirmations.

Consider the following points:

  • There was definitely a need in Pakistan
  • I have been supporting a ministry for years, even risking my own reputation
  • A plea was made for me to come
  • There was a clear and distinct objective my going would accomplish
  • There had been much prayer
  • My original feelings were a big “NO!”, but my heart became burdened over time
  • A sense of urgency existed
  • Not going would only serve to relieve me of danger, but the ministry abroad would only suffer
  • Now, more than ever before, my position and reputation could prove invaluable to others in need
  • People were willing to give generously when they knew I was actually going.
  • My going would have a direct impact on life and death circumstances involving hundreds of children.
  • I was never, ever, not once afraid or intimidated, nor did I doubt that God would provide the means to do everything that needed to be done.
  • I wanted people to see the God we serve is still the God of the Bible and Joshua 1:9 still applies!

It wasn’t one thing; it was multiple things! And on top of all that, when we seek to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, His desires become our desires.

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. – Psalm 37:4-5 KJV

But there’s one more thing. God could have stopped this trip many times. I even asked Him to stop me from moving forward with it if it was against His will. Yet, doors kept opening and I could do nothing less than walk forward till they closed.


Stay tuned! Next time I will address the actual objectives this trip to Pakistan was meant to accomplish.

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Filed under Countries, Faith, ministry, Witnessing

A Homemade Commercial for My Book

Look, I don’t have a couple of grand to spend on marketing. Yes, I know that the publisher can do things I can’t. But dang! I just can’t fork out that kind of money for some polished video and other bells and whistles.

However, given that I have an iPhone and a little creativity, nothing stopped me from making my OWN video! I know, it’s a lot longer than the kind the big marketing folk make, but who cares?

I can edit later, if needed, but I hope you like this version.

Sit back and enjoy the movie 😉

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You Can Do This! Change Your Church AND Your Community!

Look, I know it’s a bad time to ask you to buy anything, especially since, you know, inflation and all that.

However, I’d really love for you to get a copy of my new book in your hands. Believe me, you’ll find it very encouraging and helpful for you and your local congregation.

Don’t believe me? Read this comment:

A cool program for door-to-door community ministry in today’s mistrustful social environment. This is a complete step by step program that can be implemented by any small (or large) church. Street of the Week is not “in your face” or obnoxious. It leans on the power of praying specifically for the people on a given street and delivering fresh cookies!

T. Warner

Thank you for considering it, both for you, your pastor, and a friend 🙂

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Filed under book review, Witnessing, writing

I Can’t Change the Subtitle. It Stays.

Recently I shared with some close friends and others for which I have great respect the first example of a potential cover for my next book. I wanted input, but mainly on the layout, graphics, etc. However, a few of them took a slight issue with the subtitle: “Reinventing Door-to-Door Ministry for a Calloused Culture and a Cowardly Church.”

What did they say about it? Well, maybe what you are thinking, too. They advised I tone it down, if only a little, because a lot of church folk have “thin skin.” That’s a no brainer.

However, not to be obstinate, but if I change the title of a book that is designed to specifically address the actual cowardice running rampant in a large part of the Church, would I not be guilty of the same?

I just can’t change it. It has to stay.

But if it helps, let me share with you the short introduction to “You’re Our Street of the Week: Reinventing Door-to-Door Ministry for a Calloused Culture and a Cowardly Church.”


The Introduction

Thank you so much for either picking up a copy or downloading the digital version of this manual for developing a “Street of the Week” outreach ministry. It is a tremendous blessing to me that you have the desire to reach your community with the love and message of Jesus Christ!

            When you read the subtitle, did it shock you? You know, the part where I called the Church cowardly? I can sympathize. Honestly, it stung my spirit a little when I typed it for the first time. After all, we are the Church Triumphant marching toward Zion, and not even the gates of hell can stand against us! Yet, no scientific survey is needed to conclude that most professing Christians – even active church members – are terrified of knocking on a stranger’s door, even in their own community!

            But it’s not just the fearful saint; it’s the cynical and suspicious public that’s grown calloused to door-to-door visits. And it’s not just Christians they distrust; it’s every stranger who shows up uninvited and unannounced to their front door. There used to be a day in America when a person could make a living going door-to-door selling vacuum cleaners, brushes, encyclopedias, life insurance, and even Bibles! People were more trusting, more hospitable, and even naïve. Not today. No way!

            People have caught on and don’t want to be “sold” anything, especially from somebody who rudely interrupted their evening meal. On top of that, the average Christian is either too nice to bother anyone or too intimidated by the “don’t judge me” culture to openly share their faith.

            So, how are the instructions in this little book supposed to change anything? What in this book is going to re-vitalize an obsolete, antiquated, and polarizing church ministry which strikes fear into nearly every believer? Will the instructions within calm nerves, stop knees from quaking, and miraculously inject the courage of a lion into the participant’s heart?

            YES! I am bold enough to promise that YES, it will do just that! But there’s only one…and it’s a biggie…just one BIG requirement. Are you ready for it?


The draft is still with the editors, but it won’t be too long till it’s finished and available.

Stay tuned 🙂

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Filed under ministry, writing

Preaching for the EARLY Service in Pakistan

I hope every one is doing well on this sunny Wednesday afternoon in Georgia! I know some of you have snow and rain, but for now it’s in the high 40’s and bright and sunny where I am at.

I just wanted to take a moment to share some photos of what I did this past Sunday morning – I preached in Pakistan!

For those of you who don’t know, I do my best to help support a worthy ministry in Pakistan and my pastor friend, Victor Sammuel. I will tell you more in a future post.

Anyway, this past Sunday morning I was able to speak to Victor’s congregation during their morning worship service – at 1 a.m.! Talk about an “early service”!

And what is awesome is that I was asked to preach each Sunday morning the rest of this month!

But this is more than simply live-streaming our regular services at church. This is me speaking live to a group of Christians in a Muslim nation where persecution is common (even expected) and the average wage of a teacher in a Christian school is $60 a month (more about that later, too).

I would just encourage you to pray for me and for this congregation as I preach and teach God’s Word to a congregation who genuinely want to hear whatever I have to say.

And the topic they want to hear me speak on the most? The Rapture.

At 1 o’clock in the morning?

Praying for the congregation at the end of the sermon. The microphone is close to the phone.
Pastor Victor Sammuel interpreting.

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Countries, Preaching

Good News, Bad News


I Love to Write

Greetings, my friends. Maybe you’ve noticed, but my writing here on the blog has been becoming more and more infrequent. I hate it, but it was bound to happen.

Unfortunately, I love to write, and because I have not been writing much lately, my soul feels like a wet sponge that hasn’t been wrung in a long time – a little sour. Honestly, that’s the whole reason I am writing at this moment. I need to wring some stuff out. 

That just sounded gross. 

I Love to Paint

But there is something else in my life, not to mention watches, that has taken up my free time: it’s painting. Not only do I love to write, but I also love to create things on paper with paint. And when people find joy in what I paint, like when they comment on how something I’ve written helped them, I feel a sense of accomplishment that few other things offer.

I say all that because one of the reasons I’ve not been writing much is my painting. When I get focused on my art (and writing is similar), I forget about other things and time tends to get away from me. 

May be art of nature and tree

The Time Has Come

But speaking of time getting away, I’ve been putting off something for a long, long time, and it’s way past time to finish what I started.

For several years I have been chipping away at a doctoral degree. As a matter of fact, for the last 3 years, I have been so close to finishing it’s not even funny. But everything from surgery, moving a couple of times, deaths in the family, the daily work of ministry, two pastorates in four years, an empty nest, a mother with cancer, and not to mention all that had to be done to pastor a church through COVID-19… all of these things took precedent and my degree was placed on the back burner.

But now the time has come – I must finish my D.Min. requirements in order to graduate in July.

One reason the time has come is that the “time is up” for my mother. Hospice is now in charge of her health care and she has been given, at the most, 6 months to live. If the truth be known, she wasn’t expected to live this long with stage-4 pancreatic cancer. 

I want to get my doctorate while my mother is still alive to see it. I told her, “OK, Mom, you’ve got to live until July.” She said, “OK.” 

Because of this, I cannot guarantee that I’ll be around very much. Just think about me now and then when you haven’t heard from me and I’ll keep you updated on the progress – and my mother.

God bless, 
Anthony

P.S. I would always love it if you’d buy a painting or a print 🙂 Look me up at @AnthonyCBakerArt on Facebook!

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Speak With Authority, or Sit Down

It’s early on a Sunday morning, 15 minutes before 7 a.m., to be exact. I’m sitting here at the dining room table with my Bible and my laptop (graciously provided to me by our church), contemplating the Scripture I am going to be sharing a few hours from now.

What I am about to say is not for everyone, for not everyone has been given the responsibility to lead. Nevertheless, though not all of us will have the opportunity and calling to shepherd a congregation of believers, each and every one of us will at some point be responsible for communicating truth to those for whom we are one day going to give an account.

The verse from this morning’s text that has captured my attention is Titus 2:15.

“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

That was the King James Version rendering. Now, let’s read the text as translated in another version.

You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.

Titus 2:15 NLT

What I think we as pastors need to remember is that what we have to say needs to be taken seriously. If, however, we stand before our flocks as shepherds with no staff, not only are we “despised,” but so is the Word we are called to teach.

Those who know me the best know that I am a nice guy. Seriously, I hate confrontation so much that I will go to great lengths to avoid it. I want to be liked, even to a fault.

But when it comes to preaching and pastoring, we must take very seriously Paul’s admonition to Titus. As Paul left Titus in Crete to “set in order the things that are wanting,” so has God ordained us to set and keep things in order(1:5), speak those things which become sound doctrine (2:1), and remind believers of their obligations and responsibilities as representatives of God’s grace (3:1).

The problem we in leadership face is how to demand attention, to “let no one despise” us, without coming across as authoritarians or tyrants. Is a pastor to be a bully in the pulpit? Is he supposed to lord his authority over the sheep and force them to lie down in green pasture? Some think so.

However, it is Jesus who exemplified for us the model of servant leadership which draws attention. It is this same kind of example the apostles left us when we read of their boldness after Pentecost.

Our authority comes from the Word of God. Our boldness comes from the Holy Spirit. We are equally accountable as both heralds and subjects.

If we find ourselves timid, skiddish, reluctant, or intimidated behind the pulpit, we must ask ourselves some very point-blank questions. Who are we trying to please, God or man? Why are we called to be heralds? Just to be heard, or to proclaim the Message of the King?

Should we actually “speak the things that become sound doctrine,” then we are accountable to God for what we say, for we are to speak what He is saying. If we are tasked with heralding the Word, then God will hold us accountable for getting the message out to those who need to hear.

If we cower or hesitate in our duty, then we either doubt the authority of the Word, or we proclaim it in the power of our own strength. There is no excuse for the pastor, the shepherd, the man of God to stand behind the pulpit or on the neon-lit stage and waste time offering suggestions and scratching itching ears when we are plainly told, “These things speak…”

“Let no man despise thee” tells us there is a responsibility incumbent upon the preacher.

Therefore, unless you are going to mount the pulpit this morning with authority as one tasked with an urgent message from the King of the universe. . . unless you are going to “be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might” (Ephesian 6:10). . .

Sit down.

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Preaching