Tag Archives: Music

Mirror Image in a New Age

It Was the 90’s

rockers
Mirror Image on the rocks in the creek behind my grandparent’s house on the mountain in Soddy Daisy, TN

It’s the dream of many young people to have a garage band. A few of them actually put a band together that can crank, get in gear, and drive out of the garage.

Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s my sister and I had a band called “Mirror Image.” We came on to the scene at a time when musical styles were in the process of changing and popular Christian music was still trying to find itself. Stylistically, we were either too early, or too late.

Nevertheless, our final incarnation, consisting of my sister, Rebecca (keyboard & vocals), Steve Castlen (drums), Jody Gould (guitar), and myself (bass), was a locally popular band that, at least, made a small impact on eternity. Our music was original (either written by Rebecca, me, or the group), fun, and intended to reach a younger generation with the gospel of Christ.

As a result, more than a few young people came to know Jesus as their Savior! I can remember one concert in Dayton, TN, where 7 or 8 youth accepted Christ! 

A New Year

It’s now 2021 (Hallelujah!), Mirror Image is no more, and all of the band members have gone on to other things. Rebecca has been living in Germany for the last 10 years and is married to a German citizen, Carlos (I gladly call him my brother-in-law). Fortunately for all of us, she has been here with us in the States for the last couple of months visiting because of our mother’s health. 

I’m not too sure what all the rest of the guys are doing these days. I do know they are all well, married, and still doing music in some way or another. It’s been a long-time dream of mine to get everybody back together (including our first band members, like our first lead-guitarist Alex Quarles) for a reunion concert. But, as you can imagine, it’s not been easy or practical. 

However, since Rebecca has been back, before she returns to Germany in a week or so, we are going to partially fulfill my dream of a reunion concert! This coming Sunday morning we are going to perform at the church where I’m the pastor (Bethlehem Baptist, Warthen, GA)! Yes, it will be a reunion concert (if only with half the band)!

If you can’t be there, I hope you can watch it on Facebook Live.

An Old Song

One thing that has changed since the 1990s is our age – we aren’t the young and energetic 20-somethings we used to be. Therefore, not only our health but our tastes in music have changed a little and matured. Therefore, the songs that Rebecca and I will be playing will sound a little different than they did 25 years ago, especially since it will be performed on only the piano and bass, with an acoustic guitar thrown in on a few.

But to give you an idea of what we sounded like back in the day, I’ve included below a recording (made during a practice session in a Sunday School room). It’s a song I wrote called “New Age.” 

“New Age” talks about how many religions and cults point toward a coming day when the world will enter a “new age” of peace, understanding, and oneness. The only problem is that those who dogmatically worship one God must be “taken out” of the world, one way or another.

The New Age, the Paradigm Shift, the new age of human evolution: none of it can come to pass as long as Christians are still in the world. Ironically, Christians believe the same thing. 

We refer to it as “the Rapture.”

“New Age”

click here to listen

(Written by Anthony Baker; Performed by Mirror Image)

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Filed under Christian Maturity, ministry, music

“In the End”

Music

I love good music, especially live music played by the ones singing their own songs. As a matter of fact, as a musician, I respect those who get up on stage and perform, regardless their style. At least they’re not singing to tracks.

Therefore (full disclosure), when I am riding in my car on long trips (anything over an hour) I tend to scan the channels for anything to keep me awake. For the most part, when I listen to the radio or music from Pandora or other sources it’s usually Christian music or talk radio. But sometimes talk radio can put me to sleep, so that’s when I turn to the “worldly music.”

Sheryl Crow

Last night, as I was driving home late from dinner I had with a fellow pastor, I decided to listen to some 1980’s rock on Pandora. That’s when a song I’d never heard before started cranking out a catchy, enticing rhythm. It was a song by Sheryl Crow called “In the End.” Did she do that song in the 80s?

Anyway, Sheryl Crow is an accomplished songwriter as much as she’s ever been a singer. I like her voice and music style, so when when all of that talent comes together the sum is usually something entertaining. This song, “In the End,” is a prime example.

The Jesus Part

So, I started tapping my left foot as I began keeping time with my fingers on the steering wheel. Because “all I want to do” is stay awake, I didn’t really bother paying close attention to the lyrics.

But then the lyrics of the second verse of Sheryl Crow’s song spurred my attention.

There’s a man on the cross with His arms open wide
And a tear that can quench the world’s fire
But His name is a shield to the ones who would wield
Their own power and greed and desire

Sheryl Crow

She didn’t call Him out by name, but I do believe she was referencing Jesus. And on top of that, she was singing about those who use the name of Jesus to become rich and powerful. In other words, she was singing to the ministers who would take advantage of the “believers,” a common theme and stereotype promoted by the left.

A Shield?

Notice that Crow said the name of Jesus is a “shield” for those who want to use Jesus to get what they want. It’s nothing new, either. Remember Simon Magnus from the book of Acts? He actually wanted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit in order to use God’s power to make a profit.

Have you ever heard it said, “Jesus I like, but I can’t stand his followers”? That’s kinda the idea.

But false prophets, millionaire ministers, and greedy pastors are not the only ones who hide behind a “shield,” a banner, a motif, or an ideal to fleece the sheep. Ever noticed that the most broken, crime-ridden, blood-splattered, poverty-stricken cities have been run by Democrats?

Have you ever noticed that the very same people who have been in charge for so long continue to say they are the ones needed to fix things? Why is there still poverty in black communities? Why is our national debt practically untenable, yet they say we are not spending enough on infrastructure, education, and abortion clinics?

Why is it that every Democrat politician leaves office richer than when they were elected, and by far more than the accumulated wealth from their salaries? To be fair, I could ask the same for the Republicans, too!

In the beginning of Crow’s song she is clearly referring to politicians and their “believers” who blindly accept every promise. The second verse shines light on the greedy preacher or televangelist. Both will eventually get what’s coming to them… in the end.

But what of those who year after year, decade after decade, hide behind the “shield” of the disenfranchised, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, etc., etc., etc.? It’s so easy to label those behind the pulpit, but what about the podium?

In the End,” who are the ones always telling their followers exactly what they want to hear, yet never delivering? Who are the ones hiding behind the “shields” of race, gender, equality, tolerance, benefits, and handouts while accumulating more and more power over those for whom they promise to wipe their tears?

I don’t believe in Karma, but it could explain the increased rat population.

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Filed under General Observations, Jesus, music

I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Spice Girls

Do you remember the Spice Girls? Here today, gone tomorrow girl band from the U.K.? They were the ones who recorded the catchy and famous pop song “Wannabe” (I’ll spare you the video).

What was the catchiest part of the whole song? The part that goes:

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

As a matter of fact, just for fun, here’s a link from the movie Chicken Little. The pig and chicken characters do a pretty good cover.

Honestly, I’m not totally clear as to what the Spice Girls wanted. I wouldn’t know a “zigga” from zagga. On the other hand, I bet what they wanted was not what poor Job (in the Bible) wanted, but we’ll get to him in a minute.

Heaven

Have you ever thought about what you would want to see most in Heaven? Assuming Heaven will be your home after this life (don’t assume – eternity is too long for a mistake of that nature), what would you want to see first? Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

Do you look forward to walking on a street of pure gold? Are you excited about seeing things that can hardly be imagined, much less described? What about gates of pearl? An emerald sea? Do you really, really want to meet all the saints of old, including relatives who have gone on before. Angels? A mansion?

Job

Do you remember Job? He was the guy in the Bible (with the book named after him) that lost everything he owned, including his wealth, family, and health. He even lost his friends, especially if you consider all they did was accuse him of wrongdoing.

Job wound up in such a state that his own wife even begged him to just curse God and die (Job 2:9). Job was a miserable wreck of a man who had every reason to want to go to Heaven. Yet, what Job really, really wanted to see first was not golden, bejeweled, or even a thing…He wanted to see God.

Remember, what you want tells a lot about your heart. Instead of wanting to exchange his suffering for a new body; his poverty for wealth; his loneliness for a reunion with loved ones, all Job wanted was to see God with his own eyes, in his own flesh. This was his hope and desire all wrapped up in one.

For I know [that] my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this [I know], That in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. [How] my heart yearns within me! – Job 19:25-27 NKJV

What we fail to think about is that when we see God, all the other joys of Heaven will have to seem secondary! God, the highest of all that is good and lovely, the depth of Whose attributes can never be plumbed, will one day look into our eyes in a moment of total realization, understanding, and belonging. What else could compare? Sure, there will be other things in Heaven, but who will care if it takes a million years to get around to some of them?

Tell me what you want. What do you really, really want.

Do you want Heaven, or Him? There is a difference.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Future, God, salvation, the future, Uncategorized, worship

If I Were a Mother

Please enjoy this repeat from 2018. My grandmother is now in heaven.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! Especially to all of you who are mothers in one way or another.

I mean, not everyone has literally given birth; some mothers are adopted 😉

Nevertheless, I would like to say that I wish my mother and my grandmother a very happy day!


I wanted to write something a little different this year, even though I will still include the annual “Mother’s Day Song” at the end.

If I were a mother – and no amount of sex changes will ever make that happen – and, no, I’m not having a sex change – what kind of mother would I be? How would things be different?

1) Laundry

If I were a mother, I would make all my kids do their own laundry, and I wouldn’t care what color everything turned out in the end. I mean, if the kids want to have clean clothes, they wouldn’t need to come whining to me when they are the ones who get them all dirty and store them under the bed.

If I were a mother and a wife, however, my husband would always have clean, pressed laundry ready and placed out for the next work day. I would get up early before my husband – about 4 a.m. – and make sure his wardrobe for the day was place where he could find it, each part in the order in which it was to be put on.

Also, if I were a mother and wife of such a good man as the one I would marry, I would encourage him to toss his underwear and socks anywhere in the bedroom. I wouldn’t play games on my iPhone or computer, so this would allow me a little challenge each day. Yay!

2) Driving. Chauffeuring, etc.

If I were a mother, I would expect my husband to provide me with the best vehicle he could afford. What he drives would not concern me, but if I’m gonna be doing all the running around – if that’s what I do – then I’d better be in a nice Toyota Sienna Limited mini-van.

Now, with regard to the kids and all their spur-of-the-moment appointments, play dates, ball games, competitions, and whatever, I would expect some form of compensation – if they can’t drive, then they must pay. Where will they get the money? Heck, my girls went door-to-door selling dandelions and other assorted weeds, so any kid can earn money.

If my husband was tired, however, I would always let him lean back in the heated leather seat, or under his personally-selected temperature setting (hot or cold), and rest while I drive.

3) Cooking.

If I were a mother, I would make sure every meal was prepared from the freshest produce and hand-selected meats, daily procured from the local market. I would never serve the same recipe twice, except when requested.

As a wife, I would always make my husband’s favorite foods, even if the rest of the family ate something different. He would always have something at the table he is guaranteed to love, even if the children hate what I make.

Also, I would search the internet on a regular basis to come up with the most unique recipes for church socials – I must make all the husbands jealous of my husband, you know.

4) Giving Birth.

If I were a mother, I would make becoming a mother something enjoyable. I would never curse at my husband while I was in labor, either. I would never blame him for my pregnancy and accept all the blame myself. I would also ask my husband’s opinion on breathing, pushing, taking selfies.

If I were a mother I would hold all my children responsible for any and all pain and discomfort they inflicted on me.

But, I’m NOT a mother…

…or a woman, or a wife…not even the Caitlyn Jenner kind.

So, I can’t even imagine what life would be like without the wonderful mothers in my life, especially my wife who’s truly a gift from God.

I’m glad I’m a man, and a dad, and a husband… because being a mother would be more than I could handle – and the kids would probably die of disease and starvation.

Now, as Promised…

The Mother’s Day Song 

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Filed under Marriage, Parenting, Relationships and Family

Vlogging About Blake’s Song

So, what are you REALLY saying, Blake?

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Filed under General Observations, Life/Death, music

Four Simple Tips for Watching Church Online

Hey everybody! Unless you attend drive-in church services, the only alternative is attending worship online. And if that’s what you do, here are four (4) quick tips for making the experience a better one.

1) Let your presence be known! Say hello, or something. If you like something said, do a “like” or “love” thing. Emoji’s are the new “amen!”

2) Try to act like you are actually in church. In other words, try to take this time seriously, because it is. But don’t get me wrong, you can still wear your pajamas and chomp on your Fruit Loops, but don’t get too distracted or else you might miss a word from the Lord for you.

3) Participate as if you’re really there. Worship in such a way that gives God the honor He is due. Don’t worship less at home than you would in front of other people in a fancy building.

4) Pray for those ministering; it’s not easy singing and preaching to a lifeless camera.

And since we’re talking about online church, below are links to the Facebook Live videos I made today.

The first video is from this Sunday morning. It starts off with my mother and me playing some music. Afterwards, my wife and mother and me sing a praise song. Then, as I explain in the video, my mother does something very rare – she sings the melody of a song (I then sing the chorus). . . . And by the way, considering my mother has pancreatic cancer, this was a special moment for me.

Oh, and the white board was a last-minute idea that could have been done better. It’s a learning process.

The second video was from tonight in my office. I start off planning to talk about Stephen’s sermon in Acts chapter 7, yet the Holy Spirit quickly led me in a very different direction. It’s worth watching (and it’s short!).

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Christianity, Church, ministry, Preaching, worship

Sunday Sermons (March 29, 2020)

For those of you who’d like to watch, I am attaching links to our “services” from each Sunday.

Most churches these days are streaming live on Facebook. If not there, then through things like Zoom, etc. I’m just excited that, even though we can’t meet in person as a congregation, more people than ever are able to hear the gospel due to this pandemic.

Coincidence? Hmmm.

Anyway, please watch, if you’d like, and share any comments you may have.

On Sunday morning I preached a sermon based on the Lyrics of “It Is Well,” by Horatio Spafford. The video recently released by the singers in Nashville pushed me over the edge on that one 😉

Sunday evening, from my office, I covered the first few verses of Acts 6. Also, my daughter, Katie, since she has come down to hold up with us while she has been let go from her job, assisted me with a couple of songs I know you will enjoy.

So, grab some popcorn (you can do it in this context) and pretend you’re joining me for church!

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Filed under baptist, Bible Study, Church, community, Southern Baptist, worship

It Is Well! Thank You, Jesus!

When Horatio Spafford looked out across the place where his daughters drowned in a ship wreck, can you even imagine the emotions flooding over him?

What pain! What horrible, sickening emptiness! What incomparable sorrow!

scenic view of the sea

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Yet, no doubt trembling, with tears wetting his cheeks, he was warmed by the peace that passes understanding and composed the words to one of the Christian world’s most beloved hymns… “It Is Well With My Soul.”

This morning, a friend on Facebook forwarded me a link to some Nashville studio vocalists and their unbelievable rendition of “It Is Well,” all done on their cell phones!

Let me tell you, like some old preachers used to say, “If that doesn’t light your fire, your wood is wet!”

I couldn’t keep still, couldn’t stay seated, and couldn’t keep quiet. It became a hanky-waving, hand-clapping, “thank you Jesus” time.

Now, why don’t you watch and listen and see if your fire will light … unless your wood is too wet 😉

Just click on the link, below. It will take you to the News4 story and video.

https://www.wsmv.com/news/a-group-of-nashville-studio-singers-perform-an-epic-cell/article_2245fbf8-6eb2-11ea-9be3-db6cec04c8f3.html?fbclid=IwAR2tCvOTX679FWc06y-gLBqjr_KbtWZQiPY-FbYPCA-JLY58lM_Ok4mULRI

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Filed under music, worship

I Love to Tell THE Story (w/Benny Berry)

It was 2012

Back in 2012, I was the pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Lookout Valley, TN. I was there from August of 2008 to October of 2016.

It was a mixed bag of good, bad, joyful, and tragic. During that year I was neck-deep in finishing my master’s degree, driving a school bus, preaching 3 different sermons a week, and dealing with a sick wife. What’s more, things were happening underneath the radar that would nearly destroy my family and cost my youngest daughter her life.

I don’t know why I am telling you this right now, because it has very little to do with what I wanted to do when I sat down. Actually, all I wanted to do was give a little context to a video I was going to link. However, it just seems like the words I’m typing are being guided. Maybe they’re just what’s on my heart and I need to get them off. I don’t know.

While I was pastor at Riverside, some very bad things happened (hopefully, one day, I’ll have the freedom to share more details). But one of the most painful aspects was finding out – at least being accused – that if I had not been spending so much time studying and working I might have been a better and more attentive father… The one making that accusation was evil and simply trying to make excuses for his own actions.

Yet, in some ways, it was true, which is what makes it painful. I was focused on trying to do things FOR the family and missed some critical times WITH the family. Since then, there has been forgiveness, but scars remain. Thankfully, I serve a God who can even work miracles with scars. He has some too, you know.

Like I said, I didn’t plan on writing this, but somebody evidently needs to read it. Your #1 ministry is your family, not your community, your job, or your church. There is no success in life, whether it be earning millions or having the largest congregation, that is worth losing your children to the enemy. Let me help you put things in order:

  1. God (your personal relationship with Jesus and your obedience to the will of God)
  2. Family
    1. Your spouse
    2. Your children
  3. Providing for your family (i.e., career, vocational ministry, etc.)

If you’ll look carefully, there’s a lot NOT on that list. What about hobbies? What about community service? What about politics? What about friends?

Oh, you can have those things, but if they break the above hierarchy of priorities, you’ll one day find yourself face-down in a pillow wet with regret.

But what if you’ve already made mistakes you can’t correct? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

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

Today is a new day and the first day of the rest of your life. The race is not over, so finish well.

His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

Here’s the video I was going to share. It’s still my theme.

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Filed under Family, Relationships and Family

I’ve Got a Mighty, Mighty Friend

Tough Times

All of us are living in tough and troubling times. For some of you, the road you’re on has far more bumps and potholes than the roads of others. Yet, all of us will agree that, wherever we are, the world is not getting any better.

Times are tough, and they’re only getting tougher.

But…

But, I have a Mighty Friend who is not affected by the whims of men or the winds of time. As a matter of fact, my Friend is the One who created man and started time.

Several years ago (2007) I wrote a song for my little girls to sing. Not long ago, while doing some stuff at church, I listened to a recording of the song …and shouted…literally, I kicked up my heels, pumped my fists, waved my hands, and shouted “Praise GOD!

Maybe you need some encouragement? Just read the lyrics I have included below, and if God is your friend, don’t worry (Matthew 6:30-34).

Mighty Friend

Well I may not be as tall as a building or strong as a big ol train
I may not be as smart as a scientist doing things I can’t explain
But I know the One who made the tallest mountain and can whip up a hurricane
And the very One who invented gravity says He even knows my name.
 
Well I may not know what’s comin’ in the mornin’, or what the day may bring
Good or bad, I’m not gonna worry, ‘cause Jesus knows everything.
So I’ll do the best with what God has given me as long as there is time
‘Cause the One that got the clocks a-tick’n told me it’ll all be fine.
 
When the devil acts like a bully, putting on a scary show
Before you run away and hide in a corner there’s something you need to know
The One who spoke the world into existence is standing by your side
And if you look close the devil’s knees are shakin’ cause he knows he’ll lose the fight
 
Chorus:
Cause I’ve got a Mighty, Mighty Friend who watches over me
And He’s the Mighty, Mighty Savior who died to set me free
Well I may not be the greatest at anything, but this one thing is so
The God that is the greatest at everything loves me, this I know.
 

© 2007, Anthony C. Baker (BMI)

Katie is going to hate me for doing this…

…but I am going to include the recording I was talking about. This was recorded back when she (Katie, the one on the far left) was only 10 or 11 years-old. It’s not Nashville quality, but it’s precious. So, as so many people say before they sing in church, “Don’t listen to how we sing, just listen to the words.”

“Mighty Friend”

Katie, Valerie, Alicia, and Haley

 

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Filed under Faith, God, music, Relationships and Family