Tag Archives: sermons

Pastors and Politics

I just want to take a quick moment to blog. By that I mean that I want to do what blogging used to be meant for: a web log of thoughts; a diary of sorts.

What thoughts do I want to record and share with the world? Politics. Specifically, pastors and the subject of politics.

The reason I want to simply “blog” is because I have not done any research, sourcing, or anything like that in order to craft a professional opinion piece. This is not meant to be an article worth publishing in a news paper or magazine. I have no links to news stories or pictures to share.

No, all this is meant to be is me sharing my thoughts off the cuff, unprepared, and dangerous.

You see, I have political opinions. I have my opinions about our President. I have strong opinions about the government and the direction we should be going as a country. Yet, as a pastor, my thoughts on these issues are considered taboo, off limits, no matter if they are spoken from the pulpit or elsewhere (and I’m speaking generically, not specifically about my current congregation).

It’s a strange situation to be in, actually. I mean, here we are, pillars in the community, men tasked with preaching truth without compromise, yet if we mention anything about conservative policies we think might better the community, we’re in danger of alienating people and running the risk of splitting a congregation!

It’s pretty sad, isn’t it? Shouldn’t the gospel apply to every area of life? Shouldn’t the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles find application in the voting booth? It would seem so. However, I could preach about anything, even against same-sex marriage, and aside from the vitriolic response I might get from friends of the rainbow, the average church member would support me in my pastoral, prophetic role. Yet, talk about anything political that might hint of my personal persuasions and I’d likely be censured.

Do you ever wonder why this is? Do you ever wonder why it is that a pastor cannot talk about politics that same way he can about adultery, lying, anger, murder, hate, hypocrisy, abuse, weighted scales, and bigotry?

Think about it… there are people in Christian media and print, along with nationally-known religious personalities, who are taking full advantage of their platforms to say anything negative about our President, even to the point of calling for his impeachment. Yet, if the average pastor stood behind the pulpit and said, “I think we ought to pray for Donald Trump, that he should succeed and become a great President, for our country and the world’s sake,” he’d likely be labeled a fascist, racist, evil Nazi sympathizer.

Oh, I forgot. It’s OK to admit you pray for the President, but only if you’re Nancy Pelosi and your ultimate goal is his imprisonment.

Here’s the thing, though. In every congregation of believers in Christ there are going to be people who are members of different political factions, and that goes for everywhere. Yet, when it comes to issues of right and wrong, good and evil, and how we should live out our faith in the public arena, which includes the voting booth, if God’s sufficient Word cannot find application that should guide the Christian, if there are areas in life that cannot be addressed by Scripture for fear that it might offend the Christian or bruise his personal sacred cow, then is the revealed Word of God really all it claims to be?

Prudence soaked in love; wisdom granted by the Spirit; and a keen contextual awareness are key when considering when, where, and how we should address these topics. However, fear should never be the motivating factor that intimidates us into silence when God has a Word to say.

Those are my thoughts on this Friday afternoon.

God bless.

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Filed under America, blogging, Christian Unity, community, General Observations, politics, Preaching

8 Suggestions for Making Resolutions (and an 11-Minute Sermon)

Internet Speed

Image result for gig cityIf there was only one thing I had to say I honestly miss about living in Chattanooga, it’s the INTERNET SPEED!

On the other hand, our internet speeds in this part of the state of Georgia are dreadfully slow compared to what I’ve been used to:

  • “First, fastest, least expensive internet access in US.” — New York Times
  • 50 times the US average internet speed

To refresh, that’s a GIGABIT, as opposed to a max of 25MB per second here in Warthen!

Hey, Governor Kemp! The Kaolin Belt needs fiber optics!

Resolution Sermon

But the point of this post is not internet speeds – it’s about New Year resolutions and a sermon I preached this last Sunday morning … of which I only managed to record 1 second of the audio!

So, what I did was go to my office, today, and record a “recap” of the sermon, thereby replacing the lost sermon for my archives.

You can watch the video (only 11 minutes) or look at the outline, or both. Regardless, here are some “Questions to Ask When Making a New Year’s Resolution.” 

Questions to Ask When Making a New Year’s Resolution 
(Isaiah 50:7; Luke 9:51, 12:50; Acts 20:24)

1.  Do I NEED to make any resolutions?
There is nothing so fatal to character as half-finished tasks.” – David Lloyd George

2. What has God called me to do? (John 6:38)
   “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” – John 4:34

3. Where will I be at this time next year if nothing changes?
“You don’t drown by falling into water. You only drown if you stay there.” – Zig Ziglar

4. Will I be willing to be held accountable? (Ecc. 4:9-12)

  • It is in our nature to NOT want accountability
  • James 5:15 “confess your faults one to another”
  • Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpeneth another”

5. Will my determination be visible?
   Samuel Adams – “We have proclaimed to the world our determination ‘to die freemen, rather than to live slaves.’ We have appealed to Heaven for the justice of our cause, and in Heaven we have placed our trust.”

6. Will I rely on my own strength?
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble – Psalm 46:1

7. To WHOM will the glory go when I succeed?
   “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” – Col. 3:23

8. Is the JOY worth the PAIN?
   “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2 KJV

   Will Rogers – “Pain is such an uncomfortable feeling that even a tiny amount of it is enough to ruin every enjoyment.”

   William Penn – “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Church, Future, ministry, Preaching

Fear In the Christmas Story

Christmas Sermons

You may have never considered it, but it’s a challenge to come up with Christmas sermons year after year without being too repetitive. Sure, one could simply preach through Luke 2 every year, but a little creativity can go a long way.

This year I will preach a few sermons I have preached in other places, but they will be new to the folk here at Bethlehem Baptist. Here are the notes to one that I preached this past Sunday.

To Fear, Or Not to Fear

Did you know there are actually some honest-to-goodness phobias related to Christmas? Here are just a few.

  • Selaphobia – the fear of flashing Christmas lights.
  • Ghabhphobia – the fear of presents or gifts.
  • Krikophobia – the fear of church services.
  • Cyssanophobia – the fear of kissing under the mistletoe.
  • Festivalisophobia – a phobia of the whole Christmas thing.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be any wonder that we can find several places in the Bible where angels told people to “fear not.” Folks back in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago probably didn’t have a fear of kissing under the mistletoe, but they had every reason to be frightened by talking beings clothed in bright light telling them about babies in mangers, virgin births, and wedding plans.

The story of Christ’s birth is associated with great joy, but it was also full of great initial fear. At least one person in the story (King Herod) never got over his phobias and paranoia, but he never heard an angel tell him “fear not,” either.

Below are my notes/outline from which I will deliver this morning’s sermon at South Soddy Baptist Church. When you have a moment, read the Scriptures I reference. See for yourself what the Spirit has to say.

“Fear In the Christmas Story”

1. Luke 1:12  Zacharias (a faithful, praying priest) was “troubled” (G5015, tarasso), and “fear”(5401, phobos) fell upon him.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not…thy prayer is heard.”

2. Luke 1:29  Mary (a confused young girl) was “troubled” (1298, diatarasso)

The angel said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.”

3. Matthew 1:20  The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph (hurt and scared) in a dream and said, “fear (phobeo) not to take Mary thy wife…”

4. Luke 1:65  “Fear (phobos) came on all that dwelt around” Zacharias and Elisabeth when Zacharias’ “mouth was opened…his tongue was loosed, and he spake, and praised God.”

5. Luke 2:9  The shepherds were “sore afraid” (phobeo phobos megas) …see also Daniel 10:7-8 and Revelation 1:17.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

6. Matthew 2:3  Herod, because the wise men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews,” was “troubled” (taraso), and all Jerusalem with him.

7. What should we take away from this today?

  1. True holiness will expose humanity’s sinfulness.
  2. Godly fear will be answered with peace, result in obedience, and respond with praise.
  3. The fear of Christmas will manifest itself in hate, a lack of peace and joy, and no hope.
  4. If you trust in Jesus, He promises the peace of Christmas year-round. John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Boston Psychotherapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin (an agnostic) said: “[Some atheists are] not unlike the bully who pushes other people down in order to make himself feel better. There are atheists who have a very uncomfortable belief about [their non-belief] they feel the need to push other people down. There is an emotional confusion among some atheists that drives them to promote their product on others [to make them feel better about themselves]. – From an interview on Bill O’Reilly, 12/2/14

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Christmas, Church, Preaching

10 Reasons Why Jesus Is Better Than Santa Claus

It wasn’t an anti-Santa sermon; it was pro-Jesus.

Yes, Sunday morning I did my best to keep things positive and upbeat, rather than pound Santa Claus into the ground as an antichrist-like idol that replaces our Savior as the primary focus of this season.

As a matter of fact, a 5-year-old could have sat in the service and not been dissuaded in his belief in the existence of Saint Nick.

The whole point of the sermon was to highlight Jesus Christ by contrasting Him with the legend of Santa Claus. Therefore, even if you still believed in the jolly old elf, there’d be no comparison with Emanuel, God with us.

If you can spare 39 minutes, click on the picture or the link below and listen to the audio of the sermon. It’s a lot more exciting than simply reading the outline – which I also provided (in case you want to follow along or use it – feel free).

“10 Reasons Why Jesus Is Better Than Santa”

 

1. Santa lives at the North Pole – JESUS is everywhere!
Psalm 139:7-8
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from the presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.”

Mat 28:19-20 – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.

2. Santa rides in a sleigh –JESUS walks on the water!
John 6:18-20
“And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see JESUS WALKING ON THE SEA, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But He saith unto them, ‘IT IS I; BE NOT AFRAID.’”

2Ki 2:11 – And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

3. Santa comes but once a year –JESUS is our ever-present help!
Psalms 46:1
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Isa 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego

4. Santa fills your stockings with goodies –JESUS supplies all your needs!
Philippians 4:19
“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

5. Santa secretly sneaks down your chimney uninvited –JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart when invited!
Revelation 3:20
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

6. You have to wait in line to see Santa –JESUS is as close as the mention of His name!
Hebrews 4:16
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Galatians 4:6
“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

7. Santa lets you sit on his lap –JESUS lets you rest in His arms!
Deuteronomy 33:27
“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the EVERLASTING ARMS.”

8. Santa has a great laugh: “HO, HO, HO!” – But Jesus sings and dances!
Zep 3:17
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love (so deep of an expression that it’s difficult to translate), he will joy over thee (to spin around) with singing (a ringing, joyful cry).

9. Santa says “You better not cry” –JESUS says “Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
He even collects our tears!

10. Santa is most famous for giving gifts to good boys and girls — JESUS was the gift to make bad boys and girls good!
John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ”

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2Co 5:21 KJV

*************************************************************

*Santa has a list, but so does the Lord: The Lamb’s Book of Life

Rev 21:27  – And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Santa checks his twice a year… The Book of Life only once.

Rev 20:15 KJV – And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Remember #5? He’s at the door of your heart right now.

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Jesus

A Last and a First: Closing One Ministry and Beginning Another

As many of you know, I am now the pastor of a church down in Warthen, Georgia. You probably also know that I used to pastor South Soddy Baptist in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee.

Well, I thought it might be of interest to some of you to listen to two different sermons – one from my last day at South Soddy, and the other from my first day at Bethlehem Baptist.

But the reason I am sharing both of these back-to-back is so that hopefully you will notice a similarity between them. What I hope you will notice, despite the sadness of one and the excitement of the other, is a common thread of hope and assurance that God is still at work and the work for us to do is not done.

God bless you all, and I hope to get back to writing very soon – there sure is a lot to talk about!

Click on the pictures below for links to sermons.

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Filed under baptist, Church, Do not judge, Life/Death, ministry, Preaching, worship

Jesus In Leviticus – The Final Sacrifice

I know it may not be your thing to listen to sermons online, especially on a blog, but if it is….

Here’s a sermon I recently preached from the book of Leviticus.

Being that I’m “the Recovering Legalist,” why not post a sermon dealing with the Law?

And, for the record, I don’t mention anything in this sermon having to do with condemning homosexuality or eating shell fish. I don’t even talk about chapter 18! Can you believe it?

Seriously, when you can just take a listen. If it’s a blessing, I’d love to hear about it.

https://anthonycbaker.sermon.net/main/main/21341621

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These Are the Glory Days: We Were Made for This!

The King James Version puts it this way:

Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this. – Ecclesiastes 7:10 

The New Living Translation is a little more succinct:

Don’t long for “the good old days.” This is not wise. – Ecclesiastes 7:10 NLT

Either way, the point is the same: There are dangers inherent to longing for what was instead of dealing with today.

Below is a link to the sermon I preached last Sunday morning. I hope it encourages you.

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, current events, Faith, ministry, Preaching