Author Archives: Anthony Baker

About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor/preacher/teacher, musician, and Time Magazine's Person of The Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. Currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry. Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him!

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Proverbs 20:15

“There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”

The Salesman

I can’t help but grin as I read this verse. I can almost hear the voice of a salesman showing off his wares, but starting with the common, ordinary brands…

“Now, over here you got your gold, which is pretty good, and a lot of people like it, but I don’t think it’s what your looking for. It’s a little heavy, commonly used on teeth, etc. Just follow me to the next isle.

photo (11)Now, what you have here are the finest rubies money can buy. I have seen ’em worn by those Proverbs 31 women; sold a bunch to some watch makers; heck, I even sold a box full to Lady GaGa – she’s gonna glue ’em to herself.

But, you know, I got a feeling you want something a little more special, correct?”

That’s when the salesman would take on a serious tone and retrieve a single, velvet box from out of a locked safe. Looking around to make sure the coast was clear, he would open up the box and say,

This is what you really want…it’s far more valuable than the gold or rubies. Isn’t it beautiful? Nothing like it, huh? It’s called…wisdom.

It’s from the Owner’s private stock.”

The Owner

Gold and rubies are wonderful to look at. They’re even more wonderful to have in one’s possession. But if one had enough wealth he could have rooms full of both – all it would take is money.

When it comes to wisdom, however, no amount of money can buy it. You can’t even rent it. It has to be given or shared.

Fortunately, God wants us to walk into His store with nothing in our hands. He wants to give us something far more valuable than gold or rubies. All he wants us to do is ask.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5 ESV

 


Weighty Truth

Proverbs 20:10

“Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.”
“Differing weights and differing measures— the LORD detests them both.” (NIV)

Flattering Scales

I know some people who hate being weighed. They cringe at the thought of stepping on scales. So, to  make things a little easier, they find ways to make adjustments.

Believe it or not, some people (and you know who you are) adjust their bathroom scales to show less than their actual weight. In other words, some people, after stepping out of the shower, would prefer that their scales lie.

They like being flattered, not fattened.

Lying Scales

Balance à tabac

Balance à tabac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This proverb has to do with scales, but here they are called “diverse weights, and diverse measures.” They were used back in the old days for determining the value or authenticity of an item.

For example, if someone said he had an ounce of pure gold, a standardized ounce of pure gold, when set on the other side of the scale, should balance out. If something was off then the scales would tip.

Many times dishonest merchants would cheat their customers by using “diverse” weights, or weights that said they weighed a certain amount, but didn’t. God hates lying, even when it involves weights.

Heavy Truth

Sometimes the truth may seem too heavy to bear. It may be disappointing to know how much we actually weigh. Those who have flattering scales in their bathrooms are often brought back to reality when they have to visit a doctor – their scales don’t lie.

What is wrong with a little scale tampering every now and then? The problem is that a lying scale leads people to believe a lie is the truth. With God there is no room for error or falsehood. Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.

There is no coming to God by way of a faulty scale.


Inherited Blessings

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (KJV)
The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. (NIV)

Walking in Integrity?

You may have noticed that there are not many people who walk with integrity in our world.

Many people find an error on their receipt and keep the excess change (although recently a relief pitcher for the baseball team the San Francisco Giants, Jeremy Affelft, discovered a half million dollar mistake in his paycheck, and returned it!), though it could cost someone their job.

Many people cut off others in traffic to save themselves time or drive slower to “keep themselves safer,” when in truth they may be causing accidents and delays.

There are a myriad of ways people do not walk in integrity, from relationships to finances to business even to church.

However, those who walk in integrity are held blameless by their families, friends, and communities. Whether it is financial, moral, or relational, those who walk in integrity leave many blessings for their children.

A Blessing with a Warning

The children of a person of integrity find that they are blessed with some influence.

People are willing to trust them because of who their parents were. Some people find they have enough money to influence others’ responses.

The wise will use this influence to make their world better. The godly will use this influence to make an impact for Christ.

However, as David and Solomon’s children demonstrated, that influence can also be used to burden and curse others.

The choice is ours how we use what our parents have left for us.

If they left us an example of integrity, may we follow that example.

If they left us an example of selfishness, pride, and violence, may we choose to follow the example of Christ and set a new example of integrity for our children.

Wise Lord, help us break the cycle of our families to walk in the integrity of Christ. Help us to live lives that are pleasing to You and blameless in the sight of our eyes, for Your glory.


Well Water (Cool Counsel)

Proverbs 20:5

“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Well Water

Once when I was on a mission trip to Romania, a few of us spent a couple of days in a little town called Beuj. I remember not having a canteen or thermos (water bottle) to carry with me as we traversed the little roads around a farm in 90+ temperatures. We could only go so far away from a well.

You see, there was this little well in the town. We knew that we could walk a mile or two away, but only a mile or two. Any more and we would die of thirst before we got back. We were walking around handing out Bibles and hymnals, along with invitations to a community service at which I was going to preach. That well water was so cool and refreshing in that summer heat of 1992.

Cool Counsel

well-w-bucketThere is refreshing counsel deep inside a wise man or woman, and there are many dry and thirsty souls who need it. Sadly, many of those would-be wells of wisdom are covered, blocked, or labeled “unworthy” by the wells themselves.

If God has done a work in your life, let the Holy Spirit use you, your past, and your insight. God never wastes a tear. The pain you have gone through may have produced a deep well a struggling soul may need to make it another mile.


Of Salt and Slugs

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”

Get a Job

You’ve probably heard someone yell out the window of a car, “Get a job!” I know I have. And if I had never heard it I know I have thought it. Every once in a while I see a person with a cardboard sign and think to myself, “Why don’t you get a real job, instead of making more than me?”

We should really be careful when we see people begging for work, for food, or for money. Unless we have followed a person around for a while, we don’t know what he has gone through. We should be more careful before we pass judgment.

Really, Get a Job

BUT, there are many people who really do end up begging others for basic needs all because of their laziness. There are people who refuse to spend any energy doing whatever it takes to feed themselves, much less their families.

I don’t want pity, nor am I bragging, but there was a time when I had to work 3-4 jobs at a time in order to keep my wife and daughters out of a shelter and in a house. I know what it is like to work in a dangerous factory during the week, deliver pizzas at night, wash dishes all weekend, and deliver news papers on Sunday morning. I know what it is like to plow in winter.

Salt or Snail?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The lazy person is called a “sluggard.” The name causes one to envision a long, slow-moving, slimy snail. The “sluggard” refuses to get up an do anything because work is hard. He chooses to wait until the “time is right,” but the right time never comes. Then, when hunger comes, he begs, complains, accuses others, and demands his “rights.”

Unfortunately, many societies encourage “sluggards.” They reward them with everything they want, including food, shelter, clothing, and cell phones. Sadly, some healthy Christians think it is appropriate to live off of certain programs, rather than work, but…

You can’t be the salt and light of the earth while acting like a snail.

 


Forfeit by Sin

Proverbs 20:2

The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul. (KJV)
A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives. (NIV)

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart

What happens if you break the rules?

That seems like such a simple question, but for some reason we, humanity as a whole, seems to disregard the answer to this question on a fairly regular basis.

We prove this by keeping the wrong change when given too much by the cashier, posting a stupid and mean comment online, or speeding while driving down the road.

Yet think about this: what tends to happen when we see a police car on the side of the road? We have a minor panic attack thinking about the trouble we may be in!

It is evidenced by our children disobeying established rules, like throwing a ball in the house, playing with toys instead of doing homework, or doing something wrong and blaming a sibling or a friend.

How do the children feel? Afraid of the coming punishment, because they know they did something wrong. They hear their parents coming a mile away!

How do parents feel? Heartbroken that their child cannot follow simple rules.

God Hates Sin

Every time we sin, it is like telling our Heavenly Father His rules are stupid. We invite His punishment, and often with reckless abandon.

Sadly, it is our reckless abandon that invites His wrath, as well.

The good news is that God loves us so much and hates our sin so much that He stepped down into humanity to save us from His wrath by dying on the cross and rising from the grave.

Those who continue to disobey His laws and refuse to acknowledge His sacrifice remain under His wrath.

In effect, they choose to “sinneth against [their] own soul” and “forfeit their lives” to the wrath of the King.

Just King, thank You for saving us by taking the wrath due us on Your own shoulders. Help us by Your Holy Spirit to obey Your commands to love each other. Help us to love those who are still under Your wrath and lead them to Your grace and forgiveness.


No Need for Stripes

Proverbs 19:29

“Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”

Reality Shows

Have you ever watched reality television? “Reality shows,” as they are called, are television programs that seek to entertain the viewer with the craziness of other peoples’ lives. Reality television is usually anything but true reality, however. But what happened last night while I was preaching was anything but fake.

Before I get into the details of this post, it has been pointed out by more than one person that our family needs to star in its own reality TV show. The only problem is that no one would believe it.

It Happened During Church

(The following happened in 2013) Just after 9 p.m. I got a phone call from a concerned church member: “Pastor, are you all right? You OK?” “Well…yeah…I guess,” was my reply. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Come to find out, a lady across the street from our church wrote on Facebook that bounty hunters had shot at a man, chased him, and arrested him in our church parking lot – while church was going on! No one inside the church knew a thing! But what is even more amazing is that the man had come to visit our church, and his wife was in the sanctuary. She never knew her husband was taken away!

Why did all this happen? Evidently, the man was wanted for a parole violation, and they followed him to church. He and his wife had been in trouble many times, but they had visited Sunday morning and felt that it was time for a change. That is why they came back last night.

Judgments and Stripes

There is more to the above story, most of which is sad, but I told it in order to help make a point. You see, actions have consequences. Sin has a price. Even though this poor couple realized that they needed God in their lives, judgment caught up with them.

All is not lost, however. Many times God’s judgment is what it takes to open the eyes of the sinner. As I prayed with the woman whose husband was hauled away, I reminded her that the road ahead would be very hard, but that God loves her, and her husband.

By His Strips

This might be a good time to point out that wounded people need to be loved. Too many people feel unworthy to come to church, and it’s all because they feel like they will be judged, like everyone else is “better” than them. The fact is that we are all sinners, but Jesus bore the punishment for our crimes, so our job is to love each other as Christ loved us.

This man and woman may have to pay a temporal price for the sins they have committed. It may mean jail time. But there is no need for them, or you, to suffer the eternal penalty for sin – separation from God. Jesus took upon Himself our sins and bore them to the Cross (1 Peter 2:24). There He was “wounded for our transgressions, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).”

Don’t continue to be a “scorner.” Don’t be a “fool.” 

“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” – 1 John 4:10 NLT

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9 KJV

 

 


Attitudes Will Change

Proverbs 19:28

“An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.” 
“A corrupt witness makes a mockery of justice; the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.” – NLT

Near the Cross

As I sit here preparing to type this entry, “Near the Cross” (Fanny Crosby) is playing in the background on my computer. Tears are beginning to well up in my eyes. Jesus, keep me near the Cross.

The words to the second verse: “Near the cross, a trembling soul, love and mercy found me; there the bright and morning star sheds its beams around me.” Then the chorus goes: “In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever; till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river.

How can anyone who has ever heard of the love of Christ, of what He did on Calvary’s cross for you and me, ever be like the people in today’s proverb? I just don’t get it. Yet, there are some people who simply love evil; they love the taste of sin.

Oh, dear Jesus, keep me near the Cross!

Just Don’t Care

You have probably seen witnesses take the stand in a courtroom of law and laugh, make fun, and show utter contempt for the legal system. They “make a mockery of justice,” of what is right. They don’t care what happens, for they love iniquity and they mock the potential consequences. In many cases even the threat of death makes no difference.

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Click to see Prov. 19:28 in action.

In a recent case a teen, T.J. Lane, was convicted of murder. But before he was sentenced for killing three other teens in an Ohio school, he brandished a t-shirt with “Killer” hand-written on the front, “flipped off” the courtroom, and cursed the families of the victims. The rebellious child in a man’s body “scorned judgement” and showed nothing but a taste for evil.

He definitely had an attitude.

But Attitudes Change

There was a time when I loved sin. There was a time when I had a taste for evil. But when I came near the old, rugged Cross on which the Lamb of God was slain, my tastes changed. I found a new love.

Unfortunately, some scorn even the judgement of the cross. They are like the wicked described in the book of Job who enjoy “the sweet taste of wickedness, letting it melt under their tongue (20:12 NLT),” and are too enraptured with their evil to comprehend the true terrors that await.

Matthew Henry said that you can tell a fool “that the scriptures and an oath are sacred things, and not to be jested with, that there will come a reckoning day; [yet] he laughs at it all, and scorns to heed it.” [1]

But…one day attitudes will change. There will be no mocking, no t-shirts, only a fearful dread. At that moment what had been so sweet to the taste will become “poisonous venom in their stomach” (Job 20:14 NLT).


[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 19:28.


Pure D Lazy

Proverbs 19:24

“A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.”

“Pure D”

We say things a little differently here in the South. We say things like “darn toot’n,” “dadgum,” and “y’all.” Occasionally we use the colloquial adjective/adverb-like thingy, “pure D.” Let me give you a few examples of its usage:

  • Dadgum! Did you see her? She was pure D ugly!
  • See’dat John Deer [tractor] over there? That’s a pure D piece’a art, right there.
  • She knows how to fry okra AND drive a truck? Son, that’s a pure D gift from God, I’m tellin’ ya.

Pure D can also be used in a sentence describing the man in Proverbs 19:24. “See that feller with his hand in his shirt? Ain’t moved it a lick. That’s just pure D lazy.”

Slothful

Slothfulness is just pure D laziness, and this verse epitomizes the lazy, slothful bum who won’t even lift a finger to help himself.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “God helps those who help themselves.” That saying is actually unbiblical to the core, for God loves to help those who can’t help themselves. Lazy people, however, should not count on God’s intervention.

Those who have the ability to take care of themselves, but are too lazy to lift their hands in effort, are not to be pitied, but warned of the judgment of God. And that’s the pure D truth.

Lord, help us to be faithful stewards of the strength and opportunities you give us. Bless our labor, not our laziness. Teach us, dear Father, to number our days.


I’d Rather Be Poor

Proverbs 19:22

“The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.”
“What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.” – NASB

Nice Guys

A lot has been said about “nice guys.” Most of it is negative. According to everything I’ve ever heard, “nice guys finish last.” In other words, the only way to get ahead in one’s life or career is to be not nice.

This seems to hold true in many areas of life. For example, men know that women prefer “bad boys.” The heroes in movies are rarely 9-5 dads who drive the kids to ball practice in a mini-van. The sex symbol is usually a rough, tough, rule-breaking head-knocker in a leather jacket, not a law-abiding Presbyterian who mows the widowed neighbor’s grass.

Fortunately, God sees things differently. True nice guys (we’re talking men who want to serve God by serving others, not spineless wimps) will be rewarded for their works…if not in this life, then surely the next.

Poor Guys

Solomon said that it is better to be poor than to be a liar. True, but what does that have to do with the first part of this proverb? A lot, actually, especially if you understand how sales works.

I have heard sales managers tell me, “You goal is not to make friends, but to close deals.” They have told me, “You are too nice!” They have even said things like, “It’s not a lie, just as long as the client is happy.”

starving-bloggerDear reader, I would rather be poor than tell a lie. I have walked away from huge profits and badly-needed pay days in order to maintain my integrity.

It is truly better to be poor than to be a liar. Why? Because what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and loose his own soul?

Father, teach us to be strong and courageous warriors for righteousness and soldiers of the cross. Yet, teach us also to be humble as Jesus was humble (Phil 2:7-8), showing kindness in truth.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” – Luke 6:35