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!

Good Doctrine

The Detour

As of this writing I’m sitting in a hotel bed in Conyers, Georgia. My wife and I were on our way to visit our daughter and son-in-law in South Carolina, but the long arm of Murphy’s Law caught up with us, causing us to make an unplanned stop.

Thank God for Gideons!

Now, because I woke up this morning with nothing in our room but the clothes we wore and our tooth brushes, I don’t have my Bible, nor do I have a computer in front of me (we left everything in the car during the rain storm). All I have is a Gideon Bible and my iPhone.

But I guess that’s good enough šŸ™‚

So, here are my thoughts before I take an elevator down to breakfast – and as I tell our little dog to be quiet lest he get us in trouble.

The Doctrine

Solomon tells his son, “For I give you good doctrine…” (Proverbs 4:2a).

Doctrine is another word for teaching. Do you ever stop to consider the quality of what you’re teaching others? Solomon obviously had, and he was able to distinguish between good doctrine and bad.

But how do we know if what we teach others – our children, co-workers, class members, congregations, etc. – is “good doctrine?” How can we say with confidence “I give you good doctrine”?

Let me be honest, this is deep stuff, and I’ve yet to have a cup of hotel coffee. But the first thing that comes to mind is that we should know what is true, and that takes work.

Do you know why a Pastor of a church should not be a “novice” (1 Timothy 3:6)? One reason is because he has little life experience. You see, a seminary degree is great, but textbook knowledge is not as comforting to the brokenhearted as is a word based on experience.

But do you know why parenting is difficult? Because you learn on the go. All you have is the advice (doctrine) of others who’ve been there before and have learned from their mistakes.

Solomon had made mistakes. His father, David had made mistakes, leaving Solomon with several dead brothers. Now it was time for Solomon to write it all down – how to avoid the mistakes and live.

But for you and me, are we giving much thought to what we are teaching? Do we follow Paul’s advice to Timothy?

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Timothy 4:16).

My brain isn’t completely awake and out of bed, yet, but what I think we should take away from this morning’s Thought is a renewed determination to make sure what we teach, what we preach, and all our general advice is wholesome, beneficial, and true.

In order to do that, we must maintain wise counsel, pray a lot more, and stay in the Word – that’s where the most trustworthy doctrine can be found.

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Holy Whippings, Batman!

I know the following verses are not popular with the modern mind, but they are what they are…

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. – Proverbs 3:11-12

My friends, I know that parenting can be difficult, and not all children respond the same way to discipline. However, I do believe that a lack of discipline – specifically of the corporal punishment type – is to blame for a great many ills in our society.

But even if the above verses don’t expressly describe “spankings,” discipline of any kind is hard for many to endure. So often, when God does anything to try to correct us, we cry out like a toddler who’s getting a whack on the rear end, “Your killing me!”

Now that I’m thinking about it, have you ever heard a TV evangelist explain that sometimes what we are going through just might be God giving us a spiritual spanking, a heavenly whipping? I’ve never heard it. As a matter of fact, I’ve never even heard Joel Osteen talk about divinely-appointed timeouts!

But if God is our Father, and if loves us like He says He does, then we need to expect a Father’s discipline every once in a while.

Credit: Wikipedia

Several years ago we were watching reruns of the old show Family Affair. In it, the little boy, Jody (his sister was Buffy), started acting out, but nobody could understand why. He was always very respectful and never did anything wrong, but now he was acting horribly for seemingly no reason.

Come to find out, Jody had heard about a boy at school who’s dad had spanked him. When he asked about it, the boy told Jody that it wasn’t that bad, because at least it showed his dad loved him.

Now, you see, Jody and Buffy were orphans living with their uncle; he never spanked them. Sadly, Jody put two and two together and assumed, because he never got spanked, he wasn’t loved. He was trying to get in trouble in order to feel loved.

So, be thankful for the times when God says “No.” Be thankful for the times He takes us behind the woodshed.

“For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth…”


“With ALL Thine Heart”

Proverbs 3:5 is probably the most famous verse in all of chapter three. As a matter of fact, one post this week has already addressed it. 

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

However, one part is worth another look, if for no other reason than to remind us once again of something we should already know. 

“All” means all.  

How often do we say we trust God, but then fall back on our own knowledge, experience, and conscience when His leading seems to conflict with our understanding? We read His commands, sense the Spirit’s leading, but then doubt Him. 

There are parts of our hearts that don’t want to yield. They will fight, kick, and scream in order to have their way. The Lord will ask us to do something, only to have a part of us reply, “But my heart disagrees.”

Verse 6 tells us that when we let the Lord have control, He will “direct” our paths. That means He will make the paths of life straight, passable, smoother, and more direct. In other words, it may be the “straight and narrow,” but it will get you where you need to go without the damage to your suspension a rutted, pothole-filled highway may bring. Yet, how often we say, “My heart is telling me to go another way,” only to find ourselves beaten, scarred, busted, and way off track by the time we reach our destination. 

Point: Your heart is like an outdated GPS that will leave with flat tires, busted shocks, and more than a few stains on the upholstery. Why not give your heart to Jesus and let Him take the wheel? 

After all, He’s already been smoothing out the road. 


“My son…”

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments…” – Proverbs 3:1

In order to fully appreciate the first two words of Proverbs 3:1, you need to either be a loving parent or the child of one. I don’t know how else to put it.

But if you are not a parent, or if you have never experienced the love of a caring father, let me see if I can explain the emotion I sense in these opening two words.

I hear begging. I hear pleading. I hear crying.

I can feel the tenseness in the temples. I can feel the tightness in the chest. I can feel the weight on the shoulders that push one down to the floor.

I can feel the pressure put on knees as prayer is being offered up. I can feel the grip on the pen as it’s squeezed mid-sentence, the fingertips turning white as one searches for the right word to pen next.

My son…” It’s an address used 27 times in Proverbs; three times in this very chapter. They are the words of a parent who has been down the road of life, found the potholes, suffered the pain, and longs for nothing less than his children to avoid unnecessary suffering.

Can you put yourself in that position? Imagine knowing the worst that life has to offer: all of theĀ people out there who want nothing more than to destroy your kids, the most precious people in your life, those gifts from God…and you’ve now got one shot to give them the best advice you know.

“My son!” “My daughter!” Do you have children? Do you ever wish you could know just for once that they were really, truly listening to what you are saying? You pray that they will enjoy long life and peace (v. 2), but the odds are they will forget what you tell them, so you say “tie this around your neck” (v. 3).

And yet, we have the Word of God…

…a letter from our Father…

How often we must break His heart!


It’s Not Natural

What Is Natural

Some things are not natural. Let’s start with a few things that are.

When humans are born, they have a tendency to be selfish and self-centered (have you been around babies?). As they age, the tendency remains, and with some, it becomes a regular habit. But of course, this is nothing but natural.

It is also natural for humans to do stupid stuff and get suckered by other humans – it happens all the time. The humans who do stupid and evil things love doing what they do so much they recruit others with less experience in life to do the stupid stuff for them, then laugh as they enjoy the evil of it all.

And it should go without saying, humans are lustful creatures. If they weren’t, 95% of all advertisers would go bankrupt.

Is it any wonder the prophet Jeremiah described the heart of man as “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)?

What Is NOT Natural

The second chapter of Proverbs confirms all of the above, but it also shows that the antidote is something that is painful and runs completely contrary to humanity’s sense of self-preservation.

“When wisdom entereth into thine heart…” – Proverbs 2:10a

There is nothing – NOTHING – natural about heart surgery. There is absolutely nothing natural or pleasant about something piercing one’s chest cavity and entering that life-sustaining muscle, the beating of which we become very accustomed.

It is also unnatural for an evil, deceitful, and desperately wicked heart to yield to wisdom. Wisdom is unnatural; it must enter in.

But the surgery is elective, and the wise will choose – and live! But fools avoid it, choosing instead indiscretion, a lack of knowledge, and a perfumed deathbed in the house of the flatterer (Proverbs 2:11-18).

When Christ (the wisdom of God – 1 Cor. 1:24) enters your heart, life is supernatural (Romans 8:10)!


Wisdom With God

For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:6

Think about the above verse for just a moment. From where does wisdom come?

As you look at the verse from a grammatical perspective, do you notice the colon that comes after “wisdom”? In this case what we see is the colon being used to separate two independent clauses, the second explaining or illustrating the first. Wisdom comes from the mouth of God, and that wisdom is His knowledge and understanding.

Now, take a moment and think about John 1:1.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

What does John 1:14 say?

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Is it beginning to make sense? Let’s talk about it in the comment section.


The End Result of Knowledge

Week Two – Chapter Two

Here we are in the second week of our new study (or thinking) through the book of Proverbs, and I am excited to share with you what the Spirit lays on my heart. When the other authors’ schedules clear, you will be enjoying a greater variety of “thought.” But until that happens, I am determined to keep the posts coming on a daily basis, even if I have to write them all.

However, I’m not exactly protesting; I love to read God’s word and share what I find! Every time I sit down with my Bible I learn something. Every time I sit down to write I receive a blessing. Really, it’s not a chore; it’s a joy.

Determined

Speaking of determined, the first four verses of Proverbs chapter 2 are full of language that describes someone who is determined to learn. Should Solomon’s son be one that listens to his words and takes his advice to heart, he will be the type of person whose appetite for knowledgeĀ and understanding is insatiable. For example, a genuine learner will do the following:

  • listen hard to wisdom
  • apply his heart to understanding
  • cry after knowledge
  • call out for understanding
  • seek and search, like as for silver or hidden treasure

Sounds like the perfect student, doesn’t it? Do you have that kind of desire to learn? Many people do, and they are usually the doctors, scientists, and entrepreneursĀ that make us all jealous of their success.

All it takes is determination.

What We Find

But what Solomon says we find when we diligently seek after knowledge is not what the modern mind assumes; as the wise person increases in knowledge and understanding, he better understands the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. (emphasis mine)

There used to be scientists who, when they studied, gained a greater appreciation for the Creator.

“When I was young, I said to God, “God, tell me the mystery of the universe.” But God answered, “That knowledge is reserved for me alone.” So I said, “God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.” Then God said, “Well George, that’s more nearly your size.” And he told me.”Ā – George Washington Carver

These days all we hear about are scientists, etc., who seek to learn only to prove to themselves that there is no God. They miss the point of learning and have no fear of the Lord, much less a greater understanding of the Creator and the mystery of His creation.

If there seems to be a void in your education, you may have been listening to the words of the wrong Solomon. The end result of a search for knowledge and understanding should be anything but atheism.