Courage To Pray


Do you ever find yourself lacking the courage to pray? This may sound silly, but it is a reality for most normal Christians that live in a fallen world. Often we get bogged down in the hustle and bustle of life that we fail to pray. Maybe we have been struggling with sin and giving way to temptation that has led us to think that God is angry with us or we cannot approach Him because of what we have been involved in. Maybe we do not know how to pray or what to pray, therefore we do not pray at all. I am sure that if we put our heads together, the list of things that discourage us from prayer would be quite lengthy.

But are these legitimate reasons? Should we allow life circumstances, sin, or any other instance discourage us from prayer if we have been reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? The answer is quite simple: no. In 1 Chronicles 17, God is making a covenant with King David that Davids house will live on forever. God is telling David that He will build this great house, ultimately alluding to the Messiah, which is Jesus Christ. At the end of the chapter, David is responding to the Lord in prayer and he voices two sentences to God that caught my eye. 1 Chronicles 17:25, “For you, my God, have revealed to you servant that you will build a house for him. Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before you.” At some point, we can rightly assume, David lacked courage to pray. Up until God established the house of David and the covenant promise of a lasting kingdom, the Kingdom of God, David was seemingly discouraged in his pursuit of God through prayer. So if you find yourself discouraged in your prayers, you are in good company.

However, something changed for David. God’s covenant promise with David communicated the grace, mercy, and love of God toward David and his people, giving David a lasting understanding that the faithful God of the universe will be faithful to His covenant promise with David. Because of this covenant promise, David knew that God was for him, not against him, and he could approach the Holy God in prayer with courage. You may say, “I get it. David was a man after God’s own heart. David had a covenant promise established with him by God. But that is David, not me.”

Believer, what you need to know is that you have a covenant promise established with you through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You can have courage to pray because God is for you not against you. If you have repented of your sin and placed your faith in Christ, you are a covenant people, set aside for a covenant keeping God, who welcomes all of His blood bought children to His throne in prayer anytime. Hebrews 4:14-16, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Do not miss this. Because of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus, He welcomes us to the throne of grace in prayer, not with timidity, but boldly. This means that we can have courage in our prayers. And guess what….it is not based upon anything that you have done but solely based upon the grace, mercy, and good pleasure of God. You do not earn this right, it was earned for you by Christ Jesus. This means that you and I can have courage when we pray. This means that even when we are exercising our depraved stupidity and giving way to sin, we are still welcomed at the throne of grace to “find grace to help in time of need.” How mind blowing is this?

“Well….I just don’t know what to pray…I’ve had a bad day…or I am in a spiritual dry season…” It continues to get better. As Jesus sympathizes with us in our weakness, He is well aware of our discouragement and our times of need. He is well aware that dry seasons exist and we do not always know how or what to pray. But God has not abandoned us in this. Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” We do not always know what to pray because we are weak and frail. It is okay for us to admit that we are weak. It is okay for us to admit that we do not have it all together. It is okay for us to admit that we do not know what to pray. Why? Because that is where grace meets us. Even when we do not know how to pray as we ought the Spirit of the living God, the Third Person of the Trinity, intercedes on our behalf with groanings too deep for words. This means that He prays in a way that you and I cannot pray and He does this when we are clueless on how and what to pray. Amazing.

Child of God courageously approach the throne of Grace. Just as God built the house of David and established His Kingdom giving David the courage to pray, He has done the same for you in Christ Jesus and expects us to have the courage to pray because He gladly welcomes His children into HIs throne room. Exercise this right, do not neglect it, and be encouraged by the love found in our great God.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

I have postponed commenting on the tragedy in Las Vegas for two reasons: First, so many people jumped on this tragedy responding emotionally and posting emotionally charged blogs and thoughts online in order to push their own agenda in regard to political issues. Second, I wanted to check my own heart and respond reasonably and not out of emotion because this event has rocked all of us to the core in our desire to understand how such a thing could happen. Thus, my desire is not to push a political agenda within my response. While incidents such as this provoke debates about gun control and governmental legislation, most of the arguments divide people on further issues that will probably never be resolved and the last thing our nation needs is more division. My thoughts naturally gravitate toward something much deeper than any modern law. At the root of the tragedy in Vegas is not the debate over gun control, it is beyond any political debate in history.

To begin, I think that I was shaken by that incident more than I have been in a while. The reality of the statement I just made is shocking to me. It seems that every other day stories about tragedy are headlining the news and I feel that to a degree I have become callous to the evil that exists in the world. However, something about the reality of this one man killing so many people in such quick time struck me deeper than many other incidents that I have seen scrolling across headlines.

Even in this moment, I have the tendency to place Stephen Paddock (the shooter) into a category of evil that is beyond our earthly comprehension. We naturally ask the question, “how could someone do something so horrible?” On the surface, the answer does leave us baffled. We ask the same questions about some of the most “evil” people in all of history. How could Hitler extinguish so many Jews? However, the spiritual answer to the question is one of greater depth. How could someone do something so horrible? The answer is simply sin.

Stephen Paddock seemingly gave no evidence that he would carry out something so horrible as a mass murder. Sure, he may have drank a little too much and gambled more than he should, but other than that all of the reports that I have seen are nothing less than confusing because he did not give the the typical signs of someone that would do such of a thing. But, there is one thing that lies within Stephen Paddock that our news media fails to see, sin.

Stephen Paddock was born dead in his trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of the world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (ESV). Paddock was doing nothing but acting directly in accordance with his nature. Because of sin, we should not be surprised when someone carries out an act as heinous as the one that he performed. While we should be grieved and while we should not approve of such behavior, the reality that someone would do something so horrible is the very evidence that we live in a fallen world and sin still reigns in the hearts of many until the return of King Jesus.

But keep in mind one important reality, the difference between Stephen Paddock and ourselves may not be so far off. As Paddock was born dead in his trespasses and sins, so are all of us. We may look at this situation and think, “I would never do something so terrible. I have never murdered anyone. I have never stolen anything. I can’t be as bad as this guy. I’m a pretty good person.” While culture might agree with this line of thinking and say, “you are right, you are not that bad of a person,” Scripture says otherwise. Scripture contends that you and I are the same person as Stephen Paddock within the eyes of God. Scripture indicates that we share the same standing before a High and Holy God which is condemned, enemies, and guilty. Apart of the grace and mercy of God we stand in unity with Stephen Paddock.

While this is naturally the case, this is not the supreme verdict declared upon us all because of Christ. Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 2:4-9, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (ESV). Keep in mind where salvation comes from. It is a “gift from God.” Paul says that your salvation has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with your goodness, or how good of a person you are, or how many good works you have done. It is strictly a gift given to you based upon God’s good pleasure. It is given to you despite the fact that you possess the same sinful nature as Stephen Paddock. It is given by grace and mercy despite your own depravity.

So when you think about Las Vegas, when you think about Stephen Paddock, when you think about this tragic event, grieve and pray for these families effected. Pray God might use these undesirable circumstances for His glory and the exaltation of Christ. But also thank our Great God for your salvation. Thank God that He rescued you from a life that could have resulted in the very same thing. Thank God that despite your wicked heart and hostility towards Him, by grace you have been saved through faith, not of your own doing, but based upon what has been gifted you in Christ.


The following link will take you to the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry. The Fall 2017 edition contains articles written in commemoration of  New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Centennial Celebration. Contained is a book review that I have written on Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention. I hope you enjoy. My review begins on page 104.

The Importance of October

95 Theses

October is a month of high importance for people across the world whether they realize it or not. It is the month my first child was born! (J/K) While it is the month that my first child was born, this is not what would be of high importance for most people, although it definitely is for me. Historically, October is the month in which has been credited with the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a German monk, nailed a collection of writings most commonly known as The 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

These writings of Luther were intended to begin a conversation between the Catholic Church and himself in regard to many of the practices being employed as a means of salvation, and his questioning them as unbiblical. What is interesting about Luther and his relationship with the Catholic Church, he never sought to overthrow the church or begin a movement like the Protestant Reformation. Luther had a deep affection for the Catholic Church, being a good Catholic himself, and his attempt was to see it reformed in order to align more precisely with Scripture. However, this did not go as Luther had planned and the Reformation had begun.

Throughout the years, we have accredited the Protestant Reformation predominantly to Luther. While credit should be given where credit is due, Luther was not alone in his endeavors in seeking a biblical church and biblical church theology. Luther did a tremendous work, but Luther lit the fire of which many men after him would fan the flame. Men such as John Calvin, John Hus, William Tyndale, and Huldrych Zwingli to name a few. In addition to these men, hundreds of others through the years stood upon the tenets of the Reformation and are continuing to stand upon these tenets today. So what exactly are the tenets of the Reformation that are so important?

While numerous theological truths emerged from the Protestant Reformation, many hang their hat on five truths that sum up the dominant theology. They are known as the 5 Solas: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (God’s Glory Alone). These 5 Solas are dominant themes throughout the Reformation and should stand as dominant themes within the modern Protestant Church, or any church for that matter.

It is the idea that Scripture Alone is our sole source of authority. God has spoken through His word and the church does not stand over Scripture, Scripture stands over the church. Scripture is sufficient for every man in their pursuit of God and is to be followed in every area of life. Salvation is then by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Nothing outside of the gospel is needed in order to secure one’s salvation. Ephesians 2:1-10 is clear in regard to man’s salvation as God makes man alive by grace through faith in Christ. The Catholic Church is inundated with ways of obtaining salvation outside of the gospel. It is not the gospel plus something that saves, it is the gospel plus nothing. Then, all of this is for God’s Glory Alone. Everything in life is for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” You exist for the glory of God. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, you exist for God’s glory as everything else in all of creation exists for God’s Glory.

This is only a brief survey of the Protestant Reformation. I encourage everyone to further their studies of the Reformation and dive into the rich history that comprises all of us that are not Catholic. It is by God’s grace that He has brought us to where we are today and we stand upon the foundation of men like the Reformers as we carry on their legacy in the Lord’s Church for His glory and His glory alone.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Consider Holiness


I have been reading various works on the atonement for the “Work of Christ” seminar that I am currently enrolled in for school. Many different ideas in regard to the nature of the atonement exist. The one of which I subscribe is Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Yet, in my reading of the other processes of thought on the atonement, one that sticks out to me I am referring to as a liberal view of atonement.

The argumentation against Penal Substitutionary Atonement that sticks out in my mind is held by a number of feminist theologians and it suggests that Jesus’s death on the cross should be viewed as “divine child abuse” (J.C. Brown, “Divine Child Abuse,” Daughters of Sarah 18, no. 3 (1992): 28). This idea paints God out to be a blood thirsty, hateful entity, that poured out wrath on His innocent Son for no reason at all. Many postmoderns would question how anyone could love a God like this?

With this at the forefront of my mind and in my thoughts, I was driving my two daughters to school and my youngest daughter wanted to listen to a song that we sing at church entitle “Jesus, Thank You” (Listen here). The song is about the atonement. A line in the song states, “Your blood has washed away my sin, Jesus thank you. The Father’s wrath completely satisfied, Jesus thank you.” As I listened to this song, I began to think through the words that were being sung. They were words about blood. Listening to the lyrics I began to think that this song is seemingly morbid as a blood sacrifice is being made in order to appease the wrath of God. To an outsider, or non-Christian, this language might cause some problems.

But what the liberal and postmodern theologians are doing is gauging their position based upon their own subjective, modern ideas of who God is and how God should act. Very few times will you encounter a person holding a position such as this enforcing their perspective with the whole counsel of God, or even a small portion of Scripture.

What is being forgotten in the midst of this debate is the holiness of God. Considering the depths of what it took to atone for the sins of God’s people, we cannot look past the holiness of God if we truly desire to understand the atonement. The blood sacrifice is a direct result of the relationship that God’s holiness shares with sin. God’s holiness is, in the most severe sense, opposed to sin. If we keep this at the forefront of our minds, while the Penal Substitutionary Atonement might seem extreme, the holiness of God demanded the sacrifice.

It is possible to spend the next two years posting about the nature of the atonement and what I have put forth in this short essay, but we do not have the time for that. The takeaway from this for all of us is the relationship that we have with God before Christ. Our relationship with God before Christ is marked by wrath. We are by nature enemies of God, children of destruction. Now, because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we are adopted into His family as His children, coheirs with Christ to an eternal inheritance as Christ stood in our place as our substitute and absorbed the wrath of God for us. “Full atonement can it be, Hallelujah! What a Savior.”

Active Theology

Here we go again….. As with most people that have blogs, I have failed to maintain mine over the last couple of years. A variety of factors might be mentioned as to why I have not successfully been a “blogger,” but we do not have the time to discern all of my failed attempts to be a writer on the internet. Regardless, I am going to give it another shot.

You might notice that this site is no longer, but now has a new domain name For quite some time, I have been wrestling with the idea of starting my own “personal” website, with my own “personal” domain name in hopes that it might be more helpful in fulfilling my overall intended purpose. The heading “Active Theology” conveys my hearts desire for all of those that operate under the heading of “Christian.”

In my theological studies, and in my experience as a Pastor, I have constantly come to grips with the reality that a lot of people have not been equipped with good theology and doctrine from God’s Word. Part of the reason I have come to this conclusion is accompanied by the way that beliefs are carried out. I think that good theology and good doctrine will by nature be practiced within one’s everyday life. With that being said, theology and doctrine is not just something that we study in order to develop a bigger brain, or know fancy words, or be able to argue this theological point over another, we study theology because it helps us to know God better and in knowing God better it helps us to love our neighbor’s better, i.e. our theology becomes active.

So, my hope of this site now launching once more is to convey a variety of things to my 2  readers (my wife and her mother). This will be accomplished through individual posts, guest posts, book reviews, cultural engagement, and anything else I think I might want to interject in between. By God’s Grace I can stick with it and communicate truth in a way that impacts all of our lives.

A Weak Culture Leads To A Weak Church

Skinny Guy Workout

I think that it is safe to say that we live in a weak culture. What I mean by weak culture is very simple; one cannot speak up against anything in our culture without being condemned and labeled as someone that is spewing hate or discrimination. Because of this, very few will confront anyone with any issues as most are afraid of confrontation. Not only are they afraid of confrontation, confrontation has been ruled out in our weak culture and deemed as a hate crime. We can no longer say this is wrong or that is wrong because we are being discriminating, and with this being the case we must let grown men go into women’s bathrooms with little girls, lest we be guilty of discriminating against them if we say that can’t. This is truly absurd.

So that’s the culture. The culture is weak. The culture says that you cannot say no. Thus, with this type of weak culture, there is no ground floor to the immorality that awaits. There can be no crime, there can be no laws, there can be no code of morality, because our culture is weak and to say otherwise would be discriminating to who someone truly is and what they believe.

But, if we are not careful, our culture will infiltrate the church. What I would actually submit to you is that the culture has infiltrated the church. We have weak churches. Our churches have become nothing more than an extension of the culture. We do not want to preach sermons that harp on sin too much because people will get upset or it will hurt their feelings. We do not want to hold people to personal holiness as Scripture calls us to because we do not want to hurt their feelings or say that they are wrong in one aspect or another. Church discipline has become  a foreign concept within God’s Church because we want to avoid confrontation at all cost, lest we become guilty of hurting someone’s feelings and driving them away. With this being the case in the majority of American Churches today, we have unconsciously thrown out the Word of God and made it a nice book that we can pick and choose what to believe. For example, when it comes to church discipline, it is as if our churches have looked at those passages and said, “well this is one particular way to do it, but we aren’t going to do it at all.” I am sure that Jesus and Paul were only making suggestions to the church and not actually putting forth a prescription for God’s people to follow…..right?

So Christian what will it be? Will we continue to have churches that are nothing more than quasi-moral reflections of our weak culture, or will be cease to be weak and do what the Bible says and stand upon God’s Word, holding people to a life of personal holiness, correcting where correction is needed, extending grace where grace is needed, getting back to the church discipline that God laid out within His Word and see Him truly bless His church as His church commits to remain faithful to His Word? We have a lot of people on church rolls that go to hell everyday, in large part because the church has failed to do what the Lord has called the church to do. Should we tell them? Or should we just let them burn? Weakness would say, well we do not want them to get upset. Scripture would affirm what Charles Spurgeon would say, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

A Letter To My Church

Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

Church Family,

In Acts 4, Peter and John have been brought before a Council of some very important leaders to be questioned about their teachings and the truths that they were proclaiming about Jesus. At this point in Acts, the Holy Spirit has already come and the power of God was being displayed tremendously as many were coming to faith in Christ. Peter and John were common men, fishermen by trade, that had a love and affection for Christ and the Gospel because they had been transformed by its saving power. Thus, it was said of them, “And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

That sentence is staggering when we attempt to apply it to our own lives. When people look at us, do they recognize that we have been with Jesus? If we are truly born-again and living our lives in the pursuit of holiness through the Word of God, I do believe that people will look at us and recognize that we have been with Jesus. In the good times, in the bad times, and in the midst of everyday life, I want people to be able to look at me and recognize that I have been with Jesus. What about you?

I want to challenge you to ask yourself that question. Can people look at you and tell that you have been with Jesus? If the answer is no, I would encourage you to repent and seek first the Kingdom of God. If the answer is yes, continue seeking Christ through His Word as He is faithfully producing fruit within your life. As God’s people we are to regard personal holiness as having the utmost importance within our lives. If we are believers we are to flee from sin, repent of sin, and pursue Christ. We are to hold each other accountable as our Christian life is designed to be lived out with the church. If we are to be a people that say that the Bible is our highest degree of authority, then we are to live it out and stand upon it no matter the cost. Let’s be a church and a people that pursue Christ above all else. Let’s be a church and a people that have been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be a church and a people that regard the Scripture for what it is, our ultimate authority. Let’s be a church and a people that when people look at us “they recognize that they had been with Jesus.” I love you all!

Jesus Is Lord,

Andy Baker

Build Your House on the Rock

building onthe rock

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house not he rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” –  Matthew 7:24-27

Matthew 5-7 records Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Upon the conclusion of this sermon, He puts forth this teaching about building ones house upon the rock. What Jesus is doing here is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to who someone will follow. If you build your spiritual house and every aspect of your life upon Jesus, then when the storms of this life come your way, you will not be moved. Sure, you may take on some wind or water damage, but your house will still stand. But, if you do not do what I tell you and you attempt to follow any sort of other worldly system, maybe your own personal opinions, your own way of doing things, another religion, or anything else, you are as a man that builds his house on sand. When the storm comes, the house will be destroyed.[

As believers we are to build our houses on the very words of Christ. We have been gracefully given the Word of God, the Bible, and we are to stake everything that we are upon God’s Word. Our entire lives and everything that we do is to be reflective of the Word of God as it is to dictate every aspect of our lives. We are to obey God’s Word, we are to submit to God’s Word, we are to study God’s Word, we are to know God’s Word, and God’s Word is to direct us in everything. Thus, when the storms come, the house will not be shifted.

This is the same for the church. A church that does not build its house upon the Rock is not a biblical church. A church that does not build its house upon the Rock is a worldly church. When the storms come it will be shifted. When trials come, it will fall. The storms come in various ways. What I have come to find out in my short time here on earth is that many of the storms that face a church come from within a church. The way that tradition has taught us about church has not necessarily been the right way in some areas, thus, when the shift towards the Bible begins to take place, there are some storms that rise up. But I am confident of this, the church that builds it foundation upon the Rock will not be shifted nor will it fall. The church that stands upon the Word of God, no matter what trials or tribulations will come, will be blessed by God because that church will stand no matter what. God’s way is always the right way.

Build your lives upon the Rock which is Christ. Do not call yourself a Christian and refuse to bow to His authority and refuse to submit to His Word. Christ clearly tells us, if you do not do what I tell you, you are like a man that is building His house among the sand and when the storms of this life come, it will be destroyed.

Soli Deo Gloria!

All Is His


“The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” – Psalm 24:1

I like to travel, but I hate to fly (doesn’t make sense). I do not hate to fly because I am afraid that the plane will crash and burn, but I hate to fly because I do not like being enclosed with all of those people in this small space that I cannot exit anytime I want. Anyways, that’s besides the point…

The point is, I have seen some parts of this world that are truly amazing. While I haven’t traveled as much out of country as many others that I know, I have been to some places that I wouldn’t mind being a more frequent visitor (St. Maarten!!). I am a huge fan of the beach, and with that being the case, the Caribbean is my ideal destination. It’s so beautiful with it’s crystal clear, amazingly blue waters. When I see the water it as if they are calling out to me to jump in because they look so refreshing. The landscape, the trees, the mountains, the rocks, the sand, the water, the sky, the sunset, the sunrise, everything seems so perfect. It seems so perfect because they all have something so glorious in common, they are God’s.

Everything in this earth is His. This is truly remarkable. From what is seemingly the most beautiful element of all creation to the smallest and what we may consider the most meaningless and ugly element of all creation, it all belongs to God. He created all of it. Not only is all of the creation and this earth His, but everything on the earth and within the earth is His as well. All of the people are His to do with what He pleases. All of the stuff is His. Everything that you think that you “own” is His. You own nothing. It truly is mind blowing that if you sit here and read this blog, you are looking at a computer or phone, or something, and then everything that you look up and look around at, everything around you, and even you, right now, at this minute, is God’s. He owns it all! Pretty powerful isn’t it.

He own’s it all and He is a fountain of all good. Valley of Vision page 11, a prayer entitled “The All-Good”, here is an exert, “Though bottomless fountain of all good, I give myself to thee out of love, for all I have or own is thine, my goods, family, church, self, to do with as thou wilt, to honor thyself by me, and by all mine.” Everything we own is God’s and it is all for Him to do as He pleases. When we truly step back and realize that we own absolutely nothing and we posses nothing apart from His grace and His mercy, it will change our perspective on how we live, how we act, how we treat others, how we “cling” to our possessions, and everything else. The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.