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Mother’s Day 2024

Mother's Day 2024

Sermon Transcript

Moms play a special role forming and informing who we are today. As we celebrate Mother's Day, we take a look at the impact of a mother and join Pastor Marty Baker as he recounts some personal memories from his childhood.

Since becoming a world-class quartet in 2004, Il Divo sold over 25 million albums and secured 150 gold and platinum discs.  Their international roots and classical musical training give them a distinct, powerful sound.  One group tenor, Urs Buhler, is from Switzerland, the baritone, Carlos Marin, hails from Spain, and Sebastien Isambard is from France. In contrast, another tenor, David Miller, comes from the United States.  I, a lover of oldies rock, amazingly started listening to them when I moved here from California in 2008.  I especially love their song, Nella Fantasia.  It is haunting, beautiful, and emotionally moving.

One day, as I struggled with moving across the country and leaving friends and family behind, I encountered their song Mama.

Mama thank you for who I am
Thank you for all the things I'm not
Forgive me for the words unsaid
For the times I forgot

Mama remember all my life
You showed me love, you sacrificed
Think of those young and early days
How I've changed along the way (along the way)

And I know you believed and I know you had dreams
And I'm sorry it took all this time to see
That I am where I am because of your truth
And I miss you, yeah, I miss you

©Emi Blackwood Music Inc., Phatfly Misik Ab, Pop Notch Music Ab, Windswept Music (London) Limited, Hipgnosis Sfh I Limited

I remember sitting in my Honda Accord in our staff parking and crying while I listened to this beautiful melody.  The words said everything I could ever say to my mother. Each line contained a big thank you from a grateful son. The song moved me so much that I sent a copy to my mother with a note saying, " Mom, this song represents how I feel about you. I love you.  Here is a little taste of that fantastic song.

What would your lyrics include if you wrote a song saying thank you to your mother? What points would you make? Saying thank you is what believers in Jesus Christ should be about. After all, Paul gave us clear direction when he remarked to the Thessalonians,

18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18 NAS)

God’s will is for us to be thankful, and most certainly that spirit, that activity must be directed to the one person who has impacted us the most, our mothers.  Sure, some have had difficult mothers, so it is hard to think of how to thank them.  If this is the case, ask for the Lord to show you a few things you could honestly say to her, and if she is gone, decide today to live in such a way your children will have much to be thankful for as they think about you.  Others were fortunate to have great, godly mothers who made such a lasting positive impact on their lives they have a lengthy list of “thank yous.”

As I think about my list, many things come to mind:

  • Thank you, Mom, for being a woman of prayer. I graduated from college and grad school because you kept me before God’s throne.
  • Thank you, Mom, for always providing great summer vacations I will never forget.
  • Thank you, Mom, for providing excellent, tasty meals even when our family had little money.
  • Thank you, Mom, for allowing all our friends to live at our home basically.
  • Thank you, Mom, for being our Uber driver for years and trusting us with your cars when we got our licenses.
  • Thank you, Mom, for attending some of my baseball games, even though you didn’t understand what was happening.
  • Thank you, Mom, for supporting me as I moved through Cub Scouts, Webelos, and Boy Scouts . . . even though you didn’t like the great outdoors.
  • Thank you, Mom, for loving my father, Al. He was quite a southern and godly man.

Like you, I could add much to the list, but for our purposes on this Mother’s Day, I want to zero in on three specific areas where I’d like to thank my mother, Sue.  I know my thank yous are personal, but they might be yours too, and they might also serve to teach you a little bit about what constitutes a great, godly mother.

Mom: Thank You For Believing In Biblical Discipline

Please, don’t laugh.  If my mother and father had not been committed to raising us according to the biblical discipline model, I would not be a pastor today.  I doubt I would have been married to my lovely wife, Liz, for forty-four years, either. According to the family, as I’ve told you before, I would have probably done a lot of prison time because of my strong will and desire to fight at the drop of a hat.

James Dobson didn’t write The Strong-willed Child until 1984 when I was in my fourth and final year at Dallas Theological Seminary. My mother could have written this book because she applied the biblical concepts it articulates years before Dobson put them in print. And she used those concepts to me.  What are some of those concepts? Here are some insightful verses:

24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (Prov. 13:24 NAS)

18 Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death. (Prov. 19:18 NAS)

30 Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts. (Prov. 20:30 NAS)

15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. (Prov. 22:15 NAS)

15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. (Prov. 29:15 NAS)

17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul. (Prov. 29:17 NAS)

Many of these life-changing concepts and commands from God are lost on our culture today.  Today, many parents are afraid to level any discipline on their children for fear it may break their spirit or discourage them. They would instead attempt to reason with the rebels. God knows, thinks, and instructs His people differently. He knows we are born rebellious, selfish sinners (Rom. 3:23) and need correction of various types to break the self-will. The result is, hopefully, a will that is malleable, resulting in a child who is compliant, obedient, trustworthy, peaceful, and respectful.

I’m thankful for my mother, who understood what she needed to do to get this sinner’s attention.  I am a better man because of her and who I am because of her.  Consider one life historical scenario.

My parents stepped out financially around 1966 on my father’s meager government salary and purchased a relatively new home in a nice area of town. The tract home cost a whopping $16,000 if memory serves me. One day, my parents took me and my two sisters to walk through their new purchase. What possessed me to take multicolored crayons and scribble all over the walls in the dining room and down the hall is beyond me. It just seemed like a good idea at the moment.  My mother and father didn’t see it that way. A verbal reprimand followed by a spanking caused me to see the error of my ways and set me on a course to never do that again.  Had my mother, who was in my mind, the enforcer (my father was typically the disciplinary backup because he was gone most of the time with his job) not disciplined me effectively, I would have gone on to engage in bigger and better forms of destruction.

So, thank you, Mom, for staying with me all those years.  You led the charge in dealing with my strong will so I could be reshaped and molded into a respectful, obedient, and godly man.  Had you not been in my life, there is no telling where I’d be, but I wouldn’t be here doing what I’m doing for the Lord.  If you are a mother here today with a child like I used to be, I’m here to challenge you to have hope.  Be committed to God’s model for child rearing and consistently apply His timeless principles, and you will raise a child who will ultimately delight your soul.

Mom: Thank You For Being A Wise Counselor & Guide

I can’t count the times I’ve gone to my mother for wisdom and counsel. And this is how it should be. As a mother, you should have a faith relationship with Jesus Christ first. Second, you should study, know, and apply His timeless Word to your life so you mature and grow wise in His ways. This will make Him proud of your progress while equipping you to help your children choose wise living over foolish living.

Concerning the acquisition of wisdom and the importance of seeking wise counsel, several verses from Solomon’s pen in Proverbs set it all in perspective:

5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, (Prov. 1:5 NAS)

 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. (Prov. 12:15 NAS)

 20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. (Prov. 19:20 NAS)

A foolish child hears what his parents say and arrogantly thinks he is wise, but they are foolish. A wise child is the converse of this.  He goes to his parents, especially if they know and walk with God, and seeks their insight into issues, problems, temptations, and opportunities he faces.  Armed with their sagacious analysis, he heads out to take the proverbial high road instead of the low road, which most take because it's easy, not personally costly, and allows them to enjoy sinful activity.

Again, I don’t know how often I’ve sought my mother's godly insight and wisdom about my life.

  • Mom, what should I do when I’m bullied at school?
  • Mom, should I date a certain non-Christian girl who wants to date me? Is there anything potentially wrong with this?
  • Mom, what do you think I should do with my life?
  • Mom, do you think I should preach in Mexico with our high school team called YUGO. (
  • Mom, how should I respond to a friend at Denny’s, where I work, who is a male prostitute at night in Mexicali, Mexico?
  • Mom, do you think I should break up with my girlfriend from high school while I’m away at college?
  • Mom, what do you think about me dating the new girl next door named Liz?

Once I married Liz, I switched and started leaning on my wife for wisdom and counsel; however, my mother has continued to play a pivotal part in my (our) lives.  Don’t think I haven’t gone to her with new questions:

  • Mom, how do you think I should respond to those who spread vicious lies about me to demean me and build up their power in the church?
  • Mom, what do you think about Liz, me, and Nathan moving to Virginia to pastor a church near D.C.? Her response: I’d rather you live far from me and in God’s perfect will than close to me and out of God’s will.   That’s wisdom.
  • Mom, what do you think about the difference between the Christian people in the D.C. area and those in California? Answer: The Christian people in D.C. are typically somebody who act like nobody, while those in California are nobody who act like somebody. That’s wisdom. When she encountered people here, she saw humility; we did too.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.  A wise, godly mother is a precious commodity in a child’s life.  They grow and mature when they seek her wisdom and counsel while avoiding pitfalls, problems, and potentially unhelpful situations.  So, thank you, Mom, for being there when I needed more light thrown on a situation.  Because of you, I’ve been spared much heartache, enjoyed life, and learned much from affliction and adversity.  Therefore, the question to you mothers today is straightforward: Will you be a mother who walks with God and helps counsel your children to follow a life path that honors Him?  Those mothers who live in this fashion are shaping a new generation of saints to accomplish much for the Lord’s kingdom.

Mom: Thank You For The Gift Of Music

As I’ve told you before, our home was all about music. My two sisters and I played the piano, so you can imagine how often we touched the ivories in the living room. When one child got up from playing, within a few minutes, another child sat down on the well-worn wooden bench. My older sister, Marla, also became involved in singing groups in High School, so we frequently had many young people huddled around our Hammond spinet piano, singing and laughing.

I’m dating myself, but we also owned one of those six-foot massive wooden record player cabinets. My parents placed it right in front of the picture window in the living room. One half held all of our 78 albums and 45s, while the other half housed the record player. Massive speakers, of course, were built into the sides of the unit and would blast you out of the room. My mother typically played Christian music in the house.

  • 2nd Chapter of Acts
  • The Imperials
  • The Gathiers
  • Sandi Patty
  • Church Girard
  • Tennesse Ernie Ford

To name a few.

As I grew up, I enjoyed all the rock groups of the time.

  • Cat Stevens
  • The Rolling Stones
  • T-Rex
  • Santana
  • Jimmi Hendrix
  • Sly and the Family Stone
  • The Beatles
  • The Kinks
  • The Who
  • Steppenwolf
  • Elton John (My mother bought me the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road double album for a whopping 10 dollars one Christmas. What a sacrifice.).
  • Led Zeppelin (I had all the albums: Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin IV)

To name a few.

From this exposure to sacred and secular music, I learned that secular music moved my head while sacred music moved my heart. The latter didn’t answer the tough questions of life, while the latter did. The former didn’t usher me into God’s presence, while the latter did. The former didn’t bring me inner comfort during personal trials and adversity, while the latter did.

As I look back over my life now as a sixty-six-year-old man, I can safely say the sacred music poured into me as a child, teen, and young man has built me up, encouraged me, and given me many times of meaningful worship of the living God over the years.  True, I still like secular music. I am very eclectic in my listening. I might find solace at times in a good Nocturne by Chopin, while at other times, I feel like driving and listening to Nickelback.  However, nothing touches my soul, challenges me, ministers to my inner spirit, and gives me hope and direction like the sacred music my mother helped build into my life.

The Old Rugged Cross was the first hymn I learned as a child. How could I not be challenged by the chorus? So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown. When I would hear my mother play Under His Wings on the piano, I would gain insight into how to weather life’s trials: Under His wings, I am safely abiding, Tho’ the night deepens and tempests are wild, Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me. He has redeemed me, and I am His child. Led Zeppelin has got nothing on this song. When we sang Give Your Best to the Master, I knew what I needed to do as a saint.  God needed my best, always.

Give of your best to the Master;

Give of the strength of your youth;

Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor

Into the battle for truth.

Jesus has set the example,

Dauntless was He, young and brave;

Give Him your loyal devotion;

Give Him the best that you have.


Give of your best to the Master;

Give of the strength of your youth;

Clad in salvation’s full armor,

Join in the battle for truth.

Written By Howard B. Grose (September 5, 1851-May 19, 1939)

I’ve given my whole like to the essence of this old hymn.

My mother and father liked to play the songs of J.T. Adams and Men of Texas in our home. They owned several albums, so we often heard them in the house.  I know the songs are old. I know we don’t sing this way anymore. Yet, those songs, more than any other, are ones I still find strength and guidance from.  Two in particular stand out to me because they challenge me never to give up being the best disciple I can be for Jesus Christ. I’ve enjoyed the first song for over fifty years. E. Edwin Young wrote it in 1923 titled I Wonder, Have I Given My Best To Jesus?

I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,

Who died upon the cruel tree?

To think of His great sacrifice at Calv'ry!

I know my Lord expects the best from me.


How many are the lost that I have lifted?

How many are the chained I've helped to free?

I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus,

When He has done so much for me?

As I live each day, in my heart and head, I hear those words: “Have I done my best for Jesus?” I especially like the way J. T. Adams and his backup group sing this old spiritual song.

Further, as I experienced much trouble as a disciple of Christ and a shepherd, I have found much comfort from another Adams number called Follow Me, written in 1953 by Ira F. Stamphill. Here is the challenging opening verse:

I traveled down a lonely road
And no one seemed to care,
The burden on my weary back
Had bowed me to despair,
I oft complained to Jesus
How folks were treating me,
And then I heard Him say so tenderly.
"My feet were also weary, 
Upon the Calvary road;
The cross became so heavy,
I fell beneath the load,
Be faithful, weary pilgrim,
The morning I can see,
Just lift your cross and follow close to me.

This song properly focuses my life struggles by calling me to think of what Christ endured to redeem me. The same applies to you.

Years ago, I copied these old songs from albums to a cassette tape. I now listen to them when I’m in my garage working.  On more than one occasion, they have stopped me in my tracks and brought tears to my eyes when I think of what they are saying.  Thank you, Mom, for building these sacred songs into my life.  I am a better man because of them.

I know many of these old songs, and these singers are not known anymore, but they are known to me because of the influence of my parents, and they still minister to my soul as I make my earthly pilgrimage toward heaven.  The question now is straightforward: What sacred music are you mothers building into the lives of your children, music which will pick them up when they fall, music that will encourage them when they face affliction, music that will strengthen them as they face disease and death, music that will give them inner peace, hope, and joy?

Lord, thank you for mothers who know and walk with you. Thank you for mothers who love their children unconditionally and seek to raise them into young people who revere you, enjoy and obey your Word, and love you.  Lord, thank you for giving me a mother who was giving toward me.  May we all take time this day to tell our mothers precisely why we are thankful for them.