We Miss You Cowboy

Last year I received a phone call from Jimmie. 

Through tears he told me that our friend Cowboy had passed. 

I remember sitting later in Jimmie’s lawn and our friend Ben came by and we all kind of stared at nothing together. 

I met Cowboy for the first time when he was speaking at a church that boasted it had been around since the 1800’s.  His giant hand shook mine, and his gruff yet loving southern accent made me feel instantly welcome.  He took us out for ice cream after, and we sat and chatted and joked and laughed.  He shared about the discipleship schools he was running in Alabama and his work in Haiti.  

Whenever we ran a RED School we would have Cowboy come and teach on the Father Heart of God.  He always called it “The Father’s Heart of God.”  Which I thought was a strange way to say it, but he taught it like no other. 


His teaching was good, but it wasn’t his teaching.  It was his authenticity, the fact that he actually carried a Father’s heart. 

I remember one time he stopped the class and his teaching, asked permission from Jimmie and the rest of the class to focus in on one person.   This large man, knelt down in front of them, with a plastic table separating them, grabbed their hands, made eye contact, and in a hushed tone ministered the love of the Father to this person. 

That’s what made his teaching impactful.  It wasn’t just teaching, it was action.  And it wasn’t just action when it was convenient or someone was looking, it was action that flowed from knowing how far out of His way the Father went for Cowboy, that caused Cowboy to stop– and notice– and act. 

Listen to the interview I did with Cowboy here


We miss you man.  I pray that everyone you know and impacted, is spurred forward to being intentional in being interrupted, to love the one God has placed in their paths. 

Gently Instruct and Keep Learning

Don’t take for granted what you’ve been taught. Not everyone has had the same privilege to learn what you know.

As I wrote this thought down this morning, I felt like the Lord spoke “gently instruct” to my mind and so I looked up that phrase knowing it was in the Bible.  Here it is.

2 Tim 2:22 Timothy, run away from youthful desires. Instead, direct your passion to chasing after righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord with pure hearts. 23 Excuse yourself from any conversations that turn into foolish and uninformed debates because you know they only provoke fights. 24 As the Lord’s slave, you shouldn’t exhaust yourself in bickering; instead, be gentle—no matter who you are dealing with—ready and able to teach, tolerant without resentment, 25 gently instructing those who stand up against you. Besides, the time may come when God grants them a change of heart[c] so that they can arrive at the full knowledge of truth. 26 And if they come to their senses, they can escape the devil’s snare and walk freed from his captivity and evil bidding.

It’s easy for me to think or assume that others should know what I know, but they haven’t lived my life.  And I’ve sat under some amazing teaching.  So if they don’t know, it’s our job to gently instruct, which works well if the person wants to learn.

And if they don’t, then thats fine, that’s their choice.  But it should make us ask ourselves, am I currently teachable?  Am I looking around to be a every day learner?  Am I receptive to what others are trying to teach me?  Am I willing to sit through some of the fluff, and bad presentation of peoples blabbering to get a gem?

If you’re not learning you’re not growing, and if you’re not growing your stagnant and dying.

Deep and heavy thoughts for this grey Monday afternoon.  Enjoy!

Bowling With A 9 y/o Homeless Kid

Another Friday had rolled around, this was going to be my last time hanging out with B.  (Read part 1 here.)   before we left.  I wanted to take him to a movie, because I didn’t think he probably got to go to the movies very much. 

I picked up Ben at the YWAM base and thought, I should run to the bathroom real fast, but I ignored that.  Don’t ignore the voice of wisdom.  I just had to shishi.  (That’s how people in Hawaii call going numero uno, I know when I first heard it, it sounded like a better name for numero dos… but I digress) 

The carpool lane to pick up kids from school was so backed up that I was on a major road and not even on the street where the school was when we got in line.  I was kicking myself for not going the bathroom and I told Ben.  I probably told him every 30 seconds.  What a teachable moment… the Bible personifies wisdom as having a voice… and the voice of wisdom was speaking to me at the YWAM base to GO THE BATHROOM and I was a fool and did not listen. 

Anyway… we picked up Bless and headed to the movie theater.  I parked and walked quickly to the bathroom.  We all chee-hoo’d in the parking garage, because that’s what you do in spaces that echo is shout.  (Chee hoo is like the Yee-Haw of Hawaii.) 

We stood in line to get tickets, and I couldn’t see the movie that I wanted to see listed.  There weren’t a ton of kids movies options… I don’t remember the names of them now, but one was really more targeted at girls, and the other cartoon was the one I wanted to go see.  When we went up to the ticket window the movie we were going to see wasn’t listed.  I asked about it, and they said that they pulled the movie.  Oh…

We sat on the steps and thought about what to do next. 

“Are you hungry B? If you could eat anything what would you want?” 

“I’m not really hungry right now.” 

“What do you want to do?” 

“Um…. I don’t know.” 

I had an idea.  I had seen Lucky Strike being built at the mall but hadn’t gone in yet.  So we drove over to the mall.  I was pretty sure that there was a bowling alley there.  We walked in and asked how things work.  The bowling alley was on the floor above and the hostess recommended that if we were going to bowl we do that first.  So we went upstairs and paid, and got shoes and socks, and got our lane.  Of the four lanes, there was one other that was taken.  We located a light ball for B. to use.  B. had never bowled before.  So I showed him what to do.  He was hesitant to try, but did so reluctantly.  We ended up putting the bumpers up for him.  None of us cleared 100.  B. asked how much bowling cost.  It wasn’t cheap, nothing in Hawaii is cheap.  I didn’t realize at the time but this was him asking to play another round, I didn’t catch it.  I’m still to used to my direct East Coast way of communicating, and not the Asian influenced hinting at things.  He really enjoyed bowling. 

We went downstairs to the restaurant and got a booth.  It’s also an arcade, so the flashing lights and noise was a bit overwhelming.  We looked at a menu.  B. said he wanted poke.  Market price.  I tried to suggest something else, more kid friendly, and maybe more budget friendly.  Nope, B. wanted poke.  (Pronounced po-kay)  Cubes of raw ahi.  A delicace.  A homeless 9 year old kid wants sushi grade ahi. 

For some reason this messed with me.  I remember a friend telling me when he was on food stamps in Hawaii that he would go and get poke all the time too, telling me it was the best he had ever eaten.  Wichael could see my internal struggle, “Hey B. what if we split the poke bowl?”  B. agreed.  We also got the kalua pork nachos which our waiter suggested to us.  B. loved those.  I could load a game token card up when I paid my bill.  These places are so smart, if you change currencies enough times, you forget how much you’re paying to play. 

I let B. and Wichael go peruse the game floor while I paid the bill, I wanted B. to look at every game and decide which one he wanted to play before starting so he didn’t miss out on the best ones.  B. came back to me a minute later, eyes wide with a smile on his face.  He had left the napkin tucked into his shirt.  He was so excited. 

I paid the bill and found them, and watched an enthralling game of air hockey, where B at the buzzer beat Wichael.  I’m pretty sure Wichael was trying too… eh maybe not. 

I had a meeting that evening that I had to get to, and I still had to get B. home, and Wichael back to the YWAM base, and pick up Jess and head to our evening meeting.  We played a few more games with B. and headed on our way. 

I got to see B. again at church the next Sunday to say goodbye.  It was my last Sunday at church in Hawaii. 

Last I heard his parents didn’t pick him up from school, and the school called the cops.  CPS picked him up and put him in foster care on a different part of the island.  I guess he’s back with his parents now, but only if his step dad does rehab.  Being a typical addict he can’t take responsibility for himself and is blaming this all on B.  Wichael has been able to spend sometime with B. since then.  When the subject of family comes up, B. avoids its.  “Let’s just play.”  or “Let’s talk about something else.” 

It’s sobering to think about the fact that B’s. story is not really unique.  Unique to us maybe who have had solid upbringings.  But there are many kids all over the world that are growing up in chaos.  I’m grateful to Ms. E who on her own reaches out to these kids. 

I don’t know where to go from here, what to write, what to feel.  How do we stop the cycle of poverty and addiction? 

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

What strange imagery, lending to the Lord. 

I guess all we can do is pray, and then be obedient if God asks us to do something.

Ask God today what it looks like for you to be kind to the poor.  And if you’re having trouble being kind to the poor ask God to reveal to you why that is. 

Pray for B.

My Day With A 9 Y/O Homeless Kid

A couple weeks ago, a woman, we’ll call her Ms. E, at church came up to me while we were cleaning up church and asked me what we were doing while we were here. I told her a bit of what we were doing.

She went on to tell me she has been spending some time with a 9 year old boy who was homeless, and was looking for good male role models for him and asked if I’d consider spending some time with him.  I told her that I wasn’t going to be here much longer, but that I’d pray about it.  Ms. E told me that this age range  is such a crucial time to spend with kids, because basically after 12 their trajectories are pretty much set.

I didn’t want to start something and not finish it, especially with a kid that might not have much consistency in his life anyway.  I thought I’d check with Ben Wichael one of the YWAM guys I met on this trip and see if he’d be interested in going with me a couple times together and then taking over.

Anyway, we put a date on the calendar to make it happen.  I picked up Wichael from the YWAM base, and cast some vision for our time.  I used to do martial arts as a kid and remembered talking to one of the instructors I’ve kept in touch with.  He shared with me how one of their goals in the 30 min class was to give every student appropriate touch, like a high five, along with a positive affirmation by name, 5 times during each class.

No wonder everyone like karate classes so much.  Who knew that they were being so intentional about that, I just thought they really liked me.

Anyway, I set that as a goal for us.  Fist bumps, high fives and encouragement.  And I thought outloud, “What was the one lesson I wanted to impart to this kid in our hang out time today?”  Wichael and I discussed it.

We arrived at the school with some help of Wichael’s gps on his phone, and pulled in the carpool lane.  We saw B.  (We’ll just call him B.)  I rolled down my window and one of the teachers asked gruffly, who are you here for?  B. I responded, and she turned around and shouted his name.  His eyes lit up in excitement, Uncle Ben!  Uncle…. his voice kind of trailed off, and he hoped in the car.  Wichael and I were amazed that complete strangers picked up a student from a school and no one batted an eyelash.  We also wondered what children’s services thought about kids who were homeless.

“How was school?”  We asked.  He responded saying that he had PE today and talked a bit about what they did.

Since I heard him say Ben’s name, I asked him if he remembered my name.  “Tim?”  He asked.

“Nope, Jim.”  I responded.

“Jim…” he said a few times emphasizing the J.

I sat with B. at church last week and Ms. E asked him to tell me what he wanted to be when he grew up.  He told me he wanted to be a NFL football player.  I asked him if he had a football and he said no.  I told him that we’d go get him one when we hung out but that he’d needed to remind me.

“B. I remember I told you to remind me about something when we hung out today, but I don’t remember what it was, do you remember?”

I could sense the excitement in his response.  “I remember! You told me we would go get a football today!”

“Oh yeah, that’s right, do you still want to go do that?”

“YES!”  He exclaimed.  “I thought maybe you’d forget, or that you wouldn’t want to do it anymore.”  He said his voice trailing off.

A time for a teachable lesson.  “Nope, do you know what good men do B.?”  “Good men keep their word do you know what that means?”

“It means that if you say you’re going to do something that you do it.”

“Right!, and thats what we want to be is good men, so I said I was going to do something and we’re going to go do it.”

“Okay.”  He said, I could still sense the smile in his voice.

I had a fleeting thought that it’d be cool to go over to the punchbowl cemetary, because it has an amazing view, but didn’t know exactly how to get there.  As we were trying to get back to a road I knew I took a turn, and lo and behold guess where we were?  The entrance to punchbowl.  We drove around and I showed B. and Wichael the views.

Still kind of lost we ended up going up Tantalus, neither B. nor Wichael had been up there either.  I thought that if you kept going up it looped around, Wichael was looking at his gps and kept telling me he didn’t think it was right.

“Ben, what do you think is another characteristic of a good man?”  I asked.  “A good man takes responsibility and doesn’t blame others.”  He said.  Great give me an example.  Ben went on to describe how if he threw a baseball and broke a window that he wouldn’t lie that he didn’t do it, but that he’d let the owner know what he did, and pay for the window.

I read an article this past week on how values need examples.  And I think that’s a really good point.

I gave an example of how I needed to admit I was wrong because I thought that Tantalus wrapped around, but it didn’t and how I needed to take responsibility for my mistake and apologize.  I asked B. if he understood and he didn’t respond.

I looked at Ben, and he turned to look at B.  “He’s out.”  He said.

We descended the winding roads of Tantalus to the sound of B. snoring.

Tears began to fill my eyes, I’m glad that he felt safe enough with us to take a nap.  I wondered what kind of sleeping conditions he had, and if it was hard to sleep being homeless.

We got to walmart about the time B. woke up.  We got to the sporting goods aisle and I told him he could pick any football he wanted.  I had to go to the bathroom and saw a large line, it was a line of people on the first of the month cashing their paychecks at walmart.  I came back and saw that B. had a football in his hand.  Which one did you pick out?  I asked him.  He showed me with a HUGE grin on his face, the green one.

The look of absolute delight on his face was well worth the $5 I was spending on the football, heck, I maybe would have maxed out my credit card buying the kid whatever he wanted if I knew he was going to be that happy over such a simple gift.

On the way out he asked me if he could take it out of the box, which I said he could and as soon as he was out the door it was out of the box, he threw the box in the trash.  “Do you want to go to a park and throw it around?”  I asked.  “Yes!”  He said, eyes still lit up in excitement.

We drove over to where we live, there’s a park that backs up to the condo we’re staying in.  On the way I asked him if he lived in a tent, he said tarps.  I asked him if it was hot, and he said sometimes.  I asked him what his mom did, and he told me that she cleaned 2 different hotels.  I asked her if he ever thanked her for working so hard, he said he didn’t, but agreed that he would.

I parked in the park and got out and we threw the ball around a bit.  It probably looked like that VW passat commercial where the dad is playing catch with his son.  Maybe not that bad, although Jess did tell me later “I saw you trying to run.”  I WAS running I told her.  She noted that I was holding my pants up, which is standard running stance for Jim Baker (right Aaron Reinard?)  I realized running around with B. that I really need to lose some weight before having kids because kids like to run around and right now, I surely don’t, although I never did, but I still need to loose some weight anyway.

I said hello to Jess through the back gate.  B. stood there in amazement.  “This is where you live??  Nah…” he said in disbelief.

While we were playing we saw another kid sitting on the curb drinking a soda.  His dad was sitting in the car looking at his phone.

“B. do you wanna ask him if he wants to play?”  And B. waved him over and the kid came running.  I was on B’s team and Wichael was on I’s team.  There was a homeless man sleeping in the park which B. pointed out, literally pointing and saying “homeless man.”  The homeless man groaned a few times saying “go away.”  But we kept playing since it was 3pm in a public park.

I had asked B on our way back from walmart if he could have anything for dinner what he’d have.  PIZZA!  He told me.  I asked him if he had a favorite pizza restaurant and he said dominos, and talked about their twisty bread.  So after throwing the football around we headed over to dominos and ordered some twisty bread and a medium pepperoni pizza.  He stared at the tv which was playing a western.  We ate and packed up the leftovers for him to take home.

I knew which park he lived in but I had never been there, and I didn’t exactly know where it was.  So I headed in that direction and B. helped us get there.  “Park over there by my grey car.”

“Oh your mom’s home?  Do you want us to get out and meet her?”  “Yes!”  I got out and he was grabbing his things.  “Thank you for the football and the pizza Uncle Jim.”  He said and smiled.

He ran up to his “house” and asked another auntie if his mom and dad were home.  At least that’s what I picked up since he wasn’t speaking English.

We walked up to some tarps hung over some pallets.  There were probably 5 or 6 of these makeshift homes there.  B’s step dad was passed out on a mattress, but his mother came out and greeted us, not making much eye contact, shaking our hands and saying thank you.

As we walked away I could hear his mom asking him what he had, and he said pizza.  I wonder if those few slices of pizza were going to feed the whole family tonight?

I got back to the car and was feeling pretty emotional.  It didn’t seem real that kids are living like that here in America.  I’ve seen that type of thing in third world countries, but not here.  Ben and I talked about it.  My guess is that probably 2/3 of the world lives like that.  Maybe that’s a bit high.  So it’s not the living conditions that are the worst part, I guess you can be a functional human with minimal shelter, its just certainly not the norm for me as an American whose house I grew up in sold for over $300k.  But it’s sad that his father figure is a drug addict who can’t get out of bed.  But I guess you could own a real nice house and still have a dad that was addicted.

I wonder if this family is here legally?  I’m sure setting up a semi permanent structure in the park isn’t legal, but homelessness is way out of control here in Hawaii.  But if B. was born here in the US that means he’s a US citizen right?

I’m not the government, so it’s the governments job to do what the government has to do, I’m not advocating open borders, but while these individuals, made in God’s image, are on my radar and are here, it’s my job is to care for them the best I can.

Caring doesn’t mean enabling either.

It made me wonder if B’s mom when she came here thought that they’d be living in a park under some tarps.  Is this the dream that she had of immigrating to America?  What was her life like back in Micronesia?  Is this better?  Is this future better for B?

Jared really messed me up in his interview on Doing Ministry Well, when he asked the question, What does the Kingdom of God look like for these people?  Does it mean they have to have jobs, and houses?  Is that what the kingdom is about?

How do we as a church reach out to this family?  We can do things for B, but we’ve got to help the whole family unit.  And if we help the whole family unit, then we probably have to help his whole tarp village.

But how do we help and not hurt?  How do we care and not enable?

I wish I had answers to these questions, but I can’t find answers to these questions from afar.  And unfortunately I probably am only going to be able to see B. one more time before I head back to TN…

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Do you remember when angelfire was the webhosting platform and everyone had an animated gif of a yellow road sign that said under construction?

Anyway, we’re working with Bryan Switalski from SWISSCO to give jimjessbaker.com a facelift.  And we’re going to be working on releasing some great new content soon too:)

So if you stop by and see things amuck know it’s beauty in the making!

Aloha!

Jesus Thinks This Homeless Guy Is Amazing

Last night I made it down to Waikiki for the first time in quite a few weeks.

I got there a bit late and they were already handing out pizza.  I greeted Like and we chatted a bit.  RK and Like just celebrated an anniversary so we chatted about their visit to a hipster Mexican resturant.

A guy came through the line and made eye contact with me and exclaimed “RK’s the man.”

I positioned myself to run into this guy again as he came through the pizza line, I figured if he spoke to me, that’s my open door to chat.  I wondered actually if this was the same guy I met the very first week.  It wasn’t.  I asked him his name and he told me, this morning it slips my mind.  Our handshake didn’t really lead to more of a conversation.

I said hello to Cindy and then RK.  Bucko came over and chatted with me.  Bucko did some time and when you googled his name, mugshots would come up.  So RK has been helping him with SEO and getting some new positive content to the top of google when you search his name.  Today’s version of Galatians 2:20 and 2 Cor 5:17.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

17″Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Check out Bucko’s video here.  I love this guy.  Every week he’s genuinely excited to be alive and serving Jesus.

 

If you can’t see this video check it out on youtube here.

Bucko told me about how he’s helping a guy out who’s been clean for a few weeks, and is letting him sleep on his floor.

I also heard this testimony through the grapevine, but last night all the pieces came together… check this out.

Bucko was walking around in near Mccully park and pointed to a homeless guy and said “Jesus thinks your amazing!”

The guy walks towards him and is notably touched, tears in his eyes, and asks something along the lines of “Why’d you say that man?”

I’m not sure what else transpired, but Bucko went home and then felt the Lord leading him back to that park to talk more with the guy.  As it turns out the guy was going to kill himself that night, but hearing that Jesus thought he was amazing was enough to give him hope.  He was invited to Tuesday night pizza night and got baptized.

So last night I’m chatting with Bucko and trying to explain that I actually live in Clarksville TN, and we’re just visiting Honolulu, and Bucko lights up.

“Tennessee, let me introduce you to my friend James he’s from Tennessee.”

So I meet James, he’s from Chattanooga.  We chatted about my limited knowledge of Chattanooga, and some civil war history of which I really need to brush up on now that I live in the South.  He talked about how before moving to Hawaii he was a homeless outreach director, and how God has a sense of humor since he’s been homeless now for the past year.  He shared how he’s applying for another homeless outreach job here on Island and has submitted a bunch of the paperwork required.

James talked about how he’d learned a ton now that he’s actually experienced homelessness.  I asked him what things he’d do differently now when it comes to outreach.  He said he’d listen a lot more, and talk a lot less.  He used to think that he could judge people and know what services they needed.  And he also said the difference between a warm bottle of water, and an ice cold water is huge, that homeless people don’t see a lot of ice in their tents.

I found out later that evening that James is the guy that was going to commit suicide.  And met with Jesus because someone had the boldness to say that Jesus thought He was amazing.

I’ll be honest, this week, I didn’t want to go again.  But I’m always glad I did.

Homelessness is a huge and difficult problem.  But writing this reminds me of Matt 18.

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”  

What if in our judgement of societal issues, we moved towards individuals?

Is everyone down there getting back on their feet?  Nope.

Will people back slide?  Yup.

But if there’s one, is it worth it?

I guess that answer is up to us.

Who are you moving toward today in love?

juliaAugust 24, 2017 - 9:21 pm

wow

Some New Music I’ve Been Enjoying

I heard a song on the radio last night.  I recognized the guy’s voice from another song I heard previously and remember enjoying, but I didn’t know who it was.

I sensed anointing as he sung and thought, these guys have to be Christians.  Jess told me to turn it up so that we could hear the bands name at the end… Judah and the Lion.  Yup Christians.  :)

Really loving these two tunes.  I think I like the grit in his voice, and then the bright instruments, along with the syncopated vocals.  Refreshing.

Suits and Jacket

 

Take it all back 2.0 (live) cause live is usually always better.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments.

Great Free Bible Resource

 

I’m reading and listening to the book of Joshua right now.  Some people love this book, but to me it’s a little boring.  A lot of names of places, and kings, and people groups… oh history books.

I am sensing the consistency of God’s character though, the feeling of being up against impossible odds in different areas of our lives and having to simply trust that God is going before us, and He’s much larger than what we face.

I think sometimes we can get stuck by always approaching the Bible with a magnifiying glass.  It’s good to get in there and really study, but right now I’m trying to get even more familiar with the big picture.

I put my bible app on 2x speed and listen.  And I follow along at biblegateway.com

After getting pretty bored with Joshua I deicded to see if I could find a good overview of the book on youtube.  And it brought me to the bible project, which I had heard of before, Jess uses these sometimes when she teaches.

The Bible Project does a great job of helping you understand the BIG picture and I love how they addressed the big question of Joshua and the question about violence and genocide that seems to be a common objection.

I can’t find a podcast that talked about some of the absolite horrific things that Canaanites did in their culture, but when I do I will link it.  These people were not innoncent.

Anyway, I wanted to introduce you to the Bible Project if you haven’t heard of it yet and I hope it’s a good resource for you as you’re reading the Bible:)

What have you been reading in the Bible lately?  Comment and let us know.