Thoughts On Yesterday’s Memorial Day

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Yesterday in the US we took the day to remember our veterans who paid the ultimate price for our freedom and liberties, to that I say thank you.

However, I can’t help but think of the ONE who set the ultimate example of sacrifice and paid a price no one else could pay to buy us true freedom.

This verse from Revelation 12 also  reminds me of the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in following His example.  They loved not their own lives so much as to shrink back from death.

They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.

I am a Christian today because of the testimony of Rachel Scott a high school student killed in Columbine.  I found out yesterday that there’s controversy surrounding if anyone actually “said yes.”  But nonetheless, she was targeted because she was a Christian.

I think of the recent martyrdom of coptic Christians at the hands of ISIS.

Tertullian wrote “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”

I’m grateful for those that have given their lives in the interests of our national freedoms.  I am becoming more patriotic the older I get.  But we cannot forget the Christians world wide that have given their lives for the sake of the gospel.  I love our country, but the priority order of things for me is God then country.

Steve Gregg said this in one of his teachings and it really rings true to me.  “Patriotism is often a blatant form of idolatry.  Parents will send their kids off to die for their country but not to the mission field.”

Some, and I intentionally say some, because I know it’s not all, of the same Christians that herald the military  are the same ones that think missionaries should go get a real job.  Obviously no parent wants to send their child off to far away lands for whatever the reason.  I obviously have no understanding because I’m not a parent but I hope to be like the Moravians who stood at the shore and sent the missionaries from their community off with their coffins saying “That He would receive the just reward of His suffering.”

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Jess and I along with 40,000 other people descended upon Ala Moana beach park for the lantern festival last night.  It was strange to see the beach we most often go to filled with that many people.  It was even stranger for it to take almost 3 hours to get out of the parking garage.

I was amazed that during the festival there was but one lone American flag flying and that was from a vet that brought his own.  There was no real mention of America, I thought surely they would raise the flag and we’d sing the National Anthem or something.  It was more about ancestors and loved ones than service men.  I found it funny that barely anyone clapped when they recognized honored guests, one of whom was the state governor David Ige.

The hour ceremony before hand was televised, tv personalities articulated so clearly, polished and practiced that it seemed inauthentic.  Her holiness Shinso Ito presided over the ceremony.  She had a long speech that was translated that I wish they would have put a stricter time limit on.  It made me realize that I really live in a bubble and that many peoples world views are so drastically different than mine.  It made me wonder why the world is so open to other world religions but not Christianity.

Not everyone there was Buddhist, there was a conglomeration of Hawaiian traditions and buddhist traditions presented from the front.  Mainly it seemed that people were there for the collective experience.  People wrote words of remembrance for deceased loved ones on lanterns and sent them into the sea.

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My own family remembered a tragic loss this memorial day.  It’s been 3 years since we lost my niece Eryka to some pretty horrific circumstances.

But I have hope, and that hope is found in the gospel.  I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 15

 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

How did you celebrate your memorial day?  Let us know in the comments.

May 2015 Video Update!

IMG 5393 from Jim and Jess Baker on Vimeo.

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Please go rate our podcast 5 stars and leave a positive comment on Itunes!

 

Please bookmark this link for all of your Amazon shopping!   It costs you nothing extra but we get a small kick back as an afiliiate!

 

Respond with a video update!  And let us know how you’re doing!  Do you prefer the video update or the written update?  Let us know in the comments!

Gail D GrundstromMay 25, 2015 - 2:21 pm

I loved the video update! IT’s like being with you! it was so fun! I’ll get a little more tech savvy and I’ll send you one. Seriously, LOVED the video update. I like your written updates too.

Gail D GrundstromMay 25, 2015 - 2:23 pm

I loved the video update! IT’s like being with you! it was so fun! I’ll get a little more tech savvy and I’ll send you one. Seriously, LOVED the video update. I like your written updates too.

Russ BakerMay 25, 2015 - 2:40 pm

wow. that was great. We have listened to the podcasts and like them a lot.

Russ BakerMay 25, 2015 - 2:41 pm

wow. that was great. We have listened to the podcasts and like them a lot.

Russ BakerMay 25, 2015 - 3:21 pm

wow. that was great. We have listened to the podcasts and like them a lot.

Gail GrundstromMay 25, 2015 - 2:22 pm

I loved the video!!! love you too. -Gail

Russ BakerMay 26, 2015 - 3:15 am

wow. that was great. We have listened to the podcasts and like them a lot.

Russ BakerMay 26, 2015 - 10:05 am

wow. that was great. We have listened to the podcasts and like them a lot.

Russ BakerMay 26, 2015 - 10:05 am

wow. that was great. We have listened to the podcasts and like them a lot.

Gail D GrundstromMay 26, 2015 - 12:21 am

I loved the video update! IT’s like being with you! it was so fun! I’ll get a little more tech savvy and I’ll send you one. Seriously, LOVED the video update. I like your written updates too.

Russ BakerMay 26, 2015 - 12:40 am

wow. that was great. We have listened to the podcasts and like them a lot.

Sandra Edward Meehan-StilesMay 26, 2015 - 1:21 am

I loved the video! Dad and I are so proud. Can’t wait to see you both.

Jeanette L. KrebsMay 26, 2015 - 1:15 pm

Loved this!! I told Bella that you (uncle tio) was one of her daddy’s best friends, after his two shout outs, and she said that aunt Jess was her best friend!! :) …we can’t wait to have you a drivable distance from us again. And we’ll get you that video update soon, or maybe a Skype date!?

juliaJune 7, 2015 - 5:31 pm

I am trying to catch up on yall’s updates before I visit. I just enjoyed watching this video. :) and I think I do like it better than written updates. Can’t wait to see yall soon! And I will def go check out the podcasts…this week. 😀

Jim BakerJune 8, 2015 - 2:54 pm

thanks Julia! (why the heck do the facebook posts post to the regular comments a million times?!)

How To Do Care Ministry

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How do I do care ministry?  You might have asked this question.

Our friends Blake and Jenni just had their first baby.  But there were some complications.  Baby Annelyse was born and didn’t have a heart beat for the first 20 or so minutes.  They are still in the NICU with her.  They are a family that is full of faith.  You can follow their journey here.  Please be praying for a full recovery!

We’ve made it our Sunday evening ritual to take them dinner and sit in the lobby with them and eat, and then go spend some time with Annelyse and pray for her.

Horrific hardships are happening all around you.  Don’t let people go through them alone.

Here’s some steps on how to care for people during hard times.

1.  Ask

Ask what you can do for them.  Don’t just assume that something you want to do for them will be well received.  Just because you would like to be treated a certain way does not mean that they will.  Some people are private, and some people want the company.  During this time of tragedy be extra sensitive.

2.  Listen

Be available to listen.  There is a lot of processing that needs to happen in the event of tragedy.  Don’t come with your advice guns blazing.  If they want advice they will ask for it.  But in this hard time don’t give unwarranted opinions and advice.  Just listen.

3.  Don’t Be Afraid Of  Silence

Don’t be afraid of silence.  Sometimes a simple hug and allowing someone to cry on your shoulder is enough.  Crying with them is good too.  Don’t make the person going through tragedy feel like they need to entertain you or make you comfortable.  Don’t be afraid to simply be present.

4.  Serve

Meal ministry seems to be a thing of the past.  I remember when my mom had surgery, every night someone from the church brought our family dinner.  Ask what you can do for the people involved.  Sometimes they might be to bashful to ask.  While you’re listening, be intentional about listening to things that they might say they need.  You might have to ask them directly if you can bring them a meal.  Ask them what they’d like and make it happen.  Try and see if you can alleviate any other burdens from them.

5.  Be consistent

There is usually an initial overwhelming outpouring when bad things happen.  But it doesn’t stop after that.  Be committed to walking with the family through the tragedy.

 

What other steps would you suggest when walking with someone through a tragedy?  How have you been cared for that you would recommend during hard times?  Or on the flip side, what is something that someone has done that people should avoid?  Let us know in the comments.

Lisa HansonMay 25, 2015 - 10:02 am

I feel like consistency is key. People quickly get forgotten quickly. The out of sight out of mind definitely happens

Lisa HansonMay 25, 2015 - 12:30 pm

I feel like consistency is key. People quickly get forgotten quickly. The out of sight out of mind definitely happens

Lisa HansonMay 25, 2015 - 8:01 pm

I feel like consistency is key. People quickly get forgotten quickly. The out of sight out of mind definitely happens

Wednesday Links 5.20.15

I’m going to try something new on Wednesdays.  I’m going to link to blog posts that I’ve shared the week prior on social media, things that I’ve found useful and maybe you will too.  I’ll also share the most recent episode of my podcast Doing Ministry Well which gets released each Wednesday.  And I’ll also share any articles that I’ve found interesting.

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Here’s a new episode of Doing Ministry Well where we interview Ron Smith the founder of the School of Biblical Studies.  If you haven’t yet PLEASE rate, comment and subscribe on Itunes to keep up with the most recent episodes!

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I AGREE!  “The problem is I’m an introvert taking on an extrovert’s life.” Donald Millers thoughts on Introversion –> http://bit.ly/1ATjmqK

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Since we’ve been talking about hearing God’s voice | 7 Ways to Distinguish God’s Voice – Ron Edmondson http://bit.ly/1PHfakN

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And one I didn’t post on social media but found interesting:  International Mission Board Drops Ban On Speaking In Tongues –> http://bit.ly/1L7xdjr

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The Rise and Fall Of American Christianity –> http://bit.ly/1IG9R6r | Good read… here’s an excerpt

“The point is that while the percentage of Christians in America was near its highest — the moral state of our society was far from “Christian.”

In many ways, today’s America is more Christian than at any previous moment in its history! Slavery and segregation has been abolished, gender inequality is on the decline, the wage gap has decreased, church communities are more diverse than ever, and people’s rights and opportunities related to education, jobs, and opportunities are better than ever (but there’s still a long way to go).

For Christians, the most worrying aspect about the Pew Research Report shouldn’t be that Christianity is declining, but that the population of those claiming to be Christian hasn’t historically affected the nation in a very Christ-like way.”

 

Do you like Wednesday Links?  Let me know in the comments.

 

Feeling Guilty For Being An Introvert

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[photo from a school of photography assignment 2008]

I’m glad that there’s more information about introverts out there.  There’s even a whole book written on the topic.  Called Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking  The author Susan Cain also did a Ted Talk on introversion as well.

She says that 1/3 to 1/2 of the world are introverts.

I listened to a podcast recently about drawing boundaries by Danny Silk.  Ministry seems to be a place where boundaries are hard to place.  I’ll dedicate a whole other blog post to that podcast.

I realized I need to draw better boundaries.  I’m at my best when I have alone time to think, to write.  It’s like a mental detox for me.  If I don’t get that alone and quiet time, I feel mentally constipated, and overstimulated, anxious even.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t like people.  I love people.  I just have to draw boundaries of how much time I spend with others.  I’m a quality time guy.  If I’m going to give you quality time when we’re together, I need to not feel spent and overstimulated. Maybe when I’m not getting that quiet and alone time I do see people as a threat.  Which I understand could be seen as me not liking people.

My wife Jess is an extrovert.  But we often get mistaken as I’m the extrovert and she’s the introvert.  That’s because Jess is being extroverted all day long and during her down times, she wants to be recharge.  Whereas, I’m being introverted all day long, and when I have free time, I like to venture out and see people.

I once observed a toddler tell her mother that she needed to go into another room and read.  I smiled and said “aww you’re a little introvert.”  That comment brought out momma bear.  “All kids are like that, there’s nothing abnormal about that!”

Abnormal?

I apologized to the mother, because I could obviously see that I upset her, I was not intending to insult her child.  However I left feeling a bit insulted, that introversion is seen as abnormal.

Yet 1/3 to 1/2 of people in the world are introverts.

It’s funny that introverts are considered recluses or socially inept.  I’ve heard people say those things, quite rudely about others.  I’m neither of those things, but I am an introvert.

What’s worse than feeling anxious because you aren’t getting what you need?  Feeling guilty because of it.

There are different levels of introversion, and there are different seasons I go through where I will need more or less alone time to feel charged.  But how come the extroverts get to rule?  Why can’t I tell the extrovert to stop being so pushy, stop talking so much and to be quiet?

I think in 30 years of living, I’m finally realizing what I need to be the best me.  But drawing those boundaries are hard.

I wrote about some of the things I need to be the best me in this post three years ago.  They haven’t changed.  But there’s still this tinge of guilt.  That I should be able to be the best me no matter the circumstances.

Maybe this all boils down to fear of man.  I care to much about what other people think of me.

What do you think?  Comment and let us know!

If I Had This I Could Do That

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If I had this, I could do that…

If I had more money I’d be more generous.

If I had a bigger house I’d be more hospitable.

If I had a new camera I’d be better at taking photos.

If I had a new computer I’d write more.

Steven Pressfield writes in his book The War Of Art:

“It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”

Are you going to be ridiculously generous when you have more money?  I think we’re all tempted to increase our own standard of living before we change that standard for anyone else.  But if you really want to give, you could start giving now when you don’t think you have enough.

Are you going to be more hospitable when you have a giant home?  Or will the bigger and nicer home, the one that you’ve worked very hard for, cause you to not want people messing it up.  Start practicing hospitality with what you have now.

I used to think if I had a certain piece of photography gear it would improve my photography.  While a new piece of gear might serve as a novelty for a short while and get me out the door to use it, it doesn’t beat the discipline of getting out everyday and shooting and honing your craft.

I honestly had this thought a couple of weeks ago.  I need a new computer to write.  It was probably a subconscious excuse for being scared to write more.  I think we subconsciously put road blocks in our way to productivity, and justify them.  So I’m sitting at starbucks with my 15″ miracle computer that is quite worn, but is still kicking, plugged in because the battery doesn’t hold a charge anymore and putting words down on “paper.”

Blah blah blah.  Do the stuff.  If you do it well, maybe it will open up doors for you to have the stuff you want, and in the meantime you’re doing what you ultimately wanted to do in the first place.

What excuses are you making?  What ship are you waiting to come in until you do something you really want to do?  Let us know in the comments.

The Most AWKWARD Part About Support Raising

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I’m working on a book right now on support raising.  I just asked my social media network what donors would like to communicate to those asking, and what people fundraising wanted to know.  The conversations were very interesting.

As you probably know while Jess and I were with YWAM we did not receive a salary.  The ministry we are currently partnering with in Tennessee also is not paying us.

So our salary comes from fundraising.  We are blessed to have an amazing committed team that love and support us on a monthly basis.  We also have others that consistently give one time gifts.  And this allows us to live and do ministry.  We are so grateful for our team.

But the hardest most awkward part about support raising is this.

UNRESPONSIVENESS

I try to make support raising as not shady as possible but at the end of the day, I still have to ask for money, and talking about money much less asking for it, sometimes makes for awkward situations.  I do my best to be upfront about our asking.

I also try to be good about keeping up with relationships, fundraising aside.  I try to check in on people, see how their doing and ask them how I can be praying for them.

It is super awkward when I ask someone directly (not in mass) to pray about the possibility of supporting us and then they drop off the face of the earth.  I’ll try and follow up and still no response.  I understand that people are busy, and maybe those people don’t have the heart to say no and think it will be less awkward if they just don’t respond and that I’ll take a clue.  But it makes any future communication awkward.  Because now even if I’m just checking in to say hello and see how their doing, theirs this awkward tension that we both know that I asked for support and they didn’t respond.  I don’t expect everyone to say yes, I really don’t.  I COMPLETELY understand that money is tight for everyone.

However, often times people are busy, and have thanked me for following up with them.  And they want to partner with us but just got busy with life.

So if someone asks you for support and you have no intentions of supporting them let them know up front.  I understand that not everyone is in a place that can or even wants to partner with us financially.  But by giving a clear no, that makes future non-money related conversations not awkward.  :)

Thoughts?  Questions?  Comments?  Let us know in the comments!

Is God Not Speaking Or Do I Have A Hard Heart

I’ve been blessed to be a part of YWAM off and on now for over 12 years.  One of YWAM’s major values is hearing the voice of God.  I remember being in my DTS (Discipleship Training School) and learning about hearing God’s voice and thinking it was craziness.  Until our group all waited on the Lord and we all “heard” the same thing.  Why wouldn’t God speak to us?  Jesus tells us that the sheep will know the shepherds voice.

Obviously we have to have checks and balances in place, if it doesn’t align with scripture then we’re not hearing God.  If we submit something to a group of people and they don’t think it’s God then it probably isn’t God.  My goal is not to have this be a a teaching on hearing the voice of God but I should probably put one of those together.

When you get around YWAMers we share testimonies in our daily conversations, things like “I heard God say this and I did this.”  And we don’t even think about it because it’s become natural for us, but it catches others off guard.  I often get questions like, “Wait… you just said you heard God, I don’t hear God, what does God sound like?”

It was mother’s day yesterday.  Jess and I went to grab some food at Mcdonalds because we don’t have anything in the house right now.  (Just blew my cover to my church, since we’re suppose to be doing the Daniel plan… anyway, if you’re reading this and you’re going to judge or comment on the Mcdonalds eating more than what I’m about to write you are welcome to keep your opinion:)to yourself)

There is always a lady that sits in the same chair in a wheel chair and knits.  I saw one of the workers come back to her and say thank you, I think she had knitted a lei for one of the workers.  I felt the nudge from God that I was suppose to go wish that lady a happy mothers day and give her a hug.   I don’t remember specifically what it sounded like, or how it came into my consciousness.  How do I know that was the voice of God?  Because I don’t come up with ideas like that!  I’m from the east coast, I don’t like talking to people in public much less hugging strangers.

We got up and threw our trash away, I walked past the lady, she didn’t look up and make eye contact.  So I kept moving towards the exit, thinking oh well, must not have been God since she didn’t look up, now I’m just going to leave.  I got convicted, and made myself do it, I handed Jess my soda and asked her to get me a refill and I told her I’m going to go tell this lady happy mothers day.

I walked up to her and said “Hey Aunty, Happy mothers day can I give you a hug?”  (You can call any older lady here aunty)
“Yes.”  She responded starting to tear up

I gave her a hug like they do in Hawaii, kissing the air as you touch your cheek to theirs and said Happy mothers day to her again.  She just looked at me with tears welling up in her eyes and with a bewildered look on her face of disbelief.  I smiled at her and told her to have a good day.

I heard another guy sitting in there who had previously asked Jess if she was single, engaged or married say “that was sweet.”

I asked Jess as we walked to the car, if God stops speaking when we start saying no.  Or if because we start saying no, we can’t hear what He’s saying.

I think a lot of times we have a hard time hearing what God is saying because we don’t really want to hear what He’s asking us to do.

There is risk, and sacrifice involved with following Jesus.  Those things are elemental to the faith.  Jesus took RISKS and SACRIFICED to come to the earth.

I have to cling to the character of God.  To remind myself of His goodness.  To TRUST in His provision for my life.

Everything God asks you to do or not do is in your best interest.  Because HE IS GOOD.

Do  you hear God’s voice?  What has He been saying lately?  Do you ever struggle to do what you feel like He is asking you to do?

Here’s some other recent thoughts on hearing the voice of God.

AbigailMay 13, 2015 - 7:11 am

Great insight – thanks for sharing!

Faye Engelen MooreMay 13, 2015 - 7:27 pm

I soooo agree with you Jim. I have had this kind of thing happen to me and realize how much something like that means to another person and how I feel when I obey the voice in my head, the descernment or what ever it is. I DIDN’T one time and I will always feel that, that is one of the things I will weap about when I meet Jesus. It will be the one big regret I will always feel, even though I know that Jesus will forgive me and wipe the tears away. I will always wonder what would have happened it I had followed what I was told to do. I now, am more aware and try to listen when I am spoken to. It can be a small voice, a feeling, a scripture that speaks to me or even a word from another person. LISTEN

Faye Engelen MooreMay 13, 2015 - 10:25 pm

I soooo agree with you Jim. I have had this kind of thing happen to me and realize how much something like that means to another person and how I feel when I obey the voice in my head, the descernment or what ever it is. I DIDN’T one time and I will always feel that, that is one of the things I will weap about when I meet Jesus. It will be the one big regret I will always feel, even though I know that Jesus will forgive me and wipe the tears away. I will always wonder what would have happened it I had followed what I was told to do. I now, am more aware and try to listen when I am spoken to. It can be a small voice, a feeling, a scripture that speaks to me or even a word from another person. LISTEN

Faye Engelen MooreMay 14, 2015 - 5:27 am

I soooo agree with you Jim. I have had this kind of thing happen to me and realize how much something like that means to another person and how I feel when I obey the voice in my head, the descernment or what ever it is. I DIDN’T one time and I will always feel that, that is one of the things I will weap about when I meet Jesus. It will be the one big regret I will always feel, even though I know that Jesus will forgive me and wipe the tears away. I will always wonder what would have happened it I had followed what I was told to do. I now, am more aware and try to listen when I am spoken to. It can be a small voice, a feeling, a scripture that speaks to me or even a word from another person. LISTEN

Doing Ministry Well [PODCAST]

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Hey everyone!  Exciting NEWS!  The podcast project that I’ve been working on has been accepted and is now on ITUNES!

I really wanted my 30’s to be PRODUCTIVE and this is a project that I’ve had the idea for for a while.  So I finally pulled the trigger.

Doing Ministry Well is a podcast for pastors and people in Christian ministry.  I interview people and ask them about their time in ministry and then ask them to share some tips on how to do ministry well.  In the first episode I interview myself, and also explain the premise of the show.  Depending on the length of the interview some episodes will be longer than others.

You’ve got a couple ways to listen to it.  Please subscribe to Doing Ministry Well on ITUNES to keep up to date with the latest releases.  I’m going to try and release an episode each week.    Please rate it with 5 stars on Itunes for me and leave a positive review!

Or you can stream them from our website http://www.DoingMinistryWell.com

Thanks for checking it out!

– jim