Author Archives: mkaybaldwin

About mkaybaldwin

I have spent the majority of my life in central Indiana. I am a graduate of North centeral High School. I love to travel to visit family, especially my four nieces and nephews who live in Southeast Asia. I am the youngest of three. My oldest sister has Down Syndrome. After graduating from College, I began working at a church and for over 17 years served as a youth pastor and a caring ministries pastor. Currently, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist continuing in ministry through a different context.

Proverbs 24-28; Matthew 12

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I heard a wonderful sermon last week on the importance of the sabbath. The point the pastor made that stuck out to me the most was when he said that in refusing to take a sabbath we imply that we are better than God. God rested on the 7th day not because he needed to rest, but because he chose to rest to appreciate all that He had created.

When I ignore the sabbath I am saying that my life and the lives of others are more dependent on me than God. I am more important than God. That hit me between the eyes. But then Jesus comes along.

Jesus was challenging the religious leaders of His day because He was making changes to their teaching. He ate meals with sinners, talked with outcasts, and broke Sabbath. I do not claim to understand all that Jesus was doing. I never will because He is God and I am not. However, what I see is his desire to bring life and love and relationship to the people in a way that had been absent in their system of religion before.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

It’s not about the Sabbath…it’s not about picking grain on a day they weren’t allowed to do work…it’s not about healing a man. It’s about Jesus. It’s about knowing Him and being known by Him. It’s about His compassion and love. It’s about the FACT that He is greater than I…knows more than me…is worthy of my love and respect and adoration. It’s about acknowledging I am not God, but I know God and desire to follow Him. It’s about my life not being my own, but God’s.

Dear God, help us see you. Help us to not stumble over the rules or the laws that are made in order to understand you, but truly see you. Help us to follow your lead. Help us to recognize the work you are doing and trust the goodness of it. You, GOD, are greater than any sanctuary. Amen.

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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1 Kings 7-8; 2 Chr. 4-5; Matt. 2

“But will God really dwell on Earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built.”

1 Kings 8:27 NIV

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

I love sanctuaries! I love visiting different churches (especially when they are empty) so I can capture the beauty of their sanctuary. The stained glass, the candles, the chandeliers, the pulpit, the pews… the beauty. When I sit in a sanctuary and think of the hard work and dedication that went into building it I am overcome with gratitude. How King Solomon must have felt when they brought the Arc of the Covenant into its new home and they were overwhelmed by the cloud…the Presence of the Lord.

And yet…

Even the most beautiful sanctuary…the most expensive sanctuary…cannot contain the presence of God. It will always be too small. Solomon felt that dichotomy. He knew he was following God’s command by building to exact specifications AND he knew it would never be enough. God is too big. God is too amazing. God is so much more than a temple or sanctuary can hold.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

Even out in the open, in the vastness of earth and sky, God can’t be contained. So why do we build? Why do we spend so much on spaces that will never capture the wonder and beauty that is God? Why do we even try?

“He is good; His love endures forever.”

2 Chron. 5:13 NIV

We build…because it’s what we have.

Anything we do FOR God will pale in comparison TO God. That’s a reality. But our souls stir within us to attempt to demonstrate to God how much we love Him…how our lives are so drastically changed because of Him…how much we desire to be with Him.

In return God shows up. Even in our small attempts, He rejoices with is.

“But you Bethlehem, in the Land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for our of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Matthew 2:6, NIV

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

God shows up. God brings Himself to our world to our lives. He is not hindered by how big the sanctuary is not by how small our offering. That’s the God we serve. That’s the God we love. That’s the God we need.

Thanks Be To God!

Father…in our striving may we never loose sight of you. May we always be drawn back to you and your presence. May we delight in you as you delight in us. Thank you for being THAT kind of God. Amen.

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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2 Samuel 18-20; 2 Cor. 6; Psalm 56

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
     In God, whose word I praise
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4, NIV

I’ve read this passage of scripture so many times. When I was younger I struggled in understanding how I could not be afraid … especially of tornadoes. I would sit in the back hallway of the house with the rest of my family and shake and cry in fear of what would happen when the tornado hit…which it never did. I would love to say I outgrew this fear and although I don’t sit and shake and cry when the tornado sirens go off, I’m still very much afraid.

Fear can be all encompassing. It can fill all our thoughts and cause us to singularly focus on the thing that is terrorizing our minds. We can freeze and loose hope for the future. All we know about the life of David demonstrates that he had every right to be afraid. Protecting his sheep from wild animals as a young kid, going up against Goliath as a young man, running from King Saul, running from his own son and as we see in this passage, being captured by the philistines have all been times of potential fear for David.

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

And yet…He says “I trust and am not afraid.” (Psalm 56:4,11) Right before each of these statements of trust, however, is the phrase “In God”. Unlike David, I have not learned to trust so completely that my fear is gone. I’m still afraid of many things. I can’t in my own power compel my fear to subside. But… “In God”. In God, I can learn. In God, I can slow down. In God, I can rest. In God, I can see God working. In God, I feel love. In God, I can love. In God, I receive mercy. In God, I am merciful. In God, I find grace. In God, I can be gracious. In God

In God. Am I in God? Am I pursuing God? Is my fear and anger keeping me from being in God? Is yours? In God is everything because it sets the stage for where God wants to lead us and what He wants to do in and through us. Are we In God?

Dear God, I pray my heart will be In You. I pray that when fear overwhelms, I will find my strength and identity In You. I pray that when I’m consumed with myself and my desires and wants I would turn and place myself In You. When I can’t do any more, I pray you take my life and place it In You. Please Father, do a work that I cannot. Do a work that brings me even more into you. I pray for those reading that they would be drawn into you. May our lives point others to you. And may the fear that clouds our vision, be diminished by being IN YOU. Amen.

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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2 Sam 3-5; 1 chr 12

“The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.”

‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NIV

I think a lot about how David must have felt throughout his battle with Saul. God called him and anointed him and he still had to run for his life. Even under God’s anointing, life was hard and messy. So much of the time I questionGod when life gets hard…Did I not hear Him correctly? Did I do what I wanted over what His will for my life is?

There is not a direct connection between suffering and sin. Just because life is hard doesn’t mean we have misunderstood Gods leading and direction. David fought and struggled and asked God why…but he kept going. There were times he messed up…big time…but he didn’t give up.

May we not give up.

Lord, in this season of struggle may your presence bring peace. In this time of war and hate, May your presence bring calm. In this moment of pain and loneliness, may you bring comfort. Lord, turn my eyes towards you. Amen

Mandy Baldwin

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Ruth 3-4; Galatians 2; Psalm 64, 65

“Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer.”

Ruth 4:14b, NIV
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

In all honesty, there is much about the book of Ruth that I don’t understand. I don’t understand the cultural significance of uncovering Boaz’ feet…or extending a shoe as a sign of an agreement. What I do understand, however, is the provision of a God for Ruth and Naomi. In order for it to be received, Ruth needed a spirit of humility and grace.

  • Following Naomi to a foreign land.
  • Doing the hard work in the fields to provide for herself and Naomi.
  • Humbling herself by going to Boaz in an intimate way.
  • Waiting patiently for Boaz to do the right thing.

Do I have humility? Do I live a gracious and patient life?

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:21, NIV
Photo by Mandy Baldwin

Why is it so hard to accept and receive the grace of God? Paul preached the same Gospel as the other disciples and even he worried about how he would be received among the religious elite. Would they understand him and his call? Would they accept him? He knew he had been given a specific task by God, but was that enough? Yes! It was! And the grace of God was sufficient for him to continue. Is it enough for me?

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
   you call forth songs of joy.”

Psalm 65; 8

Dear God, May our hearts be open and sensitive to you. May our humility, grace and patience come from you and provide a willing vessel for your work. And God as we seek to follow you and love you, may your grace be sufficient. Amen

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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Joshua 18-21; Mark 8

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”

Joshua 21:45 ESV

The promises of the Lord can be trusted. I know that intellectually, but my heart fails me so much of the time. I wonder and I doubt. I read the stories and see all that God has done…yet…I wonder if he will do the same for me. Will He provide? Will He heal? Will He give me the desires of my heart? Will He really never leave me?

I can only imagine how the Israelite’s wondered the same thing. They had wandered around in the desert for 40 years. They saw the size of the people living in the promised land and doubted. They marched around Jericho. They fought the battles. And…God fulfilled His promises…His Good Promises.

What good promises can I cling to today?

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“Who do people say that I am?”

Mark 8:27 ESV

I don’t know all the promises we can cling to from the Lord. I know there are some promises that were meant for a very specific group of people. Waiting for those promises will leave me wondering about God’s goodness and intentions in my life. There are other promises that I cling to.

  • “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5
  • “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:31
  • “For God so loved the world…” John 3:16
  • “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

Even more than the promises to cling to, however, is the God who made them. I want to cling to my God. I want to know my God. I want to know the God who promised His presence…who provides…who loves and who is worthy of my love in return.

Dear Father, may we cling to you more strongly than your promises. When asked who You are, may we reply with ‘My God’. Amen.

Mandy Baldwin (mkaybaldwin)

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Deuteronomy 10-14; Acts 26

“The Lord Your God”

As I read through Deuteronomy, I was overwhelmed with the laws that were placed before the Israelites. They were given very exact commands for how to honor and follow “the Lord their God”. What if we still lived under these commands and laws? Here’s the thing…they all aren’t unreasonable and overwhelming.

“Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.” Deuteronomy 11:1

– “Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭11:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

– “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭12:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

– “You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit,”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭12:8‬ ‭NIV

The commands that God gave to the Israelites were all to bring them to Him, protect them, set them apart, demonstrate to them their need for God and provide for their holiness as they wait for their Savior. Here is our reality…our savior has come and we no longer live under the laws of the Old Testament but in their completion.

I’m still discovering what that means and what I do with that understanding today. However, we don’t have to throw out all the laws of the Old Testament. We don’t have to follow them as the Israelites did, but we can allow them to point us to Jesus and His completing work on earth.

“But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭26:22-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Father, may we seek to draw closer to you.

May we, like Paul, testify to the small and great alike. Even while we don’t understand at times help us to testify to you and your message and your good work. Amen

Mandy Baldwin

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