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.

Isaiah 23-25; Romans 15

Sunrise – Photo by Mandy Baldwin

I have always struggled to understand Romans. I always felt it was a mix of law and grace. How do those two go together? I do the right things and feel good because I did it! Then I mess up and struggle with guilt and shame. The grace of God is comforting in those times when I wonder what to do. So I double down and try and work harder. Is there a balance?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

I have always found this verse encouraging. Our God is a God of hope. Our God IS our hope… not the law, not Holiness, not marriage, not the new job, not money. So much of the time I have found myself hoping in those things that are up to me. Up to me to figure out how to do or how not to do. Instead, I am learning what it looks like to Hope in God. Hope in who He is. Hope in His character.

I have not found the balance between the law and grace. I doubt I ever will. While I wait, however, I have hope. So…what do I do?

  • I continue reading. I read Romans again. I read the old testament. I read the new testament. Time with God will never be wasted.
  • I work at having the grace for others that I desire from God.
  • I work through my own unmet desires with the help of God as a way of keeping Him as my hope and not the meeting of those desires.
  • I keep moving in the direction that I believe God is calling me.

What can you do today to place God as your hope?

Dear God, thank you that you have not left us alone to figure out life, but you have given us direction and you have given yourself. Forgive us for the ways we get it wrong. Help us to give the same grace to others that you give to us. Thank you for the way you move in our lives. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hosea 2-4; Romans 5

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. ”

Romans 5:1-5, NIV

What brings you hope? According to Romans 5, the work of God brings the most hope. However, it costs something. It costs our comfort. When in the midst of suffering it is extremely difficult to continue, at least continue with life as usual. It can be hard going to work; interacting with friends and family; going to parties; going to church.

I am training for a half marathon in November. Yes, it will take me that long to prepare…and even then, we shall see. Right now I’m at the point of running 5 minutes and then walking 3 minutes. I do that 3 times. I can’t tell you how much I want to stop and walk when I reach 3 or 4 minutes. Continuing to run when everything inside me (mostly my lungs) wants to stop is painful! When I’m running with a friend, it’s a lot easier to keep running. On my own? Sometimes I quit and sometimes I don’t. I can tell I’m improving. The stress and struggle is working.

After 6 weeks of training…I have hope.

Has your suffering brought you hope? Has God brought you through something that has created hope and peace? Looking back and remembering what God has done is a good practice. Take time today to remember. You are different today than when you first started your journey with God. Have hope because of the suffering you have been through to give you hope for the suffering you are in now because your God has not abandoned you; He has not forgotten you; He is with you.

Dear Father, you know suffering. You know how our suffering can lead us astray. We ask you boldly today to make yourself known to us in our suffering. Provide your peace and hope in the midst of suffering while we continue to persevere. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Joel 1-3; 1 Thess. 3

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12, NIV

In our reading today there is a huge contrast. In Joel we read about the hardship that the Lord’s people were experiencing. Joel called Judah to repent and cry out to God for salvation. The Lord responded with compassion and saved them and their land and cattle. Then the Lord called them to war.

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul was so encouraged to hear about the faith of the Thessalonians and their consistent belief in Jesus. He encouraged them to continue and to increase their love for each other and everyone else. Paul asked the Lord to increase their love.

I have to be honest and say I have always struggled with the contrast between The Old Testament and The New Testament. I have taken classes and understand the cultural conditions that existed during each time. I have taken many classes and read many books about theology. However, I still cannot understand the contrast between the God that calls for war and the God that calls for peace and love.

So what do we do? I have learned from a mentor that I don’t force an answer where there is not a clear one. I wait. I wait for wise council, I wait for the Holy Spirit’s leading and and I wait for confirmation. Currently, in my life, I have been led by the Spirit to love and not turn the shovel in my garage into a sword. I don’t give answers I don’t have. I will answer, “I don’t know.”

So friends, as we wait for the Lord’s return… as week seek to follow the Lord’s leading… as we share the “good news” that has changed our lives, let us also be comfortable in the spaces of contrast and unknown.

Dear God, I pray as Paul did that you would strengthen our hearts so that they would be blameless and holy in your presence. Allow us to be confident in who You are even in the unknown. May we sense your nearness and love because You first loved us. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

1 Kings 13-14; 2 Chr. 12; Matt. 21

“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭21:5‬ ‭

When I think of Kings and Presidents and leaders of nations I think of regalia and importance and pride. I remember watching royal weddings on TV and imagining what it would be like to be sitting in the congregation as a part of the amazing event. The jewels are stunning, the hats are stylish and the wedding dress is unforgettable.

Our God, our King came in gently. So contrary to how everyone imagined their savior and King coming in to save. Why is this so important? Why does it matter how Jesus entered Jerusalem? It matters because our God is beyond anything we can imagine. Beyond our understanding. God’s kingdom is not what we have experienced here on earth. We need a King who knows His Kingdom, who knows His people, who knows the best way to save.

Knowing that God’s ways are different than mine causes me to examine my life, my ways and my understandings. I ask myself questions like …”how does this fit with what I know about who my God is?” And “Is this what my God would be about?” Gentleness, humbleness, servanthood…the hallmarks of Jesus’ life on Earth. Am I walking in His footsteps?

Dear God, help me to see you. Help me to desire you over all. May I be driven to by who you are more than what I want. Guide

my actions and words. May my life bring you Glory today. Amen.

Mandy (mkaybaldwin)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized