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.

Jeremiah 49:1-51:10

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“For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.”

Jeremiah ‬ ‭51:5‬ ‭NIV

The ups and downs of The Israelites continues. Ever since they left Egypt, they have continued to follow God, walk away from God, experience the consequences of their actions, repent and then experience Gods rescue. Generations of ups and downs. Generations of lessons learned and forgotten. Sound familiar?

I wish I could learn a lesson once. I wish I could learn from the lessons of others, and sometimes I do. Most of the time, however, I learn the hard way. I learn through my mistakes, sins or suffering.

The amazing part to me is the constant presence of the Lord. Even when the Lord allowed suffering due to their disobedience, He never abandoned them. He stayed right with them. Even in His anger He remained close.

What are you going through right now? I can say with certainty that your God is close. Even in His anger, He does not forsake you. He does not leave you. As you continue to learn lessons of life and faith, may you sense the nearness of your God.

Dear God, the problem is not that your presence is not near, it’s that we struggle to feel it. Please allow us to feel your nearness. Thank you for being the kind of God that never abandons His children. We love you. May we seek you more and more. Amen.

Mandy

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Isaiah 66; Jeremiah 1:1-2:25

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Will it ever be enough?

When I was in grad school studying to be a counselor, I had a professor who vowed to never give a 100% on a paper. She stated that there will always be room for improvement, therefore, a perfect score is not possible on a paper. At the same time I hated that idea, and I also got it.

Reading the first part of Isaiah 66, I get the same impression from the author.

“But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a person, and whoever offers a lamb is like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense is like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring on them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.”

Isaiah‬ ‭66:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Wait…but isn’t that what the Lord commanded? Now the offerings aren’t enough? When will it ever be enough?

Have you ever felt that? Like you’ve been trying so hard and it just isn’t happening. You are trying to kick that habit, and you fall again. You are doing everything that you’ve been told is “right” and everything still goes wrong. You ask for forgiveness and are met with more anger. You love and find hate.

If a relationship with God was as simple as following a set of rules, why would we need Him? If all we had to do was follow the 10 commandments, what would we need of the Holy Spirit?

The sacrifices aren’t wrong or bad…it’s the heart that determines their worth. The rules without relationship mean nothing. And…every relationship needs rules (boundaries). It’s both/and.

It will never be enough this side of eternity…and…because the cross was enough, You are enough!

Dear God, your goal is our hearts. You desire a relationship with your creation not rule followers. And…we obey out of love. Grab our hearts today. Fill our hearts with your love and your spirit. Show us more of You! Amen.

Mandy

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Psalms 148:7-150; Proverbs 1:1-2:9

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Gratitude precedes Wisdom?

I love how our reading progresses today. The final chapters of Psalms are full of gratitude to the Lord. The beginning of Proverbs introduces wisdom. I wonder if this was intentional by God. Is there a correlation between gratitude and wisdom? Can you have one without the other? Which comes first?

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.”

Psalm‬ ‭148:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I can’t say with certainty that gratitude is necessary for wisdom. What I know is that gratitude changes me. Gratitude has a way of shaping how I see things. The Psalmist regularly shared the raw emotions of fear and hurt and pain, followed by gratitude for who God is.

If gratitude changes me…if it shapes how I view reality…won’t I make better decisions?

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,”

Proverbs‬ ‭2:6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Our wisdom is God. Gratitude for God will shape how we view Him and how we interact with Him and the wisdom that He so freely gives to all.

Dear God, thank you for being a God who shares wisdom. You do not hoard it to control us, you willingly give it to those that ask for our good. May our gratitude give us better understanding of you and your wisdom. Amen.

Mandy

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Psalms 106:34-107:38

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The story of the Israelites, the chosen people, is very similar to ours. They were rescued and praised the Lord, they grew tired of hardship and the unknown and did what THEY thought was right, they were punished by God, they repented and turned back to God…and the cycle repeated itself. I am very familiar with this cycle in my life.

Are we punished in the same way as the Israelites? I think a better question to ask is why did God keep coming back?

“Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry.”

Psalm‬ ‭106:44‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I remember asking my dad one time, “how many times will God rescue me?” And his response was, “always one more time.” There is so much more here than punishment and forgiveness. We have a God that ALWAYS turns toward us.

I don’t want to keep doing what is wrong just to repent and turn back. At the same time, however, it will happen again and again. I want my attitude to be that of the psalmist; humility, thanksgiving and praise.

“Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”

Psalm‬ ‭107:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Lord has not abandoned you. You are not lost to Him. He will respond and He will forgive. Praise God!!!!

Dear Lord, thank you for staying close by and never loosing sight of us even when we have lost sight of You. Thank you for the forgiveness and grace and mercy You generously give. May we not forget to praise and thank You for who You are and the work you do in our lives. Amen.

Mandy

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Psalms 71:17-73:20

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“For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

Psalm‬ ‭73:3‬ ‭ESV

One of the things I love the most about the Psalms is how the authors write so authentically. In todays reading of Psalm 73 we hear the authors lament over seeing the wicked prosper.

Who hasn’t felt the injustice of watching one’s enemy win?

“And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?””

Psalm‬ ‭73:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This question of God is one that many of us have asked. How can God not know? Does He see what’s going on? How can He let this happen? And … for some reason it happens.

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”

Psalm‬ ‭73:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But…God. It was when the author went before the Lord that He understood. Being with God…that changes us. It changes the way we see ourselves…the way we see others…the way we see the world. Spending time with God doesn’t change the wicked…it changes us! It changes our perspective.

The wicked will always be there this side of eternity. However, how we interact with the injustice of this world is influenced by our time spent with God.

Dear God, I can’t change the wicked. I don’t know why You don’t change them, but I trust You. In the face of injustice, please meet with me…change me…empower me and show me the next right steps towards justice. Amen.

Mandy

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