The Delusion

DSC05213By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

This is one of multiple pictures of our trek out west to our new home in the state of Washington. The white car is one of two vehicles we drove out. I’m taking the picture from the other one. And, yes, I was driving at the time. I was careful. Don’t know who the semi belongs to. But, I do know who the mountain belongs to.

Itty Bitty car–Ours!

Great Big Mountain–God’s!

It’s been interesting during the months leading up to this trek , that I have been reading in Isaiah and Jeremiah. I’ve not read these with any deep interest since college too many decades ago. Shame on me! But, God has given me a renewed longing (panting like a deer) for all His Word, not just what is easier to understand. What I have found takes my breath away and helps my perspective stay in God-like focus.

There is A LOT I do no understand in these Old Testament prophetic books, but I am determined to gain more insight and application in this next year. And I believe God is determined to give me this insight and application. I know this because He has already smacked me upside the head about idols.


Isaiah and Jeremiah reveal in no uncertain terms what God thinks about idols and it’s not pretty. You may be thinking like I have that the whole discussion of idols has no application for 21st century American Christians. We need to rethink that position. Listen to this…

Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the LORD, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.” Jeremiah 10:1-5

Isn’t that exactly what we do today? We may not have mini statues in our homes or gardens, though more and more Americans do, but what we have is actually much worse and more deceitful. We have houses and garages filled with idols made by man’s hands. We are in the same delusion with these idols as the people were in this verse with their wooden idols. We think our diplomas and cars and expensive vacations and boats and designer clothes and plush carpets and four bathrooms can make us better humans. Worse yet, we think these things can save us!

Oh, I know, we don’t physically bow down to these things or utter mantras to them or sing to them. But, we do give them an awful lot of attention and an exorbitant amount of our time. And we do judge others and ourselves by them. And we do worry what we would do without them.

As I was following our itty bitty car up and down one mountain after another, I was struck by how much stock I put into “the customs of the peoples” and how little my trust and faith really is in the God of the Universe!

There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might. Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? Indeed it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You. Jeremiah 10:6-7

It’s a little crazy to move t0 the northwest in the middle of January. It’s even more crazy to move 2000 miles away from any family and friends. And even crazier to do it all on purpose! But, what is beyond crazy and even delusional is to believe that I control my own destiny (“the customs of the people”) and that my stuff will save me and give me life everlasting.

What is not crazy is resting in the gracious and loving arms of my Savior, Jesus Christ!

A, B, Cs of Loving One Another (Another “T”)

By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.¬† This is not earth shattering news. What is a tad bit disconcerting to me is that I have experienced over half-a-century’s worth of Thanksgivings.¬† Where has all that time gone and how did I get this old? I am after all the baby of the family. That should count for something!

And it does count for something. No matter how old my siblings get,

I will always be younger than them; still old…but younger!

Actually I don’t feel that old. I’m not sure what 54 is supposed to feel like, but I remember as a kid thinking anyone over 50 was ancient and soon to expire. I am very grateful that I will not soon expire; at least as far as I know. And a person is not ancient until they celebrate their 100th birthday!

My how perspectives change over time. That is a good thing. We’re told by God to put away childish things; to grow up. That doesn’t mean I have to be all stodgy and have the expression of a prune. But, it does mean I mature in my thinking, in my attitudes and in my thankfulness. But putting away childish things doesn’t always come with age nor is it always progressive.
I remember sitting around the Thanksgiving table as a kid and being asked, “What are you thankful for?” My usual answer was the food sitting in front me and the new dress I was wearing. My answers weren’t a whole lot deeper as a teen. Back then I gave thanks for friends (whoever I wasn’t mad at) and music and good times.

Then I got married and had kids. Of course now my objects of thanksgiving were much more meaningful as long as we were all healthy and we could buy the latest toys we wanted (for kids and adults) and everyone appreciated me the way they should.

And then the kids grew up and had adult style problems (I thought potty training was hard.)

Our Nest Was Empty!

At a time when God challenged me to trust Him…

I chose not to be thankful; not even childish thankful…

and my little slice of existence in this world turned gray.

I do not recommend this choice.¬†Choosing ungratefulness is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done and by far the most destructive and paralyzing. It zapped every ounce of energy out of me and battered the brave souls who stuck with me. It is only by God’s mercy and grace that my marriage and my family survived those awful years of thankless living.

You see love and thankfulness go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. If your thankfulness dries up your love will dwindle right along with it. Oh you may be able to pretend to be thankful and have a pretense of love for awhile, but if these are not truly and deeply in your soul, the ugly truth will seep out all over everything you say and do. I know this is fact because I’ve been there and done that AND because God makes it clear that a lack of genuine thankfulness will lead to ruin.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Romans 1:21

So on this my 54th Thanksgiving…

I Chose to Give Thanks to Jehovah God and for All His Benefits Toward Me!

photo credit: bemky via photopin cc

Diamonds and Valentines

Marilyn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

What really makes Valentine’s Day happy? Is it being blonde and having a dozen men swoon over you? Maybe it’s being famous and hanging on the arm of someone equally famous? But, what about when you get old and no one wants to hold you up let alone swoon over you?
Is it receiving a diamond after the romantic dinner at the five star restaurant you can’t afford? But is one diamond enough? And how many karats does it take to be truly happy?
Is it falling in love and having that amazing chemistry for just one night? But, what happens when the night is over and you fall out of love?

Come on! Own up! What woman hasn’t dreamed of being decked out in diamonds and a too tight gown with drop dead gorgeous men at her beckon call? I know I have. And the movie producers, marketers and advertisers are counting on the fact that you have too. But, what if your man doesn’t buy you diamonds, or look like Channing Tatum and he certainly doesn’t answer to your beckoning? What if you don’t even have a man? GASP! 

Let’s face it. We aren’t happy on Valentine’s Day because we’re too busy wanting something else we think will make us happy. We want to be blonde or brunette or whatever we aren’t at the moment. We want to be skinnier or more curvy. We want the little black dress to be little, not a size 16. We want a five star dinner, not the Olive Garden…again. We want a romantic cruise to the Caribbean, not an overnight at Days Inn. And we want our man to be Brad Pitt, Tim Tebow, Josh Groban and Francis Chan all rolled into one. Instead, we have…well…just our average Joe. 

Shame on me! Shame on you! We’re so busy wanting what we don’t have that we can’t have any kind of true joy in what we already got!

It took me more time than I will ever admit and more hard lessons than I ever want to do again, but I think it is finally sinking in.

There is only one way to be truly happy on Valentine’s Day and that is to know the One Who makes the heart glad no matter what day it is, no matter what the circumstance is and no matter if anyone else even cares you exist. This One, this Jesus is a shelter and refuge to those who love Him and exult His name. 
Now that’s something to sing about!

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them; that those who love Your name may exult in You. Psalm 5:1 (NASB)