By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

My son recently passed a critical field test in his Marine Infantry Officer Training. This field test was unique in that each man had to complete the approximately eighteen hours alone. They were not allowed to ask for directions or help or ask the Captain of a particular check point to rephrase his instructions. Each obstacle and challenge had to be successfully completed without any assistance. And there were very few indicators given to the men as to how well or poorly they were doing. It was only at the end when the names of who did not pass were read that anyone dared give a sigh of relief.

I asked my son if the rest of the training would be done in isolation like this. He responded, “Oh no. There is no way we’ll ever make it through the next twelve weeks or a battle without help from each other. This was just to test us individually so we know we can do it on our own if we are ever separated from our unit. But now we must be one cohesive team of Marines.” And he added, “The goal is to never be separated from your unit.”

That got me thinking. How often do I get separated from my unit (those within my circle)? And how often am I the one who chooses to be separated? How often do I make the choice to do life alone? How often do I make the choice to back away from someone so they have to do life alone?

We are not meant to be separated from those around us and go at life alone.

God designed us to embrace life with others.

So this week’s One Another Living Challenge is to do life with others. Be intentional about it. Look for ways to help others and for them to help you.

It may be a phone call or letter to someone. Or it may be a quick hug before AWANA starts. Or it may be walking a dog or feeding a cat. Or it may just be hanging out together. However God shows you to do life with others this week, do it. I know some of God’s leading may be scary, but usually those are the most rewarding when we step out and do them.

How can you do life with someone this week?
photo credit: WilliamMarlow via photopin cc

The A, B, Cs of Loving One Another, “Q”

By Elaine Baldwin| @elainehbaldwin

Quiet and be still. Psalm 46:10  Be still, and know that I God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  (KJV)

The noise of life blocks out God’s message of love to us and makes us ineffective to love others. This happens to the best of us. Even God’s mighty prophets had to learn to be quiet.

(The following is an excerpt from “The Art of Loving One Another.”)

In I and II Kings we read about a pretty amazing prophet. His name was Elijah. He was quite the man of God and served Jehovah faithfully during a very dark time in Israel’s history. In fact, he was so connected with God that when his time here on earth was completed, God took him to heaven in a whirlwind escorted by a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses (II Kings 2:11). Now that’s a “Wow!” change moment. And it wasn’t Elijah’s first one

  • Elijah was given the ability to stop the rain (I Kings 17:1).
  • Elijah and a widow and her son were given unlimited bread while he lodged with them during the time of draught (I Kings 17:9-16).
  • Elijah was given power to raise the widow’s son from the dead (I Kings 17:17-24).
  • Elijah was given power to defeat 450 prophets of Baal in a god-test (I Kings 18).
  • Elijah was given the ability to make it rain again (I Kings 18:45).
  • Elijah was given the speed and endurance to outpace Ahab’s chariot and beat him to Jezreel (I Kings 18:46).
  • Elijah was fed miraculously by God and the angel of the Lord ministered personally to him (I Kings 19:6-7).
  • Elijah traveled for forty days to a mountain on those one day provisions (I Kings 19:8).
  • Elijah spoke directly to God on Mount Horeb, The Mountain of God (I Kings 19:9-15).
  • Elisha smote the waters of Jordan with Elijah’s mantel which fell off when he taken away to heaven in the chariot of fire and the waters were separated and Elisha crossed over on dry ground (II Kings 2:14).

Including the chariot escort to heaven that is eleven oversized change moments Elijah had that I have never experienced. That’s not to say I’ve never had giant change moments. But I’ve never outrun a chariot or stopped the rain or raised anyone from the dead and I probably never will. That doesn’t mean my colossal change moments are not significant. They are just different. There is one thing Elijah and I have that is the same. We both struggle between the “Wows!”

In between all these amazing change moments in Elijah’s life, he allowed one threat made by a malicious woman to knock him off his feet and shut him and his ministry down.

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. I Kings 19:2

You see after his knockout punch of the 450 prophets of Baal, evil Queen Jezebel wasn’t too happy. It’s hard to believe that Israel sank so low with such a godless woman as their leader but it only took a handful of generations for Israel to be unrecognizable as God’s chosen people

But, such were the times Elijah lived in. He was the only true prophet in Israel. So when he, with God’s enabling, won the contest against the Baal prophets he didn’t really have any human to give a high five to or join him in a rousing cheer of, “Our God Reigns.”

Here he was, a little tired from outpacing Ahab’s chariot, no supporters, no fans, and no groupies, around him. Only his servant was with him. (I think he probably had to hang around.) Then he gets news that Jezebel has a contract out on him. The text says he ran for his life to Beersheba, left his servant there (there goes the last hope for any support) and then he ran into the wilderness and collapsed under a juniper tree where he requested that he might die

It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers. I Kings 19:4

It’s hard to believe that this mighty prophet of God went from the high of completing one of the most remarkable achievements in the entire Bible to a low so deep that he was despondent and wanted God to take his life. Then again, maybe it isn’t all that hard to believe. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe most of us have to some degree. But, God wasn’t finished with this runaway prophet and He isn’t done with us either. I know because I am still here writing and you are still here reading. So we obviously aren’t done with whatever God has for us to do.

Elijah also had more to do, but he was exhausted and he was hungry and he was scared and he had no one. Elijah was just done in! God knew this. Nor was God surprised by Jezebel’s threats and massive man hunt. It was all part of His plan to speak to Elijah in an intimate way.

After a few visits from the angel of the Lord, some sleep and some food Elijah was good to go. I mean he was good to go for forty long days. I love the last statement from the angel of the Lord before Elijah left for this long trek, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” (I Kings 19:7b). Talk about an understatement!

Elijah conquered the prophets of Baal on God’s strength and with God’s power. He ran from Jezebel on his own without listening for God. The next forty days he survived on God’s provision from the food and rest back in the wilderness. Pretty amazing! Now he is at Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God. But was he ready to listen to God…God’s way?

He’s on a mountain top and not just any mountain top, God’s mountain top!  He still doesn’t understand what he’s supposed to do now that the big battle is over. What can he do? He’s a hunted man. He’s the only one left in Israel. Or so he thinks. Let’s listen in on the conversation between God and Elijah. You can read the whole story in I Kings 19

God: What are you doing here, Elijah?

Elijah: I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away

God: Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD

Now here is where it gets interesting. As if standing before God on His Mountain and talking with God isn’t interesting enough. But, trust me, it gets better

Elijah hangs out and waits for God to speak to him again. Suddenly a great and strong wind ripped at the mountain and rocks were torn in pieces. Elijah thought for sure that this was God. But God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake came and then a fire and Elijah thought surely this was God. But God was not in the earthquake or the fire.

After the fire came “a sound of gentle blowing.”  We’re told that when Elijah heard this gentle breeze, he just knew. God opened his mind, heart and his awareness and he knew this was God. Elijah wrapped his mantle around his face and finally did what God told him to do. He stood in the entrance of the cave. There he and God repeated the first conversation, but there was an important difference.

Elijah was ready to listen without all the “Wow!” So much of his God experience up to this moment had been the colossal and the extraordinary that he wasn’t really able to hear God in the everyday and the ordinary. I have to wonder if God gave him the big show of wind and earthquake and fire just to get the need for “Wow!” out of His prophet’s system. That is purely my own speculation, but it’s interesting to think about.

Now that Elijah could hear God in the gentle breeze, he was ready for change and he was ready for his next assignment. This assignment wasn’t nearly as dramatic or astonishing.

God simply asked him to anoint a new ruler over Aram and a new king over Judah and a new prophet to replace himself, none other than Elisha.

It took days of running and weeks of solitary travel and a mighty exhibition of God’s amazing power, but once Elijah was finally quiet before the Lord, Jehovah God reminded the prophet that he was not alone.

He was not the only one left in Israel. God had a remnant; a 7000 strong remnant that did not bow their knee to Baal.

How long has it been since you’ve been quiet before the Lord? I mean really quiet. Shh….

Photo By: Margaret Richards |

The A, B, Cs of Loving One Another, “O”

By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

Obedience is better than sacrifice. I Samuel 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Words don’t tell how much we love, obedience does.

The first king of Israel, Saul, talked like he loved God and wanted to lead the people of Israel into a closer relationship with God. But his actions often spoke much louder that this king’s love was really for himself and his principal attitude in leading was self-preservation.

Ultimately his duplicity cost him the kingdom, his life and the life of his son, Jonathan, who by the way was the better man. (See I Samuel 31:6)

The next king of Israel, David, understood the intrinsic relationship between saying he loved God and acting like (Obedience) he love God. Was he perfect? By no means. As king his sins were very public and had far reaching consequences. But his heart panted for God like a deer for water. The Psalms are full of David’s longing to show his love through obedience.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:165

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97

I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. Psalm 119:113

Of the 176 verses in Psalm 119, at least 90% of them speak of God’s commandments, or precepts, or law, or words, or judgments, or testimonies, or statutes, etc… The entire purpose of this Psalm is to show the important connection between knowing God and not only obeying Him, but having reference and respect for His commandments.

Two kings. One’s actions betrayed what was really in his heart. The other portrayed what was in his heart with his actions (Obedience.)

It’s no different today. We can’t say we love God and still continually disobey His clear commands and principles from His Word. Nor can we say we love one another when we do not hold each other accountable to “obey rather than sacrifice.”

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

God does not save us so we can continue to do as we please. (Proverbs 21:2)

He saved us so we can do His good pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5-12)

So which king are we? After all, as children of the King of Kings we are royalty. Do we act more like royal brats or royal nobility?


Photo Credit: Margaret Richards \