A Letter-Live!

LetterBy Elaine Baldwin | elainehbaldwin

Along with millions in our country and even around the world, I’ve paused and contemplated the evil brought upon the community of Sandy Hook, CT. The images and accounts from that day and in these ensuing days of pain have been part of conversations and integral in prayers…as they should be. This truly is a time to weep with those who weep. But I live half a country away and know no one personally or even remotely connected with this greatest of heartaches.

I am only one and the complexity and depth of the need is great, but it is my heart’s desire to do something…not just anything…but something…profoundly meaningful.

But, what will last? What will have the greatest impact; not just for those in Sandy Hook, but for our nation?

I struggled with a suitable answer until I was reminded of a letter received long ago that I had  pulled out from my stash a few months ago. I’ve poured over its words several times since its rediscovery and I believe it is most appropriate for the times we abide in.

The letter was written by a man, a leader, facing great struggles. In fact his life could be characterized as one big tragedy. I think that is what makes his letter so credible and practical. He didn’t write it as one who’d been spared hardship. No! He lived in hardship every day and yet he believed and lived with great hope and strength. I guess you could say he practiced what he preached. I like that.

I don’t like being told how to get along in life by people surrounded by comfort and ease. But, not this man. He’s seen and lived among wickedness and evil. He wrote this letter to several of us who have lived in captivity. (I guess I’ve never told you about my captivity. I will some day.) Captivity is awful and can hardly be described in words. And I must say that when I first read his letter I thought him crazy, at the least, and, at worst, callous.

Did he not understand what we captives were going through? Had he forgotten our cries as we were carried away  and dragged from the arms of our loved ones? Did he not realize our deepest desire to be free from the unbearable pain and anguish? Of course, he did. Though it took me several reads to understand the wisdom of his words and his plan for not just surviving our captivity, but thriving even while in captivity. Because even though we may be captive, we are free and no one can separate us from the One who gives this freedom.

It seems impossible, but I share his letter with you now as a testament to its truth and power.

Oh, I almost forgot. I think you have this letter as well. You remember. It’s the letter from Jeremiah. I know you have it. It’s probably just stashed away like mine was. Jeremiah 29: 1 and 4-13

Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon…

…Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD. For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Here’s the bottom line according to Jeremiah.The very best thing we can do for our hurting nation.

Live life While Seeking Our Nations Welfare!

The saying goes, “The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” I think that is true. But according to God, evil also needs God’s people to stop living and to only exist. There is a huge difference! It would have been easy for these captives to simply give up. To stop living and just survive. But God commanded them to thrive and live fully. As the New Testament puts it, “to be salt and light.” We can’t do that if we allow our weeping to become more than consoling and instead turn into worry, fear and despair.

Do you want to help those in Sandy Hook? I do!

Do whatever tangible, specific thing God instructs you personally to do and then…Live!

Live wholeheartedly with reckless abandon for God and His Son, Jesus Christ!

Seek the welfare of our nation; however God shows you to do so.

This is this week’s One Another Living Challenge, and, I would dare say, the never ending challenge for all of us!

(I was re-introduced to this passage in the Fall of 2012 by Janet Parshall at the True Woman conference in Indianapolis, IN. It has made a huge impact on my outlook on life and drilled my focus to why God leaves me here, a captive in a sin cursed world. I pray my small, condensed, and inadequate version of Janet’s insights compel you to thrive as we wait for our complete deliverance to Glory! You can hear Janet on Moody Radio and you can also purchase her book, “Buyer Beware”. This is not a book about economics…it is about living life fully in a hostile world. I highly recommend it.)

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Happy Thanksgiving!

In October 1863

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed these words:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

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And the Winner is…Love One Another!

By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

Well, it’s finally here. Somewhat like Christmas, you’re either expectant or you’re just glad to finally get it over with. Tomorrow is Election Day 2012. There is probably a good number of you who have voted already. Thank you! I am truly glad you took your privilege of voting seriously. Our right to vote is a serious thing and many…many have died to protect that right.

They say voter turn out should be strong and to expect long lines. And that is good, too. It means, as a whole, Americans are taking this voting privilege personally. It is indeed an important election. But, aren’t they all?

Certainly every time we have a free choice to cast our ballot and freely give our opinion of who should be in certain offices and what should be the course of certain issues, we should understand that freedom is significant. To be honest, I’ve not cast my ballot every time I had the opportunity. Therefore, I have to admit, as a non-participant in freedom’s greatest privilege, I am culpable for some of the mess that is out there. I regret this and will not be so lazy in the future no matter how “small” the issue or office on the ballot may be or what time of year it is.

But that is not the main purpose of this post. The main purpose of this post is to remind us that Love trumps all and Love Himself still seats on The Eternal Throne. So no matter who wins what office (and I do have my own preference) GOD REIGNS!

I heard a timely sermon today from Adrian Rogers. The title of the sermon is: “Don’t Let an Election Still Your Song.” You can listen to the whole message here. Of course, many of you realize Pastor Rogers has been home in heaven for many years. His ministry, “Love Worth Finding,” simply chose to replay this message the day before this next election day. I don’t even know which election had just taken place when Pastor Rogers gave this message from his home church pulpit. But, I do know from the context of the message that he knew his flock was worried by who had just been elected president.

What was the theme of Pastor Rogers message to his congregation? This is not an exact quote, but it’s close: “The Holy Trinity has not been taken by surprise. They are not having emergency meetings trying to figure out what to do next.” I am smiling again at this astute observation.

Love has already won and so have we if we are His born-again followers.

So, the real question isn’t who is going to win tomorrow.

The real question is how will Jesus’ followers respond and continue to share His Good News.

So, this week’s Love One Another Challenge is to simply do that. However God shows you to do it…Love One Another.

And let’s not forget that we are also commanded to love our neighbor and our enemy. I think that just about covers everyone we’ll bump into this week. Not an easy challenge. I pray God will give each of us His strength, His Wisdom and His Truth. Remember love without truth is heresy and truth without love is hypocrisy.

May God Bless Each of You and I Deeply Pray He Will Still Bless America!

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