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2021, 5 Baldwin new books, edited

God Provides – A Library

by Rev. Mark Baldwin
Reformed BPC, Weed, CA
the Missions Banner, May 2021 (online edition)

As a missionary in Cambodia, there was a limit to what I could bring with me.  I initially had my Bible, a daily devotional and a couple of notebooks.  On each trip to the US, I would bring a couple of books back with me, but my library in Cambodia was tiny.  It was impossible to read online because the internet was virtually non-existent in Phnom Penh in the early years of ministry in Cambodia.  Mostly, I settled for the old books I could store on my computer and read there.  My other books were in storage in someone’s basement… which got flooded while I was overseas.  I was sad…

Upon returning to the US and getting settled in the church here in Weed, California, I was reunited with my old library.  Sadly, many of the most useful books had been disposed of due to water damage.  I continued to do more than 90% of my reading on my PC or phone. I was resigned to that because I couldn’t justify the expense of buying new books and was satisfied with what the Lord had provided—a large electronic library.  At least until one day in March this year…

Our elder learned of the passing of one of his fellow elders who had moved an hour and a half away.  In the course of comforting the family and going to the funeral, he inquired about his friend’s extensive library.  This friend was a devout believer and his library was full of excellent material.  Eventually, we bought a large portion of the library and picked it up.  It is quite a treasure trove!  There is everything from old puritan to modern authors.  As I prepare my sermon this week, I have 11 printed commentaries and another 15+ in my Bible program not to mention many books and articles that touch on my subject matter.  Certainly, I have more to read than is feasible!  Of course, as I read the materials, some favorites that I always consult rise to the top, and others will collect dust and only be consulted on particular occasions.

Of course, research for sermons and lessons is only half of the reading.  I have more than my height in books picked out that I want to read, just for the sake of growing my own knowledge, faith, and practice.  I can finally sit in a comfy chair, put on my dust mask and read to my soul’s content.  I have enough reading for the rest of my life, and then some…  Quite a blessing!

We’ve been reminded, both in our sermon series of 1st Peter and in our Bible study on fear that if we put our hope in Christ, store our treasure in heaven, and find our contentment in God and in eternity, we can experience true contentment, even in the most unpleasant of times.  Since deciding to quit my job and go to seminary 25 years ago, I’ve been struggling to let go of worldly things and be satisfied with Christ alone.  Now old and seeing my body struggle with Parkinson’s, I’ve really started to live the message I preach in this area.  Christ is my portion.  I think now that I’ve come to this point the Lord has blessed me with a gift—a library.

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