In the Great Hand of God I Stand

by Mary Beth on January 22, 2019

“Nothing is alien in thy world immense-

No look of sky or earth or man or beast;

“In the great hand of God I stand, and thence”

Look out on life, his endless, holy feast.

To try to feel is but to court despair,

To dig for a sun within a garden-fence:

Who does thy will, O God, he lives upon thy air.”

~George MacDonald

As we travel through different seasons of life,

often the hymns,

“This is my Father’s world”, or “Great is Thy faithfulness” will comfort,

encourage and remind us to rest in God.

For He is our provision and protection especially when, at times,

we find ourselves feeling a bit alien, surprised or alone in our circumstances.

Our trust in God may appear to be tested or refined,

yet we find our hearts can return once again,

to walk in the fear of the LORD.

“To love God with “all our heart” is to know the spiritual passion
of measureless gratitude for loving-kindness,
and self-devotedness to goodness;
to love Him “with all our mind,” is to know the passion for Truth
that is the enthusiasm of Science,
the passion for Beauty that inspires the poet and the artist,
when all truth and beauty are regarded as the self-revealings of God;
to love Him “with all our soul,”
is to know the saint’s rapture of devotion and gaze
of penitential awe into the face of the
the saint’s abhorrence of sin, and agony of desire to save a sinner’s soul;
and to love Him “with all our strength,”
is the supreme spiritual passion that tests the rest;
the passion for reality,
for worship in spirit and in truth,
for being what we adore, for doing what we know to be God’s word;
the loyalty  that exacts the living sacrifice,
the whole burnt-offering that is our reasonable service,
and in our coldest hours
keeps steadfast to what seemed good when we were aglow.”
~J. H. Thom


Eternity and Mortality

by Mary Beth on January 1, 2019

“I have a confession to make: I don’t struggle with prayer. I struggle with priorities.” Nathan W. Bingham

Moses prayed for his generation, desiring God’s blessing as they wandered in the wilderness. What if we follow Moses in his prayer, to seek God’s mercy for our generation in times of aimless wilderness and the challenges against authority? And to pray for the future generations after us?

Psalm 90 turns our attention not only to time and how quickly it passes, but invites our focus on the description of God as eternal and unchanging. He is our dwelling place, “in all generations; from ever-lasting to ever-lasting He is God.” Scripture speaks to help us understand how short our human life is; and how we are like a dream or like grass. “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” ESV

In the midst of life in the wilderness, God has mercy on His people with His own presence. He is our Immanuel, God with us. He has promised to never leave or forsake us. According to His great mercy, we have been born again to a “living hope” through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3. Our perspective on the word hope, leans toward circumstances which hold levels of uncertainty. Biblical hope is based upon certainty; a confident expectation. Do we have an eager expectation of biblical hope?

1 Peter 1:4 references our living hope, “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Living hope refers to an undying and lasting character of this hope. In the midst of life’s absurdities and ambivalence, Moses remembers our eternal and great God of all hope. Throughout his prayer, guidance and wisdom speaks of God’s eternal character, purposes, promises, and plans.

Our living hope in Christ, steps into our ordinary day to press forward, to persevere through pain and endure trials and suffering. We are not left without hope. Yes, wounded and at times stunned by what we see and hear within ourselves and without in the world, yet we press on to trust and to keep ourselves in the perfect love of God. As Archer Butler writes, “…it’s the unchanged smile of an eternal Friend.”

In 2019, I invite you to join me in the prayer of Moses, from Psalm 90:

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom; satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days. Let the favor of the Lord be upon us; and establish the work of our hands; yes establish the work of our hands.”

God gives eternal significance to the hearts and hands that serve Him. With confidence in a living hope through Christ, let’s press on and take hold of God’s mercy to our souls in these concerning times. Like Moses, we are dependent people upon God’s blessings. May His kingdom come.


Precious Faith, Precious Promises, Precious Blood  

by Mary Beth on November 14, 2018


If you haven’t noticed, I have a growing respect and loyalty for Africa. My experiences in Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan, have improved my understanding of how their communities developed into strong, positive culture identities. I am thankful for the unforgettable opportunities with my sisters of faith in these African countries, where I’ve absorbed and gained valuable life experiences, as well as expanded my global awareness. Each visit I encountered answered prayer and a deeper love for women in their individual cultures, admiring their resilient faith, and close-knit communities. These experiences impacted and refreshed my personal faith, witness, and future travels internationally. As I reflect, several fond memories stand out to me.

They passionately, beautifully worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Together, we engaged in worship that involved our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Early morning devotions invited vibrant, worshipful dancing and laughter. How refreshing to enjoy God in their traditional style and culture. At one point, we marched around the room while clapping, jumping, and shouting glory to God. I learned not only to wake my soul, but also to speak to my soul and call forth vitality in worship for his pleasure. Praise be to our LORD, the God of all hope! It was necessary for them to be courageous, bold, and steadfast in their ordinary days, and their worship was equally unwavering. Through their exuberance, they prove that salvation in and through Christ is the beginning not the end of life, especially as the enemy is relentless to pesterand tauntus, to bully our convictions and weighus down with doubts.

The Word of God is their anchor, hope, and treasure—together. In Smooth Stones Taken from Ancient Brooks, Thomas Brooks writes,“Three things are called precious in the Scriptures: ‘precious faith (2 Peter 1:1); ‘precious promises’ (verse 4); ‘precious blood’ (1 Peter 1:19). Well may grace be called the Divine nature, for as God brings light out of darkness, comfort out of sorrow, riches out of poverty, glory out of shame, so does grace bring day out of night, and sweet out of bitter, and plenty out of poverty, and glory out of shame. It turns encounters into gold, pebbles into pearls, sickness into health, and wants into abundance, having nothing and yet possessing all things.”

Whenever God grants us the ability to hear and witness how he transforms a heart to hold a precious faith, in his precious promises, all through the precious blood of Christ, it’s awe-inspiring. What an honor together,to trust God in faith, dive into the holy Scriptures, and to stand on the blood of Christ with my sisters and new friends of diverse backgrounds. As different as we have been individually created to be, together we run to our hope and rest in Christ. Together we encourage one another to persevere in faith. Together we embrace, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through our knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”  2 Peter 1: 3-9.

The Holy Spirit moves mightily in their midst to lead them in applying the Bible. Immediately after the women concluded their morning worship and Bible study, they rushed out the door eager to witness to their friends and families the convictions they learned from our study in the Word of God. They promptly acted intentionally, willing to give away what they freely received. How the women seriously appropriated the message and ministry of reconciliation was unforgettable.

It was powerful for me to witness their joyful disposition, especially because of the remarkable fact that most, if not all, of the women arrived on foot, then again in the hot afternoon sun repeated the walk back to their villages. This experience was a fresh wind of motivation into my heart and prayer to witness at home locally and globally to the nations. I need to be purposeful to give away what I have so freely receive. If I’m sincere, the opportunity to offer spiritual insight or doctrinal theology confronts my daily idol of comfort. I’ve learned to actually enjoy an open door for evangelism and apologetics.

Although times are changing at a rapid pace in our American culture of moral reformation, God and his ways are immutable. This is what I witnessed in other cultures as well. Against all hope, women moved forward in audacity, confidence, and joy in the Lord.

The women use their artistic gifts.Throughout the separate communities and countries, women displayed their handiwork in huts, grocery stores, airports, tiny shopping centers, and stands. Handmade jewelry, bags, wooden items, and so on, abound for any interest and age. In Kenya, a team created a factory to fire local hand-painted jewelry made of clay. The company employs widows to complete most of the daily work, and to sell their own jewelry at the company’s store next door. The jewelry store is filled with beautiful clay creations of numerous colors, sizes, and styles. It was meaningful to tour the jewelry company and acknowledge the women enjoying their work. It also benefits them for Americans to purchase jewelry made in Africa online.

In the rural parts of Africa, many live in primitive manmade huts, but their hospitality is rich.The huts are built of natural materials: the roofs are made of grass or thatch, and the walls are made of clay or mud bricks. It was a humbling experience to be invited into their well-built huts to meet and enjoy their families. I often encountered dark walls of clay, gravel flooring, and maybe a chair in the corner. Yet their joy is deep, sincere, and their faith is robust.

On one visit with a local pastor and his wife, they graciously invited us into their sturdy hut for tea and prayer. Together holding hands with our prayers and trust to God, we pleaded with them for God to help the men in their small church, who were absent due to persecution from their own families. What an honor and strengthening experience to join with our brothers and sisters in other cultures and backgrounds to pray before our Creator God, who hears, knows, and sees all as we live, move and have our being.

Brokenness brings us together.Women were drawn together from very different journeys to share similar struggles in family patterns of addictions, abuse, and marriage reconciliation. Often with limited resources, they waited long years of trusting God to keep his promises. Sometimes due to severe suffering and trials, God’s character, sovereignty, and justice are desperately needed in soul care.

We traveled to help a local church in Kenya establish a recovery ministry within their community. What encouragement to minister together and learn what ministry looks like for their culture. We encouraged one another with shared stories of mutual relational struggles and family experiences in being human, yet affirmed the value, acceptance, and approval of being created in God’s image as our greatest significance. In America, we have a wealth of resources for addictions, abuse, and soul care needs. Although the Internet is accessible, many countries do not have biblical counselors and resources readily available.

So being in these other cultures, helped me understand how to address brokenness in our own culture. When we share our brokenness with one another, it helps drop barriers and false identities that make it difficult to connect otherwise. We approach one another from our different backgrounds and cultures, yet by being vulnerable and open, brokenness helps remove comparison, competitiveness, and protectiveness. If we’re honest, we understand the human condition is deeply broken and depraved. Being in Africa, helped me realize once again how grateful we are to God for the gospel of Christ. The gospel speaks into the already and not yet. The Holy Spirit comforts us and reminds us of biblical truth to set us free. Along with my African friends, I’ve remembered that this is our only hope and stay: to apply our exquisite faith, and to trust the precious promises and blood of Christ.

In July 2018, Redbud Writers Guild posted my article: “Precious Faith, Precious Promises, Precious Blood” Learning from Other Cultures.