Author: Beth
•Sunday, December 25, 2011

''He was poor, that he might make us rich.
He was born of a virgin that we might be born of God.
He took our flesh, that he might give us His Spirit.
He lay in the manger, that we may lie in paradise.
He came down from heaven, that he might bring us to heaven...

That the ancient of Days should be born. that he who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle...
that he who rules the stars should suck the breast;
that a virgin should conceive;
that Christ should be made of a woman, and of that woman which himself made,
that the branch should bear the vine,
that the mother should be younger than the child she bare,
and the child in the womb bigger than the mother; 
that the human nature should not be God, yet one with God.

Christ taking flesh is a mystery we shall never fully understand till we come to heaven. If our hearts be not rocks, this love of Christ should affect us. 
Behold love that passeth knowledge! Eph 3:19''

  - Thomas Watson, Puritan preacher, 1620-1686

Author: Beth
•Sunday, December 18, 2011

The setting sun streamed in through the half-opened blinds, glistening behind her neatly-piled white hair like a halo, and illuminating the faces of two dozen youngsters on folding chairs. She held an old worn book in her lap, the portal through which she would usher her little audience weekly into rousing stories of Covenanters with a Scottish accent.

A slight rustling sound came from one of the rows. Her narrating voice stopped, and she looked over her glasses at the two whisperers. For a moment, nobody dared to move. In a gentle voice, she broke the silence by beginning to tell the familiar story of a kitty cat that once snuck into church and stole the attention of the worshippers away from God. It isn’t enough that you aren’t paying attention to what God wants you to learn, she would kindly reprimand, but you are also breaking the 8th commandment by stealing time away from everyone else.

Lesson learned. Attention was quickly restored and she resumed the book. She had won the respect of even the youngest of listeners, because everyone knew she loved. Everything about her spoke that louder than words.

Her name was Mrs. Margie Blackwood, the wife of our pastor.  I was one of the young children sitting in her little class every week. From some of my earliest days, she became a face and a name that I loved.

She’s the one who introduced me to the story of the Two Margarets, who both gave their lives because they refused to recant the name of Jesus Christ. I wondered if my faith was strong enough to do the same. She would tell of her salvation testimony and how she came to say “All I want is what You want, God. I don’t want what I want anymore” about everything. I began to say the same thing in my prayers and learned to truly mean it with all of my heart. 

"Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be"

Years passed. I grew into my twenties. Mrs. B was no longer teaching little groups of children on Sunday evenings. Yet, she still kept teaching me – without words.

Another sunshine day found the two of us at her piano, her most beloved instrument. Her memory had faded. Her hair was no longer neatly piled by her own skillful hands. The hands touched the black and white keys with a rare sense of familiarity. She played all the old favorite tunes without music and I learned to call out the ones from her favorite eras.  Her husband, Roy, joined her that afternoon, as he had so many times during their decades of marriage. Together, I watched as they made harmony together – her on the piano and him singing with gusto the old love songs that she had written to him.

Nearly 63 years of marriage between the two, and I, as a single young girl, watched the two of them closely during this autumn season of life. The evidence of God’s grace in their lives sang as strongly and as plainly as the notes that danced out of the old piano. They had weathered many bumps and bruises along the way, which seemed to only have brought them closer together. 

Now, when the years had passed and his wife was unable to do anything, I watched as he laid down his strength to care for her every need.

For nearly the last two years of Mrs. B’s life, I had the privilege of visiting her nearly every week. She taught me how to just enjoy having “a good day” when she spent it at the piano or re-reading old letters. She taught me that God’s faithfulness is greater than physical disabilities. His peace can surround a mind that has lost the ability to recognize faces, because the truth of God’s Word lies deeper still. She taught me what it looks like to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear about the other side. But most significantly of all, she and her husband taught me what God’s unending and sacrificial love for His Bride looks like, as I watched a strong marriage and unfailing commitment continue right to the very end.

One evening in November, I drove home into a glorious golden sunset emblazoned across the sky, thinking about my friend who had just gone Home. Heaven seemed a little more real and near to me now. The best had finally come for her. The words that she had written years ago had been proven true:

In the yonder world of heaven there’s no need for a sun.
There’s no need for a moon to shine for light.
In that blessed hour, I will see my Lord face to face,
And forever live with Him, where all has been made right.

…O glorious heaven when my soul will attain perfect joy,
Beyond the mountain top when I have finished my race,
I will rest eternally upon the arm of God
Then, I will look upon my precious Lord – face to face.
Mgb 7/3/97
Author: Beth
•Friday, November 25, 2011

It's the day after Thanksgiving. My heart is still filled with the tastes of His goodness - the quiet moments in between the bustling of family to savor every flavor.

There is just a certain air of familiarity that comes with family gatherings - a warm "yes, I know these people" kind of feel. There isn't pretense or formality. It's the kind where you can switch drink glasses and slip food onto others' plates. Or when you can sack out on the couch after the big meal and nobody gets offended. Or the amused significant glances shared across the table because you know exactly what the other is thinking.

Yes, I know these  people.

Today, I avoided the hustle and bustle of the stores and instead blared Christmas music through my car speakers as I went for my weekly visit to a dear friend. He had just lost his wife of 63 years last week. As I rounded the corner to his room, the therapist pulled me aside and whispered: "His eyes just lit up when you walked in!" I smiled, because my heart had lit up too.

Yes, I know these  people.

These kinds of encounters warm my heart to its very core. It encircles me like a big warm hug. I'm so glad that God created us to be relational beings -- so we can have just a taste of something Greater through the love and friendship of others. A little bit of Himself.

So, as I curled up by myself, late on the day after Thanksgiving, I had three little words pulled in close to my heart.

He knows me. 

I just sit still, letting those words wash over my heart and calm my mind. They sink deeply into the most personal corners, bringing security that drowns me in its wake. If I could fully drink of what these words really mean...

Because He knows me, I can trust Him to pick me up when I fail miserably {Ps. 103:14}
Because He knows me, I can stand in His righteousness, clean and forgiven, with confidence. {Jer. 23:6}
Because He knows me, I can always guarantee arms that will be holding me.{Ps.139:5}
Because He knows me, I am free to give of myself to others without needing anything in return. {Col.2:10}
Because He knows me, I can trust Him with my dreams for the future. {Jeremiah 29:11}
Because He knows me, I can walk confidently knowing that my steps are perfectly marked. {Ps.139:3}
Because He knows me, I know He has experienced every memory with me. {Ps.139:3}
Because He knows me, I can be assured that my life will not be wasted {John 15:5}
Because He knows me, I can rest in His acceptance of me above all others {Ephesians 1:6}
Because He knows me, I am part of a family that shares a common bond in Jesus {Eph. 5:30}
Because He knows me, I have free access to all that He is {1 Cor. 1:30}

All that, and so much more. All because Jesus has redeemed me and called me by name as His own. Even with the abundance of friends that I can share my heart with, none of them can understand, truly understand, like Jesus. He knows me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. What security. What confidence. What hope.

So tonight, as every other day of the year, I want to just thank God for those three little words.
Jesus knows me.
This I love.
Author: Beth
•Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering is a gift. It is that tiny shining thread that weaves together the memories of past everyday breaths and links them intrinsically with Providence. The tapestry of the mind is adorned with the brilliant colors of faithfulness, security, love, strength, and ultimate sovereignty of the One who orders all things rightly.

Sometimes, it’s those very memories that give the strength to carry on… when wrapped up in the warmth of what God has done.

But what do I do with the dark and faded places of that very cloth that is made up of the past? Those sharp splinter memories that make my heart bleed? The past tears that blot out the beauty?  Those ugly rips and tears that don’t make any sense?

My country had to face that question this year. Ten years later and the memories are still fresh from evil that spilled blood on this land. The haunting faint smell of smoke still lingers on the beams erected to remind us not to forget.

The scenes are forever etched in our minds. For many of us, old enough to understand even the basic ramifications of such a tragedy, find it hard to forget. Hard to understand. Hard to forgive.

Yet, remembering is a gift. Still, even in the darkest of times.

For even with the pain and agony of the human heart comes a realization that something isn’t the way it should be. When I look back on the events of September 11, 2001, the memories give more perspective to the life that I now live, the freedoms that I enjoy, and the sacrifices that have been made. It also makes me yearn for the day when all things that have been wronged will be set right – on that great and glorious day when Jesus returns.

It is my prayer that these kinds of remembrances will point all of us to Christ. 

And finally, we pray that you wage war against the terror in our own hearts—our rebellion against you, our pride, our worry, our disobedience, our hatred, our cowardice, our intolerance and our overtolerance.  May we see every disaster—be it hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, or terrorism—as an opportunity and a summons to repent. Help every American to realize—as well as every Chinese, Korean, and Arab Muslim—that far worse will befall us on that day when the rocks and mountains crumble and people all over the world flee from the wrath of the Lamb. May every moment of adversity and prosperity point us to Christ. Keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Perfector of our faith. Let us run to Christ. Let us cling to Christ. Let us find forgiveness in Christ. Let us find assurance in Christ. For the only true promise of peace, in this life and in the next, is found in Christ. We gladly confess that he is our only comfort in life and in death. 
Some trust in chariots; some trust in horses; some trust in the Koran; some trust in their wealth; some trust in their ancestors; some trust in their degrees; some trust in tanks and talks and predator drones. But we trust in the name of the Lord our God. It’s in his name of the Lord Jesus that we live and move and have our being, and it’s in his name we pray...

“Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”

For my country, today, O Lord…
Author: Beth
•Monday, August 29, 2011
May we all start off this new week with words such as these ringing in our hearts and envigorating our steps. Happy Monday, friends!

Lord of the cloud and fire,
I am a stranger, with a stranger's indifference;
My hands hold a pilgrim staff, My march is Zionward,
My eyes are toward the coming of the Lord,

My heart is in Thy hands without reserve.

Thou hast created it,
redeemed it,
renewed it,
captured it,
conquered it.
Keep it from every opposing foe,
crush in it every rebel lust,
mortify every treacherous passion,
annihilate every earthborn desire.

All faculties of my being vibrate to Thy touch;
I love Thee with soul, mind, body, strength,
might, spirit, affection, will,
desire, intellect, understanding.

Thou art the very perfection of all perfections;
All intellect derived from Thee;
My scanty rivulets flow from Thy unfathomable fountain.

Compared with Thee, the sun is darkness,
All beauty deformity,
All wisdom folly,
The best goodness faulty.

Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than my dull heart can yield;

Invigorate my love that it may rise worthily to Thee,
tightly entwine itself round Thee,
be allured by Thee.

Then shall my walk be endless praise.

~The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers

Author: Beth
•Saturday, August 20, 2011

It’s days like today that make me realize what I’m made of.

Slightly on the warm side, but if I breathe deeply with just enough imagination, I can grasp just a hint of autumn change. The few brave flowers that have withstood the summer’s heat stand stoic and upright, almost oblivious that their brilliant colors stand only in competition with the occasional sun beam that peaks through the overcast sky.

Days like today, when life seems to pause – almost trembling - as if the slight breeze that shakes an occasional leaf brings the whisper that fall is coming. Hard to imagine that this scene of summer couldn’t just go on forever and ever. Hard to imagine that life will follow the inevitable.

Days like today, when the fresh memory of wrinkled hands grasping my own still linger. When I see the pained look in the sharp blue eyes, knowing that fall has come, and that change is a hard season when you’re just looking forward to the glorious bliss of the hereafter. When the life-long friends, with faltering steps and silvery white hair, laugh together at the memories gone by – each with an empty chair beside them.

Was it hard for them to imagine too?

Days like today, when the restless side gives way to reflection. The hopes that have been disappointed even in the youth of life. The wrestling with the darkness of soul and the sky-searching for the light of truth. The painful uprooting of lingering sin that cannot be ignored any longer. The youthful vigor and excitement of life take a meaningful pause, when I remember what still must die inside.

The radio croons out the old lyrics of “Young at Heart.” The web ad flashes “Forever 21.” The old man waiting for the elevator makes a wistful comment about the years gone by.

I look in the mirror and almost ache for this little heart – with all its vain passions and deceits – to be old. In fact, to remember that it is already dead. The battle that was won for my heart years ago still needs to be reminded of victory. To give up on its frivolous pursuits and realize what is really important.

I want to stop just thinking about summer and breathe in the smells of autumn. I want to visit the cemetery of my soul often, just so I can read the tombstones and remember from where I came from.

Then, I want to go out and dance in the sunshine of my Savior’s grace. Oh, such grace! Fill my lungs with the pure and sweet summer air of His everlasting peace for the rest of this life.

And sing my heart out.

A heart that has died and been resurrected anew. A heart that pumps to the rhythm of an eternal song.

Yes, days like today are good for my soul


to know what it means to really live.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

||Gal. 2:20

Author: Beth
•Monday, July 04, 2011


It was on the mind of the fathers who founded this country on “reliance of divine Providence” and pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” for the cause of free and independent states. It was the whispered word of every slave who broke free from their iron shackles and followed the North Star. It is the rallying cry for every soldier who wears the flag as they fight to end terror for the love of God and country.

Today, on this 4th of July, my fellow Americans and I are welling up with patriotism and thanking God for freedom. Even as broken and needy as she is, we still enjoy liberty and privileges as citizens of the United States that are unparalleled by anywhere else in the world.

Today, my heart is also thinking about what it means to be REALLY free… in a way so much deeper than political or national sentiments.

This past year, I’ve seen dear loved ones taken home from this earth and from their battles with cancer to live with Jesus. I’ve seen new countries go through birth pangs, and thought of the dear friends left there who have the light of Jesus Christ in their eyes. I’ve seen struggles with sin that have been overwhelming and victories through Jesus that have been glorious. I’ve come to grips with some of the deepest places of my own heart and am learning to cling more closely to the light of the gospel.

So, today, I’m thanking Jesus even more so for this kind of freedom, and echoing the following words from the depths of my own heart:

Indeed, to be set free by you, Jesus, is to be really free (John 8:36). We praise you for freedom from the demands of the law and the paralyzing guilt of our sin, for you took our place on the cross, exhausting the judgment we deserve. We praise you for freedom over the insidious power of sin, for you’ve broken its dehumanizing dominion in our lives. We praise you for freedom from the ever-present fear of death, for you domesticated its sting and pillaged the grave of its victory.

We praise you for freedom to obey God from our hearts, no longer out of pride, pragmatics, or pretense. We praise you for the freedom to come boldly to the throne of grace—into the eternal Holy of Holies, for you’ve secured this “new and living way” for us. We praise you for the freedom of repentance, for you’ve borne our shame and we don’t have to pretend or pose anymore. We praise you for the freedom to take gospel-risks, instead of rusting away the rest of our lives in self-protection and self-indulgence. For life is no longer about our performance, but your praise; not about our security, but your glory; not about saving face, but saving grace.

Jesus, by the power of the gospel, we’ll seek to stand firm in these and many more freedoms you’ve won for us. And in those moments (regretfully, sometimes longer) when we’re seduced back under the joy-robbing yoke of legalism or other demeaning slaveries, restore us quickly to gospel-sanity. Hallelujah, what a Savior you are! Hallelujah, what a salvation you freely give us! So very Amen we pray, your liberating and loving name.

- "A Prayer for Standing Firm in Gospel Freedom" by Pastor Scotty Smith

Let true freedom ring in the hearts of every blood-bought child of the living God and in every corner of His Kingdom throughout this world.

Author: Beth
•Monday, March 28, 2011
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself.

You have to take yourself in hand, you have to

address yourself,

preach to yourself,

question yourself.

You must say to your soul:

'Why art thou cast down' -- what business have you to be disquieted?'

You must turn on yourself,

upbraid yourself,

condemn yourself,

exhort yourself,

and say to yourself:


-- instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way.

And then, you must go on and remind yourself of God,

Who God is,

and what God is,

and what God has done,

and what God has pledged Himself to do.

Then, having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself.

and defy other people

and defy the devil and the whole world,

and say with this man

'I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.'"

- Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, Spiritual Depression
Author: Beth
•Friday, February 18, 2011
[Author's note: If I can just be permitted to dust off this little corner of the web for a few moments, I thought I would share a few more thoughts in the same vein as the ones previously posted. In light of the recent Sudan referendum and birth of a new country, I thought it to be appropriate. Hopefully, my writing hiatus won't last much longer and I'll be back to posting regularly once again. Thanks for your patience!]

The sunlight streams through the edges of the grass mat roof, spotlighting dark faces with patches of light. Dozens are crammed on hard log branch bences for the morning church service.

It is Sunday morning, and there are at least two faces in the crowd that certainly do not blend in. Laurie Filson and I have tagged along with long-time missionary Vince Ward to visit Lo Mading, one of the mission churches growing rapidly in Southern Sudan. After many weeks of experiencing life with the Cush4Christ team under the African sun, we both approach this final Lord's Day with eagerness and a twinge of sadness. I look around, trying to etch every single face into my memory - looking back into the dark eyes that followed my every move.

What was about to take place in front of me, thousands of miles away from the familiar and ordinary, would be the stage for God to show me just how close Home really is.

A wiry young fellow, barely in his teens, is leading the singing. He is clothed in slightly baggy, mismatched clothes and he is barefoot, but these things are hardly noticeable after seeing his face. Sweat glistens on his dark features. His eyes are closed as he sings his heart ourt. His entire body is enveloped into the singing, as if the words escaping his lips were running through his veins. Thin arms pump the air victoriously and his feet kick up tufts of dirt as he makes his way up and down the makeshift aisle.

Pure, unaffected joy.
Worship in an entirely different language that speaks louder than words ever could.

Another young man, Ajou, only recently passed by Presbytery to be licensed to preach, stands in front of the fledgling congregation. I can see the joy in his eyes, the excitement erupting all over his dark face. I can hear the edge in his voice betraying the zeal of his soul. The words that issued from his lips were still a mystery to my untrained ears, but as a preacher to his own, these words aren't dead. They are filling the four corners of the grass-mat enclosure, bounding into the listening ears of the people crowded together.

Twenty-five believers are lining up for baptism now. The water droplets run down their faces - some young and smooth, others wrinkled and scarred - as they, one-by-one, identify themselves boldly with Jesus Christ and a new life.

It is a celebration.

You can feel it in the air. The voices echo all around me and I can hear their praises erupting to God in their own language. I don't understand a word of it, by the joyful tears that are welling up in my eyes match the glistening droplets that still linger in their dark hair.

Then, in the midst of all the Dinka language, I hear something that I do understand ... a few English words!
I look over, and for a moment, our missionary friend is praying a blessing for the people. It is a very small thing, just a short prayer to add to what the baptizing pastor has already prayed for the new believers. But in that moment, hearing my own language resonates deeply in my heart. I didn't even realize how much I had missed it.
It was as if someone had turned a spotlight on to that beautiful scene, allowing the colors to glisten in a way veiled before. Hearing the echoes of my own heart being put into words revealed how much I had been missing by not being able to comprehend the language of those around me.
If I thought I understood, I did even more so now.
A few days later, we embarked a small white plane to begin our trek back to America, carrying months of memories with us. The crowning pinnacle of our reflections, as we watched the ground disappear below, turned heavenward and we considered the Kingdom work that God is doing through the labors of the dear missionary friends that we leave behind.
That church service scene, like so many others before it , bore the obvious signs of His redeeming work - clear indications of the gospel captivating hearts and transforming lives. We see these things in missions, though imperfect, and it causes us to rejoice in it, wait for it, work for it, long for its completion. God "has put eternity into man's heart" (Ecc. 3:11) and those eternal souls are finding Biblical language in whcih to praise Him!
Sometimes it isn't easy. We don't "blend in" and certainly don't always understand the meaning of these little tastes of eternity. As C.S. Lewis has aptly said, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." One day, all things will be made known, every knee shall bow, the goal of missions will be finished, and we will worship together with one voice before our Savior.
Yes, I'm on my way home.
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." - 1 Corinthians 13:12