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Sola Scripture

But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.” Jude, verses 17-18 NKJV

In my last entry, I listed some names of brilliant Christian apologists in my lifetime. Cluelessly, I added a name to that list which I have now removed—that of the late Ravi Zacharias. Clueless, because I do not do social media, or read periodicals where this gifted man’s tragically egregious demise has been documented.

Along with my shock and a sense of feeling ill, it breaks my heart to think of the victims involved and the countless individuals who were deceived—those who mistakenly trusted the man rather than the message: something Scripture tells us to never do.

Yet this tragic betrayal in no way detracts from Biblical truths proclaimed by this man; rather, Ravi’s demise underscores the truth of our abject NEED for our Savior by highlighting the total depravity of man and the fact that we are unable to save ourselves from God’s wrath.

Only in our Lord and His Word can we trust! Sola Scripture! Nothing on earth, no circumstance—no individual, nation, or Satanic agenda can defeat or in any way derail God’s truth and His eternal plan which will be fulfilled in His timing!

And God did not leave us powerless, lost in our depravity. He sent His Son to redeem us, to give us abundant eternal life. An all-powerful, all loving and forgiving Savior.

Meanwhile, we may never know any more details pertaining to the fallen life of Ravi Zacharias. He very possibly died an excruciating death given the severity of his illness. Did he, in his heart, repent his gross sin and acknowledge the gravity of its consequences?

There was an Old Testament King of Israel who sinned grievously—adding murder as an attempt to cover his sin of adultery. That king was broken by his sin, and he fervently repented.

For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, and You only have I sinned—and done this evil in your sight . . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me . . . . Psalm 51:3-4a, 10-11a NKJV

Margaret L. Been — February 26, 2021

My mother was a classical pianist. Symphonies, concertos, and operas were her musical language, and they are mine as well. But another musical genre was as loved by Mom as the classics: the Black Spirituals.

Most every night throughout my growing up years, and even when I came home during my first year of college, Mom and I had a bedtime tradition. We said a prayer, recited Psalm 1, and sang spirituals.

The favorites which we sang the most often, and the ones I clearly recall, were SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT, and another which I have never heard sung anywhere since: WHERE OH WHERE ARE THE HEBREW CHILDREN? (The next line contains the answer, which I love: “Way down yonder in the Promised Land.”)

This early introduction to God’s Chosen People, the Jews, blossomed consistently over the years into a profound love fueled by relationships and circumstances too numerous to mention outside of an actual book!*

Which leads me directly to a day in 1945, when—at age 12—I suddenly grew up: the day I opened an issue of LIFE MAGAZINE, and saw photos that General Eisenhower’s troops had taken of the Nazi death camps.

My precious Mother—unwilling to give up on a nation that had produced Bach, Beethoven, and others of their musical genius—often commented over the years how there were countless numbers of German people who hated and were sickened by what happened. I believed her! I knew she had to be right! (Indeed, Mom was almost ALWAYS right!) Yet, I always wondered, “Then how could it have happened? If countless German people hated it, how could it happen?”

Over the years, I have had friends from Germany. Hardworking people (anyone from around Milwaukee knows THAT!). Creative individuals, with a verve for life! Because I have loved these friends dearly, and have not wanted to cause them pain—knowing that they had to be among the “countless who hated what had happened”—I have never voiced that age-old question, “How could it have happened?”

Now I know I will NEVER question my German friends, because IT IS HAPPENING TO MY BELOVED UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! A diabolical regime is taking over our nation, despite the fact that countless numbers of us do not want it to happen. We are losing our Freedom of Speech; we are being censored, black–balled, and cancelled. Someday, God forbid, those of us who treasure FREEDOM OF SPEECH may even be subjected to a fate similar to that of God’s Chosen People under Nazi rule,

I know people who will find the above paragraph to be outlandish and ridiculously offbeat! They will say, “Come ON! This is the USA! It’s just politics as usual!”

Well, since our last election, “politics as usual” have veered so far to the left as to be unfathomably horrific. International dealings are back in place which favor nations who want to destroy us. Policies have been re-enacted which are costing thousands of Americans their jobs, while promising to cause even more job loss—potentially creating a culture which will be more dependent on the Federal Government.

Moral values have been mocked and desecrated with a stroke of a pen. Human rights, particularly the rights of the unborn, are blatantly transgressed. We Christians are erroneously pictured by current lock-step mass-media to be uneducated and border-line, if not outright, stupid.

Never mind Malcolm Muggeridge, C.S. Lewis, and Francis Schaeffer—to mention only a very FEW recent names from the hundreds and thousands of brilliant Christian minds down through the centuries. Never mind the fact that we are supposed to be a government of the people, for the people, and by the people! Never mind that tyrannical government has never been of, for, or by THE PEOPLE!

What we now have is tyrannical government! What we will have tomorrow, is beyond my imagination—barring intervention by Almighty God Himself!

However, I know He is Sovereign, and ever in control. His plan will not be thwarted, however confusing and uncertain our current world scene appears. I truly believe our confusing and uncertain world scene reveals that we are experiencing the “Last Days”!

I constantly pray for a movement of God’s Spirit in our land. “His will be done . . . .” Meanwhile, Our Lord will return! After the reign of the Anti-Christ, who may certainly be alive and somewhere on the scene today, The Lord Jesus Christ will return to reign in justice and righteousness—in Jerusalem.

If in doubt, prayerfully read the Gospels, the New Testament letters, and the Old Testament prophets. God’s promises cannot fail! God’s promises stand for all of us who trust in the finished work of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And God’s promises remain intact for His Chosen People, the Jews.

(*I recently did the DNA spit test, and the results came back with 1% Ashkenashi Jew. Not a lot, but “better than none”!)

Margaret L. Been — February 13th, 2021

“Though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all that obey Him.” Hebrews 5:8-9

Have you ever awakened in the night with a memory of something you have done or said, and begun to agonize—thinking, “How could I ever have done or said that?”

Perhaps you continue to mull over the incident, mentally and mercilessly punishing yourself over every detail of the occasion or conversation!

Now I am not referring to something that happened yesterday, or last week. I am thinking of memories from past decades, even FIFTY YEARS AGO—incidents long ago confessed as sin, forgiven and actually forgotten by our great and perfect High Priest, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thus, as I pray through the painful “attack”* and focus on God’s Word I am blessed and washed anew by God’s eternal perspective. Sins Forgiven! Sins Forgotten! Freedom!

“But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified . . . . And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:12-14, 17

There is nothing more reassuring than returning again and again to the book of Hebrews for a detailed description of what we believers possess in Christ, compared to the Old Testament Annual Day of Atonement Ritual—when a human high priest (with a sin nature like ours) entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple, to offer a blood sacrifice of a bull in “restitution” for his own sin and that of his people.

That “sacrifice” had to be repeated year after year, and was only effectual inasmuch as it foreshadowed the blood of the Messiah to come, and His victory over sin: only effectual as faithful believers trusted in God’s plan for the future realty of His Kingdom of righteousness and justice on earth.

Again and again, I remind myself that Jesus paid it all. No “foreshadowing” with an annual ritual. Jesus lives. He redeemed us with the sacrifice of His own blood which is effectual forever. His last words on the cross were, “It is finished.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ rose victorious, and He is sitting at the right hand of God the Father. His sovereign plan prevails for eternity! Indeed, IT IS FINISHED!

*I use the word “attack”, because that is exactly what those sessions of remorse are: attacks of the enemy! The Ephesians 6:10-18 armor is the most essential part of our wardrobe!

Margaret L. Been — February 12, 2021

“And that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that you may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that you may have lack of nothing.”  I Thessalonians 4:11-12

Truly we live in “perilous times”.  History affirms that perilous times have existed since Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden.  But never before have there been the communication options and incredible number of events impacting the entire world simultaneously.

We are not to name a date for the Lord’s return.  But according to Scriptures (Matthew 24 & 25, among many other passages) we are to be wise, live circumspectly, and observe any well-defined indications of the end of the Church Age.  We realize that life as we know it today may suddenly change—literally in “the twinkling of an eye”.

So, to quote the late and wonderful brother in Christ, Francis Schaeffer, “How do we then live?”  The Apostle Paul has comprehensively answered that question for us in his letters—including those to the Thessalonian Christians who were also living in perilous times.  While anticipating our Lord’s return, continuing in love for one another, and sharing the Gospel of salvation whenever possible, we are to “study* to be quiet and to work with our own hands”.  By so doing our physical needs may be adequately met, and we may be able to share material blessings with others who are less fortunate.

But a lot more beyond the obvious material considerations is implied in the 1st Thessalonians passage.  By studying to be quiet and doing our own business, we can witness to “them that are without” by displaying a lifestyle characterized by stability, serenity, creative living, and our blessed (rock-solid!) Hope—even in the most perilous of times. We never give up; we keep on working with our own hands.

Through our lifestyle, we Christians can reflect a tranquil “joie de vivre”—while countless others are experiencing panic, chaos, and the inevitable moral and spiritual unraveling which accompanies .a worldview minus any meaning beyond the tumultuous moment at hand.  We believers are to be radically different:  beacons of light and anchors of reliability, when masses of people around us are metaphorically lost at sea. 

Standing out in the above passage is the word, “own“. Each human on earth is unique. God has blessed us with individual personalities and gifts. He has given each of us an unique calling and potential for ministry. Therefore, any believer who meddles by pressuring others to major in his or her business and ministry is more likely studying to be noisy, rather than quiet. Lost to those sincerely dedicated but unfortunately misled individuals is the fact that when Christ is our life, then ALL OF LIFE IS “ACTIVE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY”!  

Margaret L. Been — February 4th, 2021 (Edited and reprinted from a former entry on my blog, GOD’S WORD IS TRUE)

*The word “study” implies that I am not alone in needing disciplined effort to keep my mouth shut, and live quietly. But as we age, it gets easier. Sometimes we lack the energy to be anything but quiet! 🙂

Beautiful New Teakettle

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

Here and Beyond

Have you ever witnessed a more potentially threatening time in our nation and world?  Has the world ever before seemed to be crowding in so quickly, closer and closer, as it is at this moment?

Have communications ever been more constant and all-encompassing—inescapable unless one stuffs his or her electronic devices in the back of a remote drawer and goes for a long, solitary walk?  Or even better—the very best of all—-unless one plunges head first into the depths of God’s ever-faithful, ever beneficial Word!

God’s Word is the only place to go for rest, for comprehension, perspective, and power.  God’s Word not only mined daily—but stored as priceless treasure for instant, ongoing accessibility and application.

While the clouds grow thicker so does our call as Christians, not only to share the Gospel of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—but to mirror His indwelling Life, so that the fruit of His Holy Spirit can be seen by all, everywhere we go!  We are called today just God’s people were instructed centuries ago:  to live the Christian life, as mandated in Galatians 5:22-23.

Not to rant and rave* over all the things that are amiss (although, when watching the news I sometimes forget!)  Not to tear our clothes, Old Testament style.  Not to scream at those who are “out of line”.  The fruit of the Spirit is the genuine outworking of Christ’s life in us.  Whatever we are doing and wherever we may be as God’s fruit is displayed, differs with each individual whom God calls. 

As we focus on our Lord, He directs our “whatever/wherever“.  Our “Full Time Christian Service” may be public (as in church work, missions, or workplace) or private (as in home and/or friendship circles).  Both are equally valid and vital.  But fruit there must be, if our witness is to be effective.

I have blogged near-volumes on this topic, and God-willing I may continue to write more.  The issue is ever-green because (probably like every other believer, and definitely as Paul recorded in his letter to the Romans) I struggle with reflecting God’s fruit—even given prayer and immersion in His Word.  Patience (longsuffering) is a challenge for me. However, we cannot select some fruit to model while discarding others.  We need to present the whole basketful, delicious and nourishing.

God knows His own.  If I bungle my witness, His own people will still be saved for Eternity; they haven’t lost a thing.  And when I refuse to relax and let Jesus display His fruit through me, I am nonetheless still saved for Eternity.  But I will have missed the eternal blessing that would have come, had I been in sync with our Lord in that instance.

As the clouds grow thicker, I don’t want to miss any opportunity to reflect the life of our Lord.

Margaret L. Been — February 2, 2021

*The most famous sermon in U.S. history is without a doubt, Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  God used this masterpiece (not only of Scripture truth but of literary construction) to pave the way for the movement of His Holy Spirit in an unprecedented revival on our continent. 

Did Jonathan Edwards shout and rave?  No way.  His delivery was unremarkable, and it has been recorded that he actually read his sermons. 

It was God’s truth in this sermon, not the human vehicle, which set the course of American Christianity from the 1700s on.  In fact, had Edwards ranted and raved, his words may never have taken such a profound course.  The man might have attracted more attention than the message.  God chose a quiet-mannered man for the most spectacular movement of the Holy Spirit in our nation.

Although “Sinners” is the most famous of Edwards’ individual messages, it has also been his sermons of joy-filled wonder at the magnificence and beauty of God that theologians, and everyday readers like me have cherished, found edifying, and re-read again and again for rich spiritual encouragement.

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NOTE: I first published this entry on my blog GOD’S WORD IS TRUE, several years ago. Then awhile back, realizing that I could not go on forever juggling several blogs, I re-directed GOD’S WORD IS TRUE readers to this blog. Meanwhile, years of Scriptural input remain on the “GOD’S WORD” site.

The truths therein are perennial. In the event that some NORTHERN REFLECTIONS readers are unaware of my former blogging, I will be reprinting selected entries on this site. MLB

Many of us immediately think of one person when we hear the poignant question, “What is truth?”: Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea who “washed his hands” of the MAN, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom Pilate had declared as innocent. Politics!

In recent months I did a self-study of immersion into the Roman Empire from before Julius Caesar through the Emperor Constantine who changed the political environment of Rome regarding Christianity. In all of my reading, one thought kept surfacing in my mind: technology changes over the centuries but—apart the transformation which accompanies faith in Jesus Christ—human nature does not!

Politics are politics, whether the setting is Ancient Rome or 21st Century U.S.A. A Roman Emperor requested the assassination of individuals who threatened him or his agenda; our newly-elected President, Joe Biden, simply sits in the Oval Office—signing orders with a pen.

Obviously, at this point our government is not so brutal as the Roman Empire was—although outright persecution may come. From my reading I surmised that literal “heads” were significant in the Roman Empire. An Emperor would order an assassination somewhere in the realm, and whomever carried out the dastardly deed would return to Rome with the severed head of the victim: proof of mission accomplished.

Today the “assassinations” are carried out with words by news media which do not deserved the title of JOURNALISM—egregiously biased publications such as THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST, and TV News Networks such as CNN. These news sources only report what the FAR LEFT EMPERORS and their minions decree.

So, WHAT IS TRUTH? God’s WORD, the Bible is TRUTH! The Lord Jesus Christ, God Incarnate is TRUTH. The Holy Trinity, God in Three Persons, is TRUTH.

Without going into the details of all the various policies which our new president is signing into law, two issues of supreme importance cannot be ignored. Joe Biden IS NOT PRO-LIFE. He is authorizing policies which promote abortions here and elsewhere around the world.*

The agenda of Joe Biden IS NOT MORAL. He is authorizing deleterious policies which promote legality, tolerance, and acceptance of immoral sexual and gender issues.

God’s Word irrevocably proclaims the sanctity of human life. Killing unborn children is MURDER. PERIOD! Marriage is a sanctified union between ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN. God created man and woman. He did NOT give permission, or ever intend, for a person to change his or her gender.

In no uncertain terms, I denounce what happened in D.C. on January 6th. President Trump should never have held a rally in Washington on that day. Indeed January 6th, 2021 was a “day of infamy”. Meanwhile, I truly believe that President Trump did not intend for those events to occur; and those events do not in any way obscure the good he did for our nation. Trump is PR0-LIFE, and his policies protected our freedom to worship and obey our Lord—the Author of our Bible.

I have been horrified by what I have read of Qanon’s disgusting conspiracy theories and their projected “military coup”. And I have been especially horrified over the lootings, murders, and massive destruction of property by Antifa and Black Lives Matter in some of our nation’s cities for months—while grossly ignored by THE NEW YORK TIMES and other media of their ilk.

As an Evangelical Protestant Christian Believer, I have been blown away with admiration for the American Roman Catholic Bishops who have spoken out boldly against the policies of President Joe Biden. Without mincing words, these clerics have warned America that our new leaders do not regard the sanctity of the unborn babies’ lives—and our new leaders will promote (already are promoting) immorality and sins against Almighty God!

WHAT IS TRUTH? Those of us in the USA and around the world who know the answer to that question—the TRUTH of Holy Scripture—MUST speak out at every possible opportunity. And those of us with any possible avenue of peaceful public action MUST act! If our present national scene continues unchecked, the day may come when severed heads will replace biased and agenda-driven words! The Ancient Roman Empire revisited.

And above all, PRAY! Only God can heal our nation and set us back on a righteous path. Only God can heal our land through a return to His Word—preached, believed, and applied with our hearts, minds, and deeds. God is TRUTH!

Margaret L. Been — January 30th, 2021 — updated 2/1/21

NOTE: *Abortion IS NOT Health Care!

Until I turned 73, my “artist’s life” consisted of writing, fiber arts, and music. But for many of those years, I had a not-so-secret desire to paint. Then one day a VERY GOOD FRIEND said, “Why don’t you stop talking about it, and JUST DO IT?”

So I “just did it”—and have never looked back. Actually my drawing skills are pathetic. Color/color/color is my strength, and this is obvious to anyone acquainted with my art, my home, and my wardrobe.

For any who have not wandered there accidently or intentionally, I have an art blog which is a lot of fun. Just GOOGLE “Margaret L. Been Messy Palette”. You may be encouraged to join me in making a mess.

I’m convinced there is an artist in everyone. All that is needed to discover that artist is an unflagging desire– along with the self-discipline to work hard nearly every day, plus a willingness to buy good quality art materials in place of something else (outside of the area of pure survival).

If you are so led, I’ll see you at THE MESSY PALETTE. 🙂

Margaret L. Been — January 18, 2021

NOTE: The above painting is very Wisconsin–ish.

SOS AMERICA!

I grew up in the GREAT DEPRESSION AND WWII–during which all Americans sacrificed something. Our sacrifices were relatively small compared to the sufferings in the rest of the world. Yet for some, the sacrifices were tragic!

I have seen good and not so good leadership, but have been thankful ever since I can remember for living in a true representative democracy.

But that has changed. We, the people, have been fed a huge and potentially lethal dose of KOOL-AID. At this moment our freedoms are being removed–specifically the Freedom of Speech. Soon, unless we act quickly, we will lose the Freedom to Worship.

During this time I know that–as Americans did in the 1930s and 40s–I must also “sacrifice” although mine will be by comparison miniscule!

What can I as an 87 year old citizen do? One thing. I have cancelled my pending Amazon orders, and will not order again from AMAZON until its recent ban on Free Speech has been rescinded.

AMAZON has cancelled the only remaining huge online platform for sharing pro-representative democracy and freedom of speech, PARLER. So my online shopping will be from sources other than THE BIG SMILE.

What will this mean for AMAZON, the largest “general store” in the history of the human race? Not even a dent, if I am the only one. But if several thousand, or much better a few million, were likewise motivated a statement would be made.

Every month for the last 7 years, Amazon has been my main shopping venue aside from the local supermarket. That covers gift shopping–massive in a family with 6 children, 14 grandchildren, and currently 20 great-grandchildren. Plus clothing (I am the proverbial “Clothes Horse), household essentials and decorating extras, some of my office supplies, all household cleaning products, laundering/dish washing and paper goods, electronic items, small appliances, carpets, lamps and ceiling lights, printer ink, cat food and litter, many food items, etc. Multiplied by a few more zeros, Jeff Bezos would take notice!

Actually, I have never used any social media. I am protesting the canceling of the one large conservative expression venue after thousands were thrown off Twitter and Facebook because I am a loyal American, and this Totalitarian Takeover is beyond horrible. It must be stopped!

I am not a political activist. I am not an extremist. I am a born again Christian. Decades ago, I WAS an activist, spending considerable time and energy in peaceful promotion of Civil Rights. When Martin Luther King was assassinated, I joined a massive Memorial March through the heart of Milwaukee.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in those activities, and I would do likewise today, if I could. But I would NOT be involved in the egregious demonstrations that rocked several American cities in the summer of 2020–the killing, burning, looting, and destruction of lives and livelihoods that took place affecting mainly my black fellow citizens.

Black Lives matter to ME! BUT quite categorically, BLACK LIVES DO NOT MATTER TO THE ORGANIZATION CALLED BLACK LIVES MATTER!

And I would NOT be involved in the horrendous scenario recently enacted at our nation’s capitol. Nor would the huge majority–the many millions of voters who supported our President Donald Trump because for four years he did an excellent job of making the USA a safer, more prosperous, and more equitable place to live!

The peaceful protest of “Goodbye Amazon” times 1 sounds almost ridiculous. But times a few million? It is certainly worth a try! SOS AMERICA!

Margaret L. Been — January 13, 2021

With all the world developments since my last entry, some may think perhaps I should eat words.  I have decided not to, nor will I delete the last post, although the current pandemic has indeed exceeded anything I (or many of us!) imagined weeks ago.  I stand by the last entry, as appropriate as it was when written and still worth considering today.

Moreover, I want to continue on the theme of “perspective”—while moving from our human perspective which is limited and subject to change, to God’s perspective which has NEVER changed and—praise God—NEVER WILL!

We are so accustomed to thinking in terms of “what is happening” on earth, and what we can actually see with our eyes and hear with our ears, that it is easy to fall into the trap of an all-encompassing “here and now” focus—while forgetting that there is a far larger and more infinitely essential picture:  the vast unseen reality of God’s eternal plan!

Of course we DO have to be aware of what is going on around us; we DO need to be involved in every day activities and temporal matters.  We certainly need to be concerned about and involved with the people in our lives.  People are of infinite value in God’s eyes, so valued and loved that He took on human flesh (yet without sin), showed us how to live, and then suffered the most excruciating death to pay the enormous debt we owe God for our sin:  the sin of all mankind.

We are so valuable and loved by our Triune God that He not only rose triumphant from His tomb, but our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven and then sent His Holy Spirit to indwell every person who trusts in His salvation, now and throughout our promised eternal life.

Meanwhile God tells us in Scriptures, illumined for us through His Holy Spirit, that there is a reality far above and beyond anything we can see with our eyes or hear with our ears—the reality of His perfect, unchanging plan.

” ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ”  Isaiah 55:8-9  NKJV

Contrary to however cataclysmic current events might seem, the world is NOT spinning out of control.  God is always, and forever will be, sovereign.  With meticulous perfection, He is fulfilling His plan from Eternity Past throughout Eternity Future!

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created for Him and by Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”  Colossians 1:16-17  NKJV

Despite the “same old/same old” major network news about threatening pandemics and vitriolic politics, here is some better news—and it’s TRUE!  The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again, to rule the world in perfect righteousness and peace!

“Thus says the LORD:  ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth.’ ”  Zechariah 8:3  NKJV

Every day I remind myself to cling to the eternal, unchanging perspective of our LORD!  Meanwhile, I pray that many lost people will come to the LORD and His precious Word during this challenging time in history!

Margaret L. Been — March 27th, 2020

I am not showing this picture to brag about how I was raised to wear a dress rather than a life-preserver in a boat.  (We learned to swim when very young, as any Wisconsin child HAS TO, and there were adults in the boat.  I wasn’t out cruising alone.)  The photo simply depicts a summer day in 1941, when I was eight years old.

Summers were pleasant during June and July.  But the atmosphere changed every year from August 1st through the first autumn frost when parents lived in the very palpable fear of an ominous dark presence which literally hovered over the land.  Forgive me for mixing metaphors, when in retrospect I compare that dark shadow to the I Peter 5:8 “. . . . roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

But this “lion” did not roar.  He came quietly, striking without warning, seeking to inflict horrific illness, to kill, or (in many cases) to disable victims with varying degrees of lifelong paralysis.  To have merely a mild attack from the lion, was to be blessed indeed.  And unlike our current worldwide pandemic, this illness did not typically strike the old folks with pre-existing co-morbidities.  The quintessential victims were often healthy and normally quite young—actually infants and children.  Thus one of the labels for poliomyelitis is “infantile paralysis”. *

This annual late-summer virus was rampant for decades prior to and during all of my childhood, right through the early years of Joe’s and my marriage—until the mid 1950s when we were starting our large family, and suddenly were able to rejoice in one of the greatest blessings known to parents:  the Salk Vaccine.  I shall never forget the tremendous relief and release that I experienced as a young mom, when the polio vaccine became available!

The first known epidemic of the disease in the USA occurred in Vermont in 1894 with 132 cases.  Over the following years the numbers increased.  In 1916 there were 27,000 cases and more than 6,000 deaths in our nation, with over 2,000 deaths in New York City alone.  Our worst polio epidemic struck in 1952 when there were 57,628 cases reported, 3,145 deaths, and 21,269 cases of paralysis in the wake of the disease.  Meanwhile, when I was in High School, three members of our football team contracted polio.  One died, one was left with a paralyzed arm, and one had a very slight case.

Thus, with all the understandable and perfectly valid bruhaha concerning Covid-19 I’ve wondered why doctors, media personnel, and government leaders have—for purposes of comparison and contrast—referred to yearly influenza, the Spanish flu, Sars, and Swine flu but never (as far as I know) to the deadliest, most insidious virus in our nation’s recent history—one that focused on robbing children and youth of their very lives or healthy mobility.

Perhaps most individuals in public communication today are too young to remember, or even know about, that annual “beast” who made late summer a time of dread and tragedy for thousands of Americans.  But I seriously doubt many individuals remain who recall the Spanish flu, either.  As for later epidemics, with the exception of yearly influenza, they have come once—not year after year after year after year.

Something to mull over, as we continue today’s practical and necessary preventative measures:  social distancing, avoiding crowds, and washing hands for twenty-two seconds (which hopefully we have been doing most of our lives).

Just a little perspective, please!

Margaret L. Been — March 17th, 2020

*One adult from my childhood era to reportedly have been stricken with polio was Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he was 39 years in 1921.  From his disease, FDR was paralyzed from the waist down.  However, in recent years medical researchers have questioned the polio diagnosis, believing the distinct features of Roosevelt’s paralysis coupled with the very clear onset of his illness more typically fit Guillian-Barre Syndrome.  

Regardless of the exact cause of FDR’s battle with pain and paralysis. it is well documented that these challenges helped him to become even more of a dedicated fighter, a quality which characterized his time as President—including The Great Depression years and most of World War II.