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Archive for December, 2018

October Clouds 1

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Hebrews 13:2 KJV

Angels are prominent in the lives of Old and New Testament people, speaking God’s messages, shutting the mouths of lions, predicting the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist, joyously announcing our Messiah’s birth, ministering to our Lord after His trial in the wilderness, present at the empty tomb after the Resurrection of Jesus, attending His ascension into Heaven, springing Peter out of prison, and in countless other references where angels speak to or assist in God’s dealings with His people—plus the glorious accounts of angels accompanying our Lord at His return and singing praises around His throne throughout eternity.

Whether angels have appeared in Scriptures as men bearing God’s messages, or as Heavenly beings radiantly decked out as in the descriptions of angels at Jesus’s birth and His ascension into Heaven, they are very clearly sent from Heaven to carry a message or perform a task.

But equally exciting, is the Scriptural verification that angels are active in the daily lives of ordinary Church Age believers—not appearing in radiant white and shining glory, not speaking in overt messages from the Lord, but rather appearing as just plain people intervening in our lives in significant ways.

In such instances, it will seem that a human has intervened; yet in retrospect we have a growing sense that something supernatural occurred.  There are occasions in a believer’s life that defy human logic, when we have met an angel: “unwittingly as in the New King James Version; “without knowing it as in the New International Version; or, as in my very favorite traditional King James Version of Hebrews 13:2, “some have entertained angels unawares”.

Two such scenarios are outstanding in my past, and I recall them as if they happened last week.

Scenario #1—!990:  Our daughter, Martina, and I had flown to the outskirts of Washington D. C., rented a car, and headed out to New Market, Virginia, where we had a motel reservation.  I’d booked a weaving class out of New Market, at a farm on the Shenandoah River, and 14 year old Martina accompanied me just for the fun of a trip.

The weaving class ran from Monday through Friday, with the Wednesday off—giving Martina and me a chance to explore part of the George Washington National Forest into the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.  The owners of the farm where the class was held loaned me a road map of the territory.  I had a bit of panic when I first saw the map, the roads of which resembled a pile of cooked spaghetti.  Then I thought, never mind.  There will be signs.

But once we left the main highway and went up into the forest, there were no signs—at least I didn’t see any—until after a couple of hours of winding through gorgeous scenery on the spaghetti roads, when we saw a small, rugged wooden sign saying “Reddish Knob” and pointing somewhere down a road.  Several roads converged hither and thither, and I had no idea of how we had arrived at the spot where we were.  My spaghetti map was no help.  We were alone, lost in a wilderness, and I had no idea how to get us back to civilization.

So I pulled off the road, and Martina and I prayed.  Suddenly, across the road and up a few yards from us a sedan appeared—and out of the car stepped a man in a business suit and a hat. The man walked over to our car and, through my rolled down car window asked if he could help us.  Now I am normally a very cautious individual, but in this case I had no fear.  I showed the man the map and asked him if he could tell us how to get back down to the highway.  I don’t recall whether or not the man used a pen or pencil, but he very clearly explained the way back.  I thanked him and that was that.  The man drove off in his sedan, and Martina and I followed his directions back to familiar territory.

A kind person, suddenly appearing to meet our need.  But later I began musing about that gentleman, as I have ever since.  What in the world was he doing, dressed in a business suit in a place where there were no subdivisions of homes, no commercial malls or office parks?  We were on government land, so it was unlikely that he was there to buy a lot or oversee some business venture.  The man was dressed for a day’s office type work, in an area where one might expect to see back-packers dressed for wilderness hiking.  Even a casual sightseer would not normally be dressed in business attire.

An angel unawares, unknowing, unwittingly?  I absolutely believe he was an angel, as the man and his appearance defied any logical explanation.

Scenario #2—1993:  My husband, Joe, and I had just flown from Boston, USA to Glasgow, Scotland where we rented a car to embark on a 2200 mile excursion on back roads in rural Scotland, England, and Wales—staying at Bed and Breakfast Sheep Farms for most of the 17 nights.  As we left the airport, headed for the boonies of Argyll (home of my Campbell ancestors) with Joe driving on the “wrong” side of the road in a car with the steering wheel on the “wrong” side of the dashboard (and never mind our jet lag!), we were confronted with something we had not yet experienced in our slow moving part of Wisconsin:  a roundabout—buzzing with traffic going who knows where, seemingly in all directions of intersecting highways.

Again, we had a map—this time one I had ordered stateside from the British Travel Authority, complete with descriptions and photos of Sheep Farm B & Bs all over the United Kingdom.  As Joe was keeping us alive in traffic, I was trying to make sense of the map and our destination.  Just as frustration began to peak, we saw an old man walking by the side of the highway, with a cane and a large Shepherd/Labrador type dog.

Somehow Joe managed to pull off the highway, and I asked the man if he could tell us how to aim for the area in Argyll where we were headed.  “I’ll show you,” the man said.

He climbed into the backseat of our small car with his large, friendly dog, and off we went under the man’s direction.  After a few minutes, he pointed us on our way.  As the man and dog got out of the car, Joe and I were both concerned about him, and we said, “What about YOU To which the old man smiled and replied, “Oh, I’ll be all right.” 

Again, “Thank you”, and that was that.  We immediately realized that Scotland was (and indeed is!) a very friendly part of the world.  But again I have mulled over that incident for years.  What was an apparently frail old fellow doing, walking his dog along a busy highway system with no neighborhood in sight?  Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to walk his dog around the area where he lived?  And where did he live, amidst that maze of traffic?  How could he have been so casual about getting back to the place where we had found him?

Maybe the kind, elderly man was more physically fit than he seemed to be.  Maybe he simply loved to hike with his canine buddy for miles of highway, rather than along the picturesque lanes of rural Scotland.  Maybe, but I don’t think so.  I believe our roadside friend was an angel unawares.

This is not to say that any time we have roadside help, it is via an angel from Heaven.  There are plenty of kind and helpful humans, as our road trips have proved.  I know it was a real down-to-earth county sheriff who helped us change a tire on a Kansas highway, in a tremendous wind that reminded me of THE WIZARD OF OZ—also set in Kansas.

And I’m not foolish enough to believe that help will always be on hand whether on the road or anywhere else.  On our fallen planet, we may experience troubles beyond our wildest imagination!

But I do understand that our days and lives have been known by God from eternity past.  He enables His people to cope with whatever circumstances prevail, as we focus on Him, always through His infinite grace and occasionally through the ministry of Heaven’s Angels—who may appear to be helpful humans, but actually are angels unawares,.

Margaret L. Been — December 28th, 2918

Note:  I have just added Ghana, Turkey, Russia, and Switzerland to the international list of readers on my 12/22/18 blog entry.  Welcome friends!!!

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Here's what it's all about sans GB

This precious photo takes me back to 1962, when our daughters, Laura and Debbie, plus our son, Eric, reenacted an historical event which needs no explanation—as a part of our Christmas Eve celebration at home.

We had another daughter, Judy, somewhere around—and a real live baby, Karl, who for some reason was not available at the moment, so a doll took the place of Baby Jesus.  Obviously we overlooked the fact that we had no boy doll to fill in the gap. 🙂

I think some of our children understood the Christmas message better than I did in 1962.  Children can be so receptive to the simplicity of it all!

I was reminded of this last evening, at our church’s annual special Christmas worship:  Scripture readings from the Genesis 3:15 first mention of our Messiah, prophecies concerning the Lord Jesus from Micah and Isaiah, the beautiful account of Jesus’s birth in the Gospel of Luke, and the joyous climax in the book of Revelation when God’s glorified people will be worshipping the Lamb Who was slain—KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  All of the readings were interspersed with the singing of beloved Christmas Carols.  As a finale, we lit our individual candles and sang “Silent Night”.

It brought tears to my eyes, to think that people all over the world would be replicating this service of worship and adoration:  people of countless denominations, in many languages and in every possible setting—be it a cathedral, church, public venue, or at home either in safety and comfort or at risk of arrest, incarceration, and/or torture and possibly death.  Scriptures, carols, and candlelight.

When singing the carols, I thought of all of you who may be reading this blog—brothers and sisters in Christ in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal. Australia, New Zealand, India, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Gabon, South Africa, Afghanistan, and other places around the world.  All lighting candles and singing praises to the Lord Jesus Who is the Light of the World!

Today we are united in love, through His Holy Spirit.  Someday we will be united in person, praising our LORD OF LORDS, KING OF KINGS—thanks to His message of Salvation, Redemption, and Eternal Life:  a message so beautifully simple that even a receptive child can understand and believe it.

To all of you readers, wherever you are, I pray you will have a blessed Christmas!

Margaret L. Been — December 22, 2018  

Note:  I am adding Ghana, Russia, Turkey, and Switzerland to the above international list.  Welcome friends!!! 

 

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“Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, Who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”  Colossians 3:1-4  NIV

Even as we deliberately choose to set our minds on things above—and perhaps because we have chosen a Christ focused mindset—-we are apt to be needled and poked by petty annoyances in our circumstances:  not only the big dilemmas, but those rinky-dinky irritations too silly to mention.  These are the fiery darts of our enemy, and I am wondering if any Christian is immune to experiencing them!  Dear reader, if you have never been needled and poked, please share. 

This morning, some silly technical frustration “stuck in my craw”, and rather than ignoring, or at least responding with serenity and grace, I reacted in anger.  This after a wonderful start to the day, with prayer and communion with our Lord.

In the midst of my reaction, I said, “Oh, Lord, I am so sorry!”  Immediately, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind my very favorite Psalm and the particular passage I especially love:  Psalm 139:9-10–-“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”  NKJV

Being reminded of this passage in the circumstance of my reaction and remorse was an epiphany for me.  For decades I have claimed the promise of Psalms 139:9-10 for two occasions:  1) flights (as in planes); and surgeries requiring general anesthetic—perhaps because in both of those scenarios I have no control whatsoever.  I simply have to trust God to work through the humans involved in flying the plane or “fixing” my body.  (As if I really ever DO “have control”. )

Obviously, I know that God is with us and active in all of our issues, great and small—a fact He has revealed to me again and again over the years.  But today God showed me in a more visceral way that He is ever present, to nudge me out of temptations and sinful reactions—by applying a beloved Scripture, to the “uttermost parts of the sea” implied in my anger.  Even there God’s hands are holding me and leading me out of the morass of fallen self, back into His light. 

I cannot trust myself to respond correctly, even in the rinky-dinky issues of life.  I can only trust the Lord Jesus Christ, Who not only will someday make all things new, but at this very moment is lifting me to Himself in praise and gratitude.  The Lord Jesus is all sufficient and all powerful for today—for the huge calamities we may encounter, and also for those silly needling and poking scenarios.  He is Lord over all the fiery darts. 

Meanwhile, we are in the midst of beautiful family and friend celebrations of our Lord’s first appearance on earth—to show us how to live and then to die for our sins, and rise to give Eternal Life to all who believe in Him.  Our Lord’s first coming anticipates the wonder and joy of His second coming.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’  He Who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’  Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ ”  Revelation 21:3-5  NKJV

Come, Lord Jesus!

Margaret L. Been — December 19th, 2018 

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The Music of Christmas


It was early evening, just before Christmas.  My Mom was shopping; Dad and I were parked, waiting for her.  I was four years old, and I was sitting on the backseat floor of our family car. 

No seat belts in cars, or special seats for children in 1937.  We were free to bounce around as much as we liked.  I enjoyed the floor after dark when there wasn’t a lot to see from the windows.  The floor was my private hiding place.

Meanwhile the car radio played Christmas music.  So vividly, I remember hearing “It came upon a midnight clear . . . .” and wondering, what is a “midnight clear?”  

That is my earliest clear memory, and it is as vivid as if it happened yesterday.  All of my growing-up Christmas recollections have to do with music.  Although we did not attend a “live” Bible Church, some traditions such as a children’s Christmas program were a part of my youth.  I loved the drama of the manger scene, the singing of carols, and the small brown paper bag of hard candy given to each child after the performance.

Over the years, between violin and voice, music participation was a huge part of Christmas for me, and we had musical children who continued the joyful times.  Now that my once-competent contralto/second soprano voice has morphed into the croaking of a frog, I am still besotted with music year around, and Christmas music big time.

What a time to be alive, when one can stream all the great music of the Western World, via Amazon or other hosts!  Here are some of the selections which go from my I-phone or I-pad, into our speakers:

John Michael Talbot’s “The Birth of Jesus”.  John Michael Talbot, a monk/troubadour, has several albums and I think I have loaded them all into “My Music”.  His renderings are simply beautiful, and Scriptural—ranging from soothing vocal and guitar meditations to rousing celebrations of praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, accompanied by an orchestra and choir;

A Christmas album by The Three Tenors (Italian tenors.  There is nothing on earth like “Cantique de Noel” sung by Luciano Pavarotti!);

Several Christmas albums by The Irish Tenors (also a trio);

The complete Handel’s Messiah performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir.  This is the pinnacle, in my estimation.  I think of the many times I sang the beloved “Hallelujah Chorus”, all Scripture, before I actually knew what I was singing about.  Many recordings of Messiah only include the choruses.  I love this album because it is the entire work, with the beautiful solos.  One that I love is “I know that my Redeemer Liveth”—the hope-filled words of Job, during his extreme suffering;

An especially touching and heart-rending Christmas song is available on U-tube.  If you GOOGLE “Mary Did You Know?”, performed by The Pentatonix, you will glad that you did.  The Pentatonix is an a cappella group, actually a modern madrigal chorus of musical excellence. 

“Mary Did You Know?” is sung in a cave with remarkable acoustics.  You can search out the lyrics, if you are not familiar with the song.  Lines like “The Child that you delivered will soon deliver you” and “When you kiss your little Baby, you kiss the face of God” melt me to a jelly.  But the climax is the last line—“The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great I AM!

Obviously, Mary did know a lot that the angel had disclosed, as affirmed in her song in Luke 1:46-55.  We read that Mary knew her baby would be great and He would be “the Son of the Most High”.  Mary knew about the long-awaited Messiah, and she knew that she was favored by God. 

Yet the details of Jesus’s life reflected in the above-mentioned song were things she may not have known.  Especially poignant in the New International Version Bible is Luke 2:19, where after Jesus birth and the excitement of angels and shepherds, “. . . Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

This song touches me profoundly because it is a clear picture of humanity and deity:  Mary, a chaste young Jewish woman, totally human and clearly from Scripture not deity and not to be worshipped, and Jesus, God appearing in flesh as a tiny baby who would grow into the perfect man/perfect God who would suffer on a cruel Cross to bear the punishment we humans deserve, and then rise victoriously from His grave to give Eternal Life to all who believe in Him. 

Music that glorifies God, lifts our hearts to Him—regardless of the language in which it is sung or the instruments on which the music is played.  The praise music we love is an earthly glimpse of the endless and incredibly exalting music which is to come, in praise of our Lord when He makes all things new.  

“However, as it is written, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him . . . .’ ”  I Corinthians 2:9

Christmas music foretelling the birth life, death, resurrection, and LIFE with our Lord forever!  An eternity of music.

Margaret L. Been — December 17th, 2018


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“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”  Revelation 21:7  NKJV

One more promise, among many, for God’s people concerning our future glory—an eternity with Him, for all sons and daughters who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.  Had this been the first Bible verse I’d ever read or heard, I might have thought the promise inferred that I was going to be doing a lot of work in the process of “overcoming”.

Fortunately, just the opposite is true.  Our “overcoming” is accomplished by our Lord, as we look to him in faith and obedience.  Indeed, God is the author of our faith; He enables and empowers our obedience through His indwelling Holy Spirit. as we admit that we are powerless and needy.  

I cannot begin to count the times God has proven this principle in my life.   He is all sufficient.  When I am weak, He is strong.  Whatever He has planned and willed for me to do, He will do through my life, so long as I realize that I simply cannot do it in and of myself.  So long as I rest in Him, knowing that the Indwelling Lord Jesus Christ alone is able!

Of course, I do not always acknowledge my inadequacy and weakness.  I am capable of bumbling along, thinking I am strong.  How faithfully, our Indwelling Lord leads us back to realizing that every breath we inhale and every step we take depend on His grace!  

“For whoever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith.  Who is he that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  I John 5:4-5

Nearly 50 years ago, the Lord picked me up and placed me into His Kingdom.  That very night, I opened the Bible which had been given to me as a child.  I had only read the 23rd Psalm in my Bible, and that had been a long time ago.  But on the night of my salvation birthday, God in His grace led me to John 15:5:  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

And how beautifully these truths are embodied and realized in the Ultimate Birthday we celebrate this month, and every day of the year:  “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given . . . .”  Isaiah 9:6a

The Lord Jesus Christ is our Overcomer.  He is our LIFE!

Margaret L. Been — December 16. 2018

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It’s All about Hope!

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“. . . even we  ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body, for we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”  Romans 8:23b-25 NKJV

Obviously, if we have something in our hands, our “hope” has materialized, and rather than hope we have moved on to experiencing the object of our hope.

But our eternal future is yet to be realized.  Meanwhile we have the blessed hope of the redemption of our bodies—for that time when, according to God’s promise, He will make all things new, all of God’s creation including you and me!  No more tears, no more arthritis, and hopefully no more trips to the dentist!

To review the meaning of the New Testament word, “hope”, the Greek word—from which our Bible is translated—is “elpis”—meaning “anticipation and a confident expectation”.

So when Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans, he was not using the word “hope” as we would use it.  Examples:  I “hope” that I will spend time with all of the grandchildren at Christmas;  You “hope” that you can go to (wherever) for your vacation next year.

Rather, Paul was assuring the Romans that the “hope”—our promised future glory—was something definite to persevere with eager anticipation.

I have been mulling over this hope, thinking of how—yes—I eagerly anticipate the future glory.  But in the meantime, life here in Wisconsin is so good—at least for my family and everyone whom we know.

I anticipate Christmas with our family, adequate medical care in the next year, and plenty of pleasant times ahead:  spring mornings when we can take our great-grandchildren to the park which is just over the berm from our front door; frequent enchiladas and flans at Senor Tomas Restaurant, six minutes away; summer evenings on our patio—watching the fireflies and enjoying the colors of glowing solar lights in our gardens while sipping my solar-brewed ice tea.

These hopes are so lovely, it is easy to focus on them and keep the future hope on the back burner!  But what of the martyrs, past and present, around the world—people imprisoned and tortured for their faith?

Their “present” resembles a living Hell.  Nothing around them is gracious, beautiful, or kind.  They suffer from illness and pain for which there is no medical treatment.  They are starved and tortured.  They exist in filthy and often solitary cells, with no sanitation.

For the Christian martyrs, there is only one “hope”, and they cling to it because they believe the promises of God; they have no outings at a park, good meals at a Mexican restaurant, or evenings of ice tea and fireflies on a patio to distract them from the ONE HOPE which is a certainty, a future of glory forever!*

Meditating on the above passage in Romans has moved me to tears as I think of those around the world who have only the hope (certainty) of the God’s promise to occupy their minds.  I am praying for these people, whomever and wherever they are!

How those who are suffering due to their faith must cherish God’s proclamation in Revelation 21:6!  “It is done.  I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.”  NKJV

Margaret L Been — December 14th, 2018

*Having been greatly moved by the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written while he was incarcerated in a Nazi prison—and reading of how he was hung (near the time of Germany’s surrender and allegedly within hearing distance of advancing Allied troops) with total calm, dignity, and a gracious demeanor—I truly believe in an extra blessing of supernatural GRACE for those faithful martyrs for Jesus Christ, to enable them to lift their hearts and minds in praise for the BLESSED HOPE!

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“All Things New”

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“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him Who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”  Romans 8:19-22 NKJV

Frequently when I watch the news or hear of a tragedy, I experience mental and emotional pain and I pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!  Please come soon!”  Perhaps my plea is—in a way—similar to the “groaning” of creation when flood waters rise out of control, or when drought prevails in a region and fires destroy thousands of acres of timber.

My passion for nature and all living creatures was a large factor used by our Lord in drawing me to Himself.  I tried very hard to be a secular humanist, but as I grew older I began to question all my programmed suppositions, one of them being evolution—which I first learned from my high school ancient history text.

When I was in my thirties I began to ask questions big time—concluding that nature couldn’t have “just happened”:  the intricacy of a snowflake, or the human body, or any body; the power in thunder and the beauty of a sunset; the majesty of the mountains in my beloved state of Colorado.

( I tried to be a nature worshipper but God, who knew me from Eternity Past, steered me away from that temptation*, as He was calling me to Himself—long before I had any knowledge of Him, in fact all of my life!)

Shortly after I became a Christian, I sat under excellent, thorough teaching of the book of Romans.  Here I learned that pagan peoples may be drawn to faith through the witness of creation, as well as via the God-given conscience.  I learned that along with the fall of man, nature had fallen as well.  Many of my questions were answered:  the death of a neighborhood child to leukemia, my dog’s epilepsy, and the blight on my tomatoes.

In sequel to the above passage in Romans, God speaks emphatically in Revelation 21:5:  “. . . Behold, I make all things new . . . .”  No more leukemia.  No more epilepsy.  No more blight.

How this newness will work in terms of wiping out disease was something I could begin to imagine.  After all, that once-terrifying annual threat of polio which I’d experienced as a child had been eradicated, in time for my children to be immune.  Thanks to God’s revelation in science, polio was one concern I had put to rest.

But how could God’s making all things new affect those aspects of nature which, in my fallen human comprehension, were wondrous beyond words?  I thought a lot about this.  Is there anything more pristine than fresh snow on country fields and forests unviolated by the machinery of man?  Or yesterday’s snowfall on a sunny, 20 below zero morning?

We were privy to such beauty during eight years of living full time in the Wisconsin Northwoods, 285 miles from where we live today.  Winter mornings undisturbed except by the footprints of deer.  That one deep cold winter morning, when we thrilled to the sight of timber wolves on our frozen lake, their coats mellowed to peachy-rose by the low-in-the-horizon January sun.

And summer nights when we could hardly distinguish between sky and water for the millions of reflected stars—far from lights of communities and civilization.  What could be more “new”?  Could anything be “newer” than the Northern Lights, pouring a palette of blues and eerie greens, from Heaven to earth?  More new, more beautiful?

Yes, “all things new” will be infinitely more beautiful!  Our Lord tells us in His Word that He will make ALL THINGS NEW!  God’s Word is true, in every detail.  It follows that He will make our vision new, along with all of our senses so that we can fathom and experience the new creation.  What a truth to anticipate until the time when we believers are a part of God’s ALL THINGS NEW!

Come, Lord Jesus!

Margaret L. Been — December 13th, 2018

*See Deuteronomy 4:19

 

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But what about tomorrow?

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“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18 NKJV

God has shown me this verse and affirmed the practical truth of it time and again.  Scriptures abound in testimony to the glory which is to come.  To focus on God’s glory and that joyous moment when we shall see Him face to face, is to put the trials of daily life in proper perspective.  My “troubles” shrink in comparison.

Yet as I read this passage, I am arrested by the phrase “this present time“.  And a purely fallen human thought clouds my mind:  “But what about tomorrow?”

All of my past and current “sorrows of present times” have been so bathed in grace. so undergirded by the comforting presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, that I realize any question concerning tomorrow is remiss.  Yet none of my sorrows have been catastrophic.  I have never really suffered—never been mistreated, hungry, cold, or homeless.  I have never been unloved!

With all of life’s bumps and grinds, I have never suffered what I consider unthinkable:  the loss of a close family member—husband, child, grandchild, great grandchild.  Will tomorrow’s unchartered territory include sorrow of that magnitude?

How frail and finite, the meanderings of the human soul!  Sorrow yes and possibly pain which at this point I cannot even begin to comprehend.  But will not God still be God?  Has He not lovingly navigated countless millions and billions of His own through sufferings my head cannot imagine, simply because they have not happened to me?

“This present time” will not always be “today”.  Tomorrow will someday be “this present time”.  Times change, and circumstances change,  but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8 NKJV

Scripture is Scripture, eternal and unchanging.  In Matthew 6:34, Our Lord specifically instructs us not to worry about tomorrow, as there is enough going on today.  Tomorrow will bring its own issues and challenges.

And throughout Scripture, we are continually exhorted to look ahead, beyond the things we see to the unseen but ever-so-real future glory—for each and every individual who has trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal salvation!

Margaret L. Been  —  December 11th, 2018

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In the midst of an inspiring and motivating series of exegetical teaching and preaching through the book of Revelation, our pastor has given us a fourteen day challenge to read and meditate on Revelation 21:1-8 and Romans 8:18-25.

This assignment resonates with me, especially for two reasons:  1) Meditating has been a huge part of my life ever since I can recall.  As a kid, I sought out places where I could be alone so that I could daydream, sulk, or process the people and events in my life—whether on the back staircase of our rambling Victorian home or in the branches of an aged chestnut tree where I thought no one could see me; and 2) ever since The Lord Jesus Christ catapulted me into His Kingdom nearly fifty years ago, I have sought to process events and circumstances through the truths of Scripture.  Whenever I have failed to keep a Scriptural focus, God has either gently or firmly riveted my mind back where it belongs:  on Him!*

God has programmed my DNA, genes, or whatever, to absolutely need periods of solitude—thinking time in which to meditate, process, and grow;  it boggles my mind that anyone, particularly a Christian, would not want to implement periods of meditative solitude into his or her life.

Many women of my generation (Great Depression and World War II kids) have been free to center on that precious vocation which Titus 2:5 refers to as “keepers at home”.   Long before I became a Christian, I knew that being at home was the most wonderful privilege imaginable, and I was thankful.

While raising six children, I was free to manage and appropriate time for reading, thinking, and growing.  Our first five were born in a span of eight years, and they understood that I had a “quiet time” most every day, normally at my typewriter where I solidified my meditations into poems and essays on paper.

Throughout the years I have found home keeping, with its myriad of hands-on chores, to be a perfect environment for meditating.  There is something valuable in doing the routine household tasks:  ironing, scrubbing a floor, dusting furniture, polishing the silver, or sparkling up the glassware and china.  The rewards therein are obvious:  satisfaction from a job well done and the visual pleasure of seeing the results, along with the profitable thinking time involved.

Adding to necessary chores, I have enjoyed other hands-on tasks such as making music on my piano (such as it is), soap making, gardening, canning, spinning fleece into yarn, for many years weaving the yarn into cloth, weaving baskets, kneading bread (something I no longer do in light of limited food requirements at this stage of life), painting with a plethora of media, nurturing houseplants, and my ubiquitous knitting.

The above activities provide a perfect atmosphere for meditation.  I believe it is tragic that so many younger women today are no longer based at home where they are free to work with their hands, and process their lives through times of quiet meditation.

Also sad, is the fact that some Christians have a skewed idea of the word “meditation”.  Too often they consider only the “New Age** implications, such as yoga and the emptying of the mind.  I cannot comprehend “meditating” without something of significance on which to focus.  Even when sleeping, our minds are doing something—at least I hope so.

And for the Christian, quietness and the implications of meditation are Scripturally mandated—as seen in the following examples:

“. . . meditate within your heart upon your bed, and be still . . . .”  Psalm 4:4 NKJV

“Be still and know that I am God . . . .”   Psalm 46:10 NKJV

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.”  Psalm 143;5 NKJV

(Regarding the study of doctrine and obedient living) “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.”  I Timothy 4:15 NKJV

Thus in upcoming entries, I hope to share some of the insights and areas of application which the Holy Spirit has placed upon my heart and mind through the fourteen day challenge of meditating on the above assigned Scripture passages.  Please pray that I will be diligent!

Margaret L Been — December 10th, 2018

*Ever since my salvation, although certainly not always obedient, I have never doubted God’s sovereignty in my life.  He has not allowed me to doubt Him.  Clearly, He has known me and my every thought and deed from Eternity Past to Infinity and He has constantly made this evident in my life.

I could bring nothing to the table of salvation: the Lord did all of that.  It was GRACE plus nothing.  He holds me, ever dealing with my wayward whims, disobedient actions, and unloving mental attitudes.  Indeed, God’s GRACE is irresistible and ever present!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV

**New Age” ideas and practices are really “Old Age”, derived from ancient and current Eastern mystical religions and teachings.

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I am encouraged to read the condolences and amazing memories concerning our 41st President, the late H. W. Bush.  This man was respected around the world.  Even Vladimir Putin contributed.  Both Presidents Bush have been special to me.

On the news broadcasts, I hear public figures who knew President H. W. recount their big memories.  Well I never personally knew the man, but I have a personal-type little memory of him—one which totally endears him to my heart.

Reportedly when in office President H. W. Bush was served broccoli, and said:  “I am the President of the United States and I should not have to eat broccoli.”

The courage to speak out is all too rare!  How wonderful to have a President touch a long time raw nerve in my life and inspire me to speak out against the groundswell of trendy (to me kind of STUPID) clap trap about hyper-nutrition.  Are veggies necessary?  Guess so, anyway that is why I have succumbed to the green things for all these decades, although it is often more fun to swallow my vitamin pill!

Enjoyable?  Well when someone raves on and on about the wonder of vegetables, I (while realizing I am not supposed to judge) am very tempted to doubt the veracity of the raver.

There are 2 vegies that I do like, no—LOVE!  Corn and sweet potatoes.  You can quickly spot the common denominator here:  SUGAR.  Sugar not only makes the medicine go down, it transforms my world.  My brilliant mother soon discovered that, back in the 1930s.  In the era of Pop-Eye, all mothers agreed that their kids needed SPINACH!  Always clued into the best for her children, Mom tried to get the cooked green gooey, yucky mess down my throat, to no avail.  I gagged.  I barfed.  I probably yelled!

But Mom had a trick up her sleeve:  bananas.  She mashed ripe bananas into the goo, and voilã, I ate it all—even though maple syrup or fudge sauce would have been even more welcome.

To this day, I love to shock the “trendy” people out there, by divulging that I tolerate most vegetables, merely tolerate, while sweet potatoes floating in maple syrup are high on my list of yums.  Actually, I do not mind RAW spinach—a very thin layer topped with mounds of meat (any kind but white chicken;  what is all this white chicken stuff about?), fattening Wisconsin cheeses and crumbled Feta, loads of sugared raspberries, cherry tomatoes (yikes, a veggie—but also a fruit), sugared or honeyed pecans, and Western Dressing® (the sweetest of the French).

It freaks me out to hear anyone (often youngish types) pontificate about nutrition as if they were the first to ever hear about it.  Anyone over 60 knows that we were raised with nutrition—a given, with food group charts in most every woman’s magazine, doctor’s office, and school.

We had our protein (meat was rationed during WW2—but Moms were creative with casseroles), dairy, fruit, whole grains, and yes veggies (green ones!) daily, plus SUGAR.  Homemade yeasty caramel rolls, fresh from the oven after school, and enjoyed before we went out to build snow forts until dinner time.  A sugary bedtime snack—cookies, or if we were really hungry, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the jelly running down our arms.

All summer long, we drank real COCA COLA®—the sticky sweet kind that was also used to clean greasy engines.  We loved it, had no idea that there was anything wrong with it—and maybe it helped to clean out our insides!  All summer long we consumed ice cream bars, hot fudge sundaes, or root beer floats between those perfect, nutrition-chart meals.  And we were blessed with healthy bodies.  No McDonald’s, no eternal bags of potato chips, but lots of SUGAR!*

Thank you for reading!  And thanks for President H. W. Bush for protesting broccoli!  I am guessing he may have grown up with some wonderful desserts, and real COCA COLA®, as well.

Meanwhile, good people are still recognized—for big and little things.

Margaret L. Been  —  December 3rd, 2018

*Note:  The trendy nutrition crowd is also death on fake sugar, the alternative to the “much-maligned” real sugar.  In other words, some would eschew anything sweet altogether!  Yikes!  Mary Poppins would have taken issue with that, and so do I.

My father used fake sugar in his coffee for the rest of his life, once the stuff was available.  At the same time, he continued with the real thing— never passing up a dessert* (sometimes 2 helpings!) and scarfing down a frequent supply of pure maple sugar leaf candy.  (My passion, as well.) 

I remember Dad as being a happy, healthy man!  But what do I know?  Dad only lived to be 102.  MLB

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