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Archive for February, 2021

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

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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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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