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Archive for the ‘God is Sovereign’ Category

So many have expressed the AMAZING GRACE better than I can! For example, my vintage hymnbook. There is a tender story that goes with my hymnbook, which was a “giveaway”, when a church we attended in Northern Wisconsin purchased new hymnals.

For years my husband, Joe, enjoyed listening when I played the old Gospel hymns on my piano. One day Joe said, “I wish I had a matching hymnbook so I could sing along!”

Well, I went immediately online to Amazon, and found the exact same hymnbook. As I recall, it was all of something like $3.84–and within a few days INSPIRING HYMNS, published by Singspiration, was in Joe’s hands.

Joe put markers on all of his favorites–and we always finished a song session with the classic AMAZING GRACE. Just the name of the hymn gives me goosebumps, and so does the account of its composer, John Newton.

John Newton, 1725-1807, was an Englishman raised by a devout, Bible-believing mother who died of tuberculosis when John was 7 years old. After many rebellious years and harsh circumstances at sea, Newton began a new life as a Christian believer. For a time, he served as a mate and then captain of a slave ship–hoping that as a Christian he could bring something positive to that egregious trade.

Finally John Newton fully realized the abject evil of the slave trade, quit that career, became an abolitionist—and finally an Anglican cleric. He will be remembered forever, as the composer of what is undoubtedly the most beloved Christian hymn of all time.

My husband always insisted on singing all 4 verses of AMAZING GRACE. He especially loved the 4th verse, and Joe was often disgruntled because it is seldom sung. Even in the second-to-none rendition performed by THE IRISH TENORS, whom we loved to stream through our speakers, verse number 4 is missing.

Now my husband Joe is almost 9 months into his 10,000 years—which is not even a dent in our endless ETERNITY with the Lord.

Although many of us do not have the dramatic history of a John Newton, It is absolutely true that “. . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Who knew no sin, God in the flesh, willingly gave up His life on a cruel Roman cross to completely absolve us from the sin-debt we could never ourselves pay–thus freeing us from the tyranny of sin and, as we trust and obey, restoring us to endless fellowship with our Holy God.

HE IS RISEN! HE IS ALIVE! HE IS COMING BACK TO REIGN AS KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!

Whomever looks to the Risen Messiah Jesus Christ, and trusts in Christ’s finished work at Calvary, is a beneficiary of that AMAZING GRACE. For 10,000 years and forever!

Margaret L. Been — April 3rd, 2021

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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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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!

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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

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We are fast approaching December 7th, and the 78th anniversary of what has been known as “The Day of Infamy.  Although I was only 8 years old on that historic Sunday, I recall it as if it happened recently.  Yes, the radio broadcast, and my Mother’s thoughtful explanation of a violent event to a clueless, sheltered kid.

That Sunday was not anything like most Sundays in our home.  No family games.  No losing myself in my favorite radio broadcast, highlighted each week by the spooky words:, “The Shadow Knows” . . . followed by an ominous cackle, courtesy of The Shadow (Lamont Cranston, who had the ability to make himself invisible due to a secret he’d learned “years ago in the Orient”).

Beyond the horrendous news and my wise Mother’s explanation, what is vividly ensconced in my mental hard drive is the night of Pearl Harbor Day.  My Dad was out of town on business, so Mom drove my 16 year old sister and me to a concert at Lawrence College (now Lawrence University) in Appleton, Wisconsin–about 27 miles from home.

In concert that evening was the beautiful Afro-American contralto, Marion Anderson (1897-1993).  If you are not familiar with Marion Anderson, you can GOOGLE her name, and see for yourself (as well as hear on a U-tube) what a privilege it was to attend her concert.  As if her rich contralto and winsome personality were not enough to snow an audience on December 7th, 1941, Marion ended her program with GOD BLESS AMERICA–so timely as to dissolve her listeners to tears.  For years following that concert, my Mother described it with the words:  “There was not a dry eye in the auditorium!”

On the drive home late that evening, I experienced what may have been angelic intervention–or at least a miracle!  A wet snow (Wisconsin style) had begun while we were attending the concert.  Roads were slick on a just-below-freezing night.  My Mother (very carefully, I’m sure) drove over a small bridge above a culvert, on a slight uphill stretch of the highway.  There were guardrails on each side of the road, and I recall our car spinning, hitting the guardrail on our side of the road, lurching forward past the guardrail, and falling off the road (car on its side) onto the ground beyond the culvert.

I do not recall getting out of the car; we obviously must have had help getting out and home.  But I clearly recall that the three of us were totally unharmed–no bruises, no bumps, no anything, except that my sister’s silk stockings were snagged and running.  Even more wonderful was the fact that my Mom had the presence of mind to turn off the ignition as we careened off the road–thus quite possibly preventing the implicit tragedy of a flaming vehicle containing 3 people.  Not only had Mom turned off the ignition, she had wrenched that key so hard that she broke it in 2 pieces: one piece was stuck in the ignition, and the other was found in our car.  (My Mother was a quiet woman–quiet and strong!)

Where in the world am I going with this?  Simply to emphasize that along with remembering our brave Americans who fought (and are fighting) for our nation (then as well as before and since), the concert and my mother’s fortitude are the main details I want to recall of December 7th, 1941.  I no longer want to look at pictures of our U.S. Navy bursting into flames, or post some of the photos on this blog (as I did a few years ago).  I no longer want to read about the action, blow by blow, as I have so often over the years in WW2 documentaries and fiction.

Every nation on earth is composed of fallen humans.  As in the case of us humans, there is no nation without sin–no not one.  My age propels me forward rather than back.  I may be closer in forward years to that joyous time of the peaceful 1000 year earthly reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, than I am in retro years, to “The Day of Infamy”.

“Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and pray before the LORD.  Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ‘ ” Zechariah 9:22-23*                 

Margaret L. Been — November 9, 2019

*Note that Scripture says nothing about the notion of “globalism”.  Global peace, global respect–one nation for another.   But not globalism as politically referenced today.

The earth will be ruled by the actual presence of our Lord Jesus in Jerusalem, but national entities will remain, along with all the beauty of specific ethnic cultures, life affirming customs and traditions.  The great difference will be an international (global if you will) seeking after Jehovah God–Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah who died for our sins, and rose to give us Eternal Life.

 

 

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“There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of Life has made me free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 8:1-2

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38

We who belong to the Lord Jesus, and love Him because He first loved us, choose to be immersed in Scriptures, letting God’s glorious truths continually renew our minds.  And yes, we pray/pray/pray!  We desire a life of GRACE, an abundant life brimming over with His FRUIT!

As California Pastor Phillip De Courcy has titled his amazingly wonderful and practical teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit, YOU HAVE THE ADVANTAGE.

Fruit!  Love, joy, peace, and all the rest in the GRACE package—a gift from God the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Fallen and sinful world notwithstanding, some of us still have an outwardly abundant and peaceful life—for which we are immeasurably grateful!  We experience joy, and one of our greatest delights is to share God’s joy—with family, friends, and even possibly in a public ministry.

Abundant Life!  Yet sometimes we wake up in the morning to find ourselves smack dab in the midst of II Corinthians 4: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” 

So long as we are here in this fallen, sinful world, we are surrounded by the universal human experience, and our physical frames may bear evidence to that experience.  As Christians, we are walking oxymorons.  God’s life, moving around in physical bodies, often imbued with physical signs of the fall.  Oxymorons, often weary, sometimes physically ill or burdened with physical pain, hard pressed and perplexed, yet beaming out God’s life within us—despite circumstances that would threaten to do us in!

Along with evidence of the fall, we Christians have an additional dimension of perplexity.  We are targets and refugees in history’s cosmic war.  We are embattled Pilgrims hounded and tormented by the enemy of all that is Good, Righteous, and Beautiful.

Our enemy’s days are numbered, but until our Lord returns Satan will continue to fling at God’s people everything possible from the arsenal of evil, in order to impede and discourage any and all of us who belong to our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whatever flack he may manage to muster up, our enemy cannot destroy those of us who belong to Jesus!

We may go along quite peacefully—enjoying every moment in touch with our Lord and thanking Him for His GRACE, when suddenly WHAMMO!  We are buffeted and broadsided.  How we need to be ever ready for that “roaring lion seeking whomever he may devour”.  I Peter 5:8

All of Scripture, rightly understood and applied, is God’s remedy against the wiles of the devil.  In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul summarizes our weaponry via the metaphor of battle garments we are to wear for our protection in the war.  As we make certain we are wearing the armor by staying in the Word and in prayer, here are just a few observations from decades of surprise “attacks”:

1)  Beware of mountain tops.  Now, some of my family members love to hike the famous Colorado 14-ers, and that is fine so long as their legs and lungs can handle the trip.  Here I am thinking of spiritual mountain tops—those “sheltered” high on life “experiences”, exhilarating and refreshing.  God may occasionally allow these for our encouragement, but mountain tops are not where we are to live 24/7.

God created us to let His light shine with our feet planted on the ground where the nitty gritty of life occurs, and where the lost world needs to hear the Gospel of Jesus’s death for our sins, His burial, and His RESURRECTION to bring us to ETERNAL LIFE.  Being human, we are apt to get lightheaded in the rarefied air on the mountain top—so wound up in “experience” that we forget where God intentionally planted our feet!

2)  Enjoy, and be grateful for, the everyday “simple gifts”:  family, friends, good food, the birds at the feeder, gardens, and other creative pastimes.

3)  Stay rested whenever possible:  not only “resting in the Lord” per Hebrews 4, but physically rested whenever possible.  When we are exhausted, we are especially vulnerable to enemy attacks.  Plus, a chronically worn out and complaining Christian worker is not normally the best witness for our Lord.

4)  Remember, any good that flows from our lives is His good:  His GRACE, His love, His creativity, His everything.  Apart from Him we can do nothing!

5)  Do not entertain self-pity, no matter what.  Our enemy wants us to focus on ourselves, but in God’s strength we will focus on Him.

6)  Do not indulge in unhealthy self-incrimination.  The evil one whispers insidious ideas, such as “Who are you to think you can serve Jesus?  Look what you did!  Remember what you said!  Remember what you once were like!  Shame/shame/shame!”  Satan gloats when we go around bathed in self focus—wallowing in our past guilt, or current lapses (which we are to confess and turn from, while moving on).

Through His Holy Spirit, the Lord will nudge us, and inform us when we wander.  God will even “take us to the woodshed” if we persist in disobedience.  God does not tolerate sin in our lives, and we will experience His discipline, because we are His beloved children.  And we are always His beloved.  He always seeks to reestablish us on His chosen path.  He never says “Shame/shame/shame” as a part of His necessary discipline!  The Lord Jesus says, “Look to me and LIVE!!!  

Buffeted, Broadsided, but always Beloved!  Praise Him!

Margaret L. Been — May 3rd, 2019

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“But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I am many decades years old, and yet I have never suffered.  There were times in my self-focused, fallen personhood that I thought I was suffering—from experiencing physical pain and illness, heartache over a loved one’s predicament, or the betrayal of a friend.  These things have happened to me because I am alive; I have experienced LIFE!  But in the entire scope of humanity, I have never suffered.

At an early age, I was made aware of the fact of true suffering.  When I was five years old, my mother (the wisest woman I have ever known) told me about the Christian martyrs in the Roman arena, and that they sang hymns of praise to God as they were being carted off by the lions.  I have often pondered that early exposure to the concept of martyrdom, and I believe my exposure was an act of deliberate training and tremendously astute mothering.

My mother was a quiet person.  She never “chattered”, or spoke carelessly.  She sometimes went for hours without even speaking, and I don’t recall any careless or thoughtless words coming out of her mouth!  Mother had an innate understanding of people—including the realization of what they were like, and what they needed most beyond the obvious.

With her reserve and never-flagging self control, my Mother was a deeply compassionate and intuitive God-fearing woman.  Telling a five year old kid about Christians and lions did not just fly out of her mouth.  Rather, she saw in her child a self-centeredness coupled with a flare for drama.  The lions were certainly dramatic.  Mother also knew that her daughter had a passion for animals—fueled by the faithful family dog and a preoccupation with stories about animals, plus a few stuffed critter toys who were loved to tatters.

The Roman arena sharing was well thought out.  Had I been told about beatings, starvation, or any other form of horrible abuse and suffering, I wouldn’t have identified and may well have soon forgotten.  But LIONS—huge, beautiful, hungry cats!  The mental picture of people in lions’ jaws terrified me, and will stay with me forever.  But over the decades, that visual imagery has morphed from focus on the beasts to an appreciation for the singing of hymns—as well as for the reason thereof.  At the age of five, without beginning to fathom what was happening, I was learning about actual suffering and the sufficiency of God.

It would be another thirty-two years before I was catapulted into God’s Kingdom, finally knowing that I was a hopeless sinner who could not save myself.  Understanding at age thirty-seven, that the Lord Jesus Christ—God in human flesh—died the cruelest of tortuous deaths even for me.  And that He rose, triumphant over sin and death, even for me!

I cannot begin to comprehend the weight, that ultimate weight, of all the sin—past, present, and future—of sinful mankind.  And I can only begin to understand the ultimate love that motivated our Lord’s carrying our sin to His Cross!  

The saddest words from the Cross are, “My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken me?”  In order to be a perfect sin offering—to completely take, for once and for all, the punishment we deserve—Jesus had to suffer the uttermost penalty for sin:  estrangement from God the Father.  Thus, we are saved!  Thus we can focus on Christ’s glorious Resurrection!

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10 

I cannot share the account of my personal salvation, without adding something that happened only a week after God drew me to Himself.  A Christian friend invited me to her home for morning coffee.  Along with the steaming cup which was placed before me, was my friend’s Bible—opened and highlighted to Revelation 19:11-16.  My friend actually commanded me to read the passage—a moment as real as if it happened yesterday rather than back in 1971!

Thus I read that powerful description of the God-Man, Who died for our sin and rose to give us His LIFE, returning to earth as “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Because, in His ultimate love, The Lord Jesus suffered the ultimate weight of the Cross, He has given to whomever will believe in Him, the ultimate freedom:  that of His eternal and abundant Resurrection LIFE!

Margaret L. Been — April 8th, 2019

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“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen. being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse . . . .” Romans 1:20

Every year in early March a wonderful transformation occurs in the living area of our home; the sunrise returns after rising to the southeast of our view for six months—around the corner of our building.  We do have winter sunshine in our south view bedroom and den windows, but it is the glorious sunrise that we miss from October to March.

When sunrise and morning light flood our living room, dining area, and kitchen, my heart overflows with praise.  Of course I praise Him year round, whether or not the sun is evident.  My heart affirms “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in that the seasonal changes go on—and on schedule—year after year!

But when sunrise invades our home, I am overwhelmed and I thank God for it constantly.  Please understand, I am not a sun worshipper—much as I love just lying in the sun all spring, summer, and autumn, absorbing as much color and vitamin D as possible.

I worship the Creator of all of nature, manifesting His power and glory in the things He has made—including that symbol of warmth, light, healing, and life:  His physical sun.

As the sunshine streams back into our living area after weeks of darkness, I anticipate over and over the return of His SON, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Margaret L. Been — March 21st, 2019

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