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Archive for the ‘God’s Word is literal’ 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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“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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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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Where sheep may safely graze 2

(My stats page records which of my blog entries have been read on any given day.  This entry from 2012 recently received attention, so I decided to run it again.)

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“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.  He leadeth me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:1-2

During the 1950s and 1960s, my father had a cattle ranch in Nevada.  When ready to be sent to the fattening yards in Missouri and Iowa, the cattle were loaded into huge trailers.  With my penchant for Western movies, I pictured an old time cattle drive from Texas to St. Louis—or wherever—with a John Wayne type at the rear and cowboys riding alongside to prevent a stampede.

For eighteen years, I raised a small spinner’s flock of sheep.  When it was time for shearing the trick was to lure the critters into their enclosure, quickly shut the gate so they could not escape, and then pray they wouldn’t bust out of their shed before the shearer arrived.

Sheep are reputedly stupid.  Bah!  Or I should say, “Ba-a-a-a-a-a!”  Time and again they proved to be smarter than my husband and I were.  If the sheep got wind of the fact that we really wanted them in their shed, they would be impossible to catch.  There was no way we could chase them into their shed.  There was no way we could drive them, the way cattle are driven.  Although they may be herded by a smart border collie, sheep just don’t drive!

The only possible way we could incarcerate our sheep on their “beauty salon day” was to LEAD them—and then only with the best of grain, with plenty of molasses in it.  Only horse “sweet feed” would do, on shearing day.  Even then, the perceptive creatures seemed to have eyes in the back of their heads, and would nervously skitter back out to the pasture if they sensed that we planned to close a gate behind them.  Stupid?  I don’t think so.  Silly, yes, but very intuitive when intuition is needed.

When we belong to the Lord, we are His sheep.  Life may seem full, but He never drives us.  He makes us lie down in green pastures—and gives us rest.

Life may seem stressful, but He never drives us.  He leads us with the finest food—His Word, the Bread of Life.

Life may seem hectic, but He never drives us.  He leads us beside still waters—the Living Water.

Life may seem terrifying and threatening, but He never drives us.  He leads (and protects) us with His rod and His staff.

Life may seem confusing, but He never drives us.  He leads us home through the fog with goodness and mercy, and we will dwell in His house forever.

Cattle are driven; sheep are LED!

Margaret L. Been

Note: The above photo was taken by our grandson, Tyler Been, during his nine months attendance at Capernwray Bible School, New Zealand.

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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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up north 4

Since my last entry I had thought the next one would be more about the winter quiet.  But in recent days, something so beautiful has happened that I simply have to write about it.  A thirteen year old girl who had been missing from her home town in Northern Wisconsin for 88 days, has been found—and she is home.  A girl named Jayme.

Since Jayme’s disappearance, she has been the subject of an intense nation wide search.  All that time she was sixty miles north of her home town.  For my blog readers all over the globe, I will explain the tragic events which culminated in Jayme’s rescue.  In October, Jayme’s home was entered in the late evening.  Later, upon investigation, Jayme’s parents were found murdered and Jayme was gone.  Obviously every news item of a missing person, especially a young person, causes sorrow.  But I have felt exceptionally connected to Jayme’s case for several reasons:

1)  Joe and I have a beautiful great-granddaughter almost exactly Jayme’s age.  Our great granddaughter will turn fourteen in February, and she bears an amazing resemblance to photos I have seen of the missing Jayme.

2)  I am a Wisconsin small town “girl” at heart.  I grew up in a town of population 2,203 about 77 miles north of Milwaukee.  As newlyweds Joe and I lived in a larger small town, further north, with population of about 10,000.  And recently we lived for eight wonderful years near a town with a population of 1,500—way up north, 285 miles north of our present home.

3)  I am no stranger to the Wisconsin Northwoods.  Not only have I lived there full time in recent years, but I have vacationed there—either via tent camping or rented cabins—many times during my life.  The quiet, natural beauty of the North defies description.  Thousands of acres are preserved in state and federal forests.  The landscape is literally littered with lakes—both pristine water, sand bottom lakes or a myriad of river-flowage lakes—like the one where our home was situated.  The flowage lakes are muddy bottomed and weedy.  Unlike the sand bottom lakes, lakes such as ours are impossible for jet skiers and speed boat lovers to navigate—and suitable only for wildlife, of which there is a wealth in our Northwoods.  This is why we loved our place up north so much.  We had every imaginable year round and migratory kinds of birds in our woods and waterfowl in the swamp around our home, plus muskrats, beavers, and otters just up the river.  The Wisconsin Northwoods is home to more Virginia whitetail deer than humans.  And we have a plethora of bears, a good number of wolves, and yes—some cougars who have wandered in from “out west”.

There is a profound peace in the North, yet within that peace can reside evil as vile and treacherous as the potential evil in any city neighborhood, anywhere in the USA.  Such is the evil of the man that killed Jayme’s parents and kept her captive in a remote Northwoods area cabin for nearly three months.

Last week, Jayme bravely left the cabin while her captor was out, and she approached a woman who was walking her dog.  The woman immediately brought Jayme to a nearby home, and called 911—the nation wide emergency number.  Jayme was offered beverage and food, and a blanket, but Jayme accepted only the blanket.  She had been outdoors without a coat, and she was shivering cold.

Meanwhile, her kidnapper was found due to Jayme’s description of his vehicle, and he is in court with charges of two homicides and a kidnapping.  Jayme is back in her home town with a very devoted aunt, other relatives, and many friends who love her and are rejoicing over her return.  And she is back home with her dog.

Details of Jayme’s escape are delineated in a feature article in a recent (available online) edition of The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel.  If you can read this feature and finish with a dry eye, well . . . I just don’t “get it”!  As I read, I experienced a growing understanding that Jayme’s rescue is very clearly a “God” event—and here is why:

It did not “just happen” that we are having an unusually warm winter in Wisconsin.  The temperatures up north have ranged in the area of 20 degrees above zero, in an area where from 15 to 25 below zero is frequent.  Jayme would have been greatly endangered if there had there been a customary reading of below zero.

It did not just “just happen” that the woman who found Jayme does not live in that remote area full time.  She and her husband live many miles south of there and they were having a winter vacation at their northern cabin.

It didn’t “just happen” that the woman who found Jayme is a retired social worker specifically in child welfare.  And, to risk my sounding overly basic, it didn’t “just happen” that the woman’s dog needed to go poddy at the exact time when Jayme was wandering in the woods near the cabin.

Especially wonderful, is the fact that it didn’t “just happen” that the town of Barron WI (population 3,3018) was united in ongoing prayer—and that the prayer element was published again and again on cable news stations as well as in newspapers that carried the ongoing story of the search for Jayme.

A GOOGLE search reveals that there are nine churches in Barron.  Nine churches united in heartbreak and concern for a missing girl who was loved by many in the community.  Nine churches united in prayer—and now elated over God’s answer.

Prayer must continue, as this young person has been traumatized beyond imagining, by the violent death of her parents and 88 days of captivity with horrendous implications.  Jayme will need every possible prayer for her healing, and for her ongoing dealing with all that has happened—as well as for her future.

But Jayme has family and friends, and an entire town that loves her.  And God, with His matchless love, is watching over her.  Metaphorically speaking, God has delivered Jayme out of the pit of hell.

Margaret L. Been — January 14, 2019

Note:  As I muse over the event of Jayme’s rescue and the prayers which have brought her home, a thought has entered my mind.  There are countless thousands of “Barrons” across our nation—small communities where most every person is “known” or “known about”, towns where individuals unite in prayer when tragedy strikes people in their midst.  Even in America’s tragic moral and ethical decline, many in our nation still seek God’s face and continue in prayer.  We know that prayer is where it’s at!  Prayer/prayer/prayer!  Our Lord Who returned Jayme to her home town, can bring our nation back to faith and obedience to Him!

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  2nd Chronicles 7:14

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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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