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Archive for the ‘God’s Word is literal’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come, Lord Jesus!

Margaret L. Been — December 19th, 2018 

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“My soul melts from heaviness. Strengthen me according to Your word.” Psalm 119:28 NKJV                                                                                                                                              

Characteristically, my blog essays deal with victory over trials—the victory of the indwelling Jesus Christ via His Holy Spirit.  At all times God’s spiritual attributes reside in my soul, as well in the souls of all who belong to Him.  When and if we focus on the Lord through His Word, His love, peace, and joy will flow from us.

Yet, in my zeal to reflect and express the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, it has occurred to me that I sometimes overlook or downplay the blatant fact of our universally shared humanity.

Yes, we have victory.  Yes, God is all powerful, and He provides all we need for wherever He has placed us to serve and honor Him.  But also, “yes” we are human—broken vessels, vulnerable to pain and sorrow, prone to seasons of weeping.

We are not unfeeling robots, mechanically spewing out truths through a plastic, pasted-on smile.  We are people.  Sometimes we CRY!  If we never cried, we would never be qualified to come alongside another grieving individual who needs a quiet, understanding friend.

Jesus wept for His beloved friend, Lazarus.  Jeremiah wept for his sinful, fallen nation.  And numerous Psalmists wept over their own pain and sorrow.  Sometimes WE weep, yes even for OURSELVES.

Recently I had a lapse of weeping for myself.  Right in the midst of a series of victory laps where God’s palpable presence and joy had prevailed, I succumbed to tears for my self—as currently I literally have only one leg to stand on.  As if my mini-infirmity matters at all in the vast scheme of things.

As I wept tears of frustration, knowing all the time that God is in control and He will never leave me comfortless, it dawned on me that I was weeping not just for my invalid self but also for the lost, pain ridden world.  In this sudden flood of tears, God reinforced the fact that I am not a robot, nor am I beyond or above the pathos of the human race!

Yes, we have victory in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Yes, He will never forsake us.  And yes, we are humans saved by Grace.  As sinners saved by Grace we are never to lose our capacity to love and come alongside the shared sorrow of humanity.  When we are broken, when our strength is revealed as utter and absolute weakness, God shines through in all His glory.

“For it is God Who commanded light to shine out of darkness, Who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of God and not of ourselves.  We are hard pressed on either side, yet 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 may be manifested in our body.  2 Corinthians 4:6-10 NKJV

Margaret L. Been —  December 2nd, 2018

(First published on November 19th in my blog:  GOD’S WORD IS TRUE)

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“For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’ “ Zechariah 2:8

The above words to Israel and God’s chosen people, the Jews, provide imminent warning.  Those of us who remember the 1930s and 40s are absolutely sickened by signs of the times, around the world—and now in the USA.  At least I hope we are sickened.

As if it were yesterday, I recall the 1945 LIFE MAGAZINE photos of what Allied troops found at Dachau and Auschwitz.  I pray my generation has not forgotten.  God has not forgotten.  Woe unto any nation who harms the “apple of God’s eye”.

Meanwhile, our LORD’S patience with our “one nation under God” defies comprehension.  For nearly 50 years, babies have “legally” been slaughtered in the womb—the most dangerous place on earth for American children.  Rank immorality prevails along with a mockery of God’s institution of marriage between one man and one woman.  In an ever-widening circle, gender confusion is not only tolerated but welcomed in areas where a child’s gender may be “changed”, regardless of the body parts which have differentiated boys and girls since the beginning of time.  Or, a newborn can be classified as an “it” until the day when “it” decides whether to be “he” or “she”.

We are way overdue for judgment—even obliteration.  Perhaps the countless number of God fearing, God loving individuals remaining in our country has kept us here, still in a relative degree of safety and comfort.  But ever mounting indications of trouble for God’s chosen race, the Jews, are poised to tip the balance AT ANY MOMENT!  Indeed there are areas where liberal, anti-God views flourish, and judgment may be in blatant process as I keyboard these very words.

Most of our Universities are no longer sites of higher learning, where opposing views are freely entertained and examined—especially in the studies of Humanities, Political Science, History, Psychology, Sociology, etc.  To disagree with the powers that be in these areas of matriculation is to court verbal abuse, alienation and ostracism, and even a deflated grade average.  Our once venerable institutions have been infiltrated, and students are getting their brains scoured and remade into GROUPTHINK.

In many instances, the GROUPTHINK extends to throw a blanket of condemnation over the Jewish race, the very people whom God chose to showcase His life and His values to the entire world.  The very people through whom our Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ came to save the world from condemnation.

I sense that some of you readers may be eye-rolling, those of you who have no interest in, or grasp of, even recent history,  Well it is happening.  It happened in Nazi Germany and it is happening here.  Beginning with universities, where minds are trained for leadership, and yes—running our government.

And we all know that throughout history the Satanic monster of anti-Semitism has weaseled its way into allegedly Christian Churches.  Anyone who knows and understands Scripture literally from Genesis to Revelation, understands that nearly 1/3rd of Scripture predicts Christ’s Kingdom on earth, where He will literally and bodily reign for 1000 years in Jerusalem in the midst of God’s nation of Israel—to be restored to its former glory.

A church where traditions and leaders speak louder than the pages of the Bible and literal prophecy is not a church to be trusted.  The horrible history of discrimination and persecution of Jews via “the Church” has not been perpetrated by the literal Biblical Church, but rather by institutions of religion where traditions and powerful “leaders” have trumped a literal Scripture.

Here is a contemporary case in point—a rerun of the travesty enacted some 12-14 years ago:  On June 27th, 2018, the U. S. Presbyterian Church voted unanimously to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction of Israel, until Israel ends its occupation of Palestine.

But there is still light in America.  An October 11, 2018 article in the Jerusalem Post states that the American Presbyterian Church is braced to lose some 400,000 members in the next 5 years—precisely over the policy of BDS. Praise God for that!

Light notwithstanding, America is on the edge.  Anti-Semitism was around in some areas in the past—i.e. the disgusting example of Henry Ford, and traitorous nuances of Charles Lindbergh.  But fresh concern arises when the ugly voice of prejudice is raised in the centers of our government, as is the case today.

Just GOOGLE documentation of anti-Semitic candidates who have won Congressional seats in recent elections.  GOOGLE Keith Ellison and Ilhan Omar.  GOOGLE Anti-Semitism, USA.

However one may feel about our current president, Donald Trump, with his name-calling and mouthy tweets, his championship of Israel is wonderful—an encouraging sign among the growing clouds of gloom.  But how long will his pro-Israel stance, indeed how long will he and his beautiful Jewish family members be significant in US policy?  Godlessness pervades our nation, and even some Jewish leaders have forsaken Israel.

Scripture remains unchanging, eternal, and literally true.  Therein lies our joy, our peace, and our future bright promise.  Meanwhile, LOOK OUT, AMERICA!

Margaret L. Been — November 17th, 2018

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“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . . I Peter 1:6-7

 

California is being literally tested to the max—by fire.  I cannot begin to fathom such terror, not primarily due to loss of possessions but because of the very real threat of tortuous death.  Yet around the world, there are trials far more severe and devastating.  At the present time, Planet Earth can be a very treacherous piece of real estate!

Realizing all of that, and given the words of the Apostle Peter, my little inconvenience of recovering from surgery and being physically unable to control the mounting chaos and confusion that once was our well-ordered home—these “trials” are not really trials at all.  Here I am, well fed and clothed, clean, loved, warm and dry.  The physical pain is being managed, and I am surrounded by people who care.  No, in view of California, I am not experiencing a trial.

Yet there is frustration, and sometimes the enemy of our soul tempts me to grouse about the mess at hand.  Then I metaphorically hurl myself on God’s Grace, feeling ashamed of having lapsed into moments of consternation!

Two words in the above passage of Scripture stand out to provide tremendous comfort and consolation:  “various” and “grieved”.  Peter’s exhortation spans the centuries—popping right off the pages of my Thompson Chain Reference NKJV, right into my head and heart.

There are VARIOUS TRIALS, no matter where and when one is on this earth.  Some issues are catastrophic, like the California fires or, much worse, the “fires” of tyranny and injustice around the world.  Other trials, like my physical limits, are lightweight to the point of being almost silly.

And Peter wrote to individuals who GRIEVED.  Like you and I, believers in the Apostle Peter’s day were real.  Vulnerable to temptation—yes, even to grouse.  Challenged by their emotions.

God’s Word never leaves us helpless or hopeless.  We are not victims of our trials, nor do we need to be dominated by our emotions—as valid and understandable as they may be. 

We are deliberately being tested, so that the genuineness of our faith may rise above the circumstances of the moment—to the eternal praise and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ who has allowed the trials—to conform us to His image that we may glorify Him.

Yes, knowing “WHY” makes all the difference!

Margaret L. Been — November 14th, 2018

 

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I have read more than once of how people in Europe, generally speaking, have a greater handle on relaxing and savoring the ambience of the moment compared to those of us in the USA.  The utter devastation of the big wars, something most Americans cannot even begin to comprehend, resulted in some cases in a determination to celebrate the moment whenever there was a moment of peace.

Most conservatives, of which I am one, decry the mentality that would sooner accept a government handout than look for a job.  But how often do we realize that there are also some Americans who drive themselves relentlessly, even ruthlessly, in a self-imposed and unnecessarily severe work ethic which precludes taking a time out for rest, relaxation, recreation, and soulful reflection.

It is one thing to struggle when necessary for SURVIVAL.  But quite another to drive and push in order to procure the myriads of material things that many of us have grown to believe we need and must have—items far beyond the basics of food, decent shelter, and adequate clothing.

To clarify, please understand that I really enjoy material things—and I have an abundance of them, although many are of the vintage shop variety purchased for a little more than a song:  things the trendy crowd would sneer at superciliously.  But I am not, and never have been, willing to sacrifice a lifestyle of savoring the moment in order to obtain myriads of “things”—and certainly not “high status”, flashy, grandiose things which mean absolutely nothing to me in contrast to a better way:  the timeworn, gracious, contemplative, and appreciative quality of life.

We Christians should understand and appreciate God’s mandate to “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Quite apparently, it runs against the grain of human nature to “be still”, and when it comes to noise I know I can contribute volumes.  But God calls us to a lifetime of poised stillness—an inner attitude of restful quiet while we work or socialize, and as we defend God’s truth in our words and actions.

Too frequently we leave the serenity factor to the New Agers.  They are great at focusing on tranquility and peace; but theirs is a false, demonic “peace”—a counterfeit of the true peace that only the One True God can give through His Infallible Word—and through quietly savoring each moment He gives us.

Our nation is in the midst of a vicious political/cultural season, with evils of immorality and the horrendous demon of anti-Semitism on the rise.  Frequently we must speak and act to project the truths on which we stand.  But to speak and act with an attitude of genuine inner serenity—that is the challenge, one of which I too often fall short.

There are times when we must (and will!) be visibly, viscerally angry.  For instance, I am livid over the Obama-via-Samantha Powers dissing of Israel at the UN on 12/23/16—a day of infamy—and I express this anger with every opportunity.  Yet I must cling to the understanding that God is in control; He must be the very center of my being as I speak, act, and even as I express my abject anger.

In view of national and global chaos, I pray I will never forget the better way—to be still and know that God is God.  For my husband and me, the “better way” translates to treasuring the simple joys:  time spent with family and friends, birds at the feeders, the drip-drip of melting snow from our rain gutters during a January thaw, these ever-stretching daylight minutes since the darkness of winter solstice, and ever-present scenes like the one above—a fantasia of ice and snow photographed from our patio.

Meanwhile, I’m wishing you a New Year blessed with tranquil islands of solitude and serenity, for savoring the better way.

Margaret L. Been, 1/22/17

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