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Archive for the ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ Triumphs over ALL’ 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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“And that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that you may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that you may have lack of nothing.”  I Thessalonians 4:11-12

Truly we live in “perilous times”.  History affirms that perilous times have existed since Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden.  But never before have there been the communication options and incredible number of events impacting the entire world simultaneously.

We are not to name a date for the Lord’s return.  But according to Scriptures (Matthew 24 & 25, among many other passages) we are to be wise, live circumspectly, and observe any well-defined indications of the end of the Church Age.  We realize that life as we know it today may suddenly change—literally in “the twinkling of an eye”.

So, to quote the late and wonderful brother in Christ, Francis Schaeffer, “How do we then live?”  The Apostle Paul has comprehensively answered that question for us in his letters—including those to the Thessalonian Christians who were also living in perilous times.  While anticipating our Lord’s return, continuing in love for one another, and sharing the Gospel of salvation whenever possible, we are to “study* to be quiet and to work with our own hands”.  By so doing our physical needs may be adequately met, and we may be able to share material blessings with others who are less fortunate.

But a lot more beyond the obvious material considerations is implied in the 1st Thessalonians passage.  By studying to be quiet and doing our own business, we can witness to “them that are without” by displaying a lifestyle characterized by stability, serenity, creative living, and our blessed (rock-solid!) Hope—even in the most perilous of times. We never give up; we keep on working with our own hands.

Through our lifestyle, we Christians can reflect a tranquil “joie de vivre”—while countless others are experiencing panic, chaos, and the inevitable moral and spiritual unraveling which accompanies .a worldview minus any meaning beyond the tumultuous moment at hand.  We believers are to be radically different:  beacons of light and anchors of reliability, when masses of people around us are metaphorically lost at sea. 

Standing out in the above passage is the word, “own“. Each human on earth is unique. God has blessed us with individual personalities and gifts. He has given each of us an unique calling and potential for ministry. Therefore, any believer who meddles by pressuring others to major in his or her business and ministry is more likely studying to be noisy, rather than quiet. Lost to those sincerely dedicated but unfortunately misled individuals is the fact that when Christ is our life, then ALL OF LIFE IS “ACTIVE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY”!  

Margaret L. Been — February 4th, 2021 (Edited and reprinted from a former entry on my blog, GOD’S WORD IS TRUE)

*The word “study” implies that I am not alone in needing disciplined effort to keep my mouth shut, and live quietly. But as we age, it gets easier. Sometimes we lack the energy to be anything but quiet! 🙂

Beautiful New Teakettle

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

Here and Beyond

Have you ever witnessed a more potentially threatening time in our nation and world?  Has the world ever before seemed to be crowding in so quickly, closer and closer, as it is at this moment?

Have communications ever been more constant and all-encompassing—inescapable unless one stuffs his or her electronic devices in the back of a remote drawer and goes for a long, solitary walk?  Or even better—the very best of all—-unless one plunges head first into the depths of God’s ever-faithful, ever beneficial Word!

God’s Word is the only place to go for rest, for comprehension, perspective, and power.  God’s Word not only mined daily—but stored as priceless treasure for instant, ongoing accessibility and application.

While the clouds grow thicker so does our call as Christians, not only to share the Gospel of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—but to mirror His indwelling Life, so that the fruit of His Holy Spirit can be seen by all, everywhere we go!  We are called today just God’s people were instructed centuries ago:  to live the Christian life, as mandated in Galatians 5:22-23.

Not to rant and rave* over all the things that are amiss (although, when watching the news I sometimes forget!)  Not to tear our clothes, Old Testament style.  Not to scream at those who are “out of line”.  The fruit of the Spirit is the genuine outworking of Christ’s life in us.  Whatever we are doing and wherever we may be as God’s fruit is displayed, differs with each individual whom God calls. 

As we focus on our Lord, He directs our “whatever/wherever“.  Our “Full Time Christian Service” may be public (as in church work, missions, or workplace) or private (as in home and/or friendship circles).  Both are equally valid and vital.  But fruit there must be, if our witness is to be effective.

I have blogged near-volumes on this topic, and God-willing I may continue to write more.  The issue is ever-green because (probably like every other believer, and definitely as Paul recorded in his letter to the Romans) I struggle with reflecting God’s fruit—even given prayer and immersion in His Word.  Patience (longsuffering) is a challenge for me. However, we cannot select some fruit to model while discarding others.  We need to present the whole basketful, delicious and nourishing.

God knows His own.  If I bungle my witness, His own people will still be saved for Eternity; they haven’t lost a thing.  And when I refuse to relax and let Jesus display His fruit through me, I am nonetheless still saved for Eternity.  But I will have missed the eternal blessing that would have come, had I been in sync with our Lord in that instance.

As the clouds grow thicker, I don’t want to miss any opportunity to reflect the life of our Lord.

Margaret L. Been — February 2, 2021

*The most famous sermon in U.S. history is without a doubt, Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  God used this masterpiece (not only of Scripture truth but of literary construction) to pave the way for the movement of His Holy Spirit in an unprecedented revival on our continent. 

Did Jonathan Edwards shout and rave?  No way.  His delivery was unremarkable, and it has been recorded that he actually read his sermons. 

It was God’s truth in this sermon, not the human vehicle, which set the course of American Christianity from the 1700s on.  In fact, had Edwards ranted and raved, his words may never have taken such a profound course.  The man might have attracted more attention than the message.  God chose a quiet-mannered man for the most spectacular movement of the Holy Spirit in our nation.

Although “Sinners” is the most famous of Edwards’ individual messages, it has also been his sermons of joy-filled wonder at the magnificence and beauty of God that theologians, and everyday readers like me have cherished, found edifying, and re-read again and again for rich spiritual encouragement.

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NOTE: I first published this entry on my blog GOD’S WORD IS TRUE, several years ago. Then awhile back, realizing that I could not go on forever juggling several blogs, I re-directed GOD’S WORD IS TRUE readers to this blog. Meanwhile, years of Scriptural input remain on the “GOD’S WORD” site.

The truths therein are perennial. In the event that some NORTHERN REFLECTIONS readers are unaware of my former blogging, I will be reprinting selected entries on this site. MLB

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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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“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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