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Archive for the ‘The Cross will prevail!’ 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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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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“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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Many of us immediately think of one person when we hear the poignant question, “What is truth?”: Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea who “washed his hands” of the MAN, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom Pilate had declared as innocent. Politics!

In recent months I did a self-study of immersion into the Roman Empire from before Julius Caesar through the Emperor Constantine who changed the political environment of Rome regarding Christianity. In all of my reading, one thought kept surfacing in my mind: technology changes over the centuries but—apart the transformation which accompanies faith in Jesus Christ—human nature does not!

Politics are politics, whether the setting is Ancient Rome or 21st Century U.S.A. A Roman Emperor requested the assassination of individuals who threatened him or his agenda; our newly-elected President, Joe Biden, simply sits in the Oval Office—signing orders with a pen.

Obviously, at this point our government is not so brutal as the Roman Empire was—although outright persecution may come. From my reading I surmised that literal “heads” were significant in the Roman Empire. An Emperor would order an assassination somewhere in the realm, and whomever carried out the dastardly deed would return to Rome with the severed head of the victim: proof of mission accomplished.

Today the “assassinations” are carried out with words by news media which do not deserved the title of JOURNALISM—egregiously biased publications such as THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST, and TV News Networks such as CNN. These news sources only report what the FAR LEFT EMPERORS and their minions decree.

So, WHAT IS TRUTH? God’s WORD, the Bible is TRUTH! The Lord Jesus Christ, God Incarnate is TRUTH. The Holy Trinity, God in Three Persons, is TRUTH.

Without going into the details of all the various policies which our new president is signing into law, two issues of supreme importance cannot be ignored. Joe Biden IS NOT PRO-LIFE. He is authorizing policies which promote abortions here and elsewhere around the world.*

The agenda of Joe Biden IS NOT MORAL. He is authorizing deleterious policies which promote legality, tolerance, and acceptance of immoral sexual and gender issues.

God’s Word irrevocably proclaims the sanctity of human life. Killing unborn children is MURDER. PERIOD! Marriage is a sanctified union between ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN. God created man and woman. He did NOT give permission, or ever intend, for a person to change his or her gender.

In no uncertain terms, I denounce what happened in D.C. on January 6th. President Trump should never have held a rally in Washington on that day. Indeed January 6th, 2021 was a “day of infamy”. Meanwhile, I truly believe that President Trump did not intend for those events to occur; and those events do not in any way obscure the good he did for our nation. Trump is PR0-LIFE, and his policies protected our freedom to worship and obey our Lord—the Author of our Bible.

I have been horrified by what I have read of Qanon’s disgusting conspiracy theories and their projected “military coup”. And I have been especially horrified over the lootings, murders, and massive destruction of property by Antifa and Black Lives Matter in some of our nation’s cities for months—while grossly ignored by THE NEW YORK TIMES and other media of their ilk.

As an Evangelical Protestant Christian Believer, I have been blown away with admiration for the American Roman Catholic Bishops who have spoken out boldly against the policies of President Joe Biden. Without mincing words, these clerics have warned America that our new leaders do not regard the sanctity of the unborn babies’ lives—and our new leaders will promote (already are promoting) immorality and sins against Almighty God!

WHAT IS TRUTH? Those of us in the USA and around the world who know the answer to that question—the TRUTH of Holy Scripture—MUST speak out at every possible opportunity. And those of us with any possible avenue of peaceful public action MUST act! If our present national scene continues unchecked, the day may come when severed heads will replace biased and agenda-driven words! The Ancient Roman Empire revisited.

And above all, PRAY! Only God can heal our nation and set us back on a righteous path. Only God can heal our land through a return to His Word—preached, believed, and applied with our hearts, minds, and deeds. God is TRUTH!

Margaret L. Been — January 30th, 2021 — updated 2/1/21

NOTE: *Abortion IS NOT Health Care!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret L. Been — November 9, 2019

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buffeted, Broadsided, but always Beloved!  Praise Him!

Margaret L. Been — May 3rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret L. Been — April 8th, 2019

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Winter Breakup

The tyranny of winter is about to break up, as the above watercolor rendering depicts.  Since my last entry with reference to a merciful winter, we have had a good amount of snow, accompanied by below zero temperature readings plus way below zero wind chills.  Then a sudden and violent thaw along with bone-biting days of sleety rain and icy windshields on cars—and potentially treacherous roads rendered slick with icy rainfall.

But by mid February, a difference—for which we are watching and waiting.  Not a difference in difficult temperatures or driving conditions (which can last into April in Wisconsin) but the radical rebellion of Spring overcoming the darkness of Winter.

The difference is visible in sun faithfully and predictably climbing back into the northern hemisphere.   In just three weeks, that sun will rise through our patio door and flood our living room, kitchen, and dining area—after being out of our living room view since October.  Always I think of a favorite hymn:

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, sun moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”  from the hymn GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS by T.O Chisolm and William M. Runyan

Bringing the excitement of watching and waiting right up to the area of contemporary music, that poet of the piano George Winston has an album titled WINTER INTO SPRING.  This music brings the drama of watching and waiting into the marrow of the listener’s soul.  As an impassioned music lover, I hear and sense the reality of Winston’s music in the core of my being.

Great is Thy faithfulness and Winter into Spring!  I’m reminded of a prophecy in Malachi, at the end of the Old Testament:  “But to you who fear My name THE SUN of RIGHTEOUSNESS shall arise with healing in His wings . . . .” Malachi 2:4a

This passage especially impacts me because The Lord Jesus, God’s Son, Who will literally return to reign in Jerusalem as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, is pictured as “The SUN”, thereby invoking the physical “sun” as a metaphor for our Lord Jesus Christ.

How beautiful, the poetry woven into the truths of Scripture.  We are watching and waiting for the sun to return to our hemisphere to banish the hardships of Winter.  And we watch and wait for the return of THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, to establish a promised government of peace and justice, overcoming the centuries-long “Winter” characterized by the sins of fallen man.

Watching and waiting, for Winter into Spring—-for Death into RESURRECTION.  Indeed, GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS!

Margaret L. Been — February 8, 2019

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Here's what it's all about sans GB

This precious photo takes me back to 1962, when our daughters, Laura and Debbie, plus our son, Eric, reenacted an historical event which needs no explanation—as a part of our Christmas Eve celebration at home.

We had another daughter, Judy, somewhere around—and a real live baby, Karl, who for some reason was not available at the moment, so a doll took the place of Baby Jesus.  Obviously we overlooked the fact that we had no boy doll to fill in the gap. 🙂

I think some of our children understood the Christmas message better than I did in 1962.  Children can be so receptive to the simplicity of it all!

I was reminded of this last evening, at our church’s annual special Christmas worship:  Scripture readings from the Genesis 3:15 first mention of our Messiah, prophecies concerning the Lord Jesus from Micah and Isaiah, the beautiful account of Jesus’s birth in the Gospel of Luke, and the joyous climax in the book of Revelation when God’s glorified people will be worshipping the Lamb Who was slain—KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  All of the readings were interspersed with the singing of beloved Christmas Carols.  As a finale, we lit our individual candles and sang “Silent Night”.

It brought tears to my eyes, to think that people all over the world would be replicating this service of worship and adoration:  people of countless denominations, in many languages and in every possible setting—be it a cathedral, church, public venue, or at home either in safety and comfort or at risk of arrest, incarceration, and/or torture and possibly death.  Scriptures, carols, and candlelight.

When singing the carols, I thought of all of you who may be reading this blog—brothers and sisters in Christ in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal. Australia, New Zealand, India, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Gabon, South Africa, Afghanistan, and other places around the world.  All lighting candles and singing praises to the Lord Jesus Who is the Light of the World!

Today we are united in love, through His Holy Spirit.  Someday we will be united in person, praising our LORD OF LORDS, KING OF KINGS—thanks to His message of Salvation, Redemption, and Eternal Life:  a message so beautifully simple that even a receptive child can understand and believe it.

To all of you readers, wherever you are, I pray you will have a blessed Christmas!

Margaret L. Been — December 22, 2018  

Note:  I am adding Ghana, Russia, Turkey, and Switzerland to the above international list.  Welcome friends!!! 

 

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It has been a long time since I shared my abundant life on this blog!  I dislike excuses, but sometimes we have reasons.  I guess my main one would be that, along with family and friends, I am besotted with hands-on pastimes many of which are pictured here.

I have loved making things for most of my life but making has become a passion.  I LOVE creating:  textured yarns on my spinning wheels, music on my piano, garments on knitting needles, amateur but infinitely satisfying water media art*, gardens indoors and out, soaps for face and body (we have not bought soap for our household since 1976!); and I may have omitted a passion (happy obsession?) or two—not to mention the ubiquitous books which line our shelves and floors.

However today I woke up inspired to share a personal story—actually the very reason I am enjoying an abundant life, so overflowing with excitement that I sometimes fight going to sleep at night and get up with anticipation most days because there is so much to make!  If you have read my story on this or one of my other blogs, I do hope you will read it again!

Back in 1971, I was a wife and mother of five children** ranging from ages 7 to 15.  Life was tremendously good in terms of family and circumstances—but not good inside my soul.  The world was spinning and changing too fast and some of my life props and idealisms had been pulled out from under me, like the magician’s trick of pulling a tablecloth off a table while the dishes remain intact.

Visibly, I was intact. The dishes were on the table.  But inwardly I was a mess!  For months I’d had a sense of aching emptiness, a void which all my daily joys could not fill.  The void consisted of a lack of meaning.  I desperately longed for inner peace.  What was wrong with me, that I had such desperation when my outward life seemed so good?

I’ve always looked for answers in books.  Our local library was within walking distance of home, and I walked there a lot—trying to make sense out of life and find peace for my hungry soul via the world’s philosophies and religions, especially the mystic Eastern religions which appeared to offer the thing I needed most:  peace.

And although I rarely let myself face reality, deep inside I knew I was desperately flawed inside my head and heart.  I was the problem.  I was the reason I lacked peace!

I avoided the old-fashioned word for my condition, but in rare moments of truth I acknowledged that word:  SIN.  I was a sinner.  After devouring many books I found the Eastern religions to be flimsy, lacking in a down-to-earth reality which could change me.

What was the answer?  Was there an answer?  On the third Saturday in January, 1971, I said to my husband, very emphatically, “Something is missing from my life!”  Once again, I trundled off to the library to look for answers.  Having exhausted many overly-wordy, allegedly “meaty” books in the spiritual and self-help sections of the library—I “just happened” to find a very slim little book, simply titled PEACE WITH GOD.

Maybe I thought, “Well why not?  I’ve read most everything else on these shelves.”  Or maybe I wasn’t even thinking.  But I checked out the tiny book, PEACE WITH GOD.  That evening, after the household had settled into a Saturday night routine, I read the book thoroughly, absorbing its contents.

In very simple, unpretentious language, and with Biblical references, PEACE WITH GOD presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  All of mankind is in bondage to sin.  God came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ, to die on a cross at Calvary—for our sins, for my sin.  Jesus paid the penalty, and rose to defeat the power of sin and death.  He lives.  He is Eternal God, an all loving, all just, all righteous, all merciful God.  When we believe in Jesus and His finished work on our behalf, He forgives our sin.  We are washed clean with His blood, and He gives us His life—with His victory over the powers of darkness, His peace regardless of circumstances as we look to Him and abide in Him, growing in Him through His Word, The Bible.

The book explained how we could do nothing, absolutely nothing.  Yet when we believe in Jesus, we have the free gift of Eternal Life with Christ Who is God—and we can have His spiritual victory over sin, His abundant LIFE on earth, His new life in exchange for our old sinful life which died with Jesus on that cross!  I distinctly recall a sense of peace from reading the book, but it was a kind of sad and wistful peace.  I recall saying to myself, “Oh, if only that were true!”

The next day, Sunday, I surprised myself by suddenly arranging to go to a Bible Church in the neighborhood  I called a friend who attended that church, and she and her husband agreed to pick me up.  We entered a bit late, and the congregation was singing a Gospel hymn; I had never in my life heard such singing.  I recall thinking, “It’s as of they believe what they’re singing about.”

During the sermon that morning, God very clearly and simply picked me up and lifted me into His Kingdom—the Kingdom of Forgiveness and Love.  In retrospect I see that God used that Sunday worship service as a catalyst for my salvation.  Suddenly I knew that Jesus was real, and I needed His forgiveness, His Life—and that understanding landed me into Christ.

But I was totally ready to be born into God’s Kingdom that Sunday morning.  I’d been prepared the night before, when I read a slim little book called PEACE WITH GOD, by Billy Graham.


As I left the church on that bitter cold January day in Wisconsin, the sun on the snowdrifts seemed nearly blinding.  At that point I knew nothing of Scripture, except that I was a new creation in Christ.  I was forgiven, and I was raised up with Him,  That night I picked up a childhood Bible which I had never read;  I’d tried a couple of times but it simply had not made sense to me.  But now I found myself in John 15, and it made all the good plain sense in the world.  “I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing.”  And “This is my commandment, That ye love one another as I have loved you.”  And “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you . . . .”

(As a lover of the Old Bard, William Shakespeare. the King James Bible replete with “eth” and “ye” seemed natural to me, and still does!)

Meanwhile, back in 1971 my peace and joy were palpable—and I was so excited that I could not keep my mouth shut.  As the days progressed I told nearly everyone I knew about the Savior—even our vet as he was negotiating with our sick pet, either a cat or a dog; we had many of both.

Now, with many years of Scripture in my soul, I can witness that God has never failed me in anyway, and although I have sometimes failed to pay attention, or to obey my Lord.  Jesus Christ sustains me.  New LIFE.  Abundant LIFE!  Articulately and succinctly explained to me long ago, in a tiny gem of a book, PEACE WITH GOD, by the late Billy Graham.bedroom gardenchair

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The Lord Jesus is the reason for my abundant, hands-on life.  And my blogging life, as well, when I blog. 🙂

*I have updated my art blog on occasion.  Just GOOGLE “Margaret Been’s MESSY PALETTE.”  Art is a language universal, and hits come from everywhere—including Afghanistan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia as well as all over Europe, Oriental countries, South America, and our neighbors to the North.

**We had one more child, in 1976—adding up to 4 girls and 2 boys.  They are Joe’s and my best friends.

Margaret L. Been — March 6th, 2018

 

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