I am switching input on this site to my Northern Reflections blog so that I can keep updating more frequently and have everything under one “roof”.

Just GOOGLE “Margaret L. Been Northern Reflections”.  Today’s entry features info concerning the film UNPLANNED.

Thank you!

Margaret L. Been

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet

“My soul melts for 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 over 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 lost self—as currently I literally have only one leg to stand on, and I am unable to maintain order in my environment.  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  —  November 19th, 2018


Look Out, America!

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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 1/3 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 vast size and 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 Christian 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 true.  Therein lies our joy, our peace, and our future bright promise.  Meanwhile, LOOK OUT, AMERICA!

Margaret L. Been — November 17th, 2018


My first hero was a bullfighter.  Given my passion for all creatures great and small, one would think my concerns would be for the bull.  But people do come first, and what bull could compete with the beautiful dark Irish looks and melting dark eyes of actor Tyrone Power in the role of a swashbuckling torero in BLOOD AND SAND?  I was only seven years old when I saw this movie (my first with the exception of SNOW WHITE) but I was not too young to be awed by a handsome gentleman.

On a serious note, I was raised with the concept of heroes.  History books were full of the heroes of our American Revolution.  Even the ruffians who pulled off the Boston Tea Party were heroes in the eyes of a patriotic kid.  After all, the only immediate casualty we’d heard of was the tea!

I may freak you readers out by adding that my four grandparents were all born during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln who, in my eyes, was the greatest of all our presidents.  My parents were born during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Growing up during World War II, and attending films preceded by news reels at least once a week, we had an ample supply of leaders who were heroes as they fought against tyranny in Europe and the Pacific, just as today’s military men and women are heroes and should be upheld as such.

But of statesmen and women, people of character who—like Abe Lincoln—will go down in history as making a difference, there has been one individual during my time on earth who stands out as an absolute giant:  Winston Churchill.

Churchill’s determination, his comprehension of the magnitude of the evil at hand and the necessity to overcome that evil, his “true grit”, prevail.  Winston Churchill’s unflinching resolve resonated across the Atlantic, inspiring Americans more than we can say.  We who are still on earth will never forget, and I pray that future history books will accurately record the valor of this man!

I constantly wonder, do we have such heroes today?  I follow the news assiduously and have a hard time finding a hero in the current political scene.  Yet there are some who have made a difference.  The late Senator John McCain was one.  And recent U. S, Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley is phenomenal.  Her blatant and fearless public defense of Israel lifts her to the highest level of heroism, in my estimation.

There is another in our current government—a quiet, behind the scenes man who, when he needs to address the public, choses his words thoughtfully and deliberately with an obvious dignity which is sadly lacking among too many prominent people today:  Vice President Mike Pence.  Our Vice President has a straight political and ethical head.  But there is more.  He is a Christian, a man of prayer.

How encouraging, to consider the fact that in a time of apparent chaos, there is salt and light in Washington D. C.  God does work in mysterious ways, and he uses whomever He chooses to facilitate His will.  I believe God is also using our President; a thorough study of the Old Testament reveals that a variety of unusual characters were used by God.

Meanwhile, knowing there is a solid man of prayer next to the highest level of our government gives me great encouragement.

As long as I am on earth, I will continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to whoosh through our nation, bringing a return to God’s Word in our churches, and a revival of passion for our Lord Jesus Christ.  A true revival, where hearts are warmed to the Truth of Scripture.  Where the Judeo-Christian Worldview is once more honored and upheld in our land.

There is one ultimate HERO in our universe.  He is not a torero, or a Hollywood star, or even a valiant public leader.  He is the Lord Jesus Christ Who is God Incarnate.  He is coming again, to reign on earth, perhaps a lot sooner than most of us think!

Meanwhile, going back over the decades of my lifetime, here are words of timeless value:  “Never, never, never give up,”  Winston Churchill

Margaret L. Been — November 12th, 2018

We shall reap!


“Do not weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Galatians 6:9 NKJV

Knowing that this verse applies to all believers, I am blown away when I consider how the words include those who, throughout history, have experienced the ultimate persecution, torture, and degradation in God’s service.

Awhile back I was deeply touched when the Iranian/American Christian pastor, who had been incarcerated in the allegedly worst Iranian prison for five years before being released by President Obama, appeared on Hannity’s Fox News broadcast.

Asked by Hannity if he had ever been tempted to recant his faith, the pastor smiled and answered, “In prison I had such beautiful times of fellowship with our Lord.”

This answer told me two things:  1) That the beleaguered pastor managed, in the worst possible environment, to keep his focus on things above, things that are unseen rather than those which are seen, and; 2)  that somehow there may be some kind of a supernatural “anesthetic” for those faithful souls who suffer pain and torture to the max.

A case in point:  the martyr Stephen, who “. . . being full of the Holy Spirit, saw the glory of God and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God, and said ‘Look!  I see the Heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! ”  Acts 7:55-56  The account continues to tell of Stephen’s peaceful, forgiving attitude in the process of death by stoning.

The contemporary Iranian/American pastor is one of countless inspirational Christian heroes since the account of Stephen.  Whether they died in the process, or lived to tell their stories, we are incredibly indebted to these people and their steadfast example!

A very favorite hero of mine is the German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who led the unified Protestant/Roman Catholic “Confession Movement”:  a group of clergy and parishioners who stood firmly against Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany.

Bonhoeffer* was first imprisoned for “sedition”; he had counselled young men in his theology classes to refuse serving in Hitler’s military regime, and to resist Nazism in all its ugly, Satanic forms.  Later, Bonhoeffer was moved to an even more cruel prison, because authorities had discovered that he’d had a connection to a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler.

We are edified by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s prison writings.  He wrote from His total optimistic trust in the Lord, and he died at the end of a rope on April 9, 1945— reportedly with an attitude of contentment and serenity.  Some reports have it that Bonhoeffer died within earshot of advancing Allied armies; it was just a month before Germany surrendered.

It’s highly likely that, as triumphantly faithful as these martyrs were, they had—like most of us—struggles with the powers of darkness, struggles which their God-focus overcame.

The beloved prophet, Jeremiah, testifies to times of discouragement in the midst of misery and loss.  These times inspire us all the more, as we realize the martyrs were people like us.  They suffered, they had dark moments, and they overcame.  So shall we as we look beyond our circumstances to our Lord who controls history.  In His grace, we shall reap–for all of eternity!.

Like Jeremiah, we can testify, “Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

Margaret L. Been — November 10th, 2018

*In 1939, when Hitler was proving to be an absolutely ruthless tyrant, and Germany had become an untenable place to live for anyone who disagreed with the Nazi government, Bonhoeffer came to New York with the idea of riding out the storm in America.  Almost immediately, he realized his mistake.  Germany was his country, and in no way could God use him if he sought refuge from his nation’s severest trial.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer returned to Nazi Germany, where he became an inspiration for the ages.


Faith and Works

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“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:8-10

When a seed has been planted in good soil, life will spring up and grow!  Thus it is with God’s life.  When we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and renewed by His resurrection, the seed of redemption/resurrection will burst forth in some way that is somehow discernible.

In the above passage, the Greek word for “workmanship” is “poiema“, meaning “a thing that is made”.  (Having written poems nearly all my life, since I could wield a pencil or pen, it touches me deeply to realize that our word “poem” comes from “poiema“—perhaps implying that we are God’s poems.)

Since the Ephesian passage (along with countless other Scriptures) categorically states that God made us, and He created us to do “works” which He designated specifically and personally for each of us–-ordained in Eternity Past—it metaphorically blows me away when I hear arguments about and confusion concerning the book of James, which stresses the fact that where there is genuine faith there will be works.

I have a good and very precious friend who loves to challenge me by claiming that the book of James states we are saved by works.  This friend is a new believer who has never sat under disciplined, exegetical teaching.  He plays Bible Leap Frog, jumping here and there without connecting the Scriptural dots, without putting individual verses into the Bible framework from Genesis to Revelation.  So I examine all of James, who has written in 1:17“Every good gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  I find it so obvious, that any good works we Christians may do are included in those “good gifts from above”.

That understanding fits perfectly into Ephesians 2:8-10.  All of my life has been known by God from Eternity Past.  He not only ordained my works, He ordained me to do these works.  When I fail, I very clearly have lost my focus on the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in His complete Word.

It cannot be stressed enough that when the Holy Spirit works in us, that Spirit will flow from us in a way that defies any human machination.  We love God “because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).  From that love, “works” will flow—as we keep Christ in the center of our lives, acknowledging that He is our Life!  In Colossians 1;10, Paul prays, “That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.

 Throughout the Bible, faith and works are inseparable partners.  When we walk by faith, His works will follow.  Works apart from faith and trust in God, His Sovereignty, and His Lordship of our lives are “wood, hay, and stubble”.  But works that flow from God’s life in us, from our focus on Him, are pre-ordained.

Very clearly, we cannot be saved by human works:  i.e. Isaiah 57:12, Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16 for starters,  And II Timothy 1:9 should clarify any confusion for all time:  “(God) has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began . . . .”

In the book of James, who was one of the “pillars” of the church in Jerusalem, the context of “works” specifically refers to James’s “brethren” (James 1:2).  James is exhorting fellow believers to pray in faith, for wisdom that reflects pure and undefiled religion before God (James 1:27) —from which His works will flow for the welfare and edification of others.  The works are the evidence, not the cause of salvation. 

Perhaps some confusion exists over what constitutes “works”.  Throughout the New Testament, the Greek word for our English word, “works” is “ergon”, meaning a deed, doing, toil, labor, etc.  Works may be obvious public service, but the attitude in which one serves is also part of the deed.  Works begin with a redeemed, renewed heart affecting the way we think, the way we speak, the way we work, the way we relate, and the way we live and breath each moment on earth.  Spirit filled “work” is a worship in myriad forms from building a shelter for the homeless to writing a poem which honors our Savior by affirming life.

Back in 1971, only one week after God had picked me up and plunked me into His Kingdom, my 13 year old daughter said to me:  “Mom, you are “different!”  In that short week, my duties and labors had not changed on the outside.  I was wife, mother of 5, keeper of the home, and tender of 2 dogs and numerous cats.  I baked, cleaned, packed school lunches, drove the van hither and thither, did the laundry for the 7 of us, shopped, nurtured whomever happened to be sick at the time, did the bookkeeping and other office jobs for our business, and produced good meals without fail—just as I had been doing all along.  But suddenly I was “different”, and an intuitive 13 year old noticed.  What had been my works had become God’s work—foreordained for me before the world was formed.

I thank God for drawing me into His Kingdom in 1971.  Every single day since then I have had a choice:  will I allow Him to work through me, or will I try to blunder and bluster along in my own fallen human effort?

There is joy when I rest in the Lord and say, “Thy will be done”.  Christ is the creator of my faith, and the originator of any and all work that honors Him!  Where the seed of redemption and resurrection have been planted in receptive soil, His life will spring forth and grow!

Margaret L. Been — March 19, 2018


Colors and Beyond

“For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:  all things were created by Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.”                     Colossians 1:16-17

For someone who doesn’t realize that God is working out His perfect plan, the above passage may be a bit of a shock—and perhaps a tough pill to swallow.  Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers?  Really?

Those of us who follow the world news every day on cable television are appalled at the horrific activities of certain “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers”.  Were I not saved by God’s grace and immersed in His Word, I would be clueless as to the promise of triumphant resolution assured by the fact that “He is before all things, and by Him all things consist”.

The sovereignty of our Lord Jesus Christ is further clarified in Colossians 1:18-19:  “And He is the head of the body, the church:  Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.  For it pleased the Father that in Him (Christ) should all fullness dwell.”

Preeminence in ALL THINGS!  Those wonderful, freeing words ring in my head whenever I hear someone talking about “putting Jesus first”.  I think I understand what is meant by “putting Jesus first”—at least I hope this means recognizing God’s sovereignty over every area of our lives.  But I would so much rather hear the Scriptural declaration, that He Who is the firstborn has preeminence over every detail of the body, the church—meaning all those of us who have followed Him in His death, burial, and resurrection, and are born again for eternity.

I have an issue with the term “putting Jesus first” because there cannot be a “first” unless it is followed by at least a second—and perhaps a third, fourth, etc.  It simply cannot be. You know that if you are making an outline, a number one tells us that there is going to be at least a number two.  Otherwise the number one is incorrect, misleading, and irrelevant.  Saying that Jesus is number one implies that there are other numbers, or areas of life where Jesus isn’t present.  How scary is that!

When critically thinking to its logical conclusion the “putting Jesus first” concept as opposed to His sovereignty in every detail of life, we run into the abject confusion of “Christian and non-Christian activities”.  The “Jesus is number one” individual may naively think that going to church, passing out Gospel tracts, or singing a hymn is “more spiritual” than weeding the garden or attempting to perfect a Chopin Nocturne on the piano—in the life of an individual who celebrates the preeminence of Christ.  What a potentially depressing concept.  How contradictory to the truth that our Lord is preeminent in all things!

There can be no numbers one, two, etc. in the obedient, abundantly-lived Christian life.  There can only be the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am in Christ when I am reading Scripture and when I am struggling through Chopin’s compositions.   I am in Christ when my body aches all over, and I am in Christ when I feel like the proverbial “million bucks”.

He is preeminent in all things.  I am reminded of that glorious truth every day as I celebrate His life in the works He has foreordained for me—the responsibilities and joys of loving my family and the development of my God-given gifts.  Although I am a sinner saved by Grace, and need the constant discipline of Scripture and prayer in order to focus on Him, Christ is to be Lord over every area of my life.  As one of my most beloved teachers* has famously stated in her Ladies Bible Study of nearly fifty years (I’m paraphrasing) “In Christ, scrubbing a toilet is spiritual”.

When we are focused on Christ we do not find routine labors to be offensive or boring.  These labors are a part of our mission field and they are valid, essential, and glorifying to God.  And the development of natural gifts—arts, crafts, and/or technical skills—is  also a response to Ephesians 2:10. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”, even when we pursue the development of a gift solely for the reason that God gave us the desire to mirror His creativity in the tiniest way simply for our own enjoyment—and hopefully for the enjoyment of others around us.

Just as God put incredibly beautiful flowers on remote mountains and colorful, exotic fish in the ocean depths—mainly to be viewed and appreciated only by Him—He has given the “flowers and fish” of human creativity to individuals who long to reflect a glimpse of His beauty, because they love their Lord.

Rather than being “number one” in my life, the Lord Jesus Christ is my life.  He is wonderful, magnificent, and eternally PREEMINENT IN ALL THINGS! 

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*The Bible teacher referenced here is Judy Dalton, of APPLES OF GOLD MINISTRIES.

Margaret L. Been — April 4th, 2016

Here and Beyond

“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

Have you ever witnessed a crazier pre-election circus?  Has the world ever before seemed to be crowding in so quickly, closer and closer?

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!  In simple terms, 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”.  And certainly not (even worse!) to scream at those who are in line.

The fruit of the Spirit is the genuine outworking of Christ’s life in us, the “hope” (sure-fire fact!) of glory.  Whatever we are doing as the fruit is displayed, and wherever we may be, will differ 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, 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 bit of a challenge for me; and as we all realize about the fruit of God’s Spirit—we cannot select.  We need to present the whole basket.

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 here-and-now blessing that would have come had I been in sync with our Lord in that instance.

Margaret L. Been — March 22, 2016

*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 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 food.  MLB

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“Finally, Brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Philippians 4:8

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time as the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16

One would have to be clueless, to doubt the fact that the days are evil.  The days have been evil ever since the game-changing fiasco in the garden.  But Eden did not have cell phones, a worldwide internet, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and billions of people—starving, warring, and suffering unspeakable horrors.  Eden’s evil was not so sophisticatedly organized, so widely and criminally justified by evil national majorities—so whitewashed to appear humanitarian, reasonable, rational, “kind to the planet” and altruistic, as the convoluted sin of these days.  It took thousands of years to get here.

Those of us who prefer keeping our heads in Scripture rather than sand believe we are nearing the book of Revelation, when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth to establish justice and reign in His Holy City, Jerusalem.  No we are not to name the day or the hour.  But YES, we are to watch for the signs prophesied by Old Testament Prophets, the Lord Jesus in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25), and New Testament letters culminating in Jude and Revelation. 

The days are evil, and we are nearing the end of the Church Age.  In the words of beloved Christian brother, Francis Schaeffer, “How do we then live?”  How am I to respond or react to evil times?  Am I to go high stress—slap-dashing about in a fervor of Chicken Little-ish behavior?  Wrong!  Am I to think about nothing else than the fact that the days are evil?  Wrong again!  Am I to eschew beauty and instead fashion a drab, lackluster world around me, an environment which says nothing about creative living?  How horrible is that!

So what is Right?  My quest for an answer always comes back to the above quotes from Philippians and Ephesians, and countless other passages having to do with gracious, Spirit-filled living.  Joyous living.  God is still in charge.  God has always been and will always be in charge.

Yes, we are to speak up and out whenever we can.  Yes we are to pray with compassion for those who suffer all over this crazy, convoluted earth.  Yet it is still God’s earth.  As well as being fully God, Jesus was fully human—modeling the perfect humanity intended for people on earth, until man and woman (not in that order) blew it in the beautiful garden which God had provided for them.

Our Lord Jesus Christ will return, to reign on earth for 1000 years.  Scripture predicts a New Heaven and New Earth.  Certainly we will not fathom details until they unfold, but nowhere in the Bible is “earth” left out of the equation.  God created earth, and He loves His creation.  In light of that truth I can only gather that we humans, the most valued of His creation, are to go on living and loving the life He has given us on earth.

That means gratitude rather than gloom.  That means serenity rather than stress.  That means pure, down-to-earth appreciation for and pleasure in His boundless gifts—people to love, gardens to plant, creative hobbies to pursue, art, music, poetry, sports, sunshine, fresh air, the list is endless.  Earth gifts!

There is a pathetic “hangover” from past Christian eras and persuasions which taught that physical and soul pleasures were intrinsically evil.  Hence: the monks who starved themselves or didn’t converse with each other, those Christians who wear drab clothing because anything eye-catching might lead to idolatry (or immorality), and believers who avoid the enjoyment of any pastime without blatantly “spiritual” overtones.

Asceticism is NOT BIBLICAL.  It NEVER WAS BIBLICAL.  Asceticism is a boring, yet potentially devastating ploy invented by the Evil One who—if he cannot get Christians to throw in the towel and quit, will instead lure them into nurturing a sense of pride in not doing this and not enjoying that.*

The paradox here is that within God’s creative, expansive and wholesome arena of “this or that”, we are to walk with joyous confidence; it is the pride inherent in asceticism which God hates, and holds us accountable for.  The person who lives by asceticism may be bowing before the idol of pride!

Life on earth is to be loved, savored, celebrated, and enjoyed to the max while never losing sight of our Creator, never forgetting that He is the Creator of all things—every breath we breathe, every flower we plant and gather.  With our heads full of God’s “whatsoever things”, our lives will shine out to the lost souls who desperately need to know about our Saviour.  As long as God’s people remain on earth (His earth!) and continue to redeem the time, there will be some light, and some good, although the days are evil.

Margaret L. Been — September 25, 2015

*THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, by C.S. Lewis provides a witty and wonderful treatise on the pitfall of asceticism.

Beautiful New Zealand (2)

OMessiah Has Come--4

” ‘On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My Name,’ says the Lord who does this thing.” Amos 9:12 NKJV

“I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God.”  Amos 9:15

Many years ago, as a new believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I personally challenged the Pre-Trib Rapture of the Church/Pre-Millennial Return of Christ to reign in Jerusalem/Dispensational view which was taught in the church I attended.

Over a summer through Scriptures and books, I researched the various views of millennium:  Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, and  A-Millennial.  If those terms are like the Greek or Russian languages to any of you readers, please GOOGLE the views while comparing and contrasting them with the Abrahamic Covenant as declared in Genesis, numerous Old Testament prophecies, and New Testament writings—especially Romans 9-11, I Corinthians 15:50-52, and I Thessalonians 4:13-18.

From that summer of prayerful digging into Scriptures, I emerged totally and irreversibly convinced of one inescapable truth:  the Pre-Trib Rapture of the Church/Pre-Millennial Return of Christ to reign in Jerusalem/Dispensational view exactly as it was taught in my church.

More clearly than ever before, I saw the distinction between the Church and Israel.  More clearly than ever before I realized that the Jews have been and always will be God’s chosen people.  Because of God’s mercy, we Gentiles and the Church have been grafted in to the Vine which is our Lord Jesus Christ.  Israel is the natural branch—to be restored to the Vine.  Meanwhile, the Church has been grafted in.

Since that summer of learning and growing, I have continued to read and absorb Old Testament prophecies in the light of the Gospels and New Testament letters.  My Bible time is mainly in the evenings, after I have snuggled into bed for the night.  My appetite for eschatology is voracious; I simply cannot get enough of the prophets!

Only a few nights ago I discovered Amos 9:12.  My excitement defies description.  In a proverbial nutshell, this prophetic verse literally resolves any muddy confusion spiritualizing the Church as a “New Israel”.

In Amos 9:12, the descendants of David (the Jews) and the Gentiles (the Christian Church) are categorically differentiated and named as joint occupiers of the millennial kingdom on earth where Christ will reign in Jerusalem.  It seems a person would have to be volitionally deceived and distracted, to miss the glaring truth of that verse—along with countless other Bible passages which dovetail to affirm the Pre-Millennial, Dispensational End Times view.

Recently a woman, who truly loves the Lord and lives for His Glory, stated that she never cared to consider anything to do with the End Times.  She believes Jesus will return sometime, somehow, and that’s enough for her.

This woman challenged me with. “How does studying all those things change your life?”  She questioned the practical value of digging into Scriptures beyond living one’s life at the moment.  I answered that learning about God’s plan for history is an immense comfort to me, a constant source of encouragement and motivation to keep on no matter what.

Now, as I continue to mull over that conversation I realize even more emphatically how seeking to understand the entire Bible increases my passion for the Lord and my desire to live for him.  There is an overriding continuity between Genesis and Revelation and all the pages that lie therein.  How could anyone doubt God’s Word?

Yet constantly God reminds me that any insights I may have, yes even my passion for the Lord and His Word, are the fruit of His Grace and Grace alone.  To God be the Glory!

Knowing God’s plan for “tomorrow” multiplies my joy beyond expression.  As I abide in Him and treasure every moment of “today”, I know beyond all doubt that God literally means what He says.  “I will plant them in their land . . . .”

Margaret L. Been, March 2015