Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Great Evil

In the introduction to Corrie Ten Boom's amazing book, "The Hiding Place" she writes a snippet about her brother, Willem. He was a seminary student in Germany. In the year 1927 he wrote his doctoral thesis. In it he said, "A terrible evil is taking root in the land....seeds are being planted of a contempt for human life such as the world had never seen.

The few who read his paper had laughed.....

Few people could foresee the rise of Adolf Hitler and The Third Reich...and the systematic genocide of 6 million European Jews. It was unthinkable.

Several years later Corrie Ten Boom, her father and her sister were rounded-up, placed in railroad cattle-cars and shipped off to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, where Corrie watched thousands die of malnutrition, the firing squad, or placed in ovens. She witnessed her sister die of malnutrition. She only learned of her father's death after she was released, years later.

Corrie Ten Boom and the Ten Boom family weren't Jewish. They were Dutch. They watched helplessly as Nazi troops stormed into their quaint village in Holland in 1938. They had many friends, neighbors and business acquaintances who were Jews. One of their Jewish neighbors was, like the Ten Booms, a clock-maker. One day he didn't open his business. They thought he was ill. The next day he didn't open his business,... or the next. He simply "disappeared"....

They started noticing people on the street wearing yellow stars stitched to their clothing. It was the Star of David, with the word, "Juden" (the German word for "Jew") splashed across it. If you were Jewish you were required to wear it. If you didn't, then you were executed on the spot.

The Ten Booms lived in a large house that was actually two houses connected to each other. A house with a lot of strange twists and turns and mis-shapen rooms... an architectural nightmare. They were approached by a Jewish friend. Would they be willing to hide Jews? There were several who knew they were next to be rounded-up by the S.S. Would they be willing? There were risks.

They didn't hesitate. They said, "yes", of course, these are God's People. We'll do whatever we can.

Shortly they were visited by a nice older gentleman who went through their house and picked out a special "hiding place",... a small, narrow space behind Corrie's bedroom wall. It was perfect. He spent the next few days "remodeling" Corrie's room and turning it into a safe place to hide the Jews. Several came. There was room for approximately ten, if they didn't mind being stuffed like sardines while the Nazi soldiers tried their best to ferret them out.

The never could find....The Hiding Place.

But Corrie and her family members were identified as being those who were sympathetic to Jewish people. The Germans "knew" she and her family were hiding Jews,...whether they could be found or not.

So.... that's how Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, and their elderly father found themselves arrested and imprisoned. They were physically beaten...but they never gave up their friends, the Jews. They were well aware of the evil that had overtaken their nation...the evil, as Willem had said years earlier,....which was a contempt for human life unlike the world had ever seen.

It's called "Antisemitism". It's defined as a hatred towards a particular people group based on nationality or religion.

You may be asking yourself..... "Why is Bob writing about something like this?"....

I had just completed reading this book, "The Hiding Place". I read it probably 25 years ago and it had made a lasting impression on my mind. Twenty-five years ago.....

Then, I just happen to turn on the television and I saw this video that came out just a few days ago. It was a video from Germany. An Islamic cleric was giving a hate-filled speech and a rant against Israel and "The Jews".
The link to the video that was placed on Youtube is on my original email to you. A new Corrie Ten Boom perhaps? We should all ask ourselves.... "Could I do this?".... "Would I be brave enough to stand up to the hate and violence of evil?".... "Could I, at least, "try" to keep history from repeating itself?"

There's an old saying: "Those who won't learn from history are bound to repeat it".

That saying is so true,...and, I believe, especially relevant for the days in which we live.

"When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent: I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists, I remained silent: I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I was not a Jew.

When they came for me.... there was no one left to speak out."...... Martin Niemoller

Friday, April 22, 2011


Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No sky above us

Below us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today....

The stereo resounded with the latest album from ex-Beatle, John Lennon.

Smoke from marijuana and hashish filled the room. A young man sits quietly to one side of the room....thinking...contemplating.... his last day(s) on earth. Suicide is an awful thought,...but sometimes one feels painted into a corner where there is no escape...

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too...

How did he get to this place in life? ... and at such a young age. Everything seems against him. Life sucks. Friends?.... What friends?... Other people who like to drink, get stoned, listen to music? But what do they say behind his back?... loser....screw-up..... The kid who has no future, ... no hope....

In the corner a television is on. The volume is muted. It's Easter Weekend and on this Friday a Passion Play is being broadcast. A man carries his cross up a lonely hill. Bruised and battered and bloody, this unrecognizable figure of a man. Soldiers accompany him. They lay him down on this rough-cut timber. A hammer is lifted.....nails are driven....

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll come join us

And the world will live as one

The young man is transfixed.... watching....

The nails. They are driven mercilessly through the man's wrists and through his feet. Agonizing. Time seems to stop. The cross is lifted into the air where the man struggles with every breath.

Now, it's just the young man...and the scene before him. The cross,...the execution... the...dying...

The young man hears a still, small voice. It seems to come from within him, but he's not sure. The voice speaks: "I did this for you." I have come for YOU tonight!... Trust in Me and I will deliver you from death and give you life."

The young man looks around the room at his "friends". They're all stoned, having a grand time. The music plays loudly. But,.... what is real? Is this "real"?... Or,... is Jesus Christ "real"?.... What have I been missing all these years?...

Sure, he knows about Jesus. But,... he's never been broken before so he's never really found the need. What did he ever have to be saved from?...

But.... What if it is true?... What if Jesus Christ really did live and die... and rise from the dead?... For him?.... What if God really loves him that much?....

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world...

The young man breaks down into tears. Locks himself in the bathroom,...sobbing. His friends are knocking on the door? "What's wrong?"... "What are you doing in there"?...

Finally, the young man composes himself. Out of the bathroom,... out of the house,... across the yard, ...into his car... Starts it up.

Where is he going? He doesn't know.... just away from there.... hopefully, away from this whole world. But where is God? Where IS God? Where IS Jesus?.... "Lord, I need You".... answer me."

A familiar face peers at him through the driver's window. "Where are you going?" It's someone from the party.

The only answer?...." To find Jesus."

"Jesus!".... Are you crazy?".... There's no Jesus. I know. I've been there... done that. There's nothing there."....

"There's nothing there."

The young man stammers. "O.K... But, I have to find out for myself.... goodbye.".... He starts the car and drives away.... for the last time.

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one....

The search is on. The heart is stirred. A Greater Love is in pursuit... or, is it "being" pursued?.... Sometimes it's hard to tell who is doing the seeking.

The young man finds himself in a small bible study a few days later, invited by an old friend from his past. A "Jesus Freak"... who now, suddenly, doesn't seems so weird after all.

It's an interesting bible study...but, the young man is anxious. Do these people know Jesus? Do they know how to find Him? Do they have any idea how important it is that this young man find Him?.... His very life is at stake.

The study ends. The leader of the bible study has a question. "Is there anyone here who wants to know Jesus Christ?.... Who wants to follow Him?

The young man's hand shoots straight up into the air!

Is this guy for real?

What is he saying? Is Jesus in the back room somewhere?.... Confusion.

But, the young man is all in. Whatever it is that he has to do to find salvation, he's there. Say a prayer. Did a hole and jump in. Crawl through barbed-wire? Run through a fire?.... Whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes.....

It takes a prayer.

And a heart that is hungry and a soul that is broken and needy. The young man finds himself there again, the foot of the cross... looking up into the face of love.... and forgiveness.... and peace... and joy... and LIFE.

Easter, ... 1972. The Easter that changed my life...forever....

I pray that this Easter finds you at the foot of the cross. And I pray that your life is changed,... as mine was... all those years ago. Newness of life. I've never been the same since. My "old friends" can testify to that..... I never looked back.....

to that "old" life.

There's nothing there. ...

"He is risen"!

"He is risen...indeed...."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

P.T.S.D. Part two

Thanks to those who responded to my last posting about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Evidently it had meaning to a few of my readers... To elaborate on major symptoms mentioned in previous post. Intrusive thoughts and flashbacks... Flashbacks are the reliving of the traumatic experience, just as if you were back there again. This can be brought on (triggered by): certain sudden explosions, helicopters or motorized heavy equipment, the smell of human waste, decay or blood, diesel or jet fuel, dirty canvass, driving down a dusty or sandy road (especially if you've been in a war zone)...people screaming, crowds, hot, dry days...etc. Only you know what your trigger might be. Isolation and avoidance... You may subconsciously be trying to avoid activities, places or people...things which "might" be a trigger to arouse bad memories. The desire to become a hermit by leaving all behind only takes you further away from the objective to re-integrate into normal social situations. In this case it might be necessary to limit your exposure to people and events and try to use good judgment of when to avoid and when to engage those around you. Emotional numbing... Distancing oneself from a topic of conversation, a situation, person or potential trigger which reminds you of a traumatic event. The fear of losing control emotionally, which causes you to deal in negative, aggressive way. This is why war veterans (or the victims of any trauma) have a hard time talking about their experiences. It brings back too many bad memories, which they believe, should be avoided. Depression... Overwhelming sadness and fear that the feelings your experiencing will never get better. A depressed person can feel helpless, hopeless and unworthy of being loved. A big warning sign is sleeping to excess. This is a way of escape for a lot of people, unless sleeping brings with it nightmares, which is often the case. If that is the case, the person who is depressed often "self-medicates" by excessive drinking or drug use. Depression can be totally overwhelming and anyone experiencing symptoms of depression should be encourage to reach out and get help. Seek out help...find something, look forward to. Learn to practice self-care. Get a time-consuming hobby. Learn a new skill, spend time with an animal friend, get some good, old-fashioned exercise, find a trusted friend or family member you enjoy being with. Get yourself on a schedule, forcing you to get up, take a shower, get motivated, even if it's just a small thing...set some goals... Anger.... You are angry that you have had to experience what you have experienced. Anger reflects a variety of feelings such as betrayal, lack of trust, frustration, sadness and guilt. Anger is a way of "acting out" frustration, leaving you and those around you stunned and afraid. Often this anger is taken out on loved-ones and can end up in domestic violence. Realize that at the bottom of your anger and frustration is the fact that most of those around you don't understand the depth of the trauma and have no ideal, or reality, as to what you have experienced. Sometimes this anger is the reason for "road rage", a form of acting out your aggression. I talked a bit about this in my last blog. The soldier coming home from Iraq who is used to driving in a convoy that is always hyper vigilant when it comes to driving in traffic. Being cut-off, or rear-ended by another car can be an explosive trigger that can lead to an episode of road rage. Some suggestions that have worked for other veterans are: Physical exercise that is appropriate for your physical limitations Reduction of caffeine, alcohol or drug use Relaxation/study/meditation Well-balanced diet and getting appropriate amount of rest If these are things you can't do on your own or with the help of a close friend or relative, it is critical that you get professional help in this area. Contact the Veterans Administration and they can get you the right help to begin dealing with these issues. We will continue to look at more symptoms of P.T.S.D. next week. As I mentioned before, for war veterans, a great resource is the book, "Down Range...To Iraq and Back" by Bridget C. Cantrell and Chuck Dean. Even though the book deals with the Iraq War, it is relevant to the veterans of any war or military action. Also, a good resource is a video series called "The War Within", Day of Discovery, P.O. Box 2222, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2222 or on the web at: