Reflections on the life and times of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In February I read the book “Radical Integrity” the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, shortly after closing the book I wrote down some of the thoughts that were swirling in my head. I had forgotten I had written them down until I found them this week. I post them here as an introspective look. To remind me, to hold fast to what I know and believe to be right and good, in the face of adversity, knowing that He who is right and good will hold fast to me to the very end.

Thoughts: I just finished reading the book “Radical Integrity” The Life Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer- He was a man who grew in his understanding, his relationship and his dependency on God. The Almighty became for him a real and present help in time of need and in time of trouble. Especially in his confinement of imprisonment when he felt alone, he clung to the God of Hope- whom he sought diligently through the scriptures.

It seems his world became very small in the face of the war of Hitler’s regime. Dietrich had to shed every layer of ideology, pretense and national pride and myth. In order to find a place where he was loyal to the Lord in his heart, his words, and in his actions. Yet Bonhoeffer did not arrive instantaneously at the prescribed result- in fact the end, death (by hanging,) in his reality and own words marked the beginning of life.

It is difficult  for me to imagine what he must have endured and suffered,and yet he found solace and comfort in the scriptures and in the suffering of Christ. So much so, he felt he was a partaker in that suffering. This suffering saint wrote a poem titled “What Am I”? it details what others say about him, characteristics, he notes his own estimation based on his feelings, yet in the end  he declares  “Lord, you know my heart who I am? I am Thine”.

God knows the heart of every man, even when we are unable to live up to an expected expectation, God knows us in our weaknesses, and he is able to meet us there, so on lookers can see, and know  it is not I ,but Christ in me. I have no strength but Christ strengthens me. Christ is the well we must draw from for whatever we need. Strength for the day, for the moment. we must know Christ, not just know about Him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to know Him, not just in theory, but in the midst of all the chaos swirling about him. He narrowed in on the one source that sustained him. That gave validity and appreciation to every thing and everyone around him. Perhaps the circumstances leading up to his imprisonment had they not occurred would not have forced him to draw so near to Christ , and His Word. Perhaps he would have remained a speaker and theologian, a debater of theological ideas with the other great Christian minds of that day. But when all those people and opportunities were removed, and he was alone. The high and lofty notion of Christ, became a very real and very close personal God. No longer far away and reachable only by mental assent. The God incarnate super ceded all his ideas and debates and became his sustain-er, his bread and water ,his Lord and Savior his total dependence.

I think we as Christians today, know Christ in degrees at different times in our life, We know Him by what we hear preached to us about Him. We read about Him in the Word. We call upon Him in our hour of desperation.And when things are going well, we tend to relegate Him to the sidelines of our life.But Christ always desires to be the Center. To be the center of our hearts our thoughts our words our deeds, and for the realization on our part that He is the reason why we live and breathe, and without Him we can do nothing!. We all have to adjust to make Jesus the Center.

There is the hazard though  of escaping into heavenly bliss in order to escape any earthly commitments, even Dietrich realized his tendency to escape to this “heavenly mystic abyss”. The old saying “to be so heavenly minded you are no earthly good” has it’s merits.If we are called to be Salt and Light, in this world we can’t retreat into our Christian coma and call it Christian living, what good impact are we having in the lives of others and in this world if we extract ourselves from the equation. We are the good in this world that versus the evil. Good because God is good and He lives in us, Versus  evil ( the devil)  because he is in this world and in the sons of disobedience.

Dietrich had to draw a line and decide where he was going to take a stand, he wrestled with his Christian ideology and understanding, as a pacifist it was difficult from him to even consider an avenue of violence.He had to choose where he would stand and he took his stance for Christ in the midst of it all, in the midst of  Hitler’s horror, In his  country, where chaos and evil ran rampant down every street . Ironically this evil  was calling itself a ” Religious Regime”, believing the lie that they were a superior people and superiorly created to be “Super men” by God!. They never surrendered or acknowledged God instead many pledged their allegiance to Hitler and to their country. Dietrich chose to pledge his allegiance to the Lord, and was able to distinguish the contrast and  error of choosing country and regime.He did not allow himself to be swept away with the arrogance and rebellious pride that was sweeping the nation of Germany. He knew it was  wrong and not what God desired, for that “religious” country had replaced the true God, with a resident evil.The time of Hitler and the hatred and antisemitism, towards the Jews was horrific, sad and sickening.It was demonically driven and hell bent on obliterating and erasing, the chosen people of God, His elect. The devil found a country and a nation and a man, Hitler whom he could control and carry out his demonic scheme and call it “religious purging”, in order to bring about a “pure race”. The face of pure evil.

How can I apply to my life, what was gleaned from this book ?. Seek God, I may never be called upon like Dietrich to be an instrument in covert actions to overthrow the leader of the country. But I am called to recognize evil and choose Christ, to not compromise what I believe in. My life may never be in danger of losing because of my beliefs, but still I must hold fast to Whom I believe in. It may not be a world war at my door, though at times there is warfare,remain in Peace, In the midst of these perilous and trying times remain in Him, When turbulence is on the horizon, in the air, in my city, even in my home, Cling to Jesus.hold fast till the end,for He is faithful and holding me.

When it’s all said and done dear saint may you leave it all on the earth floor- live life knowing you have already won, because of Jesus Christ. Take nothing with and hold nothing in reserve.Our challenge every day is to live this kind of life. Knowing that the end is just the beginning, till then  God help us all..

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Obedience to the Faith

I find it interesting that obedience is only mentioned two times in the New Testament. The first is the obedience that Christ demonstrated to the Father-Hebrews 5:8, and the second time it is is found in 1 Peter 1:13,14 -As obedient children we are to ‘ rest our hope fully upon the grace that is brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’. Christ is the Obedient One.
God gave His best ,and held nothing back. God is not looking for our obedience in order to bless us. His blessings or favor is not dependent on our being obedient, It is because of Christ’s obedience to the cross. Once we rest in the grace, of the revelation of Jesus Christ the giving of our tithes , our time, etc is not something we have to do, it is something we get to do. I have often heard it said,’obedience brings the blessing’.But actually this is not true in light of the cross .Jesus’ obedience brought the blessing.It is not dependent on my obedience, it is dependent on Christs obedience, I just have to believe in what He did, and that God sees as obedience. Obedience of faith.

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Where is your head ?

Today I was reading my daily devotional “Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince . Today’s devotional titled : The Head And The Body Are One . In today’s teaching, it spoke of the head being Christ and the Body being the Church as One. Not separate, but one,and everything that we, the body needs has already been provided by the Head. This made me think about wisdom and the scripture 1 Corinthians 1:30- But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God.

I realized the wisdom of God is already mine, because, Christ as my head, I have the Mind of Christ.-1 Corinthians 2:16 it was at this point that the parable of the Laborers, found in Matthew 20:1-16 opened up to me even more, thanks to the Spirit of Wisdom.Which came as gently as a breeze , I knew something I did not know before.”How gracious are You Lord!.”  

I have often read the Parable of the Laborers found in Matthew 20:12, but never saw the contrast between law and grace, until the spirit of wisdom revealed it to me. Let me explain.what I received.

The Landowner in verse 1, represents Jesus, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers. These are the Jewish people. They represent those who are under the Old testament Law, working to earn their reward by their own efforts and strength.

The Last Laborers , the 11th hour workers, are symbolic of the gentiles representing those not under law but under grace. A New Covenant,who receive, the promise of grace without having to earn it or work for it.

This is what the early Jews were upset about, they worked longer, but were paid the same as those who labored not. This is Law and grace, in parable form.  The Jews were working under Law, trying to earn their reward by their own strength and self effort. They wanted what they considered their ‘Just’ pay.  Actually, they assumed they would be paid more, than the price they had agreed upon .since they “worked” more than the 11th hour laborers. They became indignant when the sum paid was the same.

This is where the understanding of Grace, comes in. When the 11th hour laborers confessed to Jesus that ‘no one would hire them’, in verse 7, they were in essence saying “we have no qualifications”, which is exactly what is necessary for grace to flow in your life, when you realize, I am unqualified, I don’t deserve anything but death, I cannot earn my way to God. And I can do nothing in my own strength.

Jesus responds to them,” you also go into the vineyard,and whatever is right you will receive” . To understand grace, you must believe and  receive by faith ,that Jesus Himself has qualified us. He has made a way for us to God by His death and ressurrection. He is our payment.

Jesus  made us “right with God”. We are the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. We didn’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, and we never were qualified by our own merit to receive any of it. Yet, we have the privilege of enjoying the fruit of His labor. Jesus says in  John 15:13 :  Greater love has no one than this,than to lay down one’s life for his friends. Jesus proved His great Love for us, by going to the cross, because He did all the work, and laid down His life. In this we receive not what we ‘deserve’ which is death, but what the landowner says, ‘Whatever is right you will receive’.

In other words, His Righteousness!, Jesus who is All -right, made us right with God. Jesus  paid the price, and we receive all His benefits, because it was all His to give to begin with. We receive what is right, from Him, His righteousness.

Here is what the Jews did not understand, some even to this day, the Jewish people were the first ‘called’ by God, Through father Abraham. They were ‘chosen’ as His special people and told  the Messiah would come, as a Jew. But,because of their unbelief, and rejection of Jesus Christ as their Messiah.We the gentiles, (who were last,) were grafted in, we received the Gospel of Jesus Christ being ‘last’ to hear.This is what Verse 16 means: “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen”.

In the parable of the Laborers, the payment was the same for whoever would receive. The same is true today,The payment is from Christ, by Christ. The payment has already been made, and agreed upon between God and His Son. Justice has been served by Christ, and we are now justified in God’s sight. It was always about Christ and it always will be.

To think otherwise, that it has something to do with you, or your works or your self effort,is to be deceived, .It is because Jesus is good. It is all Him, and of Him, always has been , always will be. If you see it any other way, than your ‘eye is evil’. And you are under Law, and not under Grace.

May the wisdom of Christ and His finished work fill your heart and mind.We who believe, are the body of Christ. and He is Our head. The Body and head are one. Without Christ as your head, you are walking dead.

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CHRIST HAS DONE IT ALL!

Today I was reflecting on a conversation I had with a friend yesterday. In it we were talking about things that still needed to be done that day, like the laundry, cleaning and cooking . I told her how my husband often cooks dinner for our family, and she responded a bit vehemently that her husband never cooks. It made me think about stereo types and gender roles,as well as cultural differences and traditions .Which ultimately led me to think about Jesus. 

I wondered if Jesus ever cooked and the image of Him making breakfast on the beach, grilling fish and bread for the disciples over an open flame. It was right after he had risen from the dead.  So yes, Jesus being fully Man, and fully God did cook!.

I also wondered if Jesus ever cleaned house, and again the image of Him over turning the tables of the money changers,and the seats of those who sold doves,in the temple and driving them all out played out in my minds eye. Yup, Jesus cleaned house… In fact every time someone was healed and delivered from an evil spirit ,their house was cleaned!, Jesus was the original Molly Maid. Some days, it must have seemed like all he did was clean house!

As I followed this thought through, I realized He also did the wash, as seen in the last supper. Scripture says, He laid aside His garments took a towel and girded Himself,poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with His towel. And I am sure He did it with love in His heart, and a smile on His face. 

Never was a complaint found on His lips, for the amount of work He had to do. Jesus cooked , He cleaned He washed. Did I mention, He never complained?. In fact scripture says, ‘Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God’. 

On the day that Jesus was crucified, He did not regret or despise what He had to endure their was no shame in it. He did not complain… He saw past His present affliction, to the joy of us all reconciled with the Father.

On that day, the wrath of God, the fire of God, fell on the body of Jesus Christ and He literally “cooked”. But He, Himself was not consumed, sin was . On that day on Calvary’s Hill, The Blood of Jesus poured out, and cleansed us of all our sin,and made us white as snow. 

On that day, Jesus saw you, and He saw me, He saw all of humanity, even those who rejected Him,and He cried out ‘Father forgive them,for they do not know what they do”. That day, the greatest servant on earth, served up His life, by offering His body as our sacrifice, His precious blood more than paid the price, for you and me, to go free. He was condemned, and in exchange we were acquitted. 

In pondering all this, I realize Jesus did it all.He did all the work ,”It is finished!”. I also realize He broke through cultural barriers, and religious barriers, By elevating and honoring women. He never conformed to the traditions of men, or their ideology. Instead He showed us a more excellent way.

I include myself when I say, every man, woman and child would benefit to follow Jesus’ example in that, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. By doing so we imitate Christ. And Like Christ, we do it,with no complaint on our lips, with love in our hearts, and no matter what is set before us,to count it all joy, and in service to the King. We can all practice this, with a smile on our face and see Him Smiling back. Reminding us, He is our joy and our strength. Discovering as we go,to know , we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

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Once And For All !

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: I was just thinking about Christ and the great price He paid for us ,Once and for all. And what that really means.And who really believes it? For unbelievers, who will believe in Him and His finished work Romans 10:9,10 says: that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Once that confession is made, you are now made the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus, you are a new creation, and all your sins are forgiven, past, present and future. 
What I find odd is that, once saved many Christians say Jesus, died and paid the price for their sins,, but by their actions and need to confess their sins over and over and believe they have to repent in order for God to forgive them negates what they just said they believe!. 
Hebrews 10:17b,18 Says: their sins and their lawless deeds God will remember no more.Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
In essence God saw the sacrifice of Jesus and it was more than enough, for all of our sins. God remembers our sin no more it was all taken in the body of Jesus Christ, He became our sin. So that we can be made the righteousness of God, this is all part of the divine exchange.Because of this we can as Hebrews 19 goes on to say- have boldness to enter the Holiest,by the blood of Jesus,and draw near with a true heart,in full assurance of faith having our evil conscience,and our bodies washed with pure water.
If God is not remembering our sins, then why do many born again Christians feel compelled to remind Him daily?. I think this is the ‘evil conscience’ Hebrews 19 is speaking of..It seems many Christians are often more sin conscience than Christ conscience.Their confessing and asking God to forgive them,as if somehow they didn’t receive that the moment they believed, when the only confession necessary was to confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in their hearts. 
If our hearts have been sprinkled and from an evil conscience, why do many still search their heart for sin ? why continually ask God to forgive you.He already has. To repent means to change ones mind, to change your mind,about a wrong thinking a wrong behavior,etc.means you are no longer going to think that way, you have changed your mind,(repented). But forgiveness is not attached to repentance, yet it is often understood this way. but this is not only wrong thinking , it is wrong believing.Forgiveness came the moment you first believed.and you repented (changed your mind,) to believe in Christ. repentance is happening all day everyday. But forgiveness happened once and for all through Jesus at the cross. If you believe otherwise… repent, change your mind, and God will still see you completely forgiven in Christ. 
“And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”-John 8:32. Know the truth, believe the truth, take God at His word. And refuse to go back to that sin conscience form of bondage again. God isn’t looking at your sin, or even remembering it. He is looking at Jesus,every time God looks at us, He sees Jesus. As Christ is so are we in this world. If God sees us, as Christ is and not our sin. Shouldn’t we all turn our eyes and see ourselves clothed with Christ, no longer clothed with sin,Once and for all?.

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I once was blind but now I see, A.K.A I once was in denial but not any more

I just finished reading the blog ‘Do I look like a baby killer?’ by fieldwork in stilettos, Kate Richter. It caused me to think of my past, the present and my future. The author speaks of being misidentified as someone heading into planned parenthood for an abortion, when her real reason is to routinely pickup her birth control pills.This made me reflect on my experiences, in Planned Parenthood, but I was never there to pick up pills. This was what my experience was like.

When I was 18 years old, I walked into a planned parenthood facility in New York City with the sole purpose of having an abortion, I walked into the same office at the age 19, for my second abortion, and had my 3rd abortion when I was 21 years old, in a facility in downtown Los Angeles. I remember lying to the assistant, on my third pregnancy in regards to how far along I was, for fear they would not do the procedure.They did it anyway, and it was painful.

Even under the sedation I could feel the scraping of the walls of my uterus. and the sound of the vacuum sucking out the remains of “the blob” similiar to a mucousy membrane is what I had been told , and had immediately convinced myself of such. .

My first waking memory from that sedation, was the sound of someone crying , I  wondered who it was, while the nurse yelled from across the room “Be quiet!, you’re scaring all the other women!”. I realized when the nurse stood over me and glared, that I was the one crying, and that desolate sound was coming from deep inside of me. Even in my dazed state I  immediately started apologizing for my crying,and for causing a disturbance.Not fully realizing the “real disturbance” had already taken place inside of my womb.

The evidence of this would be discovered after my third abortion when the Dr. told me,  if I continued to have abortions,because of all the scraping that I could run the risk of bleeding to death. And because their was  massive scarring, on the walls of my uterus, it would be difficult for a viable embryo to attach itself to the actual wall.It would most likely result in a miscarriage. This also took place at a Planned Parenthood facility. This time in downtown LA, the room was packed with women wearing these flimsy gowns, all waiting to be called to get our blood drawn before we went under the anestesia. I remember sitting there with all these women at least 30 in the room,feeling extremely vulnerable.It was right then that two Mexican men who were part of the hospital cleaning staff, decided to take their lunch break in the same room with all of the women. I watched as they unpacked their lunch and ate it in front of us, laughing and gobbling up all the women,with their eyes I felt sorry for the ones that wore robes that were to small ,that didn’t cover them completely, I knew they felt vulnerable as well . While the two men chortled and spoke to one another in garbled Spanish, I silently brewed at with indignation. I wanted to stand up and scream at the them, but the only time I stood was when they called my number to get my blood drawn. and I walked silently to the station.

The fourth time I got pregnant, I had an trip to the hospital, emergency room due to shooting pains in my Uterus.They checked my falloppian tubes for a possible ectopick pregnancy.I remember telling the male nurse that I had three previous abortions and I was considering having another one. He spoke snidely to me  ‘that abortion is not a form of contraceptive’. I remember being angry at him, but said nothing out loud.I felt I was being admonished and violated at the same time.

Later I was sent downstairs for an ultrasound to find the location of the embryo in my womb. When a heart beat was detected on the monitor, the female nurse asked me if I would like to see it. A short shrilly sound escaped from my mouth, and I told her ‘No’.as I turned my eyes away from the monitor. I thought to myself ‘ if I don’t see it ,it’s not real’. But in that moment, I knew my denial had caught up with me, and so had my conscience,I could not convince myself any longer that it was ‘a small blob’. Reality was beginning to set in loud and clear,this was a fetus, it had a heartbeat, it was alive, and it was inside of me.

I was still scheduled,that week to go have an abortion in downtown LA. But my mind was not easily playing along. Days earlier I had talked to the receptionist at the office, she had a sweet understanding voice, her name was Pat,and she kept telling me ‘just come in’. Now I was standing in front of her desk filling out an  form for another abortion. But ever since the ultra sound with the heart beat I was disturbed.I was so afraid of being pregnant and the thought of raising a child,completely overwhelmed me. I had never considered any other options, I had always had abortions in the past, but this time it was different.

As I sat there in that office with my boyfriend. Filling out the form, the greatest thing happened,  Ms.honeyvoiced Pat got called  away from her desk  and into the back room. I sat there with my form completely filled out ,all I had to do was hand it in as soon as she returned, while I waited I looked across the room at the only other young couple sitting,no, clinging to each other, they looked more frightened then me.he was wearing a gold chain , and she was sobbing. five minutes turned into ten, and as I sat there the words of what a  doctor, had said to me,came to my remembrance ,about the risk of my death, if I had another abortion.Those words played out in my head, and  Pat had still not returned .

Ironically, it was the risk of me losing my life that caused me to stand up and crumple up that form and leave that office that day. not the idea of this unborn child losing it’s life if I proceeded.That’s the selfish truth. Even though I did not know God at that time, I thank God Pat did not return to her desk,and I thanked Him for that selfish fear that catapulted me out of that office. It was as if, I saw myself like an animal being led to the slaughter, I would have fallen into familiar step, handed her my form,and allowed myself to be led away, I saw myself laying down but never getting back up. Call it a premonition, call it a vision, I call it divine intervention.I made the decision that day to choose life not death, and I have lived to never regret that decision, and so has my beautiful daughter who is now 21 years old and she is my greatest achievement, and my finest reward.

I have since come to terms with my past decisions,and through counseling acknowledge the fact that I assisted in ending the lives of three of my children. One of the things that is not mentioned at Planned parenthood is that often the decision to abort a child leads to other complications,like post traumatic abortion syndrome.It is real, it’s what happens after you have had the abortions, it’s living with yourself and your decisions,and it’s consequences . I hid the truth and suffered silently, it wasn’t a miscarriage, it was an abortion so I didn’t tell anybody,it was intentional, but no one comforts you over your loss, it’s not something you talk about.

The loss is registered internally it causes physical ailments,often in the abdomen,or lower back,in the digestive system,etc.as well as emotional or mental anguish quite often in the form of depression.Through the years I often found myself counting to see how old my children would be compared to other people’s kids. I came to realize my decision did affect other people. For example: I had robbed my own Mother of ever seeing,or having a relationship with three of her grandchildren.memories that were never made, and stories she never got to tell.As well as other members of my family, not to mention the men that I was with were robbed of their child.Whether they realized it or not.

All of this can weigh very heavy on your soul. But Planned Parenthood doesn’t tell you that either. One  the night I decided I would commit suicide, my daughter was only 2 years old, I was living with her Dad and they were both asleep in the bed next to me.Even though I loved them both,it was not enough, to keep me.

The only thing that saved me from myself, was I when I cried out to God,and said  ‘God, of you are out there, and if you are real, come into my life,and fill these voids that are so deep, no man can fill, no amount of sex can fill, nor drugs can fill, that only You can  if you are real. I asked God to fill up these empty spaces,and cracks deep inside of me.’ and if You do, I said ‘ I will not say it is chance or fluke I will attribute it to You, I will know you,are real, and I will connect every dot to You’. I  made a deal with God that night, and I asked Him to prove himself over the next two weeks!, that night I slept for the first time in a long tim in peace, and when I awoke, the room seemed brighter,I didn’t wake up depressed I was actually happy and this was something new.

God continued to show me over the next two weeks how much He cared about me,He filled me up and  lifted the darkness of depression that had hung like a cloud over me. And He has continued to shine His love on me ever since.The amazing thing was all the guilt I had been carrying specifically about my decisions to have three abortions,was completely gone, and I knew that only God could have done that.Because I was completely forgiven,even when I told other Christians this, they couldn’t forgive me, But I didn’t care because  I knew that God forgave me. My guilt, my shame and self condemnation was taken away, and peace took it’s place. That’s how the voids in me got filled, and that’s how my cracks healed over time.

Today,I know my future is bright, and I know one day I will see my three children in heaven, because I know that is where they are right now. Because they were fearfully and wonderfully knit together in my womb,and that my soul knows very well. They are in the fullness of their youth and in the presence of the giver of Life. I once was blind but know I see. I’m no longer in denial, I know the truth and I know that I am completely forgiven in Christ. And I choose Life.

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Set your mind on things above

What’s on your mind?…Maybe it’s time to come up higher, and set your mind on things above.-

Finally, brethren,whatever things are true,whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things”.- Philippians 3:8

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