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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Man of Destiny

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Many of us enjoyed the Valkyrie movie which showed the courage of those who sacrificed life and family to put an end to Nazism.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, though not mentioned directly in the movie, was instrumental in the Valkyrie plot to stop Hitler.  Martyred for his faith just 23 days before the Allies liberated Germany, Bonhoeffer’s last poem and his Barmen Declaration are printed in the ‘Lutheran’ hymnbook.[1]

Coming from a highly educated, aristocratic family, Bonhoeffer shocked his family by deciding to become a pastor.[2] Bonhoeffer was spiritually impacted by his Moravian Brethren ‘nanny’ Maria Horn who introduced him to the practice of having daily devotions.[3] After earning his doctorate at age 21, Bonhoeffer moved to the United States where he encountered African-American gospel music and preaching at the 14,000-member Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, NY.  The Abyssinian Church was led by Dr Adam Clayton Powell Sr, the son of slaves whose mother was a full-blooded Cherokee.  Dr Powell told a powerful story of his conversion to Christ from heavy drinking, violence and gambling.[4] Bonhoeffer was deeply moved by Dr Powell, saying “…here one can truly speak and hear about sin and grace and the love of God…the black Christ is preached with rapturous passion and vision.”[5]

Moving back to Germany in 1931, Bonhoeffer warned people about the dangers of Nazism, but many brushed off his prophetic statements as alarmist.  The Nazis worked carefully to first silence and then take over the Churches in Germany, birthing a movement called the German Christian Movement which discarded the Old Testament, putting the swastika at the centre of the cross.[6] At the Berlin Sports Stadium in 1933, in front of 20,000 supporters, the cross was denounced as ‘a ridiculous debilitating remnant of Judaism, unacceptable to National Socialists.’[7]  Nazis believed that it was un-aryan to let Jesus take our sins on the cross.

 Bonhoeffer responded by forming the Confessing Church movement which rejected racism and hatred of others. The Confessing Church started five seminaries/centres for training future pastors. Many Confessing Churches were firebombed by gangs of Hitler Youth.  On December 1935, the Nazis declared the Confessing Church to be illegal. They forbid the Confessing Church to hire employees, send out newsletters, take collections, or train students for ordination.[8] In 1937, the Nazis banned worship services from being held in unconsecrated buildings, homes or in public meeting halls.  It also became illegal to pray for anyone who had been sent to prison.[9]  Many Confessing Church pastors ended up in prison.

In 1938, Bonhoeffer quietly contacted Admiral Wilhelm Canaris who was involved in the German resistance movement. As the leader of the Abwehr Intelligence, Canaris was seeking for a way to remove Hitler.[10]  After the annexation of Austria and the destruction of over three hundred synagogues and 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses on the night of Kristallnacht, Bonhoeffer was persuaded to return to the United States. His friends were sure that Hitler was about to destroy Bonhoeffer.  He had no peace in the USA, knowing that Germany needed him.  Bonhoeffer opened his bible to the verse: He who believes does not flee. After only four weeks, he embraced his destiny, taking the last ship back to Germany.[11]

After the invasion of Poland and then France, Bonhoeffer was now required to report regularly to the police. He was forbidden to speak in public or publish books.[12] In 1943, while working for the underground, Bonhoeffer fell in love with and became engaged to Maria von Wedemeyer. Three months later he was arrested by the Gestapo.   “Your life would have been quite different, easier, clearer, simpler, had not our paths crossed,” he wrote to her. But Maria stayed faithful to Bonhoeffer to the very end.[13] While in Tegel Prison, Bonhoeffer wrote: “Church is only church when it is there for others.” One of the guards, Sergeant Knobloch, tried to smuggle Bonhoeffer out disguised as a mechanic. But Bonhoeffer rejected the escape plan in order to protect his fiancée and family.[14] A British fellow prisoner said later that ‘Bonhoeffer was all humility and sweetness with a deep gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive.’[15]

After Bonhoeffer was hung at Flossenburg, the prison doctor reported: “In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”[16]

I thank God for the courage of Bonhoeffer that he sacrificed his own life in order to make a way forward for others. Bonhoeffer was truly a man who embraced his destiny.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


[1]Schlingensiepen,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer: 1906-1945: martyr, thinker, man of resistance, T&T Clark, 2010,   P.xxii

[2] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, March 20th 2009,  http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[3]  Schlingensiepen, P. 10, 228, 382 “chapter 1 ft 6 “the Moravian Losungn ( watchword for the day), the daily devotions book, played an operant part in Bonhoeffer’s life and is still widely used today.”

[4] Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy , Thomas Nelson,Nashville, P.108

[5] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, March 20th 2009,  http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[6] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[7] Metaxas, P.193, P.290 Himmler told Moni Von Cramin: “As an Aryan I must have the courage to take responsibility for my sins alone.” He rejected as ‘jewish’ the idea of putting one’s sins on someone else’s shoulders.

[8] Schlingensiepen, P. 193

[9] Schlingensiepen, P. 205

[10] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[11] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[12] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[13] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[14] Schlingensiepen, P. 359

[15] Schlingensiepen, P.369

[16] Metaxas, P.464

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Making Love Last Forever with Gary Smalley

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the most encouraging books that I have read on marriage and relationships is by the best-selling author Gary Smalley, who has  sold millions of videos on how to strengthen our vital relationships.  John Gray, the well-known author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, comments: “If you want a lasting love relationship, I highly recommend Gary Smalley’s guide to forever love”.

One of the keys to his memorable books is that Gary teaches you how to fall in love with life all over again.  Everything he writes has to do with the age-old struggle between the life-giving principle of honour and the life-draining emotion of destructive anger.  The average person, says Smalley, has little or no idea how damaging that forgotten or ignored anger can be.  Worse yet, most people don’t even know how much destructive anger they have buried inside, much like unexploded landmines left in the middle eastern sands.  Once buried, our anger does its worst damage, wreaking havoc on our physical and emotional well-being.  Facing our anger is indispensable to Making Love Last Forever.

Anger, says Smalley, is a secondary emotion, not a primary feeling.  It arises out of fear, frustration, hurt, or some combination of these three.  Anger is actually a coping strategy to attempt to banish fear from our lives.  Sometimes our parents have non-verbally taught us that perfect anger casts out all fear, when the truth is that only perfect love casts out all fear.

Smalley comments that anger can be thought of as a sticky, bad-smelling dangerous substance that can be compressed and stuffed into something like a spray can.  Angry people tend to go around spraying their anger on other people.  The spray is felt by others as meanness, insensitivity, and general offensiveness.  Most angry people have no idea that their angry spray stings others like hydrochloric acid.  Unresolved anger is the No. 1 enemy of Making Love Last Forever.

Some of us as men pride ourselves that we are not as other husbands, who physically beat up their wives in drunken rages.  Yet even if our anger never turns violent or illegal, unresolved anger can still prove destructive.  All of us want to feel connected in our primary relationships.  But one of the most common results of deep anger is relational distance, an unwillingness and inability to let others get close.  It is as if we are living inside a relational box of thick plate glass.  Yet we keep wondering as men why our wives won’t become more intimate.

Unresolved anger, says Smalley, is not only destructive to our families.  It is also destructive to our personal health. Many of the backaches, neckaches, and headaches that send us complaining to our GPs are actually the outworking of buried anger.  Anger studies were done on medical doctors and lawyers over a 25 year period.  By the age of fifty, only 4 percent of the low-ranked easy-going lawyers and 2 percent of the doctors had died.  Lawyers who had ranked high on anger had a 20 percent mortality rate;  doctors 14 percent.  Studies are also showing that angry people are more susceptible to heart attacks – the leading cause of death in North America.  Hostile anger can boost heart rates, raise blood pressure and lead to increased clogging of the arteries.  What’s worse, says Smalley, is that the risk of heart attack seems to be greatly increased during the two hours following a bout with anger.

Why do we get angry anyways?  Smalley suggests that we get angry because either someone is taking something away from us that we don’t want to lose, or else we’re being denied something we want to gain.  By facing and grieving our losses, we break the power of anger to make our lives miserable.

Part of healthy grieving is the willingness to lay aside bitterness, the willingness to say like Jesus: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”  Another key to grieving, says Smalley, is to search for “hidden pearls” in any offense committed against you.  The idea here is that some good can come out of any bad situation – if you’ll just look for it.  That’s why the Good Book says that all things work for the good for those who love the Lord.  Grieving our losses is an irreplaceable key in Making Love Last Forever.

I recently watched a most disturbing and enlightening movie entitled “The Field”.  It was about an Irish farmer who dedicated his life to providing for his family’s future.  But again and again his anger rose up to destroy everything and everyone that he loved.  Given my Irish heritage,  it was a strong warning to me that I had to face the anger in my life, or it would one day destroy me.

Unresolved anger can cripple us in so many ways.  Anger keeps us distant from the very people we want to care for.  In contrast, love builds bridges of trust and forgiveness.  Sometimes anger even keeps us distant from God himself.  Smalley has found that the greater the unresolved anger, the more difficulty that person has in developing a meaningful spiritual life.  Studies after studies are confirming that a healthy spiritual life in a marriage reduces divorce rates, increases marital satisfaction, and lowers the level of relational conflict.

My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may discover the keys to Making Love Last Forever.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca