I actually read some physical books this month. Usually, I just read things that are online. I read one book that was about a Jewish woman, named Edith, who hid out in Germany during World War II. She was from Vienna and she obtained identity papers from a friend who told the authorities that she had lost them when her purse fell overboard into the river, when she was on holiday. Then Edith went to Munich and got a job with the Red Cross as a nurse's aid.
I've heard people say that there were so many internment camps in Germany, many that have not been mentioned in reports, that it would have been impossible for ordinary German citizens to not know what was happening to the people who were sent there. Well, I think that there must have been some who really did not know, because Edith didn't know that people were being wholesale slaughtered in them. She was forced to work on a farm for a little over a year, and when she heard that her mother had been sent to Auschwitz while she was away, she assumed that it was just a work camp like the one she was in, and she had hopes of finding her mother alive when the war was over.
Edith had completed law studies, but was denied her degree because she was a Jew. Her false papers said that she was only twenty years old, whereas she was actually 29. Because she was short, she was often mistaken for being very young.
One day when Edith was sitting in a cafe, a Nazi soldier started chatting to her and took her on a tour of an art gallery. Edith had submerged her strong personality for the sake of survival, making herself agreeable and to seem not too clever, and the German soldier very much liked the persona that she projected. He was a controller who insisted on being in charge.
They dated a bit and then Werner, the German soldier, returned to his duties in Brandenburg, where he was in charge of painting aircraft. He felt that he had fallen in love with Edith, and when he returned to visit her again, he proposed marriage, but confessed that he was already married and had a child, though he was getting a divorce. Edith confessed that she was a Jew, and that if he married her, he would be putting himself at risk.
Werner laughed his head off. He had issues with authority and loved to lie to his superior officers, calling in sick when he didn't feel like going to work. He liked the idea of marrying a Jew and passing her off as German right under their noses. They lived together until he got his divorce, and then he married her.
Though he still had a passion for his former wife, Werner thought that Edith was the perfect wife. His first wife was very strong–willed and they fought a lot. Edith catered to all his needs, having his meals ready when he got home, keeping their apartment immaculate, and pleasing him in the bedroom. She studied him and made sure that she kept him happy. She knew that, if she didn't, he would turn her in. And so she survived the war.
Werner didn't know it consciously, but his second wife was very strong–willed, as well. He was attracted to that type of woman, though he got frustrated when they asserted themselves. I think that he felt a need to subdue strong women to prove to himself that he was strong and manly. He had been deprived of a loving mother in childhood, as his mother was an alcoholic.
I was struck with how, though Edith was not a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, God was very active in her life, using her and Werner where they were at, to keep her alive. Besides all the other breaks that she had that enabled her to keep from being sent off to a camp, it had to be God who led that German soldier to the cafe that day.
Werner was made an officer after they married, so Edith had great cover. People were afraid of her because her husband was a Nazi officer. When she needed to find shelter, she was given preference because of this and other favours were shown her, as well.
God doesn't approve of divorce or of lying or of fornication, but He used Werner's weaknesses to protect Edith and keep her alive throughout the war. Werner would lie at the drop of a hat; he loved to put something over on others, especially if they were an authority. When he needed to get formula for their baby, he told the pharmicists that Edith had already lost three children and would lose her mind, if she lost this one, too. He didn't tell her how he got the formula until he was leaving to go to the eastern front, and then he apologetically told her that, if the pharmicists treated her as a tragic figure, that was why. Edith thought it was a hoot; his lying came in very handy many times.
After their divorce, Edith still honoured Werner to their daughter, though Werner didn't care for the child much because of her Jewish blood. He hadn't wanted to have children with Edith because she was a Jew, but she managed to persuade him to get her pregnant. Werner was not a man whom Edith could trust and be herself with, but she honoured him for having saved her life, and because of the other good things about him that she appreciated.
I've thought before of the grace of God towards Abraham, how, though he was a slave owner and a polygamist, and told lies when he was afraid of being murdered, instead of trusting God more, God dealt with Abraham where he was at, and had patience with him. The same goes for David, in spite of his problem with lust. It was because, in spite of their character flaws, they really did want to serve God. Jesus said that He would not quench any flame of love for Him, no matter how small. He would work with it and see if He could fan it into a steady and substantial flame.
I could see another aspect of His grace in this story about Edith and Werner. In this case, neither of them loved Him, but He had His reasons for keeping this woman alive, maybe for the sake of her daughter that she bore, or maybe for the sake of her grandchildren being born. Someone down the line was going to turn to Jesus as their Saviour, if not Edith herself. I thought it would be a great shame, though, if Edith died without ever having realized how it had been God who preserved her life, not simply her own ingenuity, and how awful if, having been graciously spared many miseries in life that she could have experienced, she went into Eternity without having received Jesus as her Saviour.
The marriage did not survive after the war. They were in the Russian sector and Edith was a made a family court judge. Werner was upset that she was out working, instead of staying home and catering to his every need and desire, as before. He was very unrealistic about what the government would allow his wife to do. They needed her services, and they also wanted her to inform on people for them, in return for having responded to her repeated requests to release Werner from a prison camp in Siberia. Werner divorced her and went back to his first wife, and Edith escaped to England with her daughter, as she did not want to betray the trust of those who confided in her.
Yes, it was an interesting book, and I read another one about the war in relation to a couple who worked with the French Resistance. I was amazed at their confidence. The man was imprisoned three times, and each time his wife cooked up schemes to set him free. One of those times involved her walking into Klaus Barbie's office and pretending to be her husband's lover, whom he had lied to and gotten pregnant. She was pregnant, and she said that she wanted this man to marry her to give her child a name before he died. This was a scheme to get him taken out of the prison and brought to the office of a Nazi officer whose sense of compassion she had managed to engage. Her plans worked out very well and they managed to escape with their little boy to England.
Again, the hand of God was there to preserve their lives, but this couple were ardent Communists or Socialists. As far as I am concerned, there isn't much difference between the two, but Socialists might think there is. Pol Pot was a guest in their home for many weeks and they made him godfather to one of their daughters. I wouldn't want a mass murderer to be in charge of my children's interests, but that couple overlooked his bloody tendencies. I tossed the book in the garbage afterwards because it was so disappointing that they appeared to remain mired in their atheistic arrogance. There have been many, many people to whom God has extended His hand of mercy, and yet they have remained in denial of Him.
I have been going through the book of 1 Samuel in my Bible studies, reading about Saul's mistakes. I can see why the Lord led me to start off my new Bible study with this book. For many years, I've wondered, "Am I like Esau or am I like Jacob? At some point in the future, would I sell my birthright for a piece of bread? How will I fare when the heat is on, and being a Christian means not being able to get a job, or getting thrown into prison and tortured? Or am I like Jacob, who deeply valued the things of God, though he sometimes went about the wrong way to obtain God's blessings?"
Who really knows their own heart? The Bible says of the human heart that is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. Born–again believers are given a new nature, but that new nature wars against our fleshly nature, and sometimes the flesh gets the upper hand.
I think of those verses in Psalms that say, "You know my downsitting and mine uprising, you understand my thought afar off. You compass my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, you know it altogether."
I don't want to have any downsittings at all, but I do have them. It seems that my biggest stumblingblock is watching movies, though I know better than most people that they are not just a waste of time, but programming tools that deliberately groom people towards unbiblical values. I don't watch them all the time. Sometimes I have gone for weeks without watching any, and sometimes I have gone for only a week, before falling into the same pit again. I try, at least, to watch Christian movies. That's how it starts out, anyway. Then the chick flicks, and eventually, sometimes movies where there is violence. And I beat myself up over up because I really should be past this and spending that time, instead, preparing for ministry.
It used to be easier to avoid watching movies. People tried to give me televisions and I wouldn't take them, except for one time when I gave in, so that my grandson could watch videos, but it proved a stumblingblock to me and I got rid of it. It wasn't hard to avoid movies after I got a computer, as long as it wasn't hooked up to the Internet. But now I have an Internet connection and need to maintain it, and there are movies and old TV shows galore available to watch on YouTube. Conveniently, I can skip the opening credits, don't have to watch commercials, and I can advance it to skip over naughty bits, if there are any. These improvements over watching movies on television add to the temptation to watch them online.
So, now I am doing this study on Saul, and feeling continually pricked in my heart. I always thought of myself being like David, a woman after God's own heart, a woman who loves God's ways and wants what God wants. Falling flat on my face over and over again, in regards to watching these movies, makes me feel more like Saul, who kept choosing his own ways over God's. It makes me wonder whether I am going to end up being like Saul or like David.
Smooth words such as, "Oh, Lanny, you're such a woman of God; you're being too hard on yourself," are of no comfort to me. Good choices versus bad choices is a serious issue that every soul faces and must confront. My sin may seem like a little sin to most Christians, but it is a big sin to me.
I've wondered if I should pull my article and poem about subliminals off my website, to avoid being a hypocrite, or because truth always has more impact, if it is practiced by the person who promotes it. The answer to that is no. I will leave them there because truth is truth, even if I don't always practice what I preach. If I have to wait until my life is perfect before I open my mouth, I'd probably never share God's truth with anyone. I've been a Christian for over forty years, and haven't reached perfection, yet, and it's probably not going to happen before I die.
Another failing is that I didn't make it out to church this morning. I've been having struggles getting to church, and I thought I had it licked today. I woke up around 4:30, so I prayed and did my Bible study, I ate breakfast, and I had a shower. Then I tucked myself back into bed, as is sometimes my habit after having a shower, to get warmed up and completely dry. I had fifteen minutes to spare, before needing to get dressed and put on my make–up. Right as I was deciding what to wear, I conked out, and didn't wake up until it was too late to get to church on time. The church locks its doors, after a certain time, to discourage people from being late.
I went back to sleep because I still hadn't gotten eight hours, and at least some of my dreams were good. I dreamed about living with my friends Bud and Ruby Beasley again, and offering to pay them board and room. I boarded with the Beasleys twice in my life, and I loved living with these godly people. I had some things stored at a storage unit that I was renting, but I forgot where the place was and I figured, "Well, I guess I can get along with a lot less than what I thought I need, because I really don't miss those things. I don't even remember what I've got stored there. I've got my family photos with me." I was packing at least two big albums around with me. Why was I doing that, when I was on the move, staying with friends?
In my dream, there was also some unsaved guy, who asked me if I thought he should listen to someone telling him the Gospel. I said, "Sure. Let Bud Beasley tell you his testimony. There might be something in it that you need to hear." Then I thought, "What is Bud's testimony anyway? He never told it to me."
I also dreamed that I had a business, though I don't know what kind, and I felt thoroughly comfortable with having a business. In the dream, it was easy for me to run. Also, I got the impression that a lot of Christians are going to have their own businesses and prospering in them ten years from now. That fits in with a dream I had a few days ago about my old boss, Arne, whom I still do some work for a few hours here and there. He was 105 in the dream, standing straight and tall, not bent over anymore, and he opened an insurance business again, except that he also insured cars this time.
In the dream, I was working for him to help him out until he could find an office manager to hire, not because I needed the money. He was annoying me because he kept asking me to do job after job for him, when I was trying to figure out how to get some paper out that was jammed in a machine. I told him, "I can only do one thing at a time." I wondered why he was acting like that, because he wasn't like that when I worked for him before. I'm not talking about multi–tasking, which I can do. I'm talking about when a boss doesn't let you get anything done, because they want everything right now. It could be that the dream is telling me that my expectations of myself are too high. Hmm.
Well, that could be true. I've been feeling guilty because I haven't done any art work, yet, though I told myself weeks ago that I would try to do something in that line again, and I've been feeling guilty about not doing more writing for my website, because I have been writing stories for my grandson Jake, but Jake needs those stories to teach him about God in a format that he will listen to. Back in December, when we read together what I had written for him so far, he absolutely loved the story and started reading it again by himself as soon as we finished it. And I was so impressed with him that he could read all the big words that were in the story, though he was only seven going on eight.
It surely is humbling to fall flat on one's face. There have been many times when I've thought of myself as a superior Christian, at least compared to the majority of North American Christians who live comfortable lives, but not very pure in regards to what they watch on TV, and the music they listen to, and the books they read. I've never thought I could hold a candle to Chinese and Korean Christians, and others elsewhere who have been imprisoned for their faith. Well, I can't compare myself even to Christians who are content with mediocrity, because God's standard differs for everybody. He tailors our tests according to our knowledge.
I've wondered about preachers who have talked about their depravity and wondered what it was that they saw in themselves that bothered them so much, as they seemed to be living so pure and holy. Satan can dive into the human heart and dredge up all sorts of garbage to hinder our walk, no matter how long we walk with the Lord. God can help us, through Jesus, to get the victory over trial after trial, but it won't stop until we leave off this mortal body. There is never a man or woman of God who has never erred, though Samuel seemed to come pretty close to being nearly perfect, and John the Immerser was another.
Even in the midst of my sinning by watching movies, though, God still shows grace. There was one I watched that was really rather depressing, but it caught my attention because it was about a British soldier with PTSD who was having a hard time finding a normal job after he returned from Afghanistan. I feel compassion for soldiers. It's such a rotten job, regardless of the visions of glory that hook some people into that profession, and also in spite of my conviction that a lot of people are drawn to it because they want to kill people, and this is how they can do it legally and feel that they are serving a good cause while they are at it.
I've felt that way ever since I read Job 39:19 – 35 and understood that the attributes of a war horse are metaphors for the warrior mentality, which is programmed from childhood to go to war, but the person himself/herself refuses to believe that and thinks that it is all entirely their own choice that they joined the military. I believe in defending one's country, and also in helping innocent people in other countries to throw off tyranny, but wars have gotten dirtier and dirtier, and military systems have become so compromised with sin, that it almost seems best to stay out of the military. If a nation didn't have a military, though, it would be completely vulnerable to invasion, so we need people to be soldiers. We need to pray for our military to be cleaned up, so that soldiers are treated fairly and with dignity.
Soldiers sometimes act like jerks. I am well aware that, even in more wholesome times, such as during World War II when America and the British Commonwealth still subscribed to strong Christian values, allied soldiers behaved in ways, when they were abroad, that would have appalled their families back home, if they knew that they had misbehaved so badly. But I also realize that there were greater temptations to do so, than what there was back home. And who am I to judge another for how they fail? I can judge that what they did was wrong, but I can't say that I would do better, if I had the same opportunities to sin. Nobody knows that about themselves until they are in exactly the same situation, and that includes not only the temptation, but also all the experiences in their past, and their inherited tendencies, which all come into play in regards to how a person responds to temptation.
A man of God prophesied over me years ago that I will help a lot of poor people, and I count soldiers among those poor. Any kind of soldier – not just Canadian, American, and British. God has not called me to be a politician. He has called me to be a fisher of men, and no matter what cause they are fighting for, if God tells me to pray for a soldier's healing, I want to obey. I want them to be healed of their missing limbs and eyes and other parts, and healed of their scars, and healed of their trauma, because they are my fellow human beings, and we all need God's forgiveness.
In that movie I watched, the young man was recruited by what he thought were the good guys, who said that they were giving him the opportunity to make a difference in the war on terror. It turned out, though, that the people he was working for were the terrorists, and they turned over a woman whom they had tricked and used in their schemes to some thugs who murdered her. The young veteran went off on a rampage and killed a lot of hoodlums, until he was shot dead by a young boy who ran with the gang. The kid was the younger brother of one of his friends, and the soldier had risked his life trying to get the kid out of the gang, for his friend's sake.
Well, bummer. What a way for a movie to end, eh? But that's reality, as far as most people know it. From the Bible's perspective, though, we can take it further than what the movie shows. If this had been real, all those people who the soldier killed and the soldier himself ended up together in Hell, where they would suffer in torments forever. He would have dropped down into Hell to land right next to the souls whom he had killed in the previous half hour, and all the other bad guys that he knocked off in his lifetime, as well as some bystanders who had not accepted redemption through Jesus Christ. This is much more grim than what the movie showed.
I cried at the beginning of the movie when it showed the soldier suffering from self-hatred, and I cried at the end when it showed the futility of his life. He took out some bad guys, but others were rising up to take their place. I felt like I wanted to tell soldiers that there is hope. It's in Jesus Christ. A person can be a soldier and still go to Heaven, if they turn away from their sins and turn to Him.
When the soldiers asked John the Immerser what they should do, I think that they asked the question indignantly. From what he was saying about righteousness, it didn't seem like a person could be in the army and also be a follower of righteousness. John didn't tell them to quit their jobs. He just told them to do violence to no man, nor to accuse any falsely, and to be content with their wages. In other words, to not abuse their priviliges. A godly soldier does not take advantage of having the power to rob people or beat them up for his own gratification, or get them put in prison or killed through false accusation. Robbing would include not robbing people of their dignity, such as through rape. Soldiers are supposed to just do their job.
Some soldiers have died on the battlefield, with the glory of God shining in their faces while seeing visions of angels, because they gave their hearts to Jesus and they were ready to die, whether in war or in peace time. There is always hope, wherever Jesus is.
That's the thing about most movies; they leave Jesus out of the equation. They do not breed a consciousness of God. They tend towards grooming people to be self–reliant. Though we can be grateful for God's gifts to us, and confident of their merit, we should always recognize that our talents have their limits, but God does not. He can take us beyond what we can do for ourselves and others. He can set things up, so that help is there when it is needed. He can also over–rule nature. Even the Christian movies don't portray how God can restore missing limbs.
Which brings me around to an article that I came across on the Internet, about a Catholic girl who lost her leg and it was miraculously restored. The conclusion was that Catholicism is the one true religion because this has never happened in any other church. That's a lot of hokum. The restoring of missing limbs was almost common at Azusa Street in Los Angeles at the turn of the 20th century when God poured out His Spirit on that church, which was a Pentecostal church.
There was also a Church of England curate who had lost his feet and had them restored. Smith Wigglesworth, a Pentecostal preacher, advised him to seek God for their restoration and to step out in faith. So, the curate went to a shoe store and asked for a pair of shoes, in the size that he used to wear. The salesman brought him the shoes, though he was perplexed why a man with no feet would want them. The curate inserted his wooden pegs in the shoes and the flesh grew, covering the pegs. He received the restoration of his feet and legs, and all without any help from the Catholic church.
So, I end with this month's newsletter with the encouragement that God is mighty to save. [Proverbs 23:11] There is not any situation in life where God cannot shine His light and bring hope, if a person opens their heart and mind to Him.
Copyright © 2014, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on June 29, 2014
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.