The Enemy Camp Why loving your enemies is the missing link of true Christianity By
Dr. Robert W. Christensen
Frank Harritt, MBA
“You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” -
For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (TNIV, Matthew 6:14-15)
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Greatest Lesson of All
Lesson One: The Great Enemy, Satan
Lesson Two: The Great Confession, Our Starting Point
Lesson Three: The Great Depression, Our Enemies in Business
Lesson Four: The Great Wars, Our Enemies in Times of War
Lesson Five: The Great Debate, Our Enemies in Government
Lesson Six: The Great Conflict, Our Enemies in Our Families
Lesson Seven: The Great Divide, Catholics vs Protestants, Republicans vs Democrats
Lesson Eight: The Great Question
Post Script by Dr. Bob Christensen
A New Path Is Developing
Testimonies by the Authors
A Pard To Ride The River With
A Poem by Jack Blease
The Lord’s Prayer
Other Books by the Author
First of all, we would like to dedicate this book to our Lord Jesus Christ, who has not only paved the way to our having a covenant relationship with our heavenly Father but has shown us by His Word that we can live in a troubled and difficult world with perfect peace and that we can use our lives to touch the world with His Love.
We would each also like to dedicate this to all of our family members who may be close or far and especially to those friends who have stood with us in good times and bad. To all, we are most indebted, and this thanks includes even our worst enemies, those who largely inspired us to write this book.
Then we would like to also dedicate this work to all who are Christians. Some may be walking through some perilous moments in their own lives while others are in the valley of peace. To all, there will be insights and lessons to be learned which this book, and the Holy Spirit will bring these lessons to life and to light.
The Word of God makes it very clear there is little room for misunderstanding or lack of caring and friendship either in our natural families or in the body of Christ. Yet, we know there is so much of all of that in this world today. If any part of that alienation is present our hearts for others in our family or in Christ’s body, we feel it is more than time to let the Word and teaching of our dear Lord make the correction necessary.
In the world there may be many being used by the devil to steal our Christian testimony and walk with the Lord. It is in those most trying moments and circumstances where it will require much patience and the love of the Lord to allow us to walk in peace.
Finally, we dedicate this book to all who are walking through difficult circumstances and to all people who truly wish to walk the Christian walk in a more complete way.
By Lenaya Casados
At one time or another, the thought, “I hate you” has crossed our minds. We are all human, and as much as we would like to use that as an excuse, it’s not.
In the Bible, a book we are all familiar with to some extent, tells us Jesus himself tried to teach the lesson: love they neighbor. But how far does that go?
Dr. Bob Christensen, a respected doctor, minister, husband, father, and friend (just to name a few titles) said one thing has come to his attention recently; it is his belief that, at age 89, he has one more vital lesson to fully learn, and to teach.
In this book, “The Enemy Camp”, Dr. Christensen discusses different views, including Biblical, World and a Personal view of events in history. He visits the past taking us through the depression, wars, conflicts in government and even a most sensitive area we all dread to confront: family. Referencing the Book of Luke in the Parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), he helps us understand that we are all overlooking big piece of the puzzle to becoming true Christians.
Dr. Christensen guides us through the meaning behind two quotes, by sharing his experiences and what he has learned and witnessed through the years.
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself” Matthew 5:43, Mark 12:31, Romans 13:9, Leviticus 19:18 (the list goes on and on).
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:43
As you read The Enemy Camp, dare to see parallels in your own life, in your own family, in the current events. Satan is always waiting for the opportune moment to feed on anger and any waver in faith, leading to hatred in many, if not most, of our lives.
:25: On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
:26: “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
:27: He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself.”
:28: “You have answered correctly, “Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Luke 10:25-28 NIV
As perhaps the last book of my 24-book career, and perhaps the most significant, I want to first thank Jesus Christ for the inspiration that brought the idea for this book to Frank Harritt, who then saw the expression of the idea in his and my own life's experiences, and Lenaya Casados, my invaluable assistant, and of course Lynne, my super wife. But as this book is a culmination of my life's Christian progression and insight, I must also express a sincere thanks to all those who have helped shape that progression: my entire family; Capt. Dale Black; my military brothers and sisters; all of my pastors; my fellow surgeons, physicians, and hospital administrators; all of my former patients; all of my friends AND enemies, including my opponents at the FDA; all of my former employees; and all of my publishers --- without you, this work would not have been possible. It has been a long life with any interesting moments all the way from my start as a cowboy from Julian, California, and cattle drives to having bioengineering laboratories at two universities named after me. So, now, let's talk about some things I have learned.
Introduction: The Greatest Lesson of All
According to Billy Graham, in his latest book, The Reason for My Hope: Salvation, he says that, “just because people claim to be Christian does not necessarily mean they are Christian” and that “there is great confusion today in what it means to be Christian”. In a nutshell, in our social-media culture where self-gratification is king, people have lost sight of what Christianity is --- living your life with Jesus Christ and His Way at the center, not as an add-on as we pursue our own health, wealth, power, etc.; followers of Christ in the early church were known as followers of “the Way”. Being able to love our enemies is not only a sign that we follow the commands of Jesus, it is a “step” that most Christians I have known, myself included, over nearly a century of living have not taken, hence the motivation for writing this book; loving your enemies is a sign of Christian maturity, yet in many ways in today’s culture it remains “the missing link” of most so-called Christian lives. In other words, are we truly Disciples of Christ if we go to church, say our prayers, and do charity work for the poor but still hate our enemies at work, at home, and at war? This book will attempt to deal with this difficult but critical question through the microscope of my own life’s many and varied experiences in the hope, dear reader, that you will gain some benefit.
It was only after a recent insight --- having written twenty-three Christian-themed books --- that I more fully understood that what was missing in my own life was also missing in the lives of many of my Christian friends --- and enemies! As I traced this “common thread” of my life’s experience as a father, husband, oral surgeon, minister, author, and friend, I humbly realized that Jesus wanted me to take this final step in a direct and open way --- as perhaps my final “stepping stone” to Christian maturity and in my relationship with Him. So as you read through these pages of The Enemy Camp, you can be assured that I have been traveling the same road to heaven as you. It is not an easy road.
Each of our eight chapters serves to do one simple thing --- to help us better serve God here on Earth --- by allowing us to love our most bitter and despised enemies in the way that Christ did from the Cross and transform our hearts to become more like His. And like the Father of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), He is waiting for us with open arms. After all, in the end, God is Love (1 John 4:8).
Each of the eight lessons I’ve learned over the years has helped me put together a deeper understanding and a more profound appreciation of the simplicities and complexities of The Great Commandment (Matt 22:34-40); in practical terms, you could say something like “all Biblical roads lead to The Great Commandment.” I know they have for me. All of the “moving parts” of the Bible are joined together in The Great Commandment, but that doesn’t mean that following The Great Commandment is easy. So let’s look at how the Bible explains the importance of this command.
Once Jesus was approached by a religious lawyer who wanted him to separate the two basic thrusts of the Gospel (Mt 22:34-40). He challenged Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Notice that this lawyer was looking for one commandment. If the two could be separated, this would have been the time to do it. This was Jesus’ opportunity to say once and for all what the point of Jewish religion was.
The first part of Jesus’ response was expected. “‘Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” Most people have a tendency to want to stop here. We hear many sermons that concentrate on this one commandment. But Jesus did not stop here. No, Jesus says you can’t reduce the gospel to just “me and God.” There is a second commandment and it is like the first: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Then Jesus goes on to make what must be one of the most overlooked statements in Scripture: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Under these two categories falls everything that was taught by Moses and the prophets, and everything that Jesus taught, and everything that was taught by his disciples. Boiling it all down to its raw essence, what God wants is for us to love him and love our neighbor. Period.
And who is our neighbor? In the first accounting, Jesus does not go into depth about that definition, but He does in the Book of Luke in the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So, too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
To really understand this parable or any parable --- and what it means to love our enemies --- we have to search for the deeper meaning, not simply the surface meaning. Understand that the Samaritans were the hated enemies of the Jews in every way and considered “trash”. Jews didn’t see the Samaritans as their neighbors. Samaritans were half-breeds, the scum of the earth, outcasts. The Jews believed that if a Jewish person’s shadow happened to touch a Samaritan’s shadow, it would contaminate the Jew. If a Samaritan woman entered a Jewish village, the entire village became unclean. Notice how Jesus made the Samaritan --- the hated enemy --- the hero of the story for the way he “loved his distressed neighbor” --- whom he didn’t even know. So Jesus isn’t telling the Jewish audience to “love the Samaritan” for how he helped his “neighbor” --- but He is saying that we are all “neighbors” and need to be like the Samaritan with kindness and charity for all, even our enemies. To reinforce that "love your neighbor" applies to everyone, Jesus extended the rule of love in His Sermon On The Mount:
"There is a saying, 'Love your friends and hate your enemies.' But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (TLB, Matthew 5:43-48)
Like the unselfish Samaritan man of Jesus' parable, we are called to extend our love and concern to all persons everywhere, as our neighbors. We should not exclude anyone or any group because of social status, a supposed character fault, religious difference, opposing views, racial difference, ethnic difference, citizenship difference, etc. Jesus calls us to remember that we are all God's children. Just as He loves all His people and is willing to forgive their sins, we must be willing to forgive others who have done wrong to us:
For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (TNIV, Matthew 6:14-15) This is part of the Our Father prayer that so many Christians, me included, say on a daily basis, but how many of us actually practice it?
Anger can consume us with hatred and block out the love of God. Whether between parent and child, spouses, co-workers, friends, or nations, expressions of anger divide us and drive us toward open hostility. More often than not, our angry feelings are based on a misinterpretation of what someone said or did. A grudge clouds our judgment and may lead us to an act of revenge that can never be undone. Of course, there can be exceptions where our anger is sometimes justified, but these occasions are rare.
The Old Testament law specified equal revenge for equal wrong: "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" (Exodus 21:23-25, Leviticus 24:19-20.) But this rule was too harsh for the new age of the Kingdom of God. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said the right thing to do is to take no revenge at all.
Again, isn’t it amazing to see how “all the many parables and lessons” in the Bible lead us back to The Great Commandment, The Greatest Lesson of All? Although many parts of the Bible seem mysterious, in the end all words in the Bible --- all 774, 746 of them --- tie together in a nice neat package that tells us to love God first and our neighbors as ourselves, including our enemies. Loving our enemies isn’t easy, nor is forgiveness when there has been a miscarriage of justice or a cruel act of hatred --- wherein the ultimate source of the evil is Satan --- but it is what Jesus calls us to do.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have a close relationship with a grandfather, I suspect he has passed along his life lessons for your benefit, not his. This is what we would like this book to represent, a book of grandfatherly advice to pass along to the next generation of Christians and Non-Christians alike --- yes, including our enemies!
A Surgeon’s View from Age 90
All of our eight lessons serve to do one simple thing --- bring us closer to God, allowing us to admit our own failures and weakness and to think and act as much as we can like Christ. Our heavenly Father is much like the Father of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). He is waiting for us with open arms.
After nearly 90 years on Earth, you’d think I’d have learned a thing or two, and I have; if you know of Jesus’ parable, The Prodigal Son, then you can understand my life as well, as The Prodigal Son, Part 2; instead of the son wasting his dad’s fortune, this time it was the father that made a mistake with his children, some of whom readily accepted him back upon his sincere repentance and some of whom --- like the brother of the Prodigal Son --- refused to. Certainly there is a lesson here for all of us.
What is really interesting about my journey is how asymmetric it has been, and yet all of the roads I’ve taken now seem to connect under a Christian theme that is well-known but seldom talked about --- our enemies. My life has been and the lives of millions of others have been or are presently consumed with a burning desire to crush our enemies, to be “instruments of justice for God.” Actually, God doesn’t really need our help, and He knows exactly how much we can be pre-occupied with seeking revenge due to the influence of Satan; He knows personally how difficult it is to love those who seek to destroy and persecute us.
As I’ve looked back in my own life, from the very beginning and going all the way through my experiences as a child in California to dental school to my military service and my battles with the FDA, the idea of “loving my enemies” has intrigued me and been a huge challenge as well. Like most Christians, I’ve had more than my share of detractors and opponents over the years and still do today. This book is not designed to change our enemies; it’s designed to change us and the way we think about them --- just as Christ commanded.
You’re going to likely be amazed at the amount of opposition I’ve faced over the years as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a surgeon that has acquired --- in spite of my enemies --- quite a range of professional accolades as well as surgical innovations that have been the gold standard of TMJ surgery at the Mayo Clinic for the past 25 years and across the nation for some 53 years. Nonetheless, I accept that God has allowed each and every opponent in my path for a reason --- His reason.
My hope with this book --- the 24th of my writing career and the second for my colleague, Mr. Harritt -– is that it will in some way inspire you, dear reader, to come away with a deeper and more personal understanding of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as they are united in Jesus Christ, our beacon of hope for all eternity. Human love ebbs and flows like the tide of the ocean, but the love of Christ is forever, regardless of your faith or life experience to date. Though enemies and wars come and go, Christ will always be our light, and we Christians in turn can be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16): “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”The following verse is found in Isaiah 60:1 and has a special meaning for my life. “Arise, Shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.”
This verse was given to me just a few months after I was born again in 1983 as I was learning to fly Citation II jet aircraft. It was an evening in which God’s Shekinah glory had come into my bedroom and shined on me and actually kept me pinned, immoveable, upon my bed, as incredible as it sounds. It was a life changing moment just as it was for St. Paul on the road to Damascus when the same Shekinah glory of God shined on him and knocked him from his horse; I don’t mean to compare myself or my mission to St. Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of Christianity, but rather to mention him only in the sense that we both experienced a singular and dramatic turning point to Christ in our lives.
As you read various parts of my life’s story, you will realize I was given many opportunities to react either correctly or incorrectly. I wish I could say I always did what was best, but I likely did not. Life for all of us is not only a challenge but even more an opportunity to live it as Jesus would. Frank Harritt, Lenaya Casados and I have brought this book forward for you, our reader so that you can review these lessons with your own lives to see if there is something you might benefit from for the Christian walk you are presently on.
In the Beginning
Jesus in Matthew 5:43 teaches us about loving your enemies. That is not a natural instinct for most people. We want to do bad things to our enemies. After all, they have done bad things to us. In this book we will talk about a lifetime of “interesting moments” for this 90 year old surgeon and how he was given to respond. Perhaps, though not always with the total wisdom of God, he was tested, and he learned to walk with the Lord. In the following Bible story of David and King Saul, we learn some very important lessons, especially in our treatment of those we are in covenant with.
In Matthew 5:43-48 we see the following which Jesus spoke: You have heard that it has been said; Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what rewards have you? Do not even the publicans do the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the publicans do so? Be you therefore perfect, even as your father who is in heaven is perfect.
As we ponder those scriptures, it makes us think of times when we were very negligent in that very area. This is probably one of the most difficult things for myself and millions of other Christians to overcome as a follower of Jesus and as one who has been called to minister in some fashion to a hurting world. I at times think of how David had to love and forgive King Saul, who was so vexed with anger that he could only throw javelins at David and instruct his army to kill him.
Here, David as a young man had not only saved Saul and all of Israel from the Philistine giant, Goliath, but continued to do him no harm all the way through Saul’s life. Most of us would have found David’s patience in this ongoing battle with Saul something we could not have performed. David had multiple opportunities to kill Saul, but he always refused. He knew that Saul had been God’s anointed, plus the fact he was the father of Jonathan, who David had made covenant with. You cannot attack those who you are in covenant with. That principle is one which I teach on very frequently in regards to our marriage covenants. I explain that those in-laws as parents of your spouse are also covenanted to you, and you should not attack them as if they were the enemy.
When Jonathan made covenant with David, he set up a whole family of people in covenant with each other. Not only that, but David was also an Israelite and enjoyed the covenant God had made with his people from the time of Abraham. David was called by God to go after the Amalekites who had just raided his camp at Ziklag when he and his small army were off fighting another battle. The enemy had pillaged David’s camp and captured the wives and children. David and his army were in serious distress over what had happened to their wives and children. David sought God, and the Lord directed him to go after the enemy, and he would destroy the enemy and recover all. When God calls you to battle, He can show you how to be victorious, too. He even can protect those things which are most important to you and help reconcile and protect family members who might not be living in closeness to the Lord.
In David’s case, he not only destroyed the enemy but he recovered the wives and children that had been captured and all of the loot of the enemy. He then brought the wealth back to Ziklag and distributed it to all of the children of Israel. That was part of the covenant he was bound to by God’s joining them all together.
Later, when the Philistines fought against the Israelites, Jonathan and Saul and two more sons of Saul were killed in battle. When David learned of Saul and Jonathan’s deaths, he grieved and would not let any Israelite speak lowly of Saul or Jonathan. After all, they were all covenanted together by God. That is exactly where we must be in our marriages. Do not speak against your covenant spouse or against the kinsmen. God will hold you accountable --- especially if you consider them to be “your enemies”.
Saul spent too much time chasing and attempting to harm David, the very one who had helped preserve his kingdom from the time of Goliath and the very one Jonathan was protecting over the timespan. Saul had become so bitter when the anointing fell away from his kingdom and when Samuel had let him know that David had been selected to be king. For everything, there is a time and a season.
There are people I have known very well that when some of life’s obstacles come into their own lives, the bitterness and frustration and rejection never departs from their existence, thus causing much harm to them and all who are around them. I believe this is the very message and theme of this book. Today with so much acrimony occurring because of separation and divorce in our marriages and families, it allows a massive entrance for Satan, thus causing sometimes irreparable harm to the children and later generations.
It is my very strong feeling that our churches and Christian counselors need to be taking much stronger positions, first on the power of the marriage covenant, but then on the love for all family members, whether separated or not.
Let Me Tell You My Story
Perhaps my story is not so much different from yours, dear reader, but we will use it to show how the enemy camp is always present to come against any who are destined to walk out a life which might eventually be dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Calling.
I was born Robert Wayne Brophy to a loving, married couple in New York City (hereinafter NYC). My mother, Eva, was a recent graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers’ College and her husband, Dr. Charles J. Brophy, was a graduate of the New York Dental College and practiced with his brother, Harold, on Central Park South in Manhattan. Mother before her marriage was Eva Sutherland Hart and had come to NYC from Lawton, OK, to attend college.
Their first child was Charles Warren, who was born 18 months before me, in April of 1923. Shirley Adele, younger sister, was born 18 months after me. That was our family. Perhaps the first major attack on our family occurred in August, 1927, when my father was attacked by a staphylococcus infection on his face and died 4 days later. It was an awful attack for which my mother had to somehow survive.
After Dad’s untimely death, she moved with us three very young children to San Diego to live with her father, Fred Sutherland. Three years later Fred suffered an acute appendicitis and promptly died. You see, these were the years before the innovation of any antibiotics, so when an infection hit a person, too often it might cause death.
Mother met and a year later married Lee Christensen of San Diego, so we all took the name Christensen and moved away from the Brophy brand. Lee was a general contractor who later became a cattle rancher during those years of the Great Depression. Our ranch was in the area of Julian, California, which was in the elevated back country of San Diego County. We children grew up in those years, and then, as WWII started, we children all entered into some branch of military service; as for myself, I entered the Navy.
After the War we all gained entrance into our respective professions of surgery, engineering or nursing. Chuck became a civil engineer, Shirley a nurse and I went into dentistry, specializing in oral and maxillofacial surgery. We will next fast forward to just after the Korean War as I came out of service in the Navy as a surgeon stationed with the U.S. Marines. Now, let’s get back to the theme of this book.
The Great Enemy, Satan
The Biblical View
The Bible says that Satan is a beautiful and powerful fallen angel, who would like to do nothing more than take away the joy of Christians through deception and lead people into rebellion against God. Although Satan is ultimately destined for the Lake of Fire, biblical prophecy indicates that he will deceive entire nations and kingdoms before he is relegated to eternal damnation along with the other fallen angels he led into rebellion against God. When Satan was cast out of heaven, one-third of the angels in heaven followed him to Earth as revealed in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 12:3-4, 7-12).
Satan is mentioned in the Gospels twenty-nine times. And in twenty-five of those references, Jesus is the one talking about Satan. Jesus’ most basic description of Satan is found in John 8:44: He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
When Satan is discussed in the New Testament, he is identified by three titles. These three titles describe his power on earth and his influence in the world:
1. Ruler of the world – Jesus refers to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). This means that he can use the elements of society, culture, and government to achieve his evil ends in this world. That doesn’t mean that every aspect of society or culture is evil. And it doesn’t mean that Satan has complete control of every politician or governmental bureaucrat. But it does mean that Satan can use and manipulate the world’s system.
2. God of this world – Paul refers to Satan as “the god of this world” who “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan sets himself up as a false god to many. His power over religion and the ability to promote false religions keeps people from knowing the true gospel.
3. Prince of the air – Paul reminds Christians that they were dead in their trespasses and since in which they “formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.” Satan is the prince of the air and thus controls the thoughts of those in the world system. The Bible says: “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). So we should not be surprised that we find ourselves in the midst of spiritual warfare.
Jesus said that those hear the word of God and observe it are blessed. It is through knowing the Word of God that we know what God wants and know when Satan is attempted to deceive us. The idea that Christians have already defeated Satan and that we will never be deceived into sin because we have merely claimed some confession of belief is a modern-day problem in the churches. If we were not susceptible to the schemes of the devil, scripture would not tell us to put on the armor of God, which includes the "sword of the Spirit" (i.e., the word of God). James tells us to resist the devil and he will flee, and Peter tells us to be sober and alert to the devil. So, even though Jesus has overcome the works of the devil, it is the Christian's responsibility to resist him until he is thrown into the Lake of Fire at the end of time.
According to recent Barna research, the majority of Christians today (59%) do NOT believer Satan is real, that he is only a symbol of evil. Even our religious leaders seldom talk about the devil --- as noted in a recent speech by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia:
Reflecting on the hesitancy of religious leaders to speak about Satan, Archbishop Chaput said, “It is very odd that in the wake of the bloodiest century in history – a century when tens of millions of human beings were shot, starved, gassed and incinerated with superhuman ingenuity – even many religious leaders are embarrassed to talk about the devil.”
Archbishop Chaput continued:
“Lucifer has cast the strong though invisible net of illusion upon us. He makes one love the passing moment above eternity, uncertainty above truth. He persuades us that we can only love creatures by making Gods of them. He lulls us to sleep (and he interprets our dreams); he makes us work. Then does the spirit of man brood over stagnant waters. Not the least of the devil's victories is to have convinced artists and poets that he is their necessary, inevitable collaborator and the guardian of their greatness. Grant him that, and soon you will grant him that Christianity is un-practicable. Thus does he reign in this world.”
The archbishop added: “If we do not believe in the devil, sooner or later we will not believe in God.” The devil is “the first author of pride and rebellion, and the great seducer of man. Without him the Incarnation and Redemption do not make sense, and the cross is meaningless. Satan is real. There is no way around this simple truth.”
In short, according to recent research and the
input of high-level clergy, our country largely believes that Satan is simply a
symbol of evil, not a real being. Our
premise in The Enemy Camp is that Satan is very much real and very much
active in our world today; far from being merely “a symbol of evil”, he is the
SOURCE of evil as declared by Jesus Christ. In other words, though we have many enemies in our respective enemy
camps throughout life --- family, co-workers, Taliban, etc. --- Satan is always
the captain of The Enemy
Camp. To ignore Satan is to court danger, in this life and even more importantly, for eternity.
In order to properly understand our enemies, we need to begin with the source of our enemies --- of all evil --- Satan. Satan is humanity’s public enemy #1, and he will do everything he can to cause us conflict and distraction from God and God’s ways. Those thoughts you’ve been harboring about crushing your enemies? Yep, they’re from Satan. Since God tells us to love our enemies but Satan tells us to destroy them, you can gauge which camp you’re in today by gauging your present thoughts.
My Personal View
In this book, The Enemy Camp, we will be looking back over some of the attacks where the enemy was hell bent on doing me in. As we start, it was an interesting time in my younger life as I had finished dental school at New York University (NYU), gotten married, started my family, finished my post graduate training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and had finished my military service as a Navy surgeon during the Korean War.
It was now some 8 years later and the year was 1960. I had started my private surgery practice in Pasadena, California and was accomplishing a number of rather spectacular and interesting surgeries. During the 1950s, I was being asked to treat quite a number of patients with rather serious temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, ranging from fractures of the bones comprising the TMJ as well as fractures of other facial bones and fractures of the lower jaw. There were also many patients where serious degeneration or even fusion of the temporomandibular joint was occurring which would prevent the patient from being able to move his or her jaw. For many of the problems I was seeing and treating, the treatment had been around since way before WWI and maybe back into the 1800s. There had not been the innovation needed in this facet of surgery especially for the early arthritic or degenerative joint problems seen in the temporomandibular joint.
One of the problems that I and other surgeons of the period were having is that when a person had a TMJ problem and let’s say the disc which normally separates the head of the lower jaw, known as the condyle, and the skull base which is the upper articulating bone of the TMJ when that disc either gets displaced or becomes destroyed by the degenerative process, then it needs to be removed. The problem comes from the fact that when a surgeon removes the disc then the two bone surfaces will contact each other, and eventually will fuse together.
There just needed to be a better way of treating these problems and yet no one had found the solution. It was later in 1960 when a local physician in Pasadena referred me a young Catholic Sister by the name of Sister Lucille. Her story was a bit unusual, but not that unusual to any of us who were specializing in my surgical specialty. Her profession in her Dominican Order was that of a teacher.
Let me explain why I am telling this story in this chapter, on the Great Enemy, Satan, and how we are to act when those attacks become harmful and serious. As you witness this story unfold, you will be able to see how Satan steps in quietly but with great force.
Sister Lucille was in her early 30s and had some degenerative disease in her left TMJ which had started some 8 years earlier. She had been referred to an orthopedic surgeon in the Bakersfield area of California. After ordering some radiographs of her TMJs, he determined that the meniscus, or disc, was deteriorating and perforated. The solution he felt was to remove the disc, and that is what he did. For a few months her pain was relieved, but then the pain began to return. Within a year the evidence was pointing to the fact that her left TMJ was beginning to fuse to her skull case. This fact made eating, opening her jaw, and talking very difficult and painful.
By the time four years had elapsed, her left jaw joint was fused to the skull base and eating became very difficult. Talking was also very difficult for this 3rd grade teacher in a Catholic elementary school in Alhambra. So, again she sought the advice of the orthopedic surgeon she had seen before. He now advised the only thing available at that moment in time. Since the top of the natural condyle was fused to the skull base, he would have to resect the entire ball of the natural condyle, and thus he did.
It was about four years later that she was referred to me --- with now the neck of the resected condyle fused to the skull base. But now what, Lord? Her problem now had no known surgical treatment that would give any more than a 20% chance of success, even for a short period of time. I had no question that I could go in and resect more bone, but that would do no more good than the treatment the other surgeon had offered her.
I suspected with Sister Lucille and I and her whole order of Dominican Sisters of Alhambra all praying, something good was about to happen. As a little background, St. Luke Hospital was a moderate sized Catholic hospital residing in Altadena, California. It was, I believe, a Level I Trauma Center hospital with about 200 beds. There were all of the specialties of medicine and surgery represented in that hospital, and I was one of 8 oral and maxillofacial surgeons on the regular staff. I got on the surgical staff at the end of 1952 when I returned from my duty in the U.S. Navy as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in charge of that department at the US Marine Corps (USMC) base in San Diego. I had performed all of this type of maxillofacial surgery which might be required on all Marines entering the Marine Corps for the Korean War during that time. There were about 18,000 inductees coming in every 13 weeks, so over those 24 months I treated many Marines for all sorts of problems, from routine or full mouth dental extractions to tumors, fractures, or you name it. It was an excellent experience for this young Navy Lieutenant.
Now, back to St. Luke Hospital and Sister Lucille. That story develops in 1960, but as I mentioned, I first entered the Surgical Department at St. Luke in the Fall of 1952. The Sisters who administered and were the nursing staff at St. Luke took a liking to this young ex-Navy surgeon, and I was referred many interesting patients for a variety of trauma and tumor surgeries. At times I would be operating with some other specialty surgeons such as Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT), general surgery or orthopedic surgery as my assisting surgeon. This mentoring played a large part in my getting involved in many complicated surgeries, occasionally requiring me to perform such things as tracheotomies, etc. I was performing 95% of the oral and maxillofacial surgeries being performed in St. Luke between the years 1952 and approximately 1970. I was asked to be Vice-Chairman of the Tumor Board which met weekly to review all sorts of pathologies of the human body. When the Tumor Board Chairman, a general surgeon, was on vacation or had to be absent, I was asked to lead the meetings, which I enjoyed. It also gave me a close relationship with many other surgeons which broadened my knowledge of other surgical diseases. I was also appointed chairman of the oral and maxillofacial surgery subsection at St. Luke Hospital for several years running.
So here we are in the latter part of 1960 and Sister Lucille has been referred to me. What can I really do to help this young, teaching Sister? After getting the necessary x-ray imaging and having reviewed her history and examined her, I knew that she had a fusion of the amputated neck of the left temporomandibular joint (TMJ) condyle to the skull base. It is known medically as either a bony ankylosis or a fibrous ankylosis. In her case it was a bony ankylosis of the neck to a point in the forward margin of the joint bony surface of the skull base.
Over the previous 8 years I had the opportunity to perform many surgeries on the TMJs of patients who had been in various traumas like motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). I had always attempted to repair broken or damaged jaws by placing the fractured and often displaced condyle back into its normal socket at the skull base and then usually plate the fragmented parts to allow healing. In a few cases I might have a patient with a unilateral or bilateral fusion of the joint, and in that case I would go in and resect the bone which was bridging the normal joint space and then hope to get the jaw mobile, so the patient could eat and talk normally. I had published such an article in one of the oral and maxillofacial surgery publications in 1955. It was a very serious type of surgery at that period of time. There were other TMJ surgery cases that I published articles on in the surgery publications in those pre-1960 years.
But now, what can I do to help this very pleasant and smart young Catholic Sister whose left TMJ is fused to her skull base? It was near Christmas in 1960 when I had left my Pasadena surgery office to travel north toward Santa Barbara for some reason which I can’t now remember. All of a sudden, a thought passed through my brain as to what I might do to possibly afford a real solution to Sister’s jaw problem. The thought that came to me flashed into my brain as if it were on a crystal clear TV screen; I knew to just go back into the joint and resect more bone was not going to offer her any permanent chance of success. But, now, a new thought had entered my brain. As the years have passed, I am even more convinced the Lord had directed my steps and path. The solution that eventually came from that vision has, over the many decades since, gone unchanged and has become the gold standard by which virtually TMJ issues are resolved, including those at the Mayo Clinic.
I had in my possession at that time a few human skulls which I had either purchased from some bone salesman or the ones which had been given to me in gratitude by the Mayor of Guaymas, Mexico, after I had helped some of the local surgeons resolve a particular TMJ case. In that case, I had been given paperwork for the grave digger to dig me up a skull from a local grave in a State cemetary, which he did. The skull I was given was that of a man with a bit of the eyebrows and mustache still attached! But that’s a whole different story as I was attempting to bring it across the Tijuana border in my luggage. If they had examined that particular bag, I might still be in a prison in Tijuana.
Anyway, the plan which I suspect God’s Holy Spirit had given me that December day of 1960, as I was driving north, was a rather simple one, but oh so excellent. If I were to take my 10 skulls and prepare a wax pattern of an actual implant to line the skull base in the joint area, and then have a local dental laboratory cast the pattern in a Cobalt-Chrome metal, then just perhaps I could operate on Sister Lucille and make one of those metal implants fit properly against her skull base. That would in effect create a permanent barrier to allow those two bone surfaces to function normally against the metal implant surface. Would that possibly work? Could I make one of those ten patterns fit her skull? Would she allow me to perform such a surgery? Could one small device perform such a miracle?
This is where the subject of this book begins to take feet. I had been raised in no particular church back during the 1930s, but later during my Navy days during WWII I had gotten married to Ann Forsyth, who lived in Scarsdale, NY, while I was residing in Pelham, NY. That was at a time when I was nearing graduation from the NYU Dental College. Ann was a Catholic, and during our three years of courtship I became a convert to Catholicism.
But now back to what happened in Sister Lucille’s situation:
As I began to prepare to fabricate the necessary 10 left “partial joint implants”--- my working name that I used to describe the cobalt-chrome dental implant idea --- to use in Sister’s surgery, I also was mentally preparing Sister and her Superiors in her Dominican Order for what I was planning to do surgically. Everyone was accepting what I was planning as they felt I must truly be on to a new way to correct her “fusion” problem. We will speak much more about this subject in this book, as the devil also had a plan that would directly oppose my new medical device.
A few months went by until I was all set to tackle this particular TMJ surgery. I had no doubt that I could successfully perform this surgery, but my only concern was would one of those 10 “stock” implants actually fit Sister’s skull base? Sometime in May of 1961, I scheduled Sister to be admitted to the hospital for TMJ surgery; nothing unusual about that. Dr. C is just doing another open TMJ surgery. After all, he has likely performed over 100 open TMJ surgeries at St Luke Hospital and elsewhere. He is well known for his expertise in this type of surgery….and he will be assisted by his friend and general surgeon colleague, Dr. Doug Donath, who was a past President of the Pasadena Medical Society. They were a great team.
We would not only be doing the TMJ surgery, but we were going to do a surgery to elongate a portion of the vertical portion of her jaw below that joint. I had taken one of my human skulls and had modified the bone exactly as we would be doing in surgery, and I had placed a Partial TMJ implant in that joint as it had been shortened when the earlier surgeon removed the “ball” portion of the jaw. This very accurate model was to be used to depict this surgery in the actual surgical film we were preparing for this very case. After all, this was a first. It had never been done before.
But then I made a strategic mistake. I had not talked to anyone about this new surgery which I had planned --- except the patient and her Superiors; the anesthesiologist for her surgery, Dr. Donath my assisting surgeon; Bob Chapin, my cinematographer; my wife; and that was it. Except, the Friday before the Monday when Sister was to be admitted to St Luke Hospital for an early Tuesday morning surgery, I made a serious mistake.
Two blocks from my Pasadena office was a very well respected general dentist, named Ray Contino, and for some reason I showed him what I had planned. He was amazed. He mentioned he would be attending some cocktail party that very evening down at the USC Dental School where he was part of the faculty. Well, you guessed it. He told other members of the teaching staff what Dr. Christensen was about to do for Sister Lucille. Sometimes, without even trying, you open the door to where the Great Enemy can just waltz right in. I believe that is exactly what I did, and I wasn’t even trying. I had been so careful to not speak about what I was going to do but only to those who I felt needed to know. I made a mistake, unknowingly, when I revealed to my friend what I was up to. He, too, was Catholic, and I felt he would be more than elated. He may well have been, but that small crack in the door soon unleashed a mountain of problems for me.
Monday at about 1:00 PM Sister Lucille was admitted to the hospital as a patient for “TMJ surgery”. It was about 2:30 PM when I received a call from the Sister Administrator at St. Luke Hospital who told me she had just received a phone call from a “dentist” who asked her if they allowed “experimental surgery” in her hospital? Well, the “custard hit the fan.” She was sternly letting me know that I would not be allowed to perform such an “experimental” surgery in St. Luke Hospital. Period. She was speaking about the surgery I would be performing on Sister Lucille.
This was coming after I was definitely given the “idea” of such a surgery by the Lord himself. Now, after some months of preparation and expense and with the “patient” already admitted into the hospital, what could I do? Without me even trying, out of my mouth came the words, “I would like to meet with the Executive Board.” She replied they would be meeting this very evening. WOW! I had so much to yet get accomplished in preparation for the surgery at 7:30 AM tomorrow, but certainly this took precedence. Without an OK from the Executive Board, there would be no surgery tomorrow.
So, at 8:00 PM on that Monday evening I waited outside the Board room at St Luke’s Hospital to be able to present before the Board, “The Sister Lucille Story”.
The Board had brought in from Los Angeles a well-known and respected oral and maxillofacial surgeon who had earned both his MD and his DDS degrees. I was going to be outranked as my degree was the single DDS degree. You would hope that would make little difference, but it could easily tip the scale against me…and Sister.
After my well-orchestrated presentation before the Board, I was asked to sit in the hallway outside the Board Room. It got to be about 10:30 PM before I was brought back into the room. The decision had been made that I would be allowed to perform this one surgery but for any future similar surgeries I would have to have the concurrence of one other surgeon from the hospital’s OMS or Plastic surgery departments.
That certainly was a relief for the moment, but I still had a few loose ends to wrap up, and to let Sister know we were on for surgery in the morning. I suspect this gives the reader a chance to see how an attack of the devil might be used to stop God’s plan. I had reacted properly to the attack but it was not easy for me. I can still remember Sister St. John, a very attractive young Sister, who had been a Navy nurse during WWII and was now director of surgical nursing at St Luke, as she came out of the Board Room she walked over to me and whispered she had “never seen such persecution.”
This surgery was God’s innovation that had been given to me as I drove down the highway some 6 months earlier, but now I was being attacked by the devil himself. The surgery went perfectly with all of the planning which I had done making for a most successful surgery. Dr. Donath and I were most pleased, but as the weeks went by, so were Sister Lucille and her Superiors, because now she could open her jaws fully, eat everything and talk to her students with ease. A year later I was able to perform the same Christensen hemiarthroplasty on her degenerating right temporomandibular joint but this time I decided we should go to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, where I was also a member of the surgery staff.
This Sister Lucille Surgery was truly a story to be told, and through my surgical film it would be shown from Los Angeles to Mayo Clinic and around the U.S. A few years later, TV 13 in Los Angeles filmed another similar surgery that I performed at Hollywood-Presbyterian Hospital, and they made it a prime time, one hour TV program titled Surgery 64 which would be seen by hundreds of thousands of television viewers in the Southern California area. It brought a lot of good publicity to the hospital and the TMJ Research Foundation we had founded in collaboration with Hollywood-Presbyterian Hospital. In the next few years I performed literally hundreds of such surgeries for patients referred from around the world.
You may be thinking, well, the devil did not win. Right you are, but looking back over the lives of the saints of the Bible we can see that many times the devil attacked them more than once or possibly all of their lives. Well, in the case of this very successful surgery, the devil would be attacking me most of my life, and at times it might appear he was winning. If our attitude is correct and we stand against the devil and his works, but we love those who the devil might be using to attack us, we will win. I can tell you, that is a lot easier said than done.
Let me now give you the rest of that early story which speaks to the point I was just making. Over the next 4 years I began to get attacked through a certain well known surgeon, in my specialty, in the Los Angeles area. He has since passed away so I feel free to use his name. He was Professor Marsh Robinson who was head of our surgical specialty at the USC Medical and Dental Colleges as well as head of the Department at the Los Angeles County General Hospital where he and I trained in our specialty, just a couple of years apart.
Marsh took it upon himself to do all in his power to keep any patient from being treated by me using this method of temporomandibular surgery. He would lecture at the National AAMOS (American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons) meetings in Hawaii or in the continental U.S and make statements like, “Dr. Christensen is the laughing stock of the nation” or he would find out who was coming to see me and literally call that person on the phone and tell them I was a charlatan and to not go through with the surgery I was recommending. It was awful and most difficult for me to endure seeing these patients that had no other viable options for a successful surgery.
For the next 3 or 4 years, I was having a most difficult time with these attacks. I knew I was correct in the surgery I was prescribing, but here I was having the “leading” authority in my own geographical region of the U.S. just beating up on me. I continued to endure, never raising much of a voice against Dr. Robinson. But after about 4 years of these attacks, an interesting thing was about to happen. This situation points to the very thing that Jesus said when he said, “Love your enemies.”
It just happened to be that at one of the medical society meetings in the San Fernando Valley the speaker was going to be Dr. Marsh Robinson. I decided to attend although there was much in me that did not want to go to that meeting. It was a dinner meeting, and after the dinner Dr. Robinson gave an excellent presentation on another subject of facial reconstruction, not involved in the TMJ area. After the talk, I found myself going up to the speaker and saying, “Marsh. I’m Bob Christensen who you have been talking so much about.” We shook hands and out of his mouth came, “Bob, how are you feeling?” I had recently recovered from my 2nd lumbar spine surgery. It was a very friendly few seconds, and I never heard him speak a bad word against me again. I had made a friend. We never saw each other anymore and he died in about 1996. I had so wished I had somehow gotten to see him again as I suspect we both would have had some good laughs.
Looking back on this episode many years later, it still makes me shiver to think how easily I could have acted with bitterness. I somehow realized that this was something I must endure patiently and with some humility, and that is what I did. I knew his position in this surgical field was significant, but I also believed that I was correct and he was wrong. Only time and following the Lord could have brought the victory which was to follow.
The Great Confession, Our Starting Point
The Biblical View
Confession is not simply a matter of forgiveness; it is a matter of agreeing with God that I am a sinner and am willing to deal with sin. Jesus has already paid the penalty for all of my sin, and it doesn't have to be paid again. I am already forgiven; confession is just agreeing with God that I am at fault. Confession is a natural consequence of a repentant heart, a heart convicted by the Holy Spirit. All of salvation, including repentance and confession, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. By genuinely confessing our own sinfulness to God, we are ready to begin our journey toward wholeness and healing through Christ. And what is the true purpose of confession? James tells us that confession is not done for forgiveness, but for our own good - for our healing from the effects of sin:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)
So, confession heals us from our rebellion and back into a close relationship with God. If we confess our faith in Christ, yet continue to harbor feelings of anger, hatred, and vengeance toward our various enemies, then our confession is empty. Forgiveness of our enemies and praying for their welfare can be extremely difficult, and it takes a conscious effort. Again, this does not mean that we like the attack, but that we recognize who is the real enemy --- Satan --- and come against it spiritually.
Forgiveness and cleansing from sin is not dependent upon what we have done or whether or not we deserve it, but upon the completed work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. However, this forgiveness is not automatic, but requires belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Confession is important for the Christian since it helps to heal us from the effects of sin and restores our relationship with God.
The Bible tells us a lot about repentance and confession as the two are closely related. Romans 10:9-10 is not about establishing public confession --- or confession with a priest --- as a prerequisite for salvation. Rather, it is asserting that when a Jew embraced Christ and subsequently confessed Him as Lord, knowing that persecution was sure to come, one could rest assured that individual was indeed saved. For us today, the passage is equally true. Those who are saved will confess Christ as Lord because He has already instilled faith in their hearts. As with baptism and all good works, public confession is not the means of salvation; it is the evidence of salvation. Nonetheless, unless we openly confess our sinfulness and our need for Christ, we will not be able to begin our journey to salvation or eternal life.
Repentance and Confession
can be thought of as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to confess
and profess faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your
mind --- repenting --- about who He is and what He has done. Biblical
repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of
Christ to faith in Christ. As all were
called to repent by John the Baptist in the Bible, we today are also called to
repent and confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to express our utter and
complete dependence on Him, regardless of our starting point.
It is critically important to
understand that repentance is not a
work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God
pulls that person to Himself (John 6:44). Acts 5:31 and 11:18 indicate that repentance is something
God gives—it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless
God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a
result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God's
longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans2:4).
While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in good works. In other words, we don’t do good works to get saved, we do good works because we are saved.
It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19-23; James 2:14-26). Repentance, then, is truly necessary for salvation, but the source is God, not us. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.
Clearly things are changing in our world today, and we seldom hear about repentance and confession as a core part of salvation doctrine, even though Jesus himself began His ministry with a call to repentance or “to change one’s mind” about who Christ is: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).
Any way we consider repentance and confession, as they are dealt with in the Bible, we realize that both are essential to creating a true disciple of Christ, not a lip-service or superficial Christian. Repentance is basically about changing our minds about who Christ is and why we need Him to save us from our sins, and confession is our open expression of faith in Christ.
My Personal View
It’s a funny thing about loving our enemies --- it runs counter to our human nature, to want to exact revenge when we’ve been done wrong. It goes against our grain, but then again, when you look at God’s commands, many of them run directly against what “feels right” as a human. But that’s because we’ve been infected with sin, something we can never fully shed in this life; Christ can save us, but the wages of sin is death.
We too can be the enemy --- of many; at work, at home, in recreation, everywhere. But most importantly, we are sinners. If we can’t bring our sinful selves to forgive others, why should we be forgiven? We are as guilty of sin as much as our neighbor, if not more in some cases. We claim we are “Christian”, but we carry around thoughts of anger, hatred and revenge. So the starting point needs to be us and our confession of guilt and a plea for forgiveness from Christ. We must have our own hearts and spirits broken --- wherein we admit our own sinfulness and need for Christ --- before we can begin to love our enemies. Being broken and having a humble spirit then sets the stage for us to forgive our enemies --- as Christ did from the Cross. This is the beginning of true repentance.
This is a chapter and a lesson very dear to my heart. Our confession is truly what leads us down so many paths, some good and some bad. But, truly, it is in speaking the very words of our Lord and Savior and other confessions in the New and Old Testament that brings us through battles and attacks which might otherwise be impossible.
In my growing up days on a cattle ranch in the Julian area of California, our family being led mostly by my step-father, Lee, was always at some task working, especially on the weekends. We never seemed to really get a day off. It was the years of the Great Depression and we were being taught that it was by our might that we progressed. Almost never was there time for church. Mother had been brought up as a Protestant but attended a Catholic girl’s high school and later attended Stephens College in Missouri, which was a two year all woman’s college. From there she went to Columbia University’s Barnard College in NYC where she finished her undergrad schooling receiving her B.S. So Mother had a bit of knowledge about being a Christian. She was an only child of parents who divorced early in their marriage. Both parents remarried again.
Lee, on the other hand, had to work all of his life, especially after his own father had been killed in a railroad accident when Lee was about 12. He had graduated from high school in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but was not given the opportunity of attending college. He was then to be hired in construction by his Uncle Louie. At some point in Lee’s life he became a Christian Scientist but never really attended church. Through Lee’s mentoring, we children learned a lot about building and construction, especially in ranch jobs. We certainly learned the value of hard work as we came through those Great Depression years building the ranching empire which the folks were involved in and which in later years would be their retirement home.
It was a little later in my life when I began to be involved in religion. Near the end of my dental school and WWII Navy service, I had married a very nice young woman in New York. She was a Catholic, so I in time embraced the Catholic religion. After graduating from NYU, we had moved to California where I took up my training in surgery at the Los Angeles County Hospital. Following that time period I was then was recalled into active service in the Navy and stationed with the U.S. Marines in San Diego. In that position I was to head the oral and maxillofacial surgery unit for the next two years.
We started our family at the time I was first graduating from dental school and continued adding to our family over the next dozen years. When I got discharged from the Navy in 1952, we started our surgery practice in Pasadena, California, and over the years we increased our family size to where we had 8 great children. All went well until I began having serious lumbar spine problems which eventually required three open back surgeries.
Unfortunately, one thing led to another and after some 17 years of being
married, we ended in divorce. That was never the plan that our God had for us,
but sometimes we just don’t understand we can stand on a different confession
and we can see victory. Certainly this all occurred because of our choices and
because of the deception and attack of Satan, the Great Enemy --- who does all he can to destroy God’s plan for
marriages and families. Yes, God is
always on the side of the Christian, and God is the ultimate victor over Satan,
but with the gift of free will, Christians can and often do fall victim to
Satan’s attacks and their consequences by making bad choices. However, confession and repentance can bring us back to God’s waiting open arms.
Certainly, that divorce was never a good plan. It would have serious consequences to the whole family, and it was certainly sin that would need to be repented of. Ann and I over the years repented to each other and to God, and we both let the children know we were so sorry for what had happened. That was in 1964. There was never the teaching on the value, power, and permanency of the marriage covenant being taught which might have helped us reconcile after or before divorce. It would be later that God would be showing me the power of the marriage covenant for the Christian.
In 1972, I married Lynne, a young woman who was living in the apartment building that I also lived in which was very close to my surgery office. Over the next 5 years, we had two fine young boys, Andrew and Matthew. Our life took various turns as I was experiencing my third lumbar laminectomy. We chose to leave my Pasadena practice and move down nearer the beach and open another practice. After a couple of years, we decided to hang up the practice and get back to my roots --- which was cattle ranching. We purchased a ranch in the Grants Pass area of Oregon, and we enjoyed that life over the next five years.
But in time we, like many other small cattle ranchers, found there wasn’t enough money in small time cattle ranching, so we moved back to California where I could re-establish a surgery practice. We selected a small Northern California community just a bit north of Ukiah, and there we started all over again.
Over the preceding 12 to 15 years I had personally taken up flying, and over the next several years we purchased several Cessna single engine aircraft. After about 11 years of our marriage, Lynne got the feeling that she wanted out of our marriage. I was devastated. Satan was at work again.
A short period before Lynne took our two boys and left Ukiah, we had purchased a pressurized Cessna P-210 aircraft just about 10 years old but in excellent condition. The year was now 1983 and in the middle of the year, my 84 year-old mother living on the Julian ranch passed away. We flew our P-210 Cessna aircraft from Ukiah down to San Diego to attend the funeral. As we were getting ready to attend Mom’s funeral in San Diego, my back went into spasm, and I was taken to a hospital in San Diego so that only Lynne and the boys would be attending the funeral on behalf of my family.
Following the funeral and with me still in the hospital in San Diego, Lynne returned to Ukiah and with the two boys she promptly moved to Los Angeles to be close to her two parents.
This was one of those “now what Lord” moments, especially for me. I certainly was not wanting a divorce to occur, but in a “no fault” divorce state it makes no difference if one spouse does not want the divorce. It only takes the judge and one spouse. After a couple of months in which my family had gone south, I made a decision that must, in retrospect, have been orchestrated by the Lord. I decided to move from the northern California area back to somewhere in the Los Angeles area in hopes I might be able to be employed and to be close to my two younger boys. The decision would have a devastating effect on our wealth as we would lose everything we had worked for.
My other children along with their mother, Ann, had moved out of state and now were residing in Minnesota. This created even more loneliness for me. But at this very moment, God had a different plan for me and for our young family.
As I flew my P-210 from the Ukiah Airport for the last time down to the Orange County Airport, I was saddened by what had happened. Over a period of a few months before this entire episode occurred, I kept hearing in my spirit that I was to learn to fly jet aircraft. I had been gaining my instrument flying ticket all of that last year we lived in Ukiah, and when Lynne had departed I had taken up my multi-engine flying instruction in a twin engine aircraft and flew around the northern California region. I gained my multi-engine flying certificate quite easily.
On one particular occasion I parked my P-210 aircraft on the field of the John Wayne Airport and securely placed a wheel lock on one of the wheels, which I surmised and had been instructed would curtail any theft of the airplane.
I rented a car and drove up to the Big Bear area, where I had planned to spend a few days just resting. Later, when I came back down to the John Wayne Airport I found my P-210 was gone. I checked with the Sheriff’s Station on the field but they had no knowledge of what happened to my airplane.
To tell this part of the story as shortly as possible, a former friend of mine, where I began my flying lessons in 1967, was the owner of an airplane sales company on the El Monte Airport, and it turned out when Lynne left me in my hospital bed in San Diego at Mother’s funeral, I had asked Glenn Nickerman to fly Lynne and the boys home to Ukiah, but then unbeknownst to me he transported them back to Los Angeles.
Now at this somewhat later point in time at the John Wayne Airport, at Lynne’s request, he removed the wheel of the plane with the wheel lock, then removed the lock and chain and then re-installed the wheel and flew the airplane to an airport where he rented a secret garage --- to hide away my beautiful P-210 airplane. I would not be able to find it.
I was devastated that my $100,000 aircraft was taken from me and it then ended up in the divorce court and I was never again able to recapture it. This was certainly one of those moments that try men’s souls but, again, God had another plan. I think I mentioned a bit ago that I was “hearing” that I was to learn to fly jet aircraft, but why?
As I set up residence in the Arcadia area of Southern California, only a few blocks from where my wife and children were living, I was able to find some work in a dental office in the Pasadena area. It was owned by an ex-Russian dentist who needed a surgeon to perform the surgery necessary for his patients in his practice.
It was during this time that my “great confession” occurred. As I mentioned earlier, I had been a convert to Catholicism for some 35 years or so. But something quite different was about to happen. One day while was working in that Russian dentist’s office in Pasadena, I was looking through some magazine which was in the waiting room when I saw some advertisement about a jet flying school on the Long beach Airport. I had over the years flown my various airplanes into land at the airport at Long Beach, so this wasn’t an unfamiliar field for me to possibly get to. I called the owner of the American Eagle jet flying school and spoke with a Captain Dale Black. I learned he was a 38 year-old ex-TWA pilot who gave the lessons at the school and also, with his wife, owned the jet flying school, but there was more, much more.
After learning a little about the length of training at this advanced jet flying course and the cost, I was getting prepared. I needed $5000 for the instruction and two and a half weeks for the actual course. Could I manage that? I was just losing everything we owned from a ranch in Oregon to office building and new home in the Ukiah area. Everything about this whole venture in the natural seemed wrong, and yet on more than one occasion I was hearing I was to learn to fly jet aircraft. Well, the $5000 mysteriously came to me as the payment by some former dental patient up in Ukiah, so now I asked my new Russian boss for a two and a half week leave from my new job. It was granted.
I arrived at the doorstep of the American Eagle Jet Flying School owned and operated by Captain Dale Black and his lovely wife, Paula. At this point in this lesson, I have asked Dale Black to write about what happened as this oral and maxillofacial surgeon-pilot sought Captain Black’s knowledge about flying jet aircraft, but the story as told in this lesson really becomes a story about Bob’s Great Confession. Only God could have orchestrated this meeting, for a purpose which was different than Bob's.
I have asked Captain Dale Black to tell you the story of my coming to American Eagle Jet Flying School, Inc. Dale is a former TWA Captain whom God has used also in Christian ministry to fly the returning Jews home to Israel from the Soviet Union. His story is told in his remarkable Christian book entitled Flight To Heaven; it is a thrilling story of Dale’s flight into the monument portraying the Memorial To Fallen Flyers on the Burbank Airport and what happened during the time of his hospitalization and coma at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Van Nuys (a hospital Bob operated in frequently).
Only God could have brought me to Captain Dale Black for flight training during a most difficult time in my life. It well shows me the love of the Lord for His people. Now, let’s listen to what Dale has to say about our meeting.
Dear Dr. Bob,
I’ve tried to remember about our times together back in the early 80s. But since this will be a chapter about your life’s work, let me tell you what I do remember.
I distinctly remember Dr. Bob Christensen calling me on the telephone sometime in the early 80s, probably 1983 possibly 1984. Bob was eager to learn to fly a jet aircraft, his eagerness came through his voice on the phone. He had an extremely pleasing personality. I knew immediately that he and I would get along beautifully. He was already an accomplished pilot, so I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to help an already professional pilot learn how to fly a jet. In this case it was a Cessna Citation II jet airplane which I was a specialist on. At the time I owned a company that provided pilot and maintenance training for the Citation jet and the Learjet. Bob had lived in Northern California but had just apparently moved back to the Arcadia area of Los Angeles County. My wife, Paula, and I and our two children lived in Garden Grove, California.
My first day of meeting Dr. Bob was just like I had expected because of our phone conversations. He was extremely outgoing and smiled a lot. He seemed to feel secure about himself, but he was clearly not arrogant. Immediately after talking with him, I knew he could lead … I wondered if he could follow. Some strong entrepreneurs that I’ve trained in the past had troubles in this area. Being such strong personalities and powerful people, is why they have risen to heights, but working with me, sometimes could be a challenge to some of these rare individuals.
Within 10 minutes I realized Bob was the ideal balance of both leader and follower. When he needed to lead he led. When needed to follow, he could follow too. Our safety was at stake. I realized that he and I would be in the cockpit of a fast moving jet together, and that I would need to keep us safe, primarily with my words, as Bob would do the flying, I would do the instructing.
It was obvious he and I were going to get along very well. What I did not know is that we would get along in a way that both of our lives would be changed.
I don't actually remember the reason why he came to our house the first time, but I do remember that Dr. Bob was in our upstairs room in our house in Garden Grove. I cannot remember if we conducted our flight and ground school from our home or if we had an office nearby and we just invited him into the house. (He did have a small office quite close where all of the training occurred, but Bob was invited to our home for a dinner and fellowship.) While talking about his medical practice, which had been obviously flourishing, we learned a lot about the man. He was well-to-do, self-accomplished, gentleman who was used to having a very elaborate and successful lifestyle. He had owned his own offices and his own homes. He owned more than one airplane through his aviation career. He had many of the other conveniences that only a few successful American entrepreneurs can sometimes afford. He shared about his life with a kind and humble demeanor. He was amazingly humble throughout.
While we talked about his life and his training as a doctor…we also talked about his family. I should say that Dr. Bob not one time indicated in any way, to my wife Paula or to me, that he was arrogant, selfish or materialistic. Instead, he seemed to be a supercharged human being who wanted all that life had to offer. Underneath his words was a humble and extremely friendly individual.
That night, while in the bonus room, Bob eventually shared that he was going through divorce with his wife, Lynne, whom he adored. His heart was hurting. He mentioned that his wife had let this other man take his plane and, without his permission or knowledge they had sold his airplane and the man used the money for his own personal purposes. The man that took Bob’s plane, strangely, was someone I was acquainted with. It's not that he and I were friends, but I certainly knew who he was because he was a vital part of the aviation community in El Monte, California.
I shared with Dr. Bob about the fact that God can heal a marriage just as easily as God can answer the most basic prayer and as He could do everything else too. Bob mentioned to me that his wife had already filed for divorce and that the papers were forthcoming. I told him that the divorce papers were certainly not the final answer nor were they the final result. I shared with him that the final result is what we believe God has promised us in His Word, the Bible. It gradually became clear that Bob was a strong and respectful religious man. He had a huge respect for God and for the things of God as he knew them. But I had no sense in my heart that Bob had experienced the new birth, or the born-again experience.
I asked lots of different questions. One of those questions was, do you believe you will be going to heaven? He said yes he did believe he would be going to heaven because he believed in God. I recall him explaining about his belief that God was the Creator, that Jesus was the Son of God and that Mary was the mother of God. He went on to describe what sounded like a very devout Catholic background.
We talked for a good hour and in that discussion we had moved to our living room downstairs, and I asked a final question, “Bob, are you 100% certain, without any doubt, for sure, that you will go to heaven when you die?” I explained that many people believe in God. But believing in God doesn't assure a person that they will go to heaven when they die. As an example, even Satan the devil believes in God, and Satan certainly will not be going to heaven. I learned growing up in business, particularly in sales, that the sale is often “made in the questions”.
So I asked Bob lots of questions. My wife Paula was there too, and Paula, has a wonderful capacity to say the same thing that I’m trying to say, but in a more “user-friendly” way. So she and I tried to be as loving and kind as we could be to Bob. We repeatedly asked the Lord for his Holy Spirit to help along the way that entire evening with Bob. Paula and I tried to do our best to allow God to work in and throughout the conversation.
I remember seeing Bob's eyes sort of “click” when he heard me say that there will be hopefully, many Catholics and Protestants in heaven, yes, but some Catholics and Protestants, I have found, unfortunately do not seem to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I asked Bob if he was willing to ask God to forgive him of sin, which is what I had done, what Paul had done, and it changed our lives completely. It turned our lives upside down so beautifully. I asked Bob if he would be willing to not just believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but to go further, and invite Jesus into his heart and life as Savior and Lord.
Well, to make a long story short, I can’t recall anyone ever being as eager as Dr. Bob to become a Christian, and believer in the family of God. Bob repeated, what we call the sinner’s prayer, which was not some religious formula or some magical words. These words were simply spoken from the heart to God, asking His forgiveness and accepting the free gift of salvation paid for by the blood of Jesus.
Later that night we explained to Dr. Bob, (being a man with an extreme high intellect) that what happened in his heart was like planting a seed in a garden. You may not see the plant, not the next morning, but a seed has been planted. We explained how to water the seed by reading the Word of God, the Bible, with your heart, not just your mind. We taught Bob how to pray to God. It seemed very new to him. “You talk to God like a friend,” we told him. “You can articulate anything you want, Bob, and you obviously have a tremendous gift, so, use that gift and talk to God in the same way you talk to your patients, your family and friends”.
The next day I went and bought a Bible at the local Christian bookstore and had engraved on the Bible Bob's name and his wife's name. As I recall, the Bible said “Dr. Bob and Lynne Christensen”. Inside I wrote something similar to this, “Believing in faith for your family’s unity”, signed Dale and Paula Black.
Starting then it seemed likely that Bob was going to be an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime, powerful disciple of Jesus Christ. He also became like glue to my wife and me. We still laugh about this. He couldn't get enough talk about God, about Jesus, about what we had told him about the Holy Spirit. The next day we told him about the early disciples of Jesus. We described how and when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of hands. We explained that the Holy Spirit is the power of God to the Christian in today's life. I told Bob my own testimony how I have lived many years as a Christian but not with much power. The power came upon being filled with the Holy Spirit. Bob wanted this. So once again, like before, we laid hands on Bob and asked God to impart to Dr. Bob his precious and most wonderful gift - the Holy Spirit.
Throughout the rest of the time with Bob…he wanted to know both about the jet for that was the class he was actively enrolled in and about the Bible, for he believed it was prayer to God and knowledge of the Bible that would save his family.
During the time he was in Garden Grove, without his family and while going through Cessna Citation jet pilot training, that I remember him being astonishingly interested and eager, almost desperate, to learn anything, and everything he could about being a Christian.
Bob’s big challenge was that our pilot training school was highly advanced and extremely intense. We were teaching pilots, what normally took three months to learn, we were cramming into 2 1/2 weeks. So to say my class was total immersion is a gross understatement. But somehow Dr. Bob progressed right along with the class in every area just like everyone else. Somehow he was able to do this while his mind was on his family, his marriage crisis, and on his business which began struggling, once his wife left. She too was an integral part of the business success. I’ve since learned that Bob's brain doesn't work like the rest of the human race. To say that Dr. Bob is one-in-a-billion is quite accurate.
Because of the intensity and the shortness of this cram Cessna Citation Jet course, several students in the class were not quite ready for their check ride. This is not an indication that these pilots are substandard in any way, shape or form. It simply means that different people learn at different levels, and it also means that certain persons have a background that requires a little more training before they can handle a complex jet aircraft - with perfect precision. In Dr. Bob's case, he was able to capture the didactic portion but also the flying, hands-on part of jet flying. He passed the oral exam and was ready to complete the test ride when Lynne let him know she needed $1000, which meant Bob had to make the decision to leave the $1000 on the test ride or scrub his test ride and help Lynne.
He made the correct decision, to give the money to his dear wife.
Dr. Bob was a skilled surgeon, not a professional pilot who flies day after day throughout the year. His absolute need for this jet rating would not be essential. After all, Dr. Bob was on a mission to serve the Lord but at the same time to see his dear family and marriage restored. We decided to go on a flight to El Monte airport where Bob had gone through much of his flight training many years before, but also where his wife was now working.
So, with Dr. Bob flying the Citation jet we left Long Beach airport and flew directly toward El Monte airport. He asked me to radio the tower to see if they allowed jets to land at the 4500 foot runway at El Monte. The tower operator came back that it wasn’t disallowed but it was frowned upon. Bob and I both smiled as Captain Dale announced we are on course to land at El Monte Airport. Bob was beaming as we moved along the path toward El Monte Airport. Bob asked me the question, “Is that field long enough to land this jet?” My answer was, “Yes, barely.”
We both agreed that since the El Monte airport has a short runway, I would likely need to do the actual landing myself. He could fly to and from, even make the approach, yet I’d probably need to make the actual landing. He didn't hesitate. So Bob and I flew en-route VFR to the Almighty El Monte airport, as I used to call it.
Bob few flew beautifully all the way there. He made a beautiful takeoff, and he held altitude and headings really well on the way. Once near the airport, he entered downwind, adding flaps and landing gear at the appropriate times. His speed was maintained very well, which is as tricky as it is important. As we turned onto the final approach, I took over the controls with Bob “following me through”. I conducted the landing while he laid “fingertip pressure” on his flight controls. This way he could feel my inputs at this very short and challenging runway.
Upon landing, we, both lowered the nose of the jet, then quickly jumped on the brakes and placed the thrust reversers into maximum reverse. It was a beautiful landing on a very beautiful day. Bob was amazing. He could have just as easily been a professional pilot, college professor or brain surgeon. His intellect, his drive, his mature and calm nerves would allow him to become anything he wanted…even an astronaut if he wanted. Every pilot and mechanic and observer on the airport wanted to see who was bringing this expensive corporate jet to the small little airport called El Monte.
Bob had other things to do while there. I remember being concerned about the airplane and making sure we had fuel and the weather was good for our return flight, etc.
Bob, to Lynne’s surprise, waltzed into the aircraft facility that she was working at. He had not announced the fact that he would be arriving there, and especially not in this brand new Citation II aircraft. This was the very aircraft company owned and operated by the man that took his P-210 airplane. To his delight, their two young sons would be arriving there to be with their mother after school. So Dr. Bob asked if any of them would like to go around the pattern with him and Dale. Lynne said, “No”, but 7 year old Matthew beamed and said yes. So with Captain Dale following through on all of the maneuvers, we took off and made a loop around the airport and then landed again, just as before. Bob well remembered the massive drainage canal and highway at the far end of the runway and if a landing was not exactly as it should be, we would likely end up in a fiery crash in that ditch. Not a pretty thought, but the thrust reversers deployed perfectly allowing the aircraft to complete the landing, with the use of the foot brakes, some 300 feet short of that canal.
We said goodbye to Matt, Andy and Lynne, and Bob took that beautiful aircraft off of the field at El Monte like a pro. To Bob it seemed like he was in the Blue Angels leaving some field or aircraft carrier. We both had a great feeling of success but sadness Lynne and the boys weren’t with us.
But now, the flight got really interesting. Dr. Bob had no problem finding his way back to Long Beach airport. He had flown this route many times in his other training and in his own aircraft. He was looking forward to landing on the 10,000 foot runway, and he made a perfect approach and landing, but then something spectacular occurred. After touchdown, Dr. Bob deployed the thrust reversers, but they did not deploy, allowing the plane to rush down this 10,000 foot runway, only to be stopped by Captain Dale and Dr. Bob getting on the foot brakes and finally bringing the plane to a stop.
This was a situation that Bob was not expecting in any way. Had this same thing occurred at El Monte on the two different landings, likely we both would have ended in the storm canal. What a sight that would have been for Lynne and the others, eagerly watching, but what an ending to two dedicated Christians. That was just a bit scary, but PTL we came through very well.
After two and half weeks with this incredible man named Bob Christensen, our paths parted – but only for a while. We were on the phone with him regularly teaching him the ways of God through the Word of God. Bob was the eager one. He was the one that kept drawing nearer to God. He was the one that was completely engrossed in learning all he could learn and being all he could to be a powerful Christian, dedicated to God. He was seemingly driven to be worthy of God's salvation and in doing all he could to allow God to save his family.
Bob saw God work in his life on many wonderful and very diverse ways. I even remember at least 100 occasions where he would call or send a little card in the mail to us about a license plate that he had seen while he was driving in which God used to send a message to Bob. Each time the license plate was used by God to encourage, and in some cases, even direct my wonderful brother in Christ, Bob. One that I know he remembers very well was UZMEGD which he saw one evening when he was coming to see Paula and me. He confessed the same, Use Me God.
Months later I was, again, highly impressed to see that Bob was such a DOER of God's Word. By that time in my own life, I had met countless Christians who “know” the Word of God but don't “do” the Word of God in their personal lives. I've known countless Christians who are more interested in searching for “knowledge” yet who don’t do much with that knowledge in their day-to-day lives. I have met and observed countless Christian leaders who know so much – yet who do so little. But Dr. Bob is an exception to these. Bob was and is the ideal example of learning something about God through His Word and then doing what he just learned. In short, Bob is a doer. Bob Christensen is the real deal. He was the real deal from the very first day I met him. He was the real deal immediately after he became born-again. He was the real deal after he asked for the infilling of the Holy Spirit in his life. I've known Bob for close to 30 years and let me say very clearly, he is the real deal. I’LL SAY IT AGAIN; DR. BOB CHRISTENSEN IS THE REAL DEAL. He lives what he shares and writes about in his books. He lives out in his personal life what he has learned about God and His ways.
I never told Dr. Bob about a little joke that Paula and I have mentioned to each other throughout the years of knowing him. First, you should know that Bob is without doubt the most persistent person I’ve met. And with his persistence in mind, my little joke goes something like this. It is a play-off of the Scripture that says, “draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Well, with that Scripture in mind, I have said on dozens of occasions, when referring to brother Bob, I speak as if I were God speaking, “You know, I told my children to draw near to Me, and I’d draw near to them. But, in Dr. Bob's case, this is ridiculous”. Of course, my entire joke is a wonderful testament and a compliment to how much I respect Dr. Bob for being persistent in pursuing God…as well as pursuing the things of God.
We're told in the book of Matthew that in order to build our house on the rock, one must do the word of God in their lives. That scripture somehow really stuck with Dr. Bob, because he does what he learns, as soon as he learns it. What a wonderful and precious brother in the Lord, Bob Christensen is to me. Bob and I had many opportunities to fly jet aircraft together on medical missionary trips into Mexico. He became most proficient flying jets.
Months later Dr. Bob brought his wife, Lynne, over to our house for dinner. I remember we had Kentucky Fried Chicken. We were so busy at that time in our lives, that we didn't have time to cook so that was an awesome way to fill our busy schedules with wonderful friends. When Lynne came over, we tried to make her feel comfortable. She appeared to be completely on guard. We had already been told that she thought Christians were weird and therefore she expected us to be even weirder.
We talked to her through the evening, and she seemed to become increasingly more comfortable as we shared with her. We didn't condemn her. We didn't talk about her problems. We didn't mention her situation at all. We only tried to love her and be real. Of course, we asked God's help during the entire evening. Apparently she went away comfortably, because Bob told us later that she didn't think we were that weird after all.
She did pursue the divorce, however, as she had planned. And this was another one of the many lessons that Bob handled amazingly well. He handled it perfectly, in fact.
Your friend, Dale
Back To the Story
Now, back to a couple of points which I wish to make: Here I was in the midst of a divorce that I did not seek, and I have lost all worldly wealth, including a Cessna P-210 aircraft which had basically been stolen from me by a former friend. I’ll admit I was having a lot of trouble attempting to walk this period of time in love, but I have just been forgiven for all of my sin, and I am now a born again, Spirit-filled Christian. It was only through the love of the Lord that my confession turned to forgiveness and love.
Slowly, I was turning my hurt about the divorce, which was occurring, into a love for my wife and children which went beyond all understanding. I truly was standing in love as I titled one of my first Christian books which I wrote. But, what about the man that stole my airplane? Lynne had somewhat agreed to let the man have it as a down payment for a house he was attempting to fix up for her and let her have. Oh, Yeah, but somehow the man was a thief and would not be giving her the house.
It turned out my earlier friend who I had bought a couple of airplanes from and was now stealing my beautiful P-210 was also found guilty of stealing airplanes from others and the Los Angeles County Sheriff was indicting and arresting him. It was plastered all over the L.A. Times newspaper. So, now what would be my reaction to my new found enemy?
First things first; I had begun to stand for the healing of my marriage to Lynne and by showing nothing but unconditional, godly love for Lynne she began to soften her heart toward me and after about 2 years we reconciled, and Lynne became a born again Christian by confessing Jesus as Lord, as I had earlier with Dale. For our wedding, Gavin MacLeod, the Skipper of the Love Boat became our best man when we were now remarried over in Van Nuys in Jack Hayford’s Church On The Way. What a day that was.
But now, what was God asking me to do about my former pilot, aircraft dealing friend who was a thief, but now my enemy? I had been in touch with the Detective in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s office who had been investigating the airplane stealing former friend. All of a sudden they have him incarcerated in a County jail, and I now know what God is asking me to do. I had a real surge of God’s love for wanting to bring this man to the Lord. I was making plans to go into the jail and visit him in hopes that I could bring him to Jesus. I remember one time him saying “what is all of this Jesus stuff?” Now I knew it was much more important to bring Glenn to the Lord than worrying about regaining possession of my airplane. So, plans were being made, but again a different course was presenting.
A few days later, Lynne and I and the children were ministering to marriages to families up in the Oakland area of California on this particular weekend when we received a call from the Los Angeles County Sheriff. After a short moment speaking with him I asked that he speak with Lynne regarding some bad news he wanted to present. Earlier, Lynne had taken a short period of employment with Glenn’s Aircraft Sales Company on the El Monte Airfield. The detective let her know that Glenn had a major heart attack in jail and had died that very morning at 4:30 AM. It was sad news, but it was most remarkable that we were even able to be located by this very nice and helpful detective. Glenn was only 54 years of age when he had his massive heart attack leaving behind a very nice wife and two lovely daughters.
You see, by my accepting Jesus as Lord, I was truly able to forgive and love my enemies. God had a plan for my life which I had to gratefully walk out, and that is what this book is all about. Let God’s light and love shine brightly in your life. You will never be disappointed, even in those very difficult moments of your life.
God drew me to Captain Dale Black because I not only had to have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but I also gained the vision for standing in faith and in love for the reconciliation of my marriage covenant with Lynne. God also knew I would enjoy flying jet aircraft and that some years later end up purchasing our own Hawker 125 jet aircraft.
Oh, isn’t God good.
The Great Depression, Our Enemies in Business
The Biblical View
When considering our enemies in business --- who can be our co-workers, our competitors, sometimes even family members --- we need to keep in mind what God says about our enemies and how we are to think of them and treat them.
Jesus commands in Matthew 5:43-48 to love our enemies, not to simply love only those who love us, including our business enemies. In the Bible we see a range of examples of how people in business treated one another as examples for us today. From the moneychangers in the temple to the management of talents to the workers in the vineyard, the Bible has a lot to say!
One story is about Nabal. Nabal was an entrepreneur and he built a prosperous business in sheep and goats. But the Bible says he was “harsh and evil in his dealings” (1 Sam. 25:3). He was the kind of guy no one really wants to be around: pompous, corrupt and selfish. When David came seeking food for his warriors, Nabal refused to help. He didn’t care about God’s kingdom because he was focused totally on building his own.
In terms of commerce, Jesus never said that money was bad, just the love of money, the key driver of business --- to get rich. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are “worshipped” by many at the altar of money because they are billionaires, not because they love God and their neighbor, running their businesses with Christian ethics. Do you suppose they created a few enemies along the way? Maybe?
Remember what we said about Satan in an earlier chapter, that he is the source of all evil, including evil in business. Satan loves to stir up hatred within and across companies, wherever he can instill jealously, greed, envy and other sins that divert us from seeking God and His wisdom. Yes, Satan may be using your co-workers or competitors to anger you, but remember that your allegiance is to Christ and no one else.
This is not about ignoring crimes and corruption that are real. Whenever you witness legitimate crimes, you are to report them to the authorities that God has placed over us, whoever they may be. From Penn State University to the Catholic Church to the White House, sometimes the corruption goes all the way to the top, making the reporting of crimes very difficult if not impossible. But remember, God always has a solution, a solution that can be found through sincere prayer and hard work, so never give up when faced with a seemingly impossible situation that involves your enemies. Even as you report them, pray for their welfare, that they will come to Christ.
In the world of business, profit is king, not how we treat one another. The corporate world is essentially God-less with few exceptions. If you’ve ever worked in Corporate America, you’ve likely heard a common phrase boomed from the top that “we’re a business, not a social agency.” Money is king, not God. Businesses are not set up to be social welfare agencies, and few are run on the basis of Christian ethics, though certainly there are some. Far and away, and in some sense rightly so, businesses must make a profit or go under, leading to a chain of unpleasant things such as unemployment and lost opportunities. In the end, though, how we treat our enemies in business is critically important.
The world tells us to crush our competition, from the NFL to Survivor to the Fortune 500. It’s a tough world we live in, and business really is a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survive, not the meek. Ironically, at least in the view of the world, it is actually the meek --- as defined by Christ, those with humble hearts of service to God and one another, including their enemies --- that rank highest in the kingdom of heaven.
Does that mean that we should not compete hard and do our best to make a profit in serving a market? Of course not, we are to fulfill whatever mission God has entrusted us to --- in business, medicine, the arts, or whatever --- with our highest and best efforts, using the unique talents He has provided us with. The issue isn’t so much WHAT we do for a living but HOW we do it that counts in the eyes of God --- with a heart of service for God and neighbor. Do we live each day with Christian ethics or don’t we? Certainly no one is perfect or anywhere close to it, thus driving an ongoing need for repentance and confession, to receive God’s mercy when we stumble and fall, which is often.
But what happens when in the “rough and tumble” world of business that our enemies lie, cheat, steal, or do something evil to undermine or destroy us? It happens every day of the week, including, as we know, even in the church world. Why? Because humans are humans, including the Pope himself --- sinners to the core, in need of forgiveness. No exceptions. As Pogo of comic-strip fame once said, “We have seen the enemy, and they is us.” Yes, we are often our own worst enemy --- even more so than our adversaries --- when we refuse to follow the commands of Jesus. Like the stubborn Israelites of old, we need to be broken and humbled, which is something that God does frequently in the world of business. Have you ever heard of a high-flying business that was here today, gone tomorrow?
Hating and destroying enemies gives some in the business world a false sense of satisfaction, something they will one day be directly accountable to God for. Whether you run a small business with three employees or a mega-business with three thousand or more, the standard of behavior remains the same: to love God above all else --- to seek God first (Matthew 6:33) and to love your neighbor as yourself. If you feel you are incapable of forgiving and forgetting about the ‘trespasses against you” as committed by your enemies, then you will not be forgiven your trespasses against them (Matthew 6:15).
My Personal View
I understand a lot about the world of business, because I spent many years building and successfully running my own. In general, business is necessary for our survival in one form or another, bringing goods and services to the people of the world, even from Biblical days. However, there may be more enemies created in the world of business – of commerce --- than in any other single arena; some of these enemies might even be amongst our co-workers and peers. Whether you work in your own business or a huge corporation, there are more than enough opportunities to build up feelings of anger, greed, pride, jealousy, and hatred. The examples are legion, and business brings out the best --- and the worst --- in people.
In this lesson we will talk a bit about how the Great Enemy can raise his ugly head into the business affairs of the Christian and the non-Christian, to thwart the plans God may have for His creation here on earth.
Remember, I was trained to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and to be helpful in bringing health to many people who were suffering from some disease process or other pathology in the oral-facial region of the body --- not to be an MBA superstar. As a dedicated surgeon, I have always been searching for methods of surgical treatment that may not have yet been discovered or innovated but which might bring great relief to some health problem which a patient anywhere might be afflicted with.
The title of this chapter is The Great Depression, and one would naturally think back to the time in American history about the decade before WWII, which was called the Great Depression. I grew up with millions of other young folks who learned the lessons of hard work and even to think out-of- the-box. Tom Brokaw, in his book, The Greatest Generation, profiles the generation of Americans that grew up, like myself, in this time period. However, dear reader, as you will soon see, The Great Depression title has a much deeper meaning than simply referring to a time in history --- it explores how and why the American business culture has evolved into a God-less one.
During those early years we lived on a ranch in the area of Julian, California. My brother and sister and I knew what it was to milk cows, brand cows, gather wild hay from the field, build barns and homes and build barbed wire fences. Yes, we knew that quite well. Then WWII came along, and we all joined the military service. For my brother, Chuck, it was the Army and the Battle of the Bulge, for Shirley it was the Nurse Corps, and for me it was the Navy as a college student and as a Navy corpsman in a Navy Hospital, stateside.
Then later for me it was as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, called back into active duty as a Navy Lieutenant in charge of the oral and maxillofacial surgery department at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego during the start of the Korean War. The year was 1950, the month August.
When Chuck returned from the War in Europe and was discharged from active duty, he pursued his career in Civil Engineering and built a successful engineering practice in San Diego that his sons, to this day, are managing.
Shirley went on to marry and raise a family in Fanwood, N.J. Her husband was also an engineer, and they both worked for Bell Telephone until their retirement. Shirley, however, died younger than she should have due to the dreaded breast cancer disease.
For me, after the Korean War service I moved with my family to Pasadena, California, to practice my surgical specialty.
When I was about 35-45 years old, I became a bit of a medical device innovator, all caused by my seeing a need to improve our surgical care of patients. That decade would be the 1960-1970 period. In those years, I innovated and held the Patents for the first three dental implants in the U.S. and likely the world and also the first implants for reconstructing the diseased, degenerated or missing temporomandibular joint. This was not only for a “Total” TMJ reconstruction, but possibly and more importantly for a “Partial” TMJ reconstruction which was needed for millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of others around the world.
Some 30 years later, Lynne and I founded a medical device company, TMJ Implants, Inc. in Colorado to be able to manufacture and sell these very TMJ implants to surgeons and hospitals across America and into Europe. The success of this innovation in correcting the disease and degenerative processes found in the TMJs of tens of thousands of patients was phenomenal with a near 100% success rate.
But then, enter The Enemy Camp. That would be the Federal Government Agency called to approve and regulate medical devices and drugs. That would be Health & Humans Services (HHS) and its subsidiary, the FDA (Food & Drug Adminisration).
It had been the Lord who had given me instructions back at the time of my Great Confession in 1983 that I was to found a ministry to marriages called Covenant Marriages Ministry and a for-profit company along-side, and I was to learn that would be the TMJ Implants company to manufacture these very implants for restoring the TMJ that the Lord had shown me years earlier.
So, don’t you know as the Lord told us, “the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy?” That is exactly what the devil was attempting to do to the plan God had given to me to correct the serious, ongoing degenerative problems of the temporomandibular joint.
So, besides having implanted these TMJ implants in my patients starting in 1961 with Sister Lucille and then marketing these same implants through two other companies in the late 1960s to mid-1970s (Implants, Inc. and Austenal-Howmedica), it was well-known I had been placing these TMJ implants in commercial distribution long before the 1976 Medical Device Amendment of the FDA had even been instituted as an approval arm of the government. But, now let me begin to tell you how The Enemy Camp attempted to block what God had instituted.
A little history of the FDA’s action to regulate medical devices and specifically, implants for the temporomandibular joint, is required. To begin with, the Medical Device Amendment (MDA) to the FDA came into being on May 28, 1976. Any TMJ implant or orthopedic implant which was in the market prior to 1976 was considered a pre-amendment device, thus allowing marketability of such devices without requiring any further demonstration of safety and effectiveness. Any TMJ device on the market prior to the establishment of the Medical Device Act was exempt from any specific regulatory action in which an investigation of S & E (safety and efficacy) was required. Christensen’s TMJ implants had been in use and distribution since the middle of 1961 and thus were grandfathered under the MDA of 1976.
Devices introduced after the May 28, 1976 date would require some further FDA clearance, depending on whether they were or were not “substantially equivalent” to a predicate device on the market. In 1993 the FDA Dental Products Advisory Panel first classified TMJ implants into Class III, the highest risk category saved for such things as heart valves etc. It wasn’t until December, 1994, when the FDA issued its Final Rule which would require some time in the future a PMA (Premarket Approval) Application would be required to commercially distribute these devices. This action was punitive and should never have been required for the predicate, grandfathered Christensen’s implants.
Despite FDA’s proclaiming the TMJ products were
re-classified, that is an untrue statement as the implants had never been classified any time earlier. By placing them in such a category it would mean that all manufacturers of TMJ devices would be required to submit a PMA to demonstrate safety and effectiveness, at such a time it would be called for by the FDA and be filed within a certain 6 month period of time. This is where the FDA began to show their colors of deception because no pre-amendment implants had ever been required to go through such a rigorous, timely and expensive approval process. It literally could cost a medical device company millions of dollars, making it difficult for the small, innovative entrepreneur to be able to bring forth new innovations.
Most all of the pre-amendment, grandfathered medical devices fell under the approval process by the Orthopedic Division, not the Dental Division, which lacked expertise in the subject of joint implants. It was this very same Dental Division’s lead investigator, Dr. Susan Runner, who was showing tremendous bias toward a more recent implant company where she showed evidence of conflicts of interest. At that moment there were only two U.S. manufacturers of temporomandibular joint implants in the United States. One was the TMJ Implants, Inc. who manufactured the pre-amendment, Christensen Partial and Total TMJ implants which had been on the market since 1961, and the other was Techmedica, based in Florida, which later was purchased by a start-up group with the name of TMJ Concepts.
The Techmedica implants had been allowed to be marketed in 1995 as substantially equivalent to Christensen’s legally marketed product, even though their entrance into the market place was almost a quarter of a century after the Christensen devices had been developed. No other orthopedic implant, which was a pre-amendment device, was ever required to go through a rigorous PMA appli- cation for marketing by the FDA. It would be December, 1998, when the FDA finally called for the PMAs for all TMJ implants. This would be some 38 years after the Christensen TMJ implants were first placed in patients here in the United States with no history of either a safety or effectiveness problem in all of those years.
The date for the applications to be submitted for a PMA process was by February, 1999. TMJ Implants, Inc. got their application into the FDA by January 21, 1999.
The Dental Products Advisory Panel was scheduled to be held on May 10 and May 11, 1999 with the TMJ Concepts company being reviewed first, on May 10, 1999. It would seem that this sequence of which devices might be brought forth earliest was a bit unusual since the Concept’s devices were allowed originally because they were substantially equivalent to the Christensen TMJ Implant’s devices. Some statements found in the compilation known as “A History and Evidence of FDA Abuses of TMJ Implants, Inc. 1999-2001” the FDA documents referred to, brings forth some interesting information and observations.
In describing the Agency’s consideration of any “pre-amendment device,” the following statements are important; “The Agency understands and expects that such devices, lawfully marketed and in clinical use for many years prior to the Medical Device Amendments, lack the prospective data required of new devices, but offer sufficient clinical evidence (significant human experience) as a reasonable assurance of safety and efficacy. In fact several Class III pre-amendment joint prostheses (orthopedic devices) have been down-classified as Class II devices based solely on Medical Device Reports (MDRs) and available clinical experience.
“A review of the Panel meetings for such devices reveals the concerns raised at each Panel hearing are identical to the concerns raised by the Panel reviewing TMJ Implant’s implants. However, in all the other Panel Hearings these concerns did not prevent approval.” This statement was made by one of the FDA department leaders in the Dental Division. It will be clear to the reader that the Agency held TMJ Implants, Inc. to different standards than other pre-amendment devices.
Although this was a direct attack on Dr. Christensen and his TMJ Implants, Inc. Christensen stood firmly against the enemy camp and eventually won the approval for his devices, thus allowing Mayo Clinic to later state that the Christensen Partial TMJ implants used by Mayo Clinic correct over 95% of the osteoarthritic problems which present for treatment at Mayo Clinic.
These attacks of the “enemy camp” against the very calling of God on the life and calling of Dr. Bob Christensen shows how vigorous the attacks can be. It would require a two year battle before the Christensen TMJ implants would be granted approval by the FDA.
Dealing With the Takeover of Our Company
Now let’s fast forward to 2010, years after our battle with the FDA. In many ways, this moment in the period of 2010 would be the hardest to endure for both me and my wife. When, as in this case, the Lord back in 1983-84 had given me a glimpse of the future and showed me that I should found a ministry to marriages and a medical device company (actually it was to be a for-profit company alongside of the non-profit ministry), I fully knew what I was to accomplish.
At this moment in 2010, I had no heavenly forewarning that I would be losing the very thing I had worked so hard to develop. For those who have never been asked to found actually 2 medical device companies in the U.S. in the 1987-2010 time period, it can be a tough time to do so because of the over control atmosphere of our federal government. It is not a friendly or inexpensive time to bring forth such an accomplishment, yet the Lord had asked me to do just that.
We had been most diligent as we moved to Colorado from northern California to start the ministry and the first medical device company back in 1988. It was an almost unbelievable task but one we were up to starting at that time.
We basically had no funds, yet somehow God always made it possible to move ahead on such a venture. Actually, we started our two entities in a friend’s basement of his house in Lakewood, CO, in an area that was probably less than 300 square feet in dimension. From there it would finally grow to about 27,000 square feet in three buildings. What a mission we were called to, and I believed then and now that we performed it with diligence and excellence. We had grown from 2 people in a basement to eventually 39 people in all. In those buildings we housed two medical device companies and a marriage ministry --- which included a television studio. I felt my life was complete.
Lynne and I were raising our two young sons to mature in a good Christian school but also work with us in the medical device companies and the marriage ministry TV production.
We had brought forth some 38 employees who each became excellent in the field they were seeking and fulfilling. We truly were blessed, yet storm clouds were on the horizon but not yet visible to us at that moment in time.
Toward the end of 2009, we saw the approaching storm nationally in the U.S. and world with a financial slowdown and some monetary depreciation or devaluation of the U.S. dollar worldwide. Yet, even with that occurring, I had no warning of the seriousness of what was about to transpire.
Over the years our total sales income had risen from zero to just under $5 million, but in 1999, the FDA had so strongly attacked our TMJ Implants, Inc. and the approval of our TMJ devices, the income which we would be growing on had been severely compromised. We fought to get through that period and had to voluntarily reduce our employees from some 38 or 39 people down to eventually some 15 people. That was an almost impossible attack. Yet, somehow, with the Lord’s help, we made it and eventually secured our approvals, which we have previously written about. The Enemy had attacked us so many times and yet we were still on course and always giving praise to God.
I am sure others, including our employees, had to marvel at how we were able to possibly endure the at times corrupt attacks of the enemy through our own FDA agency. It was monumental, and yet we were always able to treat it in ways that a good Christian person would expect. Or, better yet, in a manner which would be pleasing to God.
But in January, 2010, a remarkable thing occurred for which I personally had neither real warning nor adequate answer. The income which had been steadily increasing from the poverty level we endured during the time of our product being withdrawn from the market through the nearly 2 years of the FDA approval of our PMA, was most beneficial to our rise to a proper sales level. What was now beginning was most impossible to endure.
Sales for that January were reduced by 50% without any warning. Well, perhaps we might endure that problem for a month or two or possibly three, but when it stayed at that very level for 6 months, we were harmed beyond measure and our ability to continue to absorb. I was forced to accept the idea that we would of necessity have to take the company through a bankruptcy. Not a pretty thought.
We had never sought outside investors as we always felt that if we could bring the company into a higher sales position by having our products fully approved by the government regulatory process. Much of that was occurring, but I hadn’t felt we were to quite do that yet. We had discussed such a possibility with Exactech in Florida, the orthopedic company which Matt worked for, and with another company or two. One thought was to co-join with Dr. Randy Robinson’s screw production company, but I think neither of us felt that was advantageous to either company.
So, we were faced with a dilemma. Was God aware of what we would face? Certainly, but we were not.
After I had explained to all of our employees, many who had been with us from the start some 23 years earlier, there was much sadness. I explained to all that we were either going to be able to bring this company through a Chapter 11 (reorganization type) of bankruptcy which would allow us to relieve ourselves of some overpowering debt but likely keep all employed, or a worse picture would be a Chapter 7 bankruptcy which likely would be more harmful to all involved.
A company locally was interested in possibly taking over our company after the bankruptcy but would be required to meet the Courts demands which might be a bit difficult. About the same time we were also in negotiations with a conglomerate medical device company based in Salt Lake City, owned by a family called the Crockers. From a doctor friend, Crayton Walker of Provo, UT, I learned the Crocker family were very wealthy and would certainly have no problem meeting the ongoing financial needs of this company.
I, personally, had two requirements on the demise of the company my wife and I had founded so many years ago. One was that very TMJ implants would always be available for the patients who needed this excellent remedy for a very painful and most often mistreated malady. The other was that my staff would stay employed, without a break in their incomes. Lynne and I had treated all of them like family since we founded the company. There were times when we might need to gift one with a car, or meet some financial crisis, or employ some member of a family to meet a financial need, or whatever.
Even when a husband and wife might be employed together and somehow a divorce would occur, we just continued to be a blessing to all involved. There were some family members where we might have three generations employed and being blessed. We always did all we could to be a blessing, and this time of dissolution of our company would be no different.
Unfortunately, the entrance of the Crockers into this situation was going to result in having some promises which they would make to me not being honored. Behind my back, while Lynne and I were attending a family function in Minnesota, they had an unannounced meeting with all of my staff and basically got their concurrence on things before the bankruptcy was even completed. They later made some promises to me about the fact that I, too, would be employed as a medical-surgical consultant at a reduced salary, but as sales increased my salary would also be increased to a level commensurate with my expertise in this field. Both of those and other promises were abruptly broken.
There were many other things brought into the picture which were so harmful to me personally. The Crockers, immediately after taking over the ownership of the company, made a name change, which certainly was very understandable. But what was not in the mixture of things agreed on in my discussions with them was the fact that I would or would not be allowed to speak to any of the employees, nor have the liberty of visiting the facility or even to speak with any of the doctors or patients, without their approval and presence. It was most distressing. I had been promised by the new President of the company that I would be fulfilling most all of the normal things in the design and manufacturing of the actual implants, but that, too, was all taken away.
Nothing about this arrangement seemed correct or normal or what was promised.
From a purely emotional point of view, this became the most egregious attack I had ever had to endure. I had always believed the attack of Dr. Runner at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) had been because of conflicts of interest, prior wishes to gain research monies from NIH grants to study the disease which I had found a cure and an attack on my Christian stance. I suspect all of the above were part of why the FDA gave me such a difficult task and eventually contributed to my company’s demise.
This attack by the new owners was even much more hurtful to Lynne and to me. Here was something that was not supposed to occur. To have to lose ownership of the two medical device companies as well as the marriage ministry was more than devastating. It was almost totally unbearable to this old surgeon who had spent his lifetime bringing forth a cure for a most difficult disease. There was no way I could easily get through this awful moment with basically nothing important to do and with no one who would now even be allowed to talk with me.
This situation got worse by the day and eventually got to the point where even the diminished salary I had been receiving was cut to a poverty level allowance which wouldn’t even cover more than half of our home mortgage payment. Not what they promised. Satan was at work again.
Why did this rejection occur from these new owners? I strongly felt it was because of my strong, dedicated Christian witness. They were a Mormon family, and I truly believe there is a strong bias or spiritual warfare situation between Mormonism and Christianity. That is a subject for which many books have been written. Over the years I have had many very good friends who were Mormons, but never was the subject so interfaced as with the new company owners and my new employers than with the Crockers. I felt much the same with some of the FDA leaders at CDRH, Dental Division. The Lord told us we would be persecuted and even stated if He was to be persecuted, we also must expect the same. As long as we are only nominal Christians or Christians in name only, we will likely be tolerated. But become an active evangelizing Christian as Jesus commanded us, and that definitely changes things.
But, how was God having me respond? Early on, when the young son of the owner, who was now made president of the company, met at breakfast with me in February, 2011, and let me know I could not talk with anyone, I let him know that their monetary pay would never be enough to take away my First Amendment Rights and that I would speak freely to other doctors and patients. That did not please him, and I can’t say I much cared.
I kept asking God how I was to react to all that had occurred over this past year or two. I kept being brought back to the fact that in all of His trials, Jesus was able to keep his mouth shut and to show Christian kindness even to the adversaries. This was going to be some test as to whether I might be to handle this awful rejection in a Christian manner. It would not be easy for me.
What might I do to even keep my sanity through such an attack of the enemy? I had no idea, but I decided to get back to my book writing. The one book I was most interested in starting and then completing would be a book which would accurately tell the complete TMJ Story and show what great progress and with what excellence we had brought these implants forward --- but at such a high cost.
So, in most all ways this was the greatest attack we have had to endure, but what a tough lesson this has been for this most senior couple. Not only was the emotional cost high for Lynne and me, but the actual cost of all of our provision or wealth was almost insurmountable. Eventually we even lost our very nice home of nearly a quarter of a century. For poor Lynne this was a most difficult moment. It was about the same for me too. Then, as our home is being sold, we find the FDA had levied a $170,000 lien on the Deed of Trust. What a great attack this has been, but as I have learned over the years, God always has another plan, His Plan, and I do want to always be in His perfect will. As bad as things have been or may continue to be, God will never put more on us than we are able to bear.
Lesson 4: The Great Wars, Our Enemies in Wartime
The Biblical View
Can you imagine anything more outrageous and at odds with the world than loving your enemies in times of war? Is it even thinkable to love Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, or the Taliban after their atrocities? For those old enough to remember, can you imagine loving Adolph Hitler or Stalin? The list goes on forever.
Yet it is exactly in these times
of war that we are called to love our enemies by Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:43-48 from His Sermon On The Mount. In one of
our country’s most trying times, the Civil War, a sermon was given in 1861 by
Rev. Henry Bellows at All Souls Church in New York City with these words:
“It is very well to talk about loving your enemies, is the secret thought of many, as long as you have none, or they are not doing you mischief, or you are so vastly superior in every kind of force that you are not afraid of them. But how are you to love enemies that are imperiling your children’s life, the safety of your wives and daughters, spoiling your goods, and endangering the very fabric of that government under which all your hopes of a safe and peaceful old age, or a quiet burying place, are sheltered?”
The rest of his sermon is an amazing exposition of true Christian love --- at a time when the Civil War was just kicking off. A Civil War pastor, Rev. Bellows explains that God does not want us to overlook or not punish those that are genuine criminals, but that during a time of war it is necessary to fight for God’s justice while understanding that our enemies --- as cruel and evil as they may be --- often do not know what they are doing, using the analogy of the way the Romans crucified Christ. This was not an easy task, certainly not then and certainly not now. Jesus’ command to love your enemies simply does not seem compatible with our modern world of violence.
In a recent article about loving our enemies, including at times of war, is an article by John Dear, S.J., from which this excerpt follows:
We can never talk about this commandment enough. For me, it sums up Christianity. If we do this, we will obey Jesus fully, because it encompasses everything -- reflecting God's universal love, working for disarmament, seeking justice for the poor, practicing forgiveness, living in hope and trusting in the God of peace. I've long considered it the most radical, political, revolutionary words ever uttered. And by and large, for the last thousand years at least, we've done our best to avoid them and disobey them.
Why? Because they go against everything every nation teaches. Perhaps because we are afraid; we don't believe God will protect us. The whole world is based on the commandment: hate your enemies, punish your enemies, kill your enemies. Jesus reverses the entire nation/state system. He invites us not to hate, punish or kill anyone, especially those targeted by our nation/state. Needless to say, this means, he would want us to love, not kill, the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Colombia, Haiti, Russia, and any other people the U.S. military has targeted.
The text uses the Greek word "agape." Unlike any word in the English language, "agape" calls for deliberate, unconditional, non-retaliatory, sacrificial, all-encompassing, all-inclusive, nonviolent universal love, a love which lays down our lives for others, in this case, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Jesus commands us to practice the unconditional love of God, to show, for example, "agape" to the people of Iraq. He wants us to stop killing one another, stop waging war, stop building and maintaining nuclear weapons, and stop our country from killing people. It is not enough for us not to kill; we have to stop our country from killing others. He wants us to reach beyond our borders to embrace everyone as a sister and brother, to make sure they have the fullness of life and love, to live in peace with everyone.
Jesus was not preaching hopeless idealism. He advocated a wise strategy for living in peace. "Love for enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of our world," Dr. King wrote. "Jesus is not an impractical idealist; he is the practical realist. Our responsibility as Christians is to discover the meaning of this command and seek passionately to live it out."
So Fr. Dean pretty much has hit the nail on the head in terms of how Jesus wants us to live and how important it is to love --- not necessarily like --- our enemies. In short, we are to become peacemakers like Christ, a people that seek reconciliation with one another as much as possible instead of war, whether between nations or family members. Jesus’ command to love our enemies wasn’t conditional --- it was absolute, as hard as it is. And loving your enemies in peacetimes is hard, much less in times of war.
Yes, we all understand that in the Big Picture, at some point in God’s Plan for human history, it will all come to an end in a cataclysmic war --- Armageddon --- that will signal the return of Christ and His establishment of the new heaven and new earth, where peace will reign forever. So is it really worth our while to “seek peace” when we know that, in the end, the world as we know it will end is a violent war with Satan and his armies fighting with God for ultimate control?
Of course, we know how the story ends, with God winning and all of his followers living with Him forever. But here’s the thing --- if we want to be part of God’s eternal family THEN, we need to love our enemies NOW. The concept of loving our enemies isn’t meant to change God, it’s meant to change us, to help us become true and more complete Christians, transforming us from “self-righteous, self-serving Christians” to “God-serving Christians”. Again, the command to love our enemies really is all-encompassing in terms of a genuine Christian faith, and it’s difficult to think of ourselves as “true Christians, helping the poor” when we carry around hatred for our enemies, much like a split personality. Loving your enemies is not your e-ticket to heaven, and it does not mean that you are without sin --- we are all sinners --- but the key is sincerely try to love your enemies, even in times of war, so that you may be more transformed to the likeness of Christ. There is a world of war and carnage in the Bible, often brutal and bloody, but we have to understand war in the context in which God intended; wars often served His purposes in the Old Testament, leading to His Chosen People, and in the New Testament leading us to Christ, the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets. His Divine Plan is perfect, but we are not --- by His Divine Design.
It’s not natural for us to love enemies at war who cause all kinds of misery and human atrocities in the world. We can do so only through the Holy Spirit living within us, just as Rev. Bellows urged his fellow Americans during the height of the Civil War. Yes, we all know that war is sometimes unavoidable, despite our best efforts --- and wars will go on as long as mankind is around, until Christ returns to establish His new kingdom. Wars can even be waged for God’s glory, like the Crusades and the modern-day Jihad or so-called Holy War being waged by Islamic extremists; here’s the catch --- God never asked for --- or needs --- us to wage a physical war on his behalf, mainly because it’s simply not part of who He is or what He stands for; as we know, the battle we fight for God is a spiritual one, as He is spirit. On the other hand, Satan loves physical wars because it fulfills his objectives of violence, evil, death, and distraction from God while he secretly fights humanity on a spiritual level.
There was a story that circulated after the September 11 terrorist attacks about a Native American boy and his grandfather. The boy asks his grandfather, “Grandfather, how are you doing after what happened on Sept. 11? The grandfather replies, My son, I have two wolves within me. The first is the wolf of anger, vengeance and hatred. It sees the suffering of innocent people, it is saddened by the tremendous loss of life and wants to respond to the perpetrators in kind, to brutally destroy them. The other one is the wolf of reconciliation. It too understands the horror of what has happened. It sees the children who have lost parents, the friends who have lost loved ones, and the fear and anxiety it created in peoples' lives. Then the grandson asks, And which wolf will win? The grandfather replies, The one that I feed, my son.” If this isn’t Native American wisdom at its best --- proclaiming indirectly the essence of Jesus Christ and how to love our enemies as an individual responsibility --- then I have never seen wisdom!
In sum, we are very fortunate to live in America, a country built on the faith of our God-fearing forefathers as a country dedicated to individual freedom to choose --- just as God gave us each free will. In this sense --- as in other democracies --- people have the freedom to choose their representatives, their occupations, and their religion. American history is all about fighting wars to preserve that freedom, and we don’t have a history of tyrants, dictators, and genocide. Other nations do. America in many ways is like a modern-day Israel, a light of the world chosen by God not to be superior but to be supportive, helping other less advantaged countries and peoples to see what a free-worshipping society can do, especially when they place Christ at the center. Is American economic, military, and educational firepower a mere stroke of luck --- or has it all been divinely guided? America is largely a peacemaker, generally seeking to avoid war, and it often uses its might to force smaller upstart regimes and countries to think twice before they go to war, but we know from today’s chaos around the world that many leaders do not respect America and what America stands for --- total freedom to choose. So can we honestly love those that would oppose and destroy America? As a country founded on Christian principles, the answer is an unequivocal YES --- so that we truly follow Christ and take Him to all nations (Matthew 22:37-40).
My Personal View
Many people have the idea that “hating” our enemies in war is perfectly OK, and in one sense it might be, i.e., desiring the defeat of your enemy. And yes, even in Biblical days there were countless days of war and slaughter, often sanctioned by God, that served His larger purpose and were needed. The bottom line is that we have to keep “loving our enemies” in the proper context, the context in which Christ intended --- that is, to pray for the welfare of those who oppose and persecute Christ and us from a position of evil, whether they are shooting at us literally or opposing us in the workplace. You see, Christ’s command to love our enemies doesn’t have loopholes, it simply means to apply the command in all areas of life, each in their own context. Even with the Taliban and such, we are to pray for them --- that their cruel and inhumane minds will be turned to Christ and His mercy; we can’t change them, but we must oppose their evil ways and rely on the Holy Spirit for the rest.
In December 2013, a young girl, Claire Davis, was shot and killed at Arapahoe High School in Denver, yet her Christian parents publicly called for forgiveness of the shooter. Could you or I have done the same? This was a most difficult task.
In Germany, the aggression of Hitler’s Nazi Party was looming big on the horizon. Many in America, still remembering WWI and our casualties in that War, were not anxious to be drawn into another foreign conflict. After all, it was our country’s founder, George Washington, who advised our citizens to refrain from being drawn into foreign conflicts. That certainly was excellent advice, but unfortunately, we were unable to refrain from such later adventures.
Let me give you a small glimpse into what Hitler was saying and thinking at this moment in time, since it will have such an impact on the lives of us Americans.
Hitler loathed the Jews and before the Reichstag on the sixth anniversary of Hitler’s coming to power, he made the following speech:
“In the course of my life, I have been very prophetic and have usually been ridiculed for that I would one day take over the leadership of the State, and with it, that of the whole Nation and that I would then among other things settle the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face. Today, I will be more be a prophet: if the International Jewish financiers in and outside of Europe should succeed in plunging the Nations once more into a world war then the result will not the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.”
Adolf Hitler - January 30, 1939
For us living and working or being in schools during this period, it may have seemed distant and possibly not too threatening, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. Even Great Britain and Europe, generally, had taken the Hitler threats during the former 6 years, too lightly, as Poland would see in 1939 when the Nazi Army would invade their homeland.
When Europe was forced into war with the “enemy camp”, it would only be another year and a half until the Japanese decided to attack the United States by bombing our ships on December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor. The enemy camp was having a field day attacking the bastions of liberty. Although this was a worldwide attack on God’s children in many ways, it resembled the attacks on individuals.
America had been founded on Godly principles by mostly God-fearing men. I wanted to just touch on one interesting moment in my life during those years known as the WWII years.
Before I tell the personal story in this chapter, I don’t want any reader feeling, because of some earlier statements, that I might be a pacifist or might not be willing to confront the enemy when that is absolutely necessary, as I feel it was in WWII. But now let me tell you a short personal story that happened during the WWII wartime.
As WWII started, Chuck and I and Shirley were all students in Hoover High School in East San Diego. Chuck and I had lettered in football, and Chuck was getting ready to enter San Diego State College to pursue an engineering degree. Chuck had a serious case of asthma and was exempt from military service during those first couple of years. For me it was a different thing. I would either be drafted into the service or I could enlist. I decided that I maybe could qualify for entering the Navy V-1 Program which was to allow those pursuing medicine or dentistry to join the Navy College training program and continue as enlistees in the Navy, in uniform and sent to wherever the Navy wished to send you. This was all occurring just about 14 months after we had declared war on the Japanese and the Germans. Many of my high school classmates were being or had already been drafted into the Army. That was in February, 1943.
I had started my pre-med courses at San Diego State College and was waiting for orders to call me into active duty. I was already in the Navy Reserve. About April I received a small card that let me know that if I wasn’t already in medical or dental school that I would be called into active service to be a line officer in the Navy and then would go through 90 day training at one of the Navy’s officer training bases.
Somehow, that is not what I had planned, so I changed course and joined V-5 which was the Naval Air Corps, to enter pre-flight training at probably St. Mary’s College and then would be sent to Pensacola, Florida, for actual flight training. First, I had to go through a 3 day, rigorous physical examination in Los Angeles, which I passed. Once I would have completed the actual flight training, I would likely be sent into flight combat in the Pacific. But then things changed again.
While I was having my physical exam for the Navy Air Corps, my active duty Navy orders arrived at San Diego State, and I was to be sent to Notre Dame to continue my pre-med schooling. Now what should I do? I decided to ask the Navy if I could go back into the V-1 program and out of the V-5 program, and they allowed it. But now my orders to where I might be sent to continue my pre-med education, while on active duty, was in question. By June I received new orders and I was being sent to the University of Southern California (USC).
So, I joined a group of active duty Navy students who were at USC. Some were in engineering college training to be line officers while some of us were in pre-med to eventually go into medical or dental schools. Well, a year went by with lots of marching duties, Navy training courses along with my needed pre-med courses which made for a very heavy load. It was not an easy year. Our rank and uniforms were those of the Apprentice Seaman which is the lowest one can go in the Navy. If we were successful in getting later accepted into a medical or dental school, then we would be wearing the Navy midshipman uniform that the Naval Academy students wear during their four year stints.
Well, a year went by and the Navy now ordered 5 of us pre-med students who had successfully completed that course to be transferred to duty at the Corona Naval Hospital in Corona, California. This had before the war been a private men’s club called the Norconian club as it was in a very tiny town East of Corona, called Norco. We were to be medical corpsmen of the lowest rank, but we all enjoyed the freedom from caring such a heavy course load of some 22 college semester units. The year had been 3 semesters with no time off. At the hospital, I was most fortunate to be assigned to assist the one surgeon in the hospital performing oral and maxillofacial surgery. The other four of my colleagues got assigned to general surgery duty or some other medical specialty.
Our time in Norco was an adventure in many ways. Being the lowliest of the staff at that hospital always made our off-time duties rather rigorous and somewhat demeaning. After our normal 8 hour duty period, we were assigned to another 4 hours of sweeping floors, cleaning bedpans, running elevators or Lord knows what. The MPs were always watching out for any slight infringement they could get us on to put us in the brig for 5 days on bread and water, known more colloquially as piss and punk. Of the 5 of us there from a respite from our pre-med training, two got thrown in the brig. The others of us tried to see how we might slip vitamins in their powdered tooth paste cans to give them some nourishment. If caught, we too would have entered the brig.
One part of this chapter which goes along with the theme of this book, and my reason for wanting it in the book is a discussion of some of the treatment of patients which I was involved in. Commander Ed Durling was the surgeon I was blessed to work with. He had been in private practice of surgery in Boston before he was called to active Navy duty. I assisted him on all of the jaw fractures and other such treatment we were doing on fellow Navy officers and enlisted men. We took care of a number of Navy pilots who had been shot down in airplane crashes in the South Pacific and were rushed back for surgical care. But now enters the “enemy camp”.
Stationed a short distance East of Corona Naval Hospital, out in a desert camp, were captured German officers and enlisted men. There was not much information given to the public about such an internment camp within the United States, but there was this one that I became familiar with. Whenever one of these “young” German prisoners was in dire need for medical or surgical care, they were brought to this Navy Hospital. Commander Durling and I treated a number of these young German soldiers for tooth removal or some other oral surgical need. We always treated them with respect and very well medically or surgically. They, too, were very young as were we. As much animosity that we as Americans might feel for the War we were fighting with the Germans and Japanese, we as individual medical corpsmen or doctors never let that interfere with our ability to treat them in our medical practice realm just as we would our own American soldiers or sailors. Professional treatment for prisoners, whether foreign or domestic, was always instilled in us in our residency of medical school. This is how medicine functions in America. It is also the way our Lord Jesus would command us to treat others.
The WWII ended in the last few months of 1945 and incrementally, the service men and women were brought home and released from active duty. My brother, Chuck, was drafted into the Army infantry in 1943 and after his training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, he was transported to Europe at the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. Fortunately, sometime during the battle he got frost bite and was treated in a hospital in Paris and later in Great Britain. That fact my well have kept him from being one of the casualties of that Battle and that War.
After my time at the Corona Navy Hospital I, with my four other pre-med Navy colleagues, travelled East to begin training in a medical or dental school. We, too, were discharged from the Navy at the end of 1945, later to be called back into active service at the beginning of the Korean War.
Korea as a country had been ruled since 1910 by Japan, but at the end of WWII the Allies in agreement with the Soviets of Russia divided the country in half along the 38th parallel. The North was called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which was the Communist State and the South was called The Republic of Korea. The Korean War started in June, 1950. The United Nations supported the South while the Soviet Union supported the North. The Korean War ended in July 1953.
I was just finishing my training in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Los Angeles County General Hospital when I was notified by the U.S. Navy that I was to report for active duty to the 11th Navy Headquarters in San Diego for assignment. I was assigned to the U.S. Marine Recruit Depot in San Diego, and there I was assigned to be in charge of the oral and maxillofacial surgery department in the medical-dental facility on that base.
In that capacity I performed all of that variety of surgery for the 18,000 recruits entering Marine Corps for active duty every 13 weeks for service during the Korean War. I was released from active duty in the USNR (US Naval Reserve) some 24 months later and then started my private oral and maxillofacial surgery practice in Pasadena, California.
So what had I learned from my wartime experience? Had I seen The Great Enemy encroach deeper into my life, or had I resisted him? Truthfully, at that time, I was still learning and not yet a born-again Christian, which was to come later. In times of war, most citizens and soldiers like myself and my fellow sailors had more or less a single-minded focus, to destroy our enemies in the name of freedom. To our way of thinking at the time, our war was justifiable in the name of freedom, and most people didn’t think much beyond that, staying focused on the values America was built upon. Yes, most of us, if not all, hated the Germans and the Japanese for the destruction they were causing.
On the other hand, a new seed of compassion had been planted in my head, having met and treated the German prisoners of war up close and personal. In hindsight, though I didn’t see or appreciate it fully at the time, I realized that the young German soldiers were just like us in many ways, though they had been following the ravings of an insane dictator, Adolf Hitler, perhaps like the young Japanese were following Tojo. It was a most amazing moment in time, experiencing both hatred and love in the same moment. Looking back now, though, I can see how this scenario did, in fact, bring me one step closer to Christ by helping the Lord reshape my heart.
The Great Debate, Our Enemies in Government
The Biblical View
The Bible is very clear, in multiple verses, about the importance of being obedient to the governmental authorities placed over us; of course, the only reason they are there is by God’s divine will. Although we in America have a long and colorful tradition of corrupt politicians --- a tradition that is still alive and well in 2014 --- we must also recognize that most government officials are doing good for the public and need to be supported, not attacked as a general rule.
The Bible says we should respect and submit to authority. This is a hard teaching for many, as the Bible would seem to protect those who rule or preside over others, sometimes in a cruel and unjust manner. Perhaps the most widely-quoted and well-known verse regarding this matter comes from Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” We are further advised that rebelling against authority is rebelling against God (Romans 13:2).
The commands in Romans 13 are
quite broad, aimed at “everyone,” with no exceptions listed. In fact, when Paul
wrote these words, Nero was on the throne. If Romans 13 applies to the cruel
and capricious Nero, it applies to all kings. The early church followed the
principles of Romans 13 even during the wicked and oppressive reigns of
Claudius, Caligula, and Tacitus. No qualifications or “outs” are given in the
passage. Paul does not say “be subject to the king UNLESS he is oppressive” or
“you must obey all rulers EXCEPT usurpers.” The plain teaching of Romans 13 is
that all governments in all places are to be honored and obeyed. Every ruler
holds power by the sovereign will of God (Psalm
75:7; Daniel 2:21). New Testament examples of
believers paying proper obedience and respect towards government authority
include Luke 2:1-5; 20:22-25;
24:10 (see also 1
This is not to say that God approves of everything governments do or that kings are always right. On the contrary, Scripture has many examples of kings being held to account by God (e.g., Daniel 4). Furthermore, Romans 13 does not teach that Christians must always obey the governing authorities, no matter what. The one exception to the general rule of obedience is when man’s laws are in direct conflict with the plainly revealed law of God. Examples of God’s people practicing civil disobedience include Peter and John defying the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:19; 5:29), the Hebrew midwives refusing to practice infanticide (Exodus 1:15-17), Daniel ignoring the Persian law concerning prayer (Daniel 6:10), and Daniel’s friends refusing to bow to the king’s image (Daniel 3:14-18).
So, in general, we are to obey the government; the lone exception is when obeying man’s law would force us to directly disobey God’s law. I experienced that exception in my encounter with the FDA, which you will read about below.
But what does God say about reacting to unjust rulers? In another well-known and challenging passage, he states: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your master with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” He explains further: “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” and “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God, [and] if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:15, 17-21). Suffering is part of the Christian lifestyle, suffering as Christ suffered --- and who was given the ultimate punishment by the Roman government. Was the punishment justified? Hardly. But even Christ submitted to government authority to fulfill his divine purpose, forgiving them as they hammered in the nails.
So is it possible to love our enemies in the government, especially those who are unjust? It is not only possible, it is mandatory per the command of Christ. Even if we have been personally destroyed by our government, as I was when I had to declare bankruptcy, I found that I still had to pray for those that were going after me. God is bigger than government, so it is with Him that my first allegiance lies.
History has taught us some remarkable things in America, from the American Revolution up through today. The American Colonists rebelled against their government authorities, reasoning that “rebellion against tyranny is obedience to God.” In their minds, the Revolution was justifiable in the eyes of God, so they pursued it, though they argued about it at length. It was not an easy or natural consensus. On the other hand, the Civil War began as an ill-conceived attempt for the Southern states to “break from the tyranny” of the Union; in the minds of the South, the war was justifiable to establish their freedom to continue slavery. But the South, in the end, would have been better off to follow in step with the Union and not challenge it with bloody warfare.
Approval ratings for Congress dropped into single digits this month for the first time since CBS News and the New York Times began asking the question more than three decades ago. In a 2013 poll, just nine percent of Americans said they approve of the job lawmakers on Capitol Hill are doing. The all-time low is the first single digit level since the question was first asked in 1977. President Obama's approval rating remains consistently below the 50 percent mark, with 46 percent of Americans approving of his job performance and 46 percent disapproving. The main issue Americans seem to have is the non-stop infighting between “enemies” in Congress as they struggle for power and glory, not for the American public. Americans are not happy with their federal government, but they are not ready to declare another Civil War, though a few states have murmured about secession. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, most Americans seem to be living “lives of quiet desperation”. The only real solution to our problems lies within our faithfulness to God and our inability or unwillingness to love our enemies, the missing link to our imperfect but authentic expression of Christianity.
My Personal View
Yes, in the Bible we are told to pray for those in authority over us, including those at city, state, and federal levels (1 Tim 2:2); this means we are to pray for their welfare and God’s guidance for them. It doesn’t mean they pray for us or that they even have our best interest at heart, which clearly they don’t always have. Governments --- and kings --- are ultimately human, full of greed, envy and lust. Just because they work for the government doesn’t change this fact, and we have seen too many examples over the years --- Nixon, Clinton, etc. --- showing this in spades. Nonetheless, we are commanded to pray for them.
The story we will tell in this Lesson is one of the most massive attacks of the enemy on this WWII veteran who brought forth the first successful innovations in reconstructing the diseased, degenerated or missing temporomandibuar joint. This innovation of a Partial TMJ implant was not only used weekly at the Mayo Clinic but as stated by Mayo Clinic it is used by them to correct 95% of the osteoarthritic problems they treat at that institution.
I first innovated the Partial TMJ for Sister Lucille back in 1960. In that time period there was no such thing as a Medical Device Amendment to the Food and Drug Administration. That meant that during the time of Christensen’s innovations and early sales of not only the implants for the temporomandibular joint, but also for his three innovations in the dental implant realm. Those, too, were the first innovations in the individual dental implant field here in America. That occurred in the late 1950s and 1960s and was recorded in an article on October 18, 1960 by the Medical Editor of the Los Angeles Times paper. A few years later TV 13 in Los Angeles presented a prime time, hour long TV program titled, Surgery 64, which showed Dr. Christensen performing a hemiarthroplastic surgery on a patient using the Christensen Partial TMJ implant.
Later, when Dr. and Mrs. Christensen founded TMJ Implants, Inc. in 1987, they should have been able to see the implants which Dr. Christensen innovated some 30 years earlier brought through the FDA approval process with ease as were the other orthopedic implants of that same period of innovation and earlier. Not so, and why?
Probably for several reasons. The first was the fact that the Center for Devices and Radiologic Health, known affectionately as CDRH had never recognized there was a need for such a thing as an implant for the temporomandibular joint. It was not until late 1975 that the leaders of FDA and the Congress began to push for such a regulatory body over the various medical devices which were being implanted in patients around the world. Some of those devices were for treating bone fractures, such as bone plates while others were for reconstructing a degenerated, diseased or lost bone part such as fractures of the hip.
So, in 1975 the U.S. Congress began to push for an Amendment to the Food and Drug Act. For the most part the surgeons, engineers and other scientists who were the actual innovators in medicine and surgery were doing a fine job watching over the effectiveness of their innovations as they were being used in thousands of patients annually. I was fortunate enough to have known some of those early pioneers in medical innovation, such as Drs. Vernon Luck and Otto Aufranc. Dr. Aufranc, one of the earliest pioneer innovators of the hip implant, had written me a letter back in 1963 complimenting me on my innovation of the earliest TMJ implants.
A few words taken from a chapter in my 2013 book, FDA You Were WRONG!, may be helpful to the reader. Larry Pilot was an attorney working for the FDA back in those years when the Medical Device Amendment was being called for and he was one of the attorneys asked to help write the actual amendment known as the Medical Device Amendment. The following was taken from an article titled, “Stifling Medical Device Innovation” which he published in 2012 and incorporated in my book.
“The United States has long been the home to cutting-edge innovations in the medical device industry, a remarkable private enterprise success that has improved or extended the lives of millions of people. However, increasingly burdensome regulatory policy is driving pioneering research and development to Europe, China, India or South America and to the rest of the world. Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and self-styled public health advocates are engaged in an assault on the primary regulatory pathway through which new products reach the market. This could lead to further erosion of U.S. leadership in this important field and be most hurtful to patients requiring a specific implant, technology or treatment.”
Larry Pilot’s words: “The primary law governing medical devices was enacted on May 28, 1976, and it established a flexible review process intended to tailor FDA oversight of new and improved devices to a level of regulatory control sufficient to provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness.” In the TMJ Implants approval process, Dr. Bernard Statland, newly appointed Director of the Office of Device evaluation, rebuked the leaders at CDRH, Ulatowski and Runner and others, for requiring an absolute evidence of safety and effectiveness, which he knew as a physician was an unreachable goal.
The original orthopedic, type of devices were brought through an “Orthopedic Division” of CDRH. Somehow the TMJ type implants, of which the Christensen TMJ devices were the predicate, were not included in that early review process by that same department. There was another company which copied Christensen’s devices some 20 years later, but used an inappropriate material and got into thousands of implant failures and actual lawsuits.
It was because of the inexperience of the CDRH’s Dental Division, which was selected in 1980s to oversee the approval of all TMJ implants, which caused much of the problem, in the approval process for the Christensen, predicate or grandfathered implants in the 1999-2001 time periods, 40 years after these devices were innovated and first used by Christensen in patients.
There was more to the subterfuge and attack on Christensen and his medical device company. Since the approval process for these TMJ devices was being directed through the Dental Division of CDRH, there were some very personal biases and conflicts of interests in the woman who was leading the Dental Division. When in the year 1993-4 when the Dental Division got around to actually placing these implants in one of three classifications, they were placed in the most stringent classification, meaning they would require massive testing by any company wishing to market the devices. They would be like a new heart valve or some other very critical device, not like the other grandfathered, pre-amendment orthopedic type devices. For Christensen’s company this would mean massive amounts of studies and laboratory engineering studies for a device that had now been used for over 40 years with nothing but success.”
I, Dr. Christensen, was to learn how serious and disruptive these attacks can be. I had always felt that much of the attack was a spiritual attack. Besides running the medical device company as an openly Christian establishment, at the Lord’s earlier direction, we set up the medical device company alongside of a Christian ministry to marriages. In the climate of the decade of 2000-2010 in these United States there was a definite attack on the Christian body, from many areas of government and elsewhere. A few years later with the Obama Presidency, Obama openly declared the U. S. was no longer a Christian nation. He was absolutely wrong in that statement but he was attempting to appease his Muslim friends, and a few of them he placed in the government.
The woman doctor, Susan Runner, who was in leadership of the Dental Division of CDRH made it very clear that she was going to attack Christensen, his company and his devices every way possible. One of the most egregious moments was when she phoned Dr. Christensen one week before his Panel Hearing in Rockville, MD, and stated that he should not attend the Hearings as his devices would not be approved. The date of that Panel Hearing would be May 10-11, 1999. Dr. Christensen was stunned by her statement especially since he already had arranged for some 10 other scientists and surgeons to be at that hearing in Rockville, MD, at our own expense to present the TMJ Implants, Inc.’s case for device approval. I told Dr. Runner that I would get back to her later to let her know my feelings about her demand that we not show up. After a discussion with my colleagues and the staff in leadership for the medical device company, I made a call the next day to Dr. Susan Runner and told her we planned to stay on course and to attend the Panel Hearing. We are sure this did not endear myself or TMJ Implants, Inc. to Dr. Runner.From that moment on, the CDRH did everything they could to block the approval process of this 40 year-old successful implant which had now helped more than 10,000 patients, mostly across the U.S. There had been no other surgical treatment for degenerative TMJ disease either early or late that could match the success of these Partial and Total TMJ implants, yet Dr. Runner did everything in her power to attack this successful treatment. When I brought all of the testing data, scientists, and even patents to the May 11, 1999 Dental Products Panel Hearing, we couldn't have been more prepared and pleased. One of the panelists was a Dr. Skinner, an orthopedic surgeon and chief of that section at the Medical College of UC Irvine where I had been appointed assistant clinical professor of surgery in the head and neck surgery division. Dr. Skinner was the only member of the Panel that had any real first- hand knowledge of joint reconstructive surgery. He, at the end of the hearing made a personal statement to me that the TMJI or Christensen presentation was excellent. He started the voting which ended 9-0 in favor of approval. I suspect that some of the other FDA appointments to the Panel, who were totally without knowledge of what was being discussed, might have ramrodded a vote against approval had Dr. Skinner not been on the Panel. But even with that vote of confidence, Dr. Runner saw to it that we would be given a non-approval and taken off of the market for the next 21 months, causing us to have to downsize our company from 39 people to 18. What a travesty, and for no reason other than the conflicts of interests, biases and Dr. Runner’s attempt to gain a 10 million dollar National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study TMJ disease and disorders, for which I had already found a curative treatment.
It was at a later moment when Dr. Bernard Statland, Director of Device Evaluation, personally told me on the phone one afternoon that he had been unable to sleep two different nights because of what he saw Dr. Runner and staff had done to hamper an approval for our Christensen TMJ implants. He was most embarrassed and apologetic to me, whom he enjoyed knowing and conversing with. I felt the same way about him and it was later, only through his efforts and his standing up to the antagonists Runner and Ulatowski, that these Christensen TMJ implants received their approval through a very costly approval process, literally going into the millions of dollars for devices that had been in use over 40 years. It was more than a travesty. It was an outright attack of the enemy. But the attacks were not to stop. Dr. Christensen would have to fight the enemy camp much more.
Though we gained the approvals of the devices which we manufactured at TMJ Implants, Inc. three years later Dr. Runner threw another totally unwarranted curve at us --- which in the long run helped cause our company to go bankrupt and the marketplace to lose, at least for a couple of years, most important TMJ implant ever devised and lost to the patients who needed them most.
Through all of the above attacks on our business, Lynne and I were instructed by God to walk in peace and forgiveness. The record of all of these attacks is well documented in my book, FDA, You Were WRONG! So while it’s easy to talk about the importance of forgiving and loving our enemies, those who persecute us, it’s another thing altogether to actually do it. It’s especially painful when the people persecuting are those who are supposedly working for you, agents of the federal or state government. So what did we learn from this vicious and unwarranted attack on our business and us? To do what Jesus Christ asks us to do: pray for the welfare of our enemies, for they “know not what they do” (Luke 23:24)…which is exactly what we did, even though the War was far from over.
The Great Conflict: Enemies in Our Families
The Biblical View
As we now consider enemies in our families --- mother, father, brother, sister, children --- we must never lose sight of The Great Enemy, Satan, who is the one that plants the very seeds of division; knowing that such division drives us further away from God. Anger and hatred toward one’s family members can easily distract us from putting God first in our lives and trying to emulate Christ as we become obsessed with destroying members of our own family.
The concept of family is extremely important in the Bible, both in a physical sense and in a theological sense. The concept of family was introduced in the very beginning, as we see in Genesis 1:28, "God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'" God's plan for creation was for men and women to marry and have children. A man and a woman would form a "one-flesh" union through marriage (Genesis 2:24), and they with their children become a family, the essential building block of human society.
We see early on in the Bible that family members were to look after and care for one another. WhenGod asks Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" Cain's response is the flippant "Am I my brother's keeper?" The implication is that, yes, Cain was expected to be Abel's keeper and vice versa. Not only was Cain's murder of his brother an offense against humanity in general, but it was especially bad because it was the first recorded case of fratricide (murder of one's sibling).
The importance of family can be seen in the provisions of the Mosaic covenant. For example, two of the Ten Commandments deal with maintaining the cohesiveness of the family. The fifth commandment regarding honoring parents is meant to preserve the authority of parents in family matters, and the seventh commandment prohibiting adultery protects the sanctity of marriage. From these two commandments flow all of the various other stipulations in the Mosaic Law which seek to protect marriage and the family. God never said raising families, including at times rebellious children, would be easy, but no matter how exasperating parenting these children can be, parents can take comfort in God’s promise not to test us beyond our ability to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Yes, there are times when our family members commit crimes, and of course they need to be held accountable like any criminal; just because they are family members doesn’t give them a free pass. But even if such things happen, and they do in a sense become an “enemy” in their behavior, we are still to love them and pray for them, that Christ will enter their hearts through His Holy Spirit. We can’t change their hearts, only God can. What we should NOT do is abandon them. Keep in mind that the only “enemy” we should not pray for is The Great Enemy, Satan and his demons, the declared enemies of God.
Scripture tells us that we’re to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from [us], along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Failure to do this results in division in the body of Christ and grief to the Holy Spirit. We’re also told that we’re not to allow a “root of bitterness” to spring up among us, leading to trouble and defilement (Hebrews 12:15). Clearly, a biblical method of conflict resolution is needed. Although these verses are the two places that expressly deal with conflict resolution, every letter in the New Testament contains at least one command to believers to live at peace with one another. We are repeatedly instructed to love one another (John 13:34; Romans 12:10), to live in peace and harmony with one another (Romans 15:5; Hebrews 12:14), to settle our differences among ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:11), to be patient, kind and tenderhearted toward one another (1 Corinthians 13:4), to consider others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3), to bear one another’s burdens (Ephesians 4:2), and to rejoice in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). In short, as stated in the Sermon On The Mount, we are to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:7).
Think about this for a moment --- what happened to Joseph’s brothers after they sold him into slavery, ultimately? They respected the fact that, as their brother, he should not be killed but spared, even though they hated his “superiority”; in the end, though, God used their hatred for good and showed the raw power of forgiveness. Joseph could have had his brothers slaughtered like sheep, but he didn’t. Joseph’s story presents amazing insight into how God sovereignly works to overcome evil and bring about His plan. Joseph says to them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Man’s most wicked intentions can never thwart the perfect plan of God.
In summary, the
Bible has a lot to say about how we are to treat family members, enemies,
conflict resolution, and where our families are to stand --- second in line ---
in relation to Christ. God is to be
first and foremost in our lives at all times, and if we are able to do that,
His divine love will flow in us and through us and to our family members with
forgiveness and love that never ends and that even extends to our worst
Solving family conflicts in the modern world has become all the rage, driving shows like “Dr. Phil” to the top of the ratings charts --- families with preteen mothers, rejected gay family members, sisters that are trying to kill one another, wives having multiple affairs to get even with their husbands, and the list goes on. Americans love shows like these because they are dramatic and offer “professional” insights from Dr. Phil.
Let’s be honest. Psychologists won’t solve the problems of the world, but make no mistake, professional counseling can often be helpful, sometimes getting warring family members to raise the white flag and talk to each other. This is at least a starting point, but it is only a partial solution.
Reflecting back on the importance that the Bible places on the family, the most important and significant thing we can do is not getting on the Dr. Phil show but rather returning to God and making worship the center of our family lives. Yes, counseling can and often will help us understand and resolve some of our family differences and difficulties, but getting our families “back on track” with our faith is the single most important and fundamental step. If we have already started counseling, that is certainly a good step and possibly helpful, but getting our family members to follow Christ with us is the absolute key to success.
But what about family members that all “follow Christ” on their own but still hate one another and carry a huge amount of anger? Again, like Bible verses, we have to keep all situations in proper context. Recall what Christ said about loving our enemies, those that want to destroy and persecute us; that we are to love not just those who love us in return. In many cases, our worst enemies can be our family members, our wives, husbands, and children.
In the eyes of our modern culture, shows like Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer may generate great ratings, but do they really solve any problems? Perhaps they help in some ways, but a more complete diagnosis, like that of a physician, should be more complete and look beyond the symptoms to the root cause. As an oral surgeon, I know how many patients over the years have complained of headaches or jaw pain that no one could help them resolve until I came into the picture with TMJ surgery; in 95% or more of the cases, my TMJ device solved the problem permanently. Proper diagnosis, proper solution! But in the same way that many general dentists, oral surgeons, and general physicians have a limited knowledge of TMJ disorders and need to refer their cases to a specialist, so too should we refer back to our life’s master healer, Jesus Christ, to find the answer for our biggest family conflicts --- loving our enemies as He commanded us.
My Personal View
Ah, yes, enemies in the family. Do you have a few? We so often hear that our greatest opposition in life doesn’t come from enemies in business but from our own homes. And in many cases, that scenario seems to be true!
Do you remember when Joseph was taken into Egypt after being sold by his brothers to the Midianites for twenty shekels of silver who took him into Egypt where they planned to sell their spices which were loaded on their camels? The Midianites, also known as Ishmaelites, later sold Joseph to Potiphar, a captain of the guard to the Pharaoh. He was brought into Potiphar’s house and Potiphar’s wife later accused him of attempting to rape her. This was all a lie, but this scenario in the Bible can show one the attacks the enemy wishes to place on a person who may well be in God’s will. It is a story which has had profound effect on my own thinking as I have seen a number of attacks occur in my own family and especially since I became a born-again Christian.
In my family we have seen many attacks of the enemy which have not always been easy to endure and certainly not in a Christian manner. As I may have mentioned earlier, my first wife and I divorced after some nearly 20 years of marriage. I have written about that fact in several previous books on marriage and the harm which it causes to all involved. Certainly the spouses are harmed most, but then the children and the extended family, friends and even the public or other Christians can be harmed as well.
Everyone begins to take a side, and too often there are words spoken that are extremely harmful and irreversible. Since I was ordained into ministry and where I have had the opportunity to marry couples, I have always made a stern warning to the witnesses to refrain from speaking harshly about either spouse. Try to walk in love toward each and when they are having difficulties in the marriage, be there to support the marriage covenant represented in each of them.
Too frequently we see the ungodly division of the entire family when a couple is going for covenant breaking, also known as divorce. Remember the Bible story of David at the time of King Saul and Jonathan’s death in battle. He, as the new King, told the people to speak well of King Saul and Jonathan, remembering he had made a covenant with Jonathan, and now King Saul was linked in that covenant with David. Our duty is to as much as possible to speak encouraging words to each member of the covenant.
All of those attacks of the enemy began to play into the separation and divorce of my first marriage. Divorce, better known biblically as covenant breaking, is not even well understood by most Christians, and covenant breaking is certainly a massive attack against God’s plan for a family. It truly is a large sin and not one that either Ann or I really wanted to see occur, but once started, it seemed to have a life of its own.
There is little good about divorce, and yet there is so much confusion in society and even in the Christian churches as to how to handle the situation and, more importantly, how to resolve it in a Christian and even civil manner.
In so called no-fault divorce courts, the judges and the attorneys all play a part in what transpires and the harm a family will go through because of all of the facts and parties involved.
In one’s life, things may occur that go so far beyond what you ever may expect or deserve and that you can’t find words to express. It is in these times when one’s knowledge of his salvation and forgiveness becomes paramount. One of those instances occurred in about 1992-93 in my life.
As I have stated before, and written about in other books, my first wife, Ann and my marriage ended in divorce in the early 1960s. It was not God’s will as we succumbed to an attack of the enemy.
I certainly was not a born-again, spirit-filled Christian living a Christian life. Ann and I had eight wonderful children, six girls and two boys. They did not deserve to see their family attacked and divided by the devil.
I know that during that hurtful time of separation and actual divorce there were many things being said which were having an especially harmful effect on our young children. As I just mentioned, I have learned and spoken this about many times in the years past as I have had an opportunity to minister to other hurting marriages. One needs to be very careful about the words used to speak about one’s spouse, husband or wife. Those words can later be used in harmful ways, especially when picked up by the young children of that hurting couple. The following story will more than bring forth the wisdom of that statement.
The time which I will now discuss is some 30 years after the divorce had occurred, when my second daughter, who at that moment was about 40 years old, announced to her mother, her siblings, the extended family and to any friends or acquaintances who might listen to her, that her father, me, had molested her as a child.
My daughter Joan, who was my oldest daughter, was told that first by her younger sister. Joan told her sister that her accusation was nuts and immediately let me know of the accusations so that I might immediately confront the accusing daughter regarding such a lie. Lynne and I and Joan were all horrified about such accusations.
Much like Joseph when Potiphar’s wife accused
Joseph of attacking her, there was little that I could do or say. It is an amazing thing when a daughter makes such a horrific accusation, and particularly for the first time some 30 plus years after the so-called event. For me, it was an awful and totally unexpected mess. But as we shall see, it had a very detrimental effect on the whole family. It can cause such a divide in a family that it may never be able to resolve the relationship which God ordains for family members with each other.
Let’s travel back to this moment in about 1992-3. Much of what I will be writing about has been taken from an earlier book, The Breaking Point, which was published in 2010 by Covenant Marriages Ministry. It is a story that hasn’t been one I have wished to publicize, but, with the theme of this book, The Enemy Camp, I personally felt it is a must. Even as other members of the family profess to be Christian, one wonders where is their Christian love? Especially for a parent. The Bible certainly commands children to love their parents. Any person confessing to be a Christian is commanded by God to honor one’s mother and father. That goes for spouses, too. Honor each other, as you are covenant partners. The frailty of man enters in with the lure of the devil, and separation and divorce enters. It certainly is not God’s way.
After discussing these accusations of my 40 year old daughter with my wife, Lynne, we strategized as to what might be done. I decided, with Joan and Lynne’s concurrence, that I should phone the accusing daughter to learn what actually she was saying. The most I got out of her was that this so-called attack had first been suggested by her therapist. Then my daughter had decided it had occurred one time. It was later, however, suggested that, perhaps, it had happened many times over a 10 year period. All of this seemed to be occurring because the therapist was suggesting it.
I was for making the 2 hour flight from Denver to Seattle where this daughter lived, with my daughter Joan and an attorney or pastor along, to have a meeting with her, her therapist and her attorney if she would also agree. I also suggested I would be willing to have a lie detector test taken of me if she would too. Both offers were summarily rejected. The enemy had clearly dug in his heels on this one.
After some further investigation by our side, it became very apparent that this daughter had been having repeated psychological counseling, at one point by a male counselor who, according to what this daughter told me, had encouraged her to believe in the molestation theory and referred her to a female counselor who apparently encouraged the same lie. My daughter Joan had heard the same thing from her slightly younger sister a day before.
This story and its elaboration was following the pattern of a number of other similar stories occurring during this same time period in other families across the nation. It was most prevalent in both the Minneapolis and Seattle regions of the U.S. The theory being advanced by the counselors was that these troubled women, who were frequently in multiple relationships and/or marriages, were so troubled emotionally that some family member had to be blamed even when nothing pointed to such an occurrence. It was later identified as “False Memory Syndrome” which was later debunked.
The typical counselor would lead the distraught woman into believing she must have been molested by her father --- even though there had never been any mention of such an occurrence to anyone and, in this case, not even to her own sister.
This syndrome was totally unknown to me, her surgeon-father, but not for long. The newspapers were being filled with similar attacks, sometimes not just against the father but even against the mother. This so-called syndrome was creating a maelstrom of hurt, and a few years later, it was totally debunked. The American Psychiatric Association came against those spreading this so-called syndrome as truth when it truly was a totally fictitious, one being fabricated by the daughter and her therapist. The insurance companies covering the therapists let their insured know they would not insure them if they were teaching this so-called syndrome as fact.
Suicides were occurring in families. Divorces were also occurring and even terrible lawsuits. Families would become so divided over such false statements and attacks that no degree of denying the accusations would prove to be effective. It was becoming a national tragedy, being fostered by therapists, without legitimate answers. Court cases often occurred, usually ruling against the accusing daughter but at times against the unlawfully accused person and placing him in jail.
I, personally, certainly hold these therapists accountable for the harm they have perpetrated on the American people as a fact, when in essence it is almost witchcraft and used to gain money for the therapists. It has caused much harm to the afflicted client and certainly to the parents and entire family.
I certainly don’t put all of the blame on my accusing daughter, but when the truth about False Memory Syndrome was uncovered she should have squarely faced the therapists and repented to her father and other family members. Unfortunately, that was not done, but instead the lie has gone on to further or justify her abhorrent behavior.
In our family, those horrible and absolutely false accusations have separated many family members for decades. The extended family who was involved in the malicious attack might still have questions as to the truth of what was being said. There is little way of undoing the false accusations. This particular daughter, in my case, has never repented for what she has done. As she moves forward in her life with new mates, they are apparently being told the same old, false story, and when they are told by Joan the accusations are false, they are shocked, as they should be. They begin to realize the accusing child has built a story, and she will choose to live the lie getting any mileage she can.
At one moment in time, a few years after the time of the accusation, and during the wedding of another one of the daughters, we had a gathering of all the daughters with exception of the accuser, who chose not to attend her sister’s wedding. The daughters sought a meeting with me immediately following the wedding and in a very viewable glass room.
It was not meant to be a friendly meeting but an adversarial encounter. Although Joan was allowed to sit in at that meeting, my wife, Lynne, was not. I likely surprised them when, in that meeting, I outright asked each daughter, one at a time before the others, if I had ever laid an inappropriate finger on any one of them? The answer in each case was no! Unfortunately, there has been no real resolve to what had happened. I believe they have all felt the accusations must have been true, and no amount of information or statement from me seemed to have any effect.
It is exactly like someone being put in jail for a rape or murder in which later he was shown to be totally innocent. Without repentance by the accuser or some DNA evidence coming forward later, there is no redemption of the accused person. This horrible scenario cries out to the justice which only God can bring.
I have, until the moment of describing it in The Breaking Point, never told this story to others, knowing it would only be God who could vindicate me. I had thought, for years, that my son, Peter, the Catholic priest, and now Bishop of Superior, Wisconsin, might be the reconciler of the family members in love, but to date --- some 20 years later --- that has not happened.
Through it all, God has never left me. His Grace is sufficient for me even when just a few years ago that accusing daughter, while we were all present for another family wedding, approached me while I was sitting in a car waiting to leave, and out of her mouth came the words, “I thought you were dead.”
I had no words to speak. As a father who has been wronged, I, like Jesus at his trial, had to remain silent. It has been most difficult when you know so many family members and others who were fed the lie and apparently bought it, yet none ever inquired of me as to the truth. It is reported that this is a pattern of the so-called False Memory Syndrome perpetrator, to attack the accused parent in some spectacular and visible way, and usually before others to get the greatest impact. I must say she succeeded in her display of bitterness and deceit. I seriously considered whether I should put this chapter in this book but felt because of my age and having gone through an open heart surgery in the last few years, followed by three cardiac arrests, that I should leave my statement as to the truth in this matter for all to see.
In all of this, God has put an enormous love in the heart of this nearly 90 year-old father for all of his children, including not only the one that accused him, but to the several others who joined her to abandon their love and respect for their father. Sometimes these attacks can seem impossible to survive, but when God’s love fills your heart, all things truly are possible.
Sometimes, like Jesus when he was being accused, one just needs to sit quietly by and know that with God all things are possible, that the lies will be uncovered in His time. There may be some reading this book that will need the wisdom, patience and sometimes humility which our Lord has afforded this 90 year old somewhat retired surgeon.
I must say that my love for each and all of my children has never faded….nor will it. It truly remains as did the Prodigal Father’s. Only God could make that possible. Family enemies? Yes, indeed, I have them, but I also know that Satan is behind their anger, and I know that Christ has already defeated him, now and in the kingdom to come. This is the thought that brings me peace.
The Great Divide:
Catholics Vs. Protestants,
Republicans Vs. Democrats
The Biblical View
As we now consider the Great Divide, the wars defined as Catholics vs. Protestants and Republicans vs. Democrats, we want to begin with a Biblical view of how we are to treat one another when we have differing views on our Christianity or our politics; after all, all Christians are on the same team, and all Christians are called to treat non-Christians with kindness and respect as they proclaim their truth about Jesus.
While there are many --- though not all --- die-hard Catholics that “hate” Protestants, there are also many --- but not all --- die-hard Protestants that “hate” Catholics; this so-called “hate” is usually not actually hatred but perhaps better defined as dislike or disdain, though it can sometimes be actual hate. Many Republicans “hate” certain Democrats, and vice versa, in the same general way. Have you ever heard someone say at a party, “I never discuss politics or religion,” For those old enough to recall, Jimmy Carter was a die-hard Democratic Christian elected to the Office of President in 1976; four years later, he had become a typical, embittered politician lashing out viciously at his opponents. What happened to love your enemies?
Satan loves how this division apparently dilutes the power of God, but it truly doesn’t need to be this way in the humble opinion of the authors. Just as Christ directs us to love one another, our neighbor as ourselves, and to love our enemies, both authors have been on both sides of the Catholic and Protestant equation, with Dr. Christensen going from Catholic to Protestant and Mr. Harritt doing the opposite, so they have both lived on “both sides of the fence.” The authors, then, bring this book forward in the context of having lived on both sides. On the other hand, both co-authors are conservative Republicans but hold a bi-partisan view of Christianity! Again, we are all on the same team and need to begin acting like it; former Secretary of Defense Bill Gates’ new book released in 2014, Duty, is a scathing criticism of Washington’s inability to get things done --- shall we say --- because of hatred of enemies. As you know from Chapter 5 in this book, corruption and hatred are nothing new to Washington and its many federal agencies --- after all, people are people, regardless of their jobs. Washington is no different.
We have to look at the world’s events --- those both grand and trivial --- as God would, in the context of His Master Plan for humanity. Paul’s letters provide instruction to us on how to treat one another, whether Christian or not, which goes much deeper than differences in our respective Christian faiths. Our behavior, as Christians, must be such as to send the message of love of God’s truth as follows:To pray for the salvation of all men:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)(NASB)To be full of gentleness to all people:
When he was teaching Titus how to advise Christians on the island of Crete, the Apostle Paul wrote:
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. (Titus 3:1-3)(NASB)To honor all people:
Regardless of the religion of those who are around us, God tells us:
Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17)(NASB)
So it is, in fact, Biblical to seek common ground first among those whom have differences in their faiths, such as Christianity versus Islam or Christianity versus Judaism --- as a way to love one another. Christians are not to love only other Christians but all peoples in the world, whatever their faith or non-faith. Being a Christian (whether Catholic or Protestant) does not make one immune from sin as we are all sinners in need of salvation.
Yes, there are differences between Catholics and Protestants in the expression of their respective Christian faiths, just as there are policy differences between Republicans and Democrats; but to stay consistent with how the Bible instructs us to treat one another and God, we are to focus first on our common ground and to then pursue our common mission as defined in The Great Commandment and The Great Commission: to love God first and our neighbor as ourselves, and to then take Christ to the world out of love for our Christian and non-Christian neighbors alike. We are to take Christ to the world for the sake of their salvation as both Catholics and Protestants agree that the ONLY road to heaven --- eternal life --- is through a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Matthew 7:21 is a stark reminder of this reality: “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” This includes loving our enemies, whether they are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or nothing.
For Republicans and Democrats, their common ground is the Constitution, striving to do what is best for their constituents. In terms of common ground between Catholics and Protestants, there is none greater than the recitation every Sunday in every Catholic and Protestant church on the planet, The Nicene Creed, the core doctrine of Christianity:
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and The Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Nicene Creed unites us in a single faith of Christianity, the faith we are to take to all nations in the name of Christ. This is the roof under which all Catholics and Protestants dwell --- sort of like quarreling siblings, similar to how the apostles quarreled among themselves over who was the greatest among them. It’s not which of us is the greatest, it’s about who is the greatest of us --- Jesus Christ.
A primary purpose of our book is to find Biblical guidance and understanding on the context of loving our enemies, keeping in mind the big picture that our salvation does not per se depend on loving our enemies --- it depends on our authentic faith in Jesus Christ and nothing more or less. If we do not love our enemies, we sin --- because we are directly defying the command of Christ.
But we have to use our brains and common sense when we see why Christ issued this order in His Sermon On The Mount; it fits masterfully in His plan. You see, in the scheme of things it’s relatively easy to steal, commit adultery, lie, lust after our neighbors, take the name of God in vain, skip church on Sunday, dishonor our parents, or cheat in business; as sinners, most Christians do one or more of these things all the time. But forgiving and loving our enemies? That’s a little harder, because many of us can’t even forgive people we love when they offend us, much less forgive and love our hated enemies. Several Christian scholars have stated that they see loving our enemies as the pinnacle of Christian behavior in that it requires recognition of our own sinfulness and confession of guilt, forgiveness of those that hate us, love for those that persecute us, and reliance on Christ for resolution.
So we’re going to heaven, are we? Well, maybe and maybe not. All of us, including us as authors, are sinners and need the forgiveness and redemption that only Christ can offer. Remember what Christ says about heaven in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Of course, Jesus Christ himself is the narrow gate. This is yet another insight from Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount, which in effect is The Christian Handbook.
As many parables in the Bible show, we too are to forgive as
we are forgiven, and to love as we are loved by Christ. If we don’t forgive our enemies, we will not
be forgiven; if we do not love our enemies, we are not doing the will of our
Father in heaven. The truth is that if
we are honor Christ by loving our enemies, we must forgive and love them first,
not simply lip-sync the words “I love my enemies”. It must be authentic. True believers are the good trees that
produce good fruit, the true sheep who look to Christ, depend on Him, commit
themselves to Him, trust in Him, and believe on Him for righteousness,
salvation, and eternal life. These are the ones who will enter into the kingdom
of heaven. In the end, having a genuine --- not lip-service --- faith in Christ
AND loving our enemies means that we are doing our best to follow Christ and a
clear part of “picking up our cross”. Loving enemies is hard and difficult, but is a command that both
Catholics and Protestants --- Republicans and Democrats --- need to remember
and practice. As sinners, we will not
always succeed, but God honors those who “ask, seek, and knock” for ways to be
true followers of Christ. In sum, we are
to be the peacemakers that Christ speaks about in Matthew 5:7: “Blessed are the
peacemakers, for they shall be called children
Here in the real world of Catholics vs. Protestants and Republicans vs. Democrats, it seems to be a world far removed from that prescribed by Christ, where Christians love one another and reach out to non-Christians in a kind, compassionate, and truthful way. It may be that in this year of our Lord, 2014, The Great Divide is greater than ever, with record low approval ratings for Congress and church attendance continuing its downward slide --- in the USA and globally. In short, our world is a mess.
All of us, starting with us authors, need to understand the nature of The Great Divide within the context of God’s Master Plan and not simply throw up our hands in frustration. Our omniscient God is in full control and knows everything, and to everything there is a time and a place. While no one has a clue as to when Christ will return to establish a world of eternal peace --- many predictions have come and gone in recent years --- the timing of Christ’s Second Coming should not be our focus; instead, we should be focusing on picking up our crosses and following Christ daily with an authentic --- not perfect --- faith. We need to keep in mind that God is seeking affection, not perfection --- He wants a relationship with each one of us through Jesus Christ, who “desires to save all men” (1 Tim 2-4).
But in the rough-and-tumble, dog-eat-dog world we live in, where only the strong survive, not the meek, the image of “Christians” has become tarnished: from Jim Bakker to Jimmy Swaggart to Ted Haggard on the Protestant side to the many and varied child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, it seems that many prominent priests and pastors speak one thing but do another. This might be a good place to examine Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote: “I admire Christ, but not Christians”. Recent market surveys by the Barna Group reveal that many Americans, especially those in the 16-29 age range, describe most Christians as hypocrites, and this research was cited in the 2007 book, unChristian.
Perceptions of politicians are no better. A 2014 Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that only eight percent (8%) of Likely U.S. Voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job, an all-time low. Just 16% of voters think Congress over the past year has passed any legislation that will significantly improve life in America --- in spite of the recent Obamacare legislation. Many Americans see the severe, no-compromise division between Republicans and Democrats as the core cause of the problem. In an annual profile of Congress by the Congressional Research Service, most members of Congress identify themselves as Christians, and Protestants collectively constitute the majority religious affiliation. Roman Catholics account for the largest single religious denomination, and numerous other affiliations are represented. So if the majority of Congress are Christian, and if they were to follow the command of Christ to love our enemies as best they could, America would likely have a much more productive and faithful Congress. Yes, easier said than done, but one of our goals in publishing this book is to provide a copy to every Christian member of Congress so that, in their ongoing efforts, they might become more aware that they are not in charge of America’s future --- God is --- and it is only through being faithful to His commands that genuine progress will be made. Recent efforts by certain politicians to “get God out of the public square” in the name of religious freedom runs counter to the philosophy of our God-fearing founding fathers, a philosophy that put God front and center in America.
So where does that leave us in terms of The Great Divide? In one of his most famous sermons, The Drum Major, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about The Drum Major instinct --- the desire to be first and out in front of the rest --- also known as ego ---and how it was at the core of division between people and nations; to a large degree, Dr. King was correct. Most people tend to be, by nature, self-centered and self-serving, but we can also rise above this instinct toward a desire to serve God and our neighbor in spiritual maturity. Dr. King did not mention loving your enemies directly in his sermon, but he did point out the example of Jesus Christ, the ultimate servant of others. If all of us could reshape our attitudes from self-serving to God-serving, as mentioned by Dr. King, we would not only be living lives more in tune with God but would be doing our best to love our neighbors and our enemies --- and conquering The Great Divide.My Personal View Like the other lessons we see in this book, The Great Divide crosses lines, for we are not just Democrats and Republicans, we are also Catholic, Protestant, or other faiths. You see, our faith generally permeates our overall attitudes and therefore our politics, our family relationships, and pretty much all spheres of life. But because we have witnessed in 2014 the highest levels ever of Congressional discord combined with the expansive presence of social media, deeper lines of division have never been drawn between Republicans and Democrats. And on the religious side of things, Catholics on many fronts continue their “holier than thou” attitudes while many Protestants remain defiant that “their way” is better. Given this situation, unless we can follow the example of Jesus Christ and become a true peacemaker --- having love for our enemies as Christ did on the cross --- we are likely to experience a life of conflict, stress, and sin. I have not only experienced The Great Divide politically, I have also faced the Divide personally. As one who have spent much of my life both as a Catholic and then as a born again, Spirit-filled Christian, and yes in both situations I have noticed some persecution or dislike for my beliefs.
I suspect I have felt most of the persecution from the apparently unsaved since I have entered the group known as an evangelical Christian but I expect that should be expected. The reason I say that is since I have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and with my lips confessed to that relationship, I know I have been much more bold in speaking about that relationship and my desire to bring others to Him.
Not only that, but the fact that I am much more likely to lay hands on a person for God’s healing power than I ever was as a Catholic, and it doesn’t matter whether it be in a Denny’s restaurant or in a home or church or business, especially since I sought the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.
I really feel that one aspect of my spirituality has placed me in an almost adversarial relationship even with some other Catholics or Christians, even in my own family. That part is sad, but slightly understandable when you look at some very religious persons in the Book of Acts where the early Christians were thought to be nuts or demon possessed by other religious leaders of that time as they were speaking I tongues and seemed more radical to the other spiritual leaders.
I really felt much of my battle with the FDA occurred because I was willing to stand up for my Christian faith. There are so many other examples, but just let me say it does occur, and it gives the true follower of Jesus Christ, whether Catholic or Protestant, an opportunity of showing Christ’s love to the world.
Another area where it is most pronounced is when there is a devout Christian spouse married to an unbeliever. That can especially becomes exaggerated when a divorce occurs, and it can affect the children greatly. I suspect in my own family, where a son is a Catholic Bishop appointed by Pope Benedict, that there might be a little misunderstanding of my being a born again, Spirit-filled, evangelical, tongue-speaking Christian and not a follower of Catholicism. The important thing is that we be born again Christians.
But each one of us needs to be led by the Holy Spirit and to hopefully have a very personal relationship with our Lord and Savior. I felt the need to have a very personal relationship with God the Father and His Son and for me that led me to become an evangelical Christian so that I might carry out the ministry God was leading me into and was showing me the calling. But to each his own.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter if one is a Catholic or Protestant, what really matters is have we made Jesus the Lord of our lives by repentance and then, do as it says in Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” In my own life before I was born again while learning to fly the Citation jet aircraft, I had never openly, with my own lips, declared Jesus as my Lord and Savior. When I did the whole Christian world and much more revelation opened up to me. After my baptism in the Holy Spirit It was like going from an electrical current of 110 volts to the more powerful 220 volt line. What a difference.
As we live our lives dedicated to Christ, it does matter that we stay faithful to His Holy Spirit guiding and calling for our lives on this Earth.
I have been blessed to live nearly 90 years so far, and if I should be here longer, then I do want to stay close to my Father in heaven and seek His forgiveness for whatever sin I may have even unknowingly committed.
Yes, I know, it’s a bit late in life as a born-again Christian to come to the realization that we must forgive and love our enemies, but, I think of it like the icing on the cake of Christianity. I hope this is true for you too, dear reader, as well. I feel that after all of these years of living, that I have a more complete under-standing of His love and the call on each of us to stand in love for those who might not quite be treating us well, be co-workers, family or outright enemies. We must always be seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
For me, it is in this knowledge that I know how I can take the next step even in difficult or trying moments. We may never have matured totally in our Christian walk, but with His love residing within us we have the ability to come a bit closer to the walk that Jesus walked while on this earth.Lesson 8 The Great Question
Now, dear reader, that you have read through this amazing journey of life, down a long and winding road, I hope that it has given you some new things to think about. Even though I am approaching 90 years of age, I too have realized how short life is and how important it is to follow Christ and His amazing example.
Herein lies The Great Question: Have you given your life to Christ? And when I say give, I truly mean give --- heart and soul. Many of the prosperity ministers of today have this idea of “name it and claim it” Christianity, but it couldn’t be further from Biblical truth if it wanted to be; sadly, this “get rich” mentality is gross distortion of the “abundant life” that Christ refers to in John 10:10, meaning instead that we can have a rich spiritual life --- a connection with God --- that will provide rewards that last forever. Think back to how Christ described loving the Lord your God with all of your heart, your mind, and your soul, and loving your neighbor as yourself --- these are the keys to the kingdom, not the self-serving declarations to get “what God wants me to have.” God wants you to have a trusting relationship with Jesus Christ --- not all the money and riches of this world --- as seen in the parable of the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-30).
The Biblical View
In the Bible, we are told in John 14:6 that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that “no one comes unto the Father except by Him.” Regardless of your faith background, Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the one way --- and the only way --- to eternal life, and a HUGE part of our purpose on Earth is to spread this gospel or “good news” to all nations, to all the world. Christians are to love and respect all peoples from all backgrounds --- Jewish, Islam, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. It also means we are to reach out to other Christians who DO NOT love their enemies and are practicing an incomplete form of Christianity, which we all do to some extent, but by reaching out to them with the message in The Enemy Camp we can help them realize the importance of this command from Christ and do their best to incorporate it into their lives. Like the Parable of the Sower in the Bible, Matthew 13:1-9, Jesus shows that not all who hear the Word of God will be moved to take action, but that those who do will receive an eternal return on their investment beyond belief. We cannot as individuals save people by sharing the Gospel, but the Holy Spirit can. Our job is to spread the Word and leave the rest to Him, to the power of God. Some will accept our message, and some will reject it, even other Christians, perhaps feeling that they don’t need to love their enemies, that they are “good enough” as they are. However, if you’ve had a chance to listen to the CD enclosed with The Enemy Camp, We Will Be Alright, you may now get a more complete understanding of what Christ meant in His Sermon On the Mount when he said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:7). We are to love our God and our Neighbor not just with words, but truly with “all our might” --- which includes loving our enemies with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are to give it our all, our very best effort. Have you been pursuing the Christian life with all your might?
To be perfectly honest, the world tells us to tolerate all peoples and all faiths with our new age philosophy, that “I’m OK, You’re OK.” This means that there are millions of ways to reach God and eternal life, whether it be through self-inspection, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, or no religion at all --- that God will bless and receive all peoples of all time --- also known as Pantheism. This is a trend seen across the board in modern media.
This worldview, unfortunately, while seemingly tolerant and loving to all faiths or no-faiths, is actually a disservice to all from the perspective of Christianity, the one and only faith whose leader, Jesus Christ, has risen from the dead. Jesus is the very author of life itself, so it is right and just that His followers are following the Truth. So while Christianity and its beliefs fly in the face of the “modern tolerance” of today’s culture, it is in reality the MOST TOLERANT AND LOVING of all faiths, teaching us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Which of the other major faiths teach us to love our enemies? Only Christianity. Which of the other faiths desire to save ALL MEN through love? Only Christianity. Which of the other faiths teach respect and love for all faiths as they profess their truth? Only Christianity.
So, dear reader, we encourage you to do your homework, to investigate whether or not what “the world” tells you --- that all religions are good, that they all deliver an eternity with God --- is true. Remember that Christ called Satan, The Great Enemy, the “prince of this world”, meaning that his influence on humans is far and wide in this world, causing confusion and chaos in the minds of millions. The good news from Christ is truly good news --- the confusion and chaos in your world can end today, right now, by turning your heart, soul and mind over to Jesus Christ. Regardless of your faith or non-faith background and history, no matter what you have done in your life up to this point, He is waiting with open arms to accept you!
Our Personal View
From all the ups and downs and victories and defeats in our lives, a great part of the mystery of life has arisen, that we must fully give our lives to Christ and to love our neighbor, including our enemies. To do anything less than this means being less than a true Christian. As Christians, we also know there will be a Judgment Day at which time Christ will be our judge. If we have loved God but not our enemies, Christ will arrange our rewards accordingly.
If you are a professing Christian, I urge you to give this matter serious time and consideration --- loving your enemies. Not in terms of lip service, but in terms of a genuine concern for those who persecute, slander, and gossip about you in fully derogatory terms. Your heart must be changed through the power of the Holy Spirit, for there is no other power on Earth that can effect such a change. If we were capable of doing it ourselves, we would have likely done it long ago. As a normal person nearing the end of this life’s journey, I hope you will think long and hard about not just worshipping and praising God, which is wonderful, but worshipping and loving God while ALSO sincerely praying for the welfare of your worst enemies in life. If you praise God while still hating your enemies and praying for their destruction, you’ve somehow missed the point. I am not saying you don’t hate sin, but you must realize that we are all sinners and yet Jesus came to be the perfect sacrificial lamb whose blood would cover our sin. He can do the same for our enemies if they, too, like us confess Him as their very Lord.
Please don’t misunderstand. The main point of this book --- loving your enemies --- is a critical step of true Christianity. Without it, your Christianity is incomplete….which is why we refer to loving our enemies as the Missing Link. There is nothing wrong with praying for God’s justice when wrongs or crimes have been committed by your enemies, but in your heart you must also forgive them their trespasses and ask God to have mercy on them and leave eternal justice to Him.
Does this mean we are to simply look the other way when we witness crimes in the church or in society at large? Absolutely not. If we are to honor those in authority over us --- enforcers of the law --- we must do our duty as good citizens to prevent further harm --- from child abuse to embezzlement to rape. But herein lays the point of the book --- to love our enemies regardless of the harm they do to us or others. Yes, we may report them to the authorities if we have witnessed genuine crimes of hatred, violence or otherwise, but we will also pray to God for His mercy, that they be judged fairly and wisely. Criminals today may or may not get away with murder, as they sometimes do in a good but still flawed legal system, but they will never escape the eternal justice of God --- where they --- and we --- will get exactly what each deserves.
I struggled with this concept for many years, and it was only recently that I came to terms with it, despite being a professing “Christian” for decades, perhaps like you. Earlier in my life I did try to “forgive” my enemies, but I would never forget what they did and would hold a grudge regardless. What I have learned is that if we truly do forgive, like our Heavenly Father, we also forget, as He forgets our sins. I thank Jesus every day for breaking my old, hardened, vengeful spirit into one that is more like Him: forgiving, forgetting, and forging ahead.
Don’t be deceived by Satan, our Great Enemy and the source of all things evil. He wants you to think your enemies are your physical enemies, but they are not, because Satan is not --- he is a spiritual being as are his demons, as is God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The battle is being fought in the spiritual world, not the physical one.
Have you really given your life to Jesus? If not, I encourage you right here and right now to begin your journey with this single step of prayer, borrowed from Billy Graham:
“O God, I am a sinner. I repent of my sins. Forgive me and help me turn from my sin. I acknowledge what You have done on the cross for me and receive Your Son, Jesus Christ, as my Savior. I confess Him as my Lord. Give me faith to believe and trust as You lead me into obedience, relying on You for all things. Thank You for redeeming me and making me Your disciple. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I pray, dear reader, that you have taken this first step and will re-think where your life has been and where it can go now, thanks to following Christ and modeling your life after His, including loving your enemies, something you may have never done or thought about before.
It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic, Protestant, or nothing at all ---giving your life to Jesus Christ and learning to love your enemies.
Feel free to email us with your thoughts and/or problems in life, for we are always here to help:
Dr. Bob Christensen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank M. Harritt, MBA, email@example.com
Now, dear reader, if you have made it this far, congratulations! I hope you have enjoyed your journey to the Land of Greatness; as you may recall, even the apostles argued about which of them would be “greatest” and which ones could “have seats by Christ” in heaven. You may also recall that Jesus reminded them that true greatness was comprised of service, not success. So if you want to build things of maximum value in eternity with God, you need to provide maximum service here on Earth.
John Newton, the composer of Amazing Grace, the most popular and well-know Christian hymn of all time that was originally published in 1779, said the following toward the end of his life: ”My memory is almost gone. But I remember two things: I am a great sinner, and Jesus is a great Savior.”
Like Mr. Newton, we too are great sinners in our modern times, perhaps in some ways much worse than Mr. Newton. In this digital age where technology rules our day, it seems like modern culture is falling further and further away from God and His Ways, so getting back to God means getting back to the basics --- loving our God and our neighbor with all our might. If all we are is token or in-name-only Christians, then the only things we can realistically expect in heaven will be token rewards. It really is time to bite the bullet and become true Christians and true followers of Christ.
It has been an honor and privilege for us authors to share our life experiences and to hopefully share a key lesson --- loving our enemies --- that we ourselves learned later in life, similar in some ways to famous Biblical characters that were called by God late in life like Abraham, Elizabeth, and Moses. We don’t understand why God chose to reveal this lesson from the Holy Spirit at this point in time, but we are grateful and humbled to accept it in the hope that we can help others by sharing it.
We do live in a messed-up and messy world today despite the “amazing” advances in the fields of communications and medical technologies, amongst others. God has blessed us with these gifts, but in the wrong hands technology can become a weapon of Satan, such as the internet. Christ is still the Light of the World, and we as Christians are still called to carry this Light to everyone, including our enemies, to become true peacemakers like Christ. We know that, as in the parable of the Sower, many will hear our message and either turn away completely or only give us momentary attention and then turn away and/or reject us. But we also know that, as in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God our Father waits for all of mankind with open arms to accept the invitation to eternal life through Christ. So there is nothing now, or ever, as “amazing” as the Amazing Grace of God, grace that we don’t deserve or can ever earn in our own self-centered lives. John Newton was right.
In the end, our message is about learning to love our enemies and in the process to become a peacemaker like Jesus. If we can transform our minds and hearts to honor God by loving all of his children, even those that seek to destroy us, then we will truly be on the road to heaven. Amen!References “What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could 'be like gods'—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves...invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
-C. S. Lewis
“Life isn’t about how well we’ve served ourselves; it’s about how well we’ve served God by serving your fellow man.”
- Dr. R.W. Christensen
“Put down your sword. Don’t go after their heads, go after their hearts --- with prayer.”
- F. M. Harritt
“God never twists justice; he never fails to do what is right. Your children must have sinned against God, and so he punished them as they deserved. But turn now and plead with Almighty God; if you are so honest and pure, then God will come and help you and restore your household as your reward. All the wealth you lost will be nothing compared with what God will give you then. Look for a moment at ancient wisdom; consider the truths our ancestors learned. Our life is short, we know nothing at all; we pass like shadows across the earth. But let the ancient wise people teach you; listen to what they had to say: "Reeds can't grow where there is no water; they are never found outside a swamp. If the water dries up, they are the first to wither, while still too small to be cut and used. Godless people are like those reeds; their hope is gone, once God is forgotten.
-Job 8:3-13Pope Frances’ Homily at Mass: The hard lesson of loving our enemies
Post Script by Author
In reviewing this book I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about how the three of us authors had met.
After the closing of our medical device company in 2010, I was attempting to figure out what the Lord was going to have me do. Since I had written and published a number of Christian books, mostly about marriage, I felt I was to write a book which would tell the tale, as best I could, of what happened to our medical device company which we had founded in 1987. Some of that story is part of one or more earlier chapters and does not need to be retold here. It is also told fully in my 2012 book titled, FDA You Were WRONG!
Back to 2010 I decided to get a small one room office in a small medical type building here in Arvada. I set up the desks and computers needed and began my new career as an author. Over the next few months I had written several books with the more important one being, FDA You Were WRONG!
In accomplishing the task of book writing I was in need of many office supplies and became a frequent visitor at the local Office Depot. In my visits to the store, I met many people and became friends of a couple. I truly believe God has orchestrated those meetings and the friendships and working relationships which developed.
One was with Lenaya Casados who had just been employed by Office Depot to work in Sales with the people visiting the actual store.
It was at one of my frequent visits I noticed Lenaya standing near a counter and we began by saying hello. Something was said which let me know this was a second job for this young single mother of her 9 year old daughter, Alexandra, whom she was homeschooling. In speaking with her I found out that her main occupation was that of medical transcriptionist, which perked my interest, as I was always fascinated by the accuracy of these medical transcribers with the messages we doctors were giving to them about some surgery or other treatment on a specific patient.
In my discussions with her I asked the question, would she have any interest in helping me with my book writing? Her answer was yes. We decided that we would give it a try with her adding to her already overloaded work day. As I mentioned, she home schooled her 9 year old daughter, Alexandra and lived with her mother and stepfather. She had a very full plate, but a very pleasant personality and desire to help.
Two and a half years later, Lenaya has helped me re-edit all 23 of my books for Amazon and Kindle and other publishers. It would not have been possible if God had not arranged for that very special meeting in Office Depot with this lovely young woman who has never charged me a penny for her most professional assistance. I am more than grateful. She has become a dear Christian friend for me and my wife, Lynne.
The second person I met by a most unusual consequence was a gentleman named Frank Harritt. Again, it was most interesting how we first came to say hello. Again, only God could have orchestrated this most blessed meeting. While I was finalizing my FDA book I was having Office Depot print me up copies of the various drafts of the book for my editing and review. I was not allowing anyone to see what the book was about or the title of the book. On this particular visit to Office Depot I was working with an earlier copy of the book when I spotted a middle aged business man coming up behind me. I quickly turned over the cover page so it would not be seen and read. Wrong! He read it already and asked me what the book was about?
After learning he was a business man with some experience in the medical device area, I felt I could discuss some facets of the problem with him. We sat on a couple of chairs for probably some 20 -30 minutes as I unfolded the story about TMJ Implants, Inc., Bob Christensen and the FDA. He was fascinated.
From that point I found that he was attempting to start his own small business and needed a small office to help him get started. I asked him if he would like to share mine at no cost to him, and his answer was yes. I had an extra desk space in the office and much of what he wanted to do was to do with a book he was writing on the subject of diabetes. So, again, God allowed a short conversation in Office Depot to blossom into a lifetime of friendship, mentoring and cooperation.
Frank has his MBA and has had quite a career in business, receiving large commendations from some of the largest American corporations. I was needing some of his expertise as I was moving down a path or two attempting to fulfill whatever course or plan God would have for the rest of our lives. It was interesting in relationship with this particular book that Frank and his wife, Lyna, had just endured some distinct persecution from the Pastor and others in a Christian Church. This was a church they had functioned in leadership for quite a number of years. Again, we all have times when we must learn how to forgive and to even love our enemies. He and his wife were having to learn the very lessons we have addressed in this book, The Enemy Camp.
It was Frank who came up with the idea and title for this book, which may turn out to be my last book. I am believing it may well be one of the more important books that I have helped to write. I am indebted to both Frank and Lenaya for their friendship, their loyalty, their wisdom and certainly their inspiration and help in the writing this book. I believe we all have had fun working on this book and we all have been learning exactly what our Lord Jesus was commanding that we do, love our enemies. In many similar ways each of us has been going through some rather difficult moments of either rejection or disappointments or need, and each of us has been encouraged by each other to walk our paths in forgiveness and love.
A New Path Is Developing
During this past year a rather interesting opportunity began to develop, which if it comes to fruition, will involve my wife and my two newer friends and even me. Knowing of my desire to help patients who are suffering from varying degrees of problems with their temporomandibular joints, it had to be the Lord who began to show me how we might have a powerful outreach to help these patients and the doctors who treat them.
I had always felt that my influence in the new company which took over our TMJ company, which Lynne and I had founded in 1987, and which succumbed to bankruptcy in 2010, would be the avenue through which my waning year’s efforts might be used. I believe God had another plan since the owners of the new company shunned my desire to still contribute to their company and even forbid me from even entering the facility or having discussions with any of my former employees. That truly was the most serious rejection I had ever felt, but somehow the Lord was showing me how to walk His path in love toward those who rejected me. It seems that something different would be happening, but what?
In the early part of the year 2013, as the U.S. was going through a tremendous amount of upheaval in the medical realm, and costs and regulations were and would be soaring, the development of an entity called medical tourism had started. It would be this competitive force which would allow patients, for all types of medical treatments, to travel outside of the U.S. or Canada to receive excellent care and at reduced costs.
I was given the idea that a surgical center devoted to the type of TMJ surgery I had innovated, might be possible in Costa Rica. But why Costa Rica? The answer might be found in several ways.
A local surgeon I knew had been corresponding with a recently organized medical tourism team in Costa Rica. The team all had roots in the United States meaning the language would not be an impediment. Would I be interested in meeting with some of the principals in that organization? After some discussions regarding the pros and cons of entertaining such an idea, Lynne and I decided to travel to San Jose, CR to learn more. Long story short, we felt there was a promising future in some sort of joint project which would involve Lynne, Frank and Lenaya along with the various entities already functioning in Costa Rica and the United states. My part, because of my age and energy, would be as surgical consultant. I could teach the surgeons the particulars of this type of surgery.
So, as the year 2014 gets started, the efforts of the varying players in starting the TMJ Center of Excellence of Costa Rica are all in full force. It will be most interesting to see how our Lord helps brings this venture forth, and how each of these dear players are used to further this idea. Only time will tell. I have met with the lead surgeons of CR who are anxious to walk with us in this venture.
There is an interesting story in the Bible which tells of a time when David was at what appeared the end of his rope because of King Saul giving him such an awful time, the Lord gathered around him his mighty men. These were originally the mal-contempts, a ragged army, which under God and David’s direction became David’s mighty army. I must say as I have had the opportunity of working with my two friends I have been able to see the three or four of us as the beginning of God’s mighty army. It has been very exciting to watch for this 90 old surgeon as a whole new and exciting adventure begins to unfold, and always dedicated to our Lord.
Over the years as I have led two medical device companies from infancy to where we had some 39 employees and I see many parallelisms between this new walk and what happened before. All I can say is: only the Lord could be leading and blessing this new walk that He has place us on. In each case, there was never enough money to accomplish what was occurring. Today they speak of it costing some $95 million to start a Class III medical device company in the United States. Lynne and I started with $10,000 some 25 years ago, and built two medical device companies. We just didn’t know any better, because we were following exactly what the Lord had shown me back in 1983. With the Costa Rican medical venture, again we are starting with no money, but we have faith God will show us how and He is and will be bringing along the army that is needed.
Testimony of Bob Christensen
Having written so many books with Christian themes you would have thought I might have considered this book. It was Frank Harritt who prompted me to help tell this story.
As I remembered so many times in my life that I have had to walk through some very hurtful moments I knew that there was still much that I was holding on to. It was in reviewing the very words which Jesus spoke, that my outlook and forgiveness began to take a new path.
“You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” -
I realized though the FDA had been very hurtful to me and also the new owner’s takeover of the company I founded and then excluding me from any relationship with the staff or patients or even the doctors I had served all my life. These were most hurtful and yet Jesus was asking me to walk in love to all who had appeared to be in the enemy camp and against me.
As we worked on this book I realized more and more that the hurts I was feeling was nothing compared to what Jesus went through, being the perfect lamb, to pay the price for my sin. If Jesus could do that, for me a sinner, my part to live out this life would be a walk in the park and so I let His love take the place of what I was feeling and began to face each day as a new beginning to show His love to the world through my life.
It is my hope and prayer that you, as you read this book, will to be encouraged to forgive and love those who may have caused you much grief and harm, in the manner which Jesus prescribes. Then, the world will be touched by His love pouring through your life.
HE is the Boss!
Testimony of Frank Harritt: The Great Step
Life is a funny thing --- it seldom goes the way we think it should, and it often seems grossly unfair; yes, we all have our occasional “glory days” or even “glory decades”, but in the light of eternity our tiny victories disappear quickly. What counts --- and what stays --- are the matters of eternal significance, such as how obedient we have been to God. These things will last forever.
Loving our enemies is a matter of eternal significance, yet we rarely hear it spoken in our churches, with a few exceptions here and there. Few Christians that I know, myself included, have made a practice of loving our enemies as we are commanded to do by Christ. Many Christians do good things such as attending church, feeding the poor, and singing in the choir --- but how many of these same “Christians” actually love their enemies? From my count --- and I was a parish business manager for six years --- the numbers are slim to none. So the writing of this book, with real life examples coming from one of the best and brightest minds in the world of TMJ surgery, Dr. Bob Christensen, has been a powerful eye-opener for me as well, not just revealing my own lack of love for my enemies but the fact that I continued to carry on a personal crusade against my enemies as an “agent of God’s justice”. How can we call ourselves “Christian” and also carry hatred for our enemies? It happens every day of the week.
This book ultimately gave me a deeper understanding of what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:7 when he said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Virtually all of Paul’s letters and the New Testament direct us toward becoming people of patience, tolerance, and love toward all, not just our Christian neighbors, though they are included. Loving our enemies, those who slander, defile, and persecute us, is not only a Great Step toward Christian maturity, as we are directed by The Great Commandment, it is a Great Step toward heaven.
Testimony of Lenaya Casados
In all my years, I have not thought much about how consuming hatred is; how being unforgiving has molded who I am. How are we to walk around with all this anger and fear bottled up inside of us and expect with our mistakes to be forgiven? The lesson in this book, The Enemy Camp, has helped me to understand what it means to become a Christian, and how important it is for me to learn to forgive, love and pray for those in my past; regardless of the role they have played in my life. Understanding that following our “select” commandments based on what we think is the most important, will not make any one a good Christian; but following all the commandments of our Lord, Jesus Christ; including: love thy neighbor.
A Pard To Ride The River With
Bob in late 1930s on a registered Arab horse purchased as a colt at auction from Hearst Ranch in San Simeon. Bob and his brother Charles broke horse to be a cowpony for use on the Julian ranch. The poem reads as follows:
A Pard To Ride the River With
By Jack Blease, 1999
Two rode together,
Though sometimes different trails
And when they got together,
They shared their cowboy tales.
One rode his as a young man,
The other later days.
Yet there’s no doubt the two of them,
Both loved their cowboy ways.
I love to hear their stories,
And listen to their songs.
When they relive those old time ,
I could listen all night long.
There’s something that they know about,
That only a cowboy knows.
And the lessons that these cowboys learned,
Still follow them ‘til today.
Today they’re riding different trails,
But serving the same Trail Boss.
Though both have brands for earthly goods,
They both ride for the Cross.
We don’t know what tomorrow brings,
And yesterday is past.
But these two cowboys, Bob and Jack
Know a friendship that will last.
So here’s to two compadres,
Cowboys, Pards and Friends.
I hope the day’s not too far off,
When they ride together again.
I had forgotten about some of what happened during this time until I started recalling it for this book. Jack Blease was a cowboy poet well known in the cattle country of Colorado and Wyoming. I had employed jack for a period in my medical device company back in the 1990s. At one point he and a young lady by the name of Ruscilla were going to be married in a little old fashioned white church with a steeple out in the middle of nowhere.
Jack and Ruscilla asked me if I would marry them, so being both Lynne and I were ordained as Christian ministers, we accepted. So the plan was that Jack and I would get dressed up in some of our old time western gear, yet suitable for a wedding, and would ride two horses to the church and arrive before the bride and her entourage.
Then, Jack and I would enter the church and wait for the bride to arrive. It was a great wedding occasion enjoyed by it all. So the two Pards did get to ride again.
The Lord’s Prayer;
The words of this prayer, although we are not necessarily encouraged to recite this prayer as we are to use them as a guideline for prayer and living our lives, people do not take the time to understand the interpretation of them.
Going along with the theme of this book, The Enemy Camp, a line in The Lord’s Prayer asks our Father for forgiveness and goes on to say, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
As we say this prayer, those words escape our lips while we may ignore their very meaning.
This is the very essence and the lesson of this book: we must not only forgive, but love and pray for those who have wronged us, as we ask God for his forgiveness for our actions against others.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be they name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory.
for ever and ever.
Other books by Dr. Christensen
A Heart for God
David vs Goliath
Faith, Love and Hope
FDA, You Were Wrong!
Fighting the Battle for Others
For the First Time in My Life
Innovation...The Missing Link
Just Remembering…A Surgeon Recalling the Past
Miracles Along the Way
On My Heart
Run To Win
Satan, You Are Not Stealing My Marriage!
Standing In Love, A Guide to Repairing A Broken Marriage
The Breaking Point
The Calling of God On Your Life
The Face of God
The Sea Gull and the Pigeon
Turning Earthly Profits into Eternal Rewards
Unleashing the Power of covenant
When You Say I Do, God Says I Will
Why I Chose to Believe in My Marriage Healing