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  • Abraham Lincoln on Criticism

    "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
  • Consider the Cost

    "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." ~Winston Churchill
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  • Charles Spurgeon

    "Our blessed Lord reveals himself to his people more in the valleys, in the shades, in the deeps, than he does anywhere else. He has a way and an art of showing himself to his children at midnight, making the darkness light by his presence."
  • Progress through Perseverance

    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or whether the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight of life, knowing neither victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
  • Psalm 7:10-17

    God will uncase the hypocrites ere long, and make them know, to their sorrow, what is was to trifle with Him." - Richard Baxter
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  • The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter

    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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Joshua’s Spiritual Warfare by Thomas B. Clarke

Joshua’s Spiritual Warfare is a book written by Thomas B. Clarke. This book is not for the casual reader, and though I found the book a little hard to read, I determined to take my time and weed through it to glean the most important information he had to share. Chiastic structure, the subject of his book, intrigues me. My first experience with chiastic structure was in a Beth Moore Bible study. In Joshua’s Spiritual Warfare, he has focused on the patterns in Joshua and used them to point out what God says about spiritual warfare and how they can be managed by the use of His Scripture.

Mr. Clarke read my post about how Beth Moore pointed out chiastic structure in the book of Esther and offered his book to me for review.  If you are the type of person who likes to study the Word by delving deeper than most, and enjoy dividing the Word of God word by word, thought by thought, then this might be the book for you. I was disappointed that it was not solely KJV, though he did make reference many times to it. He used mostly the NIV, which most don’t consider to be a good translation. That said as my disclaimer, I do believe his comparisons to be very helpful.

One of the most interesting statements he made in the book had to do with anger. Having raised some “interesting” children, I’ve always wondered how to defeat anger. It seemed the more I tried to reason with the angry child, the hotter they got. The only solution seemed to be letting them sit alone until they cooled off. Thought it didn’t seem to be the best solution, it was the only one that worked. Anger is such a controller and can maim relationships in a flash, and over time can alienate and destroy a person and those close to them.

In chapter 10, Clarke discusses the chiasm in verses 1-28. His study pairs (A) verse 1 where Ai was totally destroyed by Joshua’s army with (A) verse 28 where Makkedah is totally destroyed as well by Joshua’s army. Then he pairs (B) verses 2-6 where the five Amorite kings attack Gibeon with (B) verses 16-27 where the five Amorite kings are killed. The center (C) verses 7-10 where the Lord defeats the king’s army by confusion are paired with (C) verses 11-15 where the Lord defeats the king’s army by supernatural events.  The pattern is an A-A, B-B, C-C pattern where you take the first and last together, the second and fifth sets of verses are paired and then lastly the two middle sections are paired, showing the main point to be the center of the group of verses, a C – C combination.

Put simply, the two cities are totally destroyed (A-A) with the focus on the 5 kings (B-B), and the demise of their armies by the Lord (C-C) becomes the main point. I’ve used the same patterning to parse other Scripture myself and find it to be quite enlightening – it’s like finding a hidden treasure.

Now, back to anger. Clarke used the story in Joshua 10:1-28 to demonstrate how anger protects a ruling spirit, a demon. When the kings lost their armies, their only choice was to flee because they were left exposed and unprotected. This is much like how when the demons are a ruling spirit in a person’s life. When their army (a spirit of anger) is extinguished, the ruling spirit (the demon) must flee.  The demon = the king, their army = anger. No army (anger), no protection. Anger actually is the protecting element of a demon who is actually the controlling spirit behind the anger. Hence, when we deal with an angry person, we ought to know that there is a controlling demon behind the anger.

I’ll leave the rest of the book for you to experience if you want to know more. Mr. Clarke sent me the book to give an honest review, as I have so done. Thank you for the book. I will definitely be looking for chiastic structure in future Bible study.

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When Senior Pastors Abuse Church Staff

I ran across this article when checking out the Barnabas Group a few years ago, a nonprofit organization that has researched church conflict and works with church staff to promote  healthy church environments. The author, John Setser, lives here in Appleton, WI.  He’s one of the few who “get it” and don’t buy into the belief that church staff are underlings or that they’re there to be used to promote personal agendas. Of course, I don’t believe all pastors fit into that category, for I’ve met some amazing men who walk in the Spirit and love others as Christ does, regardless of who they are.

If I were overly cynical, I would have no desire to continue my commitment to work in ministry.  I do still desire to serve in a church, to glorify God, to see the world evangelized and Christians taught and edified. John Setser’s ministry to church staff helped me keep my perspective. When I said I’m not “overly cynical,” I am admitting there is a bit of cynicism, but just enough to keep my eyes open –  enough to hopefully prevent future mistakes in judgement when it comes to choosing what ministry I’ll tie myself to. I included the entire article because it’s worth the read. Hopefully it will comfort some, answering questions that have lurked at the back of their minds over the years, and give a better perspective to others who might be  personally caught up in the abuse.

When Senior Pastors Abuse Church Staff

By John Setser

Trust Injuries and Mistreatment by Senior Pastors

My friend served a large church for many years as a lay leader. He decided to embrace ministry as a vocation. With the pastor’s encouragement, he took Bible courses, quit his job, and joined the church staff as a full-time assistant pastor.

Soon after he joined the staff, the senior pastor asked him to deliver the closing remarks following a guest speaker’s sermon. My friend had never done this. He assumed the senior pastor would assist if needed. The pastor, however, did not assist and the closing was a disaster. The senior pastor rebuked him publically.

My friend slunk away to an empty room and sat alone in stunned silence. Soon another staff member found him. Apparently, the senior pastor had a history of setting up associates to fail so he could render forceful on-the-spot correction.

A leader my friend loved and respected traumatized him. This incident caused him to be watchful; he sustained what I call a trust injury.

A trust injury occurs when a person of authority or relational significance harms a person under his care. The trust injury experienced by my friend was his mistreatment by his senior pastor. A trust injury is an encroachment, offense, or violation that causes an associate to experience a psycho-emotional wound. A wounded associate feels damaged by the one he trusted to represent and extend God’s love.

A growing number of staff associates endure mistreatment at the hands of senior pastors. Senior pastor mistreatment does not occur when he corrects mistakes, enforces policy, or fires a staff employee due to cutbacks or incompetence. Senior pastor mistreatment occurs when senior pastors knowingly or unknowingly abuse power, break boundaries, and shatter trust.

Abused associates leave their places of ministry confused, despondent, and discouraged. They wonder how such abuse can happen in a place that is expected to be a model Christ’s love and healing power. They need answers, and they need healing. Providing answers will help them recover.

Wounding Agents

A senior pastor may not plan to be a wounding agent. A called, competent, and qualified senior pastor, however, can become a wounding agent — sometimes without realizing it. Senior pastors who wound others are not born; they are made.

Toxic Churches

A toxic church often mistreats staff associates. A toxic church exists when doing becomes more important than being. People in a toxic church believe their service to God is keeping church systems functioning. They believe God’s blessing results in bigger budgets for bigger buildings to accommodate more people. Looking successful replaces love as the key ingredient.

A healing church speaks of Christ residing in people, not in buildings or programs. This kind of church encourages participants to be genuine, not appearance-oriented or performance-driven. When churches emphasize loving, caring, and being, staff associates can enjoy being part of a healing organization.

Bill was in a church leadership program that promised mentoring by the senior pastor, Bible studies, and a closer walk with Jesus. Once on the job, however, the senior pastor expected him to facilitate the church’s promotional agenda. He was working for a corporate-minded leader intent on developing a growth-oriented organization. He ended his internship and stopped attending church. He loved God, but no longer viewed church as a safe place.

Staff members looking to make things better can make problems worse. Senior pastors can brand associates who offer too many suggestions or seek to change the program as rebellious and disloyal. Senior pastors routinely discipline or terminate them. If they report their mistreatment, district officials often do not act on these reports because they tend to support incumbent pastors.

Survival Skills

So, what do you do if the dynamics of a toxic church are wounding you or your senior pastor is mistreating you? The answer: Exit as soon as possible. In reality, leaving is not easy because most staff associates serve out of loyalty to God and the ministry. They will not easily walk away from an appointment. Also, victimized individuals tend to deny, minimize, and rationalize their mistreatment. They cannot believe that something bad is happening to them, or they convince themselves that the situation will not get worse. But it will get worse.

One associate contacted me saying, “I do not know how this could have happened. My husband and I were involved for over 6 years. Between the pastor, the committee, and their actions, I do not see how we can ever return. There is a gaping hole in my heart, and I feel devastated.”

If you feel you must remain in an abusive environment, here are five survival skills that can help you cope.

  1. Do not give place to abusive treatment. Resist cruelty, coercion, threat, and inequity.
  2. Recognize wounding senior pastors for who they are. Senior pastors are often insecure and hurting and use acting-out strategies to get what they want.
  3. Be alert to being set up. Do not let senior pastors manipulate you into compliance.
  4. Seek out a lateral support system. If you are being mistreated, you are probably not alone. Share your experiences with others. Wounding senior pastors can sometimes be stopped if a unified group confronts them.
  5. Watch your heart. Do not give into self-pity, rage, or a judgmental attitude. Jesus calls us to pray and look to Him.

Trust Injuries and Their Effects

The words wounding and senior pastor were never meant to be used together. To deal with the situation, associates often absorb mistreatment and accept blame rather than believe their senior pastor is unjust. This response can generate spiritual and psychological confusion. It distorts an individual’s perception of God and lowers one’s self-esteem. Wounded associates are often unable to integrate or make sense of the pain-filled reality causing them to feel guilty and at fault. They often feel unable to move forward.

A wounded associate writes, “I am having a hard time finding a way to put everything into perspective. I just keep getting this flood of emotions, and I do not know what to do or whom to turn to for help. Maybe I somehow equate this experience to past abuse; maybe not. I just know that it really hurts when it is a pastor you trusted and thought loved you as Christ loved the Church.”

A woman confided, “We are both healing from an abusive ministry. Our senior pastor was very controlling and dictatorial. We are a year out of this ministry and still feeling the effects. My husband was the associate pastor, and the senior pastor treated him like a hireling. I am going through an identity crisis; it took me 6 months to identify that is what it was. The Lord also showed me that if I was struggling with issues, how much more would my husband be struggling with the same issues, but at deeper levels. I wept for him.”

Another person writes, “In September we ended a relationship with an abusive church. We are still experiencing pain and emotions. My wife and I were both on staff and have been with this ministry for years. We have seen the hurt and pain that come when a man of God seeks to build his own kingdom instead of building God’s.”

Healing the Hurts

If you are a wounded associate, consider the following principles you can draw on to promote your healing:

  1. Know you are not going crazy. With the emotional extremes you are feeling, it is important to know the pain is real and it is not your fault.
  2. Talk and pray. Find safe, trusted people with whom you can talk to and pray.
  3. Be honest. Do not be afraid to honestly vent your feelings.
  4. Use a support system. Never meet with a wounding agent alone. Always take someone with you.
  5. Look to Jesus as your Healer. Jesus will use what you have experienced for good. Trust Him to provide process and encounter experiences to expedite your recovery.

Process experiences

A process experience is a Holy Spirit-directed word, meeting, or circumstance that helps wounded associates gain perspective. You may think process experiences are chance happenings, but they are planned and directed by God who seeks to grant perspective to those in need. A Scripture, internal voice, or a casual conversation often provides perspective. Process experiences help associates sort out their pain and give them a clearer perspective of what happened.

Frank, a former associate, told how his senior pastor mistreated and wrongfully terminated him. His story is an example of a process experience. Weeks after his termination, Frank could not move beyond wondering why the pastor treated him so abusively. One evening Frank met a man who was a long-time friend of the senior pastor. The man told him that years earlier a trusted church member had hurt this pastor. As a result, from time to time, the pastor experienced periods of depression marked by fits of paranoia. This often motivated him to make regrettable decisions. Frank thanked God for being able to talk to this man because, in the process, he found perspective.

Encounter experiences

Encounter experiences are similar to process experiences, but their purpose is to bring healing. Bill and Phyllis experienced such an encounter. They served as a youth pastor team in a large church. The couple’s ministry was fruitful. They were expecting a child, and with the senior pastor’s support they bought their first house. Without warning, he fired them. He blamed them for doing things they did not do and accused them of saying things they did not say. People began to circulate rumors that the pastor wanted to fill the position with someone else, but believed he had to discredit the couple to make the change seem like their fault. They left town heartbroken and confused.

Bill and Phyllis’ encounter experience came when two church elders sought them out and offered an apology on behalf of the church. They told Bill and Phyllis that the senior pastor’s actions were wrongly motivated. They pledged to restore the couple’s good name and promised to give prospective employers a glowing recommendation. The four individuals wept, hugged, and prayed together. Afterward Bill and Phyllis expressed thanks to God for His healing touch.

The Issue of Forgiveness

When my senior leader wounded me, I was so hurt the last thing I wanted to do was forgive him. Well-meaning people told me I needed to forgive, but I was conflicted.

Theological issues aside, the problem for me was twofold. First, my anger made me feel guilty. Whether I had reason to feel this way was irrelevant. Second, I wanted to extend grace if for no other reason than to move beyond my pain. I asked God if there was anything good in my heart that I could in truth give away. At that moment, the only good I could extend was not slashing his tires or dumping trash on his lawn.

After I made this transaction before God, a surprising thing happened: I felt peace. The moment I extended the good I had in my heart, I began to breathe freely again.In not slashing his tires or throwing trash on his lawn, I was in fact extending a form of forgiveness.

A proper understanding of forgiveness has its root in Hebrews 12:14, a passage that encourages us to live in peace with all people. Living in peace in no way obligates wounded Christians to forget or have good feelings. But, it does involve truthfully extending whatever good is in one’s heart. A person can only give what is in his possession. Individuals who extend forgiveness are free to be at peace in a situation knowing they truly tried to follow God.

Perspective, a Needed Ingredient

Resolving and recovering from situations of abuse within the church is always difficult. Senior pastors are often at fault for the pain and suffering they perpetrate on staff ministers. God is on the side of wounded associates as they cry out for help. However, we cannot overstate the need for perspective.

We also need to understand that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. At some point we all have acted unjustly and must accept the responsibility to repent. When we gain perspective, we also acknowledge that senior pastors, often unknowingly, wound because they themselves have been wounded. Powerful congregants and church boards can wound senior pastors through manipulation and intimidation. The potential for such wounding increases exponentially if finances or attendance begin to decrease.

Senior pastors and the associates they wound both need to feel and experience God’s unconditional love. Love is the fertile ground from which faith and good works grow. It is in the arms of Jesus that wounding agents and wounded associates alike can find hope and healing.

Binding Up the Wounds

Jesus will soon return for the bride He loves. Until that time, embracing God’s directive to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength can heal the wounds of senior pastors and staff associates alike. Let us love and serve in such a way that He will be able to commend us for being good and faithful servants.

http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200902/200902_042_broken_spirits.cfm

John Setser, Ph.D., Appleton, Wisconsin, is a church consultant and founder of Barnabas Group, a nonprofit organization committed to resolving conflict and promoting a healthy church workplace. Setser can be contacted at johnsetser@hotmail.com. Visit his Web site, www.shatteredtrust.com, for a listing of Barnabas Group services and ministry offerings.

Published in the spring 2009 issue of Enrichment. Used with permission.

The BOA Bunk

Back in June of 2010 we applied to Bank of America, our mortgage holder, for a loan modification. We were told that they would not accept a modification request unless we defaulted. We didn’t want to get behind to the point we couldn’t catch up, so we decided to pay the interest and use the balance to pay down some of our debts while we waited for our modification to be approved.

We applied for the “Making Homes Affordable” program, with a promise from Bank of America that they’d have an answer for us in 30 – 90 days. Meanwhile, we received a call from a debt collector every morning about 8AM, informing me that BOA would move toward foreclosure if we didn’t pay the entire monthly payment (which we couldn’t if we wanted them to consider us for a modification).  We explained every morning what we were doing but without fail, the next day we would receive another call, with another promise that we’d receive an answer about the modification in 30-45 or 30-90 days. Each called assured us we would be foreclosed on if we didn’t pay up – saying, “Application for modification doesn’t guarantee approval.” In November we decided to pay $1000 on the balance to help keep our loan balance manageable. Like I said, we didn’t want to get too far behind. But our $1000 check was cashed and then our account was credited back with the full amount with a letter telling us they were no longer accepting payments and were foreclosing. When I called them, they said it was just a formality and that BOA would not foreclose while we were in modification. The next time I called they told me that the foreclose was not put on hold. We felt like a termite in a yoyo!

This went on for 8 months. We called every week to 10 days like we were supposed to. We called the HOPE hotline asking for help. We saw a housing counselor in Kzoo to try to get them to help us get an answer. We called MISHDA. I filed a complaint with the OCC. I even emailed the CEO of Bank of America and got our file transferred to the Office of the President who actually assigned a moderator to our case who was supposed to keep us in the loop regarding our modification. He was pretty good until we received our first denial. Soon after that, he transferred to another department. After much runaround, we found out they denied our modification using the wrong income figures. We’d furnished new paperwork to them half a dozen times (pay stubs, utility bills, etc.), had meetings with a housing professional, even met with the BOA lawyer from Trott and Trott. We jumped through so many hoops over the past few months that we felt like we were in a circus act.

All we wanted was a manageable house payment until we could sell the house. We had equity, but with the housing market the way it is, our equity was being gobbled up by the failing house values. We kept dropping the price, but found no buyers.

Though we were paying the interest and had followed all the rules required for a modification, proving we could afford the new modified monthly mortgage payment (31% required by the govt. for the Making Homes Affordable program) we still were denied because BOA dept losing our paperwork or part of the paperwork. We were told once our file had been lost.

Finally, we decided to drastically drop the price, change to a different realtor, and reinstate the loan by making our loan current (we had the $$ in the bank). I called HOPE again and was told that we were so close to an answer that we should wait to reinstate the loan because it would start the modification process all over again and we might be charged up to $2000 in atty. fees if we made the loan current. So we decided to wait it out since our new realtor said she could probably sell it after the first of the year in about 90 days.

We did find a buyer, and on the way out the door to our closing, we received ANOTHER request for our paperwork from BOA. We laughed and went to the closing.  All went well after we finally got BOA to give us our pay off (It took us weeks to get them to give it to us…you’d think they’d be in a hurry to get our money since they obviously didn’t want to do a modification for us.)

A week after closing we received a letter from Trott & Trott saying they were foreclosing on our house (the house had been paid off for over a week). I called the atty. office letting them know there was no mortgage because we sold the house. He said they were foreclosing anyway. OK, whatever. I hung up and laughed again. It was so ludicrous. As we were packing up the house and loading the truck to move to Wisconsin, we received another letter. This time BOA was informing us that they had set up a sheriff’s sale for April 28. After some investigation by our title company, we discovered BOA had published the sheriff’s sale in our local paper. At that point we informed the new owners that their house was going up for sale by a mortgage company that no longer owned the house.

Is anyone going to call to task this mortgage company that preys on homeowners? No.

Do you know why? Because they prey on the poor by leading them down the primrose path of a promised modification – while all along they plan to get the homeowner in so much debt that they can’t come out of it in time to save their house when they are denied their modification. They string the homeowner along with empty promises (lies) by untrained employees schooled in the art of “run around.”  After months go by and the homeowner goes into thousands of dollars of debt because the bank refused payments, they give the official denial letter and swoop in and take the house through foreclosure.

As few as 7% of homeowners get modifications. It’s all a ruse. And America is the one who is losing.

Homemade Jewelry

Check out my new venture – jewelry making. I’ve made purse blings similar to the ones Miche sells. I figured I could make them to match my purses and market them on Craig’s List.  Let me know what you think!

Irena Sendler

For many years Irena Sendler – white-haired, gentle and courageous – was living a modest existence in her Warsaw apartment. This unsung heroine passed away on Monday May 12th, 2008.

Her achievement went largely unnoticed for many years. Then the story was uncovered by four young students at Uniontown High School, in Kansas, who were the winners of the 2000 Kansas state National History Day competition by writing a play Life in a Jar about the heroic actions of Irena Sendler. The girls – Elizabeth Cambers, Megan Stewart, Sabrina Coons and Janice Underwood – have since gained international recognition, along with their teacher, Norman Conard. The presentation, seen in many venues in the United States and popularized by National Public Radio, C-SPAN and CBS, has brought Irena Sendlers story to a wider public. The students continue their prize-winning dramatic presentation Life in a Jar.


Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler was born in 1910 in Otwock, a town some 15 miles southeast of Warsaw. She was greatly influenced by her father who was one of the first Polish Socialists. As a doctor his patients were mostly poor Jews. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. At the time, Irena was a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which operated the canteens in every district of the city. Previously, the canteens provided meals, financial aid, and other services for orphans, the elderly, the poor and the destitute. Now, through Irena, the canteens also provided clothing, medicine and money for the Jews. They were registered under fictitious Christian names, and to prevent inspections, the Jewish families were reported as being afflicted with such highly infectious diseases as typhus and tuberculosis.Irena Sendler was so appalled by the conditions that she joined Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, organized by the Polish underground resistance movement, as one of its first recruits and directed the efforts to rescue Jewish children.

But in 1942, the Nazis herded hundreds of thousands of Jews into a 16-block area that came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto. The Ghetto was sealed and the Jewish families ended up behind its walls, only to await certain death.

The Warsaw Ghetto

To be able to enter the Ghetto legally, Irena managed to be issued a pass from Warsaws Epidemic Control Department and she visited the Ghetto daily, reestablished contacts and brought food, medicines and clothing. But 5,000 people were dying a month from starvation and disease in the Ghetto, and she decided to help the Jewish children to get out. For Irena Sendler, a young mother herself, persuading parents to part with their children was in itself a horrendous task. Finding families willing to shelter the children, and thereby willing to risk their life if the Nazis ever found out, was also not easy.With their help, she issued hundreds of false documents with forged signatures. Irena Sendler successfully smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children to safety and gave them temporary new identities.The children were given false identities and placed in homes, orphanages and convents. Irena Sendler carefully noted, in coded form, the childrens original names and their new identities. She kept the only record of their true identities in jars buried beneath an apple tree in a neighbor’s back yard, across the street from German barracks, hoping she could someday dig up the jars, locate the children and inform them of their past.

Irena Sendler, who wore a star armband as a sign of her solidarity to Jews, began smuggling children out in an ambulance. She recruited at least one person from each of the ten centers of the Social Welfare Department.

Some children were taken out in gunnysacks or body bags. Some were buried inside loads of goods. A mechanic took a baby out in his toolbox. Some kids were carried out in potato sacks, others were placed in coffins, some entered a church in the Ghetto which had two entrances. One entrance opened into the Ghetto, the other opened into the Aryan side of Warsaw. They entered the church as Jews and exited as Christians. “`Can you guarantee they will live?'” Irena later recalled the distraught parents asking. But she could only guarantee they would die if they stayed. “In my dreams,” she said, “I still hear the cries when they left their parents.”

Irena Sendler accomplished her incredible deeds with the active assistance of the church. “I sent most of the children to religious establishments,” she recalled. “I knew I could count on the Sisters.” Irena also had a remarkable record of cooperation when placing the youngsters: “No one ever refused to take a child from me,” she said.

In all, the jars contained the names of 2,500 children …

Nazi Genocide

But the Nazis became aware of Irena’s activities, and on October 20, 1943 she was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet and legs. She ended up in the Pawiak Prison, but no one could break her spirit. Though she was the only one who knew the names and addresses of the families sheltering the Jewish children, she withstood the torture, that crippled her for life, refusing to betray either her associates or any of the Jewish children in hiding. Sentenced to death, Irena was saved at the last minute when Zegota members bribed one of the Gestapo agents to halt the execution. She escaped from prison but for the rest of the war she was pursued by the Nazis.The children had known her only by her code name Jolanta. But years later, after she was honored for her wartime work, her picture appeared in a newspaper. “A man, a painter, telephoned me,” said Sendler, “`I remember your face,’ he said. `It was you who took me out of the ghetto.’ I had many calls like that!”

After the war she dug up the jars and used the notes to track down the 2,500 children she placed with adoptive families and to reunite them with relatives scattered across Europe. But most lost their families during the Holocaust in Nazi death camps.

The Holocaust

Irena Sendler did not think of herself as a hero. She claimed no credit for her actions. “I could have done more,” she said. “This regret will follow me to my death.” She has been honored by international Jewish organizations – in 1965 she accorded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem organization in Jerusalem and in 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel. Irena Sendler was awarded Poland’s highest distinction, the Order of White Eagle, in Warsaw Monday Nov. 10, 2003, and she was announced as the 2003 winner of the Jan Karski award for Valor and Courage. She has officially been designated a national hero in Poland and schools are named in her honor. Annual Irena Sendler days are celebrated throughout Europe and the United States.

In 2007, she was nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. At a special session in Poland’s upper house of Parliament, President Lech Kaczynski announced the unanimous resolution to honor Irena Sendler for rescuing “the most defenseless victims of the Nazi ideology: the Jewish children.” He referred to her as a “great heroine who can be justly named for the Nobel Peace Prize. She deserves great respect from our whole nation.”

To read more go to: http://www.auschwitz.dk/sendler.htm

In 2007, Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize … she was not selected. However, Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming and recently Barack Obama won for a speech on peace. What has this world come to?

NY Bankruptcy Court Wipes out MERS-Registered Mortgage; New Trend in Foreclosures?

By: Cynthia Kouril Tuesday October 27, 2009 4:20 pm

How I pay my own home taxesThe bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York wiped out a $400,000+ mortgage, leaving the house with no debt on it, but a screwed up title. It’s a sign of bigger things to come, and a situation which deserves continued attention. As reported by The New York Times:: “One surprising smackdown occurred on Oct. 9 in federal bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York. Ruling that a lender, PHH Mortgage, hadn’t proved its claim to a delinquent borrower’s home in White Plains, Judge Robert D. Drain wiped out a $461,263 mortgage debt on the property. That’s right: the mortgage debt disappeared, via a court order.”

This is a potential test case which fleshes out both case law and my theory about mortgages assigned and registered by service companies. A while back I told you about a case in Kansas where the judge opined, “Indeed, an assignment of a mortgage without the debt transfers nothing. 55 Am. Jur. 2d, Mortgages § 1002. Thus, the mortgagee, who must have an interest in the debt, is the lender in a typical home mortgage.” The Kansas judge said if the interest in land is separated from the note, a foreclosure cannot be processed on the house, though the debt still exists and the note becomes an unsecured note.

And I wondered if that meant that:  “Understand the possible implications of this. If other states take the same approach as Kansas, that means the splitting of the debt from the mortgage note effectively cancels the “mortgage interest” that is the power over the real property and converts the debt to a simple unsecured personal debt just on a promissory note. Which means they couldn’t take your house in foreclosure, though they can sue you personally on the debt, just like any other unsecured creditor can. I am assuming, without going to deep into it today, that as a personal debt, it may be dischargeable in bankruptcy. But we will have to wait for a few test cases to prove this.”

You’ll recall that in a mortgage situation there are two important documents: the loan note, which is a promissory note, and the mortgage document itself which secures the promissory note by giving an “interest in land,” sort of like a lien.

In the SDNY case, the servicer of the loan contended that the promissory note had been transferred to the party for whom the servicer worked. However, the debtor’s lawyer pushed back on the claim, demanding proof that the servicer’s client actually owned the promissory note:  “In answer, Mr. Shaev received a letter stating that PHH was the servicer of the loan but that the holder of the note was U.S. Bank, as trustee of a securitization pool. But U.S. Bank was not a party to the action. Mr. Shaev then asked for proof that U.S. Bank was indeed the holder of the note. All that was provided, however, was an affidavit from Tracy Johnson, a vice president at PHH Mortgage, saying that PHH was the servicer and U.S. Bank the holder. Among the filings supplied to support Ms. Johnson’s assertion was a copy of the assignment of the mortgage. But this, too, was signed by Ms. Johnson, only this time she was identified as an assistant vice president of MERS, the Mortgage Electronic Registration System. This bank-owned registry eliminates the need to record changes in property ownership in local land records. Another problem was that the document showed the note was assigned on March 26, 2009, well after the bankruptcy had been filed.”

Now a New York bankruptcy judge has extinguished a debt because the alleged holder of the promissory note, U.S. Bank, cannot prove that it actually owns the note.

I have been highly critical of Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), the mortgage registry service company established by the mortgage industry to electronically record loan assignments. MERS is often shown in public records as the holder of the mortgages they listed, or as the nominee for the mortgage holder. While claiming to be a wonderful, super-efficient filing system, my anecdotal experience has been that MERS appears to be a big disorganized warehouse for paper never been properly filed or catalogued. MERS seems to know what paper it took in, but not what happened to it thereafter. As MERS handled mortgage assignments, the link between the the original lender, the current true owner of the debt and current servicer of the debt often became unclear.

Until recently, homeowners did not realize that they should avail themselves of the “prove the mortgage” laws that exist in most states. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio has been encouraging homeowners to demand foreclosing parties “prove the mortgage.” These laws force the entity wishing to foreclose on your house prove both the debt and the interest in land by bringing the ORIGINAL blue ink signature versions into court. If they cannot prove them, they have no standing to sue you. This provision only works if the homeowner makes a formal demand for it. There is usually a provision that allows for the bank to put in a lost or destroyed paperwork affidavit, but courts are finally waking up and scrutinizing those affidavits, which are usually so weak factually as to be virtually worthless.

All of which means this SDNY bankruptcy case is BIG news for beleaguered homeowners, and may give them the kind of leverage they need to finally get their lenders to renegotiate their loans in a good faith way. I’m sure the appeal from the SDNY decision will be closely watched by many.

[Earlier posts in this series and related links at Kouril’s Foreclosure Fraud Resources]

New CPR Method

Please watch a video of the new CPR method by clicking here.

If you see someone collapse who isn’t responsive and has trouble breathing:
1.     Tell someone to call 911 or make the call yourself.
2.     Position the person with the back on the floor. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the chest (between the nipples) and the heel of the other hand on top of the first. Lock your elbows, position your shoulders over your hands and use your upper-body weight to “fall” downward. Lift your hands slightly each time to allow the chest wall to recoil. Try to compress at 100 beats per minute and about 2 inches deep until emergency help arrives.
Note: Mouth-to-mouth CPR still is recommended for drowning and very small children.