My History With Blacks

I got messaged that I was an unwitting racist. That is the third time someone has taken the time to inform me what I am. I respect all these people, but they been drinking the koolaid a bit…

I am not now, nor ever have been a racist.

I am very prejudiced against prejudice people. To me racism is the supreme act of cowardice…I don’t like you because you look different than I.

I was born into a military family, moving often; usually living in Army housing. I can’t remember not being around blacks, browns, asians etc.

I recall living in isolated Sand Canyon, California housing. Across the street was a black guy married to a German girl. They had two kids; one was dark black, the other looked white. This was in the early sixties. Everyone got along.

The high school I went to in Southern California was mostly white, but had a good percentage of blacks and what we then called “chicanos,” Mexican-Americans.

I had friends in all groups.

One of my black friends (who bought the farm in Nam) used to cruise the streets of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley with me.

Just him and me. Friends. Buddies. Had each other’s backs.

We knew we were different.

I recall a time that Dickey saw a group of black guys on the corner…I think in Granada Hills. It was late in the evening, we were a bit drunk; and Dickey yelled out the window at the group, using the infamous “n” word…and ducked.

The guys looked at me, yelled some physical impossibilities, and I floored the ’57 Chevy and got away listening to Dickie laugh uproariously.

I graduated high school and went into the Army.

Obviously I trained and served with blacks, browns, asians.

The first couple years were peaceful (I was initially stationed in Korea with a ten man detachment; two of which were black).

Then came 1968 and things got weird.

The first time I was shot at occurred in Germany.

We knew the Russians were going to invade Czechoslovakia. (I was in the ultimate oxymoron, military intelligence). My unit rolled out toward the border.

We overnighted at an Air Force base.

While walking to our quarters we passed a group of black airmen. They glanced at us and kept walking…

Which irritated our Lieutenant, who hailed from some southern state.

He yelled, “Hey, boys, don’t you salute officers?”

I was not overjoyed that he used the term “boys.”

Neither were they.

They did stop.

They did salute.

They walked away.

That evening they surrounded the billets we were in and began firing M14s. Thankfully we were armed with M16s; we were more sober than they, and as we returned fire they slipped away.

I know none of us were hit; I don’t think any of them were.

From Germany I went to Vietnam; attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

This was ’68-’69. The war was not only against the VietCong and NVA; it was against the conflict between the black activists and the rednecks.

Even though I had a couple black buddies in my unit; the racial tension was incredible, and confusing to me after my upbrining.

Not all whites were rednecks; not all blacks were activists. Most probably recognized we were all military issue brothers.

The closest I came to death was when my track was during a firefight when my track was hit by an Rocket Propelled Grenade that knocked me out of the turret.

Stunned on the ground, I had no weapon, was not sure where I was, and as the fight raged around me two black guys ran out and pulled me back into another track.

I remember July 9, 1969 as I was leaving country to go back to “the world” and discharge.

Sitting in the air terminal at Bien Hoa; I kept my back to the wall and watched the groups of blacks watching the groups of whites. Nothing was said, but the glares were intense.

I remember thinking, “I survived my tour, I don’t want to be wasted by a fellow American.”

After the Army I got involved with a group of drug dealers. We were a pretty big outfit; and we looked like the United Nations…whites/blacks/browns/asians.

The only time I ever heard the “n” word was blacks using it frequently while talking with/arguing with other blacks.

A few years later I was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to a dime.

I was converted to faith in Christ and the gospel while in jail.

The first few years of my Christian life found me worshiping in a black church. Didn’t realize it at the time, since I had never been in church except for weddings and funerals. But most of the inmates attending chapel were black; and they often led the services.

Which is why when I got out and started going to church on the streets it was rather boring…”Let’s stand together and sing the first, second, and fourth stanzas of hymn number 356.”

Prison is easily survivable if you “do your own time.”

Which means no running with gangs; racial or otherwise.

I was “discipled”, though neither of us knew that term, by a black guy who took me under his wing and, since he had been raised in the church, taught me much.

Since hitting the pavement, going to Bible school, and serving in youth and prison ministry full-time for fortyplus years; I still rub shoulders with other “races” often.

I preach at an all Korean/American camp every summer (except this covided summer) since 1988. I’ve spoken at an all Indian (Mar Thoma) camp several times.

When I look at a person I see exactly that…a person.

I try to recognize that every person I meet has God’s stamp on him/her.

I don’t file them in a box based on their color.

Red and yellow, black and white, they (all) are precious in His sight.

So though I will never apologize for being an old, white, conservative male; neither will I be silent if someone accuses me of being a racist in any form.

This is long; could have been much longer…and I thank you for reading it.

Allow me to close with one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite groups…(by the way, the song was released in 1995)

-30-

My high school photo/journalism teacher, Ed Murdock, was promoted to heaven after a lengthy illness Wednesday. He had celebrated his 81st birthday Saturday.

Ed and English teacher Lucie Rea impacted my life, and continue to do so, more than any other educator (until I got to Bible school!).

I had Ed for three years, primarily for Journalism classes. My senior year I had three class periods with him as I had fulfilled all the other junk.

I served as reporter, Sports Editor, and Editor-in-Chief of the Hart High (Newhall, Ca) “Smoke Signal.” Back then we were the Indians…I hope we still are.

Ed was a young teacher, friendly, caring, making the time to teach not class, but students. He later moved into counseling and administration…

He was fun. Back then beer cans had pop tops, but there was not a “protector” around the tab, so every Monday Ed would check a few of us for “pop top thumbs.” Opening the cans frequently produced small cuts on the thumb…

He was strict, but not overly so.

He was a good man. I did not know he was a Christian then…then I didn’t know what a Christian was. I honestly don’t remember him ever mentioning Christ or faith…but I am sure he would pray for me…and so many others.

After graduation we lost touch, but then in around 1980 I bumped into him while I was doing an assembly at Hart.

He began supporting me financially at that point, and, at his homegoing, was my longest-standing financial supporter. He was a prayer warrior also…his significant financial giving will be replaced; his prayers not.

My family was able to meet him several years ago, and a few years ago I got to pay him a visit with classmate Bob Satterfield.

I’m told I am a good writer. Most credit goes to the combination of Ed (primarily) and Mrs. Rea.

I shall miss his phone calls. I shall miss him.

But not for long.

(If you don’t get the “-30-“; it used to be placed at the end of an article to indicate the end. Don’t even know if it is still used.)

But in this case -30- doesn’t mark the end; simply the transition.

Stupid Sentence…

This “qualifies” as one of the stupider sentences I’ve read in many moons.

It is from the September 21 issue of “Time” magazine.

From “The View-Sports” by Sean Gregory.

Here it is:

“It’s no longer acceptable to use Black Americans as entertainment but do little to demonstrate that their lives matter.”

Grammatically, the capital “b”…yeah, I know the politics etc, but it is still wrong.

Who “uses” black Americans as “entertainment?”

Not this white boy.

My favorite player of all time is Steve Largent. (and I know many of you are thinking, “Steve who?”

Not because he is white, but because he was a phenomenally brave and gifted receiver (back in the day when players stuck with a team…if I remember correctly he and quarterback Jim Zorn were together 11 years).

My second-favorite player is Mike Singletary…not because he is black but because of the way he played and his scary stare.

I don’t “use” any athlete…of any color/race. I recognize that many (not all) black athletes poured their lives into sports hoping it would be a way out of poverty and the hood. I also know of a few white (and brown) players who did the same thing.

I admire them for that, also.

But “use”?

Nope.

And I don’t feel like addressing…again…the second phrase of his sentence; because I know that whatever I type it will offend someone.

I admire them, I wish I made the money they made. I support their right to have and voice opinions.

Use?

Nah.

Don’t Waffle; Set the Stage

Here is some good counsel from Greg Koukl of “Stand to Reason”:

“If you’re placed in a situation where you suspect your convictions will be labeled intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded, and judgmental, turn the tables.

“When someone asks for your personal views about a moral issue – homosexuality for example – preface your remarks with a question.

“You say: ‘You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking, and I’d be glad to answer. But before I do, I want to know if you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person. Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view? Do you respect diverse ideas, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from yours?’

“Let them answer. If they say they’re tolerant (which they probably will), then when you give your point of view it’s going to be very difficult for them to call you intolerant or judgmental without looking guilty too.

“This response capitalizes on the fact that there’s no morally neutral ground.

“Everybody has a point of view they think is right, and everybody judges at some point or another.

“The Christian gets pigeon-holed as the judgmental one, but everyone else is judging too.

“It’s an inescapable consequence of believing in any kind of morality.”

Prayers, Please…

Most readers know that for several years I have had seasonal depression…not “eat a bullet” “jump off a bridge” level, but disheartening, difficult, draining, and more.

When people ask me what it is like, the only thing I think of is “fog.” Being in a thick, oppressing fog, hard to move, hard to motivate, hard to manage.

Then a few weeks ago I “stumbled” (which, being interpreted, means God provided) a song/video that amazingly accurately portrays what it feels like…to me.

I’ve shared it with a lot of people; and more than a few have nodded, through tears, agreeing that Andrew Peterson nails it.

Here’s the video…if you watch it, watch it all the way or you lose the significance:

Now, the prayer request…

Late September, early October is the time I slip into the fog. I have been increasingly proactive in making plans to overcome and stomp the fog…and I ask you to pray with me that this affliction be gone…forever.

I’ve got a team of seven dear friends who have taken a day of the week to particularly pray for me…and to check in with me via text/call/whatever. I am so grateful for them. Of course I also have my best friend, helpmate, bride Jane to pray and kick me in the butt when needed.

I’ve joined a gym (?). I volunteer weekly at the library bookstore. God has opened the door for me to be the only civilian attending a morning Bible study for law enforcement officers. I open our Midland center early morning on Thursdays for youth workers/pastors and others to gather for fellowship and prayer.

I am more than cautiously optimistic that the Lord has guided me into a aggressive, attack mode on this illness.

But that is not enough…it needs to be laced with prayer.

And thus I ask you to pray for me specifically in this matter.

I want to finish well (hopefully not soon :). I want to redeem the precious gift of time the Lord has provided.

Thank you for reading; thank you for praying.

2 Things You Don’t Discuss – but should

“Don’t talk politics or religion – and certainly don’t mix the two” is the advice of far too many.

Worse, far too many followers of Christ buy it…or are simply too cowardly to discuss either.

Here is a well-written piece about Jesus and politics…if you elect to not read it; consider this vitally important sentence from the article:


“Yet let me make myself very clear: This does not mean Jesus came to set up a theocracy. He didn’t. He established a church. “Christian state” is an oxymoron.”

Truth!

Here’s the article:

Did Jesus Teach The Separation of Faith and Politics? No!

by Sean McDowell

When it comes to discussions about faith and politics, perhaps the most commonly quoted verse is Matthew 22:21: “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

The point seems clear: The government and church are distinct domains with their own spheres of authority. Since we are citizens of an earthly state, we ought to pay taxes to the government. Our duties as citizens of Heaven lie elsewhere, right? Shouldn’t faith and politics be kept separate?

The Political Teachings of Jesus

Such a conclusion misses the subtle political implications of what Jesus says.

In his excellent book Politics for Christians, Frank Beckwith explains:

He [Jesus] first asks whose image is on the coin. The answer, of course, is Caesar’s. But an unsaid question begs an answer: What (or who) has the image of God on it? That is, if the coin represents the authority of Caesar because it has his image on it, then we, human beings, are under the authority of God because we have his image on us (p. 64).

Jesus is brilliant. Coins bear the image of Caesar, and thus are under Caesar’s jurisdiction. But since human beings bear the image of God, they are under God’s jurisdiction. Caesar may have jurisdiction over governing, but since governments are comprised of people, God has jurisdiction over everything. Even Caesar himself bears the imago dei, and is therefore under God’s greater jurisdiction.

Citizens of Earth and Heaven

As citizens of both Earth and Heaven, Christians have obligations to the government and to God. Jesus is not teaching that we ought to live with divided loyalties to the government and church, but rather, that we have obligations to both.Please Support The Stream: Equipping Christians to Think Clearly About the Political, Economic and Moral Issues of Our Day.

What does this mean practically speaking? Well, since government ought to be concerned with the well-being of its citizens, and citizens bear the image of God, Christians ought to be concerned that government policy successfully accomplish this end. The Bible holds both individuals and governments accountable for being just (Micah 6:8; Psalm 72).

Theology Matters

And this can only be accomplished by incorporating certain theological principles such as human sinfulness, equality, human value and the importance of the natural family for flourishing. Since these principles are objectively true, government policies will only be effective if they are reflective of them.

Yet let me make myself very clear: This does not mean Jesus came to set up a theocracy. He didn’t. He established a church. “Christian state” is an oxymoron.

It is a mistake for Christians to place their hope in government. And it is also a mistake to discard the responsibility Christians have to positively influence the political realm. Jesus did not teach that faith and politics should be kept entirely separate. They shouldn’t. Since God is ruler over everything, our faith must inform our political beliefs and actions.

The crucial question is not if faith should inform politics, but how.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D., is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, the National Spokesman for Summit Ministries, a best-selling author, popular speaker and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org. 

Originally published at SeanMcDowell.org. Reprinted with permission.

Church, Who Needs It?

YOU DO! I do!

The Body…the church…is the Bride of Christ. It has mucho problems because it is made up of broken people like me…like you.

But even the Lone Ranger had a buddy.

And we really do, we really do, we really do need each other.

Philip Yancey wrote a little book years ago with the title being the same as the title of this blog entry.

It remains well worth reading…if you can handle it.

One of my favorite memories of the book is when Yancey says AA meetings are more like church should be than church is.

“Hi, I’m Jack, and I’m a scoundrel, a sinner, and if you knew everything about me you wouldn’t want to listen to me…but that’s cool; because if I knew everything about you I’d not want to talk to you.”

Church is one of the phoniest places I know. People put on their “good Christian” suit, their “praise the Lord” smile, and lie frequently when asked, “How are you doing?”

Those were my thoughts when I saw this early today:

Tuesday Throwback Tune

Yeah, I know..it is Wednesday.

Early yesterday I began driving, heading to Rhinelander, Wi for an extended weekend of camp ministry…so I kinda forgot.

But now I remembered…so I share an oldie…well do I remember the days when people made a living preaching against “Christian rock” (classic line – “It makes as much sense to say ‘christian rock’ as it does to say ‘heavenly devil'”)…to include Amy Grant, 2nd Chapter of Acts and…of course…the band I heard somebody once call Satan’s favorite – Petra.

Oh, and, by the way, I had to endure more than one railing ‘sermon’ against secular music of any type and rock in particular…and often thought how racist; as the people I heard decrying such music called it “jungle music.” Wow.

Anyway, here’s an oldie from Petra:

And, as an added bonus, here’s the band more-than-a-few-years-later: