Jesus invaded my life shortly after my arrest at age 26. I spent the first few years of my new life incarcerated. Went to Bible school after parole; have served with Kansas City Youth For Christ, Headwaters Christian Youth (Rhinelander, Wi), Family Life Ministries (Bath, NY), and now with Midland Ministries (Saint Joseph, Mo). Married with four children, work with youth, adults, inmates. Heavily involved in Bible quizzing for four decades. Narrow minded about Jesus and the gospel; fairly open minded about most other things. Speak in churches, camps (both teen and family), civic groups, public schools, Christian schools and colleges...amazed I get to do what I get to do....favorite verse Romans 15.13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may overflow with hope."
You may feel a need to peacefully protest something.
That is your right.
I gladly support anyone’s right to protest – peacefully.
Because our constitution does not protect conservatives, religious people, Christian people, “gay” people, whatever people.
It protects and provides for people.
But…and here is the caution…
As you go out to protest; realize you are taking a serious risk.
Because…as I hope you know…there are “protestors” who are protestors in name only.
In fact, they are punks looking to pillage, steal, and cause chaos.
It’s not too scientific, but my guess is that at least 80 percent of those alleged “protestors” who end up smashing, grabbing, and worse have no idea…no idea at all…of the issues the peaceful protestors are trying to address.
They are simply along for the ride…and the tvs, shoes, and whatever else they can find. Oh, and let’s burn down a church here and there for fun also.
And you, peaceful protestor, might get caught up in it.
I’m not saying you’ll be tempted to steal etc.
I’m simply saying you may be suddenly surrounded by a group of these punks and basically carried along into a really bad situation.
That bad situation could result in fear, injury, and/or arrest.
Some of you will grimace at this video. Some of you…a few…may question my salvation. And most of you are mature enough to recognize the difference between preferences and convictions…
I was in Cleveland, Ohio attending a Billy Graham crusade meeting. It was July of 1994. A hot and muggy evening.
It got hotter.
Mr. Graham said something like, “some of you will not like this music. Frankly, I don’t care for it that much. But I have talked to the men in the group. They love Jesus. So that is good enough for me…for the first time at one of our meetings, please welcome D C Talk!”
It was great.
And, for today’s throwback I present the following…a mixture of two of their lesser known tunes; but sadly still very apropos in our nation at this time:
I would rather read a novel than watch most television/movies.
I do a lot of “serious” reading; I do a lot of, well, “escape” reading.
The last escape book I’ve read is The Force by Don Winslow. It is a gritty…read plenty of language…incredibly well written cop book.
The author is white. He has several black characters in the book.
One of the black characters is a woman (an emergency room nurse) who addresses the fact that her white cop boyfriend is infuriated because cops are being called out for abusive behavior etc.
She says, “I get you think that only other cops can understand what you go through. Y’all feel aggrieved because you’re blamed for killing Freddie Gray or Michael Bennett. But you don’t know how it feels to be blamed because you are Freddie Gray or Michael Bennett. You think people hate you because of what you do, but you don’t have to think that people hate you because of what you are. You can take the blue jacket off. I live twenty-four seven in this skin.
“Here’s what you can’t understand Denny – what you can’t understand, because you’re a white man, is the sheer…weight…of being black in this country. The sheer exhausting weight that presses your shoulders down and tires your eyes and makes it hurt just to walk sometimes…
“And you were right last night – sometimes I do hate my patients and I’m tired, Denny, tired of cleaning up the things they do to each other, we do to each other, and sometimes I hate them because they’re black like me and because it makes me wonder about myself…
“So that’s what we go through, baby…every damn day.”
As I read the book I reread those words several times; trying to understand…
I know I don’t understand; anymore than anyone can understand what it’s like to be a soldier returning the USofA from Vietnam unless you were one.
But this passage from this book floats around my brain; and brings me a little closer to understanding…
There is a new form of salvation by works floating around in increasing measure.
This form states that you are saved if you repent from sin and trust the completed work of the Lord Jesus AND vote a certain way (most often republican, but not always).
No, most don’t flat out say or type that…but the implication is crystal.
Any type of “you gotta be this way or you are not saved” is whacked and indicates an ignorance of the gospel message.
Can you be a Christian and vote democrat?
Can y0u be a Christian and vote republican?
Can you be an American Christian and not vote?
Can you be a Christian and be prochoice?
Can you be a Christian and not oppose same sex marriage?
Can you be a Christian and do whatever your sin issue is?
The answer to all those questions is “yes.”
We can argue maturity, we can argue the particular issue, but you can not determine someone’s salvation by their viewpoint one on particular thing – regardless of how tragically wrong you think they are.
R C Sproul addresses the issue this way:
“As we preach the Gospel to our friends and neighbors we must always stress grace, otherwise we can convert people to a Christianized form of moralism that implies it is possible for us to get right with God through our own works. The Gospel does demand a change of life, but this change of life is empowered by grace and occurs subsequent to conversion. If we are not stressing the priority of grace, we are no better than the first-century Pharisees.”
By the way, isn’t it amazing how much more we expect of new/young Christians than we did (or do) expect of ourselves???
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)