Dumb Kid or Racist

IMG_0009I was just a dumb kid from Kansas when I enlisted in the Air Force in 1971. Like all new recruits, I was sent to Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio for boot camp.  This was the camp where all new recruits learned the Air Force way of doing things.

One of the requirements of boot camp was to have a spit polish on your boots that would reflect the ugly mug of the drill sergeant. During the first inspection my boots didn’t pass muster, and I suffered the consequences; I decided I had to do something before the next inspection.

Since the recruit next to me had polished his shoes to a high sheen and the drill sergeant had praised him, I offered to pay him if he would polish my boots. This dumb kid, a white boy from Kansas, never thought his request would be considered racist. I simply wanted to benefit from the skill of the person next to me, and I didn’t see him as a black man—just another guy trying to get through boot camp; but, he thought I was looking for a “boy” to shine the Master’s shoes.

Our difference in perspective, due to history, and culture, led to a flash of anger that had its roots in the riots of the late 60’s. The events of this past week rekindled the memory of that experience from 1971.

Was I a dumb kid from Kansas or a racist?  I can undoubtedly confirm that I was dumb, but just as certainly I can say there was no racism in my request.

It would be naive to think that racism did not exist then or that it does not exist today. Sadly, the hideous face of racism has been present since the early days of man’s history.

Paul spoke of the ethnic and racial divide between Jews and others when he wrote to the church at Ephesus.  He said Jesus “brought an end to the commandments and demands found in Moses’ Teachings so that he could take Jewish and non-Jewish people and create one new humanity in himself. So he made peace.  He also brought them back to God in one body by his cross, on which he killed the hostility.  He came with the Good News of peace for you who were far away and for those who were near.  So Jewish and non-Jewish people can go to the Father in one Spirit.~Ephesians 2:15-18 GW

After the multiple tragedies of last week, I think most of us are looking for healing.  If you only look to the past and the many failures of social engineering, you might through your hands up in despair.

The answer is not more government, it’s more God and the hope of becoming one in Jesus Christ.  We need to “Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord.  Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you.”  ~Hebrews 12:14-15 GW

As Reinhold Niebuhr said in The Irony of American History:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Be Trendy and Live Trimly

87273_genesis_fitness_clubI didn’t realize it at the time, but I was a trend setter in late 1971.  I joined an elite group of men in an exercise club.

Health and fitness clubs can be found in any town of any size today.  They’re easy to see with their bright signage that lures you in and smiling attendants who entice you with their catchy mottos: “Expanding wellness and extending lives through health.”

When I joined my club in 1971, it wasn’t Genesis or the YMCA, it was called boot camp.  There were no smiling faces, just sneers.  Words of welcome were usually limited to 4 colorful letters that would have made grandmother blush; and, the mottos were tirades about the history of my family that I’d never heard before.

You may be using some of the latest technological gadgets to enhance your time in the gym. So many people are purchasing devices to monitor their activity that PC Magazine ran an article that compares the different features of Fitbit, Mio Fuse, Vivosmart, Jawbone, and others.

The Be Trendy-Live Trimly Fitness Craze has found its way through the doors of Oral Roberts University.  Freshmen students at ORU must wear a Fitbit, and they’re required to average 10,000 steps a day and 150 minutes of intense activity each week.

Exercise and sports are common analogies found in the bible, and Paul used them, in I Corinthians 9: “So I run—but not without a clear goal ahead of me. So I box—but not as if I were just shadow boxing.  Rather, I toughen my body with punches and make it my slave so that I will not be disqualified after I have spread the Good News to others.

Paul was more concerned with a person’s spiritual health than he was their physical health.  Which one of the two is your greater focus? More importantly, how are you monitoring your spiritual activity?

What would a spiritual Fitbit say about you? Be Trendy, Live Trimly, and Think Theologically.

The Belly Brigade

anyoneThe Belly Brigade has only one requirement to enter, and it’s not a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly—that’s Santa Claus. By the way, there are only 59 days until Christmas.

Unlike most amusement parks, there are no height restrictions. You cannot be too tall or too short to participant. height-restrictions-apply...

When it comes to speed, you do not have to be like NFL quarterback, Geno Smith who has run the 40 yard dash in 4.59 seconds. You can’t be too fast or too slow.speed

You do not need the beauty of Miss America, the voice of country singer George Strait, or the agility of Olympic Champion Michael Phelps, and you do not need an IQ level that gains you membership into Mensa, the high IQ society.

You join the Belly Brigade when you meet the requirement of just one boot camp basic experience that is summarized in the word—SPLANCHOLOGY.

A form of this word is found in Matthew 9:36 where it describes the emotions of Jesus: When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.

Splanchology is that kick-in-the-gut-moment when you feel the needs of another deep down inside of yourself.

Jesus was a Splanchologist in every sense of the word. When He looked at people He was moved with compassion because He could see their needs and feel their pain.

By the way, the Belly Brigade has no age restrictions. I joined on May 25, 1965 when I was 12 years old. I didn’t know how to describe the-kick-in the gut-feeling that overwhelmed me, but I do know that I was moved with compassion for my mother and my two brothers, and they were Splanchologists for me as well.

Then Jesus, the Splanchologist, said to His disciples: The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers (more Splanchologists) into His harvest (Mt.9:37).

What the world needs is not more hanging judges or bounty hunters, but more people who will see the needs of others, be moved with compassion, start to work in the harvest, and in so doing—enlist in the Belly Brigade.
Think About It!