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.

Rogers Nelson: the prince and the The Prince

prince-2ICP_o_tnRogers Nelson, known to his fans as Prince, was 57 years old when he died yesterday.   CNN reported that, “An outpouring of grief followed as fans paid tribute to the singer who masterfully blended rock, R&B, jazz, funk and pop.”

While Prince Rogers Nelson had many adoring fans, I was not one of them. I just did not like the pieces of music he produced.

I do, however, like peace and what a real Prince has to offer.  Isaiah called this person the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.

Although Prince Rogers Nelson was honored because he sold over 100 million records worldwide, I prefer the Prince of Peace who was known for other reasons:

  • Jesus healed a leper (Mark 1:40-45).
  • Jesus healed the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13).
  • Jesus opened the eyes of two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31).
  • Jesus fed at least five thousand people (Matthew 14:15-21).
  • Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-46).

I guess I have to agree with a statement found in Psalm 118:9: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

The princes of this world have little to offer in comparison to the true Prince—the Prince of Peace.  When you get to know Him, you will begin to experience, “the effect of righteousness” and it  “will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.”  ~Isaiah 32:17

Daring and Desperate Determination

When you read the Old and New Testaments together, you will find some companion verses.  These Scriptures complement each other.  Even though there are hundreds of years between the times of their writing, they state the same timeless truths.

Notice the words of the Psalmist and the Savior:

  • Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
  • Matthew 6:33: Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Do you “delight” yourself in the Lord as much as you delight yourself in your children and grandchildren?  Do you seek God’s kingdom and righteousness as much as you pursue your passions in life?

I think of these verses when I read the story of a woman in Matthew 15.   She cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is possessed by a demon. Have mercy, Lord!”

customoko-its-time-to-have-bold-faith-kids-tshirt-featured-imageThis woman was persistent and kept on seeking and asking and knocking until she got the attention of Jesus and His disciples.  This woman was daring, desperate, and determined in her quest to request divine intervention on behalf of her daughter.

Because of her faith, Jesus responded and blessed her with the desires of her heart.  How daring and determined are you in your life of faith?

A Theology of Spitting

Even though the days of cane pole fishing have been replaced by high tech fishing gear, I can still remember fishing with those glorified sticks and a piece of string. Most of these memories include a short little pudgy man with a smiling face and big heart. Edgar was his name, and he was my Grandpa Lacy.

Grandpa and I would sit on the river bank by an old stone bridge and watch the muddy water gentle flow downstream. After baiting the hook, Grandpa would chuckle and say to me: “Before you toss your line out, make sure you spit on that fishin’ worm for good luck.”

Since I was just a kid who wanted to catch some fish, I eagerly spit on the worm; and, I did this with no thought to the origin or efficacy of this tradition. As I grew older, my curious mind would reminisce about the river bank days and the lore of spitting.

In biblical days, some people believed that spittle was representative of more than just good luck and catching fish—they believed it was a window to the soul. This could be one of the reasons that Jesus used His spittle when He performed some miracles like the one in John 9: “Jesus saw a man who had been blind from birth . . . He spat on the ground and made some mud with the saliva. He smeared the mud on the blind man’s eyes and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.” So the blind man went away and washed, and came back seeing.”

In the Bible, blindness is symbolic of spiritual darkness. This man’s physical condition represented his spiritual need—his eyes were unseeing and his soul was blind. Jesus healed the one, so He could save the other.

When questioned by the religious authorities about his prior condition and his present and miraculous healing, the man simply said: “All I know is that I was blind and now I can see.” This man knew that the healing of his body and soul was more than good luck, it was the good Lord at work.

When Jesus began His public ministry, He went to the synagogue and read from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read (Luke 4:18-21).”

Notice two of the phrases from above:
• He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind
• The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

Jesus came to restore sight to the unseeing eyes and the blind souls of the people seated in the synagogue, to the blind man in John 9, and to you and me as well.

Praise God for His goodness, grace, and mercy!

Your Moment in Time

Moment_In_Time-150x150What started as a normal day soon turned tragic. The flash of light that reflected off the steel blade was the first sign that something was wrong, and the feel of warm blood as it flowed down his cheek was confirmation of his fears. He was maimed and disfigured for life.

The pain lasted for the briefest of moments and the bleeding stopped almost immediately. He was amazed as his hand felt the side of his head. The ear that had been cut off had reappeared just as quickly as it had disappeared.

His moment of agony lasted for just the second it took for the miracle to occur. The actions of Jesus were stitched in threads of vibrant mercy and Malchus stood dumbstruck as he considered the amazing grace he had just experienced.

Jesus knew He was about to be arrested and crucified, but He was still concerned for the needs of others—even those who intended to do Him harm. What Jesus did for Malchus (Luke 24) was principle put to practice. It was a turn the other cheek, forgive them 70 times 7, give them the coat off your back, walk the extra mile; and give a drink of water to the thirsty, moment.

What you do to alleviate the pain of others, reveals the true you. Who are you?