When I first moved to Atlanta in 1988, I had never seen a cotton plantation, much less, a field ripe with cotton. While a common site for many across the Southern states, it’s amazing how many stories we miss or misinterpret as we travel along life’s highways. I have several times over the years, even once recently, stood at a roadside or looked out over southern cotton fields and mused over what it REALLY must have been like in those days leading up to, during, and after the American Civil War. What a tragedy. But, the real tragedy is that this conflict still rages in our souls.
Dear reader, what if the issue of slavery in America (and around the world) is actually a much bigger issue than RACE? What if there is something or someone(s) much more sinister and wicked than those who conceived of and operated the global slave trade that existed during hundreds, even thousands of generations prior to the American Civil War?
Have you ever known someone that was sick – I mean really sick, and they just couldn’t seem to get well? Maybe you were – or are, that person! So many times the reason we are not able to beat those illnesses and diseases that attack us is because we fail to address the actual systemic issue(s) and we focus only on the symptoms – those things that manifest outwardly – those things we can see. Instead, what if we were to take a deeper, more authentic look at things realizing that there must be something at the “root” of all of this? What if we looked deeper than the skin rash, the headaches and pain, or the things that appear obvious only on the surface? Together, let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s see what we might discover and see if there might be a way to confront and heal this disease called racism and hate that has plagued the human race since the beginning of time. Will you give this a shot?
Here’s some things to consider and a few ideas that you might try in your own family, local church and with those around you. TOGETHER, we can beat this toxic cancer. DIVIDED, we will surely fall and continue the same pathway of hatred that has existed since the beginning. Will you come back with me to Atlanta for a minute or two?
Racial Hatred is Like a Turbulent Ocean
There’s been a lot of “discussion” about racism in recent days. Many of those involved in creating the narrative for the Church have no business at the table, much less being the ones “leading” the engagement. Think about this with respect to the Church – the Local Church and her responsibility in prayer: What if local shepherds, all of us, were to teach our people to pray for racial reconciliation? After all, the Bible is very clear that we are to pray and to seek God without giving up and without doubting. Right?
What if we really did that? The very first chapter of James is clear that if we pray and we doubt as we pray, that it is much like a wave in the sea, being driven and tossed by the wind. Well, that’s pretty clear!
Given the circumstances and the current news, I wonder just how many in the Church at large are actually praying? I wonder if maybe contemporary leaders might be pandering to the fringe in an attempt to fill empty seats and to diversify historically bigoted flocks? So, without pushing that ball down the field too far, let me say this, The first suggested step for the local pastor seeking to make a difference is to PRAY WITHOUT CEASING (I Thessalonians 5: 17 – but read before and after the verse!). Consider teaching your people to pray accurately and in truth. Research matters of importance and community crisis events and make sure that as you go to the Father, you teach your people to go to Him asking humbly and seeking in truth (in contrast to emotions). God will hear our prayers and He will respond to the prayers offered in earnest. we really do believe this – right?
But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.Book of James, Chapter 1: 4 – 6, The Bible (NKJV)
As a young man, in Kentucky, I had never experienced racial hatred at the magnitude that was getting ready to roll over me like one of those waves that catches you off guard at the beach. After it hit me that first year in Atlanta in the late eighties, it would take several years to find my way to the surface again.
Confusion I would say was the operational word. Confusion led the way to allowing anger to take hold. It was a trap and I knew it – but as a young man still trying to find my way, I didn’t yet know what to do with the emotions and the pain.
Like many who may read this, I too was tossed and turned and felt I needed to find a way to “do something.” I had more education than the average police supervisor, so there was the double hammer blow, just for being young and knowing something about my “chosen” profession. Today, the average police officer has a college degree. Many supervisors even have Master’s degrees. But, back then, policing was a “working” person’s job and the “old guard” resented those young recruits coming in and questioning “the way things worked.” Sound familiar?
Then, there was skin color and intellect. Hmm… I was confused then, and years later, I’m still confused. Difference now is, I have about 34 more years of experience, another degree, multiple certifications, several thousand hours of training, a grown and mature family and kids, and a lot of scars…
So, here’s the rub for some readers and for many who have joined the slogan-facade and the BLM mad rush to socializing society. Interesting if you stop and think about all of it at a grass-roots level. The rub is the perception that a white man – especially a white man who has a strong pro-bias in support of law enforcement… having a “right” to speak into this matter. Yet, please allow me to be clear on this perception.
It is a lack of reason and reality to believe that every human being does not have the right to speak into the matter – if racial bias has had an affect on their lives, families and ability to work, live or provide for themselves or their family. I have personally experienced all of these dilemmas as have my children. I mentioned in the last article that there are many white people across the nation, and even the world who are confused and frustrated. There are many who have given and even sacrificed much for the cause and who have never protested, raised a banner for socialism or rioted in the streets.
As a writer, I normally would not use the same quote in more than one article in a series (See Marilyn Singleton below). However, to make the point that white people, brown people, yellow and red folks, as well as any folks of any color have a right to speak into this narrative we are currently calling “racism,” and of which, many have fallen prey to a socialism trap called #blacklivesmatter. In this lengthy article, I will provide you several quotes and links to and from some very engaged African American black professionals.
I get it! This is a very touchy subject, a difficult discussion and many, including, but not limited to blacks and whites have come across in recent days and ignorant and foolish as they pander, grovel and advertise in an attempt to show they are engaged and “doing something.” My advice to the many would be really simple… it goes something like this: Stop!
Black activists complained that cities were run by White men. For years we’ve had Black mayors, chiefs of police, and school superintendents. Sadly, little has changed. As of 2013, only 59 percent of Black males finished high school. High school drop-outs have a 70 percent chance of going to prison. Black folks cannot partake of the opportunities in front of them without a good education. Many times, the worst teachers are shunted to poor neighborhoods with substandard schools. Meanwhile, “progressives” bow down to the unions and oppose school choice, and paradoxically champion the free flow of illegal aliens for cheap labor thus displacing Black high school drop-outs from these unskilled jobs.
Social Justice Warriors and White teenagers from well-heeled neighborhoods seem to think there were no successful Black folks until the SJWs decided to rescue us.Marilyn Singleton, Christian Post, 2020
The issue we are dealing with in today’s contemporary society is not racism per se – although it is an acute issue at many levels. It is however, not the systemic issue it was in the days when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. waged a war of peace that ultimately settled the waves and turned the tide. As you know, it would cost him his life. But, in the end, his sacrifice was made for many, and he won – we all won. Jesus was pretty clear on that matter too. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15: 12 – 13, The Bible, NKJV) Peaceful protests were met with active and violent resistance. Can you see that today, the table has turned and chaos has risen to an all-time high in our communities.
In short, an old dragon has raised it’s head. Resurrected? I’m not sure. Racism is not the issue and to push this agenda is to stand on the grave of Dr. King and the many, both black and white who have sacrificed to get this fight to the place it is today. An old wound has been opened to market and sell a new political agenda and platform called “socialism.”
If we choose to go back, we will lose all of the love, power and rational thought that came into being during the months and years when I was born. If we choose to get on this bandwagon of socialism, masquerading as a “movement” called Black Lives Matter, we will lose over 50 years of progress. I have had the opportunity to grow up in this time of healing and restoration. However, make no mistake, our society is at war and we are ALL involved and participating in one way or another. Here’s where I’ll put in the plug for the other book I’m writing! It will be a series called “Born Into War.”
So, there’s a second suggested approach for local pastors and Churches: Education. Socialism preys on the ignorant. If we do not focus our efforts on educating our communities and those in our families who live their lives based on emotional decision making, then we can expect movements like BLM to rise against the currents of rational thinking. We can expect violence in the streets and a society incapable of forward progress. We must Fight Forward if we are to win this war. May I take you back to a battlefield of the Civil War where my ancestors fought? I think you may be shocked to know the truth about this battle and our nation – your nation.
But first, let me close this cultural tremor with a few quick thoughts. I’ll address this a little more in detail later. But, for now, let me say that the “celebration” called “Juneteenth” is a real façade and a real slap to MLK Day as well as all of the REAL WORK accomplished by the Civil Rights Movement. It didn’t start there and I’ll show you why… but, to stand up this day based on the embellished history of it is not only a façade, but a tragedy to many who could really unite and build more and more success from the foundations of great men and women who really gave their all to bring FREEDOM to a nation in crisis. But, come with me a little further… let’s go back to Atlanta in the 80’s for just a few more minutes.
Back to Atlanta… for a Minute or Two
My supervisors were right when they warned “Your degree ain’t worth sh– on the street son.” They were right… it wasn’t until that knowledge became applied and life tempered the education, that any of it had much value. That wasn’t the context of their verbal assaults, but at some point, we who are educated and / or engaged need to stop making decisions based solely in emotion, and begin listening and finding what we can learn in an effort to effect REAL CHANGE.
I think faith may be a little bit of the same dynamic. As a young Christian 41 years ago, I was on fire for Christ (A true Jesus Freak!) and had an idea about the way that everything was supposed to be…
As real life gets in the way of our ideals and our grand plans for saving the world get swallowed up as Jonah did by the whale, we begin to see things differently. Wisdom tempers knowledge, much like the deliberately folded layers of fine metal crafted by the master blacksmith on the anvil.
My hope is that some of what I’ve learned through a 34-year career and a 41 year walk with the Lord may have some value for you, and for me. I’ve heard several different quotes over the years, but essentially the one that makes a lot of sense to me here is that old saying, “I learn what I am thinking by writing.” Well, that’s me. Sometimes I just have to bang it out on the keyboard and hammer my thoughts on the anvil of time, to really understand what I’ve learned along this difficult journey we call “life.”
With that in mind, I hope you’ll journey along with me as I think through some of the lessons I have learned along the way.
I was a naïve young white male who thought I was about to set out on a great adventure, help people, rescue the downtrodden and save the world. LOL!
Well, then reality hit me right in the face as I entered the police academy and got my first taste of hate and anger in the real-world. I was “saved” (spiritually reborn and submitted to Jesus) and had been involved in quite a bit of “street ministry” already. I was also involved in the martial arts and had held my own in several pretty good fights. I wasn’t afraid. But, I should have been.
Life had already been difficult enough growing up in the divorce of my parents, and a tenuously blended family. Now, I was face to face with real hate – and people willing to kill me simply for the color of my skin. Atlanta would become the furnace that God would use to galvanize my own tenacious desire to understand and pursue this thing we call “freedom.” I would watch as black leaders spewed messages of segregation and use their municipal, state and federal power to promote black agendas, while trampling over the lives and rights of white people who had literally no idea or understanding as to “WHY?“
After working undercover against white supremacy, I really became aware of the levels of hate and how (maybe why) my black brothers felt as they did in the U.S. South. However, I also saw and experienced the hatred of the black supremacy movements of the 80’s and 90’s. We don;t see these movements as outwardly as we once did in the South. However, the rise of BLM and the hatred being pushed out into the streets and even into our communities, homes and churches very directly remoinds me opf the ignorance and hatred I once learned and experienced first hand as a young police officer in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Police patch has within it a phoenix rising from the ashes and fire. This is an obvious reference to the Civil War and Sherman’s burning of the City and subsequent “March to the Sea.” Most who may read this will have no idea what I am referring to, or how this reference even has relevancy today. Oh, but it does!
My prayer for Atlanta and for the rest of our broken nation is that we will somehow (through Christ and the local church) find the peace we are seeking. My prayer for this article series and the subsequent books is that we will find unity and restoration and that the generations of hate mongers who wish to capitalize and/or spread their toxic views will fade into history. I believe we can do this TOGTEHER. I believe the answers to the beginning and sustainment of this DREAM are in this trilogy – and particularly, in this article. We can rise from the ashes together. It will not happen by burning down what we already have built though. It will happen by uniting, and as some you will hear from later in this article have to say, let it be built on the blood and grace of Jesus Christ. Before that can happen, it would help to take a look at some relevant history and begin building with some building blocks of TRUTH.
Juneteenth and Emancipation… Huh? Why?
There seems to be some deep misunderstandings concerning Lincoln’s Emancipation and what some today celebrate as “Juneteenth.” This little bit of information is pretty important if you want to understand the trajectory of slavery and not only the freeing of the slaves, but the tremendous sacrifice of many, including African-Americans during the Civil War, to make that act possible. Some fat-cats in global business would have you believe that the races are far more separated than we are today. The fact of the matter is that the human condition has far more to do with where we are today than the color of our skin. Let’s look a little deeper into this and press [pause] while we consider some factual information and put the political agendas and their founders aside for a few.
Slavery is wrong – it is evil. But are you aware that it is alive and well today? Some were saying during recent protests that “until all black lives are free, then none are free.” Well, can I push back a little after agreeing with that statement in principle? Thousands of girls and women are in captivity and serving as sex slaves and worse all around the world. Yes, even right here in America. Why is there so little outcry? It would seem that black folks above all would rally to their cause – doesn’t it? Today, we call it “Human Trafficking.” It’s always been human trafficking and it has been alive and well since the beginnings of the human race. Africans were sold into slavery by Africans when the first boats arrived in the “Americas” during the 1600’s. Many Muslim countries still condone slavery and the abuse and exploitation of women and children.
How about the Native Americans? In history, and in present day, Native American women live not only in poverty conditions, but they also represent one of the highest populations susceptible to rape and sexual exploitation. Abuse in these communities is at epidemic proportions. Do you know what race fosters the kidnapping and exploitation of women and children into modern sex slavery? You may want to do some research on your own. Do you know what percentage of African American males are educated today? Despite the numerous programs and opportunities that exist, our society tends to seek a “target” to blame for victimizing the masses of those who remain below the poverty level and those who have chosen to do far less than they could have, had they chosen a different life path.
No, this isn’t an easy conversation, but it’s one that must be undertaken, if we are ever going to get anywhere in the fight against human suffering. There is an answer. The answer is already available and can change everything. The local church and Jesus. It’s that simple. But, let’s not make that trivial either. We’ll come back to that after we journey through several depths of matters like Juneteenth and some other related historical facts. There is a war raging, and while we can’t see it with our eyes at times, there is an evil that rises against all of us. Our unity is what we must seek to fight it together – and to win.
Juneteenth has become a celebration commemorating the lives of African Americans and the end of slavery in the Civil War. However, there have been many who use it as a grandstand to protest for inequality and injustice. Some, if not many have used Juneteenth as a platform to say that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation “became official on January 1st, 1863.”
While the proclamation was signed, this was only the beginning – not the end of the war, or the day the slaves were freed. Those who have settled for the Juneteenth “celebration” have really missed a beautiful truth that began at the Battle of Stones River – or what the “Rebels” called, “The Battle at Murfreesboro (TN).
While the Emancipation Proclamation would be signed, we as a people (all of us) have failed to celebrate perhaps one of the largest victories in the struggle for freedom in U.S. history. I say this often in my writing, but please, come walk with me a little ways. Let me show you a bloodstained patch of hallowed ground and the graves of tens of thousands of men who knew EXACTLY what they were fighting for… you see, Stones River, that tragic battle there also became a stake in the ground of sorts. It was the first moment in American history where the average man (soldier) became acutely aware that he might give his life to free the millions of men, women and children, who he had never met – he didn’t know – and he never would know this side of eternity.
The American Union fighting man became aware those bitter cold days that this battle to free the African and to unite the Union may indeed cost him his life. Many thousands paid that price and to forget their sacrifice would be as equally tragic as forgetting the love given and sacrifices made by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Perhaps, the difference is, in taking up the fight alongside of their African American brothers as the war progressed, their names and many of their identities would go unknown and unacknowledged. So, what if we chose to think on and recognize that the human race, not a particular color of race today is at stake, and that all of us do matter in the eyes of the Father Who created us. Oh, yes, there is a LOT to celebrate, but may I suggest that WE all have something to celebrate together, and yes, we ALL still have a battle to fight.
I’ll come back to Juneteenth in a second but check this out! I bet you won’t hear this in any of the articles or propaganda written lately about “who thinks who” is suffering. Seriously, please check this out. Remember that American hero and escaped slave who became a strong influencer and friend to Abraham Lincoln? Remember Frederick Douglass? Say his name and learn about him and what he knew and believed from firsthand knowledge!
But we are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the Republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers … if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a byword and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice , liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.Frederick Douglass, On Slavery and the Civil War
Juneteenth has merit only in that it is a celebration. However, the loss of energy and deliberate trajectory of the real movement to free all peoples in and under the banners of the “United States” is lost to a token celebration. The war is not over. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was well aware of this as he took up the mantle of Freedom and died fighting for it. I mentioned “fighting forward” earlier. Here’s some thought on how we do that in today’s climate.
Fighting Forward Through Accurate History
In December of 1862, President Lincoln was frustrated and becoming verbally combative with General Rosecrans (Commander of the Western Theater) as he continued to delay – and delay – at what Lincoln and the bureaucrats in DC generally termed “taking the fight to the enemy” – the Confederacy. Up to that point in the war, the Confederacy had won more than they had lost and the political climate in the North was beginning to fracture.
There was much indication as winter droned on in 1862 that if the Union did not win a decisive battle against the South, that the Union may be forced to make concessions or even worse. During that time Frederick Douglass was active and very much a strong influence in the ear and mind of the American president. When the war began, slavery was not so much a major factor in Lincoln’s decision-making as he pushed the Union into conflict with the South.
However, to say that slavery was not a factor would be far from correct. Slavery drove much of the commerce of the nation and positioned the U.S. South as one of the top five economies in the world at that time. There were over four million slaves and the commerce created by slavery pushed America into the global economy. The North’s control of the southern ports would have had eventual terminal impact on the slave trade at that time and recently surfacing documents and letters between the commanders at Fort Sumter South Carolina bear witness to the fact that slavery was indeed an issue.
While that may seem a noble cause, it was Douglass and Lincoln that pushed hard for the Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent battle that would ensue near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, that blistering cold winter of 1862. As protesters and antagonists attempt to shoot holes in the 1862-63 initiative of emancipation of the slaves, it might be a good idea to remember that a new and darker level of the Civil War had just begun. The Emancipation Proclamation was just that – a proclamation. Lincoln and Douglass both knew that for the proclamation to become effective, it would have to pass both the House and the Senate as a Constitutional Amendment. That did not happen until January of 1865.
Emancipation Proclamation 1862 – 13th Amendment 1865
All of the contemporary rhetoric about Juneteenth sounds wonderful! It sounds like something to celebrate – that is, if you don’t know or understand what the late Paul Harvey would have called, “the rest of the story.” Here’s why it’s important and within it, “We the People” can actually find our way to mutual and lasting freedoms for all Americans, regardless of skin color.
The Emancipation Proclamation was only the beginning of a long struggle that would weave it’s way through history right up and into our present days. Here’s what Frederick Douglass said about the document, process and the president: (Think on this)
“Abraham Lincoln may be slow … But Abraham Lincoln is not the man to reconsider , retract and contradict words and purposes solemnly proclaimed over his official signature… No! Abraham Lincoln will take no step backward. His word has gone out over the country and the world, giving joy and gladness to the friends of freedom and progress wherever these words are read, and he will stand by them, and carry them out to the letter.” (Frederick Douglass, On Slavery and the Civil War, Dover Publications, 2003)
The Emancipation Proclamation was an announcement. It was a warning to southern plantation owners and to the southern armies. Interestingly, as a side note, Robert E. Lee released nearly 150 slaves on his farm at Arlington, Virginia on that dark and cold January 1st in 1863. (I know, many reading this will say “Robert E. Lee didn’t own slaves!” That position would be part of a propaganda campaign called the “Lost Cause” doctrine that emerged post Civil War. However, we won’t deal with that in this article.) General Bragg (Confederate Commander at Stones River) believed on January 1st that the Confederacy had won the battles fought on December 31st. His lack of information and his inability to change tactics in the middle of the battle would eventually on January 2nd, 1863 cost him the entire engagement.
You see, the battle was still raging. Both armies were exhausted, cold and in need of regrouping. So, they rested on the first day after the battle (January 1st, 1863). The 2nd day of January would yield fierce fighting and again take thousands of American lives. The war for Emancipation of the slave had begun, but the victory that would eventually lead to Juneteenth and many other announcements in 1865 that slavery was now a criminal matter would unfold over decades and right up and into the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. Even after 1865, the South would not comply, and replaced “slavery” with “programs” that would literally just change the “label” and force black men, women and children back into forced labor and various levels of servitude. Law Enforcement and Unions were manipulated and controlled by government and business owners to force blacks and undesirables into labor in the coal mines, plantations and other forms of slavery involving sex, servitude and labor.
The rise of the Ku Klux Klan began as well as many other terror-based efforts to passively and aggressively resist the 13th Amendment. So, I ask you, why “celebrate” a day that in essence is really just a token day in the war against slavery and human rights in America? It provides a pseudo-sense of accomplishment, when in fact, some of the worst and most violent days in American history were about to begin. This ten-year period was called “Reconstruction.”
Unfortunately, the North after the war was worn out. The economy was broken and the South as a whole was completely disenfranchised economically from the world and the North. As Southern companies and plantation holders began these terroristic efforts designed to “re-brand” the institution of slavery, the North became complacent. Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated and the nation was struggling to recover. The North turned a blind eye and the next ten years became some of the darkest years in this nation’s history.
Here’s the Good News: Unity, A Story Within the Story
When General Rosecrans began the battle at Stones River (Murfreesboro, TN), he knew without question that the battle must be won. He and all of his command were aware that the balance of the war and whether or not the Emancipation Proclamation would ever be ratified lay in the balance that freezing cold winter morning. The news of Union victories and a prediction of a positive outcome pushed Lincoln to push the proclamation. But, the Battle of Stones River would not be over until the evening of January 2nd. And, the beginning of the battle for Freedom of the slaves and all people would begin on the 3rd of January.
It would not be right for me to pass by here and not let you know that my great great Grandfather was there at Stones River. He fought valiantly and with a Union Artillery unit that would capture it’s fame that dark day that eventually would take the lives of tens of thousands.
Literally thousands of white men gave their lives, knowing they were fighting for the slave and the Union. They believed what they were fighting for and they were willing to die for their beliefs and the freedom of literally millions of black people who they had never met – and that they would never have the privilege of knowing. My question to you is pretty simple. Are we willing to continue to dishonor the lives and memories of the men and the families who all sacrificed, many the ultimate sacrifice to free the slaves and to ensure a nation that would have all it needed to move forward toward that great ideal called “Freedom?”
As long as America has been a nation, all “colors” of people (I deliberately do not say “race” here) have fought and sacrificed to pursue that elusive ideal we dream of called “Freedom.” In truth, there was very little to celebrate after the Civil War. We refuse to teach historical truth in our public schools and many private institutions are just as defiant or ignorant. This goes back to the second suggestion for local churches and communities to deliberately put energy into education. But, let’s take it a little further, then we can see what several strong African American leaders have to say about the matter in contemporary terms.
Unity is the key to victory in this battle. My ancestors were first and second generation German immigrants. Some were also Scottish and suffered great oppression at the hands of the English. In truth, many of us in the United States come from immigrant families that were fleeing oppression and worse. After the Civil War, there were mob riots and the rise of Americans who called themselves “Native Americans.” They didn’t just focus on blacks, they hated anyone who had not been born in the continental land constraints of America. There was still a frontier and the United States Army turned it’s gaze toward the red man and the “Indian” tribes that still littered the entire Western frontier. There were black slave holders and there were white slaves. Then, the rise of American industry began…
The sub-human conditions that would make America great were not limited to black people or former slave families. So, whether you like it or not, we are all in this together. Greed and hate have wormed their way into American culture. Many leaders who pretend to be public servants, as well as many “shepherds” in the American Church are really nothing more than capitalists. I would venture this only as an opinion, but it is my position that these people (“leaders”) are the primary reason for the rise of socialism and what has been now branded as “socialistic democracy” in this nation. Neither of these models, nor the methods of the social elite who have created these paradigms can be found or supported in the Bible.
So, why have I shared all of this with you? In reality, we’ve not even scratched the surface of how wicked the conflicts and disputes in America had become during those days. It wasn’t until just before WWII that the last “slave” was actually released in the South. (Huh? What!?) Yep, that’s right. But, even with that in mind, are you aware of the working conditions before, during and after the Great Depression? How about the railroads and the American tycoons that drove the labor that made them filthy rich?
I wonder what might happen if we began to look at U.S. history for what it really is – what it really was… What if we looked at other nations that began, contributed to, and sustained the slave trade that began in the Americas in the 1600’s? What if we realized that hate in the heart of mankind, even today has not limited itself to any one color of skin?
Consider Israel in Biblical Times
I mentioned a couple of times that I have had to look back over my own life and both forgive, and adjust my thinking and perspective. So many times in my life, I have heard sermons, messages, podcasts and read articles that address racism by analyzing the story of the good Samaritan and other biblical accounts where God made it clear that he is no respecter of persons and has no place in His own heart for the biases of man. Jesus spoke to divided houses falling and even Peter was admonished by the Lord for his own biases toward the Gentiles. As a matter of fact, Cornelius the Centurion was Peter’s first Gentile convert to Christianity after Jesus had ascended into heaven after the resurrection. I love that story! I also love the story of the Centurion’s faith in Luke seven, when Jesus is marveled by the Centurion’s faith and even celebrates the idea that this Gentile had greater faith than any he had seen in all of Israel! Just wow! Right!?
I love all of these stories and they all inspire and encourage me. They also make clear the road to unity. But, can we just for a minute set these amazing stories aside and take a look at a part of the PROCESS that God uses in all of our lives as we journey through this world on our way to an eternity with Him in Freedom? As I look at my own life and the lives of others that I respect and admire, and as I have read, reviewed and analyzed the stories of many who have taken the time to share their testimonies, I see a thread that is common to all. I think I would at this point in my life say that common thread is PAIN.
I’d love to unpack this for you, as I know a lot of folks are hurting. I’ve spent a lot of my years dealing with all kinds of pain and suffering. But, even that is not where I want to take us on this short journey together. We can factor pain as we think about what God said to Israel as He began the process of bringing His own chosen people out of slavery.
Consider this for just a moment. But, before you do, may I ask you to set your emotions and biases aside? I did. I have. As I have gotten older, I can now say I know what it is to journey with God for 40 plus years… and, much of it seemed like desert travel. At this stage of life, I have a sense of what it must have been like to walk with God through dry and barren places, relying on Him alone to provide and to answer the big life questions that were present because of the generational sin of others – out of my control.
Have you ever spent time in a desert? If you are a Christian, or a Jewish person, have you ever wondered why God led Moses to free His people from Egyptian slavery, only to push them into the desert where they would have to totally rely on God and the few leaders God had chosen? Wow! This gets deep and I’d love to stay here, but we’re going to keep moving (Exodus 14:14) past it to the very roots of the “WHY?”
God allows us to suffer and what we might learn from this with respect to the toxins of racism plaguing our generations is a real path to Freedom and Change.
And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 8: 2 – 3, Bible (NKJV)
Have you ever noticed how rich black Gospel music is, or have you ever worshiped in an African American assembly to honor the Lord? This question isn’t just for white folks. Many, if not most black folks aren’t in Church on Sundays or any other time of the week for that matter. I played guitar and played in a Christian band when I was a young follower of Christ. Back then, we played in Coffee houses too. It was a lot of fun! I’ve also had the opportunity to be around and worship and play music with black folks and to participate in black worship. There’s a reverence before God that at times, I think the “white Church” has lost – or it may never have had.
Here’s the thing with that though… there shouldn’t be a black church, or a white church… Dear Christian, there is only THE CHURCH. The Lord’s Church. We are all part of His body and His Church. But, let me run with this a little further please. All through the Old Testament, God is speaking to His people about obedience and their faithfulness to Him.
John Perkins, a Christian evangelical leader and a strong voice who came out of the Civil Rights Movement, who has served as an advisor to five U.S. presidents is also an internationally recognized speaker and activist. John has been honored with 14+ honorary Doctorate Degrees and has written 17 books. I’m thinking that his age at 90, along with his credentials, just might qualify him as an “expert” in this area of racial reconciliation and relations. Oh, and by the way, John is an African-American who lived through all of those Civil Rights years. He too endured much of the turmoil and pain of discrimination. Not many like him still around. We are blessed to have such a human treasure still with us! He loves the Lord and has given much of his life to teaching, preaching and building unity among people. You good with that? Me too!
In an interview that you can find on YouTube John was asked the following question: “As you think of the next 50 years, what gives you hope?” Here’s what John had to say:
The intention of the multicultural church carrying out what Jesus told us to do, and he promised He’d be with us. We’ve got to do this together. I’ve got good news for the black church. I’ve got good news for the white church. We’ve become one, that the world will know that we belong to Jesus. They are singing a new song, a new song that we are all here together. We made it! If we get there, we’re going to have to get there together. This is good news! I like it! I like it. I like it.John M. Perkins, https://youtu.be/wCFquiCNArE
Does that sound like the message you hear in the streets from Black Lives Matter or from those destroying, looting, pillaging businesses, assaulting people and destroying property? Can we consider the “big picture” or the “historical picture” for a moment? Consider this:
What if we have all missed the reason slavery became a “thing” in America?
Anyone that is a student of Biblical history knows there were slaves during Biblical days. However, the Bible in no way condones slavery or one person placing or seeing themselves greater than another. (See Philippians 2: 1-8) Slavery, as well as war are results of the wickedness of man and his need to dominate, control and own what does not belong to him. (See James, Chapter 4)
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Book of Philippians 2: 1-8, Bible (NKJV)
The entire Old Testament and then the New Testament, which speaks to a new covenant between God and man is clear. Jesus came to set the captives free – so says the Word of God. (See Luke 4) Do we actually believe this? Does the Black Church believe it? How about the White Church? The Asian Church?
Wait! What Church is that? Black? White? – I think maybe we need to take a step back and consider what we are saying. John Perkins eluded to this and it’s pretty obvious he was inferring that there is no black or white church – but, The Church, which at it’s head is Jesus. It’s God’s Church and we all can come to Him for this kind of lasting peace we are seeking. Here’s what Dr. Voddie Baucham said in an interview that you can also find on YouTube. What do you think about this?
Race is arbitrary. Racial classifications are not real classifications. There is but one race. There’s virtually no genetic difference between us. By the way, if we were not of the same race, we couldn’t reproduce with one another. There is one race. We have the same original parents. We are of multiple ethnicities, yet one race and the racial distinction between us are arbitrary distinctions that make sense based on certain features that we have, but not based on real differences. They are arbitrary.Dr. Voddie Baucham, https://youtu.be/FoJGYCc7EUg
If you read the quote from Voddie above, consider this: He went on to say,
“Don’t you dare add anything to this! The blood of Christ is sufficient to reconcile us. It is the only thing that can reconcile us. The blood of Christ is enough. This is why looking for reconciliation through other means is futile. Christ not only gives us peace, and brings us peace, He is our peace. He not only accomplished our peace, He is our peace.” (Baucham, YouTube, https://youtu.be/FoJGYCc7EUg)
So what do you think? I’m thinking that maybe another suggestion for pastors and community leaders is that we need to consider looking to Jesus for our peace, provision and as the One Who can (and will) set ALL of us free.
Sometimes, I think we tend to get so wrapped up in emotions that we seem to forget what we are doing, saying and communicating. This can lead to open doors for those interested and willing to exploit our hardships and who seek to use them (and us) for personal, spiritual or political gain. You can see in the first two articles of this trilogy, that the belief systems of some, particularly those pushing a socialism agenda in this case, become conflicting ideals and worldviews with the Christian faith.
However, the Good News is that in the United States, we are still FREE to believe as we choose. We are FREE to CHOOSE what, and whom we believe and to make change and empower people at the local level. It’s when those local movements begin to take root and the roots begin to connect that we are able to build unity.
Jesus really is The Only Way: But then, That’s The Problem for Some. What if we stop pandering to emotions and agendas? What if we dig-in together and decide that we are really going to believe what the Bible has to say about people, the human race and the condition that is common to all of our hearts? Can you imagine… no really… just imagine for a moment if we all REALLY believed this Word of God and we all got on our knees together, confessed our sins before a Holy God, and asked Him to lead us into unity and community? There’s a model for this in the Second Chapter of the Book of Acts. The results very well might be similar. Dear Christian, this has to start with the local Church and we must truly believe the way Jesus taught us to believe.
Peaceful demonstration has it’s place in our culture and society. Violent demonstration is straight from hell and should never be condoned or pandered to – even by a well-meaning Church Leadership. Before closing, may I take a few of those I know and have served with aside? The rest are welcome to stay and read along… but this word is specific and special for my brothers and sisters in the “white church.” (making the point that the initial position of these well-meaning folks begins as a non-relevant position.)
Maybe one day, I’ll write a book called “Walk With Me.” It seems like many years of struggling along life’s journey has produced a long list of lessons-learned. The struggle today is aligning what some contemporary preachers and teachers have to say about such things as BLM, racism, social unrest, etc…
I read their writings or listen to their messages and scratch my head in pure disbelief. It allows me to know that the God who spoke to the Prophets of Old, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, still speaks to us today. In short, He told the leaders through the prophets that the words they were receiving were not from Him, but made up and designed for the personal gain of the false prophets. Maybe today, we should go back and take a careful look at these prophetic words and the direction God gave to them in those days of old.
In their podcast called the “Just Thinking Podcast,” Darryl Harrison and Virgil “Omaha” Walker, make a couple interesting observations. Let’s take a look at what they have to say, then I’d like to provide a little insight from my own years of walking this journey.
Watching white pastors apologize to black parishioners for historical racism. They are treating their black parishioners as if they are a perpetual victim.Darryl Harrison and Virgil “Omaha” Walker, Just Thinking Podcast
They go on to discuss the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) statement concerning the George Floyd incident. I agree with the sentiments shared by Darryl and Virgil concerning “people of color,” the SBC leaders also comment ethnocentrically about law enforcement officers, while failing to address widespread issues with clergy at a global and interdenominational level.
Here’s the thing… I really don’t want to spend much time on this issue. However, it is a REAL issue!
There are times, when the best thing we can do, is to remain silent. Do nothing. Stay out of a matter if it does not involve you or if you don’t have something of real or relevant value to offer. This goes back to the prayer thing I mentioned at the beginning of this article. If we want to see real change, we are going to have to be real people. We’re going to have to get on our knees, confess our sins together and pray. We must humble ourselves – not insert ourselves into a narrative that is faulty from the beginning.
The book Elusive Freedom that will follow these articles will drive deep into these issues and the facts and information that surround them. For now, at this time, I’d like to challenge our pastors and community leaders to follow the leadership provided by men like John Perkins. Take time to find and learn from engaged Christian brothers like Darryl Harrison and Virgil Walker. If you want to understand matters from the black, African-American point of view, then talk with people who live it and who have demonstrated histories and lives engaged with such matters. Becoming involved in the emotional reactions to marketing slogans and rhetoric is a sure way to create even further division among people.
I’m going to share a few more quotes from these men engaged in educating people through their teaching, preaching and the living of their every day lives. Just after addressing the absurdity of the SBC’s statement to “colored people,” Darryl and Virgil said,
Every human being on this planet is a person of color. We are all on the melanin spectrum. Some have less. Some have more… Your skin color cannot think. It is what it is. It is never a black versus white. It is heart versus heart. My melanin cannot sin against you, but my heart can…Darryl Harrison and Virgil “Omaha” Walker, Just Thinking Podcast
Harrison actually talks about being the descendant of black slave owners and they both go into detail about slavery having begun many years before the Americas were ever conceived by white people.
This is important because the Truth is what actually matters. There’s so much more to the story in America. There’s so much more to your story – my story. Every person has a story. Every person’s story matters.
Want to read a great book on this subject? John Perkins wrote a book that Rick Warren provided the Forward. If you really care about this issue of race in America and around the world, then I encourage you to begin to study, pray, listen more – and speak less.
If you have been hurt by racism, then seek out help as I have done over the years. Take time to understand those you think are your enemies. Get rid of the “adjectives” used to dehumanize and demoralize others and begin to think about what Jesus meant when he told us to love each other – more, what he meant when he commanded us to be ONE.
John Perkins pretty much summed it up in his book, One Blood, when he said, “The Bible says God made all nations from one blood. This tells me that He intended that humankind would be a people that were spiritually connected despite their cosmetic variations. This speaks directly to the call in 2 Corinthians 5 for people to be reconnected (or reconciled) to both God and their fellow man. Their connection is a spiritual one.”
In closing this three-part trilogy on racism, that I’ve called Elusive Freedom, what if I told you that we’ve missed it altogether Church? What if I told you that the issue of racism is actually not a social issue at all? What if we were to find out for sure that this issue that divides us is a plot of the devil designed to keep all of God’s people divided?
If I were the devil and wanted to destroy the only nation in the world that had a true opportunity to destroy division among people, I would set people of different colors one against the other. I’d cause them to believe they were different and that the color of their skin (something they see) was relevant in their quest for freedom. I’d set one color against the other and cause them all to believe their color of skin made them superior or unique. If I could achieve that one goal and turn them against each other, then I could destroy their nation, their Churches and any chance they had of destroying my kingdom of darkness.
So then, pastors, if the issue of disunity and racism (singular intentionally) is a matter of spiritual betrayal/deception and a matter of corruption in the hearts of men, what then? How then shall we live one toward another?
In the end, I think we all have a DREAM. A Field of Dreams. We’ve all journeyed through deserts and dark places at times in our lives. Some of us have lived through more turbulence than others. I wonder what might happen if we were to say simply that “TRUTH MATTERS,” and the lives of all that God has created must seek to become ONE. Social media has created an environment where emotions and opinions govern, and where truth has lost the battle for freedom. Yet, our minds, hearts and wills do not live within the confines of the Internet. Sometimes it feels like we live there – but we do not. Ah! So what if we believe the Bible and execute it’s Truths in our lives and communities? What if we were “woke” to a new dawn where our morning became dancing and where we allowed trust in the ONE Who made us to father and redeem us from the darkness of this world? The Bible clearly states,
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty (Freedom).2nd Book of Corinthians 3: 17, Bible, NKJV
I thought about creating some checklists and resources here for local pastors and lay-leaders, but I think I’ll wait and provide those in the book. It is my hope that these articles will become a resource for discussion and debate. Factual, honest and heart-felt debate and discussion. Dear pastor and Christian reading this, demonstrations will not get us to where we dream we can be someday in the near future. Local engagement at the local church level will create that exponential push we need to UNITY. Please don’t believe the lies of the enemy – spiritual or terrestrial. For us to become ONE BLOOD, we must seek the ONE Who made us and Who has promised to set us free. He said, all we have to do is – ASK.