Marines.Together We Served

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Let's Celebrate!

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
6 August 2018

Let’s Celebrate!

          One of the prime focal points we find in the Bible is the intentional act of engaging in celebration. This means we are to participate in celebrating every aspect of life as God has ordained it.

          We often run into difficulty when life rolls us up in troubles of every kind. We lose perspective on our lives and how Jesus wants us to walk with him. We focus on the problem, the fear, the loss, the pain, or any other difficulty you would like to add. I would recommend you take some time to look through the Bible and see what it says about rejoicing. It will challenge you, trust me!

          In Philippians 4 we are admonished by the Apostle Paul, who was no stranger to physical ailments, beatings, stonings, ship wreck, and the like, to, “Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice!”

          As a minister and chaplain for forty years, I have witnessed the attitudes of Christians who had failed to connect with rejoicing. It was so clear that those who made it a point of rejoicing, especially in the hard times, had a completely different temperament than those who found it difficult to live out the command to rejoice.

          This attitude of rejoicing is never more critical than when the death of a loved one, or close friend occurs. On August 27th, my mother-in-law, Alda Cabral, passed away at age 85. For the past number of years, she has been dealing with a number of physical ailments. Her body had finally given up.

          Last Friday we held the funeral service for her at a church in her town of Los Banos, California, about 55 miles from our home. As the six siblings discussed the plans for a proper send off, it was emphasized that because their mom had accepted Jesus as her Savior, the service was to be a celebration!

          A real cute story best depicts this need to celebrate through rejoicing. The secretary of this church, whose name is Jen, was wonderful, as well as graciously patient in helping pull everything together. The youngest of the siblings is Judy, and this is her church. My mother-in-law attended a Portuguese church which was some distance away. Jen’s four-year-old daughter Alice, noticed a sadness about Miss Judy. She said to her mother, “Why is Miss Judy sad?” Her mother replied, “Miss Judy is sad because her mom has died.” To which Alice said, “Do you mean she has moved to heaven! Oh! She’s happy in heaven! I’m going to move to heaven too, but not today.” Out of the mouths of babes!

          When I am the minister responsible for a funeral I always focus on the joyfulness, the celebration of the occasion. When I know the person that has died was a Christian, having accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, it is much easier to celebrate. When I officiate over a funeral where I am unsure of the person’s eternal standing with God, it becomes exponentially more difficult.

          Since my wife and her family emigrated to the United States fifty-two years ago, the weddings and funerals I’m involved with are always bilingual. The Portuguese pastor, Eugenio Piacentini, and I have performed a total of six weddings/funerals jointly over the years. I will speak a few words in English, then pause while he translates into Portuguese. He’s very good, so we move along quite well. At times I get a bit lively in my delivery, but Eugenio comes right out with the same energy in Portuguese. A number of folks told us after the service that we should take our duo on the road! We enjoyed a laugh over that.

          Three of the daughters and two granddaughters each wrote a eulogy which they asked me to read for them. I enjoyed this part because there were lots of fun remembrances shared by all of them. There was laughter in the telling of these stories which has an amazingly positive effect on the whole ceremony. Maggie, one of the four daughters, had written how much her mom loved to shop at Gottchalks. Early on after settling in America, Maggie would go shopping at Gottchalks with her mom. Maggie was able to speak English well enough, whereas my mother-in-law never quite got the hang of it. But Alda loved to barter. She told Maggie, “I want to barter with this sales girl.” Maggie responded, “Mom, you can’t do that! That was fine in the old country, but this is a large corporation!” Her mom was not deterred, and still attempted to barter price with the sales girl.

          Later at the committal service graveside, I asked the question in my best stentorian voice, “Where is Alda Cabral? Has anyone seen her? No?” I then went on to explain that according to Scripture, Alda is in heaven. And that is cause for great rejoicing!

          Jesus makes this promise to all believers in John 14, “In my Father’s House are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

          That is cause for great rejoicing, and eternal praise and celebration! Four-year-old Alice has that all figured out. Do you?

Monday, July 23, 2018

I'm Back

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
23 July 2018

I’m Back

          Many of you have contacted me over the past three months to inquire about my weekly column, Roots in Ripon. In mid-April I decided to take a break from writing the articles since my brother, John, was coming out from Virginia for a visit and a lot of golf. This included a jaunt to Nampa, Idaho to connect with out cousin Jimmy. I wanted to enjoy the time with them without the ever-encroaching demand of another article.

          However, the primary reason for not writing my articles had to do with the newspaper that was carrying my column. For a not-yet-explained reason, despite my numerous inquiries, the paper made it plain to me that they wanted me gone. For 15 years I have written this column, first for the Ripon Record, which folded in 2015, and then with the Manteca Bulletin for two years. During those fifteen years I never once failed to submit an article. This included my two years being recalled for the Iraq War, flying over the Pacific, Atlantic and most major continents. I served at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton (California); Camp Commando, Kuwait; I MEF Headquarters, Babylon, Iraq; and Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa.

          In the current environment of our nation, I’m led to believe that my conservative views politically, and my religious views as an Evangelical Christian, are no longer welcomed within the print media, or few other places for that matter. I am dismayed by this as it is clearly a sign of the times. Not so many years back, we could have healthy debates and dialogue, engaging in the give-and-take of differing points of view, yet coming away as friends despite our differences. Not so today! The attitude seems to be, “If you don’t agree with me, then you’re the enemy!”

          Think about it! Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, was having a quiet dinner a few weeks ago with her husband and extended family in a local restaurant. Because she works directly with and for President Trump, Sarah was told she was not welcome in the restaurant, The Red Hen. She and her husband left, driving home. The rest of the family adjourned to another restaurant across the street. They were followed by staff of the Red Hen and harassed there as well!

          Pam Bondi, Florida’s Attorney General, was confronted by several belligerent men while she and her boyfriend were attempting to enter a movie theater. This was an effort to intimidate. These goons taunted her boyfriend, calling him out to defend her. This went on for several minutes, with the men even spitting on her because she is politically conservative and is a Trump supporter. The foul language they used was revolting.

          Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was having a working dinner with her staff at a Washington, DC Mexican Restaurant. A band of protestors heckled her for her supposed position on illegal immigration.

          Then there was the seventeen-year-old kid who was approached in a fast-food restaurant by a middle-aged man who ripped the kids red MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat off his head, and then threw the contents of his soda cup in the kids face. The man walked away taunting the kid and stealing his hat. The good news is, someone videoed the encounter, so when it went viral, his bosses at the bar where he works as a bartender, fired him.

          Congresswoman Maxine Waters, has been on a rant, publicly calling for her constituents in her Los Angeles district to harass, harangue, and in every way confront and badger anyone who voted for or supports President Trump. She exhorted these followers to surround the homes of these Conservatives, chanting and creating havoc so they could not get any sleep. In essence, there is no place in her world for those with differing views.

          Civil Discourse seems to be a thing of the past. The rudeness and abusiveness of those who think differently makes the possibility of the old saying, “ Let’s agree to disagree,” no longer viable. In the 1980s during the eight years of the presidency of Ronald Reagan, it was well known that he and Tip O’Neil, 47th Speaker of the House of Representatives, though on different sides of the fence politically, nonetheless, were good friends, often getting together in the evening to share a drink.

          I am reminded of what the Bible says about our speech and the power of the tongue. One of my favorite translations of the Bible is called, The Message. It is quite contemporary in its use of the language. Speaking of the dangers of that funny little muscle that lives tucked away in our mouths – the tongue – James writes, “This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue – it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!”

We are admonished by Paul in his letter to the church in Colossae to “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them up.”

Let’s agree to push back against the viciousness that permeates today’s discourse. Let’s do it God’s way. Be gracious and civil. King David perhaps said it best in Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Monday, April 09, 2018

I'll Take Heaven

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
9 April 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

I’ll Take Heaven

My topic today is something I never imagined I would write about if I had not watched the news and read the published accounts of what took place.

The question then is, “What exactly happened?” This is where it gets a little bit murky. I’m talking about the recent news story attributing to Pope Francis remarks he allegedly made in which he appears to suggest that Hell does not really exist. As you might surmise, battle lines have been drawn over the issue of where the Pope stands concerning the existence of Hell.

Well, whether he said those exact words, or implied Hell does not exist, is something for each person to decide for themselves. I am not attempting to defend or be critical of the Pope. He made remarks to a journalist who is a long-time friend of his in an interview last month. It is important to note that this Italian journalist is an avowed atheist (there is no God), and does not take notes, nor use recording devices in his interviews.

However, from other interviews and comments the Pope has made over the years it seems as though he has theological leanings that do not always square with the Bible, or with Catholic doctrine. From what is reported the Pontiff has said that those who earnestly seek God with a whole heart will enjoy His presence in Heaven forever. On the other hand, those who are outside of the faith will disappear. They will not suffer the torments of Hell for eternity. They will no longer exist.

Such a position has a name within theological circles. It’s called Annihilationism (also known as extinctionism, or destructionism). The soul of the person who has rejected God in Christ will be judged at the Final Judgement. When it is determined that the person being judged has rejected God, then that person will pass into a condition where they no longer exist.

The position of annihilationism may bring a modicum of comfort to those who fear for the eternal loss of a loved one by suggesting they no longer exist. It is difficult to fathom, and painful to imagine a loved one suffering in Hell for eternity, I grant you that. But, if the Bible is correct and true, and is God’s holy word, then my discomfort with an endless eternity of suffering for those who are lost, is moot.

This brings out another problem within the broader church worldwide today. Too often unpopular doctrine firmly based upon biblical teaching, is ignored or replaced with a new doctrine which carries little or no biblical support.

For instance, it is popular today to suggest that all religions, faiths, doctrines, creeds, and so forth are as valid as any other. The popular bumper sticker COEXIST is printed in such a way as to use symbols from various world religions and beliefs to infer that we should all just be able to get over our differences and get along. That sounds wonderful on the surface, but totally impracticable in its implementation. A cursory review of the texts deemed holy by any of these beliefs will quickly identify the fly-in-the-ointment, so to speak. Islam, which is bent on world domination, cannot and does not want to get along with anybody, especially Christians and Jews. The very first chapter (Surah 1) of the Koran (Qur’an, if you like), attacks Christians and Jews, claiming that Allah is angry with them. That would be a little bit difficult to ignore, don’t you think?

Whether the Pope said Hell does not exist, or implied it, or didn’t make any such comment, is irrelevant in the final analysis. True, to faithful Catholics he is the Vicar of Christ, the bodily representation of Christ on earth. This would then beg the question: If he is the representation of Christ on earth, would he not be in error to go against two thousand years of Christian doctrine by asserting that lost souls merely disappear, and not suffer for eternity? The Bible is crystal clear on several points. First, there really is a Hell. Second, the ruler of this dreadful place is Satan, the devil. Third, Jesus warns of Hell throughout his three plus years of earthly ministry. Fourth, the Apostle John wrote the final book in the Bible, Revelation. You cannot escape the reality of Hell reading through the twenty-two chapters of this hair-raising epistle.

Someone might say, “Well, I don’t believe in the Bible.” Fine. Then what do you believe in? And what is that belief based on? You see, I accept the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. That he loved me and died on a cross for my sins so that I might know him personally, experience his forgiveness, and live with him for eternity in Heaven. That’s why the message of the Bible, the Gospel, is referred to as Good News!

Another reason I believe what the Bible says is that Jesus rose from the dead. Anyone who can do that has my attention! And I figure he ought to know. If he says there’s a Hell, then there’s a Hell.

Someone might want to imply that I surely grew up in an environment where the Bible was used to make me fearful and cower under the thunderous preaching of the fire-breathing preachers. Nope! Not my experience. In fact, my brother, sister and I grew up in a very liberal environment. Church? To be decided when we were older. Playboy magazine was on the coffee table. Conversation in the home and around the dinner table ran the gamut of topics.

I accepted Jesus as my Savior at twenty-four. You see, for me, Heaven seemed a much better place to spend eternity.  

Monday, April 02, 2018

An Extraordinary Gift

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
2 April 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

An Extraordinary Gift

It came from out of nowhere. The fragility of life, with its many twists and turns, at times flowing along with unannounced, undemanding companionship, while at other times crashing into the calm waters of our existence in a totally disruptive, petulant manner, forcing the unsuspecting person to take notice of the immediacy of an insistent problem that must be addressed, regardless of the person’s pedigree, status, or station in life.

Sometime in the 1990s, as I recall, we became aware of our niece’s health being compromised by the onset of diabetes. Abi was in her teenage years, only to discover that she was now medically classified as a brittle diabetic. Over the next several decades she ran the gauntlet of sugar spikes, constant finger pricks, trips to the ER, all the while coming to grips with the reality that this failure of her body to produce the necessary amounts of insulin would most likely end badly for her.

Last November her kidneys reached the end of their usefulness, forcing her to enter into an aggressive program of dialysis treatments. In the meantime, the medical staff said she would need a new kidney and a new pancreas. Her name was entered on the waiting list in hopeful anticipation that parts would be available. It became a wait-and-see game, only this game was deadly serious.

A few weeks ago, our family was notified that a donor was available to give her a kidney. We were excited and relieved. A kidney meant hope, and possibly buying time until a pancreas donor could be had. The surgery was scheduled for April 10. Shortly after this announcement, the surgery was cancelled. Abi valiantly continued showing up for work, only the dialysis treatments and general fatigue of her body’s battle left her drained.

Then last Tuesday evening, Abi received a call from the hospital announcing that they had a deceased 20-year-old, the victim of a homicide, and that she needed to come in right away. My brother drove her to the hospital where she was prepped for the surgery the next day. The pancreas and kidney transplant took five hours and was a total success. The medical team that has been working with Abi could hardly contain their joy, even commenting, medically speaking, that Abi had hit the lottery.

As of this writing, Abi is doing wonderfully well. The day following the surgery they had her up and walking around the ward. The kidney is functioning beautifully, relieving her of the need for any more dialysis treatments. Add to that, the report from the doctors declares that the pancreas is pumping out insulin, causing the doctors to affirm that Abi is no longer a diabetic!

Over the next few weeks Abi will need to give her body plenty of time to recover from this invasive surgery. The company she works for has been very supportive of her during this ordeal and is holding her job for her until she is well enough to return.

Among the many amazing facets throughout this ordeal is that Abi was actually third on the list for organ transplant. However, because she was needing a double-transplant, she was moved to the top of the list. The medical rationale for this decision is based upon a donor who could provide both needed organs. The body has a much better chance of accepting the new organs if they are from the same donor. A kidney could be donated by a live donor, but a pancreas meant that someone would have to die.

We do not know who the deceased donor is, and probably never will know, but this extraordinary gift has meant that my niece will live. The family of this donor is grieving the loss of their loved one. They were willing to make a decision to allow their child’s organs to be used by others. As I understand it, besides the pancreas and kidney received by Abi, the other kidney was donated to another recipient, and still another person received the heart. All precious, life-saving gifts!

Obviously as a family we are overjoyed that Abi is no longer riding the edge of uncertainty regarding her enormous health issues. Many tears of relief and joy have been shed during this past week. Our church folks and friends have been faithfully praying for Abi and our family throughout this ordeal. Prior to the start of our Easter service Sunday morning, I was standing outside the front door of the church just reflecting on how grateful I am knowing Abi is enjoying a level of wellness she hasn’t experienced in a very long time. One of the ladies of the church was walking toward the door. Recognizing me, she asked, “How is Abi doing? I’ve been praying for her every day!” This was only the first of many who were asking about my niece. I must tell you that it touched me deeply, bringing tears of appreciation to my eyes for the faithful prayers of these fellow travelers.

As it was Easter Week, I couldn’t miss the similarity of what our family experienced and the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. For Abi to live, it was necessary that someone else die. And that’s the meaning of Easter. In order for you and me to live, Jesus needed to die. But the best news is, death could not hold him!

Hallelujah! He is risen!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Easter: Fact or Fiction?

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
26 March 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

Easter: Fact or Fiction?

If you are a regular reader of my column then you know that I am a professing Christian. To more precisely identify the type of Christian I am you would want to use words like: evangelical, born again, Bible-believing, Jesus follower.

So, it comes as no surprise that I firmly believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. And this weekend is the Christian celebration of Jesus’ sacrificial death on a Roman cross, followed by his miraculous resurrection from the dead.

Can such an event really be proven? This question is frequently asked, most frequently by skeptics, but also by those who want to know but really have no means of tracking down conclusive evidence.

Because our world for the past 200 years has focused in on science and the answers it frequently discovers about our world and the universe we live in, people have been conditioned to expect that proof for anything must be measured by some sort of testing under specific conditions measured in a laboratory. If that is your means of proving anything, then you already know that God, and the existence of God, cannot be measured in this way. He is not going to be reduced to a microscope’s magnification of germs captured between glass slides, or culture cells in a Petri dish. If the discovery of God was so easily reduced to scientific lab results, can you honestly say you’d be impressed with this God?

Let’s consider instead another means of establishing the existence of a thing. Ontology is the branch of metaphysics that studies the question of what it means to exist. Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that deals with questions of knowledge and the existence of the world, which includes ontology, cosmology, and epistemology. Such philosophical disciplines are exhausting and can often leave the inquirer more confused than before.

My purpose is to simply look at some of those arguments for the existence of God, followed logically by the life and ministry of Jesus.

One of the arguments for the existence for God is intelligent design. A useful analogy has often been used to explain the necessity for the existence of God. The analogy goes like this: “Just as a watch demands a watchmaker, so the Universe demands a God.” This is not a conclusive argument, but it does convey the basic thesis that the obvious order exhibited throughout our universe strains the credibility of disorder (Big Bang Theory) creating order.

Another argument for the existence of God is found in the hypothesis that an individual is entirely incapable of even thinking of God unless a sovereign God places such a thought in the mind of that individual, and therefore the whole human race.

One final argument for God’s existence is the argument from creation. Have you never stood in awe while soaking in the spectacular colors splashed across the horizon at sunset? Or stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon as the Colorado River meanders by a full mile below? Or been amazed by the design, function and usefulness of the thumb?

In more recent times, the discovery of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), “a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.” Last summer my wife and I had our DNA tested. From a few drops of spittle, and nothing else, the researchers of my DNA knew exactly where my ancestors came from, and where they migrated in America. And this DNA which is impossible to see without powerful microscopes, contains all the information necessary for my existence.

The Bible asks the rhetorical question: “Is anything too difficult for God?” The answer is No. So, that means if God chose to bring about the salvation of sinful humans, and he wished to demonstrate the full force of his love for us, then would it not stand to reason that he would provide the means by which you and I could be saved?

God chose to pay the price himself. He was willing to sacrifice his own son, Jesus, to open the door for each and every person to receive his forgiveness, and with that, the promise of eternal life with him in heaven forever.

“But we don’t know that to be empirically true,” someone might argue. And I would agree. Neither you nor I saw Jesus during his earthly ministry. But we have written records of those who did see him. Many of these witnesses were so utterly convinced of his death and resurrection that they were willing to die in their firm belief.

Two thousand years of Christians have embraced Jesus Christ, many martyred for their faith in him. You see, those Christians all knew something special. Jesus is not dead. He is not in the tomb. He is alive! And that’s a fact!

When Mary and the other women came to the tomb of Jesus to anoint him in burial, they did not see him. An angel spoke these words of hope to them: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!”

He has risen indeed! Happy Easter!

Monday, March 19, 2018

An Act of Political Courage

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
19 March 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

An Act of Political Courage

As an amateur student of history, and in particular American History, I have always been amazed at the manner in which the United States of America came into existence. How were these colonialists of the seventeen hundred’s in what was known then simply as America, able to come together from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and form a more “perfect union”?

In the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, we read these enduring words: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (British spelling of defense), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
What I should like to point out in this Preamble is the focus on the wording. The Founding Fathers purposefully wrote a Constitution that was for all Americans and was intended to last into perpetuity. That means it’s as relevant today in providing America with a basis for rights and liberties as it was the day it was drafted in 1787.

Enjoying the comforts of a prosperous nation such as we have become, fogs the image of embattled patriots encamped against the most powerful monarch in the world at that time (King George III), and the most powerful army, the British Redcoats. Yet fully two-thirds of the colonists were preparing themselves to resist Britain, even if it meant war.

The Constitution was written for the American colonists, but it was also written to King George as a challenge that these colonists who had been mistreated and denigrated as second class British subjects, had had enough. That is not to say that all Americans were wanting to push back against the oppression of the British crown. Some were willing to grovel and fawn before the power of the rule of Britain.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in his “Summary View of the Rights of British America” in 1774, these words of challenge that he knew full-well would be read by the king. “Let those flatter, who fear. It is not an American art form.” Americans do not, and will not, ever bow to a head of state, including our own. In fact, George Washington would not hear of being made King of America, as some petitioned. And he had the foresight to recommend for the presidency no more than two four-year terms.   

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The delegates from the original thirteen states set in motion the eventual undoing of slavery with these words, “All men are created equal.” To them, the truths that were self-evident, were truths ordained by God so that the entirety of the human race would recognize that all humans are of one family. To oppose such an understanding, or to treat others as lesser beings, is in direct contradiction to what God had declared in Holy Scripture.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” It’s at this point, these final words of the Declaration of Independence, that the signers on this hallowed document laid everything on the line. The year was 1776, and the Revolutionary War was already underway. In fact, the outcome was in serious doubt.

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, all knew what they were getting into. If the colonists should lose the war, then they would be hung, shot, or otherwise dispatched from this earth. The best they could hope for was to be captured, returned to England for a trial and then executed in some hideous manner. The members of the 2nd Continental Congress had been arguing over many issues. Once the Declaration was finished and all agreed to sign it, a comment was made to Benjamin Franklin that they must all hang together in a show of unity. Is said that Franklin responded with this quip: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately.”

Though these men were of varying backgrounds, educational levels, even places of birth (some born in Britain, while most were born in America), and though they did not agree on all issues (slavery, for instance), they also realized if they had any chance to be free from the oppressive rule of Britain they must, at all cost, come together in unity. And they did!

The signers of the Declaration were not revealed until January of 1777, following General George Washington’s Christmas victory in the Battle of Trenton (NJ), and in early January, the Battle of Princeton (also NJ).

The Revolutionary War would last until 1783, but the die was cast. The army Washington commanded would indeed defeat the vaunted British crack troops, and America would be reborn as the United States of America, all because a few dozen patriots were willing to give up everything they had in life, including their own lives, to establish for the world the “land of the free, and the home of the brave!”

Monday, March 12, 2018

Warrior Culture

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
12 March 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

Warrior Culture

Over the expanse of human history, a definite group of people in each society has emerged and remained. This group is often referred to as a “warrior culture.”

A warrior is a person specializing in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based warrior culture society that recognizes a separate warrior class or caste.

There is a strange phenomenon that takes place within cultures that have a warrior culture. When that culture finds itself threatened by outside forces, they turn to the warriors, or army, to confront the foe in order to protect the general populace. Though this warrior class is expected to be prepared to take on all comers, when the battles are over and all has returned to normal, the warriors who have done all the heavy lifting are expected to disappear until needed the next time a threat is on the horizon.

Many of the greatest and most fearsome warrior cultures became more than protectors of their tribe or people group. Often these warriors took advantage of their military power and acumen, becoming predators of the very people they were expected to shield from evil forces.

The United States of America is a rare exception when it comes to establishing and maintaining a warrior culture. When it became evident that the colonists were going to end up doing battle with Great Britain and her vaunted Red Coats, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to establish a standing army. It was on April 19, 1775 that the “Shot heard round the world” was fired during a stand-off between the American “Minutemen” and the British Redcoats on Lexington (Massachusetts) Green. This brief skirmish quickly moved to the next town of Concord, and the American Revolutionary War was underway.  

However, it was not until June 14, 1775 that Congress approved the raising of 10 companies of riflemen to enlist in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia until the end of the Revolutionary War. At the time, this band of warriors was known as the Continental Army but is still regarded as the birthday of the United States Army.

Some months later, the Continental Navy was formed, giving birth on October 13 to what would later become the United States Navy. In all six frigates were commissioned and used for several decades, especially against the pirates from four Muslim African Mediterranean countries preying on ships, stealing cargo, and taking control of the ships for their own use. The sailors were taken prisoner and made slaves on these pirate ships.

The next military force to be birthed was the Continental Marines on November 10, 1775. In a famous watering hole known as Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, the first Marines were recruited to conduct ship-to-ship fighting, provide shipboard security and discipline enforcement, and assist in landing forces. They were known primarily for their exceptional fighting ability.

The United States Coast Guard was established on August 4, 1790, known then as the Revenue Marine. Not until January 28, 1915 was this naval force named the United States Coast Guard.

With the advent of flight, early military fighting forces were part of either the Army, the Navy, or the Marine Corps. Formed initially August 1, 1907, the Army Air Corps became a significant force all in its own, eventually separating from the Army to become the United States Air Force on September 18, 1947.

What makes our military unique in the realm of warriors is that all branches of our military serve at the pleasure of the head of the civilian government – the President of the United States. The President is Constitutionally appointed to be the president of all Americans, but (s)he is the Commander in Chief of every single person serving in the uniform of our military. This was brilliantly thought out by the Founding Fathers so as to deter the threat of mutiny, junta, insurrection, or a military takeover of the civilian government from within the military. The President is the boss over every single general and admiral, period. He can promote them to positions of greater authority and responsibility, or he can fire them.

Another fact that makes our military unique is that we do not wage war or engage in military conflict with the purpose of expanding our reach and power around the world. Some territories have been gained through treaty and purchase. And even land we have won at the expense of American blood on foreign shores we eventually turn the land back over to the original owners. Or if a country which we formerly liberated and where we had military bases decides they don’t want us there any more, we pull out. France is a good example. We saved their bacon in two world wars last century, yet sometime in the 1960s they wanted all of our military bases closed. Same with the Philippines in the 1990s. We even returned the blood-soaked island of Iwo Jima to the Japanese, where more than 6000 Marines were killed toward the end of World War II.

Our military is part of that historical warrior culture, but we who serve or have served, are perfectly content to live in peace. Please remember this. They are not to be feared except by those who are enemies to liberty and freedom.

These are our sons and daughters. May God bless them and the USA!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Where the Blame Is

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
05 March 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

Where the Blame Is

In light of the tragedy that occurred in Parkland, Florida where 17 high school students were gunned down by a former classmate, I thought I might step into this hot-potato issue. I’ve written before about guns, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and the 2nd Amendment which insures every American the right to self-protection.

In this article I wish to approach this emotionally laden subject from a bit of a different slant. Perhaps you have read about these incidents.

*A man attacked 22 primary school children and an adult, as these children were arriving at school. All 22 children and the adult were injured.

*In another attack, an unemployed middle-aged doctor killed eight children in order to vent his frustration and anger over a thwarted romantic relationship.

*Yet another man broke into a middle school, injuring two students before fleeing the scene.

*Still another man attacked 1st and 2nd grade students, injuring eight. His actions were caught on security cameras, charging after children in order to hurt or kill them.

These are just a few of the stories I found, and they are chilling. You may be thinking, “Where did these horrible attacks occur?” The answer is: China, from 2010-2014. And there are more, many more such stories. But you get the point. And did I mention that not once was a gun used? In every instance, a knife, a machete, or a meat cleaver was used to injure and kill students.

Oh, but the politicians in Washington DC, assure us that such horrific attacks occur only in the United States. And, after all, guns are the real problem, they say. And isn’t the common denominator, whether in China or the U.S., that all the attackers are males!

Is getting rid of guns going to stop these horrible crimes? No. Is confiscating all sharp objects going to make the children in China safer? No. Since all the attackers were males, then just kill off all males! That’s what King Herod of Israel did in ordering the murder of all the baby boys two-years old and under in his attempt to kill the baby Jesus.

A reality that far too many folks ignore or refuse to deal with today is that there is evil in this old world. Granted, some of these situations are caused by a person who is clearly not right in their head. They need professional help. But in way too many other situations, it is simply a matter of a person choosing to commit an act of pure, unadulterated evil.

But why would anyone who is normal in every other way, choose to perpetrate such a heinous crime on children, or on anyone? Because they can, that’s why.

America, and to a larger extent, the world, has opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box. How have we done this, you ask? Let me give you three ways, though there are certainly more.

First, as a nation, America agreed that God was no longer essential or wanted in our nation. Many of you will remember when the Supreme Court of the United States authorized the removal of prayer from our public schools in 1962. Bad idea.

Second, the value and sanctity of human life was dealt a devastating blow when, again, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of abortion on demand through the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision. Another bad idea.

Third, the pampering and molly-coddling of our youth. Many are afraid of their own shadow, needing safe spaces, and teddy bears to comfort them from the evil that people do. They are ripe for attack from bullies who see them as easy prey.

So, here’s my proposal: Let’s invite the Lord God back into our lives, our schools, our society. Let’s recapture the respect for one another that the Bible clearly teaches. Let’s revisit this antiquated idea that we should fear God. Why? Because every single person will one day be presented before God to give an account of their life. Our actions will ultimately speak louder than our excuses.

Why were there no such awful crimes against children when I was in elementary school during the 1950s? Because there was still a very strong fear of God and his judgment which prevented many people from choosing to do evil against others. They feared punishment from society and from God.

And it’s past time to begin toughening up our young people. Life isn’t often easy. And it isn’t often fair. But we are not doing the next generation any favors by attempting to remove all the bad things that could happen. There are great lessons to be learned through adversity and conflict. I was often picked on because I was short as a kid. Every so often I would get into a fist-fight with the guy bullying me. One thing always happened whether I won the fight or not. The bully quit picking on me. And sometimes we even became friends.

I have more to say on this, but it will have to wait.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Well Done, Billy

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
26 February 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

Well Done, Billy

If ever there was a person to emulate, it would have been Billy Graham. This past week, Reverend Graham breathed his last on this side of heaven, leaving the cares of this mortal life behind at age 99.

There are few names that are known world-wide, but Billy Graham is among those few. His ministry has been, by any measure, phenomenal. His compassionate delivery of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to millions around the globe through his crusades are the stuff of legends.

Billy Graham was truly an inspiration to those of us who lived through the many decades of his ministry. Whether or not you believe in the Gospel which Billy Graham preached, it cannot be denied that he faithfully proclaimed the Good News right to the end of his life. There was nothing phony about him. He is the real deal.

How many people of every race, tongue, and tribe around the world have accepted Jesus as their Savior because of this man’s ministry? Year after year his Billy Graham Crusades filled stadiums and arenas around the world. At the end of each sermon, an invitation would be offered to anyone desiring to accept Jesus. Having attended a couple of crusades, and even working in one in San Jose in the early 1980s, I was impressed with the simplicity of his delivery, while at the same time the winsomeness of Christ was unmistakable in his appeal to sinners.

We Christians often get excited about what it will be like when we get to heaven. A verse from a song by a Christian singer known as Honeytree several decades ago rings in my mind. She wrote, “Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace! I wanna see my Savior’s face, ‘cause Heaven is a wonderful place! I wanna go there!” Well, Billy Graham must have experienced that wonderful reception when he stepped across that great divide between here and eternity. I suspect that after he has seen Jesus face-to-face for the first time, he will then begin the time of being greeted by those who accepted Jesus at his crusades. He may be busy for a while!

I never had any personal contact with Rev. Graham other than he walked within an arm’s length of where I was serving in the San Jose Crusade. My mother attended the Oakland Crusade in 1972 where she committed her life to Jesus. The Lord must have been working on both my mother and me at the same time. I was overseas then, totally unaware of my mother’s decision. A few months later I gave my life to Christ at a Christian Serviceman’s Center (the ministry known today as “Cadence”) in Yokosuka, Japan.

Over the years my wife, Isaura, has told me how when she and her family immigrated to the United States from the Azores, Portugal in 1966, she needed to learn to speak English so she could fit in in this new language and culture. She studied hard, picking up on the language quickly.

What amazed her was after only being in America six months, listening to Billy Graham on the radio or television, she found that his speech delivery was so basic that she could understand what he was saying, bringing her great comfort and hope as she acclimated to her new home in America.

Wanting to learn all I could about living for Jesus, I naturally looked to Billy Graham shortly after receiving Christ as my Savior. I learned some valuable lessons about his life which I still adhere to to this day. One of those is Billy would never meet with a woman who needed counseling with the door to his office closed. His secretary could always look in through the partially open door to confirm nothing untoward was taking place. This protected the reputations of both Mr. Graham and the woman. I have held to the same practice throughout my years of pastoral ministry and military chaplaincy.

Another stroke of wisdom which Billy insisted upon was during his many travels, he would often be staying in hotels. As he became increasingly popular world-wide the concern for someone wanting to sully his reputation would increase. So, before he would walk into his hotel room, his staff would check it out from top to bottom to ensure that there were no surprises which could wind up on the front page of the tabloids.

When it came to Scripture he would read through the Book of Psalms, the book of Proverbs, and the Four Gospels each month. This way he covers the vast array of life experiences as portrayed in the 150 Psalms; the wisdom found in the 31 chapters in Proverbs; and the life, ministry and words of Jesus in the combined 89 chapters of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I have found this practice to be immensely helpful in my own life, and in ministering to others in their time of need. 

And then there’s this final action he insisted upon from the inception of his ministry in 1949. So as to be sure his ministry could never be proven to have mishandled funds in any way, he had the IRS audit the books of the Billy Graham Association every single year.

In my estimation, Billy Graham was without peer. We’re not likely to see someone like him again for quite some time, if ever.

And now he has heard God say to him over in glory, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.”

Well done, indeed, Billy! Thank you for your faithfulness. See you in glory!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Norway in My Heart

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
19 February 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

Norway in My Heart

I have been deliberating with myself as to what topic I should address in this week’s article. There is the tragedy of yet another school shooting, this time in Florida, where a lone gun-toting teenager entered his former high school intent on mayhem and bloodshed. Believe me, this is a topic I could spend countless articles expounding, but my heart just isn’t in it right now.

There is the ever-pernicious Russian Collusion, raising its ugly head yet again with a report from the State Department indicting thirteen Russians and three Russian companies, charging them with attempting to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. Interestingly, the point was made that no Americans were involved in any collusion effort. This story was scrapped because it has become tiresome, with a media that is boorish in their frantic attempts to pin something, anything on this president in a strained effort to tear President Trump down.

Rather, the highlight of the week for me has been the Winter Olympics, held this year in Pyeongchang, South Korea. I am always fascinated by the dedication and toughness Olympic athletes demonstrate, whether in the Winter or Summer Games, spending countless hours training just for the opportunity to compete against others in your chosen discipline. I will say that I’m glad the two games have been rotated so that one of the games is held every two years instead of the old format where the Summer Olympics were quickly followed a few months later by the Winter Olympics. Then you had a four-year wait for this pattern to repeat itself.

Admittedly, I enjoy the Summer games to the Winter, but both are great to watch. Having spent two years in Norway in my early teens, I learned to appreciate some different sports than what was offered back in the U.S. The games that we played in Norway were primarily of the winter sport variety, such as cross-country skiing, ice hockey, slalom skiing, downhill racing, and speed skating. Many more winter sports have been added since the early ‘60s. Snow-boarding in a variety of forms is a big one.

So, I’m turning on the TV early in the week and already Norway has launched into a massive lead in the medals count. As of this writing, Norway has amassed 26 medals. In second place is Germany with 18 medals, followed by Canada with 16. The U.S. is presently in 6th place with 10 medals. Even South Korea has 6 medals, three of which are gold. That’s very exciting for the host country.

I am a member of the Overseas Brats which consists of kids of military families who at one point attended a Department of Defense school somewhere around the globe. For the past thirty years or so, many of the Brats have been gathering each year somewhere in the U.S. to have a reunion. Last fall it was in Huntsville, Alabama, which I wrote about in an article entitled, “Vikings Rule!” (, September 25, 2017).

The school I attended in Norway was called the Oslo American School (OAS). Though one of the smallest schools in number, the kids from OAS always seem to outnumber the kids from schools elsewhere. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company at these reunions. And we keep in touch throughout the year, mostly by Internet.

So, when the Norwegians began to rack up the medals, we OASers began group texting each other, excited to cheer on our adopted country, Norway. It’s rather stunning to see Norway cleaning up in these winter games when they have a population of just over five million. Especially when you compare them to the United States, Russia, China, and Canada. But skiing and skating are more than winter games in Norway. It is a part of everyday life. I used to ski about a half-mile to the bus stop for school. I’d strap the skis to the side of the bus and ride the hour-and-a-half to school. I would pack my ice skates in my backpack so we could play ice hockey during lunch (I still have scars to prove it!). Parents would glide along on their skis with their toddler standing on the parent’s skis while being held up by the hand by the parent. Kids sometimes learned the balance of skiing before they learned the balance of walking.

The two most exciting events for me this week was watching the women’s cross-country relay ski race and the men’s as well. Both had the Norwegians lagging well behind the Russians, or the dreaded Swedes. In each race, the Norwegian athlete overcame the gap and raced to the finish line earning the gold medal.

I know it probably doesn’t mean anything to you. But to Brats who lived in this northern country for a time, it is special. We were lamenting in out texts that we wished we still had our wooden skis, or wooden ice hockey stick. OASer Steve Robinson reminded us that he took ski lessons from the 1960 Norwegian Olympic slalom champion, Tom Murstad. A lesson cost about $1.40!

Of course, we all want to see the United States do well in the Olympics, and there’s another week still to go. But there’s a soft spot in our hearts for the athletes of Norway. And there always will be.

OASer Maryl Ball Sellman summed it up best: “We have so many wonderful memories from Norway. I think that’s why we all get together every year, just to hold onto them.”

Amen, Maryl, amen!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Homage to Patrick Henry

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
12 February 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

Homage to Patrick Henry

School was a drudgery for me. I don’t mean the school itself. My teachers were very patient and helpful. The teachers I had throughout elementary, junior and senior high always dressed well. The men wore a coat and tie, and the ladies wore dresses or skirt/blouse combos. I wanted to like the subjects, such as math, science, English composition, and so on, but it was a continuous struggle for me to earn the barest of passing grades.

The one subject I always gravitated to was history. World history, Ancient history, American history – it didn’t matter. It was fascinating to me how others lived their lives and dealt with life’s challenges.

In particular, I loved American history, and still do to this day. Of special interest to me is the Revolutionary period from 1770-1790. This was the time of trial for an emerging nation faced with internal conflict and external threat from the parent nation, Great Britain, forcing the colonists to kowtow to the King of England and the pernicious offing’s of a self-absorbed monarchy . . . or else!

The colonists who were already settled in New England and the eastern seaboard enjoyed a thriving commercial venture with the parent nation, England. Tea, tobacco, and cotton were just a few of the products brought in or shipped out of the colonies. However, the government of England ignored the growing complaints from the slighted colonists who took umbrage to the fact that their attempts at being heard suffered a cold shoulder by a callous, uncaring monarchy. Instead, they were given short-shrift, often never giving audience to distant aggrieved loyal American subjects. Some historians suggest that as many as one third of the colonists were opposed to war with Britain.

These American colonists were faithful to the British crown, believing that their hard work and steadfast dedication as subjects to an ever-growing British influence world-wide would be to their benefit. Such wishful thinking was not to be.

Colonists struggled under the increasing taxation levied against them. In addition, they resented the heavy-handed manner imposed by a British military requiring by force the housing of troops in American homes against the will of the home owners. Further grievances included a deaf ear from the British parliament concerning a myriad of issues the colonists felt were wrongly imposed on them. Thus, the cry of “No Taxation without Representation” was given a voice. A forced religious acceptance (the Church of England), a free press, and a host of other protests were gaining traction within the American colonies.

So, on March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry stood to speak at St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia. It is often listed as the “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!” speech. The British army and navy had amassed along the shoreline of Virginia. This was not a church service, or a meeting of the congregants. No, this was a meeting of the Second Virginia Convention, meeting in a church far away from the capital which was then Williamsburg. In so doing, the delegates hoped not to incite reprisals from the British Lieutenant Governor.

Patrick Henry listened to various speakers, all recommending supplication to the British crown. Henry had heard enough of this blather. He is literally disgusted with the quisling attitude of his fellow Americans colonists.

In the remainder of this article I will share snippets of Patrick Henry’s speech. It should genuinely stir a flow of patriotic blood coursing through your veins.

“MR. PRESIDENT: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony . . . Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? . . . Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. There is a just God who presides over the destiny of nations . . . The war is inevitable and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

“It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, 'Peace, Peace,' but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

          What a patriot!

Monday, February 05, 2018

Making Some Sushi

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
05 February 2018
The Ripon Bulletin

Making Some Sushi

The article I wrote last week ended with me attempting to use chop sticks for the first time in a Japanese home in Hiroshima, valiantly attacking a sticky rice ball in clear broth. Mr. Shaw Fuji, or Fuji-san as I called him, became a good friend. On those weekends that I had off, I would grab the train and spend the weekend at his home.

          His was a traditional Japanese home. He and I would sit cross-legged on a tatami mat with a table before us for drinks and food. I say it was a traditional home because Fuji-san’s wife was only seen when she brought in another heated bottle of sake (Japanese rice wine), or food. Otherwise, I never saw her. We would sit and have lengthy conversations about all sorts of topics, consuming quite a bit of sake. Sake is served hot, and goes down very smoothly.

          I discovered that he studied English solely in Japan. He never traveled to an English-speaking country, or attended an English-speaking school. He was proficient enough to be a teacher of English. His command of the English language was indeed admirable. I asked him one time what the Japanese thought about the United States having dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and then Nagasaki to force an end to World War Two. He was thoughtful for a few moments, and then said, “We don’t talk about it, really. But, if we had had the bomb, we would have used it on you.”

Since he taught in a high school, from time-to-time I would meet some of his students. On one occasion he introduced me to two teenage girls from one of his classes. I smiled, shaking their hand, saying, “My name is Chuck-san.” Both girls immediately started tittering, looking from me to Fuji-san and back to me while holding their hand over their mouth (it’s considered impolite for them to show their teeth). This puzzled me, so I asked Fuji-san, “Why are they giggling?” He smiled and said, “Well, in Japanese, Chuck (or it’s equivalent sound) means zipper.” I’m not sure if I turned red at that point, but I suspect I did!

One evening Fuji-san said, “Let’s go to a sushi bar.” Sounded good to me, so we left the house and walked to the local sushi bar which I learned was a favorite of his. It was early in the evening, so we were the only customers at the time. We sat at the bar watching the chef put together a platter of sushi for the two of us. I was intrigued at the way the chef sliced and diced various sea food and vegetables for the fingers of rice on the platter (the finger of rice is an oblong, compacted mound of rice). The next thing I knew, the chef was beckoning me to join him behind the counter. Sounded good to me, so I jumped up and made my way around the counter. After scrubbing my hands at the sink, he handed me an apron which I put on and stood beside him where he taught me to make the rice fingers. He then showed me how to slice the different kinds of raw fish to go atop the rice, including sea weed. I was really getting into it when I heard the door open. Looking up I saw a Japanese couple standing there, awe-struck, staring at this white guy from America with a Marine high-and-tight haircut, making sushi. The expression on their faces was priceless! Unsure at first, they finally decided to come in and sit. They even ate the sushi I had prepared. That was a special moment for me!

Since I was unfamiliar with many of the customs of Japan, I learned an embarrassing lesson at the Fuji home. Wishing to take a bath, Fuji-san showed me where the tub was. After the house was quiet that evening, I stepped into the bathing room. I noticed an odd shaped tub full of hot water. I stuck a toe in to test just how hot it was. It was hot! Well, I figured that if these folks could take a really hot bath, then so could I. The warning signs went off in my head, and the good sense that God gave me was over-ruled by my declaring to no one but myself, that I’m a Marine, and I’m tough, and I can do this!

When I was done, I looked a lot liked a boiled lobster. I dried myself off, drained the tub and went to sleep on the tatami mat. The next morning Fuji-san came into the room smiling. He asked if I had slept well. I assured him that I had. He proceeded to inform me that the hot water I bathed in and then drained is their supply of hat water for use throughout the day. What I failed to realize was there was a pitcher for dipping the hot water and then pouring it over your body on the ceramic tile flooring. Then you soaped yourself down and rinsed with more hot water. The water would then run down to a drain at a low spot on the floor. I felt really foolish. I don’t know If I was still red from the hot bath the previous night, or I was just red from embarrassment, but it was a painful lesson.

It was about eight months later that I was back in Japan playing football for the Subic Bay Admirals (from Subic Bay Naval Base, the Philippines) when I walked into a Christian Servicemen’s Center in Yokosuka. I heard the Gospel presented in such a way that I simply knew I had to make my decision to trust Christ as my Savior that night.

I have always been amused with the realization that I was born and raised in the most Christian nation in the world, and yet I had spurned Christ and the Gospel. Yet at the age of twenty-four and a sergeant in the Marine Corps, I find myself accepting Jesus in perhaps the most closed nation to the Gospel in the world.
Many years later as a Navy chaplain I would return to Japan numerous times while the command chaplain of the supply ship, the USS White Plains (AFS4). More on that later.