General

29 Aug 2019

SO WHAT IS GOD UP TO?

By |2019-08-29T12:06:42-05:00August 29th, 2019|General|0 Comments

WHAT’S HIS END-GAME FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW HIM?

A FEW THOUGHTS ON REVELATIONS 7:13-17

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center
of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to
springs of living water.
And God will wipe away
every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelations 7:13-17)

These verses paint a spectacular picture of what’s in store for those who have chosen to give their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ and his gospel.

But first of all, let’s notice that this passage starts off with a little humor. We see one of the elders in the high courts of heaven showing the apostle John an astonishing scene that will take place in the future. And he asks John if he knows who these folks with the “white robes” are, and where did they come from?

John answers, “Sir, you know.” It’s like John was saying, “If you’ll excuse me for a moment, sir, you’re the one who’s showing me this “vision,” so I think I’ll go along with whoever you say they are.”

And the elder responds without hesitation. I can even see him with a comforting gleam in his eye, as he so proudly declares exactly who these folks are.

“These folks have come out of the great tribulation,” he says. And I believe he’s clearly defining these souls by saying something like: “These are the people who realized that Jesus’ shedding of blood for their sins was the gift that they did not deserve, and so they were willing to lose their “earthly lives” for His sake.”

And what is the result of their surrendering their “lives” unto Him for his honor and glory?

They are then rewarded with being permitted “to hang out” before God’s throne. But they’ll be doing more than just “hanging out.” They’ll be actively serving Him 24-7!

Now some folks might be thinking, “What? More serving, more surrender? What’s so great about that?”
But I don’t believe these folks will be thinking along those lines. No, I believe these folks will be so blessed to serve, to engage with, this God who is so far beyond our wildest imaginations. And why is this?

Because they have been granted their deepest desires that they had so faithfully been longing for “all their earthly lives.” And what were those deepest desires? To be accepted, to be loved, to be given a place their own ( John 14:3 ) , a place they will feel so secure and where they will be a willing participant of something so much grander than they could even imagine.

I believe it’s like God is saying, “Hey, don’t worry, I got you covered. And when I say covered, I mean covered. I mean, you’ll never ever be hungry, thirsty, again. And oh yeah, you know, when those temps on earth that reached almost “deadly levels,” like so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk hot, well there’s going to be no more than that to endure!”

And why is God so inclined to act this way towards these folks? It’s because this Lamb, this Jesus, who laid down his life for these folks is now simply fulfilling his promises to them. And notice, that even now, this Lamb, who is also a King, who is at the center of God’s throne, is acting as a “loving Shepherd” of his sheep. I guess it’s just a part of his nature!

This Lamb of God, who was the Good Shepherd during his earthly life (John 10:14-15), will simply continue on with his mission, and bring to fruition his desires for those who would follow him.

And a focal point of his “endgame” is that he, this Good Shepherd, will be overjoyed to give these followers real-life—eternal life! They will drink always from his “living water.” And I’d like to think that these “blessed” folks will also bathe in this living water.

And what happens when these folks are immersed in God’s eternal, living water?

They are so comforted, so relieved, so thankful, that they can’t help but shed tears of joy for God’s immeasurable grace and forgiveness towards them.

But then we see this God, wiping away every tear cried in humility, for being a “chosen one.” It’s sort of like God saying, “Now that you’re here with me, there’s no more need for the shedding of tears. That’s over with. Now it’s time to continue on “living.” After all, you’ve made it. You’ve arrived! Now we can continue on together—eternally—which is what I had in mind all along!”

Thanks for stopping by.

Chris.

22 Jul 2019

IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS!

By |2019-08-05T08:59:21-05:00July 22nd, 2019|General|0 Comments

I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT…

AND NEITHER DOES JANICE (aka Sister Pattie)

OR SOMEONE IN SCOTIA, NEW YORK

I was riding around my hometown of Scotia, NY with my wife, Sandy. I had just recently attended my 50th high school reunion. Now that was a “trip”—in a good way—and I’ll be happy to share some more that another time. I was satisfied to cruise by my family’s old houses, and just think back on 50+ years ago and how life was for me growing in the 50’s and 60’s. Of course, a lot had changed, but then again a lot had not.

Anyways, on our site-seeing jaunt we ran into this garage on the side of the street and it had, “It’s All About Jesus!” proudly displayed for all to see… and ponder.

Now this proclamation was not new to me. Indeed, it had been humbly modeled and repeatedly announced by a dear sister that I got to know many years back. And her “witness” had touched me so much that I just had to write about it. And it is a story that is found in my book, Discovering Jesus in the Least. The following is reprinted from the book.

There’s this one sister who puts a smile on my face nearly every time I
see her. Maybe that’s because she always had a smile on her face.
Janice was a humble, sweet lady, who carried herself with a lot of poise
and dignity. But it did appear as if she was just caught up in another universe.
I mean, she would hear whatever it was that you said, but it didn’t seem to
matter much to her.

In any case, this sister would come by to visit intermittently, whenever
she felt led. And the one utterance that would spring from Janice’s lips more
often than not was: “It’s all about Jesus!” It became her mantra, and it soon
became mine whenever our paths would cross.

One day we were short-handed on the serving line, so I asked her if she
wouldn’t mind helping to serve the food to our guests. She readily agreed,
and joined right in with our other volunteers. As each person made their
way through the serving line, many of them were greeted with “It’s all about
Jesus!” as they were receiving their food.

As I was watching her I felt a little uneasy, thinking, “Oh no, did I make
a mistake? Maybe her approach is going to turn folks off.”
But then I continued to observe the reactions of most of our guests.
Frankly, most folks didn’t seem to pay much attention to her mantra. They
were just happy to receive some food, and move on down the line.

But I’m sure she also received her share of mixed reactions. In other
words, some would’ve readily agree with her mantra, and offer an affirmative
response. Others, in all likelihood, were not so amused. And some were
undoubtedly more than a little irked at this sister’s seeming insensitivity.
Not one to get overly concerned, I chose to just sit back and think about
the profundity of what she was saying.

To be sure, I agree with her that it really is “all about Jesus!” And so, if “it”
really is all about Jesus then what’s wrong with expressing our beliefs—even
if it’s done in an unconventional manner or at an unexpected moment? If the
lady’s tone is sincere and humble, and she’s just being herself—I mean, I don’t
think I have a problem with that.

And I can guess who else doesn’t have a problem with it. After all, Jesus,
said it referring to himself in so many different ways. He was declaring in
no uncertain terms: “It’s all about me!” (See John 8:12, 11:25, 14:6, to cite
a few examples)

And so, if this is true, then Janice’s way of praising his being will be more
than welcome. For myself, I freely admit that I’d much rather hear this truth
proclaimed from this sister’s lips than from almost anyone else. When she
says it, I believe it a little more so.

And here’s a pic of “Sister Pattie” that was on her memorial service notification.

Just another fine example of “the least” teaching us exactly “Who” it’s all about.

Thanks for stopping by.

Chris

17 Jun 2019

1978 Rolling Stones Interview

By |2019-08-05T08:58:58-05:00June 17th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Spring 2019, Mick Jagger recovering from heart surgery.
Advised to Postpone Upcoming 2019 American and Canadian Tour

Pray for Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie, and Bill.

Can you believe it? The Rolling Stones are still very newsworthy.

Mick recently posted: “Thank you everyone for all your messages of support. I’m feeling much better now and on the mend—and also a huge thank you to all the hospital staff for doing a superb job.”

And then in another post: “I’m so sorry to all our fans in America & Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this. I’m devastated for having to postpone the tour but I will be working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can. Once again, huge apologies to everyone.”

Mick Jagger

So with the Rolling Stones still very much in the news and even having a tour planned and then postponed due to Jagger’s heart surgery, I was prompted to reprint an old “rock-star” witness that Cornerstone Magazine ran back in the summer of 1978. It was my friend, Jon Trott, and myself who had the opportunity to meet up with a few of the Stones.

As you will see, we weren’t shy about sharing our faith. That was the way it was back then. We were “Jesus freaks” on a mission. And if you had asked me if I thought that the Stones could possibly be touring (or even alive!) in 2019, I would have answered, “No way.”

But then again, who am I? What do I know about the future of anyone? Not much, not anything really.

All I know is that I believe in II Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise (of a day of judgment coming), as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

And so with those thoughts in mind, I invite you to listen in on the brief encounters we had with a few of the Stones back in 1978.

All of a sudden Jagger pulls up in his limo. He and his girlfriend get out and survey the whole setup. Everyone stands back in awe. He’s here.

A series of people casually file by making their adoration vocal. Seeing Jagger alone for a second, I walk up to him and blurt out, “Hey, Mick, you know Jesus loves you?” as I hand him a couple of tracts. He takes the literature and with a quick negative glance, takes off behind one of the trailers.

It was July 8, and we were backstage at the Rolling Stones concert at Soldier Field here in Chicago. After getting a quick witness to Mick Jagger, we continued to share with a few people who were a part of the Stones’ entourage. Amidst the trailers, small tents, the barbecuing, and the drinking, we had quite an eventful day. We knew the Lord had gotten us in, but was there going to be another chance to witness? All we could do was pray.

That night, the Stones showed up at a small club where Muddy Waters was playing, and we got another chance to talk to them. When the show was all over, they were whisked into a small dressing room in the back of the club. “Now you’ve got ten minutes,” the manager told us. “There’s a lot of people back there, and I’ve got to keep them moving in and out. So when I tell you you gotta go, you gotta go, OK?” “OK.”

So when we entered the dressing room, we knew didn’t have much time. We quickly took in the scene, which revealed a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of about thirty in a small, dank, dressing room. Nearly everyone had a drink in their hand and the atmosphere was bubbling. Jagger was standing off a ways from Muddy Waters and the other Stones. I boldly approached him. “Hey, Mick, remember me? I was the guy who handed you a couple of tracts down at the concert today. What do you think?”

“I get them all the time. I don’t really get into tracts,” he said in his thick English accent.

“Well, anyway, do you know the Lord really loves you? He really cares about you?” While I continued telling him of God’s love for him, he started mumbling under his breath, “You can’t be telling me this. You can’t be telling me this. You can’t be telling me this.” All of a sudden, he looked up from his drink and threateningly blurted in a stage whisper, “Hey, aren’t you afraid the Lord will put a curse on you?” “It’s only the devil that’s going to put a curse on anyone,“ I replied. He sarcastically shrugged and said, “Oh.”

He didn’t want to continue our conversation, but it was crowded and while he was trying to get away, I leaned over and said, “You know something? The devil has a real hold on you, but the Lord can set you free!” He stopped for a second. He was stunned and acted like he couldn’t believe his ears. I added, “We really love you Mick, and we’ll be praying for you.” He slowly continued to mingle in the crowd and soon left.

Ronnie Wood

Ronnie Wood was busy whooping it up. “Hey, you know the Lord really loves you?” I said.
“Oh, yeah, I know He loves us all,” he said, very drunkenly.
“Don’t you know that He wants us to live for Him? “
“Hey, man, I ain’t got time for that stuff. My life’s too messed up already without giving it to the Lord; it’s bad enough. That’ll make it worse. Besides, I’m having too much fun right now. I can’t think about that.”

“But, Ron, don’t you see that if we can’t get along with the Lord down here, we’re never going to get along with Him for eternity?” “Yeah, I see that,” he said hesitantly. “But hey, man, really, the Lord’s too heavy for me, man.”
“Well, we really love you, Ronnie, do you know that?” “I know you do. I really do. And I have to admit, you really make me think. You kind of set me back about three steps.” “But really, don’t you ever get tired of this whole party scene?” He thought for a second, “No!” “Hey, by the way, where’s Bill Wyman, anyway?”
“Oh, he’s back in the hotel, all whacked out.” “You know, Jesus does love you, and we’re all praying for you and we care about you.” He seemed to lighten up a little and said, “Hey, man, that’s cool, thanks a lot.”

Bill Wyman

Then I looked over at Keith Richards. He looked really out of it. He looked like he was on what they call a “mean drunk,” so I hesitated to go over to him. Charlie Watts was sitting off to the side, all by himself, so I went up to him.

Charlie Wats

“Hey, you know Jesus really loves you, Charlie. He wants you to be living for Him.”
“Yeah, I know, “ he said casually.
“Have you ever really received Him into your heart?”
Thinking . . . ”I don’t know.”
“Well, if you don’t know, then you haven’t.”
“Hey, man, I’m doing alright.”
“Yeah, but are you serving God? Is he number one in your life?”
“No, I can’t say that.”
“Well then, what is? Do you live for yourself?”
“No.”
“Other people then. You live for other people, right?”
“That’s right.”
“Well, that’s still wrong, you see, because the Lord wants to be number one. You see, it says in the Bible that you have to love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, mind, and body. Then other people come second.”
“Hey, man “ Charlie said. “You know if Billy Preston was here, he ‘d be preaching to you.”
“Yeah, I know. I talked with Billy Preston recently. Do you know he has a Gospel album out?”
“Yeah.”
I told him that we really did care about him and that we’d be praying for him.
Finally, I turned back to see what Keith Richards was doing. He looked like he had lightened up a touch. I went over and butted into his conversation in a nice way. “Hey Keith, you know the Lord loves you.” He was stumbling around.

Keith Richards

“Yeah, yeah, I know He cares about me,” he said cynically. “I just hope He cares about me enough to keep me out of prison.” (Richards was facing some criminal drug charges in Canada at the time.)
“Well, you know something, Keith, even if you have to go to prison, He wants to be right there. He wants to help you out.”
He seemed to turn bitter. “Hey, man, I don’t even want to talk about this anyway.”
I told him Jesus really did care about him. I just wanted him to know that he had a bunch of people here in Chicago that would be praying for him.
We witnessed to a few more people and then we felt it was time to split. As we were leaving, an old man, who was the chauffeur for the Stones, was having a rough time walking down the stairs. He was really blasted. So I offered to help him down. He refused. Then I said, “Jesus loves you.” He suddenly became enraged and, in a fury, hurled his glass down the stairs, where it shattered.

Looking back on the whole day, I couldn’t help but remember what it used to be like for me. I used to be an old Stones freak. My favorite band. I would have thought this was really great, to be backstage with the Stones, to go to a nightclub where they were at, and then get a chance to talk with them. That would have been heavy.
But all during the day, I just couldn’t help feeling pity and sorrow. Even that afternoon, while they were playing, with sitting backstage, it seemed like the Lord was speaking to me, “Do you know that these guys could be dead in a week?” And then I thought of Lynyrd Skynard, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin.

Above all, I felt He showed me that these guys are really scared, and I’m sure that they have a lot of late nights when they curse the day that they were born. And when they sing, “I can’t get no satisfaction” ( ironically, it was their last song of the concert), I’m sure they mean it a lot more now than they did back when it was first released.
What’s more, it seemed to me that these guys had lived their lives to the hilt for the devil. They went all out. And this is how we believers need to be living for the Lord. We need to be living all out. Let’s pray for the Stones. You never know what’s going on down in their hearts.

End of 1978 interview.

And now that we know that the Stones are still “rolling” can we still find it in our hearts to keep on praying for them?
And so, that is what I’m asking you to do.
Because remember what the Lord has said—that he’s not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. In fact the verse before this one tells us that God’s timing is not like our “timing” in our mind’s comprehension. In fact, “With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.“ (II Peter 3:8b)
So even though the Stones have been going for more than 50 years and say they want to keep on going, it’s really just a drop in the ocean of time.
You just never know what might happen. And maybe we’ll never know if anything has ever happened in their relationship to God or not.
Our lot is to pray for God’s mercy towards these folks. After all, he sure did show us a lot of mercy and grace, right?
And we’re no more special than they are
So this could be “The Last time” that the Stones and everyone living like they do (or wish they could) hear this message. Why? Because none of us know how much time we have left. And “Time” is definitely not on their side”… especially at their ages.
And God says to us all: “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (II Cor.6:2)

Thanks for stopping by.

Chris 

20 May 2019

The Walk Home

By |2019-08-05T08:58:49-05:00May 20th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Encountering 3 Beautiful Souls on Wilson Ave.

I was walking home from work when I ran into three beautiful souls on Wilson Ave. I had a quick chat with each one, and they each gave me permission to post their pics.

#1 Beautiful Soul. Meet Thomas.

Thomas is a man that I’ve known for a few years. He’s frequented our food pantry and soup kitchen. He always seems to have a smile on his face, and he’s always so grateful for anything that Cornerstone is able to give him.

Thomas says he believes in God . . . and I believe him.

 

#2 Beautiful Soul. Meet David.

 

David is someone that I hadn’t met before. (But then I can’t be certain of that, my “recall” cannot be trusted anymore.) Still, I introduced myself, and he quickly responded with “Chris, hey, you know that’s my son’s name.” And I said, “Oh yeah, that’s cool.”

We chatted for a few moments, and he told me that he was definitely a believer in God. And he said it with such calm, conviction that nothing more needed to be said.

As I turning to go he said, “Hey, you want to know how my son got his name?”

“Yeah, sure,” I said.

Then he went to tell me about the first girl that he had a crush on in Junior High School. “Her name was Chris,” he said with a smile. “So I thought you might find that interesting.”

“Oh yeah, that is interesting,” I responded, and wished him well.

 

#3 Beautiful Soul. Meet A.J.

Then I ran into A.J. sitting against our local convenience store building next to his bicycle.

A.J. told me he was 58, and that he no longer ran the streets like he used to. He said he used to drink a lot and live the life of a gigolo.

But then one day he got so wasted that he nearly died. The doctors told him that he had three times the amount of alcohol of a normal “drunk” person in his system.

After that encounter, he said that the Lord had a “serious” talk with him. He decided to get some help and in 2004 he joined Alcoholics Anonymous. He also started going to Uptown Baptist Church from time to time.

“The Lord’s been good to me,” he said. “He’s really taken care of me.”

So on a casual walk home I met three beautiful souls. And all it required was slowing down and engaging these folks for a few moments.

Thanks for stopping by.

Chris