General

17 Apr 2018

Are you becoming friends with nobodies?

By | 2018-04-17T21:02:53+00:00 April 17th, 2018|General|0 Comments

AM I?

Over my many years of attempting to follow Jesus I’ve had a struggle with the desires to be somebody… somebody “great.” It could also be called a desire to be first. And I have to examine where these desires stem from.

Maybe it stems from growing up in our culture… where everyone can get their “15 minutes” of fame. Maybe it’s a part of my wanting to validate my existence not only to God, but to my Christian brothers and sisters, and to my family and relatives. Maybe it’s my own deep insecurity of desiring to prove myself. It’s probably a combination of these and other reasons…not the least of which is pride.

Jesus says, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35b, KJV) And Jesus also says, …”for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” (Luke 9:48b,KJV)

So what do I learn from these statements? Well, interesting enough, we see here that Jesus doesn’t discourage me (or anyone else!) from desiring to be someone “great” or “first.” He just defines what somebody “great” in his mind would look like. And he says in effect, “Ok, Chris, so you want to be considered “great” in my eyes? Well then, I want you to lead the way… by becoming a servant to ALL. In other words, I want you to take last place.”

Jesus is asking us to step down…way down. He’s asking us to be servants of “all” people . And for me, when I do this—stepping down off “high horse” —I find myself staring into the eyes of our “dinner guests.” I find myself standing or sitting right next to the “least of these.”

And what do I discover? I discover that they are already in the “last place.” Indeed, this is where they live! And so it is they who teach me lessons on how to feels to be “last”….or for me not being noticed or recognized as I desire.

But there’s an even deeper truth that I learn as I aspire to be the servant of all. Somehow, in God’s mysterious ways, we are brought together… and somehow we “bless” each other. And so I discover that it is our “dinner guests” who help keep me close to the real Jesus, who demonstrated by the way he lived that he’s always close to these “least.”

So I’ve been going to “school” all these years. And what I have learned? I’ve been attempting to follow the advice of the apostle Paul when he writes, “Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.” (Romans:12:16b, The Message) And I have to give the credit to my many friends. I’ve discovered that I’ve been taught by some pretty good teachers most every day.

Chris. Thanks for stopping by.

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2 Apr 2018

Anthony Finds a Home in Chicago!

By | 2018-04-02T21:35:55+00:00 April 2nd, 2018|General|0 Comments

Now if he can just find a wife!

Technology is an amazing thing! Now I know all you persons under 40 don’t need me (over 65!) to tell you how incredible it is to talk and email and communicate across this world. But then again maybe you do.

Why? It’s because you—yeah YOU— and that includes a whole lot of human beings who kind of take this stuff for granted… well maybe not for granted, but let’s just say folks who call it “no big thing.”

I was walking out my Jesus People home front door when I ran into Anthony… a long time friend who I hadn’t seen for awhile. He has happy to see me, but he was very engrossed in a conversation on his phone.

I stopped for a moment, allowing him to continue his conversation, when he abruptly started telling me that he was talking with his brother—Pastor Johnny—over in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. And he went on to tell his brother about me and my work. I was a little taken aback (not really) at his bringing me into his phone call.

“Here, you want to talk to him?” he said, handing me the phone.

“Well, sure….if he wants to?” I replied. “Hello Pastor Johnny, how are you? How are things going over there—in Ethiopia?”

“Oh, pretty well, ” he said. “I understand that you’re a friend of Anthony’s? ”

“Yeah, that’s right,” I said. “He’s been a helpful volunteer, at different times, over the years we’ve known each other. And Anthony tells me that you have a great work over there for the Lord.”

“Yes, we are blessed to be doing his work, ” he said.

We chatted a little more about how God is moving in so many different ways, and Johnny couldn’t agree more, calmly ending our conversation with, “This is God’s time.”

I handed the phone back to Anthony, and he finished up his talk with his brother. Then I invited Anthony over to my office (only two blocks away) so we could talk some more. He agreed.

Anthony told me how he had come to Chicago way back in 1992. And he told me how he loved it. At present, he was working as a lobby attendant at the famed “Drake” hotel in downtown Chicago. He told me he was 48 and single—which means he was not married, that he had not been “blessed” to have a wife.

“Yeah, Chris, I have a lot of friends, here in Uptown,” he said. ” A lot of people know me. And I love helping to serve the Monday meal offered to the community at Uptown Baptist Church.”

And he told me how our “poor” folks in Uptown have it so much better than so many “poor” in his country of origin. And he told me that there is about 8 million people starving right now over there. And he said for some folks over there —a few pieces of bread might be all they have to eat on most days.

Anthony is thankful to have the life that he has. He just asks me —and all you readers–to pray for God to bring him a good Christian woman, a good woman he can share his life with, and serve and love the Lord with… together.

So–Prayer requests! For Pastor Johnny and his outreach, For “the least” in Ethiopia, who have so little. For a godly wife for Anthony.

Take care. Thanks for stopping by. Chris.

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29 Mar 2018

Say Hello to Zoilo Balbarino

By | 2018-03-29T21:43:34+00:00 March 29th, 2018|General|0 Comments

From the Philippines to Chicago

There’s a rather diminutive man who stops by our Cornerstone Food Pantry on a fairly regular basis. I’d seen him many times before, but I did not know his name or his country of origin. So last week I approached him and asked him to tell me a little about himself, and how long had he been in Chicago.

The man sat down and smiled and excitedly showed me his ID, which read Zoilo Balbarino. Then, in very broken English, he attempted to communicate with me. He told that he’d came to Chicago from the Philippines back in 2006. He also was proud to announce that he was now an American citizen.

He went on to tell me that he believed in a “God up in heaven,” and that he went to church on Sundays.

But what struck me in particular at first—was how he was carrying his food home. He had a large bag, and a 5-gal pail that were nearly full. So this 75-years-young man walked out our front door with a few of his “needs” met for the week in a manner that I would “speculate” that he brought from his homeland. Now I don’t know how far he had to go, but I know that he had to be strong, not only physically, but also mentally.

I’d say that he was “the least” in so many folks eyes… but I could tell by his smile that he didn’t view himself that way.

Please pray for Zoilo.

Thanks, Chris.

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29 Mar 2018

Senad on the right track!

By | 2018-03-29T21:42:48+00:00 March 29th, 2018|General|0 Comments

Still receiving the help he desires!

I got a chance to visit with my new friend, Senad Filan, at the Clark Manor Nursing and Rehab Center. I had blogged about him back on Jan. 10 and Jan. 22. He is recovering quite nicely, and is very thankful for all the prayers for him. Senad was originally from Bosnia, and has been in Chicago for the past 19 years. Throughout those years, he says he has worked “construction” and maintenance jobs. At present, he is still working with his caseworkers and our own Jeremy Nicholls in his attempts to secure his Social Security card and his S.S.I. payments, and “affordable housing.” Senad is in a good frame of mind. He knows that all these things take time, and that there’s a process for everything.

And he freely admits he may well need some more time in Clark Manor… making sure he maintains his sobriety. He says his AA meetings are helping him a lot. He also reports that a recent move to another floor has been a positive thing. Senad now says, “Life is a gift, the Lord is close, and I pray every day.”

Please continue to pray for Senad.

Thanks, Chris

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