General

20 May 2019

The Walk Home

By |2019-05-20T11:34:52-05:00May 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 May 2019

Unexpected Prayer Warrior

By |2019-05-01T09:59:13-05:00May 1st, 2019|General|0 Comments

You never know where a prayer warrior may be found!

I was out walking about Uptown doing a couple of errands when I noticed a friend of mine through the window of one of our neighborhoods classic grills. I waved at Kathy, and then I ventured into the restaurant to say hi. She was glad to see me. “I haven’t been able to make it to Cornerstone lately,” she said. “My husband’s health has taken a turn for the worse . . . so I’ve had to take care of him a lot more.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” I responded.
“Yeah, things have been a little rough lately,” she said.
I then turned to her friend, who was sitting quietly across from Kathy.  “Hi, I’m Chris, from Cornerstone. What’s your name?”
“Hi, I’m Heather, nice to meet you,” she said.
We then got into a conversation and Heather told me that she’d lived in Uptown for about 7 years, but she didn’t go to church because of some health issues.  And she went on to tell me that we all need to be witnesses for Jesus.  And one of her ways of sharing her faith was to make crosses out of yarn and give them out for free.
“Wow, that’s really cool,” I said.
“‘Cause you know, we’re a part of the bride of Christ, and Jesus is the groom,” she continued.  “And Jesus wants us to be praying for all the folks we come in contact with. Jesus wants us to pray against the power of Satan. He wants us to ask Him to remove the problems that are in the person’s life we’re praying for. I know, because I’ve been a prayer warrior since I was 13.”
We chatted a little more, and then I told Heather and Kathy that I was blessed to talk with them, if only for a few minutes. And I continued to complete my errands.
You just never know when or where you might meet someone pretty special.  I guess you just have to have “ears” that can truly hear, and “eyes” that truly see.
And I’m not saying that I always do have those kind of ears and eyes.  Because I know I do not.
Thanks for stopping by.
Chris
23 Apr 2019

Beating Guns

By |2019-04-23T13:15:55-05:00April 23rd, 2019|General|0 Comments

A message that’s timely, relevant, and necessary.

On April 9 I was blessed to attend the “Beating Guns” Chicago event at the Pilgrim Lutheran church on the Northside. Shane Claiborne, a well-known Christian activist and writer, and his co-author, Michael Martin, a Mennonite pastor turned blacksmith, brought “the facts” about guns in our American society, as well as a “forge” (a workshop where wrought iron is produced or where iron is made malleable) to demonstrate how a gun can be turned into something a lot less “deadly” and even artistic.

Mike at the Forge

 

The evening was filled with lament, facts, testimony, and hope. And it wasn’t the kind of rally that “demonized” anyone who does own guns. No, but it was a clarion call to action for “common sense” gun laws, and a much needed clearly, spelled-out and well-reasoned perspective on how we in America got to our present state in society.

Their newly released book, Beating Guns was also available. And just give you an idea of what Shane and Mike’s intentions and hopes are for the book, please read their opening “Note to the Reader:.”

If you own guns and want to see fewer people killed, this book is for you.

If you’ve never even touched a gun and want to see fewer people killed, this book is for you.

If you are a victim of violence or have lost a loved one to murder, this book is for you.

If you have hurt or killed someone, this book is for you.

Basically, this book is for everyone who is tired of violence.

This is a book for people who believe—or who want to believe—that things can be different than they are right now.

Mike and Shane leading the event         

 

 

The following are a few snippets of “truth” that were shared:

*We have more guns in United States (over 300 million!) than people.”

*We make one gun every three seconds.

*There are nearly five times more licensed gun dealers in America than there are McDonald’s restaurants.

*We ought to be praying for a public lament and transformation for this country from a vision for life, not death.’

*We want to move from weariness to hope.

*Two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides.

* Guns don’t discriminate.

*We’re better at protecting guns than people.

 

 

Shane Claiborne and Mike

So what does all this violence, all this heartbreak, all these life-ending actions (gun deaths) do to us? To be sure, it makes us all (or should make) sad, mad, depressed, hopeless, angry, frustrated, and so many other emotions.

And I believe that so many folks have “almost” lost all faith in getting our politicians “on board” for common sense gun laws. Does it not seem like nothing ever gets done? Just talked about and debated about every time another tragedy occurs.

And so, Shane and Mike are making strides to call “the church,” and other faith-motivated, and even secular folks to join together in a grassroots movement to keep on bringing “these truths” before us all in the hopes that “real change” is possible.

But before this can movement can grow into a mandate we all have to admit (no matter which side you’re on!) that we really do have a problem…a gun problem.

And this is not to negate the fact that we have a heart problem as well.

We have both. For we all know that it is people who kill other people… but with so many guns so “available” and so “deadly” doesn’t it make sense to keep on fighting for a safer, much more life-affirming atmosphere that we are all inhabiting?

And one final observation and possible perspective: I’d venture to say that almost everyone (including atheists!) asks themselves the question “Where is the God (you say you believe in) in the midst of all this senseless violence?”

But what if this God (that many of us say we believe in) as portrayed in the Bible is asking us, “Where do you “stand,” and what are you doing about all the heartbreaking, senseless violence that we see on the news every night, and on our city streets?”

Thanks for stopping by. And check out Beating Guns.

Chris.

 

11 Mar 2019

THE POOR ARE ALWAYS AROUND US!

By |2019-03-11T13:20:50-05:00March 11th, 2019|General|0 Comments

AND WE CAN HELP THEM WHENEVER WE WANT!

BUT WHAT ABOUT JESUS? CAN WE (WILL WE?) HELP HIM, WHENEVER WE CAN?

 

In Mark 14:3 we discover Jesus “reclining at the table in the home of a man named Simon the Leper,” when in walks a woman with “an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.” And before we know it, she’s broken the jar and poured the perfume onto Jesus’ head.

What? What is going on? Who is this woman? And who does she think she is that she can just walk into a “dinner party” and just pour out all of this perfume on Jesus’ head?

I mean, really, this woman has a lot of nerve, right?

And of course, there were those at the party who were quick to condemn her act. Who, exactly, “those folks” we aren’t told, but I would venture that those who agreed with this condemnation, may have included some of Jesus’ own disciples (and so many of us, if we were in attendance!).

Why? Because we, too, would have agreed with their rationale: That this “expensive perfume” (which was worth more than a year’s wages!) could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Sounds reasonable? Right? I mean, who could argue with that thought process?

 

Woman pouring oil on Jesus's head

Well, let’s see how Jesus, himself, reacts to this “extravagant out-pouring of love and affection.”   He immediately defends the woman and her actions (Mark 14:6), and then tells those in attendance why he is defending her and her actions.

Jesus seemingly agrees with those who were critical of her actions when he says, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” (Mark 14:7) He seems to be saying something like, “Hey folks, of course I agree with you, the poor do indeed need as much help as we can give them, and you are “free” to do this whenever you want.” (Notice also Jesus appears to be allowing us “the freedom” to choose just how much we will give, and when we will give.)

But when Jesus states to this crowd (and to us) that “we” will not always have him, he seems to be implying (and not too subtly) that his very life and teachings and example is one of such prime importance that no one should mistake who he is and what his mission is all about.

And guess what? It is this “least” woman (who might have been a woman of some “means” because of the value of her gift…or not) who is the one who comprehends the significance of the moment. This woman had the spiritual insight (a gift from God) to recognize that Jesus’ time on earth was coming to an end… and soon! And she chose (it was her choice) to show her love and appreciation for what Jesus was going to do for her (and everyone else!). And she didn’t care what anyone else thought. All she knew is that she wanted to offer this gift… before the time had passed.

And how does Jesus view her actions?

He says, “I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:9)

But why is this? Why is what she has done “so important” that wherever the gospel is preached (an integral part of God’s plan) her actions “will also be told?”

I don’t want to pretend to fathom the depths of the meaning behind this story… so I won’t. But I will venture to observe that this woman saw something of primary importance when we are talking about God, the poor, and our relationship with them both. She saw that she ought to give “her all” (give what she had) to this Jesus because of his willingness to go the cross for her. And further, I’d like to think that somehow she “instinctively” seemed to know that without God’s forgiveness and love and care for herself and everyone, well then, all our giving and helping the poor will lack the very deep down, humble integrity that we can only possess if we are in right relationship with God. In other words, one ought to come before the other.

And is not this exactly what the God of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament teaches? Yes indeed, in fact, as most of us are quite aware—God’s whole law can be summed up in the two great commandments.

And how did Jesus respond when an expert in the law asked him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Matthew 22:36)

Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love you neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)

So we see that God has a desired “order” of how he wants us to live our lives. He simply wants us to love him first and foremost. Why? Because he’s our creator and he knows that life will not “work” (no matter how we hard we try!) the way he intended if we can’t accept how much he loves us and how much he’s done for us.

But if we can “accept” this—and give God his due—then we’ll be so overflowing with love and gratefulness towards our God that we ought not have “too much” problem with loving our neighbors as ourselves. After all, if we truly grasp what God has done for us, well then, we ought to want “the best” for our neighbor.

For when we truly realize how much God loves and forgives us, then hopefully, we will be happy to give “what we have to spare” (whether it’s a lot or a little!) to our neighbors…which include the poor.   I mean, this kind of love is far “too good” to keep to ourselves.

And finally isn’t this what Jesus envisioned how we, who call ourselves his followers, would “put to use” his love for us? (See Matthew 25:31-40)

And this why he will say, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

And how about those who “claimed” to know him and have a relationship with him, but refused to help even a few of the “so many” who were lacking some of lifes’ most basic needs?” How will respond to them?

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45)

Which response would like to hear from Jesus?

Just remember, it’s your choice, and your life’s actions are telling your story…right now.

Take care,

Chris

(And take care of someone who needs it. You’ll be glad you did!)