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January 2009 Archives


God bless you.

Well, it's official now. We no longer have to just think or hope it's true. We no longer

have to beg people not to pinch us for fear they might wake us up from one of history's

most delicious dreams. We no longer have to wonder if that day will really, really come.

That day indeed is here.

It's finally official.

The weighty wait is over.

BARACK H. OBAMA INDEED IS AMERICA'S 44Th PRESIDENT OF THE

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

On Tuesday, my wife Joyce and I watched the inauguration ceremony and adjacent

activities all day on television. I was in Washington with Saint Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

and about 250,000 over civil rights demonstrators in 1963. But this time, I knew my

health issues of fighting cancer and heart failure, among other agonies, would not be

conducive for me making the trip to be in that merry mob of 2 million who had to walk

miles and stand out in the cold for hours.

So I inhaled and exhaled it all from the warmth, quiet and comfort of my home

and, yes, ain't no need of me lying, I cried. I just couldn't help myself. I even cried more

than once.

And what about you? Did you cry, too? Did this marvelous milestone also make

you cry just a teeny, weeny bit? I really feel that anybody with a beating heart and

anybody with a love for America, a care for humankind and a concern for our planet had

to at least feel the urge to cry.

I cried tears or happiness, tears of relief and tears of sadness.

I cried because I was happy to see the best man be a black man who was elected.

This is a precedent that I even doubted nobody in my family, before my great

grandchildren, would ever see. That's what being born and raised in Mississippi during

its most racists times will do to your hope.

I cried because I was relieved at what Obama was bringing to the table. His youth

and relative inexperience meant he was much less a part of the Washington sell-outs

who got this country into the pitiful predicament that it is in. Those opponents who had

been in Washington politics the longest stood a much better chance of being part of the

causes of our problems because the pay-to-play politics has not been a monopoly of

Gov. Blagojevich, who carried out his terrible tenure in the finest tradition of the late Paul

Powell, who died and left mysterious millions of dollars in cash stuffed in shoe boxes and

other containers in his home. Now, here comes Obama (thank God!) promising to clean

up our government, our business world, our banking and investment industries, our social

and racial relationships, our air, our water, our entire environment. He's determined to

lead us into remaking America into being the best it can be.

I also cried because I was sad that my mother, my father, sister, brother and so

many other loved ones did not live to see this day. We can only hope that their spirits

somehow got to see it.

I cried when Bono and Stevie Wonder sang during the pre-inaugural concert the

night before. What about you?

I cried when Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, sang "My Country, 'Tis Of Thee"

before Obama's swearing in. What about you?

I cried again when Obama was sworn in. What about you?

I cried again when Barack and Michelle danced at the Neighborhood Ball while

Beyounce sang "At Last" and cried herself. What about you?

So I was greatly thrilled and refreshed by the inauguration experience. But we've

got a lot of work, hard work, to do.

This is a new day. It's time to renew America.

It's time to come to the aid of our environment and save our planet from murder.

It's time to rescue that newest endangered species that is the American worker.

It's time to help millions of Americans get their homes back or get new and better

homes instead.

It's time to stop greedy corporate CEOs from giving themselves undeserved

multi-million-dollar bonuses on top of their unearned multi-million-dollar salaries for

mismanaging companies into multi-million-dollar and even multi-billion-dollar losses.

It's time to make quality health care affordable and accessible and possible

for everybody.

It's time to restore safety, sanity and sagacity to our schools so that every child can

get a quality education.

It's time for the rich to share generously with the poor.

It's time to have another Peace Core initiative where young, selfless, gifted

Americans can travel to help other less fortunate at home and abroad.

It's time to curb the illegal immigration and illegal, underground black-labor market

that is earning billions of dollars in cheap labor and not paying any income taxes

whatsoever.

It's time to bring an end to and to stop declaring illegal wars or wars based on lies.

It's time for Americans of all races to come together in brotherhhood from sea to

shining sea.

Then and only then can we really, really celebrate the unprecedented Presidency of

Obama. And for this to come to pass, we all must join in and do our share and maybe

even the share of others who will do a lot of talking but little else.

God bless you.

God bless you.

I thank God and I am happy that Barack Obama has been elected President of the

United State.

That he is the first black to be so elected is not the main reason for my

gratitude and happiness. Sure, that's beautiful history, perhaps long overdue. And I don't

believe that Americans--mostly white, remember--elected him primarily because of some

moral guilt over longtime racial injustice or some deep-seated, feel-good generosity to

give a black man a break.

Americans elected him because he was the best candidate. He had the best

background, said the right things, made the best impression, ran the best campaign and

represented the best hope for real, substantial, positive change for and the healing of

ailing America.

I was there in Washington, D.C., in 1963 when Saint Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

led us in the civil rights march on Washington. It was for progressive breakthroughs

like the unprecedented election of Obama that we marched and demonstrated. That

could happen only with much of the fulfillment of King's dream taking place.

Now, it has happened. The blood, sweat and tears shed for this milestone are now

justified and the mythical America that patriots dreamed of, soldiers fought for and the

constitution called for is now closer to reality.

What got Obama elected was faith. We believed he is the best man for this job at

this particular time with America being in the terrible condition that it presently is. We

prayed to God for such a man as he presented himself to be. God answered our prayers

and gave us him as an apostle of hope for real healing. Now, the real work begins.

More than a million people have come to Washington to witness or to be near

Obama's inauguration and swearing-in. It's like one big family reunion, Carnival,

Woodstock, Monterrey, Mardi Gras, World Cup, Super Bowl and more all rolled into one.

Because so much is being reported about this historical first, his election and

inauguration is probably the most commercialized in history. Obama coins, pictures,

T-shirts, pencils, caps, cups and whatever else are sold at almost every store or

traffic stop.

Our prayers have been answered. Our faith has been fulfilled and rewarded. And I

am grateful and happy for this as we all should be. But we should be happiest and most

grateful for the work that now stands before us instead of for the work that has been

completed.

Now, the same faith, sacrifice and hard work that we exercised to get Obama

elected must also be exercised to heal America. The mere election of Obama will not

accomplish that. He can not do the job alone and the job will not be done overnight

because America is in the worst shape it has ever been economically and the economy

will get worse before it gets better because the population of the millions who have lost

their homes, their jobs, their pensions, their savings, their healthcare insurance, their

dignity, their hope and their trust in American leadership is increasing every minute.

Less we forget, millions also voted against Obama and millions will remain

against him, don't want to see him do well, don't want to see America healed and will

continue to work against what he does and what he stands for. There will be domestic

terrorists working to sabotage the good we will try to do. There are still congressmen

and senators in Washington who have sold out America's best interests because they

are in the pockets, and on the payroles, of special-interest lobbyists. But we must still fight

to put our faith in God and our faith in America to work.

So much wrong has been done to America by so many for so long that it will take

a miracle for these wrongs to be righted within Obama's term if they ever will be

righted. But we must hold onto our faith in God and our faith in America. That is what

has brought us safe thus far and that is what will lead us on to excel and prevail.

Our will to build must be stronger than our enemies' will to destroy.

Our will to love must be stronger than our enemies' will to hate.

Our will to help must be stronger than our enemies' will to hinder.

Our will to heal must be stronger than our enemies' will to kill.

Our will to live and work together must be stronger than our enemies' will to separate

us and turn us against each other.

Now that God has blessed us with Obama, let's bless God by putting our faith in

Him and our faith in America to work by doing those things that will heal, save and

rebuild America to be stronger, richer and more unified than ever before. And the hope

of these accomplishments coming to pass is the best medicine that sick people like me

can have. And it's also the best preventive care that everybody else can have.

God bless you.

Never Forget Mama And Always Thank God For Her

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God bless you.

The Holy Ghost has commanded that I share with you a recent comment that deeply

touched my heart and compelled me to take a stroll back down memory lane to visit my

dear departed mother.

I also want to share the response I made to my beloved reader in my effort to comfort

her as I would like to do the same for others of you who have recently lost your dear

mother and are wondering how you might face this trying new year without mama.

From: Jami

"Rev. Banks,

Thank you for sharing your inspirational thoughts. As I write this, I am in the pits of depression because my dear mother died. I cannot think of ever being happy again and the thought of going through 2009 is just exhausting. God must have led me to your blog. I will re-visit to be inspired by your faith and strength.

Finally, I wish you the very best of health. Please continue to share your ministry to those of us who need to be strengthened.

God bless you and your family."

BANKS' RESPONSE: Dear Jami, I lost my dear mother, Sarah Loraine Banks,

when I was but 11 years old. She was just 43 years old when she died a painful death and

my pain still throbs deep in the pits of my heart and soul some 54 years later.

We'll never forget our dear mother. Never. And no matter how long she lives, even if

she lives to be 100, we never want to lose her. She is more precious than the rarest of

diamonds and the purest of gold. But we also never want to see our loved

ones suffer, too, as is often the case when they age greatly.

So we thank God for the season He saw fit to bless us with her precious presence,

knowing all long that she, you and I must some day also die unless Jesus beats death to

the punch and comes back for us in the Rapture. For we are not our own anyway. Mama

always belonged to God. He simply loaned her to us to bear us, nurse us, wean us, rock

us to sleep with a lullaby, raise and train us up in the way that we should go in order

for us to get the most out of life.

But eventually, in His own appointed time, He dispatches death from that seeming

terrible terminal in destiny's dungeon to come here on special assignment to reclaim her

for His pleasure. But God never leaves us shortchanged when He reclaims mama. He

leaves us countless precious memories.

Thank God for Mama. Thank God for her apple pie, buttermilk biscuits, pancakes,

fried chicken, green peas, mashed potatoes and gravy. Thank God's for mama's kisses,

mama's hugs, mama's smiles, mama's tears, mama's sacrifices and, most of all, for

mama's prayers. She's gone now but only in the flesh, Jami. As long as we have a

memory, we can tabernacle with her any sweet time we please.

Precious memories, how they linger

How they ever flood my soul

In the stillness of the midnight,

Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Be encouraged, Jami and others of you in the same predicament. You have our

prayers and God will not only see you through this loss, He will compensate by being

a mother for the motherless and a father for the fatherless. He will turn your tears into

cheers and your sadness into gladness.

Be not dismayed whate'er betide, God will take care of you.

Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care for you.

God will take care of you, thru every day o'er all the way

He will take care of you, God will take care of you

And furthermore, largely because of the good old years you used to have with her,

you will be able to have a happy new year without her because of your precious

memories.And rest assured that we will meet our dear mothers again some day in a

land where we will never grow old.

God bless you.

God bless you.

On this New Year's Day of 2009, I want to invite you to join me in singing an old

Christian hymn that is familiar to my Baptist background:

"Jesus, keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain

Free to all a healing stream, flows from calv'ry's mountain

In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever

'Till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river"

In conventional terms, my 2008 was far from great.

In fact, most people will say that Lacy J. Banks had a bad year. Indeed, sisters and

brothers, it was the worst year of my life in terms of my physical health.

Nine months ago, when I fell so low sick that I could not walk 10 steps without

stopping to catch my breath, I checked into the University of Chicago Hospital, where its

finest cardiologist and cardiac surgeons diagnosed me with end-stage congestive heart

failure and told that I needed a heart transplant to save my life.

But on my way to getting that heart transplant, I was disqualified from getting one

when I was also diagnosed with brain cancer and prostate cancer. They don't waste

precious heart transplants on diseased patients. My oldest sisters, Mrs. Maude Lee

Burrell, died eight years ago when a infection kept her from getting one after she had

spent six months on the waiting list.

Yes, it was a bad year that saw me take a four-month medical leave, be hospitalized

five times, receive radiation treatment that resulted in continued painful side effects, make

almost 50 trips to various doctors, takes thousands of pills, incur hundreds of thousands

of dollars in medical bills and suffer tons of pain

and despair.

But from the time I was shocked with the news of my three life-threatening medical

issues, I privately took the matter to the Lord in prayer by petitioning Him for a healing in

Jesus' name. Then I went public with this blog, inviting the world to stand by and watch

God heal me while I chronicle those miracles one by one.

First, my brain cancer was ruled benign and remains so as I treat it by taking a

special pill once a week.

Second, my prostate cancer was ruled early-stage and localized and deemed

treatable from the implantation of radioactive seeds.

Third, new medication was added to my already crowded daily menu of almost 20

pills and that relieved my serious heart symptoms though my heart remains very, very

weak.

This past Christmas, for the first time in my 32 years of living in Hazel Crest, I did not

put up one Christmas light or decoration outside because I lacked the energy, I caught

pneumonia, it was too cold and my wife didn't want me taking any added health risks.

For years, I took pride in decorating the outside of our house with thousands of lights

and it was the prettiest house on the block. But this Christmas, the only

decorations we had were inside the house.

Also, for the first time i almost 40 years, my wife and I spent New Year's eve at

home, where we prayed the old year out and the new year in. Traditionally, we did so in

the church, where I would be one of the featured preachers.

There were also other setbacks in my life as I saw the dearest of my friends die and

also had to become caregiver to an aging and combative mother-in-law.

Yes, 2008 was not great for me. But despite these and other setbacks, God

remained my refuge and strength and a very present help in the time of trouble.

Despite these setbacks, the Lord anchored and sustained me, has brought me a

long way in His healing process and he never has left me alone.

So although 2008 was not great, my faith tells me that, by the grace of God, fine will

be fine in 2009 as long as I drink more of God's NEW WINE from heaven's TRUE VINE.

And that NEW WINE, sisters and brothers, is none other than Jesus, His redeeming blood

and all that He stands for.

And so it was that while millions of revelers assembled in public places to prance and

dance, party hearty, drink round after dizzying rounds of alcoholic toasts, my wife, Joyce,

and I knelt by our bedside and prayed fervently to God, thanking Him for bringing us

through a relatively bad old year and asking Him to take us through a much better new

year.

And while it is the custom to celebrate the New Year by making new resolutions, I am

celebrating it by asking God's Son Jesus to do me an old favor. And I am repeating that

request right now for your reading pleasure and for your prayerful support.

Jesus, please Jesus, keep near the cross. I want to be more like you, Jesus. I want

to glorify your holy name. But I can't do it by myself, sweet Jesus. I need help from

heaven, starting with the Lord. And this is my petition to Him:

Guide me Oh thou great Jehovah, pilgrimed through this barren land

I was weak, but thou art mighty, hold me with thy powerful hand.

And while You are guiding me, Lord, I have another request:

Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me 'til I want no more.

And once you guide and feed me, Lord, then I want Jesus to take over and keep me

near the cross. For it was at the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light and the

burden of my heart rolled away. I was there by faith I received me sight. And now I am

happy all the day.

And I feel like shouting right now, sisters and brothers. I feel like holy-dancing and

shouting because when Jesus keeps me near His cross, then that means I will be able to

enjoy another super bonus articulated in another familiar hymn:

Just a closer walk with thee, Grant it Jesus if You please

Daily walking close to Thee, let it be dear Lord, let it be.

I am weak but Thou art strong. Jesus keep me from all wrong

I'll be satisfied as long as I walk let me walk close to Thee.

And I say to all you sisters and brothers hoping and praying for a better 2009 than

the 2008 we just finished. If you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,

then life will be fine in 2009. Moreover, not only will life be fine in 2009, but victory is mine,

victory is mine, victory this year shall be mine. So I'm telling you right now, satan, get thee

behind me because victory shall be mine and life will be fine in 2009.

Yes, God forbid that I should glory,in or brag about ,anything but the cross. After all,

no cross, no crown. For Jesus Himself commands us: "If any man will come after me, let

him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." On another occasion, Jesus said,

"He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me."

That all seems fair to me. After all, Jesus bore the cross for us. He was wounded for

our transgressions and bruised for our iniquity. But must Jesus bear the cross alone and

all the world go free? No, there's a cross for everyone and there's a cross for me.

The Sun-Times had borne its crosses of affliction and divers adversity and has been

given up for dead many, many times down through my 37 years of employment here. But

I believe it continues to survive and thrive because God has His hands on this paper and

on the state of Illinois. We should have been driven out of business years ago by the multi-

million-dollar theft and mismanagement of our previous owners and his cronies. They

tried their best to rob us into financial ruin the way so many other crooked corporate

CEOs robbed their companies into financial ruin. But I believe God is blessing this paper.

It is not by accident that Illinois, the land of Lincoln, has produced America's first

black President. And it is not by accident that the Chicago Sun-Times is the flagship news

source for this prestigious milestone for mankind. Because this paper has endured its

crosses with integrity, hard work and faith, it is reaping its crowns.

God bless you and, once again, happy New Year one and all.

Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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