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Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross And Life Will Be Fine In 2009

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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


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


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.

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thank you for this blog. Your testimony is a great reminder to trust Jesus for everything. Praise Jesus for the work in your life as your glorify God.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Glory to God, Mac. Thanks for reading my blog and for

emailing your compliment. Indeed, God is not through healing me completely. But I

thank Him for every iota of progress He is blessing me. I love Him and praise Him for

His majesty, His grace and His mercy.

Dear Rev. Banks,

What a joy to read the words of the hymns that fed me in my youth. I rarely hear them anymore. You continue to encourage and inspire me as my desire is also to get nearer to him. Happy New Year and God continue to bless and keep you.

Nancy Ellis

BANKS' RESPONSE: Praise ye the Lord, Nancy Ellis. Thanks for voicing your

pleasure over the blog and the reference to our commonly beloved hymn--one of

many, I'm sure. And as a bonus, let's sing together that second verse: "Near the

cross, a trembling soul, love and mercy found me; there, the Bright and Morning

Star sheds its beams around me. In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever. Til

my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river. Hallalujah! Thank you Jesus!

Brother Lacy Banks,

Thanks for sharing God's goodness in your life in 2008. God has sustained you, blessed you, and given you a testimony to share. I praise God for your humility and honesty.

It is my prayer that God will bless you even more in 2009. You are a gifted writer, and preacher. The Lord has more work for you to do.

Again, thanks for sharing. And yes, things are, and will be fine in 2009.


Dr. Craig M. Jenkins, Pastor
Beth Eden Baptist Church
11121 S. Loomis
Chicago, Illinois 60643

BANKS' RESPONSE: Pastor Jenkins, God bless you. Thank you for reading

my blog and for emailing your encouraging comment. Please give me best regards

to Beth Eden. I will pray for you all. Please pray for me in return. Our God is an

awesome God and we will need Him dearly in this challenging new year. But if we

have faith in Him and continue to hold to His unchanging hand, life will be fine in


Happy New Year and God Bless You and your family.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks, Ami. God did not bring us this far to leave us. So

let's walk on by faith each day.

Rev. Banks, my thoughts and prayers go out to you.

I read your blog a few months ago and put you on my prayer list then.

I just returned from my annual family visit (from Los Angeles to North Chicago, IL). This year's visit was melancholy because I have a younger brother (who's only 45 years old), battling Stage 4 colorectal cancer that's spread to his lungs and liver.

My baby brother is a fighter and he loves the Lord.

We have faith in Jesus that my baby brother will be healed in Jesus' name.

2009 will be a year for healing.

Peace, Love, and GOD'S Blessings...

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks Alicia Harrell for reading my blog and for

emailing your comment. I pray that God heals your baby brother completely and

that those around him be full of faith and not naysayers. I pray that God smears

the stripes on Jesus on your brother's cancerous lesions so that his cancer will be

melted into oblivion. God bless you, Alicia, and may He heal your brother quickly

and thoroughly.

You are a miracle. May He bless us all in 2009. All the best to you and your family.

BANKS' RESONSE: Thanks, Ali, and the best of 2009 to you and your family,

too. God bless you, brother.

What sweet soulful inspiration I've received from reading your testimony. In spite of the health challenges you faced in 2008, your faith remained strong in the glorious love of Jesus Christ. Without a doubt you've guided many souls to the healing, comfort and security of His everlasting arms. I am but one of them. Glory be to God, you are such a blessing! I pray for your continued healing in 2009.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks, Drew, for reading my blog and for emailing

your wonderful comments. This new year will not be one for the feint of faith

because it will be a most difficult one. Many people will be dealt serious setbacks

that are not their fault and they will need to be full of faith in God to persevere,

prevail and excel. So I pray that we, the redeemed of the Lord, pray and fast

harder to have our faith increased so that we will be more faithful in our struggles

against catastrophic adversity.


BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you, C. Douglas, for reading my blog and for

emailing your kind comment of good hope for my family and me and I pray the

same for you and yours. I pray especially that our faith in God be increased for the

challenges that await us in this new year. Thankfully, we serve an ageless God

who is good for all times and is at His best when times are at their worst. I pray

for the complete healing of your brother, too. And don't forget to praise and thank

God when his healing comes.

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 and she was just 43 years old and the 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. 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 He 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, 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.

Forever, 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.

Rev. Banks... I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. When I first read your blog last year...I leaned back and reflected...I thought of the many sermons that you not only preached, but taught..during our days at "The Ship". I immediately "recognized" the Rev. Banks that I remembered... praising God regardless of the state we are in. As I read your blog describing your journey through these catastropic illnesses, I was reminded of John 9:3b..."..but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." Your testimonies will help someone who needs a closer walk with God and needs to understand that some of the things that we encounter during this journey called "life" is not about us but about the glory of God. No matter what "test" God requires of you...remember the words often spoken by Mother (Rev) York.."This is the Lord's doing and it's marvelous in our eyes..". I am praying with you and for you. My peace I leave with you.

BANKS' RESPONSE: God bless you and thank you Sister Flournoy for

reading my blog, for remembering our earlier days at Fellowship and for emailing

a most encouraging comment. Yes, you are right. I was destined to be afflicted

with these illnesses so that the works of God should be made manifest in me

through His healing me. And like our Saviour King Jesus said, I also must work

the works of Him that sent me while it is day. For the night cometh when no man

can work. But as long as Jesus is in the world, He is the light of the world. And,

consequently, as Christians, you and I are also "the light of the world" and He

commands us to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good

works and glorify our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be His name so that

His kingdom may come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Its pure joy to know that God is giving his blessings and your faith and perseverance in him, is giving you and your family the strength to undergo all the terrible ailments. I will pray to the Almighty to shower his healing touch to you and to all those who are in the same boat.
Happy New Year, Mr. Banks.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks, B Abe, for reading my blog and for emailing

your encouraging comment. I'm also appreciate your prayer that I receive a healing

shower. And to make sure I get drenched, I'm not going to open up any umbrella

or raincoat.

may God kept us nere the cross and his love shine on us again in 2009 you are in my pray we are the apple in his eye may GOD KEPT US ONE MORE TIME.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you, Rosemary, for your encouraging comment. I

pray also that you have a happy, healthy and wealthy new year.

God bless you and your family

BANKS' RESPONSE: May God bless you, too, C. Douglas.

Happy New Year, Pastor Banks!

Praise God for another year; another day; another moment of living life and living it to the fullest!

I, too have been told 2008 was a bad year for me and I must disagree with the skeptics. Any day when I can see my family and hold them close is a good day. I was able to do those acts all year long...even more so after reading your column and appreciating your journey in 2008.

I may not be afflicted with a natural sickness; but, you can believe I have been through a hellish year in my workplace. Yet, I too just keep on singing..."I know the one thing I did right, was the day I started to fight. Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on. Hold on. Keep your eyes on the prize...Hold on!" Victory will indeed be mine in 2009.

Like you, I will fight the good fight and look to the hills from whence cometh my help.

We're all in this together.

What you're doing on these pages is making a powerful testimony for someone who may follow experience a similar health crisis in their lives or the life of a close family member or friend. In my journey, I must stand strong in the face in blatant inequities in the workplace and do my best to make it better for the next person who comes after me.

We must continue the good fight. As you stated, we all have our crosses to bear; He never said it would be easy--man's days are full of trouble...but, He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us!

I will continue to pray for the fighter in you, Pastor Banks. Because praying for you gives me strength for what I need to do and must do. Amen.

Barb Sanders

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks, Barbara, for reading my blog and for emailing

your wonderful comment. The devil certainly will come to work with us, with

others and will already be there when we get there. But if God be for us, and He

is for us, He is more than the world against us. Greater is God that in within us

than the devil which is within the world. And thanks be to God, who giveth us the

victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Dear Mr. Banks :

I have been reading your work since the early 70's, when I was just a kid and my favorite players were Norm Van Lier, Jerry Sloan, Bob Love, Chet Walker, Bobby Weiss...I loved those old Buill teams.

I read your blog occasionally, and each time I am moved by - and envious of - your strong faith.

I am Catholic and though I pray almost every day, and I think my faith is strong, I sometimes wonder if He truly hears.

I hope you are right. And I pray a happy and healthy 2009 for you, and God Bless your family.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Yes, James, God sees, He hears and He cares. If we

will but call Him, He will answer. We may not always like His answers. But He

knows what's best for us because He made us and He knows all about us. Just

don't give up. Pray. Be encouraged. Pray and wait on the Lord. And when He

comes and answers He will make your waiting worth your while.

Mr. Banks,
God Bless you, and bless you He has. I believe there is a reason for everything. We may not see it that way at times, but there is a reason our Lord has given you this cross to bear. As you know He does not give you/us burden(s) that you/we cannot bear. He chooses selectively, those who carry a heavier burden than most. For when we are weak, He is strong! I pray that our God continues to give you wisdom, courage and strength, for your journey, has a beginning and has an end.

I believe our God has placed you in this arena so that you can bear witness to his greatness through this media. For no one will ever have cause to say, Lord I had not heard of you. Be strong my brother in Christ, rejoice in Him, for HE is our redeemer, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, sometimes it's through FIRE that we are saved.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Yes, for years, Yves, we knew God speaks to us

through His sun in the sky, through His Son from on high and through time and the

experiences that occur within time. And now, through this blog, He speak through

the Sun-Times. I thank the Sun-Times for allowing me to blog my experience

battling these sicknesses with all the weapons of faith, sermon, prayer, doctors,

nurses and medicine being placed at my disposal. Newspapers cover people's

accidents, their wins and losses, their achievements and setbacks, their births,

their lives and their deaths. But here the Sun-Times is covering my healing and

to God be the thanksgiving, praise and glory.

This sickness did not come to you from God. It is from the enemy. God does not want you to be sick, just like you do not want your children to be sick. He took on our sickness. I would encourage you to listen to the teaching of Pastor Bill Johnson on healing. He is the pastor of Bethel church in Redding, California. You can download his teachings for their website. We can anything in God.

BANKS' RESPONSE: God bless you, Tony, and thanks for reading my blog

ad for emailing your comment. Thanks, also, for your tip regarding Pastor Bill

Johnson. let's continue to pray for one another.

Thank you for posting your story. I find your faith very encouraging. I pray that God will continue to Bless you and show you his love. Although I will probably never meet you in this life I will be looking for you in heaven whenever we both get there. See you there ...

BANKS' RESPONSE: It's a deal, Lee Ann. I will be looking for you in heaven,

too, somewhere, in fact just any ol' where, around God's throne, anywhere around

any of the three gates in the north, three in the south, three in the west and three

in the east. Anywhere around the four-and-twenty elders who praise God

incessantly. Anywhere around that tree that bears a leave that's good for the

healing of the nations. Yes, it's a deal. And isn't it wonderful that you, the other

redeemed of the Lord and I have heavenly provisions for our souls beyond this

terrestrial shore? How else could we endure the horrors and sorrows of this ol'

sinsick world if not for the fact that when this life is over, we shall wear a crown and

live joyfully eternally in heaven, where the sun will never go down? So we should

not mind the burdens we have to bear just as long as we can see Jesus in our

heavenly home when all is said and done.

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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.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on January 1, 2009 8:31 AM.

Is This My Last Christmas? No!!! Death, Get Outta My Face! was the previous entry in this blog.

Never Forget Mama And Always Thank God For Her is the next entry in this blog.

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