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A not-so-happy 67th birthday, but thank God for Jesus.

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I thank the Lord that today (Aug. 11) I turn 67 years old. Please, no candles and cake. Never had a real birthday party so far and don't expect to ever have one.
Meantime, my, my, my: Where have all those years gone?
I'm in a better situation this time than I was last year when I spent my 66th birthday in the University of Chicago Medical Center as part of a week's stay after I had undergone an Aug. 10 operation on my back. I survived the operation. So did the painful symptoms that drove me to get the operation. In essence, it was a dangerous waste of time.
Today, however, I still assorted serious health problems. But I feel relatively good and plan to spend the day at home with my wife, Joyce, who is in her first full week of retirement.
I'm happy to be saved, happy to be alive, happy to be loved and to love back, happy for my family and friends, happy for my job and happy to be feeling better as I am living a tethered life powered by a heart pump while awaiting my new heart. But health problems are the least of my concern right now. And that's a blessing in itself.
Serious pension problems assure that this will not be a happy birthday for me as I approach retirement of my 45-year reporting career at the end of this year. Getting my full pension up front is extremely valuable for me because of my serious health issues, my advancing age, which limits further employment opportunities, and because, since undergoing a triple bypass operation in 2001, no insurance company will offer me significant new coverage
With my end-staged congestive heart failure and prostate cancer, I am told that the odds are small that I will live much longer unless I receive a new heart, unless my body doesn't reject the new heart and unless the immuno-suppressant drugs don't reverse the regression of my prostate cancer.
I thank God that I have been able to work as a professional writer for 45 years and have qualified for a pension, social security and Medicare. But having a $72,000 bite taken from my pension after it had been promised is no happy springboard toward living on a fixed income threatened by exorbitant medical bills.
So I worry. I struggle to retrieve the pension first promised me. Friends promise to help me with valuable information before reneging on the promises. Lawyers appear stagnant in aggressively defending me.
These are serious problems with me. But I am consoled by the realization that as bad as things are they could be a whole lot worse. What if I had been working for crooked corporations like Enron and Worldcom or others for some 40 years only to see dishonest executives mismanage the company into financial ruin that cost thousands of its employees their jobs, their pensions, their 401Ks, their life and health insurance?
What if I was entering my second or third year of unemployment as many of you are and had fallen beyond the reach of unemployment benefits?
What if that brain tumor of mine had turned out to be malignant?
What if my prostate cancer was discovered and treated too late to save me?
What if that mini-stroke I suffered last December had been a major one that left me severely and permanently paralyzed?
What if I had seen a child of mine fatally gunned down in the streets of Chicago or in the home as many parents have done?
Yes, I can go on and on thinking about worst things that could have befallen me. But they didn't. And I thank God for that.
I thank God for good, competent doctors and surgeons. Poor medical care helped send my mother (42) and father (64) to relatively early graves.
I thank God for loving relatives and faithful friends.
I thank God for the honest politicians who are still trying to provide competive, constructive and productive leadership.
I even thank God for my enemies and the way they often force me to fall down on my knees and pray when I otherwise wouldn't.
I thank God for the courtesy and kindness of strangers.
But most of all, I thank God for my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I thank God for my salvation.
I thank God for the gift to love others and be loved by them in return.
I thank God for the faith that Jesus authored and finished so that I can move mountains and do all things through Christ Jesus.
I thank God for my predestined, pro-congenital calling to preach His Word.
I thank God for wisdom and intelligence.
I thank God for the integrity, brotherhood, compassion, Christian faith and other love-based faiths and religions that are still alive in an America that is being destroyed by greed, hate and dishonesty from within without . This has triggered the downfall of so many other great empires.
Thank you all for your continued prayers, best wishes and birthday greetings.
God bless you all real, real good.

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"You, in your limited understanding, cry out for miracles, while ignoring the miracles that are happening at every moment. You long for sudden outworking, nut understanding that the outworking is always underway. You seek change in the physical, when all that has to change is your perception."

"Open your eyes and see the miraculous wold Love has created for you. See yourself in a universe overflowing with miracles, so many of which go unclaimed. Look at all aspects of a situation - as Love does - and see the miraculous outworking in it - as Love does."

-from "Love is All There Is - The revelation of heaven on Earth"

Helen Keller once said: "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us."

Brother Lacy, you know that I know a little about financial pressures. A month ago, it looked like I'd be homeless. I sat in a chair one night and said to Love (God), over and over: "I don't know what you know." I didn't. And I'm still in my wonderful home.

After you came through all of the health challenges that you've had, why are you worried about these other things? Hasn't Love shown you that you are Loved? Haven't you seen that there are miracles going on every second in your life? You perform miracles every time you say: "Love (God), I give this to you." Each time you give your challenge to Love, your challenge is revealed as an illusion, for this universe was created in a way in which things are supposed to work out.

As for death, there is none. There's a change in perception, to be sure. For those left behind in a human expression, they will miss that reflection of Love they called Lacy. But, what will they miss? Your face, your sound, your smell? A little bit. But, they'd probably say, instead, that they will miss your loving ways, your thoughts, your wisdom and counsel, your kindness and acceptance. And those things will always be. When the time comes for you to "shuffle off this mortal coil," only the small fraction of you that was a human man will depart. The holy majority of what you are will still be present, just in a different form. It's the Love that lives on, for Love never fails.

I've looked far and wide for some evidence to the contrary, but the truth seems insistent: No one gets out of the human expression alive. It's the necessary passage of the seasons. We're just here, I believe, in order to make the conscious choice for Love. And, when we go, what do we lose? The worries over money and pensions and relationships and health. What do we gain? A perspective that shows us that, while all that noise was going on, our human lives were filled to the breaking point with small, perfect moments of Love. And we discover that, even in the most challenging moments, when we thought we were lost forever, we were never separate, never lost. We were then, as we are always, part of Love.

You have been a professional writer for over 40 years and you have a most dramatic and moving story to tell. When does the book come out?

BANKS' RESPONSE: Even in all my mess and stress, John, I never forget that, nonetheless, I am blessed. Truly blessed. And you're right about miracles and blessings. Wow! They're splashing all around and all over and all within me. It's raining miracles! I'm being drenched from thunderstorms of wonders. As such, I have more than an equal balance of trade. I am digging deeper and deeper into the black and not the red. My assets more and more are exceeding my liabilities. My perils are being overwhelmed by pearls. My tears and jeers are being washed away by cheers. My ups outnumber my downs and my smiles outnumber my frowns. Oh taste and see, my Good Guy, that the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures forever.

Wow! I don't know where to start, but I'll give it a shot. Rev., you and John have temporarily blown me out of the water, in a manner of speaking. You both write in a way that is so needed in this world of spin, marketing, falsely influencing others for ill gotten personal gain, and frankly, outright lies and misrepresentations. You write from a position of common sense truth, warts and all. I find it so incredibly powerful because we need to read and hear about what people we have more in common with than celebrities and other worldly lifted people think. The Spirit reminded me just a few days ago that God's Word is overflowing with records of how He selected and used very plain, simple, fault-filled, ordinary people to accomplish marvelous and miraculous things. What is the lesson is all this? We don't have to be rich or famous or formally educated or politically connected or any of the numerous things that mankind uses to measure a person's worth. The unvarnished Truth about Love has been revealed to John is a way that millions and perhaps billions, of people in "organized" religions and denominations would give an arm and a leg to acquire. It strikes me that we often miss the point of the message of Jesus being born to a lowly virgin in a dank, dark, foul manger. His earthly father was a carpenter and so was Jesus before his earthly ministry began. The Israelites didn't receive Him because they were expecting a big showy entrance and presentation of His power. We of today are no better because although some of us say we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are still looking for the Hollywood, Broadway, multimillion dollar production. Take a deep breath! That's really all we need to do to know the power and miracles of God. Glory to God!

Whew! I just had to get that out. (-: Happy Belated Birthday Rev. Lacy! May God bless you with so many more that you will holy dance your way into complete healing, ON THIS SIDE!

And John, you just keep on thinking and writing and doing what you do so well in Love.

BANKS' RESPONSE: You are so right, Marie in your description of Jesus, why He came and why He died. One of the principal reason Judas betrayed Jesus is because Jesus refused to go Hollywood. He refused to let Judas turn into into some kind of freak, a coin-operated side show to shake every shekel he could from every purse and pocket He occasioned. If Judas had had His way, he would have charged for every public appearance Jesus made and for every miracle that He performed. If Judas had had his way, he would have gotten Jesus to approve of selling "Jesus" T-shirts, caps, high, holy fashions, badges, buttons and what not. If Judas had had his way, then religion would have been a thing that money could buy so that the rich could live and the poor would die. But I'm so glad, Marie, that our Savior opted to play it straight. I'm so glad Jesus refused to be a material or a militaristic Messiah. I'm glad that He came to seek and to save that which is lost and to give His life as a ransom for many. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. But as many as did receive Him, to them gave He power to become the daughters and sons of God. So today we once more have a right to the tree of life all because of Jesus.

Brother Lacy, I ask your forgiveness.

I read your entry and the negatives popped out and I responded to those, without seeing the positive, inspiring, and uplifting majority of your message.

So, may I make my apology to you and, at the same time, offer you a belated "Happy Birthday"? Your testimony of a blessed 67 years of a wonderful calling, career, marriage, and family life is a reminder to us all of just some of the ways in which we experience miracles everyday.

I'm so happy for your great fortune.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks, John. Sorry, I don't have any cake, candles or ice cream to share with y'all. Please accept my imaginary rain checks.

Lacy -

If I may, I want to thank Marie for her kind words and, more, for her eloquent message. She reminds of us that, despite our imperfections, we are all part of the wonder that is Love.

What is remarkable about your blog is that you gather so many from differing backgrounds and faiths, and we find that we are in agreement. This is what is meant when it's said that there is one truth, but it is called by different names.

As for Jesus, it can make one sad that so much that is contrary to his way and teaching has been done in his name. His life is the ultimate example of how we are supposed to live. Remember when he said, "I am the way and the truth and the life"? I take that to mean, "Live like this." How much more apparent can it get?

Thank you Lacy, for your wonderful message and for creating a place of true fellowship.

Now, what's this about no cake????

BANKS' RESPONSE: Marie has earned our love, gratitude and praise. Like you, she takes us to school in teaching us, by her steadfast hope, how to face and handle adversity. Day in, day out, she deals with adversity in the raw and she deals with it bravely and tenderly. I'm sure she will be most happy to smell those rhetorical roses you are presenting her on behalf of us all. Many times, she has expressed admiration, likewise, for your faith, optimism, patience, eloquence, intelligence and discipline. You are right about how this blog has become a gathering place for suffering, selfless souls like us. It is a sounding board where we care for and share with each other, serving as respective support systems. Let us all continue to hold her in the highest esteem.

Dear Rev. and John,
John 1:1-4, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Once again you have both set me back on my heels, albeit in a good way. I certainly needed a shot in the arm and you both heeded God’s call to serve as His holy hypodermic needles. Thank you both for that infusion of words.
The subject of the power of words has been on my mind and in my spirit since before your latest posts. Thinking about the power of words sent me to the scripture I opened these comments with. I think about the power of His words and the power of the words that He equipped humans with and the many ways in which words are used, sometimes for good and sometimes for evil, and I am convinced that this blog was ordained by God way back before the beginning of time. We may be pleasantly surprised at how we’ve gotten caught up in this virtual fellowship and how writing to one another has been both cathartic and healing for us blog residents and occasional visitors alike, but I think God is sitting back grinning at His handiwork. He is the ultimate Teacher and I can envision Him being proud that some of His students are getting the lessons. He is perhaps leaning over to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the angels saying “Look what they are doing with My words, My life and My light! The twinkle in His eyes shines brighter and His smile grows broader.
That visual is what keeps me writing to encourage and uplift whomever I can. My experiences and trials and breakthroughs and victories and perseverance and longsuffering and all the other things that make me human are not just for me alone. I am indeed a changed person because of all those things and more, a better, yet not perfect person. I am blessed to be a blessing and I count it all joy to be a blessing to all who read these words.
So, once again I thank you, John, for the sweet perfume of the rhetorical roses (I am a gardener) and you Rev., for providing me with a sturdy and safe port in the storm.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Yes, Marie. Thank God for words and thank God, most of all, for THE WORD. What brought reality into being? The words of God. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and was void while the spirit of God moved upon the waters and darkness covered the deep. And God SAID, "Let there be light," and there was light. God said this earth, its physical forms, its living creatures, its days and nights, its skies and flying creatures into existence. And it was so. It is so. And it always will be so that when God says whatever, that whatever will be. Throughout Old Testament history, the prophets and other sages of the ages exhorted all people, including kings and queens, to hear the word of the Lord. But even though my did a good job of hearing, few did a good job for heeding. Works, no matter how well-meaning and noble and righteous, were not enough to save us by pleasing God. So the Word became flesh, took upon the form of a man, and this man was, is and always will be JESUS. He came unto Hi own and His own received Him not. But as many as did receive Him, He did not leave them empty-handed. Rather, to them gave He power to become the daughters and sons of God. And even today, for salvation's sake, the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, which is the word that we speak, so much so that if we confess with our mouths Jesus as Lord and believe with our hearts that He is the Son of God who did for our sins and whom God raised from the dead, thous shalt be saved, healed, redeemed, delivered, uplifted, enlightened, cleansed, strengthened and set free. Yes, Marie, there is power in the blood because there is power in the blood of Jesus. Yes, through Jesus, the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory as is of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth. Dear, our Heavenly Father, who art in Heaven, please WORD us on toward life and that more abundant. Please, Lord, WORD us to our healings. WORD John to a new, enjoyable and profitable job. Work Marie to the desires of her heart as they pertain to the healings of her and her husband. Keep WORDING the sinners to salvation. Keep WORDING war into peace. Thy Word is life, Thy Word is Truth. Thy Word is eternal and infinite. For heaven and earth shall pass away, but Your Word shall stand forever dear Lord. Fill us with Thy word. Surround us with Thy Word. Keep us with thy Word. Heal us with thy Lord. In Jesus' sweet and holy name we pray. Aman and Amen. Hallelujah!!! and thank you Jesus!!!

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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 August 11, 2010 6:55 AM.

My Wife Is Finally Retiring And I'm Not Too Far Behind was the previous entry in this blog.

I Don't Deserve Your Heart Or Anybody Else's For That Matter is the next entry in this blog.

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