WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE [or- Rock n Roll fantasy]
This week I wanted to do a second post on the same subject as last week.
But instead let’s cover how this ‘trip’ is going.
But first- I want to ask you guys to read the gospel of John this week- or this next month [not long, can read it in a day if you wanted].
But as you read- underline- highlight all the times where Jesus [or John] mention things like ‘he who believes has eternal life’.
This theme is in keeping with my last post- and it’s important that we all get that basic truth down.
Many good people say ‘John- sure- we believe in God’ and miss the main point that the Law [last post- law= trying to achieve salvation thru works] also had a belief in God.
James said ‘do not the devils believe in God’.
We need to grasp the idea that God himself GIVES us faith- as a Divine gift- and when he puts this faith in us [called imputation] we ‘become the righteousness of God in him’.
Faith means we stop trying to change ourselves thru implementing all types of programs/self-help principles.
These ideas [self-help] mean well- and to a degree can be helpful.
But Faith- when speaking about the subject of this post [being justified freely by God’s grace] means more than just a generic faith in God.
No- it means we stop striving to achieve change- change comes as a free gift of God.
Okay- see- I’m already on a rabbit trail here.
Read Romans chapter 7 and 8.
The Apostle Paul shares his own experience as someone who tried very hard to keep Gods law- and the more he tried- the more he failed.
In chapter 8 he explains the way this ‘new life’ works- based on Gods Spirit in us- as opposed to the old law.
Okay- let’s do a brief update on my time living again in New Jersey.
Yesterday I took one of my walks up to the park where I live.
For my Texas friends- this area is a hub for NYC- you catch all the buses to New York- as well as this North Jersey region- from this spot.
So- for the past 2 months I have been seeing a few street guys hanging out and stuff.
I have given a few dollars away- you know the standard thing.
But lots of times the street guys really don’t talk to you- I think they might think I’m a Narc [undercover cop].
Over the years it never helped that I carry my retirement badge in my wallet [Fire Dept.]
Why carry it?
To be honest- if you get pulled over for speeding [no seat belt].
When I take out my license- they see the badge- and let you go [sad- I know].
But- every so often if a street guy sees it- that’s it- I have to explain all this.
I ran into Billy [older guy who always hangs out by the Quick Check].
And I offered to buy him lunch- White Castles.
He turned it down- but thanked me.
We talked a while- he told me how he grew up right in the area- was a master mechanic for many years [even made custom motorcycles].
His parents died [he used to work out of their garage years ago].
He eventually lost his spot- and became homeless.
We walked over to White Castle- I ran into Nick [for you North Bergen guys- he’s the guy with 2 missing legs- always on the scooter thing].
And Nick was buying coffee for another street guy [Rick].
He split the cup with him- I gave him a buck for another cup- but Billy only wanted a drink.
I pressed him ‘you sure’.
Okay- one chicken sandwich.
I bought him 2- he was starving!
Funny- he could have had as many as he wanted [I like buying White Castles] but at first he turned it down.
Yet- he was hungry.
Many times the guys are not simply looking for a handout.
Nick [no legs] got a dollar from somewhere- and tried to pay me back!
So- the guys were having a good time- they hang out in White Castles during breakfast/lunch.
Rick was telling me how the senior crew comes in- and they get a kick out of hearing all the older guys get into it.
Rick grew up in Brooklyn [my mom’s home area].
Moved to Ohio over the years- married- had kids.
And he came back to the area after being away for many years.
He’s 55- been back about 2 years- was giving me the scoop of what it’s like to be back.
He even ran down the block and got me the little homemade rent signs the people leave in the Laundry mat.
I was telling him how high the rents are- and he said the best way to get a place is to rent a room from the people that put these homemade signs up in the laundry.
So- that was cool that he went and brought the whole paper back.
Yeah- they put the info on a sheet of paper- and make the little pull off tabs at the bottom with the phone number.
No- Rick says he always takes the whole thing- so no one else gets the room first.
All in all- I had a sort of break thru with the guys- they even were spilling the beans on each other [stuff like- ‘don’t give that guy a buck John- he’ll just drink with it’. Or ‘no- this guy’s really form Hackensack- he just takes the bus and hangs out here’].
I had to leave earlier than I would have- had my friend in Hackensack that I was going to meet up with.
Got caught in a downpour- the car gave me some trouble- but made it later in the day.
My friend in Hackensack reminded me about an old friend of ours- ‘back in the day’.
I heard many years ago that he became a Heroin addict- and over the years when I would come back to make visits- I tried to see him.
One year I shared some bible verses with him- about addiction.
He appreciated it a lot- never was the type that said ‘no- I don’t want to hear that’.
I knew he died some years ago- but my friend in Hackensack told me how he ran into him one day on the bus.
He looked like Death warmed over.
He tapped Frank on the shoulder and said ‘we’re all gonna die- we’re all gonna die’.
Frank told me that Tom died a week later.
He had aids- was very sick from years of using- and that statement- as eerie as it sounds- shows you the progression of sin- addiction.
Tom came to the realization [or acceptance] that he was ‘on the way out’ [he died a week later].
And he was able to cope with it [in a way] by accepting the fact that WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE.
James [the brother of Jesus- who wrote the letter of James in the bible] says our lives are like a vapor- like grass- it comes up in the morning- and by the night it is gone.
‘Grass withers- flower fades- but the word of God endures forever’.
Many years ago [25?] I came back to North Bergen.
I made the effort to look my old friend Tom up.
You know- I heard he was using- and as a new believer did my duty to witness to my friend.
He graciously heard me- never said ‘F-off’ type thing.
And this time back- I got a message from him- thru a mutual friend.
In Hebrews 11 the bible says ‘he being dead- yet speaks’.
Yeah- I think so.
NOTE- After writing the top of this post- spent another whole day with Nick [rock singer- no legs, I’ll post the pics later].
‘We’ sang some classic rock songs at Hudson County Park.
I do like to sing the classic songs- and can sing some of them.
Nick wanted me to sing [not bragging- but he said he could use the Texas sound in my voice- he liked it for the sets he was doing].
I also met John- John is a retried Union City cop [no joke- others told me about him- and after talking to him- yeah- he was the real deal].
Now- to be honest- I DO NOT get along with cops.
Over the past 25 years- I have helped the homeless guys as part of my ministry- and I have heard/seen many stories where the cops have screwed my buddies over.
So- at times- I have almost gotten in serious trouble because I have had this experience.
Yes- one time I was moving some stuff from a homeless camp- the guys in Texas live on the streets- or in little camps in the brush.
And some guy with a ‘cop’ shirt walks up to my truck- and was giving us [me] a hard time.
I read his cop shirt- he was what we call a ‘rent a cop’- yeah- a civilian with a cop shirt [some volunteer group- our volunteer fire fighters did the same thing- acted like paid guys].
So- I almost got in a fight with the guy- he walked away real fast and went back to his house.
This has been a problem for years.
So- it was strange in a way for me to be hanging out with a retired cop- who was very drunk- and to the best of my knowledge- is living in the park!
Yeah- John [the cop] is a street guy in the area.
But- I must have spent 7 hours in the park with the guys- singing with Nick most of the time. [By the way- his name is Nick Rizzo- he plays at clubs and is a sort of local singer- he’s good. Last night he invited me to hear him sing at some gig he was doing in Clifton- but I had another engagement- Patrick had already invited me to his Celebration of being clean for 3 years from drugs- and I wanted to attend Pats meeting- If you want Nick to sing at some function- I told him I would post his name to my site and if anyone sends me a note I’ll pass it along.]
Why am I commenting on my new buddies?
Last year I also tried to document ‘the way’ I do ministry.
I wrote/posted a few pictures of some homeless guys in an area in Texas that I simply went to for the first time.
I saw some guys sleeping on bus benches- bought them a McDonald’s breakfast- and a few weeks later an old friend contacted me- and we started a Halfway House a few blocks from where I first met the street guys.
Okay- I journal this stuff so others can see- and if they want- ‘copy’ this style of ministry.
It does work.
Now- to be honest- North Bergen has been a bit tougher than my Texas excursions.
I have seen Nick and these guys for a couple of month’s now- and yeah- some of them slip up and talk about illegal drug deals/use and all.
Then they realize I’m right there- and they have to try and hint to the other guy ‘watch what you say- this guy might be a Narc’.
So- I think they realize I’m the real deal- I told them the whole scoop from day one.
I grew up here- went to Texas- came back and am trying to do ministry here- …
Yeah- that story does not sound believable- at first.
But now I think they realize I’m not an undercover cop.
Okay- what does this accomplish?
It takes time- but when people become friends- and they know I don’t use anymore- and do ministry stuff- then you’re like ‘the friend’ in the group that yeah- every so often throws in a bible verse- or someone asks ‘hey- I always had this question about God’.
[For instance- after Nick found out about the ministry stuff- he told me about a Vineyard church he went to- and even played me a few original songs he wrote- with a Christian theme- God- etc.]
And that’s how it works.
Over time- some of the guys have real experiences with God- others don’t.
Some get clean- others don’t.
But that is indeed a form of ministry.
One last note.
I really am not at the point yet where I will start bringing up bible verses and stuff- that usually simply happens over time- as friends talk with friends.
But Nick was singing and rocking out- he’s really an outgoing guy- if you don’t know Nick and you live in the area- I would suggest for you to introduce yourself to him.
But he was talking about the singers who go onto fame and all- and how that’s not his thing.
He just likes playing the clubs- that when the guys get famous they are always worried about their image and what people think.
I did quote a verse.
I told the guys that Jesus actually said this in John’s gospel.
I quoted ‘How can you say you are doing Gods will when you are always trying to impress men- putting on a fake image/show’.
Yeah- Nick liked that one.
This is how this stuff works.
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John. Don’t forget to scroll down on the timeline [FaceBook] - I have posted lots.