DONNIE BRASCO [or a free supper].
The chapter for the week is Luke 14.
I finally made it into my 3rd month in Jersey- not an easy task.
One of my favorite movies is Donnie Brasco.
It’s the true story of the FBI undercover agent Joe Pistone.
He was famous for being able to infiltrate the mob- he got higher in the ranks than any other undercover agent.
In my 2 months back in town- I have met most of the ‘main crew’ of this area.
I have learned some interesting stuff.
Now- because I am not a Narc- and I am not here to be a Donnie Brasco- I have to be careful telling this part of the story.
But- to be honest- it took 2 months- only 2 [maybe 20 days total with the street guys] to ‘infiltrate’ the local story.
I have had friends- for many years- who struggled with drug addiction.
Some do ‘better’ than others.
That is- they maintain a home [apartment] and pay the bills [try] in the beginning of the month- because even though they are addicted- they know if they don’t pay the bills first- they will be on the street.
Others- they break the usual rule- and they not only sell the stuff- on a fairly large scale- but they use too.
Not everyone can do this- some can’t resist the temptation to use their supply- and that’s when they stop being dealers.
Okay- careful part.
I was truly surprised to see who the main dealer in this area is.
Trust me- you would be surprised to [by the way- It’s not the friend who I have been posting pics of].
I know of other people in the area- actual users- who also don’t know who this guy is [I’m talking about people who used to be users- they are now clean- they have told me this guy is homeless- he’s making at least a few hundred a day].
He comes in from out of town- the purchaser’s wait for him- and he must make about 300 a day.
Yet- you would think [yes- many locals do think this] that the guy was homeless- out of everyone in the area- he ‘looks’ the part- to the tee.
It really is an intriguing ‘way of doing business’- and I found this out by simply meeting these street guys.
Now- I am not here [Jersey] to Rat on guys- but when you’re in the area for a while- you learn this stuff.
Okay- Luke 14.
Jesus was teaching one of his memorable stories- what we call Parables.
He said some guy made this huge supper- invited lots of folk.
When the intended guests- the high class ones- received the invitations- they all made excuses for why they couldn’t come.
The guy who was making this great feast got mad.
He then sent the invitations to the poor- the crippled [no legs- wheel chairs- see?] and the low class crowd.
These low life’s- well they gladly took the invite- and partied hard.
In this chapter Jesus also teaches that when you throw a party- when you ‘serve food’ [often a symbol of teaching the bible- sharing the Gospel].
He said invite those who can’t pay you back- because if you do this- you will be rewarded at the resurrection.
Pay you back?
I had another incident with the street crew.
Now- I have been ‘on the streets’ for a very long time.
I know the scene- the way things work/happen.
And- over time- you learn to follow certain rules.
Rules [things I do] to avoid too much trouble.
One of them is- I usually only carry a few dollars.
Not because I think I’m gonna get rolled [robbed].
But because when you are around guys that use- they do at times ask for a few bucks [10- 15].
And I don’t give the guys money for that.
So- I simply buy lunch- or maybe even a pack of cigarettes- stuff like that.
So- the other day one of the guys- who has talent- can make something good with his life.
He asked if I could ‘lend’ him 14 bucks- I had 13.
Now- I have been around- and I know how this is.
So- with a little regret- I said ‘okay’.
He went into something about some another family member coming to give him 20- lots of stuff I heard/seen before.
After I gave him the few bucks- he hung out a bit- and took off.
He did call me on the cell later- I guess he came up with the 13.
I told him I’m not even worried about the 13.
But I told him- honestly- that he just got his check [the guys on the streets- who get some form of govt. aid- ssi- disability- etc.- they get paid at the beginning of the month].
And it usually lasts till at least the middle of the month.
Some times into the 3rd week!
But for hard users- well- it’s all gone in the first few days.
Now- I said earlier that some addicts simply have learned to pay the main bills- or buy whatever they need- in the first day or 2.
Then- they know where the rest is going.
And they wheel and deal for the rest of the month- with the Monkey on their back.
Sad- but true.
One of the guys- the day his check came in- spent 2oo- while I was with him.
Stuff that was good- not bad.
As we were going back to his apt.- he spotted a nice A.C. at a garage sale.
He bought it for his daughter [yeah- he raised her- she lives with him].
As we got back to his spot- I helped him carry it into her room.
It was sad- this friend- who uses- has a studio apt.
In this area- rents are very high- and lots of people live in converted Basements.
This was one of those.
But- as we brought the a.c. into her room- her room looked just like any other girls room.
Pink stuff- stuffed animals- the whole nine yards.
He actually does not let the other guys know where he lives- because he wants to keep this place as a shelter for his girl.
Now- he spent money on this A.C. - the first day he got his check.
And in 2 days- the rest went to drugs.
Addicts function at different levels- he manages to pay the bills- buy stuff [on purpose- because he knows what the addiction will do] and do this in the first couple of days.
Because by day 2 or 3- all the money is gone.
Now- some guys will sell the AC- or everything else in the house.
Others will rob.
But some ‘manage’ like this.
And yeah- they will even lie- or ‘bend the truth’ to get a few bucks.
Sometimes they don’t pay that back- and you get stuck having invited someone ‘to the supper- who couldn’t re-pay’.
NOTE- Update, yesterday my friend paid back the 13 bucks.
As soon as he saw me at White Castles he paid.
Let me do a short ‘version’ of what/why I see these types of experiences as beneficial.
Over the years- with many friends who have had addictions- I have seen a pattern take place.
That is- many of these guys have let down family- friends- themselves- all because of their addiction.
Okay- after a while they get used to this pattern.
Maybe they are at the ‘breaking point’ of wanting the fix- they quickly come up with a plan to get the cash [above case- my mom is coming to bring me 20 bucks].
Then they carry out the plan- and after they get high- they simply wait for the aftermath.
Which- in many cases- is the friends/family that got burned in some way- reject the person.
Now- should we let people ‘walk all over us’?
Should we try and view people in addiction [sin] as people who are slaves to a particular bondage?
Yes- and no.
That is we realize we all have choices in life- and if we choose wrong- we suffer.
But here’s the catch- in the above case I chose to not ‘get my rights’ to not think ‘how dare so and so do this…’
No- I simply viewed this silly 13 dollar thing as nothing big.
Though- in some scenarios- people would never speak to the person again.
In Luke 14 Jesus is in the house of one of the religious leaders.
They are all waiting to see what he will do.
It’s the Sabbath day- and there is an injured man there.
Jesus asks ‘is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath’.
He heals the man- the Pharisees are mad- and then he says-
‘Which one of you- if you’re animal falls into the pit on the Sabbath- would not get him out’?
He was showing them that the value of a person is much more than the value of an animal.
And that the thing they were judging Jesus for [healing people and helping them on the Sabbath] was simply showing the same grace to people- as they themselves showed- to their own animals!
Jesus valued people- he saw them as being created in the image of God- and yet afflicted with this disease of sin, this thing that was deforming the original image of God in them.
He saw them- in a way- as the beasts that fell into a ditch- on Gods ‘special’ day- on a day of rest [Sabbath].
In the book of Hebrews we read that the Sabbath day was a picture of this ‘new day’ of the Cross- the grace of God that made it possible for all to have rest in God.
Jesus died for us all- that we could all cease from own efforts to justify ourselves in God’s eyes.
But we can now come into Gods presence and receive his grace freely.
That’s what the Sabbath represents- a Day of Rest.
When he saw what sin had done to the human race- he saw them as people who had fallen into the ditch.
People who needed a savior- but there would be a radical price to pay- he himself would take the curse of sin- hang on a Cross and die in our place.
He would rise again on the 3rd day- and ascend into heaven.
Where he is seated at the right hand of God.
He will come again to judge the living-
And the Dead.
He came into the world- not to condemn the world- but that the world thru him might be saved [John 3].
Yeah- he invited all types of low life’s to the supper.
He said ‘go out into the roads and streets- bring them all in’.
He saw them as people who had fallen into the ditch- they needed help to get out.
He went to the Cross- he helped.
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.