IAG2M: 5 – Tom’s Testimony
Hi there. It’s tom Harris with our program. It’s all greek to me. And I’m going to remove my signature had here, the hat man. Somebody called me, uh, which says city vision on it. And I want to give you a background for why I called it. It’s all greek to me. I’m greek. My greek name is Anastasios, Mackerras and I want to give you some background from Thessaloniki where I was born and I had my brother and I, his name was demetrius. Mine is Anastasia’s, which means the resurrection And my hair is means the two edged sword. I was always a leader as a little guy. I was leading, whether it was my school assemblies or graduation exercises. And then later on, of course my mom and dad, my father is uh Alexandros and my mother is Stella and all from northern Greece. And of course that’s called Macedonia. Macedonia and the southern part of Greece, Zakia. Now they’ve created another country that they called Macedonia, which is another country. But uh, we came in 1957. My mother and my brother and myself on a boat to New York City in 1957. I was about almost eight years old. My father had already come four years prior to this and he was working, got enough money brought us over just immigrants, but doing it legally. And of course I was totally intrigued with the rock rock n roll movement. I started playing the guitar when I was a little guy. Then we had a little uh, sister. She’s in the blue here. You’ll see her with her facial expressions uh Christina in America, she was born here but then later on moved to Greece, that’s my uncle right next to me there in that shot my mom’s brother. And then I got into the drug scene and the rock and roll scene and started playing uh you know even in junior high school, I was involved with playing for the prom at junior high school 52 later on at George Washington high school, playing for the Prom and doing all kinds of things. Uh and this was my first band, the MGs. And then we met Vicki Vicki after uh you know I got involved in the music, I met Vicki, she was, we met we were 16 years old, this beautiful girl right here italian Vicki rick Adela. We met down in Central Park at Central Park Zoo back in those days, there was a zoo there outside the orangutan cage. And we, I saw her, we we just, I fell in love with her, I looked at her, I said wow, who is this person? And then we got together And we were inseparable. This is a picture from when we were 16 and uh Albino Park on 187th street and Amsterdam Avenue and then of course I met her friends bruni and bobby and Lorraine right here in this picture with uh myself and Vicki and Joyce is not in this picture. And then and then we we were we had a band, we started practicing and with the goal of recording and and just doing all kinds of stuff, bobby later on got into uh group called joe cocker, he played Woodstock and he’s still playing, going on strong uh bobby Torres and uh but Vicky and tom we were the we were hippies and you’re living in new york city, she’s living in queens. I’m living in Manhattan. We were just to free spirited people to free souls. And you know, I didn’t read the bible, I didn’t know about church. I wasn’t we weren’t involved in that. We were involved in in civil rights. Uh you know, Love and the Love movement piece. Uh we were involved in the drugs and we were protesting, we were involved in Central Park beings and protests. And in fact I was, I was I had become a leader and a lot of this stuff, you can see in this picture where I’m singing there in the front with my with my jacket, uh the bird, the two blue jays on the jacket. And that’s the only way you can see that the guy in the microphone there is Tom Harris Age 18. and uh but God had other plans for me, he wanted to change my life. You see from this picture to the one right before you could see that jacket is the same exact jacket. And uh this was martin Luther King’s memorial service the day after he was assassinated in Central Park on april the fifth, 1968. He was killed on april the fourth. And when you look at this sign, I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land here. I was involved in civil rights and protest And uh, honoring Martin Luther King jr, who was a preacher who through peaceful demonstrations and uh sought to change the whole fabric of the mindset of America at that time in 1968. And I was into all of that. In fact, that was leading this and right after me, Richie Havens played about freedom and motherless Child and all the songs that he played in Woodstock a year later. Uh, when he opened up the the Woodstock concert, there were all those people had come. But God had other plans for me. Little boy born in Thessaloniki leaving Greece and coming to new york city meeting Vicky going through everything. I went through God had a plan and he didn’t let me die. That’s the important thing because I should have died. I had people pull guns on me. I was involved in drug sales. I was involved in sex drugs and rock and roll for three years. Every single day getting high and God had a different plan for me. He wasn’t, he didn’t want me to be in the darkness. It says in first Peter chapter two and verse nine that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Listen to this. A people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of the darkness into his marvelous light. And that passage in first Peter chapter two and verse nine gives four specific uh descriptions there adjectives specifically of what God says. We are were born by calling, he called us out of uh what we were involved in. He gave us birth from heaven. Were born from above. And we are a royal priesthood. Incredible were born royalty as a, as a priest now and we are a holy nation, God intended holiness for Vicki and tom not sinfulness and that we are a people Betty pieces. He created us with his own hands in the old testament, secular. And in the new testament, this wonderful word that means his treasured people. So that what we could proclaim his excellency who called us out of the darkness into his marvelous light. And here was the day that I heard the gospel, this guy on my left uh, you know, and uh is telling me about jesus. I’m on the streets of Lake George. I’m looking around this is after I’d gone in through mental institutions and shock treatments and all kinds of craziness. I went up to the mountains to find some peace And while I was up in Lake George, this man Bruce Wagner shared with me that God loves me, that jesus christ died on the cross for me that he was buried and rose again from the dead and wants to forgive me. And here here I was talking about you know how all of us really are the same. There’s only one god and he created all of us. And I even wrote the song White God, Black God that I that I sang at Central Park that day. I believe that man is destined not individually, but as a whole to be made one final species in the body and in the soul I believe. And I’m saying these words, you know, I used to think the devil empowered me. Maybe it was God who was telling me, look, there’s no difference between a black man and a white man. I love the black man, I love the white man, I love the brown man, I love the yellow man, I love all men. For God so loved the world. I heard that message that day, this day right here that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. And it changed my whole life because God did not come in the world to condemn the world, but that the world through jesus christ should be saved. I told Vicki Vicki came up to this place and I shared the Gospel with her and she too accepted Jesus christ. We repented of our sins and gave our hearts to him. And then what happened is we went to bible school and three years, four years later we got married and uh, we have five Children, Stephanie and anesthesia, victoria’s Tasso and Alexandra. And we’re just thrilled because not only do we have these special people and they’re really different. They’re just like mom and dad, uh, they’re full of life, full of joy and their bright, sharp young people. I thank God for them and uh, I love them. And uh look, they really can uh, you know, I wish you could meet them. Here they are. And of course We also have 10 grandchildren and now we just had two months ago our great grandchild, a little daughter. But this is what God intended for me. I had no idea. But God was there always working his plan and we know that God causes all things to work together for good. To those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose and that’s what I want to just leave you with today. God had intended for me to be an evangelist, a preacher to go throughout the world preaching the gospel of jesus christ, that’s what he had intended for me. He but he needed me to repent, he needed me to change, he needed me to believe that Jesus died on the cross for me now I knew about jesus through my greek Orthodox upbringing, I knew the stories and they were very traditional and they were very religious and I had a great respect for the Orthodox church. However, I never had a personal relationship with jesus christ. I didn’t understand that, it wasn’t about religion, It was about a relationship that God wanted me to have with him. And the only way that could happen was through Jesus Christ, as Jesus said in John 146, I am the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the father, but through me. And that’s what happened in 1968, I heard for the first time with the ears of faith, I believed with the eyes of my heart and the ears of my heart and the mind of my spirit and soul, inside of my, my being, my heart, in my mind and my soul and my spirit totally connected with God. Because now I realized, hey, what I was singing back there in Central Park on the martin Luther King Memorial, that man is destined to be made one final species in the body and then the soul, I believe, you know, it really is true that God loves everyone and it’s just fantastic. And then when you look at this verse of scripture, when you look at the things that God wants to do in our life found in romans chapter eight in verse 28 c. It says, and we know now that word is either either and we know not, you know, school, not experiential knowledge, but either intuitive knowledge. It’s the kind of knowledge a little baby has when it’s just sucking the sucking sensation. All my Children, you know, nobody taught them how to do that. They did that intuitively as a baby. They were looking for milk. That’s what the birds do when they know where to fly. That’s what the turtle does when it knows which way to go towards the water. It’s intuitive knowledge that God built into the DNA of that particular creature he created and we know what that God fellows. That’s what God, the word God, their fellows causes all things to work together. Now, it’s interesting, God causes all things. That’s the word sinner here, Sin is with and and media is, and the idea is, is the power or the the energy. We get energy. The word energy comes from that end of the year. So it’s with power coming together. God says that he is working all things together. The bad, the good and that we perceive bad and good because God just sees things experiences that we’re going through. Some of them have, we have to go through in order for God to accomplish his ultimate goal and purpose. And we know that God causes all things to work together for what it says to work together for good. Now this word good, if you notice this word good is the word Agatha does not good, intuitively not good and uh not good for yourself, but good through you for other people. Its intrinsic goodness inside that God says that he is working everything out so that we might be able to touch somebody else’s life with what we’re going through in relation to the believer, describes what originates from God in their life, birth and empowered by him through faith. Agatha’s is intrinsically good. Usually describes divinely enabled virtue and the result is of faith. So, God causes all things to work together for good. Now, how how do you explain this? Well, there’s a great couple of verses of scripture that I want to share with you on that God works all things together for good. For instance, the story of joseph, when in the old testament, joseph is explaining what’s going on, Joseph said to them in verse 19 of Genesis 50, do not be afraid for, am I in God’s place? And then he says in verse 20 genesis 50 in verse 20. As for you, you meant it for evil, as for you, you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive. That’s amazing, isn’t it, that, you know, they they’re gonna kill joseph, his own brothers. They throw him in the pit, they come up with this crazy story that and they sell him as a slave into uh Egypt, He goes through all that hard experience that he went through. You know the temptations in part of his house being falsely accused and put into prison for the years that he was there and then God brings him out and becomes the second person in the authority of the chain of command in all of Egypt, absolutely phenomenal and God meant it for good. It says it wasn’t good for him to be in prison. It wasn’t good for him to be falsely accused. It wasn’t good for him to be scared to death by his own brothers beaten up and thrown down into the pit and sold as a slave, it wasn’t good for all of those things, you can say boy that was not good, you know, and yet and it wasn’t good that he had to wait three more years until uh these guys who he, he interpreted the dream forgot about him. But then when pharaoh had that dream and they want and he wanted to know what’s going on. Hey, that’s when he came to the forefront, God has his perfect timing and at that particular timing he was sent, it says in the new testament To preserve his Jacob and all the 70 people that came down there to preserve their life. Listen, it wasn’t that good that God allowed all that hardship to take place in Joseph A model in a picture and a type of prototype of Jesus Christ so that we could learn that hey, we go through horrible things in life and God can take all of that and put it together in a beautiful mosaic so that he could accomplish his purpose through your life and through my life. Let me just show you one new testament illustration in the new testament in the Book of Hebrews in chapter 12, it says this about Jesus Christ in Verse two, fixing our eyes on jesus, the author and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross. Now let’s stop right there. Did he enjoy going to the cross? That he want to go to the cross? Answer, No, we know that. How do we know that? Because in the Garden of Gethsemane, he said to the father, he said, Father, let this cup pass from me. I don’t want to go through this, but not as I will, but as thou wills. And that is the key. You may not want to go through a particular thing. It may be painful. It may be horrifying. It may be incredibly, you know, for your own personal comfort. Forget about it, as we say in new york. No way. But for other people and notice what the words say here for the joy set before him? He endured the cross despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God verse three for consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. Well, what was this joy that jesus had to go to the cross? It was the joy that you and I would become believers that we would repent of our sins. And like the thief on the cross say, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom, some people rejected, but other people receive all because of jesus death and burial and resurrection. It’s an incredible story, isn’t it? So then when we go to the rest of this passage, it was it was it says good to those who love God. Now that’s a phenomenal thought. Those who love God and maybe we’ll continue the next time around because the bible does talk about those who love God. The bible talks about the fact that uh in the in the old testament, those who love God and Deuteronomy 64 through nine. And you shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, that’s the great chama, as the jewish people call it. It’s a it’s a phenomenal passage of scripture verse 20 exodus 20 verse six, but showing loving kindness to thousands to those who love me and keep my commandments. These are the people of God the ones who love God Deuteronomy 79, knowing therefore that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God who keeps his covenant is loving kindness to thousands, thousands generation with those who love him and keep his commandments. And Deuteronomy 10 12 again for those who love him and serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. In Matthew four verse 10, jesus said to him, go satan for it is written. You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only and Deuteronomy 11 verse 12. If it shall come about if you listen obediently to my commandment which I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 30 and verse six it shall come about if you listen obediently to my commandment, which I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God. How many times do we have to hear this? This is the most important commandment. I’m gonna jump to the new testament in Matthew chapter 22 verse 37 he said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great commandment. This is it that we love him with all of our heart and the second is like it to love our neighbor as ourselves Now romans 8 28. We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, To those who are the called according to his purpose. You see, God’s purpose is to make us into the image of Jesus Christ. I’m gonna just jump these verses and go back to what we were looking at from the passage of scripture. Notice what it says in verse 29. His purpose, Huh is for those. And by the way, the word here for purpose is prosthesis, Prosthesis, the the actual beforehand to purposefully set forth. And he says, what is that For those who for new? And that is the word pro Moscow. That’s where we get to work. Prognosis verse 29 for those who for new uh for whom he for new. He also predestined. And so God knows everything he knew beforehand. And because of that he predestined Pro rizzo. That is beforehand to assign. That’s what that word means. In in verse 29 I’m in romans 8 29 28 29 30. These are the three verses I’m covering to become conformed to the image and that is the icon of jesus christ. So God is not more interested in my comfort, but rather than in my conformity to the image of christ, He wants to transform me from the inside and make me into the character of jesus christ. So he works all these things together in my life for that purpose. That’s what he says here. So that he would be the firstborn among many brethren. Now look at verse 30 for those whom he predestined. That brought Chorizo, which is those he already has appointed beforehand. He does what he calls them is the word Khalil, which we get the word church, huh? Gak Alicia. Those who are called out from the world to come together to worship him. And these whom he called those he justified. And that is the word Vicki. Oh, he not only conform us to the image of his son, conforms us to the image of his son, but these whom he predestined us for that purpose. He now calls and whom he he calls. He justifies, he creates in right standing with God and then those whom he justifies. He also glorifies. This is the vocs Oslo, this is the full orb of the plan of God in a little guy’s life in Greece to make me into the image of jesus christ. And not only does he call me, not only does he know what’s going on beforehand and a sign in my life all the things I will go through and then call me to become conformed to the image of his son to repent of my sins and believe on jesus christ, who died and was buried and rose again and then he justifies me, makes me one with Vicki. Oh he makes me righteous. He takes out of me the sinfulness and puts into me the righteousness by faith Of Jesus Christ that second Corinthians 521 and then finally he glorified by the way, all of this is in the past tense. That means God has already in his mind sees it has happened. Look at our Lord, he gives us such a calm and a piece concerning all the circumstances of our life. He says that there there so that in our inner being we could become one with jesus christ in our inner character, the bad, the good and the ugly comes into my life because his ultimate goal is to make me like jesus christ, he’s gonna use these bad experiences not for me, but through me he’s going to help other people as well. And that’s what that passage is all about. So listen, keep following on. It’s all greek to me and I’ll see you the next time around. I know sometimes it gets a little bit more than you learn all these greek words all at one session. But this is one of the most fabulous panoramic views of the whole experience of salvation from what God knew to what he appointed to how he called us to how he justified as to how he glorified us. And he sees it has all happened already because he’s outside of our time and space and place. God bless you and may God encourage you with these words and I’ll see you next time thomas Harris with it’s all greek to me. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah.