They Had No Clue

And when his friends had gone away and night had fallen they took him and ridiculed and slandered him. Charges were trumped up against him in late evening when few were aware or present. He was alone with his enemies. And things got terribly worse for him. The wounds inflicted on him seemed more about hate than retribution.

Yet he gave no defense because he’d done no wrong. The world didn’t understand him so they viewed him as a threat to their own politics and power. They had no clue who they were really dealing with. He allowed them that night to do with him what they wished. He didn’t fight back or rail. He knew his purpose. He paid a heavy price that night. He carried a weight beyond measure. 

The next day there was surely a hush over the landscape. The preacher had been put down and silenced. He would not longer be able to gain the attention of the masses. His friends, no doubt, would now be quiet and go away.

How or why did this escalate to the end of the gentle healer? Through a blurred and salty vision this man that night saw past the offences of his revilers. He saw them with a compassion and love that they couldn’t know or ever embrace.

Unbeknownst to all, those darkest hours were ushering in a new light that would never fade or fail. Waiting, hoping, longing – they all waited in silence not knowing the direction of the future for all. They all just had to wait.

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They Took Him Down Alright

The Lord Jesus Christ had an excruciating week leading up to his death. The religious leaders couldn’t take him any longer. He was a threat to their way of life. They thought that the laws they so carefully tried to follow were being mocked by this man. Yet he looked beyond the detail of the law and saw people and he saw their need. He knew people didn’t need a strict adherence to a set of rules and regulations. They needed a kinsman redeemer.

They found a judge in that Thursday night who probably owed them favors. And with a trumped up trial after hours they brought their so-called charges against this man Jesus. With the help of a kangaroo court this sinless man fell in the hands of an angry mob. They handled him as if he was less than a human. Little did they know he was much much more.

Yet this man who’d loved others beyond explanation submitted himself to torturous pain. He could have ended this horror with a single word or thought. Yet in the dark of this night he would allow his mocking crowd to do their bidding. In the crowd that night there were possibly some of the very people who’d witnessed him heal a blind man or raise his dead friend from a tomb.

Anguish and humiliation continued through the night. This man was not getting away with his crimes of passion. A determination had been made to end him, once and for all. So they took him down alright.

They probably wondered how this man could’ve endured the beating that he’d already taken and still be alive and conscious.  In his final hours he still had the compassionate thought to reach out to another condemned man. The doomed soul beside him realized that this man Jesus had to me more than just a common man, not just by the way he lived by by the way he was dying. Even in his final agony this common thief received the passion of the Christ, and he believed.

So under the watchful curious eye of bystanders the execution of this Galilean carpenter came to an end. Even in his final gasps of breath he was asking his father to forgive his executioners. This was evidence enough to show that he was more than just a man. So they had their way took him down.

This story must be over.

Celebrating a Birthday – Especially in Heaven

He was my sounding board and confidant. And spiritual younger brother/friend. We pulled each other back from despair a number of times when life just didn’t make sense. He was Encourager-Par Excellence. He was the “get it done” person in the room. If you told him “Sorry that idea or project just isn’t possible” it was his signal for “watch and see it happen”. He’d go into high gear and make things happen. That thought process wasn’t just a human determination. It was coupled with the understanding and belief that our God is bigger than our problems or any obstacle we might face. The word “no” was just not a valid answer to my friend. He simply wouldn’t accept failure or defeat. He had a zeal for life that many will never attain. The enthusiasm and determination he exuded had a way of rubbing off on you.

One day he wanted me to come over with my pick-up to help him with a chore. It was one of those cold and blustery North Texas days late in the winter. I was sort of in a mess at that time because I was recovering from a broken arm and torn rotator cuff. The plan was to load a horse into a trailer and then take that horse to a breeder somewhere down close to Tyler, Texas. Because of my injuries I was still in a sling, but I could still drive.

We (bride and I) arrived at the land across from Jeff’s house and one of the guys who lived next to  the pasture had captured the horse in question and was trying to load said horse into a single stall horse trailer. After some wrangling, the horse finally reluctantly complied and they tied his bridle to the inside of the trailer, with what I thought was a flimsy rope. While watching being loaded I noticed that this little trailer had seen better days and I was a bit skeptical of the road worthiness of the wheels and tires for a 90 mile trip. But knowing Jeff, we were going to at least try.

Before I could back the truck up to latch onto the now loaded trailer and leave, this horse starting bucking and kicking in the trailer. I really thought the horse (and trailer) were about to start rolling down the hill. But while Mr. horse bouncing around in that trailer the rope with which he was tied broke free. So now this horse was confined, but loose, inside that little trailer. You are not going to believe this next part.

This horse was not happy and was not going to have any part of this trip or this trailer. His eyes were bugging out and then his head was sticking out the window of the trailer. Believe it or not, that horse proceeded to come out that side window. I was certain this whole thing was about to get really ugly with a horse half in and half out of a trailer window. But somehow he came out completely and then headed for the hills! It was the craziest thing I think I ever witnessed.

Horses became one of Jeff’s passions during the final chapter of his life. He left us way too early. But we are only given so many days on this earth by our creator. God’s purposes for Jeff had obviously been accomplished. During our friendship some great spiritual lessons were learned by both of us. In the pursuit of trusting God we both witnessed God’s hand in our lives and in lives of others too.

Jeff Thompson would have turned 52 years old today. He left an indelible mark on those around him, especially me. I might have a few impossible tasks in my path, but those are not really obstacles in my estimation, thanks to my buddy Jeff. Happy Birthday in heaven little brother and friend!

 

Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You – Illness

 

Like any communicable disease, there are limited but effective ways to stop whatever illness is knocking at your door. One solution is isolation – stay away from others who might infect you and your kin. At times a virus may come to us when we least expect it. An accepted way to combat the potential of an invading bug is to see if there is a serum or vaccination available to prevent infection. We go for an injection in hopes that we can build up immunity and avoid catching the invader. Some viruses are very resistant to elimination and require stringent and often serious isolation and might even require a different kind of protocol to stop the spread. As you know, we faced such a threat with the Ebola virus that came unexpectedly to our shores in 2014. Some people got sick, and some even died. But with fast action and certain isolation we were able to stop its spread and the ultimate destruction of thousands.

We have a subtle yet deadly virus that’s already made landfall in the U.S. quite some time ago. It is spreading like wildfire in many communities. We’ve not been sufficiently inoculated ourselves to keep this virus from invading and destroying us. The really scary part is that we’ve allowed the germ to grow pretty much unchecked so far. Thousands more that are already infected by this deadly virus are seeking entry into our land, and are actually being encouraged to come. They carry with them the potential of destroying us all if left unchecked. They already freely walk among us with the destructor in tow. In case you haven’t realized what threat I’m talking about, it is called Islam.

If we think North Korea is a problem or if Russia or China are serious threats, then we are fooling ourselves when those worries compare to the worldwide spread of Islam. This false religion will bring us all to our knees and ultimately destroy the civilized world. Its mission is to overtake, control and eliminate the Judeo/Christian message. If we fail to take decisive, serious and immediate action to limit the spread of the carriers of this plague we will face certain and complete destruction.

Fortunately there is a vaccine. It’s called the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith in Him is the only hope. He is the one and only God. He can protect you from any invading virus or ideology. He can remove each and every strain of disease being perpetrated and promoted upon our society. It’s not too late to be protected. Immunization requires action on your part, as it’s not an automatic prevention. You have to go to the source of the maker of the vaccine.

Ask the one and only true God to redeem and protect you from the spread of the invader with a complete dose of the vaccine that gives life. A good  place to find the answers is by taking a stroll into the pages of The Gospel of John in the New Testament. It’s a simple and forthright read.

 

The Compelling Days of Easter

 

I have days when I am compelled to write. Writing is simply a revelation of what is going on in one’s mind. Today is one such day for me.

 

Driving back from lunch it dawned on me that this is Easter week. It usually slips up on me. For those of you who’ve seen what I say on here, I am someone who believes in traditional values. I lean pretty far to the right on most social and political issues and I don’t apologize for that. I’ve a passion for life and liberty and justice. I enjoy simple pleasures. I enjoy humor. I relish passionate spiritual music from another era (crazy I know). I get jazzed and motivated serving others. That’s my calling.

 

But this week of the year pulls from me something that is from the depths of who I am. I know I’m a husband and a son and a father, and now I’m also a Pops. But who I really am is one who believes in the power of the cross of Christ. Yes, I realize it was a cruel and bloody event a long time ago in history that some people cringe and want to ignore. But the event of the cross was the pivotal point in all of human history. God made a bridge to himself with the horrible and brutal death of the God/man Jesus Christ. I’ve learned about him, I’ve prayed to God in his name. I’ve relied on him to carry me when I had no more strength. I’ve seen his hand and I’ve seen his heart. No human reasoning could ever change my mind about who I KNOW he is.

 

So as I ponder this week and the junk He was given to endure, it puts a big lump in my throat. I realize he did what he did to pay a debt for me, that I was incapable of honoring. Whatever you’re doing this week I urge you to stop and ponder the Christ who laid it down for us all. Embrace and accept him. Take the gift that is being freely offered to you, and don’t look back. If you do, you will realize and experience something called resurrection. That word means that something was dead and had new life breathed into it. You’ve heard that story. He died and went to a grave. His detractors thought they had snuffed him out. But he had new breath pumped into him a couple of days later. He stood up and walked out of his place of defeat and displayed God’s power one early morning. That is the story of Easter. I hope you see it and experience it like I have.                   

Tough Week…..Tender Family

…..Well my reflective and sentimental mind awakened me again very early for the second Friday morning in a row. Last week I was up early reflecting on my Mom’s life and passing and remembering what she did for me and I shared many of those thoughts at her memorial service. But today it is about Jeff.
I could not fall back to sleep as my mind was reeling with thoughts and memories of Jeff Thompson and family. I knew that I had to get up and jot down my thoughts or I would not be able to remember them or I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep completely.
So here goes, from a restless mind.
Could this family possibly have started with a Toga party? Not 100% sure if that is correct but I think I recall Jeff telling our Tuesday morning guys when we were all telling about how we met our wives. DeeAn, if this is not true I apologize! We all have our unique stories of how we met our spouses, huh? Some are just more amusing than others.
When I first met Jeff his family was still in what I would call the “fledgling stage”. His kids were still pretty young. And Amy (the youngest) was a very young duckling and cute as pie. They were all small, innocent wide eyed and cute.
Just so you’ll know what kind of folks I’m talking about, this portion of the Thompson clan began with a special needs child. Families with special needs kids have challenges that most of us will never face. It takes people of true compassion and care to intentionally have a child with many needs. And then to add five more gifts to their quiver makes this story even more special.
Jeff was a learner and observer. He watched how others were parenting their kids and was always curious about how to deal with the challenges of raising kids, especially once they reached the dreaded teenage status. For those of us a little further along in that process, we gave Jeff what advice we could and then we would all pray together for God’s direction and the grace to be the kind of husbands and dads that our families needed.
I remember a few extra special times where Jeff was doing things for or with his kids. Like when he went to church camp for a week. Reports were that he was the kid that was very close to being kicked out of camp for speeding on a golf cart around campus and “other things”. He was just one of the kids. But he wanted to be with his kids any time he could. So he went to pre-teen camp.
Then there was the time of the surprise gift of two four wheelers that were hidden in my garage until Christmas morning when I delivered them for Jeff to his driveway. The looks on those kids’ faces were something. And the excitement Jeff had was equal.
I recall a Colorado trip when the family van broke down and it took almost a week to get parts for repair. They turned that potentially bad experience into a memory, as they sort of camped out in that little town and even went to the local church there that week.
Jeff intentionally took his kids individually on trips to wherever that child wanted to go. I guess living in a large family, you can at times get lost in the shuffle. Well that is not the case here. He planned for inclusion and always made it fun and directed to that child. From NASCAR to Mexico to Mid America Mall to rescuing dogs or rescuing friends, he always included his kids and taught them by example.
Besides Jeff’s wife and kids that he cherished, he loved dearly his mom, his sisters and their extended families and had many funny stories to go along with them all. I could extract some hush money from them, I’m sure!
There were others that Jeff considered family as well, like Andrew and Lori Spurgeon. He opened up his home and his life to their family and supported every international mission effort they were involved in with compassion and care. He very much respected Andrew’s spiritual wisdom, squeaky laughter and his love of rutabagas. Go figure.
From my view Jeff keyed on strengths, not weaknesses with respect to his family. He always told them he was proud of them and affirmed them every chance he got. He taught them hospitality, by on many occasions having groups into their home for meetings or welcomed anyone into his home.
I could go on for much longer but I will end this now. These are not just random thoughts, but reflections screaming to be released from my feeble mind.
Jeff was not a superman. He had feet of clay. He was broken at times and deeply remorseful for any errant thoughts or actions. And he knew he was forgiven by and relied fully on God’s mercy and grace to keep going.
This wild and crazy guy poured out his life into his family.