Wednesday, January 31, 2007

God's Man Called


I've been privileged to be in the presence of great people. I can name off family members, faithful friends, Army buddies who have all made a tremendous impact on me. Today one of the greatest men I have ever met called me. He's not famous or rich or powerful. He's a simple man from India with God sized dreams. I've written about him before, but he's "double blog-worthy". He was born dead, literally. The mid-wife who helped in his delivery more than 60 years ago wrapped his lifeless body in a blanket and had it not been for his mother seeing a little toe move, he would have been buried that day. Yet, life coursed through those little veins and my brother M.A. Thomas has been giving away life ever since. He has no real property, owns a couple of changes of clothes, yet in his chosen life of poverty has been giving hope to children all over India for the last 40 years. Those who oppose him have tried numerous times to kill him. He has had cancer and survived. His son and my friend Sam has been imprisoned and accused of crimes in a hail of lies. All this they do for the simple reason that they have a belief that God loves this world and gave His Son Jesus for it. They take the teachings of Jesus seriously, so seriously that on one of my visits to India I saw Sam face down the very people that would want to kill him. He did not do this in anger, but he did it with a quiet confidence that has marked me to this day. I believe this, that courage is contagious. When we are in the presence of courage, Godly courage, it is so attractive. We find ourselves desperately wanting to be like that. Most of the time, we fail, but when we actually see someone filled truly with God's Spirit, it is undeniable. M.A. has been forbidden to leave India for the last year due to the false charges against he and Sam. But yesterday he arrived in Atlanta and today I got to speak with him on the phone. His voice was as powerful as ever. He gave all glory to God for getting him through the last year. He, as always, asked about my wife and children. How blessed I am to have the honor of knowing one of God's greatest saints. He has been instrumental in starting over 7000 churches in India. Hopegivers, the ministry M.A., started cares for over 20,000 orphans. 20,000! They care for children that no one else cares for. I've been there, seen the love they give. It will melt your heart. As a soldier I serve in the company of heroes. Everyday I walk around this post amongst heroes. Today, I spoke with a different kind of soldier, a hero in the Kingdom of God. If you have a minute check out their website at www.hopegivers.com Think about helping them. Pray about it. Maybe you'd even like to go. Maybe you can be heroic as well. Here's an article that I found about M.A. today if you'd like to read it. http://www.wtvm.com/Global/story.asp?S=6014347&nav=8fap

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Updated...running home

This morning was typical for most mornings at FT Jackson. I woke to a screaming alarm clock at 0500 thinking of reasons not to get up. I hate early mornings, I function much better sleeping till around 0700. But my soldiers are up training so I go in to be with them. Today however I chose to run by myself on secluded section of road out on the back 40 near our rifle ranges. Its about a 4 mile loop with a one mile grade that taxes the body good. I got there hoping to get my run in before my soldiers showed up at their Fit To Win training range. If you’ve seen stripes and have a vision of John Candy careening into the wood line out of control you’d be on track. I got to my parking spot about 0545 and put on my ipod, and took off up the grade facing the pain of the next 40 minutes with some chagrin. Most days running its something I endure out of necessity. I don’t enjoy it much except for when I’m done. Some runners get a high, I don’t at all. I feel pain mostly. I’m too stubborn to quit though. But today was different. Upon completing the one mile grade I gratefully crested the hill by the parade grounds known as Hilton field. Its where our soldiers graduate to the wild cheers of thousands of adoring family and friends. Running past the grounds I noticed a pain in my chest. Nothing major, just a muscle twinge in my rib cage but enough to set my mind on a journey. I thought to my self, “I’m 41 years old, in relatively good shape. What if I had a massive coronary right now?” I thought about the immediate consequences as a 5 ton truck cruised past. Some poor sap would find a dead Chaplain on the side of the road. It would probably just ruin his day. I thought of how my soldiers would react to the guy who talked about life and Jesus being cold as a stone. I thought of Tammy, Tori and Jack and the obvious reactions they would have. I suspect we all do that now and again. The stats on death are still quite remarkable, 1 out of every 1 go at some point. But then something very weird happened. Now I’m not a real spooky spiritual type. I don’t’ see God writing words in the sky to me. But, I’m also not in the camp that says God has quit talking. I believe He’s got much to say and much to show. I was listening to my buddy Carl Cartee’s song called Break Like a Wave. It has a haunting chorus that as you listen you pray for God to literally break like a wave over you. Then it happened; in my progression of thoughts of my fictitious heart attack I had a vision or something. My mind raced ahead and I found myself in those moments just after dying, not lying on the ground lifeless but still running. Now its obvious that I was actually still running, but something weird happened. It was as if God told me that the day that He calls me home, that is what it will be like. Running! But instead of running to strengthen my body, I’ll be running home, returning from the battle to my King and His Kingdom. I imagined running through the gates of His city and not worried about anything save one, to see Him. Just to really gaze on my Savior for the first time in my life. To really see Him. To run to Him. I really don’t mind saying that tears left my eyes by Hilton field at 0605 this morning. Hope filled my very being, literal hope, truth, presence, being, life! It was amazing. Then as quick as it came I rounded the corner at our sister Battalion of 3-34 and it was gone! It was just a taste, but oh what a taste it was! It changed my day, my view of people my energy level and is even changed me as I write. I almost at this point want to say, “Ah, you were just high from the endorphins from the early morning run.” But I’m wiser than that and I know my Lord much better than that. He is so kind and on days when He chooses He taps us and says, “I’m still here! You are still my beloved son! Be encouraged, My promises are true, My gift to you is hope, and My hope does not fade” I can end my day with that. May God tap you on the shoulder as well. Be blessed

Sorry, blog busted

I had a great story to tell and my blog is not working correctly, but I will update it later on today. If you got half of it, the rest is on the way!

Sorry, hope everyone is well!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Victory!




Here we go again! Well after a long break without soldiers here at Camp Shangri-La we have embarked on a brand new mission with brand new soldiers. One of the highlights for our newbies is Victory Tower. It’s a 50’ tall rappelling/obstacle course. Its got a huge cargo net, rope bridges and a sheer wall that soldiers get to rappel down. It’s a great way to begin Basic Combat Training. Many of our soldiers come in with confidence issues; basically they are scared out of their minds. They wonder about the war, whether they’ll go to Iraq or Afghanistan. Some from this generation have been neglected and abused. Some have quit everything they have ever started. Conquering this task early in the process is incredibly important. This day for many is the day that something clicks within them and they say, “Man! I can actually do this!” They have to demonstrate a little faith. They have to trust the rope, the Drill Sgt who taught them to tie the knots correctly. They are literally putting their lives on the “line” or rope if you will. It’s one of the joys of my time here to be on the tower with them. Faith in God is a lot like that. God is the unseen God. It’s like hooking up to a rappelling rope having never done it before. We’ve seen it done, but until you actually hook in and back over the edge no real faith is required. Faith in Jesus is like that. The Bible is pretty clear that an intellectual belief in God is not real faith. Plenty of people believe that God exists. But, what matters is belief in Christ. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26) Did you catch that? There is believing and then life that follows. Death is conquered through believing! How about that? After a soldier has believed that rope can hold him and he takes the ride down, oh my! They feel alive! It’s the same with Jesus, upon our simple faith in Him, the trusting of our very lives to His able hands that we really find the life we have always been looking for. Its so simple, yet so complex for so many. My encouragement to you as you read this is to take hold of the rope of faith, and know that the knots have been tied just right. On your own your doomed, but with Christ, faith…belief leads to life more amazing than we thought possible. In these pictures are Bravo CO 1-61 Infantry commanded by CPT Iverson. They are a great company of hard working cadre and Drill SGTs. Pray for their strength and they work ridiculous hours pouring their lives into these new soldiers!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My little girl


I used to hold her in one hand. She used to sleep with me on the couch every Sunday. She used to hate to go to sleep by herself. She had cool names for stuff, like "caukey" instead of coffee. Then one day I turned around and she was dancing on a stage before hundreds of people. She had an ipod in her ear and as I saw her walk down the hall in the dim early evening light I confused her for her mother. Wow! I suppose one day I'll be looking back with fondness the year that Tori turned 11. I suppose as I watch her walk down a church aisle to some horrible young man (just kidding) that I'll wish she was 11 again. Its hard being a daddy and watching them grow. When our kids are 2 we can't wait for them to be older, more self sufficient. Then when they aren't and we run into some toddler at Wal-Mart we say, "I remember when my kids were that age!" Part of us remembers all the sleepless nights, but there is a deeper part that remembers all the funny, cute stuff that you cannot recapture with cameras or video. Its the little moments that don't mean a thing to anyone else in the whole world that make the deepest impact on me. Sitting on a back porch playing guitar while the 3 year old dances to an out of tune song. Watching her examine flowers in the yard that are nothing more than weeds. These things are precious and rare and few and they fly away so fast. Remember them today, write them down. Tell stories. Because everyday they grow and they keep on growing. Time is a precious commodity and it is a constant in life. Even today she became Captain of her cheerleading team....enough already!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2007

Wow, its 2007! Hard to believe. I remember as a child of 12 thinking of what being a live after the year 2000 would bring. I remember thinking how old 35 sounded, now I think 35 is young. Today I watched the funeral for one of the presidents of my youth. Memories of the 70's flooded my head. I remembered GI Joes, BB guns, longing for snow to get us out of school, splitting wood and raking leaves with my dad and brother. I remembered in the 70's how unsure I was about the future. I remember worrying about the world as a child, being afraid of nuclear war. I heard an old philosopher on TV the other day recounting of how when he was young that he thought of life as the football and it was his to run with, but as WW II rolled around he realized that he was the football. I guess during the 70's I became acutely aware that life and this world we live in was a lot bigger than me. As I face 2007 as we all do that sense of wonder and nervousness still reside within me. I do sense that we live in very surreal times, world events that seem so out of control. I suppose that many generations have felt this way. As a Christian, a believer in Jesus and His promises, I'm obliged to remember today that I am not a football being pitched around at the whims of life. I remember that I'm in the sure hands of an Almighty, not part-mighty God who loves me and gave Himself for me. So no matter what the world hands me this year or what the world hands you, know this that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is moving according to His good pleasure over the face of this world. He is holding the universe together. He has role for us to play. I intend to play my part this year. My prayer is that you would as well. More to follow.

I head back to FT Jackson from a wonderful time of leave with Tammy and the kids. We worked around the house to get it ready to sell so we can downsize and simplify. I'm looking forward to that. It was great to see so many folks that I have missed dearly over the last two years. If you think about it, pray for us as I come home in 6 months to no job. Pray that God would place me where He wants me and that I would follow Him and Him only.

The songs of life- Thanks to mom

My home was filled with music and people growing up. Mom loved music and can play an assortment of instruments but her favorites are th...