I’m questioning whether I even want to keep this page as part of the site. What follows is adapted from the the “Life of Lion” with an eye toward replacing the main site altogether at some future date. what I’m thinking is that this is already too much about me. The Lord is teaching me to get the focus off of myself. Nevertheless, here’s all the background you could ever want. If you haven’t had enough by the end of this page you can keep up with the latest on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter. The Personal catigory on the blog continues our story, or at least my version of it.
Current Activities and Interests
Linda and I have found our place. I know that God calls us to give out of what we have been given. Admittedly it raises many questions, but we feel we can do that in our new church home, Bartimaeus Baptist Temple. I now serve as associate pastor there, bringing to fulfillment the message God gave me when i was just a little boy, not yet old enough to understand my need for Jesus.
I’m currently a lead computer programmer for Bank of America on a COBOL based loan processing application called ALS. Check out the blog for more..
A lot of the free time that is left to me is spent reading. For pleasure I love a good story. I have a definite preference for science fiction, but I will read just about anything as long as it is interesting and reasonably clean. Now that I get most of my reading from audible.com I’m tending toward more Christian themed fiction. I also enjoy reading other materials that expand my understanding or make me think. This preference is growing as I see the benefits of spending more time meditating on the truth. I read a lot of news and feel it my duty to stay informed.
I enjoy music. I have a serious MP3 habit. Just about any style will do, though I do have limits. Country is out, though I do enjoy anything that has a lot of complicated instrumental work in it. I have pretended at being a musician enough to have great respect for those who play well. Opera, however, is off the list completely. Though I do not have a moral objection to any music not labeled Christian, I choose it almost exclusively. Music is often enjoyed passively, I want only that which is good and pure to be entering my mind in that way. For a pretty thorough rundown of my favorite bands, check out the Music page and Facebook. A movie buff I am not, but I do have a few favorites that I like to collect. I have all of the Star Trek movies and I’m working on getting all the TV shows from both Star Trek series and Deep Space Nine. I want a full set of the Star Wars movies. I’ve also got my sights set on Babylon Five.
I am sure you will not be surprised to learn that I am into computers, but you might be surprised to learn that I take only a passing interest these days. Too many other things are more important. Other peripheral interests include nature and creation theories, church history, and technology in general.
I was born on January 14, 1970 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I thank God regularly that I have two wonderful, Christian parents who loved me much and taught me well. We moved a lot because my father was in the military, and then because of his ministry. My most memorable years were spent in Arkansas.
My parents never made a point of the fact that I could hardly see. In fact, it took me many years to really understand that my condition was not normal, even though I underwent a lot of teasing and then attended a school for the blind. I am very grateful for this, because I never got the idea that my condition prevented me from doing anything. It was in my adult years that I found my frustration growing as I discovered that there are some limitations that won’t go away whatever we want to say about them. However, Yahweh’s grace is sufficient.
I am a graduate of Texas Tech University With a B.B.A. in Management Information Systems. I graduated in May of 1997. It took a while to get there. I started back in 1988 at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Due to family complications, I left during the Fall term of 1989 and didn’t get back around to traditional college until Trinity Valley Community College in Palestine, Texas in 1993. In the interim, I worked for TeleSensory Systems Inc., a vendor of assistive technology for the blind. I also attended and then worked for what was then the Computer Programmer Training for the Physically Challenged course at El Centro College in Dallas, Texas. It later became Computer Programmer Training for People with Disabilities, and is now defunct. It was an excellent course which produced programmers who tested above students with four years of traditional college and two years of work experience. I am currently employed as a senior Analyst (programmer) at Bank of America in Dallas, Texas. I am content for now, but I would rather be in full time ministry, or at least in some kind of teaching roll. I needed the success of my current profession just to know I could do it. If something should happen to my job, I might give strong consideration to changing the direction of my life entirely.
The Faith of a Child
I am most thankful for the parents Yahweh gave me. I find it hard to know where to start describing the things they did for me. One thing stands apart. They taught me about Jesus. That fact alone eclipses everything else they have done whether good or bad. My relationship with Jesus, which began even before I said that prayer at age six in the floor of the living room with my dad, is the reason I am here to write to you today.
I remember the faith I had then. It was uncomplicated by the harsh realities and questions that are inevitably encountered as we grow into adulthood. It was so simple then. If Dad said it, it was true. I needed no additional confirmation. One Sunday afternoon when I was seven, I was lying on the couch while my parents were preparing lunch after church. I decided that I was ready to speak in tongues. This was another thing my dad taught me about, but I didn’t feel ready until that day to receive it. I really don’t know why. I do know that I asked for it that day on the couch and it happened. God gave me my prayer language just because I asked for it. I don’t remember kneeling or spending a protracted period of fervent prayer. It just happened right there slouched across my parents’ sofa. It causes me to rejoice even now when I think about the wonder of it. Upon countless occasions since that day, I would not have known how to pray without it. I am reminded of Yahweh’s grace and His faithful response to a faithful prayer made according to His will. He answered several prayers that way. For a time my allergy problems were conquered. I could play with the neighbors’ kittens without a care, something I cannot do today.
Even before I knew enough to make Jesus my lord, my calling came. My recollections of the experiences at age four and again at age eight are not so vivid as that of receiving my prayer language, but they represent the only times in my life I can say that I got distinct words from the Almighty. Delivered in a strident, authoritative voice, they said “You are going to be a preacher!” On both occasions I ran immediately to report the news to my dad. The call never completely left my mind, though I came to discount it in later years. I used to preach into a tape recorder, emulating the ministers on the many teaching tapes that my dad used to play around the house. . I remember trying to preach the story of Genesis onto a tape from memory. I got a little confused.
It did not take long for seeds of doubt to begin to sprout. Over a period of time, they would almost choke my faith to death. I am even now just beginning to understand what none of my family did then about the way God often chooses to work in our lives. I wish I could say that the issues that I began to encounter as far back as age nine have all been addressed, but I cannot. What I can say is that I am learning to trust in Yahweh despite not having those answers.
One of the things for which I am most thankful is that my parents never set my blindness before me as an obstacle. It was only later in life that I would have to come to terms with it. Though there must have been occasions where practicality demanded it, I cannot remember one time when I was told “You can’t do that because you can’t see well enough.” I was well aware of my condition, but I had no concept of what it meant.
Despite this, I was given a strong sense that it was not the right condition. I was to be healed. We would pray and God would heal me. We tried all of the popular formulas. We went around saying that I was healed when clearly I was not. We went to doctors so that we would better understand what we were supposed to be asking for. It wasn’t something we did all the time, but I remember many a healing line in front of a church. Once we went to a convention with a well known preacher of the time and he also prayed for me. The years went by and nothing changed. I stopped believing it ever would. There was still a hope that outlasted any real expectation, but in time that also died. I cannot place the blame for everything that would follow solely on that process, but the effects of it last to this day.
My calling was not forgotten, but I reinterpreted it. After all, every teacher I heard said that we are all to be preachers. I began to see it as nothing more than a calling to be a real Christian. I observed the trials that my father went through as a pastor, and I decided that I wanted no part of that life. People were unfaithful and unpredictable. It seemed everyone was spoiling for a fight. I went through periods of teenage rebellion, but most of the time I tried to serve God the best I knew how. I just did not want to be a “preacher.” That aversion was reinforced by my first attempt at a sermon. I had studied well. In fact, my study of love began a lifelong quest to understand and practice it. The delivery left something to be desired. I dropped my notes and all of my confidence was lying among the papers on the floor. The passionate monolog practiced less than an hour before never reached its intended audience.
Driving Blind: Who Needs Road Signs Anyway?
I used to have a motor scooter. My experiences with it make a great illustration of where my life was headed at the time. I can operate a bicycle on a quiet neighborhood street with reasonable safety. A motorized vehicle able to travel at speeds up to thirty miles per hour is an entirely different matter. I got it when I was eighteen and full of youthful pride and disregard for danger. Despite numerous crashes, I kept using it and even took it to college and used it on campus. I had every indication that I needed to give it up, but I refused to take them seriously. I had to be forced to it by pressure from the school. I put myself and everyone around me in danger, but I could or would not see it. I have often wished that someone was as easily able to keep me from taking the rest of my life in the same direction, though I don’t know how I would have learned the things I needed to know about life without the experience to teach me.
I met my first wife at a summer camp when I was fifteen. We corresponded almost continuously through our high school years by sending cassettes back and forth in the mail. When I graduated high school, I moved from Kansas City to Fayetteville, Arkansas to attend the University of Arkansas. In part I felt like Arkansas was my home, but the main reason I went was to be nearer to her and find out if I wanted to marry her. We were married in June of 1989.
When I look back, I can see that there were signs of trouble to come even in the letters we exchanged. I could not see them for what they were, even as they became so obvious that I should have been smacking into them. I knew of some problems, but I was determined that enough love and support would solve them. Eventually there came a moment of decision. I felt in my spirit that I was making a mistake, but I did it anyway. From that point there could be no other outcome than marriage if I was to have a clear conscience. The results almost destroyed me.
We were separated in less than six months and were divorced in April of 1991. I was devastated. My faith was challenged. My naiveté was exposed. My arrogance was crushed. This is not how it was supposed to be. Good Christian preacher’s kids were not supposed to get divorces. I blamed God and conveniently ignored the fact that my own disobedience was the real cause of my situation. Those whom I most trusted kept telling me that I did the right thing. I tried to believe that, but I could not. I suppose the possibility exists that I had a right to, but that is not the issue. I believed it was wrong when I did it. It was not until I admitted my sin before God that I was able to really begin the healing process.
The Road to Freedom
After the separation, I took apart my faith. I decided that all I really could know is that God exists. I was certain of that because no other explanation of creation is workable. I discounted the Bible. How could we know that it is really the word of God? Yahweh did not leave me there for long. I am amazed at His mercy and grace to me. I’m still trying to sort out what this means in theological terms, but as I reflected upon my life I knew that supernatural change had taken place. I cannot explain it in terms that will suit the skeptics, myself among them. However, I knew that I had become a “new creation.” (II Corinthians 5:17) If that was true, then it was based on what I learned from the Bible. It is the word of God, and the more I read and study it the more I am convinced. It contains life. No other book or collection of writings can approach its accuracy or its exposition of the truth.
I had to address the issue of forgiveness. I knew what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15. I could not receive forgiveness from God if I was not willing to forgive my former wife. I learned another valuable lesson through that process. I made a decision to forgive that was independent of my emotions. I told the Lord something like, “I do not feel like forgiving her, but I know that I must.” “I choose to do so. Please help make it a reality.” Yahweh did help me, and I can truly say that she is forgiven. It was a process. I had to make that decision over and over again. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to share that forgiveness with her and ask for the same. That is where obedience begins. That is where true love begins. We must decide to be faithful even when we don’t feel like it. It is not hypocrisy when the motive of the heart is true.
I mentioned before that admitting my own sin was the beginning of real healing for me. I tried very hard to believe that I was in the right when I filed for the divorce. When I did it, I felt that getting the divorce was the only way I could go on living with my sanity intact. I was told that I had Biblical grounds, but I never came to that conclusion myself. The turning point came when God brought to mind a teaching in the Bible (I Corinthians 8) that makes it clear that when we act in violation of our conscience we commit sin. Whether the act is right or wrong in concrete terms does not in itself confer guilt or innocence. As always, God looks at the intent of our hearts. When I confessed that sin before God, A great burden was lifted from me. I was able to rejoice in the Lord again and He began addressing other things in my life that needed to change.
In short order I had to confront the unforgiveness I harbored toward my brother. He has testified concerning his own period of flagrant rebellion. I can now see that his was no worse than mine. It was just more obvious in its form. I took it as a betrayal of the family. I shut him out for years. I never said much to him directly. I didn’t have to. By the time I called him, he had already begun to turn his life around. One of my deepest regrets is that I was not a part of that. It took a stranger to accept him where he was. It should have been a member of his own family. We are now reconciled, and that relationship is among the most precious things in my life.
Ascending to the Mountaintop: A Hillcrest Experience
Amidst all this drama, God was setting me up for one of the greatest experiences of my life. Having left school in Fayetteville and moved back home with my parents, I traveled with them to Palestine, Texas, where Dad took a job as a prison chaplain. I stayed there for a few months volunteering time at a local hospital and making plans to attend a technical training program in Dallas that was almost certainly going to result in a good job doing computer programming. I didn’t get that great job, so I eventually went back to college, finally graduating from Texas Tech in 1997. I got a programming job and moved back to Dallas at the end of June of that year.
It was not long after that that I first learned about Hillcrest Church in a most unlikely manner. I went out to run some errands, which meant a lot of walking around in the heat. I stopped at a service station to get something to drink. A man came up to me who had seen me walking down the street and wanted to talk to me. He wanted to ask me if I knew Jesus. I was impressed, so I asked him where he went to church. He told me that he attended the college and career service at Hillcrest Church. My initial thought was that I wanted nothing to do with that. I had just come out of college and had tried in vain to fit in with people who were mostly fresh out of high school. Still, the seed was planted. I believe that God arranged everything so that I would be there, near enough to the church that I could get there without asking for help. My thanks go out to David Stewart. What he set in motion that day would change my life.
For years, I had been going to church, but never really connecting with anyone. I always said I wanted to take part in the ministry, but never did much. I would usually find some reason I didn’t want to go there anymore and move on to another church. I was afraid to let anyone get close enough to see my weaknesses. Though I had some revelation about what real love is, I still measured it by a standard of performance. I didn’t consciously think all of this out, but I was so afraid of being found unlovable that I would not let anyone get close enough to reject me. That is still a struggle for me.
One Saturday in March of 1998, I came to a decision. I told the Lord that I had no reason to live other than to serve Him. I needed to commit to a church, and Hillcrest was as good a place to start looking as any. I went to church that night and the pastor gave an invitation. He called out people who knew they were supposed to be involved in ministry but were not. I felt no divine inspiration that day. I got no emotional high or sense of anything spiritual happening at all, but I am absolutely certain that God drew me to the church that night. I went forward.
At the earliest opportunity I began attending the new member classes in order to get a sense of what the church believes. I decided to stay because of one remark made by former Pastor Morris Sheets as he taught the class. It came as he was dealing with a controversial subject. The subject is unimportant to this story so I will not inject it here. The important thing to me was his comment that some of his staff believed differently. The comment hinted at some potentially major differences in theology. I was amazed. There are some things on which we cannot compromise, but many others have divided the church for centuries. I realized that night that I would be allowed to take part in the ministry of the church even if I happened to differ with my pastor in some detail of theology. Some beliefs are diametrically opposed. Only one can be the truth, but can we not work together to spread the essential Gospel message. At Hillcrest Church, we could and did.
At the same time, I also began attending the Higher Ground service. This was the previously mentioned college and career group, now no longer in existence. What I found there was not at all what I expected. There were a lot of people my age. The worship music was wonderful. Most importantly, I found love. I’ve been in church all of my life, but I never saw anything like this. For the first time in a very long time I was excited about the idea of bringing others to church with me. My own experience convinced me that they would immediately be accepted and enthusiastically invited to become a part of the community. It happened. It happened repeatedly. I was brought to tears when my own brother came there for a while and we worked together in small group ministry. I never could have imagined that, but it turned out to work quite well. Where one of us was weak the other was strong. I wish it could have lasted forever.
I Finally Found It!
Higher ground taught me how the church is supposed to operate. Jesus said:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NKJ)
I want to live by this commandment. We say we want to reach the world. This is how we do it. We may do a lot of other things in the process, but Paul makes it clear in I Corinthians 13 that they all mean nothing without love. This is the same love that sent Jesus to the cross. This kind of love is a choice. Therein is the culmination of everything that God has been trying to teach me all of my life. I finally feel that I might have just a very little understanding of it. I have come to know that all of my personal issues revolve around love. I have a suspicion that this is true for all of us. If we could all understand just how much Yahweh, the Lord of the universe and all that is, loves us maybe we could get beyond our own fears and really love others the way we should. “…Perfect love casts out fear…” (I John 4:18)
It is through us that God shows His love. Here’s an example from my own life. My thirtieth birthday started out unremarkably enough. I took the day off and spent it with my brother. We ended up at his apartment that evening where people just started showing up at the door. The first couple of visitors did not arouse suspicion because they knew my brother and lived close by. Then I started to catch on. It was a cleverly orchestrated surprise party. I’ll never forget it. Tears came to my eyes as I saw that I really did have friends who loved me. Through that experience came a new revelation about the way God uses His people to show His love. I used to pray, “Why can’t I get everything I need directly from You?” The reasons may be many and varied, but the truth is that we were meant to operate as a community. We are blessed when we bless others. For me to deny others the opportunity to show love to me denies them the blessing of doing so. It is in truth a selfish act born of fear and not of love.
But Wait! There’s more!
from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17 NKJV)
The relationships that Yahweh ordains for us are meant in part to teach us about our relationship to Him. Perhaps the most obvious example is marriage. The Bible is full of references to Yahweh’s chosen people as His bride and teaching that uses the marriage relationship as its foundation (Isa. 54:4-8, 62:5; Jer. 3:20, 31:32; Ezek. 16; Hosea; John 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-33 among others.) Is this to be denied me because of the mistakes of my youth? It may be convincingly argued that it is. I won’t go into that here. Most who read this will probably know the teachings. I have essentially one question for those who would condemn us who have experienced divorce to a life of loneliness for our past mistakes. Jesus does speak of a sin that cannot be forgiven. Is divorce that sin? Is there no redemption for us who have failed in this one area of life? Must we serve throughout our lives as living examples of what happens when we turn from God? Are we denied the opportunity to learn the way that Yahweh meant it to be? Yes, sin often has consequences that will follow despite forgiveness. The converted thief still died on a cross next to Jesus. Will God Himself require punishment after forgiveness? Where then is the forgetting? For what purpose did He die? God’s word is not to be taken lightly. The instructions concerning divorce and remarriage are there for a reason, but they must be taken in the context of the entire Bible. I do not flinch from calling my divorce sinful. I have acknowledged it and repented of it. If the Lord required it, I would have gone back, but that was not the right thing to do. Now, I also go forward with the assurance that my sins are truly forgiven. Yes, I can know the love of a marriage the way that Yahweh intended it. I can learn through it more of what it is to love and be loved by Him.
This is definitely not what I expected. I feel that I have failed at all the things in life that have real value. My attempts at doing that to which I have been called seem to fall short. My plans for the future are without real focus. The relationships I value seem to die by my own hand. How can someone love me? How can God love me? I am worse than a heathen. I know the truth and still fail to live what I know.
I know that He does love me. I know it by the testimony of the scriptures. I know it more because He has mercifully shown it to me in ways I can understand, first through the love of my friends, now through the love of my wife. My love for her gave me insight into God’s love for me. Her love for me did the same. She loves me as I am, and so does God. I know that both of them would like to change a few things, but their love is not conditioned upon those changes. It was through the exploration of my own heart brought on by growing love between my wife and me that I discovered the depth of my love for Yahweh.
I married Linda on June 19, 2004, less than a year after we met. The theme of my life continues. This isn’t what I expected. When we first met, I had no serious romantic feelings about her. As I imagine it does for every single person hoping for a mate, the thought crossed my mind, but I dismissed it. I didn’t think she could possibly be interested in me, and I was not at all sure I wanted her to be. For several months, we wrote back and forth in email. She would help me shop and I’d buy dinner. I began to see her heart. I knew I had found a friend, but still did not give the idea of romance any credibility. There came a time when I felt a great tenderness for her and decided to give her the love it seemed she’d been missing, but even then it was not romance. I wanted to love her with the pure and unconditional love of God. That was Christmas Eve of 2003. I probably should have seen it coming. If I didn’t want to go there, I should have stepped back, but I couldn’t have. The feelings started to appear and I decided to test the waters. Still not really expecting romance, but wanting to at least introduce the possibility, I wrote a little story for her. It was a sort of parable, meant to express tenderly but cautiously the feelings I was having. My objective in retrospect was probably a bit ambitious. I just wanted to clear the way to be able to say “I love you” without scaring her off. I really wanted to be able to say that as a Christian brother, not necessarily as anything else. I guess I was a little too romantic for such an objective to be realistic. The door I wanted to just peek through, she flung wide. Oh the wonder of it all! I’d have been happy just to know I hadn’t run her off. She responded by returning my love in greater measure than I had given it. I don’t think either of us touched the ground for the next two weeks. What a surprise! What a gift! I agonized for the next two months over whether it was really for me. I had to answer for myself the questions I posed previously in this writing. I proposed on April 7, and I began to live a life I barely hoped for just a year before. There’s a song that says, “To love and to be loved is what everything is all about.” He loved us and gave Himself for us so that we could be with Him. He wants us to love Him, and he has given us the people in our lives to teach us what love is. I am grateful beyond measure that He has allowed me to taste of that love. I am grateful to my beloved wife, Linda, for being God’s angel to share that love with me.
I have not yet arrived. I still struggle with issues of love and of faith. But I know that Jesus loves me. I know that Yahweh is in control and that His plan for me is good. I am still learning to trust Him. I am still learning how to let others in and to love them back. I am still learning what it means to be a friend. I am learning to be thankful for all of the wonderful things that Yahweh has given me. There is still so much that I do not understand, but I know that I belong to Him. He is my reason for living.
I like to use His name because I want to leave no doubt concerning who I mean. Lots of people talk about God. My Hindu friend talks about praying to God, but it is not the God I know. I want it known that my God is a specific personality who has a name, Yahweh, given by Himself to Moses at the burning bush and used throughout the Old Testament. To appease sensitivities it has been translated LORD, but it is clear from its usage in the scripture that this is not what Yahweh intended. Rather than an act of irreverence, I consider the use of His name, or to be more precise its English rendition, to be a mark of respect. I seek to glorify none other than Yahweh, the one true God. May He bless you richly.
Larry Leon Thacker Jr.
If you do not know Yahweh through the work of Jesus at the cross, I encourage you to give your life to Him. If you would like to know more about how and why, read this.