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This week was a heavy one. Observing Tax Day and the end of the season for the Thunder were two heavy experiences for me personally. We also pay tribute this weekend to the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Building here in Oklahoma City.

Of course, I should point out that today is of personal significance. On April 17, 2006, Karen and I observed our first date. I asked her to go with me to mail my taxes. She now jokingly says she was worth .29 cents, the price of a stamp. A month and a year later, we were married. Sometimes, guys, it’s not in the extravagant but in the creative that can win her over.

And on that piece of advice, here are my thoughts on six timely topics.

  1. No more Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder ended the 2014-15 season this week with a commanding win over Minnesota. I mentioned last week that I hoped for OKC to play strong in the four remaining games, and the Thunder gave valiant effort, despite losing one at Indiana.

I confess, it still hurts, even though I realize OKC probably would have gotten swept by Golden State in the first round. It hurts because this season had great potential for the Thunder, but the abundance of injuries took the wind out of their sails and caused an unbelievable setback.

I have great hope for next season. The roster is stronger, I believe, than it has ever been for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook is now playing at a higher level; Kevin Durant should recover from his foot ailment, and all the new players who came on board this season will have a full training camp experience this fall.

Don’t believe the garbage about the Thunder getting rid of Coach Brooks. Don’t fall for the trap in idle talk of Durant leaving the team after next year.  I wrote about this wasted discussion last year, and my conclusion remains the same: enjoy KD while he is here, and let the future take care of itself.

So that’s that, Thunder fans. Grit through this year’s NBA Playoffs, and be encouraged knowing there’s great aspirations for next season.

  1. Grace revealed in Aaron Hernandez’s trial

Former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of first degree murder this week. This comes as no surprise to anybody who is familiar with this nationally-prominent case.

But one unexpected response came from Ursula Ward, the mother of the victim. This gracious woman had her moment in court, sharing memories of her son Odin Lloyd. Then she made a statement that even the most faithful Christian would be surprised to hear in that setting:

“I forgive the hands of the people who had a hand in my son’s murder, even before or after,” she said.

I know the national media won’t highlight these powerful words to the level in which they should be analyzed. But for a mother to express forgiveness to the one who murdered her son goes beyond natural tendencies.

“Here, in her hour of built-up tumult and longstanding grief, she forgave … forgave a big, rich pro athlete who didn’t have the decency to express a hint of acknowledgement at her words, at her pain, at her absolution,” reported Dan Wetsel of Yahoo Sports.

  1. Gospel revealed in Aaron Hernandez’s trial

Ursula Ward expressing forgiveness and Wetsel’s description of her testimony gives this week’s example of the Gospel in action. As I’ve previously shared, I am spending a few weeks emphasizing the Gospel, and, as always, I welcome your feedback. If you experienced a demonstration of the Gospel, please let me know. There’s no greater message that needs to be shared than the life-changing message of the Gospel.

In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us” Rom. 5:7-8 (Phillips)

“While we were sinners” is an amazing description to pull out of this passage. Wetsel said Ward forgave Hernandez, though the football player did not acknowledge how great this favor was being shown to him. Yet, it is only a glimpse of the act God displayed for humanity and His willingness to offer salvation to those who will believe.

  1. Remembering April 19, 1995

I was living in Virginia when the bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah Building occurred. Knowing I grew up in OKC, many friends called me that morning, asking if I had any family members affected.

No family members were harmed, but I knew a married couple who were members of my church who died in the bombing. They actually went that day to apply for Social Security, as the husband was retiring.

If I remember correctly, everyone from a 30-mile radius felt the bombing occur. Mom told me she felt it from her office at church, and she thought it was down the street at the construction of Kilpatrick Turnpike (approximately 20 miles from the bombing). Dad was at home (approximately 15 miles from the bombing), and he thought the water heater inside our house blew up.

Many can recall what they were doing that day and how that dreadful tragedy shook the city and impacted the nation. Other tragedies would follow, but the result of this horrible experience caused the world to witness how Oklahoma would respond.

God equipped many to help rebuild and recover, and many went on to help others who experienced future disasters, including New York after 9/11.

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (II Cor. 1:4).

  1. Christian George on “Spurgeon Almost Quit”

I had the privilege of meeting Christian George last year. He is an amazing young man who I believe may be the most proficient historian on the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon. He is now at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, but last year at the “Rewired” Men’s Retreat at Falls Creek, he led a breakout session about the man known as the “Prince of Preachers.”

Earlier this week, he wrote an article “Spurgeon Almost Quit,” and I remember him telling this story during last year’s breakout session. If you have a chance to read any of George’s articles or hear him speak in person, you should be as impressed as I am with his knowledge and presentation.

  1. My mom and Mama Durant

The new video promoting the Mother’s Day Offering for Baptist Village Communities and Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children features Kevin Durant’s mother Wanda Pratt. You should watch this and be impressed with the testimony Ms. Wanda shares.

Pay close attention around the 3-min mark of the video, as you will see my mother who spent three months at the Rehab Neighborhoods at BV OKC. Mom is having a good time, wearing her Thunder shirt and laughing with Ms. Wanda.


Have a great weekend!