I believe I first met my friend Tommy Ogle when Rez Band was playing in his area -New Orleans, during Mardi Gras.
I frankly cannot remember when I last cried so much over a friend leaving this world.
In that Tommy was a friend to so many I suspect I’m not alone in this.
God has enriched my life with a huge extended family via years of travel, recording and interaction. Due to these I’ve met a lot of kind, talented, funny and truly godly people.
Tommy was in the rare percentage of that group because he bore what apostle Paul called the “fruit of the Spirit” (love, joy, patience, kindness to name a few) in a near-constant state.
The man had his moments as all of us do, but I rarely heard him speak ill of anyone or show up to work late or not be the first to pitch in to help those around him. He did so with grace and kindness.
As he and his sweet wife Rebecca had come yearly to our Cornerstone Festival driving up from their home in Paris, Tennesee so we got to know one another well.
He volunteered and worked long hours on the electrician’s crew each festival coming up several days in advance to do it.
Tommy was an accomplished musician, had served as an elder in his church as well as worship leader also writing brilliant songs and performing or leading them via guitar and on his own hand made banjos! He also played a great upright bass.
When I began a leadership forum at the fest Tommy attended and I lost count of the times we were blessed by the depth and wisdom of his humble, sage comments as deeper issues were discussed.
As that group met often online and in many face-to-face gatherings, these leaders (like myself, all characters but wirh shared heart for God, truth and fellowship) like myself found Tommy was a pleasure to interact with.
His wry Southern style along with the fact he was an accomplished carpenter and painter made him a blessing to many.
At Cstone, the fact he was also a deep fried turkey expert meant year after year he made anyone who hung out at his campsite a special treat.
He and Rebecca always made us feel welcome, truly like family.
Tommy loved to hunt, often using the old Civill War black powder muzzleloaders, was an excellent shot (often contest winner or close to it) with bow and arrow and created many knives and sheaths from raw stock.
He brought his music and witness of Jesus to Civil War re-enactments.
As time passed he battled a number of health issues, the last of these being cancer.
Tommy had two memorial services. Myself and other of his friends were at the first along with Tommy playing many of his songs and sharing stories of how our lives had all been enriched by this kind, gracious man.
He had decided that cancer might take him fairly soon so why not be present at his own memorial service in order to hear it because he wouldn’t be there after he’d died?!
This was very Tommy. And not a bad idea either! That evening the church in Paris was packed.
Stories, laughter, tears and amazingly gifted musical friends such as Dan Knowles and many family members honored this gift of God called Tommy Ogle.
They did it all again recently when he had passed.
Suffering is plain hard. Yet Paul’s words ring in my head now- “To live is Christ and toi die is gain”.
For those who did not know Tommy or do not know the risen Jesus it may make no sense at all, but to so many of us there is no more important truth than the Good News of Christ.
I cry as I write these words- I was able to chat and pray with my brother Tommy several times prior to his graduation… lastly about three hours prior to his homegoing.
We always said: not “Goodbye” but “See you later”.
A few years ago I was blessed when he asked me to do a bit on his wonderful “Sparrow” cd. My personal favorite song and one I have led worship with many times is “Live in Me”.
I want Tommy to have the last word here. For my friend, mentor, brother in Christ whom I love and deeply miss:
Well done. You have finished the race. See you later.
LIVE IN ME
If You would live in me Oh Lord
My heart a dwelling place for You
A temple for Your holy flame
So I can come before Your throne
And in You I am justified
To be a living sacrifice
Make me Lord, more like You
Teach me Lord, I pray
Give me Lord, a heart for You
Come live in me, today
Tommy’s “Sparrow” cd:
Tommy’s MySpace site:
Tommy’s Shoutlife site: