06 March 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Do You Have a ‘Reading Strategy’? Here’s Mine …

As I look back on the last installment of “What I’m Reading Lately” it is rather amazing. A small miracle, without getting melodramatic. I actually completed all of those books! Usually I get a number of them started and finish a lesser number. Someone once asked me, “Do you read a lot of books?” A reasonable question. Shamefully, I remember answering, “No, I just collect them.” Sadly that was once closer to the truth.

Now it’s a little different story. I am more strategic in my selections. Sometimes I will read a novel while I am reading a bio. (I love bios.) At the same time I will throw in a sports book on running or something. Then I will read professionally on marriage, family, counseling, maybe a little theology, etc. I find that when I am reading something lighter (bio, novel for ex) my heavier reading comes along nicely. I read the lighter stuff a little faster which encourages my weightier reading to do the same.

Note that I do not read something to get it finished. I’ve got enough notches on my reading belt. Rather, a colleague from a long time ago (Joe Wiles) told me his theory: you can actually comprehend more when you read it a little faster. I have found that to be true. That is why I try to read simultaneously.

So here is what I’ve got going as 2013 unfolds:

Just Read …

Killing Lincoln, Bill O’Reilly. Read Killing Kennedy while on a plane to Thailand in December. ‘Kennedy’ was a great narrative and so is this one. A toss up as to which I liked best. Well-written, compelling detail, and soooo informative!

50 Years on the Bench, Jack Clark. Written by one of my best friends in Cleveland, TN. Jack is my piano mentor as well. A great walk through the “golden years” of gospel quartets! Some hilarious and compelling stories of his 1/2 century on the (piano) bench.

Bring Me the Head of John Grisham, Stefano Boscutti. Weird. Unique. As quirky as the title. Best part: it was short.

Currently Reading …

A Full House of Growing Pains, Barbara Cameron. The mom of Kirk and Candace Cameron take you through the ins and outs of Hollywood and staying grounded while two of her four kids hit it big in the limelight. Great story of how Christ came to be the major part of their whole family and each one in it. Great marriage storyline, too, as they recovered and are now once again crazy about each other.

Impact Player, Bobby Richardson. Storied career of his life with a storied team: the New York Yankees of the 1960’s. One of my heroes as a kid. Strong believer in Christ. Never got to meet him. Ironically, I did get to meet one of his teammates once – a fellow by the name of Mickey Mantle. (Alas, I’m namedropping, sorry.)

On Deck …

The Racketeer, John Grisham. (Fortunately for John, the above book by Boscutti was fiction!)

Just How Far from the Apple Tree: A Son in Relation to His Famous Father, John S. Peale. Stories of several sons and their famous dads. I think I am looking forward to reading this …

Encouragement: The Key to Caring, Larry Crabb. I respect this relationship giant. Lots of wisdom you can see through his humble spirit.

Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave, Sibel Hodge. There is a growing ministry emerging out of LifePoint Church, where I serve, in the area of sex trafficking. It is really making some progress and I need to read up on this a little more.

Backstage at the Tonight Show: From Johnny Carson to Jay Leno, Don Sweeney and Ed McMahon.  I am such a sucker for Carson!

My Life and My Work: The Secret of Ford’s Success, Henry Ford and Samuel Crowther.

Again, as always, I thank God for the ability and for the desire to read. What a blessing. May He bless you as you read in 2013.

09 July 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Here is what I’m reading lately …

The kind of reading I do is all over the place. It always has been. Several books at a time in several genres. (Not really. I just like using the word ‘genre’. It is so impressive!) Actually there are quite a variety of subjects below.

Let’s take a look at my lists of Currently Readings, Recently Read and what’s On Deck.

Here we go:

Currently Reading:

Daniel Adams, First Lady Down. I have recently come across the free book offerings that Kindle has. There are a lot of them. My jury and judgement is still out on them but this novel is okay so far. About half-way through it. About an assassination attempt, but was the intended target the President or the First Lady? I’m reading on to find out. Well-written to this point. (Great price!) I was enthralled/almost obsessed with the JKF assassination as a 4th grader in 1963, so I’m a sucker for this kind of story.

Bob Edwards, A Voice in the Box. Bob has been that voice for me for over 20 years. As NPR’s Morning Edition anchor (and now with SiriusXM), he has a smooth, intelligent yet simple style that does anything but call attention to himself. I like that in a radio host. I am half-way through it and his bio just flows with memories of his Louisville background to the present.

Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel. In keeping with spiritual stuff, the staff (and a whole of others around LifePoint these days) is/are reading this excellent piece from Chandler. Talk about food for thought. Perhaps I should say that as you read this work, come prepared to think!

Rob and Amy Rienow, Visionary Marriage. Not one I can read quickly but a powerful book on the basics of husbands, wives, and marriage. I know that may sound cheesy, but they have a unique way of sharing some rather unique insights on God’s Word on this institution. Great read so far.

Jeff Iorg, Is God Calling Me? (Recommended by Eddie Mosley, our GroupLIfe Director at LifePoint Church.) Strong read on the basics of calling. Would recommend it to anyone considering, well, anyone considering following God’s leading in their life. Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (and personal friend of my wife, yes I’m name-dropping again!), has a most humble approach in sharing his perspective on what this calling concept is about.

Avery Willis, etc., Real Life Discipleship. A 12-week in-depth basic training-type of manual designed to get people up to speed on how to do their part of fulfilling the great commission: namely, making disciples. Currently leading a group of men through this study and it’s an awesome experience. They are teaching me much!

Told you it was all over the place.

Recently Read:

Peter Falk, Just One More Thing. A hilarious auto-bio from the man who played Columbo in the TV series. This is an easy read of his acting career, complete with the humor he always had on Columbo, and more. Fun read with some background stuff you never knew about Falk. He was a wild and crazy guy!

Andy Andrews, The Heart Mender. Creative novel that begins in today’s time, with a discovery on a beach taking you back to WWII. It ties together neatly. An incredible story of forgiveness that powerfully touches the reader. Read this one.

Roger Aidman, Summer of ‘63. This one was okay but not an “absolutely half-to” read. Sometimes you get what you pay for in the Kindle free section.

On deck …

Clive Cussler, Frank Langella, James Patterson, Jack Clark

and an intriguing novel by the name of Bring Me the Head of John Grisham! (Oh yeah, that reminds me, I picked up Grisham’s latest the other day, Calico Joe for Selma. As usual she devoured it and wants me to read it, too. So let’s add that one to the list as well.)

Enjoy your reading this summer ,and as you you do so, thank God for the ability to read. And for the access we have of all kinds of books.

Finally, please tell me what you are reading and I will try to find a way to post it here. (Still need some help in certain areas in blogdom. Sully, are you reading this???)

10 May 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Taking Another Look at Marriage

This brief article is at the request of Dustin Dozier, our Student Pastor, for a writing project he is doing.

Rethink Marriage

To consider this assignment (writing something on “rethink marriage”) I first looked at the definition of rethink. I knew the “re” part meant to do again. When I looked up “think” in my Webster’s, I saw a definition that is longer than this post will probably be. But I did find some key words that might help. Words and phrases like these are significant as we apply them to marriage:

–  to reflect on; to ponder;

–  to have as an anticipation, to anticipate

–  imagine

–  envision

Let’s take all of these and do them again. We will call that rethinking.

We live in a day and time when the thinking of marriage has eroded. It has shifted. The world without the Creator of this institution has gradually but significantly moved the pondering, the imagination and the vision of marriage, causing even us as Christ followers to “settle” for a lesser image of marriage.

Let’s take a real pet peeve of mine, for example. Do the advanced research on the amazon site and you will not find “Marriage” as a subject. Imagine that! “Relationships” is about as close as you get, but you’ve gotta dig even deeper within that section to find marriage.

It’s time to re-ponder. It’s time to re-imagine. It’s time to rethink marriage.

Here are some examples of where the do-overs in our minds need to happen:

Current Think – Marriage is a ball and chain. It ties you down.

Rethink – Marriage is a bond that builds security in the team formed by it.

Current Think – Marriage is something to be endured. You bear the marriage relationship. Even as they consider whom you should marry, people think of who they believe they can live with the rest of your life. A survival mentality.

Rethink – Marriage is a gift from the Lord. He knew when He created it that “Two are better than one.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9) We should throw the survival thinking out the window and look at the blessings of sharing life together. Don’t marry the person you think you can live with the rest of your life. Marry the person you can’t live without!

Current Think – Marriage is merely a step toward mediocrity. Everyone is doing it so I guess we will, too.

Rethink – One of my favorite songwriters is Carly Simon. But wow, she really missed it with her offering of “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be”. Beautiful music (I love playing it on the piano) but the lyrics are horrific. The song reflects the very sentiment of “Why not? You’ll not treat me right and we’ll have a so-so, ‘vanilla’ marriage. Nothing special at all, but sure, let’s get married.” Mediocrity is inevitable!

How sad! What a defeatist attitude!

Marriage is challenging, sure. It is work, and often hard work but well worth the labor! Yet the difficulties and challenges keep the spice in the journey. It makes the life together an adventure. Anything but boring or mediocre!

Genesis 2:25 talks of the very first man and woman being “naked and unashamed”. That’s total openness. Total trust. Total security. A total team. That’s how God designed marriage to be, far from the ball and chain thinking. Nowhere near the survival mentality. Nothing close to mediocrity. This extraordinary marriage (sorry, shameless plug – couldn’t resist!) is what Jesus was referring to in John 10:10 when He said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full”.

Do not settle for the world’s thoughts and images of marriage. Reset your thoughts on just what this whole marriage thing is. The Creator of marriage gave us His Word to remind us what His intent for marriage was and is. (See above.) Go there from time to time when you find your own thinking on marriage drifting. Go back to the truth.

So when you look at your mate that you’ve been married to for a while – maybe a long while – rethink marriage. Rethink and thank God for the challenge and the spicy adventure He has given to you.

12 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

China – Then and Now

A friend of mine, Jason Stewart, sometimes refers to himself as a “binge blogger” in that he doesn’t write for a while and then binges on it. If that is my case, I have been on the wagon way too long. So welcome back and I’ll try to be more “socially bingeful” in the days ahead.

First, please allow me a couple of paragraphs to ramble for background to get to today. Please pardon me. It’s been a while since I’ve “binged”!


In my previous life (collegiate missions) at the TN Baptist Convention, I had the privilege of traveling quite a bit. For example, I co-led the first Southern Baptist mission team to Russia in 70 years. A team of TN college students, Bob Hall from UTK and I spent three weeks helping remodel an old dilapidated church building into a beautiful structure in what was then Leningrad. Eighteen months later we returned for its dedication; however, it was then once again called by its original name: Saint Petersburg.

Ircel Harrison, my boss at the TBC, liked to travel as well. Yet he missed two trips because of family crises and he “made” me go in his place. One was to Brazil to speak at a National Youth Conference. The other, in 1995, was a Discovery Trip to Shanghai, China.

As in Leningrad in 1990, China in ‘95 was “thirsting” for western ideas, businesses and fashion. The Cultural Revolution clearly over, you could smell the change all around. With the fall of the Berlin Wall western influence came quickly in Russia. In China it seemed to have started slower but just as certain.

CHINA 2012

To go with my wife to Beijing a few days ago was an enlightening experience to say the least. I’d never been to that city before but there was no question that Beijing, as I’d seen Shanghai progress via television through the years, was embracing western culture. And yet, China is strong about maintaining its own rich culture. Walking on the Great Wall and seeing the Forbidden City, for examples, provided a view of a history that our country cannot touch in comparison. They want their kids to learn our language, true. Yet, preserving their own history and heritage and its amazing depth is understandably important as well.

Our trip was a basically a publishing briefing on China today and in the future. The theme was “The Next Ten Years”. What will China be like then? First some big pic stuff.


It is no secret that China is growing in prominence as a world player, economically, politically, etc. Still under communist rule, but still very open to outside influence. Christianity is part of that growing influence and that is certainly no secret to the Chinese government. While the conference we attended was not exclusively Christian, it had a distinct Christian flavor and application as we considered the following decade. It was also no secret to the government that we were meeting.

My sense is that China holds incredible potential in its future. I was encouraged by the briefing. Lots of development there. Lots of promise business-wise. Plus, it won’t be long before China will literally become the largest Christian nation in the world. (How’s that for irony?) With the allowance of all kinds of western stuff these days, could there be a more critical opportunity for the church?

If you are a follower of Christ, please pray for China. China and its bordering countries comprise half of the world’s population. Reach China and you reach a huge part of this world. Pray that we seize the day and this opportunity for His name.

Next …


The next post will find us exploring the rapidly approaching ramifications of the “Chinese One-Child Policy” implemented decades ago. (This is chilling to me.) Some radical steps were taken in the 1970’s to address the population explosion in China and now those decisions are coming home to roost. Next time …

05 January 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Marriage, College and Baby Boomers

I am a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. They send me a newsletter/trade journal-type thing quarterly. Excellent piece of work for my profession. Toward the back is my favorite section from a guy named Gary D. Foster called The Foster Report. It is a whole page filled with random facts, research and stats from the Christian world. Check him out at GaryDFoster.com. From Gary we find this week’s Quote of the Week. Actually a couples of quotes.

The first on marriage:

The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia had found that just 11% of college-educated Americans divorce within the first 10 years of marriage, compared with almost 37% for the rest of the U.S. population.

Stay in school kids. It’s good for your marriage!

Now for one near and dear to my heart, the baby boomers:

Some 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 today and every day for the next 20 years.

I think I will go check on my 401K, or 403b, or my piggy bank. Yikes!

01 December 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Keeping Christmas ‘the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’!

I have gotten the Turnbulls’ newsletter for several years. For a long time Bob and Yvonne have been teaching, speaking and writing on marriage and family issues. They have an interesting story themselves but their practical wisdom on marriage and family is excellent. Below is an example of their practical nature on how to have a stress-free Christmas. (Couldn’t we all use a good word on that?)

Note their website: turnbullministries.org as they have many resources and info there.

May our Lord bless you and your marriage & family this Christmas season. May it indeed be “the most wonderful time of the year” for you.


Bob and Yvonne Turnbull

Turnbull Ministries

Christmas 2011

Are you like us that one of the many things we like during this holiday time is the music?

We pull out all the old time Christmas favorites and start playing them the day after Thanksgiving. One of the songs we enjoy is Andy Williams’ holiday theme song, “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

But have you noticed along with being wonderful it can also be a very stressful time for many families? There is the pressure of buying gifts, decorating our home, putting up lights, sending cards, cooking and baking, attending parties, having house guests. To be honest with you there have been a few past Christmas times that we couldn’t wait for it to be over.

What a shame when Christmas should be a time of joyous celebration. We read about that in the angel’s statement to the shepherds of Bethlehem, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) God had and continues to have great news for all of us and it is that God loves us so much that he came to earth as a human so we could get to know him and love him. That is something to celebrate.

So to help us enjoy this celebration and to make our families Christmas a stress free zone – here are a few tips for the Christmas Holidays.

Discuss Expectations

When expectations go unspoken, conflict can occur. To overcome this, have a family meeting as soon as possible and develop a plan. Discuss, pray and be in agreement as to where and with whom you are spending Christmas and how many activities you as a family will be involved in. Use a family calendar to organize activities and stay on track. Keep in mind on certain days not to schedule anything. Leave it open for spontaneity or chill time.

Don’t Go Into Debt For Christmas Gifts

Set a budget and stick to it. Nothing is more stressful then when the bills start arriving in January and you are struggling to make the payments for stuff that has already been laid aside or forgotten. In our family we agree upon an amount of money for gifts and then we cut that dollar amount in half. Half goes towards buying each family member a gift and the other half is used for buying gifts for less privileged children in our own community. It helps us keep in mind that Christmas is about giving not just receiving.

Extend Grace To Difficult Family Members

When we come together as family we often idealize family relationships and think they will be “different” this year.” If we are realistic about them we will be more relaxed and can have a better reaction to possible negative situations. Learn to practice what is taught in Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” When your sister criticizes your cooking, simply smile and extend grace and forgiveness. When your uncle goes off about your Christian beliefs, don’t argue. Diffuse him with a smile and say, “Well I can see you feel very strongly about your views” and then change the subject.

Recharge Your Batteries

Make getting enough sleep a priority, or you will not have the energy or mood to enjoy the holidays. Do not overindulge in foods high in sugar and fat. One small bit can satisfy your sweet tooth. Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits as they contain the vitamins and minerals that helps reduce stress. If you want to increase your energy, get up off the couch and get moving. Go for a walk, the gym, park the car a distance from the store entrance, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Pick what you like, but get moving.

Spend Time With Jesus

When you do this in the midst of your busy schedule He will help you keep your priorities in line and others will sense His presence in you and be drawn to Him. What a great gift to give others this Christmas season.

We both wish you a joyous and blessed Christmas!

And to be sure that you have Peace With God we would like to encourage you to visit www.billygraham.org and then click on Spiritual Help followed by clicking on Steps To Peace With God. You may want to share this link with family and friends.

PO Box 5580

La Quinta, CA 92248

Phone: 760.238.4588

E-Mail: btmin@aol.com

21 November 2011 ~ 0 Comments

My Dad: Long Gone but Still Touching Me

My Dad has been in heaven now about 3 1/2 years, and yet he continues to “speak to me” from time to time. No, it’s not an audible voice. Probably better stated as “he continues to impress and influence me”. He touches me. Here is a recent example. A cool one.

He would have turned 84 Sunday, Nov 20, so my mind has been on him a lot lately. We were close. We ran a marathon together when he was almost 60. We literally ran 100’s of miles together over 25 years. Talked about everything from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, theology, married life – we pretty much covered it all.

Anyway, I have this new workshop/barn and was trying to anchor a vice to my work bench last Saturday. Got the holes easily drilled on the Formica-like top, but when I started to screw the bolts in I discovered I could not get to them w/ my ratchet wrench.

FLASHBACK: When dad died in 2008, we had the typical task of going through all his stuff. He and mom had lived in their home 40 years. FORTY YEARS! Everything had to go because Mom had decided to move to an assisted living facility about a mile from her east TN home. (She made an amazing, God-led, miraculous transition, btw!) On the final day of sorting out who gets what and what gets thrown out, I decided to keep my dad’s old – very old – tool box which had some very old, partly-rusted tools. It was mainly out of respect for the many years he had crafted furniture and other wood-working items. (He was very talented in his shop, the most “precise” man I have ever known.) So thinking I would never need them but just wanted another something to remember him by, I took the tools.

Back to the present in my shop: I looked around and wondered how I was going to get the bolts down to secure the vice. I couldn’t find anything from my tools that would fit. So I went to my garage there I saw it – my dad’s faded-red metal dented tool box. I opened it and saw several well-worn open ended wrenches in there, grabbed a bunch of them and headed off to the barn where my shop is. The FIRST one I tried did the trick. Part of me said “Thanks, Dad”.

This trans-generational connection was a cool experience that my dad’s tools from yesterday were actually helping me today. For a moment I felt my Dad’s wanting to help me, his love from yesteryear once again.

Did my father “speak” to me from his grave? No. I prefer to view it as my Heavenly Father responding to His Son’s prayer many years ago. Jesus said that He would pray and ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us. Only He referred to Him as the “Comforter”. See John 14:16.

Though I wouldn’t for a moment wish he was back on this earth, I still miss my Dad. Will always I guess. In times when the miss is stronger, like around his birthday, the Father once again answers His Son’s prayer and sends me the Comforter in a most unique way.

03 November 2011 ~ 1 Comment

Humor, Natalie, and a Really Good Thought

Just a great thought for today. Sometimes it helps to see life through a kid’s eyes. It might not be as bad as you think.

On my way home one day, I stopped to
watch a Little League baseball game that was being played in a
park near my home. As I sat down behind the bench on the first-
base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was
‘We’re behind 14 to nothing,’ he answered
With a smile.

‘Really,’ I said. ‘I have to say you
don’t look very discouraged.’

‘Discouraged?’, the boy asked with a
Puzzled look on his face…

‘Why should we be discouraged? We haven’t
Been up to bat yet.’

This optimistic view reminds me of when my daughter Natalie had her first little league softball game. It was a double-header and I missed the first game due to work. When I came up as the second game was beginning, Natalie saw me at the end of the dugout. She ran up to me and yelled, “Dad, this is great. I’ve struck out five times. I LOVE softball!”

Attitude is critical. My wife always says it is the paintbrush of the mind. Ask God for the one you need today.

07 October 2011 ~ 1 Comment

The Next Blow to Traditional Marriage?

I just read an article online that talks of the latest proposal in the Mexican legislature. Ready for this? You’re sitting down, aren’t you? It is called Temporary Marriage License. Here’s the brief article and then you can read my comments below.


If this idea is indeed gaining momentum in their legislative process, I can really see why. Divorce hurts so much. It costs so much. It takes so much time in the courts to “undo” a marriage. It’s the reason God said in Malachi “I hate divorce” (2:16 NASB). Because of all the junk associated with the tearing up of a marriage.

But for a society to allow its members to begin its concept of marriage with an easy off ramp, a built-in escape clause from the git-go, is … well let’s just say its a sad day for any society to plan for failure and make the ending of a marriage quite possible for sheer convenience.

If you have read me enough or heard Selma and me speak you know that we do not believe that someone divorced is a second-class citizen. Not at all. However, to develop an expiration date for what is supposed to be a lifetime commitment smacks in the face of how Christ described marriage:

Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate. Mark 10:9 (HSCB)

I didn’t see in that verse what Christ gives an expiration date.

Come on people. Yes some marriages fail and that is sad. But please, let’s not get to the point where we plan for failure even as we begin our marriage. It’s sad and it does not – it should not compute.

29 September 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Sometimes Life is Simple

Sometimes life just comes down to the simplest concepts. Here’s one by a renowned songwriter of the 20th century.

I am just a little girl who’s looking for a little boy who’s looking for a girl to love.

— from a musical written by Ira Gershwin, 1925