08 August 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Thoughts on a Braves Baseball Book

Hey There,

Back from a brief hiatus (if that’s a word).

Wanted to share with you a new book I’m beginning. It’s called Built to Win, by John Schuerholz. John is the General Manager for the Atlanta Braves since around 1991. That’s the first year they won their division in almost 20 years – and they won it every year until last year. A record that is unheard of – in any sport. So John "might" have some knowledge about baseball.

And it is also a book on leadership – and decision-making. It’s gotta be. He’s the most successful GM the sport world has ever known.

The only other baseball team that has been anywhere near as consistently successful as the Braves has been the New York Yankees. The big differences is that the Yankees would go out and pay whatever for whoever had the best season the year before. Not so with the Braves. On a relative shoestring budget, they had to work hard to keep within financial restraints to move old players out while aquiring new ones. They did this so well they were on top for 15 seasons.

Anyway, I’ll let you know if it’s good.

Still working on Walking Across the Room. It’s good but I’m taking my time through it. ANYONE ELSE READ IT? Please let men know what you thought.

27 July 2007 ~ 1 Comment

Something New in Marriage Enrichment Is Coming !

We are working on a special experience for couples in or around our church community for the fall. If you attend FBC Smyrna you will hear a lot about it in the coming weeks.

It’s called Real Marriage and will happen on either September 15 or 16 at the church. Why do I say "either"? Because it will be the same program each night. Some will want to attend Saturday while some (perhaps with their small groups!) may choose Sunday evening.

Why two nights? We are planning on sitting at round tables in the multi-purpose room and frankly think we might have more that we can hold on one night. Thus, the 2-night strategy. Same thing each night. You choose but you will need to purchase a ticket for a nominal cost. That’s how we’ll know when one night is full.

We are intentionally differentiating Real Marriage from with Romance and Roses (the February event we have each year). We’ll eat some dessert, laugh a lot, have some fun and play some interactive games. Yet it will also be more of a time of teaching on how to grow your marriage in one of six essential ways.

I’ll share more later, but just know you’re going to see some new faces, new music and an entirely different approach to "marriage encouragement". It’ll be fun. I am getting excited about it as we plan for it.

We don’t have everything completed on this project by a long shot. So please pray that

1) it will be what God wants; and,

2) that He will lead us in our planning and doing. 

Just wanted you to know what’s ahead.

23 July 2007 ~ 3 Comments

The Last of the Left Behind Books

I mentioned to Selma recently that finishing a book can be a depressing experience. She says the best thing she does is begin another book. (That’s probably why you see several books listed in the column to the left- and why many have been there for a while – it takes longer to complete them when you read many at the same time!)

Anyway, I’m down to the last of the 12 Left Behind books. Everyone else probably read them ten years ago. Not me. I’ve had the last one for a year now and completed number 11 last July. So why didn’t I just dig into the last one immediately? Let’s study that for a moment.

I remember the late actress Ingrid Bergman filming her final picture. After her death, the director was commenting on the very last scene. Ingrid had messed up her line and the crew set up for the next take. No big deal. Then, Ingrid blew the line again. She apologized and the crew went about getting ready for still another take. As they were setting up again, Ingrid said out loud, to no one in particular, "I know the line, but when I deliver it the movie will be over." Perhaps she knew it would be her last.

I know what to do with Glorious Appearing, but when I read it, the series will be over. (Does anyone know of a good counselor who can help me this problem? :-)

Ah, but isn’t there coming a day when the real GLORIOUS APPEARING will happen? That won’t be over by simply finishing a manuscript. It will indeed be "the end of days" as the book’s subtitle suggests, but it will initiate a whole new world neither you nor I can even imagine. (Do I hear Bart and MercyMe singing somewhere in the background?)

It might be a little sad for me to end the story of Rayford, Buck, Chloe, Mac, Abdullah, and the infamous Nicolae. However, there will be nothing sad about the real Glorious Appearing. Our Lord is coming back. May we be encouraged by that truth. And my we live like we really believe it.

As it says in the next-to-last verse in the Bible (Rev 22:20) "Even so, come Lord Jesus."

21 July 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New Marriage Blog Site

It’s just getting started but I wanted you to know that, as of this week,  I am doing a blog for LifeWay as well. For now, it is called LifeWay Marriage Blog (we will find a better name for it!).

The LifeWay blog will be more bullets and quick points about marriage and how to make it better. Probably briefer than this one as I have a tendency to ramble on this one. (So you’ve noticed, huh?)

Please check it out and let me know (on comments "over there") what you think. Also, any suggestions are welcome for sure.

Hope you are well. We are out of town next week. Planning to catch up on some of that reading to the left (and more) but you’ll hear about that some next week. You’ll be impressed (or should be if you knew how little I knew about this stuff!) that I have another post already written and set to publish next week. So please check in. Later…

18 July 2007 ~ 5 Comments

Wedding Anniversary … 31-derful Years!

Hey, how cool is that? Thirty-one years on July 17! I am so proud … of my wife, and so thankful to God that He let me marry so farrrrrrr over my head. I truly don’t deserve someone like her but boy am I grateful.

We have a big trip planned this fall but we celebrated last night very simply. We went out to eat at the Chop House in M’boro. Back home we rode bikes in our neighborhood through a pleasant summer breeze. (We got the bikes for each other on our 30th anniversary.)

It was a simple but typical way of celebrating. Typical in that we got engrosed with each other throughout the evening. We went back 31 years and shared some funny and poignant thoughts about our wedding day. Here are some of what we remembered:

* Having the audacity to hold the reception outside beside our little country church. (Yes it did rain that morning but nothing but good ole July heat by wedding time.)

* Having "HELP" put on the bottoms of my shoes, unbeknownst to me, by my brother (the best man!)

* Spending time our grandparents, who are all with the Lord now

* Going to Disney World, the dog races, taking a plane ride for the first time – all on our honeymoon at a place called New Smyrna Beach!

* Laughing together at our wedding pictures. Can you believe, after only 31 years those tuxes are out of style? I told Selma that with each passing year that we look at those photos, she is still the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen while I seem to look goofier and goofier in that baby blue tux. Again, over my head!

* Selma’s late uncle that married us. He was the pastor of the church where I was serving as Youth Minister while getting through UTC. His name was Doyle Suits. So I tell everyone that it went from Brother Suits to Uncle Doyle, all in a day!

* How beautiful Juanita looked that day. Selma’s mom, with the Lord since 1993, was so pretty on our wedding day. I am so glad she was part of that special day.

It was another wonderful night of celebrating our marriage. Somewhere along the way we began this memory-sharing tradition that has served us well. I always feel like we have sealed our bond a little tighter when we remember.

Do you have memories like those above? Of course you do. Share them. It’s biblical. God frequently reminded His children to remember. It builds confidence in the relationship to go back and share what you guys have done right along the way. So share with each other the good times you’ve experienced. It’s part of "partying hard" – and meaningfully -  on your anniversary.

03 July 2007 ~ 4 Comments

Family Reunion of Global Proportions!

I regret not having been active in my posts recently. I’ve got all kinds of excuses but I’ll just plead guilty and ask for your mercy.

It has indeed been busy lately for our family. We have been "majorly separated" for a while. Here is some of where we’ve been.

David, Jennifer and I have been at our church’s student camp, known as "Camp Whatever", for the last week. Incredible experiences. We have incredible student ministers, incredible volunteer workers and staff, and most of all – an absolutely incredible God who blessed us with His presence. Thank-you, Chris, David, and Mel for giving yourselves to this special ministry at this special time in your lives. They let me go along as the unofficial "Camp Counselor" and lead a seminar on "Dealing With Your Old School Parents". It was a stretch identifying with the mind of an old school parent but somehow I got by :-)

Jen also led a seminar on "The Old School Book"  (making the Bible valuable and meaningful to teens today). Tough topic for today’s student but she did great. Sunday morning after camp a student came up to me and said, "Your seminar was good and so was Pat’s – but Jen’s was amazing!" That made me beam! As a parent, she must increase and I must decrease!

Then Selma attended a seminar of her own last week. She was getting Organizational Development training from the finest minds in the world on this subject through Columbia University in New York. Her training this time came from professors from Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Southern Cal, Wharton School of Management and more. My head gets dizzy just listing those guys. Talk about an opportunity for learning – (and for being salt and light)! This was her second of three trips just north of the Big Apple this year for this kind of training. I am so proud of her.

Not to be outdone is Natalie. She got back last Saturday from six weeks in Malaga, Spain, where she had been studying Spanish at a University there. She went with a girlfriend of hers from UTK. They stayed with a Spanish family who knew only a few words of English. Her professors didn’t know much more. Talk about a cultural experience! Malaga is on the south coast, so they went to the beaches a lot, they toured castles and mountains and canyons in the area, and even caught a bullfight. It is good to have her home though I am so glad she got the experience to aid in her Spanish minor at school.

We do a lot these days as a family. And a lot of it is in different directions. That’s what makes our time together so precious. I appreciate our family times more now than ever. And I hope you do yours as well.

Let me challenge you to value the family time you have. If the kids are young, treasure those times. They won’t always be asking you to spend time with them. Appreciate even the routine things you do with those youngsters. Trust me, the routine will change when they don’t need you as much.

If they are older, don’t look back and beat yourself up. Just make the  most of the time you have with them now and in the days ahead.

I really don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t know eternity was ahead.  I guess I’d try to be a control freak like some people you probably know who try to hang onto the past. This life is going by quicker and quicker. Thanks be to God that there is an eternity for His children. That reunion – just a short time from now – will not be just a global reunion, but a cosmic one that will eclipse any family get-together you or I can imagine.

Won’t that be cool? Hope you know the Lord so you’ll be in that reunion – the one that will last forever.

18 June 2007 ~ 2 Comments

My Father’s Day Weekend: A Labor of Love

An incredible Dad’s Day weekend. It began with Selma’s dad (Roy) and his wife, Carol,  coming to visit with us on Thursday, which was Selma’s birthday. (39 – again!) On Friday, Roy and I played golf with David, our son (in-law) and his dad. Lots of fun. Lots of strokes, too! Lots of tiredness afterwards.

It’s a funny thing playing golf with Roy. He’s remarkable. He’s 81. EIGHTY-ONE! So how do you "win" when you play an 81 year old? If I lose, someone can ask me "How can you lose to an 81 year old?" If I win, do I brag about beating someone who is 81? YES, I BRAG! Beat him by 2 strokes!!!

(I brag because I don’t beat him all that often!)

Then came Saturday. I married "The Farmer’s Daughter" which means Roy knows how to work. So when he comes over I know we’re going to do some project that will benefit my home but leave me exhausted.

We decided upon the house siding. We have a plastic house. Actually it’s vinyl and needs cleaning from time to time. We went next door to borrow a pressure washer. I didn’t know how to operate it but of course Roy did. In no time we had the sprayer going up against the house. Then Roy opened up the ultimate can of worms: he started spraying the deck. Just a few spots at first. That made it show how dirty it was. So we incorporated the deck into our spraying project.

Four quick hours later we had the deck done. (Oh my back!) We ate a sandwich and tried to restart the washer and it refused. Roy had worn out the pressure washer as well as me.

It was a good tired though. As we took turns spraying the deck and the siding I absorbed what was happening. The work he does around our home is clearly Roy’s way of telling us that he loves us. I cherished the time with him.

This was the same deck he and my dad built with me some 19 years ago when we first moved to middle TN. That also was built out of love, all in one Labor Day weekend. Now he was helping to spruce it up. That’s love from a father on a Father’s Day weekend.

I enjoyed the golf with him. But I treasured the quality time a godly man and his son-in-law for 31 years shared together this past weekend. Thank-you, God, for the blessing of a father-in-law that continues to teach me the value of physical work.

I gotta go. That wonderful work Roy did for us? Now I’ve got to go to Home Depot and get some sealer for that deck. This "wonderful work" is not over yet! The lesson continues…

09 June 2007 ~ 1 Comment

San Antonio Bound

Selma and I are in San Antonio for the Southern Baptist Convention through Wednesday. It’s a romantic city so it’s nice to share it with my wife. For a few days, we’re actually "Getting a Room"!

We tried for years to get together there and it just wouldn’t work out. Years ago, I was on business there and Selma was supposed to join me. At the last minute, one of the girls got sick and everything was off.

Then she was there on business and something came up with my work in TN and couldn’t meet her there.

Then, we were BOTH set to speak in SA. It was the weekend after 9/11 and EVERYTHING was cancelled.

Finally, we got there together when we spoke at a marriage event. In all, it took about 10 years for us to be in one of the most romantic cities there is. We’ve both been there several times, but only once as a couple besides this time.

Sunday night, Game 2 of the NBA Finals is right there in San Antonio. We might pick up a couple of tickets and take it in! We’ve never seen an NBA Finals game. Or ANY NBA game for the matter.

(By the way, does anybody out there have $3000-4000 lying around you could give us so we could pick up a couple of tickets for Game 2?)

Talk to you after the convention.

05 June 2007 ~ 1 Comment

Media Review

If you have looked at my "About" page below my pic, you will notice that my tastes in entertainment (music, movies, etc.) is everywhere.  That is something that I love about me – the diversity. Playing the piano is the same. I can play something from Billy Joel and then Le0n Russell’s This Song for You followed by something Ron taught us in worship earlier on that same Sunday morning. It keeps life from getting stale and I’m grateful for my eclectic tastes.

It is the same with my reading. The only time I might have a method to my reading is when Pat or someone on staff gives us a book to read or I’m researching for a book Selma and I are working on. I do try to consistently stay in the marriage enrichment arena along the way.

Other than that, there’s often no rhyme or reason. It’s just what I’m reading at the moment. With that in mind, I’d like to give a brief (I’ll try!) look at what I’ve just read or am reading now. (And excuse a personal story here and there, too!)

Bill Hybels, Just Walk Across the Room. Recommended to me a long time ago by my former boss, Ircel Harrison, of Murfreesboro. An encouraging work as Hybels talks about how we don’t have to do it all to bring someone to Christ – just our part. We "walk across the room" to begin a conversation with someone. In the course of that talk – or subsequent talks – we discover where they are in their search for Christ. And we contribute as we are gifted and depending on where the person is on their journey. You trust the Lord and do your part. Maybe it is only encouragement. Or perhaps it is to lead them to accepting Christ because someone else has done all the preliminary work and this guy is ready.

That happened the day we moved into our home in 1988. This college kid was sweeping out our new garage before we put 2 million items in it for the first time. Our conversation was brief but amazing. One thing led to another and there the kid was – praying with me to accept Christ as we moved in!

The point is that we never know where someone is on their journey. And literally or symbolically walking across the room will help us find out where they are and where we need to contribute.

(Well, Hybels can just give me a royalty because I’ve rewritten his book for him!)

Chuck Norris, Against All Odds. Good bio. He came from nothing but had a strong faith due to a committed-to-Christ mom. It’s not an all-sweet and wonderful life he has lived but it is honest and fascinating. The kung fu/judo/karate stories were even interesting to me and I wouldn’t know where to start with that stuff. I like bios a lot and this one did not disappoint.

Pat Sumurall, Pat Sumurall: On and Off the Field. I had heard Pat Sumurall tell his chilling story of intervention for his alcoholism addiction on a  radio program years ago. This legendary broadcaster shares it in more detail in the book. He tells of his life as a player in the NFL when it was really just getting started. Then, his broadcasting days with John Madden and others is super. Pat was one of those Jim Nance kind of guys who could easily do the NFL, then the US Tennis Open and by the way, competently cover the Masters golf tournament in the spring. His alcoholism, however, leads to all kinds of problems with him and his family. His faith in the Lord was his complete "salvation" – on so many levels. Good read for sure.

Don Knotts, Barney Fife and Other Characters I Have Known. Another interesting read to discover the background of a legend. This was not a spiritual work by any means. But there are many, many stories of how he grew up in West Virginia and how he got to be Barney Fife among other roles. Did you know he was on a soap opera (I think it was Search for Tomorrow) for about 4 years pre-Andy Griffith Show?

That’ll do for now. We’ll come back to media another day. You’ve seen these books in the margin and I just wanted to elaborate on a few of them. I came by reading late in life but I sure do love it now. I might share that with you sometime as well…

30 May 2007 ~ 0 Comments

A Tribute to the Old Guard

I’ve always been a person who roots for the obscure one. Perhaps he’s the underdog. Often he or she is behind the scenes and not usually out front. There are times when the older folks are cast in that role. Unless someone intentionally points them out they will go unrecognized for something great they said or did.

My parents have an incredible marriage. At their modest wedding, in 1944, she had just turned 21 and he – well he had only just turned 17. It was scandalous! I don’t know if it’s going to work out or not. They have only been married 62 years! Yet they model for Selma and me to this day what a healthy relationship should look like. So faithful to each other.  So caring. So committed, therefore, so in love. Thanks Mom and Dad for your marriage example. There is value in an old marriage.

Then, there is my 81 year-old "other Dad". Technically, he’s my father-in-law, but he’s really a second dad to me. He just beat me last week – again – on the golf course. I’ve beaten him a few times but how do I win at that? ("I just beat an 81-year-man in golf!") You would think that would say a lot about my golf game, but he really is a good golfer. He shot an 88. Roy has such wisdom. And such high hopes and respect for the youth of today to do things their way – including how they worship. Maybe that’s why there are men so much younger than him who often seek him out for his wisdom and counsel. There  is value in an older man serving as a guide and inspiration to the younger.

Then there were the infamous scribes and Pharisees. I was in John for my quiet time recently and found some obscure, almost hidden characters in a familiar story. They were the older Pharisees.

It is chapter 8 and the woman who was having, shall we say, a most unfortunate day. She was caught right in the middle of adultery. Pure, unadulterated adultery. Talk about your embarrassing moments. (Never mind where the man went and how he got away with it.) The spotlight was only on her. Jesus does his writing in the sand after He tells the accusers that he who is without sin should cast the first stone.

Verse 9 essentially says that it began to occur to the Pharisees that there would be no stoning that day. They knew that Jesus had them. Inwardly perhaps they admitted to themselves that this was not the God’s Plan A for handling this situation. Jesus had sme other plans and the stoning was not going to happen today.

So they left. But notice who led the way of the exit. It was the older men who first left. One translation says those who heard what Jesus said were convicted by their conscience and they went out one by one, beginning with the oldest (italics mine) even to the last (some of that was NKJV).

Cooler heads prevailed, or shall we say that the oldeer consciences did. Now I don’t think Jesus would have let anything happen to that woman that he didn’t want to happen, but the scripture says it was the older guys who led the way of leaving. And notice that everyone of the younger guys did the same! There was respect. There was leadership. There was influence.

I have a hard time saying these older guys who were trying to show my Savior up are heroes or anything. And of course the greatest influence at that moment was Jesus. But even if you were an older Pharisee at that scene, the younger followed you. There was value in being older – even then.

So when your next birthday rolls around, don’t ache too much. Enjoy it and know that there is value in getting older, whether it’s going from 25 to 26. From 39 to 40. Or 81 to 82. Let God use you and your value at whatever age you are at.

Just don’t become an older Pharisee. Something about that is still not right … !