Lunch and Conversation at Heard’s BBQ & Soul Food in Maplesville, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Kenny Lenoir

Today we want to encourage you to learn a new art form.  I call it “the art of leaning forward.”  It is the posture of one who is always anticipating; ever watching for Jesus to show up somewhere throughout their day, ever listening for God to speak through whomever and whatever and wherever He chooses.Today’s podcast guest Kenny Lenoir is a master craftsman of this medium.  So when I was looking for someone to reflect with me on the best God-sightings of 2019, my friend Kenny was the logical choice.  He and I sat down to an outdoor table for some of Roman Heard’s incredible fried catfish (I kid you not, the best I have ever tasted in Alabama).  Set a spell, lean in to the conversation, and walk away with at least 20 subtle God-whispers to nudge you in a good direction for your own pursuit in the coming year. 


(Featuring Brief Musical Excerpts from “Christmas At Shades”and “Behold the Lamb of God”)

The first Christmas came in its own way and on its own terms.  Mary and Joseph anticipated the birth of their son Jesus, but they never could have guessed the way it actually went down.  Unexpected road trip.  Animals intruding Mary’s birthing suite.  Shepherds gawking at the door.  A mess of a wonder and a wonder of a mess.Christmas comes on it’s own terms.  And that how I choose to celebrate it.  I just let it come.  I just watch it unfold.  I anticipate it, but I deliberately choose to not become frantic about it.  And that is so liberating.  So instead of coming to a table this week, I invite you to accompany me on my Advent season.  Along the way we’ll stop and take in a song or two from two of the most incredible worships I have ever attended – “God With Us.  God For Us.” from “Christmas At Shades” and Andrew Peterson’s incredible “Behold the Lamb of God.”  Come share this journey and let us wonder as we wander.


Lunch and Conversation at Lloyds Restaurantin Birmingham, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Santa Claus (aka Stephen Whitley)

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.  Kris Kringle.  Santa Claus. These are a few of the aliases of one Stephen Whitley.  It’s not every day you get to go to lunch with a man who makes lists and checks them twice.  So even though I have known Stephen since high school, I tried to be on my best behavior.

For 21 years, Stephen has been one of Santa’s helpers. If you ever sat on Santa’s knee in the Birmingham area, you might just have his picture in the family scrapbook. Stephen lets us in on what goes on behind all the candy canes and shopping mall magic, as well as sharing some of his own journey with the new born King.  So grab some milk and cookies and join us.  You might just be surprised to discover – a table in Birmingham and a stable in Bethlehem are not that far apart.


Dinner and Conversation at Chris’ Famous Hotdogs in Montgomery, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Michael Crouse

It is the season of wonder, but wonder is an everyday occurrence to today’s podcast guest.  Michael Crouse is an awesome father to one of my favorite teenagers, an audiologist by profession, a sky gazer, and my good friend.  He lives life at a different pace and therefore sees and hears what all of us could, but many of us don’t. You can gradually hear awe ebb fully into this conversation. While sitting in 102 year old Chris’ Hotdogs, both of our busy days were left behind for deeper contemplation on what really matters.  So order you up some dogs (they come with mustard, onions, kraut, and famous chili sauce), grab a Coke, and pull you up a chair.  You’ll want to get out there and catch some wonder of your own if you do.


Conversation at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Michael Adler

“It’s the best Christmas worship event I have ever experienced!”  That was my assessment when I first attended Christmas At Shades in 2015.  I have been back every year since and my appreciation has not wavered.  It has deepened.  It is that kind of “O holy night, where in heaven did those angels appear from” wow kind of a worship that enfolds and immerses you in to Advent.

For 19 years, Michael Adler has served as Worship Arts Ministry Pastor at Shades.  He leads an incredible group of talented musicians, film-makers, actors, dancers, and artisans with “Soli Deo Gloria” in every pulse and breath.  My brother Michael and I sat down to talk about worship, epiphanies, preparation, God with us, God for us, and a Bethlehem full of other wondrous anticipation swirling around a manger baby named Jesus.  Take a knee and join us – and then come and worship with Michael and Shades on December 8!


Lunch and Conversation at Chappy’s Deli in Prattville, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Greg Duke

“Blessed are the quirky, for they shall be given lots of grace.” That statement definitely resembles me, but it equally applies to today’s podcast guest, as well as all the rest of us.I love it when wonder grabs hold of my imagination and stretches me beyond previous limits, or reminds me of something I’ve forgotten. Meeting new friends like Greg Duke has a way of doing that.  Greg is saturated with contemplative grace.  He gets it!  He overflows with it, so much so that you walk away pondering grace as well. Thanks to Greg, I have been introduced to the 6th century philosopher Boethius, I know what petrichor is (it’s awesome, I can tell you that), and I am craving buttermilk.  So here’s a little quirky before the turkey; a little grace before Thanksgiving!  Enjoy!


Breakfast and Conversation at Cahawba House Restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Wanda Howard Battle

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Those are words today’s podcast guest, Wanda Howard Battle, has taken to heart.  She embodies that challenge and she encourages others to join her.  Wanda is the official Tour Director of historic Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.  It is the only church Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pastored.  Wanda and I met for breakfast at a table serving Bama, bona fide Southern cuisine and it was every egg it was cracked up to be.  Wanda had the granola with yogurt and strawberries plus a bagel.  I had the Momma’s Breakfast Bowl of grits, pimento cheese, eggs, and bacon bits.  We topped it all off with some of the best beignets north of New Orleans.  But even they were no match for Wanda.  So pull you up a chair and get ready to taste and see that the Lord is good.  He’s even better than beignets!


Conversation at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Lunch at Oscars At the Museum in Birmingham, Alabama                                                                    

 Featuring Special Guest:  Carolyn Maull McKinstry

Imagine being in church one autumn Sunday morning.  It is Youth Sunday.  You and your friends are anxiously awaiting the 11 AM worship time.  Four of your friends pause at the girl’s restroom on the first floor.  You climb the stairs towards the sanctuary.  The telephone rings and you step into the church office to answer it.  “Three minutes,” a male voice says.  Click.  The caller hangs up.  As you pass through the sanctuary you simultaneously feel and hear the rumble of thunder.  The building vibrates.  September 15, 1963.  10:22 AM.  16th Street Baptist Church.  Birmingham, Alabama. Your world has just changed. For a young Carolyn Maull McKinstry, there were a lot of ways her story could have  gone.  When Carolyn graciously joined me at “the table,” I was awed to hear where God’s love has brought her thus far.  And He is sending her still.  If forgiveness has ever been an issue for you, today’s table holds a gift with your name on it.  For this is not just a table; this is a banquet.  Take your place and be blessed.


Conversation at First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Dr. Jay Wolf

Today’s podcast guest describes himself as a “kingdom entrepreneur.”  I absolutely love that.  When Dr. Jay Wolf is not verbally sharing Jesus, he is creatively contemplating an abundance of additional ways to tell even more people about Jesus.  His is the endeavor of eternal entrepreneurship. 

Since 1991, Jay has served as a pastor in the downtown heart of the capitol city of Alabama.  Stepping into Jay’s study was like sitting down in a rocking chair before the first fireplace of autumn.  Our conservation was equally inviting, warm, and refreshing.  In a matter of minutes I was enthralled.  At one point, Jay unknowingly corrected some faulty theological thinking on my part.  So get ready to learn about pressing on, changing seats in the orchestra, and Jay’s great addiction.  Grab a pen and some paper (for taking notes) and pull up close to the fire!  We saved you a rocker?


Conversation and Pizza at Salvatore’s Pizza and Pastain Hoover, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Matt Coulter

For 27 years, Matt Coulter has been the track announcer at Talladega Superspeedway.  Twice a year, Matt’s voice presides live over the thunder of the longest racetrack in NASCAR. That’s 26,500 miles of not only watching the wheels go round and round, but bringing the fans in the stands into the heat and heart of the action.  Matt and I sat down recently anticipating some Salvatore’s pizza as a celebratory wrap-up to this week’s “table.”  This conversation was just flat out fun and intense, both at the same time.  Fresh from Talladega’s 50thAnniversary celebration, Matt shares some special moments he has witnessed 188 laps and 200 mph at a time.  But even more exciting than that, Matt bears testimony to “The Voice” Who is over each and every back road and graceway of life. So buckle up and get ready for those palpitating words:  “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!”  Let’s roll!