At the end of every “Table” conversation, I click off the recorder and ask my guests, “Who are three of the most redemptive people you know?” When I met with Pastor Arthur L. Price, Jr. a few weeks ago and asked him that question, Norman Askew was one of his three choices. Norman serves as the Prison Ministry Assistant for the 16thStreet Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham. He has an “amazing” grace story that is gritty and real; from the streets of crime and death to a vibrant walk of ministry and new life. He and I met for a wonderfully fresh summer salad in my office a few weeks ago. Meeting new friends like Norman is one of the many blessings I receive from doing this podcast. Toss up some fresh fruit and vegetables and join us. We saved you a seat.
Lunch and Conversation at Crestline Bagel Company in Birmingham, Alabama
Featuring Special Guest: Scott Rackstraw
For the past 18 months I drive into downtown Birmingham twice a week to serve as a chaplain at Brother Bryan Mission. At the corner of 3rdAvenue N. and 14thStreet I started noticing positive messages on the sign at Jim Edwards’ Chevrolet. Right in the midst of a stretch of city streets where the homeless wander twixt rescue missions and interstate bridges were words of hope. I knew there had to be a story behind those words so I walked into the dealership and all the sales representatives pointed to Scott Rackstraw. Scott and I met for lunch where I listened to an amazing journey of one man’s family who knows the power of redemption. Grab a bagel and join us. We saved you a seat.
Ice Cream and Conversation at Big Spoon Creamery in Birmingham, Alabama
Featuring Special Guest: Ryan OHara
I am a gushing enthusiast. When I discover something I like, you can expect to hear about it. Three months ago I walked into an ice cream place that transcended my tastebuds to a whole new level. Big Spring Creamery in Homewood, Alabama crafts the best ice cream I have ever put into my mouth. So when I had the opportunity to sit down to talk to one of its two cofounders – Ryan O’Hara (his wife Geri-Martha is the other), I was ecstatic. What follows is refreshing to the palate and the soul. Grab a big spoon and join us. (I recommend the Michael Dean’s Lavender.) We saved you a seat.
Iced Coffee and Conversation at a Lively Starbucks Coffeehouse.
Featuring Special Guest: Abigail Douglas
I first heard Abigail at an open mic night at a local barbecue joint. I was wowed by a musical depth and maturity beyond her age. She has been writing songs daily since age 11 and learned to play the guitar not long after that. She just completed her freshman year at Belmont University in Nashville and released her brand new single, “Away From You,” just in time for your next summer road trip. I encourage you to listen to Abigail’s freshman journey. It is real. It is honest. It is vulnerable. Grab a latte and join us. We saved you a seat.
He is 97; she is a young 93. They have been husband and wife for 73 years. He is a WWII veteran who saw combat. She became a published author with her first book at age 85. Their lives together have been marked by adversity, faith, resilience, joy, family, and love. I caught up with Tom and Betty at their home in Hope Hull, Alabama. Before I arrived, Tom drove himself to pick up fresh pizza for our lunch. (Who needs delivery?) I brought some homemade Bon Bons and Fat Cake from Liger’s Bakery out of Montgomery, Alabama for dessert. The meal was scrumptious. The conversation? Absolutely delightful. We ate all the bon bons, but we did save you a seat.
Lunch and Conversation at Lek’s Railroad Thai in Montgomery, Alabama
Featuring Special Guest: Chuck Conner
My favorite Christian rock band is Geoff Moore & the Distance. They were at the top of the charts from the late 80’s ‘til the late 90’s. Their music was pure rock and roll with soul challenging lyrics. Chuck Conner was drummer for The Distance through most of the 90’s. Through circumstances that only a humorously sly Sovereign could orchestrate, Chuck and I are now friends. We sat down recently to some delicious Pud Thai, Tom Kha, and Thai Tea in the old Union Station depot in Montgomery for an enlightening conversation about riding the rails to the rhythm of redemption. We saved you a seat.
Coffee and Conversation at 16thStreet Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama
Featuring Special Guest: Rev. Arthur L. Price, Jr.
I love this church. I love its heartbeat. This is hallowed ground where evil once struck; yet the love of Jesus Christ continues to resound triumphantly in the lives and ministry of this precious congregation.I was privileged to sit down with Rev. Price over a cup of coffee and listen as he shared his redemption story, as well as his unique perspective as Pastor of this historic church that was challenged 56 years ago “for such a time as then.” I think you will agree that his testimony of grace and wisdom is relevant “for such a time as now.” But my greatest takeaway from this marvelous conversation is this: the main attraction of 16th Street Baptist Church is Jesus Christ. And just like Jesus, they have answered nails with gospel truth, love, reconciliation, and forgiveness. That uncommon witness is “for such a time as always.”
Dinner and Conversation at Outlanders Southern Chicken in Nolansville, Tennessee
Featuring Special Guest: Ross King
I am blessed to call singer-songwriter Ross King my friend. I sat down to dinner with Ross and his family at a kickin’ little chicken place specializing in tenders and Nashville hot bird. Awesome place; awesome face time catching up with his fam. But what really set the table of this podcast was the fact that Ross’ brand new single, “Things That I’m Afraid Of,” had premiered that very day. There is a vulnerability and an honesty in Ross’ music that is rare nowadays. I hope you will give the new song a listen and then sit down for a spell to hear the story behind the lyrics where Psalm 23 and depression, medication, and counseling come together. Someone you know needs to hear this song and this podcast. It may be you. We saved you a seat.
Link to “THINGS THAT I’M AFRAID OF” – https://youtu.be/SEbOwPxUNSA
Lunch and Conversation at Hickory Chip Barbecue Restaurant in Clanton, Alabama Featuring Special Guest: Ken Lenoir.
My good friend Ken Lenoir and I sat down to some hickory smoked barbecue with all the trimmings to savor some of his favorite redemption characters from film, music, and literature. In addition, Ken shared some of his own redemption story. (Ken works for Barnes & Noble and serves as Pastor at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Clanton, Alabama.) Eclecticity abounds with such table guests as Boo Radley circus sweepers, rodeo clowns, and a couple of recovering hypocrites. We saved you a seat.
In 2018, “Grace’s Kitchen” shared the gospel of hope through 13000 meals to those in need. This includes the hungry, the needy, and those who help those in times of need. This all began when God spoke individually to two ladies at the same time. We had the awesome privilege to go into the kitchen with GK’s co-founder Paula Hughes. Join in on the conversation and be encouraged by this appetizing story of everything that is possible when are hearts are listening to The Voice above all voices.