FIFTY SHADES OF MAYDAY

Conversation at Insights Counseling Center in Birmingham, Alabama


                    Featuring Special Guest:  Tal Prince

Psalm 139 declares us “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Yet a lot of us are walking around convinced we are “fearfully messed up” and almost to the end of our hope. It is a delight to welcome Tal Prince to the podcast.  Tal is owner, director, and therapist at Insights Counseling Center. This fresh Prince episode brings porn to the table, – and the death penalty, and The Innocence Project, and addictions, and isolated pastors, and a whole mess of other stuff that needs to be brought out into the open.  This conversation is gonna stick with you for a while and needs to be shared with every one you know, ministers included.  For every shade of grey in your life, a million shades of mercy await at the Father’s table.  He saved you a seat. 

EVERYBODY’S GOT A STORY

Lunch and Conversation at Klingler’s Café, Bakery, & Catering in Vestavia Hills, Alabama


                    Featuring Special Guest:  Ethan Milner

Imagine the next 24 hours of your life were scripted and filmed for a movie to be premiered at the end of 2020.  What would the account of a single day reveal about you?  Would it a comedy, a drama, or an adventure?  Would it be a cautionary tale or one of incredible inspiration?  Everybody’s got a story!  What is yours telling?Today’s podcast guest Ethan Milner is the Visual Arts Director at Shades Mountain Baptist Church.  He leads an incredible group of creatives who specialize in Gospel-centered storytelling that flavors and shines.  Ethan and I met at a wonderful German bakery specializing in tasty Reubens, Black Forest Cheesecake, and some of the best oom-pah ambience we’ve ever had on this podcast.  The table is waiting; we saved you a seat. 

FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE

Brunch and Conversation at Heritage House Coffee & Tea in Tuscaloosa, Alabama


                    Featuring Special Guest:  Braidyn Lazenby

Life is a pageant of praise to our Creator Who crafted the earth as our stage.  His carpenter Son not only planted the forests and measured the boards where our beautiful feet await the invitation to walk, run, and dance whenever He calls our name.  His Spirit animates and accompanies our every breath.  Today is our day to step into His spotlight.Today’s podcast guest Braidyn Lazenby perhaps understands those words a little better than most.  She has received quite a few crowns along the way including Autauga County’s Distinguished Young Woman, Miss Leeds, and Miss Birmingham.  Last summer, she competed in her final event – the Miss Alabama pageant.   Braidyn and I sat down to her favorite table in T-Town where she is currently working on her Masters.  So grab you a scone and a cup of coffee and join us.  We saved you a seat.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN MISTER ROBERT’S CLASSROOM

Dinner and Conversation at Martha’s Place in Montgomery, Alabama


                    Featuring Special Guest:  Andrew Roberts

I hope my grandkids some day encounter a schoolteacher like Mr. Roberts.  He has been teaching in public education at the same school for 23 years.  He purposefully chose to return to the same elementary school where he was once a student.  And with the grace of God, he overcame a few potentially sidelining obstacles to get there.The first time I met Andrew, I was struck by his presence.  He cares about people and it shows.  He’s very upfront about his style of teaching:  “I aim for the heart.” But as with every gifted teacher, Andrew also exhibits the humility of a student.  He is still being flipped upside down by the One the world recognizes as “Good Teacher.” Andrew and I shared some tasty Southern meat and three at Martha’s Place.  So jump in the buffet line, fill up your plate, and come on back to the table. We saved you a seat.

MARTY RAYBON: THE ROAD SURRENDERED

Conversation at Wishbone Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama


                    Featuring Special Guest:  Marty Raybon

They sing about sacred Sundays in the south, double blessings of roses, and getting to the church on Cumberland Road on time, among other things.  And every solitary one of American country band Shenandoah’s 26 singles, 5 #1 Hits, 3 Gold Records, and 1 Grammy winning song is still sung somewhere in the vicinity of the heart.Today’s podcast guest Marty Raybon is the lead singer of Shenandoah.  I was blessed to catch up with Marty on New Year’s Eve day in the Sweet Home Alabama town that’s got the Swampers who’ve been known to pick a song or two.  Marty and I talked about the early days of Shenandoah, including the band’s amazing sophomore album “The Road Not Taken.”  And from there, Marty shared his own personal journey and the road surrendered.  I encourage you to put down the TV Guide, grab you up some barbecued chicken, and set a spell at “the Table.”  We saved you a rocking chair.

THE ART OF LEANING FORWARD

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. 

PEACE

(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.

THE MAN WITH THE BAG

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.

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?

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.

STEP IN TO THE WONDROUS

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!

http://www.shades.org/about/christmas-at-shades