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!


Lunch and Conversation at La’Taste Vietnamese Cuisine in Prattville, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Jason McHenry

Vietnamese pho soup is phenomenal.  According to the chef at LaTaste, the process to make pho takes 7 days.  Yet the soup is not complete until it literally finishes cooking in your bowl shortly after it is served and the final garnishes are added.  It is an aromatic, culinary delight.  Life is a process and every person’s journey is a unique combination of experiences, choices, and outcomes.  Today’s special guest, Jason McHenry, is a husband, a father, a worship leader, and a Wildlife Conservation Enforcement Officer for the state of Alabama. Jason’s story unfolds with his slow fade, an unraveling season of his life, that led to repentance and forgiveness. Just like pho, God’s grace is a process that explodes with the aroma of redemption.  So order up a bowl and grab some chopsticks.  We saved you a seat.


Lunch and Conversation over Chick-fil-A at Samford University Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Dr. Robert Smith, Jr.

When this podcast was just a God-nudge, I began to daydream about individuals to invite to “The Table.”  The first name on the list is today’s special guest.  Dr. Robert Smith, Jr. is the professor of Christian Preaching at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.  Dr. Smith became the vocal cords of Jesus on two separate occasions in my life in 2013 – once from the pulpit while he was preaching a sermon and once in a one-on-one conversation we had at Beeson.This conversation is rich.  If you need encouragement, if you have ever suffered loss or tragedy, if you struggle with forgiveness, if you have ever pondered heaven, if you are often caught up in political issues, listen deep and be refreshed and challenged.  I encourage you not to dismiss this conversation early lest you think it is all about preaching.  Come and join us.  


Lunch and Conversation at Crestline Bagel Company in Birmingham, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Kathryn Doornbos

“Our mission is to redeem the streets.”   And once you’ve come in contact with the staff and volunteers at Redemptive Cycles, you will know for yourself – that’s just how they roll. These folks are the spokes God uses sometimes to get lives rolling again.  

I was blessed to sit down recently with Kathryn Doornbos, Executive Director of Redemptive, at Crestline Bagel Co. to learn a little more about this very special bicycle shop in downtown Birmingham.  Get ready for some delightful surprises along the way, like how a PhD came to ride point for a group of purpose driven pedal pushers. So flip down your kickstand, grab a bagel, and join us.  We saved you a seat.


Lunch and Conversation at Lek’s Railroad Thai in Montgomery, Alabama

                    Featuring Special Guest:  Chuck Conner

Today marks a first for the podcast.  We have brought back one of our former guests, Chuck Conner, for a second conversation round “the Table.”  In “A Drummer in the Distance” from May 27, we talked about Chuck’s days as drummer in my favorite Christian rock band of the 80’s and 90’s, Geoff Moore & the Distance.  This time around we catch up with what Chuck is doing now.  He is the Executive Director of Christian Missions Unlimited – an organization “giving ordinary people an extraordinary opportunity to serve others” in Brazil.

This is such a fun conversation and some of Chuck’s answers to my questions caught me completely off guard.  I love how Chuck zeroed in on “the big picture.”  Why do we do what we do and what is really going on with it? Chuck and I sat down once again to some phenomenal Thai food in downtown Montgomery.  Get you a glass of Thai tea and a bowl of Tom Kha and join us.  We saved you a seat.


Lunch and Conversation at Uncle Mick’s Cajun Market and Cafe in Prattville, Alabama

                        Featuring Special Guest:  Robyn Blessing

“Absolutely ingenious!”  That’s the first thing I thought when I heard about “Life On Wheels Alabama.”  This “tricked –out” RV unit is a traveling medical clinic, offering women free $150 sonograms.  In 32 months, God has done great things through this rolling message of hope including 180 women who changed their minds from abortion to birth and 93 women receiving the greatest gift of all – a relationship with Jesus Christ.Life On Wheels Alabama Executive Director Robyn Blessing and I sat down to some incredible Cajun cuisine at Uncle Mick’s Cajun Market and Café in Prattville, Alabama.  The shrimp scampi might make you want to go “Coo-wee!!!”  But Robyn’s story will make your heart want to sing. Grab you some scampi and join us.


Dinner and Conversation at Top O’ the River Restaurant in Gadsden, Alabama                        

Featuring Special Guest:  Tammy DeBoer Rowe

I wish I had more friends like Sue Ann DeBoer.  She imitated God.  She impacted a lot of lives.  She surprised me with grace in an unguarded moment of my life when I needed it. I am delighted to bring her life to “The Table” today.  Now Sue Ann was unable to sit down and visit with me over dinner because I suspect God might just have her busy hanging some new stars in the sky.  So I enlisted one of Sue Ann’s biggest fans to join us – her sister Tammy DeBoer Rowe.  Tammy, her husband Clay, and I sat down to a delicious meal of catfish, shrimp, and hush puppies at Top O’ the River in Gadsden recently to talk about her little sister.  Sue Ann was born with Down syndrome, which is a little ironic when you stop to consider how beautifully she stepped “Up” to life.  A pan of hot cornbread was just set on the table.  Pull up a chair and join us. 


Conversation at 23rd Street Baptist Church and Lunch at Sweet Tea Restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama

 Featuring Special Guest:  Dr. P. Banneker Hatcherson

Something about the word redemption catches my attention. So when today’s podcast guest talked about redemption at a Good Friday service a few months ago, I extended an invitation to share a meal.  And Dr. P. Banneker Hatcherson graciously said, “Yes.”   Now, he and I sort of turned the table on this week’s podcast because we talked first in the church sanctuary where he pastors and afterwards walked right around the corner for lunch at Sweet Tea Restaurant.  This is such a rich conversation.  If you didn’t know different, you would think Banneker and I are lifelong friends.  In reality, our friendship has just begun.  Yet, this is the potential for every dinner invitation we initiate and accept that bears the heartbeat of the One who says, “Come and dine.”  (John 21:12)  So, come and dine.  We saved you a seat.