Friday, December 02, 2005

A Quiet Day, A Warm Fire, A Good Book

Does that image appeal to you? I've discovered that people either like to read or don't like to read. For those of us who enjoy reading, that image is very comforting. Both Diane and I (and, we're discovering, our children) highly value reading. We're often passing around the latest great book to friends and getting a bag full of books in return.

One person that I highly respect and admire is Michael Catt. Michael is the senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Michael highly values reading also. Michael was Diane's and my first pastor after we were married in 1989. Coincidentally, Michael's first day at Sherwood was our first day at Sherwood. It's an interesting story how we came to attend Sherwood and meet Michael (thanks to a close friend of mine from college), but that's another story.

Unfortunately, we were only able to attend Sherwood for about 7 months, then I was transferred to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. So while I respect and admire Michael, I doubt very seriously that he'd even remember me. But during that short time I experienced incredible spiritual growth under his Biblical teaching. And I quickly learned that value of developing reading as a habit.

Michael's latest weekly newsletter article focused on reading and the idea of giving books for Christmas. He included a list of books that he suggested be included in your home library. I was very interested in the list and thought I'd share it, in case anyone who reads this blog is having trouble deciding on a good Christmas gift. Happy reading!
  • The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
  • Your Life in Christ by George MacDonald
  • The Be Series by Warren Wiersbe (hardback edition of all the "Be" books).
  • When Heaven is Silent by Ron Dunn
  • Don't Just Stand There, Pray Something by Ron Dunn
  • Not Peace But A Sword by Vance Havner
  • Repent or Else by Vance Havner
  • A Hunger For The Holy by Calvin Miller
  • Listen to the Giants, Walking with the Giants by Warren Wiersbe
  • Just As I Am by Billy Graham
  • Any book in the "Leaders in Action" series including books on Theodore Roosevelt, C. S. Lewis, Booker T. Washington, Patrick Henry, Winston Churchill, Robert E. Lee and others.
  • Various books on prayer by Andrew Murray and E. M. Bounds
  • The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards
  • Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot
  • The Life of D.L. Moody by Lyle W. Dorsett
  • Prophetic Untimeliness by Os Guiness
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  • The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
  • Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  • Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala
  • At least one biography on great men like John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, C. T. Studd, Winston Churchill, Stonewall Jackson and others.
  • Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
  • The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham by Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley
  • Thinking For A Change by John Maxwell
  • Living By The Book by Howard Hendricks
  • Kingdom Education by Glen Schultz
  • As Iron Sharpens Iron by Howard and William Hendricks
  • The Myth of the Greener Grass by J. Allan Petersen
  • No God but God, Breaking with the Idols of Our Age by Os Guiness and John Seel
  • When Skeptics Ask by Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks
  • First Person, Second Person, Third Person (three books) by Lehman Strauss
  • Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to attend the 85th birthday celebration for Mrs. Clara Bridwell, known to our family as Mama Clara.

Mama Clara is the last surviving grandparent for either Diane or me. She is Diane's dad's mother. Our daughter Clara is named after her.

Mama Clara now lives in an assisted living center in Jackson, Mississippi. Her five children hosted a party there in honor of her birthday and there were literally dozens of family and friends in attendance. It became very obvious through the words spoken about her that she is loved and respected by all.

I remember attending another birthday party for Mama Clara several years ago. At this party she read a letter she had written to her family. In it, she said that the greatest present she could ever get was for all of her children and their families to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Diane puts it best...she is like a strong oak tree, the strength of the family. Happy Birthday Mama Clara!

Monday, November 07, 2005


No, this is not a review of a new "B" movie or an idea for an X-Box game or a synopsis of the latest Science Fiction novel that I've read...

Q: "Why did the boy throw his alarm clock out the window?"
A: "Because he wanted to see time fly!!!"

I heard a version of that joke on the radio last week and it started a series of days where it seems as though I was constantly reminded of the quick passage of time...

"You and I have the same birthday! Only, you're 20 years older than me."

This quote is attributable to the clerk at the shoe store that I encountered when he examined my driver's license after I wrote a check for my daughter Hannah's new basketball shoes that she needs since she's now playing in a fall basketball league. I quickly pointed out that our mutual birth date is also Flag Day (June 14) to redirect the conversation and avoid wanting to hit him with my cane for pointing out how geriatric I am to him. Then again, when I was 20 I suppose 40-year-olds seemed fairly ancient to me also.

Time passes more quickly the older you get...

This idea came up in a conversation with some friends at a birthday party on Saturday night. The guys I was talking to were in their early 20' or just out of college. In other words they are predominantly looking ahead at the majority of their "adult" life where I am looking at mine from a point much farther into it. Not only do I understand the idea of time passing more quickly the older you get moreso now that I have experienced it than I did in the past, I think I can even explain it. Consider this...a year in the life of a 10 year old is 1/10th...or 10%...of her life. A year in the life of a 40 year old is 1/40th...or 2.5%...of my life. As we age the percentage that a year is of our lives, of course, decreases. So...the older you get, the faster time goes...faster, faster, faster...and it doesn't slow down... but...I digress...

"Now I'd like you to step forward over here. They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? --- Carpe --- hear it? --- Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary." Professor Keating (Robin Williams) - Dead Poets Society (1989).

Dead Poets Society is a fabulous movie. I saw it first the year I got married, two years after college...17 years ago...almost half of my lifetime ago. That point in the movie where the quote occurs both scared and motivated me. I wanted then (and now) to make my life extraordinatry. In many, many ways, I have seized the day on many days in my life. In other ways I have occasionally experienced periods where I lived far less capably than I should have. Case in point, quite possibly the last 2 and 3/4 years.

"But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." 2 Peter 3:8 - The Holy Bible (New American Standard Edition)

The Bible even mentions time a time or two. Ok, to chase a rabbit a bit, I know this verse is often used by those who do not think that the world was created in six literal days...but think about this. Maybe what Peter was talking about was the Lord's patience with Peter goes on to say later...wanting to be patient for days and days and days and days so that all will eventually come to a saving knowledge of Him...but knowing that when that great day comes and He is sent back for His bride, that it will seem just like yesterday to Him that He was here in bodily form 2000 years ago...ok...that's weak, I know, and I'll ponder it some back to our story...

Minutes are worth more than money. Spend them wisely. --Thomas P. Murphy

It is practically a daily occurance thatI look at my daughter Hannah and realize just how fast time does fly. She is my firstborn and an image of her as a baby is so vivid in my mind that I think that it was only yesterday, but after blinking my eyes only twice (I sware) since her birth I find that she is now 10 years old. She's over halfway to being 16. She's over halfway to being 18 and probably leaving home for college. Toys mean less to her. Books mean more. Clothes mean more. Time with friends her age means more.

Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today. ~James Dean

When Hannah was a little baby, I was so excited because I was a dad for the first time and I had tons of goals and dreams of how my time with Hannah would go through the years. I'm sure every parent does this. You look at the good parts of your own parents and want to replicate them...and look at the bad parts of your parents and want to change them...and look at society and see how other parents behave and want to be the best parent you can possibly be....then ten years pass and you wonder where the time went. Sometimes you wonder this with as much fear in your heart as you can possibly imagine and want to literally hang on to each passing day for dear you're grasping a slippery rope in a tug of war...knowing it is a losing battle.

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. ~Abraham Lincoln

Hannah is a joy to have as a daughter. She's funny, smart, beautiful, sensitive...I could go on and on...just imagine the proud dad. I have loved and cherished each stage of her life. I could have similar conversations about all of my children. But today's focus is Hannah. We now are entering a new stage. Yesterday we sat in the front yard for about an hour together...just the two of us...just talking. About nothing in particular...just talking. And it was priceless. Oh, how I want a thousand years of days like that with Hannah, yet I know that at some point in the future the day will come when I look back and realize just how quickly those days went.

Every man dies. Not every man really lives. ~Braveheart

So...while I look at the past 2 and 3/4 years and think that maybe I haven't optimized....and even more specificaly for any readers who know me and know of my desire to be involved in some sort of a bivocational ministry...I quickly think of how blessed I've been. I have not been as involved in church, but I have had the privilege of working out of my home. I am at home when the kids wake up and when they go to sleep. I often walk them to the bus stop and am available to take a break and greet them when they come home. I go to school events. I go to their soccer practices and basketball practices. I sit in the yard and talk with them. We play ball together. I tuck them in at night. We have added many memories. While I could have done so much more, and we parents always think that no matter how much time we spend with our children, I have indeed been blessed and seized many days with my children as time has continued to fly.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I'm sure that somewhere along the way in my high school or college years the subject of diets came up in conversation and was just a quickly dismissed because "I'd never have to worry about that." Growing up my biggest weight concern was the lack of, not the abundance of. I was referred to as a fifty-pound weakling more than once.

Being 6'3" made my low weight all the more noticeable. My weight sort of caught up with my height in college, but even at the point of marriage I was still considered very thin.

Now, some years later after a few moves, a lifestyle that best lent itself to fast food, and a job where I do a whole lot more sitting than anything else, it was definitely time for the scales to start a downward spiral rather than continue the upward spiral.

And so, together with and with the help of my wife, we launced a journey to South Beach a couple of weeks ago. I know there are many different kinds of diets and eating plans like Weight Watchers, Atkins, Body For Life, etc. and on occasion one or the other of us has tried a few things...but this is our first attempt together. If you follow the plan, weight loss in the first two weeks is rather dramatic, then levels off. So far, I'm happy to say, my results have been according to plan and I have been rather amazed at the quick loss these first two weeks.

Now the test begins, to see if the loss can be sustained over the long haul and if the recommended adjustements in eating habits take hold. The cravings are definitely still there, and I'll admit to a slip or two during UGA football games, but for the most part we've followed the plan.

I'll update periodically.

Did I mention that the first three letters of diet are D...I...E? Did you also notice that the last three letters spell I...E...T (as in "I eat")?

Back to work I guess....

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Some things happened yesterday that caused me to think about teamwork.

First, my daughter Clara (shown here) played in her next-to-last soccer game of the season. Clara's team has done very well this year. No losses, one tie, and most victories have been decisive. Clara hasn't scored that many goals at all, but she is a vital part of the team. The team doesn't focus on who's scored the most goals, but they do focus on the fact that the Green Dragons are undefeated! Clara plays all positions well, but loves playing defender. Yes, she plays the entire game with that big smile plastered on her face.

Second, my daughter Hannah had her assessment for a basketball league she's playing in this fall. I was sitting with a coach while the assessment was going on, and though she's never played basketball on a team before, he commented that she seemed to know quite a bit of the basics...offense, defense, when to pass, when to shoot. I think she will learn a lot about teamwork in this experience.

Finally, the team I love to follow, the University of Georgia Bulldog football team, won it's seventh game of the season (with no losses). However, our starting quarterback was hurt during the game and had to sit out most of it and it was obvious how his absence hurt the team. They did win, but not decisively against a team over which they were favored by 17.

I guess I'm being introspective, but it caused me to consider my own role as a part of THE Team. Do I get discouraged when I don't score as many goals? Do I value some members of the team more than others because they DO seem to be the ones to score all the goals? Do I minimize the contributions of less celebrated team members? Do I play my position, as Clara does, with everything I have even though I might not get noticed when others score. Does the opponent even notice when I'm sitting out? Maybe it's time for a pep talk from the coach...

Romans 12: 4 - 8. "For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Ephesians 4: 11 - 12. "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ..."

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Friend...

friend - a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts; a person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade; an ally.

Psalms 17:17(a) - "A friend loves at all times..." (NAS)

One of the most valuable pieces of advice my dad gave me early on, and continues to give me to this day, is "you can never have too many friends." Though some would dispute the idea, I've always found it to be true. Friends are like treasures. True, real, close friends are priceless.

I have been blessed through the years with many, many friends of varying degrees, from merely acquaintances to surface friends to friends to true, real, close friends. Some will likely show up as topics of conversation in Chateau Smith in coming weeks and months.

A regular fixture in the first Chateau Smith was a friend that has consistently remained close to this day regardless of our individual physical locations or life struggles. Terry Wright is the personification of Psalms 17:17. Regardless of how good or bad his life is or how good or bad my life is...Terry is there (and his wife, Renee, is a similar priceless friend to my wife, Diane). To this day we talk on the phone several times a week. We share our lives with each other, including triumphs and trials.

Terry is now the pastor of Dunn's Creek Baptist Church in Palatka, Florida. His church has several hundred attendees, yet he finds the time to keep our friendship growing. Terry is one of the first outside of our immediate family to know of most of the things that happen in our lives. He keeps up with my world, holds me accountable, encourages me, prays for me, celebrates with me, grieves with me. Even though we are separated by distance, I also view him as my pastor.

For any who have stumbled onto this blog, please take a moment to evaluate your friendships. I'd love to hear characteristics of YOUR close friends. What kind of friend are you to those God has placed in your path? Personally, I have a LONG way to go to be a good friend to those whose path I have crossed and hearing about the friendships of others helps me grow. It is great that I have such a real, living example of how to be a good friend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Chateau Smith is now open...again. As this is my entry into the blogging sub-culture, this is also my welcome message. Originally only a place to visit in person, Chateau Smith is now in cyber-space. I hope you will feel at home here as the many who did at the original Chateau Smith. There is still some work to do here on the cyber Chateau, but there always was at the original as well. That didn't stop the door from always being open then, and won't here either. Let the fireside chats begin...