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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014
Everyday mission made easy (12/21/14)
A Christian doesn't have to travel to the jungles of Africa to be a missionary, two Texas pastors say in a new book. Even busy people can do mission at home. Ben Connelly and Bob Roberts Jr. are the authors of "A Field Guide for Everyday Mission: 30 Days and 101 Ways to Demonstrate the Gospel" by Moody Publishers. Connelly is a founder and copastor of The City Church in Fort Worth. Roberts founded NorthWood Church in Dallas...
Book sure to delight young children (12/10/14)
A new award-winning book series is sure to delight your young children. "The Life and Times of Birdie Mae Hayes" is a series set in Rainbow, Alabama, by Franklin resident Jeri-Anne Agee. The first book, "Friends Forever," introduces the main character, Birdie Mae Hayes, a third-grader, as well as her family, teachers and best friend, Sally. ...
Illnesses, tragedies lead dad to faith, unconditional love (12/07/14)
Today's title is one of the most compelling books I've read since I started my review column nearly a year ago. "The Unbreakable Boy: A Father's Fear, A Son's Courage, and A Story of Unconditional Love" will strike a chord with nearly anyone who reads it. The primary author is Scott LeRette, on whose family the memoir is based, and award-winning co-author Susy Flory, writer of the New York Times bestseller "Thunder Dog." Nelson Books is the publisher...
Effective prayer is active prayer (11/23/14)
If prayer is not working for you, a professional pilot/priest says perhaps you should put performance behind it. Robert Bakke is a private jet captain, part-time NASCAR racer and ordained minister in Minnesota who has written a self-published book titled, "Prayer at Full Throttle: How Performance-Based Prayers Make Miracles Happen." I don't normally review self-published books unless they are written by local authors, but Bakke's book captured my attention...
Middle TN native discusses infertility (11/16/14)
Infertility. That word has served as a curse for innumerable couples who have tried so desperately to conceive a child. One author is now sharing her own struggles with infertility and how that battle gave her a major insight into God. Amanda Hope Haley, a Murfreesboro native, is the author of "Barren Among the Fruitful." The title by Thomas Nelson is part of the InScribed collection, a series of books written by women for women...
Give the gift of books at Christmas (11/16/14)
Readers, rejoice! Christmas is nearly here, and if you want Santa to bring a book, here are a few suggestions from titles I have received for review this year. Most are available at bookstores, but I list any exceptions. One book, "12 Stories of Christmas," is an ideal gift. Illustrated with beautiful pictures, it makes an ideal book for reading at Christmas gatherings, author Robert J. Morgan says...
Essential read for Christ followers (11/09/14)
A new book, "Beloved Dust: Drawing Close to God by Discovering the Truth About Yourself," is an essential read for any Christian struggling with a desire to follow Christ. Are you falling short of following Jesus? The authors of "Beloved Dust" say one reason that happens is that Christians often get trapped in the sin of telling God what they want while praying, instead of seeking a relationship with God...
Pastor shares Christmas stories (10/26/14)
A Nashville pastor is sharing his church's Christmas Eve stories in a new gift book. Robert J. Morgan, pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, is the author of "12 Stories of Christmas." Thomas Nelson is the publisher. The tales come from stories that Morgan writes every year for the church's Christmas Eve service -- he writes one story per year. Eleven of the 12 short stories are fictional. Each takes 10-20 minutes to read...
Book: Women can 'Rise Up!' for Jesus (10/22/14)
A new book by Thomas Nelson Publishers invites women to "Just Rise Up!" and put Jesus first. "Just Rise Up! A Call to Make Jesus Famous" is the latest in the InScribed series, a study series written by women for women. The author is Sarah Francis Martin, a wife and mother from North Carolina...
Robertson family, Thomas Nelson release NKJV edition (10/22/14)
Fans of "Duck Dynasty" will be quacking over an upcoming study Bible with life-application stories written by two of the Robertson family members. Thomas Nelson Publishers will release "The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible" on Tuesday, Oct. 28. The executive editors of this New King James Version edition are Phil and Al Robertson...
Alabama back road restaurant recipes (10/19/14)
This book review was delicious to write --literally. The title is "Alabama Back Road Restaurant Recipes." The book is the second in a series by Great American Publishers that features mom and pop restaurants -- often off the beaten path -- throughout a featured state. ...
Take away 52 lessons from 'Les Miz' (10/05/14)
A new book examines suffering, injustice, love and hate, grace and other spiritual themes from one of the world's greatest stories, "Les MisÚrables." Journalist Bob Welch authored "52 Little Lessons from Les MisÚrables." The title by Nelson Books will hit store shelves Tuesday...
A 'Daring Heart' for human rights (09/21/14)
William Wilberforce was one of the best known British abolitionists to modern audiences. After many years of futile effort, he successfully lobbied Parliament in 1807 to pass the Slave Trade Act. His work was important in leading to the end of slavery in the British Empire (although that still took a number of years). ...
Bullying is So Not Okay (09/14/14)
Bullying is So Not Okay. That's the title of a book, "So Not Okay! Mean Girl Makeover," by best-selling author Nancy Rue. The first of three Mean Girl Trilogy books by Thomas Nelson Publishers in the story line is available in stores. Rue is more than an author. ...
Versatile publisher also offers children's books (09/07/14)
As a reviewer of books, I have the wonderful opportunity to review a wide number of books on a range of topics. Sword of the Lord Publishers in Murfreesboro is one of my favorite sources for books. They print a wide variety of faith-based books for people of all ages, from fiction to missionary materials to self-help. Here is a summary of two of their most recent titles...
God's hand was there (08/31/14)
God is good, and He is present with us. While we don't see seas parting or bushes burning, God is active in this world. Don't believe me? Just look at the photo of my old car. This Nissan Versa was my mode of mobility until last Monday. I was driving to work from Murfreesboro like any other morning, looking ahead to covering The Celebration later in the day. ...
Happy marriages start with attitude (08/17/14)
Women, bear with me: I'm going to quickly describe a few of the traits that characterize a happy wife. Before you call me a chauvinist, rest assured, I'm basing these qualities on what a woman told me. Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson Publishers, earlier this year released a book with the catchy title, "Happy Wives Club: One Woman's Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage." Fawn Weaver, from the Los Angeles area, is the author of the title that is part memoir, part travel guide, part marriage book. ...
Nature reveals God's careful design (08/02/14)
The complexity of nature points the way to a "Master Designer," an upcoming documentary declares. "The Master Designer: The Song" is a new film from Steve Greisen, an award-winning documentarian. "There is an amazing display in nature going on around us, mainly on the animal kingdom side," said Greisen of Exploration Films and Reel Productions. "Modern science and technology gives you a closer look than ever before."...
Lessons from Abraham, a 'Man of Faith' (07/06/14)
The Bible tells us that Abraham became the father of two great races, the Jews and the Arabs. God credited him with righteousness, despite some whopper mistakes he made, so what can Christians learn about emulating his faith? A Murfreesboro publishing company has released a book that can help...
'Ex-Muslim' memoir tells of conversion, spiritual battles (06/08/14)
Jesus. Demons. War. Infidel. Brashness. Family strife. Islam. Christianity. Pastor. These are some of the themes in the riveting life of Naeem Fazal, a former Muslim who immigrated to America to build a better life -- and hook up with blonds -- but ended up fighting demons and finding Christ...
Soul 'food' offered five days a week (05/25/14)
One devotional is offering readers "food for the soul." "Nourishments: Food for the Soul" is a new title by Deborah Buckingham, a Bible study teacher. The name was inspired by notes, called "nourishments," that she slipped into her children's lunches. The nourishments contained a Bible verse and a short encouragement. In high school, her son's friends asked to see the nourishments for themselves...
Author calls for treating God with reverence (05/11/14)
God is frequently alluded to as a lion. The Newsboys sing about God "roaring like a lion" in "God's Not Dead." C.S. Lewis, arguably modern Christianity's greatest writer, veiled Jesus in the character of Aslan the lion in his Narnia stories. And, of course, Jesus was the Lion of Judah in Scriptures...
Commandments for your marriage (04/16/14)
Have you ever thought of comparing marriage to The Ten Commandments? You should, according to a pastor. Dr. Tony Hart, senior pastor of Montco Bible Fellowship in Pennsylvania, makes the connection in his book "2 Tablets For Your Marriage" from Gospel Folio Press. The book was released last May...
Sometimes love isn't exactly 'nice' (04/13/14)
"God is not nice." Those are not exactly words you would expect to hear from a Christian, much less a discipleship pastor. They make for a great opening, however, for a book exploring God's confusing and often disappointing actions in a sin-sick world. Heather Zempel wrestles with God's seemingly contradictory nature in "Amazed and Confused: When God's Actions Collide With Our Expectations." Zempel is discipleship pastor at National Community Church in Washington, D.C...
Be like a superhero and follow Jesus (04/06/14)
A devotional from Nelson Books connects readers with Jesus with a little help from Spider-Man, Capt. James T. Kirk and Jane Eyre. "No Cape Required: 52 Ways to Unleash Your Inner Hero" provides one devotional for each week using a portion of Scripture, a fictional hero's anecdote, and a guide for prayer and taking action. Kristen Parrish, editor-in-chief of Nelson books, is the author of "No Cape Required."...
Death, other hard questions for God (03/27/14)
One widow has been using her insight into loss to help others deal with their grief. She calls her book, "Why God Why? What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sense," a "handbook for getting through the pain." Karen Jensen's book from Charisma House uses her experience from her husband Brent's death. His passing away at age 37 left her alone with two boys. The book, released last July, is about hope and reclaiming your life...
Spying crucial in Revolutionary War (03/02/14)
Before America had the CIA and Predator Drones, before America was even a recognized nation, it had the Culper Spy Ring. This spy ring provided vital information about the British occupation of New York City to Gen. George Washington to help him win the American Revolution. ...
Important piece of America has been dinged (02/20/14)
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."...
How do you get closer to Christ? (02/02/14)
What does it mean to get closer to Christ? As one who did not grow up in a church environment, much less as one who did not really know much about Christ, the whole idea of "knowing Jesus" was weird. The concept also was a little off-putting since I didn't know Jesus and didn't know even how I would get to know Him...
Offensive speech is free speech (12/26/13)
I'm going to break the taboo against mentioning religion and politics during the holidays. The past year included boycotts or discussions of boycotts, including: Chick-fil-A, "Duck Dynasty," A&E, Radio Shack, and Israeli universities by American universities...
Baffled by bureaucracy (12/12/13)
What does the government have to hide? It's not only government officials who run like deer from a forest fire anytime a reporter calls, it is often corporate business executives as well. I have not run into this problem with companies lately, but I've had two recent dealings with government and quasi-government bureaucrats that has left me fuming...
Charity is for everyone (12/08/13)
I've been working with Bedford County charities and community organizations for a year now. There are many good-hearted people here. But I have two observations to make. I hear charity organizers mention, "All proceeds/donations go to people in Bedford County. ...
There's much to be thankful for (12/08/13)
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I continue to think about the reason for the season. What are you thankful for? I try to remind myself to be thankful for the simple things: shelter, even though rent is ridiculously expensive and the house is very drafty; food, even though it's expensive -- we try to eat local and fresh, versus having everything from a can; and health, even though it's been rough in the past but is great now...
Fisher deserving of state honor (11/07/13)
Great leaders inspire people by serving others. That type of leader is called a servant leader. Martha Fisher is such a leader. The Cascade Elementary School principal last week was named Tennessee's Principal of the Year for 2013-2014. In interviewing her for a story on the award, I was struck by how humble Martha is. In fact, I'm sure she will be embarrassed by this column. Too bad -- she deserves the attention. She's a great lady and a great educator...
Dress up for breakfast? Timing is everything (10/31/13)
Happy 2013! Does it seem a bit late to wish you a happy 2013? OK, maybe I am a little late. The right timing does make a difference. Take, for example, the advice column below. It was submitted for The Times-Gazette Cookbook, which is featured in today's edition. The cookbook features reader-submitted cooking and household tips in addition to recipes...
Guns, proctologists and know-it-alls (10/27/13)
"Anyone who thinks he knows all the laws is dangerous. You would not want a proctologist to do your brain surgery." That's a colorful -- but dead-on -- hyperbole that Rick Gann used recently in an interview. I was talking to Gann about the importance of gun safety classes for a story on firearms safety. He teaches firearms safety to police in his role as a corporal with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office and safety and carry permit law to civilians as owner of Defensive Options Strategies...
God: The ultimate cure for bullies (10/20/13)
Bullies. As USA TODAY pointed out in a recent story, bullies are not limited to the schools. What happens when the school bully grows up and gets a job? He or she sometimes becomes a workplace bully. Shana Lebowitz pointed out in an Oct. 8 story in USA TODAY that workplace bullying is increasing in frequency, affecting productivity. In 2011, half of employees in one survey said they were treated rudely at least once a week, an increase of 25% from 1998...
Cut through static to talk to someone (10/06/13)
I was trying to reach someone on her cell phone recently and listened to her Verizon ringback song, some classical music piece, and got to reminiscing to the good ole' days. Although I did not mind this particular ringback tone, that's not always the case. ...
Slow down, drive safely and be nice (09/22/13)
What's driving bad manners behind the wheel lately? It seems that every day my wife or I encounter road rage or some horrible behavior in traffic. I'm not saying I'm not guilty of occasionally saying something nasty about a driver to myself or honking my horn if a driver cuts me off. I'm human. But I try not to contribute to road rage, by "waving the birdie" or doing something stupid after I've been wronged...
Thief doesn't steal Community yearbook staff's spirit (09/15/13)
You can choose to build or to tear down. You can choose to contribute to society or to take. You can choose to shrug off reprehensible behavior and move on or you can let it eat at you. The yearbook staff at Community Middle School are choosing to be part of the solution instead of letting a thief or thieves stop them...
Help's available when life seems too much to bear (08/25/13)
Mental illness in youths continues to be a topic of concern as schools clamp down on security. I'm profiling two local mental health and crisis intervention programs in this column. These are two that came immediately to mind when I was writing this column. If you know of a similar program, I'd love to hear about it...
Pleasant dreams aren't made of fireworks blasts at 2:30 a.m. (07/14/13)
I'm writing this column on July 5. Trust me, the date is relevant. My body is in motion, but my mind is stuffed with cotton -- that fuzzy feeling when you have not slept well. I have trouble concentrating on a task, and I am frequently "blanking," or simply stopping and staring into space. There are serious black bags under my eyes...
A few irritating things (07/07/13)
Are you getting fed up with the world lately? I know I am. I'm trying to avoid being labeled cranky, but there have been several things, from the very small to the large, that have been bothering me. Here is a sampling: First up is gumming. I told you that some of my complaints were small in nature...
Warm weather presents dangers to children and pets (06/23/13)
Why do you think farmers and nurseries use greenhouses to grow plants throughout the year? They use greenhouses because they keep the plants warm, even in winter. Doesn't it stand to reason that if a greenhouse keeps a plant warm even in winter, that a car will do the same to a child or pet? And in the summer, that could be quickly fatal...
Duck needs your help and manners, please (06/16/13)
You wouldn't throw a cigarette into your glass of water, would you? Then why would you make yourself into a butt and throw a butt or anything else in the river from where your drinking water comes? But, because a lot of people do pollute the Duck River, the city's water source, a group of volunteers band together every year to clean the river and the riverbanks. ...
Think safety first, slow down in rain (05/26/13)
Crazy drivers are dangerous drivers. Last Sunday my wife, Holly, and I drove to East Tennessee to attend a cousin's funeral. While the weather was fine in Middle Tennessee, in East Tennessee it was raining cats and dogs, as the old saying goes. At times on the drive back, it seemed to be raining lions and St. Bernards, I told Holly...
Good deed is icing on the cake (05/12/13)
What would you do if you found a wallet full of money? One 12-year-old student didn't hesitate to turn the money over to his bus driver. Seth Owens, a seventh-grader at Harris Middle School, sat down on the bus one afternoon recently for the ride home, and found a brown lady's purse, which had no ID....
Make sure character counts by supporting students (05/05/13)
Teaching children values. Hopefully most parents are teaching their children values. But when even some adults don't seem to know what a value is, it's good to know that elementary schools are making sure that students at least have heard about the concept. The state of Tennessee mandates character education in schools...
Life Line counselor sees bullying's effect on son (04/21/13)
Bullying is an equal opportunity destructive force. It's not just boys who pick on other boys or girls who pick on other girls or boys who pick on girls. Sometimes girls pick on boys. And, bullying does not affect only people who have no training, no idea, on how to handle it. Sometimes, bullying affects the families of professionals who help other people deal with personal crises...
Use compassion before judging parents (04/14/13)
Angie, a friend going back to my undergraduate days, raised a great point a week ago on a Facebook post. Angie's youngest daughter has autism. Her advice was to think before assuming the worst about the parent of a screaming child you encounter in public...
Some people have to fix others' messes (04/07/13)
"Cats, cats and more cats," as my wife Holly likes to say. My wife and I each had two cats before we got married. Now we have four cats. That's a lot of fur and a lot of meowing, more than I ever bargained for in life. Our cats live inside because that way is safer and healthier for them. It takes a lot of money to care properly for that many pets. Nevertheless, we take care of them because we try to be good stewards over this small part of creation. Besides, we love our pets...
Tell us your news,we'll pass it along (03/31/13)
When news happens, we'd love to hear from you. The Times-Gazette values reader news tips, whether it's your child participating in a charitable work at school or your company is hiring workers. But we need your help to learn about breaking news. On Monday, Nashville television stations reported that National Pen Co. is hiring 100 people as an expansion of its call center. Company officials failed to return repeated phone calls from the newspaper seeking confirmation...
Use that phone quietly, please (03/24/13)
"Can you hear me now?" a famous cell phone ad slogan goes. I'm often tempted to say "Yes, and you're too loud" to cell phone users. We've become a nation of cell phone-a-holics. Texting. Tweeting. Playing games. Web browsing. Listening to music. And that's not even using a cell phone for its most basic purpose. It's cool to play with a smart phone and the thousands of available apps. But with so many things in life, there is an appropriate time and place...
Hope springs from dark moments (03/17/13)
Christian rock musician Joseph Rojas should be dead. Instead, he's in a place he never expected to be. His band, Seventh Day Slumber, is gaining notice around the world. But the greatest miracle is that the man who once tried to kill himself is alive and has a family. He is using his band as a platform to help other young people, such as at the recent Reaching Our Kids (R.O.K.) Concert at Calsonic Arena...
Let's just get along, okay? (03/10/13)
Once upon a time I worked at a store. Retail is a job where you work your shift and go home. No after-hours phone calls or emails are involved for a peon-worker in that industry. You don't take any work home with you. It sounds low-stress, right? Not necessarily...
Spread messages of love, kindness (03/03/13)
What better role model could a young person have than another young person who is trying to make a difference? Unity, a band comprised of young women, traveled from Keller, Texas, last week to share a message of love and tolerance with Bedford County youths. Unity was here primarily to sing at the Rewarding Our Kids (ROK) concert at Calsonic Arena last Saturday. The band members spent several days before that event performing at local schools and talking to students about tolerance...
Civility lacking on social media (02/17/13)
What defines a wise guy? And what is it about using social media that encourages this trait? Instead of using the word "guy," I was sorely tempted to use the more common term that starts with the letter "A" and has three letters, but that would not be appropriate for print...
We've become a nation of wimps (02/10/13)
So sue me. That's one of the retorts an angry person makes during an argument. Although this idiom is not as old as the one about jumping in a lake, the fact that it has been around for a while indicates how much lawsuits have become a part of Americana...
Life's not just about us, so let's get along (02/03/13)
Why do we have to win? Why do things always have to be our way? Have you ever worked at a job where this one guy makes everyone else miserable because he won't cooperate? He spends much of his time and energy complaining about why such and such an idea is stupid and won't work, thus draining everyone else's energy from the project. ...
Clutter equates to crankiness (01/20/13)
Clutter. Americans let stuff rule their lives. That's true in how much stuff we accumulate over the years, in not being able to let go of mementos and knickknacks, and that's true in how many commitments we have. Parents' lives are cluttered with activities and to-do lists: day care, after-school care, PTOs, doctor visits, band practice, choir practice, Sunday school and more. ...
Lack of balance leads to bad behavior (01/13/13)
"Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" was a popular country song in the late 1970s. I'd like to hear a song titled something like, "Mammas Don't Let Your Kids Run Around Like Banshees in Public." Mammas and daddies, however, are doing just that -- they are letting their children run out of control...
Jason Reynolds
Simplify / CrossWords
Jason Reynolds, staff writer for the Times-Gazette, wants to hear your stories of good and bad behavior you have noticed for a possible mention in this column. Email him at jreynolds@t-g.com. Reynolds has observed a plethora of both good and bad behaviors over the years, and tries to rise above the bad to be a better person, with mixed results.