Byron Nelson

Byron Nelson is what makes people hitch when they start to say “Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer ev–well, there’s Byron Nelson . . . ”

Nelson won 11 tournaments in a row in 1945 and 18 in all that year. Some say WWII diminished the competition but his average was 68.3 and as John Feinstein said, “And when you play against the golf course, no one knows there’s a war going on.” No one else has had a lower stroke average in a year in the history of golf.

Nelson also won 52 tournaments and five majors. He truly was a master. Nelson would greet the players at the first tee of the Masters. Tiger Woods walked up to Nelson and said, “The Masters wouldn’t be the Masters without you.”

He mentored golf pros like Tom Watson and his was the voice and teaching stroke that weekend golfers learned from when he worked as a golf announcer and instructor for ABC Sports.

But what is most impressive about Nelson is that he retired from golf at 36 years old. Why? Because he didn’t want to travel anymore and wanted to be with his family. He wanted to play to make enough money to buy the ranch in Texas that he lived on until his death yesterday. He was 94 years old.

Last year, Clint Davis and I went to a missions conference in Ft. Worth and went to a Rangers game one night. Our seats and those of about 100 others in one section were paid for by Byron Nelson. He was a philanthropist and gentleman. A Christian who swept and cleaned the building of the Church of Christ that he attended in Texas.

I’m sure there are many more stories about the good deeds and generosity and wisdom of Byron Nelson that his friends and family could tell and that the public does not know about this great man.

Sports Illustrated commemorated yesterday his 11 in a row.

John Feinstein remembers Byron Nelson on NPR

By Greg Taylor Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review Editor

The best part of my job as editor is working with writers and the thrill of seeing someone get published the first time and giving people opportunities to write authentically and coaxing new writers to dig deeper. Giving new editors the chance to work with writers is another joy of my work . . .

Today I’m announcing a search for a new book review editor for Wineskins.

If you are interested, please answer the following questions and send to my email:

  1. Have you written or published reviews before?
  2. If so, include one of your best here . . .
  3. Do you have any editing/literature teaching experience?
  4. What about your desire, reading and writing life, would lead Wineskins to give you a shot at this?
  5. Can you handle this compensation? Free books sent directly to you for the life of the job from all the best publishers related to types of books Wineskins reviews: Brazos/Baker, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Leafwood/ACU Press, Westminster, Bethany House, Jossey-Bass, Paraclete, Eerdmanns, Waterbrook, IVP, NavPress

I’d like to put someone in place before the end of the year, so please answer the questions and send to by November 1, 2006.

By Greg Taylor Posted in Uncategorized

15-year-old drives school bus to safety

Tulsa World Staff Writer RHETT MORGAN wrote about a Pryor, Oklahoma high school sophomore last week who kept his composure and guided a school bus to safety after the driver–his former neighbor–passed out with a heart attack while the bus was moving forward.

Freshman Bradley Thibodeau noticed the driver, Brian Parish, 49, slumped over the wheel, and Josh Marin, 15, jumped up, steered the bus to safety–it had been rolling about five mph. He turned off the ignition and told the twenty students to get off the bus and instructed another student to call 911.

No students were injured, and Parish was in critical condition. Marlin was riding the bus for the first time that day. He sat close to the driver, who was his former neighbor. ” He wanted me to sit in the front seat so he could talk . . . about working on my pickup,” Marlin said.

Principal Terry Gwartney said Josh did exactly what he should have done and it was all caught on surveillance tape–“a demonstration of what you should do in that type of emergency situation,” Gwartney said.

Great Street Sweeper & Martin Luther King, Jr.

The big yellow bus had swept up my kids and swooped them off to school and I was walking back home. Along the street three Hispanic men were weed-eating and sweeping.

“We try to make it look good for you!” One of the men called out. He had a bandana with a hat on top, a grill on a tooth and a big smile. I said thanks and stopped to talk.

“Yeah, it looks good. They want to sell these lots, don’t they?” I said.

“Yes, they do.”

I lingered a few more minutes and the older man just listened while I talked to the younger about houses and the weather, and he said he had a friend who built a house that was too big, more than he needed and he couldn’t afford it anymore and had to sell it. I said, “yep” and he said his trailer cost $400 a month. I told him how much my house mortgage is.

“You work for Coast?” I asked.

“Yes, we work for Coast Consolidated, but we do all kinds of work–concrete, retaining walls, but sometimes we have to clean streets.”

I thanked them for the good work they were doing and told them to come get water at the house if they needed to.

Here is what Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a speech in 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama:

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.'”

Ralph Reed & Straw men

Jim Wallis and Ralph Reed are talking . . .

Ralph Reed to Jim Wallis: Rejecting the Liberal “Straw Man”

Now we’re into debate . . . when people say “straw man” and “begs the question” we’re debating! Wahoo!

Reed is articulate to point out that conservative Republicans agree that gay marriage and abortion are not the only moral issues, that Republicans have championed other moral issues such as home ownership for those in poverty. This is needed justice for the poor, but Reed “begs the question” by naming one current example of a Republican moral issue (other than prayer in schools, gay marriage, abortion) then moving on to talk history and philosophical and media issues.

That the Right has so focused on 2-3 issues to the neglect of others, is pointed out by several who comment and by Wallis in his lastest post. Reed, like many political activitists, doesn’t acknowledge that some Republicans have co-opted a few “moral issues” for political gain. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen on the Democratic side. It in fact does. And yes, I don’t get why Democrats can’t bring themselves to acknowledge and address the 92 percent of the country that believes in God and talk about faith more.

Read the dialogue between the Reed and Wallis. I found it useful and interesting.

Followers of Christ, are you willing to acknowledge that our allegiance is not to party, and it’s not even to country when either party or country advances agendas, policies, or philosophies that run counter to the moral teaching of Christ?

*Note: Lots of bloggers or commenters misuse phrases like “begs the question,” thinking it means something like, “it really leads me to this vital question” when it’s a rhetorical term meaning when someone takes as a premise something that’s supposed to be proved then concluded by that evidence. See grammar note.

Pat Tillman – from 9/11 to Afghanistan by Gary Smith

Whenever I see a piece in SI authored by Gary Smith, I tear into the issue and find it and read it–the few times in the year that I don’t start from the back with Rick Reilly.

My job as an editor is to know great writing and when good writing has potential and when fair to poor writing needs to be rejected and the author encouraged to keep writing and not give up the effort to express something genuine with words.

So, hopeful writers, listen: read Gary Smith’s incredible work in Sports Illustrated. He’s widely considered the best sportswriter–if not one of the best writers period–in America. He usually writes four articles a year for SI. He’s a master. He has written about famous athletes and has famously written about the stories behind sports, which ultimately makes me interested in sports more than I’m interested in sports. It was a Smith article that inspired the movie, “Radio,” starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Smith’s poignant article on Pat Tillman, as with all his articles, left me amazed, sad, awake tonight, wondering at the depth of Smith’s interaction and understanding of human nature and particular people and the lives of his subjects. Pat Tillman was not just an erstwhile NFL player who became an Army Ranger killed by friendly fire, but he was a complex young man looking for truth and to make a name for himself.

Here’s how Smith begins the piece:

One day, God willing, Russell Baer was going to tell his son this story. One day, after the boy’s heart and brain had healed, he was going to point to that picture on the kids’ bedroom shelf of the man doing a handstand on the roof of a house, take a deep breath and say, Mav, that’s a man who lived a life as pure and died a death as muddy as any many ever to walk this rock, and I was there for both . . .

The story continues through the perspective of Russell Baer, whose life Tillman’s death and spirit has forever changed.

Pat Tillman’s Road – from 9/11 to Afghanistan
by Gary Smith

By Greg Taylor Posted in Sports

Bill Gates Foundation and Africa

Bill Gates is leading a charge to help create a sustainable “green revolution” in Africa.

Washington Post story

There was a time in the 80s when it seemed lots of African-Americans idealized life in Africa, and rightly so they were beginning to get opportunities to discover their ancestory, but then the truth about AIDS, tribal war, ethnic cleansing came down and that wish-dream peaceful villages where chiefs lead and people live in harmony was shattered. But in the seven years we lived in Uganda, we saw glimpses of community and learned that Ugandans know more about life in small communities than we did, and I carry these lessons with me forever.

Here are two of those lessons:

1. Children need to work. They are a vital part of the home economy and as such they are valued and feel valued. Message for Americans: stop running kids around to sports for a season and let them work in the home, a cottage industry, regular chores.

2. We are, therefore I am. Much like biblical worldviews, in Africa there is some family determinism going on, but aside from that there is a beautiful way that people still think about their identity as it is tied up in their ancestory. Message for Americans: we’re going to have to work at thinking communally, but our lives will be richer for the effort. C.S. Lewis’s hell in The Great Divorce depicts people seeking to get more distance from each other and heaven as a place where people seek out more intimacy.

Dale Ward

stafward.gifMy friend, Dale Ward, has been given only a few days to live. His heart is failing, and he believes clearly that he ought not continue the spiral down and struggle back up cycle he’s gone through over the past several years.

I asked him what he sees clearly right now and he said, “Jesus is all the world to me.” He said song lyrics have been pouring through his mind since the prognosis. “There’s no better friend,” he said, “than Jesus . . . I’m standing between, like Paul, and I want to stay but I want to go.”

Dale’s wife, Pat, said she felt blessed to have her children and grandchildren come, that they’d had a full day and that God had blessed them greatly.

Dale is Executive Producer for World Christian Broadcasting. Dale is a veteran broadcaster with a degree in Journalism. He is responsible for the content of all three KNLS language services: English, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese. Dale is also an actor and orator of some note. His voice is heard from time to time on the Hymns Of Praise and Parables of Jesus KNLS radio series.

Dale has mentored me and led me through writing and voicing radio scripts for KNLS. He is the one I quote when I tell people writing for radio, “Speak to one person. Imagine that one person you are talking to, a Russian, Chinese, African, but when you write for radio, tell one person your story.”

If you know Dale or know of him, would you please say a prayer for Dale Ward right now? Pray this prayer with me: May the Lord bless the worldwide work that Dale has done, and may it continue not only in his honor but in your honor, Father, for his life has been one lived in service not of a denomination but in sacrifice for Your kingdom life. Amen.

An alternate history by Jonathan Alter

Along the lines of precise punishment . . . this is an imaginative article by Jonathan Alter, a kind of person President Bush should have surrounded himself with. Instead he has surrounded himself with people like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, who seem to have little imagination for things other than power and wealth.

An Alternate 9/11 History
By staying ‘humble,’ as he promised in 2000,
Bush preserved much of the post-9/11 good will abroad.

By Greg Taylor Posted in 9/11

Have we been precise in our punishment?

Five years ago in Wineskins, Muslim leader Ilyas Muhammad called for us to support precise punishment by our nation, requested President Bush to be ‘precise’ in carrying out punishment. God’s law of restitution (Leviticus 24:17-22), better known as ‘life for life’ or ‘eye for an eye’ seems concerned with precision in punishment: don’t allow the power brokers to go beyond the act committed and mix an extra measure of revenge with just punishment.

The question for us is, have we been precise in our hearts and actions, or have we grown, in the past five years, more racist? Are you afraid of Muslims? Arabs? Anyone with appearance of an Arab? Traveling in airports and being vigilant might also train us to be racist, to look out for certain people who look a certain way and suppose them to be more likely to be terrorists.

I remember my Iranian neighbor, after 9/11, saying, “We cried the whole day.” She said these heinous acts were done by a group of evil people, not any one nation or religious group. Nana appreciated me stopping by, and she offered to cook Iranian food for our family, an offer that I gladly accepted.

In 1979, when terrorists held American embassy hostages in Iran, America’s enemy was an Iranian Muslim cleric named Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. My school posted signs marking each of the 444 days the hostages were in captivity. I had an Iranian neighbor then as well. Laleh Khimyahi claimed Iran as her homeland, and she was jokingly chided by classmates and myself to “let our people go!” as if she could do something about it. We didn’t realize then how insensitive we were being toward Laleh. In the same year, the Russians invaded Afghanistan, and the U.S. ran an intelligence operation to help a small band of militant Muslims, led by Osama bin Laden, to break the Russians’ resolve. Osama bin Laden helped communism fall but is now the most hunted man in the world.

I wrote this in the first Wineskins after 9/11, and the war in Iraq had not yet started, so these comments apply to Afghanistan but also apply to Iraq:

Our presidents acted with great restraint not to start all-out wars against Iran and Russia during this period. President Carter, for instance, attempted to rescue the embassy hostages with precision. Our current president’s father also acted with precision, electing to stop the Gulf War after Kuwait was free, rather than continue to go after Sudam Hussein as many wanted him to do. Twenty-two years later, Iran and Russia are better friends with the U.S. What will be our relationship with Afghanistan and the Taliban government in twenty years?

I believe with all my heart that the wicked doers of this unspeakable mass murder should be punished. But will our country be precise in punishment? Will we be precise in our punishment or will we add hatred toward Arabs or Muslims to our justifiable righteous indignation? We don’t have to torch an Arab’s car or mosque to be guilty of seeking revenge on our neighbors; our revenge might be closing down ourselves to people because they resemble the profile of the terrorists or becoming afraid to step out boldly and speak to our neighbors at this crucial time, sharing hope and comfort and moorings that Jesus Christ offers when we live under his rule.

Have we been precise in our judgment?

Pantry and Prayer

Garnett is a Tulsa Food Bank distribution point. Today we’ll give sacks of groceries to about thirty families from our community.

We pray with each person who walks through the door. We opened up a hallway from the pantry to the prayer center and after inviting each person into the living room of the prayer center, we ask them if they have something specific they’d like to pray for, then we pray for them by name.

Usually more than half who come are Spanish speakers. I’m slowly learning a few words. The Fire Station across the street has asked our Bi-lingual school to staff and teach a Spanish class for 30 firefighters. We’re raising $1,200 to do that. In the meantime, we have Hispanic people come into Garnett food pantry, into our services.

Last night we had a Spanish speaker ask if we teach English classes. One of our shepherds, Dale Brown, did very well to speak what he knew and communicate with Alejandro that we are planning to soon teach English classes, taught by the Union school district here in our facility.

When someone comes to us, we immediately ask how we can help each other. I need to learn Spanish. The more we mingle, the more we’re going to learn from each other. And that’s really the first step. Churches talk about ministering to Hispanics and sometimes it ends up that a Spanish ministry operates on the other side of the building. We do have a Spanish speaking church called Redemptive Word meeting here, but that is not the totality of our interaction with Hispanic people in our neighborhood.

An important principle we operate on, and one of our shepherds, Robert Garland, reminded me of this recently, is that we do not look at the community as “needy” and design handout programs but look at the community as an asset and for the potential God can bring out in people. For example, in a few minutes, I’ll walk over to the pantry and greet our guests and ask if someone can help me translate Spanish. Sometimes it’s a little boy but most often it’s Trinnie Trijillo, a grandmotherly lady who comes to get clothes for her neighbors and grandchildren. She is bilingual and seems very pleased to be called out to serve while she is here on Thursdays.

John Alan Turner

I want you to know about my friend, John Alan Turner. He came to Tulsa this weekend to speak at Garnett and spend time with our children’s ministry core team. I’ll let you learn more about him from his web site, but I want to tell you what I experienced through his wisdom this weekend.

My wife, Jill (his wife is also named Jill), and several other children’s core team members met Saturday afternoon and talked about how to turn our children’s ministry inside out in several ways. I don’t know all they talked about, but I’ll share a few things he related Sunday morning in my “Families Forming Faith” class.

1. Provide “shared experiences” for children and adults. Too often we silo ages and lose vital family (and he emphasized that one word for church in NT is “family”) connection. In the 252Basics curriculum he creates and publishes with the RE-think group, there are scripts for 45-minute shared experiences with parents and children. Rather than simply dropping kids off and adults heading to their classes, a monthly or quarter (or however frequently a church wants to do it) group class combines children and adults in an interactive learning experience.

2. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). OK, he didn’t use this overused acronym, but he did emphasize the importance of using the time we have with children to teach several age-appropriate things, rather than trying to do broad sweeps of hundreds of Bible stories all before a child graduates from pre-school. For example, he said his church focuses on three areas then branches out from there. (See next)

3. Growing up like Jesus. Those three simple launching points for teaching are the ways Jesus grew up. We are trying to raise our children to be like Jesus, in wisdom, and favor with God and favor with man. So we make wise choices, learn to love God, and learn how to love others. Hundreds of Bible lessons and applications can branch off of these principles.

4. Clarifying the Win. What is the “win” of every class, every ministry, every event. John is quick to ask this important question of our children’s and adult classes. If we don’t clarify what we want to accomplish (think Covey’s “begin with the end in mind”), then we don’t have imagination for what we are doing right now. So John led us to imagine all the people we’ve taught coming to our “retirement from church” party and saying, “The one thing ______ taught me that I’ll never forget is . . . ” When we clarify the win of every class, ministry, and event, we also have the authority to say no to certain other left field or tired ways of doing things.

Check out John’s site and ministry and resources. He has more than 1,800 subscribers to his 252Basics curriculum, and the resources are fresh, biblical, fun, and will change lives of those who take them seriously and use them in their churches.