2017: By the Numbers

2017 has been a good year – here are a few significant numbers that help to illustrate this.

6 – This has to be at the top of the list. Linda and I went into 2017 with 3 grandkids and as we leave 2017 behind we now have 6 grandkids. We still find it hard to believe that we are even old enough to be grandparents but we are very blessed by our kids and their kids.

5 – Linda and I were in Poland in August for a mission trip with our church and then stayed over in Europe to take an anniversary cruise around Scandinavia. 5 represents the number of countries we went to that I previously had never been to: Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. This brings my total of countries visited to 47. My Mom built a love for travel into me as a young lad and it is something I still enjoy doing.

4,000,000+ – Just before 2017 started I got a Fitbit and set a goal for the year of 70,000 steps per week (10,000 per day). I am happy to say that I have eclipsed that goal by averaging 11-12,000 steps each day. My Fitbit has been a good motivation tool for me as I try to keep exercising in my older years.

59 – This is a huge number because it represents the fact that I am still alive. 59 years old. Or to say it another way – I am well into my 60th year. I know that by most standards I am an older man now but that does not stop me from still thinking of myself as a young man – and acting that way on many occasions.

24 – This is the number of years that I have served on staff at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham. I serve with an awesome group of other pastors among an awesome family of believers that encourage me as I seek to encourage them. It has been said, “Find a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is how I feel about working at my church.

23 – This year I started a series of blog posts that I call “The Pop Pop Epistles”  – subtitled “Legacy Letters For My Grandkids.” To date I have written 23 of them. It is one way that I am trying to invest in them and leave something behind long after I am with the Lord.

And since I am talking about numbers, here are a great few verses from Numbers 6:24-26 that is my blessing for you as we move into 2018…

Numbers 6

Poland/Baltic Adventures

This past Wednesday, Linda and I returned from oversees having been out of the country for two and half weeks. Our trip was divided into 2 different adventures both of which were excellent.

Adventure #1 – For the 4th time in 5 years our church staffed a retreat for the missionaries (M’s) that are in the Germanic and Catholic clusters of Europe. This includes M’s from Germany, Austria, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland. We gathered in Jelenia Gora, Poland with about 55 M families  who came together for meetings, fellowship, worship in their heart language, and soul refreshment. Our job was to provide ministry to the M kids and students, lead worship, and create some fun surprises for the adults.

Linda and I, along with 7 others were in charge of the Student Ministry. Essentially we hosted a 4 day retreat experience for middle and high school students. It took me back to the 25 years that I spent in Youth Ministry and reminded me why I stayed so long and how much I enjoyed working with students. I did a series of messages entitled “Not Your Average Joe” and looked at 4 “Joes” in Scripture and what it was that made them not your average Joe: Josiah, Jonah, Joseph (OT), and Barnabas – yeah, Barnabas. See if you can figure out why he is not an average JOE. Here are a couple of pictures of the awesome students we had the privilege of hanging out with for the week…


This is after one of my famous “Shay hikes”. The next one is the group sporting our “Not Your Average Joe” tee shirts.


Adventure #2 – Our Poland retreat finished up on Saturday, August 5. We had flown into Prague but we were flying out of Berlin. We arrived in Berlin around lunchtime and since our flight home was not until Sunday morning we took a 4 hour tour of Berlin in the afternoon. Hit all the main tourist spots like Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall, TheBrandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Monument, and a few government places.


The rest of the team took off early Sunday morning but Linda and I stayed behind and took a train up to the northern coast of Germany where we boarded a ship and began a 9 day cruise with Norwegian around the Baltic Sea. It was AWESOME. We had great sailing weather – never really knew we were even on a ship. Incredible dining experiences. Perfect weather everywhere we went – sunny and 70-75 degrees. We enjoyed all the ports as well as the 2 days we were at sea. Norwegian did an excellent job of spoiling us and refreshing us. Here are a few pictures that will not do justice to our experience but will at least give you some kind of idea to what our trip was like…

Warnemunde, Germany – Day 1
Tallinn, Estonia – Day 3
St Petersburg, Russia – Day 4
St Petersburg, Russia – Day 5
Helsinki, Finland – Day 6
Stockholm, Sweden – Day 7
Copenhagen, Denmark – Day 9


And a few random pictures…



A few comments about the trip…

1) We enjoyed all the ports but Copenhagen was our favorite.
2) We loved walking around the Old Towns of Tallinn and Stockholm.
3) The Peterhof Palace and Gardens  outside of St Petersburg was incredibly beautiful.
4) We were unplugged for most of the trip which was kind of nice.
5) We got in over 23,000 Fitbit steps in Copenhagen.
6) The Danish danish in Copenhagen would be worth flying back for (see picture above).
7) I am now quite the selfie stick master.
8) Never underestimate the value of your favorite pillow.
9) It was great to be away together by ourselves for an extended period of time.
10) We loved the trip but we were glad to get back home.

And we would definitely recommend a Baltic cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines to anyone who is so inclined – and I was not paid to write that.


A Prayer For Asher

Asher Elizabeth Reyner

June 9, 2017
8 pounds 4 ounces
21.5 inches long
Wilmington, NC
Parents: Tucker and Danielle Reyner
Grandparents: Shay and Linda Reyner (aka Nona and Pop Pop)

Father, I thank you for this blessing – this little girl who is so dependent upon others for everything but who already has been a source of great joy to many.

And this is my prayer as she grows up…

I pray that she would always find her dependence on You. And even when sin tries to take root in her heart and turn her away from You, that your Spirit would draw her back and enable her to find joy in clinging to You as she asserts a bold streak of dependence not independence.

I ask that her heart would be tender towards You and others from an early age. That she would yearn to know You and have a strong appetite for Your Word. That she would demonstrate genuine compassion towards others because she genuinely knows that You have shown great compassion towards her.

I pray that she will learn to abide in your magnificent, magnanimous love. That she will know the width and breadth and length and depth of the love of Christ, this love that surpasses knowledge that she might be filled to all the fulness of Christ.

I pray that You will use her parents to disciple her and to model for her a marriage that prioritizes You and Your Word. I pray that during her teenage years you will surround her with friends who seek after You and with with godly adult mentors who will exemplify Christ and spur her to want to know You better.

I pray that You will protect her from the evil one. Guard her. Shield her. Cover her. And while I know that she will not be immune to trouble and difficulty I ask that You would equip her with strength and wisdom to know that You are sovereignly in control, that she can rest in Your nearness and that Your joy will be her strength no matter what this world brings her way.

And finally I ask that just as she is a blessing, that you would use her to be a blessing in significant and eternal ways. That her life would be used to encourage others and to challenge others, and to serve others and to help others find their joy in You. Use her to lead others out of darkness and into your marvelous light and to know the only One who gives lasting satisfaction to our hungering hearts.

A Prayer for Miller

Miller William Ferrell
April 27, 2017
6:57 am
7 pounds, 2 ounces
21 inches long

“…May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the working of His great might….” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Father, I want to echo this prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians on behalf of my grandson Miller. As he grows up and as he develops a knowledge of who You are I would ask that You would do these three things…

Would You open the eyes of his heart so that he would be enabled to see You as the glorious God that you are. I know that the enemy of his soul will do everything that he can to blind Miller to what is truth. I ask You to protect him from the evil one in this regard. And just as Elisha also asked that his servant’s eyes would be opened, I too ask that Miller would be able to see the vast army of heavenly forces that are ready to fight on his behalf. Give him eyes to see what most people cannot see – the greatness of Your glory and the bounty of Your grace towards him.

Would You also fill him with the hope of Your salvation. He has been born into a world that tends to drain people of hope and causes them to despair rather than to find joy in You. Would You so work in his life that he always senses Your presence and protection so that even when life is hard  he still is emboldened with hope and fueled with courage to live a life that makes a difference for the Kingdom. Use him to be an ambassador of hope  to a world that more and more feels hopeless.

And too, would You give him great contentment in this world as he looks forward to the next world. Help him to recognize how rich he is even when he might be poor according to the standards of this life. Help him to anticipate with great eagerness the glorious inheritance that is already his and not to get caught up in the quest to fill his life with stuff. Would You create within him a great love for eternal things – specifically a love for people and a love for Your Word.

And Father, would you use his family to strengthen him for the journey. Thank you for the mom and dad and brothers he has been blessed with. May their family be used mightily in the generations to come to influence the nations for the gospel.

Top Ten Memories of Aiken (the Town I Grew Up In)

aiken-sc-logoI grew up in the town of Aiken SC. It was a great town to grow up in. The population was between 25-30k when I lived there. I moved to Aiken from Columbia SC when I was 6 after my folks split up. My mom moved my brother and I to Aiken because she got a job teaching at Aiken High School. It became what I will always consider my hometown even though I really only lived there for 12 years. But it was a great 12 years. Here are my top ten memories of those days from 1964-1976.

The Family I Had – It was just me, my Mom, and my brother. Columbia and my dad and grandma were 60 miles away. My dad and my mom got along very well – much better than when they were married. But being an hour away meant that seeing him was not all that easy. My mom did a great job as a single parent of taking care of us. My brother Scott was only 11 months younger than I was and we always got along but we were very different in terms of the things we liked to do. Despite my folks divorce I was very blessed with my family.

The Places I Lived – I lived in two different houses while in Aiken. 1) 633 Aldrich Street: A small one story 3 bedroom house in Crosland Park. It was a great little neighborhood that had a tree fort behind my house, minimally trafficked roads to ride bikes on, and friends within walking distance.  2) 848 Oleander Drive: A two story 4 bedroom off Whiskey Rd near the Polo Grounds. Good friends all around where I honed my basketball, baseball, and football skills because we were always hanging out and playing something.

The Schools I Attended – I attended North Aiken Elementary for 1-4 grades. For some reason I still remember all my teachers from there. 1st – Wessinger, 2nd – Sanders, 3rd – Fripp, 4th – Herndon. It was after 4th grade that we moved across town. I spent 5th and 6th grades at Aiken Elementary. 7-8th grades at Kennedy Junior High. 9-10th grades at Schofield and 11-12th grades at Aiken High School. This was right after school integration took place which is why my high school days were split between two schools. Schofield had been the black high school and Aiken the white high school prior to integration.

The Sports I Played – I played little league baseball all the way through Pony League and then played for my high school. Baseball was always my favorite sport and shortstop was my favorite position. Though in high school I was an outfielder my junior year and second baseman my senior year. The other sport I played a lot of was tennis – primarily because my mom loved to play ( and incidentally still loves to play at 80 years old). I played for my high school as a freshman and sophomore. I got into playing soccer rather late – played my senior year in high school because of the influence of some good friends.I also learned to play golf in Aiken and still remember getting my very first eagle on #3 at Highland Park Country Club.

The Friends I Enjoyed – I won’t be naming names here because I’m sure I would leave someone out but… I was very blessed to have  incredible friends around me through all my years in Aiken. In fact, I can count on two fingers the # of people I have stayed connected with from college but there are too many to count from my Aiken days. If you are reading this and you are from Aiken, thank you for helping to make my years there an unforgettable time in my life.

The City I Loved – I have not been back to Aiken in many years but I know that it has grown a lot since I left. But when I lived there it was small town living at its best. It was safe for kids to play outside by themselves or ride their bikes to school or stay out after dark or talk to strangers. And I always thought Aiken was a beautiful town with the big old oak trees on South Boundary and all the horse stuff and polo grounds scattered around. It had a quaint downtown and was close enough to the “big” city of Augusta if there was something Aiken did not have.

The Deaths I Endured –  1) I was 13 years old and I remember my mom coming into my room and telling me that my dad had died of a heart attack. He was 42. I was in the 8th grade. His early death became much more significant to me when I became a dad. I didn’t want to die that early and leave my kids fatherless at a young age. So I have tried to exercise regularly and get annual checkups and keep my cholesterol and blood pressure under control. 2) I was 16 years old and I remember my mom coming into my room in the middle of the night and telling me that my uncle (my dad’s brother) and his wife and son were killed in a single engine plane crash. My Uncle Alan had tried to look out for me after my dad’s death – often inviting me to Columbia to see the Gamecocks play basketball.

The History I Lived Through – A lot of significant things happened in our country between 1964 and 1976. The Civil Rights Movement. Assassinations of RFK and MLK. Vietnam. Watergate. The Beatles. Elvis. Munich Olympics tragedy. Secretariat. The Energy Crisis. Hank Aaron hitting #715. Jaws. Charlie’s Angels. Disco. Roe v. Wade. Apollo 11. Apollo 13. And my personal favorite: The New York Mets winning the 1969 World Series – going from last to first.

The Experiences I Gained – I experienced a lot of “firsts” while I was in Aiken: first driver’s license, first broken bone, first date, first girlfriend, first kiss, first heartbreak, first best friend, first time on stage (Who’s On First routine by Abbot and Costello for HS variety show), first speeding ticket, first wrecked car, first time on a motorcycle, first time to go The Masters. I have blogged about my love of The Masters several times.
Top Ten Masters Memories
Memories of the Masters
Easter and the Masters
Amen Corner – A Metaphor for My Life

The Faith I Developed – I was born into a Jewish family in Columbia. When we moved to Aiken, religious involvement was not a priority for my mom so I essentially grew up knowing nothing about God. It was not until around 9th grade that I began attending First Presbyterian Church at the invitation of my next door neighbor and best friend Charles England. I went to youth group with him and began to get introduced to God and Christianity. The pastor was Jerry Robinson and his son Tim was also one of my good friends and I would hang out at his house a lot. Over the next few years I began to understand more and more: That God was holy and righteous. That I was sinful and separated from God and rightly deserving of His wrath. That Jesus was indeed the Messiah and lived a perfect life and was therefore able to atone for my sin and reconcile me to God. That His resurrection validated everything He said and did and that the only reasonable response on my part was to repent and turn away from sin and to place my faith in Him as the only one who make things right with God and give me eternal life. As a junior in high school I did this – though it took several years for me really grasp all that faith in Christ meant. But that decision completely changed the trajectory of my life.

After I left Aiken I lived in New Orleans for 4 years. The Boston area for 2 years. Raleigh for 11 years. And now Durham, NC for the last 24 years – a city that I love. But Aiken will always be my hometown.


Top Ten Memories From My College Years

I graduated from Aiken High School in 1976. I applied to 4 colleges: Duke, Cornell, Clemson and Tulane.  I got put on a wait list at Duke. I did not get into Cornell. And I got accepted to both Clemson and Tulane. I chose to go to Tulane for several reasons: 1) At the time I wanted to go to a school different from where all my friends were going (I’m not sure that I would make that same decision today), 2) It had a very good Engineering department, 3) my granddad went to Tulane, and 4) New Orleans – it seemed like a fun place to do college.

I was at Tulane from August of 1976 through May of 1980. Here are ten of my memories from those years… in no particular order.


  1. I majored in Biomedical Engineering – Biomedical Engineering was still a relatively new field in those days. I had always had an interest in medicine and I had always been pretty good at math and science so it seemed like a good fit. I had no problem with the book side of the major – finished with a B average, but I was not very good at the application part – which is pretty much what engineering is all about. So while I enjoyed the major, it was clear to me by my junior year that I would not make a living as an engineer.
  2. Sigma Alpha Epsilon – Many of you reading this will be surprised that I was a frat guy. Me too. Here’s how it happened. I knew exactly zero people when I arrived at Tulane. My roommate became my first friend. He had been impressed with the guys he met during pledge week at SAE and encouraged me to go by the house and check it out. Which I did. They extended me an invitation to join and I accepted along with my roommate. I was pretty active for my first 3 years but then was inactive my senior year. I never lived at the frat house but enjoyed getting to know a lot of the guys over the years.
  3. Intramurals – The fraternity gave me an opportunity to be involved in sports while at Tulane. Back in the day I was a really fast runner. I still remember several fly patterns I ran for touchdowns during football season. I also played softball and soccer – having played baseball and soccer in high school. Good times. Fun memories.
  4. Running – It was while I was in college that I began running. One of the nice things about New Orleans is that it is flat. And one of the nice things about Tulane is that it was right across from Audobon Park – a great place to run that took you down by the Mississippi River. I set a goal for 1979 to run 700 miles – which is only about 2 miles per day but it meant that I had to be disciplined to get it done. Which i am proud to say that I did. I ended up running until I was about 45 and then realized that I had never really enjoyed it like some people do – so I became a walker instead. Which I still do.
  5. Andre, Pete, Jason – I finished up my high school days with a lot of good friends, many of who I am still connected to today – thanks to Facebook. I had three guys that I would consider good friends while I was at Tulane. Pete – my roommate freshman year, Jason – my roommate sophomore year. And Andre – my suite-mate sophomore year and fraternity brother. Both Pete and Jason transferred away from Tulane and I have lost touch with them – haven’t been able to find them on FB. Andre, a Louisiana cajun, moved to South Carolina not long after college. We still stay in touch and occasionally see each other.
  6. New Orleans – New Orleans was an interesting place to do college. But it is not a city I would want to live in. Way to hot and humid for me. Still, lots of fun memories: The French Quarter, jazz music, great food, Cafe Du Monde and beignets, Mardi Gras, streetcars, Audobon Park, the Mississippi River, the Garden District, and sporting events…
  7. Sporting Events – I was able to attend two once in a lifetime sporting events while I was in college: 1) I went to Super Bowl XII in January of 1978 between Dallas and Denver. I got to see Roger Staubach lead the Cowboys to a 27-10 victory over the Broncos. Andre and I were able to scalp tickets outside the Superdome – face value was only $35 back then. I got my ticket for $50. 2) I was also able to see Muhammed Ali win the heavyweight title for the 3rd time in September of 1978 in a unanimous decision over Leon Spinks. History and a sporting icon at the same time.
  8. Cru – My first full day in my dorm freshman year there was a knock on my door – A Campus Crusade for Christ staff guy introduced himself and so began my involvement. I was a very young, immature Christian when I went to Tulane and the Lord used this ministry to disciple me and help prepare me for my future. I was able to be involved in leadership in several ways over the years. Josh McDowell came to our campus when I was a sophomore and I had a chance to give him a ride from school to his hotel. But the transforming highlight of my involvement was participation in CCC Beach project following my junior year.
  9. Hearing God’s Voice – I have detailed this experience HERE. But suffice to say that it was while I was at Tulane that God spoke to me loud and clear in ways that changed the trajectory of my life. I am very grateful that He  intervened in my life in supernatural ways rather than letting me follow my own path. I suspect that my life would have turned out far differently if God had not stepped in. I have been incredibly blessed over the years and take great joy in knowing that the Lord is guiding my way.
  10. A Song and a Kiss – Linda and I met in Galveston, Texas and began dating while we were both on the CCC Beach Project. At the end of the project she traveled with me back to New Orleans before flying home to NC. We had a magical night together that featured supper in the French Quarter at The Chart House, yummy stuff from Cafe Du Monde, our first kiss in Jackson Square, and me telling her I loved her for the first time – as we hung out on one of the quads at Tulane and I sang and played on my guitar Jim Croce’s song “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song.

Good times! Good memories!


2016 Christmas Letter


Better late than never, right…

Grace and Peace to you as we celebrate the incarnation. As seems to happen every year, 2016 has been a blur. This was not a year that involved health issues or big trips or career changes or major crises. It was a year for us to enjoy the many, many ways that we have been blessed. We both turned 58 years old this summer and realize just how young we still are – though our bodies often remind us to the contrary. Here are a few highlights that you may or may not already know about:

  • us1Linda is in her 12th year as a school counselor at Carrington Middle School. She enjoys her job, most of the time, and does her best to advocate on behalf of students who are dealing with lots of family and cultural challenges.
  • Shay is in his 24th year at Ridgecrest Baptist Church serving as Pastor of Discipleship Ministries. He would tell you that he hasn’t worked for several decades because “if you find a job that you love you never have to work a day in your life.”
  • In May, Scott and Mary moved in with us as their lease was up and they were figuring out what was next for them. We had 4 months with them as they transitioned from their jobs into full time ministry and had their first child who chose to enter this world 6 weeks early. It was awesome to have them living with us before they moved 10 hours away to Mississippi – and took our grandson with them.

Here are a few snippets about each of our kids…



Christy and Chad: Married 8 years in June. Son Grayson turned 4 in November. Son Bowen turned 1 last January. Son, as yet unnamed, to be born in April ’17. Chad continues to serve as Missions Pastor at Crosspoint Church in Clemson SC. Christy continues to provide fun learning experiences for the boys as a stay at home mom.

reyner11Scott and Mary: Married 2 years in November. Son Keller Shay born 6 weeks early on July 29. Scott finished 3 years of teaching math at Carrington Middle School. Mary left her job as Occupational Therapist from Duke Regional. End of September moved to Starkville, Mississippi where Scott now serves as Kid’s Pastor at Pinelake Church. Mary is living her dream as a stay at home wife and mom.



Tucker and Danielle: Married 3 years in May. Expecting first child in June ’17. They are still living in Wilmington NC. Danielle works as an ophthalmic assistant at Wilmington Eye. Tucker works part time at Port City Java as a barista and part time at The Bridge Church as the Connections Director. Tucker graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in December with his M.Div.


Much grace and peace to you as you anticipate all that the Lord has in store for you in 2017.

A Prayer for Keller

Keller Shay Reyner
Born: July 29, 2016 (6 weeks early)
Parents: Scott and Mary Reyner

“… the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)


Screen shot 2016-08-13 at 11.28.43 AMI am very grateful for the gift of this little boy to our family. I am very grateful for the way You sovereignly orchestrated his birth and protected him in the womb and provided for his safe and early arrival. I am very grateful for the mom and dad that You have given him and for their desire to raise him to be a man after Your own heart.

And so I pray that his heart will be captured by Your amazing grace and audacious love even now as he is barely two weeks old. And I pray that as his mom and dad sing over him and read your Word to him in these early days of his life that he will know Your presence and experience Your abiding peace and enjoy the pleasure that You take in him.

Would You use me to be the kind of Pop Pop that reflects Christ to him always. Use his grandmothers to demonstrate the love of Christ to him as they shower him with tenderness and love. Use his aunts and uncles and cousins to help him to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And use Scott and Mary to parent him in a way that he never doubts just how loved he is and to know the power of redeeming love.

May he grow to be a man of hope in a world that will be full of heartache and hopelessness. May he grow to be a man of courage among a people that often seek the safety of their own selfishness. May he grow to be a man that hungers to know Your Word and to live it out in a way that exalts Your great name. And may Your joy give him the strength that he needs to fight sin and overcome the evil one in an age that is becoming more and more anti-God.

Father, thank you for Keller. You are a gracious God and he is a gracious gift and may his life demonstrate throughout his days the awesomeness of Your saving, sanctifying, and sufficient grace. Amen.

Top Ten – Masters Memories

Screen shot 2016-04-07 at 3.26.48 PMThis is the first of a series of “Top Ten” posts that I plan on doing over the next few years. I thought it appropriate, since my favorite golf tournament teed off today, to start with my top ten Master’s memories. These are confined to memories from my lifetime – whether I saw them in person or on the telly. I started going to The Masters around 1968 when I lived in Aiken SC thanks to the generosity of 1) friends who stayed at our house who had tickets and 2) my 1st cousin Alan who graciously allowed me to use his tickets many times over the years. The Master’s is the greatest golf tournament in the world and I have had the fortune to watch some of the greatest in the game make some of the most memorable shots ever recorded. So here are 10 of my favorite memories from Augusta National…

1) Over the years I have probably been to Augusta National 30+ times. And as much as I have enjoyed going I have also loved being able to take people with me who have never ever been – and then watching them fall in love with the course. One of my favorite memories is from the late 70’s when I took my buddy Andre Hawkins (a Tulane University suite mate). He was a huge Jack Nicklaus fan and when we walked on to the course and he saw him on the 1st tee he broke out into goosebumps because he was so excited. That happens a lot at The Masters.

2) This time of year it is not uncommon to see people proudly sporting their Master’s gear – hats, shirts, etc. Augusta National is very proud of their branding and it is not inexpensive to buy Master’s paraphernalia. But their concessions are  very affordable. I always look forward to getting their ham on rye sandwiches at the course, They are very yummy.

3) Nowadays you are not allowed to do any autograph seeking on the course side of the clubhouse. I was able to twice get Jack’s autograph as he walked from the practice tee back to the clubhouse. But in the early days of my going I got two autographs I am very proud of on the course side: 1) In 1972, I saw this 20 year old kid who was playing in his first Master’s standing near the 1st fairway with no one around him. I went and asked him for his autograph which he was glad to give me. In 1984 he won his 1st green jacket and then added a 2nd in 1995. His name was Ben Crenshaw. 2) In 1973, Tommy Aaron won the Masters. But he had to hold off a hard charging Jack Nicklaus who shot 66 in the final round and finished tied for 3rd. I had followed him around the course that day. When Jack exited the scoring tent just behind the 18th green he was mobbed by hundreds of people, including me, trying to get an autograph. I was several rows of people deep but thrust my arm through the crowd and somehow he grabbed my pad and pen, signed it, and even more miraculously got it back into my hand. I still have that autograph… somewhere.

4) In 1993 Bernhard Langer won the Master’s. It was his 2nd green jacket, having also won in 1985. The Sunday that he won also happened to be Easter Sunday. Langer is a very strong believer. I remember him saying after he had donned the green jacket that he considered it a great blessing to win The Master’s on the same day that we celebrate Christ rising from the dead.

5) Of course one of my favorite memories is from 1986. As a Nicklaus fan for many years and having followed him around Augusta dozens of rounds, I was thrilled to see him him win his 6th green jacket. Here is one of the most iconic moments in Master’s history:

6) One of the other iconic moments is when Tiger chipped in on #16 as he clawed his way to victory in 2005 for his 4th win and his last at The Master’s.

7) In 2004 I was out of the country on a missions trip to Jamaica during The Master’s. On Sunday afternoon I was very surprised to find a TV that picked up the telecast. A bunch of us from the team huddled around the TV and watched Phil win his first Master’s and then make his incredibly goofy jump into the air to celebrate. A jump I will never forget.

8) In 1986, 1987, and 1996 Greg Norman managed NOT to win The Master’s in very memorable ways. In ’86 he was tied for the lead going to #18, made bogey and lost to Nicklaus. In 1987, he lost to Larry Mize on the 2nd playoff hole when Mize chipped in from off the green. And in 1996 he blew a 6 shot lead on Sunday and lost to Nick Faldo who said, “It was the only time I felt sorry for someone I’d beaten.”

9) I will include 2 memories here just because they have similarity. In 1997 Tiger exploded on to the golf world with his 12 stroke victory over Tom Kite at -18. And then last year when Jordan Spieth made a definitive statement when he also shot -18 and finished 4 strokes ahead of Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose.

10) I will also include 2 memories here from the 2012 Master’s. The first memory is when Louis Oosthuizen made double eagle on #2 to vault him into contention. The 2nd memory is Bubba Watson’s shot from the woods on #10 – the 2nd sudden death playoff hole – an incredible gap wedge that he hooked 40 yards to put on the green and win him the championship over Oosy.

In years past I have written a couple of other Master’s related posts. If interested you can check them out here…

Amen Corner – A Metaphor for My Life

Easter and the Masters

Memories of the Masters – I wrote this 5 years ago – it has a few of the same things I mention here but also some that I don’t mention

Pondering the Word – Joshua 24:14-15


 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.  But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

The word that stands out in these verses is the word “choose.” I remember very clearly the day that I had to “choose for (my)self this day.”

It was January of 1977. I was a freshman at Tulane University in New Orleans, La. I had become a Christian during my junior year of high school – or at least thought I had. I played at being a Christian, especially when I was at church and around church people. But I also did some partying and participated in un-Christ like behavior. This continued on into my 1st year of college.

The first week I was at Tulane 2 things happened that epitomized this: 1) I got involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and 2) I joined a fraternity. I played at being a Christian when I was around CCC and I did some partying when I was around the fraternity. Now, to be clear, I was not a wild party animal – but I did take advantage of some frat parties and the French Quarter of New Orleans to demonstrate un-Christ like behavior. I knew that I was being double-minded.

TulaneIn January, shortly after second semester had begun, I had a “choose this day” moment. I was walking across campus from my fraternity (where I had just eaten lunch) heading back to my dorm. As I passed beneath a tree not far from the frat house I was stopped in my tracks by what I can only explain as the voice of God. It was not a voice that thundered from the heavens that anybody else could hear but it was a voice that thundered in my spirit – just as if God had spoken out loud. And very clearly the voice said, “Choose! You have been straddling the fence between my kingdom and the kingdom of this world and now it is time to choose which one you will serve.”

I don’t know if you have ever had an undeniable God moment like that or not where you have heard God speak as if it were out loud. It has happened to me 3 times – at 3 significant crisis moments in my life. This was the first time. So I had a decision to make. I knew that I could not continue to play the game I had been playing. I had to choose!

So I know what the Israelites where thinking when Joshua told them to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites” or the Lord God. Life is full of choices. But there comes a point when we have to decide one way or the other who we are going to serve. So if you have not already done so, I will echo what Joshua said…


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