AlongTheWay

Getting the Heart on Paper - Ken Abraham’s Journey AlongTheWay 24

September 16, 2019 John Matarazzo / Ken Abraham Season 1 Episode 24
AlongTheWay
Getting the Heart on Paper - Ken Abraham’s Journey AlongTheWay 24
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AlongTheWay
Getting the Heart on Paper - Ken Abraham’s Journey AlongTheWay 24
Sep 16, 2019 Season 1 Episode 24
John Matarazzo / Ken Abraham

Best Selling Author, Ken Abraham started as a drummer in “The Watchmen” but after he wrote his first book he knew that there were more books to come in God’s plan for his life. He has written 95+ books for amazing people from Buzz Aldrin to Bill Gaither, Jim Baker to Joel Osteen, John Ashcroft to Joe Gibbs and so many more.

Hear how God redeems and doesn’t let any experience go to waste

His AlongTheWay moments include 

  • Drummer in “The Watchmen”
  • Don’t Bite the Apple Until You Check For Worms
  • Finding purpose writing other people’s stories
  • Write what you DON’T KNOW… LEARN ABOUT IT!
  • Nothing is wasted, God uses every experience 

Books Recommended

“Loving God” - Chuck Coulson

David McCullough

Ken’s Info

Ken’s Website

Ken’s Books on Amazon

Ken’s Facebook

AlongTheWay Links

Watch episodes of RealLife

Email Me

More episodes and Social links for AlongTheWay

Show Notes Transcript

Best Selling Author, Ken Abraham started as a drummer in “The Watchmen” but after he wrote his first book he knew that there were more books to come in God’s plan for his life. He has written 95+ books for amazing people from Buzz Aldrin to Bill Gaither, Jim Baker to Joel Osteen, John Ashcroft to Joe Gibbs and so many more.

Hear how God redeems and doesn’t let any experience go to waste

His AlongTheWay moments include 

  • Drummer in “The Watchmen”
  • Don’t Bite the Apple Until You Check For Worms
  • Finding purpose writing other people’s stories
  • Write what you DON’T KNOW… LEARN ABOUT IT!
  • Nothing is wasted, God uses every experience 

Books Recommended

“Loving God” - Chuck Coulson

David McCullough

Ken’s Info

Ken’s Website

Ken’s Books on Amazon

Ken’s Facebook

AlongTheWay Links

Watch episodes of RealLife

Email Me

More episodes and Social links for AlongTheWay

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/AlongTheWay)

Ken Abraham :

You got to sell a lot of books, you had to make a house payment. And so it got to a place where I said, God, I know you've called me to do this, and I'm here, and I'm available to you. But I can't make a living at this. Most of the people that I work with, they could write their own books, but for some reason they call me. And I've discovered that if I, if I go in, and I'm a bit of a friend, and I'm a bit of a counselor, sometimes, and a bit of a pastor, and sometimes a little bit of a psychologist, and sometimes a little bit of a psychiatrist. If I do all those things, well, I might have the opportunity to put the nouns and verbs in the right order.

John Matarazzo :

Welcome to along the way. I'm John Matarazzo. Your host and fellow traveler. Thank you for joining me along my way is I try to become more like Jesus every day. I love talking with fascinating people and learning how God has met them along their way. In this episode of along the way, my journey connects me with best selling author, and my dad's old college roommate, Ken Abraham. 18 of his books have been read on the New York Times bestsellers list, and as of this recording has written 95 books. Ken has authored books from some truly amazing people from Buzz Aldrin to Bill Gaither, Jim Bakker to Joe Steen, john ashcroft, to Joe Gibbs, and so many more. When I was in Nashville, I met up with Ken to find out how, as he likes to say, he gets the heart on paper. I'll get to the interview in just a moment. But I want to make sure that you know, you can hear all my episodes, even the ones that you've missed by visiting my website along the way, dot media, or simply subscribing wherever you get your podcast. I'm also on Facebook and Instagram. And you can keep in touch by emailing me at John along the way at gmail. com. My social links the web address or the show notes. I look forward to hearing from you. And now here's my along the way conversation with Ken Abraham. Can Abraham, thank you so much for being on along the way with me, it's going to be fun to hear about your journey of how God has been with you along your way.

Ken Abraham :

Thank you, john is great to be with you. And yeah, it's been a journey for me. I can't believe I'm this old.

John Matarazzo :

Well, I've known about you pretty much my whole life because you and my dad were friends in college. That's right. From the stories that I've heard. You would come and crash on his couch in his dorm because you live close to there. I did. Yeah. So before we get into that interview, can you just tell me a little bit about what life was like with my dad is a young?

Ken Abraham :

Those can be dangerous. Well, actually, your dad was a great friend to me. And I was a relatively new Christian at that time. Okay, really brand new. And yeah, I grew up in a bar. My dad owned the bar, literally owned the bar, the biggest bar in the county, where your dad and I went to college. My dad owned the biggest bar in the county there. So I'm that was my that was my background, but I just became a Christian. And so I was bumping into people like your dad and your Uncle Jim. And these guys were showing me a different kind of life than I knew. Because most of the Christians that I had seen prior to that time, were pretty boring. Yeah, they're just okay. I hate to say it, but my real images of Christianity were just like, okay, you're giving up everything. It's going to be doll is going to be dismal. You're going to be a sourpuss for the rest of your life, but you are going to go to heaven. In the end, you're going to go to heaven eventually. But when I met your brother, it was a whole different kind of thing. Your dad I'm sorry. Yeah. And and your uncle as well. It was a whole different kind of thing. There was life there. And you know, and these guys were excited about serving the Lord and they were excited about what God was going to do. And we were all young and silly and foolish and naive and our our aspirations and our dreams, but it was like, okay, God's gonna use us to touch people's lives and maybe touch the world. And it's amazing to me looking back at that, you know, how the Lord shaped So Scott, thanks. So yeah, we, you know, we had to learn a bunch. You're, but your dad was very instrumental in my life. So thank you. Yeah, that's your whole family dearly. Your whole family has been a blessing to my to my family.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, I remember the first time that I actually met you, you were a guest on the his place program. Oh, yeah. I'm not exactly sure how my parents found out about it. Maybe we were watching the live episode. And then we decided hey, Ken, Abraham's there right now. Let's go studio. Only five miles from where my parents live. We like sitting at the table. Yeah, I do. My sister and I were like, Dad doesn't really know this guy. Yeah, he says he knows them. Okay. And then you see my dad on a distance and you're like, row? Barely. Yeah. Oh, this is cool. Yeah, really. It hadn't Sanchez.

Ken Abraham :

I'm not sure if I had moved to Nashville. By that time or not. You did? Yeah. Because for a while I was doing a lot with his place. When I lived in the Pittsburgh area. I grew up in western Pennsylvania, right little town of climber, Pennsylvania. couple hours, well, by an hour and a half out of Pittsburgh twice to get to this place quite often. And actually, when they start first started the show. Yeah. And I was always glad to be on the show and enjoyed the people there. But then when I moved to Nashville, I didn't get back that often. So when I did it was really special for me. Yeah.

John Matarazzo :

So what was the thing that they were talking to you about on

Ken Abraham :

his OJ? Probably the new book. Yeah. Because at that time I started writing. Yeah, okay. When I lived in western Pennsylvania, I used to work with a band, the band was called the watchman. And a lot of people in western Pennsylvania were familiar with us. We eventually changed the name to Abraham. Okay, because we had all these Abraham's in the band, and some guy said, watchman man, sounds like four old guys singing around the piano. Changing again, Abraham says, sounds Jewish. So we changed the name to Abraham and India, we continue to work more in a contemporary kind of Christian music, and we did a lot of things with monolith ever and broken heart. Okay. Yeah, that was the kind of stuff we did. So along the way, though, I started writing, probably, I think some of the first books I did, I literally wrote on the bus on the tour bus. Oh, I haven't down to highways, yet. A lot of time on those Jordans. You know, you not much to do, you can go to the back, go to the front and back and watch TV. Yeah. So I started writing. And I wrote this little book, actually, it wasn't a little book, it was a great big book called don't bite the apple till you check for worms. And it was a book about love sex, dating, being single how to find the right person that God has for you all that sort of thing. And I made every mistake that a young writer could make, okay, I didn't study the market. I didn't know who was buying what kind of books I didn't know which publishers were publishing what I just felt compelled to write this book, because every night after our concerts, we'd have an invitation for people to meet Christ. And a lot would we have like 100 or 200 Kids almost every night for 20 years out there on the road, would would come and respond to the invitations. So we didn't focus on selling records or all the rest, that kind of stuff. We focused on seeing people get saved and their lives changed and filled with the Holy Spirit and going out and becoming disciples for the Lord. That was what our ministry was all about. But in that process there every night after a concert, we'd be praying with people till midnight when one o'clock in the morning at the auditoriums. Meanwhile, the custodians are saying, will you guys get out of here? Yeah, we please leave, you know. But it would always be some young lady or a guy or somebody young ladies, usually a lot of times would have dating issues and say I'm dating this guy's good guys got a great car. So is he a Christian? No, no, no, no, he's not. But he treats me great. You know? What is he? Does he know the Lord? Well, no, but he's really yeah. So I wrote this little book, don't bite the apple. Until you check for worms. There are a lot of shiny apples out there, but you want the one that God has for you. And really, I wrote it in self defense, because I wanted something I could give to these kids after a concert and say here, I don't have time to talk to you, you know, at length about all this, but here's some things that might help you. And the book just took off. And that was the first book that I wrote for a major publisher and it started kicking in gear a guy had me come into Detroit, Michigan and do some things on the radio there and TV and speaking some churches there. And it just it just exploded. And you know, I still get letters to this day all these years later, from people who found that book somewhere. Don't write a check for worms. But be I wrote it in self defense so I could get here. Yes.

John Matarazzo :

So you became an author by accident? Almost.

Ken Abraham :

Yeah. I always wanted to write talk. My dad owned a bar, literally a bar in a coal mining town called climber, Pennsylvania. So I would go to work with him at five o'clock in the morning. He opened at seven. And in little western Pennsylvania coal mining town. guys were either going out to the coal mines or coming in from the coal mines around seven o'clock. And the place that my dad owned was not a fancy lounge or anything like that. It was a bar. Yeah. And and guys coming in filthy dirty or going out, filthy dirty to them. But my dad knew them so well. They were regular customers. He'd had their drinks on the counter whenever they came in. Oh, wow. So I'd go with him to clean up every morning at five in the morning. We opened at seven. But it was too dark. Usually in the wintertime, especially in Pennsylvania. My mom didn't want me to come home. At seven in the morning, I would stay behind the bar with my dad. And I would write stories about the guys who came to my dad's bar. I can still remember some of those names. To this day, Patsy Porto and bcb Danko, and Mike happens, it was a culture. Yeah. And I would write these silly little stories behind the bar. And I made a little newspaper I wrote about the literally games and all these other kinds, but that's where I started writing. And it was just kind of like something to do. So I always wanted to be a writer. But when I went to college where I met your dad, I was actually majoring in psychology and I was going to probably go into education.

John Matarazzo :

Okay. Yeah. So why didn't you go into right into English or writing for that?

Ken Abraham :

You know, it just never even occurred to me. I didn't see that as a career at that point. Okay. Yeah. I liked it. I did all this stuff. Like in school, you know, editor, the new school newspaper and all that sort of thing. I really liked it. But I didn't see it as, as something I could make a living at. And making a living as a writer is, yeah, it's like making a living as a musician. It's a miracle in itself. Yeah. I actually, I thought I was going to be like a high school guidance counselor, or something like that. It's kind of cool, though. Because I look back on the things that I learned in the college where your dad and I attended. You know, you say, Well, that's all useless stuff. But no, it hasn't been I've used every bit of that, you know, the psychology with the, the courses that I've taken there, they've all worked together, God does have a plan that he takes even some of the things you don't understand. And it's a cumulative thing where he uses all those things. It's good to continue to shape our lives. And he sure did mine I even though I didn't know it. But right around that time, I really felt a strong call from the Lord, to study the Scripture and to really know what I was talking about. And so I transferred from Indiana to Asbury college and Asbury Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky, there is where I really had some of the most deep and formative spiritual experiences of my life. That's the place where God said, Okay, now who's in charge? Are you going to run this thing? Are you going to let me run this thing? And that was where I had to lay my life down and say, okay, Lord, it's yours. Wherever you you want to take me whatever you want to do in my life. I'm yours. I did go back and work with my brothers, again, within music, or for 20 years, we were on the road for 20 years,

John Matarazzo :

20 years, and you were writing at the same time writing

Ken Abraham :

at the same time, I wrote most of the songs that we sang. And as well as start writing books, and I think I did nine books while I lived in Pennsylvania there. Okay. Yeah. And it was it was just a neat start. Because of the music we had an audience. Right, right. So I had a built in market for the books as well, but also had a good relationship with radio and magazines and things like that. So it was a little easier to promote, than if you're just starting out as a writer cold. That's, that's hard. So yeah, there was an audience there that was interested in what we were doing and what I had to say. And that made made things a little bit easier to get started. Yeah.

John Matarazzo :

Well, you just mentioned that God spoke to you while you were at school. And I love asking about how God speaks to people and how you hear God speak. But do you remember the first time that you realize that you heard God speak to you,

Ken Abraham :

I grew up going to church grew up going to camp meeting with my mom, that sort of thing. So I we were we were always surrounded by you know, God's God, speaking to people and the Spirit of the Lord working and revival, that kind of thing. But remember, my dad owned the biggest bar in the county. So I was in two different world, right? So it wasn't until I made that real commitment to the Lord that I began to hear from the Lord myself. And a lot of us through the scripture itself. It was through prayer, of course, some was through wise counselors speaking into my life, and it wasn't a bad and I remember it Wilkins Burke at a church there that you've probably attended. There was a time where some pastors got together at a church there. And this was right about that same time where I was saying, What am I supposed to be doing? And they didn't know me. But they gathered around, they prayed for me, and one of the guys there in that group had a word from God, he says, I really feel like you're going to do something in writing of books. I hadn't written any books at that point, I was a drummer in a band. Yeah. And so it was just a very strange thing. But I heard that and it spoke to me. And so in a very real way, God use somebody else to speak into my life. Now, you got to be careful of that. Because Absolutely not. Every word that you hear is something that God is saying. But he did confirm that in my spirit and confirmed it through other things. And when I began to push it on those doors, you know, they opened and that part of that was whenever I left Indiana, okay? And went to Asbury, my dad, who was not a Christian at that time said, Why don't you just stay here to Indiana, finish your education here. And then if you want to go study the Bible, go ahead. It made good business sense. My dad was a good businessman. But I really felt John that God was speaking to me saying you need to go now. And it made no financial sense. And I had I didn't know anybody there. But I knew that they had had a big revival there at that College, where the Spirit of the Lord came in, and literally, they canceled classes for a week. And people were getting saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. One of the local pastors stood up at that time. He said, I've been a pastor here for 13 years at this particular big church, he says, and I've hated you people. Yeah, yeah. It was that kind of powerful revival. It was it wasn't just putting up a sign and saying, we're going to have some services. It was a supernatural spiritual revival. So this pastor

John Matarazzo :

repented.

Ken Abraham :

Yeah. And his wife. Wow. Yeah. And, and actually, I just a little bit backward. It was his wife said that, and he had stood up and said, I've been pestering this church, big church. And he said, I've not always won the battles with lust in the chambers of my imagination. Isn't it interesting. I still remember him saying that. Yeah, that's exactly what he said, I have not always won the battles with lust in the chambers of my imagination. That's probably true for all of us. But this was the leading pastor in the area and standing up and saying this, and people were just Yeah, Yeah, me too. You know, and his wife standing up, we've been here for these years, and I've hated you. Whoa. But she says, God has done a fresh work in my life. And I asked you to forgive me. And he's changing me and I want to be a better Christian. I want to I want to love you. It was that kind of supernatural revival that took place there and went on not just for a day, but went on for seven solid days, were at no point where they're less than 500 people in that auditorium at any time, all through the night. It was a coolest thing. So I wanted to be where God was doing those kind of things. Absolutely. That was Asbury college, its Asbury University. Now, it's my alma mater. And I went back to the seminary there, which was across the street. So I learned that I knew I wasn't gonna be there for long. But I felt God had called me there to learn as much as I could of him and other scripture in that short period of time. And you know what, when I left there, and in everything I've done since that time, all the music over those 20 years, all the books and like I've done about 95 books, or their Bible projects now since that time, all of that had its foundations back there during those few years that I was intensely studying the Bible.

John Matarazzo :

So God drew you there. He was like, I have to get Ken to Asbury Yeah, or this time. Yeah, cuz it's gonna set him up for the rest of us. Really? Yeah. So weird. I didn't know anything about the place before that time. One pastor, local pastor, this is before the internet. So yeah.

Ken Abraham :

Internet. Yeah, it's actually no way. Yeah, we'd have GPS to find it either. But it was a great school. And if you find if you check it out in history, it's it's put out some some fantastic leaders in in America and around the world, and admissions and really, really cool. But it was transformational for me. for a couple of reasons. Number one, I was coming in, I thought, you know, here I am the cool kid coming in from the university, you know, and I'm going to this little funky school here in Turkey was the first four professors I had were absolutely brilliant. I mean, not just smart. They were absolutely brilliant. But they loved God. They had they had a passion for touching the world. And, and they knew their stuff. And so I was incredibly challenged. I mean, deeply. I studied like crazy. I studied like crazy. And I got good grades, because it was the most important thing for me. I wasn't concerned about playing on the football team, or the basketball team. I love sports. But I knew that God had called me there for that period in my life to prepare for what he wanted to do for the rest of my life.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, it's awesome to see when you know that God has given you purpose for something. And he says, Okay, now here's what I'm going to do to get you equipped. You really jumped in with both feet?

Ken Abraham :

Yeah, I did.

John Matarazzo :

That's what I did. Whenever I did my radio school, I wasn't the best student growing up. And I wasn't very self motivated with that. But whenever God sent me to South Africa, for my radio school, I jumped in with both feet. Sure. And I got the best grades that I've ever gotten in my life. So it's really cool to see that similar experience with you where you knew that God was calling you there. And you were you were there hundred and 10% Oh, yeah,

Ken Abraham :

yeah. And it didn't matter how much time it took, or how much effort or anything like that, I would pour myself into the studies and the ministry at the same time. And then I'm still on the road with my brothers. When I left the school, you know, I'm still on the road with him. And and even sometimes, when I would come home from work, Christmas and other kinds of other breaks throughout the year, I'd go back out on the road with them. But there was there was something different about me. It wasn't just Ken going out and trying to say something or do something, it was going to have some effect. It was the Spirit of the Lord in my life. And through my life. And man that made all the difference in the world.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah. So how did you get from writing a couple books on your own to helping other people write some really impressive books.

Ken Abraham :

Actually, it was again, it was one of those places where you're, you're at a crossroads. Yeah. And I had been here in Nashville. I can't remember how many years I had been here in Nashville at that point. But I had two little girls, and we bought a new house in Nashville had had two new cars. And, and I was struggling to make a living because I was writing books for kids at that time, and then way back then don't bite the apple to check for winners and designer jeans. And some of his other books I wrote early on. They were selling those books for like 595 in the bookstores. Yeah, and I was a fledgling writer, I was a new my, my royalty rate was probably seven to 10%. So you're getting 50 or 60 cents per book, you know? Yeah. And you gotta sell a lot of books. Yeah, to make a house payment. And so it got to a place where I said, God, I know, you've called me to do this, and I'm here, and I'm available to you. So, but I can't make a living at this. Yeah. And I was doing some speaking and some other things at the same time, but we weren't going under. But it was just extremely difficult. I can't make a living take care of my kids, my family. So I'm going to go to this book convention. At that time, it was what they called the CPA convention, the Christian booksellers Association, convention, which is pretty much gone away nowadays. But it was big at that time had about 14,500 people attending this convention. So I'm gonna go to this book convention, all the publishers are there, a lot of writers, music people, and I said, If I don't get some significant work, I'm going to move back to Pennsylvania. I know I can get a job back in Pennsylvania. But, you know, this writing thing isn't working for me. Yeah. So I went to that convention. And I literally at that moment, people were almost throwing projects at me, I remember going down the hallway, and one of the one of the publishers that I knew I knew by name, but I'd never worked with him before he stopped literally in the middle of the hall. And and he stops his kin, said, Man, you are exactly the guy that I'm looking for. And he said, I've got this baseball book I want to do with Gary Carter, who was with the New York Mets and Montreal Expos, he said that and you'd be perfect. He knew that I had a little league background with my dad ran the literally programming, Pennsylvania there for 40 years. And he would be perfect for this. And I I came back from that conference, John, with nine book projects, why nine, nine, you know, real deal contracts, book projects. So this

John Matarazzo :

isn't just like, hey, let's talk more about you know, yeah, you had contract. Yeah.

Ken Abraham :

Yeah. Well, in hand at that time, but agreements sure that we're going to do this. Yeah. And that was a good news. I had nine book projects. The bad news was I had nine deadlines. They don't they don't call them deadline without a reason. We want it we want it now. But one of those books with as I mentioned, was was with Gary Carter, baseball player, professional baseball player, had won the World Series in 1988, and Orel Hershiser beat him in 89, I think. But anyhow, that was my first collaboration with a high profile, celebrity type sports figure, newsmaker, whatever. And I discovered that I loved telling somebody else's story more than I did my own.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, I can relate to that.

Ken Abraham :

Yeah, it's just fun. And it was great. And that was the first and it worked. And then I did Polly's incredible professional golfer, and I started with paint paint Stuart's YM after the plane crash and which he died. Jim Baker's book when he was a ball of heritage USA, they post your call me and say, Would you go over and talk to Jim Baker? He had just gotten out of prison. It's kind of funny because publishers don't always play straight. Okay. They had told Jim, that they wanted to do a book about his prison experience. So Jim was excited about that, because now he's gotten out of prison. He wanted to tell the story and everything. And he had a deeper encounter with the Lord. Oh, yeah.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, absolutely. And the only thing he had to read was The Bible says, right?

Ken Abraham :

Yes, exactly. Right. And it changed his life. So he was excited about talking about those prison years. Well, the publisher told me, they said, We want the whole heritage us a story, the good, the bad, the ugly, everything. Okay. Yeah. So I'm going into my first meeting with Jim Bakker thinking that he's he wants to tell the heritage us a story. He had no clue and had no desire. So anyhow, my first meeting I asked him, I asked him a question that I shouldn't have asked, he just turned on, turned his head to the side like that looked out the window for about half. So I quickly learned this, that wasn't the approach. But it turned out to be a great book. Yes, it was called I was wrong. And it was one of the first major books I had done with a minister. So how

John Matarazzo :

did an actor that half hour ended? How to get back on the same page?

Ken Abraham :

Yeah, I realized that I had to start the beginning. I went back and we start talking about his prison experience. But it was literally it was six months. We worked on that book before I ever asked him about the fall of heritage USA, or BTL. Or Jessica Hahn, or some of these ugly things that took place there. But it turned out to be a great book. And we work so hard on that book, and Jim was great. He had nothing. Franklin Graham had set him up in a little house over in Asheville, little almost like a cabin farm, Kevin, when he you know, when he left heritage know, he was at the top of the world and Oh, yeah. But everybody kind of abandoned him. Sure. And nobody wanted to be around him anymore. But Franklin Graham, set him up, basically paid for any place for him to live. The first week that he was there, Franklin took him to church at Monterey. And then Jim sat in the front the Billy Graham's row is Pew is a and Mrs. Graham, Ruth Graham came in late on purpose. And she made a point of coming in and sitting down right next to Jim Baker. And it was a statement. It was really a cool statement. And one of the one of the most incredible stories that I've ever had chance to tell was Jim Bakker in prison. And when he was there, he was literally cleaning the restrooms and that was not a place you want to be. And he was the captain there for five years they kept in there cleaning the restrooms. Ordinarily, you'd kind of take different put you in different jobs that kept Jim there on purpose. Again, as a statement, and he was cleaning the restroom one day filthy, his tennis shoes, all slimy and everything. And they said, Baker, you've got a visitor. He said, I don't have any visitors. I don't want any visitors. They said no, no, we think you want this visit. So he went to the wardens office and there. There's Jim Bakker in his filthy, commode cleaning clothes. And they're in the wardens office was Billy Graham. And Billy had come to visit Jim Bakker. And he wrapped his arms around Jim Bakker. And Jim just wept. And it was just a turning point in his life. He thought his life was over. He thought nobody ever, you know, cared or whatever, cared to see him ever again. But Billy Graham, you know, he had that kind of courage and that kind. Uh, yeah, the kind of compassion so the grand family really was instrumental in helping Jim get get his life back together when he came out of prison. That's what I was walking into, though. Whenever they kept they asked me to come and tell that story. Okay, yeah. So that was the first major ministry kind of story that I told I've told a bunch since that time, but I found that I love doing the interviews. I love digging in doing the research with people. And since that time, I've done every everybody from Buzz Aldrin who walked on the moon with Neil Armstrong, you know, and Chuck Norris was always fun. Joel Osteen that is a couple of books with Joel. Let's roll was a big book and western Pennsylvania Of course Shanksville.

John Matarazzo :

Right. That's a Beemer.

Ken Abraham :

Yeah, at least a Bama story with flight 93. We did that book. And you know, the cool thing about it, John, all those gifts that God had given to me and the things he'd given to me as kind of a pastoral part, and all the rest of that all came into play with what he had me to do with writing books. Yeah, yeah. Because what I do is more about the heart than it is even the words on the page. Most of the people that I work with, they could write their own books, but for some reason they call me. And I've discovered that if I, if I go in, and I'm a bit of a friend, and I'm a bit of a counselor, sometimes, and a bit of a pastor, and sometimes a little bit of a psychologist, and sometimes a little bit of a psychiatry, if I do all those things, well, I might have the opportunity to put the nouns and the verbs in the right order, okay, if I don't do those things, it's just going to be a magazine article. It would just be a puff piece or whatever. But what I do is we really try to get the heart on paper, right? And to go into those things that hurt and the pain and the adversity that somebody dealt with. And to bring that out on the positive side. I guess if there's any niche that I fallen into that would be my wife says that Barry Manilow wrote the songs that make people cry, if she says you write the books that make people cry. I'm not sure if it's good or bad. But I've done a bunch of them.

John Matarazzo :

So what advice would you have for me about finding those deeper stories, because this is something that I enjoy doing. And I always want to get better as an interviewer better as somebody that's looking for the deeper story in somebody else's life. Sure. Because I want to learn from you. I want to learn from the people that I talk with. And hopefully the people that listen to these as well, are gaining wisdom and knowledge and understanding. Sure from that as well. But what advice would you have for me to do that?

Ken Abraham :

A couple things I think are important. Number one, of course, you need to do your research beforehand. Yeah, I never go into an interview with somebody potential book project without studying as much as I can about that person. It's not always easy to get the whole picture. But you'll get a lot nowadays online, that sort of thing. But you can never really believe what you find online. I mean, there are all kinds of things out there that are absolutely false. And you're walking into an interview with somebody and you're going to base your interview on that you're in trouble. So yeah, you got you have to do your research. But that more than that I am, I try to ask those open ended questions that, you know, most of the people I work with our high profile celebrities are newsmakers they're used to doing interviews, they're used to giving sound bites. sound bites are not what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for the trite little answer or the cutesy thing. I'm looking like, Okay, what were you thinking? What were you feeling? How did that affect your kids? I'll give you a good example. I had one of the toughest books I ever did was with Scott waddle, who was the commander of the USS Greenville, submarine. Okay, that came up too soon, and actually hit a Japanese fishing boat off the shores of Hawaii and killed nine when they said students, but they were basically college agent above. But it was a tragedy. And it was one of the first things in the george bush administration, George W. Bush administration that hit the news. I was trying to work with Scott, he's a nuclear submarine commander to tell the story what he's used to not easy to use to giving brief interviews for or you know, no information at all. And I gotta write this story. And I would have been, you know, just unable to do it had I not had the opportunity to talk to his wife. And we worked. We worked for months on this story. And you know, he's a nuclear submarine guy, he knows nuclear, he's not going to be giving away trade secrets. But when I finally had a chance to talk with his wife, she was the one that told me how all the other kids they lived at Ford Island in Hawaii, Pearl Harbor. That's where they lived. She was when it told me how the all the other kids in the school were making fun of their daughter, your daddy, your dad is the one that you know, destroyed a nuclear submarine, you're dead, you know, and what it was like to be literally drummed out of the Navy. They allowed him to retire. But pretty much it was like, okay, we don't want you to be here anymore. And she brought the emotion that Scott would not let down enough to reveal. And sometimes you have to do that. You have to kind of go around the person. Yeah, I recently did a book with Randy Travis, Randy Travis had a stroke in 2013. Oh, yeah. He couldn't tell me those stories. So I had to go find those stories and bring them back. And then basically, his wife literally read them to Randy, after I'd written them sitting Randy, Is this right? Does that sound right? It took about two years to get that book done. But asking those kind of questions that you you know, the person is much more interested in talking about rather than just sound bites. The other thing, as I mentioned already, I really do try to get the heart on paper. You know, most of the people I work with their stories are out there. They're either in the news, or they've made a mark on society in some way where people know about them. But what Don't they know? You know, what, don't they know what shaped this person? But what are the things that they're passionate about? Those are the kind of questions I like to ask.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, one of the things that I like to do is, if there's going to be somebody that I'm going to be interviewing or somebody that I'm doing a pre interview for, for the TV show, I will look and see where else who else has interviewed them? And then what questions did they miss? Oh, yeah, I want it. Yeah, that's right. Sure, that we talked about? Yeah, that's for sure. But I always want to make sure that I'm trying to grow as an interviewer, and grow as a conversationalist. Because you can learn a lot more in a conversation. And

Ken Abraham :

I find that true. Even now, when people are interviewing me sometimes. And I'll find sometimes, you know, like, somebody will be taking shorthand notes and all that sort of thing. What you're doing here today with me, this is much more effective. Just putting a recorder on let's talk. Yeah, you can't write as fast as you can record. Yeah. And you can go back and listen to that and say, Okay, what are the nuances? Well, you know, but that was gonna be a thing I learned early on in my career. Whenever I'm working with somebody, I maintain eye contact right here. Now, like somebody like Buzz Aldrin, that can be dangerous. Because buzz is So absolutely, he's so brilliant. Okay, he's, he's definitely the the brightest guy I've ever met, really, and, but he is also passionate about space. And the only thing buzz cares about is getting to Mars. So he were in our conversation right now, we'd already we would have been talking about going to Mars probably 20 minutes ago, because that's all he cares about. He doesn't care about the Steelers, he doesn't care about, you know, you know, politics unless they're interested in financing the space program. But, but he and he was so smart. He would talk for hours and hours, but I would record just like we are today. Because I know there's a nugget in there somewhere, right. But if I if I let my gaze down up off here, and he'd be off on to something else. So I just maintain that I contact Yeah,

John Matarazzo :

I totally believe that everybody that God brings us in contact with along our way that he's deposited something in them that we can benefit from learning. Yeah, we can benefit from digging that out of this or And likewise, that people can learn things from us. And so if we're listening to each other through conversations, God will help us dig those things out through the Holy Spirit's. That's right.

Ken Abraham :

Yeah. And there were things even like buzz is a good example of that. Because when in our conversation, he happened to mention that he had taken communion elements to the moon. I had heard about that. Yeah. And and it was a little known story. I said, but you took you took wine or grape juice or something. He said, Yeah, he says we weren't allowed to take very many things. Because the weight issues on the lunar module were very, very crucial. So even down to the number of pens that they took, and that sort of thing. It was everything was accounted for. But they allowed him to take communion elements. And when they first landed on the moon, they shut down the angels they checked to make sure they could get back off the moon. Yeah, the first thing that buzz did was to take communion. And they didn't allow him to say over the air, what he was doing, because there had been a fuss of Apollo eight, where they had read the scriptures, and in the beginning, God and all that sort of thing, from Genesis. So Madeline O'Hara, an atheist lady had put up a big fuss about that. And so the the folks at NASA said, Look, okay, we know you want to do this. Just don't make a big deal about it. On the live, you know, right. broadcasters, yeah. In the transmissions from space. So yeah, so what he did, he said, Let's all give thanks, in our own way, and his own way was taking communion. So the first things that were ever eaten or consumed, any liquids consumed on the moon, were the the elements representing the cross of Jesus Christ, and it's down for us. The buzz did that. Yeah, it was just so cool. Yeah, I got chills. Yeah. So and I suppose we get it right. This? Yeah. Well, okay. So it's that kind of thing. When I worked with Joe last day was is very similar. Joe, some people love Joel, some people get mad at Joe. They say, you know, he doesn't talk about this or that, you know, he knows all that stuff. But he's chosen to do this sort of thing he's doing but I remember when we love that he's reaching the people that God has called him to read. Yeah, exactly. And he knows what he's doing. And it's not accidental. But I remember when we were working on his first book, it was called your best life now. And we got a lot of flack about that title. Even somebody said, You can't have your best life. Now you don't get your best life dear in heaven. But he saying, hey, you could be better now than what you, you have been. I remember, we were talking just around the kitchen table. And sitting there and we were talking about the favor of God, the favor of God, Joe kept coming up using that phrase, the favor of God in the Greek language, just the same word as grace. Cars. And it's the same, same concept as grace. But for Joel, he wasn't talking so much about grace, so much as he was talking about favorite guy said, Man, I've never heard anybody talk about that in that way. And they would, he would talk about his mom being healed God, His mom dodos thing being healed, and the doctors had given up on her. And she'd gone down to 83 pounds or something like that, and her skin had turned yellow. To job. We've got to tell that story. But it came out of just conversations like we're doing right here. And that book went on. And at this point, I think it's sold something like 10 million copies. Oh, my God. Yeah. And it keeps on going. Yeah. So it just, it's just that kind of conversation where you find those things that really matter to that person. And it's been fun for me. Yeah. And I get to live vicariously through all the people that I work with. So it's a matter of continuing education. You know? I'm learning all the time.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, absolutely. You'd have to be because all the people that I mean, I'm looking at the the pile of books on your desk right here. We're in your your office, which has an amazing, beautiful library here. But the people and we have Buzz Aldrin, Randy Travis, you mentioned Chuck Norris. Yeah, you did a boxer. I think too low. George Foreman. Don't forget to meet you. That's a that is a wide variety of people, that you've had interaction and wrote the stories and how do you keep it all straight?

Ken Abraham :

Oh, man. What was funny about George Foreman, especially because I had done a book with john ashcroft before, and john ashcroft is he's just so smart. Yeah, he was the attorney general, the United States, with george bush on 911. Working with him was just incredible. I mean, john, john would use words, I'd have to come home and look up those words. with George, I'd have to come home and make up words. just totally different world, but they were both incredible. And he was so much fun. George was just this gregarious guy. Yeah. But the publishers, I did two books with George I did. One is his life story. And God in my corner, which talks about how he became a Christian after a devastating loss in the boxing ring. You know, he was mean, before that. I mean, George, if you want to see a guy that has been transformed, look at George Foreman before Jesus and Joe reforming after Jesus. Yeah. And that smile and the joy that is in his life. So it was really cool working with him. And but yeah, working with john ashcroft, though before him was just that was difficult. Yeah, I love john and john. He was he was so bright, but he was there on 911. Of course, he was the Attorney General, and had to come up with things like the Patriot Act and things like that. That had never been done before. Yeah. After I worked with john, I let a number of years later I worked with alberto gonzalez, who was the Attorney General after john ashcroft. Okay, John retired. After four years, it's a tough job in the long Washington, and alberto gonzalez had been george bush's chief chief counsel in Texas and had come along to be as chief counsel in the White House. So he had served as Chief Counsel for four years, he was the guy who was tasked with figuring out what are we going to do with these guys? we're capturing in Afghanistan after 911, where we're going to put the how are we going to? How are we going to prosecute them, because most of them are not captured under our legal system that we have here. So you know, Guantanamo Bay, the surveillance system that they use to track down emails and cell phone calls from Al Qaeda, all is all that came under his purview. So when we began working together, he was very, very intense about not giving away any classified information. He was just committed to that. Yeah, just really a noble fella and with incredible integrity. So I have a stack of books there on my desk, and I keep them there for a reason. But those are all the books I had to read, just so I could communicate with alberto gonzalez. Oh, my God. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker :

So talking about big

Ken Abraham :

stack, it is something like 13 or 14 books, you know, everybody from Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney's book, Condoleezza Rice, I had to read all their books, so that I can even have a conversation with alberto gonzalez, we're talking about research and yeah, earlier, because he, he was not going to give any classified information away. But I asked him certain things, and he could answer. So that was a difficult book. Yeah. But it was it was a learning experience for me as well. Yeah.

John Matarazzo :

So one of the things I love asking people is, where have you seen Jesus walking with you along your way that you don't realize it in the moment, but as you look back, you can see that

Ken Abraham :

one of the most significant ways I saw Jesus walking around with me, but with my whole family was when my mom began to show signs of dementia. Okay. And I did write a book about it, of course, then, you know, it happens in my life. I'm gonna write about it. Yeah. And I wrote a little book called when your parent becomes your child. And I knew nothing about dementia. I knew nothing about Alzheimer's, that kind of stuff happened to somebody else, right. That didn't happen to our family. And it had, my dad died of a heart attack. We did other things in our family, but we never had Alzheimer's or dementia. But my mom, godly Christian woman, people in the Pittsburgh area, many people would remember her standing in places like the holiday house, your brother and your uncle would remember my mom's standing on the stage at the holiday house now with arms raised the Lord praising God. She began to show signs of dementia. And we didn't even know what that was when she was forgetting things. She'd be angry. She would be using words the good Christian lady wouldn't use. She knew those words from our childhood. But we began to experience some things with my mom that just were strange. But along that line, the Lord never left her. And that was a marvelous thing about the last three years of her life, we walked through her. And that was one of the places where walking with Jesus was very, very intimate. Because I kept saying, God, what is this all about? I mean, why is she still here? She's in her 80s. She's loved you all were alive. She's serve you all her life. She's ready to go to heaven. That's all she thinks about talks about why she's still here. Yeah. And I realized that it wasn't just for my mom that she was still here. But she was still here for us. And there were things that I needed to learn through that experience as well. What are some other things what life is all about how to die? Well, all the rest of that how to stay in touch with the Lord, even when you're going through adversity, which she certainly was the things that really matter, you know, not the car you drive or the house you live in. It was her faith in Jesus. And she, she never lost that until the day she died. She couldn't, she couldn't tell you where she was. She couldn't tell you whether she had breakfast today or that sort of thing. We had an event here at the house, where my wife Lisa invited a lot of the folks from our Sunday school class I teach a Sunday school class at Christ Church have been doing it for 17 years. And Susie invited about 50 people to come to our house here. And we had a guy set up a Kurzweil keyboard out here in the living room. And and we all had hymn books. My mom just sat up at the car as well. And and piano and just started playing and people would call it a song many play this many player. Remember, she didn't know where she was, she didn't know what day it was. She didn't know if she'd had breakfast or she'd you know, ever. But she played every one of those songs by heart him without any without any music without without him book or without, hey, you know, anything. And not only she playing, but she's singing along and then she's saying, Hey, come on, come on you. So you know, it was the coolest thing. You know, God was showing us different things through that experience. You know how to love somebody that's maybe dying of cancer, somebody that has some debilitating disease, like Alzheimer's disease. I remember when when we first realized what was going on. And I did, I was living in denial. My wife figured it out first. It's something's not right here. So she took my mom to a geriatric doctor, okay, because we were taking her you know, just to your regular physicians, and they would give her more pills and pills for this and pills for that. So my wife took her to a geriatric doctor, and she says, next time you need to go to Okay, fine. So the first time I sat down with a geriatric doctor, we're sitting almost as close as we are here today. He's right where you are my mom's right here. And Lisa, my wife is right here. And he looked at me says, Can this is not going to change? He said, it's going to get worse. I want to punch the guy, John. Yeah. First of all him. Who are you to say this?

John Matarazzo :

I've seen my mom lives make her better.

Ken Abraham :

Yeah, that's right. You're supposed to be good. Yeah. But I've seen her literally get up off her bed, and go out and do a concert in front of thousands of people, you know. And not only that, we're Christians. We believe in praying, and you know what God can healer. So I was mad, but you know what he was right. And he became a good friend. And he walked with us those three years, and he literally became Jesus for us in many situations, walking with us through those situations, and helping us to deal with stuff that I had never dreamed we would deal with before. It's a weird deal. When you're putting diapers on the person who wants to put diapers on you. Yeah, that whole role reversal. it'll, it'll mess with your emotions, it'll mess with your, and not to mention the faith issues. But in the midst of all that, you know, God was was with us. And so I wrote that little book when your parent becomes your child. And it's probably the most intimate book that I've done in my whole life. Because it reveals a little bit of our own shots and feelings and spiritual experiences. Yeah, I

John Matarazzo :

know a little bit about what the, with that season of life is like, when my grandparents and my mom's side were older, and they were getting ready to pass away. My mom had to change their diapers and take care of them in that same way. And just seeing the the love and the care that she had for them. And, you know, she talked a lot about that, that role reversal, and how difficult that can be. But also there was a there was an intimacy with that there was another legs of love that just kind of came there.

Ken Abraham :

Yeah. And you have to laugh sometimes. I mean, you can get ahead and all that. And sometimes you cry, but you have to laugh to and maintain a sense of humor about it all, but most of all, just to be there for the person who has been there for you. Yeah. And the boy, it was it was a great experience for our family. It was weird at times. I remember one of my daughters saying she said, Dad, that doesn't even sound like grandma. Because it Did you know, my mom started telling our kids stories about when she was a young lady in World War Two and doing some things she shouldn't have been doing. I said, Okay, well, that's enough. You really need to go down that road anymore. But it was it was a it was a special time. And a long way for us was, it was a difficult time. Yeah. But boy, I would not trade it. Yeah, I would not trade it. And I knew when she took her last breath here in Tennessee, that she would take her first breath in the presence of Jesus. So so there was that hope. And that's that competence. Sure. That was sadness. But somebody asked me, they said, well, you're probably relieved now that it's all over? And I said, No, not really. I mean, you know, it wasn't a burden. It was hard at times. But it wasn't a burden to take care of her. It was a privilege. You know, the Bible says if we honor our mothers and our fathers, we honor our parents, God is going to take care of us. He's going to honor us. And he has certainly done that with me. But it was a privilege to take care of my mom during those last couple of years of her life and to be there and she never lost touch with the Spirit of God. The night she died, Bill gators group came on Bill and I had done a book together. And so we had we always had a lot of Bill Gaither music around her. But the night she died, Go Gators group came on TV. And they were singing sweet Holy Spirit. And remember, my mom could barely function. But she began singing along with those guys on TV, sweet Holy Spirit. Amen. You can't put a price on that kind of stuff. It was just amazing. God was with us all along that journey. Wow, that's powerful.

John Matarazzo :

Thank you for sharing about that. Oh, yeah. Can you've written more than 90 books?

Unknown Speaker :

get a real job once.

John Matarazzo :

You've picked up a lot of great advice along the way that I mean, people that you've talked with, you've written their books, people, you just have conversations when you've given great advice. If you could give some advice to a younger Can you can go back in time, have coffee with yourself, whatever it is, where on that timeline, would you interact with yourself? And what advice would you give yourself?

Ken Abraham :

The advice that is usually given to young writers is to write what you know. And that's and that makes sense. But then just the opposite. And say, look for those things you don't know. Yeah, look for those new experiences and that you're you're willing to learn. And I've learned from every single person I've worked with Joe Gibbs, we did a book on called racing to win. Joe was the only professional coach to win championships in two different sports, you know, three Super Bowl rings. And what's he got? How many NASCAR championships does he have now? The guy knows he knows how to motivate people. Yeah, working with Joe was incredible for me. And I knew nothing about NASCAR at that point. Yeah, Florida, turn left. But man that I learned about that whole industry and everything. So you know, looking for those things that you don't know, I worked with a psychologist Neil Clark Warren. And he started this little company called eHarmony. com. Okay.

John Matarazzo :

Again, just on that,

Ken Abraham :

right guy? Yeah. And it's a great, it's a great company. And, and Neil started it from scratch. Matter of fact, to his big problem was the first person who signed up, he didn't know, okay, who am I supposed to match them with? Now, you know, because he literally started from one person. But he was a clinical psychologist for 38 years dealing with marriage issues, and for 38 years, and he was also the Dean of the fuller School of Psychology. Okay, fuller Theological Seminary. But he said, for 38 years, I kept trying to put people back together, put their marriages back together, people who should never have been married in the first place, at least not married to each other, because they're so different. They're so different from each other. One person wants to get up at six o'clock in the morning, one person wants to sleep til 10. You know, one person wants to make a million dollars. One person wants to go feed the homeless people in Africa chocolate. Yeah, yeah. He said, they just have different values. They're so different. And his whole thing was, yeah, we say opposites attract. But he said, Yeah, but then when they're married, then opposites attack. So so we're talking about these kind of things. And he started telling me about these 29 dimensions of a good relationship, and that he basically put together for eHarmony whenever they started eHarmony, calm. And so we wrote a little book called falling in love for all the right reasons. It was a whole new world for me, but it was just so much fun working with him. It was expanding my horizons all the time. So I tell young writers to look for those things you don't know, the book I mentioned about alberto gonzalez. Yeah. Wow. I mean, we got into that, about our Constitution, about affirmative action about some of the things that go on in Washington now classified information, things and I, you know, I didn't know those things. I had to learn those things. Yeah. So it was fun for me. And it's just a continuing education along the line. I found a story here in Tennessee that I did not know I've lived in Tennessee for 30 years before I found this story. And it was a story in 1970. In Gallatin, Tennessee, where the state championship team was was known as the galloping green wave. They were just incredible basketball team. That year, though, there was another school Union High School, an all black school. And we're in Tennessee, as we're speaking here now. And at that time, in 1970, there were still signs above the water fountains saying white only if a black guy would go into a department store and some of the towns here in Tennessee and try on a sports jacket, no white person would ever buy that jacket. The black kids would swim it up in one swimming pool. white kids would swim in another swimming pool, it was the racial tension was very real. And where we sit here today, we're only an hour and a half from where the Ku Klux Klan was founded. So in 1970, there was all that kind of tension guys coming back from Vietnam, and racial tension were two hours away, about three hours away from where Martin Luther King had been shot to two years prior to that. So in 1970, the Gallatin high school basketball team, and the union high school basketball team are going to meet for the very first time in history on the same basketball court. The black kids were not allowed in the white school, if the black basketball team played in a white basketball court, they weren't allowed to take a shower in the in the in the locker room, they weren't allowed to put their clothes in there.

John Matarazzo :

It was that kind of culture. I just can't comprehend that. And actually,

Ken Abraham :

my kids can't comprehend that John, because they've grown up with a whole different kind of world. But this was 1970. And they met on the basketball court that night, they played for three quarters tie game, and a little white, white boy, blonde haired boy 10am, I invite about five, nine, I think, Blue IY. All the typical quintessential Caucasian characteristics scored 14 points in the last quarter and Galton one. So they called him out as the most valuable player and he's coming out and he's crying because he won. They call out this young black boy, Bill Ligon, big Afro haircut and that sort of thing. And they call him out as the runner up, and he's crying, too. He didn't even want to come out onto the middle of the gymnasium floor. But he did eventually. And he's crying too, because he lost but not only has he lost, but there's never going to be another chance to redeem himself because Union High School will be no more it's being submerged into Gallatin High School. Oh, and the following year. Yeah. So he's balling and, and Eddie shirt, and the white boys bawling. And in the midst of that racial tension, and the entire gymnasium was surrounded by police officers that night. In the midst of that racial tension. This this little, blond haired blue eyed white boy goes across that gymnasium and hugs a sweaty black boy, you didn't do that here in Tennessee in 1970. The whole gymnasium fell silent, everybody thought was going to be a riot or my thought and you know, the place is going to explode. And not just for a minute, but it for several minutes, it was just absolutely quiet in the gymnasium, packed gymnasium. And then finally somebody began to clap. And then somebody else began to clap. And then the whole place erupted in applause. And John Sagan dollar, who was the editor of the Nashville, Tennessee, and it was one of the founding editors of USA Today. john was a key figure in some of the racial situations here in Tennessee. In the 60s, he told me, he said he thought that was a turning point in racial relationships here in this area in this city. And it wasn't a politician. It wasn't even a preacher, two kids on a basketball court. But what they didn't know was Eddie shearling had become a Christian, Eddie Cheryl, and had become a Christian, the white boy, he'd become a Christian. And he said, it's not right that we treat black people, the way we're treating these people. And Eddie Sherilyn lived literally on the line between the white part of town and the black part of town. And as little kids, he and Bill had played basketball together. And they had been friends. And then Bill had moved to another side of the town. And they hadn't seen each other for years. But it was what the Lord had done in their lives, that God used to change this whole culture that we're sitting in here right now in Tennessee. Amazing. So and I just found that story A few years ago, so I wrote it. It's called more than rivals. And they're making a movie of it now. So

John Matarazzo :

Oh, really? Yeah. So wait to see that. Yeah,

Ken Abraham :

me too. I'm interested to see how they do that. I get a chance to tell those stories. John, I'm just a guy from climber, Pennsylvania, you know, my friends and climber still waiting for me to get a real job. You do what you write books. I read a book one time Yeah.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, you can do you have a life verse, which is kind of has been a guide for your

Ken Abraham :

life, of course, a couple but the one that I signed on all the books I autograph I always side Proverbs chapter three, verses five and six, you know, Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don't even lean on your own understanding. But in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths or in some translation says, make your paths straight. And that's what he's done for me. That's what he's done for me. Another key verse for me is relations to 20 were Paul says, I've been crucified with Christ. It's not even me. It's alive anymore. But it's Christ Jesus alive in me and through me, you know, the life I live. Now I live by faith in the Son of God who gave himself up for me. You know, yeah, that's where I want to live. Yeah. And truthfully, in my career, that's where I've tried to live. For years. I never had a website. And the one the one I have now I don't even have to get on it. Somebody called me the other day and said, Hey, your website's not working. I said, Oh, really? Where is it? So I never had barely had a business card. But But the Lord brought people into my life and stories into my life that I could tell. And yeah, we, the old saying, would say, it's not so much your ability so much as your availability, right? That is so true. It's so true. And that's really been a story of my career my whole life. And I never dreamed that maybe I did dream. Maybe I didn't. I just didn't know how it would turn out. But I didn't know that it would have the impact that it has. Yeah, and and we never know. You know what God's gonna do. But when we surrender our lives to Him and say, Lord, here I am. You can take my life use my life for me out wherever you want to do. Wow. Yeah, he's okay.

John Matarazzo :

Yeah, okay, I've got a place for you. And he takes us seriously when? Yeah, yeah, that's gotta be available and willing, whenever he says, Okay, now I'm going to call you on that. Yeah,

Ken Abraham :

that's right. So and, you know, I thought I'd have a career in music. You know, spent 20 years on the road playing drums. Yeah. But you know what, again, it wasn't wasted because how many books have I done now with musicians Steven Curtis Chapman, Randy Travis, Jimmy Wayne. The book there. Julie Roberts, country music artist. I just done a bunch of and Michael w with an arrow working on a project right now. So God set me up with a experience I did a book with a lady a southern gospel singer, famous Southern gospel singer by name of Vestal Goodman. And she said can you choose now can you tell me some of these stories but you probably don't want to know what it's like to be out there on the road. Living in a bus.

Unknown Speaker :

Well vessel kind of do.

Ken Abraham :

So nothing is wasted. John, God uses those experiences in our lives, even the even the tough times. Yeah, use those things.

John Matarazzo :

That's really encouraging. Can you written a lot of books and you've read a lot of books, just for fun as well as research for that.

Ken Abraham :

What what's a book that has changed your life that you would recommend for me to want to be loving God by Charles Colson? Charles Colson was in the richard nixon administration. And I became a Christian after Watergate, really after he went to jail for being involved in Watergate, and started prison fellowship. Incredible guy always loved here, Chuck Colson whenever an interviewer would have him on a newscast or something, because he was so articulate about the Christian faith. And sometimes, you know, in interviews, they'll pull in people that really don't know what they're talking about. You don't represent Christianity very well. Chuck Colson always did. He really did. He studied. He knew what he was talking about. And one of the early books that he wrote after he read a book called born again. And then life sentence, I think, was his second book, somewhere around that early period in his life and his his second career as a Christian writer, and with prison fellowship, he wrote, loving God. It's a series of stories of people's lives who've been changed by the love of God, and how they in loving God went out to help other people change their lives. Cool book, one of my favorites, but on the other side of the spectrum, of course, more secular kind of mainstream book would be David McCullough, books, every everything David McCullough writes, I read, obviously, his john adams book, his book on Paris was fantastic. And even the Wright brothers, which was kind of a thin book, you know, but his book on Truman, anything David McCullough writes, I read it, there's a cool connection with David McCullough and me in my career, okay, because one of the first books that David McCullough wrote was the Johnstown flood. Okay, the Johnstown flood, Western Pennsylvania. That wasn't very far from where I lived. And I remember reading that book, and when I lived in a little town of climber, Pennsylvania, I said, wow, you know, this guy writes, it sounds like a novel, but he's talking about history. But he makes it so exciting. That you know, and the Johnstown flood for the for people don't know was in Carmel Valley data, bam there and some of the folks from Pittsburgh had a beautiful Damn that David Crowder, fishing them and the Carnegie's and the melons and other other wealthy folks from Pittsburgh. Yeah, this fishing Damn, but it was an earthen dam. And it was above the city of Johnstown. And in I think, was 1896 had a very rainy season and the pressure built and built and built. And eventually the middle of that damn just exploded and a wall of about 30 or 40 feet of water, began racing down the hill toward the city of Johnstown and just devastated that there's

John Matarazzo :

no real warning for the people. No, no, the Johnstown fun museum is pretty interesting. Yes, it is. That's right.

Ken Abraham :

McCullough told that story, though. He didn't tell it as a as a news item. He told it almost as a novel. And when I read that, I said, Who man I want to do something like that? Yeah, so David McCullough, still one of my

John Matarazzo :

my literary heroes. Yeah, the 16th Street Bridge in Pittsburgh is named after him. Ah, there you go. I didn't know that. Yeah, that's cool. Yeah, it's uh, you know, Roberto Clemente, they are on the Rachel Carson somewhere. I know, the rebel command is the six weeks. That's right into the PNC Park, the others. And then the 16th is the next one up. And that's the david mccullough bridge. Wow. That's great. But most people don't call it

Ken Abraham :

seriously. He's one of the guys who I looked to as a role model. Yeah, very articulate guy, very bright guy, but just does a great job of making that the pictures come to life. I've enjoyed his books. And he came to Nashville here to speak not too long ago, and just just listening to that guy said, Wow, yeah, that's the standard right there. That's, I feel like I'm in kindergarten. And he's

John Matarazzo :

Yeah. He's on the graduate level. Very cool. Well, I there's a few books in here that I definitely I'd like to read the Buzz Aldrin, what is one that's really interesting, because I love space as well, can thank you so much for giving me some time to sit with you. And to learn from your journey with Christ along the way that can allow me to join you along your way just a little bit.

Ken Abraham :

Let's do it. Again. It's been it's always kind of scary to talk to an author because you know, it's writing as a very isolated deal. And when you when you let an author get away from his desk and get away from the computer, you can turn into a nightmare. So

Unknown Speaker :

thank you. It's been a blast. Thank you. My pleasure.

John Matarazzo :

Ken really has a special ability to get the heart on paper, and it's easy to see that he is truly a gifted communicator. I love how Ken wrote the book, don't bite the apple until you check for worms in self defense. His group the watchman were spending so much time ministering to people after their concerts that they just couldn't get to everyone can saw a need and God showed him how to address that void in a way that unlocked his journey as an author. And I love how even his experience as a drummer in a band wasn't wasted when he was writing Vestal Goodwin's book, she thought he couldn't relate to band life on the road. But he knew all too well. God has a way of making every experience from our lives connect to his purpose, and nothing is wasted when we give it to God. I appreciate Ken's advice about how to become a better interviewer. I kept that as part of this episode, because I believe that we all need to improve our conversational skills. Asking open ended questions and maintaining eye contact are very practical tips. I hope you took something away from that part of this conversation. I know I did. And he has some really good advice. People often advise authors to write about what they know. But Ken's advice went slightly different direction on that. Write about what you don't know. Look for things that you don't know and research them always be learning. He keeps a stack of 13 thick books on his desk as a reminder. That's what he had to read just to be able to talk with alberto gonzalez to write his book. That's commitment to getting the heart on paper. One thing that I'm noticing across many of my along the way conversations is that God is looking for people who make themselves available to him and his purposes. I try to make sure that I'm available to follow after God's direction and opportunities. When I was in Nashville to record these podcast episodes, I had five planned, came home with eight. The additional three interviews were a huge blessing, and I can't wait to share them with you. But I would have missed God's opportunity if I didn't make sure that I was available and obedient to Him when the opportunity arose. In my conversation with Ken he said that God brought him to Asbury college to prepare him for the rest of his life. That makes me wonder, what is God doing now? And where is God taking me now to prepare me for the rest of my life. I hope that you enjoyed my along the way conversation with Ken Abraham, and that you are pondering these questions too. As always, Ken's links and book recommendations are in the show notes. Thank you for listening to along the way. If you've enjoyed joining me along my way, please share this episode with a friend who you think would be encouraged by this podcast. Also, please rate and review this podcast on iTunes. It helps more people discover a lot the way and subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and at my website along the way dot media. You can always email me at John along the way@gmail.com I hope you've enjoyed this part of my journey. And may you realize when Jesus is walking with you along your way