North Mississippi man publishes book more than 50 years in the making

'A Time to Listen' is a collection of decades of notetaking in Reed's Bible

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – It was the spring of his senior year at Vanderbilt, and Jack Reed Jr. took Old Testament as an elective. His textbook was the Bible. Reed started taking notes on the pages of his Bible and never stopped.

“When I listen to speakers, preachers, Sunday school teachers, I take notes, it helps me remember them and I can go back to them,” Reed said.

In 2018, Reed wanted to give something special to his children for Christmas.

“I realized this Bible and the annotations were the most important thing I had to give to my children, and I have two children and one Bible,” he said.

So Reed went to work, writing all of his annotations in the margins on index cards, there were more than 500. He had them printed in a loose-leaf book that he gave to his kids, wife, and a couple of pastors.

Friends and Sunday school class members found out about the collection of notes and requested their own copies. That’s what led to the book, “A time to Listen”  The book’s cover is a photo of the Bible, from that senior year at Vanderbilt, which he still uses.

“These are the building blocks of one man’s personal theology and philosophy. Over time, these have meant something to me I tried to live up and listen to,” Reed said.

Some of the notations are humorous.

“This was meant for my children, never meant for the public. Some are personal, one of them is a line in Old Testament about a bruised reed I will not break, the Lord said, so I put this to our children, this is good news for our family,” he said.

And others helped him make important decisions.

“One of the quotes is from something I heard at summer camp I used when I was deciding to run for mayor and it was, ‘sailboats are safe in the harbor but that’s not what they were built for’. It’s a motivational thing for me to step out of your comfort zone sometimes and try and do things beyond what you’re used to,” Reed said.

Reed hopes there is something in the book that speaks to all readers.

“I think there’s some common themes in there, draw the circle wider, wider concern the closer we are to Jesus’ teaching about love, the wider open our arms are, to be looking for people to respond to and encourage, those things are universal,” Reed said.

All proceeds from “A Time To Listen” will go to the CREATE Foundation and will help people struggling to pay for utilities, and other essentials. The book can be purchased at Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore, or online.

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