Spitball Session for 2022

We’ve got three more gatherings formally planned for the Starting Friday group:

Friday, DEC 3: Planning Session

Friday, DEC 10: Guest Speaker (Dr. Leighton Ford)

Friday, DEC 17: Book selection and wrap-up for the year!

I know several of you have been encouraging our discernment regarding a broader service component to our men’s group. So for this week, let’s plan to “spit-ball” some of those ideas, including discussions on a Winter men’s group retreat in January.

Also starting this week, the Treehouse has become a little too chilly for our gatherings….so Robert has graciously offered up his company’s conference room in South Park on Friday’s for the foreseeable future. I sent out the address/details for Robert’s office via an updated calendar invite. Please ping me separately if you don’t have that.

Lastly, the Zoom invite has changed slightly from this Friday forward. Be sure to use the link and passcode in the updated calendar invite. We will continue to offer both in-person and Zoom options to gather on Fridays.


I’ll see you Friday!


Thinking and Thanking

I always take stock during Thanksgiving week about what I’m “thankful” for in my life. I probably posted a similar message last Thanksgiving, and the year before….and the year before…

As I scrolled through the pictures on my iPhone, I quickly concluded about several things I’m thankful for…friends, workouts, new life, recreation, service to others, wide fairways and Army football. But most of all, I’m thankful for this group.

Enjoy your time with family and friends. We’ll gather next Friday, DEC 3rd at the normal time. I’m finalizing a guest speaker for 12/3.

I have confirmed Dr. Leighton Ford, brother-in-law to Dr. Billy Graham and currently leads a Christian-based mentorship group called “Leighton Ford Ministries” from here in Charlotte. Dr. Ford just turned 90 years “young” and is not slowing down. Dr. Ford will speak to us on DEC 10th.

Lastly, start thinking about potential books for our next study series. We’ll continue to discuss ideas and will make a decision before the end of December.

See you next week!


Winding Down 2021

Seems odd to be saying this, but we’re fastly approaching the end of another year….and making plans for 2022.

I’ve sent out new recurring Zoom invites for next year. We’ll start our 2022 “season” on January 7th.

For the remainder of this year, here’s what the schedule looking like:

NOV 19: Breakfast fellowship at Community Matters Cafe (7:30 am)

NOV 26: No meeting. Thanksgiving break

DEC 3: Guest speaker

DEC 10: Guest speaker

DEC 17: Christmas themed lesson and announcement of next study series

DEC 24: Holiday break

DEC 31: Holiday break

JAN 7: First gathering of 2022! New series begins.

Enjoy the rest of the week! Reminder that there’s no Zoom option this week since we’re gathering at a restaurant.


Talking about the P-word

Did I get your attention?

The “P-word”….. it was all over the news about a year or so ago. “Privilege”.

Even this week, with elections around the country, the “p-word” seems to still be lingering around the news cycle.

But, truthfully, privilege is both confusing and crystal clear to me. I really look forward to our discussion this week. I know there are many sides to this issue.

As always, I love the nuggets from our author. Early on in the chapter, Tyson writes:

“But that’s not the way of Jesus. As the Son of God, he had more privilege than any of us will ever know. As the Son of Man born in a stable and laid in a manger, as the Messiah with no place to lay his head, and finally as the Lamb of God hanging on the cross, he gave us privilege to a more profound extent than anyone else could ever match. Yet in all of this, he modeled for us what to do with our blessings and opportunities; use them for others.”

-Jon Tyson, page 131

Jon Paschal

This week, please read Chapter 8: Sacrifice Must Resist Privilege.

Jon Paschal leads us this week. REMINDER that we’re fully virtual this week over Zoom. No Treehouse as I will be joining you all from Arizona….with hot coffee due to the 3-hour timezone difference!

I’ll see everyone at 7:30 am ET…..4:30 am Arizona-time!

I need a nap just thinking about that!


Hatred is Our Universal Failing

The title for this week’s reminder comes from one of the lines of text in Chapter 7, “Love Must Resist Hate”.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you….” (Luke 6:27)

The one thing that I find is most constant in practically every book we’ve read is the feeling of “well, that’s certainly easier said than done.”

Do I have things and people in my life that fall into a category of “hate”? Sadly, yes.

If you subscribe to the title I put above this page, then you probably have things and people that you hate too.

But aren’t there degrees of hate? According to our author, the answer is no.

Hate is hate.

“If someone loudly represents a social, political or religious viewpoint we strongly disagree with….we hate. If someone hurts or betrays us…we hate. If we feel threatened…we hate. If we are treated unjustly … we hate. If someone rejects our love…our love can ominously invert and we hate.” Tyson, pp 116-117

Jesus has the answer though.

Rob Miller


Rob Miller leads us this week and he’s going to pull all these pieces together.

Fresh coffee and a propane heater are my promises for the treehouse in the morning. And if that’s not your thing, Zoom remains available.

See you in the morning. I’ll hate it if you miss out.


Coming in Hot!!

I got no dazzling preview for this week’s chapter.


It’s been that kind of week….plain and simple.

But I’m leading tomorrow morning and I will be ready to go then!

Mike Lenhart

Coming in hot…..that’s me tomorrow morning.

Chapter 6: Honor must resist Contempt. That’s this week’s assignment!

Think about this as you read (or re-read) the chapter. Do you look down upon others when having conversations? If you’re scratching your head when someone says something you don’t agree with, are you dismissing them?

Heads up. The author quotes one of our former authors….Arthur Brooks! No surprise in a chapter on “contempt”, Tyson quotes Brooks!

See you in the morning. Treehouse or virtual.


Who’s Gonna Flinch First?

Short and sweet this week and typing this update has been on my back-burner until today! This week has been “a year”, it seems!

Our assignment for this Friday is chapter 5, “Hospitality Must Resist Fear”. It’s very natural for us to feel comfortable in our own neighborhoods, among our own “people”, even among our own demographics and society status levels. And, admittedly, it’s uncomfortable for me (“us”) to mingle with others “who aren’t like us”, right?

How do we tackle this reluctance? Maybe we take the stance of waiting for the other person to make the first move? See who flinches first, as I’ve said in the title of this post.

I found it somewhat timely that our author quotes Andrew Shepherd, a teacher of theology, as follows:

“Building relationships with the stranger has become increasingly difficult in an age where the dual discourse of the “war on terror” and “the market” hold sway. The influence of these pervasive discourses means Others come to be conceived as threats. The stranger is either to be explicitly feared…..or, is simply another abstract commodity….one to be struggled against.”

pp. 81-82, “Beautiful Resistance” by Jon Tyson

I get it, however. There is evil the world and we cannot, nor should we (in my humble opinion), have blanket trust for everyone and every situation.

Ernie Meland

But…..what would (and what “did”) … Jesus do?

I’ll leave you to noodle on that until tomorrow.

Ernie Meland is leading tomorrow. I think he’s already read the book five times, so he’s ready for any type of discussion!

Same time as always. Treehouse is open, or hit us up over Zoom!

Peace, my brothers!

I’m SO hungry!

Have you ever skipped meals, either through dieting or forgetfulness? I know I have! In Ranger School, my classmates and I were living off one MRE (Meal Ready-to-Eat) a day! I remember thinking I was so hungry! I would convince the medic assigned to my platoon to give me throat lounges every few mornings. My throat was fine, but the “candy” aspect of the lounges suppressed my hunger…..for a little while at least. I still managed to lose 25 pounds over 2 months before graduating.

This week’s chapter talks about hunger from a different angle: “Fasting”. Both the old and new testaments have story upon story about how God uses “fasting” to refocus our attention. Isn’t it ironic that in today’s culture, we spend so much attention on keto diets, intermittent fasting, and juice cleanses, but little mention on the practice of fasting? If you, like me, think the concept of fasting is no longer applicable in today’s cultures, then this week’s chapter is for you! Our author describes fasting as “pushing ourselves to a fresher dependence on God….”

David Parker

David Parker is our leader this week. You won’t want to miss him! Please gather at 7:30 am ET over Zoom or in the treehouse. Lesson starts at 7:45 am ET.

See you then!

I want to be thoroughly used up!

A few years back, I was honored to receive recognition from Time Warner, Inc, the parent company when I was working for Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, for community service efforts I did outside of the company. It was a tremendous honor. I was the one person selected to represent Turner Broadcasting; another person for HBO; another for Warner Brothers Studios, etc. All the lines of business under Time Warner were represented. All told, there were about 5 or 6 individuals honored, including me.

The company flew my wife and I up to New York City for a “big deal” luncheon. I sat at a round table with the head of CNN as well as a handful of other executives. Each honoree was given 5 minutes to give an acceptance speech after receiving a beautiful glass award on stage from the CEO of Time Warner.

In my remarks that day, I expressed gratitude, as you might imagine. Then I boldfully quoted a George Bernard Shaw speech as my mantra for my life:

“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life in no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

George Bernard Shaw

Now, years later, I’m wondering if that was the correct alignment for my life. Still today, I find myself extremely stretched thin, constantly on the go, eager to help my fellow man/woman in our community, and filling as much as I can into my daily routines. I lay my head down many nights exhausted. Thoroughly used up….

Some of you might be the same.

This week’s assignment, Chapter 3, is a great gut check into resisting exhaustion. You will find yourself asking, “What am I gaining and what am I losing with all that effort?”.

Phil Duncan

Very excited that Phil Duncan is leading us this Friday, his first time in the batter’s box! Everything else remains the same; gather at 7:30 am, with both Zoom and in-Treehouse options available.

Enjoy the rest of today…and I’ll see you tomorrow morning!

Now, go get some rest!

Calling Out American Idol

Happy Thursday, friends….or, as one of my colleagues likes to say, “Happy Friday-eve”! We’re tackling the first “resistance” themed chapter this week, Chapter 2, titled “Worship Must Resist Idolatry”. Get your yellow highlighters out and underlining pens….this is a great chapter filled with noteworthy nuggets!

Growing up, like many of you, I often recalled one of the Commandments, “Thou shalt not place false gods before me…..”. Insert “idols” into the “false gods” narrative. As a kid, I would think about false idols such as golden calves, statues, and other Biblical representations of this “thou shalt”.

As an adult today, I think of “idols” much differently. Our author does a great job describing this too. At a very high level, Jon Tyson refers to idols as “the worship of an unworthy object”. Where are we spending our time and how are we spending time away from God?

Earlier this week, while I was on a run, I got to thinking about American Idol, the very successful television show. Wonder if the choice of “idol” in title is the best one? Perhaps it could be worded differently:

-American Distractions?

-American Not Worthies?

-Or….my favorite….Thou Shalt Not Place American Idols Before Me…..?

Full transparency….I am a huge fan of former American Idol winner, Carrie Underwood’s talent…!

Jason Schubert

Jason Schubert leads us this week. Be sure to scan the study guide in the back of the book as a way to augment your preparations. Hybrid options for meeting on Friday. Zoom or in the treehouse! Bring your hot coffee if your joining me in person….temps are starting to hint at Fall!