Coming in Hot!!

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

Nothing.

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.

Peace!

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!

Peace!

A Church Coming Back to Life

Similar to the title of this week’s “reminder”, I feel like this is my “coming back to life” with respect to posting a weekly update. Apologies as I have have been somewhat lapse in creating the weekly messages. Truth be told, work has been a little busy AND I’ve tried to also enjoy the last few days of Summer!

Mike Lenhart

But here we are …. the start of a new study series, “Beautiful Resistance” by Jon Tyson. Last week, I introduced the book. This week, I’ll continue with Chapter 1, “A Church Coming Back to Life”. If you’ve ordered the book, you’ll notice the study guide in the back section. This week, I’m going to key in on a few questions to drive our discussion.

“Pro Tip”…. browse the questions under the section called “During the Session”, then think about those questions as you read the chapter.

This is a great chapter; a baseline for the book, of sorts. If, like me, you’ve ever had moments in your life where church hasn’t mattered, or hasn’t motivated you, or simply was on the back burner, then this chapter will (hopefully) be a good nudge. On page 9, our author writes:

I have written this book to try to stir your faith that God can again use his people to bear witness to his rule and reign.

We all need a little stirring these days so grab your pen and highlighter, find a quiet place to read, and dig into Chapter 1.

Couple admin reminders:

-Sign up for a Friday or two to lead during this study series. SignUp Genius link is located in the right navigator panel on the group’s main website.

-Same Zoom invite as before. We’re continuing in a hybrid model, allowing for both in-person and virtual gatherings. Treehouse remains open on Friday mornings unless we announce otherwise!

See you this Friday beginning at 7:30 am ET. I’ll kick off our lesson at 7:45 am.

Peace!

Collin Smith: Karate, Soccer and Sharing Christ’s Message

This week, the Starting Friday Men’s Group is thrilled to welcome Collin Smith to the (Zoom) stage for an incredible testimony you won’t soon forget. I met Collin a couple months back when he and I randomly volunteered to help out on a habit build in the Grier Heights neighborhood in Charlotte. I was one of those sticky, hot and humid Sunday afternoons. Collin and I were tasked to fix a wooden fence on one side of the home’s backyard. And also to install a steel picket and wire fence along the back of the property. Within minutes, Collin and I were both drenched in sweat!

You learn a lot about someone when you sweat together, I believe. Such was the case in the few hours Collin and I worked on our tasks that afternoon.

Here’s a small sample of his bio and mission focus:

Charlotte Eagles, Neighborhood Coach, Collin Smith

“Born in Houston but I call Charlotte home! I drink coffee like it’s water. I love Isaiah 25. I would rather be outside than inside. I could watch Sahara over and over again.

I had the opportunity to be involved in few different branches of the Eagles during my time as a college student. God used the time spent with the PDL/USL2 teams as well as my time spent in neighborhood ministry to really shape me in meaningful ways. I love the game of soccer and have seen God use it to build relationships and form young people into disciples of Christ. I really believe Charlotte is better off with the work Mission Athletes International (MAI) does and I am excited I get to be a part of it.”

Read more about Collin’s local mission work in Charlotte at this blog: https://link.medium.com/yMK1wKa31ib

Join us the Friday over Zoom. No “in-person” meeting this week. Message me if you need the dial information. We’ll start at 7:45 am ET.

See you then!

Breakfast at the Biscuit

This week, we celebrate wrapping up another study series….and catch up in-person. Please plan to meet at The Flying Biscuit restaurant at 7:30 am on Friday (Park Road Shopping Center).

Next week, AUG 27th, we’ll have a guest speaker via Zoom.

Friday, SEP 3 is the Labor Day holiday weekend, so we will not meet.

Friday, SEP 10 is the start of a new study series!

Enjoy the rest of this week. I’ll see you on Friday at the Biscuit. I’ll arrange for outdoor seating like we’ve done before.

Peace!

Rounding that Final Turn

Gentlemen, since the Olympic Games are going on in Tokyo, it seems appropriate to draw that analogy that this week’s lesson brings us to the “final turn” of our series, “No More Excuses”. This week, your focus should be on devotion days 80-85 in the final section of the book, “No More Half-Stepping”.

David Parker is no half-stepper, himself… and is graciously volunteered to lead our discussion. He and I have exchanged emails separately, and I know he’s got a great lesson planned. Last week, David shared a story about former University of Georgia (and University of Miami) head football coach, Mark Richt. Coach Richt is now retired from football, but will be working this season as an on-air commentator for the ACC Network, based right here in Charlotte!

David Parker

The article talked about the coach’s recent announcement that he has Parkinson’s disease. Without stealing David’s thunder, I’ll just hint that he going to tie-in the coach’s earthly pains to what God reminds us of the final “prize” of Heaven.

I’ll leave it at that….else David might be giving me a stern phone call!

We’re continuing to be hybrid in our meeting. Zoom option remains or you can venture to the backyard treehouse (or patio or firepit….I’ll decide at the last moment).

Looking ahead, next week is our final week of the series. Then we’ll break on August 13th since a few of us will be out of town. On August 20th, I’d like us to gather for breakfast at Flying Biscuit (Park Road Shopping Center). Finally, we’ll have one or two Friday’s worth of guest speakers before starting a new series after Labor Day.

Have a great rest of the week! I’ll see you on Friday!

Peace!

That Song in My Head

Snow White famously sang the tune “Whistle While You Work” and now, sadly, you’ll probably have that song rattling around in your head! My sincere apologies.

But what does Snow White have to do with this week’s lesson; devotional days 74-79? This week our author talks about finding joy in the work you do, observing “rest”, and balancing everything in-between. Naturally there’s more to this week’s reading than simply that. But use that knowledge as the baseline when you do your homework before Friday.

Mike Lenhart

I’m happy to lead this week. Hybrid mix again, either gathering over Zoom or in my backyard. New backyard venue this week as I’m setting up by the fire pit. A little “fireside chat” minus the fire!

Enjoy the rest of the week. See you on Friday!

Peace!