Being Thankful….

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving….and some might be saying, “This is 2020….global pandemic, political discourse, natural disasters…..what do I have to be thankful for?”

Hey, I’m right there with you!

I did a quick Google search on “being thankful” and came across a great article about writing a gratitude journal.

I’m certain the men in our group might be thinking, “I don’t have time to do something like a gratitude journal.”

How about this as a simple challenge…..spend time over the next few days with this list below. These are “teasers” … simple ways for you to think about all our blessings and even great conversation starters with family and friends.

  • What is something you have today that you didn’t have a year ago?
  • What is a personality trait in yourself that you are thankful for?
  • What is a possession that makes your life easier?
  • What do you like about your job?
  • How are you able to help or give to others?
  • What is a tradition that you’re grateful for?
  • How does your family make your life richer?
  • What are five positive memories from the last year?
  • What are three good decisions you’ve made this year?

Last week, I closed out our lesson sharing a 2-minute video about “How to Love Your Enemies at Thanksgiving”. (Sharing it again below…)

Thanksgiving, 2020

We won’t gather this Friday…but we’ll wrap up next Friday, DEC 4th at Community Matters Cafe. I’ll have the Zoom up and running as well for those who can’t join in person.

Peace gents….!

The Gospel According to Mick Jagger

Years ago, I heard Andy Standy give a sermon that said “maybe Mick Jagger was right all along…..”

No, you can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometime you find

You get what you need….

The Rolling Stones

Andy’s point in that sermon was more about God not always giving us what we want…but what we need.

Similarly, this week’s assignment, Chapter 9, talks about our wants….or really, our lack of knowing what we “want”.

Unlike “Reverend” Mick, however, this week’s chapter is more about figuring out what we want, then asking God to fulfill what’s in our heart.

A slightly different turn on that earlier sermon I heard years ago.

See what insight you pull from this week’s chapter as well!

David Parker leads us this week. Same Zoom as last week. Gather at 7:30 am ET then our lesson starts at 7:45 am ET.

David Parker

Reminder that next week, NOV 27th, we’re off for Thanksgiving.

Then, for those that want to meet in-person, we’ll gather at the back room at Community Matters Cafe the following Friday, DEC 2nd. We’ll also have the Zoom up and running for those who can’t be in person that day.

This week’s video primer is below. I’ll see you on Friday!

Chapter 9: Know What You Want

Go Fast, go alone; Go Far, go together

Hopefully when you read this week’s chapter, “Find Your People”, that African quote will jump off the page to you as it did for me. This week’s lesson is all about “teamwork”…..something McManus refers to as “our tribe”.

Teamwork is not necessary a new Biblical teaching. But maybe something that’s not made a priority to many of us. With all the earthy focus on “wealth”, does this mean we put relationships aside, easily burning bridges?

Mike Lenhart

I’m excited to lead this Friday and I’d ask that you come prepared to share stories of where you went at something alone….and when you went as a team.

Same Zoom invite as before. I’ll see everyone beginning at 7:30 am ET. Lesson starts at 7:45 am ET.

Chapter 8 video primer is below.


Chapter 8: Find Your People

What Matter Most?

I’m traveling this week for a guys’ golf trip to Arizona. But luckily, I’ve worked the tee times so I’ll be able to join our group on Friday morning. I know I’ll have a strong cup of coffee in front of me since the timezone is 2 hours behind Charlotte! It will be 5:45 am when I join you all!

Be gentle to me!

All kidding aside, just as the rebranding of our group states, there’s no better way to “start” my day than with you all.

Now, let’s talk about this week’s chapter: Chapter 7: Stand Your Ground. I’m planning on reading on the plane today but I’ve quickly watched the primer video (below). In that video, McManus asks “What matters most to you to stand your ground?

Chapter 7: Stand Your Ground

I can’t wait to read the chapter today…because I can think of several times where I’ve stood firm on convictions…but that’s never an easy thing to do. In fact, many times, standing firm also means “standing all alone.”

But we are never alone when we stand firm with God. Amen….amen!

Tim Sydejko

Tim leads us this week….can’t wait to hear him on Friday!

Have a great Thursday….I’ll see you guys Friday morning…Please gather at over Zoom at 7:30 am ET….and we’ll get going at 7:45 am ET.


Assuming we have tomorrow, and missing out on today….

Is there someone or something in your life that has to be “on” all the time? In other words, think about a job where that person cannot be less than 100% on any given day. For those people, being “less” can literally be the difference between life or death.

When I was the company commander of an airborne infantry company at Fort Bragg, NC, I also had the additional responsibility of being a “jump master”. A jump master is someone who’s been trained to inspect paratroopers before boarding the aircraft, inspects the opening of the door during flight, and “pushes” the soldiers out the door into (many times) the dark abyss of falling into gravity.

I loved being a jump master and I especially took great pride that on many jumps, my own soldiers would line up in front of me, instead of other jump masters because they knew I always had my “game on”. They knew if I was inspecting their parachute equipment, then then would be safe.

They had no idea if on any given day, on any given jump, if I was less than 100%.

But without fail, I always took that job extremely seriously and I never took shortcuts, regardless if any of my soldiers questioned that or not.

Years later, I was often asked by my friends who were civilians if I ever got scared or nervous when I was getting ready to exit an aircraft during flight.

“Every single time….”, I would always reply.

To their amazement, I would follow up by saying, “The day I’m not nervous, was the day I’m not completely focused. The day I’m not my 100% best!”

Jon Paschal

This week, our reading assignment is Chapter 6, “Act as if your life depends on it”. Our author discusses this concept of not discounting today, because tomorrow might not ever come. He’s really talking about giving our 100% every day, right?

Jon Paschal leads us this week and I’ve included the video primer below. Let’s gather starting at 7:30 am ET. Lesson starts at 7:45 am ET.

Peace, gents!

Chapter 6 of “Save the Last Arrow” (video primer)

Staying WHERE you are means staying WHO you are….

Chapter 5 this week is titled “Refuse to Stay Behind”.

I thought, initially, about a phrase from the Army’s Ranger Creed:

“…Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country…”

US Army Ranger Creed

Our country’s military has made it a mantra, not just within the Rangers, but we will never leave another member of our force “behind”…

But McManus this week is talking about something completely different. Although the battle analogies might be similar, our author is instead talking about those who choose to “stay behind” rather than go outside our comfort zone; go to an area where God might be calling us to go.

There’s several great quotes from the chapter…but I really felt called to the one I’ve paraphrased in the title above:

“When you stay where you are, you stay who you are…”

Among other lessons, this quote speaks to us about “growth”. What are we doing in our Christian walk….to grow each and every day, week, and beyond? And “growth” ain’t always easy. In fact, rarely does it come without some pain, questions, or doubt.

Every week, I’ve shared a 5 minute video primer of that particular week’s chapter. And I’ll share it over our Zoom meeting on Friday. This week, I’m going to give you two videos; the primer, below, and beneath that, a sermon given by McManus that likewise covers most of the key points from Chapter 5.

Chapter 5 “Refuse to Stay Behind” video primer
McManus gives sermon on “Refusing to Stay Behind” (Chapter 5)

So, you can read Chapter 5 or you can just watch the second video (about 35 minutes). The great thing about the 35 min sermon is that you’ll really get a sense of McManus’ passion. Really. It’s worth the watch! But you can’t underline sentences or write in the margins on the pages….so maybe do both!

Mike Lenhart

I’m excited to lead this week. I have some personal passion about his week’s chapter, as I’m sure some of you do as well. Looking forward to sharing my thoughts and hearing yours.

Same Zoom invite as last week. Let’s gather starting at 7:30 am; I’ll open us in prayer at 7:45 am, then onto our lesson.

Have a great rest of the week until Friday morning!

Come on Baby….Light My Fire!

My apologies.

After reading this week’s title, you’ll have that song ringing in your head for a few hours! Sorry!

The title of this week’s homework is “Set Your Past on Fire”….. and our author shares some literal and figurative examples of people setting “things” on fire.

We’ve been talking about leaving the past behind; focusing on the future, right? Now, McManus gets very direct about “why” we need to do that.

“This chapter is all about burning away everything that should remain in your past and not taken into your future.” (McManus, p. 46)

Did you catch the subtle message, however? “….everything that should remain in your past…”

Ernie Meland

Does this mean there are (sometimes) items we should take to the future?

Ernie Meland leads us this week and maybe he’ll answer that question for us. Not to sound like a broken record but you all know the drill: Gather at 7:30 am ET….Ernie kicks things into gear around 7:45 am ET. Your calendar invites have the Zoom information.

We’ll play the video “teaser” in the morning, but if you want to watch it now, here it is below.

Chapter 4: Set Your Past on Fire

See you in the morning.


Crooked Farming!

This week’s reading assignment is Chapter 3 of our book, The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus. The chapter title is “choose the future” and our author preaches mainly about focusing on the past, focusing on the present, or focusing on the future. Which is the best for us….one of those categories or some combination of all three?

Jason Schubert

Honestly, I feel like I’ve been playing “catch up” all week. Work has been crazy busy, and I’ve always got a lot going on with two “active” teenage boys! So…I guess I’m guilty of only focusing on the “present” and a little bit of the “past”. But when you read the chapter, you’ll see what the author suggests. I won’t give that mystery away, but Jason Schubert leads us this week…and I’m certain he’ll cover all that.

One nugget that stood out to me comes early in the chapter when McManus shares one of my favorite analogies from Jesus:

“No on who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”

Luke 9:62

Here’s the video preview for Chapter 3:

Chapter 3: Choose the Future

Looking forward to catching up with everyone tomorrow. Our participation has been growing….and I’m thankful for that! Same Zoom information at before. Check your calendar invites or reach out to me for details. Please gather at 7:30 am ET and Jason will start promptly at 7:45 am ET.

You’re Either Busy Living or Busy Dying!

That comment….”you’re either busy living or busy dying” was shared with me by a dear friend of mine in Atlanta.  She was an ER doctor at Grady Memorial Hospital, which if you’re from Atlanta, you know is known as a huge trauma center in the southeast.  It’s been said that if you had gunshot wounds or were in a terrible car accident, and you ended up at Grady, then you were in good hands.

It was not uncommon for my friend to work long, 60-hour work weeks at Grady.  And when she wasn’t working, it was hard to find her.  She’d be training for an Ironman triathlon, or working at a free women’s clinic, or even traveling to Africa with Doctors Without Borders.  I really loved spending time with her, but I admitted one day that “the things I love most about you, are also the things I hate.”  You see, those amazing things she was doing outside of the work, were also taking her away from me.

So what how did she respond?  That’s where I heard the “busy living or busy dying” phrase, which I learned later on came from the movie Shawshank Redemption, where two convicts are talking about breaking out of jail.  My friend taught me that life is worth “living” … and there’s no time to wait around, pondering about “dying”.

This week’s assignment is to read Chapter 2 of our book, The Last Arrow, where our author touches on that same subject.  John Ramey leads us this week.  The chapter is an easy read….but remember even if you don’t have time to read, still come to the Zoom meeting!  You’ll always get something out of the time together.

Same Zoom invite as last week.  Hit me up if you need that information, otherwise check your email calendar invite.

See you at 7:30 am ET on Friday!

Here’s this week’s chapter video primer from Erwin McManus:



New Series Begins: The Point of No Return

After a brief week “off”, Starting Friday returns this week as we kick-off a new series: The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life by Erwin McManus.

Hopefully, you’ve either ordered the book or the digital version already.  This week’s homework is to read the Preface and Chapter 1 (The Point of No Return).

Each week, we’ll also introduce the lesson with a brief 5-minute video from the author.  This week’s video is shown below and I’ll also share it during our Zoom call on Friday.

In this week’s chapter, McManus asks “how many of us have been called ‘just average‘…?”.  He further explains there’s two ways of looking at someone as “average”.  First, average meaning cut from a typical piece of cloth; I read that to say “nothing special”.  Or, the second way of the meaning behind average is to say someone’s character has convinced him/her to choose the path of least resistance.  You know, the simple way of going through life.  No muss, no fuss.

Kicking off the new book this week means we’re going to challenge ourselves right out of the gate.  One of my favorite quotes from Chapter 1 is “The journey of The Last Arrow begins when raise the bar….”.  Raising the bar means you’re going beyond “just average”.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, virtually, this Friday beginning at 7:30 am ET.  I’ll kick off the lesson around 7:45 am, but consider connecting to the Zoom a few minutes early to check-in with everyone.  Check your calendar invites for the Zoom information or reach out to me if you need those details.

Here’s the video primer for Chapter 1.