Two Choices

Fast forward to the last page in this week’s assignment, Chapter 4: “How Can I Love My Enemies If They Are Immoral?”

Too many of us are like the Pharisee in Luke’s Gospel who prays, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” We should be more like the tax collector who, Luke tells us, “would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Arthur Brooks, p. 107
Jason Schubert

Now there’s certainly more to the chapter than just that final paragraph….so I’d encourage you to read the entire chapter! But, like me, perhaps you’ll start with that paragraph, put the book down and reflect…then begin with the first page of Chapter 4.

Jason Schubert leads us this week! I’ll look forward to seeing all of you starting at 7:30 am over Zoom.

Seize the day!

Peace!

Daddy…are we there yet?

Surely all of us can relate to that statement….”Daddy…are we there yet?” You’ve either said it….or heard … or even both!

Mike Lenhart

This week’s homework is reading Chapter 2, “Love Lessons for Leaders”. I’m signed up to lead…but am only half-way there….but I promise to be done with the chapter later today….getting us to the “destination” in plenty of time!

As I’m half-way through, I’m finding that the title is a little misleading. Maybe the second half of the chapter brings home some “love lessons”. Or perhaps it’s a play on words.

The chapter is a great continuation of the “don’t be a jerk” theme from last week, if that’s any consolation.

Same login for the Zoom meeting as last week. I’ll look forward to some quick fellowship at 7:30 am with you all. Then we’ll “get there” starting at 7:45 am.

Peace!

Being a Jerk

We’re moving along with the new series, Love Your Enemies….and this week we’ll discuss Chapter 2, “Can You Afford to Be Nice?”. This chapter’s title begs the age long statement: Nice guys finish last!

Hmmmmm…..what do you think about that?

There’s a belief in politics and somewhat in life, in order to succeed you have to be a jerk. But this kind of behavior often brings a ton of anguish, especially to those who have to be something (or someone) they aren’t. In fact, some leaders have said years later that they had to be someone they didn’t admire in order to succeed.

Arthur Brooks writes on page 62:

“Is being nice difficult? Sure…it requires skill and practice, like anything else that’s worthwhile. But it is not impossible…”

Ernie Meland

Do you believe that?

What has made you successful? Building unity or building power?

Ernie Meland leads us this week as we’ll dig into this week’s chapter.

Don’t be a jerk! We’ll see you starting at 7:30 am ET via Zoom. Ernie kicks things into gear promptly at 7:45 am. Have a great rest of the week. I’ll see you on Friday!

Peace!

Easier Said Than Done

Mike Lenhart

We’re back at it this week with our new study, “Love Your Enemies”. Homework this week is to read chapter one. Don’t wait until Thursday night….the chapter is a good 24 pages….so allow yourself some time to read and reflect.

Lots of great material that I’ll lead the discussion this week. Several great themes but what stands out to me is the story our author shares in meeting with the Dalai Lama. When asked how to respond to contempt in our lives, the Dalai Lama responds:

“Conquer anger though gentleness, unkindness through kindness, greed through generosity, and falsehood by truth.”

Dalai Lama

Easier said than done, right? I’m curious to get everyone’s thoughts on how we can do this. Is it even worth the trouble?

I think so.

Zoom invites should be in your email. Same details as last week’s gathering.

See you starting at 7:30 am ET this Friday!

Peace!

NEW Study Series Starts This Friday!

New Study Series

Happy New Year, gents! Looking forward to seeing everyone this Friday as we START a new study series, Love Your Enemies by Arthur Brooks.

Homework this week is to (only) read the Introduction section of the book. Jon Paschal will lead us this week and will introduce the new series. The SignUp Genius is updated with opportunities for men to grab a Friday to lead. I’d encourage you (and ask) that you consider doing at least one week during this new series.

Jon Paschal

The new series is very timely….I think that’s something we can all agree on. Psalm 133 proclaims:

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

This piece of scripture (and others) serve as the foundation of this new study. Can’t wait for our journey the next couple of months!

Calendar invites for the Zoom meeting have been updated. As always, reach out to me if you don’t have that information.

Remember, too, that starting a new series is a great opportunity to invite someone to join us. We all have friends, relatives, and co-workers who might benefit from our weekly fellowship. And in the world of “virtual” gatherings, you don’t need to be here in Charlotte to join our weekly time together……yet another reason to extend the invitation out to someone you care about!

Have a great rest of the week. I’ll see you on Friday starting at 7:30 am ET.

Christmas Message: Angels We Have Heard on High

Merry Christmas friends. Missing everyone and looking forward to when we gather again in January.

I wanted to share a Christmas blog I wrote four years ago. Things were very different in the world then but the message is timeless.

You know what my all-time favorite, churchy Christmas song is this time of year?  That’s an easy answer…..”Angels We Have Heard on High“…. Simple lyrics with a mash-up of Latin thrown into the mix:

Angels we have heard on high

Sweetly singing through the night

And the mountains in reply

Echoing their brave delight

Gloria in excelsis Deo

Gloria in excelsis Deo

For years the story of the Christmas miracle, that miracle of the birth of a Savior, tends to focus on a young virgin woman, unmarried, and somehow pregnant.  Today, I want to share some thoughts on another side of this miracle.  Imagine if you will that God has assembled a platoon of his best angels.  He tells them he is going to send his son to the world, and that this son, born human, will be a savior to all people.  God tells the angels, “Come with a plan on how we’ll announce this spectacular event….and let me know your thoughts ASAP.”

God leaves the room and the angels are left to come up with a plan.

The Bible shares stories about angels throughout the chapters.  Angels are used to deliver important messages such as:

  • Life and Death
  • Victory and Defeat
  • Judgement and Mercy

But this would be the most spectacular news yet.  The angels know they need lots of flash, bang, and fanfare.

The leader of the angels might be heard saying, “Let’s make a huge splash with the announcement.  Maybe have angels descending onto a huge gathering of elders and chief priests in the most important temple in all of Jerusalem”.

The angels package up their plan and God returns to hear their idea.

They pitch the idea….and it falls completely flat on our Heavenly Father.

Now God delivers his plan to the angels to implement.  It goes something like this.

God says, “You’re going to deliver the good news of the saviour’s birth….to a handful of shepherds who are tending to their flocks.”

The angels are stunned.  “Huh…..”, they must have said back to God.

“Okay, Father,” says one of the angels….”Then will the shepherds race to the temple, interrupt the high priests and announce the great news?”

“Nope”, says God.  “You’re going to alert the shepherds in the middle of the night.  It will be cold, and lonely, and quiet and no one else will be around.  Even the sheep will be sleeping.”

“And you know what else,” asks God.  “My son’s earthly parents won’t be married.  Mary, my son’s earthly mother, will be a virgin yet pregnant.  And this will be a source of great controversy”.

“But, Father,” the angels will plead one final time.  “Surely, the birth will be at a place of great splendor, because only under those conditions could a future king arrive?”

“Wrong again.  Mary and Joseph, my son’s earthly parents, will travel to the city of David, called Bethlehem.  Mary will travel on the back of a mule and they will not be able to find any comfortable place to sleep.  There will be one small inn…but no rooms will be available.  But a kind-hearted inn keeper will allow them to rest in the barn behind the inn.” says God.  “And that will be the place of this great miracle….”.

Probably not the actual planning session that took place in Heaven.  But I hope you can see my point.

I’ve often talked about shepherds in some of my devotionals.  I love the stories of shepherds and sheep.  God knew he could announce the birth to shepherds watching their flocks at night because they would not think twice about the message.  They’d take it at face value.  In fact, scripture reminds us that upon hearing the news, the shepherds “hurried off” to see the Christ-child.

Where are you looking for our Saviour this Christmas season?  Are you looking at all?

2020 has been a year like no other. My hope and my prayers for you today is that we all find our Saviour in the simple ways all around us.  God doesn’t want us to honor this season with fireworks and fanfare.  Be kind.  Love one another.  Be peaceful.  Be humble.  Think of others less fortunate.  Pray.  And remember the reason for the season.

I’ll leave you with a great quote from a very smart man:

“There are two ways to live your life.  One is as if nothing is a miracle.  The other is as if everything is….”  Albert Einstein

Look for the miracle of Christ’s birth.  And look for the miracles all around.

Merry Christmas and blessings to all

Giants to Kill and Dragons to Slay

Men….this week marks the completion of another book study; another series designed to build our character, call us to look inward and outward, and hone our skills as leaders. Many times, when we reach the end of a series, we’ll do a fair summary, discuss what we learned as the “bigger themes” and then move on to talking about the next study.

I don’t want to do that as quickly this time however. Like many of you, I’ve loved this book. Maybe it’s the video primers we’ve watched each week were Erwin McManus really personifies the messages. “Visuals” certainly help, right? But more than that, in Chapter 10 for this week, our author talks about being “battle ready”.

So….are we battle ready? Do we feel ready to “kill the giants and slay the dragons”?

And what are the battles we need to be ready to fight? Let’s talk about it this week.

Reminder that we’ll gather in-person at Community Matters Cafe, for those who feel comfortable doing so. We’ve reserved the back room beginning at 7:30 am. I’ll also have the Zoom up and running per normal so we can dial in those who can’t meet in person.

Mike Lenhart

Sharing the Chapter 10 video below. I’ve watched it a couple times now…and love what Erwin has to say. Here’s my favorite quote:

“…how will we ever know how much is in us? How will we ever discover the strength that God has placed in us? How will we ever know the courage that is waiting to be awakened in us; the hero that’s waiting to be awakened in us…..if God doesn’t trust us with the great battles? There are giants to kill….and dragons to slay….”

Erwin McManus
Chapter 10: Battle Ready

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

Peace.

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.

Peace!

Chapter 8: Find Your People