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!


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.


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!


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!


God’s Views on Work

Truth be told, I’m a little torn talking about “work” this week as I’m writing from a tropical family vacation in the Caribbean! Then again, if vacation is the product of hard work then maybe it’s the perfect setting for this week’s lesson! We’re beginning a new section our author calls “No More Clock Punching”. For this week, please study devotion days 69-73.

Tony Evans sets the priorities of work right out of the gate when he declares that “work came before sin” in the Garden of Eden. God toiled for 6 days of “work” when He made Creation. Allow that one to sink in.

This week’s readings are not designed to say anyone who doesn’t work is a sinner. Rather I believe it’s designed to allow us to focus on “why” God created work. As I say each week, it will take you 10 minutes to read this week’s assignment but I’d encourage you to ponder about it for a couple days. It’s a fascinating read this week!

Jon Paschal

Jon Paschal leads us this week. Still looking for leaders the final 3 weeks of our series so if you’re led to sign up, please do so or let me know! We’ll gather virtually over Zoom or in the Treehouse this Friday beginning at 7:30 am ET.

Now…..let’s all get to work!


I Know A Little Bit About Feathered Creatures….

I hope everyone had a great and enjoyable July 4th celebration with family and friends. My family escaped the summer heat in Charlotte and headed to cooler temps in the North Carolina mountains for a few days. Now, back in Charlotte again, I feel like I’m sweating like never before!

We’re also returning to our study series this week, picking up Devotion Days 63-68. When we last gathered, Rob Miller taught us about the importance of not allowing anything to go to waste. This week, I’ll finish his line of thinking by sharing our author’s theme of a “God who provides”.

One of my favorite verses in scripture is referenced on day 65:

Mike Lenhart

“Consider the birds of the sky. They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?”

Matthew 6:26

As you all know, I happen to know a little about the realities of raising feathered animals. I can fully relate to this passage from Matthew. I feed my backyard hens only once a day in the mornings, yet they graze around the yard all day long. They never go hungry because God provides them a healthy pasture of green grass and bugs. That’s what I think about when I read this passage from Matthew!

We’ll continue to meet in a hybrid way…offering both virtual over Zoom or in-person at the treehouse. Enjoy the rest of the week…and I’ll see you starting at 7:30 am ET on Friday!


Who’s Stuff is This Anyway?

“That which goes deepest to the heart, goes widest to the world…..”

I found that quote recently when I was doing a little research on a former pastor of mine when I lived in Atlanta; Dr. Vic Pentz, who was at that time, Senior Pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church.

This week’s focus in on all the “stuff” that tends to collude our lives and our vision. What made me think of Dr. Pentz, as it relates to this week’s devotionals, was when he preached a sermon once about everything going “back in the box” when it’s all said and done. He used the analogy of a board game, and telling kids to put everything away once the game was over. The metaphor was about our lives…and when it’s all said and done, we simply go “back in a box”.

Rob Miller

This week, please read devotion days 58 to 62. I purposively asked Rob Miller to lead us this week. And if you think this week is another spin on “tithing” then think again. It’s more about God’s gifts and what we are charged to do with them. Where is our focus and how are we establishing priorities to the things that ultimately have come from Him first.

Some of you might be asking, so what does that have to do with the quote from Dr. Pentz? Well, to me, it’s about focusing not on our possessions…but rather on what’s in our heart. It doesn’t cost anyone a dollar to dig deep into his heart. Think about that one….until I see you on Friday.

Virtual over Zoom or treehouse options for our weekly gathering remain in place!


2,162…..and counting!

I looked at my Facebook page after reading this week’s lesson (devotion days 52 to 57). I have two-thousand, one-hundred and sixty-two “friends” on my page. (I wrote that out to make it seem something greater than it actually is…)

Truth be told….I’m not proud of that number. I would rather it be…..10 friends.

Why…you might ask?

Maybe you’ll feel the same after reading this week’s lesson. Yes…I have a lot of friends…but how many of those are ones that will hold me accountable, allow me to hold them accountable, and what not.

Who do you call in the middle of the night when you need to talk?

Who do you text when you’re struggling with addictions?

Who can you debate politics and not get angry with?

Who are your top three …. friends?

I think you get my point. I’d prefer the number of friends to be 10…since that seems more of a reality.

This week, our author throws us a punch in the gut about how God defines “friends”. There’s a great section on Day 55 about the three types of friends we should have. Don’t miss that part.

Luke Nelson leads us this week. Join me in the Treehouse or via Zoom.

We’ll start at 7:30 am, per usual.

Have a great rest of the week!


Who’s Your Tonto?

Some of you might recall growing up watching black & white versions of The Lone Ranger show. The hero always had his trusted sidekick, Tonto, by his side. Later, in 2013, Hollywood came out with a remake of the old western show, in the form of a full-feature, high definition film. Johnny Depp plays the character of “Tonto”. I haven’t seen it yet…but maybe after this week’s assignment, daily devotions 47 thru 51, I’ll give it a shot.

Our author this week opens up the a new section of the book called “No More Playing the Lone Ranger” where he stresses the importance of community….especially that community that’s found through “church”. The Apostle Paul often described the church as a “body”…bringing light to the fact that the human body has many parts….but rarely does one part do something that another part does not recognize.

Jason Schubert

Paul, and our author, use this analogy to describe the importance of the church body still today. The head does not operate all by itself. Neither do the lungs, our fingers, and our heart. The body is not set up to be several pieces of “lone rangers”.

Jason Schubert leads us this week. Zoom and in-person (treehouse) options continue to be available. If you come to the treehouse this week, there’s a good chance of Bojangles biscuits! Yum!

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