New Series: Faithful Presence

Happy New Year, everyone!

New year….new study series. This week we’ll launch into the book, “Faithful Presence: The Promise and the Peril of Faith in the Public Square” by Bill Haslam. You can find the link to order the book in a previous post on this website. And if you haven’t ordered it yet, no worries. Please plan on joining us this Friday regardless. You’ll always pick up some nuggets or two without even reading the weekly assignment.

Mike Lenhart

Speaking of this week’s homework, if you have the book, please read the book’s Prologue and Chapter 1 (“Divided and Angry”). I’m excited to introduce the book to everyone on Friday.

We had planned on continuing to have two options for our Friday gathering: Virtual over Zoom and in-person at Southpark. However, for the next few weeks, as the Omicron variant remains prevalent, we are going to stick with virtual only. If you need the Zoom invite, please reach out to me separately.

I appreciate your patience and flexibility. Reminder that whenever we gather, virtual or in-person, God is in our presence and for that we remain grateful.

Enjoy the rest of your week! I’ll “see” you on Friday beginning at 7:30 am ET. Lesson begins at 7:45 am ET.


First Series of 2022: “Faithful Presence”

Happy FINAL week of 2021! Wow…..this year seems to have flown by, hasn’t it?

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. Great to see many from our men’s group when we gathered for breakfast a couple Friday’s back.

There were several of you who indicated you’d like us to read “Faithful Presence” by Bill Haslam so I’m recommending that as our first study of the new year. Please go out and purchase the book in your preferred format (hardcover, audio, ect.). It’s available by clicking on the book image below.

Lastly, please consider signing up to lead a lesson or two. We’ll have a total of 14 Friday’s for lessons in the new book plus a breakfast fellowship on the 15th Friday…which also happens to be Good Friday!

Link to SignUp is below:

Sign Up!

Enjoy your New Year’s celebrations! I’ll see you next Friday, JAN 7th!

Peace and joy!

Guest Speaker: Leighton Ford

I couldn’t be more excited about this week’s Starting Friday gathering. Rev. Leighton Ford is our guest speaker this week.

I’ve had the privilege to meet and hear Leighton a few times here in Charlotte. Our men’s group is in for a treat as Leighton will share his thoughts on mentoring, leadership and hearing God’s plan for us.

For our group, this is certainly timely as we enter a period of discernment about how we can expand our efforts to more intentional servant-leadership opportunities. In my email to Leighton earlier this week, on the topic of “servant-leadership”, I simply said….”I think you know a little bit about that….!”

Rev. Leighton Ford

As a brief bio, here’s Leighton from a recent article in celebration of his 90th birthday back in October, 2021:

Ford, brother-in-law to legendary evangelist Billy Graham, spent 30 years as an associate evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association before founding his own ministry focused on mentoring.

Ford’s son Kevin recently joined as chief catalyst.

From his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ford still runs Leighton Ford Ministries, encouraging pastors, missionaries and evangelists around the world. Many are in their 20s and 30s; others have been mentored by Ford for decades.

Please gather over Zoom or in SouthPark beginning at 7:30 am ET. I’ll open us in prayer at 7:45 am, then will introduce our speaker.


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!