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.


Are You Ready for Some…….Archery??

Reminder, gents, that we’re not meeting this week, SEP 18th.  Taking a “break” between study series.

We’ll gather over Zoom next Friday, SEP 25th at our normal time, 7:30 am ET.  Lesson will begin at 7:45 am ET.

The Sign Up Genius is updated to include 10 weeks for our next series.  Please take a moment to lead one or two or more of the Fridays available!  You should already have the Zoom information in your calendar invites.

Lastly, if you haven’t ordered the next book already, today is a good day to do so!  I’m old school…so I need to feel the pages beneath my fingertips.  If you’re “new school” and use the electronic version, then you don’t necessarily need to rush!

Next Book: The Last Arrow-Save Nothing for the Next Life by Erwin McManus

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Arrow-Save-Nothing-Next/dp/1601429533

Also, here’s a great series of videos that we’ll use to support each week’s chapter assignments: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFhpcdq6jK_YnSV-Zstal2nJgPhHrIoJa

Until then, enjoy this week off!  See you next Friday!


So that’s It?

Sometime ago in middle school, I believe…..I was taught “if you want to know the key points within the chapter of a book, then flip to the end, and read the last couple paragraphs.”  Admittedly, I’ve tried that more times than not, and even most recently in reading “Run with the Horses”.  If the book is written well, then the author most likely does a great summary of that particular section.

This week, as I started down the road of the final chapter of the book, this week’s homework, I was very impressed with the book’s ending, perfectly summarized in the final two paragraphs.

Spoiler alert….if you haven’t finished the chapter, then I’m about to share a few thoughts that maybe you want to discover on your own.

Peterson references Flannery O’Connor’s comment that “nothing happens in a story unless someone is married or shot in the end.  Some might argue that our story of Jeremiah flops, since he doesn’t die and doesn’t get married.  We are left asking ourselves, “Is that it??”.

For most of us, that IS IT, right?  Whether Jeremiah is successful or unsuccessful is really up to our interpretation.  And I think that’s true even today, about our own lives.

“So, that’s it?”

Or……“So….that’s it.”

Notice the difference?

Let me pause on that note.

Luke Nelson leads us this week.  Always great to wrap up a series with a guy named “Luke” bringing us home!

No Zoom meeting this week.  We’ll meet at The Community Matters Cafe for breakfast and wrapping up.  Please remember to bring a mask when you enter the cafe; you can remove the mask once you sit down.  Anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable gathering in-person is certainly excused.

I’ve asked the restaurant to use their private room.  Waiting to get confirmation on that request or, if not, we can simply take one of the longer tables in the main dining room.

I’ll see you tomorrow at 7:30 am for a great meal, fellowship, and wrapping up a wonderful book!

Reminder that we won’t meet next Friday, SEP 18th.  We’ll begin the next series over Zoom on the 25th.

The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life” by Eugene McManus.  https://www.amazon.com/Last-Arrow-Save-Nothing-Next/dp/1601429533


We Gotta Eat…..

You’ve certainly heard of the old saying, “How to you eat an elephant?”

The answer is, “One bite at a time!”

We’re down to only two chapters left in our current study and this week, Chapter 15, doesn’t tell us to “eat the elephant one bite at a time”.  Nope…we’re only told that we have to “eat the elephant”.

Now, before anyone goes skimming through the chapter “fact-checking” me, I’ll be fully transparent saying there’s no reference by Peterson about anything remotely elephant-related.  However, one of the things I took away from the reading was how God calls us to step out of our comfort zone, experience the global village, and understand that the human reality is “to grow in conscious and healthy relationship with all….”.  In other words, you gotta eat the entire elephant!

God is not confined to the “local”, so our efforts must likewise not be confined.

Jason Schubert, thankfully, leads us this week.  The global village is not just taking a mission trip to another country, which Jason certainly has experience doing.  How are we thinking “big picture” in our faith rather than just being faithful to our community of Kool-Aid drinking peers?

Remember the Great Commission?

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  MATT 28:19-20

Maybe Peterson (and Jeremiah) are onto something here….?

Same Zoom info as last week.  Hope to catch up with everyone beginning at 7:30 am. Jason will launch our lesson at 7:45 am.