MAR 21, 2018 WAWA: “Running to the Mint”

This week, I’m passing the run lead responsibilities “baton” over to Burt Phillips, who commented earlier that he wanted to run through the Eastover neighborhood again….then he quickly followed up saying, “I have another hill I want to show you…”.  I suspect, the Mint Museum will again be along our route.

So with some trepidation, I’m playing the role of “WAWA follower” tomorrow!

Our distance should be somewhere between 4.5 – 5.0 miles.  We might break into two pace groups as a handful are on the “recovery train” from earlier injuries.

Come join us this week!

Weather will be lower 40’s and a little damp from expected overnight rain.  But skies will be dry by the time we hit the streets.

Gather outside the Cornwell Center at 5:45 am ready to go!

WORKOUT Leader:  Burt Phillips

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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MAR 14, 2018 WAWA: “Back to the Track”

I looked on the website and saw that we haven’t done an outdoor track workout since last summer!  Can you believe that??

So….outdoor track workout it IS for tomorrow morning!

Meet outside the Cornwell Center, ready to go at 5:45 am!  See you then!

Temps will be a crisp 30 degrees in the morning!  Clear and dry, however.  Good, o’ Canadian spring weather!

Here’s the workout:

-Easy jog from Cornwell Center to AG Middle School track.


Wellesley Avenue to Roswell Road
Roswell Road all the way to Colony Road
Colony Road past Myers Park High School
Turn right into gate for AG Middle School track just past Selwyn Elementary School
Distance = 1.75 miles

-Main Workout at the track:

Warm Up Set: 1 lap around track at moderate pace

Main Set:  6 laps around track at 5k race pace
-Sprint the straight-aways; jog the curves
-Negative split each straight-away from the previous one
-Participants will sprint a total of 12 straight-aways

Cool Down Set:  1 lap around track at moderate pace
Distance = 2.0 miles

-Easy jog back to the Cornwell Center

Same route as before, only in reverse
Distance = 1.75 miles

TOTAL workout distance = 5.5 miles

WORKOUT leader: Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL leader: Mike Lenhart

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MAR 7, 2018 Devotional: “My Neighbor’s Trash”

My neighbor, Robby, and I have a little game that happens most weeks on Tuesday evening.  It’s called “see who can grab the other’s trash can and take it down to the curb“.  It started out as a simple way that we were being “neighborly”….but eventually turned into a badge of honor.  Robby upped the stakes a few months back when he was taking our container down the driveway and saw another neighbor watching from across the street.

“You won’t believe that Mike pays me $60 a week to take his trash down to the curb,” Robby jokingly said as the across-the-street neighbor did a half-chuckle, wondering if Robby was telling the truth or not.

But all kidding aside, we love our neighbors and I’m confident they’d say the same.

So what got me thinking about neighbors this week?  Well, that’s the meat of this week’s devotional.

Several times a week, I drive along a cut-through street between Queens Road West and Selwyn Avenue.  And by “several times”, I mean literally at least 3-4 times a day.  For the past two weeks I’ve noticed two trash cans sitting out on the curb in front of one of the houses.

Just sitting there… after day.

And I wonder every time I drive past that house, “Why haven’t they put the cans back near the house?  Is the family in town?  Do their neighbors…….enough….to help out?”

In all honestly, there could be a number of reasons why.  Maybe the family is out of town.  Maybe there’s been a family emergency.  Maybe they’ve just had too much going on to realize the empty cans are out on the street.

I just don’t know.  But am I correct to think that something “neighborly” is not happening just a few blocks away from me?

You know, I’m guilty of ignoring the obvious as well.  There are neighborhoods adjacent and very near to my comforts in Myers Park where things have been left unattended as well.  But I continue to drive by and not offer to be neighborly.

Today’s run was a last minute audible and instead of running towards South Blvd, cutting through the Sedgefield neighborhood, we decided to run through Eastover.  If you’re from Charlotte, you’ll know the difference between Sedgefield and Eastover..but those differences alone were not why we chose a different route.

What if someone had suggested running through Grier Heights today?

“Grier Heights…..”, would have been the outcry.  “What good (routes) could there be in Grier Heights?”

Sound familiar?

Recall from the Gospel of John the following:

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Torah and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”  JOHN 1:43-46

In those days, the town of Nazareth was considered the lowest of the low.  Ironically, Nathanael, who made the bold statement above, was himself from the town of Cana, another small, nothing-great, kind of town.  And aside from the wedding miracle, not much has happened at all in Cana, even today. At least Nazareth was at the cross-roads of commerce, but Cana was really off the beaten path.

But Nazareth gets the bad rap.

So Jesus comes from the town with the least expectations of anything “good” can come from there.  Suppose for a minute that He had come from Jerusalem?  Would things have been any different?

But Jesus came to heal the sick, bring hope to the poor, energize the oppressed, and preach the way to salvation.  And the best way to do this was to come from a place of the lowly in order to confound the wise and powerful.  In the book, “Twelve Ordinary Men“, the author John MacArthur explains, “He even calls people from the most despised locations.  He can also take a flawed person who is blinded by prejudice, and He can change that person into someone used to transform the world.”

Nathanael was transformed….and I know you and I can too.

My prayer this week is that we look for opportunities to be neighborly.  And I don’t just mean taking up your neighbor’s trash can or sweeping their driveway.  Let’s all look for those neighbors who aren’t like us, in our mind, and look for the opportunities to see how alike we really are…

And soon, I promise, to plan a WAWA run route that takes us through Grier Heights….and beyond!


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MAR 7, 2018 WAWA: “The Long and Short of Things”

Two run routes planned for this week’s WAWA.  The long route is just under 6 miles and the short one is 4.5 miles.  You choose in the morning!  We’ll start together for the first couple miles before the shorter route folks peel off.

Here are the routes:



Cool temps in the morning, hovering just above 40 degrees.  Sun comes up at 6:46 am.  Don’t forget daylight savings is this weekend, meaning we’ll definitely be running in the dark for the next few months.

Tomorrow’s devotion is going to focus on “being neighborly”….so in that regard, invite a “neighbor” to join us in the morning!

Gather at the Cornwell Center at 5:45 am, ready to go!

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTION Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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MAR 1, 2018 Devotional: “The Preacher from the Dairy Farm”

Lately, I’ve been binge watching a new network I discovered among the countless cable channels that I normally skip over.  The network is called “Destination America”…have you heard of it?  My sensible side says you’re not missing anything if you haven’t tuned in yet.  But, if it’s a rainy afternoon and March Madness hasn’t started yet, then check it out.

The lineup of shows includes titles such as:  UFO’s: Uncovering the Truth, Kindred Spirits, Terror in the Woods, Mountain Monsters, Killing Bigfoot, Paranormal Survivor, and Ghostly Encounters.  Interested yet?

Maybe not.

There’s a world of unexplained stuff that happens in our world….and I’m not sure any of these shows are going to solve them.  But, some of the shows are entertaining, to say the least.

In my family, only my youngest son, Hill, will join me on the couch to watch these scary shows, much to his mom’s uneasiness.  So far, he hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night.  I promise to include him in moderation.

We actually got a good laugh at the story line for Mountain Monsters the other day.  And if I fully understood the story, I’d probably explain it here.  But that’s just not the case.

How do we explain the inexpiable, though?  Part of me thinks that God uses the “head-scratcher” times to draw us closer to Him, as a way to guide us along a path towards “truth”.

Last week, at my men’s fellowship group, I asked the gathering to share their individual thoughts about the passing of Reverend Billy Graham (earlier that week).  The responses ranged from “no impact, really, on my life” to “I became a Christian by watching Billy preach to the masses.”

But the most interesting response came from “Jonathan” who lives on a piece of land in Charlotte that was on or very near to the original dairy farm that Billy Graham grew up on as a child.

Much has been written over the years about Rev. Graham, his life in ministry, and especially the impact he had on varying degrees on several US presidents.  What’s fascinating to me, however, are the stories of his upbringing, his early life on his parent’s farm here in Charlotte.  I read recently that Billy would wake up early in the morning around 3 am and would milk 20 cows on the farm before school.  Then, after school, he would come home and milk another twenty!  Imagine that…..!

His parents were “pious Presbyterians”, according to one author, who led all the Graham children in prayer before every meal and insisted they learn a new Bible verse every day.  This religious rigor appealed to Billy, even at a young age.  And with Charlotte becoming a frequent stopping point for revivals, he became more drawn to the more evangelical style of preaching.  Billy would often practice some of the same preaching styles of those evangelicals in the quiet areas around the farm such as the tool shed, where he’d preach to oil cans and lawnmowers, or paddle down a creek nearby to relay a message of repentance to snakes and alligators.

That’s also where my friend, Jonathan, comes back into this story.  Jon explained to our group that Billy Graham also used to walk out to the cow pastures and practice preaching to the cows gathered in the shade.  And Jonathan said that there are many times when he’s outside at their home where he can feel Rev. Graham’s presence.  Remember earlier that said that Jonathan’s home now resides near (or on) what was formerly the Graham’s family farm!

Do I believe in the Bigfoot stories on the cable network?  Probably not.  But do I believe that God’s presence is alive near my friend, Jonathan’s home?  Absolutely, even it remains largely unexplainable to me!

Maybe Billy Graham said it best when he said:

I’m okay with not knowing all those answers.

Tomorrow, the Reverend Graham will be laid to rest in a private ceremony here in Charlotte.  His life, his story and his Christian faith, are tremendous guide rails for our lives today.  Critics of Reverend Graham will point to some of his beliefs that were considered controversial in the day.  But mostly, Reverend Graham’s life demonstrates his desire to share the gospel ….  and only the gospel.

“I’m just going to preach the Gospel and am not going to get off on all these hot-button issues,” Graham said. “If I get on these other subjects, it divides the audience on an issue that is not the issue I’m promoting. I’m just promoting the Gospel.”

Some might say these are lessons for today.

My prayer this week is that we take a moment to honor Billy Graham’s legacy of preaching the gospel, the Good News, to the thousands.  Perhaps, like me, you’ll take time to dig a little more into Graham’s life, and see where his lessons can apply to our every day lives.

Well done, faithful servant!


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FEB 28, 2018 WAWA: “Building Stairs”

This week, we’re taking a break from the “streets” and getting in some stair work!  So, if you’ve been reluctant to join us because you’re “not a runner”, then this is the week for you!

Meet outside the Cornwell Center per usual at 5:45 am.

We’ll jog across the street to Queens University to the taller of the two parking deck stairwells.

Here’s the workout:

There are six landings in the larger stairwell, I think.  We’ll run up to the first landing, then back down,  Then run up to the second landing, then back down; then up to the third, and back down.  All the way until we hit the final landing, and all the way back down.

But…wait…there’s more!

After finishing the final “up and down”, we’ll exit the stairwell and do one lap around the Myers Park Traditional track.

Finish at the base of the stairwell.  And that’s the first set!

We’ll repeat two more times, as time permits!

Cooler temps in the morning EXCEPT for the stairwell, which is always heated.  Plan accordingly.

Temperatures expected to be around 41 degrees F outside when we start.  Sunrise is at 6:45 am.

See you in the morning!

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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FEB 21, 2018 Devotional: “Sharing the Stench”

Many Sundays, I sit in the pew of my church and hear messages from our senior pastor, saying to myself, “Man, I wish I had thought about that message….”.  So, one of the challenges for me for these weekly devotionals is to come up with some original thoughts of how scripture is speaking to me.  Heavy comments for a Wednesday, I know.

Today, however, I am taking a slight deviation from that path.  The message last week from my pastor was compelling enough and very relevant to what I sense and feel from many.  We have a ton of hurt and pain in our country; and equally a lot of that in our own neighborhoods.

We watch the news, read stories on the Internet and can’t help but have a feeling of loss.  Violence in our schools, shootings at entertainment events, and fears across the board from all political sides of the spectrum.  And beyond all that, here locally in Charlotte, many have or are currently dealing with the personal loss of friends and family members.  I feel like I’ve been to a few more funerals than I ever expected this year and last.

In all of this, it’s natural to say, “Where is God in all of this?”.  It’s an age-old question that gets answered many times throughout the years.  But I find myself saying, “Yes, but it that really the right answer to Where is God in all of this...”

And, finally, last weekend, I think I heard it as best as I’ve ever heard.

Remember the story of Lazarus?  (Side note….there’s actually two Lazarus-es in the Bible.  I’m talking about the one who was a close friend of Jesus.)

From the 11th chapter of John, we recall:

32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”  JOHN 11: 32-37

How many of us, like Mary, immediately blame God when things go wrong?  As if to say in this case, “Lord, if you had been here, things would be alright.”  But if we truly believe in an omnipresent Father, then perhaps we’d realize that God is there all along.

Now, this is also not to say that things will always go right.  Pain in our world and in our neighborhoods is testament that bad things continue to happen.  And that really stinks, right?

Years ago, I had a brick ranch home in Atlanta.  And the city had taken over a few blocks of homes that were otherwise slowly being abandoned.  The city decided to buy the block of homes, tear them down, and create a large park/green-space, thereby making better use of the land.  Great idea, except for the notion that much of the rodent population that had infiltrated those abandoned homes, was now being displaced when the bulldozers came to knock down the homes.  One such critter found a comfortable home in the duct systems beneath my home in the crawl space.  I noticed the animal when a fowl smell started to erode through the vents in the house.  Yuk!

I called a critter exterminator….one of strangest guys I’ve ever met…but in his field of work, that was probably a job prerequisite….not kidding!  Within five or ten minutes, he found the dead animal in the crawl space and removed the smell.

That smell was pretty bad.

Now, back to our story in the book of John:

 39Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ 40Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’  JOHN 11: 39-44

When I heard pastor Joe Clifford reading this passage last Sunday, emphasizing the word “stench” as I have here, my thoughts drifted back to that rodent caught in my duct system.  I can only imagine how bad the smell might have been from a human being, dead for four days, in the heat of the Middle East, in the summer time.  Simply unbearable.

Yet, as Joe shared, Jesus shows up when things really stunk….literally and figuratively.  Jesus shows up in the stench of four days and, maybe, the stench of many years and months for others in the book of John.

And if God shows up during the stench of our lives, I know He’s there when things are smelling very rosy as well.  And while there is some comfort in knowing he’s there in both scenarios, I am especially grateful He’s there with me and with you in the stench of our lives.

It’s been nearly a week since Joe’s sermon and I hope you’ll see why I felt it was important to share his message about the “stench”.  It took a weird critter exterminator to remove the bad smell in my crawl space.  But it takes our loving Father to remove the stench of our lives.  Thanks be to God for that.

Prayers this week, continue, for our world, our nation, and our neighbors here in Charlotte.


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