MAR 29, 2017 Devotional: “Teeing Up the Back Nine of Life: Birdie, Bogey or Par??”

If you’re a sports fan, like me, then this time of year is arguably one of the highlights.  We’ve had two exciting weeks of the NCAA basketball tournament, leading up until this coming weekend’s Final Four.  Adding to the basketball drama this year is the fact that we have a team from North Carolina and South Carolina both playing this weekend.  What will the Carolina’s do if we have an all-Carolina final game?  If could happen, some say!

Then, before we get time to catch our breath, the following weekend brings us the Masters golf tournament from one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world:  Augusta National.

Then, to further prove that God has a hand in all that we do, the Masters wraps up this year nicely enough on the Sunday before Holy Week.  Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Holy Week brings special meaning to me this year, however.  Personally, I’ll hit a major milestone on Good Friday, April 14th, when I’ll celebrate my 50th birthday!  Now for some of you doing WAWA today, you might be saying to yourself, “Been there … done that…”.  And for that group, I hope to still be doing runs like today for years to come.  And for others, the younger ones in the group, you’re probably saying, “Man…50 years old….that explains why he was running slower than the rest of us today!”

Regardless of what peanut gallery you fall into, 50 years gives me time to pause, think about my life, and ask “what am I doing now that I’m on the back nine of my life?  Am I slowing down and scoring bogey?  Am I just coasting along and settling for par?  Or am I living life to the fullest, picking up birdies along the way?”

Well, I can’t exactly answer that just yet.  According to some studies, the current life expectancy for an American white male in the United States is just under 77 years old.  So, if you take that into consideration, I guess I should have written this devotional 10 years ago when I was, figuratively speaking, finishing up the 10th hole.  I actually did the math last night…and at 50 years old, I’m getting ready to putt on the 12th green!

If you’re entering or have already entered the back nine of your life, I want you to ask yourself today, “Is God finished with me yet?”  Here’s a few people you might not know where God said, “I’ve got something big coming down the pipe for you still.”

If I told you the name, “Harland Sanders“, you probably would say “Who’s he?”.  Sanders had a pretty successful restaurant and hotel business in rural Kentucky off highway US 25.  When Interstate 75 opened up just a few miles from his establishments, his business began to dwindle.  No one was stopping or needing to sleepover anymore.

Sanders was nearly 65 when he started envisioning that he would go broke.  He began to work on perfecting his spice blend and quick-cooking technique for making fried chicken in 1952.  “The Colonel”, as his friends would call him, then began touring the country selling Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, and by the time he sold the business for $2 million in 1964, there were over 900 of them.

Now do you recognize the name?

Next, I’m sure we’ll all recognize the name “Ronald Reagan“, who never held public office until he was elected governor of California at age 55.  In fact, he won that governor’s race by over a million votes.  Later, no one would have ever imagined that Reagan’s political resume would amount to much, including winning two terms as president of the United States.

One more example?  Okay, one of my favorite stories of a Biblical elder is that of Noah.

In a world taken over by evil, violence and corruption, Noah was a righteous man. However, Noah wasn’t just a righteous man; he was the only follower of God left on the earth. The Bible says he was blameless among the people of his time. It also says he walked with God.

Living in a society saturated with sin and rebellion against God, Noah was the only man alive that pleased God.

It’s hard to imagine such unwavering faithfulness in the midst of total godlessness. Over and over again, in the account of Noah’s life, we read, “Noah did everything just as God commanded.” His life of 950 years, exemplified obedience.  That’s certainly a lengthy back nine golf course!

Finally, and closer to home for many of us here in Charlotte, is the story of Edgar Blanton Hamilton, who sadly passed away last weekend.  I was honored to attend the funeral for this great man, who I had never met, but am very fond of his son, Blanton Hamilton, who lives in Charlotte.  The church was filled to the gills.  Every possible seat in the wooden pews in the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Shelby, North Carolina was taken.  Folding chairs were brought out and eventually when every last seat was taken, still others stood along the back of the church to hear a fitting tribute to the man his family simply called “Dat”.  When it came time for family members to share thoughts of remembrance on Dat, our friend Blanton took to the podium first.  His eulogy of his father was a fitting tribute.  Blanton was stoic and genuine in his remarks, something I discovered was one of the many important lessons Dat had taught generations of family members over the years.  I really want to get the list of “Dat-isms” that Blanton referred to during his speech.  If you see Blanton, be sure to ask him about them.  I think he said the family had written down close to ninety Dat-isms at a recent family gathering.

What was most striking to me about Mr. Hamilton’s legacy was not so much that he had worked for the same bank for over 50 years….which is quite remarkable.  No….what I’ll remember most was when Blanton talked about his father turning down an opportunity to move his family to the northeast when his company offered him a promotion.  Instead, Mr. Hamilton opted to raise his family in the small North Carolina town of Shelby…where he knew the best values could be taught and preached to his children and, in later years, grand children.  Dat took a job at the local bank without having any banking experience.  Eventually, Hamilton became the president and board chairman of that bank….something probably unheard of by today’s corporate standards.

It became very clear to me through many comments shared that this man never put his life into “coasting” mode.  Rather, he used his years at the bank and his presence in the Shelby community to continue to influence others in the most positive ways imaginable.

Blanton’s eulogy left most in the congregation thinking, “That was a life well lived“….and it is certainly the case.  As for me, when I jumped back in my car for the drive back to Charlotte, I realized too that this man had tackled the back nine of his life in the most spectacular way.  He remained focused on his family, instilling wisdom across many generations, sharing his love of church and God without hesitation.

At one point during the service, a comment was shared that Ed, a former starting quarterback at Georgia Tech, excelled at most sports, minus one, however:  The game of golf.  Well, while that may be true, the wonderful man who was honored on Tuesday, might not have done well in the game of golf, but his focus on the “back nine of his life“, are testament of how well he birdied the game of life.

Rest in peace, faithful one….

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MAR 29, 2017 WAWA: Masters Prep….Hitting the Back Nine!

Welcome back to WAWA after a “Spring Break”…..break in our weekly workout!  This week, we’re back running.  A couple weeks ago, I showed you the front 9.  This week, we’re doing the slightly longer and hillier, back 9!  We’ll even do 5 hill repeats near the 17th tee box.

Simple workout….meet outside the Cornwell Center ready to stretch at 5:40 am.  We’ll step off shortly afterwards.

Weather forecast is dry and clear for our workout.  Temps will be mid to upper 50’s F.  Perfect!

See you on Wednesday morning…..Augusta and the Masters are right around the corner!

Approximate Route Distances:

Cornwell Center to MPCC (0.75 miles)

“Back 9” (2.5 miles)

MPCC back to Cornwell Center (0.75 miles)

TOTAL Distance (not including hill repeats) is approximately 4.0 miles

Workout Leader:  Mike Lenhart

Devotion Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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MAR 22, 2017: Spring Break…..Rest….No WAWA this week!

We’re taking a “break” from WAWA this week….as many of our regular participants are observing Spring Break with their families.  And Coach Mike is recovering from dental implant surgery this week too!

“Rest” is not only a good thing for our bodies….but it’s something God set the example for us as well.  We’ll be back in full-force next Wednesday!

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”  GEN 2:2

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MAR 15, 2017 Devotional: “This Song Strikes the Best Chord….”

Last Sunday evening, my wife was putting our two boys to bed, however I wasn’t quite ready to turn in yet.  Maybe it was the “spring ahead” time change that happened the same weekend.  Or maybe it was a long, 22-hour work effort the day before as my company was putting out one of our quarterly software releases.  You know the feeling….when you’re just SO tired…that you can’t even get to sleep?  Strange, I know.

Anyway, I was looking to see what movies might be On Demand and I came across a film I hadn’t heard about before…..it’s called “The Song” and if I told you who stars in it, you’d give me a puzzled look, just as I did when I was reading the summary on the television screen.  Anyway, as a lover of most music genres, but certainly country music, the overview described the plot of the son of a famous country singer, who falls in love with a beautiful young woman, and the story of the rise & fall of stardom.

That’s the “elevator pitch” overview.  However, here’s a little more on what I want to share with you having watched this great film with my wife.

First, it’s a Christian-themed film that was independently released in 2014. Still don’t remember the movie?   Not surprising as the film came out sandwiched between two “bigger” Christian themed movies, Noah and Exodus.  The main character is an aspiring singer-song writer named “Jed”.  Jed is the son of a famous country singer named “David King”, who has sense passed on, but Jed is continuously compared to his more famous father.  Jed really wants to be his own man, but realizes that he needs to leverage his father’s notoriety for traction in his own budding career.

Jed is getting mediocre singing gigs where audiences at best are around 25 people.  His manager suggests that Jed consider playing at a larger venue than he’s used to….a county festival, of sorts, in a neighboring town.  Jed reluctantly agrees.  In the next scene of the movie, we find Jed showing up early for the festival, making the necessary coordination for the show he’s to perform later that evening.  Enter “Rose” into the movie.  She’s Jed’s main contact for the festival, but also the festival owner’s daughter.  If ever there was a classic example of stumbling into something or someone unexpected, then this is it for Jed.  In the midst of his own efforts to find himself, he finds Rose….which leads to romance, courtship, and eventual marriage.

So far, so good for this Christian-based film, right?

Next, Jed gets his big break when he writes a beautiful ballad about his new bride, Rose, and it strikes a positive chord with fans across the country. Jed’s stock rises, as does his time away from home.  2-week tours, become 2-month tours, and before he realizes it, Jed is spending more time on the road than he is with is new bride and now, new son.  As Jed yearns for growing fame and success, he drifts away from his family and his values.  He becomes lost in all that is suddenly surrounding him.

The story reaches a crescendo as Jed admits to Rose that he’s been unfaithful to her while he’s been away.  She kicks him out of the house and tries to put the pieces back together of their failing marriage.  Pressures mount all around.  Jed even destroys the windows of a small church he is building for them on her father’s vineyard.  Symbolism is huge in this film.  Jed is destroying the church, his faith, and attempting to burn the bridge with God.

I won’t give away all the story lines.  I’d really like you to watch the movie, if I haven’t sold you on it already.

Finally, and most importantly, the story is a modern day version of the tale of King Solomon, complete with many overtones of the Song of Solomon.  Remember who I said was Jed’s famous father….?  David King.  Flip that around for a moment and you see one of the hidden overtones….”King David”, who was Solomon’s father from Biblical times.  Early on in the movie, Rose’s self-admission that she has but one favorite song, “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds, indicates yet another parallel to the Bible; more specifically, Ecclesiastics.  Recall the lyrics of that song taken nearly verbatim from Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastics:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

These lyrics and Biblical passage are key to the healing that takes place later in the story.

Grab some time this coming weekend or the days ahead to watch this film.  While this week’s devotional may be lighter in meaning to some, my prayer today is that you find a way to see The Song, look and listen for the Biblical narratives, and apply them as lessons in your own lives.

And, if you decide you like country music at the end of the movie, then I really have struck the best chord with you afterall!  Then again, maybe that’s asking a little too much!

Peace!

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MAR 15, 2017 WAWA: “Negative Splits, Positive Results”

Run-focused WAWA again this week…..interval training!

Temps will be a little bit on the chilly side this Wednesday morning….hovering around 30 degrees, but clear and dry.  I’ve got a great “stair repeats” workout planned for this week.  And it’s always nice and warm inside the stairwell!

Planning on seven sets.  Here’s the planned “route”:

-Start at the base of the “newer” stairwell at the Queens University parking deck.

-Run up the stairs

-Exit at the door at the top of the stairs, then run down the parking deck ramps.

-Once at the bottom, quickly turn around and run back up the ramps

-Enter the top of the stairwell through the door from the parking deck ramps

-Run back down the stairwell to the bottom…..done!

Here’s the catch.  We’re going to impose some time elements to each set as follows:

SET 1:  5:00 minutes to complete

SET 2:  4:30 minutes to complete

SET 3:  4:15 minutes to complete

SET 4:  4:00 minutes to complete

SET 5:  4:15 minutes to complete

SET 6:  4:30 minutes to complete

SET 7:  5:00 minutes to complete

“Rest time” between sets is dictated by the amount of time remaining from the targeted minutes to complete!

Total workout time on the seven sets is 31 minutes, 30 seconds.

Gather outside the Cornwell Center at 5:40 am….ready to stretch and run to the stairwell.

See you then!

WORKOUT LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

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