APR 26, 2017: “Hey…..I know that guy…!”

How many of you have had moments where you’ve looked at someone, maybe across the room or sitting in a restaurant, and said to yourself….”Man, I know that person…but I just can’t put my finger on it…”.  Sometimes, the not knowing the name of someone will bug us for days!

Take my next door neighbor, Robby, who had just such an event happen the other day.  Last Friday, we added three new baby chicks to our backyard flock of egg-laying hens.  The new chicks were just a day-old when we picked them up at Renfroe Hardware store over in Matthews, NC.  The babies were born in Texas on Thursday, April 20th, and were immediately shipped via overnight truck transport to Renfroe.  Incredible, when you think about it!

Anyway, back to my story about my neighbor.  The new chicks have been quite the draw to our backyard or, more specifically, the storage room behind our garage where we have the new chicks set up in a chicken brooder of sorts.  Robby noticed one friend of ours standing in the middle of the yard while his wife and daughter visited with the babies.  The friend didn’t notice that Robby and his wife were wondering who the strange man was standing in our backyard, but were less alarmed when they saw me appearing from the “tour” of our baby chickens nursery.

But Robby knew he knew my friend from somewhere but couldn’t put a finger on it.  Last night, he confronted me in the driveway saying, “Who was that guy in your yard the other day.  I know I know him from somewhere.”  When I finally revealed my friend’s name, you could immediately see the sigh of relief on Robby’s face.

We’ve just finished up the Resurrection story in the Bible, but Jesus is not wrapping up his earthly “visit” just yet.  Along the road to Emmaus, Jesus picks up the pace with two of his disciples, but they don’t recognize him at all.  Maybe it was early morning or evening, and the ambient light was not readily visible.  Back in those days, the streets were not lined with beautiful lamp posts like we see today.  So maybe the lack of visibility made it hard to SEE the risen Christ.

Or perhaps something was preventing the two men from realizing it was Jesus walking along with them because they couldn’t hear Him or recognize his voice.  Have you ever walked through a forest and all you can hear are the loud noises of the crickets or other insects.  You can hardly hear yourself think!  Maybe the disciples couldn’t HEAR the risen Christ because it was just too noisy.

Then again, maybe it’s more likely that the two disciples didn’t recognize Jesus because they were still very distraught over the death of their friend, mentor and teacher.  Remember too, that there was pretty much a bounty on the heads of the remaining disciples so most of them were constantly looking over their shoulders.  Have you ever had so much pressure going on in your mind that you can’t even concentrate?  Sure….and maybe that’s why the disciples couldn’t THINK about Jesus walking along side them.

There are so many things going on around us in our daily lives that perhaps prevents us from SEEING, or HEARING or THINKING about Jesus Christ.  It you have the Lego toy version of Him, where you only take out Jesus when you need him….then you’ll surely never be able to see, hear, or think about Him.  And that just doesn’t seem right, don’t you agree?

Well, friends, here’s some good news.  It usually doesn’t take much for us to break the trance we’re under in order to remove those distractions.  It might be a television commercial, or a good book, or even something that somebody says, that will remind us of our risen Lord.

At what point did the disciples finally recognize Jesus…do you recall?  It was in the breaking of the bread when their eyes were opened.  Scripture says in Luke’s gospel:

“Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.  LUKE 24: 28-31

Poof….He disappeared says the final words in Luke…or did He really vanish?  Or was He ever really there to begin with?

Whatever you believe, the lesson for us today is that when we remove the distractions we can see Jesus more clearly.  What’s lingering in your lives that doesn’t allow you to SEE, HEAR or THINK straight when it comes to Him.  My challenge today is to look for ways to unclutter your minds, open your ears and eyes, and welcome the risen Lord who’s always around to remind us who He is.

Peace!

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APR 26, 2017 WAWA: “Royalty Run”

Weather looks great for tomorrow morning!  55 degrees F and no rain in the forecast!  We’re heading outside for a run you won’t want to miss.

Focus is “long and steady” running.  Longest route to date this year….approximately 4.5 miles.  The course is about 90% on roads with the name “Queens” on it!

Directions:

-Right outside of Cornwell Center parking lot along Selwyn Road.

-Right onto Queens Road just past Myers Park Baptist church.

-Continue along Queens Road.  Street becomes Queens Road West after we cross over Roswell Road.

-Continue down Queens Road West…down the hill and then right up another hill.  (Portion of “Booty Loop” route.)

-Continue the hill beyond the intersection of Hopedale, Granville, and Queens Road West.  At the top, turn right onto Queens Road.

-Follow Queens Road around back towards the Cornwell Center.

-Prior to Cornwell, turn right onto Radcliff Avenue.

-Turn left onto Stanford Place then left again onto Wellseley Avenue.

-Finally, left onto Queens Road and back into Cornwell Center Parking lot.

Click on map thumbnail below to enlarge view of route.

 

Please gather in the morning outside the main entrance to the Cornwell Center, ready to go at 5:40 am!

Workout Leader:  Mike Lenhart

Devotional Leader:  Mike Lenhart

 

 

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APR 19, 2017 Devotional: Are You Holding Pace….or Holding Faith?

OThis week’s WAWA took us inside…..whew!  I generally keep a keen eye to the weather forecast and with the threat of showers early on Wednesday, I made the go-ahead decision on Tuesday to plan an indoor track workout.  Admittedly, I felt a little bit like school administrators who cancel classes the day before at even the hint of snowflakes.   Of course, just like the threat of snowflakes, there wasn’t a drop of rain to be seen anywhere this morning!  Oh well….we ran inside anyway.

Now if you read the workout or, better yet, did the workout this morning, then you probably felt like the hardest part was the exercises we did off the track.  I mean, really….who reaches near muscle failure before running laps around the track??  So, if the burpees, lunges, squats, and jacks were tough to you….then you’re probably not alone.

Truth be told, I designed the running portion of the workout as the more challenging part.  I asked each of you to determine your 5K race pace and then had you attempt to hold that pace while running multiple laps around the track.  It’s challenging to hold a pace, consistently over time, especially if you’re fatigued.  Congrats if you came close to doing that this morning.

Holding “pace” is also challenging in our daily spiritual workouts.  We all know what we’re supposed to do.  Keeping our minds on the right path; follow God’s instructions; take care of one another.  Day in and day out.  Maintain that pace and you’ll get to heaven, right?

But what about the times when we break stride?  Just like this morning, I bet you had a few laps where you came up short of your goals, right?  I asked you to keep pace on your laps, but I increased both the intensity of the strength exercises as well as the number of times you had to run around the track.

See where I’m going with this?

Life doesn’t give us the same exercises, reps, and laps on a daily basis.  Some might point out that “variety is the spice of life”.  But I say, not every spice is so sweet.

The only thing consistent in my life these days seems to be “change“.  I’ve been to two funerals in the past 6 months.  And that’s more than I’ve been to in the past 5 years.  Friends of mine and families I know are hurting.  How do they keep stride and how do I maintain my pace too, given all the pain I see?

Here’s a secret I’ve learned:  It’s okay to break stride.  It’s okay to fall behind.  And it’s even okay to skip WAWA every now and then.  You don’t need to hold onto that pace.  You need to hold onto faith.  One author I read recently describes the importance of having faith by saying:  “Without faith, we couldn’t expect that things would turn out all right for us no matter what the situation might be.

Some might argue that faith is not necessarily a spiritual thing.  I mean, sure having faith means we trust that the airplane won’t fall out of the sky from 30,000 feet, that cars won’t cross the center line crashing into oncoming traffic, or that if you fall asleep you won’t forget to breathe…and thereby pass away.  Those are all true.

But I believe the true value of faith is aligned with our Heavenly Father’s  greater plan for each of us.  So, yeah, I guess that means I lean on the side of faith being a spiritual thing!

Here’s five quick reasons that same author explains why having faith is so important.

First, a focused power of faith breeds abundance.  Our minds are quite powerful, when put to good use.  But if they’re idle, then we can drift away from any sense of positivity.  Faith allows us to replenish our spirits when things seem bleak.  Faith reminds us that the more we focus on life, the more we get out of it!

Next, faith reminds us that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  I know that may sound cliche, but it’s certainly true.  Today’s workout is perhaps one small example of that.  Still, on a much larger scale, faith calls us to consider the story of Job from the bible.  All of Job’s worldly possessions were taken a way.  But Job didn’t throw in the towel.  He kept the faith and in the end he emerged much stronger in nearly all aspects of his life.

Faith helps us discover our purpose in life.  When going through the tough times of life, it’s often our faith that pulls us along and guides us in the direction we need to be going.

Additionally, faith will always surpass anxiety, stress and fear.  Mental stress can lead to fatigue, which can lead to further physical and mental problems.  Faith, however, can be the secret sauce in your pantry to reduce the amount of stress, anxiety and fear in your life.  Give that one a shot the next time the walls are caving in around you!

Finally, faith can act as a pathway to finding solutions in your life.  For the most part….and for most of us….things don’t tend to happen overnight.  We all know someone who is waiting on their break to happen.  Perhaps it’s that person who’s searching for the right companion.  Or the worker who’s been laid off, still waiting for the next opportunity to roll us their sleeves and get things going.  Regardless of your situation, recognize that your faith might be the spiritual compass that allows you to safely unhinge from where you think you should be going, and instead point you in a completely different direction.

My prayer for us this week is that we allow ourselves to fall off our marks when it comes to maintaining that steady pace.  Let yourself go if for no other reason than to understand that eventually we all break stride.  Keep the faith.  Recognize that faith is the glue that holds us together, protects us from harm, and points us in the right direction.

Here’s a favorite quote to leave you with today:

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” — Thomas Aquinas

Peace!

 

 

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APR 19, 2017 WAWA: Indoor Track Training

Great run-focused WAWA this week!  Strong chance for rain in the morning so please join me indoors!  We’ll meet in the main lobby of the Cornwell Center.  Main focus will be using the indoor track, with some secondary efforts on strength exercises.

Here’s the plan:

WARM UP:  8 laps at an easy pace on the indoor track.

Distance = 1/2 mile

SET 1:

Strength Circuit:  10 marine burpees, 20 pushups, 30 jump squats, 40 push-pull jacks, and 50 alternating lunges

Running Circuit:  4 laps on indoor track at 5 km race pace

Rest:  1 minute

Distance = 1/4 mile

SET 2:

Strength Circuit:  10 marine burpees, 20 pushups, 30 jump squats, 40 push-pull jacks, and 50 alternating lunges

Running Circuit:  4 laps on indoor track at 5 km race pace, 1 minute rest, then 4 additional laps on indoor track at 5 km race pace.

Rest:  1 minute

Distance = 1/2 mile

SET 3:  

Strength Circuit:  10 marine burpees, 20 pushups, 30 jump squats, and 100 reverse crunches

Running Circuit:  4 laps on indoor track at 5 km race pace, 30 seconds rest, followed by 4 additional laps on indoor track at 5 km race pace; 30 seconds rest, and final 4 laps on indoor track at 5 km race pace.

Rest:  1 minute

Distance = 3/4 mile

Curious about your 5K pace calculator for Cornwall’s indoor track?  16 laps on the Cornwell Center’s indoor track = 1 mile.  So, here’s the number of seconds per lap you’ll need to do based on certain 5K race finishing times:

 

COOL DOWN:  4 easy laps on the indoor track

Distance = 1/2 mile

TOTAL Workout Running Distance = 2.25 miles

Workout Leader:  Mike Lenhart

Devotion Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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APR 12, 2017 Devotional: A Wednesday Calm Before the Friday Storm…..

Pastor Derek stood in front of the adult Sunday School class and asked the question:  “Okay…we’ve covered Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday…..now what about Wednesday?”  The topic for class that day was reviewing all the daily events of Holy Week, between Palm Sunday and the Resurrection a week later.

Let’s quickly review the events so far.  On Sunday, “Palm Sunday”, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.   He is once again the unassuming King even though the fanfare seems equal to others coming from more traditional royalty.  Jesus is reaching rock star status!

Next on Monday, Jesus drives the money changers out of the temple.  Famously, the Bible says He chased out the others from the temple saying, “My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of robbers.”  Some accounts of Monday describe Jesus as angry, driving out the sellers with a whip.

On Tuesday, Judas is approached by the chief priests where he agrees to betray Jesus.  An agreement is reached, money exchanged, and Judas waits for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowds might be present.

Now….back to Wednesday.  Derek’s classroom was relatively silent until the pastor added….”It’s not a trick question.”  To that, someone shouted out, “Absolutely nothing.  Nothing happened on Wednesday!”

“Correct….”, replied the pastor.

Wait a minute.  This is one of the most famous weeks in the Bible and you mean to tell me nothing happened on one of the days?  Were the Biblical scribes of the time asleep on Wednesday?  Did something happen, and the records just get lost?  Was everyone consumed with a really tough WAWA that day?

I suppose the answer is up for interpretation.

Consider this as you ponder some other messages in the events leading up to the Resurrection.  Maybe, Jesus and his followers were simply exhausted.  It had been a very busy last couple of days.  Parades in Jerusalem.  Getting a little postal on the merchants in the temple.  Perhaps it’s not a far stretch to believe that the human emotions of needing rest consumed Jesus.

Human.  Sometimes we get lost in the fact that Jesus walked this earth as a human.  He experienced emotions, highs and lows, anger and joy.  He probably got sick every now and then too.

Maybe, too, Jesus, the “human”, was having some doubts about what he was supposed to do in order to fulfill our Father’s promise:  Sending His only son to wipe away our sins.  If you knew your death was quickly approaching, wouldn’t you take a day to “stay under the radar”?

Admittedly, I have many days where I have doubts in God’s promise to us.  We live in a broken world and that creates many broken people.  I’m no different.  We know what’s promised at the end….but yet, we ignore that message.

This year, as you celebrate the Resurrection story, give some thought to the calm that occurred in the middle of the week.  Jesus takes a pause, briefly, to collect his thoughts.  Here’s the good news, however.  Like many of us, Jesus was perhaps at a crossroad.  He chose to fulfill his Father’s promise.  And we are all forgiven as a result of that decision.  How hard can it be for us to pick up our own crosses in daily life with a more dedicated focus on God’s promise?

My prayer today is not only for the blessings of this Easter season, but also that we remember Jesus walked among us as “human”, knows any possible situation we might experience, and yet died for our sins that we might enjoy everlasting life.

It’s okay to have doubts.  It’s God’s way of calling attention to times when you need to “pause” and allow time to reflect.

Peace!

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APR 12, 2017 WAWA: The Return of Twin Peaks!

Bringing back one of the group’s favorite WAWAs from earlier this year…..running up and down BOTH stairwells at Queens, with exercises in-between!

Running AND strength focused!  Shorter distance running from the last couple of weeks….which might be a bonus/incentive to some!

Here’s the general framework.  We’ll meet outside the Cornwell Center at 5:40 am, ready for a quick stretch.  Then we’ll run across the street to the Queens University of Charlotte “taller and newer” parking deck.

We’re planning a total of 8 sets.  Each set will take us UP the newer stairwell, then directly back DOWN.  Exit the stairwell and run to the “medium-sized” and older stairwell, and run UP that stairwell.  Exit the stairwell at the top to the parking deck.

At that point, since it’s SET 1, we’ll complete 8 exercises as shown in the table below, 10 reps each.  Finally, we’ll run down the parking deck ramps, exit the deck and gather at the base of stairwell #1 for the next set.

Each set will drop the number of exercises by 1, but the number of reps might increase.  For example, SET 2 has 7 exercises, SET 3 has 6 exercises, …. SET 8 has just 1 exercise.

For the accountants and bankers in our group, each set has fixed exercises (stairwell #1, stairwell #2, and running down parking deck) and variable exercises as explained above!

One more bonus….witness a peaceful moon setting and the beginning of a sunrise from the rooftop overlooking the Queens University campus!

See you at 5:40 am!

WORKOUT LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTION LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

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APR 5, 2017 Devotional: “Roy, Redemption and the Resurrection”

Many of you are old enough to know about the “Three R’s” that we often heard about growing up:  “Reading, Writing, and (A)rithmetic”.  This week, I’ve taken pause to think about a new set of R’s…..Roy, Redemption, and the Resurrection.

If you’ve even been half-awake the last couple of days, then you know that the NCAA basketball final game was this past Monday evening.  A local favorite (unless you went to Duke), the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), emerged as one of the last two teams standing, pitting themselves against the “no longer called Cinderella” team, the Gonzaga Bulldogs.  Our UNC Tarheels were crowned the victors sometime close to midnight, Eastern Time, winning the game by a final score of 71-65.

Now if that were the only storyline for this week, then I’d wrap up now.  But, you already know that’s not the case.  So, this week, I’m thinking about a new set of three R’s.

First, Coach Roy Williams is my first R.  The longtime head coach for the Tarheels, was formerly the head coach at the University of Kansas between the years of 1988 and 2003.  At Kansas, Roy had an overall winning percentage of .805, won nine conference titles, and took the Jayhawks to fourteen consecutive NCAA tournaments.  During his tenure at Kansas, Roy coached in two final championship games (in 1998 and 2003), losing both however.  After the 2003 season, Roy returned to the University of North Carolina, his alma mater, taking over the head coaching role, where he currently sits today.  Since arriving to UNC, Roy has had a winning percentage of .776, has taken the team to the NCAA tournament thirteen times, and has won the overall championship three times.  Roy stands as the only division 1 men’s basketball coach to have won over 350 games at two different schools.

All that aside, what has always stood out to me is Coach Roy’s character, the way his players react to his leadership, and his heartfelt love for the team.  If you were up late on Tuesday night, like me, hopefully you saw the trophy presentation made to the Tarheels.  At one point, the championship’s Most Outstanding Player (MOP), point guard Joel Berry II, was being asked my CBS analyst, Jim Nance, about some of the aspects of the game.  I don’t recall the questions, nor do I remember the answers.  However, what struck me was the poise and politeness from Berry.  His answers were always precluded with a “yes sir”, coming across most humbly and sincere.  This “kid” had just won the national championship game, was named the MOP, and yet he kept the composure that would make any parent and coach extremely proud.  I’m not taking anything away from Berry’s upbringing, but few might disagree that the character of Berry is a direct reflection of the mentoring from Coach Roy.

Next, redemption.  Last year was a blur for me, having just moved to Charlotte a few months earlier and just started a new job, I had lost sight of the outcome to last year’s final game.  In that game, UNC lost the game, a heartbreaker, when Villanova sank a jump shot in the final seconds of the game to declare victory.  That loss left a sting in the mouths of many Tarheel players, who dedicated this season to avenging that loss in the 2016 title game.  Similar to another Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) college’s program, the Clemson Tigers who had loss the 2016 football title game, UNC’s team set their sites on one goal:  Redemption for the 2016 loss.

Like any season, this year’s was a series of ups and downs.  The Tarheels never dropped out of the Top 20 rankings, although there were weeks when being a formable contender for the tournament seemed bleak at best.  But you started to see things clicking on all cylinders as the days to the final season were winding down.  The Tarheels were peaking at the right time, it seemed.  Could this be the year of redemption after all?

Sometimes you need great skills and other times you need great luck.  UNC had both this season, especially in the tournament.  Just ask Luke Maye.  In the final game, Gonzaga keep things close….probably too close for the UNC faithful.  However, with less than a minute to go in the game, and the possession arrow pointing towards the ‘Heels, you had a sense that they were going to win.  The Tarheels rallied at the right time, blocked a critical shot by the Zags, and sealed the victory with a crushing slam dunk by Justin Jackson.  Redemption, indeed!

Finally, my last R is the Resurrection.  This Sunday we’ll celebrate Palm Sunday.  On the Christian calendar, Palm Sunday represents the gateway to Holy Week.  In a mere matter of days, Jesus goes from being celebrated as the uncommon king, riding into town on the back of a donkey, to his arrest and murder on a cross.  And, three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

As Christians and “believers”, we know how and why this happened.  This was part of God’s plan, and fulfilled by his beloved son, Jesus, as the way to absolve us of our sins.  For all of us, there is a final buzzer in the game of life.  The Resurrection is our insurance to endless life in heaven, and, for some, days of basketball where every shot is probably celebrated as the “game winner”.

As you lean forward into another Holy Week, join me in celebrating not only our earthly excitements given to us by great coaches, players, and teams, but also the promise of joining our heavenly Father one-day through the gift of the Resurrection.

Peace!

 

 

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