DEC 20, 2017 Devotional: “Embracing the Light; Enjoying the Season!”

Today’s WAWA run, our final one of the year, was affectionally titled “Light Run”….and I think some folks thought o’ Coach Mike was serving up a layup to round out the season. You know….and easy paced jog along the streets of Myers Park.  Then again, those who know me too well knew better!  And while the pace was strong, it was do-able.  And by “light run”, I instead served up a route that took us along two of my favorite holiday streets here in Charlotte: Picardy Place and Hillside Avenue.

Both streets lived up to all the expectations this morning.  And despite a steady drizzle, our run group enjoyed the run, I think, even if no one was ready to admit it!

After the run, I shared a devotional that recalled some initial fear of darkness that I used to have.  In my paratrooper days in the Army, we would often conduct parachute jumps in the middle of the night.  As if jumping from a plane wasn’t scary enough, try doing it when you can’t even see the ground as you’re leaving the aircraft, carrying well over 100 pounds of parachutes and other gear.

The hardest part for me besides the obvious darkness, was the landing!  We were taught to watch the horizon to know when the ground was quickly approaching.  I’m serious….you CAN actually see a slight difference in shades where the skyline meets the horizon.  And if you pay attention to that, you can more than likely anticipate when the ground will find your feet!

The noise and chaos of being inside an aircraft with other paratroopers followed by the rush of the aircraft engines as you leap out the door, were always followed by the dichotomy of quiet, stillness….and complete darkness when we gathered on the ground.

Silence was key, after all this was a military operation.

After rolling up our chutes, we’d reach down into our rucksacks and find the night vision goggles.  Quick snap onto our kevlar helmets and the well-tuned military unit would be off on our mission.

There was always a sense of comfort and safety when I had some “light” with those night vision goggles to guide me along the way.

We all fear darkness, right?

Two thousand years ago was no different.  Maybe even a little worse.  There were no street lamps and certainly no night vision goggles.  When the sun set, it was pure darkness.  In those days, many lived by the theory to stay indoors for nothing good could happen in the darkness.

Think back to the story of our Savior’s birth.  Shepherds lay awake in the fields watching over their sheep.  Maybe they had campfires, but more likely they did not.  I can even imagine a shepherd with his head resting again his favorite, fluffy sheep, not only to stay warm but also for a comfortable pillow.

Suddenly, one angel and then a heavenly host of angels appeared to announce the Savior’s birth.

Whoa.

Now imagine that.  It’s quiet and dark outside and a flash of brilliant lights appear out of nowhere.  Those shepherds must have feared for their lives.

And they did…initially.  But we know how the story progresses.  They were comforted by the angels’ words, this heavenly host that some scholars have described as million angels and lights!  Shepherds were comforted by the lights.  They felt safe….again.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.  (LUKE 2:8-15)

This holiday season, I hope you will remember three things….and this is my prayer for us as we wrap up another WAWA year:

First, don’t fear the darkness.

Next, embrace the light.

And finally….enjoy the season.

Merry Christmas all!

God Bless.

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DEC 20, 2017 WAWA: “Ending the Year on a Light Note”

Tradition or not, we’ve ended each year of WAWA  (I think) with a “light” run around Myers Park.  And by “light run” I mean that we design a route that takes us along two holiday festive streets with lots of Christmas lights, Picardy Place and Hillside Avenue!  Each street is unique in it’s own right; Picardy is known for their strings of white lights that zig-zag along the street.  And Hillside is known for beautiful and colorful Christmas balls that seem to float among the tree tops!

Weather right now is calling for temps in the mid-50’s and probably some morning drizzle.  That could all change before Wednesday, but we’re a “GO” regardless!

Run route is at this LINK..

Run distance is about 4.5 miles, easy pace, with only one real hill along the route when we hit Hillside Avenue.

Please gather inside the lobby of the Cornwell Center, ready to go at 5:45 am!

See you then!

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTION Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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DEC 13, 2017 WAWA: “Calling all polar bears!”

If you asked me earlier this morning, I was going to post-pone WAWA for this week, due to the weather forecast that calls for 25 degree temps at 6 am tomorrow morning!  Yikes!

For those of you, however, who want to brave the cold, I do have an “un-official” workout planned that’s mostly indoors.

Meet in the lobby of the Cornwell Center at 6 am for a “modified”, 30-minute stairs workout.  We’ll grab some light dumbbells and head over to the “heated”, fully closed in, parking deck stairwell at Queens University.  These stairs are no joke…but I promise you’ll be warm.

Bundle up for the run over, then we’ll take off a layer or two for the workout.

WORKOUT:

6 sets of stairs carrying light to medium dumbbells.  DB workout at the top will vary, then descend back to the bottom.

Set 1:  Bicep curls (25x)

Set 2:  Overhead presses (25x)

Set 3:  Plank DB rows (10x each side)

Set 4:  Standing lunges with dumbbells (10x each side)

Set 5:  Push-Pull jacks with DBs (15x)

Set 6:  DB kickbacks (20x)

We should be back to the Cornwell Center NLT 6:45 am.

Piece of cake….!  Or pieces of frozen yogurt, maybe!??

Remember, start time is shifted back by 15 minutes for this week!

See you in the morning!

And, if we’ll miss you in the morning, please plan to join us NEXT Wednesday at 5:45 am for the final WAWA of 2017…..our annual “Lights Run” up Hillside Avenue and down Picardy Place.

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTION Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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DEC 6, 2017 Devotional: “You had me at GO…”

My Friday morning men’s group is getting ready to start a new study series on the book titled, “Twelve Ordinary Men” by John MacArthur.  The book’s back cover really drew me in lately…..so much so, that I’ve even started reading ahead of the group’s timeline to “start”!

The back cover states:

“When you take a fresh look at the disciples, you’ll be faced with a stunning fact:  The men the Savior chose were ordinary.  Hopelessly human.  Remarkably unremarkable.  But they were available and obedient to the Master’s call.”

Have you ever read stories in the Bible, especially those involving the disciples, and wondered, “Are these guys the bad news bears of their time”?  No disrespect intended…but really, could these guys get it together?

Here’s a couple examples.

Remember when the loaves and fishes story from a few weeks back?  You’ll recall that one of the disciples, Phillip, when asked by Jesus “where to buy bread for these people to eat”, he simply responded…almost in panic fashion…”it would take more than a half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite”.  (John 6: 5-7).

Test #1 complete.  Jesus….1  Disciples….0

Next, there’s the time when Jesus and the disciples were out at sea.  Jesus had fallen asleep, when a storm came down upon the lake.  The storm was so bad that the boat was taking on water, and the disciples were in full-blown panic mode!  (Side note….as a former Army guy, who has never been fond of boats, Navy, etc…..I probably would be in panic mode as well!)  The disciples went to Jesus, waking him up saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (Luke 8: 24).  Jesus calmly wakes up, rebukes the wind and raging waters.  Then turns to the disciples and says, “Where in your faith…..??”

Test #2 complete.  Jesus….2  Disciples….0

Finally, and there are many more, but my last example comes from the make-up of the twelve apostles that Jesus selected.  There was a fiery hothead named Simon.  A guy with many doubts named Thomas.  A nasty, hated tax-collector named Matthew.  And let’s not forget a betrayer named Judas.  At their peak, most would trust and believe in Him.  Still others would deny Him.   All would eventually at one point in time, abandon Him.  And Jesus knew all of this ahead of time.  Regardless, He was will to bestow upon them His power to represent the Kingdom.

Should I still keep score?

Here’s the good news, however.  They DO get it together and over 2,000 years later, Christianity is all throughout the world.  No bad for a group of “ordinaries”, huh?

The primary purpose of today’s run was to honor a great friend and mentor, Derek Macleod, who has been the Outreach Pastor at Myers Park Presbyterian Church for nearly the past three years.  Personally speaking, Derek has been a friend beyond words.  Hard working, approachable, funny yet stubborn (at times), and always willing to listen.  We’ve spent days in the blistering heat of El Salvador building habitat homes.  And other times inside the granite walls of the church here in Charlotte, in Bible study.

Like the author of the book about the 12 ordinary men, Derek has been able to translate our “normal” lives here in Charlotte, and challenged us to go out and live faithful lives as followers of Christ.  MacArthur writes in his book:

As you may be surprised to discover, how much like us they (the disciples) truly were:

  • They couldn’t comprehend the power of God
  • They struggled with their own sins
  • They found faith
  • They wrestled with the cost of commitment
  • They discovered real influence

We are losing a great preacher this month as my friend Derek travels east to Wilmington, NC for his next calling.  Many of us, not just me, are grateful for this wonderful man who’s taught us many of the same lessons that the earlier disciples learned from Jesus.  And that’s many times easier said than done.

This is never “farewell” for Pastor Derek.  Rather, it’s “see you down the road, my friend”.  We will keep tight the words that Derek so fondly passed along to many of his flock here in Charlotte:

“Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20)

With this Great Commission as our charter, and in the walks within our ordinary lives, Pastor Derek, thank you, my friend.

Peace!

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DEC 6, 2017 WAWA: “A Canadian’s Last Ride….”

Rev. Derek Macleod and I sat in the Panera Bread on Providence Road a little over two years ago, sharing coffee and stories.  Derek was looking for a way to “engage” what he called the “emerging leaders’ population” in something other than just regular Sunday school lessons.

That’s where “WAWA” was born…..over bagels and breakfast…..and prayers.

Derek will be the first one to tell you that his attendance has been scarce, at best.  But, I think he will also tell you that the seeds were planted where WAWA could happen with or without him.

And to that end, I am most grateful.

As many already know, Derek and his family will be departing Charlotte later this month as he has answered God’s calling to be the lead pastor at St. Andrews Covenant Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC.

So please join us tomorrow morning for a WAWA that will serve as a unique send off to this wonderful disciple and friend!

Yes….Derek has said he will be there in the morning!  And if he’s absent, we’ll hop in our cars, drive over to his house, and drag him out of bed!

Planned route is 4.25 miles.  Easy pace and we’ll stay as one group.

Run route is at this LINK..

Weather might be slightly damp, with temps in the low 50’s.

Please meet outside the Cornwell Center, ready to go at 5:45 am.

Peace!

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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