JAN 30, 2019 WAWA: “Gettin’ Our Stretch On!”

Erring on the sensible side this week, given that temps are forecasted to dip into the high teens/low twenties.  WAWA workout this week will be the Wednesday morning yoga at The Cornwell Center.

Class starts at 5:45 am.  Come in from the cold, and work on your flexibility and stretching.

Plan is to be back outside on the streets next week when the weather is more favorable.

WORKOUT Leader:  Katie Kucich

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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JAN 24, 2019 Devotional: “Life, Death, and Getting Clean In-between”

In our new-age of “on demand” television, I’m becoming more and more of a binge watcher for programs that strike a chord with me.  Such is the case with a new series I’ve been watching called “The Cleaner”.  This show aired on the A&E network for two seasons (2008-2009) and now can be viewed on Amazon Prime.  My wife and I finished up season 1 last week, and we’re already four episodes into season 2.  It’s becoming our routine before heading to bed for the night.

The star of the show is Benjamin Bratt who portrays the character, William Banks.  Banks’ character is based on real-life person, Warren Boyd.  Both Boyd, and “Banks” are recovering addicts, mainly drugs and alcohol.  Banks makes a deal with God as his daughter in born and his life is a rapid, downward spiral of heroin and other drugs.  He tells God that he will commit his life to getting others “clean” if God would help him beat his drug addiction.  God does….and now Banks is working through his side of the deal.

Now whether or not you believe this type of conversation can or does happen between God and us is another question.  As for me, I’m absolutely convinced conversations like this occur….and more often than we understand.  Part of God taking us “as we are” means he also connects with us in a myriad of different ways too.

Banks, himself, admits that he has an interesting way of communicating with God.  “I don’t pray, all right?  I talk….”.  His elder son early in season 1 accuses Banks of being a little crazy as he appears to be talking to himself.  One of the other story lines is the relationship between Banks and his son….very rocky at first, but evolves in season 1 and carries over into season 2.

With each episode, Banks and his team of ex-junkies are faced with the addictions of many.  There’s the cop who stays high so he won’t feel the pain of shooting an innocent victim, a dad who’s so enslaved to alcohol that he asks his daughter to pour his drinks for him, and the prodigal daughter who sells her body to pay for her drug habits all the while her twin sister, also a junkie, masks as “at least I’m not as bad as her…”.

The monologues that represent Banks’ conversations with God are most poignant to me.  Sometimes, they’re accusatory.  Other times, very questioning.  Often times, retrospective.  Upon the death of Banks’ dad’s best friend, the interventionist says to God:

“You make birth.  You make death.  And you ask us to hang out in between and figure out the rest.

Very telling, right?  I mean, is Banks suggesting that God leaves us alone during the long stretch between life and death?  Probably not…but I think what he’s revealing is that God expects us to take some responsibilities of how we’re living our lives, and the consequences there-in.  I think that’s what’s called “free will….”.

At best, I believe a review of The Cleaner series in Christianity Today magazine sums it up quite well:

“Of course, the messy work of addiction recovery is smoothed over for TV audiences; each junkie-of-the-week story-line is wrapped up in an hour.  But all along, we see the complicated nature of Banks’ journey, living with the consequences of his past while slogging through the full, complex cycle of rebirth.  All of us have hit a point where we have recognized our sin, cried out to God, repented, been made new, and shared what we’ve found with others.  And, in that sense, we are all cleaners….”

Here’s to the messiness in our lives….and our efforts to clean them all up.

Amen.

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JAN 23, 2019 WAWA: “Return to Fire and Ice”

Colder temps this week, again, in Charlotte, which always means we run in the tall, heated stairwell over at Queens University.  So I’m dialing up a “fire and ice” workout again this week.  “Fire” is the exercise effort in the heated stairwell; “ice” is the exercise OUTSIDE the stairwell in the adjacent alley.

Here’s the workout details:

-Meet outside the Cornwell Center ready to go at 5:45 am.

-Easy jog over to Queens, across the street from the Cornwell Center.

-First Set:  Up/Down stairwell, then down and back once in the alley.

-Second Set:  Up/Down stairwell twice, then down and back twice in the alley.

-Third Set:  Three times up/down and three times down and back.

-Fourth Set:  Back to two’s.

-Fifth Set:  Back to one’s.

Dress warm.  Temps in the morning will be hovering around freezing; 32 degrees F.  We’ll shed some outer-wear inside the stairwell and “grin & bear it” for the sprints in the alley!

See you outside the Cornwell Center at 5:45 am, ready to roll!

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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JAN 17, 2019 Devotional: “Resolutions and Guardrails”

Yesterday morning’s run was a chilly one!  29 degress at the start, but a “dry” cold so (I’m told) it didn’t actually feel as cold as the temperature might convey.  Still it was brisk and our pace was equally revved up to account for the weather.  Great run to start off the new WAWA season.

As we gathered after the run, I shared with the group two thoughts:  Resolutions and Guardrails.

First, when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, studies have revealed that 80% of those who make resolutions in the new calendar year, break them before January 15th.  So it was no secret that I wanted to talk about our fitness commitments yesterday morning.  I congratulated the runners, since it was January 16th!  They were already part of a select group of “twenty-percent-ers”!

Why is it that people break their resolutions?  They are certainly good intentions, right?  So why do they go awry?   I reached for some answers and came across one site that gave ten reasons why.  I won’t list all ten, but a few are worth mentioning.

Reason 1:  Going at it alone.  

I translate this to mean there’s no accountability.  When left alone, we tend to choose the easier path.  Not being critical.  I’ve been there and am still there many days now!

Reason 2:  Giving up too easily. 

Raise your hand if you have many other things going on in your life?  Family, work, community, church….?  We’ve all got conflicting priorities.  So when we allow a restructuring of our priorities, those resolutions fall deeper down the line, until they’re non-existent altogether.

Reason 3:  Wrong perspective.

This same study refers to this as focusing on things that aren’t going right when we should be focusing on what’s going well.

Reason 4:  Not believing in ourselves.

Like many other aspects of our lives, goals are a journey…not a quick solution.  We have to recognize that the end may not always be immediately in sight…but trust that it is down the road.

Now while these are all great points as to why many break their fitness resolutions, one can argue that they are also aligned to why we break our Christian resolutions.  Go back to those four reasons above and align them against similar reasons why we fall off spiritual paths.  Maybe, like me, you’ll see that the reasons are nearly identical.

But while all four are reminders, to me the most important is Reason #1:  Going at it along.  And that leads me to the second word for this week’s devotional:  Guardrails.  What do I mean by that?

A few years ago, I was asked to give a testimony about my spiritual walk of faith to a men’s group in Atlanta.  The audience was about 100 men….and while I readily accepted, I had butterflies on the morning of the speech.  I shared stories of ups and downs.  And I focused the other men by saying, “my life is not a story of someone who was away from Christ, found Christ, and now lives a model Christian life.”  I emphasized that I am constantly riding the roller-coaster that perhaps many of you can say the same.

By “guardrails” I am referring to the people and things in my life that help me try to stay on the path of my own Christian resolutions.  These resolutions are not something to be renewed every year but kept in place each and every day.  I surround myself and involve myself in people and groups to serve as constant reminders of those resolutions.  I call them my “guardrails”.  And without them, I am more likely to weave off the road and down the cliff.

It’s not easy.  And it can often times be exhausting.  And maybe some of you don’t need those types of guardrails in your lives.  For those in that category, I say “congratulations”.  But for the rest of us….perhaps more than just the fitness “twenty percent-ers”, I invite you to join me.

It’s a new year and a new chance to focus on a loving, Heavenly Father.  My prayer today is that we find the necessary guardrails for ourselves and those around up.  Keep marching towards our Christian resolutions.  Don’t go at it alone.

Peace!

 

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JAN 16, 2019 WAWA: “Heading East to Break the Curse!”

I read that 80% of individual’s new year’s resolutions are broken by January 14th of that “new year”.  Some might refer to that as the “New Year’s Resolution Curse“!  So, I purposely set up our first WAWA run of the year a couple days past that date!  So, if you show up tomorrow, you’re in a unique group of twenty-percent-ers!

Planning a steady run tomorrow to get us back towards our running groove.  Just under 4.0 miles through Eastover neighborhood.  Your main running markers will be running “out” Hempstead and running “back” along Museum.  We’ll cut through Sherwood to Colville to enter Eastover.

RUN ROUTE IS HERE

Weather temps are planned to be hovering around 32 degrees so dress appropriately.  And it’s pretty dark that time of the morning, so don’t forget reflective gear and/or headlamps.  We’ll get warmed up fairly quickly on the route!

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

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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DEC 12, 2018 Devotional: “The Angels’ Dilemma”

Reposting a Christmas-themed devotional from 2 years ago….not because I’m being lazy…but more because I really liked this “story”.  I love the Christmas story, every year, and this remains my attempt to put a little humor into maybe what the angels in Heaven must have been thinking when God told them of His plan of our savior’s birth.

Enjoy!

(Repost from December 14, 2016):

You know what my all-time favorite, churchy Christmas song is this time of year?  That’s an easy answer…..”Angels We Have Heard on High“…. Simple lyrics with a mash-up of Latin thrown into the mix:

Angels we have heard on high

Sweetly singing through the night

And the mountains in reply

Echoing their brave delight

Gloria in excelsis Deo

Gloria in excelsis Deo

For years the story of the Christmas miracle, that miracle of the birth of a Savior, tends to focus on a young virgin woman, unmarried, and somehow pregnant.  Today, I want to share some thoughts on another side of this miracle.  Imagine if you will that God has assembled a platoon of his best angels.  He tells them he is going to send his son to the world, and that this son, born human, will be a savior to all people.  God tells the angels, “Come with a plan on how we’ll announce this spectacular event….and let me know your thoughts ASAP.”

God leaves the room and the angels are left to come up with a plan.

The Bible shares stories about angels throughout the chapters.  Angels are used to deliver important messages such as:

  • Life and Death
  • Victory and Defeat
  • Judgement and Mercy

But this would be the most spectacular news yet.  The angels know they need lots of flash, bang, and fanfare.

The leader of the angels might be heard saying, “Let’s make a huge splash with the announcement.  Maybe have angels descending onto a huge gathering of elders and chief priests in the most important temple in all of Jerusalem”.

The angels package up their plan and God returns to hear their idea.

They pitch the idea….and it falls completely flat on our Heavenly Father.

Now God delivers his plan to the angels to implement.  It goes something like this.

God says, “You’re going to deliver the good news of the saviour’s birth….to a handful of shepherds who are tending to their flocks.”

The angels are stunned.  “Huh…..”, they must have said back to God.

“Okay, Father,” says one of the angels….”Then will the shepherds race to the temple, interrupt the high priests and announce the great news?”

“Nope”, says God.  “You’re going to alert the shepherds in the middle of the night.  It will be cold, and lonely, and quiet and no one else will be around.  Even the sheep will be sleeping.”

“And you know what else,” asks God.  “My son’s earthly parents won’t be married.  Mary, my son’s earthly mother, will be a virgin yet pregnant.  And this will be a source of great controversy”.

“But, Father,” the angels will plead one final time.  “Surely, the birth will be at a place of great splendor, because only under those conditions could a future king arrive?”

“Wrong again.  Mary and Joseph, my son’s earthly parents, will travel to the city of David, called Bethlehem.  Mary will travel on the back of a mule and they will not be able to find any comfortable place to sleep.  There will be one small inn…but no rooms will be available.  But a kind-hearted inn keeper will allow them to rest in the barn behind the inn.” says God.  “And that will be the place of this great miracle….”.

Probably not the actual planning session that took place in Heaven.  But I hope you can see my point.

I’ve often talked about shepherds in some of my devotionals.  I love the stories of shepherds and sheep.  God knew he could announce the birth to shepherds watching their flocks at night because they would not think twice about the message.  They’d take it at face value.  In fact, scripture reminds us that upon hearing the news, the shepherds “hurried off” to see the Christ-child.

Where are you looking for our Saviour this Christmas season?  Are you looking at all?

Today marks our final WAWA for the year as we take a couple weeks off the rest, relax, and enjoy the Christmas season.  My hope and my prayers for you this week, is that we all find our Saviour in the simple ways all around us.  God doesn’t want us to honor this season with fireworks and fanfare.  Be kind.  Love one another.  Be peaceful.  Be humble.  Think of others less fortunate.  Pray.  And remember the reason for the season.

I’ll leave you with a great quote from a very smart man:

“There are two ways to live your life.  One is as if nothing is a miracle.  The other is as if everything is….”  Albert Einstein

Look for the miracle of Christ’s birth.  And look for the miracles all around.

Merry Christmas and blessings to all.

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DEC 12, 2018 WAWA: “Light Run on a Chilly Morning!”

This week marks the final “formal” WAWA run of the year.  There’s always a chance for a pop-up run or two before we wrap up 2018.  But this Wednesday is the last planned workout.

As such, we’ll be running our annual “light” run, taking in the Christmas lights in the Myers Park neighborhood, primarily on Picardy Place and Hillside Avenue.  And, yes, we will do a few hill repeats on Hillside before heading back to the Cornwell Center.  5 repeats to be exact!  Total run distance is just under 4.5 miles.

Planned route is at this LINK.

Temps will be dry but brisk!  But you’ll be so dazzled by the lights that the temperatures won’t matter.  Forecast calls for upper 20’s at 6 am ET so plan accordingly.  This is always a great time, wrapping up the WAWA year and hearing a Christmas devotional message.  Tomorrow’s message will call to mind “following your North Star“.

Meet outside the Cornwell Center at 5:45 am (or inside the main lobby if you’re a few minutes early).

See you in the morning!

WORKOUT Leader:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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