New Study Series….New Light!

Welcome to a new FMMF Charlotte study series that we’ll kick off this week….”Hidden Christmas” by Timothy Keller.  A very timely and interesting study that will span just 4 weeks, leading us right into the Christmas season!  I can’t wait.


Now, if you’re wondering about this study and might be confused by an earlier announcement of another study series….well, we’re putting that one on hold for just a little bit.  As a group, we want to focus and get our minds “right” for celebrating the birth of our Savior!  Tim Keller has just the recipe!

This week, I’ll introduce the book and would ask that everyone read the book’s Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.  Our author starts out boldly proclaiming the words from Matthew’s Gospel, cross-referencing Isaiah 9:2:

“the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:16

The overall premise of the book is that our celebration of Christmas has become more and more secular over the years.  Children, as one example, might ask adults, “What is meant by ‘angels we have heard on high’ ..” when walking through the malls adorned with festive ribbons, evergreen wreaths, and Santa Claus.  It’s no coincidence that our author reminds us of the importance of the birth of Jesus by speaking of “light” in an otherwise darkened world.

We’re looking for leaders to pick up any of the next three lessons….visit our FMMF Charlotte Signup Genius at this LINK

Gather this Friday at the Cornwell Center at 7:30 am.  Lesson starts at 7:45 am!  See you then!  Bring a (new) friend to join us this Advent season!


Judas: Choosing the Easier Wrong over the Harder Right

My good friend and fellow FMMF Charlotte participant, John Paschal, will agree with the title of this week’s reminder.  Back when John and I were classmates at West Point, we learned early about West Point’s line in the sand when it comes to questions of moral integrity:  “Always choose the harder right over the easier wrong”.

When I think about the subject of this week’s final lesson from “12 Ordinary Men”, I have often wondered if Judas struggled in his mind about the decisions he would be making.  Did he ever quarral with himself asking, “should I take the harder right…or the easier wrong?”  From a human perspective, Judas had the same amount of potential as all the others we’ve studied.  So how did things STILL go wrong for him?

There’s a lesson, naturally, in the story of Judas for us today.  I think many of us are often faced with similar decisions….monthly, weekly, ….. even daily!

I’ll wrap up our study of 12 Ordinary Men this Friday.  Recall, that I asked everyone which disciple you mostly identified with before reading the book.  Now, I’ll ask again and it will be interesting to see if anyone has changed their mind.

See you Friday at 7:30 am at the Cornwell Center.  Lesson starts at 7:45 am!


Are you Sunny?

Inside joke, perhaps.

I’ve been asking our men on Friday morning’s about their individual “weather forecasts”….Are you feeling sunny today?  Partly cloudy? Or maybe rainy?

It’s a rainy week currently in Charlotte but supposed to clear up by Friday….Regardless, we’re meeting to cover the second-to-last chapter in our book: Chapter 9 “James – the less; Simon – the zealot; and Judas (not Iscariot) – the apostle with three names”.

Next week, our final week, we’ll cover Judas, the traitor.

So, back to this week, however, we’ll discover that the three apostles in this final group seem to be less intimate with Christ than the other eight we’ve already discussed.  In fact, not much is really written at all about the three men we’ll talk about this week.  But in that lack of information we’ll attempt to connect the dots with many of the clues given by our author.  One conclusion you might reach is the one thing that sets these three men apart from others in the Gospel accounts is the durability of their personal faith.

More on that this Friday as Jonathan Smith takes the reigns to lead this week.

I’ll see you on Friday morning at The Cornwell Center!


Announcing NEXT Study Series: “The Gospel According to God” by John MacArthur

We’re nearing the end of our current study of “Twelve Ordinary Men” which means it’s time to think about “what next”.  Earlier, we talked about the “Jefferson Bible” as a choice, but upon further look that book could be difficult to align along our weekly cadence.  So, Plan B is a different book that ironically is by the same author as our current study.

I’ve circulated around the suggestion to several men in our group and the feedback appears unanimous as “let’s do it”.  So, without further delay, please plan on “The Gospel According to God” as our next study!

Here’s one overview of the book, which uses Isaiah 53 as the primary foundation for the study:

“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Often hailed as one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, the prophecy of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 foretells the crucifixion of Jesus, the central event in God’s ultimate plan to redeem the world.

This book explains the prophetic words of Isaiah 53 verse by verse, highlighting important connections to the history of Israel and to the New Testament—ultimately showing us how this ancient prophecy illuminates essential truths that undergird our lives today.

More on this book at this link:

You can order the book through Amazon or other online sites.  Please plan to purchase your book in the next week or so.

We’ll wrap the current series on November 8th.  New series will kick off on November 15th.

Have a great rest of the week!  I’ll see everyone tomorrow morning at the Cornwell Center!


Interesting insights into Matthew and Thomas…

Very excited to tackle this chapter this week….I struggled with calling the title of this week’s reminder blog…”Hatred and Doubt”.

Ironically enough, my church pastor gave a sermon last week on Matthew, the “hated” tax collector.  You’ll be reminded as you read this week of Jesus telling his disciples, “Hey, we’re going to hang with Matthew…and, in fact, we’re going to have dinner with his cohorts and him at Matthew’s home…”


In Chapter 8 this week, “Matthew–The Tax Collector; and Thomas–The Twin” will close out this second group of four with these other lesser-known men. We meet Matthew, perhaps the most hated sinner before his conversion and “Thomas, the Pessimist.” The insights into Thomas’ desperate love for Jesus help us understand that his pessimism was a courageous pessimism, and his moniker, “Doubting Thomas”, is actually quite a bit unfair.

So we have a hated man…and we have another with serious doubts of Jesus’ teaching.  Still scratching your head on how Jesus formed his band of merry men?

John Ramey leads us this week.  Seriously, could I build up this Friday’s FMMF with any more excitement?

Gather at 7:30 am at the Cornwell Center.  John kicks things into gear at 7:45 am.

Have a great rest of the week!

How does your hometown measure up?

Our study this week leads us to Nathanael, aka “Bartholomew“.  Yes….another week, another disciple, another name, I mean, other name!  Nathanael is buddies with Phillip, who we learned about last week.  And this pairing marks the third group of friends:  Simon/Peter and Andrew; James and John; and now, Phillip and Nathanael.

Unique to Nathanael is perhaps that he is already very versed in scripture, especially the Old Testament.  And while he knew the Messiah would be coming, he is somewhat taken back when Phillip comes racing to him one afternoon saying, “We have found Him of whom Moses, in the law, and also the profits, wrote…” (John 1:45)

But, instead of feeling overjoyed and elated, when Nathanael hears where Jesus is from, he’s taken back and says:

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

This week’s lesson peels back onion to reveal this disciple’s deep rooted prejudices.  What’s he got against Nazareth, (or anyone’s hometown) anyway?  I’ve just spent the last two days in our nation’s capital…..and some might ask “what good”…or “what bad” can come out of this busy city!

We’ll take more about prejudices, in a biblical sense, this Friday.  Short reading of Chapter 7: Nathanael – The Guileless One.

Mike leads the conversation about Nathanael.  Join us starting at 7:30 am in fellowship, with the lesson kicking off at 7:45 am.  Meeting location is The Cornwell Center.

Have a great rest of the week!


Treehouse Fellowship…..and the story of Philip!

We’re taking our fellowship outdoors this week.  The weather is spectacular, early fall in Charlotte.  We’ll gather starting at 7:30 am at the Lenhart’s backyard treehouse (1609 Sterling Road).  Come enjoy the fellowship, in the treetops!

Our study this week is on the apostle Philip (Chapter 6), who is the “head” of the second grouping of four men.  Our author explains that while the initial four, Peter, James, John and Andrew, all found Jesus (when John the Baptist pointed out Jesus to them), it’s widely considered that Philip was the first apostle found by Jesus.  Philip is so excited about meeting Jesus, that he runs to Nathanael to excitedly tell him, “We have found the Messiah.”

I love what our author says on page 123:

“I am convinced, by the way, that friendships provide the most fertile soil for evangelism.  When the reality of Christ is introduced into a relationship of love and trust that has already been established, the effect is powerful.  And it seems that invariable, when someone becomes a true follower of Christ, that person’s first impulse is to want to find a friend and introduce that friend to Christ.”

Twelve Ordinary Men, p. 123

John Paschal leads us this week in our discussion about Philip.  Gather in the treehouse beginning at 7:30 am.  John will start the lesson at 7:45 am.


What’s Not to Love about the Apostle John?

Little teaser there as we dig into our fourth apostle this week, John—“the apostle of love”.  Homework is to read chapter 5 in “Twelve Ordinary Men”.

Arguably, John is the most familiar to all of us because he’s written most of the New Testament.  As such, there’s much to draw from on his personality and character.  In reading back through Chapter 5 (again), I’ve taken back by John’s focus on the “black and white” of human life.  In other words, John sees things as absolute.  He’s very set on what doctrine teaches and the consequences as such.  But notice what our author says of John on page 98:

“He (John) is concerned primarily with the overall pattern of a person’s life.  He wants to underscore the fact that righteousness, not sin, is the dominant principle in a true believer’s life.  Those who read John carelessly or superficially might almost think his is saying there are no exceptions.”

-MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men, p. 98

As you read this week’s lesson, I’d encourage you not to focus on the final outcome of John….but rather on the journey along the way.  The transformation of John is one of the most powerful lessons we can model even in modern times.

Again, MacArthur speaks (on page 105):

“The kingdom needs men who have courage, ambition, drive, passion, boldness, and a zeal for the truth.  John certainly had all of those things.  But to reach his full potential, he needed to balance those things with love.  I think this episode was a critical rebuke that started to move him toward becoming the apostle of love he ultimately became.”

-MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men, p. 105

Rob Miller leads us this week.  He promises lots of “nuggets galore” along the way!  (Rob is always a treat when he leads!)

Cornwell Center parlor room; gather at 7:30 am.  Lesson starts at 7:45 am.


Ambitious James?

As with the previous chapters so far, I’m certainly picking up on a few tidbits of information that I didn’t necessarily see the first time reading our book, “Twelve Ordinary Men”.  This week is another prime example.

Our reading this week covers chapter 4, James: The Apostle of Passion.  Admittedly, I skimmed most of the chapter for this week’s preparation but my mind focused in about mid-way through when our author describes the ambition of both James and John (and their mother, Salome).  More specifically, it seems like the brothers felt as part of Jesus’ inner circle that they were well-deserving of sitting on the kingdom’s throne alongside Jesus.  In fact, Salome is described as a willing participant in the notion of directly asking our Savior for those seats.

Jesus, however, replies, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with…” (MacArthur, p. 91)

So….if that’s not the ultimate “can you walk the walk or just talk the talk” then I don’t know what is!

David Parker leads us this week as we go over the story of James.  Great reading well beyond the sample story I mentioned above.

Join us this week, beginning at 7:30 am at the Cornwell Center for fellowship.  David will start our lesson promptly at 7:45 am.


Living in his brother’s shadow??

Happy Thursday….!

Our reading this week takes us to Andrew, brother of (Simon) Peter.  Read Chapter 3: Andrew–the Apostle of Small Things.

Some of you, like me, grew up with a sibling, perhaps a brother or two.  The Bible is not clear about who is older, Simon (Peter) or Andrew, but all indications seem to point that Peter was the elder of the two.  He’s more polished, shows more leadership, and quickly becomes Jesus’ right hand man.

As we’ll learn this week, however, it’s Andrew who makes the initial introduction of Jesus to his brother, Peter.  Andrew hears about Jesus from John the Baptist, and then has a period of following Jesus, and then alerts Peter that “we have found the Messiah”.

It’s almost as if Andrew wants to lay claim to finding Jesus….first.

“Look at me….look at me,” is maybe what Andrew runs telling his brother.

But we know how the story unfolds, right.

Poor Andrew…...

Ironically, as our author points out, Andrew (just like Peter) was perfectly suited for his calling:

“….Andrew may be a better model for most church leaders (today) than Peter, because most who enter the ministry will labor in relative obscurity, like Andrew, as opposed to being renowned and prominent, like Peter…”

Chapter 3, p. 64, “Twelve Ordinary Men”

Much more on Andrew on Friday!

Gather beginning at 7:30 am.  Jason Schubert will kick off the lesson at 7:45 am.

See you then!