At 50 years old, I outsourced my yard. 25+ years of doing my own yard, spending my weekends doing it, etc. and at 50, I just said “I’ve had enough”.  So, I hired a man to take it on and he’s done a far better job than I ever could have. He’s a professional and knows what he’s doing. There’s no shame in this for me. I fought the good fight and knew it was time to hang up my cleats and move on to other things that I enjoy like hunting.

But in this Covid shutdown craziness we’re living in, I noticed it was taking a real toll on me. How about you? How are you doing in this? I’m starting to hear from more of you and the answer is “not so well”.  Let’s think about this for a minute – back in the fall, we spent a lot of time talking about technology and social media and just how destructive it was for us. That the iPhone, as great as it is, has served the purpose of accelerating our lives, speeding them up and making us “on call” 24/7 to our world. It is not good for your soul. We asked the question (and it is more relevant today than ever), “What are you doing to care for your soul?” The care of your soul is 100% up to you – no one on the outside is going to prioritize your soul. It is between you and the Holy Spirit.

And then … Covid. Covid has been a DISASTER for the human soul. Isolation is terrible for us, we’re made for Tribe and community and Covid has driven us into isolation. Suicides are way up, marriages are breaking up at a record pace and demand for depression/anxiety meds are way up. We know that and we know the cost. Just look at Manschool. How long has it been? When will we ever be able to get back to normal Manschool? How bad do we miss it? This pandemic is wreaking havoc on the world.

And remember … we said “A storm is coming …” (please see these slides back from February

Note – if you want to dig deeper, click on the tag “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts” and you can access all the posts on this topic especially those since January. But in isolation and working from home, perhaps you go back to the Fall and pick up this series and read through those posts.

Back to technology – Covid is a genetically modified super killer bug perfectly designed to push us even further into technology. “Zoom calls”? None of us had ever been on one or probably even heard of them in late 2019 but here we are. Isolation? Drives us further into our iPhones. It drives us further into social media. It pushes further into our respective camps of either Fox News or MSNBC. Liberal or Conservative. Love Trump or Hate Trump.

Do you see what the enemy, the foul one is doing here? He is dividing with the hope of conquering.

And all of this is the fuel for the social upheaval and racial tensions we are now living with. The dried wood was sitting there, the gas was being poured on it … all we needed was a trigger. And … BOOM. Pushing all of us into isolation, pushing us all into dependency on social media and 24/7 news, separating us from even a hug from a friend or even being able to see a smile on someone’s face behind their mask is, quite simply, destroying us.

If … we let it.

And so, my yard. We’ve spent a lot of time on our back porch this summer. It is where we watch church on Sunday and relax with the dogs or play with our grand kids. It’s where we do life these days. For a few weeks, I kept looking at this spot in my yard where big gardenia bushes had started to fade into their final days. 15 years and they were just fading. I kept getting this nudge to do something about it. The Spirit was telling me to create something.

On the long and very hot July 4th weekend, I decided to act upon the nudge and set out to extract those dug in bushes from the ground. Several trips to Tomar and Lowe’s. Plans formulated in my mind. My yard needed some color and I needed to seize mastery over a little plot of land and I needed to create. God put in us the drive to create. It is holy. Man invents, man creates and it is God’s design and His plan as we discover this world He created.

I think it pushed 100 degrees that Saturday but I spent about 8 hours out in the blazing South Georgia heated swinging an ax and digging those bushes out…

I was worn out by the end of the day and only 1/2 way through the project. Sunday, I hit it again. Soaking wet and covered in dirt, it was a good tired and the job was finished and some color came to my yard…

It is finished…

Is it perfect? No. It simply does not matter. This is the product of isolation, frustration, a bit of anger, and some visioning. More importantly, it is the product of disengaging from media and responding to the nudging of the Spirit. It is listening to my Father and responding to His call. He had something for me in this – some purpose in the creating. I don’t take any pride in this and could care less what anyone else thinks of it – it was something … for me, from the Father.

How are you in this environment? What are you doing to keep your sanity, to hear the Father, to create, to dream, to exert, to push boundaries? Let me hear from you and I’ll pass along what I hear in another post.

When we said, “A storm is coming”, could you have imagined then what all would happen in just 6 months? A pandemic? 20+ million Americans unemployed? Mandatory “shelter in place” orders? All of us wearing masks? No baseball? Perhaps no SEC football? Spewing hatred all over social media and the news? Race wars? Statues being torn down? Tear gas across the street from the White House? I could keep going but all of this in just 6 months.

There is an enormous shaking going on in our world. Soul care is more important today than any other time I can remember. Never before have we faced so much turmoil and your soul pays the price if you’re not daily fighting for the space where your soul can be refueled by the Father. Guys, you’re going to have to fight for all of this.

So, back to my question, what are you doing to care for your soul?

Dabo Swinney talk

Attached is a link to Coach Swinney’s talk here in Columbus.  It’s long but it is full of wisdom.  He did a great job and poured so much of himself into the talk.  He left nothing on the field.  If you have children, I promise you, there are many lessons in this talk that will help you with your kids.

What you will see come through in this talk is here is a man who came from a terrible background but he persevered.  As he likes to say, “There is no handicap in life except a bad attitude”.   He had a clear vision for what he wanted the Clemson program to be about and the impact he wanted it to have on the players entrusted to him.  He has a strong faith and he knew God had a purpose for his life beyond “self” – exactly what we’ve been talking about these past few weeks.

God clearly had a purpose and mission for Dabo Swinney and he is living it out and in so doing, is impacting so many.

What am I supposed to “do” ?

We had a full room this morning .  55 strong.  God showed up!  

Here are the slides from this morning —> manschool-wholeness-4

Read the following text from Romans 7 in The Message.  See if you can relate…

But I need something more!  For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!  I realize that I don’t have what it takes.  I can will it, but I can’t do it.  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.  My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn’t that the real question?

I highlighted in bold a few of the key passages – “I can will it, but I can’t do it”.  I can’t do it.  As much as I want to stop the sin … I just can’t stop it.  My decision to “stop” just simply doesn’t result in action.  The cycle of repeating this habitual sin happens so regularly, it’s predictable.  Think > pornography.  lust.  overeating.  road rage.  a relentless focus on self.  isolating myself. overspending.  As hard as I try, I cannot stop the cycle …


We all struggle with habitual sins we cannot seem to stop.  And you know, as you go through this cycle, it really turns into a downward spiral.  The more I repeat the sin, the deeper into my guilt/shame I go.

“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does”.  Romans 7:25 MSG.

Christ can “do” it.  You cannot.  I cannot.  In my power, I cannot overcome this habitual sin.  The cycle will defeat me as it always has (or else I wouldn’t now have this habitual problem!).  But… but … Christ can.  And He does that by shifting how you look at this.  Stop focusing on the “doing” and start focusing on what you want to “be”.  Focus on the “being”.

Galatians 5 > “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.  Focus on one of these that you feel God is wanting to push into with you.  Instead of trying to “stop” sinning, instead focus on what you feel God wants you to “be”.  For instance, I want to be a man of self-control.  I don’t want to be that man that is driven by his impulses.  My desire is to learn to control my impulses and learn self-control.  For me, that starts with a very small thing, resisting the impulse to drink Coke Zero and instead drink water.  Maybe it’s also giving up cookies after dinner.  Maybe it is giving up the “relief” of a certain TV show I go to.  It starts with the little things.  Little steps of faith of a long-obedience in the same direction.  God’s trying to teach me a big thing like self-control.  He’s sanctifying me.  It’s a big picture, “Richard I want you to get this.  I will use it in you in a big way so I need you to learn self-control.  I’m building you, shaping you, preparing you.  You need this tool in your toolbox for life.”  It may begin with a very small act of obedience … water instead of Coke Zero.  It may be no more wine.  It may be deleting apps.  It may be starting a regular exercise program.  It may be…  

It’s a small step towards a big sanctification.  The cycle above is me-focused.  My ability or inability to stop, my failure, my shame, my repeating the same cycle over and over.  By instead turning inward from my ability to overcome this, it is turning outward to Father and letting Him show you what it is He wants to sanctify and teach you.

The answer isn’t what you need to stop doing.  It is, instead, a process of looking to what kind of man you want to be.

attached is a link to Nick Cash’s blog post that Derrick referred to this morning —>

Nick reminds us that our desire for being will determine our actions.  Do you see it?  The cycle above is all about our actions changing our being.  No.  Wrong.  That won’t do it.  Your actions are what got you in that cycle in the first place.  You cannot conquer habitual sin with “doing”.  No, instead it must come from what you want to be.  What kind of man do you want to be?  What kind of man does God want you to become?

The new LiveUP logo

Harrison Mills stepped UP.  He took the step of saying, “I have gifts and skills that I can use to make a real contribution to this Tribe” and he boldly tackled the redesign of our logo.

I love this on so many levels.  He has sat and listened and taken in what has been shared.  He’s grabbed the vision.  God is clearly moving on his heart and he took the risk of saying, “Hey, maybe I can improve some things and make a contribution”.  Amen and Amen.  Bold.  Creative.  Willing to risk.  Dreamed.  In so doing, he was LivingUP.

If you want to see it … here ya go


We’ll be redesigning the website to incorporate all of this.

what will you create?

here are the slides from today  … wide awake – create  there is some good info in these slides that I won’t cover below so take a look.


You have the ability to create.  You were created to create.  To vision.  To dream and then act.  So let’s get that out of way right up front, this is for you.  You can create.  You are a creative.  Don’t believe the lie that you aren’t.  You are.  We all are.

Gary Player is one of the best golfers in history.  But his story is much deeper than golf.  He’s an avid rancher and golf course designer.  On his South African ranch, he built steps in a mountain so he can climb the mountain.  His own, personal “stair master”.  He does 1,200 sit ups a day…with a 100 pound weight on his chest.  He’s 77 years old.  70% vegetarian and he wants to get to 85%.  He eats no bacon, no sausage, no butter.  “If you don’t watch you eat, you’ve had it. Period.”  He loves America but says obesity is going to kill the American dream if we’re not careful.  At 77 years old, he takes no medicine at all.  Not one pill.   Would you give “anything” to look/feel like Gary Player at 77?

Gary Player “created” this life.  He had this vision of what he wanted his life to become and it was so compelling that it got him up at 5am every day to hit thousands of range balls – hit so many that his hands bled.  Every day.  He had this vision for being in fantastic shape and so he was caught lifting weights before the US Open back in the 60’s.  No one understood him.  But he understood where he was going and here 50 years later, he’s a rock, a fortress of a man.

So when we say, “I’d give anything to look like Gary Player when I’m 77.”  or  “I’d give anything to have that life”.  Would I really?  Really?  McManus says this in Wide Awake…

“Greatness is not simply the result of genetics but hard work. Often, the person who has the most luck is the person who won’t quit. To live a life that takes your breath away, you have to be willing to get winded. While God created through a word, we create through work. God creates by simply speaking, we create by carefully listening. There is an inner voice that calls and compels us to create. When we know what to do, we must then act on that truth. Every great life begins at the same place – the beginning.”

To live a life that takes your breath away, you have to be willing to get winded.

If you have a dream of what your life can become, you’re going to have to work at it.  God’s just not going to hand it to you.  We need to live that dream.  Once you grasp it, once you have an idea of what you can become, it will overtake you.  It will warp you.  You will not sleep like a baby because you can’t get this dream off your mind.  It will spring you out of bed early in the morning.

And despite what you may think, you can live a life worth remembering.  It is there for all of us.  Not to draw attention to ourselves.  We shouldn’t be driven to achieving fame but rather to greatness.  Doing something in life that will effect the entire course of human history.   And just when you think, “it’s impossible for me to effect human history”, consider this … effecting one life can impact history.  You can change the course of another man’s life and that can change history.

So a few of us went on Sunday morning to work at a man’s home that had two huge oaks fall on it a few weeks ago.  They almost destroyed the house and he has no insurance. By the time we got there, Ron Lucas and others had helped him get the trees off the house and get his roof repaired but the back yard is a disaster.


We worked for a few hours putting chain saws to what we could.  We moved tons of timber out and made good progress but as you can see, the yard is still a mess and there are two huge trees we couldn’t tackle.  He was so appreciative and thankful for the outpouring of undeserved grace.

The whole time I was working this dream compelled me to the question of “what if”?  What could we create for this man?  I visioned getting those big trees out of there by calling in some favors of a tree company.  Of getting in there and clearing out all the overgrowth.  Of building him a new fence.  Of sodding his backyard and maybe building him a patio around that outdoor fire pit his Dad built for him.  Of some flower beds.  Of fixing his front yard and taking down the dead tree there.  Of fixing his outdoor shed.  In my mind I was painting this image of creating him a new yard, of giving this man some hope so when he comes home from a hard day framing other people’s new homes, he can take a lot of pride in his home.

It’s a dream.  It is creating.  It is a bunch of us living beyond self to radically impact an undeserving soul.  It compels me.  I can’t get it out of my mind.  It needs to happen.  I believe that is just one small example of what McManus is talking about in this chapter.

So you see it doesn’t have to be inventing the next Google or becoming a millionaire.  Money has nothing to do with this.  This is ministry.  If you’re driven by the prospects of billions, it’s really all about self.  If you’re driven by something that creates good for others, then that’s something altogether different.  This last quote from McManus sums it up so well…

“God designed you to be an expression of his goodness. Every time you perform a loving act; every time you choose an act of mercy, kindness, and servanthood; every time you alleviate human suffering and bring hope and joy into a person’s life, you’ve expanded the good and increased the honor God receives for creating you in his image. God loves when his children reflect his character. What matters to God is the good we do toward others on his behalf.”

That’s how we LiveUP!