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.

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Fighting for your Promised Land

I went to South Carolina with a mission, a dream.  There was something bigger than me in this day.  It was a dream.  I was going to take a tour of Clemson’s new football operations facility and to hopefully get down on the field of Death Valley.  I had tickets the next night to the Clemson/Tech game but alas, the driving downpour and very cold temps kept us from the game.  The day before was glorious.  70 degrees and clear blue skies.

But before I headed down the road, there was a battle to fight.

The enemy came down hard on me the night before and that morning.  Accusation.  “You’re a loser”.  “You have no business doing this”.  Potential problems back at home at work came in hard upon me – “this isn’t going to go well”, “this situation at work will turn against you and you’ll fail”.  It was an onslaught.

Friday morning, I headed out alone on this quest.  I prayed hard on the way.  Shed a tear or two.  I prayed that Jimmy Evans prayer …

“In the name of Jesus, I don’t have fear.  I’m not going to run from you.  I’m taking my territory back from you right now.  You’re standing on my promised land and I won’t rest until I have it back and you’re gone.  I bind your voice.  I bind your lies.  I bind your influence and in their place, I pray for a spirit of love, of power, and of sound mind.  God give me a spirit of love.  I want to be motivated by love, power and your wisdom.  I declare victory right now.  The devil will not devour me.  I’m the child of Almighty God.  I’m invested with divine authority and wherever I go, you go with me Lord Jesus.  Help me fulfill my perfect destiny in You. From today forward, when I hear that roar, I will run toward it and take authority over it and claim my promised land in Jesus name.”

I cranked that Elevation Worship song from the last post, “Do it Again”.  God met me there on that beautiful country road.  The enemy tried – my iPhone update glitched up my GPS and my maps weren’t working.  I got lost five miles from Clemson.  (You see, he doesn’t fight fair and he doesn’t let up).  I turned around, saw a corvette and followed it.  A block away, I saw an elderly gentleman at a tire store wearing a Clemson hat.  Using old fashioned GPS, I rolled the window down, “Excuse me sir, can you tell me how to get to Clemson?”  He smiled and said, “It’s three miles right down this road.  You’re going to God’s country”.  Amen.

I made it to my destination and met my host.  He gave me a full tour.  I saw it all – the locker room, the dining hall, the movie theater, practice fields, indoor practice field and Coach Swinney’s office.  And he blessed me with a tour of Tiger Stadium – Death Valley – including getting to go on the field.  Amazing.

The level of detail inside the Football operations facility is amazing.  It is state of the art.  College football is big business.  I was amazed at the signs everywhere of encouragement and uplifting.  I asked my host, “How much of all this is Coach Swinney?”  And he said, “Every bit.  Everything you see, he had a hand in.  He knew exactly what he wanted it to be and how it was to look.  Even down to these signs”.  Coach Swinney had a vision.  He had a Promised Land in mind and fighting the naysayers and the fear and the doubts, he pressed forward.  He is all about family and building the complete man – athlete, husband, father, businessman.  He’s living his dream.  His dream is blessing a lot of young men, their families and all the employees that support that program.

Here is the cool thing.  I left a book on Coach Swinney’s desk – The Barbarian Way – and in there, I wrote him a note saying “Coach, I love what you’re doing at Clemson.  Love the focus on the complete man and equipping these young men for life beyond football.  Clearly, you’re in your Promised Land”.  And to my host, I knew his daughter had health issues and as I prayed about what to give him, John Eldredge’s new book, “All things New” – which is about God’s restoration of all things – a new heaven and a new earth.  It’s a very hopeful book.  And I wrote him a note saying that the word I’d received for him was “RESTORATION” As our time was coming to an end, he told me his wife has MS and his daughter has MS and Autism.  Indeed … the hope of RESTORATION is balm to this man’s soul.

My trip was a dream.  It was also a divine mission.  Little did I know.  Little did I know that I’d talk about “Promised Land” in a note to Coach and then come to find out, he is living out his Promised Land.  Little did I know that my new friend would have so many heavy things in his life and I’d hand him a book about RESTORATION.  God had a purpose for me that day that was WAY beyond me.  It was opposed.  Of course it was.  But God was Triumphant … as He … ALWAYS … is.  Amen.

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

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

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt became an American symbol of the “strenuous life” – one of his favorite phrases.  He believed in hard work, in pushing the body, in living on the aggressive, muscular, energetic side of life.  He worried that his generation of men were going soft and that the body would rob the mind and then the manhood of the nation.  He was right to be concerned.  We should be terrified of this today.

He didn’t start out like this.  Born into a wealthy family, he was a sickly child with severe asthma.  He was intellectual with a fierce curiosity and zeal for investigating life, but his body failed him.  Exertions brought on breathlessness which left him weak and bedridden.  Even when he paced himself, he quickly ran out of energy.  He seemed doomed to a nearly housebound life.  His father finally intervened and sat him down and said, “Theodore, you have the mind, but you have not the body, and without the help of the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should.  You must make your own body.  It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it.” 

It was a turning point.  What boy wishes to disappoint his father?  What boy does not take to heart his father’s solution to a life-altering challenge?  A family member who watched the conversation later said that young Theodore, “the sorry little specimen”, looked up at his father, “threw his head back and declared he would do it”.  He devoted himself completely to the challenge.  He lifted weights, hammered away at a punching bag, swung dumbbells and spent hours grunting himself into position on the horizontal bars.  Years went by with little improvement.  Finally as a freshman in college, it started to take hold and Teddy experienced a “miraculous transformation”.  Those dreary years of exercise, hour after hour, made him into a man who knew the power of work, of will over body, and of the need for a man to live a strenuous life.

Later in life, he tragically lost his dear wife and his mother in one 24-hour period.  He was destroyed – “the light has gone out of my life” he would write.  He had a baby daughter he knew was in need a woman’s care and what he did next shocked the upper crust NY society but it completed the process of making him a heroic man.  He handed his beloved daughter to his sister, sold nearly everything he had, and moved to the Dakota territories, where for several years, he had been investing in a cattle ranch that overlooked a bend in the Missouri River.  He remained there for three years.

Why did he go?  Why such a dramatic move?  The answer seems to be that Roosevelt needed to restore and rebuild and he knew only one way to do it: return to the strenuous and the difficult.  Perhaps those hours of lifting weights and balancing on horizontal bars had surfaced forces of soul he needed to summon once again.  Perhaps a return to the arduous physical life was the only way he knew to quell the turmoil of his heart.  Obviously, he needed space, wilderness, difficult tasks, and looming danger.  He knew this was the key to healing.  He had experienced this truth in his life before.

After arriving in the Dakotas, Roosevelt did not spend three years in a comfortable chair by the fire with a brandy in one hand and a book in the other.  Instead, he became the western hero of his dreams.  He herded cattle and broke bucking horses.  He stood down grizzlies and fought off desperados.  On one occasion, he tracked down thieves for three days across 300 miles in subzero temperatures.  Once he took the criminals captive, he then traveled another six days and 150 miles to surrender them to authorities.  And the wilderness healed him.  He tamed the wilderness around him by way of taming the wilderness of his own soul.  He grieved and got through it.  He lived in the moment, in the physical, and in intimate connection with nature.  It forced him from living entirely in his thoughts to living a rooted, earthy life in which thoughts come only after work is done.

All men need what Roosevelt found – a strenuous physical life, the possibility of harm, challenges to face, enemies to oppose, land to conquer.  Our lives push us away from this.  We work in cubicles or comfortable vehicles.  Technology serves us and keeps us from exertion.  We live in opulent blandness – overfed, over-tended, over-entertained, and overly preoccupied with ourselves.  But men need aggressive, physical lives.  They need contest and conquest, strain and struggle.  Otherwise, we lose ourselves to softness and effeminacy.  It is not much of a surprise that a New Testament world that is translated effeminate from the original Greek actually means “soft through luxury”.  It is a warning. 

Roosevelt reminds us we are not disembodied spirits.  We are souls sealed into bodies.  We need to work the machinery, be alive in both body and soul.  It will awaken the masculinity in us.  It will help us untangle our inner knots.  It will remind us we are men.   (from the book Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men)

What kind of man … ?

Fork in the road

Here is the question for you today… “How big are you willing to dream?  How big a life will you live?”  If you have not read last week’s blog post (Wild at Heart – Adventure 2), please do so.  Last week, we discussed the Holy Spirit as the “Wild Goose”.  He cannot be tamed and we never know where He is going. Is He safe?  No, but He is good.

We said that life without the Spirit is boring and domesticated.  Jesus didn’t die to make us safe and comfortable – He died to make us dangerous to our enemy in the battle for a lost world.  And yet, too many of us are living lives of mediocrity buried by all the responsibilities we have. Where is your passion?  Where is that excitement you once had when you were an emboldened new believer unafraid to share your faith?

Why are so many men – even in our own church – seemingly checked out?  They tell me they “hear great things about Manschool” and then say “but”.  Which is always, “but I can’t come”.  Why is that?  Really?  “I have to carpool my kids”.  OK, ask your wife if she’d rather you be at Manschool one day a week instead of taking the kids on Wednesday.  I bet she’d delight in you being at Manschool.  The men that are coming are regularly telling us, “My wife loves that I am willing to get up early to be here.  She loves that I’m in Manschool.”

It’s a choice.  What path are you going to take?

Clearly, it’s easier to sleep in.  No question.  It doesn’t risk much to stay at home.  Manschool is risky.  It is an investment of your time, energy and faith.  We’re going to push you.  Men will challenge you.  We go deep and go into areas you typically don’t hear discussed in church – frank, honest, candid discussions among our Tribe as we seek to grow closer to God.

But I digress…

The question we discussed this morning revolved around just how big our lives were going to be.  All men stand at a fork in the road and Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”.  One path is an intimate walk with God.  It is Sonship.  It is accepting that God is my Father and that He chose me before creation and that He delights in me.  It is a radical choice, a radical walk.  It is the Wild Goose and it cannot be managed.  You certainly will not be able to control it.  If the Wild Goose leads you to give up your career and your home and enter the mission field or the ministry … is any part of that “safe”?

Think of Mark 10:29 – “I tell you the truth, Jesus replied, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age and in the age to come, eternal life.  But many who are first, will be last, the last first.”

This path requires huge faith.  It is a life where we cannot control the outcome.  It is a life where your vision and your dreams are so big that God has to show up in order for it to work.  It is giving up caring what others think and embracing a radical walk with God.  All of us were created for “more”.  Way more.  But our wounds, our fear, our shame, our self-doubt they hold us back and they cause us to settle for a lesser life.

The second path is the life we can control.  It is a life where a man says, “I am only going to reach so far but I will be able to control it.  My kingdom may be small but the taxes will be paid, the checkbook always balanced, the yard – even though it is tiny – it is immaculate.  I’m not going to take risks with deep friendships, instead I’ll pretty much be an island to myself.  My kids, they’ll know me but I won’t be willing to risk much with them.  My dream for them will be that they keep the law, make the grades, get a good job and stay the heck out of trouble and in so doing, my wife’s facebook posts will always show off a nice, tidy, family who has it all together.  As for missions and ministries and all that stuff, that’s really for those guys who can’t make it in the workplace.  I’ll pay my dues, rise the corporate ladder, keep my nose clean and retire with a big 401k and a whole lot of comfort.”  

This path prizes comfort above all else.  It savors control.  It’s a small path and a very small life.  But you will dumb it down, shrink it and manage it to get it to a size you can control and once you know “life is all up to me and what I can accomplish and manage within these narrow borders” then … you will see no need for God.  Nothing in your life will depend on God because you can do it all yourself. There is no Sonship here – no need for it.  You and God, you’re kind of partners and since you’ve got it under control, He leaves you alone to do your thing.

This is a WAKE UP call men.  It is time to stand on the walls and shout and wake up the men around us.  What kind of man do you want to be?

I believe a shaking is coming.  I believe Christ Community is already being shaken.  I certainly believe America is shaking.  Birth pains are all around us.  We stand perilously close to losing our nation.  Racial tensions are everywhere and our city is divided.  Many in Columbus have no hope.  There is so much more we can do, so many more lives we can impact for the Kingdom.  It is “somebody else’s problem” until it erupts in our own backyard.  Aslan is clearly on the move.  He is looking for warriors to join him.  My question to you is simply, “How big are you willing to dream?  How big a life will you live?”

Are you going to choose the safe path of control, predictability and comfort?  Or will you choose the Wild Goose and embrace Sonship with the Father?

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.

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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.

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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!

who told you that you were naked?

This morning … wow, it just blew me away.  I’ve seen this 4 times now and each time, I am taken deeper into it.  This is so vital to this journey we are on.  I wanted to get you this link so you can have access to the podcast.

Please invest the 45 minutes or so to watch this.  Let me suggest that you watch it a second time with your wife.  Let God speak into your soul…

go to http://www.mosaic.org — click on podcast/streaming, video podcast and then click on the 3/9/14 episode “The Artisan Soul, who told you you were naked”

Men, this is such a critical part of our journey.  Much like the talk on the Vine, we need to pay attention to the voices we are listening to and in reality, if we aren’t connected to the Vine, we’re going to be listening to the wrong voices.  All of us have those voices – voices of fathers who told us we are half-ass and we’d never amount to anything, voices of older brothers who knocked us down to keep us in our place, voices of past loves who broke our heart and then turned to another man, voices of a coach who told us we probably didn’t need to be on the team, voices of bosses who told us we simply didn’t have what it took to make it in business.  We’ve all got them and they do untold damage to our souls.

And so, we wander around beaten, broken, ashamed and half the man we were meant to be.  And if God could pull you aside right now, He’d simply ask, “who told you that you were naked, who have you been listening to?”

You are a masterpiece, dreamed up by God long before you were ever born.  He created you to create, He imagined you so you can image, He dreamed of you so you can then in turn dream.  So many of us no longer believe this.  But you should – it’s still there buried under the silt and damage of years of lies from the father of all lies, buried under the voices of broken, wounded people.

The prayer for you right now is this – “Lord, make me a masterpiece.  I will be a work of art and an artist at work.  I will dream great dreams and imagine a future that does not yet exist.  I will refuse to let reality limit what God can do in me.”

I won’t ramble (though I could).  I simply want you to watch this video and soak it in and then, if you will, share a comment below as to what God spoke into your soul while you were listening to this.

dig deep.  dream big.  shine.