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.

What will you do with your platform?

If you are a believer in Christ and have been saved and freed from the bondage of your sin, then God has a purpose for your life.  He saved you for a specific reason, a specific purpose.  That purpose is outside of “self”.  Self is the old sin nature we all possess and even as a believer, there is a constant battle against the flesh.  But we’ve been offered the keys to escape the bondage of self.  That is … a life outside of self.  A life lived outward.

You have a platform.  We all do.  God has given you this platform.  He expects you to do something with it.  Like the parable of the talents, the men were given 1, 2 and 5 talents.  Each of us have been given our “talents” or our platform.  Those men that got 1, 2 or 5, before they were given this, they had zero.  Nothing.  The talents were given to them and the Master expected them to do something with them.

The same is true for you.  Whatever your platform – no matter how large or how small it, no matter if it impacts 3 people or 300 or 30,000 – God expects you to maximize your impact on those in your platform.  You need to understand what your “it” is in life.  “It” is to be the “salt of the earth and the light of the world” Matthew 5:13-14.  Your “it” is real simple – it is to impact and influence others for the glory of God through the platform He has given you.

Coaching is not Hugh Freeze’s purpose, it’s just his platform.

Obstacles to your platform

  1. Looking at everyone else’s platform. It distracts you from being intentional and influential with the platform God has given you.
  2. Opposition will come. Fear can distract us from living out our platform.  Your platform comes with opportunity.  Fear can take that away from you.  What warriors do is charge into the fear, not shy away from it.  David “ran quickly to the battle”.
  3. God’s timing is not always ours. His answer sometimes is “no”.  But I’d rather live with Him – even if the answer is no – knowing He has my back, than I would live in this world without Him.

We have to have a game plan to accomplish our “it”…

  1. We must be more intentional about being in relationship with God. lifejournal.cc and the Divine Mentor (a daily walk through the Bible) is how Coach Freeze does it.  Every day, the program takes you into God’s word and God has used it in amazing ways to give him the exact verse he needs that day to answer tough questions he brings to God.  He prays on the way to work and gives God his list of “Things I need you to guide me on today Lord” and then he goes into Divine Mentor and seeks God’s answers.  God will speak if you are intentional about seeking Him.  We will get it wrong without Him.
  2. Have an attitude about you – it is the way you think about yourself, it is what you believe about yourself and who you are in Christ. Attitude is the way we talk about ourselves and the platform we’ve been given.  Something should be different about us if we’re going to impact others in our platform.
  3. We must stay in the game – when life beats you up (and it will), you’re going to be tempted to retreat to the training room to get relief. When it gets rough, we’re going to want to stay in the training room soaking in a hot tub and not go back out on the field.

The thing about us Christians is that we win in the end.  We’ll get through these trials and setbacks by God’s grace and through His mercy and we know, we win in the end.  1 Cor 15:57 “your work for the Lord is not in vain”.  Stay in the game.  The right kind of man has the ability to finish.  It doesn’t mean you won’t stump your toe or get beaten up or even have a train wreck along the way … but …  you have the ability to finish.  Get back in the game and finish.

Be in the game.  Be salt and light with the platform God’s given you.  God gave you this platform – whether it reaches 3 or 300 or 3,000 – it is your platform and He’s got you there for a reason.

He wants you to stay in the game for His glory.  Watch this video.  There are priceless treasures in here…

Keep your eyes on glory – your pain is doing something

Over the past 4-5 weeks we’ve talked about your heart and how important it is.  We’ve talked about the habitat of the heart and how it has been taken away from us – the woods have continued to narrow in with civilization all around it and your heart has nowhere to run.  We’ve talked about your heart being the wellspring of life and about The Zoe – the drawing upon the Life of God and just how important it was for your soul and heart to daily draw upon the Life of God.

And then we tackled “who told you that you were naked?” – those voices that come against us telling us we’re “not enough” or “less than”.  And then we visited shame and the power of shame over our lives – that self-loathing and self-hatred are two of the most common reasons we reject God i.e. “I am so ashamed of my past sin, there is no way God wants any part of me”.  Mercifully, we were reminded of Psalm 103 “For as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  They’re gone.  He’s forgiven them and yet we continue to carry the shame and the enemy uses it to whisper “you’re not worthy”.  And last week, as an act of defiance to shame, we had a ceremony where you could stand and let go of your shame and nearly every man in the room stood.  They gave it up, let it go and freedom was experienced.  Just standing up had the power to give men breakthrough and we’ve encouraged you to share these things with your small groups because when you speak this stuff out, when you testify, the power only accelerates to defeat it.  By speaking it out, you are pulling it out of the dark places of your soul and bringing it into the light.  Evil thrives in darkness.  Evil cannot withstand the light.

We’ve done all of this … in just 4-5 weeks.  Whew!  That’s a ton.  It’s weighty.  There is much to digest.  So this week, we paused.  I want to encourage you to keep pushing into this.  Freedom is there for you if you will push into it and bring it into the light.  I am hearing amazing stories already of men shedding thirty years of shame.  To God be the glory.

We showed this talk from John Piper on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  In reality it is 4:1-18 but the meat is 16-18.  Chapter 4 starts with the word “therefore” and therefore is the point of this scripture.  Therefore we do not give up; even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary, light affliction is preparing us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

The whole talk is powerful but if you fast forward to the 45 minute mark and watch it to the end, you’ll get the point … powerfully.  The reason we showed this talk TODAY is that on the heels of all that we’ve covered – the heart, naked, shame, etc. – is so you can hear his powerful call to keep your eyes on eternity.  Your pain is preparing you (producing in you) an eternal weight of glory.  God is shaping you for the Kingdom.  If you focus on the pain of this life and the horrors of the news, you will lose heart.  If you keep your eyes focused on eternity, you won’t.  Frankly, this is the only way to be a husband.  To put her needs ahead of mine.  Christ died for me, I will die for her.

Paul suffered constant persecution for 20-30-40 years.  Beaten.  Shipwrecked.  Persecuted.  Beheaded.  And he called all that “this light, momentary affliction”.  Because…he was drawing upon the Life of God daily and keeping his eyes focused on eternity.

Your pain is equipping you, preparing you.  You cannot see it in the moment.  None of us can.  But God is working.  We closed with a quick summary of Clemson football coach, Dabo Swinney.  As a kid, his parents fought all the time.  His Dad’s business failed and he became an abusive, alcoholic.  Fights, throwing things at each other, screaming, Police coming to the house … it was more than any 11-year old kid could handle.  He’d crawl out his bedroom window at night and sit on his roof to cry wishing all this would end.  But God was shaping young Dabo.  God had a far larger purpose for Dabo as an adult and into his role in the Kingdom.  Now he can look a young man in the eye who just wants to quit because his life has been so tough, so unfair and he can say, “oh no, don’t tell me about unfair.  I’ve lived that.  You can overcome.”  He is in an incredible position to touch so many young people and change the course of their life.  He couldn’t see “Why” the pain came his way back then, but he can see it now.

Notes from fall Manschool kick-off

We had a great night last night with 50 men gathering to eat, fellowship and prepare for the fall Manschool.  Coach Hugh Freeze gave a great talk.  If you go back to the June 25, 2015 post on the blog, there is a summary of his talk and a link to the video.  He referenced his daily discipline of being in the Word – what he called Divine Mentor.  If you go to http://www.lifejournal.cc it will take you to the online journaling site.  They really encourage you (as we have) to journal.  On that page there is a link on the right side to “today’s life journal reading” and that is what Coach Freeze uses daily.

What I love about that Hugh Freeze talk is that he is intentional.  He’s intentional in his pursuit of God.  Intentional in pursuing his daughters.  He knows, apart from God, he’s an accident waiting to happen.  “We men are one step away from stupid every day”.

His talk is a wake-up call.  The question tonight is just how intentional have you been with God?

Eldredge says, “We are all just branches, after all, in search of a Vine. Every single one of us is searching for a source of Life. I’ll guarantee you that whatever it is you are personally struggling with – forgiving someone who wounded you, or getting past those wounds; achieving a lasting victory over your addictions; the fear, doubt, shame, unbelief, sorrow, rage and the carnival of things that keep you from living life whole and free – I’ll guarantee it would all change if you were filled with the Life of God, in unbroken union with Him, branch to Vine.”

This is what we’re after – that reconnection God.  A conversational intimacy with Him.  Walking and talking daily as branches drawing upon the Vine vs. being that man that wrests control from God and just does life day to day trying to figure it out and only turning back to God when we find ourselves in the ditch again.

With that as introduction, here is a quick summary of the first half of Wild at Heart …

What we’re after is freedom – setting men’s hearts free.  That’s why we do this.

Our issues are deep.  You have areas in need of deep healing, in need of counsel from older men, in need of restorative fathering from God.  Something in you has been lost, been stolen, been surrendered.  Something in you has been assaulted.

The spiritual life was never meant to be suburban and safe.  It has always been frontier.  We who live in it must accept, even rejoice, that it remains untamed.

What we want you to know is there is “more” – so much more.  More than the dull, boring, dutiful, checked-out, resigned life so many men are leading.  Boredom, by the way, is a very dangerous place for a man.  You’re a sitting duck waiting to be taken out.  It explains pornography, affairs, gambling, video games.  We’re bored.

Everything you want in this life, you’re going to have to fight for. 

Let me ask you – just in this past week, have you felt “opposed”?  Opposed in your work?  Opposed in your attempts to connect with your wife?  Opposed by this world and all its craziness?

There is a reason – everything you want in this life, you’re going to have to fight for.  And so we talk a lot about fighting and warrior.  It isn’t to glorify combat in the military sense rather it is the realization that our lives are opposed and there is an enemy and if do life ignoring that, you’re headed for a world of hurt.

The recovery of your warrior heart is so absolutely essential for your job, your friendships, this church and your calling and your marriage.  It’s so easy to say “screw it”.  You’ve got to fight for it.  There is an enemy who seeks to steal, kill and destroy.  Most men, most Christian men, most guys sitting in church, miss this.

There is an epic story underway and you have a vital role to play.  Most men miss this too.  They just do life.

Your life will be opposed.  Your enemy fears what you can become.  There is a Kingdom to come and the battles you fight here and face daily, they are shaping you for the coming Kingdom.  We are pushing new frontier here men.

We’re going to be leaning into the Kingdom and learning how His Kingdom works.  This fall we’re going to adapt and learn spiritual warfare.  And we’re going to adapt and learn how to fight for Eve’s heart.  We’re going to be spending most of this fall talking about two things – learning and equipping for spiritual warfare and Eve.

We’re going to push to deeply to understand our own hearts and the things that stir us and in so doing – learn of God’s heart and His passionate pursuit of us.  John Eldredge says – “It is this next frontier that most men never venture into”.   We are.

If you’re looking for a motto for LiveUP and manschool and everything we’re attempting to do, here’s a great summary…

Our hearts desire, our make-up and our thirst is to bring the Kingdom. To rescue people, to defeat evil, to restore men, to raise an army and to see freedom and lives restored. All of this is simply bringing the Kingdom. Isn’t there something in you that craves, needs, demands you to seek to stand for something more important than your own life? To stand for the Great Life in the hand of God?  

This is what LiveUP is all about.  It is calling men up and outward – Excurvatus Ex Se “a life lived outward”  So what will you do with this call? 

I will wrap up with this.     Listen to this from Erwin McManus …

God gives divine moments to those He can trust with them.  When was the last time God called you close?  The last time He asked you to take a huge, courageous step of faith?  And you said, “I’m just not ready for that yet. Maybe later.”  For a lot of people, they thought later as another day and it became a decade.  And they say, “I don’t know what happened to me…I was so close, I had so much faith…and then…”  History is full of people who said, “and then”

God calls us in. He calls us forward.  He calls those with a surrendered heart.  Eli told Samuel, “Go lie down and say ‘speak Lord, your servant is listening’”  We need to posture our heart towards God and say, “The answer is yes Lord, now what is the question.”    (think about that)

You know who God uses? He uses the person who doesn’t negotiate.  He calls those with a surrendered heart who say yes first.  When we resist the words of God, the call of God, we find ourselves in prisons of our own making.  When we trust God’s voice, He creates the path of freedom.  God moves when we move with God.  If you want to stay lukewarm, He’ll let you.  If you keep saying “no” or “maybe later”, He may quit asking.  Our future depends on the posture of our heart.

And that is the great final question for you this morning, “Are you going to remain lukewarm or are you willing to go in over your head for the ‘More’?”

Coach Hugh Freeze – what will you do with your platform?

As a part of our 4-week Summer Series for manschool, yesterday we saw a great talk from Coach Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss.  I had the chance to hear this talk in person when he came to the Columbus FCA banquet and it was amazing.  I encourage you to invest 30 minutes of your time.  That’s right “Invest”.  Take the time to soak this in.

Our theme for the summer is emphasizing “Excurvatus Ex Se” – or a life lived outward.  We’ve spent a lot of time on wounds, our hang ups, unpacking some of the silted over channels of our souls to discover why life isn’t working and what Truth God wants to reveal to us.  All that’s good and worthy … however … what are we to do with it?  What is our call?  Is it to remain in introspection and discovery or is it to take those lessons and put them out into the ministry field.  Instead of living inward, we start living outward.

I believe it is time to shift the focus of our work towards the “outward”.

What’s your call?  What are you going to do with this life you have.  Time is short (we’ll hear from Andy Stanley next week on this) and God has a divine purpose for your life waaaaay beyond the wounds of our past.  It’s time to quit looking out of that narrow rear-view mirror of our past to the wide open road of our future.  There is a world out there desperately lost and desperately in need of our Savior.

This is a great talk and I hope you will listen to it.  Essentially he reminds us that each of us has a platform.  His is that of a football coach but as he says, whether you’re a coach, CEO, school teacher or the lady who brings warm chocolate chips weekly to the Ole Miss team, we all have that “thing” that is our platform to minister.

What do you expect?

here are the slides from today     wide awake – expect

here are the slides from last week    wide awake – adapt

Today we talked about expectation.  As an intro and in reality, what is a great summary of this entire book is the Cadet Maxim…

Risk – more than others think is safe
Care – more than others think is wise
Dream – more than others think is practical
Expect – more than others think is possible

This is a great summary of living Wide Awake.  Having these four goals is a wonderful summary of this book and this mission we are on as men of God.  The world needs us fully alive.  The world needs us “expecting” great things.  Remember Coach Pete Carroll’s comment of “Day to day, I keep expecting something good to happen.”  It’s a mindset.  It’s a posture of leaning forward into life instead of shrinking back.

Life is tough.  We’ve talked about this all Spring.  It beats you up.  You expect, you dream and your dreams don’t come true.  One man this morning said in essence he doesn’t feel like a hawk or an eagle but rather a squirrel.  That’s life.  Shattered dreams.  Hopes dashed.  And after enough of that, we begin to take it personally.  We begin to take it “inward” personally.  We own it.  We make agreements with it.

And so… the next time we venture out to take a risk and dream a little and expect something good to happen, that little voice appears and says, “You know, you are a failure, right?”  And we shrink back.

Lies.  All lies.

You may be right here.  You may feel like a total failure.  A divorce.  A porn addiction.  Financial problems.  A dead-end job.  Children who’ve gone off the rails and are lost.  All of these may be a fact.  But you don’t have to make agreements with them.  You don’t have to take one failure – or five failures in a row – and make it pervasive.  By pervasive, I mean you take that failure and spread it to other areas of your life.  “I failed in business, so I’ll just go ahead and start a fight with my wife.”  That kind of pervasiveness.  And you sure don’t want to make it permanent i.e. to make a full agreement that I’ll always be a failure.  This is where the enemy strikes at our heart.

Don’t buy the lies.

You are NOT a failure.  You may have failed but there is a huge difference between failing and being a failure.  Don’t believe it.  No, instead believe the truth of the Cross.  Believe that He created you to create.  Imagined you to imagine.  Dreamed you up so you can dream.  Believe you are a Masterpiece uniquely created, uniquely gifted, uniquely loved.  You are no squirrel.  You are a stallion.  A warrior.  A bald eagle.  A red-tailed hawk.  A lion.  You are a man of God.  Believe that.

If you believe that Jesus got up and walked out of that tomb, you’ve got to believe you can expect “more” of this life than you are presently believing.  You’ve got to expect that God still has great plans for you.  You are needed – oh so desperately needed.  This world needs you to believe, needs you to expect.  It is going to hell in a hand basket.  Quickly.  Shockingly.  Over the falls kind of quickly.  It needs you to believe.  Faith is not a gift just for you.  It is a gift to you so you can be a gift to others.  In order for you to be able to give it away, you’ve got to believe.  You have to expect.

“So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For in a little while, he who is coming and will not delay but my righteous one will live by faith.  And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”  Hebrews 10:35

Don’t shrink back.  Lean forward into life.  Expect.  Day to day, keep expecting something great to happen.  I can testify that if you will take this posture on and own it, God will show up in lots of ways you’ve previously been missing.  He loves you.  Expect Him to show up.