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.

 

Wide Awake

This morning, we kicked off our study of Wide Awake.  If you were unable to attend, we just covered the intro.  Next week, we’ll start the first chapter on “Dreaming”.  Read pages 3-19.  Here are the slides from this morning…wide awake 1

We showed this commercial today…

It’s a call to authentic manhood, to the power of owning a knife, to the power of facing trouble rather than running from it.  It is a call to live “OUTWARD” not consume “inward” like so many of us have the tendency to do.

This entire process of living “Wide Awake” is going to be about finding the hero inside you and living outward.  We gave out our first LiveUP Hero award this morning to Ronnie Brooks.  Ronnie is 67 and got up Saturday morning and filled a backpack.  He packed 6 bottles of water, two sandwiches, his knife (!), a roll of toilet paper and some snacks.  He went to Golden Acres Baptist and climbed up on the railroad track running by the church and set out for Salem.  Ronnie walked that track for 6 hours and covered almost 18 miles.  It was a “bucket list” item for him and he did it!  6 hours alone with God, the deer, the hawks, one big train and clear blue cool morning sky.   This summer he and his son are going to kayak down the Chattahoochee.  I asked him “how far?“.  And he said, “I don’t know…far as we go, we’re going to camp out along the way and fight some gators!”  So Ronnie got our “Hero” award for dreaming big and conquering a challenge.

There is a hero inside each of you just waiting to be awakened.  The world needs you at your best.  If you choose to live a diminished life, it’s not only you who loses, but the world loses and humanity loses.  We’re not talking about heroic actions that draw attention and notoriety to you – no, we’re talking living a life of significance, a life of what you do for others.

Then we talked about Carver as just one example.  What we do down there is great but are we just barely touching these young men and moving on?  Is there more to do?  Do they suffer with fatherlessness and a lack of hope?  For many of them, are they convinced that the path of their life is almost set at winding up either in jail or in an early death?  Have they bought the lie that they are of no real value and there is no real hope for a better life?  The other day I was at lunch at Jimmy Johns and a young worker there walked up with a big smile and said, “Hey, I used to play for Carver, it is good to see you again.”  As he started to walk off, I called him back and asked him for an update.  He said he’d gone to West Georgia, things didn’t work out and now he is working trying to “get back on track“.  And it struck me, “We’re not done with Carver at those weekly meals“.  There is so much more we can do.  This young man still needs a coach, needs a nudge, needs some guidance.  I’m going to Jimmy Johns once a week to establish more of a relationship with him.

These young men have incredible value.  They are beautiful people.  They are created in the image of God and the culture is beating the fool out of them.  And we know it.  We know it and it is right here in our backyard.  What are we going to do about it?  Just whom do we expect to fix this?  The government?  Heck, the government probably “is” the problem.  How can we see the need and just sit by and let it fester?

This is living OUTWARD.  It is living beyond self.  It is working and striving and sweating and crying and if we can change just one young man’s life, every ounce of energy was worth it.  So I leave you with this interview with Coach Pete Carroll.  It is so powerful.  I strongly encourage you to watch this.  I saw this when it originally aired and it is the single reason why I got involved with Carver.  Here is a man that lived OUTWARD, found the hero inside and made an incredible impact in the lives of young men in the projects of LA…

The mark of a man – Dell McGee

Dell McGee

We kind of knew this day would come.  Coach McGee is leaving Carver for a position with Auburn University’s football program.  It is a great opportunity for him and he has earned and deserves it.

He over took a program that had not had one winning season in nine years.  In his eight years, they won 88 games with 19 losses (an amazing 82% of their games), were six-time Region champions and won one State Championship.

But there is so much more to Dell McGee.  I only know a fraction.  I doubt anyone will ever know all this man has done for the kids at Carver.  And that is his heart – a quiet heart, the heart of a true servant.  He served, they advanced.

I know of kids that he personally took into his home.  I know of one kid who had no way to get his clothes cleaned and so Dell would meet the kid before school, get his clothes, wash and dry them at his own house and then return the clean clothes to the young man in a way that would embarrass him.  I know of young men with both parents in jail where Dell McGee became their parent.  One young man that had to move in with him just to be sure he could safely get through the rest of his Senior year and on to college.  I know he helped young men learn how to interview, how to look a man in the eye, how to shake hands and how to even order a steak.  Because Dell knew these young men, as they tried to get college scholarships, would be thrust into situations they were not prepared for and had no one else fighting for them.  I knew of “star” college players who fell into deep trouble and were still texting Dell for support.

This is the mark of a Godly man.  He gave so that others might live.  And no, he isn’t flawless.  He got frustrated, he got angry, he didn’t always win.  But he is a good man.  A truly good man and the ripple effect of the impact he has had on hundreds of young men cannot be measured.  Imagine how many lives he has touched.  Imagine how many wrong paths he has pulled young men off and set them on a better path – and then the impact through the years through these young men on others.

He has blessed so many and we will deeply miss him in our community.  I, for one, have been truly blessed to know Dell and I have come to love and respect him as a brother in Christ and a friend.  He can call me any day, at any time and I will do whatever I can to help him.  That is the mark of a man.

And so….what next?  What on earth will we do with our ministry to Carver?  What will change?  Nothing.  We will proceed along with a passion and heart that would serve Dell proud.  Our ministry wasn’t about Dell – it was and always will be about these young men and now, perhaps more than ever, we have a great opportunity to come alongside them as mentors, role models and friends.

The banquet for Carver is on March 23 and we need about 75 men to work it.  Now is a great time to StepUP and show these young men how much we care for them.

thanks Dell.  you truly do LiveUP!