Welcome to the Big Leagues! It’s more than a book about baseball.

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Know your life matters, not because of what you have done or what you possess. It matters, because God says it does.

Welcome to the Big Leagues—Every Man’s Journey to Significance, The Darrel Chaney Story, shows a utility player’s struggle–on one of the best baseball teams to ever take the field–with ambushes, setbacks, minimum wage one year contracts and changes beyond his control. But he makes his Top-10 list, encounters the Eternal and realizes he has his place on the team and in history. Through it all, he discovered his God given significance and found it was not only the best way to play in the Big Leagues; it was the way to live a Big League life.

Many men are changed by the world, but the man who knows his significance is a man who will change the world. He is in the Big Leagues.

Join the Your Life Matters movement.

Know your life matters.  Tell someone their life matters. Treat everyone like their life matters.

Loss can make us more.

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I wish improvement; advancement and success only meant adding one victory on top of another.

It also means fully experiencing each loss no matter how painful it is.

“Catastrophic loss by definition precludes recovery. It will transform us or destroy us, but it will never leave us the same. There is no going back to the past… It is not therefore true that we become less through loss–unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left. Loss can also make us more. I did not get over my loved ones; rather I absorbed the loss into my life until it became part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it… One learns the pain of others by suffering one’s own pain, by turning inside oneself, by finding one’s own soul… How every painful, sorrow is good for the soul… the soul is elastic, like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering.” Jerry Sittser, from his book A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss, is quoted by Peter Scazzero in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church.

How do we do that?

You don’t need to pursue loss and grief. It will find you, sooner or later. When it does, you must recognize the feelings and own them. They are dark and ominous and you will fear that you will sink into an abyss where you can never come out. (If you do get stuck, become suicidal, your health is threatened or you cannot function for an extended period of time, seek professional help from a grief counselor right away.) It is likely; your grief experience will be a transforming part of your life. It is an honest, authentic place. Your view of life is expands. Your compassion for the suffering is enriched and your experience of God becomes robust, vivid and real.

Your life matters. The Big League life fully experiences all that life has to offer, even the pain. It can make you more.

 

 

Transformed or Destroyed, but never the same.

moonolive_tree1[1]Tonight I speak at a Maundy Thursday service. The mood of this night troubles me.

Events in the ministry of Christ increased with rapid intensity. More activity is recorded in Scripture about Holy Week than any of the three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The direction of events changed dramatically. Fear, shock and confusion set in among the onlookers. Travesties of justice ruled the night and the next day. God the Father did not stop them and Jesus the Son did not avoid them.

The darkness of these events awakens in me the reality that the terrible cannot be avoided but must be experienced before the wonderful new day appears. Going through them transforms. Denying them destroys us.  One way or the other we will never be the same.

It is true in the Christian faith. Sins must be atoned for, and then confessed before the resurrection and new life.

It is true in life. The dark most of the time, precedes the opportunities and victories of a new day.

 

Growing the soul

“The soul is elastic, like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering.”Braves Phillies

Baseball seasons are full of drama, and I’m not referring to the competition or the crazy 8th and 9th innings of the Braves and Phillies game on Monday night. Although, that was a dandy of a game!!

Slumps, losing streaks, injuries and contract disputes are part of every player’s, team’s and fan’s story.

But there is more. Personal tragedies, sicknesses and accidents shatter the fun that we expect from a game. I don’t like it, but that is the way life is too.

I hate to admit it, but I have spent most of my life enjoying the drama of the game but I have feared the emotional pain that comes from life’s traumas. Many time’s, I hurry on with life, thinking I am moving forward when I really am missing, or denying, what was going on in my soul.

Suffering, aka experiencing the emotional pain, is not fatal. It grows the soul.

 

Healing Spiritual Wounds

Hand of God

An old Hasidic rabbi spoke these words on his death bed.

“When I was young, I set out to change the world. When I grew older, I perceived that this was too ambitious so I set out to change my state. This, too, I realized as I grew older was too ambitious, so I set out to change my town. When I realized I could not even do this, I tried to change my family. Now as an old man, I know that I should have started by changing myself. If I had started with myself, maybe then I would have succeeded in changing my family, the town, or even the state–and who knows, maybe even the world.”

But, how do I start with myself?

By admitting I have a need and asking for help. God wants to help and He attentively responds to our cry for help. Our efforts can improve things but sometimes they just are not enough. We need God to touch and heal what we cannot fix. Ask Him and see what happens.

Read, I John 1:9

 

Opening Day

Opening Day

 

 

 

 

Nearly everyday I get an e-mail or a text from Clint Hurdle, the manager of the Pittsburgh, Pirates.  I’m impressed by a Big League manager who takes time to send an encouraging message so he can make a positive difference in another’s life.  This one is just a celebration that baseball season is here.

The good news is, the opening day feeling can be present in a lot of areas in our lives.

THE SPIRIT OF OPENING DAY

Today you’ll dig in the closet for your glove and snap a ball into it while sipping your morning coffee.

Today you’ll drive to work and admonish yourself to “keep your head down” and your eye on the road.

Today your team will be in first and planning to stay there.  Today you’ll wonder about developing and selling tobacco-flavored toothpaste, as you spit into the sink.

Today you’ll still be able to turn the double play.

Today you’ll end your contract holdout.

Today you won’t lose a business deal in the sun.  Today you’ll find yourself rotating your arm around your head to stretch the shoulder and keep it loose.

Today sunflower seeds strangely find their way into your back pocket.

Today you’ll think of wearing a black suit to match the eye black.

Today you’ll have the steal sign.

Today you slip up in a meeting and mention “our sales team vs. lefties.” Today as the toast comes out of the toaster, you’ll still remember how to execute a perfect “pop-up” slide.

Today a hot dog and peanuts for lunch will sound about right.

Today you tell a co-worker to “get loose.”

Today the only strike you’ll know about is above the knees and below the armpits.

Today you’ll wear your jacket only on your pitching arm.  Today you’ll buy two packs of gum and stuff them in the side of your mouth to look like a player.

Today, during lunch, you’ll wonder why Coke doesn’t come in a wood can.

Today you’ll scratch yourself and spit for no apparent reason.

Today you’ll wonder why stirrup socks never caught on as a fashion rage.

Today you’ll be the rookie looking to make it big.

Today you’ll be the wily vet with just a little something left.

Today you’ll look for the AM dial on your radio.

Today mom’s watching.

Today dad’s in the backyard with his glove.

Today will be hopeful.

Today it’ll still be a kids’ game.

Today you’ll be a kid.

 

Today is Opening Day !

Greg Shea

 

A Hero’s Tribute

Ernie BanksDad 2Here are the two heroes from the second inning in the book Welcome to the Big Leagues.

My dad finished like a hero–faithful to the very end. The week before he died I was with him and heard a passionate prayer of blessing for my brother and me, our wives and our children.

Ernie Banks, Darrel’s hero, has lived a life that has made a difference in others lives. I had the TV on when the Medal of Freedom awards were presented. I’d love to give Ernie one of our books. If anyone knows where I can send it to him, please let me know.

The few heroes honored in recent blog posts had a few things in common. They faced very challenging circumstances, they gave their best and their actions affected the future. Every man should strive to attain those traits! With God’s help, every man can be a hero.

PLEASE READ:  A must read book for every father, mentor, coach, pastor, teacher is The Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent. “God”s covenant of blessing was originally made with and was passed directly through one family’s offspring. Abraham’s descendent received the blessing God had promised him (Genesis 12:2, 3). This was true generation after generation right up until the birth of the Messiah (Matthew 1:2-16). In contrast, because of what Jesus did for all people, now every family and each family member can experience a blessing through God’s son. This blessing can then be passed on to others by introducing them to Christ.” (p 25)

When you lead your children to God’s favor and grace it is the beginning of a blessed life.  That is not to be confused with an easy life.  Now you have the opportunity to speak words of blessing that let them know they have a future, a hope and that his/her life matters.  That is where they find the strength to succeed when faced with major challenges.

To guarantee that this process would transform and impact a life, God hardwired into each person the need to hear a blessing.  It is like metal and a magnet—they come together.

Every man needs a hero. Every man can be a hero.

Practice! Practice!! Practice!!!

Team Practice and conditioningWelcome to the Big Leagues–Every Man’s Journey to Significance is a book to give you a mental, emotional and spiritual workout.  Practice the subjects of each inning/chapter and let them influence your life.  My vision is for this book to be transformational in your life like the experiences were in Darrel’s and my life.  Below, and in the following posts, I suggest actions that will maximize your Welcome to the Big Leagues experience.  You will be in better shape and more skilled when you use the book and you will know, your are in the Big Leagues.

OPEN FOR INTERPRETATION

Welcome to the Big Leagues comes alive to readers in different ways, depending on their situations in life and what God is teaching through the stories and Scriptures.  If this book were a painting is would be “impressionistic.”  It is not a fill in the blanks; get the correct answer, Bible study.   The reader can expect to “come to bat” and have a meaningful experience each time he picks up the book.

GETTING INTO THE BOOK AND GETTING THEBOOK INTO YOU

  • Read an Inning (a Chapter with two halves).  Enjoy the stories.  Jesus told stories.  It is a great method of learning and teaching.
  • Consider where and how your life experiences fit or not fit with the story.
  • Let the light of a Scripture shine on both the story and your life.  There are verses at the beginning of each “Half Inning” and embedded in the story.  It would be great if you searched the Scriptures and brought them to speak to the people in the group.

This works for an individual but is maximized when from 2 to 12 guys sit and talk about it.  If there is a large group (20 on up), begin the time together with 15-20 minutes of introduction with the bulk of the time being table groups or small clusters interacting with the material.

Practice balls

Successfully Manage your team’s use of Welcome to the Big Leagues

Every team needs a manager.

“So what does a manager do? One of the first lessons a manager must learn is that good managers don’t DO anything. A manager’s role is to MANAGE the people who actually DO the work. The manager’s role is to make the group more effective than they would be without him.” (Read more on Management … http://management.about.com/od/begintomanage/a/WhatDoesManagerDo.htm)

Manager pitching change

 

Not “do anything” isn’t exactly correct.  Here are a few important things YOU can do that will GET EVERYONE IN THE GAME so they enjoy a winning experience while reading and discussing Welcome to the Big Leagues.

FACILITATE. DON’T LECTURE. This method can be a little frightening for the rookie group leader/facilitator because the outcome is uncertain. Over preparation is more of a risk than under preparation. After just a little experience the leader will learn to facilitate the group’s meetings where interaction will be free flowing.

The discussion questions at the end of the inning/chapter should be adequate because they are open ended questions designed to make people think. However, being prepared with a few more wouldn’t hurt, as simple as, “Where can you see yourself in either of these stories?

TRUST. DON’T FEAR. This method is exciting because you never know exactly what you are going to get and greater results take place when you are dependent on God to work and trust Him to accomplish His purpose.

CATALIZE. DON’T CONTROL. God is working in the lives of everyone in the group. Their experiences are important and their insights are valid. Call them by name, look them in the eye, and actively listen when they talk. People will love the group because they will feel like they matter and you will be treating them like their life matters.

APPLY. DON’T IMPOSE. This leadership style lets people discuss from where they are in their lives at that point in time. They do not have to be a scholar and get the right answer. They just have to be thoughtful enough to share their life and willing to take the risk to be vulnerable. As they share it will become clear when changes need to be made in thier lives. Seek to apply the lesson, allowing the person time and space to receive it, but don’t force your conclusion on another person.

PROTECT. DON’T HARM. Growth and freedom come in a safe and secure environment. A breach of confidentiality can ruin years of progress. Providing care for the group and each person in the group will produce a healthy environment.

A whole season of ideas for Welcome to the Big Leagues

The main thing that bothered Darrel about being a Utility Player was not getting many at bats.  More at bats improve each at bat becasue the skills improve.  Same here.  Read the book once but then use it again with a friend, a group of guys or a class in a series of lessons.

HOW MANY GAMES IN A SEASON?  HOW MANY WEEKS TO USE THE BOOK? 2014-Schedule[1]

In spring time, when hope springs eternal, a new baseball season is getting started.  Winter is over, warm weather is eagerly anticipated and everything feels new.  If baseball season had never ended, it wouldn’t be the same.  For maximum attendance and effectiveness chose, in advance, a certain number of weeks with a beginning and an ending.  That is your season.  The number of the weeks is entirely up to the group.  Each chapter can stand alone but they all work together too.  That gives you a variety of options.  Below are the two most frequently used options.

4-6 weeks. 

There are 4 sections to the book not counting the introduction.  Choosing one chapter from each section opens up the group to the specific subject of the chapter and the main topics of each section (1.  Getting in the game.  2.  Facing the competition.  3.  Keeping the Score  4.  The extra innings—winning.)

12 weeks.

Discusses an Inning/Chapter per week.  Each “Inning” is designed to be a chapter with two halves.  The “Top Half” of the Inning is Darrel’s experience and the baseball story and the “Bottom Half” is every man’s story with the application.  Much of the bottom half is my story as I, as “every-man”, am living a similar experience and learning to apply the lesson (making the application for everybody).

Other options.

These three options provide the opportunity to go deeper with the content.  I will describe them in more detail at another time but I mention them as seed for thought.

  • Discuss one chapter a month for a year.
  • Weekend retreat.
  • 5 day Intensive.

Call us to set something up.  All contact information is on the “About Us” page of the web site.

The Cost of Heroism

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

During the month of heroes I challenge myself to pay closer attention to great men so when I realized February 4, 1906 was Bonheoffer’s birthday I paused to consider this great life.Bonheuffer

  • He is considered one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century.
  • That is especially impressive when you realize he died in a German concentration came at age 39.
  • He saw the greatest evil of that century and tried to do something about it by being part of the attempt so assonate Hitler.
  • When he didn’t like the state run church he left the security of pay to start his own denomination.
  • He chose service to God instead of following in his successful parents footsteps of medicine and science.

His life mattered and it still does because, he lived what he said in the opening quote, “courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

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