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.

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.”

Character qualities of a hero

394789[1]February is Black History month.  On the Welcome to the Big Leagues blog it is also a month of Heroes–heroes and what it takes to be a hero.  Heroes are the most important people in our lives because, by example, they teach us what life is about and how to live it.

Salute your hero.  In the comment section, tell us who your hero is and why.  Your hero deserves it and a month of focus on hero behavior will inspire all of us.

Here is a hero that combines Black History Month, Baseball and heroes.  He is the guy who followed Jackie Robinson.  The character qualities that I admire most from these guys are, they endured unimaginable opposition, they were faithful to a noble cause against a whole world that opposed them and they did not know what would be accomplished.

FOXSPORTS, Sam Gardner, FEB 03, 2014 3:00p ET

“I think in a lot of ways, he had it in much rougher fashion (than Robinson),” said Mike Veeck, whose father, Indians owner Bill Veeck, purchased Doby’s contract from the Newark Eagles of the Negro League.

“He had a high school education, and he wasn’t prepped for any of this; he was kind of dropped in the middle. I think the thing that people really identify with Larry is the tremendous sense of dignity about being No. 2. We all related to being No. 2, but we really can’t relate to being Jackie Robinson.”

Doby was once again second in line in 1978, when the Veeck-owned White Sox made him baseball’s second black manager, three years after another Robinson — this time Frank — became a player-manager with Doby’s old team in Cleveland.

“The ultimate irony,” Veeck said. “I don’t know that many people could have dealt with it. … Over the course of his career, as he watches all of these celebrations, he wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t some part of him saying, ‘I was along for the ride, too, fellas.’ But I never saw that from him, and I really admired that.”

In 1998, Doby finally received due validation for his accomplishments, when he was inducted to the Hall of Fame. And when he gave his speech before being enshrined in Cooperstown, the first person Doby thanked was his wife, Helen. The appreciation, Veeck says, was well-deserved.

All men dream, but not equally.

dream2[1]

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty  recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the  dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with  open eyes, to make them possible.” T. E. Lawrence

Sometimes I dream of great things I will accomplish.  Other times I dream of the world being different.  Dare I beleive the two are connected.

Below is my dream for unity as expressed in my current newspaper column with Our Colorado News.

United in Orange.  We are going to be happy together or disappointed together but either way we are united.  From the star on Castle Rock with the Bronco colors to the orange jerseys—a lot of 18’s—to the plates and cupcakes at my small-group from church last night, we are excited that the home team is in the Super Bowl after a fantastic record setting year. 

Unity feels good.  The excitement is contagious. It is possible to meet a complete stranger and strike up a conversation like old friends because there is a passionate common interest. 

I traveled to Tampa, Florida for the funeral one of my life long best friends.  My plane arrived in Tampa shortly after the kick off of the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots.  What if my host who is picking me up at the airport does not like football or care about the Broncos?  They might stop by WalMart on the way or after we arrived  want to watch the Kardashians or some ridiculous show like that and I’d miss the game.  I was experiencing the worst case of, Fear of Missing Football, I had Fear of Missing the Broncos Make it to the Super Bowl.  Thankfully it was convenient for them to pick me up after the game at 6:30 est.  I found a nice restaurant with the game on TV and quickly made eight new friends.  We were united with at least two common denominators.  We liked football and were rooting for the Broncos so it was easy to talk, laugh and have fun together. 

This type of unity feels especially good in a world that is fractured into countless differences and controversies.  Debate and the freedom of expression is priceless, but do we have to prove our point every day?  Families, lifestyles, politics, business strategies, economies and plans of medical treatment have so many options within them and strong personalities arguing their opinions that there is little chance of agreement or experiencing the pleasure and potential of unity.  Our 24 hour news cycles on TV and Radio feed an insatiable appetite for controversy. When a sports player “mouths-off” and causes more controversy the microphones are drawn to the emotion like bugs are to a light. 

I wish I could direct us to the church as a place where we could find peace and unity.  The message is there.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will inherit the earth.”  “How good and pleasing it is when brothers dwell together in unity.”  In the earliest days after the time of Christ the church was united.  They had everything in common and the world was changed because of how they loved each other.   We can’t play football all year long and only one team can be at the top at the end of the season, so we have to look to another source for lasting unity and peace.  Since the message is in the Scriptures and there was a time when it worked, I believe the faith community is our greatest hope for meaningful unity. 

And I realize that, as an individual within the faith community, I need to take responsibility to be part of the solution, not the problem.  The older I get the more I recognize how many times, in my own insecurity, I was competitive to people within the faith community.  Instead of reaching a united solution I saw further division that produced emotional pain, broken relationships and a terrible picture of what faith was all about or could produce.  

At my friends memorial service I experienced another dose of the wonderful feeling that comes through unity.  The friend who died was one of three of my life long best friends.  We gathered for a reunion that was emotionally rich and full.  We laughed and cried and in it all we recognized the immeasurable worth of friendship that remained strong for over four decades.   

The good feeling of unity is one small benefit of unity.  I’m going to take responsibility, work and pray that we experience a Godly unity that extends far beyond the scope and duration of the Super Bowl.

Dreams alive with vitality

Along with a few other guys, I’m reading Orthodoxy, a book by G.K. Chesterton.  This book is considered a classic in Christian philosophy and apologetics.  I think he has such an engagingly simple way of making profound thoughts.

Before you read his quote, another thought.  The opposite of depression is not joy–it is vitality.  Depressed people don’t want to do anything.  Vital people charge at life.  Life can be hard on dreams and when the vitality is gone there is not much energy or hope that the dream will be realized so why even have it.  Chesterton challenges us to come alive, regain wonder and be vital.

vitality12[1]“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.  They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.  For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.  But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.  It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.  It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy;  for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

 If you have the time, connect it with these Scriptures and see if you don’t gain a sense of wonder and awe in the greatness of God.  Galatians 5:16 (in the Message) and Psalm 98:1,2.

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