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Living Life in the ZoneA 40-Day Spiritual Game Plan for Men
By Kyle Rote Jr. Joe Pettigrew
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 Joe Pettigrew and Kyle Rote Jr.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDay 1
Going to Him First
Thought of the Day
God desires to be your first responder, not your last resort.
The Coach's Corner
When things are going well in our lives, we sometimes believe it's of our own doing, when in actuality it's really God working through us. At times, we become bigheaded and prideful and assume we don't need God because everything is just fine. And after we have unsuccessfully tried to solve our problems, fix the situation, or change the outcome, then we think of going to God. But then it hits us! Bad luck strikes in our lives, and we realize that our well-being is totally outside of our control. We realize that we are not in control of our own lives or our own destiny, as we had originally thought. God uses these experiences to draw us closer to Him or at least back to Him. However, when things are going great with our marriage, our kids, our friends, and our work, it's hard to acknowledge that we are not in ultimate control.
True happiness is found only in Jesus and His Word. We are to be a part of the fallen world but notcontrolled by it.
The bright lights and culture of New York's Madison Avenue work desperately to define who we are and what we need to be happy in this life. If we buy into the hype, then clearly all we need in order to be successful is to stay in a Holiday Inn Express; and all we need to become irresistible to women is to buy AXE cologne. They convince us that a pill or a five-minute workout will have us looking like the ripped guys on TV, and that if we purchase our wife something skimpy from Victoria Secret then ... well, that doesn't work either. So we find ourselves searching for happiness. It seems as though life should be ideal since we purchased all the right things, joined the right Web sites, and found the perfect job. But you know as well as we do that true happiness is found only in Jesus and His Word. We are to be a part of the fallen world but not controlled by it.
What makes us want to try to fix all of our problems on our own, without asking God for help? What makes us think that we have the answers to all of life's troubles? What makes us feel that the world is expecting us to be totally self-sufficient if we are real men? Certainly these aren't God's ideas. He wants to help you think through your problems, help design a resolution to them, and work to bring about a solution that will glorify Him. God wants to be the first one you think about, not the last one you go to after you have exhausted all other avenues.
The Game Plan
God desires an intimate relationship with you. That relationship is of greater value than anything you alone can create. God wants you to go to Him first. He wants you to know:
Nothing can separate you from His love-Romans 8:38-39: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
He stands ready to meet you at your points of need-Matthew 7:7-8: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
Every gift from Him is a good gift-Luke 11:13: "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
He created you to be part of His team and part of His game plan-John 15:16: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
Few coaches in the world have captured the hearts of men more completely than Coach Tony Dungy. Although he loved football, Coach Dungy was one of those coaches who knew there were more important things in his future than just coaching ball. He always knew that football was part of his life's mission but not the only reason God placed him on this earth. Coach Dungy recently decided to step down from the game he loved so much and began the transition from Super Bowl-winning coach to spending more time and effort as a father, husband, and builder of young men. "We just felt this was the right time," Dungy said. "Don't shed any tears for me. I got to live a dream most men don't ever get to live."
When Coach Dungy left the Indianapolis Colts, he departed as one of the most respected and beloved coaches in the history of the game. His accomplishments included 148 career wins, ten consecutive playoff appearances, and having the distinction of being the first African American coach ever to win the Super Bowl. Dungy's professional career began when he was a standout player for the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and ended two years after he guided his team to their first championship. Tony was often observed as a strong-willed man who was a master of keeping his emotions in check and holding his composure. He has faced his share of difficult trials in his thirty-one-year NFL career, including one that was very close to his heart.
Perhaps as men, we can most identify with Coach Dungy, not just through his unbelievable football successes but through the terrible tragedy that he and his family faced in their personal lives with the death of their teenage son. Just a few days before Christmas in 2005, Tony and his wife, Lauren, received the phone call that all parents pray never comes. It was an emergency phone call from the Tampa Police Department letting them know that their son James had been found unresponsive in his Tampa apartment. Later that day police confirmed James had taken his own life in an apparent suicide. Those around Tony described a man who immediately turned his grief over to his first responder-God. Tony was fortunate already to have in place a network of Christian men he could call upon in his time of need. Since dealing with his tragedy, Tony has been transparent and open about the pain he and Lauren encountered and the many life lessons they have learned from their son's suicide.
When Tony speaks, he humbly describes how two special people have received the gift of sight from his son's donated corneas. He has taken the opportunity to counsel numerous young people across the country who seem to be wrestling with issues similar to those that claimed the life of his son. At a recent prayer breakfast in Detroit, Tony shared his innermost thoughts on his son's death and how he relied on God in the midst of his pain. "If God had talked to me before James's death and said that his death would have helped these people, it would have saved them and healed their sins, but I would have to take your son, I would have said no; I can't do that. But God had the same choice two thousand years ago with His Son, Jesus Christ, and it paved the way for you and me to have eternal life. That is the benefit you can get if you accept Jesus into your heart today as your Savior." We often look at many successful men like Tony Dungy and simply assume that they have the perfect life. As a key player on a Super Bowl-winning team, as a coach of a Super Bowl-winning team, as a man earning millions of dollars, as a man with a loving family, and as a man with a celebrity status known throughout the world, what else could anyone possibly want?
Tony spoke of the biggest regret in his life, and it was not losing a game or failing to get a number one draft pick that he wanted. His main regret in life was that he did not hug his son James when he saw him for the last time during the Thanksgiving holidays in 2005. When unforeseen things happen in your life, who do you turn to? For many of us we turn first to ourselves to solve our problems, then to friends, then to our family-and often last, to God. As men we try to fix our problems, solve all the messy situations, or untangle the messes before we bother God with our problems. When we can't seem to make it better, then we start looking for help. God wants you to think of Him first.
When unforeseen things happen in your life, who do you turn to?
During a recent private conversation with Tony we spoke not only of the In The Zone conferences but also about our common interest in influencing men. Tony's passion for using both the good and the bad in life to glorify God is an example all of us can follow. When things go wrong, He wants to be your first responder-not your last resort. When things go wrong, find a place where you can have a conversation with your Father and ask for His help. Why does God allow pain in our lives? Coach Dungy often responds to that question, "Because you are loved by God and the pain allows you to head back to your Father"-your first responder, your best friend.
1. What problem are you grappling with today that you need to turn over to God?
2. Ask your wife who she sees as your first responder when you are in trouble.
3. Describe a time in your life when your relationship with God has been more about Him pursuing you than you pursuing Him.
Identify the most pressing problem you are dealing with and give it to God. Ask Him to glorify Himself and mature you in the midst of this crisis.
Praises and concerns you want to bring before God
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Having Some Alone Time with God
Thought of the Day
Make time to be alone with God regularly.
The Coach's Corner
You have probably heard that you need some time alone with God every day. However, your busy schedule seems never to allow you to slow down, and your quiet time often gets pushed back, postponed, or simply forgotten. It seems impossible to hear God speak to us in the midst of all the noise and clutter that surrounds us. Yet, some very busy men have committed to carve out a small section of time each day and set it aside for silence, study, meditation, and prayer. But this may mean silencing your cell phone, turning off your computer, stopping all interruptions, taking your phone off the hook, and/or simply closing your door. It sometimes requires that you go off alone to a quiet place where you can listen and talk to God. Surely you recall that Jesus regularly carved out alone time to be with His Father. He often retreated to the mountains or local hillside simply to be away from the large crowds where He could talk and listen to God. This alone time is often difficult in today's busy culture, but you make time for what is truly important to you. Some men have found that special time early in the morning before work, others allocate their lunch time for the meeting, others find time while at work to carve out their alone time, and still others find time prior to going to bed. Your time alone with God can help provide structure to your daily routine, placing God in a prominent position where He will not get squeezed out.
Sometimes men report that their quiet time turns out to be frustrating. You have so much to do, so many pressures, and not enough time to deal with it all. When you finally have some alone time, you often let the world creep in and your mind starts to fade. You begin thinking about all the many things you have to do, what everyone needs from you today, and what you are missing out on during this time. Many times you even find yourself daydreaming about stuff that isn't even important. Disruptions and distractions are the most common tactics Satan uses to take our mind off of God. Satan hates for us to spend quiet time alone with God.
Your time alone with God can help provide structure to your daily routine, placing God in a prominent position where He will not get squeezed out.
Quiet time is more than just clearing out our day to make an appointment with God. It's more like a sit-down visit with your closest friend and confidant. It's especially important for those of us who have made our lives so busy we would even make God Himself get an appointment to talk to us! Good relationships need priority time; they can't survive as just another item on the agenda. Worse yet, most relationships die if time is not specifically set aside for them. Won't you decide today to create a daily time to spend with God? He has been waiting.
The Game Plan
God desires to spend alone time with you. Jesus valued time alone with God-and you will find it extremely important as well. God wants you to know:
Never pray to impress others-Matthew 6:5-8: "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."
Your love for Him should encompass every aspect of your person-Matthew 22:37-38: "Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment."
You must find a special time and place to be alone with Him-Mark 1:35: "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed."
Praying to Him doesn't have to be complicated-Luke 11:2-4: "So He said to them, 'When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'"
Quiet time in today's busy world can often seem unattainable. The main question you have to answer is whether you are willing to pay the price to secure the necessary time alone with God. To make this happen, you have to carve out a slot in your day, and you simply can't permit routine interruptions. You might say, "It won't work," "I have a demanding boss," "I have a crisis to deal with," "I have important phone calls to make," "I have demanding customers," "I have kids and they have problems," or "My wife is driving me crazy" ... we are all in the same boat in regard to finding this precious time. Many times we find it hard to comprehend that the most important and successful men in the world have only twenty-four hours in their day just as we do.
Yet many very successful men manage to set aside a portion of their day, every day, to communicate with God without worry of interruption. These men are the ones who often appear to be the most content because they have found quiet time alone with their Father.
Excerpted from Living Life in the Zone by Kyle Rote Jr. Joe Pettigrew Copyright © 2009 by Joe Pettigrew and Kyle Rote Jr.. Excerpted by permission.
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