Tony Evans – Iron Sharpens Iron 2007

(This is from a series of posts on the Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference in Hartford, CT on March 24, 2007. To view the whole series, click here.)

Here is a brief summary of Tony Evans’ keynote address at the conference.

Tony shared from Acts 13:36 – “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.”

Tony spoke about the lack of purpose in many men’s lives. He compared their lives to the TV sitcom Seinfeld – plotless programming for plotless people. He said that many times our lives are like a Sunday afternoon drive. You’re not really going anywhere, so you just want to go back home.

Just as David served God’s purpose in his own generation, so we need to serve God’s purpose for our lives in this generation. Tony used the illustration of a small black and white TV in the kitchen. You don’t sit down to watch a movie on that TV. You just use it for background information or while you are doing something else. When you want to watch a movie, you go sit down in the den and watch the big screen. You give it your full attention. Some people treat God like the TV in the kitchen, when God should be more like the big screen in the den.

Tony also gave the illustration of an appliance. The manufacturer designs what the appliance will do, not the appliance itself. A refrigerator doesn’t decide to refrigerate. A toaster doesn’t decide to toast. They are designed for their function by the manufacturer. God has designed us to fulfill his purposes.

How do you know if you are on track with God’s purpose for your life? One of the keys is whether or not you are experiencing the joy of the Lord. Another key is whether you are making an impact for God’s kingdom. Tony gave the illustration of the person who gets all decked out for bowling night. You can look stylish, but if the ball goes in the gutter, it means nothing. In life as in bowling, you measure your progress by your impact.

Tony spoke about four highways. Where those four highways meet together, you find your purpose. Those four highways are:

  1. Passion > What gets you excited? What sets you on flame?
  2. Ability > What gifts has God given you?
  3. Experiences > What experiences has God brought you through – the good, the bad and the ugly? God can use them all to fulfill his purpose in your life.
  4. Opportunity > Where does God open the door? (Note: God will open the door for you when you are useable. Focus on being useable for God.)

God’s purposes for your life are not so much about you, but about how he can use you to impact others. Unless you can connect your blessings with God’s glory, you are ripping off the kingdom of God.

Tony then spoke from the second half of Acts 13:36 – He [David] fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.” Tony asked the men: “David died after fulfilling God’s purpose for him. How do you want to die?” Tony said none of us knows how long we have to live. We don’t really know who the old people are, because we don’t know when we will die.

In Psalm 90:12 Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Tony gave the illustration of two cans. One can represents God’s purposes for your life, and the other can represents your purposes for your life. At the end of each day you put a slip of paper in one of the cans depending on whether you served your purposes or God’s. Which can are you filling up?

Tony spoke about baseball great Reggie Jackson. Reggie was known as “Mr. October” because he always had such a great post season. When he was asked what his secret was, he said he started working towards October in the spring. When he came to spring training, he was already preparing for post-season. This life is our spring training, and we should be preparing for eternity.

Tony’s closing illustration centered on the game of Monopoly. He loved playing Monopoly as a kid, because it was the only time he owned land and had money. But at the end of the game, the money and houses went back in the box. And then they would close the box. Game over. Time to face reality. Some day you will be in a box in a church or in a funeral home. They will close the box on you, and you will face the reality of eternity. Game over. In that day it will not matter what you left behind, but what you forwarded ahead.

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