NEW BOOK RELEASE: It’s Not Ok. And That’s Ok.

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NEW BOOK RELEASE

My wife Lynn and I just completed and published It’s Not Ok. And That’s Ok.

Co-Authors Ben & Lynn Hartings

“It’s Not Ok. And That’s Ok.” can be purchased here. 

Surviving through crisis early in life, it opened the eyes of Ben & Lynn Hartings to a world in need – in need of uncommon peace in the midst of crisis. Cancer and death had ravaged their lives, but joy and peace surrounded their journey.

This book is full of lessons and stories through when Life is NOT OK! Disease, Diagnosis and Death overcome our lives – These stories will lead you to the knowledge and peace that – “It will be OK” – regardless of the outcome, because of faith in Jesus Christ.

Read “It’s Not OK. And That’s OK.” to find inspiration through Grief, Anger, Crisis, and Death – be inspired to find uncommon Peace and true Joy eternal.

So Thankful for the opportunity to share.

Peace –

Ben & Lynn Hartings

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 6-7 NIV

Available for immediate purchase here. 

You have to watch this video…

I post videos from time to time.  But this one hit me.  About a father, who left his entire career to serve his handicap son.  A son “who never spoke, who never called him “dad,” who never made eye contact, became the greatest teacher of his life.”

We are called to finish the work and will of the one who sent us.  This father is doing that.

So the disciples started asking among themselves, “Could somebody have brought him food?”
“My food,” Jesus said to them, “is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do. You have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest.’ But I tell you, take a good look at the fields; the crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested!

John 4: 33-35

Suffering…3.0

Psalm 23 is perhaps the most recognized of all the Psalms…

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me.
Psalm 23, A Psalm of David

There is a song written by Matt Maher, titled “Rest” that is based upon Psalm 23. I did not realize until recently listening to the song the context of Psalm 23.  Foremost of all, Psalm 23 is an invitation to rest, in the middle of our greatest evil.  Our greatest suffering.

The Psalm states, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  Wow!  In the middle of our greatest suffering, in the midst of our enemies, the Lord is simply preparing a table for us.  He is reserving a place of rest at his table.  

When we join him at table…he promises to anoint us (as in the anointing of the sick) and then our cup will overflow.  The evil may remain, the suffering may not end, but our cup overflows when we rest at his table.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

Psalm 23, A Psalm of David

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

PSALM 23

Suffering is an experience of Evil

Having suffered myself, and now watching others suffer around me, I am constantly asking, “Why?”

It is a fair question in my opinion.  But it is a question that is inherently unique to humanity. Other living beings suffer the same. I had a friend last week who had their dog at the vet for treatment of Melanoma.  I guess dog’s get melanoma in the linings of their mouth (learn something new every day).  Interestingly enough, the dog did not ask his vet, why he had Melanoma? But for me, I did. I asked why, and still ask why almost daily…

If you are a Christian like me, in the midst of this “Why?” we are called to ‘carry our cross’ with purpose and joy.  Big or Small, every single day we are carrying them.  Some are seen, others are unseen to the naked eye.  But, How is this possible? How can we carry the cross in the midst of such suffering? 

If you are anything like me, you run from suffering. It is your instinct to turn away from the pain that accompanies it.  We have a natural reaction, a repugnance, for every form of evil and that suffering that accompanies it.  Our first reaction is to avoid it at any cost.

We can say that suffering has a purpose.  And oftentimes it does.  It changes us.  Suffering can be in this sense, redemptive.  It is the action of being cleansed from something we did not like (making us a different, better person).  Suffering can do this.

But when we speak of redemptive suffering, this does not make suffering good.  I am not suggesting that suffering in itself is good.

As Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical “On Human Suffering” reminds us that every suffering is an experience of evil (paragraph 7). There is nothing glamorous about evil or it’s effects.  The cross of Jesus makes this abundantly clear…His suffering was dreadful to watch (Passion of the Christ – watch the movie).  Even Jesus, in the midst of suffering, prayed to let the cup of suffering be taken away from him (Matthew 26:3).

But he entered it, walked right into suffering because he knew by it, he would redeem the world.  He entered the battle with the evil of suffering willingly.

If the passion of Jesus were to have ended with the crucifixion, we would have no choice but to resign ourselves to inevitable despair.  Spending our lives in misery of the evil of suffering. But the Gospel did not end that way, with endless, meaningless suffering.

Jesus, working redemption through suffering on the cross, provides a pathway to all human redemption from the inherent evil of suffering.  Suffering is evil.  Jesus conquered evil on the cross by his suffering. Therefore our suffering was co-sacrificed with his on the cross, ultimately being redeemed to new life.

His cross has become the font of our healing and redemption from the evil of suffering.

So Why suffering?  Because evil is present in the world.

Why your suffering? I don’t know that answer.  It’s not mine to know. I’m reminded of a quote from Chronicles of Narnia (A Horse & His Boy) by CS Lewis.

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

It’s your story.  It’s your suffering.  But it’s also your redemption.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:21

Why me? Why her? Why you? Life is a mystery. It’s your story.  It’s your suffering. And it’s your redemption.

Lean into it.  Ask Him why? And be open for Jesus to answer.

 

 

Don’t Run From it; Embrace it

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.

Job 13: 15

Though the fig tree does not bud

and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to tread on the heights.

The Giants Fall

Posted by Grace Hartings:

This is my favorite song. I love it because you can move to the rhythm and know that God is right by your side. This reminds me of David and Goliath.

 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

1 Samuel:17 45-50