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

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-9-46-28-pm

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. 

The Younger Years

Rebel against low expectations for our youth.

Of course, adults are supposed to set an example for young people. But how many of our young people think this way: I am called to set an example for the adults.

That calls for a dramatic shift in mindset for most adults and youth today: Here’s the truth – Don’t adapt to the low cultural expectations for youth. 

I hope the parents of young children will pay especially close attention and listen for what God is calling your children to be and to do in these younger years.

One of God’s premises is that living for the glory of Christ is not on hold until you are eighteen or twenty-one. There is a way for six-year-olds to make much of Christ and a way for ten-year-olds to make much of Christ and a way for sixteen-year-olds to make much of Christ.

God is permitting and doing some unusual things in our day among young people. The temptations of youth are deeper and more dangerous than they have ever been. Children, don’t succumb to the temptations.  Adults, the point is, the usual expectations for youth are too low.

Read 1 Timothy 4:12.

This is one of Paul’s words to the younger Timothy who needed to be reminded that his expectation for what he could be were too low. Paul says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”


At baptism, a child is born again and comes to faith in Jesus as the Savior and Lord and Treasure of their lives.

I was baptized very young. I don’t have any specific memory of those days – or much else in my childhood for that matter.  Your child may have the same.

For me, my confidence that I am born again does not rest in being able to remember the point when it happened, but in his finished work on the cross and in the relationship I have with the Lord now. If someone asks me if I’m alive, I don’t reach for my birth certificate to show it’s true!  I breath in, and out – my breath proves I’m alive!

I don’t remember the day of my baptism but I look at my life and see the signs of Christ in my life – I know Him. And see the evidence of my life in Him. I don’t need a date to know I’m Alive, born again in Him! Point our children there too…

This brings me to the practical conclusion for young people and their parents: Don’t let the culture set low expectations for what you may accomplish for Christ. Listen to the way God and Jeremiah argue about Jeremiah’s call when he was young.

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.” (Jeremiah 1:6-7)

Be careful young people that you don’t postpone the blessing of fruitfulness in your life because you use the excuse, “I am only a youth.”

God said to Jeremiah, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go.” There are some younger than you that you can lead, and there are some older than you that you can serve. But do not say, “I am only a youth,” as though the only thing you are good for is watching videos and playing games, as though there is no ministry for you to do.

Go on mission.  Do the Hard Things.


Parents, successful parenting is more than compliant kids. It is gospel-saturated living and teaching. Show your children how Christ, crucified for our sins, and Christ, raised for our justification, and Christ, showing the Father’s love, and Christ, guaranteeing the Spirit’s daily help — show them how this gospel is not just something that begins the Christian life but empowers it and shapes and sustains it. Pray and love and teach your children until Christ breaks in on their hearts and becomes their Treasure.

May God give us a vision for the next generation that glorifies the gospel of Christ, and leads thousands of young people to the cross where they find forgiveness of sins, and broken-hearted humility, and Christ-exalting courage to rebel against low expectations and “do hard things.”

Adapted from Desiring God, John Piper (www.desiringgod.org)

Ben & Lynn Hartings Interview

When my Dad passed away last year, my brother found a note on which he had written a few bible verses.  It was tucked away in pages of a prayer book.  One of those verses, struck me deeply.

“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

That verse was the theme of our walk with Christ over two years from 2013 to 2015.

We were honored to share this journey in an interview on “Family Sanctuary,” a Catholic Radio Show in Columbus, Ohio.  The topic was our faith journey since 2013, living through the death of our son James and my own near death experience with cancer.  I am embedding the audio file below.  And also providing a link to the Family Sanctuary site below.

http://stgabrielradio.com/programs/audio-archive-2/family-sanctuary/

I pray this may bring you Joy in your own walk, whatever path it may be.

– Evangelii Gaudium –

 

 

The Easter Egg Hunt

I love a treasure hunt.

Today our kids embark on the annual Easter Egg Hunt…finding little treasures inside the eggs. I like the eggs with chocolate hidden inside…Mini Snickers are the best!

There is a lesson to be learned in the hunt.  Kids search for the egg just to find the treasure inside.  We might think that finding our Easter faith is the same way.  It feels like we search in the dark sometimes, groping around throughout our lives hoping against hope to find the egg of faith.

I don’t think this is right.  Remember, God is jealous.  He wants us more than anything.  Much more than we could ever want Him.

The search for faith is not us groping around in the dark – Rather, I believe that we are the egg.  We are the egg and God is seeking us out.  

We are the one isolated in the dark, hiding ourselves from God. And God is the one who seeks us out.

God is the one on the Easter Egg Hunt. We are the eggs.

We are the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). We are the prodigal son who has run away from home (Luke 15:11-32). We are the one lost in the wilderness (Psalm 107:4-6).

Jesus is the one who seeks us out.  Jesus is on the Easter Egg hunt.  And the treasure he seeks inside us is not a mini-Snickers, gumdrop or peep…it is our eternal soul.

Jesus is searching for his Easter Eggs today.  And that egg is you.  All we can do is open ourselves to being found.  Stop hiding from God.  Stop burying ourselves deep in the sand of this world: the money, the possessions, the technology, the clothes, the media, etc.  Stop letting the pain of this world blind ourselves from His light – the hurt, anxiety, fear, sickness, worry and concern.  Stop hiding like an Easter Egg.   Cry out to Jesus and open yourself to being found.

Let him find it in you.  Let him find the sweet, tender center of your soul, and transform it forever.

At the cross, at your cross.
I surrender my life.
I’m in awe of You.
Where Your love ran red,
and my sin washed white.Easter Risen Tomb
I owe all to You.
I owe all to You Jesus.

At the tomb, at your tomb.
My life surrendered will rise.
With your life risen today.
Where Your life raised again.
My life is restored.
I owe all to You.
I owe all to You Jesus.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:5–6)

Live it. Love it. Leave it all behind. #Easter2017

Good Friday – The Center of the Universe

Good Friday is the day the church commemorates the passion and death of Jesus the Christ.  There are facts and feelings about this day.  And among facts and feelings there are important distinctions.  

Don’t get your feelings and facts mixed on this day.  On any day. Don’t let someone, anyone reduce your faith to a mere feeling.  It is not a feeling.  The Christian faith is based on facts.  Simple facts.

The fact is Jesus was here on earth.  He was born to a young woman named Mary who was bethrothed to Joseph.  The fact is Joseph was a carpenter and Mary was a virgin.  The fact is that Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea at that time.  The fact is that John, Simon Peter and Andrew among others were his first followers.  The fact is Simon Peter and Andrew were brothers.  The historical fact is that this Jesus, was sentenced to die under Pontius Pilate.  The historical fact is that Jesus accepted his sentence willingly, he was scourged, carried his cross and was crucified.  These are the facts of the Christian Faith.  They are not feelings.  If you were to rub your hands on Jesus’ cross, you would have gotten splinters.  It was a real cross.  A wooden cross.  And the fact is today, on this Good Friday, we commemorate the fact, yes, the fact that Jesus died on the cross for your salvation.

Don’t let anyone reduce your faith to mere feelings.  They are not feelings.  They are facts. Today, approach Jesus and him crucified with a renewed faith, a faith that is firmly built on a foundation of facts.

These are the facts of this day…this Good Friday.  And don’t just rush by this Good Friday.  Don’t just rush by these facts. Let the facts sink in.

Don’t rush to the conquest…the conquest of Easter.  Stay awhile with this day.  Let your heart be broken by the unspeakable bad of this day that we call good.  There is time enough for Easter.  On this day, on Good Friday, the world needs to be called to attention by the facts.  By these facts.  Everything that is and ever was and ever will be, the macro and the micro, the galaxies beyond number and the microbes beyond notice – everything, yes everything is mysteriously entangled with what happened, with what happens on this day.  This is the axis mundi, the center upon which the cosmos turn.  This derelict, this Jesus, who cries from the cross is the axis mundi.    The Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end.  The life of all on this day died.  Stay awhile here at the cross.  With this death.

Every life, every human life, conceived from eternity and destined to eternity, here at the cross finds their story told.  In this killing that some call senseless, we are brought to our senses. The facts of this day are heartbreaking.  Here we find out who we most truly are, because here is the One who is what we are called to be.  Yes, we are called to be. The derelict, this Jesus, cries “Come, follow me.”  Follow him there?  We recoil.  We close our eyes.  We hurry on to Easter.  We run to Easter’s light.  But stay.  Because we will not know what to do with Easter’s light if we shun the friendship of the darkness, the facts of the darkness of this Good Friday.

Quite simply and solemnly, this is where the facts of your life…the facts of my life…are recorded. We have not come to our senses until we cling to these facts. Until we cling to the cross of Christ. Until we sense ourselves in the life, and death, of Jesus.  This is the axis mundi.  This darkness of death is wisdom’s way, the only way, to true Easter Light.  (Adapted from “Death on a Friday Afternoon” by Richard John Neuhaus)

Stay awhile with Christ and him crucified today.  Stay awhile with the facts.  The Christian faith is not a feeling.  It is fact.  Stay with the facts of it today.

Don’t return to what we call “the real world.”  Don’t just close the book, close this website, leave church, walk out of the movie theater in suspended disbelief. Don’t try to reorient yourself into some reality away from the cross.  Don’t let the world tell you the “real world” is elsewhere – a world of deadlines to be met, appointments to be kept, of taxes to be paid, of children to be educated.  From those realities, the fact of the cross is but a distant country.

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.  For they have forgotten the way home. They have misplaced the real world.”

The fact is the real world is right here.

Here at the cross.  Here is the axis mundi.

Don’t forget this fact.  Stay with Jesus today.  Stay with Jesus every day.  Stay with the hanging bloody, bruised, battered, beaten and naked, yes naked, Jesus.  Stay with this fact. The Cross of Christ is the axis mundi – the center of cosmos, this cross is the real world. 

Holy Thursday

In the bright, beautiful deep sunset of a late spring evening, the colors light up the sky.  The clouds from the days rain linger and provide a canvas on which the rays of sun pSunsetaint an array of color.  Orange, Pink and Yellow hues mix with the deep blue background of the sky.  As the sun disappears behind the horizon, for a brief moment, the rays of sun like flashlights in the night shine beams of effervescent joy.  Watching this scene, you can almost feel the joy exuding from this moment.

It is as if – Heaven and earth were colliding across the horizon. 
This is exactly what happens on Holy Thursday.

This day…Jesus, fully divine from heaven’s realm, meets his humanity one last time celebrating a meal with his comrades.  This would be his last supper.

He washes his disciples feet, bringing heaven to earth.  He serves them consecrated bread and wine, instituting the divine remembrance of him.

But this day would end, like every day ends, in a beautiful collision.  It would paint the sky of this world temporarily in hues of horrific colors.  A collision of a kiss – As Judas, satan filled and fully human, collided with Jesus, fully divine, in the Garden of Gethsemane – God intersects Satan and Heaven meets Earth. The scarlet robes of Roman Soldiers overwhelm the Savior and in one moment, the intersection of God and Satan set a permanent change in motion.

This collision led to a cross on calvary’s hill where the light of all the world, descended into darkness for three days…just as the sunset beckons the end of the day, this collision beckons a new way. 

So today, watch as the sunsets on Holy Thursday – witness to the sunset.

Jesus walks from the upper room, to an agonizing garden.  The cross stands vacant tonight, awaiting the savior a blood tomorrow.

The Devil thinks he has won, seducing one of His own to deny him…Judas…

But in fact, in this collision, the sun has set for the last time on the Devil’s un-hindered rule of earth.

The sun has set for the last time with Jesus alive.

By tomorrow at mid-day, Jesus will be dead. The darkest part of the night will come.  And all will seem lost.

Don’t rush ahead.  Reflect on where we are in the Easter Triduum tonight. Visualize the scene and meditate on it. See the hues of the old passing away, for the new day is near on the other side of this coming darkest night.

168 hours to live…

What if you had 168 hours to live? What would you do? That is 7 days. 

168 hours. 10,000 minutes. Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick…. Time goes by.

I wrote this passage below only Days before our Son James passed away in June 2013. It reminds me of now of being only hours from Good Friday.  Jesus knows he’s about to suffer and die.  Tick, tick, tick… His last hours were worthy of remembrance and praise. 

I am re-sharing on this Holy Monday. I miss my little boy James. 
—————————-

Posted June 1, 2013 

My wife and I started our journey with our little angel having 9 months, 40 weeks or 6,720 hours. We are down to 168 hours left. One week. At this time next week we will be in the hospital. Most likely, our baby, little Olivia or James will be with us, outside the womb. Alive? We don’t know.

What would you do if you had one week to live? 

 168 hours. 

We have options every day as to what we do. It’s sinking in now, that my options are many and my hours are few. Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick…So what will we do with our Angel…That is for us to decide. So many options, so few hours. I must not sleep is my first reaction. I must spend every moment possible with life.

But isn’t that the call at all points time. The clock only ticks forward, not back. We have a defined number of hours. I must every possible moment with life here on earth. 

Service to others, love of neighbor, love of spouse, time with children (remember the old saying, children spell love, T-I-M-E) – hours that matter.

Maybe I have 350,000 hours (40 years) or 168,000 hours (19 years) or 168 hours (1 week) – this I do not know – each is a gift. 

I realize this more today than ever before because I have 168 hours left. It’s a gift and curse to know there is a defined time on life. The curse to know pain is eminent. The gift to know that each hour has meaning, it matters. But what does it matter? 

Well, everything matters. Everything I do in the next 168 hours matters. Memories, service to Olivia/James, to my wife, to my children – preparation and prayer – sacrifice. Everything matters.

And if that is case, then as a result everything I do in the next 5,000, 100,000, 168,000 or 350,000 hours matters too?

Correct

 It has to be. So many options, so few hours. What will I choose? So many options, so few hours.

A quote from St. Francis of Assisi in a letter he wrote to all the faithful:
“Men lose all of the material things they leave behind in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give.”

Palm Sunday

This coming week, Holy Week, is my favorite week of the year.

Palm Sunday is the doorway to Holy Week.  It is an entrance to the Paschal Mystery, the entrance by which Jesus passed from death into life.  Understanding it’s origin and history so we can truly take notice of this doorway helps me embrace these days.

Palm Sunday is part of a story. It’s a story of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem which ultimately ends in his death.  Read this and visualize the story.

On Palm Sunday, “Jesus arrives in Jerusalem from Bethphage and the Mount of Olives, that is, the route by which the Messiah was supposed to come. From there, he sent two disciples ahead of him, telling them to bring him a young donkey that they would find along the way. They did indeed find the donkey, they untied it and brought it to Jesus. At this point, the spirits of the disciples and of the other pilgrims were swept up with excitement: they took their coats and placed them on the colt; others spread them out on the street in Jesus’ path as he approached, riding on the donkey. Then they cut branches from the trees and began to shout phrases from Psalm 118, ancient pilgrim blessings, which in that setting took on the character of messianic proclamation: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” (v. 9-10).

This festive acclamation, reported by all four evangelists (the Gospels), is a cry of blessing, a hymn of exultation: it expresses the unanimous conviction that, in Jesus, God has visited his people and the longed-for Messiah has finally come. And everyone is there, growing in expectation of the work that Christ will accomplish once he has entered the city.”

Having read the Gospels like a business book, it is hard to embrace the excitement of the first Palm Sunday.  The disciples think, riding in on a donkey, the savior Jesus will conquer Jerusalem.  They thought the temple would be their new home and the Roman empire overthrown as a fulfillment of the Old Testament.

They were so excited that they stripped palm branches from trees and waved them overhead as the rallying cry to the Savior.  This is Palm Sunday’s origin.  An origin of excitement.

We are following Jesus this week.  Reflect today on Jesus’ entrance, the excitement of this entrance into Jerusalem.  Let this excitement grow in you. Lay down your stress, pick up your palm branches and wave them high as your savior is entering…is entering your city!  He is here to accomplish salvation!  Watch him ride in under this scene. Close your eyes and picture it.

 Jesus!  Welcome!  Come into my city!  Bring salvation to me! To us!

This is the excitement of Palm Sunday.  Soak in that today.

Live it. Love it. Leave it all behind. #HolyWeek2017