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. 

Inspiration of the Day

I am constantly asking, “Why Suffering?”

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.

hopeWe 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 does this. It is an opportunity used by God.

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.” 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. And it’s not your work to understand my suffering.  It’s our collective work to bring it to the cross and make it our redemption.

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. LewisThe Horse and His Boy

It’s your story.  It’s your suffering.  And 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 suffering?

Why me?

Why her?

Why you?

Life is a mystery. It’s your mystery.  It’s your story. It’s your suffering.

And it’s your redemption.

Lean into it. View it as an opportunity to make something new. Ask Him why? And be open for Jesus to answer.

 

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Inspiration of the Day

The first time I got stuck in the desert, I did everything I could to get out.  Worked my tail off and was exhausted by the effort.

The second time I was stuck in the desert, I tried to get out of the desert, but was forced to be patient by the almighty chemotherapy treatment. I sat for moments, grumbled at God and felt as if he was absent from my life.

The third time I was stuck in the desert, I was too tired to try anymore, so I decided to sit for awhile, in the scorching heat and asked Jesus to provide me shade.  So He did. And I found this place of Uncommon Peace like I’d never known before. And I learned more about Jesus than I ever imagined I would know.

I now understand what this quote is saying to me.  “Don’t try to get out the desert. Try to get as much out of the desert as you can.”

Get as much as you can, out of every moment you have.  If you are in the desert, God has you there for a reason. Get as much as Jesus wants you to get out of it.

Lean in, don’t run. Get as much as you can out of it.

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Friday Night Lights

A bastion of grit, sacrifice and honor and mecca for thousands of fans, I fell in love with Football Friday Night Lights as a boy. I would go with my friends and watch my brothers play, winning almost every game. I fell in love with the sounds, smell and beauty of the crowd cheering on the home team.

The lights would attract fans, friends and foes like mosquitos and roars, sighs and screams would echo through the night at the highs and lows of the shifting tides of the game.

This beauty attracted me as a boy and drew me closer in as a teenager until I could not get enough. The beauty turned into a passion for the goodness of the game.  I began to play it, saw the friendships formed out of the work to become the next great team from our home town.  In ten years from 1990 to 2000, our small town in Ohio lifted four state titles, two state runners up and dozens of division I athletes from the farm fields of St. Henry to heights reaching so far as Super Bowl Champions and Pro Bowl athletes.

That rise created in me a desire to study, learn and lean into every nook of this game to understand the truth of how you win.  I wanted to learn everything I could from defensive coverages, linebacker blitz packages, offensive formations, pass routes, audibles – west coast offense, wing T and classic Power I offensive packages.

No truth about the game was left off limits in my study of the game.  I fell in love with Football.

The Beauty of the Friday Night Lights led to an experience of the Goodness of the sport in it’s camaraderie and fellowship in triumph over opponents – ultimately creating a deep desire to learn, study and know the Truth about every facet of the game.

Why have I just told you so much about football?

I think we ask the wrong question what’s happening in culture today. Jesus Christ has been pushed to the sideline.  We ask why? It’s so TRUE.  The Truth of the Gospel is so real, how are people missing it?  We decided to hammer more and more truth into peoples minds, only to see them fall further and further away developing deep cynical scars for Christian living. And yet we still ask, why don’t they see the TRUTH?!?

I think we have it all wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, the Truth is the Truth. Jesus is who he says he is.  But we hammer with the Truth without first living the Beauty and representing the Goodness of the Gospel Message.

I fell in love with the Beauty of Friday Night Lights.  Then I fell in love with the Goodness of my teammates.  And ultimately studied more Truth in the playbooks, formations and doctrines of football that I could get my hands on.

If someone would have handed my 10 year old self a stack of Playbooks and formations and said, “Hey, you see this. This game, Football, it could change your life. Read these and trust me. Read it now, Go listen to me you little boy…”

How do you think I would have reacted? Think I would have read and studied those playbooks?

I think not. And in fact, I think I may have run from the game that is now one of my joys in life.

So with Jesus. Do we lead with the Beauty of the life of Christ in our own homes, hearts and actions?  Do we display like the Friday Night Lights the Light of Christ attracting mosquitos of life in search of meaning? And does the Goodness of Christian living exude throughout our church communities?  Is there camaraderie, fellowship and joy?

Or do we breathe Truth and Truth alone?

I believe people aren’t drawn to Truth of the Gospel.  They are first Drawn to the Beauty of it.  Then see the Goodness lived in life, your life and mine.  And ultimately they fall in love with it and in this love desire so deeply to understand the Truth of the life of Jesus that there is no going back, it goes deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.

Of course there may be an anomaly here or there. The one who studies first because that’s how God desired it. But most men and women I know are attracted to simplicity of beautiful – a sunset, a white sandy beach, an old couple holding hands, a child’s first wobbly steps…you get the story.

Let’s stop today trying to convince anyone of anything. Let’s stop with the Truth telling, mashing one another in various forms of scandal and division. Let’s stop pushing around Truth like it’s going to attract anyone to change.  My Truth is better than your Truth strategy simply does not work.

And rather let’s start living Beauty and Goodness. Let’s live as a fellowship of brothers and sisters.  Inviting in those who are in need. Attracting those who see your light. Opening our hearts and homes to others in greatest need. Getting into a church community that desires authentic, deep, life long fellowship and servant leadership. Bringing others to see the Goodness of Christian Living.

Then let the Truth be what it is. Let Truth be found in the Beauty and Goodness of your walk.

It’s the same Truth we all know – Jesus Christ alive, living today. In you. And me.

Let’s stop trying to convince anyone of it and start to live the Gospel present on earth today.

 

Inspired to Live!

Go into the world, get off the dock, head into deeper waters. Get out of the shallow end of life.  The storm may come, the ocean is deeper there and the risk is greater.  The risk is exposure, to risk someone or something valued to danger, harm, or loss.

Think of every time you’ve done that.  Really risked it all.  The day you asked your wife on your first date.  The day you left for college.  The day you got your immunizations to go on the mission trip you’ll never forget.
But would you go back? Would you do it over?  Do you regret the choice?
I’ve left three jobs, two careers and moved my family four times. I’ve survived cancer twice, written three books and speak to thousands of people each year. I’ve lived an aggressive faith, leaning in – and I’ve never regretted one choice.
Yes the water is deeper, fear is present. I was cussed out at a country club two months ago, that was rather uncomfortable, something I will never forget.  It happened because I chose to launch, each time into deeper and deeper waters.
I am watching The Greatest Showman tonight and the scene where PT Barnum calls out Philip Carlisle to join him in the Circus – where PT says, “finally live a little, finally dream a little, now that’s a deal worth taking…”
And I hear my eight year old son whisper under his breath…“YES!”
Thomas my son was inspired by a simple movie scene to say Yes! because he felt the call!
Come follow me.
That is Jesus’ call. Deeper.  And Deeper still. Yet again, deeper still. Come, deeper again…
Let down your nets and live life abundant again!
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Inspiration of the Day

I met with a gentlemen this week who is a successful real estate developer. He has fought an 800 acre project for over 15 years to bring it to fruition and today, he stands on the precipice of great financial, personal and professional success!

His first comment to me when I asked about that success was  – “I would not do it again.”

He had lost so much time in the process, to the hell of the road to that success, that in his own words it was not worth the journey to stand on that kingdom throne.

When we look at the kingdom thrones of society, they seem like a place we all want to stand. I wish I could get there.  I think I could get there.  I am going to go after that throne, forgetting about what we may have just thrown away in the process.

Think about the end when you start your path.

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Inspiration of the Day

I’ve stamped this #HardTimes Passport more than once.

I wish sometimes I could give it back, but then I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So instead, I’ve decided to carry my passport with me, and walk with others when they get their passport stamped and enter a new unfamiliar territory. Just to Give a warm hand, a hug and a smile, and just say I’ve been there too, lost in that same new country.  Let me help you find your way out.

What’s your story?  How has your Passport been stamped?

Carry that Passport into the world every day.

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