From Fitness to Faith

   I’m a pretty big proponent of personal fitness. It’s the third of my “F”s. Faith, Family, and Fitness. My job is no longer in the top three. It’s position got usurped by fitness not too long ago.

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   This is going to initially seem like a fitness post. Bear with me, the background is just important to establish WHY my fitness practices are important to my faith.

   I was raised by my father to prioritize God, Family, and Work . In that order, he was teaching me to never choose my job, or money, over the first two. My father was a very wise man and lived his life that way as long as I can remember, he always put us first. As I passed my thirtieth birthday, though, I began to consider things in a different light. My job was something that allowed me to serve my family and God, but not something that should determine my success or failure, and surely not something that should be able to affect my happiness. My “fitness” journey started several years ago. I was working at a bigger school (that really sapped a lot of that happiness) and a long time friend was also working there. He was a member of anytime fitness and invited me to visit a couple of times. We did “muscle group” style workouts and such. This prompted me to join a gym and go pretty much everyday after school. I had loads of time since my wife and I carpooled and she worked later than me. Since there was no way I was hanging around at that school any longer than I had to, I got in a lot of hours in a globogym style atmosphere. Then I got a phone call.

   The summer after my second year at that particular school I received a phone call from a coach and mentor of mine from my high school years. He had taken over the AD job and was offering me a position as an assistant. After some consideration, and honestly less prayer than there should have been, I accepted. It was the best professional decision I have ever made. While the work hours were marginally less desirable due to varsity sports, the atmosphere I worked in was world’s away from what I left. My wife was amazing for being supportive of that leap, she took on a lot more with our son while I was gone on weekends, all so I could be happy in my workplace.

   The downside to this change was that I didn’t have much time for fitness. I ate what I wanted and gained a little weight, nothing major. But I lost what I had gained. A couple of years ago I was offered another opportunity at the same school where I was coaching. This move to an administrative position allowed me to be more flexible with my time. I began to work out in the mornings at 5:30. I have been pretty consistent with this for a while now.

   Recently I also began to pay attention to my nutrition quite a bit more. I’m not going to go into details on food or workouts here, just know that I made some significant changes to both. As to why I hold fitness in such a high regard that it is only ranked below my family and God himself:

 

Just to be healthy

   There is, of course, the oft used “body is a temple”. Of course I want to take care of myself, to feel energetic and have overall wellness. I have been at points in my life before where I felt drained all day long and it felt like a yoga session just to bend over and tie my shoes or do other similarly simple tasks. Even when I was working out the first time I went through bouts of these feeling. I’m convinced now that it was largely because of my nutrition, or lack thereof. I would force myself to go to the gym and finish a workout, even pushing through fatigue most days. I think this was also due to the kinds of exercises I was doing. But one major concern is to live a better, longer, healthier life. Note that I don’t think tattoos are outlawed in this verse, for reasons that are my own, and possibly worth an entire other post. But that it’s about taking care of yourself so you can best serve God.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,

whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 6:19

 

Toughness

   Mental toughness is something that can benefit every single person I know. One of the main reasons I do the workout program that I do is that many of its workouts are extremely challenging to finish. A large part of what gets you through them is to keep going when every fiber of your body is screaming at you to quit. Because they are scaled to the mastery of the person doing them, it’s hard no matter how much of a beginner, or how advanced, you are.

   When I was in High School I was “confident”. There’s no hiding that, I thought a lot of myself. But it was mostly that I knew I was smart enough to come off that way, and then weasel my way out of however someone might “test” my actual ability in whatever the topic might be. So in short, I was cocky, and could be a butt hole about it at times. Just good enough at enough things to be able to fake my way through pretty much anything. For whatever reason after high school this changed quite a bit. I began to question myself and look for validation from outside of myself.  I spent  time (and still spend sometimes) wishing I could still capture the good parts of the “I don’t care what other people think” attitude. But I am making progress towards placing my value in something other than what people outside of my head think about me. I wouldn’t say I’m mentally weak, but I will say that I have a lot of room for progress. I can push through a lot of discomfort physically, I can finish runs or workouts that hurt like crazy. But sometimes I still find myself at a point where I stop and walk, or take a breath. It’s only after this happens and the workout ends that I think “I could have done one more rep, I’m not dead” or I know I could have finished that 5K a minute faster if I had pushed. This applies to acts of faith as well. We often trust God…. Mostly. It’s like when Jesus sent his disciples out in Mark 6.

And he called the twelve to himself, and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them power over unclean spirits. He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff- no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts-but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.

Mark 6:7-9

   They probably thought he was crazy. Take nothing except a staff, shoes, and one piece of clothing. Not even food or money. This is not the only example of the disciples doing things like this. Their very following of Jesus was this manner of faith, more than one left their family and jobs. They didn’t have an income, it was all based on what people gave them during their travels. Tell me you wouldn’t have to be mentally tough to go in that situation and continue to go, every day when you get up and have no idea where your food is going to come from or if you will have to sleep outside. (without a blanket, remember he told them not to bring one)

   I wonder if I have that mental toughness. To drop everything and go without, trusting for God to provide. Or like the young ruler would I neglect to get rid of everything because it would be too hard? Too scary? Facing hardship, pain, and “I can’t do this” and learning to tell that voice inside your head to shut up, that’s what I’m looking for. I think it will make me a better Christian, and Father. It is my belief that it’s a mind set that can apply to many aspects of life. Learning it in a weight room or on a run is a controlled place. So I impale myself on workouts that leave me half dead some days. And I love it.

   I have also taken to reading books aimed at developing mental strength or persistence. My favorite two at the moment are: “The Warrior and the Monk” by Greg Amundson, and “Unbeatable Mind” by Mark Divine. Two other good ones that tell stories of people achieving things in this arena are “First: What it Takes to Win” by Rich Froning, and “Embrace the Suck” by Stephen Madden. You’re not here for a book review, maybe that’s something I could do periodically do as a part of OTR? (let me know)

   So one of the major reasons, if not the single biggest, that fitness occupies such a high place in my life is this: To be mentally fit enough to handle anything I may go through in my ministry for Christ, or the support of my family. To quiet the little voice inside my head that tells me “That’s good enough, you can stop now.” I believe this will make me a better Christian, Husband, and Father.

   The physical preparation is good too. Who knows what I may face up against in my mission. To be healthy and read to tackle any mountain, figuratively and literally I may come up on. The ability to push through the crap that makes me want to quit because I have done whats “good enough”.

 

Commitment

   To do well and make progress in fitness you must have a level of commitment. This doesn’t mean that you never miss a day or eat something outside of what you’re supposed to. But it means you keep those things to a minimum. I’ve written up a weekly plan, and I do my best to keep it. If I know we have something on both Saturday and Sunday that will interfere with my weekend run, I try to make time in advance to get it in. Ironically as I write this on a Sunday night I reflect that I missed my Friday work out, but did one Saturday to keep the balance. I hold myself to a certain standard with regards to this. The workouts may not always be good ones, but they happen. When the alarm goes off in the morning, that’s the first battle of the day and whether I win or lose that often dictates much more. 

   Similarly, I commit myself to reading my Bible every day. I miss days often, and I beat myself up over it. But most of the time, in the last couple of months anyway, I read at least something. Some times it’s  a whole chapter, sometimes just a couple of paragraphs. Sometimes it’s a devotional on my Bible app with accompanying scriptures, this often is when I was unable to get reading in at home that morning. I started by setting a goal, such as a chapter per day. But as I progressed into it I found that some times I had plenty to dwell on after just a couple of paragraphs, especially if they were in red letters. So I decided to commit to reading until I felt I had found the lesson for the day, then I went to putting it into practice. I prefer to do my workouts in the morning, but 5:30 comes early and I often snooze button my way into trouble (losing that first critical battle) and have to do it after work. The same with my reading, I prefer to do it in the morning, as it gives me a goal and prayer to live out during the day. Committing to something over time, even if it’s forced at first, begins to change who you are.

   What you put into your mind starts to shape your thoughts, your thoughts shape your words, your words shape your actions, and your actions shape the type of person you become. 

 

Showing up

   A successful relationship with both fitness, and God, depend on us “showing up”. In the literal sense we must show up to the gym, box, track, or whichever, to achieve any sort of success in our chosen fitness activity. As Christians we are told in the Bible that we need to be a part of a church. Yes, I know, a church doesn’t save you, and isn’t what gets you into Heaven. But how serious can you really be in your relationship with God if you can’t even commit to going and learning more about him? Your church is your accountability group, your nourishment for your spiritual hunger, and where you go to hear the word. It’s an important part of your walk to show up and be a part of a church. If you don’t show up to the gym (or wherever) then you won’t become a better athlete. If you don’t show up to church regularly, then chances are good that you won’t become a better Christian.

   Figuratively you have to show up to get stronger, faster, better. In this case “showing up” means that your effort shows up with you. Even if you go to the gym etc. regularly but you don’t put everything you have into it, you won’t be anywhere close to achieving your potential. You have to show up ready to work and then prove that by your efforts. Just like as Christians we have to not only physically show up at the church building, but also to put the effort in. Think about it, the scribes and Pharisees showed up for church. But when Jesus himself was looking them in the face they didn’t recognize him for who he was. Showing up physically, while an important first step, is not enough:

‘Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”’

Mark 12:38-40

   The scribes were the uber religious. They were the “who’s who” when it came to the scripture and knowledge as far as the people of the time were concerned. Yet Jesus says “beware of the scribes” because while they may show up, and even talk the talk, they don’t do the real work. They don’t feed the hungry or help those in need. So if you show up, congratulations, that’s awesome and we’re happy to have you! Now pick a ministry and dive in! Don’t just come through the doors, even my two year old does that, make a difference. “Go unto all nations”.

 

Fundamental Change

   I choose to do fitness because I want to make a fundamental change in who I am physically. Not just superficially, although that’s certainly something I enjoy, but deeper than that. I want to live longer, have more energy, and avoid injuries later in life that plague many people. I want to be a healthier human. I have chosen to pursue my faith in order to fundamentally change who I am. I want to be wiser, have more patience (see my last post), find joy in everything, reach people for Christ, be a better husband, better father, and better leader to those around me. Both of these things will serve purposes greater than myself. Faith drives my fitness by allowing me a conduit to improve myself in a way that I can control that influences the rest of my life. It allows me to work my way closer to God and my goals. It allows me to better

Be The Rock

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You won’t like me when I’m angry

Have you ever been in Walmart (you can sub Costco, HEB, or whatever’s local to you). There are 20 registers, but only 2 are open, and both are 10 people deep. You only have one item and have been in this line for ten minutes. Then another cashier FINALLY walks up, only to tell the people with full carts at the back of the line to come over. WHO JUST GOT IN LINE. This is a pet peeve of mine, and it gets me seething pretty quick. I don’t ever say anything, but it gets me pretty fired up, as I’v worked in retail and always made a point to help the person who’s actual turn it was. I’m a huge fan of the stores who have one line and then the customer in the front goes to an open register. This solves the problem described above. BUT customer service strategy isn’t what you’re here for.

Anger

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Granted I’m not “quite” as buff or strong as the Hulk, or as green (although I may put away as much food some days). But Anger is something I have struggled with. I don’t usually approach people in public places or cause any scenes, but inside myself (or in an otherwise empty truck) I have to make a pretty significant effort to tamp it down. I often felt bad for feeling angry, it gave me guilt more than once. But once I got into scripture I began to see things that made me think maybe I was going about it all wrong.

   ‘A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.’

Proverbs 29:11

   That verse has to do with all feelings, but anger as well. This was the first time I began to consider that maybe it was more about my reactions and behaviors. Reflections on one of my favorite stories in the Bible slid another piece into place:

‘Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”’

Matthew 21:12-13

‘So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’ ? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”’

Mark 11:15-17

      While the scripture doesn’t use the word “anger”, but from how that interaction goes, I would say there’s a fair chance Jesus was more than a little upset. I mean, he went in and started flipping tables. Same guy that made a whip, MADE it himself, and chased people out of the temple. Two more verses that show anger in relation to God:

‘So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. ‘

Numbers 12:9

‘So the Lord ’s anger was aroused on that day, and He swore an oath, saying, ‘ Numbers 32:10

 

Anger itself is not sinful. How can it be? If God/Jesus is without sin, then anger can not be a sin. Maybe, just maybe, it’s how we respond and direct it that is the real problem. I come back to a verse above:

‘A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.’

Proverbs 29:11

   My favorite thing about the Bible is how it has a lesson or story for just about anything we can encounter. The Bible the is actual WORD of GOD, not the ramblings of some bearded dudes in the desert, but the actual communications from the creator of the universe. So you can take it to the bank when it says something in there. So according to Proverbs, if I wan’t to be a wise man, I will make an effort to hold that anger in check and try to find another way to express myself.

Now, of course we want to be wise, and patient, and strong (anger is just one of my personal struggles). It may sound awful, but I find myself so hesitant sometimes to pray and ask God for these things. Because do you really think he will just give you magic patience where suddenly nothing gets on your nerves? Or how about you suddenly know how to react to every situation with astounding wisdom? Maybe you will immediately weather all storms without letting it get to you with Samson style mental strength. Nah, I don’t think so either.

More likely, he will give you opportunities to show these attributes. So by praying for patience, you may actually be asking to be tested. Because as with the physical, we are developed through repetition and work. Muscles grow only after being worked out. Steel is only strengthened and sharpened after it has been heated and hammered, several times. In the same manner the tests and trials that we go through sharpen and shape our capacity for fruitful behaviors (we’re supposed to be “known by our fruits”, right?). The bible even tells us that if we aren’t facing obstacles to our ministry and walk with God, then we probably aren’t doing it right. If we were doing it wrong, wouldn’t Satan probably leave us alone? Because “doing it wrong” is exactly what he wants. Here’s a couple of verses in reference to that:

‘Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” -Matt. 5:11

“and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” -Luke 21:17

That list could go on and on. Those are from Jesus in the NT, but there are numerous times throughout the Bible where Christians are told that they will suffer or face hardships during their pursuit of God.

So really that line in Walmart is just God’s way of shaping me into the Christian I need to be. Which isn’t really surprising, since that place is like one huge test of every shred of sanity I have left. I also think that Dante might have forgotten to add “Walmart” as the next level when he wrote Inferno.

The takeaway? Like we talked about last time, shift your focus when you get into one of these situations. See the opportunity you have to hone whatever it is that God has seen as a need in your life.

Be. The. Rock

 

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Shift Your Focus

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   Imagine your driving down the highway. You are looking at your phone and suddenly you hear a horn and look up. Boom. Your focus was on the wrong thing.

   Often times as Christians we end up in a similar boat. Our jobs, hobbies, problems, and even sometimes our family, take up the majority of our focus. Think about a situation in sports, or even competition for a job. Have you ever been in a competition you knew you were gonna lose? Even though you knew that, did you try hard anyway? Did you maybe have a teammate who didn’t? The “why try hard if we’re gonna lose anyway?” attitude. Why do some people try hard while others don’t? 

Focus

   The difference is your focus. One of those people focused on the obstacles that were in the way. Maybe the the other team was bigger, faster, stronger, or more qualified. The other person focused on the opportunities that they had, even in the face of adversity. A harder opponent makes me better, they make me do things I’m not normally challenged to do. Or maybe I can even beat them and prove that I’m capable of more than I though possible. 

Obstacle: a thing that blocks ones way, or prevents, or hinders progress.

   A colleague of mine was leading a bible study not too long ago on David and Goliath. He was speaking to our youth group about tackling things bigger than yourself through faith, as the story is often used to do. My own mind, as it often does, wandered in a different direction. I’m going to assume you know the story, so I’ll just put a couple of relevant verses here. If you’re unfamiliar, it can be found in 1 Samuel 17. At this point David has reached the army and heard his brothers say how awesome Saul will treat anyone who can take down Goliath, but also how its impossible. He basically chews them out and word gets back to the king. Saul calls for him and this is the exchange:

‘Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him. Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”’

I Samuel 17:31-33 

  David said, “It’s all cool king, I’ll go fight this guy.” Then Saul said basically, “you’re crazy, that big dude will whip you down. You’re just a kid, he’s a giant who’s trained to fight all his life.” 

‘But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord , who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”’

I Samuel 17:34-37 

   David told Saul that the giant would be nothing, just like all the animals that he had killed when they came after his sheep. God would let him take care of Goliath the same way he took care of those predators. Then everyone will know that he (Goliath) defied the armies of the living God. 

   There are a lot of things we can gather from this story. But my absolute favorite is the thing that made David different from all the other people on his side of the conflict. FOCUS. The soldiers, Davids brothers included, all saw a 9 foot tall giant, who had a spear as thick as their forearms, and a breastplate so heavy most of them couldn’t even pick it up on their own. They saw the enormity of the obstacles, and could see nothing else. But not little David. He saw all of those things, but they were overshadowed by his vision of how God could use this situation to show the other army that he was all powerful. David saw the OPPORTUNITY in the conflict. He didn’t focus on the fact that Goliath was over three times his height, or could crush him in one hand. He saw that he had the ability, through Gods gifts and support, to take him down, to show everyone how powerful his God was. 

Let’s go into another story, this one involves Jesus interacting with his disciples. Found in Matthew 17:

‘And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”’

Matthew 17:14-21 

   Before I go into how this relates to the point, we need to set the stage. At this time in Jesus ministry there were stories going crazy about him. He had a pretty big crowd following him around by now, remember the stories about feeding the 5000/4000? In every town they passed, more people joined the multitude. All of these people wanted to hear Jesus teach and brought their problems and sicknesses to him. So the guy in this story has probably been waiting a long time for his turn to see Jesus. 

So he finally gets to the front of the line with his extremely sick son. This kid has very bad seizures. They have caused him to fall into fires and the water. Burning him and surely almost drowning him. Epilepsy can be dangerous even now days, and in that time period there were no known treatments. Because of this it was viewed as a life long illness with a short life expectancy. In the face of all of these obstacles, the disciples saw this boy as incurable. 

   “I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

   He had tried everything else. Doctors, priests and probably even alchemists, shamans, and sorcerers. But then he heard all those stories we talked about earlier. So he says, “Let me try this Jesus guy, even his disciples are said to perform great miracles.” But those disciples couldn’t get it done, so he went to seek out the master himself. 

“I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

   Jesus immediately knew why. He didn’t even have to talk to the disciples.

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”

   He uses the term “faithless” which, obviously enough, means without faith. Then throws in a “perverse” for good measure, which is defined as “turned away from right or good.” Then simply tells the demon “bye Felicia” and it’s gone. Then the disciples come to him in private, because I think they know they screwed up, he sort of chewed them out when the dad showed up. This is the crux of the story that brings it back to where we started. they asked “why couldn’t we heal him?”

WE

   “Why couldn’t WE heal him?” The most important word here is WE. Their focus was all wrong. They were focused on what they could do, and all the things in their way. Remember how serious and incurable those seizures were? At this point in the ministry the disciples had healed many people, and it was probably starting to lose its “coolness”. When your followed around by thousands of people asking for wisdom and healing it starts to become rote, like what often happens to us in worship and prayer. They stopped remembering who was actually doing the healing and couldn’t see past the obstacles.  In verse 20 we see the famous mustard seed analogy. They had “unbelief”, because a mustard seed is pretty small and they didn’t even have that. If you are faithful, it has nothing to do with you at all, so the obstacles that you face don’t matter. Now I have a concrete example where the focus is actually noted in the story. It’s one your familiar with.

‘And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”’

Matthew 14:22-33

   Peter saw Jesus and said “Dude, can I walk out there too?” and he was doing it…. while his focus was on JESUS. 

“But when he saw”

   That changed everything. He shifted his focus from the Son of God and began to see all of the obstacles. Wind. Big waves (it was storming). And don’t forget he was standing on TOP OF THE WATER. He began to sink. And what did Jesus say yet again? “Oh you of little faith”. 

  If you have faith and focus on what God can accomplish, then the obstacles around you cease to matter. So where is your focus in life? On the obstacles? Or on the opportunities?

Be the rock.

 

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“13 Reasons Why” not?

   As an educator I heard about “13 reasons why” early on in its existence. I had heard of the book, but once it hit Netflix it exploded. Many students went on about how it was relatable etc. Social Media was immediately flooded with people (not young ones) bashing it. Most condemned it for “glorifying suicide” or something similar to that theme. I agreed off hand. It sounded like that was true from what I’d heard. It made something with a central theme about suicide popular, hence “glorifying”. There’s no reason to have a show in which the point of the entire first season leads up to one of the main characters (Hannah) taking their own life. (I don’t count that as a spoiler since its the entire crux of the show from second 1, and come on, it’s 2018).

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   My default recommendation for my youth and students was for them to not watch it. I had never seen it of course, but there are many things I haven’t seen/done that I still feel compelled to tell kids to avoid. This was no different. BUT (isn’t there always a but?) earlier this year I inadvertently found myself in the room with someone who was watching one of the early episodes, I think it was probably #2. Because of this I ended up watching the entire 1st season.

I still recommend that kids not watch it. 

   I’m not switching gears when it comes to that. The language is awful and many scenes are graphic, there are multiple scenes with rape and of course the final moments of the narrators life. But even more importantly, there may be kids struggling with thoughts exactly like these that we don’t even know about (more on this later). I am concerned that they will see this and think it’s the only way to cope with it because no matter what Hannah tried it ended the same. I don’t want them to feel like their thoughts of being universally unloved are true. I’m not discounting how real it is to them, because it’s very real, but there were people that loved Hannah. They just didn’t show up in time (more on this also, stick around). If you happen to be a young any person reading this and you don’t think theres anyone on this planet that loves you, get in touch with me. I’ve never met you but I love you. And even better, I can tell you about someone who loves you like you’ve never thought possible. Don’t take that course of action, there is another way out of the darkness you find yourself in. Don’t. Ever. Underestimate. Your. Worth. Suicide is never the only choice, even if it feels like the only way out. Theres a light at the end of the tunnel, I can help you find it. If you’r not comfortable with that, I can find someone who you are comfortable with and put you in contact with them.

BUT, if your an adult it wouldn’t hurt to watch this.

   I know it may be uncomfortable, what with the language and other scenes. But especially if your a parent, minister, teacher, principal, counselor, etc. this is important to understand. I know we were all teenagers once, but the world and school is a different place now, as teachers will attest. Many of the things that were depicted in the show didn’t surprise me, but to see it from the aspect of the victim was eye opening. It significantly changed the way I interacted with a lot of the kids I see. As educators we see them every single day and that allows us to make a very huge and very real impact. The “but that’s not even a big deal” attitude shows up in the show too, friends and family seem to think the main character is overreacting to some situations or things. It becomes a recurring narrative. How often do we tell a someone that its “no big deal”, or that something “isn’t worth crying over.”? If you work with kids in any capacity then you have a obligation to give them the best you. That means trying our best to understand their feelings and what they’re going through so you can connect with them. Almost every teacher I know cares for their kids on a deep level, I really believe that. But to care, and to take action, are two very different things. If you see a kid struggling with something, take it seriously (remember it’s real to them) and then go do something about it. Even if that’s as simple as going, saying “hi”, and listening to them. Listening is underrated, especially to educators and other similar roles, but in general as well. We love so much to fix, offer advice, or tell someone how “I would do it”. They might surprise you with how serious these feelings are to them. You can make such a big impact by never assuming they are as O.K. as they appear on the outside and then showing up for them.

I really recommend that you watch the first season of this show. I know we are taught, even as adults, to avoid these sorts of things, and rightly so. In this case, though, I really feel that the knowledge and insight gained is worth it. Wait till your kids are in bed, turn down the volume, and get ready for some words and scenes that may be uncomfortable. But that’s kinda the point: watch it, absorb it, and put yourself in Hannah’s shoes.

To leaders of kids who are Christians. 

   The way adults talk to kids become the voices in their head.  What kind of voice are you? Remember, be the foundation that they can begin their journey to Christ from.

Be the rock


 

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**Image courtesy of hdwallsource.com

The Journey Begins

For the last several months I have been contemplating beginning a new adventure in my life. It came to my attention a while back that Jesus began his widespread public ministry when he was 30 years old. I am about to turn 31, so this led me into a “What have I done?” moment. I mean… I’ve not been absent from church and volunteer work, but have I really done what I’m supposed to?

   Have I pushed past the walls of my church? What about my comfort zone? Am I really doing everything I can? 

   The answer when I sat down and was brutally honest with myself was no, no I’m not. So I’ve decided to do something about it. This website is the first step in the development of On This Rock Ministries. The building phase of OTR will focus mostly on this website, with regular blog posts and social media page activity. Further down the road I hope to also offer devotional plans, physical mission work, as well as podcasts or possibly videos.

Why “On This Rock”?

   I think everyone is familiar with Jesus telling Peter “On this rock I will build my church.” While this was targeted specifically for Peter, I think it applies to all of us. We are tasked with “going unto all nations” to build the church through sharing the gospel. Each of us is a rock that makes up the foundation of what the church is, as pretty much every Southern Preacher I’ve ever had points out “The church ain’t the building, it’s the people”. I also reflect on the parable Jesus told about the two men, one of which built his house on the rocks, the other on the sand. Ask yourself:

Are you a rock in your community? Do you hold people up? Contribute to a solid foundation of faith? Or are you sand? That lets people down and fails to provide a foundation of trust and the gospel?

 

If you’re here, stick around. Bookmark the page for regular blog posts and follow me on social media for daily verses and other content!

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