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“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Standing Firm

Welcome to the Lord’s Gym Ministries’ blog. Here you will find updates on the good things God is doing in Cincinnati and the Greater Tir-state area. You’ll also find words of encouragement and learn about how you can have a part in God’s grand plan for our community.

A Friday on the Bus

Through the STORM...

Sherry and Tonya joined Brandon on the STORM Bus for the first time several Fridays ago for an “eye opening experience.”

About Sherry and Tonya

Sherry is a licensed therapist with Addiction Services Council and Tonya works with First Step Home.

“I love working with women,” Sherry said of her job and why she boarded the bus. “I work with men too, but my passion is serving women. They have so many needs and so much going on with them. They feel defeated, don’t have anyone left or any sense of hope. I want them to know they are not alone.”

Sherry has worked at Addiction Services Council for six years and has more than 20 years in the recovery field.

Tonya, a mother of three, has a business degree, but ended up working in recovery after she saw a need at her kids’ school.

“Seventy-percent of the children in our district were on the free or reduced lunch program,” she said. “So many needed so much, they had no shoes, no jacket, the basics. That’s hard to see and I wanted to do something about it, more than just meet the needs, but get to the root of the problem. I learned that most come parents were hooked on either meth or heroin.”

She stared working at First Step in March and is “now part of the solution.”

On the bus

It was a busy Friday on the bus. Several women were met with hugs and prayed over. One, received assistance to get into treatment. Another, Sherry and Tonya saw drift into the despair of addiction.

Sara (name changed) boarded the bus with a hard heart and was physically overwhelmed by lack of sleep. She also had been drinking.

“It’s not easy to see,” Tonya said.

Still, they opened their eyes and their hearts. Both Tonya and Sherry spoke kindly to Sara, doing their best convince her to get the help she so needs and deserves. Sara was adamant. She wasn’t ready.

They sat with her for 20 minutes, offering comfort and friendship, until Sara once again left for the streets.

Reflections

“This was so eye opening,” Sherry said. “You really see what they’re going through. You have to also meet these women where they are, recovery takes a while. It’s all about baby steps. Any movement forward is a celebration and sometimes you have to start again. It’s a process.”

Tonya said that addiction is a vicious cycle.

“It’s not just about detox and getting clean and getting a job,” she said. “These women have to be taught how to do life.”

And so that is the mission for Sherry and Tonya. It’s the mission of the bus and it all starts with a hug and a prayer – knowing someone cares about you even when you can’t care for yourself.

 

To join Lord’s Gym Ministries in the mission to transform lives for the Lord, visit, http://bit.ly/LGMvolunteering

Watch the Community Awareness Event NOW

Experience how the hope of the Gospel doesn't disappoint...

Scott here.
In case you missed our Lord’s Gym Ministries Community Awareness LIVE Virtual event, here is a link for you to watch it at a more convenient time: www.LordsGymMinistries.org.
Also, while we mention that viewers can invest via the donate button in the upper right corner of www.LordsGymMinistries.org, and TEXT “Register” to 513-540-4005, viewers can still mail in a personal check made payable to:
FOCAS
PO Box 5099
Cincinnati, OH 45205
Thank you for viewing and sharing it with your friends, family, and church. Consider sending me an email or text (513-300-0285) to let me know what you think of our 30 minute presentation of the impact God is having through the ministry – especially in light of Covid-19. Stand firm.

A life saved

A Message from Chaplain James in Covington...

One of the outreach workers at the Welcome House found Wayne on the streets a couple weeks ago.  He was fresh out of jail, and someone had stolen his bag that had his greyhound ticket to get back to Louisville in it. Not knowing where else to turn, they dropped him off at the gym.

We were able to love on him, get him some clothes, food, and begin to minister to our new brother.  One of our volunteers from our local church even agreed to drive him back to his family in Louisville so he could briefly reconnect and get some important documents for him to begin working. That same volunteer (Joe) brought him back to Covington and even took him to the DMV to get his ID the following week.  

Wayne then began attending Bible studies and decided to fully surrender his life to Christ. We were blessed to be able to baptize him!  

Finally, he is starting his new job through the JobCenter and has been supplied with boots and bus passes to get him started.  We will likely be able to facilitate him entering the sober living house across the street from the gym, as well as pick him up for church weekly.  

God is good!

Look what you can WIN

YRA Adult Prizes...

Did you know that there are prizes for both youth and adults who cover the farthest distance in the categories of walking, running and biking during October’s Youth Resiliency Adventure?

 

Here’s a peek at what adults (over age 18) have a chance to win.

  • The adult who walks the greatest distance wins a pair of JBL Harmon Bluetooth Earbuds.
  • The adult who runs the greatest distance wins a Garmin Vivio Smart HR.
  • The adult who bikes the greatest distance wins a Fuji Candy Apple Red Finest Bike.

Join the Youth Resiliency Adventure; and, make moves to make a difference during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month! Visit www.YRAdventure.com to register now.

The Youth Resiliency Adventure month-long virtual athletic event for youth and adults to either Walk, Run, or Bike a personal distance goal during the month of October. 

The Youth Resiliency Adventure, promoted on social media with the hashtag, #YRAdventure2nAddiction, was created to raise funds to prevent youth addiction, increase awareness of youth addiction, and encourage healthy physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Youth Resiliency Adventure offers prizes

Prizes for youth...

Did you know that there are prizes for both youth and adults who cover the farthest distance in the categories of walking, running and biking during October’s Youth Resiliency Adventure?

Here’s a peek at what youth (age 18 and under) have a chance to win.

  • The youth who raises the most funds will receive a $1000 savings bond.In the event of a tie, the winner will be determined by who went the greatest distance.
  • The youth who walks the greatest distance wins a pair of urbeats3.
  • The youth that runs the greatest distance wins aFitBit Versa Lite Edition.
  • The youth who bikes the greatest distance wins a Fuji Red Ace 650 Bike.

Join the Youth Resiliency Adventure; and, make moves to make a difference during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month! Visit www.YRAdventure.com to register now.

The Youth Resiliency Adventure month-long virtual athletic event for youth and adults to either Walk, Run, or Bike a personal distance goal during the month of October. 

The Youth Resiliency Adventure, promoted on social media with the hashtag, #YRAdventure2nAddiction, was created to raise funds to prevent youth addiction, increase awareness of youth addiction, and encourage healthy physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Reflections: This Year’s Bike Rides With Youth

From Scott Bowers...

Our scheduled summer youth activities have ended as our youth head back to school in the era of Covid. One of the hallmark activities of our summer was our biking; mixed with field trips and camping. You played a vital role! Thank YOU.

 Many people helped us financially in buying equipment, purchase a van, and go camping and on field trips. Many showed hospitality  to our youth; and, it did not go un-noticed. I am grateful for the extra-effort you made in welcoming us and making our stay unforgettable. Both the youth and adults commented not realizing just how expansive the Underground Railroad in Ohio, especially Southwest Ohio, was.

Personally, I am now a fan of the Reverend John Rankin and Mr. John Parker from Ripley, Ohio. Reading the book, “Beyond the River”, really made the area and the exploration of the area that much more meaningful. Springboro was amazing too.

Our youth celebrated the many trips they made. For many, it was their first time camping, riding a more sophisticated bike, carrying their camping gear on their bikes, and learning how to ride as a group. I think if you asked them the one word that they had to remember while riding as a group it would be “Predictable”.

For safety purposes, they had to be predictable! That meant they had to ride with intentionality and to use the proper signals – especially when passing people on the trail. “On your left”, became the common phrase on the trail. It did not come without our share of bumps and bruises.

Most important, was the time we had together just hanging out with the kids, and creating a safe place allowing them to be kids – away from the violence of their neighborhood. Most of them commented on the beauty of the Loveland Bike Trail and surrounding area that many saw for the first time.

While roasting s’mores, we had a theological discussion. While swimming, we heard that some in our group did not want to go on living.  While eating ice cream, our 10-14 age group informed us they learned about sex via Porn-Hub. Not only did they learn it; some claimed they put it into practice.

The discussions flowed as if they were talking about the weather. In retrospect, I am grateful for the candor of the discussions that occurred while riding bikes and camping. Our youth trust us enough to confide in and let us into their world. We are permitted to respond with equal candor in challenging their assumptions, experiences, and worldviews with biblically based insights and probing questions. In short, serving our youth can be complicated.

Over the summer, our devotionals followed three main points layered in scriptures. The points were taken from FOCAS’ culture of expected behavior and what that behavior looks like. In short, we targeted the following three ideas:

 1 – E (Event) + R (Response) = O (Outcome or objective)

 2 – Discipline over Default

 3 – Do the work!

Many of our rides and camping trips involved the rain. (Rain or shine, we pressed on.) Our event, or circumstances, was the rain, with the destination as our objective or outcome. The only thing we, or the youth, could control was our individual response. We used the rain and biking to teach our youth how to manage their response(s). The Proverbs speak to the richness concerning the virtues of discipline, self-control, and work. These topics were introduced into a sub-culture that defaults to taking the easy way out, entitlements, and low expectations. Using God’s word, we challenged each other to identify how we approach tasks and our responses to the planned and unplanned “events” in our life. 

Lastly, our thinking must translate to action that makes a difference. The work can be hard. It can take a long time. However, we must do the work if we want to realize our intended outcome or objective. Otherwise, we fall into doing it the way we have always done it; or we fall back into a default mode of behaving.

These simple truths, wrapped with scripture and life examples, challenged the thinking of our youth. You made these activities and assets available to create an environment for change. God can use these activities and the relationships formed,  to impact individuals, families, generations, and neighborhoods for His Glory!

As our summer comes to an end please know that you helped to make it a more meaningful one with your actions, kindness, and generosity. Museums, historical societies, docents, campgrounds, and many people fearlessly accommodated our youth in the midst of a pandemic. Everyone’s collective generosity helped to contribute to a very active and safe summer. In all, about 30 different youth rode with us.

Does it make a difference? The first week of August, one of the mothers mentioned to Brandon Welch, our Street Outreach Chaplain that they are not a religious family. She said they don’t go to church or talk about spiritual things. Her son, one of our most consistent riders, asked her for a Bible.  I asked the kids what are some of the lessons they learned from riding and hanging out at the Lord’s Gym this summer? Not all jumped at the answer.

However, there was one young man, 14 years old, who stepped up. We had just finished talking about Joseph who was sold into slavery at the age of 17 – a teenager, by his brothers. While his life situations (Events) seemed unfair and demoralizing, he never lost faith in God or discontinued obeying God. He even found the strength to flee from Potipher’s wife who tried to seduce him. At the end of his life he showed how he always chose the right responses to his most difficult situations. He showed discipline and did not take the easy way out. He concluded that God worked things out for good!

One 14-year-old was paying attention. He said he learned two things this summer. 1. We choose how we are going to respond to situations.  2. We can choose the easy way or doing things like we have always done; or, we have to have discipline to do the right thing even if it is hard. I sat there and just smiled.

We went riding, and finished out our last scheduled ride of the summer with a stop at the creamy whip. Upon calculating the mileage, young Cortez, at age 10, did not miss one ride when we began the first week in May. Four months later he would ride 209 miles, more than any of the other youth. He told me he wants to ride more! Thank you for making the summer a meaningful one for our youth.

Stand firm.

Scott Bowers

Executive Director

 PS – Please mark your calendar for Wednesday, September 30th, at 7:30 am for our Virtual Lord’s Gym Community Awareness Event. Also, check out our virtual athletic event the Youth Resiliency Adventure at YRAdventure.com. I am asking for you to share this information with your friends, family, church, and work to help us get the word out.

How to Live as Disciples of Jesus Part 3

Part 3...

The last two weeks we have looked at the first parts of Micha 6:8b; how to do what is right and to love mercy. This Old Testament Scripture sums up well how we’re supposed to live as disciples of Christ. Again, the verse reads: “…this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

This week we’re going to take a look into what it means “walk humbly with your God.”

Walk Humbly

We have the perfect example in Jesus as someone Who walked humbly. Mark 10:45 says that “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”

According to Webster’s Dictionary, humble, means “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.” So, to be humble, we must be rid of self. And we have the perfect example in Jesus. He walked humbly every where He went, always looking for a way He could help others.

So, what are somethings we need to do to put our walk in ordrer?

First, we should ask the Lord for a humble heart.

Next, we need to humble our minds. Romans 12:3 says: “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by faith God has given us.”

Jesus told His disciples in Mark chapter 9, that they must take last place and be the servant. That’s hard to do if you think so much of yourself. Remember your place. It is God Who created you. It is God Who saved you. And, it is God Who called you to your purpose – to be like Jesus – to be servant.

And for the final step, we need to get serving. We are to humble our hands. James 3:13 says: “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.”

Full Circle

Walking humbly with God is the basis for loving mercy and doing what is right.

To walk with the Lord means to go along side Him, to have relationship with Him. Cultivating our relationship with God gives us the power and passion to live a life with an abundance of good and an abundance of love. Our relationship with God is the foothold of our servanthood.

To join Lord’s Gym Ministries in the mission to transform lives for the Lord, visit, http://bit.ly/LGMvolunteering

How to Live as Disciples of Jesus Part 1

Part 2...

Last week we looked at the first part of Micha 6:8b; how to do what is right. This Old Testament Scripture sums up well how we’re supposed to live as disciples of Christ. Again, the verse reads: “…this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

This week we’re going to take a look into what it means “to love mercy.”

What is Mercy

According to Webster’s Dictionary, mercy means “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power.”

Mercy is not easy, as it requires sacrifice on our parts. When we show mercy, we have acted in compassion instead of vengeance.

God’s kindness

In Hebrew, the phrase “love mercy” is “hesed,” which can be used to refer to God’s loving kindness to us. Romans 5:8 says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The Holy God gave the ultimate sacrifice – His one and only Son to bestow mercy on us, fallen sinners.

As disciples, the Lord expects us to demonstrate mercy. In Matthew 18:21-22, He makes this clear to Peter.

Peter asked: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?””

“I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven,” Jesus replied.

Showing mercy

Jean Valjean is a character in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” who spent 19 years doing hard labor for a stealing bread. Released from his bond, a criminal, Valjean isn’t welcome anywhere, but a local church.

At the church Valjean is welcome by Bishop Myriel with the kind gesture and words: “Though our lives are very humble, what we have we have to share.” A concept, I’m sure was difficult for someone who was punished so severely for stealing food.

Later, Valjean sneaks off in the night with the church’s silverware and is caught by the police the next day. When asked about the silver, he tells the police that they were given to him. So, they take Valjean back to the church to corroborate his story.

The bishop, who showed Valjean such charity had been repaid with a hurtful betrayal – the theft of the church’s few extravagant possessions. The bishop has every right to refute the lie. Instead, the bishop grabs the church’s silver candlesticks and gives them to Valjean too. He tells the police that, yes, he gave Valjean the silver, but he had forgotten the candlesticks.

Once the police leave, the bishop tells Valjean: “…my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!”

The bishop looked beyond the outside and saw the heart of Valjean – He was a poor and abused man who knew no other way of life; much like us. The bishop’s compassion toward this lost man is much like the mercy the Lord shows us each and every day. Pass it on.

To join Lord’s Gym Ministries in the mission to transform lives for the Lord, visit, http://bit.ly/LGMvolunteering

How to Live as a Disciple of Jesus

Part 1...

Micah 6:8b completely explains how we are supposed to live as Christ’s followers on this earth. The verse reads: “…this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

For the next three weeks we’re going to take a look into what each of these charges mean.

This week, we’re going to look at what it means “to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King once said: “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?”

Knowing What is Right

So how do we do what is right? We look to Jesus as an example.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:13, the Apostle Paul says to “never tire of doing what is right.” Jesus never went for the easy or popular solution, instead He always did the right thing and lead the right way. There are countless examples of this in the New Testament, including the woman at the well and His dealings with religious leaders.

Purge the wrong

In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you/ for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than the whole body be cast into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Hell.”

Doing what is right also means getting rid of that which is not right in our lives. This means attitude, language, and actions. Also, it means what we are consuming or feeding our minds and spirit.

Put Youth Addiction Prevention Into Motion

You're invited:

Put Youth Addiction Prevention Into Motion

We are inviting you to join FOCAS’ Youth Resiliency Adventure pre-event, #20for20n20 to make a difference in youth addiction.

What is #20for20n20? It is a virtual athletic event to walk, run or bike 20 miles for $20 in 2020. It can be done anywhere at your convenience.

Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Register to walk, run, or bike 20 miles at https://bit.ly/20for20n20. Pay the $20 registration fee to help us reach our goal of $75,000!
  2. Check your inbox for a Welcome email from Get Me Registered. This email will confirm your successful registration. We’ll also continue sending updates about this event, a free registration code for our big #YRAdventure2NAddictionevent in October. You’ll begin receiving information about how addiction impacts America’s youth straight to your inbox.
  3. Next, invite or challenge your friends, family, and peers to get involved too! The more, the merrier!

Youth addiction is prevalent in our community and has a costly effect on the lives it touches. It often attacks generation after generation. It’s a cycle that’s tough to break, but it can be broken. And we’re going to break it!

Now that you’re registered, you are on an adventure that will keep you active and support the prevention of youth addiction in our communities. You have from now until Sept. 30 to cover your distance.

Once you’ve completed your 20 miles, take a selfie, or have a friend snap a photo of you with our sign that says, “I DID MY 20” Use the filter on social media sites where available. Post that photo on all your social media page with the hashtag #20for20n20. We’ll be checking the hashtag to share photos of participants who completed the challenge!

For registering, we will mail you a Youth Resiliency Adventure #20for20n20 magnet. Make sure you sign up for the main event Youth Resiliency Adventure in October. Promote it with the #YRAdventure2nAddiction

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