Category Archives: Health

Coaching the Body – Russ Hutto Interview

Mathew Reames: Russ, thanks for taking time out of you busy schedule to share your heart with us. For those who don’t know Russ is a musician, graphic designer, fitness guru, and most recently a proud papa. Russ, seeing as you are a graphic artist, lets start by discussing that. You work with secular corporations as well as churches and Christians. Is there a difference in dealing with Christians and dealing with non-christians?

Russ Hutto: Thanks, Mat. I’m definitely in an exciting season of life with my firstborn son, Liam, joining our life and world this past June! That along with being a trainer at a new growing gym AND doing full-time graphic design work keeps me busy! I actually work with several firms who publish hometown living type magazines. They are all very family-oriented. That being said, I really try and work “as unto the Lord” regardless of who my employer or client is. All of my clients know that I spend a great deal of time working with the Church and from the get-go I’ve established that community as being very important to me. My goal with that is two-fold:

  1. they know and understand when I’m available and when I’m not.
  2. they understand that it’s a big part of my life!

MR: Interesting, when it comes to graphic design and digital media, what advice would you give to Christians, churches, and ministries seeking to move into the digital age?

RH: First, I’d say that looking at media, design, music, and I guess anything that would fall under the “arts” category as another mode of worship is very important. I know that some folks might not categorize tech and design like that, but I think it’s important that everyone in leadership recognizes that the visual and audio arts can be just as important a part of the offering of worship at any given gathering. Secondly, I’d say not to get caught up in “keeping up with the Jones.” Having the latest and greatest doesn’t make you a better church. Having MTV-like tech production doesn’t make you a better community. Creating an environment where people are valued and can connect with one another as they journey together in faith and worship is what it’s all about. If the media and design doesn’t support that in some way, it’s wasteful. It’s all about the Kingdom!

MR: You are more than just a graphic designer, of course you come from a family of musicians and are quite a skilled worship leader. Is there a connection between the two? What I mean is, how does your work in one area affect your work in another?

RH: I love helping create an environment with music where people can join their voices together in worship and at the same time learn and grow in their understanding of the character of our God. I especially enjoy working with folks on the fringes. By that I mean younger, less talented musicians, or even adult musicians who aren’t quite as experienced. My official “role” at St. Simons Community Church is High School music mentor/coach. I get to coach and mentor high school students in their gifts. It’s amazing! Along with that, I volunteer at the local college campus ministry as well doing basically the same thing – mentoring and coaching worship leaders. Of course, I love when I get to lead, but honestly, I get more joy when I’m in the back of a room watching or on a djembe or guitar while one of our students is leading their peers. That is a great experience as well!

MR: What do you think is the best advice you could offer to people who are creative and want to expand their creativity?

RH: Find something you love that stimulates your creative mind and do it. It could be something literally in the same field, or it could be something totally different. For me it’s fitness.

MR: Ok, let’s talk fitness. I know it’s a bit of a left turn, but why not? You are active in your local Crossfit, and are continually training. What sparked this, have you always been into fitness, or is it a recent change?

RH: It’s actually not that much of a left turn, because my “creative” mind is sharpened when my “physical” mind is challenged. The way that I do that is through physically challenging workouts at CrossFit Brunswick. I got started with CF a little over 2 years ago. I’ve never been into fitness or sports up until a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, as a young person I was very active and enjoyed backyard sports and pick up games, but I never really participated in organized sports. I was more of a musician growing up!

MR: Is there a spiritual side to your working out as well? Or is it simply for physical health?

RH: In a sense, one of the reasons my mentoring and coaching just really lit up over the last 2 years is because of CrossFit. Believe it or nor, our philosophy and model of operation at CF is very similar to the way Jesus operated. We are passionate about our fitness philosophy (along with nutrition) and our folks see us engaged in it and living it out, and so they are, too. We talk a big talk AND we walk a big walk. We also provide a DAILY opportunity for folks to walk it out as well. At out local gym we don’t do any traditional media marketing or advertising. It’s all word of mouth. When people are outside of the gym and talk about how great they feel and how hard they’re working inside the gym, “outsiders” notice and want what they’ve got (or think they’re lunatics!). Anyways, when I got certified almost 2 years ago and began to experience and coach people in fitness and nutrition, my spiritual “coach” was awakened. I had a renewed desire to help folks in their musical gifts and to challenge them to grow in their understanding of God and His Word.

MR: Ok, one more left turn, let’s talk Bible. What have you been studying, learning, and hearing from God lately?

RH: I’ve been living in John 5 the last month or so. It’s a passage my homegrown has been studying over this time. I’ve been so inspired and at times amazed at how Jesus is simply revealing who He is and who the Father is in this passage. On the surface it seems like He’s scolding the religious folks who are trying to entrap Him, but if you read it several times (and intentionally more slowly) you’ll see Jesus really just explaining in great detail who He is and how He’s equal with the Father and how they’re missing it. It’s a pretty exciting passage!

MR: Ok, one final question. Are there any resources you would recommend that people check out? Books, Music, Video, Webites, Podcasts, etc..?

RH: I’m the editor of The Worship Community so I’m really proud of that community. With our member-driven content, reviews, and active forums section, it’s a great resource for Worship Leaders and ministry team members who are working in the trenches week in and week out. If you’re interested in some intense fitness with some great coaching check out your local CrossFit. If there is not one near, then find somewhere you can do something that you really enjoy, and try and find a community to join with that activity at its core.  Also, The Echo Life is a great new website that really merges the idea of walking out your faith and taking care of your body.

MR: Thank you so much for your insight. I love how you are building up the whole body, physical and spiritual. I am reminded of 1st Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I appreciate you taking the time to teach, or should I say coach us. For those who want to know more about Russ follow him on twitter @russhutto and check out his website RussHutto.com

Becoming a Fruit Tree Part 2 : JOY

I love the fruit of the spirit, and am really enjoying this study. Its always good to grow in the simple things. As the simple things come together, they can form a cool new shape that is impressive. The first fruit we studied was Love and now we are moving on to Joy. J-O-Y!!!!! In my head when I hear the word Joy, I hear Wes Hall from IHOP-KC. He says it a lot, and his accent is pleasing to the ears.

Nehemiah 8:10 “…For the joy of The Lord is your strength.”

– Joy is your strength, its a mighty weapon in your hands. Because of this, I thought it would be good to look up the definition of Joy. Here are some of the definitions. This is not the exhaustive list, but the ones that I felt God highlighting to me.

Strength (n):

  • Bodily Power
  • Mental Power
  • Moral or Spiritual Power
  • Influence
  • Ability to Resist

I love these definitions. Strength is your Physical, Mental and Spiritual Power. It is also your ability to influence and resist. These are such valuable things. Lets start by looking at the physical, mental, and spiritual power aspect to Joy.

Proverbs 17:22 “A Joyful heart is like a good medicine.”

Solomon, who was the worlds wisest man, save for Jesus Himself, penned this little scripture here. When God taught the way of wisdom to Solomon, he taught him this. A Joyful heart is like a good medicine. In modern times we hear it more often said “Laughter is the best medicine.” Science has actually proven this to be true. In my high school psychology class I remember reading about a psychologist who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He figured if nothing else he should die happy, and he rented a bunch of comedy movies and just watched them for days, laughing till it hurt (so to speak.) But then something miraculous happened, the Joy that he had placed in his heart started to fight back against the cancer. The man literally beat cancer by laughing.

Joy is strength for your body, it helps you to keep healthy. But it is also your spiritual power as well, think about it, read the stories of the early church, you see a picture of Joy, and those people revolutionized the world.

Now I want to look at the influential side of Joy. This is not even simply a biblical principal, in saying that I mean you do not need a doctorate in theology to understand that Joyful people have more friends. People want to be around people who lift their spirits. You want to spend your time with happy people, people who make you smile. In fact in most dating surveys you will find that the number one thing people look for in a mate is someone who makes them happy or someone who makes them laugh. Joy is influential and it is contagious.

Acts 13:52 “…The Disciples were filled with Joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13 “…May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace…”

I love these two verses because they show you something, God gives people joy. He doesn’t want you to be depressed of melancholy. So what ways can we get his Joy? Well, asking him to give you his Joy is a good start, but there is one surefire way I guarantee you will see an increase in joy in your life.

Psalm 16:11 “…In Your Presence there is fullness of Joy.”

If you are lacking joy in your life, I would suggest you get in his presence. You can do this through prayer, worship, fasting among other things, but the key is to get there. For me, Worship is the quickest way into his presence. I begin to worship, or soak with worship, and suddenly I begin to feel his presence envelop me like a cloak or a blanket.

Another key to maintaining your Joy is your words. What you say has a big impact on your joy.

Proverbs 15:23 “A man has Joy in the words of his mouth…”

Once again, Solomon who was a fount of wisdom has more to speak on the topic of Joy. He gives us clear instructions that our words will determine our joy. If you lack joy, begin to declare the Good things.  As you do, your joy will increase.

Proverbs 12:20 “Deceit is in the heart of those who desire evil, but counselors of Peace have Joy.”

Solomon, who was indeed a champ when it comes to wisdom tells us here about how Joy is our power to resist. We are to be counselors of peace. Ones who take the volatile and bring peace. He describes those types of people as once who have Joy. Joy will give us the ability to stand in the midst of temptation and sin and not succumb to it, and furthermore it will be our strength to change it. I think this is just plain awesome.

The las thing I want to talk about is the power of Joy in response to weeping.

Ezra 3:12-13 “Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.”

The older men remembered Solomon’s temple. As I have mentioned before, Solomon was a champ, and his temple was evidence. It should be regarded among the wonders of the world. However the Second temple was decent at best and by no means as cool as the original. However, the younger generation had not seen the first temple. So while the older men wept because they knew it wasn’t as good as before, the young men praised and Joy filled their hearts because this was the temple, finally they had the place for the worship of God once more.

The sound of the shouts of Joy were so loud that they just plain drowned out the weeping. Joy trumped weeping. More examples of this can be found in the Bible.

Isaiah 61:3 “…The Oil of Joy for Mourning.”

Psalms 126:5 :They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

God will take our mourning, weeping, heaviness, sorrow, and in its place he will give us joy.

I thank you for taking the time to read and study with me. Part 3, Peace will be up soon. As always, comments, questions and discussions are always welcome. Blessings.

Gnosticism, Shame, and the Human Body

So lately God has had me on a path to better myself. He has had me strengthening my Spirit, Soul, and Body. I have been good about watching out for my Spirit, and feeding it properly and fostering its growth. However not always as good on the other two. The last three years, God has helped me to tighten the reigns on what I set before myself in terms of entertainment. I don’t watch as much television, and lately not much in the way of movies either. But it has only been in the last 9 months that I have realized that I need to get the body in alignment.

I am fairly ready to admit, I am a big ol’ fat kid. Not as fat as I used to be, which is by the grace of God wooing me towards better health, but still not where I ought to be. I am now working at a gym, which means I am at the gym regularly. I am building an exercise routine that will help me cut the fat and build the muscle. But to be honest, this is not the reason I am writing this blog today.

I am writing this, because I had 2 mindset problems to overcome. I think many in the body of Christ have yet to overcome them as well. The first was shame. I am going to discuss my shame for a minute before I get to the second one.

My shame came from the way I looked. Society, Friends, Classmates, and yes even family have cut me down and treated me poorly because of my weight. The more and more I got told how awful I was, the more I began to agree with it.  I began to come into agreement with those who told me I was a horrid fat kid. This was a lie from the enemy. I came into agreement with what Satan wanted me to believe. I would look at myself in the mirror and I would think negative thoughts, and on occasion I would verbalize them. The more I though and spoke negative of myself, the more the shame spiraled. However, my shame did not manifest itself through meekness or shyness. Instead I became a grade A top choice Ass. I was quick with the wit, and always ready to cut people down. I could make people cry with just a few words out of my mouth.

Now I didn’t cut down everyone, I justified it and said I was only getting back at those who got me. To be honest, it reminds me of this clip from the movie Madea Goes to Jail. (I just spent three minutes watching that clip and laughing while I meant to be writing this blog. It did feel good to laugh though) Eventually, God prevailed in his goodness. He wooed me out of my shame and taught me to break the agreements I had made with the lies. I began to realize that I am beautiful to him. One of my favourite musicians over at The International house of Prayer said it this way through his facebook status last night. “I am finding out more every night that God finds me beautiful beyond description.” Song of Solomon uses the phrase “I’m dark yet lovely”

God does not find shame in us. He doesn’t hate us cause of how we look, and this is not limited to weight. It could be short or tall, nose size and shape, your ears, odd birthmarks or other things that aren’t considered conventional. God finds us beautiful because he is a passionate lover and looks past the physical.

Now here is the side that seems almost contradictory to me. My second area of poor mindsets on this was that I held a Gnostic mindset to my body as well. See John Crowder has a great brief history of Gnosticism in his book, ‘The New Mystics.’ The Gnostic mindset basically holds the believe that nature and all matter is inherently fallen, and thus of no value. The only thing that is valuable is the Spiritual things. This mindset leads to two very different looking outcomes but both equally wrong. The first was an extreme from of asceticism. Wherein the Christian fasts and prays and abstains from things in and of the world, often to the point of hermit-ism and seclusion. This is not a Godly thing to be doing.Fasting and prayer, and separation from the world are good ideals, but not when taken to the extreme that it causes you to fail at the Great commission and Second Commandment. But this is not the mindset struggle I had.

The second outcome is a wild hedonism. Because the natural body is of no value, those who have been saved can wildly indulge in all forms of physical sin. This is where I failed. I am not saying I was going around trolling for girls and looking for sex. However, I was engaging in gluttony. I was eating to excess and killing my body slowly.

Allen Hood over at IHOP-KC is famous for his saying “God LOVES human Bodies” The problem is that God loved my body more than I did.  God wants me to live healthy and pure. I did not. When I went to Israel I was astonished at how beautiful the people there are. I mean they are really, really, good looking. Why? because the Jews follow the Torah laws, which actually promote good health. Eating Kosher seems like a bad Idea to me, because I like cheeseburgers, and sprinkle cheese on my spaghetti. But I couldn’t deny that the guys and dolls over in God’s homeland looked amazing, and I did not.

In fact, its not just Israel. Most of the developed world encourages good health. I have noticed that the American Stereotype across the world is that we are all fat boobs. This is not good. I look at many in the body of Christ and I see people like me. Some are bigger, some are smaller, but a lot of the body is not in good shape.

My good friend Joe Gabbard often likes to say he looks like Jason Statham. While we tease that this is only because he is a bald white guy. There is some truth to his comment. Joe is not the athletic body type, and is not ripped like Jason, but he is trim. He has a good height to weight ratio. I do not have that same ratio, and while I do not intend to become like Hulk Hogan or my Power-lifter/Missionary Friend Bubba, God has been teaching me to love my body more, and be good to it. I am learning to watch the things I put into my mouth, and how many things I put into my mouth. I am getting steady with exercising.

GOD LOVES HUMAN BODIES, ESPECIALLY YOURS. Do you love your body as much as he does? or do you just shrug it off and say ‘God Loves me Just the way I am’ This single statement has been one of the most crippling statements in Christianity. God loves you 100% all the time, his love never changed, never fails, never weakens, and never leaves. However, God is always changing us.  That’s why he teaches us not to sin, and helps us become holy like he is holy.

I hope you have gotten something out of this blog. Just in the process of writing It, I have felt my spirit strengthened and God has encouraged me to let me know I can do it.

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End note :: Bruce, who owns my gym showed me a video of his younger days as a body builder. He looked insane, he had muscles on top of his muscles, and then more muscles. But he shared this gem with me. “When this was who I was, the mirror was just as big an enemy to me as it is to everyone else. It wasn’t shame I saw in my mirror, but pride. I have given up bodybuilding, because I know I could easily fall back into the pride of my own strength and looks, and thats not leaning on God.”

I share this to remind myself and others that one extreme is just as bad as the other, be healthy, but don’t give up God to do it.