Posted: September 29th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: empty nest, family, marriage, parenting | No Comments »
Robyn and I began Season 1 of our life together on June 8, 1985 in Hammond, Louisiana.
Because I was right out of college, we soon moved in with my parents while raising the funds needed to fund our ministry to college students back at Cornell where we’d met. I’m grateful my parents allowed us to stay with them, but it’s just not an ideal way to start off your married life together. The added wrinkle was discovering in December that Robyn was pregnant.
I remember thinking, “Oh Lord, surely we won’t be living here when the baby is born.”
Season 2 began the day we moved back to Ithaca, New York just before our first wedding anniversary. Our fund raising was complete! (Well, as complete as it can ever be when you’re in ministry.) We were on our own! For all of three months. During the last trimester of Robyn’s pregnancy. I have wonderful memories of that season. It was just a short one!
Season 3 began in the early morning of September 4, 1986, the day Rachel was born.
A couple years later, we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas where three more kids were born.
And seven years ago, we made the move to Fayetteville, the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks. By that time, Rachel was already married to Richard. He serves in the Marine Corps.
And a few years after the move to Fayetteville, we had another wedding. Erica married Ross, who serves in the Army.
As season 3 began to wind down this year, we sent Rob off to the Navy.
We welcomed our first grandchild, Wes.
And grandchild #2, Tyler.
That brings us to today, the official end of season 3 (29 years and 25 days), when we put Amy on a plane to move to Germany where she’ll be doing ministry on an Army base in southwest Germany for the next few years.
And now, Robyn and I are “empty nest.” It’s a sad, joyful, hopeful, exciting, ready-for-whatever-God-has-next-for-us kind of day. It’s the start of Season 4!
Whichever season you find yourself in, live into it fully! Soak up every moment. Work or ministry, hobbies and nice things have their place, but as I reflect back on the first three seasons of life with Robyn…I don’t care about any of that. What I’ve accomplished at work or how many square feet our house is or how much money we have in the bank (not much!) aren’t what matter to me.
How about you?
Posted: September 22nd, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believe God, prayer, trials, waiting | No Comments »
Have you noticed the medical test results or the hiring decision always seem to come next week?
Have you ever waited for something important to come in the mail, but it doesn’t come on Friday? You hope it’ll come on Saturday, but it doesn’t and…now you have to wait another 48-hours until Monday.
A few years ago, I’d gone out to dinner (Joe’s Crab Shack in Branson, MO!) with my wife and son. On our way back to where we were staying, we came to a traffic light that had turned red. We waited for it to turn green. And waited. And waited. And waited. It’s not like this was a busy intersection. In fact, it wasn’t busy at all. There were almost no cars on the road that had the green light.
The waiting made no sense at all.
And yet, we, along with the car in front of us and the car in front of that car…continued to wait. And wait. It was the longest red light I’ve ever seen. And it was all made worse by the fact that the waiting seemed so pointless.
Finally, the first car in line just went through the red light. So did the next car. I would have also except when I got to the front of the line, the light finally turned green.
Waiting is hard. It’s especially hard when we can’t understand why we’re waiting.
Are you waiting for something?
Results of a medical test?
Your spouse to finally understand your needs?
To be reconciled with a child?
An answer to a prayer?
A financial breakthrough?
There’s nothing easy about waiting. In the Christian life, it’s probably the hardest things we’ll ever do. Because if we’re waiting, it means we probably don’t have what we need or want. We have a desire that’s unfulfilled. Or we’re in emotional or physical pain. It means we have to do battle to believe God, not what we see or feel.
I’ll be honest, one of my greatest weaknesses has been waiting well. When a need or desire goes unmet long enough, if I don’t guard my heart and mind, I can become angry and disappointed. Not just at life, but at God. That’s been a dark road for me more than once.
I’m in a season of waiting right now. Maybe you are too. If you’re not, I’ll bet you just came out of one or will soon enter one. That’s just the way life is.
So if much of life involves waiting, let’s look at how to do it well. Here are four suggestions…
- Choose to believe God, not your circumstances or feelings. If we focus on our circumstances, then it’s easy to become fearful, worried and anxious. It’s also easy to begin thinking God isn’t very good or faithful. We have to settle it once and for all that we will choose to believe God is good, loving and faithful…no matter what. I’ve found that if I view God through the lens of my circumstances, He doesn’t look kind or loving at all. He seems distant, unconcerned and uncaring. I’m still on a journey of viewing my circumstances through the lens of God’s eyes.
- Delight yourself in the Lord. That means choosing to make Him your priority, to find your pleasure and enjoyment in Him. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This isn’t a magic formula, but it is a way to get our desires met. As we delight in God, He can change our desires to match His desires for us…and then fulfill them.
- Know that God likes to be trusted. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” I found out what a big deal this is to God a number of years ago. You can read about it by clicking here.
- Use the power of your imagination to anticipate God’s blessings and favor. We can either focus on our current circumstances and/or on a worst possible outcome to our situation OR we can begin to anticipate the good God is bringing about for us. You don’t need to know how God is going to work on your behalf, only that He will. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to figure out how God will meet your need or fulfill your desire. You can’t possibly imagine all the ways God could bless you or answer your prayer or fulfill your desire. Let Him choose to surprise you if He wants to. Let Him be creative if He wants to be. Don’t project your limitations onto Him. He doesn’t have any.
My oldest daughter and her husband just celebrated their 9th wedding anniversary. They tried to get pregnant for about five years. Without success. After several years of trying, they began seeing various doctors and trying various procedures. Without success.
It was hard and disappointing for them. It was also hard and disappointing for this dad. I so badly wanted them to have a baby. My heart ached for them. And I had to fight hard to not let my negative thoughts run wild. It was a battle to not head down that dark road of anger and doubting God’s goodness.
We spent this past Christmas Eve at their house. When we arrived around dinner time, my daughter and son-in-law wasted no time in handing each of us an envelope. I have to say, I’m pretty perceptive. I usually have a good sense of what’s happening around me. I can read the vibes in a room. But not that night.
We all opened our envelopes at the same time. In it, was an ultra-sound image of our grandson. I was speechless. Maybe because of the lump in my throat.
Tyler was born on July 31st. This picture of me holding him was taken a few days ago.
I don’t know what you’re waiting for. God does though. And He knows when and how He’s going to answer your prayer, meet your need or fulfill your desire. In the meantime, choose to wait well…
Posted: September 13th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: family, Jesus, marriage | No Comments »
On the day before he died, I asked my dad if given the chance, what moment from his life he would live over. Without hesitation, he said, “The first time I kissed Sylvia.” Sylvia is my wonderful step-mom.
As my youngest daughter gets ready to move to Germany in a couple weeks and my other kids have already left home, I can’t help reflecting on the past 30+ years. So I was thinking about which moments from my life I’d live over again if given the chance.
I reserve the right to amend my list, but here are my top 14. It was going to be a top-10 list, but I kept adding to it. By the way, for those of you who are sticklers for details…if a moment is common to all of my children, then I only counted it as one moment. Hey, it’s my list, so I get to make the rules.
I’d love to see your top 10 (or 14) moments…or as many as you’d like to share. Leave a comment with your list. Here’s mine, in no particular order:
- The night I met my wife, Robyn, in August of 1984. Three months later, on the night we started dating, I knew we’d get married. It would be fun to relive our meeting and know that night she was going to be my wife.
- The meeting at Willard Straight Hall (the student union) at Cornell in which someone explained the gospel to me and I placed my faith in Jesus. My eternal destiny changed in that moment.
- Beating North Bergen High School, 12-0, in the first game of my senior year. I don’t think expectations were very high for us as a team, but we finished the year 7-1-1. I wouldn’t want to relive the game against Jackson, our only loss and the one that kept us out of the playoffs.
- The births of each of my children.
- A snow day. Either as a kid or when my kids were little. Nothing better than anticipating a snowstorm and then hearing that schools are closed.
- Any time my dad and I drove across Route 70 from Brick, New Jersey to Philadelphia to see the Phillies play. The trip usually included a stop at Olga’s Diner.
- Any late afternoon, summer day by the pool in my backyard or at the beach when I was a kid.
- A Saturday afternoon as a family at the Otter Creek pool in the late ’90′s.
- Playing stickball in the street with my friends before any of us were old enough to drive. We’d play for hours and usually only stopped when it was too dark to see.
- Road trips I’ve taken with each of my daughters.
- The night last fall when my son and I watched the Razorbacks beat LSU at Razorback Stadium. It was cold and windy, but we were bundled up and enjoyed watching a great game together.
- Almost any moment during the fall or holiday season when my kids were little: going to the State Fair or pumpkin patch, loading up the van and driving to Louisiana for Thanksgiving, cutting down our Christmas tree or watching their reactions on Christmas morning.
- Going to Disney World as an 11-year-old and staying at the Contemporary Resort. The monorail running through the lobby was magical to me. It’s what got me interested in the hospitality industry.
- A weekend get away at a mountain-top home Robyn and I took in October of 2013 OR our 25th anniversary stay at a B&B in Eureka Springs. Both were amazing! Sorry, no details.
What’s interesting to me is that none of these are about work or money. Of course, money is required to do some of those things, but money or material possessions aren’t the focal point. It’s about relationships.
What about you? What’s on your list? Share yours in the comments.
Posted: September 11th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: 9-11, family, marriage, Truth, war | No Comments »
As I write this, it’s 9:34 a.m. on Friday, September 11, 2015. Fourteen years ago at this time, both towers had already collapsed, Flight 77 had hit the Pentagon and Flight 93 had crashed in Pennsylvania.
I was in Loveland, Colorado for a meeting with a publisher. We soon learned air travel had been suspended, so there’d be no flying home that day. We made the decision to keep our rental car and drive home to Arkansas.
I was numb. I’d grown up sixty miles south of New York City. The World Trade Center buildings were a familiar landmark on the drive to my grandmother’s house. And now they were gone. As were almost three thousand people.
I realized we were now a country at war. My children would grow up “at war.” I just didn’t realize how profoundly that would effect my family.
My oldest daughter is married to a Marine. He’s been deployed multiple times and now serves as a recruiter. My second daughter is married to a soldier. He has also seen combat. My third daughter will move to Germany in three weeks to do ministry at an American Air Force Base. My son is in the Navy in a role I can’t speak about. To say I’m proud of my children and their spouses doesn’t come close.
I wish we weren’t at war though. I wish my children (and now grandchildren) were growing up in a time of peace. I wish they all lived in the same town with us. I wish…
Reality though is different.
We’re at war. As a country. And as followers of Jesus.
Your marriage and family are being played out on a battlefield. The enemy is unseen and the fight takes place in the spiritual realm, but it doesn’t make it any less real.
We have an enemy. He will seek to deceive you, discourage you, distract you and tempt you. He is the “father of lies.” His will is to “steal, kill and destroy.”
To avoid becoming casualties, we must be filled with God’s Spirit and armed with the truth.
Several years ago, I put together a 40-day devotional to help arm us with truth, so we don’t fall victim to the lies and temptations around us. If you’d like a copy of “I Believe God: a 40-day adventure”, then click here. The price is $1.99, but I have it set up so you can set your own price. If money is tight, then feel free to make it $0.00.
Posted: August 27th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: blessings, Difficulties, faith, Jesus, key | No Comments »
Is there anything more frustrating than getting ready to go somewhere, but not being able to find your keys? You search and search and search, but can’t find them. You know it’s bad when you look in places you’ve already looked or in places you know they can’t possibly be.
And have you ever looked at the keys on your key ring and wondered what some of them open…but you’re afraid to throw them away, because you know you’ll need one the next day?
Last fall, I participated in a wedding on a Saturday evening. After the ceremony was over, I realized if I headed home at that moment, I might possibly beat the traffic leaving the Arkansas-Alabama football game. The stadium is only two blocks from my house and the road would soon be shut down to traffic going toward my house.
I made it home just in time, but discovered the house was locked and I didn’t have a key. I had to wait outside for about thirty minutes until my son got home from the game with a key.
Keys. They’re great when you have the correct one and you know where it is. But it’s terribly frustrating when you need one to start your car or unlock a door and you can’t find it.
Does life ever feel that way to you? Like what you want is locked away and you don’t have the key? Maybe you feel that way about your marriage, parenting your children, work, your finances or your health.
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the nation of Israel is camped out on the eastern shore of the Jordan River. After forty years of living in the wilderness, they’re about to cross into the land God promised to Abraham hundreds of years earlier.
Deuteronomy is a series of messages Moses gives to Israel. Mostly, he’s reminding them of where they’ve come from, what they’ve experienced and how God has instructed them to live. Near the end of the book, we find these two verses in Chapter 30:
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Moses reveals that loving, obeying and committing yourself to God is the key to your life. The word “this” can also be read as “He.” Either way, the key to life is an intimate relationship with God. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Do you want to experience all God has for you? Do you want His blessings?
Love Him. Obey Him. Commit yourself to Him. It’s the key to life. It’s the key that unlocks His blessings.
Please though, don’t confuse God’s blessings with an absence of difficulties or painful circumstances. Nowhere does God promise a life of comfort if we follow Him. We still live in a broken world where we can count on suffering. What we have is the promise of His peace and presence no matter what we face.
You and I get to choose today between life and death, between blessings and curses.
Which will you choose?
If you choose life and blessings, the good news is that the key isn’t lost or hidden.
Posted: August 21st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: divorce, marriage | No Comments »
Robyn and I once owned a home that had cracks in some of the walls. Maybe you’ve got some in your home too. Of course, the problem isn’t the wall; it’s the foundation.
We don’t usually think about the foundation when looking at a home. We’re more interested in the layout, the size of the bedrooms and the number of bathrooms.
We only think about the foundation when we see signs of a bad one, like cracks in the walls, doors that don’t close quite right and windows that stick.
Marriage is a lot like that. We don’t give a whole lot of thought to the foundation until we begin seeing cracks in the walls.
If someone was to walk into your marriage and take a look around today…what would they see? Would any cracks be visible?
Unmet needs? Lack of appreciation? Little or no affection? Infrequent or non-existent sex? The “D-word” (divorce) being tossed around?
Fixing the cracks isn’t the answer. We have to go deeper. To the foundation.
Repairing the foundation is the solution.
I’ve put together a short book to help identify some (not all) of the symptoms of a bad marital foundation. Then we look at the very practical steps we can take to begin building on solid ground.
If you’d like a free copy, you can get it by clicking here.
Posted: July 15th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: business, marriage, Mastermind, money | No Comments »
I think I have a lot of those. What about you?
Do you have an idea for a new business? Or a ministry? Or some other non-profit type idea?
Maybe it’s something you’ve dreamed of for a long time. And the more you pray, the stronger the feeling gets that you need to do something about it.
Does your idea sound crazy though? At least a little? Do you your family and friends give you funny looks or say things like, “You’re not really going to quit your job, are you?”
Maybe that crazy idea is what God has put in your heart to help change the world. To advance His kingdom. To meet real needs in your community.
But what do you do next? How do you get started? What are the obstacles to look out for? What do you need most?
My friend, Jeff Caliguire, and I will be hosting a live training called, “When Others Think You’re Crazy…what to do with your entrepreneurial dream.”
Coming out of this live training, we’ll also be starting a Mastermind Group. What’s that? A Mastermind Group offers education, accountability, encouragement and support to help you see your idea become reality. It will help you get better personally and professionally. It will help you win not only in your business, but at home. True success is measured by both.
If you’d like to jump in on the free live training, then click here.
If the Mastermind Group sounds right for you, then click here.
Posted: July 9th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships | Tags: fun, intimacy, marriage, romance, sex, Summertime Intimacy Challenge | No Comments »
The ice bucket challenge was great, but it tended to…cool things off. How about a challenge to heat things up?!
Join the Summertime Intimacy Challenge and experience the best summer of your marriage!
You’ll find all the information you need by clicking here.
The price is low, but the benefits are huge! (The low price only lasts for a couple days though.)
Be intentional about connecting with each other over the next 40 days. I’ve provided all the content you’ll need to grow closer spiritually, emotionally and sexually.
You’ll also get to compete by seeing how many points you can get by completing the “Summer 2015 Marriage Bucket List.” The couple with the most points gets a prize! Get started on the 40-day challenge ASAP. You only have until August 31st to send me your point total from the bucket list.
If you’re going to take part, consider asking another couple to join with you. It’ll help their marriage and give you some encouragement and accountability.
Enjoy the challenge and have an awesome summer!
Posted: July 4th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, confusion, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God's will, God's word, seeking God, worry | No Comments »
How would you feel if you learned there was a meteor ten miles wide on a collision course with earth and scientists were predicting an almost 100% chance of a direct hit in three days that would essentially end life as we know it?
Or how would you feel if you worked for months and months on a political campaign and after the votes were counted, the candidate you worked so hard for lost?
Or how would you feel if when you went to work each day there was a group of people who did nothing but criticize and insult you and tell you your ideas were bad and your plans had no chance of success?
I can tell you how I’d feel. Scared. Discouraged. Anxious. Worried. Hopeless.
Now what if the calculations were wrong and the meteor was never on a collision course? What if you turned off the television before all the votes were counted and your candidate actually won? What if your idea was good and your plans were solid and you knew your competitor sent those people?
Here’s the problem…even if something isn’t true, if you believe it is, you will still be plagued by negative emotions. Reality may be very different than what you believe, but if you don’t know it, then you’re stuck believing a lie. The truth changes everything though.
Imagine the joy of learning the meteor is millions of miles away, your candidate won and your idea is so good you’re getting a promotion and a raise.
This morning, I read a passage in Ezekiel about false prophets. Here’s one of the verses that stuck out to me:
You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, but I didn’t want them to be sad. And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins. (Ezekiel 13:22)
Then I read a passage in John 8 where Jesus is speaking of Satan:
He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
And then I was reminded of the account in Nehemiah where they are working hard to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Israel’s enemies are relentless in trying to discourage them from continuing the work. But Nehemiah says:
“There is no truth in any part of your story. You are making up the whole thing.” They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination. (Nehemiah 6:8-9)
And finally, I thought about this verse:
We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)
So all of this got me thinking. What if things aren’t as bad as we think? Yeah, I know the world is a messed up, broken place, but what if there are many more people in the world who are working for what’s good and right than we think?
Could it be that a very small minority of well-placed people in influential positions could cause mass fear and discouragement? If you don’t think so, listen to a politician or just turn on the news.
I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but then again, maybe I do.
Conspiracy: an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot. A combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose.
Our enemy is evil and he’s a liar who works to discourage God’s people. If he can get us to believe we’re defeated…then we will be.
What if it’s time to start a movement of people who will choose to believe the truth and pray for truth to be revealed?
Would you be interested in being a part of it?
Let me know.
By the way, the wall around Jerusalem was rebuilt in 52 days.
Posted: June 27th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Truth | 11 Comments »
I have a serious question asked in a spirit of love and genuine curiosity. I’d like to understand how others think. If you would like to comment, I’d love to hear what you have to say, but only if you can be civil, respectful and mature. If I consider your comment to me or anyone else as disrespectful, I’ll simply delete it. So if you’d like your comment to be heard—be mature.
I’ve observed for a number of years that “tolerance” has been elevated to the highest virtue in our culture. And tolerance appears to mean that all worldviews are valid and no one has the right to judge anyone else.
So my question is this: What happens when opposing worldviews collide?
Who wins then?
For example, if someone supports gay marriage, but also says a Muslim should have the right to live under Sharia Law…what do we tell the Muslim who believes they are commanded to punish and even execute homosexuals?
I’ve read articles and have seen pictures recently of ISIS throwing gay men from the roofs of tall buildings. If they don’t die immediately (and some don’t), then there’s a waiting crowd below ready to stone them to death. Yesterday, ISIS even used the hashtag #LoveWins in one of their tweets.
If you’re like me, the thought of throwing someone from a building or stoning them for being gay is sickening. Am I allowed to say that’s wrong? If so, on what basis? Simply because I believe it’s wrong? But others believe it’s right.
Who wins then?
Someone may say, “Well, not all Muslims are like that.” And I would completely agree with you. I have a good friend who is Muslim. I love him like a brother. I know he would also say it’s wrong to kill someone for being gay.
Someone may say, “ISIS is wrong. They have to learn to be tolerant of other beliefs.” But what if they say their beliefs specifically tell them to not tolerate homosexuality?
Who wins then?
When competing worldviews come into conflict—how do we decide the winner?
Does the government get to decide? What if the government says we should exterminate Jews? (Nazi Germany)
What if the government says women can’t drive cars (Saudi Arabia) or leave the house without a husband’s permission (Afghanistan)?
If it’s not the government, then is it the majority? What if the majority says you shouldn’t be allowed to own two cars, because some people (in the majority) don’t have any?
If it’s not the government or the majority, then is it the individual? What if, as an individual, I believe it’s okay for me to steal your new television because…well, I just want it?
You may say I’m not allowed to steal your television, because I’m hurting you or infringing on your rights, but who are you to judge me? I think you’re hurting me by not allowing me to practice my religion of television-stealing. Stop being so intolerant and hand me the remote!
Am I a bigot if I believe it’s sick to throw homosexuals off buildings?
Am I being narrow-minded if I think it’s wrong to tell women they’re not allowed to travel without a male escort or wear bikinis if they want to?
Am I judgmental because I believe genital-mutilation of young girls is disgusting?
Don’t be too quick to exonerate me. Because by believing those things, I’m disagreeing with the beliefs of others. And that makes me intolerant.
What happens when opposing worldviews collide?
Who wins then?