Posted: April 22nd, 2016 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, confusion, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God is good, God's character, God's glory, God's love, God's will, God's word, seeking God, trials | No Comments »
I’ve made more mistakes and bad decisions than I could ever possibly count. I could probably list a hundred or more without any trouble, but I’d probably be forgetting thousands of others.
Most of my wrong choices and failures could be lumped into the major categories of career, finances and things I’ve said.
But the top 3 mistakes don’t have anything to do with those areas. The big 3 are all wrong beliefs, which actually do effect every other area of my life. Each of them are devastating on their own, but they also each effect the other two. So let’s just get to them.
1. I’ve had a wrong belief about life.
For some reason, I got it in my head that life would be easier than it has turned out to be. I feel little silly even saying that, because on a whole, and compared with most of the world, I have a great life. And an easy one.
I’ve never missed a meal. I never worry about having access to clean water. When I’m sick, which isn’t very often, I can see a doctor. I’m married to an amazing woman. I have four incredible kids, two sons-in-law (with a third coming in six weeks) and two wonderful grandsons.
I live in a great house with heat and air-conditioning right across the street from the University of Arkansas. Robyn and get to minister to together and see God use us through the ministry of Young Life.
I could go on and on about the blessings in my life. And yet, there have also been many failures and disappointments. I’ve failed where I thought I would succeed. I’ve had hopes and dreams that haven’t come true. Things I thought for sure would work…didn’t.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:15-17)
Do you ever wish the Bible would stop sooner? I mean just read those three verses again and stop before you get to the last sentence.
Sounds pretty good, right? Adopted as God’s children. We become heirs and we share in God’s glory.
But that last sentence is just as true as all the others. “But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
That’s not the only place in the Bible where we see the reality of suffering. Actually, it’s all throughout the Bible. Suffering, difficulties, setbacks, failures, disappointments and consequences of bad choices are everywhere. No one is immune.
And yet, somehow, I missed it. And so I’ve had this mistaken belief that things would be easy or at least easier, especially when walking with God. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. And that leads to the second mistake…
2. I’ve had a wrong view of God.
I allowed my failures, hardships and disappointments to cloud my view of God. Because I didn’t anticipate suffering as a normal part of being human and even of being a child of God, I began to doubt God’s character.
I concluded He wasn’t good or loving or faithful. At least not to me. And that wrong belief distorted my view of Him, myself and life. It effected my thinking, my emotions and my decisions.
It really effected how I prayed. Because I doubted God’s goodness and faithfulness, I stopped truly trusting Him. I didn’t pray boldly or confidently, because I didn’t want to be disappointed when an answer didn’t come.
My wrong view of God lasted for many years. And if I’m honest, it’s only been in the last few years that I’m making more of a “complete” recovery.
So what’s the truth about God?
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
God showed His great love on the cross. Now think about that for a minute. Not only did God Himself die in our place, while we were completely undeserving, this verse also reveals the fact that the Son of God suffered. How did I miss the obvious? Those twenty words reveal God’s true character as well as the true nature of life: God loves us and suffering us part of life.
As I’ve endured some personal hardships and have been careful to not make the same mistake I made in the past by doubting God, I’ve instead made the third big mistake…
3. I’ve had a wrong view of myself.
When I’ve experienced failures and disappointments, I’ve allowed them to define me. I’ve allowed them to effect my identity. Failure has meant I’m a failure. Suffering must mean there’s something wrong with me. Rather than seeing failure as a normal part of business and life…and seeing failure as an opportunity to learn and to grow…I’ve pointed a finger inward.
I love what Rocky said to his son in the movie Rocky Balboa about all of this…
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place. And I don’t care how tough you are. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” (If you want to watch the entire scene, CLICK HERE.)
Maybe you’ve wrestled with some of these wrong beliefs like I have. If so, let me simply encourage you to keep going. Keep wrestling. There aren’t any shortcuts or quick and easy answers.
God does love you though.
And failure and suffering are a normal part of life.
And you’re not a failure just because you’ve failed.
Posted: December 22nd, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, God is good, God's character, God's glory, God's love, God's will, God's word, marriage, seeking God | No Comments »
Do you have a favorite day of the year? Your birthday? Valentine’s Day? Your anniversary? Thanksgiving or Christmas? The opening day of deer season?
My favorite day of the year is December 23rd.
Why December 23rd?
It’s because of the anticipation. It’s all those magical moments leading up to being together as a family and opening those mysterious presents under the tree. I love the anticipation, the mystery and the surprises.
There’s something very powerful about anticipation. When we anticipate something bad happening, we call that worry or fear. When we anticipate something good and right happening, we call that faith.
So what are you anticipating for 2016?
To experience the best year ever in your life and in your marriage, it’s critical to begin anticipating it.
Now I’m not suggesting that we can simply create a new reality with our thoughts…however, it’s entirely possible that whatever we’re anticipating is what we’ll see occur. There’s something powerful about what we choose to think about and dwell on. Our thoughts fuel our emotions and desires. Our words and actions flow from what we’re thinking and feeling.
And before you know it, what we anticipated becomes our reality.
So what are you anticipating? What are you looking forward to in 2016? What are your thoughts already beginning to shape for you? Are you thinking about…
Getting in better shape? Growing your business? Getting a promotion? Growing closer to God? Building a better marriage?
My passion is to help you believe God and enjoy an amazing marriage. It’s what I want for myself and it’s what I want for you.
I’m 100% convinced that as you believe God’s Word and intentionally invest in your marriage, 2016 will become your best year ever.
Do you believe it?
If you do, then you’re who I created the 25-session video course, “How to Understand Your Spouse and Transform Your Marriage” for. It’s designed to help you experience a passionate and purposeful marriage. One that’s exciting and fulfilling…and full of adventure.
Currently, the price is $97, but if you order this week, you’ll pay just $48.50 now. I’ll bill you for the other $48.50 on January 15th. You’ll get instant access to all the content NOW though. This is a special offer just for my subscribers. CLICK HERE to learn more or purchase the course.
As an added bonus, I’ll also send you the paperback edition of “The Marriage Experiment: a 30-day intimate adventure” when it releases next month.
If your marriage isn’t everything you’d like it to be…if it feels like you’re lacking passion and purpose…if it feels like you’re stuck and things aren’t getting better…or even if your marriage is good and you want it to be amazing…let me encourage you to work through this course. The sessions are short and highly practical. You and your spouse can start 2016 with your marriage better than its ever been.
Last thing…if you’re looking for something fun to read over the next week or so, I’m offering the first two books in The Lakeside series for just $4.99 this week. CLICK HERE to get immediate access to The Lakeside Conspiracy and The Lakeside Confession in either the iBooks or Kindle versions. If you enjoy mysteries with a romantic twist, then you’ll enjoy these books. Book 3 is coming soon!
Posted: December 22nd, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, fear, forgiveness, God is good, God's character, God's love, God's will, God's word, grace, Holy Spirit, marriage, money, Relationships, seeking God, Young Life | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 18)
I wouldn’t consider myself to be someone who is ungrateful.
But then I realized that I often focus on what I don’t have. What I’m lacking. What I still want.
And so I feel discontent. Disappointed. Sometimes like I’m failing.
So today I thought I’d turn it around…for once…and focus on what I do have to be thankful for. Both big and small. Here’s just a partial list…
Jesus. He loves me. He’s forgiven me. He’s for me. He’s committed to me. He died in my place.
Robyn. She’s amazing. An off-the-charts blessing. I hope I get to be married to her for another 30 years.
Rachel, Erica, Amy and Rob. My kids are such a blessing to me. They’re walking with God and making good choices.
Richard and Ross. My sons-in-law serve their country and my daughters well.
Wes and Tyler. My two grandsons are a great joy.
My health. Other than an occasional cold or headache, I’ve rarely been sick.
My friends. The ones I grew up with, the ones I have now, the ones I rarely see…
My sister. Who doesn’t think like me or vote like me!
The ministry of Young Life.
A house to live in and cars to drive.
Air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.
A pocket-sized computer I carry around that also functions as a phone, a camera and video-recorder.
Football. The opportunity I had to play it and now only watch it. What a great game!
The opportunity to write books and create courses.
Parents who loved me, supported me and encouraged me.
Readers who like my books and ask for more.
The Bible, through which God speaks, leads, convicts and encourages.
My MacBook Pro.
Snow. I love it.
The opportunity to have visited 49 of the 50 states so far. I’m coming for you one day, Nevada.
Pie. Oh, I love pie. Pecan. Pumpkin. Blueberry. Coconut Cream.
Ice Cream. Especially when it’s really hard and has some crunch to it.
Couples who’ve entrusted me with their pre-marital counseling.
Did I mention my wife? And kids?
God’s faithfulness. Even when I doubt.
And His patience. Boy, do I need that!
The backyard swimming pool we had when I was a kid.
Getting to go to the Razorback basketball game tonight with Robyn and Rob.
God’s provision for me and my family.
The aroma of fresh, hot cinnamon rolls.
Hearing my grandsons laugh.
The anticipation of heaven.
Meaningful work to do.
So many wonderful memories.
Young Life camps.
A fire in the fireplace on a cold night.
Cold water after a run on a hot day.
The smell of freshly cut grass, which always reminds me of football.
I’ll stop there for now. I’m sure there’s a lot more I could add. So thank you, Lord, for Your love and faithfulness and kindness toward me. You’ve been way better to me than I deserve.
So what are a few things on your list?
Posted: December 21st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, confusion, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, pain and suffering, prayer, seeking God, trials, Truth, worry | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 16)
Have you ever found yourself in a situation that was so far from what you’d dreamed of, hoped for, prayed for and worked toward that it’s hard to understand how you even got to where you are now?
And now that you’re there…are you doubting yourself? Wondering if you really have what it takes? Are you at a loss to know what to do next?
Are you doubting God? Just when you need him most does He seem to be absent? Silent? Checked out?
Maybe it feels like you’ve given it your best shot…and your best shot wasn’t enough. You tried, but your marriage hasn’t gotten better. The relationship with your child is still strained. Your job search hasn’t yielded any results. The business you felt sure God called you to start has been more of a drain than a blessing.
Are you out of ideas? Not even sure how to pray? Is your hope hanging by a thread?
So where is God when we really need Him?
I’ll be honest, I have more questions than answers today. If you’re feeling discouraged…I get it.
I don’t know why you’re having to endure your current circumstances. I don’t know why God doesn’t step in sooner. I mean I know the “correct” answers. I could give you those…but today…
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Posted: December 19th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, God is good, God's will, God's word, seeking God | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 15)
If you include resistance training as part of your exercise program, then you already know about the principle of “progressive overload.” To get stronger, you progressively increase the resistance you’re lifting. The muscle then responds by getting bigger, which means you get stronger.
Our faith grows in the same way.
When we experience various kinds of trials, we choose to believe God, we see God come through and our faith grows stronger.
But what tests our faith today is not what tested our faith two years ago. As we grow stronger, God is able to increase the “resistance” of the trial, so we can continue to get stronger.
James said it like this:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Is your faith being tested today? Does it feel like you can’t take any more?
God is developing perseverance in you. Perseverance is leading to greater maturity. Your faith is growing stronger. God is developing in you the capacity to believe Him more than you ever have.
Don’t quit. He sees what you’re going through. He understands the weight or pain you’re enduring. He will not let it crush you. He will remove it at just the right time. Trust that He’s using it to grow your faith and prepare you for greater fruitfulness and blessing.
Posted: December 17th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believe in Jesus, believing God, faith, God's character, God's glory, God's will, God's word, seeking God | No Comments »
2o Days of Believing God (Day 13)
Recently, Robyn and I watched the movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for the first time. Let’s just say it didn’t make our Top 10 List. For me, I just didn’t find the main characters very likable. If you have a different opinion, feel free to leave a comment.
Anyway, when it comes to movies, the main character makes or breaks the story.
It’s that way in life, too. The problem I often run into though is confusing the main character with a supporting character. I’m not the main character in my story. You’re not in yours either.
The main character is God. We’re living in His story. He’s not a part of ours. It’s never been about us. As I read these verses at the end of Romans 11 last night, I was reminded of that…
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to give him advice?
And who has given him so much
that he needs to pay it back?
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
A big part of believing God is distinguishing between his role and ours. The glory…all of it…goes to Him. Not you or me.
Posted: December 15th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, God is good, God's character, God's will, God's word, Jesus, marriage, seeking God, trials, Truth, worry | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 11)
God is with us.
Not far away. Not unconcerned. Not uncaring.
God is with us.
He’s not just the God of 2,000 years ago. He’s not just the God of the future. He’s the God of the here and now.
He’s present with you. Right now. In this moment. Jesus is with…you.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
God became human and lived with us.
Jesus lives with you. Today. You don’t need to ask for His presence. He’s already present with you. Right now.
He is with YOU.
Are you afraid?
He is with YOU.
Are you in pain?
He is with YOU.
Are you discouraged?
He is with YOU.
Are you worried?
He is with YOU.
Is your marriage in trouble?
He is with YOU.
Are you lonely?
He is with YOU.
Not just with other people.
Jesus is with YOU.
Posted: December 14th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God is good, God's character, God's love, God's will, God's word, marriage, prayer, Relationships, seeking God, Young Life | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 10)
Yesterday, we looked at the wrong ways to wait on God. Today, let’s look at how to do it right.
I knew a guy a number of years ago who was an ultra-marathon runner. Those are the 100-mile races. He and I got into a fitness discussion one day and he was explaining his workout schedule to me. There didn’t appear to be any rest days, so I asked him about it.
He said his rest days consisted of going to the athletic club and riding a stationary bike. He called it “active rest.” He and I defined “rest” very differently! My rest days include naps, not riding a bike!
Waiting on God is more like getting on the bike than on the couch though. It’s active.
We pray. We read His word. We seek counsel. We worship. We serve. We live in community with others who are believing God. We continue doing the last thing He showed us to do.
We actively wait. We don’t just sit around and hope things get better.
My wife, Robyn, is a great example of this. She does an amazing job leading the ministry of Young Life in Northwest Arkansas. She has an incredible staff team and around a hundred committed college students who serve as volunteer leaders. Ministry is occurring on the University of Arkansas campus and in several nearby towns as a result of their work.
Robyn works hard and prays even harder for God to fund the budget, open doors of opportunity and raise up more volunteers. This is active waiting. It’s doing what she knows to do while also waiting for God and trusting Him to provide new opportunities and needed funds.
You have a different set of circumstances.
You’re trying to repair a broken relationship.
Medical test after medical test hasn’t revealed the cause of your symptoms.
You’ve tried to sell your house, but the offers aren’t coming.
You’ve tried to find the right job, but things never seem to work out.
Active waiting is refusing to give into the five destructive waiting behaviors we looked at yesterday while continuing to seek and believe God. I know it’s not easy. I’ve failed many, many times.
Know that God is at work in your circumstances. Right now. He has a purpose behind the waiting. When the time is right, the waiting will end and you will enter a new season.
In the meantime…keep seeking, believing and doing what you know to do.
Let me take a moment and talk to those of you waiting for a change in your marriage. You know there are issues. Maybe some serious ones. You’ve talked to your spouse. You’ve prayed. But nothing has changed.
Allow me to suggest that part of your active waiting be to work through THIS COURSE together that I released a couple weeks ago. These proven principles will be the best active waiting you’ve ever done for your marriage. CLICK HERE for more information…and begin seeing your marriage transformed. (The price goes up soon, so don’t wait.)
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Posted: December 13th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, fear, God is good, God's will, God's word, marriage, money, pain and suffering, seeking God, worry | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day 9)
You have a need. You feel confident God will meet it. But nothing happens.
So you wait. And wait…and wait. Until you’re tired of waiting. So tired.
After God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son, they waited 25 years for his birth. David waited 14 years to become king after being anointed by Samuel and he spent much of that time running for his life. A Savior was promised thousands of years before Jesus finally came on the scene.
We might have to wait a week for the results of a biopsy, a year to sell a house or a few years for a start-up business to become profitable. Maybe for you it’s waiting for God to heal your marriage. Or waiting to get pregnant. Or waiting for a spouse.
Waiting is a mega-theme in the Bible. It’s something we have to learn to do well.
So let’s look at a few ways to NOT wait well. I’ve tried all of them so you don’t have to…
1. Get angry. God doesn’t behave like I want Him to. He doesn’t come through for me, at least not the way I wanted. So I conclude He’s not good or worth trusting. After all, I did my best to obey Him and now He’s treating me unfairly. Anger soon turns to bitterness and cynicism. It’s a downward spiral from there. I’ve been in that spiral. It’s not pretty.
2. Get discouraged. The waiting seems endless. Things aren’t getting better, they’re only getting worse. In fact, just when it seems like things can’t get worse, sure enough, they do. Circumstances can seem so overwhelming that we lose hope. We can’t even imagine things turning around.
3. Feel sorry for ourselves. This is a subtle one to fall into. It’s a victim mentality. We think, “I did what God wanted, but I guess He’s just against me.”
4. Manipulate our circumstances. Abraham and Sarah tried this one. When Sarah couldn’t get pregnant, she suggested Abraham sleep with one of her servants. Being the unselfish, man-of-faith he was, Abraham went right along with her plan. When God has me in a season of waiting, it’s best to not take things into my own hands. Nothing good can comes of it.
5. Lower our expectations of God. This may be the worst of the five, but I was guilty of this for a number of years. After living through the first four, I figured the safest bet was to just lower my expectations. I just wouldn’t expect God to do anything for me. If I didn’t expect Him to answer prayers, bless me or help me out of difficult situations, then I wouldn’t be disappointed. I don’t know if there’s a more offensive way to view God than as someone who really can’t be counted on.
So those are the wrong ways, but how do we respond when the need is unmet and God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry?
Tune in tomorrow…
Posted: December 12th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God is good, God's will, God's word, humility, pain and suffering, seeking God, trials | No Comments »
20 Days of Believing God (Day
After Jesus was baptized we read, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he preached there, but then went into Arabia for several years. The origin of the word Arabia can also mean “desert.”
After Moses killed an Egyptian, he fled to the land of Midian where he stayed for 40 years. Midian? It’s right next to Arabia.
Before God led the Israelites into the Promised Land, Moses said to them:
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
We know that after Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, He went on to call His first disciples and begin His public ministry.
After Paul’s season in the desert, he began his mission of taking the gospel to the Gentiles.
Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God called him back to Egypt to lead His people into the land He’d promised to them.
I don’t think Jesus, Paul, Moses or the nation of Israel loved the desert. I know I don’t. And I’m sure you don’t either. Unless of course, there’s a resort in the middle of it.
The desert is a prerequisite though. It’s a training ground for for whatever God is calling us to do next.
God is up to something in your life. He has you in the desert for a reason. He wants to reveal Himself to you. He wants to teach you. He wants to humble you. He wants you to know you don’t live on bread alone, but on every Word He speaks. He is the One who is causing you to hunger and He is the One who is feeding you.
The desert won’t last forever. God uses it for a season and then brings you into a land of fruitfulness. If you don’t experience the desert, then You will not be prepared for how He will bless you and use you in the future.
Hold on. Don’t quit. God is at work. He will lead you out at just the right time. Keep your eyes on Him and trust Him.
The desert comes before the Promised Land.