Posted: March 1st, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God is good, God's character, God's will, God's word, pain and suffering, seeking God, trials | No Comments »
If you took an inventory of your thoughts today…how many do you think would be negative and how many would be positive? How many are causing fear and how many are causing your faith to grow stronger?
I rarely watch the news or visit news websites. I also find myself spending a lot less time on social media. And I’ve “unfollowed” a number of people on Facebook.
I just don’t need the negativity. Life is tough enough without being reminded of it day after day.
Thoughts are powerful. I need to decide carefully which voices are bringing them to me.
Hebrews 11:6 says that, “And without faith it is impossible to please God…”
God wants to be believed. It pleases Him.
It’s not easy though. Especially when we get our eyes focused on our circumstances and listen to the wrong voices.
God had miraculously led the nation of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. He brought them to Mt. Sinai where He gave them His laws. About a year later, they are camped just outside the land God had promised to give them.
He instructs Moses to send 12 men into the land to explore it. They return 40 days later. Ten of them are afraid of what they’ve seen…the fortified cities and how strong they think the people are. “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” These men begin to spread a bad report about the land among the people.
Two of the men, Joshua and Caleb, do their best to convince the people they should go in and take the land because God is with them…
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Posted: February 25th, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believing God, faith, fear, forgiveness, marriage, money, seeking God | No Comments »
Whose opinion matters most to you? Your spouse? A parent? Your children? Your boss? A coach? Friends?
As I was growing up, I learned how to garner the approval and praise of others whether in the classroom or on the football field. And like a drug, I discovered how good it felt to be thought well of by others.
Approval and praise from others became addictive. And it came with a price.
Being vulnerable is out of the question. Telling someone you’re not doing well or discouraged or you feel like a failure tarnishes the image. And that just won’t do. The image is everything. You can’t always speak the truth. It’s too risky to tell someone what you really think or to challenge the boss. It might cause tension in the relationship and that doesn’t achieve the goal of being liked.
But living to attract the praise and approval of others means forfeiting the greater reward from God. In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about several practices the “hypocrites” used to look good to others. He said the praise they got for their righteous acts was all the reward they would get.
Whose reward do we want…the one from people we can see or the one from the God who’s unseen?
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Posted: February 13th, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: forgiveness, marriage, money, Relationships, Young Life | No Comments »
On Thursday nights, I help lead a Young Life small group of college guys. Last week, we talked about marriage and I gave them the opportunity to ask questions. “Does marriage get boring?” was one of them. When I asked them what they thought, most of them seemed to think that it did.
How would you answer?
As I write this, Robyn and I are a little over 24 hours from hitting our one-billionth second of marriage. It’s fun that it just happens to fall on Valentine’s Day. (A billion seconds is about four months shy of 32 years for those keeping score.) So here’s what I can say about marriage becoming boring…if there’s some set period of time after which it happens, we’re not there yet.
Fortunately, our marriage is more fun and exciting and purposeful than it’s ever been. But can marriage get boring?
Absolutely. Here’s a recipe for growing a boring one…
Stop growing. Don’t read. Don’t listen to podcasts. Don’t expose yourself to new ideas.
Have no goals and pursue no desires.
Put yourself first and only meet your spouse’s needs if yours are met first.
Keep your focus on how bad your circumstances are and all the things that are wrong in your life and your marriage.
Constantly compare your spouse to others.
Go to any lengths to make your spouse understand you, but don’t try to first understand.
Live for small things like money, not great things like the Kingdom of God.
Let your appearance go.
Don’t seek help for the same negative emotions you’ve battled all your life.
If you must have sex… (CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON MY NEW SITE)
Posted: February 7th, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, confusion, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, prayer, seeking God, trials, worry | No Comments »
When you’re hurting, when you’re in need, when you’re losing hope, when you’re totally confused, when you see no way out…how do you pray?
I pray desperately during those times…crying out to God for answers…begging Him for help.
I suspect you do as well.
And sometimes I’ll read something in His word that encourages me and gives me hope. But more often, an answer comes through a person.
In Exodus 25, God is giving Moses instructions for building the tabernacle. Verse 1 says: The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering.”
God then goes into great detail about what the people are to bring and how everything is to be constructed. Of course, if He wanted to, God could have just spoken and zapped everything into existence. But that’s not how He does it. He hasn’t worked that way since He created human beings.
Instead, God chooses to use people to bring offerings, meet needs, accomplish His purposes, give encouragement, advance His Kingdom, etc.
There’s someone near you today who’s desperate. They feel stuck. Hope is slipping away. They may be crying out to God. Or maybe they don’t even know they can. Either way, they need help.
It could be a family member. Or a neighbor. Maybe a co-worker. Or the cashier you’ll meet today.
They might need money. Will you give it?
They may need a word of encouragement. Will you speak it?
Maybe they just need to know someone cares. Will you?
Ask God to use you today and then keep your eyes and ears open to see who needs you.
If you’re the one who’s needing help today, choose to also give it. Maybe being the answer to someone’s prayer today will be the exact thing that you need.
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Posted: January 14th, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God is good, God's character, God's word, love of God, marriage, pain and suffering, prayer, seeking God | No Comments »
Would you like to never feel disappointed again? To never feel the sadness that comes with unmet expectations? It’s simple.
Do nothing. Ask for nothing. And expect nothing.
Give up on your dreams. Take no risks. Make only small attempts.
Have no expectations of yourself. Set no goals. Make no plans.
Never express your needs to your spouse. Definitely not your wants.
Never pray. If you do, don’t ask for anything specific.
Don’t talk to strangers. Or ask a friend for help.
Learn to tolerate the job you hate.
Don’t think you have what it takes to start a business, form a non-profit or write a book.
Never seek adventure. Or try to make a difference.
Listen to anyone who tells you “it can’t be done” or “you’re not good enough.” Especially the negative voice in your head.
Fear failure. It guarantees you’ll attempt nothing great.
Just settle. For the life you have now. For the marriage you have now. For the influence you have now. For the financial situation you have now.
Get completely comfortable with the status quo.
It’s that simple.
Posted: January 11th, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, delight yourself in the Lord, God's word, Jesus, seeking God | No Comments »
When life gets full or complicated or I’m not sure what to do or what decision to make, it always helps me to pull back to the big picture…to ask some fundamental questions. And for me, the biggest one is simply…what does God want?
Of course, inherent in the question is the presupposition that there is a God, that He has actually revealed what it is that He wants and that I’m accountable to Him for whatever it is. So if you’re with me on those points, let’s keep going…
I’ve been thinking a lot about several verses from the Bible that all point to one inescapable conclusion…
God wants to be wanted.
He wants to be pursued.
He wants to matter to us.
Now wanting something is very different than needing something. God doesn’t need anything. He certainly doesn’t need me. But amazingly, He does want me. And He wants me to want Him.
One of the best things that can happen to me in the course of my day is for my phone to buzz and then see a text message from my wife. I love seeing her name show up. I especially love the texts that communicate she’s been thinking about me and wants to be with me.
I want to be wanted. So does Robyn. And you do too. We all do. We want to know that we matter, that someone values us.
God wants that too.
Here are a few of the verses I’ve been considering lately…
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
If we delight in the Lord, He gives to us.
If we trust Him and seek Him, He rewards us.
If we make His Kingdom and living according to His ways our priority, He provides for us.
Now all of this might sound selfish or self-centered to you, but God is the one who has set it up this way. When we pursue Him, He delights in rewarding us.
Maybe you’ve already stumbled a time or two on your New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ve already become discouraged and given up. What if the answer is to first align yourself with what God wants? And then worry about all the lesser goals after Him.
Make your #1 priority this year to delight in and seek God. Spend time with Him each day reading His word. Talk to Him throughout the day. Invite Him into your conversations. “Take Him along” when you run errands. Thank Him for your family, for your life, for a place to live.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking of God as an impersonal, far-away force. He’s not. He’s a person. And He wants you.
And He wants you to want Him.
If you need a guide to help you get started, you might want to check out my 40-day devotional, “I Believe God.” CLICK HERE to get the Kindle version or paperback on Amazon.
Posted: October 17th, 2016 | 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 glory, God's love, God's will, God's word, Jesus, money, worry | No Comments »
It’s sunny, very windy and 80 degrees in Fayetteville, Arkansas today. But 7 years 8 months and 3 weeks ago, it was a different story. A severe ice storm had just hit. Trees were down and power was out all across Northwest Arkansas. Lots of trees were lost in that storm. Trees that did survive lost branches.
This morning, as I sat on our patio, I heard a loud rustling sound and then a tree branch fell on the driveway about fifteen feet from where I was sitting.
It’s not uncommon to find branches like this after thunderstorms or just a strong wind like we have today. These branches are the result of the ice storm in January of 2009 when they broke off from the trunk and died. It’s inevitable they’ll crash to the ground. It’s just a matter of a time. All it takes is some agitation from the wind. And yet the same wind that agitates the dead branches has no effect on the healthy ones.
In the moments leading up to His arrest, the gospel writers tell us Jesus was “troubled” and “overwhelmed with sorrow.” The same Greek word is used in both instances, it literally means:
to agitate, trouble a thing by the movement of its parts to and fro, to cause one inward commotion, take away calmness of mind, to disquiet, make restless, to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread, to render anxious or distressed
Do you ever feel that way?
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Posted: October 12th, 2016 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: 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, Jesus, worry | No Comments »
As Americans, or maybe it’s just as humans, we like choices. We enjoy going out to eat, opening the menu and getting to decide what we want to eat. We get to decide whether we want soup or a salad and what kind. We can choose a baked potato, french fries or no potato at all. We can have our steak rare, medium or well-done. And if we don’t like anything on the menu, the chef may even prepare something special just for us.
To order “a la carte,” literally means “according to the card/menu.” It’s our choice. Not the server’s. Not the chef’s. Not anyone’s choice, but ours.
There’s another type of meal service though. It’s called, “Table D’hote.” It literally means, “the host’s table.” In this type of dining, the menu is mostly planned and our food choices are limited. Essentially, we eat what’s put in front of us.
Table D’hote dining isn’t worse than a la carte, it’s just different. It’s really a matter of expectations. If I sit down to eat and expect to have the freedom to order whatever I want, then I may be very disappointed by the Table D’hote experience. If, on the other hand, I know what to expect and know the chef is the best in town, then I can enjoy the experience and even look forward to whatever surprises may be served.
I think one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in life is…CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST.
Posted: October 11th, 2016 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: anxiety, believe, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God's will, God's word, worry | No Comments »
If you live in America, and even if you don’t, you know we’ve got an election coming up soon. By all appearances, it’s a tight race. And both sides seem to be terrified at the thought of the other side winning.
To be honest, I find myself easily getting caught up in it. And depending on the headline, video, poll or meme, I may feel encouraged or discouraged. At peace or anxious. Hopeful or despondent.
But those up and down emotions based on the circumstances of the day are a good indicator I have my mind set on the wrong thing. Negative emotions like fear, worry, anxiety and insecurity are like the warning lights on the dashboard of my car. They’re letting me know I’ve got a mindset problem.
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8)
Paul contrasts the mind controlled by the flesh with the mind controlled by God’s Spirit. The flesh is that part of us that insists on going its own way, not God’s way. It’s a desire to live life independently of God. Whereas the mind controlled by the Spirit leads to life and peace, the mind controlled by the flesh leads to death and hostility toward God.
So what does any of this have to do with a presidential election?
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Posted: September 22nd, 2016 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, fear, Holy Spirit, Jesus, prayer, seeking God, trials, worry | No Comments »
What do you do when you hit bottom? When your best efforts aren’t working?
It wasn’t long ago I found myself in a season like that. I was stuck. I was out of options. I didn’t know what to do next. I was down on myself and had lots of doubts. Not about God, but about me.
Then one morning, my wife, Robyn, said I’d been talking in my sleep the night before. My first reaction was a little bit of panic. I had no idea what I might have said.
She said it was only one word. It was loud and clear. And it didn’t sound like me.
Sounds a little freaky, huh?
She said I called out…
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