Posted: April 22nd, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, faith, God's will, God's word, Holy Spirit, Jesus, seeking God | No Comments »
Before I get to today’s post, I want to let you know I will soon be releasing an online video course called, “Intoxicating Marriage.” Proverbs 5:19 says, “A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” I love the picture of a couple so in love they could be described as drunk on each other. And that’s my hope for anyone who goes through this course.
It’s 12 videos that cover effective communication, spiritual growth, physical fitness, how to have an exciting sex life, how to be more romantic, understanding and meeting one another’s needs and more. The course will sell for $79, but for my weekly email subscribers, it will only be $39. If you would like to get it in on the $39 price, please click here to sign up for my weekly email. You’ll also get a free eBook when you sign up.
Now on to today’s post…
I’ve been hanging out in Luke 11:1-13 the past few days. Jesus has been praying when one of His disciples asks Him to teach them how to pray like John taught his disciples. So Jesus teaches them what’s commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It would probably be more correct to call it “The Disciples Prayer.”
He doesn’t stop there though. Jesus goes on to tell them a story about a man who asks a friend for some bread so he can feed another friend of his who has just shown up for a visit. Since it’s midnight, his friend tells him to get lost. Jesus then explains the man may not get out of bed and give his friend the bread based on their friendship, but he will do it because of the guy’s “shameless persistence.”
The application Jesus makes is in the following verses: keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking, because eventually you’ll receive. He concludes His teaching on prayer by saying, “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
This passage reminds me of Hebrews 11:6, which says, “…He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
We often talk about having a relationship with God and getting to know Him better. Well here’s something we can know about God: He values perseverance. He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. He answers the prayers of those who shamelessly persist.
Have you been praying for a family member to come to know Christ? Or for your marriage to be saved? Or a child to come to their senses?
Keep going. Don’t quit. If you’re going to be guilty of anything, don’t let it be quitting, let it be your shameless persistence. I know it’s hard and discouraging to keep praying for something when month after month, even year after year, the answer doesn’t come. God values your perseverance though. And somehow He will reward your sincere seeking.
Posted: April 14th, 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 love, God's will, God's word, pain and suffering, Relationships, worry | No Comments »
How do you respond in a crisis? I don’t mean your first reaction. No one does well when the phone rings at 2:00 a.m. I’m talking about your second reaction. After you’ve had a little time to process.
Do you panic? Feel overwhelmed? Worry? Get anxious? Are you filled with fear? Or dread?
Or maybe you respond well. You pray, assess the situation and take action. Instead of fear, you respond with faith. You might feel powerless, but that drives you to pray.
How do you respond?
In Luke 8:22-56, there are a number of people who are facing a crisis of one kind or another. Some are in fear of their lives. Some are facing serious health issues. And it’s fascinating to see how they respond and then how Jesus responds to them. Click here to read the passage.
The first group of people we see are the disciples. They’re out on the lake in a boat when a fierce storm hits. The boat was filling with water and they were in real danger. How do they respond to the crisis?
They freak out by waking Jesus up and shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
Jesus calms the storm and then asks, “Where is your faith?”
When they arrive at the other side of the lake, a demon-possessed man approaches Jesus just as He’s getting out of the boat. This guy was homeless, naked and had lived alone in the cemetery for a long time. The demons have a crisis on their hands. The Son of the Most High God has just shown up. How do they respond?
They freak out, too. They beg Jesus not to send them to the bottomless pit, but to instead allow them to go into a herd of pigs. Jesus gives them permission and they enter the pigs. The herd then rushes over a steep cliff into the lake and drowns.
The people of that region hear what has happened and rush out to Jesus. When they see the man who’d been demon-possessed sitting there, fully clothed and in his right mind, they face a crisis. Something powerful and mysterious has just occurred and they don’t understand it. How do they respond?
They freak out, of course. They’re afraid of Jesus and beg Him to leave. The one person who isn’t freaked out is the guy who’s been made well. He begs to go with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go home to his family and tell them all God has done for him.
Jesus gets back in the boat and heads to the other side of the lake again. When He arrives crowds press around Him, including a guy named Jairus who’s 12-year-old daughter is dying. How does he respond to his crisis?
He believes Jesus can heal her begs Him to come with him. Jesus agrees to go with him, but then gets sidetracked by a woman in crisis. She’s been bleeding for twelve years without relief. Nothing she has tried has cured her. How does she respond?
She believes that if she can just touch the cloak Jesus is wearing, she’ll be healed. And she is. Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
While Jesus is speaking with her, word comes to Jairus that his daughter has died. But Jesus says to him, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”
When Jesus arrives at his home, He tells the mourners to stop weeping because the little girl is only asleep. They all know she’s really dead and so they respond by laughing at Jesus. Of course, Jesus gets the last laugh when He brings her back to life.
The disciples face a crisis and freak out. Jesus asks them where there faith is.
The demons face a crisis and freak out because they know who Jesus really is. He exercises His authority over them and drives them out of the man, who is then healed and sane again.
The people of that region face a crisis and freak out in fear and beg Jesus to leave, which He does.
The man who was now free of the demons demonstrates faith by begging to go with Jesus.
The woman who’d been bleeding for twelve years faces a crisis and exercises her faith and experiences healing. She goes in peace.
Jairus faces a crisis when he realizes his daughter is dying. He has faith in Jesus and begs Him to come heal her, which He does.
The mourners face a crisis by laughing at Jesus. The gospel of Mark tells us Jesus made them leave the house before he raised the little girl to life. Could they have witnessed the miracle themselves if only they’d had faith like Jairus?
What’s your crisis today?
Is it financial? Health-related? A troubled marriage or relationship with a child? An issue at work? Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the state of the world.
You and I really have two choices. We can focus on the circumstances we’re in and freak out OR we can focus on Jesus, exercise faith in Him and experience His joy and peace.
I don’t know what Jesus will do in response to your faith. I wish I could tell you the crisis will be immediately resolved. That probably won’t happen. And I wish I could tell you it will be easy to focus on Jesus and trust Him. It won’t be.
Keeping your eyes on Jesus and trusting Him will require diligence. Your circumstances will cry out for your undivided attention. Whatever situation you’re in will feel more real than Jesus does.
But don’t give up. Make the choice to see your circumstances through the eyes of Jesus. Know beyond any doubt there’s nothing too hard for Him. Bring Jesus into the midst of your fears, worries and weaknesses. He sees. He understands. And He’s at work right now.
Posted: April 13th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships | Tags: husband, marriage, needs, wife | No Comments »
A week ago, we received word our daughter was going to be induced due to a low level of amniotic fluid, so we began the thousand mile drive to North Carolina. Fortunately, labor and delivery went well and our grandson, Wes, was born the next morning. We enjoyed four days with him before returning home to Arkansas late last night after a 16+ hour drive.
When I woke up this morning and looked outside, my grass looked like I’d been gone for much longer than a week. Actually, the grass is fine. The problem is the weeds.
Even though I’d recently mowed the lawn and put down some fertilizer and weed killer, the yard doesn’t look good. The problem is that I didn’t use any weed killer last fall. I allowed the weeds to gain a foothold.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that if you do nothing, weeds will flourish and grass won’t. Growing weeds takes no effort at all. Just sit back, relax and soon your yard will be overcome with them.
On the other hand, a healthy lawn requires time, effort and at least a little bit of money. It doesn’t just happen on its own.
Marriage is the same way. If I do nothing, Robyn and I will drift apart and begin to experience serious issues in our relationship. Misunderstandings will increase. Our love for each other will grow cold. Selfishness will take root and grow stronger. Communication will suffer. Our sex life will become stale.
Stop for a moment and consider your marriage. What does it resemble? Would you describe it as a thick, lush lawn? Or a yard full of weeds? Most of us would probably say we’re somewhere in between, but would your spouse agree with your assessment?
Matthew 7:7-8 says…
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
On the other hand, if we don’t ask, we don’t receive. If we don’t seek, we don’t find. If we don’t knock, the door remains shut. Do nothing and we get the results of doing nothing. Do nothing to build a stronger marriage and it’ll just get weaker.
How active and intentional are you when it comes to building a stronger marriage? I’m not just talking about praying, although that’s certainly a good thing to do, I’m talking about intentionally loving and serving one another. I’m talking about putting your spouse before yourself, communicating more, resolving conflicts appropriately and keeping your sex life fresh and exciting.
If your marriage is in need of some weed killer and fertilizer and you’re not sure where to begin, let me encourage you to download a free copy of my book, “Friend and Lover.” You can click here to get it. If it feels like you might need a little more help, then please check out my marriage coaching page. I would love to help you put together a game plan for building the kind of marriage you desire.
Posted: April 10th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, believing God, confusion, delight yourself in the Lord, discouragement, fear, God is good, God's will | No Comments »
In the first chapter of the book of Numbers, God commands Moses and Aaron to take a census of the nation of Israel. Since there are hundreds of thousands of Israelites, God gives them the names of a dozen men who are to help.
Stop and think about that for a moment. God knew their names and called them specifically.
God knows your name, too. He’s not far away and unconcerned. He knows your name. He knows what you’re worried about. He knows your needs. And your hopes and dreams. He knows the medical issue you’re facing. And the bills you can’t pay. And the strained relationship.
He knows all about the sin you keep struggling with…and loves you anyway. His grace and mercy and kindness and patience aren’t running out.
Your God knows Your name. He’s closer than you imagine. Whatever you’re facing, you don’t have to face it alone.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)
I’ve been very encouraged by the response to my first novel. If you’re looking for a good mystery to read this weekend, then check it out at Amazon. It’s only .99 cents.
Posted: April 1st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: emotions, Holy Spirit, Jesus, thoughts | No Comments »
SPECIAL NOTE: I’ve begun a free weekly newsletter in addition to blog posts on this site and my other site, GreggStutts.com. My newsletter comes out on Wednesdays and provides more free content around marriage and parenting, as well as special offers on new products I’m releasing. I don’t want to assume you’re interested, so I have not manually added you to that list. If you would like to subscribe, you can click here and receive a free resource. Now for today’s post…
What is the state of your mind today? What thoughts keep running through your head?
Do you feel anxious? Worried? Fearful? Insecure? Inferior? Jealous? Guilty? Shameful? Discouraged?
Are you telling yourself a good story about your life? Or are most of your thoughts negative and self-critical?
Do you say things to yourself you’d never even think of saying to someone else? Do you mentally berate yourself for mistakes? Do you hold yourself to a standard you’d never hold others to? Are you beating yourself up over past sins?
What are your thoughts about God toward you? Is He disappointed in you? Or angry even? Is He looking for you to step out of line, so He can give you a good whack?
In Romans 8, Paul says…
5 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. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
If your mind is governed by the flesh, then you are experiencing a thought life of death. As a result, your emotions are negative. And they’re overflowing into your relationship with your spouse, with your children and with others.
On the other hand, if your mind is governed by the Spirit then you are experiencing a mind full of life and peace. It doesn’t mean you have no problems or that life is easy, but it does mean your mind is not in turmoil. It means you are bringing your thoughts and circumstances and concerns under Christ’s authority.
Doing this doesn’t happen by accident though. It requires intentional effort. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul said, “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Think of a negative thought as an unwanted intruder in your home. If you let him in and do nothing to make him leave, then he will be content to make himself at home and eventually begin destroying everything he touches. You’d become a prisoner in your own home.
If you’ve let wrong thoughts about God, about yourself or about life enter your mind, then it’s time to take them captive and throw them out. That’s not enough though, they must be replaced with the truth.
An even better way to deal with unwanted intruding thoughts is to not even allow them into your mind in the first place. It’s like setting up a fence and an alarm system around your home.
Where are the negative thoughts in your life coming from? Here are some possible places:
- Old thought patterns from when we were kids. Those negative things our parents, teachers or friends said about us.
- The media. It could be the television news, your Facebook feed, Twitter or a website. Maybe it’s talk radio.
- Your family, friends or co-workers. This isn’t to suggest you’re hanging around with evil people, but unless someone is walking in the power of God’s Spirit, they have the potential to speak negative thoughts into your life.
- Satan and his demonic forces. They can whisper lies to us if we let them.
If you find yourself feeling negative emotions today, pause for a moment and trace your thoughts back to where the emotion started. The feeling of hopelessness or despair or worry didn’t just appear out of thin air. It began with a thought you allowed to come into your mind and take up residence.
It’s time to kick out the unwanted “guests” and replace them with Jesus, who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” And His promise is to give us life and peace.
Posted: March 25th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships | Tags: loss, military, Navy, parenting, releasing | No Comments »
Somehow that little boy I used to run around the yard with grew into a man and left home two days ago to begin his career in the Navy. After basic training, he’ll begin training for BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL). The picture below was taken a couple hours before we said goodbye.
As parents, there are many releasing moments through the years. Moments when you hope you’ve prepared your children for the next season of life. Moments you realize everything is about to change and there’s no going back to the way things were. Kindergarten is a releasing moment. So is getting a driver’s license. And going to high school. College is a big one.
None of those compare though to that moment when you release your child for good. It might mean releasing them to marriage or to move away to another city (or country) or to join the military. The relationship changes at that point. As a parent, you know you can’t protect them and care for them like you once did.
I will miss all those days I picked my son up from football practice before he could drive. I’ll miss making his lunch to take to school. I’ll miss going to Razorback football games with him. I’ll miss making him dessert when he was in the mood for something sweet. I’ll miss putting away his shaker cups he used to mix his protein drinks. I’ll miss hearing him say he’s going to hang out with Tommy and Xander. And I’ll miss a thousand other things.
Up until yesterday, I saw my son almost every day of his life. Sure, there were times I was traveling or he was away at camp, but I probably saw him 95% of all the days in his life. That changed yesterday. Over the next year, I might see him for a total of a week.
I wasn’t looking forward to him leaving. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t anticipate it being this hard. The past few days have felt more like a death. I’m glad we’re giving his car away because I don’t think I could take seeing it parked at our house everyday. And I don’t think I can go in his bedroom again any time soon. It hurts to see everything looking just the way it was when he lived in it, but knowing he’ll never live there again.
We still have our youngest daughter with us while she completes raising her support to serve with Young Life in Germany. I don’t want to even think about putting her on a plane and saying goodbye. Not yet.
Posted: March 19th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: fiction, husband, marriage, story, The Lakeside Conspiracy, wife | No Comments »
On Monday, March 23rd, I’m releasing my first novel. Monday is also the 10th anniversary of my father’s death, so I’ve dedicated the book to him. And Monday is also the day my son, Rob, will leave home to head to basic training for the Navy. To say the least, it will be an emotional day.
Like this blog, my intent in writing the book was to communicate truth. Only this time I would do it through a story.
As a reader or subscriber of this blog, I think you’ll enjoy reading “The Lakeside Conspiracy.” If you do, can I ask you to leave a positive review on Amazon? It helps to get the word out and I’d really appreciate it.
You can click here to order the book in the United States Click here to order it in the UK.
So what’s it about?
Max and Michelle Henry once had the perfect marriage and an ideal life in the small town of Lakeside, Arkansas where they live with their daughter, Sarah.
But can their love survive Sarah’s tragic death?
Max is angry with God and throws himself into football where he has always enjoyed coaching success. But he’s coming off two losing seasons and three is unacceptable at Lakeside High School. The pieces are in place for a championship run until his star player is killed in a mysterious accident…one Max discovers the police are covering up.
Michelle has been forced to grieve and cope with the pain of losing Sarah by herself. When she takes a trip to see her parents, she finds comfort in the arms of an old boyfriend.
Is it too late for Max to win her back?
Can he put together a championship run to save his job?
Will digging into the cover-up reveal secrets worth killing over?
Posted: March 11th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: fathers, Navy, sons | No Comments »
That’s a picture of my dad, Robert Stutts, in 1950. He enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school and served aboard an aircraft carrier for four years. After the Navy, he went to college and became a teacher before transitioning to administration for the last twenty-five years of his career.
He was a great dad, especially considering what he’d come from. I never really knew my grandfather. He died when I was very young. My dad described him as “mean.” I was very blessed to have a dad who was anything but mean. He was kind, encouraging, loving and generous. He loved people and loved helping others.
On March 23, 2005, he died of leukemia.
Less than two weeks from now, on the tenth anniversary of my dad’s death, my son, Rob (named after my dad(, will leave home and begin his Navy career. After basic training, he will train to become a SEAL.
What I realized a few years ago was that in American culture, we see our children almost everyday of their lives from birth through graduation from high school. After that, we may see them a few weeks a year. It’s different if they choose to stay in their hometown, but I didn’t do that and neither did my wife, Robyn.
So I have just a short time left to walk into the living room and see Rob sitting there reading a book. Or looking in the refrigerator and saying, “We don’t have any food.” I only have a couple more opportunities to go out to breakfast with him.
I will miss working out with him, although it’s been a couple years since I’ve really been able to do that. I think the last time we worked out together was about a year ago. We were doing quarter mile sprints. On the first one, I started laughing when he got out to a ten yard lead before I even got moving.
I never really learned how to hunt, so I was not able to pass that on to Rob. That’s something I deeply regret. We did go squirrel hunting together a couple times though. What will always stand out to me is not seeing any squirrels. What mattered most though, was just being with him.
For the last six football seasons, we’ve lived just two blocks from Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Rob and I have gone to about thirty games together. The picture below is from the Ole Miss game last November. It rained most of the game, but I sure had fun being with him.
My dad and my son have greatly blessed my life. I’m grateful for the men they are and the time I had with them. I hope my son gets to experience having a son as awesome as he has been. And I hope I eventually get to see him more than a couple weeks a year.
“Children are a gift from the Lord…” (Psalm 127:3)
Posted: March 3rd, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships | Tags: husband, marriage, marriage books, wife | No Comments »
I want to let those who read my blog or subscribe by email know my eBook, “50 Ways to Slowly Kill Your Marriage” will be free on Amazon from Wednesday (March 4) to Friday (March 6). You can get a free copy by clicking here. Feel free to let your friends know.
If you’d like to receive other free offers and be notified when new books are released, sign up for my weekly newsletter by clicking here. You’ll find the sign-up form on my marriage site.
Posted: February 28th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: anxiety, birds, fear, God is faithful, God's word, money, worry | No Comments »
Do you? Worry about money, I mean.
I’ll confess that I do. I really try not to, but it’s an ongoing battle. It’s become harder recently since I was laid off in November. I got a month of severance pay and received my last paycheck on December 31st.
A few days ago, I was reading in Mark 12 where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. He said, “…you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”
Part of loving God is loving Him with our minds.
This morning, I read Exodus 34:14, “You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.”
Ponder that for a minute. His name is Jealous and He is jealous. About what? His relationship with you and me.
As I was praying, I watched as two birds landed on a light pole outside the window of my hotel. They kept looking up to the sky. It reminded me of Matthew 6…
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Several things hit me from that passage:
1. We can’t love and serve God and money. We have to choose.
2. I’m to be like the birds outside my window who weren’t worried about anything. They weren’t planting or harvesting. They didn’t even seem to mind the freezing drizzle.
3. Material needs “dominate the thoughts of unbelievers…”
So let me see if I can tie all this together…
The greatest commandment is to love God, which includes loving Him with my thoughts. He is jealous for me. He doesn’t want me to have any other gods before Him. I have to choose between loving and serving God or loving and serving money. And money and material needs dominate the thoughts of those who don’t know God.
So if my thoughts are dominated by thoughts about money, how can I also be loving God with my mind? Practically speaking, it’s like I’m denying He even exists when I worry. Why? Because He promises if I’ll seek first His Kingdom and live as He desires, He’ll meet my material needs.
How about you? Do you worry about money? Or about something else?
God is jealous for the attention you and I give to these other gods who can never satisfy us anyway. When we choose to take our focus off money and put it on Him, it’s one way that we can express our love for Him.
On the other hand, when we choose to worry, it’s like believing God cares more about birds and flowers than about us.