What Are Your Emotions Telling You?

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Last month, my son and I went to a NASCAR race in Kansas City. On our way back home, we stopped to get some dinner. After leaving the restaurant, I was accelerating to get back onto the highway, when I felt my car hesitate. It had been doing that for a couple of weeks, but it was worse this time. And that’s when the “Service Engine Soon” light came on.

Something was going on underneath the hood that needed to be checked out. Something was wrong and the light was warning me about it.

I’m glad cars come with warning lights. They save us from ignoring or even being unaware of problems that could become very expensive to fix.

I think you and I have some warning lights as well. And when they illuminate, they’re letting us know that something’s wrong, that something needs to be checked out “underneath the hood.”

Those warning lights are our emotions.

I think I’ve had one lit up for a week or two now.

There was a day last week when I just felt annoyed. A bunch of little things were piling up and really starting to bother me. And I was starting to voice my frustrations.

Today, I’ve had trouble identifying just what it is I’m feeling. At first, I thought it was boredom. Then I wondered if I was just feeling stale. Although, I’m not really sure what “stale” should feel like. As I’ve thought about it some more, I think what I’m feeling is depleted. One dictionary defines “depleted” this way:

To decrease the fullness of; use up or empty out.

I don’t feel like I’m on empty, but my fullness has definitely been decreased.

Years ago, I read a book about a pastor who was very diligent in tracking two areas of his life: his workouts and his time with the Lord. He reasoned that if he was taking care of himself spiritually and physically then he would be okay. So he was completely caught off guard one day when he broke down in tears while sitting in his office.

He checked his spiritual and emotional “gauges” and they were both telling him everything was fine. So what was wrong?

There was another area of his life he’d failed to take care of and the breakdown in his office was the warning light. That area was his emotional health.

As he looked back at his schedule, he saw that he was involved in some very intensive activities that were depleting his emotional reserves. His activities were good ones, but they were running down his emotional battery and leaving him with little in reserve. Reading the Bible and exercising were not enough. He needed time to emotionally recharge as well.

How about you? What are your emotions telling you today? Is there a warning light that’s lit up?

Maybe it’s just a little annoyance or frustration like I was feeling last week. Or maybe it’s bigger like anger or discouragement or fear or anxiety.

If you’re not spending time in God’s word and taking care of yourself physically (exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep), then I’d start there. But let’s not ignore the need to also recharge emotionally.

For some of us, that might mean getting together with friends or taking a walk after work. Maybe it’s taking time to paint or go to a movie or read a book.

It’s tempting to think we should just maintain our hectic pace. Just keep going. Keep putting out. The problem comes when we’re depleted. When there’s nothing left to give.

When we get to that place, we’re not helping anyone, including ourselves, if we just keep pushing.

Is there a warning light on in your life?

If there is, what do you need to do about it?


Why Are We Here?

Posted: October 27th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

What’s on your to-do list? Meetings at work? A lunch appointment? Errands to run? Groceries to buy? Phone calls to return? Emails to send?

How about all the tasks that never make it onto your to-do list, but have to be done anyway? Shower. Dress. Cook. Clean. Eat. Commute. Homework (yours or helping a child). Laundry.

Then there are activities we look forward to, things like: time with a friend, watching football, playing a game, going for a walk, sex and going to see a movie.

And we can’t forget the activity that probably consumes more of our week than anything else: sleeping.

If all of that isn’t enough to consume most of our time, we have things like the internet, smart phones and television to distract us and gobble up what remaining discretionary hours we have left.

So in all of this frenzied activity, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s true and what’s best. It’s easy to not even get around to asking the most basic question of all…

Why are we here?

Why are we on this tiny little planet we call Earth as it flies through space at 66,000 miles per hour? What are we doing here?

Are we just an accident? That’s what the evolutionists would have us believe. If they’re right, and I don’t believe they are, then there’s no point in asking any “Why?” questions. If we’re an accident, if we came about by pure chance, then we have no purpose. There’s no point to our existence. Never has been. Never will be.

If, on the other hand, the Bible is true, then there is a God who created the universe and everything in it. Including you. And the reason you are here is to live in friendship with the One who made you.

But it doesn’t do us, or God, any good if we were created to live in friendship with Him, but then go about our lives like it’s not true. How many of us get so wrapped up in our work, our possessions, our relationships, our hobbies and our TV shows that we’ve either forgotten or failed to realize that we were created for friendship with God?

Colossians 1:16-20 says:

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Have you allowed this life to become so full of other things that it’s keeping you from the very reason you exist?

If so, what are you going to do?


Warnings

Posted: September 7th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Other, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Have you ever read the Old Testament and wondered how God could just wipe people out? I mean there’s the the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jericho and all the nations in the land of Canaan.

It just seems like lots of innocent people are suddenly killed as a result of God’s orders. Where’s the God of love and patience? Where’s the grace and mercy?

Let’s take a look, beginning with the fact that there are a couple of wrong assumptions in what I’ve just said. First, no one is innocent. Paul wrote to the church in Rome:

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

From the youngest child to the oldest adult–no one is innocent. Not. Even. One. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

Second, God doesn’t “suddenly” wipe people out. He is always patient. In the case of the Amorites who occupied the land of Canaan, God waited hundreds of years before judging them. They had centuries to turn from their evil ways, which by the way, included sacrificing their own children. Not so innocent, huh?

In 2 Kings 17, Israel is attacked and taken into captivity by the Assyrian empire. God makes clear to Israel why this happened. Because they had sinned against Him by worshiping other gods, something He had repeatedly warned them not to do.

The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees…” 2 Kings 17:13

They rejected His decrees and the covenant He had made with their fathers and the warnings He had given them. 2 Kings 17:15

The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn from them until the Lord removed them from His presence, as He had warned through all His servants the prophets.” 2 Kings 17:23

Has God been warning you? Is there an area of your life He has put His finger on?

Is it a relationship? One you need to end? One you need to restore? One you need to persevere in?

Is it your finances? Has God been telling you to give? Or stop using credit cards? Is there a debt you need to repay?

Is it your health? Do you need to eat better? Begin exercising? Rest more? Work less?

Is it a sinful habit? A habit that’s now become an addiction.

I find that God will warn me in multiple ways. It could be through His word. Or a phone call from a friend. Maybe through a sermon or podcast. Or it could be difficult circumstances or a medical condition that will only get worse if ignored.

Now I’m not suggesting He’s going to wipe you out if you continue to ignore Him. Based on my own sin and stubbornness, I can tell you He’s very, very patient and full of grace and mercy.

At the heart of our sin is unbelief. We persist in going our own way and ignore God’s warnings, because we simply do not believe Him. We assume we know what is best for us. We think our plans for our lives are better than His.

We’re wrong though. We’re arrogant too. How foolish of us to ever think we know better than God.

The only answer is to take His warnings to heart, turn from our own way and follow Him.

No matter what He’s warning you about, no matter what He’s telling you to do–it is always in your best interest to obey Him.


For I Know the Plans I Have For You

Posted: August 31st, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Other, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I’ve begun a countdown. I even have a countdown app on my iPhone. Four hundred days from today, I will turn 50.

I don’t know about you, but 50 doesn’t sound young to me. Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective. If you’re 70, then 50 is young. If you’re 20, then 50 is ancient.

I have no expectation of living to 100 or even 90. My dad almost made it to 73. If that’s how long I have, then I’m well past the half-way point of my life. If my life is a football game, half-time is over and we’re playing in the 3rd quarter and I’m just six years from the 4th quarter.

Depending on your personality, you may be thinking all of this is a little morbid. Or you may be wondering who in the world actually thinks to countdown the days until they turn 50, especially when it’s still 400 days a way.

Here’s the thing–when I turned 30, I was disappointed. I had certain expectations that were unmet at that point. I expected my life to look different than it did. I figured by 30, I would “have my act together.” In hindsight, my expectations were the problem, not my life.

So when I turned 40, I had no such illusions of having a nice, orderly, problem-free life. There is no such thing. Turning 40 was no big deal. I guess the biggest thing I learned during the decade between turning 30 and 40 was how to extend grace. Even to myself.

So as I close in on 50, I don’t have expectations that life will be something it’s not, but I do have some expectations, of myself, that I believe are part of God’s plans for my life. There are some things I want to accomplish. There are character flaws I want to work on. There are people and activities I want to invest in.

I want to enjoy these next 400 days, but I also want to live purposefully. I want to have fun, while also walking obediently with God. In 400 days, I want to be able to look back and know I did life God’s way, not Gregg’s way.

What I’ve done is broken up the 400 days into 10 periods of 40 days each. Calendar wise, it might have been easier to just wait until the one-year mark and start counting down the months, but there’s something special about a 40-day period of time. (Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. The spies explored the Promised Land for 40 days.)

Each 40 day period will give me an opportunity to emphasize something different depending on what I sense God doing in my life. Maybe prayer will be an emphasis during one of the 40 days. Maybe training for a 5k race will be. Or maybe studying the book of Ephesians. We’ll see.

In this first 40 day period, I’m emphasizing writing more consistently. I want to post here more often and I also have a book I’ve been working on…or not working on. I plan to finish it by October 9th, the end of the first 40 days. My goal is to write 1,500 words a day. Ambitious, but doable.

One emphasis that will run through all 400 days, and beyond, is simply obeying God–walking according to His ways. Jeremiah 29:10-14 says:

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

The Israelites had been conquered by the Babylonians and carried into exile. They were no longer living in and enjoying the land God had promised to give them. They were captives in a foreign land.

Why though? What went so terribly wrong?

Israel had broken the covenant with God. He had given them His laws, but they chose to not follow them. God had graciously taught them how to live, but they stubbornly went their own way. Rather than give themselves wholeheartedly to God, they adopted the practices of the nations around them.

God had made it clear that if they would follow His commands, He would bless them and prosper them and protect them. But Israel rebelled against Him. They went their own way and did their own thing.

Maybe today it feels like you’re in exile. And you’re crying out for God to bring you back. You desperately want to experience His plans to prosper you and give you a hope and a future. Fortunately, He is always gracious toward us. When we cry out–He listens. When we seek Him–we find Him.

While you’re seeking and crying out though, maybe it’s also a good time to examine your life to see what caused “your exile” in the first place. Sometimes we get into bad situations because we live in a fallen, broken world. Bad stuff happens even when we’re trying to do the right things.

Sometimes though, our own disobedience leads us into exile. Our own choices got us to where we are. And while it’s good and right to cry out to God, it’s also time to make the changes we need to make. The surest path to experiencing God’s very best plans for our lives is to simply obey Him.

Is there an area of your life that needs examining? A relationship? Your finances? Something at work? What you watch or look at? How you use your time?

Remember, God’s commands are never meant to rob our joy or fun. It’s just the opposite. God’s commands provide for us and protect us. They keep us from danger. God’s ways are always for our good. Never for our harm.

You may not be 400 days from turning 50, but there’s nothing stopping you from using these next 40 days to intentionally walk according to God’s ways, so you position yourself to experience the plans He has for you.


Something Better Than Prayer

Posted: August 12th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Other, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Before I get started, some disclaimers:

  1. I don’t believe in formulas. In Chemistry? Yes. In life? No. God isn’t a predictable science experiment. If we do A and B, God is not obligated to do C.
  2. Life is messy. We live in a fallen, broken, sinful world. Bad things can happen even when we do the right things.
  3. Mixing a fervent prayer with the right measure of faith doesn’t always yield the results we want. See #1 and #2.
  4. I don’t believe people get cancer and die because they didn’t have enough faith.
  5. Sin does not always prevent God from blessing us. If it did, none of us would be blessed. Ever.

Those things being said, I’ve been thinking about prayer and obedience the past few days. Now I don’t mean to pit them against each other, but go with me for a moment. Which is better–prayer or obedience?

I guess the next question would be: better for what?

How about–better for getting what we desire?

We desire better health. We desire a new car or house. We want to get married or see our current marriage improve. We want to pay our bills on time, get out of debt and have a little left over for a vacation once in awhile.

Is it better to pray or obey?

I can already hear you saying the answer: Both!

And I would agree with you. It’s obviously better to do both, but my sense is that many of us only do one. We pray. We pray for God to intervene. We pray for Him to rescue us. We pray for Him to change someone’s heart. We pray for a breakthrough.

But often, we don’t obey Him.

A couple weeks ago while driving home from a weekend out of town, I stopped for gas at a little country gas station. As I came out of the store, I noticed a very obese woman sitting in her car smoking a cigarette.

Now imagine this woman begins to experience a chronic cough and shortness of breath. Not hard to imagine, right?

She has a choice now: she could begin praying God will heal her or she could stop smoking, eat healthier and exercise. We would think she was foolish for only praying, but not changing her habits, right?

I wonder how many of us get into difficulties with our finances, our relationships or our own medical issues and beg God for a miracle or some kind of breakthrough, but what may be better is for us to simply obey Him. And then add our prayers.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is giving instructions to the Israelites before they cross the Jordan River to take possession of the land of Canaan. In chapter 28, Moses goes into great detail about what will happen to them if they fully obey God and carefully follow His commands. And he goes into even greater detail about what will happen if they do not obey.

There’s no mention of prayer. God’s blessings are contingent upon their obedience, not the fervency of their prayers. God graciously instructed them on how to live and was very clear about the blessings or curses that would follow their choices.

It’s not just Moses though. In John 15:1-11, Jesus is teaching His disciples that He is the vine and they are the branches. Apart from Him, they can do nothing. In verses 7-8, He says:

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you…” Isn’t that another way to say, “if you obey me?” Obedience plus prayer results in much fruit bearing.

Jesus goes on in verses 9-11 to say:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

We remain in Jesus’ love by obeying him. And what is the result of doing that?

Joy. Complete joy.

Isn’t that ultimately what we all want? Complete joy?

So what are we to do about the difficulties we find ourselves in?

Let’s take our finances for example. If we’re in a mess–are we continuing to spend beyond our income? And just as importantly, if not more so, are we giving? 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Are we crying out to God to give us relief from our financial difficulties, while choosing to sow sparingly? God promises we will reap generously if we sow generously.

Are we asking God to heal our high blood pressure, but eating a diet full of unhealthy food? God has given us healthy foods to eat for our enjoyment and good health.

Are we desperately pleading with God to heal our marriage, but not practicing the principles in Ephesians 5:22-33 or reading a good book on marriage or attending a Weekend to Remember marriage conference or seeking counseling? Sure it takes two to heal a marriage, but are we at least doing our part?

God not only gave us His commands for our own good, He also gave us His Holy Spirit to empower us to obey them. He has instructed us on how to live this life. But are we listening? Are we following through on what He’s already told us?

I’m not at all suggesting that obeying God is somehow better than praying to God. But I am saying that if we’re praying without obeying, then I can’t help thinking God is saying, “I’ve already answered your prayer. You’ll discover it as soon as you obey me.”

Last thing: it would be worth re-reading the five disclaimers I started with.


Spiritual Heat Stroke

Posted: July 20th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

“Get away from the water!”

Ask any high school football player who played prior to just a few years ago and he’ll probably tell you he heard a coach yell, “Get away from the water!” more than once in his life.

Things have changed though.

There was a mandatory parent meeting at my son’s high school last night for the parents of the football players. One of the topics was hydration and heat related illnesses (heat exhaustion and heat stroke). None of it was new information for me because I’d heard much of it at the parent meeting for junior high football last year. And the year before.

My son’s junior high football coach is one of the toughest I’ve seen. He’s a great coach and excellent teacher of the game. He has high expectations of the players and pushes them to perform. But he also frequently stops practice for water breaks.

Last night, the head varsity coach made it clear that his players could get water during practice whenever they needed it. No player would ever be told he couldn’t have water. And if an assistant coach denied water to a player–he probably wouldn’t be coaching there any more.

When I played high school football between 1977 and 1980, the conventional wisdom was that drinking water was a sign of weakness. Going without water made you tough.

Now we know how absolutely stupid that kind of thinking is. Now we know football players die from becoming dehydrated and over-heated. And a coach knows they’d probably be sued by the parents of any player who became ill during practice because he was denied water.

Of course staying hydrated isn’t just for athletes. We all need water to function. A lot of us are probably dehydrated and don’t even know it. It’s especially true during the hot, humid summer months.

Screen shot 2011 07 20 at 7.45.20 AM 300x194 Spiritual Heat Stroke

Much of the United States is currently experiencing high heat and humidity. That large pink area on the map is an “excessive heat warning.” The heat index for Ames, Iowa today is forecast to be around 117 degrees. Ames, Iowa. 117!

This is a plant in my front yard. It not only requires a lot of water, but it’s in a spot that doesn’t get hit by the sprinkler. This morning, I filled a 2-quart pitcher at the kitchen sink and watered this poor plant. I filled the pitcher twice. As you can see, it needed it.

IMG 2252 225x300 Spiritual Heat Stroke

It’s not too strong a statement to say: water is life. Ask this plant. Or my son when he starts football practice on August 1.

It’s not just water that’s life though.

In Deuteronomy 30, Moses is speaking to the nation of Israel just before he dies. He’s giving them their final instructions before they cross the Jordan River to take possession of the land God promised to give them. In verses 19 and 20, he said:

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

The Lord is your life.

It was true for Israel. It’s true for me.

And it’s true for you. The Lord is YOUR life.

In Jeremiah 2:13, God said it this way:

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

A cistern is a receptacle to hold water. When we turn away from the source of living water, we naturally look for “water” (life)  in other places. We try work, pleasure, relationships, possessions or anything else we can think of to fill our souls. What we don’t realize is that those things are broken cisterns. They can’t hold water. They won’t work. They won’t give us life.

Sadly, we will hear of a football player dying of dehydration and heat stroke somewhere in the United States this summer. His core body temperature will rise to 108 degrees and his internal organs will begin to fail. And it will be a totally preventable death.

Just like your death. Or mine.

Are we dying and don’t even know it? If we could examine our “spiritual organs”–would some of us find they’re shutting down? That we’re close to losing our spiritual lives and we don’t even know it’s happening?

I’m not even talking about heaven or hell. I’m simply talking about living life as it was intended.

You and I were created to live in an intimate friendship with the One who created us. We exist for His pleasure. And He commands us to seek Him and know Him and love Him. But we’re trying to find life in people and things who, like us, can’t provide it.

If we’re not drinking deeply of living water by spending time in God’s word and in spiritual conversations with others who are also drinking deeply, then we’re dying. We just are.

Maybe when you see your lawn turning brown or a plant wilted from lack of water or you think about all those football players out on the practice field this summer–you’ll let it remind you that your soul is in desperate need of the living water only God can provide and that His word is a constantly flowing spring. And that whether you feel it or not–you’re dying without it.


Poor Diet

Posted: June 15th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Diet tips. Diet plans. Diet pills. Diet foods.

Diets for men. Diets for women. Diets for children.

Bikini diet. Abs diet.

The South Beach diet. The Atkins diet. The Full Plate Diet. The Maker’s Diet.

Low-carb diet. Low-fat diet. Low-sodium diet.

Gluten-free diet. High-protein diet.

Liquid diet. Vegetarian diet. Kosher diet.

We spend a lot of time talking about diets, don’t we? At least in America we do. I’m not so sure the rest of the world is as crazy as we are. Or as unhealthy.

This map shows the percentage of obese people in each state, based on the Body Mass Index. (I have problems with the Body Mass Index calculation, but for our purposes here, it’ll do.)

Picture 7 300x161 Poor Diet

Picture 91 Poor Diet

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, CDC

You’ll notice that Arkansas and all of our surrounding states (except Texas!) are leading the way in the percentage of obese people. Arkansas is usually near the bottom in most rankings. Too bad we picked the area of obesity to be a leader.

The word “diet” comes from the Greek word “diaita.” It means “a way of life, mode of living.”

Apparently, our way of life, our mode of living in this area of the country is to be overweight, out of shape and unhealthy. And as tragic as that is, I wonder if that description would also reflect our spiritual lives.

Before the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River to take possession of the land God had promised them, Moses spoke to the people and said:

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 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. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

One of the things God was accomplishing in the desert was teaching His people “that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

As food is to our body, God’s word is to our spirit.

So how is your spirit today? What have you been eating? What’s your diet like? Your way of life? Your mode of living?

Do you have a regular, daily intake of God’s word? Do you read it? Listen to it? Talk about it? Apply it?

If you missed a meal today, you’d feel it almost immediately, wouldn’t you? I know I would. As I write this, it’s almost lunch time and my stomach is letting me know it’s time to eat.

But do we ever feel hungry when we miss a meal of God’s word?

It’s like we’re being offered a five-course gourmet meal prepared by an award-winning chef, but we politely decline with, “No thank you, I’m not very hungry.”

Imagine how shocked our chef would be if we told him we weren’t hungry because we’d just filled up on a box of Twinkies and a 2-liter of Coke.

“But didn’t you know I was preparing this delicious meal for you?” he’d ask.

Yeah, we knew.

We fill up on work responsibilities, relationships, television, internet, games on our phones, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, hobbies and whatever else, then have no time or appetite for God’s word.

We’re spiritually obese.

If you tried to run a mile right now–how would you do? Could you make it? Would you have to walk most of it? Would we have to call for the paramedics?

Your performance would give us a pretty good picture of your fitness level.

But how about your spirit? What kind of shape is it in?

Is your spirit so out of shape that when a test or trial comes you’re unable to carry the load and you’re left gasping for spiritual breath?

We do not live on bread alone. We need God’s word to survive.

If you aren’t consuming generous portions of God’s word on a consistent basis–you need to know…you’re slowly killing yourself.

Do you know why most people fail on their diets? It’s because they never make it a way of life, a mode of living. They use it to try and compensate for years of unhealthy eating and then once they’ve shed a few pounds, they go right back to their poor diet, their poor way of life, their poor mode of living.

It’s time to eliminate the junk and start feasting on what God offers.

As food is to our body, God’s word is to our spirit.

If you need a little help getting started on a good diet of God’s word, check out my e-book. If you have a Kindle or iPhone, you can get it here. It’s a 40-day devotional to help you develop a healthy spiritual diet.


What Does God Want?

Posted: May 27th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

When I operated a personal training studio a number of years ago, some clients would wonder why they weren’t losing weight even though they’d been working out for several weeks. The issue was always the same–they hadn’t changed their eating habits. Somehow they thought that two one-hour workouts each week would be enough to accomplish their goals. It wasn’t.

The answer was to go back to what I’d showed them at the beginning. Reduce sugar. Increase protein. Eat five or six smaller meals rather than two or three big ones.

When it comes to your relationship with the Lord, does it sometimes feel like you’re not “getting the results” you’d hoped for? Are you frustrated? Does it feel like something is just off?

Maybe it’s time to go back to what He has already told us to do.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 makes it pretty clear…

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Those words were written for Israel, but Romans 15:4 reminds us, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated in your relationship with the Lord, if you need some hope…maybe it’s time to return to the basics and make sure you’re doing what God has already showed you.

1. Fear Him. That means we respect Him and live in awe of Him.

2. Walk in all His ways. We set the course of our lives toward Him and His ways, not our own.

3. To love Him. When we love someone or something, we willingly give our time, our devotion and our money, don’t we? Do we love Him that way?

4. To serve Him with all our heart and soul. We give Him our very best.

5. To observe His commands and decrees. We obey Him because He is worthy of our obedience, but observing His commands is also for our “own good.”

I’m not suggesting these five things are easy, they’re just not difficult to understand. I suspect if you’re having some trouble figuring out what God wants for you–it may be time to go back to the “basics.” Work on these five and a lot of other things will fall into place.

By the way, if you want to lose weight and get in shape, check out this post.

One other thing, if you’d like to receive all new posts by email, you can subscribe using the form that’s just below “About Me” at the top of the right hand column. New posts will hit your inbox. That’s all you’ll receive. I don’t use your email address for anything else and will never sell it.


What’s Most Important Today?

Posted: March 31st, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

I have several tasks to complete before the end of the work day. I have other things I’d like to accomplish after work. To one degree or another, I’d consider them important. Of course, what’s important is relative.

I consider working out to be important. And I’m working on a book project, so it would be good to make some progress tonight. Those two items may not be important to you, but other things are. You might need to get your house cleaned, laundry done or coach your child’s soccer team.

We all have important things to accomplish each day, but is there any kind of objective measure for determining what’s most important? Each and every day? For all of us?

I think there is.

Currently, I’m 48 years old. The average life expectancy for a male living in the United States is around 75. So if I make it to the average, I’ve got about 27 more years. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a very long time to me.

But how about if you’re only 20 years old? That would give you another 55 years. That’s a little better. And if you’re a female, you can tack on another 3 years, so you get 58!

Of course, all of that assumes you and I aren’t people who actually bring down the average. As a friend of mine used to say, “Half the people you meet are below average.”

So regardless of whether you have another 27 years, 58 years or some other number–none of us really have that much time left. Oh, I know it can feel like forever when you’re in a class you don’t like, a marriage you don’t like or a long line at the post office, but the truth is this life is brief. At best.

We especially don’t have much time when compared to much longer periods of time. Like forever for example.

Forever is a pretty long time. And the Bible is clear–we’re going to live forever. Those who have received the forgiveness that Christ offers have the promise of living forever with Him in heaven.

So what will we do in heaven? How are we going to occupy our time for millions and millions and millions…of years?

First and foremost, we will live in friendship with God. He created us for this purpose. He made us to enjoy a love relationship with Himself. In the context of that relationship, we will grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him.

We will use our God-given gifts and talents to serve Him. I actually think we’ll be surprised at the number of gifts, abilities and talents we have now that will continue into eternity. I tend to think those with teaching skills will still teach. Those who like to cook and entertain will still do it in heaven. People with musical ability will help lead us in singing and worship, which is something else we’ll do.

We will also live in community with others. Heaven will be a place filled with people from every tribe, tongue and nation. We will enjoy getting to know others as we live, serve, eat and worship together.

So a couple hundred years from now…and a couple million years from now…and a few hundred trillion years from now–we’ll be living in friendship with God, enjoying His love and loving Him in return. We will be growing in our relationship with Him. We’ll still be learning and experiencing new things about Him. We will be using our gifts and talents to serve Him. We will be worshiping the only one worthy of being forever praised. And we’ll be doing all of this in community with others.

If that’s what’s important in eternity, then it strikes me that those are the most important things now.

Sure, we have some earthly concerns now that we won’t have then, but we can’t ever let those things become such distractions that we lose sight of what’s most important. In 2 Corinthian 4:16-18, Paul wrote:

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of only seeing what we can see, but what we can see is temporary. It’s passing away. All of it. The cars. The houses. The lawns. The toys. The bank accounts. The clothes. And these bodies in which we live. It’ll all be gone in 27 years. Or maybe 58. But not much longer than that. For any of us.

What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. And most important. Today.


Watch Out For This Person

Posted: December 31st, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Truth | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Have you ever looked at the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list? Check it out. These are some dangerous guys.

James J. Bulger looks like a friendly old grandpa. Except he’s wanted for 19 counts of murder, among other things.

Robert William Fisher looks like a nice guy, too. Of course he allegedly killed his wife and two young children before blowing up the house they lived in.

Then there’s Osama Bin Laden.

While these are evil, violent men, I don’t necessarily feel threatened by them. I understand Bin Laden could do great harm to many people at almost any time, but the odds of me being personally harmed are slim.

There is someone though who is much more likely to do me harm. Someone who at this moment does not even mean to harm me, but has great power to do so and has a track record of doing just that.

The person I need to watch out for is “future me.” Not mini-me. Future me.

At the moment, I am intent on obeying God, eating right, exercising and serving my wife and children well. The future me has proven, however, time after time to be weak, lazy, self-deceived, hypocritical and highly vulnerable to temptation.

For example, I plan on working out tomorrow. Much of the time, I actually enjoy running and lifting weights. But I’ve also learned over the years that during late fall and early winter I am inclined to eat poorly and not exercise as much as I should. I rarely miss workouts in the spring and summer, but that’s not the case right now.

Even though tomorrow is New Year’s Day and I plan to spend some time watching football,  there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to write a couple thousand words on the marriage book I’m writing. And yet, future me will be tempted to not write. He will waste time. He will look for other things to do. I’ve seen him do it.

I think the apostle Paul understood this when he wrote:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7:15)

Can you relate?

So on a day when many of us are either making or at least thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, what can we do to help out Future Me and Future You?

First, recognize we are totally dependent on God to live the life He calls us to. In John 15:5, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We will fail if we are relying on our own strength.

Second, temptation is unavoidable, but let’s at least be wise about it. James 1:14 says, “…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” What are you desiring that is outside God’s will? What do you think about? Want? Flirt with? If you continue to feed ungodly desires–you are setting up Future You to fall…again.

Third, if we’re going to stand against temptation, then we need to change our desires. To change our desires, we have to first change our thoughts. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Choose to spend time in God’s word to allow Him to change your thoughts. Learn to think as He does. Let Him reshape your desires to be in line with His so He can grant them.

Fourth, give more. Jesus said, Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Want to re-direct your heart, your desires, your focus? Then give. Your heart will follow your treasure. I found this to be true a number of years ago when I was playing around in the stock market. I was only investing a few hundred dollars, but the changing stock prices had me glued to my computer. My heart, my attention, my interest was following my treasure.

2011 is a few hours away. You and I have great intentions, but future you and me aren’t so well intentioned. They need our help. We can make some decisions now to help them.