What If This Isn’t Where I Wanted To Be?

Posted: August 21st, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

About a week ago, Robyn and I were driving home to Arkansas after a wonderful time in New Jersey visiting family and friends. The plan was to stop for the night in Terre Haute, Indiana, so I made reservations at a hotel, entered the address into my phone and off we went.

Thirteen hours later, we exited the interstate as we followed the voice instructions to get to our hotel. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves in the middle of a cornfield with no hotel in sight. It’s not what you want after an all-day drive.

Robyn entered the address into a different map program on her phone and we soon found our hotel, which was miles from where we were.

Have you ever found yourself somewhere you didn’t want to be and weren’t even sure how you got there? Maybe you had a vision for your life. A passion. Something you believed God put in your heart to do. And you began to follow His instructions. Along the way, there were some setbacks, but you persevered, you continued doing your best to follow where He was leading.

“Turn left here. Go straight ahead. Make your next right. Make another left. Arrive at your destination.”

Huh? You look around feeling confused. This isn’t where you wanted to be.

So what happened?

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING


What God Wants

Posted: January 11th, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

What does God want  760x570 What God Wants

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.


Ask God to Surprise You

Posted: December 11th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 Ask God to Surprise You

20 Days of Believing God (Day 7)

I just sent an email to my subscribers and suggested they plan a surprise for their spouse this weekend. Nothing elaborate. Just to be intentional about meeting each other’s needs. Surprising each other is a fun way to keep the mystery and excitement alive.

Just when I think I’ve seen it all…Robyn will do or say something that surprises me. And I love that! It means I don’t have her figured out. It means she’s growing and changing…as I hope I am. By the way, being committed to your personal growth is a great way to head off any potential boredom in your marriage.

If you think about it…you’re really not married to the person you exchanged vows with on your wedding day. You’ve both changed. You’ve learned and experienced new things. Don’t ever stop. Keep growing.

So back to the subject of this post. Would you ask God to surprise you?

You may have one of two reactions to the idea of asking God for a surprise.

The first is: “Whoa! Be careful what you ask for!”

The second is: “A surprise from God? Bring it on!”

Your reaction reveals a lot about how you view God.

The first reaction tells me you view God as someone who really isn’t on your side. Someone who’s looking for any excuse to throw a problem into your life. Ask Him for a surprise and you’re asking for trouble.

The second reaction tells me you view God as a loving Father who delights in His children. You know He loves you and wants only the best for you. Ask Him for a surprise and you begin to anticipate His goodness being expressed toward you.

If asking God for a surprise makes you nervous, let me encourage you to meditate on the following passages. Your view of God may need a realignment.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  (Luke 11:11-13)

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

Does God use trials and difficulties in our lives? Absolutely. He uses them to conform us to His image and strengthen our faith. That’s not my point here. We’re talking about how you and I view God.

So how about it? Are you up for asking God to surprise you? This is certainly a good season for presents and surprises. Ask God for one. See what He does.

Leave a comment if you’re in. I’ll join you in asking!

And believe He always has your best in mind. He’s not looking for an excuse to give you a scorpion.

One last thing…if the idea of asking God for a surprise feels selfish and instead you feel you should be doing something for Him…can I lovingly suggest that maybe you’re not seeing God as a gracious Father who delights in you. Maybe it feels like you need to do whatever you can to try and please Him.

Here’s a thought…could it be you’re already pleasing to Him? And He’d really enjoy surprising you with His goodness?


Expectations of God and Life

Posted: May 20th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

20351974 s 300x176 Expectations of God and Life

Years ago, I heard it said, “Life wouldn’t be so hard if we didn’t expect it to be so easy.”

Apparently I wasn’t listening well enough. That one expectation may be the source of more of my aggravation and disappointment than anything else in my life. On second thought, there’s no reason to include the words “may be” in that sentence. Let’s replace them with the word “is.”

My default setting is to expect things to always go well. As in easy. As in my favor. As in without struggle.

Where did I get that idea from? It’s not even close to reality. It’s certainly not found in the Bible. There’s nowhere in all of Scripture where God promises a life of ease and comfort. In fact, the opposite is true. We’re promised hardships and trials and suffering.

Yesterday, we looked at Israel’s trek through the wilderness and how after a little over a year, they were whining and complaining about their conditions. They missed the food they had in Egypt. They were tired of manna and wanted some meat.

Even Moses started griping at God. He ended his little rant with, “If this is how You intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

I understand how Moses felt. Don’t you?

Moses expected it to be easier. He thought they were headed to the Promised Land. Instead, they’re camped in the wilderness. If you’re a mom of young children, you know how frustrating it can be when they’re whining and complaining. Moses had two million of them to deal with.

After making their way to the edge of the Promised Land, they send spies in to scout out the land and bring back a report. The spies tell of a great land, but also strike fear in the hearts of the people by telling them they’ll never be able to defeat the nations already in the land. That’s when God sends Israel back into the wilderness as punishment.

Fast forward forty years…

Moses says to the nation of Israel:

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 the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors 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. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

I’ve seen this pattern in my life and in the lives of others. God begins to change your circumstances. Maybe it’s a new job. Or a new relationship. Or a new place to live. Everything looks great! God has answered your prayers!

But often times, there’s a wilderness between where you’ve been and where God is leading you. And there are lessons to be learned there before moving on. God humbles us. He tests us. He causes us to hunger and then feeds us. He’s teaching us that we can trust Him. He’s disciplining us and training us for our own good and for greater fruitfulness.

My problem is forgetting that. I expect things to be easy. I fail to remember there’s often a wilderness to cross first.

Are you in a wilderness? If so, don’t lose heart. God’s at work. He’s not planning to abandon you where you are now. He’s bringing you through this difficult season to prepare you for what’s ahead, to reveal Himself to you and to teach you that you can count on Him no matter what you’re facing.


God Knows Your Name

Posted: April 10th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 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.

The Lakeside Conspiracy Amazon Cover 187x300 God Knows Your Name


Lent

Posted: February 15th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I Believe God small 187x300 Lent

Whether you observe the season of Lent or not, I want to make a resource available to you. It’s a 40-day devotional written to help strengthen your faith. Circumstances, feelings, discouraging news and negative comments from others can sap our faith. It can start to feel like God is far away and unconcerned about what we’re going through.

“I Believe God: a 40-day adventure” will help you reject the lies we’re told by the enemy and the world and replace them with the truth of God’s word. If you’d like a copy, you can get one by clicking here. The suggested price is $1.99, but I have it set up so you can name your own price. If you want to pay nothing, you can do that.

I know sometimes Lent is viewed as a season “to give something up.” So let’s give up believing our feelings and circumstances and start believing God.


What Does God Want Me to Do?

Posted: January 26th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I know what I want to do.

You know what you want to do.

But what does God want us to do?

Is there a certain person He wants you to marry? Is there a specific job He wants you to have? Does He have the perfect house picked out for you? Does it matter to Him if you live in Florida instead of Ohio? Should you just get a job now or go to graduate school?

We really want to know the answer to questions like these. We don’t want to make a mistake that will effect the rest of our lives. So we want God to just tell us what to do.

But have you noticed He’s usually not in a great hurry to tell us? We ask God to reveal His will to us and then we wait…and wait…and wait. We might wait for weeks, months or even years. Maybe you’re in one of the seasons of waiting right now. You desperately want to know what to do, but the waiting continues.

So now what are you supposed to do?

I think it’ll help to peak behind the curtain and understand what God wants even more than simply telling us what to do.

In Mark 6, Jesus has returned to His home town. On the Sabbath, He goes to the synagogue and begins to teach. Mark tells us that “many who heard him were amazed.” So far so good.

Then they asked, “Where did He get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?”

After they asked where He got His wisdom and power, it says:

Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon. And His sisters live right here among us.”

Somehow, their amazement turned to questioning, which turned to scoffing. But it doesn’t end there. Mark tells us: “They were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him.”

Mark tells us that because of their unbelief, Jesus “couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their unbelief.”

Things really went downhill quickly, didn’t they? Amazement turned to questioning which turned to scoffing which turned to being offended which turned to refusing to believe.

I get it though. I’ve been there. I’ve behaved like that. When God didn’t come through for me the way I wanted Him to or when I wanted Him to, I found it easy to question Him. And then to privately scoff and become offended. I doubted His goodness and faithfulness. I became angry and discouraged. And then I refused to believe.

You’ve no doubt already noticed that God isn’t in a hurry to answer all of your questions and just to make your life more comfortable.

So why not? Why doesn’t God just tell us what He wants us to do? Why doesn’t He make things easier? And quicker?

I believe the answer is found in Hebrews 11:6. It’s my favorite verse in the Bible.

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.

What does God want you to do?

He wants you to trust Him and seek Him. Not just for an answer to prayer or for something you want from Him. He wants you to seek Him to know Him better, because you love Him.

I know how hard it is to wait and trust. I’m in one of those seasons myself right now. If you are too, let’s not waste the opportunity we have to seek and trust God and to wait patiently for Him to reveal His next steps for us. Let’s not forget this good news:

“He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”


Harmony or Disharmony?

Posted: August 26th, 2014 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Harmony Matrix 300x225 Harmony or Disharmony?

If you’re experiencing frustration as you try to live the Christian life, it may be due to a conflict between your nature and your behavior.

In the matrix I sketched above, you’ll see that the person living in the lower left quadrant is experiencing harmony between their nature and their behavior. Their nature is sinful and generally speaking, their behavior is also. It doesn’t mean they aren’t happy at times or even much of the time. It simply means they are living consistently with their nature. Of course, ultimately they will feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied, because we were designed to live in relationship with God, and this person isn’t.

The person in the upper right quadrant is also living in harmony with their identity. This person has placed their faith in Christ, experienced forgiveness for their sin and has been given a new nature. They are relying on God for the power and wisdom to live according to their new nature. It doesn’t mean they’ve become perfect or never sin. It does mean they are in a process of becoming more like Christ and experiencing the life God intended.

The person in the lower right quadrant may be trying to live like they have a new nature. They may think they’ve placed their faith in Christ, but haven’t. They may think their own goodness or morality will please God. Ultimately though, they will become frustrated because their nature or true identity does not allow them to live the life God desires for them.

The person in the upper left quadrant is also frustrated. This person has trusted Christ and received forgiveness, but has forgotten or never understood their new nature. They have either reverted to living as they used to or have continued to live according to their sinful nature. They are looking to get their legitimate physical, emotional and spiritual needs met in ways that don’t bring fulfillment or please God.

Let me encourage you to read the passages I’ve shown in the matrix.

Which quadrant best describes you?

Obviously, we all want to experience the upper right one, where we experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. If that’s not you, it can be. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it will be easy though. It’s a battle.


The Zombie-Like Christian Life

Posted: February 24th, 2014 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

zombie 203x300 The Zombie Like Christian Life

Let’s be honest. How would you describe your Christian life?

Would you describe it as frustrating or fulfilling? Are you most often discouraged and defeated or joyful and hopeful? Do you feel like God is more disappointed or delighted in you?

If the Christian life hasn’t been working so well, take a moment and read the following three verses…

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Kind of depressing, isn’t it? (I promise this will get better.)

Here are some of the key words:

  • dead
  • transgressions
  • sins
  • ruler of the kingdom of the air (referring to Satan)
  • disobedient
  • gratifying…our flesh
  • deserving of wrath

So who is Paul describing here?

You. Me. All of us.

Our bodies were alive, but we were dead. Like zombies.

We were living according to the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air. And 1 John 5:19 tells us “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” Satan is the one pulling the strings behind the world’s systems and values, so when we live according to the world’s principles, we’re living according to his principles.

And because we had no spiritual life in us, we naturally gratified the desires of the flesh and followed its desires and thoughts. We didn’t have anything else.

Again, kind of depressing. (It’s about to get better though.)

I don’t know about you, but before I placed my faith in Christ, I didn’t know any better. Living according to the world’s principles and gratifying my flesh was all I knew. I was concerned with making life work according to the only principles I knew (the world’s) and doing whatever I could to gratify the flesh.

Then something happened.

I met Jesus when I got to college. The God who’d previously been irrelevant, changed my life. Here’s how Paul describes it…

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

But. The whole passage hinges on that one word. But.

“But because of his great love for us…”

Rather than describing the wrath we deserved, the rest of the passage tells us what he did for us, how he did it, why he did it and what we have to look forward to. All because of His great love for us. It’s worth reading it again. And again. And again. Until it sinks in.

If it doesn’t sink in, then we naturally default back to living the way Paul describes in the first three verses. That’s when life gets frustrating. Here’s why…

Before we knew Christ, we only knew one way to do life–the world’s way. And so we followed the thoughts and desires of the flesh and did the best we could to get our needs met. Things didn’t always go our way, but there were no thoughts of an entirely different way of life. There was also no internal conflict. We didn’t have the flesh pulling us one way and the Spirit pulling us the other way. We only had the flesh.

But now when we choose to do life the old way, we have the pull and conviction of the Holy Spirit. He reminds us of the new life. The better life. The Christ life. He will not let us feel good about the old way of life.

When we’ve placed our faith in Jesus and then choose (intentionally or not) to live according to the ways of the world and we follow the thoughts and desires of the flesh, we don’t ever experience true life. What we get is a zombie-like Christian life. It’s like we’re alive, but not really. We’re not dead any more, but what we are sure isn’t pretty.

Are there areas of your life (work, money, food, sex, a relationship, etc.) you’re continuing to live according to the ways of the world? Has gratifying the flesh taken priority over pleasing God?

Give Him control. Seek Him through His word to discover His ways of handling those areas of your life.

It’s time to move from undead to fully alive.


The Eyes of Your Heart

Posted: January 26th, 2014 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Not everything is as it appears. In fact, nothing is as it appears.

After Jesus delivers His first public sermon, He comes down off the mountain and a man with leprosy approaches him and kneels before Him and says, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

Immediately the man was cured.

Soon after, Jesus is approached by a centurion whose servant was paralyzed and suffering greatly. Jesus asks the man, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion tells Jesus he doesn’t deserve to have him come to his home, but if he will just say the word, his servant will be healed. Matthew tells us that Jesus was amazed by the man’s faith. So Jesus says, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.”

After this encounter, Jesus goes to Peter’s house where he heals many people and casts demons out of others. When he sees the crowd around him, he gives orders to the disciples to cross over to the other side of the lake.

During the crossing, a furious storm suddenly comes up on the lake. The storm is so bad the disciples are afraid for their lives. Meanwhile, Jesus is sleeping. Can you picture it? Jesus has been in high demand. He’s healed many people. He’s been casting out demons. He’s tired. And despite a furious storm, he’s taking a nap.

Apparently, the disciples have not put two and two together. In the midst of the storm, they’ve forgotten who they’re with and what they’ve seen. They’ve forgotten how Jesus healed the man with leprosy. They’ve forgotten how Jesus commended the centurion for his faith. They’ve forgotten all the people Jesus healed right before they got into the boat.

All they can see is what’s right in front of them. They see wind whipping through their sails. They see the waves coming over the side of the boat. They see they’re only minutes from drowning.

What they’re not seeing is the truth. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” The truth was that they were not going to drown. The truth was that they were going to safely cross over to the other side of the lake. Why? Because Truth himself was in the boat with them.

The disciples were only seeing with their physical eyes. And that will always lead to worry, anxiety, fear and even panic.

You and I simultaneously live in two realms. We live in the material, physical realm with car problems, health issues, relationship troubles, bills to pay and furious storms. But we also live in a spiritual realm. In Ephesians, Paul calls it the “heavenly realms.” And living in the heavenly realms requires we see with the eyes of our heart. Paul prays, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…”

If we are going to successfully navigate the storms of life, we must learn to see with the eyes of our heart. We will need the wisdom and revelation that comes from God’s Spirit. As Paul did, we will need to pray the eyes of our heart are enlightened. Why? Because our default mode is to only process life through our five senses and our common sense.

Walking by faith and seeing with the eyes of our heart isn’t natural. It’s supernatural. It requires we live in dependence on God’s Spirit and learn to listen to Him as we spend time in His word. It’s remembering every situation, every relationship, every problem you face…everyday single day…is simultaneously occurring in two realms.

Nothing is as it appears.

The truest thing about you and your life is what God says, not what you say.

The story, your story is rarely over when you think it’s over.

You’ll realize that only as you choose to see with the eyes of your heart.