Whose Reward Do You Want?

Posted: February 25th, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Whose opinion matters most to you? Your spouse? A parent? Your children? Your boss? A coach? Friends?

As I was growing up, I learned how to garner the approval and praise of others whether in the classroom or on the football field. And like a drug, I discovered how good it felt to be thought well of by others.

Approval and praise from others became addictive. And it came with a price.

Being vulnerable is out of the question. Telling someone you’re not doing well or discouraged or you feel like a failure tarnishes the image. And that just won’t do. The image is everything. You can’t always speak the truth. It’s too risky to tell someone what you really think or to challenge the boss. It might cause tension in the relationship and that doesn’t achieve the goal of being liked.

But living to attract the praise and approval of others means forfeiting the greater reward from God. In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about several practices the “hypocrites” used to look good to others. He said the praise they got for their righteous acts was all the reward they would get.

Whose reward do we want…the one from people we can see or the one from the God who’s unseen?

CLICK HERE TO FINISH READING THIS POST AT MY NEW SITE.


A Recipe for a Boring Marriage

Posted: February 13th, 2017 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

appetite 1238251 1920 760x496 A Recipe for a Boring Marriage

On Thursday nights, I help lead a Young Life small group of college guys. Last week, we talked about marriage and I gave them the opportunity to ask questions. “Does marriage get boring?” was one of them. When I asked them what they thought, most of them seemed to think that it did.

How would you answer?

As I write this, Robyn and I are a little over 24 hours from hitting our one-billionth second of marriage. It’s fun that it just happens to fall on Valentine’s Day. (A billion seconds is about four months shy of 32 years for those keeping score.) So here’s what I can say about marriage becoming boring…if there’s some set period of time after which it happens, we’re not there yet.

Fortunately, our marriage is more fun and exciting and purposeful than it’s ever been. But can marriage get boring?

Absolutely. Here’s a recipe for growing a boring one…

Stop growing. Don’t read. Don’t listen to podcasts. Don’t expose yourself to new ideas.

Have no goals and pursue no desires.

Put yourself first and only meet your spouse’s needs if yours are met first.

Keep your focus on how bad your circumstances are and all the things that are wrong in your life and your marriage.

Constantly compare your spouse to others.

Go to any lengths to make your spouse understand you, but don’t try to first understand.

Live for small things like money, not great things like the Kingdom of God.

Let your appearance go.

Don’t seek help for the same negative emotions you’ve battled all your life.

If you must have sex… (CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON MY NEW SITE)


Thankful

Posted: December 22nd, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 Thankful

20 Days of Believing God (Day 18)

I wouldn’t consider myself to be someone who is ungrateful.

But then I realized that I often focus on what I don’t have. What I’m lacking. What I still want.

And so I feel discontent. Disappointed. Sometimes like I’m failing.

So today I thought I’d turn it around…for once…and focus on what I do have to be thankful for. Both big and small. Here’s just a partial list…

Jesus. He loves me. He’s forgiven me. He’s for me. He’s committed to me. He died in my place.

Robyn. She’s amazing. An off-the-charts blessing. I hope I get to be married to her for another 30 years.

Rachel, Erica, Amy and Rob. My kids are such a blessing to me. They’re walking with God and making good choices.

Richard and Ross. My sons-in-law serve their country and my daughters well.

Wes and Tyler. My two grandsons are a great joy.

My health. Other than an occasional cold or headache, I’ve rarely been sick.

My friends. The ones I grew up with, the ones I have now, the ones I rarely see…

My sister. Who doesn’t think like me or vote like me!

The ministry of Young Life.

A house to live in and cars to drive.

Air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.

A pocket-sized computer I carry around that also functions as a phone, a camera and video-recorder.

Football. The opportunity I had to play it and now only watch it. What a great game!

The opportunity to write books and create courses.

Parents who loved me, supported me and encouraged me.

Readers who like my books and ask for more.

The Bible, through which God speaks, leads, convicts and encourages.

My MacBook Pro.

Snow. I love it.

The beach.

Hawaii.

The opportunity to have visited 49 of the 50 states so far. I’m coming for you one day, Nevada.

Pie. Oh, I love pie. Pecan. Pumpkin. Blueberry. Coconut Cream.

Ice Cream. Especially when it’s really hard and has some crunch to it.

Naps.

Couples who’ve entrusted me with their pre-marital counseling.

Books.

Did I mention my wife? And kids?

God’s faithfulness. Even when I doubt.

And His patience. Boy, do I need that!

The backyard swimming pool we had when I was a kid.

Getting to go to the Razorback basketball game tonight with Robyn and Rob.

God’s provision for me and my family.

Beautiful sunsets.

The aroma of fresh, hot cinnamon rolls.

Music.

Hearing my grandsons laugh.

Sex.

The anticipation of heaven.

Meaningful work to do.

So many wonderful memories.

Young Life camps.

A fire in the fireplace on a cold night.

Cold water after a run on a hot day.

The smell of freshly cut grass, which always reminds me of football.

I’ll stop there for now. I’m sure there’s a lot more I could add. So thank you, Lord, for Your love and faithfulness and kindness toward me. You’ve been way better to me than I deserve.

So what are a few things on your list?


Why I was SO Annoyed at My Wife

Posted: December 6th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 Why I was SO Annoyed at My Wife

20 Days of Believing God – Day 2

A number of years ago, my wife, Robyn, ruined the floors in three rooms of our house. It was thousands of dollars in damage. Money we didn’t have.

I won’t even go in to how she did it. That’s not important. The floors were ruined.

Can you blame me for feeling annoyed with her? (That’s the kind way of saying I was angry!)

You’d probably feel the same way if your wife (or husband) did what she did.

There was a problem though with how I was feeling. What I didn’t mention was that the damage to the floors occurred in my dream. None of it was real.

That didn’t stop me from waking up in the middle of the night and feeling annoyed with her though…until I realized the truth.

So why was I so upset? After all, it was only a dream.

Because my mind was not able to distinguish between what was real and what was not. I believed something was true, when in fact it wasn’t. The wrong thought then led to a wrong feeling.

Our thoughts are powerful and will determine how we feel and act today. What are you believing? About God? About your circumstances? About yourself? Is it true? Or do you just think it’s true?

This is key: sometimes we can believe something for so long that we just come to believe it’s true. When, in fact, it’s not.

If you don’t know the truth, then your feelings, actions and words will be based on something false. How you treat your spouse or children or co-workers is based on what you believe.

How you respond to your financial situation today will depend on your beliefs, as well. Do you believe God sees your situation? That He understands what you’re facing? Do you believe He’s true to His promises?

Romans 12:1-2 says:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

We will only experience the good, pleasing and perfect will He has for us as we allow Him to change the way we think.

So what does God have to say about you and your circumstances today? What does He say about Himself?

You need to know if you’re going to experience the life He has for you.


How to Have an Intoxicating Marriage

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

In a few weeks, Robyn and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Like every couple, we’ve had ups and downs, good days and bad days, fun times and hard times…but what’s remained constant is our excitement about being married to each other. If the passionate feelings of those early years of marriage are supposed to fade away, then it must happen at some point after 30 years together. Because we’re not there yet!

I just don’t believe the feelings have to fade with time. Feelings are the result of thoughts and beliefs. They’re the result of choosing to love and serve one another.

Maybe your marriage isn’t what it once was. Maybe you’re feeling stuck and losing hope.

It might feel like you’ve fallen out of love, but I believe you can also fall back in.

Maybe you’d just like to improve on an already good marriage.

Whatever your situation, you can begin moving toward an intoxicating love and marriage right now.

That’s why I just released the online video course, “How to Have an Intoxicating Marriage: 7 Choices That Change Everything.” For less than the price of a hardback book, you’ll discover the 7 choices you can make as a couple to experience an intoxicating love for one another. I’ve also got some bonus content for you that’s a lot of fun!

Click here for more information about the course.


The Person I Didn’t Expect to Meet in College

Posted: February 4th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Screen Shot 2015 02 04 at 2.16.40 PM 300x167 The Person I Didnt Expect to Meet in College

I grew up in Brick, New Jersey, a beach town about ninety minutes south of New York City and ninety minutes east of Philadelphia. It was a great place to live. I had great friends and loved my high school experience.

What I didn’t love so much was church. At best, it was boring and irrelevant. For me, the best part was watching the old people try to park. It’s not that I didn’t believe God existed. I just didn’t think He had very much to do with my daily life.

We attended church fairly regularly as long as my parents woke up on time. I did my best to remain as quiet as possible on Sunday mornings, hoping they’d oversleep. Sometimes it worked and I got to stay home.

After high school, I went away to college at Cornell University. The first thing I did was stop going to church. I just didn’t see the point any more. And my parents weren’t there to make me go.

Some time during the fall semester after practice one night, a guy spoke to the football team I played on. I don’t remember anything he said other than if we wanted a free “Athlete’s In Action” magazine we could sign up for one. So I did.

A few months later, this guy named Bruce gave me a call. He wanted to meet with me. So thirty-three years ago today on February 4, 1982, he and I got together at the student union (that’s it in the picture). He asked me questions about my life, my family and church. After awhile, he opened this magazine and started talking about God.

Basically what he told me was this: God loved me and had a plan for my life, but because I (along with everyone else) had sinned, I was separated from God and couldn’t experience His plan for me. Then he got to the good news. He said when Jesus died on the cross, He was being punished in my place.

There was one more thing he said to me: I had to make a decision. It wasn’t just enough to know those other things. I had to decide whether or not to place my trust in Jesus. Forgiveness for my sin was a gift, but I had to choose to receive it.

In all my years of attending church, I’d never heard that before. I believed in God. I knew Christmas was a celebration of Jesus’ birth. I knew Easter was about his death and resurrection. But I don’t ever remember hearing I had to actually decide what to do with Jesus. In that moment though in the student union, it was like the light came on.

Bruce explained I could practically express my faith in Jesus by praying, by asking Him to forgive my sin and to make me the person He wanted me to be. There was a prayer written out in the magazine, which he slid across the table to me.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of what was happening, but as I looked down at that magazine, I knew what I was about to do was really important. And so I read the words to the prayer very slowly and thought about each word. When I was done, Bruce and I talked a little more and set up another time to meet.

As I walked back to my dorm that day, I knew something was different. Something inside me was changed. I actually remember the sky being more blue. And the craziest part was actually having the desire to read the Bible and attend church.

I met a lot of people in college. Just never expected to meet Jesus there.

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:12-13)


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 Best is Yet to Come

Posted: April 28th, 2014 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Someone I used to work with was killed by a tornado last night along with two of his children. He leaves behind a wife and seven children. Others I know suffered damage to their homes.

A friend with cancer seems to be getting worse, not better, despite numerous rounds of chemotherapy and now experimental drugs.

I have several friends whose marriages are struggling.

Others I know are praying and hoping and waiting for God to answer their prayers for guidance, for jobs, for miracles.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation.

In my immediate family, we’re not in the midst of tragedy, but there are days when I feel a low-grade sadness. It’s like having a fever of 99.1. You don’t feel terrible, but you know something’s just not right. My two youngest children will graduate next month–my daughter from college and my son from high school. My daughter will then raise her support and move to Germany where she will serve with Young Life doing college ministry. My son will report to basic training for the Navy this fall. I will greatly miss both of them as I do my two oldest daughters.

I will miss the days Amy and I used to run together. I will miss our lunch dates. I will miss making my son’s lunch to take to school. I will miss all those days of picking him up after football practice. I will miss having all my children together on Christmas morning. There are many, many things I will miss.

I’m reminded that loss and sadness and suffering and death were never meant to be. They are consequences of living in a broken world.

Fortunately, we catch glimpses and get tastes of what life was supposed to be. A meaningful conversation with a friend. A delicious meal. Being together as a family. A warm, sunny day without a care in the world. The thrill and pleasure of sex between husband and wife. And actually believing, beyond a doubt, that we’re loved by God.

I was 19-years-old when I first understood that my sin had separated me from God and that I needed to be forgiven. It was during my freshman year of college that I placed my trust in Jesus to forgive me. So I’ll be honest, I don’t remember what it was like to not have an assurance that I was forgiven, that heaven was a certainty (not just a wish or a hope) and that no matter what I face in this life–God’s grace is sufficient.

I cannot imagine dealing with the loss of a spouse or child, facing cancer or enduring unmet longings without the confidence that there’s more than this life, that God’s love is real and unending. Evil doesn’t win. Death doesn’t win. Both were defeated when Jesus died and came back to life. And one day, He will return, not as a suffering Savior, but as the Supreme Ruler of the universe He created. He will come back to earth and make things right, as they were meant to be.

Sadly, for those who reject Christ’s offer of forgiveness and eternal life, this life is as good as it will get. The pain, the loneliness, the grief…those are just a taste of what’s to come.

But for those of us who have trusted Christ, the best is yet to come. For now we may grieve and suffer and long for how things were supposed to be (and will one day be), but our greatest joys and pleasures are ahead of us. Jesus said…

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)


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.


Why Isn’t the Christian Life Working?

Posted: October 18th, 2013 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The Greek word that gets translated “full” means: exceeding some number or measure or rank or need, over and above, more than is necessary, superadded, exceeding abundantly, supremely, something further, more, much more than all, more plainly, superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon.

It’s not just an abundant life–it’s exceeding abundantly. It’s extraordinary. It’s superadded. I like that one–superadded.

Is that what you’re experiencing? Would you describe your life as “much more than all?” As “superior?” As “superadded?”

Or would you say your Christian life is a little more on the mundane side? More “common” than “uncommon.” You don’t really have more than is necessary, but less.

Being honest, would you say your Christian life is more frustrating than fulfilling?

I can relate. There are times I feel like I should be further along or feel frustrated I don’t seem to experience more of God.

Could it be that when the Christian life feels like it’s not working that we’re not living in the new reality Paul spoke of in his letter to the Colossians?

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

When we placed our faith in Christ, God rescued us from the dominion of darkness. He brought us into, or transferred us into His kingdom–the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of God and the dominion of darkness operate under very different principles. It’s a totally different way of life.

For example, in the dominion of darkness, we tend to find our security in money. We find significance in our work or in a relationship. Our sense of worth or value comes from what we’ve achieved or what we have or even how we look. In the dominion of darkness, we make decisions based on common sense or what’s best for us or simply based on the facts before us.

In God’s kingdom, we find our security in Him. We find our value in Him. We make decisions based on faith in Him and what He’s leading us to do, despite what seems to make sense. In God’s kingdom, we give generously, knowing God has promised to supply our needs. In God’s kingdom, we forgive those who have wronged or hurt us, because we’ve been forgiven so much more.

I wonder if the Christian life is the most frustrating when we’re expecting to experience a supernatural type of life, but are living by dominion of darkness principles. We want an abundant, superadded kind of life, but we don’t walk by faith, we aren’t quick to forgive and we aren’t generous givers.

Jesus prefaced a lot of parables with the words, “the kingdom of heaven is like…” He’s talking about God’s kingdom on earth. He’s telling us how to live now. In his letter to the Romans, Paul said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The logical, reasonable thing for us to do, based on all God has done for us–is to give our lives to Him. But that’s only the beginning. We then begin a journey with Him of becoming more like Him. We are transformed more and more into His likeness by the renewing of our minds. That happens as we invest time in His word and with others who are as well.

How about you? Are you a citizen of God’s kingdom, but still living according to the laws and principles of the dominion of darkness?