Are You Agitated and Anxious?

Posted: October 17th, 2016 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

DSCN3437 1 760x570 Are You Agitated and Anxious?

It’s sunny, very windy and 80 degrees in Fayetteville, Arkansas today. But 7 years 8 months and 3 weeks ago, it was a different story. A severe ice storm had just hit. Trees were down and power was out all across Northwest Arkansas. Lots of trees were lost in that storm. Trees that did survive lost branches.

This morning, as I sat on our patio, I heard a loud rustling sound and then a tree branch fell on the driveway about fifteen feet from where I was sitting.

IMG 2904 Are You Agitated and Anxious?

It’s not uncommon to find branches like this after thunderstorms or just a strong wind like we have today. These branches are the result of the ice storm in January of 2009 when they broke off from the trunk and died. It’s inevitable they’ll crash to the ground. It’s just a matter of a time. All it takes is some agitation from the wind. And yet the same wind that agitates the dead branches has no effect on the healthy ones.

IMG 2910 Are You Agitated and Anxious?

In the moments leading up to His arrest, the gospel writers tell us Jesus was “troubled” and “overwhelmed with sorrow.” The same Greek word is used in both instances, it literally means:

to agitate, trouble a thing by the movement of its parts to and fro, to cause one inward commotion, take away calmness of mind, to disquiet, make restless, to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread, to render anxious or distressed

Do you ever feel that way?

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The A La Carte Christian Life

Posted: October 12th, 2016 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

As Americans, or maybe it’s just as humans, we like choices. We enjoy going out to eat, opening the menu and getting to decide what we want to eat. We get to decide whether we want soup or a salad and what kind. We can choose a baked potato, french fries or no potato at all. We can have our steak rare, medium or well-done. And if we don’t like anything on the menu, the chef may even prepare something special just for us.

To order “a la carte,” literally means “according to the card/menu.” It’s our choice. Not the server’s. Not the chef’s. Not anyone’s choice, but ours.

There’s another type of meal service though. It’s called, “Table D’hote.” It literally means, “the host’s table.” In this type of dining, the menu is mostly planned and our food choices are limited. Essentially, we eat what’s put in front of us.

Table D’hote dining isn’t worse than a la carte, it’s just different. It’s really a matter of expectations. If I sit down to eat and expect to have the freedom to order whatever I want, then I may be very disappointed by the Table D’hote experience. If, on the other hand, I know what to expect and know the chef is the best in town, then I can enjoy the experience and even look forward to whatever surprises may be served.

I think one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in life is…CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST.


My 3 Greatest Mistakes

Posted: April 22nd, 2016 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I’ve made more mistakes and bad decisions than I could ever possibly count. I could probably list a hundred or more without any trouble, but I’d probably be forgetting thousands of others.

Most of my wrong choices and failures could be lumped into the major categories of career, finances and things I’ve said.

But the top 3 mistakes don’t have anything to do with those areas. The big 3 are all wrong beliefs, which actually do effect every other area of my life. Each of them are devastating on their own, but they also each effect the other two. So let’s just get to them.

1. I’ve had a wrong belief about life.

For some reason, I got it in my head that life would be easier than it has turned out to be. I feel little silly even saying that, because on a whole, and compared with most of the world, I have a great life. And an easy one.

I’ve never missed a meal. I never worry about having access to clean water. When I’m sick, which isn’t very often, I can see a doctor. I’m married to an amazing woman. I have four incredible kids, two sons-in-law (with a third coming in six weeks) and two wonderful grandsons.

I live in a great house with heat and air-conditioning right across the street from the University of Arkansas. Robyn and get to minister to together and see God use us through the ministry of Young Life.

I could go on and on about the blessings in my life. And yet, there have also been many failures and disappointments. I’ve failed where I thought I would succeed. I’ve had hopes and dreams that haven’t come true. Things I thought for sure would work…didn’t.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:15-17)

Do you ever wish the Bible would stop sooner? I mean just read those three verses again and stop before you get to the last sentence.

Sounds pretty good, right? Adopted as God’s children. We become heirs and we share in God’s glory.

But that last sentence is just as true as all the others. “But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”

That’s not the only place in the Bible where we see the reality of suffering. Actually, it’s all throughout the Bible. Suffering, difficulties, setbacks, failures, disappointments and consequences of bad choices are everywhere. No one is immune.

And yet, somehow, I missed it. And so I’ve had this mistaken belief that things would be easy or at least easier, especially when walking with God. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. And that leads to the second mistake…

2. I’ve had a wrong view of God.

I allowed my failures, hardships and disappointments to cloud my view of God. Because I didn’t anticipate suffering as a normal part of being human and even of being a child of God, I began to doubt God’s character.

I concluded He wasn’t good or loving or faithful. At least not to me. And that wrong belief distorted my view of Him, myself and life. It effected my thinking, my emotions and my decisions.

It really effected how I prayed. Because I doubted God’s goodness and faithfulness, I stopped truly trusting Him. I didn’t pray boldly or confidently, because I didn’t want to be disappointed when an answer didn’t come.

My wrong view of God lasted for many years. And if I’m honest, it’s only been in the last few years that I’m making more of a “complete” recovery.

So what’s the truth about God?

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)

God showed His great love on the cross. Now think about that for a minute. Not only did God Himself die in our place, while we were completely undeserving, this verse also reveals the fact that the Son of God suffered. How did I miss the obvious? Those twenty words reveal God’s true character as well as the true nature of life: God loves us and suffering us part of life.

As I’ve endured some personal hardships and have been careful to not make the same mistake I made in the past by doubting God, I’ve instead made the third big mistake…

3. I’ve had a wrong view of myself.

When I’ve experienced failures and disappointments, I’ve allowed them to define me. I’ve allowed them to effect my identity. Failure has meant I’m a failure. Suffering must mean there’s something wrong with me. Rather than seeing failure as a normal part of business and life…and seeing failure as an opportunity to learn and to grow…I’ve pointed a finger inward.

I love what Rocky said to his son in the movie Rocky Balboa about all of this…

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place. And I don’t care how tough you are. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” (If you want to watch the entire scene, CLICK HERE.)

Maybe you’ve wrestled with some of these wrong beliefs like I have. If so, let me simply encourage you to keep going. Keep wrestling. There aren’t any shortcuts or quick and easy answers.

God does love you though.

And failure and suffering are a normal part of life.

And you’re not a failure just because you’ve failed.


Anticipation

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

Do you have a favorite day of the year? Your birthday? Valentine’s Day? Your anniversary? Thanksgiving or Christmas? The opening day of deer season?

My favorite day of the year is December 23rd.

Why December 23rd?

It’s because of the anticipation. It’s all those magical moments leading up to being together as a family and opening those mysterious presents under the tree. I love the anticipation, the mystery and the surprises.

There’s something very powerful about anticipation. When we anticipate something bad happening, we call that worry or fear. When we anticipate something good and right happening, we call that faith.

So what are you anticipating for 2016?

To experience the best year ever in your life and in your marriage, it’s critical to begin anticipating it.

Now I’m not suggesting that we can simply create a new reality with our thoughts…however, it’s entirely possible that whatever we’re anticipating is what we’ll see occur. There’s something powerful about what we choose to think about and dwell on. Our thoughts fuel our emotions and desires. Our words and actions flow from what we’re thinking and feeling.

And before you know it, what we anticipated becomes our reality.

So what are you anticipating? What are you looking forward to in 2016? What are your thoughts already beginning to shape for you? Are you thinking about…

Getting in better shape? Growing your business? Getting a promotion? Growing closer to God? Building a better marriage?

My passion is to help you believe God and enjoy an amazing marriage. It’s what I want for myself and it’s what I want for you.

I’m 100% convinced that as you believe God’s Word and intentionally invest in your marriage, 2016 will become your best year ever.

Do you believe it?

If you do, then you’re who I created the 25-session video course, “How to Understand Your Spouse and Transform Your Marriage” for. It’s designed to help you experience a passionate and purposeful marriage. One that’s exciting and fulfilling…and full of adventure.

Currently, the price is $97, but if you order this week, you’ll pay just $48.50 now. I’ll bill you for the other $48.50 on January 15th. You’ll get instant access to all the content NOW though. This is a special offer just for my subscribers. CLICK HERE to learn more or purchase the course.

As an added bonus, I’ll also send you the paperback edition of “The Marriage Experiment: a 30-day intimate adventure” when it releases next month.

If your marriage isn’t everything you’d like it to be…if it feels like you’re lacking passion and purpose…if it feels like you’re stuck and things aren’t getting better…or even if your marriage is good and you want it to be amazing…let me encourage you to work through this course. The sessions are short and highly practical. You and your spouse can start 2016 with your marriage better than its ever been.

Last thing…if you’re looking for something fun to read over the next week or so, I’m offering the first two books in The Lakeside series for just $4.99 this week. CLICK HERE to get immediate access to The Lakeside Conspiracy and The Lakeside Confession in either the iBooks or Kindle versions. If you enjoy mysteries with a romantic twist, then you’ll enjoy these books. Book 3 is coming soon!

Merry Christmas!


The Main Character

Posted: December 17th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 The Main Character

2o Days of Believing God (Day 13)

Recently, Robyn and I watched the movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for the first time. Let’s just say it didn’t make our Top 10 List. For me, I just didn’t find the main characters very likable. If you have a different opinion, feel free to leave a comment.

Anyway, when it comes to movies, the main character makes or breaks the story.

It’s that way in life, too. The problem I often run into though is confusing the main character with a supporting character. I’m not the main character in my story. You’re not in yours either.

The main character is God. We’re living in His story. He’s not a part of ours. It’s never been about us. As I read these verses at the end of Romans 11 last night, I was reminded of that…

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

For who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
Who knows enough to give him advice?
And who has given him so much
that he needs to pay it back?

For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

A big part of believing God is distinguishing between his role and ours. The glory…all of it…goes to Him. Not you or me.


The Chief End of Man

Posted: January 16th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The nation of Israel was in slavery to the Egyptians for four hundred years. I wonder what the Jews who were born, lived and died in Egypt during those four hundred years thought. All they knew their entire lives was slavery. They never saw God’s miracles. They never made it to the Promised Land. Maybe Hebrews 11:13-16 was written for men and women like them:

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

If you’re like me, you want trials and difficulties to be over today. If not, yesterday. That doesn’t always happen though. Ten years ago at this time, my dad was battling through the last few months of his fight with leukemia. A year ago, a friend of mine was fighting through the final stages of colon cancer. My dad and my friend would have liked to survive their illnesses. They didn’t want to die. But for them, the trials didn’t end with deliverance, but with death.

Maybe you’re battling a chronic illness today like they were. Or maybe you’ve been trying to repair a marriage or find a job or get pregnant.

And you wonder where God is and when He’s going to help.

Sometimes though, He has something better for us planned than immediate relief. But I’ll be honest, it’s hard to write that or accept that. I don’t want to suffer any more than you do or the Jews in Egypt did. My hope is that your difficult circumstances will come to an end as they eventually did for the generation of Israelites who lived four hundred years after Joseph.

In Exodus 3, God appears to Moses and says, “I am the God of your father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land.”

God was aware of what the nation of Israel was suffering. He saw. He heard their cries. And He came down to rescue them. He came down to fulfill the promises He had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

He may be coming to rescue you any day now. Don’t lose hope. Keep crying out to Him. Keep seeking Him…not just relief. Keep seeking Him. I too often have made the mistake of only seeking relief from circumstances I didn’t like. I wish I’d spent more time seeking His face. Because sometimes the trials don’t end when or how I want them to. So what I really need is peace and joy in the midst of the hardships.

Mostly, what I’m reminded of today is that life isn’t about you or me. Whether our trials end today or tomorrow or next year isn’t the point.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism is a statement of beliefs completed in 1647 to teach the doctrines of the church. The first question and answer in it is:

Question: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

That’s why you and I exist. It’s why the Jews exist. It’s why they endured hundreds of years as slaves and were eventually led out by Moses. It’s why you are in your circumstances today. And why I’m in mine. If our current circumstances persist, it’s our opportunity to glorify God and enjoy Him. If He brings relief, it’s our opportunity to glorify and enjoy Him.

In the midst of whatever you’re facing today, how can you choose to glorify God and enjoy Him?


Pulling Back the Curtain

Posted: February 12th, 2014 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Curtain Pulled Back 300x204 Pulling Back the Curtain

Do you ever wonder why God does some of the things He does? Or doesn’t do other things?

I do.

Do you ever ask, “Why God?” or “God, where are You?”

I do.

Let’s be honest, we don’t have God figured out. And never will. In fact, in Isaiah 55:8-9, God says:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

This is His universe. It’s His story. He’s under no obligation to explain Himself to us.

Sometimes that can make life painful or confusing, especially when our prayers go unanswered. We pray for things that mean a lot to us, but nothing happens. At least not anything we can see. It can feel like God isn’t listening or if He is listening that He doesn’t care.

In John 11, I believe God pulls back the curtain and lets us see what He’s up to during those times when life seems to be falling apart and He doesn’t seem to be showing up.

Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, is sick. So naturally, his sisters, Mary and Martha, send word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” That’s a really interesting way to talk about someone. “The one you love.” Obviously, there’s a special friendship there.

Naturally, the sisters, just as you and I would, expect Jesus to come and heal their brother. That’s not what Jesus does though. Instead, He pulls back the curtain for us and gives us a glimpse into the spiritual realm. He lets us see He’s up to something far bigger than just healing someone. In verse 4, Jesus says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.”

Jesus pulls back the curtain with the words “so that.” What’s really going on here? The sickness will not end in death “so that God’s son may be glorified through it.” With that being the primary mission, what happens next in verses 5 and 6 makes sense…

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days…”

The whole story hinges on the word, “So.” Lazarus is sick. He’s loved by Jesus. His sisters, Mary and Martha, are loved by Jesus. “So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, Jesus immediately departed for Bethany.”

No, that’s not what happens. Jesus doesn’t immediately depart. He waits. For two days.

Two days may not seem like very long, but it is when someone you love is dying before your eyes. It’s a long time when you’re crying out for God’s help, but no answer appears. Most likely, you’ve prayed for something for much longer than two days. Maybe it’s been two months. Or two years. Or ten.

When the answer we want doesn’t come or doesn’t come quickly, it’s easy to lose heart, isn’t it? It’s easy to give up. Sometimes we begin to question God’s love and goodness. I’ve done that. I’ve doubted Him. And I’ve gotten angry. I’ve allowed disappointment with life to become disappointment with God.

But behind the circumstances you and I are facing, there’s always something bigger going on. The big story is God’s glory. When God shows up by either changing our circumstances or giving us the peace and endurance to keep going…He is glorified. Those around us get to see God at work.

The story of Lazarus continues though and we get to see the curtain pulled back again.

When Jesus gets ready to leave for Bethany, He tells His disciples, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”

He does it again. He pulls back the curtain and lets us see what’s really going on. He says He’s glad He wasn’t there to heal Lazarus, so that they would believe.

When you and I face painful or confusing circumstances, when life throws more at us than we think we can handle, let’s remember God is at work growing our faith. He wants us to see Him at work so our capacity to trust Him grows.

God sees your situation. He knows the desire of your heart. He’s aware of the unmet need. He’s not unconcerned. He loves you deeply. So…maybe He hasn’t answered your prayer yet…or in the way you wanted Him to, so that He will be glorified and so that you will believe. Will God always answer the way we want? No, but when He doesn’t, we still have the promise of His peace.

Whatever you’re facing today…remember to pull back the curtain and take a peek at what God is up to.


Family Reunion

Posted: January 30th, 2014 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a family reunion. I think the last one was about twenty-five years ago. Since both of my parents have passed away, I haven’t done a very good job of staying in touch with my extended family.

My mom’s side of the family is spread out now. My dad’s side of the family is mostly in Pennsylvania. Robyn and I have lived in Arkansas for the past twenty-five years, which has made it difficult to visit family or attend reunions.

Two of my children, Rachel and Erica, are already married and live far enough away that we don’t see them very often. My daughter, Amy, is about to graduate from college and is most likely headed to Europe to serve with Young Life for a few years. And my son will soon be enlisting in the Navy. It’s not like I’ll never see my children again, but it’s not the same as when they were little.

A number of years ago, it occurred to me that up until a child graduates from high school, you see him or her almost every day of their life. But after they graduate, there are many more days you will not see them for the rest of their life. At least that’s been the case for me. After high school, I went off to college and spent very little time in my hometown after that.

I think it’s good and healthy to establish a new life, independent of parents. That’s especially important when a child gets married. Being overly bonded to parents is not a recipe for a healthy marriage.

And yet, I do hope Robyn and I can live near our children some day. I want to know them and enjoy a relationship with them as adults. I want to know my grandchildren when they come along. And if I live long enough, I’d like to meet my great-grandchildren.

And that brings me to something I am beginning to pray. My prayer is that Robyn and I would be able to have a family reunion some day with all of our descendents and their spouses. I did a little math…if our four children were to each have just two children of their own and then those eight children got married and had two children each…after ten generations there would be over 8,000 of us.

I want all 8,000+ to come into a relationship with Jesus, to walk with Him and serve Him and to raise the next generation to do the same. And one day when we’re all living in heaven, I want to have a family reunion. I want to meet my great-great-great-great-great granddaughter…and her husband…and their children. I want to meet all of my descendents and their spouses. And for that matter, I’d like to meet those from whom I descended. Have you ever stopped to consider that all of us have descended from Noah and his wife? In that sense, we’re all related.

By the way, don’t think of a heavenly family reunion as floating around in the clouds as spirits. That’s not a biblical view of heaven. Read Genesis 1 and 2. Then read Revelation 21 and 22. Heaven will be on earth one day. Sure, the earth is a messed up place now, but it won’t always be this way. God is going to restore it to His original design. He’s going to make it new again, the way it was supposed to be before sin entered the picture.

Heaven will be on earth, where we’ll live together with God. We’ll work. We’ll play. We’ll eat and drink. We’ll learn and explore and discover. We’ll worship God. And we’ll live in relationship with each other.

I’d love to take a walk with one of my daughters and her daughter and her daughter and her daughter…

I’d love to grab a football and throw it with my son and his son and his son and his son…

I hope we get to have a family reunion in a meadow with a hill nearby so Robyn and I can walk to the top of it, look out over our descendents and rejoice at how greatly God blessed us.

Screen Shot 2013 12 17 at 3.27.23 PM 300x235 Family Reunion

My family...many years ago...


I Will Do Whatever You Ask In My Name

Posted: June 22nd, 2013 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Do you remember what opportunity cost is from your economics class? Opportunity cost is what you gave up when you chose one thing over another. It’s what you could have had. If you spend $3,000 on a Hawaiian vacation, then your opportunity cost may be the new deck or hot tub you wanted. When you choose one thing, you’re likely giving up another thing…and that other thing is the opportunity cost.

A number of years ago, I felt like God let me down. (To be honest, I still feel that way sometimes.) I felt like I’d trusted Him and prayed for things and He didn’t come through for me. Maybe you’ve felt that way. You’ve prayed and prayed, but nothing seems to happen. God doesn’t answer…at least how you wanted Him to.

Then you read a passage like the following and feel angry or cynical rather than excited or hopeful:

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

For a while now, I’ve tended to skim over those words, which is a nice way of saying I haven’t believed them. I’ve been like the person whose heart was broken by a lover and chooses to never fall in love again. If I don’t get my hopes up, if I don’t expect too much, then I can’t be disappointed again.

And that type of thinking carries a very high opportunity cost with it. In other words, what prayers might God have answered had only I asked?

As I read those verses again today, I was struck by several things…

The Greek word that gets translated “very truly” is identical to the Hebrew word, which is also identical to the English word. The word is “Amen.” In fact, Jesus uses the same word twice at the beginning of the sentence. “Amen Amen…” When used at the beginning of a sentence, it’s translated as we see it here, “Very truly.” When used at the end of a sentence, it means, “so be it” or “may it be fulfilled.” Jesus makes it clear that what He’s about to say is the truth, something we can count on.

Jesus then says “whoever.” Whoever. That means me. That means you. It’s not a select group of special people, it’s whoever believes in Jesus. They will do even greater things than He did. How could that be? Jesus says it’s because He’s going to the Father. So how does that help us? Jesus will intercede for us (Romans 8:34) and He will send the Holy Spirit to live in us (John 14:16), to help us and empower us.

Then Jesus gives us the reason He’ll give us what we ask for…so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. It’s not to make us rich. Or more comfortable. Or to give us lives free of difficulties and pain. It’s so that God is glorified. One definition of glorify is “to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged.” When our prayers are answered, God’s worth is made known.

Twice Jesus says we can ask for anything in His Name and He will do it. So what does that mean? In His Name. It’s to pray for what Jesus would pray for. It’s to pray for His will. Not ours. And that’s the hard part, isn’t it? To pray for what Jesus wants, not what we want. Sometimes (or is it most of the time?) it’s hard to know the difference. It’s easy to confuse our own desires with what we think Jesus desires.

If our prayers go unanswered and cause more frustration and disappointment than joy and hope, then it’s a good sign we’re not praying in the name of Jesus…we’re praying in our own name, for what we want. The answer isn’t to quit praying, it’s to seek God with serious effort (Hebrews 11:6) so we know Him better and have a better sense of His will and His ways. So we’ll know how to pray in His Name.

So let me ask you a question. Are you willing to believe Jesus is telling the truth when He says He will give you whatever you ask for in His Name? I fear the opportunity cost is far too high to not believe.


The Vine and the Branch

Posted: April 11th, 2013 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Yesterday, we talked about taking a spiritual fitness test. If we’re honest, most of us would say we’re not doing as well as we’d like to do. At least that’s what I’d say. I’d always like to be further along. I’d like to bear more fruit. I’d like to be less tempted by the same old sins. I’d like to know God better than I do.

Can you relate?

Today, let’s look at the only way we’ll ever truly make progress in the Christian life. The “secret” is found in John 15. You can read the whole chapter here. We’re just going to look at one verse though. Verse 5 says:

“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.

It’s really that simple. Remaining in Jesus results in a life that bears much fruit.

The secret isn’t working harder or longer. It’s not trying harder. It’s not following a list of rules.

The secret is to remain in Jesus. So how do we do that?

Let’s take a look at a few passages that might help…

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… (Matthew 6:33)

When asked which commandment was the most important, Jesus said:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Let’s not ever lose sight of this very simple truth: God is a person who wants to be loved and sought after.

He doesn’t need our love or attention. He doesn’t need us for anything. But He does want us. He wants us to love Him and seek Him and make Him our top priority. He wants us to surrender total control of our lives to Him. That’s what it means to remain in Him–surrendering to Him and loving and seeking Him.

Then as we remain in Him, we bear much fruit as He produces His life in us and through us and we become more like Him.

Apart from Him, we can do nothing.

It’s a very simple concept. It’s just not easy to practice. Naturally, we don’t want to surrender. We want to maintain control over our lives. We think we know what’s best for us. We’re not always convinced God is looking out for us. And so we assume control and go our own way…which always results in less fruit, less of the life we really want.

If you’re not happy with where you are, if you’re continuing to struggle with sin, if life seems void of joy and peace and purpose…then it’s time to get reattached to the vine. And then remain there by seeking Him. Remain there by making your love relationship with Christ more important than anything else.

The branch just remains and bears whatever fruit the vine produces.