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?

An Eternal Equation

Posted: March 27th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Truth | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

A number of years ago, Robyn and I were driving through a canyon in Colorado when we saw cars pulled over to the side of the road so we pulled over too. What everyone was looking at were mountain goats up on the steep cliffs of the canyon. It was a truly amazing sight to see these animals navigating along narrow ledges far above the ground.

It was impossible to not watch and be amazed.

Sometimes it’s that way as I read God’s word. I’ve got to pull over because I’ve just seen something amazing. This week, I’ve been on the side of the road staring at Matthew 25:14-30. I can’t drive on yet.

This morning, I was thinking about the “equation” that seems to be at work in that passage. Here it is:

abilities + resources + risk + faith = eternal impact

Here’s the really cool part: God gives the abilities, the resources and the faith. We just have to be willing to take the risk.

Two of the guys in the story took the appropriate risk. They were rewarded.

One guy didn’t risk anything and it cost him everything.

Which one are you?

David and Goliath

Posted: March 25th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

In honor of the Cornell-Kentucky basketball game, it seems appropriate to take a look at the story of David and Goliath. Hopefully, the result will be similar tonight. (I graduated from Cornell in ’85.)

You know the story. Goliath is huge. He’s over nine feet tall. Think about that for a minute. Nine feet. Cornell’s center is seven feet tall. Goliath makes him look short.

Then we have David. He couldn’t even wear Saul’s armor because it was too big for him. And yet we all know what happened–David uses a sling to sink a stone into Goliath’s forehead. Game over. Cornell wins.

There’s much more to the story though. Let’s take a look.

By the time David gets to the battle line, Goliath has been taunting the army of Israel for 40 days. Every morning and every evening. That’s 80 taunting sessions.

David had three older brothers who were at the battle line. They were there for all 80 taunts. That’s 80 opportunities to do something. But they did nothing. Neither did anyone else.

I wonder how many times we let opportunities to make a difference slip by us. Because we’re afraid. Or embarrassed.

What’s interesting is how David’s oldest brother, Eliab, reacts when David asks what will be done for the man who kills Goliath. Eliab burns with anger toward David and ridicules him. Was Eliab ashamed because of his own inaction? Was he jealous of David?

I wonder how many times we take shots at someone else even though we’re afraid to get in the battle ourselves.

David’s conversation with some of the men is reported to Saul, the king, so Saul sends for him. When David appears before Saul, he says, “Let no one lose heart heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Up to this point, David has only been a shepherd. What I find amazing is the fact that a little shepherd boy is telling the king not to lose heart.

Do you know that your title or position is irrelevant? God is not limited to only using kings and super-star athletes and pastors with their own television programs. God uses ordinary people who simply choose to believe Him.

David has gained great confidence from his experiences watching over the sheep. He tells Saul that he has already killed a lion and a bear. Then David says, “…this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.”

David had greater concern for God’s reputation than for his own safety. I think I get that reversed. More often than I’d like. What about you?

After trying on Saul’s armor and discarding it, David goes out to meet Goliath. We get a glimpse into David’s heart and motives when he says to Goliath:

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

David wasn’t relying on a sword or spear or even the sling and stones. He used his sling to throw the stone, but he was coming against Goliath in the name of the LORD Almighty. The battle was not David’s, it was the LORD’s. And what was on David’s heart? That “the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”

After David kills Goliath, the Philistine army turns and runs and the army of Israel pursues and defeats them. All because of a little shepherd boy’s courage.

I wonder if we lack the courage and passion of David, because we’re just not all that concerned with the whole world knowing. And so with nothing greater than ourselves to live for, we shrink back in fear and miss countless opportunities to make a difference.

What if though…our primary focus was on God and the advancement of His kingdom? What if everything else was secondary?

What if our courage and confidence came from the LORD…whose battle it is anyway?

What if our acts of faith encourage others to act as well?

What if your courageous step of faith is meant to be the start of something big?

What if?