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)


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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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?


How Not to Wait on God

Posted: December 13th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

20 Days of Believing God (Day 9)

You have a need. You feel confident God will meet it. But nothing happens.

So you wait. And wait…and wait. Until you’re tired of waiting. So tired.

After God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son, they waited 25 years for his birth. David waited 14 years to become king after being anointed by Samuel and he spent much of that time running for his life. A Savior was promised thousands of years before Jesus finally came on the scene.

We might have to wait a week for the results of a biopsy, a year to sell a house or a few years for a start-up business to become profitable. Maybe for you it’s waiting for God to heal your marriage. Or waiting to get pregnant. Or waiting for a spouse.

Waiting is a mega-theme in the Bible. It’s something we have to learn to do well.

So let’s look at a few ways to NOT wait well. I’ve tried all of them so you don’t have to…

1. Get angry. God doesn’t behave like I want Him to. He doesn’t come through for me, at least not the way I wanted. So I conclude He’s not good or worth trusting. After all, I did my best to obey Him and now He’s treating me unfairly. Anger soon turns to bitterness and cynicism. It’s a downward spiral from there. I’ve been in that spiral. It’s not pretty.

2. Get discouraged. The waiting seems endless. Things aren’t getting better, they’re only getting worse. In fact, just when it seems like things can’t get worse, sure enough, they do. Circumstances can seem so overwhelming that we lose hope. We can’t even imagine things turning around.

3. Feel sorry for ourselves. This is a subtle one to fall into. It’s a victim mentality. We think, “I did what God wanted, but I guess He’s just against me.”

4. Manipulate our circumstances. Abraham and Sarah tried this one. When Sarah couldn’t get pregnant, she suggested Abraham sleep with one of her servants. Being the unselfish, man-of-faith he was, Abraham went right along with her plan. When God has me in a season of waiting, it’s best to not take things into my own hands. Nothing good can comes of it.

5. Lower our expectations of God. This may be the worst of the five, but I was guilty of this for a number of years. After living through the first four, I figured the safest bet was to just lower my expectations. I just wouldn’t expect God to do anything for me. If I didn’t expect Him to answer prayers, bless me or help me out of difficult situations, then I wouldn’t be disappointed. I don’t know if there’s a more offensive way to view God than as someone who really can’t be counted on.

So those are the wrong ways, but how do we respond when the need is unmet and God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry?

Tune in tomorrow…


What Does God Want?

Posted: December 10th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 What Does God Want?

20 Days of Believing God (Day 6)

Last weekend, my right eye was watery and bloodshot. Then I felt a mild sore throat coming on. Then some congestion. And by Tuesday night, my eye was fine, but my throat was not. Mildly sore had become severely sore. I didn’t get much sleep that night and didn’t get much work done yesterday. Including a post for day 5 of our 20 Days of Believing God.

After a trip to my doctor, I’m already starting to feel better, but not getting a post done for your yesterday is probably a good reminder…

We can make all the plans we want, but we’re just not in control…and our plans are rarely, if ever, the point.

We can get frustrated when things don’t go our way, but maybe when they don’t, they’re actually going exactly as God intended. Maybe being sick when you feel like you can least afford it is God’s way of saying, “I’m not dependent on your work to meet your needs. I’ve already got this!” Or maybe, “Why don’t you slow down for a moment so you’ll hear My voice?”

I’m not saying God is going around making us sick, but I sure do believe He can use our sickness or failure or confusion to get through to us…if we’re open to Him.

So what’s not going right in your world today?

Did you oversleep and miss a meeting?

Open an email and discover you’re late on a payment?

Did your baby poop or throw up on you…right after getting both of you dressed?

Was it an argument with your spouse before you even had your first cup of coffee?

What’s confusing you or frustrating you today?

Whatever it is you’ve already faced, are facing now or will face later today…remember that the One who made you and loves you is never taken by surprise by your frustrating day, your messed up plans or the vomit stain on your shoulder.

So if God isn’t making all our plans succeed or making everyday go smoothly for us…let’s remember what’s really going on.

Let’s not lose sight of the simple fact that God wants you. Not your plans. Not your work. Not your promises to do better.

He wants YOU.

He desires you. He longs for you. He watches and waits for you. He enjoys the time you spend with Him. He loves it when you talk to Him while you drive or go for a walk. He delights in you. He enjoys you.

He didn’t make anyone else just like you. He wanted a unique relationship with YOU.

And He wants you to love Him and know Him. He likes it when you seek Him. He enjoys it when you believe Him…not your out-of-control circumstances.

And He invites you to experience Him and His rest today. Right now. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

That’s a wonderful invitation, isn’t it?

But let’s not miss our part, because if we do, I’m afraid we never get to experience what He’s promising.

We must come to Him and take His yoke upon us. When we do, He promises rest, He promises to teach us and He promises to give us a light burden.

To experience all He has for us, we must say “no” to all the distractions, so we can say “yes” to time with Him. Time alone with Him in His word is what allows us to learn to think like Him, to see life like He does, to know Him better so we can trust Him more.

And then what a privilege to also take our heavy burdens and give them to Him. Our financial worries. Our health issues. Our broken relationships.

“Here, Jesus, I’ve been carrying these for too long. I really don’t think I can take another step with them.”

I will never suggest this easy. If you’re like me, you give your burdens to Jesus, but take them back when you don’t see Him doing anything with them. We can know He’ll do something with them…it just won’t look like what we would have done OR when! And we need to be okay with that, because what we get in return are peace and a light burden.

So what’s ONE thing you can do right now to intentionally come to Jesus and give Him your heavy burdens? If you have an accountability partner, talk about it together.

And I’ll see you tomorrow. I think. That’s the plan anyway.


What Do You Do When You Feel Like Quitting?

Posted: December 1st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Before I get to the post, I want to let you know about my new video course, “How to Understand Your Spouse and Transform Your Marriage.” It’s on sale until the end of the week. I want to ask you to imagine what it would be like to wake up on Christmas morning, not only excited about family and presents, but knowing your marriage is better than it’s ever been and you’ve never been so in love with one another. I’ve put this course together to help you understand one another in a way that leads to seeing your marriage transformed in a short amount of time. Click here to check it out. Now on to the post…

Do you ever get to the point where you’ve had enough? I mean really had enough. Like you’ve given it your best shot, but it just didn’t work out?

Maybe you feel that way about your marriage. Or a relationship with one of your kids. Or someone you’ve been dating. Or the business you started.

And do you ever feel like you’ve given it your all, but God didn’t come through the way you thought He would? You did all you knew to do…worked hard, prayed even harder, walked by faith and anticipated God’s blessings.

And then you waited patiently. And you waited. And waited.

And you’re still waiting.

And have you ever looked around at others and wondered why things seem to be going so well for them? Why is God blessing them, but not you? They don’t seem to be smarter or more talented than you. They don’t even trust God the way you do.

And yet, they seem to be enjoying the success that keeps alluding you.

Now what?

What do you do when the doubt creeps in, the anxiety takes over and you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options? What do you do when quitting feels like your only choice?

I’ll be honest…I can relate to those feelings. And there are no easy answers to those questions.

In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah is recounting an awful time in his life. Click here to read the entire chapter. Here are verses 19 to 27:

19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.
27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
to the yoke of his discipline

The chapter hinges on verse 21 which begins with that little three-letter word, “yet.”

Things are awful…yet.

You don’t know how you’re going to make it…yet.

You’ve never been this discouraged…yet.

You see no way things can get better…yet.

Yet you can still dare to hope. Why?

Because you remember His love never ends. His mercies never cease. His faithfulness is great. He is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.

God sees you. Right now. In this very moment of fear and worry and anxiety. In this moment of disappointment and despair. He knows what you’re feeling. He understands your heartache.

He hasn’t forgotten you. He knows what He’s doing. The pain and confusion won’t be wasted.

Later in the chapter, Jeremiah says:

54 The water rose over my head,
and I cried out, “This is the end!”

(Can you relate?)

55 But I called on your name, Lord,
from deep within the pit.
56 You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading!
Hear my cry for help!”
57 Yes, you came when I called;
you told me, “Do not fear.”

If it feels like the water is rising over your head and you’re deep within the pit…call out to Him again. Do it now. He’s listening.

I know it’s hard, but don’t give up. Don’t quit. Keep going. Keep crying out to Him.

And then listen as He whispers to you, “Do not fear.”


I Think I Have a Crazy Idea

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

I think I have a lot of those. What about you?

Do you have an idea for a new business? Or a ministry? Or some other non-profit type idea?

Maybe it’s something you’ve dreamed of for a long time. And the more you pray, the stronger the feeling gets that you need to do something about it.

Does your idea sound crazy though? At least a little? Do you your family and friends give you funny looks or say things like, “You’re not really going to quit your job, are you?”

Maybe that crazy idea is what God has put in your heart to help change the world. To advance His kingdom. To meet real needs in your community.

But what do you do next? How do you get started? What are the obstacles to look out for? What do you need most?

My friend, Jeff Caliguire, and I will be hosting a live training called, “When Others Think You’re Crazy…what to do with your entrepreneurial dream.”

Coming out of this live training, we’ll also be starting a Mastermind Group. What’s that? A Mastermind Group offers education, accountability, encouragement and support to help you see your idea become reality. It will help you get better personally and professionally. It will help you win not only in your business, but at home. True success is measured by both.

If you’d like to jump in on the free live training, then click here.

If the Mastermind Group sounds right for you, then click here.


Worrying About Money

Posted: February 28th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Do you? Worry about money, I mean.

I’ll confess that I do. I really try not to, but it’s an ongoing battle. It’s become harder recently since I was laid off in November. I got a month of severance pay and received my last paycheck on December 31st.

A few days ago, I was reading in Mark 12 where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. He said, “…you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

Part of loving God is loving Him with our minds.

This morning, I read Exodus 34:14, “You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.”

Ponder that for a minute. His name is Jealous and He is jealous. About what? His relationship with you and me.

As I was praying, I watched as two birds landed on a light pole outside the window of my hotel. They kept looking up to the sky. It reminded me of Matthew 6…

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Several things hit me from that passage:

1. We can’t love and serve God and money. We have to choose.

2. I’m to be like the birds outside my window who weren’t worried about anything. They weren’t planting or harvesting. They didn’t even seem to mind the freezing drizzle.

3. Material needs “dominate the thoughts of unbelievers…”

So let me see if I can tie all this together…

The greatest commandment is to love God, which includes loving Him with my thoughts. He is jealous for me. He doesn’t want me to have any other gods before Him. I have to choose between loving and serving God or loving and serving money. And money and material needs dominate the thoughts of those who don’t know God.

So if my thoughts are dominated by thoughts about money, how can I also be loving God with my mind? Practically speaking, it’s like I’m denying He even exists when I worry. Why? Because He promises if I’ll seek first His Kingdom and live as He desires, He’ll meet my material needs.

How about you? Do you worry about money? Or about something else?

God is jealous for the attention you and I give to these other gods who can never satisfy us anyway. When we choose to take our focus off money and put it on Him, it’s one way that we can express our love for Him.

On the other hand, when we choose to worry, it’s like believing God cares more about birds and flowers than about us.


Prayer for a Breakthrough

Posted: January 30th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I don’t want to suffer. I know you don’t either.

We want good health for ourselves and those we love. We want to always have enough money to pay the bills with some left over. We want our relationships, especially with family members, to bring us joy and satisfaction. We want to be successful in our work. And we want our neighborhood, our city, our country and our world to be a safe place to live. And when we pray about something, we want God to answer. Sooner than later.

Does that pretty well capture what we want?

I’ll be honest. I don’t want to walk by faith. I don’t. A few days ago, I wrote a post on this site about seeking and trusting God. And really, that’s what this blog has been about for the past seven years. But if I’m honest, I have to admit I don’t really want to be in a position to have to trust God.

I want all of my needs met today, not tomorrow. I don’t even want to know how things will work out in the future, because that implies they’re not worked out today. And that makes me uncomfortable. And I don’t want to be uncomfortable. I know you don’t either.

That’s just not reality though. It’s not the way life works. It’s not the way God works.

James 1:2-4 says:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James is cluing us in to how life really works. And it’s contrary to the way we want it to work. It’s contrary to the way the world system tells us it should work. It’s even contrary to the way some Christians tell us life should work. We’re told that if we just have enough faith then we’ll have all the money we want and we’ll be healed of every sickness.

That’s not true though. My good friend died from colon cancer last year. He had great faith.

James doesn’t say “if” troubles come our way, he says “when” they do, we’re to consider it an opportunity for great joy. Yeah, I wish it didn’t work that way either, but it does.

We’re to consider troubles to be joy because we know that when our faith is tested, our endurance grows. When our endurance is fully developed, we enter into a new dimension of relationship with God where we discover He’s all we need, that in Him, we lack nothing.

When we pray for “breakthroughs”, I think what we’re really praying for is a quick way out of our troubles. At least that’s what I’m doing. It sounds something like this: “Oh God, please help me! I need a breakthrough today!” We want an end to the suffering today, don’t we? Have you ever prayed for a breakthrough to come in six months? Me either.

Maybe the better prayer is not for a breakthrough, but a go-through: “Oh God, give me the wisdom and strength to go through these troubles. Increase my faith. Help my endurance grow. Help me see I need You more than I need comfortable and pleasant circumstances.”