Posted: July 5th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believing God, dad, father, Holy Spirit, legacy, parenting, Young Life | No Comments »
Last week, I was at Windy Gap, a Young Life camp in the mountains of North Carolina. My excitement about what Young Life is doing around the world continues to grow. The more staff I meet, the more impressed I am with their vision, passion and commitment to reach every kid with the good news that they are deeply loved by Jesus.
As I got to observe and participate in the ministry that was going on last week, one thing stood out to me more than any other:
A dad has tremendous power to bless or break his children.
That’s not a new idea, I know, but as I listened to the stories of staff or campers, the common denominator in almost every wounded soul was the damage done by a dad.
Dad was abusive.
Dad abandoned the family.
Dad was an alcoholic.
And the effects on those telling their stories were tremendous. Often, girls sought validation and love by giving themselves sexually to guys. It didn’t work, of course. It only led to more rejection and feelings of worthlessness. But they were trying to fill a hole in their hearts created by their dads.
This does not diminish the power and influence of a mom. Personally, I believe being a mom is the hardest job in the world, but as I listened to story after story of broken lives, it was dad who was at the center of the problem.
We arrived at Windy Gap on Sunday, June 24th. That would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. He was a good man. A very good man. Especially considering what he experienced from his own father.
I never really knew my dad’s father. He died when I was very young. I do have a vague memory though of him chasing me with a stick. A stick with a nail in it. Maybe he thought it was funny. As a toddler, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t laughing.
My dad once described his father as a “mean man.” That sums it up pretty well, I guess.
My dad was anything but mean though. He was loving, kind, generous and encouraging. And the older he got, the more those qualities grew.
One of my favorite memories is my dad driving five hours to see me play a football game at Cornell and then driving us both five hours back to New Jersey so I could spend a weekend at home. We probably arrived home at 3:00 a.m. He drove the whole way and never complained a bit.
No man is perfect, including my dad. He made mistakes. There are things I wish he’d done differently. But I feel very blessed to have been his son. He could have easily followed in the footsteps of his father. He could have verbally abused me. He could have disowned me like his father did to him. But he didn’t. He stood in the gap between generations and chose to change history.
I imagine that my dad’s father didn’t have a very good father either. I imagine my great-grandfather was probably a “mean man” as well. So my grandfather was only passing on what was modeled for him. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it at least explains it.
My dad stood in the gap and changed history. He could have continued the legacy of meanness. But he didn’t. He changed history. He refused to let his past define him. He chose a better path. A better life. For himself. And his family.
It changed my life. And the lives of my children. My dad’s words and actions live on.
He’s been dead now for over seven years, but his influence isn’t dead. My grandchildren, whom I don’t yet have, will never know my dad, but they will be blessed by his life. Because I was. And because my children have been.
If you’re a dad, or hope to be one, you need to know the tremendous power you have in the lives of your children. You have the power to bless them or break them. I saw it all so clearly last week.
If you’ve been wounded by your father, I feel for you. I know your wounds and your pain are real. As a result, you may be angry or depressed or dealing with feelings of insecurity or loneliness or low self-worth. Don’t struggle alone. Talk to a trusted friend or counselor. Process the hurt and the pain. Don’t stay wounded.
It’s possible to move forward and experience the love and acceptance our earthly father’s couldn’t give. God is able to heal our wounds. It won’t happen overnight, but it can happen, if we will walk with God, trust Him and believe that what He says is true, not what an earthly father said or did to us.
One last word to father’s–your every word and action is making a lasting mark on your children. Teasing your daughter about her weight isn’t funny. Ignoring your wife sends a terrible message to your children about marriage. Pressuring your son to play a sport he hates is slowly killing him. Watching porn after the kids have gone to bed isn’t really a secret. They know.
Which dad are you going to be?
The selfish ones I heard about last week who abused and abandoned their children?
Or are you going to be a dad who stands in the gap and changes history by being a blessing to your wife and children?
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4
Posted: June 7th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believing God, faith, God's love, obedience, obey God, parenting, seeking God | No Comments »
It usually goes something like this…
Parent: I would like you to get your room cleaned up.
Child: It’s my room. Why do I have to clean it?
Parent: Because I said so. That’s why.
Child: All my friends have a tattoo, so why can’t I get one?
Parent: I told you, you’re not getting a tattoo.
Child: But that’s not a reason! WHY can’t I get one?
Parent: Why? Because I said so.
Because I said so. It sounds so final, doesn’t it? The one in authority is under no obligation to explain him or herself and is putting an end to the discussion. Case closed. Just do as you’re told.
I’ve heard people say that our obedience to God should be like that. God says it. We don’t question it. We just do it.
On the hand, that’s true. God is the ultimate authority. He’s Creator and we’re creation. Creation doesn’t call the shots. Creator does.
Yes, God is the ultimate authority, but He’s also the ultimate Father. And a good parent doesn’t just bark commands at his children and expect them to salute and fall in line. That’s not the way God does it either.
In Deuteronomy 4, God is giving instructions to the nation of Israel right before they enter the Promised Land. Even though God had every right to give His commands and expect them to obey, He does something more. He explains Himself.
In chapter 4, we see the words “so that” repeated seven times…
Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. (verse 1)
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (verses 5-6)
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” (verse 9-10)
You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol” (verses 15-16a)
You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other. (verse 35)
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time. (verses 39-40)
Why obey God’s commands?
“so that you may live”
“so that…you may show your wisdom and understanding”
“so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart”
“so that [you] may learn to revere [God]“
“so that you do not become corrupt”
“so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other”
“so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time”
I don’t know about you, but those are compelling reasons. God’s commands are meant for our provision, our protection and for our enjoyment of life. But not just for us–for our children, as well.
God knew what was best for Israel and He knows what is best for you and me. The Father’s desire is to love and bless us and He knows that as we walk according to His commands, we will experience the abundant, full life (John 10:10) He wants for us.
Is He worthy of obedience just because He says so? Absolutely. But the gracious heart of the Father also explains why it is best for us to obey Him.
If you and I have an obedience problem, then what we really have is a belief problem. If we truly believed Him, we would obey Him.
If we’re having trouble believing Him, then it may be that we just don’t know Him very well. Invest time in His word to discover that He is good and loving and faithful. And because He is, He cannot even think a thought toward us that isn’t best for us.
Get to know Him. You’ll have an easier time believing Him and the reasons He gives us to obey Him.
I wrote my e-book: : I Believe God: a 40 day adventure to help you in that process. The price is only $2.99 and is available in multiple formats. If you’d like the Amazon Kindle edition, it’s here.
Posted: January 5th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships | Tags: children, marriage, parenting, Relationships | 1 Comment »
Tomorrow, I’ll begin a thousand mile drive from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Fayetteville, North Carolina. I’m moving my daughter to be with her husband at Fort Bragg where he’s about to begin training for Army Special Forces. Two weeks ago, I performed their wedding ceremony and took this picture right after I gave my son-in-law permission to kiss his bride.
This will be the second time I’ll move a daughter a thousand miles to be with her military husband. The first time was four years ago when I moved my oldest daughter to Washington, D.C. Now she and her husband live in southern California near Camp Pendleton. He was deployed earlier this week.
Yesterday, my family and I met the Iraqi grad student we’ve invited to live with us while he studies computer engineering at the University of Arkansas. He left behind a wife and seven month old daughter. He won’t see them again until next October at the earliest.
Leaving. Goodbyes. Separation.
I don’t like any of it.
I love being together and I love the anticipation of being together.
But the being together is always over so quickly. Doesn’t matter if it’s a few days or twenty years–it’s over before I know it.
It’s just part of life though.
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”
Abram, who later became Abraham, was the father of the nation of Israel, but he was a real guy and leaving wasn’t any easier for him than it is for me. Or you.
It’s still the beginning of a new year. We’re only five days into it. Do you know someone who will be leaving soon? A family member? A friend? Maybe it’s you who’s leaving…for a week-long business trip, for another semester at school or maybe it’s like my daughter–to start her own family.
Whether you have a few days or a few years left with someone–make it count.
Don’t give all your energy to your work.
So there are dishes in the sink–they can wait.
There are 8,760 hours in a year. As I write this, 117 are already gone. What will you do to make the most of the 8,643 that are left?
Posted: March 10th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: baseball, death, eternal life, fairness, parenting, sin, whining | No Comments »
I really, really don’t like hearing, “That’s not fair!” . My kids must have picked up on that, because they very rarely ever said it.
The idea of “fairness” has to do with getting what I’ve earned or deserve. Or it’s at least someone else not getting what I haven’t gotten, right?
I have two problems with fairness. First, who gets to decide what’s fair? Me? You? A committee? The government? Oh, please, not them. And second, who said things were supposed to be fair?
I started thinking about this morning because I heard a couple guys on the radio talking about a 14-member committee that was recommending Major League Baseball realign their divisions to move teams away from the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Because it’s not fair to the other teams in the division that the Yankees and Red Sox always make the playoffs.
Grown men came to that conclusion. Are you kidding me? It’s not fair?
Let’s just not play the games. Just shut it down. If baseball has come to this, then just shut the whole league down. Of course rather than realigning divisions, why not limit the Yankees and Red Sox to just two strikes when they’re batting? Or maybe they should only be allowed to play with eight players? Better yet, let’s not keep score any more. What could be more fair than that?
Okay, forget baseball for a minute. Here’s the thing–I don’t think God values fairness very highly.
Is it fair that some people are born in the United States with clean water, an abundance of food, access to health care and numerous educational opportunities while much of the world lacks some or all of those things? Is it fair that millions of women are born in countries that treat women with less value than men? Is it fair that some people are born with perfect bodies while some are born with severe handicaps?
Is it fair that Jesus was innocent of all charges, but was sentenced to death anyway?
If being fair means getting what we deserve, then none of us really want what’s fair. Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…”
I sinned. I earned a wage. It’s called death. That’s fair.
Fortunately, the second part of that verse is unfair, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I sinned. I earned a wage. It’s called death. But instead of receiving death, I received a gift. Jesus died in my place, so I could receive eternal life. That’s not fair.
If you play in the American League East, then work harder. Scout better. Practice more. Just don’t whine about fairness. You don’t want what’s fair.
None of us do.
Posted: August 7th, 2009 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: financial trouble, marriage, parenting | 3 Comments »
Day 6 of 40 Days of Believing God
I’m going out on a limb here…you’re having trouble in one of those three areas. Aren’t you?
The limb looks pretty strong, so I’ll take another step…you’re experiencing some difficulty in not just one of those areas, but two.
Still looks strong, so here I go another step…you’ve got issues in all three areas.
I don’t have any research or survey to back me up, but I’m guessing that at any one time–95% of people are dealing with problems in at least one of those three areas. 85% are dealing with issues in two areas and 75% of people are having problems in all three.
Now the problems may be big or small. Financial problems could range from not having enough money to get your car fixed to bankruptcy and losing your house. Both are difficult situations, one is obviously a little more serious.
Of course if you’re the person who can’t get your car repaired–it’s a very big issue to you. Difficulties are relative. Just because someone isn’t experiencing a major catastrophe, it doesn’t mean they’re not really struggling or under stress. (It’s a good reminder to be gracious and compassionate to everyone.)
Sometimes the length of a difficulty can be as stressful as a much bigger problem that’s shorter in duration. So there’s really no need to compare our sufferings. The point is–we’re all dealing with something. The question is–why?
I’m not going to address the specific source of our difficulties. In other words–are they the result of our own wrong choices, someone else’s actions or living in a fallen world? And I’m not going to get into the question of whether God caused it or allowed it.
I simply want to remind us of what God said about trials in James 1:2-8. Go ahead and read it first.
James actually says to “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds….”
Okay, either there’s something wrong with him or we need to radically change our minds about the hard stuff we go through. Pure joy? When I face trials? Really? Come on, James. I’m not likin’ the sound of that.
Here’s the problem I’ve had for many years–my goal is personal comfort. I want a total absence of trials. And if I’ve got one, I certainly don’t want to consider it pure joy. I want it to go away as fast as possible. Pure joy. Please. Why would I want to do that?
James said that trials test our faith. Testing results in perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work. What work? Perseverance leads to maturity and completeness–our character and our conduct begin to resemble Jesus.
What needs to change is my goal. It can’t be personal comfort, because that’s not God’s goal for me. His goal is to make me like Jesus. That’s accomplished by persevering through trials. Do I wish there was another way? Yup. Is there? Nope.
What are you facing today?
Financial issues? Maybe you were just laid off. Maybe you were just hit with an unexpected bill…or two. Trust God and persevere. If some of the problem is the result of your own spending choices, then maybe you also need to take a financial course like Dave Ramsey’s. Learn what God wants to teach you through this process. The point is to not waste the trial/opportunity to grow.
You or a family member may be facing health issues. Trust God and persevere. God can heal. He can also give peace if He chooses not to heal.
It may be your marriage, a relationship with one of your children, a friend or a co-worker. The relationship is strained. Maybe it’s beyond strained. Trust God and persevere. Let God work on you. Let Him also work on the other person. You can’t change anyone, but you, so don’t try.
God has a reason for allowing whatever has come into your life. I know it’s not comfortable and you didn’t ask for it. It’s something you’d rather He just take away. Until He does, trust Him and persevere. He is using your present circumstances to make you more like Him.
He wants you to know Him and be more like Him. That’s His goal. If that’s your goal, too, then it may be just a little easier to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
Keep believing God through these 40 days. He has you in this process to do something great in your life. Don’t give into discouragement if the way is hard. Don’t give up. Be sure to share what you’re going through with a friend and look for ways to encourage each other. WE NEED EACH OTHER. We’ll never make it alone.
Posted: June 19th, 2009 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: decisions, legacy, marriage, parenting | 2 Comments »
I just got off the phone with my oldest daughter. She’s married and lives in Oceanside, California. We covered a number of subjects, but mostly talked about marriage and family…and making a decision.
My dad didn’t have a good childhood. To be more specific, he didn’t have a good father. I never really knew my grandfather on my dad’s side. He died when I was very young. I think I do remember one thing though–he had a stick in his hand and was chasing me around a little fenced in yard. If I remember right, the stick had a nail in it. I was probably around three-years-old.
My dad played high school football. After serving in the navy, he went on to play college football. In his first game as a college player, he intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. His father never saw it. In fact, his father never saw any of my dad’s games. Not high school. Not college.
My dad didn’t talk much about his father, but once described him this way: “He was a mean man.” You can see why.
So what happened to my dad? How did he turn out to be the incredible father that he was? Sure, he made mistakes (like we all do), but I was incredibly blessed to have him as my dad. He was nothing like his father.
My dad not only came to my football games, but he once drove 250 miles to see me play a game at Cornell on a Friday night, then we drove together all the way back to New Jersey, so I could be home for the weekend. It wasn’t just seeing me play football though. My dad was generous, encouraging and supportive. He was loving, caring and faithful. He was a good, kind man.
I wish he was still alive, so I could ask him how he did it. Did he just decide one day to not be like his father? Did he decide he would be the generation that would change everything? I think he must have.
In the spring of 1987, Robyn and I had been married for about a year and a half. We went to our second Weekend to Remember marriage conference. During that weekend, I realized I was not a good husband. In fact, I stunk at it. I was selfish and was not meeting Robyn’s needs. I made a decision that weekend to be the best husband I could be.
I’m still more selfish than I’d like to be. And I fail more often than I’d like to in meeting Robyn’s needs, but I think she’d agree that we have a great marriage and each year only gets better. It wasn’t just my decision though, I’m sure she decided many years ago to be the best wife she could be. And she has been.
So what will you decide? Will you be the best husband or wife you can be? Will you be the best mom or dad you can be?
Don’t blame your past. My dad could have done that. Don’t blame your spouse. Just do what you know to do.
Decide now. It not only effects your spouse and children, but your grandchildren…and great-grandchildren…and so on.