Moments of Doubt

Posted: September 24th, 2014 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Have you ever felt confident you were in God’s will and then later wondered if you’d made the right decision?

Have you ever had a strong conviction about something only to later completely change your mind?

Do you sometimes feel strong in your faith and in the next moment feel filled with doubt?

If we’re honest, I think we’ve all been there. I know there are times when I feel totally confident in God’s faithfulness and yet a minute later I’m filled with worry and fear.

So what’s going on in times like those? And what can we do about it?

In Matthew 11, Jesus has just finished giving instructions to his disciples before he sends them out to do ministry. Jesus then went out Himself to teach and preach in the surrounding towns. That’s when John the Baptist, who’s in prison, sends two of his disciples to Jesus with a question.

“Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

Earlier in the gospel of Matthew, when Jesus came to John to be baptized, John said, “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, so why are you coming to me?” Clearly, John knew who Jesus was and felt inadequate to even baptize Him. In the gospel of John, he said of Jesus, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

So what changed? Why is John now wondering if Jesus is the one or if he should keep looking?

Why do you and I start to wonder? Why do you and I start doubt and question God? Why do we doubt His goodness and faithfulness?

I know for me it happens when my circumstances aren’t very good, when difficulties aren’t getting better, when I expected God to work in a certain way and He didn’t.

Maybe John expected to be released from prison. I’m sure he must have prayed about it. It’s easy to become discouraged and begin to doubt when we don’t see God act in the way we’d like or as quickly as we’d like. John recognized Jesus as the Messiah, but maybe he also had expectations that Jesus would be a political or military savior as well. God had shown him that Jesus would take away the sins of the world–maybe John thought that would also mean overthrowing the Roman occupation and letting him out of prison.

So what does Jesus tell John’s disciples?

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’”

Jesus is revealing Himself to the lowly, to the poor, to the sick, to the sinners and to the humble. He’s restoring their physical health and He’s offering spiritual health to those who believe in Him. His kingdom is advancing among “the least of these.” He’s not setting up an earthly kingdom though. Not yet.

Then Jesus ends with, “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.”

I feel like Jesus is saying, “John, I know it’s hard right now. I know things haven’t gone like you expected. And yes, I could get you out of this right now if I wanted to, but that’s not why I’ve come. You know why I’ve come, so don’t give up, John. Keep trusting Me. Don’t turn away now. Your reward is coming.”

And so is your reward if you don’t turn away.


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...


The Danger of Forgetting

Posted: August 4th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Truth | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

It happened again yesterday. A young child was left buckled in his car seat while his great-grandparents were in a store for two hours. They simply forgot he was in the car.

The outside temperature was over 100. It was closer to 140 inside the car. The little boy never had a chance. Because not just one person forgot, but two.

Forgetting can be devastating.

Can you imagine how that couple feels today? And the grandparents? And the parents? They’ll never get over it.

Robyn and I once forgot our second daughter in her car seat. Fortunately, it wasn’t hot and the van was parked inside the garage. It only took us a few minutes to realize we’d left her.

As human beings, we have a remarkable capacity to forget. We forget appointments. We forget birthdays. We forget why we just walked into a room. We forget children in their car seats.

Forgetting doesn’t always lead to death, but there are other serious consequences. And we’re all vulnerable. Everyday.

That’s why in Deuteronomy 4, Moses said to the nation of Israel, “watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget” and “remember the day you stood before the Lord your God” and “be careful not to forget.”

It’s why in Proverbs 4, Solomon says, “Do not forsake wisdom” and “hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”

We forget God. We forget His instructions. We forget what He’s done in our lives.

And then we live as if He practically doesn’t even exist. We face problems on our own. We worry. We become consumed with anxiety. We wear ourselves out trying to get our needs met. We chase after things we think will bring us happiness and fulfillment, but only leave us wanting more.

All because we forget Him.

Here’s a simple test to see if you’ve forgotten God: if you want anyone or anything more than you do God, then you’ve forgotten Him.

He isn’t meant to be a compartment in our lives. He’s not an add-on. He’s not an app to amuse us when we’re bored.

He’s the point. Of everything. There is no other point.

Have you forgotten that?

The newspaper included a suggestion for remembering there’s a child in the backseat. Place a stuffed animal in the car seat. Then whenever you buckle a child into the seat, move the stuffed animal to the front seat with you. Seeing the stuffed animal reminds you have a child back there.

Maybe you and I need a stuffed animal. Something to remind us there’s a Point. And we’re not it.


Father’s Day

Posted: June 15th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

My dad died over seven years ago. I still miss him.

In the summer of 2004, he was diagnosed with acute leukemia. In March of 2005, he passed away.

He was in the hospital for a couple days before he died. His doctor’s had made it clear he only had a few days left, so he knew he’d never be leaving that hospital room.

He was weak and uncomfortable, but able to talk with us, which only made the whole experience that much more surreal. My dad, who’d always been there for me, who’d always supported me, was about to be gone from my life.

On the day before he died, he was sitting on the bed. It was more comfortable for him than lying down. He and I were talking and I said, “Dad, if you could live one moment from your life over again, what would it be?”

How would you answer that question?

Whether you’re 19 or 49 (like me) or 72 (like my dad at the time he died)…what moment would you live over?

Maybe this is a better question: Is there a decision you wish you’d made differently? More specifically, was there a point at which you felt God leading you in a direction, but you didn’t follow?

Depending on the opportunity or the choice you made, it may be too late now. We can’t go back and undo what’s been done, but it’s never too late to turn back to God and seek Him today. The Bible is full of men and women who made wrong choices, but who turned from going their own way and began walking in obedience to God.

The first step is always to completely surrender to Him. Romans 12:1-2 says…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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 only logical or reasonable response to all that God has done for us is to give ourselves to Him wholeheartedly. We offer ourselves to Him. We seek Him by reading His word and spending time with Him in prayer. As we do, we begin to think and act differently. We begin to desire what He desires for us and we walk according to His ways.

Maybe you’ve made some mistakes. Maybe some big ones. Join the club.

You can’t go back and undo them, but you can make a fresh start today. Don’t get to the end of your life and look back with regret. Today is the day to surrender. Today is the day to start over. God isn’t waiting to punish you for going your own way, He’s ready to welcome you back.

Maybe starting over will also involve an apology. Father’s Day is this weekend. Are you and your dad okay? Do you need to seek forgiveness? Or grant it?

Don’t wait. Now is the time.

By the way, if you’re wondering what my dad said when I asked him about the moment from his life he’d want to live over again, he answered, “The first time I kissed Sylvia.”

Sylvia is my step-mom. She and my dad were only married for five and a half years before he died, but they were a wonderful five years. He loved her very much and she loved him…and still misses him greatly.


The Worst Sin

Posted: February 29th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

What’s the worst sin you can think of?

Murder?

Rape?

Abusing a child?

Torture?

Those are awful sins, but what if there’s a sin that leads to those sins? Wouldn’t that one be even worse?

There is a sin that leads to those sins and every other sin. At first glance though, it doesn’t seem quite so bad. At least not as bad as the sins I mentioned.

The root sin, the one that leads to all the others is simply this: forgetting God.

Right before the nation of Israel was going to cross the Jordan River to enter the land God had promised to give them, Moses told them:

If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 8:19-20)

If we forget God, then we will find another “god” to worship and bow down to. We have to. We don’t have a choice. We will always look for life, for purpose, for meaning, for joy, for fulfillment, for happiness, etc. If we choose to not look for God to provide what we need, then we must look elsewhere.

“Doing life” isn’t easy, but it is simple. God instructs us to seek Him and worship Him only. He invites us to find life in Him. It’s what we are designed for.

But He never makes us do it His way. He doesn’t coerce us. He invites us.

And so we can choose to forget Him. We can choose to turn away and seek life elsewhere. And when we do, we invite destruction.

It’s sad how often we choose to live our lives on our own terms. We do whatever we can to order our lives in such a way to maximize our pleasure and happiness and minimize our pain. And because we must have the cooperation of others, we attempt to manipulate and control and even sin against those around us.

And that invites destruction. Marriages are destroyed. Families are destroyed. Churches are destroyed. Nations are destroyed.

The longer we do life apart from God, the more destruction we experience and the harder it is to break free. When we turn from God and naturally seek life elsewhere, we begin to believe lies about ourselves and about life. Our feelings and experiences become more true to us than what God says is true. And we end up living in bondage to the idols we’ve created for ourselves.

We thought our idols would give us life, but they were never capable of it. They promised us life, but delivered destruction.

Only God can promise life and deliver it.

Maybe you’re experiencing more destruction than life today. For whatever the reason, you turned from God, forgot Him and sought life in other places. A person. A career. Sex. Food. Possessions. Whatever. The list is endless.

The solution is always the same. We return to the God we forgot. We confess that we’ve been seeking life in the wrong places. We cry out for His help to turn from our idols and seek Him above everything else.

Change may not be immediate. In fact, it probably won’t be. We’ve built for ourselves a structure of beliefs (wrong ones) and habits that may have become very ingrained in us. The “truth” we think we know about life may in fact not be truth at all. We must allow God’s truth to penetrate our lives and reorder how we think and behave and feel.

We didn’t get into this mess in a day and we won’t get out of it in a day.

But we can take the first step today. We can turn back to the One who graciously offers real life. Life as it was meant to be. Life found in Christ alone. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life…”

The invitation to experience life is offered to you today. Will you accept it?


You and Your Life

Posted: February 10th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Last Sunday at The Church at Arkansas, we began a sermon series entitled, “You and Your Life.” We’re taking a look at six key areas of life that all of us are dealing with. We started with how to determine God’s will. We asked the question, “Am I making this up or is God really speaking?”

This Sunday, I’ll be answering the question, “Why do a lot of single people wish they were married and a lot of married people wish they were single?”

In the coming weeks, we’re also going to answer questions like: Does God want me to be rich? How can I stop doing the things I don’t want to do? And why is this happening–is God punishing me?

What’s interesting is that the answers to each of these questions are very simple. It’s basic, easy to understand stuff. That doesn’t mean change won’t be difficult. It just means the answers are simple to understand.

I’ve always felt like the Christian life is easy to understand, but hard to live. Maybe you can relate. Or maybe for you, it hasn’t been easy to understand. Maybe what’s obvious to others hasn’t been quite so obvious to you. If that’s you, you’re not alone.

In Mark 3, Jesus has been drawing large crowds. He’s healing people, answering questions and calling His disciples. One day, things get so busy that He and his disciples can’t even get in a meal.

Verse 21 says:

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Then the teachers of the law show up and accuse Jesus of being possessed by the prince of demons.

So his family thinks He’s crazy and the religious folks think He’s demon-possessed.

And yet the truth was that God Himself was right in front of them. He was at work in their midst and speaking to them, but they didn’t recognize Him.

Could God be at work in your life, but you’re missing it? Could God be speaking to you about your life, but because you’ve been too busy with other things or just not interested in what He has to say that you’re missing what He’s saying?

If you stepped back from the busyness of life…if you turned off the TV, the computer, the phone, the whatever…if you found a quiet place for an hour or two…and listened to God…what might He be saying? What if most of what’s happening in your life is really just a distraction from the few important things?

Do you remember the story in Luke 10 when Jesus goes to the home of Mary and Martha?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Maybe the answers to the most important questions about life are right in front of us. Maybe we find them when we just stop long enough to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He has to say.


Do You Ever Doubt God’s Love For You?

Posted: April 22nd, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Of the four seasons, fall is my favorite. The temperatures cool down a little. The leaves change colors. Football season begins. And the holidays are just around the corner.

In second place is summer. Hot, sunny days. Relaxing by the pool. Hanging out at the beach. Walking along the boardwalk. Family vacations. And no school!. When I was a kid, summers meant endless days of stickball and swimming. Such good memories.

My least favorite season has always been spring. Even the cold, dark days of winter beat it. So what’s my problem with spring?

Well, partly it has to do with Easter. Actually, it’s not Easter so much as it’s Good Friday.

I don’t like to even think about what happened to Jesus between Thursday night and Friday night. I don’t like the beatings or the bleeding or the betrayals.  It’s brutal and violent and confusing.

I’ve seen clips of film, “The Passion of the Christ,” but I’ve never seen the whole thing. And I don’t want to.

Easter morning is great of course. I love the display of power. I love the fact that Jesus proves He’s the Son of God by coming back to life. But to get there, we’ve got to first go through Friday.

Honestly, it’s hard for me to even understand the crucifixion and the events leading up to it. There aren’t any adequate analogies or illustrations or metaphors to point to. That 24-hour period from Thursday evening to Friday evening stands alone in time. No other day can compare to the day that…

God let us humiliate and kill Him.

It was the day we abandoned Him. Deserted Him. Made promises to Him and then broke them. The day He asked for our help and comfort…and we fell asleep.

We beat Him. We spit on Him. We whipped Him. And we nailed Him to a cross.

And He let us do it.

When Peter tried to fight with a sword, Jesus told him to put it away. Then He said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

Twelve legions? How many is that? Well, a Roman legion was comprised of 6,000 soldiers. So if He’d wanted to, He could have summoned over 72,000 angels to wipe us out. That’s only if He didn’t want to just do it Himself.

The high priest, the elders and the teachers of the law interrogated Jesus, but He remained silent. He didn’t even defend Himself against their false charges. Even when they spit on Him and beat Him with their fists, He did nothing.

The twelve legions of angels were still available as Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldiers. But still, He didn’t call for help. And not when He was hanging on the cross either.

Jesus deliberately let us torture and kill Him in the most brutal way imaginable. And He did nothing to stop it. It all played out just as He’d planned it.

We may doubt many things in this life, but I wonder if the horrific events of Good Friday were meant to forever erase all doubt of God’s love for us. The resurrection proved Jesus was who He claimed to be. It showed us that He truly had power over death.

But the self-control and humility He exhibited on Good Friday was His way of saying, “If you’re ever tempted to doubt My love for you–just remember all that I willingly endured for you.”

Do you ever doubt God’s love for you?

Just remember.


Bad News

Posted: February 18th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

I have a daughter and son-in-law who live in North Carolina. They’re a couple hours from the beach. Yesterday, I reserved a condo on the beach during spring break. My daughter who lives in California is flying in to join us. A month from now, the rest of us will start the thousand mile drive to get there.

If the weather forecast a few days before we leave is for chilly temperatures and rain–it would be bad news.

But not as bad as hearing a doctor tell you the biopsy was positive for cancer. Or not as bad as losing your job or your house or your loved one.

(By the way, don’t ever minimize the pain or fear someone else is experiencing because of bad news. Maybe their bad news isn’t as bad as your bad news, but it is to them. Bad news is relative and comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s still bad.)

So what do you do when bad news comes?

Some of us worry and become anxious. We imagine the absolute worst scenario and play it over and over in our minds. I do that.

Some of us go into “fix-it” mode. We research, analyze, figure and calculate. Somehow, we’re going to fix the problem. I do that.

Some of us may start looking for someone to blame. If something has gone wrong, then someone has to be held responsible. I do that.

Some of us get emotional and go into a full blown panic attack, while others internalize everything and suffer in silence. I do the latter.

What do you do? How do you react when bad news hits?

Toward the very end of His earthly ministry, Jesus tells His disciples He’s going to be killed and that one of them would betray Him. Jesus also predicts that Peter will deny even knowing Him.

The one you have followed and loved and served for three years is going to suffer and die. For sure, that’s some bad news.

Take a look at what Jesus tells them:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me.” John 14:1

The word “troubled” means “to agitate, to cause inward commotion, take away calmness of mind…”

I’ve been there. I’m sure you have, too.

It’s interesting though, Jesus says, “Do not let…”

How often do we hear some type of bad news and immediately experience fear or worry or panic? And yet, Jesus tells us not to let that happen. Like it’s actually a choice. Like it’s something we have control over.

Is it possible though? Is it even realistic to think we could not be troubled at the mention of bad news?

The key is in the believing. Not simply believing that Jesus exists, but that He can be trusted, that we can place our confidence in Him and know He will not let us down.

I’m not suggesting that our initial reaction to bad news won’t ever be a wave of fear. When the phone rings at 2:00 a.m., it’s hard to not panic–especially if it truly is bad news.

But once the initial blow has passed…then what? How do we react once we’ve had time to gather ourselves?

Bad news doesn’t have to sink us. We just need to be quick to remember that Jesus is still good. He’s still faithful. He’s still in control. And He still loves us. No matter what we’re facing.

His power and peace are real and they’re available. When we need them. It just requires that we believe Jesus.

Oh, if you don’t spend much time reading the Bible, so that you can actually know the truth about Jesus, then you’ll probably continue to struggle with a troubled heart. A troubled heart results from troubled thoughts. Troubled thoughts must be replaced with the truth.


Thanksgiving

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Thanksgiving1 Thanksgiving

Today, I simply want to suggest a way to be more in tune with God. A way to remember Him more throughout the day and bring Him into the details of our lives. A way to be more aware of His presence and activity in our lives.

Ephesians 5:18-20 says:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:16-17 says:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Did you see it?

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything

giving thanks to God the Father through him

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

Want to know God’s will? It’s to give thanks. To Him. Always. In all circumstances.

Can’t get too much more clear than that, huh?

Here in the United States, we’re just 16 days from Thanksgiving, a day to express our thanks and gratitude to God for how He has blessed us. Thanksgiving or giving thanks was never meant to happen just once a year though. The New Testament is crystal clear–we are to give thanks. Continually. For everything. It is God’s will for us.

So let me suggest a way to continually pray and give thanks. And let me challenge you implement this over the next 16 days leading up to Thanksgiving Day. See if you feel more in tune with God. See if you’re more aware of His presence in your life and His goodness toward you. Here’s what you’ll do:

From the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night, thank God for as many things as you can.

It might look like this…

  • Father, thank you for the bed You gave me to sleep in last night.
  • Blessed (means to praise or “to kneel”) are You O Lord our God, for giving me the strength to get out of bed.
  • Lord, I praise You for giving me a safe place to live.
  • Thank you, Father, for providing my breakfast today. Bless You for making cinnamon rolls smell so good.
  • Father, thank you for coffee.
  • Lord, thank you for clean water and for how good a hot shower feels.
  • Father, I praise You for a car that gets me to the job You provided.
  • I praise and thank You for my wife and children. You have blessed me greatly.
  • Blessed are You O God, for designing our ears so that we can enjoy music.
  • O Lord, what an amazing sunset–thank You for reminding me of how beautiful and awesome You are.
  • Blessed are You O Lord, for revealing Yourself to us through Your creation and through Your word.
  • Jesus, thank You for taking the penalty for my sin upon Yourself.
  • Father, thank You for this meeting I’m in.
  • Lord, I praise You for giving others the intelligence to invent computers, so we don’t have to use typewriters any more.

You can thank Him silently. You can whisper your thanks. Or you can speak out loud and share your thanks with those around you. Do whatever you’d like. Just do it continually.

I wonder how different our attitudes would be if we cultivated a thankful heart rather than a complaining one. How might God choose to show up in our lives if we’re continually thanking Him? Do you think we might feel more peace and less anxiety if we chose to be thankful to God instead of worrying about how our needs will be met?

Giving thanks to God. Always. In all circumstances.

For 16 days.

Will you do it?


The Battlefield is Your Mind

Posted: June 18th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”  1 John 5:19

Think about that for a moment. The whole world is under the control of the evil one. Jesus called him the father of lies. The book of Revelation tells us he is also called Destroyer. He is a deceiver, a tempter and an accuser.

You may be a child of God, but the evil one is still battling for control of your mind. He’s lost your heart, but he can still influence you by gaining control of your thoughts.

Keep in mind, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” Advertising. Education. Government. Television. Internet. Movies. Magazines. All under the control of the evil one.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t Christ-followers fighting to take back pockets of enemy ground, but on a whole–this world system is under enemy control. And the world system is ever working to squeeze you into it’s mold.

Yesterday, I spoke to a godly young woman who leads a new ministry outreach here in Fayetteville. In one of her summer classes, her professor is trying to undermine her confidence in God’s Word. It’s not an outright assault. It’s subtle. It’s crafty. It’s being done with well-timed questions and comments.

As my friend shared her story, I thought about Eve’s interaction with Satan in the garden. He asked her, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”

Can you hear his tone of voice? It’s as if he’s saying, “Oh, come on. Really? God really said you’re not supposed to eat from any tree in the garden? You don’t believe that, do you?”

Let’s back up for just a moment. What’s God up to in the world?

In a nutshell, it’s this: God is all about His glory. This is His universe. It, and that includes you and me, exists for His pleasure. He created us to live in friendship with Him. Now and forever. This life is a process of getting to know God better, becoming conformed to the image of Christ and being used by Him to advance His kingdom on earth.

Getting rich, living for earthly pleasures, ordering our lives to be safe and comfortable aren’t really a part of God’s plan. In fact, in many ways, they are in total opposition to what God is all about. And yet, this world system encourages us to pursue wealth, pleasure, comfort and security everywhere we turn.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we’re not to enjoy life. My five senses are all the evidence I need that God designed pleasure to be a part of our lives. But when I place wealth or pleasure ahead of God, I make them into idols, things to be served and even worshiped.

Back to the battle. Our most effective weapon in this battle is truth. You combat lies and deception with truth. But if we don’t know the truth, we’ll easily fall for the lies of the evil one.

The Bible is our source of truth. In it, we discover who God is, what He’s like and what He’s up to. We learn how God thinks. We see ourselves, our problems, our issues and our opportunities.

Don’t let anyone tell you the Bible is full of contradictions or errors. It’s not. Our enemy knows how powerful and liberating the truth can be, so he will do anything he can to keep you from believing it.

In Ephesians 6:12, Paul warned us:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

When someone calls into question the integrity of the Bible or mocks you for believing it, remember: the deceiver, the father of lies is trying to deceive you. Reject him and his lies.

Reaffirm your belief in God and His Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to control your mind and give you wisdom and discernment.

The battle is for your mind. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:13