Posted: January 25th, 2013 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believe in Jesus, believing God, delight yourself in the Lord, Difficulties, God's word, pain and suffering, priorities, seeking God, sex | No Comments »
Why are you here? On earth, I mean. Why do you exist?
If the atheist is right, then questions of meaning or purpose are irrelevant. If the universe exists purely by chance, then you and I have no purpose. Of course, we could each assign a purpose to our own lives, but there’s nothing beyond that. There’s no higher purpose. Without God, we exist by accident and ultimately have no meaning.
Have you ever wondered why famous or wealthy people commit suicide? They seemingly have it all–money, houses, cars, vacation, jewelry, power and popularity. And yet, some choose to end their own lives or waste away consumed by drugs or alcohol. Without a purpose and significance, I’m left with two choices–end my life or numb my life. Without a genuine purpose in life, without true meaning, our lives are empty.
But if God created this life and knows how it should be lived, then there’s a third option: I can align my life with the truth. I can choose to believe God and live according to His purposes and plan for my life.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he begins by writing “to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
A saint isn’t someone who has lived an exemplary life or performed a miracle of some sort. A saint is someone who has been set apart by God for His purposes. If you have placed your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, then you are a saint. You have been set apart from the world system, from your former way of life, from the bondage of sin and from the power of Satan. God has assigned meaning and significance to your life. He has a plan for you.
Is it possible to miss God’s purposes and plan for our lives? Absolutely. When we continue to live according to the world’s plan, then we miss out on what God says is true and all He wants to do in and through us. The world’s plan is easy to identify. It is primarily concerned with the accumulation of material wealth and possessions, maximizing pleasure and/or giving my life away to a someone or something other than Jesus. Ultimately, the world’s way of doing life comes down to this–does whatever I’m doing make me happy?
What do you desire most? What are you passionate about? What do you spend your time and money on? The answers to those questions will help you figure out whether you’re living for God’s purposes or your own.
The truth is this: God calls us saints. He says we are set apart for His purposes and plans.
Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Real life is found in a relationship with God through Jesus. And as we walk with Him through life, we discover the work He has for us to do. Meaning, happiness, peace and fulfillment come as a result of living our lives aligned with God’s purposes and plans for us.
You are a saint. God has set you apart. He has given meaning to your life. If life often feels busy or hectic or meaningless or ordinary, then be sure you’re aligned with God’s truth. Are you making your relationship with Him your number one priority? And are you seeing your life and family and work as an opportunity to serve Him and reflect His glory and goodness to those around you?
You are a saint. And you can begin living like one today.
Posted: January 23rd, 2013 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believe in Jesus, believing God, faith, God's word, marriage, money, Relationships, sex, sin | No Comments »
When I was growing up, my mother made me go to church. Fortunately, it was only an hour on Sunday morning. No Sunday nights. No Wednesday nights. No youth group. Just one hour on Sunday. Going to church seemed like a good thing to do, but as far as it actually being relevant to the rest of my life…it wasn’t. So I didn’t like going. At all. I didn’t have a problem with God. He just seemed irrelevant.
Then during my freshman year at Cornell University, I met a guy who connected the dots for me. He explained that God loved me and had a plan for my life, but there was a barrier between God and me, a barrier the Bible calls “sin.” This barrier was preventing me from experiencing God both now and forever. The good news was that Jesus died in my place and paid the penalty for my sin.
I had earned death, but instead, Jesus offered me the gift of life. That’s grace.
So the ball was in my court. It wasn’t just enough to know these things; I had to make a decision. Would I receive the gift of forgiveness Christ offered?
It all made sense to me on that winter day in February of 1982. So in the student union at Cornell, I placed my trust in Jesus to forgive my sin and make the person He wanted me to be.
As I walked back to my dorm that day, I distinctly remember the grass being greener and the sky being bluer. Something was different. Something had changed.
What actually happened to me that day? What caused me to even see the grass and the sky differently?
In the letter Paul wrote to the Colossians, he said, “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.”
The phrase “brought us into” literally means we were transferred or removed from one place and put in another. We were under the power, the influence, the dominion of darkness. As Paul says in the letter to the Ephesians, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
The key word is “were.” We were in the dominion of darkness. We were dead in sin.
But if you have placed your faith in Jesus, you are no longer in that dominion. You have been made alive with Christ. You have been transferred to God’s kingdom. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 2:6)
What happened to me that day? Spiritually, I came alive for the first time. I was no longer in the kingdom of darkness. I was no longer relating to this world only as a physical being. I was simultaneously living in a spiritual realm, a heavenly realm. And there are things true of us in the spiritual realm, which will effect our lives here in the physical realm. Once we have placed our faith in Jesus, life is played by new rules.
But if we don’t understand the new rules or even know they exist, we will continue to live as if we were still dead in our sin, living in the dominion of darkness. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore what it means to be transferred into a new kingdom and what it means to have a new set of truths and laws to live by.
So if the Christian life hasn’t really been working for you, if you can’t shake the feeling that there’s “something missing,” then stay tuned. Learning and living by the truth will revolutionize every area of your life–your thoughts and emotions, your work, your finances and your relationships.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)
Posted: October 5th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: marriage, romance, sex | No Comments »
Are you contributing to the health or death of your marriage?
Would your spouse agree? Are you sure?
Sadly, many husbands and wives have no idea they are slowly killing their marriages. And often they don’t find out until it’s too late.
Most couples want a better marriage. They just don’t always act like it. Instead, they fail to see how their words and actions are responsible for the slow, painful death of their marriage.
Do you know which behaviors are pushing your spouse to the breaking point?
Why not find out before it’s too late?
I released my new e-book yesterday. It’s available on Amazon if you’re interested. Click here to buy it for just $2.99.
Posted: August 17th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believing God, forgiveness, grace, Holy Spirit, marriage, sex, sin, trials | 2 Comments »
A man and a woman meet. They like each other and soon begin dating. There’s some real chemistry and things start to get serious. It’s not long before they’re talking about marriage.
She’s attracted to him because he’s so attentive to her. He asks her questions and actually listens to her answers. She loves their long talks. When they can’t be together, he’ll talk on the phone with her for hours. He sends her text messages throughout the day to say how much he misses her and how he can’t wait to see her. She loves how he buys her presents for no reason and how he’s always leaving encouraging notes around her apartment.
He’s also not afraid to talk about his relationship with God and how important it is to him. He even prays with her.
She knows he’s not perfect, but as far as she’s concerned, he’s pretty close. She figures if it’s this good while they’re dating, then it can only get better once they’re married.
He’s attracted to her for different reasons. First, she enjoys watching him play flag football. And she likes hanging out with him while he plays video games. She even cooks for him, cleans his kitchen and does his laundry whenever she’s at his apartment. Once in awhile she’ll comment about how messy he is, but he knows she’s only teasing.
He also loves the fact that she’s excited about sex. While they’ve been dating, he’s tried to take things further than she wanted, but she keeps saying she’s committed to waiting until they’re married. He’s okay with that because from everything she’s said, he knows their sex life will be fun, frequent and fulfilling.
Fast forward two years. They’ve now been married for nine months.
It’s Sunday afternoon and he’s heading out the door to play football. As he’s getting in his car, she says, “Seriously? You’re going to play football? You couldn’t get up for church, but you have time for football? Besides, I thought we said we were going to spend the day together?”
“Come with me,” he says. “We can grab something to eat after the game.”
She slams the door and watches him drive off. She can count on one hand the number of times they’ve been to church together.
He has a great time with the guys, but also loses track of time, so he doesn’t get home until almost 7:00 p.m. He finds his wife in the bathroom, leaning over the tub scrubbing it. He gives her a playful slap on her butt and says, “Hey babe, what’s for dinner? I’m starving!”
While still bent over the tub, she slowly turns her head to look at him. He’s never been accused of being the sharpest guy around, but even he knows something is wrong. Her eyes look more like death rays. Her lips are closed tight. And it looks like she might actually be biting her tongue. She glares at him for a moment and then goes back to scrubbing.
They don’t speak to each other the rest of the night.
She goes to bed at 9:00. He had hoped they might have sex, but that’s out of the question. Of course that’s nothing new. It’s usually out of the question. He can count on one hand the number of times they’ve had sex in the past few months.
This day, nine months into marriage, is the beginning of the end. Six months later, they’ll be divorced.
So what went wrong?
It was the bait and switch. You know the game–a retailer advertises a low-priced product knowing there are only two in stock. Once in the store, the salesperson tries to sell the customer a more expensive item. Or a hotel offers a great online rate, but at check-in, the guest is charged a mandatory “resort fee.”
We thought we were getting a great deal, but got taken instead. Bait and switch.
It happens in marriage, too. Someone thinks their spouse will be what they “advertised” (the bait), but not long into marriage, the switch occurs.
He’s no longer interested in his relationship with God.
She doesn’t see what the big deal is when it comes to sex. She figured he’d just get over it.
He’s really not into long talks like she thought he was.
And the cute habits he had when they were dating are now just really annoying to her.
If you’re not yet married–you need to be sure your future spouse is really who they appear to be. Now isn’t the time to have blinders on. Ask your friends what they see that maybe you’re missing. And don’t think you’re going to be able to change your spouse once you’re married. If you have concerns now, you’re going to have regrets later.
If you are married, you owe it to your spouse, yourself and to God, to be the person you represented yourself to be. Don’t be guilty of bait and switch. If you are not committed to meeting your spouse’s needs, you are committing fraud. You took vows to enter into a covenant with your spouse–to put his or her needs before your own, to remain faithful until one of you dies.
If you’re doing all you know to do and your spouse isn’t, I’m sorry. I know it’s a hard, disappointing, painful place to be. I wish I had an easy answer, but I don’t. Continue to do what’s right. Continue to love your spouse. Be committed to meeting their needs. And know that it will require God’s strength and wisdom.
If you’re the spouse who’s committing fraud, then you’ll also need God’s strength and wisdom to repair the damage that’s been done. If you start today, maybe it’s not too late.
Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe, believe in Jesus, believing God, confusion, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, fear God, God's character, God's love, God's word, grace, Holy Spirit, Jesus, marriage, money, pain and suffering, prayer, priorities, Relationships, seeking God, sex, sin, trials, Truth, worry | 1 Comment »
- What if God wants to tell you something really important about the next step in your life, but you can’t hear Him because of all the noise?
- What if you exchanged the amount of time you currently spend on your phone, laptop and television with the amount of time you read the Bible and talk to God?
- What if God meant everything He said?
- What if that thing you believe about yourself isn’t true?
- What if freedom isn’t found in doing whatever you want, but in obeying God?
- What if you made it your goal to meet as many of your spouse’s needs and wants as you can…starting today?
- What if you took a big risk to advance God’s kingdom?
- What if heaven is going to be a lot like the absolute best day on earth you can possibly imagine…only a million times better and minus any pain, sin, conflict or difficulties?
- What if your word of encouragement is the only thing that will give someone the hope to keep living?
- What if God is a lot more interested in your response to problems than in getting you out of them?
- What if the same God who did all those miracles in the Bible lives inside you and wants to help you?
- What if you treated your family the way you want to be treated?
- What if how your child treats others is more important than getting an “A” on a test?
- What if God is crazy in love with you?
- What if your current level of obeying God never changes–where will you be in ten years?
- What if God said He was going to bless you financially in proportion to how generous you’ve been lately–would you be excited or disappointed?
- What if you don’t need to worry because God has things figured out?
- What if you’re going to come under spiritual attack and your only defense is believing the truth–how well-armed are you?
- What if someone in the Bible faced the same problems you are and you could learn from that person how to (or not to) handle them?
- What if God treated you the way you treat your spouse?
- What if you don’t have something because you haven’t asked God or if you have asked, you’ve asked with wrong motives?
- What if “fearing God” doesn’t just mean respecting Him or being in awe of Him?
- What if God invented sex and His guidelines for it were for our good, not to rob us of a good time?
- What if the negative emotions (fear, worry, anxiety, etc.) you’re feeling are signal that you’ve got a wrong belief about God or yourself?
- What if almost everything in the world is a distraction to keep you from experiencing life in Christ?
Posted: March 21st, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: God's word, husband, marriage, seeking God, sex, wife | No Comments »
When I was a kid, I loved watching C-SPAN. In particular, I loved watching the speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives. Yes, I know how geeky that sounds.
One of the things the Representatives would always say is, “I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.” I take that to mean, “I might change my mind, so don’t hold this against me.”
In that spirit, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks when it comes to teaching on marriage. Robyn and I have been married for almost 27 years and by implementing the teaching I’ll share below, we are experiencing some profound and even mysterious changes in our relationship. Our relationship is more thrilling and fulfilling than at any point in our marriage.
And yet I know we don’t understand everything and there’s still so much more to learn. So join us in the journey…
Genesis 2:18 says: The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Even after pronouncing all of creation “good,” God reveals that something is not good. It’s not good for the man to be alone. Even though Adam had an unhindered relationship with God, but God Himself says it’s not enough. So He chooses to create a woman through whom He would meet some of the man’s needs.
It’s unfortunate that the Hebrew words for “helper suitable” don’t translate any better than that. It makes the woman sound like an assistant to the man. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Maybe the best way to understand this phrase is to know that the Hebrew words being used here for “helper suitable” twice refer to the woman God was creating for Adam and 19 times to refer to God Himself and His role over the nation of Israel.
Think about that for a minute. God intentionally chooses to use the same language to describe a wife that He uses to describe Himself. That’s huge! The woman is not less than the man. She’s not the man’s assistant. She’s every bit his equal. Her role is even equated with God’s role. Again, those aren’t my words, they’re His.
Something big is going on here. Really big. There are very powerful, mysterious forces at work in this relationship between a man and a woman.
Now jump to Proverbs 31:10-12 with me…
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
Again, it’s unfortunate how verse 10 gets translated. The Hebrew word for “noble character” actually means: “strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army.”
It sure seems that God had something more in mind than just “noble character.” Not that noble character is a bad thing, but I think we’ve missed something in the translation from Hebrew to English. What if the good thing to find is a wife who has the strength of an army?
Verse 11 says he has “full confidence” in her. This Hebrew word can also be translated: “to trust in, to feel secure, to feel safe.” When a husband finds a wife who is strong and one whom he can trust with his life, then he experiences good from her, not harm. Do you feel the power in that? The power for good? The potential power for harm?
Let’s look at the New Testament now. In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul is giving instructions to husbands and wives. It’s a passage that has been badly misunderstood and used by men to exercise control over their wives. And that’s sad, because when understood properly and taken in context with the rest of the Bible–it leads to a joy-filled, exciting marriage.
Paul instructs wives to submit to their husbands and husbands are instructed to love their wives just as Christ loved the church, but then he drops this on us, “This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
So the wife is to submit to the leadership of her husband, just as she would to Christ, by willingly placing herself under his care and protection. God then uses her husband to love her and lead her and bless her.
A husband is to love his wife by laying down his life for her just as Christ did for the church. He puts her needs above his own. He helps her become all she is meant to be. He nurtures and cares for her just as he would do for himself.
And when a husband and wife live that way–it’s a profound mystery. It’s an image of Christ’s relationship with the church. And that’s where we begin to see very powerful forces at work. The marriage relationship is unlike any other. Marriage alone can give us a picture of how God relates to His people.
The goal of marriage is oneness–two people becoming one. No wonder it can sometimes be so difficult and even volatile. Two very different people. Broken people. Coming together to be one. It can be the best of times or the worst of times.
The best of times when we do it God’s way. The worst of times when we don’t.
This kind of relationship only works when both the husband and wife are committed to knowing and loving God above everyone and everything else. It can’t work any other way. Marriage was God’s idea. It’s a spiritual relationship. It’s a profound mystery. It gives us a picture of God’s relationship with His people. How could we ever think it would work without God at the center of it and of our lives?
Can you see the incredible potential of marriage when done God’s way?
The wife submits to her husband and the husband loves his wife by giving up his life for her. He sacrifices for her to meet her needs before his own and works to help her become all she was designed to be while at the same time placing his trust in her. She takes seriously his trust and her role, knowing that she alone has been placed in his life by God to meet needs no one else can meet and to do him good, not harm all the days of her life.
Once again, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks…
Posted: February 29th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believe in Jesus, believing God, discouragement, God's word, Holy Spirit, Jesus, marriage, money, Relationships, remembering, seeking God, sex, sin, Truth | No Comments »
What’s the worst sin you can think of?
Abusing a child?
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?
Posted: January 19th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, faith, God's word, marriage, seeking God, sex, worry | No Comments »
Have you ever been feeling fine one minute and the next minute you feel anxious or worried or at least a little unsettled?
Does that happen to you? It does to me.
My feelings or mood can change in an instant without any apparent change in my circumstances. One moment I’m fine. The next moment I’m fed up with it all.
Peace gives way to worry.
Contentment turns to restlessness.
Joy fades and is replaced by gloom.
And this can all happen in just about the blink of an eye. But why? What can cause my feelings to change so quickly?
It’s my thoughts. My thoughts are what can change so quickly. And they have a wide-open, direct path to my feelings. Thoughts create feelings.
It’s easy to verify this. Just watch a scary movie. It’s late at night. The babysitter is alone in the house. She’s watching the news and learns a murderer has escaped from a nearby prison. Then the power goes out and she hears a noise. She quietly makes her way to the kitchen and discovers the door has blown open.
How are you feeling as you watch? Nervous? How would you feel if you were watching the movie while all alone…late at night…while babysitting? Anxious? Scared?
The movie is acting as a stimulus, which is producing a response of certain feelings in us.
Or is it?
The movie is the stimulus, but there’s a step in the process before we get to the feelings response. And that missing step is our thoughts about what we’re seeing on the screen.
As we watch, we begin to invest in the character. We wonder (think about) what will happen next? We start to anticipate the murderer showing up and breaking into the house. Our imagination (mind) starts to take over.
And those thoughts produce feelings of nervousness or fear.
Want your feelings to change? Just change your thoughts. Easier said than done, I know. But it is possible. It can be done. God wouldn’t give us a command like, “Do not be anxious about anything…” if it wasn’t somehow possible to obey it.
That passage in Philippians 4 goes on to say, “…but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” How do we deal with anxious feelings? We pray. We offer God our thanksgiving. We present our requests to Him. In other words, we believe God, know that what He says is true and then take action.
And then Paul writes, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Read the rest of the passage to see what else Paul says about thinking.
We can’t change our feelings unless we change our thoughts. And changing our thoughts isn’t very easy unless we also change our actions. And changing our actions will almost always require faith. We must believe God.
So how might this play out in marriage? Maybe for a husband who says, “I’ve fallen out of love with my wife. The spark is gone.”
What would you tell him?
Some people would suggest counseling. And that may be very helpful.
Some would jump to getting a divorce. You’re not happy? Get out. Get on with your life.
But what if the feelings are just a symptom? What if the real problem is a wrong thought? And what if the way to begin correcting the wrong thought is to believe God and start taking action by faith?
Ephesians 5:33 says, “…each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself…”
Do you think God is telling husbands to feel something? “Alright you guys, start feeling warm, affectionate feelings toward your wives!”
That wouldn’t really work, would it? Even if that’s what it meant, we’d still have to change our thoughts. If I told you to feel sad, you’d have to think sad thoughts. The same goes for feeling angry or scared or anxious. Again, thoughts produce feelings. So what needs to change is our thoughts. And those will change as we believe God and start to act in line with His word.
So what about the husband (or wife) who has fallen out of love?
If he’ll listen, he needs to know that he can fall back into love by starting to love his wife. Love is a verb. You do loving things and the feelings will follow along. Maybe not immediately, but they’ll come.
He can begin to serve her and sacrifice for her. He can put her needs before his own. He can engage her in conversation. He can take the initiative to meet her needs in the bedroom. He can cook dinner and clean the kitchen. He can prepare a hot bath for her while he helps the kids with their homework.
Will he feel like doing those things? Not at first. But we’re not talking about what we feel like doing.
We’re talking about the verb, love. And verbs are action words. Run. Kick. Laugh. Climb. Tickle. Love. All actions.
Believe God and walk by faith. Begin to love and think differently. Change your thoughts. Stop thinking love is just a feeling that you’ve “fallen out of.” You didn’t fall out of love. You thought your way out and you can think and act your way back in.
Is this easy? No. It’s going to be hard, because we’re so used to listening to our feelings and assuming they are our guiding light. But they’re not. Our thoughts are.
I know this is much harder if your spouse isn’t interested in the marriage any longer or is not willing to even try to make things work. Our responsibilities and actions are never dependent on someone else though.
We are to walk by faith, do what we know to do and trust God for the results.
Posted: January 6th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: believing God, delight yourself in the Lord, faith, God is good, grace, heaven, idols, marriage, pleasure, pleasures, seeking God, sex, sin | No Comments »
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
“This life doesn’t matter. It’s all about eternity and life in heaven.”
Do you agree?
I don’t. Not any more anyway.
It wasn’t that long ago that I would have agreed with that statement or something like it. Or I would have at least thought I was supposed to agree with it. The problem was that my heart just wasn’t in it. And now my head isn’t either.
God created us as physical beings in a physical world. Yes, we’re also spiritual beings and live in a spiritual world, but the physical part isn’t bad or wrong.
After six days of creation, God pronounced that everything was good. His physical creation, including Adam, was good. In fact, the only thing that wasn’t good was Adam being alone. So God formed Eve and brought her to Adam.
Adam and Eve, just like you and me, were given five senses that allowed them to relate to and experience this physical world. And the fact that I have these five senses tells me something about God. He wants us to enjoy life and experience pleasure. Physical pleasure in this life. And a lot of it.
Listening to your favorite song is pleasurable.
Viewing a sunset is pleasurable.
Smelling freshly baked cinnamon rolls is pleasurable.
Tasting one is even more pleasurable.
Kissing someone is pleasurable.
I just can’t get away from the fact that our fives senses are wired by God to experience the pleasures of this physical world He created for us. That tells me He wants us to enjoy it. That it might even give Him pleasure to watch us receive pleasure from all He has given us.
Granted, we can take pleasure too far. We can misuse it and we can abuse it. We can even make it into a god or an idol, something we bow down to and worship. And that’s when we get into trouble. When our desire for physical pleasure goes too far and becomes an addiction.
Fortunately, God gives us commandments that teach us how to live in this physical world. His laws protect us and provide for us. As we walk according to His ways, we discover freedom and maximum pleasure. His commands aren’t meant to rob us of fun and pleasure–they’re meant to provide it!
So will heaven be better than this life?
I used to think it wouldn’t be. I mean I knew it would be or that I was at least supposed to believe it would be, but again, my heart wasn’t really in it. The idea of floating around in some spiritual dimension didn’t really have much appeal to me. It sounded boring. Don’t get me wrong, heaven was definitely better than the alternative, but not something to really get excited about.
But did you know that heaven will be on earth? That we’ll have bodies? That we’ll eat and drink? That we’ll enjoy living in friendship with others and with God? On earth?
Read Genesis 1 and 2. And read Revelation 21 and 22. Those are the first two and last two chapters of the Bible. It gives us a glimpse of what it was supposed to be like and what God will restore it to. Notice the similarities in those four chapters.
If you ever long for what you don’t have or wish friendships were more fulfilling or loved ones didn’t die or wars were never fought or rivers were never polluted, then what you’re longing for is what used to be and what will be again…on this earth.
God created us to live in friendship with Him. Here on earth. The plan got messed up when Satan tempted Adam and Eve to go their own way rather than God’s way. But God hasn’t given up on the original design. He’s going to restore it and make it all new.
And we’ll live with Him. In friendship. Here on earth. Experiencing all the pleasures these bodies were designed to receive. And it will be better than anything we can imagine.
In the meantime, we experience life on earth and walk with God by faith. And we get glimpses of what’s to come when we enjoy a beautiful sunset or walk along a beach. Or when we enjoy a delicious meal and great conversation with friends. Or when a husband and wife make love.
Life on earth in the heavenly kingdom will be amazing, but it doesn’t mean this life now doesn’t matter. It’s a gift from God to be enjoyed.
We’re wired by God for pleasure and He’s graciously given us His word to provide for us and protect us.
Posted: December 28th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believing God, God's glory, God's word, sex, Truth, worldview | No Comments »
Who or what shapes your worldview? By “worldview”, I simply mean how you look at life, the lens through which you the view the world around you and make your choices.
For example, how do you decide how to spend your money? How do you decide if it even is your money?
What is your view of sex? Is it a pleasure to be enjoyed with whomever you want, whenever you want? Is it just between a man and a woman?
How do you determine who you will vote for? Are there any principles you won’t compromise on?
What about war? Is it wrong? Is it ever justified?
What about abortion? Evolution? Suicide? The poor? The wealthy? What are your views?
And what are the primary influences on the worldview you’ve adopted?
Maybe it’s not something you’ve given much thought, but stop for a moment and think about it. Who is shaping your belief system?
Most of us would give some credit to our parents (either good or bad), our teachers and our friends. There are many other influences though, like television programs, commercials, news sources (CNN, newspapers, websites, etc.), government, books and magazines…and the list could go on.
What’s really interesting to me is an exchange Jesus has with Satan in Matthew 4 and what it can tell us about how our worldview is shaped. Jesus has been in the desert fasting for 40 days when Satan comes along and begins to tempt Him. The final temptation went like this:
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Satan offers to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He’ll just bow down and worship him. Jesus rebukes Satan and quotes a verse from Deuteronomy 6 about worshiping and serving only God.
Did you notice that Jesus doesn’t just laugh at Satan and say something like, “You?! You think you’re going to give me all these kingdoms? They’re not even yours to give!”
Jesus doesn’t do that. Apparently, Satan had the authority to give those kingdoms. 1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
Something big happened in the garden. God had given Adam and Eve responsibility to manage planet earth for Him. They were to be fruitful, increase on the earth, subdue it and rule over the animal kingdom. When they disobeyed God and instead listened to Satan, it’s as if the title deed to earth was signed over to Satan.
Is God ultimately in charge? Absolutely. But I believe God places an extremely high value on our ability to make choices. (I talked about that in my last post.) God doesn’t step in and override our decisions every time we make a bad choice. He doesn’t do it with me. He doesn’t do it with you. And He didn’t do it with Adam and Eve.
Unfortunately, their choice put Satan in a position to heavily influence this world. John even tells us the whole world is under his control. Governments, media outlets, schools, the internet, etc.–they are all a part of this world system that is under the enemy’s control. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good people involved, but this world system is generally bent away from God.
So let’s go back to my original question. Who or what shapes your worldview? Is it primarily shaped by this world system?
Or are you filling your mind with God’s word, so that He is the One who is shaping your worldview?
We live in enemy territory for now. It won’t always be that way. One day Christ will return and set things right, but until then, the whole world is under the control of the evil one. And he will do everything within his power to encourage and entice you to make choices that move you away from God, not toward Him, to live your life according to the world’s values, not God’s.
God’s kingdom and this world system stand opposed to each other. They operate on very different values and principles.
So which set of values and principles are you living by?
If you spend little time in God’s word, then we already have the answer.