Posted: September 25th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: God's will, husband's role, leadership, marriage, women in leadership, Young Life | No Comments »
Judges 4:1-4 says:
After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.
Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.
Doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and then being oppressed by another nation was a repeating pattern in the book of Judges. It happened over and over. Eventually, the people would cry out to God for help and He would raise up someone to deliver them from their oppressors. In this case, it’s Deborah.
Obviously, this is a strong woman. She’s a prophetess. She’s a gifted leader. And God uses her to deliver His people.
There’s someone in this account that I’ve never heard mentioned before, but it’s someone I think I would have liked. I think we’d have some things in common. His name is Lappidoth. And he’s Deborah’s husband.
Lappidoth is married to a strong woman and a highly capable leader. She’s someone who has recognizable public gifts.
I can relate to that. My wife, Robyn, is the most gifted leader I know. I’m amazed by what she does.
Let me talk to the men for a moment. Guys, can you relate to Lappidoth? Is your wife a leader? Has God gifted her with the ability to cast vision, build teams and develop strategies? Does she see opportunities and intuitively understand how to take advantage of them? Does she have the ability to multiply her effectiveness by building organizations? Can she set goals and help lead others to achieve them?
Then your wife is a leader. It’s how God has wired her. And part of your job description as her husband is to empower her to use her gifts, to fully develop into the woman God created her to be and to fulfill whatever God calls her to do.
I’m not talking about abdicating your responsibility to lead in the home. That’s still your role, but check out Ephesians 5:25-30:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.
Jesus sacrificed Himself. He served. He loved. He called out the best in others. And as a husband, you are called to do that for your wife.
When our kids were younger, Robyn’s primary calling was to be a wife and mother. We believed it was important for her to mainly be at home. That may not be possible for every family, but it was the right call for us. But now that our kids are older, Robyn has had the freedom to fully develop her leadership gifts outside the home. And it’s been a privilege for me to serve and support her as she has done that. I see one of my primary responsibilities being to lighten her load and be a support to her.
We don’t know anything about Lappidoth other than he was Deborah’s husband. And I suspect he’d be okay with that. I have a feeling he understood who he was married to and did whatever he needed to do to support and encourage her.
How about you? Is your wife a leader? If she is, how are you going to encourage her?
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 25th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: anticipation, experience, Jesus, mystery, relationship, surprise, Truth, Windy Gap, Young Life, Young Life Camp | No Comments »
If I was at home in Fayetteville, Arkansas, my day would be drawing to a close by 7:30 p.m. But I’m not at home. I’m at Young Life camp. The last event tonight won’t even start until 10:30 or so.
I’m at Windy Gap, a Young Life camp in Weaverville, North Carolina. It’s a beautiful location in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I learned today that this 2,000 acre property was donated to Young Life by one family over forty years ago.
One of the things I’ve struggled with over the past few years is trying to explain the ministry of Young Life to those who are unfamiliar with it. My wife, Robyn, is the area director in Fayetteville and so I’m around the ministry a lot as a spouse and a volunteer. And yet it’s not easy to describe just exactly what Young Life is. It’s especially difficult to paint a picture of what Young Life camp is like.
When I was a teenager, the only camps I ever attended were football camps. The facilities usually weren’t great. The food was probably adequate, but forgettable. And the program was…well, the program was geared around football, not fun.
Young Life has camps all over the United States. I’ve only been to four of them. Each are different, but there are some common denominators. The locations are awe-inspiring. The landscaping is beautiful. The facilities are first-class. The food, well, it’s not your typical camp food–it’s delicious and almost all the meals are made from scratch every day. The programming is creative, fun and highly-entertaining. Relationship-building is a top priority. And the activities are awesome: go-karts, zip lines, swimming, giant swings, horseback riding and more.
Central to Young Life camp is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s the point of it all. This incredible properties, their full and part-time staff and the thousands of volunteers are all focused on one purpose: helping kids come to know Christ. That’s it.
Most of what I’ve described are the features of the camp and the overall purpose, but unless you’ve experienced it, it’s impossible to fully understand it.
When I worked in Christian publishing, we worked to create products that were more than just books. We created products for husbands and wives or parents and their children to experience. Together. We didn’t just talk about romance. We created products to help a couple experience romance. We didn’t just talk about the true meaning of Christmas–we created a product that fostered interaction between a parent and child and brought the story to life.
Most of us don’t need more information. We need an experience.
And that’s the magic of Young Life camp. The experience.
But experience is only one ingredient in the Young Life recipe.
Just like the products we created when I was in publishing, the Young Life camp experience is so powerful because of the unique combination of ingredients:
Truth + Relationship + Experience = Changed Lives
Remove “truth” and you’ve got a vacation at Disney World. Remove “relationship” and it’s like seeing a beautiful sunset or a shooting star, but having no one to share it with. Remove “experience” and you really just have a Bible study in someone’s living room. Not bad, but not all it could be.
Young Life takes all of this one step further though. They add in several other ingredients that take the recipe to another whole level. Those special spices are: mystery, anticipation and surprise. Stir those in to truth, relationship and experience and you create a week kids will never forget. Adults won’t forget it either.
There’s a meeting starting in about half an hour, so I need to go. After that, the campers will experience a surprise or two. They never know what’s coming, so there’s always an air of mystery and anticipation.
If you’d like more information about Young Life in your area or Young Life camp, you can email my wife, Robyn, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. She can connect you with the right person in your area. She’s busy for the next couple of weeks, but she’ll get back to you.
Posted: June 5th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believing God, confusion, Difficulties, faith, God's character, God's word, seeking God, Young Life | No Comments »
Robyn and I sent some chocolate covered strawberries to a friend who’s serving at a Young Life camp in Colorado this month. If you’ve never tried Shari’s Berries, I highly recommend them!
I was tracking the shipment this morning and took this screen shot on my phone:
The order was picked up yesterday evening in California. It was then flown more than half way across the country to Memphis where it arrived very early this morning. After spending a few hours in Memphis, the package was flown west and arrived in Denver a couple hours later. Some time today, that box of one dozen chocolate covered strawberries, which will have traveled almost 3,000 miles in less than 24 hours, will arrive at Crooked Creek Ranch and be eaten!
From California to Tennessee to Colorado. Doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it?
But it does to FedEx. They have a system that works. They can get a package from California to a small town in the Rocky Mountains in less than 24 hours. For a reasonable price. And they can do the same for thousands of other packages being delivered all over the country.
On the surface, it doesn’t make sense to send a package half way across the country and then half way back to where it just came from. But what seems to be inefficient is actually highly efficient. FedEx knows exactly what they’re doing. And they have the track record to prove it.
If FedEx knows what they’re doing, then surely we can trust God to know what He’s doing, can’t we? His track record is perfect.
His people were in captivity and would be for 70 years, but He sent word to them:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
Maybe today it feels like God’s isn’t making much sense in your life. You can’t figure out why He’d send you in one direction only to take you back in another. It sure seems like God could be a lot more efficient if He’d change His methods a little.
God knew what He was doing with the nation of Israel.
And He knows what He’s doing in your life. It’s okay that you can’t see it. He can.
And it delights Him when you choose to seek Him and trust Him.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Posted: May 19th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: Holy Spirit, marriage, Young Life | No Comments »
It’s a beautiful spring day in Kansas City. I’m here to perform a wedding ceremony later this afternoon. As soon as the ceremony is over, I’ll begin the 250 mile drive back to Fayetteville so I can preach on Sunday morning at The Church at Arkansas.
I’ll be teaching from Acts 16:1-12, where we find Paul and his companions are on a missionary journey. They eventually find themselves in Macedonia. It’s really cool to see how they ended up there. Read it here. My wife and youngest daughter, along with four others, are currently in Macedonia on a Young Life mission trip. You can follow their journey here.
If you’re familiar with the New Testament of the Bible, you know the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) primarily give us a picture of the three-year public ministry of Jesus. Each writer has a different take on events, but it’s clear that the main figure is always Jesus.
Then we come to the book of Acts. It’s written by Luke, who also wrote the gospel of Luke. In the book of Acts, he’s giving us an historical account of the early church. Who started it? How? Where? What were the issues they faced? It’s a fascinating and fast-paced read.
The book of Acts is also referred to as the Acts of the Apostles, but a better name would be the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Of course we never really “see” Him, but it’s His power and wisdom at work in the men and women we read about. Whereas in the gospels the main figure was Jesus–in Acts, we could say the main figure is the Holy Spirit.
Just as it is today, Jesus was no longer walking around with His disciples in Acts. He had ascended to heaven and it was the Holy Spirit who then came to carry on the work of Jesus. He would do it by living in and through those who placed their faith in Jesus. It’s interesting that in Acts 16, Luke even refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of Jesus.”
The Holy Spirit came to point us to Jesus. To remind us of what Jesus taught. To glorify Jesus.
Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called “Cru”), used to invite Jesus to walk around in his body. That’s what the Holy Spirit does–He walks around in our bodies, manifests the life of Jesus and accomplishes His purposes, in His ways and in His timing.
And that’s the only way the couple I’m marrying today will experience the life and the marriage God intends for them. There’s no other way for them to do it. There’s no other way for Robyn and me. There’s no other way for you.
Marriage was God’s idea and He has given us instructions on how to do it. He has also put His Spirit in us to give us the power to live out those instructions.
A successful marriage is only possible when both husband and wife walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. In our own strength, we are naturally selfish and committed to getting our needs and desires fulfilled. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to have his way in us, we become committed to meeting the needs and desires of our spouse.
If you’re not married but would one day like to be–I encourage you to focus on being the kind of person I’ve just described. Surrender your life to Christ and invite Him to walk around in your body by the power of the Holy Spirit. Seek God. Make it your goal to know Him and love Him.
Then ask God to bring you a spouse who is doing the same.
If you’re already married, the counsel is the same–live in the power of the Holy Spirit and be passionately committed to loving and serving the person you’re with now. It’s not to dump your spouse and look for someone new.
Of course, this all works much better if both you and your spouse are committed to walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, but since you can’t control your spouse–just do what you know to do.
Let God work on your spouse. You just work on you.
By the way, when done God’s way, marriage is a reflection of His love for the church. (Read Ephesians 5:22-33) When a husband and wife are committed to walking in the power of the Holy Spirit and fulfilling the roles and responsibilities God has given them–others will see it. They’ll see something special, something only God could do. And they’ll want to experience it also.
So if there’s that much riding on marriage, why would we ever think we don’t need God’s continual power and presence in our lives to pull it off?
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Posted: May 15th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believe in Jesus, believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, faith, fear, God's word, Holy Spirit, seeking God, worry, Young Life | No Comments »
How desperate is your situation?
Are you at the point where you can’t see any way out? No way that things can get better?
Your spouse wants a divorce. Your company is laying people off. Your child is a drug addict. Your husband is addicted to porn. Your loved one was diagnosed with cancer.
Maybe you’ve been struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. Maybe circumstances are pretty good, but you can’t get free from the anxiety and worry.
How desperate is your situation?
And what are you going to do? Who are you going to turn to?
For the past few days, I’ve been reading in the book of Acts. It’s the Acts of the Apostles, but the book should really be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. He did everything. The apostles were just instruments in His hands.
He told people where to go. He told them what to do and say. He revealed truth. He filled people with power.
He gave them the ability to speak other languages. He gave them power to heal and raise the dead.
Wherever and whenever the Holy Spirit showed up–things changed.
Have you lost hope? Is your situation desperate?
Read the book of Acts. Read John 14-16 where Jesus spoke extensively about the Holy Spirit and what He would do when He came. Cry out to God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Give Him total control of your life. Don’t hold anything back.
The Holy Spirit can do things you could never do. He can change your circumstances or He can change you. Either way, you win. He will not force Himself on you though. He will wait for you to invite Him to be in control. You can continue to do things in your own wisdom and strength or you can turn to Him for help.
Are you willing to abandon yourself to the Holy Spirit?
My wife and daughter, along with four other Young Life leaders from Northwest Arkansas, are leaving on Wednesday (5/16) for a mission trip to Macedonia. Can I ask you to pray for the Holy Spirit to use them in a great way over the next week and a half?
You can follow the ministry of Young Life in Northwest Arkansas and the trip to Macedonia on their new blog.
Posted: July 6th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: answers to prayer, anxiety, believing God, delight yourself in the Lord, Difficulties, faith, money, Truth, worry, Young Life | 2 Comments »
Does God like to surprise us?
I think He does.
Yesterday morning, I was reading in the book of James. One of the passages I read was:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
Later in the morning, I was listening to a podcast of a sermon by Mark Driscoll. He was teaching from the parable about the unrighteous judge and the widow who kept asking for justice. The judge finally relented and gave her what she wanted because she simply wore him out with her asking.
Naturally, we will all want to identify ourselves with the widow and conclude we need to persist in our prayers, which is the point Jesus was making. But Mark first encouraged us to put ourselves in the position of the judge. Are we in a position to help someone, but are withholding our help even though it’s in our power to act?
Early yesterday afternoon, I was helping to breakdown a fireworks tent that we’d operated to raise money for Young Life in Fayetteville. As I was breaking down cardboard boxes and stacking them in my truck, a beat-up, old car pulled up to where I was working. An elderly man waved for me to come over to his car.
I’ll be honest, I was little annoyed at that point. I was tired and hot, and now some guy wanted me to stop what I was doing and come see what he wanted. He could get out and come to me, I thought. So I approached the car and stuck my head in the passenger side window. Then I saw it would have been difficult for the man to get out of the car. His seatbelt didn’t really buckle–he had sort of tied himself in with it.
The man asked me if he could help stack the boxes, because he needed money for gas. He showed me a clipboard that had a number of addresses and dates written on it. It was his list of odd jobs he’d lined up to do around town. He just didn’t have a job that day and needed to put some gas in his car.
I told him I was almost done with the boxes and didn’t have any cash. I even opened my wallet to show him all I had were some receipts and a couple of used baseball tickets from last week.
It was very hard to understand what he was saying, but he kept looking at the fuel gauge and mumbling about needing gas.
I was about to send him on his way and get back to work when…
It hit me that wishing him well and sending him off with an empty gas tank wasn’t right. It didn’t matter that I was hot and tired. It didn’t matter I felt annoyed. It was in my power to help him.
There was a Conoco gas station about 200 feet away, so I told the man to drive over there and I would use my debit card to buy him some gas. As I was walking over, I was looking for a friend of mine who had called about ten minutes earlier and said he was going to stop by.
I thought about only putting $20 worth of gas in the man’s car, but decided I would go ahead and fill his tank. The pump clicked off at $50.81.
By this time, my friend had walked over to the gas station. I explained to him the situation with the old man and then we talked as we walked back to the fireworks tent.
After several minutes, my friend pulled two checks from his pocket and handed them to me.
One was a $1,000 donation to Young Life. Surprise!
The profit from the fireworks tent was below what we’d hoped for, so that check went a long way toward making up the difference and was a great encouragement, especially to my wife, Robyn, the Young Life director in Fayetteville.
The other check was made payable to me. For $500. Surprise!
If I hadn’t read that passage in James or listened to Mark Driscoll’s sermon, would I still have put gas in that man’s car?
I don’t know. Maybe I would have allowed my annoyance to override doing the right thing.
And if I hadn’t put the gas in his car, would God have still provided that money through my friend?
Well, the checks were written and he was on his way to see me, so yes, I probably would have still been given the money. I guess God could have changed my friend’s mind, but I suspect I still would have received the checks. I just wouldn’t have received the blessing of helping an old man who needed me yesterday. And I would have kicked myself the rest of the day (and today too) and felt terrible for not being generous when God was being so generous to me.
As I was reflecting on how God must delight in surprising us with blessings the way he did for me yesterday, I wondered if it’s not so much that God is surprising us as He is just doing what He said He’d do. What we see as a surprise is God just being faithful. We’re surprised because we really don’t think He’ll do what He says.
Now I know we won’t always see God give back to us within minutes. The reaping often comes much later than the sowing. Let’s never forget though–the reaping does come. It’s not a matter of “if” God will act, it’s only a matter of “when.” God is faithful to His promises.
If we act in faith, we show that our faith is alive. And when we do, God shows up. And sometimes, He shows up with a surprise.
Is it within your power to help someone today? I mean with physical or financial needs.
Do something then. Faith without action is dead.
Posted: July 2nd, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: believing God, faith, fear, God's character, God's love, prayer, Young Life | 1 Comment »
For the past few days, I’ve been helping out at a fireworks tent. Half the profit will benefit Young Life. My wife is the director of Young Life here in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The weather this week has been fantastic. Lots of sun. Warm, but not too hot. Nice breezes. You really couldn’t ask for better weather. And yet being outdoors in the summertime does mean having to battle some of the most annoying creatures on earth. Flies.
I probably killed forty yesterday and I’ve already started on them this morning. As I killed one earlier, I thought about the fact that he (is it possible to tell? is there even a difference?) had no idea what hit him. One moment he was happily buzzing around the tent, then “whack!, he’s no more.
By the way, if you are an animal rights activist and object to killing flies, well, sorry.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how some of us tend to view God. We seem to live under this vague sense of uneasiness. Sometimes it’s worse than that and we actually live in fear. We think that God is “up there” watching us, just waiting for us to mess up, so He can give us a whack for stepping out of line.
When we sin or fail to read our Bible or pray as much as we think we should, we’re just waiting for God to let us have it. Or maybe things are going well. Life is good. We’re in a good season of life and problems are at a minimum. So we think it’s all just a little too good. Surely it won’t last. If we’re quiet for a moment, we’ll probably even hear the divine fly swatter swooshing toward us.
God’s not like that though. He’s not looking for you to mess up. He’s not holding your sins against you–waiting for that last straw, so He can finally give you the swat you deserve.
Everything changed at the cross. Jesus purchased your forgiveness with His blood. He made peace between you and God. He bought every blessing for you. If you need to be reminded of your true standing before God, read Ephesians 1.
Does God discipline us at times? Sure. Every loving father disciplines His children. But the purpose is to produce growth and character–it’s not to punish us for messing up.
Your heavenly Father loves you. Really. He loves you. He’s crazy about you. Just accept it and learn to walk in the joy and peace Jesus obtained for you.
The whack isn’t coming.
Posted: February 26th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Truth | Tags: believing God, Robyn Stutts, Young Life | 2 Comments »
Yesterday, I met with a friend I used to work with and hadn’t seen in a couple years. As our meeting was ending, he asked how he could pray for me. I told him I’d been reading Isaiah and Jeremiah recently and was struck with how often it was said that people were honoring God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him.
I told my friend I didn’t want to be that guy. I didn’t want to be the guy who talks a good game, but isn’t living it.
I find it too easy to be that guy. Maybe you do, too.
For me, it happens when I don’t believe God. It happens when I place my desire for comfort and pleasure ahead of my desire to be holy. It happens when God reveals truth to me, but I forget it.
It helps me to write this blog. It helps me to put it out there publicly. It helps me to remind myself of what I believe. It makes it harder to go my own way when I’m encouraging everyone else to go God’s way.
So I want to thank you for reading. I don’t know if I’d quit writing if no one was reading, but I might. Actually, I probably would. Thank you for allowing me to share what God is teaching me. Thank you for the comments, emails and Facebook messages I get from some of you. It encourages me to keep writing.
Thank you for sharing the journey with me.
Now if you’ll allow me to, I’d like to change direction for a moment and ask for your help…
I mentioned a few times that my wife, Robyn, is the area director of a non-profit ministry here in Fayetteville called Young Life. You can check out the local ministry here or the larger ministry of Young Life here.
As the area director, Robyn’s responsibilities include developing and training leaders, teaching/speaking, administrative functions and raising the budget. Because the budget has not been fully raised, her salary was reduced by 50% last fall and remains at that level. Her commitment level and the time she’s giving remain at 100% though. And the results show it.
She and her 27 trained volunteer leaders her having a significant impact in the lives of many students at the University of Arkansas and in the Fayetteville public schools. And they’ve just launched a new outreach to pregnant teens and teen mothers.
All but just a few of the volunteer leaders are college students, students who could be doing a lot of other things, but choose to give a significant amount of their time to loving and serving others. Honestly, their commitment humbles me. Robyn and I both consider it a privilege to build into them, to encourage them and to help them grow in their faith.
On Saturday, March 6th, Young Life Fayetteville will sponsor a walk-a-thon to try and raise $15,000. That was the amount raised last year. If they can hit that amount again, then it looks like the budget will be fully funded this year, Robyn will return to full salary and ministry can be expanded.
I will be participating in the “Not Quite 5k Walk-a-thon” and my goal is to raise at least $1,000.
Last year, it snowed the morning of the walk-a-thon and there was a bitterly cold wind blowing. I’m hoping it’s a little warmer this year.
Would you be willing to make a small (or large if you can!) tax deductible donation? Maybe you can do $15. Or maybe $500. Any amount will be a great help.
If you’d like to donate, you can click here to make a secure online donation. If you’d prefer to donate with a check, you can make it payable to “Young Life” and mail it to:
PO Box 1325
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Thank you for whatever you may be able to do. I’ll report back on the results after the event.
Posted: August 28th, 2009 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Other | Tags: Robyn Stutts, waiting on God, Young Life | 4 Comments »
You have a need. God promises to meet that need…but nothing happens. So you wait. Then you wait some more. And you keep waiting…and waiting…and waiting. Until you’re tired of waiting. So tired.
After God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son, they waited 25 years for his birth. David waited 14 years to become king after being anointed by Samuel and he spent much of that time running for his life. A Savior was promised thousands of years before Jesus finally came on the scene.
We might have to wait a week for the results of a biopsy, fifteen months to sell a house (or longer these days) or a few years for a start-up business to become profitable. Maybe for you it’s waiting for God to provide a spouse or a child.
Waiting is a mega-theme in the Bible. It’s something we have to learn to do well.
Let’s quickly look at a few ways to NOT wait well. I’ve tried each of them.
1. Anger. God doesn’t behave like I want Him to. He doesn’t come through for me, at least not the way I wanted. So I conclude He’s not good after all. He’s not loving or kind like He says He is. He’s just not worth trusting. After all, I did my best to obey Him and now He’s treating me unfairly.
Then I think I have every right in the world to be mad at Him. Soon, my anger turns to bitterness and cynicism. It’s a downward spiral from there. I’ve been in that spiral. It’s not pretty.
2. Discouragement. The waiting seems endless. Things aren’t getting better, they’re only getting worse. In fact, just when it seems things can’t get any worse, sure enough, they do. My circumstances can look so overwhelming that I lose hope. I can get to a place where I cannot even see how things will ever get any better. I’ve been there, too.
3. Feeling sorry for myself. This is a subtle one to fall into. It’s a victim mentality. I did what God wanted, but I guess He’s just against me. It’s also a twisted way of trying to manipulate God. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had much success with that.
4. Manipulating my circumstances. Abraham and Sarah tried this one. When Sarah couldn’t get pregnant, she suggested Abraham sleep with one of her servants. Being the unselfish, man-of-faith he was, Abraham went right along with her plan. When God has me in a season of waiting, it’s best to not take things into my own hands. Nothing good can come of that. It’s also a good idea to be sure you’re getting wise counsel, even if it’s coming from your spouse.
5. Lowering my expectations of God. This may be the worst of the five, but I was guilty of this for a number of years. After living through the first four, I figured the safest bet was to just lower my expectations of God. I just wouldn’t expect him to do anything for me. If I didn’t expect Him to answer prayers, bless me or help me out of difficult situations, then I wouldn’t be disappointed. If He did do something then it would be a nice surprise. I guess it’s kind of like the person who gets burned in a relationship and vows to never fall in love again.
I don’t know if there’s a more offensive way to view God than as someone who really can’t be counted on. Someone who won’t come through and therefore shouldn’t be trusted. It’s a total lack of faith and reflects a terrible view of God.
So those are the wrong ways, but how do we respond when the need is unmet and God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry?
We actively wait.
A doctor I saw in Little Rock (before we moved) was an ultra-marathon runner. Those are the 100-mile races. He and I got into a fitness discussion one day and he was explaining his workout schedule to me. There didn’t appear to be any rest days, so I asked him about it.
He said his rest days consisted of going to the athletic club and riding a stationary bike. He called it “active rest.” He and I had different definitions of “rest.”
Waiting on God is kind of like that though–it’s active. We pray. We read His word. We seek counsel. We worship. We serve. We live in community with others who are believing God. We continue doing the last thing He showed us to do.
We actively wait.
My wife, Robyn, is a great example. She is doing an awesome job leading the Young Life ministry in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She has an incredible team of committed college student leaders. Ministry is occurring on the University of Arkansas campus, at Fayetteville High School and at the middle school level.
The budget is lagging behind though…to the point that her salary was cut until adequate funds are raised. She isn’t waiting passively, she’s waiting actively for God to work. She is continuing to do ministry: coach leaders, plan retreats, hold events, etc. She’s also actively working to raise the funds to meet her budget. She is active while she waits on God to lead her to the people He has called to help support the ministry.
Your circumstances are different.
You’re trying to repair a broken relationship.
Medical test after medical test hasn’t revealed the cause of your symptoms.
You’ve tried to sell your house, but the offers aren’t coming.
Active waiting is refusing to give into the five destructive waiting behaviors while continuing to pursue and believe God. I know it’s not easy. I’ve failed many, many times. I’m getting better at it, but I still fail. A lot.
God is at work in your circumstances. Right now. He has a purpose behind the waiting. When the time is right, the waiting will end. In the meantime, wait for Him…actively.
(By the way, if you or someone you know wants to invest in a strategic, life-changing ministry to middle school through college students, email Robyn at: firstname.lastname@example.org)