Standing Where Jesus Stood

As we approach Good Friday, our minds often fixate only on the cross.  Most of our attention should rightfully be here because this is where he suffered willingly, dying the horrible death we all deserve.

But I want to back up and focus on another place where Jesus suffered before he even got to the cross.

After he was arrested in the garden by Roman soldiers, he was ordered to be taken to the high priest. Jesus was led to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time.

(Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together.) Matthew 26:57

The house of Caiaphas.

I’ve always just skipped over that phrase in the Bible.  It’s just a place, so what’s the big deal?

But no longer do I just skip over this place.

I’ve actually been there!

Last year my family had the amazing opportunity to visit Israel. Day after day we traveled to different holy sites. Places where Jesus walked. Places where Jesus healed. Places where he taught.

But in most of the places we visited, tour guides informed us that Jesus would have been in this general area. With few exceptions, it would have been difficult to pinpoint exactly where he might have walked or stood.

The House of Caiaphas was one of those exceptions.

When archeologists discovered a dungeon underneath the palace of the high priest, they could say with 100% certainty that this was indeed the place where Jesus would’ve been brought for his trial.

I felt chills come over my entire body as we solemnly entered the prisoner’s dungeon, carved out of bedrock.

Looking up, we observed a hole in the ceiling. The tour guide explained that the high priest would’ve been standing above in the upper chamber of the house in order to remain ceremonially clean. He wasn’t allowed to be in the same room with a criminal who may have been guilty of murder. The high priest could ask questions of the prisoner while peering down into the dungeon, and remain clean at the same time.

As our group huddled together into this dungeon area, I tried to wrap my head around these facts.

This was the only dungeon area.

This is where they brought all prisoners awaiting trial.

Jesus was a prisoner awaiting trial.

This is the exact place where they brought him.

I’m standing where Jesus stood!!!!

Wow.  Total awe. My breath taken away. Surreal.

How is it possible that we’re standing in the place where Jesus, the son of God, actually stood? 

Our group stood in amazement, trying to take it all in. What was Jesus thinking when he was here?

He knew what was coming. He knew what awaited him. This is what he came for.

I have no doubt that he prayed while in that dungeon. That he cried out to God the Father.

But now it hits me thinking back…

Jesus stood where we should have stood. Where I should have stood. Where you should have stood.

Not literally in that dungeon underneath the house of the high priest. But figuratively speaking, we should have been the ones accused. We should have been the ones awaiting trial in prison. We should have been the ones condemned to death.

We are sinners saved by grace. Without Jesus we stand no chance. Without Him we can’t be made right with God.

It’s a really bizarre feeling to have planted my feet where Jesus stood. I’ll always treasure that short momentary experience.

But I’ll always have the peace, joy and comfort of knowing that Jesus stood where I rightfully deserved to stand.

But instead of condemnation and death? I have forgiveness and life!

I pray you will ponder this time of celebrating Easter! Remember his suffering. Remember his sacrifice.

HE IS RISEN!

Blessings to you,

Lisa

Author of Embracing The Race

 

3 Things I’ve Learned From Painful Seasons

PAIN.

Nobody embraces it.

We absolutely hate it with every fiber of our being.

We avoid it at all costs.

But because we live in a broken world, it is part of life on this earth…for now.

Broken relationships.

Faltering health.

Wounds from the past.

Horrible tragedies.

I’ve experienced what feels like unbearable pain. Seasons of life where I thought I’d never survive.

But because of God….

I did survive. I did get through. I found His light at the end of my dark tunnel.

I don’t know about you, but the more I look back on these seasons of my life, I can honestly see a purpose in those painful times.

You mean, there can actually be something good that comes from pain????

As crazy as it sounds, yes.

My painful seasons of life all have these common threads.

*Pain makes me desperate.

What’s so good about feeling desperate? Feeling desperate is not something we usually crave. It creates feelings of panic, worry, and anxiety. Like a weak swimmer who’s drowning in the deep end of the pool, we cry out for help because we’re going under.

I’ve been desperate in the midst of  broken relationships. A failed marriage left me feeling very desperate. With a newborn and an uncertain future, I lived in survival mode and swirled around in desperation quite a bit.

*Pain leads me to be more dependent on God.

When the familiar things of life suddenly become unfamiliar and I’m venturing out into the unknown, I’m always more ready to lean on God. And unfortunately, even the people we think will love us most will leave us disappointed and hurting at times. It’s in those times when I see how much others have failed me that I can truly depend on God’s unfailing love. In a strange way that is hard to describe, it’s during these painful seasons that my dependence on God is strengthened.

*Pain gives me deeper compassion for others.

Once I’ve trudged through a painful season of life, I always discover something I didn’t notice before.

I now possess a unique compassion for others who are in the midst of the same kind of pain!

Because of what I’ve gone through, I gain an understanding and perspective in the midst of my pain. I am then able to recognize this same pain in others. Or when I hear someone share the hurt they’re going through, my heart has an instant connection with them. And this is where the purpose comes in.

The wounds from my previous pain now become stepping-stones, allowing me to enter into someone else’s world. A world where they think there is no hope. A world where they feel trapped. A world where they think nobody could possibly understand.

Even if I’m still feeling the hurt from my painful experience, I can still offer words of hope. I can honestly tell them, “I know how you feel…I’ve been there.”

Part of my own healing from painful wounds comes when I walk alongside someone else who is hurting. The fragile threads of my life that unraveled in my soul are now knitted back together, forming a cord of hope that someone else can cling to.

Your pain is not ever wasted. It’s not in vain. It serves the purpose of becoming more intimate with your Savior and comforting others on the same path. Here’s a few that stand out to me…

My sister-in-law, Holly, has allowed God to do an amazing work in her life in this way. She’s a survivor of sexual abuse. She experienced heart wrenching pain that threatened to swallow her up and leave her bitter. Yet she cried out to God and He has healed her hurting heart. She tells her story often and reaches out to others who are caught up in the same kind of pain. God uses her pain for a purpose.

Dear friends of ours, Brian and Amanda, lost their 18-month old son in a tragic accident a few years ago. They experienced such horrific pain and their world was shaken to the core. But they surrendered their lives to God through the journey and now help encourage and comfort others who have lost young children. God uses their pain for a purpose. 

My friend, Stacy, lost her beautiful daughter who was born prematurely. She lived for about 3 weeks. She spent those days in the newborn intensive care unit, watching her baby hanging on for life. Although her heart shattered in pieces, Stacy has allowed God to do a beautiful thing through her pain. She quilts blankets for babies in the NICU. She reaches out to other families who are waiting to see if their babies are going to make it. She gives genuine comfort to others because she knows the pain they feel. God uses her pain for a purpose.

Be encouraged dear friends! No matter what pain you are experiencing, God is with you. He knows.

Allow your desperation to turn into a strong dependence on the one who rescues and redeems. And let Him do more than rescue and redeem just you. He longs to work through your life to bring comfort and encouragement to others.

Let Him use your pain for His purpose. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Blessings to you!

Lisa

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race

 

 

Why My New Year’s Resolutions Often Fail

A brand new year! Time to come up with some New Year’s resolutions. Time to make a list of things we want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s the perfect time to try new things. Make some goals to be reached. Right?

While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, there’s still something that nags at my soul when my calendar starts to fill up. We can mindlessly come up with some resolutions that sound really good. We can fill our time with a lot of good things.

Good things for ourselves.

Good things for our kids.

Good things for our family.

But I’ve often found myself doing so many good things that I don’t do anything well. I come up short. I spread myself so thin that I’m no good to anyone.

Maybe I’m qualified to do five things really well, yet when I try to cram them all into a short window of time, those five things crumble, making me feel as if I’m barely treading water.

But shouldn’t we say yes to every good thing that comes our way?

Meeting  friends for lunch? That’s good!

Exercising to stay in shape? That’s good!

Volunteering at your child’s school? That’s good!

Leading a Bible study? That’s good!

Working part-time to earn a little extra money? That’s good!

Signing your child up for their favorite sport? That’s good!

Yes. Each and every one of these are good things. Nobody would argue that they aren’t.

But if you say yes to every single good thing that comes your way, at some point it will leave you feeling frustrated. Overwhelmed. Frazzled. Stressed to the max.

And before you know it, your resolutions and good intentions turn into disappointments and failures.

When we run from one good thing to the next at a break-neck speed, we often miss out on the rest God longs for us to embrace. 

Resting in his presence. Resting in his peace. Resting in his purpose.

Instead of saying yes to everything, we could stop and pray before we answer. Asking God for wisdom and discernment.

Maybe this good thing would be better if I embraced it later, instead of now.

Maybe I should say no to this good thing so that someone else will have the opportunity to say yes.

Maybe this good thing is really my plan instead of God’s. 

Sometimes I’m so busy saying yes to the good things that I don’t make time to pray and ask God what is best.

As this new year begins, here’s a challenge:

Instead of asking God to bless a long list of our hopeful accomplishments, let’s stop and humbly approach Him.

Instead of resolutions, let’s humbly ask Him what is His best for us.

God, what is your plan for me this year? Are there things I need to let go of? What new steps do you want me to take? Help me rest in your presence, so I can know what’s best. Your best.

I pray you will embrace this new year with a sense of peace and purpose.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

New-Years-Resolutions_2

 

 

Blessings to you, dear friends!

Lisa Preuett

 

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why My New Year’s Resolutions Often Fail

A brand new year! Time to come up with some New Year’s resolutions. Time to make a list of things we want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s the perfect time to try new things. Make some goals to be reached. Right?

While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, there’s still something that nags at my soul when my calendar starts to fill up. We can mindlessly come up with some resolutions that sound really good. We can fill our time with a lot of good things.

Good things for ourselves.

Good things for our kids.

Good things for our family.

But I’ve often found myself doing so many good things that I don’t do anything well. I come up short. I spread myself so thin that I’m no good to anyone.

Maybe I’m qualified to do five things really well, yet when I try to cram them all into a short window of time, those five things crumble, making me feel as if I’m barely treading water.

But shouldn’t we say yes to every good thing that comes our way?

Meeting  friends for lunch? That’s good!

Exercising to stay in shape? That’s good!

Volunteering at your child’s school? That’s good!

Leading a Bible study? That’s good!

Working part-time to earn a little extra money? That’s good!

Signing your child up for their favorite sport? That’s good!

Yes. Each and every one of these are good things. Nobody would argue that they aren’t.

But if you say yes to every single good thing that comes your way, at some point it will leave you feeling frustrated. Overwhelmed. Frazzled. Stressed to the max.

And before you know it, your resolutions and good intentions turn into disappointments and failures.

When we run from one good thing to the next at a break-neck speed, we often miss out on the rest God longs for us to embrace. 

Resting in his presence. Resting in his peace. Resting in his purpose.

Instead of saying yes to everything, we could stop and pray before we answer. Asking God for wisdom and discernment.

Maybe this good thing would be better if I embraced it later, instead of now.

Maybe I should say no to this good thing so that someone else will have the opportunity to say yes.

Maybe this good thing is really my plan instead of God’s. 

Sometimes I’m so busy saying yes to the good things that I don’t make time to pray and ask God what is best.

As this new year begins, here’s a challenge:

Instead of asking God to bless a long list of our hopeful accomplishments, let’s stop and humbly approach Him.

Instead of resolutions, let’s humbly ask Him what is His best for us.

God, what is your plan for me this year? Are there things I need to let go of? What new steps do you want me to take? Help me rest in your presence, so I can know what’s best. Your best.

I pray you will embrace this new year with a sense of peace and purpose.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

New-Years-Resolutions_2

 

 

Blessings to you, dear friends!

Lisa Preuett

 

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday RUSH or Christmas REST?

Whether you want to be or not, you’re right smack in the middle of the Christmas season. Do you find yourself feeling rushed? Overwhelmed?

I’ve got to finish my shopping!

I’ve got to get this house cleaned up before my family arrives!

Get out of the kitchen so I can bake the cookies!

We have three Christmas parties to attend on the same day!

If you’re anything like me, just thinking about everything that needs to be done can leave you feeling exhausted. It’s almost impossible to escape the holiday rush.

There’s an ache in my soul because of this! Do you know what I mean?

It’s that pull between everything that has to be done and everything your heart longs for.

A battle between rush and rest.

Are you kidding me? There’s no time to rest during the holidays!! How in the world can you think about rest at such a time as this?

But if we let the holiday rush overtake the Christmas rest, then everything we are doing is in vain.

I’ve often thought that embracing rest meant that I had to carve out a huge block of time for a nap.

Or that I had to sit completely still with my feet up.

Maybe you’ve thought of rest as getting to turn off your alarm and sleep in.

But I’m learning that embracing rest is more about having a peace in my soul. 

Maybe I can’t take anything off my busy to-do list this Christmas season, but I can shift my attitude about those things.

Instead of rushing out the door with a frantic sense of urgency, maybe I can pause for just a few moments to pray.

God, I’m feeling frustrated, anxious and exhausted! Please give me your peace.

Instead of feeling burdened about baking dozens of cookies, perhaps I can turn on some music and pray for the people I’m making them for.

God, help me have an attitude of love as I bake these cookies!

Maybe we really do have to attend multiple parties on the same day. But instead of thinking of them as places to go, we can see them as opportunities to love people.

Lord, help me to show love to those who need it most. Give me your eyes to see those you want me to see.

The days leading up to the birth of Jesus without a doubt brought a sense of urgency.

We’ve got to hurry! Will there be a place for us to stay?

Mary and Joseph most certainly felt a heavy burden of having to travel at the last-minute. And I’m sure they battled anxious thoughts of this new chapter of life God was calling them into.

Why me? Couldn’t he have picked someone else? What will people think when we return to Nazareth?

What appeared to be a messed up plan, absent of any peace, was God ushering in the Prince of Peace.

Right in the middle of the rush. Right in the middle of the urgency. Right in the middle of their worry.

And the same Prince of Peace that came on that first Christmas morning is the same Prince of Peace that can bring us REST in the midst of our holiday RUSH.

So what’s it going to be for you this year? Rush or Rest? Anxiety or Peace?

I encourage you to carve out some quiet moments in the midst of your busy schedule to embrace the PEACE and REST only Jesus can bring. That’s what He came for!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa


Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race

Is Prayer Your Last Resort or First Response?

Since there’s nothing I can do about it, I guess I’ll just pray. 

Ever find yourself uttering these words?

I’ve been guilty of this many times.

Maybe I won’t say those words aloud, but my attitude shouts it.

Why do we often turn to prayer as a last resort? Why is it not our first response?

I’ll confess that because I’m human, I think I must DO something to fix a situation, or another person.

I want to see immediate action…like right now! I want to control the outcome of circumstances that are falling apart.

Ever been there?

When life pulls the rug out from underneath and you come crashing to the floor.

When something unexpectedly shakes you up, threatening to paralyze you with fear.

When that person you love so deeply crushes your heart, leaving you in a pit of despair.

I’ve been here before. Many times.

The older I get, I’ve come to realize in these moments that prayer is the first thing I should embrace.

I’ve had to learn this the hard way. After trying to fix things in my own strength, I see that my strength fails.

After trying to analyze and figure things out, I see that the mess just doesn’t make sense in my finite mind.

After spending countless hours in a fit of worry, my soul feels weary and worn out.

PRAY

Yes. That is what I’m called to do in all situations.

PRAY

This should be my first response in a moment of crisis. My first instinct when life starts spinning out of control.

PRAY

This is where the power is. It’s not in me. It’s not in my plan. It’s not in another person.

It’s in God!

He knows the circumstances better than I do. He sees the whole picture where I can only see a little piece.

He knows every nook and cranny of the person’s heart I’m concerned about.

He sees it all and knows it all.

PRAY

I think we get caught up in the lie that unless we are doing something, then nothing is going to be accomplished. We want to see results. We want to have something to measure. We want something tangible to hold on to.

But this is so far from the truth when it comes to prayer!

When we pray, power is unleashed from heaven in ways we just can’t fathom.

When we pray about things we don’t have control over, we turn them over to the one who is in control. 

Prayer helps us trust God with the unseen things that we are longing to see. 

And genuine prayer truly utters, “I can’t. But you can.”

PRAYER is something the enemy does not want us to engage in. If he can keep us tangled up in our futile efforts of trying to fix things on our own, then he has accomplished his mission.

I’ve heard a lot of powerful statements about prayer. One of my favorites is this:

“Are you using prayer like a spare tire or the steering wheel?”

I’ve often pulled out my spare tire of prayer when life gets messy and my soul is punctured from running ragged.

But if I’m in continual conversation with God throughout the moments of every day, then it lets Him steer me on the right path. It centers me in the middle of life’s road and keeps me balanced, no matter what comes my way.

PRAY

Yes. There is power in prayer. It connects us to the Father. It calms our chaos. It empowers us with His strength.

So what about you? What is overwhelming you today? Have you taken it to God in prayer? Are you looking at prayer as a last resort or will you dare to embrace it as your lifeline?

(Philippians 4:6-7) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Blessings to you,

  Lisa

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

When the Clutter Piles Up

The kitchen island gets a lot of traffic in my home.

Piles of mail.

Car keys.

My husband’s wallet.

Dirty coffee cups.

My daughter’s latest craft supplies.

School papers.

It doesn’t bother me if just one of the above items gets plopped down. But usually it’s a combination of these items together that drives me bonkers!!

After coming and going in different directions, things begin to pile up. And finally it gets to where I just can’t take anymore!

In that moment I am on a mission. (And anyone who is in the room is strongly encouraged to help me in this mission.)

It’s time to clean up the clutter. Time to put things away in their rightful place.

The wallet and keys need to go somewhere else, but not here. The dirty cups need to go in the sink. Pieces of scrap paper need to be trashed.

And junk mail? That’s a no-brainer…in the trash!

Once that’s accomplished, I feel better and can function again.

Just maybe this is a powerful picture of what we do with the clutter of LIFE.

Things slowly begin to pile up.

First it’s one thing. And then another.

One emergency to throw us off. An unexpected episode that sets you in a tail spin. A forgotten commitment. Someone asking you to do something else. People and projects pulling you in opposite directions.

Just one of these things might not be so bad by itself. But when they start to pile up, you can feel it coming. When you go from full to empty with no time to fill up. And before you know it, your life is full of clutter.

I can’t take this anymore!

And one by one, we can start to tackle the things that clutter us up. Not a clutter we can see. But the clutter on the inside. The clutter of our negative thoughts. The clutter of our distorted perspective.

The clutter of our soul.

Some things just need to be put in a different place. (Do I need to delegate something to someone else? Do I need to say no to a request of my time?)

Some things we need to get rid of. (The feelings of hopelessness. The toxic thinking that spirals out of control.)

And some things we just need to accept. (That person we want to change is out of our control. The season of life we must go through to get to the other side.)

And once we start to clean up the clutter, we can breathe again. We receive clarity.

We feel hope.

We can even invite others around us to help. People to hold us accountable. Friends to walk alongside us.

To help us sort through the messes of life.

I will probably continue to lose the ongoing battle of keeping my kitchen island cleared of clutter.

But I can most certainly win the war that stirs in my soul.

It’s a constant battle.                       Day after day.                                 Moment by moment.

But when I surrender to God and reach out for help, the clutter of life gets put in place. Not an overnight fix. But a gradual victory over time, through each season of life.

I think it’s okay to want an uncluttered kitchen. But I most certainly need to be more aware of the clutter of my soul.

What about you? Are things piling up in your world? Feeling overwhelmed with the clutter?

Let’s reach out and call on the One who can help us sort through it all. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is waiting for us to ask Him to clean up our clutter.

The less clutter there is, the more room He has to give us PEACE.

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. ~Psalm 25:4-5

Blessings to you!

Lisa

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race