Going Through and Not Around

John 4:4 “He had to go through Samaria on the way…”

The encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is a story I’ve heard multiple times over the years. But I recently heard a message from Albert Tate that fleshed out this story in a fresh, radical way. It touched me so much I feel compelled to share it. I hope it impacts you as well.

When Jesus made the decision to go through Samaria, it was a huge ordeal. He was intentionally choosing to venture into a place that was hostile towards Jews. Samaritans and Jews clashed. Jews simply did NOT associate with Samaritans. At all!

And to get to where he needed to go, he did NOT have to go through this area. It was inconvenient. Out of the way.

But scripture says “had to go”?

Not for the sake of convenience, but for the sake of the gospel. The good news of the gospel is for everyone.

Even the Samaritans.

In his recent message, Albert Tate put it like this:

“When you follow Jesus you don’t go around Samaria, you go through Samaria. You don’t go around people, you engage people. People that don’t look like you, people that don’t vote like you. All people. Ministry is waiting on the other side of your discomfort.”

This really stirred up my heart.

I don’t want to be guilty of limiting my love to only those I feel comfortable with.

Or only to those who will love me back.

Am I truly letting the love of Jesus flow through me to everyone I encounter?

Do I ever avoid situations because certain people will be there?

In other words, do I purposely go around certain people instead of going straight through to them?

I’m honestly asking God to search my heart and show me where I don’t get this right. To show me those places, people and situations where He wants me to go through.

It’s easy to say that I’m being obedient to God’s call in ministry when I’m with people I can relate to.

I’m confident and comfortable pouring into single moms because I truly understand the path they are on. I have no problem running straight through to them!

I’m comfortable talking to women who struggle with depression and anxiety. I truly understand their hurting hearts. I’ve been there frequently! I’m fine with going through to where they are. I’ll even pull up a chair and savor coffee with them.

But what about someone who I have NOTHING in common with? What about women who don’t believe the same way I do? What about women from a different culture? Different political views? Different world view?

If I were sitting across from someone like this in a coffee shop, face-to-face, how would I respond?

Would I have the words to carry on a conversation? Would it feel awkward? Would I be uncomfortable? Would I feel like going around them even though I know I’m supposed to be right there with them?

I’m asking God to do a work in me so that no matter who I come in contact with, that He can use me.

To spread His love. Share His grace.

I don’t want to be known as a woman who avoids the uncomfortable, but chooses to share the comfort of Jesus.

I don’t want to be known as a woman who only loves the lovable, but shows grace to the unlovable.

Yes, I want to be a woman who engages all people, no matter what.

Lord help me not go around those you’ve put in my path, but to go straight through with the love and grace you’ve given to me.

Blessings to you!

Lisa

Check out my devotional book, Embracing The Race.

 

 

 

Weary from Pouring into Others

I’ve been running on fumes lately and the gas tank of my soul is almost on empty.

The things I’m running after are all good. 

Encouraging others in their faith.

Walking alongside friends in difficult circumstances. 

Helping to lead a group of single moms.

Showing hospitality to others in our home.

Preparing to launch and market my first book. 

But in the midst of all the kingdom work, I can feel myself wearing down a bit. In a constant flow of pouring into others, I’ve forgotten to slow down enough to be refilled. Not being intentional enough with my time to sit before the Lord and let Him refresh me.

Imagine a huge pitcher of water. It’s surrounded by multiple small glasses. At first you can freely pour the water into the other glasses.

A little bit here. A little bit there. Pour some here. Pour some there.

But what seems an endless supply will soon run out. The large pitcher will run dry at some point.

 

An empty pitcher can’t fill anything up. An empty pitcher serves no purpose. It must be refilled before it can pour back out. We can set this pitcher under the faucet and turn it on. Water from an endless supply is available at any time.

This is a picture of what I must do to stay filled up! I need to sit still under the faucet of God’s never-ending love, full of peace and strength that will never run out. An endless supply of grace–available at any time.

Maybe instead of waiting until the pitcher of my heart is empty, I should go back to the faucet every day and stay filled up. I’m so guilty of waiting until every last drop of strength and grace are squeezed out of my parched, weary soul.

You know how some servers at restaurants are great about keeping your drink refilled? Instead of waiting until your glass is empty, they keep filling it up every time they walk by. Might even seem annoying at some point! But their eye is on the glass. Their goal is to keep it filled to the brim.

Perhaps I should aim to be like that server in guarding the condition of my soul. 

Always aware. Making sure I’m filled up. Intentionally watching.

But even if I push too hard and find myself on empty, God is still ever so gracious and patient with me. He calls me to simply come with my parched soul and sit at His feet.

He beckons me to soak up His presence. Overflow me with His peace. Fills me up to the brim. And then He whispers to me and says, “You’re filled up now. Go and pour into others who are still on empty. Pour into those who need to be refreshed. Let me flow through you to show my love.”

What about you? Are you running on fumes from pouring into others? Do you feel parched because your soul needs a refill from the Living Water?

Let’s challenge one another to stay filled. Encourage each other to keep a watch on our souls.

God longs to fill the pitcher of our souls with His never-ending supply of power.

It’s a must if we’re going to keep doing the kingdom work He’s called us to.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

Your Pain is Not in Vain

Heartbreak. Anguish. Betrayal. Abandonment. Abuse. Tragedy. Sickness.

This is what you recall as the worst moments in your life.

The seasons you try to erase from your memory.

The pain that crushed you.

Maybe you’ve experienced victory and healing from these painful moments. Maybe your faith has grown by leaps and bounds. Perhaps you’ve gained a strength that only could have come from these past seasons.

For some of you, you are satisfied with what God has done in you. But this is as far as it goes.

In you.

But there’s more. Yes, He wants to do something through you.

I want to encourage you with this powerful truth:

The pain from your past can be a lifeline to someone else right now. A soothing balm for someone else’s heartache. 

I like how Paul puts this in 2 Corinthians 1:4:

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

He doesn’t just comfort us for our own healing. It says so that we can comfort others, too! As followers of Jesus, if we never walk in this truth, then we are missing out. And others are missing out on what we can offer them.

In the last several years of my faith journey, God has put people in my path who are struggling with things I have already experienced. Some of these experiences are from many years ago. Others are just in the recent past.

There’s an urgency in my soul to reach out and encourage them. A longing to lift someone up when they feel discouraged. An opportunity to inspire someone to keep going in spite of their horrible circumstances.

This is what we are called to do! It’s not an option.

I know the pain of divorce. God healed my broken spirit through that horrible journey.

But instead of keeping that experience to myself, I reach out to those who are in the midst of this pain right now. 

They need to know that they will get to the other side of the pain. They need to know that they are not alone. They need to see that this painful journey will not engulf them.

I understand the turmoil of anxiety and depression. God took my despair and turned it into a desperation for Him.

But instead of locking this into a room of my heart and labeling it “off-limits”, I choose to humbly share my struggle with those who feel like they will never be able to break free from these chains.

What about you? What part of your journey has God delivered you from? Where has He given you healing through your pain?

If you’ve never stepped out and shared that with anyone, then how about asking God to show you someone who needs to hear it? Sometimes God brings us people right smack in front of us. But other times we might have to go after them. Seek them out.

Your pain is not in vain. He wants to use it for His glory. That glory comes when we are able to pour comfort into others with the same comfort we received at some point before.

There is no better feeling than to share hope and peace with someone who is hurting in the same way you have hurt. You don’t even have to be WAY ahead of them, either. No, you don’t have to be completely over your pain before you can comfort others. You might just be a few steps ahead of them on the same journey.

Maybe that’s part of the healing for ourselves.

I challenge you today, dear friend. The pain of your past does not have to define you. Allow God to use it to bring healing to someone else. Let Him do something magnificent THROUGH you.

It’s what He does best.

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

If you were encouraged through this post, check out my book for more encouragement!

https://reststopforthesoul.com/my-book/

 

 

Come With Your Anger

Frustrated. Ticked off. Offended. Upset. Enraged. Explosive.

ANGRY!!

If you’re human, then you have felt these emotions. Doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, you will feel angry at people.

Some of us grew up thinking that is was just wrong to feel this way. Wrong to even consider being angry.

That anger was actually a sin.

If you’ve fallen for these lies, please be encouraged that it’s not a sin to feel angry.

What we DO with that anger determines whether or not we’ve sinned. How we respond to it is the turning point.

We know that Jesus was without sin. He lived a perfect life. So when he overturned the tables at the temple in response to money changers taking advantage of the people, his anger was not sinful. He displayed righteous anger.

But that was Jesus. The perfect son of God.

We are human. We have this thing called a sin nature. So what are we to do with our anger?

When our loved ones do something that ticks us off. When our coworker or neighbor says something offensive. When someone dumps their responsibilities on us.

I could spend the next several hundred words talking about how to deal with anger and how to manage it in so many ways. But I’m choosing to look instead at scripture where we find truth that speaks more powerfully than anything else.

You know the sisters, Mary and Martha? Jesus was staying in their home and they each chose different paths in response to his visit. You’re probably thinking that this is where I’ll praise Mary for sitting at the feet of Jesus and scold Martha for getting too focused on the housework.

Although there are powerful lessons and even books written about balancing our Martha tendencies with Mary desires, I want to focus in on a nugget of truth that sometimes gets overlooked in this story. Don’t miss it!

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42) (emphasis mine)

Yes, Martha was distracted. Yes, Martha had her priorities out-of-order. Yes, she should have been sitting on the floor next to her sister.

But because she was human, she did get distracted and unfocused. But there’s one thing she did right.

It says, “She came to him and asked.…”

Even though Martha was angry (probably stewing on the inside), she brought it to Jesus. She took her concern to HIM.

She didn’t go straight to her sister and lash out at her. She didn’t pull Mary up by the collar and point her finger at her. She didn’t stand with her arms crossed staring down at Mary with a look that could kill. 

She took her concerns straight to Jesus. She felt confident enough to speak her mind to Jesus. She was bold enough to face him with her frustrations. She was transparent enough that she felt safe enough to express her deepest emotions with the son of God.

Wow!

How freeing is that? How refreshing!

That we can take whatever is bothering us straight to the foot of the cross. That we can come boldly before Him, holding nothing back. That we can come just as we are. With our frustrations. With our disappointments. With our expectations.

With our raging anger.

Yes, He can take it. He welcomes it. He longs for us to bring it all to Him instead of us unleashing it onto other people.

Martha brought her anger to Jesus. And the cool thing is that she got to hear Jesus loud and clear. She emptied herself of her emotion, putting her in a place to be filled. It might appear that Jesus rebuked her. But I think He was redirecting her.

He lovingly told her she was upset and worried about other things, and to follow the example of her sister. But don’t walk away from this familiar story without grasping the truth that Martha brought her messy emotions…..to Jesus.

Where are you today, dear friend? Do you have any frustrations or unmet expectations on the verge of explosion? I encourage you to take them to the foot of the cross. Take them and pour them out. Empty yourself face-to-face with Jesus. He wants you to be real.

And just like Martha, He’ll show you the next step you need to take.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

My Hidden Addiction

Smartphones. Ipads. Laptops.

These things aren’t bad. In fact, these pieces of technology are capable of helping us navigate our lives more smoothly, keeping us connected with people we love and helping us complete important tasks.

I can pick up my phone and within seconds, I’m talking to my husband while he’s on a business trip. We can even see each other if we choose to do face time or Skype.

My daughter can instantly look up information for school on her mini-Ipad. Within seconds she can access dates and places for her history assignment.

I can take my laptop just about anywhere and instantly be able to email, blog, write or do anything I choose to do in cyberspace.

But our instant-connection ability becomes a problem if we let it consume us. Even worse, our desire for instant-connection can lead to a disconnect from God.

I am often guilty of grabbing my phone before opening the pages of God’s word. Or I will spend too much time scrolling Facebook instead of seeking His face. Too often I’m looking down at my phone instead of looking up to Him.

I’d rather not write about this topic today. I’ve fought God in sharing this post with others. It’s easier to write about things I’ve mastered and have gained victory in! 

But the unhealthy pull of technology is something I struggle with now. I don’t have victory over this area of my life yet. This is where I am constantly being challenged. But I feel God is nudging me to share this because I think many of you struggle with this as well.

What often starts out as something positive can get sidetracked to something negative.

I need to answer emails from my publisher. But then I start surfing the Internet for just a few minutes. Then those few minutes turn into an hour.

I need to answer text messages from friends who need encouragement. But then I click on my Facebook app and get pulled into an endless scroll of checking out what everyone is doing.

I need to post to my blog so readers can be encouraged and inspired. But then I’ll allow myself to get consumed with checking the stats of how many people have viewed my post.

Because we all live in a technology driven, social media saturated world, it’s become acceptable to constantly be looking at some type of screen. We don’t see it as a problem.

We can quickly judge others for their obvious, outward struggles, while feeling better about ourselves for not falling into certain sins.

He has a lust problem.

She has an anger problem.

They are addicted to drugs/alcohol. 

They are too focused on materialism. 

But too often I’ve drowned out the faint whisper of God in these moments. I’m not still enough to hear the truth He is trying to speak to me.

You have a problem too, Lisa. It’s not obvious to others, but it still interferes with your relationship to people and with me.

Yes. I. am. guilty!

Just a few more minutes. Just one more post. Just one more email. Just one more text.

If I’m not intentional, my time with technology takes the place of more important things.

I’ll get lost in endless scrolling and miss out on a conversation with my kids.

I’ll get pulled into an Internet search and forfeit time with my husband.

I’ll get overly focused on a writing project and later on wonder why undone tasks are piling up around me.

Ephesians 5:16-17 (ESV) puts it this way:

“Be very careful then how you walk, not as unwise–but as wise. Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Technology isn’t evil. Social media isn’t wicked.

But how I choose to use them is crucial.

If anything takes the place of connecting with God, then I need to disconnect. If I’m running to anything other than God to fill a void, then it’s idolatry. If I’m spending more time on the Internet than interacting with my family, I’ve crossed the line.

So, what about you? Do you struggle with the amount of time you spend on technology? Do you allow social media contacts to interfere with real relationships?  Do you attempt to fill a void with a screen? I’ll bet I’m not alone in this.

The first step is acknowledging we have a struggle. Once we do that, we can surrender to God our unhealthy desire for instant-connection.

His connection is all-satisfying. His connection is fulfilling. His connection is ongoing without any bad reception. His connection is eternal.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

When You Run Your Race Alone

Matthew 14:23 “After he had dismissed them, Jesus went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.”

 

Many runners prefer running with a group. Some won’t budge without their best running buddy. Don’t misunderstand. We all need the accountability and motivation other runners contribute. And there’s nothing better in the world than having a best friend who runs your exact pace and rises early with you, encouraging you from start to finish. Experts recommend it.

But sometimes you’ll have to run alone.

Yikes! But I can’t. It’s boring. I can’t do it without someone beside me.

Ever hear yourself spouting off these words? Sometimes life brings uncontrollable circumstances. Sometimes our perfectly laid out buddy-running plan goes awry. Others will let us down when we least expect it.

Snow and ice prevent us from meeting our group at the park. Your running buddy hates rain and doesn’t show up. Your running group leaves you behind while you attend to a sick child at home. Whatever the circumstances, you’re left with a decision. Either run alone or don’t run at all. Running alone might mean wiping the dust off your treadmill in the basement. It might mean running at the park solo in the rain. Maybe you run in the blazing heat instead of the cool morning.

This is where the rubber hits the road. Just how serious are you to stay on track? How far will you go to be prepared? Yes. Sometimes you simply have to run alone. Without the chatter of others around you. Without the listening ear of your best friend.

Christ followers must sometimes make a similar decision. Sometimes we have to walk part of the journey alone. Now of course we aren’t really alone. We know Jesus never leaves us. The Holy Spirit continually guides us. But sometimes we don’t have other people walking with us. Maybe you’ve said the following: I’m not going to church unless she goes with me. I’m not going to that Bible study unless my friends go with me. I can’t do that by myself.

But the reality is that sometimes things happen beyond our control. Your friend drops out of church for a while. Your work schedule is changed, keeping you from continuing your small group bible study. You get seriously sick for a season and can’t physically get to church. Whatever the case may be, you have to decide.

Will you keep embracing Jesus even if you have to walk some steps alone?

Walking alone might mean opening up your Bible by yourself at the coffee shop. Perhaps you embrace solitude for a season until you find another small group. It might mean you have an extended season of quiet searching while you heal from a sickness.

God called Moses on a solo journey for 40 days—away from the crowd. Daniel knew what it felt like to walk alone. When he resolved to keep praying no matter what the law said, he ended up in the lion’s den by himself. David faced Goliath alone while the entire Israelite army cowered in fear. Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah would’ve made great running buddies, but God called each to walk alone, proclaiming the truth.

Jesus modeled for us what it means to walk alone. Crowds traveled with him. The twelve disciples followed him. John remained faithful to him. But multiple times he got up early while it was still dark and went out alone to pray. Even when he pleaded with his closest friends to pray with him, they let him down. Yet he still showed up and fulfilled his purpose!

READY? Can you identify a season in your life when you had to walk alone? How did this affect your faith? What are some blessings in disguise that come from sometimes walking alone? If you’re in one of those seasons now, admit your fears and worries and lay them at the feet of Jesus.

GET SET. Exodus 24:2 “Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near.”

GO! Heavenly Father, I thank you for the promise that you’ll never leave me or forsake me. Help my faith to grow strong and go deep when I must walk parts of my life journey alone. I trust you to bring others into my life for support and encouragement at the right time. Amen

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If you enjoyed this post, check out my devotional book!

 

Blessings to You!

Lisa Preuett