Brighter Than a Solar Eclipse?

There’s a lot of hype going on with the upcoming solar eclipse! This once in a lifetime experience has people excited with great anticipation.

As exciting as it is, there’s also much caution being emphasized.

People are scrambling around to make sure they have “certified” glasses to view the eclipse safely.

Without the proper glasses, the brightness of the sun can damage your eyes, and maybe even lead to blindness!!

All this has me thinking about how fascinating it is. That the rays of the sun are SO bright and THAT powerful.

But there’s actually something brighter than the sun. Hard to wrap your head around that??

Here’s what Isaiah 60:19 has to say about the sun in Messianic times, when God will openly rule the whole world:

No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

Did you catch that? We won’t even NEED the sun. God Himself will be enough. His glory brighter than the sun itself.

Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say in Acts 26:13 to King Agrippa about the sun when telling his story of meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus:

“At midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me.”

This was in the middle of the day, yet Paul says the light from heaven was brighter than the sun. It was SO bright that it temporarily blinded him. (I think it would have STILL blinded him even if he had certified safety glasses!)

When time is done away with and we are living in eternity, here’s what Revelation 21:23 has to say about the sun as we know it:

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

No need of the sun OR moon? Hard to fathom, but it’s true. The glory of God will illuminate everything!

I’m excited about the upcoming solar eclipse and I’m prepared with my certified viewing glasses.

But more importantly, I’m beyond excited about the coming of God’s SON, Jesus Christ.  And I can humbly say I am prepared for that day. Not because of anything I’ve done, but because of His righteousness that certifies me to be His child. 

Blessings to you!

Lisa

For more encouragement, check out my devotional book Embracing The Race.

Threads of GRACE

After collecting an excessive amount of running tee-shirts from years of races, I finally put some of them to good use!

Sorting through my unique collection, I chose some that stood out to me  and had them turned into a beautiful tee-shirt quilt.

It turned out better than I expected!

Each piece of fabric brought back memories from a particular race. Some had happy memories attached to them while others emitted feelings of misery and disgust.

This shirt represents my first 5K. The race I thought was on flat pavement turned out to be a difficult trail run through the woods. I really felt like quitting! 

This one was a half-marathon through pouring rain the entire time. The kind of rain where you’re literally soaked to the bone and you can hardly see in front of you through the water gushing down your face.

This race was actually an obstacle course–A TOUGH MUDDER– I vowed years before I would NEVER do. After some prompting from my brother, I decided to do it anyway. Muddy from head to toe, I truly did not recognize myself in pictures from this insane mud run.

But other shirts on this same quilt have happier, more positive feelings attached to them.

This was my first half marathon! I can still conjure up those feelings of elation from crossing the finish line.

This race was a fun 5K my family did together. No pressure. Just a fun race where lots of unexpected prizes were given out at the finish line party.

Ah yes! This one represents the best time I ever had for a half marathon. Perfect conditions. Best pace ever. (And no injuries!)

I looked at each shirt, traveling back in time to relive each of these races. The good, the bad and the ugly. But then I stepped back and looked at the quilt as a whole.

Yes, when all these shirts were weaved together, it symbolized my entire running journey. It was beautiful!

But as I continued looking at the quilt, I saw something much more powerful….

This quilt is a beautiful picture of what God does with US!

Hang with me here, and please don’t miss this!

God is a master at weaving the seasons of our lives together–the good, the bad and the ugly–and He knits them together with threads of grace. And over time, He takes these individual moments of our lives and turns them into a beautiful tapestry of glory!

The 5K I ran where I wanted to quit? That’s like the seasons of life when we are ready to give up because we’re disappointed or our expectations weren’t met.

Running a race in pouring rain? It paints a picture of those times we’re trying to survive the storms of life.

Ha! And the Tough Mudder where I was a crazy-muddy-mess? Don’t we all have seasons like that? Where we are such an absolute mess we don’t even recognize ourselves. Life knocks us to the ground and we wonder how we’ll ever get up to keep going.

But we also have those seasons of happiness. The times we are living in our sweet spot, using our gifts and talents for God’s glory.

And we have those moments when life is just good. Our families are thriving. We have unexpected blessings heaped upon us when we least expect it.

And I’ll bet you can think back to moments in your life when you felt so successful. You accomplished something you’d dreamed about. Something you worked really hard for.

So just like this quilt represents the good and not-so-good moments of my running journey, in the same way,

God is continually weaving the moments of your life together for a greater purpose of displaying His glory.

So we have to be patient and we have to trust Him. Maybe you feel stuck in a season of wanting to quit and you can’t see beyond the difficulties.

Maybe you’re stuck in a muddy mess and you don’t see a way out. But I can assure you there is a clear path up ahead if you’ll just hang on. Because God is already taking the fragile threads you’re grasping on and is weaving them into something strong and beautiful.

It’s easy to get hung up on the current set of circumstances we’re in if that’s all we’re focusing on.

But when we take a step back and look at the big picture, we can see how God is weaving everything together for our good and His glory.

Which seasons of your life stand out to you–the good, bad and even the ugly–where God held you together with His threads of grace?

Blessings to you today!

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

Life is Short…Live it Well

When you find yourself suddenly entering a new decade of life, it certainly changes your perspective on time.

Hitting the big 50 milestone marker became reality for me recently. Mixed feelings? You bet!

My daughter blessed me with her encouraging words, “Gosh, Mom, you’re a half century old!”

For a few days I found myself feeling a bit on the negative side.

If the average life expectancy is 70, then I guess I’ve got at least 20 years left.

I guess it’s all downhill from here….

But then God reminded me of all the blessings He’s poured out upon me. So instead of getting depressed about my age, I rejoiced in all He’s entrusted me with. I also feel compelled to use the time I have left on this earth for His glory.

I like how James 4:14 puts this truth:

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Most people don’t know how long their “mist” will last.

70 years? 80?

For some, their mist is very short. Tragedy strikes out of nowhere and their days are suddenly gone. No warning. Living life as if there were no tomorrow.

For others, they are faced with the reality that their “mist” is coming to an end. Cut short compared to most.

amzie

Sixteen-year-old Amzie Smith is dying of terminal liver cancer. She’s living each day to the fullest because she knows time is short. You can read more of her story here. In spite of what she’s faced with, her goal is to shine the light on God’s kindness and love. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she’s chosen to let God use her life to point others to Him. She’s packed more into her short “mist” than most people do in a lifetime. Her faith inspires me to live each of my days to the fullest.

What if we all lived like that? What if we embraced each and every day with everything we had?

The reality is that we just don’t know how many days we have on this earth. There are no guarantees for anyone. We are given one day at a time and we get to choose how to live that day.

Psalm 90:12 says “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

Maybe this means wisdom is found in the day-to-day moments of humility instead of thinking when we get older we’ll suddenly have a huge dose of it.

Psalm 146:2 says, “I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”

While I have my “being”? How long is that?

You don’t know.

But we are urged to praise God as long as we live. It’s simply praising Him for what He’s given us. Taking our gifts and talents and using them for His glory. Loving others He puts in our path. Pointing them to the love of Jesus. It’s our purpose.

So just as sixteen-year-old Amzie is living her purpose to its fullest, I want to do the same.

Instead of putting the eternal things on the back burner with the assumption that I’ve got plenty of time later, I choose to do those things now.

Ann Voskamp puts it like this in her book The Broken Way:

“Whether we have a diagnosis or not, we all get one container of time–but no one gets to know what size that container is. Live every day like you’re terminal. Because you are. Live every day like your soul’s eternal. Because it is.”

I don’t know where you are in your journey of time, dear friend. Maybe you’ve lived many years and you have regrets. Maybe you’re approaching middle age and you think you’re halfway through your lifespan. Or perhaps you’re young, thinking you have a whole life yet to live.

Your life is short…live it well.

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Hope in a Hopeless World?

Hate. Racism. Senseless deaths. Cold-blooded murder. Unthinkable tragedy.

In the midst of a nation spiraling down quickly, our hearts are certainly weighed down with grief that fills the air.

Waves of fear engulf us, leaving us drowning with no seashore in sight.

Raging with a fierce, righteous anger, we demand justice. We rally together against the evil, making our voices known. Boldly we discuss the best solutions for fixing this wicked world.

But when all is silent and nobody is around, there’s a question I believe we all are asking.

Where is my hope?

Is it in the police force?

The political candidates running for president?

The guns hidden under the bed?

The promises of the government?

Where is your hope?

Who or what are you clinging to when everything familiar and what used to be stable comes crashing down?

If it’s anything in this world, you will come up empty. Even a hefty savings account isn’t going to hold you together when evil chokes the life out of anything promising.

As followers of Christ, we should not be surprised at the spiraling down of this world.

Jesus tells us very plainly in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome this world.”

I love the way Jesus tells us like it is. He doesn’t sugar coat the situation.

Doesn’t say you might have trouble. Doesn’t say if you just read your Bible and pray enough you’ll avoid trouble.

He says we WILL have trouble.

Sometimes I get stuck on the first part of this truth and camp out there for a while. I allow my troubles to define me and dictate how my life will be lived. I turn off the news in disbelief and let myself be overcome with fear and despair.

But the next part of this truth should awaken hope in the depth of my soul! He says to take heart because HE has overcome this world. 

The apostle Paul makes it plain for us in more detail about the kind of trouble we will see play out in this world. See if any of this sounds familiar:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)

Yep. This passage covers just about everything we see playing out in our nation today.

So I ask you again…Where is your hope?

Even as Christians, we might say our hope is in Jesus–but we silently doubt.

Our lips may say our trust is in Him, but out of fear we attempt to control our future. We cling to our jobs, money and possessions a little too tightly.

But look at the truth of Romans 8:38 and let it sink in:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (NLT)

Death is all around us in a nation that doesn’t value life. But God’s love is stronger.

The enemy is on the prowl, deceiving many people. But God’s love is stronger. 

Fear grips us as we wonder what will happen to our children. But God’s love is stronger.

Worries of how to survive the aftermath of tragedy weigh us down. But God’s love is stronger.

On a more personal level, I’ll peel back the layers of my own heart.

Will another maniac show up in my town, randomly killing people I know? 

Will my loved ones fall prey to the enemy’s lies and turn away from God?

Will my 12-year-old daughter be safe in a world I can’t always protect her from?

How will we survive the next tragedy that strikes closer to home? 

While I might ponder these questions simply because I’m human, I choose not to linger there.

I will choose to cling to the truth of who Jesus is. I will choose to anchor my hope in the unfailing love of God. Yes, His love is stronger. He is sovereign. Even when I don’t fully understand all that will play out in this world, I will trust Him.

I live in a hopeless world. But my hope is in the unshakable love and power of my Heavenly Father.

Where is your hope?

hope

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

He Knows Your Stats

Psalm 139:3-4 “You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” (NLT)

 

In our ever-developing world of technology, various devices are available for tracking and recording our fitness stats. Garmin® watches track distance, pace and exactly how many seconds, minutes and hours have ticked by. (In my pre-Garmin® days, I drove my car around the block, using the odometer to figure out the distance I needed to run!)

Many have embraced the latest Fitbit® craze. A proud owner of one of these, I’m enthralled with this powerful tracking device. It monitors my daily steps, calorie consumption, flights climbed, heart rate, distance traveled and how many hours I slept. I can even sync all these stats with my phone or laptop, analyzing in detail just how active—or inactive—I was on any given day. All of this information is displayed right at my finger tips.

To take it a step further, it blows me away that I’m not the only person Fitbit® tracks. I’m one of thousands of people—each with their own unique stats. How in the world can technology operate like this? How does it absorb all this information, keeping it specific for each and every person?

As impressive as our technology is with all its bells and whistles, there’s something much more powerful than this. It’s not a device. It’s not something man has created.

God in all his infinite power and knowledge knows everything about each and every person in the whole wide world. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s mind boggling, trying to wrap our human minds around this truth.

He knows the steps we’ve traveled (Proverbs 20:24), the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7), when we lie down, and our words before we speak them (Psalm 139:3-4).

In Matthew 10:29 Jesus tells us, “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” So if God notices all these birds, how much more does he know about us—people created in his own image?

Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

It’s one thing for him to know our spoken words, but according to Jeremiah 12:3, he examines the attitudes of our heart.

Yikes! Even the stuff—good and bad—nobody else knows?

Yes, He knows the stats of our soul. Let this bring comfort and not condemnation.

He knows our fears and dreams.

He understands our disappointments and desires.

He comprehends our strengths and weaknesses.

He even recognizes intimate things about us we don’t understand ourselves.

Now that’s more complex than any manmade device that has been or ever will be developed!

If it’s possible for the human mind to develop such powerful, complex technology, then how much more believable is it to grasp the fact that our sovereign God—the creator of the universe—is all-knowing and all-powerful?

But let’s take it one step further. Not only does God know everything about us, but he loves us anyway. Our ugly messes are displayed before his eyes. But instead of condemning us, He syncs our sin-stained souls with the blood of Jesus, lavishing his forgiveness all over us.

READY? Take a moment and embrace the fact that God knows everything about your life. Is there an area of your life you’ve tried to hide from him? Reflect on today’s scriptures and allow God’s powerful presence to penetrate every area of your heart. The next time you charge your favorite device, let it be a reminder to you of God’s power.

GET SET. Proverbs 5:21 “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.” (Also read Proverbs 20:24 and Luke 12:7)

GO! Heavenly Father, my mind simply can’t fathom your all-knowing, all-powerful presence. Help me accept by faith that you know every single detail of my life. May this truth comfort me when I doubt your involvement in my life. Amen.

Fitbit

 

Snow in the Scriptures

If you live in certain parts of the country, you’re most likely staring out your window at a ground blanketed with SNOW.

School children–giddy with delight–are building snowmen, creating snow angels, and sledding down steep hills covered in snow.

Even if you dislike the cold, the beauty of a winter-wonderland is captivating. What is it about snow that dazzles us?

God has some things to say about snow. These insights may be hidden in scripture, but they’re worth looking into. Grab yourself a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate) and your Bible. I invite you to dig into God’s word and join me!

Psalm 145:6 “He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.”

Job 37:6 “He says to the snow, ‘Fall to the earth.’

Isaiah 55:10 “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater”

As much as the experts try to predict what this powerful white stuff is going to do, God is all his power is sovereign…even over the SNOW!

Matthew 28:3 “His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.”

Revelation 1:14 “The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.”

In these verses, the word snow is used to describe Jesus and our Heavenly Father.

Proverbs 31:21 “She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet.”

In this verse, maybe you can relate if your kids are home from school, scurrying around to find their coats, hats and gloves!

 

My favorite verse about snow is found in Isaiah 1:18:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Maybe the snow captures our attention because it is so WHITE! A symbol of purity.

Perhaps God created snow as a reminder of what He’s done for us. How the blood of Jesus redeems and renews our dirty, ugly sin.

Look out your window and let this truth sink in. Soak up the promise of what He’s done for you.

Our sins, once as red as crimson, shall be as white as SNOW!

Now that’s a forecast worth believing!!

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

When you don’t FEEL thankful

This time of year everyone focuses on things they’re thankful for.  We post our thoughts on Facebook of what we’re thankful for. Our kids make crafts at school and proudly display what they’re thankful for. Maybe your Thanksgiving gathering will include a time for each person to express the favorite things they’re thankful for.

It’s usually pretty predictable what we’re truly thankful for: God, Jesus, our family, our friends, good health, employment, and of course all the food we will stuff ourselves with on Thanksgiving Day.

These are all wonderful gifts to be thankful for. I would be the first one to speak up that I am thankful for everything I just mentioned.

But what about those things we really are NOT thankful for? What about the things nobody would dare to mention on their top 10 things I’m thankful for list? What about those things that hurt deep inside us that we just couldn’t possibly imagine being thankful for?

*Your doctor grimly explains to you that you have cancer.

*Your boss informs you that you are no longer employed.

*Your check book balance is lower than the total amount of your bills.

*Your marriage is hanging by a thread and you are ready to call it quits.

*Your child does something that leaves you heart-broken and your stomach in knots.

*Your loved one is not here with you on this earth any longer.

*The sin that so easily entangles you continues to drag you down.

*Someone you thought was your friend has betrayed you.

*Your aging parents are needing you more than ever but it’s causing major stress.

*As a momma of young children you’re overwhelmed, spiraling into despair and depression.

Seriously….are any of these things on your top 10 list? Are any of these things gushing out of your mouth when it’s your turn to declare what you’re thankful for? I didn’t see any of these things on anyone’s Facebook status in the last 30 days. I’m pretty certain that nobody’s child came home with any of these things plastered on their Thanksgiving craft from school. Nope.

Why in the world should anyone be thankful for anything like this? Why would we even consider it?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we read the following words from the apostle Paul: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Really, Paul? What were you thinking when you wrote those words? You’ve got to be kidding me! Who is he to tell us the conditions under which we should be thankful?

He was beaten and stoned multiple times. He was shipwrecked multiple times. He went without sleep and food. He was imprisoned. He even spent an entire day and night in the open sea.

Yet he could still pen those powerful words in his letter to believers.

I’ve read and re-read that verse countless times, it still says the same thing. Give thanks in ALL circumstances. It doesn’t say give thanks only when things are going your way. It doesn’t say give thanks only when your marriage is thriving, your kids are well-behaved, your bank account is full, your health is stellar and nobody is saying anything offensive to you. (It would be MUCH easier to give thanks if everything were perfect in our worlds!)

So what is the secret of expressing thankfulness in our worst circumstances? How can we really do this?

Here are two things I’ve gathered from this challenging command:

1. The verse does not say to be thankful for these things, but to be thankful IN them. What’s the difference? It’s just one little word. To be thankful IN something is to trust that God is still good no matter what. It’s not a feeling, but an attitude of surrender. It means that although my heart may be full of hurt, my spirit is still full of hope. I don’t deny the pain I’m feeling, but I take it to the foot of the cross and thank God that He is still in control.

2. If you back up to verse 17, just one phrase before this command, you’ll see something that a lot of people skip over. I missed this for years! Here it is: Verse 17 says to pray continually. I used to think this verse was only meant for monks and nuns who lived in isolation from the world and could be on their knees in a continual state of prayer. But it’s meant for all believers! For me. For you. When I am in a continual conversation with Jesus throughout my day, talking to him about everything and being aware of his presence moment-by-moment, then my heart can focus on him in every situation….the good and the bad.

I can focus on Him when I feel hope, but also when I hurt.

I can focus on Him for the victories throughout the day, but also when I blow it and can receive his grace over and over again.

I can thank Him for the blessings, but also for the challenges that drive me crazy at times.

This is not an easy thing to do! It is truly a process. A process that builds character in us. A process that brings us to our knees….bringing us closer to the heart of God.

I want to encourage you to truly search your heart and not only express the blessings you are thankful for, but to offer up a sacrifice of praise for those things you wish to be thankful in, and see what God will do. His love is overwhelming. His grace is powerful. His mercy is never-ending.

 

Crying

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett