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

 

 

From Impatience to Peace

Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. (Proverbs 14:29)

I’d just finished composing an important email that needed to go out. All I had to do was hit “send” and I’d be on my way to the next task of the day. But the Wi-fi signal dropped out and my email couldn’t go through.

Ugghh! Really??

 

My daughter needed one last piece of information from the Internet for her school work. After carefully searching for what she needed, I was ready to print. But no. The printer had a mind of its own and stubbornly decided it wasn’t going to print in that moment.

You’ve got to be kidding me! I need this right now

I had just enough time to get to my appointment as I happily drove down the highway. Christian music blasting and the sun roof open, I sang cheerfully, soaking up the beautiful afternoon. But suddenly I had to slam on my brakes as traffic came to a screeching halt. A slow truck pulled a trailer behind it, at a whole 25 miles per hour. I was going to be late now!

Come on! Can’t you go faster?? (I said these words out loud as if the driver could actually hear me.)

More often than not, I’ll humbly admit that my level of patience is not good in these moments.

Technology and Traffic. These are the two things that–when they aren’t going my way–try my patience more than anything.

Instead of letting the Holy Spirit work patience in me, I frequently choose to let my flesh drive me in the opposite direction. A direction leading to a quick-tempered attitude. According to the scripture above in Proverbs, this displays folly.

Folly? A fancy word for sin.

This is where the process of sanctification takes place. The areas in which we are most weak are where God wants to work His character in us. The situations that drive us most crazy are where God wants to usher in His peace to replace our impatience.

I honestly feel like a failure in these moments! The moments where I’ve lost my patience and embraced my flesh instead of finding God’s power and following His lead.

What about you? Can you identify the areas of your life where you seem to lose your patience most often?

The moments that trigger the worst in you?

The moments when your calm spirit quickly turns to a chaotic sass?

God is showing me that these are the very opportunities He allows for me to turn to Him. These are the moments in which I get to decide to follow my flesh or surrender to Him. As a teacher continues to test his students until mastery is achieved, our loving Heavenly Father continues to let us encounter these moments until His character comes through.

So the next time I blow it (yes, it will happen!), I can soak up God’s grace and forgiveness and trust that He will give me yet another opportunity to try again. For me it’s traffic and technology. For you it might be something else. But whatever it is, as long as we live on this fallen earth, there will be ample opportunities for God to work patience in us in our most trying moments.

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

From Ruined to Redeemed

If you’ve ever felt like part of your life was in ruins, then you certainly aren’t alone. Maybe you’ve uttered things like this:

My marriage is broken.

My health is disintegrating.

My finances are in shambles.

This relationship can never be repaired.

My kids are a wreck.

I’m completely devastated.

Yes, we’ve all been in a place at one time or another when we would definitely say something or someone in our life is in ruins.

When thinking about our response to something that’s in ruins, I’m reminded about the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Upon hearing the news that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, having been burned with fire, this was his response:

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4 NIV)

I think there is something here we need to recognize in how we ought to respond when face-to-face with devastating news that crushes us to the core. He acknowledged his hurt and pain. He wept. He mourned. Even went without food for a while! But he did all this…before God. 

When we are smack in the middle of an impossible situation, we bring our hurts before God. We pour out our hearts to him. We don’t have to hold it all together for fear of what might come out of our mouth. I love Nehemiah’s transparency before the God of heaven! He doesn’t hold anything back. He empties himself completely before God.

But the story doesn’t stop there. If you continue reading, you’ll come to chapter 2, verse 17. This is where we gain even more insight into our next step when we are on the brink of despair:

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (Nehemiah 2:17 NIV)

First of all, who are the them he is referring to? He is speaking to his people–fellow Israelites who were exiled with him years before. God’s people!

When we’re faced with devastation, we don’t go running for comfort and support to people who aren’t believers in Christ. We rally around those who are on the same journey of faith.

And then Nehemiah takes a step of courage.

A step of faith.

A step towards healing.

He doesn’t stay stuck in his despair. 

He begins the process of rebuilding.

To stay stuck in misery and hopelessness would be disgraceful. He doesn’t want to stay there! And he realizes he can’t do it alone.

Dear friend, I urge you today that if you are stuck in despair and staring at broken pieces of your life to pour out your heart to God. He knows your pain and hurt. Give it to Him.

But don’t stay there.

Just like Nehemiah, look around you. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Accept the fact that you can’t rebuild in your own strength.

It might be a long journey to recover from what you’re going through, but I can promise you God will lead you one step at a time, just as he guided Nehemiah through one brick at a time.

He’s a master at taking things in ruins and redeeming them for His glory!

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Who Are You Competing Against?

2 Corinthians 10:12 “…When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”

 

Just a few hours after the 10K, the race results glared on the screen in front of me. Every single person who finished the race could be searched. From the winner all the way to the last person who crossed the finish line. Plugging in my name, I viewed my results. There in front of me I could see my total time and average pace.

Just as I was starting to feel good about my accomplishment, I looked at the next column over and saw another set of numbers: Number in age group; my placement in that specific age group; my placement in the entire race. A lot of other women in my age bracket finished sooner than I did! Now I didn’t feel so good about my time. Shouldn’t I be able to run at a faster pace like these women my same age? Feelings of defeat washed over me.

To make myself feel better, I searched the results of women 20 years older than me. Now as I scrolled through finish times longer than mine, I felt a sense of pride. Well, at least I beat these women.  I didn’t come in last place.

Unless we’re the first one to cross the finish line, there will always be someone faster than us. But if we focus on comparing ourselves to these people, we’ll be left with disappointment. The opposite is true as well. If we compare ourselves to slower runners just to feel better about ourselves, we get puffed up with pride and a false sense of security.

In the same way, we sometimes mimic this behavior in other areas of our life. When we compare ourselves to people who are more successful, wiser and richer we find ourselves feeling defeated. I should be further along, like her.  Before we know it, we continue the comparison game. To brush off these feelings, we turn our attention to those whom we feel are beneath us. Those who may be struggling in areas we are strong in. Those who are just beginning a journey we’ve been on for years. At least I’m better than those people.

Oh how foolish we are to do both of these! Gazing at others ahead of us—through the lens of comparison—leaves us discontent. Looking at those who are struggling—through a lens of judgment— leaves us prideful.  Instead of comparing, shouldn’t we focus on where we are? Shouldn’t we strive to live the life God has called us to? Using the gifts and talents He’s blessed us with to fulfill our purpose—instead of comparing them to others.

When we stand before God one day we won’t be standing alongside anyone else. Each one of us must give an account for the life we lived. God won’t scroll through a list of people and say, Look, you should’ve done better than her. And he won’t say, Great job, you performed better than these other people.

Most runners embrace a PR approach in races. Personal Record. Instead of comparing our finish time with other runners, we compare our finish time to our own time in a previous race. We attempt to beat our best time. The person we aim to compete with is ourselves.

Maybe that’s how we should approach this journey of faith we’re on. Instead of comparing our lives to others, we focus on making progress with our own struggles. Instead of judging others, we embrace humility, thanking God for rescuing us from our previous ways of sin. And when we conquer one area of sin, He takes us further and shows us something else.

READY? Can you identify an area of your life where you compare yourself to someone else? What effect does this have on you? Ask God to reveal a current struggle you need to commit to him.

GET SET. Galatians 6:4 “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction for a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (NLT)

 GO!  Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I’ve foolishly compared myself to others. Free me from any chains of discontentment or pride. Give me direction to focus on the life you’ve called me to. Help me walk in humility. Give me victory over the sins I struggle with. Amen

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Who’s Ahead of You?

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Just when you think you’ve arrived at your fastest pace, whoosh! Another runner speeds past you like a bolt of lightning. You can almost feel a breeze from the force of their speed. You see them quickly disappear from your view and before you know it, they’re long gone. How in the world does she keep up that pace? I’ll never be able to catch up!

Unless you’re the first one to cross the finish line in a race, there’s always going to be someone running ahead of you.  We are definitely called to run at our own pace, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from others who are ahead of us. Beginning runners seek out training tips from veteran runners. Runners who’ve sustained their first injuries could gain valuable wisdom from others who survived those same injuries. The first race ushers in a wave of anxious nerves. What should I expect? What should I wear for this kind of weather? Who else out there would know answers to these questions? Runners ahead of you! Their pace may not necessarily be faster than you, but they’ve pounded the pavement far longer than you have. Instead of putting them in an unreachable category, those of us who are behind them could instead reach out and ask for guidance and insight.

Dear friend, if you’re a follower of Christ, there’s always going to be someone ahead of you—further up the path of life. People who have been following Christ for many years longer. People who have long ago passed through the very same season you may be walking through now. People who have much wisdom and insight to offer if only we will ask. As you enter into a difficult season, perhaps a wave of anxiety is rushing into the depth of your weary soul. How will I ever get through this? Will I ever make it to the other side? And then you may wonder with great curiosity. WHO do I know that perhaps has ventured through this same kind of challenge?

Let me tell you without a doubt that someone is ahead of you that can gently and lovingly guide you. Maybe it’s an older mom who survived the season of raising teenagers. Maybe it’s the woman you’ve heard about who survived her nasty divorce and is on the other side now. Whatever challenge you may be facing, you’re more likely to gain peace and strength with someone else helping you through. So go ahead. Reach out. Ask. Humbly wave the white flag of your soul and courageously say, “I need your help!”

In the Bible we meet a young man named Timothy, a new believer who needed some guidance and direction. The apostle Paul was running his race ahead of Timothy. Paul poured his very life into this young man! Without Paul, Timothy would’ve floundered in his faith. Grown weary. Lost his hope. But instead he clung to Paul. He humbled himself and listened with a teachable heart. And then he flourished into a bold teacher of the gospel. He could keep running his race at a fierce pace because he walked in the footsteps of Paul. Who’s ahead of you?

READY?  Identify an area of your life where you feel challenged and could use some guidance. Ask God to show you someone who has walked through a similar challenge. Are you willing to reach out and ask for help? Pray and ask God for strength and wisdom to take the next step.

GET SET.  Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance, the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

GO!  Heavenly Father, this life can feel so difficult at times! I feel weary trying to navigate through the hard times on my own. You’ve called us to carry each other’s burdens, so I humbly ask you to show me someone who’s ahead of me who can walk alongside me during this season of my life. Help me set aside any pride that may stand in the way. Amen.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Come As You Are–A Muddy Mess!

Trudging through ten miles of muddy obstacles at my first Tough Mudder gave me new insight and perspective. But the thing that got my attention more than any of the obstacles was what took place afterwards.

Just imagine hundreds of people caked with mud. Dirty hair. Mud-streaked faces. Once brightly colored outfits now grimy.

Like a herd of cattle, we were ushered to an area where makeshift hoses were available to shower off the mud and dirt. Men and women huddled together, waiting their turn for a hose to begin the transformation from muddy to clean.

 

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With the wind blowing and my body beginning to shiver, I looked around and witnessed something absolutely amazing. People were desperate to get clean. They didn’t care what they looked like. They didn’t care that they were a muddy mess.

Everyone reeked. But two truths were obvious to all:

People accepted the fact they were filthy.

They wanted to get clean.

Nobody appeared to be embarrassed or ashamed of the muddy mess they wore. We were all in this together.

As I watched this group of dirty people coming together to get clean, my eyes were opened to the fact that this was a beautiful picture of what the church of Jesus Christ should look like.

People coming as they are…

Messy

Dirty

Ugly

Worn

Exhausted

All desperate for one thing: To get the dirt off and be washed clean.

Sometimes we Christians come dressed up in our best outfits and put on masks, deceiving others into thinking we have it all together. We often want others to think we are polished and perfect. We hide our mess. We hide our sin. We hide our shame.

We’re dying inside but we tell others I’m fine.

We’re exhausted from the storms of life yet we tell others I’m doing great! Life is good!

Before the living water of Jesus can wash us clean, we have to confess the deadly dirt of self.

Before we can walk in freedom, we have to stop dragging our chains.

Before we can thrive in the body of Christ, we must dive in with humility, admitting our needs.

Come with your mud.  Come with your stench. Come as you are. He wants to cleanse you from it all.

This is truly a picture of what the church ought to look like! People coming as they are. Not afraid to come with their dirt. Not ashamed to reek of sin. But humbly receiving the cleansing power of Jesus.

But sadly, many churches today expect you to come cleaned up already. To come with your best dressed outfit. To come with your polished-pretty face. To come with an aroma of sweet-smelling perfume. To come with no trace of sin. No muddy tracks.

This should not be!

That is a description of religion. Not a real relationship with Jesus.

Maybe your image of the church is more like this picture:

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Everyone in their best-dressed outfits, clean-cut, having the appearance that everything is perfect.

All the while hiding their mud-streaked, sin stained hearts. Outwardly perfect, inwardly a muddy mess.

How many followers of Jesus Christ are truly living in authentic, transparent relationships? How many are living out the command in James 5:16?

“Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

Sitting still in my best-dressed outfit and never sharing my struggles with others doesn’t bring healing!

I’ve got to get up from my comfortable seat, engage in real relationships, and humbly confess my struggles.

Where are you, dear friend? Are you hiding behind a mask? Are you putting on your outwardly best to cover up your very worst? If so, then it’s time to get real. It’s time to come in your mud-streaked dirty-soul clothes. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t be ashamed. We are all in this together. Come as you are.

Jesus promises us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

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I pray the image above will replace any false image in your mind of what the church should look like!

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett