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

 

3 Things to Do When Life Falls Apart

As much as we try to hold it all together, sometimes the threads of our life unravel and come completely apart.

The phone call that changes everything in a matter of seconds. 

The job you thought was secure is taken away.

Your stellar health takes an abrupt turn in the opposite direction.

Your loved one does something unthinkable, smashing your heart to pieces.

You feel unappreciated by everyone around you; do they even care?

I like the way David writes in Psalm 13 when his life was falling apart. Even though it was written many centuries ago, the pain and agony is no different from what we feel today:

How long, Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? 

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Give light to my eyes or I will surely sleep in death!

I’m right there with you, David. Sometimes I feel like God has surely forgotten me. Surely he’s forgotten or he wouldn’t have let my life fall apart, right?

Sometimes negative thoughts shoot like arrows straight to my soul. I know I shouldn’t be thinking such horrible things, but I just feel so overwhelmed with all that’s happened.

Come on, God! How long are you gonna let this person ruin my life? When will they be held accountable? Do you even know what’s happening?

When life falls apart, sometimes we don’t see any light at all. All feels dark. The bottom drops out. Disappointment can easily turn to despair. And if despair lingers long enough, it turns to deep depression. When you’re depressed long enough, you’d be perfectly fine to just never wake up.

I have felt this way before when life falls apart. You’ve probably felt this way when life falls apart.

I mean, heck, look at David! Not only did he feel this way, but he wrote it down for goodness sake!!

I’m so glad he wrote it down. Because Psalm 13 doesn’t stop there. He pours his heart out to God in verses 1-4 after his life falls apart. But then he keeps going. Look at what David does in verses 5-6. Even in the midst of his life falling apart in front of his very eyes, look at the 3 things he embraces:

I trust in your unfailing love .

So he trusts in God’s love. A perfect love. Unfailing.

People will fail us all the time… Even those who love us the most.

He embraces trust, and not his feelings. Not his emotions. When we’re falling apart, feelings and emotions will absolutely deceive you. David is wise to put his trust in something that won’t fail him.

My heart rejoices in your salvation.

Are you kidding me here, David? What is there to rejoice about when life is unraveling all around you? This is what I thought when I first read this verse! He’s not rejoicing about his circumstances. He’s not rejoicing in the way people are treating him. He certainly isn’t rejoicing about feeling alone.

But he rejoices in his salvation.

He knows (not feels) that God has his back, no matter what. He knows that ultimately, no matter what happens with the junk spewing around him, he belongs to God.

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

Wow. Even in the midst of utter turmoil and feeling shaken, David chooses to sing. And he wasn’t singing to perform for anyone in this instance. He sings a song to the Lord. Why?

Because of God’s goodness.

He probably thought about all the blessings God had poured out upon him before his current catastrophe. When we focus on God’s goodness from the past, it gets us through the present problems.

And if you don’t like the sound of your own voice? Then turn on some Christian music and sing along with someone else’s. Yes! Praise and worship music lifts my spirit when I’m in a slump.

Even if life isn’t falling apart for you right now, at some point it will (John 16:33). Purpose now in your heart to embrace these 3 things for when those moments come crashing down.

If you are in the midst of life falling apart right now, embrace these powerful truths and hold on….He is with you.

TRUST (in his unfailing love)

REJOICE (in your salvation)

SING (about his goodness)

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

 

 

Cherish What Matters

Just a few seconds earlier and he would’ve been dead for sure.

A near-death experience with some scratches could have been spinning out of control into a fatal bloody mess.

Just a few days ago, the driver of a semi-truck didn’t see my husband’s car in the right lane. He was on a mission to get off the exit so he could get to his required weigh station. But then he slammed into the back of Jim’s car.

Just a minor dent and a handful of scratches on the car. No injuries to the driver or Jim. Amazing to say the least.

When I got the call, my heart skipped several beats. Realizing Jim was okay, I gradually calmed down and breathed normally. But I was shaken up for the next couple hours just thinking about what could have happened to my husband.

My focus shifted from his close call with a semi to the moments I had with him before he left for his trip.

He was a bit stressed trying to get ready for his business trip. Rushing around, he reminded me that the tires on the Jeep needed air. He would get to it before I had to leave with my daughter for an appointment.

Stressed from some conflict with my daughter, I felt frustrated. With little margin left, it was time to go. We had a forty minute drive with thirty-five minutes to get there! But Jim had waited until the last-minute to put air in my tires.

Come on! We’re already running late! Why did you wait until now to do this? I told you what time we needed to leave!!

I snapped at him. And he snapped back at me.

Pulling out of the driveway, I barely glanced at him. I knew he was getting ready to leave for his trip in just a couple of hours. He would likely be gone before we got back. No time for a kiss goodbye. It was time to go.

After getting off the phone with him that night, I replayed in my mind our last conversation and moments of snapping at each other.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. If he’d been killed in that accident, rushing out the door and snapping at each other would’ve been our last shared moment together on this earth.

Tears flooded my eyes and I broke down.

We may think we’ll grow old with our spouse. But the reality is that we just don’t know how many days we truly have with one another.

We may take for granted that we’ll live to watch all our kids grow up into adulthood. But there are no guarantees for anyone.

My spouse’s near-death experience has changed my perspective on how to live my life.

I should cherish every moment I have with my loved ones.

I should live in the moment instead of getting too caught up in the next thing on my schedule.

I should be ready to offer grace when people don’t follow through with my expectations.

I should take a few seconds to give those hugs or kisses, even if it means I’ll be late.

 

This doesn’t mean we should let fear and worry consume our every waking moment! It also doesn’t mean we linger over past regrets that can’t be changed.

I’m praying for God to just help me enjoy the life He’s given me.

To live it to the fullest.

To savor the moments that really matter.

To soak up His love so I can pour it out on those around me.

To focus more on what is eternal instead of the things that won’t last. 

Sometimes I need something to stop me in my busy-self-centered tracks to realize what’s really important. For me, it was a collision between a semi and my spouse. For you it might be something else.

I encourage you today, dear friend, to slow down and cherish the moments that really matter. 

 

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

How to Win the Fight

Your spouse offends you with unwholesome words. You’re innocent (as far as you know). Your flesh enraged, you lash back. And before you know it, a full-fledged argument is underway. This is the time to fight! Right?

Your tween-aged daughter gives you that hateful look again, and before you even have a chance to think, sassy words come spewing out of her mouth. No time for this kind of behavior! Your flesh ignited with anger, you raise your voice a bit higher (a.k.a. YELLING), telling her she’d better go to her room…or else. This is the time to fight! Right?

As much as my flesh wants to say, YES! It’s time to FIGHT, deep down in my soul, I know it’s not.

Actually, it IS time to fight. But not with your spouse. Not with your child.

Huh?

According to Ephesians 6:12, we need to redirect our focus towards the real enemy.

 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Our biggest struggles are usually with our family members. Our flesh and blood. Who’s in agreement with me?

But God emphasizes that our struggle shouldn’t be with them. Will we have struggles with them? Yes. Will we have conflict with them? Yes. Will we get frustrated and feel like there’s nothing else we can do? Yes.

But ultimately our struggle is actually a battle between our soul and the enemy. The enemy against all Christ followers. Satan.

We are called to battle on our knees in prayer instead of getting pulled in to mindless yelling matches. This is not easy. I have learned the hard way that being flesh-driven instead of spirit-led causes me much grief and disappointment.

This powerful verse in Ephesians is a reminder to me that God can fight my battles a lot better than I can. When I take my concerns, hurts and offended heart directly to Him, then He takes over and gives me victory. Sometimes I  only have a split second to decide how I’ll respond. The times I’ve chosen to walk away and find a quiet place to pray turn out so much better, bringing me peace only He can give. But the times I take things in my own hands and fight in my flesh? Not a pretty picture at all.

The enemy is out to destroy our marriages. Our families. Our close relationships. He won’t back down.

But God is for us. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in this world!

I pray that wherever you have conflict today with that family member or close friend, you’ll be ready to FIGHT!

Not in the flesh. But on your knees.

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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.

 

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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