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

Wounded with Words?

Ephesians 4:29 ‘Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.’

This scripture cuts straight to the heart. Right to the core. Ouch!

I’m reminded of it when I’m tempted to say something unwholesome. But I’m often reminded of it after I’ve already said something unwholesome.

But what about when someone else gushes out the unwholesome talk? What do you do with this truth when someone else is not building you up? Maybe it feels like you’re being torn down instead.

Your spouse mutters something harsh.

Your child spurts out sass.

Your co-worker offends you.

Your neighbor calls you a name I can’t type out on this blog.

Yes. We’ve all had someone speak unwholesome words to us.

I want to bring up this verse to them in that moment. I yearn to spout off the memorized words as a rebuttal!

Don’t you know what God’s word says about how you’re speaking to me? Don’t you know how you’re coming across?

I open my Bible so I can see the verse up close–rubbing my finger across these powerful words. The whole time thinking that I deserve to be built up instead of torn down.

I’ve been the one to speak unwholesome words before.

But not this time.

I’ve been hurt with harsh words. Sassy words. Offensive words. Words that cut deep to my core. I even let out a prayer that goes something like this:

Jesus, I’m so upset right now. Did you hear what he/she said to me? Did you see that play out? Do you know how I feel right now?

Turning to verse Ephesians 4:29, I read it again. Feeling justified with how this person has indeed spoken unwholesome words to me, I let out a sigh.

Keep reading, Lisa.

What, Lord??

Keep going, there’s more.

Just three verses away from verse 29, I read verse 32. It knocks the breath out of me. I didn’t know this verse was here. 

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

After I let this powerful truth sink in, I realize something. Verse 32 is written on the tails of verse 29 for a reason. Don’t miss this!

Other people will speak unwholesome words to us. Other people will sometimes tear us down.

Yes, the standard is to speak wholesome words. Yes, the command is to build up.

But we live in a fallen world. We are surrounded by other sinners. We are sinners.

So when other people don’t live up to verse 29, I’m commanded to forgive them in verse 32. I might expect my loved ones to model verse 29, but I should be willing to forgive with the truth from verse 32.

I love how God inspired Paul to write these verses in this specific order! We should strive to weigh our words carefully. We should pray for our loved ones to do the same.

But when they don’t…(not IF!)

We go to the feet of Jesus and humbly ask him for the power and strength to FORGIVE.

There are times when we need to hold people accountable for their words.  Times to discipline children for their words. And sometimes people seek help for verbally abusive situations.

But ultimately we are still called to forgive.

It’s hard and I don’t always feel like doing it.

In those moments, we are given the choice to surrender our wounded heart to the one who forgave and continues to forgive us.

What about you? Do you struggle with speaking unwholesome words? How do you respond when someone speaks unwholesome words to you?

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

When Your Body Wears Down

2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 

She loved running. This passion fueled her for many years. But one day the excruciating pain in her knees and hips drove her to see her doctor. After waiting for x-ray results, the dreaded diagnosis hit her smack in the face. “I hate to tell you this, but you have osteoarthritis,” the doctor informed. Unfamiliar with the condition, she pleaded with her doctor to explain this culprit—the very thing interfering with her running. Losing heart, she dropped her head in despair.

Osteoarthritis. Not something any runner wants to hear. But the truth is, as we age, osteoarthritis becomes an issue for one out of every two people. Also known as a degenerative joint disease, it causes inflammation and pain in one or more joints. A lifetime of walking, exercising and moving around in general takes a toll on our cartilage. Once arthritis of this type sets in, the cartilage deteriorates, which can lead to bone scraping against bone. Even if you don’t develop osteoarthritis, the stark truth remains: We lose muscle tone and bone strength the older we get!

Dear friend, don’t let this truth bring you down. It’s an uncontrollable fact that our physical bodies will wear down. They won’t last forever. Even the bodies of the most elite runners will eventually wear out. Living in a fallen world, all human beings have a common condition. It’s called sin. But as followers of Christ, we don’t have to lose heart. We don’t have to drop our heads in despair. We can rejoice! Why? Our soul doesn’t waste away. Our soul is renewed day by day.  We become more like Christ through the process of sanctification. The more we seek after him, the stronger our faith becomes. The more we rest in his presence, the power of sin loses its grip on us. The more we humbly surrender to his calling, the more he increases in us.

And the good news gets even better. Even after our physical bodies wear out and we take our last breath on this earth, we are immediately ushered into the presence of God. We’ll see him face-to-face. He promises us a brand new resurrection body. A body that won’t wear out. A body that won’t deteriorate. A body without any pain. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get to continue our running journey in heaven. No shin splints. No cramping muscles. No torn ligaments. No aching knees. Can you imagine that?

So until that day comes, we keep on running. We keep pressing on. We run our hearts out until we can’t take another step. No matter what type of physical diagnosis we receive for our earthly body, we’ll graciously accept it when that time comes. In the meantime, we keep running in our spiritual race. We keep pressing into Jesus. We run our heart out until our last breath. We can rejoice in the fact that we’ve already received our spiritual diagnosis. We are sinners saved by grace.

READY?  Is your life currently affected by any physical pain? What are you most looking forward to when you will experience living in a brand new body in heaven? Whether you have physical pain or not, is your faith growing stronger? What steps do you need to take to keep God the center of your life?

GET SET. 1 Timothy 4:8 “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

GO!  Lord Jesus, I feel weary sometimes living in this physical body! Help me not to focus solely on my physical condition, but to embrace caring for the soul you’ve given me. Thank you for the promise of a new body in heaven. But even more so, thank you for the promise of seeing you face-to-face one day. Help me live in such a way that my life pleases you for the days I run my race of faith on this earth. Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, check out my BOOK.

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Messy Meditations

Psalm 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you. Oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I can polish my words if I want to. I can say the right things. Even build others up with exactly what they need to hear. These are my spoken words–audible for those around me to hear.

Sometimes I get this right and can walk away from a conversation feeling pretty good. I’ll even thank God for giving me the perfect words to say to someone who was in need of encouragement. I’ll praise him for helping me speak kind words to my husband. I’ll breathe a sigh of relief that I spoke gently to my daughter instead of losing my patience.

But it’s the next part of that verse that really trips me up! The meditation of my heart…

What exactly is that? When I did some digging, I learned the Hebrew word for meditation, hagah, means to ponder, imagine or think. Simply put, it is our thoughts.

This is where it gets really ugly sometimes.

Sometimes our thoughts consist of the following:

*Negative self-talk

I’m a horrible mother for yelling at my child.

I can’t do anything right.

Why bother?

I’ll never change. 

*The things we rehearse in our mind when others hurt us

If she offends me again, I’ll have a better comeback.

Why didn’t I tell him what I really thought?

She’s nothing but a @#$*!  

*Lies about God

He can’t possibly forgive me for this.

He doesn’t really care.

He’s out to get me.

 

The things we ponder, imagine or think are not audible to others around us. While they may hear our words loud and clear, they don’t have any idea what is going on in our mind.

But God does. 

This is the place where I struggle!! Even if nobody around me has a clue as to what I’m thinking, my heavenly father knows it all.   Every. Single. Thought.

Even if I say the right words to my daughter, God knows what I’m pondering as I walk away, fists clenched.

Even if I remain silent after my husband offends me, God knows what I’m mulling over in my mind.

Even if I smile at the woman in Target who irritated me, God knows the hateful thoughts I’m thinking about her.

Even if I don’t honk my horn at the driver who cut me off, God hears the ugly mumbling coming out underneath my breath. (And if nobody’s in the back seat, those mumblings are usually louder!)

Yes. This is where I learn humility. This is what drives me to my knees in prayer. This is where God does his most transforming work IN me. This is what reminds me moment-by-moment why I need a savior.

So how do you keep your thoughts pleasing to God? How in the world do you possibly keep the junk out?

Although I’m a work in progress, I’ve found comfort in the rest of that verse: Oh Lord, my strength and redeemer.

I certainly can’t count on my own strength to pull me out of the pit of ugly thoughts. It’s his strength that does this.

I’m also challenged by the scripture found in 2 Corinthians 10:5:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

So instead of dwelling on the hurtful things I’m tempted to say to someone, I can tackle that ugly thing and acknowledge it before God, turning it into a prayer instead.

Instead of replaying damaging scenarios in my mind, I ask God to redirect my thoughts.

Rather than get pulled in to negative self-talk, I praise him instead for who he says I am in Christ Jesus.

Praise God for the comfort and power found in this scripture! For when my thoughts do NOT please him, I can humbly confess them and trust that HE will help me in that moment.

What about you, dear friend? Do you too struggle with negative thoughts? Do you feel defeated by a pattern of negative thinking? You don’t have to linger there. You can have victory in the power and strength he longs to give his children.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Check out my book, Embracing The Race:40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul

Branches of Humility

In the dead of winter, the trees stand barren. Without any budding leaves, they appear so dismal.  Almost as if they are whispering pangs of loneliness. Just months prior their leaves danced in the sunlight, thriving with life. But one by one, their leaves dropped to the ground as autumn exited and winter made its grand entrance.

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But these barren trees in the bitter cold are a reflection of something powerful. A symbol of a deeper story that relates to each and every one of us. Don’t miss this! It’s something you’ll never forget once your eyes have been opened.

These winter trees symbolize seasons of humility. Every fiber of life seems to be disappearing right in front of our eyes. Life slows down to an abrupt halt. Just like the trees, we stand bare. The cold winds of the unexpected blow harshly deep in our souls and we feel so barren. Helpless. We can’t hide anymore. Just like the colorful leaves of autumn disappear, we’re left with nothing. We don’t feel alive. We don’t feel pretty. There’s no beauty in our days. Stripped bare of anything promising, we have NOTHING to offer.

But take a closer look at those leave-less trees. There’s something intriguing about them. On a bright-sunny day, although blistering cold, there is a unique beauty that silently whispers. Faint glimmers of hope. The sunlight twinkles more brightly through those barren branches. It seems more powerful because there’s no leaves to block its path. A transcendent splendor. You can see every tiny branch, shooting in multiple directions off the main trunk of the tree. These tiny twigs you wouldn’t see if they were covered with flourishing leaves.

Every. Single. Part of that tree is visible. Nothing is hidden.

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You don’t see the winter trees bending over to hide their barrenness. You don’t see them withering away for lack of fruit. You don’t see them cutting themselves down. What are they doing?

They are standing still. Standing tall. Roots stronger than ever. They aren’t going anywhere.

They must wait. In the right time, spring will come again. New buds will grow. Slowly. One at a time.

The once barren branches will produce something beautiful when the season is over. This season of winter prepares them for spring.

We too must wait patiently through our seasons of humility. Those times when we feel utterly hopeless. Helpless–desperate for any sign of life. And just as the sunlight shines brighter through those barren branches, the love and grace of God illuminates more powerfully through our surrendered souls. A mysterious, marvelous beauty. When we have nothing to offer, this power is magnified immensely. For all to see. For all to be pointed towards our amazing God.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to be in a season of humility. When things come crashing down all around you. No fruit. No life. Everything looks dark and gloomy. It’s okay to say God, I have absolutely nothing to offer you right now. I’m bare inside and don’t feel happy. 

He welcomes our seasons of humility. He beckons us to surrender everything to Him. His astounding grace and mercy is lavished on us during these times. The end result is breath-taking. A gift only He could articulately design.

What about you? Are you walking through a season of humility? Do you feel barren and hopeless? Ashamed? Unworthy? Insecure?

Stand still, dear friend. Stand tall like the trees of winter, knowing that your roots are in place. Growing stronger with each passing day. Although you feel stripped with nothing to offer, please know you are dearly loved by our amazing God. Let His light shine through you. Soak up the warmth of His light. Breathe in the life of His presence. He’s got you. And remember…..winter doesn’t last forever. Spring is coming.

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James 4:6 God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com

 

 

 

 

 

HURLING OFF THE HINDRANCES

Hebrews 12:1  let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…”

It’s race day!  A cold breeze gushes through the crowd. Runners quickly jog in place to stay warm. You can see your breath in the coolness of the air. Shivering, you count down the minutes until start time.  Your outer layer will be discarded later, but for now it’s keeping you warm before the race. The race finally begins and you’re content with this outer layer. It fits snugly around you, giving immediate warmth and comfort. But then something happens. Your body thaws out, gradually heating up to a full sweat. This shirt you earlier couldn’t do without feels cumbersome, causing you much distress. You’re ready to throw it off.  You literally peel it off and toss it, knowing you’ll never see it again. But at this point you don’t care because you can run with more ease and freedom. Getting rid of the sweat shirt lightens your load.  As you continue running along the race course, you notice a mass of shirts and jackets strewn across both edges of the road. You realize you’re among other runners who know this truth: you can’t run efficiently unless you throw off the things that weigh you down.

Should we not have this same attitude with our sins? The hindrances entangling us—weighing us down.  They utterly leave us burdened and miserable. But we often convince ourselves we’re okay with them. We think they’ll keep us comfortable, snug and protected from the cold, distant world. But we can only go so far before we start to realize we’re getting uncomfortable. Our soul is miserable with this added weight. We feel burdened with anguish. Feelings of defeat hinder us from walking in victory.

The verse in Hebrews tells us to literally throw off our sins. A runner who’s fallen into her perfect stride isn’t going to slow down, prance over to the side of the road and neatly lay her old sweat shirt down. Of course not! Just when she notices the change in her body temperature, and feels the heat inside, she knows it’s time. She quickly peels off the cumbersome sweat shirt, tugging furiously to get it over her head. And with all her might she’ll fling it as far away from her as possible.

That, my dear friend, is what we are called to do with sin. Just when we recognize the change in our thoughts. The change in our heart. The change in our attitude. We detect something isn’t right. We feel miserable. Maybe it’s selfish thoughts. Perhaps it’s a prideful action, hurting our loved ones. Or maybe we lash out with angry words to defend our way of doing things. Then we feel weighed down with guilt we weren’t meant to carry. Anguish rises up inside. When we recognize this, that’s when we grab the ugly thing it really is and strip it off. We hurl it out of sight and into the forgiving arms of Jesus. He’s strong enough to catch those sins we’ve thrown at Him along our path. He has the power to forgive and redeem because of what he did on the cross. And then He does something incredible; he hurls our forgiven sins completely away from us…never to be seen again.

 

READY? What are you allowing to hinder your walk with Jesus? Are you clinging tightly to a certain sin? Are you ready to call it what it is and throw it off? Ask God to show you what is weighing you down so you can cast it off and run your race in victory.

GET SET.  Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west He has removed our sins from us.”

GO!  Lord Jesus, I come to you humbly and ask you to show me the sins I’m allowing to weigh me down. Help me acknowledge them before you. I confess them now and ask your forgiveness. Soften my heart so I can be more sensitive to the sins that grieve your heart. Help me let go of anything that keeps me from walking in victory. Amen.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com

 


Are You Ready for Christmas?

The closer we get to Christmas Day, the more you’ll hear this question:

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

What exactly does this question mean to you?

“Have you finished your shopping?”

“Have you wrapped all your presents?”

“Have you bought all the food you’ll need for that perfect Christmas dinner?”

“Have you finished buying those last-minute stocking stuffers?”

I think these are the thoughts that pop into our head when people ask, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

But deep down in my heart, I’m never comfortable answering this question. If Christmas is truly about the coming of Jesus to save us from our sins, then perhaps the question we should really be asking is this:

Are we ready for Christ?

Are we ready to humbly admit our need for a savior?

Are we ready for Jesus to continue refining the rough places of our ugly flesh?

Are we ready to surrender that one area of our lives that keeps tripping us up?

Are we ready to say yes to Him when our fear compels us to say no?

I’d much rather answer the questions about whether my shopping is done and if my kids’ stockings are ready (they’re not!). It’s easier to smile and say I still have that one last gift to wrap and those last few items to get at Kroger for our Christmas brunch.

But it’s much harder to admit that my flesh is still fighting against selfish pride.  Every. Single. Day.

I need a savior every moment of every day!

It’s hard to confess that there are several rough places in my soul needing a gentle touch and smoothing out by the grace of God.

I need Jesus to not only be my redeemer, but my holy refiner!

It’s hard to own up to the fact that I’m fearful of the unknown and what lurks around the corner of the next phase of my life.

I need the peace of Jesus to calm my fears!

Am I ready for Christ?

Yes.

I’m ready for Him to take all the yucky, ugly, shameful, fearful things in my flesh and make them into something beautiful that only HE can accomplish. Yes, I’m ready. Because my way of doing things–apart from Him–doesn’t usually turn out very well.

On Christmas Day, the gifts will be unwrapped, the stockings will be emptied, and the food will be gobbled up. And just days afterward the tree will come down, the Christmas decorations boxed up and the after-Christmas sales will expire.

Nobody will ask you again until next year, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

But each and every day after Christmas, we must answer this question: Are you ready for Christ?

Ready for Him to interfere with your plans?

Ready for Him to lead you out of your comfort zone?

Ready for Him to take you to the next step of his purpose for you?

So dear friend, I ask you to answer honestly……Are you ready for Christ?

I pray God’s richest blessings upon you and your families. May you have a Merry Christmas! But most importantly, I pray you will embrace Jesus Christ every day of the year.

Ready for Christmas

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com