French Fries for the Father

I’m rerunning this golden-arches-oldie for you today as I try to meet a publication deadline on my next book …stay salty, dear TEA friends!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

One day, God the Father decided to try out the local fast-food restaurant. He drove His car past the golden arches to the drive-through, contemplating what to order. God heard French fries were popular with the people, so He resolved to give them a taste.

“Hello. Welcome to the Golden Arches. May I take your order?” the speaker squawked at God.

God, with His exceptional hearing and knowledge of several languages, had no trouble understanding the faceless voice. “Yes, I’d like to try your French fries today,” He answered.

“Would you like a drink with that?” asked the voice.
“No, just French fries, please,” answered God, the Living Water.
“That will be $2.29. Please drive to the window,” instructed the voice.

And so, God the Father pulled ahead to the window, found some coins with Caesar’s picture in the glove box, and purchased His French fries.

God drove away from the restaurant, sampling the fries. They were cool. Room temperature. Not steaming hot, like French fries fresh from the deep fryer should be. God was not pleased. This reminded Him of some of His people who were not cold nor hot. They go to church and hear His Word, but don’t act upon it (James 1:22). They love God with only part of their hearts, instead of all their hearts (Matt. 22:37-38). He spit out the lukewarm fries and drove back to the drive-through.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV)

“Hello. Welcome to the Golden Arches. May I take your order?” the speaker squawked at God again.
“Yes, I was just here and ordered fries, but they aren’t hot,” replied God patiently.
“Oh, we are very sorry. We’ll replace those with a new batch,” answered the voice. “Please pull forward.”

So, God drove ahead to the pick-up window again, eager to try some properly cooked French fries. He was handed a container of piping hot French fries.
“Thank you,” said God as He pulled away.

Almost on the road, He sampled this new batch of French fries. They were definitely hot out of the fryer, steaming as He lifted one to His mouth. But the taste! There was no salt. How could they forget the salt? This reminded God of His people who had lost their saltiness. They were not willing to give up everything to follow Him (Luke 14:33). God drove to the nearest trash can and tossed out the un-salty fries, before heading again to the drive-up window.

Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Luke 14:34-35

“Hello. Welcome to the Golden Arches. May I take your order?” the speaker squawked at God for the third time.
“I was just here twice for French fries. The first time they were lukewarm, and I spit them out. The second time they had lost their saltiness, and I threw them away. Do you think you could give Me some HOT and SALTY fries, please?” His voice commanded.
“Yes, Sir!” responded the wise worker inside the restaurant. “Please pull forward.”

So for the third time, God drove to the pick-up window and received His French fries, hoping for piping hot, salty ones this time. And He was not disappointed. They were just as He desired.

Today’s TEA CUPP: God the Father wants us to be hot and salty for Him. He spits out the lukewarm and those who have lost their salt. How can we stay hot and salty? Dig into His Word the Bible, pray for God to show us where we fall short, meet with other Christians for Bible study, keep seeking Him, share with others… never stop growing and serving Jesus. Then we will be fit for service, not with the burger king, but with the true King of kings.

You are the salt of the earth…
Matthew 5:13

Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.
Mark 9:50

…With all your offerings you shall offer salt.
Leviticus 2:13

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Tea in the Storm

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2 (NKJV)

God has always been in the storms.  Ever since He created the earth, His Spirit has hovered over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2).  Today with hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, cancer, rushing children to hospitals, family difficulties, government corruption…we may wonder where God is.  Yet He is right there, ready to carry us through the storm. 

One Sunday our pastor gave a sermon on the passage from Mark 4:35-41 about Jesus calming the sea.  He pointed out for us in Mark 4:36 where it says, “And other little boats were also with Him.”  There are other little boats on the sea, too.  We aren’t the only ones in this storm.  Others need Jesus’ help and our example of faith.  Let’s ask Jesus to calm the storm for everyone.

Today I give you a special TEA CUPP with verses from this story.  You can claim God’s promise to still the waves.  You can wake Jesus up and ask Him, “Don’t You care?”  You can stand amazed at His miracles and proclaim, “Who is this, that even the wind and sea obey Him?”

T for Thanksgiving:

He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:29,31 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:41 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

 

But He said to them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Mark 4:40 (NKJV)

 C for Calling:

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, Let us cross over to the other side.” Mark 4:35 (NKJV)

 U is for Understanding our story:

Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with HimAnd a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. Mark 4:36-37 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still! And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  Mark 4:39 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? Mark 4:38 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read the amazing story in Mark 5:35-41, The Sea is Stilled.  Use these verses as conversation starters in your prayer time with Jesus today, all week, or any time you or loved ones are going through a storm.

The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled. Psalm 77:16 (NKJV)

You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.  Psalm 89:9 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Tools, not Rules

Every job has tools.  Baking a cake calls for a bowl, spoon or mixer, and an oven.  Building a fence takes a saw, hammer, nails, level, and maybe even a post driver.  Painting a house requires paint, brushes, a ladder, and perhaps some scaffolding. Prayer is no different. My TEA CUPP Prayers is about giving ladies tools to pray with Jesus each day. 

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)

There is no right way to pray to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But My TEA CUPP Prayers will help you get started so you can spend time with Him in your own special way.  Let’s unpack the toolbox and see what we might need…

  1. A Bible to read and let Jesus speak to us first.
  2. A bookmark list of prayer requests.
  3. A hymnal to sing praises to God.
  4. A journal to record our prayers.
  5. A pen to write those prayers.
  6. A teacup or mug of your favorite beverage.
  7. A quiet spot for just you and Jesus.

As you sit in your quiet spot, sipping your morning mug, open your Bible (the Psalms, or Genesis, or John are good places to begin).  Read a chapter or two and let God speak to your heart.  Underline your favorite verses and use those verses as conversation starters as you pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer.  You can write the verse in your prayer journal and then add to it all you want to share with the Lord. You’ll find some verses are good for telling God, “Thanks.”  I like to mark those with a “T” in my Bible.  Some verses are good for exalting or praising Jesus. I mark those with an “E” in my Bible.”  Some verses are good for admitting our sins. Those I mark with an “A” in my Bible.  And I keep going with the CUPP for Calling, Understanding, Promises, and Petitions. You can pray all the parts each day or just one part a day, depending on the verses you underline. Soon you will have a prayer routine that is just right for you and Jesus.

If you lose your toolbox or forget to bring it with you, remember, you can still pray!  Strip away the quiet spot, and you just pray amidst the chaos.  Remove the hot drink, and you find yourself drinking Living Water.  Lose the pen and journal, and you pour your heart out with your voice.  Forget the hymnal, and you sing new songs to the Lord of your own.  Misplace your prayer list bookmark, and pray for whomever God puts upon your heart.  Hide your Bible and it’s just you and Jesus (but you best find it for next time!). 

A dear lady in my Bible study group earnestly shared one Wednesday morning, “It doesn’t matter what words you use to pray.  God knows your heart and hears your prayers.  You can’t make your prayer any better with more words or fancier words.  Just pray your heart.”  This stuck with me from that day forward.  It doesn’t matter if I do the entire TEA CUPP or just part of it, or write my prayers, or say them aloud, or use clever words, or simple words…God hears all my prayers.  And when I’m at a loss for words, His Word, the Bible, gives me all the words I need to keep on praying.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear friend, it’s time to pack your toolbox so you are ready to pray!  Find everything you need and lay it out for tomorrow morning.  Set your alarm for 5 a.m., get up, fill your morning mug, be amazed at what God will do with your prayer time.

If you enjoyed this devotion, you might also like to read Prayer Journal How-tos and My Jesus Spot and How to Get Started with Your Jesus Tea.

Where I Met Jesus

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

This past weekend I had the joy of sharing my testimony at a reunion with my Iowa State University Track and Cross Country team.  Oh the happiness and tears of seeing these dear sisters again.  Thank you, old teammates, for letting me share my story with you…

For 34 years I’ve had a dream to run a marathon. Two weeks ago God helped me fulfill this dream when I ran my first marathon in Bozeman, Montana. The good news is I finished the race.  The bad news is it took me 34 years, but that’s okay. My goal was to run it in 4 hours.  After 8 miles my legs were hurting, at 18 miles I was ready to stop, but I pressed on. At 22 miles some fellow hollered that I could break 4 hours if I kept going, so I kept going, but crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 7 minutes.  I was so thankful to Jesus to be done, thankful to be close to 4 hours, but a bit disappointed to not have made my goal.  But later, when sharing a meal with my family, I asked my college son Kevin to look up the reference for “I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.”  He found it in his smartphone BIBLE.  The verse comes from 2 Timothy 4:7, 4-7 just like my time, 4 hours and 7 minutes. It was then I knew that God had His hand in the entire race, I was in His will.  I believe God has had HIS HAND on all our lives, ever since He brought us together and through the tragedy that seared our hearts in 1985.

God’s hand has been upon us all since He brought us to Iowa State University in the 1980s.  I see this in those He called into ministry, in those He blessed as wives and mothers, in those who are leading lives of integrity in your chosen professions, and in those who are still seeking, trying to put the pieces back together like me.

I’ve wanted to run a marathon ever since I was 18.  Like most of us, I was in the best shape of my life in the spring of 1985, my freshman year of college, but it didn’t fit in with our track schedule to run a marathon.  I carried the dream with me into the fall cross country season that year, and then came the accident that changed all our lives forever.  In that one day, you and I lost everything dear to us and our dreams crashed in a yard in Des Moines, Iowa. 

But there is Someone who can pull dreams back up and make them happen.

There is Someone who can give us beauty for ashes, joy for tears, and dancing for mourning. 

There is Someone who is with us here right now, still reaching out to hold us in His hands.

I want to thank you for letting me share my story with you today. I’ve had the blessing of sharing this story with ladies groups over the years as I invite them to have TEA with Jesus, but this is my first time to tell you, the dear people who were all so much a part of it.  In my ministry, I encourage ladies to sit down with their Bibles, a cup of tea, and spend time with Jesus each morning.  We all have this cup called life, and we need to refill it with His Word each day.  But sometimes, our cups spill and everything goes pouring out on the ground, all in a moment.  November 25, 1985, was a day like that.

We all have a story to tell.  Yours is just important as mine.  I think of in the BIBLE how there are so many people gathered around Jesus at the cross and some are mentioned like Mary, but there are those on the sidelines who are hurting just as much, but who aren’t mentioned.  Their lives were also forever changed by Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, just as all of us on the cross country and track and men’s team and students and roommates at ISU were changed by the loss of our beloved coaches and teammates.  Thank you for letting me share my part of the story…

I share this in honor of my Savior Jesus and the lives He took 34 years ago so that we could live.  My testimony is a tribute to these dear souls: Coach Ron Renko, Coach Pat Moynihan, Runners Sheryl Maahs, Julie Rose, Sue Baxter, Trainer Stephanie Streit, and their Pilot Burt Watkins. I can’t wait to see them all in heaven!

I run in the path of Your commands,
for You have set my heart free.
Psalm 119:32 (NIV)

This is my running story.

I was not always a runner.  I was the one with the side ache walking at the tail end of the grade school PE class.  I was the one who could never hope to qualify for the presidential fitness award.  I was so slow!  But something happened in late junior high.  I discovered I had something that was needed to be a long-distance runner…perseverance.  And so I left the sprinters to their fast legs and joined the distance runners.  Slowly, slowly the side aches went away and I learned how to run.  In high school, my coach, my team and my workout became the centerpiece of my life.  I was dedicated to a fault, always running my complete workout, never cutting corners, such perfection was my religion.

When I headed to college, I wanted to continue running, so I walked-on as a cross country runner here at Iowa State. I remember the summer day when I walked up the stairs in the old State Gym to Coach Ron’s office to ask if I could join the team.  I was so scared, but he must have already talked to my high school coach and decided to take a risk on me.  A month later I was in the van headed to the grueling pre-season training in Wisconsin with many of you.

Let’s talk about those van rides.  Somehow, everyone knew that the passenger seat in front was a hot seat, whoever sat there got to talk to Coach Ron.  And for some reason, since I didn’t know anyone else on the team, that seat was left for me. When we would return from training or meets, since my parents’ home in north Ames was close to where Coach Ron lived, I was the last one to get dropped off.  I remember him talking and talking to me and I wish I could repeat one sentence for you today of what he said, but I was so young and nervous and just wanted to get home, I don’t think I heard it.  But now I know he was pouring himself out for me, as he did for many of us when we went to his office, sharing his wisdom and love for Jesus. And it was not in vain. Neither were the encouraging words from Coach Pat when I ran my spring track workouts, nor the inspiration from Julie and Sheryl and the smiles from Sue, nor the healing from Stephanie, nor the service from Pilot Burt. None of it was in vain, God had His hand on us all.

Do you recall how twice a day we met together for workouts, running dozens of miles a week?  I was the slowest one.  When the team did 1000 meter repeats, I would finish my 1000 meters just when you were leaving for the next 1000 meters.  I would run up and down the hills crying at the end of the line, but I kept running.  And the miles paid off by spring of my freshman year when I ran my best 10K ever. I kept on running for our coaches and team, you were like a family to me, you were my church, until that November day of my sophomore year…

The sidewalks in Ames, Iowa were glazed with ice as we ran our afternoon workout. We, the junior varsity runners, were on our own this day because our coaches and faster teammates were at the National meet in Wisconsin. We thought of you as we jogged along, mostly in the grass because the walks were so slick.  After running together as a team twice a day for months, we felt a strong connection to those of you at the National meet, even though we weren’t there.  As we dutifully completed our workout in the fading light of that November afternoon, we hoped to hear news of victory at Nationals.

As you all know, the year was 1985, long before the days of cell phones.  We didn’t get news in our pockets, nor text messages from friends, nor emails on a computer.  All we had was television news and corded telephones plugged into a wall. And so we awaited good news.

But what interrupted the TV shows that evening was news of a tragedy.  I lived at home with my family still and was watching Wheel of Fortune in our basement with my brother, before diving into another evening of homework.  Partway through the show, newscasters broke in with a startling news announcement:

“A plane has plummeted from the icy skies and crashed in a yard in Des Moines, Iowa.  It was one of three planes returning with the ISU athletes after a second-place finish at the National Cross Country meet.”

I ran screaming up the stairs, unable to believe such awful news.  I called my teammates at the dormitory (on the corded phone) who had just heard the news also.  We decided to meet at the Student Union chapel for prayer (I think Paula set this up), an amazing act for a public university team.  We met and cried and prayed, not knowing who was on the plane that had crashed, and me not truly understanding the ONE to whom we prayed.

The next day we were called together for a meeting with the athletic department in Beyer Hall.  There we embraced you, our teammates who remained, and there we heard the news of who we lost. That single accident took the lives of seven dear people, and changed the lives of all those who knew them:  Our two coaches, three teammates, athletic trainer, and pilot were taken from this world. Now they are part of the great cloud of witnesses who surround us.

The grief was heart-wrenching for their families, and for those of us who lived like a family on the cross country team.

Classes were canceled at the university for a day when a memorial service was held for the athletes.  Our team marched in our gold uniforms and sat together in misery in the ISU Coliseum.  Memorials were given for each beloved person.  The one I remember most was the one Dawn gave for her friend Sheryl.  Before the thousands gathered there, Dawn spoke of how Sheryl was a Christian and is in heaven now, and that if Sheryl had the choice she wouldn’t come back to earth, even if she could.  As I listened with tears spilling from my eyes, I just didn’t understand such faith. Sheryl’s mom was so sad. Why wouldn’t Sheryl want to come back? Why?

In the days that followed, I tried to continue my running workouts along the streets of Ames, Iowa, but could barely lift my legs.  How could I go on without my coaches and teammates?  I questioned, “Why, God? Why?”

Since God allowed my coaches and teammates to be taken away from me, I ran from Him, in search of peace elsewhere, in food, in poor relationships.  Yet those gave no comfort. The plane of my life was on its way to crash, too.

I remember the following spring I made an Easter basket for a boy I liked, filled with M&Ms and other yummy things I never ate because Coach Ron told us not to eat sugar.  But then I found out the boy liked someone else so I was stuck with this basket.  One day I decided I would just eat it, and I ate it all.  That led to another and another and another bag of M&Ms until I had a big problem, eating too much and then running 15 miles to burn it off.  Somehow I found out about a group for people with eating disorders on campus. The day I went there were four of us there from the track and cross country team.  The tragedy had affected us all! But there was no group session or counseling that could take away our eating disorders or sins. We needed a Savior.

By the fall two years after the accident, I had wrecked both my parents’ cars, my bike was stolen, my life was a mess.  One morning on my way to class, I stopped by the chapel of the church where I grew up.  I got down on my knees and poured out my heart to God, asking Him to help me through the mess I had made of my life.  For half an hour I prayed and prayed in that empty church.   When I left the chapel, my heart was lighter, even though I did not know what God was going to do.

Some of you must have been praying for me, because a short time later, my roommates (Becky and Sarah) were invited to attend the Baptist Student Union and brought me along.  It was in the weekly testimonies and singing, that I got to know the Savior of my soul, and my forever friend, Jesus Christ. I learned how God sent His only Son to die for our sins and someday we will be in heaven with Him and all our loved ones. My quest was over – I learned…

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 (NKJV)

This was truly a miracle from God.  Jesus gave me the peace and comfort for which I’d been searching.  He washed away all my sins and mistakes.  He took my broken soul and healed me. He filled my teacup.

I traded…

My stopwatch for the cross of Christ,

My will for God’s will,

My earthly coaches for a heavenly Father who will never leave me nor forsake me,

And instead of beginning my day with a workout, I begin it with daily devotions in God’s Word,

And so God’s Word has become my life…

And, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…the task of testifying the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24 (NIV)

My friends, PLEASE DON’T WAIT FOR ANOTHER PLANE CRASH to turn your heart to Jesus! Look unto Jesus TODAY! 

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV)

The Lord is calling us to know Jesus, to meet with Him each day!

Whatever you are facing, wherever your tea has spilled, reach out to Jesus and let Him heal your circumstances, let Him refill your cup with His Word and promises. Let Jesus give you back your dreams. Let Him hold you in the palm of His Hands.  And someday, we will all be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.” And Jesus will say, “Well done.” And we will be reunited with these loved ones who went before us into glory, and they will welcome us with open arms like it was just yesterday, and we will have that celebration that never happened the day after the race.  It will be a day of victory!

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV) 

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV) 

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms… Deuteronomy 33:26-27 (NKJV)

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)

Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.  Philippians 2:16 (NKJV)

My times are in Your hand Psalm 31:15 (NKJV)

 Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson and Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984

The Lost Hymnals

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17 (NKJV)

When I read this scripture passage from 1 Timothy, immediately my heart begins to sing and my mouth hums the great hymn by Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908). The old Welsch melody fills my thoughts as I sing…

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise. (Whalmers)

A wonderful way to exalt Jesus is to sing old hymns to Him each morning.  You can do this!  Ask your pastor if there is a closet full of old hymnals at your church and if you may please have one.  The answer is most likely, “Yes,” as many churches display the songs on screens now.  Take your “new” borrowed hymnal home and use it as part of your morning Bible TEA time.  Thumb through the pages until you find a familiar hymn to praise Jesus.

Some favorite old hymns for exalting Jesus include How Great Thou Art; To God be the Glory; Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty; O Worship the King, All Glorious Above; Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee; Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; and All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name and many more!

You may also find a new-to-you hymn with powerful words. Even if you don’t know the tune, you can pray it to Jesus. I found one like this in our old hymnal entitled, Teach Me to Pray, Lord by Albert Simpson Reitz.  The first stanza cries…

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;
This is my heart-cry day unto day;
I long to know Thy will and Thy way;
Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray. (Reitz)

Today’s TEA CUPP: The old hymns praise Jesus with His Word.  Ask to borrow an old hymnal from church for your quiet time. Put it in your Jesus spot.  Hum, sing, and exalt Jesus with glorious old hymns filled with His Word! You will be so blessed!

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25 (NKJV)

The Lord lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted.
Psalm 18:46 (NKJV)

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!
Revelation 5:12 (NKJV)

To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Jude 1:25 (NKJV)

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
And You are exalted as head over all.
1 Chronicles 29:11(NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

On our Knees

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  Psalm 95:6 (NKJV)

Eighteen years ago today, September 11, 2001, the lives of Americans, as well as citizens of the world, were changed forever.  For on this day terrorists chose to take innocent lives, countless courageous citizens gave of themselves, and our nation was brought to its knees for a time. 

What happened?  Why aren’t we still on our knees?  Some articles say church attendance increased for only a few weeks after 9/11, continuing a trend for decades of declining participation.  Yet other articles say at the very heart of the tragedy, Evangelical churches sprouted and have flourished.  Why aren’t we all still on our knees?

Why aren’t we still on our knees over the threat of the enemy?

Why aren’t we still on our knees over babies dying?

Why aren’t we still on our knees for unsaved family and friends?

Why aren’t we still on our knees for lost youth?

Why aren’t we still on our knees for our pastors and missionaries who give of themselves every day and need protection from the enemy?

Why aren’t we still on our knees?

I remember the first time I saw someone on their knees in prayer.  It was my Grandma Margaret Applequist.  Grandma was visiting us for a few weeks and was sleeping in the bedroom belonging to my sister and me.  We were sleeping in the basement to give Grandma some peace and privacy.  But I caught a cold, so they put me back upstairs in the extra bed in my own room.  A few hours after going to sleep I awoke.  A small crack of light coming from the hallway shone on my Grandma, kneeling by her bed in prayer.  What an impact that picture made on a sick, young girl’s heart.  I wanted to be like Grandma!

And yet, when I have My TEA CUPP Prayers, I sit curled on the sofa; when we pray at meals, I’m sitting at the table; when I say good-night prayers with my kids, I’m sitting on the edge of their beds, or standing by their bunks…when am I on my knees?  Though I know He hears all those prayers, God really started impressing these kneeling prayers upon my heart, so I asked Him to show me in Scripture where it says I should be on my knees, and guess what, He did!

he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God… Daniel 6:10 (NKJV)

...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow... Philippians 2:10 (NKJV)

…And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.  Acts 21:5 (NKJV)

and fell down and worshiped Him. Matthew 2:11 (NKJV)

And so, now, every evening, when my husband and I say our goodnight prayers, instead of lying in bed with one of us dozing off, we are on our knees beside the bed, pouring our hearts out to the Lord.

We hear of faithful Christians like Reverend Billy Graham wearing out the toes of their shoes or the knees of their pants because they knelt so often in prayer.  My friends, we need to do the same!  Wear out your knees for your family! Wear out your toes for your neighbors. Wear out the rug next to your bed for your country.  Let’s get on our knees and pray!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  While researching this devotion I came across another great devotion you might enjoy by Dr. David Jeremiah.  And also this one about Reverend Billy Graham.  Let’s follow their godly examples. “Do it again, Lord, do it again!”

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Ephesians 3:14 (NKJV)

Scripture taken the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

God is Love and so much more!

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:8-9 (NKJV)

O Father, You are love. And I love You, but my love is so small compared to Your huge, huge love.  Even if my heart is filled to overflowing with love,  my heart is tiny and Your heart is as big as the universe, bursting with love for all humanity, sending us Your One and Only Son Jesus to die for us, and filling us with Your Holy Spirit. Blessed Trinity be glorified today! 

Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear Friends, today I share tidbits from the EXALTING section of my prayer journal, just to show how you can use God’s Word to praise Him.  Pray these prayers as your own, find more EXALTING verses in your Bible and write them in your prayer journal. Share your heart with Jesus, it doesn’t need to be fancy, just tell Him you love Him.  Make EXALTING Jesus a part of your daily TEA time together.  He will love to hear your praises!

Who does great things, and unsearchable,
Marvelous things without number. Job 5:9 (NKJV)

O Father, O Jesus, this is You!  You do great things that we don’t even know and ones we do know, like rain and rainbows and salvation and forgiveness and heaven and peace and comfort and strength and protection and guidance.  You do it all!!! O Jesus, be glorified and magnified today, especially in my prayers for…

Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?
And what profit do we have if we pray to Him? Job 21:15 (NKJV)

O Jesus, I know You!  You are the Christ the Son, God the Father, Creator of the universe, Judge who is coming soon, King of kings, Lord of lords, Emmanuel, my Savior, my Friend, my Comforter, my Joy, my Crown, my Life, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Stronghold, my Protector, my Hiding Place, my Redeemer, my all in all! I love and praise You, Jesus!

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3 (NKJV)

O Jesus, this is You!  You are my Shield, You protect me from the enemy and send me helpers.  You are my Glory, and one day You will come again in glory!  You are the One who lifts up my head when I’m discouraged.  I love and praise You! Be glorified today!

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.
Psalm 24:7-10 (NKJV)

O Jesus, I imagine You returning and the gates and doors that open to let You out of heaven, even those gates and doors bow before you and then lift their heads in honor of the King of kings who reigns for all eternity.  O Jesus, be glorified!  I love You!  Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

then they bowed their heads and worshiped. Exodus 4:31 (NKJV)

Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”  Matthew 14:33 (NKJV)

O Jesus, they worshiped You!  Here are the Israelites in Egypt who haven’t heard from You in 400 years and they know how to worship.  Here are the disciples who also haven’t heard from the prophets in 400 years, since the Old Testament times. They are in the boat with You and they worship You!  They believe in you! They bow! They exalt and praise and worship!  O Jesus, may I do this too with all my heart. I love you!

The Lord is King forever and ever;
The nations have perished out of His land. Psalm 10:16 (NKJV)

O Jesus, You are King forever and ever. Some people don’t realize it (oh, touch their hearts!), that You are King of heaven and earth and You are coming again. That is exciting!  And every knee will bow and tongue confess that You are Lord to the glory of God the Father. O Jesus, be glorified this very day!

Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the Lord glory and strength.
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness…The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever. Psalm 29:1-2,10 (NKJV)

O Jesus, You are King forever! You are Glory and Strength!  You sit on the throne.  Oh, sit on the throne of my life and be glorified!

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!
And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen.
Psalm 72:18-19 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

 

 

What’s in your mug?

I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord. Psalm 116:13 (NKJV)

What are you sipping in your morning mug? Tea, coffee, espresso, orange juice, water, Gatorade?  We all have a favorite beverage.  I have a teacher friend who used to walk around school with a coffee mug filled with Mountain Dew because it was okay for teachers to drink coffee, but not soda pop, and she was the PE teacher! I love her sense of humor! Now she is a principal; that Mountain Dew must have worked!

My favorite morning beverage has changed over the years as my health has changed.  I used to just hold a mug of hot water in the mornings until I found out the benefits of various teas.  I also enjoyed a hot cocoa every day, but that doesn’t agree with my tummy anymore.  This summer green tea and Hammer sports drinks are my favorites as I train for a marathon, but that could all change by winter!

The important point today is not what’s in your morning mug…coffee, tea, etc…but what you are doing with your first hour of the day.  Fill up your cup and sit down with your Bible and Jesus.  You can have coffee time with Jesus while saying your TEA CUPP Prayers, it’s okay! The TEA CUPP is just an acronym for things you can talk about while you are together.  Using God’s Word we can pray: Thanking, Exalting, Admitting, Calling, Understanding, claiming God’s Promises, and Petitioning.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)

As you sip your favorite drink, emptying your mug, let Jesus refill your cup with His Word, joy, peace, and love.  Jesus is all we ever need.  He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him.  Let Jesus fill your heart and life and cup today and every day!!!

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Fill your cup with Jesus!  Plan to start every day in His Word. Set your alarm early, pour your favorite beverage, and sit down with your Bible (before even checking your phone for messages).  Let Jesus speak to you and fill you with His Word.  The chorus of a hymn by Richard Blanchard says:

Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up, Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole. 

Let this be our prayer today. Enjoy this precious version by Hope Montana. 

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Off to College

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

Today we send our third child, Kevin, off to college at Montana State University.  He follows the footsteps of his big sister and big brother while creating his own unique path.  It doesn’t get any easier with the third child! 

When we first took Kevin’s big sister to college eleven years ago, I visited Coldstone Creamery for a big chocolate indulgence dessert EVERY time we dropped her off just to drown my tears.  That was before I was dairy-free. 

When Kevin’s big brother left for college six years ago, I couldn’t imagine the day would come for Kevin to go.  And now, here it is!  And so I pray for Jesus to hear all the prayers from all the years that I have prayed for him.  I pray all these verses for Kevin.  I pray for Jesus’ angels to guard over Kevin and for him to follow God’s straight and narrow path. 

We love you, Kevin! We’re proud of you!  Go do amazing things for Jesus at MSU!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Someone you know is headed to college.  Pray these verses for him/her.  Write a verse on a card and send it to him/her in the mail, and even to his/her mom!  Save these verses for future graduation and college students.  Forward these verses to all your mom friends with college students.  Let’s pray for our college students and turn our campuses around for Jesus, one TEA CUPP at a time!

Hiding in Jesus

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2 (NKJV)

Shine for Jesus

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus2 Timothy 2:1 (NKJV)

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NKJV)

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.  Philippians 1:27 (NKJV)

My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck.
Proverbs 1:8-9 (NKJV)

Blessings

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV)

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.
Psalm 112:1 (NKJV)

Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
  Psalm 128:1 (NKJV)

Protection from the enemy

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  Ephesians 6:10-11 (NKJV)

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. Romans 16:20 (NKJV)

Let them be like chaff before the wind,
And let the angel of the Lord chase them.
Psalm 35:5 (NKJV)

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’
  Deuteronomy 33:26-27 (NKJV)

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! 2 Timothy 4:18 (NKJV)

You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7 (NKJV)

And the Lord shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.
Psalm 37:40 (NKJV)

Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me
. Psalm 50:15 (NKJV)

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
Psalm 121:7-8 (NKJV)

Thanksgiving

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4 (NKJV)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 4 (NKJV)

Wisdom from God

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5 (NKJV)

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord,
And teach out of Your law
Psalm 94:12 (NKJV)

My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
So they will be life to your soul
And grace to your neck.
Then you will walk safely in your way,
And your foot will not stumble.
  Proverbs 3:21-23 (NKJV)

Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Proverbs 4:7 (NKJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV)

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Psalm 119:33 (NKJV)

Victory in Jesus

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV)

Through God we will do valiantly,
For it is He who shall tread down our enemies
. Psalm 60:12 (NKJV)

Encouraging Promises

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.
  Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV)

He who follows righteousness and mercy
Finds life, righteousness, and honor.
Proverbs 21:21 (NKJV)

I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble
. Proverbs 4:11-12 (NKJV)

…No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11 (NKJV)

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty
. Psalm 91:1 (NKJV)

You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Psalm 139:5 (NKJV)

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. John 10:28 (NKJV)

Petitions for Student

Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me  under the shadow of Your wings.
Psalm 17:8 (NKJV)

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose.
  Psalm 20:4 (NKJV)

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Thessalonians 1:12 (NKJV)

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of GodPhilippians 1:9-11 (NKJV)

Keep my soul, and deliver me;
Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.
Psalm 25:20-21 (NKJV)

Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
Psalm 36:10 (NKJV)

Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!
  Psalm 38:21-22 (NKJV)

For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.
  Psalm 31:3 (NKJV)

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
  Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)

O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
Psalm 71:12 (NKJV)

Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes
. Psalm 119:135 (NKJV)

Staying on God’s Path

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. 1 Peter 2:21 (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
  Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.
  Psalm 17:5 (NKJV)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  James 1:12 (NKJV)

The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.
  Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV)

There are many plans in a man’s heart,
Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21 (NKJV)

A man’s steps are of the Lord;
How then can a man understand his own way?
Proverbs 20:24 (NKJV)

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.
  Proverbs 22:1 (NKJV)

Righteousness will go before Him,
And shall make His footsteps our pathway.
Psalm 85:13 (NKJV)

For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide
Even to death.
Psalm 48:14 (NKJV)

If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.
  Psalm 94:18 (NKJV)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

Go to Church!

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Psalm 122:1 (NKJV)

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
  Psalm 27:8 (NKJV)

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle. 
Psalm 43:3 (NKJV)

As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
  Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Psalm 84:10 (NKJV)

Those who are planted in the house of the Lord
Shall flourish in the courts of our God.
Psalm 92:13 (NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
  Psalm 28:6 (NKJV)

 Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Baptized in Christ Jesus

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Acts 19:5 (NKJV)

August 11, 2019 was a very special day.  For on this day, our 7-1/2 year-old son Joel was baptized in the name of Christ Jesus in the Yellowstone River.  There is nothing more precious in all the world, than to have your child give his heart to Jesus (3 John 4).  And our prayer is that Joel will continue to follow Jesus all the days of His life.  God promises us that Joel has eternal life and no one can snatch him from His hands (John 10:28-29). 

For our family, this was like coming full-circle.  For exactly nine months before Joel was born, on a zero-degree day, January 30, 2011, my husband Kent and I and our two sons, Jacob and Kevin, were baptized, publicly declaring our faith in Jesus.  I was not pregnant at the time, but there was something in the water that day. For exactly nine months later, after 11-1/2 years of prayer and three heart-breaking miscarriages, on October 29, 2011, Joel Kent was born.  And now this precious gift from God, our gift from our baptism, has been baptized in Christ Jesus, too.  All praise be to God!

Joel had been wanting to be baptized for over a year, but we wanted to make sure he understood what it was all about first.  He especially wanted to be baptized in the Yellowstone River, not inside.  When I asked Joel why he wanted to be baptized, he replied, “To let the whole world know that I believe in Christ.” It was extra special to have three of his church friends also baptized that day. Joel chose for his baptism a verse he learned at Vacation Bible School this summer from the Twenty-Third Psalm…

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for You are close beside me… Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

I hope there are not too many dark valleys ahead for Joel, but I know Jesus will be close beside him always!

Why do we get baptized?  Because Jesus set the example by being baptized by John, because it’s a symbol of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and because, as Joel said, it lets the whole world know that we love Jesus! 

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: My dear friend, my prayer is for you and all your family to love Jesus and be baptized in His name like Lydia (Acts 16:14-15).

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22:16 (NKJV)

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House