Leave No Doubt

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NKJV)

It seems that as we get older, we attend more funerals and memorial services for loved ones, friends and acquaintances in our town, some departing too soon.  The pastors leading the services always do a beautiful job of sharing memories of the departed and comfort for those left behind. We are especially comforted if we know the person is in heaven with Jesus.

I remember when my college cross country team died in a plane crash, I knew my coach was in heaven because of his life.  Whenever we came home from meets I was always the last one to be dropped off, giving Coach plenty of time to share his faith.  Coach Ron would talk long and serious about things I did not understand, yet I knew they were important.   When he wasn’t planning our next big workout, he served at his church.  Coach Ron had a dream to start a Christian running camp in northern Wisconsin. Because of his faith and example, I know my coach is with Jesus and will be there when I get there, too.

Every once in awhile, though, there is someone who we aren’t sure where she stood in her faith journey. We wonder if he is with Jesus.  We pray she is in heaven.  We ask God to comfort us and assure us he is with Jesus. But we just aren’t sure.

So, I want to encourage you today to LEAVE NO DOUBT when it is your turn to go.  Make sure that while you are living, people know you love Jesus.  Tell them how you study your Bible and meet with Him each day for prayer. Let them see the fruit of your faith in good works. Share how you are looking forward to the day when He comes to take you home.  Then, when it is your turn to leave this world, your friends and family will have NO DOUBT that you are now in heaven having TEA with the King of kings!!!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Confirm your eternal destination today by praying with Jesus.  Invite Jesus into your heart to forgive you and guide your remaining earthly days.  Then tell a friend about this heavenly TEA party so she can join you there, too!

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)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV)

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)

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

Pebble Pocks in My Palms

When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:12

Why was my nose in the dirt?  Lying face down on the gravel road with pebble marks in my hands and knees, I wondered, “What happened?” Just a split second before I was running and praying for my neighbors.  How had my feet slipped?  My shocked body just wanted to lie in the dust, but my brain told me to get up. So, I pulled my bruised flesh off the rocky ground and hobbled home.

Having a good cry on the sofa was a welcome idea, but then I remembered my busy schedule and this was my only chance to go running.  So, with band-aid help from my dear husband and youngest son, I was soon out the door and running again, this time on the smooth highway, managing to squeeze in five miles before breakfast.

Still, a week after my running fall, I could feel the pebble pocks in my palms and see the bruises on my legs, a reminder of God picking me up. I know it could have been so much worse, as friends have been through broken arms, fingers, legs, ankles, and concussions this year.  But God let me feel it in my hands to remind me of his Son Who also has marks in His hands.  His marks proclaim how He died for the sins of all the world.

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” John 20:27 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Jesus died for you, my friend.  He has nail holes in His hands to remind us of His sacrificial death on the cross.  All who believe in Jesus are saved and will live forever with Him in heaven.  Today, let Jesus pick you up from wherever you have fallen. Believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living. Psalm 116:8-9 (NKJV)

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

Afraid to Tell

afraid to tellSo they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:8 (NKJV)

It happens every spring when I read the Easter story from the book of Mark.  I’m taken back to a time when I said nothing to anyone, because I was afraid.  Perhaps you have a similar story.

We were at a church camp conference in Georgia with the theme, “This is My Story.”  Whenever there was a lull between events, the crowd would launch into a lively rendition of the old hymn.  “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long…”  The song still rings in my heart almost two decades later.

Between singing and game workshops, maintenance manuals, recipe exchanges and all the other information you need to run a church camp, there was a delightful morning Bible study.  I wish I could remember the name of the speaker who led this, an energetic, Asian-American dynamo.  She ran us through the life of Jesus in the book of Mark, because that is Mark’s pace.  She explained to us how most scholars believe the last twelve verses were tacked on later, so Mark 16:8 is really the final verse.  And what does this verse tell us?

So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:8 (NKJV)

Who were these people?  Mark 16:1 tells us they were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body.  They didn’t know how they would move the big stone that blocked the tomb.  So when they arrived, they were so surprised to see the stone already rolled away.  An angel in the tomb told them, “He is risen!”

Isn’t that the best news of all!  Would you run tell all your friends?  Well, according to Mark, these women were afraid and didn’t tell anyone at first.  I wonder how many of us are like that.  Do we know the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection, but are too scared to tell others?

The Bible study speaker challenged me to not be afraid to tell my story.  That very day I wrote my story in my journal.  The next Christmas I sent it out with our Christmas cards.  Today I continue to look for ways to tell others about the love of Jesus, how He saved me by dying on the cross, and that He is risen.  Many days, I’m still afraid, but the Holy Spirit nudges me to share more and more. Are you being nudged, too?

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read Mark 16 today.  Celebrate the Good News that Jesus is Risen!  Then find someone to tell the Good News of how Jesus has helped you.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.”  Mark 16:6 (NKJV)

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

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

My Home School Story

home school

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

The other day I realized, we’ve been home-schooling for 20 years!  This is 2016, and in 1996, when our daughter was in first grade, we began to home school.  There have been many ups and downs these 20 years, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  This story is how God called us to home school our children.  Perhaps He is calling you, too, and you are wondering how to get started.  I hope my home school story helps you…

We have four children on earth and three in heaven.  When our oldest two kids were ages three years and four months, we moved to a new state.  We were blessed to meet other families with young children who all had the same question for us, “Are you going to home school?”

I hadn’t even considered home school! But when the third person asked me, I thought perhaps God wanted me to look into it.  Our daughter attended preschool at our church when she was four. That whole year we prayed about whether she should go to kindergarten the next fall, or not.  When August rolled around, we still didn’t have an answer.

A friend was hoping to build a new house and told me the story of seeing a double rainbow right over their property; she took that as a “go” sign from God.  I prayed for God to give us a sign about school for our daughter. The next Sunday at church, the pastor announced that the new principal at our daughter’s school was a church member.  We took that as the sign, and sent our daughter off to kindergarten.  It was very hard to put our sweet, curly-haired girl on the school bus, just two weeks after her fifth birthday.

Our daughter attended a large rural school, where students came from all walks of life.  The teachers did their best to help the kids succeed, but they only had so much time for each one.  It seemed we were doing more with our daughter on the afternoons and weekends than she was doing during her school hours.  We would read stories, paint pictures, go for nature hikes, visit the zoo, write our own stories…I wasn’t sure why I needed to send her off on the bus each morning.  So, at the end of her kindergarten year, we decided to home school.

I remember my dad asking how long we would be home schooling.  I didn’t know at the time, but I thought a few years, at least. I often wondered why God wanted us to have that one year in public school, and perhaps it was to solidify our decision. Now, 20 years later, we’re still home schooling and about to start our four-year old on the journey, as well.  What have I learned in these 20 years?  Let me share a bit with you…

I’ve learned I’m not cut out for this!  Seriously, that’s what so many moms tell me, “I could never do that.  I don’t have the patience.”  My family will tell you I run out of patience, too.  But I keep on going because this is God’s calling.  If you’re going to home school, you really have to jump in and do it and never quit.  There will be good days and bad days, good years and bad years.  But in the end, you will be so glad you stuck with it.

I’ve learned that kids grow up way to fast, and home school is the best way to spend time together.  Yes, it’s true.  Our daughter is now 25 years old, a college graduate, working on a masters degree and expecting her first baby.  Our oldest son is now 22 and finishing a degree in mechanical engineering.  We are so thankful to still have our 15-year old son and our four-year old son at home!  The times I cherish the most are when we sit on the sofa together and read stories.  There is nothing cozier and more special than that!

I’ve learned that Daddy is a great help with home school.  Yes, moms, be sure to get dads involved.  Many times I was sure the kids learned more from doing a wood-working project or science experiment with Daddy, than all the months of book work they did with me.  It is so good to have Daddy on board and supporting the whole home school.  We like having Daddy help us start each day with prayer and devotion at breakfast before he heads off to work.  Often he’ll come home early to do a project, giving me a break, too.

I’ve learned to use the library.  When we first started home school, we had a very small income with no room for extras.  I took my two little ones to the library every week, where we checked out a huge stack of books.  We would spend the week reading them together.  Sometimes we would have a theme such as Africa or the circus, but other times it was just a random collection of stories.  You don’t need “real” curriculum until the kids are in fourth grade.

I’ve learned there is math all around.  Our most favorite thing to do for math is to bake cookies.  We double the recipe or use the wrong size measuring cup, just to do a little more math in our heads.  All my kids know how to make cookies!  There is also math on the calendar, the clock, the thermometer, the speedometer, the ruler, the calculator, the grocery store, in counting objects, and the list goes on!  I start my kids on Saxon Math in 4th grade, but before that we just work on facts, telling time, making up word problems, and an occasional work book from Walmart :-).

I’ve learned 4H has great lessons for kids.  From animals to sewing to cooking to wood-working to mechanics to photography to robotics to electricity…you name it!  If your kids join a local 4H club, they can sign up for any of these activities and receive detailed activity books.  Youth in 4H also learn great life lessons such as record-keeping, organization, goal-setting, community service and leadership.

I’ve learned what works for one might not work for all. But I still might use it, because I like it! There are certain books I love that I use for all our kids.  Pathway Readers and The Millers books have some of the best family stories and lessons. Other curriculum, such as Jensen Grammar for high school, I gave up on the third child.  Sorry, Mr. Jensen, we just couldn’t do grammar any more!

I’ve learned to ask friends for ideas.  Our town has a loose-knit home school group.  There is probably a group in your area, too.  In bigger towns, families get together to share lessons in a co-op fashion.  Our group passes around used books and shares tips on Facebook.  One friend and I used the same high school curriculum, and cried on each others’ shoulders every quarter when it was time to send in the school work.  It’s good to have a home school friend!

I’ve learned to make Jesus first and last.   Our days begin with prayer and an Our Daily Bread devotion at breakfast.  Our days end with the kids being tucked into bed with a prayer, too.  We know we aren’t perfect, but we ask Jesus to guide us in our lessons and activities throughout the day. Start and end your days with Jesus, and let Him fill your moments in between, too.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)

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

My Gluten-Free Story

gluten-freeAnd He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” Mark 5:34 (NKJV)

Everyone has a story. That’s what the “U” part of My TEA CUPP Prayers is all about, Understanding our stories in the light of God’s Word.  When we know our stories, it helps us share our testimony with others, encouraging them to follow Jesus.

But today I want to share a different kind of story with you, this story is how God brought me healing in a unique way. I share this in hopes that my readers might find healing, too. This is My Gluten-Free Story.

I have always had tummy troubles.  Forever there has been a bit of pain in my stomach area.  When my two oldest kids were little, I was diagnosed with chronic pelvic pain and IBS.  This was after several mortifying doctor visits where I was poked and prodded.   When our third child was born, I had an epidural.  It was the only time I could ever remember not having pain in my abdomen.  Too bad those epidurals wear off!

As my children grew, I continued to have tummy troubles, trying various supplements and healthy shakes to no avail.  We were praying for more children, but never thought about how my condition could be connected to the ability to conceive.

Finally, in the summer of 2009 we were expecting again, only to lose that baby in a painful miscarriage.  That very autumn, we were expecting again, and also lost the baby.  The following June, we lost a third baby soon after conception.  “Why is all this happening?” I pleaded with God.

At the time, we were working at a church camp.  I was in charge of ordering food from Sysco.  In the fall of 2010, Sysco offered a webinar for its customers about gluten-free cooking.  I chose to participate, thinking it would help me order the right foods for our guests.

The Sysco webinar turned out to say very little about their products. Instead, it went into great detail about Celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity.  They discussed the symptoms of those with gluten-intolerance, including stomach pains and miscarriages.  They explained how the walls of the intestine are covered with little fingers called villi. These villi absorb the nutrients from food, providing nourishment to the body.  The problem for a gluten-sensitive person is the gluten wraps itself around the villi. This makes the person not absorb nutrients, thus causing miscarriages and other health issues.  The webinar also explained that a traumatic  event, such as a miscarriage, could cause a person who was only slightly sensitive to suddenly become gluten-intolerant.

So, there I sat in our camp office, expecting to make a shopping list for the dining hall. Instead, God gave me information to make some new healthy choices.  And that is what I did.  I went back to our house and announced to my family what I had learned, giving up delicious pizza crusts and cinnamon rolls forever, in favor of better nutrition for my body.

And guess what, it was exactly one year later, in the fall of 2011, that God blessed us with our fourth child.  God healed me and answered my prayers.

I still have tummy problems off and on, giving up dairy a few years ago, too. But I don’t catch as many colds, and I know that by eating gluten-free, I’m doing my part to keep healthy for serving the Lord.  And so I share my favorite gluten-free recipes with you, even some pizza crust that is thick and yummy like the real thing.  I pray that you will enjoy these recipes and be blessed with better health.

And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.  Matthew 14:35-36 (NKJV)

 

Seven-Three-One

aLuke2.1.7“Seven verses that changed history.
Seven verses that changed the world forever.
Seven verses that change us forever,” my pastor preached the Sunday before Christmas. What were those seven verses? Luke 2:1-7, the announcement of Jesus’ birth.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7 (NKJV)

Can you imagine history without these verses? No Joseph, no Mary, no census, no birth of our Savior, no hope for mankind. Even the counting of our years (we’re on 2016 now), is based on the birth of Christ. Thank the Lord that Luke 2:1-7 really happened!

I went home with my pastor’s message on my heart, pondering what other verses change history? 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 came to mind.  These three verses describe Jesus’ return to take all believers home to heaven.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

Can you picture the headlines after that great day, when all believers are taken to heaven?  Hopefully, none will be here to write the news, for we will be in heaven with Jesus. However, those who don’t believe will be left to discover the Truth.  History will yet again be changed!

Still wondering about significant verses, I considered what one verse changes history and the future for us all. Perhaps that verse is John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

God loves us so much that He willingly sent His only Son as a baby to our sinful world. That baby grew to be a perfect man, Jesus, who taught us about God, healed the sick, comforted the brokenhearted and forgave the sinners.  Then in accordance with the law which required a spotless lamb to die, Jesus died for my sins, your sins, and the sins of all the world.  But He didn’t stay dead. On the third day, Jesus rose again, conquering death forever.  That is good news!

Today’s TEA CUPP: 7-3-1, so many Bible verses today! My friend, what we do with these verses determines our eternity.  John 3:16 says “whoever believes in Him” will have everlasting life.  This is my prayer for you…believe in the the Lord Jesus, the Savior of your soul.  He is coming again to take all believers to heaven.  Instead of coming as a baby in a manger, He will come mightily.  History will be changed forever in the blink of an eye.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52 (NKJV)

 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.  Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
 
Revelation 19:11-16 (NKJV)

 

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

 

30 Years Ago Today My Life Changed Forever

aISUThis Saturday I will run in the Cowpoke Stampede in Melville, Montana in honor of my Savior Jesus and the lives He took 30 years ago, so that I could live.  I share again my testimony in tribute to these dear souls: Coach Ron Renko, Coach Pat Moynihan, Runners Sheryl Maahs, Julie Rose, Sue Baker, Trainer Stephanie Streit, and their Pilot Burt Watkins. I can’t wait to see you all in heaven!

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

My life changed forever 30 years ago today.

November 25, 1985 was a day of victory, ice and death.

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 at Iowa State University.  Twice a day I met with my coaches and team 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 they were leaving for their 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 a 38 minute 10K!   I kept on running for my coaches and my team, they were like a family to me, they were my church, until that November day of my sophomore year…

The sidewalks in Ames, Iowa were glazed with ice as my teammates and I ran our afternoon workout. We were on our own this day because our coaches and faster teammates were at the National meet in Wisconsin. We thought of them 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 our teammates at the National meet, even though we weren’t there.  As we dutifully completed our workout in the fading light of this November afternoon, we hoped to hear news of their victory at Nationals.

Instead, what interrupted the TV shows that evening was news of a tragedy.  I lived at home with my family still, and was watching TV in our basement with my brother, before diving into another evening of homework.  Part way through our favorite show, newscasters broke in with a special 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 who had just heard the news also.  We decided to meet at the Student Union chapel for prayer, 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.  There we embraced our teammates who remained, and there we heard the news of who was lost. That single accident took the lives of seven dear people, and changed the lives of all those who knew them:  My two coaches, three teammates, athletic trainer, and pilot were taken from this world.

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 cancelled 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.  One girl on our team named Dawn gave the memorial 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.  Why wouldn’t Sheryl want to come back?

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 coach 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.

By the fall two years after the accident, I had wrecked both my parent’s 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.

Soon after this prayerful episode, my roommate was invited to attend the Baptist Student Union and she 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. 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

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.

I traded…

My stop watch 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,

My workouts for daily devotions in God’s Word,

And so God’s Word has become my life…

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

forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

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)

 

Today’s TEA CUPP: Everyone has a story to tell.  Your story is just as interesting and important as my story.  The “U” part of My TEA CUPP Prayers helps us understand our stories, so we can better share them with others.  In the sharing of our stories, we are a testimony of God’s love and faithfulness.  I encourage you to share your story with a friend today.

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will declare what He has done for my soul.
 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.
If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
But certainly God has heard me;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.

Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!

Psalm 66:16-20

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

I Did Nothing

tea cup for bookmark - UYou were loving and kind,

I did nothing.

You were merciful and saved me,

I did nothing.

You washed away my sins,

I did nothing.

You renewed me with Your Holy Spirit,

I did nothing.

You justified me by Your grace,

I did nothing.

You made me Your heir,

I did nothing.

You gave me the hope of eternal life,

I did nothing.

I only had to believe in You.

Dear Jesus, I believe!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Dear Friend, what is your story?  This verse below from Titus reminds me how I did nothing.  Jesus did it all, I only had to believe.  I pray that you also believe in Jesus and share in His forgiveness and eternal promises.

The song “Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns says it beautifully: “Living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away. Rising He justified freely forever.  One day He’s coming, Oh, Glorious Day!”  Use this song to worship Jesus today.

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

All is Against Me!

tea cup for bookmark - UAnd Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.” Genesis 42:36 (NKJV)

Have you ever felt like Jacob from the Old Testament?  Jacob thought all was against him. There was a famine throughout the whole world.  His favorite son Joseph was no more, his son Simeon was taken prisoner in Egypt, the governor of Egypt wanted his youngest son Benjamin if Jacob’s family wanted to trade for more food…all these things were against him.

And yet, we who know the whole story want to tell Jacob, “It’s all okay!  Don’t worry! God’s got it all planned out! God sent Joseph ahead to Egypt to preserve your whole family.  When Benjamin goes to Egypt, Simeon will be released from jail, your whole family will be invited, and Joseph will take care of everyone.  God is taking care of you!”

Can I remember this when things seem against me?  Don’t worry, God has it all planned out!  When we can’t see the big picture, it sure is difficult. This is especially true when it comes to our children, perhaps that’s why Jacob was so worried. But we can remember the words of Jesus from Matthew 10.  Here Jesus reminds us not to worry for we are of more value than many sparrows…

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  One of my favorite Old Testament stories is that of Joseph.  If you have time, why not read it today (Genesis 37-47).  Then share your heart with Jesus in prayer: O Jesus, please help me trust you with ______ and not worry.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 (NKJV)

 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things…  Matthew 6:34 (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Lost in a Parable

blue blanketAnd when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’  Luke 15:9 (NKJV)

Last week we found ourselves lost in a parable.  I’m sure you’ve been in one, also.  You know, those stories Jesus told that have a special message.  In Luke 15 are the three “LOST” parables: the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son.  We were in a new parable called “The Lost Blankie.”

It was just a regular Monday evening.  We drove big brother Kevin to soccer practice at the high school and parked our car. I pulled out the baby jogger, and Joel climbed in with his snacks and blankets.  One blanket is his very special blue blankie with silky edge that goes with him everywhere.

I like to get my exercise walking around town, and Joel always wants to end at the park.  There Joel climbs every ladder and slips down every slide.  On this day when the time came to pick up big brother, we headed back to the high school.  Upon reaching the car, we realized that favorite blue blankie was gone!

Immediately we began our search.  Daddy, who had joined us at the park, led the way in re-tracing our steps.  I prayed, “Dear Jesus, please help us find Joel’s blanket.”  When we arrived at the park, there was no blanket.  We re-traced our steps again back to the high school, still no blanket.  Oh, what a sad drive home!

In the following days we prayed, made posts on Facebook, returned to the park, put up flyers, placed an ad in the paper, checked the Sheriff’s office, called the schools and hospital to check lost and founds, stopped by the thrift stores, told all our friends, and kept praying.  I reminded God that all the LOST parables have a happy ending.  Could we please have a happy ending, too?

Joel was a real trooper all this time, using a substitute blanket while looking at me with sad eyes.  Then, three days after it was lost, a little girl called Daddy’s cell phone to say she found it!  She had seen the flyer at the park. Daddy picked blankie up on his way home from work.

Joel met Daddy and big brother Jacob at the front door.  He took his blanket and danced around the living room for several minutes, spinning and waving blue blankie in his own special dance of praise. Then at supper he held the silky edge and tag in his left hand, while eating with his right hand.  He must have plans to never let it go again.

That evening I got on Facebook to share the good news with friends who had looked and prayed.  As the lady who found her coin said, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost.”

After we were lost in this parable, God reminded me a few things…

1) God hears and answers our prayers!  What an encouragement for me with all the other prayer requests I had that same week.

2) We have to do our part after we pray.  Remember how the woman swept her house to find the coin?  The shepherd left the 99 to find the lost sheep.  The Father kept a constant lookout for his lost son.  Imagine what they would have done if they had Facebook!

3) It’s great to rejoice with friends when the lost is found!  So many people rejoiced with us when Joel’s blanket was found. Thank you, dear friends.  I hope it encourages you, that God does hear our prayers.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Why not pour yourself a cup of tea and sit down to read Luke 15 today?  Get lost in the LOST parables and let God show you how much He loves you!img_6545

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins,if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10 (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.