Out of Prison

…he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison… Acts 12:17 (NKJV)

The cell was cold.  The walls were gray. The paint was peeling. The treatment was harsh. The privacy was nonexistent.  The despair was real.  It was a prison.

How many of us find ourselves in such a place?  For some, it is a real prison from our wrong choices, for others, it is a real prison from persecution.  Yet for most of us, it is a prison with imaginary bars that trap us from the outside world, bound by fears, addictions, unforgiveness…  What is the name of your prison?

My friend, today we’re going to lead you out of that prison into the marvelous light of Jesus.  There is an amazing story in the book of Acts about Peter escaping from prison.  It is so amazing that even Peter didn’t believe it was happening to him.

Peter was one of those in a real prison because of persecution.  King Herod had just beheaded his friend James and now he was preparing to do the same for Peter.  Herod put Peter in prison with FOUR squads of soldiers (Acts 12:4).    While Peter was there the church was praying constantly (Acts 10:5).

Now here, dear sisters,  is where you must remember the power of prayer.  Those prayers of the early church were heard by God and He sent His Angel to rescue Peter!

This was no sweet angel singing anthems.  This Angel of the Lord flooded Peter’s jail cell with bright light and struck Peter on the side. Then He pulled Peter up, saying, “Arise quickly!”  And off they went, past the first and second guard posts, past the iron gates, and out into the city.  Finally, the Angel disappeared and Peter found himself at the home of his friend John Mark.

And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me Acts 12:11 (NKJV)

At John Mark’s home, the church people had been praying so hard for Peter. But when Peter showed up at the gate they didn’t believe it!  How is that for not believing God can answer our prayers.  Isn’t He amazing?  God does answer all our prayers. Jesus does rescue us from our prisons.  The Holy Spirit does carry us forth in victory.

I know, because I’ve been in various prisons over the years.  One was in college before Jesus saved me.  I was in such grief over losing my cross country team and coaches in a plane crash that I turned to food for comfort. This became an eating disorder called bulimia.  There seemed to be no cure.  One time I went to a gathering to help people with eating disorders and discovered four of my surviving teammates were also there.  We had all dealt with the tragedy the same way.  Some addictions you can choose to avoid, like smoking or drinking, but with an eating disorder, you have to keep eating.  The only One who can rescue you from this prison is Jesus Christ. And He did.  When I gave my life to Him, the eating binges disappeared and I was free!

A newer version of the hymn Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin has the chorus, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free…”  That’s how it is when Jesus leads us out of the prison into His marvelous light.  The enemy wants to keep us behind bars, but Jesus has the victory. Come, my friend, let the Angel of the Lord escort you out of your prison today.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear TEA friend, whatever you are facing today, in whatever prison you find yourself, turn to Jesus. Read the miraculous story of Peter’s prison escape in Acts 12:5-17.  Imagine the Angel of the Lord shining His bright light upon you and saying, “Arise quickly.”  And the Angel leads you out of your prison, past all the guards to the home of praying friends.  And you are free!

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (NKJV)

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (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)

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

For with God nothing will be impossible. Luke 1:37 (NKJV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NKJV)

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

Bible Mom: Understanding with Ruth

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10 (NKJV)

She was the great-grandmother of King David, the grandmother of Jesse, the mother of Obed, the wife of Boaz, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, a Moabite, a God-seeker, and the only Bible mom to have a book of the Bible named for her.  Who was this great lady?  Ruth.

I can’t think of anyone more worthy to highlight  the “U” part of our TEA CUPP than this marvelous Bible mom.  “U” is for “Understanding our stories,” and here is Ruth’s amazing story in these four short Old Testament chapters.  When we understand our stories, how God is at work in our lives, how Jesus saved us, we can share this testimony with others.  And that’s what our Bibles let us do with Ruth, giving us a glimpse into the life of a godly mom.

How did Ruth end up in Bethlehem?  It all happened in the days of the Judges when God’s people kept turning away from Him.  God sent a famine on the land, so a man named Elimelech and his wife Naomi and his two sons moved to Moab.  The two sons married Moabite women, one of whom was Ruth.  Well, Elimelech died and his two sons died, so Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem.  She told her daughters-in-law that they should stay in Moab with their families and remarry.  But Ruth wouldn’t hear of it.  She proclaimed:

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 (NKJV)

Back in Bethlehem, Naomi was very sad for she had gone away “full” with a husband and two sons, and had returned “empty.”  But she actually wasn’t empty, for she had a wonderful daughter-in-law, Ruth, who was willing to work hard in the fields and do whatever Naomi said.  A relative named Boaz noticed Ruth’s dedication, blessing her with these words:

The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge. Ruth 2:12 (NKJV)

You will have to read for yourself the courtship and traditions that allowed Ruth to become the wife of this gentleman Boaz.  And once they were married, the Lord blessed them with a son…

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Ruth 4:13 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read the amazing story of Ruth is Ruth 1-4 today. My friend, your story is found in scripture, too!  Whether you have many children like Leah, prayed long for children like Rachel, or are barren like Elizabeth until she was old, you can find a mom like you in scripture.  Your salvation story is here, too, whether you learned early to sit at the feet of Jesus, as did Martha’s sister Mary, or if you had five husbands like the Samaritan woman, you will find a kindred soul, and you will find out how much Jesus loves you!  What lady from the Bible do you relate to today?  Talk to Jesus about her in your prayers.  With whom can you share your story?

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30 (NKJV)

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

 

 

 

My Testimony

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Acts 20:24 (NIV)

 

Dear TEA Friends,

This month I share with you video clips from an interview my pastor did with me last year.  Today I share my testimony of how God saved me through His Son Jesus. To view more of my interview please see my Hello from Jennifer Grace post. If you’d like to read the entire story, please visit My Running Story.  Or, if you’d like to read it in my book, My TEA CUPP Prayers, please click here.  Or, if you’d like me to come speak for your next ladies’ gathering or retreat, please contact me here.

Thank you for visiting My TEA CUPP Prayers and praying for my ministry to invite ladies everywhere to have TEA each day with Jesus, the King of kings.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

Scripture from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

Video Credits:   Sam Fossum and Pastor Bryan Baker, 2018

My Coat

We all need coats, especially this time of year in the northern United States.  Each day as we don our coats to head outside, we might contemplate the coats in the Bible.  Did you know there are so many Bible coats?

The first coats: It all began when Adam and Eve listened to Satan the snake, ate the forbidden fruit, and realized they were naked. Because they had disobeyed God, Adam and Eve could no longer stay in God’s perfect garden.  But before He kicked them out of Eden, God made clothing for Adam and Eve out of animal skins.  When God killed his dear animal friends, that was the first time blood was shed for sins, pointing to the day when Jesus would shed His blood for our sins on the Cross.  Adam’s and Eve’s animal skin coats were the first coats in the Bible.

Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21 (NKJV)

More coats: Flip forward a few pages in Genesis to the story of Joseph.  In this passage, Joseph’s father Jacob gave him a beautiful coat, making his brothers very jealous. John MacArthur in his Study Bible tells us that Joseph was a type of Christ, pointing us to Jesus. Both had their coats taken from them and were falsely accused. Both Joseph and Jesus were shepherds of their Father’s sheep. Both were dearly loved by their Fathers, but hated by their brothers.    Both were placed with two other criminals, one who was saved and one who was lost.  And both Joseph and Jesus forgave those who wronged them and saved their nations.  What men had intended for evil, God turned to good.  And their coats played a big part of the story.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.
Genesis 37:3 (NKJV)

A Spirit-filled coat:: Next jump ahead to Elijah in 2 Kings 2:13.  Here Elijah’s protegee Elisha waited to see Elijah go to heaven.  Finally, after following Elijah everywhere, Elisha watched as God took Elijah up in a whirlwind.  When he was gone, Elisha found Elijah’s cloak on the ground.  He picked it up and took it with him and God gave Elisha double the Spirit of Elijah!

He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan.
2 Kings 2:13 (NKJV)

 A clean coat: Then in the book of Isaiah, long before Jesus even brought us salvation, Isaiah proclaimed we will have a garment of praise! We are clothed in garments of salvation and covered in robes of righteousness!  Oh, what joy!  Oh, what a promise!!! And again the prophet Zechariah promises that God gives us a clean robe.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isaiah 61:10 (NKJV)

Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
Zechariah 3:4 (NKJV)

The wrong coat: The prophet Zephaniah cautions us to beware of wearing foreign apparel. We must be wearing the robe Jesus gives us. This warning is echoed again in Matthew when Jesus tells the story of a king having a wedding party…

And it shall be,
In the day of the Lord’s sacrifice,
That I will punish the princes and the king’s children,
And all such as are clothed with foreign apparel.
Zephaniah 1:8 (NKJV)

But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 22:11-13 (NKJV)

The healing coat: Also in the New Testament, time after time Jesus heals and heals and heals.  The people who follow Him long to just touch His coat for healing. So I pray for all on my prayer list who are need of Jesus healing, to just touch the robe of Jesus and be healed like the people in Matthew 14…

And begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.
Matthew 14:36 (NKJV)

A royal coat: And finally, flip to Revelations where Jesus returns to marry His bride the church.  And just like He clothed Adam and Eve, Jesus provides the wedding garments for His bride. He gives us the whitest most beautiful robe of all, washed clean by His precious blood.

And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Revelation 19:8 (NKJV)

So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Revelation 7:14 (NKJV)

Oh, Jesus, I don’t deserve it, but You gave it to me anyway — Your beautiful coat, pure and white and every color of the rainbow all at once!  Oh, Jesus, what a miracle!  You take our filthy rags and make us beautiful!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear friend, put on the righteous robe which Jesus has given you.  Thank Him for His forgiveness and healing.  Stay away from the wrong coats.  Look up these fantastic coat verses in your Bible today. And welcome the day when Jesus comes again to clothe us all in white robes and take us home!

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
(The Solid Rock by Edward Mote,1834)

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin
And be washed in the blood of the lamb
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean
O, be washed in the blood of the lamb.
( Are you Washed in the Blood? Elisha A. Hoffman, 1878)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers!

If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also enjoy A Tale of Two Coats and Filthy Rags.

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

 

My Valentine

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
Isaiah 43:1 (NKJV)

See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands
Isaiah 49:16 (NKJV)

Our church family members are reading through the entire Bible this year.  Our pastor invited us at the beginning of the year to find a reading plan and commit to reading the whole Bible. There are several Bible reading plans out there.  I use the one included each day in the Our Daily Bread devotion booklet.  A popular online AP is called the Youversion.  You might like to check these out!

What do we find as we read the entire Bible?  We find a VALENTINE!  A love story from God to us.  As we read the Old Testament we see a Holy God who loves His children He created.  We see our sinful nature and how far we fall short of our Heavenly Father.  We read of a promised Savior, coming to rescue God’s people.  In the New Testament the Savior finally comes, Jesus, God’s Only Son!  However, He doesn’t do what the people expect, taking over in power.  Instead, He dies on a cross for the sins of all the world because He loves us all so much.  But Jesus doesn’t stay dead, on the third day He rises to eternal life! And someday Jesus is coming back again to marry His bride the church, https://tadalafilhome.com that’s us!  What a love story!  What a Valentine!  We are His!

Oh, Jesus, I have Your Word “MINE” stamped on me like on a candy heart!  How wonderful!  I am Yours and no one can snatch  me from You.  Forever and ever my name is inscribed on Your hand and You inscribed “MINE” on me.  O Jesus, this is my story. I am Yours! I am Yours!  I am Yours! Amen.

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
John 10:28-29 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  You are loved, dear TEA friend!  Jesus has your name written on His hand and He has stamped MINE on you!  You are like lovers with matching tattoos!  No matter if your Valentine’s Day is full of heartbreak or joy, you can rest in the peace that you belong to God.

For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.
John 16:27 (NKJV)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers!  If you enjoyed this devotion, you might also like to read God loves you and My Love TEA and Valentine Cookies.  Happy Valentine’s Day, dear TEA friend!

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

A Tale of Two Coats

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. Genesis 37:3

It was the best of coats, it was the worst of brothers, it was the age of integrity, it was the age of deceit, it was the epoch of God’s will, it was the epoch of devious plans, it was the time of Light, it was the time of darkness, it was the spring of promise, it was the winter of famine, it was the Old Testament, it was the New Testament, some were going direct to Heaven, others were going direct the other way—all because of two coats (with apologies to Charles Dickens).

This summer our pastor dug into the story of Joseph found in the book of Genesis.  So much can be gained from this one story, from forgiveness to God’s call on our lives to His provision.  The dreams of Joseph, the baker, the cup-bearer and Pharaoh are quite exciting. But perhaps the most compelling element for me this year was the two coats.

Did you know Joseph had two coats that both got him into trouble? The first coat was the coat of many colors he was given by his father Jacob.  Being one of a dozen brothers, this made the others very jealous.  So, one day when Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers in the field, they took Joseph’s beautiful colored coat and sold him to Ishmaelite slave traders. The brothers dipped the coat in animal blood to make their father Jacob assume Joseph was attacked by a wild beast. The jealous brothers had their revenge on Joseph for his beautiful coat.

So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. Genesis 37:31 (NKJV)

Down in Egypt, God blessed Joseph with another coat.  There he worked for a rich man named Potiphar.  Joseph was so good at managing, Potiphar put him in charge of his entire household. But Potiphar’s wife had a crush on Joseph, because he was so handsome. She tried to seduce Joseph, to no avail.  One day while everyone else was out, she grabbed his coat and Joseph fled.  His coat remained in her hands.  With the coat as false proof, Potiphar’s wife claimed Joseph tried to attack her.  Joseph was put in prison, all because of that second coat.

And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside… Genesis 39:13 (NKJV)

Two coats. Two troubles.  Poor Joseph must have wondered where God was in the midst of this.  But Joseph https://klonopintabs.com remained faithful in serving the Lord and was eventually promoted from the prison to the palace. There he had the amazing task of saving all his family from famine.  You can read the entire riveting story in Genesis 37-50!

 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

Joseph’s two coats point us to Jesus’ two coats.  Jump from the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, to the first book of the New Testament, Matthew. Here in Matthew 27 we read about the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested. The soldiers replaced Jesus’ robe with a royal robe.  A crown of thorns was put on his head. The soldiers mocked Jesus and spat on Him and said He was king  (how ashamed they must have been when they realized Jesus really is the King of kings!).

And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Matthew 27:28 (NKJV)

The soldiers then gave Jesus back his first robe until He went to the cross.  That next day, as Jesus hung on the cross, dying for your sins and my sins and the sins of all the world, the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ coat.  So our coats could be clean, Jesus shed His blood for us.

Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:

“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”  Matthew 27:35 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  How is your coat, is it clean?  My friend, ask Jesus to forgive you and wash you clean as only He can do.  And as summer turns to autumn and you begin to wear your coat again, remember these coats from the Bible.  Thank God for the story of faithful Joseph who persevered to save His family.  Thank our Lord Jesus for making our garments clean through His precious blood He shed on the cross. Be blessed by this beautiful hymn: Washed in the blood of the Lamb

Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)

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

 

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 https://newhorizonacademy.net/female-viagra/ 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 http://barefootpuppets.com/priligy-dapoxetine/ 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 https://www.fertileheart.com/buy-diflucan-online/ 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.

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.