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.

A Runner’s Tea Cupp

runners2O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.  Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

What do runners drink? Usually we think of ice cold water, Gatorade and sports drinks.  Those all refresh me after a long run down the highway.  But what do I like to drink even before a morning run?  I enjoy a TEA CUPP with the Champion of champions, Jesus.

Tea is certainly coming into vogue as the new sports beverage, but the brand I want to share with you is brewed with Living Water, straight from God’s Word. Here’s how it works: Before you do your stretches and head out the door, sit down with your Bible and a cup of tea.  Read a selection, letting the Lord speak first. Then start praying, using Bible verses as conversation starters.

For example, to give God Thanks for your health or recent victory or other blessings in your life, recite 1 Corinthians 15:57 and tell Him for what you are thankful.  Even if you’ve never had a victory, Jesus gives us all the victory over sin and death, because He conquered those when He died and rose again.  Then continue your prayers with Psalm 20:5 to Exalt the Lord and tell Him how great He is. Follow this with Hebrews 12:1-2, asking Jesus to help you Admit and lay aside every sin.

Now you’ve finished your TEA and are ready for the CUPP.  I’ve listed more suggested verses below for talking to Jesus about your Call, Understanding your story, claiming God’s Promises, and pouring out your heart with Petitions for others. As you finish your prayers and tie your shoes, you’ll find the conversation continues as you and Jesus head out for a run together.

 T for Thanks: 

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

E for Exalt:

 We will rejoice in your salvation,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners!
Psalm 20:5 (NKJV)

A for Admit:

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...Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

C for Call:

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (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)

And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Matthew 5:41 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:

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)

P is for Promises:

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

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

P is for Petitions:

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Psalm 25:4 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Sip this Runner’s TEA CUPP today, before heading out on your path.  Use it as a conversation starter as you talk to the Lord. When you read your Bible, underline more verses you’d like to pray tomorrow.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14 (NKJV)

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

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

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.

The Runner’s Stance

Runner's Stance2let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith  Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Way back in junior high, my P.E. coaches were Ms. Newby and Mrs. Knutson. They led us in many exercises and drills to prepare us for track season. Most memorable to me, out of all their wisdom, is the runner’s stance.

The runner needs to look relaxed while running around the track, even at full speed or while exhausted. Arms are to be at greater than 90 degree angles, shoulders down, and hands open loosely. Ms. Newby described it as holding a tea cup! She told us to lightly pinch our thumbs and first fingers together and poke out our pinky fingers, just as if we were having tea with the queen. By holding our hands just so, we didn’t clench our fists and were, therefore, more relaxed.

As I went running one day recently, the Lord reminded me of that junior high tea cup. I wondered how the runner’s stance compares with the Christian’s stance. As the runner leans forward, pressing on to the finish line, the Christian looks up to Jesus, pressing on to eternal life (Philippians 3:13-14).  While the runner wears out her shoes in the race, the Christian wears out his knees in prayer.  Yet both raise their arms in victory to the Lord.

There are all kinds of stances for prayer, but my favorite is curled up in the corner of our sofa. There, wrapped in a blanket and hugging a mug of hot water, I share my TEA CUPP time with Jesus.  First I read His Word, the Bible, letting Him speak to me.  I underline special verses as I read.  Then I choose a favorite verse to pray back to Jesus, beginning my conversation with the Lord.  From thanks to petitions, I pour out my heart to Him. Instead of having tea with the queen, I’m sharing TEA with the King of kings.Runner's Stance

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Dear friend and athlete, I invite you to hold the TEA CUPP.  Along with “holding a tea cup” while running, meet each day with Jesus for a CUPP of TEA.  Let His Word encourage you, giving you all you need for today.

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 (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)

 

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

Keep in Step with the Spirit

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 (NKJV)

Another plug for my favorite church camp in the mountains — Camp on the Boulder, south of Big Timber, Montana.  During the summer months, you can come to a FREE cookout every Sunday at 5:30 p.m., followed by a praise service with the camp ministry team.

This past Sunday we welcomed Tom Brandon from Big Timber to share what God had put on his heart.  Tom spoke about temptation and following Jesus’ example.  One  point Tom made was an “alleluia” moment for me.  He asked us if we knew what the most important example was that Jesus set for us?  Do you know?

Was it healing the sick?  Walking on water?  Turning water into wine?  Raising the dead?  NO!  The most important example Jesus left for us was His relationship with His Father.  Time and again in His ministry, Jesus would head off into the wilderness to a quiet place with God…

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16 (NIV)

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12 (NKJV)

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” Matthew 26:36 (NKJV)

What an example Jesus has set for us, spending time each day with God. That’s what My TEA CUPP Prayers are all about – sitting down with the Lord each day for a chat. When we talk to God, we are following in Jesus’ steps.

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)

And when we follow Jesus’ steps, we keep in step with the Spirit, along God’s straight and narrow path.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 (NKJV)

Put on your I-Am Ipod and keep in step with Jesus today!

New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Continuing the Race

“However, 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 to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24 (NIV)

Bump. Bump. Bump.  Our old Suburban found every rock and pothole in the road as we made our way to church yesterday.  The jostling vehicle reminded me of the ride I took exactly one year ago.  At least this year I could look out the windows and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery.  Last year, if I had been conscious enough to look around, I would have seen the sterile insides of an ambulance.

I remember the EMTs bravely combating the bumpy road, taping IV bottles, securing cupboards, keeping their balance as they moved around the ambulance.  Then they gave me something for the pain and I was able to sleep through all the bumps after that.  Finally, a relief from the intense sadness and aches that had engulfed me for the nine days since the doctor told me our baby had no heart beat.

I had awaken that morning at 4:15 a.m. with profuse bleeding.  I grabbed my Bible and prayer journal and headed to the restroom as the doctor said I would bleed for an hour. There I was in our tiny purple bathroom, having My TEA CUPP time with Jesus, trusting Him for a good outcome.

At almost 7 a.m. Kent knocked on the door to see how I was doing.  I decided to take a shower because I was so tired from sitting.  After the shower I was very dizzy, then sick to my stomach, and then the painful contractions began.  I no longer could sit in the bathroom, but had to lie on the bedroom floor.  I had been bleeding for almost 4 hours at this point and was very light-headed.  Soon I couldn’t feel my contractions as I was slipping from this world. Kent called 911 and invited our older three kids to say good-bye to me.

The ambulance arrived at 10 a.m.  It took them awhile to get me loaded and out to the ambulance.  Our 9-year old son Kevin had to watch his Mommy be carted away on a stretcher, he even helped carry the oxygen tank.   My brother George who was visiting took care of Kevin, while Kent rode the ambulance with me.  Our daughter Kallie was cooking for the campers and our son Jacob was mowing lawns.

When the EMTs brought me out of our dark bedroom into the glorious sunlight of our front yard, I thought “This is it. Jesus is coming, this is the bright light!”  The sky was so blue with the mountains and pine trees shaped so clearly against it, an upside down view of the world I don’t often see.  I was thinking, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV).

That glorious moment soon ended as God said, “I’m not finished with you yet.” I was whisked into the ambulance and poked with an IV, and endured the very long ride to the hospital in Big Timber.  A nurse met us part-way down the road, and she put some pain killer in the IV, which let me rest the remainder of the trip.  In the emergency room, the doctor made certain I had delivered everything and sent me with an IV and medicine to rest in one of the hospital rooms.

I remember how the stretcher felt as they carried me to the ambulance.  It hugged me closely, swaddling me like a blanket around a new born baby. Perhaps because our prayer friends were already praying, perhaps because the the Sweet Grass County Ambulance, doctors, and nurses all took good care of me, or perhaps because our camp ministry team kept the camp running while we were gone…I sure felt like those were God’s arms wrapped tightly around me, a sensation that continued for weeks after our miscarriage.

The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Deuternonomy 33:27 (NIV)

In my partially-conscious state in the ambulance, still wondering if I would make it, I prayed for everyone I could think of…my family, our ministry team, our campers, our prayer friends, the EMTs, and everyone on my salvation list that they would come to know Jesus.  Because if I leave this world to be in heaven with Jesus, I want others to be there, too!  Yes, I had My TEA with Jesus, even in the ambulance, and I didn’t spill a drop on that bumpy road!

Still, a year later, we do not understand God’s plan in all this.  We don’t know why God would give us this hope of 9 years, begin knitting this baby together inside of me, only to stop knitting.   We thought He had given us the desire of our hearts, yet now she is no more. In all our grief, we still pray for God’s name to be glorified, so we named our sweet baby, Gloria Anne.

This very morning, one year and day after she left me, two friends came to our door and asked if they could paint a mural in Gloria Anne’s place, a new childcare building we hope to open at our church camp.  Already I can see, God’s name being glorified.

Thank you, dear Jesus, for Gloria Anne.

Please bless this new childcare building called Gloria Anne’s Place.  May all the children who come here, come to know You.

And please help me keep running the this race.

Amen.

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

The Finish Line is in Sight!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

“Gooooooooooo, Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnniiiifffffffffeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrr!” I can still hear my mom calling from the bleachers as I ran the 1600 m around my high school track.  Some of the high schools had cinder tracks back then, but ours was a new black rubber track.  I pounded my spikes into the rubber, determined to take my mom’s encouragement and keep gooooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnggggggg!

Encouragement.  We all need it in this race called life.  I find my inspiration in God’s Word every day.  My TEA CUPP Prayers with Jesus are like a cup of cold water to my thirsty soul.  However, at times it sure helps to be heartened by another Christian.  As Christian athletes we are called not only to train for ourselves, but also to encourage others in their training.

My favorite daily devotion (Our Daily Bread)  gave a beautiful example of this on April 13th , 2008.  The devotion is entitled, “Cheering Each Other On.”

A mile from the finish line of the London Marathon, thousands of onlookers holding signs lined the route. When spectators spotted a family member or friend coming into view, they shouted the person’s name, waved, and yelled encouragement: “Just a little farther! Keep going! You’re almost there.” After running 25 miles, many competitors were barely walking and ready to quit. It was amazing to watch exhausted runners brighten and pick up the pace when they saw someone they knew or heard their name called out.

Encouragement! We all need it, especially in our walk of faith. The book of Hebrews tells us to keep urging each other on. “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, . . . but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (10:24-25).

The New Testament is filled with the certainty that Christ will return soon. “The Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5). “The coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8). “Behold, I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:12).

As we “see the Day approaching,” let’s keep cheering each other on in the faith. “Keep going! You’re almost there! The finish line is in sight.”

And so, my TEA CUPP friend and athlete, I encourage you.  Keep running!  Keep exercising!  Keep reading your Bible and praying!  Your labors are not in vain. God will surely bless you.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today. Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

The LORD remembers us and will bless us. Psalm 115:12 (NIV)

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)

KEEP GOING! YOU’RE ALMOST THERE! THE FINISH LINE IS IN SIGHT!

http://odb.org/2008/04/13/cheering-each-other-on/

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

My I-AM Ipod

“Give thanks, with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks, because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son…”

This tune pounds through my head as I run the dusty mountain road, taking a step with each beat of the song.  I have no earphones, no cord, no electronic gizmo in my pocket…just my running clothes and God in the great outdoors.

Many of you are familiar with the Ipod, a pocket-size electronic device made by the Apple company to store and play hundreds of songs.  My daughter has an Ipod.  Now, instead of lugging around a huge binder of CDs, she carries all her favorite tunes on her Ipod.  With a small set of pink earphones, she immerses herself into her world of music.  Or, she can attach it to a speaker and play the songs for all to enjoy.  But I don’t have an Ipod yet.

I have an I-AM.  It is a God-size music collection that fits right inside my heart.  My I-AM connects directly to my mind, playing all the best tunes and Bible verses.  I take my I-AM with me every time I go running. God reminded me when I was exercising this morning that others might like to have an I-AM Ipod, too.  And so I share this with you today :-).

Sometimes my I-AM plays Bible verses.  My favorites are ones I shared yesterday.  I make up a tune to go with one of the verses and play it over and over again in my mind as the miles pass by.  I especially like to play…

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

I guide you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.

When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Proverbs 4:11-12 (NIV)

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)

Other days my I-AM plays music, a metronome to my soul, providing me a beat for each step.  These songs follow My TEA CUPP Prayers, helping me to pray as I run.

I give THANKS to God while singing in my head, “I will enter His gates with Thanksgiving in my heart, I enter His courts with praise…”

I EXALT the Lord with “Thou are worthy, Thou art worthy, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, glory and honor and power…”

I ADMIT my sins to God while mentally singing, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”

I talk to Jesus about my CALL with, “Here I am, Lord, is it I, Lord, I have heard You calling in the night.”

I UNDERSTAND my story when I sing, “I’m forgiven, because You were forsaken. I’m accepted, You were condemned, I’m alive and well, Your Spirit lives within me, because You died and rose again.”

I claim God’s promises by humming, “Standing on the Promises of Christ my King…”

And I end my run with my favorite petition song ever, “The Lord’s Prayer,” as it is often sung at  weddings: “Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven…”

When I get to the very last part of the prayer, I am running faster and God’s Spirit carries me to the finish line with “for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, Amen.”

There are hundreds of songs, hymns and Bible verses stored in my I-AM, just waiting for me to play.  It’s always exciting to strap on the running shoes and head out the door with the Great I-AM.  Go running with Jesus today!

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Exodus 3:14 (NIV)

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

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

A Cup of Cold Water

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. Matthew 10:42  (NIV)

My side hurts, my legs are cramping, my throat is so dry…I’ve just reached the half-way point of the Midnight Madness fun run in Ames, Iowa on a typical humid July evening.  I registered for the 10K run, but wish again I had only signed up for the 5K.  Then it would be over!  My body is telling me to give it up, my mind is arguing with my body, and then a wonderful person hands me a cup of cold water.  I gulp the delicious liquid down, pour some on my head and toss the cup as I continue the race, refreshed and now encouraged to finish.

Aren’t those volunteers at races just the best people ever!  They cheer for us and renew us with their cups of cold water.  It reminds me of this Bible verse above from Matthew.    And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. God bless those race volunteers!

A cup of cold water – that is what God’s Word is to me every day, refreshing and renewing me for the journey ahead.  This verse from Matthew is not the only one that ties in to my life as an athlete.  Sprinkled throughout the Bible are all kinds of verses that bring me closer to Jesus and encourage me to be the best athlete I can be.  My fellow athletes, please drink each day from God’s Word and talk with Jesus about your favorite verses.  Here are a few to get you started…

For praying about your path:

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

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

I guide you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.

When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Proverbs 4:11-12 (NIV)

For praying for strength:

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor His delight in the legs of a man;

the LORD delights in those who fear Him,
who put their hope in His unfailing love.
Psalm 147:10-11 (NIV)

But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He gives me the speed of a deer,
able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:19 (NLT)

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

For praying for help and protection:

For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Psalm 91:11-12 (NIV)

I cried out, “I am slipping!”
but Your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
Psalm 94:18 (NLT)

I was pushed back and about to fall,
but the LORD helped me.

The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:13-14 (NIV)

For when I am thirsty:

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:37-38 (NIV)

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. Mark 9:41 (NKJV)

For training your body:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1 (NKJV)

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)

For praying for perseverance:

If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:41 (NIV)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7 (NIV)

Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5 (NIV)

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)

For praying to finish the race:

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)

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 (NKJV)

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 to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24 (NIV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV)

For praying for victory:

The Lord is my strength and my song;
He has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise Him—
my father’s God, and I will exalt Him!
Exodus 15:2 (NLT)

Victory comes from You, O Lord.
May you bless Your people.
Psalm 3:8 (NLT)

We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.
Psalm 20:5 (NIV)


But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way.
He will be victorious.
Psalm 110:7 (NLT)

Refreshed from brooks along the way, that is what my Jesus, the Word, does for me each day.  He is my Glorious Gatorade of God!  He is the best cup of cold water ever!   Drink up, my friends!

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
New King James Version (NKJV)Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

A Runner’s Testimony

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

Yesterday I mentioned the refreshing Well, Water, & Washer of my Soul, Jesus Christ. Today I want to share with you how I came to savor the Ultimate Sports Drink.  I published this testimony back in April.  I print it again today for those of you who may have just tuned in for My TEA CUPP Prayers for Athletes.  May you also come to know our Champion, Jesus Christ.

A Runner’s Testimony

My running story begins 25 years ago on a dreary November day.

The day was as gloomy as today is sunny.

The day was as icy as today is warm.

And the day was as full of death as this one is full of life.

On that day my life changed forever.

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 had 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 CC meet.  I ran screaming up the stairs, unable to believe such awful news.  I called my teammates at the dormitory and they just heard the news also.  We decided to all meet at the Student Union chapel for prayer, an amazing thing for a public university team to do.  We met and cried and prayed, not knowing who was on the plane that 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 we’d 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 Colosium.  One girl on our team named Dawn gave the memorial for her friend Cheryl.  Before the thousands gathered there, Dawn spoke of how Cheryl was a Christian and is in heaven now, and that if Cheryl 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 Cheryl 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.

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 that, 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 “salvation is found in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be savedActs 4:12 (NIV).

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, 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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

“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)

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

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