More Good Books

Calling all readers! Winter isn’t over yet and you still have some long evenings by the fireplace to fill. Often it’s hard to find just the right title to uplift, inspire and encourage you in your walk with the Lord. I always appreciate a book recommended by a friend.  So today I share with you some more good books to pass those dark nights.  Pull up a chair, a good book, a cup of tea or cocoa, and be blessed.

In His Steps

This was likely the fifth time I read In His Steps.  There is something compelling about a story that makes one return to it again and again for inspiration.  Written in the late 1800s as a sermon series, this provoking novel about a church in Kansas, gave birth to the popular expressions, WWJD?, What Would Jesus Do?  A small group from the church heeded the pastor’s call to ask this question before embarking on any endeavor.   You will find yourself wrapped up in the lives of a railroad tycoon, a singer, a newspaper editor and others who are seeking God’s path. The results were amazing and spread all the way to Chicago and the world.  You will want this to be the next book on your “to read” list.

 

Rebel With A Cause

How this book ended up on my bookshelf is a story in itself.  A few years back we decided to remove ourselves from all junk mail and email lists, sending companies unsubscribe notices.  In response to my departure from the Samaritan’s Purse list, Franklin Graham sent me a free copy of his book, Rebel With A Cause.  Such a nice hardback book I couldn’t just toss, so I put it on my bookshelf.  Five years later, when searching for something to read, I pulled it down and read the first page. I was instantly wrapped up in the life of the eldest son of the great evangelist Billy Graham, his salvation story,  and how he came to lead the godly relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse.  You will be inspired to live out God’s call for your life as you read how Jesus helped Franklin Graham.

Just As I Am

Having enjoyed Franklin Graham’s autobiography so much, I searched for more titles at my local library.  I was delighted to find a copy of Just As I Am by Billy Graham.  This book is a bit weightier than the other two titles, literally and figuratively.  The 760 page autobiography is a heavy one to put in your airline carry-on bag, but the tales of Rev. Graham’s crusades from Los Angeles to Australia to Russia (behind the Iron Curtain) to the ends of the earth, will encourage you to follow whatever God’s call is for your life. From his roots as a dairy farmer in North Carolina to his role as pastor to presidents, no one can deny that Rev. Graham lived a life worthy of the calling with which he was called.  And as I write this short review, I believe the dear pastor is ninety-nine years old and still talking with Jesus from North Carolina.

Finally, book-lovers, if these are not enough titles for you, I recommend a social media book group, Goodreads.com, where you can share and find more Christian books to inspire.  My TEA CUPP Prayers is also on there, so if you are a Goodreads member, I appreciate you dropping by to give me a review.  Many thanks and God bless your cozy evenings!

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

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

Be One of the Faithful

 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God. Ezekiel 14:14 (NKJV)

Sometimes the books of the Old Testament prophets can be long and difficult to read, with much prophecy and destruction, because God’s people kept turning away from Him.  But there are still good verses tucked in there to exhort and encourage us in our walk with God.

The verse above from Ezekiel 14:14 was one of these that caught my eye.  When we read, “Noah, Daniel and Job,”  we feel connected, since most of us have heard their stories: Noah’s Arc, Daniel and the Lions, The Patience of Job.  The following verses remind us of each one.

…Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:9 (NKJV)

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Daniel 6:10 (NKJV)

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. Job 1:1 (NKJV)

A just man who walked with God, a man of prayer, a blameless and upright man…These are all great Bible heroes, strong in their faith.  So, what does Ezekiel 14:14 tell us?  It says that even if those three faithful men were there, they would only save themselves and no one else from God’s impending destruction.

What does this mean for us?  John McCarthur says in his notes on Ezekiel 14:14, “one man’s righteousness is no protection for another.” (MacArthur, 1997) We can’t take comfort that we live in a country founded under God, or that our neighbor attends church, or that our grandmother prayed for us.  We must make the decision for ourselves, confess Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raise Him from the dead, and we will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Even if we hangout with our pastor’s family or Bible study leader, though these are very good things to do, we won’t be delivered.  We must “hang out” with the King of kings, the Savior of our souls, God’s only Son who gave His life for our sins on the Cross, pouring out His blood to wash us clean.  We must be friends with Jesus.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Be friends with Jesus.  Have TEA with Him each day, reading His Word, the Bible, pouring out your heart to Him in prayer.  As you begin this new year, ask God to help you walk with Him each day as did Noah, Daniel, Job, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Ruth, and so many others Bible heroes.

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:23-24 (NKJV)

MacArthur, J. (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. (p. 1168)

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

Many thanks to my Discipleland Sunday school curriculum for the Bible hero pictures I enjoy each week in our classroom!

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.

Kisses from Katie

Kisses from KatieAnd the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)

We are forever changed.  All whose lives have been touched by Katie Davis in Uganda, and all who read her book here in the USA, will never be the same. We can’t return to our “normal” lives, without realizing how much more God has for us.  I invite you to be changed forever, too, as you read Katie’s incredible story.

This blessing came to me at my Wednesday Bible study where the women are passing around a book entitled Kisses from Katie. The ladies say they can’t put it down. It’s finally my turn to read it, and they are right.  As I keep telling myself, “just one more chapter,”  Katie is adopting “just one more child,” sharing the love of Jesus with the people of Uganda.

Katie, an American teenager from Nashville, Tennessee, president of her senior class and homecoming queen, gives up everything to follow Jesus’ call to care for the orphans.  Over and over, Katie relates how she is just a normal person, who says “Yes” to God’s call.  Completely honest and transparent, Katie shares the joys and trials of her new found ministry.

Learning to be a mother and run a non-profit at the age of 19 has quite the learning curve, as Katie shares her experiences. From rats and cockroaches, to HIV and scabies, to caring for the worst poverty, one might think that God gave Katie super-human powers. But as Katie relates (p. 135)…

“I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle.  Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.”

Along with her engaging narrative, Katie shares Bible heroes from David to Jonah to Paul. She writes how God met their needs, and He is caring for her and her adorable children, too. Katie has a thorough grasp of scriptures and the truth, which is also the name of her ministry, Amazima.  Above all, Katie lives out the truth of the Gospel every minute of every day, pouring out God’s love, exhausted or not, (“with a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus”).

Everyone should read this book — moms, dads, teenagers, homeschoolers, college students, Bible scholars, youth leaders, grandparents, the average Joe.  Your heart will be broken for these dear people in Uganda and around the world, who need the unconditional love of Jesus.  Kisses from Katie will inspire, challenge and encourage us all to do more for God’s kingdom, more than we ever imagined. Yes, we are forever changed.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)

For more information on Katie’s ministry, check out her website: http://katiedavis.amazima.org/

Davis, K. (2011). Kisses from Katie. Nashville: Howard Books.

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)

 

Your Ticket to Heaven

Cover artBut may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11 (NKJV) 

God gave me this Bible verse the morning after I finished Don Piper’s book 90 Minutes in Heaven.  Somehow I missed reading this book in the decade since it was published, but I’m thankful to finally have been immersed in Pastor Piper’s story.

1 Peter 5:10-11 describes Piper’s experience well…

First, he was called to eternal glory in heaven, following a terrible car accident.

Second, he was sent back to earth to suffer quite a while!

Third, through all his healing and continuing in ministry, God has perfected, established, strengthened and settled Don Piper. To God be the glory forever and ever!

This is a true story you won’t want to miss reading.  It has also recently been made into a movie, but I vote for the book to avoid the gruesome scenes from the accident and medical world.

What impresses this reader most is Pastor Piper’s emphasis on prayer.  The book’s dedication to his prayer warriors says, “You prayed.  I’m here,” the same four words he spoke his first day back at church.  It was the prayers of a passing minister who climbed into his crushed automobile to pray for a dead man that brought him back to earth.  It was the prayers of his family, friends, congregation and complete strangers who pulled him through the worst pain and healing of his life. And it is prayer today that helps him continue in ministry, reaching out to others who are hurting.  Certainly, this is an inspiration for all to keep praying!

Another blessing from 90 Minutes in Heaven are the beautiful descriptions of heaven. These word illustrations cause us to understand why Piper wanted to go back, and burn in us a desire to be there, as well. The first people who greeted him in heaven were his grandfather and a childhood friend who had led him to Jesus.  The people kept coming; Piper describes it as “the greatest family reunion of all.” Then there was the music, the singing of thousands and millions of angels, harmonizing both old and new hymns.  And just as Piper was enjoying this amazing chorus, he was called back to earth, singing “What a Friend we have in Jesus” with the praying pastor in his mangled vehicle.  That’s when they realized he was still alive.

I especially value how each chapter of 90 Minutes from Heaven begins with a Bible verse, making God’s Word the focus. God’s Word is where we find our story and healing and hope for the future.  The Bible is also where we find the truth about heaven and how to get there.  If I could add one chapter to Piper’s book, it would be entitled, “Your ticket to heaven,” describing for readers how to make sure they also will be in heaven.  And so, dear friend,  I offer you a ticket to heaven today:

Today’s TEA CUPP:  If you want a glimpse of heaven and the power of prayer, I highly recommend Don Piper’s book, 90 Minutes in Heaven.  If you desire more than a glimpse and want to spend eternity in heaven (Yes, you do! You don’t want the alternative!),  please read these Bible verses and pray to Jesus today.  Welcome to heaven, my friend!

Jesus is the Ticket:

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)

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Acts 16:31 (NKJV)

Acknowledge your sin:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (NKJV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NKJV)

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

  For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13 (NKJV)

Keep reading your Bible and seeking Jesus each day:

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

Celebrate the promise of heaven!:

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:2-3 (NKJV)

rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 20:20 (NKJV)

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,“Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:3-5 (NKJV)

New King James Version (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.

When You Don’t See His Plan

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

My new year began with the most wonderful book I “just happened” to find in my mailbox.  I love how there are no accidents with God, just God-incidents.  He knew I needed to read this biography, so He mailed it to me!  If you’ve ever had things go wrong in your life (and who hasn’t?), you will love this book, too!

When You Don’t See His Plan is the touching and inspiring story of Nadine Hennesy, missionary to Kosovo.  What makes her story unlike others was the tragic death of her husband after only 11 months of marriage.  It seemed their dreams of missionary work in Peru were over, as Nadine gave birth to their daughter without her husband Ed.

But Nadine did not give up.  She started teaching again, served the Lord a year in Peru with her daughter Lydia, then was called to an orphanage in Albania, and finally is directing a school in Kosovo.  Nadine is a regular American girl who put herself in God’s hands, allowing Him to use her wherever needed.  Just imagine the number of lives Jesus has touched through her!

I immediately felt drawn to Nadine, as she and author Rebecca Baker shared her story.  Nadine shows us all how to trust Jesus through the hardest situations, and come through praising Him.  What a joy to count her as a sister in faith who I will meet in heaven someday.

Today’s TEA CUPP: If you’d like to read this book and share in Nadine’s ministry, When You Don’t See His Plan is available from Discovery House Publishers.  My prayer is we all can be such bright lights for Jesus as Nadine and her daughter Lydia.

 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

dhp.org/s8283.html/

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

My Hiding Place

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

 The website I use for clip art has hundreds of pictures on most topics.  It is handy to find photos that are just right for my articles.  When I searched for “Hiding Place,” though, it only gave me one photo…a dog burying his bone.

I had to laugh, because Jesus is my hiding place.  I’m not sure if I’m the bone and He is the hole in this picture?  Some days I just want to hide from the world, get away from the hurts and pain.  I pray Psalm 32:7, You are my hiding place, Jesus, You protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Let me hide in You today, Lord!

Or, I might pray one of these verses…

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

 The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’
  Deuteronomy 33:37 (NKJV)

There have been several times in my life when I’ve needed these verses.  I remember the day I was taken away in an ambulance.  It was the first time I lost a baby and we almost lost me, too.  I was so scared until the ambulance people put me in a stretcher.  The stretcher was U-shaped fabric, hugging my body as they carried me out the door.  I continued to feel that hug for the next month.  God’s everlasting arms must be like that.  Though I do not like troubles, the feel of having the Lord so close, being in His hiding place, is one I always treasure.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Are you going through a rough time?  Sometimes the holidays remind us of past sorrows, and can bring sadness rather than joy.  Please look to the Lord, dear friend.  Curl up in His Hiding Place, read His Word, sip a TEA CUPP with Jesus each day.

You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.  Psalm 119:14 (NKJV)

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

Saved through Childbearing

baby joel at home Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.  1 Timothy 2:15

Just over 2 years ago we had our fourth living baby, Joel Kent.  Oh, what a blessing he is!  Since that time I’ve often thought about this verse above and how it is true in my life. I know Jesus washes away my sins, so how can such a painful process save me more?  Perhaps it is not just the anguish of child-bearing, but the pains of raising children that bring us daily to the foot of the Cross.

23 years ago we had our first baby and didn’t know a bundle about raising kids.  But we tried…taking our kids to church, saying grace at meals and prayers at bedtime.  I ponder what life would be like if I wasn’t a mom.  Would I be as strong a Christian?  I don’t think so.

I look back on how my faith has increased because of our children…

  • How we prayed for our first child right after we were married, and God answered our prayers in just a year!
  • How our little girl needed heart surgery at 8 months old and we were covered in prayer by our friends and church.
  • How God blessed us with a son before we even asked!
  • How we took our kids to sing in the cherub choir.  My friend Jill gave each student a cassette tape of scripture memory songs that we still play today.
  • How God called us to homeschool our kids, putting us in touch with really strong Christian families.
  • How I prayed and prayed for 7  years for our second son to be born, and God answered my prayers!!
  • How I sat with my kids each morning on the sofa, reading Awana books and listening to their Bible memory verses.
  • How I prayed for late hikers, late arrivers, kids at church camp, kids in foreign countries, kids at college, etc.
  • How I prayed and prayed for 12 years for our next child, and God carried us through the loss of 3 babies, and then answered our prayer.
  • How I pray now that the Lord will help us to bring up this special gift to love and know Him.  Oh, what an independent handful, yet so sweet, is our fourth child.  More than ever, I pray for him to know Jesus.Joel at 2

Without our dear kids…I would not have come before the throne of God so many times in prayer.  I would not have had to put my trust completely in the King of kings and Lord of lords.  I would have been much more selfish and self-reliant.  But because of our children, I depend on Jesus.

Yes, it must be true for many moms, we are saved through child-bearing (and Jesus!).

Today’s TEA CUPP: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31, NKJV) is all we need for salvation.  So what does child-bearing do for us? As with any trial, it can bring us to the Author of our faith, Jesus Christ!  If you are a mom, can you remember how having children has brought you closer to the Lord?  Can you see how your children have given you more faith, love, holiness and self-control? Thank the Lord today for His gift of child-bearing.

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

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