Always Remember

Then they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer. Psalm 78:35 (NKJV)

When all seems hopeless, Remember the works of the LORD!

Remember how He created heaven and earth from nothing by His Word.

Remember how He gave Abraham and Sarah a baby in their old age.

Remember how He rescued the Israelites from Egypt with severe plagues and mighty signs and His outstretched arm.

Remember how He fed His children in the desert with bread from heaven and water from the Rock.

Remember how He parted the Red Sea and washed away the enemy.

Remember how He knocked down the walls of Jericho with a mighty trumpet blast.

Remember how He heard the prayer of barren Hannah and blessed her with baby Samuel.

Remember how He heard Esther’s fasting and prayers and rescued His people from destruction.

Remember how He closed the lions’ mouths for Daniel and walked in the fire with Shadrack, Meshach and Abed-Nego.

Remember how God sent His Only Son Jesus, born of a virgin, to be our Savior,

Remember how Jesus healed the sick, fed the 5000 and called Lazarus out of the grave.

Remember how Jesus willingly shed His blood and died on the cross for our sins.

Remember how He rose from the grave and beat death and the devil forever.

Remember how He has carried you through every trial and heartache.

Remember how He promised to prepare a place for you in heaven.

Remember how He ascended to the clouds and promised He is coming again in the same way to take us to Himself.

Remember.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Dear sister, read Psalms 78 and 105 to remember how faithful God is to His children.  Remember how faithful He has been to you.  Thank and praise Jesus for His faithfulness today. Tell a friend what you remember.

And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.  Psalm 77:10-12 (NKJV)

Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Or the golden bowl is broken,
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the well. Ecclesiastes 12:6 (NKJV)

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.  Luke 21:28 (NKJV)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers.  If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also like to read The Door of Hope and Count the Stars and God is Near, Dear One.

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

 

My Tea Time Tutor

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24 (NKJV)

It’s back to school time for many youth across our country. As they bring lessons home, some students may find they are struggling in one subject area and need a tutor. I was a tutor for a few years, welcoming students into my home after school to help with math and reading homework. Much like a piano teacher who gives lessons, I only saw my pupils for 30-45 minutes each week. We got through a good chunk of homework that was due the next day, but I never felt we were making big progress in our brief time together. I pray my students saw Jesus in me and my family, and that is the lesson they remember the most!

These pupils needed the daily care of a tutor or parent to help them press on in their studies, much like we need Jesus daily to guide us. Just as 45 minutes of tutoring a week might not make a difference to a math student, an hour in church each week may not grow a believer. We need to be in God’s Word and praying EVERY DAY, listening to His Voice through the Holy Spirit, submitting to His will, fighting the good fight of faith.

Paul shows us in Galatians how that’s what God was doing through the Law — constantly tutoring us, showing us the right way, guiding us forward. And since none of us can follow the Law perfectly (For all have sinned, Romans 3:23), God sent His Only Son Jesus to save us and fulfill the Law. Now we live not under Law but under His grace!

…for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20 (NKJV)

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14 (NKJV)

What is this Law? It is the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses after he led God’s people out of Egypt, 430 years after God rewarded Abraham with a promise because of his faith. Abraham’s faith led to the Law, which led to the Law showing us our sin, which led to our need for a Savior, which led to Jesus coming, which leads to our faith in Him!

We need the Law to show us our sins and to lead us to Jesus. John MacArthur, in his study Bible, provides additional insight into the Law as our tutor. In MacArthur’s notes for Romans 3:31, he explains how our salvation through faith does not nullify the Law, but rather shows its true importance. Our faith in Christ provides the payment for the penalty of death required by the Law. And our faith in Christ fulfills the original purpose of the Law, to serve as a tutor. In his notes for Galatians 3:24, MacArthur tells how the Greek word for tutor denotes a slave whose duty it was to take care of a child until adulthood. They took children to school and watched over their behavior constantly, making children long for the day they would no longer have a tutor. I love John MacArthur’s quote, “The Law was our tutor which by showing us our sins, was escorting us to Christ.”

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus taught His disciples so many truths, but the one thing they specifically asked Him was, “teach us to pray.” Perhaps prayer, most of all, is where Jesus tutors us the most.

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: A new school year is upon us. Read Romans 3 with a heart open to tutoring. Let us commit to pray daily for children, grandchildren, neighbor children, and teachers in our towns. May they all be guided and tutored by the Word of God and His Holy Spirit. And may Jesus return to schools in the USA! May God also bless the homeschool families. And may we all continue to be tutored by Jesus until He returns!

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

Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
For I believe Your commandments.
Psalm 119:66 (NKJV)

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)

Receive, please, instruction from His mouth,
And lay up His words in your heart.
Job 22:22 (NKJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge… Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
Psalm 86:11

Thank you to David Kim  and Carrie from Discovery Church for this beautiful song!

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

His Marvelous Lovingkindness


Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,

For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
Psalm 143:8 (NKJV)

I awoke early at our campsite to have my tea time with Jesus before the day began. We had arrived a bit later than expected the night before. After setting up the pop-up camper and preparing supper, we realized the propane stove was not working.  So, just before 9 p.m., the family ate our anniversary dinner of taco salad with cold beans and then tumbled into sleeping bags.  We prayed that Daddy could fix the stove in the morning when there was daylight. And guess what, he did and we had hot French toast for breakfast! Isn’t the Lord kind?

Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
O You who save those who trust in You.  Psalm 17:7 (NKJV)

We were camping in a pristine mountain forest at a place called Crystal Lake Campground.  There was only one problem, the lake was missing!  It had dried up!  A lovely nature trail went around the “lake” that was no longer there.  Thankfully, the campground host had maps, and the boys hiked to this beautiful Crystal Cascade waterfall.  Isn’t that another example of the kindness of the Lord, to pour out His Living Water upon us when our souls are thirsty (Psalm 63:1)? In my quiet time I read this verse from Psalm 17:7 and thought of all the times God had shown us His Marvelous Lovingkindness when traveling…

  1. Twice, before reservations were allowed, we arrived late to the Many Glacier Campground in Glacier National Park, only to find it already full. We walked and drove around, looking for a spot. We sat at a picnic table and prayed. And guess what, both times we got a spot!  A Park ranger came by and said a family didn’t show up, we could have their spot.
  2. So many times when we were out of money or groceries and I needed to fix dinner when the kids were little, God helped me come up with a recipe with the few ingredients we had left.
  3. And every time we had a vehicle break down, God sent someone to rescue us. Our first minivan broke down in the middle of Nebraska on a trip from Colorado to Iowa, right next to a KOA campground where the kids enjoyed swimming.  A tow truck driver was available to tow us the next day all the way to our folks in Iowa. Isn’t God so good!

It reminds me of the song, “All my life You have been faithful, all my life you have been so, so good, with every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God.”(Bethel Music)

And yet those bits of Lovingkindness are just a tiny taste of the Marvelous Lovingkindness our Lord Jesus did for us on the Cross.  While we were yet sinners, God looked down from heaven and saw us and loved us (Romans 5:8). He saw how we were lost in our sin and could never obey all His law.  Yet He loved us and carried out the plan He had since before time began, sending His Only Son Jesus to die for our sins.  Jesus shed His blood for us and endured the pain of the cross (Hebrews 12:2) for you, and for me and for all who believe in Him.  On the third day He rose from the grave, defeating sin, satan, and death, once and for all, opening the door of heaven for all believers. Now that is Marvelous Lovingkindness!  Let’s rejoice in these blessings…

  1. He has prepared a campsite for us in heaven (John 14).
  2. He has a hot meal ready, Jesus, the Bread of Life (Psalm 22:26, John 6:35).
  3. And our vehicle won’t break down on the way, for He Himself will come to carry us home!   (Psalm 17:15, Psalm 23:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:17) Hallelujah! God be praised forever and ever and ever!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read these verses about our Lord’s Lovingkindness.  Take time today to write a verse in Your prayer journal and thank the Lord for all the times He’s showered You with His Marvelous Lovingkindness.  

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You. 
Psalm 63:3 (NKJV)

You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them—the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts.  Jeremiah 32:18 (NKJV)

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.  Psalm 25:6 (NKJV)

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

Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord;
Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.  Psalm 40:11 (NKJV)

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

 

Sealed with a Kiss

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NKJV)

Every day I kiss Jesus. I finish the first part of my morning TEA time, reading God’s Word.  I always try to let Him speak before me, opening my Bible to read as I take a sip from my steaming mug.  My readings include Old Testament, New Testament and Psalms, providing many verses that speak to my current needs.  Right now, I’m following the M’Cheyne Bible Reading plan, which actually has me reading in four places.  By the time I finish reading, my cup of tea is either cold or long gone.  I write down the verses God shows me in my prayer journal and close my Bible, giving it a kiss before setting it down, much as I always kissed our babies before laying them in the crib.  

Why did I start kissing my Bible?  Is it because it is as precious to me as those long-grown babies?  Is it because it is the Word of God, Jesus who gave His life for me?  Is it because it is the only Hope we have in the crazy world?  There are probably many reasons.  And yet, as I kiss His Word, I realize Jesus first kissed me.  

Every believer has the kiss of Jesus upon her forehead.  He has given you His Holy Spirit in your heart as a guarantee.  After He writes “My Beloved daughter” on us and seals us with the kiss of His Holy Spirit, we become a letter to all the world of God’s great love. That’s why when you are at the grocery store or park or anywhere and see another believer, Jesus shines from her eyes, and you know and she knows that you are both children of the Heavenly Father, you both have been sealed with His kiss.

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men. 2 Corinthians 3:2 (NKJV)

Do you know when Jesus was kissed by the Father?  I imagine that’s what the dove was doing at His baptism.  When John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River for repentance of sins, along came Jesus who had never sinned.  John didn’t think he should baptize his perfect cousin, but Jesus insisted, setting the example for all believers.  God had already told John that the One on whom His Spirit rests would be the Savior of the world (John 1:33).  And that is just what happened when Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son.”

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Ephesians 1:13 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read about Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1:9-11. Oh, Jesus, this is our story, too.  You established us, anointed us, and sealed us with Your Holy Spirit like an envelope. We have a seal on our hearts declaring, “Beloved of God,” “God’s Child,” “Saved by Jesus,” “Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb.”  And no one, no one, can remove the seal and snatch us from Your hands.  Yet people can still read the letter inside. We are Your letter to the world, proclaiming the Good News of Your salvation, Jesus. Hallelujah! This is my story! Amen.

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.  Psalm 2:12 (NKJV)

O Jesus, I love You! I kiss Your feet and wash them with my tears. I hug and kiss You with my prayers.  I run to You like a little girl to her Daddy, climbing on Your lap. Oh, I want to stay in this safe place.  You love me and all Your children.  You are gentle with us, but to the wicked You are a terror.  You are Great, Mighty, all-seeing, Savior God!  Nothing is too hard for You.  I love You, Jesus. Amen.

…Greet one another with a holy kiss.  1 Corinthians 16:20 (NKJV)

 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  2 Corinthians 5:5. (NKJV)

Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed. Psalm 85:10

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)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers.  If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also like to read last week’s Come to the Wedding Feast and God Loves You. And speaking of weddings and kisses, this week my husband and I celebrate our 32nd anniversary.  All glory be to God!

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

And You are Christ’s

And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.  1 Corinthians 3:23 (NKJV)

I smiled at the sky since I was a little girl and talked to God.  Walking home the short block from my elementary school to my house, I looked up at the big blue sky and smiled.  If I was inside my house and wanted to smile at God, I would hurry to a window just to see a piece of blue sky. Sadly, I drifted away as the cares of junior high hurt my soul.  But I returned to my church in college to teach Sunday school and serve as a deacon, though I still didn’t know Jesus. When the tragedy of losing my college cross country team in a plane crash came, I ran away from God completely for two whole years, doing things my own way.  Yet someone must have been praying for me, as I was introduced to God’s Son Jesus through dear friends.  From then on, I smiled up at the blue sky again with a big “hello Jesus,” wondering upon which cloud He will return (Revelation 1:7).

Some of you might be in this spot, too, faithfully serving God at church, teaching Sunday school, helping with the coffee hour, singing in the choir, taking care of your husband and children… and God loves you and sees all the good you are doing.  And TODAY, He wants YOU to truly know the One you’ve been serving all this time, the One He sent to earth to show what He is like (John 14:9).  TODAY He wants you to welcome Jesus as Your Lord and Savior, admitting your sins and asking Him into your heart.  All those Sunday school lessons you taught from Adam and Eve and the serpent who brought this world into sin, to the baby Jesus who came at Christmas will all “click” for you as you know Jesus, God’s Son.  The words of all those hymns you sing will suddenly be so full of meaning. All those cookies you serve at Fellowship will now give you joy as you realize you are feeding Jesus’ sheep. And If you are a mom, caring for children, you will learn how precious children are to Jesus and He is smiling at all you do. Whatever you do now, you will do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor.10:31), knowing that you are Christ’s.

Ascribe strength to God;
His excellence is over Israel,
And His strength is in the clouds.  Psalm 68:34 (NKJV)

Dear one, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). His fervent desire is to be with you (Luke 22:15). I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). Remember our Savior the next time you look up at the big blue sky.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read Acts 16:13-15 for the story of a woman who came to know Jesus while serving Him. Oh, TEA friend, won’t you please give your heart to Jesus today, too? Pray the salvation prayer. If you aren’t already on a Bible reading plan, how about beginning with a chapter of John each day? You will get to know Jesus, your Savior, to whom you now belong.  Welcome to God’s family, dear sister!

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. John 1:12 (NKJV)

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16 (NKJV)

Dear Jesus, I want to be in Your family.  I want to be Your child and be washed clean from all the bad things I’ve done in my life, all the times I didn’t listen to You, all the times I went my own way.  Please scrub away all my selfishness and pride and everything else I’ve done that is not of You.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and be with me each day. Help me walk on Your straight and narrow path.  I believe You are my Savior who died for my sins.  I believe You rose again and are preparing a place for me in heaven.  I believe You are the only Way, the only Lord, the only God.  Please help me live as Your daughter from this moment forward.  Pick me up when I stumble. Thank you for loving me and dying for me and letting me be in Your family. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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

 

The Red Cord: Rahab’s Story

This week, I continue sharing keynote chapters from my next book, More TEA CUPP Prayers (Thank you for your prayers for me to finish it!). Each weekly devotion is focused on a Bible lady to draw you into your prayer time with Jesus.  I pray these are a blessing for you!

So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. Joshua 2:1 (NKJV)

She was the concealer of Israel’s spies, the savior of her family, the great-great-grandmother of King David, the great-grandmother of Jesse, the grandmother of Obed, and the mother of Boaz. Who was this great lady?  Rahab the Harlot!

If you read Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers, you might think you are reading the same devotion again, for in that book I shared about Ruth, the wife of Boaz and great-grandmother of King David. Going back one more generation we have another amazing woman, Rahab. I wonder if Rahab was still living when Boaz married Ruth? These two Bible ladies certainly had some stories to tell! That’s what the U part of the TEA CUPP is all about, UNDERSTANDING our stories.

Rahab’s story begins in the book of Joshua. God’s people, the Israelites, had completed their forty years of wandering in the desert. God was finally leading them into the Promised Land. Joshua sent two spies to check out the first city, Jericho. When the spies arrived at Jericho, they hid in the house of a prostitute named Rahab. It was a good cover for two traveling men, but the king found out about them anyway.

God, always providing, prepared Rahab’s heart to hide the spies. When the king sent his men to find the spies, Rahab cleverly hid them under some flax she was drying on the roof. She told the king’s men that the spies had gone on and to go look for them. Then Rahab let the spies down through the window, as her home was in the city wall. She instructed them to hide in the mountains for three days until the search was ended.

Before letting the spies depart, Rahab begged for mercy for her family. She had heard of the Israelites’ great victories and how their God had fought for them. Rahab proclaimed “for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11). She knew they would take Jericho next and asked for her family to be spared. The spies agreed if Rahab would leave a red cord hanging from her window. That red cord was the symbol of her salvation.

After three days in the mountains, the spies returned to Joshua with the good news that the “inhabitants of the country are faint-hearted because of us” (Joshua 2:24). So Joshua and the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan River and conquer Jericho (now that’s another great story!). On the seventh day of marching around Jericho, Joshua instructed the two spies to rescue Rahab and her family, adopting them into the Jewish nation.

And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua 6:25 (NKJV)

I wonder if one of the spies was a handsome fellow named Salmon. For in Matthew 1:5 we read, “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab.” Rahab settled down with the Israelites and became part of the lineage of Christ. I imagine she told her children and grandchildren the story again and again of how the red cord saved her family.

Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. Matthew 1:5-6 (NKJV)

Dear Sister, we have a red cord of salvation, too! Our Red Cord is the blood of Jesus Christ. For on the cross at Calvary, He shed His blood for us, dying for all our sins. As Rahab believed in the God of the Israelites and trusted the spies and red cord, we too can believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and trust in His Son Jesus and the blood He shed for us. Grab onto Jesus’ “red cord,” telling your salvation story to to your children and grandchildren and neighbors.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read Rahab’s incredible story in Joshua 2 and 6. Where do you find yourself in her story? Are you Rahab, deeply in need of forgiveness and longing to be included in God’s family? Are you one of the Israelites, crossing the Jordan River, hoping for a fresh start on the other side? Wherever you are in life, I pray you will make Jesus a big part of your story, and tell about Him to others, saving your family, as did Rahab.

Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? James 2:25 (NKJV)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers. If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also like Bible Mom: Understanding with Ruth and Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers which includes this devotion.

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

Where I Met Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my running story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I traded…

My stopwatch for the cross of Christ,

My will for God’s will,

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

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

And so God’s Word has become my life…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me.
Psalm 142:7 (NKJV)

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