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“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” 

-Psalm 27:1

"Family Secrets from the Theme Park"   

Come a little closer. I’m about to come clean right here in this space*. Yes, I’m going to share an ugly family secret my dear husband and I have been living with for many years now. I hope you won’t judge us too harshly, but here we go. Phil and I once forced our kids onto the biggest, scariest looking roller coaster they’d ever seen—against their will. I know. I can hear you from here, but give me a moment to explain. We callous brutes had our reasons. 

It was late. We were about to leave the famed theme park with its highly publicized ride and we felt sure we’d never be back. It was now or never. The kids had been talking about these rides for months. Together we reasoned that Jessica and Phillip loved roller coasters. They just needed us, their loving parents, to help them get over their new intimidation. If we could just get ‘em on board, we knew they’d thank us later. I can’t explain it. And I’m not excusing us, but somehow we convinced ourselves we were doing the right thing. 

As hard as it is to admit, that night Phil and I threw all sane parental wisdom to the wind. Each of us took a child and began to drag, pull, and coax them up the long ramp towards what we knew was big fun and they were convinced was sure doom. The poor babies whimpered and begged while we pleaded. We could feel daggers being thrown at us by the teenage attendants and the other straggling late night theme parkers. For what it’s worth, we were right. We pulled back into the station with them begging to go again. But by now, reason had returned and Phil and I were more sheepish than smug. 

Here’s a great truth. God made us. He knows yielding our lives to Him brings pleasure untold but unlike me and Phil, He’s not going to force anyone to go along with His plan. He gave us a gift called free will. You and I both get to use it. Sometimes I wish God wasn’t such a gentleman. The sweeter I find His fellowship, the more I wish He’d grab everyone by the arm and pull ‘em onto the ride, or at least let me! Know what I mean? News flash, friends. It doesn’t work. However, if you’re a believer, I’d like to suggest the next best thing. Throw your hands up and holler, “Yee ha!!!” on all the turns. That should get their attention! 

*This is edited from its original publication and is shared here with the author's permission.

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a Jesus loving, humor-gathering author, speaker, and radio host known as The Belle of All Things Southern. Shellie believes "The whole world stops for a story." She lives in Louisiana and stacks her stories up at All Things Southern.com

More of Shellie Rushing Tomlinson: http://www.allthingssouthern.com/

Praise -  


Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.Revelation 5:11-14


Praise is music to God’s ears. God loves to hear His children offer Him praise. How can you make God happy? Praise Him! Why should God be praised? He is our Creator, our Redeemer and our Comforter.


Praise releases the power of God. Praise is our expression of gratitude for His mighty acts of power and his surpassing greatness. Praise releases your life into the hands of God. Praise releases the Holy Spirit within you to call upon His almighty authority. Praise releases your spirit to sing of His awesome greatness!


Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. —Psalm 150:6



1. Look through Psalms 144-150. Count the number of reasons the psalmist gives us to offer praise to God.


2. Take a minute to sing a song of praise to God.



Psalm 145:1-13

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com. 

Some of his recent books include: Faith Conversations for Families; Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim and his wife, Cathy and their three daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi live in Southern California. 

More of Jim Burns: www.homeword.com

Pig-Pen  -   


We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin… When he died he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. —Romans 6:6-7, 10-12 (NLT)


Do you remember Pig-Pen? He is Charlie Brown’s friend. Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, described Pig-Pen this way, “Pig-Pen is a human soil bank who raises a cloud of dust on a perfectly clean street.” Wherever Pig-Pen went, he had this dirt cloud that loomed around him. It was a stink cloud. It was nasty. It was ugly.


Whenever I experience a lack of self-control, I think of Pig-Pen. When we demonstrate a lack of self-control, it’s embarrassing, isn’t it? It’s like a big stink cloud that follows us around wherever we go. Our lack of self-control can run the entire spectrum of life: our thoughts, emotions, words, relationships, habits, addictions, food, beverages. It’s nasty. It’s ugly. We feel the deep sense of failure. We circle the wagons and withdraw, hoping no one will notice our stink. Although we’d like to blame the stink cloud on anyone else, we cannot. There’s no one to blame but ourselves.


Our lack of self-control boils down to this: we have a sin problem. We get caught up in a downward cycle that starts with a temptation, then proceeds to giving into the temptation, then we feel guilty about having given in, we resolve to do better next time, then we face a temptation again, give in again, feel more guilty, and then after a few more times through the cycle, we begin thinking, “I can’t stop this, so why even bother to try?”


The good news is that there is a pathway out of the lack of self-control sin cycle. God delights when you and I have self-control. In fact, He wants us to have self-control so much that He promises to produce it in our lives when we yield the control of our lives to Him. He gave His Son to make it possible.


In today's Scripture passage, we find the hope we are looking for: we are no longer slaves to sin! We have a choice. God has given us the authority to win the battle of self-control. The true power for living a life of self-control isn’t found in yourself, it’s found in one person, Jesus. To live a life increasingly characterized by self-control, we must realize we can’t do it on our own. We must choose to invite Jesus to control our lives and begin to live the truth of our identity in Him: we are not slaves, we are free. On the day we choose this path to self-control, we’ll start looking (and smelling) a lot less like Pig-Pen.



1. What areas of your life do you most display a lack of self-control?


2. What sources of pain in your life do you try to medicate through giving into temptation?



Galatians 5:19-25; James 1:12-15; 1 Corinthians 

DOUG FIELDS is the senior director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University and the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com. Doug has been a youth and teaching pastor at Mariners Church and Saddleback Church for 30 years and has authored more than fifty books. He is a passionate speaker reaching thousands of leaders, teenagers, and parents every year. Doug resides with his wife and three children in Southern California. 

More of Doug Fields: www.homeword.com

"Hide and Seek"    

When I was a little girl growing up on Bull Run Road this type of late summer, early fall evening seemed to go on forever...I remember catching magical fireflies in Mason jars and playing Hide and Seek as the mosquitoes feasted on our bare legs. In the midst of the game, their bites were nothing more than a minor distraction. We unconsciously splattered them against our skin in the fading dark as we tended to weightier matters like whose turn was it to be “it” first. (As the baby of the family, it was usually mine.) It was only later, lying beneath the cool sheets, having been forced through baths and examined by eagle-eye Mama, would we realize the extent of the mosquitoes attack. How in the world did Mama expect us not to scratch? Seriously, I didn’t understand it then and I still don’t today. 

But, back to Hide and Seek... As I alluded to earlier, being the youngest meant I had considerably more practice being the Seeker than the Hider. Always the optimist, I’d search diligently for my older sisters, fully trusting that they were going to let me take my turn hiding sooner or later. Whether it was due to the fading dark, or the large boundaries of the surrounding fields, more often than I care to remember I had to swallow my pride and call out the admission that shames little children everywhere. “I give up. Come out; come out, wherever you are!” 

Those long ago memories of Hide and Seek remind me of a beautiful promise from God’s word. The Bible teaches us that apart from His revelation there is no searching God out. Wow, that makes for one futile game of Hide and Seek and it means that however smart, however educated one may be, God won’t allow Himself to be known by the casual observer. He will remain a mystery. But, don’t despair; I’m not through. As Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story! The same Good Book also tells us in Jeremiah 29:13 that, “God will be found of those who search for Him with all of their hearts.” I urge you to find yourself a quiet place that you can return to over and over again, a place to renew your mind and your strength, a place where you can lift your voice in earnest to the One who desires to be found. Approach Him like a small child willing to risk your reputation to call, “Come out, come out, wherever you are”. That’s how you’ll come to know your Maker.

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is a Jesus loving, humor-gathering author, speaker, and radio host known as The Belle of All Things Southern. Shellie believes "The whole world stops for a story." She lives in Louisiana and stacks her stories up at All Things Southern.com

More of Shellie Rushing Tomlinson: http://www.allthingssouthern.com/

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