Why Become a Member?

Soul Care/Family & Marriage Care

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” 

-Psalm 55:22

"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

 

GOING DEEPER:

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.

 

FURTHER READING:

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

Pest Control -  

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. —Psalm 51:10-12

 

I noticed the hole in my flowerbed one late-August afternoon. I passed by without giving it much thought. The next week I noticed two holes. I decided whatever was digging the holes must just be passing through. A month later, there were more holes. But with the winter cold and stormy weather approaching, I was certain the diggers would move along.

 

Winter came and after a January snowstorm, when the snow had melted, I noticed large lengths of my front lawn next to the flowerbed had been torn up. Finally, I had reached my limit.

 

I called a local pest control company. A worker came to my home and promptly declared, “You’ve got rats.”

 

I’ve got to say that I was angry. I’m not a huge fan of rats. But I really wasn’t mad at them. It’s not likely that I could have prevented them from attempting to migrate from the greenbelt behind my home. I was mad at myself! Back in the lazy days of summer, when I first noticed the signs that something was amiss, I did nothing. I purposely did nothing.

 

This is also a good reminder about our spiritual lives. It’s easy in the busyness of life to become complacent in nurturing our spiritual health. Perhaps we notice that we’re drifting a bit spiritually. Perhaps we notice subtle changes in our character, desires, or behaviors. But too often, we ignore the warning signs, and purposely do nothing. Then, one day, we look up and notice that rats have taken up residence in our hearts.

 

It’s fortunate that there are preventative measures for rat infestation, both of the rodent and spiritual varieties. And in both cases, they involve proactive awareness and action on our parts.

 

There are no more rats currently living in my yard or garage. But I know they live just down the hill. Today, I’m in rat-prevention-mode. I’ve got bait stations placed around the property and traps in my garage. Each week I routinely survey the landscape to check for new holes. Once a quarter, my pest control guy inspects the surroundings for any evidence of rodents. So far – so good.

 

In the realm of spiritual pest control, preventative measures are also plentiful. We can be on the lookout for spiritual drifting. We can regularly survey our hearts, read the Bible, repent, and pray. We can worship and fellowship with other believers and ask trusted friends to be accountability partners with us. When we know something isn’t right, we can cry out to the Lord seeking His strength, forgiveness, wisdom, and healing.

 

Let me encourage you today to enter spiritual-rat-prevention-mode. When it comes to guarding your spiritual health, the old adage still rings true, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. What do you feel is the most likely threat to your spiritual health? What preventative measures can you take?

 

2. Find a Bible verse (or verses) to memorize that can serve as a “preventative measure” in your life.

 

FURTHER READING:

Hebrews 12:1-3; Romans 6:10-14; 2 Corinthians 7:1

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Power Breaks - 

This devotional was written by Linda Vujnov

 

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” —John 11:40

 

Hundreds of times I have heard the story of Lazarus. Alright, hundreds may be a slight exaggeration. In the first Bible I owned the colored picture associated with the story of Lazarus showed a dead guy lying in bed and his sister, Mary, weeping next to him. Martha, his other sister, is wearing her angry face and is shaking her fist at heaven. The exact details of the drawing are blurry. I was seven.

 

As the story goes, when Jesus finally arrives to tend to Lazarus, he is dead and buried in a tomb. Upset by his late arrival, Martha says to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’" There is a hint of hope in Martha’s tone, yet she is still unsure and not very happy with tardy Jesus.

 

The sisters are unsure about Jesus’ plans. This I find amazing. The women are standing with Jesus in the flesh, the same Jesus who walked on water and fed 5,000 people with a smattering of fish and loaves of bread, yet they still doubt that He is capable of making a dead guy stand up and walk.

 

When they arrive at the tomb, Jesus says, “Take away the stone.” At this point I’m pretty sure I would have enough faith to say, “I’m on it Jesus!” knowing that Jesus, Son of God, was standing right there ready to do a miracle. However, Martha replies, “But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Really Martha? Really? You are worried about the odor? As if Jesus was going to reply, “Oh gosh Martha, that’s true. What was I thinking?” Where was her confidence in who Jesus is, the Son of God, the miracle worker? Had she forgotten all that Jesus had done?

 

Truthfully, I am no different than Martha. How many times have I worried about the odor instead of doing what I was asked to do? Why don’t I have complete confidence in God’s power at all times and for all things?

 

God’s power is something I should not take lightly. When I choose to “move the stone away,” He is able to do mighty acts of grace on my behalf.

 

In the end, Jesus performed a miracle, and Lazarus walked out of the tomb without a stench. Not only was he filled with thankfulness, but after four days of fasting, he no doubt had an unquenchable craving for a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and waffle fries.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. In what area of your life do you currently need God’s power?

 

2. How does knowing about God’s power give you freedom to surrender your struggles to Him?

FURTHER READING:

Psalm 68:28, Jeremiah 10:6

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

FaithHappenings Blogs