Sister to Sister Archives: You Just Can’t Appreciate Jesus Like I Do

Digital Rendering of a Woman with Headset

Things just aren’t like they used to be in reference to morality in our country today. Homosexual advocates have a champion of their cause sitting in the Oval Office. The icons of our teen girls are a sad lot of extremely immodest, fornicating, pro-choice, feminist and/or vulgar-mouthed screen stars. Television sit-coms would have us believe that there’s a homosexual man or woman living in every third household in America and that conversation is incomplete and flavorless without cursing and taking God’s name in vain. We kill 1.2 million of our innocents every year and we often pay for the murders with tax dollars. Our schools are battlefields in this culture war and, as a result, our kids are often safe from neither physical harm nor molestation of their values systems. There are many schools today which have outlawed student-led prayer through Christ and/or prayer around the flagpole, but which grant excuses from classes at certain times of the day so that Muslim children can pray toward Mecca. More and more, children need the solidity and emotional safety of parents who can always be depended on for real answers to social issues, for values that are unchanging, and for the provision of a real home; a haven where they can count on being protected physically and emotionally, but most of all spiritually.

And our own “Christian” teens are living in this moral vacuum. More and more of our children raised in “Christian” homes are coming of age and leaving home without the moral underpinnings that they need to make wise choices. Many have already made serious mistakes before high school or even middle school graduation. Our kids are experimenting with pornography, alcohol, and sex of various kinds during high school. They have often been indiscriminate in their television and movie viewing. They have allowed their minds to become subtly controlled by the materialism of television and the movies while becoming anesthetized to blatant sin. They’ve slowly come to laugh at what should make them, as Christians cry. They’ve incrementally given their real allegiance to the world while giving only a token Sunday/Wednesday nod to the things of God.

And then, with a little hope, thankfully, many find their way to the Christian university. At Freed Hardeman University, where my son and daughter have both attended, there are some amazing faculty members whose lives are wholly given to the Lord. There is a Bible faculty, on that campus which, in my opinion, is second to none in the world. And, many times, thank God, those students, who arrived as freshmen in a very weak spiritual condition, find themselves growing closer to God, wanting to know the freedom from guilt, and finding joy in heartfelt service to God. Sometimes these kids have the will to truly change during these college years and many of them will be faithful for the rest of their lives. Praise God.

But there is a sad phenomenon that sometimes occurs in this college scenario. Sometimes, those students who walked away from God during high school and became dangerously involved in alcohol abuse, sexual sin or pornography, etc., somehow feel that they have the spiritual edge over those kids who made the better choices in high school. You may be wondering, “Now where could she be going with this?” Let me explain.

More and more I am hearing college devo leaders say things like “If your life has never been totally messed up with sexual sin, then you can’t fully appreciate Christianity like I can.” Or, “I am not going to stand here and tell you that I have led a sexually pure life. You wouldn’t believe me if I did, since there probably aren’t two out of every ten people in this room who could say that. I’m going to tell you I’ve done about everything you’ve done, maybe as much as several of you put together and He still reached down for me.” Or, “I wouldn’t trade places with any of you out there who always walked the straight and narrow because I love the Jesus who came to the wide path and rescued me.” Or, “There may be those of you who think you made all the right choices through high school. You may have. But, if you did, I doubt you really know a lot about reaching the sinner with His forgiveness.”

What’s wrong with this sort of message in a devotional talk? Well, I can think of some definite dangers. First, let’s take this sort of teaching to its natural conclusion. If I can eventually put the greatest appreciation of the Savior in my kids by encouraging them to participate in sin, then shouldn’t I just provide the alcohol for their high school parties? Shouldn’t I encourage fornication and experimentation with homosexuality, porn, vulgarity and lewdness? Shouldn’t I get the raunchiest forms of satellite TV and download the most explicit computer images for them to view? Second, there are many lifelong consequences that come with various forms of sin (even forgiven sin). You can think of lots of these off the top of your head. With fornication comes the fear of STDs and/or the effect that this behavior has on your later marriage.

With abortion comes the hauntings of guilt and the cry of the dead baby that you may hear for the rest of your life. With alcohol comes the possibility of alcoholism. With porn use comes the addiction you may have to fight till you die. The high school student who had the foresight, fortitude and faith to leave these sins alone should never be tauntingly stereotyped as the pharisaical, righteous one as I often hear in college circles. Third, It took a lot of courage and conviction to avoid the typical high school sins. It was not an accident that this purity of life was maintained. In fact, it was the same Christ who offered you His forgiveness that reigned in the heart of your friend there, as she worked so hard to never let King Jesus down. Did he ever need his forgiveness? Oh absolutely. Can she appreciate that forgiveness? Definitely. But he or she doesn’t have to walk away from the light to know the power of darkness. Fourth, we have to be really careful not to make a lifestyle of sin appealing to young people. Many—no, most young people who become enamored with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life during the very young teen years, do not emerge on the side of the Savior as adults. We are losing huge percentages of our kids as they experiment with the sins of the devil in high school. Parents and mentors who are really focused on eternity will do all that’s within their power to enable their kids to get in the safety of His will and to stay there every single day as they face the huge challenges of life in high school. Just one time, be on the receiving end of that phone call from a grief stricken parent informing you that a teen has been prematurely snatched from this life while under the influence of alcohol and you will desperately want your child to be among the number of pharisaical righteous ones on that college campus one day.

I understand that the one forgiven of much will love much (Luke 7:47). I know, from the life of Paul that the chief of sinners can be the most devoted to the cause (I Tim. 1:15). But there is a real sense in which each of is chief of sinners. There is a sense in which we all have obtained the ultimate forgiveness. We cannot afford to make the depth of depravity to which one has slipped the barometer of perceived spirituality. Let’s stop viewing those who remained faithful to God through what was arguably the most difficult years of life as some sort of self-righteous, sub-Christians. Let’s look to their examples and perhaps even to wisdom they gained for encouragement. I know many of these heroes. Among them are Joseph, Daniel, Samuel, Esther, Mary, the mother of the Lord and Timothy. And I know many of them who are now in college, as well. I can look at the short inexhaustive list above and know that God has a special place in his heart for those who stood relatively alone for truth and right in the high school years.

Sister to Sister: The Dissonance of Orlando for Christians

Pretty young girl with martini looking at camera in the bar

What happened in Orlando at a gay bar earlier this summer seems unthinkable, yet it wasn’t. I mean, all of us had thought about it. We knew the possibility of an attack by a Muslim terrorist (and that’s what he was) or a group of them—on our soil—again—was likely. To me, this is the worst case scenario, though, because, after the fact, reflection brings such a cold hard truth to mind. This truth keeps haunting me: Every single person killed—every.single.one– so far as can reasonably be determined —was involved, at the time, in overt rebellion against the plainly stated will of God. Certainly the perpetrator was committing murder in the first degree multiplied times over. He left this life without hope. Those fifty people who were brutally killed in an establishment where homosexuality is celebrated and liquor was flowing at two o’clock in the morning on that Lord’s day also left this earth without hope. Christians who went to worship Him later that morning know, whether we have verbalized it or not, that the murderer and the murdered left this life to share an eternity in hell together. 

Certainly we can take nothing but sorrow from that realization. I’m pretty certain there are parents left behind—parents of some of those millennials who died—who are believers in Christ and the Bible. How their hearts must grieve at the realization that their children left this earth while participating in a hedonistic lifestyle that scoffs at the Word of God. We grieve with them. Perhaps some of them were unaware of that lifestyle in which their children were involved until the news and circumstances of their deaths were announced. The pain of even thinking about that, for me as a parent, is hard to fathom. 

It’s true that we are all sinners…condemned…without the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Praise God for that Lamb! But for those of us to whom that Lamb’s blood has been applied, the Orlando incident represents a greater tragedy than even the loss of fifty lives and the fact that Islamic terrorism is a constant threat to our American way of life. The added dimension, for Christians, is the knowledge that both terrorist and terrorized, in Orlando, are in the same list in God’s word. We’ve come to the point in America, at least in this instance, in which calling the victims “innocent” is, although appropriate in some sense, technically inaccurate. The list is here:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Rev. 21:8).

Here it is again from Romans 1:28-32

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. 

I’m sad for people who left this world from a gay bar. At the same time, I am stricken with the reality that I could leave this world at any time and there’s a list of sins in these passages that’s far broader than just murder and homosexuality.  May I do my very best to honor his laws; to be found in places and with people who will help me to do that. May I constantly praise him for the blood that cleanses me as I walk in His light, doing my best to honor Him (I John 1:7). And, finally, may I realize that there are two great enemies of this great American culture we’ve known for 250 years. One is the threat of the Muslims who are practicing what the Quran teaches (in multiple Quran passages) about slaughtering followers of the Lamb. The other is Americans  who have forsaken the teachings of the slaughtered Lamb.  

I pray for America regularly. But in those same prayers, I thank my Father that I am part of a kingdom that will still be standing when America falls. May His children here be faithful to Him. May He be merciful to His children here. 

From the Archives: I Need this Reminder…

female-with-burger-cartoon-business-vector-character_zkuQM1OO_SLooking at the clock on the radio, I knew I didn’t have time to go back home. It was already 6:32 and Bible study started at 7:00. I had forgotten my phone again. It’s lying by my bed on the nightstand, but nobody will call me anyway. Glenn is fast asleep somewhere in Ukraine where it’s 2 am (2:32 to be precise) and everybody else I know will be at church. No worries.
Driving through Huntsville in a pelting and blinding rain, I started to wonder if everybody would be there tonight. But I was wrong to wonder. Encouraged by a great crowd with several visitors, a dynamic lesson by Todd Clippard, watching a four-year old in the foyer say all the books of both Testaments, and then getting a couple of contacts while attending a short visitation meeting, I was ready to go home and accomplish a few housekeeping chores before bedtime.

But I have to pass Sonic on my way home. Now that’s a blessing and a curse. The blessing is the Route 44 diet Dr. Pepper. The curse is the hamburger you really want to go with it. I’d skipped supper, was hungry and ordered both (but just the 8 point burger, no mayo and definitely no fries or onion rings).

I paid with my credit card, turned the radio down and said a prayer while waiting for my order. I thanked God for the food that was coming. Then I turned the radio back on. I thought about calling my kids, but, oh yeah…no phone.

Listening to oldies, savoring every one of those eight points and thinking about what a good day it had been and what an even better day it would be tomorrow, because that’s the day Glenn gets back to the US, I thought, “Life is good,” as Glenn often quips.

Then the abrupt pop came from the radio. The radio stopped playing, the fan stopped blowing, the window would not roll up or down. When I turned the key, there was nothing but a repetitive clicking sound. I started to think about my options. They were limited. I might walk home but it’s much too far and it’s raining. I might call someone… if I had a phone. I might ask someone in a car next to me to think really hard and see if he has any ideas, but he does not look very nice. I might call a cab… if I had a phone. I might go over to the highway and hope somebody nice passes by…somebody from church…but they will not pass by because they’d already left the building before I did. I might try to go up to that huge emergency vehicle that’s taking up three parking places over there and ask the EMS people if they have any ideas. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. This is an Emergency and they could do me a service. The only part of EMS that this is not is the M for “medical.” I bet they will help me. I’m doing it. I’m walking over there and see if they will look down and see me. I am not tall enough to knock on their window. And, alas…they are driving away. I am stepping in puddles to get to them and they are driving away and they are splashing me.

Getting back in my car, I decided to rummage through my purse. Maybe I did bring that phone. I didn’t. Let me look around this lot again. Maybe someone is a nice person…No, I don’t think so. This is Northwest Huntsville. In fact, I am scared. Why do I even come to this scary place??!!

But I will get “scareder” and “scareder” if I keep procrastinating and not thinking of anything to do. Everyone knows a scary place is twice as scary when it gets past nine or ten at night. I’ll just have to go up to the door where it says “Employees Only” and hope there is an employee who looks nice and will have pity on me and let me come in and use their phone. I hope they have a phone book, too. But no employees look nice either. They look tattoo-ey and smoky and I think all of them cuss. They probably will want to cuss at me when they know that my car is likely going to spend the rest of the night here in one of only a few places where they don’t have to walk in this rain to deliver the order.

But one of the not-so-nice looking employees came to the door and said, “Can I help you?” She called to her friend who had a cell phone. She immediately handed it to me. Another employee scrambled for the phone book. The two of them walked out and looked at my car. One looked under the hood. One had jumper cables. But by now the car would not even go into neutral so we could push it away from the Sonic order box sign thingies, so we could get a car close enough to connect the cables. Then a third employee walked over. He was the scariest because he was the biggest. He started asking me questions like “What does your husband do?” and “Why is he out of the country?” I wondered just why this not-so-nice-looking man wanted to know these things. He wanted to know what church he preaches for and where is this church? I sort of wanted to stop telling this man about my husband being out of the country and I sort of wanted to say “ I don’t really know the answer to this question. Could I phone a friend? With your phone??” But then he said, “I am a member of the church of Christ, too. I’m just in Huntsville because I go to UAH. I am a member of the church in Birmingham.”

It is just so strange. Suddenly this big six foot-four man did not look “not-so-nice.” As he walked over to his car to get some longer jumper cables he looked more like “very nice.” He helped the girl (whose car was not close enough because of these ordering boxes) to jump the curb from the other side and pull up into the middle of the sidewalk, so she could jump me off. He connected the two batteries. He said, “Go try it now.” I started the car and told them both that I love them! I do love them. I am, because of their kindness, sitting in my warm dry bedroom thinking.

Sometimes, when I was a child, after I had inflicted some injustice or said some harsh word, my mother used to tell me to just go to my room and “think about it.” I really hated when she told me to go and think about something.” I had really rather have had a thrashing than to have to go and “think about something.” So I would decide that I would go to my room, but I would not think about it. The ironic trouble is… the more you decide not to think about it, the more you think about it. And I guess you learn a thing or two when you think about it. I’m sure my mother knew all of this to be the case.

So, tonight, I am thinking about it. Here are some lessons learned as I think about it:

1. Do not wait till the last minute to leave for church. Not a good habit.
2. Keep up with your cell phone. If I’ve heard Glenn say it once I have heard him say it a thousand times: “I do not know why I even pay for that phone. It is never turned on and if it is turned on, it is not with you.”
3. Do not be out in the open in West Huntsville late at night when your husband is out of the country.
4. Memorize some local friends’ phone numbers or at least write them down and put them in your car, in case you fail at #2.
5. Carry some jumper cables with you.
6. Do not park so close to the order box thing that you cannot fit between it and your car. If you have to go back and forth, and back and forth from the driver’s seat to the engine, you will get very wet, especially when you have to walk all the way around a huge banner advertising happy hour with half- price drinks and slushes; a banner that is tied to the two posts and blocks the entire sidewalk… every single time you make this trek from driver’s seat to engine. Makes you feel like maybe if you were going to walk this much and get this wet, you should at least be going toward home.
7. Always carry enough money with you so that you can give a little to someone who has goodness in his/her heart. I had exactly thirteen dollars to my name. I was glad I had at least paid for my burger with my credit card or it would have been even less. I had even given all my pocket change to the other girl as a tip when she brought my food. I gave my thirteen dollars to one of the employees and told her I wish it could have been more. I do.

But the most important lesson is this: Cindy Colley, please resolve to stop summing people up based on appearances, situations of employment, areas of town, or any other outside indicators. Guess what? All outside indicators would have shouted that my vehicle was by far the most dependable of any of the cars of any of the employees who helped make mine run. It was nicer, newer, more expensive when purchased and cleaner. But none of that mattered tonight. What mattered was what was occurring under the hood. People are that way. The people at Sonic were that way tonight. See, these people whom I was misjudging, based on appearances, as those who could probably care less about my plight, were, in fact, those who knew what to do and didn’t think twice about whether or not they were doing it. They didn’t ask me if I would like for them to come out in the rain and see if they could help. They just got about the business. They didn’t look like the most dependable people to me. But, under the hood, they had what was needed and they freely gave it. One of these people was my brother in Christ. I am going back to Sonic in the next couple of days and carry him some homemade bread and some good spiritual books. He looks like the kind of guy who would really enjoy reading them!

“But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature, because I have refused him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Sister to Sister: Just a Minute for Apologetics Press

Banner-APEarlier this week the good folks at Apologetics Press (www.apologeticspress.org) were targeted by Facebook trolls who made it their goal to post many negative reviews and to, in the most vulgar terms imaginable, openly criticize the site and revile the good work it does. My husband took the opportunity to say some good things about the work at AP and, almost immediately,  a response appeared on his Facebook timeline that also spewed hate and vulgarity toward AP.

I cannot think of a tool that did more, as my children were growing up, to put faith in them, than the materials from Apologetics Press. I visit the site regularly, cite it often in writing and speaking and recommend it almost everywhere I go to talk to groups of women. My husband and I are indebted to the men at AP for the research and writing (and fundraising) that have produced volumes like “How Do We Know the Bible is from God?” and episodes of “Digger Doug”  and the various series of AP readers and many more volumes that developed faith in the hearts of Caleb Colley and Hannah Giselbach. Their materials were core to out homeschooling endeavors, our classroom teaching in the church and our Family Bible Times in our home. Currently our daughter is using one of the books to answer questions from little people in her class of nine-year-olds in Montgomery, AL. and as they find the real evidence to answer the question “How do we know the Bible is true?” They are making their own newspaper chronicling their discoveries to share with the congregation. When nine-year-olds are inquisitive about such an eternally important matter, the time to stop and answer is now. Apologetics Press has, through the years, made for parents and teachers, preachers and elders and, yes, our children seeking truth an indispensable resource.

It’s no wonder that forces of the devil regularly attack the work at AP and it is bound, as our country becomes more thoroughly secularized, to happen all the more often and with a greater vengeance. I hope every Christian mother and grandmother reading will go to the AP website (linked above) and give a brief positive review of the site. Further, I hope you will share this article in support of Apologetics Press on your Facebook wall. Two clicks and you’ve publicly stood for something great while standing against wickedness. Further, you’ve done it in a very public forum.

I know some of you may be thinking, “But I don’t want to share something that will draw the ire of wicked people and I surely don’t want vulgarity on my timeline.” That’s precisely the kind of thinking that’s silenced many people of God for way too long. Persecution like this is going to be more and more commonplace and, if we fail to stand together as the people of God, we let the devil have his way. On the other hand, when we are reviled and persecuted (and that’s exactly the intent of this attack on AP), we are blessed. I hope you will share (or write your own positive review about the work at AP).  You can do this on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ApologeticsPress/?fref=ts. Persecution is coming our way. Now is a good time to start reacting with meekness and boldness. (When you encounter those who post vile language on your wall, simply go to the right hand corner of their “comment”, click on the arrow and then click on “hide” and the comment will disappear. You can elect also to “block” this person from further commenting on your timeline.)

For an even more effective show of support, go to the site and do a little summer-reading-shopping for those children in your world who need to be prepared for the obstacles the devil has planned for them. (Here’s the store: http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Store.aspx.

And most importantly, pray for the blessed men who continue the work at AP for the sake of our families and congregations. Know they are blessed because our Lord characterized them exactly that way.

“Blessed are ye when men shall revile and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.”

 

Look at these Pickers!

PMMIt’s almost  the watermelon time of year in the deep south. You have just enough time to study through this book with your littles (and biggers, too) before you make all the applications at the end using the the ripe watermelon from your garden or market. I really tried to make this book count for something important in the lives of my grandchildren. I wanted its message about choosing wisely to go deep into their souls, especially when it comes the time for their choosing the spouses who will walk through life with them and who will very likely influence their eternal destinies. That’s just about the heaviest and most important “stuff” I can think of to be included in a book for kids, yet I still wanted it to be fun and memorable for them. I hope it is that.

But I also wanted to make it helpful for parents who want to spend daily time in the Word with their kids, but who never really had Family Bible Time modeled for them as they grew up. Lots of parents today tell me that they want to make this a daily ritual in their homes, but they just don’t know how. Picking Melons and Mates has a 21-day Family Bible Time guide to get you started–a simple plan for Bible time every day for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, you will be in the FBT habit and you will know how to continue on your own. I also tried to include something for kids from about age three or four all the way up into the teen years. I know that lots of you already are doing a much better and more creative job of FBT than I could ever have done. For you, I hope it’s just another useful little tool.

It made my day recently to be tagged in a post from a dear family in Michigan, as they were doing one of the most fun parts of the Picking Melons experience. Here they are. This is (L-R) Joel, Amos and Malachi Richardson.13323322_10154208342869715_7819799317723964331_o

They made me smile. I think God smiles, too, on parents who are diligently preparing children for choices that will make heaven a reality for them one day.  If those who cause little people to stumble would be better off with a millstone around their necks and thrown into the sea (Matthew 18:6), then surely moms, like Brittany Richardson, who are doing all they can to prevent that stumbling will find a converse reward. I think that’s what I Timothy 2:15  is all about. I believe it’s surely also one of the ways we “receive one of these little ones” in the name of Jesus. This reward of receiving Jesus is specifically mentioned as the converse of causing the little ones to stumble in Matthew 18:5. When we do that (receive the little ones), we receive the Lord, Himself. As parents and grandparents, are we receiving the Lord?

Picking Melons, of course, is just one tiny tool to help our kids make choices toward the throne for eternity. But  whatever the chosen building tools, the Word is the foundation and source of all wisdom for decision making. We’ve got to be in the Word with our kids!

The Makings of a Scam

UnknownWhat makes a scam, a scam?  Is it the fact that there are multiple attempts to get you to buy into the pyramid or project? Is it the fact that there is a reward offered for those who buy in? Is it the fact that there’s an investment to be made to buy in? No. None of these things make a proposition a scam? What makes it a scam is that there is a FALSE claim. It’s the lie that makes a scam, a scam. 

The Bible repeats its plea for you and me to come to Christ. It offers a huge reward for those who “buy in”. It requires a large investment of time and resources for those who are involved. But it’s only a scam if its claims are not true. 

The Word of God makes some pretty big claims for Itself. In just this one chapter, Psalm 119, it claims all of the following attributes and more.  May I suggest to you that it is either every whit true, 100% inspired and accurate OR it is the biggest scam in history. You see, the bigger the claim, the bigger the scam…UNLESS, of course, the claims are all true. If the Bible is not God-breathed truth, it’s not a good book, but a lie.  If it is not THE truth…If it is not the message of salvation it is not a helpful volume. It’s a lie. It’s either all I need or it’s the largest duping imaginable. 

It’s all of this to me (from Psalm 119):

vs. 9—the way that a young man cleanses his way

vs. 10—the commandments of God, 

vs. 11-the antidote for sin

vs18—full of wondrous things

vs. 29—law 

vs. 30—way of truth

vs. 36—keep me from covetousness

vs. 39—good

vs. 45—gives liberty

vs. 49—hope

vs. 50 —comfort in affliction

vs. 54—song while we are pilgrims

vs. 72—better than thousands of gold and silver

vs.73—learning it is the reason God made us

vs. 80—keeps me from shame

vs. 85—keeps me from pride

vs. 89—settled forever

vs. 104—how I get understanding

vs. 105—lamp to my feet and a light to my path

vs. 111-source of my joy

vs. 128—right

vs. 129—wonderful

vs. 130—gives understanding to uneducated

vs. 133—keeps me from sinful addictions

vs. 137—upright

vs. 138—very faithful

vs. 140—very pure

vs. 142—THE truth

vs. 155—contains salvation

vs. 165—gives great peace

vs. 175—helps me.

What is the Bible to you? Have you examined the evidence behind its claims? Contact us at The Colley House if we can help. The claims are too large to ignore.