Dissenters Briskly Removed!

It is one of the hallmark traits of liberal thinking when a view is stated and, in the stating of it, there is an automatic preclusion of any disagreement or dissenting idea by others . Examples are everywhere you look, particularly in the writings and conversation of millennials:

On Facebook: “Feel free to comment, but negative remarks will be briskly deleted.”

On Twitter: “No time for haters.”  (Of course, often a “hater” is a person who expresses disagreement with a premise or application of such.)

In a letter: “Those who are characterized by fragility will feel compelled to be defensive about this…” 

On the phone: “You just haven’t come to understand this issue yet and so we cannot have a dialog.” 

All of these, as you can see, are different ways to say “You cannot have input in this conversation because you do not agree with me.” Interestingly enough, the very view being expressed, with which folks are not allowed to disagree, is most often an espousal made in the name of “tolerance.”

Very often today, the people for whom there is not time or space for comment are those who are  in a different age group, particularly those who are older—who have lived a bit longer than millennials.

Don’t get me wrong. I think those in their twenties and thirties who are attempting to contribute to conversations about political, ethical, social, and spiritual issues are often bright and well-informed. I think ideas emerging are often fresh and innovative. I can learn a lot from them IF the perspective is one of honesty, humility and objectivity. It’s the preclusion—the foregone conclusion that one has arrived at truth and dissenters will be “removed and blocked”…therein lies the problem. 

I’ve thought about Titus 2 a lot lately when reading millennial writers. If older men are to teach younger men in the Lord’s body…if older women are to teach younger women ( and that’s the acceptable scenario to prevent blasphemy of the Word)….I say, if these commanded conversations about relationships and daily Christian living are going to occur, the younger heart has to be malleable, kind, gentle and inquiring. The “all dissenters will be deleted” prohibition is not in Titus 2. In fact it’s not in the description of what is good:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8).

I pray that Titus 2 scenarios can be plentiful and blessed in the kingdom today. I certainly do not have all the answers now, but I surely am thankful for some older women who helped me figure out some very important things when I was younger. In fact, I’m thankful for some sixty, seventy, and eighty-somethings who are still helping this fifty-something figure things out.  

That’s my view for today. All dissenters welcome!

Resolution: Don’t Be Part of the 92 Percent!

As I write it’s only a couple of hours till the dawn of 2017. The ball will drop in Times Square. If the rain lets up, fireworks will pop in my neighborhood. Alcohol will be consumed in extreme amounts in bars all over town. And Christians will prepare for worship tomorrow, just the same as we do every Saturday night. Forty-five percent of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution that’s destined to be broken by 92 percent of those who’ve made a New Year’s vow. Here are five resolution tips that I’ve learned the hard way after about 40 years of making New Year’s resolutions:

  1. One resolution, for people who are already trying to follow God’s plan through life, is generally better than a list. It’s easier to remember  and it makes for better focus on the improvement you want to make. We tend to forget the list when it’s too long or we throw in the towel on the whole of the resolve when one component of several is broken. 
  2. Make sure your resolution is very specific and measurable. “I want to be a better wife” is not as good as “I want to refrain from speaking back a second time in a situation of conflict. After I’ve let him know my opinion, I will defer to His leadership.”  “I want to study more” is not as good as “I will study on Monday-Friday from 6:00 am till 6:30 am, beginning each study session with prayer and studying the Digging Deep material.”   “I want to be evangelistic” is not as good as “I will ask one person per week to attend worship with me or to have a personal Bible study with me.” If it’s not something  you can sort of mentally check off, progress is hard to see. When progress is hard to see, it’s discouraging. 
  3. Write down your resolution and post where you will see it every day.
  4. Pray daily about this specific resolution. 
  5. Tell someone whom  you respect about your resolution, when feasible. This adds resolve and accountability.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Finally, I’ve been listening to I Samuel while driving and it occurred to me as I was listening to the account of the fall of Saul, that resolve’s best friend is humility. Saul kept promising over and over to leave David alone; to stop trying to kill him. But over and over, he became so enamored with himself, trying to preserve his prestige, that he lost his good resolve. When I think I’m an expert, above sinking, or self-sufficient, I head into waters that are above my head every time. It’s when I’m constantly afraid of messing up…it’s when I have  a healthy lack of self-esteem and an even healthier Christ-esteem, that I am more protective of my purity and more serious about sanctification. It’s when I’m keenly aware of my shortcomings and my need for mercy that I want to extend His grace, through evangelism, to others. I am just tethered to good resolve by the realization that I am needy before God; that there’s obvious room for improvement. Resolve is anchored in “taking heed.”  “Let every one who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10:12). Happy New Year! 

Coconut Oil for MY Pantry

Coconut-Oil-WebClearly, I was distracted. I’m not sure you can be clearly distracted, but I was…let’s say…strung out. I had Ezra, my 17-month-old grandson with me, so that’s automatic happiness and automatic craziness. I was headed to an out-of-town meeting with some folks. Glenn was driving me in a horrific rainstorm and so I was looking at my iPhone; reading some email and Facebook prayer requests and requests for counsel about some marriage issues. The house I’d left behind had laundry all over the hall floor and toy trucks and helicopters and mermaids and crumbs everywhere. All over the bedroom floor was unpacked luggage from earlier trips. There was unread mail and unpacked shopping items on the counter (Wish that was all that was on the counter.) It had been a day for squeezing in stuff I did not expect. In fact, I had done a few of those kinds of days back to back.

Earlier in the week, my sisters and I had made a firm decision to inject coconut oil into the food at my dad’s house to boost his short-term memory abilities. We’d read amazing things in places like this—http://www.naturalnews.com/039811_coconut_Alzheimers_dementia.html. Although we know you can’t believe everything  you read on the internet, we thought “What can it hurt?”  We’d also been trying to figure out how we were going to juggle things during the upcoming week of the gospel meeting where my Dad worships, which, coincidentally, occurs at the same time as our own gospel meeting at West Huntsville. He would need help with things like getting his dishes to the fellowship hall, parking, etc…so we were all about making a plan for that week.

Well, somehow, in the frantic fray of the afternoon, I got confused about the date of the gospel meeting at Jacksonville. So I proceeded to make my daily afternoon check-in call to Dad:

Me: “Hey, Dad. How are you doing?”

Dad: “Pretty good. How are you?”

Me: “We’re good. Are you getting ready for church?”

Dad: For church? This is not Sunday, is it?”

Me: No, but Dad, did you forget? It’s your gospel meeting!”

Dad: “To tell the truth, I guess I did forget. I better get up and get my socks on and go to that. I guess it’s at seven?”

Me: “Yes. It’s at seven. You still have time, But I’m worried about you. You do not remember going to the meeting yesterday?”

Dad: “No, I can’t really remember that, but, I’ll get ready and go. I’m glad you called me because I was going to forget all about that.”

So then, of course, I contacted Sami, my sister who had just left his house. No answer. I tried her husband…her son. No response. Finally I left a message on Sami’s phone…”Dad did not even remember that the gospel meeting was happening this week. Did you figure out someone to help him with the fellowship meals and the driving? Let me hear when you get a chance. Love you.”

A few minutes later, I got a call from Sami.

Sami: “Hey…but the meeting is not this week. Remember? It’s the first week in March?”

Me: “Oh dear. You are right. I have to go right now. Bye.”

Of course, I immediately called my Dad, who was hurrying, as much as a nonagenarian hurries, to try and get there by seven. Bless him. He was going to brave the storm to get to an evangelistic effort that I just thought was happening at the Jacksonville church of Christ. On learning that I was the one with the mental glitch, he said “Well, I didn’t think there was a meeting going on, but I took your word for it. Thank you for calling me back. I think I’ll go back to bed, roll back over and go back to sleep.”

Four lessons learned (or at least temporarily cognitively stored in short-term memory):

  1. When you truly trust someone, you just put aside everything you were thinking and go with the trusted individual . That’s, unfortunately, what my dad did. He trusted me. That was not the right thing to do, because I’m obviously fallible (and crazy). But that’s how we are with the heavenly Father if we really trust him, and it is the right thing to do.  We’re willing to ditch our own plans and do life His way.
  2. Love your sisters. It’s a group effort to successfully serve your father on earth. It is certainly a group effort to serve the heavenly Father. You need your sisters. They’ll help you keep life straight. Thank God for them every day.
  3. Focus on the Father. Sometimes things…even important things…can make you lose your focus and get mixed up about what’s going on with the most important relationship..the one with the Father.
  4. Don’t be trying to get the speck out of someone else’s eye when the beam is in your own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). That’s exactly what I was doing…going nuts over the fact that my dad was forgetting important things when it was actually me who was forgetting. Sometimes I do that with sin. The sin that drives me crazy in the lives of others is the very sin with which I struggle or even to which I fall. Keep trying to help others overcome sin, but be sure you always have the humility and focus to look inwardly while you’re helping others (Galatians 6:1)….

Maybe you need to get the coconut oil for your own pantry. It is going on my grocery list for my own pantry…today! If it doesn’t work, I hope you’ll visit me at the home.

Magnify Him!

As you read today, I am in West Palm Beach, Florida. It’s an extreme privilege to be able to address women from some 15 congregations in South Florida about the Lord of Lords. As I prepare this topic, a big obstacle to my preparation keeps resurfacing. How can I, a weak mortal, sin-laden woman expect to comprehend, much less convey the magnificence of the Lord of Lords?

When you magnify print, you make it larger to your eye. You have to get that glass just right for your line of vision or the glass does no good at all. Sometimes people desperately need the Lord. But he is not always clearly visible to them as the answer they need. We, as Christians, sometimes are the glass. We serve to enlarge the Lord to them. We make His all sufficiency clearer to them. We project His image in the boldest print. We just magnify Him to those around us.

Psalm 69:30 says I can magnify God with thanksgiving. Do I show others His greatness by constantly expressing my gratitude to Him and others around me for His mercies? Job 36:24 says we magnify Him because of His work which men behold. When we comment to others about the beautiful full moon, the rainbow, the dogwoods, the storm, the snow or the deer, do we mention the greatness of their Designer? Ezekiel 38:23 talks about the magnificence of God in a context of the fierceness of his judgment. Do I ever even speak about the judgment of God? This characteristic must be enlarged in our culture in which God’s grace is often magnified to the exclusion of the impending judgment. His grace is relevant (needed) only because of the judgment over which his mercy triumphs (James 2:13).

You get the point. The characteristics of God are righteous altogether.  They are unchanging and they are what make God…God. But we are the magnifiers. We are the enlargers. While we do not enlarge the Lord of Lords Himself, for He is the fullness of Him who fills all in all, we can magnify or enlarge Him in the sight of unbelievers. The print on the page remains the same size, but the glass makes it look big to the reader. People see God through us. We can, even in our weakness,  cause them to see the perfection of God that they might otherwise overlook. In the process, we may bring them along to heaven with us.

A Tale of Two Preachers

I just experienced the most unsettling phenomenon. I have never done this before, but I quite accidentally listened to two different preachers as they preached the same outline. Both of the sermons have been distributed on CD. Both of the sermons were very Biblical. The content was pretty much the same. The passages cited were almost identical. But they were still vastly different.

I know. You are wondering how they could be different. So was I. When I realized I was listening to the same message I had already heard from another preacher very recently, I thought I probably needed to just skip this CD and move to something fresh. But then I had to keep listening, because this rendition was miles apart—not in meaning, clarity, or theological soundness; but in tone– from the first edition.

One speaker was calm, yet resolved in his intonation, while the other was fast and furious and hyper; almost screeching, at times. One speaker was respectful of those he might be engaging who were from a different background. The other spoke in a “what-are-you-thinking sort of tone of voice. One began by expressing love to those of different religious backgrounds, while the other began by acknowledging the controversy in the topic. Both were very Biblical and clear messages. But the delivery of the first made me want to send it to my non-Christian friends. The delivery of the second made me hope they do not hear it.

Point for Cindy Colley? I want to be very careful as the vessel that’s so blessed to carry the gospel to ladies in many venues. Vessels are nothing but empty containers until they are filled with something (II Cor. 4:5-7). The “something” in me is THE good news. If the “something” in me were just good news about finances, fashion, medical treatments, or ecology, then it would not be so important what kind of vessel I am. But THE good news must not be carried in vessels that distract from the contents. May I never display harshness, ridicule, or condescension when I present the message. May my goal always be to save souls and never merely to win arguments. May my tone be clear and sound, yet always loving (Ephesians 4:15). May I always just get out of the way of the cross and let His grace teach people to live soberly righteously and godly (Titus 2:11,12). A couple of verses prior to this Titus 2 verse, servants are called to fidelity that they may “adorn the doctrine of Christ.” May I adorn the doctrine I teach. May I always teach the truth, but may I present that truth in a way that will make Christian sisters want to bring their non-Christian friends to hear His doctrine. At the end of the day, may people forget about me and remember about Him.

Many times, I have reminded myself that I do not want my children to obey me because I yell. I want them to obey me because I am “mama”. I was reminded of this maxim as I listened to this second CD today. I do not want women I teach to obey the Lord, becoming a part of His church, because I’m “yelling” that message. In fact, they will not. I want them to become a part of His church because they are lost outside of it.

Pleas and Thanksgiving

When I was small, my mother taught me to say the magic words: please and thank-you. I still believe in magic and I still believe these two words are the keys that unlock an alabaster box of blessings if we can formulate them with our lips as an accurate expression of our hearts’ sentiments.

Please is, of course, the word that we use to say that we are pleading. A child might use the word in frustration when she realizes she is not going to be granted her wish. She might repeat it over and over with increasing volume to create the effect of desperation in hopes of getting the desired commodity. As children of God, though, we should realize that every time God looks upon us with favor, we are unworthy even of that notice. We must be like the woman who came to Christ in Matthew 15, whose daughter was demon possessed. She, recognizing her totally undone condition, pleaded, “Have mercy on me, O Lord.” Realizing that her life was out of control as she literally fought the demons alone, she said, “Lord, help me.” Then we read her amazing statement about being but a dog under the master’s table and we marvel at her admission that, as a Gentile, she was undeserving of any gift from Jesus. But, in spite of the obstacles between her and the favor she requested, she kept pleading.

Pleading is all I can do before the throne. I am not, in any respect, worthy of even the audience. It’s mercy in the extreme that purchased my communication with the Lord. I am but a dog under the table. Pleas are the tones with which I approach Him, because to suggest that he should approve or prefer my voice based on any merit I could muster is ludicrous. Please–the begging kind of please–is the way I ask of Him. In spite of the obstacles (sin) between me and His favor, I keep pleading.

And when I get the please right, the thank-you comes naturally. I mean, if I really understand the lowly depths from which he lifted me, I cannot but be utterly grateful. It is my understanding of my circumstance without Him, that makes me appreciate my standing with Him. I must realize that of waste, desert and wilderness, God has made a garden, gladness, and melody. And I respond with thanksgiving.

For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody (Isa.51:3).