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Marriage

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: That Night of Adultery…So Stealthily it Comes and Goes

o-ADULTERY-facebook-3What was about to happen to David and Bathsheba in II Samuel 11 is very “Hollywood-ish”. In fact, Hollywood or Broadway would have had a heyday with Bathsheba’s bath time. It has everything that makes for the “R” rating (nudity, passion, adultery, and pregnancy by the wrong man) and yet they truly were “in love.” Lines like “The passion was bigger than both of them,” or “They just could not fight the feeling any more,” or “David had spent his lifetime running from Saul. He refused to run from his own desires,” would have been the trailer captions if Hollywood were doing the story.  But the Holy Spirit handles sin much differently than does Hollywood.

David had been called by God  the “man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). There were times when he surely had been given the chance to kill his arch enemy, King Saul, but he so deeply respected God and His anointed, that he could  not smite the King (1 Samuel 23:14-24:22; 26). He had shown bravery, wisdom and kindness on multiple occasions. When it came to women, however, David surely thought he knew better than God. So many men (and women) today can handle most any temptation except the sexual one.

In Deuteronomy 17:16-20, God had, interestingly and prophetically regulated the throne of Israel, even before they had asked for a king. Notice this regulation:

But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’  Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.  “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites.  And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

But David had taken lots of wives and concubines, already (II Samuel 5:13). Certainly David’s copy of the law was not arresting his attention that night as he looked down from the palace roof and saw the beautiful Bathsheba as she bathed. The king for which the people had clamored to “ “go out before us and fight our battles” (I Samuel  8:20) was home during the battle and up on the palace rooftop looking at a beautiful woman as she bathed. This combination of failures was to be the huge blot on the record of David. This is the night that became his undoing in many successive and pivotal ventures. Lust, adultery, deceit, betrayal, making accomplices of subordinates, and murder followed each other in rapid succession in David’s mind, will and actions. His bedchamber must have turned into a dark, sleepless and torturous room of guilt, rationalization and plotting.  In fact, Scripture tells us in retrospect that the Bathsheba incident was the one time that David turned from following the commands of the Lord (I Kings 15:5). He should have had all of his defenses in place. But on that night, when his armies were succeeding, his personal, spiritual battle was lost as he looked from the roof and saw Bathsheba bathing.

It was a huge departure. How many times in later life must David have wished his distance vision had not been quite so good? Maybe he wished his spiritual distance vision had been a bit better!  How many times did he later wish he’d been out on the battle lines that night with his men as their active commander-in-chief? Sometimes large regret is born when we are in the wrong place, even for a short time.  Two people were in the wrong place on this particular evening.

Defenses are important. Prevention of opportunity…denial of tempting places and situations IS the best defense against adultery. David could have asked the question Joseph asked “…thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). But he didn’t take the time to ponder the impending damage to the one to  whom Bathsheba belonged, that the message he was about to send was wicked, that its intended result was great wickedness, and that His sin would also be against the God who had faithfully delivered him on numerous occasions.  One night, one bath, one leisurely rooftop stroll , one message, one response, one tryst…all likely occurring in just a few hours…and the pain of Psalm 51 tells the rest of the story:

 

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment. (vs. 3-4)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Questions and Answers–Marital Insecurity?

imagesTonight, when I sat down to write, I had several messages in my inboxes that needed responses. One was from a young wife in a far-away place who has begun to lack the confidence she needs to feel like she’s “good enough” to be in her husband’s circle of friends or to be at his level of competence. She even has feelings of jealousy toward another woman, who actually is not a threat to her marriage; more like a small part of her husband’s life before marriage. She knows that her husband is a good man, but still, she’s struggling with being what she wants to be in her attitudes toward him. She asked for my advice. Now I know I do not have all the answers and we all struggle at times with insecurities, but perhaps this post, even to an anonymous writer, can help someone else who’s feeling not-quite-good-enough in a marriage that’s good, but can, like almost all of our marriages, be even better with a little work. The irony of an imaginary threat is that, given the expanse of mind to grow, the perception, though false, can cause some real pain. Let’s be careful not to cut each other with imaginary knives.

Here’s the response:

Of course, you are all he wants. You are beautiful and, just from the short time I observed you, I know you are funny and the center of his attentions. I am so glad he made the decision to become a Christian and I am so thankful that you both want the marriage to be a God-directed union. That is the way you can spend eternity together. 

From what you have told me, I do not believe you have any threat to your marriage to worry about at all. The threat is only inside of you. Here’s my advice: 

As your husband is a new Christian and growing in the Lord, he will become less and less impressed with people who are worldly and more and more enamored with the beauty of holiness. I would like to see you put all of your efforts into being the kind of woman who wants, with all her heart, to follow the Lord. Tell him that is what you want for your marriage; to grow in the Word together and be all you can be, as a couple, for the Lord. 

Then, let me send you a copy of our marriage book, “You’re Singing My Song”. Ask him if he will commit to reading a short bit of it each night together…just a page or two. It will draw you closer  together and I believe it will strengthen your sense of intimacy with him…to know that you are the woman who is in the most intimate circle that he has. 

Then, I want you to intentionally grow past this. You believe that the only threat is inside your imagination. I do, too. SO realize that your life is short and that you would not want to be treated this way if the shoe was on the other foot. Follow the golden rule and treat him the way you would like to be treated. In fact, when those feelings of insecurity rise to the surface, MAKE yourself do something your husband really loves…a back rub, a note on his bathroom mirror, a meal that he loves….whatever he likes…INSTEAD of confronting him about what he might be thinking. You will be surprised how this will draw him to you and you will grow in your confidence. 

I believe your husband wants to be a man of God. You are so blessed in this way. Praying for you! Now, to what address can I send this book?

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: For 32 Years I Prayed

Version 2It’s a few minutes past midnight on the morning of my son’s wedding day. In a few more hours he will be a married man. Tonight at the rehearsal dinner I got to hear our daughter, Hannah, reminisce about their childhood in our home and it was the best time a mother can have at supper. Then I got to hear Caleb play and sing a song he’d written for Rebekah.  Magical moments you’d like to extend. But they pass. And prayers answered make new paths and progress toward the goal. Below are two poems…the first, a prayer, written when Caleb was very young. The second is all about the prayer’s answer. It was written yesterday. God always hears us and he always answers. We, as His children, get to simply live out the answers to prayers. How blessed we are to know our lives are under the Romans 8:28 umbrella! Here. For Caleb and for God’s answer for his life, Rebekah.

God Bless my Baby

God, give him strength as he enters our lives.

Give us wisdom as parents as each of us strives

To make for him places in our world to grow.

Teach us Lord. We’re so small.  There’s so much we don’t know.

God bless him as he to your wonders awakes.

Bless him, dear Lord, when his first steps he takes.

He’s so small.  May his scratches and bruises be small.

May my kiss make it better each time he may fall.

Help him to learn, Lord, just what he should know

To take him in life where you want him to go.

But in all of this learning, may he never forget.

The One who has made him and walks with Him yet.

Give him courage when Satan first gets in His way.

May he stay near your word. May he fall down and pray.

May he put on you Lord.  That’s my most fervent prayer;

And for all of his days cast on you every care.

When the time comes, Oh God, that he must go away,

Help us to let go; but still hear us pray.

God, bless our baby.  Look down from your throne.

Watch over him gently, for still he’s our own.

Give him shelter, dear Lord, from this world’s raging storm,

In a place where your love shines; a place that is warm.

Give him people to help him keep you in his life.

Give him one of your daughters, oh God, for his wife.

And one day may they know the joy I now feel,

Of a life yet unborn, but so precious and real.

May something I give him while still he is mine,

Make him know that all life, even unborn, is thine.

So Father, my prayer is for a life you’re now giving;

And, yes, for a soul that will always be living.

My task is so great.  I’m so small.  Help me see

That through Christ I can do it, for He strengthens me.

cc

 

The Answer

God is so good to your parents tonight

He’s  answered the details of prayer.

It wasn’t our wisdom, but Providence

Not our work, but His steady care.

 

He gave you the songs you’ve been singing

He gave you the voice that you raise

He gave you the music that’s deep in your soul

And the skill to lead Christians in praise.

.

You’ve excelled in conviction and conscience.

You’re courageous, yet kind and forbearing.

Confident in truth, introspective,

Consistent, hard-working, and caring.

 

He’s answered our prayer for His daughter, too.

More completely than parents could plead.

Immeasurably more than we ask or think.

She’s everything He knows you need.

 

So we thank our Father each night for her;

For the path that brought her to your life.

For her honor, her humor, her love for our Lord

And that she said, “yes”…she’d be your wife.

 

So you both can go ahead and start praying now

For the sons who will fill up your lives.

For their safety in coming, their bruises and scrapes

For the ones who will raise up their wives.

 

And, Son, pray for daughters, for you know how to teach

A little boy to be the best kind of brother.

She’ll be holy and His and so pretty, to boot…

She’ll grow up to be just like her mother.

 

When the years and the tasks loomed so large, Son,

We prayed for this hour in your life.

We prayed that your heart and your hands would be strong

When they first held the heart of your wife.

 

And all through the years, Son, you’ve taught us.

But the greatest thing you helped us see

Was the extreme sacrifice of the Father

To give His one Son on a tree.

 

We know that He brought you together

That the Father is writing your story.

So glad for this moment when you’ll vow to give

Him a lifetime…as one…for His glory.

cc

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Do You Phub?

images-17A neologism, by definition, is a newly invented word and one of the newest terms emerging this week in English is “phubbing”. To phub (from two words: “phone and snub”) is to give attention to your phone when you should be paying attention to a significant other…say, maybe your husband. To “phub up” a relationship is to damage or destroy it due to ignoring important aspects like conversation while you scroll or communicate with others via that hand-held device.

We do this, don’t we? I know I am guilty of phubbing at times. A study at Baylor University recently revealed that phubbing is a significant cause of unhappiness in marriages and sometimes leads to bigger breaches of intimacy and to significant problems in relationships (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/10/02/phubbing-ruining-relationships-study-says/.

As I was talking this weekend to women about treasuring the sisterhood, I first thought about this neologism in regard to our sisters. Do we sometimes get so “into” the superficial relationships with people we almost never see and hardly know that we neglect to capitalize on the times we could be spending with our local sisters? I don’t know, but it would be a shameif we let that happen. While it’s wonderful that technology has broadened our fellowship in some ways that make it possible to encourage sisters in other countries, it would be sad to be encouraging to sisters in distant places while hardly knowing those with whom we regularly worship. I want to be careful to treasure relationships with sisters with whom I share local activities and local evangelistic efforts.

But as I think further, the ultimate tragedy would be if a person phubbed God. Is that possible? Can a person spend inordinate amounts of time phone trolling, Facebook scrolling, skyping and chatting with “friends” while failing to communicate and develop a relationship with God?  I think so and I think many people do.  Are there practical steps I can take to be sure I don’t let devices subtly take the time and interest that I should be giving to God?  Can I even disrespect God by slighting my husband while communicating with others via phone? I’ve been thinking about this and here are a few things I want to incorporate into my personal habits to make sure that I never inadvertently give God (or His delegated authority in my life) the leftovers of my communication time.

  1. When God is talking to me (i.e I am reading my Bible or listening to teaching), I will attempt to have my phone silenced or at least ignore any calls that are not emergencies, no matter where I may be.
  2. When I am talking to God, I will not allow my phone to interrupt that prayer time.
  3. I will reserve time for study and prayer every day as a priority over time spent on devices.
  4. I will not look at my phone during mealtimes with my husband, who is the one I am to reverence (Eph. 5:33).
  5. I will not text others while Glenn is speaking to me.
  6. I will not be on Facebook when my husband prefers that I be doing something else with him.  This  would be next to impossible for some women I know who are very much addicted to Facebook  or Twitter or Instagram. It may prove to be harder for me than I think. It’s my challenge for the coming days. I don’t want to be a phubber! (It’s funny….The term is so new that “phubber” autocorrects to “chubbier”. I don’t really want to be that either!)
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Just Daddy

The father about whom this poem was originally written is a grandfather now. Being involved in a grandson’s life is a wonderful reward for the time you put in as a parent. I ran across this poem tonight and, since it is almost PTP time (http://www.polishingthepulpit.com), and since I have to speak a bunch of times on that great program,  it’s an excellent time to run something written long ago. Here’s to a new and wonderful generation…starting with little Ezra…who is already watching the patriarch live for God!

Just Daddy

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He’s always there for the big times…

Recitals, big games, spelling bees;

He’s so busy down at the office,

But still he can make time for these.

But I think it’s the quiet “at home” times

That mean most to the children and me;

Times when the preacher’s just “Daddy”…

The daddy no one else will see.

Dad, who shoots ball, pets kittens and laughs

At jokes he’s heard over again;

Who pops corn for movies, builds toys in his shop,

Plays monopoly, but lets Mama win.

He stands up and cheers for them, kneels down and prays for them,

Listens, laughs, loves and forgives;

While  listening to lessons he tells them of life

They’re learning the way that he lives.

Cindy Colley

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Figuring Out Godliness–Part 2

Do You Have Your Act Together?

1010949_10151997487112802_498003468_nThe second indicator of what’s on the inside is what I’m doing on the outside. The passage says Christian women are not to be distinguished by flashy or immodest clothing and/or jewelry. But Paul doesn’t just leave us hanging. He gives us the flip side of the coin; the positive side: do be distinguished by the good works you do.  He says if you’re making the assertion that you are a Christian, do what women who profess godliness do: get busy doing good things!

I am amazed at the potential of the young women I meet as I go about and speak for ladies days and teen girls’ days. Often I find you, teen girls, more responsive to the teachings of Scripture than your older sisters in Christ. You have tender hearts. Almost always you are more creative in the use of resources. You blow me away with your talents and willingness to use them. You are tech savvy and artistic. You have much to offer the church and you are unwilling to bury your talents. Most of these areas of service are great opportunities for both men and women. Take the time to examine each of them and see if there are ideas that can be used by both guys and girls.

  1. Teen girls are putting together some of the most amazing Saturday programs for girls in their communities. These days typically include singing praises, a speaker on themes of purity, evangelism and/or service, games, a question and answer session and a meal.  I’ve seen themes like “It’s a Jungle Out There” (I Peter 5:8), and “Whatever!”(Phil.4:8). Talented decorators, cooks, and song-leaders, all under 21, put these programs together and bring their non-Christian friends. They are making a difference.
  2. Many of you are in group studies using a book called GIFTS, available from the Lads to Leaders office. I’ve known girls in several areas who’ve carried this book to school with them. Someone on the bus or in study hall is interested in the book. So a Christian girl invites a non-Christian girl over to study GIFTS on Thursday nights. Girls are learning the gospel through these private studies and some are becoming Christians.  The GUARD study for you guys can be used in the same way.
  3. Some of you are using your computers to spread the gospel. I heard of one Lads to Leaders debate group that used Instant Messenger to prepare as they studied their defense of the gospel. I know of one girl who had a lengthy study with a non-Christian friend on the subject of baptism via Instant Messenger. I know many of you use your Facebook pages to let each other know you are praying during the difficult times and to send each other encouraging passages of scripture. You use your word processors to make banners for hospital rooms and cards for sick people.  You correspond with missionaries and prospective converts you’ve met while on mission trips. You avoid the destructive chat rooms and readily available internet temptations and, instead, use your computer for good works.
  4. I have a friend who is a freshman on a state university campus. He started a weekly devotional in his dorm room on Wednesday nights after worship. To date, he has taught and baptized ten friends. This kind of devotional evangelism can happen with girls, too.
  5. Some of the most creative kids’ bible classes I’ve seen are taught by teens. Some of the most eye-catching bulletin boards are constructed by teens. This week I’m preparing an adventure center for our local Family Bible Week. Everyone on my team, except me, is college age and below. We are making a Treasure Island where children learn that real treasures are the ones we lay up in heaven and the treasure map is the Word of God. The lesson was written by a college student.
  6. Some of the most effective teachers on the mission fields are teens. I’m thinking right now of one teen girl who insisted on climbing a mountain in Jamaica to get to one lone house on the top of the steep incline. Other team members were older and lacked the energy to make the tough climb in the heat. Greeted by a sixteen year old native, this young teen girl set up a Bible study. At the end of the week, the girl was baptized.  She, in turn, brought a close friend to the Lord and that friend has now brought five people to the Lord. It wasn’t the seasoned preachers who made that little Jamaican church grow. It was the sixteen year old novice.
  7. I see local groups of young people tirelessly conducting worship services at nursing homes, raking leaves and painting houses for the elderly, doing laundry for new mothers, washing baptismal robes, cleaning up after fellowship meals, providing transportation to services and a myriad of other tasks that might seem menial to their peers. Some people may ask, “What’s so special about these teens? Why are they okay with doing the dirty work?”  Something tells me it’s that they understand what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40: “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” They understand good works.
  8. I see young people who are just naturally hospitable. I would be hard pressed to even estimate how many families have moved into our area and chosen to become a part of our congregation because our teens just enveloped their children, making them feel welcome and very much a part of the family that meets together here. Oh there may have been other factors, but parents very often tell me the deciding factor was the friendliness of our teens. Can you find someone who is new; someone who may be sitting alone and invite them to come and sit with you and the other teens.
  9. I receive lots of cards of encouragement from women of various ages. Sometimes I receive a card that is such a blessing to me that I want to keep it forever. Many of the cards that have encouraged me immeasurably are those I have received from teen girls who tell me that I have made some difference in their lives. These cards make me want to be better, try harder and seek the kingdom first. Is there someone who is making a difference in your life? Take a few minutes to pen a note of thanks. Some of you are masters of expression. Use those writing talents to build up the body. Some of you are good in the kitchen. Make those muffins to carry to Sister Smith who is convalescing or to Jenny, who broke her arm in yesterday’s soccer game. Some of you are talented sketchers. Make your own cards and gifts for widows or college students or deployed soldiers. Some of you are great readers. Share thirty minutes each week with an older woman whose sight is failing her, reading the Scriptures or something she wants to hear. Some of you are great actors. Plan a widows’ luncheon, serve your guests and then treat them to a skit produced and directed by teens. They will never forget this. It will be more fun than they’ve had all year! Our teens make up songs about our elderly people. They love to travel from house to house and carol; especially during the holidays, but any time of year. You don’t have to wait for programs and youth leaders to take the initiative. You can initiate good works.
  10. Most importantly, just get excited about spiritual things. The devil loves to make us believe that the real fun is in the temporal activities of this world. While it’s okay to enjoy fellowship in pure forms of entertainment, sports and fun activities, most teens are missing out on the lasting joy that comes from service. Be enthusiastic about Bible class. Get excited about building the kingdom. Try your hand at evangelism (maybe starting out by going with your youth minister or an older Christian to a study). Make it your habit to always say “yes” whenever asked to do anything for the Lord’s church. My children both testify that this “yes” rule was a big key to the development of their talents for the Master.

One more thing about good works for girls: No discussion of this subject would be complete without at least a brief look at Titus 2:4, 5. This passage is compelling as it relates to the place of women in the body. It encapsulates the most important role you as God’s woman will ever have on this earth. It actually says that women who fail to comply with this passage will cause the Word of God to be blasphemed. Guys, whatever you hope to find in the woman you will one day marry, find someone who is working on the list below. Girls, whatever else you do in this life, may I encourage you to be sure you are developing your talents and skills to be:

  1. A lover of your husband. Decide now to find a faithful Christian with whom you can share the goal of eternal life with God and plan to be his helper toward heaven.
  2. A lover of your children. If and when God blesses you with children, realize that he has placed in your charge little souls that will exist forever. They will look to you for guidance. You will influence their destinies.
  3. Discreet. The word here means self-controlled. It means deciding that you will put your will under His Will in all of life.
  4. Chaste. This word means modest and innocent. Make early choices to guard your thoughts and life from the sins of the devil.  Live every day so that you can bow before God’s throne and pray, knowing your relationship with Him is secure.
  5. A homemaker. Whatever vocation you may choose, remember God’s plan for your life, at least while your children are at home (these verses are addressed to the younger women), is for you to be a homemaker.
  6. Good.
  7. Obedient to your husband. While politically incorrect in our world, be sure you never lose your resolve to do marriage God’s way.