Sister to Sister: Guard the Perimeter

 

 

One evening recently I was visiting and enjoying sweet fellowship on the lawn of a church building in our area. It was almost dusk and cars were passing regularly on the highway several  feet away.  I had my grandson, Ezra, who is two years old with me that night, and he was having a good time running on the sidewalk, climbing the stairs and playing in the bushes. I noticed a frantic sister go and catch him when he neared the sidewalk that paralleled the highway. “Come back! Don’t go near the road,” she said as she ran to make sure he didn’t go in the street. I appreciated her care for Ezra.

That sister probably thought I was a negligent grandmother, letting Ezra play in that yard adjacent to the street. I appreciated her concern. The truth was that while, of course, I wanted Ezra to stay far from the highway, I really didn’t think he would go past that sidewalk. Earlier that day, I had experienced a very hard time convincing Ezra that it was okay for him to ride his scooter on our asphalt driveway…because he thought our driveway was a “woad”. Ezra doesn’t go near the street because his parents have trained him to keep a certain distance between himself and the road. 

We parents and grandparents do this. We give our children boundaries that keep them from danger. They know not only to keep out of the road, but to keep a prohibited space between themselves and the street. They know not to touch the fire, but also to stay back from it. Not to jump off the cliff, but also to stay back from its edge. We do not sit our young children down in front of a mixture of M&Ms and deadly drugs and let them pick out the M&Ms to eat. 

But do we do this spiritually? We fail to guard the perimeter of sin—the area that may still be out of the world, but is so close to its dangers that our children let their guards down. It’s the perimeter…the area all around the danger. It’s the places where the world backs right up to the church. It’s that area where the “ pleasure of sin” (Hebrews 11:25 ), allures the senses of our children but its stench can’t quite reach their noses. While we do not want our children to stop attending worship, do we give them our permission to miss it for a very hard test or a very “important” ballgame? (The root word “game” is operative. It’s a game.) We do not want our teens to commit fornication, but we let them “play” in the zone of temptation. We let them watch movies that glorify it. We let them go to dances that promote lust. We let them read books that normalize it and we let them dress immodestly to attract the attention of those of the opposite sex. We let them play very close to that street. We don’t want them to grow up to be gambling addicts, but, of course, we would never deny them the opportunity to participate in the raffle to raise money for their school. (One day the whole state lottery will be about “money for education”.) Do we not see the spiritual danger of allowing our kids to be casual around the perimeter of the world? …Of getting too close to the fire, too near to the street, or of letting them choose the M&Ms before they can distinguish the difference?

Every one of us has the roaring lion (I Peter 5:8) seeking and we may even have the devil sifting (Luke 22:31). His best efforts are expended on the young. His best chance to get your kids is around the edge of your spirituality. Oh that we, as parents, would be as diligent about those dangers as we are about the ones that can only harm our children in this lifetime. The devil’s street traffic can make your kids die eternally. Let’s make spiritual safety zones that make it safer for them. It’s just easier to keep them far from that street while they are young than to watch them venture out when we no longer get to set the perameters for them. 

Let’s guard the spiritual perimeters.


 

 

Q and A: Family Bible Time for Ages 6-12

Question: Okay, I have a couple of questions about Family Bible Time. I know how you would do a family night with the younger kids…but what about Ariel’s age 10 going on 16?  I guess if you could just give me examples of what you and Glenn did, that would be helpful.  Also, did you give a prize EVERY night or just sometimes?  I have given her candy if she recites 5-10 verses depending upon circumstances. I could see where we could play games while listening to Hannah’s 100 in the background – repetition does work it’s magic.  It makes me laugh because if I come across a passage that we’ve learned through your family, I sing it while I’m reading it 🙂

Answer: Well, for Ariel’s age, I think your reading Discovery and the Beginners Evidences Correspondence course from Apologetics Press (Apologeticspress.org) would be a good start at Bible time. if you read a section and talk about it and then have her fill in some of the questions (a very limited amount) or work a puzzle from discovery before the next night, that would be a start. Then I would recommend (for your husband’s benefit) studying “Headed to the Office” (colleybooks.org) as a family. You could tell Ariel that you were putting it in her head so that she could start knowing, even now, what kind of man she was going to look for in a husband one day. I think also, for her age, playing Bible Twenty Questions (let me know if you don’t know how to play Twenty Questions) would be a good thing…and Bible charades. (Don’t have a prize every night…maybe once every two weeks.) Have one night where you have found a faithful missionary to whom Ariel can compose a letter to ask questions about the culture and work and send her small contribution. Let her write for the Bible time. Have another night each week when you find a passage or Psalm about someone who was very grateful (the leper or Mary and Martha) and let her write thank you notes to all the people who have given her gifts or blessed her life in other ways. Have Digger Doug nights, where you watch an episode of Digger Dug’s Underground together (apologeticspress.org). Have a night where she reads aloud a chapter of Ruth from the Easy-to-Read version. Do this for four nights and then on the fifth and sixth nights, get her to make a flip chart (just use a school notebook) of pictures of the story. Then on the seventh night, let her tell you the story using her flip chart. One night have her go outside and pick a flower and then find what Jesus said about flowers in the Sermon on the Mount. One night let her tell you all the things salt is good for…look online. This lesson goes on and on. Then let her find what Jesus said about salt in the Sermon on the Mount. One night, let her find a Bible lands map of the Holy land online and print it off. Then on the following nights you can read through the missionary journeys of Paul in the book of Acts and let her draw the arrows and tiny pictures of what happened in these places as you read through his journeys. Light a candle in your dark house and read by candlelight what Jesus said about candles in the Sermon on the Mount. We also loved certain stories from “The Book of Virtues.” We would read a story out loud to the kids and then let them find verses that taught the same lesson from the Bible. When we studied Genesis together, we put a roll of white paper all around the wall of one of our rooms and each night we let the kids draw what we had read about that night, till we had a whole timeline of Genesis starting with creation and ending with Joseph’s family down in Goshen. Sometimes they would paste things on the time line, like a miniature “coat of many colors” they had cut out of striped fabric or kernels of corn to fill in the shape of a number 7 to signify Joseph’s solution about saving up the corn during the seven lean years. Tell Ariel to let me know when she can sing the whole book of James and I will send her something I want her to have. Be sure to video some of her memory work, so she will know you think it is very important.  Sometimes we just went around the room and quoted verses. You had to quote a verse that began with any word that was in the person’s verse who went directly before you. To make it competitive, sometimes we would challenge dad to quote a verse before or after any verse that we could quote. Sometimes we went through the books of the Bible and challenged each other to say one verse in each book. For sheer fun, we challenged each other to say all of the books of the Bible in one breath. One of us, who is particularly long-winded, can say them through twice in one breath. And, finally, some of our favorite nights were under the stars or in our little living room or in our van…just singing praises. We just went from one person to the next choosing the song…pretty much favorite times we remember. Every time we ended with prayer…still do.  This is a start. Let me know if you need more, but I’m pretty sure they will come to you naturally and you will quickly become a Deuteronomy 6 “all day long” mom. Much love to you and all moms who are molding hearts and lives for eternity!

P.S. There’s also a three week guide for Family Bible Time in the back of the book “Picking Melons and Mates” that’s great for jump-starting your daily time together. It’s an easy DIY kind of outline. You can get it here: http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Children/c/3290196/offset=0&sort=normal

 

Sister to Sister: Conversations about Malignancy

Here’s a snippet of the shocking conversation as I sat that Sunday morning on the second pew, as a visitor. The lady next to me, a member of that congregation,  a middle ager and with her husband, spoke very casually:

The lady: “Yes….My daughter lives in Little Rock with her husband.”

Me: “Well, How are they enjoying that area?”

The lady: “Well, I’m not sure. I think my daughter may not be well. She might have cancer.”

Me: “Well, is she going for treatment? Has she been diagnosed?”

The lady: You know I’m just not sure about her condition or what she is doing about it.  I’m not sure if she is going to see her physician or not. I don’t know what type of cancer she has or how large the tumor is.  I need to ask her again. We also have a son who may be sick, too. I just can’t remember what he said about his condition, either. Oh dear.  Honey, what is the name of that condition he has? Can you remember? (Looking over at her husband).

That was not exactly the conversation. But what would you think if it was?…That this mother was insane?… That she had been traumatized at some point, becoming cold and calloused about her own children?…That she was simply unfeeling and very different from the Christ we had all gathered to memorialize that Sunday? 

Here’s the real conversation:

The Lady: “Yes. Our daughter lives in Little Rock with her husband.” 

Me: “Well, where do they worship there?”

The Lady: “You know I am not sure. I can’t really recall what kind of church she said they are attending. I need to ask her again.

Me: (a little shocked). And you have more children?

The lady: Yes. Our son….He lives in Florida….Now he goes to some other church, too…I think he does. Oh, Honey, can you remember what kind of church he goes to?” …Oh…I’m trying to think…”

Just then the service began and I tried to pick my jaw up off the floor and frame my startled mind to worship the God of the Universe…the One who spoke the world into existence and yet knows how many hairs are on the head of this woman’s daughter….And He knows where that head is bowed on any given Sunday, if it is bowed at all. He knows if this woman’s son and daughter have a spiritual malignancy. He knows and offers the cure.  But until this woman becomes more keenly aware of the eternal urgency of the spiritual welfare of her children, she will never be helpful to them in battling the spiritual cancer.

I was a visitor. Granted, I do not know the ins and outs of the relationship this couple have with their children. I do not know how recently the conversion of this middle-aged couple occurred. I do not know if their children have had a chance to hear the pure good news. But I know that, if this woman is emotionally and mentally stable, and if she loves the Lord and His church, she will quickly grow into knowing about, caring for and sacrificing for sin’s cure for her children. She will be plugged in to the treatment plan and she will be offering them the resource that will save their spiritual lives. 

The difference between the cancer conversation and the one that really happened that morning? The first has to do with the speck in eternity that is our lives and the second has to do with the infinite remainder of eternity (and we really can’t even use the word “remainder” when we speak of infinite time. The remainder is still infinity.) The first has to do with a mortal body that houses the soul. The second is about the soul, itself—the essence of every human being. The souls of her children—who they are—is what this woman knew very little about. I pray that I may always know my children. 

The second conversation, the real one, is far and away–infinitely–more important.

 

  

Sister to Sister: Guest Writer–Pornography Hooks Girls, Too.

For about nine months, I’ve been in touch with this author every day; sometimes multiple times each day in our (our meaning her and me, but also and foremost, the ONE who gives us the victory) victorious effort to rid her very young life of pornography. She’s made lots of decisions and changes and has come up with great strategies to be all she can be, sans pornography, for our Lord. I know, from my own small circle, that there are others who could benefit from her advice. She’s smart about this. Here’s her message:

Sexual temptation is not just for men. I think all too often we are given the idea that only men struggle with sexual temptation, specifically that of pornography. We hear sermon after sermon about the dangers of pornography for men, and about how to counter and avoid it, and this is wonderful! But, what about the girls who struggle with this?
So many times I think when we talk about a girl’s purity we are thinking only in terms of her virginity. And, as important as that is, it also needs to be stressed that when a girl struggles with a a sexual temptation, a pornography addiction, or a masturbation addiction, she’s not the only one. Based on experience, and from things others have said to me personally, a lot of the time, when you tell someone about your struggle, their response may be “yeah, I struggled with that too”.  This has happened to me on more than one occasion. We shouldn’t be ashamed to tell other people and reach out for help. 
 
Luke 15:10 :

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

The shame was in the sin. There’s no shame in repentance. Sometimes I think the reason that girls hide their struggles with sexual temptations instead of reaching out is because they’ve never heard anything about a girl having this temptation. That misconception was my worst enemy in my struggle…. Who did I turn to that wouldn’t think I was perverted, or weird? Worst of all, would they make it public?… I thought things like… “What on earth is wrong with me? I shouldn’t like this!” and “How am I struggling with this? I’m a girl! This is a guy problem….” It took a long time for me to understand that there were a lot more girls than I thought who struggled with the same things.  And they were just as ashamed as I was. We shouldn’t let the shame of the sin keep us from reaching out for help. The people that I wanted to know–the ones I felt close to, but afraid to tell–weren’t disappointed in me. They were sad for me, but they were also proud because I was doing what I needed to do to get out of it. They treated me no differently than they had before.  The best thing that I could have possibly done would have been to tell someone the moment I saw those things and was interested, but I didn’t. I hid it, and hiding it fueled it. We should be reaching out to those struggling, and reaching when we personally struggle, and we should be praying for one another. 

James 5:16

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Why do we sometimes apply this verse only to the “easier” sins? Why, when we hear of the harder sins in someone’s life do we sometimes shrink back, thinking of them as perverted? All sin is sin in God’s eyes; none worse, none better… .I think we should apply this verse even more to the harder sins in our Christian family’s lives.

Some sins are harder than others to overcome, but none are impossible. Here are a few of the things that have helped me in my struggle…

1. Get an accountability partner.

I didn’t really know how to get away from pornography, how to take away all of the temptation. I’d tried several times to just promise myself I’d never do it again. I would stay clean for about a week and then I’d fall again. So I finally realized that by myself, with only my sister and myself knowing (and her thinking I was over it), I would never get over it. So I told someone else, thinking that having someone else know would make me not do it. And then came the questions… “When was the last time you did it? This year? This week? Since you’ve been here at PTP?” And, having affirmed the last of the three options I was asked to promise to contact that friend if I ever did it again. About a month later, I started to struggle with it again. I kept my promise, sent the ever dreaded email, and was asked to agree to her terms of accountability. I was lucky. I was offered accountability and wouldn’t have thought to ask for it. I didn’t even know what it was, really. I knew it was for those who struggled with things like pornography, but I had never needed to know about that…. After all, I wasn’t ever going to do those things, right? Make sure you ask someone you respect to help you and keep you accountable. This will be your biggest help, and that person will likely be your biggest cheerleader. 

2. Covenant Eyes (or a similar program to monitor and report).

“Why do I need Covenant Eyes? I’m not going to do anything bad on my laptop. Don’t you trust me?” This one really hits home for me. While I’d have never have had the nerve to say it, I can surely remember thinking it. I hated the idea of something on my laptop that recorded and recounted to my parents everything that I did on my computer. Not because I had, at that time, any intention or desire to look at sinful things on my laptop, but because I wanted privacy. Now, I absolutely love my Covenant Eyes. It is the easiest thing in the world to not click on that nasty ad when you know that your laptop is immediately going to notify your parents or accountability partner. 

3. Keep busy.

I’ve spent probably the past 3-4 months having this one pounded into my thick skull, but you know what? It works! When you’re busy working for God and for others around you, or even just a new project that keeps your interest, then you will be so much less focused on your own troubles and shortcomings (discouragement/depression feeds the sin) and you will feel so good about the things you can do for others. 

4. Work hard on your thoughts.

Anyone who has ever been exposed to pornography knows how hard it is to get just one image out of your head, much less images, videos, words, etc… that have been purposely put in your head for months and years. So make sure that you’re watching your mind.  It becomes much easier to avoid temptations when your mind isn’t constantly on those things you’ve seen. So read a book, do a craft, study, sing a song. Avoid getting caught in a cycle of pornographic thoughts.

5. Go through your your phone, and get rid of ALL the temptations.

I don’t know why, but I didn’t even really consider going through and getting rid of the apps…the ones I hadn’t necessarily used to view pornography, but that I knew could have… (Amazon, Etsy, blogging apps, really any shopping apps),  so this has been a recent one for me but an enormous relief. You get rid of so much guilt when you delete an app that, while very convenient to have nearby, is also a temptation for you. So sit down, go through your phone and get rid of anything (apps or internet) that could readily give access to pornography. This will be a huge relief and help. 

1 Corinthians 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

 

 

Sister to Sister: When My Godly Husband Falls (Part 2)

I will continue to be in the Word every day. Notice I used the word “continue”. I cannot continue something that I’ve never begun. If I have not already made it my habit to study daily, may I begin now, even while beginning this new study, to put the Word in my heart regularly. It will be enriching now, but it may be the source of your sanity if you face the devastation of a spouse gone astray. You do not want to follow after wickedness. Stay close to the Book and you will have a hard time following His lead into sin.                                                             

 They draw near who follow after wickedness;They are far from Your law” (Psa. 119:150).

I will seek wise counsel. As a Christian wife, with a once-Christian husband, you have looked to your husband as a spiritual leader, just as the Bible commands (Ephesians 5: 23, 24). It’s very difficult to stop looking to that man as your mentor… as your spiritual advisor. But sadly, if he has left the Lord, as Saul did, he can no longer be trusted to instruct your spiritual conduct. You may need guidance desperately. May I advise you to seek faithful people; elders who are in the Word or older women who fit the Titus 2:3-5 model. If you seek professional counseling, may I advise you to seek out a Christian counselor, or, at the very least, a counselor who advises in accordance with Biblical principles. I have seen many women follow the counsel of a trusted, but non-Christian counselor, right onto a path that will lead them to hell. 

I will work diligently to protect my kids from spiritual danger. Your children will not come out of a childhood in which they witnessed their father (or mother, for that matter) fall into sin without being hurt. They will not escape unscathed. But I have seen plenty of children rise above such a situation to live faithful lives as adults. However, in most cases, where kids end up spiritually successful, there was a faithful parent who remained faithful even when the going got tough. In cases where the husband’s sin has resulted in his abdication of parental responsibilities, it means you must parent to the point of exhaustion almost every day. It means being sacrificially involved in the lives of your children. It means giving attention to discipline, helping with homework and protecting, as much as possible from the insecurities that come with divided parents; whether divorced or spiritually divided. It may mean walking that fine line between, on the one hand, ignoring, thus normalizing sin and, on the other hand, making it clear to your innocent children that their father is living in sin. There will be tough calls to make, but your life must be filled with prayer, the Word, good counsel and discretion. You cannot allow your emotions to strangle the joy out of your children’s innocent years any more than is already necessitated by the sin. 

I will not even begin to compromise with the world. This world spews forth self-fulfillment as the philosophy that brings us through the tough times:

—“Isn’t it time you did something for YOU?”

__ “You deserve to have a little fun, too.”

__ “You can’t let him rob you of your happiness.”

Or the line that takes the Word out of our concept of His will:

—“I think God wants me to be happy.”

 Of course, all of the above is rubbish.God did not call us to be happy. He called us to be holy (I Peter 1:16). It is important to remember, when making the tough calls in the tough times, that you can do anything for a lifetime. I know it’s hard. I know it’s exhausting. I know, on some days, life seems hopeless and it’s a struggle to go on. But try to see this life as God sees it. It’s a vapor or a flower that appears for a short time and… poof!… it is gone as quickly as it came (James 4:13-17). It is so very temporary and yet, it is the battlefield that decides the eternal victory. Don’t let the devil get you so discouraged that you choose an instant pleasure that results in eternal damnation. You can do anything…for a lifetime. You can bear any burden for the short sojourn to heaven. 

Sister to Sister: Homeschooling Again

It seems everywhere I go, the questions come about homeschooling; everything from “What made you decide to do that?” to “How does this affect your life as a preacher’s wife?” This last weekend was no exception. The event was a marriage seminar that my husband and I did, but, even so, it seems like we spent a lot of our one- on- one time discussing home schooling. (We love to talk about it, by the way.)
Of course, you know, if you have been reading the blog, that there’s a lot about the importance of teaching our kids and very few specific instructions about home schooling. However, if I can help anyone understand the motivation, the means or the methods of homeschooling that became such a part of our lives while Caleb and Hannah were growing up, I do think it’s a wise use of space and time. While I am not ready to say that home schooling is always the only method of successfully educating our children, I am sure that it is one very viable alternative for parents who are seeking to be Deuteronomy 6 parents in a world that has largely forsaken principles of truth and morality. For us, home-schooling was a gift from God so large in scope that we would be hard pressed to measure the benefits, many of which, we are sure, will be eternal.
So…all of that say this: If I can help you provide this blessing in your God-centered Christian home, I really would like to do that. I do not have all of the answers and much of what I learned was through trial and error in an era when home schooling families were far rarer than they are today. Caleb and Hannah are surely not products of a mom and dad who were confident and wise at all junctures. They are products of the blessings of a merciful God to whom we appealed daily for His wisdom and providence. They are, quite literally, answers to our prayers.
The homeschooling book on our site (http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Homeschool/c/3290201/offset=0&sort=normal) is there not because I know all about it, but because we put the best years of our lives into the process and we now know something about it. But mostly, because so many wonderful people need to know that they can do it. If Cindy Colley (organizationally and mentally challenged as she is) who had barely even heard of home-schooling when it was time for Caleb to go to kindergarten, could amble her way through the maze of questions and challenges for some eighteen-plus years, then you can do it if you want to do it. If you have specific questions or comments that might help others, please feel free to contact us through the website.
This has obviously been mostly a spiritual blog, to this point. But I’m convinced that questions about educating our children fall clearly under the Titus 2 directive to be guardians of our homes and love our children. They fall under the Deuteronomy 6 principle of diligently teaching our children so that our sons and our son’s sons will follow the statutes of the Lord. I think we all agree that’s the primary objective. Considering the option of home-schooling is a very wise thing to do. If I can help you in your journey, let me know. May He Bless Your Heart as you think and pray about this important decision.