Sister to Sister: Oasis!

 

There are small oases in the desert for Christians in America throughout any year’s months of  the drought of truth in our land. But there is one huge oasis every August and we have just traveled to the streams which are at Polishing the Pulpit. Our strength is renewed. We are emboldened and better prepared to stand for truth and to share it in love with those around us who are thirsty, too. And we more acutely long for heaven. 

The Wilderness Resort is quiet now. My husband and I are preparing to leave this morning. The folks at the front desk are talking about how wonderful the week was. They’re not Christians, but they are quick to tell us that this is their best week of the year. God’s people have shined a light in this place.  We are determined to individually trim our wicks and refuel our lamps to shine brighter all over this great country. 

Here are a few of my personal highlights from the week. I know you have them, too, if you were here:

  1. The eclipse. I sang “There is Sunshine in my Soul Today” with a small group of sisters while the light was still bright and then “How Great Thou Art” when it was hidden. We praised Him in prayer and begged Him to help us never to let anything get between us and the light that is His Son. I will never forget those moments.

  2. The chance to talk about the mothering lives of Millennial Moms in a small group setting with all those babies and sweet children—souls fresh from God—all over the floor and the pews. That was an epic opportunity for me. In that room was a very strong current that will flow into future generations for Him; not because I was teaching, but because they are already so doggedly determined to bring up generations for Him.

  3. The late night prayers with Glenn after long days with brethren. These reminded me of the enormous blessing that God has given me in this man. We talked over some serious eternity-affecting problems with people all through our days at PTP. But at night, this man of God, just laid them with me, at the feet of the One who already inhabits eternity (Is. 57:15). These times breathed into my spiritual muscles the ability to go do this again the next day. They gave me the real hope that we can overcome obstacles and make progress collectively toward heaven. 

  4. Being real, I have to say that the grandchildren were a definite highlight. I got to show my family in the Lord my new Colleyanna, in her pink bonnet and her long green and pink prairie dress. I got to have a sweet almost-three year old sleeping in the bed beside our bed almost every night. Glenn and I had bedtime Bible time and prayers with him at hours that were way too late for him to be awake. But it’s once a year and it’s a mammy’s paradise, in that respect. It’s the realization that my life is headed toward a sunset and a new light is arising. It’s profound in the spiritual context of PTP.

  5. The truth emanating from that conference center. It was everywhere and it does affect every faithful church, every mission point, every youth group, every area where the gospel is going. This is not because this is any kind of headquarters for His church. That’s not in the plan. But the beauty of this gathering is just that. Individuals are hearing about PTP and taking vacation times as families and the Word is going forth in mighty ways directed by the Providence of God and through the zeal of individual Christians who take it home and just keep on influencing others who teach others, who talk to others, who show Him to others. It’s how PTP has grown from 3 people, only a few years ago, to 4800 in these relatively few years. It is amazing and I believe it is arguably the one most powerful gospel-spreading gathering since the apostolic age when Pentecost occurred. I know that’s a big statement and I do not know all about all historical events of His people, but I cannot conceive of a gathering that could be more influential, certainly in modern times. (My personal favorite of the lessons I heard? The Sunday morning lesson by his great servant, Dan Winkler. Let’s be done with cheap substitutes and offer him the best perfume! But I also really loved some of those in Deep Creek about “Milk that Tastes Like Meat.”) 

In a land of spiritual famine, we have the sustenance. We have the Bread and Water of Life. The synergy of PTP is the right blessing, though, to remind us of just what we have in His truth. May we, in the harder times, throughout this year, remind ourselves that we are not alone! There will be another gathering on a hilltop in Sevierville next year, Lord willing. And there will one day be a gathering on the mountain of Zion for His faithful—a gathering from which we will never pack up and leave!

Sister to Sister: Dig till You Die!

As I write, I am at a convention where 4700 Christians have gathered to study and grow and enjoy fellowship that’s just rarely paralleled in this lifetime. If I were to travel home today, the blessings would be far greater than I could ever deserve. But I will, Lord willing, get to bask in them for four more days! So many unforgettable conversations…so many lessons I’ve been needing…so many hugs I’ve been missing all year…so many longings for heaven here in its foyer in Sevierville, Tennessee this week!

A gentleman walked up to me today and opened a painful page of his life with me. His marriage of four years ended tragically last March when his wife passed away unexpectedly in a hospital after a short and undiagnosed illness. “We really do not know what happened, “ he said. “She just experienced some symptoms that did not seem to  be life-threatening and, before we knew it, she was gone.” 

“But I wanted to tell you because of this,” he said. “My wife came to Polishing the Pulpit last year for the very first time. She left here and we went from bookstore to bookstore trying to buy a book that she had heard about at PTP.  It was called ‘Digging Deep.’ We finally found it and she worked through that study until she died.” 

You know, I understand that we don’t have to do Digging Deep in order to go to heaven. I get it that we are very busy and it’s sometimes challenging to consistently keep up with any organized study. Just the same, though, I think it’s a wonderful legacy to a life taken on to glory early that she was using her last days to grow toward heaven. I like to believe she went to glory with a greater capacity to appreciate His majesty and the fellowship of His people because of the study. I believe people who die with greater faith have larger cups to fill in heaven (Luke 19:11-27; Matthew 25:14-30).

Today we will unveil a whole new year of study. On September 1st, we will begin that study in earnest. The topic will be a surprise on the podcast, but let me just assure you that it will directly help you overcome the devil in this life and it will enable you toward hearing those words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”  The study will be free for downloading. A study book that has just a bit more commentary and some lines for answering the questions will be available for purchase here at PTP and online after 1:15 pm EST today. There will be t-shirts for fun, podcasts for encouragement and optional Facebook group participation. (I highly recommend this!) 

You may not be convinced yet. That’s okay, as long as you are in the book in some serious way during the next year. Digging Deep is just one way. But it’s a way that keeps us encouraged and accountable and prayerful for one another. I hope you’ll join us. There are no daily or weekly deadlines. Just do as much as you can and try to complete each month’s study as we go along. But whether you complete or not, you’ll be the richer for whatever you can accomplish. Get the details here on Tuesday afternoon: http://thecolleyhouse.org/category/digging-deep-bible-study.  Podcast is at 12:45 EST on Tuesday here: https://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women.

P.S. Melanie Pinedo, in the picture above is one of our youngest diggers this year. Her parents are rich people! She’s rich, too! And I  am blessed to know this young soul in the Word.

 

Digging Deep: Five Days till We’re “In the Shadows”!

unnamed-8Others have tried and failed and, surely, I can’t put into words the exponential spiritual growth that occurred at Polishing the Pulpit this week. Suffice it to say that I’m so very thankful to be in these mountains the third week of August each year. I come to a spiritual peak in the times I share with these thousands of Christians in this beautiful part of God’s world. I’ll always be grateful to Allen Webster and the elders in the church at Jacksonville  for having the vision and zeal to make PTP the outstanding program that it continues to be. The fellowship is not even the main thing, but that alone is worth the trip!

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Countdown to the new Digging Deep study is at 5 days. The official beginning of the “In the Shadows” study is September 1st. I hope you can think of someone to invite to join us as we dig into what I think will enable us spiritually—to better evangelize and to more fully understand the purpose and importance of the Old Testament. So many of those we encounter in various churches around us are, on the one hand, confused by our insistence that we are no longer under the Old Law…or, on the other hand, curious as to why we study the Old Testament accounts so thoroughly and frequently. 

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I really believe that it will be impossible to complete the study this year without, in the end, understanding the value of the Old Testament to Christians while still being sure that it has been fulfilled and is no longer binding on us, as law, in any respect. That’s why I think it’s a great idea to invite your friends who may not have made the distinction in covenants to study along. I hope you will take the time to at least message a few friends or post the study on your Facebook wall.  Lots of women are studying as a class this year, as well.

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Now, about the Digging Deep study guides….You may order those at any time here: http://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Digging-Deep/c/20688312/offset=0&sort=normal. You’ll also find there the new Comfort Colors Digging Deep t-shirts that Ben Giselbach designed for us this year. The graphite and mint green made a great combination this year. You might want to take a look. (We had to remove the bundle we had offered earlier because our tumbler supply has been exhausted.) Note that all t-shirt orders must be completed by September 1st. This deadline enables us to have the shirts printed quickly and be able to mail them out in the first few days of September. 

Remember, also, that you may download the complete no-frills version of the study on the same page as well. We invite you to do that at any time with our compliments. The main objective here is to get the Word into the hearts of women, so be sure and do whatever best facilitates that. Don’t forget the podcast occurs monthly toward the end of the month. We hope you can join us for that hour live. We update the dates for that via the Facebook page “Digging Deep in God’s Word”.

Thank you for giving me the chance to study through the scriptures each year with you. I cannot tell you how huge a part of my life Digging Deep has come to be. And that’s a good thing. (Sometimes, though, I have to be careful to let my husband know that I love him even more than I love Digging Deep!)  So get ready. Get set…14063715_220885821642921_2281945772074807030_n-1

 

PTP! Let’s do this!

13912888_10153675854961384_3576400400912032462_nAs I write, I am trying to head out the door to attend one of the finest teaching programs I’ve ever experienced. Throughout the last year I have listened to 177 full length classes on the flash drive I brought home from last year’s Polishing the Pulpit. (http://polishingthepulpit.com) just while driving in my car. I’m spiritually richer just for the listening. I know more about the Bible and how to apply it. I have more teaching tools. I am glad I can listen in the  car after the gathering has dispersed. But to get to go and enjoy the fellowship of 4000 Christians while attending some of these lessons in person is a blessing in the vestibule of heaven, itself! 

The other night, while visiting the church in Jacksonville, Alabama I met a lady from the community who came also, to visit their Wednesday Bible study. When I met her, she related to me that someone in the community—someone to whom she had mentioned that she really wanted to know God’s will for her life—said “You should go over to the church of Christ. They have the best Bible studies over there.” Now I do not know who this person was. She was apparently not a member of the church. She had just become impressed with the reputation of Bible study that the Jacksonville church has. 

That was a breath of fresh air for me. God’s people should work hard to maintain that reputation. I’m sure I’ve heard at least a hundred times in my lifetime “The church of Christ used to have the reputation of being the people who knew the Bible. But that day, sadly, has passed.” Well, if it’s passed, I say, let’s bring it on back!

At Polishing the Pulpit, that’s the goal. You will start to believe that we can regain that reputation when you circulate through classes and connect in conversations  and go to the how-to sessions on everything from teaching tots to planning mission trips to food preservation for disaster outreach to learning some basics about the Bible languages. And the  fellowship at this great program!…It’s simply a foretaste of heaven. The children’s program alone is reason enough to make the trip with your family. They get to wander though a life-size New Testament village and soak in the accounts of that Book! I hope you will make plans now for next year, if you’re not traveling to Sevierville,Tennessee this weekend to attend,

I get to talk with ladies about the meek and quiet spirit of I Peter 3. I’m discussing this year the subtleties of the devil’s tactics to try and “trip up” Christian women. I’m simulating a study with a Mormon and kicking off a year of Deep Bible study for women. I’m over-the-top excited about that. I’m talking about some bad reasons to stay in an unfaithful church, some ways to use social media for Him… and more. I love this opportunity to teach. It makes me work and learn and study that blessed Book…Its meat (Hebrews 5:12), Its milk (I Peter 2:2), Its bread (John 6:58) and Its water (John 4:13,14).  But even more, I love the opportunity to learn.  I am just one tiny little teacher (well…you know what I mean) in a vast program of many teachers far more qualified than I am. So, for me, it’s all about soaking it up! At PTP, you learn quickly that, the more you know, the more there is to know. That’s why you keep coming back. And the best part is, you have 358 days in between PTPs to glorify Him with the applications you bring back from those seven days. It’s kind of like a spiritual gold rush for Christians…only  the gold is really there and you really do become richer. And you can take the gold home and invest it, and, slowly, you become richer and richer toward God. Let’s go do this!

Sister to Sister: Wall-builders, Nehemiah Style

nehemiah_rust_door-1024x682I hope you want to be one. Badly enough to pick up the Sword (of the Spirit) when the persecution comes. Badly enough to cry out to God and then pick up His tools and go at it again. Badly enough to multi-task for Him. Badly enough to face yours own Sanballots and Tobiahs (Nehemiah 2). I pray that my courage will not fail in the face of persecution. I want to build for my children and grandchildren. For those who are Digging Deep (https://www.facebook.com/groups/282349391779769/)  this month, Nehemiah is the man of the hour. He steps right out of the sacred pages and into the hearts of God’s people today…in their political views, in their sin-challenged families and in their weary congregations. Nehemiah is an affront to apathy and cowardice and an appeal to steadfastness and courage in a day when Christians are repelled as we view the moral and spiritual landscape about us. To be repelled is not enough, though. We have to repeal…. I mean, we have to do everything within our power to restore, one precious soul at a time, respect for the Word of God and sanctification for His purposes in whatever arenas of influence we have.

I challenge you to ingest Nehemiah in the remaining days of this month. Join us on the podcast (http://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women) next Tuesday night for some ideas about what we can personally do in a day when Christians are mocked, persecuted and are, more and more, finding themselves targets of litigation for the defense of religious freedoms and/or beliefs.

Appreciation goes to Polishing the Pulpit (http://polishingthepulpit.com) as I recommend today, for your listening, this lesson which finds its basis in the great book of Nehemiah. Specifically, thanks to Allen Webster and Grat Tucker for help in sharing this lesson and to my friend, Tennessee State Representative Sheila Butt, for her study and presentation.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2siobcrh8ehv1px/075%20Butt%2C%20Sheila%20-%20Finding%20Peace%20in%20Anxious%20Times-auphonic.mp3?dl=0

The Holy Spirit is Working At PTP!

1233412_10101287715624745_127146552_nThis week I am at a conference in Sevierville, TN that is just about as close to heaven as we are going to get in this lifetime. 3500 or so Christians worshipping, praying , studying and hugging each other in the hallways. People pouring out burdens to empathetic ears, singles “mingling” and playing games together (I’ve heard some matches were made!), elders and future elders sitting at “scenario tables” figuring out how the Word would direct congregations through difficult problems, moms leaning on the wisdom of older women and teens ingesting truths that are the real sword for winning battles of peer pressure and temptation. This, and so much more, is Polishing the Pulpit. Save up your money and head for the hills next August. It will be a great place of renewal on your journey to heaven. (And, next year, you can meet my Baby G!…one more reason! =)…You are seeing him this year…you know, that lady who looks like gravity will, of necessity, make her tip over frontwards at any moment!)

 

If you’ve been in the Digging Deep study this year, you know that the Spirit works mightily through the Word of God. Today He is working through that precious Word in the hearts of women at PTP. But the good news is, you can share the excitement of that working today at 2:30 pm EST via the live Digging Deep podcast. We will be concluding the Knowing God study and embarking on our 2014-15 study. Come and be in the room as we unveil this brand new study. Be in Ballroom A or  be in the chat room at www.talkstreamlive.com. See the women here who have completed the 2013-14 study in its entirety. Be encouraged and motivated. You will not complete the 2014-15 study without putting down roots in heaven. Yes, I am confident! God is just so good. You don’t have to be in the Digging Deep study to know and experience this, but you DO have to be in Bible study! That’s how the Spirit works in us. That’s how He motivates. That’s how He leads. That’s how He moves!

 

If you haven’t been moved by the Spirit this week, may I suggest you open the book?