The Best Thing About PTP

The best thing about PTP? We’re supposed to sum that up on the evaluation sheet for this huge event that Glenn and I just finished in Sevierville, Tennessee. The retreat center’s halls are empty now, the tabernacle has been dismantled, our legs feel kind of like noodles, and the Bible Plinko is in the back of our SUV.  Polishing the Pulpit is finished for 2012 and we are in reflection mode. Conversations, friendships, counseling sessions and worship scenes swirl in our minds. It’s really been an internal blessing with eternal benefits.

PTP began several years ago in a home in Jacksonville, Alabama when three preachers met for a weekend to exchange sermon ideas. The largest venue that they can find in the area now has challenges accommodating the crowd which, for the last few years has been growing by about 500 people per year. This year’s count was just over 2500. But the crowd isn’t the best thing about PTP for the Colleys.

It’s incredible that an event-turned-phenomenon like this can start with a few exchanged sermons and morph (in just a few short years) into a multi-tracked convention with tracks for elders, preachers, wives of elders, deacons, wives of deacons, wives of preachers, children, teens, members and more. The great thing about these tracks is that you don’t have to declare. You can jump tracks all you want. I love that part since I am a preacher’s wife, an elder’s wife, a parent, a member and a speaker. I am easily overwhelmed, but this is a really good kind of overwhelming event. But that’s not the best thing about PTP this year.

I have been incredibly blessed (so much so that when I pray, I ask God consistently, “Why me, Lord? How is it that I get to do this?”) to have been privileged to speak to the ladies at PTP for all of the years that a ladies program has existed. The ladies class began in Pigeon Forge several years back with a core of about 12 women in a one-class-a-day format. As it has simply exploded since that time, I’ve been so blessed to watch. We are filling up rooms and ballrooms simultaneously and the families we represent are benefitting in ways that will never be publicized, but will populate heaven. This is one of the best things about PTP this and every year.

Kids just get VERY excited about the program. “Kids” and “excitement” and “program” are hardly ever in the same context. But here, the concepts co-exist. As one of my friends’ five-year-old son recently said, “I cannot wait to go to ‘Polishing the Pit-bull!” Service projects, the bigger than life apologetics mole, “Digger Doug”, Bible games, Nerf Wars, a historically accurate reproduction of the tabernacle, youth singings, and speakers that are passionate and interesting will make your kids beg to come back again and again. But that’s not the best thing about PTP, for me.

Four hundred women committing to a deep Bible study on the topic of “sanctification” for the next year was definitely a highlight for me. I cannot wait to see the fruits of this study. Be sure to check out the podcast on www.thecolleyhouse.org this Tuesday night at 7:00 CST for details. Lots of personal studies are currently occurring as a result of last year’s Digging Deep study. Pray about these. Enroll in the study you can read about on Monday’s blog post.This is over-the-top exciting for me, but not the best thing about PTP.

The speakers. Being blessed to hear Alan Highers on doctrinal issues or B.J. Clarke on the Passover Lamb or Eric Lyons talking to teens on the age of the earth or Tom Holland talking to 2000 people about heaven is just about as close as you get to the actual place. The messages are just about the very best parts of PTP.

Resolve. That’s got to be just about the best thing about PTP. I have seen teens turn the corner from selfishness to caring at PTP. I have seen parents learn the secrets of discipline that very well may make the difference in eternity for their children. I have seen men take home the key to successfully overcoming pornography and I have seen mothers understand for the first time what it means to be a keeper at home and then leave determined to fulfill that sacred charge. I have seen couples on the fast track to divorce resolve to make a sanctified home for the Lord. And years later, I am witnessing the fruits of these changes that began at a PTP counseling session or in a class tailored for folks in their situations. That is one of the very best things about PTP.

But for Glenn and me, selfishly, the very best thing about PTP is the Clarkes, the Sippers, the Andersons, the Benavideses, the Thompsons, James Weaver, the Owens and ourselves. These are OUR families. They are the ones in our congregation. They are the ones who worship with our family at West Huntsville who were feasting at the spiritual table. They are the ones who are coming home with the renewed zeal, the fresh ideas, the determined fortitude, the increased knowledge. They are the ones who will be using the resources for the kingdom in Huntsville, Alabama. For Glenn and Cindy Colley, in a spiritually selfish (is that an oxymoron?) way, we are most thankful for and blessed by God’s Providence in bringing these precious souls to PTP. Among these families, there are 22 children (three sets of twins, no less…I think that’s a record for one church at PTP). Just start thinking about the children of these children who will one day benefit from their coming and you begin to see the potential for our family at West Huntsville. We are just so rich at the gracious hand of our powerful God! Our church will be strengthened, our outreach magnified, our children’s classes enriched, our families fortified, and (Praise God!) our evangelism empowered as a result of these eight families having attended. I hope we can have sixteen families in 2013. We love every family at West Huntsville and would love for every family to get to enjoy and grow from this feast.

If you’ve never been, may I challenge you to put it on your calendar for 2013? It will be well worth a couple of school and work days missed. It could be financially feasible if you start that little savings account for PTP now. If you are really wanting to go and simply are unable to swing it all by yourself financially, check out the website at www.polishingthepulpit.com. If you are an elder’s wife, the idea of an eldership helping a family go to PTP may be something you can “help” your husband think about. Whatever the contribution you can make to your congregation’s participation, you will be blessed. I can hardly see how eight families can attend without ultimate enrollment additions in the Lamb’s Book of Life. For the Colleys, that’s the best thing about PTP.

Got Boys?

Just yesterday I got a message from a friend in Tennessee who had been listening to some materials from Polishing the Pulpit. Specifically, she had been listening to a lesson about how girls can avoid abusive relationships–signs to look for, and how to get out of those situations. Her question was interesting:

“Do you have any materials for guys who get into similar dating relationships?” As she explained further, I understood that she wasn’t speaking about physical abuse, but rather the avoidance of getting involved with girls who are controlling and demanding. In short, she was speaking about avoiding getting into marriages in which the wife would be unable to live in submission as is so clearly commanded in Ephesians five and other passages. I believe that our failure to develop male spiritual leadership in many congregations is one of the top two problems plaguing the church today.

I am very excited that several congregations have recognized the need for addressing some specific dating and leadership issues for the young men of our congregations. West Huntsville will be hosting a seminar later on this year. For now, though, I wanted you to know about an upcoming opportunity in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I know this faithful church. I, personally, know these faithful speakers. May I recommend that, if you live in driving distance that you try to make this happen for the young men in your life? It could be one eventful morning that makes a difference for their lives and eternities. It may even be the morning that gives some sweet girl down the road the priceless gift of a faithful husband. Here are the details: Young Men’s Seminar Flyer

Get Plugged In

Today, there are just a few things about which I want to raise your awareness. If there is something I have learned from the Digging Deeper study that many of you are doing, it’s that we accomplish a lot more…grow a lot more… when we communicate with those who are likeminded. So today –just some stuff that, depending on where you live and what you are studying, may be of interest to you.
  1. The Digging Deeper lessons from which the ladies’ study originated are available on audio and video at www.polishingthepulpit.com. To get the Digging Deeper audio set of four lessons, you may have to call the number on the website. The others should be available online. If you want to check out the study, itself, you can read about it in a couple of previous posts on this blog or check out the facebook group “Digging Deeper in God’s Word.”
  2. Something I didn’t know is that the video lessons from all of PTP (including all of the ladies sessions) are now available at the www.polishingthepulpit.com for six dollars each. I am very excited about the availability of these speeches as I had to miss a lot of sessions that I very much want to hear.
  3. Here are some upcoming ladies’ days that would be worth your time if you are in these areas:
  • The Oliver Spring church of Christ in Oliver Springs, Tennessee, will host a Ladies Day on Saturday, September 10. Dolly Leighton will be the guest speaker on the theme of “Falling Into Faith.” Lunch will be provided. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the program will start at 10 a.m.
  • The Karns church of Christ in Knoxville, Tennessee: “For Such A Time As This” is the theme of our Ladies Day on Saturday, September 24th. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the program will be from 9 a.m.—12 noon, at which time lunch will be provided. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Belinda Anderson from Henderson, TN. Steve Higginbotham is the preacher here.
  • The ladies of Sevierville church of Christ in Sevierville, Tennessee, will be hosting a Ladies Day with Peggy Pharr on October 8th.  The theme is “Pass It On.” Registration starts at 9 a.m. with the program starting at 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be served.
  • Ladies Day at the Jacksonville Church in Jacksonville, AL. Registration: 8:30-9:00 AM. Date: September 17, 2011. Theme: “Keeping Things Sweet and Simple”. Speaker: Cindy Colley
  • Ladies’ Day at the Miami Church in Miami, OK. Speakers: Cindy Colley and Hannah Colley Giselbach. September 24, 2011 
And finally, a couple more Bible study tips from readers. Thanks to all who responded to this Bible study post.
Here is my best tip. First I should say that I am a full time full Professor of Communication and a Ph.D. So, I find it best to approach my Bible study with the same vigor as I do my PhD work. A simple “good/best” tip for me is “sticky notes.” That sounds strange, but I color code the information as I sit with my Strong’s, dictionaries, etc. and color code the verses with the sticky note color that corresponds with the idea of the study. It helps me keep track of the information easily and allows me to “mind map” it as I study for easy retention.— Tracy Frederick, Winfield, KS

I limit the amount of scripture to a reasonable amount (1 chapter or event) and I read the passage, refer to any related passages and also break down each verse by determining answers to several questions: who, what, when, where, why & how.  Also addressing pronouns and figuring out who they refer back to is very helpful.  Many times this ties several verses together in a way that is focused and more understandable as a whole. 

My other tip is to keep in mind events and people in chronological order instead of just the order that the books are assigned. Hope this helps!—  Susan Olinger

How Are You Going?

One of my friends from Australia always asks “ How are you going?” It means the same to her as when I say “How are you doing?” but I like the way she says that because it really fits the way I live. We are on the go and never more so than each year during the month of August. Several very influential events are  happening in the next few weeks and I want to be sure you are taking advantage of them if at all possible.

First, Polishing the Pulpit starts this Friday in Sevierville, TN. Scores of sound teachers, classes and activities for all ages will be part of what has become, in my opinion, the event among our brethren and sisters with the broadest scope of influence. It gets underway this weekend and continues through the following Thursday. I do not want to miss a moment and I’m pumped about seeing lots of you there. This year, it will be fun to have all THREE of my children there and my biggest challenge will be finding the time I want to spend with them, and all of the other blood relatives and blood-of-Christ relatives, while getting in the prep time I need for the lessons and still getting to hear some of my favorite speakers. This is a taste of heaven, for sure, but I am looking forward to all of the fellowship and singing and visiting without the time restrictions. Come and let’s get ready for that place and time together!  Go to www.polishingthepulpit.com for details.

PTP: Great Fellowship Awaits!

Before I leave the PTP promo, let me say thanks to all of you who submitted tips for deep Bible study. Winners in the “best study tips contest” are these three: Sandy Cook, for her idea of group study, Brian Giselbach, for the wisdom from Guy Woods he passed along, and Dana Ethredge, for what she is doing with Halley’s Bible Handbook. As promised, you will get all these tips later. But for now, Sandy, Brian and Dana, look on the site www.colleybooks.org, pick out your free product and let me know where to send it by emailing byhcontest@gmail.com.

Next, ladies, please don’t forget about the ladies seminar “This is War” to be held on August 27th at the new West Huntsville at Providence building. You can reserve your spots for attending and free lodging, if needed, by going to www.westhuntsville.org. You can also, obviously link to the event from this blog. The deadline is officially August 15th. We want to work to have room and food and seating for everyone, so do let us know as soon as you can. You will be so glad for any effort you expend to be part of this.

Speaking of West Huntsville…Yesterday we became West Huntsville at Providence as we assembled in our beautiful new building at 1519 Old Monrovia Road in Huntsville. If you are ever our way, be sure to stop and worship with us. We are so blessed to be in this new facility and be able to start sowing the seed in a fertile neighborhood that’s “on the grow.”  As a matter of fact, I often think that the devil will surely try hard to defeat the great things that are happening at WH-P. But, we are family, in the truest sense of that Word, and we plan to fight him tooth and nail to keep our close bond of fellowship centered on the gospel of Christ. If you can’t physically visit us, stop in to www.westhuntsville.org and download some of the strengthening messages we’re blessed to hear on a regular basis.

West Huntsville at Providence
photo by Tony Anderson

Then there’s the beginning of school for so many moms who read the blog. Please know that I am praying for your children as they head into another school year. So many people prayed me through the school years of my children and I know it was because of His mercies that Caleb and Hannah have been able to remain faithful in this society that would wrest convictions of faith from our kids. I’m praying for yours. Some of them I often take to the throne by name, and some I pray for “en masse”, but God is faithful. Some of you are keeping your kids at home this year for the first time to home educate them. I am thankful for your choice. Be diligent.  Some of you are praying for them as you have delegated a part of their education to someone else. I am praying with you. Stay involved and alert. “In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

Bible study tips for today:

Sandy Pritchett says “One of my favorite ways to study the Bible is on topics that either I am going through or something that I came across and I am interested.”

Kirby Cole says teaching a class is his best tool for deep Bible study because you have to know the material you are presenting & be prepared for any questions that may be brought up. “Teaching also gives you an incentive to study.”

Alyssa Cole says listening to relatives that are faithful Christians gives her a jumpstart to study because “they inspire you.”

More tips next time. Have an awesome August!

If you can, GO! But if not…

I think I sometimes fail to mention the great amount of good that comes from a program held yearly in Sevierville, TN in August called Polishing the Pulpit. It’s the highlight of the Colleys’ yearly speaking events, for sure,  and I would highly recommend saving your energy, vacation time, and money to make it a part of your agenda this or any year it’s possible for you to attend. It used to be for preachers. Now it’s for everybody who’s serious about faithfulness and evangelism. The women’s programs, in my estimation are second to none in the world, not because I speak, but in spite of that fact.  You can go to www.polishingthepulpit.com for details.
It is so exciting to remember that only about ten years ago I was speaking for the first-ever PTP women’s program and we had one session per day with a total of about twelve women. My Hannah was in charge of childcare during the class. She was fourteen. Those who attend in 2011 will enjoy fellowship with hundreds of Christian sisters and sit in classes taught by lots of capable women and on the most relevant topics you can imagine for God’s women. If you can go, just be prepared to look forward to going every year. You’ll be hooked for life! (And the babysitter for that first year has spoken on the program for PTP and this year is looking forward to attending with her new husband! Time flies when you are having fun!)
And now, there’s a complete Bible school for elementary aged children, a great staff to care for preschoolers, and a full spiritual program for teens. It would be worth your while to be there if only for your kids! And, have I mentioned that hundreds of husbands grow into better spiritual leaders as a result of this event each year? (If you are the wife of one of these “leaders” I would love to hear from you. You may influence some other family to grow toward heaven by being part of PTP.) Can you tell I’m a fan yet?
But, in the event you are unable to attend, the next best thing (a distant next-best) is purchasing some of the “best of” series from the PTP website. These CD sets are great for the car, and will drive your study time to greater depths than you have before experienced. So look over these sets on the PTP website if you can’t be there in person. I have included a short note from a sister that reminded me to promote the agenda of Polishing the Pulpit. That agenda reaches beyond the scope of time and space into eternity itself!
Dear Cindy,
I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to talk with me recently at the Ladies Day at Riverbend church of Christ in Dalton, Georgia (it was in April).  I really enjoyed the lesson you and Hannah gave on Hospitality.  It was very nice to see you both and visit with you guys!  I always enjoying hearing and studying with the saints!  Both of your lessons inspired me and I have taken things from those lessons and tried to implement them. 

Also at the Ladies Day I bought  “Best of Series: Home and Heart” which I have enjoyed so very much I can’t even begin to tell you and I look forward to hearing them over and over.  I was recently in Chattanooga, or should say I went to Chattanooga on purpose so that I could buy “Best of Series: Women in the Church” and my kids some new Apologetic Press books and of course Digger Doug (These are from www.apologeticspress.org).  Love the Women in the Church series as well and I want to become more useful and this has been a great learning tool for me.  I hope to be able to put what I have learned from these lessons to work!  I am so eager and wanting to do that!…
Have a great day!
Thanks!
Kellee Southlin

Classes for Women

Classes for Teens

 

Classes for Children
Classes for Men

When God’s People Get Together, Good Things Happen!

Okay, so the Proverbs writer says of the virtuous woman, “Her candle goeth not out by night,” but really, a few of us have been taking the verse to its literal extreme lately. It’s so very exciting when there are so many great things to be doing in the Kingdom, that it’s hard to take the time to sleep. Sleeping is sometimes underrated, though, and so tonight, as I write, I am going to make it short and sweet and, perhaps, even a bit incoherent as I relay some necessary info and some wishes to whom they may concern.

For those of you who are going to Polishing the Pulpit, I wish you safe travels, open hearts and God’s richest blessings of renewal as you go to the conference that has changed and enriched many lives in the relatively short time it’s been around. In fact, the indirect good done by the program is really quite inestimable, since every participant goes home to influence someone with the information learned and many go home to influence hundreds. I’m grateful to all those who work so hard to make this happen. Just today I have communicated with a couple of people in the PTP office, the people who are working so hard to make the children’s program so effective, a couple of the speakers, and several who are attending at great personal sacrifice. Could I just say you are encouraging me tremendously? So I’m turning all my wishes into prayers tonight for the ultimate good to come from our being together and the greatest filled potential when we all get back home. (And I cannot wait to hear you all singing!) For those who may not be going this year, but are interested in learning more, check out www.polishingthepulpit.com.

For those of you who are coming to the West Huntsville Purity Day, get your reservations in if you haven’t already. We are very pleased that we seem to have surpassed the 400 mark already and we are still getting reservations. A few of the most frequently asked questions:

  1. What ages are invited to this event? All ages of girls and women are invited. We are planning a class for all younger girls during the second session, which will be a more in-depth discussion of sexual purity, so feel free to bring your younger girls. Moms and mentors will decide who goes where during that session. And we do want moms and mentors to be there!
  2. Do girls who have signed up for housing need to bring sleeping bags? We are putting adults in beds first and then as many girls as possible, but, to be on the safe side, sleeping bags for teens and below are recommended. If you want to call, though, before you leave, we will let you know how it’s looking for your group. It’s hard to know, for sure, since the reservations are still coming in.
  3. Is there a charge for any of this? No. Everything is free. We will have t-shirts (They are really pretty.) on hand for those who might want to purchase them. There will also be some books related to our theme that you may purchase.
  4. Can I go online and register for this event? Yes. You may let us know on the facebook event: West Huntsville Purity Day. If you do this, be sure and leave contact info or message your contact info to me.
  5. We are coming a long way. Will there be any housing for Saturday night? Yes. If you do need housing for Saturday night, just be sure and let us know. You would be welcome to stay and worship with us at 9:00 am on Sunday or start your drive home and worship on the way. (We do have a great preacher, though. =)
This was not short. “Short” is not in my nature. And sleep is still a long way off for me, too. Hope to see you at one or both of these events. God bless you!