Sister to Sister: High School Heroes

Things just aren’t like they used to be in reference to morality in our country today. Homosexual advocates have had a champion of their cause sitting in the Oval Office. The icons of our teen girls are a sad lot of extremely immodest, fornicating, pro-choice, feminist and/or vulgar-mouthed screen stars. Television sit-coms would have us believe that there’s a homosexual man or woman living in every third household in America and that conversation is incomplete and flavorless without cursing and taking God’s name in vain. We kill 1.2 million of our innocents every year and we have paid for many of  the murders with tax dollars. Our schools are battlefields in this culture war and, as a result, our kids are often safe from neither physical harm nor molestation of their values systems. Many public schools today, which have outlawed student-led prayer through Christ and/or prayer around the flagpole, grant excuses from classes at certain times of the day so that Muslim children can pray toward Mecca. More and more, children need the solidity and emotional safety of parents who can always be depended on for real answers to social issues, for values that are unchanging, and for the provision of a real home; a haven where they can count on being protected physically and emotionally, but most of all spiritually.

And our own “Christian” teens are living in this moral vacuum. More and more of our children raised in “Christian” homes are coming of age and leaving home without the moral underpinnings that they need to make wise choices. Many have already made serious mistakes before high school or even middle school graduation. Our kids are experimenting with pornography, alcohol, and sex of various kinds during high school. They have often been indiscriminate in their television and movie viewing. They have allowed their minds to become subtly controlled by the materialism of television and the movies while becoming anesthetized to blatant sin. They’ve slowly come to laugh at what should make them, as Christians, cry. They’ve incrementally given their real allegiance to the world while giving only a token Sunday/Wednesday nod to the things of God.

And then, with a little hope, thankfully, many find their way to the Christian university. At Freed Hardeman University, where my son and daughter have both attended, there are some amazing faculty members whose lives are wholly given to the Lord. There is a Bible faculty, on that campus which, in my opinion, is second to none in the world. And, many times, thank God, those students, who arrived as freshmen in a very weak spiritual condition, find themselves growing closer to God, wanting to know the freedom from guilt, and finding joy in heartfelt service to God. Sometimes these kids have the will to truly change during these college years and many of them will be faithful for the rest of their lives. Praise God.

But there is a sad phenomenon that sometimes occurs in this college scenario. Sometimes, those students who walked away from God during high school and became dangerously involved in alcohol abuse, sexual sin or pornography, etc., somehow feel that they have the spiritual edge over those kids who made the better choices in high school. You may be wondering, “Now where could she be going with this?” Let me explain.

More and more I am hearing college devo leaders say things like “If your life has never been totally messed up with sexual sin, then you can’t fully appreciate Christianity like I can.” Or, “I am not going to stand here and tell you that I have led a sexually pure life. You wouldn’t believe me if I did, since there probably aren’t two out of every ten people in this room who could say that. I’m going to tell you I’ve done about everything you’ve done, maybe as much as several of you put together and he still reached down for me.” Or, “I wouldn’t trade places with any of you out there who always walked the straight and narrow because I love the Jesus who came to the wide path and rescued me.” Or, “There may be those of you who think you made all the right choices through high school. You may have. But, if you did, I doubt you really know a lot about reaching the sinner with His forgiveness.”

What’s wrong with this sort of message in a devotional talk? Well, I can think of some definite dangers. First, let’s take this sort of teaching to its natural conclusion. If I can eventually put the greatest appreciation of the Savior in my kids by encouraging them to participate in sin, then shouldn’t I just provide the alcohol for their high school parties? Shouldn’t I encourage fornication and experimentation with homosexuality, porn, vulgarity and lewdness? Shouldn’t I get the raunchiest forms of satellite TV and download the most explicit computer images for them to view? Second, there are many lifelong consequences that come with various forms of sin (even forgiven sin). You can think of lots of these off the top of your head. With fornication comes the fear of STDs and/or the effect that this behavior has on your later marriage. With abortion comes the hauntings of guilt and the cry of the dead baby that you may hear for the rest of your life. With alcohol comes the possibility of alcoholism. With porn use comes the addiction you may have to fight till you die. The high school student who had the foresight, fortitude and faith to leave these sins alone should never be tauntingly stereotyped as the pharisaical, righteous one as I often hear in college circles. Third, It took a lot of courage and conviction to avoid the typical high school sins. It was not an accident that this purity of life was maintained. In fact, it was the same Christ who offered you His forgiveness that reigned in the heart of your friend there, as she worked so hard to never let King Jesus down. Did he ever need his forgiveness? Oh absolutely. Can she appreciate that forgiveness? Definitely. But he or she doesn’t have to walk away from the light to know the power of darkness. Fourth, we have to be really careful not to make a lifestyle of sin appealing to young people. Many—no, most young people who become enamored with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life during the very young teen years, do not emerge on the side of the Savior as adults. We are losing huge percentages of our kids as they experiment with the sins of the devil in high school. Parents and mentors who are really focused on eternity will do all that’s within their power to enable their kids to get in the safety of His will and to stay there every single day as they face the huge challenges of life in high school. Just one time, be on the receiving end of that phone call from a grief stricken parent informing you that a teen has been prematurely snatched from this life while under the influence of alcohol and you will desperately want your child to be among the number of “pharisaical” righteous ones on that college campus one day.

I understand that the one forgiven of much will love much (Luke 7:47). I know, from the life of Paul that the chief of sinners can be the most devoted to the cause (I Tim. 1:15). But there is a real sense in which each of is chief of sinners. There is a sense in which we all have obtained the ultimate forgiveness. We cannot afford to make the depth of depravity to which one has slipped the barometer of perceived spirituality. Let’s stop viewing those who remained faithful to God through what was arguably the most difficult years of life as some sort of self-righteous, sub-Christians. Let’s look to their examples and perhaps even to wisdom they gained for encouragement. I know many of these heroes. Among them are Joseph, Daniel, Samuel, Esther, Mary, the mother of the Lord and Timothy. And I know many of them who are now in college, as well. I can look at the short inexhaustive list above and know that God has a special place in his heart for those who stood relatively alone for truth and right in the high school years.

Sister to Sister: Mama’s K.I.S.S. #34–Ladies’ Day Participation

10930887_10152530654641384_8560838046804738628_nAs you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been presenting installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” This is number 34  of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids (today our girls, particularly) to have servant hearts. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

Perhaps this service suggestion is more to the women-at-large in our congregations than to individual moms. I want to implore you to keep having ladies’ days, women’s conferences, sisters’ seminars, ladies retreats and women’s sessions at lectureships and I want to tell you that I have personally seen the lasting benefits of involving our young girls in the execution of these events. I have traveled to speak at both kinds of events—those events in which there were no young women on the program and those where fresh young faces were before us leading us in songs and prayers and reading scripture. After having participated in these programs for over thirty years now, I can tell you that typically the congregations whose teen members (and even younger girls) were included in the ladies events are the ones which are, still today, enjoying a more vibrant, working local sisterhood. I have watched teen girls who gave short devotionals at women’s events or ladies’-nights-out develop into excellent ladies day speakers, who are now holding the line in sound teaching for women and faithful women’s service areas—the ones we read about in Titus 2.

I’m very excited that, this past weekend, I sang with a large group of women led by two teen girls. Young women lead the prayers and introduced me to the audience. I’m even more excited that, in a couple of weeks, I’ll attend our own West Huntsville ladies retreat where about a fifth of the women in attendance will be high school and college girls. I’ve watched them grow up. I love them, in some ways like they are my own. I’m thankful they are plugged into the work of the West Huntsville family. But that kind of zeal and that sense of inclusion doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of offered opportunities and encouragement following successful participation. But you want it in your congregation. It makes for great mothers and wives and zealous workers in the kingdom. It makes for great people raising our future elders and preachers! So use those girls in your ladies’ activities and when they finish the job, give them big hugs, write them notes of encouragement and then look for ways to use them again.

Just yesterday I planned a fall ladies’ weekend with ladies in the coastal area of Virginia. They have elderly ladies who are comfortable driving to activities in the daytime only, so they entitled the Friday night session  “Planning your Happy Home,” a “prevent-disaster” type of lesson for women who are not yet married or are young wives and mothers. This kind of planning is wise on the part of the older ladies who are “teachers of good things” as Titus 2 instructs. The younger women who are able to come will not only benefit from leading women in worship, but they will get a full dose of practical home-making tips from the Scriptures. And when I say home-making tips, I mean the wisdom from the Father that makes homes strong enough to get to the golden shore intact, with all family members in the spiritual boat.  I know there are no guarantees, sisters, but there are spiritual life preservers and inflatable life boats if we plan ahead and know how to use them.

Getting to heaven is a family affair… in your little unit and in the family of God. We need each other. I’m glad God bought the church. It was expensive to purchase the worldwide family unit I needed so much (Acts 20:28). I’m glad for the security of that large purchase.

Got Boys? Make a New Year’s Resolution.

images-10Satan is trying so hard to turn your teen boy’s head and heart from the purposes you’ve diligently cultivated in him. He’s a teenager now. You don’t cuddle with him in your lap, read him stories or play Candy Land with him anymore. In fact, it seems there’s more “device-time” now than there is real parental communication going on in his world. So, what’s a mom to do? Do we really raise them for the first twelve years just to watch our relationships and influence slowly erode, making us virtual strangers in the same houses?

No!! You and your husband can foster a close bond with your teenage son. I see it happening all around me. It’s challenging because of what the devil is doing in your son’s world of school, peers, and media. But it is possible and it is eternally rewarding! I hope to include snippets throughout the coming year in this blog about ways we, as moms, can enable our sons on the path to holy living and godly leadership. For today, let me tell you about an upcoming day in Tennessee that’s worth your drive for a great and intentional beginning of a better 2015 for your son (or in the case of my correspondence this morning, your whole boys youth group!)…

Just this morning I got a text from a friend who works with youth in a small congregation…a group of kids who want to be active, have good hearts, but just cannot afford the large hotel-housed youth events that are doing much good these days.  I am going to suggest an event for your boys that will cost you nothing but gas to get there and may possibly even exceed (in individual hearts) the great good done at a mega-youth event. I say this because of the subject material and because I’m a little biased regarding the speaker.

If you have boys in your home or youth group, please consider the following. I can personally attest to the fact that, if your boys take to heart the material presented  from the Word on January 17th at Fairview and if they make the practical applications in their lives (applications that will be clearly taught in this short seminar), they will live the rest of their teen years in purity and become leaders in godly homes.

I’d pay a lot of money and drive a long way for that kind of training. But you don’t have to pay a lot! Free admission, free housing for out-of-town guests in Christian homes, free breakfast and lunch, and a free t-shirt?!  It’s like getting all the best things about an EU or a EYC or a CYC (or some other letters) without the cost that might be prohibitive. It’s also a great event for dads and sons to attend together. (Makes for some great family Bible time discussions later on.)

Your guys will hear about dating behavior, leadership skills, how to combat the temptations pornography presents in our world, and how to make spiritually healthy media choices. They will hear about the way real men choose women of faith and then how they treat those godly women.

So here’s the lowdown. Be sure and make your reservation within the next few days. The t shirt will be the least valuable thing your guys come away with, but still, they will want one!

Boys to Men:  Doing it God’s Way 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

Time:  9 am to 2pm

Speaker: Glenn Colley

@ Fairview church of Christ, Pulaski, TN

1765 Industrial Loop Road, Pulaski, 38478

**Breakfast and Lunch provided

**Out of town housing available on a first come first serve basis.  We will do our very best to make sure everyone has a place to stay.

Also find us on FB.

Free T-shirts available if you pre-register by January 7, 2015

Link to register: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1TbcIZOd_1T1jmYLnqGlf8z0IXsNe31iTsgh040v5JA0/viewform

 

Boys to Men: Doing it God’s Way 2015 – Registration Form

docs.google.com

Sister to Sister: For Teens Today – Be Picky!

CraneYou probably remember from somewhere back in 2nd grade a paperback English workbook that had .all those fill-in-the-blank sentences in which you were to write homographs….No?…You don’t remember?

Well, for those who are rusty, a homograph is a word that’s spelled and pronounced exactly like another word, but it means something totally different. Here’s an example:

We can store the extra food in the freezer.
Let’s go to the tire store and look at a new set of Michelins.

There are lots of these words of course, but I recently wrote a children’s book that had a lot to do with one particular set of homographs. It’s about the word pick. Now you may not be interested in a children’s book, but the concept of picking is pretty important all the way through high school and even college.

One kind of pick is “to choose,” as in “Did you pick study hall, yearbook or track-and-field for seventh period this year?” Another kind of pick means “to pluck,” as in “Eve picked the fruit from the tree and shared it with Adam.” (Another kind of pick is like picking your nose and yet another is like a dental pick or an ice pick, but we’ll save those for another day.)

Picking is very important when it comes to dating and marriage. You can pick (as in choose) who you think you might marry a bunch of times. I picked a red-headed boy named Robert when I was in the seventh grade. I just knew that one day we would live together in a little white cottage with a white picket fence and we’d have a little girl named Roberta. Unfortunately, Robert was in the ninth grade and he probably never even knew I got a flutter in my insides if he ever looked at me. Sad, but true.

In another sense, though, it’s not really all that sad. Robert “got over” me (I’m sure that was stressful for him…) and I moved on to a few more dream picks.

But pluck-picking is altogether different. See, once you plck an apple from a tree, you can never put it back, and once you’ve picked a husband or wife and plucked him or her from that world of single people, you can never put him/her back. He/she is yours forever!

Jesus said it this way:

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

The picking is very important. You can choose and re-choose in your mind (and you should do it very carefully as you honor God’s laws of purity) until you slip on the golden band of wedlock. But, regardless of what the world thinks about the ease of slipping from one marriage relationship to another…regardless of how effortless it seems for the celebrities to “move on” from one partner to another, once you’ve plucked a marriage partner, your committed in the eyes of your Father for the rest of your life.

Be choosy when you pick (choose), but be as sure as you can be when you pick (pluck)! You can’t put the apple back!

This article by Cindy Colley first appeared in Kaio e-zine, Kaio Publishing

Sister to Sister: Q and A – Secondary Virginity?

womanquestionQuestion: I went to a youth rally recently and there was a girls’ class and the question was asked about sex before marriage. A lady on the panel said that you can regain your virginity by “second time virginity.” Some of my girls from the youth group came to me to ask if “… it’s ok to have sex before marriage because based on what she said you can have sex and repent and you can regain your virginity?”

Response: While some may believe that virginity is a commodity that can be restored once surrendered, I do not believe that to be the case any more than a peeled apple can be restored to the state of fresh and uncut. I believe the restoration of virginity is a physical impossibility.

Someone might argue that, since God has promised to purify sinners upon their repentance of sins and the meeting of His conditions of purity, that such purification restores them, as women who have engaged in premarital sex, to the same state of guiltlessness as the girl who has never had sex, thus reclaiming that status of virginity.

It is true that purity of soul can mercifully be restored after the child of God sins. How thankful am I every day that this is true. It is true that the young unmarried girl who has given in to sexual temptation and lost her virginity can be forgiven. She can be as white and pure before God as the one who has guarded her virginity. Should they both die in a covenant relationship with the Father, both will reach the safety of the arms of Jesus.

But it is simply not the case that both of these young women are virgins, because of the definition of the word and because of its use in the Scriptures.

Genesis 24:16 aptly defines the word for us:

And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.

Leviticus 21:13-14, in describing whom the high priest was to marry, would make little sense if a virgin could have been one who had previously been sexually active. It is clearly instructing the priest to marry a woman who has never been sexually active:

And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.

The first part of Deuteronomy 22 is a section of scripture that would be futile in inclusion in the law and in application if a virgin damsel was anything other than a sexually untouched female. In this passage, virginity was clearly a physical state that hinged on abstinence from sexual activity rather than a state of purity of heart before God.

Perhaps the strongest passages about the true meaning of virginity have to do with the immaculate conception of our Savior. If a virgin could possibly be someone who has known a man sexually, then Mary could have, at the time of the birth of Jesus, been a penitent fornicator!

But, just as the prophet Isaiah foretold, the Lord was born of a virgin…a woman who had not known a man:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Is. 7:14).

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1:23).

Mary, herself, defined the state of virginity for us when she asked of the angel, “How shall this thing be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34).

For the truly penitent fornicator, perhaps there is comfort in calling the purified state a sort of “second virginity.” I do not want to subtract from the comfort found in forgiveness. Every sinner should claim the release and peace that comes when we begin again in purity and holiness before a merciful God. His forgiveness is certain. His cleansing is thorough. But this blessing, as wonderful as it is, does not make a woman who has “known a man” become a virgin again.

One more illustration: Suppose I am entering a second marriage after my first husband left me for another woman. Perhaps I feel much sorrow and experience deep regret as I contemplate my earlier decision to marry my first husband. Perhaps I truly wish this could be my first marriage and that the previous marriage could simply be “erased.” I can enter a God-approved marriage. I can please God in this new relationship. I can have a wonderful second marriage. But I will still be a woman who has been previously married. It is an experience that is simply part of my history.

Premarital sex is kind of like that first marriage. One can, after having sexual relations and later meeting God’s terms of pardon, be as pure in the eyes of God as any virgin. She can be as dedicated to Him as any virgin may be. She can be as holy in her present relationships as any virgin may be. But she will still be a woman who surrendered her virginity. That surrender is an experience that is simply a part of her history. When and if someone to whom she is contemplating giving her life in marriage asks the question, “Are you a virgin?”, the answer she must give is “No.”

Fornication can be forgiven. But it, like other sins, will still bring regret and unpleasant consequences in the present life. (I Corinthians 6:18).

Sister to Sister: Seminar with a Guarantee

unmadebedA father who wears the name “Christian” reveals to his recently divorced wife and to his teenage children that he is a practicing homosexual. A young minister’s wife leaves her husband for another man. A young married couple walk down the aisle to ask for the prayers of their church family as they struggle to hold a marriage together in the wake of revelations of adultery on the parts of both spouses. A young woman, raised in the body, lashes out at Christians who try to convince her to stop living in fornication with her boyfriend. A young woman stops just short of fornication after inviting a friend into her apartment when he drops by to return something she had left in his car. She’s not sure if he is a married man or not.

These scenarios have a few things in common. First, they are all real scenarios–situations about which Glenn or I have been contacted within the last two weeks. Second, and sadly, they all involve people who were once faithful New Testament Christians. Third, they all involve sexual sin.

The devil loves to attack the people of God with sexual temptation. He did it to one of the families in the church of Christ at Corinth (I Corinthians 5). He did it to the church in Thyatira through that wicked woman, Jezebel, in Revelation 2:20. We should never let our guards down in our homes and congregations when it comes to sexual purity. If the devil can get us to succumb to fornication, he has succeeded in defiling our temples (I Cor. 6:19), inflicting injury to our bodies (I Cor. 6:18), grasping glory from our Lord (I Cor. 6:20) and endangering our congregations (I Cor, 5: 6). It’s a big win for the devil.

Through our society, which is saturated with pornography, sexual content in entertainment venues and so-called “tolerance of sexual choices”, our children are often targeted by Satan at very early ages. In fact, I would venture to say that if your children enter God-approved marriages having maintained sexual purity throughout the dating years, it will not be accidental. It will result from intentional parenting and early decision-making that happens primarily in the home.

But intentional parents will also take advantage of resources that help enable kids to make early choices for purity. Let me illustrate it this way:

Suppose I told you that a seminar was occurring in a couple of weeks about ACT test preparation. Suppose I told you that tips would be given at this seminar and that I could guarantee that, if you diligently applied all of these tips, your child would be able to score a 33 or above on the ACT during her senior year of high school. You, being the smart mom you are, would have made your plans in the first thirty seconds of a New York minute to be at that seminar.

Suppose I told you that a seminar was occurring in a couple of weeks about preparation for sexual purity. Suppose I told you that tips would be given at this seminar and that I could guarantee that, if you diligently applied all of these tips, your child would be able to navigate the single years in sexual purity. Would you make plans to be at that seminar?

The difference between the two scenarios may be more than singular. But one difference is this: No one can guarantee your child a 30 on the ACT. But I really can guarantee that tips will be given at any purity seminar at which I speak that, if diligently applied, will take your child through the single years in purity. This, of course, is true, not because I’m giving the advice, but because it emanates from the Creator Who knows what’s good for your child and Who made a way of escape from every temptation (I Cor. 10:13).

I understand that you can get this advice without coming to a seminar (We all read the same book.) I know it may not be possible for you to come. I know your child can navigate the teen years in purity even if she doesn’t come to a seminar. Many have successfully done it. All the same, though, using every tool available is a great idea in this sex-saturated climate.

So here is just one upcoming seminar. If you live within driving distance of Pulaski, Tennessee, I hope to see you there. It’s just one stop on a long journey we’re making together to a place where impurity will be a thing of the past. Can’t wait for that! Register Here!

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