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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: What We Want Them to Know

The questionnaireBelow is an often requested list. Perhaps it has been posted before, but some are having trouble finding it (including me), so here it is again. These are the things we wanted our kids to know before leaving home for college. Thus, we tried to make sure we were including all of them regularly in conversation and in our family Bible times. I hope they are helpful to you. Perhaps you have your own list. Ours is certainly not THE list. It is just one template. When you include one of the items from your list in your Bible time, put a check mark beside it, to help keep track. Teachers in public schools have standards-of-learning lists and superiors check to make sure each subject or skill is covered a certain number of times each semester. Should we be less systematic in covering the spiritual essentials?

What-I-Want-Them-to-Know List:

  1. God Created the universe in 6 literal 24-hour days.
  2. The Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God.
  3. The story of the entire Bible
  4. The names of the books of the Bible in order.
  5. God the father, God the Son and God, the Holy Spirit compose the Godhead. They are all deity, but their roles in securing our salvation are all different.
  6. Both heaven and hell are real literal places of eternal bliss and eternal torment, respectively.
  7. The main theme of every chapter in the book of Acts.
  8. Christ has one church and all saved people have been added to that church.
  9. Denominationalism is not a biblical concept.
  10. All spiritual blessings are in Christ and baptism is what puts people into Christ.
  11. Baptism is immersion and it is for the remission of sins.
  12. How to teach someone the gospel of Christ.
  13. Biblical authority derived from Biblical commands, examples or necessary inferences is needed for the organization and worship practices of the church.
  14. Church discipline is commanded, including withdrawal of fellowship for persistence in a lifestyle of sin.
  15. Sex is one of God’s good and perfect gifts when and only when reserved for a God approved marriage.
  16. If you marry, you must marry a Christian who is, by definition, a follower of Christ.
  17. There are early decisions that are most useful in avoiding sexual temptation and they will be accessible in our home.
  18. Fornication is the only Biblically acceptable reason for divorce and remarriage.
  19. Homosexuality is not merely an alternate lifestyle. It is a sin.
  20. All beverage alcohol should be avoided.
  21. The viewing of pornography is an addictive sin that must be avoided at all costs.
  22. Entertainment is optional and will be eliminated if it interferes with seeking the kingdom first.
  23. The way that we minister to Christ is by ministering to those around us who have needs. We will serve Christ.
  24. Work is honorable and a prerequisite to the privilege of eating.
  25. The revelation of God’s Will for humankind has been completed. There will be no further revelation.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“But don’t you even want to know who I kissed?”

Last Wednesday my husband hurried off to the post office with a truck-load of Digging Deep t-shirts to mail. We had a gajillion of you to order those shirts on that last go-around and only a few were local deliveries—shirts that we were going to hand off to a neighbor or take to our West Huntsville family to deliver. One of those few hand-deliverable envelopes looked like this:

So Flori was supposed to get her shirt at Bible class on Wednesday night. But her package was accidentally placed (by Glenn) in the big bins of shirts going to the post office. 

Next, you should know that our postmistress is amazing. Mrs. M, we will call her, is efficient and so kind to let us leave our bulk bins of packages with her in the morning, along with whatever cash she estimates the mailing will cost, so she can work on them throughout the day. But even Mrs. M cannot figure out what to do with a package that looks like Flori’s.

So she sent Glenn this text message, along with the above photo:  “ …don’t know what to do with this one.” 

Obviously Mrs. M needed an address. Glenn, however saw the message, failed to look at the number, and assumed it was from me. Oblivious to the fact that he was talking to the USPS, he texted back: “I had a note that Flori requested one.”  Then he added his signature “X” —a kiss that I receive in almost every text. Yes. He sent the postmistress a kiss. 

Mrs. M, thinking Glenn had “gone round the bend,” replied: “…but there was no address on package.” She added three of those little emojis of bewildered women shrugging their shoulders.

Glenn, still thinking he was talking to me, responded pertinaciously “She’s a member at West Huntsville. Couldn’t we just hand it to her?!” He still thought he was texting his wife and he thought  I was the one who’d “gone round the bend.”

At which time, the poor postmistress texted. “Yes.  I was just letting you know it was in the box of stuff you brought for me to mail.” This time she added three of the “laugh-till-you-cry” emojis.

At that moment Glenn realized he was talking to Mrs. M instead of Cindy. It also occurred to him that he’d sent the wrong woman that kiss. 

“OHHHH! I thought I was talking to Cindy. I’ll pick up the package later today.” 

  1. I’m glad my husband is a man of integrity. The postmistress completely trusts him to pay any overage at the end of the day for those packages he’s dropped off. 
  2. I’m glad my husband is a man of integrity. He confessed to me later that night that he’d kissed another woman. I was in a hurry to get to class when he made that confession. I said, “Well, you’ll have to explain that later,” without one fretful thought in my head. Glenn said “Don’t you even want to know?!” He is a faithful husband in every way.
  3. I’m glad my husband is a man of integrity. His “in sickness and in health” vow extends to “in shallow times and in digging deep times.” I think he’s mailed a thousand packages in the last few days for me. 
  4. I’m glad my husband is a man of integrity. Whenever I do “go “round the bend” (if I beat him to the bend), he is still going to be kind to me and text me kisses.

But he should still probably check the number accompanying the text to which he’s responding. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: “Mammy, I want to tell you…”

Ezra, my 4-year-old grandson, just called to tell me about the baptisms that are occurring tonight after a Bible study that his parents have been conducting with a couple that visited the marriage seminar at Edgewood recently. This is blessing my world tonight in so many ways and on so many levels. 

The obvious and most important is that two souls are being washed tonight. Two precious souls added to the body of Christ. Two souls saved by the mercy of God and the blood of Jesus (Romans 6:1-4)

The second reason that what’s happening right now is pivotal is that these two people being baptized are parents of very small children. That means that these kids, from this night forward, will be parented by intentional, devoted Christians—people who are directing them with eternity always in the forefront. It means that whatever brokenness or spiritual poverty may have existed in the former generations, no longer has to exist. Tonight is the forging of the first link in a chain that can be unbroken—each generation forging its own link and each generation guiding the next to faithfulness. These small children will never have to remember a time when their parents were walking away from the Lord. 

The third thing that’s wonderful is that I’m basking in the joy that a mother gets in knowing the next generation is evangelistic. It’s not always easy and pretty to be conducting Bible studies with a two-year-old and a four-year-old in tow. It’s not always easy to offer hospitality, to make sure that your children and those who belong to the ones who are hungering for the gospel are quiet enough, so that concentration on truth can occur in the next room. It’s not always easy, but it is always eternally gratifying. 

And that’s the part that makes a grandmother’s heart sing: “Mammy, this is Ezwa…. I want to tell you that Mrs. Kiki and Mr. Lavardo and Jo-Jo and all of them are going to get to go to heaven now. Dey WEALLY are. It’s because I been so good to dem and Cohweenanna has, too. We been teachin’ dem about God. Dey have already been baptized tonight.” 

Well, you and I know that they will not go to heaven because Hannah and Ben’s son has been good to them. They will, just like you and me, get to go to heaven because God’s Son has been so good to them. All the same, I’m happy that Hannah and Ben are putting joy into Ezra and Colleyanna when souls are reached with this good news. I’m glad she is showing them that they can have a part in someone coming to know the Lord. I hope they will get to experience this ultimate bliss over and over in their lives.  

It is ultimate bliss for this lifetime. Only heaven can be better than this. 

Tomorrow, I am going to go and teach women lessons from Titus 2. Because of tonight’s little four-year-old testimony of the power of parenthood, I’m going to speak the truths about motherhood with a little more conviction…perhaps with a little more clarity. The future of the body of Christ is dependent on what parents are putting into the hearts of their children. I’m so thankful for parents who are serious about the transferral of their families to that eternal home around the throne. And I’m supremely grateful for that sweet couple in Georgia who woke up this morning in an unwashed and lost state. Tonight, they are going to bed washed and heaven-bound. What blessed children will be sleeping down the hall from them!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Did You Know? You Can Do what Mary Did.

 

Since God chose not to tell us on which calendar day our Savior was born, I don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday that has more spiritual significance than any other of the 364 days of the year.  But I do find it refreshing that there is at least one time of the year when the rest of the world dares to speak His name in various public venues. Sometimes the moments of giving and instances of forgiving that occur during the holidays grab my emotions and stir my spirit. Even our own little family traditions give me pause to remember the extreme blessings of family and of the traditions themselves. This year, more than ever, I am learning that memory is a precious gift.

There is one particular set of lyrics that I usually hear at some point in the holidays that evokes emotions and memories in me like most other songs cannot. The song is “Mary, Did You Know?” You know Mary really did hold the infant who had walked where angels trod. When she kissed her little baby, she kissed the face of God. God put His Son, who through infinite time had been far above all earthly principalities and powers, in the hands of a poor Jewish maiden. She slowly recovered from her labor and delivery to realize that she would truly recover with the rest of penitent humanity through His delivery.

And yet, God was flesh. She got to nurse the King of Kings. His tiny finger wrapped around hers and she smiled, too, when she saw God smiling up at her from her breast. She tended His diaper rashes, placed compresses on His fevered brow and buckled on His first pair of sandals. She heard Him speak his first word, and He stumbled into Her arms when he first walked. She probably kissed that first skinned knee and taught the Lord to count. She made His first bowl of broth and she probably fried the first fish he caught. She took him to the market and to the place of worship. She gently rocked the One who gives eternal rest to all those who are weary and heavy laden. She laid him in his little crib.

And Cindy Colley got to do all of those things with her son, too. Have you ever stopped to think that, if you are a  mom, God has allowed you the privilege to spend your days in the same pursuits, the same everyday activities, the same world of constant wonder, as Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus did? Oh, I know that our babies are not divine, but I suggest that there was little if any difference in the practical expectations placed on Mary and those placed upon any mother among the people of God today. She bathed, clothed, fed, tended, and disciplined the Son of God and Man for his eternal purpose. I bathed, clothed, fed, tended, and disciplined my son of Man for his eternal purpose; so that he would one day become a son of God; a joint heir with Christ. I just find it a blessing in the extreme that I can nurture in precisely the same way that the chosen mother of Christ could nurture.

Now sometimes I think about Mary’s perspective of motherhood. What if she had found the mundane activities of home and family boring and unfulfilling? What if she had wanted more–more than dirty diapers, runny noses and all that noise with all those kids all day? What if her ambitions “outgrew” meeting the needs of that poor carpenter’s family? What if Mary had just rebelled against that primary purpose for which God had prepared her?

“Well, that’s ridiculous,” you may be thinking. She was the mother of the Christ-child. She knew her role was important. She knew her motherhood would transcend time and reach eternity. Yes. She did.

And so should I. Corporations, positions, dollars, houses, cruises, karate lessons, electronic devices, entertainment venues and expensive educations will all be worthless in the final analysis. But the things that mothers do and that money can’t buy will transcend time and reach eternity. My child will never be God. But my child will be God’s. He will never be the Redeemer, but the Redeemed. Never the Savior, but ever the saved.

When Mary kissed her baby boy, she kissed the face of God. The Holy Child she delivered would soon deliver her…and you and me. So, you blessed mother, when you kiss the soft cheek that lies against your breast today, savor the moment. Savor the blessing of doing right now—today– just what Mary did. Savor the chance to wipe the noses, change the diapers, tend (or ignore) the whines, and read the stories.  Mary did it for the great I AM. And that ‘s the same great I AM who still superintends the passage of that precious child from your arms to His!

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know

that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?

This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?

Did you know

that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?

When you kissed your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know…

The blind will see.

The deaf will hear.

The dead will live again.

The lame will leap.

The dumb will speak

The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know

that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know

that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?

The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

(article adapted from the Bless Your Heart archives)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: The Devil Knows the Powerball Numbers (and he likes them!)

powerball-winnersNo one got the right combination of Powerball numbers on Saturday. That means that by next Wednesday the jackpot will be around 1.3 billion dollars. I watched on the local news as people from Huntsville drove in large numbers across the Tennessee line to convenience and liquor stores in a driving rain to purchase the tickets.

I’m sitting in a quiet place just thinking about the gambling industry in the United States. It’s not rocket science to figure out that the gamblers are not the real monetary winners in the lottery, at the slot machine, in the online poker games or at the casinos. The house always wins. Of course, gambling, as an industry, exists because of the money that can be made at the expense of those who play.  In fact, last Saturday, the odds of an individual winning the lottery were one in 292.2 million.  People don’t gamble because there’s money in gambling. The statistical truth is, the more you gamble, the more you lose. That’s just the way the gambling numbers crunch.

So why? What is it that made Americans spend about $700,000,000 last weekend on a venture that yielded nothing for almost every investor? Why do people put money into something that has known odds like 292.2 million-to-one of winning.

If it were only about people who are financially set playing around with some discretionary income, there would still be a lot wrong with gambling, but, those of us who have seen the effects of gambling up-close know that it is often about children going hungry and marriages suffering. It’s about dishonesty, theft and extortion. When the gambler is addicted, it involves a loss of control that’s just as real and difficult to regain as any slavery to drugs, alcohol or sex.

It’s the reason for gambling, of course, that makes it wrong in the first place. Gambling is an immoral ethic brought to the gaming level. Gambling is borne of a desire to gain something of a material nature at the expense of every other involved party. In other words, to gamble, you have to wish that everyone else would lose money so that you can gain. It’s an ethic that violates the golden rule. Secondly, of course, it’s wrong if it replaces the healthy work ethic that the Bible commands Christians to maintain.  It would be sinful, of course, when a Father neglects the command to provide for his own family (I Timothy 5:8) while wasting the family income in gaming. That man is worse than an infidel according to this passage. Finally, the very fact that it is addictive makes it wrong. If an action has the propensity to overtake the will of a human being to the point that he can no longer deny himself the engagement in it, he becomes its slave and destructive behaviors and consequences necessarily follow.

Perhaps more important, though, to me today, than showing the reasons gambling is wrong (I believe the smart women who are reading are generally already convinced of that.) is helping our kids and grandkids to avoid becoming involved. There have been people with whom my husband has counseled who have lost so many very valuable commodities because of gambling addictions: houses, family trust, jobs, respect of community, college scholarships, relationships with children, relationships with God—and the list goes on. I’ve seen children denied the privilege of competent parents. I’ve seen them discover that their parents had squandered their (the children’s) money intended for college. I’ve seen children embarrassed beyond what I could describe when they understood their parents had deceived people they know and love—all because of a gambling addiction. The children still love their mom or dad. They still desperately want to respect them, but life has fallen apart and the security these children once enjoyed is permanently laid to rest in a memory.

I don’t want our kids to grow up and be vulnerable to this kind of destruction by Satan. But, rest assured, as governments around us continue to promote this evil, more and more of our children will fall prey to gambling addictions, particularly with the easy accessibility of internet gambling today. Hawaii and Utah are currently the only states with no forms of legal gambling. It has been proven that accessibility to gambling drives the problem and addicted gambler numbers up. States, like Nevada, with many casinos, have far higher rates of addicted gamblers. Some experts now believe that a full ten percent of Nevada’s children are at risk to grow up and be problem gamblers.

But the government promotion and wide acceptance of gambling only exacerbates the ultimate damage done. More and more gamblers become addicted. It’s just math and the devil knows the numbers. The more venues, the more addicts. The more addicts, the more devastation. More than half of pathological gamblers end up stealing money. The average Gamblers Anonymous member will have spent all of his or her money and accrued debts between $35,000 and $92,000 before even seeking help. Thousands file for bankruptcy and many who can’t be helped commit suicide.

My point is this. Our kids, because they have easier access to gambling venues than any previous generation in America, need us as parents to put defensive mechanisms in their little psyches early on. We can help them be forever free of this enslaving entrapment of the devil. I don’t know all of the answers, but surely we can notice some no-brainers with regard to gambling as we parent our children to freedom from sin. Here are half a dozen:

1. Don’t gamble. Now that’s an oversimplification, you may observe, but I find it pretty amazing that there are plenty of parents who would never will their children to be even weekend casino cruisers, much less desperate pathological gamblers, who will, themselves, stop off at the gas station and pick up a lotto ticket. Come on, parents. Don’t take your kids for little chumps. They see inconsistencies and they “listen” more to your life than your lips.

2. Don’t wink at the “innocent” gambling venues. Raffles (even for good causes), fairground gaming…all the things you may think of as  “little white” gambling, to borrow a figure of speech, can open the door to the bigger world of gaming. You may be cracking the door to a monster who will elbow his way in before you know it. Just say “no” in your home to all forms of gambling.

3. Talk about ethics with your kids. At every opportunity, bring your children real situations that you are observing around you. Have them help you decide what is fair and just and what course of action follows the golden rule. This will help them develop morality that will apply in a vast array of decision-making opportunities.

4. Make your children aware of situations in which gambling has brought devastation and destruction. You can find these easily online, but most of you probably know of situations personally from which your children can learn. You can reserve names in cases where your children may know the families, but it’s important for our kids to be able to learn from the mistakes of others.

5. Stay away from casinos. Some Christians are okay with vacationing in casino hotels and eating in casino restaurants. I find such very unwise. Why would we want to cheapen our family time together by being in a place of rampant sin? Why would we want to make our children feel comfortable in a place that’s responsible for the theft of morality and means from so many families? I don’t want to be there.

6. Let your children know that you are staying on top of politics in your community that involve gambling. Be sure to take them with you when you vote and let them know that you’re doing all you can to minimize the accessibility of gambling to the families in your community. Let them hear you pray for success in your fight against gambling, both in community and in the preparation of their hearts.

(And, by the way, don’t offer up that line about how you buy a ticket so that, if you win, you can do so much good and spread the gospel. If the end justifies the means, let’s go ahead and steal and extort, too…just as long as we plan to use the money we gain for good things.)

Resources:

http://bit.ly/1OJnxzp (Associated Press, ABC15.com)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/gamble/procon/horn.html (Frontline, Bernard Horn, “Is There a Cure for America’s Gambling Addiction?”)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: “We Have Contained Them…”

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 12: French troops patrol around the Eifel Tower on January 12, 2015 in Paris, France. France is set to deploy 10,000 troops to boost security following last week's deadly attacks while also mobilizing thousands of police to patrol Jewish schools and synagogues. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) 

The U.S. quote of the week has to be “We have contained them”.  It was President Barack Obama speaking with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. The subject of this containment? ISIS. And this statement was made only a few hours prior to the multiple attacks and carnage that awakened Paris to the horrific reality that 128 innocent citizens had been killed by ISIS terrorists and scores of others wounded.

This is not a political post, but ISIS did not look “contained” as it lit up the city with ambulance and police vehicle lights and as civilians who could still mobilize literally ran for their lives to places they only hoped would be safe from the carefully planned and executed destruction last Friday night in Paris.

That’s the way it is with our spiritual enemy Satan. He is not the kind of enemy we can, with one blast of spiritual energy, soundly defeat and bury forever. Sometimes we think we’ve “contained” him and, if we do, that’s the very time he is able to do the most damage to us…claim the most spiritual carnage. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). If it was flesh and blood, we could kill it and win. It’s principalities and powers. It’s rulers of the darkness of this world. It’s spiritual wickedness in high places. Fighting the devil is a lot like fighting ISIS, only on a massively huge scale. He’s an enemy that we can’t pin down, in this lifetime. In fact, even more resilient than ISIS, the devil is always seeking whom he may devour.(I Peter 5:8). I can never, in this world, say “The devil is contained. He is no longer a problem for me.” In fact, when I begin to feel smug in his containment and in my abilities, that’s when He’s more likely to attack.  Thus Paul’s warning in I Corinthians 10:12: “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” He (Paul) knew that even he, the chosen apostle, had to wrestle constantly to contain Satan—to keep him from reducing the fighting soldier to a “castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27).

Maybe the scariest part about the attacks in Paris for those of us who live on this side of the Atlantic is the statement often found on ISIS-related sites: “American blood tastes the best and we will taste it soon.”  I do not want to ever give an ISIS terrorist the satisfaction or impetus that comes with knowing that  Americans are fearful. But the obvious mood of America must now be, in spite of any words about containment, one of great trepidation. We are an obvious target and we pray that our leaders will find ways to protect U.S citizens from this evil.

The spiritual parallel is glaring. Christians are the target of our enemy, the devil. He is not spending his resources and time trying to tempt those who are already under his power. He wants the blood that is best. He wants those who have the blood of his arch enemy, Jesus Christ.

He wants you and me. He wants our marriages. He wants our children. He wants our money. He wants our time. In fact, he wants me to be routinely going about my life—to the soccer matches, to the restaurants, to the concerts—and even to worship. He wants my ears to be dulled to his blasts and my senses to be secure thinking his attacks are just “part of the noise” that is my everyday routine—until I am a part of the eternal carnage…until my life is done and his destruction has no reversal.

I do not know that the powers-that-be in America are always wise enough to recognize and deter the destructive power of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. But I DO know that my spiritual leader is wise and strong enough to have already ultimately defeated His enemy, Satan. The devil will not take down the kingdom of Christ. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:16). But Satan can still destroy people who are in that kingdom and he would like to sift us a wheat (Luke 22:31). It’s important to remember if you are in the kingdom, you are targeted by the devil. You have the blood that tastes best to his diabolical senses. Yes, he is powerful Yes, he is unthinkably evil. Yes, he is that roaring lion. But your Lion, the Lion of Judah  (Revelation 5:5) is stronger and has already won the war on terror with the Devil. So don’t be a casualty in a war that’s already been decided. Be strong and courageous. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and discipline (II Timothy 1:7). Soldier on!