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Cindy Colley

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Here’s the Digger’s Special…(and the rainbow contest winners!)

If you’re planning to use Women of Scandal for the December and January studies, there’s a special price now here: https://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/FOR-DIGGERS-ONLY-Women-of-Scandal/p/158173372 . This special is for Diggers only and is good for as many copies as you need between now and January 1st. Alternately, of course, you can take your study for those months entirely from Scripture. The live podcasts and Dig-a-Bits will be applicable to either course you choose.

I’m learning  a lot about rainbows and clouds and His glory this month, even when the clouds overshadow human weakness and sin. But there’s so much more to study.  And you’ve been diligent rainbow hunters. Contest winners  and rainbow location, where reported, are as follows:

Celia Empett–Brownsville, TX

Michelle DeThierry–Australia

Jennifer Lyden–Jacksonville, FL

Meghan Allen–Cleveland, TN

Andrea Davis

Dorris Biggars–Summerville, TN

Mary Parker Lawson–Brownsville, TX

Sarah Ulrich–Memphis, Tn

Kathy Gulledge–Memphis, TN

Tammy Turner

Congrats to all the above. If you’ve not already done so, private message me your item of choice from The Colley House, along with your postal address (or email address in case of downloads). Lots of U.S. diggers are settling in to winters that promise to be physically or emotionally challenging. Seeing His glory through the study, through the winter, even in the hard  circumstances of life, will make us love and revere the awesome God that will, once again, color the world with the amazing hues of His mercy when the frosts and snows and winter rains have ceased. He is so faithful. Kabad!

So get your coffee and your Bible…

 

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

November: Thinking of Thanking

In the month when many are counting blessings, Christians have the longest lists; the bounty that others can’t approach. In fact, those who do not know Christ cannot even know that they don’t know how to be truly thankful. Let’s take a minute to look at the first chapters of one Old Testament book and one New Testament book as we contemplate gratitude as a starting point to holiness and, conversely, ingratitude as the genesis of immorality.

The first four chapters of Isaiah are anything but complimentary of the nation of Judah. In fact they are an indictment from the Lord; an indictment the likes of which rivals any of the arraigning passages of scripture. As I read Isaiah one yesterday, I could not help but be reminded of the New Testament condemnation of the heathen people found in Romans chapter one. I think it very interesting and relevant to America today that the dire state of both cultures began with the sin of ingratitude:

The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider (Is. 1:3).

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful… (Rom.1:21a).

It’s interesting, also, that when a recognition of the Source of good gifts and, thus, a glorification of that Source was missing, all sorts of vile behaviors and the acceptance of resultant atrocities became commonplace.

If you look, you can find that both cultures were characterized by those who were hypocritical, those who were unmerciful to the needy, those who were murderers and those who were idolaters. Today’s challenge is to locate these sins in Isaiah one and in Romans one. Also, notice the punishment promised in the last verse of each of the passages. It’s almost as if the two passages had the same Author!

Finally, as you contemplate these two cultures, separated by hundreds of years and by a big body of water, and yet so very much alike, contemplate one more culture: your own.

I was recently engaged in conversation with a woman who expressed to me her excitement that soon she would be able to quit her job. I was excited for her, but then she went on to explain that if she lowered her income to a certain level, then her rent would be paid by the government. With the extra money she would “make” by not having to pay rent and by collecting unemployment (if she could swing that), she would be able to pay her bills. In lowering her income, she would also lower her grocery bill, because she would be able to get government food stamps. Another woman recently became very angry at me when I told her that our congregation wished to apply a large amount of money to a medical debt she owed. The reason for her anger?…she thought she “deserved” to be given the cash to use as she saw fit.

It occurs to me that there is a large segment of our society that has adopted the “I deserve” mentality rather than the “I appreciate” mentality. People who choose not to work are among those who protest against the government and society for what they would call the “uneven distribution of funds,” thus biting the very hand that feeds them. (Is it any wonder when we look at Isaiah one and Romans one, that these protests are problematic, to say the least, because of violence and sex crimes?) School textbooks include large sections about the cultural celebration we know as Thanksgiving without making mention of the divine blessing Source that is the Benefactor of all. People throw around the word “right” as if it applies to every desire that pops into human consciousness: healthcare, privacy, home-ownership, insurance, even heaven. Girlfriends, some things that we enjoy are simply undeserved blessings!

Further, some people have even come to think about sin as a deserved privilege: the “right” to choose to kill my pre-born baby, the “right” to be happy and thus divorce my mate, the “right” to kill myself or my spouse if I/she grow(s) old or become(s) debilitated. One father even told his elders recently that his daughter “deserves to go to the prom”!

What we deserve is described in the last verse of each of these chapters:

And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them (Is. 1:31).

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Romans 1:32).

May we always acknowledge with the deepest possible human gratitude our allegiance to the plans and our awe at the power of the Giver of all good gifts. May we never forget our permanent status before Him of being undeserving of these gifts. It is only with gratitude in our hearts that we can avoid what comes, in these two chapters, between ingratitude and eternal death: hypocrisy, a lack of mercy, all manner of vile behaviors (including murder), and, at last, the making and worship of our own idols in place of the God who can deliver us from death.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Mark 10 and Maggie

It’s relevant to notice that Jesus said some words about receiving the kingdom of heaven as a little child right in between two very difficult teachings—teachings that were too hard for those to whom they were spoken. Here are the words of Jesus from Mark 10:

“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Just before that, Jesus had taught the still-disputed doctrine about how that second marriages, in cases where former partners are still living, are adulterous. That’s a hard teaching, both in the first century world and today. In fact, the strong wonder at the prohibition of remarriage was expressed, even by his own disciples, in the parallel passage, Matthew 19: 3-12. (That’s the passage in which Jesus does give the one exception for acceptable divorce and remarriage)

Then, following the statement about children and the kingdom comes the teaching to the rich young ruler about denying his possessions and following Christ—the teaching about surrendering all for the Lord. It was a teaching that made the ruler leave with a sad heart and in an undone condition before the Lord. It was just too hard. 

Have you ever thought about why this little episode of the children coming to the Lord was included by the Holy Spirit right in between the difficult and demanding teachings—the life altering responsibilities commanded by the Lord? 

Having spent the last few days with my grand-daughter Maggie, who is fifteen months old, I’ve been amazed by her sweet little spirit of compliance. Her eyes look at her parents like “What do you want me to do?” Her spirit is broken when they spank her (pretty gently) for inattention to their instructions or for momentary disobedience. They push her every single time to respond by saying “yes ma’am”or “yes sir.” They use those words each time already, although she is currently just nodding her assent, until she learns to form those words. But every single time she nods her submission and then is expected to proceed with obedience. It occurs to me that this is how, in a sense, she’s already receiving the kingdom. This is how we are to receive the kingdom; with unquestioning compliance and humility. And this is the opposite of the disposition   of the Pharisees, who came in an attempt to entrap the Lord. This is the antithesis of the heart of the rich young ruler who walked away. 

Here are five things about Maggie right now that are, in my judgment, characteristic of the hearts we are to have when receiving the kingdom: 

  1. She’s always looking at her parents to see if they are near and if they are approving. Are you looking to your Father and desiring His approval?
  2. It’s often through tears that she nods her assent to the instruction that she, at first, failed to obey. Are you learning from the sorrowful consequences of sin?
  3. She often says the actual word “obey” when she’s thinking about the will of her parents. Do you meditate on submission as you strive to be holy?
  4. The Bible is the one book of which she already knows the title. Is the Bible the most important source of information in your life? 
  5. When she hears the garage door open, she looks at her mother and says with excitement,   “Dada?” She’s always looking for His coming. Are you watching for the coming?

And while we are at it, give some grace to this Mammy while she tells you a few more things that are pretty special about Maggie Joy Colley. Seriously, you don’t have to read. These are here so I can remember these precious Maggie/Mammy days. 

  1. 5:50 a.m. is my favorite time with Maggie. No one else is up and so I can steal in and take her from the crib when she awakens and she comes to lay in my bed with me and we just talk about eggs and “bendas” (bananas) and apples (her first perfect two-syllable word, except “Mama” and “Mimi” and “Mammy”.) Do you notice a theme here in her morning conversation? Eating is her passion.
  2.  She wants to wear my jewelry and my keys around her neck. She wants to be “big”  like Mammy. Everything she wants is indicated by sign language. She signs the word “more”. That means so much more…than more. It means “I have a request. Can you try and figure out what it is?”
  3. She found a tiny little man drawn on the sticker inside her kiddie pool. He’s about a quarter of an inch tall and he is on that sticker to warn parents about the dangers of drowning in that little six-inch pool. She’s obsessed with that little man on that sticker and every morning she remembers to ask to go out and see “man”. If you don’t understand what “man” means, she leads you to the back door and points at that pool. (Can you see that tiny little sticker?)
  4. Everything including the counter, the bed, the scooter, the suitcase—everything you can get up on—is a “vroom-vroom”.
  5. She wants to choose which color diaper she wears. (Those cloth diapers do offer a much bigger variety these days.)
  6. She loves to look at my Plunder necklace that has my mother and me in a locket; only she points to my mother and says “Papa” over and over. Is there a resemblance between her late great-grandmother and Glenn? Hmmm.
  7. Her favorite book, and the only one of which she knows the title, is the Bible. 
  8. Her favorite time of the day is Bible time, with the possible exception of every snack time. She loves any food that’s in a package. 
  9. We take long walks together and when I point to the moon and say “Who made the moon?” she’s learned to answer “Dod did.”
  10. Her mother has emphasized that what the Bible says is that “Jesus loves Maggie,” so when we ask her what the Bible is about, she says “Me!”
  11. Her favorite animal is a dog. Her favorite thing to watch on TV (well, really her only thing) is classic Winnie the Pooh (just the 2.5 minute theme song, but she can boogie to that). Her favorite food group is fruit and she REALLY loves those fruit puree pouches. We may or may not have made a couple of impulse purchases while we were out shopping. 
  12. She can stay quietly in a shopping cart for an extraordinarily long time, just looking at all the amazing things on shelves and racks, while pointing out all dogs and bendas and apples and vroom-vrooms.
  13. She has some “dog” house slippers. They are way too big for her feet, so I put them on over her real shoes. She waves at the dogs, in turn, once she gets them on her feet. Then she sticks  her legs up under her high chair tray and feeds the dogs part of her breakfast. (Darcy, the real dog, loves that game!)
  14. Transferring items from one container to the other is her favorite activity. 
  15. She’s perfect.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Refrigerator-Door Kids

It hurt down deep in my heart when a grandmother was telling me recently about her adopted grandchild. He’s a teenager now and all the things he loves to eat are the things you’d find in the door of the refrigerator. He loves butter and jars of peppers and ketchup and salad dressing and jelly. 

Enquiring a little further, I found that the reason for his acquired tastes for the “fridge-door-foods” is that those jar foods were pretty much how he stayed alive during the early years of his life. Rescued from a home where the parents were addicted to drugs and neglectful of the child’s needs, the young child had eaten what he could reach—the stuff in the bottom of the refrigerator door. 

While this is tragic and happens all too often, it occurs to me that we may have refrigerator-door-fed kids in a spiritual sense, too. Maybe there are those, even within our churches, who are spiritually malnourished; kids growing up in homes where there’s no significant provision made for a meaty diet of rich and soul-saving spiritual nutrition. If there’s no family Bible time, only sporadic prayers offered before meals, and no attention given to preparation for Bible classes on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, children are left to ingest only what’s available in other homes they may visit or the precious little that occurs in Sunday School. ( Bible class teachers are extremely limited in the time they are given with students.) When there are no Bible classes in the daily school, and the Deuteronomy 6:4-6 kind of parental teaching conversations are rare, then kids are going to make poor ethical and social decisions using underdeveloped and malnourished spiritual muscles. They’re learning from that to which they have access: usually television, peers, and school—a combination that, generally, fails at instilling spiritual values that can navigate to and through a life of faith that leads to heaven. Occasionally, someone else steps in with needed sustenance and children avoid spiritual disease and disaster, but, more often than not, spiritual refrigerator-door-kids don’t grow into faithful and godly adults. More often than not, their chances for heaven, as they emerge into adulthood, are just not great. 

Of course, there are exceptions. And, yes, of course, a well-fed child can grow up and walk away from the good stuff, making choices to eliminate the substantial teachings of the Word and to substitute the ear-tickling subjectivism that permeates religion in our world today. But just because our babies could grow up and eat junk when they go away to college, would we just surrender their health, early on, and allow them to eat only the stuff in the door? 

Quick take-away today: 

Try this weekly family Bible time routine, for a month, for a more purposeful spiritual diet at your house:  

Sunday: Souls….Think of someone your family knows who needs to know the Lord and have the children write out an invitation to an event at your congregation, an encouraging note, or a passage of scripture. Then pray, as a family, for this soul or family of souls. Work your way toward asking for a Bible study. Let the kids be a part of evangelism. 

Monday: Memorization…Have the children learn one passage of scripture during this family time. Keep working till you can say it together. Be sure they know what it means. Start with verses for the steps of salvation. Be sure to ask them to repeat this verse throughout the week. 

Tuesday: Test…make a game of testing your childrens’ memories about a familiar Bible account. Take turns asking each one a question (age-level appropriate) and keep score. Have a small prize for the winner. (…like the winner gets to stay up 15 minutes later and have strawberry milk!)

Wednesday: Worship…Have the children take turns choosing songs of praise and sing for fifteen minutes. Then repeat the memory verse and have one of them lead a closing prayer. 

Thursday…Think. Begin at the beginning of the Bible at creation and relate the account of the first couple of days of creation. Have them think of an example of something you saw that very day that had its beginning right there on day one or two or three. Have them think of something you ate that would not have existed without that part of the creation. Have them think of those who do not use these blessings to His glory. What are some ways we do use these blessings for our God’s glory? Can they think of someone in Scripture who used these blessings in a bad way?  (…like Esau and the pottage or like the rich fool who built bigger barns.) Each Thursday of the month, introduce new material and present scenarios for thought.

Friday: Foundations—Take your “What We Want Them to Know” list (https://thecolleyhouse.org/?s=what+I+want+them+to+know )and cover one thing on that list from some Biblical account. Hammer down the point at hand. Repeat your week’s memory verse. 

Saturday: Service Day—Read a New Testament passage about salt or light or service or humility or feet washing (so many to pick from) and choose a service project ( a nursing home visit, making cards, making cookies for visitors, picking flowers for a lonely person, going to read the Bible to a blind person or making thank you letters for teachers, etc…). Pray for those you re serving.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

It Takes a SPARK!

SPARK, Hot Springs, is in the books now and I am going to keep touting the spiritual advantages of attending one of the SPARK lectureships when one of these programs, jointly hosted by Polishing the Pulpit and a local church, visits your area. There are some things you can count on in a SPARK program. One is sound teaching and lots of it. Another is a feeling that your hosts really want you to be there and are appreciative of the distances driven and the effort expended by those attending. Yet one more is the sweet fellowship that grows into lifelong Christian friendships within the community of fellow believers with whom you are spending the week. 

I often hear of the good old days when gospel meetings lasted for a couple of weeks and multiple baptisms occurred. I think those two-week meetings really had nothing on this intensive lectureship that included more lessons than a two-week gospel meeting and likely fewer distractions from the world in between the messages from the pulpit. And this lectureship included three baptisms as of the time I left. One young lady, Callie, confessed the Lord and put him on in baptism prior to the beginning of the service on Tuesday night. Then later, as the invitation song was being sung, another young lady, walked down the aisle and asked to be immersed for the remission of sins. Then as we bowed for the closing prayer, a dad shouted from the back, “Wait, we’re not done yet,” and one more was baptized before we went home. (Their pictures are here.) I could have stayed and done that all night! SPARK could be the catalyst–the spark–for the kind of zeal and Bible knowledge that characterized those good old days in the mid twentieth century when the church was spreading like wild fire. Sparks make wild fires!

My favorite session was the Digging Deep class we had on Monday. We had fourteen congregations of diggers represented from seven states. If you don’t think that kind of meeting is exhilarating, your shovel is dull. It was an amazingly encouraging fellowship representing a larger and purposeful study fellowship. God is just good all the time, but you see glory clearly in a room full of diggers who are chiming in with enthusiasm about nuggets they’ve found on the glory dig. 

But it’s also hard to top the “response” we had in the women’s class on Tuesday. That was the day we discussed the command to love our husbands from Titus 2. We discussed how that love, in that passage is phileo in the Greek—friendship love.  I urged women to find something they could enjoy doing with their husbands; to even learn to love some hobby that’s important to a spouse. So one brave soul went home that night to a husband who asked her for the thousandth time to try and “get a deer” with him. “I’ve got one in my sights, already,” he said and you don’t know how much I would love for you to kill this deer. All sorts of things that she’d rather do came quickly to mind (You know, dishes, washing her hair, having a root canal…) And then phileo, from our class, came to mind and she  said “Okay, let me try.” 

This pretty little wife and mother of three shot that eight point buck with a crossbow, hitting  him right in the heart (the spot you’re going for) and the 9:30 p.m. moonlight found her in the woods tracking and then field dressing her deer, alongside her husband. She said “I was way more excited than I thought I would be. It was fun! My heart was pounding. But my husband!…Oh!… I could not believe the look on his face when he realized I was going to do this! That look was worth it all. And I will be hunting again soon!” 

Ezra, my grandson who just turned five, really wanted me to “hurry up and finish teaching those ladies.” He gets impatient when he can’t reach me for our regular FaceTime sessions. He told me to just tell them that “God does everyfing fuh us. And Mammy, if dey obey God, den give dem a pwize. But if dey don’t do what God says, den don’t give ‘em one.” 

Well that’s pretty much just a big over-simplification of what the week was about. We are going to get a big prize if we obey. Let’s all be around that throne for the sweetest fellowship of all!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Boasting the Revelry (Not in My Comfort Zone)

As I write, I’m preparing a speech to give in the morning about the rebellious spirit versus the spirit of meekness. It’s the spirit of Saul versus the spirit of David. It’s the spirit of the older brother versus that of the prodigal son once he had come to himself. It’s the distinction between the two thieves on either side of the cross. 

As I traveled to this area via Delta Airlines last week, I was bumped to the comfort-plus zone of the plane—because the flight was completely full and someone had to sit there. I was happy to comply. As I sat down, the man beside me asked if I was headed home or headed out and I explained that my daughter and I were headed to speak at a purity seminar for teen girls. He asked me where and I told him the name of the church where we were speaking. 

“No kidding,” he said. “I am a ‘church of Christ’, too.”  

Well I knew that no person is a “church of Christ” since a church of Christ is, by definition, a group of people belonging to Jesus. But, without commenting, I continued the conversation.  He told me where he worships and named several ministers, present and past, that have worked with his congregation. 

I noticed that the lady in the row in front of us, who was in first class had moved the curtain that separated her from us and was intently listening to our conversation. She politely waited for a pause in our conversation in which she could interject and she excitedly put in…

“I overheard you say ‘_____________ church of Christ’. That’s where I was baptized!”

I said “Wow! We might have a whole assembly here in a minute.” I was thinking how great God is to put us there together. I’d really been wishing to be sitting with my daughter, who was, coincidentally, on the same flight. But she was back on row seventeen. Instead of sitting with my daughter, here I was with two spiritual blood relatives. God was letting the three of us fly together, once, before the great flight when the trumpet blows. The fellow in the seat beside me was taking a photo of the woman in first class to text to his neighbor at home, who was her uncle. They’d talked about the congregation, the day she was baptized and made all kinds of connections about mutual friends. It’s a small world. 

The next few moments replaced my excitement with, first, anger and then pity. The flight crew member came to my new friend in first class even before the cabin door was closed. He asked her what she’d like to drink. It was the answer to the ensuing conversation that made me sad for her.

“Hmmm…I think I’ll just have a Coke Zero. We’re on our way home from New Orleans and we’ve had far too much to drink.” 

The handsome flight attendant responded “Oh…you’ve been down in the quarter.”

“(Euphemism) …Yeah! It was New Orleans, after all.” 

“I gotcha….Gotcha! Let me get you that Coke Zero” 

Sometimes we say it all in short conversations. We have golden chances every day to encourage and inspire. We even are handed multiple moments each day in which we may distinguish ourselves as His people in meek ways. But unless and until we become convicted about morality—unless our story of Christianity includes more than our baptisms and church attendance, we will turn opportunities for edification into reproach for the body. 

When I was a child, it was unheard of for professing members of the Lord’s body to be openly boasting of partying hard and “drinking far too much.” While I’m sure there were some who were slaves to the sin of drunkenness, it was something of which self-respecting (God-respecting) Christians were ashamed. But for this woman to loudly say this to a non-Christian in front of a Christian woman (me) whom she’d just heard describe a purity day at which she’d done all she could to encourage young ladies to abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages?! All traces of spiritual sobriety had, at least for the moment, been replaced with conformity to a world that weakens the cause of our Lord on this earth. (https://westhuntsville.org/topics/alcohol/…I hope you can listen.). 

At this point, someone from row seventeen walked up and said “ Your daughter said you might want to sit on row seventeen and I could trade with you.” So, with the rare opportunity to take a short flight in the seat beside Hannah, I left the “comfort-plus” zone, which had become increasingly UN-comfortable, anyway. No amount of legroom was a comfort when the vigorous conversation about the Lord’s church was transformed into an enthusiastic announcement about the fun of revelry in the New Orleans French Quarter. 

I understand that there may be readers who find the observations here old-fashioned. The word “judgmental” may also be used, by some, to describe this post. May I suggest, though,  that it is not the Word of God that’s changed in the past few decades. Abstaining from the appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22) would surely preclude boasting about reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21). 

It’s with great sadness that I contemplate the possibility that some may crucify afresh the Son of God while putting him to an open shame (Heb. 6:6). I’m sure He was not glorified by the conversation that occurred through the first-class curtain on that flight last Friday. To think that someone could speak of that moment when she put on the Lord in baptism in the same breath as advertising the excessive amount of alcohol she’d consumed while partying, was just not in my comfort-plus zone. May God help us to understand the sanctification required of His people. May we live in the shadow of the cross.