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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #8–(Proverbs 5:22)

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs: The Cords of Sin (5:22)

“His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin.”

This proverb is a good example of why we love to read them.  This is an observation about humans and a profound reality of life. Solomon here helps us to admit something which we may only see in others, but never in ourselves.  Sin is like the old-fashioned fly paper with which my grandmother caught flies.  It was a strip of wax paper coated with a gooey, sweet concoction and flies were naturally drawn to it; then they were stuck, for good.  A valuable life lesson from fly-paper is this:  “The fly lights on the candy-coated sheet and says, ‘My flypaper.’  He eats his fill, and then tries without success to leave.  The flypaper says, ‘My fly.'”

There are at least three kinds of cords of sin that can become wrapped around us:

1.  Dependancy. Sometimes the dependency is physical.  Opioid abuse, barbiturates, beverage alcohol, etc… will tie a man or woman with such ropes of addiction that there is nothing he/she wouldn’t give for the drug. Many have forfeited a lot—marriage,  respect of children, employment; sometimes even life.  A person who starts using meth has often begun a slow and painful suicide.

Mental dependency is often just as bad.  A man addicted to pornography must fight a real battle prior to his release from the sin.  That’s a cord.

2. Financial. My financial welfare may be at stake if I don’t continue my course of sin.  Pressure to please the boss isn’t always bad but, if what the boss wants involves cooking the books or exploiting innocent people or outright lying, compliance is sinful, of course. The temptation is strong. The first time a man gives in, though, an invisible but stout cord wraps around him.  The temptation to do it again is increased because the employer can now say “But we didn’t have this problem last time.”  Pressure to comply in such a case is a cord.

3.  Other people. I may have unintentionally involved others who will be seriously hurt if I quit my course of sin.  Perhaps a common and most obvious illustration is a marriage to someone for whom Jesus prohibited marriage:  “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9).  Consider the last line in this verse.  It describes someone who marries another, but that marriage is not God-approved. In fact, it is adultery.  There are many such examples of hurt inflicted on others when I obey God. I must remember, though, that the reason they are hurt is not repentance; it’s sin.  A person’s inclination to protect others (even innocent people) may keep him from repenting. That’s a cord.

 If I have joined a religion that conflicts with New Testament Christianity, I will naturally make alliances that will be hard to break if I leave that religion for the true faith (Jude 3), taught by Christ. My friends in that faith may feel that I’ve not only abandoned the religion, but that I’ve abandoned them, too. Leaving a false religion could be difficult to do; yet that is exactly what I must do in order to please the One who will judge me one day (2 Cor. 5:10,  Matt. 7:21).  

Today, consider that the consequences of turning from sin are not nearly as severe as are the consequences of keeping my sin in this life and living eternally in hell.

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (Jn. 8:34).

Tonight’s Story Time from the Colleys:

 Read Genesis 44 to prepare to teach your children tonight. Tell your children the events of the chapter.

1.  “When we ended last night’s picture of Joseph, he was keeping his identity a secret. There was another strange thing that day: the lunch he had prepared for his brothers had something extra for his younger brother Benjamin. Do you remember what that was?   Right!…It was a serving five times as big as any of the others. Why do you think he did that? He seems to be following a tradition in the family. His grand-dad Isaac had a favorite son, Esau (Gen. 25:28).  His Dad, Jacob, had picked Joseph to be his favorite son and had made him a coat of many colors to prove it.  Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and grew to hate him because he was the favorite.  Do you think it’s a good thing for a mother or father  or even a brother to pick a favorite child?  How would you feel if you weren’t the one chosen to be the favorite?”

2. Have your children ask a question of you: “Do you have a favorite child?”

3.  Now, about that cup…How did Joseph trick the brothers into coming back? Have them tell you about how Joseph hid Benjamin’s money and a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Then he sent some servants out to search for the “stolen” cup (only he knew it was really a trick to get them to come back, for a great surprise). Give each one of your children a sack. Have some food from your pantry in each bag and, in one bag, put a silver cup (the closest thing you have…maybe your Yeti mug.) and some dollar bills or coins)  Even if you just have one child, this will be fun. Let mom or dad be a brother, too. Send the children away and then, when they get in another room, come after them. Pretend you are the servant and search their bags. When you find the cup, make the children come back and tell them you are going to keep “Benjamin.” Grab him and set him on the table or the couch. See if there’s a Judah. “Does anyone remember what Judah said?”  Have them dramatically beg you not to keep Benjamin. Praise them for remembering these details.

4. Let’s see if we can remember what it means to repent of sin. Have your children review last night’s definition of repentance.  Joseph tricked his brothers and told them that he would keep Benjamin with him.  Judah explained that his father had two sons he especially loved, and one of them was dead. The other was Benjamin, and it would break his heart to lose him.  Judah said, “…it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave.”  This means that Jacob,  a very old man would be very sad if anything happened to Benjamin; so much so, that he would probably just die from sadness.  So, Judah asked Joseph if he could stay and be a slave instead of Benjamin.  

How is what Judah asked different from all those years ago when Judah and the others sold Joseph into slavery?  How did this show Joseph that Judah had truly repented? Do you think Judah wished he could go back and change the way he acted that day when he sold Joseph? 

It is this repentance that makes Joseph know that it is time to tell them who he really is.

5. In the morning at breakfast, have a cup with a little money in it, for each child. Let the kids who can answer review questions keep the money for  piggy banks or dollar store trips when our pandemic is over.

  1. Who was the brother that was living in Egypt and helping the King through the famine?
  2. Which brother was Joseph’s favorite?
  3. How big was the serving that Benjamin got at the special lunch?
  4. What did Joseph hide in Benjamin’s sack?
  5. Which brother wanted to stay in Egypt so Benjamin could go home?
  6. What was the old father’s name…the one who would be so sad if something bad happened to Benjamin?
  7. Did Joseph decide to forgive his brothers?

6. Pray before bed that God will help our hearts to be like Joseph…that we will want to forgive others who have treated us badly.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Guest Writer–Pornography Hooks Girls, Too.

For about nine months, I’ve been in touch with this author every day; sometimes multiple times each day in our (our meaning her and me, but also and foremost, the ONE who gives us the victory) victorious effort to rid her very young life of pornography. She’s made lots of decisions and changes and has come up with great strategies to be all she can be, sans pornography, for our Lord. I know, from my own small circle, that there are others who could benefit from her advice. She’s smart about this. Here’s her message:

Sexual temptation is not just for men. I think all too often we are given the idea that only men struggle with sexual temptation, specifically that of pornography. We hear sermon after sermon about the dangers of pornography for men, and about how to counter and avoid it, and this is wonderful! But, what about the girls who struggle with this?
So many times I think when we talk about a girl’s purity we are thinking only in terms of her virginity. And, as important as that is, it also needs to be stressed that when a girl struggles with a a sexual temptation, a pornography addiction, or a masturbation addiction, she’s not the only one. Based on experience, and from things others have said to me personally, a lot of the time, when you tell someone about your struggle, their response may be “yeah, I struggled with that too”.  This has happened to me on more than one occasion. We shouldn’t be ashamed to tell other people and reach out for help. 
Luke 15:10 :

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

The shame was in the sin. There’s no shame in repentance. Sometimes I think the reason that girls hide their struggles with sexual temptations instead of reaching out is because they’ve never heard anything about a girl having this temptation. That misconception was my worst enemy in my struggle…. Who did I turn to that wouldn’t think I was perverted, or weird? Worst of all, would they make it public?… I thought things like… “What on earth is wrong with me? I shouldn’t like this!” and “How am I struggling with this? I’m a girl! This is a guy problem….” It took a long time for me to understand that there were a lot more girls than I thought who struggled with the same things.  And they were just as ashamed as I was. We shouldn’t let the shame of the sin keep us from reaching out for help. The people that I wanted to know–the ones I felt close to, but afraid to tell–weren’t disappointed in me. They were sad for me, but they were also proud because I was doing what I needed to do to get out of it. They treated me no differently than they had before.  The best thing that I could have possibly done would have been to tell someone the moment I saw those things and was interested, but I didn’t. I hid it, and hiding it fueled it. We should be reaching out to those struggling, and reaching when we personally struggle, and we should be praying for one another. 

James 5:16

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Why do we sometimes apply this verse only to the “easier” sins? Why, when we hear of the harder sins in someone’s life do we sometimes shrink back, thinking of them as perverted? All sin is sin in God’s eyes; none worse, none better… .I think we should apply this verse even more to the harder sins in our Christian family’s lives.

Some sins are harder than others to overcome, but none are impossible. Here are a few of the things that have helped me in my struggle…

1. Get an accountability partner.

I didn’t really know how to get away from pornography, how to take away all of the temptation. I’d tried several times to just promise myself I’d never do it again. I would stay clean for about a week and then I’d fall again. So I finally realized that by myself, with only my sister and myself knowing (and her thinking I was over it), I would never get over it. So I told someone else, thinking that having someone else know would make me not do it. And then came the questions… “When was the last time you did it? This year? This week? Since you’ve been here at PTP?” And, having affirmed the last of the three options I was asked to promise to contact that friend if I ever did it again. About a month later, I started to struggle with it again. I kept my promise, sent the ever dreaded email, and was asked to agree to her terms of accountability. I was lucky. I was offered accountability and wouldn’t have thought to ask for it. I didn’t even know what it was, really. I knew it was for those who struggled with things like pornography, but I had never needed to know about that…. After all, I wasn’t ever going to do those things, right? Make sure you ask someone you respect to help you and keep you accountable. This will be your biggest help, and that person will likely be your biggest cheerleader. 

2. Covenant Eyes (or a similar program to monitor and report).

“Why do I need Covenant Eyes? I’m not going to do anything bad on my laptop. Don’t you trust me?” This one really hits home for me. While I’d have never have had the nerve to say it, I can surely remember thinking it. I hated the idea of something on my laptop that recorded and recounted to my parents everything that I did on my computer. Not because I had, at that time, any intention or desire to look at sinful things on my laptop, but because I wanted privacy. Now, I absolutely love my Covenant Eyes. It is the easiest thing in the world to not click on that nasty ad when you know that your laptop is immediately going to notify your parents or accountability partner. 

3. Keep busy.

I’ve spent probably the past 3-4 months having this one pounded into my thick skull, but you know what? It works! When you’re busy working for God and for others around you, or even just a new project that keeps your interest, then you will be so much less focused on your own troubles and shortcomings (discouragement/depression feeds the sin) and you will feel so good about the things you can do for others. 

4. Work hard on your thoughts.

Anyone who has ever been exposed to pornography knows how hard it is to get just one image out of your head, much less images, videos, words, etc… that have been purposely put in your head for months and years. So make sure that you’re watching your mind.  It becomes much easier to avoid temptations when your mind isn’t constantly on those things you’ve seen. So read a book, do a craft, study, sing a song. Avoid getting caught in a cycle of pornographic thoughts.

5. Go through your your phone, and get rid of ALL the temptations.

I don’t know why, but I didn’t even really consider going through and getting rid of the apps…the ones I hadn’t necessarily used to view pornography, but that I knew could have… (Amazon, Etsy, blogging apps, really any shopping apps),  so this has been a recent one for me but an enormous relief. You get rid of so much guilt when you delete an app that, while very convenient to have nearby, is also a temptation for you. So sit down, go through your phone and get rid of anything (apps or internet) that could readily give access to pornography. This will be a huge relief and help. 

1 Corinthians 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.



Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Video Games: The “Next Level” Could Be Dangerous

According to David Walsh, PhD, spokesman for the American Medical Association’s media violence campaign, one out of five kids were addicted to computer and video games in 2002. The National Institute on Media and the family warns parents to beware when children seem to be creating a fantasy world that is more appealing to them than their real world of school, work, or family. With the increased access to pornography, these worlds are often very sexual realms. Withdrawal and isolation are common warning signs that a fantasy world may be replacing reality for a child. Video games, like many other sensational stimuli affect the flow of adrenaline and stimulate the brain’s production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to addiction.

Dr. Mark Griffith, an expert on video game addiction, has put in lots of time and study on the subject at Nottingham Trent University. Here is his list of questions concerned parents should ask. If the answer to more than four of these questions is “yes,” Dr. Griffith believes there is cause for parental concern.

1. Does your child play almost every day?
2. Does your child often play for long periods (over three to four hours at the time)?
3. Does your child play for excitement?
4. Does your child get restless and irritable if he or she can’t play?
5. Does your child sacrifice social and sporting activities to play?
6. Does your child play instead of doing homework?
7. Does your child try to cut down his or her playing, but can’t?

Many experts are in agreement that a gaming addiction can be very similar to a drug addiction as far as the way the brain is affected. It is a difficult addiction to break, because, like eating disorders, the source of the addiction (computers, in this case) is so much a part of everyday life.

Of course, for Christian parents, there are lots of motivators besides the medical evidence to encourage us to get a handle on the gaming time and content permitted in our households. We want our children to be good stewards of the time God has given them (Eph. 5:16). We want them to completely avoid sexual or profane material (I Thess. 5:22), and we want to be spending massive amounts of time with them, as their parents (Deut.6:4-7). Simply put, this addiction, like so many others, is blockaded from our lives if we are diligently seeking first the kingdom. It’s when we become ‘tired” of the all-consuming, sacrificial parenting routine. It’s when we want to “back off” for a while and not be so “paranoid” about the directions our kids may be taking. It’s when we want to “ease up, “ as some parents state it, and maybe even “get the kids out of our hair for a while,” that we begin to see the negative signs that Satan may be creeping into various isolated spaces in our homes. He loves to lure and entrap. It’s the “diligence” factor of Deuteronomy six that keeps kids from his amazing technological bait today. He loves nothing more than to get our kids hooked—on porn, sex, drugs, games, eating disorders, mutilation, gaming, etc…—before we, the parents were aware of the danger. So we have to step up the awareness. We simply can’t afford to be tired, laid back or permissive in the face of his tactics.

If you are wondering if your child might be at risk, or if you just want an education to avoid future problems, may I recommend the book “Playstation Nation,” by Olivia and Kurt Bruner? It’s the source of the information given in the opening paragraphs of this post and it was an eye-opening resource for me. It contains true confessions of gaming addicts as well as some very useful advice on diagnosing behavioral problems associated with too much time in front of the screen. Most importantly, it speaks frankly to parents about the importance of being just that—parents—when it comes to reclaiming children who are dangerously moving toward patterns of addiction.

My thanks to Caleb Colley for the gift of this informative book.