This will be the best expenditure of your September, by far. If you’ve never been encouraged by Carol Dodd, this is YOUR morning! She’s showing us all how to take the darkest of times and turn them into his glory. A stage 4 cancer patient, at present, she is using every day–through pain and mishap and treatment and sometimes what’s extreme difficulty– to continue to maximize the offering of glory she can give to our great God during the sunset days of her life. I continue to stand amazed at how very encouraging she is to the ladies–the body, even– at West Huntsville and beyond. She recently spoke on our PTP Spark program, and I think I can say, without hesitancy, she was the favorite speaker of the week. Her passion is Bible study. Her goal is heaven. Her Lord is Christ. her sovereign is Jehovah. Her purpose is His glory. Her husband is Don (he’s a great blessing, too.) Her people are the Christians at West Huntsville. Her little distraction and game-changer, for the moment, is cancer. And that’s really the order of things in her world. I’m saying…you just don’t want to miss it. Child care, lodging, fellowship and spiritual strength–all available here:
Today is Colleyanna Mae’s fifth birthday. She’s Covid-quarantined, so I will not get to see her today, but I cannot wait to get to celebrate with her. She’s bright-eyed and her smile’s possibly the most infectious of the family. She loves tiny things that sparkle (Right now I have to make a trip to the church building because she thinks she left her red crystal there. She’s hoping it is in the lost-and-found. I think it is probably in the “lost-and-trashed” because that’s what any finder [or vacuum] would do with that teeny piece of plastic, but I bet she gets another crystal. She even called to ask if I’d checked lost-and-found.) She loves the Lord, too, and she prays for Baxter, her cat, faithfully.
I love that girl more than she will ever know (at least till she’s a mammy.) This year’s Digging Deep study book is dedicated to the Lord first and then to Colleyanna’s future. Here’s the dedication page:
For Colleyanna Mae Giselbach. You are my little sunshine ray. All I have to do, when a morning is challenging, is think about your little life’s philosophies, and I’m counting my blessings again!You are sleeping, this week, in my bathtub, your favorite place to spend your nights when you visit Mammy’s house. You have your little nightlight that puts stars—stars that slowly change colors—on the ceiling.You have your little “pings” (things) that you collect and carefully organize all around you before you fall asleep. I don’t want you to grow past the sleeping-in-the -bathtub stage.
But one day, when you do, I want to study these important conversations of the Lord with you.And my heart’s most thrilling picture is the two of us talking with the Lord about these things in a land where the conversation is not punctuated by darkness and day’s end.
Happy birthday, Colleyanna!
It’s another special birthday, too. Digging Deep turns 11 today! Eleven years ago, someone had faith as a grain of mustard seed and started a little facebook group that’s grown into a tree in which birds can build their nests. God is so good like that!
So, start digging into my favorite study, so far. (It’s always the one I’m doing right now! His Word is so good like that!) What He did, on purpose, for me is what I need to be thinking about these days. It will keep us going in challenging times and add to our joy in the times when faith is soaring. So get going, get inviting, and get excited with me. The eleventh year is about the eleventh hour of the life of my Lord. It’s riveting to any spiritually-minded person. I hope you can get some friends who need the Lord to do it with us!
Happy Birthday, Digging Deep. 1…2…3…Go!
(Here’s a fun DD birthday retro pic. I think this group was beginning “Authority.”)
We are thankful for the wonderful time of learning and fellowship in which many of you participated at the West Huntsville SPARK 2021. Many of you were present and even more participated to some extent online. Women are consistently telling me it is exactly what they needed. Many add “I did not even know how badly I needed this!” (I am one of the women who felt that exact way!)
And now the real muscle work starts. here is what you need to know. We are expediting shipping as quickly as we possibly can. The Colleys have plates that are spilling out all over table right now, but we are committed to getting orders to you in the very most efficient way possible. Your patience is always a testimony to the kind of women who are in the WORD. We’re just thankful for that about you!
Next, NOTICE: THE LAST DATE ON WHICH YOU MAY ORDER A T-SHIRT OR A HOODIE WILL BE SEPTEMBER 10TH! We are going to print them one last time once we get all the orders in. Tell your friends because it makes us so sad every year when we have folks who REALLY wanted one, but didn’t get the order in. They are very expensive to print after this second printing in September, so we will not be printing after that. You can order them (and all DD-related items) here: https://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Digging-Deep/c/20688312
Finally, tell your husbands about the men’s study that will complete a very good couple’s Bible study for the year. Even if he is studying on the break at work and you are studying before the day begins, this study will give you fodder for spiritual conversation whenever those moments give you opportunity– conversation that will enrich your marriage and make your home stronger. Your godly husband will need to decide what’s best for his personal study, but I wouldn’t miss suggesting this to Him!
Fear refocuses itself in our world at an alarming frequency. This week, world fear is focused in Kabul, Afghanistan where Taliban terrorists have violently taken over the country. I’m praying for those in imminent danger there. I can watch the news and I can watch my own life and realize that the very most painful carnage always comes as a result of sin. I’m so thankful, in times like these, that my God is a God of the events that have huge worldwide implications (like the Taliban takeover), but He is also the God that knows and works through the individual hurts of His people. While he knows about every piercing of flesh in Kabul, he also knows about every pierced heart in your family and mine. And He cares. I love passages about the least of these. I love that He said that He is aware of the little and “unimportant” ones who believe in Him. In fact he said to the one who would harm those little ones that it would be better for a millstone to be hung around his neck and he be cast into the sea. I love that he said in Matthew 18 that if just one of a hundred sheep had gone astray, He would go and search for that little lamb and rejoice over Him more than over the ninety-nine sheep still grazing under the care of shepherds on the mountain. I’m so thankful He is the God of the little ones and of the one percent, because I am the little one in need. I am the .01!
It is interesting that sandwiched in between the words of Jesus about taking care that we not offend a little one in Matthew 18, Jesus strongly stated that whatever it is that is doing the offending of our souls and the souls of the “little ones” should be severed and cast from us in order to save our souls from hell. Jesus actually says here that the “suffering,” if required, of amputating a limb or losing an eye for the sake of doing right is better than the eternal carnage of sin. Take a moment to contextualize:
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Do you see the sandwich? God (Jesus) is saying here that whatever it is, whatever the cost, whatever the personal pain, it is always worth it to rid ourselves of sin rather than to allow sin to hurt others. Like all of you, I’m very weary of the carnage always left in the path of sin. (I am always most hurt when the sin is my own.) It doesn’t take a Kabul-sized invasion of sin for real pain to occur because of sin. It happens all the time in families and churches in which those who are precious to God (little ones who believe in Him) are hurt by sin in the lives of others. Selfish children do it to godly parents. Selfish parents do it to innocent children. Spouses do it to hurting spouses. Brother and sisters do it to brothers and sisters. I learned many years ago that the hurt and damage of sin is the worst pain of this lifetime. It has held true throughout the years. Nothing compares.
The Digging Deep reveal will be Monday (8/23) at 2 pm. It will be happening from the PTP Spark at West Huntsville church of Christ. I hope you can be there or watch live: https://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women While I’ll wait to reveal the topic, let me say this: If you know someone who is hurting, I hope you can invite her to study along this year. There are large doses of lasting comfort in the passages we will explore together this year. Many of you have discussed with me some pretty large spiritual lesions in your life to which you could apply some spiritual comfort. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3,4…and I love that passage that has the word “comfort” in it five times!). I hope you can join us for this, my favorite so far (but I always say that) year-long study. This is real Bible study. It is not superficial. It’s deep and it is full of comfort. It is, indeed, personal Bible study!
If you completed the study of The Ten (every single lesson, every single question, every single Bible reading, every single Practically Speaking and every single podcast (Dig-a-bit OR video podcast) send me an email with your name and mailing address at Byhcontest@gmail.com. I want to acknowledge you at the reveal. I cannot acknowledge those who send me other forms of communication, so please send to this email address. I’m working on a little surprise to send to you all. But it may be a few days after SPARK before I have them done. I’m a little overwhelmed this year! I love all of your hearts. You encourage and comfort me!
Also, the other two DD lessons from Spark will be live-streamed from the same spot. So the three of them are next Monday at 9 and 2 and next Tuesday at 9. I hope you are there and invite others. None of these lessons are great for us because they are coming from me, because they are not. The Holy Spirit just speaks with power and comfort. (That’s why He is called the Comforter in the KJV and ASV and others [Jn 15]. It’s an apt rendering of parakletos.)
Finally the Sunday and evening lessons from SPARK will be live-streamed from our regular location: www.westhuntsville.org. That’s seven amazing lessons from SPARK directly to your home (ten if you add the daytime DD lessons). I hope you will be there with us. If I can help you follow the Lord in any way, I would love that. We won’t ever do it perfectly, but we can walk in the light together and the blood will just keep on cleansing us (1 Jn 1:7).
If you registered for SPARK, we’re excited to tell you we are full-speed ahead. We can’t wait to welcome you, catch up on visiting, sing praises with you, pray together and grow stronger in Christ. We’re praying that the ripple effects of this event will strengthen churches in lots of places and translate into souls for heaven. We hope your hearts for evangelism will be enlarged.
I cannot find the superlative vocabulary to even describe the way the West Huntsville people have stepped to the plate with donations, offers to help with the legwork, lifting work, paperwork, serving work, teaching work, and corralling-kids work. For every “ask”, there’s been a quick “yes.” A couple of times I’ve said “Can you…?” and, before I could finish the question, the answer was “yes.” I love the Christians at West Huntsville!
I love our elders, too. While they are protective of our physical health and are always taking precautions about keeping our facilities clean and sanitized, they never neglect the real work of shepherding–our souls. They are so encouraging about this event and I’m profoundly grateful for their support and guidance in making it happen. Look for further details from them in this spot later in the week.
Let’s pray for each other’s travels and for the speakers. Local ladies, let’s invite friends from the community to attend a session or two with us. Community visitors do not need to be registered. Just bring them. Local sisters, let’s be sure to try to meet and welcome as many sisters from as many places as we can and let’s especially be salt and light (and friendliness) to any local visitors.
Diggers, now is the time to invite your friends to do the new study with us. I’m really looking forward to this year-long study. It’s made me better just in the preparing. The Word is always like that! One week till reveal time. If you are not coming, you can view it online. Details for that upcoming here, too.
With the balm of His counsel, our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do….
Let us hope and trust. Let us watch and pray.
And labor till the Master comes.
(from To the Work, By Francis J. Crosby)
Register if you still have not. We’d love to have you! Registration is key for locals and WH members and those who will just be present for a portion of the program! It’s August 22-25 and you can find info and register here: https://polishingthepulpit.com/spark
Sunday lunch will be bagged and to-go, although, if you did register for lunch, you are welcome to enjoy that sandwich lunch in our fellowship hall or outdoor pavilion if you’d like to visit. We had a great problem–too many people in worship that day–to use our fellowship hall for a potluck. Thus, the bagged lunches and the closing of the lunch registration. Lunches will be for the 165 people who have already registered for that.
SO many facets of PTP Spark are coming together and our elders are some of the best men in the world (I really think so!), so they are logistically trying to make it the best it can be for His glory. We are grateful to PTP and GBN, who are corroborating to make these lessons available in both archives, so that thousands of people can enjoy them in future times. The topics are both Word-centered and relevant. (Everything Word-centered is culture-relevant!)
Digging Deep awards, reveal, materials and fellowship are central to this SPARK and I’m pleased that so many of you are coming. Bring big vessels for spiritual filling. Don’t forget to register!
P.S. Shout out to Ashlee Bailey of West Huntsville for this new Spark graphic. Used with permission from Polishing the Pulpit. Spread the graphic, too!