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Faith

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep…for the Comfort of It. (Read to the end, if you are a finisher.)

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).

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Spark is Happening! Invite your friends to dig with us.

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)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Nothing Outside His Control

As Glenn was leaving this morning, he said to me “Some days I can feel my heart pounding harder inside my chest.” 

I think we all have days like that. There are times, for all of us, in which we feel like our days’ activities and responsibilities have sped beyond our ability to calmly overtake them. It’s a feeling of control lost. Sometimes it turns into helplessness, throwing hands up, and sometimes even thinking “Why should I even try?” 

Of course, I’m not thinking I have more deadlines or responsibilities or opportunities than the average Jane. I’m just saying that, for all of us, there will be seasons of busy-ness that are larger than calendar space, times of stolen serenity or even heart hurts that make us contemplate reaching for the proverbial towel to throw in. 

For me right now it’s a basement that makes me cringe each time I go down there to the freezer or the treadmill or the book supply. Why did that other generation (the parents on both sides) have to leave us or move to much smaller quarters and how DID they accumulate this much stuff for which there seems to be no place? And why can’t I find any time to go through any of these stacks of boxes and books and drawers of furniture that are so intimidating to me in this part of life? And will the time not be very short until my kids are wondering the same thing? And shouldn’t I do something about that in a hurry, too? And while we’re needing to do all that, we’re also needing to go and take care of the parents— things they need today in their smaller quarters. And all the tasks that go on all the time—laundry, cooking, church activities ( they’re out the wazoo in a good way right now)—just keep happening. 

Then there’s the heart hurts of people around me —-things over which I have not one iota of control—things that I’ve taken into my own heart. I can release them temporarily in prayer, but my weakness is that I let them creep back in; I cannot master Matthew 6:25-33. Isn’t it interesting that 1 Peter 5:7, that tells us to cast our care on God, immediately precedes that statement about the devil prowling about seeking whom He may devour? Can it be that when I fail to release my burdens to Him, that the devil sees my hurting shoulders—realizes my hands are full and that I might not be prepared to wield the sword of the Spirit against his wiles—and so he attacks at my most vulnerable time?! I think so! May I learn to put down the stuff that I cannot use and pick up the sword!

The Word champions it all if we let it. Listen to the control in this passage I came across this morning in Hebrews 2: 

…or it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,

or the son of man, that you care for him?

You made him for a little while lower than the angels;

you have crowned him with glory and honor,

putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

I love that the ESV says there that nothing was left outside His control. My Savior who is now crowned with glory and honor has been given sovereignty over all things. Though He will not make me or any human do His will for now, there’s coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. There’s coming a day when there will be no basement, no plunder, no furniture, no heart hurts and no devil prowling. That day is, by any standard and for any living person, relatively soon.

I want to be sure that, while I’m waiting for that day, that I never forget its relevance to the little pressure cooker in which I can put myself. May I never let my pride, my possessions, my schedule, my family, or any self-deception keep me from surrendering to the sovereign One every single precious day of this short life. Ironically, when I turn down the pressure cooker and turn up the prayer and study, the tasks start morphing into opportunities, the hurts into growth; the basement starts to become pretty irrelevant. (The kids can clean that up one day, if I never get to it. That’s what we just did for two packed houses and garages, and a barn and a couple of workshops. They might get a turn, too! =))

This life is short. I want to savor every day.  As my Maggie, who’s two,  says “I’m going to fight that ole’ Satan, so he will start running away!”

Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Resist means to set one’s self against. May I put all my weight into that push today!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

On the Fourth…With the Kids and the Berries

Prayer time is a little more scarce while I have this wonderful blessing of a few summertime days with the Giselbach grandkids and their mom. Prayer time and grandkids call out for each other, but they do not mix well. Prayer is happening mostly in the moments I steal away at the blueberry bushes. Kids and blueberries DO go together, but Eliza Jane has no self -control when she’s picking with me. And those blueberry diapers!

We have one more day together and we are taking advantage of every little cranny of this time. Blueberry cobblers, grandkids and fairy tales go together, too. In honor of all of those, here’s a re-run of one of the “Blueberry Chronicles.” If you look for “blueberries” on this site, you can read a lot of spiritual musings about picking from 2012.

Happy Fourth! We should still celebrate, We should still sing the anthem. We should still wave Old Glory and we should keep striving to be the best Christians we should be in this place of our secondary citizenship. We have come a long way in some crucial areas of justice in this land. We have lost a lot of ground in others. Those areas of liberty and justice that are being eroded in landslide fashion today can likely never be regained. But there’s no values erosion around the throne. We need to be absolutely sure that the banner of freedom from sin through His blood is waving for us.

You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
that they may flee to it from the bow. 
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us! Psalm 60: 4,5

 

 

You Won’t Believe This, But…

Glenn Colley is NOT the Little Red Hen. He IS the one who does not particularly like the picking part of the blueberry experience, while he is all about the tasting part of it. Seriously. How many of the mornings did he accompany me out there to those bushes with his basket? Not a single morning. How many pints of those I put in the freezer for winter pies did he pick? Not one. How many bags did he pick for those sisters who love to make cobblers? Ummm…still zero.m

“Who will help me pick the berries?” said the Little Red Hen. “Not I,” said the brown cow.

But it was Sunday morning and I was getting ready for church when Glenn walked in my bathroom and here’s the gist of the ensuing conversation:

Glenn: “So who are those blueberries for?”

Me: “Well, I thought I would take some to Mrs. Dorothy and I need to take some to Peggy, and I thought maybe Jennifer, too.”

Glenn: “Well, you know…there are a few people I’ve been thinking of that we should share them with.” (He starts listing his ideas.)

Me: “Wait a minute, now. Have you been picking berries?”

Glenn: “Well, I reckon I have!”

Me: “Oh really? You have?”

Glenn: “Now Cindy, have you not seen any of those berries I picked? Further, haven’t you seen me out there picking, because I HAVE been out there picking…”

Me: “No, I do not believe I have seen any berries you have picked, but I do seem to recall seeing you a couple of times out there, albeit without even as much as a basket.”

Glenn: “Do you know why you have seen me out there without as much as a basket and why you have not seen the berries I have picked?”

Me: “Because every berry you have picked has gone straight from the bush into your mouth? Could that be the reason?”

Glenn: “That’s the reason, exactly! That’s what I’m talking about. Now you should not be saying that I have not been picking berries, because that is simply not true.”

Now, while the above conversation was all in fun, lots of Christians have the same attitude about the spiritual harvest and it’s not so funny.

Have you ever known someone who who seemed to be very scarce when the work was being done, but yet had all kinds of criticisms for those who were doing it and for how it was being done? Judas did this in John twelve when he came down on Mary for anointing Jesus with the precious ointment. He acted as if he was all about giving something to the poor, but the text goes on to say that he actually touted his plan, not because he cared for the poor, but because he “held the bag.” His “berries” were going straight into his mouth.

Have you ever known someone who showed up for all the services (he WAS out there at the berry bushes), but seemed to have a great (and very distracted) time throughout the services–writing notes, texting and visiting with the other teens on the back row? What motivated his coming to services? Did he come out of a pure heart’s desire to honor God or were all of his “berries” going straight into his own mouth?

Do I spend time in prayer telling God what I want and letting Him know I will be patient while He gives it to me? James describes the man who views God as the genie in a bottle who is there for hearing and granting wishes. Hear him in James 1:3:

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

So, back to the Little Red Hen:

“Who will help me plant the seed?” said the Little Red Hen? “Not I,” said the pig.

“Who will help Me water the seed?” said the Little Red Hen? “Not I,” said the horse.

“Who will help me gather the crop?” said the Little Red Hen? “Not I,” said the brown cow.

“Then I will do it myself,” said the Little Red Hen…and so she did.

But as always there came a day of enjoying the fruits of the labor:

“Who will help me eat the fruit?” said the Little Red Hen.

“I will!” said the pig.

“I will!” said the horse.

“I will!” said the brown cow.

“Oh no!” said the Little Red Hen. “I planted the seed, I watered the seed, I gathered the fruit and I will eat the fruit.” And so she did.

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry… ( I Corinthians 3:8,9)

Let’s get busy at the spiritual bushes remembering the sweet and eternal reward that comes “according to his own labor.”

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Waiting on Him

Today, I have just a small moment and a smaller mind to write, but His amazing providence is sustaining. For the past several days, I’ve been living in a senior facility as we transition Glenn’s parents from Memphis, Tennessee to Huntsville, Alabama. There have been some days in which we seemed to hit a brick wall at every turn as we have diligently worked to find a situation to meet all the needs of these loved ones. In the end, the answer came through a sweet 97-year-old sister who lives down the hall from “us” in this temporary place. She remembered another couple in God’s family who were almost in the exact circumstances as were my husband’s parents. She called to refer me to their daughter, the caretaker who knew all the details about this place. Amazingly, this daughter is a sweet friend whom I have not seen in a long time, but she was my suite-mate at FHU many years ago. So very helpful, she gave me details and info that put me in the right place at just the right time. The family that was on the waiting list for the one available room in this beautiful and seemingly perfectly tailored-to-our-needs place had just decided to remove their names for a while from that list and one (only one) room became temporarily available. Another sister came to stay with my favorite mother-in-law and father-in-law while I went to look at this place. And yet another sister invited me into her apartment at the facility (an apartment that happened to be identical to the one in which the Colleys are going to be living and is also the next door down.) Then our Father brought my husband safely home from his gospel meeting in Oklahome so that he could finalize the details about this move for them. 

I know I’m on the lookout for His blessings all the time, but really…how can the answers that we need so badly be all wrapped up in His family, except that His tender care is all around His people all the time? I know that we cannot always be sure that the exact answers we identify as Providence are the paths He would want us to choose, but there are times when it seems the ONLY answer is His answer. And it does seem that He wraps up the answer we desperately need in the beautiful security blanket of our spiritual family. His family in this episode of our lives was not from a single congregation either. At least ten congregations of His people were represented in this transition, from those who worked tirelessly to help get their things on the truck to the point of this writing.  Today, I’m very, especially, deeply, and profoundly thankful for the blessings of Providence that lie in the family of God. I’m thankful for the connected prayers of all of those involved to the One who knew the answer from the start. 

I’d also add that the move to the facility that’s not right for our family may have been very providential, too. After all, the time and muscle and 24/7 effort we “wasted” at the wrong facility gave us the week we needed for a space to open up at the right one. 

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love Him dn are the called according to His purpose.”  THIS. I believe Romans 8:28. 

Maybe all this detail is not the most helpful post for you at this time. But maybe for some sister who is waiting on the Lord, the trust that sustains will be resurgent through trials, prayer and the family of God. I know reminding myself of His Providence through difficult days is a medicine that heals a weary soul! 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mariah…New Lyrics in Her Life’s Song!

Walking through the secretary’s office to my husband’s office a few Sundays ago, I noticed a visitor’s card on the desk. I’d been seeing this pretty young mom come in with a tiny toddler, a beautiful little girl named Lyric. They’d sit on the very front row and the baby was as close to perfectly behaved as they come. I finally got the chance to meet Mariah on a Wednesday night and told her I’d love to study the Bible with her and answer any questions she might have about the church. I gave her a card with my name and contact info. She thanked me and I really wasn’t at all sure I would ever get the chance to have that conversation. 

But there, on the office desk, on the card she’d filled out, was a big check mark on the box: “I’d like to become a member of this church.” Her full name and phone number were right there on the card. So I texted Mariah. She quickly responded that she’d like to study together. I got that great blessing among all relationship blessings: to study the plan of salvation with Mariah. We studied that  gift of grace whereby we are saved, and how we receive it, at length in our first study together. 

The best day of Mariah’s life came sooner than I expected. On the second of our study times together, she asked a simple question—one that’s been at the center of religious confusion in ”Christendom” for many years: “Whenever I am baptized, can it be true that I will always be saved, no matter what I might do?” 

As you can imagine, I saw a huge door opening, and together we walked through that door to passages like Acts 8, where we discussed a man named Simon, who clearly was saved and only a short time later was told he must repent and pray for forgiveness, lest he should perish. We talked about how that Paul, himself, even acknowledged the possibility that he could be a castaway from the faith (1 Corinthians 9:27). We looked at the first half of Romans 6 and how that powerful exhortations and warnings were given to Christians about abstaining from sin. Conversely, then, we examined the scriptures to give Mariah comfort in the knowledge that, as long as she offers God her best, walking in the light, the blood will continually cleanse her soul (1 John 1:7), making her constantly ready to meet the Lord. 

As I got ready to pray with Mariah before she left the little office that day, I asked if she had any more questions I should think about before our next meeting. She said “Yes. There is one more thing. What do I do to be baptized. I know I should do that.” 

I asked her, then, to tell me why she’d like to be baptized. Her answer did not take a lot of thought at this point:  “I need to die to sin. I need to put on Christ, to be a Christian. I need to be washed.” Those, of course, are perfect answers from Romans 6, Galatians 3 and Acts 22.  

I then asked her a very sober question: “Mariah, if you were to die before this baptism, what would happen to your soul.” 

She answered, “I would be lost.” 

It was a short conversation then about all of the reasons that, once a person knows the gospel, NOW is the time to be washed. We quickly went and retrieved my favorite preacher from his own Bible study, found a sweet mama to watch little Lyric, spent a minute in the changing room and Glenn immersed Mariah, after she sweetened her lips with the great confession of faith in the Christ. It was among the sweetest wet hugs ever, and that night, I took Mariah to the sweet communion table with Jesus himself. It was a great Sunday!

Well, I had a taping for Digging Deep that day, and I was driving to Florida that evening to help with grandchildren. I had to pack, study a little for the recording and try and cook a meal for my husband to carry to some aged people who were counting on me. But none of that mattered anymore. When a person gets to see salvation—up-close-and-personal— when she gets to be the wet babe-in-Christ hugger, it just precludes, excludes, and disseminates all stress from that day. I sat on the front pew with Mariah and Lyric that Sunday night and I cherished the thought that sweet, tiny, Lyric will never have to know a moment when she does not have a mother of faith guiding her sweet soul to the throne room of the great Redeemer. 

As we found a quiet place to give thanks after the baptism, my husband said to Mariah, “You are just as washed–just as much a Christian–as anyone in this church.”

I praise Him! I can never be a savior. I cannot redeem. I cannot purchase one single soul. I am, in fact, as helplessly, hopelessly lost without Calvary as any person with whom I ever get the opportunity to study. (Some days I just know that, except for the cross, I’m the most lost of all.)  But every time I get even the possible chance to be the wet-babe hugger, I want to be there. Those are the best moments of life, because they reach into eternity. May God give us the courage to just say, text or write the words “Can we study together?” It takes a moment of faith that even someone as weak as Cindy Colley can muster, but, every now and again it might, because of Calvary, start a chain of events that leads to eternity with Him. 

If you’d like to encourage Mariah, that would be a capital idea:

Mariah     
℅ West Huntsville church of Christ     
1519 Old Monrovia Road
Huntsville, AL 35806

And, by all means, keep her in your prayers.