Browsing Tag

Faith

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. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley Caleb Colley

To Make a Wretch His Treasure

 

I was pretty tired after a few days (and parts of the nights, too) of trying to help my daughter-in-law, Bekah, with a toddler and a newborn during a week of a gospel meeting while we were also awaiting the  replacement of a dishwasher. (That’s a long wait when you have a bunch of people, even if it’s really a short wait.) We were thoroughly enjoying staying in the home of our son and his wonderful family, but even the best kind of fun can be exhausting.

As we stood there singing the last two songs of that spiritually uplifting event on the final night, tears just streamed down my face. I held my sweet Maggie, who’s two, close to me and heard her softly singing some of the words to “How Deep the Father’s Love” and the balm of those words sank deep into my weary spirit. 

How deep the Father’s love for us?

How vast beyond all measure?

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss?

The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the Chosen One

Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom.

My husband had just preached a powerful lesson about fatherhood: What a Dad Owes His Children. He had talked about the things a father owes his son and I reflected on the blessing it is that our son has a brand new baby—a son. Caleb and Bekah are determined that baby Ellis will have the gifts of example and training that will anchor his development into integrity and faithfulness. Then the lesson pivoted to a discussion of things a father owes his daughter. As the lesson closed and parents were being called to recommit to placing the principles of Scripture in a place of relevance, even top-priority, in their homes, I held the sweet 2-year-old daughter of my son and heard her sing about the sacrifice of the only Son of God to “make a wretch his treasure”.  The Father paid the ultimate price of His own Son–what He did not owe–so that my Son (and the rest of us, too) could be sitting there on that pew sanctified, justified and washed–absolved of what we did owe. 

When I sing the words “Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers” I know that it “was my sin that held him there” and the gratitude overwhelms me, every time. This blessed grandmother just stood there, holding that sweet innocent child, and cried. How I wish I’d never had to face the realization that I’m responsible, because of my sin, for the cross. How I wish I had no unfathomably large ransom to be paid, no sins for his shoulders, and that he had no wounds for my transgressions. But how deeply thankful I am that he paid, he bore and he was inflicted with my wounds. My maker, the Creator of the universe is the One who is self-described as “meek and lowly”(meaning, in the Greek, insignificant one). He is the One who calls me, the creature, to rest. His redemptive work is my path to peace and rest (Matthew 11:29).

Maggie had no idea what she was singing. But, just like her grandmother, if she lives to adulthood, she will one day know. And she’ll wrestle with a guilt that can only be satisfied by the man on the cross—the GOD on the cross. It’s the everyday work of her diligent mother and dad to put in her a commanding trust in the Savior, so that, when that day comes, she will resolutely know, with all her heart, that He accomplished what she could not. It’s their everyday prayer that Maggie and Ellis will never boast in anything but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are so many tangible ways that parents can put this seed of dependence on the Savior in their children. We saw lots of them this week. We saw the concepts of trust, repentance, hope and even a glimpse of heaven put in Maggie during Bible time (that happens twice a day in their house). I asked Maggie if she had new “Bible Words” to tell me. She said “Yes. John 10:11.” And she proceeded with “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” We saw vigilant correction from her parents at each hint of any disrespect. We saw time—tons of time—spent by Bekah, showing Maggie that her heart—not her sweet face or braided hair or princess costumes—is what makes her beautiful. We saw her help her Dad invite neighbors to the gospel meeting. After those sweet invitations were offered, Maggie asked her dad “ Do you think she will come?” or “Did she say she would already be in the bed when we go to worship?” or “Did she say she would read a book we can give her about Jesus?” 

She had no idea exactly what the lyrics to “How Deep the Father’s Love” mean, but she will have a tender heart to them when they do have meaning for her one day. She is already becoming keenly aware of the dire need that her neighbors have to know Jesus. 

Moms, it’s the most important thing you do every day; putting the love of the Father at the very core of every activity of every day and putting the urgency of the message of Christ for our neighbors in little hearts. I know my children are doing a better job of this saturation-till-maturation process than I ever did. Their kids are facing a herculean effort of a society largely driven by an agenda of secularism and the suppression of the Word of God. I’m praying for the continued stamina of godly parents as they battle this effort. I’m particularly praying for the parents of Ellis and Maggie and those of  Ezra, Colleyanna and Eliza Jane. 

The very last song of that evening was a prophetic victory psalm for the people of God. I’m so looking forward to a new song.

It thrills my soul to hear the songs of praise, we mortals sing below,

And though it takes the parting of the ways, yet I must onward go;

I hope to hear throughout unnumbered days, the song earth cannot know,

They sing in heaven a new song, of Moses and the Lamb.

O to hear the angels singing,

To bid me welcome to mansions bright and fair;

O to hear the glad harps ringing,

With voices blending rich and rare;

O to see the Master bringing,

A precious life crown that I may own and wear;

I want to hear that mighty chorus sweetly sing,

I want to hear that mighty chorus sweetly sing,

I want to hear that mighty chorus sweetly sing,

To hear it swell and ring!

If I can sing this new song around the throne with the saved of all eras of time, I’ll be in bliss. If I can hear that mighty chorus swell and ring, nothing can mar my happiness. Every tear will be wiped away. I know that has to be true because my God has promised this. But I’m still going to keep  fervently praying that I can be, not just present in the throne room, but flanked around that throne by Glenn and the nine people who call me Mom and Mammy. Hearing our little chorus of eleven blending with all of the saved in raising the song of Moses and the Lamb surely seems just now to be the sweetest of all my anticipation. Lord, come quickly.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty! (Revelation 15:3)

How Deep the Father’s Love, by Stuart Townend–The New Song, words by J.R. Baxter, Jr. and music by C.C. Stafford. 
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Dear Ellis,


Dear Ellis,

I’d do anything within reason for most people who had a real need. But YOU. You needed nothing that wasn’t being given you already and, just to see you, your Papa and I drove 17 hours, part of which was driven in the wee small hours of the morning. Your papa doesn’t do that for anyone but you (…ok, perhaps for four other little people we love)! It was worth the drive. You, the only Colley name-carrier in all of our extended family, have wonderful dark eyes, brown hair, and you have a sister who’s two and dotes on you. That look in her eyes is pretty fun to watch, too. 

I’ll make your letter short and sweet. We don’t want too much. We only want you to move closer to your mammy and papa. We want to get to witness some of your first laughs, bites, crawls and steps. We want to get to play games with you and swing you in the big tree swing in our yard. We want to take romps in the woods behind our house and take you to the lake and watch you catch your first fish and then to the adjoining playground and slide and climb and play in the sand with you. We want to be able to come to your ball games and take you to the putt-putt course and the bowling alley.

We can’t be geographically close to you right now, so we’ll just take advantage of every little chance we get. But more than we want you to grow up close to us, we want you to grow up close to God. This very biggest wish of ours is something we already know (assuming you get to grow into a man) is a happening thing. This wish eclipses all others in our hearts. We watched your sister Maggie say almost all of the books of the Bible last week. We listened to her quote her “Bible words.” She explained to us what it means to repent and that most of all “we want to be just like Jesus.” Most of all, we want that for you. MOST. OF. ALL!

Your great-grandfather used to say “God’s best people are children.” We agree. you are completely and humbly dependent. You are pure and innocent. You are eager to learn and free of worry. You are so much of what we want to be. “Except (we) become as little children, (we) cannot inherit the kingdom.” 

Your mother and daddy are determined. As I watched you in your very first Bible time when you were just over 24 hours old, I thought about the big job your mama and dad are taking on. You will hear His word every night for the next 18 years or so. That’s about 6570 family Bible times.  You will have a couple of pairs of grandparents say your name to God, along with your praying parents, every single night. That’s about 20,000 times (at least) that the Father will hear your name before you leave home.

Ellis, if you preach the gospel, you will be a fifth generation gospel preacher. But, whether or not you do, you will be a fifth generation child of God. That’s all we want, because every Christian, by definition, is a follower of Christ. That’s all we want because, if you’re a follower, then you will follow Him one day all the way to a place where your papa and mammy will be waiting for you. It will be a place where we really can live close to you, forever and always. 

We love you. 

Mammy and Papa

P.S. Your grandfather put your sweet face up on the big screen before he preached today. I thought his buttons would pop off right there on that pulpit stage!