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Faith

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!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

2020: What was I thinking?

I looked back this morning at what I wrote as 2020 dawned. Three observations:

1.  I thought flash flooding in Huntsville was the “lion” of 2020.

2.  A little Christmas stomach bug was a hijacking virus.

3.  I thought I was returning to a routine for the New Year.

One simple statement is enough:  this mind-blowing wisdom from the Holy Spirit…May I allow Him to guide me through every day of 2021:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

And below is the innocence and naivety of my “Happy New Year” message one year ago….I needed the “Come  now” of James 4:13-16. One thing I got perennially right, though. There’s still a blessing trail for me and every reader. Here are my musings one year ago (and notice in the group photo that Ezra was the only one having a 2020 premonition):

In Huntsville, Alabama, 2020 brought great torrents of rain. Glenn and I telephoned 9-1-1 from our car last night to report some pretty serious flash flooding across streets that were still open and being treacherously navigated. As he made the call, on this evening in which the last of our sweet holiday company had flown back home, I thought “This is a pretty apropos ending to a torrentially blessed, but chaotic season. All we need now is to be stuck in this raging deluge.” 

But they say, “When it comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb.” Maybe there will be some “lamb” days—some gentle and serene days in 2020 for work and contemplation and especially for Digging Deep (https://thecolleyhouse.org/digging-deep). I’m ready to put the house back together and search for some semblance of routine. Remember, the December podcast is next Tuesday night!

We had a ton of fun company in this house (that included a suicidal squirrel…https://thecolleyhouse.org/and-prior-to-the-lesson-this-morning), a lightning storm (that took out our largest backyard tree, our internet, Roku, modem, router and a window in the cabin), a virus that hijacked our Christmas morning plans, and one awful day when they could not hear a heartbeat from my grandchild that’s still in the womb.

But you know, there’s always that blessing trail (https://thecolleyhouse.org/the-blessing-trail). All of our children, viruses and all, were here with us. (My husband is going to speak at a baby’s funeral this very morning.) We are wealthy enough to be extremely dependent on our internet. The most stressful part of its absence was that I was falling behind on my Digging Deep research and my communication with the greatest group of encouraging sisters in the world! My husband, who was standing only a few feet from that giant oak tree, is alive and well (although his hearing may be a little worse for that wear)!  Our baby was just hiding the heartbeat, after all, and went galloping like a champ during the next, more intensive sonogram. The man, who came to work on our internet, took the time to talk with me about God’s plan of salvation, about baptism for the remission of sins, and he even tested the internet by going to our West Huntsville page. He says, “My wife and I will definitely be visiting your church. It sounds like you are teaching just the Bible and that is a rare thing.” The blessing trail, now and always, just goes on and on. He is so good.

He is good, not just to those like me who are in a season of extreme prosperity in so many ways. He is good, even to those who are suffering horrible reversals today. It’s my prayer during 2020, that I can behave, EVERY day, as though I really believe He is glorious and good. When there is stress and when there is peace; when there is encouragement and when there is sharp criticism; when there is devastation and when there is exultant joy; when there is danger and when there is safety—may I constantly be reminded of his supremacy and ultimate blessing in my life as His faithful daughter (Romans 8:28). 

I know the Digging Deep study will help me to keep my mind focused in exactly this way. I’m going to invite someone to do this study with us this very week. I hope you will, too. As women are making their New Year’s resolutions, it’s a great time to ask them to jump in and make this a deeper year in His Word.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

It’s a Colley Boy!

Ellis Glenn Colley! I just can’t absorb the announcement of the upcoming birth of the first Colley boy in 37 years (and only the second Colley boy in 61 years) without telling you what a blessing this is in the life of this Mammy!

Robert Lester Colley was what some called a restoration preacher. He was a gospel preacher, devoted to restoring New Testament Christianity in the first half of the twentieth century. He attended Freed Hardeman University (as did all four of the preachers in this post) before it was even called Freed-Hardeman.  (You can read about him here: https://www.therestorationmovement.com/_states/tennessee/colley.html). Preaching mostly in Texas, he was the father of two preaching sons, Gary Glenn and Robert. Here’s the family around 1940:

And here is the second in our line of preachers. (He’s the little boy on the right in the photo above.) This is Gary Glenn Colley, Sr. He has preached the gospel now for about 70 years.

Of eight grandchildren of Robert Lester, only one was a boy. His name is Gary Glenn Colley, Jr and that preacher is my husband.  As you can imagine, there was a lot of pressure on our Colley generation to produce the fourth generation preacher. I remember that day in Maury County Hospital, when my in-laws stepped off the elevator in the maternity wing to hear the first cries of Caleb Glenn Colley. A few moments prior, Glenn had, from the foot of that birthing bed, told me in excited tones “Cindy, I can see a head!” 

I said “Is it a boy or a girl?!” 

He replied, “I can’t tell from its ears!”

Glenn and I did not know that Caleb would become that preacher. We just prayed every day that he would become a faithful Christian, using whatever talents and resources given Him by our Father for His glory. But those talents and blessings are being used to preach and teach and influence in ways that only God can orchestrate. To Him be the glory!

Caleb is the father of two-year-old Maggie, who is the epitome of perfection. Here’s Maggie on Father’s Day with my husband, Glenn:

And speaking of Father’s day, it was last Father’s Day that Maggie gave her Papa (Glenn) a coupon book.  Little “drawings” on each page are redeemable for hugs or songs or story times, etc…But, to our surprise, the last coupon in the book was for a brand new Colley baby, due in February, 2021! We are counting on redeeming every coupon in that little book that’s in the top drawer of our dresser.

And everyone (at least everyone with whom I spoke) was pretty sure Maggie’s new baby was a girl. Maggie said “She is a gull.” Caleb and his wife, Rebekah were calling him “her” and “she.”  They had settled on a girl’s name, but not yet on a name for a boy. Technicians at clinics predicted a sister. But I found myself asking God last week for a boy—a boy who could grow up and be a leader for the kingdom…one more boy to carry our Colley name; if not now, then maybe later we could have a boy? Then I told the Lord that “maybe I should not ask you for a boy….A girl will be exactly what we want if that’s what our baby is!” Of course she would have been! 

But then I thought about the prayer of Hannah: 

“And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (I Samuel 1:11).

“Maybe Lord, it is okay with you if I pray for a man child. But Lord, if this child can only grow up and live his or her life for You…all of the days of his or her life, fully for You. And Lord, if I can just sit down around Your throne with this child forever and ever, Lord, that is all I want!” 

It was later that day, last Thursday, that we got the text message from the ultrasound room. Driving down Ryland Pike, I had to pull over and hyperventilate…and praise! There was the news about Ellis Glenn Colley and, soon to follow, his beautiful pictures…right there on the screen of my phone!

Moments later, I walked into the post office (to mail some more of your DD materials) and fairly shouted at Mindy, our superwoman-postal-worker, “It’s a boy!” I know the other lady at the window wasn’t really as excited as she sounded, but everyone at the post office stopped what they were doing for just a moment, and, even with masks on, had a little mini-party in honor of Ellis. “You have another Colley to wear the name!” came a voice reverberating from behind the counter in that tiny little post office.

May Ellis Glenn Colley, whether or not he is a fifth generation gospel preacher, be a fifth generation Christian. May he be given to the Lord all the days of his life!

Maggie’s response when they told her that her baby brother was coming soon was “I want to have him.” 

So do we, Maggie!

And thanks to everyone who read to the end.  I’m praying for your children tonight. Thank you for praying for mine! May we all keep that throne-room goal in an extremely central and sharp focus. In an era of uncertainty the Father of our primary family is sitting calmly in that room on that throne planning the day when, prayerfully, all five of those generations and all of your faithful generations, too, will be reunited. There are many rooms being prepared in that mansion (John 14:2). I hope your reservation is secured.

One last thing: I know our blessings of family-shared faith are not to our credit. They are due to His mercies in our lives that are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).  They are due to His revelation at work through our meager vessels. I also know that we cannot , in any sense, save our children or secure their places eternally with Him.  But we can pray that our homes will be sanctuaries from the world where holiness can grow.  Let’s all pray that for each other!