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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: 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!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Smaller Fish to Fry

Last week I had two of my grandchildren and I took them to the lake for a late afternoon fishing expedition. Ezra was elated that we found a little bream bed and he and Colleyanna caught a total of five minnows. (Well, they may have been a little bigger than a typical minnow, but not much.) He thought the one that was six inches long was a whopper! He’s learning early that it’s a temptation to exaggerate fish sizes when you’re the one catching.

On our way home, I wanted to get Family Bible Time done so we could get fish cleaned. (Yes, we were cleaning and frying the minnows. They are the grandkids, so whatever they want…),  I wanted to get the kids bathed and in the bed ASAP. It was already dark when we left the fishing  bank. 

I decided I’d tell them about the time Jesus—post-resurrection—apparently cooked fish over a little fire of coals for his disciples on the shores of the sea of Galilee—from John 21. As I began to tell the story, the conversation went like this:

Me: I want to tell you about the time, after Jesus had died on the cross and after He had come out of his grave, when he cooked some fish on the shore of a big lake and fed his disciples. 

Ezra: Wait! Could you, please, oh please, just start at the very beginning. I just love this story. 

Me: What do you mean “ start at the beginning”?

Ezra: You know, Mammy, could you tell the whole story? This is my favorite one. 

Me: Do you mean from when Jesus was born?…Or from when He made the world?…You know there’s really no beginning of the story of Jesus, because He has always been.

Ezra, Let’s see, could you please start in that room where Jesus was washing their feet? That’s really the beginning of the whole story about when He died. 

So I did. We talked about how Jesus was the King, who had always lived in a place where no feet ever got dirty. 

Me: In fact, it’s a place where nothing ever gets dirty. And this King, who made these people was now on the floor, washing their dirty, smelly feet.

Ezra: Wait, let’s talk about heaven. There’s really a lot of things I don’t ‘unnastand’ about heaven. I know Jesus and God are there, but how can we just go to a place and just love, love being there forever and never go anyplace else?

Me: Well, we just have to trust God and know that we are going to love it there. In fact, there will not be one thing that we don’t absolutely love about heaven.

Ezra: I just cannot unnastand that. 

Me: Well, when we don’t understand, that’s when we just believe God, because He always gives us what is the very best for us. 

Then we went on to talk about Peter and what it means to “deny” and how we should never even want to pretend that we don’t know the Lord. Then we went on to focus on Judas.

Ezra: You mean Judas, this bad guy, was one of the disciples. Really? I don’t think I knew that. 

Me: Yes. He was not always bad. There had been a time when He was good. 

Ezra: So he was a good guy who turned into a bad guy?

Me: That’s right. We learn from Judas that we all have to be very careful all the time that we do not do things that we know are wrong. Judas was the one who took care of the bag that had the money in it and one day he started stealing money from that bag. At first, it probably made him feel bad, but he just kept doing it until he could really do it and not even think very much about it. 

Then I told him all about how Judas took the thirty pieces of silver back and threw them down, but it was too late. The Jews would not heed his pleas to “undo” his sin. We talked about the meaning of “betray.” Then we talked about how it is that, sometimes, people do wrong things that they cannot ever fix again. “God will forgive us, but we cannot always put things back like they were before we sinned.” 

Then we talked about the garden where Jesus prayed so hard that he would not have to die, if there was any other way. But there was no other way for us to get to go to heaven. 

Ezra: We can’t skip the part about the nails. You won’t skip that part, will you?

Me: No, we cannot skip that part, because that’s the part where we can be saved. It’s all because he died for us…We (people) are the ones who sin, so we should have to be the ones who are punished, but Jesus, who never sinned even once, did that for us, so we could go live in heaven. We cannot skip that part. But before that, while Jesus was praying he asked Peter and James and John to watch and pray while he went into the garden to pray to God. But they kept falling asleep. He went to pray three times and each time Jesus came back, they were asleep. Do you think you could stay awake and watch if Jesus asked you to?  

Ezra: They must have been very tired. 

We chronicled, in three-year-old and five-year-old terms, the arrest and particularly, the Malchus incident in the garden. Ezra told me that Jesus “just picked up that ear and put it right back on that man.” 

About that time, Glenn came out to our car to get the fish to clean them. We prayed together and vowed we’d finish the story tomorrow night. 

Laying in the bed later that night, I asked Glenn how the cleaning went. “Good,” he said. “Ezra chose the order of cleaning. He wanted me to wait till last to clean the tiniest fish.” 

“Why?” I asked. 

“He said ‘That youngest one hasn’t got to see too many things yet.’ He said he was going to let him see a few more things before he died.”

I’m glad Ezra loves the story of the cross. What a privilege it is to “tell him the story of Jesus and to write on His heart every word.”

I’m glad he wants to talk about heaven. I’m glad he wants to “unnastand” more about that place we’ll never leave.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Replacing the Calendar Again

When I hang a new calendar, looking over the spent and tattered one I’m putting in that file cabinet…the cabinet that now has a stack of gridded sheets that represent the business, the slammed schedules, the birthday parties, the travel. as well as the mundane housecleaning, cabin cleaning, and mending days of the past year, I always try and think about the big picture. Every little square in that twelve page card stock and pocketed book that I’m filing away was a day of movement. Every square was movement toward heaven or away from it. We live sadness and hope. We live purpose and appointments. We live fun and fervor. But we never live static. Each turn of the page is a progression toward eternity. What makes each square so precious is that one square will be the last one. 

…Which makes me think about empathy. With the passage of time in each of our lives, our experiences multiply. I mean, I used to have no clue about grandparenthood. (Who are all these crazies who are obsessing over a dimple or the color of a baby’s hair?) Now I know. I fully empathize because my realm of experience grew. That happened on one of the squares in 2014. I used to come up short in the empathy department for those who were caring for elderly parents. Not any more. That happened slowly on lots of squares in the past ten or so calendar records. Experiences have simply broadened my scope of empathy. It was never that I didn’t have sympathy for those in the sandwich generation. But empathy is a whole different thing. Empathy is what make you give grace and truly feel WITH another who is experiencing something you’ve known firsthand. Remember, empathy is what makes our Lord the GREAT high priest that He is. We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Rather, we have one who has been tried in every point, just like we are tried, yet He did it without sin (Heb. 4:15). Empathy qualifies him to be my mediator and I am so thankful for His divine empathy. 

On that page, let me list a few scenarios of which I will not be critical this year. Experiences produce empathy. Empathy produces grace. So here:

  1. I will not criticize young mothers who are struggling in worship services to make toddlers behave. 
  2. I will not criticize young families who are occasionally late for Bible class.
  3. I will not criticize young moms who show up for Bible class on Wednesday night in jeans and a milk-stained t-shirt. 
  4. I will not criticize older people whose eyes occasionally close and whose head sometimes inadvertently bows during the sermon on Sunday.
  5. I will not criticize bragging grandmothers.
  6. I will not criticize grandmothers who buy too many baby clothes.
  7. I will not criticize the careful choices made by children about the care of aged parents.
  8. I will not criticize the families of faithful elders and preachers about matters of judgment.
  9. I will not criticize people who occasionally cry in public–people who others may classify as “emotional basket cases.”
  10. I will not criticize the eating and exercise habits of busy people.
  11. I will not criticize those who do not take every call at the moment it comes.
  12. I will not criticize busy people who lose keys, phones, glasses and other essentials frequently and who sometimes forget appointments.

There’s a little list of a few of the many decisions that experience has helped me make. Experience is my friend. Gray strands are my teachers. I know that our realms of empathy are not all the same. But the world might be a gentler place if we allowed the scenarios  and circumstances we’ve faced to teach us grace. Notice that I did not say “indifference to sin.” We have to care deeply about what grieves God. But empathy makes us also care deeply about the “infirmities” of His people. Experience makes us keenly aware that we might not know details that are crucial in decisions being made by others. Empathy makes us better people.  

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

You Can’t Do this Later…

Last Sunday morning found a bunch of Christians that I personally know with sick kids and viewing worship on livestream. One of them sent me these notes she jotted while viewing the West Huntsville livestream and caring for the babies. So today, one photograph says it all. If we could process this one lesson from the pulpit to the lifestyle, our families, churches, and evangelistic efforts would thrive in ways we’ll never know unless we do just that. If you want to hear the full lesson, it’s here:

Later that day, at Kidsing, Glenn asked the weekly question to the little ones: “Who can tell me what the sermon was about this morning?” The answer, from a six (or so) year old:

“Ten things we have to do and we can’t do them later.” He was right and here’s a rundown of those important “right now” things. Enlarge, print and put it on your fridge or in your Bible. Most of all, put it in your life!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel– Stop #6: Jericho

The next stop on our tour was Jericho. I will always remember this stop as the place where I rode the camel and permanently lost my i-phone while riding; but there are some very faith-building events in history that should make Jericho a favorite stop for any Bible student traveling in Israel. So, today, a short synopsis.

We know Jericho as the first great city of Canaan conquered by the Israelites. You remember it was the home of the harlot Rahab (She likely lived between the thick double-walls of the city) who hid the spies, sent by Israel to search out the land. She had heard great things about Jehovah. She feared Him and, because of this faith and her willingness to help the enemy of her own people of Jericho, was spared in the great destruction that followed the marching around the city for seven days by the people of God. You can read about the covenant the spies made with Rahab in the latter part of Joshua 2 and about the destruction of Jericho in Joshua 6. 

It’s very interesting to read from archaeologists who’ve studied ancient Jericho. In the mid- 1950s, Kathleen Kenyon did extensive work in Jericho and published her findings, largely debunking the Biblical account, premising that the archeological evidence discredits the Biblical account. Published during an era when much of the world was all about discrediting the Word of God and throwing off its authority, her study was widely read and accepted. 

But in 1990, an article in Biblical Archaeology Review (a journal that definitely does not adhere to any literal interpretation of Scripture)  published quite the opposite view. When perusing the findings that are the basis of this article, one is stricken with the amount and weight of the evidence that the invasion and destruction of Jericho happened at the time and in the manner that the first few chapters of Judges relates. I would advise the reading of this article in Christian Courier. It will build your faith and make you glad that you serve Jehovah! It’s here:

In the Jericho area today, there’s a modern city. Just outside this city, now in the political West bank (thus under Muslim rule), over 20 civilizations have been unearthed; so Jericho is a tel in the expansive sense of the word, for sure. It’s a stacked succession of ruins of conquering civilizations. (The fact that we can unearth layers of stacked civilizations should remind us of the temporary nature of our current way of life.) The demise of our “way of life” is certain and, thus, always pending.

As God foresaw the layers of a tel, He made a judgment promise in Judges 6:26:

Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he

lay its foundation,

and at the cost of his youngest son

shall he set up its gates.”

In I Kings 16:34, some 700 years after the prophecy that whoever rebuilt the city would pay for it with the loss of both his oldest and youngest sons, Hiel, the Bethelite did just that, and his sons were the bulk of the purchase price for this real estate tycoon, who failed to do the spiritual research (or failed to believe it) regarding the investment required for this first  renovation of Jericho. 

Ten quick and obvious lessons from Jericho for your September day:

  1. Always, like Rahab, examine the evidence for yourself. Don’t let the culture around you sweep you up in it’s ever-changing philosophies.
  2. Obey the details of Scripture for your eternal escape. Rahab could have deviated from precision in many ways, but she did not. 
  3. Like Rahab, do your best to save your household. 
  4. God can do anything He wants to do, using whatever implementation he chooses. Marching and trumpets for defeat of a large civilization?!! Bring it on!
  5. No matter the taunting of today, the great pending eternal salvation will be worth the ridicule!
  6. Harlots are worth saving. Redeemed people are honored beyond  belief in God’s economy (Matthew 1:5).
  7. The passage of large amounts of time is no object in the keeping of God’s promises. Don’t be lulled, like Hiel, while you wait for judgment.
  8. Be like Rahab, who saved her household for righteousness; not like Hiel who sacrificed his for economic profit. 
  9. Our God’s glory is dependent on His promise-keeping. His promise, through the spies, to Rahab; His promise to the marching Israelites; His promise to the re-builder of Jericho…all of these came down toward a glorious moment of redemption that was in the preparing. 
  10. Like Rahab, befriend the people of God, even if it means threat to your safety or well-being. God has a way of making our righteous, but dangerous paths His opportunity to mightily prevail. 
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Too Political on Facebook?

I’ve been preparing a lesson about the temptations that may come our way when we spend time in various venues of social media. Even as I was working on this, I got a letter from a friend who was expressing dismay that Christians would ever express any political views on social media. She was especially critical of folks revealing for whom they’d voted in past elections. Her reasoning was mostly that political change or governments will never be the answer for the ills that plague our world; that the gospel is the answer. She’s right about that last statement, for sure. 

Because I know that God’s gospel is the ultimate answer for all of our challenges as pilgrims on the earth, I have a strong sense of  responsibility to speak gospel-related conviction on matters of faith and morality; to speak God’s truth. Further, if I am going to BE on social media, I am going to use whatever small (and I know it is small) influence I may have for the things that I believe a Christian must stand for. I cannot conscientiously do otherwise. I am going to do it with kindness, to the very best of my ability, but not with timidity, if I can help it. 

People who say that social media is not the place for speaking about politics overlook the fact that there are many very basic and Biblical moral and spiritual issues that are dividing our nation right now. Morality IS politics today.  In fact, the largest chasms in the political arena in America today are over faith-related issues. The fact that I might not want to be political does not negate my responsibility to be opposed and to state opposition to immorality. Romans 1:32 rings in my head when I am tempted to be silent simply because I know I will face opposition.

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (emphasis mine…CC).

The very idea that we would have a platform, largely driven by Satan, where we could still say truth from His word, and that we would not say that truth, is just not palatable for me. At the same time that I was working on this lesson, another Facebook friend contacted me to ask if I thought she should say something to a sister in Christ who was celebrating the gay marriage of a son. The idea that a Christian would be informed by Facebook of such a spiritual danger going on in the life of a sister and then be silent about that danger is at odds with Galatians 6:1. We can’t just peruse Facebook for our idle entertainment without applying the principles of Christianity when given opportunities to influence. Facebook or Instagram or Twitter are not somehow excluded from the big picture of who I am, as a disciple. If I’m in a social media community, I’m seeking souls, I’m applying principles, I’m caring for innocents, I’m looking out for widows; all of this just as I do in the physical community where my house stands.    

So, I will continue to write for the innocent unborn, against gay marriage, for the sanctity of the lives of elderly and handicapped and against the legalization of gambling of all kinds, for the fair treatment of all people of all races and ages and against government funding of various kinds of evil in the name of art. And the list goes on.

To be clear, I am not a fan of President Trump; not as a celebrity or as a personal decision-maker.  I have said that over and over and over. I think he is an immoral man. (I respect his office and would treat him with honor, of course, as I would any president, were I to ever have the privilege of meeting him.) But I do believe there’s a good share (certainly not all) of His policies that have already served to protect things worth protecting. One example, among many,  appeared in my newsfeed just today. He said “… every life is a sacred gift of God. And that’s why I’ve asked Congress to prohibit extreme late-term abortion of babies.”  This is one of those policies that I strongly support. I will continue to vote, both in local elections and federal ones, based on policies of individual candidates; not party-based affiliations. The most important issues to me will always be those about morality. The most pressing moral issue of our day is the abortion holocaust.  While, I do not have  permanent party affiliations, I think it a mistake to ignore the truth about which party currently and  openly supports the continuation of the killing. It does so in its very platform. 

Through social media, I have been able, with God’s great Providence to help change the fates of specific children who were not being given the chance to breathe outside the womb.  I have been able, with His Providence, to assist in placing a handicapped child in a forever home. I have been able (not me, but Him) to help change a pro-choice mind to be very vocally pro-life. I cannot stop promoting what I believe COULD, in my lifetime stop the holocaust that will be credited to my generation. I will do all I can in my physical neighborhood and state and through my social media presence to save lives and I will do this without apology. 

I know I need His wisdom and I know I do not always see things correctly. I am so fallible. I’m also aware that any difference I can make through social media is a small one–even minuscule, perhaps.  I don’t have illusions about my own importance. It’s a huge social media world out there. But I have to do what I have to do as I read His word and think on the unconscionable sins that have overtaken our nation. I do this while I am teaching my grandchildren and everyone who will listen that this nation will fall one day (if the earth stands long enough), but the spiritual nation of which we are citizens, will never fall. That’s the power and promise of the gospel. This world is not my home. The gospel is the ultimate answer to every sin that’s at work corrupting our society.  We’ll be okay, come what may, because, God is our Psalm 46:1 help. He is present when we are in trouble. He’s in charge.

The Lord is my refuge and my strength; a very present help in time of trouble.