Browsing Tag

Forgiveness

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Opposite Directions

 

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Today I’m traveling south and east to get my arms around some pretty sweet grandchildren, one of which is just under two weeks old. Since tomorrow night’s the podcast and I’ll be doing it live and remotely from a distant location I feel like I’m almost moving mountains to make this trip. 

We are the sandwich generation, so my husband is traveling west and north to do some much needed tasks for elderly parents. He’s moving mountains, too (or at least trying to) after a very long time of their inaccessibility to groceries (and almost everything else) because of extreme cold and ice coverage in their area. 

So last night after worship, we parted, Glenn and I, and began making miles in the exact opposite directions from one another to give hugs to people we love who are at the exact opposites of the spectrum of life. For a good bit of this week, we will be about 12 hours apart from one another. 

When God says he removes my sins and casts them from me as far as the east is from the west, that’s profound. I move, in human increments, as best I can, TOWARD God and my sins are moved in divinely amazing proportions BY God to a far away and irretrievable place in the opposite direction of the one in which I am moving. 

Earlier in the day yesterday, I had a chance to study with a young woman I’m growing to love very much. She asked me about her sins. “When God forgives me, is it impossible for me to ever be lost again? Am I permanently saved?” We went through passages that teach us what to do about sin after the original east-west casting done by God. We talked about Bible characters who did sin impenitently and rebelliously after baptism and what was required for their restoration and subsequent salvation. But we also talked about the continual comfort of 1 John 1:7 for those baptized believers who are walking in the light (doing diligence to be followers of Christ: 

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

I explained to her how that the word for “cleansing” here is a verb of continuation. It means “keeps on cleansing.” She got that and she loved it. 

I asked her if she had other questions about the gospel she’s learned in recent days. She said 

“Yes, I have one more….Like, how can I be baptized…because I know I need to.” 

I asked her to explain to me her reasons for wanting to be baptized. She had a little list in her heart. 

“To be born again, to be dead to sin, to be washed from sin, to be saved.” 

I spent the night (or part of it anyway) in a hotel room near Atlanta, Georgia. And I slept soundly with a very grateful heart for the waters of baptism that washed away my friend’s sins yesterday…that removed them from her, as far as the east is from the west. I spoke with three sisters at West Huntsville who are going to check on her while I’m in Florida this week. One of them already invited her to our local Digging Deep study which happens tonight. On this, her first full day of being a Christian, I am praying very hard for her. Yesterday was the best day of her life. But the devil loves to give big challenges to those who are babies in the Lord. 

I’m so glad we serve a God who can put sin wherever he wants it to be; and, barring my choice to be close to sin again, He can keep its guilt far, far away from me…as far as the east is from the west. 

I’m going to spend a few miles today praising Him for this game-changing reality!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Aaron after the Calf

photo credit: Rebecca Jenkins Richardson

Because you asked: 

Here are the ten observations about Aaron’s “pardon” after the calf incident (in a succinct list):

  1. We may not know the answers, but God gets it right every time (Psa. 19:9)
  2. God used this action of Aaron to teach us the need for our own holy High Priest (Heb.5:1-4).
  3. God had just spent chapters 28-31 saying “The priests will sin, but I will cleanse,” (Heb.5:3;9:7).
  4. Aaron had already been called at the time of the calf-building, but not yet consecrated as priest (Ex.28:7).
  5. Aaron was not exempt from punishment (Nos. 20:12, 24-29)
  6. His penitence seems evident from Exodus 20:26.
  7. Levites were chosen shortly after this to claim the hallowed first-born place in Israel (Nos 3:5-13; Nos. 8:1-16).
  8. It appears that the reason for this “firstborn” status (the consecrating of Levites for the firstborn) was the repentance of Exodus 32:26-28.
  9. This consecration seems to be a partial fulfillment of Genesis 49:5-7.
  10. There had to be a firstborn substitute (Nos 3:44ff)

Hope this is helpful. Watch early next week for updates about three things: 

  1. March for Life in late January.
  2. Israel/Rome trip in 2022
  3. A few remaining shirts/hoodies. (Please don’t order in these comments. We will put them in the store at www.thecolleyhouse next week when we are sure everyone who already ordered has received. They will be very limited sizes and quantities and must be ordered in the store. Thanks very much. This is necessary in order for us to not sell the same shirt twice! Please do let us know if you have not received your previous shirt orders via FB message.)

Have the best kind of blessed week-end. I hope your world is as beautiful as Huntsville, Alabama is during late October!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #31: Proverbs 13:24–Children and Discipline

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:      

My Favorite Proverbs: Children and discipline (Prov. 13:24)

“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

Children come from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalms 127:3).  God sees each child while he or she rests and grows in the comfort of the womb, and He is the One who adds an eternal soul (Heb. 12:9).  It’s always been an instinctive thing for parents to want to give good things to their children. For that reason parents make a good illustration of how God cares for and blesses His children:

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:11).

Good parents correct their children, but that discipline is a challenge for parents who were reared without consistent correction.  They have to learn how to discipline from someone else. May I encourage young parents to seek out those who have successfully raised Christian children and to learn from them by asking questions and seeking counsel.  You don’t want your children to be deprived of loving discipline just because you did not have a great example of it in your parents. The Hebrews writer simply assumes that parents will practice discipline:

“Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:9-11). 

And, here’s a follow-up thought to the fact that God corrects His children:  “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:11-12).

Today’s proverb not only endorses corporal punishment–spanking–but strongly endorses this form of discipline. The word “rod”, according to Strong’s, can be used to describe a stick anywhere from a staff you used to steady your walk, down to a pencil-like instrument you’d use for writing.  Any who read into this an abusive form of discipline are ignoring other parts of Scripture (Eph. 6:4).

Additional thoughts about this “corporal punishment proverb”:

It implies that we are involved enough in the lives of our children that we know when spanking is warranted.  

Parents who daily take their children to others for childcare must come to grips with this passage and similar ones.  Can someone obey this passage for me or in my stead?  Will that someone have the same sense of fairness and diligence about timing and severity of a spanking?

Parents who have more than one child know that children are different and require special attention to know the whens and whats of discipline. 

Quality time isn’t just in the pleasant things like playing games together or going to get a milkshake, but also in unplanned moments when discipline and correction are needed.  

Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy

As we conclude the series on David and Bathsheba, let’s spend a couple of nights on godly sorrow and the wonderful forgiveness that God gives through His mercy. Tonight’s passage is Psalms 51. Read it aloud to your children. It’s short and even very young children should be learning to sit still during the reading of the Word.

  1. For young children, teach them that David was very sorry for all the wrong things he had done and that God forgave him. Teach them what forgiveness is. For young children it’s “forgetting that someone did wrong and acting like it never happened.” Let them act out several scenarios in which misbehavior happens and then walk them though what repentance and saying “I’m sorry” looks like: Examples of this role-play: a) Have a child say to a sibling “I do not even like you and I don’t want to play with you.”…Then talk about being sorry and have them apologize and have the sibling appropriately forgive. b) Have a child take a treat from the pantry without permission, get caught, come to “repentance”, apologize and be forgiven by parents. Emphasize here that sometimes there’s punishment (or consequences) even though there’s forgiveness. In the case of the stolen treat, for instance, there might be a week without those treats from the pantry. Just because there’s a punishment does not mean there is not forgiveness. Parents who love punish and forgive because they want their children to grow up to be good and happy people! (If you have teeny people, just practice saying I’m sorry and giving hugs, telling them Jesus wants us to always say “I’m sorry” when we do wrong.
  2. Remind young children of how Joseph forgave the brothers who had mistreated him. Tell them that Joseph was a happy person because he could forgive his brothers. We cannot be happy if we are not “forgivers.”
  3. Read Matthew 6:15 to your children and discuss the ramifications of being unforgiving.
  4. Have older kids choose a verse from Psalm 51 that shows David’s very deep regret for the things that he’s done in the horrible Bathsheba time of his life. Have them discuss with you how this shows that, even though there’s forgiveness, there’s pain caused by sin.
  5. Have older children also look at 1 Kings 15:5 to see how God looked at David’s life, as a whole. Discuss this with them. Tell them to make it a goal to not have a time in their lives that will stand out as a time of sin and shame like this time in David’s life. Make sure they understand that regret over sin is bigger, when it is haunting a person, than it seemed it would be before the sin. Challenge them to think about how much bigger the regret in Psalm 51 was, than what David was counting on in 2 Samuel 11.  He was thinking of immediate “happiness” and sexual fulfillment in 2 Samuel, but his “instant happiness” carried sorrow and regret for a long time.
  6. If your family knows “Create in Me, O God, A Clean Heart” from Psalm 51, sing it now and pray with your children. (You can find the song in many places online, of course, by googling. Alternately, you might sing “Love Lifted Me.”)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: “I Said I Would Try”

“Ezra, what happened?! You told me on the way here today that you were going to be good and obey!” He leaned in dramatically and said slowly for emphasis, “No, Mama. I told you I would TRY to be good and obey. But then I said ‘but I probably won’t.’”

Taken from my daughter’s Facebook status yesterday, it’s probably the 3-year-old way to verbalize how we all feel sometimes when we fail to live the way we intended. It’s how I feel when I fail to keep the New Year’s resolution about more time for study and prayer. When I fail, yet again, to speak in kindness to my husband, who does love me similarly to the way Jesus loved the church. When I fail to give my friend the World Video Bible School card that I intended to give her in hopes that she would watch a soul-saving lesson. When I fail to encourage the sister at services who has been going through a broadly known temptation to sin. When my voice is larger than my persistence in patience with my children. When my will to be in control of spending is not as firm as my desire for some fleeting pleasure of this world.

“I said I would TRY, God.” How must He feel when I fail over and over?

I suggest that it was not an inexperienced God who answered the question in Matthew 18, “How often shall I forgive my brother who sins against me?…until seven times?”

The “No. I’m telling you to forgive him until seventy-times seven,” answer was not based on any reality of man sinning against man. After all, is there any human being who has trespassed 490 times against Cindy Colley?  The answer is no.

But have I…will I transgress that many times against my God?  I hope I do not do it in one day, but, alas, I probably have/will in my lifetime. God was saying to me “Be willing to forgive others, to the extent  and with the love with which I have forgiven you.”

In fact, He said that His forgiveness of my “490 actual sins” is dependent on my willingness to forgive my brother/sister of the total number of sins for which they seek my forgiveness; even though my burden to forgive will never actually reach the extreme level of God’s willingness to forgive me. The extreme level was/is Calvary.

The lesson is not about overlooking Ezra’s misbehavior. I hope he got the spanking because He will be blessed to have experienced consistent discipline. The lesson is not about God overlooking my sin, either. It’s about the amazing length to which His arm of salvation was willing to reach to pull me from its clutches, because, in His righteousness and justice, He could not overlook it.

I’m so thankful that when I really do try, as His child, he disciplines me, forgives me and then always sits me down again beside Him and gives me another chance. I, like Ezra, am pretty sure I will never get it exactly right. But I will be sitting beside Him when the last service is over, when the last hymn is sung, when the last  “amen” has been uttered. And He will just transfer me to sit, once again with Him, around the throne…for always…not because I was perfectly good, but because I was perfectly forgiven at Calvary.

The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Pop-off People

Do you know anyone who’s just liable to pop off in a rage at any given moment?…Someone you just dread being around because she just might snap at you for the least of offenses, or for nothing at all? Sometimes such a person will be fairly polite for an extended period of time, causing you to loosen your guard and open up to her–share some of your opinions–only to have her lash out once more, causing you to retreat again and making you want as little conversation with her as possible. 

I’m not an expert in dealing with such a person. But I’m getting more experience and I can think of a few lessons learned in what is, perhaps, not the prettiest way. 

First, I hope you don’t allow yourself to become embittered toward such a person. If you do, you lose the best chance to do something that builds patience (James 1: 2ff ) Instead of shouting or “smarting” back, try gently explaining that, while you do not deserve this kind of mistreatment, you refuse to lash out in anger against anyone and that you will do your best to continue to be nothing but kind regardless of how you are treated. Each time you respond in kindness, you’re building spiritual muscle that makes you stronger for the next encounter.

Second, resolve to pity that person. Just be glad you are not her. Be glad you are the recipient of ill treatment rather than the dispenser. Such a person is not very happy. Troublemakers are troubled people. Besides, you have the favor of the Lord if you do not seek to retaliate in such a scenario. Stay on His side. 

Thirdly, Read the last few verses of Romans 12 and think of some practical ways in your specific situation in which to heap coals of fire. In my instance, this person told me exactly what inexpensive item she’s looking for right now on eBay. She told me this just before exploding at me. Well, I can shop on eBay, too, and I may search for some coals. I just may find some (at a bargain price) to heap on her head. Perhaps it would help move her toward heaven. 

Fourthly, if you believe there might be a disorder or a chemical imbalance occurring that’s causing outbursts of anger, pray and consider toward finding someone who might be able to convince the angry sister (or brother) to seek medical or professional help for the problem. Often this is very difficult to accomplish (because everyone’s afraid to get close enough to the ticking time bomb to suggest it), but I have seen angry people modify or eliminate the problem with proper help. They’ve gone on to live happy and productive lives. Homes have been stabilized and marriages strengthened by medical intervention. It’s just a fact.

Fifthly, don’t put too much stock in a criticism if it is from lips that alternately yell and scowl and bear gnashing teeth. Go to an older, wiser, unbiased person and ask for an assessment before you enter the world of guilt. Most importantly, go to the Word.

Lastly, remember the lamb that was led to the slaughter, opening not his mouth (Is. 53:7 ). Remember he spoke from the cross saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” and made that forgiveness possible beginning at the following Pentecost (Acts 2:37,38). Remember your own state without that lamb’s sacrifice. (Your sin might not be unrighteous anger, but it is something!) Be sure that you are on-the-ready to forgive if penitence is achieved in the life of the angry sister. In fact, you should be in prayer for that penitence. 

Remember, the golden rule was meant for golden opportunities. When someone pops off at you, it’s a large and spontaneous and, yes, a golden opportunity to exhibit your faith in the command of Matthew 7:12.                                                                             

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: It’s about the Overtime

I don’t know a lot about NFL football. I was not even present for the first three quarters of that game last night. Even after I got my father situated at the end of the third in front of the TV, got the babies changed and pajama-ed after worship, got everyone a piece of pizza and had a prayer, I could not have told you the score. But the momentum of that fourth quarter was enough to move even the most lukewarm easy chair observer. 

But this Falcons-Patriots fifty-first Super Bowl match-up was, in one sense, the most exciting of all Super Bowl games because it went into overtime. Never before has a Super Bowl game gone into overtime. And this overtime proved to be the undoing of a team that had kept the lead for about 59 of the previous 60 minutes, at one time having led by 25 points.

The thing that always strikes me about overtime is the fact that it is a brand new fresh start. Both teams begin again, just as at the initial toss of the coin…on level ground with an even score, the same number of time outs and the same luck of the toss. All interceptions, errors, fumbles and missed kicks are erased. From many perspectives, it’s just as if the four previous hard-played quarters never even occurred. 

That’s what life is like for Christians. We live in overtime. All the mistakes and interceptions and fumbles of the past life of sin are erased when we come out of the waters of baptism. We begin again with a brand new chance to finish strong. No matter that we spent three quarters lagging terribly behind in the devil’s territory. No matter that we allowed more points than we ever should have given up to the opposition. No matter than we lost a lot of opportunities and allowed strong opponents to run right over us. No matter that we let a lot of mentors and supporters down. We get to start all over again and what matters is not the last four quarters of squandered chances. The only thing that counts now is what we do with the overtime. 

I’m not so big on NFL ball. I’m glad the Pats won. I was pulling for them because my son’s a fan.  But I’m very big on the extension that we have in Jesus after the buzzer. Unlike the Patriots, we could never deserve a second chance. We’ve failed miserably and we cannot recover by playing hard and tying up the game. The blood of Jesus offered at Calvary evens the score. It gives us hope of winning once again. And the prize is not a trophy, fame, money or a place in the hall of fame. The prize is eternal life. It’s a prize, unlike the Super Bowl championship, that will be of ultimate importance a hundred years from now and, from hence, throughout a timeless state of existence.  

For Tom Brady, I know it was important to forget the previous sixty minutes and view the next few seconds of overtime as simply “all that mattered”. For me, it’s important to remember what God has forgotten. He’s  forgotten all my sins and iniquities to remember them no more (Hebrews 10:17).  Paul thought about His overtime reprieve this way in Philippians 3:13,14:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.