Browsing Tag

Gratitude

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Resolution at the Foot of the Cross

As I write, there are about 15 hours remaining in the year 2018. The rapidity of its elapsing is shocking. At this time last year I was mourning the death of my father, rejoicing in the anticipation of my new grand-daughter, embarking on a formidable speaking schedule, and turning over in my head the ideas for the 2018-2019 Digging Deep study. Now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, His mercies have led me to rejoice in cradling sweet Magdalene Joy Colley in my arms. Every car trip and flight has safely departed and returned and every speech has been delivered.  We are beginning  month five of our study of Authority. Thanks to supportive sisters, four podcasts and 24 mini-podcasts are already completed for that study. The memory of my father has sweetly lingered on, but, although the human heart in me is still sad, my spirit in the image of God is comforted by hope. 

And these are the words we sang yesterday just before communing with the Lord around His table for the last time during 2018.         

There are things as we travel this earth’s shifting sands 

That transcend all the reason of man;

But the things that matter the most in this world,

They can never be held in our hand.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.

 

I believe that the Christ who was slain on the cross Has the power to change lives today;

For He changed me completely, a new life is mine, That is why by the cross I will stay.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.

 

I believe that this life with its great mysteries Surely someday will come to an end;

But faith will conquer the darkness and death And will lead me at last to my Friend.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.

 

And I’ll cherish the old rugged cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I will cling to the old rugged cross

And exchange it some day for a crown.

Somewhere during the first of those verses, I noticed that my husband had stopped singing. I looked over and saw the tears streaming down his face. He, the man who has given comfort and aid to me on countless occasions when unbidden tears stained my cheeks, was weeping. I have seen him weep only about a half-dozen times in our 38 years together. I knew he was reflecting on the shifting sands of this earth. His sister is gravely ill and he is preparing to take his aged parents on a trip to see her in the next few days. I hear him bring her name before the throne multiple times each day. I witnessed Him do extremely hard things for conscience sake throughout 2018, even as some others sharply criticized those selfless actions on His part. I was lying beside him on sleepless nights, when he had internalized some marriage problem that someone had brought to him for counsel. Often, when sleep evaded him, he would get up in the middle of the night and spend time in study. I prayed with him about scores, perhaps even hundreds, of speeches delivered and about many situations in which he was doing his best to offer advice that someone needed. 

I knew at this moment during his worship that he was reflecting on the old rugged cross that is the centerpiece of His motivation; the reason for His work. I knew that he was both praising and praying for strength, past and future; for the hope that comes from Calvary. 

And so, somewhere deep in the wee hours of last night, I heard him get up and I heard the bedroom door creak open. He was walking into the kitchen and I said “Where are you going?” 

“I’m going to get a glass of milk. My sermon is keeping me awake.”

“But you already preached your sermon,” I responded. 

“No,” he said. “I mean the one I’m going to preach next Sunday.”

And so 2019 begins, somewhat uneventfully. One lesson finished…another looming.  I know 2019 will be a very blessed year for Cindy Colley. Sometimes during 2018 I have failed to be thankful. May I just stop with ingratitude. Sometimes during 2018, frustration over a distracted husband has tempted me to criticize. May 2019 find every hint of frustration changed to contentment as I bask in the protection and leadership of a husband who loves God even more than He loves me. Sometimes in 2018, my faith has been weak as we struggled together through some small crisis of this life. May I remember, in 2019, that the troubles of this world are just that: they are of THIS world and our citizenship is not of this world. My resolve is to praise Him every day of 2019 for this man who weeps at the foot of the cross and for giving him to me all those years ago. 

Everyone should make a New Year’s Resolution. I hope yours is grounded in the reality of the brevity of this life and the eternal blessings of the next.  

I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary, Words by Dale Oldham, Gloria Gaither and William J. Gaither; Music by William J. Gaither, Arranged by Camp Kirkland

The Old Rugged Cross, by George Bernard, Public Domain

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: From Thankfulness to Holiness

Often we think of the first chapter of Romans, remembering the fervent denouncement of those involved in what is there called “unnatural” and termed “vile affection.” It is extremely important in a world in which tolerance seems to have been been promoted to the position of executive and operative virtue of society, to be aware of the concluding verse of the chapter. It is the verse that, quite literally, is slicing our culture in half. The verse is clear that it is not enough to refrain from committing homosexual acts. As his people we must never lend our voices to defend such behavior or to show our approval. On the subject of homosexuality, we have to choose between cultural correctness and the word of God. We have to be sure that, neither with silence, nor with words or actions, do we ever indicate approval of the sin of homosexuality. We do not laugh at it in sit-coms, allow it to occur in our homes when others visit, or fail to respectfully express the truth about God’s condemnation of it in our blogs, posts, and conversations. 

But today, as I was reading from the chapter, I noticed that the Scripture details the progression of the trip from innocence to the guilt of homosexuality. In verse 21, it says that those who were changing the “natural” into that which is against nature, failed to glorify God and failed to offer Him thanksgiving.

Moms, how important is it that you and I chart a clear course of thanksgiving in our homes? How important is it that we make sure our children hear us, in abject humility, pour out our praises to God? How vital is it that we have them to make those lists of blessings at Thanksgiving time and, more importantly, all throughout the year…every year? How important, really are crayon colored thank-you notes written in the hand of young children? How important is that never-missed heartfelt table prayer prior to every meal? How important is it that parents control the impulses of instant gratification that are accompanied by little acknowledgement of His providence and of our resultant responsibility to use blessings for His glory?  How vital is it that you, Mom, are displaying constant thankfulness rather than constant complaining about the simple circumstances and problems of this life? Does gratitude matter?

The answer is yes and yes a thousand times over. Romans one clearly details a progression from unthankfulness to unholiness; from the heart of ingratitude to insolence. in fact, in this passage,  it is the failure to glorify and give thanks that predicates the sin of homosexuality. 

Moms have a wonderful opportunity to exhibit and promote a spirit of thanksgiving on this national holiday. But, then again, on which day of the year do we not have a rich harvest of His blessings for which our children should see us praising and thanking the One from whom all blessings flow? 

Our kids might eventually choose to live unholy lives to their eternal loss. Those words are difficult for me to even type. The thought of the loss of one of my children’s souls is more horrible than I can contemplate for very long. The specific possibility that one of my children would ever come to us and tell us that he/she had chosen a life of homosexuality or bisexual behavior is unspeakably grievous. But to look back and realize that I had contributed to a spirit of rebellion by failing to take opportunities to instill gratitude during their formative years would fill me with sorrow. 

Take the time. Look for His glory in all of your world each day. Magnify Him when you see Him in nature, in providence and in specific answers to prayers. Do this in front of your children. Engage them in thanksgiving every time you are in prayer together. Make thank-you notes a weekly or even daily part of your home’s core “curriculum”.  The ‘gratitude chambers” of your kids’ hearts may not be automatically opened in our affluent culture of self-gratification. So make sure  you are putting thanksgiving in those places of their hearts, remembering, as you do, that you are building a resistance against sins of rebellion that are death-worthy (Romans 1:32). 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: The Snare is Broken!

This beautiful song has been suggested for praise during our Digging Deep PTP session. Based on on Psalm 124:7, it’s about escaping and the powerful Father Who always provides that route (I Cor. 10:13). I hope you will be there to sing it with us. Please take a listen now and then before you come so we really can raise the roof one last time as a large group in our study of Great Escapes. That session will also be the kick-off for our 2018-2019 study, too. I’m hopeful that it can be our most influential yet. God is so good to let us do this together!

Don’t forget the Israel trip registration is now open exclusively for the Diggers and their immediate families. We will see the hill where the snare was broken.  We have a good group signed up already. You can click here for details about that:https://thecolleyhouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2019-Bible-Land-Passages-Colley-Israel-Studies-Program-and-Tour-General-Information-and-Registration-Documents-Revised-4.13.18.pdf

Finally, we’ve just begun month ten of our current study. It’s a long hard look at Calvary. I mean a hard look. We painstakingly study all the different ways our Lord could have avoided the agony. But he did not avoid it. He did not escape. He did not call the angels or choose to miraculously exonerate himself. He chose me. He chose my escape from death rather than his own. He chose my avoidance of eternal pain at the expense of his agony. He chose my life with the angels one day over his escape with the twelve legions he could have called that day at Calvary (Matthew 26:53). He chose me. It will do you good to spend some time on that reality this month. To say I’m thankful we can study this together is understating  the emotion. But the thankful heart affected by Calvary is often at a loss for words.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Topic Needed Was Topic Assigned.

So today…

  1. My dad was a sleepy-head because he coughed all night long.
  2. He was nauseated because of the antibiotic he took for the coughing.
  3. He was also dehydrated because of the nausea, which was because of the antibiotic, which was because of the cough.
  4. I got all mixed up about the starting time of my ladies’ day and I got there an hour early on a morning when I really could have used a little sleep. 
  5. I stopped on the way home to take a very short nap in the car and my husband phoned to “check on me” just as soon as I drifted off. Time all up!
  6. When I got back to my dad’s house, he had once again lost his breakfast and had despairingly gone back to bed. 
  7. I tried to get him up to watch the Bama game with me, although what I really wanted to do was go to a hibernation hole somewhere. But just as I was hoisting him up, the doorbell rang and a stranger delivered the news that Dad’s little dog had been hit by a car. 
  8. I told my dad to lie back down and do not get up. I got in the SUV with a big blanket to go down the meadow and find Tommy, bleeding and addled. 
  9. It took about eight calls before I could find an open veterinary office. 
  10. The veterinarian projected that the minimum cost for the surgery likely needed is two thousand dollars.
  11. I made the sad decision to have the puppy euthanized. 
  12. I had the sad duty to tell my father about the puppy.

So today, I am thankful for:

  1. The steroid and antibiotic that gives me hope for a better night’s sleep tonight.
  2. Supper that has “stayed down” for almost three hours now. 
  3. Mixups that make me early, rather than late.
  4. A chance to talk to women from Philippians 4 about how it’s not what’s happening on a particular day that determines my contentment. It’s about the promised peace that passes understanding. Do you think God provides what we need as His children?!… that His Word throughly furnishes us?!  I needed to do that particular expository of the great chapter about rejoicing. 
  5. A husband who checks on me.
  6. A sweet cousin who helps me with dad when I have to be gone for a couple of hours, even on days when he is sick.
  7. A great Bama victory to keep my dad preoccupied during the sad afternoon’s business. 
  8. Neighbors who were kind enough to take care of Tommy and come and notify me.
  9. Understanding my father’s limited income and his sadness, a clinic that donated the euthanizing shot and the cremation.
  10. A husband who always helps with difficult decisions, and does it with logic and a level head.
  11. My dad who, even though he forgets a lot of things (like I do), has not forgotten the difference between human beings and his dog. He simply said. “Well, we did what we could.” 
  12. A pillow on that bed in the back room and a monitor so I can hear my father if he calls. And the Word I can read as I fall asleep on that pillow…so I can hear my Father as He calls.

Some days you just think about Philippians 4 and the wonderful things Paul said about contentment from a dank and dark prison cell. And then the things about which you’re anxious seem small—negligible. And the peace that passes all understanding guards your heart and mind. It’s been a good day….And tomorrow? It’s the day when we go and get all that encouragement from the family of God. I hope my dad is well enough to go and get that…and worship the God of peace.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Who Hit Whom?

Maybe I shouldn’t have taken that random man on the side of the road to the hospital to see his son who, he languished, “was lying there on his death bed.” Yes, that same man who had just crashed into the back of my husband’s car—the car I was driving—from behind—while I was sitting dead still at a red light. 

That paragraph is pretty mixed up. Mixed up and disoriented is something of how I felt, too,  yesterday, after that red car just plowed into the car I was driving.  I was just sitting there at a red light in Attalla, Alabama, when the screeching of tires directed my glance over to the side rearview mirror just as my body lunged forward and then quickly back again…with force! I got out of that car and realized I had a huge metal hair clip in the back of my head that had been abruptly sandwiched behind my cranium. It was a headache of mammoth proportions. 

I couldn’t see the man in the other car. His airbag was inflated and covering his face. But I soon heard him yell “Someone please take me to the hospital. My son is dying. I have to get to the hospital, now. He’s lying on his deathbed.” He nervously pulled out his cigarettes and paced back and forth up and down the sidewalk, making one call after the other and intermittently begging for a ride to the hospital. But the police had arrived and they informed him that, as the driver of the vehicle, he could, under no circumstances, leave the scene. “Please let me go. My son is dying. Won’t someone please give me a ride?” 

In the meantime, someone WAS trying to give me a ride. It was an ambulance the size of a large fire truck. I’m not sure it wasn’t a fire truck! It was definitely paramedic overkill and I thanked them and signed all the papers refusing the ride to the hospital. All insurance info was put on the reports the officers collected. The wrecker came for the red car.  My sturdier car, though it was a pitiful mess, was still drivable. The incident was over. 

But the man who hit me was still begging for a ride. No one was coming to his aid. All the witnesses had left.  I looked at the police officer and said “You think I should give him a ride?” 

“Well,” she said, “I cannot really tell you what to do about that. Of course you’re free to do that if you want, but you do not have to.” 

“Well, but…” I began. “…you are an officer and you know this area. Do you think this is too risky to do? …I mean…well, If my son was in the hospital dying, I’d want to be there.”

“Well, I would not do it,” the officer replied. “I don’t know this man and your only contact with him is that he hit your car. But again, if your heart is telling you to…”

My heart was telling me to, I guess. But mostly “…whatsoever ye would that men should do to you…” was telling me to. So I said to the man…the big man… “Let me give you a ride to the hospital.”

It wasn’t long before I began to think a little more clearly and realized I might have made a mistake. As we got in the car, he began to speak with family members on speakerphone—loud speakerphone— about the wreck. Family members were using crude language and shouting about his wrecking the car belonging to “Justin, who was dying.” The conversations were unpleasant and I wanted to ask him to hang up, so I could call my husband and tell him about my morning and about my back muscles that were getting tauter and about my neck that was hurting when I turned it.

But then he said it…the sentence I thought I must surely be mishearing. But it was plain as day. He said it to his wife: “This woman who hit me is taking me to the hospital.” 

Seriously??!! I was the woman who “hit HIM”? I know I must have looked at him as if he had three heads, but …SERIOUSLY? 

Since I’d heard this man tell some pretty funny versions, at the site, about how the accident happened, I’d taken precautions to be sure the police knew I was stopped at the light, seatbelt on, and car sitting dead still, when the collision occurred. The police said they had witnesses and they were clear on that. “Whatever he is saying will not fly. We can see what happened here.” 

But still…seriously? He is going to sit right here in my car as I carry him to the hospital and tell his wife that I hit HIM?

To say the least,  it was a long ten miles to the hospital. I was informed about how that his son was in the hospital because he’d been poisoned…daily, for two years. When I asked how that happened, I learned that it was one teaspoon at the time. See, the government of Alabama had refused to allow its children to use the natural medicine, marijuana. They (the government) had supplied the children with bug spray mixed with oregano, instead. The Haitians were bringing it in as part of an ISIS mission and the local government was inviting them (the Haitians) in to work at the Goodyear plant, so they could annihilate the teen population. Emma Sansom and George Washington Carver were the good guys and they were under the ground because the respectable people get no honor in Alabama.  All of this man’s ancestors were decorated military intelligence officers and so was he…only he was now retired. He made me understand that I needed to do some research about the Jade Helm maneuvers and I’d be able to share the information with some other people. In fact, that’s why God had let him hit me today…so that I could learn this important information from him and share it and more people could escape from Alabama, understanding that even the police were welcoming ISIS. Four people on Sand Mountain had already died in the last two months from the poison and his son was probably next. It’s simply an ISIS induced community addiction. But his son would be okay, in the end, because his name had already been written in the family Bible. “I already wrote his name in the book and that’s all that matters.”

Of course, along about this time, I was agreeing with just about everything he said and praying I could put him safely out at the hospital. I’ve rarely been so excited to get to the door of an emergency room. Somehow I felt like this could be more of an emergency, by the time I got there, than my kidney stones had been last time I went the ER! (…And why couldn’t  just a regular, normal person plow into the back of my car?) Sometimes I’d like to be part of events that you could make up, if you were creative. But not this stuff.

I finally did get to call my husband who was in another state preaching yesterday. I got his voicemail and just asked him to call when he had a moment. A moment. That must have been exactly what he had when my phone rang. I could hear congregational singing in the background.

“Hello dear, you ok? I just have a second before I have to get back up to preach.” (Not even a moment…just a second is all I get?)

“Yes. I’m fine. But it’s your car. I got rear-ended.”

“Oh no! But you’re ok? You’re sure?”

“Yes. I’m sore, but ok.”

“And the other driver?”

“He’s okay, too.” 

“I’m so sorry. I love you. Gotta go. Bye!”

Apparently that was the “song-before-the-lesson” that I was hearing. 

Sometimes reality is hard to believe. I do not know if this man’s son was actually inside that ER or not. I do not know, if he was there, whether or not the substance being abused was really bug spray and oregano. I have a pretty good idea that ISIS, although having a presence in our country today, does not have one through Haitians at Goodyear in Attalla, Alabama who are part of Jade Helm maneuvers. I’m pretty sure the part about being a retired military criminal investigator wasn’t spot-on either. And I’m positive the part about the security-of-salvation- because-the-name-is-in-the-Bible isn’t. 

But it got me thinking about the way we view the ones who are our helpers. There I was providing the much-needed transportation for that man who had given me the biggest hit I’d ever taken. I was taking him where he needed to go. I was being quiet so that he could talk to his family. I was praying for him. I was trying to make a way for him to go on with his day rather than standing there alone on that busy street corner. My back was bruised and hurting because of the hit while I was listening to him argue with his family.  And then he said, “This woman, who hit me….” That, at least for a few secconds, made my blood boil. It did not feel good. At all.

Later on in the day, I was talking to someone with whom I’ve been trying to work through some problems that she’s been facing; problems she’s encountered largely because she walked away from God. She was disappointed in how one of her requests was answered. She said this: “OK. God has let me down…again.” She, at least momentarily, forgot. She forgot God was the One Who had picked her up. She forgot He was the One who had been quiet on the cross, so she could walk and talk and live in Him. She forgot that He was the One who was transporting her to heaven for eternity. She forgot he was bruised for her iniquities. She just forgot that she had been found in a place with no hope and that He had given her a chance to go on with her life, rejoicing here and through eternity. She forgot that while she was yet a sinner, Christ died for her (Heb. 5:8). 

Now, in no real or substantial way would I ever compare that little incident in Attalla with the mercy of God and our plight without Him. When she said that, I simply answered. “God did not do this. People are the ones who mess up.” I did, though, think about how I felt when that man said that I had hit him and I wondered how God must feel when we blame Him when things go wrong. We say “He hit me.” The One who brought us from hopelessness, submitting himself to unbelievable suffering and bruising for our iniquities (Is. 53:5). Why, we must seem to God as spiritually crazy and distorted as that poor man in the car with me, when/if we ever begin to blame Him when things go wrong. He’s taking us where we need to go in a far bigger sense than we can even perceive, and all of that, after we bruised Him in a bigger way than we can fathom! And He, unlike me in the imperfect analogy, chose to take the eternal hit!

May we remember the very real and eternal wreck and ruin from which we are able to walk away—from which we are transported— when we may ever think of assigning the blame for pain and sorrow to God. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation (Heb. 2:3)?!