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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Glenn Colley–Ten Truths about Marriage

This is something Glenn wrote 14 years ago. Further, Glenn and I are not certified counselors. Often though, God puts us in the paths of couples who are seeking advice about how to “fix” broken aspects of their marriages. Of all the couples involved in all of these conversations, I’m sure we are the couple that has learned the most. Glenn reflected on these lessons learned and made a list from which he will probably one day preach or perhaps he will one day include it in a book. They are not necessarily profound, but they are absolutely true. (They are as true in 2024 as they were in 2010 or in any previous year. They will be true in 3024 if the world stands in another millennium.) The preferable time to think about them and make adjustments is before your marriage is in trouble. Here’s the list:

1. Advisors don’t know what the problem in your marriage really is until they talk to both of you. They will sometimes think they do, but they don’t.

2. You were schooled about how to act in marriage by your parents. You may do better or worse at it than them, but they laid your foundation.

3. Two people who are compatible enough to marry and who will maintain their dedication to obey God above all, will never divorce.

4. Wives, and sometimes husbands, can easily fall into destructive habits of constantly finding fault with their mates. Many spouses have died the death of a thousand cuts.

5. Pornography robs marriage of trust and happiness. If you’re viewing it, beg God to forgive you and do whatever is necessary to stop it.

6. Adultery doesn’t begin in the bedroom. It starts in innocent places with electric conversations and glances.

7. If you think the person you’re having an affair with will always be loyal to you when he was willing to break up your marriage, you’re not very smart at all. You’ll burn your family bridges to marry him (or her) and wake up one morning very miserable for the mess you’ve made of your life.

8. The typical husband is very predictable. He is programmed to respond to a wife who is feminine, gentle, respects him, and pays attention to the marriage bed.

9. Enduring a marriage crisis can make your marriage stronger than it otherwise might have been, if the problems are fixed right–with plain-talking repentance, open communication, and reciprocal warmth that is willing to forgive and move on in the grace of God.

10. Children do not escape the divorce of their parents unscathed. They are generally the ones who suffer most and they generally are better off in a marriage of conflict than in a situation in which divorce has occurred. (I, Cindy, contributed this one. I seem to always end up working more closely with kids involved in divorce. It is the saddest of all the things I do in life.)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Glenn on Praiseworthy Thinking


Some mornings in life you will awaken with a lot of negativity on your mind. Today’s post is from a good friend (my best friend on earth)  who helps me put the minuses in my world each day in their proper place and just go on praising. It’s what I need today. But first, one of my best helpers who’s already finished his race:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you (The apostle Paul–Phil. 4:8-9).

According to Strong’s, the word praiseworthy means well spoken of, i.e. reputable; of good report…sounding well; uttering words of good omen, speaking auspiciously. 

Paul means we should meditate on things that good people would admire. Consider three illustrations from Scripture: 

1. Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Paul is urging them to reflect well on the gospel in their community by the way that they live.

 2.  The qualifications of men we need for our church elders include, “…he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:7).

3.   Jesus taught us to live our lives so that, in general, people will admire His Father because of the lives we live serving Him, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16).  

Perhaps the application of this principle fluctuates with cultures, but the meaning is this: Generally speaking, there are things which good people in any society approve and appreciate.  These are the better things in us. Perhaps it is less true in America today—we’re in a time when political assemblies can erupt into crowds booing when the name of God is mentioned in a positive way—but the general recognition of good exists, nevertheless, and arguably, still among the majority of people in our country.  Think for a moment about praiseworthy ideals: to honor one’s parents, to possess good manners, to show respect toward the elderly, to protect women and children when they’re in trouble, to be honest even when our dishonesty might go unpunished, to obey the law as a matter of conscience (Rom. 13:1-5), to respect other people’s property, to respect God’s laws about sexuality (avoiding adultery, homosexuality, rape, lasciviousness, etc… [1 Cor. 6:9-11]), to be kind to people who are kind to us and even to those who are not. These are things that are respected by the communities in which most Christians live and work.

There are still many in this old world who appreciate these things. Paul exhorts us to meditate on them. To do so contributes to our spiritual health and to preventing impediments to our successful evangelism.  

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Shameika Hanna

(The following was “stolen” [but I know I have her permission] from a dear friend who works very hard in the Lord’s church on Grand Bahama. The events chronicled occurred this very weekend. I just thought blog readers should see it. It’s a little window to the big (and largely lost) idea of commitment in marriage. I’m posting  today just as she wrote it two days ago. I’m not sure how she found the time to write on this same day, but I’m glad she did. If you could see all of her journey since 2005, you’d see a maturing in Christ that has blessed over and over again. You’d say with me “He is just so good!” I’m going to add also, that it was very appropriate that she wore white in this ceremony. She is pure in Him in every way.)
On March 9, 2005 I married the love of my life. There was no doubt in my mind about this decision, although there was a price to be paid. We would forfeit a wedding and begin a life of lasting love outside of the knowledge of our friends and loved ones. Two faithful witnesses in a honeymoon suite in Oklahoma City would take in the hour as a sound Gospel Preacher helped us perform our nuptials and we would be man and wife. Those witnesses, and the friend in the city where we would honeymoon over Spring Break, would be the only ones who knew and we would hold a secret for nearly four months about the most important news in our lives from our families back in the Bahamas. Those days were hard. The loving congregation where I worshipped in college had a reception one evening when they heard the news, but Tavaro would not be present. Eventually we told our parents, most of whom now are deceased, followed by the rest of our families and there was a bitter-sweetness about the exchange. 1) Relief that our small world knew we belonged to each other and 2) a sense of loss as they realized they were not part of that special and once-in-a-lifetime day.
In the most unfathomable fashion imaginable this weekend, Saturday December 9, 2023, which amounts to 18 years 9 months later, we relived a version of that lost day. A surprise wedding.
For three months (or more) Tavaro Hanna hid, planned, imagined, conducted meetings, made purchases, prepared invitations, formulated a program and meticulously wrote a cover story to make me a cake-topper bride wearing a dress I had never seen, shoes I had never worn, and bridal jewelry that was unknown. He had flawless makeup applied by a skillful artist under the guise of a “series of photoshoots” and in an elegant low-bun hairstyle, I walked into our marital home to put on what I expected to be an outfit in Christmas colors for this family event.
To my surprise, our children didn’t come to meet me outside and our car was not in its place. The house was still and the friend who picked me up was ready to call the man who was decked out in a full suit, standing in the church building where he grew up before his family, my family and our church family waiting for me. Our bed was covered in full wedding garb and he called. She recorded as he revealed the fullness of the expected photoshoot and his best man reiterated that there would certainly be photos but not of the nature I was expecting. I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, take your time. We will wait. I was a bride.
Emotions started to overwhelm me and the beautiful lady waiting reminded me to collect my thoughts, not ruin my makeup and call her when I got to the point of needing assistance in getting dressed. I was chauffeured to meet my groom in a beautiful car, in full shock, and unable to allow my heart to catch up with my head. Along this short drive, I was reminded not to ruin the carefully crafted makeup.
In the previous two weeks Tavaro had asked me to write my vows and said he would too, and the night before our surprise wedding, he had planned dinner as an escape for a few short hours from our busy but blessed lives where we exchanged those vows in a quiet place. I was content having been with him and had the opportunity to pour out my soul in deeply thought-out expressions. Those vows reappearing on this wedding day from his handsome suit jacket pocket to be handed to me for a reading before all the people in our world was far from something I could have expected.
As we pulled-up to the church building, the parking lot was full but the yard was empty. Everyone was truly inside waiting in full knowledge of that to which I was oblivious.
The first face to catch my eyes brought tears. A member of our small congregation who was living on a cay teaching, made the sacrifice and journey to be there for me, with us, showing the kind of love that brings tears as I try to share this. When I entered the building, photos of our loved ones who had gone on were posted and the scene was breathtaking. Our five children were ready in coordinating colors as ‘blue angels,’ and my mother, the only remaining parent between us, was dressed to the nines as the mother-of-the bride. Me.
We took the walk down the aisle to the classical song I love most, Pachebel’s Cannon D and the tears were too much for me to retain clear sight of the beauty around me. My father was missing this moment. Mother took me half-way down the aisle to meet my groom. He was everything I could have imagined and much more as he stood down the aisle with the most confident and joyous smile I had ever seen.
After the entrance of the wedding party: matron of honour- my high school, life-friend and sister in Christ, his brother/closest friend and loving cousin, the best man and our five children the ushers-dear sisters in our congregation pulled out the white carpet for me. The bride.
He met Mother and me halfway down the aisle and held me for a moment. The emotions kept me under their power more than before as we made the last half of the march to marriage. To remarriage. To recommitment.
The container of my heart burst when I saw my father’s sisters. One flown in from Nassau with her daughter then my sister, my only sister, flown in from Miami. We had spent an hour earlier on our weekly sibling synergy phonecall and I thought she was in Miami. I stopped, held each of them, and could barely breathe in the beauty that engulfed me in the scene and in the faces who were there to support us in this way.
While Tavaro’s cousin sang, we signed a legal document of Wedding Vow Renewals with our witnesses as part of a short, deep, heart-gripping ceremony which included our children, members of the congregation he is the preacher for, officiated by the preacher who loved him even as a toddling boy and always thinks of him in kind affection.
There were prayers, tears, and so many well wishers that I am still crying today.
My husband’s sister Rhonda Hanna-Neely is more than that. She is a mother to him and a support to me. She sacrifices to give our children her best by my side each day as a handmaiden of sorts, but with the love of a second mother rather than the effort of a hired-hand. She is also a, Secret Wedding Planner!
When the ceremony ended (makeup somehow still intact) he kissed the bride. Me. We stood before our families and left first to wait at the door and hugged each soul who took the time to come, to share in this joy that has changed my life forever.
The kind of love that goes this far, to do this much and give its all is what I lived this Christmas season. The vows we exchanged were not merely in anticipation of a life together, but in confirmation of a life lived for 18 years in true harmony and godly unity preparing for a lifetime more.
It was not yet ended; there was more. We went outside the church building to a full traditional reception with a wedding cake, head table, host, DJ and beautiful seating for guests. We danced together and he smiled lovingly at me all night long
.
My. Heart. Is. Full.
If you were there, thank you. If you prepared any small thing, in any way, thank you. For the gifts, thank you. If your heart wanted to be present, thank you. For the messages after the wedding, thank you. For caring about our family, thank you. For keeping this secret, thank you, for reading this story, thank you. Thank you.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Hannah Colley, On the Blessing of the Church in Hard Times

Life’s a flurry right now of Polishing the Pulpit prep. (https://polishingthepulpit.com/) If you’re reading and you are a regular, I can’t wait to hug your neck. If you are a digger, I can’t wait to wrap up the amazing (amazing, because it’s from Scripture) Comfort study and I’m way excited about kicking off our 2023-24 study from one of those large rooms at PTP on Saturday at 12:30. I mean I cannot wait! I’m working hard on the little things that make the study fun. If you have never been to PTP, remember there are a couple of “free” days when you can come try it on for size. But I can already tell you, it fits. You will never want to miss it again. It’s worth the wait, worth the money, worth the pretty big hassle of getting every child and aged person on board for as much of it as possible!

There are hugs to go around at PTP!

So today, in honor of PTP anticipation, here’s an excerpt from an upcoming lesson by Hannah Colley. It’a lesson about keeping our commitments to Jesus Christ. This part is so deeply in my heart as we finish up 2023 and, as we prayerfully move toward even more blessed times as a family, as a congregation, as a church–as we move toward heaven!

Hannah says this:

When you feel alone, remember Joseph. Remember to hold fast to what you know is true—That God is on his throne and He has a plan for your life, even if you can’t see it.

But also, find comfort in the fact that we as Christians have an incredible advantage that Joseph didn’t have, and that is His church. I mean this when I say that I truly do not know how I would have made it through the past couple of years without the encouragement and support of the Lord’s church. Many of you helped carry me through the darkest days of my life. To outsiders looking in, it is shocking to see how God’s people come together to help people that aren’t even blood relatives. But that’s because the blood of Christ has made us family. We were never meant to survive the trials of this life alone. God gave us this community, this family of disciples, to “bear one another’s burdens”—that’s how we fulfill the law of Christ.

I’m so thankful for those who “fulfill”…incredibly thankful. I cannot wait to see many of you at this grand reunion we call PTP. But, oh!… That other reunion! If you have to miss PTP it’s sad. But, if you have to miss that other reunion, it’s the ultimate eternal tragedy! Let’s help each other get there!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: April Cothran…In Deep Retrospect

Today’s words are potent. They are from a digger who is soon to be reaching the real treasure that we are all seeking. It needs no commentary. I’ve shared this on my personal feed, but it needs to be everywhere in the spirit of Titus 2. If you are the obstacle in the way of children having what this mother wishes her girls could have had, and you still have time to fix this, make a decision that will be very comforting in your last days. That’s her message.  Here is April. I love her heart.
A friend from a church we attended many years ago recently posted about quitting her job outside the home to take a sabbatical. She is not sure about long term plans on going back to work in some capacity, restarting homeschooling or being a stay at home mom. It is a brave decision to go from 2 incomes to 1. She inspired me today to post a commentary from the perspective of someone with a terminal illness and few days left on this earth. (And I realize no one knows the number of their days in this life, but I have been told last July-12 months to 18 at absolute best—and I know God can change that if it be His will—or it could be shorter—none of that is the point.)
The point—
You really start reflecting on the life you’ve lived when you get this diagnosis. Of course, I reflected immediately on any unforgiven sins in my life and made that right with God. After that you start thinking about what you should have done differently. My biggest regret is working outside the home while my children were with me in my house. Even when I started working from home in 2013, many times my office door was closed while I worked late. I dare not condemn working moms. I know staying home with your children is just not possible for some families. It was possible for my family, and I chose a different path. I could have spent more time with my precious girls. I could have done more work for the Lord. Some of these decisions led us places where we met amazing church families, awesome neighbors, and amazing new work colleagues and friends. There was some good from the decision to work, no doubt. But, my priorities were in the wrong place for too many years!
I missed so much of the really important to do the really unimportant when viewed from an eternal lens. I could have spent so much more time putting God’s word in the hearts of my children. I could have spent more time teaching them how to love others by your actions. I could have spent more time putting better Bible study habits in their lives. They are, thankfully, all faithful Christians now, but I could have done a much better job making sure they have the tools to stay faithful for life. I could have sacrificed more of this world’s goods to store up more treasure in heaven.
Advice from a terminally ill mom to other moms, take it or leave it. IF you have the ability to stay home with your babies, DO IT! From where I am now, I can say you will never regret it, but you may regret not doing it. IF that is just not an option for your family, resolve to limit overtime as much as possible so you can spend that time with your family. In my job, many times my employer didn’t require me to work over as much as I did. I thought it would put me ahead in their eyes. WOW! Why did I care!?
Wish I’d really had the faith to believe and live out the following verse long ago.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matt. 6:33).
“all these things” = the necessities of life.
May God bless you all!
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

When Christians become Complicit in America’s Mass Murder

Something chilling happens in elections like this one. Voting has a way of pulling back the cover from people who have compromised basic morality in their hearts to the degree that they defend the minimization of America’s abortion plague. It just isn’t as serious as other social ills around us. And, hell has served up a list of talking points to persuade Christians to defend abortion on the logic that there are many things as bad as, or worse than killing over 600K babies each year. (For perspective, in all our nation’s wars combined, fewer Americans have died as babies we kill every two years.) Those who wear the name Christian will smile and with a condescending elitism tell pro-life people that they are just wrong.  “Even if abortion is wrong,” they say, “there are things we should all be smart enough to see that are just as bad or worse in today’s culture.”  

“Racism is a more serious problem.”  

Scripture doesn’t use the word “racism”, but it condemns hatred.  And yet, because we’ve come so far to create equal opportunity for all citizens in this country (Do you know of any job that discriminates based on color?…If you do, then you also know one that’s breaking the law.), one has to strain to see that white people promote systemically (that is, as part of our imbedded and basic system of doing things) racism in the US. Of course there are pockets of racism in the country and there are some people who hate others based on the color of their skin (black and white), but most of us have to think hard to name anyone we currently know who can be accurately characterized as racist. Besides, our laws already prohibit injuring an innocent man because he is black or because he is white.  I do not know a man of any political party who believes laws should permit a man to abuse or kill another man based on skin color.  

“Climate change is a greater threat.”

Clearly one political party is more vocal for change in laws to favor the view that man-made climate change is the greatest threat we face in this country.  But, Christian, is there Scripture to suggest that man somehow influences wind or snow or rain?  The sun and rain are His (Matt. 5:45). The rain has a Father, and He is God (Job 38:28).  The sea has paths it follows, but God controls all of that (Psa. 8:8).  

I’ve just been reading an article with the word “Fact” at the top, in which the threat of man’s behavior in the 20th century is described.  It asserts that recent human behavior creates temperature extremes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.  Here’s a quote: 

Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.  The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95% probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia (NASA Global Climate Change, vital signs of the planet).”

Wait.  Do humans really have the ability to effect the earth’s orbit? Are we that strong?

Biblical evidence will give Christians pause while reading these “factual” conclusions in view of the young age of the earth, around 6,000 years (See article, “21 reasons to believe the earth is young.”  http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1287).  While the political left rails on about “following the science”…this “science” we are to follow is in direct opposition to the Word of God. 

Both major political parties are interested in doing things which are ecologically wise and I do not know a single Christian who is in favor of wanton destruction of our land or air.  However, I have a questioning eye on the assertion that man has the power to influence the atmosphere of the planet earth to the degree the left is promoting.  Some say they argue this way to garner power.  

Are you sure the arguments some are making about climate change present a greater wrong than defending the killing of over 600,000 babies each year?

“We cannot bear the consequences of outlawing abortion.”

This common argument is usually framed in words like these:  “If we make abortion illegal, women will resort to back-alley abortions and put themselves in great danger.  We must keep abortion legal to protect them from that horrible eventuality.”   I’ve always been troubled by the weakness of this argument.  It melts away when placed beside analogous parallels.  For example, this one: “We must keep gun-murder legal, because if we don’t, murders will be committed in the awful ways people used to commit them in history—knives and sticks and rocks.”  Isn’t that essentially the same argument? Cain didn’t kill Abel with a gun, and God didn’t see any reason to tell us what weapon was used. It did not matter. 

The sophomorish argument about the consequence of outlawing abortion should make all of us say, “Wait; the consequence of forbidding murder is not the question here.  All murder, regardless of how it is committed, is abhorrent and wrong and must be outlawed.”

Here are the facts which should drive compromise out of the hearts of every Christian who is tempted to minimize unborn life by supporting elective abortion. They are the same facts that should convict those who boast of how sacred is the right of a mother to kill her child because that child happens to be housed in her womb:

Murder and killing are not identical terms.  Not all killing is wrong (killing animals for food, [Rom. 14:1-3], capitol punishment of the guilty [Gen. 9:6,  Rom. 13:4, Gal. 5:21, etc.].)  Murder is the deliberate taking of innocent human life. Elective abortion is the deliberate taking of innocent human life and is, therefore, murder.

In the Old and New Testaments, God has condemned those who practice murder.

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man”  (Gen. 9:6).

 “…you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (I Jn. 3:15).

“Both parties support abortion in some way.”

This is a weak argument.  If you doubt me, ask Planned Parenthood.  They have no trouble telling you who supports their abortion services and who decisively does not.

 

Statistically, abortions in America are slowly declining and that’s good news.

This article may seem political, and I understand its political implications.  But it is primarily spiritual, and primarily for Christians. The world is always going to act like the world and Christians are not of this world (1 Jn. 2:15).  Do not criticize conscientious Christians if they appear to you to be “one-issue voters”. The magnitude of the bloody sin of abortion in American justifies being “one-issue voters”  (even though we are not). 

You don’t have to vote in this election, but please don’t vote to protect abortion. Instead, imagine that you had witnessed the slaughtering, by strangulation, suction and dismemberment, of 700,000 three-year-olds in our country last year.  Imagine  you watched the disposal of all those little limbs without fanfare and then imagine hearing the “good” people you know saying that we need to “not worry so much” about those three-year-olds because there are larger issues at hand. Imagine them saying we’d better, instead, worry about other harmful things like climate change and racism. Because you see, that’s the exact moral equivalent to the situation at hand. That is what we have witnessed.  If you believe the Word of God, you know that’s exactly what transpired at Planned Parenthood and other abortion provider clinics in our country during the past year. And we’re at almost 62 million children since the legal killing began in 1973. God help His people to never look the other way!

How could a Christian get his/her own heart’s consent to defend the routine killing by deflecting to conversations about climate change, racism and health care?

Please stop this complicity now.  It is wickedness.