Browsing Tag

Heaven

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

SPARK!…But you have to make a reservation!

I’m excited (and busy) about Digging Deep SPARK at West Huntsville. The new DD study went to print yesterday! It’s themes are rolling around in my head even as I finish up the covetousness theme for this months current study. (Podcast is next Tuesday.) I can’t wait to welcome new ladies to our study that will begin on September 1st. I am anticipating with joy having a large group of Diggers in one room again after celebrating our tenth year together from a distance. I hope you can be there. BUT, you have to make your reservation:https://polishingthepulpit.com/spark

There’s something for everyone: Sessions for dads and sons in the mornings about how to develop church leadership skills, sessions for kids 2-10 in the afternoons, sessions for ladies all through the day, and combined sessions for everyone at night. There’s even a make-and-take craft session for moms and daughters (or any women) one day. Topics are varied; textual and practical. BUT, you have to register:

https://westhuntsville.org/spark

The fellowship is one of the best parts. We’re so ready to be together and sing and pray. (One session is devoted solely to raising our petitions and praise.) We’re ready to go to Zaxby’s for lunch again or gather in a hotel room for a devotional and a board game. We’re ready to see new things together like the Space and Rocket Center or Bridge Street.  It’s just time to step away from the bad news we’re encountering each day in our newsfeeds: the division, rebellion and evil. We’re so ready. BUT you have to make your reservation:https://westhuntsville.org/spark

I’m thinking there are a few parallels here. We have a place around the throne where ALL things are made new, where there’s never-ending fellowship and praise, and where we will permanently step away from the sin that daily wounds our spirits. Maybe this SPARK is just a little foyer of that immeasurably more wonderful place! BUT we have to make our reservations for that place, too: https://degaulledrivecoc.com/gospel-meetings/gospel-meeting-2015-2/  (Choose the one entitled “Heaven.”)

Have you made your reservation? 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“I’m struggling with all of this…”

It’s difficult not to be discouraged right now. Cases of Covid in our churches are on the rise and we see real footage of suitcases hidden under tables, supposedly full of ballots in Georgia. We start to lose faith in the credibility of things that are important in our lives. We’re short on hugs and smiles and, sometimes, the angst from that shortage is almost a disease within itself. Meanwhile, all the diseases of all recent years just keep on marching into our families, communities, and congregations….And the devil is not quarantined. He’s busy spreading spiritual disease. In fact, he’s more unmasked than ever!

It’s important to spend time focusing on the ONE thing that cannot change for the worse. We have one thing that really does matter. Our Digging Deep exercise last month from Romans 5 is helpful in putting that in perspective. How is our salvation (that ONE thing that eclipses the short-term, come what may) described in that chapter that’s brimming with comfort and peace?

Justification by faith

Peace with God

Access by faith onto grace

Justification by his blood

Salvation from wrath

Reconciliation with God by the death of His Son

Salvation by the life of His Son

Atonement

Reconciliation

Free gift

The Grace of God

A gift by grace, by one man

Justification

An abundance of grace

An abundance of the gift of righteousness

Justification of life

The making of righteousness

Grace

Eternal life

I still have all of this! Even if I die, I still have all of this! It’s important to be in the Word because that’s the source of the antibody against depression. Don’t feel bad about having the blues right now. I think all normal people are mentally and/or emotionally struggling. But constantly reminding ourselves of Colossians 3:2 is empowering to Christians. Focus on light is everything when we walk through darkness. Our dear brother, John Moore, added, as he realized the gravity of a near-death experience and gave thanks that his life had been spared, “but the alternative would have been good, too.”

We always have an alternative. And it is a great one.

Set your mind on things above, and not on things of the earth.   Colossians 3:2

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

It’s a Colley Boy!

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

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

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

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

I said “Is it a boy or a girl?!” 

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

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

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

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

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

But then I thought about the prayer of Hannah: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So do we, Maggie!

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

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

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“There’s something I don’t understand about God…”

So said Ezra, age five. As we were tromping through the old cemetery beside our house, he was asking about the people buried there. “Were these people Christians?” 

This little tromp followed closely on the heels of our visit to one of our friends whose wife has just passed away. “Was she a Christian?” 

I had explained to Ezra that she was a Christian and so she got to go to heaven, but that her husband, who is aged and, thankfully, left behind for now, is not. That’s why your Papa has asked him to study the Bible…so he can learn how to go where she has gone and so he can be with her again someday. 

“Did he say he would study the Bible?” 

“Yes, he did. So let’s pray that he listens and wants to obey God, so that he can go to heaven.”

And so came the common line of thinking that you and I have heard countless times. (I’ve just never heard it expressed by a five-year-old.)… “So this is what I don’t understand about God. You know, Mammy, that not all of the people who are not Christians are bad guys. Most of them are just nice people; but they are not going to get to go to heaven. People who don’t get to go to heaven are going to have to burn. So how can God do that to nice people?”

And that just about sums up one of the most pervasive of all theological questions: How can a loving God damn people to eternal torment?  

So I talked about this for a brief few minutes there in the cemetery with Ezra. I told him how this earth we walk on is just really a testing place. “God is giving us a chance to choose whether we will obey him—all of what he commands us—or not. He is seeing if we trust Him enough to just obey Him. If we look around us and see this beautiful world—that grassy field over there, the mountain behind it, these huge oak trees and even our own bodies that can run and chase each other—if we see all of that, we should know that Someone made all of it. If we search for Him, we can find Him in His Word and then we can know what He wants us to do. But we have to care enough to study His Word and find His wishes for our lives. If we care enough to do anything to obey Him, He will help us to know how to do it and He will be our Father and take us to live with Him, forever.”

Ezra responded….”I kind of understand all of that, but I think there are some parts of it that I cannot understand because I’m just a kid. I think I will understand it better when I’m a grown-up.” 

I did not want to burst His bubble and tell him that there are some parts of it that he will never understand. But I did add that the most important thing to God is that we trust Him enough to just do what He says even if we don’t always understand. 

Later in the week we watched that classic old Disney movie together: Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier. He listened intently to a line taken from the ten commandments and another phrase repeated throughout the movie: “I make sure I’m right, and if I am right, then I go ahead.” 

Then Ezra said “Mammy, is Davy Crockett dead now?”

“Yes, he is, Ezra.”

“Well, was he a Christian?…because he acts like a Christian.” 

So now, reflecting on the week I just spent with that precious little five-year-old, I’m pretty sure he’s absorbing the truth that the most important thing about living, is dying; and the shape your soul is in when you do. 

As I was driving him back to meet his mama today, we had one final theological discussion. It started when he said something to purposely scare me and I quipped “Ezra, you are going to give Mammy a heart attack!” 

“Mammy, what’s a heart attack?”

After a little discussion about valves and blood flow, Ezra said. “Do you think I will ever have a heart attack? I’m kind of afraid of a heart attack.” 

I tried to reassure him that he is healthy and that, although he will one day die, it will likely be when he’s an old man and that he will probably never have a heart attack, even then.

“But, Ezra, you know every single person has to die one day.”

“Oh, I know that,” he said. 

And then I added, “…unless we are still living here when Jesus comes back in the clouds. If he comes soon and if we are still living, then we will never die.”

As I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw a look of excitement like I rarely see on that little face.  He said. “Do you really mean it?! You mean if we are still alive when He comes back, we will never die?!” 

“That’s right.  We will just fly up and meet him in the clouds and go on to heaven with him.”

“Oh!…Well then, that’s what I hope happens! I want to still be living when He comes back!” 

Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20).

Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom (Matthew 18:3).

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

Curbside-Pick-up Lessons

I’m not adept yet at grocery pick-up, but I’m on the curve. Today I did the Kroger pick-up and then ran through a drive-through to get a sandwich. Needing badly to be outside, to see people and to feel that there’s a whole world out there–a world that’s not wholly sick, but still thriving in key ways, I parked under a tree to eat that sandwich. When I finished, I walked around to the back of the SUV and opened the hatch to get a banana for dessert–a banana for which I’d really been wishing for about three days. (In fact, I’d wished for bananas so badly that the girl who was putting my groceries in my trunk said “Wow! Your family must really love bananas!” She was right. I had lots.

As I grabbed that banana (which was mostly green, but I really wanted a banana) I knocked a half gallon of milk out of the back of the forerunner. I really wanted milk, too, but there it ran, down the little incline and over about three more parking spaces. But since I really wanted that milk and I knew how difficult it would be to replace without actually entering a store,  I put what was left of that slit carton in three plastic Kroger bags and put it in the passenger seat beside me. I got the diaper wipes out of the console and cleaned up the mat in the back as best I could (because, do you even know how rank spoiled milk smells?) and came home as, at last, I ate that green banana.

In my driveway, I realized that those three bags had not really fully contained that milk from the bursted jug. The passenger seat was a pretty big mess. And now my driveway was and my sidewalk, too. So I went inside and got the top to a Tupperware cake-taker and went outside and poured the remaining milk from that jug into the Tupperware. I took my big trash can from the kitchen outside to put those heavy wet Kroger bags into the trash. Then I went inside with my bowl of milk, got a jar and a funnel and poured the milk from the Tupperware into my jar. I got just a little over a quart, for all my trouble. It would have been easier to go down to my neighbor’s farm and ask if I could just milk a cow, for that quart. But, like I said, I really wanted some milk.

That’s pretty much how my week’s been going–about a quart of satisfaction per every gallon-worth of trouble…and a big mess in three different places at the same time.  I know some of you can relate.We’re innovative and independent, but we’re also incorrigible in our routineness. We’re inertia-driven, struggling to stop those routines and find our grooves in what seems a surreal stay-in-place pandemonium. We fight anxiety–about the sickness itself, about political extremism, about people from whom we are disconnected, and about the economy. We worry about how we will ever make up all those cancelled appointments and engagements and events once we do start having schedules again. I’ve wondered many times lately how people do quarantines without prayer and the Word. Knowing there’s no place to go now would be extremely hard if there was no ultimate place to go…for eternity.

But there was also this other moment; a moment that also happened while I was driving to that curbside this week….

My friend, a relatively new convert, called to ask me if I was okay and to encourage me to pray. She said, “We all have to pray. God will give us what we need if we just pray and pray.”

I knew she was right (Matthew 6:33), but I wasn’t sure exactly where she was coming from as we started talking. She related to me that some of her unbelieving friends were in a bad situation in a local hospital. She said to them “You need to let me pray for you. God can help you.” And so she did. Her prayers were answered in God’s great timing and this family is now open to Bible study.

She went on to tell me how very hard she has also been praying for her unbelieving husband. “I believe he is coming around to the point of believing in God,” she said. We talked further and agreed on a book that I’m ordering for her study with him. Then we talked about my friend’s job changes lately.

My friend has, for many months, been working in a restaurant. I encouraged her to tell the management that she could not work on Sundays during worship. She did tell them that, but, in spite of their agreement, they kept scheduling her so that she had to miss worship. At last, a few months back, she told them she would have to leave their employment if she could not faithfully worship. So they let her go; essentially, they fired her. She was seeking first the kingdom and, as she did, the Lord, in Matthew 6:33 fashion, provided another job, working with elderly people in a nursing home. My friend loves this work. Its pay and benefits are what she was looking for all along.

Her next statement was rich. ” Here I am, as an essential worker now; working, getting paid to do something I love, and eating right through this pandemic, while the people who fired me, as restaurant managers , are out of work.”  Can you think of a more practical illustration of Matthew 6:33?  I’d be hard-pressed to come up with one.

See, in a few of the little things, we may look at a quart’s worth for all of our trouble and get discouraged. But, in the big eternal things, let’s be sure to notice that, for our quart’s worth of seeking, our needs are repaid in gallons. Your prayer may not always be answered in exactly the same way or with the same immediacy that my friend’s is being answered. But mark it down: When we seek the kingdom first, the result, even when we wait till heaven to get it, will be fourfold (and more) blessings.

I know another family who was in the midst of trying to buy a home in a new city to which they were moving just last month. Their house sold, in the thriving February American economy, before they even placed it on the market. Finding one in their destination city was proving harder, though. It was a seller’s market there, as well. Many homes were simply snatched up before this good family had a chance to travel to see them. In one case, this family even placed an offer on a home sight-unseen, becoming pretty desperate to find a place to live. Every house they tried to buy, though, was not negotiable to their price range or was sold before they could even take a look. This little family kept praying and serving the Lord and, then, the pandemic hit. That’s when the market flipped. Suddenly, people were no longer buying houses and, just like that, this little family’s dollars would go much further in buying a house. They were able to quickly find a house and negotiate the price in a way that would have been impossible only a few days prior. No one in this scenario was happy, of course, that a pandemic had reached America (or even existed, of course.) But, at the same time, this couple could look back and recognize that, in their former disappointments, God was providing something better, as they continued in His will.

It’s often just like that. Providence can be seen so much clearer in hindsight. And, even in situations that were destructive and for which we would have never wished or prayed, for His people looking back, there was Providence…good things coming from difficult things. Blessings in trials.

Am I saying that God’s always going to fix all the problems for us, as His faithful children? Yes. I’m saying He will. I’m just not saying when. For some of the trials, heaven may be the fix. We may struggle with some hardships for all of this lifetime, as His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). But Paul’s thorn in the flesh, whatever it was, is “fixed” now. Let’s live in the shadow of Matthew 6:33 and patiently wait for the fourfold blessings, whether they may come in the blessed here and now or in the sweet by and by.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.