Browsing Tag

Jesus

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Matthew 19:9: The Clear Exception

In response to the previous article, there’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not Matthew 19:9 really does give us one situation in which an innocent spouse can divorce and remarry with the full blessing of God. I see no way around the passage.  The clause “except it be for fornication” is there for a reason and does not conflict with all the other passages that explicitly state, in various wordings, that marriage is for life. That’s why the exception clause is there. It’s there because marriage is holy and sanctified. Marriage is for life and the one who breaks that vow in fornication has trodden on the most sacred human-to-human vow. He or she (the one who has fornicated) can certainly be forgiven and restored to favor in every situation. He or she can and must be forgiven when penitent. In fact the forgiver(s) will be overjoyed at the penitence. But the restoration to position in the violated home is clearly the one place where the injured spouse is left in a decision-making place. I suggest that the injured spouse is the one human who can discern what is best for the holiness of his/her home at this juncture. 

It has been argued that the penitent spouse is often spurned by the church; but, conversely, I have seen the penitent spouse welcomed back into the body with open arms on MANY occasions. The family of God, is ready, willing, praying to be able to forgive. We want that! But forgiveness has never been the same as restoration to position. It is just not the same. The forgiven child molester will not be placed in the preschool again. The forgiven drug dealer and addict will not be hired as the pharmacist. The convicted, but forgiven perjurer/forger will not be the FBI agent again. God allows restoration in the home, but he does not demand it. He demands forgiveness and the Christian wife longs to forgive and have the trust she once had or at least thought she had. But the passage is clear. She gets to discern and decide about the restoration. She often has innocent souls to consider and she alone can look at the past patterns of insincere (or sincere) penitence as she decides.  Many times, the forgiveness and restoration has occurred on multiple occasions and children are suffering. It’s interesting to think about the cycle of lying, fornication, hurt to children, etc…that could prevail in the life of a married man who is a womanizer, for instance, if there were never the Scriptural ability to stop the cycle of injury/restoration. Restoration without some extended consequences snd rehabilitation is enabling the addiction. 

We cannot take the liberty that is expressly given in this passage away from the innocent spouse. Christ’s words do not negate the passages which state that marriage is a life-long bond. But he does give one exception. That exception does not have to be mentioned each time the life-long nature of the bond is emphasized. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Go Paint Your Nails”…?!

There will be mornings in your life when you wake up and it takes you just a few seconds to remember the sorrow that yesterday ( or a bunch of yesterdays) brought into your world; but then you do remember and you really rue the awakening. If only this were last night’s nightmare instead of today’s reality. 

There will be evenings when you are hurting all over your body because of the primary pain in your heart…the one that cannot be alleviated or even lessened by any prescription or balm.

You will try to eat your way into feeling better, sleep your way into comfort, or just be totally alone and think or read your way into peace. But peace eludes and sadness envelopes. Tears flow until there are no more tears to fall. The unbeliever wishes for some hope in such an hour, and the Christian wishes for hope fulfilled; sometimes even wishing for the hastening of the trumpet or even the rest of the grave. 

No counselor is wise enough, no comforter tender enough, no calendar busy enough and no confidante faithful enough to protect you from the battering ram of grief (or sin or loss or pain) that can destroy, plunder and desert. Nothing makes you forget the hurt for very long. A few seconds…minutes, on the outside…make up the only occasional short respite. 

There will be a day like this in your life. What will you do? There’s someone you know who is living that day right now. How is she making it? Survival mode is just that…breathing the next breath without plan for the following one. Survival mode leaves behind attention to detail and  pursuit of any luxury or frivolity and focuses on just “making it” through. There’s a lot of numbness that characterizes survival mode. Yet you feel enough to hurt. 

A friend of mine was in the middle of one of the most grievous trials that I’d ever seen anyone traverse. I mean this was a bleak path in a black darkness. She had said to me, “I don’t know how I can keep going like this.”

In the middle of one of the deepest abysses of the entire journey, her counselor, at that juncture, said “ You just need to go home and paint your nails and take care of you!” 

May I suggest that attention to the outward appearance of the fleshly self is never the answer in the dark times of life. The Psalmist said this in the words of David that I prayed today: 

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;

to you, O Lord, I will make music.

I will ponder the way that is blameless.

Oh when will you come to me?

I will walk with integrity of heart

within my house;

I will not set before my eyes

anything that is worthless.

I hate the work of those who fall away;

it shall not cling to me.

A perverse heart shall be far from me;

I will know nothing of evil (from Psalm 101).

 

In the darkest time, I need steadfast love.

I need justice.

I need to be found blameless. 

I need integrity of heart.

I need to shun the worthless and to hate the work of those who have fallen away from God. 

I need to get far away from a perverse heart and 

I need to remove myself, as far as I can, from evil. 

 

To make the list even more succinct, it’s 

love,

justice, 

innocence,

integrity,

priorities,

holiness

and righteousness. All are attributes seen clearly in the person of my Lord on the cross, and all fill deep spiritual needs in me.  These things are what I need.

It’s about some nails, alright, but not the kind you paint. It’s the nails that held my Lord to the cross and it’s my crucifixion with Him. I’m crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:21). When it feels like you just can’t go on living remember that you live by the faith in the son of God, who has loved you and given himself for you! Ironically, if you carry the burden of the cross, you can carry any other load.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Extra Digging about Joseph and Jesus…

Thinking about the Digging Deep study of Joseph and God’s comfort this morning. There are some key comparisons that can be made between Joseph and Jesus. Can you add to this list? 

Both were rejected by their brothers. 

Both were highly favored by their fathers. 

Both were persecuted for righteousness sake.

Both were providers of sustenance. 

Both were exalted to royalty.

Both offered forgiveness. 

Both were facilitators of entry into the promised land. 

Both resisted strong temptation. 

Both were stripped of robes. 

Both were tried before human courts and found guilty and were incarcerated. 

As you think about this, think about the psalm from which our  monthly study is taken: The key phrase is “…for thou art with me.” Closely on the heels of this phrase in Psalm 23 are the words “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”   In a very tangible, real way, God prepared a feasting table for Joseph in the presence of His enemies  near the end of the book of Genesis. 

This morning, take comfort—rest—in the knowledge that your trials can be ingredients, being prepared and mixed and served, at last, before the enemies of the cross. They can be integral to His plan of victory for you. Take heart!

(Bonus dig: Can you find the passages in Genesis and in the gospels to substantiate these comparisons between Joseph and Jesus?)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Two Lawgivers…One Amazing Plan for My Soul.

My Digging Deep book got something spilled on it. Something from nowhere. Can’t EVEN figure out. Glenn’s checked the car, the table, the counter…to try and clean up whatever it is. (Who even cares about any of those surfaces? This is my DIGGING DEEP BOOK!) I cannot clean up the damage. I have spilled things on my DD book before (every year, basically); it makes the book ripply, and fat. But this spill  TOOK  AWAY my answers…on multiple pages…the notes that have been especially difficult in this schedule-challenged autumn. That spill took away hours and hours of work. I guess I was writing with a water soluble pen, or something. My good boots broke, the guitar I was counting on for Ezra’s costume is not the right instrument, at all (of course not!) I have luggage and clothing all over my bedroom floor from the past three trips and another trip tomorrow, my leggings under this dress are too short for my boots, I was just going to wear this big black ring for a few minutes and now I will wear it till someone cuts it off, and Glenn informed me yesterday that he will not be wearing the costume I made for him to be Ezra’s sidekick…that instead he will be preaching in another state the night of Trunk or Treat (guess I will be Gru), and he has taken the doors off of my almost explosive kitchen pantry for an indefinite period of time, for repairs. And I am not even writing about any of the bigger problems that are on the horizon right now.

Some days are like that. But you and I both know that, with all these first-world problems comes the blessing trail. For every problem you can think up or experience, there’s a much bigger and more lasting blessing. (I still have the Word in many places in my home and heart, Some people don’t have feet, much less boots. I have a husband who WANTS to trunk-or-treat with children and who is able to preach the gospel, etc…etc…) I love the blessing trail!

Today, in this vein, let’s take a minute to compare Moses and Jesus and marvel at the amazing trail of His providence that gives us in 2021, not the image of the deliverer (Moses), but THE deliverer (Jesus). If you are a digger, this is question 13, Month 2. Here are my top ten comparisons.

  1. Both were raised up from among their own people (Deuteronomy 18:15) .
  2. Both were perfect intercessors, having lived with both the enslaved and the royalty (Hebrews 11: 24,25; Phil. 2:5,6).
  3. Both had the words of God in their mouths (Deuteronomy 18:15).
  4. Both lives were threatened by kings when they were babies (Exodus 2, Matthew 2).
  5. Both dealt with lack of faith in their brothers (Exodus 32; John 7:5).
  6. Both provided food miraculously (Exodus 16; John 6).
  7. Both were lawgivers (Deuteronomy 31:24; Galatians 6:2).
  8. Both controlled waters (Mark 7:19; Exodus 14:26, 27) .
  9. Both were shepherds. Jesus still is (Exodus 3, John 10).
  10. Both were leading to a promised land (Deuteronomy 6:3; 2 Peter 3:13).

And, when I think of this amazing encompassing, providential, telescopic power of my God, none of the little messes matter. My God, who sees Sinai and Calvary through the same lens, has got my blood-covered life figured out, too. I praise Him.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley Caleb Colley

To Make a Wretch His Treasure

 

I was pretty tired after a few days (and parts of the nights, too) of trying to help my daughter-in-law, Bekah, with a toddler and a newborn during a week of a gospel meeting while we were also awaiting the  replacement of a dishwasher. (That’s a long wait when you have a bunch of people, even if it’s really a short wait.) We were thoroughly enjoying staying in the home of our son and his wonderful family, but even the best kind of fun can be exhausting.

As we stood there singing the last two songs of that spiritually uplifting event on the final night, tears just streamed down my face. I held my sweet Maggie, who’s two, close to me and heard her softly singing some of the words to “How Deep the Father’s Love” and the balm of those words sank deep into my weary spirit. 

How deep the Father’s love for us?

How vast beyond all measure?

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss?

The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the Chosen One

Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom.

My husband had just preached a powerful lesson about fatherhood: What a Dad Owes His Children. He had talked about the things a father owes his son and I reflected on the blessing it is that our son has a brand new baby—a son. Caleb and Bekah are determined that baby Ellis will have the gifts of example and training that will anchor his development into integrity and faithfulness. Then the lesson pivoted to a discussion of things a father owes his daughter. As the lesson closed and parents were being called to recommit to placing the principles of Scripture in a place of relevance, even top-priority, in their homes, I held the sweet 2-year-old daughter of my son and heard her sing about the sacrifice of the only Son of God to “make a wretch his treasure”.  The Father paid the ultimate price of His own Son–what He did not owe–so that my Son (and the rest of us, too) could be sitting there on that pew sanctified, justified and washed–absolved of what we did owe. 

When I sing the words “Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers” I know that it “was my sin that held him there” and the gratitude overwhelms me, every time. This blessed grandmother just stood there, holding that sweet innocent child, and cried. How I wish I’d never had to face the realization that I’m responsible, because of my sin, for the cross. How I wish I had no unfathomably large ransom to be paid, no sins for his shoulders, and that he had no wounds for my transgressions. But how deeply thankful I am that he paid, he bore and he was inflicted with my wounds. My maker, the Creator of the universe is the One who is self-described as “meek and lowly”(meaning, in the Greek, insignificant one). He is the One who calls me, the creature, to rest. His redemptive work is my path to peace and rest (Matthew 11:29).

Maggie had no idea what she was singing. But, just like her grandmother, if she lives to adulthood, she will one day know. And she’ll wrestle with a guilt that can only be satisfied by the man on the cross—the GOD on the cross. It’s the everyday work of her diligent mother and dad to put in her a commanding trust in the Savior, so that, when that day comes, she will resolutely know, with all her heart, that He accomplished what she could not. It’s their everyday prayer that Maggie and Ellis will never boast in anything but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are so many tangible ways that parents can put this seed of dependence on the Savior in their children. We saw lots of them this week. We saw the concepts of trust, repentance, hope and even a glimpse of heaven put in Maggie during Bible time (that happens twice a day in their house). I asked Maggie if she had new “Bible Words” to tell me. She said “Yes. John 10:11.” And she proceeded with “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” We saw vigilant correction from her parents at each hint of any disrespect. We saw time—tons of time—spent by Bekah, showing Maggie that her heart—not her sweet face or braided hair or princess costumes—is what makes her beautiful. We saw her help her Dad invite neighbors to the gospel meeting. After those sweet invitations were offered, Maggie asked her dad “ Do you think she will come?” or “Did she say she would already be in the bed when we go to worship?” or “Did she say she would read a book we can give her about Jesus?” 

She had no idea exactly what the lyrics to “How Deep the Father’s Love” mean, but she will have a tender heart to them when they do have meaning for her one day. She is already becoming keenly aware of the dire need that her neighbors have to know Jesus. 

Moms, it’s the most important thing you do every day; putting the love of the Father at the very core of every activity of every day and putting the urgency of the message of Christ for our neighbors in little hearts. I know my children are doing a better job of this saturation-till-maturation process than I ever did. Their kids are facing a herculean effort of a society largely driven by an agenda of secularism and the suppression of the Word of God. I’m praying for the continued stamina of godly parents as they battle this effort. I’m particularly praying for the parents of Ellis and Maggie and those of  Ezra, Colleyanna and Eliza Jane. 

The very last song of that evening was a prophetic victory psalm for the people of God. I’m so looking forward to a new song.

It thrills my soul to hear the songs of praise, we mortals sing below,

And though it takes the parting of the ways, yet I must onward go;

I hope to hear throughout unnumbered days, the song earth cannot know,

They sing in heaven a new song, of Moses and the Lamb.

O to hear the angels singing,

To bid me welcome to mansions bright and fair;

O to hear the glad harps ringing,

With voices blending rich and rare;

O to see the Master bringing,

A precious life crown that I may own and wear;

I want to hear that mighty chorus sweetly sing,

I want to hear that mighty chorus sweetly sing,

I want to hear that mighty chorus sweetly sing,

To hear it swell and ring!

If I can sing this new song around the throne with the saved of all eras of time, I’ll be in bliss. If I can hear that mighty chorus swell and ring, nothing can mar my happiness. Every tear will be wiped away. I know that has to be true because my God has promised this. But I’m still going to keep  fervently praying that I can be, not just present in the throne room, but flanked around that throne by Glenn and the nine people who call me Mom and Mammy. Hearing our little chorus of eleven blending with all of the saved in raising the song of Moses and the Lamb surely seems just now to be the sweetest of all my anticipation. Lord, come quickly.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty! (Revelation 15:3)

How Deep the Father’s Love, by Stuart Townend–The New Song, words by J.R. Baxter, Jr. and music by C.C. Stafford. 
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Mark 10 and Maggie

It’s relevant to notice that Jesus said some words about receiving the kingdom of heaven as a little child right in between two very difficult teachings—teachings that were too hard for those to whom they were spoken. Here are the words of Jesus from Mark 10:

“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Just before that, Jesus had taught the still-disputed doctrine about how that second marriages, in cases where former partners are still living, are adulterous. That’s a hard teaching, both in the first century world and today. In fact, the strong wonder at the prohibition of remarriage was expressed, even by his own disciples, in the parallel passage, Matthew 19: 3-12. (That’s the passage in which Jesus does give the one exception for acceptable divorce and remarriage)

Then, following the statement about children and the kingdom comes the teaching to the rich young ruler about denying his possessions and following Christ—the teaching about surrendering all for the Lord. It was a teaching that made the ruler leave with a sad heart and in an undone condition before the Lord. It was just too hard. 

Have you ever thought about why this little episode of the children coming to the Lord was included by the Holy Spirit right in between the difficult and demanding teachings—the life altering responsibilities commanded by the Lord? 

Having spent the last few days with my grand-daughter Maggie, who is fifteen months old, I’ve been amazed by her sweet little spirit of compliance. Her eyes look at her parents like “What do you want me to do?” Her spirit is broken when they spank her (pretty gently) for inattention to their instructions or for momentary disobedience. They push her every single time to respond by saying “yes ma’am”or “yes sir.” They use those words each time already, although she is currently just nodding her assent, until she learns to form those words. But every single time she nods her submission and then is expected to proceed with obedience. It occurs to me that this is how, in a sense, she’s already receiving the kingdom. This is how we are to receive the kingdom; with unquestioning compliance and humility. And this is the opposite of the disposition   of the Pharisees, who came in an attempt to entrap the Lord. This is the antithesis of the heart of the rich young ruler who walked away. 

Here are five things about Maggie right now that are, in my judgment, characteristic of the hearts we are to have when receiving the kingdom: 

  1. She’s always looking at her parents to see if they are near and if they are approving. Are you looking to your Father and desiring His approval?
  2. It’s often through tears that she nods her assent to the instruction that she, at first, failed to obey. Are you learning from the sorrowful consequences of sin?
  3. She often says the actual word “obey” when she’s thinking about the will of her parents. Do you meditate on submission as you strive to be holy?
  4. The Bible is the one book of which she already knows the title. Is the Bible the most important source of information in your life? 
  5. When she hears the garage door open, she looks at her mother and says with excitement,   “Dada?” She’s always looking for His coming. Are you watching for the coming?

And while we are at it, give some grace to this Mammy while she tells you a few more things that are pretty special about Maggie Joy Colley. Seriously, you don’t have to read. These are here so I can remember these precious Maggie/Mammy days. 

  1. 5:50 a.m. is my favorite time with Maggie. No one else is up and so I can steal in and take her from the crib when she awakens and she comes to lay in my bed with me and we just talk about eggs and “bendas” (bananas) and apples (her first perfect two-syllable word, except “Mama” and “Mimi” and “Mammy”.) Do you notice a theme here in her morning conversation? Eating is her passion.
  2.  She wants to wear my jewelry and my keys around her neck. She wants to be “big”  like Mammy. Everything she wants is indicated by sign language. She signs the word “more”. That means so much more…than more. It means “I have a request. Can you try and figure out what it is?”
  3. She found a tiny little man drawn on the sticker inside her kiddie pool. He’s about a quarter of an inch tall and he is on that sticker to warn parents about the dangers of drowning in that little six-inch pool. She’s obsessed with that little man on that sticker and every morning she remembers to ask to go out and see “man”. If you don’t understand what “man” means, she leads you to the back door and points at that pool. (Can you see that tiny little sticker?)
  4. Everything including the counter, the bed, the scooter, the suitcase—everything you can get up on—is a “vroom-vroom”.
  5. She wants to choose which color diaper she wears. (Those cloth diapers do offer a much bigger variety these days.)
  6. She loves to look at my Plunder necklace that has my mother and me in a locket; only she points to my mother and says “Papa” over and over. Is there a resemblance between her late great-grandmother and Glenn? Hmmm.
  7. Her favorite book, and the only one of which she knows the title, is the Bible. 
  8. Her favorite time of the day is Bible time, with the possible exception of every snack time. She loves any food that’s in a package. 
  9. We take long walks together and when I point to the moon and say “Who made the moon?” she’s learned to answer “Dod did.”
  10. Her mother has emphasized that what the Bible says is that “Jesus loves Maggie,” so when we ask her what the Bible is about, she says “Me!”
  11. Her favorite animal is a dog. Her favorite thing to watch on TV (well, really her only thing) is classic Winnie the Pooh (just the 2.5 minute theme song, but she can boogie to that). Her favorite food group is fruit and she REALLY loves those fruit puree pouches. We may or may not have made a couple of impulse purchases while we were out shopping. 
  12. She can stay quietly in a shopping cart for an extraordinarily long time, just looking at all the amazing things on shelves and racks, while pointing out all dogs and bendas and apples and vroom-vrooms.
  13. She has some “dog” house slippers. They are way too big for her feet, so I put them on over her real shoes. She waves at the dogs, in turn, once she gets them on her feet. Then she sticks  her legs up under her high chair tray and feeds the dogs part of her breakfast. (Darcy, the real dog, loves that game!)
  14. Transferring items from one container to the other is her favorite activity. 
  15. She’s perfect.