Browsing Tag


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Twice the Bride in One Week

A few weeks ago, Glenn and I found ourselves sitting across the table, at a fellowship meal, from two young adults from Kenya, Africa, who’d been visiting our services.  Sister Eileen was the one who had made sure these visitors had everything needed, she’d obtained their contact information, made sure they met other Christians and always had a place beside her to sit. She’s always like that to everyone and I love her for that. Elvis and Caroline came to love and trust her. 

In our conversation with them that day, Glenn and I learned that they were yet unmarried, had come together from Kenya for nursing school (for Elvis), and had come with funding from a sponsor in Kenya. This donor, however,  had recently died and the funding for their living had been discontinued. We also learned that they ware not members of the body of Christ. I asked them if they would study about the church with us and they agreed to do that for the next several weeks, during the Bible class hour. 

But something wonderful happened and I got involved in another study during that same hour. Glenn studied with Elvis and Caroline each week and they had great questions. Each week they sat in worship with Mrs. Eileen and one Sunday last month they were both baptized into Christ. Four days later, they were married in a sweet ceremony, surrounded by Mrs. Eileen, Mrs. Debbie, Glenn and me, and a few other Christian couples. Kat bought a cake and some flowers and fruit and we had a tiny little reception in room 119. Kathryn made pictures and James and Jessica took them to dinner after the wedding. It was a huge wedding dinner at Rosies’s  and almost everyone at the wedding ended up at that table. The best day of their lives was just prior to the second-best day. They fully committed to Christ and, four days later, they fully committed to each other. The new bride (and groom) became a part of the wonderful bride of Christ almost simultaneously! 

I saw Elvis sitting down and filling out employment papers with one of our good brethren on Sunday night in another classroom. I guess, as they walk through the building, they must think “This is the room where we learned truth.”…”This is the room where we put on Christ,” …’Here’s the place where we were married,”…”Here’s our reception ‘hall’,”…”And here is where Elvis gained summer employment, to fund his education.” I love the synergy. 

Most of all, I love the Lord. He could have just told us how to individually respond to His will and how to make it to heaven in a path of solitude. But in His great wisdom, he gave us the church: the body, the family, the house of God, the kingdom. It’s a wonderful worldwide affiliate of obedient believers and it’s the wellspring of encouragement, connection and fellowship for every family member. It is a foundational belonging that the Christian experiences wherever she finds the church of Jesus. In short, the church is His wisdom magnified in our everyday lives. 

Here’s Elvis and Caroline on their wedding night. I know the readers of this blog and I know some of you will want to write them a note of welcoming encouragement. Caroline and Elvis gave me permission to introduce them to you. Caroline will love having a connection to some sisters in other congregations and areas. You can write them here. Let’s say a big “The churches of Christ salute you!” to Elvis and Caroline.

Elvis and Caroline 

℅ West Huntsville church of Christ

1509 Old Monrovia Road NW

Huntsville, AL. 35806

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

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

Wayne Jackson on the Marriage Covenant

Our grandson, Ezra, asked us recently if we have Bible time at night even if Papa and I are just all by ourselves. “If there are no kids at your house, do you still have story time…really?” The answer is an emphatic “Yes.” Glenn and I are currently reading passages nightly from a wonderful book called “Notes from the Margin of my Bible” by Wayne Jackson. They are excellent conversation starters if you like to discuss the Word and they call us back to the reality that the Word of God never becomes outdated or out of touch. 

Last night, we read this piece from Malachi and our brother Jackson. In the middle of a marriage/divorce crisis in the body of Christ, I wanted to share it with you. It was pertinent to the fallen nation of Israel five hundred or so years before Jesus lived. It was pertinent to the words and audience of Jesus in Matthew 19:9. It was pertinent to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7. It’s pertinent to us today. 

The Marriage Covenant

One of the sins prevalent during the days of Malachi (about midway through the fifth century B.C.) was the dishonoring of marital vows. With their lives so out of harmony with divine law, God was repulsed by his people’s phony tears and meaningless sacrifices (2:13). Why was the Lord so disgusted with his people? Because the Israelite men had had been dealing treacherously with the wives of their youth. This breach of fidelity violated the covenant the man had made with his spouse—a covenant that had the interest of a third party, God himself. He had been a witness to the arrangement. 

This passage contains an important implication. Marriage is a contract witnessed by God, into which a man and woman enter, agreeing to be husband and wife. 

Consider this question: if a man and woman merely live together in fornication, are they married? No, for they did not make a marriage covenant. When Jehovah described the unique relationship that He had with the nation of Israel, he declared: “I sware unto you, and entered into a covenant with you, said the Lord Jehovah, and you became mine” (Eek. 16:8). So, in your margin, write True marriage invokes a contract to be husband and wife.

One should be impressed with the solemn manner with which the Creator views the marriage bond. He hates divorce (2:16) and allows it only on the basis of fornication under the New Testament system (Mt. 5:32; 19:9).

(And if the Christian Courier is not on your go-to list when you re studying your Bible, you should add it! It’s a gold mine for diggers!

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

Lust’s Contempt for Loyalty

This week, several people have spoken with Glenn or me about the devastating consequences of adultery; in some cases about how to save marriages and, sadly, in some, about bridges to happiness permanently burned by unfaithfulness. These words, from Proverb 6, are extremely relevant to our homes today. I’ve borrowed the comments that follow this passage from Glenn. He’s right and these truths need to keep being said over and over again.

My son, keep your father’s command,

And do not forsake the law of your mother.

Bind them continually upon your heart;

Tie them around your neck.

When you roam, they will lead you;

When you sleep, they will keep you;

And when you awake, they will speak with you.

For the commandment is a lamp,

And the law a light;

Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,

To keep you from the evil woman,

From the flattering tongue of a seductress.

Do not lust after her beauty in your heart,

Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.

For by means of a harlot

A man is reduced to a crust of bread;

And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life.

Can a man take fire to his bosom,

And his clothes not be burned?

Can one walk on hot coals,

And his feet not be seared?

So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;

Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.

People do not despise a thief

If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving.

Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold;

He may have to give up all the substance of his house.

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding;

He who does so destroys his own soul.

Wounds and dishonor he will get,

And his reproach will not be wiped away.

For jealousy is a husband’s fury;

Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

He will accept no recompense,

Nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts. 

Satan makes promises every day that he cannot and will not keep.  Today’s proverb involves a promise. It’s a promise of happiness that Satan gives a man in order to entice him to be with a woman in a way that breaks his marriage vow.  I’ve been around men who have forfeited their purity, faithfulness, and marriage to this enticement, and I have learned this: people don’t commit adultery for the wound and dishonor of it. They do it for the pleasure, and always, at the moment, they believe they’ll get away with it.  As they begin the process of adultery, they attach shame to themselves. It’s a shame that’s difficult to ever leave behind.

Consider three consequences in this Proverb that come to one who violates his or her marriage to be with another. Let’s hide these results in our hearts, so we can remember them if Satan pays us a visit with this temptation.

1. Verse 26:  “For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread.”

This can mean one of two things. Either he, like a piece of bread, can be seen, held, consumed and destroyed; or, the consequence of sinning with a prostitute is often that a man will lose everything and find himself begging for bread.

2.  Verse 29: “Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.”  

Why does this need to be said?  Because this is the result of a major lie of the devil which so many have believed.  At the moment, a man believes he can embrace this indulgence, but his secret usually doesn’t stay hidden for long.  One such man said to me, “I didn’t mean to…it just happened.”  Another said, “She meant nothing to me, but now my wife is divorcing me.  I’ve begged her not to leave me. If only I could turn the clock back, I would.”

It is often true that a person who breaks a marriage vow and is discovered will repent with tears, beg forgiveness, and then fully expect that things can immediately go back to normal in his or her marriage.  That’s a childish viewpoint.  Trust, which is the lifeblood of healthy marriage, is crushed in a moment and rebuilt only after much time has shown the guilty to be trustworthy again.

3.  Verse 33:  “And his reproach will not be wiped away.”

This doesn’t mean that God won’t forgive a penitent Christian who has repented. He will (1 Cor. 6:9-11).  It means that some sins are harder to forget. Perhaps this is what the Spirit meant when He inspired Paul to write, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).

Lust has contempt for loyalty, but good marriage cannot survive without loyalty.  Hold on to your integrity in all parts of your life, and remember that no man or woman who ever committed adultery did so while evading the all-seeing eyes of God.  Intimacy inside of God-approved marriage is a celebration and, in fact, a command (1 Cor. 7:1-2).  But the same act outside of marriage draws the anger of that same God.

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).