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Materialism

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Motherhood for His Glory

(Sometimes there’s a fun re-run that we like to read again. This time the re-run, for Mother’s Day, is one of the most controversial archival editions. It’s not for fun, but it’s for the children that I want to keep saying (even though I know my voice is a small one) the things that  are hard to think about in our world of heightened sensitivities. Children still need all the same things they needed a generation ago or even a hundred generations ago,  so we should keep repeating truths that are timeless, but nevertheless, may offend the culture.  I never want to  purposefully offend. I pray today’s post does not offend, at all, but rather is helpful to someone–maybe someone young, who still has some monumental decisions in front of her. May she make them for His glory! So here:

 

As I travel around and speak for various ladies seminars, I am extremely blessed to meet moms of all ages who share with me nuggets of wisdom gleaned from years of experience combined with time in the Word. My home and children have been richer as a result of this fellowship and sharing. There have been a few memorable occasions, though, when women have opened their mouths and something really senseless has issued forth. I think these ridiculous observations from mothers have helped me as much or more than the statements of wisdom. When people fail to study His word and make practical applications in their families, spiritual stupidity ensues. In the presence of women who seem to be clueless about spiritual priorities and biblical motherhood, the wisdom of my God and the peace that is mine when I apply his truth in my family is glaring. I am immediately humbled in this situation and thankful that I do not have to rely on my own resourcefulness or wisdom in motherhood. This parent is grateful to have a Parent who is infinitely resourceful and wise and who has revealed His plan for my home. And it’s all in a book I can carry in my purse. What a blessing! I’ve chosen a few real “gems” from my list of The Most Misguided Mom Statements I’ve Ever Heard” to share below. Read them and weep!

“Well, there is that one thing…”
I was speaking at a ladies seminar one afternoon on the topic of “Keeping our Families from Worldliness.” After my presentation, a sixty-something lady came up to the front of the room, expressed her appreciation for the lecture, and then went on to say how very blessed she and her husband had been in their family. Her children had all reached adulthood and they had never caused a single minute’s problem for her and her husband. They were now raising beautiful children of their own, maintaining a close relationship with the grandparents and actively leading in their careers and communities. I told her how proud I was for her and just sort of incidentally asked where those young families live and worship. She told me the communities in which they live and then I pursued the second question, since I had some knowledge of one of those communities. “Which congregation do they attend?” I asked.

“Well, there is that one thing,” she responded. “None of my children are faithful to the Lord.”

So many responses would have been appropriate at this juncture, but I was speechless. I was so amazed at the casual way she interjected that tragic statement about the spiritual depravity of her family that I was at a loss for words. The dropping of my jaw and an “I’m so sorry,” was about all I could manage. I wanted to say, “Lady, that is the only one thing that matters,” or “Ma’am, did you realize that all of your children are living their lives in utter and complete failure?!” Paul talked about one thing that was important. He said “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind me and reaching forward to those things that are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13,14).”

Jesus told Martha that one thing was needful and that Mary had chosen that one thing (Luke 10:42). Perhaps He said it best, though, when He said, “What doth it profit a man if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

I wish I didn’t have to work…
I drove up to a fabulous house in a high-end neighborhood where I would be staying while speaking in the area. I walked through beautifully decorated rooms, past an entertainment center and shelves of videos. I said hello to two well-dressed young children and went upstairs to the beautiful guest room where I would be sleeping. The next morning when I awoke, I peered out the window at a fenced, park-like backyard complete with a full-scale playground. I went downstairs for some orange juice and began to converse at the kitchen bar with my hostess. Somehow in the conversation we got on the subject of stressed and busy lifestyles. In this context came the unbelievable statement I hear so often: “I wish I didn’t have to work, so I could stay home and raise my children.”

Now I’ve heard many variations of this statement. Kids have said it to me like this: “My mom would like to stay home with me, but she says if she stays home, we can’t have our pool…or new house…or whatever goes in the blank.”

There is a way to get past this amazingly materialistic mentality. Go on a mission trip to Zambia or Argentina. Listen to children talk about digging in fields for rats to eat or spend a couple of weeks where there are no adequate sewage systems, no hot water and goat head is listed on the entrée list at eating establishments. I could go on, but the point is all too obvious. We are so rich in America that we’ve come to include the “posh” in our lists of basic necessities. Our children are often bringing us shame, because they have grown up in worlds of instant gratification; worlds void of guidance and nurture. “A child left to himself brings his mother shame (Prov.29:15).” We, like that rich young ruler, will continue to reap sorrow when we allow our possessions to own us rather than the other way around.

“He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Matt. 19:22)

“We like to save our ‘no’s.”
I was sitting in a close friend’s kitchen when I decided to ask her if she was concerned about some of the entertainment choices her thirteen year old was making. The media choices of this kid were definitely uncharacteristic of the godly values of his parents. The answer: “We don’t like these choices, but we like to save our ‘no’s for the big things. We feel if we say no all the time, then our prohibitions will be less effective when it comes to some big issue like sex or drugs.”

Practicing the ‘no’s with seemingly small matters is the way kids catch on to the fact that “no” means “no”. It’s the way they assimilate the information that Mom and Dad care enough about them to monitor, direct and guard them, even when it requires time and attention to detail. In short, keeping a watch over the small things and demanding compliance in them is the only way to insure respect when it matters most. Saving our ‘no’s as parents will yield a big bunch of saved-up ‘no’s when our kids need them most, but saved-up ‘no’s, like old kitchen spices, have lost their potency. Kids need practice with restrictions. They have to listen when you say “Stay on the sidewalk,” so later they will listen when you say, “Stay away from drugs.” This constant listening practice is essential for ultimate spiritual success. “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27).

The list goes on. I’d love to have space to comment on the absurdity of statements like “ I wish my thirteen year old would ______________, but I have asked her and she just says ‘no’.” (Is she sleeping under your roof and eating at your table?! ) Another unbelievable one is “Okay, so she is having sex. Let’s get some birth control,” or the frequent “We let our kids go to the dances,” or “see all the movies with their friends,” or “wear the current fashions” (or whatever compromising activity it may be). “After all, we don’t want them to grow up thinking Christianity is a burden.” (Never mind the fact that Jesus called discipleship a yoke and a burden [Matt.11:29,30]).

Parenting is not for the weak. Giving birth, changing diapers, feeding and clothing are all the easy parts. The real challenge is to consistently place the ammunition of respect for the Will of God into the hearts of little people who will soon face the Goliaths of worldliness and corruption that plague our society. We cannot raise our children on permissive fences in which we give the nod to Christianity while we let them enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb.11:25). They will inevitably fall on the wrong side of that fence and the short season of pleasure will turn to years of the wretched heartache of sin. God empowers us through His Providence and His Word. But we must be diligent parents (Deut.6:6,7), attending to the details of the day to day obstacles the devil places in our paths. Successful parenting is never an accident.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do You Do This? (Conclusion)

As this series concludes, please remember that I understand there are those moms who’d like to do this oikouoros thing, but can’t. We should help such women in any way that we can to get to the goal. Some readers may say that I cannot understand, because I lived in a world in which my husband prioritized my staying at home or because I was able to have many luxuries and still  be at home with my children during those formative years. I know that I have been very blessed and there is some truth to those objections. I have to work every day to honor Him with blessings and to be sure I am not taking them for granted as if He owes me something. At the same time, I hope we‘ve picked up on the fact that the injunction to be oikouros is an inspired teaching conveyed in a word in Titus 2 and multiple times in concept form throughout Scripture. We will always suffer spiritually when we look to the world’s decision-making standards rather than the expressed will of our Creator.

One afternoon, I was driven up to a fabulous house in a high-end neighborhood where I would be staying while speaking in the area. I walked through beautifully decorated rooms, past a well-stocked entertainment center. I said hello to two very well-dressed young children and their dad, who was taking off his tie from a busy workday. I went upstairs to the beautiful guest bed and bath where I would be sleeping. The next morning, when I awoke, I peered out the window at a fenced, park-like backyard complete with a full playground with all the bells and whistles. I went downstairs for some orange juice and began to converse across the granite kitchen bar with my hostess. 

Somehow in that conversation, we moved to the topic of stress and the busy world in which we live. In this context, came the words that still make me sad when I remember that morning. I’ve heard the words many times since then. Sometimes the words are truth and that is sad. But sometimes they are words spoken, not of conviction of conscience, but more for a hurting conscience’s comfort. Her words were “I wish I did not have to work, so I could just stay home and raise my children.”

One day a child said the words to me this way: “ My mom would like to stay home with me, but she says that if she stays home, we can’t have our pool.” A variety of amenities have completed the sentence in different situations: “our new house” or “my private education” or “our trips to Disney”. 

There is a way to get past this amazing perspective. Go on a mission trip to Zambia or Argentina or Columbia or Tanzania or Haiti or any of the hundreds of poverty-stricken places in our world. Listen to children tell you about digging for rats to eat. Take cold showers and realize the hard way that there are no adequate sewage systems. Notice that goat head or turkey tail is a coveted entree, depending on your location.

I could go on, but the point is all too obvious. We are so rich in these United States that we have come to include luxuries in our lists of necessities. Our children are sometimes bringing shame on our families because they have grown up in worlds of instant gratification; worlds void of guidance, nurture, family Bible times, and deep family prayer. “A child left to himself brings his mother shame” (Proverbs 29:15). We, like the rich young ruler, have a lot going on materially, but we will continue to reap sorrow when we allow our possessions to own us rather than the other way around. 

“He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mt. 19:22).

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You are the Salt…

It was at an estate sale in small-town, Alabama where I was recently shown the brevity of life and the foolishness of laying up treasures in this place where “moths and rust corrupt” (Matthew 6:19). There must have been a gajillion salt and pepper shakers in this home, lining shelf after shelf: Indian monkeys, flamingoes from Florida, from the basic tin kind you love to have by your stove all the way to Fitz and Floyd Christmas shakers. You would have been hard pressed to think of a common noun for which you could find no related shaker in this house. Of course, each shaker represented a memory to this old couple. Shakers meant places and faces and fun experiences in their aged minds. Most all of them had a story of visiting relatives, Christmas mornings, surfing or bowling or visiting some exotic place. They were just lots and lots of memory handles sitting on shelves with little of practical significance left for the couple, who were now, because of degenerating health, downsizing and moving to the place of their retirement.
And these memory handles now had price stickers on them. Strangers were milling about, picking one up for a moment and then placing it back on the shelf. The prices varied from about two dollars each to about twenty dollars. I purchased some antique milk bottles and Glenn bought a chair. But I kept thinking about all of those salt and pepper-shakers, each one representing a day in the lives of that couple. I thought about what my salt and pepper shaker collection would be like if each set represented a memory for me. It would be large, like theirs, and full of interesting colors and figures. I am blessed.
Knowing that our ladies day this year was themed “Ye Are the Salt of the Earth,” I decided, after making a call back to West Huntsville, to make an offer on 120 pairs of shakers. She was happy to sell that large quantity to me at only 50 cents a pair. I was happy to get them at such a bargain.
Most of all, I was happy to be reminded of some timely lessons about salt-shakers, life’s brevity, salt itself and what’s really important:
  1. Every “treasure” that you purchase in this life will one day belong to another (Ecc. 2:18).
  2. There will come a day when all of our “treasures” will melt with fervent heat (II Pet. 3:10).
  3. The only “collection” you can take with you will be the souls you’ve collected for Him (I Cor. 15:52).
  4. The price of material collections will be reduced as the end of time approaches, whereas the value of those souls remains greater than that of the world’s treasures combined (Mark 8:36).
  5. Your body is merely the salt-shaker. Your soul is the “salt of the earth,” (Matt. 5:13).
  6. Therefore give great attention to the salt, because the shaker, will be on a “shelf” one day in a mausoleum, in an urn, or in some other tomb, having served its purpose and awaiting the resurrection (I Cor. 15:42-44).
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“The Problem Was Just Squirrels?!…”

“Well, I kinda wish it was some sort of computer emissions problem or … or  just something a little more technical than squirrels.  I mean if you’re going to pay three hundred -fifty dollars to get your car fixed, you don’t want to say that squirrels ate through the wiring underneath it. It just doesn’t seem right somehow.”

That’s what my husband said the day the technician diagnosed the SUV. We took it to the Honda  Service Center because it would randomly lose it’s umph when pulling out into traffic. Then once it was out in the highway it would do three bunny hops and then proceed.  (It was dangerous, but still comical.) Some sort of system for navigating icy roads was kicking in when roads were clear and without any prompting. And it was the squirrels in our driveway.

Living in rural Madison County comes with its perks (crickets chirping at night, star visibility, legal fireworks displays, traffic free roads and giant oaks in the yard). Until last week we loved watching the squirrels.  The giant oaks provide their winter’s store and their haven for sleep and play. But now when we see them we want our acorns back! How dare those avaricious little floofy-tailed gluttons eat the wiring on the car that feeds them, never even stopping to think about how that’s the very automobile that brought home the insect poison to flush that infestation out of the oak in the front yard; the very oak that dropped the gajillion acorns on the driveway for their bountiful harvest last fall! Did they know that was the very car that brings home fertilizers for their play land and sometimes even brings home the little saplings that grow into those bushes beneath which they scamper in the hot summertime? And now that we replaced all that wiring, I bet they are inviting all their friends to the new and improved food bar down under.

While those squirrels have definitely worn out their welcome under the oaks at our address, they’re obviously not feeling the least bit guilty. They may have a little squirrel indigestion from eating rubber, but their discomfort with eating the “forbidden fruit” ends right there. They have no capacity to feel sorrow or appreciation or any other emotion. They are like the birds of the air which “do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Mt. 6:26).

But we are not squirrels. We are quite capable of ascertaining the source of every blessing. We are without excuse if we do not recognize His existence and worship Him as the Creator (Romans 1:19-21). Yet how often do we give ourselves permission to use the very blessings of His hand as obstacles to our accomplishment of His purposes? Parents sometimes allow the health or talents of their children to tempt them to miss worship services in deference to ballgames, recitals or various exhibitions. Breadwinners sometimes allow the blessings of employment to overtake their ambitions and take their focus from spiritual concerns. People who have gained the blessing of honor among peers sometimes let pride in human achievements become the catalyst for their leaving the Lord. Some, like the rich fool in Luke 12, let material riches consume their passions, leaving no room to grow rich toward God. In the end they won’t be able to say they were overtaken by some great tragedy like the trials of Job.  They will not have lost their moorings at the feet of some persuasive false teacher. They will have destroyed themselves, not because bad things occurred in their lives, but because they misused the good things; the blessings. They ate through their own spiritual wiring.

There is a prayer I have learned to pray that helps me keep check on the way I’m using His blessings. It goes something like this:

“Lord, I am so thankful for the material blessings which You daily shower on me. I really do bask in physical blessings. Lord, help me to use these blessings to bring glory to your name. But Lord, if I ever let these blessings get in my way of serving You, just take them from me, because I want to go to heaven.”

When I am praying that prayer, I have a really hard time letting my children’s activities keep me from faithful worship. It’s hard to let my passion for hobbies outgrow my passion for His work. I think twice before I let that vacation travel keep me from assembling with His people. It’s easier to see the importance of faithful stewardship. It’s just easier to maintain the spiritual wiring.

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The Devil Went Down to Sorek

Immortalized as one of history’s most famous couples, the names of Samson and Delilah can be found in poetry, in pop songs alongside the likes of Romeo and Juliet, and in international folklore. The reality of immortality though is the most tragic part of the story of Samson and Delilah. Somewhere today their souls are agonizing in torment or euphoric in bliss. The eternality of immortality is larger than finite minds can comprehend. Samson and Delilah, having been in one of these two places for several thousand years have not completed any fraction, however small, of the total time they will exist in this place. We cannot go there in our minds. The concept is surreal to us; and yet, it is extremely real to each of us. Sixteen verses in Judges sixteen complete the earthly narrative of Delilah. Yet she still lives. She still regrets the choices she made in the valley of Sorek on the now distantly removed planet earth. How is the narrative of your life coming along? Its brevity in comparison with eternity is mind boggling. Get busy getting ready for a place far removed from this temporary planet earth.

Her Motive was Money.

And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver” (Jud. 16:5).

Is money one of the key driving forces in your life? Delilah was willing to sell relationships, personal integrity, and ultimately heaven for eleven hundred pieces of silver. Oh, eleven hundred pieces of silver was no small reward; it was about two talents. It only took about twenty nine talents of gold for the completion of the entire holy place in the tabernacle (Exodus 38:24). They wanted this man of iron and they were willing to use Delilah’s greed to get him. The amount was enticing. It might be added that it was significantly larger than the price given for the betrayal of Christ.

But Delilah thought she was selling a man. It never occurred to her that the materialistic choice she made in that conference room with the Philistines had eternal consequences for her own soul. Do the eternal consequences of our financial decisions occur to us? Are we sometimes willing to sell our souls? The devil is always ready to make a deal.


Taken largely from Women of Troubled Times, by Cindy Colley, Publishing Desigms, Huntsville, AL