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New Year

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Resolution at the Foot of the Cross

As I write, there are about 15 hours remaining in the year 2018. The rapidity of its elapsing is shocking. At this time last year I was mourning the death of my father, rejoicing in the anticipation of my new grand-daughter, embarking on a formidable speaking schedule, and turning over in my head the ideas for the 2018-2019 Digging Deep study. Now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, His mercies have led me to rejoice in cradling sweet Magdalene Joy Colley in my arms. Every car trip and flight has safely departed and returned and every speech has been delivered.  We are beginning  month five of our study of Authority. Thanks to supportive sisters, four podcasts and 24 mini-podcasts are already completed for that study. The memory of my father has sweetly lingered on, but, although the human heart in me is still sad, my spirit in the image of God is comforted by hope. 

And these are the words we sang yesterday just before communing with the Lord around His table for the last time during 2018.         

There are things as we travel this earth’s shifting sands 

That transcend all the reason of man;

But the things that matter the most in this world,

They can never be held in our hand.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.

 

I believe that the Christ who was slain on the cross Has the power to change lives today;

For He changed me completely, a new life is mine, That is why by the cross I will stay.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.

 

I believe that this life with its great mysteries Surely someday will come to an end;

But faith will conquer the darkness and death And will lead me at last to my Friend.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary

I’ll believe whatever the cost;

And when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.

 

And I’ll cherish the old rugged cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I will cling to the old rugged cross

And exchange it some day for a crown.

Somewhere during the first of those verses, I noticed that my husband had stopped singing. I looked over and saw the tears streaming down his face. He, the man who has given comfort and aid to me on countless occasions when unbidden tears stained my cheeks, was weeping. I have seen him weep only about a half-dozen times in our 38 years together. I knew he was reflecting on the shifting sands of this earth. His sister is gravely ill and he is preparing to take his aged parents on a trip to see her in the next few days. I hear him bring her name before the throne multiple times each day. I witnessed Him do extremely hard things for conscience sake throughout 2018, even as some others sharply criticized those selfless actions on His part. I was lying beside him on sleepless nights, when he had internalized some marriage problem that someone had brought to him for counsel. Often, when sleep evaded him, he would get up in the middle of the night and spend time in study. I prayed with him about scores, perhaps even hundreds, of speeches delivered and about many situations in which he was doing his best to offer advice that someone needed. 

I knew at this moment during his worship that he was reflecting on the old rugged cross that is the centerpiece of His motivation; the reason for His work. I knew that he was both praising and praying for strength, past and future; for the hope that comes from Calvary. 

And so, somewhere deep in the wee hours of last night, I heard him get up and I heard the bedroom door creak open. He was walking into the kitchen and I said “Where are you going?” 

“I’m going to get a glass of milk. My sermon is keeping me awake.”

“But you already preached your sermon,” I responded. 

“No,” he said. “I mean the one I’m going to preach next Sunday.”

And so 2019 begins, somewhat uneventfully. One lesson finished…another looming.  I know 2019 will be a very blessed year for Cindy Colley. Sometimes during 2018 I have failed to be thankful. May I just stop with ingratitude. Sometimes during 2018, frustration over a distracted husband has tempted me to criticize. May 2019 find every hint of frustration changed to contentment as I bask in the protection and leadership of a husband who loves God even more than He loves me. Sometimes in 2018, my faith has been weak as we struggled together through some small crisis of this life. May I remember, in 2019, that the troubles of this world are just that: they are of THIS world and our citizenship is not of this world. My resolve is to praise Him every day of 2019 for this man who weeps at the foot of the cross and for giving him to me all those years ago. 

Everyone should make a New Year’s Resolution. I hope yours is grounded in the reality of the brevity of this life and the eternal blessings of the next.  

I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary, Words by Dale Oldham, Gloria Gaither and William J. Gaither; Music by William J. Gaither, Arranged by Camp Kirkland

The Old Rugged Cross, by George Bernard, Public Domain

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: You’ve Got Something New!

Providence always seems to make our Bible studies very applicable to our lives. Here we are in the initial days of 2017, trying to make our lives better this year for His glory and our study coincides with a new journey made by His people of old from a life of bondage to a life of freedom and, ultimately, rest. God is good! Their passover was in their first calendar month and, from there, life changed in some very good ways for Israel. Today, let’s notice some of those new  experiences for Israel and how they correspond to the new lives that we have in Christ. Here’s the list from last night’s podcast. It will make you appreciate the cross and the deliverance from your bondage of sin even more. These are taken from Exodus 14-24.

  1. A new camp (14:2). Christians are moved to a new place, too. Colossians 1:13, I Peter 2:9.
  2. A new champion (14:4). Don’t miss these great passages: Romans 8:31-39, Hebrews 13:6.
  3. A new guide (14:19). We follow the Lamb (Rev. 14:4)
  4. A new song of praise (chapter 15). This was the song of Moses. But we get to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb (Rev. 14:3).
  5. A new promised inheritance (15:17). Heaven is our inheritance. Are you an heir (I Peter 1:3,4, Revelation 21:7)?
  6. A new voice (15:26). Matthew 17:5. Are you listening (Hebrews 1:1,2)?
  7. A new source of sustenance (16:1-10). He always provides for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
  8. A new urgency about bread (16:16-18). We should seek the Bread of Life every day, too (John 6:35; Luke 4:4)
  9. A new priority (16:26). Their sabbath took precedence over gathering bread. Matthew 6:33 says our priority is seeking the kingdom and He will provide the bread!
  10. New battles within the camp (17:4). Do Christians have discouragements within the church? (Take a cursory look at the book of James and the book of I Corinthians. The devil doubles his forces when people become Christians!)
  11. New battles from without the camp (17:16). Ephesians 6:12-13. Living for him is spiritual warfare.
  12. A new evangelistic thrust. (18:11). If we live for Him, the great commission (Mark 16:15, 16) becomes second nature to us. There are those, like Jethro, who will naturally be impacted by our faith. 
  13. A new clean (19:14). We are washed (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
  14. A new priesthood (19:22). Praise God for our high priest and for the fact that he made us holy for the priesthood (Hebrews 4:14-16)!
  15. A new freedom ((20:2). We are no more servants of sin (Galatians 5:1)!
  16. A new purity (20:20). We are done with intentional sin (I John 2:1).
  17. A new law (21:1; 24:12). The law of the Spirit in Christ has made us free from the Mosaic law of sin and death (Romans 8:1,2). We, too, have a new law!
  18. A new standard of morality (chapter 22). The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 is replete with “You have heard…but I say unto you.”. Jesus’ way is a path to a new morality.
  19. A new rule of giving (22:29-30).  Leaving the tithe behind, we give as we have been prospered (I Corinthians 16:1,2). 
  20. A new passover feast (23:14-19). Christ is our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7) and we memorialize our Lamb in the Lord’s Supper as instituted in Matthew 26:26-29.
  21. A new covenant (24:4-7). Have you signed on to the covenant that required His blood (Hebrews 8:6)?

Catch-up on Recipes! Here are three more from the December contest: 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

(This recipe, from Lindsey Cella, sounds good for Alabamians today! Brrr!)

Ingredients:
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cubed (We use 1 (48 ounce) bag of Tyson’s boneless skinless chicken thigh strips, it works out the same)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 onion, chopped
3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 (10 ounce) cans tomatoes and green chilies
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
(Tortilla chips and shredded cheese added by bowl, if you want it. We always want it.)?
Directions:
•Combine chicken, corn, onion, broth, tomato paste, tomatoes and green chilies, cumin, chili powder, 1 tsp of salt, and garlic in large crockpot.
•Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours to 3 hours and 30 minutes(essentially just cook it until the chicken isn’t pink that’s what we do?)
•serve with Tortilla chips and shredder cheese serves about 6 to 8 (that’s what our recipe says, it’s a lie, this makes tons?)

Easy and Delicious Peanut Butter Fudge

Ginny Vines

1 package of white almond bark
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 16 Oz jar of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

DIRECTIONS:
Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
Melt the almond bark according to directions on package.
Stir in peanut better until smooth.
Stir in condensed milk. You must do this quickly because it will start to harden.
Put in refrigerator until cool and hard, cut and enjoy!

Pineapple Casserole 

Janice Knight

This goes great with ham.
2 tall cans pineapple chunks with juice
6 Tbs. flour, mixed with 1 cup white sugar
1 sleeve town house or ritz crackers
1 cup shredded cheese
1 stick butter or margarine, melted

Using a 9×13 inch dish, pour in the pineapple.  Then stir in the flour/sugar mixture till combined.  Put half the cheese in next, and stir. Crush the sleeve of crackers and distribute crumbs evenly on top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on that, then drizzle the melted butter all over.  This makes it shiny and crunchy.  Bake till brown (about 25-30minutes at 375 degrees F.  This is good hot or cold.  Greg at church eats it for his dessert.

(from cc: Shout-out to Greg, I guess! This is a favorite at the Colley house, too!)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: How about a Little Empathy?

When I hang a new calendar, looking over the spent and tattered one I’m putting in that file cabinet…the cabinet that now has a stack of gridded sheets that represent the business, the slammed schedules, the birthday parties, the travel. as well as the mundane housecleaning, cabin cleaning, and mending days of the past year, I always try and think about the big picture. Every little square in that twelve page card stock and pocketed book that I’m filing away was a day of movement. Every square was movement toward heaven or away from it. We live sadness and hope. We live purpose and appointments. We live fun and fervor. But we never live static. Each turn of the page is a progression toward eternity. What makes each square so precious is that one square will be the last one. 

…Which makes me think about empathy. With the passage of time in each of our lives, our experiences multiply. I mean, I used to have no clue about grandparenthood. (Who are all these crazies who are obsessing over a dimple or the color of a baby’s hair?) Now I know. I fully empathize because my realm of experience grew. That happened on one of the squares in 2014. I used to come up short in the empathy department for those who were caring for elderly parents. Not any more. That happened slowly on lots of squares in the past ten or so calendar records. Experiences have simply broadened my scope of empathy. It was never that I didn’t have sympathy for those in the sandwich generation. But empathy is a whole different thing. Empathy is what make you give grace and truly feel WITH another who is experiencing something you’ve known firsthand. Remember, empathy is what makes our Lord the GREAT high priest that He is. We do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Rather, we have one who has been tried in every point, just like we are tried, yet He did it without sin (Heb. 4:15). Empathy qualifies him to be my mediator and I am so thankful for His divine empathy. 

On that page, let me list a few scenarios of which I will not be critical this year. Experiences produce empathy. Empathy produces grace. So here:

  1. I will not criticize young mothers who are struggling in worship services to make toddlers behave. 
  2. I will not criticize young families who are occasionally late for Bible class.
  3. I will not criticize young moms who show up for Bible class on Wednesday night in jeans and a milk-stained t-shirt. 
  4. I will not criticize older people whose eyes occasionally close and whose head sometimes inadvertently bows during the sermon on Sunday.
  5. I will not criticize bragging grandmothers.
  6. I will not criticize grandmothers who buy too many baby clothes.
  7. I will not criticize the careful choices made by children about the care of aged parents.
  8. I will not criticize the families of faithful elders and preachers about matters of judgment.
  9. I will not criticize people who occasionally cry in public–people who others may classify as “emotional basket cases.”
  10. I will not criticize the eating and exercise habits of busy people.
  11. I will not criticize those who do not take every call at the moment it comes.
  12. I will not criticize busy people who lose keys, phones, glasses and other essentials frequently and who sometimes forget appointments.

There’s a little list of a few of the many decisions that experience has helped me make. Experience is my friend. Gray strands are my teachers. I know that our realms of empathy are not all the same. But the world might be a gentler place if we allowed the scenarios  and circumstances we’ve faced to teach us grace. Notice that I did not say “indifference to sin.” We have to care deeply about what grieves God. But empathy makes us also care deeply about the “infirmities” of His people. Experience makes us keenly aware that we might not know details that are crucial in decisions being made by others. Empathy makes us better people.  

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Resolution: Don’t Be Part of the 92 Percent!

As I write it’s only a couple of hours till the dawn of 2017. The ball will drop in Times Square. If the rain lets up, fireworks will pop in my neighborhood. Alcohol will be consumed in extreme amounts in bars all over town. And Christians will prepare for worship tomorrow, just the same as we do every Saturday night. Forty-five percent of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution that’s destined to be broken by 92 percent of those who’ve made a New Year’s vow. Here are five resolution tips that I’ve learned the hard way after about 40 years of making New Year’s resolutions:

  1. One resolution, for people who are already trying to follow God’s plan through life, is generally better than a list. It’s easier to remember  and it makes for better focus on the improvement you want to make. We tend to forget the list when it’s too long or we throw in the towel on the whole of the resolve when one component of several is broken. 
  2. Make sure your resolution is very specific and measurable. “I want to be a better wife” is not as good as “I want to refrain from speaking back a second time in a situation of conflict. After I’ve let him know my opinion, I will defer to His leadership.”  “I want to study more” is not as good as “I will study on Monday-Friday from 6:00 am till 6:30 am, beginning each study session with prayer and studying the Digging Deep material.”   “I want to be evangelistic” is not as good as “I will ask one person per week to attend worship with me or to have a personal Bible study with me.” If it’s not something  you can sort of mentally check off, progress is hard to see. When progress is hard to see, it’s discouraging. 
  3. Write down your resolution and post where you will see it every day.
  4. Pray daily about this specific resolution. 
  5. Tell someone whom  you respect about your resolution, when feasible. This adds resolve and accountability.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Finally, I’ve been listening to I Samuel while driving and it occurred to me as I was listening to the account of the fall of Saul, that resolve’s best friend is humility. Saul kept promising over and over to leave David alone; to stop trying to kill him. But over and over, he became so enamored with himself, trying to preserve his prestige, that he lost his good resolve. When I think I’m an expert, above sinking, or self-sufficient, I head into waters that are above my head every time. It’s when I’m constantly afraid of messing up…it’s when I have  a healthy lack of self-esteem and an even healthier Christ-esteem, that I am more protective of my purity and more serious about sanctification. It’s when I’m keenly aware of my shortcomings and my need for mercy that I want to extend His grace, through evangelism, to others. I am just tethered to good resolve by the realization that I am needy before God; that there’s obvious room for improvement. Resolve is anchored in “taking heed.”  “Let every one who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10:12). Happy New Year!