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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

It’s Contest Time!

We can’t let a challenging year go by without a Colley House challenge! So here it is this year. Send me your best idea for an eternity-friendly gift for the children you know. It can involve time, money, products you have discovered, communication, prayer, or all of the above (and more). Be creative and practical and give us gift ideas to help kids grow toward the ultimate goal. Send me your ideas to byhcontest@gmail.com. by December 12th. at noon. You can enter as many times as you want. Three winners will receive the classic kids’ book “Picking Melons and Mates” along with the newest book at the Colley House (on racism and the Scriptures) “It’s there in Black and White,” and this year’s Digging Deep study book “The Ten”…all in time for gift-giving. (That’s a $40.00 package!) All three winners will receive all three books! I’ll quickly publish the best entries for quick holiday gift ideas for the precious souls within your sphere of influence!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Questions and Answers: In Vitro Fertilization

Question: Is in vitro fertilization a process in which Christians can ethically participate?

I must write about this because my conscience pricks me powerfully. I know that I am not all-knowing, especially when it comes to the technological advances that have allowed us to implant embryos. I believe it’s very important for us to remember that, just because a process can medically be done, and just because it fulfills the deep desires of parenthood in those who are infertile, does not mean that it’s God-approved. It cannot be right for parents to bring life into the world with the INTENTION of not parenting to adulthood (and beyond) each of any children produced in the process. When we start viewing embryos as the tiniest of humans–when we see them as babies–it should be easy for us to see that it is unconscionable for us to select SOME of the children we have created, and then to reject others. It’s not the rescue of embryos already “orphaned” (for lack of a better word), that’s wrong. It’s the intentional bearing of “extra children”–knowing that there will likely be those children that I will not “use,” (and let me say there’s a separate eternal issue involved when passing them along to those who are not New Testament Christians). If we think about these “leftover” embryos as the children that they are, with complete genetics already formed by the Creator, it becomes impossible for us to consider that we could pre-determine, prior to conception, to “donate” our children to others for the teaching, provision, raising and loving. I know that this issue runs deep in the hearts of women, but we are failing to consider that we are endorsing the process of the biological parenting of children without intent to raise those children whenever we encourage parents to participate in IVF as commonly practiced. I love my sisters so very much and I am thinking that most women reading are doing so because they love God. But I’m praying for (and typing this for) the children that are at risk in the process that brings about their existence and, for many, their ultimate rejection by parents. IVF could only be God-approved if the parents who are bringing life into this world intend to nurture every life for which they are responsible…every fertilized egg.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #31: Proverbs 13:24–Children and Discipline

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:      

My Favorite Proverbs: Children and discipline (Prov. 13:24)

“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

Children come from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalms 127:3).  God sees each child while he or she rests and grows in the comfort of the womb, and He is the One who adds an eternal soul (Heb. 12:9).  It’s always been an instinctive thing for parents to want to give good things to their children. For that reason parents make a good illustration of how God cares for and blesses His children:

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:11).

Good parents correct their children, but that discipline is a challenge for parents who were reared without consistent correction.  They have to learn how to discipline from someone else. May I encourage young parents to seek out those who have successfully raised Christian children and to learn from them by asking questions and seeking counsel.  You don’t want your children to be deprived of loving discipline just because you did not have a great example of it in your parents. The Hebrews writer simply assumes that parents will practice discipline:

“Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:9-11). 

And, here’s a follow-up thought to the fact that God corrects His children:  “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:11-12).

Today’s proverb not only endorses corporal punishment–spanking–but strongly endorses this form of discipline. The word “rod”, according to Strong’s, can be used to describe a stick anywhere from a staff you used to steady your walk, down to a pencil-like instrument you’d use for writing.  Any who read into this an abusive form of discipline are ignoring other parts of Scripture (Eph. 6:4).

Additional thoughts about this “corporal punishment proverb”:

It implies that we are involved enough in the lives of our children that we know when spanking is warranted.  

Parents who daily take their children to others for childcare must come to grips with this passage and similar ones.  Can someone obey this passage for me or in my stead?  Will that someone have the same sense of fairness and diligence about timing and severity of a spanking?

Parents who have more than one child know that children are different and require special attention to know the whens and whats of discipline. 

Quality time isn’t just in the pleasant things like playing games together or going to get a milkshake, but also in unplanned moments when discipline and correction are needed.  

Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy

As we conclude the series on David and Bathsheba, let’s spend a couple of nights on godly sorrow and the wonderful forgiveness that God gives through His mercy. Tonight’s passage is Psalms 51. Read it aloud to your children. It’s short and even very young children should be learning to sit still during the reading of the Word.

  1. For young children, teach them that David was very sorry for all the wrong things he had done and that God forgave him. Teach them what forgiveness is. For young children it’s “forgetting that someone did wrong and acting like it never happened.” Let them act out several scenarios in which misbehavior happens and then walk them though what repentance and saying “I’m sorry” looks like: Examples of this role-play: a) Have a child say to a sibling “I do not even like you and I don’t want to play with you.”…Then talk about being sorry and have them apologize and have the sibling appropriately forgive. b) Have a child take a treat from the pantry without permission, get caught, come to “repentance”, apologize and be forgiven by parents. Emphasize here that sometimes there’s punishment (or consequences) even though there’s forgiveness. In the case of the stolen treat, for instance, there might be a week without those treats from the pantry. Just because there’s a punishment does not mean there is not forgiveness. Parents who love punish and forgive because they want their children to grow up to be good and happy people! (If you have teeny people, just practice saying I’m sorry and giving hugs, telling them Jesus wants us to always say “I’m sorry” when we do wrong.
  2. Remind young children of how Joseph forgave the brothers who had mistreated him. Tell them that Joseph was a happy person because he could forgive his brothers. We cannot be happy if we are not “forgivers.”
  3. Read Matthew 6:15 to your children and discuss the ramifications of being unforgiving.
  4. Have older kids choose a verse from Psalm 51 that shows David’s very deep regret for the things that he’s done in the horrible Bathsheba time of his life. Have them discuss with you how this shows that, even though there’s forgiveness, there’s pain caused by sin.
  5. Have older children also look at 1 Kings 15:5 to see how God looked at David’s life, as a whole. Discuss this with them. Tell them to make it a goal to not have a time in their lives that will stand out as a time of sin and shame like this time in David’s life. Make sure they understand that regret over sin is bigger, when it is haunting a person, than it seemed it would be before the sin. Challenge them to think about how much bigger the regret in Psalm 51 was, than what David was counting on in 2 Samuel 11.  He was thinking of immediate “happiness” and sexual fulfillment in 2 Samuel, but his “instant happiness” carried sorrow and regret for a long time.
  6. If your family knows “Create in Me, O God, A Clean Heart” from Psalm 51, sing it now and pray with your children. (You can find the song in many places online, of course, by googling. Alternately, you might sing “Love Lifted Me.”)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Choices in the Distance

As you may have noticed, Glenn’s been keeping me pretty busy proofing with him, and writing for the children, on a Daily Boost that we’ve been sharing for the West Huntsville family for the quarantine period (https://westhuntsville.org/daily-boost/). I’ve barely had a moment to write anything except that. Now, I know you do not need me to write anything. Quarantine lessons and blogs and podcasts are coming out our ears right now and that’s a major source of encouragement for me! But, for my own sanity, in a world void of face-to-face interaction (other than with Baxter, the cat, and the Daily Boost Partner), I need to peck something out now and then. It’s not a face, but it’s a more personal interaction, anyway.  So, it’s really for me; not you!

As with every sweeping event that occurs in our world, the Corona virus overlies a spiritual battle. The devil would love for us to grow tired of being at home with our husbands. He’d like to see divorce rates soar as we come out of this crisis. On the other hand, we have a great opportunity, without the distractions of crowded schedules, to draw closer together as families and to solidify our bonds together with our heavenly Father. Further, we have before us right now, some almost tangible forks in the road. 

We have extra time. We can waste it in a depression that drives us to spend lots of time on social media commiserating with the rest of the world or we can establish goals for ourselves (Bible reading, homemaking projects, daily relationship-building activities with children, daily time in prayer with our spouses, etc…) That’s a choice all of us will make right now. 

We have some very discouraging news to process at this point in life. We have a choice about that, too. We can react with frustration and anger at government and the society around us, or we can search, in this darkness, for opportunities to be light. We can always shine brightest for Christ in the darkest times. Right now, service opportunities abound. There are elderly people to check on, cards can be sent to Christians in areas of the country in which there are voids of encouragement, we can share our toilet paper (maybe we can?) with those in need, or we can handle our bread from the oven with gloves and then carry some to neighbors who are struggling and perhaps are not members of the Lord’s church. We can take our kids (just us and them)  to create chalk sidewalk messages for shut-ins in our neighborhoods, from afar, or make drive-by greeting posters for those who may be sick or struggling. We can make those posters and drawings in our homes and on our own fences and then photograph them for those who would be uplifted by them.  We can waste the canvas that always comes with darkness or we can creatively paint it for His glory, This is a fork in the road. It’s a choice.

Those of us who are married will grow closer to our husbands or we will become easily frustrated and resentful. We should prepare for that choice. Sure, there will be changes that we have to process if our husbands are suddenly at home all day. There will be more cooking and cleaning and even less time for quiet meditation, especially if your kids have normally been gone all day. But we should prepare our minds for the choice. We can allow the current situation to damage our marriages or we can search for ways to capitalize on time to grow closer. We can take “haven” in internet devices or we can make moments to watch old movies and reconnect with those who are most precious to us. It’s a conscious choice. We can play the blame game with our spouses or we can play Monopoly. Don’t lose the battle by default.

We can also become so busy playing that we lose sight of the importance of the Word. Right now there’s a three hour gospel meeting online every night (https://www.facebook.com/digitalbiblestudy1/?tn-str=k*F.) There are two-hour upcoming virtual ladies days each Saturday from Polishing the Pulpit (more about that soon). PTP365 is an almost infinite treasure chest of the Word’s meat  and, right now, it’s FREE! https://free365.polishingthepulpit.com. There are Word-packed Bible classes for adults and children. They are all there. But it’s a choice. You may not be able to study and watch every day, but we can do it some days. We may not be able to do three hours every night, but we can do something. It’s a no-excuses-choice. 

And speaking of doing something, let me say THANKS to all who responded (and you did in a big way) to our support notes for the struggling little Vermont congregation. That was a choice you made and here are some of the responses so far: I love sisters. (One of you even hand-painted bookmarks for the entire congregation! Whaaa?!) I love the glorification you are about in your everyday quarantined lives! You make this isolated old woman beam even when I am all by myself. 

From Vermont:

Thank you so very much…It thrills me that so many more people will be aware of Christians’ struggles up here. The cards are pouring in…3 big envelopes plus a few from you already. We are going to be delivering them soon.

Thank you again.pastedGraphic.png

And the blessings just keep rolling in…thank you so much for the check and the books. There are not enough words.pastedGraphic.pngpastedGraphic.pngpastedGraphic_1.pngpastedGraphic_1.png

This is what greeted me when I checked the mailbox at the building this evening, plus a note that said I needed to go to the post office to get more. Thank you so much for doing this. pastedGraphic_2.png I also got the incredibly kind and generous letter from you two and the other men. Sending love and gratitude to all 5 of them! 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #58: Public Speaking

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 57  of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

In my judgment, there are few activities which actually sharpen as many skills of service as does public speaking. 

Public speaking builds boldness that’s necessary for effective evangelism in a world that is intimidating toward and sometimes even hostile to Christianity. It sharpens skills for effective communication. This is needed when we communicate the gospel in any setting. Public speaking, about any topic that’s in any way controversial, demands the development of reasoning and critical thinking skills. These developed  talents of the best minds are critical for answering the skeptics in Bible studies. Public speaking teaches our kids how to be persuasive without leaving logic behind. This is what Paul did when standing before Agrippa in Acts 26. Finally, public speaking gives your kids opportunities to go where the average child, who’s afraid of getting before people, will never go. Those places, some of them political arenas and some of them mission fields, where few go, are still places that need God’s truth. 

A quick google search of “oratory contest” yields several great venues for high schoolers. (My kids loved the National Right to Life Oratory contest (https://www.nrlc.org/students/oratory-contest/rules/) and were representatives to (and of) the states of Alabama and Tennessee on multiple occasions. This opened doors for them to speak on pro-life related issues in other venues, locally, as well. We were enriched, as a family, by the Lads to Leaders program (https://www.lads2leaders.com)  and it prepared them for speaking. I believe this influence was a large contributing factor to the speaking that they do today in behalf of the kingdom. I believe it made them more evangelistic, too, as they learned to face and overcome fears associated with looking a critical audience in the eye and stating truth. I know they (and I) are, at best, still woefully inadequate in our representations of the gospel to the world, but every bit of preparation to face the giants of atheism, relativism and materialism in our world today is needed. Homeschooling programs like Classical Conversations offer regular speaking opportunities for all ages.

But  if programs are unavailable to you, I’d work hard to make the venue for your children to get to speak before audiences, even small audiences. Ask your elders or church leaders if they can have appropriate Saturday morning devotionals in which the children are presenting little lessons for encouraging audiences. Start a book club in your home and have the kids present their reviews of  books that are filling them with moral and ethical lessons. Have a game night in your home once a quarter and begin the fun with letting one of your children present a short, well-prepared lesson before the games begin. Ask your minister for opportunities in hospital or nursing home rooms to speak on topics that will bless the sick and elderly. Remember, reading scripture is a great thing, but the force of this particular activity is preparing and being able to present one’s own ideas in an engaging way. (Reading scripture to someone will never be adequate in reaching his soul for heaven. We have to be able to articulate and apply the gospel.) Speaking, rather than reading, is the skill we’re after here. 

Along the way, teach your children that large audiences and accolades are not the goal. You can do this effectively by taking opportunities as they come, rather than saying no to hospital room opportunities and yes to national contests. Just say yes every time you can. You can do this by teaching them to always say no to any temptation to speak in any arena that’s sponsored by sinful products or activities. Never allow them to apply endorsement of sin.  Teach them that God can make great opportunities for souls out of small venues. Teach your children to give generously to the church each time they are rewarded monetarily for speaking somewhere. Teach them that seeking, serving and saving souls is the ultimate goal. Teach them daily, that whatever they do in life, the vocation will just be a catalyst for helping souls to heaven. It will be a tool for helping those around them to know God and His will for their lives. 

Being able to communicate effectively in front of others, sometimes even enemies of the gospel, will help them put on the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). This takes lots of “mom time”, but it’s is some of the most rewarding time you will spend. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Wednesday nights are just not do-able…”

It’s a phrase I’m hearing a lot from young mom’s lately. “Wednesday nights are just not do-able in this season of our lives.” Of course the reference is to the assembly of God’s people that happens in the middle of the week. It’s usually, but not always on Wednesday evenings after the work day is done and there are usually Bible classes for the little ones and, at the congregation where I attend, there’s rich fellowship and a ladies prayer group and a ladies class and so much more. I’d hate to think I’d have to do battle with the devil for the rest of the week without the boost that this family time gives me. 

But what about those who are in the season of life when the littles are needing to get in bed before 8:30? Supper’s got to fit in the schedule somewhere, the workday for the breadwinner makes for a time crunch between quitting time and class time. Sometimes there may be two breadwinners and there may be a lot of school, sports, theater, and other extra-curricular activities scheduled for that afternoon, even for elementary aged kids.  Plus, there’s the homework for children who, in the early grades of school, are already tired when the carpool winds down in the afternoon. And toddlers are not always very gracious and deferential when schedules become tight. 

I know it’s hard. But I want to say it is just that: HARD. To say it is not do-able is just not accurate. I watch the busiest of families with multiples do it each Wednesday. When I walk in a few minutes before seven, I enter though the fellowship hall where invariably I see families who’ve picked up (or packed) supper and are eating together on site before going to class. Kids are playing together in this large room while moms are cleaning up the “picnic”. Older women are hanging out there too and holding babies and offering support. Lots of families now bring pajamas in the diaper bag and you see kids changing into those on pews after class, so they can fall asleep after Bible time in the car on the way home. 

Let me tell you what these kids are learning. There are two three-year-olds I know who can recite all the books of the Bible. There’s a four-year-old who recently sang the book of James from memory. There are lots of elementary aged kids who can give you an overview of every book of the Bible (some pre-schoolers, too). This week my three-year-old Colleyanna came home excited about Zaccheus and five-year-old Ezra was able ti give me the details of the feeding of the five thousand. They had little crafts that reminded them of these details and they wanted these on the refrigerator. But, most importantly, what they have learned is that God’s will and work is the most important business to which their families attend.  

Because, you see, there will be another season one day. It will be a season of amazing teenage distractions. There will be huge and glaring contradictions in their arenas of ethics and morality. There will be endless invitations to parties and temptations to participate in the things that will ultimately damn their souls. There will be academic challenges that will lure many of them them from faithful attendance and, in the end, from a relationship with God. There will be big tests at school and even bigger tests of faith in a world that mocks it. In the most diligent of homes, there may be times when your children notice inconsistencies between your profession and your practical daily living. This season is coming. 

But it doesn’t take a smart mom to figure out that the child who saw her do very HARD things weekly just because the Lord’s work was paramount in her world, is better prepared to do HARD things when the season changes. Building spiritual muscles for the heavy-weight temptations the devil hurls will not be done in overnight therapy when that season has come. Spiritual muscles are in training in the fellowship hall before class and on the pew when the pajamas are going on. It’s happening in the class when the teacher is singing about who “came to class” and when the kids are playing in the auditorium, while dads are talking with each other and moms are in the prayer group meeting—praying for the futures of souls that will one day be placed permanently in one of two destinations. 

Someone has said that the problem with the living sacrifice of Romans 12 is that a LIVING sacrifice keeps crawling off of the altar. May I just say that the display of practical weekly priorities is a big sacrifice-binding cord that you really do want to have in place. 

Now, I know we could go to Hebrews 10:25 and I believe that our Wednesday meeting would be an appropriate application of that passage, particularly when elderships have set up these assemblies for the feeding of our souls. The passage commands  something practical about our assemblies together and our faithfulness to them, for sure. But I would postulate that our love for the times of study and fellowship (and for the Lord, who is the centerpiece of those times) should motivate us to WANT to be at the midweek assembly.

We could also compare the importance of all of the competing activities with the assembly of the saints in the middle of the week. Lots of times we let the loudness of the urgent, but temporal things get our attention while we ignore the whispers of the eternally important things. In a hundred years it will not matter one iota whether or not your child succeeded academically. It will not matter if he excelled at football or soccer. It will not matter whether she took ballet or gymnastics or had swim lessons. But it will matter a great deal whether or not he/she learned that spiritual matters are the most important matters of life. It will matter if he/she grew up with a determination to do HARD things for the One who did the hardest thing for us. 

Even while writing this, I’ve talked with two moms whose children have moved to another season of life at universities–in these cases, even Christian universities.  The devil is trying hard, in each case, to erode convictions of godliness. Both of these godly mothers are very thankful, even while they don’t know the outcome of these challenges, that they did not compromise these priorities as their children were growing up.  This knowledge is their protection now from deep regret.

Every season is the season for sacrifice. And the living is not a sacrifice (Romans 12:1,2) if we aren’t doing HARD things. Let’s not confuse “not do-able” with “difficult”.