Browsing Tag

Polishing the Pulpit

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: My Life on a Cart

Polishing the Pulpit (https://polishingthepulpit.com) is a conference for Christians, held annually in Sevierville, TN and it’s become a 5500-person fellowship/teaching event that’s unlike any other; both in great potential for the gospel’s spread and in popularity with gospel-followers. As you can guess by its name, it began as a little workshop for preachers and has developed in 25 short years to be a power-house conference (because of His power) that has meaty and practical sessions for all of God’s people. As one of the audio and video technicians, who gave his life to Christ in baptism at the end of the week said “Where can you find this many people who are just this nice?” I love that assessment.

I know the devil would love to worm his way into this event, but God’s people there, both leadership (the elders of the Jacksonville church of Christ) and attendees, are determined to keep a sound and unified event. It’s become a family (both physical family and spiritual family) reunion for the Colleys, to which we look with great anticipation every year. 

As we left the convention center this year, I took a long look at our luggage cart, and there I saw a huge conglomeration that’s now still a big pile in my bedroom floor. But looking at that cart, I saw a small cross-section of my whole world.  I could look at that all-too-familiar hotel cart and see my life–the things that I love and the things I do–rolling across that parking lot.  Some of the things were meaningful in a long-term way. Some, like the number of pairs of shoes I’d brought along, were just extra and unneeded baggage. I looked at that cart and contemplated for a minute.  

I saw all the Digging Deep paraphernalia…my new DD bag that had carried handouts, books, baby entertainment items for worship, and bread to give away before my classes began; my Digging Deep t-shirt and the old “Authority” book from which I’d taught a couple of times through the week. And my brand new “Glory” book was also somewhere on the cart. There was even a shovel, a rake and a hoe, given to me by one of the Georgia diggers . Digging Deep was everywhere on the cart.

There was stuff from the Digging Deep Israel trip: a large group photo given to us by John and Carla Moore as they packed up the Bible Land Passages table in the Exhibit Hall. At the very top of the cart was the ram’s head with real ram’s horns, given to us by fellow Israel traveler, Caysi McDonald. Lindsay VanHook put them on the head she crafted and Linzee Stephenson mounted the ram’s head on a wooden spatula. It served us well, at the climax of the Mount Moriah scene, in Family Bible week at West Huntsville and then at Family Bible time in the Atrium with a hundred or so kids.

There were a lot of grandchildren things on that cart. There was my Bernina sewing bag, a big white laundry basket that had served to transport a bunch of birthday gifts and decorations for little Maggie’s first family birthday party, held just outside the atrium, after the crowds had exited on Thursday. There was a big black plastic garbage bag that had served to hide the 34-year-old red and white wooden scooter that Glenn had made for Caleb for his first birthday; now being passed along to Maggie (She loved it, repeating over and over “Brooom, brooom!” as she pushed it around by the wooden handle bars.)  The big bag was now full of laundry awaiting the wash.  There were leftover snack bags and boxes; surprises we’d brought to tape on the hotel room doors of the grandkids. The grands were fully represented on the cart.

My sisters were there, too. The little trinkets and treats and notes of encouragement that so many sweet friends had shared were rolling, too, in various bags and cases.

There was a computer printer, two large Bibles, a portfolio for organizing lessons, two lap-tops and an iPad, a large commentary and a big package of computer paper. It’s the way we roll when we are speaking in a total combined  number of sessions that exceeds thirty. There was even a coffee maker and a bag of Keurig cups to keep us burning the midnight oil. And there were dress clothes for all those speeches. And dress shoes and ties and scarves and there was a bag of brand new socks for Glenn because he has that propensity for leaving his at home. (He has that propensity in common with Don Blackwell. We went to Israel and washed the same pair of socks every.single.day.) 

I guess I could go on listing blessings on that cart. But the thing that struck me is  this: Your stuff represents your heart. Obviously, the stuff on the cart is the stuff I didn’t want to do without for a week-and-a-half.  Jesus said something in the same vein over in Luke 6:34

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 

By the time we left, I noticed the world was refilling the empty hotel. Carts were coming in with vastly different loads; carts pushed by people who were almost naked—carts that held luggage and beer and swimsuits and water shoes and tickets to the pleasures of the world around us. My husband commented that after watching Christians crowd those hotel hallways for a week, it was very shocking to see the world. We probably need to keep on being a little shocked. 

It’s also very motivating. Think about the diffusion of those 5500 people into a world that pushes the wrong load. Think about what we can do if every one of us invites one person to study the Bible with us monthly between now and our next gathering in Sevierville. Think about what we can do if each family has Family Bible Time daily for all 355 days between now and the next PTP. Think about how much stronger our families will be if every mother at PTP studies the Word deeply every day between now and next August 12th. Think about how much of an effectual working will occur if every woman who left that place is fervently in daily prayer for this entire year. Think about the power of a diffusion. How many carts could we load for heaven? 

How many? How many could I help load, given my opportunities in my little circle of influence? I’m going to try to have at least one more packed and loaded for heaven before that gathering on the mountain next year. Will you try, too? 

  

                                                 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Martha, Martha”… “Cindy, Cindy”

Yes, this really happened. I was launching into a very full week of PTP speaking and my early Saturday lecture was about Mary and Martha. I had this in my heart already. I am going to really do my best to make those ladies understand that there are moments in life when we really just need to be quiet and persevere.

So I ventured, with all the boldness and volume I could muster, into a few preparatory remarks. I was rolling, when the door behind me, with a loud clanging noise burst wide open and the tech guy came running in, waving his hand across the front of his neck and shouting at the top of his lungs “CUT!!!” You had better believe I did. Silence enveloped the room and my sweet Kathy Carroll, tech-pro extraordinaire came and whispered to me  that tech was tangled and my voice had been projecting loudly into the men’s session in another ballroom.

I remained extremely silent until I was positive that the problem had been remedied and, wires uncrossed, then proceeded, though trying to summon the same bold projection was challenging. We laughed and rolled with it.

So later in the day, Glenn and I were walking to the car to go get some lunch. He was telling me about some conversations with various people through the morning and I said “You won’t believe what happened in my session…”, to which he responded…

“Oh I know exactly what happened.”

I said, “Oh dear…”

He said “I was up on the stage and had just uttered the words “Let us bow.” I opened my mouth to pray and your voice came blaring, full volume, through that sound system….You just brought that elders’ session to a very abrupt halt. Your son was standing beside me about to take the microphone and deliver the lecture, when the tech fellow just started sprinting across the front of that auditorium. When we finally got you out of that room the technician said, ‘I’m sorry, Caleb. I wish I could give you that time back, but, well…your mom.'”

What are the chances that my voice would be projecting over at that exact moment in that exact room with these TWO exact people on the stage? Only at PTP. We’ve come a long way since that first year in which we had a women’s session for the twelve or so of us who came with our husbands. But it’s been a journey of counting blessings and counting people…up to 5249. Two of my very closest friends have had daughters who became convicted by the pure gospel in this sweet setting. Many women have told me that PTP has provided the glue for a broken marriage, the will to never give up in a troubled time, the strength for a severe health trial, or the wisdom for a parenting crisis. For me personally, PTP is a great motivator. There’s not a time in the year when I’m not mentally storing things away for this golden mountaintop time. I pray that you are finding it everything you need for the other seasons of your year. Take the time to write a note of thanks to the elders of the Jacksonville church. They are at 329 Nisbet Street, NW. Jacksonville, AL 36265.

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

PTP 2019: Temptation Prep -101

We are here at Polishing the Pulpit, finished with our first day of this week that’s surely one of our most chaotic weeks of the year and surely one of our favorites. I spoke twice and Glenn spoke once today. We got about 1000 books moved into a space in the exhibit hall. We had two meals with groups of Christians. We babysat for two sessions when  our daughter Hannah was speaking. We went  to WalMart to get all the things we forgot to bring, including Glenn’s socks. We could not afford to buy what I, personally, forgot to bring, because it was my whole big pouch of jewelry. So it was a lot of sentimental necklaces and bracelets and pairs of earrings…many of which items were made and/or given to me during the week of PTP in previous years by sisters who are in the encouraging business. But I will not get to wear them this year at PTP. Kathy Carroll will actually be glad my jewelry pouch was left behind, because she’s the audio “czaress” who hates the clinking sound of my necklace that sometimes makes its way onto the recorded version of the lesson. This little pouch on my dresser at home is surely the “small stuff” and I think I will not sweat the small stuff this week. In fact, it is the gold and pearls (and mostly imitations, at that) that should always be secondary to the meek and quiet spirit (I Peter 3:1-6), so Im hoping I can maintain that commanded adornment this week (…and I need an extra measure to counter the excited spirit of my grandchildren down the hall and a couple of floors down, which is antithetical to the I Peter 3 meek and quiet spirit. They are SO jazzed about being at PTP that excitement is in the very gait of their steps, the volume of their voices, and in the agony of the dreaded bedtime at night. They are most excited about their classes beginning tonight and we are all very thankful for those sacrificial teachers and volunteers who are making their PTP dreams come true!…and giving us just a second!)

I’m about to go and talk to a group of ladies about the great and precious promise of I Corinthians 10:13:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I’m going to talk about the inclusive nature of that little two-letter word no. There is not one single temptation that will ever be presented, in any form, to Cindy Colley that will not come in a package with God’s tailor-made provision for my victory. Every single time the devil, however strongly, may try to pressure me, through people or plans, to seek the kingdom second…every time the sorrow of the death of a loved one grieves me to the point of utter despair…every time tragedy strikes my life…every single time the people I love disappoint me…every time I’m extremely lonely in service…every.single. time, the way of victory will come in the very same package with the trial.

I just have to prepare my heart to be diligent in finding the way of escape. I cannot be unfamiliar with His Will and expect it to come to my memory when I need it most. I cannot suddenly fall down on un-calloused knees and think I’ll even know how to beseech Him for the escape route. Service cannot be foreign to my lifestyle and then suddenly find me being its object when I desperately need the help of those around me. If I am going to find the Lord’s strength of Gethsemane, I need to find His moments of solitude on the Mount of Olives and on distant shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Those of us who are in Sevierville this week for PTP are on the spiritual mountaintop. It’s Temptation Prep- 101. Let’s study, absorb, worship, serve and pray like we know the devil will be hot on our trails when we go home. Because He will.

But God is faithful, who will with the temptation, provide a way of escape.

God is faithful!

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep: 2019-2020 Countdown!

I’ve been richly blessed in spirit this year to get to dig in and prepare the study again for Digging Deep 2019-2020. I’ve prayed about it many times and I am confident it will strengthen us yet again. It’s the Word. It’s His manna for our souls and it will never disappoint. I hope you can be along for the duration of a study that is Spirit-led. That’s precisely how He leads: The source of His guidance is the Word. The method of being led by the Spirit is Bible study. SO let’s allow our souls to be Spirit-led and Spirit-filled. Let’s dig in to the Word of God! (Don’t forget to complete lesson 12 if you are completing the current study. The last chapter of that one is extremely important.)

Remember, both a spiral bound study guidebook and, alternately, a free download of the material will be available on our website (www.thecolleyhouse.org) on Saturday, August 18th. I’ll make sure it’s very easy to navigate the site to these materials. There will also be a short tutorial on how to find everything you need for the new study and how to proceed with or without a group. It’s perfectly okay to study independently of any group. As in recent years, there will be a live video podcast each month and four audio podcasts, called Dig-a-Bits, each month. The 2019-2020 dig will officially begin on September 1st. 

It’s my favorite Digging time of year!  Some of you, who would like to bring your congregation’s or group’s orders to PTP (https://polishingthepulpit.com) have asked about the prices of books and shirts this year. We now have  the costs of these items. If you plan to order online, items will be available on the website on Saturday, August 18th at 1:15 pm EST. If you want to bring your order with you to Polishing the Pulpit, we will have a table set-up this year in the exhibit hall with Digging Deep materials available from Saturday-Thursday. Other Colley House materials will be available throughout the week. 

Here are the 2019-2020 prices (No tax will be added. No handling charges for orders picked up at PTP, of course.)

Digging Deep spiral bound book:  $17.50

Digging Deep (Comfort Colors) T-shirt:  $15

Book/shirt combo: $30                                                                                                                                         

Class special:  6 or more books—  $16  each

I hope this is helpful. I’m “chomping at the bits” to do this study with you. I’ve asked for lots of your thoughts and comments in the book, but I’ll be searching for these answers right along with you!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Countdown to “Authority”

For those of you who spent last week in Sevierville, Tennessee, at Polishing the Pulpit, I know it’s hard to “come down” from that mountain. It’s a high point in the Colleys’ year, for sure. We go to lots of events throughout the year but, regarding most camps, conferences and meetings, there are at least a few naysayers—people who complain about leadership, about content, about the effort it takes to get there. But PTP is different. The people there, with extremely rare exceptions, are grateful to be there, so obviously blessed by the spiritual feast and cannot say enough good things about the program. Glenn and I are in that category of thankful people. Fifty-plus people from our congregation were there for part or all of the week.

The brand new Digging Deep study, “Authority” was revealed last Tuesday from PTP. Since that time, you  have encouraged me with enthusiasm for the study. I know you will hold me very accountable for studying through it with you. That’s the personal plus for me; I am bound and blessed by a big sisterhood studying along, and I am richer for any Bible study I’m able to do. Authority is an extremely important topic. The challenge to  God’s supreme right of power is  producing chaos in all practical areas of living in our communities—from the taking of innocent lives to the confusion of gender roles to the division that exists among churches in so-called “Christendom”.  I’m convinced that deeply studying the topic will make a practical difference in our families, especially for those who are raising children who will have to respond, as adults, to a society gone awry because of rebellion against authority. 

The directions for the study are here: https://thecolleyhouse.org/new-digging-deep-study-authority. I’ve amended them to include the . opportunity to listen to the Dig-A-Bit podcasts—shorter, audio podcasts that will be posted four times each month. These shorter audio podcasts can be substituted for or added to the monthly video podcast that will be live in a chatroom each month. All podcasts will be archived for your convenience. 

Several women have commented that the study seems overwhelming with the facebook groups, the different podcasts, and the downloads/books. From those who have completed previous years, though, the advice is “Just jump in. It’s intuitive and we are all there to help you.” Feel free to post any questions in the facebook group, Digging Deep in God’s Word. Be sure to limit your prayer requests and other  encouraging posts that are unrelated to the study in the alternate group, Digging Deep for Encouragement. Remember, the study is always free and downloadable if you choose that option. Both options are available here: https://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Digging-Deep/c/20688312/offset=0&sort=normal

There are five days left to finish Great Escapes. For all your encouragement about that study, I’m blessed and thankful. I appreciate the escape that Calvary has given me more every day. The study has helped me beyond what I could have imagined. His Word is enabling to those who seek Him.

In the quiet study times, I am increasingly aware that I am filthy rags (Is. 64:6). (And really that phrase from Isaiah, derives from “a rag soaked with the menstrual flux”!) I am simply soaked in unworthy humanity.  God is the ever-present help in a time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). To Him be glory for any good that ensues from Digging Deep.

(photo credits to Callie Clark, Ally Cole, Denise Skelton)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oasis!

 

There are small oases in the desert for Christians in America throughout any year’s months of  the drought of truth in our land. But there is one huge oasis every August and we have just traveled to the streams which are at Polishing the Pulpit. Our strength is renewed. We are emboldened and better prepared to stand for truth and to share it in love with those around us who are thirsty, too. And we more acutely long for heaven. 

The Wilderness Resort is quiet now. My husband and I are preparing to leave this morning. The folks at the front desk are talking about how wonderful the week was. They’re not Christians, but they are quick to tell us that this is their best week of the year. God’s people have shined a light in this place.  We are determined to individually trim our wicks and refuel our lamps to shine brighter all over this great country. 

Here are a few of my personal highlights from the week. I know you have them, too, if you were here:

  1. The eclipse. I sang “There is Sunshine in my Soul Today” with a small group of sisters while the light was still bright and then “How Great Thou Art” when it was hidden. We praised Him in prayer and begged Him to help us never to let anything get between us and the light that is His Son. I will never forget those moments.

  2. The chance to talk about the mothering lives of Millennial Moms in a small group setting with all those babies and sweet children—souls fresh from God—all over the floor and the pews. That was an epic opportunity for me. In that room was a very strong current that will flow into future generations for Him; not because I was teaching, but because they are already so doggedly determined to bring up generations for Him.

  3. The late night prayers with Glenn after long days with brethren. These reminded me of the enormous blessing that God has given me in this man. We talked over some serious eternity-affecting problems with people all through our days at PTP. But at night, this man of God, just laid them with me, at the feet of the One who already inhabits eternity (Is. 57:15). These times breathed into my spiritual muscles the ability to go do this again the next day. They gave me the real hope that we can overcome obstacles and make progress collectively toward heaven. 

  4. Being real, I have to say that the grandchildren were a definite highlight. I got to show my family in the Lord my new Colleyanna, in her pink bonnet and her long green and pink prairie dress. I got to have a sweet almost-three year old sleeping in the bed beside our bed almost every night. Glenn and I had bedtime Bible time and prayers with him at hours that were way too late for him to be awake. But it’s once a year and it’s a mammy’s paradise, in that respect. It’s the realization that my life is headed toward a sunset and a new light is arising. It’s profound in the spiritual context of PTP.

  5. The truth emanating from that conference center. It was everywhere and it does affect every faithful church, every mission point, every youth group, every area where the gospel is going. This is not because this is any kind of headquarters for His church. That’s not in the plan. But the beauty of this gathering is just that. Individuals are hearing about PTP and taking vacation times as families and the Word is going forth in mighty ways directed by the Providence of God and through the zeal of individual Christians who take it home and just keep on influencing others who teach others, who talk to others, who show Him to others. It’s how PTP has grown from 3 people, only a few years ago, to 4800 in these relatively few years. It is amazing and I believe it is arguably the one most powerful gospel-spreading gathering since the apostolic age when Pentecost occurred. I know that’s a big statement and I do not know all about all historical events of His people, but I cannot conceive of a gathering that could be more influential, certainly in modern times. (My personal favorite of the lessons I heard? The Sunday morning lesson by his great servant, Dan Winkler. Let’s be done with cheap substitutes and offer him the best perfume! But I also really loved some of those in Deep Creek about “Milk that Tastes Like Meat.”) 

In a land of spiritual famine, we have the sustenance. We have the Bread and Water of Life. The synergy of PTP is the right blessing, though, to remind us of just what we have in His truth. May we, in the harder times, throughout this year, remind ourselves that we are not alone! There will be another gathering on a hilltop in Sevierville next year, Lord willing. And there will one day be a gathering on the mountain of Zion for His faithful—a gathering from which we will never pack up and leave!