Browsing Tag

Prayer

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

You’ll get through.

Sometimes, things you never saw coming derail your life plans.  This derailment is exacerbated when you are living in that generation that’s the middle of the sandwich—in that generation that’s pulled between the aged parents and the kids. When that happens, you feel you aren’t running your life anymore, but it is running you. it’s kind of a numb experience and you just keep telling yourself that the life that’s running you is short and that the One in charge of your destiny is, in fact, still in charge; that there’s coming an eternal day when everything gets put right again—only this time without the potential of derailment, defilement or decay. There are a few lessons you can learn quickly in these times of life. This is merely reflection; not an exhaustive list of everything I need to know to deal with such a time. I don’t yet know that list. Here’s a baker’s dozen: 

  1. Never put your trust in people. Always keep your emotional funding in the treasure chest in heaven (Luke 12:33,34). 
  2. Don’t feel guilty if there’s ever an hour when you can walk around in an antique store or do whatever it is that distracts you for a minute; whatever brings peace. It’s worth it for the renewal—for what it enables you to do for others (Col. 3:15).
  3. Keep trying to do the things that have encouraged you all of your life. If they encouraged you before, they have some power now, even though it doesn’t feel like it (Psalm 23:4). 
  4. Never stop looking for those people who are in more dire circumstances than you are. They are everywhere, far and near. (And take them a casserole if they are nearby.) [Deut. 15:11].
  5. Don’t forget that anything is possible with the God who is your Father. His infinite power to change things and His infinite love for you are the chemistry of hope (Mark 14:36). 
  6. Set a repeating prayer alarm and be getting to the throne all day every day. Prayers do not have to be long to be effective. Beg his people to pray, too. Never be embarrassed to ask for prayers from the faithful (Luke 11:8-10). 
  7. Find a few good sisters. Just a few encouragers to whom you can bare your soul are invaluable. Pick women who genuinely care about the important things in life—God, heaven and the people you love so much (1 Thess. 5:11). 
  8. Don’t stop self-examining. Always be humble and know that personal sin is always going to be part of this life’s troubles. But, if you’re faithful, don’t let anyone convince you that God’s not hearing and answering, just because you make mistakes along the way (1 Cor. 10:12). 
  9. Stay in the Word. This should be #1, actually (Heb. 4:12). 
  10. Stay with God’s people. This should be #2 (Rom. 14:19).
  11. As you’re staying with God’s people, don’t be shocked when people of the world act like people of the world. Don’t let those who have never been His or those who have walked away make you bitter. Realize the power of the devil. But be sure to remember the devil’s place on the power spectrum. Your Father’s power is infinite. The devil’s power has limits (1 John 4:4). 
  12. Try not to dwell on the things over which you have no control, no matter their painful nature. God can still control anything and in any way He chooses. Control your relationship with Him above all. He has given you that control. It’s called free moral agency and it is so valuable to you in the day of trouble (1 Peter 5:7). 
  13. Don’t ever fail to praise Him. Your temptation may be to forget the blessings—the sustenance, the support system, your salvation—in the times of despair. Ask Him to help you never to forget the numberless blessings that have never stopped coming your way (Col. 3:2). 

This may not be helpful to a single person except me. But thinking through this list makes me more okay with what I have to do today. When I pillow my head tonight, I will be one day nearer to the throne; one day nearer the ultimate eternal embrace of the Savior.  That “end game” makes all the difference. How do people do hard things without the throne clearly in the faith’s-eye-view? 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Teaching Kids to Pray #2: Maximizing the Morning Mindset

Just as in school. young children are taught certain rituals each morning (figuring out the season of the year and today’s date, assessing the weather, and quoting memory work from a literary text or from the Bible in Christian education) children who grow up leaning on prayer begin their days talking to God. It doesn’t have to be long. It should never be arduous, but rather enthusiastic and positive. It should be the verbal and heavenward “prediction” by you and your kids that it’s going to be a great day because God is your Father. 

I know I’m not the expert, but it’s my suggestion, although you’re going to listen to and assist your kids in prayer every day, that this first morning prayer be led by Mom or Dad. At the breakfast table is a great place to do this. 

Your tone of voice is pretty important here. It’s not monotone and it’s not a daily quotation. Your breakfast voice to God should be the same one you would use to a friend who has just brought flowers and dinner for your family. It should radiate amazement at his goodness, because His mercies are new every single morning (Lamentations 3:23). Here’s a sample: 

Oh Father! It’s a brand new day you have given us. That sunshine coming in our window is from You! You let us sleep in our own warm beds and now, here we are …ready to go and do good things to show people how much we love you. You gave us our kitty and our house and our car and…oh God, you gave us EVERY single thing that makes us smile. Oh God, thank-you! We love these biscuits and eggs, Lord. You never let us run out of food and we even sometimes have enough to save for later. Help us to not ever forget that you are our Father. Daddy is so good, but you are even HIS Father. Thank you for taking care of our little family. Help us to have a great day for you. Please keep us safe. Help us to be good and help us to be happy all day. Thank you for giving us Jesus. We love Him so much! And we pray in His Name, Amen.

Remember, the voice they hear should be the same voice you would use to encourage them before their piano recitals or tournament ballgames—excited and confident and supportive. 

Next time: Should kids be required to put their hands together and bow their heads? What about prayer postures? 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Praying Children in this New Year.

Happy New Year! 

When you married the Lord on that day when you were immersed for the forgiveness of your sins, you made vows to love, honor and obey Him in sickness and health, in adversity and prosperity, for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer—to have and to hold Him till death unites you with Him forever and ever. 

I hope this year is health and prosperity. I hope it is better and richer. I pray, for our Colley family, that it will be an easier year than the past year.—the year that has certainly been our most challenging year to date. I’m praying for all readers and for us, that no matter the ease or difficulty of the 365 days ahead of us, that it will be a year full of loving, honoring and obeying the One who died for us. I’m praying we will all have Him—His mercy, His correction, His salvation and His advocacy throughout the coming year. I’m praying we will all hold Him, clinging tenaciously to His sovereignty and His promises that are as good as accomplished. I pray that we will all have the security of claiming Romans 8:28. 

As a new year dawns, I’m thinking about the children who depend on women who may read this blog regularly. I’m thinking about their place in a world that has become so secularized that it often mocks those who even believe in a Creator. It’s a world that rejects absolute truth and the idea that one system of morality may be better than any other. It  is a world that calls what is really evil, “good,” celebrating what God terms “vile affection” and giving adherents of sin the moral high ground in society. 

There’s a big group of mamas today who are determined to make spiritual heroes and heroines of the little souls entrusted in their care. There’s an army of truth defenders arising from among our ranks in a time when the challenges for this army will be greater than any time in our country’s history. 

Some of these mamas have asked for resources for teaching our kids to pray. “How do we practically teach our kids the value, the necessity and the how-to of daily prayer? How do we help them develop this personal communication with the God Who has promised to be the refuge and strength in a time of trouble?” I surely do not know all of the answers, but I’m learning from those of you who are working so hard to do this important mama’s job. 

So for the next few posts, let’ s absorb and integrate some of these ideas and help our children and grandchildren grow up around the throne in prayer. Watch for these!

Finally, it’s snowing in north Alabama! This is Maggie’s first time to see snow and it happened at Mammy’s house! She’s three and she’s my Florida girl, so she’s pretty excited about the snow. She kept telling her mom that she could not wait for the snow to start falling while they opened up their Christmas presents (in Florida!). Well, this is our morning for cousin Christmas gifts—our first day to have them all here (without extended family) to attack that big stack of gifts in there…and Maggie’s snow has just fallen! God is good like that! 

Happy New Year! Let’s give every day of it to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

(And the podcast is tomorrow night!)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Thank-you for your Prayers…

If you are among those who prayed for Brother Kovalenko, please read this letter I received from his wife, Brooke. Prayer is not always answered in the way we think best and, for this, we praise Him. He gives us what is truly best. Either way, it is so very comforting to know that our Calvary-blood relatives are praying us through. Here’s Brooke’s letter. I have a feeling, she will never be the same and that what she is becoming through trials is better than what she has ever been!

Dear Cindy, 

My name is Brooke Kovalenko. I am digging deep along with you as we examine the power of the final conversations of Christ. You were contacted several weeks ago by my sister, Amanda Griffin, coveting prayers on my husband’s behalf as he was in a very serious battle with Covid. When Amanda told me that she had reached out to you to request prayers for us throughout all of the platforms that you employ, I was so thankful and encouraged to know that you and fellow like-minded Christians were lifting our names up to our Father. He is the Creator and the Great Physician. Although we are so thankful for each medical doctor, nurse, and technician who attended my husband during his stay at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, we know that their success was in the hands of the One who understood the needs of my husband the most, and he guided their decisions throughout his treatment. Never before has the power of prayer been so abundantly realized in our lives and during this latest crisis in our family. Incredibly specific prayers were being answered within hours. Fellow Christians, who we will never meet until we are gathered at the pearly gates, truly helped me and my family bear this burden. My husband is now well along the road to recovery. We have come through this as stronger Christians and with a greater appreciation for the power of God’s army when they are joined in a march to the throne of God with a common request. What a blessing the church is! It is a true family that can uphold and benefit each other in the darkest of hours. I want to thank you for your personal prayers on our behalf. I would also appreciate if you would post on every platform that you previously used on our behalf to let everyone know that we can never thank each person enough for their prayers. Let them know that we have prayed for them as well, that their lives will be blessed, just as ours has been. Please let it be acknowledged that prayer is a blessing of being in Christ’s Body and that we should not ever take it for granted or underestimate the power and potential blessings it can shower upon us as obedient children .We are living in a confusing and evil world, being buffeted on every side from the powers of darkness throughout our society and across the globe. Thankfully, we have a source of hope that can bring peace that surpasses understanding, even as we walk through the dark valleys of this life. People need encouragement. We want our positive outcome to provide encouragement to others as a piece of good news during these trying times. We serve an awesome God who has the power to provide for our needs and direct the best outcome for our lives. We need to always remember to lean on Him. His Hand is extended toward His children, and we need to take advantage of His loving kindness and hold His Hand allowing Him to direct the pathways of our lives. We should rely on His will, obediently trusting in Him with reverence and fear, knowing that He is the keeper of our souls. We have been so humbled, not only by God’s mercy in healing my husband, but also by the knowledge that we were being supported and lifted up in prayer by so many. We have truly been blessed, and you, and every person who heard about us through you, have been a huge part of the blessings we have received. We thank you, and every platform follower you informed, beyond words. We give all thanks and praise to God who listened to every petition made on our behalf and who, in His mercy and wisdom, provided us with such a powerful support system while we are on earth. Thank you again so much. We will continue to keep you and your efforts in our prayers. 

In Christian Love, 

Brooke Kovalenko

Lake Forest Church of Christ

Jacksonville, Florida 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“I didn’t really plan on saying that…”

Maggie is three. But she’s an old soul and a very young fresh-from-God soul at the same time. This was her prayer one night last week: 

“Thank you that Adam and Eve repented and got to go up to heaven.” Then, when she finished praying, she said “Yeah, I just didn’t really plan on saying that. I just thought of it.” 

She’s learning every day and it doesn’t get past me that some of us old people need to be engaging in a lot more unplanned prayer. Sometimes we forget that prayer is not merely a habit we form of communication with the Father, but it is also a living expression of our evolving thoughts, petitions and praise to the One who has the infinite power to listen to all of His children, all over the world, at all times; to hear us as if there were only one of us (I wish I could have had that power when mine were small!) and to answer us in keeping with the very best eternal interests of each one of us.  This is not like the rote recitation of the pledge to the flag. It’s not reminiscent of the early twentieth century morning quotation of the “Lord’s Prayer” in schoolhouses all over America, although that’s an idea that was not a bad one. It’s more like Hannah at the temple crying out for a son (1 Samuel 1). It’s like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—firm in their resolution that God was able to deliver and yet firm in their own resolution to be true to Him even if he didn’t (Daniel 3). It’s more like Jesus on the cross commending His spirit into the hands of God (Luke 23:46). It’s you and me, asking for whatever it is that means the most to our hearts, expressing the trust that He is Sovereign no matter what assails us, and giving our all into His hands. That’s the kind of communication that flows freely, unencumbered by memorization or strict ritualistic form.  It’s the praise of a grandmother when a child puts on the Lord in baptism. It’s the prayer of a mother over the specific ills that have befallen a sick child. It’s the cry of a parent who is watching an adult child walk through a dark valley of betrayal and/or abuse. It’s the silent heavenward whisperings of a care-taking child watching a faithful parent deteriorate and die a thousand deaths on the way to glory.  It’s the wailing cry he hears from His child when the dearest on earth has left for the arms of the One who is interceding. It’s the petition for help from the Infinite One when navigating a path that seems busier and more overwhelming than a single person can even record on a calendar or spreadsheet. And all of this, of course, is far more raw than rote. 

It’s “Yeah, I didn’t plan on saying that, but I just thought of it.” This is being still and knowing (Psalm 46). 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“There’ll be days like this…”

“There’ll be days like this,” my mama said. There have been a few times in my life when things that are pretty routine have become infrequent. Things like putting on make-up or cleaning the trash out of my car or making a path through my living room or actually calculating whether there are too many carbs in this meal I’ve prepared. Some of the days of care-taking for my parents were like that. Some of the days when I was finishing a degree and some of the days when my children were very young. These kinds of days and weeks don’t always text ahead and ask if I’m ready for their visitation. Often it’s just a series of unexpected events that together make life suddenly and abruptly frantic and chaotic. 

Such are the days of this autumn. It’s my favorite time of the year, in any normal year. But this year, there are family members with Covid, large projects for which I am responsible, and lots of extra people in my house due to circumstances that I did not plan or execute. I still love the colors outside, the chill in the air, the football games I’m not watching, the fall trip to see the leaves that we’re not taking this year,  the pumpkin spice, and the autumn decorations in the bins downstairs that I’ve not had time to open. In fact, I praise Him everyday for the beauty and provision all around me. But I just prioritize and pray He will help me get the things done that really matter—eternal things—and not worry about the rest. 

Last night Glenn prayed that God would not interpret the despair that sometimes overtakes us, in seasons of distress or busy-ness, as ingratitude, because “…you have blessed us immeasurably and we don’t want to ever appear as if we don’t know that.” I’ve been thinking about how we make sure that we are not viewed, by God or man, as ungrateful. I think there are two or three obvious ways. 

  1. We keep sharing the good news. We cannot ever get so busy or burdened that we are not evangelistic. We have to keep passing out those cards inviting people to study. We have to keep taking time to meet up with the new converts and trying to nurture infant faiths. We have to take children with whom we have influence, in our laps and look straight into their eyes and talk about how great God is every day. We can’t forget, even when we are needing to hurry and get home, to find the visitors at our services and welcome them and make ourselves available to answer their questions. I think, in these ways, we show our Father that we understand that our greatest blessing has remained untouched by any adversity this life may throw our way. 
  1. We verbalize to God. Sometimes it helps me, in the busiest times of life, to pray on my knees, or to pray out loud while driving. In the times when there’s little sleep and lots of bustle, prayer sitting in a recliner or lying in bed, can quickly digress into unintelligible sentences. Speaking our gratitude to Him every day with clarity, is one way we magnify Him (Psalm 69: 30).
  1. We look around for encouragement. Now, I know that, when you’re feeding a crowd for every meal around your own table, you may not be taking as many meals to the grieving or the sick of your congregation. When you are struggling financially, your service has to be on the skinny. When you’re sick, spreading love may also be spreading germs. But Ola Mae is a nonagenarian with Covid and she continues to make and send cards of encouragement to many people in many places. Carol is in the fourth stage of cancer and she is the number one encourager, to the Colleys and many others, through the written word. Mark is suffering from Crohn’s disease and his heartfelt teaching and admonishing through song in every worship service brings tears to my eyes when I sit near him. Glenn was pretty sick earlier this fall, but I have watched him just keep on faithfully administering that role of being the meat in the sandwich generation while getting back on his feet and back in his pulpit. Lin has had some serious health complications this fall…some major medical tests being done—but she keeps right on heading up more than one ministry in her congregation and homeschooling her children and she even spoke at a recent ladies event. Teresa has seriously struggled with multiple health issues, but spoke from home via zoom at a great ladies day last weekend. Betty and Bill both had Covid this fall, but they are right back in their pew now and serving as the leaders of our group of active seniors. Paul is dealing daily with parents who are not long for this earth and he, too, is balancing parents and kids in stressful times, but he calls every day to encourage my husband. I’m just saying, look around. You will find many examples of extreme gratitude and you will find many reasons to get on your knees and thank the good Lord.