Browsing Tag

Providence

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep Israel–Stop #5: Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls)

It was an extremely hot day when our weary little group looked over at the caves of Qumran. From our vantage point, we could see several of these caves where, preserved inside jars of clay, were discovered in the 1940s, 50s and 60s copies of many ancient texts. Most relevant to us was the fact that portions of every single Old Testament book, with the exception of Esther, were eventually found within these caves. 

It all started  in 1948, when a bedouin shepherd boy (a teenager), in an attempt to find a lost goat, tossed a rock down into a cave, to try and determine if there was life in the cave. The sound he heard from the cave was not the bleating of a goat, but rather the shattering of glass. The breakage was heard all around the religious world!

The significance of these manuscripts produced exultance in those who rejoice at all further evidence of the authenticity of the scriptures and it produced scorn in those who claim that the Bible is uninspired. This is because the copies of the Old Testament writings were about 900 years older than any known existing copies prior to 1948. 900 years!

The Isaiah scroll was the most complete Old Testament scroll found in the caves of Qumran. Almost the entire book of Isaiah was found. Amazingly, when compared to the manuscript that was previously known as  the oldest one (written about 900 years later), it was very close to exactly the same text…word for word. Remember, we are talking about documents originally copied by scribes between the years 68 BC and 250 AD!

Our God has said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Words shall not pass away.” We, as His people believe we have the inerrant, plenarily inspired Word. But even the skeptics were aghast at the number of Dead Sea scrolls that contained Biblical text, the amazing way they were preserved, and the striking evidence they produced that what we are reading today is indeed the same text that was written by the original penmen.

As you can imagine, once the shepherd sold his new-found treasures (the first scrolls found) to an antiquities dealer (for about 28 dollars) and the world slowly caught on to the news about the scrolls, archaeologists wanted to dig  (and they did, finding 800-900 documents and over 50,000 fragments, along with what many believe was a “writing room”). Discoveries led them to believe that the documents were written and preserved by scribes of the Essenes, one of four distinct Jewish groups of the Roman period.  As conflict and war in the middle east interrupted the excavations, Jordanians seized the scrolls during the 6-Day War and kept them for a time. The government of Jordan is still attempting today to lay claim to the scrolls. 

God’s timing is always perfect. I’m thankful that my childhood was the one era of time into which the scrolls were introduced. Why did God allow those scrolls to be hidden for 2000 years? I do not know all about His reasons, but I do know that the leading nations of the world, including the United States and European countries, were, in the 1950s and 60s, launching into an era of unbelief like no era they’d ever known; an era that would lead them to the widespread acceptance of the Darwinian theory of evolution and a swift resultant revolt against time-honored codes of morality. All the while, God was shouting from dry bedouin caves in the Judean desert, “My Word shall never pass away.” His providential timing is perfect! 

Looking at these caves made me all the more excited to visit the Museum of Israel, where I would get to see some of the jars and some of the manuscripts found in them. That post will come soon!

Qumran lesson: Jars of clay were the preservation vessels. There were treasures awaiting discovery in the jars of Qumran. God can use an ancient scribe in exile, a young shepherd boy and a lost goat to reveal His powerful evidence. While I know that we are not the inspired writers  (as in the passage below) who had the treasure in their miraculously empowered minds, He can still use you and me, in a sense, as jars of clay today, to put the preserved Word in the hands of those who desperately need it. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Cor. 4:7-12)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Stolen Bible and the Podcast

A beautiful sixty-something woman made her way to the microphone to lead the closing prayer today in West Plains, Missouri, where I was speaking at a ladies seminar. She paused before praying to comment on the the Providence of our great God, about which I’d been speaking. She reminisced about the early days of her marriage, when Providence found the newlyweds in a hotel room en route to an off shore assignment with which her husband had been tasked, early in his career. At the end of the hotel stay, her husband picked up the Gideon Bible from the hotel desk and placed it in their car.

“What kind of man have I just married?” she thought….”What kind of man steals a Bible?” 

A few days later, while her husband found himself waiting in the car for a tugboat to come and transport him to the job, he picked up the “stolen” Bible and began to read. Just at the right time, an elder in the church of the Lord passed by the car. Glancing in the window, he noticed the young man reading the Bible. As any good soldier does, the elder engaged the young man in conversation about the Word. He basically asked the question asked by Philip two thousand years ago of the Ethiopian journeyman in Acts 8: “Do you understand what you are reading?”  

The rest, as they say, is history. I guess the tugboat came to pick him up, but that was just incidental when compared to the rescue of the spiritual lifeboat that day.  Lo, these many years later, this sweet woman, baptized along with her husband, as a result of reading from the “stolen” Bible, led our feasting souls in prayer at the conclusion of our study on how to be beautiful women for Him.

Story after story comes my way about how people learn the gospel by “chance.” In fact, I am convinced that, for souls who are seeking, there is Providence; not a miraculous nudging or a better-felt-than-told mystical experience. But, when people are seeking—when they are opening up the Bible and looking for His Will—there are often still people who are praying for opportunities to interact with those seekers.  Our God is powerful enough to orchestrate His Providence in uniting teachers with students and bringing seekers to those who can facilitate understanding. 

I pray that He is doing that with our Digging Deep study. I am praying hard that, as we explore His supreme authority, He is bringing open hearts together with open Bibles in sweet circumstances that can bring souls to an ultimate place around His throne. I hope you can be with us for the first podcast of this year’s study. It’s tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CST here: https://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women. If you can’t make it live, shoot for watching the archived edition. Either way, if you could be praying about the digging, the hearts, and the receptivity to the power of the Word, Emily Anderson, who joins me tomorrow night, and I will be so thankful. Blessings till then!

P.S. If you’d still like to get in on the study, there’s plenty of time to catch up! September’s portion can easily be combined with October’s and you’ll be right with us by the end of the month. We’d love to have you studying along.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Invitation of a Child–Part 2

A few posts back, I chronicled the story of how one small boy’s invitation to a VBS resulted in the salvation of  multiple souls and opened doors indirectly to many blessings for a succession of people (https://thecolleyhouse.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=10944&action=edit). Here’s the poem that was read at the celebration of the marriage of these two Christians, who became such as a result of that “inconsequential” invitation on a regular day. Little people, regular days, a few words, and small events can be game changers. Maybe we should just all pray every day for the normal…the uneventful…the regular, in our lives.  All of these He can  use to affect eternity.

 

For Grat and Kirsten

Baseball, basketball, and running around in capes,

Superman and Batman and planning heroic escapes.

Putt-putt, Ninja Turtles, and hanging around with Nate.

Boy scouts and camp-outs, so much to anticipate.

 

A few short years later, a little girl arrived.

A princess! On sweet friends and fashion, she thrived.

She awoke to this world with an inquisitive heart

Learning languages, cultures and savoring art. 

 

And the little boy, Grattan, grew to be  a man

Went to high school and college and worked out life’s plan

He was so savvy with public relations 

Technology, too…all things communication…

 

And, somewhere, behind Grat, Kirsten would follow

Through Memphis and London and even Guatemala

Birmingham, and Arkansas, Germany and Rome

She  didn’t know yet that Grat’s heart was her home. 

 

Such an unlikely pairing? Who saw that this could be? 

Yet here we are rejoicing, for this happy family.

A little technology…a little more time

Who knows how it happened…the reasons and rhyme?

 

God knows how it happened. He guided their souls.

His Word was their compass…their anchor for goals.

For each of them wanted with all of the heart

To just give Him their wills…to be His from the start…

 

In the home they are making, the children they’ll bear

The decisions of life, the sorrows they’ll share…

The memories they’re making, the worship they give

Just to make him the Master each moment they live.

 

And THAT is what ties them, safe and secure

In all times and stations, for God’s paths are sure.

A rock is our God. A fortress, a shield.

A shelter, A stronghold…And they will not yield.

 

To voices that call them, to tests of their will,

They’re listening to one voice that said “Peace…Be still.”

Whatever the price or whatever reward, 

Married to each other, but first….to the Lord. 

Cindy Colley

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Six Pounds, Fifteen Ounces Fresh from God! (and Congrats to Courtney Clark Grice!)

 She is here and she is precious. She is perfect.

There I was, after being in and out of that hospital for the past 33 hours, in the gift shop. We’d put Ezra and Colleyanna, the excited, but very tired little cousins down for a nap in the lobby of that birthing center. I’d promised them if they closed their eyes and took a nap, I’d have a surprise for them when they woke up. We’d moved the chairs and benches around. We’d read a Little Critter story. We’d even turned on a sound machine so they could hear the ocean and they had complied.  So, while they slept, I went around the corner and down the hall to the gift shop.(Little did I know they really would have a HUGE surprise by the time they awakened and I did not even need to go to the gift shop!) You know how gift shops in hospitals are. So I opted for two rolls of Life Savers for $1.09 each rather than the plastic pink flamingos for $12.99 each or the ceramic basket of cookies shaped like feet with the “Get back on your feet” card that bore the $39.99 sticker. The little credit card reader said “approved” and I was waiting for the receipt that I needed to sign. The “pink ladies” behind the counter were chatting about the weather when it happened. The lullaby on the hospital speaker system played. In clear tones, the bells pealed the first three bars of “Lullaby and Good-night.” The sweet ladies both exclaimed “Another baby has been born.”

“That’s not just another baby! That’s MY baby!” I shouted. Grabbing my card and my little bag I ran out of that store and down that hall.

“But you need to sign…” shouted one of the ladies

“Aww, let her go!”…I heard the other one say.

And then I ran smack into Hannah who was literally running to find me. “Mom, That was OUR lullaby!”

And it was. Maggie waited a couple of weeks past her due date to come. That’s the part of her that she comes by honestly. She’s running behind from the get-go, just like her paternal mammy. Then she waited a considerable time after her mama was admitted for her birth. But good things come to those who wait. (And can I say right here that her mom was a CHAMP of a “waiter”?!…I mean “waiting” all that time without anesthesia?! She never ceases to amaze her mother-in-law.)

After driving 12 hours or so without my license (still have not found that thing), cajoling the security authorities to let me in to see my baby without a photo ID (that’s the moment I found that I had no license), having two different house guests here in Huntsville while I was in Florida, helping my husband to get to the Nashville area for a seminar where he was to speak that, in the end, turns out to be NEXT weekend (…yes, he missed the birth, yes, he was crushed– devastated, even, and yes, with the heroic help of our son-in-law, Ben, he DROVE from Jacksonville, Florida to Murfreesboro via Columbus, Georgia and Huntsville, Alabama, so they could both get their suits and sermons for their respective speaking engagements, just so Glenn could get up at 5 am and drive a couple of hours more to an empty parking lot)…after all this and so much more, I am home. But this mammy is wishing she could kiss those newborn cheeks one more time.

Notwithstanding the chaos, every birthing room prayer has been answered and in perfect ways that we could not have imagined and could never deserve. He is so good. We are blessed beyond what those who are without the Lord in moments like these can even approach. We praise Him for she is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Now, for the contest drum roll! Three ladies guessed the exact weight, six pounds and 15 ounces.… Courtney Clark Grice, Michelle Giselbach Nicholas, and Heather Bear Yarbrough! But Courtney broke the tie by guessing her length as 21 inches. Her actual length was 20.5 inches. (Heather and Michelle both guessed 19 inches) So congratulations to Courtney! Send your wish list, Courtney, for $50.00 worth of free merchandise from www.thecolleyhouse.org to byhcontest@gmail.com. Please remember to put your address there. Heather and Michelle, you both will receive one free book, dvd, or cd from The Colley House. Just email the same address. Include your postal address and what you would like! Congrats to 3 great guessers!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

For Maggie

Written a couple of years ago, to Caleb, when we first knew who would be the wise and godly mother of our Colley grandchildren, I run this again today in honor of Maggie, who is healthy and strong (and stubborn!). Come on, Maggie. I love you and can’t wait to put a kiss on your sweet face, fresh from God. He is still writing this story.

The Answer

God is so good to your parents tonight

He’s  answered the details of prayer.

It wasn’t our wisdom, but Providence

Not our work, but His steady care.

 

He gave you the songs you’ve been singing

He gave you the voice that you raise

He gave you the music that’s deep in your soul

And the skill to lead Christians in praise.

.

You’ve excelled in conviction and conscience.

You’re courageous, yet kind and forbearing.

Confident in truth, introspective,

Consistent, hard-working, and caring.

 

He’s answered our prayer for His daughter, too.

More completely than parents could plead.

Immeasurably more than we ask or think.

She’s everything He knows you need.

 

So we thank our Father each night for her;

For the path that brought her to your life.

For her honor, her humor, her love for our Lord

And that she said, “yes”…she’d be your wife.

 

So you both can go ahead and start praying now

For the sons who will fill up your lives.

For their safety in coming, their bruises and scrapes

For the ones who will raise up their wives.

 

And, Son, pray for daughters, for you know how to teach

A little boy to be the best kind of brother.

She’ll be holy and His and so pretty, to boot…

She’ll grow up to be just like her mother.

 

When the years and the tasks loomed so large, Son,

We prayed for this hour in your life.

We prayed that your heart and your hands would be strong

When they first held the heart of your wife.

 

And all through the years, Son, you’ve taught us.

But the greatest thing you helped us see

Was the extreme sacrifice of the Father

To give His one Son on a tree.

 

We know that He brought you together

That the Father is writing your story.

So glad for this moment when you’ll vow to give

Him a lifetime…as one…for His glory.

cc

PS. Your cousins, Ezra, Colleyanna and James are pretty excited, too, Maggie!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: This Big Tree Again!

No one else noticed those little saplings on that Sunday morning in 1961 that had been planted by the robust young dad in the middle of a busy work week. He took a special interest in the property on Nisbet Street in Jacksonville, Alabama. It was where he took his family to worship every week. And worship was the focal point of the week. Nobody else noticed, I guess. But God knew.

God  said this surprising thing in Deuteronomy 20:19,20 about the trees in the fields of Israel’s enemies as they conquered Canaan:

“When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you? Only the trees of which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it fall.”

God is so good. He told them to leave the trees that would sustain them, and to cut down the ones that would protect them. He knew the difference between fruit trees and hardwoods. Of course He did. He made them.  He gave them purpose in His cycle of life. Those little saplings on Nisbet Street were the bulwark kind of trees.

Lots of things have changed since that day my dad planted those saplings in the church yard in Jacksonville. (Here’s the original story about those big oak trees and about some other little acorns, too: https://thecolleyhouse.org/dad-planted-acorns

But this last Monday will be remembered for many years as the day the tornado hit Jacksonville. There was so much property damage for that church we love in Jacksonville. I know if I were the devil, I’d be glad it destroyed the entire building from which that amazing House to House publication, that gospel proclaimer that reaches more households than almost any printed material in the world, emanates. But God knows about storms, too.

Isaiah 25:3,4 says this about the Lord and storms:

Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee. For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

God knows about that storm destroying the building where His people were busy every day making sure that House to House made its way to all of us. He knows about His “strong people” glorifying Him! He knows about the loss of all that equipment used to plan and preserve the treasured lessons of Polishing the Pulpit, reaching thousands upon thousands every year through live audiences and recorded teaching. He knows how to make eternal riches from rubble and He will bless His people in their distress. In fact, we’ve already been assured that not one issue of House to House will be missed in mailboxes around the world. Polishing the Pulpit will be on schedule. God is good!

And he knows about the fall of a big tree, too. It’s a sad picture, but the good folks at Jacksonville have already granted us permission to haul off the huge trunk of that big oak tree. God knows about re-purposing, too. Is it time you let the Powerful One repurpose you? You will one day bow before Him. Why not make it now and be on the side of the Great One who can be your ever-present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1)– your shelter in the time of storm?

Let’s pray for those difficult hours of clean-up and for the rebuilding efforts in Jacksonville. Let’s rejoice that no lives were lost! Let’s serve Him!