Browsing Tag

Quarantine lessons

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #15: Proverbs 6:18–Feet that Swiftly Run to Evil

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: Feet that are swift in running to evil…(Prov. 6:16-19)

These six things the Lord hates, 

Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

A proud look,

A lying tongue,

Hands that shed innocent blood,

A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that are swift in running to evil,

A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brethren.

You may be surprised at the number of Bible passages that reference feet.

When communities rejected the teaching of the apostles, they were to shake the dust off their feet (Matt. 10:14). Women came and worshiped at the feet of Jesus (Matt.28:9).  It is better to be lame than to have two feet and be cast into hell (Mk. 9:45).  Jesus washed His disciples feet before His crucifixion (Jn. 13:5).  The early Christians laid money at the apostle’s feet (Acts 4:35). 

Feet that are swift in running to evil is a poetic way of describing a man who yields to his temptations with no hesitation. James explained to us that Satan finds what tempts each man the most and makes sure each man faces that exact temptation: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (Ja. 1:14).  It’s not so different from a man who fishes for a particular kind of fish with the bait he knows has historically caught the most of that species.  That’s a troubling thought when applied to the way the devil works in our lives.

The Lord said to Saul on the road to Damascus,  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5).  Goads were sharp sticks mounted behind oxen who were yoked to a plow.  When they kicked back at their task, the goads hurt them.  It’s an apt illustration of a man or woman who knows what is right but is doing wrong and his/her conscience hurts.  Do you have goads hurting you right now?

Consider thoughts which ought to slow a person down when faced with temptation to sin:

1.  The Lord suffered on that cross and died for my forgiveness. I owe Him better than to walk boldly into sin.

2. My fellow Christians would be hurt and disappointed. 

3. My influence for good in my children would be compromised.

4. My influence for good in my unbelieving co-workers and friends could be  destroyed.

This one in our list of things God hates is about caring enough, being diligent enough to stay faithful to my God.  I take care in my daily decisions and work to think things through, rather than acting hurriedly and rashly. I think before I speak, before I go, before I act, and I judge all things by God’s will. Like Paul, I work to have a “…conscience void of offense toward God and toward men” (Acts 24:16).  

Story Time from Glenn and Cindy:  Genesis 49

In the last days of Jacob’s life he spoke to each of his sons and prophetically described what would happen in their lives.  We do not have miraculous, prophetic ability like Jacob did and I’m glad.  It must have been painful to tell some of these adult sons that because of their weak qualities, life would be filled with troubles of their own making.

Talk with your children about each of these weaknesses described by Jacob and encourage them to have the strength to be different and better:

1. (Vs. 3-4).  Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn son, who, presumably, would be the future leader of the family; but Jacob summed up his character with three words you should explain to your children: “unstable as water.” Pour water in a glass  and then a casserole dish. Challenge your children to think about how the water takes the shape of whatever container it’s in.   “Sometimes it’s tall and skinny like this glass. But then it’s wide and flat like this casserole dish. It just changes and can’t be controlled. It will not stay in any certain shape like play dough does.” Make sure they understand the concept of being so easily changed. Ask them if we should be like Reuben and change our minds about right and wrong all the time. Reuben was undependable; always changing, like the water.  Do you know anyone like this?  Teach your children about being steady and dependable:  fulfilling commitments, keeping their word, and consistently doing their best, no matter with whom or where they are.

2.(Vs. 5-7). Simeon and Levi were cruel to animals and to people.  Merriam-Webster defines cruelty as, “disposed to inflict pain or suffering : devoid of humane feelings.

Discuss a connection between someone who is cruel to animals and to humans. 

A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10).

Children who are careful to never be cruel to animals will probably never be cruel to humans. If your children have pets, think about some behaviors that would be cruel to their pets. 

3. (vs.10) To Judah Jacob says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to him shall be the obedience of the people” (Vs. 10).

Teach your children that Shiloh is Christ, and that Christ was promised to come from one particular son, Judah (Heb. 7:14).  One of the amazing proofs that Jesus is the Son of God is the many prophesies in the Old Testament which pointed to Him hundreds of years before His birth.

4. Sing the names of the 12 sons of Jacob. The West Huntsville kids have our tune, but lots of people sing these to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah

Issachar, Zebulon, Dan (Pretty good!)

Naphtali, Gad and Asher

Joseph and Benjamin.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #8–(Proverbs 5:22)

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. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs: The Cords of Sin (5:22)

“His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin.”

This proverb is a good example of why we love to read them.  This is an observation about humans and a profound reality of life. Solomon here helps us to admit something which we may only see in others, but never in ourselves.  Sin is like the old-fashioned fly paper with which my grandmother caught flies.  It was a strip of wax paper coated with a gooey, sweet concoction and flies were naturally drawn to it; then they were stuck, for good.  A valuable life lesson from fly-paper is this:  “The fly lights on the candy-coated sheet and says, ‘My flypaper.’  He eats his fill, and then tries without success to leave.  The flypaper says, ‘My fly.'”

There are at least three kinds of cords of sin that can become wrapped around us:

1.  Dependancy. Sometimes the dependency is physical.  Opioid abuse, barbiturates, beverage alcohol, etc… will tie a man or woman with such ropes of addiction that there is nothing he/she wouldn’t give for the drug. Many have forfeited a lot—marriage,  respect of children, employment; sometimes even life.  A person who starts using meth has often begun a slow and painful suicide.

Mental dependency is often just as bad.  A man addicted to pornography must fight a real battle prior to his release from the sin.  That’s a cord.

2. Financial. My financial welfare may be at stake if I don’t continue my course of sin.  Pressure to please the boss isn’t always bad but, if what the boss wants involves cooking the books or exploiting innocent people or outright lying, compliance is sinful, of course. The temptation is strong. The first time a man gives in, though, an invisible but stout cord wraps around him.  The temptation to do it again is increased because the employer can now say “But we didn’t have this problem last time.”  Pressure to comply in such a case is a cord.

3.  Other people. I may have unintentionally involved others who will be seriously hurt if I quit my course of sin.  Perhaps a common and most obvious illustration is a marriage to someone for whom Jesus prohibited marriage:  “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9).  Consider the last line in this verse.  It describes someone who marries another, but that marriage is not God-approved. In fact, it is adultery.  There are many such examples of hurt inflicted on others when I obey God. I must remember, though, that the reason they are hurt is not repentance; it’s sin.  A person’s inclination to protect others (even innocent people) may keep him from repenting. That’s a cord.

 If I have joined a religion that conflicts with New Testament Christianity, I will naturally make alliances that will be hard to break if I leave that religion for the true faith (Jude 3), taught by Christ. My friends in that faith may feel that I’ve not only abandoned the religion, but that I’ve abandoned them, too. Leaving a false religion could be difficult to do; yet that is exactly what I must do in order to please the One who will judge me one day (2 Cor. 5:10,  Matt. 7:21).  

Today, consider that the consequences of turning from sin are not nearly as severe as are the consequences of keeping my sin in this life and living eternally in hell.

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (Jn. 8:34).

Tonight’s Story Time from the Colleys:

 Read Genesis 44 to prepare to teach your children tonight. Tell your children the events of the chapter.

1.  “When we ended last night’s picture of Joseph, he was keeping his identity a secret. There was another strange thing that day: the lunch he had prepared for his brothers had something extra for his younger brother Benjamin. Do you remember what that was?   Right!…It was a serving five times as big as any of the others. Why do you think he did that? He seems to be following a tradition in the family. His grand-dad Isaac had a favorite son, Esau (Gen. 25:28).  His Dad, Jacob, had picked Joseph to be his favorite son and had made him a coat of many colors to prove it.  Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and grew to hate him because he was the favorite.  Do you think it’s a good thing for a mother or father  or even a brother to pick a favorite child?  How would you feel if you weren’t the one chosen to be the favorite?”

2. Have your children ask a question of you: “Do you have a favorite child?”

3.  Now, about that cup…How did Joseph trick the brothers into coming back? Have them tell you about how Joseph hid Benjamin’s money and a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Then he sent some servants out to search for the “stolen” cup (only he knew it was really a trick to get them to come back, for a great surprise). Give each one of your children a sack. Have some food from your pantry in each bag and, in one bag, put a silver cup (the closest thing you have…maybe your Yeti mug.) and some dollar bills or coins)  Even if you just have one child, this will be fun. Let mom or dad be a brother, too. Send the children away and then, when they get in another room, come after them. Pretend you are the servant and search their bags. When you find the cup, make the children come back and tell them you are going to keep “Benjamin.” Grab him and set him on the table or the couch. See if there’s a Judah. “Does anyone remember what Judah said?”  Have them dramatically beg you not to keep Benjamin. Praise them for remembering these details.

4. Let’s see if we can remember what it means to repent of sin. Have your children review last night’s definition of repentance.  Joseph tricked his brothers and told them that he would keep Benjamin with him.  Judah explained that his father had two sons he especially loved, and one of them was dead. The other was Benjamin, and it would break his heart to lose him.  Judah said, “…it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave.”  This means that Jacob,  a very old man would be very sad if anything happened to Benjamin; so much so, that he would probably just die from sadness.  So, Judah asked Joseph if he could stay and be a slave instead of Benjamin.  

How is what Judah asked different from all those years ago when Judah and the others sold Joseph into slavery?  How did this show Joseph that Judah had truly repented? Do you think Judah wished he could go back and change the way he acted that day when he sold Joseph? 

It is this repentance that makes Joseph know that it is time to tell them who he really is.

5. In the morning at breakfast, have a cup with a little money in it, for each child. Let the kids who can answer review questions keep the money for  piggy banks or dollar store trips when our pandemic is over.

  1. Who was the brother that was living in Egypt and helping the King through the famine?
  2. Which brother was Joseph’s favorite?
  3. How big was the serving that Benjamin got at the special lunch?
  4. What did Joseph hide in Benjamin’s sack?
  5. Which brother wanted to stay in Egypt so Benjamin could go home?
  6. What was the old father’s name…the one who would be so sad if something bad happened to Benjamin?
  7. Did Joseph decide to forgive his brothers?

6. Pray before bed that God will help our hearts to be like Joseph…that we will want to forgive others who have treated us badly.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #7– (Proverbs 1:7)

My Favorite Proverbs:  The Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)


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. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs:  The Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

It’s been a little over a week since the West Huntsville family was able to assemble. I want to encourage us all to guard against discouragement and especially against the resentment that can come with “cabin fever.” Wisdom is the ability to see how actions will turn out.  God gives divine wisdom. We can know that our trials will result in patience (James 1: 2,3)  We can know that our difficulties can accomplish His plans (Romans 8:28). We can know that times of illness can open doors of spiritual healing. 

Solomon spoke three thousand parables (1 Ki. 4:32). The book of Proverbs was written by, arguably, the wisest man who ever lived with the obvious exception of Christ Himself. It’s a great place to go when we’re looking for the good things that can be resultant from days of uncertainty. It’s a wellspring of divine wisdom. Let’s spend a few days in the Proverbs. 

The Dickson New Analytical Bible observes, as it introduces the book of Proverbs, that most of the book of Proverbs was written or collected by Solomon. It tells us that nothing is known about the men to whom the last two chapters are credited, Agur and King Lemuel. 

Then, it says this:

“The book of Proverbs, however, is more than a collection of pithy sayings. It reflects the historical background of the age in which Solomon lived, and it speaks to the needs of the people.  This was a time when great wealth and luxury in a privileged society brought the temptation to ignore the simple virtues that were the foundation stones on which the fathers of the nation had built its growth and prosperity.”

You can see why these inspired proverbs are so valuable to those of us who are navigating our course through a wealthy and changing America in this decade.  The first chapter, verse seven says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

While this fear is compatible with loving God, it is noteworthy that he did not say that the beginning of knowledge is loving God. It’s fearing Him. 

The word fear is found four hundred times in the KJV, and most of those reference fearing God.  

Let’s think of fear in two different ways: 

1.  I am afraid of Him.

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

2.  I reverence Him.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His  commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecc. 12:13).

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (Ja. 4:10).

“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him” (Psa. 89:7).

The Hebrew word for fear in Ecclesiastes 12:13 is yare, and Strong’s says it means both cause to frighten: — affright, dread(-ful),” (put in) fear(-ful, -fully, -ing),  but also “to be had in reverence.

In the New Testament the original word for fear (as is seen in 1 Jn. 4:18), is phobeo and it is translated, to be frightened, to be alarmed,”  but can also be translated, “to revere…reverence.

It may surprise you that being afraid of Him is not a wrong reason for a man to become a Christian.  Jude 23 says, “…but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Certainly, fear would play a part in that conversion scenario.   And yet, fear isn’t the best reason.  The verse just before this says, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction.”  Scholars believe this has to do with convicting or convincing those who may contend with truth or differ with truth.  The reason for obedience, in this case, would be more of a conviction by logic and less a response of fear. Oh, that all men would bow their knees before the One who is powerful enough to design and create them, and merciful enough to save them (Rom. 8:32).  Reverence in conviction is the mature outgrowth of initial fear, and perfect love casts out fear.

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:17-19).  

The greatest journey you will ever take in life is to learn to fear God.  It is the beginning of true knowledge.  

Tonight’s Story Time:

Read Genesis 43 to prepare for this time with your children.  Read slowly through these verses to grasp the details.

  1. Joseph wanted to see his younger and full-brother, Benjamin, the only other son of his mother Rachel.  He must have wondered if his wicked brothers had treated Benjamin in a cruel way, too.  (Talk to your children about what it means to repent. Give them some scenarios and ask them what a person would do who was repenting. An example might be a little girl who snatched a toy from her younger sibling. How could she repent? Maybe it’s a little boy who told a lie. How would he repent?) One essential part of the brothers’ repentance, in the mind of Joseph, was that they would love and respect Benjamin;  so, he asked them to bring Benjamin:  “And bring your youngest brother to me; so I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men.” (Gen. 42:34).  What do you think Joseph would have done if he learned that they had treated Benjamin in a mean way too?

2.  When Joseph’s daddy, Jacob, learned that the ruler in Egypt wanted his sons to bring Benjamin, he said “no” at first.  But the famine was very bad in the land (Gen. 43:1).  Have you ever been really hungry?  Judah, who had been so mean to Joseph when Joseph was young, said to his Dad, “I myself will be a surety for him…if I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever” (Gen. 43:9).  Judah said he would take all the blame if anything bad happened to Benjamin. Jacob sent Benjamin with Judah.  Joseph had not seen his younger brother in about twenty years, and, when he saw him, he went into another room to cry.  Why do you think he cried?  

Always be good to your brothers and sisters, and decide now that you will stay close to them and love them all of your life.

3.  There are two kinds of tears. Some are sad, and some are very happy. When have you cried because you were sad? When have you cried because you were happy?

4. Have your kids make another card or two for the Christians who need our  encouragement in Vermont. Tell them you think some of these Christians will cry because they are happy when they receive these cards. It will mean a lot to  them. 

5.See if your older children can think of a sibling in the Bible who was unkind to a brother. (Elicit answers like Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27), or Eliab and David (I Samuel 17:28) or the elder brother in Luke 15). 

6. Pray with your children. Remember to pray that, while we are all stuck together in this house for these days, we will love each other, have fun with each other and treat each other with great kindness.

7. Have your children quote the Golden Rule.


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #6… (Ladies, please read the bold at the end!)

***Today, if you are a regular reader of Bless Your Heart, I hope you will read through to the very end and notice the activity. If you could send a card or two (or more), it would be a blessing to some struggling brothers and sisters and children in Vermont!


My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons from Philippians 4:8 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. Blessings.

From Glenn:

Week 2 –Monday  — “Of good report”

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you (Phil. 4:8-9).

According to Strong’s, the word praiseworthy means well spoken of, i.e. reputable; of good report…sounding well; uttering words of good omen, speaking auspiciously. 

Paul means we should meditate on things that good people would admire. Consider three illustrations from Scripture: 

1)Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Paul is urging them to reflect well on the gospel in their community by the way that they live.

2)The qualifications of men we need for our church elders include, “…he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:7).

3)Jesus taught us to live our lives so that, in general, people will admire His Father because of the lives we live serving Him, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16).  

Perhaps the application of this principle fluctuates with cultures, but the meaning is this: Generally speaking, there are things which good people in any society approve and appreciate.  These are the better things in us. Perhaps it is less true in America today—we’re in a time when political assemblies can erupt into crowds booing when the name of God is mentioned in a positive way—but the general recognition of good exists, nevertheless, and arguably, still among the majority of people in our country.  Think for a moment about praiseworthy ideals: to honor one’s parents, to possess good manners, to show respect toward the elderly, to protect women and children when they’re in trouble, to be honest even when our dishonesty might go unpunished, to obey the law as a matter of conscience (Rom. 13:1-5), to respect other people’s property, to respect God’s laws about sexuality (avoiding adultery, homosexuality, rape, lasciviousness, etc… [1 Cor. 6:9-11]), to be kind to people who are kind to us and even to those who are not. These are things that are respected by the communities in which most Christians live and work.

There are still many in this old world who appreciate these things. Paul exhorts us to meditate on them. To do so contributes to our spiritual health and to preventing impediments to our successful evangelism.  

Tonight’s Story Time:

Today, during the day, read Genesis 42 so you’ll be well prepared to tell the details to your children in a way they can grasp and from which they can learn.

  1. The famine prophesied by Joseph had reached to Jacob and his family. Jacob, the father of this large family, was doing what every husband and father should do. He was providing for his family (42:1-4).  He instructed ten of his sons (Benjamin wasn’t sent  because Jacob was afraid of harm coming to him.) to go to Egypt where food could be bought.  God was working His plan to bring the family together with Joseph and save a people—soon to be called Israel—through which the Christ would eventually come.  Your children may not be old enough yet to understand all of this, but they will understand that God uses our lives to make things work out the way He has planned.

2.  God provides for His children. We call that providence, yet sometimes it may be years before I can understand just how God has worked something out for my good.  When Joseph, dressed like the Egyptians and talking like them, saw his brothers, he did not tell them who he was. He had a “secret identity.” (Do your children know of anyone who has a secret identity?) In his heart, he remembered those dreams he had when he was 17, in which his brothers bowed down before him (42:5-9).  Now they really were bowing down before him. Now he understood why God made him dream all those things when he was a boy. 

Tell your children that, throughout their lives, during good times and bad, they must trust that God’s working in their lives. Have them think of some good things that are coming even from all the sickness in our world today. 

3.  Beginning here, Joseph started a lengthy and complicated test to learn if his brothers had changed. Were they still mean and wicked? Did they hate Joseph’s little brother, Benjamin, just like they had hated him?

It must have been hard for Joseph to not immediately tell them who he was.  Ask your children if they think this was wise or if they’d have done it differently.  Discuss.

4. Now talk about how that sometimes it is very hard when God’s people are separated from the people they love. Talk about how hard it must have been for Joseph all those years. It is hard for people today to serve God when there are not a lot of other Christians around them. Talk about how sad it is even for us when we cannot gather together with our Christian family.

Special Activity: This week, Cindy (my wife) has heard from a faithful Christian preacher’s wife in Vermont. Her name is Sarah Floyd. The Christians in Vermont are very few and they are struggling. They are not getting to meet together very much right now and many of them live far from each other. They don’t get to have lots of activities like many of us do. They don’t have KidSing or Lads to Leaders or Youth devotionals or even lots of Bible classes. These Christians and children would LOVE to get cards or pictures from your family. Just a picture or a verse or a photograph from your printer; a little spring flower from a coloring book or a handmade bookmark…anything would brighten their days, make them feel less isolated, and encourage them to be faithful. Make as many of these in the next five days as you can. Put each one into a separate envelope with the following first names on them. Then stuff them all into a larger envelope and mail them to the address at the bottom. If you could do a couple each night this week, then by next weekend, you’d have a little stash to send. (But even if your children are very small and you just make one, that’s still a blessing to one person!…And it’ll bless your child, too!)

Be sure to put one first name (or two or more names if it’s obviously a couple or family) on each card you make. Then put all the cards made by your family in one big envelope and mail to: Bennington church of Christ, 524 South St., Bennington, VT 05201.

Here’s the list (this seems like a good number, but I believe they have about 15 -20 on a usual Sunday):

Widows/widowers/single older people: Joyce, Doug, Lin, Mitt, Ruth, Nancy

Older couples: Bob and Carol (elder and wife), Ken and June (elder and wife), David and Joyce

Lady who lives alone because her husband works overseas: Mary

Only teenager in the church: Teen Mary 

Her 10-year-old sister: Rachel

Parents of Mary and Rachel: Doug and Wendy

Newer Christian: Tina

Newer Christian family: Nate, Amanda, Haylee, William

Needs encouragement: Alan and Jen

Pray together and especially pray tonight that we will soon be able to get together and hug and worship with our church family. Pray for the people in Vermont who are struggling to be faithful to our Father.


For those of you who are  Bless Your Heart readers  and want to send cards  to Vermont, I wanted to include a little of Sarah’s note (to show you the need). Sarah Floyd has been a friend for several years, is a devoted preacher’s wife in a difficult place, a great wife and mom, and an author of fiction. (I haven’t read her first book in an upcoming series yet, but I plan to read it! It’s Finding Joy and it’s on Amazon.) I was looking forward to being in her area (four hours from where she lives, but she was coming) this very weekend, before the ladies day in Biddeford, Maine was canceled. Here are some of her thoughts that tugged at my heart. Sometimes we take the family-ness of our congregations, brimming with faithful people, for granted. We have so many activities and so much time together that we may even complain, at times.   I feel for these sisters and brothers who feel the isolation all of the time; not just when a pandemic or short separation arises. I’m committed to sending a card a day until I’ve encouraged every one of them. Could you? The list and address are above in the Family Bible Time activity. 

Here’s a part of what Sarah wrote: 

Please pray for New England Christians right now, sisters.

There aren’t many of us at all.

There are only about 300 members of the church of Christ here in Vermont. Yes, in the entire state.

We meet in very small congregations.

We meet in congregations mostly filled with elderly people on fixed incomes.

We meet in congregations that are just a few weeks of missed contributions away from having to close the doors of the church building.

We don’t have many Christian family members, as a rule, to support us spiritually in this frightening time, or if we do, most of them live far away.

Our congregations are an hour or more apart.

We often work for years to establish relationships with people to influence them for Christ, because door knockers are often cursed at or turned in to the police around here, and we are afraid of losing those relationships the longer we are in quarantine.

We are also terrified that our “fringe” members…the ones who only come once in a while or just to Sunday morning worship…will get in the habit of just not coming at all…and for some of our congregations, most of our members are “fringe” members.

We have too many elderly members and too few young members to have a buddy system in place, so those of us who are still young and healthy are trying to keep up with everyone.

We fight tooth and nail to even be able to hold area-wide events like singings and ladies days (so little manpower available), and they’ve been canceled. Most of them will not be rescheduled this year.

And, finally, many of us already felt SO lonely and SO isolated from other like-minded people, that this enforced seclusion is utterly depleting our emotional strength. Our social cups were already almost empty before, and there’s nothing left to pour. This is where I am, as a SAHM of a special needs child (and a 3 yr old). I am thankful for technology and the ability to worship and communicate online, but it doesn’t take the place of the ladies retreat I was going to attend

Never underestimate the negative power of isolation and loneliness, and please, once we are free to live as we choose again, remember your brethren up here will still be pretty isolated. Please consider visiting us, sending your teens here on a mission trip, forming a team and serving up here long-term, etc. Most of all, please pray for us. Often. Fervently.

Thank you if you got to the end of this. Love in Christ to all of you!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #4

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons from Philippians 4:8 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. Blessings.

From Glenn:


Thursday — Whatever Is Pure

When Paul wrote that we are to think on things that are pure, he used a word defined by Strong’s as, innocent, modest, perfect: — chaste, clean, pure. This is in sync with other passages that place our sexuality in an elevated category when it comes to protection and purity.  Paul showed us the uniqueness of sexual sin when he wrote “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).  He went on to say “…because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).  Jesus put sexual sin in a unique category when He taught, “…whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Mt. 19:9).  Of the plethora of instructions older women could give younger women about marriage and the home, Paul makes a short list and includes this: “…Admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste…”(Tit. 2:4-5).  

Think of all the harmful behaviors that potentially destroy marriages and consider that Jesus elevates this one sin—fornication to be the exclusive basis on which divorce and remarriage can occur with God’s approval.  I doubt we will ever fully understand the depth of spiritual significance involved in this act. Fornication is a sin with profound consequences, and God always references it with great sobriety. 

Mankind shakes a fist at heaven over God’s sexual laws.  Hell has persuaded people to embrace homosexuality and to proudly espouse the joy of the fluidity of  gender. A man can choose to be a woman if he likes and people are bound to use pronouns that suit that unfortunate pretense. God has given such people up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, (Rom. 1:24).  Some of the strongest condemnations of Scripture are aimed at sexual sin and perversion.  We understand why. Sexual immorality is dark and destroys lives and homes. 

Even members of the body of Christ sometimes make the sad mistake of flirting with sexual sin by wearing revealing clothing, by dancing inappropriately, and by participating in other lustful and reckless behaviors.  They sin against their own bodies and invite haunting ghosts of regret into their future lives.

In contrast, consider the bright light of purity—not the absence of sexuality but the safety and joy of sex within God’s prescribed boundaries.  In Biblical marriage, sex knows no broken violation of God’s holy word, no guilt, no bitter and lingering heartache, no young girls with shattered lives facing unwanted pregnancies, no teen boys with STD’s. This sexuality is pure. It is God-designed, God-approved, and, in fact, it is God-commanded for those who are married (I Cor. 7:1-2).  It is joyful. It is bonding in an incomparable way.  It is the ultimate embrace. Its purity is traditionally depicted by a white dress, and a honeymoon that is physically fulfilling and holy at the same time.  Sexuality is a deep celebration in marriage because the act of marriage binds husband and wife to one another for their entire lives.

Not all sex is equal.  We must force ourselves to contrast and separate the world’s corrupted sex and the purity of sex in a happy, God-approved marriage.  Then we are doing what Paul teaches us here:  We are thinking on the things that are pure and lovely.

Tonight’s Story Time Earlier in the day, prepare yourself for family story time by reading carefully Genesis 41 so you’ll have all the details in mind. 

Tell the children that Joseph spent two additional years in prison, after God interpreted the dreams of the baker and butler.  But God had not forgotten Joseph.  He had big plans for  Joseph to lead his family into the protection of Egyptian abundance. (Say this in terms your kids will understand, of course.)  After telling the account (Gen. 41:1-32) leading up to revealing Joseph’s revelation to Pharaoh, move on to these discussion questions:

1.  When God gave Joseph the interpretation of the baker’s and butler’s dreams, what future purpose did He have in mind?  God is not limited as a man and He makes plans into the future.  You do not know everything about God’s purpose for your future, but you do know some things for sure. What are those things?  (Have a discussion here about being faithful through all of life, finding a follower of Christ to marry, working hard in a career that God approves or raising children to be faithful to God.)

2.  Why do you think God had Pharaoh dream about cows and ears of grain instead of just having him dream about years of plenty and of famine in Egypt?  How did God make a picture in Pharaoh’s mind so that this dream would be “stuck” in his head? Tell your children the cows were sacred, like gods or idols, to the Egyptians. Imagine how shocked Pharaoh would have been to dream about sacred cows being eaten up! God is brilliant! 

3.  In 41:16, after Pharaoh had invited Joseph to interpret the dreams about the cows and grain, Joseph again gave full credit to God, not himself. You should practice doing that now so that it will be a natural thing to speak of God’s will and blessings in your life for all your lifetime.  What important blessings in your life right now can you point to and say, “I didn’t do that. God did.”? When we are staying well, having enough food to last us through this time of sickness, being able to enjoy being with our families at home, who is it that gives us this place to be safe and well? When we are ill, to whom do we pray for strength and healing? Practice asking your children if they are well and healthy. Have them respond “Yes. God has been so good to us…” or “Yes, and we are thanking God..” or “Yes. Praise God.” 

Tonight, have your children make a card for someone they know who is sick in your congregation or neighborhood. Have each child draw a picture and write “We are praying for you…” followed by the words from Genesis 41:16 “God shall give an answer of peace.”  Help those children who can’t yet write. You might write the text out and then have the very young child put his handprint on the card with paint or ink or just draw around his hand.  Be sure to remember to mail these tomorrow.

Remind your children that Joseph was doing something in this chapter that was going to save many lives. 

Pray with your children. Have your children help you make a list of people they know who are sick. Pray for each by name. Remember to pray for all of those people who are sick with COVID. Pray that your family will be healthy both “in our bodies and in our pure hearts.” 

Repeat the Golden Rule with your children. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley Dig-a-Bit Podcast Digging Deep Podcast

Family Ties in the Social Distance #3

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons from Philippians 4:8 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. Blessings.

From Glenn:

Wednesday Boost –Whatever is just:

The Greek word that Paul wants us to think about is dikaios, translated “just” or “righteous,” and it describes a person who is governed by righteousness—the will to do the right thing every time.  With the Golden Rule Jesus taught us the greatest ethical standard ever imposed.  He told us to decide our treatment of others based on how we’d like to be treated, ourselves (Matt. 7:12).  That ethical tool will work regardless of age, gender, economic level, or geographic location.  Anyone can use this and the end result can usually be described as just.  A just man will treat you fairly.  If he sells you his used Ford he will tell you all the truth about the car, just  as he would want you to tell him if you were selling the car to him.  You will sense that he is a good and honest man.

Enjoy with me a list of verses where this just is found:

Joseph, the future husband of Mary is described as a just man in the way he treated her (Matt. 1:19).

Jesus used it to describe righteous people versus those who were unrighteous (Matt. 5:45).  He said that, in the judgment, the angels will come and separate the wicked from the just (Matt. 13:49).

In Matthew four, Jesus told a parable of a landowner who hired workers with this pay offer: “You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you’ (Matt. 20:4).  The word right is the same Greek word as just.

Hypocrisy is when a man appears to be just/righteous on the outside, while inside, he is he is full of lawlessness (Matt. 23:28).

Pilate’s wife told him to have “nothing to do with that just Man” (Matt. 27:19). She was describing our Lord. When Pilate washed his hands, he used the same word to describe Jesus (Matt. 27:24).

Herod Antipas feared John the baptist because he knew John was a just and holy man (Mk. 6:20).

Jesus said there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Lk. 15:7).

The centurion at the foot of Christ’s cross saw Jesus breathe His last breath, saw the darkness, felt the earth tremble and exclaimed, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” (Lk. 23:47).

While considering these examples and people, think of how valuable just people are in this world. Today, think about how grateful you are for people in your life in whom you can place complete trust. Use the word just to characterize them.  After that, ask God to help you be just in all aspects of your life, in all interactions with people and with God.

Tonight’s Story Time

Additionally, I’d like to challenge those of you who have children to use this time to build family closeness in the Lord.  For that reason I’m also suggesting that all our  WH families be on the same nightly “story time” character: Joseph. He, like us, faced times that must have felt surreal.  

Prepare by reading Genesis 40. Tell your children the details of what happened to Joseph while he was in prison. Then begin your discussion with these leading questions:

1. When Joseph was about to interpret the dreams of the butler and baker, he said, “Do not interpretations belong to God?”   Why didn’t Joseph just say the interpretation was from him?  When would it be good for us to say to others, “God did this”?

2. Joseph told the butler very good news, but he told the baker very sad news.  Can you think of times when it is important to tell people bad news even though it may make them sad?

3.  Joseph made the butler very happy by telling him what his dream meant. Joseph asked the butler to talk to Pharaoh about his unfair treatment and to tell Pharaoh that he wanted to be released.  What are reasons it is very bad to tell someone we will do something, and then not do it?

4. Talk about how the butler failed to be fair to Joseph. Show them how the butler was happy for Joseph to help him, but he did not remember to follow the Golden Rule toward Joseph. 

Have your  small children practice the golden rule by repeating it several times, explaining it again and…

Having a plate of cookies or fruit and allowing the children to determine who chooses the first serving. See who does the best job of following the Golden Rule. 


Having a bedtime story and determining who chooses the book.


Deciding who gets to sleep with a favorite stuffed animal.  


Have each child quote or begin to memorize the Golden Rule.

Practice the KidSing Rule from yesterday.

Pray together, remembering to pray that the Golden Rule will always be “our family’s rule for how we treat each other.”