Browsing Tag


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #43: Proverbs 16:2–The Universal Standard

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: Proverb 16:2 

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits.”

This proverb implies God has an objective, absolute standard for man’s behavior.  Here is the account of two-gun Crowley which I learned when I was younger.  I assume it to be true. It reads like a newspaper report and appeared in one of Dale Carnegie’s books:

On May 7, 1931, New York City witnessed the most sensational man-hunt the old town had ever known. After weeks of searching, “Two Gun” Crowley—the killer–the gunman who didn’t smoke or drink—was  trapped in his sweetheart’s apartment on West End Avenue.  One-hundred-fifty policemen and detectives laid siege to his top-floor hideaway.  Chopping holes in the roof, they tried to smoke out Crowley, the “cop killer,” with tear gas.  Then they mounted their machine guns on surrounding buildings, and for more than an hour, one of New York’s fine residential sections reverberated with the crack of pistol fire and the rat-tat-tat of machine guns. Crowley, crouching behind an overstuffed chair, fired incessantly at the police.  Ten thousand excited people watched the battle. Nothing like it had ever been seen on the sidewalks of New York.  

When Crowley was captured, Police Commissioner Mulrooney declared that the two-gun desperado was one of the most dangerous criminals ever encountered in the history of New York.  “He will kill,” said the commissioner, “at the drop of a feather.”  

But how did “Two Gun” Crowley regard himself?  We know, because while the police were firing into his apartment, he wrote a letter addressed “To whom it may concern.” And, as he wrote, the blood flowing from his wounds left a crimson trail on the paper.  In this letter Crowley said: “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one—one that would do nobody any harm.”

Only a short time before this writing, Crowley had been with a woman on a country road out on Long Island.  Suddenly a policeman walked up to the parked car and said:  “Let me see your license.”

Without saying a word, Crowley drew his gun, and cut the policemen down with a shower of lead.  As the dying officer fell,  Crowley leaped out of the car, grabbed the officer’s revolver, and fired another bullet into the prostrate body.  That was the killer who said, “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one—one that would do nobody any harm.”

Crowley was sentenced to the electric chair.  When he arrived at the death house at Sing Sing, did he say, “This is what I get for killing people?”  No, he said, “This is what I get for defending myself.”  The point of the story is this:  “Two Gun” Crowley never blamed himself for any of his heinous crimes.

This brief account of the life and death of a killer, combined with our proverb for today emphasize the fact that all people must be guided by a higher standard than their own momentary preferences.  Standards are vitally important, especially in view of man’s propensity to justify his actions, no matter how sinful they are. Every wrong done can be excused by rationalization. But, the Bible is universal, absolute truth, and God’s ways will always be higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9).

Spend a few minutes today meditating on today’s proverb and the advice King David gave to his son Solomon. Make application to your life and the lives of your children:

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy:

Before we complete our time of studying serving Jesus by serving others, let’s detour tonight to another passage that teaches us the concept of selflessness and sharing our bounty with others. We call this account the parable of The Rich Fool. Read or tell it to your children from Luke 12:15-21.

  1. A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses. Challenge your kids to think of the richest (in material wealth) person they know. Then ask them to think about it and see if this person is the happiest one they know. Draw from this exercise that happiness in life is not in wealth.
  2. Now read the paragraph from Scripture again in which the rich man thinks about what he will do with his goods. Have them count how many times he uses the pronoun I. Is this man a self-centered man? Do we know anyone, or can we think of anyone in a story, who focuses on themselves?  (Maybe they might think of  someone like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast or the Wicked Queen in Snow White.) Is this the kind of person we’d love to be around? Is this person really happy?
  3. Make sure your children know what happens to all our material possessions when we die. Have older  children find the question Jesus asked about these material things upon a man’s death (from the passage in Luke 12).
  4. Have a conversation with any small children about what Jesus taught about sharing from this passage. Is he pleased when we want to keep everything for ourselves while others around us need or want things we could give them?
  5. See if your children can remember people in the Bible who were great at sharing. They might think of many among which may be these: Abraham shared with Lot (Genesis 13), Joseph shared with his brothers (Genesis 42:25), Boaz shared with Ruth (Ruth 2), the widow of Zarephath shared with Elijah (1 Kings 17), the Shunemite woman shared with Elisha (2 Kings 4), the little boy shared the five loaves and two fishes (John 6). If you have more than one child thinking, make it a little contest to see who can list the most “sharing” stories in the Bible. (Little prizes are great at any age)
  6. Finally, read to your children the Aesop fable “A Dog and His Bone.” You can find this in many places online. Here’s one: How was the dog like the rich fool? Elicit from your kids that, in both cases, the prized possession was gone at the end, because of selfishness. Make sure you note that Aesop was just illustrating a truth taught by Jesus and the Word of God…that all truth about right and wrong comes from God.
  7. Pray with your kids.


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: This Takes the Cake (…or Pudding).

I was at a meal in another city. The food was being served to the grieving family following a funeral (Yes. we do  those in the South), when someone told me that the banana pudding on the dessert table was “the best in the world.” No one has to tell me that twice. So there I was in that line before you could say “that’ll be 50 Weight Watcher points.” 

When I finally made it to that bowl of banana pudding that obviously was not your Cool Whip and Vanilla Wafer variety, but really probably was the best in the world, this woman came rushing up behind me, saying in her “outside” voice, “Hurry Fred! She’s gonna’ get it all.” Then she continued, to no one at all, but still in her “outside” voice “There’s got to be two more servings to come from that bowl.” 

Now, I have been in some situations in which people were…well, rude, but I believe this one takes the cake  (or the pudding, in her case). 

This was rude because: 

  1. I had just as much right to a spoonful of that banana pudding as she did ( more, really, because I was in front of her in that line.)
  2. Who was going to even enjoy the “best banana pudding in the world” if your blood pressure was going up to 180/92 BEFORE you even ingest the sugar? 
  3. Such concern for a serving of pudding when people all around you have just walked away from a newly made grave is something of which I didn’t even know civilized people were capable. 
  4. Fred was surely embarrassed. Wouldn’t you be? 
  5. It was child-like selfishness and “me-firstness” to the max. 

I do not know this person. Perhaps she does not have all of her wits. Perhaps she doesn’t have the food she needs now or maybe she went hungry as a child. I did feel sad for her. But several passages came to my mind…

“Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s well-being” (I Corinthians 10:24).

“Many that are first shall be last and the last shall be first” (Mark 10:31). 

“…Forbearing one another in love…” (Ephesians 4:3).

“As you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).

And then there’s this. It’s not exactly, word for word, in the Bible, but I think it applies: 

“Whosoever would be chief among you, let her have your serving.” 


Have You Pity-Partied Lately?

Have you any friends who are party animals? I mean pity party animals?  I do, and I love them, but they are not very much fun.  They always get the raw end of every deal, the short end of every stick, and nobody, but nobody understands their plights. If it’s raining, they’re depressed. If it’s sunny, they’re  sweaty. Either no one pays attention to them or people just won’t leave them alone. They just have perpetual gloom, despair and misery regardless of the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Why do we have pity parties?  Why do we allow the circumstances of this life to impede our progress toward the next?  Let me offer a few reasons. Perhaps these can help us to be prepared for pity party invitations and just RSVP in the negative every time. There is always something better on the agenda!
1. Sometimes we forget that we are not alone.
Our God is described as the ever present source of strength (Psa. 46:1) and He has promised that he will never leave or forsake us (Heb.13:5). The never of this passage is actually a double negative word adding emphasis to the assurance of His presence.
2. Sometimes we forget that Christians see in 3-D.
Having worked extensively with a group of ladies who are newly converted to Christianity, I have observed that it’s very difficult for them to correct the one-dimensional vision that characterizes worldliness. The focus of their existence has always been on themselves. Every decision has been based on “What’s in it for me?”  This inward obsession is simply and sadly characteristic of our society. To begin to have an upward focus and really care about what God thinks is a challenge for ladies coming out of the world.  Then to develop an outward focus, noticing and responding to the needs of others is just a whole new dimension of vision that the new Christian must really work to maintain. Symptoms of the problem are evident. A new Christians may think the fellowship meals are for her, never stopping to think to prepare food and bring it to an activity. A new Christian may have a different problem she wants you to help resolve each time she sees you at a worship service while she may rarely express interest in the problems of others or take the time to pray for them. She may tell you how busy she is and how little time she has for activities of the church, listing all of her job demands, sports activities and hobbies, never even thinking that those who are faithful and involved have tough schedules every week as well.  She may expect to be visited or called, without once thinking of visiting someone herself.
But these ladies are babies in the faith. We must remember that babies are all about themselves.  All of us who are moms understand that babies are not thoughtful of the needs of others. The focus is definitely inward. But for those of us who have been Christians for years the focus should no longer be one-dimensional. Stopping the self- absorption and becoming absorbed in the Word and in fervent, practical prayer has the ironic effect of self-fulfillment.  Likewise, when we see and minister to the desperate needs of the people around us, we ourselves are lifted up. We begin to be great when we begin to serve (Mt. 23:11).
3. Sometimes we stop walking and have a seat.
Idleness is the devil’s workshop.  Sometimes I see widows who go home from the funeral, close the door and just resolve to never be happy again. Other times I see widows who, for a very long time, have been unable to do much else besides care for an invalid husband. But once the long hours of caretaking are over, these godly women immerse themselves in programs of the church, ministry to the needy and the development of godly friendships.  These widows are some of the happiest Christians I know.
I remember when I was in my thirties (you know a couple of years ago), I had a dear friend named Annie. I was amazed at what Annie could accomplish for the Lord. She visited several nursing homes weekly, carrying little goody baskets to several patients. She had a tiny gift for every single child of the congregation at each holiday. (She was the Dollar Tree Queen!) Her four and five’s classroom was amazing as her husband lugged a big box of visuals and activities every Sunday and Wednesday night. She remembered birthdays and anniversaries and took the time to keep children when their parents were sick or just needed a little time away. She brought computer-made banners to the building for us all to sign so they could be posted in a lonely hospital or dorm room. She prepared welcome signs and goody baskets for the hotel rooms of our visiting preachers and teachers. In short, she was “ready to every good work (Tit. 3:1). I think some people thought Annie was just a great person with lots of spare time to do great stuff for other people. Annie was, in truth, a cancer patient, having already had several surgeries with several more to come. She was raising a child with a disability, caring for a mother-in-law who was in poor health, and struggling with severe back problems. I actually remember her attending our Wednesday night ladies class and lying in the back of the classroom on a table because sitting in a chair was both painful and harmful to her back. Annie simply chose not to stop and sit down when life hurt. She chose to keep walking toward heaven.  It was her choice not to have a pity party!
4. Sometimes we forget who fills our tank.  Sometimes when I am driving a long distance, I am frustrated because I have to stop and pump gas. I hate to pump gas. I especially hate to pump gas at night. I abhor pumping gas at night when the price of gas is three times what I paid only two years ago. I can get in a bad slump over pumping gas. When I do start feeling frustration at the pump, it only takes me a minute to think about the primary reason this frustration builds. It’s because pumping gas is a pretty rare occurrence for me. See, I have a husband who will go out of his way to pump my gas for me under normal circumstances. It’s only when I travel alone that I am forced to deal with the bite of the chilling air, the smell of gas on my fingers and the pinch of the price gouge. 

Naomi in the book of Ruth said, “God hath sent me out full and brought me home again empty.”  It is true that Naomi had experienced devastating losses while she was away from home. But she, like so many of us today, was quick to blame God for the losses while failing to credit Him with the sustenance, strength, and even the lessons that come with trials. She could have used a quick lesson from the book of Job .

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

5. Sometimes we like to broadcast the problems and keep the blessings a big secret.
Listen to Naomi’s homecoming statement in full:

But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20,21)

She said, “Don’t call me by my old name. I would like to be called ‘Bitter’.”
She said, “God treated me very bitterly.”
She said, “God emptied me.”
She said, “God testified against me.”
She said, “God afflicted me.”
I believe Naomi had thought ahead about this little speech. I believe she was ready to get a few things off her chest when she got back to her family and friends. Perhaps it was not the first time she had delivered it. But the indictment of the Almighty God, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift (Jas. 1:17), was a pity party theme that borders on blasphemy. (Thankfully, the party was brief and she soon had an outward focus once again.) Broadcasting our problems in a spirit of bitterness serves to feed that spirit. It is a call for reinforcements for all that is negative in our lives.  Sometimes Mom’s words, “If you can’t say something positive, then don’t say anything at all,” make a lot of sense.

*(Much of this material taken from Women of Troubled Times, by Cindy Colley, Publishing Designs, Huntsville, AL.)