Browsing Tag

Sin

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Taliban Needs Jesus

Caleb, our son, and his wife, Bekah, were talking about the Taliban shooting Americans at the airport. Maggie (3 years old) overheard and was asking questions about what happened. They just told her that “There were some bad people who were trying to hurt other people. But they were far away, and we don’t know them.” She said: “But Jesus doesn’t want them to hurt other people. Couldn’t we go tell them about Jesus? If we did though, they might just fly away…”

Such profundity often comes from three-year-old minds. Sometimes I wish we could cut to the chase in our assessments with the trusting world view of the little ones who believe in Him. She reflected some very powerful truths in that little overview of the Kabul crisis:

1. Jesus doesn’t want us to hurt people. Whatever course I am pursuing that is vindictive and hurtful, I should remember that I hurt Jesus when I hurt others (Matthew 25).

2. Couldn’t we go tell them about Jesus? Telling all the “thems” about Jesus is the answer to the gravest ills of our world. I should never stop telling, even when the devil tries to intimidate me with sin all around me, I have to just keep telling. Every opportunity cannot solve the problems of the whole world, but every opportunity, potentially, could take the burdens of the world from one.

3. If  we did, though, they might just fly away. I am sure Mags was thinking about what she’d overheard about the airport, but there’s a sobering reality  that the greatest and most sacrificial gift that’s ever been purchased for me may be the one I refuse to accept. I don’t want to be among those who have rejected the gift when the time comes for “flying away.”

 

So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:49,50).

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Digging Deep…for the Comfort of It. (Read to the end, if you are a finisher.)

Fear refocuses itself in our world at an alarming frequency. This week, world fear is focused in Kabul, Afghanistan where Taliban terrorists have violently taken over the country. I’m praying for those in imminent danger there. I can watch the news and I can watch my own life and realize that the very most painful carnage always comes as a result of sin. I’m so thankful, in times like these, that my God is a God of the events that have huge worldwide implications (like the Taliban takeover), but He is also the God that knows and works through the individual hurts of His people. While he knows about every piercing of flesh in Kabul, he also knows about every pierced heart in your family and mine. And He cares. I love passages about the least of these. I love that He said that He is aware of the little and “unimportant” ones who believe in Him. In fact he said to the one who would harm those little ones that it would be better for a millstone to be hung around his neck and he be cast into the sea. I love that he said in Matthew 18 that if just one of a hundred sheep had gone astray, He would go and search for that little lamb and rejoice over Him more than over the ninety-nine sheep still grazing under the care of shepherds on the mountain. I’m so thankful He is the God of the little ones and of the one percent, because I am the little one in need. I am the .01!

It is interesting that sandwiched in between the words of Jesus about taking care that we not offend a little one in Matthew 18,  Jesus strongly stated that whatever it is that is doing the offending of our souls and the souls of the “little ones” should be severed and cast from us in order to save our souls from hell. Jesus actually says here that the “suffering,” if required, of amputating a limb or losing an eye for the sake of doing right is better than the eternal carnage of sin. Take a moment to contextualize:

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Do you see the sandwich? God (Jesus)  is saying here that whatever it is, whatever the cost, whatever the personal pain, it is always worth it to rid ourselves of sin rather than to allow sin to hurt others. Like all of you, I’m very weary of the carnage always left in the path of sin. (I am always most hurt when the sin is my own.) It doesn’t take a Kabul-sized invasion of sin for real pain to occur because of sin. It happens all the time in families and churches in which those who are precious to God (little ones who believe in Him) are hurt by sin in the lives of others. Selfish children do it to godly parents. Selfish parents do it to innocent children. Spouses do it to hurting spouses. Brother and sisters do it to brothers and sisters. I learned many years ago that the hurt and damage of sin is the worst pain of this lifetime. It has held true throughout the years. Nothing compares.

The Digging Deep reveal will be Monday (8/23) at 2 pm. It will be happening from the PTP Spark at West Huntsville church of Christ. I hope you can be there or watch live: https://livestream.com/whcoc/for-women While I’ll wait to reveal the topic, let me say this: If you know someone who is hurting, I hope you can invite her to study along this year. There are large doses of lasting comfort in the passages we will explore together this year. Many of you have discussed with me some pretty large spiritual lesions in your life to which you could apply some spiritual comfort. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3,4…and I love that passage that has the word “comfort” in it five times!). I hope you can join us for this, my favorite so far (but I always say that) year-long study. This is real Bible study. It is not superficial.  It’s deep and it is full of comfort. It is, indeed, personal Bible study!

If you completed the study of The Ten (every single lesson, every single question, every single Bible reading, every single Practically Speaking and every single podcast (Dig-a-bit OR video podcast) send me an email with your name and mailing address at Byhcontest@gmail.com. I want to acknowledge you at the reveal. I cannot acknowledge those who send me other forms of communication, so please send to this email address. I’m working on a little surprise to send to you all. But it may be a few days after SPARK before I have them done. I’m a little overwhelmed this year! I love all of your hearts. You encourage and comfort me!

Also, the other two DD lessons from Spark will be live-streamed from the same spot. So the three of them are next Monday at 9 and 2 and next Tuesday at 9. I hope you are there and invite others. None of these lessons are great for us because they are coming from me, because they are not. The Holy Spirit just speaks with power and comfort. (That’s why He is called the Comforter in the KJV and ASV and others [Jn 15]. It’s an apt rendering of parakletos.)

Finally the Sunday and evening lessons from SPARK will be live-streamed from our regular location: www.westhuntsville.org. That’s seven amazing lessons from SPARK directly to your home (ten if you add the daytime DD lessons). I hope you will be there with us. If I can help you follow the Lord in any way, I would love that. We won’t ever do it perfectly, but we can walk in the light together and the blood will just keep on cleansing us (1 Jn 1:7).

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

A Grandmother’s Recurring Nightmare… (This time it’s Blue’s Clues)


I really do wonder where this will end. Then I sit back and consider that I actually know where it will end. Words are the vehicle of expressed thought and I know I will have arrived at the end destination when I can hear these: “Come ye blessed of my father. Enter into the joys of your Lord.”  In the meantime, though, there are some recurring and growing concerns I have about the navigation of my grandchildren to the end destination. There are some extremely wicked forces that are trying to divide and distract God’s people. They are constantly trying to make my grandchildren swallow the lie that they are oppressors simply because of their skin color and, on the other hand, they are trying to convince some of your dark-skinned grandchildren that they are necessarily oppressed just because of their darker skin. And we forget we are sisters.

The devil uses our awful time of distraction by unnecessary  division to cause us to ignore the REAL enemy. We listen to the culture and  forget who is ecstatic when God’s people become divided. He’s Satan and he is willing to use the most vile techniques and weapons to attack the most vulnerable BEFORE they can even understand the battle arena. 

Take, for instance, the weapon that’s in our faces this month. It is unconscionable that YouTube for kids is using the formerly innocent BLUE’S CLUES cartoon to put what God called abomination into the minds of our two-year-olds: Take a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4vHegf3WPU

The shock factor, for me, of such blatant lies from hell, itself, being shared with innocent children by the hundreds of thousands around our land, never abates. I just have a very difficult time fathoming that we are really to this point. I showed the video to my husband and said “What can we do?” He said, “The devil wants people to believe the ship has sailed. He wants Christians to think there is nothing we can do. But we have to keep warning godly parents. We have to keep saying truth.” 

I believe we also must understand that distractions and divisions break down our armor against the devil. We must love each other, in the body of Christ. We must prefer each other. We must give one another the benefit of the doubt when motives are called into question. We must throw off the narratives in our society that convince us that we are persecutors of one another or that we are persecuted by one another. As God’s people, we should look outside the body to the REAL persecution that’s assaulting the faith of our kids. We should unite in our opposition to what the devil is trying to do to our children. And we should fight against all forces that are aligned with promotion of the acceptance of what God calls sin, even if they are masked by titles which state facts that we believe like “Black Lives Matter.” Of course black lives matter. Of course of all of God’s children believe that obvious statement. But we must be very careful to not let the world steal the truths, principles and symbols from God’s Word—black lives matter, the rainbow, love wins, etc… to deceive us,  to distract us, as HIs people, from our mission of soul-winning. And some of the souls we have to protect from division and distraction are those of our children and grandchildren. 

When the devil is planting vile affection though Blue’s Clues cartoons, we know he is stooping to new lows in America. We’d better unite as sisters (moms) in Christ and identify the real persecutors—the real enemy. Let’s be careful not to allow the world’s agenda to divide us, as His people. There’s a real enemy out there and it’s not your brothers and sisters of different skin colors. He’s busy. He’s creative. He wants the most vulnerable of our tribe. Oppression is a real thing and the devil is all about it. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Opposite Directions

 

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Today I’m traveling south and east to get my arms around some pretty sweet grandchildren, one of which is just under two weeks old. Since tomorrow night’s the podcast and I’ll be doing it live and remotely from a distant location I feel like I’m almost moving mountains to make this trip. 

We are the sandwich generation, so my husband is traveling west and north to do some much needed tasks for elderly parents. He’s moving mountains, too (or at least trying to) after a very long time of their inaccessibility to groceries (and almost everything else) because of extreme cold and ice coverage in their area. 

So last night after worship, we parted, Glenn and I, and began making miles in the exact opposite directions from one another to give hugs to people we love who are at the exact opposites of the spectrum of life. For a good bit of this week, we will be about 12 hours apart from one another. 

When God says he removes my sins and casts them from me as far as the east is from the west, that’s profound. I move, in human increments, as best I can, TOWARD God and my sins are moved in divinely amazing proportions BY God to a far away and irretrievable place in the opposite direction of the one in which I am moving. 

Earlier in the day yesterday, I had a chance to study with a young woman I’m growing to love very much. She asked me about her sins. “When God forgives me, is it impossible for me to ever be lost again? Am I permanently saved?” We went through passages that teach us what to do about sin after the original east-west casting done by God. We talked about Bible characters who did sin impenitently and rebelliously after baptism and what was required for their restoration and subsequent salvation. But we also talked about the continual comfort of 1 John 1:7 for those baptized believers who are walking in the light (doing diligence to be followers of Christ: 

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

I explained to her how that the word for “cleansing” here is a verb of continuation. It means “keeps on cleansing.” She got that and she loved it. 

I asked her if she had other questions about the gospel she’s learned in recent days. She said 

“Yes, I have one more….Like, how can I be baptized…because I know I need to.” 

I asked her to explain to me her reasons for wanting to be baptized. She had a little list in her heart. 

“To be born again, to be dead to sin, to be washed from sin, to be saved.” 

I spent the night (or part of it anyway) in a hotel room near Atlanta, Georgia. And I slept soundly with a very grateful heart for the waters of baptism that washed away my friend’s sins yesterday…that removed them from her, as far as the east is from the west. I spoke with three sisters at West Huntsville who are going to check on her while I’m in Florida this week. One of them already invited her to our local Digging Deep study which happens tonight. On this, her first full day of being a Christian, I am praying very hard for her. Yesterday was the best day of her life. But the devil loves to give big challenges to those who are babies in the Lord. 

I’m so glad we serve a God who can put sin wherever he wants it to be; and, barring my choice to be close to sin again, He can keep its guilt far, far away from me…as far as the east is from the west. 

I’m going to spend a few miles today praising Him for this game-changing reality!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #39: Proverbs 14:26–A Nation Exalted

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:  What Exalts a Nation

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:26).

Be impressed with the hard, cold fact of this statement. So long as this world stands, this will be true. Be reminded that Christianity is a world religion, not merely an American religion.  Our real success as a nation is in proportion to the degree to which we live according to the precepts of God’s Will. So many of the blacks and whites of right and wrong have turned to a sickening grey in the minds of citizens.  One doesn’t have far to look to find a politician who trades in debauchery, deceit, and compromised morality. People may turn a blind eye and elect him or her to whatever office he or she aspires.  We will do better as a nation–be exalted, lifted to a higher place– if we can strengthen voices against sin, as defined in the Bible, and if we can elect leaders who insist on a Biblically-framed virtue in all parts of our government.  

So far as I’m aware, only one U.S. President, James A. Garfield, was a member of the Lord’s church.  As we approach the next election, nothing would please me more for our government than if the executive, legislative and judicial branches were all filled with New Testament Christians; but that’s, of course, unrealistic.  What we must do this November, as in all our elections, is to choose leaders who will do the most to accommodate the cause of Christ in our land.  I’m surprised to have come to the point at which saying the following is realistic rather than a knee-jerk reaction, but it is not hard for me to imagine an America in which Christians are persecuted in ways similar to the ways our early Christian family was persecuted in the first century.  In the interest of my children and grandchildren and, obviously my family in the Lord, I’d like to delay that time as long as possible.  God has blessed us to live in a democracy, a republic, in which we have the vote and voice to choose our leaders.  We must take advantage of that gift and vote with the benefit of Christianity in mind.  May this be our chief motivation; not earthly issues that have no real bearing on the souls of citizens.  

Today, make time to step away from the political wrangling and hatred to lay the interests of our nation again at the feet of God.  Doesn’t He still work in the governments of men?  Don’t allow your heart to be driven by those things which won’t matter in eternity, but rather beg for His will to be done in our government. Then, use your influence, however small, for good.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:1-4).

 

Family Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy:

Tonight’s phrase from Matthew 25 is “I was a stranger and you took me in.”

This one’s a little more difficult to practically apply, especially during a pandemic. But you should try and make your children understand that, although we cannot house all of the people who might be traveling through our area, when we know of Christians who have a need for housing, we should be happy to offer our homes as places for them to stay and our tables as places for them to eat. Even if we know of non-Christians, who need a place, and they come to us recommended by fellow-Christians, we should be happy to use our homes in this service. There are lots of people in our West Huntsville family who routinely offer rooms at home, hotel rooms, meals in their homes and restaurant meals, cabins and couches, for people they’ve not ever even met before. The guests are gospel preachers who visit, people who are moving to our area, those who have temporary work in our area, and those who may be temporarily homeless. There are just many examples all around your children during times of normalcy (non-pandemic times). See if they can think of some and talk to them about how you want to make “our house” available for people, because that’s making it available for the Lord. It’s a serious setting in which the Lord instructed this.

Have big people pretend-call the teeny people on the phone and tell the teenies that they are needing a place to stay and sleep because they are on a journey. Have the teenies respond with “Sure, we have a place,” and let them arrange the blankets on the sofa and put a pillow there and bring a bag with a bar of soap and some toothpaste and a spare toothbrush and put it on the pillow along with a towel (and whatever else you have on hand that a guest could use). Have one of the visiting big people lie there for the rest of the story time, profusely thanking the little person.

Tell the story of 2 Kings 4: 8-17. Be sure your children can name the simple things that the woman of Shunem put in the room for the prophet. Make sure they can also tell you that when she did this she was serving the prophet, but she was, most importantly, serving God. She was helping the prophet  to be able to preach the Word of God. She was helping God to work on this earth. When we offer to house God’s people, we help God’s cause on this earth!

Have your children look around your home and give ideas about how rooms and provisions and appliances can be used to help God’s cause.

Pray with your children. Pray that you will be able to use your home for His glory. Pray specifically for each room, that you will find ways to use your kitchen to feed God’s people, that you will find ways to use the bedrooms to help His people rest, that you will use your living room as a place to share His Word, etc….

We will be a closer family if we are serious about hospitality.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #33: Proverbs 14:9–The Seriousness of Sin

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: Recognizing the Seriousness of Sin (Prov. 14:9)

Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.

Today’s proverb asserts a cold reality:  People who mock at sin are fools. 

Three verses after this one we get a glimpse of one reason this is true: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  For a man to follow his own way when God calls that way sin, is death.

Sin is no laughing matter.  All Christians feels a morality shift that has grown in our country for the last few decades and is now phenomenal in scope.  While there is much good in society and we’re thankful for our country, we just can’t believe that God-blessed-America has come to where she is home to rampant and blatant disrespect for God and His word. Jesus knew sin was serious:

“Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”

“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Matt. 18:7-9).

To mock sin is to mock God who decides and declares what is sinful.  Sin is against God.

No one successfully mocks God, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7).  We may live our lives mocking various ones and their laws—the laws of our parents, of school teachers, of employers, of the police;  but God’s law won’t be mocked.

Are you a Christian? Let the words of today’s proverb resonate in your heart and then consider three more verses on the subject of sin:  

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).

“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).

“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

Would you like to study what the Bible has to say about having your sins washed away?  Write me and we’ll talk.

Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy

Tonight, let’s wrap up our lessons about David and Bathsheba with a quiz game. We suggest a treasure map with questions and a real buried treasure if you have young children, a yard and a good place to bury. (This week, I buried [barely] a little doll and a couple of tiny stuffed animals, sealed in a zippy bag for my grandchildren out in our yard and you would have thought they had uncovered the Hope diamond with that little shovel!) In this game, as they successfully answer questions, they get new locations toward the treasure, until they reach the spot marked by the X. (Example, first if they get a correct answer, take the first taped arrow off the map. Underneath that arrow the map might say “Go outside the front door.”) Keep asking questions, alternating children for answers, and removing arrows off the map for instructions…”Go to the end of the sidewalk,” etc….Make sure you have at least ten arrows before you get to the X, where you have buried the treasure. Alternately, of course, you can play all sorts of other games with the questions. (A general rule for almost any game is that you have to answer before getting your turn or a point or a bullet for your Nerf war. =))

  1. Where was David when he first saw Bathsheba?
  2. What was Bathsheba doing when David first saw her?
  3. What was Bathsheba’s husband’s name?
  4. What did David take that did not belong to him?
  5. Who was David’s army captain?
  6. Who did not go home to his wife?
  7. Who was killed in the battle?
  8. Who was the prophet who came to David?
  9. What happened to the baby in the story?
  10. What was stolen in the story that Nathan told David?

Questions for the teeny people:

Who was the king?

Did the king always obey God?

Who blesses us when we do right?

What is true success?

What does it mean to steal something?

Is God pleased with stealing?

In what book do we read about David?

Who gave us the Bible?

Are people who disobey God really happy people?

What is God’s ideal for marriage?

 

Pray with your children.