Browsing Tag

Thanksgiving

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Think Thankfulness. Think Souls.

While I’m certainly always on the bargain bandwagon, it does make me a little sad that many people I know are all about “two more days till Black Friday” instead of how much we have for which to be thankful. I get it, though.  It’s an American business phenomenon that’s even become part of a bigger holiday family tradition for lots of turkey-stuffed families and I can’t unduly criticize that kind of frugal fun; especially if the frugal fun includes a shopping list for those who find themselves suddenly without work, without shopping funds, without family members or without health this holiday season.  I know plenty of Christians who are constantly on the ready to help in these situations at holiday time and at all times of every year. I stand amazed at the family of God in times of crisis and hopelessness and I’m blessed by witnessing service by the second, third and fourth-mile-servants among us. 

I hope you have someone for whom you plan to do something out of the ordinary this holiday season. I hope each avenue of giving  to which you’ve committed has a soul (or more) as the bottom line; at least indirectly, if not directly.  For some of you, it’s a family member who needs lots of extra time and attention this year…someone who is just trying to make it till heaven is home. For some, it’s a teaching school or organization that ministers to souls and stands in need of funding to complete a mission.  For some, it’s a co-worker who has just found out her position is part of a downsizing elimination. You know that she may be open to the gospel at a time of her realization of dependence on God.  For some, it’s a child who is part of a school holiday meals program. All of those young souls are innocent and need to be reached. Sometimes filling hungry stomachs in our communities can put the name of the Lord’s church in places where that kind of recognition opens evangelistic doors.  For others, it may be a hard-working student in need of tuition funding to complete a degree in preaching or ministry. 

If you don’t have a plan yet, I hope you’ll remember the godly family who’s trying to adopt the five little embryos that have currently been saved in the freezer. This particular work is a pretty direct line to evangelism. While I did not identify them (and I will not, for the security of the children), I know them and I know that their provisions for these children (all of whom may live to birth and beyond) will be everything that godly parents can provide and I know that spiritual provision for eternity will be the most important focus of their parenting. Further, I’m certain they are only needing and allowing me to ask for a small portion of the cost of embryo adoption and implantation, most of which has been donated by a few other Christian families or they have worked to save themselves. They are hard workers, both in their profession and in their congregation of the Lord’s church. Children who grow up in their home will be blessed.  You can read about them here: https://thecolleyhouse.org/practical-pure-religion-your-chance-to-help

And if you can help, any small amount is a bit of sacrifice to God’s work in little souls that you can feel good about—confident in the impending lifetime work of getting them to God’s throne. The small  “two talents”  you’re able to give just may turn into four (or more) if invested here.  At least you will know you invested instead of burying (Mt. 25:14-30)! 

Happy Thanksgiving and happy shopping, too. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

November: Thinking of Thanking

In the month when many are counting blessings, Christians have the longest lists; the bounty that others can’t approach. In fact, those who do not know Christ cannot even know that they don’t know how to be truly thankful. Let’s take a minute to look at the first chapters of one Old Testament book and one New Testament book as we contemplate gratitude as a starting point to holiness and, conversely, ingratitude as the genesis of immorality.

The first four chapters of Isaiah are anything but complimentary of the nation of Judah. In fact they are an indictment from the Lord; an indictment the likes of which rivals any of the arraigning passages of scripture. As I read Isaiah one yesterday, I could not help but be reminded of the New Testament condemnation of the heathen people found in Romans chapter one. I think it very interesting and relevant to America today that the dire state of both cultures began with the sin of ingratitude:

The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider (Is. 1:3).

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful… (Rom.1:21a).

It’s interesting, also, that when a recognition of the Source of good gifts and, thus, a glorification of that Source was missing, all sorts of vile behaviors and the acceptance of resultant atrocities became commonplace.

If you look, you can find that both cultures were characterized by those who were hypocritical, those who were unmerciful to the needy, those who were murderers and those who were idolaters. Today’s challenge is to locate these sins in Isaiah one and in Romans one. Also, notice the punishment promised in the last verse of each of the passages. It’s almost as if the two passages had the same Author!

Finally, as you contemplate these two cultures, separated by hundreds of years and by a big body of water, and yet so very much alike, contemplate one more culture: your own.

I was recently engaged in conversation with a woman who expressed to me her excitement that soon she would be able to quit her job. I was excited for her, but then she went on to explain that if she lowered her income to a certain level, then her rent would be paid by the government. With the extra money she would “make” by not having to pay rent and by collecting unemployment (if she could swing that), she would be able to pay her bills. In lowering her income, she would also lower her grocery bill, because she would be able to get government food stamps. Another woman recently became very angry at me when I told her that our congregation wished to apply a large amount of money to a medical debt she owed. The reason for her anger?…she thought she “deserved” to be given the cash to use as she saw fit.

It occurs to me that there is a large segment of our society that has adopted the “I deserve” mentality rather than the “I appreciate” mentality. People who choose not to work are among those who protest against the government and society for what they would call the “uneven distribution of funds,” thus biting the very hand that feeds them. (Is it any wonder when we look at Isaiah one and Romans one, that these protests are problematic, to say the least, because of violence and sex crimes?) School textbooks include large sections about the cultural celebration we know as Thanksgiving without making mention of the divine blessing Source that is the Benefactor of all. People throw around the word “right” as if it applies to every desire that pops into human consciousness: healthcare, privacy, home-ownership, insurance, even heaven. Girlfriends, some things that we enjoy are simply undeserved blessings!

Further, some people have even come to think about sin as a deserved privilege: the “right” to choose to kill my pre-born baby, the “right” to be happy and thus divorce my mate, the “right” to kill myself or my spouse if I/she grow(s) old or become(s) debilitated. One father even told his elders recently that his daughter “deserves to go to the prom”!

What we deserve is described in the last verse of each of these chapters:

And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them (Is. 1:31).

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Romans 1:32).

May we always acknowledge with the deepest possible human gratitude our allegiance to the plans and our awe at the power of the Giver of all good gifts. May we never forget our permanent status before Him of being undeserving of these gifts. It is only with gratitude in our hearts that we can avoid what comes, in these two chapters, between ingratitude and eternal death: hypocrisy, a lack of mercy, all manner of vile behaviors (including murder), and, at last, the making and worship of our own idols in place of the God who can deliver us from death.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: From Thankfulness to Holiness

Often we think of the first chapter of Romans, remembering the fervent denouncement of those involved in what is there called “unnatural” and termed “vile affection.” It is extremely important in a world in which tolerance seems to have been been promoted to the position of executive and operative virtue of society, to be aware of the concluding verse of the chapter. It is the verse that, quite literally, is slicing our culture in half. The verse is clear that it is not enough to refrain from committing homosexual acts. As his people we must never lend our voices to defend such behavior or to show our approval. On the subject of homosexuality, we have to choose between cultural correctness and the word of God. We have to be sure that, neither with silence, nor with words or actions, do we ever indicate approval of the sin of homosexuality. We do not laugh at it in sit-coms, allow it to occur in our homes when others visit, or fail to respectfully express the truth about God’s condemnation of it in our blogs, posts, and conversations. 

But today, as I was reading from the chapter, I noticed that the Scripture details the progression of the trip from innocence to the guilt of homosexuality. In verse 21, it says that those who were changing the “natural” into that which is against nature, failed to glorify God and failed to offer Him thanksgiving.

Moms, how important is it that you and I chart a clear course of thanksgiving in our homes? How important is it that we make sure our children hear us, in abject humility, pour out our praises to God? How vital is it that we have them to make those lists of blessings at Thanksgiving time and, more importantly, all throughout the year…every year? How important, really are crayon colored thank-you notes written in the hand of young children? How important is that never-missed heartfelt table prayer prior to every meal? How important is it that parents control the impulses of instant gratification that are accompanied by little acknowledgement of His providence and of our resultant responsibility to use blessings for His glory?  How vital is it that you, Mom, are displaying constant thankfulness rather than constant complaining about the simple circumstances and problems of this life? Does gratitude matter?

The answer is yes and yes a thousand times over. Romans one clearly details a progression from unthankfulness to unholiness; from the heart of ingratitude to insolence. in fact, in this passage,  it is the failure to glorify and give thanks that predicates the sin of homosexuality. 

Moms have a wonderful opportunity to exhibit and promote a spirit of thanksgiving on this national holiday. But, then again, on which day of the year do we not have a rich harvest of His blessings for which our children should see us praising and thanking the One from whom all blessings flow? 

Our kids might eventually choose to live unholy lives to their eternal loss. Those words are difficult for me to even type. The thought of the loss of one of my children’s souls is more horrible than I can contemplate for very long. The specific possibility that one of my children would ever come to us and tell us that he/she had chosen a life of homosexuality or bisexual behavior is unspeakably grievous. But to look back and realize that I had contributed to a spirit of rebellion by failing to take opportunities to instill gratitude during their formative years would fill me with sorrow. 

Take the time. Look for His glory in all of your world each day. Magnify Him when you see Him in nature, in providence and in specific answers to prayers. Do this in front of your children. Engage them in thanksgiving every time you are in prayer together. Make thank-you notes a weekly or even daily part of your home’s core “curriculum”.  The ‘gratitude chambers” of your kids’ hearts may not be automatically opened in our affluent culture of self-gratification. So make sure  you are putting thanksgiving in those places of their hearts, remembering, as you do, that you are building a resistance against sins of rebellion that are death-worthy (Romans 1:32). 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Thanksgiving: My Sin Is Not in the Deal

thanksgiving_110006174-012814-intIt’s Thanksgiving Day as you read. I hope it is the beginning of a holiday season that will bless your heart with warm memories for many years. For some, though, the holidays will bring painful memories of abuse or loss of a loved one or long days of mental torture or longer nights of physical pain. Even with the challenges that come to all people in a fallen world, the church of God, the redeemed, have constant cause for joy and thanksgiving. We are gathered around his banquet table every day of every year as we walk in His light.

Psalm 103 is a great place to go on this Thanksgiving week to be reminded of the depth of the Lord’s mercies on His spiritual Israel. Here is David’s list of the blessings, from that chapter, showered by the Father on the Old Testament nation. How many of these are just as real to the church, the people of God, today? I challenge you to go down this list and check off the ones that are applicable to you, personally. How many of these are very real and tangible in your own life in 2016? As I made this list, I realized, at once, the inconceivable nature of His blessings and my own worthlessness. There is some realm or area of my life and of His mercies in which I can check off each one! Here’s the list:

  • Forgiveness of iniquities
  • Healing of diseases
  • Redemption from destruction
  • A crown of lovingkindness and mercy
  • A mouth satisfied with good things
  • Renewed youth
  • Execution of judgement for oppressed
  • Ways made know to Moses
  • Acts made known to Israel
  • Mercy
  • Grace
  • Slowness to anger
  • Dealing NOT according to sins
  • Removal far from transgressions
  • Pity like a Father
  • Remembrance that we are dust
  • Everlasting mercy
  • Righteousness to grandchildren
  • A prepared throne
  • A kingdom that rules
  • Angels that excel in strength

I love to contemplate every one of these. But the one I love the most is that He deals not with people (me) according to their sins. There are no words for the gratitude that swells in me when I understand that he will not treat me as I deserve to be treated. He will look on me and not see sin in its blackness. He will reach to me and not touch the filth of sin. He will listen to me and never hear the wretched voice of sin that anguishes in my pleas. He will savor the sweet smell of my worship and not smell the stench of guilt. Surely if David could extol His mercies and claim his deliverance in the days of animal sacrifices, how much more can I bask in the blessings of forgiveness; living, as His child in the shadow of the cross! “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name” (Psalm 103:1)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

7 Pounds of His Grace

13912431_928723135739_3489667227565621351_nDear Father, 

I already knew that You are God, Yahweh, the Great I AM. I am the one who speaks and writes and cries about life in the womb because of the holocaust against it in America today. I should say that I am ONE of the ones, for there are still many and we are unwilling to give up the battle for life to those who routinely burn with saline, rip apart, vacuum out and discard those viable body parts, suffocating those screams before  tiny mouths can open to the air that allows them to cry out for themselves. I am not about quietness when I can be a voice for those whose beating hearts are stopped in brutal and painful ways. 

But, today, Lord, I knew more than ever that Your throne of grace and majesty extends into the darkness of the womb. Help me never to forget what I saw today. I know that You have pushed the pause button on the miraculous, but this morning in that doctor’s office in Montgomery was just about as close to a miracle as I will get before Your mighty trumpet blows. 

My little girl’s little girl was there, as big as life, on that screen. In fact, it was the tiny epitome of life. They told us that she weighs seven pounds and four ounces already and her chubby cheeks evidenced that she’s big and healthy.  Lord, I cannot believe that I saw so clearly that right cheek turn to the side. I’m remembering now that you told us to have cheeks that turn. I pray that she will. It will be painful for me if I ever have to witness her cheek being smitten; yet I know she will experience hurt and people will mistreat her. Help her to turn the other cheek—to show mercy in exchange for cruelty. Help her never to be self-centered or to seek for glory. Help her to defer to the preferences of others. Help me to show her the beauty that comes from a meek spirit.

I saw her little hands in her mouth. It’s tight in there now and she’s just all balled up with her hands against her cheeks and against those tiny lips. Lord, they are Your hands. Those fingers will play instruments or hold a baseball bat or a needle and thread. They will turn pages in all kinds of books. They will turn pages in Your book, Lord. One day some handsome boy will put a ring on that chubby finger that I saw today and her daddy will give that hand in marriage to him. Those sweet hands will roll out dough and pat curly tresses and pick up cheerios and mend socks and fold clothes.  I pray that those little fingers will minister for You, Lord; that they will feel burning foreheads and administer Tylenol…that they will hold other hands beside hospital beds and nursing home rockers…that they will change diapers…that they will change lives by opening up Your Word in Bible studies. May those hands hold Yours. May they be daily folded in prayer and reaching to fill needs. 

I saw that tiny heel that Hannah has been feeling—-that even I can feel— as she kicks against the taut skin on Hannah’s right side. I could count the toes and see that little foot so very clearly. Lord, You made that little extremity so perfectly! May her spiritual feet be just as beautiful. May her feet carry the gospel of peace to the souls around her for all of her days. Help us, as her family, to train her to walk—to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. May we never take it for granted that she will, but help us Lord to be purposeful for the footsteps of her and her brother, Ezra. The devil is purposeful. He is seeking to devour. On some days it seems like he is making it next to impossible for parents to direct the footsteps of little ones in Your ways. But we can do all things through Your Son. May even we, as grandparents, profoundly impact her footsteps to stay in Your narrow way that leads to life. 

She heard me, Father! That little girl responded to my voice. I knew because when I spoke she turned her head toward me and she opened her eyes wide in response! This is the part I could not believe. I said, “She’s hearing me!” The technician responded “Of course, she is!”  So I told her right there that I loved her. I called her “Sweetness” since I do not know her name, and I told her about You, Lord. I just could not help myself. I made her promises. I made them out loud and  I will keep them. I told her I will teach her about Jesus, Your Son, and that I will teach her Your Word. I told her that we love her so much and that we cannot wait to tell her about You! I sang a bit of “Baby Mine” to her and I was overwhelmed at that moment with Your goodness to me. I am just dust, Lord! How can I thank You for a moment like that?! When I was driving those four hours to arrive in time for that ultra-sound after getting those three hours of sleep last night, I have to admit it. My faith was weak. I thought I would see an unrecognizable bit of blur. I saw YOU there, Father, and I will never forget Your grace in letting me see, in her, Your amazing creative power and unrivaled attention to detail. I stand amazed in Your holy presence!

And then, as she turned to look toward us, searching for the sounds, she opened that huge eye as wide as she could, as if to say, “Where ARE you?” And, in that moment, I fell helplessly in love with that little girl…just hopelessly and forever devoted to her well-being. Father, help me, to show her the goodness in this world; the hope that’s still left in this place. Help those beautiful eyes to sparkle and shine and to shed few tears of sorrow.  But most of all, help us to show her the hope and peace that comes from living for You. Help those gentle eyes to witness, with wonder and awe, the pictures and characters in little Bible story books. Help them to record the righteous examples of service around her. Guard her tender eyes from those things that can trap her at an early age. Give her maturity and resolve before the toughest tactics of Satan catch her eyes. As she grows, give her eyes to search for those who may be willing to listen to the gospel, the message of Your salvation. Open her eyes that  they may see those whose needs may really be doors to evangelism. Lord keep her eyes focused heavenward. 

Reflecting back on this day, I can hardly believe You let me do this. Your Words are true: She IS fearfully and wonderfully made! My only sadness is that her grandfather is preaching Your gospel in Kentucky this week and there is no way I can adequately describe this heart-swell to someone who was not in that room!  Help us Lord, her parents and grandparents. If all is as it seems, You are giving her to us in perfect condition. May we work as a team, Father, to give her back to You, through the gift of Your Son, in that same perfect condition. Father, thank-You for today. I cannot wait  to hold her, fresh from Your hands. I cannot wait for her to see my face and to start learning just how much I love her. But, most of all, I can’t wait to show her You and just how much YOU love her. I want her to see Your face!