Sister to Sister: Seriously?…Another Root Canal?!

imagesLast night as I traveled home from Bible study, a young friend sent me the question, “What if a person was baptized at a point in life when she really did not believe in God? Does that render her baptism invalid?…Now that she believes, does she need to be baptized again?”

This morning as I write, I’m headed to the endodontist’s office for a root canal. I wouldn’t hate it quite as much as I do except that I already HAD this root canal done a year-and-a-half ago. I mean I already did the dread, the drill, the cap, the pain, and the recuperation during the holidays of 2013. I spent New Year’s Eve in the chair. I remember. “Everything’s fixed now,” the dentist said. “You shouldn’t have any more problems.”

But I did. In fact the pain never totally went away. I kept telling myself “That ache you’re feeling back there is just residual.”…”Everybody probably feels pain for a while, right?”…”It’s probably just because you grind your teeth, Cindy Colley…You need to wear that retainer more faithfully.… That’s it. After all, you had a reputable dentist do a root canal and you have the cap back there (and the receipt for a big dental bill) to prove it.”

Oh but nothing doing. “It hardly ever happens,” my dentist explained, when I finally told him about the pain, “But every now and then, for some reason, that area below the tooth just gets reinfected and we have to drill back through the cap and get that infection out. I need to do an X-ray to see what’s going on in there.”

I knew that tooth wasn’t reinfected. Truth be told, that old infection never went away.

“Are you telling me I have to have ANOTHER root canal?” I stared at him, open-mouthed, as I heard his post Xray synopsis.

“Yes, that’s basically it….Only, this time, we have to drill through the cap to do it. I’ll have to send you to a specialist. Let me see if I can find one that takes your Blue Cross….And let me give you an antibiotic to help the swelling go down, so it will be easier to deaden your mouth.”

“That’s okay, I said…I’m already on antibiotics for bronchitis.”

So today, I’m headed to that specialist.

You see, everything looked good back there in the back of my mouth. Any dentist would have looked back there and said, “Oh, you’ve got a cap back there. Looks good.” It’s that Xray machine, though, that sees all the way through the flesh and bones…it’s that machine and that machine only that can reveal what’s going on way down deep. And, in my case, that wasn’t good. The infection that remained rendered the first root canal invalid. Today, I have to do it again. ARRRG!

That’s the way it is with our spiritual conditions. So a person goes under the water and rises again to the sound of Christians singing “Oh Happy Day.” She gets hugs all around from the members of the church. Her name is in the bulletin as the newest Christian. Perhaps she even attends all the time. But only God knows if the infection (sin) has been removed from her life. He knows whether or not her baptism washed her sins away. He has the Xray machine.

If a person is baptized to please someone else, as surely was the case in the scenario that my young friend related, the infection of sin is still there. If a person goes under the water in an emotional moment  that’s void of true commitment, perhaps because friends are doing it or, as one person I know did, in a desperate attempt to save a failing marriage, the infection is still there. Those who are looking on may find comfort in knowing the procedure has been done, but the “cap” on that baptism is just hiding the infection. It will keep hurting. Try as she may, this girl is not going to get rid of the ache of sin. She may tell herself over and over that it’s okay. But if the ONE, the Spirit, who sees all the way through, does not bear witness with her Spirit that she is a child of God (Romans 8:16), then the infection of sin is still there. It will never stop hurting, eroding, destroying, until the sin is removed.

Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins(Acts 2:38). It’s a simple procedure by which infected people become clear and clean. But it is possible to go through all the motions without removing the sin. May I always put all of my life under the Xray machine of His Word. He knows.

And, of course, the answer to my young friend’s question is, “Your friend’s original baptism had nothing to do with the removal of sins or forgiveness. It was merely a submersion; a dunking with no spiritual significance (except perhaps it was a blasphemous ritual). How could one’s baptism accomplish forgiveness in the heart of the living God in whom she did not even believe?  If she now believes and is penitent, let’s get back to the water. Let’s clear up the infection.”

Sister to Sister: I’m Getting a New Battery

images-10I took my time. I took my time through the aisles at Target last Wednesday afternoon. I called my daughter, Hannah, when I found the diapers on clearance. I wondered why she sounded like they were already traveling to evening Bible class. It was only 6:20 and they’re hardly ever early anywhere.  I talked with her a bit and then went over to pick up a box of Kleenex, the last item on my list. Placing it in my cart, I glanced down at my Bama watch and realized it was only 6:25. I even had time to breeze through the clearance clothing before checking out and making the five minute trek to the church building. I’d even be early!

When I did arrive there, I still had lots of time. It was ten till 7. I went around to the back of my car and went through Target bags till I found the little gift card and M&Ms I had bought for my secret “adopt-a-college-student” friend. I had plenty of time to hide those where he would find them.

And then, while I was “lolly-gagging” in my trunk there, my friend Brandy drove up and parked beside me. That sweet girl was hurrying her two babies out of the car and getting her Bible and diaper bag and…

“Hey Brandy. How are you?”

“Hey, Mrs. Cindy. We’re good. Just running a little late.”

“Aw…you’re not late. You’re just on time.” I said, still looking through the stash for that gift card.

“Well, just a couple minutes behind…” she said.

After a few comments about the boys and how that little one is already walking, she scurried on in. I found the stuff I was looking for  and started walking toward the entrance. Then, as I looked around the parking lot, which was full of cars, but completely desolate of people, I thought, “Well that’s kind of weird.” I walked in and saw that the giant wooden doors that separated the large fellowship hall class from the offices and fifth grade classroom…were closed.

“Am I late?”…I thought. “But my watch says it’s seven minutes till seven…Has it stopped?…Well,  no…that second hand is ticking…They just closed those doors a bit early tonight.”

I unlocked the office doors and went in there to look for a piece of ribbon to tie the M&Ms to the gift card. And then I glanced up at Mrs. Patsy’s office clock. AHHH!…It’s 7:10!

Moments later, stumbling over the women in the ladies class, I glanced up at the board where Lindsey, who was teaching, was listing the ways we evangelize within our homes. She already had a long list going. Cindy Colley was very late! I was now sitting beside a visitor…sweet Lori Lynn Rives, the young “hero mom” who had originated the idea that has now turned into the international Digging Deep study. I hugged her, but I was thinking…”What must she think of me, “Mrs. Let’s-all-be-deep-Bible-students!”…tripping over her at 7: 10 to…well…Bible study?

Seriously, I know it probably didn’t matter so much to anyone but me, but I kept thinking about that Bama watch. I love that watch, but if that thing had been running right, I would have been on time. If it had completely stopped, I would have still been on time. I would have figured out that it had stopped hours ago. But because it was running, but losing time, it had totally thrown me off my game. (I know, I should have been looking at my phone.…)

It reminded me of what the Spirit gave us in Revelation 3 to the church in Laodicea:

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

It’s not the people who have totally stopped (working, running, ticking…those who have stopped even pretending that they are accurate representations of what God wants them to be).…And it’s surely not the people who are the real thing: who are aligning themselves as nearly as humanly possible to the standard.…It’s neither of these groups that make God most nauseated. It’s the people who are still ticking a bit; they are still pretending they are doing the job. These are the people that God will just spit out of His mouth.

Now, we’ve put those people through two analogies. They are the lukewarm liquid that nauseates God. They are the ticking watch that is totally inaccurate. They have just enough Christianity to “throw people off”. They are pretending they are getting it right, but their batteries are weak and they don’t really have their hearts in what they are doing anymore. And, just like the Bama watch threw me off my game, they are influencing others to miss the mark.

If the watch had told me it was 7:00, when it was truly 7:00, I would have been right on time. If the watch had said, say…2:30, I would have known there was a problem, and looked elsewhere for my standard.  But because it was still in the proximity of being right, I trusted it. That’s how it is with lukewarm Christians. If they would only get out of the proximity of faithfulness, we could easily see that we cannot count on them and that we should not be trusting their examples. But because they have one foot in the church, sometimes we fail to see that other foot, dangerously sliding around in the world! We trust them. We are influenced by them. Outsiders take them for examples of Christianity…and when the judgment day comes, those big doors will be closed…for them and for those who trusted them.

I’m mad at that watch. But I think I will get a new battery, and give it one more chance (because it is a Bama watch, after all.) Maybe some people need to get a new battery and give it another go.

Sister to Sister: Figuring Out Godliness–The Exciting Conclusion =)

Are You Up to the Challenge?

 

11270664_10152744265201384_2434744574414167591_oNevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

Scholars have had varying views about what “she will be saved in childbearing” means.  Some believe that it means women are saved because it was a woman who gave birth to the Messiah. They reason that it was through that miraculous “childbearing” in Bethlehem, that we are all saved. Of course there’s a sense in which that’s true, but I believe the passage more directly applies to the practical roles of Christian women. Let me explain.

Throughout New Testament writings there is an obvious emphasis on the role of Christian women in the home. There is great wisdom in this emphasis. Can you imagine how large our churches would be today if every Christian mother since the day of Pentecost had successfully raised her children to be faithful to the Lord? It staggers the imagination!

I believe the Holy Spirit in verses 11-14 teaches what women cannot do in service to the Lord. I believe in verse 15, He gives us the flip side of the coin. I believe He is teaching women what we can best do if we want to build the church. We can bear children and raise them to be faithful, full of love, holy and self-controlled.  I believe He is teaching us that when we, as Christian women, do this most important of all women’s jobs successfully, we will necessarily be mothers who are walking in a saved condition.  Children can grow up and learn faith from other sources besides Mom. But if they do learn faith from Mom—a faith that calls them to be set apart from the world; holy—then Mom necessarily had to have a strong faith to transfer. If the Mom was privileged to teach them to love the Lord with all of their hearts, souls, strength, and minds, then that says a lot about the fervor of Mom’s love.  If they got a self control from Mom that’s big enough to keep them from that roaring lion who seeks to devour them, then Mom had to have a serious spiritual focus. Simply put, if I am the one who gives my children a faith that will take them to heaven, I must be on the road to heaven myself.

The devil is busy. The world is enticing. The culture is challenging. But my place is here. My time is now. Whether I am the woman striving to be godly on the inside and out, or the man who is trying to grow into the spiritual leader of a righteous home, God can use me when I examine his Word, find my role and fill it. But I must also look for others who are finding their life’s direction in the same great Book. I must look to these people for my influences, my encouragement, and my best friends. It is from this circle that I will one day find my spouse. Husbands can be great leaders when they choose women who are true to their profession of godliness. Women, likewise, find their greatest potential filled when they are willing to be molded into God’s women, even when it means going against the grain of a culture of feminism. May we help each other be submissive to His will as we find our places in the body of Christ.

Sister to Sister: Figuring Out Godliness–Part 3

Do You Trust Him?

aster_cafev1_600x300I went to lunch recently with a couple of friends from a denomination who wanted to talk about women and ministry. It seems they had a close girlfriend who was an extremely talented speaker. “She’s got this amazing ability to convince and convict non-believers. She’s a better preacher than any man we know” they said. “Don’t you think God expects her to use her talents to speak to people about him? “

The answer is “yes.” Of course there are settings in which all of the talents God has given me can and should be used to His glory. But just because I’ve been blessed with a talent, doesn’t mean there are no divinely imposed restrictions regarding the use of that talent. My husband is a great guitarist, but he does not play the guitar in worship. My daughter is a great cook, but she doesn’t prepare her famous macaroni and cheese for the communion table. I like public speaking. Is that a talent I can use in worship to God?

Let’s look at the passage from I Timothy 2 again:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (I Tim. 2:11-14).

In a context that is addressing worship issues, women are commanded to be silent. They are commanded not to have authority over or dominate a man in worship. Before we address the reasons given in the passage, let’s look at a parallel scripture:

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church (I Cor.14:34,35)

The devil has often used the tool of feminism in our society to make God’s people ashamed to adhere to clear teachings of the New Testament about the role of women in worship. After all, this is the 21st century. Women are astronauts, engineers, CEOs and presidential candidates. Can we really continue promoting this antiquated notion that women are to be silent in our worship assemblies?

Romans 12: 2 tells us “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”.  Sometimes when we think of worldliness, we think of immorality. We think of drinking, gambling, reckless affluence, and illicit sex. But being conformed to the world is simply allowing the culture around us to influence us to disobey God.  The teachings about a woman’s role in worship are some of the plainest teachings in the New Testament.  We need help to misunderstand them.  The fact that they are not politically correct in our culture does not change them.

Frequently, I will have someone ask “Couldn’t this teaching have been for Paul’s culture only? Does it necessarily apply to women today?”  In our text, it is almost as if the Holy Spirit anticipated this question. Notice he proceeds to give the reason for the command: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

Notice that the reason, (what happened in the Garden of Eden), has to do with people far removed from Paul’s culture. In I Peter 3; 4, 5, Peter reiterates the submission principle, in this case speaking about submission of a woman to her husband. Notice the woman who modeled submission for the first century Christian women was Sarah. But Sarah lived a couple of millenniums before the first century.   She was definitely not part of Peter’s culture.  See, the teaching about submission in the church and in the home is not a culture-limited teaching. It began in the Garden and continues to apply in God’s new covenant.  It applies throughout all eras of time and across all cultures.

While I can see many reasons for God’s imposed limitations for women in worship, it’s important to remember that whether or not a command makes sense to me is irrelevant to its importance or the consequences of disobeying it. As a matter of fact, if I choose to obey only the commands that make sense to me, then I am not really trusting God. I’m not really doing what God says because he says it. I’m doing what I think is best. While our faith is a reasonable, logic based faith, it goes a step beyond logic. Faith says “I will obey when it makes sense to me and even when it doesn’t, because I trust that God knows what’s best for my life.”

But remember. The answer to the question about whether I should use my teaching talents in the kingdom was “yes.” So if I cannot teach in worship, then how can I use this talent?

I know a young lady who started a community Bible study for ladies in her hometown. She obtained permission to use a town hall and soon had about 50 women in attendance, half of whom were not members of the Lord’s church. I dare say she was reaching more non-Christians with the gospel than her husband who was the local preacher. But was she in any way having authority over men? No.

I know a teenager who started a weekly devotional for girls via email. Her weekly emails strengthened and blessed the lives of dozens of girls each week. Was she using her teaching talents for the kingdom? Oh, yes. But she was not violating the passage.

My daughter and I often have the chance to speak for ladies groups:  ladies’ days, teen girls’ days, ladies classes at lectureships, girls’ sessions at youth rallies, mother-daughter banquets, youth camps and retreats. All of these are wonderful times of fellowship and learning for all involved, especially us. But in none of these cases are we violating the passage.

It has been my experience and observation that those of us who are concerned about being Titus 2 women (as noted above), evangelizing the lost, and caring for the needy  have far more to do in the kingdom than we can possibly accomplish in this lifetime, without clamoring for positions of leadership that God reserved for men. It has also been my observation that when women step into positions of leadership in worship, important jobs best done by women (the care of their children, hospitality, the guiding of the house) are neglected. But let me say it again: It doesn’t really matter if I can see the wisdom in the prohibition. God said it. Faith is doing what God says to do. Period.

Sister to Sister: Figuring Out Godliness–Part 2

Do You Have Your Act Together?

1010949_10151997487112802_498003468_nThe second indicator of what’s on the inside is what I’m doing on the outside. The passage says Christian women are not to be distinguished by flashy or immodest clothing and/or jewelry. But Paul doesn’t just leave us hanging. He gives us the flip side of the coin; the positive side: do be distinguished by the good works you do.  He says if you’re making the assertion that you are a Christian, do what women who profess godliness do: get busy doing good things!

I am amazed at the potential of the young women I meet as I go about and speak for ladies days and teen girls’ days. Often I find you, teen girls, more responsive to the teachings of Scripture than your older sisters in Christ. You have tender hearts. Almost always you are more creative in the use of resources. You blow me away with your talents and willingness to use them. You are tech savvy and artistic. You have much to offer the church and you are unwilling to bury your talents. Most of these areas of service are great opportunities for both men and women. Take the time to examine each of them and see if there are ideas that can be used by both guys and girls.

  1. Teen girls are putting together some of the most amazing Saturday programs for girls in their communities. These days typically include singing praises, a speaker on themes of purity, evangelism and/or service, games, a question and answer session and a meal.  I’ve seen themes like “It’s a Jungle Out There” (I Peter 5:8), and “Whatever!”(Phil.4:8). Talented decorators, cooks, and song-leaders, all under 21, put these programs together and bring their non-Christian friends. They are making a difference.
  2. Many of you are in group studies using a book called GIFTS, available from the Lads to Leaders office. I’ve known girls in several areas who’ve carried this book to school with them. Someone on the bus or in study hall is interested in the book. So a Christian girl invites a non-Christian girl over to study GIFTS on Thursday nights. Girls are learning the gospel through these private studies and some are becoming Christians.  The GUARD study for you guys can be used in the same way.
  3. Some of you are using your computers to spread the gospel. I heard of one Lads to Leaders debate group that used Instant Messenger to prepare as they studied their defense of the gospel. I know of one girl who had a lengthy study with a non-Christian friend on the subject of baptism via Instant Messenger. I know many of you use your Facebook pages to let each other know you are praying during the difficult times and to send each other encouraging passages of scripture. You use your word processors to make banners for hospital rooms and cards for sick people.  You correspond with missionaries and prospective converts you’ve met while on mission trips. You avoid the destructive chat rooms and readily available internet temptations and, instead, use your computer for good works.
  4. I have a friend who is a freshman on a state university campus. He started a weekly devotional in his dorm room on Wednesday nights after worship. To date, he has taught and baptized ten friends. This kind of devotional evangelism can happen with girls, too.
  5. Some of the most creative kids’ bible classes I’ve seen are taught by teens. Some of the most eye-catching bulletin boards are constructed by teens. This week I’m preparing an adventure center for our local Family Bible Week. Everyone on my team, except me, is college age and below. We are making a Treasure Island where children learn that real treasures are the ones we lay up in heaven and the treasure map is the Word of God. The lesson was written by a college student.
  6. Some of the most effective teachers on the mission fields are teens. I’m thinking right now of one teen girl who insisted on climbing a mountain in Jamaica to get to one lone house on the top of the steep incline. Other team members were older and lacked the energy to make the tough climb in the heat. Greeted by a sixteen year old native, this young teen girl set up a Bible study. At the end of the week, the girl was baptized.  She, in turn, brought a close friend to the Lord and that friend has now brought five people to the Lord. It wasn’t the seasoned preachers who made that little Jamaican church grow. It was the sixteen year old novice.
  7. I see local groups of young people tirelessly conducting worship services at nursing homes, raking leaves and painting houses for the elderly, doing laundry for new mothers, washing baptismal robes, cleaning up after fellowship meals, providing transportation to services and a myriad of other tasks that might seem menial to their peers. Some people may ask, “What’s so special about these teens? Why are they okay with doing the dirty work?”  Something tells me it’s that they understand what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40: “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” They understand good works.
  8. I see young people who are just naturally hospitable. I would be hard pressed to even estimate how many families have moved into our area and chosen to become a part of our congregation because our teens just enveloped their children, making them feel welcome and very much a part of the family that meets together here. Oh there may have been other factors, but parents very often tell me the deciding factor was the friendliness of our teens. Can you find someone who is new; someone who may be sitting alone and invite them to come and sit with you and the other teens.
  9. I receive lots of cards of encouragement from women of various ages. Sometimes I receive a card that is such a blessing to me that I want to keep it forever. Many of the cards that have encouraged me immeasurably are those I have received from teen girls who tell me that I have made some difference in their lives. These cards make me want to be better, try harder and seek the kingdom first. Is there someone who is making a difference in your life? Take a few minutes to pen a note of thanks. Some of you are masters of expression. Use those writing talents to build up the body. Some of you are good in the kitchen. Make those muffins to carry to Sister Smith who is convalescing or to Jenny, who broke her arm in yesterday’s soccer game. Some of you are talented sketchers. Make your own cards and gifts for widows or college students or deployed soldiers. Some of you are great readers. Share thirty minutes each week with an older woman whose sight is failing her, reading the Scriptures or something she wants to hear. Some of you are great actors. Plan a widows’ luncheon, serve your guests and then treat them to a skit produced and directed by teens. They will never forget this. It will be more fun than they’ve had all year! Our teens make up songs about our elderly people. They love to travel from house to house and carol; especially during the holidays, but any time of year. You don’t have to wait for programs and youth leaders to take the initiative. You can initiate good works.
  10. Most importantly, just get excited about spiritual things. The devil loves to make us believe that the real fun is in the temporal activities of this world. While it’s okay to enjoy fellowship in pure forms of entertainment, sports and fun activities, most teens are missing out on the lasting joy that comes from service. Be enthusiastic about Bible class. Get excited about building the kingdom. Try your hand at evangelism (maybe starting out by going with your youth minister or an older Christian to a study). Make it your habit to always say “yes” whenever asked to do anything for the Lord’s church. My children both testify that this “yes” rule was a big key to the development of their talents for the Master.

One more thing about good works for girls: No discussion of this subject would be complete without at least a brief look at Titus 2:4, 5. This passage is compelling as it relates to the place of women in the body. It encapsulates the most important role you as God’s woman will ever have on this earth. It actually says that women who fail to comply with this passage will cause the Word of God to be blasphemed. Guys, whatever you hope to find in the woman you will one day marry, find someone who is working on the list below. Girls, whatever else you do in this life, may I encourage you to be sure you are developing your talents and skills to be:

  1. A lover of your husband. Decide now to find a faithful Christian with whom you can share the goal of eternal life with God and plan to be his helper toward heaven.
  2. A lover of your children. If and when God blesses you with children, realize that he has placed in your charge little souls that will exist forever. They will look to you for guidance. You will influence their destinies.
  3. Discreet. The word here means self-controlled. It means deciding that you will put your will under His Will in all of life.
  4. Chaste. This word means modest and innocent. Make early choices to guard your thoughts and life from the sins of the devil.  Live every day so that you can bow before God’s throne and pray, knowing your relationship with Him is secure.
  5. A homemaker. Whatever vocation you may choose, remember God’s plan for your life, at least while your children are at home (these verses are addressed to the younger women), is for you to be a homemaker.
  6. Good.
  7. Obedient to your husband. While politically incorrect in our world, be sure you never lose your resolve to do marriage God’s way.

Sister to Sister: Popcorn and Parenting

9b6f30900ad1156d2540bd62a32b2f7bDad,

I was just making popcorn and I had a fun memory. When I was little and you used to make popcorn for our family movie nights, I always thought it was outrageously extraordinary how you would toss all the popcorn right out of the bowl and back in the bowl again without any of it dropping out while you were salting and buttering. I’m not sure I ever told you how I thought you had supernatural powers because you were able to do that, so I’m telling you now. :)

Love, Boo

My husband received this sweet little note from our 27-year-old daughter last Friday night. As he wistfully shared its contents with me, I had a half-dozen random thoughts:

  1. All parents who want to be magical, are magical.
  2. The best things in a child’s life are free (or at least around the cost of a bag of microwaveable popcorn).
  3. Quality time only happens when there’s quantity time. (You don’t schedule magic shows like this one.)
  4. You may not be informed of the fact that certain events have gone down in your child’s mind as legendary for many years (if ever).
  5. Family movie night (or game night or sundae night or firefly catching night) has all sorts of fringe benefits.
  6. Getting all the popcorn salted and back in the right place, even when there are shake-ups, is an acquired skill.  Making sure kids get back in the right place and that their salt never loses its savor (Luke 14:34), even when there are shake-ups, is a life-long effort and an acquired answer to prayer.

Very thankful today for the dad who could get all the popcorn back in the bowl.