Sister to Sister: Guest Writer–Seventeen and Sanctified

1459053_1056971667657927_2195731218135519110_nRecently, while visiting a congregation in Memphis, Tennessee, I met (or even re-met, I think) Kaleigh Barringer. Keleigh has a lot of renewable energy about the gospel, about putting the Lord first, about the challenges of coming nose-to-nose with the temptations to sin in ways that are so accepted in our modern teen culture that they make teen life in the Lord seem an everyday exercise in extremism. Kaleigh submitted this to “Bless Your Heart”. It did bless mine.
Seventeen and Saved : The Challenges of Sanctification When Everybody Just Wants To Have Fun.     
Picture this! You’re on a chair or table and your friend is on the ground. You reach your hand out to pull her up, but it’s easier for her to pull you down, than for your friend to pull you up.                           
It’s hard sometimes being a Christian when we have people around us who party all the time, curse, and go against everything thing we believe. Often we call these people our friends.
We want to try to be good influences on our friends because we love them. Sometimes, though, if you don’t agree with what they’re doing, they’ll say you’re not being very loving or say “Judge Not”, or maybe just stop being friends with you all together. It’s important to know that all you can do is plant the seed.
” Dear friend we stand here
After a life of friendship as deep as the sea
But As I stand here at His throne, I wonder
Why you never mentioned Him to me.
You held this knowledge in your heart
You knew I was lost in sin;
And as I ask you why you said nothing
You say you were afraid you would offend.
You kept this saving secret
Of love beyond compare.
If only I had known…
If only I had been aware…
You could have told me something;
Could have shared this gift.
You watched my every mistake
Maybe you didn’t realize how life could so quickly drift.
“I never knew you” is what He said to me;
But I never knew Him either;
You never mentioned Him to me.
As I look back on my life
I wish I would have seen
How different my life would have been
If I knew He was my king.
I wish you would have taught me.
I wish I had lived differently.
I thought you were my friend
But you never mentioned Him to me.
Now that life is over
And He has sealed my fate,
Maybe you thought about telling me
But now it’s much too late.”-S.E.L.
Being a Christian may not be the most popular thing, but in the long run, it’ll be worth it.

Sister to Sister: Another Chance–(Conclusion)…and His Women Getting Together!

tumblr_lyddxauOqc1r1o6z3o1_500She did not care that her family was not there. She did not care that her hair would be wet. She did not care that there had been a glitch in the temperature timer and the water was cold. She did not care that she was hungry and it was past lunch time. Maria just wanted to be immersed for the forgiveness of her sins. And so she was. She confessed that she does believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God and she was immediately baptized, buried with Him into His blood that, at that moment, cleansed of all her past sins and she began to be a grateful recipient  of the continual cleansing that will keep her ready for His coming for all of her faithful days. Praise God for “Another Chance”!

It was only a few hours before I received a message from a faithful sister who had read about the baptism on our congregation’s Facebook page. This sister had done mission work in Mexico and she knew a preacher who might be able to help locate a church for Maria. So I messaged this faithful man and he, amazingly, lives on the Texas/Mexico border, only thirty minutes from Maria’s home city. God is so good! And Facebook can be a great tool for His people.

A few days later, I was standing in line at the counter in a large hotel as the Polishing the Pulpit conference was beginning. Trying to get my room keys upon our arrival there—a convention, mind you, where 3800-plus people were converging—I overheard the man in the adjacent line giving the clerk his name. It was the same name as that preacher who lives in Texas! I turned to him and said, “You are looking for a church for my friend, Maria!”

“Yes!” he said. “I am!”

3800 people, who would go through scores of different processes and lines to get their accommodations at various times in the process of about four days…and I ended up next to this man, who was working on the same precious project for Maria as was I! God is good!

Later in that same weekend, the secretary from this church in Texas, a sweet-spirited sister, came up to me after one of my lessons and assured me that she has friends who live in the same community as Maria…people who will help her be faithful.  “We will not let her fall through the cracks.” I just have to say it again: God is SO good!

Additionally, due to circumstances which occurred following Maria’s return to Mexico, her family in Huntsville has experienced a transition. This has afforded Christians here an opportunity to help them find needed items and to begin a relationship with Maria’s daughter and her family. God is so good!

Will you keep praying to our God of goodness and providence for Maria and her family?  Will you pray diligently that God will help you identify and reach the Marias of your life? I know there are others in my life and Emily’s life and Bonny’s life, too. I know many of you have found more Marias than I have and I know lots of you have not needed a second chance to tell them. I’m not proud of the fact that I did need a second chance…another year and another mindset.

But I am so thankful for second chances!


Now, don’t forget this weekend is the ladies seminar at West Huntsville. If you have something for which we should be praying on this Friday night, and you can’t join us in person, feel free to send me that request at We will be praying on that evening and distributing that prayer list to women for use in their own private prayer times. Some have already submitted requests. God will hear us all the time and individually, of course, but it is strengthening to pray together. I look forward to that time. Saturday will be a powerful day for our women at West Huntsville and all who can attend. I hope you’re in that number. It’s not too late to sign up and come at In addition to the spiritual feast, there will be a physical feast, book tables, t-shirts and Digging Deep paraphernalia. There will be singing and praying and a Bible marking class. There will be encouragement and strength. And there will be men serving our lunch. That’s a first, I think, for our WH seminars, and we are liking it! Our husbands are great men who know how to lead and serve!

One more thing, Digging Deep podcast is on Tuesday night, September 29th. Be with us then and invite friends. They still have time to catch up with us as we are beginning this year’s Persecution study! Go live for Him! Go teach for Him!

Sister to Sister: Another Chance (Part 5)

images-6Glenn just kept listening to Jerry and Maria was listening intently as we zeroed in on key passages from Acts.

We went over to Acts eight, where that Ethiopian officer of the queen Candace, was riding along in the chariot and reading from the prophetic book of Isaiah, when Philip, at the Lord’s bidding, joined him. There is little of the Bible study revealed, but at the end of that study, the man saw water on the roadside and asked Philip if he could be baptized. Whatever it is that Philip said when he preached (literally “announced the good tidings”) to him, it made him want to be baptized. We talked here about how that baptism is a burial, indicated by the fact that they both went down into the water. But we need more than an indication to be sure we are getting baptism right, so we went over to Romans 6:1-5 and clearly read where the mode of baptism is distinctly portrayed as a re-enactment of the burial of our Lord—a burial from which we are resurrected, just as he was, to walk in a new life. I told her the truth about the Greek word that’s translated baptism in our versions today. It literally means “burial”. Translators were reluctant to use the word “burial” because it so plainly contradicted the mode used by religionists of the day. But it was the word chosen by the Holy Spirit. No matter where you look, you see that the very word “baptizo” means “burial” or “immersion”. Maria did not even want to argue about the mode of baptism, though. She could see that people in the New Testament were immersed in water to be saved.

We looked at how Paul, in reviewing his conversion story in Acts 22:16, related that Ananias, who came to him with the gospel said these words: “And now, why do you tarry? Arise and be baptized, washing away your sins.” Maria had no trouble seeing that Saul was IN sin and had need of the washing until he was baptized. We talked about how he had definitely believed out there on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), but that he still needed the washing in baptism before forgiveness could occur. Maria was reading and nodding and becoming very seriously contemplative. She was not taking this conversation lightly.

We continued to read in chapters ten and eleven about the good man Cornelius. We talked about the fact that even though he was devout and God-fearing, prayerful and benevolent (10:2), he was still in need of being saved (11:14). So Peter taught him about the Christ and baptized him.

We saw Lydia in Acts 16, at the place of prayer by the river, learn the gospel and submit to baptism. We looked at that jailer in Philippi, also in Acts 16 and how he went out of the prison in the middle of the night at the obvious risk of his own life for the purpose of being baptized. Maria was already convinced about her own need. But still, we went to the very plain words of Jesus as he commissioned his apostles to teach the gospel to the whole world:

“He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”

Very plain and simple. You just have to have  help to misunderstand the clarity there (Mark 16:16).

And then there’s that I Peter 3:21 language that is so plain….You would think God was expecting the devil to come and do crazy things in our world with the concept of baptism.  So he just came out and said it:

“Baptism does also now save us.”

I frankly told Maria that the devil has done a good job of mixing up the world about this very plain teaching. He has people make fun of “water baptism” people.The devil wants people to die in hell forever. He knows that it doesn’t matter how many medical mission trips you do, how many wells you dig in Africa, how many pies you bake for your grieving neighbors, even how many times each week you go to worship….If he can keep you outside of Jesus Christ, you will still belong to him. And it is baptism that puts people into the body of Christ (Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:27) So, in spite of the ridicule, we have to keep saying it if we love souls. Throughout history, those who have spoken the truths of God have been ridiculed.

On that note, we talked about how that the whole picture of Maria’s obedience would not be easy. She would have a “hard row to plow” upon going back to Mexico. We would first have to search out a group of God’s people, if they even existed, in her hometown. I told her I would try and network a bit and see if I could find them. “The people of God, if they truly are His, will be good to you and help you with transportation to worship, if you need it, and they will encourage you as you start this difficult, but blessed lifestyle.”

It was time for the big question. “Maria, have you been baptized for the remission of your sins?”

Maria’s simple answer: “I have not been baptized with the baptism you have talked about today.”

I then asked Maria if she was ready to be baptized. Maria’s sweet answer? “I am ready now.”

After speaking with her a bit more about the magnitude of her commitment in a world of wickedness, I went to get Glenn. He was still listening to Jerry. My patient husband had given Jerry a bottle of water and let him talk while we had offered Maria the living water. She was ready to quench the thirst that can only be satisfied by the Water of Life.

Sister to Sister: Another Chance (part 4)

11902329_10153223400334069_4584303358887639646_n11934957_10153223401374069_98564377511046029_n(Digging Deep t-shirts! Five more days to order at (Sale ends at noon on Friday. We will also have a limited quantity on hand for the seminar at West Huntsville.) Also, we still have room for several more at the Living with Purpose seminar on September 25th and 26th. So clear your calendar and do something healthy for your soul! It’ll be worth the time. All registration and meal fees will be refunded if not completely satisfied (since there are no fees!) Register here:

And about Maria…The question that had surfaced several times was the  topic I had reserved for the very last characteristic we’d study about how we identify the first century church in the chaotic 21st century religious world. What does a person need to do to become a member of the New Testament church? Was it indeed what most religious organizations in “Christendom” today believe and teach about what a woman must do to become part of the church?

We went, once again, to the book of Acts. That’s where you go if you want to know about the origins and firsts of the church. We read again what 3000 people did on the day of Pentecost to get into the original church. There were many who did not choose to accept the overwhelming evidence presented by the apostles on that day that Jesus was, indeed, the Son of God. But those who were convicted of His deity, asked  what they “must do to be saved’ (Acts 2:37) and were told in simple terms: “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins.”

Repentance was a big part of our discussion that day. Maria was unclear about exactly what repentance entails. We defined it from scripture as being more than a feeling of remorse. Repentance has to involve both changing your mind about sin and resigning from sinful actions.  We talked about how repentance is really a change in direction. A woman is walking in one direction and decides to go in the opposite direction, turns around and walks the other way.  But Maria was seeing the sorrowful results of sin all around her and did not need convincing that her life needed repentance.

As in all studies, though, I parked right there at repentance for a while. I told Maria that this was because I am convicted that repentance is the most challenging and difficult part of God’s salvation plan.  The world argues most about baptism (the most overwhelmingly obvious part of the plan, from scripture). But the part of the plan that takes the most humility, introspection, fortitude, courage, resolve, determination… well, it’s easily repentance. Baptism requires a moment with the right heart. Repentance takes a lifetime of assessing, deciding, re-assessing, choosing, standing firm, submitting and figuring out how to be true to the promise you made when you went under the water.  It means that the will of the One who took your place at the cross is forever more important to you than your own. Repentance is  a change of the affections finding reflection in your future direction.

We looked at Galatians five and how that repentance means that the works of the flesh are replaced in your life by the fruit of the spirit. We spoke of the eternal fulfillment that the difficult challenges of repentance brings. Maria was a penitent spirit. But I still wanted to walk through some key chapters in Acts about conversion with her…

Sister to Sister: Another Chance (part 3)

Womens-bible-studySo my good husband took Jerry in a little room and gave him a bottle of water and just chatted (…well, Jerry chatted…for a very long time), while we were about the living water in the next room. With open Bibles in both languages, we studied. Since Maria’s background in Mexico was first in Catholicism and then in a popular denomination, Maria was concerned that she had not found a church that aligned with the Bible as she understood its teachings. So we painstakingly examined what the New Testament says about the church. What would that church look like today?

We started with the names that are given to that church. We saw that the church is called the body in Ephesians 1:22, 23. It’s called the “church of Christ” (meaning the church belonging to Christ) in Romans 16:16 and the “church of God” In I Corinthians 1:2 and other places. It’s called the “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23), and it’s simply called “the church” in many places. Maria agreed that it just would not be right for human beings to put their own names or even names they would personally assign on the body for which Jesus died, because it’s HIs bride (Ephesians 5: 23). He gets to pick the name.  After all, how would you feel about your husband if he was okay with you wearing someone else’s name?

We spent a while on how and when the church was established in Acts 2. Maria realized quickly that, if your church has a founding date other than Pentecost of 33 AD, it is not the church of the New Testament.

We talked about the founder of the church, Jesus of Nazareth, and how that any church that claims another founder would not truly be the church of the Bible. Maria said that, sadly, “her” church back in Mexico did have another founder and another beginning date. The more we talked, the more she wanted to find the church of the New Testament.

The next thing we talked about was organization. We went to I Timothy 3 and Titus 2 and Maria read for herself. She discovered that there were some very simple and easy-to-understand qualifications that must be met by a plurality of leaders in congregations. Here’s where she solidified her already haunting doubts that a papacy, a board of directors or a national or international council for a church could ever be what God intended. She came to fully realize that, in searching for the church, she must find a group of people who were autonomous…independent from hierarchy…a group which follows the Word as its only creed and its local elders as they feed the flock (Acts 20:28) and rule in matters of judgment.

And we talked about worship. We really talked about worship. We went all the way back to the times of Adam and Eve and talked about how that God IS concerned with the details of worship. We saw how that the whole Cain and Abel incident was precipitated by a lack of faith. That lack of faith resulted in worship that was not according to God’s command (Hebrews 11:4; Romans 10:17). We went to Leviticus ten and noticed the wrath of God poured out on Nadab and Abihu as the new priesthood system began with their presumption that they could offer a non-prescribed fire in their worship. Maria was all over this. It does matter to God that we follow directions for worship! She was thoughtful as we talked about worship and how that it’s never been intended to be an activity that pleases the worshippers. The audience of worship is God and He gets to decide what is acceptable in worship. It dawned on Maria…maybe for the first time…that, just because someone is worshipping does NOT mean that God is pleased with that worship. In fact, much of the book of first Corinthians was written to instruct about proper worship. It matters. She was getting it.

So we noticed how New Testament Christians worshipped. They sang together…simple, a cappella  music (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). We noticed how that we know, both from scripture and from history, that instrumentation in worship was not a “thing”—never even introduced in worship—till hundreds of years after the church began. We even noticed how leaders in denominations, which are today fully instrumental, were appalled when the organ was first introduced ( We talked about the prayers of the early church in worship and their weekly observance of the feast commemorating the death of Jesus. We talked about the teaching that happened when they came together. Maria was turning pages in her Spanish Bible. I was hoping Glenn could “visit’ with Jeff for just one more hour because the most important part of our discussion was just about to happen…

Sister to Sister: Another Chance (Part 2)

coffee cups bees starbucks selective coloring 2048x1296 wallpaper_www.animalhi.com_74…And then there was this day in early August.

It was a rainy day, but it promised to be a good day. I was on my way to pick up Maria for a Bible study. I had prayed that her heart would be open, that my words would be clear and translated correctly and that she would obey the sweet gospel. As I traveled over Chapman Mountain I thought about how I was hungry and that I could drink a latte while studying, just to tide me over till lunch. But then I thought I should also call Emily and Bonny and bring everyone else a drink, too. But I cannot think about two things at one time, so I missed my turn. Running late by now, I knew I would have to just apologize to the girls and skip the coffee.

So I pulled into Maria’s driveway and out popped Jerry and asked me if it would be okay if he wore “these shorts to church”. Jerry is a family member who is about thirty years old, but due to an accident earlier in his life, has suffered brain damage. He talks incessantly and without reason. I knew studying with him in the room would be a fiasco, so I  explained that this was just a Bible study and that maybe he might want to wait for another time when there would be a class. But he REALLY wanted to come and, in actuality, he HAD to come because there were others at home who could not be left alone with him. Although not responsible for his actions, Jerry was capable of harm to others. I moved things around on the back seat behind me and made a place for Him. But my heart started pounding and, as I backed out of the drive, I was afraid. I had tried to call my husband, while he ran back in the house for shoes, but there was not enough time.

So, as I drove down their street, I texted Glenn: “Please come to building ASAP. I have a crazy man in the car with me.” I later learned that Glenn read the text while discussing business with another preacher on the phone.

“I have an emergency,” he said. “I have to go.” And he did…in his dirty, work-in-the-yard blue jeans and with unshaven face, he bolted out the door. But he forgot to text back that he was coming. I drove along without saying a word. The sweet lady beside me could not communicate with me and the man in the back never paused long enough for me to get a word in. I texted Glenn again: “Are you coming??!!”

He responded this time: “On my way.”

But I knew his drive was thirty minutes and mine was ten. I did not want to get to the building before He got there. I felt that putting others in an uncomfortable spot was not the right thing. So I thought about the coffee again. I would drive over to Target, and go in and order coffee from the expensive coffee shop inside. That would “waste” enough time to make my arrival coincide with Glenn’s. But, oh my!…by now I had so many people that I was going to break the bank in that place.

“Cafe´?” I offered to Maria in my best Spanish accent.

“Si, “ she said.

“That means ‘yes’, Jerry explained. He knows just a little less Spanish than I do, but he loves to instruct me in the language. He was also telling me what kind of coffee and creamer he wanted and that he did not want sugar. He wanted Splenda.

I had a time asking Maria about hers, but I remembered “leche” from “dulce de leche” and finally figured it out. I had the other orders in my phone and so I hurried into the store. As soon as I placed the orders, I began dialing to give the others a heads up about the situation. Emily didn’t pick up, but, thankfully Bonny did. I told her to expect Glenn and to tell him where I was.

Then I picked up five steaming cups of coffee and carefully attempted to balance as I exited. I made it to the car and spilled just a little as I opened the door. But as I did, a sharp, stinging sensation went through the skin in my neck just under my chin and, just as quickly, the same sensation on my left shoulder. Bees were attacking me!

“Abejas! Abejas!” Maria screamed. “Abejas! Abejas!” That’s not how you want to learn Spanish nouns, let me tell you!

Meanwhile, in the back seat, Jerry was counting them, telling me they had flown away, asking for the Splenda, and if I had a trash can in the car. And my neck was turning redder and redder and the upholstery in my car was getting a hot dousing. So was sweet Maria!

When I did finally make it to the building, Glenn was moments away from phoning the police, Bonny started pulling out essential oils for the stings (What a handy girl she is!), and Emily’s boys who were doing their school work at the table opposite us were wide-eyed at the commotion that was going on in two languages! (Home schoolers never really know what the subject matter for the day may be!) Thunder claps punctuated the excitement and the rain began to come in torrents about this time. Could something good please happen about now?

This was a day…a time, that really needed redemption…