Browsing Tag

Evangelism

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Three Doors

14481964_10153793830326384_7614171791050123724_oThese days, my siblings and I are spending more time than ever at my Dad’s house in Jacksonville, Alabama. I love being there, though the stretches away from hearth and home and husband make me wish I could be in two places at once. And there’s Waffle House. I love the way the servers (Dad calls them “nurses”….He has always called waitresses “nurses”.) are so very attentive to him. They start cooking his meal and setting his steaming coffee on the table when they see our car drive up. They open every little plastic container of creamer or jelly for him when they bring them to the table, knowing that his arthritic hands have difficulty pulling the tiny tabs to open them. Like I said, there’s lots to love about that kind of service. And the food is good…once…or twice…or even three times a week. But that many times a day is a bit much for my palate, not to mention my calorie count. 

Still, it’s not really about me at this stage. It’s about taking him where he would go all by himself, if he could, since we are really trying hard to get him not to be going places all by himself. It’s about a lot more than food these days. Sitting by the window in Waffle House watching the JSU world revolve outside the window with my sweet 94-year-old father is capital fun for me. We watch kids walking dogs and policemen pulling over cars and reflections of what all’s happening at the Grub Mart in the back glass. I show him pictures of his great grandchildren on my phone and he marvels at all the game scores, driving distances and names of famous athletes that I can call to his memory by a simple search on such a small device. The man who waited for the automobile to become a common mode of transportation marvels as I explain to him what exactly is a podcast and how women can interact during a podcast discussion—women from all over the world. 

So last Wednesday morning as he laboriously climbed the stairs at the entrance of Waffle House, I noticed a middle-aged lady holding the door open for my father. I smiled at her and thanked her for waiting patiently as he approached the door. She looked at my dad and said “Well, today I’ve already eaten, so I won’t get to eat my breakfast with you. But I hope you have a good one!”

I said, “:”Sounds like you’ve met Dad before…”

She responded “Sure did. I ate breakfast with him the other day and I told him ‘Your money’s no good with me!”

I thanked her for being so kind—to share a meal with him and then buy his breakfast. As he ambled on in, she said “Well, I enjoyed it. But really, on that day, I just thought about “what would Jesus do?…What would he want me to do?…and I decided He’s want me to do something good for a sweet elderly man.”

At that moment, I knew that there was more than one open door at the Waffle House. so I took the conversation to the next level: “That’s just so kind of you. I love my Jesus and I love to study the Bible. In fact…” At that point I went on to tell her about Digging Deep, and our study this year about types and shadows. I told her that I would love for her to join us and that my favorite thing to do is to study the Bible with people. I asked her if she would think about joining our group and even studying with me personally. “I’m all about Bible Study…”

“I sure will!” she said. “Stuff like this doesn’t happen by accident,” she went on, as I gave her my card with contact information. “I’ll be looking you up!”

Two doors were open. She thought she’d hold open a glass door for my father to walk through. She really was holding a golden door of opportunity open for me. I’m glad I could walk through it. I’m glad I had my wallet with that card to hand her. I’m thankful for His Providence at this moment and so many others. 

I’m not sure I believe that nothing happens by accident. But I do believe He is constantly orchestrating events to work for the good of His people (Romans 8:28). I hope she’ll pursue her opportunity now. I hope she’ll knock, so her door, too, can be opened (Matthew 7:7).

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

She Facebooked her Friends and said “Rejoice with Me!…

unnamed-5

…for I have found the piece which was lost!”

Several sisters have asked about the lost dress. Facebook can be a huge umbrella of encouragement even in the mundane.  I know life’s not all about finding Cindy Colley’s heirloom dress, of all things, but I was truly humbled and amazed that so many of you cheered us on as we searched for and found a little dress that I very much wanted to put on BabyG2 next September.  Hundreds of you (literally) and many that I’ve never met have been the sweetest sisters a woman could ever have. I love Facebook for giving your encouragement to me. 

The dress was deep in a closet at Hannah’s (my daughter’s) house. It was in a garment bag hiding behind her wedding dress, which was in the back of that closet in another very huge garment bag. The funny thing was, I had everyone looking for a pink box in which I’d originally wrapped that dress for the gender reveal two years ago…the gender reveal that turned out to be for a boy. Thus, the dress was never opened at the reveal. 

What I had forgotten was that the dress had been removed from the box and used as an illustration at a ladies day in Middle Tennessee a few months after that reveal…the very weekend, in fact, that Ezra was due. (Thus the reason it never got out of my car at my house….It just went straight to Hannah’s house and got hung in a closet there because hospital luggage is not conducive to dress preservation.) That’s just where Facebook became very helpful. You found out I was looking and three of you remembered the dress. You identified where you saw it and the garment bag in which it had left the church building at East Main. In turn, I told my son Caleb (via his Facebook page) to stop looking for a box and start looking for a garment bag. Truth be told, I don’t think he’d done a whole lot of looking for either. (He’s a good egg, though.) But Hannah, being the faithful Facebook follower that she is, immediately saw that post about looking for garment bags. She had moved all the hanging clothes in that closet more than once, laid them on the bed and searched the back of that closet for a box. But this time, she rushed home and actually looked through those clothes she’d been moving  back and forth. She looked for a black garment bag. She found the dress and tried to call me…twice. Unable to reach me, she called her Daddy, who got in the car and drove across town with photos on his phone to spread the cheer.

When he walked in the kitchen door in the middle of last Tuesday, I was surprised to see him. 

“What would you give a man…?” he began. 

“You found my dress??!!”

“I think so. But what would you give a man?…Is this the dress?” He offered his phone and a series of photos.

“You found my dress!!!!” 

“Yes and you should call your daughter on that phone that I don’t even know why I pay for.…She wants to hear from you.”

******************************************************

There are always lessons, of course. Here they are:

  1. If Facebook can find a lost dress, surely we can connect some dots and find some lost souls, too. Facebook is a more personal and encompassing kind of outreach than email or USPS. It’s the kind of networking in which you never know if a click that posts or comments may be the click that does click with some lost soul and opens a door to a relationship, a study, an invitation that could result in a saved soul.
  2. Facebook is a neutral commodity. You get to decide whether your use of it is for the Lord or for the devil. Now, finding a dress is not a work of the Lord. But encouraging each other, as Facebook friends did (and do regularly for me) through this medium, is a great way to get the most good out of something the devil loves to control.
  3. You’re never going to find what you’re looking for if you’re looking where it’s not. That dress was not in all those absurd places (like on top of way-up-there kitchen cabinet and in overflowing trunks where I would have never crushed that batiste and damp basement corners) where I was looking. Sometimes life is like that. We can’t find contentment. We look in all those hard-to-do absurd places instead of the obvious place where the “owner” of truth has put it in the first place. 
  4. You may be own, be picking up, carrying, and moving about the answer to all your dilemmas. But until you recognize that, open it up and really look inside, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Hannah did that with that garment bag. She moved it over and over as she looked other places, to no avail. That’s what we do with our Bibles. We lay them on the table beside our beds. We pick them back up and take them to worship. Sometimes we move them back and forth and back and forth without ever really opening and examining them. We move the book, but we don’t meditate on it, memorize it or mark it. There are many people who own a Bible but do not own truth. It’s very important that we show our kids the difference. The Bible is not a lucky amulet. It’s what’s inside that can bring us joy. But that joy exists for me only when what’s inside the book gets inside of me. Hannah had a garment bag that she was transferring mindlessly back and forth, while what was inside eluded us all. 
  5. Some people are so close to what they really want, but just not quite there. Jesus told a scribe as much in Mark 12:34. “You are not far from the kingdom,” Jesus said. I have many friends who are close to the kingdom. I hurt for them because, of  course, being close to the kingdom of God is not enough. Hannah was near that dress we were hunting each time we talked about it on the phone. It was sometimes right there in the same room with her. Close is not good enough. We have to give people the information they need to identify that for which they search. 
  6. Some news is so good, you want to personally deliver it. I love that about my husband. He loves to bring joy…not just to me, but to everyone in all circumstances. We have the very best news of all. When we understand the wretchedness of that from which the good news— the gospel—rescues people, we can’t be stopped. We are going to those people. We will move heaven and earth to reach them with the good news. In fact Heaven has already moved that they might have this good news. It’s up to us to make the move on earth. We simply must. We are going to tell them that we’ve found that for which they are searching. 
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

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.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

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 ddprayers2015@gmail.com. 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 www.seminar.westhuntsville.org. 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!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

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.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Another Chance (part 4)

11902329_10153223400334069_4584303358887639646_n11934957_10153223401374069_98564377511046029_n(Digging Deep t-shirts! Five more days to order at www.thecolleyhouse.org. (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: seminar.westhuntsville.org/.)

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…