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Baptism

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Bennington, Vermont: You Did More than You Know!

God can take a little and make a lot. Remember back in the very beginning of what we thought would be a short Covid season, when we tried to encourage that little church in Bennington, Vermont?  Well, it’s their turn to encourage us and they are doing that now in a powerful way!

Back in the spring we heard, from Sarah Floyd, the preacher’s wife at this small congregation, that members were struggling. A difficult mission field in any season, it became particularly difficult for the little group at Bennington church of Christ to remain cohesive and encouraged as meeting together and blessing each other with fellowship became more difficult. Some were having health issues and others were new Christians. Younger members were feeling isolated and funds were often in short supply. 

Lots of you sent cards, just to encourage them. As the minister, Jason Floyd (shown here), explained to me, he and his wife, Sarah, became a mini post office for a while there, unpacking boxes of your letters and making deliveries to the homes of the various members who are spread out over a large area around Bennington. The Floyds covered a lot of miles as they, and perhaps others,  hand-delivered your encouragement to the members. 

On one of those runs, Jason met a house guest of one of the families which attends the congregation. She answered the door when Jason delivered your mail. As Christians do, Jason engaged this lady, whose name is Sally Bristol, in conversation, which eventually resulted in a Bible study, and another and another…

Yesterday, this lady put on the Lord in baptism (Gal. 3:27) and became your sister in Christ! Our little cards helped, in a teeny, but important way, to produce something that was beyond what we had asked or imagined, according to His power that is working within us and especially is at work in Jason (Eph.3:20). If you were among the many who sent cards to encourage this family of His people, I hope you will bow before the throne and praise Him for using those little cards as tools of evangelism even when we were unaware of that occurrence. He is so good and His word is exceedingly powerful. I hope this baptism will make you want to continue to offer support to mission work and keep sending cards when you see those in God’s family struggling. I hope it will make you believe even more strongly in His providence for us as we pray for the gospel’s full effect on lives we may reach, even across hundreds of miles. It is doing all of that to my heart!

You might even want to take the time to drop Ms. Sally a note to let her know that you are praying for her life in Him and for continued influence for good as she now has a chance to take the message to others. You can send it to this address:

Sally Bristol

℅ church of Christ

 524 South St

 Bennington, VT 05201

And, if you have children who helped make the cards, be sure to tell them about this amazing day that THEY helped facilitate! Visible results of service projects WILL appear and they do wonders in growing the faith of kids.

What a glorious God we serve! I praise Him today in the words of the Spirit through Paul: 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph.3:20,21)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“She did not wash away her sins…”

Tonight,Maggie, my grand-daughter who just turned two, prayed that “Mammy will be baptized so her sins can be washed away.”

Her mother told her immediately that “Mammy has already been baptized.” Apparently she thinks my sins are still there because she replied “ But she did not wash away her sins.” 

When you are two, it’s a big and daunting theological world. When you are 61, it is even more complicated and daunting. When you are two, you cannot understand exactly what’s washed away in that water. When you are 61, you can’t understand how. When you are two, you’re afraid of the water. When you are 61, you are afraid of challenges of the path you walk after the water (Romans 6:4). Maggie is two and she can’t wait to be baptized “to wash away your sins” that do not yet exist. I’m 61, and I just praise Him ceaselessly for the constant washing of sins that I wish did not exist (1 John 1:7). 

I’m so thankful Maggie’s parents are putting the Word in her diligently and directionally. This week she’s told me about the father of the twelve tribes, the faith of Rahab, the man in the big fish and the one in the lion’s den, the small man in the Sycamore tree and the apostle to the Jews and the one to the Gentiles. I’ve heard her say the books of the New Testament from Matthew to Colossians and I’ve heard her talk about Moses the lawgiver and Jesus, the triumphant Savior, as he rode over palm branches and heard the words “Hosanna in the highest.”  The biggest blessing of spending a week with their little family has been watching their sweet family Bible time. Tonight was a scavenger hunt outside finding and praising God for the items on the Creation cards from Apologetics Press (https://store.apologeticspress.org/products/apcmst001). There have been various games and challenges, lots of laughter and reverent prayers at least five times each day. 

When I look into those big brown eyes and think about the world in which Maggie will grow up, I am profoundly grateful for her mother and daddy; for the church of which they are a part in their community —an eldership and a body that supports their family in the greatest ministry on earth. Most of all, I’m so thankful for the great gift of the Holy Spirit: the Word, that we open each day to find the keys to victorious living in a spiritually war-torn world.  As Maggie, said her “Bible words” for this week, I reflected on how very central they are to the work her family is striving to do in the Lord’s church. She really summarized the plea that encompasses their work:

“He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7).

May Maggie always hear with child-like faith what the precious Holy Spirit says to the churches!

I love you, Mags, and I am already missing you! Let’s talk on the phone.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Take it to the Porch!

I had a bunch of people over for supper Friday night….I mean a bunch. Sometimes people refer to this night as “Christmas at the Colleys”, but it’s more like “Christmas FOR the Colleys” because it’s a whole lot of fun and merriment and we are the ones who get a huge blessing from being around our family in Him. Some of today’s most faithful servants for Him were in our house last Friday night. Children brought me little bags of homemade goodness, candles, or ornaments, there was lots of food and laughter and there was even football in the yard. 

But sometimes on this week, we’re a little preoccupied with prep (or even clean-up) and I’m distracted. It was the week I wore my sweater to worship inside out (big tag hanging from my hip and no-one told me till the very end. (…Though I was sitting on the second row. Of course, I was. You have to parade when your tag is dangling.) It was the week Glenn got home from the drive-through with my sandwich…only there was no sandwich for me in that bag. This party prep included old-fashioned glass bottles of Coca-Cola rolling out the back of my SUV onto my driveway and breaking explosively…on three different days. It included the squirrel that went berserk inside our house (https://thecolleyhouse.org/and-prior-to-the-lesson-this-morning). And yesterday, we went to take communion to the nursing home sisters…only we forgot to bring along the communion. 

On the very last day—the day of the party— I was unquestionably out of room. I was out of room in the freezer, the refrigerator, and the countertops. Even more urgently, though, the food that was on the countertop had to find a home in refrigerator temperatures or it would perish. That’s why we call certain foods perishable. Thankfully God had provided a place of refrigerator temperatures; a place where the food could be saved. That place was, of course, the great outdoors. My screened in porch became the food-saving place that day. 

I know it’s a simple analogy, but work with me here. I started carrying food from the counter toward the porch. Just before I got to the porch, I passed a big, long, empty farm table. There was plenty of room there for all the pies and casseroles. My countertop would be free if I set them all on the table. I would not have to go out in the cold. I would save a few steps. My dining room would not get cold. I would not have to lug it all back in later. So many reasons to just move the food from counter to tabletop. But there was one BIG reason why I could not stop short of the porch. The porch was the place where the conditions were perfect for the preservation of the food. It was the place where food would not perish. Further, once I got the food just outside the place of perishing and just inside the place of salvation, I had to close the door. I had to keep the warmth that was in my house from heating up the porch. I had to keep that food in a place that was separate from the place from which it had come. Mixing the two temperatures would have cause the food to perish; to be unclean. I’m sure, to this point, I’ve not shared any light-bulb concept with you. 

But there’s a spiritual lesson here. Has not God provided a place where souls can be saved? Has He given us a place where we can be separated from the uncleanness that makes us perish? Is it okay to stop short of the entrance to that place, although there may be an alternative that seems good for many reasons. If I have moved toward that “porch door,” but not yet walked through it, am I in the place where the conditions are right for salvation or am I still in the place of perishing?  Am I in the place of the saving element? Succinctly, if I’ve not passed through the door, am I saved? 

I want to add, without commentary, the words of the Holy Spirit about that place…a place where the conditions are right for soul preservation. We understand that the porch door is very important when I’m in my dining room with perishables. How much more important is the door when the perishable is my soul? 

He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who believes not will perish…Mark 16: 16.

Baptism does also now save us…1 Peter 3:21.

Arise and be baptized, washing away your sins…Acts 22:16

Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized, were baptized into his death…Romans 6:3

As many of you as have been baptized, have put on Christ…Galatians 3:27

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins…Acts 2:38.

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses…Colossians 2:12, 13

Some have said to me “But, Cindy Colley, you overemphasize baptism.”  

When you read the words in italics above, can you honestly think that anyone could over-emphasize the importance of baptism? Is it possible to attach too much significance to the place of preservation…of souls? 

“But what about all the other things we have have to do? They’re important, too.”

Yes they are. It was important to clear my counter. It was important to lug each pie and casserole through the dining room. It was important to grab the knob and swing the door open. I could not get to the place of preservation without doing all those things. But unless I got the food into the place of preservation, the contaminants would have compromised the food and (I can tell you for sure) we would not have eaten that food on Friday night. I did some pretty daft things through the week, but that was one thing I was going to make sure I did right. (And, by the way, if it had been hot outside on Friday, I’d have found a neighbor with freezer space. You just don’t take chances with food preservation!)

In life, we will get distracted. We will do some pretty daft things when under the gun. But we’d better get this one thing right. Being on the spiritual porch is being “in Christ.” That’s where spiritual preservation is (Ephesians 1: 3, 7), and the door to the spiritual porch—to being in Christ—is baptism (Romans 6:3,4). 

I’d sure love to help you get to the porch. God’s given every one of us the porch door. And there’s a family of wonderful people waiting for you on the porch!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Joy of a Newborn!

The Ethiopian treasurer went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8: 39). His exposure and obedience to the gospel had given Him multiple reasons for this joy. I cannot imagine his going much farther on his journey without sharing the good news about salvation in the washing of baptism with someone else who needed to know. 

I’ve been reminded in the past few weeks of the overwhelming joy that’s natural for the newly-washed Christian to exhibit. Kiki was baptized about three weeks ago.You can read her conversion story here: https://thecolleyhouse.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=11693&action=edit . She is now spending a lot of time with my daughter, Hannah, in Columbus, Georgia. In the park last week as they were pushing their children in the swings, Kiki spoke openly of her faith, asking Bible questions and drinking in the scriptural answers. In fact, the Biblical discussion was so open that the grandmother pushing a nearby swing asked them about “what church” they were speaking. Kiki was the one who responded without reservation and without timidity.

“Oh, you need to know about this church! I cannot believe this church is not huge, because everyone who visits will recognize that they just teach the Bible. Every question is answered with scripture. The preacher and his wife take time for everybody who wants to study. They have Bible studies in their homes and everyone in this church is welcoming and makes you feel like you’re a part of a family. I am so happy I have found this place!” She said all of this as she was writing down the address of the meeting place on a piece of paper to give to this lady. It turns out this grandmother was baby-sitting for her children who were moving to the area and looking for a church.

I’m sure my daughter could have directed her to the building, but would her recommendation, as the preacher’s wife at the church, have been as objective and well-received as this amazing endorsement from a new Christian? I doubt it could compare. 

Then a few days later, my daughter and Kiki were sitting in a Chik-Fila, when in walked another lady who had visited the same seminar which first introduced Kiki to the church. Coincidentally, she sat at the table next to Hannah and Kiki. Hannah recognized her and began to engage her in conversation, but it was Kiki who immediately jumped in…

“Well, yes. I was at that same seminar where you were and, let me tell you, I am so thankful I saw that seminar on Facebook. It has changed our lives. We are having Family Bible Time. We are studying our Bibles and we have been baptized for the remission of our sins. We are changed people because of that day.” An appointment was made right then for this lady to meet with Hannah and her husband, Ben, later that day in their home. 

I’m saying this: The enthusiasm of a new Christian, when the commitment is real and the change is palpable, is worth more to the cause of Christ than some of our gospel meetings and evangelism classes, especially when paired with the partnership of a sister (or family) who is committed to encouraging and answering questions for the babies in the Lord!

I’m convicted that I need to restore the joy of my salvation (Psalm 51:12) again and again. I’m praying tonight that God will help me have the heart of Kiki, who has changed her focus, her family, and her faith. All three have been directed upward toward eternity with Him and outward with a passion for telling others about what she has found. May I keep that fire in my bones (Jeremiah 20:9)!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: “Mammy, I want to tell you…”

Ezra, my 4-year-old grandson, just called to tell me about the baptisms that are occurring tonight after a Bible study that his parents have been conducting with a couple that visited the marriage seminar at Edgewood recently. This is blessing my world tonight in so many ways and on so many levels. 

The obvious and most important is that two souls are being washed tonight. Two precious souls added to the body of Christ. Two souls saved by the mercy of God and the blood of Jesus (Romans 6:1-4)

The second reason that what’s happening right now is pivotal is that these two people being baptized are parents of very small children. That means that these kids, from this night forward, will be parented by intentional, devoted Christians—people who are directing them with eternity always in the forefront. It means that whatever brokenness or spiritual poverty may have existed in the former generations, no longer has to exist. Tonight is the forging of the first link in a chain that can be unbroken—each generation forging its own link and each generation guiding the next to faithfulness. These small children will never have to remember a time when their parents were walking away from the Lord. 

The third thing that’s wonderful is that I’m basking in the joy that a mother gets in knowing the next generation is evangelistic. It’s not always easy and pretty to be conducting Bible studies with a two-year-old and a four-year-old in tow. It’s not always easy to offer hospitality, to make sure that your children and those who belong to the ones who are hungering for the gospel are quiet enough, so that concentration on truth can occur in the next room. It’s not always easy, but it is always eternally gratifying. 

And that’s the part that makes a grandmother’s heart sing: “Mammy, this is Ezwa…. I want to tell you that Mrs. Kiki and Mr. Lavardo and Jo-Jo and all of them are going to get to go to heaven now. Dey WEALLY are. It’s because I been so good to dem and Cohweenanna has, too. We been teachin’ dem about God. Dey have already been baptized tonight.” 

Well, you and I know that they will not go to heaven because Hannah and Ben’s son has been good to them. They will, just like you and me, get to go to heaven because God’s Son has been so good to them. All the same, I’m happy that Hannah and Ben are putting joy into Ezra and Colleyanna when souls are reached with this good news. I’m glad she is showing them that they can have a part in someone coming to know the Lord. I hope they will get to experience this ultimate bliss over and over in their lives.  

It is ultimate bliss for this lifetime. Only heaven can be better than this. 

Tomorrow, I am going to go and teach women lessons from Titus 2. Because of tonight’s little four-year-old testimony of the power of parenthood, I’m going to speak the truths about motherhood with a little more conviction…perhaps with a little more clarity. The future of the body of Christ is dependent on what parents are putting into the hearts of their children. I’m so thankful for parents who are serious about the transferral of their families to that eternal home around the throne. And I’m supremely grateful for that sweet couple in Georgia who woke up this morning in an unwashed and lost state. Tonight, they are going to bed washed and heaven-bound. What blessed children will be sleeping down the hall from them!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

For the Diggers: Have You Had this Surgery?

We should really be careful not to talk about any particular avenue of salvation as ” _________only” salvation; like “I’m saved by faith only” or “I’m saved by baptism alone”.  Biblically there are a number of saving elements–things without which salvation just cannot occur. There are senses in which we are saved by the blood, grace, faith, baptism, the Savior, the cross,  the truth, the Word, repentance, belief, God, Christ, His eternal purpose, His church, mercy, and our own free will or choices. And that list is not exhaustive.

Some have requested the lists of verses given on the last podcast about how we are saved by the truth or the Word of God. (That was question #7.) Here they are:

John 17:17

Romans 10:13-17

2 Timothy 3:15-17

Ephesians 1:3

2 Thessalonians 2: 14-17

Romans 1:16

I Thessalonians 2:13

Corinthians 1:17-18

James 1:21-22

1 Peter 2:2-3

John 8:31-32

Ephesians 1:12-13

Colossians 1:5

Also requested were the passages from number ten. Although we should be careful not to say we are saved by any of the above elements alone or only, we can surely appropriately say that we cannot be saved without faith, or without grace or without baptism, etc…

But there is just one thing, on this list of things that saves us, that is the exact point of the washing from sins…the point at which I bury the man of sin and rise to walk with Christ. Here’s the list of  verses we gave about the point at which the washing of sins occurs:

1 Peter 3:21

Acts 22:16

Romans 6:3,4

Galatians 3:27

Acts 2:38

Mark 16:16

Ephesians 6:26

Hebrews 10:22

John 3:5

Acts 2:41

Matthew 28:28

1 Corinthians 6:11

Ephesians 1:7; 2:13

1 John 1:7

Colossians 1:14; 2:12

Romans 3:24,25

Titus 3:15; 2:14

Colossians 2:12 pictures God as the surgeon and  baptism as the operation. If I can look at myself as the patient in the operating room, I can more readily understand that there is a point (baptism) at which God performs the surgery. At this point, all trespasses are removed (verse 14). When I submit to His surgery, I am not “saving myself” or “working” to earn salvation.  The surgery is His free gift and His work. I am simply laying down on his table in gratitude to Him for performing the operation without which I cannot be saved.

I hope this is helpful and, more, I hope if there is one reading with whom I could study and/or for whom I could pray about salvation, that you would be sure to contact me. That is the thing for which there must/will always be time in my life. I know there’s a legion of women who are digging deep who live for chances to share the Word!