Browsing Tag

Baptism

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

A Little Good News!

I don’t know about you, but it’s a temptation for me to fail to count the blessings when the schedule is overrun with things I’d rather not be doing. But, when I go to God in the hard times, it becomes obvious to me that there are no fewer blessings in the hard times than there were in the good times. God’s still present. He is still doing what He has always done for me–sustaining and making me lie down in the green pastures…restoring my soul. Sometimes, it’s even obvious to me that He grabs my most arrested view of His mercies when I am drowning in conflicts and commitments.

A few months back, you and I wrote letters of encouragement to Christians in a struggling Vermont congregation. When we finished, we got the great news that Sally Bristol had obeyed the gospel. We’d been praying for growth in that church and God was answering and giving the increase. We praised Him and we wrote Sally letters of encouragement. Remember Sally?

Roger on the left and (preacher) Jason Floyd on the right.

Well, the gospel is powerful and now, after almost two years, Sally’s son, Roger Bourne, Jr.,  has given his life to Christ in baptism and he, too, has risen to walk a new and blessed life! Praise God with me today as He is still hearing and answering. I believe Roger is the second of two men who have been baptized in recent weeks. If you’d like to send a card to Roger, or even another one to Sally, you may do so at this address:

℅ church of Christ

 524 South St

 Bennington, VT 05201

You may want to encourage the local preacher Jason Floyd and His wife Sarah, as well. Sometimes, those of us in areas with several and large churches forget the enormity of the struggle in cold and sparsely “Christian-populated” places like Vermont. I am traveling to New Hampshire in a couple of weeks to speak to ladies and I can tell you, they are eager for fellowship and learning from the Word. I can’t wait. I know they will bless and encourage me in their zeal and faith.

And, as always, if your kids helped you encourage this church a couple of years back, be sure you show them the newest Bennington brother! Maybe they will want to write again! Here’s the link to read about the baptisms: https://www.facebook.com/214031105408084/posts/2826593250818510/?sfnsn=mo

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Colleys! We wish you …

  1. Time in the Word. Our lives will all be better, richer, more holy, more hopeful if we can all spend lots of time studying the roadmap to eternal bliss. The bliss starts now in lots of ways for those who choose searching out and doing life His way. Anger, bitterness, regret and loneliness  start now, too, for those who know His will and choose, over and over, to reject it. Open the book in 2022!
  2. The heart of a child. There’s joy in little things for those who are open to changing for Him and who are still wanting to “grow up and be…” Choose to forgive. Choose to forget. Choose to dream. Choose to change in all the right ways. 
  3. Health and energy for your challenges. There are some things over which you have no control. Sometimes life blindsides us. We pray calm and peace for those who are connected to our family in Him this year. But when you have “those days” (and maybe weeks or months), we pray that God will give you an extra measure of strength and patience to bear the load. He is good like that!
  4. Obedience to His gospel. No matter the reason you’ve never been washed in immersion and added to his one church, put that reason away. Make the trip to see me and let’s talk. Let’s make now the time. Some readers have been wanting to make this most important change for a long time. You cannot even know the feeling you will have of freedom and hope and family if you choose this washing and future faithfulness. I can help you find a group of His people who are following His specified New Testament plan in your corner of the world. I can help you from afar to be faithful and to be in heaven one day. It’s really all that matters! Take the plunge–in a literal way–now!
  5. A Matthew 25 mission. “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me.” For us, this has been the year of skipped vacations, missed outings to the catfish restaurant with friends, postponed husband/wife dates and missed movie nights. When it’s Christmastime at the Colleys and “It’s a Wonderful Life” never happened on our screen, something was terribly awry. But, for every missed appointment, there’s been someone who is least, who needed us. Do you know what a blessing that is?! Jesus has been right here with us and we have had the most amazing privilege of doing something for Him! Choose to “wash the feet” of the one who girded the towel in that upper room! You will not find joy like that in any other way. And when you just can’t go on serving, drink a cup of caffeinated something and go a little bit more!

If you can unwrap and treasure these five things, clean up that Christmas mess, hug your loved ones tightly and move on with hope to 2022, it will have been a great Christmas. Play with your new drone, make a cake with your new red mixer, marry that Christian man-of-your-dreams who gave you that new ring for Christmas, do whatever it is you do with that antique wooden mechanism that you can’t even identify, or step out in those new leather riding boots. Play with the little (and big) things you unwrapped. But pray with the big, eternal gifts you are unwrapping and internalizing as this challenging year comes to its close. We pray His peace for you. But remember, peace doesn’t always come in a quiet place with candles and soft music. Jesus said “My peace I leave with you” (along with a promise of persecution and suffering) to 12 men who were being given the biggest commission ever known to mankind (John 14).

Merry Christmas from the Colleys!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mariah…New Lyrics in Her Life’s Song!

Walking through the secretary’s office to my husband’s office a few Sundays ago, I noticed a visitor’s card on the desk. I’d been seeing this pretty young mom come in with a tiny toddler, a beautiful little girl named Lyric. They’d sit on the very front row and the baby was as close to perfectly behaved as they come. I finally got the chance to meet Mariah on a Wednesday night and told her I’d love to study the Bible with her and answer any questions she might have about the church. I gave her a card with my name and contact info. She thanked me and I really wasn’t at all sure I would ever get the chance to have that conversation. 

But there, on the office desk, on the card she’d filled out, was a big check mark on the box: “I’d like to become a member of this church.” Her full name and phone number were right there on the card. So I texted Mariah. She quickly responded that she’d like to study together. I got that great blessing among all relationship blessings: to study the plan of salvation with Mariah. We studied that  gift of grace whereby we are saved, and how we receive it, at length in our first study together. 

The best day of Mariah’s life came sooner than I expected. On the second of our study times together, she asked a simple question—one that’s been at the center of religious confusion in ”Christendom” for many years: “Whenever I am baptized, can it be true that I will always be saved, no matter what I might do?” 

As you can imagine, I saw a huge door opening, and together we walked through that door to passages like Acts 8, where we discussed a man named Simon, who clearly was saved and only a short time later was told he must repent and pray for forgiveness, lest he should perish. We talked about how that Paul, himself, even acknowledged the possibility that he could be a castaway from the faith (1 Corinthians 9:27). We looked at the first half of Romans 6 and how that powerful exhortations and warnings were given to Christians about abstaining from sin. Conversely, then, we examined the scriptures to give Mariah comfort in the knowledge that, as long as she offers God her best, walking in the light, the blood will continually cleanse her soul (1 John 1:7), making her constantly ready to meet the Lord. 

As I got ready to pray with Mariah before she left the little office that day, I asked if she had any more questions I should think about before our next meeting. She said “Yes. There is one more thing. What do I do to be baptized. I know I should do that.” 

I asked her, then, to tell me why she’d like to be baptized. Her answer did not take a lot of thought at this point:  “I need to die to sin. I need to put on Christ, to be a Christian. I need to be washed.” Those, of course, are perfect answers from Romans 6, Galatians 3 and Acts 22.  

I then asked her a very sober question: “Mariah, if you were to die before this baptism, what would happen to your soul.” 

She answered, “I would be lost.” 

It was a short conversation then about all of the reasons that, once a person knows the gospel, NOW is the time to be washed. We quickly went and retrieved my favorite preacher from his own Bible study, found a sweet mama to watch little Lyric, spent a minute in the changing room and Glenn immersed Mariah, after she sweetened her lips with the great confession of faith in the Christ. It was among the sweetest wet hugs ever, and that night, I took Mariah to the sweet communion table with Jesus himself. It was a great Sunday!

Well, I had a taping for Digging Deep that day, and I was driving to Florida that evening to help with grandchildren. I had to pack, study a little for the recording and try and cook a meal for my husband to carry to some aged people who were counting on me. But none of that mattered anymore. When a person gets to see salvation—up-close-and-personal— when she gets to be the wet babe-in-Christ hugger, it just precludes, excludes, and disseminates all stress from that day. I sat on the front pew with Mariah and Lyric that Sunday night and I cherished the thought that sweet, tiny, Lyric will never have to know a moment when she does not have a mother of faith guiding her sweet soul to the throne room of the great Redeemer. 

As we found a quiet place to give thanks after the baptism, my husband said to Mariah, “You are just as washed–just as much a Christian–as anyone in this church.”

I praise Him! I can never be a savior. I cannot redeem. I cannot purchase one single soul. I am, in fact, as helplessly, hopelessly lost without Calvary as any person with whom I ever get the opportunity to study. (Some days I just know that, except for the cross, I’m the most lost of all.)  But every time I get even the possible chance to be the wet-babe hugger, I want to be there. Those are the best moments of life, because they reach into eternity. May God give us the courage to just say, text or write the words “Can we study together?” It takes a moment of faith that even someone as weak as Cindy Colley can muster, but, every now and again it might, because of Calvary, start a chain of events that leads to eternity with Him. 

If you’d like to encourage Mariah, that would be a capital idea:

Mariah     
℅ West Huntsville church of Christ     
1519 Old Monrovia Road
Huntsville, AL 35806

And, by all means, keep her in your prayers. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Opposite Directions

 

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Today I’m traveling south and east to get my arms around some pretty sweet grandchildren, one of which is just under two weeks old. Since tomorrow night’s the podcast and I’ll be doing it live and remotely from a distant location I feel like I’m almost moving mountains to make this trip. 

We are the sandwich generation, so my husband is traveling west and north to do some much needed tasks for elderly parents. He’s moving mountains, too (or at least trying to) after a very long time of their inaccessibility to groceries (and almost everything else) because of extreme cold and ice coverage in their area. 

So last night after worship, we parted, Glenn and I, and began making miles in the exact opposite directions from one another to give hugs to people we love who are at the exact opposites of the spectrum of life. For a good bit of this week, we will be about 12 hours apart from one another. 

When God says he removes my sins and casts them from me as far as the east is from the west, that’s profound. I move, in human increments, as best I can, TOWARD God and my sins are moved in divinely amazing proportions BY God to a far away and irretrievable place in the opposite direction of the one in which I am moving. 

Earlier in the day yesterday, I had a chance to study with a young woman I’m growing to love very much. She asked me about her sins. “When God forgives me, is it impossible for me to ever be lost again? Am I permanently saved?” We went through passages that teach us what to do about sin after the original east-west casting done by God. We talked about Bible characters who did sin impenitently and rebelliously after baptism and what was required for their restoration and subsequent salvation. But we also talked about the continual comfort of 1 John 1:7 for those baptized believers who are walking in the light (doing diligence to be followers of Christ: 

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

I explained to her how that the word for “cleansing” here is a verb of continuation. It means “keeps on cleansing.” She got that and she loved it. 

I asked her if she had other questions about the gospel she’s learned in recent days. She said 

“Yes, I have one more….Like, how can I be baptized…because I know I need to.” 

I asked her to explain to me her reasons for wanting to be baptized. She had a little list in her heart. 

“To be born again, to be dead to sin, to be washed from sin, to be saved.” 

I spent the night (or part of it anyway) in a hotel room near Atlanta, Georgia. And I slept soundly with a very grateful heart for the waters of baptism that washed away my friend’s sins yesterday…that removed them from her, as far as the east is from the west. I spoke with three sisters at West Huntsville who are going to check on her while I’m in Florida this week. One of them already invited her to our local Digging Deep study which happens tonight. On this, her first full day of being a Christian, I am praying very hard for her. Yesterday was the best day of her life. But the devil loves to give big challenges to those who are babies in the Lord. 

I’m so glad we serve a God who can put sin wherever he wants it to be; and, barring my choice to be close to sin again, He can keep its guilt far, far away from me…as far as the east is from the west. 

I’m going to spend a few miles today praising Him for this game-changing reality!

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.