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Evangelism

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

MAMA’S K.I.S.S. #56: Third World Mission Trip

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 54 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

Our children are, quite simply, growing up in an era and (for those reading in the USA, in a part of the world) in which they have way too much; way too much money, way too much access to media, and way too many material wishes granted.

Our kids are, on the other hand, growing up with way too little; too little restraint, too little discipline and too little responsible parental guidance. 

When our daughter was about fourteen years old, she and I traveled together on our first  foreign mission trip to New Zealand. The trip was one in which we worked very hard and I was extremely grateful for the chance to teach ladies from all over that country. Certainly one of the best aspects of the trip was that I had Hannah along and she was able to present lessons to the teen girls. While this was a great training trip for Hannah, she did not see poverty there and she did not experience negative receptivity to our message.

Our next trip, though, was the one for which I will always be most grateful. We traveled to Jamaica and our work was done in parts of that country in which people did live in poverty. She worked very hard for all of those days in extremely hot temperatures and on rugged terrain. The physical exertion to take the gospel was teaching her that what we were doing was important—critical, even. It was a catalyst for comparison, too; knowing that the ultimate price had already been paid by One who was also on a mission (His was from heaven.) to a place where He experienced, for the first time, dirtiness, sin, crying, persecution and death. Our price, in trouble and expense, for carrying His message, was extremely minute. 

When we returned to our middle class home in Alabama, was when I realized the full benefit (and the primary lesson) of that trip. Hannah went into her room and sat down on the floor, looked around, and cried. There was her pink bean bag chair, the multicolored lamp for which she’d asked Santa at Christmas-time, the Snoopy telephone, the cherry rope bed her Dad had built—the one with the trundle underneath for guests, and the curtains made of fabric she had chosen at the fabric store. There were two closets in that room and her own bathroom was off to the side. She sat down in the floor of that room and cried “Why me? Why am I privileged to have all of this? Why do I get to live like this when Princess lives with eight people in a room smaller than this one; a place where they sleep on shelves and they have to go outside to use the bathroom; a place where she’s never even had a hot shower?”

It was then that I knew her life had been changed. I knew she would never again be ungrateful for the material blessings in which we basked. Princess was a girl in Jamaica, the same age as Hannah. It had been a long and hot day and the older gentleman with whom Hannah had been knocking doors did not want to ascend the very steep and rugged little footpath that led up to Princess’ little shack. He, unable to see anything at the top of that little mountain, said “I am not going up that rabbit trail.” Hannah said “Well, I am going to go.”  And so, at the end of that trip, Princess, who lived at the pinnacle of  that mountain (a mountain that Hannah did need to climb), along with her young friend, Nigel, had been immersed into Christ. The life lessons about the real concept of the grace of our Prince were just being poured out by the real King into Hannah’s heart and she would never be quite the same again. 

So I urge you to do it. If you can take the opportunity to take the gospel, with your young teens, to a place where kids don’t have it as “good” as your kids have it, then do it. This might be the one segment of Mama’s K.I.S.S. that has the premier lifetime benefits among all the service suggestions. Hannah raised her funding to go by writing faithful churches and members who might be able to give small amounts toward her air flight (another great  preparation experience for “adulting” in the body of the Lord).

All of the benefits of all of the service examples in the Mama’s K.I.S.S. series are largely voided if we fail to place in our children the value of the eternal souls for which we ultimately are serving and the concept that all of our blessings belong to the One in whose grace we live both physically and spiritually; thus those blessings should be constantly used in His service for souls. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: You never know what you might find at WalMart.

This weekend, speaking for the ladies at the Arnold church in metropolitan Saint Louis, I looked down the hill and saw that the adjoining property was a busy WalMart. I commented “What a great landmark to tell folks where you’re located.” 

Later in the day, a sweet sister came to greet me. Talking about their Family Bible Time, she asked for tips about keeping a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old interested in Scripture. In this context, she explained that she’s a relatively new member of the church. 

Well, I love hearing sisters’ stories of finding the church of my Lord, so I asked the question: “How, then, did you find the church?” She said, simply, “I was shopping at WalMart.” 

“It was a Sunday and, walking in that parking lot (pointing out of the fellowship hall window to a packed parking lot at a WalMart, which shared a shopping venue with Ross and lots of other stores)—my  husband just pointed up here and said  ‘I wonder what kind of church that is up there.’”  

“I have no idea,” I responded. “But, at the time, we were very disillusioned. We knew we needed to be somewhere serving God, but we could see no connection, in any way, between the catechisms we’d memorized, the infant baptisms we’d experienced, the worship we’d been taught to give–we could see no connection between those things and the Scriptures we knew were from God. That day at WalMart, we knew we were searching, but we didn’t know what we were looking for.”

She then related that her husband said “I think I’ll just google that church.”  When he did he found this expanded mission statement: 

“The Arnold church of Christ is an un-denominational autonomous congregation of the Church one reads about in the New Testament.  We are overseen by a group of elders and strive to be Christ centered and Bible based.”  To this end we call Bible things by Bible names, and do Bible things in Bible ways. Below the mission statement was this little list:

Worship:

  • We worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) every first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
  • Each service contains Biblical teaching and preaching (Acts 2:42, Acts 20:7).
  • When we gather together the congregation unites in singing a’capella to the Father (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19).
  • Every first day of the week we give as we’ve been prospered and as we’ve set by in store (I Corinthians 16:2, II Corinthians 9:7).
  • Each service we pray to the Father through the Son (I Thessalonians 5:17, Acts 2:42).
  • During worship every Sunday we partake of the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of His sacrifice (Acts 2:42, Acts 20:7, I Corinthians 11:23-29).

Life:

  • We strive to walk in the light (I John 1:7).
  • We strife to do good unto all men, especially those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).
  • We endeavor to share the Gospel of Christ with others (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • We strive to combat sin and fight Satan daily (Ephesians 6:13-17).
  • We strive in word and deed to do all by the authority of Jesus (Colossians 3:17).

Hoping that they would find a church that really does strive to be just that church we read about in the Bible, this little family decided to make a visit to that church on the hill. So the next time they went “shopping” it was one door over from WalMart. Thrilled by the warm reception, they were interested in knowing more.  It was a couple of brothers who, upon meeting them that day, asked this couple to further study the Word of God. 

My sister continued: “At the end of the study, we just looked at each other and said ‘Well, this is what we’ve been looking for. This is what the Bible teaches. Why should we wait? Let’s do this.’” 

You never know what you  might find at WalMart! 

And you never know who’s “shopping” near your “city on the hill”.

“You are the light of the World; a city set on a hill” …Jesus Christ.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Lessons from the One that Got Away

The gospel is simply profound. Seeing the kingdom as a pearl with great value or imagining the soul in danger as a sheep that’s wandered from the flock or viewing immersion in water as the cleansing of the conscience is uncomplicated, yet ironically complex in consequence. The precepts of the gospel are elementary, yet infinitely weighty. 

So it is with the simple words Jesus said to the Galilean fishermen, as they walked away from their nets to answer the invitation that would forever change their worlds. He said to them “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

Every Christian who has ever cast a hook into the lake at sunrise has surely pondered this “fisherman” analogy while sitting quietly, patiently under a tree watching the “bobber” rhythmically move with the placid waves. I got to spend an early morning last week on the bank of Lake Guntersville.  I’d been thinking about how you don’t catch a fish every time you cast. In fact, it usually takes a lot of casting, waiting, winding, re-baiting and re-casting before you ever get a fish on the line. I considered how many contacts we have to make before we get an interested, seeking soul. I thought about how those nearby boatmen were making so much noise that, surely, the fish in this part of the lake would be driven to deeper, quieter waters. So it is with the gospel. Distractions and disturbances cause many to go the other way.

I saw about ten big turtles for every fish I saw. (Really, that lake must be a Chelonian reptile sanctuary.)  Sometimes, in evangelism, the reptiles (particularly the old snake of the garden) are so busy that the fish can’t even find the bait that is the gospel. There are just many very simple, but profound, comparisons one thinks about on the fishing bank. 

But then there was this big one (analogy and fish) that was the highlight of that morning at the lake. My husband, who wasn’t fishing, and I were quietly talking about a marriage problem in a faraway place that was on both our minds as we  texted counsel from that fishing bank. I’d been praying about it for several days and, well, I had just became absorbed in the conversation, when a very strong pull on my rod (which was in my lap) bolted me from that bench as I threw my phone at my husband, shouting  “Take this!” 

“What’s wrong?” he shouted. 

“I’m fishing! I have a fish…a big one!”  

I got to the business of giving that rod a big yank and reeling in that line for dear life. I could already see myself telling the grandchildren, my fishing buddies, about this…well… at least four pound…bass. I t was a long and energetic “reeling in” to the cheers of my supportive photographer. 

But alas, just as that fish surfaced—just above the water, giving a massive jerk, he broke my line. That line must have had a worn or weak place just above the bobber because, that’s where it broke. I wished, if that big fish was going to break my line, he could have broken it near the hook, swam away, and I could have forgotten about him. But, as it was, my bobber, floated and bobbed (with flair) all around that little peninsula on which I was sitting, for the next hour. The most disheartening thing was not even that he broke my line and got away. It was watching that bobber’s lively movements, taunting me, looking forevermore like I should be jerking and reeling, when, in reality I had no connection at all, anymore to that bobber or that big fish. I looked for a boat. Someone could put a net under that fish, still. I considered the nearby pool net. It had a long pole attached to it; but, sadly, not long enough. So I just watched my bobber, my fish, as he taunted, teased and jeered at me, still looking, for all the world, like I should be jerking and reeling and having him for supper. 

So today… Six lessons (about evangelism) from the one that got away:

  1. Even if your fish may “get away” in the end, reel with all your might. The practice will be good for you.
  2. Enlist the help of those people around you. Even if others aren’t “fishing” there’s something they can do. (Holding the phone and taking pictures was not as useful as getting a net would have been.) Help other people become fishers of men, too. (Of course, my husband is a great fisher of men. He just wasn’t a great help that morning on the bank.)
  3. Be prepared. Don’t go fishing with a line that’s inadequate for the job ahead. (Study the book, pray as if souls depended on it. They do.)
  4. Try to ignore the lively jig of the bobber after the fish has been lost. (Even the Lord said there are those who will not be “caught”; so we have to cut the losses and rebait (Mark 6:11). Don’t get discouraged by a loss. Make improvements in your “line” and try again.
  5. Don’t get enamored, involved, engrossed in the lake. My biggest temptation was to jump in there the moment the line broke and  try and grab that fish. The result, of course, would have been that I’d have gotten that lake all over me (moss, mud and all) and that fish would still be lost in the deep. That’s the way it is with the world. We can’t jump into the filth of the world in an attempt to get the “big one”. He will still get away and if we’ve jumped into sin, in the process of trying to “influence”, we will still lose the catch. But we will be dirty and full of regret.  
  6. There will always be the taunters. Tie on another hook and “cast your (line) on the other side” (John 21:6).                                                                                  
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: My Life on a Cart

Polishing the Pulpit (https://polishingthepulpit.com) is a conference for Christians, held annually in Sevierville, TN and it’s become a 5500-person fellowship/teaching event that’s unlike any other; both in great potential for the gospel’s spread and in popularity with gospel-followers. As you can guess by its name, it began as a little workshop for preachers and has developed in 25 short years to be a power-house conference (because of His power) that has meaty and practical sessions for all of God’s people. As one of the audio and video technicians, who gave his life to Christ in baptism at the end of the week said “Where can you find this many people who are just this nice?” I love that assessment.

I know the devil would love to worm his way into this event, but God’s people there, both leadership (the elders of the Jacksonville church of Christ) and attendees, are determined to keep a sound and unified event. It’s become a family (both physical family and spiritual family) reunion for the Colleys, to which we look with great anticipation every year. 

As we left the convention center this year, I took a long look at our luggage cart, and there I saw a huge conglomeration that’s now still a big pile in my bedroom floor. But looking at that cart, I saw a small cross-section of my whole world.  I could look at that all-too-familiar hotel cart and see my life–the things that I love and the things I do–rolling across that parking lot.  Some of the things were meaningful in a long-term way. Some, like the number of pairs of shoes I’d brought along, were just extra and unneeded baggage. I looked at that cart and contemplated for a minute.  

I saw all the Digging Deep paraphernalia…my new DD bag that had carried handouts, books, baby entertainment items for worship, and bread to give away before my classes began; my Digging Deep t-shirt and the old “Authority” book from which I’d taught a couple of times through the week. And my brand new “Glory” book was also somewhere on the cart. There was even a shovel, a rake and a hoe, given to me by one of the Georgia diggers . Digging Deep was everywhere on the cart.

There was stuff from the Digging Deep Israel trip: a large group photo given to us by John and Carla Moore as they packed up the Bible Land Passages table in the Exhibit Hall. At the very top of the cart was the ram’s head with real ram’s horns, given to us by fellow Israel traveler, Caysi McDonald. Lindsay VanHook put them on the head she crafted and Linzee Stephenson mounted the ram’s head on a wooden spatula. It served us well, at the climax of the Mount Moriah scene, in Family Bible week at West Huntsville and then at Family Bible time in the Atrium with a hundred or so kids.

There were a lot of grandchildren things on that cart. There was my Bernina sewing bag, a big white laundry basket that had served to transport a bunch of birthday gifts and decorations for little Maggie’s first family birthday party, held just outside the atrium, after the crowds had exited on Thursday. There was a big black plastic garbage bag that had served to hide the 34-year-old red and white wooden scooter that Glenn had made for Caleb for his first birthday; now being passed along to Maggie (She loved it, repeating over and over “Brooom, brooom!” as she pushed it around by the wooden handle bars.)  The big bag was now full of laundry awaiting the wash.  There were leftover snack bags and boxes; surprises we’d brought to tape on the hotel room doors of the grandkids. The grands were fully represented on the cart.

My sisters were there, too. The little trinkets and treats and notes of encouragement that so many sweet friends had shared were rolling, too, in various bags and cases.

There was a computer printer, two large Bibles, a portfolio for organizing lessons, two lap-tops and an iPad, a large commentary and a big package of computer paper. It’s the way we roll when we are speaking in a total combined  number of sessions that exceeds thirty. There was even a coffee maker and a bag of Keurig cups to keep us burning the midnight oil. And there were dress clothes for all those speeches. And dress shoes and ties and scarves and there was a bag of brand new socks for Glenn because he has that propensity for leaving his at home. (He has that propensity in common with Don Blackwell. We went to Israel and washed the same pair of socks every.single.day.) 

I guess I could go on listing blessings on that cart. But the thing that struck me is  this: Your stuff represents your heart. Obviously, the stuff on the cart is the stuff I didn’t want to do without for a week-and-a-half.  Jesus said something in the same vein over in Luke 6:34

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 

By the time we left, I noticed the world was refilling the empty hotel. Carts were coming in with vastly different loads; carts pushed by people who were almost naked—carts that held luggage and beer and swimsuits and water shoes and tickets to the pleasures of the world around us. My husband commented that after watching Christians crowd those hotel hallways for a week, it was very shocking to see the world. We probably need to keep on being a little shocked. 

It’s also very motivating. Think about the diffusion of those 5500 people into a world that pushes the wrong load. Think about what we can do if every one of us invites one person to study the Bible with us monthly between now and our next gathering in Sevierville. Think about what we can do if each family has Family Bible Time daily for all 355 days between now and the next PTP. Think about how much stronger our families will be if every mother at PTP studies the Word deeply every day between now and next August 12th. Think about how much of an effectual working will occur if every woman who left that place is fervently in daily prayer for this entire year. Think about the power of a diffusion. How many carts could we load for heaven? 

How many? How many could I help load, given my opportunities in my little circle of influence? I’m going to try to have at least one more packed and loaded for heaven before that gathering on the mountain next year. Will you try, too? 

  

                                                 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

First Annual Brotherhood-Wide Door Knocking Day!

Lots of Bless Your Heart readers are creative moms constantly looking for ways to put service and evangelism in the hearts of children. Today, I want to tell you about an exciting first time brotherhood-wide event. It’s definitely an event in which your children can participate and know that they are a part of something big that brothers and sisters around the country–maybe even around the world–are doing for the spread of the good news of Jesus!

Today, The Colley House is happy to join with dozens of brotherhood works to announce the First Annual Brotherhood-Wide Door Knocking Day. Our goal is to have at least 200 churches of Christ going into their communities on the same day. October 5th, 2019 is the day when the gospel will come knocking at thousands of doors! I hope you can share this with your elders, preachers and youth leaders. Most of all, I hope that at least one soul in your community will be reached with the gospel because of a knock on his or her door on October 5th!

You’ve used our materials, and you’ve shared them with your friends and family. Will you join us in taking those gospel truths to your neighbors? You can go empty handed, or you can take them some of the great resources your congregation already has on hand, or you can order one of the tracts available at http://gladtidingspublishing.com/store/.

Sign up for free at nextdoor.housetohouse.com to join hundreds of sister congregations. When you sign up you will receive door knocking tips and videos to help you get excited, encouraged, and prepared. Signing up will also let us know how many churches are participating so that we can all encourage each other.

“Go ye into all the world…”  The world starts next door. And, who knows? One of those doors you knock on October 5th may open up to a life-long zeal for evangelism in the heart of your child!

Thanks again for your help!
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: “Someone else has already paid that bill.”

Tonight as Glenn and I placed our order in a steakhouse while traveling, we noticed a couple of elderly ladies at a nearby booth. They were having a sweet little argument with a patient waiter about their bill. I noticed that they had brought their own soft drinks into the restaurant with them. They had packed up their leftovers in take-out boxes and the waiter was also bringing them to-go cups filled with ice. But they were arguing over something that involved a two-dollar charge on the tab. The waiter kept explaining and re-explaining how the two-dollar charge in question was appropriate and had only been applied once. One of the ladies was going through her purse and counting out change. 

Glenn and I started to worry that maybe the ladies had been presented with a bill that was just a bit more than they’d brought with them, so Glenn took a bill from his wallet and asked me to go over and give it to the waiter and ask him to apply it to the tab of the ladies in that second booth. To my surprise, when I handed the waiter the money, while he was in the corner at the register, he replied quietly, “But someone else has already taken care of their bill.”

I’m glad I live in a country in which there are still so many good people. In this particular case, if we wanted to help people who seemed to be in need, we literally had to stand in line. I recall my brother-in-law relating a similar scenario. Upon driving up to the window at a fast food restaurant to pay for their order, the cashier said, “The car in front of you paid for yours.”

 My brother-in-law said “Well, let me apply this for the car behind me.” 

The cashier then said, “Thank-you, sir. You are the seventh car straight that has paid it forward.” 

My mother-in-law was at the grocery store today. She ran into a sister from a neighboring congregation. Both of them had lost children to death, my mother-in-law having lost our Laura only last week. They hugged and wept together there in the store. When my mother-in-law got to the check-out line, she found that her groceries had already been paid for by the sister who had just offered her comfort and empathy. 

Our world is a fallen world, but the influence of its Redeemer has lifted many to a place of goodness and altruism. People, some of whom have never obeyed the gospel, are often still guided by its principles and the ever-broadening influence of the Christ, whose 33 years on the earth have reached with a massive impact to every single day of every year since that ministry.  As Christians, we should always be on the lookout for redemption opportunities. We should redeem time (Ephesians 5:16). We should redeem (cash in on) circumstances that allow us to help people in need. We should redeem chances to tell people the saving gospel. We should redeem our material possessions, investing them into projects and purposes that will outlive us and extend their worth into eternity. 

“Well I never expected that to happen!” were the words of the lady in booth 2, when the waiter returned to her table. Redemption, the saving from mess-ups or errors, large and small, on behalf of others is usually like that: The redeemed never expect it to happen. In this instance, I’m sure she never even knew that there was more than one party trying to help with her need.

But the largest and most undeserved redemption of all is especially shocking to its recipients.  In this case, there was only One who could pay the price–not a tab at the table, but the price for my sin.  That requirement to satisfy justice was/is eternal death and there was just One–the just One–who had the wherewithal to pay.

And He did! May I spend my days praising Him for the cancelled debt. May I show my “receipt” to everyone who will take the time to look at it.

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…” (Psa. 107:2).