Browsing Tag

Evangelism

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Dear Baby G3,

Tomorrow is the day! We’ve prayed for you hundreds of times already and we will pray for you hundreds more, if the Lord lets us live to watch you grow. Today, I spent the day with your older brother, Ezra, and your big sister, Colleyanna. They pray for you regularly, too, and they are already  over-the-moon in love with you.  We went fishing and had a picnic and read stories and played bad guys. I’m totally exhausted and I had no time for reflection today; and yet, there you were…right there in my heart and in my prayers all day long. I kept thinking about the amazing fact that you are rolled up there in your silent world of utter warmth and provision inside our Hannah and, early in the morning, you will be crying your little lungs out in a hospital in Chattanooga. God sees you in both places. He already knows the things we will finally find out tomorrow.  I don’t know if you are a he or a she yet, but, if I’ve learned one thing about being a grandmother in the past five years, it’s that there’s always enough love in a mammy’s heart to give the whole thing, the mammy’s heart to every single grandchild. Once they put you in my arms, I’ll be inextricably linked at the heart to you. (In fact, I am already!) There’s nothing good, that I have to give, that you cannot have, for the asking.

The third child. It was the third son of Adam and Eve through which the earth was populated again through Noah. It was the third son of Jacob who fathered the priestly tribe. It was the third child of Amram and Jochebed who led Israel out of Egypt. You, Baby G3, can do, as your brother Ezra says “…anything you get your mind to.” And if you “get your mind to” the right things, your mammy and papa will move whatever of heaven and earth we can move to help you do those things.

I know your mama and dad will tell you one day about the pandemic that was occurring as you came into the world. No one alive now will soon forget these days, Much to our disappointment, we’re not going to be allowed into the hospital to be with your mother or to hold you when you are moments old. We’ll make up for that when you come home from the hospital.

So today, we fished. We fished and fished, but caught nothing, except a tree limb. Ezra said it was because people, across the lake,  were being too loud. (I think Ezra was pretty competitive in the decibel department.) The wind was blowing and we kept having to retrieve things as they blew into the water (a canvas chair carrier and even one of our poles.) We got our line in a tree and a hook in the back of my pants. We saw about five times as many turtles as we saw fish. We dropped our Pop Tarts for the ants and we poured our drinking water in the little tub for our worms to “have a dwink.”  We had fun, but the physical take-away was disappointing.

When we got in the car to come home, we sat there for a little bit and talked about some people in the Bible who fished for hours and caught nothing. Jesus told them to try once more on the other side of the sea. And when they did, Peter, James and John caught their nets full of fishes. But still, Jesus had an even bigger catch for them to make. He wanted them to become fishers of men.  And He calls us all to be fishers of men, too.

We talked about you, Baby G, and how that we would all help you grow up to be someone who always wants to tell people about Jesus. No matter what else you do, we are going to keep praying this for you. One day, we hope we will be in the delivery room when you are born again of water and the spirit–truly delivered!

It’s just now midnight, as I type. It’s your birthday! Happy, happy birthday! I’ll be waiting anxiously during the next few hours for the news that you are here, that you are safe, and that you are beautiful. And when I finally get to you, then you and I will not be social distancing!

You have our hearts!

Mammy and Papa

 

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #36: Proverbs 14:12–The Deadly Way that Seems Right

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:  

My Favorite Proverbs: The Deadly Way that Seems Right (Prov. 14:12)

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

There are some things that are beyond our language to adequately describe.  The gap between our mortal intelligence and God’s intelligence is one of those things.  Isaiah sounds awe-struck when he writes,  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9).  While thinking on that, add this verse into your meditation: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105).  He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.  By comparison, we are mortal and limited, and utterly dependent on Him every day (Matt. 5:45).

Men are too proud when they boast of their life choices that are contrary to the Bible, while none of them have died and returned to tell how things worked out for them. They are replaced by yet more worldly men who “preach” their methods of living.  Every generation produces its hedonists, agnostics and atheists. In addition, for those who love to be religious but don’t feel religion necessarily has to reflect the Scriptural pattern, here’s Jesus’ warning, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matt. 15:9).  

In the church of Christ we want the Bible to be our final authority for our faith and practice.  Some of our practices may seem strange to people…practices such as eating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday or insisting that baptism is necessary to be saved, or having only men to be our preachers. But we practice these because of our determination to adhere to God’s word on these subjects (Acts 20:7, 1 Pet. 3:21, Acts 22:16, 1 Tim. 2:11-14). There is no biblical authority for telling a lost person that, to be saved, he must pray the sinner’s prayer or “accept Christ as your personal Savior.”  Where did any of the New Testament churches use instrumental music with their vocal/a capella music?  It isn’t there.  Do we read of women preaching for the church assemblies in the New Testament?  Was sprinkling ever a God-approved substitute for immersion in water when a person was baptized? If these are matters that seem unimportant or ambiguous to you, I’d love to communicate with you about them. Let’s talk about the importance of authority.

Today, meditate on this proverb and then, “… whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).

   

Bible time with Glenn and Cindy:

Whoosh! Tonight (as I’m writing, it’s Sunday) was an exciting night at the Colley’s house. The wind became fierce and a huge tree fell down on the power lines on our street, placing a live wire across our yard and, of course, knocking out transformers and power. Our neighbors across the street had a pretty good sized tree right on their front porch! I was planning to share something else tonight, but since this huge wind came through some of your neighborhoods tonight, let’s think about some of the times in our lives when we might have instant needs around us, that we, as God’s people could fill. Are there some times when we can more easily show people a servant heart? 

It was pretty fun tonight to see neighbors immediately working with chain saws, loaning generators and going to check on each other, even in the middle of a pandemic. Let’s see, tonight, if we can get our kids to think about times when it might be easier to find opportunities to serve. 

  1. Try to get them to think of the things we’ve been able to do during this COVID time that weotherwise would not have done (making masks, doing drive-by parades for cheer etc…).
  2. What are some “extra” ways people minister to needy people when there are storms? Help them think of these ways. 
  3. What are some times in life when we have the chance to, on-the-spot, pray for people who are in an emergency situation?  Do you do this when you see a wreck or a house on fire, even if you do not know the people involved? Start this practice with your children if you do not already do this.
  4. Review with your children the definition and consequences of a famine. Turn with them to 1 Kings 17 and tell them the account of Elijah going to the widow of Zarephath. Explain to them that she was not a citizen of Israel, the nation that really knew God. Elijah had a chance to do some really needed things for her; first because of a famine and, then, because of a death in her family. Make sure they see that, in the beginning of the account she referred to your God (verse12), but by the end (verse 24), she believed in Jehovah and the truth of Elijah’s message. 
  5. Do you think that people sometimes come to trust God because they can see the good things that His people do? Read Matthew 5:16 and discuss this with your children. We cannot do miracles like Elijah, but can we still show people the love that God has for them when we minister to their needs? Try to get your children to think of some occasion when your family has helped someone who has later come to the Lord. 
  6. If you’ve never experienced this wonderful phenomenon, try to think with your kids about someone you know who doesn’t know the Lord. Is there something good that you can do for this person or family this week to try and develop a relationship in which you can show them the Lord? Pray about this endeavor with your kids tonight. 

Tomorrow night, we’ll try to get back into the meat of Matthew 25, if the Colleys have power to transmit. There are a few more nuggets there that we are hoping to cover.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

“Dat’s de Pwoblem!”

Five-year-old Ezra is concerned, lately, about every death. (We all should be a lot more thoughtful about the appointment with death and judgment that 100% of us will keep!) He’s especially concerned about whether or not people who’ve died have gone to be with God. Recently, his parents visited Mount Airy, North Carolina, the home of Andy Griffith and the model town for the fictional town of Mayberry. As they were telling Ezra about going to Floyd’s Barber Shop and the drugstore and the Sheriff’s Office, He asked them “Did you see Andy Griffith?”

When they told him that they couldn’t see him, because he’s dead, Ezra immediately asked “But did he obey God?”

Last week, while Ezra was visiting with us for a few days, he “tromboned” a few bars of “Seventy-Six Trombones.” A little taken aback that he would know that song, his Papa said “Ezra, do you know what that song is about?”

“Actuawy, I do.” Ezra replied.

“Do you know what movie that’s from?” Glenn asked.

“Actually I do. It’s from De Moosic Man.”

“Do you like that movie?

“Yes. I love it!

About this time I interjected that his parents were a little bit worried about the hero of the story—the fact that he was a conniving swindler promoting sin at every turn. Glenn answered, “But didn’t he repent at the end?”

Ezra quickly chimed in “No, he did not wepent. Dat’s de pwoblem.”

I’ve been asked to speak in an upcoming lectureship about how to raise our children to be evangelistic. In thinking about how to frame this lesson, I’m reminded that Ezra is right. Sometimes we think about all of the anti-Biblical messages in the world that draw people from God: atheism, denominationalism, worldliness, etc….We think about the huge propaganda that Satan has successfully spread about the non-essential nature of baptism. All of these (and more) are huge roadblocks to salvation in our modern world. But all of these are surmountable. I’ve seen people overcome each of these obstacles to live full and rich lives and go home to glory when they died. They did it by repenting: changing their minds about a particular course of action and following a different course.

But Ezra is right. When people are unwilling to repent, that unwillingness is the obstacle to salvation that cannot be overcome. That’s the pwoblem.

Repentance is the absolute hardest part of God’s plan of salvation. It’s the part that takes boldness, stamina, perseverance and self-control. It’s the part that makes you keep on confessing Him for life and it’s the part that makes you determined to get to the water and have your sins washed away. It’s the part that, once out of the waters of baptism, keeps you heaven-focused. It’s the part that makes you never, ever give the world a longing look again.

If we can put the concept of repentance in our kids—both its difficulty and its attendant blessings—we will raise naturally evangelistic kids. We do this by using the word “repentance” when we are punishing them. We do it by talking about hearts when we watch movies like The Music Man. We do it by stressing the concept of coming to one’s self when we are talking about the Prodigal Son or David and Bathsheba in family Bible time. We do it when we read the story of Beauty and the Beast or Pinocchio or any number of tales in which people changed their minds and actions in a positive direction. We do it when they hear us pray that our hearts will be tender and change when we find out we are wrong. They do it when they hear us petition Him in behalf of specific people we name, who need to change their hearts. We do it when we explain to them the difference between Peter and Judas when the cross put them to the test. We do it when, at very young ages, we keep spanking that hand over and over until we get a contrition after disobedience. We do it when we show them compassion after the contrite heart rights a wrong.

We saturate our children with the truth that salvation is about hearts. It’s about obedience resultant from penitent hearts.

Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Jesus Christ

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #58: Public Speaking

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 57  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”.

In my judgment, there are few activities which actually sharpen as many skills of service as does public speaking. 

Public speaking builds boldness that’s necessary for effective evangelism in a world that is intimidating toward and sometimes even hostile to Christianity. It sharpens skills for effective communication. This is needed when we communicate the gospel in any setting. Public speaking, about any topic that’s in any way controversial, demands the development of reasoning and critical thinking skills. These developed  talents of the best minds are critical for answering the skeptics in Bible studies. Public speaking teaches our kids how to be persuasive without leaving logic behind. This is what Paul did when standing before Agrippa in Acts 26. Finally, public speaking gives your kids opportunities to go where the average child, who’s afraid of getting before people, will never go. Those places, some of them political arenas and some of them mission fields, where few go, are still places that need God’s truth. 

A quick google search of “oratory contest” yields several great venues for high schoolers. (My kids loved the National Right to Life Oratory contest (https://www.nrlc.org/students/oratory-contest/rules/) and were representatives to (and of) the states of Alabama and Tennessee on multiple occasions. This opened doors for them to speak on pro-life related issues in other venues, locally, as well. We were enriched, as a family, by the Lads to Leaders program (https://www.lads2leaders.com)  and it prepared them for speaking. I believe this influence was a large contributing factor to the speaking that they do today in behalf of the kingdom. I believe it made them more evangelistic, too, as they learned to face and overcome fears associated with looking a critical audience in the eye and stating truth. I know they (and I) are, at best, still woefully inadequate in our representations of the gospel to the world, but every bit of preparation to face the giants of atheism, relativism and materialism in our world today is needed. Homeschooling programs like Classical Conversations offer regular speaking opportunities for all ages.

But  if programs are unavailable to you, I’d work hard to make the venue for your children to get to speak before audiences, even small audiences. Ask your elders or church leaders if they can have appropriate Saturday morning devotionals in which the children are presenting little lessons for encouraging audiences. Start a book club in your home and have the kids present their reviews of  books that are filling them with moral and ethical lessons. Have a game night in your home once a quarter and begin the fun with letting one of your children present a short, well-prepared lesson before the games begin. Ask your minister for opportunities in hospital or nursing home rooms to speak on topics that will bless the sick and elderly. Remember, reading scripture is a great thing, but the force of this particular activity is preparing and being able to present one’s own ideas in an engaging way. (Reading scripture to someone will never be adequate in reaching his soul for heaven. We have to be able to articulate and apply the gospel.) Speaking, rather than reading, is the skill we’re after here. 

Along the way, teach your children that large audiences and accolades are not the goal. You can do this effectively by taking opportunities as they come, rather than saying no to hospital room opportunities and yes to national contests. Just say yes every time you can. You can do this by teaching them to always say no to any temptation to speak in any arena that’s sponsored by sinful products or activities. Never allow them to apply endorsement of sin.  Teach them that God can make great opportunities for souls out of small venues. Teach your children to give generously to the church each time they are rewarded monetarily for speaking somewhere. Teach them that seeking, serving and saving souls is the ultimate goal. Teach them daily, that whatever they do in life, the vocation will just be a catalyst for helping souls to heaven. It will be a tool for helping those around them to know God and His will for their lives. 

Being able to communicate effectively in front of others, sometimes even enemies of the gospel, will help them put on the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). This takes lots of “mom time”, but it’s is some of the most rewarding time you will spend. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

MAMA’S K.I.S.S. #57: Bible Marking for Evangelism

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 57  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”.

It’s a simple suggestion, today, but it’s at the heart of service. The most important kind of help  any human can give another is the service that reaches beyond this life. It’s giving people the knowledge from the Word that can place their souls around the throne in heaven. 

So it’s important to equip our kids with the ability to tell people what to do to be saved. Why not take your child’s Bible, even from first grade on up, and begin with Romans 10:17? Highlight that verse with your child. Talk about what faith is and how we can never have saving faith if we never hear the good news about Jesus from the Bible. Impress on your child’s heart, as you study this verse, that the most important thing we can give our friends is the gospel. In the margin beside this passage, write “Hebrew 11:6”.

Turn and highlight this passage in Hebrews. Talk to your child about the importance of believing that God exists and that he will reward those who are searching the Word for His Will. Talk about the heroes in this context who did amazing things for God. (You may want to spend a few nights of your Family Bible Time camped right here in Hebrews 11— the “faith” portion of this evangelism equipping.)  Then, in the margin here, write “Luke 13:3” 

Turn there and highlight this verse. Define “repentance” for your child and talk, in practical terms, about what changing one’s mind about wrong-doing looks like in scenarios that may be familiar to the child. Have your child start watching for repentance in life around him/her. (Ezra, my grandson, was all about “repentance” as we watched “A Muppet Christmas Carol’ together this year.) In the margin beside Luke 13:3,  write. “Romans 10:10”. 

Talk about what confessing Christ means, being sure to make it understood that confessing Him is something we continually do at every chance throughout our lives; how we should never be ashamed of the One who loved us enough to die for us. In the margin at this point, write “Mark 16:16.”

Talk, from Jesus’ words in this passage, about this submission in water that puts a person into the kingdom when he is old enough to have sins, washing those sins away. For older children, at this juncture, it would be good to list some more passages about the mode, purpose and results of baptism. But for five and six-year-olds, just marking the words of Jesus in the Great Commission is enough. 

Congratulate your child on having the most important information in the world “ready” to share at any opportunity. Then pray, with her, for opportunities to share it. 

Be sure your child sees your attempts throughout your days and weeks to engage others about salvation. The kingdom will grow and people will be saved, years hence, through these little people to whom you have given a primer lesson in evangelism. 

Multiple benefits include:

  1. Your kids will learn to mark “paths” in their Bibles; a tool that will help them through life to be serious Bible students.
  2. You will be held accountable by your kids for sharing the good news.
  3. You and your children will bond over the important business of the gospel.
  4. You and your child will pray this most important prayer together.
  5. The “doing” of faith from Hebrews 11 will be concretely illustrated in your child’s heart.
  6. Souls will eventually be saved.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Last Trip to the Little Farm

Fruit keeps on growing…

Today marks the last visit to my dad’s little farm. After next Tuesday, the farm will no longer be “ours”. My good husband, who has gone there so many times in my behalf, is doing it one last time today. It simply had to be done on this day and, since I get to fly to Texas today to speak to sweet sisters, my constant rescuer is on the road to Jacksonville.  I’ve made Glenn a list of things to not leave behind. I’ve specified certain things and their locations….things that just have my father’s fingerprints all over them…things that are worth very little to anyone else, but serve as memory handles of happy days spent in a sweet family circle that can never be quite as complete again.

I’ve told him how to transplant a little cane of my dad’s massive muscadine arbor. You bend the fruit-bearing cane over and bury it. Then you go back one last time and unearth it once the tiny new roots have begun to take hold in the soil. You cut it, take it home with you, and plant it in a protective tube, water it frequently, give it lots of light and wait.

Fruit can grow long after the original planter–in this case, my dad–is gone. It can be transplanted to distant places and it can reproduce itself exponentially. It takes some digging. It takes some burying. It takes some unearthing. It takes some travel. It takes some water and light. It takes protection and vigilance. But it produces something that will always taste like the first fruits.

It occurs to me that this is exactly how it is with the fruit of the Spirit. With all of these ingredients at play, His Will in me can just keep on living in others in which I may plant the seed. The vine (John 15:5), long after I am gone, will just keep right on bearing fruit that bears strong testimony to the holiness and saving power of the Original Planter (John 15:26), who is also a dear Father: THE Father.

So dig in the Word (John 17:17). Experience the burial… in the saving act of baptism (Romans 6:1-4). Unearth the growth–the root system– that prepares you to bear fruit in new places and situations (Matthew 13:18-23). Go with the gospel (Mark 16:15,16). Plant it over and over in hearts. Be generous with the water of life (John 4:14) and the light of the world (John 8:12). Be protective of young and tender plants (I Corinthians 8:13). Be vigilant about the harvest that’s plentiful, remembering that laborers are few (Luke 10:2). And enjoy the big arbor…the power that continues from the Original Planter and His first fruit (I Corinthians 10:23)!