The Witness

Volume 41, Issue 3

January 18, 2023

Abandonly Available

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental principles of the world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence. (Colossians 2:20-23).”

When Paul wrote these words to Christians living in Colossae, he was concerned with what seemed to be their empty religious practices. They were following the law; they were practicing a variety of spiritual disciplines; they were living lives that seemed to be marked by holiness and piety. And yet, Paul drew a distinction between the perceived value of these practices versus what they were actually accomplishing. As his initial question revealed, Paul was concerned that even though some Colossians were fervently engaging in a number of spiritual practices and disciplines, they were still living as those who “belong to the world.”

In his book The Deeper Journey (which I highly recommend!), M. Robert Mulholland explains this distinction by contrasting the true self versus the false self. The true self can only be found in loving union with God, which he describes as a life in total abandonment to God. The false self is one motivated and characterized by one’s own self: self-promotion, self-indulgence, and self-agenda. According to Mulholland, the false self, which is focused solely on one’s self, can even hide behind religion. The religious false self is one that may practice all of the spiritual disciplines of piety and holiness, and therefore, appear to be living in loving union with God. And yet, as long as one’s own self is the motivation behind these practices, Mulholland concludes it remains a false self.

Following today’s passage, Paul described what it looks like to stop living as those who “belong to the world” and begin a “new life in Christ.” He wrote: So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3).” Rather than a literal death, Paul wanted these early Christians to understand that “seeking the things that are above where Christ is” required dying to one’s self. In Romans 8:13, Paul described it as “putting to death the flesh.” In Galatians 2:20, Paul explained it by declaring, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” In Matthew 16:26, Jesus challenged his disciples to a life of self-denial and death by asserting, “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Through these words, Jesus was not just speaking of a physical death; he wanted his disciplines to understand that a life in loving union with God must die to its own self-promotion, self-indulgence, and self-agenda. In order to find a new life that is “hidden with Christ in God,” we must be willing to deny ourselves and live in total abandonment to God.

In Colossians 3, Paul explained that the abandonment of the old self is revealed by the way we treat each other. He wrote: Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, enslaved and free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:9-11)! Rather than all of the labels that isolate, divide, and promote self-agendas, Paul challenged the Colossians to see that “Christ is all and in all.” If Christ is in everyone, regardless of society’s distinctions and classifications, then abandoning ourselves to God and becoming totally available to His will, requires that we become radically available to others.

After Jesus told a lawyer that the two greatest commandments were to love God with our entire being and love our neighbor as ourselves, Jesus illustrated his point with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Strikingly, this story contrasted two who were religiously pious and holy (the priest and the Levite) with a Samaritan who simply made himself radically available to the hurting person in front of him. While the priest and Levite were following the purity rituals of Mosaic Law on their way to worship at the Temple, the Samaritan chose to deny himself, his own will and agenda, by making himself available to an-other. According to Jesus, this is what it looks like to love our neighbors as ourselves, which he says is like loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

This is what it looks like to live as those who do not “belong to the world.” This is what it looks like to live in total abandonment to God. This is what it takes to find what Paul describes as a “new life in Christ.” Who is someone that needs us to be abandonly available to them today?     

This Sunday, January 22nd

Come hear the Youth Praise Band, who will lead us in the musical portion of our morning worship at both services this Sunday! Travis' message is, "A Slow God," and the scripture is 2 Peter 3:8-10.

If you cannot join us in person, tune in through our website or Facebook group page.

Express Your Appreciation

This Sunday, January 22nd will be Sarah's last Sunday as Director of Children & Family Life. Beside the Welcome Center is a table set up for you to express your appreciation to Sarah for her dedication and service at Vinton Baptist. You will find blank notecards in the small baskets (or feel free to use your own), and we would love for you to jot down your words of gratitude and encouragement. You may drop completed notes in the large basket on the table. Thank you!

Soup for Seniors Drive

The JOY Seniors are asking for canned soups, meats, fruits, vegetables, and crackers throughout this month. These donations are part of the area LOA Meals on Wheels Soup for Seniors Drive. Collection boxes are available in the Welcome Center and in the foyer of the New Ministries Building. Monetary donations are also accepted if you want us to do the shopping for you; please make out checks to "VBC JOY Seniors" and mark "Soup for Seniors" in the memo line. All donations - whether non-perishable or monetary - are due by January 31st. Thank you!

Wednesday Nights

Join us tonight for Wednesday Night Dinner (5:30 PM for those who signed up), Youth Missions Group (6:00 PM - to the Rescue Mission this week), Adult Bible Study (6:15 PM - on Psalm 23), Children's Choirs (6:15 PM), and adult choir rehearsals (usual times). Adult Bible Study will be livestreamed through our website and on Facebook.

Next Wednesday's menu (January 25th) is chili beans, cornbread, and dessert. The Adult Bible Study will focus on Psalm 25:1-10.


Please make or change dinner reservations by calling the church office (540-343-7685) by 5:00 PM the Monday prior to dinner. Dinner costs are $7/adult (ages 13+), $5/child (ages 4-12), children 3 and under are free, and the max per family (living in the same household) is $20. First-time guests are complimentary.

Preteens Event

Preteens will meet at the church this Sunday, January 22nd from 4:00 until 6:00 PM. Join us in the gym!

Sunday, January 29th: 5th Sunday, Deacon Ordination, & Celebrating Patsy's 40th Anniversary with VBC

The last Sunday of this month is a fifth Sunday, and we will follow our fifth Sunday schedule: Sunday School at 9:15 AM, One Combined Worship Service at 10:30 AM, and a luncheon to follow worship: assorted soups, grilled cheese, desserts, coffee, tea, & lemonade.

Our 10:30 combined worship will include a Deacon Ordination service for our new deacons: Lori Rodgers and Tyler Lyon. A table will be available this Sunday in the Welcome Center with materials for you to write a word of encouragement, prayer, or scripture for each of these new deacons; please remember to sign your name. Ordination Blessing Books, including all of your notes and affirmations, will be gifted to these deacons on their ordination.

January 31st will be Patsy Talbert's 40th anniversary with Vinton Baptist! She plans to attend worship and our luncheon January 29th, and she will be honored at both. We will have a space available at the luncheon for you to drop off your notes of appreciation for her.

Youth Choir Mission Tour

There is a signup sheet in the choir room for this summer's Youth Choir Mission Tour to Niagara Falls! Our dates are June 3rd - 8th, and the cost is $330/person. Please sign up as soon as possible. A $100 deposit is due February 12th to secure your spot.

Youth Choir Fundraisers

Let the Love Flow Fundraiser Meal: See a Youth Choir member to purchase your tickets ($10/each) for our February 12th luncheon. Our menu is fried chicken, twice baked potato, green beans, roll, & dessert. You may pick up your meal to go as early as 10:45 AM, or you may sit down with us in our valentine themed gym as early as 11:45 AM for food and fellowship.

Youth Choir Raffle: The Youth Choir is also selling raffle tickets for a chance to win a Gift Card Bouquet! First prize is $200 in gift cards, second is $100 in gift cards, and third is $50 in gift cards. Each ticket is $2.00. You may purchase your tickets before or after worship at the Welcome Center, or simply see Terry Hough. We will draw a winner Sunday, February 12th. You do not have to be present to win.

JOY Seniors: Upcoming Events

The JOY Seniors will get back into the swing of things beginning with our Annual Beans & Cornbread Luncheon Tuesday, January 31st. This year our meal will be prepared by our very own Chef Ashley and will consist of a variety of beans, chili, cornbread, coleslaw, potato salad, dessert, and water. We will review the 2023 luncheon/activity schedule and play "winter" table games. The cost is $10/person. Sign up and pay at the JOY Seniors table by January 27th. Your payment is your reservation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Join us for food, fun, and fellowship on our first trip of 2023: we will have lunch at the Green Goat February 7th. You can ride the bus or drive yourself. Please sign up at the JOY Seniors table so that we can have a head count for reservations.

Happy Hearts is sponsoring an event Thursday, February 16th, 10:00 AM - noon in the small dining room. Want to wash away those winter blues? Join us for fun and fellowship as we make homemade, all-natural sugar scrub. Double the fun by inviting a friend or making a jar for a friend. These make great gifts! Please sign up and pay at the JOY Seniors table by February 9th. The cost is $7 per 4 oz. jar.

Richard Newman

c/o Hermitage in Roanoke

1009 Old Country Club Road NW

Roanoke VA 24017

2023 Offering Envelopes

2023 offering envelopes have arrived and are ready for pickup! You will find them at the Missions Tables. They are organized alphabetically by last name. If you do not see your envelopes, please contact Patsy Talbert. If you have not previously been issued envelopes and would like some, let Patsy know.

2022 Giving Statements

2022 statements are ready for pickup on the counter in the church office. They are organized alphabetically by last name. Please stop by and pick yours up in order to cut down on our mailing costs. Thank you!

Are You Interested in Setting Up Recurring Gifts?

As most of you know, the "Giving" tab on our VBC mobile app, as well as on our website, allows you to give on a one-time basis, as well as set up automatic gifts on a periodic, recurring basis. While our electronic giving site is secure, some folks either do not have access to give online (or by app), or they prefer not to share their account information outside of their banking institution. We want to let those givers know that there are options for setting up automatic, recurring gifts directly through your bank or credit union. Please contact your banking institution directly and let them know that you would like to set up recurring gifts to Vinton Baptist Church, and they can help you do so. As always, you are welcome to continue to give by cash or check on your own schedule.

We want you to know how much we appreciate all of your donations, which help us carry out our church's mission -

  • To obey God's Great Commandment: "Love God & Love People"
  • To follow God's Great Commission: "Go and make disciples of all nations"
  • To build God's Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven."

Happy 72nd Anniversary

on January 13th

to Fred and Jean Swisher!

Help Refresh Our Youth Space!

We have a number of projects needing to be accomplished to refresh our youth space. Some involve basic cleaning and painting; others require more creativity and specialization. We would also love to entertain any ideas you may have for our space. Please click here for more details and consider signing up for a project.

Children's Worship Volunteers Needed

With Sarah leaving, we will need extra help in Children's Worship each Sunday. Please consider volunteering either as a teacher or as a helper. We need extra helpers at the 11:00 AM service because we tend to have more children at this service. Please click here for the sign-up sheet (dates run through February) and help us out. Thanks!!

Bible Reading Plan

Click here for a printable copy of our new Bible reading plan, or pick up a hard copy at the Welcome Center. You can also access the plan through our VBC app on your mobile device. Just click on "Bible Reading Plan" across the bottom menu of the app.

Monday's Genesis passage from our Bible reading plan (25:12-18) was super short and consisted only of the genealogy of Ishmael. You may wonder why such passages are routinely included in scripture and what they mean. Here are some clues from "How to Read the Bible Book by Book" (Fee & Stuart):

The phrase "This is the account of..." occurs 10 times in Genesis and helps organize the structure of the book. Today's reading is the shortest genealogy mentioned and it refers back to the promises made by God to both Abraham and Hagar about Ishmael (see chapter 16 and 21:9-21). This genealogy testifies that God is a keeper of promises. Don't think of it as just a genealogy, but as part of the narrative and a testimony to who God is. His vows about making Ishmael into "a great nation" (21:18) have come true.

While we're here, let's back up for a moment to chapter 21 and Hagar's encounter with the angel of God. Here Hagar and Ishmael are "in the wilderness" (v. 14). They've run out of water, and Hagar knows that they're both doomed to death. She doesn't want to see the death of her son, so she puts him under a bush and walks a ways off (v. 15-16). The scripture says that "God heard the voice of the boy" (v. 17) and promises Hagar that he will be taken care of and will become "a great nation" (v. 18). God shows Hagar where to find water, and scripture assures us that "God was with the boy, and he grew up" (v. 20). In the above passage (25:12-18), we see the culmination of God's promises and presence with Ishmael.

What I find in this passage is the cry of a single mother who has nowhere else to turn and is afraid for herself and her son. She has been mistreated and forced out of her own home. She has nowhere to go. God's people may no longer care about her, but God does. He comes to her directly and promises to take care of her and her son. And he keeps that promise.

I was reminded of this passage last week when I spoke on the phone with another single mother with a young son, and both of them had been forced out of their home. She called VBC looking for help. While we did not have direct access to housing or funds for her, I was able to refer her to several agencies that might be of help. I was also able to pray for her over the phone. I have prayed for her since, as well, asking that God would watch over her and her son and bless them the way he watched over and blessed Hagar and Ishmael.

These Bible "stories" are not just stories. They are narratives of people's lives and especially of how God interacts in their lives. They are examples for us today. If we look intently, we can see in the world around us many of the same sorts of people and circumstances that we find in the Bible. May we take the opportunity to share the hope of scripture with those whom we encounter. May we testify of God and his love and care.


Check these out:

  • 81 Years of Food and Family: Roanoker Restaurant Cookbook
  • "The Riverbend Romance" series by Denise Hunter

Thank you for the opportunity to present a Gideon message last Sunday. The offerings, much appreciated, will place 148 full Bibles or 486 testaments, resulting in some lost soul accepting Jesus. May God continue to bless our VBC family.

--John Evjen

Vinton Baptist Church,

Thank you for all your prayers through Brian's surgery and recovery. We are blessed to have such a wonderful church family!

--The Wicklines

January 2023 Calendar