Thursday, February 28, 2013

Coming Soon - Devotions A-Z, Women of The Bible

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

 April is a little over a month away and I am excited to be participating in another A-Z challenge. I am signed up as participant # 833. A Devotional Mosaic (WR)

 Last year my posts just had to somehow synch with the letter of the day, I did not give myself much more in the way of structure. It was pretty random but it is now the completed Devotions from A-Z e-book that you see below. Here's the link to this beautiful e-book. http://payhip.com/b/dGY I was thinking about McDonalds and how they used to change the number of burgers sold every few years. They started once upon a time with one hamburger. Today I sold my first copy of this e-book and I'm pretty excited. It is a very humble small beginning. My son says wow mom now you can say "more than zero copies sold!"  I guess I am a long way from McDonalds and their  Zillions sold but they too started with a first hamburger. Someone liked it and told their friends. Zechariah 4:10  Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin...

Source: payhip.com via Margot on Pinterest


I was thinking today what I wanted to do with the A-Z challenge this year. I decided I want to look at Bible people or characters. I started with a mixed list of men and women but soon realized I could do a whole list of women and a whole other list of men. I have decided to start with women and perhaps do the men next April.

I have been working on my list today and wanted to give you an idea of some of the characters you will meet in April. Some will be familiar to you others a bit more obscure. I intend to present each as a devotional and hope to point out the things we may be able to see in each of them but may not be able to see in ourselves.  I hope to show you character traits to celebrate as well as flaws to overcome.
I wonder what can we learn from each of these women?  For my men readers perhaps April will give you some new insight into the women in your life and some of what makes us tick.

Devotions A-Z  
Women of the Bible

A - Anna - Prayed for and held baby Jesus
B - Bilhah - my mothers maid
C - Cozbi  - Princess of Deception
D - Deborah - Woman Warrior
E - Eunice - She trained her son well
F - Faith (Faith is a common name from the bible but there are no women who's names start with f)
G - Gomar - forgiven again and again
H  - Hannah - Prayed for a child and God answered
I - Iscah - She will anoint
J - Junia (Could she be a female apostle?)
K - Keturah - did you know Abraham had a wife after Sarah?
L - Leah or Lydia - not sure which one
M- Michal & Miraiam (Thought on Worship)
N - Naomi - Faithful companion
O - Oholibama - Her name means Tent of the High Place
P - Peninnah - She who makes others miserable
Q - Queen Candace of the Ethiopians
R - Rahab - A harlot, a spy, part of the blood line of Christ.
S - Sapphira - Guilty by association
T - Tabitha - Back from the dead
U - Uriah's Wife and where her aspirations for power led her.
V - Vashti - Had enough
W - Witch, Whore, Woman (Names we are called)
X - Xerxes' New Queen (Do you know her name in Hebrew?)
Y - Yahweh's Bride
Z - Zipporah - Woman of the Desert

I had someone recently ask me how I was able to settle down and pick something to write about.  As far as settling down I  just generally follow some train of thought and see where it takes me.  I turn of my inner critic and editor and just write and see what comes out. Yesterday was Oxen today as you can see I already have 26 more things that I can't wait to write about. I guess I just pick the one that is screaming the loudest for my attention and trust that the Holy Spirit will lead me.

Generally I write early in the morning when my mind is not yet spinning with a thousand things. It gradually warms up with a cup of coffee and some quiet conversation with the Lord. Sometimes I feel un-inspired and will wait till later in the day to see if something interesting happens to write about. I love this verse from John 21:25 " Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." When I first started writing daily I worried about running out of things to write about but there is so much to explore - the bible is like stumbling upon a treasure trove. It contains more than one could possibly consume in the entirety of a life time. In addition there has been no time in history where one had so much knowledge at one's finger tips. I can search commentaries, quotes, histories, customs and so much more simply by putting in the right keywords. I guess I want to do a lot more with that power and technology than look at photos of cats or play silly games.

The other side of it is that I had to find my voice. I went though a period of brokenness where I felt I had nothing to say of any value that anyone would want to hear. I was not sure that God would even be able to use me in ministry ever again. In some circles divorce is right up there with the un-pardonable sin particularly for those in ministry. I'm not making light of it or any sin but we serve a God of grace and of second, third and fourth chances. How many times does he tell us to forgive? 70 times 7. How could he possibly ask that of us if he was not willing to forgive us that much and more.

The other thing I discovered is that in a lot of places women are expected to be seen and not heard. So I had to not only find my voice but find out who God created me to be. Why would he give me gifts to write, speak and teach if those things were off limits to women. Anyway I am going to look at women in the bible because I am convinced that God does not have a problem with women. We are joint heirs in Christ, not second class citizens in his kingdom. I can hardly wait to get to letter J because I see evidence that Juana may have been a woman apostle. Women were last at the cross and were first from the tomb to carry the good news that Jesus had risen. A woman anointed Jesus with her tears and with costly oil and he said she would always be remembered. He called Martha and Mary his friends and enjoyed being at their home.

March will be more of my random jumble of topics and project updates. I have finished my painting "Taking off the Mask" for the Transformations prayer loft but still have a lot of things that need to be done to have it ready. I think Taking off the Mask will eventually become an e-book because I have worn my fair share of masks through the years. I think there is a story to tell  there - I just have to let it out. Maybe it will have a page or a chapter for different kinds of masks and prayers for trasformation.

You can see I have no shortage of ideas.

Prayer: Lord come now and bless and inspire each reader. You have created them and gifted them to be a blessing in your kingdom. I pray that you would help them to understand more clearly what you are calling them to do with their lives. Give them all that they need to do everything you are calling them to do or to become.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Ox


A Devotional by Margot Cioccio


Did you know the word Ox or Oxen is found in the bible 92 times. There are a lot of verses that deal with not coveting or stealing someones oxen. If you steal an ox and get caught you must pay back 5 cattle and some sheep. Actually one verse says you must pay back double the value if the stolen ox is found in your possession.

I'm sure you are already wondering how I've gotten off on this subject. Actually I was thinking about plowing and how animals are yolked together to effectively plow together. I think ministry is often like plowing and who we are teamed up with makes a difference in weather or not we can plow a strait line or if we end up going in circles. Not being a farm girl I don't have any real tangible experience in plowing. Yet the Lord often talks to me regarding the church in terms of fields that need prepared for planting. Even when it seems there is no seed the Lord still tells me prepare the field. Preparing the field is about plowing. One ox can prepare a small patch of ground to do a larger area teams are needed.

In reading about ox teams it seems the lead animal is to the front right if using two oxen. If using four the more able leaders of each pair would be in the middle setting the course or direction. In a good team the strongest oxen are actually at the back of the team rather than the front. The reason being is that they are able to slow down the team or stop the team particularly when going down hill. It seems there is a different set of muscles used for this purpose. So not only does one need leaders who can pull and move forward we need strength to hold us back when there is too much momentum to move at a safe pace for the team.

So I look at the people around my church plowing team. If you hitch it up wrong - you end up going in circles. If you put the wheelers (the strong ones that slow things down) in the front you won't go very far or move at all. The wheelers need to follow the leaders. The leaders need to be all aligned to the same purpose or direction. In a good team one must lead and one must follow adding strength and pulling power. In a duel team one leader must defer to the other and through their combined leadership move the team in the same direction.


If we want to effectively plow together we must pray that God would come and hitch us up in the best configuration. Where would God put you in the team? Are you the lead or one of the leaders. Are you coming long side a leader. Are you the wheeler that helps put the breaks on but only when needed not out of resistance to the leaders. Maybe you are still being groomed or trained to be able to be part of a team.

Another animal used for plowing is the donkey or the ass. The donkey is said to be one of the smartest animals. It is said to work harder and longer than cattle. The tricky thing with donkeys is that because of their intelligence they are at times offended or put of if incorrectly handled or managed. Donkeys are known to hold a grudge. They won't forget the person who mistreats them and will often wait for years for an opportunity to pay back on offense.

Interestingly both the donkey and the ass are included in our traditional manger scenes but are never actually mentioned as being present. It is thought that it is because of this verse in Isaiah 1:3 that they have been included.

Isaiah 1:3 (NIV1984)
The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

Anyway for my little rabbit trail it seems to me that the ox and donkey people are those who do know their master. They are the ones to lead and plow. They are the people who help move us forward. It is not until they are mature that they are put to work as part of pulling or plowing teams.

Interestingly Deuteronomy 22:10 says 10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.

Here's why according to the Reformation Study Bible. "The reason for this may be the impracticality both of making a donkey pull an ox’s load and of making an ox go at the faster donkey’s pace. Or, the contrast between clean animals (the ox) and unclean (the donkey, 14:1–8) may have served to remind Israel of her call to purity. Paul cites this verse in 2 Cor. 6:14, forbidding the fellowship of believers and unbelievers."

Matthew Henry says "they must not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, nor mingle themselves with the unclean, as an ox with an ass."

2 Corinthians 6:14 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
I guess for the purposes of my post today. I guess I am simply saying that it matters who we are yoked together with be it in marriage or in ministry partnerships. Its important that the team all be going in the same direction and that we are not working against one another.
Lastly when Elisha was called to ministry he burned his plowing tools and cooked his oxen to feed the people. When he heard God's call he set his course in such a way as to not be able to go back to his old life. This guy clearly knew how to plow. We find him working with 12 yoke of oxen.
1 Kings 19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

Well I'm not sure why I personally found God speaking to me through oxen and donkeys today but I hope something in my assorted thoughts and discoveries will encourage you.

I've got to run so - this will have to do for today. Blessings to you my dear readers. I pray the Lord will speak to you some how through these words. 
~Margot
 



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Connectivity Issues


For some reason some wire got bumped and we are having internet connectivity issues today. It has taken my son’s to test all the connection points and to reboot the router and we have internet again. 

I think sometimes stuff happens in our lives and wires get crossed or get loose and we realize we are not connecting to God as clearly as we should. Just like my son’s did with our internet problem, we need to go back from time to time and check our connections to the Lord. 

These are just some heart check verses that I pulled and is by no means an exclusive list.  So lets start at the First and Greatest Commandment:

Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV1984)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Theres a lot to this verse and not make this post exhaustingly lengthy we are only going t look at the very frist part that I have put in bold.

How are you doing with loving God with all of your heart?




Our hearts can be divided with only parts of it belonging to the Lord. Our hearts can be deceitful convincing us that all is well - when all is broken and rotting in places. Our hearts can also become hard and cold like stone. A little resistance and rebellion covered up by a deceitful or divided heart over time becomes hardened to the things of God. This is not something you want to do by yourself, you need the Lord to help you through this process. Pay attention to how when Jesus starts to touch some areas that you will try to quickly get distracted from the process. You are going to need to be very purposeful and you can't jump off the examination table and run away if you are really wanting the evaluation and for Dr. Jesus to do the work to heal you.

This photo is of my son Cai who recently had to have surgery to repair his broken colar bone. He's fine now and you will be too. He was great, in that he trusted that the doctors and nurses knew what they were doing and he relaxed and let them do their work. 


Let's start with this prayer: Lord, I invite you to come and examine my heart. Help me to see where it is broken, divided, deceitful and where it is hard or growing cold. In your name I bind every agent or tool of the enemy that would try use to distract me from this examination. I ask Lord for you hand of protection and healing to be upon me.  Thank you for your grace, mercy and love and that you have already paid the price for all of my sins. You already know all there is to know about me, there is nothing I can hide from you. This examination is for you to help me see the areas of my heart and life that need to be transformed.

Psalm 26:2 (NIV1984)

2 Test me, O Lord, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;


There are a series of questions with a verse from the Bible. I can't do this for you. Read each question and journal or make a bullet list of your thoughts. Pray and ask the Lord to show you anything that needs healed, adjusted, tuned, cut off, or transformed. 


Where is my heart deceitful?  
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Where is my heart deceived? What are some of the lies you are still clinging too?
Isaiah 44:20 He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

Where is my heart hard? (There are several verses for this one)
Proverbs 28:14
Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.
Matthew 13:15
For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
Ephesians 4:18
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Hebrews 3:15
As has just been said:“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

There are some good things happening in your heart too. Allow the Lord to show you some of the places where you have grown or are already bearing fruit. Sometimes we can see fruit in everyone else but we are blind to what is growing in our own lives. Ask the Lord to show you. 

How is my heart honest?
1 Chronicles 29:17
I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.
How is my heart open? (Notice that it is the Lord who opened her heart)
Acts 16:14
One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
 
How is my heart believing? 
If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23)
How is my heart glad? What are somethings that you are thankful for? 
Psalm 16:8-9 (NIV1984) I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
This is as far as I am taking this post but you should ask the Lord to lead you by His Holy Spirit if there  are other areas of your heart that need to be revealed to you at this time. Sometimes there may be problems that are put off till later because there are more critical areas that need to be atended to first. Keep in mind that this is an on going life long journey and there are always things that the Lord will be working on transforming in your life. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rain - An Art Reflection

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

I shared this in our service Sunday - . I've had some request that I record these Reflection Readings and make them available as audio or video files. I will add that to my to do list of projects and let you know when I have them ready. In the mean time you can read them.




“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely. ... He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.” 
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I have been wrestling all week with what to write about Love for this Reflection You might think it an easy subject. Perhaps it is the result of locking my heart away for many many years in an effort to protect it from being broken any further that I now still struggle to feel love.  Love is something that is very hard for me to feel or fully understand.  I can rationalize it and understand love from the perspective of commitment. I can understand that Christ would leave his heavenly home and come because He loves you and I. 

In general however, Love is elusive and seems difficult for me to grasp. Oh I know all the verses. John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 
or John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son....
I know 1Corinthians 13 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I am a very visual person and as I searched looking for someway to express my thoughts on this subject I found this painting called Rain by Laura Diehl. The painter may have thought nothing of the Love of God when she created this painting. I look at it and it speaks to me of God’s love in a way I can understand. I can feel the rain, I feel it wet and cold on my face. I feel it saturate my hair and soak my clothes. I understand wet, I understand rain. I can touch it, taste it, I can smell it in the wind. I live in the Pacific Northwest, I know rain. I can paint rain, I can describe rain, I can show you rain. 

Love is something that we need to experience like rain. We need to be saturated and soaked in God’s love. Perhaps your heart is broken and wounded like mine has been. Mine is a lot better than it once was. God's done a considerable amount of healing. Maybe your heart is no longer able to hold love. God could fill it over and over and His love would just leaks right out of the cracks. You might feel his Love while you are in a worship service but as soon as you leave it all leaks out and you are right back to empty. I understand, I've been there too. 

Do you see the desperation on the child’s face? 

We sing a song by Michael W. Smith that says 
“this is the air I breathe...
Your holy presence living in me
this is my daily bread...
Your very word spoken to me
And I, I'm desperate for you
And I, I'm I'm lost without you”
(Here's the link if you are not familiar with this song or would like to listen to it. http://youtu.be/K-0EgzOWkvc)

This is the love that you and I need to experience. We need to be saturated until the parched, dusty barren dry desert lands of our heart become saturated and able to produce a rich harvest and become a bountiful planting of the Lord. We need the Lord to Soak us, wash us, refresh us in His presence. He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. None of us deserve the love he lavishes upon us. Every good and perfect gift that we have is from his hand. 

"The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly
 because of the knowledge of his love." Julian of Norwich

Those of us who are broken and struggle to feel or contain love - need the rain of the Lords love and presence to come now and heal and restore us. We need Him to make us wells of salvation. We need him to make us carriers and couriers of His presence. Come Lord - come fill us and pour us out but don’t leave us empty and dry. In your great love continually fill us to overflowing again and again. That the world around us would know we are Christians by our love. 

I will end as I began “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely. ... He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”


This picture is our prayer today. Not a prayer of words but an image to lock in our minds. It is a visual prayer. Will you lift your hands like the child in the painting  allow the Lord to rain on you with his Love. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Servants Entrance

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

I was at a funeral today and noticed a sign over the front door of the church that you would see as you were leaving the building. It said Servants Entrance.  Get it, we go out from our churches to serve others. We don't wait for them to come to us. Jesus stepped out of heaven and into our world. As His servant we need to be willing to leave our churches and go out into the world around us to be His hands and feet.
We are after all His servants. 

Mark 16:15
He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
 
I think sometimes we get to focused on our own needs. We come seeking God's healing or blessing. We come to be set free or delivered. Sometimes to feel his presence. 
I think this sign is a good reminder. Certainly we come in and we do experience God's healing and presence. We do get set free but it is easy to then forget to go back to serve a confused and hurting world with his love.  

The Parable of the Great Banquet
Luke 14
15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

You may find as you go out like the servant in this parable that the folks you invite are too busy. Our master want's his house to bee filled. I believe that many of us are now being sent out to the streets to bring in the homeless, the broken, the addicted. The handicapped, the outcast, the sex offender, the criminals.....


http://video.kxly.com/watch.php?id=33488


I've been writing a lot for the need for mission churches in the inner city. The three homeless people and their dog, in the news story, have been attending our church for a while. We have been able to help JoJo go to Las Vegas to live with his dad. We are also working with Bonnie and Justin to get back to her father in Alaska. Mission churches are not likely to become mega churches. The people we minister too are with us for varied lengths of time. We rejoice when they get a place to live or are able to get to family in other places for a fresh start. We accept and love them and do what we can to help them put their lives back together. Theres a lot more we could do but the workers are few. In most places you take the time to disciple people and they stick around and become part of the ministry and help reach out to others. In this environment one has to be willing to give without expectations of getting something in return.  There is an eternal reward - God sees and he knows. Anyway we are excited for these three getting a fresh start. They will move on and God will send us others. Please be praying for Bonnie, Justin and JoJo. They all three have come faithfully to help clean the church on Mondays. They gave when they had nothing to give and God is blessing them each with fresh starts. 

If you would like to help please visit our web site at http://www.fccspokane.org.  If you want to help this mission church to be there for folks like Bonnie, Justin and JoJo click the ABOUT tab and use Tithes and Offering link at the bottom to get to a secure paypal donation page.  
If you would like to help provide meals for the homeless and poor use the StreetWise Tab 

You can also just send a check if that's easier. 

First Covenant Church
212 S Division
Spokane Wa 99202

My blog has grown far beyond my original friend circle. I would love to send you a personal thank you for helping. It helps if you will let us know that you are a "Devotional Mosaic" Blog Reader, or just put "Margot's blog" - that would work too.   Thanks to those of you who have already helped. 

Prayer:
Lord help us to remember as we go out of our homes and our churches that we are passing through the servants entrance out into the world. Lead us to people that we can love until they ask us why. 



Thursday, February 21, 2013

What Can you Learn from a Guy Named Barnabas?


A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Click Here To Order This Card
Acts11:22- 24
News of this reached the ears 
of the church at Jerusalem, and they 
sent Barnabas to Antioch.  23 When he 
arrived and saw the evidence 
of the grace of God, he was glad 
and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  
24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit 
and faith, and a great number of people 
were brought to the Lord.


I posted this back in September but from the looks of my blog stats only two people even saw it. A few more folks may have gotten in their e-mail but it seems pretty safe to say it got missed. I suppose now that I have over 400 posts it does not hurt to re-publish or re-work some of them from time to time.

I've had a non stop kind of day and I am now at my moms and am going to spend time with here rather than writing a new post tonight. Hopefully if my stats are correct most of you missed it anyway so it will be new to you. For the few who might have seen it already I hope something about it hits you in a new and fresh way.

I also wanted to make sure you were aware of my Devotions A-Ze-book.  
Source: payhip.com via Margot on Pinterest
http://payhip.com/b/dGY2


Today I wanted to talk about a guy named Barnabas. The Bible tells us he was a Levite of the country of Cyprus. If you recall there were 12 tribes of Israel. The Levites were the one who were not given a portion of the land as their inheritance. Instead land was set aside for them with in all the tribes because they were the ones who were set aside to take care of the Tabernacle ( the big moving tent of worship to God) later when the Temple was built they were still the ones in charge of its services and up keep. Any way Barnabas was a Levite designated to serve in the temple and in a subordinate rack to the priests.

It is interesting that Barnabas gets mentioned in the New Testament 29 times. He is the one who went to find Saul / Paul and "took him and brought him to the apostles.  Keep in mind that Saul had been persecuting and killing off the Christian believers until he had an encounter with God on the road to Damascus. You can understand why the leaders of the church at that time might have had reason to be very cautious about a guy like Saul.

Barnabas was one of those people who was able to come along side of Saul and had the credibility with in the church to open doors for Saul - who's name was changed to Paul. Barnabas actual name was Joses. He must have really been quite remarkable because he is called Barnabas which means Son of Encouragement. In Acts 11:24 it says "For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith."
He was a good man which means his character was above reproach. He was full of the Holy Spirit which explains the powerful and effective ministry he had. He was full of faith which is evidenced through his encouragement of Paul and his some what flakey nephew Mark. Who became in his later years a very effective minister of the gospel. He continued to believe in people even when they let him down at times. His faith is also evidenced in his on going encouragement of the church.

So what can we learn from a guy like Barnabas?
• Encouragement is one way we can help others.
• Encouragement opens the way for us to share the gospel with unbelievers.
• We all need people to come along side us and encourage us to move by faith.
• We all need to look for opportunities to encourage others. One never know how far a kind word will go and how many people will be effected by the ripples it creates.

I heard someone say recently" Paul asked: What can people do for God's work - Barnabas asked: What can God's work do for people."  Barnabas and Paul had quite a partnership in ministry. In the early years you will see it listed as Barnabas and Paul later Paul's name is the first name. Which is an indication that Paul had stepped up to take the lead. Barnabas was the kind of person who could step back and allow another to be in the forefront.  In Acts 14:14 it is interesting to see that both are listed as apostles. It reads "But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this....."
It is also noted pretty clearly in Acts 4:37 that Barnabas was a generous person. "having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet." This was not something that he had to do but it was something that he simply had a heart to do.

Barnabas is an interesting guy and one who sets a good example for us to follow as believers. You may not be the person in the background of someone like Paul, but perhaps there are people in your life who are more in the spot light because you have been their Barnabas.  We are not all called to the spotlight and those who are really can't do what they do with out people who are backing them up. I suppose if you are one of those in the spot light folks, I would remind you to look at the folks who have come along side you and don't take their service for granted.
We are all in this together - for His glory.

Prayer:
Dear Lord,
Thank you for the people in our lives who have been there to encourage us on our journey. Help us to look around and begin more and more to encourage others around us. We all have varied gifts and callings and places with in your church and your kingdom. Help us to be thankful for the people who encourage us and help us to pass that gift of grace on to others.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Taking off The Mask

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Taking off the Mask - a work in progress by Margot
We are all lepers. Even if we hide our sores under the finest clothes, and lie to each other, to convince ourselves that we are healthy and happy... Forgetting the only real reason we should be happy: that God loves us, despite the sores we hide. God loves us so much that He became one of us, and was nailed naked to the cross, showing His sores to the world. -St. Francis 

I have just started on a new painting called Taking off the Mask. We are doing a new prayer loft installation. This one is called Transformations. The idea came from a divine appointment kind of unexpected conversation. I happened to be talking to a young woman who attend my church. I've talked to her other times but its always been about music. Somehow our conversation this time moved to art. I guess I must have asked what classes she was taking. I was surprised that she was taking art classes. She shared with me how they were making masks. I asked if she might be interested in helping with the next prayer loft. At the time I was at a loss for a theme or a direction. I went home that day and just kept thinking about masks. 

We all wear them, some of us put them on for various occasions others live in them just about all the time. I suppose I can really identify with the concept of hiding behind one's mask because I spent a lot of years putting on the mask and playing the part I thought various people expected of me. Eventually it became confusing and I started to loose track of the real me. 

“No man, for any considerable period, 
can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, 
without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” 
― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

I have had conversations with others who are mask wearers and wall builders. They want to stay safe and to not be hurt by people. Sometimes they fear if anyone really knew them they would not want to know them. Isolation seems to be the answer. 

“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
James Arthur Baldwin 

My painting has a long way to go still. I think I can honestly say that I don't were my masks much anymore. It took courage to ask Jesus to help me to take down the walled fortresses that I had built and to be the same person inside and out. It has taken courage to allow people to see my flaws. I have discovered that as I have taken down my walls and taken off my masks that I have discovered that there are a lot of people just like me. Probably just like you. Fighting the same feelings of insecurity, trying to cover up the cracks and brokenness. 

I'm not sure I have the whole message worked out at this point. It is the love and acceptance of Jesus that helps us to be able to take off the mask. He sees us as we really are. Some times our masks are not so much about hiding shame and brokenness but about putting on our game face. You know, you go to church in your Sunday best. That not just your clothes its often your best mask too. You try to act the part of the good, got it all together Christian. 

We all have good days and bad days. We all have days when the Spiritual and life battles become terrifying. We have days when we are discouraged or confused. I'm not saying to throw your precious pearl to the pigs. I am saying the more I take the mask off and allow people to know me the more I find that I am not alone. We all struggle with similar kinds of things. To listen, love and care does not necessarily mean you need to have the answer or even be able to fix what is broken in someone else. What we do need to do is remind others that our God is way bigger than any of our problems. We need to pray for one another. Confess our sins to one another. Learn to be honest with each other. Learn to be led by the Holy Spirit so that we are quick to respond when our heart is moved to help in some way.
Masks seem to be kind wrapped in a kind of paradox. You want to hide behind them but on the other hand you desperately wish someone would notice you.  

I found this quote by songwriter Rich Mullins. 
Some of us are so afraid that God's not going to look at us. So we're out there doing all sorts of things to get God to take notice, but folks, God notices you. The fact is, He can't take His eyes off of you. However badly you think of yourself, God is crazy about you. God is in love with you. Some of us even fear that someday we'll do something so bad that He won't notice you anymore. Well, let me tell you, God loves us completely. And He knew us at our worst before He ever began to love us at all. And in the love of God, there are no degrees, there is only love.-Rich Mullins

In my painting the face behind the mask will have cracks and look sort of like a broken porcelain doll. Matthew West's song talks about broken girls but boys get broken too.
The other two are songs I found that I hope will encourage you to allow Jesus to take your mask and to begin healing the places that are broken in you. I suppose weather it is a broken heart or a broken self image, we all need the compassionate hand of Jesus to reach out and meet us in our darkness. Anyway my painting tend to evolve or my understanding of them does as I work on them. This one seems to be about God's willingness to heal our broken self image if we will trust him and give him the mask. He already knows your every brused and broken place. I hope you will let him come in and let the healing begin. 
 

 
Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

There are three videos included with this post. I have embedded them and also included links for my e-mail readers. You may still need to click on the post title to get back to my site to see them. I try to test these on various devices and I noticed on my i phone that I had trouble opening the videos yesterday. So I'm also including the links. 

Broken Girl by Matthew West

The Healing Has Begun

Cry of the Broken 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Holy - An Online Worship Service

I have been playing with the idea of creating on-line worship services that move you through a series of videos and thoughts to experience the Lord in your private quite time or in a small group. I will eventually at a button that will take you to another blog I am working on called Online Worship Service. I'd love to hear how the Lord moves you as you experience this service.  I've tried to make sure the songs contain the words so you can sing along or simply reflect on the words as you listen.

 I have a wide love for many musical and worship styles try to be led by the Spirit as a choose songs. I pray you will be blessed and refreshed that in the quiet spaces of instrumental music you will pray and listen and allow the Lord to speak to you. The focus of this service is the Holiness of God ~ Margot

PS. If you get this in your e-mail click on the post title to get to the official page so you can enjoy the videos.


Isaiah 48:16-18  (NIV1984)

“Come near me and listen to this:
“From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there.” 
And now the Sovereign Lord has sent me, with his Spirit. 

This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, 
who directs you in the way you should go. 
If only you had paid attention to my commands, 
your peace would have been like a river, 
your righteousness like the waves of the sea.


Holy After All - David Crowder Band


Brother Sun, Sister Moon


Beautiful Exchange


Holy - Kim Walker Jesus Culture


Deep In the River - Spontaneous Worship


Piano and Violin Duet - Rain by Brian Crain


Lord, You are Holy,
You have taken us as broken as we are and loved us before we even knew you. You made a beautiful exchange, giving the life of your beloved son Jesus. We honor you, we bow our hearts,  our minds filled with so many thoughts, we bow our knees before you in worship. You are worth of all blessing, honor and glory and praise.
Amen

Have you been filled up and refreshed in the Lord's presence? Go and poor it out today in kindness, compassion and acts of mercy. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you down from the mountain top and out among the broken and the desperate. You are his hands and feet - touch the world around you with His Love.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Who Cares - Art Reflection


I shared this art reflection in our service Sunday. You will see some places where I put .... because I shortened the quote text for time purposes. If you want the whole thing word for word click on the painting to go to a site where you can read it. 

General William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army, had a vision one day while traveling. He wrote a compelling sermon that has been depicted in this painting. Time does 
not allow for me to share the whole thing but if you click on the painting it will take you to a site where you can read it. This post is intended as more of an art reflection. 

  
I encountered that sermon and this picture when I was a new believer. It profoundly affected me and has stuck with me for 30 years.  Let me share some of General Booths own words. 

“I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightning flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.
In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating; shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed, they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.

And I saw out of this dark, angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with its summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.

On looking more closely, I found a number of those who had been rescued, were industriously working with ladders, ropes, boats, and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of this sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of all the consequences, in their passion to “rescue the perishing.” And I hardly know which gladdened me most-the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks, reaching the place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those who were wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.

As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company. That is, they were divided into different “sets” or classes, and they occupied themselves with different pleasures and employment. But only a very few of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.

But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all about it.... and about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes, many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers, and sisters, and even their own children.” 

I think the artist did a pretty good job of capturing the vision. I have watched seen a lot of people come into the Kingdom of God and I am always astonished how quickly people seem to forget where they came from. They get busy pursuing the next big move of God. When they choose their churches they want great show, with music, with feel good teaching, and for their children to be entertained. They joined the bless me Jesus club not the one that requires that they pick up their cross and follow him. "

Listen to a little more from General Booth I saw that some Of these people on the platform, whom the Wonderful Being had called to come and help Him in His difficult task of saving these perishing creatures, but they were always praying and crying out to Him to come to them.
Some wanted Him to come and stay with them and spend His time and strength in making them happier. Others wanted Him to come and take away their doubts and misgivings they about the truth of some letters which He had written them. Some wanted Him to come and make them feel more secure on the rock... Numbers of others wanted Him to make them feel quite certain that they would really get off the rock and onto the mainland someday;” 

So I want to know where are you in the painting?  

General Booth ends by saying “My friends in Christ, you are rescued from the waters, you are on the rock. He is in the dark sea calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go?”

Prayer: Lord you know where each of us is in the painting. Help us to be honest right now with ourselves and with you. Some need to come out of the ocean. Some of us need to move from our place of ease and complacency and be reminded that our job here is not done. We need reminded that there is a sea of lost and hurting people who need to be loved into the Kingdom. Help us to examine our priorities and to make sure they line up with yours. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

It's Just One Ant

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Proverbs 6:6-8
6Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.

I think we often feel powerless as if the little we could give or contribute would not really be enough to make a difference. I believe the powers of darkness work over time to keep us thinking that way. What we don't realize is that if a lot of us did just a little, big things could happen. 

Click Photo To Visit and Listen to Healing Stream Stations
I hear my friend Mark Kenny of Healing Stream Media inviting people to help with launching another station or to support the 6 that already exist. Sometimes I am able to help and other times I'm frustrated because I'm not sure how I am going to keep gas in the cars or food on the table. Sometimes I allow that feeling of powerlessness to sink in and hold me back when I should take a step of faith even if its a very little one. What if you and I decided that we wanted to stand up and resist those feelings of lack and powerlessness. What if we heard those appeals and we decided that we would do something.

There is a different radio station my church supports in Alaska that reaches out to the Soviet Union it is supported by everyone, in every Covenant Church, giving one dollar, on one Sunday of the Year. There is power that is released when we decide to push past those feelings of lack and powerlessness  to stand together in unity to do something.  

Do you remember the scene in the movie A Bugs Life. The Bad Boss grasshopper is trying to impress on his minions that if one ant stands up, others might also and before you know it there goes their way of life. Its a powerful little clip. If you are getting this in your e-mail you will have to click on the post title to get back the main site to see it, or here's the YouTube Link http://youtu.be/VLbWnJGlyMU

I have been writing this week about God's heart towards the poor and the need for Mission Churches in America. We have churches that are thriving and others like my own that is made up of 3/4's homeless and poor people each Sunday that are not really able to support themselves. The question our staff and board wrestles with is how do you do church in America if most of your congregation lives under the bridge, or in shelters or subsidized housing? We pray and God has supplied in amazing ways to keep the doors open so we can continue to minister to our very poor neighbors.  It is however a constant struggle that we wrestle with and continually lift before the Lord. In most places it is enough to pass the plate on a Sunday. I sometimes ask God why there is such inequity with in His "Church".  Often we think we are doing great things for God by building cushy buildings for our people or erecting giant Jesus statues that eventually get struck by lightening and putting resources to building another.

Source: grist.org via Margot on Pinterest

Maybe rebuilding statues is a great testimony of faith but I have to think it is yet another thing that the languishing world around us mocks and laughs at particularly when our streets are filled with homeless people. We have a society of Christians who for the most part think their Christian duty is fulfilled simply by attending church services. So as I wrestle with the inequities, I find God saying to me "Who can I send, who will go for me." I realize that I am to be a voice for change. A voice that causes people to examine their priorities. 

I contend that if you are spending time in God's presence and enjoying amazing times of worship or in the word that you should get filled up and then go out and pour it out to those who are hungry or thirsty.  Perhaps you experienced personal healing and being set free from the things that have held you in bondage - that is great. That is certainly wonderful but you can't just stay there. You have to take that new found healing and freedom in Christ and do something with it. You have to come off the dang mountain and use what you have received to minister to a broken, lost and hurting world. Too often we are spending the anointing of God on our own pleasure and comfort. Isaiah had an incredible experience in the Lord's presence but he did not remain there. He heard God's call to "go" and he responded as should you and I.

Isaiah 6:7-9

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
With it he touched my mouth and said, 
“See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
    be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’    

I'm pretty sure it was a frusting call to be sent to people who would not hear, or understand. He was sent to people who had hard hearts toward God despite the fact that God had done countless miracles in their midst. Difficulty is not necessarily a sign that God is not working in something. His blessings often come in unlikely packages, that are harder than we might expect. It is because we need to learn dependance on Him.

This picture is depicting a powerful article by William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army is forever etched in my mind. Look at the people on the bridge who have been saved from the sea. They have completely forgotten the sea full of perishing people from which they came.

It's easy to think the problems in our world will be solved by someone else. That it's not our problem that people live under the bridge, or are held in bondage to poverty or addiction. That people are still in our century sold in to slavery. Sometimes our attitude is they made their bed - now they can lie in it. I'm not convinced that is the heart of God. 

Blessed is he who is poor in spirit....(Matthew 5:3)...for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Most of us are not farmers and our's is not an agricultural society, but I think we have to think how this verse fits and apply in our technological world of today.  Leviticus 23:22
“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 15:11
“There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.”

Proverbs 14:31
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Proverbs 21:13
“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”

Isaiah 58:6-7
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

I've only chose a few of the many verses one can find on this subject - and lest you think it all old testament here are more expressing the same heart of God toward the poor in the New Testament. 

Luke 3:11
“John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.’”

Luke 4:18
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.”



There are a lot of places where one can help to advance God's kingdom. My friends at the Healing Stream have 6 wonderful and very different stations that will bless and encourage you. Take a listen and then visit the donation page and help keep them on the air. Click the line of photos to get to their site they have easy secure online donation buttons all set up under the donate tab.


My own little church could use your help consider giving to a mission church that is regularly feeding and ministering to the homeless and poor. Our seats are filled with poor people and our offering plates are filled with change. I don't think its God's intention for them to stay poor and homeless but it is a considerable journey that requires a lot of love, patience support and prayer. Please pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send workers into this harvest field. I invite you to be part of what God is doing, it is a work of transformation and hope. If you can't go to such a mission field - than give.

There are two places on our web site http://www.fccspokane.org/ 
where you can give an online donation. 

1. If you want to help support a church for the homeless and poor pull down the "About" tab an at the bottom you will find Tithes and Offerings and that will take you to a paypal donation page.

2. If you would like to help pay to feed the homeless a hot meal each week you would use the "Streetwise" tab and donate though paypal to Streetwise.

                                               Thanks, Margot 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Sheep and Goat Standard

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions 
and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

I could tell you stories about each of these people-they are the faces of real people that we minister to every week.
Its Valentines day and I could write some sappy love piece but I'm not because I believe that love is more than lip service, nice words, dinner out, flowers and a box of chocolates. When I look at Jesus' example of love I see that love is action, love is laying down your life, making sacrifices and caring for others. Love is leaving your place of comfort and to go to be born in a smelly barn and to hang on a cross. Love does not stop when our own life is healed, prosperous, and strong, love turns around and goes back for the out casts and the lepers of our world.

My post today is about God's heart for the poor.  Did you know that the word "poor" is found 175 times in the bible? I found the word homeless one time and surprisingly not about the people I expected to be homeless. You expect that those who know the Lord and follow his word - should prosper right? We are pretty steeped in the American Apple Pie Prosperity Gospel because guess who the homeless are in 1 Corinthians 4? Its the apostles. They actually followed Jesus's example. He left his home to reach those who were broken and perishing. So did they. Here's what the apostles have to say. "8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world."

If these guys, the apostles who were the closest to Jesus and are presumably his best trained representatives. Would it not seem to you that they probably had a handle on what was important to Jesus. We find them laying down their lives for others. They are sacrificing many of the pleasures of life so that they can accomplish the priorities of Jesus. I am not saying that you need to dress in sack cloth and ashes or move to a box under the bridge, I am saying that we should care about those who are suffering. That care should be more than agreeing that something should be done to help. We should be finding ways that we can make a difference.

There are days when after ministering to street people that it is hard for me to sleep because I know I am in a warm bed and they are under the bridge in the cold. I am surrounded by a sea of needy people, I have to pray Lord what do you want me to do because I can't do it all. Sometimes it is simple kindness, or to listen and encourage. Sometimes I work in the kitchen serving a meal, sometimes I sit at the tables and visit with people. Sometimes I go home because I'm tired and that ok too. Sometimes it is to appeal to my Christian brothers and sisters and asking Will You Help!

My family is not rich, we struggle to pay the bills each month. I don't have a big house but I have made room on my couch for the night for homeless friends who missed getting into the shelter or who's dog got hit by a car and they were beside them self with grief.  Trust me I try to be very wise and discerning about who I bring home. I realize that one of my assets my couch. So I try to use it to bless others from time to time. If I can help - so can you.

Here's the standard that I try to live by:
I call it the sheep and the goat standard. I want to be a sheep. So heres the things sheep should be doing. Its not that we should not have good things, it is really more that if we do we should be a channel through which blessings flow to those who are in need. Here's Matthew 25 and what Jesus says to the sheep.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36 I needed clothes and you clothed me,  I was sick and you looked after me,  I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

A lady who spent the night on our couch recently, got into her own place. She needed a table, I had an extra one in my garage. What should I do? It's really a no brainer - give her the table.

Isaiah 58:10
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
 
What is true religion or how true faith in God should be manifest in our lives?
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 

Widows and orphans at the time this verse was spoken were the lowest of the low. They could own no land, and they were dependent on men of their family to provide for them. If they had no men in their family they had no real way to support themselves. Orphans were even lower they did not even have a mother to care for and comfort them. 

Being a good Christian is more than going to church or attending a mid week bible study and talking about faith. True Christianity is taking those things we have discovered in the Word and putting them to practice. It's not all big things sometimes its taking a bag of wet clothes home and washing them for someone who slept under the bridge because everything they owned was wet. 

I am not saying that everyone should be a missionary or that everyone is called to work in inner cities with the poor and homeless. I do think we are all called to care and to help in some way. 
 
Luke 3:11 John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
 
Churches or people who have a lot should be helping those who have little 
and are reaching people with very little.  There are always people who are less fortunate than us even if we are homeless and living on the streets.
 
 Will You Give A Financial Love Gift to help?
We could do so much more if you would partner with us?


There are two places on our web site http://www.fccspokane.org/ 
where you can give an online donation. 

1. If you want to help support a church for the homeless and poor pull down the "About" tab an at the bottom you will find Tithes and Offerings and that will take you to a paypal donation page.

2. If you would like to help pay to feed the homeless a hot meal each week you would use the "Streetwise" tab and donate though paypal to Streetwise.

                                               Thanks, Margot