The Simplicity of Compassion

Thanksgiving was just around the corner, and for the first time ever I was standing in line at the food bank. I wasn’t there for myself. I was just the driver. Beside me, stood a single mom and her four-year-old son. She had contacted me days earlier in a panic.

“I’m wondering if your church can help me. I need a ride to the food bank to pick up my Thanksgiving box,” she said as soon as I answered the phone. “I just keep getting the run around. No one will help me.”

Simplicity Girl with red hair

We talked for a few minutes. She explained her situation, and I realized this mom didn’t have a car because of a car accident. She just needed a ride. That’s it. How easy is that? So we made the appointment to pick up her Thanksgiving box on the day the food bank was distributing them.

There we stood, waiting in line, getting acquainted, watching the well-oiled system and the energetic volunteers at the food bank. Tina (as we’ll call her) turned in her slip that said she had completed the necessary paperwork and went about filling her boxes. Some of the boxes were prefilled, and she conscientiously removed items she would not use so that others could use them. The process took less than fifteen minutes, but it put food on the table so this little family could eat, not just on Thanksgiving but also beyond the holiday.

As we were loading the car, Tina stopped mid-action and looked at me, her eyes sincere and grateful.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome.” I replied, “But it’s not a big deal. That’s what we’re here for.”

She shook her head emphatically. “No, you don’t understand. I called churches all over town, but your church was the only one willing to help a single mom. Thank you.”

My heart sank. How could that be true? Later that week, I started doing a little research. I already knew that 41% of American children are born into fatherless homes. I discovered that in Billings 32% of children are growing up in single-parent homes, roughly 75% of those homes being fatherless. But tears came to my eyes when I discovered that nationwide, only 1% of churches has any type of ministry specifically to single-parent families. How could there be such a vast disparity between the need and the number of those reaching out to meet it?

Often the needs of the fatherless seem overwhelming. We see pictures of droves children with big eyes, empty tummies, and outstretched hands, and we wonder how we will ever meet the need. And then we walk away. Not because we do not care, but because we’re overwhelmed. Meeting those needs, however, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. No, we may not be able to meet every single need, but perhaps we can meet one. One need met, followed by another need met, followed by yet another need met leads to the meeting of many needs—a simple fulfillment of the compassion which moved us in the first place.

Earlier this year, a friend of Forbid Them Not was moved with compassion. A homeschool mom, she considered the amount that it would have cost her if she’d had to buy school supplies for all of her children to attend public school. Then she considered the many families that would struggle to buy everything on their school list. She approached Forbid Them Not about partnering together to help meet that need.

As a result of last year’s Green Bean Project, we had forty pounds of school supplies waiting to be put to use this fall! We’d also been given some beautiful children’s Bibles as well as some coloring books on forgiveness. Between those things, and the donations of individuals and local businesses we were able not only to help ten children with backpacks and school supplies but also to help supplement a third grade class with many students who were not able to get everything on their lists!

Did it take a little effort, organization, and time on our part? Yes! Of course it did! But that simple act made a difference—a lasting difference. You see, I’ve since had reports of the children using their Bibles with excitement. One grandmother thanked me for the coloring book and said, “This is so needed. We will definitely be going through this.”

Maybe you were part of last year’s Green Bean Project and felt that you didn’t do much. Maybe you weren’t sure it would really make that much of a difference. But it did! Not only were we able to provide these school supplies as a result of the GBP, but over the course of the year the funds that went to FTN also helped us to provide a car battery in one situation and groceries in several other situations. Your simple act of compassion made a difference and will continue to.

Earlier this year, we interviewed two single moms to learn from them and gain their perspective on how a ministry like FTN can best walk alongside of them and others in similar situations. When asked, “What do you feel is your greatest asset?” one of the moms gave an answer I will never forget. She said, “God bringing the right people into our lives at the right time.” Each of us could be that person so long as our hearts are attuned to God’s leading.

The answer does not lie in a massive government program. The struggle these families face sits at our door, waiting for us to take action. Compassion isn’t complicated. It’s simple. It is love and sorrow compelling us to move. All we have to do is act.

Will you join us in making a difference? Click the link below to be a part of this year’s Green Bean Project.

 

If you haven’t already, please join us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

 

Back the Green Bean Project Here!

 

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What IS the Green Bean Project?

Over the years, I’ve had many people ask me, “Just what is the Green Bean Project?” To be honest, I know when I share about the project everything in my heart tends to well up and a TON of information pours out. To me, it seems simple and straight forward, but sometimes I leave people in a dither. So this is my attempt to simplify all that heart gushing in one clear and concise post.

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The Short Answer:

The Green Bean Project is a fundraiser. That’s the ugly truth. Ministries have needs and often those needs are met by funds. But there’s more to it than that. There’s a vision behind the fundraising.

The Vision:

The vision behind the Green Bean Project is to give God’s people an opportunity to visit the fatherless in their affliction (James 1:27) as we bless ministries working with the fatherless by meeting their specific needs through the love, giving, and action of those who participate in the project.

Why?

Why is this so important? The answer is multi-faceted. Caring for the Fatherless:

Is God’s Command – God’ mentions the fatherless more than 40 times in the Bible. He repeats the commands to visit them, defend them, and judge their cause throughout those passages. He also passes severe judgment upon His people when they neglect the fatherless and the widow. For a complete list of references dealing with the fatherless, click here.

Is a God-ordained form of Worship – In James 1:27, God defines pure religion (the carrying out of our faith, worship) as visiting the fatherless and the widow in their affliction and keeping oneself unspotted from the world. The second one often receives greater attention because it can easily be thrown into a checklist, but visiting the fatherless and the widows is equally important in God’s eyes.

Allows us to demonstrate God’s love and His plan for Redemption – In nearly every reference to adoption in the New Testament, God is speaking of redemption. Caring for the fatherless whether through projects like this one, praying, mentoring, fostering, or adoption provides amazing opportunity for God’s people to become living pictures of redemption.

The Green Bean Project gives us the opportunity to either to take the first steps in caring for the fatherless or to grow in the care we are already giving. It allows us to come alongside of those caring for the fatherless through their ministries in the U.S., Africa, and Asia.

The How

You might be wondering how the Green Bean Project Works. Here’s a quick step-by-step account of how it normally goes:

  1. Each year, the missionaries leading the ministries involved provide a list of specific needs. These needs touch the lives of 500-600 children every year.
  2. When the Green Bean Project launches, usually either October 1st or November 1st, Forbid Them Not shares those needs with you through our website, blog, emails, and social media accounts.
  3. Over the course of the project, we ask you to prayerfully consider what God would have you to do to help meet these needs.
  4. God’s people pray and give.
  5. At then end of the Green Bean Project, December 31st, the total amount received is tallied and we praise the Lord for His wonderful works!
  6. After the New Year, we divide the funds evenly between the ministries. Sometimes, the needed items can be purchased in country. In those situations, the funds are sent to their mission agency and applied to their account. At other times, the items need to be purchased in the States and shipped. In those situations, we do the shopping for the missionaries and then package and ship the purchases. Any remaining funds are then sent to their mission agency and applied to the missionaries’ account.
  7. A Final Update. Often things happened during the period of point number 6 that further display God’s provision. We always try to share those events with you, so you can see the full picture of what God has done—at least as full as we can give you this side of eternity.

 

So, to sum it all up, the Green Bean Project is an opportunity for us to put our faith into action. It’s an opportunity to meet the needs of children in desperate physical need, while at the same time living out for them the love Christ demonstrated to us on the cross. It’s a place to begin, a place to grow, and a place to help ministries to the fatherless thrive.

Participate Here!

2017 Green Bean Project is Here!

Today is the big day! Today launches this year’s Green Bean Project. Some of you may be very familiar with the GBP, while for others this is entirely new. For those of you who are just learning about the project, the GBP started as a result of one woman’s kindness in the midst of holiday shopping mayhem. That moment was an enormous lesson to me about the importance of stepping out of sleeve-brushing distance and right into people’s lives—specifically the lives of the orphan ministries we were working with at the time. Life situations do not always allow us to be right there on the field with a missionary, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a relevant part in their work. Each year, the GBP seeks to meet specific needs faced by each of four ministries.

Over the next six weeks, we’ll be sharing more about each of these ministry with you. Acts 1:8 says,

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

This year, we’re going to take a look at how the Lord is enabling Forbid Them Not to reach into our Jerusalem, our Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the Earth, and how you can have a part in that through the Green Bean Project.

For now, we want to invite you to join us for this online event. This is an amazing way for each of us to add to our account as Paul said in Philippians 4:17. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, please join us on Facebook. We’re excited to see how God will work through this year’s Green Bean Project!

LATE ADDITION:

In the final days before the launch of this year’s Green Bean Project, we realized that the needs of each ministry are much bigger this time than any previous year. Please check out this Facebook Live video, which shares a little about those needs and what God has already begun to do.

Please help us spread the word by sharing our blogs with others!

Just Around The Corner

October is quickly coming to an end, which means the Green Bean Project is just around the corner. We’re excited to be sharing a lot of new information with you this year, and to have an opportunity to introduce you to the international ministries in a way we’ve never been able to in the past.

The Green Bean Project will be starting November 1st. For now, we ask that you join us in prayer for the project that:

  1. God would be glorified,
  2. Hearts would be stirred for the need of the fatherless,
  3. God will grow each of these ministries through this project, and
  4. Specific needs of each ministry will be met through this project.

Thank you so much for your prayer and support of Forbid Them Not and the Green Bean Project. We look forward to sharing more with you about how God has used your faithfulness to help us reach the fatherless.

 

 

Why We’re Moving the Green Bean Project and What to Expect

Fall is certainly here! In fact, I’ve already seen snow. How about you?

The last three months of the year are some of my favorites. In our family, in addition to all of the usual holidays we also have multiple birthdays and anniversaries in October and November, and of course the Green Bean Project!

Beans Extracted

Normally, we would be announcing the start of the Green Bean Project on October 1st, but this year, with everything else that has been going on, we felt the need to push the start date back to November 1st.

Some of you reading this may be wondering, “What is the Green Bean Project?” That’s a great question. The Green Bean Project (GBP) started in 2010 with a “reality check” and a list of specific needs from three missionaries working with orphans in their respective countries. Each year since, we have been able to meet various needs, providing school supplies, textbooks, fabric for school uniforms, clothing, and small financial gifts to each of the ministries. You can watch a video telling of the project’s origin here.

In 2013, we added FTN’s “Loving Locally” program to the project. This program reaches out to fatherless children, single moms, non-parental guardians, and foster families here in Billings, MT. Our 2017 outreach was completely dependent on what came in through the 2016 GBP. Through it we were able to help provide groceries, a car battery, backpacks and school supplies for multiple fatherless families while developing a relationship and opportunities to share Christ with the women and children in need. So you can see how very important this project is to this ministry!

This year we will be taking a slightly different approach than we have in the past. We will be sharing with you in our blogs and social media a little about each of FTN’s three primary areas of ministry: OUR Jerusalem, Judea, and the Uttermost Parts of the Earth. They break down like this:

Jerusalem – Billings, MT

Judea/Samaria – Our immediate surrounding region/Other locations in the US

The Uttermost Parts of the Earth – The three international ministries.

As I said, we’ve decided to push the start date back to November 1st, but the project will have the same ultimate goal: Helping each of these ministries honor the Lord as they reach out to the fatherless with the love of Christ. Here are a few important dates to keep in mind as you consider what part the Lord might have you to take in this years GBP:

Wednesday, November 1 – GBP begins.

Sunday, November 12th – National Orphan Sunday

Monday, November 27th – Cyber Monday – Do your shopping through Amazon Smile to help boost the GBP

Tuesday, November 28th – #GivingTuesday

Saturday, December 9th – Join us for our annual Christmas Open House here in Billings.

Sunday, December 31 – GBP Ends

We’ll be using these two months to share a lot more about each area of the ministry, what it’s all about, and how we would like to see it grow—so you won’t want to miss anything. Here are the best ways to follow along:

Check out our website

Like our Facebook page

Join our Facebook group

Follow our Blog

We’re looking forward to seeing what God will do through this year’s Green Bean Project and hope you will join us!

(Rachel)

 

 

 

 

End of the Growing Season

“I will never buy those again!”

I turned toward the voice and spotted a tall man, standing next to his wife and pointing at a brightly colored flower on the shelves at Lowe’s. I laughed inwardly at the immense effort it required of me NOT to shout out, “ME EITHER!!!!”

The red and yellow flowers were beautiful, but they do not grow in my garden. I could barely get them to stand up straight, let alone flourish. They will never go into my garden again. Not because I don’t like the idea of them growing there, but because they simply don’t grow.

I was thinking about those flowers again on Saturday as I sat in my front yard waiting for my computer updates to complete. I was thinking about things that don’t grow the way we want them to, at the rate we want them to, or with the amount of fruit we want them to. Those things are rampant in life, and sometimes the struggle to see “our garden grow” can be discouraging. We may even come to the point of saying, “I’m done with that! It’s just never going to flourish. I want a plant I can depend on.”

My thoughts were on this summer’s Growing Together campaign at Forbid Them Not. We set out with hope and enthusiasm. The Forum on Fatherlessness went so well. We felt people were ready to see the ministry grow and to grow with us. We wanted so much to be in a more flourishing place by the time this year’s Green Bean Project rolls around in October. We set out a plan, and followed it faithfully. But the results did not seem to come. We had hoped for growth in the areas of prayer, participation, and partnership. But it didn’t seem to happen. We cancelled a few things we had planned because everything else had been met with the proverbial chirping crickets. We did not have the time or resources to invest in something that only we would attend.

As we came to the scheduled end of our campaign, my heart was discouraged. I considered the massive amount of energy poured into blog posts, events, social media posts, interviews, etc., and then I looked at the apparent lack of fruit. My heart and my flesh and probably Satan said,

“There you go. You’ve failed. Again. You worked your heart out, but it wasn’t enough or it wasn’t right or it just doesn’t matter.”

But as I sat in my front yard Saturday morning, I considered my flowerbed. It doesn’t have those bright red flowers that I will never buy again. It has something else—lavender. Lavender does not yield substantial fruit the first season. In fact, if you want the plant to survive and thrive, you don’t even cut the flowers the first year. The second year, you might get a handful of flowers, maybe even two handfuls. Not until the third season can you expect substantial fruit. Then something happens. It becomes hardy. My lavender has been frozen, scorched by the sun, run over by a drunk (or possibly blind) driver, and yet I have three baskets of lavender drying in my front room.

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I thought about my lavender, and I thought about ministry. I realized that just because a plant doesn’t have visible fruit on it, doesn’t mean it isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing. It may still be maturing.

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I will spare you the four pages of notes that came from these musings, but I do want to share a few precious things that encouraged me and might encourage you.

That Number Isn’t Really Important

One of my greatest struggles over the last few months has been a number. A number that threatens to shrink. A number that comes up once a month and must stretch an enormous distance. A simple number that affects every single aspect of life and ministry. But as I was looking at that flowerbed on Saturday, I was reminded that I am not living on that number. Forbid Them Not is not surviving on that number, but rather on all the “riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” That is the account, the soil, we are drawing upon, and that is where our hope must lie. (Philippians 4:19)

Preparing for a Mountain

God teaches us to profit. He leads us in the way we should go. (Isaiah 48:17) I know these things, but it wasn’t until I studied them out a little that I saw the picture of how He does this. The idea behind the Hebrew words is that He disciplines us, goads us, gets us accustomed to things, chastises us, prepares us as a soldier preparing for war, so that we can ascend a mountain and stand on the summit.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve climbed a few mountains in my life. It was work—and believe me we’re not talking Everest here. I’ve hiked to the tops of mountains in Montana. I’ve hiked on a ledge in Romania that was so narrow you had to hold onto a chain bolted into the mountain to work your way across. I’ve hiked to a height in Kyrgyzstan that made my legs tremble and my lungs burn and that said, “You can’t go any further because you are not strong enough. If you go further things will not go well for you.” And I had to stop.

God doesn’t want us to have to stop. He wants to prepare us to reach the top, to stand on the summit, and to praise Him. And so, HE PERSONALLY TRAINS US. It’s not our own effort. He gets us accustomed to the thinning air, the steep incline, the weight of our packs, and then when the time is right, He leads us.

A Guide for the Trail

He leads us with His own footsteps. That’s what Isaiah 48:17 says. Leadeth means to tread with the feet. No matter how you look at it, this word means to get somewhere by walking. God doesn’t just point up the trail and say, “Go.” He steps onto the trail, and in some cases, He creates the trail with His own feet. He goes with us, trampling down the brush and the grass and the other things that may impede our way. It may not be fast moving, breaking a trail never is, but we have an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, everywhere present Guide who will never leave us nor forsake us on that trail, be it in the wilderness, on the mountain side, or in the city.

A Rock for Rest

Later this month, I will be helping out with a Rock of Ages Prison Ministry revival at the Montana Women’s Prison. In preparation, I was doing a little study on faithfulness, and came to a verse from the story of Moses, holding up his hands while Joshua fought Amalek. Exodus 17:12 says,

“But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”

The next verse in the list of cross-references I was studying was Deuteronomy 32:4,

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

Sometimes, we just need a rock to rest on. What confidence it brings to know that God is that Rock. His work is perfect. He will hold us up.

Hands to Hold Us Up

Even when he was sitting on the rock, Moses needed Aaron and Hur. Can you imagine standing all day with your hands held above your head? It is no wonder he grew weary. Sometimes, maybe more often then we would like to admit, we need someone to hold up our hands. This is our goal with FTN, to share the gospel of Christ while we hold up the weak hands of the fatherless and those who are caring for them. But sometimes we need someone to help hold up our hands, just as you need someone to hold up your hands from time to time.

I’m going to issue one last Growing Together challenge: Let’s hold up each other’s hands. Let’s encourage one another, walk together, talk together, prayer together, and work together. We must always stand (and sometimes sit) on the Rock, why not hold one another up in the process?

We’ve shared many ways over the summer that you can help hold up our hands. I’d ask that you look back over them, and see what the Lord might have you to do. At the same time, I’d like to ask you:

What can we do? How can we help hold up your hands? Let us know! We can’t help, we can’t even pray, if we don’t know there is a need.

Feasting with the Fatherless

Exhausted. That was one of two words you could use to sum up how I felt. Exhausted—and completely happy. It happened this way every year. Ten days of Christmas programs, feeding people, helping elderly women with their coats, and helping them on and off of buses. Singing, laughing, working. Food and dishes and more dishes and more food and…I’ve never seen so many mashed potatoes or so much beet salad in all my life!!! But, oh, how blessed I was to have the joy of blessing others.

Over the ten years that I lived in Moscow, I only spent one Christmas back in the States. Every other year, I stayed at the orphanage and participated in our unusual Christmas tradition. Ten days of busing in retired educators for a meal and a Christmas program. Nearly 3,000 people came every year, mostly women who were widowed and incredibly poor. We weren’t able to follow up with all of them between Christmases, but in some cases we could, and that just extended the blessing.

It was a feast for them: soup, potatoes, soda, beet or carrot salad, a piece of chicken, bread, bananas and mandarin oranges (both of which at some point ended up in purses, secreted away for the journey home), all finished off with tea and a light dessert. It was a time to talk, to fellowship, to sing, to laugh—a time to forget the dark loneliness and oppression of life.

Our goal, of course, was to bless them and to share Christ with them. But in reality we received as much of a blessing from what we were doing as they did. Blessing others is not a joy simply because we’re making someone happy. Blessing others brings joy because it is God’s plan. Blessing others is important to God, so it should be important to us.

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In last week’s blog, I mentioned that the Old Testament specifically speaks of inviting the fatherless to certain feasts. This week, I want us to look a little closer at what God says about this.

In Deuteronomy, God laid out specific times when His people were to bless the fatherless, the widow, the stranger, and the Levite by including them in their feasts as well as in their harvesting and tithing. (Today’s passages are lengthy. To save space, I have provided links to each reference.)

  1. A time of tithing – Deuteronomy 14:22-29; 26:12,13
  2. The Feast of Weeks – Deuteronomy 16:9-12
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles – Deuteronomy 16:13-17
  4. In the course of Harvest – Deuteronomy 24:17-22

From reading these passages, we see that God clearly wanted His people to bless the fatherless, the widow, the stranger, and the Levite. In doing so, not only were they allowing them to participate in the solemn feasts and worship that God had ordained but they were also providing for them.

God didn’t just give them this command and leave them with what might have been a burden. He also promised His blessings upon His people for their obedience in this matter. Blessings which, unless we’ve studied them out, might get hidden in our apprehension of trying something new and possibly overwhelming. Here are just four areas of blessing:

  1. God will bless the work of their hands – Deuteronomy 14:28,29
  2. The feasts will be a time of rejoicing – Deuteronomy 16:11,14
  3. This practice provides a reminder of their redemption from bondage – Deuteronomy 24:17-22
  4. It gives them the confidence that they are in right standing before God and can seek His blessing upon themselves – Deuteronomy 26:12-15

Even as He promised to bless them for caring for the fatherless, the widow, the stranger, and the Levite, He had some promises in store for when they did not care for them. In a blog post from several years ago, I referred to them as the “bookend” promises because one comes at the beginning of God’s conversation about these people in the books of the law, and the other comes at the end. Both are important:

  1. If you afflict them, I will kill you with the sword – Exodus 22:22-24
  2. If you pervert their judgment (i.e. deal unjustly with them and their cause), I will curse you – Deuteronomy 27:19

Gulp. I enjoy stories about knights in shining armor, wielding their swords on the behalf of the weak, but something tells me that being on the pointed end of the sword wielded by God would not be enjoyable. We know, we all know, that when God says something, He means it. But does any place in Scripture play out the seriousness of keeping these feasts with the fatherless and their counterparts?

Consider Isaiah chapter 1. Here God specifically deals with Israel’s feasts, which He has come to hate. Hate is actually a soft word. They are an abomination to Him. His soul hates them. They trouble Him, and He is weary to bear them. When Israel spreads their hands in worship, He will hide His eyes. When they pray, He will not hear because their hands are full of blood. So what does he tell them to do about it? (Isaiah 1:16-18)

  1. Wash and make yourselves clean.
  2. Put away the evil of your doings.
  3. Cease to do evil.
  4. Learn to do well.
  5. Seek Judgment.
  6. Relieve the oppressed.
  7. Judge the Fatherless.
  8. Plead for the widow.
  9. Come and reason together with the Lord – though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Later in the book of Isaiah, God deals with their fasts. Here the Lord does not specifically mention the fatherless, however, He does mention the oppressed, which are a counterpart of the fatherless. He also mentions the hungry, the poor, and the naked. Since the fatherless are four times as likely to be poor they will most definitely fall into this category. Here’s what God says in Isaiah 58:5-7,

Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

God is not pleased with their fasts anymore than He was pleased with their feasts because their focus is so far off. In their time of fasting, He wants their focus to be on others, specifically on those who are suffering.

But again, God does not throw that out there and leave it as a weighty burden. He promises blessings with it (Isaiah 58:8-14):

  1. Your light will break forth as the morning.
  2. Your health will spring forth speedily.
  3. Your righteousness will go before you.
  4. The glory of the Lord will come behind you.
  5. You will call, and the Lord will answer.
  6. You will cry out, and He will say “Here I am.”
  7. The Lord will guide you continually.
  8. He will satisfy your soul in drought.
  9. He will make your bones fat.
  10. You’ll be like a well-watered garden.
  11. The waste places will be rebuilt.
  12. You will delight in the Lord.
  13. You will ride upon high places.

That’s a lot of blessings compared to the sorrow of meeting the tip of God’s sword!

It might be easy to look at this, consider that it is written in the Old Testament and say that it does not apply to us today. But we would be remiss in doing so. God did not spend a lot of time on this in the New Testament. He didn’t need to, after all He’d laid ALL this ground work in the Old Testament. It only took one well-placed verse, James 1:27

James didn’t need to go into great detail. He was writing to Jews who had the background already laid out for them, and Jesus had set the example practically throughout His earthly ministry. James simply needed to remind his readers, “Hey, look back over history, look back over God’s establishment of the law and the carrying away into captivity. This is what God was looking for, this is what GOD deems to be pure religion (worship).”

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

In reality, James 1:27 is just a summary of Isaiah 1:16-18. We’re not talking about salvation here. We’re talking about pure religion, the purest form of carrying out our worship. It has two points:

  1. Visit the fatherless and the widow,
  2. Keep yourself unspotted from the world.

That’s it. But that is the importance of blessing the fatherless, the widow, the stranger, and in our case those who are serving in ministry. It’s a command that is met with a sword if not kept and with great blessing when we obey it.

It isn’t Christmas (even if Hallmark does want us to celebrate Christmas in July). It isn’t Easter. But we are nearing the harvest, and it is always a time of tithing. So let me ask you this: What can you or your family or your church do to bless the fatherless, the widow, the stranger, and even those who have given up everything to go out and serve the Lord. How can you “feast” with them? The events I shared about at the beginning of this blog are unique. Most of us cannot put on such an elaborate affair, but we can do something. Which of these people sits in your pews, lives on your street, works at your job, or is supported by your church? That is your sphere of influence. These are the ones within your gates. How can you bless them?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, and I’d love to hear what you do as you carry out this last Growing Together challenge of blessing the fatherless. We don’t have to do this alone. Conversation is one of the best ways to grow in an area that is new and challenging to us. Please feel free to share via our blog, our Facebook group, email, or even by phone. We want to learn together.