Hymn of the Day: Let Us Break Bread Together

When I opened my hymn book to “Let Us Break Bread Together”, I saw it was a Negro spiritual song, which means the song was written by an American slave. Immediately, my heart strings were struck as I read the lyrics:

VERSE ONE

Let us break bread together on our knees;

Let us break bread together on our knees.

REFRAIN

When I fall on my knees,

With my face to the rising sun,

O Lord, have mercy on me.

VERSE TWO

Let us drink wine together on our knees;

Let us drink wine together on our knees.

(Repeat REFRAIN)

VERSE THREE

Let us praise God together on our knees;

Let us praise God together on our knees.

(Repeat REFRAIN)

“I don’t know this song, but let’s sight-read it,” my mother said, and sang alone, first, to show us the sound of tones. Interestingly, when a hymn book provides shape notes (i.e. ‘Do’ is a triangle, ‘La’ is a square) even amateurs can sing! And how blessed to have sung it! The tones rose and fell so sweetly – yet they were powerful! – and the lyrics were equally so.

As I sang, my imagination wandered to the picture of a slave woman, falling to her knees at the start of a new day. Before she even began her work, she was tired and weary from the bondage she faced: the bondage of inequality.

Extraordinarily, the slaves from American history put their hearts on a plate and served it to God in spirit and in truth. How did they do that? The same way Job from the Bible did. Quoting Job, he said,

“Do not mortals have hard service on earth?
    Are not their days like those of hired laborers?
Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,
    or a hired laborer waiting to be paid,
so I have been allotted months of futility,
    and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
    The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.”

Job 7:1-4 (NIV)

To honor and respect today’s hymn, I selected many different arrangements of “Let Us Break Bread Together”. Truly, let’s break bread together, each of us with our unique ways of showing worship.

Something else moved me today – with the news of protests happening in America, and Vice President Pence’s statement about the Colts game he walked out on, it is important for each American to understand heritage, and how different each American is because of the unique heritages. Many Americans don’t know their original ethnicity, saying “I’m a quarter” this and that, or 1/10th, or 1/20th, or “going back, on my father’s side”.

Makes one wonder, does heritage matter? Sure. How peoples’ lives are framed comes partly from the traditions their ancestors passed on, privileges earned, and struggles faced. There are countless heritages, and endless beginnings, which made America. It is through diversity that America grew strong. It is through respect that America will stay strong.

Pains of Heritage

By: Lacy Andrews

America for all!

Americans, free.

Whilst they try to remember,

The pains of their ancestors.

 

I soberly wonder

Surely! By this time,

We can forgive and forget,

Perhaps, if we give respect.

 

History roots go deep,

In the hearts of men,

Pilgrims came, died, and conquered

Slaves served, were sold and tortured.

 

Native tribes were ruined,

Spaniards came to save.

Puritans fled government,

And Chinese came for profit.

 

Indians were farmers,

Dutch came as merchants.

Russians fled from poverty,

Syrians were refugees.

 

America for all!

Americans, free.

Yet they try to remember,

The pains of their ancestors.

 

I somberly ponder

Even at this time,

We can’t forgive or forget

Unless we learn to respect.

 

Every race overcame,

The trials of men.

Englishmen settled, peaceful.

Africans became equal.

 

Native children lived on,

The Spanish flourished.

Puritans made Jamestown,

The Chinese made Chinatown.

 

Indians fought for rights,

Dutchmen fought in war.

Russians fought persecution.

Syrians fought omission.

 

America for all!

Americans, free.

Whilst they try to remember,

The pains of their ancestors.

 

I quietly wonder,

If ever in time,

Will we receive forgiveness?

Or forget respectfulness?

 

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To Sign or Not to Sign: Filmmakers’ Freedom

“’Youtube should support the right to free speech without censorship and discrimination.’

“Please go and sign, please go and sign the petition. You know what, we’re not just fighting for us – I hate to use that word fight. I’m not challenging their decision just for us. I’m challenging [Youtube] for ALL of you all, that if you have a conservative voice, or even if you have a voice and is being censored it’s wrong. Because still, that is still, a violation of your freedom –your 1st Amendment your freedom of speech- and you should be able to speak what you want to speak without somebody discriminating against you. Especially if you not even speaking hate speech. You just telling the truth about some things. Hun, they prefer to – Listen. They would prefer to hear well-dressed lies than the naked, nasty truth. And listen. I have to speak my mind, because it hurts me to bite my tongue. I can’t bite it, ya’ll!”

-Diamond and Silk, in a live video tonight (August 16, 2017) on Facebook

According to the Republican TV personalities Diamond and Silk, Youtube has plans to ostracize, isolate, and in a sense silence the voices of those who exercise their freedom of speech by uploading videos, whenever Youtube deems it “hate speech”, “violent extremism”, “controversial”, “religious”, or “supremacist content”. The videos will not be completely removed, only they will be limited to where comments, ads, and recommendation features are all disabled, so that people cannot support the users, and advertisers won’t have to pay for their ads to show on what seems to be offensive content.

How does this affect us as Christians, and how does this make us stronger rather than pull us apart?

Now, there are some things about Diamond and Silk I do not prefer. They use harsh language (which they frequently apologize for doing), they are somewhat extreme I will admit, and some may label their videos as hate speech, but unless either one of them actually commit a crime like stealing, murdering, vandalizing property, or harassing a person in a way that can be taken to court, I don’t agree that their freedom to speak their opinions should be limited, or if so, be fair about it and limit every single video where anyone is stating harsh views, including Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Muslims, LGBT activists, or anyone who expresses any strong viewpoints that are not acceptable to the opposite viewpoint. (I’m not for Youtube limiting everyone, I’m just making the point it is unfair to limit some, not others.) The question I want to ask: why is The Viewer’s View (aka Diamond and Silk)’s expression of views considered hate speech, and deserve a disabled and limited access to Youtube, whenever The View  (aka Joy Behar, Paula Faris, Sara Haines, Whoopi Goldberg) continues to receive all the benefits of monetization, etc? Only one answer: discrimination.

To speak in defense of Youtube for a minute, I had a conversation about this with someone else and she had a great point: if you don’t like how Youtube does it, go somewhere else and do business. As a business, maybe Youtube (owned by Google) should be able to deny their services to religious activists and extremists, and you may agree depending on if you are for or against that viewpoint.

If you do not agree with Youtube, and want for the video community to stay deep, diverse, inclusive, and accepting, please consider signing Diamond and Silk’s petition, which you can go to and sign at the link below. (Click on the picture.)

Diamond and Silk's Petition

Either way, Kat and my Youtube channel (Autumn Angel Art) will not be affected by the demonetization strategy, because we have chosen not to display ads. We have always wanted to keep our channel clean and without distraction; also, to keep our work as a ministry with no worship of money. That, however, is a personal choice and other religious (and not religious) users, I believe, should have the right to make money like anyone else, if that’s what they think is right for their needs.

Therefore, we have decided to sign the petition in respect to all filmmakers’ freedoms and rights, their equal standing with the world, but I also pray that other video sites prosper outside of Youtube. Soon, it may become a matter of conscience for video makers (Christian or not) to do business elsewhere. I know I will be doing research to find other places to upload and include my videos, in case the discrimination levels grow far worse and my channel is also affected or deleted. Perhaps Godtube and Vimeo are other choices?

 

America

“It is a land as dark as midnight,

a land of gloom and confusion,

where even the light is dark as midnight.”

americablogpost-this-is-awkward

americablogpost-joe-flood1

americablogpost-karl-ludwig-poggemann

“The Bible tells us, ‘how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.’

“We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear – we are protected, and we will always be protected.

“We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.”


americablogpost-madeleine-deaton

“A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions. It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag. And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.”

“So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.”

americablogpost-karl-ludwig-poggemann2-2

Knights, the Crusades, and… Syria? Talk about Obsessed

It’s weird how when you’re obsessed in something, everything feeds your obsession, rather than distracts you from it.

While trying to figure out this week’s blog post, I passed time by reading news on Syria. Not much more about how the Aleppo residents are doing. So I moseyed to my home library in search for a book, any book, that would provide inspiration, and among an assortment of fiction, religious writings, technical books, and self-help, one called out to me: “Knights of the Crusades”, A Horizon Caravel Book, authored by Jay Williams, 1962.

This’ll give me material for my History category, I thought, but where do I start reading?

Lo and behold, as I flipped through it, the word “Syria” jumped off the page into my brain. No way! I checked the index to find out just how much Syria was a part of the Crusades, and as it turns out, oh yes, it does have something to do with that time in history, simply for being a neighboring country and main route to the main contention, Jerusalem.

In the 11th century, Muslims dominated Jerusalem. As the story goes, the Catholic pope decided it was time to gain the support of the masses and take back the Holy City in a religious escapade, with dreams that it would bring the entire world closer to God. There followed battle after battle, cities conquered, and crusaders named king over middle eastern lands, and can you imagine, in some unsettling way, it seems like the reverse of what is happening today. The Muslims have begun to thrive in regions of Europe, taking advantage, sometimes, of lenient governments. Not all Muslims are bad, true, and I wonder if the same was said about Crusaders a millennium ago.

Whether then or now, religion remains a strong influence on mankind. Early 1000s, Crusaders wiped out any people who got in the way of their religious victory. Modern day, jihadists do much the same, infiltrating their agenda within the hearts and minds of cultures, worldwide, slowly reaching higher heights. Yet people are harmed, voices are silenced, lives ended. How has time changed us, or does history fall victim to a cycle of sad fates?

knightofthecrusades

 

 

 

Melania: To Design or Not to Design

Shakespeare’s famous quote “To be or not to be, that is the question” seems to be the motto of designers lately, when it comes to America’s next First Lady, Melania Trump: to design dresses or not design, that is the question.

Sophie Theallet, the fashion designer who asked her fellow designers to protest Melania as First Lady with her, has designed dresses for Michelle Obama, so I can only think she feels a sense of loyalty; when other designers decide whether they should join her, they can remember, it may not apply to their career the way it does Sophie’s. Unless a designer has endorsed Michelle Obama at some point, they need not follow the trend, just to suddenly “fit in”. Until Mrs. Obama makes a public statement protesting Mrs. Trump herself, telling loyalists to do the same, even designers who are Democrat can keep their integrity, continue forward with stride, and be willing to design for Melania Trump.

Read more

A Prayer for the Children of the World

Yesterday was International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). Tomorrow is Election Day for the United States of America. Soon, the US will have a new president.

My concerns are with the children of the world. What will happen to the next generation? How can US play a role in saving as many children as possible from poverty, homelessness, violence, and chaos? Who is the right person to lead the country I live in, which has been known to influence the world in good ways and bad ways, and is there a way to prevent war?

I say my prayer for this pivotal moment of time, in dedication to Christian youth facing trials of many kinds. (I regret not mentioning Europe in my prayer; I’ve read how Swedish people suffer, Germans suffer, French suffer; it seems persecution is global.)

Surely the Lord must have a plan to combat all the suffering, surely? Yes, he does. Jesus talked to us about why we suffer and who we are called to be. In a prayer He said to the Father, on behalf of all believers, He explained the plight we Christians face:

I have given them Your word; and the world has despised them because they are not products of the world, in the same way that I am not a product of the corrupt world order. Do not take them out of this world; protect them from the evil one.

Like Me, they are not products of the corrupt world order.Immerse them in the truth, the truth Your voice speaks. In the same way You sent Me into this world, I am sending them. It is entirely for their benefit that I have set Myself apart so that they may be set apart by truth. I am not asking solely for their benefit; this prayer is also for all the believers who will follow them and hear them speak. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me…”

(John 17:14-21, VOICE)

Please close your eyes and pray with me:

Casting My Vote

Accusations, being pointed from both sides; “He did this”, or “she did that”.  Are the Trump accusations real?  What about the Clinton email scandals? In a generation where movie cinematics are popular and videos can be made by middle-schoolers, its hard to believe the audio, the video, and the emails that are leaked against them both.  It all seems like a very bad political espionage story that’s gotten out of hand.

The truth is, Trump supporters think Hillary lies. And Hillary supporters think Trump lies.  I personally choose to support Trump and trust him.  Whether he’s done what he was accused of or not, Trump has prayed for forgiveness for whatever was on his conscience, and has apologized.  As a Christian, I must forgive him of whatever he has done, or God will with-hold the forgiveness that I seek when I sin.  In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells us a story of an unforgiving servant and his fate: when the servant’s master forgives him of his own wrong and releases him of any responsibility, the servant is shown mercy. But when the servant refuses to forgive another servant, throwing him in prison to punish him, the master calls the unforgiving servant back and punishes him, because he wasn’t willing to show the same mercy that the master had shone. Jesus says in verse 35 that “this king did what my heavenly Father will do to you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”  (ICB)

Also, in Luke 17:3 we are told “So be careful! If your brother sins, tell him he is wrong. But if he is sorry and stops sinning, forgive him.  If your brother sins against you seven times in one day, but he says that he is sorry each time, then forgive him.” (ICB)

It’s a harsh message, but true.  If I don’t forgive Trump, I will not be forgiven.  If Hillary seeks forgiveness and I don’t forgive her, then God will not forget any wrongs that I do in my own heart.

So with God’s law in mind, I must forgive and forget what is held against Trump.  I have to strip away the accusations that were said against him; which leaves me with only one way to judge who to vote for: to think of the promises that they make, the policies that they name, and the actions that they take.  You can tell a lot from someone by watching them and listening to their words.

Now, there are 2 other candidates that Americans can vote for, but for anyone who wonders why people still vote for Trump, let me tell you why I choose to support him in this election:

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How to Help the Victims of Boko Haram

The above image shows the map of Nigeria, most of it red, and bordering countries also in danger of Boko Haram. The red zones are where the militants have attacked.

I write this on October 2nd, 2016, Sunday evening, 5:16 PM: I check the US Census website, and it says there are over 7.3 billion people in the world. China has the world’s highest population, with over a billion; after India, United States ranks number 3, with over 300 million; and Nigeria is number 7, with 186, 053, 386 people. Honing in on Nigeria, imagine 75,000 children dying this year alone. Ok, that’s less than 0.1% of the Nigerian population, someone might reason. 1 in every 2,481 people. But that many deaths in one year make an enormous loss. The NBC article reporting the news claims it is so bad, that in some areas, malnutrition is killing up to 50 percent of the children. 1 in every 2 children. 1 in 2! Can you imagine a famine hitting so hard?

Food is scarce in areas where Boko Haram, a jihadist group, attack. Villages are raided, Read more

How to Pray for Victims of Al-Shabaab

The above image shows the danger zones where Al-Shabaab militants are located. Red shows their concentrated control.

Two weeks ago, I created a video promoting IDOP, the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted church (November 6th, 2016). I asked for Christians to pray with me. However, there is a possibility some of you want to pray, but have no idea what to pray for. I mean, the thought might cross your mind: I have no knowledge about the people suffering. I don’t know how to emotionally connect enough to pray, and I don’t have time to learn more. That’s a natural thought process. We have lives. We are very busy.

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#IDOP – International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Mark your calendar for the first Sunday in November. November 6 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, also known as IDOP. This day has been designated as a day to pray for the Christians facing oppression, whether from government or culture, especially found in Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Praying on IDOP is more serious than simply asking for world peace. If we want to use the word deplorable, let us use it to describe the conditions some face in hostile regions of the world.

If you are living in the free world, help me spread the word by sharing my video. You don’t have to do it on social media where there is a device between you and the other person; talk to your friends about it face to face. What we need to do is get each other involved to truly make IDOP bountiful and good for the ones suffering. We need to lift each other’s words up in prayer, saying things like “Amen!”, “Bless you”, or “Yes, Jesus” when a fellow Christian is praying. To put your hand on a friend’s shoulder also helps spur him on to have a more powerful meaning. (And when praying with non-Christians, you can talk to Jesus in your own mind, letting Christ know you want His attention.)

If you are not in the free world, or you do not feel safe to profess your faith, you can still pray privately on this day. Kneel down to God in an enclosed room, all alone, and cry out to him for deliverance. Embrace the ones you love, hug and kiss them, and say a prayer on behalf of others suffering, too.

God will hear our prayers on a mightier scale if we all pray together. I urge you, I cannot do this alone… well, perhaps I can, but the ones hurting really need more than just me for real change.

Honestly, God does not care how we say our prayers, or how eloquent we are. As long as we pray from our hearts, God hears us. So I petition that you remember to pray on IDOP for the sake of love. Revival. Peace. Pardon. Should any person be imprisoned or killed for sharing their faith? #StandWithThem

Writer’s note: I am not affiliated with or working for The Voice of Martyrs non-profit organization.  I only want to help shed light for the Christians suffering, as I have the freedom in America to do so. I support VOM through donation and also encourage you to do the same. Visit www.persecution.com for more information.