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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Ted Said Happiness Is Our Identity, Not Our Goal

I don’t think my readers have to guess I’m a Bible geek. It’s always been that way since I can remember, partly due to the influence of teachers and scholars whom I’ve never met. I only heard them, and heard about them, thanks to the power of audio recording, word of mouth, and probably The Great Commission. All my life, Dad has always harped on Sunset preachers Edward Wharton, Jim McGuiggan, Richard Baggett, and Ted Kell, among others.

A few weeks ago, in the garage we found an old box of Bible courses from Sunset Preaching School, now known as Sunset International Bible Institute. That’s where my father was schooled. This particular Sunday, I listened to a dusty old tape which had a lecture on it from the late Ted Kell; he stated that it was the year 1974, so it’s been more than 40 years ago. Wow… I still shake my head in amazement that he was talking about subjects so relatable. It’s like he was talking about today! Except I think the world is even worse since he talked. (Maybe I’m just a millennial, aka Snowflake, aka Woman of Generation Why? as they call it…)

Ted Kell’s lecture was about the Beatitudes. Since I talked about Matthew 5 in our last study, I was extremely curious to know more. I listened closely. Here’s a summary of what I learned from him thus far:

The Beatitudes is part of the Sermon on the Mount. It is Jesus Christ’s longest sermon ever recorded. People from all over Palestine came to listen to Jesus teach, and ever since that time up until present day, it has continued to be the most popular part of his ministry; yet it is the least applied.

If the Sermon on the Mount is the essence of the Bible, then the Beatitudes is the ESSENCE of the essence. More specifically, the Beatitudes is where you go to find the principles of God’s laws, the very seed in which all the other verses of the New Testament grow from. These verses, which are Matthew 5:1-12, are also the answer to finding joy and godly fulfillment.

People are miserable today, Kell said; newspapers made the claim that anxiety and depression plagued the Post-Activism Era. People gave up on their dreams, dropped out of college, and committed suicide. (As it still is today. While I write, my thoughts drift to the recent suicide of Chester Pennington, vocalist of Linkin Park.) However, healing and prevention and freedom are found in Jesus Christ, only in him. You must apply his words to your life to get relief.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus speaks to the multitude. He was first walking in a plain with a crowd of thousands of followers, when he saw how huge the crowds were, and decided to climb a mountainside and sit down, to teach. In Bible times, it was custom for the teacher to sit down before he began teaching. You can see that in Luke 4:20—Jesus was reading from the scroll with the prophet’s words, in the synagogue, fulfilling the very words as he read them, and then he sat down and said, “While you heard me reading these words just now, they were coming true!”

Jesus amazed the crowds at the synagogue, and he amazed the crowds at the Sermon on the Mount both. The Bible tells us that, in Matthew 7:28-29:

When Jesus finished speaking, the people were amazed at his teaching. He did not teach like their teachers of the law. He taught like someone who has authority.” (ERV)

The question still remains as to how, then, should we apply The Beatitudes? None of Jesus’s teachings come naturally to the human disposition. Everything he says runs counter to human nature. So we cannot be a natural peacemaker, or a natural poor spirit. Transformation of character is only possible when a Christian actively seeks Christ.

To review our knowledge, allow me to explain the vernacular usage of “the world” or “worldly people”, before we go any further. I have a friend who seemed to relate the Christian’s use of “the world” to a sort of anti-globalism stance, or some kind of pro-xenophobia agenda. No, no. Let’s define “the world”, and the difference between “the worldly” and “the righteous”:

The righteous is the flock, the sheep, in which Jesus is the Shepherd. The world are those who reject His teachings. Please refer to the picture below, to see a list of traits, taken from the Beatitudes, and then the antonyms, which can be applied to the worldly person.

righteousVsWorldly

“ Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2  (WEB)

Beatitude comes from a Latin word, beatus, that means “blessed”. There are a lot of beatitudes in the Bible, not just in Matthew 5. You can especially find them in Psalms. For example,

“Blessed is he who considers the poor. Yahweh will deliver him in the day of evil.” Psalm 4:11

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you; who have set their hearts on a pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5

The Beatitudes aren’t so much commands as they are praises, praising those who are all these things: poor-spirited, mournful, gentle, thirsty for what’s right, full of mercy, pure-hearted, makers of peace, and persecuted for God.

The Beatitudes are also steps. You won’t mourn until you are poor in spirit, and you won’t be meek until you are mourning your emptiness. Once you’re meek, you will hunger and thirst for righteousness. That’s why this applies to all people, regardless of nation, heritage, origin, race, color, or language.

“Blessed” comes from the Greek Word, makarios, which is defined by BibleHub as “blessed, happy.” Ted Kell explains blessedness as a divine blessing only from the Lord, not from any other source. To quote 1 Timothy 6:15, “I command you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate testified the good confession, that you keep the commandment without spot, blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; which in its own times he will show, who is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of Kings, and Lord of lords…” Lord Jesus is blessed, and he shares his blessings with us, if we follow his teachings. What’s awesome about that is, the generic story behind gods and goddesses is that they live it up and enjoy life, but God sent Jesus so that we can be blessed and happy ourselves. Only God has blessedness, and so only in God can we find real happiness.

Conjointly, happiness from God is independent of circumstance. The word “happiness” can be misleading because it comes from the same word roots as happenstance, which means it occurs from an accident or lucky break or chance encounter, but God’s happiness is different than that. It does not come from random happenstances. It comes from faith in Jesus Christ, and joy in the works we partake in on His behalf. Therefore, that’s why I say that in conclusion, the key phrase to summarize Ted Kell’s first sermon tape on the Beatitudes is this: Happiness is our identity, not our goal.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” –Jesus (John 10:10)

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

I want to end with a fable:

In a quaint cottage set in medieval England, there once was a woman named Beatrice. Her name means bringer of joy, or one who brings blessings. From a young age, she strove to represent that; she strove to be what her name was. She married an average man. He was hardworking and sensitive, a good listener, and a light sleeper.

Beatrice did everything to bring blessings to her husband and her neighbors. She made them plum pudding on holidays, sewed them scarves on their birthdays, and kept the house clean and comfortable for visits. When her husband was sick with a cough, she made him the tastiest soup. If a cat came for milk, she always set a bowl out, warm and fresh.

As months and years went by, Beatrice grew weary of being the bringer of joy. She sometimes got sad at how much work it was, but she never stopped.

Soon, she bore twins. It was a happy event, but then again, she was forced to learn how to forgive, after the twins turned into obstinate brothers that always fussed.

As the years progressed, she began to notice her husband becoming restless. At night, he would toss and turn, and some nights he would stay out late. It left Beatrice alone to raise her sons, and sometimes the neighbors criticized the lack of authority in the house.

One day, Beatrice asked her husband why he had been distant. His answer surprised her.

“I toss and turn because I hear you crying in the kitchen. I stay out late because I want to make enough to buy you jewels. You never ask for anything but you give everything. If you yelled at me, I would feel more human. If you hated me, it would be more natural, yet you never do. You are the purest person I have ever known.”

“But, my husband,” she said, “I don’t need jewels. I love you and want you to come home so you can be with your sons.”

“Ah! See? Still, you consider not yourself. How, Beatrice? How? How do you bless me so much? Tell me your secret.”

Beatrice took a moment of silence, and her head was bowed, as she thought about his question. Finally, she answered simply but surely. “What’s in a name unless you live to make it true? I live to own up to who I am, and I live to make the blessings new, every day. For I am a bringer of blessings, not one who brought or one who will bring. I must bring today, and every day, to keep my name with meaning.”

Moral: Beatrice the name also derives from beatus, the same word Beatitudes derives from. Like Beatrice lived to see her namesake be real, we need to live up to our namesake: Christian.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.” -Peter Scholtes

“The Butterfly Training Detectives”

It was a club with two members: my best friend and me.  Our tools of trade were an empty peanut butter jar, a pencil, and a small notepad.  We would catch butterflies, keep them as pets, and learn what they ate and how they lived. This was before the convenience of the Internet, if anyone can actually imagine a time without it.  We had to do the research the hard way: in the field of study.

70sHippyFlowerGirl
70’s Day at school; I dressed as a flower girl.

 

I was proud when our teacher cut windows out of a box and put plastic wrap over it so that we could even keep the butterflies that we caught. Then the class could observe them too.

When my friend moved, I continued the club by myself.  I didn’t research the butterflies so much. I had a new mission: to train the butterflies to sit on my hand.  During recess, I would step quietly and slowly to catch the butterfly in my empty peanut butter jar.  Then, when the butterfly settled down, I would slowly open the lid and put my hand in. Once in a while I would manage to stay still and calm enough for it to happen;  to my friends, I became the girl who could get a butterfly to sit on her hand.

But I wasn’t one to bask in the glory; there was more to do and explore.  There was a different type of insect that had caught my eye… one that I learned was called a damselfly.  At first I thought it was a lady for the dragonfly, but since then I’ve discovered that –although very similar- they are two very different types of insect.

Since then, I’ve had a soft spot for damselflies when I see them.  I never had one sit on my hand, but recently I was thrilled to get a shot with my camera.

Damselfly
It’s a Citrine Forktail! You can download our free image here.

Happy 1st Anniversary, Art and Learn

11:51 PM my time, and for 9 more minutes it is a Happy Anniversary to my blog’s 1st year up and running, or shall I say up and writing? Hmm. ^^ Above there is a slideshow Kat and I made for our parents’ 40th anniversary. Included are some beautiful pictures from their honeymoon on a Holy Lands cruise. I also arranged my song “Kind Words” on piano for the special occasion. Enjoy!

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.

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Captain’s Log: To Know a Pyrate

September 21, sometime in the Baroque Era, with a touch of present day.

Written with penmanship of Sarabande, the sister of the captain of the Phantom Acoustique, and a “good” pyrate, in her own right.

Ahoy. This past Monday was “Talk Like a Pyrate” day.  If yer a lover of pyrates, then I’m sure the day came as a real celebration, with cannon blasts and jolly livin’ and all!  You durns’t hold back in yer banquet ‘n’ drinks, did ye?

But if you love to speak like a pyrate, play like a pyrate, ‘n celebrate the life o’ one, how much do y’actually know about the real livin’ pyrates in history?

jabber-captain1

JOHN RACKHAM

Do y’know John Rackham?  He be a true pyrate, but didn’t start that o’way. He began as a quartermaster under Cap’n Vane, but when Vane prov’d to the rest o’the crew to be an incompetent leader -‘e refused to seize a French man-of-war which Rackham said was a great claim to plunder- the crew then voted to put Rackham in charge because ‘e knew what they wanted and was willin’ to go all the way in terms o’pyracy.  John Rackham became the captain, and led ‘is crew to plunder many Carribean ships before they retired to Cuba.  That, of course, does not tell for Rackham’s fate, as he later hired a new crew, only to eventually be caught, tried and hung fer his crimes.

EDWARD TEACH

I’m sure you’ve at least heard th’alias name of Captain Edward Teach; known by th’name “Blackbeard”.  He fought in the Queen Anne’s war, but didn’t ‘av a ship of his own until ‘e was under the command of Captain Hornigold.  Upon th’ frustrations of t’crew over the fact that Hornigold would n’er pillage a British ship, no matter how rich’n spoils, the crew demoted ther cap’n and appoint’d Teach as their new master.  Hornigold was allowed to retire where he rec’d a pardon; but Captain Teach and his crew went on to make a terrible name: the dread Captain Blackbeard.

Blackbeard’s name can be a real conversation piece, if y’know what to debate.  Was ‘is blood-seekin’ ferocity a bite or all bark?

Despite ‘is surely reputation, there’s no record of th’terror being witnessed first-hand.  There’s no story of which ‘e tortured a captive or murdered a captain or misbehavin’ crew.  Most likely his appearance itself -seeming as if he came from the very depths of Hell t’ torment the seas- struck such fear n’is opponents that they complied with whatever ‘e willed.

To any good boatswaine or first mate or rigger, they may even notice th’good that Blackbeard has dealt t’ the seas, the caring acts towards humanity that he extended to fellow mankind.  Captain Teach took the infamous Stede Bonnet under his wing when he saw that t’crew was on the verge of mutiny; with the permission of Captain Bonnet, Teach took charge o’ t’ship and taught the nobleman-turned-pyrate how to plunder to ‘is crew’s liking.

In another instance, right before ‘is final retirement, Captain Teach’d only attack an’ pillage a ship when ‘is crew was low on provisions, and ‘e would only take what t’crew needed to reach their destination.

jabber-caption2

That’s right, Jabber. I can speak o’ him next.

WILLIAM KIDD

Cap’n William Kidd is a pyrate t’ be heard of.  Possibly the most famous pyrate, an’ you’re sure to know ‘im, even if y’don’t recognize t’name.  Y’see, William Kidd is well-known fer the treasure that ‘e buried, whether it b’fer a bargaining tool fer ‘is own freedom or simply to’ keep the spoils for himself.

Captain Kidd began his adventures in King William’s war.  He was a privateer, with a commission by Lord Bellamont and others, t’protect the seas and plunder any ship that’d fly a French flag.

Kidd had no intention to turn t’piracy, but a great misfortune caused ‘is fate t’turn for the worse.  He attack’d a moorish ship -that be an Indian ship- but the cap’n of t’merchant ship was an Englishman.  ‘Tis attack and the decision t’ keep the spoils fer his crew, made Kidd fall out of the graces o’ the English courts.

Lord Bellamont was suspected of being a part of t’ betrayal, since ‘e was indeed one who invested in the privateer’s commission of reprisals, so to clear ‘is name Lord Bellamont conspired against William Kidd, luring him out ‘n’ turning ‘im in.

Kidd pleaded ‘imself as innocent, claiming that his crew was mutinous pyrates who held him at gunpoint and threatened him to get them what they wanted.  ‘is words fell on deaf ears, and he was sentenced to death with a hanging, which was a typical fate for pyrates of that time.

APPRECIATING PYRATES

If yer a pyrate lovin’ book reader like I am, then you’ld best be investin’ some time to check out The History and Lives of all the most Notorious Pirates and their Crews, also titled, simply Pirates by Johnson, Charles, fl.  It’s not a lively-like read, but it be telling some stories of livin’ pyrates in history.  Also, if y’like t’speak like a pyrate, try huntin’ up The Pirate Primer: Mastering the Language of Swashbucklers and Rogues, by George Choundas.  It be rightly entertainin to learn a bit o’pyrate lingo, none the least.

People say that dead man tells no tales, but there are too many pyrates with stories t’be told fer that to be true, eh Jabber? Here. Take a fig fer yerself, me dear friend.

jabber-the-bird