Sunday, May 21, 2017

Building Strong Families. Leaving a Legacy for Your Grandchildren. Update.

For "Scripture Sunday":   More about families.

Building Strong Families




"In 1979 the Pittsburgh Pirates professional baseball team surprised many by winning the World Series. It was a close-knit team and, to reflect this, they adopted the popular Sister Sledge song “We Are Family” to describe their strength and unity. The phrase The Family was stenciled on the dugout roof and on signs, bumper stickers and T-shirts everywhere. Family became the team identity.
Similarly, the traditional family can also be described as a team—hopefully a unified, supportive team. However, we all know that some teams are not very good when it comes to working together during difficult times, and it is not unheard of for players to blame each other for ongoing problems.
Sadly, the same can often be said of individual families. What must we do to strengthen and sustain our families?

Marriage and family under attack

Dramatic shifts in the culture and in the definitions of marriage and family have impacted many people today. It wasn’t that long ago that marriage was widely appreciated as an institution uniting a man and a woman as a team to share the task of raising children. Bringing children into the world and teaching, protecting and providing for them was seen as the primary tasks of parents.
But dramatic societal shifts have changed the composition of many families. Commenting on the results of the 2010 U.S. Census, The New York Times reported that “married couples represented just 48 percent of American households in 2010. … This was slightly less than in 2000, but far below the 78 percent of households occupied by married couples in 1950. What is more, just a fifth of households were traditional families—married couples with children—down from about a quarter a decade ago, and from 43 percent in 1950.”
The impact on children is equally dramatic. The New York Times article continued, “W. Bradford Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, argues that the retreat from marriage is bad for society because it means less security for children. ‘It’s troubling because those kids are much more likely to be exposed to instability, complex family relations and poverty,’ he said” (“Married Couples Are No Longer a Majority, Census Finds,” May 26, 2011).
Because of the frequency of divorce and the various “alternative” family structures, the concept of a strong marriage and family may seem unrealistic or unattainable to many children today. The State of Our Unions, an annual report on marriage and family in the United States by the National Marriage Project, reveals disturbing and profound changes in this dramatic cultural shift and its impact on children. The U.S. statistics reported in the National Marriage Project’s 2012 “Social Indicators of Marital Health and Well-Being” are shocking:
  • Today 40 percent of all children and 72 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock.
  • The number of cohabiting couples who live with children today is more than 15 times what it was in 1960. And today, 40 percent of all children will spend some time in a cohabiting household while growing up.
  • Roughly 1 million children each year experience parental divorce and its aftermath.
The shift away from nuclear families corresponds directly with attitudes among young adults, less than half of whom today believe it is wrong to have a child outside of marriage.
According to Stephanie J. Ventura of the National Center for Health Statistics, about 1.7 million babies were born to unmarried women in 2007, a 26 percent increase from 1.4 million in 2002 and more than double the number in 1980. Unmarried women accounted for 39.7 percent of all U.S. births in 2007—up from 34 percent in 2002 and more than double the percentage in 1980.
So what does it take to build strong, intact families today?
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Leaving a Legacy for Your Grandchildren



"My grandparents didn’t leave me much of an inheritance; they didn’t have much to give. But every now and then I open a small plastic bag from a box in my office and examine a few rare coins—old silver dollars Grandpa used to give me, one every birthday.
The 1922 Peace Dollar, I found out recently, might be worth as much as $25 … but I’ll never sell it. The memories that coin evokes are worth far more than that—they are priceless. It’s amazing how many warm remembrances of a grandfather’s influence a little round piece of metal can evoke more than 50 years later.
All of my grandparents have been gone for decades, and they died without many physical goods to leave to their children and grandchildren. But they all left an inheritance of better things, possessions that I hope to pass on to my grandchildren.

The greatest inheritances

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,” Solomon told his son (Proverbs 13:22). Interestingly, grandparenting is one of the few stations in life where the playing field is level. That is, the poor and prosperous alike can pass on the greatest inheritances of all—wisdom, love, encouragement, memories and lessons learned.
“Grandparents should play the same role in the family as an elder statesman can in the government of a country,” is the way British author Erin Pizzey describes it. “They have the experience and knowledge that comes from surviving a great many years of life’s battles and the wisdom, hopefully, to recognize how their grandchildren can benefit from this” (Geoff Dench, ed., Grandmothers: The Changing Culture,p. 6).

A grandparent’s influence

Grandparents are in a stage of life that a child’s parents have not yet experienced, and it enables them to contribute in unique ways to a child’s development. Life usually slows down a little more for grandparents, and they’ve had more time to process life itself. God intended it to be that way and instructs grandparents to fill a special role in influencing the young ones.
Moses talked to the Israelites about this: “Take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
While the primary influence on a child is to be the parents, this first- and third-generation relationship offers a different level of teaching that can greatly supplement—without supplanting—the parents’ responsibilities.

A beautiful picture   

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Update:

This week we cut the holes out for the sink and the stove in the kitchen of the mini-house (guest house).  It looks a lot better with them in place.  We also installed some more of the upper cabinets.
On Tuesday I saw an Ear,Nose and Throat doctor about my sinuses.  I have had trouble with them for years.  I have a prescription that may not even start to make them feel better for a month.  We will see.

Early Wednesday morning, while it was still dark, I could see emergency flashing lights in the road behind my house.  I walked to the back yard and the road was blocked both ways with firetrucks, ambulances, and lots of police cars.  There were news choppers overhead, too.  A dark colored truck was in the ditch, a damaged police car and a damaged F250 in the road.  I got dressed, and the phone rang.  It was Roy, my helper, telling me that was his friend, Ronald, who had been in the dark colored truck. He was coming to pick up Roy so that they could go down to our boat ramp and do a little fishing before work.  Because a police car was involved there was a very thorough investigation with surveyors and camera, so it was quite a while before we were allowed to pick up all the fishing tackle, ice chests, folding chairs and other items that had bounced out of  Ronald's truck. The policeman had facial lacerations and was released from the hospital. Ronald has two broken legs, both kidneys and his spleen lacerated, and all his ribs broken.  It was mid-morning by the time we got that done and Jody was too shaken by it all, so we didn't work that day.

 Here is what it said on Montgomery Country Police Reporter.



6:45 a.m.
Around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, a DPS Trooper and a civilian were struck on Calvary Road near Amblewood in the Willis area. The Trooper was attempting to assist the civilian in pushing his disabled vehicle off of the roadway when they were struck by a third driver. The trooper and the civilian, an older man, were transported by ambulance to Conroe Regional medical center. The civilian has serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The Trooper was also injured but not as seriously as the civilian.
It is unknown at this time whether the driver of the vehicle that struck the pair was injured.
Calvary Road is CLOSED in both directions in the area of the crash as it remains under investigation.
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One day we had an Internet outage, and my computer got a wild hair.  Suddenly I couldn't load AOL or go to a lot of my favorite sites, and a message would pop up saying that the sites wouldn't load correctly. Well, I have to be able to get to my mail to see messages from potential customers, so I had to go through Internet Explorer. It made me login in everywhere.   That is when I began to appreciate AOL and the many short cuts that it offers. The Carousel and the Little Red Heart, if you have had AOL you know what I mean.  ( I also get free Lifelok,  Legal Assistance and well as other things that come with the $11 a month fee.)  It is the only mail service that I have found that has a 'search' within the mail folders, and I use that a lot. I know most don't like AOL, but I do.  So I have had to switch to my other computer which won't load Open Live Writer.   That's why the blog looks different this time.

Thursday and Friday we got a bit more work done around here, and then I took Roy and his other fishing buddy to see Ronald in CCU.  He was conscious, and seemed to be in OK spirits, only hurting a lot.   But at the same time, my friend from church, Ann, was in ICU, and she wasn't conscious.  She had been taken to the hospital the night before because she suddenly came down with a lot of seizures, so they were keeping her sedated.  Please keep these two in your prayers.  Thank you.
Every day we should be thankful for our health and strength.  I know I am.

I have a lot of chicken in my freezer, but I am just not crazy about chicken because I was forced to eat it when I was young.  I don't buy it, it is given to me, so I often make it into dishes for the church potluck.  This time I made Chicken Breasts with Farro and Veggies.  I also took some Sweet Multi-grain Mountain Rolls, they are always well received, as they are so soft and easy to eat.  I arrived early so that I could help the pastor's wife as her knee is still hurting.

The Bible readings were Lev. 19:1-20:27, Eze. 20:2-26 and Matt. 5:38-48. and the Teaching was about the Temptations and Tests In The Life of A Believer.

I was supposed to stop and get a few things from the hardware store on the way home, but the van had finally cooled down, and there was no way that I wanted to park it again on such a warm day.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Role of Women. Role of Men. Update.

 

For “Scripture Sunday”:  Though, I am sorry, it’s late, as it is Monday today. On Sunday, I was busy talking to my son and daughter who called me for Mother’s Day.

Role of Women

“What makes a successful wife and mother? Where can you find a job description and practical principles for making the most of these challenging roles?

Role of Women

Human history gives a very confusing picture of the proper role of women in the family and in society. In some cases she is the dominant figure, while in many cultures and throughout much of history she has been viewed as second-class at best, and little more than property or chattel at the other extreme.

What did God really intend when He created Eve?

In the beginning …

The Bible gives many examples of women, including those who were righteous and those who were wicked, those who were strong and those who were weak. Through these examples, we can glean lessons about God’s intended role for the women He so lovingly created.

If we go back to the beginning, in Genesis 2:18, we see Eve was created after Adam as a “help meet for” (King James Version) or “helper comparable to” Adam. What does this mean? Was she just an afterthought?

After creating Adam, God gave him the task of naming all of the animals. It seems clear from verse 20 that this was to show Adam that none of them were “comparable” or suitable for him. To show Adam how special the woman was, God created her from a part of Adam himself—his rib, thus indicating that husband and wife truly are one flesh in God’s sight.

Then we read, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Together they were complete and whole.

A “help meet”

The expressions “help meet” or “helper comparable,” found in the King James Version and the New King James Version respectively, are sometimes viewed negatively. But God did not intend woman to be a weak or inferior person. The Hebrew word translated “help” or “helper” is used 21 times in the Old Testament, and most of those are in the context of the help that would come from God Himself. God’s help would not be weak or inferior!

The role God created for Eve was that of strengthening the family. Adam was not complete by himself, and Eve was given the ability to help him build that completeness. The woman’s role is not lesser or inferior, but it is different from the man’s. And God does not leave her without additional instruction in Scripture on her proper role.

Understanding submission

For many today the word submit is a highly offensive term. Some go so far as wanting to take it entirely out of their wedding vows, in spite of God’s instructions. Through the apostle Paul, God tells wives to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). What does that mean?

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines submit as “to yield to governance or authority … to yield oneself to the authority or will of another … to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another.” Submission is yielding, consenting to the authority of another, in this case to her husband. Submission as God intended is something that must be given, not something that should be demanded or enforced. Within marriage, it is an act of love and respect!

God clearly gave the man the role of leader in the family (Ephesians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3). It is important to note that husbands are charged with submitting to the authority of Christ.

God gives the husband further instructions for his role in the family, which we will discuss in the article on the man’s role below.

A wife is not to submit to her husband’s abusive or ungodly behavior, and a husband must not demand submission from his wife to yield to any of his abusive or ungodly behavior. But when both roles of submission are being righteously lived, it is far more likely that there will be peace and harmony in the marriage.”  

Continues at: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/relationships/family/role-of-women/

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Role of Men

“What is the proper role of men in the family and society? History reveals extremes from the family dictator to the bumbling sitcom dad. What did God design?

Role of Men

Society has many different ideas about what the role of men should be. But what did our great and loving Creator intend?

In the beginning …

To answer that question we need to start in the beginning, at the creation of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2 we see that Adam was created before Eve. Adam was given the task of naming all of the animals. It seems clear that at least part of the purpose for this was to help him realize that none of these creatures were “comparable to him.” Every other creature had its mate; but Adam was at that point alone, the only one of his kind (verse 20).

After he was done naming all the animals, God then created a very special blessing for him—a woman fashioned from Adam’s own rib. The connection between them was undeniable. Together they had a oneness—they formed a family, a complete unit (verse 24).

New Testament instructions

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul very specifically outlined the leadership roles God intended within the family in Ephesians 5:23. Here we see that the husband is to be the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. That sets a very high standard for men to live up to!

What specifically is this standard God expects men to live up to? Verse 25 makes two very important points. The first is that Christ “loved” the Church. There are many definitions for love. But one that would describe Christ’s love for the Church is “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).

The second point (which is an extension of Christ’s love) is that He gave Himself for the Church. What is described in these verses is authority as the head of the family and a commitment to fulfill the needs of the family. Jesus Christ demonstrated that real leadership and real love are self-sacrificing in order to provide what is needed to those who are led and loved.

The husband’s role is intended to be one of loving authority and not a harsh authoritarian role. And as a loving authority, the husband is accountable to God for the welfare of his family—physically, morally, spiritually and emotionally.

With understanding and honor

The apostle Peter adds to our understanding in 1 Peter 3:7. Here husbands are instructed to “dwell with them [their wives] with understanding, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life.” There are three points made here:

1. The husband must dwell with his wife with understanding. Of course, this evokes many humorous comments because there are men who feel they can never “understand” their wives. Sadly, many husbands and wives simply do not take sufficient time with each other or even try to get to know each other well enough to “understand” what the other may struggle with or be going through. One-on-one quality time together is necessary, no matter how long a couple has been together.

2. What about the “weaker vessel” part of this passage? Women are generally smaller and not as physically strong as a man. So God is directing husbands to take care of their wives, to look out for, cherish and demonstrate tenderness toward them. When God created woman, He could have made her equal in strength and stature to the man, but He did not. Instead, He gave man the responsibility to protect, care for and give honor to her.

3. The third part of this passage is “being heirs together of the grace of life.” The Moffatt translation states, “You must honor them as heirs equally with yourselves of the grace of life.” The potential to be children of God in His Kingdom is the same for both men and women.

While God established certain roles for men and other roles for women in our physical families, there is nothing in Scripture to indicate one sex has more favor with God, or that one would have preeminence in the coming Kingdom. The relationship between husband and wife today should be harmonious and one of mutual love and respect, knowing that both are to equally inherit eternal life.

Role of a father.”
Continued at: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/relationships/family/role-of-men/

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Update:

Where do the weeks go??  Roy, my helper and I have made more progress in the mini-house.  I bought a new laminate router bit, so we cut off the edge of the front and side kitchen counters.  The sink and stove cutouts haven’t been done yet.  Then we built the cabinet across from the sink side, but that hasn’t been Formica-ed yet. It will be for housing pressure cookers, crockpots and such large items, and there are several outlets along that 6’ section of wall. That is where the coffee maker will be to keep it out of the work area.

One day I even had time to go grocery shopping here in Willis, but I haven’t been into Conroe lately.  I need to go soon as we need things from Lowes or Home Depot.  Two mornings I had to drive into Willis to get Roy as his friend wouldn’t get up to bring him here because they had been night fishing.

Here are pictures of the lights we installed last week:

DSCF1541-001

This is in the kitchen, the celing is white, but you wouldn’t know it by my camera!

The fixture is a brushed nickel finish to go with some other things in the kitchen.

DSCF1542-001

This little flat light on the left, is in the closet as that ceiling is lower.

It is a florescent light.

 

 

Then this is the ceiling fan/light in what will be the bedroom. It has little butterflies on it

DSCF1545-001DSCF1544-001

 

 

 

 

 

One thing that I splurged on when grocery shopping in Kroger was some Bisto.   Shepherd’s Pie is British and it just doesn’t taste right without British Bisto gravy powder.  So for the church potluck and I took my homemade Shepherd’s Pie made with ground beef, peas, carrots, Bisto gravy and the usual mashed potatoes on top.  People were getting second helpings so I grabbed a small container and saved some to take home for Roy’s lunch the next day, as I knew he had never had it.  He liked it too.  Gary brought a chicken dish with German noodles, and the pastor’s wife made taco meat with all the fixin’s.  We had pizza, too, and all the dishes were good, as always.

But the biggest surprise was when Jay, my former helper, called and wanted to go to church with me.  Everyone there was so pleased to see him, and sober too.

One new thing that wasn’t a surprise, was that my daughter Wendy and son-in-law picked up their new white German Shepherd puppy from the rescue, all neutered and vaccinated.  They still haven’t come up with a permanent name for him yet though.  I suggested Ollie, like ‘Ollie the Donkey’ in the kid’s Christian cartoon because of the dog’s enormous ears, or Frankie for Sinatra because of his blue eyes, but Wendy seemed to like my suggestion of “Blanco”.  We will see.  He is getting along great, playing with their Australian Shepherd, Bowser, and he is another great joy for them.  Bowser loves to go jet-skiing with them (with his life jacket on of course) and maybe the new pup will too.  It is a three-seater jet ski.

DSCF1530-001Another surprise was that my previous foster cat, 12 year old Napoleon was adopted from the SPCA habitat at Conroe Petco.    My new foster, Gertrude is a strange declawed 9 year old lady.  She finds the darndest places to sleep, and she changes places every three days, but never comes up on my bed or ventures into the rest of the house. She just stays in my bedroom and bathroom.

One time, the tri-day place was my bathroom sink, so I had to wash my hands at my bathtub.  Another time it was on my closed toilet lid fluffy cover, so I had to use the other bathroom.  Then it was on my sweater shelf, and she pushed some on the floor.  The back of the linen cupboard has had it’s turn, and a shoe shelf.  I think she is trying to play games with me to see how I will react. I don’t like to disturb her as she is shy and just getting used to my place. This is her home, and she is welcome to go anywhere in this house except for counters or tables.

The Bible readings were Lev. 16:1-18:30, Eze. 22:1-22:19 and Rom. 3:19-28.  The Teaching was about the Different Bible Translations.

Upon arriving at the church, I was a hurry to get into the dining hall to help the pastor’s wife and forgot to put up the windshield sunshade, so you know what the car felt like when we got back in it because it such a warm day, so Jay complained until it cooled down.  He would complain if he was hung with a new rope!

There were two cakes at the potluck, one for a couple’s 50th Anniversary, and one for Mother’s Day.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Is It Okay to Wear a Cross? A Little Child’s Prayers Matters to God. Update.

 

For “Scripture Sunday”:

Is It Okay to Wear a Cross? Why or Why Not?

“Why don’t we use the image of a cross—symbolizing the crucifixion of Christ—as a symbol of our faith? Should you use a cross as the symbol of yours?

Is It Okay to Wear a Cross? Why or Why Not?

The symbol of the cross is used around the world to represent Jesus Christ and Christianity. Yet, if you visit a congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association (which sponsors this website), and meet our members, you may notice that they are not wearing or displaying the cross to demonstrate their faith. You may also notice that the cross is not displayed on our website or any of our publications—even though we are Christians. We believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ and recognize Him as our Lord, Savior and the Head of our Church (Colossians 1:18).

So why don’t we use the image of the cross—typically symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—as a symbol of our faith? Should you use the cross as the symbol of your faith?

The Bible and history help provide answers to this question.

The cross predates Christianity

A study of ancient history reveals that the cross was used as a religious symbol long before the first century A.D.—when Jesus Christ walked the earth, was crucified and resurrected. The Bible does not record the use of the cross as a physical religious symbol in either the Old or New Testaments. But historical records of other civilizations do make record of the cross as a symbol.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, records: “From its simplicity of form, the cross has been used both as a religious symbol and as an ornament, from the dawn of man’s civilization. Various objects, dating from periods long anterior [preceding] to the Christian era, have been found, marked with crosses of different designs, in almost every part of the old world” (Vol. 7, p. 506).

George Willard Benson, in his book The Cross: Its History and Symbolism, writes: “Centuries before the Christian era ancient crosses were in use as pagan emblems. They have been found carved in stone dating back to remote ages” (p. 16).

It is a historical fact that the cross has been used as a symbol of pagan religions going back to antiquity. Further study reveals that the cross can be found in the ancient religions of Babylon, India, Syria, Egypt, Rome and other ancient pagan cultures.

The Bible is clear that God forbids the practice of syncretism—mixing elements of pagan beliefs and practice with the worship of the true God.

Deuteronomy 12:29-32 plainly states that worshippers of the true God are to be extremely careful not to try to worship and honor God in the way that pagan nations worshipped and honored their gods. It is very clear, based on history, that the cross was used to represent and worship the false gods of many cultures and religions.

Cross adopted after the Bible

The cross as a physical symbol is also absent from the writings of the New Testament. The Bible does not say anything about the apostles or early Christians representing their faith by displaying crosses. History records that the cross wasn’t adopted as the institutional symbol of Christianity until about 300 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Encyclopaedia Britannica records: “It was not until the time of Constantine that the cross was publicly used as the symbol of the Christian religion. … Under Constantine it became the acknowledged symbol of Christianity” (11th edition, Vol. 7, p. 506). Constantine the Great ruled the Roman Empire more than 250 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Not necessarily a cross

Many are surprised to learn that the Bible does not actually specify that Jesus was crucified on a cross. Though the word “cross” is used in most English translations of the New Testament, it is important to remember that the New Testament was originally written in the Greek language.

The word commonly translated “cross” in English is the Greek word stauros. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, the word stauros means “an upright pale or stake.” This classic reference on biblical words also states: “Both the noun and the verb stauroo, to fasten to a stake or pale, are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of the two beamed cross” (p. 248). Theologian E.W. Bullinger also noted this distinction in Appendix 162 of The Companion Bible: “Our English word ‘cross’ is the translation of the Latin crux (kruks); but the Greek stauros no more means a crux than the word ‘stick’ means a ‘crutch.’”

Even though it’s probable that Christ was crucified on a single piece of wood without a cross beam, we can’t be absolutely certain what the shape of the device was. Romans used crucifixion devices of all shapes—sometimes they were upright stakes, sometimes they had crossbeams and sometimes they merely crucified criminals on trees. The shape of the stauros is not important. What is important is the meaning and significance of Christ’s death to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind (1 Peter 2:24).

Worship in spirit and truth

The Bible forbids the use of physical icons to worship and represent the true God. The Second Commandment plainly states: “You shall not make for yourself any carved image” (Exodus 20:4). God did not intend for His people to use physical icons, pictures or images to represent Him. Jesus Christ teaches us that, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

Based on the above reasons, members of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, do not use the physical image of a cross as an object of worship or as a symbol of our faith. We believe that we are to worship God “in spirit and truth”—focusing on the spiritual truths of His Word and not trying to represent Him through the use of any physical objects. We focus on the magnitude of the incredible truth behind the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—that because of Christ’s suffering and death we can be forgiven of our sins and be reconciled to God (Romans 5:8-11).”  From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/10-commandments/idolatry-second-commandment/is-it-okay-to-wear-a-cross/

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A Little Child’s Prayers Matters to God 

“God wants a relationship with your child, so teach them to pray.

A young girl looking up.

Teach your children to pray, because they matter to God!

I recently bought a doll for my little granddaughter, Stella Rose. Someone made the comment that it reminded them of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. That comment brought back some awesome memories.

Years ago, when my daughter Michelle was 4 years old, Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were so popular. All of her friends had one, but we could not afford to buy her one. They were $45 at the time, and we could barely put food on the table, so we certainly did not have that kind of money to buy a doll. I told my daughter to pray about it, and she did.

The very next weekend, my daughter had not one but two Cabbage Patch Kids dolls given to her! One doll was given to her at church by her friend’s mom, and the next day she received one from her grandmother; both brand new and different from each other. Now, 36 years later, my daughter still has those dolls. Those dolls symbolize how much God cared about her and her sweet little request when she was a child. I consider those dolls a gift from God.

God values our children so greatly that He demonstrated it: “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me’ ” (Matthew 18:1-5, New International Version throughout).

When people brought little children to Jesus for him to place His hands on them and pray for them, His disciples rebuked them and sent them away. But Jesus corrected them: “ ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there” (Matthew 19:13-14).

He went on to command His disciples: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). God wants a relationship with your child, so teach them to pray.

Here are just a few examples of how to teach them:

1. Start with giving them examples in the Bible of how valuable they are to God.

2. Tell them to talk to God just like they do to mommy and daddy.

3. Teach them through example by praying with them.

4. Encourage them to pray for their friends and family.

5. Teach them to thank God for all the things they have.

6. Share with your child the times that God answered your prayers.

7. Teach them that they can talk with God all day long and that He is always there for them.

8. Remind them to always ask God for protection for themselves and their family throughout the day, and for God to protect their minds.

9. Tell them it is okay to ask God for personal blessing, like my daughter did with the Cabbage Patch Kids doll.

10. Teach them to ask for wisdom. Read them the story about Solomon, and how he desired wisdom above any material things, and God blessed him with both.

11. Most of all, teach them how special they are to God and that He wants them to talk to Him.

12. Teach them that sometimes God answers our prayers in ways we do not think or understand, but He always knows what is best for us.

Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

My daughter Michelle is a praying woman to this day! She knows that God answers prayers. Sometimes not as quickly as with her dolls–her prayers for a child weren’t answered for eight years. But she prayed with conviction knowing that God knew what was best for her.

So teach your children to pray, because they matter to God!”

From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/blogs/a-little-childs-prayers-matters-to-god

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Update:

On Monday, we worked on more light fixtures in the mini-house (guest house),  and on Tuesday we did a bit more down at Roni’s place, now mine, maybe!  Because Roni availed herself of several “free” services like food stamps, and Medicaid, the State of TX now wants their pound of flesh.  But they may decide that the run down property is not worth fooling with, as it is valued at less than $10,000. 

eBay-Maple-treeThe 16 ft. maple tree that was in front of my house has gone. It had grown into my sewer and it blocked the view of my front door, a security risk.  The couple came with a front end loader, some shovels and after about an hour they hauled it off on the trailer with the front-end loader.  Seems bare without it.

On Wednesday, I took my helper to the VA Hospital in Houston, and sat there all day while he had a balloon put in his esophagus for his really bad acid reflux.  Maybe he will be able to eat and keep food down now.  He is as skinny as a rail.  Thursday, he wasn’t feeling too chipper, but still arrived to work, so we did the kick boards on the cabinets that I bought at a yard sale.  We had the cabinets on their tops, and I pried the fiberboard kickboards off the bottom and he screwed real wood ones on. 

The next day, Friday, he was feeling better, so we moved some stuff out of the new workshop to make room for the cabinets.  It took two handtrucks to move the big 5 foot cabinet, and I was at the top of the three little steps yanking on that hand truck for all I was worth, (no, I shouldn’t say that, as I am not worth much), anyway, I pulled on it as hard as I could, and we got it up there.  The smaller, 3 ft. one was easier. Then in the afternoon, as it was ‘preparation day’,  I was cooking, washing my hair, and setting out my clothes to be ready for church the next day.  Then at 5.30pm every Friday everything stops while I watch “Creation in the 21st” on TBN.  This week it was about the formation of the Grand Canyon.

Saturday was the Sabbath, so I had already made some Parsley Butter Mashed Potatoes for one crockpot and some Beef Stew for the other.  Gary at church had given dozens of eggs from his free-range chickens to anyone who wanted them, so I had hard boiled a dozen.  My helper and I had egg salad for lunch and still had plenty left over. So I made some chopped up hardboiled eggs in a sauce, like Eggs Goldenrod, but I wasn’t too crazy about it, so I didn’t take it to the potluck.  I will titivate it a bit to make it more tasty, and have it for my supper tonight.image

imageAlso, on Saturday, I became a ‘grand’ again, I have a new grand-dog! 

Since their great big German Shepherd died, their little Australian Sheepdog has become lonely.  So my daughter and son-in-law have adopted a 6 month old white German Shepherd/mix puppy from a shelter.  He has blue eyes!  They can’t pick him up until next week as he hasn’t been fixed yet.  My daughter asked me what I thought he was mixed with, and I took one look at those ears and said “A donkey”!

The Bible readings were Lev. 14:1-15:33, 2 Kings 7:3-7:20 and Matt. 8:1-17, and the Teaching was “New Life in Messiah”. 

We are a small congregation, and we all are close.  We have a lot of laughs and fun together so the Sabbath is always a great day,

Sunday, April 30, 2017

10 Commandments, Not Nine! The 10 Commandments In The New Testament. Where Are The 10 Commandments? Update.

 

For “Scripture Sunday”:

10 Commandments, Not Nine!

“The 10 Commandments. Valued. Fought for. Revered. And at times even banned.
In early February, the House Judiciary Committee of the state of Alabama approved a proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow the 10 Commandments to be posted in buildings and schools.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Duwayne Bridges, R-Valley, stipulates that the commandments could be displayed unabridged or unrestrained on public property as long as it’s in compliance with constitutional requirements” (huffingtonpost.com).

It was in the same state that, back in 2001, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was expelled from office over a huge granite monument of the 10 Commandments that was placed in the state’s judicial building. Civil liberties groups brought a successful lawsuit against the display; Mr. Moore refused to comply with a federal judge’s order to remove the display, and he was subsequently forced from office.


imageThe 10 Commandments: Ted Koppel famously reminded the 1987 graduates of Duke University that “what Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions. They are commandments. Are, not were.”  He went on to remind the graduating class: “The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify, in a handful of words, acceptable human behavior. Not just for then or now but for all time.”
“The Big 10,” they’ve been called. Koppel was right; they’re not 10 suggestions, but, in fact, 10 Commandments. Yet a Gallup poll dating from several years back revealed that, at the time, 85 percent of Americans believed that the 10 Commandments were still binding, but only 15 percent could name as many as five of them. One can’t help but wonder what that percentage would be now.

Not surprising, then, that one of the Big 10 in particular is probably the most commonly ignored, if not the most widely violated. No. 4! It reads, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work. … For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

This is a command of God! One that was kept by the Savior when He was here on earth, and one kept by the early New Testament Church. It sits right there in the middle of the 10, and it’s still in effect today. It commands us to cease from our normal weekly endeavors from sunset Friday till sunset on Saturday.

Some want to pull out the toothpick and pick out just this one of the 10 Commandments, suggesting it’s no longer in effect, or that it’s now replaced by some other day of the week. They are in error. They overlook the fact that only God can make a day holy, and once He declares it holy, it remains so for all human beings, His very creation. 

The apostle James tells us that all 10 of the commandments hang together, as one complete and indivisible code of law. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:10-12).

The law of liberty.” Not bondage, but liberty. James knew his 10 Commandments and cited two of them—the seventh and the sixth—to show that they are all in effect and all to be kept today.
So what about you? Isn’t it time to apply the 10 Commandments—all 10—in your life and keep God’s Sabbath holy? God Himself requires no less.”  From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/speaking-of/10-commandments-not-nine/

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The 10 Commandments in the New Testament

“The commandments mentioned in the New Testament point clearly to the fact that the Ten Commandments listed in the Old Testament are not done away. There is a greater degree of responsibility we have today to keep the spiritual intent of the law.

YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/iekvgKP_sN0

Transcript

[Steve Myers] "The 10 Commandments can most certainly be found throughout the New Testament. We’ve given many examples over the last few BT Dailys , but one that might really stick in your mind – if you remember the teachings of Christ, there was a man who came to Jesus and he asked Him straight out, “What must I do to attain eternal life?”. And you can find this story in Matthew chapter 19. And this man comes to Christ and says, “What should I do? What good thing should I do to attain eternal life?”. And you know how Christ responded? He said, “Keep the commandments.” And of course, then the question was, well, “Which ones?”. And in Matthew chapter 19, Christ begins a dialogue with this man where He refers to those commandments. He kind of takes for granted the initial commandments of you know, loving God first. He takes the Sabbath for granted because, of course, we’re talking about Jews who kept the Sabbath and these kinds of things. But then He goes right to the heart of those things between people.

How do we treat people? Well, we know the last six commandments deal with those things very specifically. And so Christ kind of picks it up there, and He starts listing the various commandments.

So when you think of the commandments in the New Testament, you might think Matthew, because that first gospel records Jesus’ teachings. And when you get to Matthew 19, and in verse 18, here’s what He says. Christ says, “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You should not steal. You should not bear false witness.” He says, “Honor you father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:18). And so Christ specifically lists those commandments that relate directly all the way back to Exodus chapter 20.

And then it’s also interesting – He goes on, because the young man then says, “I’ve done all these things from my youth. What do I lack?” And Christ comes right to the heart of the matter – that there’s a spiritual aspect to these commandments that we must be living – that we must be breathing examples of the spiritual intent of God’s commandments and His law. So in verse 21, Christ says, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you’ll have treasure in heaven, and come and follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

Now, the young man, he went away sorrowful because he had great riches. But I think the greater lesson of the story is for each and every one of us, we have to strive to fulfill that spiritual intent of God’s law. And so the commandments in the New Testament point so clearly to the fact that His commandments aren’t done away. And in fact, there’s a greater degree of responsibility that we as God’s people have today, that we are to keep God’s spiritual intent of the law. And as we do that very thing, we recognize the commandments are in full force today, and even more so, to the extent that we must strive to fulfill that spiritual intent. And as Christ said, let’s go and follow Him."

From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-daily/the-10-commandments-in-the-new-testament-final-thoughts

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His Commandments Are Not Burdensome

1 John 5:3

image“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

God is love, and His way of life—outlined in His law—is a way of love. The 10 Commandments show us how to love God and how to love our fellow human beings. God gave His laws for our good (Deuteronomy 10:13). They are not a burden, as many people believe, but a delightful way of life that ultimately produces the good things we really want most in life—good relationships, peace and real joy.

John’s statement was also a reminder of what Jesus Christ had told His followers: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).”

For more about God’s commandments, see “The 10 Commandments for Today.”

https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/10-commandments/the-ten-commandments/

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Where Are the 10 Commandments?

“Here are some simple ways to help memorize where the list of the Ten Commandments can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible.

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/pxdGddHRtSc

Transcript

[Steve Myers] Have you ever had a hard time remembering where a certain passage in the Bible is located? That can happen even with an important section such as the 10 Commandments. Where are the 10 Commandments, and maybe, how can I remember where to find them? Well, the 10 Commandments – one place where they’re located is in the book of Exodus. Now one way to remember where they are is to consider when God gave these 10 Commandments. We probably can remember that God gave the Commandments as Israel was coming out from Egypt. They were coming out of Egypt, so that should help us to recognize they were exiting Egypt. That can help us to at least get the book right. They’re leaving Egypt, they’re on the Exodus. That’s when God gives them the 10Commandments, as they’re beginning their march through the wilderness to the Promised Land. So remember the Exodus.

Now, another way to remember it is – how many commandments are there, anyway? Well, there’s ten. These 10 Commandments were very important for ancient Israel. Today, for us, you might say they’re doubly important. They’re very important for us today, as well. So if you take the number 10 and you double it, what do you come up with? Exodus 20. Exodus chapter 20 is exactly where you’ll find one version of the 10 Commandments. As the children of Israel are exiting Egypt, Exodus 20 gives that list of the 10 Commandments.

Now, there’s one other area in the Old Testament that gives that list of 10 Commandments and it’s found in a different book. And there’s a little way that we can remember where this one is, as well. If we think of the 10 Commandments – remember this number 10? Okay, instead of doubling it for Exodus 20, let’s halve it for a minute. Let’s think of the fifth book of the Bible. If we have 5 and 5, that’s 10. The fifth book of the Bible is the book of Deuteronomy. And so that’s the fifth book, and if we need another 5 to add up to 10 – 5 plus 5, we have the 10 Commandments, right? Deuteronomy 5 is where we’ll find that second listing of the 10 Commandments in the Old Testament.

So where are they? Exodus 20, as the children of Israel exited Egypt. Commandments are doubly important for us today, so remember Exodus 20. Also 5 plus 5 equals 10. So remember the fifth book, the fifth chapter, is where you’ll find the summary of the 10 Commandments. I hope that’s helpful. Next, we’re going to take a look at where we can find these commandments in the New Testament. So thanks for joining me.”

From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-daily/where-are-the-10-commandments

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Update.

Well, a few more things were accomplished in the mini-house (guest house) renovation.  A chrome kitchen light was installed. We had to go up in the attic and pull up some boards to do that.  We need to have good light in there to router the Formica that we have glued on the kitchen counters.  First, I had to buy a new router bit.  Then we installed a ceiling fan/light in what will be the bedroom.  More attic floor had to be removed to do that.  We are having trouble with the chrome ceiling fan/light that is to go in the future living room, as one of the brackets broke and it is a special design and not made anymore.  I think it is going to take some “southern engineering”.

On Tuesday I went to a doctor, I call him a chiropodist, but he is known as a podiatrist,   (http://www.opma.ca/podiatryandchiropody) and he cut out three corns out of the bottom of my feet with a scapel.  Now I can walk without feeling that I have big pebbles in my shoes.  My helper went with me as he had to have more blood tests at the VA clinic.  As we were going to Conroe anyway, we loaded the van with a bunch of metal to be recycled, including Ron’s broken washer.  We even had some space to take some more items to The Women’s Center.  That was a busy day!

On Wednesday, we took my two foster cats, Big Old Napoleon and Little Puddin’ to Conroe Petco to be in our SPCA Habitat for a month.  SPCA volunteers go every day, sometimes twice a day to tend to them, and they will get a lot of attention from the Petco staff and customers.  Little Puddin’ is a very shy cat, and this might bring her out of her shell.  If they don’t settle down after three days they will come back here.  Right now, I just have Gertrude here, she has just finished her stint in the Habitat, but didn’t get adopted, and is a very sweet 9 year old kitty. 

More trash has been removed from Roni’s old place (now mine) and a lot of pictures have been taken of her paintings and art work and emailed to her sisters so they can decide what they want sent to them.  There is a mural that Roni painted on the wall, but it is on a big piece of plywood, 4’ x  4’, so the sisters said that I can keep it for myself.  I am not going to do much more to the property until it is my name. 

For the church potluck, I re-cooked Gary’s, one of the elders, brisket.  He had cooked it in a large electric cooker, and it was greasy.  I froze it when I got home, and defrosted it on the Thursday.  I brought it all back to the boil, strained it and let the liquids solidify so that I could skim off the fat.  Then I picked every little bit of fat and sinuey things out of the meat, shredded it, and took it back to the church in a crockpot so he could add his BBQ sauce.  Gary has a very bad knee and I was hoping it would help him if I did his potluck contribution.  He always brings lots of food for the potluck.   He has the chickens that have been eating all my peelings that I save for them each week.  This week he brought several dozen eggs, so everyone could have some.  These are real yard eggs, not at all like the store-bought ones laid in one of those nasty factory egg-laying buildings.

For my contribution for the church potluck, I made Chicken, Zucchini and Quinoa, and Rutabaga in Rosemary Butter.  I also made a Belgian Endive Salad, and then forgot to take it.  The pastor’s wife made a recipe of organinc beef, broccoli and alfredo sauce.  There is always plenty of food left over and it goes to anyone who needs it, including my neighbor who has no income.

The Bible readings were Lev. 12:1-13:59, 2 Kings 4:42-5:19 and Luke 17:11-19.  The Teaching was about The Promise of Jesus, and it was a great day.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Lesson of Leaving Sin. Beyond Spring Cleaning. Update.

 

For “Scripture Sunday”: 

Beyond Spring Cleaning

“It is that time of the year again where we have cleaned our houses and de-leavened them, and now spend seven days eating unleavened bread. I remember when I was a child my mom pointing out that it was nice to have Unleavened Bread at the beginning of Spring because it came right on time for spring cleaning. However, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is much more than just cleaning our houses and vehicles. Yes, it is nice when I open the fridge and it is clean, looking like it is new again, and I do enjoy driving in a clean car. Yet, the physical de-leavening is to encourage us to de-leaven spiritually.

This spring feast should remind us that we are new and unleavened in Christ. Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection gives “us a new birth into a living hope” of “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade” (1 Pet 1:3-4). Therefore, we should be living lives full of joy, hope, rejoicing, sincerity, and truth because we know that the suffering we go through now is refining and proving the “genuineness of [our] faith” (1 Pet 1:7). Plus, this suffering is only temporary, and it will never compare to the joy we will have in God’s Kingdom. However, it doesn’t mean it is easy to do, especially if we are holding onto some spiritual leavening.

We are to celebrate this feast “not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:8).  I know that Paul is talking to the Corinthian church and the problem of sexual immorality that they were not doing anything about. However, I do believe this scripture applies to us also, and it is referring to anything that is not Christ-like behavior. If we are doing something that we know we would not do if Christ were literally standing right next to us, then we probably shouldn’t be doing it.

I don’t want to go through a listing of sins because I know we should all know what is wrong and right, but I do want to share some thoughts. When I was reading these scriptures, the first thought that came to my head is how we conduct ourselves with others and on social media. Maybe it is because it is an election year, but I have really seen some pretty malicious things out there on the internet.  Are we watching what we like, share, and say on social media sites? Are we acting differently than the masses or do we get involved in all the debates and discussions? I know we all fall short of being Christ-like, but we can keep walking towards that goal by not participating in things that we know don’t bring glory to God. Maybe we should de-leaven our “timelines” on social sites.

We are to put away “all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisies, envies and all evil speaking” (1 Pet 2:1). The words that come out of our mouth or onto the internet can defile us if they aren’t words that bring glorification of God or edification of others. You know the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all”? Well, I am realizing how wise that statement truly is, and maybe that is why Proverbs mentions a lot how a wise person is a person of few words. Don’t worry, this is something I need to learn myself. I need to de-leaven my mouth.

imageThe truth is I am realizing how much this feast reminds me to reflect on how to spiritually de-leaven. I don’t beat myself up, but I self-examine in a healthy way. It also reminds me how blessed I am that my Father is so patient and my Savior is so sacrificing. We live in Satan’s world; therefore, sin, lawlessness, wickedness, bad-mouthing politicians, etc., is going to flourish, but we don’t have to act like the world. We can be different, a set-apart people, a remnant, a light in darkness. So, this Unleavened Bread let us remove the leavening of wickedness and malice from our lives and fill it with things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8).’

From: http://cgi.org/news-and-events/2016/4/26/beyond-spring-cleaning?rq=Feast%20of%20Unleavened%20Bread

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The Feast of Unleavened Bread: The Lesson of Leaving Sin
“ Immediately after the Passover comes a festival that depicts the next step in the fulfillment of God's master plan. After God, through Christ's sacrifice, has forgiven us of our sins, how do we continue to avoid sin, since we must go on living in newness of life? How do we live as God's redeemed people? We find the answer in the remarkable symbolism of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

When God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, He told His people that for "seven days you shall eat unleavened bread" (Exodus 12:15). Verse 39 further explains, "And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves."

Leavening is an agent such as yeast that causes bread dough to rise. And the leavening process takes time. The Israelites had no time to spare when they left Egypt, so they baked and ate flat bread. What started out as a necessity continued for a week. God appropriately named this time the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6), or Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 12:3).

When Jesus came to earth as a human being, He observed this seven-day festival—sometimes called the Feast of Passover by the Jews because the days of Unleavened bread followed immediately after Passover, so that the two adjoining festivals could seem to be one—and in fact Passover themes do carry over into the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus observed this festival as a child and later as an adult (Luke 2:41; Matthew 26:17). The early Church, imitating Christ in His religious practices, observed it as well.”

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Update.

The new helper, Roy has been working here for nearly a year now, and as he is a retired contractor, he does know what he is doing, but his health is bad from his previous, and sometimes present, eating habits.  One can’t live on cereal, cookies, and ice cream, so that is why I fix him a nutritious lunch everyday.  But he still isn’t feeling well, and so he will be going back for more blood tests and to the VA’s doctor next week. 

We finally have the front door, storm door and bathroom door working properly in the mini-house (guest house).  We did get the new Formica glued on two sections of the kitchen cabinets, the sink and stove areas, the third counter isn’t built yet.  Now we are working on getting the bathroom exhaust fan installed in the ceiling over the tub.  I need to go to Conroe and buy a new router bit for cutting laminate before we do more Formica, I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t buy one here in Willis.

We have done some more cleaning up at Roni’s old place (now mine).  I have been washing the clothes that were hanging in that dusty place, and taking them to a women’s shelter.  Someone needs to get the use out of them.

For the church’s pot luck, I made a chili-mac type thing for one crockpot and some freekeh and veggies in another.  Surprisingly, the freekek was the favorite. We also had some fishstick things, some beef stew, plus veggies, coleslaw and salad.  The pastor’s wife was there, but still not able to stay on her bad knee for long, so I did most of it for her.

The Bible readings were Lev. 9:1-11-17, 2 Sam. 6:1-7:17, and Mark 7:1-23.  The Teaching was about Getting the Resurrection in Perspective and to be grateful for what He and His Father do for us, and honor them first and foremost each day.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Feast of Unleavened Bread, What the Biblical Spring Festivals Mean to Us. The Feast of Unleavened Bread: Pursuing a Life of Righteousness. Update.

 

For Tuesday, 18th. April, 2017, but posted late!!

What the Biblical Spring Festivals Mean to Us

“The people behind this site don’t keep the traditional spring holidays like Easter. Here’s an inside look at the days we do keep and why they mean so much to us.

What the Biblical Spring Festivals Mean to Us

We remove all leaven from our homes and often recruit our children to help and to learn the lessons of the festival.

What words come to your mind when you think of spring? You may think of things like bunnies and Easter egg hunts.

But those aren’t the things that come to my mind. I think of things like Passover, leavening, deleavening and matzo.

Since these may be foreign concepts or sound Jewish to some of our readers, I’d like to explain what these things mean to me—and the tens of thousands members of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association—the people behind Life, Hope & Truth.

As Christians, one of our distinctive practices is observing the seven annual festivals outlined in Leviticus 23. For us, these are more than just holidays that come around once a year; our lives center on these days.

It all begins with the spring festivals, then moves on a few weeks later to Pentecost. We then push through the hot summer months leading to the fall festivals, and then endure the cold winter, starting all over again in the spring. (Of course, for our brethren in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed.)

That is how I measure time every year.

As I write this, we are gearing up for the two early spring festivals: Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Let me explain what these days mean to us.

The Passover—a memorial to our Savior

For our Jewish friends, the Passover symbolizes the Exodus of the Israelites from ancient Egypt. That’s because in the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to observe this day as a memorial of their deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12:11-14). But why do thousands of Christians keep the Passover today?

For us the events of the Exodus foreshadowed what Jesus Christ would do nearly 1,500 years later. Just as God freed Israel from bondage in Egypt (following the death of the firstborn from which the Israelites were spared by the blood of the Passover lambs), God offers freedom to us from an even greater form of bondage—slavery to sin (Romans 6:6, 15-18). We can only be released from that bondage through the death of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 9:14).

In fact, the Bible directly connects the Old Testament Passover to Jesus Christ: “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7, emphasis added). We continue to keep the Passover with the symbols that Jesus instituted the night before His death (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25).  

We don’t approach the Passover lightly. Before we gather to observe the Passover, we go through a period we often call our pre-Passover self-examination. We examine our lives in the weeks leading up to the Passover to identify and strive to overcome our sins and analyze where we need to grow (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5).

This year (2017) we will observe the Passover after sunset on the evening of April 9. This might seem a bit confusing because technically the Passover is on April 10. In biblical time reckoning, though, days begin and end at sunset. So although we are observing the Passover on the evening of April 9 according to the Gregorian calendar, we are actually observing it at the beginning of the next day, the 14th of Abib, according to the Hebrew calendar.

As Christians, one of our distinctive practices is observing the seven annual festivals outlined in Leviticus 23.The Feast of Unleavened Bread—putting sin out and putting righteousness in.

Immediately following the Passover, we keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days (Exodus 12:17-18; Leviticus 23:6). That may sound like a strange name for a festival, so let me explain.

Leavening is an ingredient that causes breads to rise, or puff up. Examples of leavening are yeast, baking powder and baking soda. For seven days we literally remove all leavened products from our homes because the Bible tells us to: “For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses” (Exodus 12:19).

Of course in ancient times, when people lived in small, simple dwellings, this was relatively easy. Today with larger homes filled with furniture and plenty of nooks and crannies, removing leavening can be a bit trickier!

We search out the big leavened products—loaves of bread, pancake mixes, bagels, baking soda—and make sure those are gone by the time the feast begins. But we also try to be diligent in getting out as much of the remnants, or crumbs, of leavening as we possibly can.

So if you knock on our doors over the weeks approaching April 11, you may find our stoves pulled out of place and us on our knees vacuuming up any crumbs that might have fallen behind them during a year of cooking. You may also see us in our driveways tediously vacuuming out our cars, trying to suction up as many crumbs as is humanly possible.

You may think this sounds (and looks!) a bit odd, but we do this for a reason. The Bible compares leaven to sin (1 Corinthians 5:8). As we clean under our sofa cushions or between the seats of our cars, we don’t just think about crumbs, we think about our lives. As we clean out the obvious things, we think about the very obvious sins that we need to purge from our lives. When we use the narrow vacuum attachment to get the small crumbs out from under our car seats (probably the most awkward place to vacuum with any degree of accuracy), we think about all the seemingly small sins in our lives that we need to search out and purge.

But that’s not all there is to it! The Feast of Unleavened Bread also teaches us to eat unleavened bread for that week (Leviticus 23:6). So that’s what we do. We eat bread that has no leavening in it whatsoever!

What the Biblical Spring Festivals Mean to UsWhat does that mean?

Well, generally speaking, unleavened bread is very flatmaking pita look like a slice of Texas French toast! The most typical kind of unleavened bread is matzo (specially made for this time of year). A matzo looks like an abnormally large cracker—and generally doesn’t win many taste competitions. That being said, it is edible, and there are many ways to prepare it that are reasonably decent. Some people even enjoy the taste. I like to spread butter and melt cinnamon sugar on it and sometimes even make it into a pizza (definitely not Chicago style, though).

But before I get too carried away with matzo preparation tips, it’s more important to discuss what the matzos (and other forms of unleavened bread) mean to us.

We already covered the fact that during these seven days, leavened bread symbolizes sin. Unleavened bread symbolizes the exact opposite—righteousness. The apostle Paul described it as “the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8). It’s all about putting off sin and putting on righteousness(Colossians 3:9-10). It’s about living like Jesus Christ, the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

When we eat those crunchy pieces of matzo, or the occasionally softer homemade variety, we try to think about how our lives should be just like the flat substance we are eating: just as our bread is devoid of leaven, we should be devoid of sin.

Two pieces of a bigger puzzle

The special days I’ve described in this post are the first of seven annual festivals we keep every year. Seven weeks after we keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we will observe the Feast of Pentecost. Then in the fall, we will observe the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day (or Eighth Day). These days are also loaded with meaning to us.

But we will save those explanations for another blog post in another season.”

From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/blog/what-the-biblical-spring-festivals-mean-to-us/

We would love for you to learn more about these days that mean so much to us. Check out our video series “The Feasts of the Lord” at the Learning Center on Life, Hope & Truth.

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The Feast of Unleavened Bread: Pursuing a Life of Righteousness.

“How does God want us to respond to Christ’s awesome, merciful sacrifice for us? The Feast of Unleavened Bread shows us how to respond.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread: Pursuing a Life of Righteousness

The troubles and suffering in this world are caused by sin—the breaking of God’s holy, good and beneficial laws. Jesus Christ was willing to give His life to save us from sin’s death penalty. His sacrifice was the first step in God’s plan to save us from sin and death, and it makes all the other steps possible.

But how does God want us to respond to that awesome, merciful sacrifice? Would He be pleased, having broken us free from enslavement to sin (as the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt), to have us willingly go back to sin again? Or would He much rather have us learn to look at sin as He does and to strive with His help to avoid it at all costs?

The Feast of Unleavened Bread comes immediately after the Passover and teaches us lessons about how we should respond to Jesus Christ’s gracious sacrifice.

Deliverance from slavery to sin

After years of harsh slavery in Egypt, the people of Israel were overjoyed to leave Egypt during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Egypt and its leader, Pharaoh, serve as a symbol of sin and Satan.

But soon Pharaoh pursued the Israelites, trapping them at the Red Sea. He didn’t want them to be free, just as Satan doesn’t want us to escape from his clutches. Israel was helpless, as are we. Our strength is not sufficient.

But God provided the Israelites a way to escape—directly through the Red Sea! And He offers us a way out through His miraculous help. The apostle Paul explained that the Red Sea served as a type of baptism, the beginning of the conversion process made possible by God’s help (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).”

More at: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/life/plan-of-salvation/feast-of-unleavened-bread/

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Update.

With the Passover celebration and the Feast at the church on Tuesday we haven’t got much work done on the mini-house.  Then we spent quite a bit of time gathering more trash, mostly broken glass from the yard at Roni’s place, (now mine) as that trash man will pick it up if we carefully enclose it in the strong feed sacks that we are using. 

Quite a few of us gathered at the church for the service for the last day of The Feast of Unleaverned Bread on Tuesday the 18th, which is also my daughter’s birthday.  On Monday we worked on the mini-house and in the afternoon I went to a doctor all the way down in Spring TX, so I knew I wouldn’t have time to cook.   So I made a Gefiltre Fish Loaf and Matzos Ball Soup on the Sunday before, then stored it in the fridge until I took it to the church on Tuesday.  An elder brought a beef brisket in a crockpot, and we heated up the beef taco left overs from Saturday Sabbath in another crockpot so that there would be no work involved as that day is considered a High Day Sabbath until dusk.  Even most of the salad was prepared ahead of time, just a few tomatoes to chop up.

Once home, as soon as the sun set, I ate some raisin toast and cookies for the first time for a week, as they both contain leavening.  The pastor’s favorite saying was to jokingly say at each Passover Feast of the Unleavened Bread meeting was “Where’s The Cookies?’  But I didn’t really miss them, and I didn’t lose any weight during that seven days either, so it’s not the cookies around my middle!

The Bible Readings were Lev.23:6-8, ( “6 On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  8 For seven days present a food offering to the LORD. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’ ”), and Num. 28:16-25 and 1 Cor 5:6.  The Teaching was about First Fruits, and how the “Root” (Jesus) supports us.

We all had a great time during the service and in the dining hall with our friendship and fellowship, so it was a great Feast’s last day.