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The Fellowship of Believers and the Breaking of Bread

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Pentecost signifies the giving of the Holy Spirit and the founding of the Church, also known as the body of Christ. The below passage records the result of the Pentecost kept after Christ’s ascension:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

–Acts 2:38-42

Did you notice what it said happened after so many were baptized? The newborn church continued to meet together, fellowship together and eat together. Why is this even important?

It is important because brethren not only worship together – they talk, they pray for each other, and they eat side by side. Growing up, brothers and sisters eat and talk together at their parents’ table. Hopefully they pray together at the same table. This is the way it should be. There is inherent equality in this. Whomever we meet in our congregation, it is implied that that person is our brother or sister. We should attempt not to treat anyone differently, or to show partiality to any.

More than just the church that was created and given the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – it is obvious that Jesus had the common practice of breaking bread with many people. When the risen Christ walked with two men he formerly knew on the road to Emmaus, there was a single thing that gave his identity away to the two men who were still in shock about recent events. This came after the two men invited Jesus to eat with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

–Luke 24: 30-35

Interesting. Perhaps Jesus did something that the Pharisees did not do. He broke bread with common people that you might meet.

You might even say that Christ’s disciples enjoyed each other’s company. They did not even need a special occasion to get together and learn about God. Paul obviously followed Christ’s example in breaking bread with many, and on a certain occasion there was a miracle performed after a mishap during a very long fellowship session. Read about it in Acts 20:7-12.

The breaking of Unleavened bread represented Christ’s sinless self and pure sacrifice. This is commemorated in the Passover observance. The leavened bread represents God’s church, not specifically for the attribute of sin, but the leavened bread represents the growth and love of the church. Passover itself is supposed to be a time of humility for the followers of Christ. Christ freely gave and served us, so are we to humble ourselves and serve each other.

“And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.” – Luke 24:30

And finally, we have the miraculous story of the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus and the disciples were going to a remote place to rest and eat, and yet the multitudes followed them. Jesus taught them “many things” and also healed them (Luke 9:11). But as the Good Shepherd – it was against his nature to send them away without food. Read the account below.

And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

–Mark 6:30-44

Jesus Christ himself takes joy in providing for us, eating at the same table with us, and fellowshipping with us. Since He is our standard in all things, this is very important!

More to come on this later, God willing.

 

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Take your Spending Habits back in time 100 years

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Many people want to get better control of their budget and spending in the new year. For many people, incomes haven’t kept pace with the “need” to purchase items to fit their lifestyle.

One way that my husband and I have noticed inflation or decreased spending ability of our money in what we purchase is in the packaging – items such as food are in smaller containers with about the same price as before so you are getting less. Another way we can see inflation is that items are of poorer quality or of a nature requiring frequent replacement – this is called planned obsolescence. If you have a pair of shoes that fall apart as little as a couple months to a year after purchasing them – that is what we mean. It doesn’t matter that you got a “good deal” on the shoes if you have to keep buying many pairs because of their defective nature. Quality – from everything from food to clothes to tools and appliances – has seemed to have a general trend of going downhill.

Another factor we see is that big business has seemed to “gobble up” a lot of small businesses. We have let this happen – by letting our government have a very complex tax code in which big companies can be highly profitable but pay next to no taxes and also when we give preference to a multi-state or multi-national giant corporation over our locally-owned stores. If we had a flat tax system, it would actually be much more fair. We not only have welfare for the poor, we have welfare for the rich.

We think we are getting a good deal by going to the huge stores – but we aren’t. When small and medium size companies are being shafted with unfair tax rates of bigger competitors and with regulations they can’t absorb like many different taxes to file, health insurance mandates and minimum wage requirements not conducive to their type of business — they tend to fold, shrink or move elsewhere. And big business seems more likely to use automation – eliminating more jobs. They will “use” a high minimum wage to get rid of their competitors – and then they will automate! We went to a common burger chain near us that is in nearly every state in the country, and they now have computers at the table to enter your order and pay your bill if you wish! I’m sorry, but this is not a dining experience, and I do not plan to go back.

Another way the common man is being robbed is that you can’t make money on your money anymore — unless you ride the highly volatile stock market roller coaster. Interest rates in banks are deplorable! If you have a 5 year CD, you might make 1% a year. That is losing money! Retirees and those close to retirement used to be able to live off money in CDs – but now they cannot. So even our savings and retirement tends to be at the mercy of said big corporations who care about the bottom line the most, even if they screw the consumer and fail to provide enough family-wage jobs long term.

So now what? What can we do to resist the economic enslavement that we see where we are seemingly led to the shiny objects that we are told to buy, while we don’t seem to be getting ahead? I think the answer is to get back to basics — and embrace the consumption habits of our forefathers. Think Little House on the Prairie, which documented Laura Ingalls Wilders’ parental family of several children surviving summer and winter in frontier life in Wisconsin. Their story took place about 140 years ago, and they not only survived but thrived.

Here are some guidelines for spending that I have adopted, inspired by our forefathers. [Personal note: recently I bought an American made vacuum cleaner, and it met the categories of 1, 3, and 4. I am happy with the product so far.]

  1. Used – buy or obtain used goods. This is just economic good sense. You usually get more “life” out of an object per dollar spent this way. And in a lot of cases things made 5, 10, or more years ago are of better quality. Used items usually are disposed of when someone is trading up to something else. Our forebears would have children wear older siblings’ or cousins’ hand-me-downs. This encourages good traits in us – to reuse, repurpose, and recycle.
  2. Ingredients – buy the components for making something, not the finished product. Is it cheaper to buy a can of Folgers coffee – or espresso drinks for a month? Coffee beans or ground coffee is actually an ingredient, even though it is pretty simple to make coffee. We need to think more this way. Sometimes however buying ingredients will not be cheaper. If I buy cloth and materials to make an outfit for a child, it might not actually be cheaper. But it would be uniquely designed for the child, and I would gain in the experience of making something from scratch. I would have something unique and keep developing my own skills. Think of other areas where you could use ingredients rather than finished widgets — cooking, gardening – seeds and mulch are ingredients to making harvestable crops, or lumber and screws to make a bookcase or item for your home. Buying ingredients is a great way to both be creative and develop your basic skills.
  3. Less than 200 employeesgive preference to buying from a company of less than 200 employees. Isn’t it great knowing you are supporting your local community in a more direct way? Many times when you purchase this way you will look the owner of the company in the eye, and they will seem to have a personal concern for you. Sometimes a local company will have more flexibility with their smaller suppliers, and they will spend more time with you, answering your questions. The mechanic I go to is not a chain and so it is almost always the same people that we deal with every time. I believe they take great care of our cars and I feel like they are honest to deal with, I had quit going to a chain because I didn’t feel like they were honest or even  listened to me to fix my original problem. But even dealing with local vendors – I will still question and occasionally bargain with them.
  4. Quality – buy items that are verifiably of high quality. We have seen a big deterioration of quality in many things, but there are still companies that produce the quality we are looking for at a reasonable price. Sometimes price and quality are a mismatch. Some luxury cars are more likely to break down on you, and some expensive vacuums are more likely to need warranty repair. Sometimes the item we seek may be used or often it may be new. Maybe we are looking into a North Face jacket or want to purchase a new bicycle. Whatever the item — research, research, research! Never rush into a purchase, and only buy things that you believe will stand the test of time. This will often be the one time where I might deliberately purchase from a large company.

I hope these tips have helped! I would personally stay out of the stores that make you dizzy when you step into them. One of the stores I think of is one where the corporate symbol is something one shoots at, hmmm. The other company has a name which involves dropping 3 letters from ‘martial law’. Are they telling us something, like we are zombies or slaves? They might have cheap prices, but sometimes you don’t get what you expect, and sometimes you bring home more widgets than you expect. Do we really need all of that? If we can’t buy truly locally or buy components to make something, maybe we don’t need it.

Best wishes.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2016 in Family, Living on Less, Uncategorized

 

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Abandon “Hero” (Air1)

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2015 in Christian music, Family, Uncategorized

 

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Headship

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” — I Corinthians 11:3

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” –Ephesians 5:23

The Bible does not use the term “head” lightly – usually God’s word emphasizes thinking for ourselves and personal accountability.

It would seem that a Christian husband has more God-given authority and responsibility than the pope or the president.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Faith, Family, The Bible

 

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Thankfulness

Generic thankfulness is just patting yourself on the back. True thankfulness is directed to another person, or to God.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2014 in Family

 

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The Power Hour – a Victory Tool of the Virtuous Woman

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The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 spends her day looking out for her household, both physically and spiritually. She doesn’t always do things the easy way; instead her focus is on doing things God’s way.

Like Ruth, the proverbial virtuous woman wasn’t looking for a rich man to marry or for a life of ease. On the other hand, her hard-working and honorable conduct helps keep her husband on the straight-and-narrow path. In verse 11, it states that: The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” Her husband is a hard worker as well, and being married to her he is not likely to be in modern terms a corporate raider, get-rich-quick schemer, a defrauder, bribe-taker, buyer of lottery tickets, or even a harsh boss.

In verse 10 it says Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” The evidence is that her allegiance and affection cannot be won with mere physical commodities. She can’t be “bought” and neither can her husband. She is on a mission, and by her diligence she has also afforded her husband time to excel and also to develop his own spiritual life. We all know that the virtuous woman is hard-working, but does she also have a secret?

“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” —Proverbs 31:15

The virtuous woman seems to be part of a fairly wealthy household, with evidence that she has the equivalent of employees – or “maidens”, her business enterprises (v. 16 & 24), and that her family is well-clothed (v 21 & 22). While she could choose to sleep in a little, she knows that she has a whole household to motivate and to get moving each day. The virtuous woman takes it upon herself to provide a hearty first meal of the day for her household and for her servants/employees. The meal she provides is the best way to dispatch them all for productive work.

Like the virtuous woman, everyone in her household works too. Paul stated the importance of everyone working in II Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” But this principle is also abundant in the Old Testament also: (Proverbs 6:6, 10:4, 10:5, 13:4, 18:9, 20:4, 21:5, 21:25).

To understand when the virtuous woman would get up, we must know something about Jewish reckoning of time. In John 11:9 we find: “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.” So even though things like sunset would vary quite a lot, day and night were pretty much considered to be split into two twelve hour periods. Our 6:00am would be their “1st hour of the day”. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03166a.htm

So if the virtuous woman rose while it was yet night, it is presumed to be in the time before 6am. This would have been especially important in an agrarian subsistence-farming lifestyle. If she rose at 5am, she can make sure the day starts right. Considering her husband’s other duties (verse 23), it is often left to her to supervise and dispatch the household. Some quiet time for planning of activities is important for any manager. But also the early morning time can be great for a flurry of activity too – like baking, cooking, feeding animals, milking cows or goats, etc. We shouldn’t think that the virtuous woman does all of the work herself. Far from it. She knows that delegating duties is necessary for surviving and preparing for the cold months. But her example is clear for the rest of the household.

The virtuous woman’s “secret” of getting up early is also a modern tool of successful people. It is a developed trait of many leaders. While sleep is important as well, work is best done during the day. Creativity is at its peak for many people early in the morning. And many mothers learn that it is important to get some busy work and organizing done while the children are still asleep so that they can have quality time with them when they are awake. The following article touches on some of the things successful people do early in the day. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2013/10/02/5-things-super-successful-people-do-before-8-am/

The Proverbs 31 woman is a model of wisdom and virtue that we can all learn from. She not only works hard, she works smart. And because she fears the Lord, she does not fear the future. “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” – Proverbs 31: 31.

See previous post on this topic.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Career, Faith, Family, The Bible, Uncategorized

 

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A few takeaways from the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31

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The passage in the Bible about the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31 (see link) http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+31%3A10-31&version=KJV   might seem intimidating to a lot of women. In fact, the woman described in the poetic verse is perhaps so outstanding that she might just be a compilation of the best of the women in the line of Jesus, from Sarah – meaning “princess”, to Ruth – “companion, friend” to Bathsheba – “daughter of the oath” who redeemed herself as a mother and in fact was the one who taught Solomon the prophecy of the virtuous woman (Prov. 31:1).

Some of the exceptional things about the virtuous woman described in acrostic poem:

  1. She is an extremely rare find. v.10
  2. She is unselfish.  v.11
  3. She is always helpful and trustworthy. v.12
  4. She is always busy producing. v.13
  5. She is aerobically fit, walking miles to shop or trade for her family. v.14
  6. She gets up early to manage the household. v.15
  7. She is independently wealthy and buys and sells at her own discretion. v.16
  8. She is strong and not afraid of hard work. v.17
  9. She makes high quality dry goods. v.18
  10. She is resourceful, producing her own fabric. v. 19
  11. She gives to the poor. v.20
  12. She is prepared for anything, including the change of seasons. v.21
  13. She wears beautiful and expensive clothing. v.22
  14. Her husband is a city leader. v.23
  15. She is a successful entrepreneur. v.24
  16. She is both strong and honorable. v.25
  17. She is both wise and kind. v.26
  18. She is prudent and industrious. v.27
  19. Her multiple children think she is a rock-star and her husband adores her. v.28
  20. She sets the standard for excellence. v.29
  21. She fears the Lord. v.30
  22. She has an excellent reputation that precedes her.  v.31

I believe this poetic tribute to the virtuous woman is meant to be little amazing and intimidating. We are not inspired by stories of mediocrity – we are inspired by great stories. I don’t believe the point of Proverbs 31 is to make women want to check off all of the boxes on the list or to make us feel bad if we feel we not measure up. It is instead something to inspire us with the same kind of wonder as we have watching top athletes compete in which one emerges in glorious victory.

In examining this passage of scripture, I do think there are a few takeaways that all Christian women can benefit from:

  1. She is on a mission.  The virtuous woman does the things she does because of her love for the Lord and her mission field begins with her own family.
  2. She gains distinction primarily from the benefits she provides her family. Does the Christian model despise or detract from women who work outside the home? No, it does not. But the primary sphere of concern of the Proverbs 31 women clearly is her household, and that of her husband and children. This characteristic does not exclude the single or childless women. They can still provide benefits to their parental families and to their church family. By taking care of the needs of her own family, the virtuous woman creates a positive ripple effect in the community.
  3. Her chief qualities are strength, honor, wisdom and kindness. The virtuous woman is not pampered and is not afraid to work. She is clearly an asset to her family, and to the community. The virtuous woman passage begins, “Who can find a virtuous woman?  for her price is far above rubies.” This does not amount to a woman who is showered with jewelry by a doting husband. It is about the net benefits that she provides.

The virtuous woman follows Christ, and she lives her life decisively. The only woman in the Bible referred to as a virtuous woman was Ruth, who left her people to adopt the God of her mother-in-law, Naomi. She was called a virtuous woman when she was a young widow without children. Like Ruth, the virtuous women of the Bible and since have faith in the Savior and because of this, a hope for the future.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Faith, Family, The Bible

 

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