Pride

The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” says the Lord .
“Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after! All the men in your confederacy Shall force you to the border; The men at peace with you Shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those  who  eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it.
“For violence against your brother Jacob, Shame shall cover you, And you shall be cut off forever.
“But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall  be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” For the Lord has spoken.
Obadiah 1:3-4, 6-7, 10, 17-18 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/oba.1.3-18.NKJV

Pride.

It pits man against man.

It causes those who we one considered brothers and friends to betray loyalties to anything other than self.

And when self reigns king in the hearts of men, violence towards others is inevitable – as jealousy, covetousness, bitterness, and unforgiveness settles in for a long siege.

But Christ offers deliverance and victory. Our only hope of glory is found by His grace through our faith.

Haven’t we chosen our side?

On one hand, the flame and fire of Christ alive in us, refining us and reminding us,  and shining the light of the Holy Spirit in a fruitful life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,  goodness,  gentleness,  faithfulness,  and self control in our lives today.

Or the destructive fire of judgement set aside for the adversary and those whose pride drives their lives far from living God and loving others,  because the love of self eventually leaves no room for anything else.

“We had hoped…” “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe”

That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.  Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”  Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:13-32 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.24.13-32.NLT

Lord, thank you for coming to us in our blindness and walking alongside us. Thank you for recognizing our confusion and hopelessness and lack of unwavering faith, and reminding us of our foolishness in not trusting in you completely.  Remind us that it isn’t about a religion of measuring our sins or our works, but it. is about remembering your body broken for us in love and raised to new life as a testimony. Please, Lord, reignite that fire in our hearts of gratitude and dedication to your cause and purpose – fan the flame of love in our hearts so that we can see our hearts broken in love for others and raised to new life as a testimony of the power of this Good News that we carry to the world, “Christ is risen! Come, follow Him! Turn away from this world of sin and darkness that offers only wages of death. Know the healing touch of His grace.” Let our hearts and desires be changed so that our lives are walked out, not in burdensome compliance to religious rules and guidelines – but in grattitude for your revealing Godly wisdom that leads to life abundant and eternal,  walking in your will and purpose, living as a testimony through our faithful thoughts, deeds, actions,  and even words. And we are thankful for your grace, not so that we might use it as an excuse to sin, but that your strength, mercy,  and faithfulness would be evident to us even when we are humbled by our own falling short, becoming distracted, losing sight of the opportunities before us to walk closely with you in Spirit and in Truth, worshiping you not just on certain days or certain times, but continually in our lives. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you,  heavenly Father. Thank you,  Holy Spirit.  Thank you,  I AM, for coming to take over our lives and wreck this darkness with your light. Amen.

Doubt and Fools

Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the  mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
Luke 24:9-12 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.24.9-12.NKJV

Doubt.

As we head towards the end of March and towards the first day of April, we get ourselves ready and we expect people to try to trick us and deceive us. It is called April Fools Day, and it is a day that celebrates whether or not people can make someone else feel like a fool. It is a day when lies are subtlety crafted with the intent of leading someone into a trap, so it can be sprung it and revealed as a ruse with a proud,  “Got you!”

I wonder if this is how these men felt when these “silly women” came to them with a “tall tale” about Jesus and the tomb. They examined closely what the women were saying, and they decided that it made no sense to them, so they dismissed it as a trick, as a lie, as deception – even though there was no contradiction in their words and they had taken no effort to investigate for themselves.

Yes, this is how much of the world sees the Child of God. They see these “silly Christians” with their “tall tales” about creation, about a flood, about people miraculously healed, about a risen Savior.

Yes, us Christians have a pretty wild story that leaves no middle ground -we claim that God himself came in the flesh to live among imperfect man, to walk a blameless life of service and love and guidance forothers, to face rejection and scorn in return, to die the death andbear the punishment that evil men deserve, and to rise from the dead to heaven as an example of what lies ahead for those who believe. This is the type of story that either leaves us in doubt and disbelief, or leaves us believing, following, and putting our full trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.

He is either a liar and we are fools for believing,  or He is who He says He is and the world is a fool for turning their backs on the true treasures of His teachings and guidance to chase after the dust and ashes of a worthless and meaningless life. His story leaves no room for waffling, for riding the fence.

So the question is do you believe it to be completely and utterly true?

If so, how is that knowledge going to impact your day? Does it make you eager to go out and share this “tall tale” with a world where many will see you as “silly” and “a fool”?

If you don’t believe that it’s true, have you investigated it for yourself just to make sure? Have you read the Bible and offered your life following in His teachings in order for Him to either prove Himself faithful and true or to prove otherwise?

With a claim that eternity and things greater than our physical existence (like our soul, or essence, our very being) is at stake – who is the fool,  the one who investigates the claims diligently, or the one who blindly dismisses what isn’t yet confirmed?

What is the greatest risk of someone willing to instigate – being labeled a fool? What is the greatest risk of someone not willing to investigate – facing eternal consequences?

Is there anything more worthy of our life focus than demonstrating God’s love by loving and serving others? Even if the wise man says that self sacrifice is foolish, can they not see the beauty in the math – that if by denying myself and helping others, they experience encouragement, love, and increase – and by my trusting in the Lord, I have gained in faith through any sufferings and self denial. For something that the wise man calls altruism and that we call the manifest love of Christ, explain to me how the costs outweigh the benefits?

Lord, help us to be willing to face the mocking perspective of others, willing to be a fool amongst wise men – willing to be one of those “silly folks” that love to talk about Jesus and things they can’t see, touch, or prove – willing to help those who have nothing to offer us in return – willing to offer love and mercy to those who offer mocking and hate and persecution in return. Lord,  show yourself victorious, reveal the beauty of your ways, lay conviction upon hearts, and draw us near so that we might see a revival of our purpose and meaning in this life. Lord, we aren’t just hoping for a some day, one day kind of God experience – Lord, we want to be your body, alive and at work in the world today. Help us, guide us,  lead us, use us – and prove to the world through your undeniable presence, your blessings eternal, the fruit of your spirit rising up as a beautiful aroma that others would long for in their own lives. Not so that others would mimic or honor or praise any of us – but so that they might get to know you. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

Silence

Silence.

Jesus’ friends and family awoke this morning to silence. Their friend, their teacher was not there with them.

The last words they had heard him say were, “It is finished.”

Can we imagine the feeling of loss,  the desperation, the sadness, the disappointment, the confusion that they went through a they mourned His horrible death?

Can we imagine them wanting answers now more than ever – after seeing Him mocked and beaten – after even His closest disciples had hidden and denied Him – and realizing there was only silence?

To everything there  is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what  is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/ecc.3.1-4.NKJV

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.12.15.ESV

Sometimes in our lives, we can face times of darkness where we find ourselves not hearing or knowing the clear direction and guidance that we want to hear from the Lord.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 ESV
http://bible.com/59/pro.3.5.ESV

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2co.5.6-8.ESV

A really Good Friday

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Revelation 5:12 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rev.5.12.ESV

Today we remember Jesus Christ at the cross. We remember some of the many foreshadowing prophecies of His coming that were brought through the nation of Israel –

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?  All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;  “He trusts in the Lord ; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”  they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.  But you, O Lord , do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Psalm 22:1, 7-8, 18-19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.22.1-19.ESV

And we remember the testimony of those who lived and walked alongside this man whose life tore our calendar in two, just like the vail was torn in the temple, symbolizing the veil that once separated us from your Holy Spirit. We remember this Son of Man – who even unbelievers can marvel at His teaching,  His life example, His miracles, and His impact upon History. And we remember this Son of God who believers praise and worship in grattitude for His life that teaches us His life and His way, and that fulfills the blameless and perfect sacrifice that bought our freedom. We remember His body, broken for me and you. We remember His blood purred out as evidence of this new covenant.

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him. At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!” Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
Mark 15:25-27, 29-39 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mrk.15.25-39.NLT

Crucified Savior, on this dark day, it seems crass and opportunistic to think of your death as an advantage to me. And yet, we call this Friday good because through your death, my old self is crucified, put to death, buried with you, and no longer rules. Today, I dedicate my life as an offering to you – as the unworthy, filthy rags that I have to offer a righteous and holy God. Thank you for seeing our heart and knowing or humble intentions of gratitude, and for providing the only worthy sacrifice. Amen.

Monday-Thursday? No, Maundy Thursday.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”  And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.  For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.  For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”
Luke 22:7-8, 14-22 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.22.7-22.ESV

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”  Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”  Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”  For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’  I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
John 13:2-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.13.2-20.ESV

Today,  we remember Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy likely comes from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which means “to beg” (verb) or a “small basket” (noun) held out by maunders (beggars) as they maunded (begged). It reminds us that we are to be servants at the feet of our fellow man, putting the needs of others above our own selfish wants, humbling ourselves before God, treating others as more important than ourselves.

When sharing the Good News with the lost who do not know Him, many times I am taking the stance of beggar, pleading in my heart that they will please take this bread of the Word of God, the example and testimony of His life, and please take this blood of His sacrifice poured out as the costly, necessary payment for our sin so that we can be restored to have a relationship with righteous and holy God. My hope is that they will hear the truth in their hearts and accept it, and receive it, and believe that Christ died on that cross and was raised to life for them.

Today, I am at your feet, dear child, precious friend, beloved creation of Almighty God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and the Lord knows the plans that He has for you, for good and not for evil, for love and life abundantly. When I am physically at your feet as a living servant,  at that same moment, I am spiritually at the feet of my Savior, Jesus Christ, in grattitude as I am annointing His feet with my grattitude through my service to you. Because He tells me that when I serve you, I am serving Him.

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:37-40 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.25.37-40.ESV

And my service,  when offered with that right heart – not out of obligation, not out of religious practice, not out of seeking rewards or exhibition, but out of gratitude for the prize He has already offered me – it is a pleasing aroma of my bringing praise and glory to His name. My life following His example is the living sacrifice that I offer my Lord, out of gratitude for the grace and forgiveness that He has offered me freely – gratitude for the undeserved mercy that He has shown me because I believe and have faith in His promises and His faithfulness.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.  For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
John 12:1-8 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.12.1-8.ESV

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”   “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred  denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:36-48 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.7.36-48.ESV

I do not bring offerings of my own good works to the feet of Christ because I think that they are valuable or worthy to Him – or because I think that they might buy me something in heaven (He tells me that my greatest works are like filthy rags). No, I bring the dust of my life,  these worthless rags of my works, the foolishness of my preaching,  to the altar because even though I know nothing I can offer is blameless or perfect enough for Him,  it is no longer about satisfying a payment due,  it is about testifying about the price already paid.

You see, I am bought with a price that I couldn’t pay – so any of my service and love poured out onto others isn’t because I’m trying to pay what is due, it’s because His payment in love for life is so overwhelming that my cup runneth over,  and I must pour out this love in service to you friend. I’ve tried being quiet. I’ve tried being still,  but this fire in my bones won’t allow it. Because I know how amazing it would be for this fire to catch hold of those still lost in the dark like I was,  because I know how hungry and thirsty I was before I found the only thing that satisfies eternally in Jesus Christ,  my Lord and Savior.

Whose feet are you called to wash today with forgiveness, with love, with encouragement, with help,  with selfless sacrifice of your wants so that their needs are fulfilled?

There are plenty of opportunities, Christian, for you to stoke the flames of that Holy Spirit fire in you through loving service to others. There are plenty of opportunities,  Christian, for you to awake, arise, and follow in the footsteps of Christ. There are plenty of opportunities,  Christian, for the world to see Christ’s love poured out today as you serving them humbly at their feet.

Please,  Lord,  soften our hardened hearts before we find ourselves so separated from you that we begin to wonder whether or not there is even a glimmer left of that flame. Please, Lord, quicken us in your Holy Spirit so that others might see past our imperfections, past our faults, to catch a glimpse of Christ at their feet – so we realize we can come to you from exactly where we are – so that we can know that you are close and not on some far away mountain – so that we can experience the love and the life change that comes from grateful obedience and service that delivers us from either empty religious compliance or outright rebellion. Lord, lead us in your ways, help us to seize the opportunity of seeing your Kingdom come in our lives today, as your will is done. Forgive us for our many imperfections as we fall short of your perfection, reminding us that we are pressing forward towards that upward call. Teach us to love you, Lord. Draw us into your presence. Change us to be more like the loving,  humble,  faithful servant we strive to know in our lives. Amen.

Little Children

Do you ever ponder over the things of God? Do you wonder about His ways? What about the little children? What is their fate? What is ours?

children-are-innocent-childrens-world-16382924-670-405

INNOCENCE

See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. – Ecclesiastes 7:29 ESV

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 ESV

And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3 ESV

But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12:23 ESV

Autosomal-recessive-inheritance

INHERITANCE

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. – Ezekiel 18:20 ESV

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. – 1 Corinthians 7:14 ESV

And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. – Deuteronomy 1:39 ESV

Knowledge

KNOWLEDGE

For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. – Isaiah 7:16 ESV

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17 ESV

Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. – Proverbs 20:11 ESV

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. – Psalm 58:3 ESV

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. – Romans 7:9-11 ESV

Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering. – Exodus 30:14 ESV

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. – Psalm 14:2-3 ESV

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:6 ESV

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. – Romans 7:14 ESV

quote-David-Herbert-Lawrence-this-is-the-very-worst-wickedness-that-90120

SIN

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5 ESV

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. – Ephesians 2:12 ESV

salvation

SALVATION

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, – Romans 4:1-25 ESV

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. – Genesis 8:21 ESV

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. – 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV

Zech4_6

POWER

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 3:16 ESV

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. – 1 Corinthians 4:20 ESV

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, – Colossians 1:11 ESV

That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV

repentance

REPENTANCE / RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT

Ezekiel 18:1-32
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.

“If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

Look! The Lamb of God!

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/jhn.1.29.NKJV

TRUTH
John is preaching and teaching people to repent of their sins, and he is baptizing with water. And he is drawing a crowd around himself – partly because he is a spectacle to be seen, a wild man living in the wilderness, preaching about God to a world of people living quite differently than himself. And his message was quite different than what they were used to hearing:

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.3.7-9.NKJV

And Paul is telling them about the Messiah who is to come.

Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Luke 3:15-16 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.3.15-16.NKJV

Paul has been preaching about Christ, telling them about the coming Messiah, but they do not recognize him on their own. Paul still has to urge them – Behold! Look! Today,  I urge you to Look! See Christ who is at the gate,  waiting to come into your life and lead you along the narrow path to your eternal destination in the house of your heavenly Father.

EXAMINATION
How often in the hustle and bustle and distractions of each day do I losevsight of Christ?

How often do I need to be reminded to look to Jesus?

Don’t we have to realize our complete need for Him in order to cling to Him?

Don’t we need to believe in Him and examine our lives to see if we are living fruitful lives – serving, and loving others as the body of Christ?

Don’t we need to believe in Him and examine our lives to see if we are living obedient lives – repenting,  resisting temptation and seeing it flee from us? 

If we believe, and if we “see” Christ and know Him to be real, shouldn’t we encourage them to “Look!”, shouldn’t we warn them of the dangers of they do not?

HOPE
The good news is that John wasn’t just some nut, some kook, talking about fantasy and imagination and ritual and superstition. The Good News is that the Christ that I know and love and preach is real. The Good News is that your eyes are being opened to see Him even more clearly as you hear the watchmen crying out,  “Look!” And as you seek to find Him, recognize Him, get to know Him intimately as that friend who never leaves you or abandons you.

SURRENDER
Heavenly Father,  Almighty God,  maker of heaven and earth. You are the one true God. You are the righteous and just and merciful and forgiving, You are slow to anger, and you love toy children enough to come in the flesh, to be born of a virgin, to live a blameless life, to teach us by your example the way we should live loving God wholeheartedly, to teach us by your example that we should serve and love others as a good neighbor, to teach us by your example to be faithful even unto death, to die on the cross as a blood payment for sin, to overcome sin and death,  and to demonstrate what lies ahead for your followers by being raised from death into eternal glory. Help us to see you,  Lord. Help us to see a Savior that brings grace and mercy and forgiveness,  and help us to see a Lord that brings repentance and holiness and righteousness. Help us to see a Healer who binds up our wounds and casts out of anxiety and guilt and shame from our lives. Help us to see you as our Redeemer who equips us with the whole armor of God to see victory as the enemy is defeated and overcome in our lives. Help us to see you as the annointing of your Holy Spirit poured out into us, so that we can carry the blessings, the light,  the truth,  the way out into the darkness to those who need Hope and Love and Salvation and Life abundant and eternal. Amen.

FAITH
And once we have recognized Jesus, once we have caught a glimpse and realized the truth and power of change that He affects in the lives of those drawn to Him, once we have cried out to Him from our hearts and confessed Him as both Savior and, Lord of our lives,  once we have found belief – this is the start of our journey, not the triumphant fulfillment. The celebration as we come into the body of Christ is that the work is started in our lives. We have found the narrow gate – now we get to walk this narrow path, hand in hand with our love, our Christ, our companion, our friend.

This narrow path comes with its trials,  with its challenges, even with suffering and persecution for those who will set their eyes fully upon Christ and who will carry the light that we have received into the world. If or eyes are opened to behold the light of Christ’s grace, we are also no longer blind to the blindness of those who do not yet have eyes to see. We are no longer without understanding that in order for others to see, there must be someone willing to cry out about this Good News and tell them,  “Look! Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” They must hear so that they might see.

LOVE
And if we hope that they might hear our warning, it must be our love that demonstrates this truth to them. We do not love just in words,  but we love in action and in truth. If we speak,  but we do not have love,  then we are nothing more than an annoying noise that they will refuse to hear. Because they listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd,  and they know Him because they recognize the fruit of His Holy Spirit. There are many that know the Scriptures, that can quote Truth, that can “provide you with an example in their words”, but there are so few that will “be an example with their lives”.

Christ calls us to the latter. Christ calls us to speak louder with our life example than with our carefully practiced and examined words. We must examine our hearts much closer than we examine what others might think of us. There is so much at stake. Serving the Lord is such a joy and blessing,  and there are so many that are trading in the opportunity of a day spent with Christ for a day distracted by the enticements of the world.

I’m not telling you to act more religious – No, quite the contrary,  I’m pleading with you to see Christ who is closer to you than your breath, who is saying, “Walk with me, child. Let’s spend the day together.”

PLEADING
Loving and merciful Father God, help us to walk in your ways, if for no other reason than for people to no longer see us but to catch a glimpse of you, alive and at work in your children. Help us to praise you not just with our lips, but with our lives. Help us to serve you not just with religious traditions and dogma, but with love for one another, with sacrifice, with renewed hearts and minds. Our works are worthless when we walk under our own strength. But your works are undeniable when your love is poured out through us. Teach us to love you with abandon. As we are sanctified by the Blood of the Lamb, and justified by our faith, and proved by the testing of our faith – use us for the work that you have appointed for us. Lead us in the path and purpose that you have designed for us. Establish and maintain our steps upon the narrow path as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We trust that you will see to completion the work that you have begun in us. Amen.

Perfect Love puts us at Odds with the World

Being a people lover is quite different than being a people pleaser. Truly loving others with our eyes set on things eternal, usually puts us squarely at odds with the “mine”, “right now”, “my way”, perspective of so many. To please them would be to applaud their captivity,  their sickness,  their death,  their destruction – and that is not love at all. Perfect love earns us a place on the cross of persecution.

—-

How can we who love Christ please the reprobate and rebellious, who know nothing of the ways of eternity and life  – who believe their lives are short and tedious, and that there is no antidote, no remedy,  for death. They don’t believe that any man has returned from the grave. They just expect their body to return to ashes and their spirit to vanish like the wind. They expect no one to remember them and for their life to have no eternal consequence. So they say to themselves, let’s enjoy the good things, let’s fill ourselves with expensive drinks and drugs and delicious food. Let’s leave the sounds of our raucous partying everywhere we go, because this is our only inheritance, our only treasure,  our only purpose in this life. And let’s stand and mock and test these foolish righteous men,  and let’s take advantage of the poor,  and the simple,  and the old,  and the orphan, and the widow.

And we will lie in wait for the righteous man,  we will do our best to trouble him,  because his cleanliness, his humility, his love and service to the undeserving and weak is a putrid stench in our nostrils, it is a blinding light that burns our stinging eyes. If such a man is as wise as he believes himself,  and if his God is as faithful as He professes Him to be,  and if this “child of God” is not just a Fatherless fool,  then let’s see his God save him. We hate his life because it is not like ours, his ways are so different than ours that it is hard for us to even watch him as his life seems to be intent on reproving and condemning us without ever speaking a word against us.

We can tell from his life that it is clear to him that we are counterfeits, so let’s test him by setting ourselves in opposition to him,  let’s despise and torture him,  let’s spread lies and rumors about him, let’s test and prove this meekness and patience that he professes to value so highly. If he thinks that a shameful death is,  by his own words, something to be respected – let’s show him our respect for him clearly and openly in the public square, in the courts of man’s justice that we have bought with our silver and gold.

Where are we setting our minds?

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Matthew 16:21-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.16.21-23.ESV

TRUTH
Peter had a heartfelt response to the fearful, impending circumstances that lay ahead of him. He didn’t want to believe that it was true. His reaction was fed by emotion, and he cries out to the Lord with his concern, his fear, his complaint, and even with his own suggestions. He was focused on “my way” and “right now” – on the things and circumstances of this world. He was not yet fully trusting in “God’s will and purpose” for our “eternity“.

EXAMINATION
How often do we find ourselves questioning, “There is no way this can be God’s will. How is this even possible? ” When a parent loses a child, when disease takes hold of loving and godly people, when people overseas are being brutally tortured and murdered because they will not deny the name of Christ – how often do we find ourselves foolishly bold enough to question,  to take the Lord aside and tell Him how it should be?

Or how often are my prayers more about telling God what I want Him to do for me, telling God my will and trying to convince Him of it so that I can get my way right now – as opposed to seeking understanding and strength in order to follow His way?

How prideful is it for me to stand, telling God my way, and expecting Him to react like a genie to my wishes as opposed to kneeling humbly before Him,  asking Him to make His way evident to me, seeking revelation for how I can best follow His will and purpose. 

Where are we setting our minds, on His way, or on our own?

HOPE
I’m so glad that the Bible teaches us about a great number of imperfect people in need and a perfect God who is sufficient to meet that need. I’m glad that it demonstrates to us a perfect, blameless God come in the flesh as Jesus Christ to walk amongst all of the blame worthy and broken people in need of hope.

Praise the Lord, His grace and mercy and forgiveness is sufficient. The Blood of the Lamb completely covers the sin of His children. I’m so glad that he brings hope to us in our imperfection and doesn’t leave us there. I’m so glad that the work didn’t stop at the cross, that it didn’t stop at the tomb, that it didn’t stop when He ascended to heaven. I’m so glad that His work doesn’t stop at our recognizing our need for our repentance, that it doesn’t stop at us confessing Him as Savior and Lord, that it doesn’t leave us where we are.

SURRENDER
Almighty God,  Heavenly Father,  your ways are higher than ours,  and we understand so little of your eternal purpose and plan. But you reveal Yourself to us when we seek you humbly, Lord. We know that you are our only hope, and that when we rely on our own emotional reactions, when we fall into fear and anxiety, that we can quickly make a mess of things on our own. Help us to trust in you Lord. Remind us that you are the way, the truth,  and the life and that no one comes to the Father but through you. Remind us that you are the narrow gate through which we must enter to begin our walk. You are our companion and guide as we race along this narrow path, with you as both Savior and Lord of our lives, with you as both the driving power and the instructing navigator. You are our advocate and our deliverer when we find ourselves in the ditches of life, you repair us and set us back on the path, so that we might learn from our mistakes, grow, and stay ever closer and closer to toy path,  your way,  your purpose for our life. Thank you for bringing hope,  for bringing love,  for bringing life and redemption to us, and for correcting us when we prove ourselves to be like foolish little children. Come, live in us and through us Christ Jesus – come bring revival to our lives. Breathe your Holy Spirit into our lives, awaken us,  quicken us, prepare us,  and equip us for your holy use. Amen.

FAITH
This was not the end of Peter’s story. In fact, much challenge and testing lay ahead for Peter to see God’s will played out in front of Him. And God’s way was beyond anything he ever could have imagined. It led him into a place where God proved to him that Peter’s confidence in his own abilities and strength would fail him. A test was coming that Peter could not pass on His own.

A test was coming when Peter would again stand boldly and say, no Lord, I will not deny you. Still with his mind set upon the things of this world. And the result of this test was that he denied Christ three times, and the result was just as the roster crowed upon his third denial his eyes met the eyes of his Savior and he knew the weight of the guilt that his own strength had not been sufficient.

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Matthew 26:31-35 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.26.31-35.ESV

Like Peter, we want to stand proudly and boldly so that we can take credit, so that we can boast about what we have done. Some of us don’t even want to stand proudly and boldly in front of others, we’re so prideful that we’re content with our own praise – commending ourselves for being “humble enough to not care about boasting to others”. We lift ourselves up on the throne of our own fake humility, practiced religion, thinking that we’ve done something – thinking to ourselves “I’ll never forsake you, Lord!”

Liars, every one of us. We all fall short. Even though we try, even though we strive, even though we deceive ourselves so many times, again and again until He has proven to us that it is only through Him that we will find Stent and victory and redemption – only in our humble and genuine love for Him, for His way. It is only when we have been tested to the point that we have set our hearts and minds on the things eternal, and truly realized that He is our Hope and Strength, that we are humbled before Him, ready to be used.

These trials, they are not to break us – but to change us, to refine us, to remodel us to be more and more like Him. These temporary trials are actually the vehicles by which He delivers our eternal blessings.

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:54-62 ESV
http://bible.com/59/luk.22.54-62.ESV

How many times have we denied the truth of Jesus’ words – by our actions, by our words, by our lack of faith, by our pride, by the many and varied ways that we fall short of the glory of God.

However, I have Good News – this denial was not the end of Peter’s story. Your shortcomings are not the end of your story, child of God. He knows the plans that He has for you, for good and for eternity and for life abundantly bearing the fruit of His Holy Spirit, bringing light into this world of darkness. Your blessings are just up ahead, dear child, through the trials.

LOVE
Peter’s love for Jesus up to this point was strong, was bold, but it is lacking in the humility of accepting Jesus’ word as undeniable truth. Up to this point, it had still been an imperfect love because of that fact. But Jesus want finished with Peter yet.

Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
John 21:2-19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.21.2-19.ESV

PLEADING
Lord, you know everything. You know that we love you. Search our hearts, Lord. Search our thoughts, Lord. And if there is anything getting in the way of us following in your footsteps, Lord, lead us in your way. Set our minds on those things eternal and true and righteous and holy. Set our minds on loving and serving our fellow man. Teach us to feed your sheep. Teach us to love with your perfect love. Here we are, Lord. Send us and we will go. Amen.